Three losses in the NBA Finals has pushed LeBron James into uncharted waters in his quest to join the all-time greats atop the NBA’s Mount Rushmore. This latest loss puts his current finals record at 2-3, but the losing record isn’t the biggest blow to LBJ right now..it’s the way the 3 losses have happened. LeBron can undoubtedly escape his losing record but there’s no escaping his disappearances in the losses.
People are likely to omit his first loss with Cleveland and rightfully so, but ’11 & ’14 are two kinks in the king’s crown. First off, I will preface my assessments of LeBron with the following statement: I am not a LeBron hater. It’s time for people to criticize this guy on the level of an all-time great rather than making a host of excuses. The biggest excuse for LBJ’s latest failure is that he didn’t have any help…really? So you’re going to tell me that 29 year old LeBron James, who’s supposed to be the greatest player in the world, the Michael Jordan of our era needs more help? More help than the future hall of famers DeWayne Wade & Ray Allen? More help than the perennial all-star Chris Bosh? You mean the team that he orchestrated, the EXACT team that won a year ago wasn’t enough to get the job done? I mean, if LeBron extremists simply conceded that their king was ousted by a better team then I could respect that a lot more. It’s bad enough that the guy had to stack the deck to win a championship and it’s asinine to think that he had no help. To be fair, D.Wade was battling knee issues but what was everyone else’s excuse?
People are just afraid to admit that LeBron came up small for the second time. The cramps in game one are excusable to an extent, game two he was sensational but games 3-5 are mind numbing. Game 3 he was outdone by Kawahi Leonard, game 4 & 5 he was a virtual no show. There are those who will disagree with me and point to the numbers but there’s a larger story to tell than the numbers will indicate. I mean, yeah he averaged 28 points in the series and scored 35 in the close out game but how inflated are those numbers actually? How meaningful are his statistics? Did any of those points stop one of those extended Spurs runs? No. Did they shift momentum? No. In essence, his bloated stat line was all meaningless.
Let’s use the most egregious as an example, game 3 was a huge indicator that LeBron can NOT be placed in the conversation with Jordan or even Kobe. Game 3 was a game set up for LBJ to take over and put his stamp on the series and place fear in the heart of the Spurs. The Heat were coming home from stealing game 2, LeBron had a sensational game and momentum was clearly on their side but what happened? The best player in the world was missing from the start. No sense of urgency, no killer instinct, nothing. Only thing we got from LeBron was “stomach issues” and nothing more. We want to compare LeBron to Jordan and say that he’s better than Kobe but the guy can’t even fight through stomach issues. Do we want to talk about the flu game? What about Kobe playing through torn tendons in his fingers and a broken finger? That killer instinct, that unquenchable competitive fire doesn’t exist in LeBron. He constantly needs adversity or “haters” to motivate him to play at the level he’s capable of every night.
The same guy who spewed off “not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5” is now appreciative to have played in five NBA Finals regardless of the outcome. If LeBron were to retire today, he would be known as the guy who was satisfied with second place. If we’re going to praise LBJ as an all-time great for his success, then we need to criticize him as an all-time great when he fails rather than making excuses. I’m sure he’d thank us, and who knows, he may use the criticism as “motivation”.