Monday, June 11, 2012

Bringing a Championship to South Beach

By Paul Foeller

Anyone who has read my articles here with any great regularity knows I hold a respectful, but not awestruck view of LeBron James. I recognize his singular basketball talent that places him in a class all his own, but I also realize that as great as LeBron James the player is, LeBron James the person has a great deal of growing to do.

His interviews in light of childish tiffs on the court are indicative of a man who hasn't grown all that much since "The Decision "That being said, he has done growing in some key areas, perhaps most importantly his ability to ignore the asinine accusation that he isn't clutch (even though the numbers indicate he's more clutch than Kobe Bryant), and simply make good decisions at the end of games.

His Game 6 performance was simply amazing. He wasn't the just providing a push for the Heat in key situations, he was the driving force behind nearly every good thing that happened in the game, and yet he's not the biggest reason I think the Hear will win it all this year.

The push for a championship will be successful this time because the Heat have realized something as a team that teams like the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs (ironically the two teams that lost in the conference finals) realized long ago. They realized that leaving some in the tank for the championship run is crucial for a team, no matter how young or stuffed with talent the roster may be.

That's why there were times this year that the Heat turned on autopilot for three quarters, and then blew the doors straight off of some top-tier teams in the final period. It's also why they seemed to struggle against some pretty bad teams at times. It wasn't a lack of talent, they were saving their best game for this moment — right now.

Right now, Chris Bosh is healthy enough to contribute. Right now, Dwyane Wade is finding ways to get LeBron James open looks. Right now, LeBron James is doing everything right. Right now, not even Erik Spoelstra's ineptitude can keep the Heat from their destiny.

I mean no disrespect to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but this simply isn't their year. Russell Westbrook takes shots like a player a tier above where he actually is, which will hurt tremendously when the Heat bring it defensively. Kevin Durant is the most talented basketball player in the world not named LeBron James, but even he can't save the Thunder from the onslaught the Heat are going to bring on both ends of the court, and the problems Westbrook's ego will cause.

I'm not saying it will be pretty, and I'm certainly not saying it will be a sweep, but I'd be shocked if LeBron James and company don't bring a championship to South Beach this year.

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