Those of us of a certain age remember when MLB Hall Of Fame slugger Reggie Jackson signed with the New York Yankees as a Free Agent late in the seventies. Jackson would earn the nickname “Mister October” while he played in pinstripes, due to his clutch hitting during the Playoffs and the World Series for the Bronx Bombers. A few years later Yankees late Team Owner George Steinbrenner would sign another high-profile hitter Dave Winfield; whom the Boss derisively labeled “Mister May” as Winfield put up strong numbers in the regular season; however he never rose to the occasion in the Post Season.
Nine seasons into his career in the Association and after being named the NBA MVP Award Winner three times; it is a fair time to ask if Miami Heat All-Star forward LeBron James is the NBA equivalent of Winfield. Is James the “Mister April” of the Association; a player who comes up big during the regular season but has yet to come through for his teams when they need him most, during the Playoffs?
Although James was once again given the NBA MVP Trophy on Sunday, his team has lost their last two games after losing power forward Chris Bosh in game one of their second round series against the Indiana Pacers and now trail 2-1 in the match-up. They are in real danger of ending their Post Season run in this series, which would be yet another time that James would be heading home far earlier than was expected entering the Playoffs.
As I have written countless times on these pages over the years; my definition of a Most Valuable Player is someone who makes the players around him better. Bird, Johnson, Jordan and Kobe accomplished that in the Post Season; so far LBJ has yet to prove that he is worthy of being mentioned in that group. Once again with his team needing him most, the forward has yet to strap his team on his back and carry them to victory since Bosh went down. He has also failed in helping his teammates rise to the next level, which they will have to do to beat the Pacers without Bosh on the hardwood.
LeBron apologists will try to excuse his not being more dominant in the last two games, due to the fact that he is playing out of position. Magic Johnson won the NBA Finals in his rookie campaign playing center for the Los Angeles Lakers in the last game of their series against the Sixers when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was lost to injury.
Championship caliber players do what they have to do to get that final victory of the season; so far in nine seasons James has yet to reach that level. Until he does he does not belong in any conversation that mentions the four players mentioned above. James promised a string of championships when he took his services to South Beach; he so far has failed to keep that promise, just as he broke his promise to Cleveland Cavaliers fans to make Cleveland light up like Las Vegas. If the Heat drop their series to Indiana, it maybe time to start calling James “Mister April“.