Why is it that we never learn? We used to do it with the Spurs, calling them "old and tired" whenever they finished with less than the # 2 spot in the West. Doubting that they'd be able to win a championship that particular year.
Well, at least we've moved on from that absurd notion. Now, despite the Spurs finishing # 4 in the West, despite being down in a 0-2 hole, despite them actually aging and tiring, we are smart enough never to count them out. Never ever.
I think it's about time we treat LeBron with that kind of respect.
For seasons now, we have been doubting LeBron's (and the Cavs') abilities to get it done in the postseason. We cite far too many reasons, and while most are valid or even clearly evident, we keep forgetting one thing.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James.
I started to notice this last season. Everybody was pretty disappointed with him during the regular season. Cleveland's record (and LeBron's stats) somehow gave off the vibe that their superstar is coasting. People got on him for obviously not giving his 110% night-in and night-out. Faulting him for looking at the bigger picture (fresher legs come the Playoffs) and declaring that his team would not even get past the 1st round.
And how did he respond? He basically slayed the Eastern Conference Gods (the Pistons) single-handedly, bringing the Cavaliers to their first-ever Finals appearance since never and showing the world that he will dominate when necessary.
He showed his mortality against the Spurs, but hell, even the Spurs couldn't win the championship every year.
I thought that by this season, we (including me) would have learned something.
But no. People believed that the Wizards could beat the Cavs. People thought the Hawks stood a much better chance against the Celtics, and that Cleveland would never even get to sniff the possibility of beating Boston. Yet here we are, four games in the Eastern Semis later, and the series is tied 2-2. With the momentum clearly now in Cleveland's favor.
Once again, LeBron is dismissing the notion that they have gotten worse.
I don't mean for this piece to sound like a declaration that Cleveland will win the title. Far from it, in fact.
What I mean, however, is for us to start viewing LeBron James (and the Cavs) in the same light as the San Antonio Spurs. That no matter what their regular season's record is, no matter who the players are on the roster, no matter how formidable their foe is, we should never, EVER count the Cavaliers out of any game. Ever again.
As long as they have King James... As long as they have The Great Equalizer... As long as LeBron plays (he can beat you without scoring)... They can beat any team. Any team. Just ask the Pistons. Then maybe we'll need to ask the Celtics later on.