Lebron Explodes for Epic Performance

Lebron James

Sports Saturday

What an amazing NBA series we are seeing between the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers! Last week I compared it to a Lord of the Rings scenario but now I’m thinking it’s the Odyssey. A King returns to reclaim his throne and finds pretenders in his way.

It takes an epic to do justice to the final obstacle facing Odysseus, which is 108 young stud warriors. Likewise, the return of King James looks like an increasingly difficult uphill battle. The Heat barely beat Indiana in the first game and lost in games two and four. Their fabled depth appears suspect as two of their “big three,” Wade and Bosh, are hobbled with injuries. Their legendary but aging shooter Ray Allen can’t buy a three-point basket, nor can his teammate Shane Battier.

In the first half of the fifth game, their mediocre play looked to continue. Indiana’s three big men were dominating and took a four-point lead into the second half. If they hadn’t missed three easy lay-ups early in the game, they would have been up by double digits. With Wade a non-factor, it wasn’t clear what the Heat could do.

Luckily for them, they still had Odysseus. James put the team on his back and refused to lose, exploding for most of his team’s 30 points (to Indiana’s 13) in the third quarter. Here’s how Yahoo sports writer Dan Devine describes James’s memorable scoring explosion in the third quarter:

The Heat scored 30 points in the third quarter. James directly created 25 of them — scoring 16 of his own on 7 for 10 shooting and assisting on nine more with four dimes (three to Haslem, whose baseline jumper was huge in the third, and one on a 3-pointer by Mario Chalmers). He was surgical operating out of the high post, especially with Haslem making Hibbert pay for shading toward the lane, both with midrange jumpers and once, surprisingly and very loudly, off the dribble.

The effect on Indiana was absolutely demoralizing. Devine’s account continues:

Thirteen points on 3 for 14 shooting, just one assist against five turnovers that led to nine Miami points, just two points in the paint and zero second-chance points (nullifying one of the Pacers’ major advantages in this series). A four-point halftime lead turned into a 13-point deficit entering the fourth quarter, and a chance to take another game on the road turned into a win-or-go-home Game 6 on Saturday … all, or at least largely, because of No. 6 in the home whites.

The third quarter reminds me of the point in Odysseus’s battle when the suitors begin to doubt and panic sets in. Such panic, observed by warriors on the battlefield, is so powerful that the Greeks attributed it to supernatural agency. As Homer describes it, Athena raises her shield, the foe can no longer see straight, and the battle turns to slaughter. Something similar happened to Indiana:

At this moment that unmanning thundercloud,
the Aegis, Athena’s shield,
took form aloft in the great hall.

                                    And the suitors mad with fear
at her great sight stampeded like stung cattle by the river
when the dread shimmering gadfly strikes in summer,
in the flowering season, in the long-drawn days.
After them the attackers wheeled, as terrible as falcons
from eyries in the mountains veering over and diving down
with talons wide unsheathed on flights of birds
who cower down the sky in chutes and bursts along the valley–
but the pouncing falcons grip their prey, no frantic wing avails,
and farmers love to watch those beaked hunters.
So these now fell upon the suitors in that hall,
turning, turning to strike, and strike again . . .

(Robert Fitzgerald translation)

King James is set to reclaim his throne. Indiana will be hard-pressed to stop him.

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