Monday, June 25, 2012


The NBA Finals was a tale of two stories.  As a series, it was somewhat underwhelming.  Expectations were high that we'd witness a competitive series between two exciting teams, led by arguably the two best players in the world.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen.  The Thunder who dominated the Spurs were nowhere to be found (especially James Harden).  They seemed to succumb to their youth and inexperience, and it ended in the worst way possible.  Game 5 was an awful way to end the season.  Nothing's worse than a series closing out on a beatdown that involves fluky 3-pt shooting.  Note: I'm not saying Miami's title win was fluky, but rather the manner in which the decisive game was won.  It's one thing for a "fluky" blowout to happen in the middle of a series.  But it sucks when it happens in the close-out game, because it makes the series feel less competitive than it actually was.  A short series, ending with a one-sided beatdown, is only fun for the fans of the winning team.  And not only did we not get a competitive series with a compelling ending, we didn't get to witness a legendary battle between the two best players in the world.  Neither guy played poorly, by any stretch, but they didn't have that ultimate performance with both guys at their best, trading shots (a la Bird-Dominique or LeBron-Pierce).  The series just didn't feel like a battle between the two best players and the two best teams.  So in that way, it was disappointing.

But on the other hand, there was LeBron James.  What we witnessed from LeBron was nothing short of incredible.  He averaged 28.6 points, on 46% shooting, along with 10.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game.  But it wasn't just what he did that was amazing, it was how he did it.  LeBron answered every question people had about him.  Will he be an assassin?  Will he perform in the 4th quarter?  Will he develop a post game?  Check, check, and check.  He played with an edge, he hit some big shots, and he was effective playing with his back to the basket.  He did everything that was asked of him.  How can anybody be anything but impressed and respectful of that?  Fans complain about holes in players' games all the time (Kobe needs to pass more, Westbrook needs to shoot less, Rondo needs a jumper, Howard needs more post moves etc.) and rarely do those players answer the call promptly, if at all.  Well, LeBron did.  So what else do you want?

Think about what he's done.  Not only did he actually do what people asked of him, but he eliminated all but one of his flaws.  If he works on his shooting, he will be the most complete basketball player of all-time (defense, passing, rebounding, post game and shooting).  Honestly, who wouldn't want to see that?  How could anyone not want to see a player with no weaknesses?

Fans want players to dedicate themselves to their craft and to winning.  LeBron clearly did that.  You could've complained about his attitude or desire in the past, but he clearly improved his game and focused on winning, so you can't hold that against him anymore.  If he reverts to that stuff in the future, then I guess you can hold it against him then.  But as of right now, that can't be a reason to not respect him.  If you can't admire him for addressing his faults, then your dislike of him isn't based in objectivity.  Which would be a shame, because if he becomes the most complete basketball player of all-time, everyone should enjoy that.  Your dislike of who he was shouldn't affect your opinion of who he has appeared to become.  His transformation redeemed the Finals.  And if it's permanent, it has redeemed his career.