Friday, September 14, 2012

Can LeBron get any better?



27 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists per game, these numbers represent the blessing that LeBron James has given us on a nightly basis since his insertion into the league in the fall of 2003. The night of his first game, in my home town of Sacramento, James dazzled the crowd with his athleticism, his physical abilities, his physical make up, and his overall showmanship. This is what we had all been waiting for, the chosen one. James attacked the basket with reckless abandonment, saw the floor like a seasoned veteran, made the right decisions with the ball all night, and stole the show. LeBron James had arrived and was the face of the Cavilers franchise from day one.

However in the fog of his greatness, we all were blind witness to the fact, that his game had significant deficiencies that would surely have to be corrected before he would even come close to maximizing his potential. There were the obvious flaws, peremiter shooting and free throw shooting were decent at best on that night, and as the season played out, we determined that he was far below expectations in those areas. However, the 18 year old kid was athletic, unselfish, and to be quite honest a winner.

What we didn't learn from that night in Arco Arena, was that there were deamons that roamed deep inside the mind of King James. Deamons that were so powerful, they could cripple this 240 lbs, 6'8" specimen, into mental abysses so frightening that he would be reduced to the mental stability of a molecule when he was needed most. We also didn't realize, that James' footwork was nearly at an 8th grade level, and we also missed the fact that a physical beast that could not be stopped from getting to the basket, had absolutely no post game. Think about those words, absolutely no post game.


James over the last 9 NBA seasons, has improved in many areas, however in the areas that troubled him most he has given us the same execution. He still has a flawed post game, still is easily rattled mentally, still shoots below 80% from the line, and still has a jumpshot that can not be counted on when he needs it most. James, ladies and gentlemen, hasn't really gotten much better in 9 years. Until game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the exact same criticisms of James could have been made that were made his first day in the league. He was shooting poorly against Boston, no post game in that series to mention to that point, below average free throw shooting, and mentally he had been outsmarted and out willed by Paul Pierce at least twice. However, sometime between games 5 and 6 something changed.

The focus of the chosen one in game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals was in the realm of the greats. Only before had I seen the likes of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, take over a series and show absolute will over their opponent the way James did on the road during that contest. Losing wasn't an option for him, and the world knew it.

From that day, until today, James has been without a doubt the best player in the planet. He went in to win his first championship, because the finals MVP, and then went to London and won his second gold medal. The last 4 months have been the most dominant of James' career. Which is why D Wade's comments earlier this week strike me as comical, maybe even irritating.

Wade was asked about James' ability to improve and Wade responded, " The Sky's the limit" he went on to say that statistically he wasn't shure James could improve, but that James was finally starting to put it all together. That his dominance of the could improve, and " That's the scary part."

Thanks Mr. Wade, there was no way to know this without you. Wade's analysis of James was legendary. 4 months of mentally checking in an learning to control the deamons that were eating away at him was all James needed to do, he's fixed now. The same player that allowed Jason Terry to trash talk him into oblivion just a year ago obviously has fixed everything and now the sky's the limit. Enough of my sarcasm, let's get back to the facts and focus on what we actually saw.

James still has a horrible post game, average footwork, a terrible jumpshot, and he still shoots below 80% from the line. So when Wase says he can improve, of course he can. When Wade says he can't improve statistically, that's rediculous. He can improve free throws at a minimum and that's an important statistic, Wade. Also, what improving has he done? Has he truly conquered the deamons that once blunted him during his most defining moments, or has he became close with Kevin Durant and is in a comfort level playin against him down the stretch? James dominated Durant for 4 straight games, he didn't do that to Paul Pierce, Danny Granger, or Carmelo Anthony. I don't see any of those guys working out with James for weeks at a time during the off season, and James looked mighty comfortable against Durant.

Can James improve? Absolutely he can. He has the same deficiencies he has always had. From the dirt time I saw him play and NBA game, till today, he is still superior in the same places as well as needing improvement in the same places. When Wade says he can improve, to me that sounds like a 9 year echo. I mean after all, this year he averaged 27 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists. In 2004, his second NBA season, he averaged 27 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists. The chosen one"

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