On LeBron

Player haters. Elevators. If you cross him...you'll die.

I've spent most of this afternoon trying to wrap my mind around last night's Game 5. I watched almost the entire game, and with four minutes to go the Cavs looked like they were falling apart. I wanted to watch the end, but I also had to catch a bus on my way to a friend's house. When I got off the bus, it was all tied up with something like nine seconds to go. In that short time on a PAT Bus, LeBron took over. He had decided it was time.

Being in Pittsburgh, FSN shows a lot of Cavs games. I've been watching more LeBron than just about anyone else in the league over these last few years. Every once in a while he puts up a game that makes you think he'll go down as the best ever, and then I talk about it for a week, and everyone tells me to shut up about it. This has been going on for the better part of three years.

On a national level, LeBron has been viewed almost as an underachiever. Dwayne Wade got the ring first. Throughout the first two rounds of the 2007 NBA Playoffs James (and his teammates) were hounded for playing uninspired. LeBron wasn't giving us a taste of what we saw last year. After Games 1 and 2 of the Detroit series it was more of the same. More "so this guy is supposed to be the Second Coming?"

I went into this series thinking LeBron and the Cavs had to lose. They had to get beaten down one more time by Detroit. In the NBA, you can't win until you lose. They would use this year's playoffs to learn a little more and come back next year even stronger.

Then Game 3 happened. He turned on a switch. He carried the team and got everyone involved. Game 4 was more of the same, there was no way in hell he was letting his team lose. What should have happened in this upcoming off-season was happening right now. He was learning. He was adjusting on the fly. He was getting better, not as his career progressed, but as this one series progressed.

And then Game 5.

I was up until well after 7:00AM this morning, sitting in the dark on a friend's couch, watching SportsCenter replays so I could see it again. I needed to. I spent hours this afternoon reading newspaper articles and blog posts about it. I took it all in, because it was something rare.

In Games 3 and 4, LeBron's team was playing well around him. Not great, but they were getting the job done. He was making them better. Gooden and Gibson had career games. But Game 5 was different. They needed something more. They needed LeBron to take over. And he did.

Reggie Miller put up 39 points in the '94 Playoffs against the Knicks. 25 of those game in the 4th quarter as he famously went back and forth with Spike Lee. Reggie had some shooters around him.

Jordan put up 63 in the Playoffs at The Garden. He did that because he had to. He had no one around him. And because of that, the Bulls lost to the Celtics. Once he got Pippen, it was still Jordan's team, but it was never fully a one-man show. When he demolished Phoenix in the '93 Finals, that was with some help around him.

Last night King James had no help. In the 4th quarter and the two overtime periods he was a one-man team. He was literally playing 1-on-5. And he still couldn't be stopped. He single handedly crushed one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. A team that was playing in its fifth consecutive Eastern Conference Finals. A team that looked to make easy work of the Cavs after going up 2-0.

On May 7, 1989 Jordan hit a jumper over Craig Ehlo at the buzzer. It would go down as one of the most memorable moments of Jordan's career and in NBA history. It would also more or less destroy the Cleveland Cavilers' franchise for more than a decade.

Then came LeBron.

Last night was the end of all that. No matter what happens in this series, the Cavs are back. It will be almost impossible for Detroit to come back from that kick in the stomach. But there's always a chance. But that's no matter. What happened last night was not about the 2007 season. It was about the future. It was about the years to come. It was something more than the flashes of brilliance that LeBron has shown us all before. It was something a little more concrete. It was something a little more tangible. It meant a little bit more.

This was as much about the Cavs franchise as it was about LeBron. Jordan saved the Bulls. LeBron is here to save the Cavs.

They now have a chance to roll through Detroit in Game 6. Which has a good chance of happening. And then they have to play the Spurs. No matter what happens, the Cavs will still be the underdog. Odds are they will lose a Best of Seven against San Antonio. And even if that happens, at least now we know how a resurrection really feels.

4 Responses to “On LeBron”

  1. # Blogger J Cramer

    Yeah but LeBron didn't make the Earth spin off rotation. He didn't change the magnetic field. The new Ice Age didn't start under his watch.

    Seriously, why can't the sports media just enjoy what could be the greatest career in NBA history? I've been waiting for LeBron for 15 years. He is basketball and he is hitting that maturing phase.

    My prediction the Cavs win the NBA title this year. LeBron does what Jordan, Magic, Bird, and every other Hall of Famer couldn't do wins a title before he can get a rental car.

    I love Tim Duncan but this about a level of player higher than him. LeBron is going to will himself a NBA Title. We are in the Era of the Chosen One. In one game he has jumped about 10 steps ahead of even the wildest expectations.  

  2. # Blogger B. Marcks

    Yeah, but honestly, I have one argument: It's Tim Duncan. Before LeBron there is Tim. Granted we witnessed one of those Games last night (Reggie against the Knicks, The Flu Game, etc. etc.) but the Stone Buddah does his thing. There's a reason Barkley calls him "Groundhog Day", it's the same thing over and over and over.

    Also, there's no way San Antonio lets him get to the basket for DUNKS like Detroit did in that game. It doesn't happen.  

  3. # Blogger B. Marcks

    Oh and by the way, the "wins a title title before he can get a rental car" is a little off.

    Kobe is going to the Hall, and he was 21.

    Not that it's the same situation, I'm just being a dick is all.  

  4. # Blogger J Cramer

    Fair enough I dont count Kobe as winning the title by himself. He had a little bit of help. I forgot he was only 21.

    I think the Spurs will give LeBron all he can handle. Rationally the Cavs shouldn't win this series but rationally the Cavs shouldn't be able to beat the Pistons. I realize that Flip Saunders is a terrible coach who switching defensive assignments, etc.

    The Cavs winning the title seems like what should happen in the NBA. As everyone knows the team with the best player always wins.  

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