Let me preface what I am about to write with this: I am no fan of Lebron. I respect him, and what he has accomplished, but I, admittedly, root against him. I tend toward the underdog, and Lebron has been the absolute opposite of that for most of his career.
That being said, he is the most phenomenal athlete I have witnessed since I began to comprehend sports. I mean, I watched MJ when I was a kid, but I can’t say I fully appreciated it like I can appreciate what Lebron does playoff game after playoff game.
When Lebron last missed the Finals, I was still in college and living in Kentucky. There have been a lot of posts centered around what life was like in 2010, so I won’t pile on here. I am more interested in what happened in the last elimination game that Lebron lost before the Finals.
Ok, the was rough…let’s look at May 13, 2010. The scene: TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The situation: Lebron and the Cavaliers trailed the Boston Celtics three games to two. Or, more specifically, the original super team, the Boston Big Three, were poised to head to the Eastern Conference Finals with Lebron’s back against the wall. Boston won 94 – 85.
No surprise, Lebron turned in a triple-double in an elimination game. At the time, it was the sixth playoff trip-dub of his career. He scored 27 points, nabbed 19 rebounds, and dished out 10 assists. Earning his 2nd MVP and leading Cleveland to home court advantage did not get him into the Finals…or even the Conference Finals. Remember the narrative that Lebron can’t win the big one? Yeah…that aged well.
Lebron was quoted after that game as saying, “A friend of mine told me, ‘I guess you’ve got to go through a lot of nightmares before you realize your dream.’ That’s what’s going on for me individually right now.”
Earlier this season, when Lebron passed MJ for career points scored, he made an Instagram post to child-Lebron congratulating him on what he would accomplish in his career. Maybe he should have just DMed 2010-Lebron to cheer himself up? At any rate, thats water under the bridge.
Back to May 13, 2010. Raise your hand if you remember the starting five of the Cavs back then? Yeah…me neither. Mo Williams (would have guessed), Lebron, Antwan Jamison (forgot about him), Anthony Parker (him too), and Shaq (might have, wouldn’t have, totally couldn’t have guessed him). Mo Williams was the second-leading scorer with 22 points, Shaq had 11, and no one else scored in double figures. In fact, Jamario Moon (who could forget him…), was the only Cleveland player who finished in the positive in the plus/minus stat column (+5).
An iconic piece of memorabilia from that series was a poster Celtics fans held up from the seats of Lebron. It was in the style of Barack Obama’s “Change” poster…except it was Lebron and it said “Nope.” Two straight years he led the Cavs to the number-one overall seed in the playoffs and two straight years they exited early.
As anyone will remember, though, Lebron took his talents to South Beach the following season and shook off the stigma of never making it to the big stage…because he’s been there ever since.