NBA Discussion; Let’s Talk about LeBron James – 19th Jan 2017

LeBron James is without a doubt the greatest player of our generation, second of all-time only to Michael Jordan. LBJ is this huge, machine of a man with one of the best basketball brains you’ll ever see. He can clearly play well in all 5 positions due to his perfect size and build, but is most suited to that Point Forward role in the Cleveland Cavaliers line-up. There’s not many things that man can’t do in a basketball court, and what he lacks in a jump shot ability, he makes up for in extreme athleticism and unique passing ability for someone his size. LBJ is known for making his teammates better in almost every aspect of their play, leading his teams to the finals for 7 straight years. But I personally feel that he hasn’t been performing to his usual standards this season, and that doesn’t bode well for a Cavaliers team faced with the challenge of being the NBA’s main hope for taking down the Golden State Warriors. I’ll use Monday night’s Cavs vs. Warriors game as an example.

I’ll take you back to the 2016 NBA Finals, Game 5 more specifically. Warriors were holding a 3-1 lead over the Cavs in a very one-sided series. But you ever heard the phrase, “don’t poke the bear?” Well that’s exactly what Draymond Green did when he hit LeBron under the belt. In the first 4 games, LeBron was virtually invisible on a struggling Cavs team, with Kyrie taking the reigns as leading scorer. But when Draymond hit LBJ, he awoke the beast inside The King, released a fire in him that we hadn’t seen in The Finals. LeBron was mad, he started playing like the aggressive machine we’d been so used to seeing, attacking the basket and demanding the ball at all times. And we all remember The Block? One of the craziest defensive plays in NBA history. Well that wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Draymond’s ridiculous foul. Now, back to the present, well Monday night. LeBron put up his weakest performance all season against the Warriors who were having an extremely hot night from the field. He was weak going to the basket, struggled to carry the ball in a 6 turnover performance, and was unable to show-up on this generations biggest rivalry, despite LBJ refusing to call it that. But this was only game. There’s one moment in that game that really caught my attention, one which instantly sent my mind back to Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals, and you all know which moment I’m talking about.

Draymond Green pulled off one of the biggest boneheaded moves I’ve ever seen, in what others would call a “smart foul.” While James was running the ball up on a fastbreak, Green did ran into LeBron from the side, knocking him to the floor. I know, believe me I know, LeBron flopped in this incredibly dramatic performance of acting, I mean look at the guy, if LeBron James doesn’t want to be moved, he will NOT be moved. But that’s beside the point. Green obviously has no recollection of last years Finals after he hit LBJ the first time, so decided he would not only knock LeBron to the floor once again, but then choose to taunt The King after in a flailing dance to the crowd, metaphorically poking the bear. And while LeBron did not show up in that game against Golden State after Green’s flagrant, I do have a sneaking suspicion that foul will come back to bite the Warriors come June, in what is either the bravest or most stupid play in recent history. It’s clear that Draymond doesn’t fear LeBron, perhaps he fails to recognise what LBJ is capable of when he’s pissed off, but I do know that he’d ought to be afraid of The King, because we’ve all seen what happens when LeBron’s mad, and the collective Warriors squad should be top of the list of people to fear LBJ, if the 2016 Finals are any indication of his ability to ruin a team. But while I feel LeBron can be the player to take the Warriors, if there is anybody that can take them down it’s him and his Cavs, he needs to step up his recent performances if he wants to achieve this and bring the title home to Cleveland for the second straight year.

I personally feel that LBJ isn’t having an MVP performance this season, at least not yet anyway. I mean don’t get me wrong, he’d be having a great season if he were someone else, on a different team, boasting 26 PPG, 8 RPG and 8 APG is no easy feat for a normal player, but LeBron isn’t a normal player. I understand that he’s getting older now and is losing some of his athleticism as age becomes a factor in his play, and his jump shot is certainly improving, bringing his career FG% up to 38% this year. But look at players like Russel Westbrook and James Harden, who are carrying weak squads to the playoffs as well as boasting a triple double on a more than rare occasion, I mean, Westbrook’s averaging a triple double for Christ’s sake. It’s easy to argue that LeBron can’t fill his stats as much as Westbrook and Harden because he’s on a team with players like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, who are also “stat sheet stuffers “, but that hasn’t stopped him before. Last year I felt that LeBron should’ve won the MVP award over Curry in terms of individual play, but Curry’s Warriors holding a 73-9 record in the league obviously helped his votes, aside from the fact that he did have freak-like outbreak of a season in terms of shooting the ball. So what’s stopping LBJ from going for another MVP award as a Cavalier, and bringing the title home for a second time. We all know he could do it, and I know I definitely want to see LeBron get another award before he inevitably hangs up his boots and retires. Although it’s going to take a hell of an effort to knock my man Harden from his podium as leading go-getter for this years MVP award, but we all know if anyone’s going to do it, it’s going to be The King.

 

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