Friday, February 21, 2014

Last night LeBron James reminded everyone he's the best player in the NBA

You can’t deny him that. On Thursday night, when LeBron James’ Miami Heat visited Oklahoma City to play the Thunder, James was electrifying, dropping 33 points on 15-22 shooting. He threw in 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals as well. He would’ve done more if Serge Ibaka hadn’t popped him in the nose late in the game, a play that left James vleeding on the court. (He still finished the dunk on the play, of course, because James doesn’t need a nose to dunk.)
With NBA fans around the country tuned in to the nationally-televised game, he made a statement.
Many thought it would be a repeat of the last time Oklahoma City and Miami met. In that game, a thrilling Thunder victory, Kevin Durant outplayed James and appeared to stake his claim for 2014′s Most Valuable Player. Throughout the month of January, Durant kept it up too, putting the Thunder on his back as his partner-in-crime Russell Westbrook sat with an injury.
People weren’t just discussing Durant as another MVP candidate because they were bored of voting for James. It really looked like this might be Durant’s year.
Then James came in to Oklahoma City and reminded everyone who the NBA’s alpha dog is. You could tell right from the start of the game that it was going to be One of Those Nights, as LeBron dropped a quick 14 in the first quarter on shots from just about everywhere. He was driving. He was hitting threes. Oklahoma tried different defenders on him, but it didn’t work. Durant looked rattled, too, lost, and even the energy from a returned Westbrook wasn’t enough to keep it close. The Heat won 103-81, and they looked mighty fine doing it.
Is James now the MVP? It’s hard to tell. He doesn’t bring it every night. Not like that.
That’s not a bad thing, either. The man has played an unbelievable amount of games these past few years. Deep playoff runs followed by NBA title series every year since joining the Heat, the Olympics two years ago…it’s tough to maintain a level of commitment, drive and intensity night after night after all these years. Just about everyone on the Heat has broken down at one point or another in this run, except James. When Wade gets an injury, James plays on. When Ray Allen needs a week or two to rest, James remains.
He’s an alien. Cast of iron. Made of stone. It was shocking to see him bleed after Ibaka busted his nose because who knew that it was possible to make James bleed?
Is he the MVP of the 2014 NBA season? Tough to tell. Durant’s been phenomenal, and the Thunder scorer probably has the edge right now. For James, it might not matter, though. All he says he cares about is another title. If he’s able to turn it on in the postseason like he did last night, and the Heat are able to rally around him like they did, he’ll win it.