LeBron doesn’t need 61 to validate his greatness or MVP status

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Just when LeBron James was starting to move comfortably through the prime of his career without the albatross that haunted the beginning of it, he managed to usher a new elephant into the room.

The first albatross, of course, was that LeBron James was not — and never will be — Michael Jordan. But we had all grown to accept that, in large part because James himself did. The loss to Dallas in the 2011 Finals changed him, and refocused him on the more appropriate goal of simply trying to be LeBron James. 

Being LeBron James is enough, as he has proved time and again. But then James went out and dropped a career-high 61 points on the hapless, helpless Charlotte Bobcats on a random Monday night in early March, and all it did was cause more frustration and confusion about his standing in the game.

Just as most of us have accepted that LeBron is not Michael, we also must come to grips with the fact that he is not the guy who scored 61 points Monday night, either. That is not to diminish James’ accomplishment, or to say that it hasn’t tilted the MVP race in his favor and away from Kevin Durant. It is, instead, to afford James the highest compliment.

He’s so much better than that.

He’s so much more than an historic number in the points column of a box score.

What comes to mind today as far as the two-man race for MVP is, “Your move, KD.” There’s this notion that, with his emphatic, efficient and devastating 61-point performance, James has positioned the proverbial chess pieces on the MVP board in such a way that he’ll soon be able to say, “Checkmate.” This shortsighted horse-race mentality is the same one that had everyone believing that Durant was somehow leading the MVP race when he went on a one-man-wrecking-crew binge after Christmas, with Russell Westbrook down with a knee injury.

Neither is true. What rings true to me is that James is the man to beat in the MVP race not because he scored 61 points on Monday night, but in spite of it.

James doesn’t have to — and shouldn’t have to — put up a scoring number like that to remind us how great he is. Scoring doesn’t define him because he’s so much more.

But in today’s short attention span theater, with so much noise in the atmosphere, most of us need an occasional reminder that a basketball player of James’ stature can — and will — unleash a virtuoso scoring game from time to time. Our appetites demand it — especially those of us who came of age with Jordan’s NBA and were then spoiled by the Kobe Bryant-Allen Iverson era that followed.

But once the excitement dies down, once the social media buzz subsides and the clicks stop clicking, we can return to that quiet, calm place that allows us to recognize James’ overall greatness for what it is.

He can play five positions and guard five positions. He could just as easily get 20 rebounds or 20 assists as 61 points if that’s what the game required — or, if that’s what the MVP horse-race mentality demanded. 

The man is shooting a career-high 58 percent from the field while averaging the fewest field-goal attempts (17.4) of his 11-year career. Put another way, that’s 3.4 fewer attempts per game than he averaged through his seven seasons in Cleveland, when everyone still wanted him to Be Like Mike.

Is he better thag.The defender has been linked with Juventus this week.However, his brother Luan wrote on Instagram: “Marquinhos has never agreed terms with another club.”L’Equipe adds Luan told fans who contacted him, “Marquinhos will stay at PSG”.It’s been suggen Mike? I’m not even going there. Such a leap would take the horse-race mentality I abhor to new depths of impatience and irrationality. But it’s far from a leap to say he’s the best basketball player on the planet now, and that the MVP trophy is his to lose as long as he continues to put on his headband (and mask, as the case may be). Even on his rare night of sl focus from his players for Saturday’s clash with Liverpool.The Blades have made an impressive start to their first Premier League campaign since 2006-07 to sit 10th after six games, but face their stiffest challenge yet when they host the European coring indulgence, James Since 1985-86, only four other humans — Bryant, Karl Malone, Gilbert Arenas and Tom Chambers — have scored 60 points on 33 or fewer field-goal attempts.

But the truth is, I am only responsible for my own MVP vote and can’t control (much to my chagrin) the ebbs and flows of the “race,” such that it is. So let’s play along for a moment and consider my earlier point of what Durant has to do now to get back into it. What now, KD?

The Thunder have 22 games left, most of which presumably will include Westbrook, who is five games into his latest return from knee troubles. The Bobcats, who’ve generously surrendered the three most recent 55-plus scoring games in the league (James’ 61, Carmelo Anthony’s 62 and Deron Williams’ 57), are not on the schedule. The Thunder just beat Charlotte on Sunday, and Durant only scored 28 points. (More fuel for the horserace crowd, you see.)

Ten of Oklahoma City’s remaining games come against teams that are in the bottom third of the NBA in defensive efficiency: Philadelphia, the Lakers (twice), Dallas (twice), Denver, Utah, New Orleans (twice) and Detroit. Seven come against teams that are in the top third of the league in defensive efficiency: Houston (twice), Chicago, Toronto, San Antonio, the Clippers and Indiana.

What does that mean? It shouldn’t mean anything if, for example, Durant answers with a career-high 60 or 65 against the tanktastic Sixers on Tuesday night. But if he did, the short attention span theater would reopen for business, the buzz machine would roar back to life and we’d get another 24-hour news cycle of “analysis” telling us that Durant had “pulled even” with James in the race for an award that should be determined on an 82-game body of work rather than blips on the regular-season radar.

What if Durant did it on Sunday against the Lakers on national TV? Would that move the needle more? 

No more than LeBron’s 61-point outburst moved theions League clash against Ajax this week.The Blues are hoping to get a positive result against the top side in the group.Ajax have two wins from their first two games, while the Blues have one win and one loss from those matches.”We know it’s a massi needle for me. They’re both so much more than that, and choosing one over the other for MVP requires a much deeper dive — not to mention a much broader appreciation of their talents.

 

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o the Timberwolves.Wolters scored in double

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guard put together a strong performance Tuesday, in a 112-101 loss to the Timberwolves.

Wolters scored in double figures for just the second time in five games, and he put up 14 points in 31 minutes, his best total since Feb. 18. He shot 5 of 6 from the field and made two 3-pointers, while adding three rebounds and three assists go go along with two turnovers.

Wolters struggled with his shot early in his rookie sea.However, the Belgium goalkeeper says he gets along with the Brazilian.He told the Liverpool-uncovered-Simon-Mignolet-losing-place-best-keeper-hes-seen.html”>Daily Mail: “Me and my missus are building a house in Spain. I speak a few languages and lasson, but has sorted out his issues recently. He shot 44.8 percent in the month of February and is already up to 54.9 peHarry Maguire this summer.The Leicester City and England centre-back is a top target for both clubs.United are desperate for a centre-back, while City see him as a replacement for Vincent Kompnay.However, Leicestershire Liveclaims that Leicester willrcent while averaging 10.8 points per game in six March cub World Cup in Qatar.The Reds will be a participant in the 2019 edition of the tournament as they won the Champions League.It appears the tournament will be held in the Gulf state.A meeting was held in Paris on Monday, where Qatar were confirmed as ontests. 

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boss Harry Redknapp.Bowen joined West Ham last mon

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guard was at itg world-class talent Dad could’ve signed for Hammers boss Harry Redknapp.Bowen joined West Ham last month from Hull City.“My dad Sam used to play and when he was at Merthyr Tydfil he came to West Ham for a trial and Harry Redknapp wanted to sign him,” he told the Lond, says the Football Association’s Kelly Simmons, reports BBC Sport.English top-flight sides are currently permitted to spend 40% of their turnover on wages, under FA rules.The USA’s NWSL has upts playing for Chelsea as a supporter is a “great feeling”.The winger spoke to the match programme for tonight’s clash with Manchester United.”I’ve been a Chelsea fan since I joined and, trust me, when you play for the club you support, it’s a massivped its salary cap by nearly 20% to $ again on Sunday, scoring a game-high 34 points on 13 of 27 from the floor, including 4 of 11 from 3-point land, and 4 of 6 from the free throw line in a loss to the Raptors on Sunday.Curry also chipped in with seven assists, four rebounds and one steal while logging 43 minutes of game action. He is averaging 20.4 points, 8.0 assists and 6.2 rebounds over his last five games.

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ing 1 of 2 from downtown, and 7 of 8 from the free

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guard scored a team-high 30 points on 11 of 19 from the floor, including 1 of 2 from downtown, and 7 of 8 from the free throw line in a 121-112 win over the Magic.

Parker did all of hi excited wnja Matic has fielded a bumper offer from MLS.The Sun says Matic is in talks with MLS side Chicago Fire about a lucrative move.And the exit door may even open in the next few weeks.Chicago plan ited from Saudi Arabia is cooling.A report suggests that the Public Investment Fund in the country may be wavering on their idea of buying the Tyneside club.A report in The Shields Gazette suggests that Manchester United are the main target for the Sto make Serbian Matic their ‘designated signing’ and areorking with Allan Saint-Maximin.Bruce feels the only problem with the winger is that he “needs to pass the ball more”.”Well, look, I said when he walked through the door that he’s going to excite people the way he plays, the way he is,” he s damage in 34 minutes of game action, also adding five assists and one rebound. He is averaging 19.0 points and 5.3 assists over his last four games.

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VIDEO: Brandon Knight hits the winning three to beat the Knicks

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The needed a furious fourth quarter effort to try to avoid dropping an embarrassing loss to the midfielder Nathan Redmond admits they’re “embarrassed” after their home thrashing by Leicester City.The Foxes ran out 9-0no.The Mirror says City are weighing up a bid for Upamecano who is also a target for Arsenal.The Premier League champions are struggling in defence having lost Aymeric Laporte until the New Year.Pep Guardiola’s cover has not impressed with John Stone winners over the Saints at St Mary’s, with Youri Tielemans, Ayoze Perez (3), Jamie Vardy (3) and James Maddison all on the scor . had a big flurry of points in the fourth, hit a big shot or two, and it still wasn’t enough because drilled this cold-blooded 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds left to give the Bucks their ninth win of the season.year-old West Ham academy graduate made his debut for the club against Liverpool on January 29.His second appearance on Monday night also came against the Reds, and Cole was pleased with what he saw.”I thought his concentration and focus on Monday ni

Knight finished with 25 points and seven assists.

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the Cleveland Cavaliers. Neal shot 8 for 15 from t

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guard scored 23 points off the bench Wednesday as Milwaukee defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers. Neal shot 8 for 15 from the field over 31 minutes as he went 4 for 5 from downtown. He added 3 for 3 from the free throw line. pton boss Ralph Hasenette’s absence has impacted Arsenal.The Gunners blew a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Watford at Vicarage Road on Sunday.”I don’t want to accuse anyone, you could say that us the attackers could have killed the game off and score a third goal, so I ahuttl was disappointed at the wasteful nature of his side against Newcastle United.The Saints dominated possession and created the best chances in the game at St. James’ Park.But the home side pulled off a smash and grab and won The shooting guard also had four assists, a rebound and a turnover in the game. Neal had his biggest scoring effort of the season Wednesday. He had put period with a 2-1 win over Wolves at Vicarage Road on Wednesday.The Hornets were ahead at the break thanks to goals from Gerard Deulofeu and Abdoulaye Doucoure.Pedro Neto got one back for the visitors in the second-half, but Watford held on to securup just eight points in his last game.

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time at Everton.Lukaku spent four seasons on Mers

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center did not forer Milan striker Romelu Lukaku says he values his time at Everton.Lukaku spent four seasons on Merseyside and became a crucial memran defender, 34, is said to have received offers from French side Lyon and Borussia Dortmund, but opted to return to his home country by joining Flamengo. A return to the Premier League was also on the cards as Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City registber of the Everton setup under two different managers, establishing himself as the club’s top goalscorer in the Premier Monday’s game in Milwaukee, .com reports. He will be reevaluated Wednesday before the team’s home game against the Spurs.

Faverani is mas played his way into starting recognition.Burn shone in their 4-0 friendly win over Birmingham City.The Seagulls began with a back three at the weekend, consisting of Shane Duffy, Lewis Dunk and Burn.Potter spoke about the flexibility involved withissing his sixth straight game due to a knee injury. He has averaged 4.4 points and 3.5 rebounds over 37 games played.

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up the box sen Klopp a timely reminder of his tale

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The got solid minutes from forward Tuesday, though he did not light up the box sen Klopp a timely reminder of his talents ahead of next month’s Champions League final against Tottenham .The 19-year-old striker showed his match-winning capabilities when he scored the only goal in Liverpool under-23s’ win over their Club Brugge cocore in the 114-97 win over the Pelicans.

Acy scored just 3 points on 1 of 4 shooting, and snapped in apparent Manchester United gear ahead of his move from Crystal Palace being confirmed.United will announce the signing of the 21-year-old fraptain Sergio Ramos became Europe’s most capped outfield player as Spain edged closer to Euro 2020 qualification with a 1-1 draw in Norway.Ramos’ 168th cap also makes him Spain’s record appearance maker, surpassing goalkeeper Iker Casillas.Saul Nigueom Crystal Palace on Friday.Wan-Bissaka completed his medical on Thursday, and he is now set to bealso went just 1 of 4 at the free-throw line. He added a season-high 10 rebounds in 23 minutes, while tossing in one assist and one block.

Acy has appeared in all but one of the team’s games since being acquired from the Raptors. He is averaging just 3.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game for the Kings. 

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swipe at former club Manchester United.Herrera lef

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forward underwent an MRI that on Friday, according to Comcataken a swipe at former club Manchester United.Herrera left United for Paris this summer after coming off contract and admits the commerciinished the season.The Blucerchiati beat champions Juventus 2-0 on Sunday to finish ninth on the table.Giampaolo said, “Beating Juve is always satisfying. We gave our fans something to shout about, and we put the icing on a good season.“We tried al aspect of his old club left him cold.He told So Foot: “Since I’ve been here, what I’m seeing is that I’m in ast SportsNet Northeast. Wallace had been complaining about knee soreness which caused him to go see a doctor on Thursday. He is expected to undergo surgery and could be in danger of missing the remainder of the season. “So he’s sitting there, he had no idea,” head coach Brad Stevens said. “I feel bad for him. I told you many times, he’s a warrior. He plays through anything and everything.”Wallace played in 58 games for the Celtics tFootball Federation Australia (FFA) has appointed Tom Rischbieth to commercial general manager for the country’s professional leagues, reports, /.His role with Australian soccer’s governing body covers the A-League, W-League, Y-League and E-League. He arrives from the UK-based Sports Rights Management.his season, averaging 5.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.

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