LeBron James…the Next ___ ?

It is time to figure this guy out for once and for all.  There is too much press on the guy to start with and the press can’t be trusted to present a realistic approach.  Yeah I’m talking about the Everyday Sports Paparazzi National but the fact is this guy is the Next.  The Next Jordan though?  I think not.  There have been several guys to come along and do what this kid is going to do.  He might win some championships and he will most likely score 30,000 career points among other statistical achievements.  When the game is on the line he is not the guy you want to rely on shooting the ball or taking free throws.  Sounds to me like Shaquille O’Neal or Wilt Chamberlain.

LeBron James is the next Shaquille O’Neal not Michael Jordan.  He is the guy that keeps you in the game but will always need someone else to close the game.  Shaq needed Kobe and Wade, Wilt needed Jerry West, Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson needed Kareem and Russell had Havlicek and Cousy.  They all won titles but none of those guys did it alone.  Oscar Robertson took ten years in the shadow of Wilt and Russell before he won a title with a young Kareem in ‘71.  LeBron might be taking the same path and although our generation has long since forgotten about the big O he deserves some comparison.  Robertson averaged a triple-double his second year in the league while under one  assist or rebound short for the other four of his first five in the league.

James has the triple double threat of Oscar Robertson and he is nearly twenty percent better from the charity stripe in the playoffs than Wilt Chamberlain or Shaq.  Garnett says he’s six foot thirteen because he doesn’t play like a seven footer and with good reason.  He played the wing most of his youth until a late growth spurt put him where he is now.  James might be the reverse, the closest we have seen to a center in the body of a wing player.  He often uses his size and strength to get to the basket or foul line similar to how Shaq could dominate on the block.  He scores effectively at a high percentage which keeps games close.

He doesn’t distribute like Magic and he doesn’t score in the clutch like Jordan or even Kobe for that matter.  He hasn’t had to fight to be great like either of those guys either.  Magic always had to best Bird and Jordan didn’t make varsity till his junior year in high school.  Lebron, on the other hand, was dubbed “The Chosen One” on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a junior at St. Vincent-St. Mary and the next season was the main event in the first ever regular season nationally televised High School basketball game.  Thanks again, ESPN.

Shaq went on to win four titles, Wilt won two and Oscar only one.  Shaq won his first after his twenty-eighth birthday and LeBron is only twenty-seven.  Everyone is in a rush to see a kid take over the league with clutch scoring and they might start watching Kevin Durant instead.

When Magic and Bird came into the league I wonder if the media force fed comparisons of Dr. J and Oscar Robertson or if they were left to play for their own legacy.  As for LeBron it might be time we start making fewer comparisons and when we do maybe we look to Shaq even though he’s not a center and let the Next Jordan question go quietly into the night.

Advertisements

Patriots Day – Lexington, Massachusetts

The festivities start early on Patriots Day as it did on the morning of the birth of our nation on April 19, Lexington in 1775.  The day starts at 5:30 am with the ringing of the bell on Belfry Hill to signal the coming of the British.  When you think to yourself that this is obscenely early to be out in public at a reenactment on a holiday off from work, think instead that the real ringing of this bell was at 1 or 2 am.   That will help you with the next realization that if you arrived at 5:30 you might already be late.

The adjacent town green is the site for the 5:45 re-enactment and is surrounded by a rope to keep the spectators at bay on the sidewalk.  If you have a walking disability you will want to show up early for several reasons.  Parking is at a premium on the side streets, the front row on the rope goes fast and the crowd fills the sidewalk before the show starts and circumnavigating the green can get difficult.

The closer you are to Buckman Tavern on the East end of the green on Bedford Street, the closer you will be to the action.  Eventually the tavern will open and militia men will pour out reminiscent of a clown car.  The beat of the drum will soon warn of the coming redcoat army.  When the British arrive and surround the militia keep one eye toward the tavern and one on the green to spot the first shot.  The tension will build for minutes as the men get close enough to throw bullets at each other before firing them instead.  For the blind or deaf if you feel out of place; don’t fret.  After a few volleys of shot your ears will be ringing and the green will be smothered with gun smoke.

The crowd has an almost festival type spirit and if you are a fan of American history it has plenty of novelty to offer.  If you are not, have no fear there are several pancake breakfasts within close proximity.  The Lexington center will be open for business and provides something for everyone but if you want to make an early exit you will be better served by planning your parking ahead.  There will be parades and a perpetually late (as deemed by tour guides) Paul Revere coming down Massachusetts Avenue as the day progresses.  To plan parking or transportation options to the town center try the Lexington website –

http://www.lexingtonma.gov/downtownlexington.cfm

Around Lexington the Historic Society also provides tours of Buckman Tavern, The Hancock-Clarke house and Munroe Tavern.  Each provides a different perspective on the day’s events and unique glimpse into the colorful history of Lexington from John Hancock to George Washington.  Buckman Tavern is the closest to the reenactment while the Hancock-Clark house is a short walk in the direction of the fleeing militias.  Munroe Tavern is just outside the town center (south on Mass. Ave) and displays two floors with a gift shop and newly added elevator.  There are a few parking spots on site for what might be the easiest access of the day.

If you want a taste of the reenactment without the crowds, 2013 will be the 300th year anniversary of the founding of Lexington, keep your eyes on the local news for the rehearsal that comes in the weeks before Patriots Day.

Paul Pierce is still crazy after all these years…

It is only fitting that on the same night Paul Pierce scores 36 for the Celtics Kobe Bryant drops 38 for the Lakers. Since 2000 there has been plenty of analysis, stats and awards that show Kobe as the best swing man in the league: 81 point game, regular season MVP, 9 time NBA All Defense First team, two time finals MVP and 5 NBA Championships.

Pierce has been in Kobe’s shadow for over a decade now.  Pierce is a perennial All-Star with an NBA championship and a finals MVP under his belt.  Yet, unlike Kobe, he hasn’t been nominated to a single All-Defensive team despite having the same career 1.5 steals per game, half a block a game and besting him 5.1 to 4.1 on defensive rebounds per game.  Pierce doesn’t score like Kobe and is four empty fingers behind him in championship rings, but aside froom Kobe, Pierce can score and play defense better than any other swing man in the league over that time.

Vince Carter used to throw down a whole lot of pretty dunks for shoe deals and his cousin Tracy McGrady put up 62 points in a game en route to scoring titles.  In baseball everyone wants the 5 tool athlete that can run, catch, throw, hit for power and average.  In basketball scoring titles and dunks are flashy for highlight reels but Pierce is the type of player with all the tools that are needed in the playoffs and he showed it in game two against the Hawks.  In the fourth quarter he started the scoring by driving to the basket on T-Mac for a layup.  He followed with another layup, a fast break dunk, a big three, a mid-range jumper off the dribble and two free throws to ice the lead.  He pulled in four fourth quarter rebounds on his way to a game high 14 and playing without Rondo, Pierce finished second to Garnett with four assists to Garnett’s five.

Watch out for the grit that this Celtics team puts down.  The Heat might be cruising but Pierce, Garnett and the rising Avery Bradley (three steals and three blocks in game two) matchup up well defensively with Lebron, Bosh and Wade.  There are a lot of contracts up after these playoffs and you never know what Danny Ainge is going to put together.  This Celtics team has played 73 playoff games since assembling the ‘big 3’ in 2007 and they don’t look contented with just one ring in that time.  The young kids are on notice; Kobe is coming for the Western Conference Title and Paul Pierce is still The Truth.