Anyone Remember This LeBron James Character?
- Updated: May 6, 2008
First things first. I can find no fault in anyone selecting Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul or LeBron James as NBA MVP. Apparently, the Lakers star will have the award bestowed upon him later today (nothing like suspense, eh?).
Many in the basketball know unequivocally tag Kobe as the best player in the NBA. He may very well be. You also can’t question those who are putting their support behind Chris Paul.
The MVP thing is a bit of “who’s hot today.” There’s also the age-old question of the true meaning of that mysterious word “valuable.” It’s been debated since the days of the Roman gladiators and continues to divide civilizations (and sports fans) to this day.
All that said, here’s our only issue. LeBron James seems to have disappeared from the discussion of late. Completely. While there are probably countless reasons, part of it is that he is so good, so soon, that expectations of his play are fairly out-of-whack. Accordingly, there has been a bit of sentiment that LeBron has not been at the very top of his game. Fair enough. Let’s assume that’s true. It really shouldn’t matter…in a way.
Here’s what I mean, and the real crux of my beef with LeBron’s fading out of the race (although we’ll see how far he faded, or if, later today). I take the traditional view of valuable in the sense of “how would this team be without this player’s contributions.” As I mentioned back in early February, the Cavs are borderline awful without LeBron. Now, that particular post was written at a time when Eric Snow, Donyell Marshall and Ira Newble were getting mad run. Granted, things have changed slightly.
But, still, who’s LeBron’s running mate? Wally Szczerbiak? Ilgauskas? Boobie Gibson? Please, people. CP3 has fellow All-Star David West by his side with New Orleans. West poured in 30 points and grabbed nine boards in game one against the defending champs. Kobe has Gasol, Fisher, Odom, and a significantly more talented supporting cast right down the line (than does LeBron).
Take away Paul, James or Bryant from any of their respective teams and the results would be frightening. That’s a given. However, without James, the team in Cleveland is startlingly poor. He carries that team. He carries that franchise. In many ways, he carries that city. It doesn’t mean he should definitely be the MVP, but he still certainly deserves to be in the conversation. That’s alls we’re sayin…