LeBron's cramps up and the world overreacts

LeBron's cramps up and the world overreacts

It was 90 degrees, hot and humid, and the Spurs went on to win game one of the NBA Finals. When LeBron first went out, my first thought was something along the lines of (seriously) "God no!". I thought it was something serious, something that might take LeBron out for the playoffs.

It was cramps.

In the minds of many, it was "just cramps??". Just search for LeBron cramp meme, and you'll get a feeling for what I mean.

LeBron will have six more games to come back and beat the San Antonio Spurs, and if the Heat fail to do so, then the Spurs will have earned their fifth NBA title by going through the best rather than by the unfortunate turnings of fate for the Miami Heat.

Like most of the world, and I'm sure most Bulls fans, I'm avidly rooting for the Spurs to win. My two favorite teams? The Bulls and whomever is playing the Miami Heat, but I want to see LeBron lose. Not get hurt. Not have an excuse at the end of the day.

I love to root against LeBron, but let's not get crazy questioning his legacy, his toughness, or anything else because his body seized up with cramps. Do you think LeBron could have played through this at that point? I don't.

This wasn't a time for a Willis Reed moment where he could simply stand on the court and knock down a jumper to inspire people. This was a moment that would have needed LeBron at his best on the court. It wasn't going to happen.

I had thought all the LeBron hate had died down over the years, but apparently, it was brewing underneath when all this discussion comes out. The reaction, even by sportswriters, was crazy. Posts questioning his legacy, questioning everything about him. It was just so over the top.

Maybe Derrick Rose is a wuss for tearing his ACL. There were nine other guys on the court who didn't tear their ACL at that time. That seems to be the logic taken here. Hey, Ray Allen didn't get cramps, so what the hell is LeBron's problem?

You don't choose to get an injury, be it cramps or an acl tear. That's what happened to LeBron. He won't be debilitated for a year like Rose, probably just 10-30 minutes, but long enough to end any hope of a game one come back.

What LeBron's injury highlights more is how utterly reliant the Heat are on James. There's been a lot of talk about how James took the easy way out to win titles. How he teamed up with a bunch of stars. All of it valid. However, now? The Heat are a great team, but they aren't a team of superstars anymore.

Dwyane Wade was probably a top five player when he joined up with LeBron, not anymore. Chris Bosh has been turned into the worlds best role playing big man and while he may have more ability than he gets to regularly show, four years of not showing it has at least made us question. Miami falls apart without LeBron.

Yes, LeBron's still got a great cast, but the Heat without him aren't anything special and certainly have no shot to win in the finals. My personal belief is that the Heat will come back and win this NBA Finals. LeBron will come through and dominate again. Some will find ways to poke holes in his greatness regardless, but it's a hilarious effort.

LeBron James is the second best player to ever play in the NBA. If his career ends with eight rings, five rings, or two rings, I'll still believe that.

As for the Spurs, they need three more wins. Three more wins for their own redemption. They can't afford to think or care about what's going on with LeBron. It'd be easy to get distracted now, but they're three wins away from glory. Three wins from champagne.

Three wins from making all the haters, including myself, happy. Personally, I'm glad it was just cramps. If LeBron goes down, I want him going down on the court, not going down with an injury.

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  • To see LBJ not be able to finish a game was rather shocking. The guy never gets hurt. Heck, it seems like he never even catches a cold.

    One of the attributes that defines greatness is the ability to stay healthy, and therefore always be in a position to help one's teammates. That is one of the main reasons why, much as I hate to say it, I think LBJ is truly a great player. He not only is the most talented player on the planet, but he is out there all the time when needed. Last night was an aberration.

  • This should give Bulls fans a little perspective. For one, LBJ is the best player in the world and that's just such a huge advantage over the Bulls and every other NBA team. Next, even the best team in the NBA can't overcome the loss of its best player. Let's end all whining about the past few years and focus on moving forward.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    If anything, this makes the non-Rose part of the Bulls roster (and Thibs, I guess) look even better- the Bulls didn't completely break down when Rose got hurt, while the Heat looked like the Sixers once LeBron went down.

    It does make you think- if the Heat can't win this series, does LeBron consider opting out this summer to go play for a different team in the East, one with a great coach with two teammates who have been First Team All-NBA in the last 4 years?

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    If you want to compare apples to apples you would have to compare what happened to the Heat last night after Lebron went out for good with what happened to the Bulls the night that Rose went down in Portland. Didn't we get our asses handed to us that night and then suffer the worst loss of the season to the Clippers the next game.

    Lebron is better than Rose, but Wade and Bosh are better than the Bulls second and third best players. Additionally, Miami is playing the best team in the league over the past 2 seasons(other than Miami itself)

    Obviously, without Lebron Miami is not a championship contender, but just like the Bulls they would still make the playoffs, especially in the east.

  • I'm glad the Lebron injury wasn't serious. At first, it looked like a pulled hamstring or tweaked ankle. As a basketball fan, I want Lebron on the court (I'd just like to see the Spurs beat him). Miami's chances of winning last night went down the drain as soon as Lebron sat. D Wade and Bosh just can't get it done without him.

    As far as the Spurs go, they looked ready to ball. Think Ginobili remembered how he got torched last year?! Timmy's missed bunny in game 7?!? This is going to be another great series!

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    Never thought I'd be leaving a comment supporting LeBron, but cramp, other injury, whatever, if he couldn't put weight on it, he couldn't put weight on it, and there's no sense risking further injury in game one.

  • Look, Lebron is out of touch and na├»ve. But, he's probably a good guy (judging by his teammates...) and he does stay out of trouble - that we know of.

    I still hope he loses every game he plays. He comes off as arrogant and insecure. And flops way more than a 6-8 265 lb guy should. Yet, individually, he's in the top 5 of anyone's best basketball players of all time.

    As soon as the TV announcers mentioned the AC problem I immediately thought of James given his history of cramping. I do hope the Spurs run through him while he's on the course, but it was great to see him on the bench, all frustrated and pissed off about a few cramps.

  • I agree about not wanting the Heat to lose because of a Lebron injury, but what about if he got cramps every game and missed the last few minutes. That might even the score for last seasons meltdown by the Spurs.

    I used to agree with you about my second favorite team being whomever is playing the Heat. However, unexpectedly I found myself subliminally rooting for the Heat against the Pacers. Its like my head was telling me to root for Indy but underneath it all I was rooting against them. Something about their unjustified arrogance/mouthiness really makes me dislike them.

    Finally, I can't believe that in 2 days now, no one has even mentioned Noah making first team all NBA(with the 3rd highest vote total after Durant and Lebron) never mind discussing it at length.

    I'm still slightly surprised that he made it, and very surprised that it wasn't even close. I think it has more to do with how much Howard has damaged his brand than it does with anyone thinking that Noah is better than Howard.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Since I brought it up, does anyone know for sure if we owe Noah 2 bonuses now, one for DPOY and another for making first team all NBA. Are they both $500K?

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Duncan should be ahead of Noah, too. He's obviously more skilled and more valuable. Noah can hustle and get 7-10 assists/game all he wants, but Duncan changes the game on the offensive end and even at this advanced age he's at least average to above average on D.

    We do ask too much of Noah, however. He is worth every penny of his contract. On a team with Rose healthy and either Melo or Love, (and Mirotic in future years) Noah fits perfectly and could age well. So, if Noah is the 4th offensive option, he's an ideal player. Kind of like Rodman with Kukoc, Pippen and Jordan ahead of him.

  • I am just hoping Lebron decides to go West after this season. It doesn't matter what team he is now. This guy is closely compared to MJ, and he will carry teams to finals and championships. On the bright side, if you take Rose and Lebron out of the teams, I think the Bulls as contracted would have an edge on the Heat.

  • Of course the present and future we always want the best now, and not the best behind us.

    LeBron talent wise may be right up there, but his career playoff wise he should be 1-2. In his first Finals he shot .356. But he had not support wahhh! .356? Really? Second NBA Finals averaged 17.8ppg. Pathetic. Most recent Finals which his team should have lost he shot .447 field goals. Are you kidding me? Michael's first Finals? 31ppg on .558 field goals. Second Finals? 35.8ppg .526 field goals. Third Finals? 41ppg on .508 field goals.

    LeBron from a Finals standpoint is so far below Michael and I'm sure others as well that I really don't think he's even top five all time. Not if your counting rings as in championship performance when it counts most. he is absolutely overrated.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    You are dead on right! Very interesting MJ comparison in the Finals. Besides, in 6 Finals, the Bulls and MJ never let them get to a game 7, and, in their championship years, only once did a playoff series go to game 7.

    Also, here are a few guys better than LeBron besides MJ: Witt the Stilt (I would pick him over MJ - averaged 40+ ppg over his career!), Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabar. So LeBron might not be top 5.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    There's no sense comparing anyone to MJ. Magic and Bird were both money players, but I honestly think LeBron would destroy either of them. Even though he never has really had that clutch factor that those guys do, he's just so much better defensively than either of them and just as good offensively. Would you take LeBron over Bird?

    Kareem is a different type of player, you could argue the best 5 ever are MJ and 4 centers like Kareem, Wilt, Russell and maybe Shaq or Hakeem. If you're putting together a starting 5 from all time, I think LeBron is your starting SF. I didn't see the Big O play but I think they bring similar things while LeBron is much bigger. On that all-time starting five would the PG be Big O or Magic?

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Totally agree on your top 4-5, its hard not to go with Wilt, Kareem and Russell in some order after Jordan. After that you've got another group of 5-10 guys that would be hard to differentiate from, Magic, Bird, Oscar, Shaq, Hakeem, Kobe, Lebron, Duncan, West, Baylor maybe Malone.

    Wilt would be the only guy that I would put in the argument with Jordan for GOAT. You could go with Bird at small forward for his superior shooting and clutch play. The power forward position would be interesting as Duncan has always seemed like more of a center, and I suppose that at his size Russell could have been a power forward. Maybe you put Lebron at power forward. Then you pick between Wilt and Kareem at center, Magic and Oscar at point.

    I guess if you put a gun to my head and made me pick,
    I'd go with Magic, Michael, Bird, Wilt and Lebron first team.
    Then Oscar, Kobe, Baylor, Kareem and Russell second team.
    Maybe I flip Lebron and Russell since Wilt and he were actually great friends and might enjoy playing together.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Agree totally with 99.9% of that, I'm just not sure I LeBron ahead of Oscar.

    Even at our advanced ages neither of us saw a lot of the Big O because of the lack of TV coverage in his day, but to average a triple-double for a season just holds a very high place in my head.

    I still remember MJ's 1988-89 season when he went 32/8/8 and near the end of the season he had 7 consecutive triple-doubles (and 10 in 11 games) late in the year, it's probably the greatest season I've ever seen a guy have.

    But the Big O's first five years, he went: Pts/Reb/Ast

    I know it was a different game with much less defense, but I can't even fathom a guy having numbers like that for a 5 year stretch. The first 5 years of his career:

    30.3 points
    10.4 rebounds
    10.6 assists

    I can't even comprehend how a guy could do that in any era.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Yea, Oscar is the hardest guy for me to put in his proper place, I only remember watching him with Kareem as a Buck at the end of his career. His first five years are basically second all time to Wilt's, kind of Gretzkyesque.

    I'm not necessarily putting Lebron ahead of Oscar, it is more of a positional problem. If anybody wants to put Oscar on the first team and Magic on the second team, I totally get it. But Oscar is competing against the guards and Lebron is competing against the forwards, which is how Lebron ended up first team and Oscar second team, it really could easily go the other way.

    If you go strictly by position, Russell ends up 3rd team(I can't go against either Wilt or Kareem, even if Russell has more championships than both combined), with Duncan and Malone first and second team as the only power forwards in the top 15, although I think that Baylor actually played power forward despite being only about 6'5" so maybe he gets that second team slot over Malone, heck maybe he gets first team if you call him a power forward. In many ways Baylor may be the most underappreciated guy in league history, people kind of just forget about him. He put up some crazy numbers too, like Oscar but not as many assists.

    Then you have to pick between Bird and Lebron for first and second team small forwards. I lean slightly toward Bird, just like I do Magic vs Oscar, but can't really argue with anyone who wants to go the other way. Don't forget that until Bird hurt his back(and Jordan started winning titles), there were a lot of people(maybe even most) who thought that he was the best player in the game, not Jordan.

    Anyway it is a great debate, but I better quit before I start sounding like Sam Smith.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Just for accuracy's sake, there were two Game 7's:
    1992 EC Semi's vs Knicks
    1998 EC Finals vs Pacers

    And it should be noted that MJ was pretty bad in the Game 7 vs Indy- he had 28/9/8, but he only shot 9/25 from the field and 10/15 from the line. That was the game that Toni saved MJ's (and Pip's) ass, raining 3's the entire 3rd quarter and scoring 14 of his 21 in the 3rd to keep the Bulls in the game.

    Scottie only scored 17 on 6/18 shooting (0/5 3's) and 5/9 FT.

    Toni had his 21 on 7/11, 3/4 and 4/5. In only 33 minutes.

    But both of you guys are 100% correct that if anyone wants to try and compare LeCramp to MJ, just look at their respective Finals performaces. And I'm not even counting LeFlop's CLE trip, he was still pretty young then. Even if he gets his three-peat this year, he'll still never be close to MJ's dominance in the Finals.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    and if I recall correctly 92 was a blowout(30-40 pts) while we were lucky to survive in 98 against Indy. Even though we had some tough game 6's in the finals, we won them all, that Indy series/game 7 was the closed we ever came to being dethroned.

    Also, that Kukoc performance is one of the reasons that I always maintained that Luol Deng was never really better than a 4rth banana when you compare current Bulls teams to the Champion Bulls. Kukoc was the 6th man and 4rth banana on that team and I would take Kukoc over Deng or any other Bull since then not named Rose, and maybe Noah.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Yeah without looking I know that Knicks game was at least a 30 point blowout, IIRC it was semi-close for the 1st quarter and then we just blew them out of the gym.

    Agree 100% on Kukoc, Noah MIGHT have passed him with this year's performance, but Toni also never had the chance to be the man on a decent team that Noah had this season. But nobody else, certainly not Deng IMHO.

    Just to nitpick, I'm not sure Toni wasn't up to 3rd banana by the 1998 season- we struggled to a 4-3 start before Toni got his first start in Pip's place, were only 8-7 in the middle of the circus trip, but got to 24-11 by the time Pip played his first game.

    Kukoc put up 15.1 pts, 5.0 ast and 4.8 reb in 34.0 min in his 52 starts that year.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Yea, he(Kukoc) could have been, but I've always felt that without Rodman's D and rebounding that team might not have won even one championship, so even though he was declining by 98 I still call him(Rodman) the third banana.

    In fact, the night that the Bulls traded for Rodman, I called my brothers and everyone else that I knew was a Bulls fan and when they answered the phone I just said, 70 wins, repeat 3 peat. Most of them hadn't even heard about the trade and had no clue what I was talking about. But that's how certain I was about Rodman's impact on that team.

    Kukoc probably put up the best numbers of his career the next season after Jordan, Pippen and Rodman were all gone, but nobody noticed because the Bulls sucked.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Actually, Wilt average 40ppg over the first 5 years of his career, he averaged just over 30ppg over his entire career, finishing second to Jordan by hundreths of a ppg. I thought those last 2 years in Washington were going to cost Jordan his 30 ppg average. As it is they cost him his 50% career field goal percentage.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Wow! I blew that one. Memory failure, I guess. I thought Wilt had a much higher average.

    BTW, I change to Oscar over MJ -- 30+ ppg, 10+ apg, and 10+ rpg for his first 5 seasons? Unbelievable!

    Of course, I also saw MJ make some plays that were unbelievable. Plus he sat out two seasons in his prime (which was really unwise!).

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Ok, Wilt and Oscar were great. And I am sadly old enough to have watched them play. But they should not be compared to MJ based on their freakish stats. Wilt and Oscar each enjoyed 6+ inches on the average starters at their positions. Lots of 5'10" white guys at the point in those days. And Wes Unseld, who was himself great, admitted that he was a 6'7" center. Imagine 6 foot white guys guarding Michael all season and think of what he may have done.

  • I can't stand LeBron... A lot of people don't like him because of 1) The Decision, 2) His nickname "The King" going back to high school, 3) Flopping, and 4) He carries on like he's just so in to his stats and his legacy and what people think of him. He needs to act like he plays for the Pats and just play the game without all this talk. He's just a professional athlete.

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