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LBJ SLAMMED!

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LBJ SLAMMED!

Unread postby Dozen » Tue Feb 20, 2007 3:56 pm

To LeBron James, who coasted through the Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday and played the All-Star Game with the uplifting, charismatic intensity of a female porn star trying to break one of those "most male partners in one afternoon" records. Could we end up putting him in the "Too Much, Too Soon" Pantheon some day? Will he become the basketball version of Eddie Murphy, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson and every other celeb who became famous too quickly and eventually burned out?






Here's what I know. I had four conversations with connected NBA people over the weekend that centered around the same themes: LeBron isn't playing nearly as hard as he did last season; it looks like his only goal right now is to get his coach fired; he's regressing as a basketball player (especially his passing skills and his shot selection); he made a huge mistake firing his agent and turning his career over to his buddies back home (all of whom are in over their heads); he was a much bigger problem during the Olympics than anyone realized; he doesn't seem to be enjoying himself anymore; he has an overrated sense of his own worth and his own impact in the sports world (as witnessed by the ESPN interview last week when he answered the "What are your goals?" question with two words: "Global icon"); he's been protected by magazine fluff pieces and buddy-buddy TV interviews for far too long; he doesn't have the same relentless drive to keep dominating everyone like Wade and Kobe have; and basically, we're much closer to LeBron re-enacting the career arc of Martina Hingis, Eric Lindros and Junior Griffey than anyone realizes. This will evolve into THE dominant NBA story of the next two months. You watch. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/st ... ons/070220


http://www.thesportshole.com

http://www.youtube.com/TheSportsHole


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Unread postby consigliere » Tue Feb 20, 2007 4:13 pm

About time someone had the balls to write that.

Long overdue if you ask me. People are too worried about sucking him off in this town or if we call him out he'll leave.....but he just has not been anywhere near the same player he was last year. Last year, I saw a hunger of which this season has not surfaced. As for pacing himself, I just don't see it.
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Unread postby BadBecks » Tue Feb 20, 2007 4:22 pm

Consiglire,
Tim Hardaway would not endorse your last statement.

I do agree with that opinion from Simmons. The knowledgeable fans notice the regression around town. I just think we are hoping he snaps out of it...and its looking doubtful. After "global icon", the other goal I remember is "to be the richest man in the world". Does that involve a ring? I doubt it.
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Unread postby swerb » Tue Feb 20, 2007 4:28 pm

Talk to me after the playoffs. If he carries this team on his back to the NBA Finals this piece will look pretty silly.

That said, the piece has merit. I've been saying all season that LeBron is pacing himself, and not playing his hardest.
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Unread postby pup » Tue Feb 20, 2007 4:56 pm

I've been saying all season that LeBron is pacing himself, and not playing his hardest.


I do not disagree at all. If he does turn it on, then the regular season will be forgotten rather quickly.

My question is, WHY? Why does he feel he can coast through the regular season? Why don't other stars (other than Shaq) feel the same way?

One thing I know from playing and watching sports for my entire life is how difficult it is to flip a switch. More times than not, you get burned doing this.

If he can actually turn it on the last couple of weeks and carry it through the post-season, then more power to him. I actually have some hope that it does not work, that makes him realize the regular season has meaning, and he comes back next year with a killer attitude.
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Unread postby consigliere » Tue Feb 20, 2007 5:00 pm

Spot on Pup.

He just may be pacing himself, and if in fact he truly is doing this, that pisses me off even more. Ask Wade, Kobe and Jordan if they ever paced themselves. Maybe SImmons has it right in that Lebron is just a second tier elite guy....
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Unread postby papacass » Tue Feb 20, 2007 5:56 pm

Bill Simmons really has it in for LeBron. Maybe LeBron blew him off for a chit-chat. But I can't stand Bill Simmons anyway.

I have zero respect for Simmons as a sportswriter. Zero.

It's funny that he chastises the media for beign too buddy-buddy with LeBron. Nobody in the sports biz is a bigger celebrity brown-noser than Simmons. I love how he casually drops MJ references in his columns ("I was 30 feet away from MJ at a restaurant. Oh, you weren't there? Too bad!")

It was Simmons who basically guaranteed LeBron wouldn't sign his contract extension last summer. Now, he's acting like LeBron is a fast-fading shooting star that Cleveland is saddled with and that, a year from now, no other team in their right mind would want. Isn't that essentially what he's saying by scoffing at his work ethic?

Sounds to me like sour grapes from a Boston fan.

I am so sick of Simmons' bipolar Boston experiences, which he force-feeds us at least a couple times a month. I don't care how difficult it was to watch Peyton finally beat the Patriots. I don't care that he's so bitter he's actually rooting against the Celtics. I don't care that he thinks God himself personally touched Red Sox Nation on that October night in 2004. I. Don't. Give. A. Shit. When a Cleveland fan can whine to a nationwide legion of readers the way Simmons can, I might be more accepting.

Simmons is the worst kind of sports fan. He's arrogant and condescending when his teams are good, he's bitter and spiteful when his teams are bad. And he hates Cleveland because Cleveland fans have written him one too many pieces of hate mail.

So I don't expect Simmons to be writing anything positive about Cleveland any time soon. That includes LeBron. Now, of course, if LeBron were a Celtic or Clipper, he'd be rushing to LeBron's defense.

But since he plays in pitiful ol' Cleveland, he's just a good-for-nothing, coaching-hating, sandbagging, full-of-himself, ripe-for-a-fall, overhyped, overrated, one-time boy wonder who Simmons is desperately hoping ends up as a coked-out basketball version of Dwight Gooden by age 25 so he has more fodder for his comic-relief columns.

Simmons is a bastard, another in the army of Cleveland-haters in the national media. I can't even stand his stupid grinning face on the front page of ESPN.com.
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Unread postby papacass » Tue Feb 20, 2007 6:07 pm

Bad Becks:

LeBron has to know that without a ring, he can never become a global icon. No one will take him seriously if he doesn't win championships. That is one aspect of his persona that will defnintely fade if he can't win titles. He won't be the "It" player he was in his first three seasons.

But as far as LeBron not having the internal fire to win a title? I don't buy it. He knows what he is capable of.
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Unread postby BadBecks » Tue Feb 20, 2007 6:11 pm

Indeed, I just can't resist to take a potshot at times at the King.
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Unread postby pup » Tue Feb 20, 2007 6:37 pm

Papa - Tell us how you really feel!

I love Simmons, because I find his articles funny, not for his sports journalism point of view. I know he writes for ESPN, but I would consider him more of an entertainment article than sports. I mean the guy can't even beat his own wife in picking games, so don't put too much cred in his sports points.

Oh yeah, and I agee with him about LeBron. If his piece is accurate, this wasn't coming from him, it was coming from people inside the NBA. Now if those people are his boys in the Celts front office they don't mean much. I would guess he had some time in Vegas to talk about the players with people outside of his inner circle.
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Unread postby leadpipe » Tue Feb 20, 2007 7:25 pm

Like him or hate him, it is safe to say the guy knows the NBA.
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Unread postby jb » Wed Feb 21, 2007 7:44 am

Lead Pipe wrote:Like him or hate him, it is safe to say the guy knows the NBA.


It is safer to say he echoes and mouthpieces the word on the street of the NBA insiders.

Just say it isn't so, though.

Still hoping this is overblown in the way the misguided Shaq backlash was in the mid 1990's. A case of the media hating on a supremely talented player who is a good dude who takes a shit load of largely unwarrented shit because he has some other intertests, is a good interview, and isn't winning titles immediately.

I mean, Simmons is giving him shit for coasting thru All Star activities. C'mon.
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Unread postby leadpipe » Wed Feb 21, 2007 6:00 pm

He had two hours of David Stern's time a little less than a year ago. So, what he has reiterated from that came straight from the horses mouth.

He has a lot of juice in that league.
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Unread postby swerb » Thu Mar 01, 2007 3:40 pm

Simmons posts the other side of The LeBron argument ... a good read:

http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/page2/b ... %3dsimmons

Time for two e-mails about the Global Icon from longtime readers -- Matt in Long Beach and L.A.'s Brian Spaeth, who runs the Yay Sports basketball blog. Just to be clear, Matt's e-mail arrived before Wade injured his shoulder last week. But these e-mails represent both ends of the LeBron Dilemma pretty nicely:

MATT IN LONG BEACH

I am writing to you with the aid of beer and Xanax, and which makes writing a coherent e-mail both challenging and ill-advised. But I'm from Cleveland, I've watched LeBron since he was a sophomore in high school, and I think I have some non-scout, non-Tim Legler based perspectives.

First off, there is NO doubt LeBron is taking the season off. And as one of the four optimistic Cleveland sports fans alive, I present this to you:

1. Last year, they were one rebound away from taking down the Pistons in six and moving on to the Heat (a very good matchup for them), but thanks to Ilgauskas, Varejao and Flip Murray, they missed three straight rebounds off Detroit free throws which would have given LeBron (virtually unstoppable at that point) one of three chances to score ONE hoop.

2. LeBron was coming off a season in which he NO doubt deserved the MVP, and put on a truly effort-based performance in the playoffs. (Remember, no one mentioned his killer instinct when he shot three consecutive daggers into Washington's hopes, and then literally bruised his way to three wins against Detroit.)

3. His team's two biggest signings in his tenure have been Larry Hughes (a complete bust) and Ilgauskas, who signed a five-year deal and realized that no matter where he is in five years, he will still be a viable big man on any team. Z's been playing with less heart and effort than you would think BECAUSE he's a 7-foot-3 slow white man with bad feet, but trust me he's still a liability on both ends of the floor, and has been starting in a "showcasing" role for two years and sitting during crunch time during the last two seasons.

4. He just watched his friend and rival D-Wade take advantage of having Shaq, Payton, Walker, Mourning, Haslem and Jason Williams (all better than their current counterparts on the Cavs), as well as silly officiating almost explicitly aimed at making a new star after Kobe's near-trial.

Now LeBron is tired and frustrated. He's waiting for Z to get a rebound. He's waiting for Marshall to make a layup. ... If LeBron had competent teammates (not good ones, competent ones), there is NO DOUBT he would be averaging eight assists per game. Watch tapes from last season, he had guys legitimately blowing 5-7 great looks a game (bunnies, dunks, layups). He has NO confidence in his teammates, so naturally his passing and shot selection dwindled. He's now in Year 4 and the best shooter he's ever played with is Damon Jones who's one trade away from setting the record for most teams played for in a career. Think about what he's had: J.R. Bremer, Eric Williams, Lucious Harris, Ricky Davis, David Wesley, Eric Snow. ... These are guys that started!!

I think he's frustrated AND exhausted. Outside of Iverson, NO ONE gets beat up like him. No one. Wade jumps aimlessly with his back to the basket into traffic, throws the ball over his head and gets a whistle five times a game. Dwyane Wade is Reggie Wayne: Fast, agile and you better not touch him. LeBron is LaDainian. Can you imagine how good LeBron would be with Lorenzo Neal setting picks at the free throw line for him? He took the WBC's off because they were the World Basketball Championships. Remember? He was regrouping. He started the season as a MORTAL lock to enter the playoffs as a top-four seed, knows he could put up 29-7-7 every night and STILL not win the MVP ... so screw it, he coasted a little (and keeps coasting).

The real issue: We crowned him the next Jordan before he played a game, forgetting that Chicago didn't give MJ a supporting cast for six years. LeBron outperformed expectations in his first three seasons; in his fourth season, even though he's been a "disappointment," the Cavs are within 2.5 games of the No. 1 seed and sitting in a better position than Kobe's Lakers and Wade's Heat. (By the way, he's 3-1 this season against Wade and Kobe.) The next two months are completely and utterly irrelevant -- LeBron is saving himself for the playoffs and a true push against a wide-open Eastern Conference.

So before we start talking about Wade passing LeBron, let's see if Wade and Miami can climb above .500, and let's see what happens in May. Assuming Wade gets that far.

BRIAN SPAETH IN LOS ANGELES

When Bill e-mailed to solicit my thoughts on LeBron, I was torn. On one hand, despite RoundieGate, I like ESPN.com.

On the other hand, I don't want LeBron to hate me.

Alas, I thought back to the 2006 playoffs, when I cried after LeBron hit that second game-winner against Washington. Cried? Yes ... because it wasn't the win. It was the whole paradigm shift that LeBron James was forcing on me. And yes, it was forced. It sounds melodramatic, but this whole scenario wasn't possible to the Clevelander in me.

It now turns out I may have been right -- the 2006 playoffs were perhaps just a moment, and not the beginning of an era.

Rehashing is bourgeois, but LeBron did everything we'd all been waiting for, and the lessons about defense, intensity and giving 100 percent were learned. 2007 was the year -- 58 wins, the one seed, and an inevitable LBJ MVP. So the Cavs started 2-0, including a legitimate road win in San Antonio. The next two games were total WTF losses to Charlotte and Atlanta, and LeBron was completely absent in both. Oh, he put up his numbers, but he just ... wasn't there. And this continued, albeit under the radar, especially since the team was in first place. LeBron was putting up 25-6-6 effortlessly, so the national media would check the box score, then rip on the lack of support for a Bobcats loss.

Everyone I talked to was like "They're in first place!" and "Stop complaining!" My response: "Do you even watch the games? This team doesn't try. They're unwatchable."

By late November, I vowed not to watch anymore, except in certain situations. (For example, I loopholed the deal by saying I'm watching "the TNT game" instead of "Cavs-Heat." Another trick I used -- lie and watch all the games anyway.) I was angry at my team, but I wasn't angry at LeBron ... yet. I blamed Coach Mike Brown. His lack of a viable offensive scheme and inability to correctly use players was/is astounding.

Here's the thing with Coach Mike, though. When LeBron plays hard, everyone follows, and the liabilities in the game plan are overcome. The schemes could be (much) better, but they are there. And so, I've come to my current stance -- the problem is LeBron. I wish it weren't, but it is. Coach as motivator is one thing, but that should only be necessary to a point, and not to one who alleges to be an all-time great. There's also no way Coach Mike is telling LeBron "drift around for awhile, then jack a jumper."

So what's going on? That's simple -- he's either exhausted/distracted from all the ancillary stuff, or ... he plain old doesn't want it.

The former choice is correctable. The latter is the unfixable/tragic one, and in a Cleveland tradition, I hereby dub this theory "The Malaise." The mere idea of it is pumped full of so much potential for emotional disaster, "The Shot" and "The Drive" could be completely forgotten in its wake.

Makes one want to cry.
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