by Ben Osborne
Like most NBA fans, the majority of my first-round viewing was spent on the drama-filled series. Blazers-Rockets. Mavs-Spurs. Pacers-Hawks. You get the point. At 5 p.m. PST, on the last Monday in April, however, I found myself in a Portland hotel with no NBA TV. The only game on was the last of the Bobcats-Heat series. I actually like the (then-)Bobcats’ colors and uniforms, and the (now-)Hornets’ coaches and roster. And you should know how I feel about LeBron. There’d just been better things to watch, you know?
And then it hit me: if you like basketball played perfectly, there’s never anyone better to watch than LeBron. In about 20 minutes of real time, I saw him score in the post, score on a jumpshot, drop perfect dimes on such disparate players as Ray Allen, Chris Andersen and Norris Cole, and take a charge, punctuated by a happy point at charge-master Shane Battier on the Miami bench. The Bobcats were short-handed without Al Jefferson, and there was no doubt the Heat were taking the series, but it was clear they wanted to at least get one win—a singular Playoff victory in the Bobcat Era. But King James was having none of it. That game, and seemingly every game he plays in, was under his control. And that dictated a victory for the Heat. It was a lot like the 250-plus other Miami victories LeBron has authored since he arrived in South Beach to much pomp and circumstance (not to mention nation-wide hate) back in 2010. Believe it or not, that contract is about to be done. Will James stay in Miami? The bet here is yes, but no matter what, a chapter is winding down and we wanted to re-live it before it ended. Hence this month’s cover and photo-driven look back. Something tells me our readers are singing a different song about Bron than they were four years ago.
P.S. As ever, I’m leaving the heavy political discussion to Dave Zirin, but I can’t ignore Donald Sterling completely. My main emotions are sadness and guilt. Sad because of the hurt he caused people; guilt because like every other writer, executive, player and coach who makes their living off the NBA, I’d heard the stories about this monster, and yet hadn’t done anything substantial about it. We all should have done more to get rid of him a long time ago.