But in paging through a couple of the local rags and a few internet sites it was interesting to read that more than a few folks who watch and write about basketball for a living occasionally whisper about LBJ’s penchant for drawing attention to himself any time he hits the floor or sustains a minor injury.
And I’m not going to lie. I agree with them. He’s difficult to watch when the clock is stopped.
The last such occasion was this past Thursday night in San Antonio. James went up for a shot, come down awkwardly and then writhed on the ground looking as though he’d been shot. After a few minutes of watching James grimace, groan and roll around like he was on fire, he was assisted off the court. He returned a few moments later looking as fresh and as healthy as a man could look.
That act does wear a bit thin. The people I was watching the game with immediately rolled their eyes and then resumed doing what they were doing with no concern that anything was actually wrong with The Franchise. More than one of them used the term ‘drama queen’ to describe James as well.
James has been in the national spotlight seemingly since he was 14 years old. He truly loves it there. He loves the attention that his greatness brings him and he’s more comfortable in that spotlight than out of it. He’s as conscious as any player in the history of the game about his reputation and his legacy. He also realizes there is no better way to prove his toughness than to get up from a fall or a collision and keep playing at a level few players have ever reached.
But increasingly more often, those displays appear to be forced and contrived. The snarl and sneer after a bucket and a foul or lying on the floor for minutes while the camera focuses on him and the announcers tell us, “That’s one guy the Cavs can not afford to see go down” tend to lean more toward ‘diva’ than tough.
That’s not the reputation James is looking to cultivate. But he’s headed that way.
Speaking of Thursday night in San Antonio, that may have easily been the best basketball game the Cav have put together all season. Dare I say, it was almost as if the Cavs showed up to play en masse. Cleveland got major contributions from James, Daniel Gibson, Anderson Varejao, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and, to an extent, help from Damon Jones and some defensive assistance from Larry Hughes.
Even with multiple opportunities to fold up shop and quit, the Cavs played the Spurs hard and came away with an impressive victory in a difficult place to play. It may have taken a couple of uncharacteristic Tony Parker misses at the free throw line but the Cavs put pressure on San Antonio throughout the night and earned the victory.
It was just a regular season road win against a quality opponent but it was encouraging to see LBJ get some help and some big efforts from his friends in a game few gave them a chance to win.
It’s unlikely we’ve seen the last of the Cav team that has muddled its way through the first half of the season, but for one night the Cavs gave many of us hope that they can still put it together and be a force when the playoffs roll around.
Be that as it may (but the officiating in that Navy game was as bad as I’ve ever seen), the ’07-’08 version of the Vikings is making some noise and announcing that the program is again one to be reckoned with.
The Vikings shocked #12 Butler Thursday night at the Wolstein Center and followed it up nicely with a win over perennial mid-major power Valparaiso on Saturday evening. Suddenly CSU finds themselves at 7-0 in the Horizon League (14-5 overall) and gunning for a bye in the conference tournament as well as an NCAA tournament berth.
Head Coach Gary Waters has infused this Viking team with a defensive mentality and the confidence that they belong on the same floor with the Horizon powers. And Waters has the cache that taking Kent State to the NCAAs brings.
The Butler win may turn out to be a watershed victory for the Vikings. The Bulldogs came into the CSU game at 16-1, with that #12 ranking, and sporting wins over major programs such as Michigan, Virginia Tech, Texas Tech, Florida State and a 19-point win over the Ohio State Buckeyes. That the Vikings went toe-to-toe with a very good basketball team and came out with a win is impressive enough. Making it even more impressive is the fact that Waters demanded the same mind-set from his troops two nights later against Valparaiso and they delivered.
Certainly there will be growing pains and some difficulties ahead for a young team that is probably less talented than most of the teams they will face from here on out. But Waters has brought the program back to prominence with the team’s performance thus far. And it’s far easier to sell CSU to potential recruits if they’re again a relevant squad on the hardwood. That hasn’t been the case since the days of Mouse McFadden, Eric Mudd, Clinton Ransey and Shawn Hood running the floor for Kevin Mackey.
Apparently there is a price to pay for attending games and wasting road Sundays on the couch all day. That price is apparently wear and tear on the couch and the need for a new one. And you can’t replace just the couch. At least my wife can’t. No, the couch always requires a matching love seat. And while we’re looking at couches and love seats, we may as well look at that entertainment center too.
I was coming to grips with Derek Anderson’s miserable day in Cincinnati costing the Browns a trip to the playoffs as well as millions of dollars in potential revenues. I was just not aware that DA’s meltdown was going to cost me so much time and money personally.
Just another reason I’m rooting hard for Brady Quinn to take the reins next fall. I look forward to watching him while relaxing on my sage-green micro-fiber sofa with recliners or on the matching, reclining love seat.
To date, to show for all of it, the Indians have acquired Jamey Carroll and Masahide Kobayashi.
You can’t say we’re not fanatical about the Tribe or that we don’t do all we can to fuel the hot stove over the winter months.
The best news? The equipment truck leaves for Winter Haven in less than a month. Opening Day is 10 weeks away. 10 weeks ago the Browns were losing 31-28 in Pittsburgh and I was still 40. 10 weeks doesn’t seem all that long when you look at it like that.
Every once in a while the sports gods conspire to do the right thing. Occasionally long suffering fans will be rewarded for their hardships and frustration by seeing their teams in the World Series, the NBA Finals or the Super Bowl.
Such is the case with those downtrodden New York and Boston fans. I mean, seriously, how long has it been for these two lovable loser cities?
Those poor bastards will at long last get to see a couple of their teams in a big game after New England took care of a decimated San Diego squad and the Giants Lawrence Tynes was able to redeem himself for two prior mistakes, kicking a frozen stone 47 yards for a field goal that beat the Green Bay Packers in overtime.
It’ll also be nice to see a member of the Manning family get some face time in the media over the next couple weeks. Eli Manning threw no TD passes but he also threw no interceptions. That was two fewer than Brett Favre and on a day when mistakes and field position were critical, that was the difference.