I remain astonished that, through almost 11 NBA seasons, King James has made only one regular-season walk-off shot, at Golden State in 2009. This time in Oakland, LeBron should've driven on Andre Iguodala but once more chose to take the step-back 3.
Nothing but net.
LeBron shot that shot with such conviction -- such will-not-be-denied anger -- I couldn't criticize his shot selection on the next morning's show. Technically, it wasn't a buzzer-beater -- .1 of a second remained. But on air, I gave it to him.
The following game in Dallas -- back at the scene of his Finals "crime" -- LeBron said the Mavs still trash-talked him in the fourth quarter, just as they did in 2011, telling him he couldn't shoot. Can you imagine MJ ever being told he couldn't shoot in the fourth quarter?
The Mavs were up 3 with 7:47 left. LeBron responded to the trash talk by trashing the Mavs. He went MJ. He scored eight straight. Game over. He wound up with 42 points on 16-of-23.
Next came the rematch with Durant in Oklahoma City. It was over in about five minutes. Angry LeBron scored the Heat's first 12 points while KD could manage only two turnovers.
LeBron's nose was broken in the fourth quarter, forcing him to miss a game, then wear a mask. But did that slow his onslaught? Nope.
Monday night, without Wade, LeBron James scored 61 against Charlotte's fifth-ranked defense, thanks mostly to making his first eight 3s. It felt like the Masked Man had caught and passed the "Runaway MVP."
Maybe LeBron thought so, too. Monday night at Houston, he didn't play angry. He mostly played tired.
Will Durant continue to infuriate and inspire LeBron over the final 20-odd games? Or has LeBron learned how to push his own MJ button? I hope so. The man has been a joy to watch the past month.
Yes, I just wrote that.