June 21, 2013
When the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs started back on June 6, I said the Spurs would win the series in six games. On Tuesday night, it appeared that was going to be the case. The Spurs had the lead, 94-89, with 28.6 seconds left in Game 6. The title was right there in San Antonio’s hands, only to be taken away by a series of plays. The most notable play was the three-pointer by Heat guard Ray Allen off of an offensive rebound by forward Chris Bosh. Allen’s shot sent the game, which was all but won by the Spurs, to overtime, and we know what happened after that. The Heat won Game 6 103-100, and then won Game 7 95-88 on Thursday night. The victory give the Heat back-to back titles, and LeBron James, who has been harshly criticized by myself and many others, won the regular season and NBA Finals Most Valuable Player twice in this same two year stretch. Congratulations are in order for the Heat, and I was wrong about the prediction I made. This was a great series that saw two great teams threw hay-maker after hay-maker at each other, and after the heavyweight championship fight, the Heat were the ones who are left standing. Over the last two weeks, we heard so much about legacies, especially when it comes to James. After winning his second title, those questions should only be about how great it will be. James is only 28 years old, and he already has four regular season MVPs, two NBA Finals MVPs, and of course, two championship rings in his 10 years in the league. When James made the decision to come down to Miami in the summer of 2010, I was one of the people who didn’t like how he went about it. The decision by itself wasn’t the problem, but it was the championship parade before he, Dwyane Wade and Bosh ever played a game together. Saying he would win not 4, not 5, not 6, not 7…..championships only added to me wanting to see this team lose. The bandwagon fans didn’t help matters either. Through all of the criticism and doubts about whether or not he can step up in big games, James has continued to improve each aspect of his game, and he needed to show every bit of that improvement in Game 7 of the Finals series. If there was a part of James’ game that could be questioned, it’s the lack of a consistent jump shot. Even though he had career-highs in field goal and three-point percentage in the regular season, the Spurs dared him to beat them from the outside (which is exactly how I would tell my team to guard James if I was coaching). For the first part of this series, James didn’t seem to have the same confidence to shoot those open jumpers as he had previously developed. To his credit, James watched the film, figured out what the Spurs were doing, and started taking, and making, those same shots. Not only did he knock the shots down, D-Wade did the same. I understand people still have a grudge for how James came down to Miami, but at least give the man credit for actually living up to his promise of multiple championships. It’s one thing to say you’re going to do something, but it’s another to actually show the action. James has been under a microscope since his days in high school, but he’s been able to live up to, and in some cases, exceed expectations. Now that he has two titles, James has emerged as the lead provider of the Heat Wave, and as long as he’s still on the team, it’s going to be hard for the rest of the league to cool down.
By Charles Taylor