True Hoops

True Hoops

Friday, June 8, 2012

Play Time is Over

It looks like the Heat followed through on "the keys to beating the Celtics" to extend their season and swing a game 7 back to Miami.

For those of you that don't remember what those "keys" where, let me reiterate them.
Well actually, let me just reiterate the last and most important one:

(I even left in my grammatical error of "mostly importantly" to leave the true essence of how imperative this last point is).

What happens when LeBron decides to shoot the ball?
In case you're living on another planet:

Well, if you want to be technical about that last point, LeBron didn't really shoot all that much in the 4th. But of course that's because he had 30 in the first half and 41 through three quarters. By the time he got to 45 in the 4th quarter, this game had been long over. If you must know, he finished 19-26 for 45 points, to go along with 15 rebounds and 5 assists.

I have never heard an arena as loud as it was before game 6 last night in Boston. And I have never seen a building get it's breath sucked out of it and have it's collective morale broken by an individual they way LeBron did it to Boston last night (and I grew up a Knicks fan during the Jordan era).

Surprise, surprise.

LeBron, this is what you need to do for your team to win.
It doesn't have to be always 45 points. But it does have to be 25-30 shots, early and often and throughout the duration of the game. I know you are an all-around out of this world multifaceted player.  But right now, this year, this run - this is what makes your team the best it can be.

Do you understand the importance of what you need to do?
No really, LeBron do you understand?:

First, let me just say, this really wasn't a question so much as it was a point of inception.
Having watched a pattern develop over the year of him not looking to shoot in crucial moments and and get enraged by the lack of proper support from his coaches and teammates to literally force him to shoot the ball - I kind of felt it necessary to take matters into my own hands and try to drive home the importance of him ALWAYS looking to shoot.

You have to know that Doc Rivers will throw everything including the kitchen sink at LeBron in game 7 tomorrow night in Miami. And my response is:  it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how many defenders come at you LeBron. It is "essential" that you shoot - because once you pass the ball, the defense has achieved it's primary goal.  You have to dictate. You have to dominate. And it's really that simple. It's not a matter of make or miss. It's a matter of taking and establishing. Of taking what's yours and establishing to everyone in the building, especially those having the misfortune of suiting up against you, that make no mistake about it - this is your game.
Trust me, everyone else will follow suit.

And what was really the most elegant part of last night's game, was how he did what he did. LeBron didn't  force the issue going to the basket (he only had maybe 3-4 layups). He didn't relegate himself to taking three point shots (he was 2-4 from three). No. Instead he relied and trusted in his vast repetoire of skills. In particular, he confided in his mid-range game and newly mastered post game. How many Dirk one-legged fade aways did you see him make? How many baseline fade-aways did you see him make - over two defenders?

And to drive this point home - that's the point of looking to continually shoot the ball. You won't make every shot. But if you keep taking shots - your aggression and confidence mounts as your rhythm manifests itself.

But how about the fact after having the best game of his NBA career, and after my "question" LeBron's response was how important his teammates are? About how much confidence and trust he has in his teammates. Does it get any better than that?

Listen, for  everyone out there that questions this guy's character, his ego, and his unselfishness - you need to get a grip on reality. Seriously. In fact, I would say LeBron's biggest fault over the years has been his tendency to be too unselfish on the court. His tendency to make the right play, even when it's not in the bet interest of the team.

LeBron, you play the game the right way. And you don't have to be a doctor in biomedical science to realize that. But, if I may speak on the behalf of everyone in your corner and rooting for you to achieve the ultimate goal, rooting for you to be your absolute greatest......
Put this team on your shoulders, take the onus, take the shots...... and see what happens.
That is the right way to play.
Win, lose, or draw - everyone will concur with that.

You might ask, how long is this sustainable for?
I would say, 5 more wins.


Let me just share with you some anecdotes from the game:

I stood next to Steven A. Smith for practically the duration of the game. I get the feeling we were both rooting for LeBron - although he was a little more reserved about it.
Case in point - after LeBron flew in for that one handed dunk off a rebound in the first half last night, Stephen A. kind of subtly jerked his head to the side in silent approval.
My response was a little more overt: "Holy S*#@!"

You will probably read this a lot today - and perhaps for some time to come.
I have never seen that look of focus, determination, and out right refusal to lose on LeBron's face before. I like it. And if it comforted me, I can only imagine what it did for his teammates. The fact that he wasn't demonstrative was more telling of his confidence. He didn't seem to talk during the game, but you could see the emotion bubbling over in his eyes. And he simply pointed to his teammates to direct them. He simply demanded the ball on every possession.

Coming in and out of the locker room and the half he looked at the floor - completely in his own zone. And this persisted in the second half - although he spoke to his teammates a little more. The only time he broke out of his trance? After the game walking back to the locker room - when some idiotic heckler spilled beer on his head. What did LeBron do? He turned around and smiled.

After the game, I saw LeBron as a humble young man - who spoke of his teammates first and the task at hand rather than try to embellish what he had just done.

"How many points did you have?" Some woman asked him.
"I don't know" LeBron said.
"45 points! 15 rebounds! And 5 assists!" some overly eager little kid blurted out.

Yeah kid, we know.
You'll learn as you get older and more mature that greatness doesn't have to announce itself.
It is inferred by mere presence and performance.

What can get better than this?
Well, I can think of a certain match-up with an aspiring 23 year old next week.
But first, how about a pre-requiste dominating game 7 performance by LeBron tomorrow night?

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