May 10, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) watches the final minutes from the bench in game three of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Brooklyn Nets won 104-90. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat: LeBron James' MVP Villain Act Just What Team Needed

We all know that the LeBron James MVP hopes were dashed because of a terrific (and deserving) Kevin Durant. That doesn’t mean the Miami Heat and James can’t have the last laugh. With a dominating 49-point performance in Game 4 against the Brooklyn Nets, James brought out his villainous attitude that we’ve seen before — one that will carry the Heat to their third consecutive championship if he keeps it up.

Nobody in their right mind believed the Heat were in any sort of trouble against the Nets, but the Heat definitely would rather tie up the loose ends sooner than later. James took it upon himself to virtually end any fading hopes the Nets had by putting up an awe-inspiring performance, going 16-for-24 from the field, 3-for-6 from the 3-point line and 14-for-19 from the foul stripe. He added six rebounds, two assists and three steals, with the 49 points tying his career high.

Despite all the good news, James continued his villain act off the court, when he said this:

That’s the first time I’ve been disappointed in myself in a win.

When we’re talking about fiery competitors, those kinds of words really hurt. James may have well stabbed Kevin Garnett straight in the heart by making a statement like that. It’s a knock on the opponent, with James implying he should have scored 50 points. From a personal standpoint, I absolutely love it. James has had a dark side for quite some time but he’s never fully embraced it. He needs to go full Hollywood Hulk Hogan from here on out.

The Heat are the overwhelming favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference, but they’re going to run into a tough team from the West. It could be the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers or James’ (former) kryptonite — the San Antonio Spurs. Having an angry and aggressive James is what the Heat will need to get by those teams.

ESPN Stats and Information noted that James took the ball to the basket 10 times in Game 4, after averaging just 5.3 drives in the first three games. He scored 34 of his 49 points attacking the basket and was 11-for-12 in the restricted area. The truth (sorry Paul Pierce) is that there’s nobody on the Nets (or in the NBA, really) who can guard James when he goes to the basket.

James is bigger, stronger and faster (pound-for-pound) than anyone in the league. What he’s been missing from time-to-time is a bit of nastiness, an attitude that he’s going to bury his opponent, tell them about it and then kick dirt on their graves.

Larry Bird and Michael Jordan had that competitive gene that they weren’t happy with just winning a game. They wanted to obliterate, humiliate and embarrass any opponent that dared disrespect them. James shows that gene at times, but then it fades away and he becomes more passive again.

For the Heat to secure a berth in their fourth consecutive NBA Finals, the sometimes-angry James will do. If the Heat want to become the first team since the 2000-02 Los Angeles Lakers to win three consecutive championships, they’re going to need James to kick his anger and aggressiveness into overdrive — and keep it there until the final horn sounds.

Tags: Miami Heat

  • Valentine Xavier

    How old are you, friend? Did you actually watch MJ in the playoffs in the 90s? I believe that he “disappeared” in games as much as any other mega superstar might. I remember one season in the early 90s where people were especially confounded. It led Jack McCallum to write about it in Sports Illustrated (June 8, 1992):

    “Michael Jordan and his supporting cast seemed ready to fold at several points against both the New York Knicks, in the second round of the playoffs, and the Cleveland Cavaliers, in the Eastern Conference final. Was it a sudden loss of will, a succumbing to pressure or a combination of the two that had affected the Bulls?”

    Ira Winderman was a little more specific in the Sun-Sentinel in 1992:

    “For the Bulls, it has been that type of postseason. Just when there appear to be answers, there only are more questions. Just when leaders appear to emerge, players such as Jordan and Scottie Pippen disappear in crucial stages. Because of that, the Bulls find themselves tied 2-2 for their third consecutive best-of-seven series.”

    Jordan even admitted to SI writer Hank Hersch that finding motivation for just their 2nd ring was an issue:

    “A team like Portland still has that hunger. We have to come up with something to motivate us. It’s not nearly as easy as we thought it was going to be. We didn’t have anything to defend last year, so we were more aggressive. We should have the same kind of hunger this year, but we don’t.”

    Also, you know that famous 63 point game Jordan put up against Boston? The next game (3) he scored 19 points. It was an elimination game. He took 41 shots in game 2 – he took 18 shots in game 3. Where did he go? Shouldn’t he have been trying to “humiliate and embarrass any opponent that dared disrespect them”?

    There’s the myth of Jordan and the reality of Jordan. The reality of Jordan is that he also struggled with the perception of mysterious bouts of passivity.