Wait, You Mean That Donkey’s Voice Isn’t Garrett Morris?

I must admit that I’ve been in and out of the NBA playoffs a little more than usual this year. In the first round, I picked up on the Golden State/Dallas series only when it seemed like a real possibility that Golden State could win. In the second round, I — and I certainly wasn’t the only one — followed the dramatic Suns/Spurs series with great interest, all the while cursing the NBA for not reseeding and saving what was surely to be the best series of the postseason for the Conference Finals. I also picked up on the Pistons/Bulls series, although it wasn’t nearly as competitive as I’d hoped — yeah, it went six games, but after Detroit got out to a 3-0 lead, it was only a question of when — not if — they were going to win.

Then after the Western Conference Finals — which is usually the most compelling round in the NBA postseason — turned out to be a turkey, I was about to give up and concentrate on English Premier League soccer. Besides, I had missed the first game (it came up against the season finale of 24), and I assumed that those wily veterans from the Pistons would have about as much trouble with the youthful Cavaliers as Lindsay Lohan has with draining off a six-pack. But I was intrigued enough by the close scores of the first couple of games to start paying more attention. I’m glad I did.

By now I’m sure every single superlative in the English lexicon has been used to describe LeBron James’s performance in Thursday night’s game 5 victory over the Pistons in Detroit. I probably uttered most of them out loud to myself while I was watching the game in my kitchen. So I hope I’m not too redundant here. But I don’t think I have ever seen a more jaw-dropping display of athletic prowess and single-handed game dominance than I witnessed last night. Forget about comparisons to Michael Jordan, I’m talking about any sport. Now a cynic might say that when an individual player scores the last 25 points for his team and the last 29 of his team’s 30, that something is wrong, that the NBA is more about superstars than team play. And they might have a point. But to watch LeBron’s performance unfold and gain in intensity as the game rolled on through two overtime periods and he was making ridiculous shot after ridiculous shot was to have all of those pessimistic thoughts melt away and to be left with just pure amazement and excitement to have witnessed a game and a performance that you will — here comes the cliche — tell your grandchildren about. It was a stunner.

LeBron has been hailed as the new Jordan, as the player to bring the NBA back to the level of popularity that it enjoyed during MJ’s prime. As far as I’m concerned, he is the new Jordan and if he can’t get people following the NBA, no one can.

Did I mention LeBron is only 22 years old? When I was 22 years old, I couldn’t handle the pressure of performing in my friend’s softball league, much less the NBA playoffs. Wow.

Much less impressive than LeBron James are the Milwaukee Brewers. Before their victory on Thursday night over the Marlins, they had lost six straight series, posting a 6-13 record in those 19 games. Now to go along with a suddenly sluggish offense (only Hardy and Fielder are the exceptions), is the dreaded injury bug. Rickie Weeks was just put on the 15-day DL with problems with his right wrist — the same wrist that sidelined him for a couple of months last year. Ben Sheets has had issues with his groin and hand blisters (insert tasteless joke here) — nothing serious, but enough to get Brewer fans concerned about Sheets’s overall durability.

As much as I’d like to see the Brewers on the same torrid pace with which they started the season, it is easy to be lax about their recent struggles. After all, no other team in the NL Central has been able to gain much ground on Milwaukee. Perhaps this same attitude has pervaded the Brewer dugout. Maybe what the Brewers need to improve is for the Cardinals or Cubs to go on a little bit of a run here — give ’em a little scare. On second thought, forget it. The Brewers are a young team and they have enough issues to worry about. Let’s keep the rest of the division under .500. Because Milwaukee might not be much above .500 for the remainder of the season.

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