LeBron's Getting Better

That seems completely unreal and completely unfair.

Jim Rome
January 26, 2021 - 10:07 am
Kobe Bryant

USA Today

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Remember yesterday when Marc Stein said on this show, the Lakers were just on another level from everyone else in the Association? Yeah, well fast forward from the end of yesterday’s show to the start of the Lakers-Cavs game in Cleveland and you got a taste of what next level looks like.

Because it looks like LeBron Raymone James. And it is badass

What he did last night in Cleveland was absolutely unreal. This was his first appearance in Cleveland in more than two years, due to the pandemic, and clearly he had this one circled in red ink. And made Cleveland pay. Not the entire city, just one guy. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

Because in the first quarter, LeBron was cooking. He opened up his account with a three just over two minutes into the game. And then he went to work, scoring 14 points in the first quarter through the first 11 plus minutes. That’s a nice quarter. A great quarter. A great homecoming.

And then he capped off the quarter with this. 

If you didn’t know before that shot, you knew it after it went down: LeBron, in the words of the legendary David Goggins, was coming to snatch souls. Anthony Davis knew: “Bleep. I knew when he had … 17 in the first.” And what did he know? “I thought, ‘It’s over.'”

It was over for Cleveland and it was just starting for LeBron. Because he had the full arsenal on display. There was the rain of threes in the first quarter. Then, in the second quarter, he showed his power and explosiveness. 

I don’t care what Cleveland did for the next three quarters, they weren’t winning last night. The Cavs could’ve rolled out Mark Price, Austin Carr, Larry Nance, Brad Daugherty and Craig Ehlo in their primes and they still weren’t beating LeBron last night.

Because last night was personal. Not just because LeBron was back in Cleveland, but because someone from the Cavs organization got under his skin. Something you just do not want to do. 

You see when LeBron had a look at a game-tying 14-footer as the third quarter ended, but it bounced twice on the rim and fell out.

At that point, someone from the Cavs organization who was clapping and celebrating just a little too much. 

“I felt like he was just a little bit too excited about seeing me miss. He was really excited about me missing that shot. A little bit more extra than I would have liked. But he's got to root for his team, obviously. And he was, he showcased that. So I knew I had another quarter, and the fourth quarter's my favorite."

LeBron wouldn’t say who the over-enthusiastic member of the Cavs organization was, but he did say, “There’s a million cameras in these arenas. You’ve just got to find a clip to see how excited he was when I missed. I didn’t take it well.”

ESPN identified the clapper as Jason Hillman, the team’s basketball chief of staff. And apparently the Cavs have him to blame, but the rest of us have him to thank. Because what happened next was one of the all-time great quarters from LeBron. And that’s saying something.

He outscored Cleveland 21-19 in the fourth quarter. He was 9 of 10 from the field with two steals, two assists and two blocks.

And those two blocks don’t even include this.

I don’t care that the ball was over the cylinder. Did you see how high he got up? That is a 36 year old man who has played about a billion minutes soaring for that block. That should not happen. That is physically impossible.

Forget calling goaltending, they should change the rules for that play, call it a block and give the Lakers two points. And the ball. That’s the only right thing to do in that moment.

But LeBron wasn’t done. He wasn’t done humiliating that dude who was clapping too much. He still had this shot from the logo. You want something to clap about? I’ll give you something to clap about.

I hope that dude was clapping about that. And if he wasn’t clapping for that shot, he sure as hell better have been clapping for this. If you watched the game, you know the one I’m talking about. Because it’s the most ridiculous shot of a ridiculous night.

It’s the shot you’ll remember from this game. Roll it.

Turn around fade away over the double-team to ice the game. That is the shot in your driveway that you take and brick, and then you try again, and you keep trying, and you never make it. And LeBron buried it with ease. 

All of this from the alleged Washed King. All of this from a 36 year old with crazy miles on him. All of this from a guy who shouldn’t be playing at this level. All of this from a guy who should be coasting.

Not only is he not coasting, he’s improving. That seems completely unreal and completely unfair, but after going 7 for 11 from deep last night, he’s now shooting 41.2% from three this season. That’s the best percentage of his career.

So not only is he not slowing down, he’s getting better. He’s adding another weapon to an already unstoppable arsenal.

Remember all those idiots back in the day who said that LeBron didn’t want it as badly as MJ or Bird or the other greats? Remember the folks who said he was too nice or too interested in other things to be the GOAT? That he was a facilitator but not a cold-blooded killer. Right. How does that argument look right now? Has there been a take that aged worse than that?

Four rings and he’s still doing stuff like this in a regular season in January in an empty arena. If anyone had ever earned the right to cruise through a regular season, it was LeBron James after last season and the tiny offseason. But instead, he’s out there wrecking  teams and putting a clown suit on a basketball chief of staff. And it is awesome.