Saturday, June 02, 2007

The day LBJ saved the NBA

LeBron, the hero of GM 5, congratulates Gibson, the hero of GM 6 as the Cavs head to the Finals

The San Antonio Spurs and the Detroit Pistons were both supposed to make it to the NBA Finals this year.

The Spurs fulfilled their end of the deal.

But somebody forgot to send LeBron James and the Cavaliers a copy of the script.

Tonight the James Gang flipped that NBA script right on its old guard as the upstart Cavs knocked off the 5-time Conference finalist Pistons to reach its first Finals in Cleveland history.

James (20 pts, 14 rebs, 8 ass) didn't have the monster game like he had in Game 5, but he didn't need to. With a career-high 31 points from rising star guard Daniel Gibson and another solid defensive effort that helped limit Tayshaun Prince to five points and Chauncey Billips to nine, the Cavs used a complete team effort to defeat the ultimate "team" in the league.

And so LeBron, dubbed the next Jordan, the face of the NBA, and the franchise since entering the league four years ago, will lead his team to the Finals faster than any young phenom this side of Dwayane Wade, and if the energized, youthful Cavs were to knock off the stoic, playoff veteran Spurs, when then there would be a new poster boy for in the NBA.

And his name is King James.


Friday, June 01, 2007

Will they get off LeBron's back now?!

An incredible, amazing, fantastic, yes, even Jordan-esque performance from LeBron James elevates the Cavaliers to the brink of the Finals

Check out 'Sheed's face as Bron nails yet another clutch jumper

"One of the great performances all-time in playoff history."--Marv Albert

"Did you know that you were this good?"--Craig Sager
LeBron, smiling sheepishly-- "No."

LeBron James' Nike campaign slogan uses the brilliant subtlety of a simple word: 'Witness'.

Tonight we did.

I'm not really sure to begin describing what I just witnessed, as the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Detroit Pistons, 109-107 in double-overtime to take a 3-2 series lead, but I guess I'll start with the numbers, because they are so mind-boggling:

  • 48 total points
  • 25 consecutive Cavs points to end the game
  • scored 28 of his team's last 29 points
  • 35 points after halftime
  • 18-33 from field
  • 9 rebs, 7 assists, 2 steals

But numbers don't always do a story justice, and this game tonight between the Pistons and Cavs was about much more than numbers, although the Cavaliers are happy to be headed home with a 3-2 series advantage.

Because more than just put up nearly half a hundy en route to knocking off the 5-time conference finalist Pistons in their own building in double OT, King James took his custom Nikes and stomped on all the haters who have criticized his every move, endorsement deal and ill-advised pass on his way to becoming the face of the NBA.

Perhaps all the griping had to do with the fact that he was a poster boy for over-exposed high school athletes from the age of 14, or that he inked a $90 million dollar contract with the swoosh empire before he ever laced up a sneaker on an NBA court....

...or it might have been the fact that he has never given the haters reason to actually hate him; he's stayed clean off the court, has never been seen brandishing a firearm, wagering on 'roided-up Rotties, or raining bags full of his millions down on unsuspecting exotic dancers. Sure he had an incident or two, like walking off the court or snubbing a teammate or coach here and there...

...but c'mon, the kid is just 22 and in four years has given hoop fans more highlights and memorable moments this side of Dwayne Wade, and with Wade hurting and the Cavs poised to make it to the Finals for the first time in franchise history, the time is now for LeBron to silence his critics and take the league by the balls.

Tonight LeBron did something that few other players have done since His Airness exited the league-the first time: put his team on his back and willed them to victory by scoring a slew of outrageous, jaw-dropping shots from all over the court and stunning a favored team in their own crib.

He hit long fadeaways. He hit driving layups. He nailed threes. He got fouled and hit 10-14 free throws. Oh yeah, and he had three monster dunks late in the game, plus a knifing layup through four Pistons that turned out to be the game winner.

Tonight, all critics will reluctantly agree, was truly LeBron's "welcome to the NBA" moment.

I'm just glad I got to witness it.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Patriots lineman Hill found dead after accidental drowning

The NFL and the New England sports community suffered another tragic loss when the body of Patriots defensive end Marquise Hill was found a half a mile from where he fell into the waters of Lake Pontchartrain Sunday night.

Hill, a third-year player and Louisiana native who played collegiately at LSU and won a National Championship with the Tigers in 2003, was riding a jet ski with a female companion Sunday after dark when tragedy struck. The rough waters located near a busy shipping channel contributed to the water crafts overturning, and the fact that neither rider was wearing a life vest only exacerbated the situation.

By all reports Hill, an exemplary player, role model and human being who was able to swim, made an attempt to rescue his female friend, who could not. The friend was found unharmed, clinging to a piling, but Hill could not navigate the strong current and was washed away despite rescue attempts by an alert bystander on shore and numerous search groups.

Hill's tragic death comes on the heels of the sudden passing of two Denver Broncos players this off season, corner back Darrent Williams from a fatal gunshot wound on New Years Eve, and running back Damien Nash from an apparent heart attack after a charity basketball game in February.

The Boston sports family also has endured unexpected deaths in the past eight months: Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach in October; Celtics guard & playoff legend Dennis Johnson, also from a sudden heart attack in February, two days before Nash; and former Patriots receiver Darryl Stingley, whose painful, paralyzed life came to a abrupt end in April.

Combined with the recent deaths of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock, USC kicker Mario Danelo, and former Eagle Andre Watters, and there has been more than enough disturbing confirmations that even our most physically gifted and athletically talented people cannot escape the harsh realities of the real world.

R.I.P., Marquise.