By David Wilson
I wonder how long it will take for the Bron Bron-lovers to take off their beer goggles and see LBJ for what he’s worth – at least at this point in his career. Over at True Hoop, Henry Abbott penned a piece about James and the rumor about him being booted from the U.S. Basketball squad this past summer. Henry, in his usual smooth yet candid steezo let the King James-iacs in on a little secret: Here’s a surprising piece of news: LeBron James may have been sweating just a little. He evidently brought some unwelcome attitude to the first few days of USA Basketball training camp in Las Vegas last summer. Sources with first-hand knowledge say that it was bad enough that when the team’s managing director, Jerry Colangelo, asked the coaching staff to choose the player they’d like to cut first, three coaches are said to have offered King James’ name.
Henry ends by surmising that James must have gotten his act together because he was ultimately named as a team captain.
Not to disagree with the esteemed Mr. Abbott, but I wonder something a little different. Perhaps making James a team captain was a silent protest meant to send a pointed message to Team USA godfather, Jerry Colangelo. See, I don’t believe Bron Bron can lead his way out of a paper bag. I feel anointing James to King status before he graduated from high school has had an extremely deleterious effect on James’ attitude; in the King’s world James is the undisputed master of all he surveys. Unfortunately this is at odds with reality as illustrated by the Cavaliers’ uneven performances this season. To elucidate my point, just look at James and his team’s performance in last night’s unseemly loss to New Orleans/moonlighting in Oklahoma City.
The Cleveland LeBrons popped down to the Ok corral for a little meeting with the Hornets. NO/OK is playing without three of its top six scorers, David West, Peja Stojavovic, and Bobby Jackson. The Hornets are so scoring-challenged they asked Jannero Pargo to step up and help with the points load. We’re talking Jannero Pargo here, folks. Sure, the fine peoples of Oklahoma City held a “Chris Paul for All-Star starter” promo, with Paul as host and pregame speaker. But that shouldn’t mean that the James-aliers were going to let a run-down squad like NO/OK ruin a one-game road jaunt where they could pick up an easy but invaluable road W, right?
Bron Bron and the fellas turned in a real slice of limburger and got busted by the Hornets 95-89. They let NO/OK, a team that head coach has had to slow down to limit the possessions of the opposition to make up for his own team’s inability to score, hit them up for 95 points. Paul personally broke off Eric Snow and Damon Jones for 30-5 and 11. But that wasn’t the story. The story was the Hornets shooting a smokin’ 54.8% from the floor with 21 assists on 40 made shots. The story was Cleveland’s 42.9% field goal percentage.
But the real story was LBJ’s weak 7-for-18, 15-point performance that included a grand total of one free throw. This is LeBron James, the man players can’t help but either foul or get way out of the way when he drives to the bucket. This is the King who averages 9.7 FT attempts per game this season. This is the guy who is supposed to sense that his team is flat and, through his performance, demand that they elevate their games enough to fly home winners.
But this King, this 21st century Jordan, allowed his team to sleep walk through a game – and slept right along with them. This is the King whose team, a favorite in the Eastern Conference, has lost to Charlotte, Atlanta, Toronto, New York, and now NO/OK.
This is what happens when a King is crowned without special attention being paid as to whether he is deserving of the throne. This is what happens when 6?8? of physically-gifted man-child enters an NBA in desperate need of a single point of light to act as its beacon to the rest of the world.
James better win and win fast before the whispers grow beyond outposts like mine and into the mainstream where attention spans are short and patience last only as long as the new commercial for next big thing comes along.