NBA Quotation Semiotics #346: Unlock Guinevere
LeBron is still in the playoffs, and somehow we've said nothing of it. Luckily, in today's Daily Dime the Recluse parked upon this god-like gem of a vignette:
With just under six minutes to play Tuesday night as the Nets and Cavs headed to their benches for a television timeout, LeBron James stopped his head coach.
"He turned to me and said he wanted the ball because he was going to win it for us," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "I said, "What if they play zone?" He said he didn't care."
So Brown went into the huddle and informed the team they would be running one play and one play only from that moment on. It was a mid-post isolation set for James on the left wing. Yes, the Nets did play zone. No, James didn't care.
The only appropriate reaction to this? For myself, the Recluse and Dr. LIC to all toil away the afternoon, poring over this fleeting instant to uncover the hidden nature of 2007 Playoffs LeBron. We may differ on the details, but in our hearts, we agree that this quote spews forth shockwaves of significance:
Shoals: What differentiates this from the usual "give me the damn ball" foolishness is that LeBron gets the situation. He's not saying "I'll be ignorant but destroy;" it's "I understand the zone and still feel it within my power to not give a fuck." You can call this coasting on natural ability, or you see a man whose natural ability has coined or assimilated all sorts of technical points. "Court vision" is one of the stiffest of all basketball cliches, and yet very rarely do we parse what it implies: that to some, smart plays come naturally. LeBron vs. zone isn't a matter of a rakish over-confidence—it's someone who drive to the hoop in a way that exploits every match-up in his path, who in addition to being mighty is also right. Before the playoffs, James scientifically altered his jumper; a man who can take that kind of care with detail is not going to overlook reason. He is going to make a cudgel of it. That is, when he's not so stuck on hoisting three's.
Dr. LIC: The more I read this quote, the more it sounds like a fabrication, like things that were not actually said, and like everyone is still trying too hard to mythologize James. But then calling it a fabrication would be making too big of a deal out of it. As if it were actually more difficult for LeBron to dominate when the Nets play zone, which it clearly isn't. Everyone knows that the way to beat a zone is to get the ball inside either through low-post passing or through dribble penetration, and penetration is exactly what 'Bron does. Plus, he doesn't have to kick it back out because there is nothing stopping him from just pulverizing people down low. The Nets' center is Mikki Moore. I heard Sasha Pavlovic knocked him over yesterday, although I missed that part of the game because my cable was fucked up. Bottom line is, get your weight up. The other bottom line is that this game reminded me that LeBron kind of rules--I just hate his team, his coach, and the playoff teams he has played against. His dominance isn't boring, and I think he is the only player in the league who could win a championship on his own.
Brown Recluse, Esquire: What Lebron's exact words were is not the issue here. The important thing is the amount of clock that was left at the time of this alleged statement: six minutes. SIX MINUTES, Dougie Fresh!
The last six minutes of an NBA playoff game can stretch into an eternity. This wasn't some, "Why wouldn't I take the last shot?" Carmelo shit, this was Lebron announcing that until he tells you otherwise, the ball is his, and he's calling all the shots from here on out. This was his coach and teammates acquiescing. And this was Lebron delivering the victory. Clearly, that's totally badass, but what bothers me about it is that Lebron rarely demonstrates that kind of bravado off the court. Like his buddy D-Wade, he's been following the Jordan model of making yourself as boring as possible to appeal to many people as you can. Remember, Republicans buy shoes, too. But, if Penny needed one Lil' Penny to make himself more interesting, what does it say that Lebron needs FOUR Lebrons? I want to get to know the real Lebron, the brash, arrogant Lebron that demands the ball and talks shit in Gil's ear. Even if this episode doesn't lead to a more authentic public Lebron, at least he's got a new nickname: The Show.