- The Washington Times - Friday, April 28, 2006

The Wizards cannot ease up on LeBron James and the Cavaliers in Game 3 on Fun Street tonight.

The Wizards must continue to treat James like the 21-year-old playoff beginner that he is. They must foul him again and again until he returns to safer distances from the rim, as he did in Game 2.

James pretends to be a bad man, but he is only a bad man if he is having his way around the basket. Jared Jeffries fouled James with conviction and made him eat a shot. Brendan Haywood was equally firm in his foul on James.

Now, of course, James has had three days to hear how he backed away after the two hard fouls. He has had three days to process the criticism and come to terms with the news that he is involved in a genuine playoff series.

So you can expect James to renew his sense of purpose around the basket, and the Wizards are going to have to accept the assignment again.

They are going to have to put this man down again; put him down with extreme prejudice; put him down with fire in their eyes and callousness in their hearts. They are going to have to let him know that it is not his time, not now, not in this series, not in Tony Cheng’s neighborhood.

The Wizards also would be wise to recall how it was after Game1, when James fashioned a triple-double and much of the NBA nation decided the series was done.

The Cavaliers were destined to sweep the Wizards at that point. You could have thought the Wizards would not return to Cleveland to play Game 2.

But the Wizards showed up ready to scrap, as you suspected they would. They claimed homecourt advantage in the series, and they exposed the coronation of James as premature.

This series is all theirs now if they continue to beat on James. And Haywood is correct. You cannot merely slap James on the wrist. He is too strong for that. You have to hit him as if you are a linebacker. You have to knock him around until he capitulates and you are inside his head.

That was an odd sight late in Game 2. There was James with the ball, the Cavaliers down three points, and there he was dumping the ball to Anderson Varejao in the 3-second lane.

Now you could make several observations about Varejao, all of it related to his follicles, because he is defined by them. You could wonder if his hair stylist wears a Hazmat suit around him. You also could wonder if both the hair stylist and Varejao believe he is one happening dude after his grooming is completed.

But the one thing you have not observed in Varejao is the ability to be a go-to player with the seconds ticking down and his team in need of three points instead of two. But who knows? Maybe James thought Varejao would rub the ball against his magical hair before completing a three-point play.

That is where James’ head was near the end of Game 2.

He passed the ball to the guy with all the hair, and Gilbert Arenas stripped the ball away before the guy with all the hair tripped over his locks and fouled Antawn Jamison.

James probably will not make that mistake again.

Maybe next time he will pass the ball to Eric Snow, who has a lot of peacock in him for someone who averaged 4.8 points a game this season.

No matter what James does at the end of a game, good or bad, Danny Ferry, Mike Brown, the mayor of Cleveland and the governor of Ohio are obligated to say that he is a beautiful human being, the male equivalent of Mother Teresa.

And they are right. His 10 turnovers in Game 2 did look beautiful to Washington.

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