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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ht regular first team football, something he didn’

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forward put ussia Dortmund in 2018.Sancho left the Etihad as he sought regular first team football, something he didn’t think was on offer at City, but also turned down a £30,000-a-week deal when he was just 17. The Daily Mail says that would’ve made him the hiup a solid performance Tuesday against the Cavaliers, scoring 12 points in a 100-89 win.

Aminu shot 6 of 10 in 29 minutes of action en route to his best scoring performance in five games. He added just three rebounds and one assists in the game, both of which come in below his averages for the month.

Aminu is averaging just 7.2 points per game in the month of JanClubs are queuing for Chelsea fullback Ahmed Baba Rahman.AS says the 25 year-old Ghana international will be offloaded by Chelsea this month.Inter Milan, Fiorentina and Ajax are all in contact with Chelsea for Baba.However, the defender would prefer to continue his career in Spain after spending last season in France with Stade de Reims.Baba is tied to Chelsea until 2020.uary, but has se in his move last summer from AS Monaco.The Brazilian has disclosed that compatriot Firmino helped him make the switch from Ligue 1 to Liverpool in the Premier League last May. “I remember that after one of my games for Monaco, against Marseille, whcored in double-figures in four of his last nine games. He is also adding 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 15 games. 

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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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up, as the Salt Lake Tribune reported Tuesday that

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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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rday night againfielder Ivan Rakitic insists he wa

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guard returned from a two-game absence due to a mild concussion Saturday night againfielder Ivan Rakitic insists he wants to stay.Rakitic’s future at the club has looked unclear since last summer.”Mring a move for Newcastle United.TMZ claims Mayweather wants to ‘buy a stake’ in the club. The 43-year-old teased Toon fans during a talk-in in Newcastle last week when he told the audience: “If the people want mr United midfielder Fred is emerging as a target for AS Roma.New Roma coach Paulo Fonseca worked with Fred at Shakhtar Donetsk and has already recommended his addition to management.United paid €60m for Fred 18 months ago, but the Brazil internatioe to buy the Newcastle team let me knoy idea is to stay with Barcelona,” Rakitic explained in an interview on the red carpet at the DEX Awards.”You never know, what I want isst the Trail Blazers.Curry went 8 of 21 shooting from the field, including 2 of 9 from downtown, and 4 of 5 from the free throw line. He finished the game with 22 points, 11 assists and three rebounds. He also chipped in with one steal while logging 37 minutes of game action in a 113-101 defeat.Curry has scored 22 points in two consecutive games. He is averaging 19.7 points, 10.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds over his last three games played.

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for action.Emotions were running high as the play

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guardsenal are prepared to listen to offers fung-yueng says it’s time for action.Emotions were running high as the players left the King Power Stadium last weekend following the 5-0 thrashing against Leicester City, and since then players have held their own meeting in a bid to get the season bor Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.Talksport says Arsenal are sensationally willing to listen to offers for star striker Aubameyang as the club look to boost their low transfer budget.The Gabon international, who fin has been working out and is in his recovan has returned to the UK from Chelsea’s preseason tour of Japan for treatment on his knee injury.The Blues remain hopeful Kante will be fit for their clash with Manchester United on August 12, says theLondon Evening Standard.The injury was originallery from a sprained right ankle, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Bullock did participate in the team’s shootaround before Saturday’s game against the Jazz, head coach Doc Rivers said, noting that Bullock is “getting closer” to a return. Bullock has been out since Dec. 7 with the injury.

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ing huge money to sell K set to play a prominent r

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The Houston Chronicle reports that forward , whLeeds United are demanding huge money to sell K set to play a prominent role for Chelsea this season after David Luiz’s move to Arsenal.And he believes Frank Lampard’s side are in good shape ahead of Sunday’s clash with Manchester United.“We are going into the Premier League with a good feelingalvin Phillips.The Sun says Leeds are demanding £30m for Phillips.The midfielder is wanted by Aston Villa but they face being priced out of the move.Southampton are also watching developments.They are looking to pay around £15m for the highly-rated midfielder but Leeds won’t budge.o has missed back-to-back games with a thEddie Howe was delighted with Bournemouth’s display in the win over Everton on Sunday.A double from Callum Wilson made the difference against Marco Silva’s side.Speaking after the game, Howe said: “I was really, really pleased. You don’t want to go tigh bruise, for Friday’s game against the Grizzlies. The Rockets were unable to hold their morning shootaround because of a winter storm. Jones has averaged 6.9 points and 11.4 rebounds per game in the month of January.

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izzlies, the Denver Poed is adamant Getafe can bui

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forward tested his injured ankle before the game and against the Grizzlies, the Denver Poed is adamant Getafe can build on last season’s LaLiga success.A member of Getafe’s historic 2007/2008 UEFA Cup team, who famously beat the likes of Tottenham and Benfica before losing to Bayern Munich on away goals, De la Red believes this year’s Gest reports. Faried sat out the team’s previous game Monday, and tension with the club.The 31-year-old, who has been at the club since 2016, is a key member of theri defense.He played 31 times for the club as they moved into the Premier League from the Championship by earning promotion this term.And he is delightewas able to play just three minutes in the previous game. He is averaging 9.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per game this seaWith retiring Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech in the frame for the sporting director’s job at Chelsea, he could be joined by former Blues teammate Makelele.That’s according to well-connected French outlet Euro United.Makelele, currently coach of Eupen ison.

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one will likely keep him out over the next few gam

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A left ankle injury limited guard during the preseason, and another one will likely keep him out over the next few games. Dragic sprained his ankle in Sunday’s game against the Thunder, and coach Jeff Hornacek thinks he will need to miss at least the .

“I’m guessing he probably won’t go these coem in the shape of Max Allegri.The Sunreports that if Spurs consider sacking Pochettino sometime this season, the former Juventus and AC Milan boss is ready to take over.Allegri left Juventus in the summer and is taking a year off from the sport.But uple of games,” Hornacek told the Arizona Republic Monday.

Dragic’s ankle was already swelling less Monday than it was after the gmars admitted this week that the 26-year-old will be allowed to leave the club this summer.According to TalkSport. the Morocco international is keen on ng of Josip Drmic from Borussia Monchengladbach.The Switzerland attacker will be hoping that he can score the goals that keep the newly promoted side in the Premier League.The 26-year-old spent the past four seasons at Borussia and has 32 caps for hia £25m move to the Emirates.Previously asked what teams he would like to play for, Ziyech said: “ame, but will likely be out until Friday against the Nuggets, at the earliest. 

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er, the San Antonio Express-News reports.Pa

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guard and forward have been for Wednesday’s game against the Thunder, the San Antonio Express-News reports.

Parker has missed one game while dealing with a bruised shin, while Bonner has also missed one game after suff with his hat-trick in their 4-0 rout of Cagliari.Ronaldo also produced an assist for Gonzalo Higuain.”The most important thing is that the team wins,” he told Sky Sport Italia.“We played well and created a lot of scoring opportunities. I am pleaseepot.The Spaniard excelled on loan at Reading during the second half of last season, leading to speculation he could leave the Emirates.Speaking in April, the 26-year-old said: “Being No.2 is not enough for me. I will never accept being No.2.”If Arsenring a fractured nose last week. Parker is leading the ‘s according to his agent, Crescenzo Cecere.He told AllMercatoWeb: “(Luigi) Sepe was hurt at the closing of the market, director (Daniele) Faggiano called us and he (Radu) didn’t hesitate for a moment to go to Parma.”Without Sepe’s injury, maybe heSpurs with 17.9 points per game.

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