As of 2008, the state of Ohio had roughly 11.5 million residents. After hearing from Sports Geek and Bleacher Fan last week, it’s fairly obvious that the vast majority of those residents were extremely frustrated, disappointed, bitter, or all of the above after yet another meltdown by a Cleveland franchise. Blame is going around, as this was supposed to be the season the Cavs won it all. A large black cloud named “LeBron Free Agency 2010” was quickly approaching, and a championship needed to be won before the storm came. Well, the storm hit Ohio a little too quickly as the Cavs were knocked out by the Celtics last week. Who is to blame for this premature “storm?” It’s none other than LeBron James himself.
As a resident of Georgia I am not immune to the endless hype machine they call LeBron. The rest of the country, Georgia included, has known for at least seven years what the state of Ohio has known for over ten years – the man is a freak of nature. No one is disputing that. Go to Cleveland.com and you’ll find countless stories about James. He has a rock star persona that few can match. But let’s be honest. He choked in the Celtics series.
Through much of James’ career I have heard much about how he makes his teammates better ad. People say, “He’s a threat to get a triple-double every time he takes the court.” Well, that may be the case. But, it’s hard to say you make your teammates better when you aren’t holding up your end in the bargain. Sure, LeBron had a triple double in game six. But he also was one turnover short of having a quadruple-double the wrong way. But for me, the lasting image of this series was James’ lack of effort in game five.
It’s true that James had an awful game. He had a paltry 15 points on just 3-14 shooting. But what was alarming was not that he had a bad game, as that happens to even the great ones. What was quite shocking was the fact that LeBron just wasn’t into the game. He looked like he had about as much interest in that game as Milton Bradley has in behaving. He just didn’t want to be there. He was dragging! That’s likely how the entire state of Ohio felt last Wednesday! They didn’t want to be at work. That is according to Sports Geek and Bleacher Fan. And at this point, that’s totally unacceptable. It’s one thing to be disinterested in a mid-February game against the Clippers in a half-empty Staples Center. It’s quite another to be out of touch with the game in a pivotal playoff game that ultimately could change the direction of the franchise.
There are many definitions of the word “choke” (some of which will be explored in full detail later this week), but in this context choke is defined as not coming through when all the pressure is at its most intense. The pressure was most definitely on James, and he choked. All the individual accomplishments to this point can’t erase the lack of success his teams have had in the postseason. All the money he has received, and will receive in the future, can’t buy him the one thing that will cement his legacy – a championship ring. Comparisons are starting to be made to Alex Rodriguez, and the comparisons are starting to gain traction as, until last year, ARod had a horrific postseason reputation. And that rep was well earned. Time will tell if James is able to eventually win a ring.
In the meantime, let’s quit calling him King James. He has not conquered any throne in the grand scheme of things.
That is, unless we all stand and behold King James: The King of Choking!