There’s no more room for excuses. LeBron James simply didn’t come to play Tuesday night.
What ensued was the worst loss in franchise history in what could possibly have been the last home game for LeBron in a Cavaliers uniform.
Any way you slice it, LeBron’s performance headlined a pitiful effort by the Cavaliers, from top to bottom. The Celtics deserve credit, but LeBron and company deserve a ton of blame.
The Cavs led for much of the first quarter as LeBron got his teammates involved. Although he took a long jumper early in the game, it was evident that he had no interest in shooting from the perimeter. He gave up the ball without hesitation and rarely drove aggressively into the lane.
He drifted through the first half without breaking a sweat.
Even after a six-point halftime deficit quickly ballooned to 12 early in the third quarter, LeBron showed no sense of urgency. His mind was clearly elsewhere.
For his teammates, already battling confidence and identity issues thanks in large part to Mike Brown’s inability to make adjustments, appeared to be playing in a state of shock.
The competitive nature was gone. The confidence was gone. The jump shot looked worse than ever.
TNT’s Charles Barkley summed up the feelings of thousands of baffled fans following the game, saying he was disappointed in LeBron’s lack of aggressiveness.
One of the most talented and ferocious players in NBA history had suddenly transformed himself into Josh Smith.
Even the best players in the history of the game have had off nights. But it’s difficult to imagine any of LeBron’s counterparts or predecessors, from Kobe Bryant to Michael Jordan, going down without a fight in a game of this magnitude.
No matter what happens in the remainder of the series, it will be difficult to forget LeBron’s no-show in Game 5.
In fact, it might take a championship to erase, or at least override, the site of a mega-talented athlete transforming himself into a prima donna as the world watched.
LeBron was supposed to be different. He was supposed to be grounded, self-motivated, and hungry to be the best that ever played the game.
Throughout the Eastern Conference semifinals, he has been a mere mortal.
At some point, it will be important to examine what really happened in Game 5.
It seems likely that LeBron, who has managed to keep his personal life mostly private, has something else on his plate at the moment.
He could be paranoid about his elbow injury. He could be feuding with Mike Brown. He could be watching the team chemistry erode around him, as evidenced by repeated mistakes and inconsistent substitution patterns.
LeBron could know he is about to leave the area he grew up to seek greener pastures.
Or, he could be obsessed with his money and fame. His passion for developing business ventures, although admirable, gives him an untimely agenda no other NBA player has had to deal with. Wait until your career is over, young man. Win a few titles first too.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the debacle Tuesday, the LeBron known to the world was nowhere to be found.
Hopefully, the world will witness his unbridled greatness on display once again–in a Cavaliers uniform.