There is still so much infernal noise all around LeBron James. Sirens. Howling. Nonsense. Tony Parker makes one lucky shot, one-tenth of a second the difference between stumbling fool and Game 1 hero, and this is supposed to mean something outside of randomness.
This coach is dumb, and that player is done, and blah, blah, blah, sirens-howling-nonsense, rinse and repeat after the next game, results pending. The instant overreaction is so loud and so knee-jerk and so emotional, the Heat a microcosm for too much of what passes for sports analysis these days, and youll find James at the very center of all this looking like a Buddhist basketball monk trying to do his daily prayers as the fire alarms wail and the roof sprinklers rain.
Confidence and conviction in other words, his faith and his religion are not going to be shaken by aberrant, outlier bounces that are like flies around an elephants tail. There is a certain noisy and national delight when the Heat looks like it is in trouble, the howling growing larger and the perspective growing smaller, but have you noticed how perfectly serene James is after the losses? Not down. Tranquil. Soothing, really. He isnt acting or faking in the name of leadership. This is him now.
He talks about perspective, and how it is just basketball, this as fans fear and critics pounce/party, and the entire environment around him is polluted with the very opposite of the purity he is preaching, the Buddhist basketball monk mmmmmmeditating at news conferences in serenitys search as those alarms wail and sprinklers rain.
It is like he knows or understands something the rest of us dont, and he knows and understands it so surely and deeply that he isnt going to be shaken by our sky-is-falling questioning. The sky probably isnt going to fall, you know? This is how confidence talks, and it has been amazing to see his grow over just the past few years, but it isnt quite as simple as the validation that comes with a king being crowned, either.
You remember what this guy was doing as feces rained down upon him before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals last year, blueprint on the brink? He sat in the locker room reading a book, then produced a game that will echo through the ages, one of the best weve ever seen at the most preposterous and pressurized time.
People forget this now, sports mythologizing changing historical facts with selective and convenient amnesia, but Michael Jordan was doubted with every springing step he took, from selfish ball-hog who didnt know how to win the big one to all the Patrick Ewings, Reggie Millers, Charles Barkleys, Clyde Drexlers, Gary Paytons and Karl Malones who came to this time to conquer.
James knows, man. He knows. Weve known for years that hes the best basketball player in the world, but now he knows it, too, and he carries that with him as he tries to climb the escalating mountain of stakes, not as a weight but as a weapon. And that weapon, sculpted and sharpened over so many years amid this noise, is about as immune to the noise, and doubt, as any carried by humans can be. You are good, Spurs, but I am not merely better; no, I am the very best.
One bad bounce or one bad game or one-tenth of a second isnt going to change his perspective on this because his perspective on this is not emotional. It is known, as close as something subjective can ever come to being fact. So it wasnt emotional when he won Game 1 against the Pacers with 2.2 seconds left, and it wont be emotional now as the fans leave his arena crushed at the end of Game 1 against the Spurs. One game. One game. Miami has won more one games in the playoffs the past three years than any other team in the sport and by a lot (as TrueHoops Henry Abbott points out, Miami has won 42; nobody else has won even 28 over that span).