Thursday , Feb , 05 , 2009 Christopher Sells

Yes He Did

LeBron James says he wasn’t trying to top Kobe. I don’t believe him. And that’s what makes it pretty special.

Yes He DidLeBron James told us all that he had no intention of trying to top Kobe Bryant’s 61-point performance earlier this week. He was pretty adamant about it when he said it. The quote I ran yesterday was this one:

"It’s not about individuals in this league– it’s about the basketball game. I’m not trying to out-do Kobe on anybody on their team. I’m just trying to win the game. I just go out and play my game. I’m not a video game where you can expect me to go out there and score 60 or 70. I play the game and I’m not about individual accolades."

Can we all agree that the answer he gave us was pretty much BS?

He said the right thing. I suppose if he had said anything else, he would have given the Knicks some sort of extra motivation to stop him (as if having more records set against you isn’t enough) and none of this may have happened. He probably would have come off as selfish as well, and LeBron cares about LeBron’s image. So I get where he was coming from.

But watch that performance last night and tell me that King James wasn’t out for blood. It was pretty clear from the jump that he was going to give that extra special effort to be better than Kobe. I’ve read an article that claims LeBron casually mentioned Kobe’s assist and rebound totals before the game. Most of us don’t have those memorized. Kobe was clearly saving all of his energy for point-scoring and LeBron is a better all-around player anyway. So it’s not surprising that Kobe scored more but LeBron had more assists and rebounds.

But 52, 11 and 10? Honestly, that’s just really silly.

How silly? 52 points is the most points in a triple double since the ABA and the NBA merged. It puts LeBron ahead of names like Bird and Jordan. It puts him on par with names like Kareem, Wilt and Elgin Baylor.

That’s how silly. And at the ripe old age of 24, LeBron will be pulling off stunts like this for nearly another decade. Then he’ll get older and probably stick around to break a record or two. He’s already the youngest player to reach 12,000 points. I don’t know if he wants to stick around to do it, but he could probably catch Kareem in the scoring column.

So he’s really good. We knew that about LeBron already. But we’re learning that he’s aware of how good he is and he wants his game to prove it. He reportedly looked over at some friends on the sidelines and was visibly bothered that he was one rebound short of the triple double with less than a minute left. He fought for that last rebound and was mobbed by his teammates after he retrieved it. The smile on his face after he was helped from the floor said it all. His postgame comments were those of an individual who has paid attention to the great history of Madison Square Garden and wanted to write his name in the books.

Is there anything wrong with all of this? I’d say no. I don’t have a problem with a player setting a goal and achieving it as long as he doesn’t alienate his teammates or take an L in the process. I just think that we should all be aware of the talent that it takes to want to do something like that and then to go out on the court and make it happen. After all, as LeBron reminded us, this is no video game. These are real, live, flesh and blood players. They think and have pride, which makes them want to keep other players from going crazy against them. It makes them want to not be on the wrong side of the record book.

Well, it should, anyway. I have my doubts now that the Knicks have been taken behind the woodshed twice in one week by an individual player. It’s pretty lamentable, but the Knicks’ new run-and-gun style does lend itself to that sort of thing.

So who else wants to become a legend? Who else wants to be mentioned in the same breath as the legends of the game? Who else thinks they can compete on the same level as Kobe and LeBron? I say no one. Can we all agree that anyone saying otherwise is pretty much BS?