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Friday, June 01, 2007

It's Indaface!

I was not able to tune into the Pistons game last night until there was about 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter. I grabbed a seat at the bar next to a guy who was fixated on the game.
"What's the score?"
"Pistons are up by a couple"
"How has the game been?"
"It's been pretty tight. Pretty good game." (failed to mention the McDyess ejection)
"Nice. Are you a Pistons or Cavs guy?"
"I'm a LeBron James fan."
"Yeah, I'm a Pistons fan so I'm just glad we're playing the Cavs and not him. How has he played tonight?"
"Pretty good, he's been more of a set-up guy for his teammates tonight."

Maybe up until then he was. From the moment I sat down until about an hour later when the game ended, I watched my beloved Pistons, a team, play basketball against one guy, and get their butts kicked. I may have seen a more dominant performance by an individual in a team sport, but I cannot recall one. The game where Michael Vick ran for the touchdown in overtime against the Vikings was close, but only for a few moments. Last night was Vick scrambling for twenty straight plays over a few drives, scoring touchdowns at the end of each, in the playoffs, on the road, against the Ravens or Bears.

It was a strange feeling watching the end of that game as a Pistons fan. Of course I wanted the Pistons to win, but how can you not appreciate a performance that will be preserved in history? There will undoubtedly be some sort of display or artwork in the basketball hall of fame in Springfield, MA commemorating the play of one LeBron James on Thursday, May 31st, 2007 in Auburn Hills, MI. It didn't feel fair. It didn't feel fair that one man could be so much better than everyone else on the floor. Combined. Imagine yourself as one of his teammates at the end of the game. Would you dare shoot the ball with what was going on? Fuck no. From the point in the game when I started watching until the final buzzer sounded, the ego of every person associated with the game of basketball was flattened. This Detroit Pistons team was built by Joe Dumars to be a collection of excellent basketball players who play as a team, executing in all of the unglamorous ways it takes to win against a team built around a superstar. Excellent team defense. Balanced scoring. Good decisions. Last night LeBron James micturated upon the Joe Dumars model of winning basketball games.

For the first time this season, I found myself wishing that we still had Ben Wallace. Watching LeBron soar through the middle of the lane to dunk the ball unchallenged was painful. I'm not sure if Ben could have prevented some of the emasculation that took place last night. His faults in other aspects of his game could have made things worse, but it was clear that Deee-troit bass-ketball had nothing on Lebron and its reign over the Central Division is over.

Fortunately for the Pistons, this series is not over. As brilliant as LeBron was in game five, it is not certain that he will be able to repeat it in game six or seven, if it gets that far. All a Pistons fan can hope for now is that they play at least as well as they did last night and for LeBron to play like a superstar instead of whatever the fuck he was last night, which was basically the AIDS virus of the game of basketball.

"You can't stop him, you can only hope to contain him."

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