James Carries Cavs Pressure, Once Again
These could be the most trying times of LeBron James illustrious career. Sure, he has been tested before. Both in Cleveland and Miami, the future Hall of Famer has had times when he has been forced to make up for the injuries or shortcomings of his teammates. And, just as he did right down to the final second on Sunday, he has responded.
But as the clock winds down on his first season back at Cleveland – the town that alternately loved and hated him – one wonders if he’s not having flashbacks of the old days. You remember the old days, LeBron’s first run with the Cavs, when they were continually stopped just short of a championship. About the only support James could hope for back then was ten rebounds from Zydrunas Ilgauskus on a good night. Weariness of getting no support for frustrating seasons is why he moved to Miami in the first place.
Now it’s back in Cleveland, the Chicago Bulls standing in the way, and LeBron James carrying the weight of the team, the town – and the world – on his shoulders. The superstars he saw as incentive to return to Cleveland - Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving – are now doubtful. Love is out for the season with a shoulder injury, and Irving limps about on the floor with an injured foot. So James makes impossible drives to the basket, scraps for rebounds, posts up, shoots long, just anything to keep his team in the game. He even had to do a little coaching on Sunday to set up the desperation basket at the buzzer, overruling his coach on the inbounds play. It was the latest demonstration of James’ single-handed heroics, and it gave the Cavs an 86-84 victory over the Bulls, tying the series at two games each. There’s little indication that James can’t continue to do it. He’s only 30, and there’s little in his statistics to make us think he’s slumped off.
But James own words after his game-winner are indicative of his state of mind. “I made mistake after mistake after mistake, and I can’t let my teammates down.” Now the series is tied at 2-2 as it heads back to Cleveland, the town James wanted to adorn with an NBA championship all along. Both James and Cleveland will be looking for more heroics to survive.
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