Last year after the Miami Heat defeated the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals; their All-Star forward LeBron James praised his team, while taking a swipe at his former club the Cleveland Cavaliers at the same time. James said to reporters “I wanted to team up with some guys that would never die down in the moment. The opportunity presented itself with this great organization and we made it happen.”
Those words would come back to haunt him the team’s next series as they took on the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals. The Mavericks would win their first Title since joining the Association, mainly due to a lackluster performance from James; especially in game four of the match-up, knotting up the series at 2-2, as Miami lost to Dallas by a final margin of 86-83 when the forward scored just eight points for the night. The media had a field day talking about how LeBron was the one who would “die down in the moment” in that contest.
This year’s NBA MVP got some redemption on Thursday night as he strapped his team on his back and carried them to victory as he racked up a double-double with 45 points and 15 boards, giving Miami a 98-79 victory that keeps their season alive and will most likely send them back to the NBA Finals for the second straight year.
The All-Star forward, was nothing short of spectacular at the “New Garden” as the only other Miami player to score in double-digits was Dwyane Wade, who seemed sluggish throughout the game as he added 17 points. This time it would be the Celtics who choked, coming out flat-footed as they could muster just 16 points in the first 12 minutes of action, setting the tone for the rest of the night. Boston had taken home-court advantage from the Heat with a win on Tuesday night, Thursday night James grabbed it back.
Once again the Celtics would fall victim to their “Game Six Jinx“; as they lost game six of the 2009 Eastern Conference semi-finals in 2009 to the Orlando Magic, then losing the series in seven games and they would suffer the same fate the following season as they went into game six of the NBA Finals to the Lakers leading 3-2, only to drop the next two games and lose the series to Los Angeles.
James deserves to bask in the moment and if the Heat do head to the Finals he can take the credit. However, we saw him being a key reason that Miami defeated the Bulls last year, only to not be able to get it done when it counted. Until James proves that he can be a “Money Player“, he will keep being thought of as a player who always comes up short in crucial situations.