Let’s face it. I strongly dislike LeBron. I’ve always disliked LeBron. I don’t like how he plays. I don’t like how he acts. I don’t like how he complains about everything. I don’t like his on court demeanor, the way he celebrates every dunk and every meaningless play and the way he pretends to be injured every time someone touches him. I don’t like how he made “The Decision.” I don’t like how he celebrated 7 championships before he ever won one. I don’t like how he is compared to Jordan when he has failed in almost every clutch situation in his career.
But tonight, I didn’t see the LeBron James that I hate. I saw the LeBron everyone has been clamoring for… a serious LeBron… a focused LeBron… a grown up, adult LeBron.
He took the game seriously. He led his team. He didn’t complain. He didn’t act. He didn’t crack a smile. He was all business. This LeBron was hard to hate. I almost cheered for him as he put in what will be considered one of the all time great games in playoff history. He came through, and not just a little, in perhaps in the most important game in his career.
If the Heat would have lost tonight, it very well could have been the end of the Miami Heat as we know and hate them. Spoelstra would have been fired. Who knows what would have happened to Wade and Bosh? If LeBron choked, he would have been crucified, again… worse than ever before.
Instead, he was relentless. He didn’t defer to his teammates. They aren’t good enough, and he knows it. He took charge and took it right at the Celtics. He pounded them. Dominated them.
And you know what? I loved it. As much as I dislike LeBron James, I love great basketball even more. That’s what I saw tonight. With his back against the wall, LeBron James fought for his life and won.
If LeBron can play like this… if this is the beginning of new page in the book of LeBron, the league doesn’t stand a chance.
But I’m not ready to go that far. It’s just one game.
Although the playoffs just got very interesting.