Saturday, June 8, 2013

Putting Them In Their Place

     This week was certainly one to forget for both Sidney Crosby and LeBron James. The respective poster boys of the NHL and the NBA have faced a great challenge in their sports. Yes, they already have a ring on their fingers. But winning one title won't cut it for these two "Second Comings."
     Often compared to "The Great One" Wayne Gretzky, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins was touted as "The Next Big Thing" in Canada before he was 18. He was the youngest NHL player and the only teenager to win the Art Ross trophy, leading the NHL with 120 points in 2006-2007. He also won the Hart Memorial trophy that same year and the Lester B. Pearson award, becoming the seventh NHL player to win all three awards in one year. The center for the Penguins was the first NHL rookie to record 100 points and 100 penalty minutes in a season and the youngest NHL captain to win a Stanley Cup. But this year has been a tough one for Crosby. After breezing through the first two rounds with 7 goals and 8 assists, Crosby was held to a -2 plus/minus rating and zero points as Pittsburgh was swept by the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Bruins were much more physical and tough than the Ottawa Senators and the New York Islanders were and kept Crosby from getting any good shots off.
     LeBron's prodigal story is a little more well-known. The comparisons between Michael Jordan and LeBron are non-stop and seem to be a perennial topic on Sportscenter. LeBron is notorious for "The Decision" in which he abandoned his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, to "take his talents to South Beach" and join up with the likes of Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Many critics pointed out that Jordan never left the Bulls to "buy himself a title" and was the best player on his team. However, James is a nine-time NBA All-Star, four-time NBA MVP, 2004 NBA Rookie of the Year, and is the Cleveland Cavaliers' all-time leading scorer. The Miami Heat star was also the 2008 NBA scoring champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist. His career PPG is 27.6 and his career RPG is 7.3. However, LeBron ran into an experienced San Antonio Spurs team that could not only outrebound the Heat, but could also score in bunches and defend. In spite of grabbing 18 rebounds in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, LeBron was held to 7-16 shooting and 18 points in Miami's 92-88 loss. Historically, LeBron is 2-9 lifetime against teams from Texas in the NBA Finals, so the Game 1 loss is not as surprising as it would seem.
     Both Crosby and James are entering their primes, so there's still plenty of time to win another title. But as this postseason in the NBA and NHL has shown, it can be a humbling experience for these two poster boys. If Crosby and James are to be in the same class as Gretzky and Jordan, they'll have to be clutch players when it truly matters.

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