The big game tonight is all but being viewed as LeBron against nine other guys (and four of them are his teammates).
Or it’s LeBron-on-12, if you count the refs (and he does.)
Should the Heat lose to the Spurs in Game 7, King James will be seen as a failure, a loser with a 1-3 record in The Finals, certainly no Michael Jordan.
He can post another triple-double tonight, but if Miami falls short, it’s as if his entire legacy is in jeopardy.
It’s all utter nonsense.
The irony: Even as great as he is, James tries to make basketball a team game, the way it was intended. But lose to the Spurs, and various media members and fans and Twitterites will heap the blame squarely on him.
Contrary to millions of words written and broadcast, LeBron does not fly solo.
A reason the Heat are still alive is because Chris Bosh battled for a rebound, threw it to Ray Allen and Allen made a tying 3-pointer to force OT in Game 6. But if Allen had missed, it would have been LeBron’s fault.
Dumping on James is the easy way out, the lazy way out, especially for the media. It wants everything to be black or white, all or nothing, goat or hero, when it never is. Done it myself.
The Spurs are actually proving the point for him.
The Heat have the edge in talent, but the Spurs have played better as a team….until they unraveled late in Game 6. And the best thing for the Heat and LeBron is that the Spurs have stood up to them and shown sensible people how difficult it is to win a championship -- no matter if you have Superman and his Super Friends on your roster.
I read something from a national writer who sympathized with LeBron’s thankless plight. He wrote that blaming James is not fair, but, well, that’s the way it is.
Why does it have to be that way?
Last I checked, LeBron won a title, his first, with the Heat last season. It didn't let him off the hook. Apparently, only two titles or more will validate his Miami mission. How silly. (Of course, the Heat’s original off-the-cuff promise of winning one…two… three…four…five….six titles created pressure and scorn, even if they were playing to the crowd.)
If superstars are now measured by titles won like never before, you must remember that LeBron got a late start. He spent seven seasons trying to will the Cavs to the promised land, putting in a pretty lengthy shift.
James wasn't surrounded by the kind of talent that decorated champions Bill Russell and Magic Johnson and Jordan and Kobe enjoyed until he came to Miami. Then he suddenly was surrounded by so much talent that he couldn't possibly lose. Maddening. No?
The best player is always the most scrutinized, and James began his quest in Miami as a villain. He bolted Cleveland without showing much class and has said since then he regrets the joint ESPN/Boys & Girls Club news conference in which he preened, “I’m taking my talents to South Beach.”
His exit to form the South Beach Super Team created such a furor that he has long given up trying to please everyone or win them back to his side.
James was asked if he needed another title as an ultimate stamp of approval.
"I mean, I need it because I want it," James said. "And I only came here -- my only goal is to win championships. I said it; this is what I came here for. This is what I wanted to be a part of this team for. As far as validation of me being here, I don't really I don't think so. That side doesn't really matter to me about what validates us coming together. The camaraderie and the friendship and the teammates and what we've done over the three years can never be replaced."
He gets it. Not everyone else does.
Says LeBron, “I'm going to leave everything on the floor. Whatever happens, happens. I'll be satisfied with that.”Brian Schmitz is the Magic Insider for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@magicinsider.