LeBron James has kept his annual standing reservation with the NBA Finals, Thursday being his fifth straight championship Game One, and sixth overall.
Half of his 12-year career has been spent playing for it all.
Mind you, he doesn’t win them all. In fact, he’s 2-3 in these productions, his detractors will remind you with a cackle. I don’t exactly get how that is any kind of blotch on his record. Hitting .400 at the lottery window or the NBA Finals is pretty darned charmed.
Since when is being as much a Finals fixture as the Commissioner a bad thing?
Now you have to ask yourself: Do I want James to win this one, and complete his total eclipse of the NBA?
This is a big one. If James defies the oddsmakers and the predictions of seemingly every former coach and player collecting a network paycheck and wins a third title – this time in his victory-starved home precinct – then he gets a major image upgrade.
Now he would be the hometown hero rather than the manipulative Miami mercenary. Now he would be overcoming sizable obstacles through the force of his game, not just filling the prescription for a title in South Beach that he so clumsily wrote.
Hey, if you win a title with Kevin Love in hard-soled shoes, with Kyrie Irving trying to play on with the knees of a 60-year-old diner waitress and with Matthew Dellavedova on the floor, you deserve every laurel thrown at your feet.
James told the rapturous media this week that he is playing the best ball of his life. Don’t have to tell the Hawks that after he averaged 30 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in that sweep.
“If you put everything together as far as my mind, my body, my game, if you put everything in one bottle, this is probably the best I’ve been,” he said.
So, now, is James’ best good enough to elevate the Cavs past Golden State?
Will his best, if he really does bring it to bear in this series, be of the legendary, won’t-accept-losing variety?
There’s something oddly tugging me in that direction (and believe me, I’m no James groupie – I remember taking great satisfaction in his loss last year to San Antonio).
I actually can see James and the Cavs beating Golden State in six games, despite the weight of the Warriors scoring and depth, as well as Cleveland’s injuries. It’s an irrational vision, really. Maybe it’s a temporary madness brought on by the trauma of what James and his posse just did to the Hawks.
And if James really does do it, can we try to appreciate the new glow that will bring to his greatness, as difficult as that may be?