Last week LeBron James was crowned King of the NBA in his Akron, Ohio court, accepting the honors on the grounds of his high school. But the rest of the NBA apparently didn't get the memo. LeBron has yet to win any NBA championships, and there's no guarantee that the winner won't be Denver, Los Angeles, Boston or Orlando. Still, LeBron has played 109 minutes and scored 108 points. He dropped 47 on Atlanta on Sunday; when he plays, you forget that there's another team on the court.
The rest of the NBA playoffs shaped up nicely with blood, sweat, jeers, and all the drama requisite of our annual spring basketball overdose. Who will play King James’ fool — or spoiler?
To see who Ibrahim is picking for the finals, click here
Well, there's this guy you may have heard of, one Kobe Bryant. He has three NBA titles, the previous new-next-Jordan mantle, and he's aching for a post-Shaq L.A. title. First he'll need to get past The Neutralizers. Kobe is not The Neutralizer, he’s been playing The Neutralizers. The Houston Rockets funneled Kobe Bryant into a wall of Yao Ming in the first game. Too Bad the force of nature that is Yao stress fractured his foot and is sitting on the sidelines alongside fellow all-star Tracy McGrady and Dikembe Mutumbo. Now the title of The Neutralizer goes to NCAA champion and Alaska native Shane Battier. Kobe got a technical foul for screaming at him, "You can't guard me!" Battier has used his long arms to extend the Houston defense. On offense, Houston has applied pressure with lightening-quick guard Aaron Brooks, who at 6 ft and 160 pounds is the smallest guy on the court having the biggest series of his 2-year NBA career. Magic Johnson's analysis: "The Lakers have yet to adjust to this Rockets team.” But the Rockets will have to play on pure emotion, and it's doubtful if that will be enough to carry them over the Lakers for two more games. The Celtics are also playing undermanned but with a champion's heart.
Conventional wisdom tells us that it’s going to be Kobe vs. LeBron. Just please, no one tell the kids in Denver — you know, the ones with Chauncey Billups as floor general and his Dirty Dozen of seasoned NBA soldiers. The Nuggets play basketball like the Justice League fights cosmic criminals. “Birdman” Anderson brings back memories of Dennis Rodman and the Nuggets can legitimately claim that they're the team to beat.
My pick for the finals? Cleveland and Denver. But I want each series to go seven games. And I'm sure the NBA (and TNT, ESPN and CBS who broadcast the games) wouldn’t mind.