James’ business empire and surroundings were being run by friends. Would he like to come work for a family?
Now look at what is happening on the court all around this majestic talent who has mastered this game. Aging Dwyane Wade, one of James’ best friends in the world, has stepped aside into a complementary role so that this city and this team can belong to James. All over the roster, shooters have taken discounts to play by James’ side, as did Udonis Haslem, who is in charge of enforcement on this family and you can be sure will be felt in this series soon enough. Shut The Bleep Up was a message from on high in the organization’s voice, to anyone listening, that everyone surrounding James in Miami has his back, today and tomorrow and beyond his present contract, and that this family business is growing like love. Reporters covering practice that day say James couldn’t stop smiling as he read stories about Riley’s comments on Twitter while stretching.
“Awesome,” James would call Riley’s words later.
So now here we are today, a broken and valiant and instigating Chicago team doing whatever it can to gain an advantage. Fouling. Pushing. Getting ejected. As Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers argued on the court the other day, Joakim Noah clapped and screamed in their face, encouraging them to keep yelling at each other. Once upon a time, when he was in Cleveland, when he was less serious, James might get distracted by this kind of nonsense. Heck, he once walked right off the free-throw line between shots to confront Noah, who was on the bench and taunting James for dancing too much. But he stood right beside Bosh, Chalmers and Noah during an emotional Game 3, right next to them, and ignored all that empty noise as if he were bored.
You’ve noticed how stoic and composed he is, right? You’ve noticed him pulling hot-headed Chris Andersen out of a fray? James knows that this is the only way Chicago can win, by making Miami do stupid and emotional things. So he gets pushed down, and gets called a flopper by Chicago’s mob boss, and all he does is get up without complaint or anger and explain after the game that he has too many teammates counting on him to retaliate over silliness. Too much family, you might say.
The biggest, baddest warrior in this particular jungle fears nothing now that he has finally taken off that blindfold.
He is emboldened because he sees two things so very clearly as he heads out into the fight:
All that stretches out before him.
And all that is at his back.