By Craig Kwasniewski
Still weeks away from the start of the NBA Finals and the "LeBron is GOD!!!" media
blowjob bandwagon has now reached convoy proportions. I've read and heard stories about LeBron dominating the NBA for the next decade, LeBron surpassing Kobe as the best player in the NBA, LeBron dominating the NBA marketing machine and LeBron curing SARS, the Bird Flu and the West Nile Virus (and all other Fox News fear mongering diseases).
This is what happens when you have something like 27 days between the conference finals and the The Finals. With the Spurs (a bunch of flopping, nice guys who all get along) facing Cleveland (a crappy roster led by a top-five baller who got a first and second round bye in the playoffs) there's really nothing much to write about. So instead of waxing poetic about the flop-off between Anderson Varejao and Manu Gynobili, the media's left scrambling for any kind of storyline. Basically we're left with non-stop overblown LeBron James hyperbole. (Remember how people were saying Manu Gynobili was one of the best players in the NBA after having a few good games in the 2005 NBA Finals? Well, it's the same thing, but magnified because We're All Witnesses.)
Here's some of my thoughts about all the hype:
Game Five was *NOT* the Greatest Game Ever! Before all the LBJ fans start calling me a hater, LeBron's performance in Game 5 was awesome. As I wrote a few days ago, "This was one of those games that takes the quotes out of the word "superstar" separating the great from the anointed/promoted greats."
But how great of a game is it if the opposing team plays ZERO defense? Here's the top three problems (of many) that I saw in Detroit's "defensive scheme":
1. The Pistons didn't double LeBron as he dribbled the ball up court. When Kobe was dropping 50 points a game, opposing defenses started triple teaming him has he crossed the halfcourt line, daring Kobe to pass the ball to wide open teammates. Detroit needed to do something similar, especially with LeBron's court vision and un-Kobe-like trust in his teammates.
2. The Pistons were horrible on their defensive switches. How else can you explain Jason Maxiell guarding LeBron from the top of the key with less that two minutes left and no help defense? (I'm talking to you Mr. Big Shot!)
3. Finally, the Pistons forgot how to close off the lane when LeBron penetrated. In fact, the artist formerly known as Tayshaun Prince literally sprinted out of the way as LeBron drove the lane. You're telling me that Prince was more concerned with being YouTube-ized than to make a key defensive stop in the most important game of the Eastern Conference Finals?
Well Tayshaun, you still ended up on YouTube. Here's the Top Five Plays from Game 5. Three of them show LeBron penetrating the lane for uncontested dunks. The fourth play shows Prince sprinting out the lane as though LeBron's carrying a bomb. Possible the worst defensive moment in Prince's career:
That three pointer to tie the game (play #2) was flat out sick! But with three of the top five plays happening against ZERO defense, how is this game one of the greatest games in playoff history? MJ, Wade, Kobe, Iverson, Magic, Bird, etc. can also have one of the greatest games in playoff history against zero defense. Let's give LeBron his moment, but let's not get carried away with what Game 5 was... the best single effort in one of the least compelling post seasons in NBA history.
The LeBron IV's are not flying off the shelves. Despite the fact that We're All Witnesses, we're *NOT* witnessing the LeBron IV's on our feet. I don't have the sale figures in front of me, but I do know what I see. I've been to the Nike outlet store in Camarillo twice in the past 6 weeks and both times I've seen the LeBron IV's in all sizes selling for less than $90 (they retail for $149.99). In fact, you can get a pair for $119.99 at eastbay.com.
Stop the whole LeBron-Kobe comparisons! The local media out here in LA has been arguing that LeBron is better than Kobe because he took a less talented team to the NBA Finals. Hogwash I say! Seriously, this argument is giving me a headache. First off, the Cavs truly got a first round bye when they faced the Wizards without their two best players in Gil-Zero and Caron Butler. Whereas the Lakers faced off against Phoenix, one of the top three teams this year.
LeBron could have had 35-8-8 every game against Phoenix and the Cavs would still lose in five.
Let's look at the staring five of both teams. The Lakers started Jordan Farmar (a rookie), Luke Walton (with genetically damaged ankles, he's Bill Walton's son for crissake), Lamar Odom (torn shoulder, injured knee, league rule prevents him from hitting the bong) and Kwame Brown (as my friend Matt says, "Has ass-cheeks for hands")... you're telling me that LeBron would do better with those four? The Cavs start Sasha Pavlovic, Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden and Ilgauskas (two-time NBA All-Star!!!)... possibly one of the worst starting five for the Finals, but still better than the Lakers.
Both players are great, but given that there's a high number of Kobe Bryant detractors, there will always be a huge support of the whole "(insert hot NBA star player here) is better than Kobe Bryant" talk. You had it last year with Wade and you'll hear it again with someone else.
What I'm saying is, this lame sportstalk radio topic simply exists because we have way too much time to kill before the NBA Finals start (which I believe is 4th of July weekend). Stick to more important topics, like Lindsay Lohan's spiraling career or Britney Spears' cottage cheese ass.
Until then, check out another photo of the Pistons *NOT* guarding the lane: