Even by LeBron’s standards, this is stirring stuff

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) answers a question during a press conference following Game 3 of basketball's NBA Finals in Cleveland, early Wednesday, June 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) answers a question during a press conference following Game 3 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Cleveland, early Wednesday, June 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) answers a question during a press conference following Game 3 of basketball's NBA Finals in Cleveland, early Wednesday, June 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Hats off to the King. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

I figured going into the NBA finals that Golden State would win. I figured after the Warriors took Game 1 in overtime and Kyrie Irving was lost, this time for good, that they might sweep. After they lost Game 2 in overtime, I thought they’d win in five. Even now, I still think they’ll win the series.

I’m also thinking it might be time for me to stop thinking.

I have no idea how Cleveland is leading this series. (And not just leading the series; it’s one missed shot at the end of regulation in Game 1 from sweeping.) OK, so that’s not entirely true: I have an idea. LeBron James is playing at a level unseen in his career and maybe in anybody’s career, and here I include Michael Jordan.

LeBron has missed 64 shots — missed, mind you — in three games but is averaging 41 points at the highest level of basketball, and if he were averaging 35 points his team would be all but done. Take LeBron off what remains of these Cavaliers and you’d have a lottery team. Simply because they have LeBron, the Cavs are two games from a title.

Great as he was — and he was the greatest — Michael Jordan never lifted a team like this to the finals. Five of his six championship teams won 60 or more games; one won 72, and the worst won 57. These Cavs were 53-29, and that was with Irving and Kevin Love, neither of whom is available now. (Nor is Anderson Varejao, the starting center lost to a torn Achilles in December.)

The Cavaliers of 2006-2007 are widely regarded as the least talented team ever to grace the finals. (Their second-leading scorer was Larry Hughes.) But the 22-year-old LeBron was so transcendent that he made everything seem possible — until his team smacked into San Antonio and got swept. I’m not sure this team, as presently constituted, is much better than that one, with this difference: LeBron is 30 and at the peak of his powers.

LeBron had 40 points in Tuesday’s Game 3. The rest of his team had 56 — Matthew Dellavedova, who wasn’t drafted, somehow had 20 — but the Cavs managed to hold off the 67-win Warriors, who go 11 deep and who have the NBA’s 2015 MVP. I keep waiting for the talent differential to take hold and the Cavs to collapse, but right now LeBron’s is the only talent that matters. He’s the King.

Reader Comments 0

59 comments
1337S0lja
1337S0lja

If Michael Jordan was 280 and on HGH I am sure he could score 90 a game.

GTJoe
GTJoe

IF Bron wins, this has to be the greatest feat in NBA history.  Something MJ never did (and he had chances).


No opening day starters in the lineup.

First year coach.

No other all-stars in the lineup.


Talk about carrying a team.  MJ never had to carry a team.  Maybe a game here or there, but not an entire Finals.

Dawgsandbones9
Dawgsandbones9

Bradley,

What in the heck are you talking about???????

Does lebron have 6 rings?

Does Lebron have 5 Championship MVP's?

Your headline is terrible, because there are more things Lebron HASN'T done that Jordan HAS.

SMH

 

GTJoe
GTJoe

@Dawgsandbones9  "because there are more things Lebron HASN'T done that Jordan HAS."


And that list is dwindling.  Bron has 8-9 more years left, after which MJ will be erased from the memory banks (and record books).


FYI, Bron is on pace to be the greatest scorer in NBA history in about 7 years.  The ultimate trump card.

1337S0lja
1337S0lja

@GTJoe @Dawgsandbones9 In a league where flopping is worshipped and favoritism is obvious. Get off your bandwagon GT, basketball is owned by vegas my friend. Do a little research its not hard find that out.

aznole
aznole

Cleveland gets all the calls. Been like that throughout the playoffs. Yes, LJ is greatest current player but it helps when the league has your back, wanted you in the Finals (for ratings). 

GTJoe
GTJoe

Let's just put this into perspective. Without bron, the heat missed the playoffs. Without bron, the 2010 cavs went from conference finals to a lottery team. Without bron, this cavs team is a 20 game winner....maybe.

Without mj, the Bulls still won 55 games in 1994. Don't ever forget that.

dank3111
dank3111

@GTJoe The Heat would have made the playoffs with a healthy Bosh all year IMO.  The East sucks.  There is a reason LeBron will never leave the East and tries to form super teams everywhere he goes.  So he can put up numbers and make the finals every year without much competition.  So basically he just has to win 1 series.

GTJoe
GTJoe

@dank3111 @GTJoe  It's funny, everyone hates Bron because he tries to make super teams.  Did anyone hate MJ because of his super team?  Without MJ, the Bulls won 55 games in 1994.  Super enough?  And they had the greatest coach in the history of sport (not spoelstra or blatt).


Now, take a current 55 game winning team in the NBA (clippers, rockets, Grizzlies, Spurs).  Add Lebron.  Add Phil Jackson.  Would that team not win 5-6 straight titles?

1337S0lja
1337S0lja

You never know GTJoe. Thats the thing about basketball.  I think if Lebron played his position (3 or 4) he would have more titles already.  This point forward bs just takes away from the team chemistry.

kmarcel3
kmarcel3

So much hate on this blog.

KBP
KBP

@JB Burgess - Hate? What? I don't get how you come to the conclusion that I am hatin' on Cleveland.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

Somebody needs to set a blind screen on that Aussie punk. Do a Rudy Tomjanovich on him

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

Some credit has to go to Dave Blatt, too, because the Cleveland offense, as painful as it is to watch, is about the only chance they have to be competitive, and it feeds into their swarming defense.   But, yeah, LeBron makes everything possible.

Mutley
Mutley

LeBron love him or hate him , but you have to give him credit for putting Cleveland on his back and spitting in the eyes of the Cleveland curse. Unfortunately , there are no saviors on the horizon willing to challenge the LOSERVILLE curse anytime soon.

1337S0lja
1337S0lja

@Mutley You gotta give credit to JR too for shooting lights out from 3 all playoffs long. Also they have one of the best rebounding teams because of Thompson but if you play ISO ball and have one player who's only job is to grab rebounds it makes it kind of easy.

ChuckinAlpharetta
ChuckinAlpharetta

@Mutley


The more interaction I have with the vile denizens that comprise the Cleveland sports fanbase, the more I understand that's it's not a CURSE, it is KARMA.

Mix2011
Mix2011

How quickly you forget the flu game.  Jordan carried that team to a win that night and the series.  His series avg was 32.  If LBJ catches the flu, I doubt he would even try to play.  In the 93 series, MJ avg was 41 so he already had the mark.  Lets not forget his final championship game where you see his defense as well as his offense when he stripped Malone and then hit the game winner.  Jordan never let his championship games go to seven game.  LBJ can never have that claim.

GTJoe
GTJoe

@Mix2011  MJ "never let his teams go to game 7"?  Umm, that's because his team was so incredible, even without MJ.  They won 55 games in 1994 WITHOUT MJ.


Put MJ on a team with a no name coach and no other all stars and not even an opening day starter, see if he wins a title.  He won't.  And He didn't.  The 1989 and 1990 bulls had a far better supporting cast than Bron's current team and never even sniffed the finals, let alone have a chance to win it.

DawgnIT
DawgnIT

I was a Jordan hater back in the day.  Didn't like him, didn't cheer for him.  I am a total Nique homer.


That said, Lebron is the greatest player since MJ, that's it and that's good enough.  He's like physically combining MJ and Shaq.  Lebron could be the greatest physical specimen pro sports has ever seen.  But he's not the greatest basketball player ever.


MJ just had that beast mode before "beast mode" was a thing.


At the end of the day, the NBA has been generally weaker during LJ's career than MJ's.


The Warriors and Hawks wouldn't be clear #1 seed caliber in the late 80s through mid 90s.  The 87-88 Hawks would have beaten the 2014-2015 Hawks in 4 or 5.


Another thing to consider, LJ hasn't had the one on one rivalries MJ had to go through in the regular and post season.  The superstars of today are generally out West so LJ only has to grind against them in the Finals.


MJ had to overcome the Detroit Bad Boys, Bird, Nique, Barkley, Miller, Ewing and the bruisers on the Knicks, the Cavs (on par with today's Hawks and Warriors), and several other tough outs in the regular season and post season.


I can't even name anyone worth mentioning in the East today.  Harden, Westbrook, Durant, Curry, Bryant, and even young Davis are all out West.  Rose has been banged up for years now and there's really not another Eastern superstar to contend with James for an entire series until the Finals.


Just look at all of the HoF players who didn't get a championship because of Jordan.

Can'o'corn
Can'o'corn

it's up to Lebron for the Cavs to have a chance without him going all out and leading his team it's a rout, and i think right now you can say the same about curry, if he comes out timid/flat and not forcing the issue the warriors may be lost.  So far though this series has been fun to watch for me.

ImaNitwit
ImaNitwit

Iverson's run in 2001 was equal to LeBron's. Iverson took Ty Hill, George Lynch, Eric Snow and Motumbo to the finals, only to be defeated by Shaq and Kobe. Arguably, Kobe's depleted starters are superior to Iverson's. Iverson had 4 defensive players and no offensive help. As good as LeBron is, Golden State is a shell of team compared to the 2001 Lakers with Kobe and Shaq. Also, Iverson was 5'10" and maybe 160 pounds.

bryanstephens1124
bryanstephens1124

All these comments about refs and rigging are LAME..c'mon people .i ain't even a cavs fan but i appreciate greatness. .

But then again most folks commenting r probably hawks fans and don't know greatness..

Averaging 40 12 and 8 in the finals...shut up already with lame behind ref complaints..that's for losers!!. .both teams have had calls missed. .yall aint analyzing the game just whining and hating

at4a4a
at4a4a

@bryanstephens1124 what's lame is flopping! what's lame is crying at the refs every play.can't stand to even watch him play, i'll take the Stanley Cup finals over that any day!

dank3111
dank3111

All I know if the Warriors need to play David Lee more.  He can score and challenge Tristan Thompson for rebounds.  Bogut is a waste.

SupremeGrandPoobah
SupremeGrandPoobah

Actually, it looks like the league and or TV networks want the Cavs to win.  How else can you explain how Lebron puts an obvious chop block on Curry causing him to lose control of the ball, with no foul called, and not even a mention of it by the commentators?  How else can you explain how Thompson shoves Lee out of the way, gets the rebound and then Lee is called for a foul.  It's insane how rigged this series is.  It's disgusting.  The refs should be ashamed of themselves.  They should at least put forth the appearance of being neutral even though they clearly are not.

SupremeGrandPoobah
SupremeGrandPoobah

@JB Burgess Interesting.  You like the fact that the series is rigged.  Whatever.  Whenever you get through kissing lebron's rear-end, I'm sure there'll be more idiots in line behind you.

fedup52
fedup52

Doesn't look like GS has the heart.  GS has the talent and that is the reason they are in the game.  Majority of the times heart is the winner.  Go Cavs.

ImaNitwit
ImaNitwit

@fedup52  Bet that is your reasoning for every team in every sport that doesn't win....they don't have heart. Come up with something a bit more original.

KBP
KBP

Cleveland is winning because Dellavadova is harassing Steph Curry and Barnes, Green, and the others have not shown up offensively. The Warriors can't win this series if only Curry and Thompson scores. Cleveland's size inside is keeping the Warriors from second chance points. I think Cleveland wins this series and it will be by FAR the greatest accomplishment I have seen in LeBron's career. And by the way don't underestimate the value of  Smith and Schumpert. Finally, why are none of the national journalist killing the Warriors for losing two games to Cleveland without Irving and Love as they killed my Hawks for doing the same thing?

DawgNole
DawgNole

@KBP

The Hawks lost FOUR games to Cleveland--NOT the same thing at all.

IF GS loses two more, then squawk.

SupremeGrandPoobah
SupremeGrandPoobah

@kmarcel3  No, they don't have to go to that extreme, although I wouldn't put it past them.  However, it's pretty easy to make people miss their shots when Cleveland can foul them to make them miss, without fear of having a foul called.  Also helps when every time GS is making a run, and the referees allow lebron to chop block Curry with no foul call, allow Triscuit Thompson to push people out of bounds and the call the foul on the person who got pushed out of bounds, and look deli-butcher right in the eye while he tries to take Draymond Green's knees out, and on and on, and not call it.  The reffing is so one sided it's pathetic.  

SupremeGrandPoobah
SupremeGrandPoobah

@KBP Because the Warriors are not allowed to win.  That would interfere with the Lebron worship.

LEcho
LEcho

A ring is a ring but I don't know I would would feel winning a championship pretty much on the back of one man. Plus I'm still salty about the Hawks being swept so....Go Warriors!

DontTaseMeBro
DontTaseMeBro

I will give odds of 10,000,000 to 1 against the chance of LeBron fouling out of any of the remaining games.  

dank3111
dank3111

@GTJoe @DontTaseMeBro yet he probably initiates contact more than anyone who has ever played...which logically I would think some of that contact would be called a charge since he barrels through guys, but he is rarely called for it.  On the flip side, opponents are charged with breathing on him.  Additionally, most guys would get technical's called on them for the way he reacts when he doesn't get a foul call.  Go play in the late 80's LeDrama.  They will show you what a foul is.  Guy is great, but I would still take Jordan and even Kobe in their prime over this guy.

SupremeGrandPoobah
SupremeGrandPoobah

@dank3111 @GTJoe @DontTaseMeBro Lebron doesn't need the help of the league or the refs to be great.  Why fouls aren't called on him is beyond belief.  Almost every offensive play he commits at least one offensive foul, but is never called for it.

SupremeGrandPoobah
SupremeGrandPoobah

@kmarcel3  If by soft you mean they get fouled a lot by the thugs, then I guess I would agree.You think the league office would allow GS to retaliate?  You know they wouldn't, just like they wouldn't allow the Hawks to.