Bill Livingston writes for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Cleveland’s sporting faithful are most pleased today as their former favorite LeBron James has been awarded the Silver Medal in this year’s NBA Finals. Click through for a podcast of Robert with Bill after the jump.
This is the kind of thing that LeBron doesn’t get. Although his answer is honest and not terribly incendiary, it is HARDLY the response a public relations professional would have prepped LeBron to give. Until LeBron decides he wants professional people handling his media presence, he will continue to sound like the villiage idiot every time he speaks in front of a microphone.
It is a simultaneously glorious and ghastly time for basketball enthusiasts. While this 2011 Finals appears destined to be remembered among the all-time great championship series, we are also witnessing pre-ordained Next Great One LeBron James very really shrinking in the moment and wilting in the spotlight.
Yes he had a triple double in the Game 5 loss to Dallas. Guess what? Last night was not the time for ancillary stats. It was LeBron’s time to dominate. With Dwyane Wade injured, with the lead in the series on the line, with his basketball legacy hanging in the balance, LeBron did not do what Magic, Bird, Kobe, or Michael would have done. Instead, LeBron turned in a performance worthy of Lamar Odom.
Now, Lamar is a fine professional, and a 2-time champion. This is no slight on Mr. Odom. But still.
This is a turning point in basketball history. Magic, Bird, Jordan, Kobe…and now maybe not LeBron. If he wins, if Miami ultimately outlasts a wildly fierce and resilient Dallas team, these questions disappear. At least until next year.
But if LeBron comes this close and fails to secure the ring, he is no longer what we have all been promised he is.
Rick Barry is a hall of fame basketball player. Rick joined Robert in Hour 2 to talk about the NBA Finals, and the new head coach (Mark Jackson) of Rick’s old team (the Golden State Warriors). Also, check out Rick’s websites:
LeBron James took one shot in the 4th quarter. Dirk Nowitzki battled through illness to have another huge 4th quarter. Through the first four games of the series, here’s the ranking of best players in the Finals:
- D Wade
- Tyson Chandler
So we can all stop with the “LeBron is better than” comparisons. Neither Magic, Bird, Jordan, nor Kobe (the four greatest individual talents – and champions – of the last 30 years) would have disappeared in the 4th quarter of a close Finals game like James did last night.