By In Stuff




These few thoughts on what LeBron James has meant to me this season are all the more poignant after Kyrie Irving’s injury at the end of Game 1. I don’t think the Cavaliers can beat Golden State in seven games. But to be honest — and I can’t believe I’m saying this after 50 years of Cleveland losing — I don’t even think it matters. This season has been such a joy. And LeBron has been the reason.

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44 Responses to LeBron

  1. Marc Schneider says:

    If Cleveland loses, which it probably will, and people blame LeBron, that will be a travesty. He has taken a so-so team that is riddled with injuries and gotten it into the finals-admittedly from the much weaker Eastern Division. He has nothing to apologize for but I am already anticipating people talking about how MJ was better because, hey, he didn’t lose a finals.

    • Drew Thomas says:

      Marc, great comment.
      People were complaining on Facebook (shocking, right?) that LBJ should have passed the ball more. Uh, who was going to make the shots? JR was 3-13, Shumpert was 2-6. He passes until he realizes he can’t anymore.

      • invitro says:

        I don’t believe that any half-intelligent person would blame LeBron for the Cavs losing to GS.

        Still, it is of course possible for any player to not pass enough. And if you have proof that 2-6, or even 3-13, means that the player will shoot no better than that for the rest of the game, well I and millions of other people would love to see it.

        • Chris McClinch says:

          Thing is, whether you’re passing enough or not is typically dictated not just how your teammates are doing but by what the defense is giving you. When defenses help on LeBron, he greatly enjoys hitting the open man. When they don’t, the smart move is to take the shot rather than try to force a pass into a window that isn’t there.

          It’s not possible to have watched last night’s game and say LeBron wasn’t passing enough; the passing lanes weren’t there. It actually looked to me like he hesitated more than necessary on several isos because he was trying to goad the Warriors into closing in on him so he could pass out.

        • MikeN says:

          I blame LeBron. He spends the whole game being selfish, racking up 42 points, then in overtime has other players take the shots? Go for 50!

        • Remember how they were on LeBron when he lost in the finals with Cleveland the first time around? And his supporting cast was much worse, though granted his current cast is now injury riddled. Remember the “LeChoke” comments and the complaints about him disappearing at times? Obviously he’s way past that point, but still the media and more than a few fans will be all over him should they lose.

          Of course, if the Cavs win, he’ll get all of the credit. That’s the life of a superstar. It was no different for any other superstar. I remember back in the 80s, Magic got hammered after some of the flame outs, especially the 85 series against Boston & the one against the Rockets in the first round. The Rockets one was totally unfair because Magic was hurrying back from an injury. No, he didn’t play well, but that would be like blaming Kyrie Irving if the Cavs lose. I’m sure LeBron will survive either way. He’s a big boy & he’s been living in the limelight for a long time. He knows how it’s going to go with the media and fans.

    • jalabar says:

      There are any number of reasons why MJ is better, but his record in the Finals is only a tiny part of that. Yes, MJ had a much better Finals record with lesser teammates (Not than Cleveland, but LeBron’s Heat were much more loaded than any of MJ’s teams). This Cleveland team was deeply flawed before (how many teams won championships with below average defense?), and now missing Kyrie have almost no chance to win. The only reason they have to make it competitive is LeBron.

      • invitro says:

        The non-LeBron Heat better than the non-Jordan Bulls? Who had two Hall of Famers in Pippen and Rodman at their peak? And Kukoc an All-Star, and Kerr a record-setting 3pt shooter? I don’t think so.

        • MikeN says:

          Plus one time prolific scorer Ron Harper.
          The earlier version had Horace Grant and Bill Cartwright and Jon Paxson and Craig Hodges.

        • jalabar says:

          Obviously… Scottie Pippen was NOT a Hall of Fame caliber player without Jordan. He wasn’t when Jordan took two years off and he wasn’t after Jordan retired. Rodman, by the time he got to Chicago, was a shadow of what he was years prior, both in rebounding and defense. How many all-star teams did Horace make after he left Chicago? Bill Wennington? Luc Longley? Really? Really.

          D-Wade, Bosh, and Ray Allen will probably all make the Hall of Fame along with Lebron. I mean, come on people, this stuff is obvious. Take off your Lebron colored shades.

          Jordan’s Bulls WERE Jordan. Period. And he didn’t artificially manufacture a contender for himself by gaming the free agent system to go play with a couple of All-Star friends. You think anyone would have beaten the Bulls if Jordan had talked, say… Olijawon or Karl Malone and a Stockton or Payton into coming to Chicago? The reason why Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Bill Cartwright, freakin’ Bison Dele (Brian Williams), etal were as good as they were was because they played with Jordan. Scottie Pippen was a marginal ALL-Star caliber player who never got any defensive attention, never drew the hardest match-up, and never drew the double teams. When those are the circumstances for an All-Star, they become a Hall-of-Famer.

          I do have to give Pippen credit for his Hall-of-Fame caliber defense. On D, he was a beast. But there’s a reason Kukoc became the goto guy when Jordan left, and it ain’t because Kukoc was gonna blow up.

          • Do you even watch basketball? Pippen could do everything. He averaged 6 rebounds and 5 assists for his career. He played the point, at times, and drew the tough defensive assignments. He was awesome when Jordan wasn’t there, he just was never a 30 ppg guy if that’s what you needed to see. There’s a lot more to basketball than dominating the ball and jacking up 30 shots a night. Even with those really good Portland teams, that never could quite get past the Lakers, he was the engine for that team. He did literally everything except score 25/night.

          • MikeN says:

            Pippen was 3rd in MVP voting after Jordan left, leading his team in every category, and Rodman won several rebounding titles after joining the Bulls.
            Keep in mind people were looking at trading Bosh after the first season. Only after he started shooting threes against the Celtics did he show his value. Ray Allen is a Hall of Famer, better than Reggie Miller, but in his final seasons in Miami. If you want to go there, then the Jordan Bulls get Robert Parish.

          • Marc Schneider says:

            But why is it even an issue whether LeBron is or is not better than MJ? Isn’t it enough to say they were both incredibly good? Why denigrate LeBron to say that MJ was better? For that matter, why isn’t Wilt Chamberlain the best player ever? They are all great players; it’s a bit like asking who is the most beautiful woman in the world. Well, ok, it’s a bit different.

          • DB says:

            I cannot believe you are hating on Pippen like this. In the first year that Jordan left, the Bulls lost in the conference semis to the Knicks in 7 on a controversial call and the Knicks went to the Finals. The next year they lost Grant as well, Jordan came back and they still lost.

            Jordan basically had the prime of a top 40 player of all time (based on win shares) and he was a smart guy and realized how valuable Pippen was and used him. Lebron thought he was getting that with Wade but Wade turned old fast. He then thought he was getting that with Irving but he has turned into Mr. Glass.

            I would love to see a series with a prime Jordan and Pippen versus prime James and Wade. They would all nullifying each other and the supporting cast and the coaches would win it (which would mean the Bulls as James has never had a coach as good as Jackson in his prime).

      • MikeN says:

        LOL, he had Scottie Pippen on all of those teams.

      • gogiggs says:

        Without Jordan the Bulls won 55 games and a playoff series.
        Without LeBron the Heat didn’t even make the playoffs. And you can’t use Bosh being out as an excuse, because even with Bosh, they were headed for a 40ish win season and a low seed at best. And in a MUCH weaker Eastern Conference than the one the Bulls faced.
        So, no, the Heat were clearly not more loaded. But, hey, don’t let facts get in the way of your bias.

        Without LeBron the Cavs went from a 61 win team to a 19 win team. When LeBron came back, they went from a 33 win team to a 53 win team.

        Is LeBron better than Jordan? Who cares? He’s great enough and I don’t see any need to try and diminish that by trying to find players he’s not as great as.

  2. Chaz Campbell says:

    Unfortunately, the sports gods decided some time ago to smack down yet another Cleveland team that had a legitimate chance to win a title. Now they have no Kevin Love and a hobbled Kyrie, and it’s almost a repeat of 2007 when LBJ had to single-handedly carry the team on his back to the Finals. I’m still hoping this is the year, but after last night it doesn’t look good.

  3. MikeN says:

    Not his fault but I have no sympathy for the Irving injury after the Bulls’ seasons were undone by injuries year after year. The Bulls led LeBron 2-1 this year, and probably 3-1 if the refs don’t ignore the timeout call.
    Really LeBron’s championships should come with an *.

    • BIP says:

      Every team that wins a championship catches breaks along the way, and it doesn’t detract from the win. If LeBron gets hit by a bus tomorrow and Golden State wins the next three games by 50 points each, I’m pretty sure they’ll still hold a parade.

      • Yeah, my son thought a Warrior win would be diminished by the Cavs injuries. I told him that narrative will last about three days. Then it goes in the record books the same as the Lakers ’86 win over the Celtics. They have a parade and probably a White House visit. Then, it’s on to next season and trying to keep the team together.

    • invitro says:

      Kobe’s championships should come with an ***** then.

  4. jim sola says:

    Lebron’s a great player. MAYBE in the top 5 NBA players of all time. It’s only kind of impressive that Lebron’s in the Finals (c’mon, the East was VERY weak this year).

    Joe, I’m surprised at yours and others current infatuation with James.

    I’ll admit The Decision soured me tremendously. Also, in Miami, I began to notice all the whining he does in games and how many times he’d subtly put blame on other teammates…Chalmers got his wrath often. Lebron deferred too much, I thought, and seemed to give up in 2 different Finals. Then Lebron left Miami for Cleveland, where he could create his own dream team again after, I assume, Lebron felt Wade was too old and Bosh not good enough to win more Championships in Miami. Cleveland management listened to The King and brought in Love, a player they likely could have gotten next year, while losing Wiggins. I find Lebron really hard to root for.

    As for last night, Lebron played great…until the final couple minutes of regulation and OT. He took 2 VERY bad fade-away shots, including what woulda been the game-winner, and had a couple bad TO’s. He was non-existent in OT. Kyrie Irving got hurt late, but Irving looked GREAT last night. As did many of James’ other teammates. Golden State came out tight. Cleveland SHOULD have won that game. I’m just not sold that Lebron is all that.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      Rooting for or liking LeBron is different than recognizing his ability. Cleveland at this point (with the injuries)is a so-so team that is in the finals only because of James. People that don’t like him because of the Decision (which I also found distasteful) will find any way to denigrate him if he has a bad game or misses a shot. He is either too selfish or too deferential. He whines too much. The guy can’t win, apparently, unless he wins every single championship. It reminds me a lot of how people acted toward Wilt Chamberlain. I just don’t get it. Arguing over whether it is or is not impressive that Cleveland made the finals (without, basically, two of their best players) just seems the height of craziness and just another way to take down LeBron. The team won 33 games last year; they won 52 this year and it wasn’t because of Kevin Love. Just what is the guy supposed to do?

    • What he said. Spot on, Jim Sola. And I’ll say this: There is no way, NO WAY, that Jordan, Bird, Magic or even Isaiah settles for that half-ass three-pointer at the end of regulation. That flat cannot be the shot on the final possession of a tie NBA Final Game 1. He’s not all that. Not even close to all that.

    • wordyduke says:

      I’ll stay out of the questions about how great a player LeBron is or how well he played in game 1. But as to his comings and goings, Dan Gilbert did a miserable job of building a team around LeBron, and Gilbert’s “The Letter” was even worse than the theatrics of “The Decision.” After seven years of professional frustration, anyone is entitled to go to a better situation. Then LeBron gave Miami its money’s worth. And maybe he genuinely wanted to spend September-June and bring up his children in what he considers “home,” rather than in a glitz city. The kids were growing up, rosters had changed, Riley never got a genuine center (Oden was a try, I guess), different situation.

      • invitro says:

        How many finals would Gilbert’s Cavs have needed to get to before you would judge his team building as better than “miserable”? Just curious.

  5. DjangoZ says:

    LeBron is such an odd athlete. I can’t think of any other star who we could say all of the following things about:

    – Amazing mind, amazing memory, unusually cerebral
    – Physically gifted at the extreme end of the spectrum
    – Gave up in the middle of a key playoff game TWICE
    – Has body language and a look on his face that says “This is really irritating that I have to carry my teammates…to the point that I might just stand at half-court and not even bother”
    – And yet, at the age of 30, in what I think is his most impressive season, he has carried his team through injuries to both of the other Big two players to the Finals. And this is now probably his least talented set of teammates.

    Clearly he has matured. And I certainly have gained more appreciation for him. But he is not the prototypical “I got this”/Carry-a-team-on-his-back player. The really interesting story is that he’s become that at the age of 30, after he seemed so bothered by it when he was younger.

    He is not Kobe, he certainly isn’t Michael. Not like Bird or Barkley. No Bill Russell or Magic.

    The only player I can think of who is somewhat similar is Wilt.

    • Ernie says:

      He’s most like Dr. J who lost in the finals in ’77, ’80, ’82 before winning in ’83 when they finally got Moses.

    • Jaunty Rockefeller says:

      How is he not the prototypical “carry his team on his back” player? Isn’t that just what he’s doing now, and also when he first took the Cavs to the Finals?

    • LeBron is a better all around player and a much more versatile player than all of the above. If you measure by points per game and championships then Jordan is the best. The proverbial counting stats. But only LeBron scores, defends multiple positions 1-4, passes and can be a point guard, rebounds and can be a power forward. There really has never been anyone like him.

    • MikeN says:

      I’d like to see him spot up at half court and shoot threes. How many players are willing to play fast break offense against him?

  6. It’s so Cleveland to say this, but I’m just glad to be playing in June. Golden State is a beautiful team…similar to me to the Spurs team that the Cavs lost to the last time the Cavs were in the finals. LeBron never promised to win this year. Its wonderful to have him home and his personality and leadership will live long behind his playing career in NE Ohio. He is much more than just a basketball player

  7. tim says:

    Well, the series is tied. Would love to see an upset. We shall see.

  8. jim says:


  9. Marc Schneider says:

    If Cleveland actually does win this thing, I want to know if the anti-LeBron people will at least acknowledge the accomplishment. Or maybe the new narrative will be that Golden State wasn’t really that good and Curry was overrated, so what’s the big deal. And, no, I don’t idolize LeBron James but I recognize greatness.

    • jim sola says:

      If Cleveland wins the Finals, and if Lebron keeps putting up triple-doubles while scoring 40 points, then YES, it will be considered one of the best Finals performances ever. But I think the historic-ness of Lebron’s performance would be enhanced if Golden State was playing more like they were during the season. Golden State does NOT look like a great team right now. I think San Antonio, LA Clippers and Houston would ALL have given Cleveland a better series thus far. Give Cleveland’s relentless, overly-aggressive defense some credit but Thompson/Green/Curry are simply missing shots. And the Warriors have no inside offense to compensate. Also, as good as Lebron has been, he’s been un-spectacular late in games. He took a poor shot at the end of regulation of Game 1 and had a couple TO’s, he took a poor shot at the end of regulation in Game 2 and got bailed out in OT when he missed a bad runner down 1 and Golden State got the rebound and simply had to wait to be fouled and shoot free throws to win the game. Iguodala then curiously threw it out of bounds, allowing Cleveland to miss another jumper, and to be saved by an incredible rebound by Dellavedova and 2 free throws. James made some free throws late in Game 3, but it was Golden State’s sloppiness, TO’s and missed jumpers that sealed the deal in that relatively not-close game. Obviously, tonight’s game is HUGE. The winner likely wins the series.

  10. MikeN says:

    Hey Joe, you write that Jordan broke Portland’s will with 44 points. In game 6, this ‘broken’ team had a 15 point lead going into the 4th quarter. Phil Jackson pretty much gave up on the game, but somehow the bench got them back into it.

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