Since 2003, we have seen Lebron James dominate the league in his own fashion. He has drawn the comparison to many NBA Legends such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, etc. with many like myself saying that he is a combination of roughly 70 % Magic and 30% Michael.
Magic Johnson once said, “Ask not what your teammates can do for you, ask what you can do for your teammates.” In recent memory dating back to 2011, James has been able to play with great teammates such as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, and Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in Cleveland. Through these guys, he has always been able to distribute the rock, while leading his team by example. He has essentially been the antithesis of Jordan because the best version of James that we have seen has been how to get the vibe of his teammates, and how to optimize that vibe.
This style of play, consolidated with his prodigious hype, has propelled him to tremendous heights, putting him in the conversation as the greatest basketball player ever, while making him the most polarizing and scrutinized figure in sports history.
Now in the 2017-2018 season, the days of deferring to great teammates (as any great player should) are gone.
He left a debilitated and old Dwyane Wade four years ago.
Kyrie Irving shocked the world last summer by demanding a trade primarily because of James.
For the first time since the 2009-2010 season, Lebron James is completely alone.
In game two, we saw him put up 46 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists to win against the Indiana Pacers by three points.
In the first round.
Even the guys that love to hate on James can admit this: If he makes it to the Finals with this squad, that will be an accomplishment that even Jordan never proved he could do.
Deleted tweet by Kyle Kuzma during Game 2 of the Cleveland-Indiana series
I’m not trying to completely knock the guys on the team, but let’s just be honest. Kevin Love cannot create his own shot, therefore in the modern big three eras, he is naturally going to be relegated to the tertiary option. The Cavs are trying to fit him into the second option, and it’s hard to see that translate to postseason success.
The two guys who I expected to make at least marginal offensive impact: Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood- have been awful the last two games against Pacers combining for 22 points in 2 games.
I think for the first time ever, King James will have to fully channel his other 30% – the Jordan side. Last night was a wonderful display, but implausibly enough, he will have to do more. It is becoming painfully obvious that he needs to go laissez-faire on the series, by putting the team on his back and letting the rest of the team naturally take its course.
Lebron: It is time for you to put your foot on the figurative throat of the Pacers.
There is no more time for Mr. Nice Guy who wants to get his teammates involved. Let them figure it out on their own. This is a league full of grown men. We have seen you channel this in transience in the 2012 Game 6 against the Boston Celtics and the 2015 Finals against the Golden State Warriors. On both occasions you displayed your phenomenal talent, by attacking the basket with emotional intensity, making defenders respect your three balls, all while psychologically toying with the mentality of the other team, imbibing all of us with the sentiment that “Nobody can stop him.”
Yes, a breather will be required so that you won’t be too fatigued, but there has never been a physical specimen like King James. I read somewhere that Jordan had a knack for conserving energy, letting opponents use theirs up, and then taking over the game when the moment was right. Find a way to take over by scoring like you did last night, then regressing to the mean by getting others involved and conserving your energy before taking over in the end.
I believe the chips will fall where they may. BJ Armstrong, one of the early teammates of Jordan found it difficult to play with him initially because Jordan demanded so much of his “mortal” teammates. Armstrong searched for books on genius, hoping it would help him learn how to play with MJ. Same goes here. The rest of the guys on the Cleveland Cavaliers squad will have to figure it out as the playoffs go on.
It’s time for James to validate the debate that he is the greatest player ever. Jordan did not get out of the first round without Scottie Pippen, losing three years in a row prior to the 1987 NBA season, in which Pippen was drafted.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
I believe that combined with the tertiary scoring option of Kevin Love, he can at least will the Cavs to the NBA Finals, showing all of us how transcendent he is.
But it will require every ounce of intangible basketball greatness that James has in his body.
It’s your move King.
Image courtesy of USA Today
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