31 May 2007

We Are All Witnesses

Ladies and gentlemen: tonight, we witnessed the emergence of Lebron James.

The numbers that show up in the box score are impressive – 48 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists.

From the time there was 6:05 left in the fourth quarter, when his team was ahead 79-78, Lebron scored 29 of the Cavaliers’ 30 points. He scored every point for the Cavs in the first overtime. Every point for the Cavs in the second overtime.

Lebron James, over 16 minutes, equaled the point output of the Detroit Pistons. Other than a Drew Gooden free throw, it was all Lebron.

More impressive than the numbers, though, was the way he looked. There was something in his eyes, in his body language, that said we are not going to lose this game. It was truly amazing to behold. It wasn't something I've ever seen from Lebron before.

I’ve been critical of Lebron in the past; I’ve said that he’s too passive, that he settles for too many jump shots. I’ve said that he waits too long to begin playing, that he sometimes doesn’t seem to care.

Tonight, Lebron cared. It was evident in every move he made, from when he jumped over a prone Anderson Varejao to confront a soon-to-be-ejected Antonio McDyess, to the driving, twisting layup with 2.29 seconds left in the second overtime.

It’s not often I witness a sporting event that leaves me in awe, unable to rise from my seat, unwilling to miss a moment. Glavine’s gem in the sixth game of the 1995 World Series. Florida vs. Butler in the first round of the 2000 NCAA tournament – the Mike Miller layup at the buzzer.

The ending of the fourth quarter, and then both overtimes, in this game, as Lebron James finally fulfilled that dazzling potential of his.

Was this the greatest playoff performance in NBA history? I can’t say; the league has a history far longer than my lifetime.

Was this the greatest playoff performance I have ever seen?

Absolutely.

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