Friday, January 22, 2010

LeBron Sends a Statement To Kobe, Lakers: Cleveland Cavaliers is Team To Beat

For all the puppet hype, a marketing crusade Nike has advertised of NBA marquee superstars, Kobe against LeBron publicity turned into an epic theater and millions are witnesses.

It might have been the biggest, uttermost entertaining game of the year, coming in January when it felt like a postseason atmosphere in front of an electric Cleveland crowd.

At Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland, a clamorous crowd rocks whenever LeBron James and Kobe Bryant deliver a shooting spectacle, enough to awe the spectators in for a treat. Take it from Drew Carry, Cleveland ROCKS!

On a bone-chilling night outside the arena, fans cramped inside to be witnesses of LeBron’s dramatic matchup between Kobe, a duel advertised as a potential bout in June. We’ve long-awaited the dream NBA Finals, a best-of-seven series when LeBron meets Kobe. For several reasons, a series that contains two of the top-of-the-line-players and two well-known marketers, will force NBA Commissioner David Stern to smile.

The resurgence of a league may suddenly develop for the engaging influence Kobe and LeBron have on the game, both nationwide and globally. Each are global icons, standing as a valuable attribute for the charitable work, marketing promotions and stellar performances, better than most have seen on a regular at other NBA arenas.

Of course, on this night LeBron outrivaled a friendly rival, a marketing partner and a good friend. He outplayed Kobe and the Los Angeles Lakers inside their domain. He secured a 93-87 win to beat the defending champs. So, how significant was the win? I’ll admit it was significant after the Cleveland Cavaliers swept the regular-season series 2-0. That sends a decisive statement to the Lakers, who have played lackadaisical at times, particularly in the last meeting on Christmas Day when they were humiliated at home to frustrate die-hard Lakers’ fans witnessing a surprising relapse.

At the Staples Center, matters turned ugly as fans initiated a minor disturbance by tossing foam fingers onto the court, angry over the poor officiating. Well, it was the total opposite on the King’s Court. The appeased fans willing to watch LeBron on a regular awarded him with “MVP! MVP! MVP!” chants. He seems to attract more witnesses than anyone else as of now.

He seems to be a bigger magnet than Kobe as of now. He seems to be hotter than Kobe as of now, even though his latest shoe is blazing hot. None of it matters after LeBron scored 12 straight points and settled for a 37-point showpiece to clobber the Black Mamba. None of it matters after Kobe failed to avenge a horrendous rout on Christmas Day.

Never mind what goes on at the Staples Center in the season, while on the east coast, LeBron continues to dazzle and titillate us all with the high-flying dunks, three-point ability and even the routine baby powder toss to intensify the wildest crowd. Never mind what happens in Los Angeles, while in Cleveland, LeBron is constantly putting on a star-studded showcase for amazed fans to occupy two hours of their time.

It’s hard to argue that LeBron is favored to win the MVP for the second straight season. It’s not hard to argue or pontificate he’s the better player currently. Before each game LeBron is greatly greeted by the fans and his grand entrance always attracts a loud standing ovation, towel swinging insanity. Following last night’s vintage showdown, LeBron revealed to the world that he’s as valuable as Kobe.

Once the night came to an end, he divulged that he’s a popular superstar whose legacy is elevating. With a win over the Lakers, he uncovered that beating the Lakers for the grandest prize is possible. Similar to Kobe’s clutch performances late in the fourth quarter, LeBron stood out as the perennial superstar and the untouchable superhero. His shots scorched. His shot-selections were brilliant. His ability to take over was staggering. With the exception of four jumpshots in three-minutes, one three-pointer, James possessed the last word of the night.

Owning the best record in the NBA, the Lakers don’t convince us that they’re the team to beat. The Cavs dismantled Los Angeles twice, played with more energy and poise, bearing a positive and presumptuous standpoint that they could very well inhibit the Lakers from repeating brilliance. By glancing at Phil Jackson, he wasn’t too thrilled with the late droughts and lethargic play. From the looks of his body language, he sat on the bench bitter of the uninspired effort.

With a little under six minutes remaining, LeBron dazzled and tormented the Lakers on both ends of the floor, due to the athleticism and stamina in the middle. He scored five points late, but the Los Angeles was able to survive until Pau Gasol missed a pair of free throws. Of course, Kobe tried keeping hopes alive after burying a pivotal jumpshot to revive his team of premature mortals.

As a result, it forced an 87-87 tie. But James answered as he responded whenever the Lakers tried to expand the lead. Only 49 seconds remained on the clock, and LeBron collected the rebound, raced down the floor and wasn’t intimidated by the lanky Gasol. He still drove through a clobbered line and made a layup.

These days, people are still curious to know where LeBron may end up when he becomes a free-agent in 2010, but in Cleveland they couldn’t care less. After all, the King is an Ohio native, and the population have greatly pampered and anointed James. Minus Mo Williams, who’s ineffective and sidelined for at least six weeks, wasn’t missed much. If the Cavs continue to put on a dominant show, Williams likely won’t be a factor.

Because he has been unsuccessful in winning a NBA championship, James doesn’t draw the same type of credit as Kobe. But this could be the year he wins a title and maybe multiple if he manages to stay healthy. It might seem difficult without Williams, whose three-point shooting could come in handy. Either way, LeBron is expected to bring life to a lifeless sports town, still longing to overcome sporting indignities.

If there’s one team in town, it’s the Cavs. If you wish to put the ball in someone’s hands, give it to LeBron, the ravishing athlete. No one has envy feelings at all, just belief that he’s the town's savior. In a competitive market, Bryant and James have dominated in shoe sales and jersey sales, both topping at either No. 1 or No. 2 in each category. It goes to show how valuable each player is to their team and the league in general, an association that needed a rebirth since Michael Jordan retired.

In June, we’ll see which has the better team. For now, Kobe is surrounded with a powerful supporting cast, while LeBron needs to take more shot attempts, even though he’s fortunate to have Shaquille O’Neal, the seven-foot giant whose freestyle rap took shots at Kobe a few summers ago.

I’m sure many of you can’t wait until June. This may have been a sneak preview of what’s to come in June, the NBA Finals matchup every one dreams for.

LeBron against Kobe!

When, the best superstar is decided.