Friday, June 01, 2007

Trying to Put LeBron's Game 5 Into Some Type of Context

Words are not going to do it justice. The numbers, incredible as they are, do not do it justice. LeBron's Game 5 performance was just something you had to experience first hand. No secondary source could possibly come close to conveying what LeBron James did in Detroit last night.

It was that profound.

I am tripping all over myself trying to find the right superlatives to describe K
ing James' domiance, and I suspect I am not the only one finding it damn near impossible to boil it down to one definitive phrase. It was that monumental.

One thing I won't say - and I pray to God no one else does, either - is "finally." Bron has been criticized - and I wholeheartedly include myself in this category - of not living up to his potential; in this series alone he's been hammered for everything from his decision making to the way he plays in the third quarter to his overall output.

But his Game 5 performance was more than anyone has a right to expect from any player, ever. Much, much more. In any scout or coach's most far-flung scenarios, in their wildest dreams, no player at any point in basketball history should have that type of effort expected of him.

That performance was not something you expect, let alone think possible. The only appropriate response is to marvel and talk about it in hushed, reverent tones.

LeBron exceeded every single-game expectation anyone in their right mind could possibly have set for him. He annihilated it.

Where it ranks in the pantheon of all-time great individual performances in the history of the NBA is up to much wiser people than me; I just haven't been around long enough to make a fair assessment.

The one statement I can make with absolute conviction, though, is this: What LeBron did last night was the greatest performance in the post-MJ era and the second-place finisher is so distant that it isn't worth mentioning.

25 straight points to end a game? 29 of the last 30? That is so good it is absurd. That is a different sport. And every basket was bigger than the one before it. If he wasn't taking the lead, then he was tying the game or he was cutting a deficit or he was pushing the lead to two possessions. Every single time LeBron scored, it was a must have bucket. His team needed him to do it on his own more times than is even fair and he delivered every single time.

The only game I can think of off the top of my head that I could compare it to would be the Lakers coming back from 15 down to knock off the Blazers in the Western Conference Finals. But I'll take this game over that one in a heart beat. I would much rather watch a game where it was back-and-forth with multiple lead changes and huge bucket after huge bucket - by both teams - than a game in which you could say one team just choked the game away. Throw in that performance for the ages, and its a walk.

It goes without saying that this is the defining moment, so far, of young LeBron's career (it really is hard sometimes to keep in mind that he is just 22 years old), but can you ever imagine him topping this? For that matter, can you imagine anyone topping this? I am sure his career will have accomplishments that mean more in the grand scheme of things - championships, MVPs - but as far as single games go, I can't even fathom what the man would have to do to top this.

LeBron's career still has miles to go. But if this game isn't leading of his
Sports Century twenty years from now...well, I can't wait to see the game that tops it.

Have you ever seen a guy just take the ball like that and score every single time with no regard for his teammates or the other team? I haven't. Truly, I haven't.

Drew Gooden tried to say that he was"Video Game James" because only a player made out of pixels could possibly pull off what LeBron did Thursday night. But there is no way Drew - or anyone else for that matter - ever did anything that impressive even in a video game. Thoes types of shots? Step backs? Behind the back pull ups? Fade away threes over two defenders? On that stage, with that much pressure, getting that much help from his teammates? And throw in the clutch defensive plays, his effort on the glass and his seven assists and there is just no way. No way. LeBron James is better than a video game.

This was one of those games where you will always remember where you were when you were watching it. You were acutely aware you were watching history being made as you were watching. How many games can you say that about? I'm going to be honest: that's a first for me.

And if you didn't see it live, I am sorry, but TiVo or a tape-recording or even an ESPN Classic replay is not going to capture it. I'm not being a snob or a prick; this was that surreal to watch live. If you were unlucky enough to miss it, well...I really don't know what to tell you.

You missed out on the greatest basketball performance I have ever seen in my life.

Read the Rest After the Jump...