Why LeBron James’ 2012 ECF Game 6 performance against the Boston Celtics changed the future of the NBA
Many who have covered LeBron James since high school can all agree that Game 6 against the Boston Celtics was the most dominant game, from start to finish, that LeBron James has ever had, finishing with 45 points, 15 rebounds, and five assists. Right from the opening tip, you could tell LeBron had a chip on his shoulder. He looked angry; he wasn’t smiling or cracking jokes in the pre-game warmups like we often see him do. He meant business, telling everyone in Boston, hide yo kids, hide yo wife, cause I’m bringing all of my talents for this game.
Not only was this performance dominant, but it changed the entire NBA for years to come. A few years ago, and some idiots will still say this, “LeBron isn’t clutch, LeBron is a choker, he can’t win.” At times, it looked like that was true, 2011 NBA Finals for example, Game 5 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Semi Finals against the Celtics was another. That was the last home game in Cleveland Cavaliers for LeBron, and he went out on a very low note, basically disappearing from that game. The Cavaliers went on to lose Game 6 of that series, forcing LeBron to take his talents to South Beach.
For LeBron James, the 2011 NBA Finals was the perfect example of being at rock bottom; we all remember his eight-point game in Game 4 of that series. He couldn’t score in the fourth quarter, which led to all the LeBron you got change for a dollar jokes. It didn’t look like he could score if he was the only one on the court for a while.
But let’s say LeBron didn’t show up in Game 6 against the Celtics, lets say he had another eight-point game, or something in that range. The “LeBron is not clutch” talk heats up even more, making it two years in Miami without an NBA championship, making “The Decision” look like it was the wrong one. It might have also made teams hesitant of adding multiple superstars to their team, making them wonder, can it work?
Not only does it affect LeBron, but it gets Head Coach Erik Spoelstra fired, some wanted him fired after a 9-8 start to the 2011 season. Then after two failed seasons, Pat Riley has to think about trading Chris Bosh, which is still a rumor to this day.
With the Heat being eliminated then, it would advance the Boston Celtics to the NBA Finals to face the Oklahoma City Thunder. We saw how dominant the Thunder were with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. I would be likely they would’ve beaten the Celtics in the Finals, giving Kevin Durant a ring before LeBron. Now Kevin Durant is the best player in the NBA, he’s still very young, and he’s got potential to be the next Michael Jordan, instead of LeBron. James Harden might still be a part of the Thunder, basically undoing Dwight Howard’s decision to leave the Los Angeles Lakers.
What if the Celtics beat the Thunder in the Finals? The Thunder would be the same as they are today, but the Celtics might be different. Ray Allen probably would’ve stayed with the Celtics, which means he wouldn’t have been a part of the Miami Heat. Without him, that clutch shot in Game 6 vs. the San Antonio Spurs would’ve never happened, the Heat might not of even made the Finals, leaving LeBron James ringless.
Also, it might’ve made the Celtics more hesitant to trade Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and coach Doc Rivers. Which would’ve kept Brad Stevens at Butler.
So not only did LeBron’s Game 6 performance affect him, but the rest of the NBA. It would’ve kept him ringless, getting Erik Spoelstra fired, Chris Bosh traded, Kevin Durant a ring and making LeBron the laughing stock of the NBA. Not one, not two, not three, but 0 rings for the Miami Heat Big 3. We wouldn’t be having the MJ/LeBron debates we are having today, but instead, we might be having the MJ/Durant arguments.
Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals should not only go down as one of LeBron James’ best moments, but as one of the most important games in NBA history.