This is not the look of a man who just got poked in the eye.
This is the look of a man who we once collectively ridiculed for not being a champion. Do you remember that? You should because it wasn’t that long ago.
This is a man who I once said was too nice for his own good and that he needed to find his inner mean streak before he could win a championship. There was no other way.
He did that and now LeBron James is the best basketball player on the planet. That point is inarguable. Kobe’s great but a leg-weary 34. Kevin Durant is a phenomenon but is still in only his sixth year in the league. We are currently watching LeBron James in his prime. What’s scary is that he could, conceivably, get better.
For those of you not keeping score at home, LeBron James already has three MVP trophies, two more than Kobe and Durant combined. Only four players in the history of the game have four or more: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. LeBron will soon be in their company. In fact, that might happen this June.
While his Miami Heat team isn’t quite living up to expectations, and by that I mean they’ve actually lost some games this season, LeBron is still averaging 26 points per game, down from his career average of 27.6 (I laugh) and shooting, wait for it, 54.6% from the floor, which is a career high. And oh, yeah, he’s also posting a Brono-typical eight boards and seven assists per game. Somewhere, Oscar Robertson is breathing a sigh of relief.
Last year, LeBron finally body-slammed that monkey from his back by winning a championship and now he’s one, inevitable step closer to fulfilling his public promise of “Not three, not four, not five…” Betting on someone else at this point would be throwing away money.
How do I know this? Because he showed up to the Staples Center Thursday night, opting to skip the Oprah-Lance interview that everyone else watched, and poured in a season-high 39 points, along with eight assists, seven rebounds, not to mention countless thunderously, demoralizing dunks. He was, in a word, unstoppable. This happened one night after scoring 25 and crushing Golden State by 17. Ho hum! Just another two days at the office.
No matter how hard Kobe tried Thursday night, he was no match, nor was his supporting cast. Few teams in the league are, as we’ll see even more so come playoff time. It’s okay, though, basketball fans. While the end result may be anti-climactic, LeBron James will ensure we enjoy watching the ride.
Heck, his talent might be the only thing in sport worth believing in these days.