Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

We are all witnesses

Nineteen points, seven assists and five rebounds.

There was only one NBA player who had that line in their opening playoff game this weekend. And LeBron James put up those numbers in just the first half. That’s right no one else had at least 19 points, seven assists and five rebounds for the entire game. Let alone, a game total of 32 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds for the King.

One win does not make a playoff series. However, James made a loud statement of all the critics on Saturday.
Despite putting up numbers that in the history of the NBA only Oscar Robertson, Jerry West and Michael Jordan have done, many analysts are saying the MVP belongs to someone else and that Washington has the edge to win this series.

Apparently not everyone has been a witness up to this point. That could change by the end of these playoffs. At media day, way back in October, Damon Jones told me and the other reporters present that the trouble with America was that not everyone has cable. And maybe that is why James won't win the MVP award. But on national TV this week, he showed to the rest of the country what those of us who watch him on a daily basis already knew — the kid is pretty good at basketball.

Even the sports fans I know seem to buy this Kobe Bryant is the best basketball player argument. They will even point out that LeBron agrees. Which of course he does publicly. Bryant, right now, is the best scorer in basketball. But can anyone really believe that if scoring titles is what LeBron wanted, he would have had it? Kobe made 103 more shots than LeBron this year, but he took 350 more.

I hear that the Lakers would be in the lottery without Bryant, well does anyone believe that the Cavaliers would be in the playoffs without James? And if the Cavaliers supporting cast is better than the Lakers, ask yourself these questions: Why did Z re-sign and Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones sign with the Cavs? And why is Shaq now playing in Miami? Bryant may carry the Lakers on his back, but James is putting his teammates on his shoulders. In other words, Bryant may will the Lakers to some wins but James is making his teammates better.

Now comes the cry that Steve Nash makes his teammates even better and the Suns are the second seed in the West without Amare Stoudemire. Well, Nash still had Shawn Marion. And it is only because of the NBA's strange playoff formula that both Phoenix and the Cavaliers aren't third seeds which is what having the third best record in your conference should get you.

You can talk about Nash's numbers being better than his MVP year of last year, but Nash also leads the association in turnovers and he can't take over a game like James.

Dirk Nowitzki and Chauncey Billups are great players as well. But MVP means Most Valuable Player. Take any of the other four mentioned candidates for MVP and put them on the Cavs. Does the team win 50 games? That would be a no in every single case.

Now put LeBron on those other teams. He would have averaged close to 40 points a game in Los Angeles if he wanted and he would have made the rest of those players better if he played the same style he does here. Phoenix or Dallas would be the favorite to win the title with James and Detroit would have broken Chicago's record for wins in a season.

Part of me won't be that sad when the writers job LeBron out of the MVP title this year. Because it will drive him to win it next year and the year after that.

Right now at age 21, he is the best basketball player on the planet.

And while I hate being a corporate shill, I am indeed a witness.