The Story of LeBron's Game 6
It is understandable why so much of the sports universe is driven by stories. They give us neat, relatable packages through which we can get to know people most of us will never meet. A good story invokes emotion. A good story entertains, it makes us chuckle, it makes us nervous, it makes us shout and feel like we need to take a walk. Stories make us feel something because they give us something we can all understand when so much of what happens on a court or field is complete chaos.
Stories are our history, and they always will be.
Problem is, when were dealing with a decade or more of information about an athlete, it becomes difficult to condense hundreds and thousands of stories into something less than encyclopedic. When there is so much to express, something has to hit the cutting room floor. Were so used to two-hour movies, to books we can pick up and read in a week and hour-long television shows that we strive to make everything as easy to digest.
With non-fiction, with the lives of real people, there are no authors to decide what is important or not. When LeBron James reads The Hunger Games series, every single detail about Katniss Everdeen goes through a filter designed to make for a better, more captivating character. But James isn't Katniss. He's not the creation of another person's imagination. There is no one person deciding what to take out and what to leave in with James. He has thousands of people trying to tell his story, everyone making their own edits with their own ideas of what is or is not important.
Its all important. Twenty years from now, when youre watching a documentary about LeBron James, it will not tell the complete LeBron James story any more than a World War II documentary on The History Channel tells the complete story of the war. A story is told, but a full history is not given.
In scoring a remarkably efficient 45 points on 26 shots, on the road in Boston, to keep the Miami HEAT alive and headed toward a Game 7, James not only reminded all of us that his story is far from complete, but that even writing a synopsis at this point is a fools errand.
And in the process, he gave us a best-seller, but one with very finite end-points. James was nothing short of incredible Thursday night, but it defines him no more than any other success or failure.
While many will tell of the individual success, the immediate result was that of a team victory, one that James did not, and could not have, achieved on his own.
He needed the rest of his teammates to capitalize on open shots, going 5-of-12 from the three-point line. He needed Dwyane Wade to shoulder some of the offensive load in the second half and provide 11 points. He needed Chris Bosh to come off the bench and change the game with his defense, with his length and mobility preventing Rajon Rondo from earning the easy at the rim, keeping Kevin Garnett from receiving catches over the top of the defense and sparking a dramatic shift in awareness for the HEATs transition defense.
Without those things, and a little luck in hitting a season-high number of mid-range jumpers, tonights ending is very different. Without those things, Game 7 will be very different, regardless of his individual performance. But thats a story for another day.
Tonight, its simply about perspective. Not about how many of his shot will be considered good opportunities on tape or whether James performance is sustainable. It isnt, and it doesnt have to be. Analysis can wait for a few hours.
Tonight, it can be about the story. Not the one where James proved anything or offered up an absolute truth about who he is. In dominating the Boston Celtics in the most dire of situations, he simply reminded us all that we dont have all of the answers. We dont author a mans career. We dont get to choose when he is or isnt what we do or do not want him to be.
Years later, we can tell the story of Game 6 in Boston. It will be quick and easy to digest, to the point where a few key words will tell a person all they need to know. It will be the ____ Game.
For now, we curate. We take what LeBron James has given us, add it to the bottom of the papyrus scroll, dip the feather in the ink and wait to see whats next.