October 13, 2008

Crammed-On Chronicles VI: LeBron James ON Tim Duncan (Don't Just Cross 'em Over. Cross 'em off Your Checklist.)

November 3, 2006

Every player has a “To-Do” list going into the season.  LeBron James certainly has his. 

In his first year, he was able to cross out the line that read, “Prove yourself to all haters,” all the people who thought he’d be intimidated by the big stage, those who insisted (hoped?) that the teenager would never amount to more than a mediocre role player. 

The next year, the list included, “Lead a team that hadn’t sniffed the playoffs since you were snapping ankles in middle school.”  LeBron scratched that off the list, too, even winning a first-round battle while attracting more Witnesses than Jehovah.

This year’s list is a little tougher:

“Make your free throws.”

“Cut down on the turnovers.”

“Drag this squad into the Finals.” 

LeBron saw an opportunity to knock off another task in just his second game of the season:

“Get the Cavs a win in San An for the first time since you were drooling applesauce on your bib.”

Not even ten minutes into the game, LeBron blows by two Spurs defenders who get suckered on a pick. Curling off the Drew Gooden screen around Fabricio Oberto (which translates roughly to “slow-footed” in Argentina), King James finds himself driving to the rim with the imposing, perennial all-Defensive Team member Tim Duncan standing below, waiting to absorb a charge call.  One would think Duncan would have learned from Marcus Camby in the ’99 Finals that this was not a great place to be, and if he was going to take the contact he should at least step completely outside the “no-charge” circle.

LeBron takes just one step in the lane before rising, when he realizes he can kill two birds with one powerful stone.  One task in his Franklin Covey checklist involves that ‘applesauce’ thing.  The other was one he has certainly heard from the few critics he has left on Earth:

“Enough with the weenies like Damon Jones and Delonte West.  For once, POSTERIZE A BIG MAN!  And make it memorable!”

A split second later, as the ball ricochets off Duncan’s dome, as the stone-faced former MVP tumbles out of bounds, as Spurs fans cough up their tamales, as commentator Hubie Brown literally soils his undergarments, and as Cavs teammates go ape-sh*t on the sideline, LeBron could faintly be heard whispering to himself:



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