LeBron shrinks from tough shots, proves he’s no MJ
LeBron James answered a tough question about his disappearing offense by correctly pointing out he’s also a great defensive player. But defense has nothing to do with nerve; it’s simply hustle and talent.
Playing one end of the floor in crunch time may cut it for Scottie Pippen, but not for the next Michael Jordan, or even for a Bird, Magic, Duncan, Kobe, Barkley or Olajuwon. Supporting players pass. Superstars step up. They take the tough shots. And when they don’t, they threaten to, making it easier for their teammates to step up.
LeBron hasn’t done that. ESPN reports that Dirk Nowitzki has scored 26 points on 8-for-12 shooting when the games have been within five points in the last five minutes of the first five games of the NBA Finals. LeBron James has scored zero.
Dirk matches up to Bird
Critics say Larry Bird is better than Dirk Nowitzki because he shot better and averaged more points and rebounds. But Bird played in the run-and-gun 1980s. I added up Bird’s four best seasons and Nowitzki’s six best and discovered both averaged 24 percent of their team’s points and 21 percent of their rebounds.
Bird was Boston’s third-leading rebounder. Nowitzki leads Dallas in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots every year. He has also outshot his teammates by more than Bird.
Titles don’t measure stars
Bulls fans shouldn’t laugh at the movie clip from the upcoming “Bad Teacher” where Jason Segal’s character argues with a kid over who is the greatest of all time — Michael Jordan or LeBron James. Segal brings up Jordan’s six championships and yells, “That’s the only argument I need!”
If that’s true, Jordan isn’t as good as Robert Horry (seven titles) and barely half as good as Bill Russell (11). Jordan is the best because of how he won, not how many.
Baseball features top athletes
Which sport has the best athletes? Like most critics, I’d always assumed the answer was basketball.
But ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian asked in a recent column to consider baseball. He mentioned that lumpy former All-Star John Kruk, whose infamous “I ain’t an athlete, lady, I’m a baseball player” quote summed up what many think of baseball. He also wrote that Kruk could dunk a basketball in high school when he was 5-foot-9.
Baseball players aren’t the strongest and fastest athletes, but they might be the most well-rounded.
NL is passing AL by
The National League has probably not only caught up but finally passed the American League once again.
ESPN’s top 100 players shows the top six and 14 of the top 17 as either current or former NL players. The AL can’t stay ahead long by robbing small-market NL teams of Miguel Cabrera and Adrian Gonzalez. It will have to grow its own star hitters.
No room for bad sports
Los Angeles Loyola lost the state track title when its pole vaulter shouted a swear word after missing on his final attempt. He was mad at finishing third. He wanted first. He ended up getting nothing when he was disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct, which dropped L.A. Loyola to second in the team race.
Good. Swearing shouldn’t be part of high school sports. By the way, Loyola’s nickname is the Cubs, so their Cubs know even more ways to lose than our Cubs.
Assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge’s Quick Shots on Sports appear Sundays. He can be reached at: 815-987-1383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.