NBA Rookie of the Year, 8-time NBA All-Star selection, 2008 Scoring Title, 3-time NBA MVP, and 6-time NBA All First Team selection would seem to be enough accolades to be considered one of the best ever. Well, for Lebron James it wasn’t until last night when he led his Miami Heat to the NBA Title and picked up his first ever Championship ring and Finals MVP award. The dark cloud that has been following over Lebron’s head since he decided to take his talents to South Beach has finally gone away and now the best player in the world can get the credit he deserves. I can’t say I was rooting for James to win it, but as a basketball fan and they way he won it was absolutely remarkable.
From the opening tip in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, James seemed determined to finish the series in Miami and not have to travel back to the most hostile environment in the NBA, OKC. Fittingly, Miami’s first two points were from an emphatic slam by James and from that point on you just felt that his talents had finally surfaced in South Beach the way he promised his fans back in 2010. Throughout the playoffs I was cheering against Miami for no other reason than I am a huge supporter of the underdog. I mean I am a Mets, Knicks and Jets fan. In this game, as the minutes slowly diminished and Miami was rapping up their rout of the Thunder, 121-106, I found myself smiling and slightly impressed with what Miami had accomplished.
There’s something to be said about winning a championship, but there is a lot more to be said about a team that wins a championship when most of the world is rooting against them. As much as I would like to not give any credit to anyone except Lebron, I can’t. This Championship run was a legitimate team effort. From consistently strong games from Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, to surprising shooting performances from Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers, there was really no chance for OKC. The second that the Thunder developed a game plan, Miami seemed to have their counterattack ready to go.
In the clinching game 5, Miami’s surprising star was non-other than “Sir Limps A Lot,” Mike Miller. Like a robotic zombie, Miller limped up and down the court and just drained 3-pointer after 3-pointer. Miller entered the game 0-3 from downtown, but after game 5 finished he was an astonishing 7-11 for the series. For all you math whizzes out there, that means he went a lights out 7-8 from beyond the arc in an NBA Title clinching game…that is amazing! I hate to say it but even Miami’s undeserving coach seemed to of run a few plays that actually looked like he knew what he was doing. I find it remarkable that a team that has basically been together for 2 years waited till their final game of the NBA Finals to show the world their best stuff.
Sure Miami won their second Championship ever as a franchise and it was a total team effort, but what the fans of basketball will always remember this series as is Lebron’s first title. Now, will it be the first of many like Lebron promised us two years ago? In my opinion I think it is. If last night’s game, and all of the playoffs for that matter, is any indication of how Lebron’s game is improving then the rest of the world should step aside. Michael Jordan didn’t win his first Championship until he was 28 and the now 27 year-old James has a platform to measure the rest of his career against. Congratulations to the Miami Heat for winning the NBA Championship and a special congratulations to Lebron James for not only proving the haters wrong, but proving that he is the best player in the world.
It wasn’t Lebron James, it wasn’t Dwayne Wade and it wasn’t Chris Bosh, so who pushed the Miami Heat to a 104-98 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in game 4 of the NBA Finals? His name is Mario Chalmers and he was absolutely marvelous. When the Heat were down and needed a place to turn, Mario took a note out of Russel Westbrook’s book and focused more on scoring rather than passing. Now that is not typically the mentality you want from your starting point guard but there are many times when it is effective. Chalmers scored 25 points which was only 1 point behind James for their team high. There were times late in the game where Chalmers looked as dominant as he once did when he played for the Kansas Jayhawks.
OKC came out to a blazing start and seemed to have complete control over the game. Unfortunately for the Thunder, they really only had one player show up and that was Russel Westbrook. Westbrook had a performance that I can only describe as one of the most impressive offensive outbursts I have ever seen in an NBA Finals game. Russel had a stat line of 43 points, including 17 in the fourth, and 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Westbrook’s PIC (Partner in Crime), Kevin Durant, seemed a little flat during the game and although he finished with 28 points he never seemed to make the big shot that shifted momentum back into the Thunder’s favor. Sixth man of the year, James Harden, was pathetic all game and if he doesn’t turn it around then the Thunder have absolutely no chance to beat Miami Thursday.
Now I don’t like making excuses, especially in the Finals, but something is getting out of hand. The refereeing in this series as well as every one of Lebron James’ series, has been inconsistent and unfair. Westbrook had 43 points, he took 18 shots from within the painted area and seemed to get hacked nearly every time. He accumulated 3 foul shots. Lebron and Wade had 51 points combined, they took a total of 17 shots from within the painted area and got to the line 17 times. That stat seems a little off because there is no way the calls can be that lopsided. OKC went to the foul line the second most amount of times out of every team in the NBA during the regular season but only made it there 16 times in game 4. That is a fucking joke because the refs seem to cradle Lebron James’ testicles in their hands as he hacks players without whistles on a regular basis. Even my PIC, NYBobby, called me during the game to say he noticed what I and the basketball world have been saying all year.
ESPN analyst Steven A. Smith has been criticizing the refereeing all playoffs long and said this morning that one of the reasons that Durant is getting the shit end of every call this series is because he is too skinny. That really pisses me off because with that logic I should be in the NBA because my fat ass would be getting every call in my favor. Now I will stop bitching about the refs and give some credit where credit is due. Lebron James is the best player in the world. He can dominate whenever he wants and in game 4 he even proved that he can score without being able to use his legs. Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after the game that James was cramping because he was dehydrated. Well Erik, maybe you should grab the man a cup of water once in a while because he is about to win you your first of many undeserved championships. The series seems to be slipping away from OKC and now Thursday’s game will determine if these two teams are going to travel back to Oklahoma. If OKC can win Thursday then its anyone’s series from there on.
Last night was the perfect description of what Pat Riley and the Heat organization envisioned when they put together their team of all-stars in 2010. Fluid ball movement and precision passing for easy baskets inside the paint is the only way Miami can succeed and they did it nearly flawlessly last night in their 91-85 victory. Led by 29 points and 14 rebounds from James, Miami found different ways to hurt the Thunder throughout game 3 of the NBA Finals last night. Wade, although he had a poor shooting performance, finished the game with 25 points and 7 boards and 7 assists, which was without question his best game of the Finals thus far. Chris Bosh also provided his second straight double-double since being reinserted into the starting lineup that seems to have the Thunder flustered.
So where did the Thunder go wrong last night? Durant finished with a respectable 25 points with over 50% shooting, while Russel Westbrook added a hard-fought 19 points. The key missing piece to the puzzle was James Harden. The sixth man of the year shot a pathetic 2-10 from the floor and finished with a dismal 9 points. The Thunder can not beat the Heat in Miami without the spark off the bench that has made them such a formidable team throughout the year.The loss might also be attributed to the fact that Shane Battier, Miami’s former sixth man but now starter, is having one of the best 3-point shooting Finals of all time. Through the first three games of the series Battier has made at least four 3-pointers. No one in the NBA has done that in four straight finals games since Dennis “3D” Scott did it back in 1995 for Florida’s other team, the Orlando Magic. It’s amazing because Battier is coming off career lows for field goal percentage as well as 3-point percentage, but he has absolutely been Miami’s x-factor this series. I’m sure NYBobby is thrilled with my shout out for Shane based solely on the fact that I am a UNC Tar Heels supporter, while he goes for their rivals the Duke Blue Devils, Battier’s alma mater.
Maybe the reason that the Thunder lost isn’t because Miami’s “Big 3” got their shit together, or because James Harden was building a house with his bricks last night, or because Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra has a striking resemblance to a Tarsier Monkey from his native lands of the Philippines (I don’t know why I feel the need to trash him, but I do). Maybe the reason the Thunder lost is based solely upon their lack of execution when it comes to basketball fundamentals. OKC shot an out-of-character 15-24 from the foul line and committed 6 fourth quarter turnovers. They also finished the game with a minuscule 11 assists on 33 field goals made. While the Thunder went most of the season lacking an assist man, they were also the best foul shooting team and they committed the second fewest turnovers, so these two stats are inexcusable. If OKC has any hope of making it out of Miami alive then they better get their act together. And maybe Scott Brooks shouldn’t ever have his two best players, Westbrook and Durant, on the bench for the same time for 5 minutes like he did at the end of the third quarter where Miami made their comeback.
P.S. NBA referees please know that it is acceptable to call fouls on Lebron James!