After finding his way into head coach Rick Carlisle’s doghouse because of blown assignments on both offense and defense, Dallas Mavericks guard Jason “Jet” Terry managed to rocket his way back into good graces in Game 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals. Terry’s 21 points set the tone for the Mavs’ inspired guard play, which proved to be too much for the Miami Heat in a 112-103 defeat that put Dallas up three games to two in the best-of-seven.
A tale of two stars
Renewed fire in the games of Dallas’ guard trio of Jason Terry, Jason Kidd and J.J. Barrea may have been the difference in the Mavs’ Game 5 victory, but a telling stat pointed out by ESPN Dallas should be given its due. Combining the fourth quarters of the five NBA Finals games so far, here’s a comparison of the play of Miami Heat star LeBron James versus Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki in crunch time:
James: 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting, 3-for-3 from the free-throw line, 10 rebounds
Nowitzki: 52 points on 13-of-27 shooting, 24-for-24 from the free-throw line, 15 rebounds
It’s no wonder that reports out of Miami indicate that fans are beginning to toss a new nickname “King” James’ way: “King Choke.” According to New York Magazine, even though James flashed a triple-double in Game 5 (17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists), it meant nothing because LeBron didn’t take control of the game in the waning moments. As Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojarowski wrote, “All hell crashed down upon James,” in addition to a rain of 13 Dallas three-pointers. It may be time to admit that even though James is an athletic superman, when it comes to the psychology of the game, LeBron James may just be a man.
Take a load off, LeBron
As an individual player, James is the most talented basketball player in the known universe. He left the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat so that he wouldn’t have to take over every game himself. It is less stressful, and no great team has reached the mountaintop with a single capable player. This creates the current crucible for James:
“When you are so much more talented than everyone else, and still you don’t destroy everyone, you must be weak. You must be a loser.”
Wojnarowski paints a dark picture for James:
“These days, he is a one-man, 24-hour news cycle. When James is done talking between games in these playoffs, half-baked reports on his personal life are flying, and innocent bystanders are ducking shrapnel, forced to publicly deny cyber-gossip. He’s the deepest, darkest swirling vortex of insanity that modern sports has ever seen. … He can’t help himself because so much of the way he sees himself (is) through the prism of this basketball ‘Truman Show.’”
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New York Magazine: http://nymag.com/daily/sports/2011/06/the_lebron_james_public_psychi.html
Yahoo! Sports: http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=aw-wojnarowski_lebron_james_nba_finals_game5_061011
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