NBA / Jun 13, 2011 / 4:00 pm

LeBron James: “I’ve Got Dirk”

LeBron James

LeBron James (photo. David Alvarez)

LeBron is the best player in the world. And LeBron is a killer. That’s why something isn’t adding up.

I love the little details of the game of basketball. Things like the fact that in the NBA the home team’s captain or best shooter picks the game ball before introductions. Last night, in the final moments of the Mavs’ clinching game, something happened that wasn’t discussed on the TV broadcast but I found really strange:

With about 90 seconds left in Game 6, the Heat trailing the Mavs by 10, and the series basically over, you could read LeBron’s lips seemingly yelling “I’ve got Dirk!” to his teammates. LeBron then guarded Dirk for the next two meaningless possessions.

Why then? Why did LeBron take it upon himself to check Dirk when the series was already over? Isn’t that something he should have done four games earlier?

In every single high school, pick-up run or rec league game I’ve ever played in – when someone on the opposing team is killing, someone (usually the best player) will step up and emphatically say “Let’s switch” or “I’ve got him.” It’s a matter of pride and being a competitor. And no, I don’t care if Erik Spoelstra signed off on it. It doesn’t matter.

Back in a February game, Rajon Rondo decided to guard LeBron – without discussing it with Doc Rivers first. Rondo pestered the hell out of LeBron and caused real problems for him.

Again, I’ll say I believe LeBron is the best player in the world. And we’ve seen that he can enter beast mode, strap on the backpack and become a killer. But where was that in this series? We all saw it. He had moments – several of them – where we expected him to get angry, get that look in his eyes, go bananas and take over. But it didn’t happen. As a lover of the game, I wanted it to happen. LeBron is capable of doing things no one else can, and when he goes into beast mode it’s a beautiful thing.

I found his post-game comments equally curious:

“At the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail – at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today … They have the same personal problems they had today … They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they have to get back to the real world at some point.”

Huh? That’s what’s on his mind right now? LeBron’s postgame comments should have focused on three messages, period:

1. We lost to a great team.
2. I should have done more.
3. I’m going to remember this feeling and use it as motivation.

That’s what superstars are supposed to say and do.

I woke up to texts from friends and colleagues saying LeBron looked scared and nervous in the series against the Mavs. I’m not buying it. I don’t think LeBron gets scared or nervous. Not even close. But I will say something didn’t look right this series. He’s got WAY more fight in him than he showed.

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  • Brazzle

    That seemed like a dickish comment too, sayin we gotta wake up to the life we’ve always had. Sorry we can’t all be millionaires who wake up in Miami. Things like this is part of the reason people hate lebron. Great player, but he’s always gonna be a douche.

  • ugly_fish

    Lebron has officially turned HEEL.

  • LakeShow84

    Its the same thing when he was with Cleveland and he would wait until the last 2 minutes to D up Kobe or another star player..

    Hes full of shit.. if you the man you DO THAT SHIT from beginning to finish.. make ur imprint..

    Like i said..

    Hes full of shit.. that game was decided and they needed his defensive “heroics” all series long.. ESPECIALLY with rusty and nail in the foot Haslem showing more heart chasing Dirk around..

  • TJ 2

    yeah i posted on smack one day that its like he and his people decided one day that it looked like Dwade was going to get MVP had they won, so he just decided to give up to show how much they needed him! because he surely has shown he can take over games and win games, it looked very weird to see him play so bad all of a sudden, he was very aggressive in games 2 and 3 and all of a sudden, he just falls off!

  • http://dime David

    He is a choker and will always be a choker!!1 Always.

  • Ken Cosey

    As I mentioned previously on your Facebook feed, LeBron is not a killer. This series proved it. It doesn’t matter what you do against the Wizards or the T-wolves. LeBron did not show up in the Finals. And because he didn’t, the Mavs are world champs. Period.

  • jdizzle

    I guess that rumor about Rashard Lewis smashing his baby moms really got to him…

  • feature

    “…And LeBron is a killer…”

    Stopped reading right there. LeBron isn’t a killer, its just not in him. Can’t believe that them LBJ nuthuggers still defending him after this showing. Its kind of pathetic.

    P.S. I don’t think anyone in the league is afraid of LBJ anymore, players on da Mavs was clowin’ him all series long. And there rumors about his girl and Rashard Lewis…Damn really I feel bad for him, but again, not a killer.

  • Conoro

    Mr. Gotthelf, do you, as a writer and a thinker, continue to write that James is the best player in the world simply to convince yourself that he is? I understand that you’ve probably been telling yourself this for years, but it does go past a pathetic threshold at a certain point.

    LeBron is linear. He drives in straight, true lines, and cannot do anything else. When his line drives are removed, he is helpless.

    Bryant and Wade are both better than James. I know you won’t repeatedly type that to convince yourself of it, but you don’t need to. You should only have to read and acknowledge it once.

    I only say this because it’s gotten pathetic reading various basketball sites’ “analyses” of James, when the entirety of their articles are based upon subjectivity.

  • lemon drop

    Lebron was asked a question and I agree. It is a game and while we put all of our efforts into analyzing and placing blame – the finals are over and life goes on. WHy should LeBron care what you think? He doesn’t have to. Michael Jordan did not care much either. It is about using the talent given to the best of your ability. Thousands, millions of you run to the store to purchase sneakers, clothes etc. all in the name of hero worship and that is what this capitalism affords us. Sports as well as other things are a distraction. LeBron is not wrong. He is speaking his mind. He did not say anything about being rich and go back to your lives. He said what was true – he is going back to enjoy his family and live as he wants. The world doesn’t look any better that he lost. The same millions are starving, the same unemployment, etc exist. I wonder what difference would be made if our fanatism and enwegies were focused on something meaningful. LBJ – you are right. My problems are the same as the were yesterday. I still have bills to pay etc. Thankfully, I am well off enough to be able to enjoy my life and you should be entitled to do the same.

  • nuggnuttz

    yesterday i asked lebron if he had change for a dollar and he said he didnt have four quarters

  • Trey bing bay

    I think Lebron is afraid of his reputation being damaged. If he went hard and couldn’t get it done then nobody is going to consider him great. At least without trying, we still think he can do it, without trying he still believes he can do it.

    His reputation is shot right now anyway but at least we’re still sitting here saying “yeah, he’s still a beast, he’s still going to win someday”

    If he went into ‘killer mode’ – which we all know he can and still didn’t win, well then he may as well hang his boots up.

  • http://www.lakernation.com smoove chips

    man,twitterverse got jokes

    Lebron can’t even have wheaties no mo..coz that’s the ‘Breakfast of champions”.

    tomorrow is lebron james day..everybody gets to leave work 12 minutes early.

    these were my favorite two. i’ve been laughing my ass off since i sobered up.As a basketball fan i wish lebron would grow the fuck up around the media(same goes for chris brown)and get a friggin post game.Is that too much to ask ? never mind, your handlers think you are perfect just as you are.For a guy that has the potential to create Dirk type mismatches..quite a waste.

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    I think that LeBron is a top 3 basketball player in the world.

    I also think that if his coach had given him a different assignment all game long, he deserves some credit for trying his best (take that as you will) to accomplish that assignment. If he had “gone rogue” earlier in the game/series, he’d be showing up his coach and would be labeled an uncoachable punk.

    No story here, for me.

  • http://dimemag.com JoshG

    @ Conoro

    I do continue to believe that LeBron’s best is better than anyone else’s best right now. But we didn’t see his best this series. That’s what I was trying to convey…And I do continue to believe that Kobe has the strongest mental game and killer instinct of anyone in the league.

  • Notorious

    Wow, quite the interesting take on the same games I thought I just watched. Maybe the author’s name should be “Josh GetHelp”, cause this cat is in serious need of an eye check and some reading up on what “killer” means. LBJ may be the most athletic, may be the most talented, but he isnt the best player in the NBA… not by a long shot.

  • sh!tfaced

    fuck lebron. that dumbass statement said it all. he thinks he’s better than the rest of the world. but he’s a loser and he’ll always be a loser.

    fuck him. he deserves everything that is happening to him. losing. delonte banging his mom. i wish rashard did bang his girl. he fuckin’ deserves it.

  • chasepaper

    Man, Lebron James is going to catch alot of flak for this year’s Finals. Sorry, Lebron thats just how it is. Especially since the fans have seen Lebron go “beast” mode in a game. And not to do that in the Finals is crazy. Especially after the Big 3 proclaimed championships for years to come. Dont get me wrong, LBJ is top ten player in the NBA. But damn, everybody figured out this year that u are NOT an assassin like MJ or Kobe.


    He is a soft prima donna, he is NOT a killer… not at all. He is a spoilt child who has always had it his own way and hasn’t had to develop a set of balls.

    It’s like he doesn’t learn from anything wrong that he does, you know he’ll be sat at home blaming all his haters for this bad press he’s getting… I don’t hate Lebron, I don’t want to hate Lebron… it just seems like Lebron wants me to hate him.

    Also Rashard Lewis makes $20 million a year and bangs Lebron’s GF despite being a very average NBA player at this point in his career… dude is a straight up baller… no lie.

  • MAVS2011

    Those 3 comments Dwyane Wade said it. He is the leader of Miami not Lebron. Woooo Dallas congrats

  • Blk Caesar

    @shitfaced.. No disrespect but you really are taking this lebron thing a little too personal man.. Wishing somebody’s mom and girl got f*cked?? Who says crap like that.. Its not that serious man. I really hope you put this much effort into issues that really matter also.. Lebron definitely did not perform the way many people thought he should and he really needs to work on other parts of his game(post game and moving without the ball). That’s one of the things that most people don’t talk about with MJ. I watched Jordan alot in person and on TV and he was so skilled at getting open. Forget his athletic gifts for a second . Just the mere fact of how easy it was for him to find openings in the defense. It was amazing. Will Lebron ever get to that point? Who knows..However, that’s the beauty of basketball watching to see if a player develops over the years.. Which is what made watching Dirk this post sseason so nice. You clearly saw how much he learned from losing and it all came together in his 13th season.. Remember he was drafted back in 1998.. Some players learn quicker than others and some never get it.. We’ll just have to wait and see with Lebron.

  • SWAT

    man the cats tht hate lebron just to hate him really crack me up. i persoanlly love his post game comment-take tht dan gilbert and eat shit. lol thts what he is basically saying. but real talk i hv never seen so many people hate the guy just cause. it’s a bit crazy and it just proves how fickle a fanbase can realy be.

  • sh!tfaced

    @ Blk Caesar

    i’m from cleveland. that’s why.

    hahaha nah… yer right, that was a bit too much

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    I gave him some credit this morning in the Smack comments for his postgame. The way the question was phrased, and I forget exactly how that was, I would’ve thought less of him if he’d answered any other way.

    Seriously, if someone said to you, “There’s a group of people that hates you and wants you to fail,” what’s your response? Essentially, you’d probably say, “That’s weird as hell and I hope they get help.” And that’s pretty much what LeBron said.

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    Oh and sh!tfaced, that takes a lot of balls, admitting that you’re from Cleveland. Big ups haha

  • Conoro

    Mr. G, that’s what I was trying to say. LeBron is the best when there is linearity. As soon as a team adjusts defensively, his inability to adapt like Kobe and Wade is exposed and is what will forever prevent him from being the best.

  • e

    lol you people still dont realize it was set up lol people got paid off big time thanks again stern

  • SWAT

    @ post #27-ur a doofus if u really think tht. stern hates mark cuban-and as dime has stated before there were so many more profitable matchups than these 2 teams. gtfoh with tht conspiracy ish.

  • LakeShow84

    If they wanted MIA to win yesterday they wouldnt have given Dirk 2 quick fouls in the 1st quarter..

    They TRIED to stretch it but officials cant make the ball go out.. Dallas bombed them..

    So THIS is what Lebron fans are turning to????

    Now its a conspiracy saying Lebron LET the Mavs win??? Some people are hopeless and im astonished lmao

  • LakeShow84

    My bad if they wanted DALLAS to win they WOULDNT have given Dirk 2 quick fouls..

  • http://dIMEMAG.COM Nrod23






  • LakeShow84

    OK Thanks NRod

    Back to reality lol

    Also MIA shot WAY MORE FT’s than Dallas in game 6..

  • the truth

    I’ve defended lebron on here for a while. He looked great in the 4th quarter against the bulls and celtics because he actually attacked and didn’t look scared to shoot the ball. I don’t know if the pressure got to him, or he was throwin the games or what the fuck, but something was definitely up. Hard to defend a guy who has more athletic ability than probably any player ever and just didn’t try to score in the 4th quarter basically all series. In fact, I wonder just how many times he penetrated all series? If someone could find that stat it’d be awesome to see.

  • http://s x


  • silkysmoke

    Good writing, Mr. Gotthelf. I’m sorry to admit that I don’t remember reading any of your other articles, so I don’t know your history of defending Lebron (if there truly is one).

    Now, I won’t lie. I was cheering against Miami. I’m not a Chicago fan. I’m not a Mavs fan. But I cheered against Miami all the way.

    I don’t get the premise of your article. You close your writing with:

    “But I will say something didn’t look right this series. He’s got WAY more fight in him than he showed.”

    Again I apologize as I haven’t followed too much of the off-the-court subplots of this series. What exactly are you implying happened to Lebron??? Is it that rumor regarding Rashard Lewis? Or are you agreeing that he threw the game/series??? I don’t get your point.

    I didn’t know about his “I got Dirk” command late in the game. But now that you say it, I recall seeing Lebron mouth something after hitting that shot from the top of the key as he was running back on D. To me, Lebron doing this is entirely consistent with the way he plays the game and when he chooses to step up.

    In my opinion, you can see a lot of who a player really is when the game is on the line…when you NEED a play. We saw how Mike did it. We see how Kobe does it. Even D-Wade…But Lebron never seems to do it. It doesn’t even matter if you fail. It’s HOW YOU PLAY in those situations that are so telling of a player’s personality–of a player’s heart. Time and time again, Lebron’s demeanor in these clutch situations show.

    He does get aggressive and hit big shots at times….But ever notice how it’s usually the “slam-the-door” point??? How he can step up and hit the big shot only when his team is in the lead???

    At 90 seconds left in the game, the arena started emptying. Facebook and Twitter pages were blowing up already talking about the game as if it were over. Because it was over. At that point, there was no pressure at all on Miami because for all intents and purposes, the Heat had already lost.

    In true Lebron fashion, with nothing on the line, this is when he yells, “I got Dirk!” This is when he steps up.

  • http://www.wtf.com Chicagorilla

    @Lebron can enter beast mode

    He doesn’t. He simply catches fire just like any other player. He couldn’t sustain it without the help of FTs and the whistle.

    Also I’d like to point out that…


    DWade and Chalmers were the ones checking Rose, with the help of doubles, triples, and trapping on pick n rolls.

    But people hyped it so much that he was shutting Rose down and making it seem like he was so tough defensively, when he really just played in spurts. really small spurts.

  • SoulChorea

    Man, all this anti-Lebron stuff really got me thinking today. I mean, all this SportsCenter coverage and people calling into radio stations spewing pure HATRED for this dude is waaaay too much. I think his game has flaws and he’s not the greatest like people have been saying, but c’mon…dude isn’t Satan the Devil or Tyler Perry, he’s a young dude just doing his thing. This is too much for anyone to handle, and if Lebron actually DID crack from all the pressure tonight and – heaven forbid – actually killed himself, ESPN and all those callers and hate-filled comments on internet blogs including THIS one wishing dude ill in his life would have blood on their hands. Think about that. Not everyone’s gonna have iron will and be the “Best Ever”, and today the entire country took this joint TOO FAR.

    Mark Twain once said “when you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to reform”. So now, disgusted by people’s foolishness today, I have to switch sides. I am no longer hating on Lebron, I’m actually hoping he develops as a player and becomes one of the greatest to ever play. I hope he gets a championship eventually, and is able to get the monkey off his back like Dirk just did. And I’m hoping I never become some rabid hate-spewing fanatic crazy sounding idiot like 80% of Sports Nation did during this postseason.

  • Vintakular

    I dont get this talk about Lebron throwing games. Seriously? You think a player of his caliber on that stage would purposely throw a game? Dude couldnt do it, not as an alpha dog, not with wade and bosh. Not to say he won’t do it eventually but seriously to think it was thrown? Cmon….

  • Blk Caesar

    @shitfaced.. Didn’t know you were from Cleveland.. Damn ok I see why you are taking this personal.. If I was from there and he bounced maybe I would feel the same way too… Hey at least ya’ll still have Mike Simon’s spot Lola downtown.. Good eats in there..

  • Chaos

    Imma put it out there, i am not a fan of either Dallas or Miami. Mostly I am a D-Wade fan so I wouldnt have been mad if they got the ring but the way that Dallas played it was hard to not cheer for them and they deserved it. they hit the tough shots, they played ecellent TEAM OFFense and DEFENSE and they executed the hell out the plays.

    but as far as the Lebron goes….his body language and facial expressions said it all. Lets face it, right now he is the most talented basketball player in the world…but he is unfortunately not the best. Being the best isnt just about physical attributes but the desire to be the best. It seems like he more so wants to be the most famous, most talked about, and most recognized player in the world….he never seemed like he had to really work or fight as much as other players. Kobe had to fight to get off the bench and be the man (eddie jones was the starter if i am not mistaken). D-Wade was not hyped at all coming out of Marquette until the tourney (watched him since high school, kid was special) and you can tell both worked on their games. D. Rose improved on aspects of his game every year. Dirk learned to toughen up and close out games. Lebron just seemed like he went on talent and his sheer physical domincance to win. and its gotten him this far but he displays an certain arrogance that says “i am supposed to win”, not “i am gonna win”. those comments were unnecessary to say out in the public eye because he has no one to blame on his poor performances but himself. when you watch a boxing match , the 12th round is called the championship round because if the fight is really close, the fighter who wants it more digs deep and fights for that last round with all they got. Lebron got to the 12th round and couldnt dig. D.Wade knew what it takes because he has been their before and he played possessed. sure he didnt always make the right play but he never stopped playing hard or stopped trying to win. Dirk and Terry and Kid and Marion and Chandler and JJ dug down even more, regardless of mental mistakes, regardless of off shooting ights or even qtrs, but they never stopped. Lebron needs to stop looking outward and look inward for that winning mentality. this is me lebron bashing because we ALL know how good he is….the problem is this only as good as he is willing to be

  • Silkk

    …that guy who wears # 6 and plays for that team in south Florida saying “i got Dirk” in the closing minutes of a already decided game is like a doc putting a band-aid on a person’s mortal wound after said person has flatlined….LMFAO!

  • Vintakular

    Your point about James not working hard and relying on sheer talent instantly made me think of Van Gundy’s comments about Tmac and how he just relied on that and worked out just enough but never really a gym rat. I Don’t think he’ll turn out like tmac but makes you wonder, 8 years and no post game…

  • NickBall

    That’s Right! I was for Dirk and The Mavs all the way….but, it’s Obvious that Some-Thing is “Wrong” with James…and I mean really wrong! Any team had better really think about paying this guy!

  • sh!tfaced

    @ dag & blk c

    nah, man. i was just playing. i’m not from there. hell no… lol

  • Krayzie

    As soon as LeBron started to guard Dirk, Dirk cut past him and caught a pass from Kidd and put in a lay up! LOL….and this guy made 1st team all defense?

  • Dyugs666

    There are rumours that the mafia threatened him. If that was true, it would explain his bizarre behaviour. What do you guys think?

  • AirKaris

    maybe we have seen the best of LeBron. why should we expect anything more?

  • egypt

    If 2-3 shots in the Mavs’ first 2 wins rim out then miami sweeps them… and subsequently no one talks about any of this

  • silkysmoke

    @AirKaris: “maybe we have seen the best of LeBron. why should we expect anything more?”

    That’s what I’m saying. I don’t get why so many (including the author of this article) believe that “there is more to this story.” That there is some hidden reason why Lebron shrank. That there are questions that lie unanswered.

    Who’s to say that we weren’t just fooled? We’ve been hearing about Lebron since he was in high school. About how he was the next MJ. About how he was going to change the game. We heard analysts claim that after a few seasons in Cleveland, he not only lived up to the hype–he exceeded it. Think about it. We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that the King was the Chosen One. Highlight after highlight has been forced down our throat. How could we NOT believe that this guy was the Second Coming?

    So when he fails…when he shows us that lack of desire…lack of killer instinct. When he looks “average.” We think something is wrong. Must be a conspiracy.

    You call it hate, but think about it. Who’s to say that this is all there is to Lebron James?

  • Chris

    Lebron’s passive aggressive. He doesn’t like this throne that he’s been thrust upon, so he denies it at times and doesn’t try, being passive. At times though he embraces the throne, that’s the aggressive part. The bottom line though is that he wants to be in control.

  • Raelpogi

    Wow! josh sounds like you want to suck LBJ’s dick! Best player my ass!

  • E$

    That’s what superstars are supposed to say and do. – Is that what they do, DIme? How many Superstars are writing articles for Dime?

  • LeRoy Green


  • LeRoy Green

    Lebron this, Lebron that.

    Lebron LOST.

    When Dirk lost in 06, they called him a choke artist, called him soft, called him weak and they clowned him. He took all the blame like a real leader and man should.

    Dirk took all that in, like a man, owned up to it and vowed to work as hard as he had to in order to make it back and do it right the next time. He redeemed himself on Sunday.

    Lebron gets his 2nd chance in the finals, comes up short, and everybody makes excuses for him lol whatever happened to LOSING TO A BETTER TEAM? What happened to him NOT being who we thought he was? Yall are funny. I don’t hate lebron and don’t wish him failure like alot of ppl do. He’s one of my fav players and I love watchin him play, but it is what it is. The Mavs figured Miami out and beat them fair and square. They got HEAVILY out coached, and they got outplayed just enough for us to win. Focus on the real story, the winners, the Dallas Mavericks. Lebrons got all summer to think about what he can do better and maybe he’ll make those improvements, maybe not. We’ll see. But until then….


    2011 CHAMPS

  • LeRoy Green

    I just read this on another site and I had to post it here.

    “Just wanted to commemorate this moment: Miami down three, gets a rebound and gets the ball to LeBron on the right side of the key, with J.J. Barea defending him one-on-one … and LeBron turns and throws a pass 20 feet backwards to Wade at midcourt. A few seconds later, Miami gives it back to LeBron, who reluctantly backs Barea down to the low post … and bowls him over. Offensive foul. All hail the King!

    (Note that’s too important to be a footnote: If that sequence alone isn’t enough to inspire LeBron to lock himself in a gym all summer until he emerges with a spin move, a jump hook, and a Jordan-eseque fallaway, then he’s the biggest waste of talent in NBA history. You know at the car wash when they offer the “everything” package? That’s what God gave LeBron. He’s threatening to waste it. In a nutshell, this is what makes us so angry about him. It’s not The Decision, or his lack of self-awareness, or the fact that he’s a front-runner … it’s that he’s blowing the “everything” car-wash package. You see an athlete get handed the “everything” package maybe only five times in your life.) ”


  • LP

    Are you trying to trick me?

    Was this article Copy/pasted from last year??? just replaced CAVS with MIAMI and BOSTON with DALLAS? I see right through it.

  • Rainman

    “and lebron is a killer”

    LeBron is NOT a killer, any way u look at it.

    He chocked against Orlando in the conference finals 2 years ago (despite the game winner, we all remember how un assertive and scared he was all the other games)

    he quite agains tBoston last year.

    and same shit this year, how can this dude be a killer when every year, at SOME important point in a playoff run, he disengages and gets scared and all that shit?