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Thursday, July 14th, 2011 at 12:55 pm  |  58 responses

Indecision

The LeBron James drama isn’t even close to over.

by Dave Zirin / @edgeofsports

It was a year ago that LeBron James shocked the world by telling us he was taking his talents to South Beach. It was the most publicized, scrutinized and harshly criticized free-agency decision in sports history. Some fans hated it because he was “stabbing Cleveland in the back.” Others hated it because they saw LeBron shunning the chance to be “the man” in New York to go to “Dwyane Wade’s team” in a “bad” sports town.

LeBron defenders had their own arguments. He took less money to play with his friends and try to win “not five, not six, not seven—multiple” Championships. Shouldn’t that be admirable? This is a young man with two other players, taking control of their destinies. Why is that so threatening? Also, if you were 26, unimaginably wealthy, and could live in Cleveland or South Beach, where would you choose? But despite all the off-season noise, the answer would blessedly be settled on the court. After 82 games, four rounds of Playoff action and a six-game loss in the NBA Finals to the Mavs, do we have a Decision verdict?

First, in the regular season at least, LeBron was nobody’s second banana. He made First-Team All-NBA, the only member of the Big Three to do so, averaging 26.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7 assists per. This was in line with career averages of 27.7 points, 7.1 boards and 7 dimes. James also shot a career-high 51 percent from the field. Given that he was playing with two other All-Stars, was asked to run the offense and often guard the other team’s best player, the numbers are remarkable. The team itself was less smooth. At times the Heat looked like no one could hope to beat them. Other times they looked mortal, especially at crunch time. Overall, in my judgment, they looked a year away from greatness.

But then the Heat did something unforgivable: They overperformed in the Playoffs. LeBron was carrying an ailing Wade in the early rounds and the consensus was that he had erased all concerns about his ability to come through in the clutch. To see him bully and dominate MVP Derrick Rose was to see a baller at the height of his powers: a King. The ease with which they dispatched the Celtics and Bulls made the sports blabocracy believe that the future was, in fact, now. By the time the Heat were up big in Game 2, the storyline was going something like this: “This isn’t a Finals. It’s a coronation.”

The rest of the story we know. There’s Dwyane Wade taking on the primary scoring load. There’s LeBron playing hot potato with the ball—passive, deferential and unwilling to take it to the rim. In an article titled “LeBron Just Wasn’t LeBron Throughout the NBA Finals,” Israel Gutierrez of the Miami Herald wrote, “James was playing the same game he had been playing since the series started: standing around the perimeter, whipping passes side to side, hoping offensive execution would mask the fact that he wanted no part of taking over games. Think about this for a second: How many times this year did you get upset because James stalled the offense by standing in front of his man and waiting until the final seconds of the shot clock to put on a move? Regardless of what the result was, that was one of the most memorable and repetitive scenes we’ve seen in his first season in Miami. Now, how many times do you remember him doing that in this series? Hard to remember even a couple. Did he choose this series to suddenly perform within the offense at all times? If so, why? No, these are the kind of inexplicable parts of LeBron James’ performance in this series that will haunt him, will haunt this franchise, will linger with him for the entirety of next season.”

Now the same commentators who praised LeBron early in the series are rushing to see who can bury him most extremely. All the success from the regular season and Playoffs forgotten—rejoice in his misfortune! That I will not do. If you are a fan of this beautiful game, James’ potential on the biggest stage is something you should hope he can reach. You don’t have to root for him to win. But you should hope to see him—win or lose—play to the height of his powers. One thing is certain: We still don’t have an answer as to whether or not the Decision was correct.

Clearly, this team has the potential to win multiple rings. Clearly, this is the work in progress many of us thought it had to be. To ask whether LeBron would do it all again is to assume the journey is done.

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  • KING DAVID

    he sucks

  • http://www.slamonline.com Max

    The memories of someone choking..

  • http://miamidolphins.com walton sucks

    save this link, come back in 10 years and see that you were wrong. He’ll have at least 3, guaranteed.

  • dahon

    play in turkey

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

    It wont be over until he stops choking in the playoffs.

  • http://www.facebook.com The Philosopher

    THE most scrutinized athlete of all time.
    LONG… LIVE… THE KING!

  • SwaGG_SeaN

    Well well well I knew that the king wasn’t ready for the throne not say I’m hating or anything but fact is lebrick is a overrated crab dribbling player with no footwork

  • BAWSE

    He is a great player. Just not what NIKE and the tv sportscenter wants him to be. People hated Kobe so much that they rushed to put up Lebron as the greatest. Dude has no excuses. The last two years the Cavs had the best record and manhandled the teams THEY LOST UNDERWHELMINGLY in the playoffs. The excuses was he had no help. Now SLAM is making excuses saying look at the other rounds. WELL LETS LOOK. He played the Sixers first round. Only one game was close and he lost it with the last bulldrive shot of the game. He beat a Celtics team that had their center shipped and major player hurt. He then beat a one man bull team. Game 2 he was up 15 and choked. To be fair it was Wade that was killing them. Averaged 2.5 pg in the 4th qtr except GAME 6 when it was a blowout by the 4th. CMON HE AINT NO KING. He gives you a great 3.5 qtrs and is the ultimate front runner. If a team stays close and competes with Lebron he crumbles. PERIOD.

  • andre anglais

    “not to say I’m hating…” hahaha thats funny Swag

  • BAWSE

    I dont care how many rings he buddy hustles his way to! He aint a champ. Period. He will win a ring b.c his team will just be flat out better and D Wade realizes he has to be the man in the clutch ( and watch Lebron take the credit). I think the Lebron hype needs to be tempered. He is like Paper Manning. Great numbers guys but when it gets tough they get ghost.

  • BAWSE

    He is a great player. Just not what NIKE and the tv sportscenter wants him to be. People hated Kobe so much that they rushed to put up Lebron as the greatest. Dude has no excuses. The last two years the Cavs had the best record and manhandled the teams THEY LOST UNDERWHELMINGLY in the playoffs. The excuses was he had no help. Now SLAM is making excuses saying look at the other rounds. WELL LETS LOOK. He played the Sixers first round. Only one game was close and he lost it with the last bulldrive shot of the game. He beat a Celtics team that had their center shipped and major player hurt. He then beat a one man bull team. Game 2 he was up 15 and choked. To be fair it was Wade that was killing them. Averaged 2.5 pg in the 4th qtr except GAME 6 when it was a blowout by the 4th. CMON HE AINT NO KING. He gives you a great 3.5 qtrs and is the ultimate front runner. If a team stays close and competes with Lebron he crumbles. PERIOD.

  • BAWSE

    They wont post my other anti Lebron comments. Hmmm I wonder why

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    I dislike the guy alot, and I don’t want him to win, but y’all are lying is you say he sucks and that the way he plays the game (finals not included) isn’t amazing. I’m not ussually the person to hop to this guys defense, but despite my dislike for the dude, I can’t help but marvel at his excellence on the court.

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    ^Cause he is THE KING.

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    *@BAWSE*

  • All Day

    “We still don’t have an answer as to whether or not the Decision was correct.” If you’re referring to his decision to leave Cleveland, it was a CORRECT decision. I don’t think he was ever going to win a championship in Cleveland and LeBron knew that. If you’re referring to the one-hour televised event, it was an INCORRECT decision…even LeBron admitted he wished he would have done some things differently.

  • T-Money

    Yawn. Miami is not going anywhere, when does this stop becoming news? First team All-NBA, #1 in jersey sales, #1 in shoes and #1 in endorsement money. Bron is not going anywhere either.

  • All Day

    A crown must be earned…no one is handed the crown…I would think LeBron should win at least one champtionship, before anyone calls him “THE KING”

  • robb

    BAWSE is right. Everybody wanted Lebron to be the savior, (MJ part II), but maybe he doesn’t want to be that savior. He’s awesome, but he’s not the King, if he was he wouldn’t do what he always does: Underperform when it matters the most. He’s the ultimate talent but he’s not the ultimate competitor, yes he wants to win but he gets scared at the last minute and true competitors don’t do that. Wade is a true competitor Lebron isn’t. Enjoy his game for what it is not what it should be.

  • http://slamonline.com sergio

    I feel sorry for him now. Losing in the Finals, choking, everybody hating on him, going bald, crazy mother, etc…I have become a fan now. Poor guy.

  • All Day

    @robb: LeBron is the ultimate talent, but he’s missing one key element that he will never be able to learn, development, or buy…a killer instinct.

  • All Day

    LeBron lacks a killer instinct…that’s the reason why he always comes up short in big moments. By teaming with D-Wade, LeBron thought he would be able to avoid being placed in those big moments of a game. Now that LeBron is part of a super-team, there will always be a microscope on him and people will be analyzing and dissecting everything he says and does…I’m sure that’s not what LeBron wants, but that’s his new reality now.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Double Yawn!!!! Are we still talking about the “decision”? It’s being what one full year now. Damn! the media sucks, those clowns have nothing to talk about or are to lazy to go out there and dig up new stories, so they spend their entire day “writing” the same rehearsed decision articles they wrote last july. At least we know that none of y’all will be winning any Pulitzers for these gems.

  • http://slamonline.com Spaceship Jay

    I agree… with the fact that the same people that praised him are now doing there best to tear him down, like ESPN… while absolutley HILARIOUS, that mix they did called the “Year of Lebron” was pretty uncalled for (“This gon’ be easy!”-”Nobody ever said that this gon’ be easy”)… As a man, I’m big on sticking to the script. If you were on his @#$% before, please, don’t hop off… it leaves a foul odor, like Pine Sol and dog vommit.

  • http://slamonline.com Spaceship Jay

    I greatly appreciate the Philosopher’s dedication to Lebron, through thick and thin.

  • O

    The problem is that LeBron and Wade have the same kind of game. Bosh is different cause he actually has a post game. Truth is, they need to trade LeBron Or Wade for Dwight, or CP3. But that ain’t going to happen, and NO one is going to take Bosh for Dwight or CP3. I’m loving my Knicks chances of winning a title within the next few years. That is unless Isiah returns. Then we’ll be signing JJ Barea to a max contract or something…

  • DieselMechanic

    They got it next year. Lebron will beast in the Finals.

  • seriousblack

    Can we all agree that the lockout has taken much of the attention away from Miami’s EPIC FAIL this summer? This lockout has been Lebron’s savior especially.

  • http://www.slamonline.com UNFROZEN CAVEMAN LAWYER

    DIESELMECHANIC GETS IT

  • Red Star

    It’s over for me! Kobe! Lakers 4 Life!!

  • Byebye

    Quit talking bout a guy who in everyone’s opinion is a bum a choke artist and a wimp
    Got to other post don’t talk about someone who u can’t stand don’t watch him play if u don’t like him flat out
    The season is a month over and the decision is a year old get over it Cleveland got lucky cuz they tricked the clippers into taking mo bum Williams for b Davis an a first round pick which turned out to be the first pick oh the irony
    Like bron said go on with ur lived lol

  • Bobby Bebee

    Bawse and Robb,

    I pretty sure you are two of the people LBJ was referring to during the Game 6 press conference. At the end of the day, Lebron will have multiple championships and you two will remain bitter souls who spend your time delighting in other’s failure. I could post about his accomplishments, productivity, clutch play in the playoffs, but I realize it will fall on deaf ears. You will not entertain logic now or ever.

    My suggestion would be to get a life and focus on something positive.

  • Dexter

    Bobby Bebee
    At the end of what day? Not the day of Game 6, not today, today all of the haters get to rejoice in his failure. For at least the next 11 months the haters win. You and he should face that and understand that lashing out does not help. When Shaq made his now famous rap about Kobe, there was no verbal response needed. The response of a real man is action, which resulted in 2 more rings. LBJ should take notes of that like he was taking note of all the people criticizing earlier in the season. Now he looks bad for the taking notes comment as much as he does “gonna be easy” comments. Dirk and PAu had to take the “soft” tag until they did something about it,LBJ will just have to do the same.How is that for logic?

  • JL

    i love how lebron’s supporters like to guarantee multiple championships for lebron. just like he guaranteed 7 championships. i already did the math before and it’s impossible for them to get 7 since they will all be old together. And they wasted a year this year too cuz he chickened out. there’s a difference between a guy who will take the shot and miss (kobe) and a guy who won’t even take it (lebron). You think there’s a perfect in between guy but it’s either one or the other. Cuz if you have doubt you are not going to make the shot. Lebron’s pretty close to it but it’s just stange how he doesn’t take over when he has the most dominating game right now. his bruising style (although not fundamentally sound) is pretty much unstoppable unless he stops himself. The heatles was a case of the sum of the 3 parts resulting in less than the 3 apart. you put them together, with 3 similar players (lebron and wade are pretty close except bron is taller, and bosh is taller still but still more an outside shooter/slasher for a big man), and there’s no yin and yang. They are trying to get out of each other’s ways.

  • Swagger

    I don’t want to see him to win a ring after that decision. He’s in weak personality.

  • T-Money

    sergio: mmm not sure what line of work you’re in to feel sorry for a global megastar making 50 mil a year for doing something he truly loves. i know it would make some of you losers feel better about yourselves but i’m pretty sure lebron is happy with his life.
    o: there is no “problem”, they came within 2 games from winnning a title in their first year together with mike bibby and joel anthony in their starting 5. UD and mike miller will be fully healthy when play resumes and they’ll be ready to roll.

  • TheCelticFan

    A lot of good points being made on here for and aganst LBJ; nevertheless at the end of the day it’s up to Lebron to put the haters to bed and the negative stereotypes to rest. I’m not a big fan of his but I respect and appreciate his game; although like Bawse stated he averaged 2.5 points in the fourth quater – that’s totally unexceptable. In any other profession that type of lack of perfomance would have warranted a deduction in pay; Love him or hate him – LBJ got to do better.

  • ogog

    i think we all “hate” Lebron but secretly want him to go well so we can be apart of something amazing, similar to when Bird or Jordan were in their primes.

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    Shout out @Spaceship Jay.

  • RiggedTeamsAreBoring

    You are wrong. There is no drama. Rigged teams are boring. We only watch to laugh now. When a rigged team win’s it’s just the meaningless accomplishment of team riggers. When a rigged team loses, it’s wicked good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://Whoislebron.com Chris Wise

    Check out http://whoislebron.com, number one source for LeBron Jame discourse

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

    @ ogog – sorry thats not correct in any way. but thanks for playing.

  • Galagu

    well written…only way he gonna get all the hate off is..to…win…

  • http://slamonline.com Michael

    All this hate, all these theories (eg. they can’t win with Lebron and DWade on the same team), all these experts – and in their first season they lost in the finals to a man who was on a mission and playing some riDirkulous ball. They beat the bulls, easily, the celtics, easily. Be careful y’all. Wade and Lebron showed it can work.

  • ripslam

    Hold up hold up hold up. What exactly was the point of this article? Not only does it state the obvious, but it just reiterates the same points that have been hashed for a month now. Every couple weeks SLAM gives us another “not-going-to-take-a-side” article about LeBron’s Finals failure. Move on.

  • BostonBaller

    Miami has the potential to win multiple rings but it will not be a cake walk as many fans and maybe many of their players thought. Teams will not rollover and hand them a title, they have to take it and if they don’t do that next year or the next at the latest they may not be given a chance by management. LBJ is a beast as I’ve always said but he does have some things he seriously needs to work on. He isn’t quite at the level that his most devout fans say he is yet and I laugh at how bad his detractors say he is. That’s would be like me saying that Magic sucked just b/c he played for the Lakers against my Bird led C’s. I would have called myself an idiot then slapped myself awake. lol I still say that if teams actually played “real” defense and individuals took pride in stopping guys the scoring averages of guys who drove the lane (especially with power) would dro.. that includes PDouble, LBJ and others who get into the lane. OK pick it apart, I’m fair game. lol. WZUP Philosopher

  • Morgan

    @ Philosopher “THE most scrutinized athlete of all time.” – Really?? I think your forgetting OJ Simpson.

  • http://zarky01 zarky

    As much as I hate him, I feel sorry for the guy. If only he would learn some humility. This dude was handed the world at age 15 or so, ESPN games at high school, basketball contract before he even stepped in the NBA. Man, if only this guy had REAL FRIENDS, that would tell him what is right from wrong, and stand up to him when he does something stupid.. (sigh)

  • http://hotnewhiphop.com/turkey_g_and_finky Alex Fink

    First of all some facts about the DEcision no one ever considers. Did anyone complain or criticize that fact that Lebron was doing the Decision before it actually went down. They had hours on ESPN talking about it and it was never a controversy until he actual said he wasn’t going to Clevland. That shows that no matter how he said he was going to MIami all you people would have a problem. Second, don’t forget all the money was donated to the Boy’s and Girl’s club, and we all know that was a lot of money.
    The stats speak for themselves, and he didn’y fill his potential in the finals. He is the hardest worker in the NBA, next is D-Wade. They will comback and step on everyone this season in the next. I don’t know how age will end up factoring in in the future. But don’t Hate just to Hate.

    I respect athletes and so should anyone else that thinks they know sports.

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    @Morgan:
    Maybe, but O.J.’s athletic days were over when he came under the scrutiny. He also was scrutinized for things other than athleticism.
    The King has drawn awe AND wonder since he was like 4 years old. lol. We dissect his every word and critique. We anticipate. We wait expectantly for the immense greatness that he possesses to procure AND deliver itself to the masses. And it has in flashes.
    But, he is so much more talented than anyone else in the world at what he does that, we expect even greater antics from him.
    When he seemingly fails, the masses are in shock and express extraordinary confusion and befuddlement.
    This is unprecedented.
    This is The King’s time. He doesn’t ever even have to win a single ring in all reality. In truth, him not winning a ring would only add to his legend.
    He would be the greatest player of all time who didn’t win a ring.
    We’ll cross that bridge if and when we get to it…
    At this point, this juncture, The King can never really live up to the hype that has been bestowed onto him. He would have to win the next 50 titles, all in a row…
    And, shout out to the good brother BostonBaller!

  • http://www.slamonline.com UNFROZEN CAVEMAN LAWYER

    THE PHILOSOPHER IS A CRACK SMOKING, POLE SITTING, DOG SH1T STEALING, BOOGER EATING, DEAD RACCOON SMELLING, TORTOISE BRAINED RETARD.

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    ^Winning.

  • http://WWW.SLAMONLINE.COM joooo

    Who gives one about the love of the game. You support your team (through good times and bad), and your players, and then you may have respect for other players, and then you dislike other players (because of their actions), and for me that is lebron, and i would enjoy seeing him flop for the rest of his career.
    And don’t try and defend his actions, and call me a “hater”, because when he was at cleveland i enjoyed watching him. so please don’t talk about if you love the game, then you’ll want him to play at his best, because that is what glory hunters do!

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    Unfrozen Caveman Lawer:
    Feces thief.
    Dog sh1t stealing.
    Turdburglar.
    Shout out @TARZAN COOPER!!
    HA!!

  • Ankeet

    I agree..He’s overly scrutinized by the media and fans.. To a disheartening level..

    Check this video out.. Pretty much sums up the “hate”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1mKqiC329E

  • http://www.sittonread.com Charles Sitton -Sittonread.com

    First off all good article. Its one of the first I have read that doesn’t bash Lebron James.

    Really Haters, besides the decision, what has Lebron James ever done to deserve all this scrutiny? Don’t worry I’ll wait………………………

    Anyways there are so many other athletes people and the media elevates who should not be elevated for example Tom Brady. Ask Bridget Moynahan how good of a person Tom Brady is. Lebron James has done nothing to deserve the hate that he receives and anyone who is so focused on hating him that much ( Ohio) is really pathetic and needs to get a life.

  • rich

    i hardly think lebron has any mental issues in his game he just struggles to score one on one in the half court without using a screen. the reason it shows in the fourth is because he cant use a screen or they will just trap and make him pass, which he is also critized for. if he had a better set of actual basketball moves( stepbacks, crossovers, post ups, mid range pullup) he would perform better. its not that he gets a bunch of good looks in the fourth he ends up taking a shot that looks uncomfortable which is everything that isnt a layup or a walk in 3 pointer

  • hillbilly

    @UNFROZEN CAVEMAN LAWYER- Your post frightens and confuses me.

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