With less than two minutes left in Game 3, LeBron James did what LeBron James does.
With a small assist from Stephen Curry's bad defensive decision, LeBron found a split-second of freedom from Andre Iguodala that allowed him just enough room from 26 feet out to launch and nail a 3-pointer that essentially secured that improbable Game 3 victory Tuesday night for the Cavs.
But right after that basket, James -- in straight hero mode during the hugest moment of the game, one of the hugest moments of his career -- turned around and went into semi-automatic weapon simulation mode.
Glock drawn, round fired, bang, recoil, slide-pull, click, mean-mug, back in the holster. Timeout, Golden State Warriors.
Now, without getting too sanctimonious or going "all-in" over the situation and making the re-enactment something that it's not, there is a sense of irresponsibility that comes with allowing this -- by this player, on this stage -- to go by without saying anything. The less than two seconds it took for LeBron to do that celebration is the same amount of time it took for him to make the shot that allowed him to celebrate. But in the larger scheme of things, the celebration is actually more important.
As African-American men, we all hold a degree of responsibility. Not just to ourselves and others around us, but to the conditions to which we live in and under. In that, LeBron is no different than me, no different than President Obama, or Ben Carson, or the black guy sitting in Section 334 of Oracle Arena who spent a large amount of his paycheck for that ticket to get into Game 2, or the black guy standing outside of Quicken Loans Arena who couldn't afford to get into Game 4, but will ask someone going into the game if they can spare a dollar or two to help him get through the rest of the day.
We know the history of us and guns. We know it's not just cops turning their guns on us, just as we know it's not just us turning our guns on one another. We know that our lives in America are ended by guns at twice as high a rate as whites and at a greater percentage than any other race in this country. We know we and guns have become this generation's oil and water.
But knowing and recognizing are often diametrically opposing realities when it comes to matters of life and lifestyle that attach themselves to the black experience in America. At some point, however, the re-enactments have to change even in a world of "Call of Duty" dominance because the real-life connections between guns and black lives matter, too.
It's not like what LeBron did was wrong; it's that in this current gun control-less climate as a black man who represents one of the positive sides of our narrative, it's just not right.
Or as DeWayne Wickhan simply put it in his USA Today Sports sermon on gun violence and black youth: "The killing of young blacks is an American pandemic."
LeBron James is no different than so many other athletes/NBA players who have similar re-enactment celebrations. Russell Westbrook's Yosemite Sam, Joakim Noah's Wyatt Earp -- all different, but in the end the same. All are unconscious reactions to big basketball moments, but they're all reactions that are counterproductive to the role they play as celebrated, responsible black men in a society that has very few to choose from.
James' celebration, with less association to the wild, wild West and closer to the Walter Scott murder, carries a different tone and weight because of the distinctive difference in weaponry he chose to emulate. It's because of the person he is, the stature he holds and the stage it took place on -- in front of a global audience in the NBA Finals, which is the most-watched, highest-rated Finals since ABC began broadcasting them in 2003.
Meaning: 23.5 million more people don't need to think that's how we live because far too many already think we do.
The rules are different for us. LeBron knows this. And if he is the leader we all are making him out to be, the one that he has over his entire career proven himself to be, then he'll knows what the cost of a dollar really is.
He'll also know that I'm not asking him to change. I'm asking him to think.