Sixteen years ago, I attended my first NBA game. It was a DARE field trip and a Minnesota Timberwolves team on the cusp of relevance was playing the Utah Jazz. Karl Malone was there. John Stockton was there. Tom Gugliotta was probably there. I bought a David Robinson pennant. I peed next to Flip Saunders.
Sixteen year later, I attended my second NBA game, mostly to see LeBron James.
I’m no fan of LeBron. I’ve poked plenty of fun at him in the past and he broke my heart beyond description during last year’s Finals. Even if I always hate him, he now commands my eternal respect. Watching him play basketball live was beyond beautiful; it was frightening.
It isn’t just that he’s large. And powerful. And fast. And graceful. It’s that he combines all of those things together in a way that makes “violent” the only proper adjective.
LeBron James plays basketball like the US Marine Corps conducts war. It’s surgical, it controls the tempo (usually fast), it’s powerful, and it is both emotionless and remorseless in its precision.
So, yeah. James and the Heat beat the hometown Wolves 103-82. Everyone had their scrubs in by the middle of the 4th quarter. But, I got to see the best in the world.