As people who rather gleefully admit to actively cheering against LeBron James and the Miami Heat, we feel we must clarify the source of our anti-LeBron animus. We are in the "we're still a little sore about The Decision, but more to the point, sports is more fun when there are villains (even if none of these people are bad people, and this is more a matter of being purposefully and even somewhat healthily illogical to maximize one's enjoyment of an entertainment property with no connection to our every day life than any sort of actual malice toward the man or his teammates) and LeBron makes such a handy, consistent one" camp. Another camp is the "LeBron chokes in the clutch because he's a choking choker jerk choke choke choke." We are in the first camp, one, we believe, is a normal, fun way to experience sports. The second camp is Skip Bayless, empty name-calling drivel meant to "inspire debate." The first camp might look dumb in a week, but the second camp looks stupid right now, this morning.
LeBron didn't necessarily have the fourth quarter of his dreams last night in the Heat's 100-96 Game Two victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder to tie up the NBA Finals 1-1 — he had a lazy jumper late and the first half of the quarter was forgettable — but you can't say he didn't come up huge in the clutch, including a splendid bank shot with a minute-and-a-half left and some clutch free throws in the final minute. It was a titanic back-and-forth between LeBron and Kevin Durant, and this time, LeBron, on the road, came out on top.
It all came down to a final possession with LeBron guarding Durant and the Heat having the lead. Durant drove, LeBron went up, he hit Durant, no foul was called, the shot missed, and it was over. (Here's a great rundown of the last two minutes.) You can make a pretty strong argument that LeBron fouled Durant, but that's rarely called at that point in the game, and particularly not against a superstar like LeBron. (It's worth noting that Durant didn't complain after the game, simply saying, "I missed the shot.") What matters is that it really did come down to a one-on-one battle in the fourth quarter between the two best players in the NBA, and LeBron won it.
Dwyane Wade — oh yeah! him! — had a much better game, scoring 24 points, and the difference for the Heat from Game One might have been that the non-LeBrons had more shots fall this time. However it happened, the Thunder just lost at home for the first time in the playoffs, and the Heat now have home-court advantage, albeit in front of a crowd without near the massive sound explosion capabilities as Oklahoma City's. This is going to be an amazing Finals — it has Henry Abbott wondering if this is as good as basketball gets — that, if we have any luck, will go seven games and never be forgotten. We'll still be cheering against LeBron if that happens, of course, but that doesn't mean we're not going to be sitting there staring at him, and Durant, mesmerized by what might possibly come next.