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Gregg Doyel vs. LeBron: Where Was the League's Best Player at the end of Game 3?

Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports was looking for a non-Dirk, non-Wade hook for his game three column (and an invite on Dan LeBatard’s radio show?) and settled on this: LeBron disappeared, once again, in a clutch situation. (If the Heat had lost, everyone who didn’t write about Dirk the Hero would have run with this.) So Doyel asked LeBron about it in the post-game, as you can see above. If YouTube is blocked at your office, here’s what LeBron said:

“I think you’re concentrating on one side of the floor. All you’re looking at is the stat sheet. Honestly, I’m a two-way player. Since D-Wade had it going … we allow him to handle the ball, bring it on offensively. You should watch the film again and see what I did defensively. You’ll ask me a better question tomorrow.”

In Doyel’s column, he wrote this:

After that play, James took two shots the rest of the quarter. He was blocked by Marion with 1:15 left and the game tied at 86, then missed a 3-pointer that would have clinched the victory with 4.9 seconds left. When someone makes a movie of the fourth quarter, they can cast Rick Moranis as LeBron James and call it Honey, I Shrunk the Superstar.

I too, was wondering where LeBron was in the 4th quarter. As Miami’s 7-point lead evaporated, and Dirk kept making shots, and this game began to look like a carbon copy of the Heat’s game two collapse, I tweeted as much. In a late-game spot, why wouldn’t everyone expect the “best player in the league for 3 or 4 years” (attribution on that quote: the world) to take over? If the masses want to mention him in the same sentence with Jordan, then he’s got to take over late. Maybe we’ve been spoiled with what LeBron did to the Pistons (in 2007) and Celtics (2011) and Bulls (2011) late in clutch situations.

Isn’t LeBron the NBA’s Mariano Rivera? Probably not. He could be, but for reasons nobody can quite grasp, LeBron doesn’t seem to always want to take over. And when the Heat do win the Finals, and Wade is MVP, the words in this paragraph will be TV material for a week.

This was part of the arrangement, and part of the criticism that’ll come with James winning a title. Wade’s on his way to the MVP in this series, and that’ll feed those who’ll want to diminish James’ choice to fortify his title aspirations with Wade. For some, this is why James will never get considerable due unless he parlays this partnership into multiple titles. He’ll need a fistful to validate the legitimacy of this front-running frolic. It isn’t fair, but it’s a fact.

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