1-3. That was the shot chart for LeBron James in overtime of the Cleveland Cavaliers game one loss to America’s Team the Golden State Warriors. After going 5-9 in the 4th quarter and scoring 42 points in as many minutes over the course of regular time, the best player on the planet had more turnovers in the extra period than he did field goals. This is not the same old tired diatribe on the mental capability for the kid from Akron to step up in the big moments, he has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt at this point that he has the fortitude to make big plays in big moments. But for those swayed by the moment, for those who are slaves to being proven right this just was another stack of kindling on the fire of vitriol aimed at the legacy of number 23.
Make no mistake, these Cavaliers go as far as LeBron goes and after offensively carrying his team to brink of victory, James does not have the luxury of stepping back to let his teammates win it for him. It has been constantly said leading up to this series that LeBron has molded this team with his personality and by sheer force of will has turned them into winners. Early on, we saw just that with the Cleveland star outscoring the Warriors starting 5 by himself in the 1st quarter. Both defensively and offensively, the feeling early on was that this series could be very well won by one player. But with every iso that ended with no ball movement or extra pass leaving the players that helped him get thus far standing with their hands in their proverbial pockets in the corners, we saw the lead eventually slip away as the Warriors overcame finals jitters to make it a game. By the time it reached OT, these same Cleveland players who had been so uninvolved in the game plan offensively had no recourse when their star began to throw up ill-advised shots and not attacking from the post position that had been so fruitful for him up to that point.
To quote Yoda, “do or do not there is no try,” and for these Cavaliers there can be no hesitation, no uncertainty on the part of their star. Either he will leave the arena with the chambers empty or take the walk of shame looking up at the scoreboard wondering where it went wrong. Legacies are built on moments like this, on the precipice of utter failure and wondrous victory. LeBron, possibly more than anyone in history, has been painted as the one who carries teams of throw away parts and molds them into winners. Despite his 2-4 record in the finals, overwhelmingly, he is not dragged through the media for his record on the biggest stage the way say Kobe Bryant has for losing 2 of 7. However, if James were to lose again and drop his finals record to 2-6 one can not help but anticipate the rumbles of a crown tainted by repeated failure. And if Cleveland were to lose this series with LeBron James having repeats of his overtime performance, it will be clear as to why they fell short.
Heavy is the head that wears the crown.
Jotham Kabuye can be followed at @jothamkabuye on twitter and instagram if you so desire to get deeper glimpses into his depravity and ignorance