The Night LeBron James Turned Into A Man

Last night I sat on the edge of my couch as I watched the most riveting personal display of basketball dominance since Michael Jordan ripped the hearts out of Karl Malone, John Stockton and Utah Jazz fans across the world during the now infamous “Sick Game” during the 1997 NBA Finals.

After tossing and turning in my bed for a couple hours following the game – sleep just wouldn’t come as I was too excited about what I just witnessed – I then spent the majority of today mulling over what I just watched transpire. As much as I would like to praise LeBron for his epic performance I have to admit that I’m getting a horrible case of writer’s block and I’m struggling to express the awe and amazement I have at watching LeBron James score the last 25 points for Cleveland and 29 of their last 30 points. Sure, watching Jordan explode for 38 points while playing 44 minutes which fighting a nasty flu is impressive but I think watching James lean his head against Drew Gooden last night during double overtime is at least comparable. C’mon, are you trying to tell me that watching James last night didn’t give you shivers the same way watching Jordan during the ’97 NBA Finals did? I still get goose bumps sprouting on my arm when I think about the game last night.

All through high school I admired Jordan so watching him torch Utah was an event that I soaked up with glee. Lebron, on the other hand, has become a player that I’ve loved to jeer. He’s the kid who has been a celebrity since he was in high school, the player to whom the basketball universe seemed predestined to get handed over to, and I gotta’ admit that I’ve resented him for this.

Last night was just the kind of game I needed from LeBron to get over this hostility and start being to appreciate him for the talented player that he is.

Last night he matured past being just hype and a supreme physical specimen into one of the game’s premium talents. Much like what happened last season for Dwyane Wade when he captured basketball fans attention and love when he helped Miami win a championship, LeBron now started to move away from being a blue chip prospect to an actual player in this league. Some fans will read this last paragraph and scoff because of the stats that LeBron’s put up in his career but I’m a firm believer that reputations are built or tarnished in the playoffs. Stats are great and can help build a player’s rup but any player can post gaudy stats – just look at Shareer Abdur-Rahim’s career.

Back when LeBron was drafted there was talk about James and Carmelo Anthony becoming the next Bird and Magic – could Wade, James and Chris Bosh form a trio that battles it out for Eastern Conference supremacy for the next decade?

As a Raptors fan I sure hope so.

Despite being a “hater” for the majority of his career, last night helped start to turn to the tide for me and today I found myself hoping for another decade of inspired performances like we witnessed last night and deep runs into the playoffs by King James.

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7 thoughts on “The Night LeBron James Turned Into A Man

  1. He finally earned his crown. That’s all it comes down to. There are those that have earned their crown from battles, and there are those who have been handed crowns, simply because there was no one else around. In that one game, he managed to finally prove to everyone why he’s the king. Like you, I’ve been a LeBron hater for a long time. I could never understand why Cleveland was so highly touted. But with a Playoffs that was so mired in controversy and “non ideal teams” playing each other (and quite frankly, a lot of uninteresting games), LeBron took the opportunity and made a name for himself. He took the perfect time to become THE story of the playoffs.

    The question is, how many of these types of games does he have in him? Jordan had many during his career, Kobe’s had a few, so it’ll be interesting to see how many he can amass in his career. This is just number one. 🙂

  2. Hold up Kinnon, I don’t think one strong game means he finally earned his crown, even D Wade had to win a Championship before he was handed his status as an elite player. I am willing to agree that last night was a strong step towards LBJ becoming an elite player, but I don’t feel he’s quite there yet. To me this is similar to MJ scoring six straight 3’s against Portland – it’s one of the steps along the way to building his mystique/legend.

    I couldn’t agree with you more about LeBron picking a perfect time to step up and make himself the story of a playoffs shrouded in doom and gloom. Fans have been itching for a reason to get excited but with ref issues and suspensions most fans have gotten bitter instead of excited. Personally, I would have liked to see the Cavs lose to NJ in the second round but the emergence of “Boobie” Gibson and LBJ have been great to watch in the ECF.

    Another great point when you asked how many games he has in him as even D Wade would have him beat so far…

  3. The thing about this years playoffs is that nobody seems to be happy, or pleased with the quality of basketball that’s being played. Thursday’s game was mind blowing, but hardly the first exciting ame of this series. I’ll admit to not watching a single WCF matchup, but I haven’t been this addicted to watching my ‘Stons playing in a long time.

    As much as I would love for Detroit to make a comeback and qualify for the Finals, even if they don’t I’ll be tuning in to ABC to watch LeBron James give his best shot at the best team in the NBA.

    The Cavs are no longer just one of those Eastern Conference contenders, they are one of those teams where you’re like “oh crap, they actually might win it”

    I am so excited about tonight, and if Detroit loses I think I might try and start a riot.

  4. I don’t get why people haven’t been happy with these playoffs – GS knocked out the team I loathe (Dallas), Phoenix and SA had a great series (even with the controversy), Utah has shocked me with how well Jerry Sloan had the “kiddies” battling and LeBron James big game this week was the icing on the cake. Like any sport there are some things the Commish could probably tweak but I think this has been the most entertaining NBA playoffs I’ve followed since I was in high school and the Bulls were winning Championships with MJ leading the way.

    Here’s what I don’t get, how has Cleveland advanced as far as they have? They played horribly against an injury ravaged Washington squad and did just enough to win those games, against New Jersey I pegged them as losing but somehow they got it down and now they could have lost four straight to Detroit but they’ve gutted it down. Plus, when you look at their roster it’s clear that LeBron’s rag tag supporting cast is suspect at best – if you were to take King James off that roster they wouldn’t even sniff at the playoffs (as show by LBJ needing to score 29 of their last 30 points). They don’t have a dominant lowpost option, they are lacking a solid floor general (Hughes and Gibson had done just enough to get the wins) and they don’t have a consistent second scoring option (Sasha and Hughes aren’t reliable enough in my books). The two things they have going for them are the great team defense Mike Brown has them playing and a start player evolving into a superstar in front of our eyes. Last year Nike started the lame “Witness” campaign a year too early but this year we’re actually being treated to James ascend as one of the top young stars in the league.

    A riot at Brock University? I see some things haven’t changed since I graduated a couple years ago…

  5. Detroit is not good, but they are a perennial East contender due to their lack of equals…Flip Saunders is not a good coach either, and it shows in moments when Detroit needs to find a shooter, make a shot, miss and then cry foul…the Pistons are not tough as nails down the stretch anymore and we are seeing a superstar and an average team take it to the them…

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