For most teams, 58-24 and a trip to the NBA Finals is a success. For most players, 26.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and first team All-NBA is terrific.
Not the Miami Heat and LeBron James.
James has been ridiculed countlessly by NBA fans for “disappearing” in the NBA finals. If you’re keeping score at home, James still averaged 17, 7, and 7 in the NBA finals. The Heat have been the butt of endless jokes because they, uh, assembled a good team that finished second in the Eastern Conference…
Although the criticism may not be fair or warranted, James is undoubtedly under the most intense microscope in professional sports. I wanted to write a blog about my expectations for LeBron James this following season.
Before we get started, I want to bring something up. Can we stop saying that Dirk Nowitzki is a better basketball player than LeBron? The crafty German is one of the best players in the world right now, but he’s no LeBron James. If the Mavericks offered Dirk to the Heat straight up for #23, I don’t think Pat Riley would even bother replying.
This is no slight to Dirk, or to any other player in the NBA who is lesser than LBJ (that’d be them all, by the way). LeBron is unlike any other player in the sports relatively short history. In a game dominated big guys and flashy guards, James is a freakish hybrid. How many humans are 6’9″ and 265 pounds and could play wide receiver in the NFL? His court vision rivals Magic Johnson’s, he rebounds like a power forward, and scores the ball as well as anybody in the league. He’s a beast.
His career averages of 27.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 7.0 assists are unparalleled. James logs tons of minutes and has been on the NBA all defensive first team for the past three seasons. He has led the NBA in efficiency rating for four consecutive years. He’s the most imposing force in basketball in the past ten years, including Kobe in ’06 and Shaq in ’02. If he plays at this level for a sustained period of time, his resume could look like this:
10-12 All NBA first team selections
2-3 All NBA second team selections
3-4 MVP awards
2-3 NBA championships
NBA All Time Leading Scorer
Career averages of 27, 7, and 7.
If all of this happens, could we make a case that James is the greatest basketball player to ever live? At this rate, he’s going to surpass Larry Bird in a heart beat.
So yeah, if you aren’t as good as James, don’t feel bad about yourself.
My expectations for the Miami Heat remain the same: put your money where your mouth is. As sweet as it was to watch the Heat drown under the immense pressure presented to them by the media, I think we all have to face the inevitable: the Heat are only going to get better. If they want to win, as James was famously quotes saying, “five, six, maybe even seven” NBA championships- they have to start now.
As for James individually, I expect him to remind people why he was basically the unanimous MVP selection in 2009 and 2010. He’s too talented to let his legacy be “that athletic guy who put up big numbers and couldn’t win”. As for the NBA in 2011-2012? Watch out for the King.
In other news, LSU will play Alabama for the BCS title game. Justin Blackmon and co. at Oklahoma St. got screwed in my opinion. Don’t just take my word for it, though. Heres an article I found worth reading from CBSSPORTS.com :
Take it easy, sports fans!