Friday, May 22, 2009

Has LeBron Hit the Wall?

Though I've occasionally brought up the possibility in conversation, I never actually believed it to be true. LeBron James is HUMAN. For years, I've lauded Kobe Bryant for his stamina, and marveled at James' unbelievable workload, but it seems that it's FINALLY caught up to him. To be fair, LeBron weighs in the area of 265 pounds and plays the game at a speed that Kobe simply can't match- in fact, few outside of Chris Paul and Leandro Barbosa can, and plays a much more active role in help defense. Combined with last years long playoff run and the Olympics, that's a lot of calories expended in the past year and half or so without any real layoff.

So, is he finally tiring out? I suspect he is, and that it's for the first time in his life. I've personally never seen him looking the way he has at the end of game 1 and near the end of the 3rd in game 2. There's simply no spring in his step. Any basketball player can relate to the feeling of "heavy feet" that inevitably comes with too many days playing for too many hours.

At some point, most players learn that you have to pace yourself. You simply can't go full steam 82 games a season (plus playoffs and international ball), 42+ minutes a game on offense AND defense without tiring by the end of the season. Even ironmen like Iverson took his breaks (on defense, unfortunately), while Kobe Bryant plays at a much more measured pace.

A valuable lesson for LeBron James, but one that could possibly cost him this years Championship. While I believe the Cavs will beat the Magic in 5 or 6 games, Cleveland will be unlikely to beat the Lakers or Nuggets without Lebron playing at full strength.

Of course, this could all be very premature. While there are definite signs, they aren't overwhelmingly convincing. Hopefully, this malaise is simply the cause of a couple of bad night's sleep or a flu he's kept hidden so we can all return to being Witnesses.

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