Jordan – 1st All-NBA, 1st All-Defensive
Pippen – 1st All-NBA, 1st All-Defensive <— Now THAT is “help”
Rodman – 1st All-Defensive <— 3 of 5 top defenders on same team!?
Kukoc – Sixth Man of the Year <— Now that’s just not fair!
Jackson – Coach of the Year <— Greatest coach of all time?
72 wins on a loaded team in a weak era is nice, but LeBron James won 27 straight games (66 overall) basically by himself in 2013.
You might assume that someone was injured. Why else would James Jones get so many meaningful minutes in the playoffs? He played 14 minutes and scored 12 points in Game 1 vs Charlotte – for him that’s a lot.
There were times in series past where I thought specifically, “Spo needs to put Jones in.” But it never happened. This year is different. Spoelstra has been showing a Popovichian level of trust in the depth of his roster this season. And LeBron hit it on the head in this one:
“We needed a spark and BOOM…that’s big time coaching Spo.”
Big time coaching. Spo is still underrated. And maybe so is James Jones.
Every time Jones shoots I think it’s going in (perfect arc), and he was even taking challengers off the dribble in Game 1. Coach Spoelstra obviously saw a place for Jones in this Bobcats series, so we should enjoy watching him shoot while we can, because we might not see him play in the next one.
“…if you said to me you want to vote for James, I’d vote for him too.”
“There is no wrong answer.”
Then Van Gundy The Thinner adds this (the feeling of a lot of observers):
“I hope Durant wins it, because he’s never done it.”
And people think voter fatigue isn’t playing a part in the MVP race.
If James was MVP-less he may have won it over Durant just for sentimental reasons alone – the same reason Kobe Bryant won in 2008.
That being said, I don’t think the race is very close at all – I think LeBron is objectively the strongest MVP candidate. But the criteria for voting is never the same year to year, or the same from voter to voter, so there are years where it’s not clear why one candidate deserves it over another. That is going to be the case this year with Kevin Durant.
But this is the third year in a row that LeBron has led the Heat in scoring, rebounding and assists, so perhaps it’s become old hat to voters.
“What’s that? LeBron isn’t missing again this year, while doing absolutely everything for his team? Oh, well we’ve seen that before. Isn’t somebody doing something new?”
I’m going to go off on a tangent here, but people actually started taking LeBron for granted years ago. Even when he won his 4 MVPs the majority of the population still had no idea how great LeBron actually had been – this even applies to many of his biggest fans.
I’ve always said this, and it also applies to me: No matter how good you think LeBron is, he’s better than that.
That is how he keeps surprising us. For example:
Nobody thought LeBron could win 2 MVPs AFTER joining the Heat – not with Wade and Bosh there. I had kind of accepted the fact that 2 MVPs were more than enough and it was worth the sacrifice to start adding rings.
Nobody saw Game 6 vs Boston coming, though in hindsight it seems like it was inevitable.
LeBron’s Game 7 history suggested that he would play well in the deciding game of the finals last year, but I had no idea he was going to turn into Larry Bird and not miss a jumper.
Nobody thought LeBron could top his 2012 season where he won MVP, Finals MVP and a gold medal that summer – but he somehow did in 2013.
Did anyone think the Heat would be able to win 27 games in a row without being able to rebound?
I didn’t think there was any way LeBron could shoot better than the .565 he shot last year, but he did this year – and did it while making more threes.
I didn’t think LeBron would be a better three point shooter than Ray Allen in 2013-14, but that’s what he was.
Analysts like Kenny Smith told us that teams that rebound as poorly as Miami cannot repeat. He really meant teams without LeBron James.
Analysts told us that teams without a 7 foot presence inside cannot win back-to-back titles. They really meant teams without LeBron James.
So what else is going to surprise us this year? I think Miami winning three rings in a row while being one of the worst rebounding teams in the league would do it. Most people thought it was an impossibility – but James specializes in upsetting preconceived notions, so we’ll see.