My name ain’t Jay, but I hope I can sound off on hoops as good as my man can.
Being tied 2-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals is a good spot to be in when you’re coming home to play game five. But if you lose game five and have to play the elimination game on the road, it’s nearly disastrous. That’s how quickly things can change in the NBA playoffs. Not even the good job, good effort kid can make you feel better.
While “The Decision” may have made hating LeBron mainstream, the naysayers were starting to come out of the woodwork three years earlier when the heavily favored LeBron-led Cleveland Cavaliers lost in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Orlando Magic. It was during that playoff season where the dream Lakers vs. Cavs finals was about to come to fruition. We wanted to see it – Kobe vs. LeBron. That was the season where it seemed LeBron was going to will his team into the finals no matter what. The best players usually do. At least we remember it that way. But he had a very average game at Orlando and the Magic won by thirteen points in the deciding game. Faced with another game six playoff elimination the following year, James had a much better game, netting a triple double against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, but his team lost again. He threw his Cavs jersey off on his way to the locker room and the tone was set.
Just a couple months later, he was a member of the Miami Heat. Being the biggest free agent in pro basketball history brings a spotlight. Choosing to leave your prior employer on national TV without first telling them brings a spotlight. Gloating in front of your fans about how many championships you were going to win and getting all the way to seven and not stopping, well, that just places a bullseye on your back.
Re-watching the video is hard. You can see Pat Riley sitting in the crowd half-smiling listening to LeBron’s claims. You want to take the words back out of his mouth for him. You want to tell him, “Be humble, LeBron, be humble.”
If LeBron is going to step outside of the nasty shadow he’s cast over himself, it’s going to start with game six in Boston on Thursday. The Celtics need only one more win to get to the finals, for a chance to win an unprecedented 18th championship. LeBron’s going to have to twice do what he’s never done before; win elimination games. Or else he’s going fishing.
In that same infamous video in which LeBron declared multiple world championships, he also said that he, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh would challenge each other so hard in practice that the games would be easy. Well, that was a lie. And unless he can back up his words and start that title run now, King James will just be known as the Lyin’ King.