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NBA Awards – Lebron Chokes Again

The Wilt Chamberlain Award:  3-Way Tie Between… The Heat’s  Dwyane Wade — 23 pts, 2 reb, 8 asst, 10 FTM, 2 stl, 1 blk, 1 trey, and 6-12 FG%…and…The Mavericks’  Dirk Nowitzki — 29 pts, 6 reb, 3 asst, 10 FTM, 1 stl, 0 blk, 1 trey, and 9-18FG%…The Mavericks’  Jason Terry — 21 pts, 4 reb, 6 asst, 2 FTM, 0 stl, 0 blk, 3 treys, and 8-12 FG%. Wade was quite clutch with great 4th quarter passing, often to Haslem who was also big in crunch time. Clearly lacking his usual burst and lift after his injury, Wade was nonetheless able to score and distribute at key moments, and certainly did his part to give the Heat a chance at victory. Dirk was Dirk, another rock solid game, huge rainbow 3 pointer late, and has now missed 1 free throw in the entire series (43 of 44). Terry is seemingly ageless, or maybe even getting better with age. Big shots, nice passes, very few turnovers (5 in the 5 games so far, over 160 minutes played), and the guy turns 34 this September. I still remember watching him as super skinny freshman at Arizona, probably just 6′ 0″ 160lbs at the time (he’s 6′ 2″, 180 now), giving the team big minutes (30/gm) and solid production (10.6 pts, 4.4 asst, 2.5 stl) as a key contributor on the Wildcats only NCAA Championship Team in 1997. He’s just a gamer, the opposite of Lebron. Read below for more on him…
The Charles Smith Award:  The Heat’s  Lebron James — 17 pts, 10 reb, 10 asst, 1 FTM, 0 stl, 1 blk, 0 treys, and 8-19 FG% in 45 minutes…I barely know where to start with his performance last night, such a shrinking violet when the spotlight is on. Not only was he outscored by a gimpy Wade 23 to 17, but Wade almost matched Lebron’s total after his injury, as he scored 15 of his 23 after the collision with Cardinal. And Wade missed a huge chunk of the 2nd and 3rd quarters!
              Right off the bat I had a bad feeling when the Heat came out and went out of their way to get Lebron going early. It reminded me of the Bulls in the 90’s, when Michael would get his lesser teammates extra involved early. But instead of Lebron playing the role of MJ, he was the fragile teammate who needed extra attention and help…alas, it didn’t work.
             He played nervous and unsure of himself from the outset…bad turnovers, overdribbling, clanked shots (0-4 from distance). At one point in the 4th quarter, the camera isolated on his facial expression, which told the entire story. Gone was the cocky, smug smile, replaced by a plaintive, almost innocent look of a man who wasn’t quite sure of himself, his role, or his legacy. He looked like a freshman on his first day of high school.
                   He never scored in the 4th quarter until the outcome was basically decided…his biggest miss being a wide open 3 at the top of the key with the Heat down 102-100…clank, another brick in the wall separating Lebron from the all-time clutch NBA greats. When Wade hit a 3 pointer to put the Heat up 99-95 with under 5 minutes to play, that was the time to pass the baton to Lebron – “Hey LBJ, you’ve been pretty lame for 43 minutes of this game, and I’m beat up and staggering here, but I’ve done my best…can you finish them off for me?” The answer was no.

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