How's that for being clutch? What LeBron James did on Thursday night was a performance for the ages. It wasn't even the stat line that was most impressive, even though 45 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists is pretty spectacular. What really stood out was his attitude. James would not be denied.
All the great ones have had it. Some call it a zone, but it's really more of a mind set. It's like the world shuts off and they're the only ones in the building. It sure seemed that way in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Trust me, I was one of the 18,000-plus people inside the TD Garden, but the only person really there was LeBron. It was his show. He was the lead act and supporting characters all wrapped up into one. The fans in Boston were partly angry to see a hated figure like James take control, but mostly they were just in awe. I know I was.
I've seen great performances first hand before. Dwyane Wade's 4th quarter of Game 3 of the 2006 NBA Finals was pretty memorable, and James himself was dominant in closing out the Bulls last season. But, this had a different feel to it.
Back to that stat line. The only player in NBA playoff history to ever have a game like LeBron's was Wilt Chamberlain back in 1964. That's right. Only the great Chamberlain can match what James did on Thursday night.
For one night, LeBron not only silenced his critics, but he silenced all the talk of a Heat breakup and a coach being fired. Erik Spoesltra didn't all of a sudden become a better coach in Game 6. He just let LeBron do his thing and got out of the way.
Spoelstra likes to call all the outside talk about the Heat's demise as "noise." Well, the only noise we could hear Thursday was LeBron stomping through the Celtics. In the process, he crushed any talk that Miami is done. They are far from done, and they have James to thank for that.
We were all witnesses. On to Game 7.