A Rough Night

Shortly after the Bulls 113-91 loss to the hated Cleveland Cavaliers Monday night, the above video started making the rounds on twitter. It shows Lebron James doing his best Michael Jordan imitation on two separate occasions during the game. Lebron took two very distinct moves and used them against the team Jordan used to play for. He imitated those moves to the best of his abilities, they weren’t perfect imitations, but they were definitely imitations. Was he trolling Chicago? Was he paying homage to one of the greats in basketball? Was he exorcising demons that had plagued the Cleveland franchise for decades? I don’t know, but it was beautiful.

Lebron James is a master of basketball. He knows the history of the game. He understands the nuances of the games many strategies. He has made history, time and again, within the game itself. He has been the most talented player in the league for more than a decade, and his basketball I.Q. has developed far beyond that of the average NBA player. He knows the game.

I think most Bulls fans, after seeing the video clip, will have a different reaction than my own. Anger, frustration, sadness for the greatness we’ve seen slip away. Jealousy. I felt twinges of all those emotions, but mostly I just felt awe.

Seeing Michael in his glory. Seeing Lebron acknowledging that greatness, whether out of spite for the Bulls or out of homage for Jordan. It was akin to Homer invoking the gods before one of his epics. It’s like listening to Motorhead cover “Sympathy for the Devil.” No, it’s not the same as the Rolling Stones, but it’s a great band playing a great song by another great band. It’s mind blowing.

Lebron plays basketball on a completely different plain than the rest of the NBA.

Lebron James shooting over David Nwaba. Picture by CHARLES REX ARBOGAST, ASSOCIATED PRESS

He had to have planned it out before hand. He had to have watched a video of MJ making those moves and thought “Yeah, I like that. That’s what I’m going to do in the game.” And then he did it.

While teams like the Bulls struggle to compete and grow, Lebron is sparring with history. To see the desperation of Kris Dunn trying to make his mark day in and day out. To see Lauri Markkanen learning what the NBA is all about one rough night after another. And then, to watch Lebron, a visiting master, using the long forgotten karate of that towns favorite master, in the very dojo that favorite master built. He is on a different level.

It makes me wonder if he has done this sort of thing to other teams and their iconic players. Has basketball become so boring for him that he needs to spice it up by imitating the greats? Or is he trying to keep the spirits of the ancients alive, reminding us all of those who made the game what it is? I don’t know, but from now on, I must grudgingly admit, Lebron James is literally awesome.

This is one of my favorite sequences from the game:


The Worst Records In The NBA:

1. Chicago Bulls: 3-19 .136

2. Atlanta Hawks: 5-18 .217

3. Dallas Mavericks: 7-17 .292

4. Sacramento Kings: 7-16 .304

5. Phoenix Suns: 9-17 .346