Thursday, May 31, 2007


thinking back on the many basketball games I have watched. I imagine I have probably seen over a thousand games, mostly, I will admit, watching the Timberwolves. My favorite has always been the game I took Mike to. It was against the then-powerhouse Sacramento Kings. It went down to the wire, and the Target Center was crazy with noise. We won on a late KG shot, with time running out, after coming back from a fourth quarter deficit. I thought it was the best thing I had seen.

Tonight, thought, I might have witnessed the best basketball in recent memory. I grew up watching Michael Jordan. I watched the double nickle, the IV game, the shot against Utah. I honestly saw all those golden moments in sports history. As I write this, I feel the excitement of knowing I had seen something that will forever be talked about. And I think I saw that again tonight.

Lebron James has been blasted for his decision to pass in game one. He was villified for his decision to shoot through double coverage in game two. Now he will be talked about as the hero of game five. He scored 48 points on 18 of 32 shots, including 29 of the Cavaliers' final 30 points. He made the game winner, driving through the lane and getting bodied, with 2.2 left on the clock. Is scored 28 points in the fourth and overtime. He WILLED the team to a win. Down two, behind the back dribble, pullup to the right, bucket. Down three, fallaway three, swish. Tie game and he drives in for the win. He was everywhere at once tonight, playing over 50 minutes of gametime.

But tomorrow, in spite of, or maybe because of, all that, SOMEONE will try to tear him down. Someone will write that he was a ball hog, or that he took ill advised shots to make the game close. Someone will bring up games one and two. Already, someone wrote an article about hos he was rude to a laundry guy on the team, and how he didn't know the names of all the attendants on Team NBA. They will find anything they can to bring him back down to earth.

Because he is approaching a legend. He is coming nearer and nearer MJ status. He is coming up big in big games. He is winning despite an ordinary team. He might just take the Cavs to the finals in the same amount of time it took Michael.

And we can't have another MJ.

So forget the heroics. Forget how, after the game when Greg Sager all but baited him into praising himself, he deferred to his teammates. Forget that he had to be helped off the court.

The first was a fluke. The second was false modesty. That last bit was melodramatics. He's a good talent, and a great player, sure. He has even made some big time shots down the stretch. Hell, he's surrounded by the cast aways of sub-par teams. But when it's all said and done, he lacks that wink and smile, that direct elusiveness, that media savvy that MJ had.

And the game is coming way too easy for him. He was never cut from his highschool squad. Hever had to prove himself in college. Never had to win on a big stage.

So we can like him. We can even root for him. But in the end, we need him to come just short. He needs to pas up the big shot, so we can debate whether an assist to win is as good as a shot to win. He needs to foul out of the big game, so we can say his team carried him. He needs to rest the forth quarter, so we can say his opponent wasn't good enough.

But he can't win like tonight. He can't take over a game, drive to the hoop at the end, and rise above everyone on and off the court. He can't be superhuman.

He can't be Michael Jordan.

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