by Micah Hart
When LeBron James signed with Miami last summer, leaving Cleveland in the lurch like he did, as a fan I wanted him to feel what Cleveland fans felt. I wanted him to hurt the way they hurt.
As of last night’s title-clinching victory by the Dallas Mavericks, I think it’s safe to say that what the fans wanted has come to pass. Today, LeBron is hurting, and for the haters it is as satisfying as the first gulp of a Coke on a hot summer’s day.
Here is what I wrote right before the start of the season, and it still holds water:
If I am a Cleveland or Toronto fan (but more Cleveland), I don’t want to see Miami struggle through injuries and flame out in the first round because they are at less than full strength. I wouldn’t complain, but it’d still be a disappointment.
If you really want to be spiteful and vindictive (and really, isn’t that what hatred is all about?), you don’t want Miami’s success to be curtailed by a collection of rolled ankles and twisted knees. You want the Heat to be awesome. Devastate the league. Win 70 games. Cruise to the Finals. THEN lose. That is revenge, my friend.
Given the hubris and arrogance exhibited last summer, it’s hard to muster much sympathy for Miami. And while others had a stake in the production, the tab will be paid going forward by LeBron and LeBron alone.
Dwyane Wade is safe — he played his heart out, especially in the Finals, and would have been MVP had the Heat won. Plus he’s already got a ring. Chris Bosh is safe too. He got a lot of grief this season as well, perhaps even more than LeBron. But he answered his critics in these playoffs. Maybe he had a misstep here or there (his defense on Dirk’s game-winner in Game 4 for example), but he was unafraid to take and make big shots, and he proved the Heat are indeed a Big Three and not a Charlie Sheen*.
*Because they are two-and-a-half men.
Yes, this is all on LBJ, and I for one feel sated. The Mavericks were the better team and deserved to win, but if the Heat can come this close to a title while giving crunch-time minutes to the likes of Juwan Howard and Mike Bibby, they really aren’t very far off. They will get better.
We can revel in James’ struggles in the clutch, but they won’t much matter in the future if the Heat are winning each game by double-digits. And that’s OK. The epic failure of this postseason feels like punishment enough.