"LeBron James is a choking loser who was never able to take his talents to South Beach, where the NBA finals are held most every year."
That's the attitude pervasive in whole lotta sports fans. People that like the NFL quite a bit and don't watch much basketball, thinking that the NBA finals are held in South Beach and/or Joe Robbie Stadium every other year, as the scene slips from neutral site to neutral site. The truth is that LeBron James, despite disappointing you with his play in the last two playoffs, has played some amazing basketball in his time spent working past the initial 82-game season. And it's worth bringing up as he plays his 82nd playoff game.
According to ESPN's Tom Haberstroh -- actually, according to LeBron's actual work on the court which can be documented as opposed to being dismissed by some cable TV talking head or a radio chat show mug -- James' work slightly improves while he's in the playoffs. This, as NBA history has shown us, is quite the accomplishment. Approximating your regular-season stats in late April, May or June is a rare occurrence, mainly because you don't get to play the Warriors, Clippers or Wizards in late April, May or June.
You play the Bulls, Celtics and Spurs. If you're lucky, you do it in that order. If you're not lucky, you play those teams with Eric Snow working as your point guard. Sometimes you play the Pistons, back when they were good. Either way, it's no fun.
And while LeBron James was a complete and total brat in giving up on the Cavs while playing the Celtics last year, overall both Cleveland and Miami got their money's worth.
Looking at the numbers, it appears that LeBron is LeBron is LeBron, no matter how bright the stage. His free throw percentage is exactly the same, right down to the tenth decimal point. The accuracy of his 3-point shot is essentially unchanged. His assists per game in the regular season is identical to his average in the postseason. His player efficiency rating (PER) is just a shade higher in the playoffs (26.9 to 27.0).
So, yes, Luol Deng (who is awesome, by the way) may have dominated LeBron on Sunday night. And James' work against Boston last season was an insult to anyone who has ever been paid to do a job, and … that's about it.
James has kept up his MVP-level play through six different postseason runs, while playing with some pretty awful supporting casts both during the regular season and postseason. This has nothing to do with 11 playoff games spent working alongside Dwyane Wade (and sometimes Chris Bosh) propping him up.
So let's all be smart, and get back to disliking him for other silly reasons, OK?