Shooba is the NBAMate Celtics fan – the guy we spoke to back in late ‘07 after the arrival of the new-look Celtics and the guy who outlandishly (and ultimately correctly) predicted “Paul Pierce will out-perform Kobe Bryant’” in the 2008 NBA Finals. He also once famously claimed ‘Lebron is overrated’ and today he sips the LBJ Hatorade for NBAMate. Tomorrow he’s back to swallow his pride and say something nice about Lebron… as tough as that will be.

5. He is the class captain of the much hyped free agent class of 2010. OK, we get it. It’s a loaded class. Teams are tanking so they have an outside shot at Wade/Bosh/Dirk/Joey J/Amare/Redd… But this LeBron thing has gotten out of control. Face it folks, there are two (TWO) possibilities. He stays. He goes to a New York franchise (Either the Brooklyn Jay-Zs or the New York Knicks). And the decision will be made behind closed doors, with political motives and economic factors taking priority over the game itself.* So the less we try and read into the way LeBron plays the media for puppets the better. That is why I put 2010 on this list… LeBron is playing up to it, loving every second, and using every chance he gets to make sure he is in a headline.

*If Cleveland win or come very close to a title between now and 2010 there’s a 80% chance he stays.

The reason I don’t like LeBron’s little e-bay auction is because it’s inherently tied up in greed. This is something most Aussies will probably agree with me on. We love the humble battler. We love the guy who’ll take a pay cut to help out his mates. We love the guy who, even if he’s wealthy, won’t throw it around and make a song-and-dance about it. LeBron James has been obscenely wealthy since he was eighteen. More money than any one person deserves, especially someone who plays sport for a living. That’s not my knock on him, since he is not alone amongst NBA players. They make billions for their team owners, so they’re entitled to a substantial cut. What aggravates me about LeBron is the mentality to money he exudes. Wanting to be a billionaire. PUBLICLY DECLARING that fact. Classless…

Not Pictured: Dignity

4. His Fans. Not so much his fault, I realise, but nonetheless. In Australia, LeBron’s main fans can be classified in one of three categories:

  • Those too Young to remember Jordan
  • Those desperate for And1 highlight dunks
  • Hardcores who wear his jersey to hang at the shopping centre

I’m not talking Cavs fans here, since I’m sure there must still be a couple of genuine pre-LeBron Cavs fans. And I’m not talking about people who are fans of his game or playing style. I mean the people who check LeBron’s stats before they see if the Cavs won. The people who’ll come up to you and ask you if you “saw LeBron’s dunk” as the first basketball-related conversation you ever share. The bandwagon fans. Ugh. I would rather talk about the Melbourne Vixens’ most recent game than speak to one of these guys about the NBA.

3. The Chalk Clap. Pictures say 1000 words.

Apologies to Mr. Jordan and Mr. Garnett

2. Foul calls. I admit freely the reason this article is being written is that I just watched LeBron drop a triple-double on the Suns (He may in fact have shot Anderson Varejao had the Brazilian hauled in LeBron’s last-second tenth rebound). LeBron also recorded three blocked shots. Check that. Two blocked shots and one crime against humanity. I now present to you, thanks to Prof. Huburt J. Farnsworth’s mind-reading device, the transcript of the referees thoughts during the play which generated a five point swing for the Cavs and altered the game completely…

“Oh wow, LeBron screwed up that offensive possession. Tempted to call an innocuous foul on Matt Barnes there, but better save it for crunch time… Fast break suns, J-Rich on the break. Oh wow, he’s going to go for a 360! Cool! Wait… LeBron’s coming. Oh God he’s going to block him. Woah, LeBron got ALL arm on that one. J-Rich may be the blackest man alive… but his arm is red from that clear, identifiable and unquestionable WHACK it received. I reckon I could’ve heard that one even without my hearing aid. Hmmm… nationally televised… Stern… LeBron… Hmmmm…”

NO CALL!

Later, the Associated Press Recap (Generally the Recap syndicated by Yahoo, ESPN, NBA.com etc…) said that “foul or not, it was a remarkably athletic play”. I’m sorry Associated Press… but there was no “or not” option listed. The issue should not be how remarkably athletic the play was; the issue should be calling for referee blood after a game-changing blunder…

Unfortunately, LeBron has a “superstar respect” tag the likes of which we’ve never seen. Perhaps not his fault, but the way he uses the googly-eyed expression when he does get called for a foul, we can’t say it’s NOT his fault either.

1. His game. I appreciate his game. I admire it. I would be lying through my teeth and all the teeth in China if I said I didn’t ENVY his game. I wish he was on my beloved Celtics. I wish I could run/jump/shoot/rebound/pass like he does. But I don’t like his game.

LeBron’s game is power and explosiveness. He has a lot of talent (Thank you Capt. Obvious) but he is also one of the most physically gifted freaks on the planet. Manute Bol, Dwight Howard, Johnnie Holmes, Frank Richards and Jessica Alba may be the only humans who could understand what it’s like to be as freakish as LeBron.

But me, personally? I have always preferred the more cerebral players. The guys who make the subtle adjustments and think about their next play. LeBron does it occasionally. Kobe does it most of the time. Tim Duncan does it all the time. I always ask how a player would react if they suffered a serious injury setback. Wade has found a way to come back. Kobe is getting on in years but has adjusted accordingly. Jordan stopped slashing and started draining 16-foot fadeaways over kids half his age. Duncan hasn’t been 100% in years. I’m not so sure LeBron has the capacity to do it. Don’t get me wrong… He can charge the lane and dunk on heads as though he was Dominique and Darryl Dawkins’ lovechild.

I demand you immediately picture this love scene

But still, I just can’t bring myself to like his game. I may be the only human alive who would rather watch the Spurs than the Cavs. I would rather see Nash run the floor (after traveling through time to 2005) than watch LeBron. I would pay good money to see Grant Hill had he remained injury free. In fact, Grant Hill presents the perfect comparison. Do a bit of research and check out Hill’s second and third seasons. Redunkulous. Absolutely insane. LeBron before there was LeBron. Grant Hill was a lesser (still astonishing) physical specimen who compensated by playing smart and playing with intelligence.

LeBron’s game will win him this year’s MVP. It’ll most likely win him rings before all is said and done. He’ll get play of the year, appear on SportsCenter a thousand times and YouTube his way into the hearts of millions. But his game relies on his physical gifts more than it should, and ultimately I can’t bring myself to truly like it. I just can’t. Give me Timmy D any day.


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