Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven…
James crowed, and he was mocked fast and hard for the boast, for the spectacle of a welcome party the Heat had thrown for him, for his narcissistic "I'm-taking-my-talents-to-South-Beach" cable TV special. He hadn't won anything yet, of course. He just acted like he had, arriving here full of pompousness and entitlement, well on his way to becoming one of the sporting world's great villains.
Somewhere in all that braggadocio, James' point was clear. He hadn't left his home state of Ohio to come to Miami to win a championship. He was here to build a dynasty, to construct his own legacy as one of the greatest to ever play.Sun, Apr 2012:30 PM PDTCharlotte at MiamiPreview Game
MIAMI – LeBron James had drifted through much of Tuesday night. Confused, a little self-doubt perhaps starting to creep into him, he looked more like the shell-shocked, ineffective star who lost a season-ending Game 6 to the Dallas Mavericks here two years ago than the bold, cocksure leader who has dominated the NBA ever since.
After losing Game 5 of these NBA Finals in San Antonio, James said he embraced the challenge of having to win consecutive games at home to claim his second straight championship. Only, the pressure, once again, appeared ready to swallow him whole, the enormity of the moment too big for him to grasp.
The San Antonio Spurs had worn on James, and as they hiked their lead deeper and deeper into the second half, the Miami Heat's championship reign moved that much closer to expiring.
SAN ANTONIO – For two days, Manu Ginobili had heard all the doubts, including possibly a few from within himself. He had labored in these NBA Finals. That much was true. Long one of the game's great clutch performers and an icon here in South Texas, he had played unsteady, looking every bit of his 35 years.
This was not the Manu the San Antonio Spurs knew, and even some of them likely wondered: Was the magic gone? Were all those big-game moments Ginobili had delivered for much of the past decade just memories? Moments to be treasured and remembered, but no longer duplicated?
So, Ginobili stood there on the day before Game 5 of the Finals, surrounded by reporters, peppered by question after question, each of them implying the same. Are you done?
Not yet, it appears.Sun, Apr 2010:00 AM PDTDallas at San AntonioPreview Game
SAN ANTONIO – For all the talk that the Miami Heat's championship reign rested squarely on the shoulders of LeBron James, that these NBA Finals would turn on how well or poorly the King played, Dwyane Wade knew the truth. If the Heat were going to beat the San Antonio Spurs, he would need to play better, too.
James wore his shooting shirt like a cape to the Heat's practice on Wednesday, making a show of his declaration to lead his teammates into Game 4. Turns out, Wade preferred to wait until tipoff to put on the real one.
Looking like the Wade of old instead of Old Wade, he totaled 32 points, six rebounds, four assists and six steals to lead the Heat to a 109-93 Game 4 victory over the Spurs Thursday night at the AT&T Center. The victory squares the series at 2-2 and assures the Finals will return to Miami for a sixth game, if not also a seventh. If the Spurs are going to dethrone the Heat, they will have to win at least once more on the Heat's court.