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Tuesday, Sep 19, 2017
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Martin Fennelly Columns

LeBron, like it or not, now must take different kind of heat

Now America can rejoice. LeBron James and the Miami Heat were found finally dead, two wins from a championship. Now we get to see what kind of champion LeBron James is, if he is any champion at all. James' first season in Miami couldn't have begun more badly, with "The Decision," then that ridiculous center-stage introduction with new teammates Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, or the big South Beach hootenanny.
James' first season in Miami didn't end so well, either, as James was very nearly a spectator as series MVP Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks won Game 6 in Miami on Sunday night and with it the NBA title that had once upon a time had seemed a divine right to the Heat's Big Three. LeBron looked like a poor excuse for a winner as he walked from the court, though my guess is one day, when he and his teammates figure it out, there will be rings enough for all. But that wasn't Sunday night. It was pile-on time for LeBron haters. Leading the way was that great, great man, Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert, who waited until Game 6 was ended before tweeting: "Old lesson for all. THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS. NONE." Gilbert is a complete pig. The guy never stopped kissing James' feet when he was in Cleveland, but once LeBron left, Gilbert never shut up, talking about how James quit on the Cavs and their fans. It was and is disgusting. I never blamed LeBron for leaving. It's his right. It's anyone's right. He filled the arena in Cleveland and made Dan Gilbert many, many millions. He wanted a title. He followed his friend Dwyane Wade. If anything, it was an unselfish act. LeBron followed his dream. But he didn't win it all. So he'll have to shut up and take it. It goes with the money and the fame. He'll have to sift through and learn from the overwhelming evidence that when things were on the line in the fourth quarter in these Finals, he was indecisive or simply nowhere to be found. Miami blew some big leads in the Finals, none bigger than coughing up Game 2 at home, which gave Dallas life, and veterans like Nowitzki fed off that. Now Nowitzki has his title. You can throw away all that talk about him being soft. And start in on LeBron. Understand, it's not like Miami lost 50 games this season, or lost in the opening round of the playoffs, or the round after that, or the Eastern Conference finals. No, they came within two wins of winning it all. But when you start your season being raised onto the stage by a forklift, it's not in the plans to have someone else climb the stage erected on the court in Miami late Sunday night. LeBron James will be back. He will be a champion one day. It's just now the clock will tick even faster.
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