In reality, it’s been 10 days since some very bold opinion-havers felt confident enough to break out the nearest shovel and start digging LeBron James’ grave. It only feels like eons because the best player in the NBA has, well, played like the best player in the NBA (ever?) since then. Who could have seen that coming?
Tied at 95 in the final seconds, James blocked Victor Oladipo on one end before nailing a buzzer-beating three on the other. In all he scored 44 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out 8 assists as the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Indiana Pacers to secure a 3-2 series lead. Without his heroics, his one-man show, Cleveland is facing elimination. Now, they are in the driver’s seat. We were a whisper away from putting the second James-in-Ohio era on life support.
That, too, seems like a long ago. Somehow, James’ late-game heroics have a way of making people forget what came before. In this case, to be fair, it was an inopportune turnover that opened the door for Indiana.
Since Game 1’s debacle, James has averaged 37.5 points, 9.2 rebounds and 7.0 assists. He’s shot 58 percent from the floor and made 37 of 43 free throws, including all 15 tonight. This is what transcendent greatness looks like. This is what answering the call looks like. And this is why the rumors of his demise were painfully premature from the start.
James is inevitable, even when it seems improbable. For all his warts, there is no athlete like him. Divisive though he may be, he makes the viewer feel alive, either with joy or derision.
Put away the shovels. He ain’t dead yet. There will be more pulse-pounding moments to come.