It's Here





At 5/14/2010 1:10 AM, Blogger americanmidwestsamurai said...

Wilt Chamberlain without the chains (of being black and 7 feet tall in the 60's and 70's).

This is LeBron. I don't believe his career will suffer from the same tragic circumstance, but there's something to be said about why Wilt only had 1 title and why LeBron's career trajectory has yet to break from his predecessors.

For Wilt it was alienation. For LeBron it's exuberance. But what I believe they may share is the proportion between the physical and the metaphysical that make them who they are.

At 5/14/2010 1:15 AM, Blogger Aron said...

this may sound strange....but i generally feel the same. empty. has a future been lost?

At 5/14/2010 1:34 AM, Blogger Jacob said...

it should not have ended that way...lebron always cared, thats what made him special.
this was not right

At 5/14/2010 2:54 AM, Blogger Scott said...

But does he inspire his team to care in that same way, so that they become extensions of his own ambition and ability?

He may need a coach or teammate that he does not yet have to actualize this. Who may be a good compliment? Even with Wade or Bosh, they won't transcend their abilities as parts unless they have a unifying spirit.

Maybe this means Riley coaching him and Wade in Miami, since he has a track record of controlling stars and (with Wade) can give the shellshocked LBJ assurances about being a winner, but that is an old formula and seems kind of dull. I'd prefer novel changes in thought and personality (taking a chance with SSOL in NY or whatever vague promises come from the Nets, for instance), but would such a great player risk their legacy with an unknown quantity? As a player, he may be too old and too great for inviting novelty at this point.

It will be interesting to see how confident he is in his power to create his own legacy.

Anyway, now for some pretextless basketball. Just good teams trying to make it happen this year. I'd love for everyone to discuss the politics over the next four days and then stop, sit back and enjoy some dynamic, unique teams trying to win a championship in 2010.

At 5/14/2010 9:10 AM, Blogger Freddie said...

As a lifelong Bulls fan, here comes several months of conflicted feelings.

No matter what, I'll feel terrible for Cavs fans if he leaves.

At 5/14/2010 12:37 PM, Blogger John Ashbery said...

Scott -I think your question is dead on. Does he inspire his team to care? No.

I no the analogy fails, but consider that Kobe has everyone considering his game and his team from his own perspective. Everyone is brought to see things as he does, to value his teammates as he does, to praise them, to critisize them when he thinks he needs to (like people seem to think garnett does, but garnett doesn't ever seem to say smart things about basketball and did you see the expression on the face of glen davis when garnet was getting after him last night? Vacant.) It might be a kind of breaking down the 4th wall diplomacy that Kobe has learned from Phil, but strangely Kobe has been less dickish than Phil recently.

What you get from Lebron is encouragement to love Lebron like he does. He then he'll tell you, 'hey, I love my teammates man.'

At 5/14/2010 12:51 PM, Blogger John Ashbery said...

"But that might be because of how we've cast James: he is, to some degree, super-human, if not inhuman. James has powers that either came from a laboratory, outer space, or a deal with the devil. No, scratch that last one. It has too much heart in it." Yeah. Perfect.

At 5/14/2010 1:12 PM, Blogger jza said...

To get to 'that' level. The Jordan/Kobe level. You've gotta be a sociopath. And I don't think LeBron is a sociopath. Seems like a pretty balanced dude.

Gotta be a little (or maybe a lot) crazy to get to that level.

Maybe on an off year someone can win a title without being a grade-A megalomaniac, but to dominate the NBA, it's all or nothing.

At 5/14/2010 2:18 PM, Blogger Josh said...

Eh, is Duncan a grade-A megalomaniac? Is Shaq? (well, maybe) The closest I've seen someone come to winning a title on their own was Wade in 2006. Was he a grade-A megalomaniac? All I'm convinced of is that to win an NBA title, you need a good second scorer, good team defense, and a little bit of good luck. (And Kobe has never dominated the NBA.)

At 5/14/2010 2:51 PM, Blogger Danny Bowes said...

I don't know if this makes me a bad person, but this may be the funniest thing you've ever posted, Shoals.

At 5/14/2010 3:40 PM, Blogger The Nextian said...

LeBron has never been challenged the way he will be from this day forth. This chink in his incredible armour will only fuel his laser focus on destroying the league in years to come. I care less about his next team. I care more about "witness"-ing his Jordan-esq focus going forward. Shall be incredible. And that's totally FreeDarko if I do say so myself.

At 5/15/2010 5:08 PM, Blogger Justin said...

You really think he has "laser focus?" I think he has broad-spectrum hazy focus that shows up in grand bursts of genius and then disappears for equally vast stretches wherein he coasts on his abilities as an android. Remember, this is the guy who had to see Kobe working out at 5:30 AM in preparation for the Olympics to realize that real, sustainable winning takes dedication and work. Nobody who has to be shown that after half a decade in the league should be described as having "laser focus". Nobody whose staged pre-game jokes and exhibitions seem to have as much forethought and intensity as his actual on-court performance should be described as having "laser focus". To that point, I'd say he needs to absorb this moment - perhaps the last crushing and humiliating defeat in a 5-year series of Almosts - and to internalize it to a level of self-doubt and resultant determination before we see anything approaching "laser focus".

I hope for the sake of the league and its story arcs that he does find that focus, but I'm not so sure it's a guaranteed thing.

At 5/16/2010 12:14 AM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

I have been pondering this theory about LeBron since basically his first year in the league. Some might recall that, even then, people thought he sometimes seemed hesitant and wondered about the odd way that he watched the games while he was on the bench.

We think of Kobe as perhaps the great analyst-player in the game, but I've wondered whether LeBron is his equal, though different and mal-developed. I have for years looked at him in the middle of a game and been struck by the thought that I was watching a man observing and thinking. We watchers of sport expect to see athletes just doing and acting, responding with immediacy based upon analysis already done. But LeBron I've often thought is watching the game as it happens, storing things away for later. Sometimes he figures it out in the course of that game. Sometimes he needs until later in the season. And sometimes it takes him a summer. As a result, if someone can throw an interesting problem at him, he responds by trying to figure it out, rather than simply bullying through it based on what he already knows.

And so I wonder if Thibodeau threw some wrinkle at LBJ that he couldn't figure out. Or if he found some weakness in his teammates or his coaches that he couldn't puzzle through. Or if playing with a significant injury for the first time presented a problem that he couldn't solve in time.

If that is true, then it may be the thing that holds him back forever if he cannot overcome himself.

But I also think a significant failure in this bizarre post-season is Dan Gilbert's. It seems to me that most of the title winners since the 80s have benefitted by their organizations surrounding them with greatness, either in the form of mentoring teammates, former players, or coaches. MJ had Phil and Tex, TD had Robinson and Pop, Shaq and Kobe had, well, too many to make it worth naming. Even KG had Kevin McHale. Etc.

Who has LeBron had as a teacher who was great? Does anyone believe that anyone associated with Cavs organization knows how to help him solve problems? Obviously, he needed to take responsibility for finding those people himself, but it's not like Danny Ferry or Mike Brown were going to help.

The example of him learning from Kobe during the summer about how much work he needed to put in to improve his game doesn't seem to me like evidence of an absence of focus. It strikes me instead as an example of how a solver of the particular problems of sport sometimes (maybe even often) needing equals to show him the path.

To try to bring this back where I started, I wonder whether, if LBJ had had proper teachers, his development would have included two things: greater ability to solve the problems presented by others quickly and greater ability to discern when to ignore those puzzles and figure out how to impose what you already know how to do on the other guy.

As much as anything, that's why I hope he leaves the Cavs and goes to an organization that has at least a few legends. I want to see LeBron actualize everything, and I don't believe that he can do that in the solitude that the Cleveland organization provides him.

Shorter me: hamartia.

wv: gamers

At 5/18/2010 9:43 AM, Blogger Justin said...

The part about needing an equal to guide a path makes sense. I've been thinking it over for a bit now and I suppose it would be hard for LeBron to have a student's supplication to mastery without ever having been a student - or at the very least without ever having had a master.

But I don't think that mitigates the notion of a lack of focus. If anything, it almost reinforces it. A problem solver he may be but he's nonetheless a gifted-underachiever in a sense because he hasn't fully harnessed those skills and realized his goals. The missing link in the process is the focus itself, which he may well have thrown a lasso around through this process. All I'm saying is that with Kobe, it's obvious that even when he's being a dick just to make a point, it's a purposeful act. I don't always see purpose from James and that's what may keep him from the mountaintop. That and Donyell Marshall.


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