It may have been a conscious decision to take the night off, or a subconscious acquiescence to an inexorable force that he simply didn’t think was worth fighting. Whatever happened in Game 5 against the Boston Celtics in 2010, however the hell it went down, LeBron James, at some point, decided that he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, play his best.
That choice, that decision, that night dogged him. In Cleveland, he was a quitter. In every game he lost after that, he was a choker. He “couldn’t close” or simply chose not to, ceding things to some other less-talented teammate. He was afraid to force the action and get fouled because he couldn’t hit free throws under pressure. He was afraid to take the big shot. He couldn’t make the big shot.
This was beyond Skip Bayless carnival barking on the set of First and Ten. This was the narrative that dogged LeBron James. To the media and general public it served, it became a part of his existence as a basketball player, just as much as his incredible athleticism and statistical output.
Dan Gilbert made a choice. [Read more...]