May 31, 2007 – Mark it down as the official date LeBron James became a legendary NBA player. We all knew he’s a great player we just didn’t realize how much of a great player he is until he finally silenced his critics with one of the best games in the NBA history – a game we’ll be able to tell people about for decades to come. However, The Cavs are still one win away from the NBA Finals and The King has to rise up one more time on his own court on Saturday night to make his unbelievable story tale complete. Check out two new highlights videos: Game 5 highlights | LeBron’s 25 point run and some stories and comments after LeBron’s majestic show:
What LeBron James did Thursday night in the Eastern Conference finals was not Jordanesque. It was Mike to a max not even he reached.
Around 8:15 p.m. on the West Coast, I called a buddy who works for the Celtics and left him the following message: “It’s 91-91 and heading to overtime … just wanted to say, you better hope the Cavs lose this game because there’s no stopping LeBron if he pulls this off. They’re gonna own the East for the next 10-12 years. We’re done.”
This wasn’t the work of a conspiratorial league working to get its next prodigy into the Finals as quickly as possible. This was the work of a special 22-year-old absolutely determined not to lose no matter what.
This performance was one that’ll be talked about for ages, a testament to greatness that’ll rank right up there with Reggie Miller’s 8 points in 8.9 seconds, Michael Jordan’s 63-point coming out party in the Boston Garden, or his “flu game” in Utah, Magic Johnson’s 42-point outburst while playing center in Game 6 of the 1980 finals.
James scored the last 25 points for Cleveland, 29 of their last 30, and his final shot, a drive past three Pistons, slicing their famous defense to shreds, left whatever remains of the Pistons’ swagger in pieces on the Palace floor. You say this no matter who you root for: LeBron James, on Thursday night, gave one of the greatest performances in the history of the NBA playoffs.
No matter the words, James’s Game 5 may be the sort of stuff that saves leagues. You can almost hear the advertisements now: “Can the best player in the world beat the best team in the world? The Finals … Thursday at 9.”
The Pistons have teetered so long against the Cavaliers, you really can’t be surprised. James has risen so quickly, conjuring all the great superstar performances in playoff history, there might be no stopping him now.
Now THAT was like Michael Jordan. Maybe better, because Jordan never quite did anything like what LeBron James did to the Detroit Pistons.
I’ll be able to tell people about this game for decades to come. It has all the facets of a great tall tale. Instead of Paul Bunyan chopping down forests with a single swing, LeBron was decimating the defense with a single drive to the hoop.