Bradford Applin

Introductions? Pssh, introductions are for columnists without word limits, so I’ll preface my column with this: Reality writing is where you get to experience a sporting event, through my “unconventional” perspective.

On Saturday, LeBron “King” James became only the third player ever to have a triple-double in his playoff debut with 32 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds against the Washington Wizards. I missed it, and as a professed follower of NBA basketball, it was inexcusable to miss this significant event in the career of the future (arguably current) face of the NBA. I wasn’t about to miss his follow-up performance:

3:59 p.m. PST – I switch over to TNT just in time to catch the tail end of an episode of “Law and Order” before the game as Jack McCoy quips: “I hope he takes that image with him to prison.” I couldn’t think of a better way for TNT to transition into a NBA telecast. “Dun! Dun!”

4:15 – I present before you the lyrics to tonight’s pre-game song: “This is 10 percent luck, 20 percent skill, 15 percent concentrated power of will, 5 percent pleasure, 50 percent pain, and 100 percent reason to remember the name.”

I don’t know what frustrates me more, the fact that it added up to 200 percent or the fact that I just replayed that six times on my TiVo to share it with you. Consequently I’m now starting to like it. No one talks about the negative side effects of TiVo-

4:17 – Cleveland wins the tip and we are underway! I count that four of the Cavalier starters – LeBron, Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes and Zydrunas Ilgauskas (I do believe the spell check on my computer just had a nervous breakdown) – as all having playoff beards in various stages of development. It’s now official: Every sport is ripping off the NHL playoff beard. Nothing says I’m focused on winning a championship like blatantly disregarding your own personal hygiene.

4:18 – Just in case you were wondering if I would mention basketball in this week’s column: LeBron strips Antawn Jamison as he tries to post-up, leading to a Hughes jumper as Cleveland strikes first.

4:23 – LeBron takes it to the rack on the fast break and easily makes the layup as well as the free throw. That brings their lead to 13-4, but the best part was how LeBron made the “blocking-foul-hands-smacked-against-hips-referee-signal” right in sync with the official. James made the basket, turned to the referee, and the two proceeded to make the physical sign for the call directly at each other. The proper call – but if having the official thrust his pelvis in your direction isn’t having the referees in your pocket – I don’t know what is.

4:31 – It’s 17-4 and we get a shot of Wizards coach Eddie Jordan and his three musketeers mustache. Even the T.V. guys are trying to encourage Eddie to call a timeout and stop the bleeding.

4:33 – Brendan Haywood just forcibly corralled LeBron as he was driving down the lane. LeBron uses a stare down to indicate that the next time that happens, Haywood will receive a haymaker to his head.

4:43 – We’ve gone from 23-8 and all the makings of a blowout to 23-21 as Gilbert Arenas makes a 3-pointer from just inside half court to end the first quarter. Just think Bay Area natives (myself being one), Arenas was once an Oakland Warrior; and wait, so was Antawn Jamison! Good to see that the Oakland farm system is turning potential prospects into perennial players for the Washington D.C. Wizards. Excuse me while I go play in traffic.

4:49 ” The Wizards have now scored 18 unanswered points. There seems to be a revolution brewing under King James.

5:18 ” Halftime: Cavaliers winning 38-37.

5:20 ” Time for my favorite part of a basketball game on TNT: Charles Barkley. Less than 10 seconds into the halftime show, and Barkley is engaged in a silent battle of wills with fellow analyst Kenny Smith. He slides a pencil in front of Smith, who quickly pushes it back to Barkley. But Barkley slides it right back as Smith is looking the other way. Smith, noticing the pencil once again, “no-looks” the “pencil pick up” and slyly drops it on the floor, giving into Barkley and hoping no one watching is the wiser. Indisputable evidence as to why Barkley is a hall-of-famer, and insider information only available right here on Sports Balk!

5:41 “Arenas shows his disrespect for the crown as he dunks over King James and gives the Wizards the lead, 40-39.

5:49 ” Butler inadvertently steps on the train tracks as LeBron steam-rolls him on his way to pounding the ball through the net- AND ONE! Beware of the third rail.

6:06 ” Gooden has 14 rebounds, and we’re still in the third quarter. With LeBron playing inconsistent and in foul trouble after two straight charges, Gooden is single-handedly keeping them in this game.

6:15 ” TNT and the producers of Mission Impossible 3 have a cross promotion going on with the NBA playoffs. I’m all for any excuse to get Tom Cruise more face time on television. Really, I am. It was high time sports were eliminated as the only sanctuary on television where you didn’t have to hear any references to TomKat. I’ll just get back to playing real-life Frogger on campus

6:22 ” With the score 68-68 and eight minutes left, this is the time for LeBron to show us just how much he’s matured in three years in the NBA

6:37 ” LeBron turns it over on a behind the back pass, and the Cavaliers force a jump ball with 1:38 left to play – down my five – but still within striking distance. But in a microcosm of the whole game, the Cavaliers win the jump ball, LeBron and Ilgauskas run into each other, they do a one footed flamingo dance on the sideline, LeBron makes another errant pass trying to save it, and the ball flies right to Gilbert Arenas for easy bucket – AND ONE!

6:54 ” Washington adds a little drama by failing to make key rebounds and free throws down the stretch, but hold on to win 89-84. So which was the real LeBron: the triple-double LeBron, or the one who struggled under physical defense tonight? Find out if King James will reclaim his throne in Game Three on Friday night.

Bradford Applin is a sophomore journalism major. Despite Tuesday night, he will fight for King James’ army any day. E-mail him at bapplin@calpoly.edu

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