Facing LeBron

This is such a frustrating blog post to write. I’ve spent the last hour biting my tongue, gritting my teeth, squeezing imaginary stress balls in my hands, and changing my pants.

Oh dear, what did I just say? My pants are fine. I just wanted to wear shorts, okay? Nothing happened. Nothing! Stop it. Let me write in comfort.

For the third year in a row, the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers will face each other in the NBA Playoffs. In 2016, the Cavaliers won the series in six games. Last year, the Cavaliers won it in four.

Their second round series begins tonight. As a Raptors fan, a part of me can’t wait, while another part of me is already yelling in my head at the things I’m going to witness on TV.

I don’t watch many movies, but I’ve seen this one twice.

LeBron James and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Or is it, LeBron James and the Preferential Treatment?

I’m normally too busy eating popcorn to notice the title.

This movie is supposed to be different than the previous two years, though. The Raptors have home court advantage. The Cavaliers are coming off one day of rest, while the Raptors have had three days off.

The Raptors have more depth, while the Cavaliers are using car air fresheners as deodorant.

That is to say, the Cavaliers supporting cast stinks isn’t as good as it once was, but they are finding a way to get by.

You know what? None of that matters to me. I want to support the Raptors and believe they will win this series. I really do. I want nothing more. But only one team has LeBron James on their roster and it’s not Toronto.

In the NBA, the referees seem to favour the veterans and superstars. Fouls aren’t equal. You “earn a call” based on your reputation. That’s not right.

And of course when the best player in the world is playing, referees must not get on his bad side. Oh no.

As a former intramural referee, dating back to Grade 6, I know all about really good players trying to intimidate referees, while trying to be their best friend at the same time. It’s all an act.

When LeBron James gets called for a foul, he puts on the whole, “What, who, me? A foul? I would never do such a thing, good sir!”

The look on his face and the gesture of his hands, coupled with the slouched shoulders are just a ploy so the next call goes his way. As if he needs help.

And when he’s not playing innocent, he’s playing buddy-buddy with the officials, trying to get on their good side and play into their desire to be liked.

It’s all a big mind game. And he gets away with it every time.

Meanwhile, the team from Canada, who is named after a dinosaur movie from the 90s, is the perfect punching bag. Who cares about us? We have a bunch of players no one knows about – they’d be easy to call fouls against.

Game one hasn’t even started yet and I already know OG Anunoby will have a foul called against him within the first two minutes as he tries to guard LeBron.

Guaranteed.

Sure, it’s nice to say that the Raptors have home court advantage and they’re playing a Cavaliers team that is inferior to them on paper, outside of LeBron.

That’s all fine and dandy. The reality is, though, we’re facing LeBron James and everything that comes with him.

The phantom calls. The preferential treatment. The mind games. Everything.

It’s no longer a basketball game. It’s a performance. From the way he dribbles, to how he passes, everything. Everything he does is his way of saying, “I’m better than you.”

Don’t get me wrong, he is better, but I’m a frustrated fan so let me vent.

Defeating him would be our way of saying, “Not today, buster!” I don’t know if we’d say it like that per se, but you get the point.

On Sunday, after the Cavaliers defeated the Indiana Pacers in Game 7, LeBron said he was tired, wanted to go home, and wasn’t even thinking of the Raptors.

That’s a load of horseradish if I’ve ever heard it.

He knows what he’s doing. You can see he’s already gotten into my head and I’m not even playing.

To defeat LeBron James four times in a seven game playoff series would be the greatest accomplishment in the history of the Toronto Raptors. I think they’re capable of doing it. But I also think LeBron James can promise us the last dance and then ditch us.

If the Raptors lose a home game, they have to go win in Cleveland. And once that Cleveland crowd gets rocking because LeBron throws down a big dunk and acts all tough about it, I fear for the Raptors.

In the past, they haven’t been able to battle through that. I’m hopeful this year will be different.

I have a lot of respect for LeBron James. I fear him almost as much as I fear missing out on the last piece of birthday cake. If he were on the Raptors, this post would be all about his gamesmanship and how he does everything he can to win.

As someone who’s played a lot of sports in my life, I can tell you that I hate losing. As a result, I did everything I could to not lose. That’s what LeBron James does.

LeBron James and I are the same, is what I’ve been trying to get at all along.

Okay, maybe not.

LeBron James plays as if he’s two people. Add to that the aura and mystique around him, and the Raptors might as well be playing the Monstars from Space Jam.

This might be the Raptors best chance to take the Cavaliers down. If they can’t, I don’t know where they go from here. Are we supposed to wait until LeBron retires? At this rate, he’ll be playing until he’s 85, making granny grandpa shots with ease.

I don’t know.

But I guess this is why I love sports. The unpredictability will drive me crazy, while also giving me hope because no one knows when the unexpected is about to happen.

Anyway, it should be a stressful series.

Get’cha popcorn ready. As well as an extra pair of pants. For comfort! Geesh.

I took this photo when I was in Cleveland in 2016. Every time I look at it, I interpret it as, “Oh, he’s turning his back on Cleveland.” I’m not sure anyone else sees it that way, but if he leaves again in free agency, don’t tell me this wasn’t a subliminal message.

About Paul

I think of my blog as an all-you-can-read buffet. There's something for everyone and complimentary mints at the door as you leave.
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33 Responses to Facing LeBron

  1. markbialczak says:

    Good luck, Paul. As you say. You never know in sports. The tide has to turn some year …

    Liked by 2 people

  2. great post … Go raptors πŸ€we will get this series

    Liked by 2 people

  3. hehehe I know this is a super passionate rant, but all I can hear is “that’s a load of horseradish” hahahahaha omg that’s the greatest thing ever and I’m going to totally steal it, and use it.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Issa says:

    You are right, Cleveland are inferior to Raptors. Especially this season. They haven’t been as good as last season or the season before. But they have had to claw their way thru games this season. Case in point their last round of playoff games. They used home advantage very well. I was hoping not to face Raptors but what can you do.
    The same thing is happening to my team (Soccer) Liverpool. We have a second leg semi final Champions League tie tomorrow and we are kind of sweating it even though we have a big advantage on Roma. We won the first leg 5-2 but since Roma scored two away goals (a rule) all they need to do is win by a three goal margin and make sure we don’t score. If we score just one goal they whole thing game changes.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Tanushka says:

    Obviously it would be great if I understood the context of this post, but from what I read just now, boy do you take this seriously. I mean I understand the craze around sports, but I personally only get competitive when the Indian cricket team (Gods in India) either play the world cup or against Pakistan. Also, the IPL (the NBA of cricket basically) is on right now. You should check it out.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      Lol I only get this serious for the playoffs which is basically the world cup in my mind. I’ve tried to get into cricket before but it hasn’t caught on. Plus there’s really nowhere for me to watch it.

      Like

      • Tanushka says:

        Oh in India, cricket is a religion. No matter who you are, how much you try to rebel, it’s impossible to get away from it. I remember last year, the semi finals were India vs Pakistan. You cannot imagine the hype. I was in a class and the teacher stopped teaching and asked us to get our phones out so we could watch the match. And in 2011, when we won the world cup, oh god, there were shops up until 4am, distributing sweets. People were breaking shit. It was epic.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Paul says:

        What you just described is the exact same thing as Canada and hockey lol

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Dutch Lion says:

    I too am cheering for Toronto. LeBron’s days are numbered. He can’t win another series singlehandedly, can he? I think the Raptors will win. They’re better. Of course, I thought the Pacers would win too, but maybe they just weren’t good enough. Have fun. Go Raptors!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      The Cavs always score a ton of points against us, I think that fears me the most. For some reason we bring out the best in their 3-point shooters, so we’ll see if they can be contained this series.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dutch Lion says:

        Dude, I almost threw up when I saw the score. I wasn’t able to watch the game for some reason, oh yeah, I had to take my son for a haircut. Boo! Raptors MUST come back. They NEED to win this series!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        They won’t. They’re confidence is crushed. I don’t recognize who they are anymore. It’s over.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Paul. I’m not a big basketball fan, but I sympathize completely with what you wrote. I watched in 2011 as a ragtag bunch of Dallas Mavericks took on LeBron and the Miami Heat, and I became a big Dallas fan during the championship series because everyone loves an underdog story. I had no particular animosity against LeBron … I didn’t even really know who he was, since I wasn’t an avid follower of basketball. But when he was caught on tape mocking our beloved Dirk Nowitzki (who was playing with the flu and had to leave the court to go get sick, but came back), LeBron earned my eternal contempt. NOTHING he has done since then has changed my opinion of him or made me a fan of his. To me he is the epitome of bad sportsmanship.

    In contrast, Dirk is universally loved and revered here in Dallas, not just because he was instrumental in helping the Mavericks bring Dallas’ first (and probably last) NBA championship win to Dallas, but because he is truly a nice and classy guy. He is very respectful to the fans, his teammates, the officials, and even to his opponents. He gives so much to our city and is as humble a man as you could ever hope to meet. He has been faithful to the Mavericks and to Dallas and to the fans (how many times has LeBron changed teams?). There are many here in Dallas who would take a bullet for Dirk.

    So when I am talking to young people and are pointing to people for them to look up to and model themselves after, it is Dirk I point to, not LeBron.

    I truly hope 2018 is Toronto’s year. 2011 was ours, and it is still sweet even seven years later. I hope Toronto gets to experience that same euphoria!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      Hi, thanks for sharing this! Dirk is one of the classiest guys in the league, what a shame LeBron would mock him, especially since he hadn’t won anything at that point. I’m just tired of his theatrics, it’s no longer a basketball game when he’s involved.

      Fun fact: The Raptors head coach, Dwane Casey, was an assistant with Dallas in 2011 and was credited for putting the defense together than stopped LeBron in that series.

      Unfortunately, the Raptors lost Game 1 tonight in overtime after having the lead the entire game. Ugh.

      Liked by 2 people

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