the strangeness of lebron james

Image courtesy of www.ftw.usatoday.com

Image courtesy of www.ftw.usatoday.com

We live in an odd time. In the sporting and media world, athletes seem to loathe writers and personalities who make a living on their hot takes and jabs via social media and television. I’m not in these elite athletes’ shoes so I can’t speak for them directly, but in our fast-paced, “what have you done for me lately” society, it is obvious to see.

That said, I enjoy writing about sports and bringing my opinions to the table. I do my best to present information and opinions through my own lenses and viewpoints on the world, and I’m sure I’ve lost some readers and friends because of it. Not everyone wants to hear my opinions and not everyone cares. That’s just the way it goes.

So, let’s look back to last night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors; the one that was completely out of reach by halftime.

The NBA season stretches 82 games from the end of October until the middle of June. That is nearly eight months of basketball. Compare this to the NFL, which stretches from September until the very beginning of February, we are talking about three less months of a professional sports period. I know they are completely different sports with different stakes and levels of physicality, but it is crazy to note just how much longer the NBA season stretches. Last night, the Cleveland Cavaliers got their asses kicked. Plain and simple. As a basketball player and fan, myself, we’ve all been there before.

Charles Barkley hit the nail on the head last night stating, “In the playgrounds, we call this an ol’ fashioned ass kicking.”

I’m not sure I’ve ever agreed with him more.

However, there were some major areas of concern last night. First, as a 14-year veteran, why does LeBron continue to say the strangest things? At first, I believed he didn’t acknowledge the Warriors as a rival because he refused to give Draymond the benefit of the doubt. I truly felt he was using this tactic to play mind games. Then, the game started, and that theory flew out the window. I’m not sure what he was going for on this one.

Second, why does LeBron continue not to shoot the basketball? Golden State players were begging him to shoot the ball, sagging off him on defense, and when he finally attempted a three pointer, it went in the basket. When the Warriors begged LeBron to beat them with his jump shot during last year’s Finals matchup, it finally came through and he found the stroke he had been looking for. When he combines his jump shot with his strength and athleticism and overall passing ability, the Cleveland Cavaliers cannot be stopped.

Third, why did LeBron say he was a “football player?” After 14 years in the league, three titles, four MVPs and three Finals MVPs, I am absolutely baffled by these comments. Although he may be a 6’ 8” hybrid wrecking ball, LeBron has never really been known for toughness that stood out like a member of the National Football League. He’s logged more minutes than any superstar ever and has consistently helped put teams in the NBA Finals for six straight seasons, but he has never come off as a massive intimidator or strongman on the court.

He is that big and strong, but I don’t believe you if you think anyone is really scared of LeBron causing a scuffle during a game. It’s never happened, it never will, and an ample number of players have attempted to go right at him. Draymond Green would fight him on the court tomorrow, win or lose, and I’m not sure LeBron would really be there for it.

That doesn’t make him less of a man by any means, I am simply just pointing it out. Was Draymond’s foul on LeBron a Flagrant 1 by the NBA’s definition? Absolutely. Did LeBron flop and pull a Leonardo DiCaprio of acting jobs? Absolutely. He always has and he always will. That is just how he plays the game. I have seen several NFL guys utilize the flop in recent years, including members of my beloved Cincinnati Bengals, but this is not the norm. Football and hockey players play through pain that many of us cannot fathom and that is just the way it goes.

It’s a long season. The Cleveland Cavaliers will be fine. And, LeBron James is still the best player in the world. However, last night is concerning. This Cavs team is amid some major struggles and will face the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals if all goes according to plan. With the acquisition of Kevin Durant, the Warriors have essentially picked up two players in one.

When misinformed basketball fans spew hate on LeBron by saying he can’t win one alone (who ever has?), they truly do not understand the nature of the business or basketball as a whole. The game has completely changed. LeBron knows this because he was instrumental in changing it. That is why he has stated they need another PG to take some of the load off Kyrie Irving and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers team. People forget that the Golden State Warriors acquired Kevin Durant this offseason. After watching last night’s game, I now understand what this signing truly means for the rest of the NBA.

I can smell their fear from here.