“James, come over here for a second,” Erik Spoelstra said to his player as the team prepared for the start of the first overtime.
James Johnson raised one eyebrow. He figured his coach would give them all a peptalk, not just take one of them off to the side for some one-on-one coaching. But he new better than to argue, so went over to stand with his coach, away from the rest of the team.
“I need you to do something for me, James,” Erik said as he rummaged around in his suit pocket for something. “Something very important.” James noticed that his coach seemed slightly out of breath.
“Uh, sure,” James replied, not understanding where this was going.
Erik finally pulled out a rumpled, tattered picture from his pocket and flattened it against his leg before showing it to James. It was a picture of LeBron James and Erik Spoelstra standing together with the O’Brien trophy. James looked up from the picture of LeBron back at his coach, wondering what the meaning of this was, only to see that Erik had tears in his eyes.
“I need you to be my LeBron,” Erik said. “The real LeBron can’t ever come back, but you can be him. Just for one night, I need you to be him.”
“So I have to take over the game with my scoring ability?” James asked. He was used to the LeBron comparisons, but nothing like this.
“We shared something, LeBron and I,” Erik continued, and James wondered if there was more to the story that he wasn’t hearing. “Tonight, I want us to recapture that magic. You’ll take over the overtime periods with your all-around game, and then afterwards, after we’ve won, then we’ll…never mind what we’ll do after. Let’s just worry about right now. Let’s just worry about you becoming LeBron reincarnate.”
“Got it, coach.”
Erik clutched the crumpled picture to his chest, clenched his eyes shot, and mouthed a few words which James couldn’t hear, then put the picture back in his pocket. James, seeing that his coach had no more words for him, rejoined his teammates. “Hey guys, I’m feeling pretty hot, just get me the ball the first couple of possessions and see what happens.”