Words By Patrick M.
As a Celtics fan I was counting championships after a 20 game win streak a few months ago. I had us on lockdown for ’09 and ’10 with further seasons depending on whether Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins turned into first team All NBA-ers or just perennial All-Stars. But a few hiccups on the road against the formidable Lakers (with some help from the zebras,) and the lackluster Warriors had me rethinking the Green’s destiny. Still, West Coast road trips are rough on anyone, and as the New Year passed I was still certain that The Truth, KG and friends would be raising No. 18 to the rafters come November.
Then we rolled into Mr. James’ house.
In a little over two hours my dynastic visions were crushed. It didn’t matter that we had advantages at four of the five positions on the court. It didn’t matter that in Paul Pierce we have as good a match-up against The Freak as can possibly be hoped for. No, we were at the mercy of No. 23 as he single-handedly destroyed our beloved team, turning them and all of New England into witnesses of destruction.
The difference between this year and last year’s LeBron is at the defensive end of the floor. While he has always been able to use his totally unfair combination of size, speed and coordination on the offensive end to blow by smaller guards and cram over big men, he had not yet harnessed those other-worldly abilities. But this year the beast has awoken. Rather than a traditional crouch, forcing wing players into the middle, he stands at mid-court like a combination of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed; daring you to run him over or throw past him. Neither works. Moreover his confidence in his defensive ability trickles down to his supporting cast. He dominated his nemesis Pierce and the Cavs make the defending champs look like chumps.
There’s still a chance for the Celtics to pull an 89-90 Pistons on LeBron, especially if they add another big man like Joe Smith and a scoring guard such as Stephon Marbury. But we’ll only be delaying the inevitable:
It’s LeBron’s league. Meet the New 23, same as the Old 23.