Friday, June 1, 2007

One for the Ages

Enjoy this, Cavaliers fans. There will never, EVER be another game like this one. Hell, enjoy it even if you're not a Cavs fan (I don't give a damn what you think, Pistons fans) Mind you there is plenty of greatness still to come from LeBron James, but this was one of the truly unique performances in basketball history.

Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson--none of them ever did anything like what LeBron did to the Pistons last night at the Palace of Auburn Hills:

He absolutely refused to lose this game, and by scoring his team's final 25 points, by scoring 29 of the last 30, he made sure that didn't happen. Good thing too. A Cavs loss would have made a footnote of this unforgettable game.

It's not even so much that he did it, but how he did it, with a flurry of off-balance jumpers, three pointers, drives, scoops, layups, free throws and an array of demoralizing dunks. He was going to score, and there was nothing they could do to stop him, not Tayshaun Prince, not Chauncey Billups, Not Richard Hamilton. Not all of the Pistons together could keep him from putting the ball in the hole. He was checked, hacked and whacked en route to the rim on the final, game deciding drive. They needn't have bothered:

This is the same LeBron who can't finish games. The LeBron who can't hit clutch free throws. The overhyped, passive, unfocused LeBron who is supposedly more interested in making his next Nike commercial than he is winning NBA games.

I'll admit there were times when I was frustrated by his game during the regular season. I thought he should have snatched a couple of wins from lesser opponents. Now I look at what he did in the long run: 27-7-6 every night. For the playoffs it's 26-8-8. I'm an idiot. I will never doubt him again.

When the final buzzer of the second overtime sounded, the sun was up here in France. I had spent four hours watching a blurry transmission on my computer and listening to Joe Tait's broadcast. There was no point in going to bed, and I couldn't have slept anyway. My insides were buzzing, and I wasn't entirely convinced that what I saw really happened. Couldn't have. Must have been a dream, but the evidence wouldn't go away: Cavs 109, Pistons 107.

The Cavs are one win away from the NBA finals.

The hell with sleep.


PS. Cleveland has been blessed with two athletes that belong in the pantheon of all-time greats. They are Jim Brown and LeBron James. I never saw Jim Brown play. Now I know what it was like.

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