James Carries Heavy Win-or-else Burden
James Carries Heavy Win-or-else Burden, LeBron James is playing the best hoops of his life as the Heat hit the NBA Finals, a writer says. These Miami Heat were constructed to crumble this proud, old champion, and now that was happening in the ferocious final minutes of Game 7: jab, jab, jab and finally a left hook to deliver the Boston Celtics onto their backs. LeBron James. Dwyane Wade. Chris Bosh. Here were the Heat’s Big Three chasing the Celtics’ out of the gym, out of the season and maybe out of those Boston uniforms. James. Wade. Bosh. Together, they were downright devastating in the final minutes of this Eastern Conference-clinching victory. No fourth quarter – no NBA Finals – for old men.
In the end, hell’s fury had come crashing down on these Celtics, and this conference final series ended with a 101-88 victory the way it was always supposed to end: With yesterday’s champion, Boston, left in the wake, and the NBA’s gathering storm, Oklahoma City, awaiting in the NBA Finals. And yet for all of the Miami comebacks in these playoffs – down to the Indiana Pacers and pushed to the brink of elimination by Boston – the burden and undertaking of these Heat doesn’t allow for bows and bouquets. The Heat set course on a journey with a singular, undeniable destination: NBA championship or unadulterated bust. A different standard for these Heat, but hardly unreasonable considering the unprecedented star power and the defiant declaration of winning two fistfuls of titles.
“You play and you try to get back to this moment again,” Wade said late Saturday. ” So you can in a sense redeem yourself.”
LeBron James has helped lead the Heat to the NBA Finals for the second straight year. (Getty Images)There’s no redemption for these Heat, just the living, breathing, bleeding illustration of that old Pat Riley truism: There’s winning and there’s misery. In the history of the NBA, there’s no failure that resonates so profoundly, so deeply, as Miami Heat failure. They won’t be considered gallant for losing to the Thunder in the NBA Finals because nine seasons and three MVP trophies and a free-agent folly won’t let James get off so easily.
James is so easily playing the best basketball of his life – averaging 33.6 points in the conference finals – and this collision course with Kevin Durant is the twentysomething showdown the league desperately wanted in a season the thirtysomething stars have crumpled away, leaving the sport to the kids in the black-rimmed glasses with no lenses.
“He’s playing at a historic level during the playoffs,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He is pushing himself beyond his limits.”