LeBron was horrible Tuesday night. His team was too, but they’re really only as good as he plays. No one on that team picks him up when he needs it. He’s the leader. It’s like a lesson I was taught back when I was a Bible camp counselor: The enthusiasm of the group will never exceed that of the leader. Well, LeBron didn’t have the enthusiasm or his best game Tuesday night, and his team followed.
So now the media has finally all turned on him. I know he’s always had his critics, but now just about everybody jumped on the LeBron hating bandwagon. As they should have. He looked like he checked out. He didn’t care that this could be his final game in Cleveland as a Cavalier. He deserved those boos and that criticism. And it’s for that reason, I predict a Game 3 type performance from him tonight in Boston. Even if LeBron really was checking out in Game 5, I really don’t think he likes all the heat he got for that performance, and immediately he wants to turn around and prove everyone wrong. I think he’s going to have more intensity than we’ve ever seen from him. The question remains is that going to be good enough for his team to win on the road if Rondo, Allen, and Garnett all play as well as they have in this series?
I’ve always been a LeBron fan. Since he graced the cover of my Sports Illustrated when he was a high school junior, I couldn’t wait for him to enter the league, and I clung to that cover to this very day, as it clings to the wall in my bedroom. But when Cleveland added Shaq, the only two teams I disliked more in the league than the Cavs were LA (Lakers) and Boston. And too many quotes and poor body language from LeBron make me wonder if he’ll ever be a winner, and actually, I’m pretty sure he won’t be. I e-mailed Bill Simmons in hopes of getting mentioned in a mail bag, that LeBron needs to lose the head-band if we wants to be mentioned with the greats, because non of them (save a washed up Lakers version Wilt) wore headbands, and it makes him seem less serious and not as cut throat as guys like Jordan, Bird, West, Magic, and Russell. I don’t think LeBron wins more than 2 titles, save for one scenario: He loses tonight, and then signs with the Bulls to join Rose, Noah, and Taj Gibson to make a very nice core of players that would be together for the next 10 years and contend for the next 10 titles. Cleveland will not win this title, even if they come back against Boston, mark my words. And even if they did, they still have a ramshackle supporting cast put together to try to win just this year in hopes that that would keep LeBron there. I don’t think he stays either way, but I think losing hurts the cause. If LeBron goes to New York or New Jersey, the other two teams that seem like frontrunners, he’s going to teams that are built only to sign him, and he’d be in a situation kind of like Cleveland: being the guy, but having no one who could pick him up when he’s down (Although, if Jersey could land either Turner or Wall, especially Wall, in the draft and sign LeBron, they’d have a guy who could pick him up and could play with him for the next 10 years), and then he’s in the same vicious cycle of dominating the regular season and coming up short in the post season year after year. I’m a Bulls fan, so I want LeBron to come to Chicago, but it would feel weird if he just rolled over and died in this series and then came. I want him to play his heart out tonight like he did in Game 3, but have Boston just outplay the Cavs enough to win anyhow. And then LeBron could come over to Chicago with dignity, and not come off as quite the loser. The reason why this is a crossroads for the NBA, as well, is because there are all those teams out there that created cap space for LeBron to sign with them, but only one team will get him, and then after that it will be a free-agency circus. We’ll see some crazy stuff go down, and what team LeBron lands on will greatly affect the landscape of championship contenders in this league for the next decade.
So tonight, expect LeBron to be fantastic, but I’ll be rooting for Boston to win, and hopefully that means a win for the Bulls even more so.