Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Media Potshots at LeBron

This morning's Plain Dealer has an article by Burt Graeff that discusses the recent media criticism of LeBron James. The buzz is that LeBron's game is flawed because he can't take control of close games in crunch time and make the clutch shots needed to win. Graeff points out that this accusation is based on one missed three-point attempt on the current road trip, together with three other missed opportunities during his previous two seasons with the Cavs. That's a total of four game winning shots that he's missed in his career. LeBron's decision to pass to Eric Snow instead of taking a shot himself during the Cavs' recent loss to Portland also factors into the mix, but that's still not much to go by.

I think this negative buzz is largely the product of sportswriters staring at blank sheets of paper or talking heads staring at cameras and trying to come up with something interesting to say. Lord knows, a writer or broadcaster who is looking to trash the Cavs is never short of material, but this stuff about James is just dumb. I think you can legitimately criticize LeBron's often indifferent defense, but at this point, who knows if he's going to be Mr. Clutch or not? As the numbers make clear, it's not like the kid's had anything close to a legitimate chance to show his stuff in pressure situations during his NBA career. He's been too busy watching his teammates fold down the stretch or gazing in horror at the last few acts of former GM Jim Paxson's eight-year long Ted Stepien impersonation.

I'm blogging this afternoon from New York, where I just finished a meeting and checked into my hotel. Since I've got to be here overnight, I've managed to get some tickets to tonight's Louisville vs. St. John's game at Madison Square Garden, so look for me on ESPN2 at 9:00 p.m. It should be easy to find me -- I'll be the fat, bald, white guy in a button down shirt sitting in a crappy seat that he paid too much for.

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