|Everybody loves LeBron|
By Dan Shanoff
Page 2 columnist
When the St. LeBron Fighting LeBrons tipped off against the top-ranked Oak Hill Warriors at the Cleveland State Convocation Center, Page 2 was right there –- taking in the whole spectacle from the couch:
Last fashion note: the coaches. St. LeBron's coach, Dru Joyce, goes natty with a gray blazer and white mock turtleneck. His counterpart at Oak Hill, Steve Smith, goes with a gray blazer and black mock turtleneck, to match his team's ugly uniforms. No. 1 in high-school hoops -- perhaps; No. 1 in style -- hardly.
5:30 remaining: The St. Vincent-St. Mary's point guard is this tiny kid. Dru Joyce III. Coach's son. He keeps jacking up shots. If he keeps this up, tonight's car ride home might consist of "Did I name you Lebron? No, I named you after me and my daddy. So don't shoot like I named you LeBron!"
3:27 remaining: Oak Hill is leading 10-3, running at will. LeBron is standing around. His teammates look awfully nervous. But who isn't enjoying the quick clock of the high-school eight-minute quarters?
3:27 remaining: Back from the first commercial break. I have learned that my collection of broken pump needles for sport balls might be obsolete; that Mr. T has sunk to new lows; and that "Star Trek" found a young kid who resembles Patrick Stewart for the new movie.
3:04 remaining: LeBron finally scores. More to come, I'd imagine.
2:20 remaining: Oak Hill subs in this kid -- this man-child -- named Byron Joynes. 6-foot-9, 300 pounds. Jersey number 21. He's like the fat guy in Eminem's posse in "8 Mile."
2:07 remaining: Big-Boned Byron has no hands.
1:48 remaining: Big-Boned Byron loses another ball off his flippers. Oh, but before that LEBRON JUST PUT DOWN THIS SICK BREAKAWAY TOMAHAWK DUNK. Like, a head-at-the-rim-right-arm-stretched-parallel-to-the-floor dunk. SVSM is down 13-7.
1:11 remaining: LeBron dumps an assist from the lane to a teammate out behind the 3-point arc. Good. SVSM down three.
:21 remaining: LeBron hits a layup off a lovely entry pass from this mammoth of a teammate named Sian Cotton (No. 34), not to be confused with former prep-hoops wunderkind Schea Cotton, who was LeBron before LeBron was LeBron, but who now starts at shooting guard for the Where Are They Now Files.
:01 remaining: Big-Boned Byron blows a bunny at the horn. LeBron is only down one, 13-12.
During the commercial break, I begin to get the feeling that Progressive Insurance is going to have a little bit of exposure throughout the game; I make a note to self to hit the horseshoes championship at Mohegan Sun (oh, wait a sec ... it's about bowling?); and my DirecTV feed shows a promo for something called "Thunderbox" -- starring eight unknown boxers, plus a rapper named "Fitty Cent." Blissfully, back to the action:
6:34 remaining: After one of Oak Hill's "fitty" All-Americans hits a 3-pointer to put the Warriors up 16-12, coach Steve Smith gets miked up for a little chit-chat with America. Here's what I know about Oak Hill: They play a ton of basketball, and they do a lot of SAT prep to get their players eligible for D-I hoops. My high school experience was similar, except replace "basketball" with "Strat-O-Matic" and "no dating." If only there was a special school for me back then ...
6:23 remaining: LeBron (let's call him "LBJ," like I did in my notes) finishes an alley-oop from Cotton, his best friend and, oh-by-the-way, a 285-pound All-American football player. SVSM down five, 19-14.
6:06 remaining: LBJ alley-oop dunk off backdoor cut. Hits double-figures in scoring.
5:11 remaining: LBJ throws a no-look pass to teammate Romeo Travis, who makes the layup, is fouled and converts the free throw. SVSM takes the lead 21-19.
4:36 remaining: Big-Boned Byron commits an offensive foul. Decision made to put moratorium on any more comments about Byron, because it's just a little cruel. He's only a high-school kid. He looks like he could swallow Dru Joyce III whole, but he's just a high-school kid. LeBron's team is winning, 25-22.
2:58 remaining: During the commercial break, I'm rocking out to the Gatorade ad with the soundtrack by Doug E. Fresh, then I'm confused by the message from the Bod fragrance people... Am I supposed to put that on before I play hoops? And what is that supposed to do for me?
2:23 remaining: As Oak Hill hits a 3 to tie the game at 25, I'm still mulling over the graphic showing the map of where these two teams travel during the season. I have a question: Do the kids get to keep their frequent-flyer miles, or does the NCAA consider that a violation?
1:20 remaining: LeBron throws another no-look assist, and his team is up 29-25. The issue on the table is this: If ESPN.com called me during my senior year in high school and offered me zillions of dollars to skip college and write for them, let's just say that I'd be ineligible for the college newspaper as fast as you can say "Cash." (I strongly suggest you all take a second to talk with your kids about how you have similar expectations for them, as you would have had for yourself.)
:25 remaining: Our first shot of Gloria, LeBron's mother. Quick note that she's sporting a green No. 23 SVSM jersey that says "LeBron's Mom" on the back. I think they should just swap the "Irish" letters on the front of their jerseys for "LeBron." Then, Gloria could just have "Mom" on the back.
Halftime: LeBron's team is leading 30-25. He's got 13 points, five rebounds, four assists and a steal. Potential Oak Hill recruits get to hear LeBron coach Dru Joyce II say this about Steve Smith's team: "Even though they got a lot of Division I guys, they don't play many of them." Just what you want to hear.
7:40 remaining: LeBron Show picks up. He grabs a rebound and puts back a basket (32-25).
7:14 remaining: LeBron swoops to the hoop (god help me, I sound like Clyde Frazier) for another deuce -- and one (35-27).
4:08 remaining: The nameless, faceless Oak Hill squad hits a 3-pointer to knot the game at 37. Apparently, LeBron's scream only served to fire up Warriors. He may have to tweak that a little in the League.
4:02 remaining: St. LeBron takes a timeout. There's a shot of LeBron doing all the talking in the huddle. He scores, he assists, he rebounds, he coaches, he cooks, he cleans ... (there's more -- see Eric Neel's Page 2 column).
:45 remaining: LeBron and Cotton trade turns scoring, and SVSM takes a 48-41 lead after LeBron does a little crossover shimmy at the top of the key and drains a 3.
:01 remaining: SVSM second-fiddle Romeo Travis' tip-in puts his team up 50-43. I sense foreshadowing of the upcoming quarter –- or perhaps I just sense that I will see another Progressive Insurance ad in about 10 seconds.
6:50 remaining: The LeBron player hits a 3-pointer. 56-43, and the kid has 29 points.
6:12 remaining: LeBron goes down hard to the floor after being fouled driving to the basket. Cut to his mom. She's concerned. If they cut to John Lucas' house, he's probably concerned. If they cut to Nike headquarters or Sonny Vaccaro's condo or David Stern's living room or the den of the dude who is going to sell the arena floor-mop on eBay an hour after the game -- they're all concerned. The only one caught smiling is the referee, who LeBron banged into on his way to the deck ("I just got run over by the LeBron James! I'm never going to wash my body again!")
Coming out of the timeout, I'm still not convinced about this whole Bod cologne proposition ... but on a totally unrelated topic, we find out that LeBron's school is the alma mater of Jerome Lane, who is famous for being the inspiration for Bill Raftery's trademark catchphrase: "Send it in, Jerome!"
Ooh, look, LeBron is doing some kind of funky handshake with a teammate! It's a good thing I have this game on TiVo, because now I can memorize it and share it with my rec-league teammates. I'll bet they'll be excited to incorporate that into our routine.
5:09 remaining: Non-LeBron Romeo Travis caps an 11-0 SVSM run with a layup. The LeBrons are up 59-43, and the "best team in the country" has yet to score in the fourth quarter. The farce that is national high-school rankings is being exposed on, appropriately enough, national TV. Since these "Top 25" schools rarely play each other -- meaning there's hardly anything to compare them against each other with -- we're assuming that LeBron will replace Oak Hill at the top spot, until beaten. What a joke....
4:30 remaining: Romeo scores again. He's committed to play at Akron. Think that the Zips coach isn't sweating through this game, knowing that recruiting season on this kid is about to open back up, with every coach in the country now having seen him?
3:47 remaining: Final TV timeout. The LeBrons are winning 63-45. It's a rout. At this point, you've got to feel for those scrubs who sit on the benches looking in from the shortest player-rotations in high-school history. Give 'em some burn, coaches! It's national TV, for crying out loud!
1:01 remaining: No scrubs yet. It's like they've been cut out like the Telezapper apparently cuts out unwanted telemarketing calls. Or so they say on that ad. I keep expecting to see Billy Mays.
:01 remaining: Some unnamed non-LeBron from SVSM chucks up a shot in a transparent attempt to make his way into the box score. (Hell, we'd all try the same thing, right?)
Final Score: 65-45, as the LeBrons topple the country's "top-ranked" high-school team behind LeBron's 31 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. He does the obligatory postgame interview for the home audience, then whips off his gold armband and chucks it into the frenzied crowd, coming soon to an eBay auction near you -- probably by the time you read this.
Dan Shanoff is a columnist for Page 2.