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NBA Finals, King James version

My columns have been a little cranky lately. If it’s not Barry Bonds’ arrogance, it’s Juan Salas’ stupidity and George Foreman’s, well, proof he got hit one too many times.

So it was a pleasure to read that the great Michael Jordan – the most talented athlete I’ve ever seen play any sport ever – chimed in on the recent performances of LeBron James.

“What just transpired was something I felt was needed for the league, was needed for Cleveland, was needed for LeBron,” Jordan was quoted as saying.



These comments made me happy on so many different levels. First, it means that Jordan is still relevant outside a lame Hanes commercial with Kevin Bacon.

Jordan, who did more for his sport than any single person ever did for their sport, deserves to remain atop the pedestal. With his talent, work ethic and ability to stay (mostly) clean under one of the largest microscopes ever built by the media, it’s nice to see he can still make headlines.




Then there’s LeBron’s reaction:

“It’s great,” he said. “Anytime you get praise from the guy who basically laid down all the stones for you to get here. I grew up idolizing his game and how he played the game of basketball. It was definitely great to hear.”

Wow.

A 22-year-old, up-and-coming superstar says something nice? Says something mature? Says something that doesn’t involve stuffing his feet in his mouth?

Can you imagine if Jerry Rice said something like that about Terrell Owens after Owens’ fourth year in the league. I can just hear T.O.’s response:

“Yeah, that’s true,” T.O. would say. “The league, the city, everyone needs a little more of me. Especially the league. Where would the NFL be without me? I’m the greatest thing ever to step foot on the football field.

“I mean, don’t get me wrong, Jerry’s good and everything, but it was nice of him to admit that I’m better than he is. He’s just going to have to accept that he’s old and I’m young. He’s dancin’ and I’m catching TDs. He’s …”

You get the point.

It’s also interesting that Jordan says the league needed this. I couldn’t agree more. Cleveland and San Antonio aren’t the biggest markets in the world, and after my Suns were knocked out I was looking for reasons to care about the finals.

King James solved that. I really don’t care much who wins, but it’s going to be tough not to tune in and see how James does against the toughest team, top to bottom, in the league.

The league needed that – bad.

Jordan also mentioned that Cleveland needed this. That couldn’t be more true. After all, the best thing to happen to the Cleveland sports world – before James, that is – in the last 30 years was the movie Major League.

The second best thing? You got it. Major League 2.

But most of all, Jordan hit the nail on the head when he said LeBron needed this.

It wasn’t long ago I was listening to Rome, Kornheiser and Wilbon as well as the fellas on Around the Horn who absolutely unloaded on James after Game 1 against the Pistons.

With the game on the line, James drove the lane and kicked out to a wide-open Donyell Marshall, who missed a 3-pointer and handed Detroit the victory.

The next day, you couldn’t throw a stick without hitting someone talking about James’ uncanny ability to choke with the game on the line. Few stood up for him, and those who did still thought he made the wrong choice.

Is it just me, or did King James really, really, really prove them wrong? Jordan was right; James needed that.

Two teams I don’t care about are about to face off in my least favorite of the three major sports.

Still, I may just have to tune in.

ooo

To contact Sports Writer Ross Maak, e-mail rossm@theunion.com or call 477-4244.


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