LeBron has officially taken over

Michael Moses

“The Takeover.” This was the title that graced the cover of basketball’s best magazine, SLAM, way back in August of 2002. There were two high school superstars staring into the camera’s lens, as if to say, “Bring it.”

One, Sebastian Telfair, was from Coney Island’s Lincoln High. A lightning-quick point guard, Telfair was known as the kid who was going to make it bigger than his elder cousin, Stephon Marbury. He was a sure shot to the league and a perennial MVP-caliber player.

The other young man went by the name of LeBron James. He was the real-life Jesus Shuttlesworth – and to this day, he still is.

It was announced Monday that Akron’s own had been named the 2009 NBA Most Valuable Player. All I have to say is that it’s about damn time. Never mind the stats this year – the 28.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game – how about last year’s stats? James’ 2008 line looked a little something like this: 30 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game.

Let’s rewind three years back, to the 2005-2006 season: 31.4 points, 7 rebounds and 6.6 assists, while playing 42.5 minutes a game. This year, ‘Bron played in 37.7 minutes per game.

Looking at James’ statistics this year, they’re eye-popping. But as far as LeBron goes, it was actually just another season for “the King” statistically. The difference was the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA-best 66 wins, compared to last year’s 45.

Either way, James will be the NBA’s most valuable player for the next decade-plus. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record of six NBA MVP trophies will be second by the time No. 23 retires.

He’s a physical specimen at 6-foot-8 (some say closer to 6-foot-9) and 250 pounds (most say 260), and he’s known as the NBA’s fastest player. His strides are like a giraffe’s, and his body is chiseled like an Under Armour mannequin.

The aspect of James’ game that puts him in the category of Michael Jordan is his ability to dominate on both ends of the court. James was second to Orlando’s Dwight Howard in this year’s Defensive Player of the Year voting, but I believe he got snubbed for this award, just as he did in the past with the MVP.

Howard led the league in rebounds and blocks, but that’s not saying much when you’re that big of a guy. James, on the other hand, guards the opposing team’s best player, no matter what position. He is challenged each and every night on the defensive end, whereas Howard usually breezes by. Have Howard guard both a power forward and a point guard in the same game and then see who looks like the better all-around defensive player.

Cleveland needed this award as much as LeBron did. Everyone believes James is going to bounce out of Cleveland as soon he becomes eligible for free agency come 2010. If you ask me, I say one name: Michael Jordan.

This MVP trophy signifies the beginning of an era, along with the birth of the Cavaliers as the best team in the NBA. LeBron is becoming more and more like the man he will forever be compared to: “His Airness.”

Jordan went to a city and rebuilt the franchise from the ground up. In the three years before Jordan arrived in 1984, the Chicago Bulls had a .362 winning percentage. In the same three-year span before James came to Cleveland, the Cavaliers had a .309 winning percentage.

This year, Cleveland is the No. 1 seed in the East, posting a 39-2 record at home (one win shy of the NBA record). It took MJ seven years to claim his first NBA title. This is LeBron’s sixth season in the NBA.

Come June, when James has a new ring and is hoisting a different MVP trophy, the tables will turn. Cleveland will be on top, and a legendary run will begin.

LeBron Raymone James, still fresh at 24 years old, has officially taken over.

As for Telfair … let’s just say his older cousin didn’t play half of the season and is still making the news more than young Sebastian.

Contact sports correspondent Michael Moses at [email protected].