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Thursday, June 9th, 2011 at 9:00 am  |  71 responses

Judgement Day for LeBron James


by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

Eight years into his NBA career, at 26 years old, LeBron James is already a sure-fire Hall of Famer. His legacy, however, is still very much up in the air.

It’s a strange in a way — in this age of the 24-hour news and opinion cycle — that a great athlete’s entire body of work is threatened by the stain of one calamitous performance on his sport’s grandest stage.

But, that’s where we are with LeBron, who must answer the bell tonight, in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

Despite questions about whether or not he’s been playing too many minutes in the postseason, James expressed confidence that he’ll be able to bounce back in what has now become the most important game of his life.

Superstar teammate Dwyane Wade is also certain that LBJ will come through.

“[Tuesday] night, you know, eight points is definitely inexcusable for myself,” James said. “I hold myself to a higher standard than that … I had to do a better job of putting myself in situations where I can benefit myself and my team, no matter how many minutes I’m out on the floor,” James said.

“Obviously, he feels like he let me down,” said Wade, who had the reverse version of this conversation while he was struggling to assist LeBron in the Eastern Conference finals. “I understand he’s going to respond. So we just talked about the moment more than anything. I’m not worried about him. Eventually, he’s going to do something amazing, and it’s going to put us over the top.”

LeBron James promises to be a lot more aggressive from the start of the game tonight.

While many in the basketball-watching world jeer and delight in LeBron’s and the Heat’s failures, is anyone actually willing to doubt their collective ability to forcefully respond?

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  • dsleepy

    go mavs.

  • Tolo

    Well it’s not really his Judgement Day.

    He is one of the best ever basketball players so far, he will probably play at least another decade in the league and if the Mavs win this series then he eventually win a few of his own in his career.

    Nice hype and sensationalism though, full credit.

  • http://www.lacuevacrosscountry.com Slick Nick Da Ruler

    Tonight is LeBron’s true Decision. He’ll be fine.

  • http://twitter.com/hurstysyd Hursty

    The problem with the NBA, as it’s currently constructed, is that IF Miami (keep reading before you jump down my throat, please) wins this Championship, I can’t realistically see any team challenging them for Alpha status over the next 3-4 years.
    This is (in my mind) the best shot a team is going to get to win a ring while the “Big 3″ is in its prime.
    Dallas can compete next year I think, LA may or may not get it together with Kobe/Gasol/Grimace. Or they may not. The Spurs can’t beat them in a 7 game series.
    Memphis has effectively peaked (unless Conley and Mayo improve substantially).
    Houston is too young, the Clippers are a mess, New Orleans may not even exist as a franchise in 3/4 years, and Sacramento is in the same situation.
    The only team I can see challenging from the West is OKC. And they still have issues. Guard play from Westbrook (he’s gotta pull it together on a consistent basis), interior scoring and actually running plays in the final 2 minutes.

    From the East, Indiana & Philly are.. um. Yeah.
    Washington still has Andray Blatche, so they’re still fu*ked. Even with a solid backcourt (Wall, Young, Crawford)
    Orlando is all over the shop with regards to whether Dwight will stay/go. And they’ll really stuggle to just make it back to the C Finals unless Arenas ignites 07 form and Hedo realises he’s 6’10.
    Atlanta as currently constructed isn’t going to get it done, and Jamal Crawford is probably gone too.
    Milwaukee needs to trade some of the great player assets they’ve assembled before they become a threat. They’ve also got to get healthy (looking at you Brandon, Bogut and Mike Redd!)
    Boston? I’d say they’ve got 1 more year with Shuttlesworth extending for 1 more year. KG is 35 now. They don’t have strong interior play without Shaq and the Perkins trade. Jeff Green HAS to step up, and Glen Davis was absolutely atrocious throughout the playoffs. I’d say this coming season is their last legitimate shot at winning it all.
    Chicago – need more scoring. Starters, bench, whatever. They really struggle to score the ball. I don’t know how much higher Rose can elevate his game (no pun intended) although he’s been tremendous every year. Omer Asik looks really promising, and so does Taj Gibson. Boozer just needs to sort his sh*t out in general, and (I highly doubt this), but if Noah developed a 10ft shot to go with his great high-post passing, they’d be significantly more dangerous.
    Bogans & Brewer appear to have peaked. So does Korver.
    I’m intrigued by Deng though. I think if Chicago is going to make a trade, he’d be involved despite his large contract and his overall play.

    So, basically, if the Mavericks loose game 5 (and therefore likely the series), the other teams are pretty fu*ked unless major changes go down.
    So, you know, Go Mavs!

  • rich

    he makes the game too difficult for himself because of that ability to pass and vision, if he just said ” im gonna go this way and i dare u to stop me” he would do just fine

  • MUBWAR

    seriously a little cleveland bron is due in these Finals. Stay away Bosh, you too Wade. The King will sh!t all over the mavs tonight

  • Anthony

    i look forward to Lebron showing ppl WHY he’s better than MJ WITH 50 PTS, 10REB 15 ASST………. GO HEAD AND CRUCIFY ME

  • rkirby

    @anthony yeah i dont know what everyone’s deal is…MJ had 8 point performances in pivotal games of the finals too, except he called them quarters

  • Red Star

    @Anthony Talk to me when LeBron has 6 rings!!!!!!!

  • Overtime

    Agree with Hursty. Lets not forget just who the Heat have on their roster…Juwan Howard, Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller just hasnt been on form…
    Barring major injury, how could this team possibly get worse?
    They will only add quality pieces, key players will be queing up at the Florida border (and they aint headed to Disneyworld).
    Imagine the difference if Nene was in the middle, or Andre Miller running the point?

  • http://slamonline.com 1982

    More like judgement day for Dirk and the Mavs. Hate all you want, but the Heat look like they’ll be in the fight for at the very least the Conference Finals for the next 6-8 years, but the Mavs might not be back. Get game 5, and you just might be able to steal game 7 IN MIAMI. What was the stat? Every single team tied at 2-2 that won game 5 won the series (except for LA last year) for the last 50 years? The Heat are a team built to break convention… Tonight, ze German needs to be reDirkulous.

  • http://slamonline.com 1982

    Red Star “Is that your only argument?”

  • http://pickandroll.tumblr.com airs

    i read thru hursty’s comment and agree, for the most part.
    the only reason i say that is because if teams can make some moves, such as the bulls possibly getting dwight (AND GIL PLEASE!), i think that would throw a wrench in miami’s plans for 7+ titles.
    and maybe cp3 does end up in NY, who knows what could happen with tha
    oh and im also glad that ppl haven’t started talking about dwade’s being guarded by kidd so he’s going off and lebron has better defenders so thats why he’s struggling.
    yeah. we get it, its been said only about 200 times now.

  • http://WWW.SLAMONLINE.COM Benn0

    I honestly think he’ll have good numbers tonight, but it will take away from dwade and bosh, and they’ll go and lose – go mavs!

  • http://slamonline.com truballer

    The king will rise to the occassion an destory the mavs tonight..!,he has one bad game an gets fried for it..! wait an see haters heat in 6!.. the heat is on.

  • Byebye

    It doesn’t take 6 rings all he needs is the first and he’ll start really winning

  • add

    the titles great, so true

  • Exile

    1982 – Nice pick-up.
    BUT seriously… If LeBron is fired up, who can stop him? Wade has a much stronger mental game (hence the dogged determination), but the two are such amazing athletes and players that you can’t “challenge” them and expect them to NOT put up great games.

  • http://simplastics.com TF

    the answer is no one can stop him. tonight will be a masterpiece of a basketball game from this guy. he will be all over the floor on defense and facilitating this offense. get your popcorn ready.

  • JTaylor21

    Talk is cheap!

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    “It’s the only argument he needs,” 1982!

  • fruizm

    i hope lebron does something like when he played the magic earlier this season…after being dissed by svg….how many pts did he score in the 1st quarter??? like 20???

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cheryl

    He uses “myself” a lot and in all the wrong places. I wish one of his handlers would tell him the proper use of the reflexive pronoun. As a teacher, it bugs the hel1 out of me.

  • WintaaRose

    I hope the Lebron that played chicago in game 3/4 last season shows up, when they “dared” him to take jump shots.or the Lebron that had 51 in orlando this season when they were questioning his competitiveness.He was unconcious & unstoppable.Most importantly, I hope they win! =D

  • @Deknowz

    I really hopes he puts up something outlandish like 70, 15, 15 in a Heat win to shut people up. The world has way too many haters in it! Let the dude live his life.

  • goattree

    @Hursty – You left out the Raptors. Can your crystal ball of insight please breakdown the championship aspirations of my beloved Dinos?

    Personally I hope the LeBron who found out his mom was getting diddled by Delonte last year, shows up for tonights game and Dirk scores 70 points! BAM

  • Nate C

    Nice “bad teacher” references guys

  • underdog

    I’m rooting for the Mavs here, but LeBron is going to take off tonight… Hope the defense is ready.

  • http://www.bulls.com Rigo Gonzalez

    While I agree with Hursty that few teams, if any, will be able to seriously challenge the Heat as they’re currently constructed, I’ve never agreed with this whole notion that if the Heat win the title this year, that it’s all over for the other 29 teams and the Heat will win the next 6 or 7 (as some other people have said).
    I honestly don’t see the Heat winning more than three, MAYBE four titles, though not consecutively.
    Thing is, the other teams AREN’T going to stand pat, all the other 29 teams will have their sights set on the Heat and will try to come up with their own way of trying to challenge them.
    Of course, very few will succeed.
    But every year there will be two or three teams that will be serious threats to the Heat.
    And the other major thing to look forward to, is this trend of superstars joining forces probably won’t go away.
    I’m willing to bet Dwight Howard’s been on the phone with Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Derrick Rose already, trying to decide who he wants to be his future point guard.
    Also I’m willing to bet one or two teams that are doormats for the rest of the league right now will become a very dangerous squad in the next five years through draft picks and a few trades, much in the same way the Thunder did.
    And finally, everything the Heat had to go through this season won’t go away any time soon. The media scrutiny. The coach on the hot seat. The questions about who’s team it is. Whatever internal strife they may have going on that we’re not privy to.
    Oh, they’ll be dominant. They’ll win titles. But like I said, six or seven in a row?
    Nah.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    The Heat are only getting better, and their superstar roster might be grandfathered in, while the rest of the league tries to compete under huge salary restrictions. — Also LeBron is getting better, so is Bosh. I see Miami winning between 5-7 titles over the next decade, well I see them and OKC taking all of the next 4 or 5, with wherever Dwight goes making a jump soon after.

  • AQWORD

    For all the bullish peeps are talkin. Like it’s all about Bron & how many points he needs to score. All Miami need to do is win the game.

  • george w buckets

    twitter is blowing up right now about a possible rashard lewis – lebron’s girlfriend connection…. any truth to this?

  • http://fkjslf.com Jukai

    Wouldn’t it be funny if Lebron scores five points but has 12 rebounds, 18 assists, 5 steals, 5 blocks and plays crushing defense for the W?
    I wonder if that was what he was trying to do in game 4, just to say “F ALL Y’ALL!!!!”

  • http://www.slamonline.com Angel of Stern

    I feel like Lebron should be starting point guard this series with mike miller getting more minutes, I feel like that would be so much more effective. I can’t really think of any major drawbacks there would be from making that switch… Am I crazy or does anyone else agree with that?

  • -Mas-

    I still think J-Kidd deserves a ring more than anyone else on the court.
    Cuban too. I wish he could own a team in the East as well.
    Mr. James needs to look at Kidd for inspiration. 18 years in L and still playing hard for a ring.
    He has dominated without scoring the rock and still got his props.
    Should’ve won an MVP with the Nets but taking an awful team to the Finals 2 years in a row is not enough I guess.
    Jason Kidd is one of the most fun players in the L to watch and learn from. Go Mavs. No hate on the Heat.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Angel of Stern

    especially now since jj is starting… he would have to guard wade or mike miller…

  • Da Holy Karron

    YALL KILLIN ME!!!!! Hahaha this is a lbj love party…. But hate him or love him he still doing him why ppl are engaged with so much hate on him..

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    Totally unrelated but this is interesting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWPt826EGM8&feature=feedu

  • O

    Son had a bad game. He wasn’t really trying to score, he’s realized that Wade is Jordan and he is Pippen, so he tried to play that role and it didn’t quite work out. I’d bet Baby (Wack-ass-Heat-bandwagon-hoppin’-rapper) money that he goes off for at LEAST 30 points. And that “Now or Never” tweet or whatever on his part was IDIOTIC!!! We all know the Heat will contend for years to come. It’s now or never for the Mavs cause I mean, come on. Their starting point guard does commercials for Six Flags Great Adventure during the off season! I hope the basketball gods let the Mavs win it all this year so their veterans can retire with one ring.

  • http://slamonline.com henkenzo

    PE was wrong, you gotta believe the hype.

    this series far from over. game 5 wont be pivotal, its goin down to 7

  • wildcats

    Why wasn’t he telling Miami that he has spoiled them with performances in the past?
    Oh wait, I see why….

  • http://slamonline Brion

    This morning on Mike & Mike radio show, Stephen A Smith reported that Lebron had a “personal issue” prior to last game that he couldnt speculate on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    @Brion I heard a rumor today that Lebron’s girl cheated on him with Rashard Lewis(I don’t really believe it, just an idea)

  • http://www.slamonline.com Angel of Stern

    @BlackPhantom, yeah I heard that too, although that would be an insane thing for her to do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    Tell me about it, man if that was true I really wouldn’t expect Lebron to do anything else great this series. It’s gotta be heartbreaking to lose your girl to some scrub like Rashard Lewis.

  • Deon

    Not hating on Lebron, but when you have that much talent you have to be judged on the scale of the greats in great moments. With this team if they stay healthy they have to win at leat 3 rings or it is slightly less than successful.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Heat are lucky to get three rings before the disease of more kills them.

  • http://fkjslf.com Jukai

    You know why I don’t think that rumor is true? Because why another basketball player? Why not some dude under the radar who we’ve never heard of? That’s more believable. Rashard Lewis? C’mon now.

  • http://www.slamonline.com unf*ckwitable

    Bron will drop bombs tonight.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    Yeah I agree Jukai

  • JL

    Seriously this is the best chance for the rest of the league to win a Championship for the next 4-5 years. Maybe 3-4 because you never know with injuries and them all getting old. But I would say the next 3 years would be the prime time this big 3 have together. Mavs better win when they have a chance! And it’s just reality I am not a Heat fan just gotta realize what’s going to happen. Not saying they will win all next 3 years but they will have the best chance.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    We built this city on rock and roll

  • http://slamonline.com 1982

    Rashard Lewis? In other news, Bill Gate’s wife left him for the local Geek Squad manager.

  • http://wwww.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    shard shaq’d bron????!?!?!?!?!?!? i wonder if bron called gil……..

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    C’mon Darce. That’s gotta be the worst Rock song of all-time

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    …but your singing it aren’t you… oh yeah…

  • http://twitter.com/hurstysyd Hursty

    That’s why I said “unless major changes go down.”
    I don’t know how hard it would be for them to win back to back, or 3x in a row – I’m not an NBA player, but for that period of time, I’d say there are very few legit threats unless teams make moves.

  • O

    Don’t sleep on Rashard Lewis. He was blamming out Rihanna right after Chris Brown and before everyone got a chance. He knows how to turn b*tches out!

  • slamfan4life

    nice game bron

  • Raeniel

    Ask LeBron James for a dollar and he’ll give you 75 cents. He never gives you the fourth quarter.

  • Jackie Moon

    Where was this huge spectacular game from LBJ we were promised by all his fans? Oh, he had a triple double, you say? Great.

  • QuinnTheEskimo

    @Raeniel..Classic!

  • Geek

    @Raeniel niiiiiiiice!

  • Logan

    not the greatest Lebron fan here but he seems to be in a funk of sorts. The only time I thought he was going to take over was when he posted up Marion (on the double dribble no call). He looked aggressive only then. He seemed to phase out again after

  • flipnoyce

    I said time and time again since before the finals started, this is MAVS year. I can’t see the HEAT beating them two in a row at home. LEBRON will be fine even if he doesn’t win a ring this year.His legacy is already cemented in the books and in people’s mind. He is still very young and has a lot time to learn and improve on his game. Jordan was 28 years old when he won his first. What Lebron have to realize is he needs to have a KILLER mentality and seize the moment.

  • jumpman

    why does everyone hate on the Heats??? They have so many superstars on their team, yet everyone still hates them, i don’t get it. Jordan and his teammates in Chicago used to be the best of the best, but they never had this many haters. WTF is wrong with people these days? Those haters are rooting for Dallas, not because they like Dallas, but because they hate Miami. WHAT’S WITH ALL THE HATE?!?! It’s ruining basketball! People need to learn how to enjoy the game, instead of being punka$$ haters…

  • Mike From Spain

    @jumpman -> I don’t have to like the Heat. There is no obligation to like any given team.

  • tomtom

    Is last night was judgment day then consider him judged. He passed and played well but one of the g.o.a.t.s? Dont make me laugh man. Long….live…..Dwades sidekick.

  • IAMORANGE4EVER

    LONG LIVE 3 QUARTER JAMES!

  • MikeC.

    I don’t see how the Heat are going to win 6 in a row. Is Wade still going to be carrying the team in 4, 5 or 6 years? People are saying the Celtics are done because they’re too old. Wade is 29 now, which puts him right in the middle of his prime. Since he’s not a lights-out perimeter shooter like Shuttlesworth or Reggie, when he hits that 33-34 years old area, the drop-off could be pretty drastic. Since it’s obvious that he’s the leader and the closer of this team, then their title hopes go as Wade goes. Two or three rings before this Heat team is done? Maybe, if they shore up their bench so they don’t have to rely on Mike “held together by duct tape” Miller and Juwan “I’m 75, but still look like I’m in the Fab 5″ Howard to play key playoff minutes. Miller is good and a great fit with the Heat’s current roster, but he’s not exactly an ironman.
    @Allenp – I was thinking the same thing yesterday at work. The disease of more gets every team. More minutes, more shots, more endorsements, more spotlight. It’s going to happen, which means a shakeup will have to come in the next 3-4 years max. Probably sooner with the harsh spotlight that follows these guys everywhere. At some point, one of the key players will just say “Enough of this crap. I want to actually enjoy playing basketball again, please trade me.”

  • MikeC.

    @Hursty – You forgot about New York. Other than the Bulls, NY is the team with the best shot at being a roadblock for the Heat. The Bulls are almost there. They just need to add a good wing scorer, which could be tough. It’s not like other Eastern teams are going to line up to help the Bulls unless they’re dumping salary. They’re going to have to do their shopping in the West, and Noah might be the price since Rose isn’t going anywhere and Boozer is also staying in Chi forever (for different reasons). The Knicks have done their heavy lifting by getting Amare and Melo. They need depth and a mobile 5. Since NY finally has some draft picks and financial flexibility, the Knicks seem poised to make a jump into the upper tier of the East when we get another season.

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