There is only one way to accurately describe what happened last night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland:
Perhaps not so coincidentally, the three letters above represent the same WTF number of shots LeBron James made last night.
Really, WTF doesn’t even describe last night’s game. Cleveland and LeBron pretty much rolled over, on their home floor, in a must win game, in a performance that even the Atlanta Hawks would have considered soft.
Every sports news outlet from Bristol to Bangkok will be dissecting LeBron’s poor play last night and assessing what it may or may not mean for his future in Cleveland. I thought I’d throw my two cents in as well, although with a little bit of a difference perspective.
So, since everyone is reacting to last night’s “LeBracle” that made all of Quicken Loans Arena groan, boo, and exit early, we’re counting down the top 10 reactions for you this morning.
Here they are, along with a hastily made photo collage that I think pretty much sums up last night. (Memo to Mike Brown: when Jose Mesa is trying to kick you in the face – with the full support of the city of Cleveland, I might add – you know you have problems.)
Top 10 Reactions to the Quicken Groans LeBracle:
10. Even former Browns QB Derek Anderson thinks the Cleveland faithful deserved better and were justified in booing.
9. Kentucky coach John Calipari was apparently in the arena last night. After the game, not even Worldwide Wes himself could convince Calipari to add LeBron to his next recruiting class at Kentucky.
8. After the game John Starks called LeBron. He requested royalties the next time LeBron decides to imitate him in a big game. (Note: Legally, LeBron would not be required to pay John Starks royalties because he did not completely infringe on Starks’ patented big stage collapse. Starks, you see, at least went down shooting.)
7. While waddling dejectedly to their cars, multitudes of Cleveland fans sought solace by reminiscing about the less painful and crushing memories of Earnest Byner and Jose Mesa.
6. At halftime, Cleveland native Brady Quinn implored his new teammate Tim Tebow to use his powers of divine intervention to compel a Cavs comeback. Tebow responded that he would, as long as the Cavs showed up to play the second half. They never did.
5. Lost in all the disappointment and finger pointing over Prince James’ woefully underwhelming 3-14 shooting performance and overall lackluster play is the fact that LeBron did actually accomplish something amazing: he made Skip Bayless more impressed with himself.
4. Mike Brown was left speechless for the second time this series…
…wait, never mind, based on the sideline shots of Mike Brown, he is always speechless.
3. The game hasn’t even been over for 12 hours and already LeBron’s elbow is getting sick and tired of answering questions about LeBron. LeBron’s elbow even said that now his kids are asking him “what’s wrong with LeBron?”
The fact of the matter is that LeBron’s elbow said an MRI that had been scheduled for LeBron will no longer be necessary. So see? Nothing to worry about. (LeBron and the rest of the Cavs will, however, be undergoing EKG assessments at the behest of owner Dan Gilbert. He wants to make sure his players still have normal heart activity since they showed none on the floor last night.)
2. We now know why Jay-Z included these lyrics in his epic song “Empire State of Mind”:
Me I gotta plug a special and I got it made,
If Jesus payin LeBron, I’m paying Dwayne Wade,
Although I’m not sure Tim Tebow really wants LeBron on his team after last night’s performance, we can certainly understand why Jay-Z would rather have Wade and his ring. (Hey, DWade may have received a huge assist from the refs in getting his one ring, but at least he attacked the basket and took control of the game to put the refs in a position to hand him a title.)
And finally, the #1 reaction to last night’s Quicken Groans LeBracle:
1. All those New York fans clamoring for LeBron James to come to the Big Apple? They just had a harrowing realization: they already have LeBron, and his name is Javy Vazquez.
Don’t believe me? Read this quote:
“I just want him to be aggressive…knock somebody on their butt…You have to be mean. Go out there and show them we show up to play, show up to kick your guys’ [butts]. And believe me, that will take care of itself.”
No, that was not Mike Brown describing LeBron James after Game 5. That was White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen talking about Javy Vazquez when he pitched in Chicago. After failing under the pressure of the Windy City, then succeeding in the obscurity and absence of pressure in Atlanta last year, Vazquez is now back in New York shrinking on the big stage.
Is LeBron much better at basketball than Javy Vazquez is at baseball? Sure. But could you compare LeBron’s Game 5 performance to a typical Javy Vazquez big game start? Unfortunately, you absolutely can.
Sure you need another Javy, New York? Just sayin’…
Now that I have that out of my system, let me close with a little perspective.
Last night’s game was awful. In fact, it was beyond awful. If you’re a Cleveland fan, there is not one positive that you can take from last night’s game other than the knowledge that Shaq can still dunk when left wide open. Hooray.
As bad as last night was, and as epically bad as LeBron James was in a really big spot, the series is not over yet.
Cleveland has already beaten Boston once in the Garden. And LeBron, despite how badly he played last night, has shown us in the past that he is capable of virtuoso performances in big spots. Remember his epic 4th quarter against Detroit a few years back? Remember his tremendous performance as recently as Game 3 in this series?
Though it doesn’t seem like it after last night, LeBron and the Cavs are still very capable of winning Game 6 and forcing a Game 7, although the championship experience, maturity, and momentum of the Celtics certainly will make it extremely difficult.
Difficult…but not impossible.
The unfortunate truth of the matter if you understand the sad history of sports in Cleveland is that if Game 5 does end up being LeBron’s final home game in his hometown, it ended about how it “should” have: in crushing disappointment.
In fact, because such a cursed, downtrodden city has placed so many hopes on this one person to deliver them from sports purgatory, it is almost cravenly predestined that it would end with those same cursed, downtrodden fans booing the man who was supposed to be their sports savior. I really hope that’s not the case, but still less than 12 hours removed from the filth I watched last night from the Cavs, it is really hard to see the silver lining right now.
On Thursday night it will be up to LeBron and the Cavs to burst through the storm clouds hovering over the city and their season to give fans a reason to keep hope alive.
Otherwise, another era of Cleveland sports will be doing its best Cuyahoga River impression…by going up in flames.
Full Disclosure: I unfortunately listened to Mike & Mike this morning, and Mike Greenberg read something by someone that described last night’s game as a “LeBacle”. I thought “LeBracle” actually sounded better. I’d like to give credit where it is due for coining the idea for that phrase, but I’m not sure where it came from first. If you know, let me know so I can provide a link. Thanks.
Update: I think this was the article. And it’s a good one too, by John Hollinger.
* – LeBron James photo credit: David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images via ESPN.com
* – Javier Vazquez photo credit: Hawk Fantasy Sports
* – Skip Bayless photo credit: ImageShack
* – Mike Brown photo credit: BareNucks.com
* – Kevin Garnett photo credit: FunFunNewsNews.com
* – Earnest Byner photo credit: NYTimes.com
* – Jose Mesa photo credit: DayLife.com
* – LeBron James chalk photo credit: Free-Extras.com