LeBron James and the Miami Heat defeated the Boston Celtics in five games with their 97-87 win in Miami. The Heat closed the game on a 16-0 run, including the last ten points from the most dramatic man in sports himself, LeBron James. But, it was after the game was over that LeBron continued to make headlines. A mere 307 days after one of the most ridiculous moments in sports history, LeBron James apologized for The Decision...
"I knew deep down in my heart, as much as I loved my teammates back in Cleveland and as much as I loved home, I knew it couldn’t do it by myself against that team,” James said.
“The way it panned out with all the friends and family and the fans back home, I apologize for the way it happened. I knew this opportunity was once in a lifetime. To be able to come down here and pair with two guys and this organization — in order for me to move on with my career, that team that we just defeated, we had to go through them."
Is this apology too late for many fans? Absolutely. I'm all for forgiveness, but excuse me if James' apology seems hollow...
Brian Windhorst - "On May 11, 2011, James came to peace with himself. The loss to the Celtics last year when he was a shell of himself, the endless backlash for signing with the Heat and the response to the claims that he was not a clutch player collided. The way it worked out will not satisfy everyone with an emotional chip in the situation -- but it will for James. He'll be able to sleep. For a while, anyway."
Rob Mahoney - "As much as we’d like to pretend that James must abide by the same rules and conventions of everyone else, superstars on this level are gifted with the freedom to disregard reason."
Tom Haberstroh - "We just witnessed one of the best clutch performances in playoff history."
John Krolik - "The final moments of the Heat-Celtics Eastern semifinals belonged to LeBron James. He defeated his longtime nemesis, the team that embarrassed him in the 2010 playoffs and ultimately chased him out of Cleveland. For one night, if only for one night, James vindicated the hype that has surrounded him since he graced the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high-schooler and the hype that has surrounded him since he came to Miami."
The Celtics "chasing him out of Cleveland" is a new one. I've chronicled ESPN's Heat Index on and off for the course of the season. First off, the fact that there is a Heat Index should be enough to question ESPN's journalistic integrity in the matter. Much like their partnership with Texas, ESPN pouring so many resources into covering the Heat over any other team should raise eyebrows. At what point does ESPN become the local NBA TV announcers cheering their team on during the Playoffs? After trying to convince us that the Miami Heat were the greatest collection of talent in the history of living organisms, then trying to sell us on their rock star status, now the LeBron cheerleaders can finally come out in full force. James has vanquished his final two foes - the Boston Celtics and any lingering criticism of The Decision. Surely a title and the beloved status are on their way shortly. Don't be surprised to see ESPN and many others in the sports media continue with this narrative of the all-conquering LeBron James and his Superfriends.
After closely observing LeBron James for a year, this latest twist in his saga seems more like a snake shedding another layer of skin than some sort of meaningful transformation. James can search for redemption all he wants in titles won and apologies given... but it won't make scores of fans forget the debacle that was The Decision, or forget how he quit on the Cavs in last year's NBA Playoffs. The same LeBron that ended last night's game on a 10-0 run went 3-14 exactly one year earlier on his home floor in the most distant, embarrassing performance by a superstar in league history. One year ago, he was outscored by Shaquille O'Neal, if that helps to put it in perspective. (By the way, that Cavaliers team had a better regular season record than James' Heat.) Then, he let us all come along on the journey of The Decision, when he knew in his heart he was going to Miami all along. Expect LeBron and the media to sell us on James doing what he had to do to win a title in moving to Miami and his personal redemption. The truth is that James had his chance last year and quit on his own team and fans. Cleveland is still waiting on that apology.