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Sports Watching & Wondering

John Randolph Rogers

This was the season that LeBron James became the new King of the NBA. I am confidently predicting that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win the NBA Championship and that James will be selected as the Most Valuable Player.

At this point, there is not anything or anyone, standing between them and a new Dynasty.

King James does have worthy contenders. There is Kobe Bryant of the Lakers, Dwayne Wade of the Heat, and Chris Paul of the Hornets. They are all magnificent players, but James now exceeds them all. He does have an unfair advantage, since he is about 6'5" tall, weighs about 265 pounds, has both brute strength and the grace of a ballet dancer. He could always use his speed and power to drive to the basket, but this year he has also developed into an expert three point shooter. Now, opponents who guard him have the unpleasant task of selecting the poison that they think will hurt them the least.

When James is on the court, his demeanor reminds me somewhat of two of my favorite players, Magic Johnson and Julius "Dr. J." Erving. It was clear to anyone who ever saw Magic on a basketball court that he was as happy as a man could be. He brightened up courts with his smile, and he won basketball games with his style. If it had been possible, he would've happily played basketball 24 hours a day and he would have tried to win every game. He loved everything associated with basketball, and it was a joy to watch him play. Before Magic came to the NBA, many of the players complained about how hard they had to work, and they let it be known that they were too important to be bothered by mere fans. Then Magic came along and changed the NBA world. The fans loved him, and he loved them back.

I think that Dr. J. was the first big NBA star to humanize the game. He played it with an intense elegance, and when he was on his way to the basket, he would just elevate over any opponent and dunk the ball. He made dunking just another weapon in his scoring arsenal. He participated in many charity events, and he made himself accessible to the fans. He clearly understood the responsibilities of being a star, and he embraced them. We all wanted to go to the Forum, when the "Doctor was in." Even now, I enjoy the commercials that he made for Dr Pepper, when he sincerely says;" I'm a Doctor."

James has a combined many of the best characteristics of these two great players. This, along with his own athletic skills, gives him an opportunity to be one of the most important sports figures for about the next 10 years. He is as comfortable in Cleveland, as a shark is in the ocean. Some pundits expect that he will eventually move to New York, to play for the Knicks. He would be great in New York, but if he ever moved there, he could only be a Prince. He is a King in Cleveland. It is always better to be a King.

I cannot think of any way that is more wasteful of television time than watching Charles Barkley try to learn to play golf. Successful golf players have incredible self discipline and they spend countless hours practicing their craft. Barkley was an extremely talented basketball player, but many experts considered him belligerent and un-coachable. He was usually overweight, and almost always a malcontent. However, I would enjoy watching him learn to ice skate. If he repeatedly fell on his head, he would likely take his lessons seriously.

Isiah Thomas is now the head basketball coach at Florida International University, in Miami, Florida. His career and personal life have gone from rags to riches to rags. This is an opportunity for him to start rebuilding his career. It must've been a humbling experience for him, when he could not even get a job with the lowly Clippers. He does know the game and he has more experience than almost anyone else in the world. So, if he puts that together, the sky may be the limit, and his comeback could make a great movie.

NFL Draft Pundits have been yakking constantly about the Draft for two months. They are always wrong, except for who will be picked first. Most of them are so bad at their jobs that they ought to get bail out bonuses.

USC is reportedly close to signing Michael Cooper to be the head coach for the women's basketball team. The history of USC was that the men could play winning football and the women could play winning basketball. The Lady Trojans have not made the NCAA tournament in their last three years. This could be a dream job for the talented and popular Cooper.

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