Let’s be honest, there isn’t a whole lot to glean from a 38-point loss in the NBA. There are no stats, metrics, or data-driven analysis of the game that can occupy this space, or that I would feel good about wasting a reader’s time with. This thing -- a Cavs 128, Mavs 90 -- was just ugly, and for all intents and purposes, this is the ultimate Rick Carlisle "Flush It” game.
Said Carlisle: "It was a horrible performance by us and a great performance by them. We simply must play better."
The fact of the matter is, the Cavs (at 12-2 off to their best-ever start) are great, really great, and the Dallas Mavericks are bad; really bad. LeBron, Kyrie, and K-Love combined for more points than the entire Mavs team through the first three and a half quarters, and Kevin Love made more threes than the entire Mavs team combined. Suffice it to say, the whole ‘Team Tank’ thing took another encouraging step forward to the Lonzo Ball, Markell Fultz, Josh Jackson Sweepstakes. And as Fish details here, it could be more than one if Mavs trade things are left up to Bill Simmons.
One thing that should be noted about Friday’s pathetic excuse for basketballing is that it marked the 1,000th game in the career of LeBron James. In that time since being drafted No. 1 out of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in 2003, James has amassed 27,138 points, 7,174 rebounds and 6,938 assists. For the kids counting at home, that’s 27.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game over 14 seasons.
Love him? Hate hime? LeBron James is perhaps the most polarizing great player in the history of basketball. Michael Jordan was massive in his own right sure, but in a day and age where social media and "Embrace Debate'' rules the planet, James has set the world on fire over the last 10 years.
He has accomplished about as much as anyone could hope to accomplish in his time in the NBA. He has won three NBA titles, four MVP awards, two Olympic Gold Medals, and been named an All-Star 12 times. The scary thing is, at 31 years old, there is no signs of him slowing down to the point where he's not still special.
Over the last 14 years we have watched LeBron go from seeming cocky entitled brat to a fiery and dominant competitor, and it may very well have been the Mavs that set about that change in his personality when they beat his Heat team in the 2011 finals. Following that Fnals loss, James seemed humbled and disappointed in himself, setting on a change in him that would be felt across the rest of the NBA for years to come.
I don’t really subscribe to the whole "MJ Vs. Bron'' debate. They are two totally different players in two totally different eras. What I do know, is that if I had to pick one player in the history of basketball to start an NBA franchise with, it would be James, and it really isn’t even close for me. He has done more with less than any player I have ever seen, and it is truly remarkable.
Yes, Kyrie is good. And yes, Kevin Love and J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson are fine. But LeBron (19 points, 11 assists, five rebounds) has arguably taken more of a burden on his shoulders than anyone in NBA history, and I for one, have become a fan.
So on a night where the Mavs were totally outclassed in every sense of the word on Friday, take a minute to appreciate LeBron and his 1,000 career games. Forget about Dirk’s field-goal percentage, Justin Anderson’s boneheaded plays, or Andrew Bogut’s plus/minus. Without LeBron, the NBA would be a much more boring league to watch, and a much less exciting sport for me to cover as a writer.
Following this debacle, which we discuss in more depth on DB.com Boards, the Mavs return home to face a very beatable New Orleans Pelicans team on Sunday night, and will try there best to get the taste of Friday’s game out of their mouths.
Said Dirk (15 points on 7-of-18 shooting): "We’ve just got to get through this stretch somehow and get a win at some point.”
But for now, at 2-13,“Team Tank” is still very much on track to accomplish its totally organic objective.