- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
They measure 9 1/4 inches from the bottom of his palm to the top of his middle finger, and he's been able to palm a basketball since the 10th grade. This allows him not only to wave it around if he so pleases on drives but also to grab a disproportionate number of one-handed rebounds. It also enables him to throw passes with astonishing velocity. "At first I had to get used to it because he'd surprise me," says Szczerbiak. "He'll be on the other side of the court and—bam!—the ball's right in your shooting pocket."
The Cav catching many of those passes this season is Williams, who was acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks in a three-team trade last August. That Williams is a point guard with a shooting guard's mentality is O.K. by James, who says he loves that Williams "has confidence and doesn't hesitate." That Williams is accurate doesn't hurt either; according to 82games.com he was third in the NBA this season in two-point jump shot accuracy (49.4%). The result: James finally has the sidekick he's longed for. "Every night I go out on the court, I know there's a guy I can rely on to make things happen for the team and himself and for me," says James. What he does not add is, It's about time, but no one would blame him if he did.
Brain (Like a CEO's)
As physically gifted as James is, Ravin says his "soft skills" might be his greatest asset. "He's so engaging and able to command so much attention and respect that people will mimic him," says Ravin. "That's very powerful, especially in a league of guys trying to fit in."
This season, James is even more vocal. He cajoles, he ribs, he commands, all with his coach's blessing. During huddles James suggests plays, and on the floor he has the freedom to change defensive matchups. So when you see James switch onto an elite scorer like Bryant or Blazers guard Brandon Roy, it is his decision, not Brown's.
James's knowledge of the game is such that McMillan thinks he could coach one day. Then again, as McMillan notes, "When you have that type of mind and then the talent that he has, he could do pretty much whatever he wants."
And that's the really scary part. At age 24 James is already one of the two best players on the planet while remaining far from a finished masterpiece. (The other, the 30-year-old Bryant, is pretty well-refined at this point.) "We saw him grow up from 18 to 24," says Ferry. "And we're going to see him change again from now until 30. We just don't know how."
Even James can't help but marvel at his potential sometimes. "If I'm just getting my man-strength now," he says, "I don't want to see me at 32."