In Praise of LeBron

First, take Roget's Thesaurus and throw it in the trash can. There simply are not enough words to describe the multitalented junior. All the familiar cliches seem hollow when applied to LeBron James.

Syracuse-bound forward Carmelo Anthony scored 34 points in Oak Hill's victory over James' St. Vincent-St. Mary's team. Just two points fewer than James. Anthony has the makings of a future college star. He showed a quick move to the basket and surprising strength in backing his man down into the paint again and again. Yet, James was clearly the best player on the court. And the only way to explain that is to fall back on one of those hollow cliches - James' brilliance goes beyond mere stats. In fact, it almost seems that particular phrase was invented solely for James.

James may be a better passer than he is a scorer. And he can score anyway imaginable. Sure, James can bring the crowd to it's feet with a spectacular, no look pass in transition, but James excels at the passes that often go unnoticed. Against a zone, James swings the ball with pinpoint accuracy, delivering the ball to teammates in rhythm for a jumpshot. He possesses the uncanny and almost psychic ability to know when a defender will turn his back, passing the ball so it just clears the defender's head. And like the great passers of basketball yesteryear, yes it's OK to bring up the names of guys like Magic and Bird, James knows where his teammates are at all times and what their next move will be.

So what about defense? Well if your looking for a hole in his game, you need to look somewhere else. James' ultra quick hands make him a terror for ballhandlers. He is able to poke the ball away and start the break before his man even realizes his pocket was just picked.

Take this spectacular play: James slapped the ball in the air away from Oak Hill's Justin Gray. In the same motion, he gathered the ball out of the air and dribbled around his back to get around Gray. Anthony closed quickly as the ball was in the air and the two stars started neck and neck down the court. It took James' about ten feet to leave Anthony in his wake. Again, this is where Roget's comes up lacking. James didn't explode toward the goal, although that would be the most popular description, rather he glides across the court like Gretzky on the ice.

The game was much closer than it should have been. You can thank James for that. Each time Oak Hill was on the verge of putting the game away, James brought St. Vincent-St. Mary's back. In the end, Oak Hill just had too much talent.

There was a definite audible buzz in the Sovereign Bank Arena for this marquee matchup. People came to see what all the hype was about. Long time area hoop fans talked before the game about great high school players from the past. Names like Oscar Robertson, Jerry West and Lew Alcindor. Hardcore hoops junkies who had been following high school basketball for over 40 years. After the game, they talked about LeBron James in the same awed manner.

Inside Carolina Top Stories