Monday, June 01, 2009

Monday 06/01 A.M. Quickie:
LeBron, Magic, Nadal, Greinke, Vick, Moyer

So I was hoping to come up with a Theory of Everything related to LeBron, the Cavs' loss, the Magic's win, etc.

Mainly, I found myself totally unimpressed with the way LeBron handled himself after the series ended: No handshake? Silent treatment for the media?

That's not how a self-described "winner" acts. That's not how a champion acts. I'm sure he was disappointed -- although his Cavs were thoroughly outplayed by the Magic all series long.

What a cop-out. The handshake thing was reminiscent of the Pistons in 1991 after their reign was ended by Jordan's Bulls -- but at least Detroit was two-time defending champs; LeBron has won nothing.

The media silence was complete b.s. He made his teammates shoulder the burden of explaining the series loss. Maybe his teammates failed him; maybe that's just LeBron mythology and -- in reality -- he didn't make them THAT much better; how else to explain how a team with the NBA's best record got flattened? Whatever: A real leader would have taken responsibility. Instead, LeBron looked like a selfish prima donna -- "MeBron."

Not just a bad loser, but an even bigger loser than the series had turned him into. The fact remains: This will be remembered as one of LeBron's best chances -- perhaps his best chance -- at a ring. Best record in the NBA. Home-court advantage. 8-0 start to the playoffs. A tired opponent. Yet the Cavs were soundly beaten, not just in Game 6 but throughout the series. How will things be different next year? Maybe the Magic will lose Hedo -- the glue to this Finals run -- but they will get Jameer Nelson back. And don't expect quick success in New York in 2010, presuming he goes there.

Maybe, instead of the max contract, he should think about taking the league minimum and teaming up with Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis in Orlando. It's not like LeBron can't make up the difference in endorsement deals. And it's not like the Magic aren't -- at least for now -- the better team than whatever team LeBron is on.

Meanwhile, as you'll see in today's SN column, the Magic win was a validation on a bunch of levels: For building around a top-tier post player -- inside-out, rather than outside-in. For paying the max for a complimentary player. For Hedo Turkoglu (not Dirk Nowitzki) as the real fulfillment of the NBA's European invasion. For Otis Smith as a terrific GM.

More on the Finals as we get closer to Thursday.

More you'll find in today's column:
*Nadal loses: Biggest upset ever?
*Greinke's no-decision: 3 earned runs? (7K/0BB, though)
*Vick to Rams: Why not?
*Harvin as Wildcat: Unstoppable.
*Ohio State baseball: Humiliated!
*Stephen Strasburg: Overrated!

Complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

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