LeBron James' excellence against Celtics overrode his irritating theatrics

LeBron James' excellence against Celtics overrode his irritating theatrics

It’s tempting to view all of LeBron James’ theatrics with a tint of cynicism. Every action, whether it’s panting with his hands on his knees in Game 5 or acting like he tore his ACL in the fourth quarter of Game 6, is seemingly meant to set up some greater narrative. Throughout his entire career, LeBron has proven to be the king of melodrama.

James is being lauded nationally for carrying the Cavs past the undermanned Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, LeBron’s top toadie, says it’s the “responsibility of basketball fans” to explain James’ accomplishments this season to ignorant parties –– including unborn children who are still in the womb. It’s a little creepy, for sure, and definitely crosses the line of hero-worship. James took a mediocre supporting cast to the NBA Finals; he did not cure cancer. 

But in the context of sports, James’ postseason run is worth marveling at, even if it likely would’ve ended had Kyrie Irving been healthy –– or if Terry Rozier could make a three-pointer. In Game 7 at the Garden, James put up 35 points with 15 rebounds and nine assists. With Kevin Love out of action with a concussion, the next highest-scorer on the Cavs was Jeff Green. That’s the kind of group James has been working with, and just took to his eight straight NBA Finals.

James’ numbers would be incredible on their own, but they’re even more impressive when you take into account how gassed he was at the end of the series. And no, that’s not me buying into LeBron’s carefully curated narrative. That’s just looking at facts.

At 32 years old, James has played more than anybody else this postseason. He was on the floor for a series-high 287 minutes in the conference finals, including all 48 in Game 7. He’s played an NBA-high 742 minutes this postseason and leads the league 3,768 minutes throughout the entire season. Yet, at the end of Game 7, James was able to go coast-to-coast and seal the Cleveland victory.

At various points during Game 7, James sauntered down the court and even took some defensive plays off. In the first quarter, Jeff Van Gundy admonished him for his apparent lack of effort. 

It’s fair to say James was pacing himself in the first half. He was doing it to conserve energy, and it’s hard to criticize the result. 

Earlier in the series, the Celtics seemed to erase James’ allure (or at least that’s what some dummy wrote). But outside of his putrid Game 1, he was otherworldly for the rest of the matchup. In Games 2-7, James averaged 36.7 points to go along with 9.3 rebounds and 8.3 assists. At the risk of sounding like Windhorst, that is amazing.

James displayed the irritating parts of his game against the Celtics. He also showed his unabashed greatness. It doesn’t make you a sycophant to admit the obvious. 

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Source: GreenStreet Blog

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