South Beach didn’t expect this from LeBron James, Dwyane Wade
Reporting from Miami
Now for something completely unexpected they can bring to South Beach...
A 3-2 deficit in the NBA Finals!
Like Icarus after flying too close to the sun, the Heat’s chartered jet, Hubris One, rocked and rolled home from Dallas, as if on wings of melting wax.
Happily for the Heat, it’s not dead yet.
Happily for the Mavericks and fans in 49¾ states — all of them except South Florida — it’s the next best thing.
One more loss and the Heat is in the seventh circle of sports Hell, joining other titans who fell, to wild rejoicing, like the 2004 Yankees, who blew that 3-0 lead over Boston.
You think Dallas owner Mark Cuban isn’t ready for his closeup?
Thanks, Commissioner, we’re delighted to have brought our talents to South Beach!
As to the chances it actually happens...
It’s a make-or-miss Finals with the team with the best three-point percentage winning every game.
Miami has two superstars, but its shooters can’t hit water from a boat. If Mario Chalmers weren’t 12 for 28 on threes, it would already be gonzo.
Dallas has many more shooters, but, of course, trails by one superstar, at least in the first three quarters.
Typically, the media have moved past the question of where LeBron James goes in fourth quarters, in which he has 11 points, to, who said he’s so good in the first place?
CBSSports.com’s Gregg Doyel asked James about “shrinking” after Game 3 when Miami led, 2-1.
After Game 5, Doyel wrote:
“Maybe LeBron James isn’t a superstar.
“If the 2011 NBA Finals were the only games I had seen him play, that would be my conclusion.”
Maybe Doyel isn’t too swift — or, is not big on nuances, like all the other games of James’ eight-year career.
If those were the only paragraphs I ever saw Doyel write, that would be my conclusion.
Of course, it’s a no-nuance age.
Here’s what’s going on:
The Heat is one of the few teams that have had to designate a go-to guy nightly, like the Elgin Baylor-Jerry West Lakers or the Julius Erving-George McGinnis 76ers.
Like Erving and McGinnis, James and Wade aren’t complementary, so it’s my turn or your turn.
For most of this postseason, it was James’ turn:
Game 2 vs. Boston: Scores 12 in fourth quarter in 102-91 win.
Game 4 in Boston: 11 in last 6:50 of regulation sends pivotal game into overtime, where Miami wins.
Game 2 in Chicago: nine in fourth quarter, including the three putting them ahead to stay, tying the series, 1-1.
Game 3 vs. Chicago: Eight in last 5:07 as they go up, 2-1.
Game 4 vs. Chicago: 13 in fourth quarter and overtime as they go up, 3-1.
Game 5 in Chicago: 12 in last 7:43 as they come from 10 behind, putting them up to stay with a 20-footer, blocking Derrick Rose’s three as time runs out.
Wade, meanwhile, was bristling at nightly questions about hiding an injury.
With Coach Erik Spoelstra trying to establish him early, Wade scored 22-36-29-32-23 in the Finals.
As a result, James’ attempts drop to 16-15-14-11-19.
When James makes jumpers, he’s unguardable, but he hasn’t lately, looking as if he’s feeling the pressure.
I just asked 12 astute NBA writers, or at least ones in my address book, to rank the 1-2-3 active clutch players.
Bryant got nine No. 1 votes and one No. 2, James nary a mention.
Then I asked whom they’d pick to build a team around.
LeBron was the only player mentioned on all 12 ballots, with nine No. 1s, two 2s and one 3.
Of course, these days, we only do a few plot lines:
Some Star is Soft or Choked (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Chris Bosh, Pau Gasol.)
Some Celtic or Knick Reenacts Willis Reed Limping Out for Game 7 in 1970 Finals (Rajon Rondo, Amare Stoudemire)
Someone (James, Rose) Is the Next Michael Jordan.
Someone (James, Rose) Isn’t the Next MJ, after all.
The shrank-at-the-end standard is the point of the spear of the New Madness in NBA coverage as all media platforms clash on one battlefield, the Internet.
We used to wait until the season ended to make our stupid global judgments.
Now there’s a new one every day, across journalism. That’s why our political process, as Jon Stewart put it, is “us through a fun house mirror.”
My favorite assault was Huffington Post’s “LeBron James Shows True Colors in Game 4 Disappearance.”
“Before I began my crucifixion of LeBron James, I decided it was only fair to go back and watch the tape,” wrote Jordan Schultz.”
From Schultz’s bio, I learned he started “with the Los Angeles Times, leading their 2008 NBA Draft coverage.”
Imagine my surprise. I thought I led our coverage.
I emailed Jordan, who said he was an intern who did the live blogging and would adjust his bio.
Happily, at least for me, whatever happens to James, I’m still here.
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