The Juice Bloggers
By: Norman Lee Benjamin Riego
“I’ll be taking my talents to South Beach,” became LeBron James’ most famous, or perhaps infamous, quote as he bolted his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat in the offseason of 2010.
James was the last piece for the Heat’s “Big Three,” with him and fellow All-Stars Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade promising the city “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven championships.” After winning the Eastern Conference for the second straight year, is this the year LeBron also takes a title to South Beach?
The knock on James always was he has no heart. For all the physical talents he possesses, he always fails to come up big in the big moments. Writing a column on who to build a franchise around, LeBron or the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant, CBS Sports Columnist Gregg Doyel writes, “Give me Durant. I’d like to have Lebron; I’d like to have the most talented all-around player in the game, sure. But I’d rather win.”
Considered the best player in the league for his nine-year career as evidenced by his three Most Valuable Player trophies, James has never been to the promised land of champions. His record in the NBA Finals is 0-2: swept by the San Antonio Spurs the first time when he was still a Cavalier and upended by the lesser-favored Dallas Mavericks in the “Big Three’s” first try.
But against archrival Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, LeBron silenced his critics and proved he has heart, at least for now. He averaged 33.6 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists against the #2 defense in the regular season and the defense that has historically slowed him.
Most importantly, with Boston up 3-2 in the series and needing only one more victory to oust Miami, James single-handedly brought his team back from the grave. The first win-or-go-home game was in the Celtics’ TD Garden, where his playoff record is 2-8. LeBron willed the Heat to a dominant 98-79 victory behind his 45 points in 19 of 26 shooting, 15 rebounds and 5 assists. Then in the penultimate Game 7, James again led the Heat to a definitive 101-88 victory with his 31 points and 12 rebounds.
After the Game 6 performance, even Celtics Coach Doc Rivers praised James, “I hope now you (journalists) can stop talking about Lebron and he doesn’t play in big games.” After the Heat’s Game 7 clincher, sports writers not only stopped talking about LeBron and big games, they also finally admitted that he and his team have a good chance to finallly start fulfilling their promise.
A good chance is good enough, especially with the Heat’s Finals opponents. Durant’s Thunder dispatched the three teams who have combined to win 10 of the league’s last 13 championships. If they beat the Miami, Oklahoma City can claim to have defeated 11 out of the last 13 league victors on their way to becoming champions themselves.
Either way the Finals goes, Thunder or Heat, Durant or James, the rest of the NBA should prepare for both destiny to materialize and then dynasty to ensue. What do you think?
Photos courtesy of: NBAblogs.com; sportsbookguardian.com; timesunion.com
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