King Kaufman's Sports Daily

LeBron goes off for 48. Yeah, that's the smart basketball play. Cavs take 3-2 lead. Plus: Steve Kerr, G.M.


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Salon Staff
June 1, 2007 8:00PM (UTC)

What is there to say about LeBron James' performance in Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals Thursday night? Other than, for some of us -- a lot of us, actually -- I told you so.

Thursday night's game, a 109-107 double-overtime victory by the Cleveland LeBronJameses, er, Cavaliers over the Detroit Pistons, was the answer to all that nonsense LeBron himself spewed after his ill-advised dish at the end of Game 1. He said then that passing to Donyell Marshall for a 3-pointer was the smart basketball play. Marshall missed the shot and the Pistons won the game.

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No. The smart basketball play is to give the ball to the best player on the floor and get the hell out of the way. That's what Charles Barkley and Magic Johnson and I were saying last week, and James was smart to finally listen to Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson and me. After all, the three of us combined to score 41,464 points in the NBA.

In Game 5, a road victory that gave the Cavs a 3-2 series lead, James drove to the basket for dunk after dunk. The Pistons, one of the best defensive teams in the league, a team that's a championship contender every year because of its defense, were helpless.

James scored 48 points. The amazing thing is that his teammates actually scored 61. I can't remember a single one of them. I can't imagine why he let them try.

Toward the end, he didn't. James scored Cleveland's last 25 points. He scored 29 of the Cavs' last 30. I just made a joke about Barkley, Magic and me combining for all those points in the NBA -- see, the joke is that Barkley and Magic really scored all of them -- but this isn't really a joke: I could have logged some minutes for the Cavs last night and they still would have scored 109.

They'd have given up more than 107, but we're not talking about that right now, are we? Good.

It's hard to imagine the Pistons won't come up with some way to get the ball out of James' hands or stop him from driving at will in Game 6, which is scheduled for Saturday night in Cleveland. Then again, it was hard to imagine they wouldn't figure it out in the 58 minutes allotted to them Thursday night in Detroit and they didn't.

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The Pistons have to win on the road, something that hadn't happened in this series before Thursday, then go back home and win Game 7. Those of you with good memories or access to the Internet know that that's exactly what happened last year in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Pistons won two at home, the Cavs won two at home and then Game 5 in Detroit, and the Pistons took the series by winning Game 6 on the road and Game 7 at home.

That happening again would not be a terrible bet. Let's not forget the Pistons lost Antonio McDyess to a flagrant-foul ejection late in the first quarter. It's not a stretch to think that having such an important front-line role player in the lineup over the last three quarters would have netted the Pistons one point.

Then again, if the league is going to be consistent with its Draconian law enforcement, it pretty much has to suspend McDyess for Game 6.

Either way, it would appear that LeBron James has arrived. He learned in less than two weeks what it took he who will not be named yet again in this column, but who is German and plays for Dallas, hasn't learned in seven years. He's learned that for someone with his phenomenal skills, the right basketball play is to get to the basket and dunk as often as possible, until someone figures out a way to stop you.

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The Pistons have a day to figure out how to stop him.

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Steve Kerr: TNT's loss, Suns' gain? [PERMALINK]

Good luck to Steve Kerr, who's reported to be the new general manager of the Phoenix Suns. He'll need it. I get the idea it's a lot harder to actually do that job than to talk about what the person who has it should do.

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I have no idea what kind of job Kerr will do, but I'll miss him on TNT's NBA broadcasts.

Kerr provides a nice level of solid basketball insight with heavy doses of humor, but not dumb humor. He speaks well, isn't afraid to give his opinion but doesn't criticize just for the sake of it, and has a good sense of when to take the game seriously and when to joke around a little. He meshes particularly well with Marv Albert, who has many of the same qualities to go along with his iconic voice.

I'll also miss Kerr's blog at Yahoo Sports, where he often provides more solid insights.

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There's simply no predicting how well someone will do in a front-office role based on how smart or insightful he seems in the broadcast booth or in print. This is hard to remember now, but before Matt Millen took the job with the Detroit Lions, where he's been a disaster, he was seen as a good candidate because of his fine work as a game analyst on CBS and Fox TV and Westwood One radio.

I kid you not, kids. Ask your parents. You'll also find this hard to believe: Millen inherited a team that was pretty good. Sound like anybody?

Now if Kerr would just take that stupid camera-on-a-wire gadget with him. It works OK for football, TV people. It provides a much worse view of the game than the regular midcourt camera in basketball. Please look at your monitors. Thank you.

Previous column: Tin-eared Kobe Bryant

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