Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 6/8/12
BOSTON LeBron James, after turning in a performance that was epic enough to not only alter the course of a series but perhaps redefine his career, exited the court at Boston Garden, raised his middle finger to the world and unleashed an expletive-laced rant to everyone (that would be you, world) who had ever doubted him. Ah, if only. As it turned out, after his 45-point, 15-rebound, five-assist masterpiece allowed him to survive an elimination game on the road for the first time in his career in his own personal house of horrors, at that James could be found sitting serenely at his locker, his head wrapped in a black do-rag, his knees bandaged in ice and the best-selling book "Mockingjay" open in his lap. If this was the way the NBA's most popular and polarizing figure chose to celebrate such a seminal moment, it was no less striking than the way James went about his work Thursday night, with the cool detachment of a man lost in his thoughts. In a game that carried such grave ramifications if Miami had lost there would be calls for Erik Spoelstra's firing, the Big Three to be broken up and the cementing of James' can't-win-the-big-one legacy it was easy to think that James didn't care. There were no fist pumps. There were no broad smiles. There was no wincing. And there were no pushups. All James did was make shot after shot, turning and shooting over Mickael Pietrus, pump-faking Paul Pierce into foul trouble, draining a 3-pointer over Kevin Garnett and soaring in to dunk Chris Bosh's missed shot. He had 30 points at halftime, made 10 consecutive shots and finished 19 of 26. The ravenous Garden crowd, which so expected the Celtics to close out the series, grew anxious early on, then was stunned into silence. By the time Miami's lead ballooned to 25 points midway through the fourth quarter, the arena began clearing out except for a few thousand diehards. "I just went to my habits," James said at the interview podium. "I went to what I built over the course of the season, over the course of the years and just went out and played. I wasn't going to feel sorry for myself or anything tonight. I just go out and play as hard as I can and try to make plays for our team. At the end of the day whatever happens, happens. I can be satisfied with that." It was essentially the same c'est-la-vie responses James offered up to questions in the last 48 hours about his resolve, his team's circumstance and the consequences that would follow the Heat's failure to win a title. All of these came after Miami's Game 5 loss at home, when the Heat played with little determination and their fate was sealed when Pierce sank a clutch 3-pointer over James. In the aftermath, with the Heat on the brink of elimination, all eyes turned to James, searching for a hint of what he must be feeling as a world of self-induced expectations and a universe of scorn was being laid at his feet. Was he angry? Was he overwhelmed? Was he determined? There was only one conclusion to draw about James and by extension, the Heat for those who examined James' countenance, his speech and his tone as a means of checking his pulse. That he had none. And why wouldn't it be read this way? James had checked out two years ago when Cleveland lost to Boston, shedding his jersey on the way off the floor, which proved to be a metaphor for the way he shed the Cavaliers two months later in free agency. Last year, he shrunk when the Heat lost to Dallas in the Finals. This time, James had simply retreated into his own world. To those who know James best, this was not necessarily a problem. James was quiet all day, according to Mario Chalmers. Shane Battier noted that James was joking when their bus driver, stuck in traffic, took the team on a scenic tour to the Garden. Chris Bosh saw not disengagement, but great focus. The only emotion James showed all night was when he slammed the ball to the court after Rajon Rondo snatched away a rebound that James had carelessly grabbed with one hand. He was whistled for a technical foul. "He's got a unique situation where he's always going to be critiqued," Miami guard James Jones said. "If he's angry, there's something wrong. If he's happy, there's something wrong. If he doesn't have a reaction, there's something wrong. So he's just himself, which is if he feels like laughing, he laughs. If he doesn't feel like it, he doesn't. There's no method." Determination and resolve have plenty of faces, apparently not all of them a Michael Jordan scowl, a Kobe Bryant sneer or a Kevin Garnett scream. Dirk Nowitzki and more recently Kevin Durant are showing that a killer instinct doesn't necessarily need to be cloaked in attitude, and delivering a dose of nasty doesn't necessarily guarantee a championship. And neither did James' performance Thursday. All it earned him and the Heat is another chance to keep their season alive and write a new ending, the latest chapter not being the last one after all, only the most unexpected. "I'm not a fortune teller," Dwyane Wade said. "I didn't see it coming." Who did?
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Seahawks players feel Sherman bombshell story ‘nailed it’

Turkey: Kanter a member of terrorist group, issues warrant

Chad Johnson says Roger Goodell consulted him on touchdown celebration rule change

Kevin Durant is not to blame for the NBA’s lack of parity, and he knows it

Khloe Kardashian called out Cavs fan who mentioned ‘curse’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Warriors’ Mike Brown: Steve Kerr may be back for the Finals

Dodgers transfer Andrew Toles and Scott Kazmir to the 60-day disabled list

Looking back at 40 years of women racing in the Indianapolis 500

U.S. national soccer teams to wear LGBT-themed jerseys to celebrate pride month

Mike Zimmer: Teddy Bridgewater still has ‘long ways to go’

Report: Clippers concerned about Chris Paul leaving to sign with Spurs

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Box Score 5/26: Bring on the Finals

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker