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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et during Tuesday’s win over the Pistons.Rubio wen


guard enjoyed another solid performance as he filled up the stat sheet during Tuesday’s win over the Pistons.Rubio went 5 of 9 shooting from the field, including 1 of 2 from downtown, and 4 of 4 frssive £40million deal to stay at Leicester after snubbing Arsenal.He now hopes City’s in-demand starlets like James Maddison, a Manchester United target, will follow suit.Rodgers said: “Hopefully they’ll see how we’ve worked together here and the om the free throw line. He finished the game with 15 points, nine assists and four rebounds. He also chipped in with two steals while logging 28 minutes of game action inNasser Al-Khelaifi he wants to return to Barcelona this summer, according to Catalan sources.Mundo Deportivo says Neymar made it clear to Al-Khelaifi that he’s had enough of life in Paris.”I do not want to play here anymore, I want to go back to my h a 121-94 victory. Rubio has dished out at least seven assists in seven of his last eight games played. He is averaging 10.6 points, 8.0 assists and 4.0 reinjury.Kane has been out of action since New Year’s Day when he ruptured a tendon in his left hamstring at Southampton. The striker had surgery to reattach the tendon to the bone and it is thought he could return to training in April, with a view to bounds over his last five games.

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ard , Yahoo! Sports reports.Thornton has av


The and are discussing a deal Kings guard for Nets forward and guard , Yahoo! Sports reports.

Thornton has averaged 8.3 points on 38.1 percent shooting in 46 games for the Kings, and his playing time is being curtailed by the presence of Ben McLemore.

Evans has averaged 2.7 points and 5.0 rebounds over 30 games played. Terry, whose name has come up in trade rumors ivier Giroud.Giroud’s selection has again been questioned this week given the lack of action he’s seen with Chelsea.But Varane said, “Compared to what I saw in training, Olivier is pArsenal attacker Reiss Nelson admits he’s fortunate to be a pro footballer.Nelson grew up on the Aylesbury Estate in south London — one of the roughest in the capital and described by one newspaper as ‘Hell’s waiting room’, where the pitfalls of drhysically ready. “He is a hard worker and when he has less playing tinvolving the Cavaliers, has averaged 4 to land a bumper boot deal.The Sun says Maguire, the world’s most expensive defender, has NO footwear deal despite his £85million move to Manchester United.But Nike, Adidas, Puma and Under Armour want him on a long-term contract worth £700,000-a-s.5 points on 36.2 percent shooting in 35 games played.

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nsively, scoring just four points on 1 of 3 shooti


forward returned from a calf injury on Thursday, but did little offensively, scoring just four points on 1 of 3 shooting and 2 of 4 from the free throw line in a 103-89 victory over the Spurs.Kirilenko also added eight rebounds, six assists and onmouth defender Dinesh Giose Mourinho plans to start Eric Dier against Bournemouth.Mourinho caused a major shock on Tuesday when he substituted the England international – bringing on Christian Eriksen after just 29 minutes of the Champions League match against Olympiakos. Sllela has linked up with National League South side, Billericay Town, on loan until the end of the seasonrket closing last night, Neymar remains a PSG player, despite efforts from Real Madrid and former club Barcelona.And his teammates are pleased the Brazilian is staying.One player source told RMC: “It was a bit of a relief. “It was important that he r.Managed by former Premier League midfielder, Jamie O’Hara, Billericay are sat in 15th position after 25 matches and the e steal while logging 26 minutes of game action in his first appearance since Jan. 27. He has averaged 4.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists over his last two games played.

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during a 107-104 win over the Chicago Bulls. Wrote


backup point guard had a fairly solid performance on Saturday night during a 107-104 win over the Chicago Bulls. Wroten led the Philadelphia bench in scoring. Wroten shot 4 for 11 from the field with three 3-pointers in six attempts to scose to being a top four contender.Ancelotti passionately believes that Everton are just three players away from challenging for the Champions League.“I think the Champions League is a realistic target for Everton next season…yes it’s realistic,” ore 11 points. He played 23 minutes and added five rebounds, a steal and a block. The 20-year-old defender Toby Alderweireld insists they go to RB Leipzig in good spirits.Spurs fought back from a goal down to draw 1-1 at Burnley on Saturday ahead of Tuesday’s second-leg Champions League round 16 clash in Germany. RBL lead the tie 1-0 on aggregat out of Washington has been in double figures in scoring in each game this season and has yet to really heat up believes that Newcastle United are performing better this season.Many fans were skeptical about whether Steve Bruce had what it took to replace Rafa Benitez as manager.And while Newcastle are only a place and point off the relegation zone, Schar thi with his shot.

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s 110-107 loss to the Mavericks Friday.It’s


guard scored a team-high 28 points on 12 of 20 shooting in his team’s 110-107 loss to the Mavericks Friday.

It’s his second time hitting that scoring mark in his last threticket holder Cameron Robson received a letter on Tuesday detailing how they believe he ‘intended to incite the crowd’ ahead of their Premier League defeat by Liverpool.Robson, 23, had volunteered to wave a giant flag while the players walked out ande games. Dragic has recorded seven assists, five rebounds and ty boss Pep Guardiola plans to overhaul his squad this summer.The Telegraph says as many as five first-team players could be set to leave the Etihad at the end of the season.Attracting interest from City is Villarreal’s Pau Torres, 22, who made his Sphree steals in 38 minutes of action Friday. He has have several other positions that they want to strengthen before the transfer window closes on August 8.Among them include a new centre-back, with former Chelsea ace Cahill now the No 1 priority following his release from the Blues.The Englishman isaveraged 19.5 points and 6.0 assists in 36 games played.

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the court and was ejected Friday night against the


In the midst of a losing streak, center let out his frustrations on the court and was ejected Friday night against the Warriors.Chandler shoved Warriors forward Marreese Speights which resulted in his first technical foul in the fourth quarter. Minutes later, he received a second technical and was sent to the shde Valverde would be happy if Eden Hazard and Kylian Mbappe arrived this summer.Chelsea star Hazard and PSG striker Mbappe are both being lined up by Real.And Valverde said, “If these kind of players [Hazard and Mbappe] arrive, it would be nothing buowers early.Chandler scored only six points on 2 of 10 shooting, and 2 of 3 from the free throw line. He also chipped in with 12 rebounds, Bayern Munich chose to pull back from a deal for Manchester City attacker Leroy Sane over the player’s wage demands.Sane was the subject of intense speculation during the summer transfer window, with the Blues finally slapping a price tag of between three assists and two steals while logging 30ter United.Just 16, Williamsen caught the eye in action against Paul Pogba.He told VG after the 1-0 reverse, “It’s sick to think about. I have a poster of him in my room. It’s sick.”The game wasn’t so sick, but it was what it was. Pogba made it so sp minutes of game action before the ejection. He has 11-plus rebounds in each of his last six games.

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-Constitution reports.Antic missed the team


center is in Wednesday’s game against the Nets, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Antic missed the team’s most recent game Sunday due to back spasms. He has averaged 5.0 points and 2ade former midfielder Lamrentford are keeping Neal Maupay from playing in preseason.Sky Sports says Maupay will not play in their friendly against Dynamo Kiev due to the ongoing uncertainty over his future.The Bees have withdrawn the 22-year-old from the squad and given him pard their No.1 contender to replace Maurizio Sarri at Stamford Briled for a reality check from fans has they hit a form blip.Inter meet Cagliari today attempting to stay in touch with Serie A leaders Juventus.Conte said, “Our idea is always to go on the attack, even when we score the first goal. We must try to scdge.Derby issued a statement on Tuesday confirming Lampard had been given permission to speak to Chelsea, with the appointment edging closer.Chelsea are now h.9 rebounds through 26 games.

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25 points on 9 of 12 shooting from the field, inc


forward turned in another flawless shooting night on Friday, scoring 25 points on 9 of 12 shooting from the field, including 5 of 7 from downtown, and 2 of 2 from the free throw line in a 124-112 win over Philadelphia.Nowitzki knocked down a pair of triples in the opening s expanding.Tottenham and Arsenal have now joined the race for Cucurella, according to La Razon, after Chelsea were linked earlier this week.Getafe signed Cucurella on loan from Barcelona for the entire season last summer, and the deal included an opperiod and in the third quarter. He did all of his damage in 27 minutes of game action, also adding seven rebounds, four assists and one block. He has averaged 16.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 asnst Vitoria on Thursday.Down 2-1, substitute Pepe scored two free-kicks with ten minutes remaining to win all three points for the Gunners.”Every new player usually needs time for adaptation,” he said in his post-match press conference. “Pepe is a vesisd over their negotiations for the sale of Raphael Varane.In 2011, Martel over saw the €10m sale of an 18 year-old Varane to Real.He recalled to RMC: “In the operation was included a bonus that would have been reached if the player had twice won thets over his last five games.

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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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