LeBron James pulled out one of the all-time great playoff performances in NBA history on Thursday evening. Now, before fans of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant (and Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, etc.) chime in that LeBron has yet to win a title, they are right. However, even LeBron’s greatest critics have to acknowledge his performance in Game 6 was nothing short of incredible.
Most impressive to this viewer was the resolve seen in James’ eyes from the outset. It was a focus seen so often in Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Although I have long felt LeBron is the best player in the world, he has seemingly lacked the chip to take over games when fans want it most. Some of this may be a flaw, and some of it may be LeBron’s desire to make the right play, even if that means letting lesser players take big shots.
So what did he do? 19-26 from the field. 30 points in the first half, and most important a blowout victory on the road in a game that would have ended the Heat season. 45 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists, numbers exceeded only once in playoff history (by Wilt Chamberlain).
So far in these playoffs, in the two games they needed most (down 2-1 to Indiana and down 3-2 to Boston), LeBron has averaged 42.5 points, 16.5 rebounds, and 7 assists. Pretty good numbers for a choke artist. Pretty amazing numbers even for the best player in the world.