It's all perfectly laid out in front of him.
A 3-1 series lead. The possible clinching game in Miami. A mere 48 minutes away from the championship that has eluded him for the better half of a decade.
Yes. That's all that stands between LeBron James and basketball immortality.
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Simply put -- he's carried the Miami Heat on his back.
Yes. Mistakes have been made in the past. Yes. LeBron pulled a disappearing act in last year's Finals. But truth be told -- this is a completely different LeBron James we're seeing now. Finally, after nine long seasons, he has transformed himself into the player everyone had longed for him to be.
That "choke" stuff? It's dead and buried, whether you like it or not. How can it not be? Every time LeBron has faced adversity in these playoffs -- he's risen to the occasion. He's defined the moment, not the other way around.
Pacers take a 2-1 series lead, LeBron leads Miami to 3-straight wins. The Celtics take a 3-2 series lead with Game 6 back in Boston, LeBron explodes and leads the Heat to a blowout victory. The Thunder take Game 1 of the Finals, LeBron leads Miami to 3-straight wins (again), and a chance to wrap the series up at home tonight.
All pressure situations. All defining moments. All concurred by LeBron.
I doubt Game 5 will be any different.
Granted, last night was probably the longest night of LeBron's life. He probably got little-to-no sleep. But who could? I mean, given the circumstances of how he got to where he is and what all is at stake -- the pressure he's currently feeling has to be immense.
After all, if the Heat can't end it tonight, the series is heading back to OKC, and at that point -- it's probably time to hit the panic button.
However, if this year's playoffs have taught us nothing else, they've taught us that every time you expect Miami to lose, they don't -- and every time you count LeBron out, he's not.
That's the reality the Thunder face this evening.
And it's not a good sign for them.
I've been called a LeBron-hater many times in the past. No, I don't particularly care for the way he's carried and/or portrayed himself throughout the course of his NBA career, but still, at no point have I ever questioned his ability. In fact, I've repeatedly referred to him as the greatest physical specimen the game has ever seen.
But regardless, hater or not, I'm always the first person to acknowledge greatness when I'm witnessing it, and to give credit where credit is do, no matter what my personal feelings are towards a particular player.
And the bottom line is -- right now, LeBron James is playing like a man amongst boys.
So yeah, haters are gonna hate. But the fact of the matter is, James is now only 48 minutes away from giving said haters a whole helluva lot less to complain about.
Let the coronation countdown commence.