Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you enjoy the game of basketball. Just playing the odds. And if you like basketball, you might be disappointed that college basketball is over for the next few months, and all we’re left with is the NBA Finals. There’s not a whole lot of reason to watch the NBA Finals this year for people in Kentucky; our most famous alumni are already out, and neither team playing is close to us at all. So it’s understandable if you’re not watching any of it.
That said, you have to see this block because what the frick.
LeBron is a polarizing figure, for sure, but that doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate ridiculousness when it happens. Keep in mind that Tiago Splitter is a 6’11” center, and LeBron is 6’8″-ish. Media folks are not only saying “SportsCenter Top 10,” but they’re expecting it to be on highlight reels for years to come. Some have even said that the block will define the series, should Miami win.
But we’re no stranger to great blocks in Kentucky, so here’s the question: Objectively, which block was better between (1) LeBron’s NBA Finals Stuff, or (2) Anthony Davis’s game-winning block against John Henson? First, let’s re-watch Davis work:
Now let’s break it down and look at some factors.
Importance to Player
LeBron is already established as the premier basketball player in the world right now. Forget what Rodman said about James in the 90s, right now he’s the best there is. So a play like this from him is great, but not really out of nowhere. He didn’t really do anything to improve his reputation as a player. Anthony, meanwhile, was still in the early stages of his freshman year, after becoming a coveted recruit in the last half of high school. People might have suspected that he was a good defender, but there wasn’t a lot of proof yet. Enter: the block. It was the first of several “Naismith” plays from Davis, and the first opportunity for national basketball fans, and UNC players, to appreciate what he could really do.
Importance to Game
LeBron’s dunk was part of a 33-5 run in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. Anthony’s was the last play, on a game-winning shot in a 1-point game. Hard to argue that the Davis block didn’t have a bigger impact on the game.
Both blockees, Splitter and Henson, are 6’11”. I couldn’t block those guys with a step ladder and broom handle, so any deflection is going to be impressive. However, watching the blocks, what LeBron did borders on the unbelievable. Davis showed good timing and great explosiveness to get as high as he did, but the one-hand stuff in the face of 240 furious, flying pounds of momentum is one of the most unreal things we’ll see for a while.
Let’s be real, this an important consideration for “best play” quandaries. And while Davis got a ton of attention in Kentucky for his block, it was more about the impact it had on the game overall, and not the impact on the psyche and temperament of the player. LeBron’s block is seen as a turning point for the forward–and a harbinger of destruction for San Antonio. KSR favorite Gregg Doyel says the block was part of “Superman” wresting the entire series from the Spurs, and there are no shortage of others talking about that block being memorialized on kids’ bedroom walls for years to come. The Davis block was important to us, but LeBron’s block was just important. Important to fans, young and old; important to the championships series; important to the game of basketball. It was the best player making the best play, like some of Jordan’s iconic shots from the 90s. If basketball had a “Heisman Play,” that would have been it.
Let me say that I was way happier with Anthony’s block over Henson. That was a big game with a lot more personal investment. And the timing of the block was just so perfect, too; it’s not too often people celebrate game-winning blocks. However, I can’t in good conscience say that it was better than what happened last night. I just can’t. Tiago is probably still writing about it in his journal in whatever language he uses to weep. You may disagree, and I have a Heat bias, but I gotta go with LeBron on this one. Feel free to (rationally) agree or disagree in the comment section.