This was supposed to be easy.
LeBron James, the NBA’s greatest player had fallen short of true greatness due to his failure to win a championship. After seven seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers he publicly announced in a widely ridiculed interview/slash/performance piece that he would “take his talents to South Beach” and play with the Miami Heat.
The Heat was a shiny BMW to the beat up Dodge the King’s former team. Dwayne Wade was already there waiting for the King and soon others followed such as Chris Bosh from the Toronto Raptors dead zone, a power forward prone to power outages. With Pat Riley acolyte Eric Spolestra as the coach/designated ball boy charged with the task of guiding this merger to the first of many championships, The Heat put together a decent, if not devastating roster of journeymen, role players, has beens, and spare parts. It was enough for King James and his court to survive the grind of the season and crush the 76ers, Celtics and the Bulls in the NBA Playoffs.
Leaving only the Dallas Mavericks, a group of perennial bridesmaids and one superstar, Dirk Nowitzki, a seven-footer from Germany with a sweet jump shot and a reputation for being the worst thing any pro athlete can be. Soft. Far too soft to deny LeBron, who had LeGone from the snows of Cleveland to the sun of Miami.
This was going to be easy. Miami would brush aside the Mavs and LeBron would finally enjoy the glory his nickname as King James proclaimed was his by Divine Right.
Then a funny thing happened. LeBron turned into LeGone again and then, LeChoke. He pulled a disappearing act in the championships would make Harry Houdini and Cris Angel jealous as hell.
The underdog Mavs beat the Heat in six games after closing them out with a 105-95 win on the opposing team’s home court. Nowitzki won the series Most Valuable Player (though he scored no points for good sportsmanship by immediately leaving the floor after Dallas secured the win and declining to shake the hands of James, Wade or any Heat player).
Dallas is a better coached and much more complete team than Miami, but are they a better team? No. Miami has great players, but Dallas has a great team and like when the Pistons destroyed the 2004 O’Neal/Bryant/Malone/Payton Lakers, great teams beat great players (despite what David Stern might wish).
Dirk didn’t cut and run on the Mavs the way LeGone did with the Cavs. Dirk didn’t hold some arrogant reality show to announce he was taking his talents to South Beach. Dirk didn’t boast how he was going to win “not one…not two…not three…championships.
If I were building a team I’d rather have Dirk Nowitzki than LeGone James. Not because he would be a better player. Because he would be a better teammate.
Nowitzki explained bolting from the court when he later told ESPN’s Hannah Storm, “I had to get a moment. I was crying a bit. I was a little emotional. … I actually didn’t want to come out for the trophy, but the guys talked me into it.”
I can’t imagine a guy who just won his and his team’s first championship not wanting to share in the glory and hoist the trophy and I’ll cut him a little slack for not wanting to cry in front of the cameras. But Dirk, if your teammates can hang on the floor and shake the opposing team’s hand and you are the leader/best player of your team, you can do it too.
That goes for you and LeGone. Flip the script and if this had been James walking off the court without shaking Dirk’s hand after winning the championship, he would be ROASTED by the press and the fans.
But being a bad sport wasn’t exclusively Dirk’s problem. LeBrick (thanks Facebook friend Merlisa Lawrence Corbett for that one) retreated to Twitter account to say, “The Greater Man upstairs know when it’s my time. Right now isn’t the time.”
It’s never been your time LeChoke. The Greater Man decided it was Dirk Nowitzki’s time, not yours. One day LeBron James will be a champion, but first he’s going to have to learn a bit about humility. So far, he’s proven to be a slow learner.
Since LeBron lost to Dirk, a German export, here’s a German word for him: schadenfreude. It means finding satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune. There’s a lot of satisfaction and pleasure in Cleveland today.
There can only be one. Once again, it’s not you, LeChoke.