In the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals, the Boston Celtics were crowned champions. They went out to compete against the Los Angeles Lakers, but would eventually fall in the eyes of the Western Conference giants.
But, before they could suffer such a mind-numbing loss to Los Angeles, they had to get pass former Cavalier, LeBron James, and his flock of merry men, a task that most felt would be trying for the elder Celtics team. That is until, as Cavaliers’ fans remember it, he made it more than simple for Boston to advance.
Ripping off his jersey as he walked into the tunnel kind of signified his last stand with the organization.
Now, that this is still fresh in our minds, it must have been some of déjà vu seeing LeBron play an unbelievably absent game in the Finals on Tuesday against the Dallas Mavericks.
It is one thing to have a bad game. It is another to have a mediocre game. But, it is entirely unpredictable and unacceptable when a superstar in his peak scores eight points in one of the biggest series of his career. This year’s Finals will define the rest of James’ tenure in the league.
He has been defined by the Jordan standard for years and if he cannot deliver while playing next to another top five basketball player, there is going to be a lot said about the credit he has received since his arrival in 2003. James may be hard on himself because he knows he can do better, but one of the most frightful things about Game 4 was that Dwyane Wade looked disappointed and abandoned by his best friend.
There is no hiding the fact that the two have been great friends since they both came into the league. They make no bones about it in press conferences or in pregame interviews.
Therefore, watching Wade play his heart out and work his fingers to the bone and then look over at LeBron barely shoot, let alone score, was a little hard to stomach. Miami had the opportunity to seal the deal with a 3-1 series lead over Dallas. The Mavericks are the kings of comeback in this year’s playoffs, but had James pushed the ball and handled business like he was supposed to, we would be having this conversation about Nowitzki, the Fallen Hero, instead. But, this is not the first time Cleveland fans were subjected to LeBron’s ill fated attempts in the playoffs. It probably will not be the last.
Great players are going to have bad games. Holding everyone to the Jordan standard just brightens the spotlight as athletes are publicly forced to match or fail his accomplishments. Whether it was against Boston in last year’s semifinals or this year’s Game 4 against the Dallas Mavericks, James checked out. If you deem it unwillingly or purposely, that decision lies solely on your perception of the athlete. Still, let us not forget that one moment does not define a man.