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I have this strange love/hate relationship with LeBron. Let me clarify, it’s not a relationship because I don’t know him personally.

But you know what I’m saying…

LeBron is the best player of his generation (there may be some debate of where his generation begins). Saying he’s one of the best players to ever grace the hardwood is like saying water is wet. My problem with LeBron is that everything seems so fabricated. That could be the pessimism of living in this artificial social media culture that is tempering my opinion. There are very few moments that feels honest, in a basketball context. His comradery with his teammates all seems posed and corny.

Then there is philanthropist LeBron…

This is a side of LeBron that he is making more public in recent years. He has begun to speak out on social issues and he not only gives money but gives his time to endeavors that he’s passionate about. He is the ultimate feel-good story. His calling “45” a bum was easily one of the best sports moments in 2017. He carried that momentum in 2018 by serving Laura Ingraham an L during All-Star Weekend. He has taken the mantle of being socially conscious in a world that would rather spend time creating a perfect Instagram life than fighting for actual change. This same world has been fragmented by race and class while we live in a created social media world. Instead of being the next Jordan in that aspect, he chose to be the next Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

Then the trade deadline happened…

A team that was pretty much overhauled in the offseason. The mini banana boat crew didn’t work in Cleveland because well – D. Wade is old, hurt, and has lost a step. He often seemed lost in the offense and LBJ wanted Batman and Robin but instead, he got Art and Ben (old guys from Cocoon). Unfortunately, this isn’t a movie so there wasn’t a fountain of youth to be found. He never seems to be happy with his team unless they win a championship.

He continually holds franchises hostage with the refusal to sign a long-term contract which makes him a never-ending sports story. There is a LeBron will sign with ____ story daily on every sports outlet. I can’t be the only person tired of the “Where is the LeBron going “ topics.

It’s annoying. Actually, it’s obnoxious. It’s a self-centered desire to drive sports news.  That’s not to say that sports media isn’t complicit in this.

LeBron is a player whose talent is undeniable but he has an insatiable yearning to be liked and loved. I imagine when you’ve always been “the man” you are probably forever searching for that “real love”. That search is what motivates him to curate his manicured image where even candid moments seem to be a part of the LBJ Reality Show. He has led a scandal-free career and I’m sure that is not by accident. His biggest pox is the fact that he held a television special to announce where he is going in Free Agency.

Overall I love his game. He’s Scottie Pippen 2.0 — bigger, stronger, faster and way more gifted. I was always a huge Pippen fan. He sees the floor like a new generation Magic Johnson. He is a force with the rock whenever he feels like it — like a Wilt in his prime. LBJ makes other players seem small. I’ll never forget the last 2 minutes of Game 5 in the playoffs where he shut down then MVP Derrick Rose. Who can forget the Finals block on Steph or the run-down block of Iggy. He can be so dominant at points that we internally wonder if we can adjust the sliders to make the game a little more difficult for him.

That’s probably why it annoys most of us his about his yearly whining about needing new teammates or incessant flopping.

LeBron is on the Mt. Rushmore of NBA Greats. He’s also one of the most annoying diva personalities to ever grace the hardwood floor. I’m just over his player antics – from the flopping to his fear of commitment to an NBA team. He’s not Jordan or Kobe as he shouldn’t be – but man how great would it be if the LBJ stories were actually just about his basketball and philanthropy?

I want to love him like I love other players’ game I admire. But I can’t. It like being served Chinese food by a white person. It looks good, it may even smell right, but it’s not right – something isn’t right. When all is said done, you eat it, but you walk away feeling unfulfilled.

 

Yeah, Ben is…just good. Truth hurts sometimes. You remember when Lebron was in Miami and he would try to hit game winners by shooting a jumper? People kept begging him to drive to the lane, be more aggressive, get closer take a better shot. Well, it looks like someone was listening, it just wasn’t Lebron.

It was Ben Simmons.

Ben Simmons plays like he believes his athleticism will allow him to get whatever shot he wants on the floor. On most nights in the regular season, he’s right. He gained confidence by playing a diminished Miami team that managed to win a game with Dwayne Wade’s half rotten carcass making big plays.

Now he’s in the second round and he notices that the lane is clogged. He can’t play bully ball against someone like Marcus Morris because of his size and strength. Passing lanes are diminished because everyone in the arena knows Simmons’ worst kept secret.

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I’m not going to waste words here. These are the best two teams in the NBA by far and if you watched the terrible playoffs you knew this matchup was inevitable. The Cavaliers have a matchup problem. Kevin Durant is a problem that they don’t really have an answer for. They can throw LeBron at him, possibly Kevin Love but that’s it. If they are guarding a scoring dynamo like KD most of the game their offense will suffer. I don’t think Ty Lue would be foolish enough to put JR Smith on him. Even though LeBron is the best player in the world there is multiple people they can throw at him. They can throw the whole starting lineup at him except Steph to slow him down.

Apart of me thinks the Cavs will pull this out in 6

But my final prediction — Warriors in 5. Average margin of victory 15 points.

MVP: Kevin Durant

It’s not really a brave prediction. I think KD wants this. He wants this ring. If he played more games this season he could have been a contender for the MVP. Plus, I like his game better. So there’s that.

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog – Mark Twain

As cliché as size metaphors are in sports there isn’t one more apropos than that one for Isaiah Thomas III. The one man show he put on last night against the Wizards is something that has been done by few. I have donned him officially the Young Mamba. He dropped 53 in the New Garden. And of those 53, 29 points in the 4th Quarter and overtime. You know who has scored more than that in a Celtic playoff game: Hondo (John Havlicek). That’s it.  He has the most points in a playoff game since Allen Iverson dropped the double nickel in 2003. He did it all with a new tooth to boot.There wasn’t a chance he was going to shy away from the big shot. He wanted the ball, he wanted to be the hero. He sought the spotlight and it wasn’t too bright on him. While this wasn’t a win or go home game — this was in the playoffs against a quality Wizards team that has been giving them the business all night. 

Now watch how quickly I drop 50
I don’t like playing, niggas can’t stick me – Jay – Z

Game 2 of the Celtics/Wizards series was a legendary battle of the point gawds with IT coming out the victor. When the 4th Quarter hit he went on ‘extra grind’ and put the Celtics on his back and carried them to victory. There is a backstory to this — IT’s sister who died 2 weeks ago, last night would have been her 23rd birthday. He has the weight of grief that he is carrying as well as a historic franchise. That nor the Wizards defense was enough stop or even slow him down. Scott Brooks looked inept on how to coach and get his team to execute on pick and rolls. Gortat on Young Mamba is a mismatch 10/10 times. 

There have been discussion on if a 6’0 (maybe) player can lead a team to a championship. If anyone can it’s him but he does need someone else on that team because the flip side to this story is they need another consistent perimeter scorer. Avery Bradley is a decent shooter and an above average defender but he missed a lot of open shots in the 4th Quarter. In a game that was physical they were unable to get the ball to Horford consistently in the high or low post down the stretch. 

The coronation of Young Mamba has begun. He and Russell Westbrook are the closest people we have to Kobe in the league now. He’s a straight assassin and when it’s time to step on the necks of his competition he does not hesitate. That is how you build a legacy — that’s how you become historic, Young Mamba is carving his path to greatness one clutch performance at a time.