LeBron James: A character evolution – By Cameron Heffernan

Lebron James destroyed the Celtics almost by himself. Cameron Heffernan, being a Celtics fan, after the game wanted to write an article breaking down James and how he is a quitter and un-clutch and how he’ll probably shy away from the limelight in game 7. But somewhere he had a change of heart and decided to give cheers to King James.

Editor’s note: I am a Celtics fan, and last night was just depressing, but, it was an amazing game if you love basketball. Lebron James killed the Celtics and something in him transformed and from the beginning you kind of knew it was over. From a basketball sense it was great to see, kind of, as a Celtics fan it sucked.

Lebron James is the most scrutinized and unfairly persecuted athletes in sports. For being possibly the best pure athlete and best player in the NBA he constantly is berated with insults and over-evaluation purely due to disappearing in the clutch and not having any championships. By in large this criticism is justified because of these two factors.

James dropped 45-points, 15-rebounds, five assists, shooting 73% from the field, and 50% from beyond the arc. It was magical, it was depressing, and it was a clinic in basketball prowess and power. Everything Lebron shot went in, the calls Bron got were fair and there was absolutely nothing the Celtics could do. Rondo had another great game, but that didn’t matter, Bron had that killer look that we’ve seen in Jordan, Bird and Kobe you knew from the first basket James hit after clanking a 20-footer on his first shot that he was out for blood and nothing was going to stop this full-steam-a-charging bull shark of a man.

In sports radio, TV and anything else dealing with talking heads nit-picking the little things in sports; they talk all the time about “flipping the switch” referring to how a team can go from 0-to-60 in seconds flat. I personally don’t believe in this, basketball is a game of runs and stops, pretty simple. Although I don’t believe in this, LeBron did somehow turn on a “switch” and he became a basketball killing psychopath, he went from physical specimen to a ‘Monstar’ and he was beating everyone off the dribble, he got any shot he wanted on the floor and he never stopped trying to get to the basket. This was the LeBron we’ve all wanted to see forever and we’ve only gotten it a few times in the regular season and maybe three times in the playoffs including 2007 against the Pistons.

This is James’s ninth year in the league; he’s been to two NBA Finals, one he lost in a sweep against the Spurs in 2007 and he and Dwayne Wade lost in six to the Mavericks in 2011. In the 2007 playoffs he honestly carried the Cavaliers to the Finals that year and ran into a freight train against the Spurs. In 2011, the un-clutchness, as it’s commonly referred to now came out when he dwindled in the Finals with no-shows in games five and six. This was not so much his fault as it was that a three-man squad lost to a real team and he played almost every minute of every playoff game that year; also the factor that no one, and I mean, no one, could stop Dirk Nowitzki last year. He was winning that championship no matter what stood in his way, even if the best basketball player in the world was that obstacle.

James has a hall of fame career stat line even without the championships. Here are a few stat lines of some of the greats in basketball and their accomplishments.

Larry Bird – 24.3/4.7/5.3 (PTS/AST/REB) – .496/.376.886 (FG%/3PT%/FT%) – Three NBA Championships, Three NBA MVPs.

Ervin “Magic” Johnson – 19.5/11.2/7.2 – .520/.303/.848 – Five NBA Championships, three MVPs.

Michael Jordan – 30.1/5.3/6.2 – .497/.327/.835 – Six NBA Championships, five MVPs.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – 24.6/3.6/11.2 – .559/.056/.721 – Six NBA Championships, six MVPs.

Wilt Chamberlin – 30.1/4.4/22.9 – .540/.511 (no 3-pointer) – Two NBA Championships, four MVPs.

And Finally…

LeBron James – 27.6/6.9/7.2 – .483/.331/.746 – No NBA Championships, three MVPs.

The only two people on that list that have better lines in terms of point-per-game than James are Jordan and Chamberlin. The only really gleaming deficiency that James shows in purely numbers is that he is a sub-par free-throw shooter, with a career 74% and that doesn’t seem to be getting better for some odd reason, which may or may not tie into his “un-clutchness”. The other gleaming deficiency there is the no championships. Everyone on that list has multiple and some won those in their first few years.

In terms of Magic, he had Worthy and Jabbar . In terms of Chamberlin he was a 7’2 behemoth playing in a time when the average height in the NBA was 6’4”. In terms of Bird he had McHale, a decent Walton at the tail end of his career, Robert Parrish, and Danny Ainge. Jordan had Pippen but Jordan was the driving force behind those Bulls’ championships, he had the killer instinct and always knew when to put it to bed and rip the heart out of his opponent.

James on the other hand finally gets a decent supporting cast around him after toiling with the likes of Daniel “Booby” Gibson, and DeLonte West in Cleveland along with its  incompetent front office and the media have been had a field day ever since, and James has handled it all with grace and elegance. He’s never once flipped out on a journalist or the Skip Bayless’ of the world over there harsh criticisms; he’s taken it all in stride and we only hate him more for it.

When the man reads the Hunger Games the media decides to look at it as he’s psyching himself up for the game by trying to relate to Catness Everdean’s (sorry for butchering the name, I was too lazy to look it up) struggle in the book, instead of just maybe, just maybe, LeBron was just reading the Hunger Games because A. he liked the movie, and B. he wanted to just read a book.

When the Decision happened, much like the rest of the sports world I was pissed, why didn’t he go New York and become a Madison Avenue legend, why didn’t he go to Chicago and become their savior along with a blossoming Derrick Rose, why didn’t he go to the Lakers and become the Robin to Kobe’s Batman, Hell why didn’t he go to the Celtics and make that team an indestructible force.

Who knows why any of that stuff happened besides LeBron James and maybe someday he’ll write a tell-all book about how Wade, Bosh and himself came together in 2010 decided they weren’t going far on Bosh and James’ end and decided why the hell not go to Miami play the rest of my career in a warm weather climate where the stadium is surrounded by beaches and nightclubs, and four-star eateries and maybe collect a few easy championships, “if I can’t do it well then Wade or Bosh can take over and they can do it,” but somehow even when he does his best and Wade and Bosh have terrible games he has all the blame bestowed upon him, and you know what happens? He takes it all in stride. It may have taken nine years for LeBron to finally realize he can’t just cruise but hey, better late than never.

Cameron Heffernan is a writer/Editor-in-Chief for Hefferbrew.tumblr.com and hefferbrew.wordpress.com. He has a ragin’ hard on for basketball and the Celtics but in a totally non-gay/non-homophobic way. 

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