Friday, June 10, 2011

LeBron's cravings

This is why LeBron James quit Cleveland. This is why he now wears No. 6 and plays for the Miami Heat. This is why he plays the game.

He wants a championship. He craves a championship. He needs a championship.

He could not get it in Cleveland. He needed help. Didn’t get it.

For some reason, LeBron believes a championship validates his greatness. It’s the crowning glory to what has been a spectacular career.

Anything less than that, he thinks, invalidates that greatness. Which is hard to believe since he is the best all-around player in the National Basketball Association. And it’s not even close.

He’s a prodigy, a gifted athlete who comes along once in a generation. He’s that rare breed who has no problem living up to the advance hype because it comes naturally.

He’s the same player in Miami that he was with the Cavaliers for seven fun-filled and extremely enjoyable seasons. He still does things on the court that make fans blink in amazement and say, “Never seen that before.”

He’s not playing any differently now. He just has a significantly better supporting cast.

Too bad he had to spoil his Cleveland stint with that rather distasteful performance in Game 5 of the Boston playoff series last season. That, unfortunately, will be his legacy as a Cavalier.

And now, he stands on the precipice of achieving his dream. Granted, it’s a rather shaky precipice now that the Dallas Mavericks have captured a 3-2 lead in the National Basketball Association championship finals.

Cavaliers fans, many of whom will never forgive him for what he did – never mind the way he did it – as he abandoned Cleveland, revel in LeBron’s plight as the Heat must now win out.

Cavs fans love it. Who can blame them? As LeBron does his fourth-quarter fade, they say, almost in unison, “Seen that before.”

And the way he has played the final quarter in this series justifies the notions of his critics that the only aspect missing from his game is the fourth-quarter clutch performance in meaningful games.

It has been notably absent in this series, mostly because he has played a subordinate, almost reluctant, role in the final 12 minutes. It’s as though he is content with letting Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh grab the spotlight.

He seems to forget the Heat reached the finals mainly because of him. Remove Wade from that lineup and the Heat is still a formidable team. Remove Bosh . . . ditto.

Remove LeBron and the Heat becomes a less-than-formidable team. He, not Wade, is the club’s most valuable player. One would think Miami coach Erik Spoelstra would see that and adjust. Cavs fans hope he doesn’t.

If LeBron does not become the aggressor for the Heat in the next 96 minutes of championship play, he’ll watch as Mark Cuban hoists his first NBA championship trophy.

It’s the absence of that one vital ingredient that separates him from his dream. And he’ll have nobody to blame but himself if he fails.

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