Stephen Curry and James Harden have, deservedly so, dominated the early MVP talk this year.
Both have led their teams to banner years. Both have shined on the biggest stages.
And yet, as many have pointed out, there is only one true superstar in the NBA stratosphere and that man's name is LeBron James.
It pains me to write these words. Even as I type them, I can envision the torrent of backlash.
But, hey, it's true.
Earlier this year, LeBron took off eight games to rehab a series of injuries. His back was ailing, his wrist had been jammed. More importantly, he needed to get his mind right. It had been a busy summer, even by his standards. After picking the hometown Cavaliers over the Miami Heat--a team that had made four straight finals appearances--LeBron faced the daunting task of molding this newly-formed Cavs team into a contender. Fans, journalists and experts were not content to let the team's maturation process happen naturally. No, this was the new SUPERTEAM, and the world demanded results overnight.
LeBron is the only supahstah in the League! Everyone else is a bunch o' jokahs! -Every single NYC sports radio talk show host yesterday
An NBA season has a unique flow to it. There are swirls in the stream, eddies along the way. Branches snagging and rocks whitewatering. The occasional dead animal rotting in a dark corner. Auntie Josephine just off the river's bank making home-brew in the old, chipped plaster bathtub. LeBron, more than any other current NBA player, understands this flow. Understands how a season should be played. Understands how to measure himself so that he is at his peak when it matters--in the playoffs. It seems that James' trust in his body, and his trust in the system, is starting to pay dividends.
LeBron absolutely destroyed the Warriors on Thursday night. It was as if he looked at the game--nationally televised on TNT against the team with the league's current best record, current MVP-leading candidate, and current adoration of a whole nation--and said, "You know what? F--k it. Time for people to fear us."
Before tip off, I was very interested to see if Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson and/or Andre Iguodala could man him up on defense. Turns out, at least this time, the answer was a resounding NO.
Some assorted (and very much abridged) notes I took during this game:
MATCH UPS VERY INTERESTING!
LeBron vs. Draymond/Barnes/Klay/Iggy/WHOEVER
Bogut vs. Mozgov
Kyrie vs Steph
This is going to be a good game. Both teams want it bad. You can tell.
Man. LeBron is strong.
Kerr wants to fight the world! TECHS FOR ALL!
Steve Kerr just got his money's worth: "You guys have sucked all night!" https://t.co/aifkd1JufT— Diamond Leung (@diamond83) February 27, 2015
Aaaaaaaand a li'l bit o' this:
10:28 in the 2nd Quarter: Klay BLOCKED LOVE'S SHOT! TRADE WHAT?!!!
Man, LeBron another three. Thirty-six points now
LeBron just really locked in. Steal --> Dunk
Barbosa three! Back in it, down nine
Warriors keeping energy up regardless of score
Draymond has four fouls. Yapping. You know what? I wish Draymond could just be mic'ed up all the time. In the game. At the bowling alley. Whatever. I'd wear an earbud in my left ear and just go about my business with him jabbering away.
LeBron too much
42 points. Over Green, left hand as shot clock expires.
Something about llamas and the color of a dress? What is happening in the world? I am lost. #GETOFFMYLAWN
Dubs couldn't generate their "A" game at either end tonight. James season high 42. Cavs made 18 more ft's! Final: Cavs 110-99— Jim Barnett (@uograd66) February 27, 2015
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Luckily, the game wasn't the last of the season. The Warriors flew to Toronto to face an ice-cold Raptors team in an ice-cold city.
The Raptors shot ONE FOR NINETEEN IN THE WHOLE FIRST QUARTER!
They set a new record for worst shooting quarter in team history, shooting 5.26% from the field. That nice shiny new record sits well next to the "Worst Mayor in History" award the city won last year.
After that, it was a matter of keeping the proverbial foot on the proverbial throat. Or, in the case of Festus Ezeli, the not-so-proverbial hand on the not-so-proverbial throat of Tyler Hansbrough, leading one erudite YouTuber to exclaim two profound words. "Oh, wow."
Here's another instance in which I wish I had the (soon-to-be-patented) "24 Hour a Day Draymond Green Ear Bud." Can you IMAGINE the type of language he used after this play??
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So what are we to make of these two games, played on back to back nights?
Are the Warriors too soft? Did the Cavaliers dominate them physically? Can the Warriors' style of play succeed in the playoffs? When the game slows down, will they be dominated by a larger team (a la Memphis)?
Or, are the Warriors scrappy enough to overcome any physical/size intimidation? Can Draymond single-handedly swing a series with his mouth? Can we scrap and gut and trash-talk our way to the finals? Was that crazy LeBron game just another crazy LeBron game and that's all?
We'll find out soon, one way or another.
My feeling is this: If the Warriors manage to make it out of the bloodbath that will be the 2015 Western Conference Playoffs, the Cavaliers will be waiting. And if that is the case, we'll see how well they truly match up.
Personally, I would enjoy a Dubs/Cavs Finals the most out of all possible combinations. The game's two most exciting players with the two most complete teams going toe to toe for seven games?? Sign me up.
But that is far, far in the future.
For now, the Warriors
have two days off to lick their wounds and prepare for the Brooklyn Nets. [[Edit: Duh. One day off, next game against the Celtics. Thanks team.]]
One game at a time.