Thursday, June 21, 2012

2012 NBA Finals: Game 5 - Running Diary of LeBron James

Game 5
After Mario Chalmers's heroic Game 4 effort, where he scored the team's final five points, the Miami Heat hold a commanding 3-1 lead with an opportunity to win their second NBA championship tonight. Admittedly, his career night saved LeBron James and company from a heartbreaking loss that would have drastically hurt their title chances. But this is how championships are usually won -- role players step up and save their superstars when they need it the most -- Jason Terry and JJ Barea saved Dirk Nowitzki, Pau and Artest saved Kobe, Manu saved Duncan, and Robert Horry saved everyone, just to name a few.

What we've witnessed from LeBron over the course of the last few months has been nothing short of historic. We all know about the numbers he has produced and the leadership he has shown. But the most amazing thing to me is that this is coming after only 12 short months after his debacle in Dallas. This time last year, he was at the lowest point in his NBA career. He had a chance to capture his first title against the Mavericks and temporarily hush all his critics. Undeniably, he shrunk on the game's biggest stage and the entire country was there to see it. But he's back in the finals again and there's no questioning that this is his team now. Hate him or love him, if that is not mental fortitude, then I don't know what is.

I have nothing against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Kevin Durant is 23, Russell Westbrook is 23, James Harden is 22, and Serge Ibaka is 22. IF (and that's a big if) they stay together, this collection of ultra-talented individuals will have plenty more chances down the road. But this is all about LeBron James. Being the polarizing figure that he is, LeBron is the reason why the NBA is the NBA today. He is the reason why everyone will turn on their TVs tonight to see how he reacts if he wins his first title. Will he pop his jersey? Will he cry? Will he let out a primal scream? Nobody knows, and that's why everyone will be watching.

So much has been written about the Miami Heat just on this site alone in the last year.

- The running diaries for Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4
- The lack of fashion sense from Russell Westbrook.
- The infamous "good job, good effort" kid.
- The Crowning of LeBron, as well as the Coronation of King James.
- The NBA hate list where LeBron sits at the top.
- The times Jonathan Mok met Dexter Pittman and Shane Battier.
- The choke job by LeBron James.
- The awkwardness that is Chris Bosh.

Stat of the night: After Michael Jordan's first retirement in 1993, the Chicago Bulls finished with a 55-27 record and made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals without him. With Phil Jackson, Scottie Pippen, and others, they were already a very good team. On the other hand, when LeBron decided to take his talents to South Beach, the Cleveland Cavaliers went from a perennial contender to a team that won the lottery the very next year. Basically without James, they were the worst team in the league. Don't get me wrong, I'm not hating on Michael Jordan at all. I just simply want to put LeBron's worth into perspective.
8:20 PM - After the first 6 minutes, the score is 16-10 Miami. LeBron has a dunk and two and-1 layups: one on Sefolosha and one on Ibaka. If he continues to attack the rim like this, OKC has no chance. Wade picked up two quick fouls, but Coach Spo elected to keep him in the game. Big-time gamble.
8:24 PM - Durant is looking a lot more assertive tonight. He's taking shots even though he's being contested and he's really fighting hard for good position before he receives the entry pass.
8:27 PM - After Bosh's shot fake and dunk on Kendrick Perkins, OKC calls a full timeout. If the Thunder are going to allow Bosh easy layups, this may turn into a blowout.
8:38 PM - Miami is up 31-26 after the first quarter. LeBron with 7 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists. A defensive adjustment from Scott Brooks! So far, when Harden guards LeBron in the post, they are sending a HARD double team to get the ball out of his hands. Durant with two monster dunks and nine first quarter points.
8:47 PM - Mike Miller has gone 3-3 from three-point land. Ugh, James Harden just flopped his way into a LeBron offensive foul. I don't know about y'all, but he's quickly getting on my bad side. If the NBA is really serious about fining players when they flop, I am intrigued to see how much Harden will end up giving back to the league. It's gonna be a three-way battle for first place between the aforementioned Harden, Ginobili, and Dirk. Miami has the lead at 36-32, but you have to give it up to OKC -- this team never gives up.
8:54 PM - The difference in the game right now is that Battier and Miller are making shots while Harden and Fisher are not. Durant is playing fabulous. He's playing aggressively but also kicking out to wide-open shooters when given the opportunity.
9:01 PM - Bosh with unbelievable effort right now. Two huge blocks to go with his 10 points. Miami's biggest lead of the night, 48-36. Timeout OKC.
9:18 PM - Miami is up 59-49 at the end of the first half. LeBron with 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. Westbrook is out of control: turnovers, ill-advised shots, and stupid defensive mistakes. Kevin Durant with 14 points on 14 shots in the first half. Love the mindset tonight. If they lose, it should be on HIS terms. Not Westbrook's, not Harden's, not anyone's. That's what being the man means. Defensively, however, he is getting abused -- Chalmers in Game 4, now Miller in Game 5. In fact, the Thunder's defense as a whole are just not very smart. They are going for every shot fake, committing stupid fouls, and simply not staying disciplined at all.
9:35 PM - It is getting physical out there. After a couple non-calls with some major contact, which team is going to be better at making adjustments? 9:46 PM - Chalmers is stepping up in this second half. His confidence is through the roof right now, and that's only going to make it easier for LeBron, Wade, and Bosh because lanes will be more open. Durant with 21 points, keep doing your thing, young blood. 9:58 PM - The lead has ballooned to 16 points after Fisher's flagrant foul on LeBron James.
10:10 PM - Miami is up 95-72 at the end of the third quarter. LeBron with 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 11 assists. LeBron is picking apart the double teams. Can we all just acknowledge what he's doing right now?
10:17 PM - Mike Miller is 7 for 7 from the three. Just wow.
10:26 PM - The lead is at 20 points with under 8 minutes left. Durant is still competing. And stranger things have happened, especially in this year's playoffs.
10:39 PM - LOL at OKC giving up with over 5 minutes left. Good job, good effort.
10:42 PM - The game is basically over. Miami is up 116-96 with 3 minutes left. LeBron with 26 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists. Triple double. Dwayne Wade and LeBron James check out of the game. LeBron, knowing it will be Juwan Howard's first ring after 18 years in the league, congratulates him first as he subs into the game.
10:45 PM - The entire crowd is chanting to Kanye West - Power. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
10:46 PM - 121-106. Game over. Miami wins Game 5 and takes the series 4-1. The 2012 NBA Champions - Miami Heat. It is their second title in seven years, and more importantly, it is LeBron's first.
10:47 PM - The Thunder players realize how much this means for LeBron James. Wow. Great show of class.
10:49 PM - Durant is the only Thunder player crying. Great to see. It reminds me of Dirk and all the heartache he had to go through before reaching the promised land.
10:50 PM - It's official. LeBron James, the 3-time MVP, is now an NBA champion.
10:55 PM - Stern is getting booed! Respect, city of Miami. Respect.
11:01 PM - Bill Russell hands over the MVP trophy to LeBron James. As LeBron hoists the Larry O'Brien and the Finals MVP Trophy, he is now the bonafide face of the league. He has the crown, the throne, and everything else in the NBA kingdom. "It's about damn time."

Congratulations, LeBron James.

To be honest, it was easy for me to cheer for the Heat this year. I don't understand how people can call themselves a Mavericks fan but also cheer for one of our biggest rivals (OKC and San Antonio are our top 2). I will never cheer for the Redskins in the NFL, the Angels in the MLB, or the Sharks in the NHL. I lost a lot of respect for you so-called Mavs fans and won't view you guys in the same light. It doesn't matter how much you hate LeBron James, you should hate our arch enemies more.

And honestly, did you guys really want to live in a world where Derek Fisher has more rings than Kobe Bryant?

All times are Central Standard Time.

Photo content courtesy of: AP Photo

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Heat kept it together as a team all through playoffs, great thing to watch.

I admit, I was as big as a LeBron hater as they come. But once you realize he's not MJ, and you let go of your inner-fan expectation for him to be the next great thing, you appreciate him for who he really is. And now he's a champion. Empire strikes back.

Time for the NBA Draft #stern

I guess to create a true villain they need to dominate at some point, I am a hater of greatness, so this will only add to my hate. Same reason I rooted against Tiger until his down fall. I will respect the ability of Lebron just like I do MJ, but in no way will I ever be a fan of their character.

Peter with the 180 reverse slam

Caleb, so you're not a fan of MJ?

Yeah, I mean don't get me wrong I dig the shorts, shoes and highlights. Nevertheless I was rooting hard for the Sonics in 96, Jazz in 97-98, and as a Knick fan even rooted for Reggie Miller to knock Jordan out in 98... Hate for Jordan ran deep, didn't help my brother loved the Bulls of the 90s...

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