LeBron James said Game 5 of the NBA Finals was the biggest game of his life.
What does that make Game 6 tonight?
Here's hoping it turns out to be the biggest game of Dirk Nowitzki's life and the Dallas Mavericks close out James and the Miami Heat to deny them the NBA title the self-proclaimed King and his teammates were celebrating late last summer.
The Mavs are no lock tonight, even with the collective force of so many Cleveland Cavaliers fans behind them. Dallas has needed spirited fourth-quarter rallies to secure each of its three victories in this series and the scene has shifted back to Miami.
As much as a huge and ever-growing majority of Heat Haters would like to see the Mavs end it tonight, it stands to reason Miami will force a Game 7, doesn't it?
The next Michael Jordan has to turn up at some point before this series ends, right?
If not now, when?
James is the biggest, strongest, fastest and most talented player on the floor nearly every night. This NBA Finals is no exception. So why doesn't he play like it anymore?
It's the fourth quarter, Miami is battling for the first of the eight or nine NBA championships James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were supposed to bring to South Beach and the King turns into a run-of-the-mill player.
This hasn't just happened once. It has happened in every game in this series. If it happens again tonight, chances are Dallas - and Cleveland - will be celebrating.
There is no denying the satisfaction in watching as the Heat's grand plan seems to unravel. And if the Mavs finish off Miami tonight or even in Game 7 on Tuesday night, James' status is going to be damaged in ways the blowback from The Decision even couldn't achieve.
That is, unless James suddenly becomes MJ. But I'm not holding my breath. Even when he was the best option for his teams in Cleveland, LeBron didn't have the intangibles that made Jordan great.
But hey, he wore No. 23.
Now, James defers to Wade. He plays like a journeyman in the most important games of his life.
Wade isn't helping. Hours before Game 5, Wade and James mocked Nowitzki, who made a difference for Dallas in Game 4 despite a sinus infection and fever.
Wade seemed the instigator, with James following his lead.
LeBron a lackey? No surprise there.
So in addition to lacking heart and a killer instinct, LeBron also doesn't seem too bright. Why provide even more motivation for a guy who has already thoroughly outplayed you?
Sure, James could suddenly get aggressive, start going to the basket, resume playing defense and take over. Maybe the Heat win the final two games and the title, like the Los Angeles Lakers did against the Boston Celtics a year ago.
But if they don't, the perception of the Heat, and especially James, is going to change dramatically.
It's already happening, and only a dramatic turnaround can stop it.