The Voice- Blog #3
Published by CROWN staff on June 2, 2009
If you’re going to take it to the bank, then you better cash it in.
- Shannon Fish
If you told me two weeks ago that the Orlando Magic would win the East, I’d slap a “crazy” sign on your forehead and mail you to a shrink. It turns out I’m the one that’s crazy. Frankly, I was disgusted with Cleveland’s play. On my list for Cleveland’s Team MVP in the playoffs, I’d put guys like Mo Williams and Wally Szczerbiak behind the water boy and the mesh bags the Cavs carry basketballs in. Mo Williams especially annoyed me, playing like a $75-a-week Mongolian League scrub with a bad attitude. More importantly though, a theory of mine was proven: LeBron still isn’t as good as Kobe Bryant, a.k.a. The Greatest Current Player Alive.
I’ll start by saying that I don’t blame Cleveland’s loss on King James. He did everything he could. What we saw was a beast of an athlete who is so dominant, and yet still raw in a lot of ways. He reminds me of a super hero who’s born with a gift but struggles to control it. Then on the other hand you have Kobe. What flaws are there in his game? I can’t think of any. Now we can debate all day and night about statistics, but greatness is about more than stats. Kobe is a better shooter and pure scorer, while LeBron gets more rebounds and assists. We all know that. But stats are a product of the situation you play in. If Kobe played in Cleveland, his stats would be inflated because he’d literally have to run every play for his team. That’s not the point. It’s the small things that make the player great. Consider the following points, using the two Conference Final series as examples.
Clutch shots – Whether it was nailing 3s, fade-away Js, or shooting a ridiculous 93% from the charity stripe, Kobe put on a show against Denver. If you watched the series then you already know this. Meanwhile, LeBron had his inconsistent shooting exposed. He clearly dominates opponents in the paint. So what happens when the paint is closed? He shoots 29% from 3 against the Magic, and misses 24 free throws throughout the series. Considering that 2 games were lost by one bucket, those stats are very telling.
Turnovers – LeBron holds the ball longer than any player I’ve ever seen. He dribbles, dribbles, and then dribbles some more. He drives, pulls back, spins, pulls back, and does it again. Two things often happen as a result: he gets stripped, or he’ll get stuck in traffic and force a bad pass. The longer you hold the ball, the easier you are to defend. Then you have Kobe with his ‘sniper’ mentality. He sees daylight and he just goes for it. You give him a lane? Boom, he’s gone. You give him a look at the hoop? Bam, he shoots over you. Done. You don’t have time to put the shackles on him. The result? Kobe averages 2.3 turnovers a game against Denver, while LeBron averages 4.2 against Orlando.
Decision making – As Cleveland’s heart and soul, I think LeBron tries too hard sometimes, making plays he shouldn’t. Forcing passes. Slashing against 3 defenders. Dribbling too much and then chucking up a jumper as the shot clock expires. Then you have Kobe who lets the game flow more naturally. It’s hard to explain. I guess it’s the way he slithers around defenders, not trying to break through them. It’s the way he moves the ball around and keeps his team flowing, and how he uses screens to get open and knock defenders off balance. You can’t teach it; you can only watch and be amazed.
LeBron James is arguably the greatest physical specimen to ever play basketball. I love him as a player. But basketball is a game where the little things make all the difference. Forget his amazing stats, and let’s focus on what he needs to improve: his shooting, turnover problems, and decision-making. What does Kobe need to work on? Your guess is as good as mine. He is unstoppable on offence, great on defence (as is LeBron), and he consistently makes the right decisions with the ball. Can LeBron make these adjustments? Unquestionably. I said before that he reminds me of a super hero who is still learning to use his powers. Imagine Batman struggling to drive the Batmobile, or Wolverine figuring out how to use his claws. It’s scary, because you know that soon they’ll work it out and become unstoppable. One day LeBron just may be the best. But until that day my friends, you can’t tell me that Kobe isn’t the best player on the planet.
Got something on your mind? Drop a comment below. I’d like to read what you have to say.
In other news…
As you might have already heard, the All Canada Classic presented by PHASE1 is happening this weekend at Seneca College. Come out and get a look at Canada’s top talent as they show off their game! A bunch of us from Crown Mag will be there covering it all so you can get an all-access look at the event. I’ll be walking around all weekend doing interviews. It should be a lot of fun! Check out the Latest News section for more info.