I was living in Gainesville at the time. Brotha E and I had ventured out to our local pool hall to toss back a few, delicious, bourbon cocktails and watch the NBA Playoffs. The year was 2007; it was the last day of May.
That was the night when even the non-believers looked on in awe.
LeBron James had scored his team’s final 25 points, and 29 of its last 30, beginning with two minutes left in regulation and into both overtimes. The Cavaliers emerged victorious. LeBron finished with 48 points. Jaws dropped nationwide. We had our next Michael.
A lot has happened to LeBron since then, including three MVP awards, two Finals losses and one rather unpopular decision, ramping up criticism to all-time highs and leaving basketball fans wondering where that man had disappeared to.
Perhaps, we were spoiled. Perhaps he set the bar a little too high, but we all know what we saw that night. We don’t expect him to do that every time out, but we do expect conviction, consistency.
We got it Thursday night. LeBron James gave us perhaps the greatest individual performance we’ve seen in an important game since that night in Auburn Hills.
From the opening tip, LeBron lit up Boston like Faneuil Hall at Christmas time. He never smiled. He was stoic, stone-faced, business-like throughout. Just another day at the office, assuming dropping 45 points on one of the best defensive teams in the league is included in your job description.
Prior to Game Six, LeBron’s epitaph had already been written. We discussed how another Heat loss would tarnish LeBron’s legacy, which Heat player was most expendable in the off-season and whether Coach Spoelstra would soon still have a job. We did so prematurely. No fat lady sang Thursday, probably because LeBron kept ramming jump shots down her throat to keep her quiet. 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists, numbers that haven’t been tallied in an NBA playoff game since Wilt did so nearly fifty years ago.
And so we have a Game Seven. Boston fans can’t feel confident going into this one. Twenty-six years ago, a baseball rolled slowly between Bill Buckner’s legs, leading to a Game Six loss. The Red Sox, and their fan base, knew they still had a Game Seven to play, but nobody felt good about it. Similarly, these Celtics, while perfectly capable of winning in Miami, can’t possibly think that’s going to happen. Not after LeBron James proved that he simply isn’t human. Not after he finally channeled that inner Michael once again, what so many of us have been waiting so long for.
I wrote at the beginning of these playoffs that this post-season was about one man and one man only: LeBron James. I firmly believed that and still do. Or perhaps I was just setting myself up for a follow-up piece. Well, here it is.
LeBron’s magic number is now five, as in five more wins, but that all begins with one, in Miami, Saturday night. If he doesn’t get that one, nothing else will matter.
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Great article. Good writer.
Well, Jeremy, thank you for the kind words.
LeBron’s performance tonight was kind of easy to write about.
LeBron’s line Thursday night:
Look , I look at the LBJ saga sincde his entrance (2003) to the NBA and prior to that with the print and tv media coddling the kid ! It’s going on now and will continue that way ’til he leaves the game under his ‘own steam .
We can anoint him all the things we want …… but ’til he wins that elusive first title there’ll be many that’ll continue to qestion his “so-called greatness ” .
Sorry I missed it, but I was busy watching the Rays not get swept by the Yankees. So what’s up brother, you headin’ to South Beach or what? Cheers!
Gloria James is said to be so proud of her son’s performance that she recanted her earlier statement and cliams .
Game 7 should be a real doozy . Care to offer an opinion as to how it’ll all end ?
Pacqauiao Bradley this Saturday night , meanwhile Money Mayweather is servin’ time in a Clark County , Nevada facility . Boxing has sank to an alltime low .
So Tony Sparano say he was brought in by the Jets to bring some discipline to that team . Doesb> anyone on the roster much less the coaching staff know how to spell the word “Discipline” ?
Rex Ryan was said to be chuckling in the background when he heard his offensive coordinator’s comments .
The more I see Goodell , the more I know he missed his vocation in life ! His a$$ should be either in Congress or the Senate along with the other morons there ! If he continues to goad the NFLRA (referees’ union) then expect them to retaliate in kind . Goodell has learned nothing from the NFL’s run ins with the NFLPA (players’ union) .
He was spectacular last night and really shook off my negative bias towards the guy. He should play with that attitude every night, imo, but still he’s paid his penance for his hamhanded move to Miami. Boston couldn’t do anything with him. They looked old and tired, as did the Spurs in their final game with OKC. Looks like the new school has really come into its own. Changing of the guard and all that. I still prefer Durant to LeBron, and OKC to Miami (will never root for a team Battier’s on), but LeBron’s ok in my book now, not that it matters.
I think Lebron finally realized he just needs to play his game and nobody can stop him. He doesn’t need to make teammates better just dominate the game like everyone knows he can. I guess it helps when everything he throws up goes in. I wanted to make your chat, but ended up at the bar with a buddy instead…
After last night’s performance, do you think that will happen this year?
It was the best individual performance, in a game of any significance, that I’d seen in years.
He was literally unstoppable, where everything he shot, was going in.
Everyone in the building knew it… and knows it going into Game Seven.
I don’t see how there’s any way the Celtics can go into Miami and win that Game Seven, but then again, I didn’t see, after what they had showed me so far, how Miami could have gone into Boston and won Game Six.
Re: Boxing, Al, I’ll have another piece coming up soon about the sweet science that you’ll appreciate, and most likely agree with.
I agree with you that we’re definitely seeing the evolution of a rivalry here.
I would think that a LeBron-Durant Finals would warrant insane ratings.
And why LeBron doesn’t show up with that determination every night is the million dollar question.
Again, that’s the million dollar question. Why doesn’t he do that more regularly? Or is he and we’ve just grown so accustomed to it that we expect more?
I mean, the guy’s averaging 31, 10 and 5 for the playoffs, while shooting 51%. Last time I checked, that’s pretty good.
So why are we only paying attention to the shots he misses and not the ones he makes?
‘I’m over boxing as my passion is now towards the genre of MMA under the UFC flagship !
Game 7 in Miami ? Who know ? LBJ could twist an ankle gettin’ out of his bath tub and that could be it for the Heat .
Gabriell Union , I think is the reason why Wade’s game has been so topsy turvy in this series !
Whatever she’s doin’ in the bedroom it’s been killin’ D Wade’s game in against the Celtics .
Price lowered the boom on the Yankees last night ,
And I responded to your comments about the Mets , The NL East is woefully inpet this year .
That’ll be exactly the point of my piece on boxing. You’ll see.
And you’re right, perhaps D Wade should abstain until it’s all said and done, as tough as that might be with Gabrielle Union around.
You’re right, Price was money last night. The AL’s first eight-game winner and a 2.40 ERA? That should be good enough to start the All-Star Game, no?
Good to see him having a nice bounce-back year.
Personally I used to look for his flaws, but over the past year or two I think I’ve learned to just appreciate his greatness when he decides to give it to us. I actually feel a little sorry for him, well, as sorry as you can feel for someone as rich as him…
I still think LeBron’s searching for an identity.
Good cop? Bad cop? Somewhere in between?
Does he relish being a villain? I think he’s tried to embrace it but it really doesn’t fit.
He’s good. He’s real good. He’s the best we got and like Uncle Ben told his nephew Peter Parker, with great power, comes great responsibility.
I think what we need to start asking ourselves is not how we’ll react if LeBron doesn’t win a title. We’ve beaten that horse to death.
I think we need to ask ourselves how we’ll feel about him when he wins his five, six or seven titles that he originally promised.
I caught the Bradley Pacquiao fight and I ” called it right off the bat ” . To me the travesty wasn’t the decision but actual officiating and so-called qualifications of the judges in question . It was a damn joke from the moment the bell rang . But that’s what you get in the sport nowadays …….. and add in the fact that promoter Bob Arum (promoter of the bout and Pacquaio’s promoter & de-facto manager) not unlike his main rival Don King are so $$#king corrupt to begin with ! So all of the b$$ching and whining is simply crocodile tears on their part . The WBO whose title (welterweight) was on the line should conduct an investigation and not leave it to the Nevada State Athletic Commission . I mean that’s the same body who basically told (their) Nevada State Justice System ……… give Mayweather a slap on the wrist , allow him to fight and then we’ll send him to jail for 5 months but he’ll only serve at best 90 days .
Price was awesome and the Rays swept the Marlins in their interleague series against the Marlins . Nice !
As to this NBA Finals here is to hoping that it becomes an instant classic . The game needs it in light of some poor Finals in recent years .
His greatness as a player isn’t what’s in question. His ability to deliver a championship is.
He’s O’fer 2 in the Finals right now. 3 strikes yer out. …Wait, wrong sport.
Bottom line is, as impressive as this game was, it won’t mean much if he comes up short of a ring again.
My take on boxing and the Pacqiuao-Bradley debacle is up.
And yes, a nice little roadie for the Rays. Three straight wins after taking their talents to South Beach. I hope they caught some of the sights and sounds while there. They deserved to. From what I know about the guys on that team, I’m pretty sure they had their fun.
And to be honest, I’m actually quite surprised at the number of people that confidently predict OKC to best the Heat.
I agree with those statements, Bleed. Much, perhaps not all, but much of the criticism is founded.
I still see him winning a title this year as the natural progression of ,and as fatalist and ridiculous as that sounds, you and I both know, that’s how the NBA kinda works.