This is a segment from CBS in Dallas from Wednesday night. In addition to chronicling the series and giving you a couple quick hits from Dallas players, there’s a shot of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James faking a cough. “Did you hear that?” Wade asks.
Sure, James posted a triple-double on Thursday night. He came out strong and facilitated things well with Wade sidelined because of a hip injury. However, James’ run of difficult fourth quarters was extended (he’s scored 11 points in the fourth quarters of this series). He missed several open looks late and watched as Jason Terry went nuts offensively. There’s no claiming a brilliant defensive effort following this game.
James Tweeted that “(Game 5) was now or never.” Checking out, vanishing, whatever you want to call it, his aggressiveness waned once again as the game wore on. The fact that the Heat had him on the court for 46 minutes certainly played a part. He’s logging some ridiculous minutes in this series. Still, fans and pundits want to see more of the attacking James, the dominant James. Wade’s return to the court put James back into a secondary role on the offensive end.
Again, there’s an interesting separation occurring. The traits and abilities that make James one of the most interesting and special athletes of this era are the traits that have fans and media up in arms. And that split, of course, is like giving gasoline to LeBron detractors. He’s been unselfish, trying to pick his spots, make plays for others and take advantage of mismatches on the court (like that which Wade has had for much of the action).
Unfortunately, this isn’t about absorbing a loss or two in an 82-game regular season. This is for the first of the “not five, not six, not seven …” Well, you remember the speech.
Does it mean that you force up 35 shots and try to single-handedly? No. But I would have banked on him seeing at the free throw line more than twice given that he spent such a large span handling the ball.
And remember this … you’re still looking at hotly-contested, last-minute games despite his lack of production in the fourth quarter. Some things can’t be measured in the box score, as we know well.
— You may want to see him lose because of “the decision” or you’re from Cleveland.
— Perhaps you admire his move to Miami and recognize that you’d have bailed to South Beach to go work with your friends as well. You just didn’t want to see him win immediately.
In the end, you just want to see the superstar go down gunning if he’s going to lose. You want LeBron to have the ball in his hands.
But just remember that some of the most memorable and significant moments of Michael Jordan’s career came when he embraced the role of facilitator. Other players need to hit shots, too.