Of all the truths that we know about the NBA, the single most evident one that continues to be tested is that youth just doesn't win a title. Every year there is a young, frisky, and uber-talented team that we think could turn this fact on its head. And every year we come to the realization that unlike football, baseball, or hockey, in the promising young NBA young teams always seem to wilt under the lights of the big stage.
I wholeheartedly believed that this Thunder team was different. This is a different NBA, isn't it? The young Thunder have played twice as many games as a collective unit compared to their Miami counterparts. Sure the average age of their nucleus is just 22 years old, but I somehow figured that this OKC team with the second best player in the league, an aerial contortionist for a point guard, the best sixth-man in the game, and well-cast group of role players was the team that would final put to rest the gospel that youth falls short in the Finals. Oops!
LeBron Continues to change the Narrative
I've been pretty hard on LeBron James. Not because I don't like LeBron's game or think he's been propped up to be something he's not, nor that he's surrounded by sycophants who ardently defend him no matter the reality of his shortcomings, but because I don't like being told someone is a king when they are only just a prodigy. I like the idea of actions speaking louder than words. I don't like child stars (which LeBron most certainly was) being dubbed geniuses before they are. That's my biggest problem with LeBron — for all the hype (even when he was in Cleveland), I never saw the genius that he was portrayed to be.
Here's the part where I say LeBron might not have had me at hello, but he's got me now. For the all talk of this series going seven, it ain't. And while I detest the idea of the Heat winning a title, never mind at home in the night club they call the American Airlines Arena, I think it's safe to say that at this point it's inevitable. The Thunder can't win three games in a row against this Miami team. And the biggest reason why is LeBron James.
This postseason, James has done more than just put up un-earthly numbers; he's turned into a one-man wrecking ball. He's played 939 of a possible 1056 minutes this postseason (which is probably why he's starting to cramp up — the dude's tired). He's shooting a TS percentage of 57.6, and in the clutch, while FG percentage is down, he's just a different player. James was always going to put up big numbers, yet I never really saw him assert his will in the fourth quarter of games like he has this postseason. His assist ration is down and shot attempts are up, which means he's looking at his teammates and saying "eff it, I'll do it myself."
His performance in the Finals has shown me, at least for now, that LeBron James can go to a place that I questioned he go to.
James is getting to the basket whenever he wants, and even did something I never thought he could do. In the Eastern Conference Finals, he walked into a hostile environment and literally stared down the Celtics and the Garden crowd basically by himself. I wrote after that night that James did what he is paid to do. However, that combined with his performance in the Finals has shown me, at least for now, that LeBron James can go to a place that I questioned he go to.
I always surmised James was the type of guy who, if you popped a good one right on his chin, would turn around and looked for his friends to step in and handle his business. And though he'll never be Kobe, Jordan or Bird, he does appear to have some crazy in him. This is not taking anything away from Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, or even Shane Battier — who have all been phenomenal this postseason — however, sometimes people show you a side of them you never knew they had, and you must sit up and take notice.
If it sounds like I'm throwing in the towel on the series for the Thunder, I am. This thing isn't going six, never mind seven.
Cramps galore last night
LeBron wasn't the only one who cramped up last night. James Harden did throughout the game, and in the final two minutes, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant did too. Only theirs were brain cramps.
Westbrook and Durant both had untimely turnovers, which frankly when they go back and look at the tape of Game 4, is going to make them dry heave. Both put forth Herculean type performances on Tuesday night, but like a boxer sensing a wounded opponent, went for the knockout punch a bit too early and caught right on the kisser.
But is there anyone more in need of hug on the Thunder than James Harden? If Durant and Westbrook had brain cramps Harden, had a mojo cramp. Missing open looks is part of basketball. But when you cautiously put up and miss a wide open look from 12 feet in the fourth quarter, with your team clinging to the hope of sending the series back home, that isn't a good sign.
Right now Harden reminds me of the guy at the bar who couldn’t get his name out without stuttering when a girl walks up to hit on him. Going cold in the NBA Finals happens. It happened to Dan Majerle in '93 against the Bulls, it happened to John Starks in '94, hell it happened to LeBron last year. But if OKC has any chance at forcing the series back home, James Harden needs to find his mojo.
Fan Hub Action
Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
Charlie Lobosco May 1st
This is a very compelling story because Mr. Collins is a very passionate, tough, intelligent, athelete taking on some additional responsibliity to help others as…
Scott Cohen May 1st
Charlie.. very well said.. he does have guts
Scott Cohen May 1st
but it shouldn’t require guts. .like you said it’s nobody’s business but his own
Hisham Zameeth April 30th
best player ever…..
Kareem Musa Mayowa April 29th
We don’t need to be hopeless about the situation bryant his. Because even david villa situation also up to the level of his own to…
Maritess Lim April 28th
I still believe in KOBE’s power…… He is still the best…… He will make it possible no matter what……
mimi_aragon84 April 28th
I feel no pity for him. First of all, it is EAGLE, COLORADO, not Eagleton, secondly he enjoyed success and adulation from fans from 2003…
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