The talk. The one I fear having with my son or daughter one day: How do I explain sports figures that played “in my day”.
It’s fitting that there’s Dr. J documentary premiering tonight on NBATV, because I feel the same way about Dr. J, now, I’m sure my children will feel about LeBron James two decades from now. When I hear men who came of age in the 60s and 70s talk about the evolution “modern basketball player” they trace it back to Elgin Baylor, who passed the torch to Dr. J, who shovel passed it the Michael Jordan. Dr. J is almost never discussed amongst the greatest 10-15 players of all-time, but his legacy is mostly relegated to anecdotes and folklore. Most of my peers have very little appreciation for his impact on the history of the sport, which must frustrate those who witnessed the Afro puffed, Converse wearing phenom create highlight after highlight, before the highlights were on SportsCenter every night.
By the beginning of the 3rd Quarter of Game 2 I started to ponder how difficult it would be explain the unparalleled greatness of LeBron James to my child if he were to lose the series in fashion where he “shrunk from the moment” (which is a very wonky way of saying “played poorly”). It would be a bit awkward to explain how one of the greatest players of all-time lost in three NBA Finals series in the most embarrassing fashions, while simultaneously explaining to my kid that LeBron was by far the greatest player of his generation. How could a player who was physically and intellectually functioning at an entirely level from his peers, continue to fail year after year? How could the ultimate embodiment of “team-first” basketball, fail unlike his more “me-first” contemporaries? The 2012 championship season could be seen more as an aberration than evidence for his greatness.
LeBron played one of the great two-way quarters of the season. There was the epic blocked shot on Tiago Splitter, the precision passes to open shooters and a fiery chest bump to top it off. James and Mario Chalmers scored or assisted on 23 straight points in 33-5 run to transform a competitive game into a 25-point victory in Game 2 for the Heat.
Casual Fan Corner:
In the midst of watching LeBron in the fourth quarter my friend turns to me and says “I bet LeBron feels the same way playing basketball that I feel when playing the Sims.” For the record, I’m pretty sure my friend is really good at playing Sims.
On the other side, there’s San Antonio. Their “Big 3” of Ginobili, Parker and Duncan went 10-33. Duncan specifically went 3-13. Luckily for Duncan, his legacy is already etched in stone, I won’t have too much explaining to do when it comes to him. One of the benefits of being the quiet superstar is that Duncan gets to spend the rest of his career protected by the teflon of 4 championship rings. His career was supposed to be over 3-4 years ago, this championship run is just icing on the cake. Duncan gets the sort of pass Kobe, LeBron, Wade and others dream. He’s earned it.
Game 3 will be important. Miami regains home court or San Antonio can take one step closer to stepping on their throats. One day I’ll have to have the “talk” and this series will go a long way in charting out the anatomy of that talk.
Also Check Out:
NBA Finals: Spurs vs. Heat Game 1 Recap
Changing Your Perception About Child Support
First Take – “It’s Hurting America”
Still Standing: Venus Williams Continues To Play Strong Despite Illness
Cappie Pondexter – Being Just One Of The Greatest Isn’t Good Enough