This is getting old, isn't it? Every time the Miami Heat and Lebron James lose a game the same questions rear their annoyingly repetitive heads. What's wrong with the Heat? Why can't Lebron James close out games? Is Erik Spoelstra's job in jeopardy? Is Chris Bosh from the Jurassic or Cretaceous period? (And you thought I couldn't fit a dinosaur era joke in the first paragraph). But here's the problem; these questions are not only tired, but they're also completely misguided.
Amidst all the repeated questions when it comes to the Heat, the most insufferable is without a doubt what's wrong with Lebron? On Tuesday, the Heat blew a 17-point lead against the Golden State Warriors. Lebron shockingly did not attempt a single shot in the fourth quarter, and several times "deferred" to Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers. It is everyone's favorite word when discussing a poor showing by Lebron. Why does the best player in the world "defer" to lesser players? Immediately after the game, reporters covering the Heat went to the archive to rehash their trusted what's wrong with Lebron articles.
However, I didn't see Lebron defer on Tuesday. I did see Lebron pass brilliantly out of double teams to wide-open teammates whose shots happened to not be dropping (particularly the three's of Mario Chalmers). What does everyone want James to do in these situations? Selfishly jack up contested shots? Try to beat double and sometimes triple teams singlehandedly? When Jordan, Bird, or Magic dished to their open teammates they were "smart basketball players" who "trusted in and made their teammates better". So why do we call it "deferring" when we talk about Lebron?
On Wednesday, the Heat lost a tough overtime battle to the Los Angeles Clippers. While Lebron was significantly more aggressive down the stretch (just as he should be), he missed some key free throws that likely would have won the game for the Heat. But here's the thing, it wasn't just Lebron, the entire Heat team went just 20 of 34 from the line. However, the loss will land on the King's shoulders.
I get it; Lebron still hasn't won a ring (remember though, Lebron just turned 27, the same age that Michael Jordan won his first ring) and had a horrible series in the Finals against the Dallas Mavericks. Yet, without the heroics of Lebron against the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls, the Heat likely doesn't have a chance of even making the Finals. To begin this year, Lebron is averaging 29.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, and 2.0 steals per game, stats that if kept up throughout the season, will likely land Lebron his third MVP award. He's improved his overall game by adding a post game, which has led to an improved Heat offense. Still, if he has one bad game or becomes a little passive, the media jumps all over him.
What other athlete has this happen to them? Aaron Rodgers was allowed a free pass when he had a sub par week against the Kansas City Chiefs and Albert Pujols' entire game isn't questioned if he has a 0 for 4 night. Everyone needs to take a deep breath and relax. The Heat weren't going to go 66-0 this year and Lebron is bound to have a few bad games throughout the course of a long, grueling season. No athlete can dominate his or her sport every single game. It's unrealistic and unfair to think Lebron will drop a triple double every game and dominate every fourth quarter of every game.
It's especially ridiculous to return to these questions repeatedly when the Miami Heat have real problems to address. The Heat still have inconsistent play at point guard and lack a veteran presence there to stabilize the team during tough stretches and ensure they get into their offensive sets. While Joel Anthony is a solid defensive player, no one is confusing him for Alonzo Mourning and he's the best option the Heat currently have at the center position. Also, during the Big Three Era, the Heat have a disturbing trend of never being at full strength due to injuries. This problem has only continued into this year as Mike Miller continues to be hindered by injuries and Eddy Curry has yet to even suit up for a regular season game. Both of who could be important contributors if they could ever get healthy and return to action.
Unfortunately, I know this isn't going to change anything. The questions about Lebron will never end. The media will continue to fret over regular season games lost in January. They will continue to worry about the likely MVP of the league, the guy that almost averages a triple double, and the guy that closed out the Bulls and Celtics in the playoffs last year. He can't win. Try to involve his teammates and he "defers". Try and take over the game and he isn't "clutch" because he misses a free throw or a shot.
Even if and when the Miami Heat wins the championship this year, the questions won't stop. Lebron won't have won during a full season. They'll talk about how it's still Dwayne Wade's team. But you know what? Just because they keep writing the same tired articles doesn't mean you have to keep reading them. Come to think of it the only way the questions might stop is if Lebron wins not one, not two, not three...oh, you know.