The NBA finals are done and no one has received more scrutiny than Lebron James. James has become a target, simply because he is who he is. James’ success on the court had been charted and many think he has the talent to become the greatest to ever play the game. Whether he does or doesn’t isn’t really that important to me. As I look at how the man played in the finals, all I saw was a talented young man who trusted his teammates.
All my life I have witnessed players play selfish, uncontrolled basketball in pressure situations. We tell these kids over and over, trust your teammates, you are not out there by yourself, get your teammates involved. Never have I witnessed a superstar do more to set up his teammates than James did in the finals. Now everyone is chastising this man. Is it deserved? Maybe it is but let’s reflect on the game in general.
In the early years of my coaching experience, I didn't give individual awards (MVP, Most Improved Player, Best Defensive, etc) because I didn't think it was right to preach Team, Team, Team then on 1 night say “It is a team game but Lil’ Johnny is our best player.”
I always reserved awards for those players who came to practice every day and worked their a$$es off. Those players always received the “Team First” Award. They never failed to pull for their teammates. They, nor their parents, ever asked about playing time. I found myself looking for opportunities for them. They practiced and when the opportunity came to play, they played as hard as they could.
Now back to James. The man almost averaged a triple double. I think it was just a case of Miami just ran into a better TEAM. The Dallas Mavericks made their way to the playoffs and they did exactly what they needed to do. Look at how they got to the Finals. They started the second round by man handling the Los Angeles Lakers and prolific scorers Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. They chose to pack the paint and make Bryant beat them from the perimeter. That led to the Lakers getting swept. Yes that is the team who everyone thought was going to win it all. So you can say that they already had the formula to stop James since they had a practice run against a pretty darn good player in Bryant.
If that wasn’t enough, they got more practice in the Conference Finals against Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. They decided to take away the penetration. Westbrook was chastised and frustrated and every one kept saying that he should pass more. Naturally you have to have a scorer and a passer for a team to be successful and unfortunately for the Heat, the Thunder is a lot like them and the Mavericks got a lot of practice taking away Westbrook and Durant.
So what the Heat did to James in the Finals makes sense to me. Dwyane Wade took some wild shots in the finals and he made his share, but that isn’t James’ game. James plays under control He is a team first guy. He doesn’t force bad shots when someone is open. He does what we preach to every other player in the league should do. He puts the TEAM first.
Stay Breezy ~ I’m Out!