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View Full Version : Rick Reilly: Lebron James playing as big as ever in NBA Finals



ShiroRX
06-07-2011, 12:49 PM
You wonder sometimes, what kind of mushrooms people are eating.

A reporter the other day asked LeBron James if he's "shrinking" in the fourth quarter of these NBA Finals.

True, James has scored only nine points in the three fourth quarters so far.

AND ... ?

If anything, the way James is playing has only made him double in greatness. James' legend isn't shrinking, it's swelling up like a Macy's float.

I'm the last guy that wants to write a glowing column about LeBron James. I hate how he conspired to get to Miami, hate how he took a short cut to a ring. But you'd have to be visually impaired not to see that James is playing gorgeous, selfless, complete basketball.

He is defending first, passing next, screening third, and shooting fourth. The man had nine assists in Game 3! If anything is shrinking, it's whichever poor Dallas Maverick he's guarding. Have you seen the line on the Mavs' No. 2-scoring option, Jason Terry, in the Finals? Thirty-eight percent shooting, four 3-pointers, total, and no buckets in five tries in the final quarter vs. TCO (The Chosen One). James has been on him like scales on a flounder. Terry has to leave the building just to get a full breath.

Eventually, LeBron James is going to win enough rings to start a pawn shop. He may win them by scoring like Wilt. He may win them by passing like Magic. He may win them by defending like Russell. What's your point? Aren't they all shiny?

Michael Jordan won his fifth ring when a 6-foot-3 guard named Steve Kerr made a jumper. You know who got the assist? Jordan. Was that shrinkage? Do you get an extra ring for scoring the most points?

Even Dwyane Wade admits that it's James' team in crunch time.

"He makes the decisions for our team," Wade explained last week. "Whether he wants to shoot or whether he wants to pass. ... He's a great player. He's 6-8, he can see over the defense and he's a great passer. ... Normally I was the guy here in Miami. At the end of games I always had the ball in my hand. So it took me time to get comfortable with that and get comfortable with saying, 'All right, LeBron, you take it.' ... Yesterday, Coach called a play in the huddle for LeBron. He wound up saying, 'No, I want D-Wade to have it right here.'"

By the way, Wade wound up lobbing to The King for a flush on that play.

Besides, statistically, James is a better clutch player than Wade anyway. According to Chasing23.com, James has made "nearly twice as many crunch time baskets [and] shot nearly 10 percent higher in FG" in crunch time in playoff games.

Instead, James is making me-last decisions. Double-teamed with just seconds left in the loser-lays-awake-all-night Game 3, he threw a beautiful corner-of-the-eye, side-wing pass to a wide open Chris Bosh for the winning jumper. Then, at the other end, he clamped down on Terry so hard that Terry -- a pure outside-only shooter -- found himself in a clump under the basket.

People who only care about "points scored" in a box score are the same kind of people who think the waiter made the soufflé.

My god, what's James supposed to do? Dunk from the bus? This is a man who averaged 38 points a game in an Eastern Conference finals vs. Orlando and lost. He's relishing a new role.

"LeBron don't have to score to be effective," is how Wade put it Monday.

Does James feel like he can't win?

"No, I did win," he says with a grin. "We won. That's all that it's about."

James told the "shrinkage" guy he was only looking at one side of the floor, only looking at the stat sheet. He's right. The stat sheet is just the problem. James is so ridonkulously talented that we need to come up with new stats for him. For instance:

• SPU -- Shots Passed Up ... by the man you're guarding because that man knows you're a 6-8, 265-pound freak who can move like a tornado and jump like a Calaveras County frog and would've knocked his shot into the mezzanine.

• PNT -- Possessions with No Touches ... by the man you're guarding, because that man knows you're going to make him look like Elton John's sister if he asks for the ball.

• LOB -- Minutes the player you're guarding is left on the bench (Players' Decision.)

So, just to recap, LeBron James is:

A. Really, really good at passing (no forward in history has ever averaged more assists, including Larry Bird).

B. Really, really good under pressure in these playoffs (Remember? In Game 4 against Boston, he scored 11 of the Heat's last 13 in regulation; Game 5 against Boston, Miami's last 10; Game 2 against Chicago, nine of the last 12).

C. Really, really bad at one-hour ESPN specials. I get being angry at him for that. I get being torqued at him for ganging up with two of the other top 10 players in the league and crushing all the uncoordinated kids on the playground.

But ripping him for playing beautiful basketball?

That's so dense, light can't escape it.

Who cares about being Jordan. As a Heat fan, I'll take a player somewhere between Jordan and Magic. Wholly unique.

mikealike305
06-07-2011, 01:06 PM
good article

BigBlueCrew
06-07-2011, 01:16 PM
awww how sweet of Dwayne Wade

as for Rick Reilly did he just pull some acronyms out or his rear? shot passed up? possessions with no touches? yeah I used to do that too when I was on the playground, but that was because I couldn't shoot for squat.

Young and Stupid
06-07-2011, 01:23 PM
I think if you just isolate this quote:


Yesterday, Coach called a play in the huddle for LeBron. He wound up saying, 'No, I want D-Wade to have it right here.

You can get the core of the controversy that is LeBron James. To me, that's a big part of what makes LeBron the best player in the NBA. He's unselfish, he's extremely versatile and he's doing whatever it takes to win. For (many) others, that shows LeBron's weakness -- he doesn't want the spotlight; he wants to be Robin; he can't handle the pressure; and the proverbial "he's not Michael Jordan."

I think we find that many are measuring James against Michael Jordan because he's the consensus greatest player of all-time. People -- myself included -- believe that LeBron can become the greatest of all-time; as a result, they feel that they must compare James to Jordan. Jordan was a guy who always wanted the ball and was less apt to defer (although he did pass the ball off to the likes of Steve Kerr and Ron Harper for big shots), so people feel that LeBron should be the same way.

It's doltish, but understandable. It just comes down to a difference in philosophy. I want my star-player to make the play that gives the team the best chance to win -- whether that be passing to the open man in the closing seconds or creating his own shot. I'm of the belief that much of the hate that is directed at LeBron James results from people's disappointment that he'll never have Jordan's mindset. The way I look at it, winning trumps everything.

LeBron James will likely be the greatest player to ever play the game. The question is if people will be willing to accept him as such.

Master Mind
06-07-2011, 01:23 PM
If Magic Johnson and Dominique Wilkins had a baby it would be Lebron James...I've always said he was a hybrid between those two...:shrug:

AlexTmz2
06-07-2011, 01:27 PM
If Magic Johnson and Dominique Wilkins had a baby it would be Lebron James...I've always said he was a hybrid between those two...:shrug:

Niceee

godolphins
06-07-2011, 01:38 PM
Good article :clap:

justinnum1
06-07-2011, 01:44 PM
very nice

koreancabbage
06-07-2011, 01:46 PM
wow, everything i wanted to say but didn't know which order to put it in. lol

that's why he's paid to write and i'm here talking about his article.

its redonkulous for all the criticism he gets for WHATEVER he does.

looks like a really good material for a good commercial spot. motivation to become one of the best.

2-15's4-22's
06-07-2011, 02:19 PM
nice article

NYtilIdie
06-07-2011, 02:20 PM
I think if you just isolate this quote:



You can get the core of the controversy that is LeBron James. To me, that's a big part of what makes LeBron the best player in the NBA. He's unselfish, he's extremely versatile and he's doing whatever it takes to win. For (many) others, that shows LeBron's weakness -- he doesn't want the spotlight; he wants to be Robin; he can't handle the pressure; and the proverbial "he's not Michael Jordan."

I think we find that many are measuring James against Michael Jordan because he's the consensus greatest player of all-time. People -- myself included -- believe that LeBron can become the greatest of all-time; as a result, they feel that they must compare James to Jordan. Jordan was a guy who always wanted the ball and was less apt to defer (although he did pass the ball off to the likes of Steve Kerr and Ron Harper for big shots), so people feel that LeBron should be the same way.

It's doltish, but understandable. It just comes down to a difference in philosophy. I want my star-player to make the play that gives the team the best chance to win -- whether that be passing to the open man in the closing seconds or creating his own shot. I'm of the belief that much of the hate that is directed at LeBron James results from people's disappointment that he'll never have Jordan's mindset. The way I look at it, winning trumps everything.

LeBron James will likely be the greatest player to ever play the game. The question is if people will be willing to accept him as such.

Remember when the Heat played the Thunder and Lebron had an open 3 to put the Heat up by 1 and instead he passed it off to Eddie House who also had an open 3, which Eddie hit and the Heat went on to win, but people were saying Lebron wasn't clutch because he passed on the shot.

A true superstar isn't all about stats, he's all about wins like you said. Thats why Lebron is happy with the way he's played so far in The Finals and isn't mad that Wade is averaging more PPG.

This was a great article written by Reilly who was once a hater of Lebron.

2-15's4-22's
06-07-2011, 02:21 PM
media and most people on here remind me of those annoying people in the adjustment bureau its like they want LBJ to be somebody he is not and lbj just wants to win

wjmoffatt
06-07-2011, 02:53 PM
I'm sorry but that reporter is right, his shrinking! You mean to tell me that he can be guarded by Stephenson or the Matrix? If so that's pathetic. His points have gone down each game! His Rebounds have gone down each game. His Turnovers have risen from 1 in game 1, 5 in game 2, 4 in game 3. His 3pt Percentage, has gone down each game. Field goal percentage as well has declined with each game!

wjmoffatt
06-07-2011, 02:55 PM
When's the last time you can say that Lebron has averaged 20 points per over a 3 game stretch?

Joshtd1
06-07-2011, 02:55 PM
Great article.

wjmoffatt
06-07-2011, 02:59 PM
Lebron averages 21 points per in the Finals, including Cleveland in 07, if that's not choking idk what is! Wade on the other hand averages 32.6 points per.

ShiroRX
06-07-2011, 03:04 PM
Lebron averages 21 points per in the Finals, including Cleveland in 07, if that's not choking idk what is! Wade on the other hand averages 32.6 points per.

Like a dope, you missed the entire point of the article.

Arch Stanton
06-07-2011, 03:06 PM
Homer thread. Of course Heat fans are going to agree with anything said positive about the LeBron/Heat. But any criticism is immediately flawed.

PLAYERS FAN
06-07-2011, 03:09 PM
Lebron sacrificing his offense for defense remains me, of Kobe doing the same thing in 01 Finals. After leading the Lakers past the spurs averaging 33pts a game in the WCF.

ShiroRX
06-07-2011, 03:20 PM
Homer thread. Of course Heat fans are going to agree with anything said positive about the LeBron/Heat. But any criticism is immediately flawed.

You certainly don't look like a typical miami hater with that sig.

dodie53
06-07-2011, 07:15 PM
good read.

TylerSL
06-07-2011, 07:30 PM
i read it earlier. It was good article.

KingPosey
06-07-2011, 07:48 PM
lol, he may not be shrinking, but the last thing his greatness is doing is doubling with his 4th quarter play in the finals. Why is it ALWAYS too much or too little from reporters. They have to go absurd with everything.

Law25
06-07-2011, 08:47 PM
Lebron sacrificing his offense for defense remains me, of Kobe doing the same thing in 01 Finals. After leading the Lakers past the spurs averaging 33pts a game in the WCF.

And if you remember correctly after the finals they were still iffy to rank him top ten in the league.

Now to the post. I have never ever believed all the talk about Nike, ESPN, and the media in general covering for LeBron. I may have joked about it but i never believed it until today. Maybe because im an Lakers fan and i have witness the scrutiny, and constant nit picking of Kobe's game and career that i began to expect all players to endure the same to be great. But all ive heard is true!!!!! People in ther heart know LeBron is not having the series he should. He is seen by many as the best player on the planet, but his career on the biggest stage says otherwise. Yet instead of calling it what it is they instead attemp to rationalize and make excusses for him. He's not an regular star. If this was Kobe putting up these numbers and Gasol putting up Wade's number all the conversation would be on how Gasol has surpassed him and how Kobe stepped back and is now Robin. Hell they did it earlier this season saying how Gasol may be the best player on the team and how he should be taking over as the man, many fans said the same( his play in the playoffs changed that tune). Well id be damned if its not the same case with the Heat and all you hear is LeBron is the best player on the planet, and he's sacrificing his game for the team and forget what Wades doing look at LeBrons defence. It now wouldnt be surprised if LeBron gets MVP even though Wade has had the better finals, thats how sickening it is. Again as an fan of Kobe all ive heard is how he's not great, how you cant really count his first three rings with Shaq, and how he was no more than an sidkick eventhough these were his stats with Shaq

2000
15.6pts 4.2ast 4.6rebs 1.4blks 1stls ( this year played heart on bad ankle and played 9 mins in game 2 and missed game 3)

2001
24.6pts 5.8ast 7.8rebs 1.4blk 1.4stls

2002
26.8pts 5.3ast 5.8rebs 0.8blks 1.5 stls

point being if he was no more than an sidekick during this time and Lebron is averaging 20.3pts 6.6rebs 6ast 2.3stls 0.3blks while Wade is statisticaly better what should LeBron be regarded as. Also keep in mind his finals avg in 07 finals 22pts 6.8ast 7rebs 1stls 0.5blks and an shocking 5.5 tos. I not trying to start some Kobe vs LeBron ish. I'm just frustrated with the double standard and finaly for the first time see blatant bias and butt wiping for him. I actually enjoy watching him play, but some fans and now the media makes it hard to root for him. I hope he comes out and go nutts just so he can deserve all the praise he gets. Stars are made in regular season, superstars are made in the playoofs, but legends are made in the finals on the biggest stage.