CLEVELAND - Sometimes I truly wonder if we take the greatness of LeBron James for granted.
I'm not talking about the fans of Cleveland per se, but those of us who watch the NBA and have some perspective on history.
Wednesday night, LeBron passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for 2nd place on the league's all-time scoring list for the postseason as the Cavaliers destroyed the Raptors, 125-103. James is less than 200 points behind Michael Jordan for the top spot, so presumably he'll get that mark sometime during the Eastern Conference Finals as long as the Cavs keep winning.
Fox Sports NBA analyst Chris Broussard posted a very interesting pair of tweets after the game.
LeBron is 1st & only player in NBA history to be best in the world in his 14th season. Doubt me? Check the ledger.— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) May 4, 2017
Jordan's last title was his 13th season then he retired. Kobe won last ring in 14th season but wasn't the best individual player in the NBA— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) May 4, 2017
Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook or Houston's James Harden will more than likely be named the NBA's Most Valuable Player next month. That's fine. They've each had splendid seasons, putting up insane numbers.
But let's be honest, shall we? LeBron James is the best player in the league.
Look what he's doing so far in the playoffs per Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype:
LeBron James is averaging 34.2 points, 9.2 boards, 7.3 assists, 2.7 steals, 1.8 blocks. He's shooting 56.6% on FGs, 48.4% on 3s. CLE is 6-0.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) May 4, 2017
When asked about passing Kareem to move behind Jordan on the NBA's career playoff scoring list, LeBron was introspective. "I'm just blessed. I'm taking advantage of the opportunity that I've been given. Even at 32, having been in the league for 14 years, I don't take the opportunity for granted."
James was superb in Game 2, scoring 39 points in leading the Cavs to the blowout victory over the Raptors. The Wine and Gold lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinals 2-0. Game 3 will be Friday in Toronto.
Keep in mind, the Cavs found themselves in a similar situation last year in the Eastern Conference Finals against Toronto. They led the series 2-0, then found themselves in a dogfight that would last six games. Can James and his team avoid a similar fate? "Only time will tell. I’m not a psychic," he deadpanned, sounding like Bill Belichick. "All I know is I can prepare my guys, I can prepare myself. The coaching staff will prepare us, then it’s up to us to go do it."
If the Cavs 'do it,' it will likely be because of their defense. Head Coach Tyronn Lue has been using J.R. Smith to guard the opponent's best wing player, an assignment usually given to James. The move has freed LeBron to be like a free safety in football, allowing him to roam the paint and the perimeter. He's played the passing lanes beautifully so far, and also has been helping in rim protection.
When asked about Lue freeing up LeBron on defense, LeBron smiled and said, " I can do both. I love Ty, but I can do both.”
But James was also very complimentary of J.R. Smith's work on DeMar DeRozan, "J.R.’s been given the assignment and the challenge from Coach Lue to deal with Paul George and Demar DeRozen and he’s taken it. He’s made himself into a two-way player. He’s back in the form where he left off last season."
That is great news for Cavs fans.
Let's leave you with the LeBron highlight of the game. Kyrie Irving again made a brilliant pass to set up The King for a thunderous slam:
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