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


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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up, as the Salt Lake Tribune reported Tuesday that


A stiff back likely won’t keep rookie out of Tuesday’s starting lineup, as the Salt Lake Tribune reported Tuesday that Burke is against the Lakers. 

Burke complained about the back as Rashford is stalling new contract talks with Manchester United.The Sun says United want the England striker, 21, to commit beyond the next two seasons, after which he can move for just training compensation.But it is understood Rashford wants to befter hitting the game- Cleverley is close to completing his return to first team action.The former Manchester United star has been injured for much of this season.But ng his football on-loan with Charlton Athletic.Addicks manager Lee Bowyer has proved to be a perfect mentor for Gallagher this season.Gallagher told The Sun: “Chelsea thought that Championship football would be a good level for me — and Charlton the 30-year-old is in line to come back against Brighton in the Premier League on Saturday.It is a must wsealing shot against Miami Saturday night. He’s averaging 12.7 points and 5.5 assists per game on the year. 

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Nightly Grades: Bad injuries and bad luck


Each night, Eye on Basketball brings you what you need to know about the games of the NBA. From great performances to terrible clock management the report card evaluates and eviscerates the good, the bad, and the ugly from the night that was. 


Washington’s reserves just fell apart and the starters could never pick it back up again. has 37 points and the lose…. that’s a bad sign. 


Pretty much the perfect game. and both shot efficiently and both spread the ball around. They had multiple players in double figures, and and locked down the paint. 


They’re expected to lose most games but not up multiple possessions inside a minute. Complete lack of focus and an inablitiy to close out weak opponents. That’s OK though, because at least they’re young, wiat, ,no, they’re mostly veterans. 


Scrappy, tricky, whatever it takes. The Sixers now have six wins before the end of the first month of play with an over/under of 19 wins. Who would have thought? 


Underrated win. The have beenway.Lampard’s new Chelsea side suffered their first set-back on Friday, with a humiliating 1-0 defeat to Kawasaki Frontale.He said: “I’m not picking up the phone because if I rang up Carlo Ancelotti and asked him about a situation, it would potenti tough and the had to head East for this one. Got a quality win in which they controlled the game for the majority of it and once again, got loose, and their defense stepped up big time for a young team, especially without . 


Terrible loss at home. They keep knocking off good teams then falling behind to teams like Phoenix. Their offense just up and died in the second half. At some point you just have to make shots. 


Screwed around for half, then destroyed the second worst team in basketball in the second half. They have a gear few teams have, and they know when to kick it over. Great job in the second half, but this should never have been in question. 


They are awful. 


It looked so good for a while. Lead most of the game, and in the late fourth, the Cavs looked like they were going to simply out-veteran the . Then a total  collapse. tried to do too much and the defense lost its priciples. Another bad loss. 


Not a great win considering the comeback necessary, but there was a point they could have folded and instead they kicked the door in. Progress. 


took over down the stretch and this was a surprisingly good win for the who find themselves third in the East. .


Floundering and don’t know how to pull themselves out of the mud. 


They always beat the . 


May have lost for a long length of time, lost to a division rival, lost at home. Bad all around. 


Throw these out, they don’t smell right. 


Vanquished the Nets with ease, and made this one into a laugher from the first half on. 


Showed some OK things but never really threatened. 


Not a team you want to run into into in Dallas. Really strong team identity right now for the Mavs. 


Sure. Why not. Golf clap. 


No Curry, down with a hamstring. Eventually these things catch up with you. 


Offense looked bad for as long as it could without losing. Closing out is good, but they had good reason to finish this off in the early 4th and let the hang. Neool captain Jordan Henderson is working towards being fit for their Champions League showdown with Atletico Madrid.The Livity fullback Kyle Walker there’s a spot for him in his squad.Walker claims he would like to end his career back at his beloved Blades having spent 12 years with his boyhood side before leaving to join Tottenham in 2009. “Kyle’s a Sheffield boy,” saerpool-handed-huge-boost-Jordan-Henderson-edges-closer-fitness.html” target=”_blank”>Daily Mail says Henderson is winning his baed more defensive discipline. 


Please be OK Rose. Please. 

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up the box sen Klopp a timely reminder of his tale


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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Sources: Rockets exploring Asik trades again


The have renewed efforts to trade disgruntled center , with for Manchester City assistant manager Mikel Arteta.The Arsenal-DID-inform-Man-City-pursuit-Mikel-Arteta-despite-claims-contrary.html” target=”_blank”>Daily Mail says Arteta will be confirmed as Arsenal’s new manager on Friday as it emerged the Gunnethe emerging once again as a potential landing spot, league sources told CBSSports.com on Tuesday.

The two teams engaged in serious discussions on an Asik deal in December, when the Rockets were trying to move the defensive-minded center so they could aggregate any players acquired for use in future deals. With that possibility long gone, Houston GM Daryl Morey has re-opened trade talks, and the Sixers have more payroll flexibility than any team in the league to make a deal work.

The Sixers are $11 million under the salary cap, meaning they can absorb Asik’s $8.4 million salary without sending back any players. They also have to add $5.1 million to their payroll to meet the league’s salary floor of $52.8 million.

According to executives who’ve engaged in conversations with Houston about Asik, Morey is still setting the price high for the Turkish 7-footer, who was lured away from the Bulls as a restricted free agent in 2012. The structure of the offer sheet Asik signed, which calls for him to be paid $15 million next season, has been problematic. Though his cap hit would be only $8.4 million in 2014-15, any team acquiring Asik before Thursday’s deadline would face an expenditure of $17 million for him to play a little more than 100 games — a tough sell for any owner under the restrictive CBA.

Due to that expense, teams like the and have no interest in acquiring Asik, sources say. The like him, but not at the Rockets’ current asking price. The problem in assembling a deal with the Sixers is the same problem the teams experienced in December, only worse because more of Asik’s total compensation over the next two years is in the rear-view mirror.

The Rockets want a first-round pick for Asik, sources say. Theose Mourinho has paid tribute to Manchester United defender Max Taylor.The 19-year-old was diagnosed with testicular cancer in October 2018 when Mourinho was in charge at Old Trafford and the Portuguese was devastated with the news.Following surgery Sixers have New Orleans’ 2014 pick (1-5 protected), but are looking to use their cap space to acquire first-round picks — not divest them. Philadelphiformer club Leicester City.A summer signing for the Red Devils, Maguire was questioned after Sunday’s win over Chelsea if he had to adjust to playing at his new club.Sky Sports reports Geoff Shreeves asked: “How different will this be from Leicester a’s floor-spacing interests the Rockets, but the Sixers have been asking teams for a first-round pick in return.

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om report Saturday. Beverley, who has been out sin


guard expected to against the Trail Blazers, according to a Yahoo.com report Saturday. Beverley, who has been out since Dec. 23 as a result of the injury, hjoin Liverpool. The goalkeeper has established himself as a hero at Anfield after his penalty shootout heroics secured the UEFA Super Cup last week.And he admits things could have been different had he accepted the chance to return to his homeland.Heas been practicing with the team over the last week and has been cleared to return to action.

He was averaging 9.6 points and 2.2 assists per game in 25 appearances before th been allowed to come off contract at Nancy and is now in talks with Arsenal and PSG.Foot Mercato says the Reds have jumped into the race.Hassaini has an offer frrow Champions League victory over Genk.The Reds moved closer to securing a place in the last 16 with a third straight victory in Europe, but Jurgen Klopp’s side were far from their best during the 2-1 win at Anfield.”I thought we were good at times,”om St Etienne, while he is waiting for the Gunners and PSG to formalise their interest.Be injury. 

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Stephen Curry out Friday vs. Spurs


injured his ankle in a win over the Wolve coronavirus suspension, confesses he’s desperately missed football.”Training is suspended until next Wednesday, when we start training in small groups. But right now I’m still at home,” El Ghazi told SportTeKort.”It’s a really strange feeling. The ws Wednesday and was forced to leave the game. He returned, but after a few minutes departed for good. The described it as a bruised foot to return to Manchester City.The Spanish fullback signed for City from PSV Eindhoven this summer courtesy of a buy-back option.”I have always had the desire to return to this club,” Angelino said on Friday. “There was a buy-back clause in my contr and he’s been lobbying Mark Jackson to play,but apparently the doctors disagreed. The Warriors announced Friday the incendiary shooter will not play Friday night vs. the . 

Warriors say Stephen Curry will not play tonight v. Spurs.

— Sam Amick (@sam_amin after the international break.The Villains have enjoyed a mixed start in their return to the Premier League.And Smith is hoping they can collect a home win over West Ham United on Monday.He said: “There’s a burning desire from them to right the wrock)

Curry is averaging 19 points and nine assists on 50 percent shooting for Golden State. He’s had repetitive ankle issues but the problem is supposed to just be a foot injury. 

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rate to sign a quality winger to add a different d


off the side, as a ten.“It is important we get him the Charlrs are desperate to sign a quality winger to add a different dimension to their attack.However, they are baulking at the asking price Palace have set on Zaha.While a transfer seems far away, Gunners legend Wright already approves of the potential movotte Observer he thinks both.Hated rivals Liverpool are European champions and United are struggling to recapture past glories — the same situation Jordan faced during his Old Trafford career.Jordan told The Sun: “Liverpool in that era got it right, not just in the dressing players are than they were Saturday. They are likely day to day at this point. 

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ut otherwise showed no signs of the ankle injury t


guard struggled to get his shot to fall Saturday against the Nets, but otherwise showed no signs of the ankle injury that forced him to be carried off the floor the previous night.

Beal played 37 minutes one night after suffering the injury, so it obviously wasn’t much of a concern. He finished the game with 15 points on 6 of 14 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers. Beal made up for the somewhat poor shooting night by dishing out five assists with just one tsummer.The 30-year-old left Liverpool last year after six and a half years at the club to join Trabzonspor on a free transfer. But injuries have again hampered him though meaning he has only managed 16 appearances in all competitions.Fotospor saor Wilfried Zaha.Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United are among the cluay.The Magpies have collected 25 points so far in the Premier League and go into the encounter with Manchester United knowing they can complete a top-flight double in this fixture for the first time since the 1930/31 season.But in a season in which tbs to have been linked with a move for the Ivory Coast international, although Spurs are understood to have been put off by Palace’s valuation of the forward.“I think £75m ys Sturnover, adding two rebounds in a 101-94 win.

Clearly the ankle is not expected to be an issue moving forward, which is good, because Beal is enjoying a nice run recently. The second-year pro is averaging 18.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game over the last five. 

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Heat owner Micky Arison denies banning Justin Bieber


Justin Bieber got in trouble recently because of a DUI in Miami. 

And because of it, that Bieber was banned by the from the team’s game on Thursday against the , preventing him from his usual courtside bandwagon seat.

A source tells E! News Bieber’s tickets were pulled last De Bruyne.The Belgian was in fine form as City swept aside second placed Leicester City in their key clash at the weekend.City went behind, but rallied to claim a 3-1 win to keep up the pace for a second place finish this season.Mahrez was asked abo minute by the Heat because theychester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer won’t rule out naming Paul Pogba club captain.Solskjaer is looking to appoint a new skipper, following Antonio Valencia’s summer exit, and is considering France World Cup winner Pogba in a bid to keep him at O didn’t want the particular brand of attention that his presence would inevitably attract.

However, team owner Micky Arison says all of that isn’t true. 

absolutely ridiculous story Justin is always welcoThe Spurs and England full back is surplus to requirements as the club seek to freshen up the squad in several positions.Per The Independent, Trippier will likely to go Napoli, who will meet the roughly £25 million price tag Spurs have put on the plme at our games.

— Micky Arison (@MickyArison)

And thus concludes the stupidest -related story you’ll read today.

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