In sports, everyone is a winner—some people just win better than others. Like every writer who's had a nuclear "Fuck LBJ" column rattling around in their brain. After James's performance last night, most of them pushed the red button.
James didn't help himself with this bizarre post-game comment, which pretty much guaranteed him no sympathy from the ink-stained wretches tdaoy: "I spoil a lot of people with my play. When you have three bad games in seven years, it's easy to point them out." Oh boy. Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski would like to have a word with you:
Who is he to be indignant after he gave a playoff game away? What's he ever won to be so smug to the masses? That's what drives the Celtics crazy about James. Eventually, he will understand his greatness isn't measured on the hit-and-runs through NBA cities across a long season. It's measured now, in the teeth of the battle, when a tiny guard, Rajon Rondo, has stolen his stage and nearly a series.
Andrew Sharp, from SBNation, it's your turn to take a whack at the pinata:
It was one game, sure. But make no mistake: what happened Tuesday changes the narrative for LeBron. So far, he's gotten the benefit of the doubt in big games because of his age, his teammates, his coaches, and because, at the end of the day, he's so talented that just about everyone felt safe in assuming that one day he'd put it all together. Now, he's older, hardened by previous playoff experience, his teammates are better than ever before, and... LeBron James has run out of excuses. Maybe there's something going on that we don't know about, but to outsiders, Tuesday night there was just 'Bron standing by idly as the Celtics smacked his team in the mouth on Cleveland's home court.
James performance was so bad, he even caused Joe Posnanski to remove his glasses, rub his eyes, and shake his head in disappointment:
But, this isn't about LeBron being unable to muster genius. It wasn't just the way he played - Gods have bad games too. No, it was HOW he played. He settled for jump shots. He settled for loose defense. That's the word of the day here: Settled. There seemed so little fight in him. And that part was just shocking to see. Barely a week ago, in Boston, with the series beginning to develop a tone, LeBron attacked relentlessly, again and again, unstoppable, 21 points in the first quarter, creating a whirlwind that the Celtics could not escape. Tuesday, meanwhile, he fumbled on the dribble, took the sorts of shots the Celtics wanted him to take, he played as if his energy had been sapped … like there was Kryptonite in the room.
Look there's Hannah Storm, dressed for an Aztec wedding, wondering where this "inexplicable" performance came from. Chris Broussard has already shipped him to Chicago. Eric Freeman is confounded. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is playing Commissioner Gordon and dejectedly shutting off the bat signal for now, hoping for the rest of the team to save Cleveland from impending doom:
We have to ask ourselves two questions. Will we remember who we are and choose to impose our will on our opponent for the remainder of this series and beyond? And how much do we want it? I believe in our players, our coaching staff and our entire franchise. This series is not over.
(Yes, it is!)