If you’re not watching LeBron James as he puts on a monstrous playoff run, you’re missing greatness in action. In his fifteenth season, with eight playoff games so far, he’s averaging 33 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists while also chipping 1.4 steals and a block. That’s incredible in a way that might be impossible to put into any historical context.
On Tuesday, Bill Simmons had Brian Windhorst of ESPN on his podcast to discuss LeBron’s greatness, while also reviewing his lengthy history. At around the 30 minute mark, Simmons and Windhorst make a point to visit his low point, which came against our Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 Finals. Windhorst specifically brought up the behavior of James during the series, citing the video of Dwyane Wade and LeBron mocking Dirk’s illness. Windhorst had this to say:
”Remember he and Dwyane were making fun of Dirk, saying he wasn’t sick... there are certain guys you can make fun of, you want to make fun of Lance Stephenson, no one’s going to stop you. Dirk Nowitzki is beyond reproach. Dirk was up there doing an interview after the game, he was so cold he was basically wearing a parka. It was June in Dallas and Dirk was shivering...”
It’s nice to hear this honest assessment of LeBron’s history (and the great hat tip to Dirk) by one of the pre-eminent LeBron chroniclers in the national media.
The above incident, which took place after Game 5 as the Heat were down 3-2, is widely seen as a low point for LeBron. He’s obviously since recovered to continue a career as one of the most important players in NBA history.
The hype that surrounded those Miami Heat teams and the subsequent rise of the Golden State Warriors can make the 2011 Mavericks title feel like a footnote. The series is often discussed in light of LeBron’s failure rather than Dirk’s triumph. Yet the further removed from the championship we get, the more impressive the championship becomes. Whether you like LeBron or not, it’s impossible to deny his impact on and importance to NBA history.
Dirk and the 2011 Mavericks defeated Lebron. Windhorst is right: Dirk is above reproach.
The entire podcast is below and really is worth your time: