The king and his throne: A chat with a die-hard LeBron fan
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) drives against Indiana Pacers' Paul George (13) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
The Cleveland Cavaliers came up with a sweep of the Indiana Pacers, advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals, earlier this week.
Along the way, LeBron James made a little history.
According to the Associated Press, James became the first player under the current seven-game format to win 21 straight first-round games. In addition, he also set an NBA record with a 10th career Playoffs sweep. Simply put, he’s a postseason perennial, and has never lost in round one.
With an eye towards the rest of the postseason, I decided to talk with my friend, entrepreneur Alvin Morelos, a die-hard LeBron James fan since day one, about the King’s path to glory:
Migs Bustos: The Cavs were number one in the East for most of the regular season, but why do you think they had a slump towards the end of eliminations and slid to the second seed?
Alvin Morelos: The Cavs’ struggles in the second half of the season could be attributed to several factors: injuries to several key players, acquisition of new players, and the championship hangover they still have from last year. Kevin Love, JR Smith, Kyrie Irving and Kyle Korver were among the key players who were injured in the regular season, which affected the good start the Cavs had. The introduction of new players like Korver, Deron and Derrick Williams meant new lineups and different rotations for Coach Ty Lue, which affected the scheme of things on how they run the offensive/defensive end. And the new acquisitions are not known to be defensive specialists. The Cavs’ championship hangover has greatly affected the whole team, evidenced by a handful of regular season games wherein they always get the best from their opponents, and the Cavs giving subpar performances on the road as seen from their 26-26 finish in their last 52 games.
MB: Is having a legit, true, traditional big man hurting their cause?
AM: Having Tristan Thompson in the starting lineup and playing the true center position always have its ups and downs. But as the game evolves and the traditional big man is fast becoming extinct, I believe TT can play about 20-25 minutes and the Cavs can finish games with the more explosive small-ball lineup, featuring James at the four-spot and Love at center.
MB: Do you see any signs of LeBron slowing down?
AM: LeBron James’ excellence over a span of 14 years now has been one of a kind. I think most basketball observers would agree that LeBron is the most athletic player ever, with that combination of speed, size and strength. The true season for LeBron is probably when the postseason starts, and I agree with Coach Lue in sitting LeBron in some of the regular season games to keep him fresh for the Playoffs. LeBron has a good three-five years ahead of him given his athletic abilities and skillset, but of course he needs to have that reliable jum pshot as he winds his career down.
MB: What do you think The King has to do to cement his chances of getting another ring?
AM: For The King to come out on top and get his second back-to-back title, he would need to lead his team again both on the offensive and defensive end. He needs to set the tone and be the aggressor, not just in scoring, but in putting his teammates in great scoring positions. In my humble predictions, I see LeBron having a statline of 28 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists, as his game picks up during this critical point of the season.
MB: Which team do you think will be the toughest matchup for the Cavs in the East?
AM: Outside of the Celtics, the toughest opponent for the Cavs this year in the East are the Washington Wizards. They have a complete team with John Wall leading the charge, which will keep Kyrie Irving in check. They have shooters in Bradley Beal, Markieff morris and Bojan Bogdanovic who can match the Cavs’ firepower outside. They also have great defenders in Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre jr. who have length that could bother LeBron and make it hard for him at times. The Wizards also have respectable bigs in Marcin Gortat and Jason Smith to get those rebounds and match TT and Kevin Love. Both the Cavs and Wizards also like to run-and-gun, which figures to be an exciting matchup to watch.
MB: If LeBron gets a ring again, where would he rank among the all-time greats like Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Tim Duncan?
AM: As a 90's kid and ultimate Jordan fan, I always thought that MJ would always be the G.O.A.T. He is still ranked #1 on my list, but due to the sustained greatness The King has shown throughout his career, I won't be surprised if LeBron would be ranked #1 when it’s all said and done. I agree that championships are important, but the number of rings a certain player has, doesn't accurately quantify his greatness (ex. Robert Horry > Karl Malone). Getting a ring this year would definitely boost his resume (and I’m rooting for it) towards chasing the ghost of MJ, but if we're talking Greatest Of All Time, I would put LBJ in the second or third spot. He is on track to shatter the record of Kareem Abdul Jabaar for most points scored, and to think that LeBron is not known as a scorer, something that speaks volumes about his game.
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