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Four Games Against the Boston Celtics

Posted by Neil Paine on May 12, 2010

Here are 4 miserable games by 2 great players vs. the Boston Celtics in the Big Three era:

MP FG FGA 3P 3PA FT FTA ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
41:40 3 14 0 4 9 12 1 5 6 7 1 0 3 3 15
38:49 2 18 0 6 8 10 2 7 9 9 1 1 10 4 12
43:21 6 19 0 2 5 6 0 4 4 10 4 0 2 4 17
42:46 7 22 3 9 5 5 1 2 3 1 1 0 4 1 22

The first is LeBron James' game last night. Who are the other 3?

In order: LeBron, Kobe, and Kobe.

Much has been made about how disappointing James' performance was last night, and it certainly was. It was awful. The entire Cavaliers team, save for Shaquille O'Neal, struggled. Criticism of James & the Cavs' play in last night's game is totally deserved.

But two things stand out to me about the reaction to the "LeBacle":

  1. As Henry Abbott wrote about here, there's now a great deal of backlash against James on the basis of one game, one bad performance. People are even saying that this puts the Kobe-LeBron debate to rest. My response to this: look at the stats at the beginning of this post! Have you forgotten how badly Bryant played vs. Boston in the Finals 2 years ago? After those games, especially the elimination game in which the Lakers were whooped 131-92, people were saying that Kobe's legacy was "tarnished forever"... Fast forward a year, and he was an NBA champion again, legacy stronger than ever. I know we have a tendency to be shortsighted and reactionary as a culture, but the same people criticizing LeBron James today have to look no further than Kobe Bryant's history to see that one bad game against a strong defense is hardly enough to ruin someone's legacy.
  2. The critics are also acting as though LeBron missed all those shots in any empty gym. Um, don't you think maybe the Celtics had a little to do with James' nightmare game? Just like they perhaps played a role in Bryant's Finals meltdown in 2008? Or is it just a coincidence that 2 of the greatest players of all time have disappeared in big moments against the same defense?

Anyway, it galls me to see people drawing conclusions about James' character from a weak game vs. the Boston Celtics. It's not the first time he's had a bad game against this defense. He's not the first future Inner-Circle player these Celtics have shut down and embarrassed in a big spot. And a poor performance against them (with his legacy supposedly on the line) didn't stop Kobe Bryant from winning a title just one year later. So why are we jumping to the conclusion that LeBron James is suddenly a weak-willed choker on the basis of last night's game?

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159 Responses to “Four Games Against the Boston Celtics”

  1. David Says:

    Let me try: The Celtics have been playing roughly .500 ball for some time (regular season). The CAVS vs BOS eff diff is 7.3 vs. 4.3. The CAVS have home court. The CAVS have the best player in the NBA. The Celtics are old, really old. And now the CAVS are facing elimination in BOS. Call it unfair, short-sighted, what have you... But Lebron may start to look a lot like Dirk soon. Great player, MVP player, HOF player, but don't count on a title with him as your number 1.

  2. Neil Paine Says:

    The Celtics were pretty obviously not trying their hardest in the second half of the regular season. At the beginning of the season, through Christmas, they were as good as any team in the league. The more I see them play in these playoffs, the more I'm convinced the real 2010 Boston Celtics are the pre-Christmas version, which resembled the 2008 team, not the old-looking, lackadaisical version you saw in the second half of the season. Losing to these rejuvenated, 2008-esque Celts is not really something to be ashamed of.

  3. Vase Says:

    David--

    Your Dirk example is interesting because Dirk, like Lebron, has had supporting cast issues his whole career. To wit, Dallas has always been able to throw money at guys to increase their depth, but neither Dallas nor Cleveland have been able to get that number 2 guy, that Pippen/Gasol/Ginobili/Kobe-from-the-dynasty player to compliment Dirk and Lebron.

  4. Sean Says:

    We're jumping to that conclusion because memories are short, especially when it comes to sports. On the one hand, LeBron has delivered in these sort of situations before (pushing the Pistons to 7 games in the 2006 semis, Game 5 against the Pistons in 2007, Game 7 against the Celts in 2008, his output during the Cavs' run last postseason etc.,); on the other, he's been guilty of mailing in games before and coasting (the first half of the 2007 regular season is a prime example of this). There's something clearly wrong with him and his team, but I don't think it's indicative of mental weakness.

    Also, everyone conveniently forgets other stars who've submitted similiar performances. Kobe's Game 7 dud against the Suns in 2006 comes to mind, as does Magic Johnson and some of his struggles early in his career. Fans and sportswriters are, by nature, reactionary, and so they believe the happenings of one season or postseason to encapsulate everything, when in reality there is always next year (and the year after that).

  5. Caleb Says:

    I don't think people are freaking out just about Bron having a bad statistical night though. Most of the comments people are making are actually directed towards his perceived mentality during the game. Not saying I neccesarily agree, but its an important distinction to make.

  6. KJ84 Says:

    I would have to disagree just slightly on your point because this is supposed to be Lebron's redeem year so to speak after losing with the number 1 seed and best record in the league last year to the magic. Once again he is back in the whole with the number 1 seed and best record in the league. Their has to be a point where excuses are not made and blame is placed squarely on his shoulders if he will get all the praised. It was not simply a bad game it was the complete lack of effort throughout the entire game. Even in that game 7 dud game against the suns Kobe had almost twice the pts lebron had for the entire game and was a 7 or 8 seeded team as to where Lebron and the cavs are number 1 in the entire league. This version of the celtics is no where near as dominant as their 08 version a team that also had James Posey as their go to wing defender. So the comparisons of the two teams are just silly at best.

  7. Steven Says:

    LeBron isn't the problem with the Cavs. I think its ridiculous that people are saying the 3-2 hole is his fault. You can't honestly expect a guy to bring 30+ points and flirt with a triple double every game. And THAT is the level of play they need from Lebron to win this series. The reality is that even superstars have bad nights, Michael Jordan included.

    The Cavs have ALL of the same problems that they did last year, it's pretty amazing to me in spite of all of the players that they've added since this time last year. They still are completely lost without Lebron having a super human type game, which leads me to one conclusion: it's the coaching. It's not as if they don't have some skilled offensive players. Mo Williams is not a legitimate all star level guy, but he can give you some big scoring nights. Jamison is a great second fiddle on any team, and can consistently give you 20 per night. Even at his advanced age, Shaq showed that he could still be an important offensive contributor on the Suns last year.

    Mike Brown can do defense (even though I give more credit to his assistants in that regard). Mike Brown, if his Cleveland tenure has shown ANYTHING, cannot do offense. He's got to go, if Lebron really wants to avoid these post season struggles in Cleveland.

  8. Nikko Says:

    I agree with David in the first post. The Cavs had the overall number 1 seed. They have the best record, home court advantage, and the best player PER wise. How much more do they need to be able to defeat the FOURTH best team in the East, who finished behind the ATLANTA HAWKS, and went .500 for the second half of the season. I can guarantee you they actually tried the second half of the season, who would really want to face the best team in the NBA as the 4 seed. That is why this is a big deal

  9. Walter Says:

    Maybe I am missing something but it doesn't look like Kobe's games are close to Lebron's...

    Kobe: 19.5 pts, 3.0 TO, 2.5 Stl, 31.7% FG, 27.2% 3P, 90.9% FT
    Lebron: 13.5 pts, 6.5 TO, 1.0 Stl, 15.6% FG, 0.0% 3P, 77.2% FT

    Kobe scored roughly 50% more points, had half the turnovers, double the steals (making up for some of the TO's), and shot the ball much better from the field, behind the arc, and at the foul line.

    Now Kobe's games were not something to write home about, but I don't see them as being in the same ball-park as the stinkers that Lebron had.

  10. Gil Meriken Says:

    Kobe's bad games listed about don't look as quite as horrible as LeBron's clunkers. Kobe's bad games featured fewer turnovers and much better FG%.

  11. David Says:

    I agree on the sidekick thing. The Lebronettes start with him at the peak and then quickly fall to a bunch of slightly above-average players. The missing thing is the player in the middle, the sidekick. Upgrading the C position with a bonafide sidekick would help matters immensely. And I also am not a fan of the offensive coaching prowess of Mike Brown. He has gotten better but it seems a waste of Lebron's prime. I still think CLE pulls this series out. But ORL is favored to win it all this year anyway :)

  12. Guillermo Says:

    Um..Kobe was playing a historically great defense. If you want to throw statistics out like that, do your due diligence and disclose that fact. This celtics team is not the same team it was in 2008.

    Further more, as Caleb stated, the outcry isn't just from his poor night statistically, but from his perceived mentally.

    All that said, you are still right and people need to chill.

  13. Walter Says:

    I think one of the things I find most interesting about the Lebron saga is the difference between individual success and team success.

    For example, 4 of Michael Jordan's best 5 seasons statistically (both PPG and PER)were years that he did NOT win a title. Kobe's best two seasons statistically (PPG and PER) came during the Kwame-Smush era with first round eliminations.

    The point being, often times the best statistical season comes from a player doing most of the "heavly lifting" on the court and carrying his team. This translates into great individual statistics (and the accolades that go with it) but often results in early post-season exits (and the scrutiny associated with it).

    In order for the Cavs to win a title they need to run the offense for the whole team and not just Lebron. Almost all plays are ran strictly through Lebron which helps his gaudy stats when you touch the ball almost every possession, but it becomes easy for a great defense to defend in the playoffs.

    I honestly think (and maybe it is because I am a Lakers fan) but if Kobe Bryant were to play on a team where the ball went through him almost every possession (like Lebron, Chris Paul, Steve Nash, etc...) that he could fairly easily average 30 and 8 for a whole season. Fortunately for him, the Lakers run a triangle offense which result in numerous possessions where he doesn't even touch the ball and thus doesn't have the number of opportunities to create for others. I said "fortunately" in the previous sentence because it is the great triangle offense that helps to keep defenses from locking down the Lakers offensively for the most part and has led to numerous titles (both for LA and Jordan's Bulls).

  14. Dan Says:

    I only caught the 2nd half of the game, but the main criticism I have of LeBron's game was that there were possessions that he *never* touched the ball. Now, that in itself isn't a bad thing, but when others had the ball, he just stood still. No off-the-ball movement, no attempt to crash the boards...he just stayed 10-15 away from the hoop. If he's going to do that, he has to at least demand the ball so that others can get more open shots. It was amazing to see how non-aggressive he was in such a pivotal game.

  15. Walter Says:

    (continuation from above post)....

    I think that if Lebron is concerned with individual statistics then he will average 30-8-8 for the next 5 years and be the greatest player in NBA history statistically but won't win a title. If he wants to win a title he will have to play team ball and not touch the ball on every possession. The results would be a more normal 27-7-7 type of line but with multiple titles.

  16. Neil Paine Says:

    Re: Guillermo...

    2008 Celtics postseason DRtg: 103.3
    2010 Celtics postseason DRtg: 101.1

    Am I saying the 2010 Celtics' D is as good as the '08 version? No. But I'm saying the difference isn't as huge as you might think.

  17. Bob Says:

    It's amazing that, even on this website with a pretty informed user base, people still cannot deal with randomness.

    A single game is meaningless. Lebron's career WS/48 in the playoffs is fine and does not at all suggest that he is a "choker". But then again, "choking" is most likely a monstrously overrated or completely imaginary phenomena (much like streakiness).

    I really hate human beings sometimes.

  18. Bob Says:

    At the same time, I recognize that the reason why Lebron James is so highly paid is partly a product of people's misguided attitudes toward sports.

    If everyone approached the playoffs as an exercise in probabilities, rather than a time for myth making and mass delusion, I guess some of the magic would be lost for Average Joe.

  19. STEELERS75Lakers99 Says:

    Still shocked at the d..che bag Abbott is. LeBron's lackluster performance, not poor-stat performance, is the issue. Stop trying to throw Kobe under the bus when he is currently awaiting WCF due in large part to his exemplary play. Kobe's underachieving games are due to bad nights - NOT lack of effort. LeBron looked as though he simply didn't try. That is not something he and Kobe share.

    Stop embarrassing yourself and disrespecting our intelligence. LeBron sucked last night, for the second game in a row. That is the only issue.

  20. Anon Says:

    "Kobe's underachieving games are due to bad nights - NOT lack of effort."

    I have a tape of game 4 of the Thunder-Lakers series if you want the latest example of Kobe's "flawless effort".

  21. Nate Says:

    For stat geeks, you guys equivocate more than anyone to make your points. If you're going to be objective, be objective. The celtics team of 2010 is not the same as of 2008. The latter was one of the top 3 defensive teams EVER.

    I feel bad for stat geeks though. Hanging your hat on PER when in reality heart, focus, killer instict and a will to win are the most important factors and can only be seen by watching games.

    And yes, Kobe is the best player in the league still.

  22. Neil Paine Says:

    Yep, if anybody knows me, they know I hang my hat on PER. Lots of hat-hangin' there. I do that all the time.

  23. UB Says:

    Couple thoughts.

    1) Kobe's '08 Finals loss was as the 'lower-seeded' team, in a sense (in that, the Lakers didn't have home-court advantage). Though, certainly, many prognosticators had picked the Lakers due to Boston's struggles in the playoffs to that point. That series wasn't nearly as lopsided as the final score of the final game suggests, given that LA's home loss (which allowed Boston to win in 5) came following a 24-point lead. The Lakers don't blow that, the whole series is probably different. Cleveland has been beaten, soundly, twice on its home floor.

    Also, I have been and will remain convinced that Bryant struggled largely because of how hot-shooting he had been during the Spurs series. He went 64/120 for the series (53%), and most of those were on jump-shots. Those same jump shots didn't fall against the Celtics, even though many of the looks were similar. Both the Spurs and Celtics had very defenses that season, so I don't think it was *solely* due to how much better Boston was on D. I think it was regression to the mean in large part, with Kobe playing above his expected level against the Spurs, and falling below it against the Celtics.

    2) '08 Celtics DEfficiency: 98.9; '08 League Average: 107.5. '10 Celtics DEfficiency: 103.8; '10 League Average: 107.6. Even allowing for some difference in effort/intensity/injury, I think the '08 defense was pretty significantly better than the '10 defense, especially given the aging of the primary players (even Rondo and Perkins were better in '08, voted awards notwithstanding). People are getting on LeBron's case because this Celtics team was seen as decidedly inferior up until this series - that wasn't the case two years ago.

  24. jimmy Says:

    So Nate are you saying that I could be a clumsy oaf with no speed, quicks, athleticism or skills, no basketball I.Q., but if I have "heart, focus, killer instict [sic] and a will to win" I can be an all-time great player? Because that sounds like what you were saying.

  25. UB Says:

    'Scuse me, "which allowed Boston to win in 6," not 5.

  26. Joe Says:

    Yeah, great job equating two of Kobe's bad games against a superior Celtics team (especially defensively) to Lebron's horrible games against an inferior Celtics team (including defensively).

    Also says nothing about effort.

    Neither of Kobe's bad games were as despicable as Lebron's game yesterday. Stats and more importantly, in terms of effort. That 2/18 game was also worse than either of Kobe's two bad games that were listed.

    At least the 2/18 game was against the Big 3 when the Celtics were actually playing great basketball and weren't washed up. The Game 5 performance and effort was an embarrassment and excusing it by bringing up Kobe's past bad games is a joke.

  27. UB Says:

    Oops, need to clarify -again- (sigh).

    I'm not suggested that Kobe was "due" to start shooting poorly. I believe that he hit a bunch of jump shots vs. the Spurs, and settled for many of the same shots against the Celtics.

  28. Anon Says:

    UB,

    You bring up some valid points with the point about the Celtics D, but you're missing the main point of Neil's blogpost. Sometimes there's an impossible standard that LeBron is constantly being held to in the eyes of some fans. If he has anything less than a LeBron game, it's "failure" or "his career is ruined". If Kobe does the same thing, it's "his shot was off", "you can't blame him, his teammates didn't play well either", etc. There seems to be bit of a double-standard here.

    I'm not excusing LeBron's play at all here, but Kobe has been in the pit MANY times before, and often he has ALSO been called out for his effort in big games. People shouldn't write off LeBron's career while proceeding to give Kobe a free pass.

  29. Jesse Says:

    "in reality heart, focus, killer instict and a will to win are the most important factors and can only be seen by watching games."

    How can you "see" intangibles? They're intangible.

    To borrow from Jimmy (#24), I always played with heart and focus, and I always wanted to win. Didn't mean I was any good.

    The most important "factor" is the ability to produce and/or prevent the scoring of points.

  30. Guillermo Says:

    Re: 16. Neil

    2008 Celtics Season DRtg: 98.9
    2010 Celtics Season DRtg: 103.8

    That is a big difference and speaks to the caliber/potential the defense is capable of playing. Out of curiosity, where does that 98.9 rank historically?

  31. Joe Says:

    I disagree.

    Lebron has hardly been called out in his career, and has been given excuse after excuse after excuse. This is the first time he's really taken a beating from the media and fans.

    Kobe on the other hand even while winning CHAMPIONSHIPS would be called out by media and fans, for perceived selfishness, ball hogging, etc. etc. This despite winning CHAMPIONSHIPS.

    What has Lebron won to earn all the passes? Nothing. So, people seem to finally be fed up and are tired of the excuses, and criticizing him.

    There is absolutely no reason for Lebron to fail this year. Let alone not making it to the ECF. NONE. They were the overwhelming favorites and now might bow out early, just like last year.

    He has won absolutely nothing in his career and deserves to be called out for that BS effort last night. Kobe had 3 rings and was always getting called out, heck, he has a 4th ring and still people question him (see: OKC series).

    But one thing is for sure, Kobe has proven to be a winner, so he should have more leeway and passes from fans and media. Lebron has proven to be a great regular season player, nothing more as of yet. If your teammates and coaches are enough to win over 60 games in back to back years, you can't throw them under the bus when your team doesn't live up to expectations. It's the responsibility of the leader to get the most of not only himself, but his team. Lebron hasn't done that yet in his career when it matters, ever. Kobe has done in numerous times.

  32. David Says:

    Well, I never viewed this as another Kobe vs. Lebron thing. That's quite tiresome. I think Lebron will get a 40-8-8 line to lead the CAVs to a win in game 6. Any takers?

  33. Neil Paine Says:

    Relative to the league average, the 08 Celts were the 2nd best D since 1974:

    Year Team W L DRtg LgRtg DPAA
    2004 SAS 57 25 94.1 102.9 8.8
    2008 BOS 66 16 98.9 107.5 8.6
    1993 NYK 60 22 99.7 108.0 8.3
    1994 NYK 57 25 98.2 106.3 8.1
    2004 DET 54 28 95.4 102.9 7.5
    2005 SAS 59 23 98.8 106.1 7.3
    1999 SAS 37 13 95.0 102.2 7.2
    2007 CHI 49 33 99.6 106.5 6.8
    2007 SAS 58 24 99.9 106.5 6.6
    2006 SAS 63 19 99.6 106.2 6.6
  34. Anon Says:

    "It's the responsibility of the leader to get the most of not only himself, but his team. Lebron hasn't done that yet in his career when it matters, ever. Kobe has done in numerous times."

    Of course he has. I would too, if someone gift-wrapped me a historically dominant pivot man to play alongside with for three of those rings and another dominant big in today's game for another.

  35. Joe Says:

    Is that why Kobe was the killer in the 4th quarter with the "historically dominant pivot man" sitting on the bench with foul trouble? Or on the court and bricking free throws?

    Kobe played a huge role in the Lakers winning those rings. Check Portland Game 7 to see what Kobe did and how Shaq was practically MIA. vs. Pacers when Shaq fouled out. SAS and SAC series'.

    Yeah I'm sure just anyone could have done what Kobe did. /sarcasm

    And regarding Gasol, great big man. He wasn't viewed nearly in the past when he went 0-12 in the playoffs as highly as he is now. Gee, I wonder why that is.

    Maybe because Kobe actually gets the best out of his teammates and plays a big role in winning rings, while Lebron wins regular season awards and then his fans and media offer up millions of excuses for continually coming up short. What, a 66 win team didn't provide enough "help" to even make it to the Finals? 61 win team isn't enough help to even make the ECF by beating an old and practically washed up Celtics team?

    No excuses. Kobe historically gets it done. Lebron has not to this point in time

  36. Joseph Says:

    It doesn't matter what you think--the 2010 Celtics are NOT the 2008 Celtics. They're older, and less talented overall. These are facts. So yes, it is a bigger deal to fail against the 2010 Celtics than against the 2008 Celtics. You can say the second-half 2010 Celtics weren't as good as the first-half Celtics, but so what? Average it out, and it's a lesser team than the '08 Celts.

  37. Joseph Says:

    And for the record, I don't think the talent around James is great. Certainly not as cohesive a unit as the Celtics' big three (four), or the Lakers' Kobe-Pau-Odom nucleus. But I do know this: when Jordan's or Kobe's teams fell apart, they stepped up and took the team on their shoulders. Didn't always work, but as Charles Barkley said last night, they left it all on the floor. And if you argue that Lebron is more of a distributor, and needs to get the team going first before he asserts himself, look no further than Magic Johnson and Isaiah Thomas, who knew when it was time to assert their wills.

    Lebron did it a couple years back against the Pistons, and he has a better team now. He's 25 years old, which is peak age to play the whole 48 minutes. I'm glad I'm not a Cavs fan, or I'd have a heart attack on Thursday night. It's all or nothing.

  38. Anon Says:

    "Kobe played a huge role in the Lakers winning those rings. Check Portland Game 7 to see what Kobe did and how Shaq was practically MIA. vs. Pacers when Shaq fouled out. SAS and SAC series'."

    Very nice. Now take that production and put a 1.5 multiplier besides it. That's what Shaq gave you in his prime as a Laker.

    "And regarding Gasol, great big man. He wasn't viewed nearly in the past when he went 0-12 in the playoffs as highly as he is now. Gee, I wonder why that is."

    Gee, I think it's because he played on good but not great Grizzles teams before he even reached his prime as a player.

    I just love Kobe Bryant fans.

  39. Joseph Says:

    I agree with Joe. Not to mention, those 2001-2003 Laker teams were shallow--it was basically Kobe and Shaq, with a bunch of interchangeable scrubs. Horry got lots of press with his game-winning shots, but he was still just a role player. And how many of you remember that a washed up Glen Rice was supposed to be their third scoring option in '99-'00? Samaki Walker, anyone? Slava Medvedenko, back-up center? How about Mad Dog Mc-quick-foul?

    The point is that unlike the '10 Cavs, and the '08 Celts, those Laker teams were thin, which put more of the weight on Kobe (and Shaq), so it's silly to argue that Kobe had more help than Lebron does now.

  40. Anon Says:

    "But I do know this: when Jordan's or Kobe's teams fell apart, they stepped up and took the team on their shoulders."

    You could say that about Mike. Kobe? This is exactly the kind of garbage that allow his myth to overrun his *actual* performances on the court.

    And even with MJ, he still didn't win jack until the Bulls could count on another consistent option in the playoffs.

  41. STEELERS75Lakers99 Says:

    Anon Says:
    May 12th, 2010 at 4:54 pm
    "Kobe's underachieving games are due to bad nights - NOT lack of effort."

    I have a tape of game 4 of the Thunder-Lakers series if you want the latest example of Kobe's "flawless effort".

    None said anything about flawless. However, Kobe was injured and it showed. He is still injured. The difference? He is still effective and follows-up poor performances with stellar ones. Most importantly - he did different things and never quit. You have to do better than anything he's done in the OKC series.

    QUit apologizing for LeBron. He blew it then was arrogant about it in the interview.

  42. Joseph Says:

    "until the Bulls could count on another consistent option in the playoffs"

    No more excuses for Lebron. He's had several consistent options, as I've explained above. His team is deeper than either Jordan's early 90's Bulls or Kobe's early Laker teams. No more excuses--it's time to step up. I hope he can do it, because I have a soft spot for small market teams like the Cavs, who've never won anything. We'll learn a lot about Lebron within the next 72 hours. Take over, average a 38-9-12, and eventually make the Finals? That's the King taking the throne. Sputter and die, knocked out in the second round, nervously chewing his mouth guard and fleeing to the Big Apple? Second tier--maybe a jack-of-all trades, a Nowitski or a Malone. But not a King.

  43. bryan Says:

    The 2008 celtics was a defensive juggernaut anchored by the dpoy in KG. These celtics arent at the same level. Im not saying he cant bounce back but lets be honest here. He looked like he didnt want to even be involved in that game. He looked like he quit trying and thats whats so disappointing because hes better than that. Then he made it worse with his post game comments. Instead of sounding angry he dismissed it as only his "3rd bad game in 7 years." If hes really the best we have in the game, game 6 should be a big middle finger game to the critics for LBJ.

  44. Guillermo Says:

    Neil, thanks for posting that.

    All I was saying was that that celtics team was a defensive juggernaut.

    I'll reiterate however, and say that people do in fact need to settle down. LeBron's put up some gaudy stats.

    How soon people forget that Jordan was sent home packing by the Pistons several times. Convincingly. In fact, that humbled him to be more open to Phil's team philosophy. I highly recommend that book btw, Sacred Hoops by Phil.

    My biggest problem with this thread is that the author turned it into a Kobe vs. Lebron thing. That is a fire that clearly is not in need of extra fuel.

  45. STEELERS75Lakers99 Says:

    Anon Says:
    May 12th, 2010 at 6:39 pm
    "But I do know this: when Jordan's or Kobe's teams fell apart, they stepped up and took the team on their shoulders."

    You could say that about Mike. Kobe? This is exactly the kind of garbage that allow his myth to overrun his *actual* performances on the court.

    And even with MJ, he still didn't win jack until the Bulls could count on another consistent option in the playoffs.

    More crap. We are his fans BECAUSE we watch the games. You take Smush, Kwame, Luke, Vlad Rad, Devan George, and Chris Mihm agains a #2 Suns team. Talking them to game 7 was BECAUSE of Kobe and noone else. Sure Kobe has laid some eggs, all stars do. Hell, they're human. But give it everything you got. LeBRon apologists and excuse makers would say Kobe sucks for a 6-26 game. BUt I would take that over LeBron's 3-14-then-quit game. Fight for your team! Try to find the touch in the game, give it your all and leave it on the court. They play a game for HUGE dollars. Play it, da..it!

    Bad shooting, okay it happens. No effort, never cool. Simple.

  46. Joseph Says:

    Actually, a better comparison would be a KG. Front-runner, do-it-all type of guy, fades in the limelight. Flees to Boston around to surround himself with alpha dogs so he can be a supporting cast member, beating his chest and woofing like a fool.

    That's essentially LeBron's ceiling with a failure here, fleeing with his tail between his legs to NYC. Would be a shame. And it would mean we have to wait a little longer for the torch once held by Kareem, then Bird/Magic, then Jordan, and now Kobe, to be passed on.

  47. STEELERS75Lakers99 Says:

    bryan Says:
    May 12th, 2010 at 6:50 pm
    ... He looked like he quit trying and thats whats so disappointing because hes better than that. Then he made it worse with his post game comments. Instead of sounding angry he dismissed it as only his "3rd bad game in 7 years." If hes really the best we have in the game, game 6 should be a big middle finger game to the critics for LBJ.

    "3rd bad game in 7 years..." Try second game in a row! Its not the bad game but THE LACK OF EFFORT! Another vast difference between him and the greats: he followed a poor game (not lackluster but poor by his standards in a loss) with a no effort, poor game. Unacceptable. If you have 3 bad games in 7 years and all 3 of them are in the same playoff series, two at home and the 3rd is where you don't even show up - you are not one of the greats. He doesn't deserve the accolades heaped on them. Let him earn them first. He has not yet, that's all. He's still a great player but not one of the greats, yet.

  48. STEELERS75Lakers99 Says:

    Guillermo Says:
    May 12th, 2010 at 6:50 pm
    Neil, thanks for posting that.

    All I was saying was that that celtics team was a defensive juggernaut.

    I'll reiterate however, and say that people do in fact need to settle down. LeBron's put up some gaudy stats.

    How soon people forget that Jordan was sent home packing by the Pistons several times. Convincingly. In fact, that humbled him to be more open to Phil's team philosophy. I highly recommend that book btw, Sacred Hoops by Phil.

    My biggest problem with this thread is that the author turned it into a Kobe vs. Lebron thing. That is a fire that clearly is not in need of extra fuel.

    My sediments exactly. Why blast Kobe for a shortcoming of LeBron's? Let LeBron stand on his own and let him have it the way he should get it. If Kobe were to fall short in any situation he would not be pacified by a LeBron failure to 'show that its okay'. Let LeBron stand on his own as the reigning two-time MVP. That's part of what being the MVP means.

  49. Joe Says:

    "I just love Kobe Bryant fans."

    I'm a general basketball fan, rooting for no specific team or individual. If I had to pick a team, it would be the Spurs.

    I'm not a "Kobe Bryant fan", but I respect his game and accomplishments. Sorry I'm not a myopic hater who diminishes what he has accomplished in his career like so many others (like yourself) do. Kobe has earned the respect and passes, and that started long before winning the most recent championship. What he did in the three-peat was every bit as important to his "legacy" as his recent championship. No need to prove his worth to those teams, anyone without bias already knows and doesn't need to make up BS to diminish it.

    Once Lebron has accomplished something more than regular season MVPs and numbers, I'll give him respect too. He hasn't done it yet and all I hear are excuses, non-stop, and then bashing someone has accomplished so much more. Too bad, really.

  50. PrettyPaula Says:

    Thanks for this post, Neil! I was shocked, like you, at how quickly the Lebron as best player bandwagon has been emptied. Everyone has conveniently forgotten how listless Kobe was in the Celts series and the Suns series someone mentioned above. It was one game...he was not aggressive and involved as he should have been. Does it erase the 82 games of the regular season and the 10 games of the playoffs? This whole thing is ridiculous....

  51. TH Says:

    Lebron's Cavs teams are some of the most overachieving teams of all time for their talent level.

    Almost ALL championship teams have 2 stars. Kobe-Gasol. Celtics Big 3. Duncan-Ginobili. Wade Shaq. Kobe-Shaq. Duncan-Robinson. The recent exception is the Pistons.

    Lebron should definitely take the heat for Game 5. He simply DID NOT PLAY WITH AGRESSION. There is NO good excuse for settling for jumpers in the most important game of the year. They might still have lost, as the celtics were excellent, but Lebron didn't try his hardest. It's that simple.

    So, go ahead. Rip into him for Game 5. It's one bad game. VERY bad. But it's still just one game. Nobody is perfect

    Extending this one game to Lebron's whole CAREER compared to Kobe, etc. is just ridiculous.

    Lebron has a significantly worst coach and supporting cast than any of the championship winners of the past decade. His teams success in the regular season is overachievement. They are not built for the playoffs. They don't have a second star, and I don't see them winning a championship until they get one.

  52. Neil Paine Says:

    I have no idea why this is being taken as a slam on Kobe... I bring up Kobe's struggles vs. the C's in the 2008 Finals to say that A) they executed the same gameplan on LeBron last night and extracted the same poor performance, and B) Kobe came back from that to win a championship the very next season, so it's incredibly myopic to blast LeBron for last night (like people blasted Kobe after the 2008 Finals) when we don't know what's going to happen in the future, and LBJ has a lot of time left to write his legacy. Those were the only points I was trying to make. This isn't a LeBron vs. Kobe thing -- it's more of a, "hey look, the Celtics have kept both of those guys in check over the years, so maybe we should have learned our lesson from writing off Kobe after the 2008 Finals" thing. Take the lesson we learned about being so shortsighted in 2008, and apply it to LeBron now.

  53. Joe Says:

    Joseph:

    You are correct. Those Lakers were Kobe/Shaq and not much else. It was an impressive run those two put together. Really impressive. Anyone taking away from what those two did is foolish.

    When it came down to Lakers/Spurs, I must admit I preferred the Spurs, but Kobe routinely killed them. It was like Kobe and Diesel took turns killing teams back then. But in the 4th quarter, Kobe knew how to get it done, with or without Shaq. Amazingly, the guy still has it and keeps on going. It was years ago that he was coming through with heroics way back then, and yet I see him doing the same to this day. I have to respect it. Any true basketball would, or at least, should.

  54. Jesse Says:

    I'm hereby renewing my call for sports leagues to cease and desist from tracking individual statistics of any kind. In fact, since the only things that matter are the TEAM's wins and losses, and by extension, CHAMPIONSHIPS, only those things should be recorded.

    /tongue-in-cheek

  55. Richard Says:

    @Anon - I disagree on your assessment of Pau Gasol. Say what you want about him not being in his prime a few years back but his Spain team captured gold even after Gasol broke his foot, he moped around on the Griz the last year and a half he was there, and watching him play on the Lakers in close games i see the same tendencies i watched him exhibit in memphis. He has an inability to push his team to victory when the game is on the line. People may remember his winning tip in against the Thunder but may forget that he also missed a 4ft hook shot in the lane and was stripped in the two previous plays. Your attempts to discredit Kobe fans are a little off base. Six years no playoff wins cant exactly be dismissed as easily as you made it sound for a guy of his caliber.

    But on the topic of lebron, he'll bounce back game 6.

  56. Joseph Says:

    "It was one game...he was not aggressive and involved as he should have been."

    Two games. In a row. With the second worse than the first. And he has no championship under his belt to inspire complacency, and he's not old, and he's been surrounded by talented players. Step the hell up. You want to be a brand, you want to be called King, you should be absolutely savoring this challenge. No hang-dog looks, no skittish fingernail biting, no lollygagging in the corner (go check out this video, 1:08 mark):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4d-Mnfz6iB0&feature=player_embedded

    You just don't do that. It made me embarrassed for him, and for the city of Cleveland. Bird wouldn't have done that. Nor Magic. Nor Jordan. Nor Kobe.

    Three strikes and you're out, LeBron. That's the great thing about sports: it's all decided now, on the court. No more excuses.

  57. Joe Says:

    Neil:

    You bring up a good point, but the difference is these Celtics aren't the same as the championship Celtics in 2008, and neither were the performances from Kobe and Lebron.

    The 2008 Celtics defense was better, much more cohesive and had better defensive talent too (e.g. Posey). the 2010 Celtics defense is slower and doesn't have the same defensive talent (no more Posey, and they have Sheed), but yes when they really buy into the gameplan they are able to play good defense, just not like the 2008 Celtics though.

    And in addition to that, the performances are not the same. Kobe gave it his all in that 2008 Series, he just did not play particularly well. He never stopped attacking, he kept at it. Bad performances, yes, but he gave it all he had. Even in that 40 point Game 6 blowout, I recall he started very well but then the Celtics just overwhelmed the Lakers. I was impressed by the Celtics game, it was a great performance.

    But Lebron's performance was just as much on his effort as it was the Celtics. He seemingly mailed it in. The effort wasn't there, no aggression, just wandering around half the time, offense and defense. That is NOT what Kobe did against a superior Celtic defensive team. No question Celtics defense was good Game 5, but Lebron more than did his part by taking the night off.

  58. Anon Says:

    Sorry I'm not a myopic hater who diminishes what he has accomplished in his career like so many others (like yourself) do.

    Uh-oh. He called me a hater!

    You had better alert Lakers fans everywhere so they can add me to their "Kobe hater" wanted list...

    /sarcasm

  59. Joe Says:

    What happened to Lebron James?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4d-Mnfz6iB0&feature=player_embedded

    Look at 1:08 to 1:20. That's much of the difference between Kobe and Lebron versus the Celtics.

    He was disinterested last night. Offense AND defense. You can argue Kobe played badly against the 2008 Celtics, and I would agree. But it wasn't for a lack of trying.

  60. Bryan Says:

    @Neil - Im getting the feeling that more people seem upset over lebrons post game comments and general apathy he showed during the game than his performance. But that could just be me.

  61. Joe Says:

    Anon:

    No thanks. No reason for anyone (Laker fan or otherwise) to waste more time arguing against a brick wall who has no ability to think for himself (the Shaq and Gasol post was really original, you should keep saying it to make Lebron's failures look better).

  62. Joseph Says:

    "s more of a, "hey look, the Celtics have kept both of those guys in check over the years,"

    Apples and oranges, as I said above. I understand what point you were trying to make, but I think you chose a poor one. These Celts are not your '08 Celts. Not even close. Bench is significantly weaker, stars are creakier, no Posey, no Powe, no House, no PJ. Only one piece is stronger--Rondo--and all the rest are weaker.

    Also, the Cavs of '08 were weaker than the '10 Cavs, and they still took the Celtics to 7 games. Management gave LeBron the pieces he wanted--not perfect (it never is, because it's always addition by subtraction with a salary cap), but better than '08. The difference needs to be LeBron asserting his will when it's time. Sunday it was time. Yesterday it definitely was time, and yet the urgency seemed to fall even flatter. This is it: third chance. No more. Down 3-2, you don't get another chance.

    King time, or lay down time? Even if he loses, he needs to go out bloody and beaten, with nothing left. No other way.

  63. Anon Says:

    "He has an inability to push his team to victory when the game is on the line."

    Oh yes. Now we're about to enter the overrated "clutch" argument.

    Aye.

  64. Anon Says:

    "He was disinterested last night. Offense AND defense. You can argue Kobe played badly against the 2008 Celtics, and I would agree. But it wasn't for a lack of trying."

    Are we absolutely sure about that? Couldn't LeBron be injured? Or is Kobe just the only one who gets labeled the warrior for playing thorough an injury? I mean, where are all the "HE'S FAKING IT" attacks when he has had great games since his finger injuries in 08?

  65. Guillermo Says:

    Re: 52

    >I have no idea why this is being taken as a slam on Kobe...

    It's a thing of fairness. You didn't write an article in 2008 defending Kobe's performance (I checked).

    Also, while I admit that Kobe fans tend to be on the sensitive side, it is not completely without merit. Take a look at this gem from Henry Abbot at truehoop in article that had absolutely nothing to do with Kobe, in fact, abbot was also talking about Lebron's performance:

    >Maybe Cleveland fans are just bitter about the way James has teased them in the lead-up to free agency. Maybe a lot of this commentary is fueled by Kobe Bryant fans, eager to prove theirs is the better man.

    So you see there is your answer. That is why it is being taken as a slam on Kobe.

  66. Joe Says:

    Joseph:

    I agree.

    There is no way all the blame can be put on the coach and "supporting cast" when it comes to the Cavs. Not again and not this time. Think about it, Kobe wins and it's diminished because his supporting cast was just too awesome for him NOT to win. Lebron wins a bunch in the regular season and it's all him. When they lose in the playoffs, well, his supporting cast and coach were just too bad for him TO win. What happens if Lebron does win? If you're being "fair" and don't have a double standard, wouldn't it be his supporting cast was just too good for him NOT to win? After all, he's got Jamison who in his career has been close to 20/10 before even playing with James (sounds like Gasol before Kobe), and a bunch of capable role players and a veteran presence (e.g. Shaq). But no, when they win it's Lebron, when they lose, it's everybody else.

    Alternating between excuses and praise. Depending on wins or losses. Just to make Lebron look good no matter what. If he can get a team to win it all, I'll give him his due respect, but I'm not going to pretend he is at Jordan or Kobe's level until he earns it.

  67. Joe Says:

    Anon:

    Nothing showed up in the MRIs. Sprained elbow and bone bruise. That's it. I've read Cavs boards, and many of their fans have mentioned that NO ONE close to the team believes it's serious. Coaches, doctors, and even their writers closest to the team (Brian Windhorst) have REPEATEDLY stated there is hardly a problem with Lebron's elbow.

    He has done things this series where it's clear his elbow isn't bothering him, e.g. the big chasedown swats, huge Game 3, etc. etc.

    The hurt elbow doesn't make you look listless out there.

    Regarding Kobe: Considering his injuries are legitimate as evidenced by x-rays, mris, and doctor's advice that he should sit out, no, he actually IS playing through injuries. As far as I know, his finger is STILL taped up. He learned a new way to shoot it. They showed Chuck Person as an assistant coach and how Kobe has taken tips on how to shoot with a new release. The knee swelling was bad during the OKC series, you could CLEARLY see it as he was moving like a slug out on the court. He got rest and now looks more fluid, that's something you can SEE. With Lebron and this mysterious elbow injury, you don't see his movements effected, especially when he is just standing around and deferring (e.g. the video I linked). Obvious difference.

  68. Ricardo Says:

    "People may remember his winning tip in against the Thunder but may forget that he also missed a 4ft hook shot in the lane and was stripped in the two previous plays."

    Oh, you're right - one play is utter garbage when evaluating a player. But four? Now that's the stuff! Four plays from 268 minutes of basketball is plenty to go on.

  69. Neil Paine Says:

    "It's a thing of fairness. You didn't write an article in 2008 defending Kobe's performance (I checked)."

    BBR didn't even have a blog in June 2008! (Or at least not one that provided anything beyond site updates.) And I didn't even work for BBR until the 2008-09 season started! It's fair to expect me to jump into a time machine?

  70. Anon Says:

    "Coaches, doctors, and even their writers closest to the team (Brian Windhorst) have REPEATEDLY stated there is hardly a problem with Lebron's elbow."

    Are they LeBron James?

    "The hurt elbow doesn't make you look listless out there."

    Yeah, you're right. No way injuries can affect how you play or approach the game. Not at all.

    "Regarding Kobe: Considering his injuries are legitimate as evidenced by x-rays, mris, and doctor's advice that he should sit out, no, he actually IS playing through injuries."

    So, LeBron's injuries aren't "legit", but Kobe's are. Goooooooooootcha.

  71. Ricardo Says:

    "Take a look at this gem from Henry Abbot at truehoop in article that had absolutely nothing to do with Kobe, in fact, abbot was also talking about Lebron's performance:

    'Maybe Cleveland fans are just bitter about the way James has teased them in the lead-up to free agency. Maybe a lot of this commentary is fueled by Kobe Bryant fans, eager to prove theirs is the better man.'"

    Kobe's fans = Kobe?

  72. Richard Says:

    @Anon - wow you read that whole thing and got i was talking about his "clutchness." An inability to lead your team to victory has effected a lot of psuedo-superstars from gasol, VC, T-mac, and Bosh. Some people just need that other player to take the pressure off. My comment wasnt even in defense of kobe and you turned it to that for some reason. So maybe joe was right: "No reason for anyone (Laker fan or otherwise) to waste more time arguing against a brick wall"

  73. Bob Says:

    Isn't there a pretty simple calculation available here to shut everyone up? What were the odds that the Celtics would win this series in 6 or 7?

    25%? I don't know and don't feel like doing it right now, but I would imagine it's that at least 15% to 20%.

    I know some people (i.e. idiots) believe that such probabilities are meaningless and only the team with grit, determination, and a deal with the devil can actually win the series. Truth is folks, worse teams can win a seven games series. It just happens sometime by random chance.

    In other words, it doesn't matter what Lebron did in game 6. It's noise and it doesn't take away from the fact that he is the best player in the NBA (this year anyway, Chris Paul was more valuable last year)

    You can't understand that, you should move on to ESPN or some other crap like that.

  74. Joe Says:

    Ok Anon, you win! I'm not Lebron James, and so I guess we can't take the word of doctors, coaches, and writers who are closest to him. But you, Basketball Reference poster, you know the truth. Despite going on nothing other than excuses for Lebron, your argument makes the MOST sense. Nevermind those doctors and x-rays/MRI's, they mean nothing.

    And Kobe's doctors and x-rays/MRI's, the ones that actually say something IS wrong, well those are BS too. I mean, if they say something is wrong, and Lebron's say nothing is wrong, well then, clearly it's the medical field that doesn't get it.

    You, Anon, get it. Great job.

  75. Richard Says:

    @Ricardo - What? I didnt get that senseless argument you had. I condensed my examples to 2 plays, like neil condensed his defense of Lebron and Kobe to 2 games. Now i know how Neil feels when people are quick to jump on him for demonstrating a small sample size. Should I have brought up Gasol's no show in the 08 finals? Or his 20 pts 7 rebs on 43% shooting in the '06 playoffs? Or his 18 pts 5 reb in the 04 playoffs? Theres 14 games for you. Is that enough? If not theres a great web site called basketball-reference.com where you can check the stats yourself. Gasol is good but lets not start comparing him to shaq, ok?

  76. Joseph Says:

    "it doesn't matter what Lebron did in game 6"

    First of all, it's game 5--if we're talking about a three-peat crap performance in game 6, then it's really going to be ugly.

    But back to your point, I suppose then it doesn't mean a goddamn thing what Jordan did in the flu game? Or what Magic Johnson did in Game 6 of the 1980 Finals? Or what Hakeem did against the Spurs in the infamous Robinson MVP honoring game? Or, conversely, what Robinson did (or did not do) in the same game? And what Karl Malone did in, uh, pick a year.

    In other words, it damn well does matter what Lebron did in game 5. And it will matter even more what he does in game 6. That's the way playoff games work, and that's how a legacy is built. This is it--this is the moment when the kings are crowned. Not by paper "MVP" ballots. (How does Hakeem's ass taste, Robinson? How does Michael's ass taste, Karl?).

    Game 5 meant everything. And game 6, illogical as it sounds, means even more.

  77. Joe Says:

    Richard:

    You make good points and I agree. I watched Gasol from time to time when he was on the Grizzlies, he's not nearly the same player now as he was then. There is a quote from Jerry West where he says that Kobe has driven Gasol to this point and putting out this much effort. Also, Gasol for the first time in his career starting lifting weights only after he came onto the Lakers (and lost against the Celtics). Some of the credit certainly goes to Kobe and Phil (and Lakers organization) for getting the best out of Gasol.

    Because when Gasol was with the Grizz, I know some people absolutely did NOT like him in the clutch. He was too passive is what the fans would say and complain about, and wouldn't take the responsibilities needed to truly succeed. I'm sure that is part of the reason why he couldn't win a single playoff game until teaming up with Kobe.

    He is a great player playing alongside Kobe now though, and again you have to respect that Kobe brings the BEST out of him. Just like he brought the best out of some scrubs named Smush Parker and Kwame Brown way back when.

  78. Anon Says:

    "I watched Gasol from time to time when he was on the Grizzlies, he's not nearly the same player now as he was then"

    You mean he finally reached his prime as a player? Yikes!

    "Some of the credit certainly goes to Kobe and Phil (and Lakers organization) for getting the best out of Gasol."

    No. The credit ultimately goes to GASOL for getting the best out of Gasol. He doesn't have to do a damn thing if he doesn't want to, nor does he need to be told to.

    Oh sorry, I get it now. You mean Kobe is the only player who can make other players "look better", right? Just like what LeBron has been doing his entire career with LESSER talent than Kobe.

    Either way, your argument is flawed.

  79. Anon Says:

    "You, Anon, get it. Great job."

    Once I fix my sarcasm detector I'll respond to your posts.

  80. Ricardo Says:

    "Gasol is good but lets not start comparing him to shaq, ok?"

    Reading...reading...reading...nope. I couldn't find the passage where I argued that.

  81. Joseph Says:

    This says it all right here:

    "Everything has come too easy to him, and he still doesn't believe that winning championships takes a consuming, obsessive desire that borders on the maniacal. He is chasing high school and college kids on recruiting trips for his fledgling marketing company, medicating his insecurities with unending and unfolding free-agent dramas.

    James is chasing Warren Buffett and Jay-Z the way he should be chasing Russell and Jordan and Bryant.

    Stop strutting, stop preening, stop stomping away as an ungracious winner, a sore loser, and win something, LeBron.

    Win something now."

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=AgKlHB2R30EIr0Cc8qK7XJq8vLYF?slug=aw-lebroncavs051210

    How's that for "doesn't matter"? To be a champ, an elite NBA champion, the game means everything. All the rest is distraction and silly marketing. Put it on your shoulders and win the game. Like a champion.

  82. Vahagn Mkhikian Says:

    Henry, you're a tool. Honestly, Kobe didn't give up in a Finals game. Lebron has had ONE GOOD GAME this series. Game 3. That's it. NO OTHER GOOD GAME.

    He also had 4 straight bad games against the Spurs in the Finals of 07 and 5 Bad Games in the 7 game series against Boston in 08

    Kobe "Gave up" in the fourth quarter of a blowout game by NOT COMING BACK IN, for the First THREE QUARTERS, Kobe was the best player on the floor. The Celtics won game 6 by committee.

    Henry Abbot has a skewed memory of how things work. He shows two bad games by Kobe compared to two bad games be Lebron not mentioning that Lebron DIDN'T TRY last night, or particularly the night before, or particularly in ALL OF GAME 2, and that he played a HORRIBLE SERIES that same year. he played a WORSE SERIES than Kobe did against Boston in 2008 if you take out Game 7

  83. Vahagn Mkhikian Says:

    anon,

    Kobe isn't the ONLY PLAYER to make players better, but he STILL MADE GASOL BETTER. If you don't know that, you're dumb, sorry but you are.

    In fact, here is a list of players who have played their BEST BASKETBALL alongside Kobe
    (in no particular order)

    Robert Horry
    Derek Fisher
    Smush Parker
    SHAQ
    Pau Gasol
    Trevor Ariza
    Deveon George
    Brian Cook
    Kwame Brown
    Eddie Jones
    Nick Van Exel
    Chris Mihm
    Chucky Atkins
    Lamar Odom (not in terms of consistency, but all his best individual games have come in LA)
    Shannon Brown

    That's all I can think of. And that's partly due to Phil, partly due to the triangle, and PARTLY DUE TO KOBE.

    By contrast, the ONLY PLAYER who has played WORSE FOR THE LAKERS than for other teams THAT ISN'T DUE TO A PHYSICAL SLOWING DOWN (MALONE, PAYTON, ARTEST FIT IN THIS CATEGORY) is MO EVANS

    And he's not a stud.

    Caron Butler became who he is because of Kobe, don't believe me? go look at his first interview after being traded to the Mavs

    The reality is that plenty of players have played their best basketball alongside Kobe. Too many to count.

  84. Neil Paine Says:

    Ah, yes, Adrian Wojnarowski's self-righteous, vaguely bitter takedown. Where would we be as a society without some sanctimonious sportswriter crowing about the alleged character flaws he somehow feels justified in projecting onto people he's barely met, all because they didn't throw an orange ball into a hoop enough times for his liking? I bet that guy's a real hoot at parties.

  85. Rich Muhlach Says:

    That "Anon" poster is so dim-witted and annoying that I think he/she/it purposely says the wrong things just to piss people off.

    Either that or he/she/it's just really dumb and stupid.

  86. Rupert Says:

    This isn't the first time Lebron has set off Wojo's sense of moral outrage

    http://communities.canada.com/theprovince/blogs/kurtenblog/archive/2009/06/02/lebron-james-is-a-terrible-person-insinuates-columnist.aspx

  87. Joseph Says:

    "Where would we be as a society without some sanctimonious sportswriter crowing..."

    Probably about as far as we are with stat-fetishists crowing about PER and APBRmetrics. In other words, arguing about the relative roles of sportswriters and statisticians is irrelevant. You should stick to the actual content of the argument.

  88. Joseph Says:

    For the record, I think Wojnarowski's claim that Lebron should have sat around and congratulated Orlando is inane. Aside from Magic and Isaiah's mid-court pecks, pre'90's ball never expected that fake sportsmanship. MJ was vicious. Bird was unfriendly. If you're not taking the game seriously, and are all smiles after a loss, then you're not feeling it enough. In that respect I think Wojnarowski is contradicting himself, and wants it both ways: oh noes, LeBron walked off the court without congratulating the other team, how horrible that he takes losing so seriously; oh noes, LeBron is too loose and free and isn't taking losing seriously enough!

  89. Neil Paine Says:

    The content of his argument was this: "LeBron missed a lot of shots in an important game. He has many business dealings, and will be a free agent this summer. I'm not fond of him as a person, even though I've barely had any personal contact with him. Therefore, I will baselessly insinuate that his poor performance in Game 5 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals was due to the fact that he's a greedy, selfish, arrogant, horrible human being whose sense of morality doesn't hold a candle to mine."

    That just about cover it?

  90. Joseph Says:

    Well, no, actually. It's humorous, and I think you're right that he's sanctimonious, but he also happens to be right--at least his main argument, which is that LeBron is a fascinating (and frustrating) example of our first star who's MO is putting the cart (brand) before the horse (winning something). He's also right about the irritating free agent game LeBron's been coyly playing for some time now. Kobe did it, too--at the expense of Clipper fans--but he at least accomplished some championships before flirting with leaving.

    If I were a Cleveland fan (thank God I'm not), I would be pretty damn pissed about it. It's like Cleveland's the sad sack who's dating the hometown girl he knows is out of is league, and all his friends know, and it's only a matter of time before she moves to the big stage.

  91. Ricardo Says:

    "For the record, I think Wojnarowski's claim that Lebron should have sat around and congratulated Orlando is inane. Aside from Magic and Isaiah's mid-court pecks, pre'90's ball never expected that fake sportsmanship. MJ was vicious. Bird was unfriendly. If you're not taking the game seriously, and are all smiles after a loss, then you're not feeling it enough."

    They may have been vicious and unfriendly, but they never did fail to offer congratulations as far as I know.

  92. Neil Paine Says:

    I'll grant you that LeBron had more fame and fortune (and a brand, I guess) earlier in his career than any athlete, ever. I just fail to see how that brand has to come at the expense of winning, like you have to choose one or the other. Is it LeBron's fault that he had a Nike contract at age 18? Should he have turned that down? And should he not pursue his next contract to the best of his earning ability? How exactly did those off-court business matters impact his play in last night's game? If he was solely motivated by his next contract, wouldn't it have been in his best interest to play better, not worse?

    I think sportswriters like Wojnarowski need angles and melodrama to make a living, so they assign grandiose motives to players and equate on-court performance to morality, as though the winner always has the greater character. Bill James once slammed them for this, their tendency (out of raw hero-worship) to claim that players and teams win not because they have better motor skills, or have honed their abilities more, or have quicker decision-making capabilities and better eye-hand coordination, but also because they're better people than the rest of us. I agree with Bill -- that's garbage. Statistically, a 50.3% shooter will go 3-for-14 sometimes. There doesn't have to be some greater psychological meaning to it, sometimes things just happen.

  93. Anon Says:

    "Kobe isn't the ONLY PLAYER to make players better, but he STILL MADE GASOL BETTER. If you don't know that, you're dumb, sorry but you are."

    Really? Pray tell, does he have mind-controlling powers now? Is that how he does it? Wow! You mean all those shots his teammates make are controlled by Kobe's telekenesis? Hot DAMN!!!!!!!!!

    Gasol being the player he is, is solely due to one person and one person alone. Pau Gasol. If YOU don't know that, you must not be human.

  94. Johnny Says:

    I think Anon is just messing around guys. No poster could be that ridiculous. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt that he/she is just trying to get a rise out of everyone.

    No serious poster would have those type of opinions totally lacking in any type of statistical data and filled with childish remark.

    It was good for a laugh though.

  95. Anon Says:

    "No serious poster would have those type of opinions totally lacking in any type of statistical data and filled with childish remark."

    It's not even an argument that requires statistics. It's simply a FACT. But hey, we can continue to pretend that real-life NBA basketball is like NBA 2K10 where you can control players and attributes like puppets on a string.

    If you're laughing at that one, someone needs to grab the laughing gas canister away from you. Or maybe the crackpipe.

  96. hk Says:

    I find it very entertaining that this discussion has gone on so long. Clearly LeBron has been dominant in the post-season as well and should not be bothered over one game.

    Thank you Neil and Anon. Your objective, purely scientific look at things keeps people honest.

  97. joe Says:

    I agree with whoever said that win or lose, lebron needs to go out bloody and beaten. Here's an example of a loss where the star still shone brightly.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/200205140LAL.html

    This is also a reminder to those people who have forgotten how sick prime Duncan really was. Not just this game, look at this entire series. The opponent was the 2002 lakers which I don't need to tell you how dominant they were.

  98. hk Says:

    Not sarcasm by the way. ;)

  99. hk Says:

    97- No Joe he doesn't have to copy anyone else. Look at his win shares per 48, he is on his own level even after this game 5 loss.

  100. hk Says:

    LeBron outplayed Kobe against the Magic, does that count for anything? I guess not since his teammates aren't as talented.

  101. joe Says:

    "97- No Joe he doesn't have to copy anyone else. Look at his win shares per 48, he is on his own level even after this game 5 loss."

    Win shares is a good stat, but should be taken with a grain of salt when it runs counter to the game tape. According to win shares per 48, Amare is a better playoff performer than Hakeem, Shaq, and Russell or that Ben Wallace is a better playoff performer than Kobe. You cannot blindly use stats to evaluate players. I mean according to win shares per 48, Manu Ginobili is the 3rd best active player in the NBA behind Lebron and Duncan, which no one believes. Win shares per 48 is a nice stat, but I prefer per because you need to take minutes into account. However in Lebron's case, I just think that the stats overrate his actual ability. Just my opinion from watching him play.

  102. hk Says:

    101-

    That's because Kobe wasn't dominant every playoff season. It makes sense that his WS/48 would be lower than other players. That is why you should use VARIOUS barometers, not just one. And especially not some random opinion off the street about "clutch".

    Hah, sorry but LeBron is so great he owns ANY statistical barometer. That is the true definition of greatness. You can ignore win shares per 48, let's just use Win shares in a single season. It doesn't matter dude.

    Your unscientific should be taken with a grain of salt. Bias and selfish reasoning taints fans trying to further their agenda.

    I know what matters, LeBron was the best player in the post-season last year. He dominated the Magic, when it counted, when it didn't count, whatever. He has 4.8 win shares, Kobe didn't. LeBron was a beast against the Magic, Kobe was a bit less impressive.

  103. hk Says:

    *unscientific opinion

    Sorry about the typo.

  104. joe Says:

    102- HK
    I dislike Lebron and Kobe. Personally, I think Wade vs Lebron is a much better argument at this point than Lebron vs Kobe. I agree that Lebron was clearly the best player in last year's playoffs. I guess I am just one of those people who likes to use stats to help form my opinion, but still relies heavily on game tape as well. Just a different way to do it. I think the main point I want to make without digressing into a stats argument (I love that advanced stats have made it into the NBA, now for the NFL) is that win or lose as I said before, Lebron needs to come up big (I'm talking game 3, game 5 2007 etc.) because that's what great players do. One thing that has confounded me is how the Cavs win so much in the regular season yet have so much trouble in the playoffs. Are they kind of like the Suns and Mavs used to be in the early to mid 2000s? HK, I don't mean to denigrate win shares, I really am just new to this whole advanced stat idea. Thanks for helping me out.

  105. Alvy Says:

    I still don't understand what Kobe has to do with LeBron's night. Was he his shooting coach that night, or did Kobe tell Mike Brown how to allocate minutes? Or did Kobe play the Celtics the same day as they Cavs played game five in order to compare himself? I'm not sure. For all the search put into how distinctly different these two players are, it's a little low to be sucked into *this*. NBA culture isn't just reactionary, it is also pretty stubborn.

  106. Ken Says:

    Guys, Lebron's WS/48 is so awesome! His WS/48 is so much better than Kobe's.

    Wait, you're saying Lebron's not going to actually get 4 wins this series? You mean he didn't get 4 wins against the Magic last year but Kobe did? Damn. I don't think that matters thought. What matters is Lebron's WS/48 is better than Kobe's, so I mean, forget watching actual games and whose team actually wins and losses. WS/48 for the...win!

  107. hk Says:

    104- Joe, I'll just point to this: http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=5605

    And Lebron's name being there twice already in his short career. Michael only made the list once, so it isn't like Bron hasn't proven himself.

    I used Kobe as an example over Wade because he's been more durable throughout his career and in a single season format.

  108. hk Says:

    106- Yeah Ken, we should conveniently leave out the reason why teams win and lose basketball games, and stop tracking individual stats (as sarcastically mentioned before).

    Kobe has better teammates, he's not a better individual, that's just fact.

  109. joe Says:

    107- HK, I agree with you that Lebron has had some big time playoff performances. I'm just saying that he needs another one tomorrow night with the way the Celtics (especially Rondo) are playing right now. And yes, Lebron is better than Kobe right now and has been for a few years now. I honesty believe that Wade is better than Kobe right now and would be a more apt comparison for Lebron. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how game 6 plays out.

    106- Ken, I hope you are joking. If you are not, then I refer you to the Boston-Miami series this year. Wade carried the Heat to the #5 seed and played as well as Lebron has in these playoffs. Unfortunately, his supporting cast completely tanked against the Celtics. The numbers are ridiculous. I mean no other Heat player, according to PER, even played average (PER=15?)!

  110. Ken Says:

    It's not always on teammates, sometimes leaders need to take responsibility, you know, considering how much disproportionate credit they get when they win (unless it's Kobe, apparently, after reading through some of these posts).

    Lebron with good teammates in the Olympics came up with Bronze. What was the problem then? Teammates weren't good enough? Just not Lebron's fault, again? More excuses?

    Kobe joins the Olympic team, gold medal game close in the 4th, Kobe does what he does. Gold medal.

    Kobe has the intangibles, Lebron doesn't. Great WS/48 though. America loves him for it. Cavs fans feel so much better knowing Lebron's WS/48 and PER have been legendary for years. They are all sleeping very well tonight knowing Lebron's WS/48 and PER will carry them to another title.

  111. Richard Says:

    @Ricardo - If you saw, my first comment was in response to anon who made it sound like having Shaq and Gasol come into their primes around kobe was somewhat comparable. Which it wasnt. Then you jumped in hollering some gibberish about: "Oh, you're right - one play is utter garbage when evaluating a player. But four? Now that's the stuff! Four plays from 268 minutes of basketball is plenty to go on." Not my fault you didnt take the time to read properly.

    @Joe - I lived in Memphis for awhile and Gasol drove fans crazy. I dont think they ever felt Gasol could be THE MAN. But now as the sidekick his career has taken off. He just always seemed to fit the Pippen role better. I made one assessment on a guy i watched closely for 3 years in Memphis and it was mistaken for defending kobe or that i was calling Gasol garbage. The internet is a funny thing.

  112. Jimmy Says:

    It comes down to this- if the stats predicted the future perfectly, we wouldn't have any discussion here. There'd be no need, we'd know exactly who the best player and team was. But it would also be pretty boring, and no one would watch because we'd already know what happens. Luckily, the stats don't predict the future perfectly, which leaves the outcomes in doubt and makes them exciting.

    There's a drawback though. When the stats don't predict the future perfectly, and we've pushed the stats as far as we can but they just can't predict better than 60% or 70% or whatever the number is, we need to account for that other 30-40% that the stats didn't predict.

    We have options. We could recognize it as random variability, which still allows the stats to theoretically be right, but the measurements are imperfect. If we had an infinite sample, we'd have perfect numbers, but we don't and that explains the variability. However, humans need order and we seek patterns as a survival mechanism, it's an evolutionary thing. If we accept the random nature of sports (and life, for that matter), would they even have meaning anymore? If it’s all a crapshoot, why should we even care?

    So we go to the second option, which is to imbue that 40% with mythical qualities like clutch ability. We can only ID this in hindsight, but we go in ex post facto and explain the 40% the stats can't with desire and heart and clutchness rather than acknowledging random variability, because we need the solace that if we only knew the clutch player abilities ahead of time, we could combine that 40% with the 60% the stats predict, and we would have 100%, the universe would be ordered again.

    The problem of course is that clutch doesn't predict that remaining 40% going forward. Players who are clutch today aren't going to necessarily be clutch tomorrow. That doesn't matter though, because we're only doing it after the fact and subconsciously modifying our beliefs to fit reality. We really just need to believe the superior team always wins (if not superior in talent, then at least superior in grit). It’s a great big evolutionary coping mechanism to avoid facing the harsh reality of life’s randomness, since accepting that reality would deprive existence of all meaning.

  113. 94x50blog Says:

    Jordan had Pippen (top 5), a great veteran supporting cast and Phil Jackson his first go-round with the Bulls.

    Jordan had Pippen, Rodman (best rebounder at the time), Kukoc (best international player), and Phil Jackson his second go round with the Bulls.

    Kobe had Shaq, a great veteran supporting cast (Fox, Fisher, Horry, Shaw, and later Karl Malone & Gary Payton - past their primes but each player both definitely in the top 8-10 at their positions), and Phil Jackson.

    Kobe has Pau (top 10), Lamar & Artest (top 40-45), Bynum (don't know where I'd rank him right now), an "okay" supporting cast of Fisher, Farmar and Brown, and once again, Phil Jackson.

    Does LeBron have anyone that you'd rank top 50 on his team? Pau is definitely a top 5 PF. Is Mo Williams a top 5 PG? No. Is Antawn a top 5 PF? No. Is Shaq a top 5 center? Until about 2007, yes. Is Mike Brown a top 5 coach? Would you take him over the head coach of your favorite team? Probably not. OK, definitely not.

    My point is - everyone (bloggers, analysts, writers, Twitterererers, etc.) brings up the rings that Jordan and Kobe have. Which is unfair and stupid for several reasons.

    1. Both Jordan & Kobe have had better supporting casts. This is without a doubt. I think one thing LeBron has going for him is that he lead the following team to the NBA Finals: Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Daniel Gibson, Sasha Pavlovic, Eric Snow, Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall & Anderson Varejao. At the age of 21-22. Would you rank any of those guys in the top 20 that year? Any of them? Honestly? No, you wouldn't. Jordan had a pretty mediocre supporting cast until the Bulls acquired Pippen and Grant and it even took that trio another 3 years + Phil Jackson to win the title. The year after Shaq, Kobe/Lamar/Caron Butler w/ Rudy as head coach only won 34 games. The following year Kobe/Lamar/Kwame won 45 games. And the year after that? 42-40. Kobe at least had Lamar and Phil, who the hell did LeBron have? Seriously? Pau SAVED Kobe. Everyone knows this. Please remember this. Kobe wanted out until Pau saved the day.

    2. Phil Jackson > Mike Brown, Mike Brown's dog, Mike Brown's family, Mike Brown's car, Mike Brown's bald head. Enough said.

    3. Michael Jordan played 7 seasons before he won a title. Kobe played 4, but had the luxury of playing w/ Shaq since day 1. Jordan played another 6 seasons with the Bulls after that, and 2 more with the Wizards for a total of 15 seasons. LeBron just finished his 7th regular season and is 25 years old. Jordan was 28 after 7 seasons. Kobe has been in the league since 1996 and just finished his 14th season. He also just signed a 3 year extension. If he completes the terms of the contract, that'll put him at 17 seasons, 10 more than LeBron currently. I'd say it's fair to give LeBron another 10 years to win a ring, don't you?

    4. Pete Chilcutt, Adam Morrison and Brian Scalabrine have all won rings. Morrison can't even get off the bench and he was a top 3 pick. Nobody will even high five Scal. Chilcutt has a funny last name. Let's stop with the rings thing. The three guys I just mentioned will never be in the HOF when it's all said and done, unless that HOF consists of those 3 guys alone and Mike Brown's dog. LeBron will REGARDLESS if he ever wins a ring. ANYONE can win a ring, the greatest go to the Hall of Fame.

    5. If Tuesday night's game happened this time a year ago, NOBODY WOULD HAVE GIVEN A DAMN. You know this. I know this. Mike Brown's dog knows this. So does his bald head. It ONLY matters because it happened on the verge of LeBron's free agency. Can we all at least agree on that?

    6. At the age of 25, here is what LeBron James has accomplished. 2003-2004 ROTY, All NBA 1st Team 05-06, 07-08, 08-09, 09-10. 2nd Team 04-05 and 06-07. All NBA Defensive 1st Team 08-09 & 09-10. LeBron is already in the Top 100 Total Assists with 3810. Top 2 Total Points since 2004-2005. Top 4 in ppg since 2004-2005. Top 10 in apg & spg in 04-05, 07-10. Win Shares top 4 since 2004-2005. Career 103.5 (65th all time). He came into the league with more hype than any draft pick in the history of basketball. I would say he's lived up to the hype. Rings or no rings. The guy averaged 29.7 (2nd), 8.6 (6th), 7.3 (33rd) along with 1.7 steals per game (9th). He's in the top 10 in 3 major statistical categories and top 33 in another. Holy Santa Claus shit. Has Kobe or Jordan ever done this? I don't know -- someone please look it up. I'm going to venture to say that Kobe never has, Jordan might have been close. Let me know.

    7. The LeBron vs. Kobe vs. Jordan talk needs to stop. Now. Let's talk about it AFTER LeBron and Kobe have retired. To talk about it while they're both still playing is foolish. Kobe's already got his 4 rings and is on his way to Springfield. LeBron doesn't have a ring, but his two MVP's pretty much lock him in for Springfield. Let's resume this conversation the day after LeBron retires. For what it's worth - I've never liked Kobe but have grown to appreciate his game the last few years, especially this year. I liked Jordan but was never a huge fan. I will be honest here - the things LeBron does night in and night out (love you, NBA League Pass) is remarkable. Even his biggest haters have to appreciate what the man does on the court, ring or no rings. Especially when you consider his supporting cast.

    Jordan's legacy is complete.

    So is Kobe's.

    LeBron's?

    Just getting started. If he gets his Pau/Pippen/Shaq (top 10 guy in their prime, not after), then let's give him hell if he doesn't win a ring. Until then, it's kind of pointless because he doesn't have that guy.

  114. maw Says:

    I'm a Lebron James fan, but I don't think he has developed the KILLER INSTINCT that Jordan or Kobe has. You'd have to bind Jordan's hands behind his back and lock him up in a warehouse just to stop him from competing. Lebron simply didn't compete last night.

    Everybody's entitled to a bad shooting night, but at least you would see Jordan and Kobe try and leave everything on the floor. Lebron looked like he was coasting.

  115. hk Says:

    115- Disagree, he simply had an off night and it happens. It has nothing to do with "desire", the Cavs don't even shake hands after games. He hates the Celtics, he doesn't want to lose to them.

    I've read what Laker/Cavs fans say after tough losses, people always exaggerate.

  116. Anon Says:

    "Lebron with good teammates in the Olympics came up with Bronze. What was the problem then? Teammates weren't good enough? Just not Lebron's fault, again? More excuses?

    Kobe joins the Olympic team, gold medal game close in the 4th, Kobe does what he does. Gold medal."

    First of all, Kobe played horribly for most of the Olympics until the gold medal game. In the gold medal game, he didn't do anything until that 4th quarter, when Wade carried the team (AND Kobe) and also guarded the players better that Kobe allowed to go off with his own defense. Oh, and Kobe also happened to START during the Olympics and play full minutes, which is something LeBron didn't do in '04. Let's see Kobe win anything with that, in addition to Iverson, Marbury, and Jefferson chucking and bricking shots as starters.

    As has been said on this blog many times before, the problem isn't that Kobe isn't appreciated as an all-time NBA great or isn't getting his proper credit for what HE (and not his TEAM) has done as a player. The problem is that he gets TOO MUCH CREDIT. Some people need to take off the Kobe-colored glasses and start looking at him objectively.

  117. Stu Says:

    The Kobe fan boys can't resist can they? LeBron is better, he had a bad game, Kobe has had several, so have I, so will you. End of.

  118. AYC Says:

    Anon, thank you! I watched all 8 of the Redeem Team's games and you are absolutely right; Kobe did not play well the entire Olympics until the 4th quarter of the last game. Wade was the best player on that team (even in that last game), Kobe wasn't even one of their top 5 most productive players.

    I can't wait to see how many championships Lebron wins once he gets a decent coach...

  119. Ricardo Says:

    Re: the Boston Celtics slippage on defense.

    The 2010 version is not at the level of the 2008 version. But with the same starting five in place from their 2008 team, is it so inconcievable that they could find their 2008 form in one game?

    Michael Jordan at 39 wasn't what he had once been, but he did manage a 50-point game that season. Cannot five guys find their previous form as well?

  120. Joseph Says:

    "is it so inconcievable that they could find their 2008 form in one game"

    We're not talking about one game. We're talking about a season, a playoff, and a series. Regression to the mean. 2008 is 2008, and 2010 is 2010. You are what you are. Boston's '10 D is simply not of the same caliber as its '08 D. End of story.

    Also, regarding this supporting cast claptrap, Lebron has had his GM's ear for three years now, since they lost the Finals, and he got every piece he asked for. Why would he want Shaq? I doubt that Danny Ferry or Gilbert were doing backflips for Shaq. For some reason LeBron wanted him, and got him. Poor choice--he should have pushed for someone like Bosh. He got Mo Williams, he got Jamison, he got a deep bench. Enough already--stop making excuses. You got your pieces, now put them together. We're not talking Smush Parker and Kwame Brown as starters here. Cleveland's nucleus is tight and its roster is deep.

    As I speak, Shaq just got his second foul, to go with 1-3 FG, a turnover, and a technical in 11 minutes of play. Yikes.

  121. Joseph Says:

    Slipping away...

    LeBron:
    FG FT RB A TO St Pts
    5-16 7-10 13 8 7 3 17

    Getting to the free throw line, almost a triple double, but... that 5-16 and 7 turnovers look pretty ugly.

    4th quarter will tell all.

  122. Joseph Says:

    Bye, Cavs--see you in the lottery in '12. And bye, LeBron. See you in NYC...

    Crazy.

  123. Ken Says:

    I'm sure Cavs fans are loving Lebron's PER and WS/48 tonight. Great job Bron Bron. You the man!

  124. Anon Says:

    "Enough already--stop making excuses. You got your pieces, now put them together."

    'Put them together'? Sorry, but LeBron doesn't shoot for his teammates.

    This game was another example of why the Cavs have had trouble over the years -- they're too reliant on LeBron to win. Outside of him and a solid game by Mo Williams, there was no one else either producing or creating shots for their team. Because of that, LeBron HAS to play perfectly for his team to win (which he didn't tonight), which is NOT a formula for any title team. Compare this to the Celtics, Lakers, and Magic this season.

    Plus, last time I checked LeBron can't guard everyone on defense either.

  125. Ken Says:

    Did Lebron dance? Some more cool handshakes with teammates? Someone should show Lebron's stats, including PER, I'm sure he'll start up the dancing ASAP. After all, Check His Stats!

    Cavs = Front runners

  126. Anon Says:

    "I'm sure Cavs fans are loving Lebron's PER and WS/48 tonight. Great job Bron Bron. You the man!"

    How cute. Ever realize that even with this postseason LeBron STILL outdid 2 of 3 Kobe's performances with the 00-02 Lakers? But oh wait, I forgot we must conveniently forget that a dude named Shaquille O'Neal was in his prime at the time (and that's not to mention the terrific production from the supporting casts). No, let's just gloss over that fact and once again become mesmerized by Kobe's shiny TEAM RING!

    Once again, teams win when you can have multiple consistent options to go to on your squad, instead of one that HAS to pull legendary performances out of his hat for all of his teams 16 wins to get the title.

  127. Keith Ellis Says:

    I hope some of us read Kareem's comments in an AP story today. Jabbar rightly sees King James as a gifted player who never received the preparation for the pros that stars from the pre/post-Merger era (Sixties thru Eighties) enjoyed. LeBron's near-quadruple-double tonight (including nine Errors) again showed he is most comparable to George McGinnis who also turned pro w/ scant amateur seasoning.

    And where are the stat-guys whenever Michael Jordan inevitably enters conversations about Kobe & LeBron? The reason Jordan started winning after 1989 was Phil Jackson's persuasion that instead of trying to imitate the do-everything Big O Mike should turn over playmaking chores to Pippen & let Scottie lead the club on both ends of the floor. When Kobe took a turn at monopolizing the ball for the post-Shaq Lakers, he was equally disappointed with the TEAM result. LeBron, like McGinnis, will never be a champion as long as he hopes to please the Hollinger-esque statmen who ooh & aah over one player doing it all & four others standing around looking bored.

    Of course, Big George *was* a two-time champ when he merely played to his strengths w/ the talented deep Pacer versions. Ditto Kobe. Ditto Mike. The only pro to date who has ever been a one-man-team and won a world's championship is the 1976 Dr J.

  128. Anon Says:

    "LeBron, like McGinnis, will never be a champion as long as he hopes to please the Hollinger-esque statmen who ooh & aah over one player doing it all & four others standing around looking bored."

    Didn't we already see what happened when LeBron took on a more "passive" role in Game 5? That's right, the Cavs were blown out at home, people hopped on the other side of the fence and BLASTED LeBron for not playing Superman like he usually does. This dude just can't win with some people.

    Just giving away the possessions to other teammates isn't simple (although optimal for the game). They must also be able to have the ability to take on those shots in their skillsets, and if they can't then you're better off with the star doing it for them. It's just that you can't do that throughout the entire playoffs and win championships, which is why building TEAMS with multiple go-to guys are important in basketball.

  129. Ken Says:

    You're totally right Anon. Lebron with such an awesome postseason run this year. I'm sure Cavs fans and Lebron fans are fapping to his stats vs. the Bulls right now. They loved this 9 turnover sub 40% shooting game and humiliating exit in Round 2 to an old Celtic team.

    Mmm individual stats. King James, baby! Dance King, Dance!

  130. Anon Says:

    Just as a quick addendum, I always thought that this is where the Cavs would've probably been better off with Amar'e instead of Antawn at the trade deadline. Amar'e has been a great playoff performer in his career and he's having another great playoffs this season. He would've been the type of guy that could get you the consistency elsewhere on the floor outside of LeBron, and also help shoulder some of the load when other guys have off-nights.

  131. Keith Ellis Says:

    On this we agree, Anon -- from its earliest days basketball was played most intelligently by entities called Big Fives, not The Man and his so-called supporting cast.

    On the following we likely don't -- LeBron James turned pro with most of us expecting he would become a New Magic Johnson, fitting in and making his teammates better. It's easy to forget nowadays but before Magic the Lakers were perennial disappointments. They already had a championship-calibre point guard in Norm Nixon. Magic, like Bills Russell and Walton and Pippen with another skillset, had that intangible knack for improving his teammates. Instead of trying Magic's tack, however, the impressionable LBJ was sold on the scheme of becoming the New #23. Had he entered the pros as an already-champ as Magic did coming out of Michigan State, perhaps LeBron would have possessed more confidence to play the game the right (as opposed to self-aggrandizing) way.

  132. Will Allen Says:

    Holy cow, as a regular poster at Football Outsiders, it is amazing to me to read that beasketball fans at a site supposedly devoted to advanced analysis are even more deluded by small sample sizes and The Myth of The Ring, when evaluating individual performance, than NFL fans.

    You don't have to be a Kobe hater to note that he played with Hall of Fame, MVP-caliber center for many years, and thus his chances of playoff success were enormously boosted, compared to what LeBron's chnaces with his teammates have thus been. Sheesh, this is like listening to a NFL fan argue that Hines Ward is a better wide receiver than Andre Johnson, based on how the Steelers have done in the playoffs.

  133. Anon Says:

    "On the following we likely don't -- LeBron James turned pro with most of us expecting he would become a New Magic Johnson, fitting in and making his teammates better."

    We don't, and that's because he ALREADY does that. It's just that he doesn't exactly have a Kareem-esque player to just throw the ball down into the post to create the offense either.

    If the Cavs want to win (provided LeBron sticks around), they need to get players that can bring it in the playoffs, not guys like Mo Wiliams for example who seems to disappear in the postseason.

  134. Anon Says:

    "You don't have to be a Kobe hater to note that he played with Hall of Fame, MVP-caliber center for many years, and thus his chances of playoff success were enormously boosted, compared to what LeBron's chnaces with his teammates have thus been. Sheesh, this is like listening to a NFL fan argue that Hines Ward is a better wide receiver than Andre Johnson, based on how the Steelers have done in the playoffs."

    Welcome to the world of basketball blogs, where rationality goes out the window. Enjoy your stay :)

  135. Keith Ellis Says:

    LeBron makes his teammates better? Didn't we see Shaq this season? After hitting highs last year with the Suns, the Big Aristotle was befuddled throughout '010 by LeBron's monopolization of the ball. And he's a guy who'd played in support of hired guns Kobe & Dwyane Wade for a decade.

    LeBron historically and currently does not make his teammates better. The seeds of his chosen (chosen, because he could have opted to be a Magic Johnson) style of play may be traced back to the 1977 '76ers who took turns running plays for themselves (first Collins, then Doc, then Mac, then Lloyd B Free would get his). Because of the thinned talent in today's scene, the Cavs instead became accustomed to running four plays for LeBron to shine and then giving somebody else a chance.

    When they run up against a great player in a team-oriented sharing attack (the Howard Magic, the Garnett Celtics), the Cavs can't change their style of play on-the-fly and expect to succeed. When LeBron started "subduing" himself the last couple games in frustration, he reminded of Wilt Chamberlain's refusal to shoot in the '68 playoffs as well as Julius Erving's first years in Philly. Old habits die hard. LeBron has a slim chance to remake himself now on another team. Here's hoping he makes the right choice.

  136. Anon Says:

    "LeBron makes his teammates better? Didn't we see Shaq this season? After hitting highs last year with the Suns, the Big Aristotle was befuddled throughout '010 by LeBron's monopolization of the ball."

    Not exactly a fair example to cite when 1) you just look at one player and 2) that said player is not in his prime, prone to injuries, and isn't able to maintain the same consistency in his performance from year to year as a result.

  137. Keith Ellis Says:

    It's so predictable to blame Shaq for the King's foibles. The storyline, of course, was supposed to be Shaq calling LBJ his "little brother" and everybody noting how unselfish and mature O'Neal had gracefully grown as an elder statesman. LeBron is the prime reason Shaq is no longer considered a passably-good player.

    If we don't like the Shaq example, let's look at Antawn Jamison: Did LeBron James make Jamison a better player? How about citing several shining examples of LeBron making his teammates better players rather than just saying he does?

    Is Anderson Varejao a better player for tossing up all those awkward shots with the shotclock about to hit zero? I'm not a Varejao fan, but had to feel for the Brazilian launching a three-pointer toward the end of tonite's game when every other Cav on the floor, including LeBron, wanted to see the full final minute and a half simply dribbled out.

    Speaking of which, another habit hard to die is the one that's developed over the past fifteen years of professionals standing around dribbling out the clock without attempting to Offend, even in a relatively close ballgame. Time was ticket-paying fans felt disrespected to see such indifference to their hard-earned money spent. Nowadays it's par for the course.

  138. AYC Says:

    What part of "Team Game" do people not understand? The Cavs as a TEAM weren't good enough, and they had the worst coach of any contender too. Lebron is still the best player in the world; he just had 27/19/10 in what was for him a sub-par effort

  139. Anon Says:

    "How about citing several shining examples of LeBron making his teammates better players rather than just saying he does?"

    How about watching the games? For seven seasons, the Cavaliers have overachieved with players that are really mostly average overall, and, unlike their leader, aren't able to carry over their regular season production to the playoffs. LeBron and the Cavs don't do ANYTHING different as far as their gameplan is concerned. LeBron plays brilliantly, and opens up the entire floor for others to get the shots that they don't otherwise get, hence making them ALL look better than they really are. However in the postseason against better opponents with better defenses, those shots are harder to come by. Without the ability to keep making good of those looks they get, create shots, and take tough shots on their own without a facilitator setting up everything for them, they come back to earth and are exposed for the players they really are: average. And when that happens, LeBron *naturally* does what is in the best interest for the team, and that is carry his team's offense. Basketball players share the ball when other EFFECTIVE (key word here) shot-creators on the team show their ability to perform under that capacity, not the other way around. If not, then they must provide the offense themselves.

    Once again, it's part of the "myth crap" that this sport suffers more from than any other sport. Not winning a championship is doesn't necessarily mean that you didn't make your teammates better at all. The relative terms are what matters here, not the absolute terms -- and for that, you need to look at what the player had to begin with. And for the Cavs, they don't have players outside of LeBron who can continue the production that THEY are responsible for into the playoffs.

  140. Keith Ellis Says:

    Anon, your arguments come straight from Wilt Chamberlain's first biography, & I have to salute that! Championships are overrated. Pettit, West, & Robertson won only one, Baylor none.

    Anyway, you say on the one hand LeBron makes his teammates excepting Shaq & Varejao & Jamison better, but on the other they don't measure up. So he hasn't made them better-enough for competition against better opponents with better defenses.

    As Mike Goodman has shown, the average pro bkb player performs at 95% of his reg-season averages. Some great players perform lower than 95% of reg-season. I think Wilt is <95%, & Bird's borderline. We need Mike to tell us how LeBron fits careerwise. Outdoing the 95% norm doesn't make even all Stars champs; IIRC Karl Malone's playoff self was a big out-doer.

    LeBron not-winning in his 7th season can be consoled by Chamberlain not-winning until his 8th, except that Wilt's teams after '65 only got better after he focused his game, which even included sacrificing Scoring while making Jerry West Assist leader, something Jerry'd never neared when teamed with highscoring Elgin Baylor.

    Still, I can't help but think after seeing Game Six: The King is Dead. Long Live The Big Dipper!

  141. Anon Says:

    "Anyway, you say on the one hand LeBron makes his teammates excepting Shaq & Varejao & Jamison better, but on the other they don't measure up. So he hasn't made them better-enough for competition against better opponents with better defenses."

    Maybe that's more telling on the PLAYER than LeBron. LeBron has gotten them incredibly far on what they have. But if Andy wants to be able to be that go-to guy on the block instead of having to need LeBron to get him the ball on the pass to get his points, then Andy needs to work on his post moves. If Mo wants to be the great playmaking guard to shoulder some of LeBron's burden at a point, he needs to work on his ball-handling and taking care of the ball. And so on. Until then, no one should be mad if their duties are regulated to someone who can do it more effectively without getting harassed by the better teams.

    The "But I need the LEADER to play well!" argument really gets a little old in some sports circles. Players need to be their OWN leader that they can all certainly become if they want to and be responsible for their own work to become better players.

  142. hk Says:

    Keith you're delusional. You brought up Shaq? Really? The oldest player in the nba, playing in a slow paced offense, had an off year? Wow I'm shocked (haha yeah right).

    LeBron beat the hell out of the Magic last year and still lost. Or are you putting the 49 game against him too, and his extremely efficient series against the #1 defense? That's because Mo Williams and that supporting cast usually doesn't show up when it counts.

    When Mo or Jamison become as valuable as Pippen come and tell us about it. What a joke.

    LeBron is closer to the Michael Jordan that had no rings until age 28, because the Bulls drafted intelligently.

  143. Neil Paine Says:

    You know whose job it was to make Jamison and Shaq better? Mike Brown. His offensive game plan didn't adapt at all to Boston's defense, he didn't put anyone in a position to help LeBron when the Celtics swarmed him... Plain and simple, he did an awful coaching job.

  144. Neil Paine Says:

    What's really crazy is that Brown continued to play one of his least effective lineups the most... In the playoffs, Williams/Parker/James/Jamison/O'Neal was easily the worst option among their 5 most frequent lineups: http://basketballvalue.com/teamunits.php?year=2010%20playoffs&team=CLE

    Yet that's the lineup he used the most last night, and throughout the Celtics series. When Varejao was at C, the Cavs played their best ball -- their top lineup vs. Boston was Williams/Parker/James/Jamison/Varejao... But O'Neal played more minutes in the series (and Varejao was only in more foul trouble than Shaq in Game 3, a Cavs win, and Game 5).

  145. Keith Ellis Says:

    Johnny-come-latelies on the Blast Shaq bandwagon should've been there in the early 2000s when it was clear O'Neal had no "quick moves" as the TV talking heads liked to trumpet. The Oldest Player in the NBA had no trouble collecting titles when Magic was getting everybody involved in the game. Furtherance of the notion that Shaquille O'Neal, who in '09 put up practically a career year in fast-paced Phoenix, is a leading cause of LeBron's woes is exactly what will keep King James off any true throne outside of hyped-up MVP hit parades.

    The Cavs & NBA gave LeBron everything he desired to claim a ring. Getting Jamison for free while keeping Ilgauskas was the Great Train Robbery of this century. Yet LeBron's losing somehow still gets laid at his teammates' doorstep. This attitude reminds of little so much as the MVP-calibre Big O in Cincy along w/ the do-it-all period Michael Jordan went through in 1989, zipping ill-advised passes for TOs & blaming the teammate when they bounce off his knees.

  146. AYC Says:

    Not surprisingly, they played very well with Jamario Moon in the lineup (58 FG%, 50% from 3); why does he only play 10 mpg again? I will be shocked if Coach Brown is still around by the end of the playoffs....

  147. AYC Says:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?playerId=3249

    7.2 MPG for Moon in Celts series, down from 14.0 mpg vs Bulls. But why play your most productive role-player on the perimeter against a team with HOFer at the wings?

  148. Neil Paine Says:

    Wait, you think 2009 was Shaq's career year? On what planet is that even remotely close to being true?

  149. Anon Says:

    ^^^ Not to mention that it's not like he didn't "get his touches" either. His USG % (and I would also have to assume offensive possession % rate) showed that he was carrying an all-star load of his team's offense. The only problem is that he's not *producing* like one anymore, and anyone who watched Cavs games this season and playoffs could tell you that teams played Shaq one-on-one often in the post and focused more of their defensive efforts on LeBron. You couldn't say that about Shaq even when he was in his not-as-good-as he-was but still top 10-15 player in the league with the Miami Heat.

    Sheesh. I know that the "old heads" in basketball like to throw around the "Stat people don't watch the games!" accusation alot, but I sometimes wonder if THEY are even watching the games?

  150. Keith Ellis Says:

    "Wait, you think 2009 was Shaq's career year? On what planet is that even remotely close to being true?"

    Neil, see http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/o/onealsh01.html and you will find that the '09 Shaq hit his career high in shooting surety & approached his MVP-era career lows in Errors, not to mention markedly decreasing his PFs while raising his production-per-minute. He hardly has the profile of a player "in decline" until hitting CleveLand & the LeBron-a-thon that would put any co-star to sleep on the floor.

    Had Kobe tried to similarly monopolize the ball on a team with Shaq he'd've never earned that "little brother" monicker that O'Neal would've liked to dub King James with as well. Some players just have to be The Man on any team, anywhere. We saw the same thing happen when Michael Jordan "came back" to upset the rhythms of Rip Hamilton and Jerry StackHouse (after demanding that Rip be traded). Jordan got away with it because he didn't have Phil Jackson to set him straight on the Wizards; Doug Collins was hardly the coach to stand up to Mike. LeBron has been in a similar situation with the ex-Pacer assistant coaching CleveLand. LBJ has simply been counseled to be the New #23 for marketing purposes rather than the New Magic for *winning* purposes.

    It's the age-old question: Who would you rather be -- Kwame Brown with a $50 million contract or Robert Horry with 7 rings? For the first seven years of his career, LeBron chose to be a ball-monopolizer instead of getting everybody involved a la his natural role model Magic. If James thinks that taking the same tack over and over will result in a championship, he should be reminded that a little fellow named Julius Erving is the only one-man-team World's Pro Champion so far to come down the pike.

  151. Keith Ellis Says:

    Another point we've failed to recognize in our zeal of LBJ-adulation. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who himself says LeBron James' talent have been warped by the lack of preparation for the pros, had a longer grey beard than Shaquille did yet he & Magic somehow managed to make it out of the conference semi-finals year after year.

  152. AYC Says:

    Keith, have you actually watched Shaq play this year?! Comparisons to Kareem are meaningless; every player declines at his own rate.

    Meanwhile, Kobe, KG and Dwight Howard all jumped from HS to the pros, so that argument doesn't quite work, does it?

    Finally, Lebron has developed some bad habits, but that is do to BAD COACHING. Comparisons to Magic are silly, when Magic went to an LA team with Kareem in his prime, plus Jamaal Wilkes and Norm Nixon. If you don't think the Lakers would breeze to the title with Bron instead of the sexual predator, you are smoking crack. It's a TEAM game

  153. Neil Paine Says:

    Here's Shaq's career path with Win Shares and PER converted to wins:

    shaq career path

    Check the trendlines -- he's been in decline for years.

  154. nimble Says:

    some incurable Kobe haters still lurking!Go fishing with Hollinger and Lebron.Use WS and PER as bait.

  155. nimble Says:

    Another food for thought;what Kobe might have been statistically if he had stayed and played for an Eastern conference second tier team?Especially in the first 10 years,where he would have been an alpha dog?For entertainment purposes let's throw in the alternate universe where he has not gone through any courtroom drama at his athletics prime?
    Neil this one's for you to ponder.

    Thanks.

  156. Keith Ellis Says:

    Kneejerk plea-references to "PER" and "EFF" don't impress anyone with PERspective going further back than the post-shortened-arc era. Simply blaming Shaquille for somehow being "too old" to win another championship with the right supporting cast woefully ignores the experiences of Jabbar and Chamberlain, with whom the PER-heads once compared O'Neal when he was still a hyped-up-item. And let's not forget greybeard Bill Russell won a title in his 36th year, tossing 374 Assists to go with 1500 Rebbies.

    The type of TEAM game that Russ & Wilt exemplified by their Rebounding and Playmaking lies in direct conflict with the do-it-all McGinnis-styled LeBron-a-thon. When the goal is to impress the Hollingers and do Triple-Doubles, Shaq's contributions get squeezed and the overall team effort suffers. It's no coincidence O'Neal's marksmanship went from a career high last year to a a career low in '010 CleveLand.

  157. Neil Paine Says:

    Wilt exemplified the team game, while LeBron doesn't? I like Wilt, but he was obsessed with numbers -- he once turned leading the league in assists into a selfish act! If PER had existed when he was playing, god only knows what would have happened. He would been crunching the numbers at halftime, making sure he didn't drop a hundredth of a point during the 1st half. LeBron, on the other hand, has pass-first instincts at heart. He wants to set up his teammates as much as he wants to score himself -- witness the time he passed up a game-winning attempt to feed Donyell Marshall for a wide-open shot (which Marshall promptly missed).

    That's LeBron's career in a microcosm: Try to be a good teammate and set other guys up, and the media complains he doesn't have a "killer instinct" & isn't ballsy enough to take the final shot... Try to score more, and the media complains he's too hell-bent on going 1-on-5 and "isn't making his teammates better". Either way, he can't win. And for you to suggest that an oft-injured, broken-down 37-year-old Shaq in 2010 is as good as the 2000 version that was one of the most dominant players in NBA history? That's patently absurd. Don't like Win Shares or PER? Fine. By whatever production metric you want, points per game, rebounds per game, whatever, Shaq of the past 3-4 years has been a mere shell of what he used to be.

  158. Anon Says:

    Keith,

    Do they still nail peach baskets to the wall and have a ladder to get the ball out of the basket every time someone scores where you live?

    Shaq isn't "too old"? Don't be ridiculous. I just KNEW you would levy the tired and false "stats people don't watch the games" charge Neil against with your last post, but like I said before it seems the only people that are using them are the ones who aren't really watching the games themselves.

  159. Keith Ellis Says:

    "Don't be ridiculous. I just KNEW you would levy the tired and false 'stats people don't watch the games' charge Neil against with your last post, but like I said before it seems the only people that are using them are the ones who aren't really watching the games themselves."

    Don't recall levelling the charge that you don't watch the games, Neil. Is this how we advance a perspective, by labelling Wilt's ultra-pivot-playmaking strategy that resulted in 130 reg-season Ws in two years, including rings for the team & a 7th-game conference finals loss (neither of which the 127-win Cavs've managed in '09 & '010), somehow selfish?