- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 26, 2006

CLEVELAND. — The Wizards ignored the legend of LeBron James and defeated the Cavaliers 89-84 in Game 2 last night.

James let his inner wimp show after both Jared Jeffries and Brendan Haywood delivered hard fouls in the first quarter.

Each time James walked around the court as if he had been assaulted with a bat in a dark alley.

Each time the addle-brained crowd booed as if a crime against humanity had been committed.

And each time James’ teammates walked toward the evil perpetrator and let the person know that this kind of wickedness would not be tolerated in this hardscrabble city.

Apparently, no one has let James and the Cavaliers know that these are the playoffs and hard fouls are permitted. In fact, hard fouls are encouraged.

After Anderson Varejao delivered a karate chop to Gilbert Arenas, the two-time All-Star guard did not even acknowledge it. He did not even look in the direction of the player known as the “Wild Thing” because of his crazy-looking hairdo. Why give the mop-topped one the satisfaction? His kind is sometimes hair today, gone tomorrow.

Unlike Arenas, James succumbed to his bad-man pose after each foul.

The poor thing walked around in a snit, making all sorts of ugly faces. He looked as if he was ready to burst into tears out of frustration. He wanted justice served. He wanted the mug shots of the criminals to be hung in the nearest post office.

It was as if James was saying, “How could they do this to me? Don’t they know that I am the Messiah and that I discovered fire and then invented the wheel?”

The Wizards saw something important in those moments.

They saw a player who does not like to take a hit if he is not initiating it. They saw a player miss his next four shot attempts and commit two turnovers. They saw a player basically disappear in the second quarter.

All the true believers in the stands undoubtedly had a hard time accepting this. Their team has not been in the playoffs in eight years and they probably have forgotten what grind-it-out basketball is like in the playoffs.

And this was a grind-it-out affair.

Nothing came easy, not even a dunk attempt by James in the third quarter.

Legends are not born easily if the 21-year-old legend misses a dunk with no one around him.

But given the way James is perceived in these parts, it was the best missed dunk in the history of basketball, going back to the peach basket.

Missed dunks do not get any better than the principal trying to be creative in the open court, only to wind up jamming the ball against the rim.

And the legend grew even greater after Arenas dunked on the head of James a few minutes later.

James was stunned anew after he incurred his fourth foul after barreling into Jeffries with 2:17 left in the third quarter.

To see James jumping up and down after the whistle, frantically trying to explain the situation to a referee, he did not mean to be out of control, barely able to keep his balance before running into Jeffries.

The referee should have noted the good intentions of James and let him be on his way, not unlike the way police officers do if someone is driving 60 mph in a residential neighborhood.

This was not the legend’s night. James took a number of bad shots. He missed a number of easy shots. He made too many poor decisions.

His worst decision was to try to save a ball from going out of bounds with 1:34 left.

Both James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas reached the ball at the same time, only to blindly throw it to Arenas, who converted a three-point play to give the Wizards an eight-point lead.

It is hard to be a legend in two playoff games.



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