Tuesday, October 11, 2005

30 Reasons to Get Fired Up For the 2005-06 NBA Season - #1

#1 - LeBron James

A couple weeks ago, I had the extraordinary opportunity of hearing Hubie Brown speak at a lecture. I'm sure it goes without saying, but Hubie's passion for the game of basketball comes off so genuinely that it sticks to you like saran wrap. I found myself clinging to his every word and really believing everything he was saying about the NBA. How could I not? I'm barely 24 years old, not even two years removed from college, and still a kindergartner next to many writers and analysts in terms of truly understanding the NBA. And here I was, listening to Hubie #$%@! Brown! Forget the NBA, who knows the game of basketball better than this guy?! He's been coaching the game since before most current NBA coaches were born and he's been a television analyst for almost 20 years-- he's probably the only person qualified enough to give clinics on coaching and broadcasting (he actually does both). Anyways, Hubie is just going off on everything. He's talking about how the Sonics could have legitimately taken down the Spurs last season had Rashard Lewis and Danny Fortson not been hurt, how Tim Duncan is the archetype of sports psychology, and how important it is to win on the road in the NBA. Lastly, he brings up LeBron James. He talks about LeBron's remarkable 27-7-7 last season, saying Jordan accomplished it only one time; Bird also just once; Oscar Robertson pulled it off 6 times and John Havilcek twice, but no other player has ever done this. Hubie then says in so many words, "Do you know how old LeBron James is? That's right, he's 20 years old. I have never in my lifetime seen a player as close to as good as LeBron James is at the age of 20." Were you paying attention before? Hubie Brown has been around a LONG time. And he's never in his life seen a player as close to as good as LeBron James is at 20. Unbelievable.

Seriously though, would you be even remotely surprised if 'Bron were to average a 30-9-8 this season? I wouldn't. In fact, that's what I'm pegging him for. Would you be surprised if he put up a 30-12-11? Okay, maybe that's pushing the envelope a bit, but it's definitely not beyond the realm of possibility. Not for a guy that has exceeded every seemingly absurd expectation bestowed upon him thus far. Some people think the load will be a bit lighter for LeBron this season with the additions of Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall, and Damon Jones, but that's not the case. The Cavaliers are still his team and they're only going as far as he takes them. And that's really the ultimate goal facing LeBron this season-- not whether he'll continue to mount remarkable personal achievments, but whether he can guide this team into the Playoffs and beyond.

So how good can the Cavaliers be? From a talent standpoint, they're probably a shade behind the big three (Detroit, Indiana, and Miami) in the East-- right now. They bring back every key player from last year's squad including Luke Jackson who missed almost the entire season due to injury. And of course they welcome in the three above-mentioned free agent signees, each of whom comes in with quality experience and addresses a pressing weakness from last year's team. Cleveland will also introduce new head coach Mike Brown to the world, and you better get to know him fast because the Carlisle/Popovich descendent promises to be around for awhile. But in reality, everything depends on LeBron. Is there any way to possibly anticipate how much better he'll be this season? If LeBron does jump to those 30-9-8 numbers like I expect, how can this not be a 50 win team? I'm not ruling out anything. Not 50 wins, not a Central Division title, not an Eastern Conference Title, not even an NBA title. Perhaps I'm getting a little ahead of myself, but when Hubie Brown says LeBron is by far the best he's ever seen at age 20, at least I know I'm not crazy.

There's a lot of buzz surrounding this upcoming NBA season, and in the eyes of Anthony and myself, it begins and ends with LeBron James. While you could argue that there are better reasons to get all riled up for the season, we both agree that LeBron is the most enthralling, and certainly the most likely to exceed all hype. Not since Michael Jordan has their been a single player who's been able to capture the attention and imagination of so many people. And the best part is? Like MJ, he's just so damn likeable. How can you not root for this guy? You can't. There's plenty of reasons to cheer for LeBron. A couple weeks ago I actually bought a pack of his Bubbalicious gum simply because it was "LeBron's Lightning Lemonade". My girlfriend explained to me last night why LeBron is her 2nd favorite athlete (after Tom Brady obviously)-- because he's "breathtakingly beautiful". Hell, even my freaking Mother digs him because "he carries himself well for such a young man and has a lot of charisma". People are going to watch LeBron very closely this year not just because the Cavs are on TV 30+ times, but also because people genuinely care about this kid. I know I care most about LeBron because I like to believe I'm watching history every time he steps foot on the floor. And to me, that makes him a cinch as the #1 reason to get fired up for the 2005-06 NBA season.

Hope you guys enjoyed this running series, but don't go anywhere because The NBA Source has barely started getting you ready for the season.


At 11:25 AM, Blogger asdf said...

thanks for putting in all the effort for this. i was hear for all 30 articles. regarding lebron, i can see i'm averaging the stats you mentioned, and maybe a central title, but beyond that is pushing it. i guess we'll see though.

At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Peter said...

I read all 30 as well. Great Blog.

Lebrons numbers will perhaps increase sligthly, no more. Even that is fantastic in itself.

regarding the "he is only 20" argument, which is used to project his midtwenties as magic,oscar,jordan all rolled into one is just flawed logic. People develop earlier these days. He was a grown man by 18. He should keep this weigth for the rest of his career, therefore you can't argue that once he gets strong enough he will post better numbers, which is the case for many rookies. His physical skills are perfect as they are now, and further improvement will come as a product of understanding and experience. If he has that will to learn new things, he will be the best of the best as a pure basketballplayer. only the amount of rings he can gather will decide where he will rank among the all time greats.

At 12:37 PM, Blogger The Cavalier said...

I think his scoring will come down a bit (more options), but as someone who watched every Cavs game for the past 17 years, I can say two things:

1) He will own Cleveland before this is over. We've never had an athlete or a personality like this. Plus he's a hometown kid. It all seems too good to be true for this tortured sports city.

2) He would have put up 10 assists per last year if he had had any outside shooters around him.

The fact that we even consider averaging a triple-double tells you how amazing he is. Plus he's an off-the-court wonder. If they start going deep into the playoffs this year, it'll be hard to put into words just what this guy is.

At 12:57 PM, Blogger Erik said...

James is an incredibly gifted offensive player - and I think your guesstimates for his stats are pretty good. However, unless he finds a way to use his immense physical gifts to play even a lick of D (his trying to poach the passing lanes just gives up an easy shot, more often than not), I won't even consider him close to a "best ever" player. It's relatively easy to be the best on half the court.

At 7:17 PM, Blogger Shepard said...

Good guys finish last.

Maybe not last, but not (far) in the playoffs..

Come on, you think that the fat Z, or the inconsistent Gooden, or Jones and Marshall and Hughes can help LeBron?

He'll put up good numbers, but he must start WINNING!

MJ was a winner. This guy is a wonder, but he can not maintain the control of the game.

At 12:57 AM, Anonymous sam guarino said...

mj didn't make it out of the first round of the playoffs until he was 24, the year that pippen got on the team.


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