It’s always like this in the end. Athletes rarely quit before their time is up (Barry Sanders is the exception to this rule) and teams are rarely broken up and reimagined by their management before they are unraveled by a younger, hungrier and yes … more talented team.
What’s happening to the Pistons in this series is not merely an issue of a “lack of effort.” Yes, the Pistons won a championship and made it to six consecutive conference finals and yes, they are a talented bunch of players. And yes, their lack of effort could probably be the root cause of them not having achieved more (remember wondering where Rip and Chauncey were in Game 7 of the 2005 NBA Finals?).
But let’s not focus on the Pistons right now, because as much as we don’t want it to be this way, the cold, lonely truth is that their effort is irrelevant to the outcome of this series.
The Pistons are simply in the way of a young player who is on the verge of greatness.
Lebron James is willing himself and his team towards the NBA Finals and even without that willpower, I’d propose that Lebron could almost get there on his talent alone.
Last night, James was one assist shy of a triple-double. He is inspiring his teammates to play above their level and contribute their fullest. And that, my friends, is how championships are made.