The All-Star game? A forgotten memory. When you’re the reigning NBA Champion, MVP and Finals’ MVP, not scoring in the fourth quarter of the All-Star game while getting blocked twice by Kobe Bryant seems meaningless and insignificant, especially when you’re LeBron James.
Just like last season, some try to make a bit too much of James not managing to pull the Eastern Conference team to a win in the final quarter, missing a few field goals and eventually taking a few tips from Bryant in the ball-hog category, trying to do too much on his own and getting rejected by Bryant in the process.
So what? So nothing. While Bryant got a few moments of bliss in an otherwise depressing season, James got to taste “failure” on the most insignificant of stages. Remember last year? James didn’t go for the final shot, and theories upon theories were built and written on how James can’t make it in the final moments of the game, and how his fourth quarter problems will haunt the Heat in the postseason. Carmelo Anthony looked surprised and talked about it.
So we all saw how much an All-Star games means. Kevin Durant was heralded as the next best thing, but just because he takes the All-Star game a bit more seriously than other superstars (same as Bryant does, most of the time), it doesn’t mean he was ready to lead his team to the NBA title. While LeBron James improved (and got Chris Bosh back next to him) as the postseason went on, Durant and the Thunder surrendered in the best of five series, while Russell Westbrook got the chance to destroy his team’s chances in the final game of the Finals.
This season, there’s nothing else but winning the NBA title on James’ mind. Maybe a bit less pressure on his shoulders this time in terms of finally getting it done, but it seems that Dwyane Wade, despite picking up the pace in recent weeks, is really declining, which means even more responsibility on LeBron James and Chris Bosh to deliver and score. Ray Allen, so far, hasn’t been the most successful of additions, although the report card will only be given once the Heat play their final postseason game.
His goals and rivals aren’t players at the All-Star game. Kobe Bryant isn’t a rival at all, not anymore. The Heat won’t meet the Los Angeles Lakers this season, not again. They’ve already beaten them twice with two sensational performances from James (averaging 35.5 points in the two wins against them), and it’s safe to assume the Finals won’t be a Heat – Lakers thing.
Saying that he’s LJ, not the next MJ might sound arrogant, but it comes from simply realizing the truth. Speaking what’s on your mind and trying to deflect the endless discussion isn’t a bad thing to do, arrogant or not. James is on a mission to pave his own special way in the NBA, which seems to be heading into legendary territory at the current rate of advancement. Throwing Kobe a bone before the Black Mamba returns to the depressing Lakers workouts and the even more depressing Lakers losses, was one final act of kindness before beginning the final push of the season.