David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Breaking: LeBron James is good at basketball

It should be obvious to anyone that LeBron James is good at basketball. But ... isn't he kind of bad, too?

LeBron James is good. Specifically, at basketball. This is impossible to objectively dispute. In the NBA Finals — in which James’ Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the defending champion Golden State Warriors 4-3 on Sunday night James led all players in every traditional positive statistical category: points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, minutes, and free throws made (tied with Kyrie Irving). James won his third Finals MVP based on the strength of that performance, joining Michael Jordan as the only other player to win three Finals MVPs and four MVP season awards. James is ranked fourth in career playoff points, third in career playoff assists, fourth in career playoff minutes played, and is in the top 20 of career points and assists, a distinction he shares with only Oscar Roberston.

LeBron James is good.

LeBron James is good. Which is a lot like saying, “The Beatles are good.” It’s a banal and asinine declaration. Yet it cannot be said enough. “LeBron James is good.” If you’d like, you can flip through the dictionary in vain looking for a superlative adjective to adequately encapsulate that good-ness. But it’s a fruitless endeavor. Linguistic flourishes only obfuscate the simplistic truth contained in the statement.

You hear someone say, “LeBron James is good at basketball,” and surely you agree. You reply in the affirmative — because it should be obvious to anyone that LeBron James is good at basketball. “Yes, he is.” But then you see LeBron James detonate an ordinarily routine layup of one of the best players in the world, and it’s like listening to Rubber Soul for the first time in years. Like discovering it again for the first time. Damn, you say to yourself. LeBron James is good. The Beatles are good.

http://www.scout.com/cleveland-sports/story/1680122-wfny-s-championship-subscription-saleLeBron James is good. Look at it any way you like, but LeBron James is one of the most astounding American athletes to ever play games for our viewing pleasure: Jim Thorpe, Jesse Owens, Willie Mays, Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Muhammad Ali, Wilt Chamberlain, Dr. J, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Mike Tyson, Bo Jackson, Jerry Rice, Carl Lewis, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, and a handful of others. He’s one of the best. And it’s a privilege that Cleveland fans have been fortunate enough to watch him for nine years of his career, with more likely to come. Championships are great, no doubt (Cavs fans can now say that with certainty for the first time). But few fan bases in few windows of time have had the opportunity to watch greatness personified. Sure, his teams didn’t always win, but he’s been the best player of ten on the court on 99 percent of nights for over a decade. His durability and consistency are without peer.

But then you see LeBron James detonate an ordinarily routine layup of one of the best players in the world, and it’s like listening to Rubber Soul for the first time in years. Like discovering it again for the first time. ... LeBron James is good. The Beatles are good.

Eventually James' body will fail him. Right? It has to. When it does, it will be devastating. Shit. We didn’t appreciate it enough. We always get excited about the new thing. Derrick Rose. Blake Griffin. Kevin Durant. Kawhi Leonard. Anthony Davis. Stephen Curry. Fantastic players all. But LeBron James is an era unto himself. Fight becoming numb to it. I show up to work on a Wednesday and push some papers around and tap a few keys on the computer. LeBron James shows up to work and puts up a 27/8/8, creates a piece of moving artwork, invigorates your soul, and throws in a few amazing alley-oops just for funsies.

LeBon James is good. His in-game dunk highlight reel this season probably eclipses entire career of, say, Tracy McGrady or Clyde Drexler — other great players and fantastic in-game dunkers dunker. Remember the superhuman one-handed alley oop in Game 3 of the Finals, when James plucked the ball from outer space with one hand? Or the largely meaningless March 23 game (it was a Wednesday) when James unleashed five incredible dunks, including a death-defying reverse double clutch dunk? Don’t become numb to it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHBWlp-HYFI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0li1SRfGKQ

LeBron James is good. An indomitable force of nature channeled into a game fraught with grace and delicacy — a grizzly bear with a jump shot, the abominable snowman in basketball sneakers. You can picture gaining 1500 receiving yards in the NFL or performing in Swan Lake. Is there anyone else in American sports you can say that about?

In the Finals, James unleashed a few blocks to remind us that, for as great as Stephen Curry is, there’s no one as astounding James. In Game 4, James volleyball spiked a Curry layup with impunity. In Game 6, James seemed insulted that Curry even attempted another layup in his airspace. Stephen Curry was named the first unanimous MVP in league history several weeks ago, and James demeaned him in the Finals, one eviscerated layup at a time.

http://www.scout.com/cleveland-sports/story/1680400-cavs-championship-parade-detailsLeBron James is good. He’s so good in fact that we had to invent a new term to describe his signature athletic feat: the chasedown block. For the unfamiliar, the chasedown is distinguishable from the ordinary, stand-still block in that the chasedown-er appears from behind to reject what was supposed to be an ordinary layup. The chasedown-ee is demoralized. What's perfunctory is undone. It’s humiliation at high speeds and high altitudes — an atomic wedgie at Mach 2. The equivalent of Kareem’s signature skyhook or Hakeem’s dream shake, with an Evel Knievel twist. Since James incorporated the chasedown into his repertoire about 10 years ago, only few other players in the NBA have been able to replicate the chasedown — none with the regularity James does.

Then there was The Block: The chasedown to end all chasedowns. With 1:51 remaining in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, James made one of the most spectacular plays we’ve ever seen, erasing an Andre Iguodala layup, and with it 52 years of sports-related misery.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIZqOTIbWDg

LeBron James is good. At 31 years old, he’s already accomplished more than Larry Bird did in his career. Yet I’m still excited for the next stage of his career. Do any frontiers remain? Will he go to eight straight Finals? With he win six championships? Will he win a fifth MVP? Will he play a combined 75,000 career regular season and playoff minutes? Will he win one more championship and ride off into the sunset to sell sneakers, make Space Jam movies, and direct Trainwreck 2? Will he go play for the Los Angeles Lakers to cement his international celebrity status? Will he become the first NBA mercenary, hopping from team-to-team like a championship hitman? Will he reinvent himself as a spot-up jump shooter? Will he turn himself into a 28-minute per game off-ball nightmare and defensive stopper? Will he play until he’s 40? Will he try out for the Dallas Cowboys, just for the hell of it? Will he wait around to play on the same team as LeBron James, Jr.? Will he recruit another star to Cleveland, sit back, and let Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and whoever else do the heavy lifting, keeping his body in a glass case like a fire extinguisher: “Break in Case of Emergency”? Will he lose control of his powers at one point, actually become airborne, and fly up into the Q’s Eastern Conference (and now, NBA) championship banners? Is any of this totally off the table? Whatever comes next, enjoy it.

LeBron James is good. The man who made a miracle happen in a place where miracles don’t happen. St. James. The man who ended the 52-year title drought. The Promise Keeper. The man with the adamantium skeleton. The guy whose team went down 3-1 in the Finals, a deficit never before overcome, who told his team, “Don’t worry, I got this.” The boy from Akron, Ohio.

But LeBron James is also bad. Oh, so bad. Turning heel — the guy in the black jersey who rode into town to embarrass your stars and steal your championships. On the eve of Game 5, James rocked an Undertaker shirt in black sunglasses, dressing for the funeral of a team that didn't know it was dead yet. When the Cavs disembarked at Cleveland with the Larry O’Brien Trophy, James wore an Ultimate Warrior t-shirt and a hat with Kermit sipping tea, representing the “that’s none of my business” meme.

LeBron James is bad. When James rejected Stephen Curry in Game 6, his sneer at Stephen Curry was one with disgust and contempt fit for a villain. When Draymond Green insulted James’ manhood, James reminded him that he was a father of three. Coach Ty Lue, connoisseur of profanity, might call James the “baddest m----- f----- in the NBA.”

On second thought, we should stop calling LeBron James good after all. Because LeBron James is bad. But in the best way possible.

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