By Rob Kotaska
I’ve not watched much of the NBA this season. As you may have noticed from the posts I author my time in the spring is devoted to the ice. Once the ice starts to thaw there is a natural migration for this sports-loving soul to the hardwood. I watched the Heat flame out last year in the Finals. It is not news to anyone who watched that collapse that LeBron James folded under the pressures that came with 4th quarter basketball.
The banged up Dwyane Wade singlehandedly kept the Heat a position to win in that series. But it was not enough to overcome a lethargic, tentative and seemingly disinterested LeBron. This season the story was redemption for LeBron. He was on fire during the regular season, playing well enough to win the NBA MVP award. I would argue he is not even the MVP of his own team. That guy had an epiphany of his own, damn the glare off the championship ring he owns, but LeBron currently does not.
D-Wade supposedly learned that he had to step back for the team to reach its goals. I think Wade took the wrong lesson. Sure in stepping back LeBron was able to be in his comfort zone. When the stakes were not so high he seemed have cured the ills from last June. He was playing some clutch basketball. Based on last night’s game there was some backsliding. LeBron missed two key free throws, and from there on he lacked the will to step up with the game on the line.
While LeBron may have more pure talent than Wade he lacks what #3 has in spades: the guts to finish when the game is on the line. All the great champions had it: Bird, Magic, Jordan, they excelled at the moment the lights were brightest. Thus far LeBron has not shown that ability. With Chris Bosh out of the equation for the series now is not the time to foster that all-to-rare talent.
The Heat need someone who strikes fear in the hearts of the Pacers, not who has fear in his heart, when the seconds tick down. The man who strikes that fear is Dwyane Wade.
I am no fan of the Heat. Here’s hoping they stay with the current lesson plan. Based on Wade’s quote from the link above:
“I think he’ll be different,” Wade said. “Who knows what that difference is going to be. We all hope it’s just that monster LeBron. But we’ll see.
they will stick with it. If they do they will likely be drawing up a new one next week getting ready for the next final exam available: the 2013 NBA playoffs.