Wednesday, June 07, 2006

LeBron

The NBA Finals are on Thursday. A good three days of wait and I haven't started feeling the heat yet. My editor at Blogcritics, bless his soul, boldly predicted sweep by the Heat, and if you keep in mind that he's the same guy who advised against watching the NBA conference finals, you know I will be there to watch his prediction getting swept.

Speaking of predictions, I'm done for the season. I think am running a negative balance.

Coming back to the current lack of excitement in the world of sports — well, that's not exactly true because the world of cricket is full of toasts and champagne — with India, the favorites recently lost the one day series 4-1 to the West Indies (don't bother if you are wondering what I'm talking about) and England managed to draw the Test series against Sri Lanka at home for which they are sure to get a stick in their backside. Can't wait to see what headlines the British tabloids come up with.

OK, this post is about LeBron. LeBron James.

Preamble:

Two weeks ago, one Monday evening, the Spurs lost and so did the Clippers. You all know about it and probably don't give a damn. Fair enough.

I headed off to the Rockies soon after the double heartbreaks began to trickle down my senses. And by the way, Canadian Rockies are cool, cooler than the cool places you plan to visit this summer. Where else on earth can you take a stroll on Glaciers and shake hands with grizzly bears? You tell me.

The disappointment came later in the day, when I stumbled on Skip Bayless whose cleverly written column on LeBron James didn't make any sense. He essentially blamed James for the loss to the Pistons, throwing his age out of the equation:
I mean, look at pictures of Jordan and Magic and Bird at the age of 21 and you'll laugh at how skinny and baby faced they look.

LeBron? No, this "kid" is a man now, and he must be treated as such.

Here's something worth recalling: Einstein, in a letter to Dr. M. I. Cohen, dated March 19, 1940 wrote:
"Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities."


Bang.

The Gospel:

Give the kid a break. He's 21. Granted, he looks 31 but I repeat — he's 21. He's freak of nature. Admit it, appreciate what he offers and move on. Skip, if you are wondering why he doesn't have a baby face like most of us do at 21, then I suggest you consult an expert on genetics. And last time I checked, Jose Canseco wasn't seen lurking around the Cavaliers locker room.

Apparently people are ready to cut him a slack only if he looked like a Tayshaun Prince. That's where the last drop of intelligence evaporated.

He should be treated like a man. Sure. But not because at 21, he looks like a man, but because he plays in the league of men. And like every other man he must accept responsibility, particularly of failures. If he doesn't he's doomed but then again, it's his problem.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I haven't heard LeBron referring to himself in third person like he used to. He's showing maturity.

At 21 he speaks all the right things. On the podium he looks composed, poised and responsible. If it sounds contrived, so be it. He's not an embarrassment.

Just because he looks 31 doesn't empower him the wisdom of 31.

On the court he's led the Cavaliers to the East semifinals. The series was widely speculated to be a whitewash and another learning step for LeBron towards greatness. Five games into the series, the Pistons were facing elimination.

It shouldn't have happened, but it almost did. We witnessed.

Yes, the Cavs wilted when it mattered. The inexperience was too much to overcome. They were simply overwhelmed. The Pistons knew it, felt it and turned the screw. Game over.

LeBron was clueless and he found a friend in Mike Brown, the Cavaliers coach. When guidance was needed for a 21 year old mind, Mike Brown came a cropper. So a 21-year-old did what a 21-year-old would do when aggressively double teamed. He put his trust on his teammates. He got them looks, good, bad and ugly. They bricked all the same.

Yes, LeBron is not a pure shooter. The amount of impurity in his shot could only be found in the tap waters in Iraq. But look at his FG percentage. He has steadily improved from 41.7% in his rookie year to 48% in his third. He knows his weaknesses better than anybody and he works on them. That's sign of greatness.

He's doing amazing stuffs since he came to the league. Think about all the coincidences: that you were born and that you are now grown up enough to watch him play and soak in it all. If Nature's pendulum swung few degrees more (or less), you wouldn't be here.

So, thank yourself for being in the right place at the right time.

Like I do.

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