LeBron gets the first laugh: I need to talk about LeBron's laugh, which -- to me -- is by far the biggest story of the day, the kernel of authenticity wrapped in mocking wrapped in the way the Heat leveled the Celtics in Game 1 in a way that seemed entirely routine. Here's the clip:
I'm fascinated by this for a few reasons:
Rather than make LeBron look like a jerk, it made him look triumphant. Obviously, this is in large part because he did it in Kevin Garnett's face, KG being a compulsive asshole on the court throughout his entire career. KG mugged menacingly at LeBron... and LeBron laughed at him. Not in his face -- not quite -- but more like close enough to his face to make us know, yet far enough away to be entirely dismissive. KG looked pathetic; LeBron looked Olympic, like he knew the series was already over.
For me, it was one of the most fascinating on-court moments of LeBron's career -- clearly, he hasn't won anything of substance yet (if "substance" is defined as "championship"), but when we talk about LeBron assuming an alpha role en route to that championship, this is the kind of thing you expect to see.
Let me reiterate: LeBron wasn't being a jerk. He was diminishing a rival to the point where KG's signature scowling now feels like a joke, a punchline.
It was necessary that LeBron pull this off against KG and the Celtics -- if he did it against the mediocre Rockets or the lowly Wizards or even the rising Thunder, he is a bully. Aside from a very specific nostalgia springing from the idea these all-time great Boston players are on their last gasps of relevancy, most fans loathe them and are thrilled to see them mitigated, even if the typically loathed LeBron is doing the mitigating. Few have the basis to laugh KG into NBA oblivion -- LeBron does.
We mocked KG and the Celtics with LeBron, and that is an ultimate result for LeBron.