Aug 29, 2007

LeBron Rules

*I have been enthralled watching the USA Team dismantle all opposition in the Tournament of the Americas, and it made me think of what I had written during the Finals about the Boy King. Watching him play now, it looks like he listened*

The Finals are over. 11 times in NBA history, a team has gone up 3-0 in the NBA Finals, with 7 teams completing the sweep, 3 winning in five, and 1 team being taken to 6. No team down 0-3 has ever even seen Game 7 in the Finals, and in the history of the playoffs, no team has ever come back from such a deficit. That said, maybe these new rules could stop a sweep, or at least point Mr. James in the right direction in the future.

Thou shall get going early
We all celebrated his play in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, taking the team, and the city, on his back and carrying them to victory. Dropping 29 of the LeBrons’ final 30 points is amazing, to say the least, but there is a hidden lesson in these numbers. Scoring that many of any teams final points tells the careful observer that at some point in the fourth quarter, when said team had 79 points, James had only scored 19 of them. That’s less than a fourth. In a rubber-match game that would essentially decide who was going to the Finals. Unacceptable. As the Finals have undoubtedly shown us, it is never too early for LeBron to take over a game, there’s no need to wait. Though his clutch stats on are through the roof.

Thou shall enter the lane
Six feet, eight inches tall. 250 pounds. Bigger, faster, stronger than anyone who is going to try to stop him. What the hell is it with all the ill-advised 22 foot jumpers? He should be attacking the rim, over, and over again, forcing the other team to foul him, and send him to the charity stripe. I’ve never been physically ill watching a team that wasn’t directly tied to me until now. Based on his attributes alone, he should be filling the lane over and over and over again. Who’s really gonna stop him?

Thou shalt ignore the line beyond the lane
STOP. SHOOTING. THREE. POINTERS. An amazing stat from last night was that the Spurs and Cavs each shot 19 three pointers, and while the Cavs only buried 3, San Antonio knocked down 10. That’s a 21-point difference. I know, he’s more confident since his 48 point performance in Game 5 against Detroit, but that was a while ago. He’s a career 32% 3-point shooter, hitting only 15 % this series. Take a hint, LeBron. He was culpable, going 0-5 from 3-land, and honestly, he’s going to give me a heart attack.

Thou shalt not complain
You were fouled. During your three-point attempt to end Game 3, and try to force overtime, “Hollywood” Bruce Bowen fouled you intentionally. It should have been called a continuation foul, and you should have been awarded three free throws, and given that you were 6/7 so far through the night, you probably would have made them, and you should have had a shot against the Spurs in overtime. Happy? It was a bad call to end a very good game, but there was no reason to stay on the court and argue the matter. When you were fouled at the end of Game 2, you and the rest of the team held the company line of, “We’re a team that doesn’t make excuses.” That was awesome, speaking to his strength, and also that of the franchise. Where was that last night?

Thou aren’t a global icon…yet
Since the day he got into the Association, he has stated that he wanted to be more than just a basketball player, that he wanted to be a ‘global icon’. Not. Quite. Yet. To achieve that end, he will have to unseat the current basketball icon, Michael Jordan. In some aspects, he has a leg up on MJ; the Bulls only posted a .500 record in his fourth season, and reached the Conference Finals in his fifth. But maybe it is the quickness with which LBJ ascended that keeps him from threatening the throne. Maybe the time it took Jordan to grow is where he learned when to take a game into his hands, when to utilize his amazing athleticism in the lane, when to fully develop a mid-range and outside game, how to demand respect from officials. Maybe these lessons are what taught Jordan how to take over a game through sheer force of will, and allowed him to spearhead a dynasty that captured the imaginations of the world for 8 years. Can LeBron do that too? We’ll see.

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