By: Keenan Bailey
Maybe it was his decision to forgo college, maybe it was the decision to become great or maybe it was “The Decision” itself, regardless, somewhere along the line, Lebron Raymone James of Akron, Ohio was cursed .At the time of the 2010 NBA Playoffs, Lebron “King” James was still leading his hometown Cavaliers throughout what would turn out to be his final days in Cleveland. The second Playoff series which capped off with the Boston Celtics defeating the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, eerily foreshadows the possible fate of James two seasons later.
Before Heat forward Chris Bosh went down with an abdominal strain, the Heat were a high powered squad consisting of three All-Stars that besides a small dilemma at center, posed no elimination-threatening flaw. Now, with a member of its sensational “Big Three” out indefinitely, the current Heat lineup finds itself pinned up against the ropes for the first time in a long while, with no immediate remedy to fill the void left by the ‘Odd-Man-Out. Following Bosh’s injury, James’s 2010 and current playoff runs are so similar it’s ridiculous: Both years Lebron received the sport’s most coveted honor as league MVP, both years the expectations for the ring-less superstar were sky high and truthfully, both times the King had been surrounded with a motley medley of mediocre mates. Despite the uniforms’ team name and number being changed, this year’s playoffs is nothing more than hopeless déjàvu for a weary King.
The recent Game 2 loss, which took place at home by the count of 78-75 accurately revealed the mediocrity of the complementary players surrounding Lebron, not excluding the ‘face of the franchise’ in 8 time All-Star Dwayne Wade. What makes the existing situation so bizarre is the two squads, the 2010 Cavs and 2012 Heat, are a mirror-like copy of the other. For starters, Lebron hasn’t changed a bit: both seasons the King averaged just a shade less than 30 points, 7 rebounds and roughly 6 assists a game. Many are incorrect in believing that the addition of two superstars alongside James has taken away from his chances of output, but in fact, the King’s 40 minutes and 20 shots per game is shared equally between the two seasons. When it comes to James’s teammates, Antawn Jamison’s 16 points and 6 boards per game is comparable to Bosh’s averaged 18 points and 7 rebounds. Even Mo William’s 16 points and 5 assists aren’t far from Wade’s 22 and 5 numbers. Still, it is the role players’ relatability that shows signs of the curse’s dark magic. Cleveland’s Delonte West served as a fiery stable point guard for the Cavs, very similar to the Heat’s Mario Chalmers: both guards, who equally averaged 9 points in their separate seasons, are used to be no more than consistent ball handlers but tends to take countless shots that aren’t within the two’s abilities. Cavalier big men Shaquielle O’Neal, Anderson Varejo and Zydrunas Illgaskus are quite similar to the coach Spoelstra’s bundle of Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony and Ronny Turiaf: each body is intended to clean up the glass and provide the little things such as grabbing loose balls, sparking the team and crowd emotionally and setting quality screens for scorers, but all are streaky on defense and are par offensively at best. Not only could they pass for distant cousins in appearance, but Cleveland’s Anthony Parker and Miami’s Shane Battier are both stable veterans who play solid defense and are (supposedly) deadly marksmen from deep, but neither has enough talent to provide much more. If you want to get really in depth, look at the Cav’s Daniel Gibson and Heat’s Norris Cole. Both are young point guards who turn the rock over far too much but posses an unexpected spark able to ignite the offense, from the bench.
Look even closer and not only are the players themselves alike, but the outcome of the contest are identical. Both the 2010 and the 2012 series started with just about each and every NBA commentator and analyst predicting in Lebron James’s favor. Back in 2010 no one thought that the aging Big 3 of Boston could keep up with James and the Cavs, similarly before the Heat/Pacers series kicked off, few truly thought that the mundane team from Indiana could slow down the flashy favorites from South Beach. In Game 1 of both series Lebron James defended his home court with a victory. Back in 2010 at the Q Arena, the Cavs downed the Celtics with Lebron scoring over 30 points but also receiving help from his wingman, Mo Williams, who added 20 points of his own. In Game 1 against the Pacers, Lebron dropped 32 points with Wade scoring 29 points of his own, thus taking the series lead 1-0. How about Bosh? In Game 1, Bosh had only 13 points, in the 2010 Game 1, forward JJ Hickson added 11 to help Cleveland’s cause. In both Game 2s; however, Lebron lost at home, due to lack of teammate production. In the 2010 Game 2, Lebron scored 24 points, but the rest of the starters combined for only 34, and in Monday’s loss to the Pacers at home, James solely accounted for 28 while the four other starters amassed a wimpy 36 points. If this evil spells continues as it is, the Heat will go down in 6 games.
Even if you are one to ignore these many Steven King-esque signs, let the latest Miami Heat performance be the sign that Lebron James’s career has been and currently is a one man show. Both seasons Lebron won MVP while serving as his team’s center piece come Playoff time. In 2010, the lack of adequate aid was made apparent when the clearly older and more lethargic Boston Celtics eliminated the younger and heavily-favorite Cleveland Cavaliers. Currently, if you manage to look past a whiny, individual-oriented sidekick, you will surely notice that the only help James receives is the same aid that amounts to little more than a few loose balls and a possible big shot. It may be a side effect that one nervous fan gets after a single loss or it may be a curse that will grow to join that of the Chicago Cub’s billy goat, but either way the fact that the current Miami squad since the fall of Bosh is relatable to the 2010 Cavs is worth acknowledging. I solemnly hope you as a reader have noticed by now that there is one season, one playoff run, and one crucial chapter left out of this article which took place between the seasons of 2010 and 2012. The Playoff run of Lebron James in 2011 ended dramatically in the NBA Finals at the hands of a very formidable and cohesive unit in the Dallas Mavericks, lead by Dirk Nowitzkis. The loss however should not be attributed to any lack of help on the part of King James’s teammates, for it was not King James, but an angry man who looked to get back at the public for scorning him, who lost the 2011 NBA Finals. The Finals loss; however, has produced a new and completely rejuvenated sovereign: a King that will now stop at nothing in his crusade back to the Finals, a King that has admitted his mistakes and has returned to his old deftly amusing and skillfully exuberant ways. Let us hope that the celebrity-studded courtside cast of attendees, the flamboyant entrances or the irrational glamour that South Beach has contributed is enough to reverse this curse, for we all remember 2010, the last time King James ventured into the NBA Playoffs with no necessary aid from his comrades.