By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
LeBron Isn’t The King Just Yet
SAN ANTONIO — Since his days back at St. Mary/St. Vincent High School in Akron, Ohio, LeBron James has been touted as being the true high school basketball phenom not just in the state of Ohio but also possibly on the planet.
He was a man amongst boys during that time and when he became the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first round pick in 2003, it seemed that a prophesy was about to unfold right in front of our eyes.
“He has the skills that most 25-year-old professionals don’t even have,” one NBA scout once told me during the 2003 NBA Finals. “He is going to be very special for the Cavaliers.”
Maybe that scout was just salivating over the fact that for once a high school player who has had the media hype and attention on him for so long finally will pan out to be exactly what has been said and written about him and after four years in the league, James has indeed lived up to much of that hype.
However, the one thing that is missing is something that he now will go after tonight at 8 pm CST at the AT&T Center. King James is finally going after the magical scepter that many think is rightfully his yet there is one problem; somebody else has already had the scepter and they want it back.
For all the things that James is today, and for whatever reasons the national media wants to try and spin a story line that makes it seem that they were correct in picking him to be the next “MJ”, one player and his team stands in the way of that quest to fulfill a foretold prophesy.
That player is Tim Duncan and his team is the three-time NBA champions, the San Antonio Spurs. The national media do not want the Spurs to be the victors of the spoils this year. After all with the Cavaliers now being ordained as the true Cinderella of the NBA, who can save a Finals TV ratings fiasco, the Spurs are the most uninspired team in their eyes.
Everywhere in the sports world this team is being vilified as a boring team with no “flava”, no substance or sex appeal. For the national media, Duncan isn’t sexy; he’s boring. His team is vanilla ice cream and nothing more. James and Cavaliers are the total opposite.
They are the sexiest tub of basketball flavors allowed on the planet. The story lines are endless for them. “Cinderella takes the ball”, “The King and His Boobie Squash The Dragon”, “Long Live the King”. Yada, yada, yada. Blah, blah, blah.
With all of this hype, you would have thought that James and his merry band of castoffs, misfits and playoff rookies have already been crowned the 2007 NBA champions by now.
However they haven’t.
Game One is tonight and this team and their national media bandleaders are in for a rude awakening. Or is it the beginning of a quickening? Unlike the last series, the Cavaliers are going up against what many have said is the best modeled franchise in the NBA.
The Spurs are boring to many but they are quite efficient in destroying opponents in their midst. Their nucleus has two titles together. Their roster is stocked full of multiple NBA titleholders as well as Olympic gold medalists and seasoned FIBA champion professionals.
Their bench is loaded with veterans who have seen it all in the playoffs and even their twelfth man can become a deadly three-point specialist. Nobody has made mention of just how formidable James’ task is about to become because no one wants to think of the possible becoming a reality.
And just what is that reality? The reality could very well be that the Spurs grab their fourth title in nine seasons (three in five seasons mind you) and a dynasty could blossom before everyone’s eyes.
The reality could be that this may be James only trip to the NBA Finals as a Cavalier or worse; he could become the Allen Iverson of a new generation; a dozen years or more in the league and only one NBA Finals appearance.
Now that may sound cruel and harsh but that is also a very realistic scenario for James and nobody is talking about it. Would it be James’ fault should that scenario take place? Not necessarily.
This could be the Doppler effect of being media hyped and having everyone christen you as the savior of the NBA at a time when the league doesn’t necessarily need a single person saving it from itself.
This is not to say that King James will not be living up to his moniker because he has already proven that aspect of his alter ego. Even with him holding up the comic book in the photo for this piece showcases his mass appeal to Madison Avenue.
But that is also a perception that MJ faced early on in his career too. For six years Jordan was toiling around in no man’s land during the playoffs before he won his first title in year seven. Some of Jordan’s best playoff moments weren’t really during his championship years but what he did before that time.
What many fans remember is Jordan dropping 63 points on the Boston Celtics; similar to James’ 48-point game performance in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals for this year. That is something that James needs to get past, but this series will not let him get that accomplished.
This year is the Spurs’ year. Forget the notion of that they win titles in odd years but look at the fact that this team thought that they were going to be in the Finals last year. They are hungrier than the Cavaliers because they expect nothing but a title run year in and year out.
And while the Cavaliers gamely put themselves in a great situation, led by a spectacular player, the passing of the magical trophy will not happen this season and maybe not for another season or so. As great as King James is, he cannot win a title by himself.
As good of a pitchman that he is for corporate America, he hasn’t won anything of substance yet. Right now he is still a “prince” who is being groomed for the eventual ascension to his rightful thrown on top of the basketball world.
That time just isn’t now. Unlike James and his merry band of teammates, the Spurs and Duncan have their own prophesies to fulfill and the one that nobody wants them to achieve is the word “dynasty”. That could very well happen in three weeks.
But until that happens or until circumstances change, most in the national media will continue to crown James as the King of the game. But that is also an unfair crown because James hasn’t won anything of substance yet and he knows that.