- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 23, 2006

CLEVELAND.

Hopefully, in the future, medical science will make the necessary breakthroughs that will allow the swooning men around LeBron James to have his children.

Let the nauseating, repulsive deification of James ascend to even more torturous levels after he fashioned a triple-double in his first playoff game in leading the Cavaliers to a 97-86 victory over the Wizards yesterday.

The giggly, easily awed males interpreting the every breath of James will have three days between playoff games to dissect and discuss in numbing detail every move the chosen one made on a sunny but sulfuric day in this gritty city.

Look. Did you see that? James just took several flawless steps from the bench to the scorer’s table. My, how does he do that? It is poetry in motion, and to think the Wizards have a working poet on their team.

It should be noted that James finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists against a team that acted as if it were playing the Hawks on the second night of back-to-back games.

The Wizards might as well have saved themselves the time, energy and expense and phoned this one in from Tony Cheng’s neighborhood. That would have been preferable to playing patsies to James and his three buddies in striped shirts.

The outcome was not about James, really, although the panting gushers in his midst will be certain to portray it that way. You figure it takes two teams to deliver a masterpiece. The problem is there was only one team on the floor.

The outcome was mostly facilitated by the indifference of the Wizards. Not once did they knock James on his behind. Not once did they deliver a playoff-quality blow to his body.

Of course, if one of the Wizards had done that, the three referees would have charged the culprit with assault and battery and awarded James as many free throw attempts as the rule book allows. And, no doubt, the three referees would have felt compelled to send James a get-well card, flowers and a box of chocolates.

This is not to suggest that this fawning, twisted attitude is the fault of James.

He plays basketball. That is all. He is not even Bono trying to save the world in those silly, wraparound sunglasses. James probably never imagined how the mere act of dribbling or dunking a ball would send so many gut-packing, middle-aged men into a frenzy, as if they were high school teens again chasing the cheerleaders.

Everything about the Wizards was wrong, and they were the ones, not the Cavaliers, with the playoff experience from last season.

The Wizards started to sag after the Cavaliers forged a 12-0 run near the end of the first quarter. Donyell Marshall hit a 3-pointer that pushed the lead of the Cavaliers to 30-18 with 32 seconds left in the first quarter, and that was the game.

NBA games, playoff or otherwise, are rarely decided in the first quarter. But this one was over before the players were able to mount a serious sweat.

Gilbert Arenas appeared to play much of the game in a fog, which no doubt explained coach Eddie Jordan’s decision to sit the two-time All-Star for an extended period in the third quarter.

“You’ll have to ask him,” Jordan said of the dazed befuddlement plastered on the face of Arenas at times.

No, Arenas insisted, he was not in a fog.

“I was just trying to get Caron [Butler] and Antawn [Jamison] going early,” he said. “If that is not working and I am not attacking the basket, it can look pretty bad, and I think Coach was thinking that in the third quarter.”

Jordan was thinking lots of things after the game, none of it positive about his team.

He checked off his team’s transgressions: lack of focus, composure, discipline and execution.

It was a hard afternoon to stomach for a coach who expected his team to be in a playoff state of mind.

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