Monday, June 04, 2007

Lebron's LeLeap

Lebron followed up his 48-point performance including 29 of his team's last 30 through double overtime in Detroit with another superb game in Cleveland on Saturday as the Cavs stunned the Pistons in six, advancing to the NBA Finals. Perhaps just as importantly, James has finally found his worthy sidekick in Daniel "Booby" Gibson. Let the Jordan and Pippen comparisons rain.

Speaking of MJ, even he marveled at James' performance.

It is a pity that, during this same week, Kobe has made a fool out of himself.

The Detroit Pistons are getting a lot of heat as the media speculates on the potential breakup of the team. After all, the East may be owned by James for years to come. And let us not forget about some fellows named Wade, Howard, and Bosh. But the big difference that no one is talking about between this series and last year's was Ben Wallace, or rather the lack thereof. Chris Webber was simply not as much of an inside force as Big Ben was in allowing Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Drew Gooden, and Anderson Varejao to make plays in the inside. More significantly, Booby and Lebron were constantly penetrating and having their way in the paint.

ESPN's Bill Simmons writes:

When he passed up the game-tying dunk in Game 1 for an ill-fated pass to Donyell Marshall, in retrospect that turned out to be the most important lesson of his career. He needed to take the abuse, needed to hear the questions, needed to hear everyone call him out. Both Detroit losses hardened him, leading to his transcendent Game 3 and another focused performance in Game 4.

You could see him harnessing his considerable gifts. Every fledgling superduperstar needs one of these moments -- Jordan had the series-winning shot in Cleveland, Tiger had the '97 Masters, Magic had Game 6 of the 1980 Finals, Bird had the banker in Game 7 of the '81 Philly series -- when they can say to themselves, "I came through when it mattered, I can do it again." LeBron was one crowd-killing game in Detroit from pushing himself to another level, almost like someone completing a mission in "Grand Theft Auto.

If you care about basketball, this game immediately joined the Bird-Dominique Duel, The Flu Game, MJ's Last Shot, Magic's Sky Hook, McHale's Clothesline, the Sleepy Floyd Game, MJ's 63-Point Game, the Bernard-Isiah Duel, the '87 All-Star Game, the Suns-Celts Game, Bird's Steal, Havlicek's Steal, West's Half-Court Shot, the Miller/Spike Lee Game and every other classic over the years that can be described/remembered/rehashed in three or four words. We'll call this "LeBron's 48-Point Game" someday. 'Nuff said.

And everyone knows how much I love these types of quirky remarks:

"I love the NBA. Can you think of any other avenue in life in which a 22-year-old black kid from Akron, Ohio, would excitedly jump in the air and lovingly embrace for a good 20 seconds a 7-foot-3, 31-year-old from Lithuania?"

Twenty five years from now, every man will still remember where they were when they were a WITNESS to Lebron making his LeLeap.