On Thursday night, LeBron James performed magnificently. He had 45 points (30 by halftime, and ended up 19-26 from the field), 15 boards, and 5 assists. The last player to do this in a playoff game was Wilt Chamberlain in 1964. He was making difficult fall-away jumpers look easy. While this performance was amazing and historic and the Heat did tie the series, the Heat will not win a championship if they are playing this type of “hero ball.”
Isolation play will not get a ring. This is why teams with Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony on them never won a championship. They are black holes who have only one goal while on the court: score the basketball themselves. This is not to say LeBron is a black hole; he did have 5 assists and he averages around 7 per season. But a team wins a ring, not a player that takes it all on himself and shows no trust in his teammates.
The Thunder are playing very well right now, but more importantly, they play as a team. True, at times they look young and inexperienced; that’s because they are. At times Russell Westbrook plays like he’s playing rugby, not basketball. He makes many unadvised plays that leave the spectator wondering, “What is he doing?” But they have youth. They have a good coach. They have leadership. They have the best home arena environment in the NBA. And they are a team.