Say what you will about LeBron James, but everything that happened after Game 5 of the Celtics series showed the world that he really does care about winning. Everybody says they would have saved the kneeling, crying, and embracing for something truly worth celebrating, but don't sit there and tell me you don't celebrate the little things in life. Think of the last time you got an interview for a job you really wanted. I'll bet my life that you at least displayed The Face to celebrate the news, but you didn't actually get the job at the point, did you? You got an interview, one step further along the line to achieving your ultimate goal of gaining employment. You didn't win the NBA Finals, you beat the Celtics in a preliminary playoff round. But it felt good didn't it? Stop picking the guy apart when he moved one step further along his ultimate goal.
Back to the matter at hand, there will be added fuel to the fire in this series. Across the court, LeBron will witness the anti-LeBron in Derrick Rose. Rose is everything that LeBron is not. He stayed home and became part of a real team. Fans and sportswriters alike gush over the guy. They speak of his humility, his grace, and drool over the fact that he "leads by example." When the Bulls lose, people blame Boozer for being soft, Thibodeau for playing bench players too much, or Ronnie Brewer and Keith Bogans for being Ronnie Brewer and Keith Bogans.
On the other hand, LeBron left Ohio and will never be welcomed back. He teamed up with his buddies as part of a plan that was conceived three years ago. Unlike Rose, he didn't have faith in the Cavaliers to build a contender around him (albeit, rightly so). And this season, fans and sportswriters alike despise LeBron. They speak of his cowardice, his arrogance, and snicker privately that his headband hides his receding hairline. When the Heat lose, it's not because of Wade, Bosh, or Spoelstra: it's always LeBron's fault.
Rose's Hero will push LeBron's Villain to new heights. Maybe LeBron doesn't care about having more titles than D-Wade, but that won't stop him from getting what he wants. He will rise to the occasion because he doesn't have any other choice. I hate LeBron and everything he stands for, but by the end of this series, I'll be wishing that I liked him. He's that good.
Heat in SIX