LeBron will learn, adapt after poor NBA Finals debut
Posted: Friday June 8, 2007 2:09AM; Updated: Friday June 8, 2007 5:15PM
SAN ANTONIO -- Being LeBron James isn't as easy as the Pistons made it look.
So jaded am I by years of endless dial-turning and channel surfing that I can hear the future broadcasts playing in my head. The next 48 hours is vitriolic. "LeBron James, what a disappointment.'' "The whole country was looking forward to these NBA Finals and we were all let down by LeBron.'' "LeBron is no Michael Jordan, let me tell you.'' "The Cavaliers would have been better off without LeBron.'' "Paris Hilton is having a better week than LeBron.'' "We have seen the new Sanjaya and his name is LeBron.''
Already I am sick of hearing these things that haven't even been said yet.
When I look at LeBron's NBA Finals debut line of 14 points, 4-for-16 from the floor, four assists and six turnovers, here's what I think:
It's not so bad.
Maybe I am allergic to talk radio. Maybe I don't want to agree with the electronic voices from the future ringing in my head.
But I can't help but think that this is as bad as it's going to be for James, that he's going to play better in Game 2 on Sunday, and that even with him having one of the worst nights of his career, his Cavaliers went down by the relatively small deficit of 85-76.
"I feel good,'' James said afterwards. "You have one off night, but it's not like the NCAA tournament where you have one game and you're out.''
No, this is more like the opening straw poll in Ames, Iowa, which precede the Iowa caucuses that are followed by the New Hampshire primary and then whatever else comes next. John McCain is down in the polls, but is he guaranteed to lose the election? That's where LeBron stands now.
He and most of his teammates had never been in this position before, and they were going up against a team that makes annual plans for a parade in June. The Spurs had more than a week of rest, which helped Tim Duncan double James on the perimeter and still work his way back underneath to block five shots and clean up 13 rebounds. "Defensively we kept our focus pretty good for 48 minutes, and that's what got us through tonight,'' said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
This was like watching the younger Peyton Manning in a big playoff game at New England. Either Bruce Bowen or Manu Ginobili were harrassing James relentlessly, and other Spurs would step out to cut off his lanes before he could attack them. No sooner had LeBron bowled over Bowen while dribbling into the block than he faced up to find Duncan like Bowen's big brother looking down on him to block the shot.
1 of 2