As Game Two of the NBA Finals looms, things aren’t looking real good for the underdog Cleveland Cavaliers. Unlike his boast when he took his talents to South Beach there would be “Not one…not two…not three.. ” championships with the Miami Heat, LeBron James didn’t guarantee the Cavs would win any. In fact, after reaching the championship round, James copped to being surprised they made it that far this soon.
The Cavs were already the underdog in the match-up against Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, but when you’ve got the greatest player in the game you’ve always got a puncher’s chance. That was before Kevin Love was knocked out of the playoffs when the Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk tried to take Love’s shoulder home with him. That was before Kyrie Irving’s left kneecap blew off and sent him to the surgeon’s table. James is known to make his teammates better than they actually are, but even for him this is a mighty heavy lift.
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They were a few teammates of James on the ’06-07 Cavaliers and a pretty talentless bunch he carried on his back to the NBA Finals where they were swept away by the Spurs. Without Irving and Love, James simply does not have enough bullets in his belt to take the pressure from him to perform at a superhuman level to win a championship. Role players like Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, Matthew Dellavdova and Tristan Thompson are not going to turn into superstars against a team as deep and balanced as the Warriors.
It’s been suggested if James is really that great he should be able to find a way to overcome the odds and carry this depleted roster to the title. Those suggestions are as useful as a bag full of broken hammers.
Michael Jordan used to wear the title “Best Player On the Planet” but he needed Pippen and Grant before he put on any rings. Dr. J. needed Moses, Kareem needed Magic and Bird needed Parrish and McHale. Ya feel me?
In NO way is James diminished as a the Greatest player in the NBA if he loses this championship. Remember when the Lakers had Gary Payton and Karl Malone to go with Shaq and Kobe? They lost to the Pistons that year whose biggest “star” were Rasheed and Ben Wallace! TEAMS win championships. One man gangs playing hero ball do not.
It’s disingenuous to even suggest LeBron is lessened when he’s playing with role players, guys who weren’t even on the team when the season started and scrubs.
I’d love to see LeBron triumph and beat the odds by leading the Cavs to a championship, but my desires are tempered by reality. Even King James cannot play every minute, bring the ball up court, call the play, put everyone in the right place on the floor, distribute the rock, take the shot, knock it down, box out, grab the rebound, get back on “D”, guard all five opposing players, pop the popcorn, shake the pom-poms at halftime, coach the team and drive the team bus.
The bigger problem for the Cavs is their coach, David Blatt. He took the job before James came back to town and since then LeBron has made it clear he doesn’t listen to Blatt; he tolerates him (barely). Curry does not have a similar problem being coached by Steve Kerr. Unlike Blatt, Kerr played in the NBA and with Jordan no less. He knows a little something about how to play with a superstar. Blatt can’t buy a clue.
His name is LeBron James. It would take LeBron Jesus to carry these Cavs to a championship. The Warriors want what LeBron already has: a championship ring and their strategy is not to double team him and not try to shut him down. Let LeBron get his and see who else can get anything.
James dismisses any strategy teams are allowing him to do his thing while challenging the other guys to do anything.
“Well, first of all, you can’t let me have 40,” James said following the Game One overtime loss where he scored the Cavs lone two points, “You don’t let me have 40. I go get 40. It’s not like they’re just getting out of the way. So those guys aren’t saying we’re okay with letting him have 40. You don’t let me have 40; I’m making those shots.”
But you didn’t make the shot that would have won the game in regulation, LeBron. You got 44 points. You needed 46
His performance in Game Three against the Hawks was nothing short of Herculean. His 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists was magnificent and that’s on top of battling his own knee and ankles injuries (as well as Blatt’s brain fart in playcalling and counting time outs).
I was one of those who was royally pissed by the clumsy way LeBron exited Cleveland and The Decision was one of the worst p.r. mistakes ever made by a pro athlete. But he learned and I have learned to forgive and forget. I welcome him back to Ohio and I wish him nothing but well. James doesn’t have brushes with the law. Doesn’t hang out in the clubs and strip joints. Doesn’t seem to be dropping little LeBrons all around the country. He appears to be a family man who is taking care of them and building himself into a global brand. Good for the brother, I say.
Win this series or lose it, LeBron is still who he is: The Greatest Player in the NBA Today. Truth. He will not give up and he will not roll over and crown the Warriors. If there’s a way to will the Cavaliers to a win, James can do it. With King James there’s a chance to avoid a repeat of The Sweep the Spurs laid on the Cavs in 2007.
But they won’t win. They can’t win. Warriors in five.