Last night was the night that many people have been waiting for ever since the NBA schedule was released this past summer. It was to be the first time that LeBron James and the Miami Heat would return to Cleveland to play the Cavaliers since “The Decision.” Needless to say, this was perhaps the biggest game in NBA history that featured two teams who came into the game with a combined record of .500 for the season.
For Miami, it may have been the first ever game in NBA history to be deemed a “must win” game in early December. But that was exactly what last night’s game meant to Miami.
For the first time this season, they did not disappoint.
James said that his return would not be personal. He said that he still loved the city and the team and its fans. He said he was just coming out to pick up a win for Miami. He may have said all the right things leading up to tip-off, but once the game started, his talking was all done on the floor.
James had his best game in a Heat uniform last night as he listened to everything that the jilted fans had to say. Chants of “Akron hates you” filled the arena. As did when they called him Scottie Pippen. I had no problem with the first one, but the second one was slightly bothersome.I get what they were going for, saying that James will never lead a team and is more suited to play second fiddle.
While that may be how many ignorant people see Pippen, keep in mind that he is one of the 50 greatest players of all time. Sure, he never won a title without Jordan. But there is no doubt in my mind that Jordan would have never won a championship without Pippen. If James turns into Pippen for the Heat, with Dwyane Wade taking over the role of leader (or Jordan), then everyone in Miami will be quite content with those results.
But the chants meant nothing. The fans getting ejected or arrested meant nothing. The Cavs doing their trash talking meant nothing. Because once again, the night belonged to James in Cleveland. He scored a season high 38 points (24 were scored in the third quarter) and added 8 assists and 5 rebounds. Oh, and he also committed zero turnovers. And all of that was done in under three quarters. Miami decided enough was enough and sat James out for the entire fourth quarter.
For now, it is all over. Miami is still underperforming. There is no question about that, even at 12-8. They are beating up on the weaker teams, such as Cleveland, but still cannot play a complete game together to hang with the beasts of the NBA. Whether that changes or not remains to be seen.
But for at least this one moment, LeBron James is once again King for a day.
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