All the Way With LBJ

Here’s a big question in the Toy Department, professional basketball division: has LeBron James, 21-year-old hoops wizard and savvy Goliath of the sneaker wars, done enough this year to be named MVP of the National Basketball Association? Or will he, as I suspect, need to pay further dues? (And just by the way, by what club are these “dues” being collected? Presumably, it’s the CREWS – the Chronically Resentful and Envious Writers of Sports.)

I wish I was seeing more LeBron Live than Magazine LeBron and King James the Pitchman. Even a jaded old dunks-are-overrated dude like me can get a buzz from some of his highlight reels, but there are several things about James that excite me a whole lot more. One of the first times I saw him play, he tapped a loose ball toward a teammate and hustled out to fill a lane on the fastbreak. The dunk at the end was sweet, but I was blown away by his hustle and speed; I’ve ever seen a big man so fast. And he fills up scoresheets, not just the points column, not to mention that with a Sports Illustrated cover in 11th grade (and another at 20 musing about him being “The Best of All Time” when he hadn’t even made the playoffs yet), James has every reason to be a flaming idiot.

My impression is that he isn’t. He speaks thoughtfully, doesn’t appear to think he’s bigger than the game, and his teammates seem to enjoy playing with him.  Best of all – at least until he becomes a philanthropist and advocate for the disadvantaged – LeBron James loves to pass. For a young guy with hops and scoring ability, he understands the game at a high level. He’s rare. I loved what he said last week, which went something like this: it’s cool to get that ‘Oooh’, but when you make the great pass, you get two ‘Ooohs’, one for the dime and one for the dunk. Not to mention that, suddenly, the game isn’t all about ME anymore. Imagine: brothers in short pants doing their thing together. Unselfishly!

Things are looking good for the Association when its Most Valuable Player is likely to be either King James or the reigning king of delivery, Steve Nash. And looking at the dominance of the Pistons, it looks like Team Ball and “playing the right way” (ah, but Larry Brown, where are you now?) are getting cooler by the quarter. Nice!!

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