LeBron James did the best Pookie Hudson impersonation I’ve seen since last year when Dwyane Wade did the same thing against the Mavericks for four consecutive games. The national sports media suffered a serious case of amnesia last night and this morning in asserting that the King James Version of playoff basketball was the best “witnessed” in years. I guess it’s all about tomorrow’s newspaper and the next ad spot. Oh, how soon they forget. To hell with reality. James was marvelous, but I’ve been down this road before – and recently.
D.Wade: Remember me? Yep…beat the Pistons, won a ring. Yeah 2006, remember!!!
The Pistons can still win this series. If they lose, though, it will be because their big men are making life hard on Chauncey Billups. “Mr. Big Shot,” as Billups is known for his clutch performances, is being guarded by one of the better defensive big guards in the league in Larry Hughes. In addition, the Cavaliers recognize his centrality to the offensive machine of the Pistons. Billups is not getting help from his supremely big men who simply refuse to dominate the paint. It’s been almost 15 years since Rasheed and Webber had great nights with regularity on the box. That’s right – I’m taking it all the way back to Simon Gratz and Country Day. Chauncey could beg and plead, but it won’t work. Those guys are perimeter players who don’t have any interest in hanging out down low. The Pistons best chance of winning may come down to Tayshaun Prince realizing that there is nothing wrong with him taking over a series or two. I suppose if he came to that realization, the Pistons could even beat the Spurs. As it stands, I suspect that Cavs coach Mike Brown will be listening to a very special version of old Pookie’s doo-wop classic. Goodnite Detroit, goodnite.
Still, I’ve gotta give props to the young gun. He has arrived. He understands what Tracy McGrady did not/does not. Eventually, he’ll get to wear a crown. I suspect it will be in the post-Duncan era. (Your era can, and usually does end, before you retire.) In the same way that Michael Jordan’s ascent (1991) marked the end of the championship era for Magic Johnson’s Lakers and the Pistons; LeBron’s eventual rise will probably mark the end of Duncan’s title-taking years. It was a young Duncan, teamed with The Admiral who put the seal on guards and forwards leading teams to rings. Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal have won 7 of the past 8 championships. The Big Fundamental is my odds-on-favorite to win again this year. The Cavaliers are still a year or two away – to say nothing of what may happen with this incarnation of the Pistons and the Miami Heat. It’s time for a shift. Wade took the spotlight off centers last year – and new rules have paved the way for explosive players like James to take over. It’s about to be on.