Tuesday, June 14, 2011

4th And Gone: The Great Narrative.

Posted by Sean Doyle, June 14, 2011.
Photo Courtesy of DeShawn Stevenson.

On July the 8th, 2010 in a moment of pure media infamy, LeBron James announced his "decision."  Decked out in his best blipster-hipster farm gear and sporting a barely cloaked smile, James announced to the world that he was "taking his talents to South Beach."  It was a deliciously devious declaration and instantly transformed the likable James into the biggest heel in sports.


On June the 12, 2011 in a moment of pure athletic defeat, LeBron entered the media room following a bitter Game 6 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA finals.  Glassy eyed and shaken, and sporting a barely cloaked frown, James announced to the world that "all the people that were rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day, they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today."  It was an acrimoniously acidic announcement and permanently transformed the unlikable James into heretofore unseen levels of pure villainy.

In between those bombastic bookends, lays the stuff of great legend....

Part I:  Talk Is Cheap 

There are many ways to say "fuck you!" Like, "I'm taking my talents to South Beach," or "How's my Dirk Taste?" But some essential communications are of the non-verbal variety. Coming into Game 6, Dirk Nowitzki had outscored "King" James 52 - 11 in the 4th quarter. Think about that for a second.  By the primary metric by which we judge them, Dirk had been 5x as good or 500% better then the man who proclaims himself basketball royalty. When it really matters (And nothing matters more than 4th quarter performance in the NBA Finals. Nothing! Particularly for future Hall of Famers. It is the stage of stages.) Lebron played hide and seek. That is, he hid on offense and defense (setting an NBA record for biggest drop in PPG from the regular season to the Finals at - 8.9) oft dishing to a decrepit Juwan Howard (JUWAN HOWARD!?!?!) in clutch moments all while getting beat easily on d. Thus, the big German said "fuck you" to LeBron without uttering a single dirty word.

Part II: Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and A Bad Haircut.

Ok I stole that title from one of my favorite humorists, P.J. O'Rourke.  Nevertheless, it works just fine here. The striking sight of 37-year-old Jason Kidd whipping up and down the hardwood dishing and swishing like a man half his age whilst baby legs 'Bron-Bron played peek-a-boo with Mario Chalmers was more than enough to convince me that this series was over by game 5.  You have to want a championship, not just feel that your South Beach talent deserves one.

Add 37-year-old Kidd to 32-year-old MVP Nowitzki, 33-year-old Shawn Marion, 34-year-old Brian Cardinal, and 33-year-old Jason Terry and you have the makings of a fine senior league squad.  But like very good wine this group just got better with age. 

Now, there has been some debate as to whether or not Dallas won this series or Miami just simply lost it.  For the record I am in the former camp.  Dirk, Jet, Kidd, JJ and the rest played like true warriors and beat Miami straight up. No excuses.

Part III: Stop Selling And Start Buying.

I could sit here all day and rap my keyboard silly with LBJ insults. Millions of people are doing so now and perhaps rightfully so.  The truth is for all the hyperbolic hoo-ha LeBron James remains one of the most gifted athletes of all time. He's built like a power forward, passes like an elite point, and runs like a super speedy two guard.  What he isn't yet is a winner. He doesn't have that Michael Jordan or Larry Bird gene. For 8 years we've been sold on the grand "King" James narrative by Nike, ESPN, the NBA, Worldwide Wes, and by the man himself.  Frankly, we are having buyer's remorse.  It's clear now that we are not looking at another Michael Jordan. Not even close.  Instead of looking to MJ, LeBron should look to Dirk.  Dirk never stopped working and evolving his game till that trophy was in his hands.  Perhaps one day, with a lot of hard work and humility, LeBron can be the next Nowtzki.  Now there is a story line that I can buy.

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