LeBron James’ legacy intact regardless of Game 7 outcome
BY JOE COWLEY email@example.com June 19, 2013 10:00AM
Updated: June 19, 2013 1:43PM
MIAMI – The headband was knocked off, the cape came on.
Now the trial of LeBron James’ legacy can be scrutinized for yet another day. Unnecessarily dragged on by the media, the fans, and even by his own peers.
Thanks to James’ hostile takeover in the fourth quarter, the Miami Heat overcame a 13-point deficit to force a Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
On the biggest stage, the biggest moment, James went from a player that was shrinking through the first three quarters – shooting 3-for-12 for 14 points – to finishing with 32 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, willing the defending champs to one more game. A last stand with no gray area, and really a no-win situation for James.
Win, and the perceived best player on the planet was supposed to do that.
Lose, well, 1-4 in Finals appearances, and then how can people make the Michael Jordan comparisons, which are ludicrous in the first place.
Newsflash: The legacy is already intact. Four MVPs, Olympic gold medal, a championship trophy earned in the Finals last season with one of the best statistical performances of all-time, and a career that still has possibly close to a decade under the hood.
And now “The Headband Game.’’
“I don’t even remember the play much,’’ James said of that moment. “I guess the headband was the least of my worries. It was by far the best game I’ve ever been a part of. The ups and downs, the emotions, good and bad … I’m blessed to be a part of something like this.’’
With Miami looking dead in the water early in the fourth, James’ headband was knocked off onto the court. Then James happened. Scoring at will, blocking shots, rebounding. Headband be damned! Yes, it’s been the King’s crown for years, but a switch seemed to flip with James showing off his receding hairline in all its running-up-the-scalp glory.
“An absolute desperation and will,’’ Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of James’ post-lost-headband performance. “To do it on both ends, obviously he had an extremely tough cover with [Spurs guard Tony] Parker, making every play for us, really aggressive, able to get into the paint. Just gave us life.’’
Ray Allen gets the assist in that life-giving area. After San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard split a pair of free throws that could have given San Antonio a four-point lead and likely ring No. 5 with 19 seconds left, it was Allen’s corner three that sent the game into overtime.
A three that came seconds after fans were leaving and the court was being roped off to present the trophy.
“That pissed me off,’’ Chris Bosh said. “We all saw that.’’
In that overtime, Bosh, Allen and of course James finished it off.
“We’re going to be thinking about all the missed chances we had, two free throws with a two-point lead, a few seconds left,’’ Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. “Missed rebounds … we’re going to think about that for a long time, all night long, all day [Wednesday]. I’m devastated.’’