Tuesday, June 05, 2007

NBA Finals not over... Oh yes, they are!

Cleveland got exactly what it needed out of LeBron James, and out of the Pistons to get to the NBA Finals. Also, it's all Chris Webber's fault.

If the Pistons had any killer instinct, they would've grabbed one of the game 3 or 4 in Cleveland. But they didn't. They still weren't worried, figuring they'd turn it on for game 5 at home.

But LeBron had the game of his life thus far, scoring 29 of the Cavs last 30 points, and 48 overall. Let's bracket this performance before we get excited about whether he's the best ever.

The Pistons needed to do what the '94 Knicks did. Go into a scrappy underdog's arena, hang with them until the fourth quarter, and then put the clamps on for the big road win. And they seemed to be doing it until the fourth quarter. Down 1 point to start the fourth quarter, the Pistons got backhanded by rookie Daniel Gibson, who seemingly couldn't miss, and they folded up and went home.

If I'm to criticize one player, it'll be Chris Webber. And it's not for his performance, because he played fine throughout the series, if not exactly dominating. But everywhere Webber goes, he seems to bring a laid-back attitude and real lack of killer instinct. Maybe he had some bad luck while with the Kings, but I gotta think all these disappointing teams (Bullets/Wizards, Warriors, Sixers, and now the Pistons) had him in common. And if there was one thing that hung the Pistons, it was just lack of a killer instinct.

Returning to the discussion of whether LeBron is the best ever ("OMG, he's so much better than Jordan than Jordan at this age"), I'd like to remind everyone that Jordan hit the game-winning shot for a NCAA championship his freshman year of college, left for the NBA a year early, and then in his second year in which only played eighteen games, meaning that he essentially had only one year of NBA experience, he dropped 64 points in a playoff game on one of the greatest teams ever! Those Bulls only won 30 games and were in the playoffs.

Let's compare this achievement vs. Lebron:
Jordan was one year older than LeBron but had 3 less years of NBA experience.
Jordan's team won 30 games and had the 8th seed.
LeBron's team won 50 games and had the 2nd seed.

Jordan was facing one the consensus Greatest teams of all times.
LeBron was facing a weaker version of a team that didn't make the NBA Finals last season.

Jordan's team lost in OT, while LeBron's won in double OT.

Don't get me wrong, it was a great performance, but I think it's more akin to Reggie Miller's 25-point fourth quarter against the Knicks in '94 (also a win for the road team). And it's great that LeBron's figuring out when he needs to be great for his team to win, but he's going to have show a lot more greatness, on a very consistent level for years to come, before he's on Jordan's level. There's greatness, and then there's greatness on Bill Russell or Michael Jordan's level. And very few players are there. Additionally, I've had just about enough raving of LeBron's vaunted passing. It's very good, but Magic Johnson he ain't. And certain columnists who stupidly posit that "Jordan doesn't see that pass" clearly don't remember Michael Jordan, and ought to be smacked.

Cleveland's about to find out what a champion looks like. Hopefully LeBron will file these losses away and figure out how to be one himself someday.

Spurs in six.


Post a Comment

<< Home