Thursday, May 04, 2006

King James? Not yet...

Much of the world is falling all over themselves in regard to the LeBron James buzzer beater over the Wizards last night. I've heard it called a "Pantheon" performance. That LeBron is truly "King James." That "King James" is playing at a Jordan-esque level. I've heard James called the best player in basketball. Better than Wade. Nowitski. Billups. Nash. (OK, I'll give you that, he's better than Nash.) Even better than Kobe Bryant. (Yes, as a charter member of the "Kobe Haters Club," he's making me eat my words with his play against the Suns. But that's another post.)

James is going to be great player, no question. But he's not there yet. Why? Defense. Did anyone anywhere see any defense being played in Quicken Arena last night? Any at all? By the Wizards or the Cavaliers? If you say yes, you are lying thru your teeth. Or delusional, which is most likely the case in Cleveland today. The 2 best players on the court, James and Gilbert Arenas, sure weren't. No one one on either team put any effort into even remotely playing a semblance of defense. Come on, defense is a 4 letter word to both the Wizards and Cavs. Neither team can play help defense, instead they play "Ole'" defense.

Thank God there are a select few that are keeping their heads. The great "Inside the NBA" crew saw the big pitcture. That degenerate gambler, Charles Barkley, God love him, was all over the defensive play of the Wizards, and the Cavs for that matter, after the game. He was absolutely flabbergasted that James was given the opportunity to catch the ball, let alone make a baseline drive. I'm sure any fan of a team that can play lockdown defense had the same thoughts as Barkley.

Sure, that last second drive to the hoop was a nice play. A hell of a shot. But does James even get the ball on the in bounds play against the Pistons? The Spurs? Miami? Dallas? The ball gets denied. If James does manage to get his hands on the ball, it's going to be in a place that good teams will funnel him. The Pistons or Spurs get him in the corner, he's trapped. He gets doubled, and has to pass off or take a very tough shot.

James never gets down the baseline, untouched, against a championship caliber team. The Wiz aren't a championship caliber team. Far from it.

You also can't forget that Gilbert Arenas (44 pts) had just as good a game as James (45 pts) on offensive end. If the Wiz win, are we raving about Arenas in the same reverential way as "King James?" I highly doubt it. That's not in the NBA approved "Script." You now the one, pimp the predesignated stars at the expense of those players and teams whom aren't endorsed by the NBA starmaking machine.

Was the game entertaining to watch? Hell, yes. Was it well played? Sure, if you like video game style basketball or layup drills. Otherwise, it was a primer on how not to win championships. You have to try and stop the other guy occasionally.

As for LeBron James? I hope that he's playing somewhere else in a couple of years, preferably in the Western Confrence. The Pistons won't want to face James in a playoff series once he grasps the fact that you need to exert effort on the defensive end. Much like Michael Jordan, LeBron James is going to have to be schooled in the playoffs by better all around teams before he can take the next step.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think effort is the problem with LeBron's defense. He puts forth effort, he's just not good right now for whatever reason, which is odd considering his athletic ability. He seems to have poor lateral movement defensively.