MIAMI – Do something, LeBron James was telling himself. The jump shots hadn't been falling for him, layups had rolled away and redemption had come rumbling to the rim. The Spurs' Tiago Splitter leaped into the air, cocked the ball back and threatened humiliation on the planet's best player.
Do something, James told himself. Soon, James leaped into the air, and that Spurs 7-footer, so, so high over the rim, found the most resourceful hand in basketball rising and rising to meet the ball for one of the most resounding blocks the NBA Finals had ever witnessed.
"We saw that coming," the Heat's Mario Chalmers marveled on Sunday night.
Truth be told, everyone could see it coming. This was the kind of moment born of James' intellect and instincts, where winning is dictated on his terms, in his moments, his way. "I just wanted to make an impact in some way," James said.
103-84 victory hadn't been James' best game for the Heat, but his execution was a telltale statement to his teammates: When the world's calling for James to bail on his belief in the rest of these Heat, he was doubling down. James refuses to force shots, refuses to let his vision of championship basketball be polluted.This
Eventually, the avalanche comes with these Heat and the earth trembles beneath them. Eventually, the turnovers turn into fast breaks, and the fast breaks turn into dunks and soon Miami scored 30 out of 35 points as the third quarter bled into the fourth. Eventually, James is stopping tomahawk jams cold, running down the floor and whipping a pass into the waiting hands of Ray Allen for one more 3-pointer, one more basket born of James' generosity.
"Sharing the ball is contagious," James said. "And it allows everyone to feel involved in the offense. I know I attract a lot of attention. This team has been set up the right way, where when I do attract attention, we have guys that can make plays."
And James kept going to those burdened with supporting the Big Three – Chalmers and Allen and Mike Miller – and they responded with one arching dagger after another. Perfectly balanced and perfectly prepared, these Heat reflected James' patient and purposeful disposition.
When James had missed 10 of 13 shots before the start of the fourth, his teammates never flinched. The Spurs hung until deep into the third, until the Heat's defense tightened and the NBA's MVP started to loosen. When it was over, James had 17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, three steals and three blocks. When it was over, the Heat had been fully fortified by his faith.
"That's the thing, nobody waited," Chalmers said. "We know LeBron. He's the best player. He's going to get his at any given moment."
The rest of these Heat understand: There's no holding James down, no sense that he'll ever run out of ways to make a difference. Miami clutched a 10-point lead to start the fourth, and transformed it into 27 before the bludgeoning on the Spurs had ended. This series goes to San Antonio for three games, and perhaps the Heat will need more scoring out of James, the kind of big shots that role players can't always deliver on the road.
Whatever happens, it'll be on LeBron James' terms, his rules of engagement. His genius is finding the moments, the opportunities and turning them into something transcendental. Here comes Splitter, reaching up and back, reaching for a moment of truth on LeBron James.
Do something, the planet's best player told himself. Do something. Yes, Mario Chalmers and everyone else saw this one coming, and poor Tiago Splitter never had a chance. The greatest block people had ever seen in the NBA Finals had come out of LeBron James chasing the simple and turning it into the spectacular. That's the genius of his game, the blessing for these Miami Heat. Everyone knows it's coming and there's no stopping it, no stopping him.
NBA Finals coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
• Late run powers Heat blowout of Spurs in Game 2
• LeBron James' supporting cast defiant after Game 2 victory
• Watch: LeBron emphatically blocks Tiago Splitter's dunk attempt
• NBA players show their playoff fashion
• Y! Sports Fan Shop: Buy 2013 NBA Finals merchandise
- Sports & Recreation
- LeBron James
- Tiago Splitter
- Mario Chalmers