Thursday, June 16, 2011

LeFail

This article is about two fails, the fail of LeBron James and the fail of me, The Sports Guru.  Jame's fail was really the only thing that stopped this NBA Season from being a complete bust for me.  I mean I got a couple of things right.  The Pacers made the playoffs, Derrick Rose was my dark horse for MVP, Carmelo Anthony ended up a Knick and Miami failed.  I also thought that both Boston and Chicago would be able to beat Miami, the Lakers were the only threat out West and would 3-Peat and I thought Portland would beat Dallas in the first round.  The last two years I've done a pretty good job of predicting what's going to happen and I fell way short of the standard I set for myself.  Am I upset? at first a little but then I thought about it and realized that aside from my beloved Lakers getting swept, this was one of the most enjoyable seasons for me as a fan.  Sure I love being right but I think I would become very bored of sports if you could predict everything.  Who out there really thought that Dallas would win the title?  There were a number of other teams I thought would be there and who I would rather have there but I can't tell you how happy I am they won.  Not just for beating Miami (although that is a huge, HUGE plus) but for all the players on that roster who were told they were old, washed up and soft.  Vindication is a very sweet thing and it allowed the Mavs to enjoy their win that much more.  Even if Miami wins 5 straight titles will anyone consider them vindicated? I doubt it.  Even when they win their first title together (as much as I hate so say it, it will probably happen) who is going to look at it as a legitimate title?  Especially after 3 straight pathetic excuses for games that LeBron gave to us.  That is the difference between my fail and LeBron's.  I know that I put everything on the line, I could have studied more, really immersed myself into the game more but I know to do that more for this coming season.  I will learn and move on and become better, LeBron I don't think will.  About 3 years ago LeBron added a pretty good 3 point shot to his repertoire and since that time what has he done to improve his game?  In 8 years he has gone from being an athletic freak who gets to the rim to an athletic freak that gets to the rim and can shoot the occasional three but settles too much for it.  His stats have increased from year one but other then understanding the game better has he really become a better player?  Honestly, I think he has, nobody dominates like LeBron when he chooses to dominate.  It's the most Jordan like thing about him, his dominance is better then any other dominance in the game.  So why does he not always choose to dominate? I have no idea and I wish I knew.  We saw it against Boston and Chicago, if LeBron continued to play like that then the notion that Dwyane Wade would carry him to a title would be obsolete.  The moment kept getting bigger and so did LeBron, he thrived in it and then the finals came a long and he still looked like he had it until game 3.  Up until that point Dallas was playing scared and then all of a sudden they stopped being afraid and started playing their game.  Once that happened I saw one of the most rewarding and devastating things in basketball.  The best player in the world was scared.  It wasn't just that he wasn't shooting and starting playing hot potato with the ball or that he stopped playing at an All-Defense level.  You could see it in his eyes, he was lost and was scared of the moment.  It sounds ridiculous to say but you can read it in players when they want it.  We saw Kobe the past two years clench his jaw and put spite in his eyes for two weeks when the finals came about, even Wade had that look in his eyes this year.  Heck LeBron had it for 3 rounds and lost it.  It reminded me of Rocky III when Apollo kept yelling at Rocky to want it and get back that look, that hunger.  The difference was that Wade was LeBron's Apollo and Wade finally seemed to give up on LeBron.  I cannot remember a single time that Wade passed the ball to LeBron in that second half, he stopped trusting him.  As enjoyable as it was to see LeBron wilt away in the moment like, well Wilt, it also made me sad as a sports fan.  We may never see another athlete like LeBron again, he is the most talented player to ever play the game and he could be remembered as a colossal failure.  Not because he couldn't flip the on switch but because he would flip it off and refuse to turn it back on.  I currently just started working at a day camp counselor for kids.  I had a girl today who just started rock climbing this week for the first time.  By yesterday she was already one of the better kids, I couldn't believe how far she had come, especially with coming down from the top which at first seemed to be a fear of hers but was now second nature.  All of a sudden today she got half way up after a few tries and froze, she wouldn't come down and started having a panic attack.  Although she had been to the top before and had come down she froze in the moment and I had to go up there to finally get her to come down.  She wouldn't trust any of us until I had her in my arms and ascended down with her into another counselor's arms.  Nothing better symbolized what happened to LeBron then that scenario.  We have never seen anyone have the game of Basketball come so naturally for them.  LeBron caught on quick and early and never looked back.  Then all of a sudden, for no reason that can be reasonably explained, he froze and panicked.  He didn't know what to do and he needed someone to save him.  That is why he teamed up with Wade, Cleveland had great role players for him, but no one that could save him from himself.  Wade was that answer for him and it seemed like Wade got tired of doing that job.  After being up with that girl for over 10 minutes my hands started to cramp, I had to make a decision to either grab her and bring her down or to go down by myself and then regather my strength and try again.  By the end of game 6, Wade had given up on LeBron, he tried everything from encouragement, to chewing him out on live TV,  and to trying to make fun of other stars on live TV.  None of it worked, and finally he gave up on him, determined to regain his strength and try again next time.  Who knows, maybe LeBron will get it.  Other players have learned to do it, heck look at Dirk.  We all thought he was a choke artist and couldn't get it done and now nothing could be farther from the truth.  Or how about even Zach Randolph?  He was considered a selfish cancer on every team he had ever been on and then he gets to Memphis and he carries that team to new heights and then soars even higher in the playoffs.  Only time will tell with LeBron, but the most disturbing thing to me about the whole thing is how he didn't seem to care afterwards.  Sure he said the right things for the most part, and did the whole "I'm a competitor" act again by prematurely walking off the court but there was no anger or disappointment in his eyes or voice during that post game conference.  I didn't feel like he cared, maybe he already had the parade that he wanted.  I feel like there a lot of things in sports that I understand or can figure out, LeBron I don't.  He might be one of the easier players to predict these days with his play on the court, especially in the playoffs but I don't think I can ever understand him.  The only thing that I know for sure is that he needs to stop caring about everyone else so much.  He played the villain role well for the most part but as Bill Simmons pointed out in his finals recap, LeBron wants to be loved.  He needs it, he has always had it and it wore him down as the season wore on.  Does he receive any sympathy from me or any other non-Miami sports fan? not in the least.  He brought this on himself and he deserved what he got.  I don't think he will ever fall into my good graces but if he wants my respect ever again he just needs to shut up, hit the gym and show that he cares about winning over fame.  Don't go saying anything, don't hold an "I'm sorry" press conference, just let what happened be in the past and play some basketball.  As much as I hate LeBron James, the sporting world needs him, and needs him to succeed in some part.  We love to hate him but you can only hate someone that gives you something to hate.  My greatest fear is that LeBron is just going to cash it in one of these days after not accomplishing much of anything and all that will be left is pity.  It truly would be a travesty.  I know that there is a ton of hate for players like Kobe but when all is said and done and you look back on his career, you can appreciate what he has accomplished as a player.  It happened with Jordan.  I don't think you can disagree with the fact that Jordan was a jerk, an egomaniac, and not a very good person.  But as sports fans do we care?  Not really, I'm sure people did back in his prime when they had something to focus on other then how special of a player he was, but all that is left is highlights of his game winners, dunks and amazing achievements.  Kobe's career (though not on the same level) will be remembered in the same light.  LeBron? who knows, it is still up in the air but the sporting world needs him to be more then the next Karl Malone.  Maybe this loss is what LeBron needed but until he learns that substance always triumphs over style, he will never be the true King of basketball

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