Since I started my quest to visit every professional venue, I have been able to see some amazing talent on display. On this particular night, I became a WITNESS as I was finally able to see LeBron James in action. When I initially purchased my ticket for this game, I was expecting to see a certain group of players (Dwyane Wade, Isaiah Thomas, Iman Shumpert and Jae Crowder) but that all changed 24 hours before tip-off. The Cleveland Cavaliers traded half of their roster at the deadline and sent out the remaining seven players to go along with three unknowns.
LeBron James came into the game with some usual suspects in J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, Kyle Korver, Jeff Green and Jose Calderon but also some players many will not know in Cedi Osman, John Holland, London Perrantes and Ante Zizic. With this group of players joining LeBron James on the floor it made the match-up against the Atlanta Hawks that more intriguing. As many may know, the Atlanta Hawks are tied for the worst record in the National Basketball Association and also fell victim to the trade off of talent at the deadline.
The game started off rather slowly on the offensive side of the ball for the Cleveland Cavaliers as they fell down to the Atlanta Hawks early. I would attribute this to the familiarity of the players on the court together. A lot of the lineups that the Cavaliers started with are not ones they ran in previous games and players felt out of place on the court. Once they settled in the game changed and started to flow through LeBron James as he was working as the field general.
Kyle Korver became the go to guy for LeBron James as he continuously fed the ball to the hot hand. Off of assists from LeBron, Korver scored a season high 30 points and made seven three pointers. Another player that seemed rejuvenated in the short rotation was Jeff Green. Green scored 24 points and made easy work of the Hawks forwards in numerous one on one match-ups. Korver and Green are two players that I have seen numerous times before and they never looked this comfortable in those other games.
This game also brought another first for me as a sports spectator. Not only was this my first time watching LeBron James play, it also marked my first triple double siting. I have heard all of the superlatives about LeBron over the years and watched him a lot of his games since high school. Finally getting to see him play in person was different from watching him on television. He navigated through the opposition with ease and made it seem effortless. From the beginning, it looked as if he was not into the game but then I looked at the stat sheet and he was well on his way to a triple double.
Before I made it to this game, I already had a personal list of where I have players ranked. This game did nothing to alter my list but help solidify it. LeBron James is the best Small Forward to play the game and if anyone contests they need to be examined. I personally am not a fan of the things that LeBron has done to maneuver and manipulate the league to build super teams but the talent is something you cannot deny. He will go down as one of the greatest to ever play this game and I am honored to say I WITNESSED him play.