(UPDATED 6:54 p.m. MAY 30, 2018)
LeBron, LeBron, Lebron.
All hail the king, and His Hoops Highness shows no signs of relinquishing his throne to lesser folks these days such as James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry. In fact, with LeBron and his Cleveland Cavaliers preparing to meet the Golden State Warriors Thursday night in Oakland for the opener of the NBA Finals, I'm thinking about doing a rarity for me.
I'm thinking about (gulp) changing my opinion about something involving greatness in sports. I mean, maybe when it comes to crowning the best player in NBA history, LeBron is showing this season . . .
Sorry, but I can't say it. Then again, going backward, I'm still not comprehending some of the things LeBron James did Sunday night for the Cleveland Cavaliers in Boston during the latest of his mostly single-handed dismantling of a postseason opponent.
-- Nobody spins in the lane to deliver a lob pass to somebody, but LeBron did just that against the Celtics, with teammate Tristan Thompson completing the circus act.
-- Who blocks a dunk? Yep. That guy, and he did it against Terry Rozier, the high-rising guard of the Celtics. Even though I've watched the play several times, I keep uttering the words of the late Jack Buck to myself, "I can't believe what I just saw."
-- Speaking of that, LeBron went sprinting downcourt near the end of the Sunday night's game for an uncontested layup, a dunk beyond believe or something even more spectacular. But along came the Celtics' Marcus Morris, who grabbed both shoulders of LeBron inside of the lane, pulled him backward, and you know the rest. Somehow, LeBron scored anyway.
Here's the big picture, and it's scary for the Warriors: Even without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, both sidelined due to injuries, the Celtics were better as a team than a Cavaliers bunch, working with misfits to replace the misfits Cleveland management ousted earlier this season during a massive purge. The Raptors also were superior to the Cavaliers, but Toronto got swept by Cleveland during the conference semifinals. You also could make the case that the Cavaliers should have lost in the first round to Victor Oladipo and his athletic Indiana Pacers, but the Cavs won in seven.
That "somehow" was named LeBron Raymone James Sr., 33 going on 23 courtesy of his limitless energy. This is his 15th NBA season, and he has played every game, including nearly every minute during the playoffs. He has ignored whichever set of misfits compose the Cavaliers' roster at a given moment to play out of his mind scoring, rebounding, assisting, blocking and defending. He finished Sunday's game with 35 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists and another block to go along with the crazy one I mentioned earlier.
Never has an NBA player had to do so much to compensate for so little around him to carry his team from training camp, through the regular season and to the Finals.
So I'll say it. LeBron James really is the best NBA player of all-time, but probably not. It's difficult to overlook that 6-0 record next to Michael Jordan's name regarding his trips to the NBA Finals, and James is just 3-5. Even if he improves to 4-5 when the dribbling stops later this month, that's still not Michael.
Not that being LeBron is bad.