Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Meet the LeBrons

(From the Dinner with the LeBrons commercial)
Wise Man LeBron: Let me tell you this story. You run around here thinking you’re good… I grew up in the State Championship. I had 35 points, 15 rebounds, 12 assists…
Business Man LeBron: You telling them bald headed lies again, Pops?
Wise Man LeBron: And 12 blocks!
Business Man LeBron: Please!
Wise Man LeBron: Now them numbers -- that’s a quadruple double there, bro.
Business Man LeBron: Kind of makes no sense to me.
Wise Man LeBron: Don’t be jealous boy! You ain’t got like I got.
Business Man LeBron: I don’t know if I can put up with this no more.

In his latest Nike campaign, LeBron James does an Eddie Murphy (see his hilarious performance in Coming To America) where he plays four different aspects of himself. In the commercials, James portrays four dimensions of his personality on and off the court: youth, wisdom, business and athleticism. The dialogue is funny, some of the commercials memorable, and James’ acting is way better than Michael Jordan’s in Space Jam.

But the problem is, the LeBron James on the NBA hardcourt features different personas as well.

Big Game James (with all apologies to James Worthy). There’s LeBron scoring 29 of the Cavs’ final 30 points including the last 25 to beat Detroit in a double-overtime classic in Game 5 of the Eastern Finals. That he led Cleveland to the Finals in only his fourth year is already a fulfillment of a promise when he drafted number one overall in 2003. He also showed that he could be the star among the stars when he bagged the 2006 All-Star Game MVP honors.

James Namath. When was the last time James played American Football – in his early high school years? Oh that wasn’t too long ago, right? This version of James at times inexplicably opts to pass to teammates like Damon Jones, Donyell Marshall, and Sasha Pavlovic rather than scramble out of the pocket to run for the first down or the end zone. You’re no Joe Namath or Magic Johnson, LeBron. You were First Team All-State Wide Receiver in your sophomore year in high school. If you want to be a QB, be like Michael Vick, who scores touchdowns (just don’t be the dog-fighting version)!

James the Invisible Man. Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer is upon us (at least Galactus isn’t) and James, in his first NBA Finals appearance plays like Daniel “Boobie” Gibson during the first few months of the regular season while the unflappable rookie plays like James in one of the biggest games ever in franchise history. First game jitters? If you wish to receive the accolades accorded to His Airness, D-Wade or Kobe Bryant, then accept the responsibility and flack that comes along with it. Fall down seven times, get up eight times. Who cares if it’s D-Wade’s commercial! Nike owns Converse anyway.

Cut to moments after the Cleveland Cavaliers dispatched the Detroit Pistons in Game 6 of the Eastern Finals, James was handed the conference trophy by Hall of Famer Bill Russell, who had advice for the 22-year-old. "You are representing the Eastern Conference," the Boston Celtics great said of the coming Finals battle with prohibitive favorite the San Antonio Spurs. "Make me proud."

I’m an unabashed Eastern Conference guy. As a kid too young to have pimples, I rooted for the Philadelphia 76ers of Julius Erving, George McGinnis, Doug Collins, Caldwell Jones, and Darryl Dawkins and sulked after the Los Angeles Lakers upset them on two NBA Finals match-ups. I rooted for Boston too, when the Birdman ruled the roost and painted the NBA landscape green. I switched once and for all to the Chicago Bulls as they featured a young Michael Jordan and Doug Collins as coach. I may have not liked the New York Knicks but I would have wanted Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, and another fave player of mine, John Starks to win one against the Houston Rockets. I’ve not been much of a James fan but have acknowledged his prodigious talents. I’ve been hard on him because of his propensity to play below the radar after tantalizing you with some really incredible games. I thought that it was the lowest of the low to see him benched by Larry Brown in the 2004 Olympics where he averaged 5.8 points. Seeing James suit up for the Cavs reminded me of a young Michael Jordan when he led the woeful Bulls with Rory Sparrow, Quintin Dailey, Dave Corzine, Orlando Woolridge, and aging Chicago playground legend Granville Waiters. And to see another high-flyer move past Detroit was like déjà vu.

Last season, LeBron and the Cavs pushed Detroit to the brink and this year, they got over the hump. But until James leads his hometown Cavaliers to the NBA throne and the Big Game James persona shows up, snazzy advertising campaign and all, there’ll be only one King and he is Michael Jordan. And he… has left the building.

(From the Dunk Contest with the LeBrons commercial)
Wise Man LeBron: After I dunk this contest will be over.
Business Man LeBron: I want a writer, director, producer…
Young LeBron: C’mon, Pops. I ain’t got all day.
Wise Man LeBron: It’s almost over. I’ve been waiting for this a long time. (dunks but hits only the rim). Ohhh. My back!
Young LeBron: That was awful! 4.6 (referring to his score).
Wise Man LeBron: 4.6! I didn’t ask how tall you were!
(to Business Man LeBron) Top that pretty boy. Show me what you got.
Young LeBron: Stop showboating all the time and show us something.


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