Ask anyone about LeBron James‘ historic greatness and they’ll tell you pretty much the same thing. Sure, his physical tools and talent are off the charts, but what truly separates him from other NBA greats is his ability to read and dissect the game with his mind.
We get to see it on the court every time he plays, but we don’t often get a chance to see his brain at work in a non-basketball setting. So it was pretty amazing, though perhaps not surprising, to see him rattle off the exact sequence that took place to begin the fourth quarter while answering a reporter’s question after the Cavaliers’ 108-83 Game 1 loss to the Celtics on Sunday.
The Cavs cut Boston’s lead to 14 entering the fourth quarter, and the Celtics opened up with a quick 7-0 run to rebuild the lead. After the game a reporter asked LeBron a simple question, “What happened?” LeBron took the question literally, and recounted the entire sequence of events:
“What happened? The first possession we ran them down all the way to two on the shot clock. Marcus Morris missed a jump shot, followed it up — they got a dunk. We came back down, we ran a set for Jordan Crawford — I mean, Jordan Clarkson — and he came off and missed it, and they rebounded it.
“We came back on the defensive end and we got a stop. They took it out on the sideline. Jayson Tatum took the ball out, threw it to Marcus Smartin the short corner — he made a 3. We come back down, miss another shot. And then, um, Tatum came down and went 94 feet, did a Euro step and made a right-handed layup. Timeout. There you go.”
The fact that LeBron was dressed like a college philosophy professor provided the extra flourish to the whole scene. When you get the media to clap in the middle of scrambling to finish deadline stories, you know you’ve done something impressive.
The only blemish in his catalog of events was mistaking teammate Jordan Clarkson for Pelicans reserve Jordan Crawford, but we’ll let that slide because LeBron quickly corrected himself — plus Clarkson has only been his teammate for a few months. LeBron also conveniently left out the fact that Tatum’s layup was preceded by LeBron’s sixth turnover of the game, but hey, who’s counting?
Detailing a minute-long sequence from a basketball game doesn’t make LeBron a genius, but it does give us a glimpse into how his powerful memory might help him gain an advantage on opponents. We’ll see if it makes a difference in Game 2 on Tuesday.