Friday, November 19, 2004

Able to leap tall defenders in a single bound...

Charlotte, N.C--I've seen LeBron James dunk since he was 14. I've seen hundreds of his games, practices, his dunk contests, his commercials. But I've never seen him throw down a dunk like he did in Thursday night's 106-89 win over the Bobcats.

Those of us in the media don't react when we see high-flying dunks, we're used to seeing them. We see them everyday. But just as everyone at the Charlotte Coliseum was on their feet when James exploded like 14 feet in the air to thrown down an alley-oop from Jeff McInnis, my fellow writers and I were left to just look at each other and exclaim "wow." For those of us who not only take pride in being icy emotionless islands at courtside, but are used to seeing these physical feats from James, that is saying something.

When I looked to my left, I saw Cavaliers' play-by-play man Joe Tait, who has seen 1,000 times more NBA dunks than me, was shaking his head. Cavs TV play-by-play man Michael Reghi was almost out of his seat, extolling him as an airborne ballerina. But none of that affirmed what I just seen was special as something I experienced a few minutes later.

It wasn't until I was walking out of the media room to return to the court after halftime. In the tunnel leading to the floor, a towel draped over his head, LeBron stood and glared at a television showing first half highlights. It was a Bobcats TV feed, so it was showing their exploits from the first 24 minutes. But LeBron was willing to wait for it, he wanted to see it for himself, even though the rest of his team was already on the floor warming up.

Finally, the highlight came. It showed him soaring over Steve Smith not once, but three times. I stood and watched with LeBron, equally interested in seeing the replay. When it was over, he pulled the towel from his head, closed his eyes, and smiled while staring at the ground.

Sometimes he even amazes himself.

--For more, check out Charlotte Observer columnist Scott Fowler's take on the amazing jam.

--Reach me at bwindhorst@thebeaconjournal.com

Take care all,
Brian