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The Reluctant King

LeBron James has all but disappeared in the 4th quarters of the last two games of the NBA finals and amateur psychologists among the nation’s sportswriters are weighing in with their theories.

Mike Wise of the Washington Post has a good one. He thinks that in Cleveland, everything depended on LeBron and the responsibility was just too much for him to handle. Teaming up with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami was the answer; he would no longer have to carry an entire team solely on his back. Except last night, in the pivotal 5th game of the series, Wade came up lame with a hip injury. Chris Bosh had reverted to the critical nickname they use for him derisively at times in Miami- “Flower Forward.” That left LeBron as the man. And he scored two points in the 4th quarter. Earlier he’d been great, posted a triple-double (double digits in points, assists and rebounds).

The other widely heard theory as that when he tweeted prior to last night’s game that it was “now or never,” he put way too much pressure on himself.

Though he has no shortage of ego, I’m hearing Miami fans this morning saying that, ironically, King James has to be more selfish about scoring if the Heat are to prevail by taking the last two games of the series at home.

Actually, with all due respect to his tremendous talent, it’s character that usually comes to the fore in a championship series. I’m sure LeBron will eventually develop some- and this may be the experience that does it. But the mistake here made by the media and most of the public- is that the wrong King was being crowned.

The real royalty in the NBA is not from Ohio- he’s from Germany and his name is Dirk Nowitzki. Now that’s a guy who plays well under pressure. Torn tendon in the finger of his non shooting hand? No worries. Uses the injured finger and hand to make the lay-up that closes out game 2 in Miami. Sinus infection and 102 degree fever? No big deal, makes every clutch shot in game 4.

Here’s how I see this playing out. Heat win game 6 at home forcing a decisive game 7. Nowitizki comes through in the clutch, gets his elusive trophy he lost to Miami five years ago and the Dream Team finishes with in an inexplicable whimper. And then Miami goes on to win the next three NBA championships having developed some of the character that was missing in their NBA Finals debut. I swear, sometimes I think that’s all God demands every now and again. Just a little humility. That’s what the Miami Heat are in the process of developing right now.

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