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Fries and Ketchup: LeBron James Hits Game Winner to Tie Series

May 23, 2009

I'm not the only one who saw it.  I think we were all witnesses to it.  I asked in my last post whether it was possible for history to be changed.  I aimed the question at the Western Conference Finals because the almighty Lakers are playing a franchise, in the Denver Nuggets, that is in the conference finals for only the second time ever, and while that series is tied 1-1, it is no where near answering my question with a yes or a no.  Sometimes we look in the wrong place for answers.  

Last night, Game 2 of the Cleveland-Orlando series answered my question with an emphatic yes, and I know I'm not the only one who saw it.  While I slept on what I saw, Chris Broussard and several other internet bloggers and posters wrote up their thoughts on what they saw last night; and what we saw last night was one basketball player, "The Chosen One," earn redemption for an entire city.  

Chris Broussard points out in his article that it was just twenty years ago that Michael Jordan hit "The Shot" to knock the Cleveland Cavaliers out of the 2009 playoffs, giving us one of Jordan's most iconic fist pumps and making Craig Ehlo the prototype for every NBA player that just wasn't good enough to beat Jordan, but there was much more to LeBron's shot last night than the fact that it won a game for Cleveland in the last second.  It was the context of the shot that mattered most.

Hedo Turkoglu made what looked like the game-winning shot against the Cavaliers.  Hedo Turkoglu made what looked like the shot that would bury Cleveland in a 2-0 hole.  Hedo Turkoglu made what looked like the shot that would erase Cleveland's home court advantage in the series.  Hedo Turkoglu made a shot that was the mirror image of Jordan's shot over Ehlo.  See, lost in all these references to 1989 is the fact that LeBron's shot was not the shot that most closely resembled Jordan's--Turkoglu's was.

Turkoglu hit a floating jumpshot from the foul line over Sasha Pavlovic.  The only difference between his shot and Jordan's is that he left one second on the clock.  Imagine if Jordan had left Ehlo one second on the clock because that's exactly what happened last night, making LeBron's shot feel more and more like it meant something greater, that maybe he's not playing against today's players, that when it's all said and done LeBron's greatest competition may be Michael Jordan, much in the same way that Tiger Woods' greatest competition is Jack Nicklaus.  Some people are not measured against their peers but against time, and the fact that LeBron even had one second last night shows that maybe time is on his side.  After all, he's only twenty-four.  

Ketchup on the side:

*One of the highlights in the playoffs has definitely been the music played over the loudspeakers at the Q, Cleveland's home arena.  When they need a miracle, they play the theme from Star Wars, and when they hit a big three, they play the sinister violin theme from The Godfather.  Hearing these two songs makes me think one of two things, either LeBron James is Luke Skywalker or Michael Corleone.  

If he's Luke Skywalker, then I feel like that makes Kobe Bryant Han Solo, a gunner and a smuggler, whose falling out with Shaq would make Shaq Jabba the Hut.  I would go with this for humor, except it makes more sense if LeBron was Luke and Kobe was Annakin.  We thought he was the Chosen One, but he really turned out to be Darth Vader, which would make Shaq the Emperor, Tim Duncan would be Obi Won Kenobi, and Michael Jordan would be Quai Gon Jin or Yoda.  

Using The Godfather, Michael Jordan would be Don Corleone, Kobe would be Sonny, LeBron would be Michael Corleone, and Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard are auditioning for the roles of Fredo and Tom Hagen.  Kobe looked to be the heir to the throne, but then Michael turned out to be the better study of human behaviors.  Last night, with one second on the clock, we saw Lebron come out of the bathroom blasting, and consequently, Hedo Turkoglu is a dead cop now; and if the Nuggets some how knock off Kobe's Lakers in a drive-by, then Carmelo and Chauncey have to be Barzini and Sollozzo, which seems to be a perfect fit for them.


Look at the right side of the screen when Duncan makes what looked to be the game-winning shot against the Lakers in the second round of 2004's NBA Playoffs.  Yeah, it's Hedo Turkoglu doing the same celebration he did last night, only in 2004 he celebrated with 0.4 second left.  I wonder if at any point last night he thought one second is over twice as long as 0.4 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be celebrating quite yet.  Also, people never give that shot enough credit in terms of how much it shaped the last half decade of NBA basketball.  The Spurs were about to go up 3-2 in that series, after having been up 2-0, and they probably would have won the championship that year if they had, which means they would have gone back to back, which means if they'd won in 2005 like they did, then they would have had a 3-peat.  

I hate Derek Fisher.   

*Speaking of Derek Fisher, he and Jordan Farmar are a huge reason the Nuggets have a chance against the Lakers.  Fisher is too old, and Farmar is too young.  I also think people have completely underestimated Denver's frontline.  Before Kenyon Martin's knee injuries, a lot of people around the league would have taken him over Pau Gasol, not to mention that Pau Gasol didn't become a great player until he played with Kobe.  Before that, he was the punch line of the Memphis Grizzlies playoff failures.  Kenyon has also been to two NBA Finals, which means that along with Chauncey Billups this Denver team does have more playoff experience than people are giving them credit.  Nene is also equal to Andrew Bynum at this stage in their careers.  Bynum has the potential to be a great player, but he's not there yet; and if he wore any other uniform in the League, no one would know who he is.  The Nuggets also have a guy like Dahntay Jones, who may be a more athletic Bruce Bowen.  He can make a guy like Kobe have to work, and when he shoots, it's for a high percentage.  It's just that the Bruce Bowen's of the world don't get any credit until their team wins a championship.

*The way the Lakers want to play helps the Nuggets.  Both teams score a lot of points and will go up and down the court, but the Nuggets, in my opinion, do it with a bit more attitude and toughness.  The Rockets played a completely different style than the Lakers play, but the Nuggets play the same style as the Lakers, only with a mean streak.  I can think of three guys on the Lakers that I don't see as finesse players: Kobe, Ariza, and Derek Fisher, and one of them is too old.  

*Cleveland's coach Mike Brown was an assistant under Popovich, and Danny Ferry also played for Coach Popovich, the best in-series coach in the NBA today, so why hasn't Mike Brown shown an ability to learn from his mentor.  Pop's teams always choose what they are going to take away from an opponent's offense and commit to doing that.  Against the Suns, the Spurs always made a conscious choice to take 3's from the supporting cast and fast break points away from the Suns.  The Spurs were always content to let Amare go for 30 and for Nash to go for 25, as long as he didn't have double digit assists also.  This strategy worked because the Spurs kept Barbosa, Joe Johnson, Quentin Richardson, Grant Hill, Boris Diaw, and everyone else from going off.  

The Cavs need to decide do they want to stop Dwight Howard, the penetration by the Magic's perimeter players, or the three's.  The Cavs have no one to stop Howard, so they need to choose whether or not they're going to stop the penetration or the 3's.  

The Magic shot 45% from behind the arc in Game 1, and they shot 43.5% in Game 2.  Brown needs to decide if these shots are the result of dribble-drives or just good shot-making.  If they're the result of dribble-drives, then Brown's got to have his players play off of the guy who has the ball and not let him into the lane, and when a guy does drive, the Cavs need to by all means not leave their man open behind the arc.  

Regardless of what the Cavs decide to do, LeBron has to take either Rashard Lewis or Turkoglu and shut him down, which could cause problems because LeBron is already showing signs of physical fatigue in this series--he cramped up in Game 1.

*I think it's quite possible that the Nuggets win the next two games against the Lakers to go up 3-1.  (In hindsight, I may be an idiot.)

*Does anyone else find it strange that Patrick Ewing is on the bench for the Magic trying to help Dwight Howard do what he never did as a player, which is beat his generation's "best player?"  Ewing never beat Jordan, even when he promised to win titles, and here Dwight Howard is, the best big man of his generation, fighting the same battle.  Will it turn out differenlty, or is he another Patrick Ewing or David Robinson before he met Duncan?  Personally, after watching these first two games, I think Dwight Howard is a much bigger threat to LeBron James than Ewing ever was to Jordan's Bulls.

*J.R. Smith is the new Stephen Jackson, which means he doesn't really fit in with any of history's other J.R.'s: J. R. R. Tolkien, J. R. (from Dallas), and J. R. Rowling.  Yes, J. K. Rowling changed her middle initial to R. in an effort to be more like the author from whom she borrows plot lines.

*And lastly, can we officially retire the use of the term "Big Shot" as a headline and a nickname?  First, we had Big Shot Rob, or Big Shot Bob, in reference to Robert Horry.  Then we had Mr. Big Shot, in reference to Chauncey Billups.  In the second round, many journalists dubbed Big Baby Davis, of the Celtics, Big Shot Baby Davis.  Couldn't we have just promoted him to Little Man?  And then, last night some reporters referenced LeBron as King Big Shot.  Seriously, it needs to stop.  If the Associated Press and all the ESPN analysts were on How I Met Your Mother, then Marshall, Barney, Ted, and Lilly would be hoisting the intervention banner right now to stop the use of the words "Big Shot."  Writers everywhere, we're better than this.


Langston said...

Speaking of music played, I hate how they use the same songs every single time the Lakers play on ABC/ESPN. I just wish ESPN would let them play "I Love L.A." or "Hotel California" over the loud speaker, I don't need to hear either song 40 times through one broadcast.

May 25, 2009 at 1:31 PM

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