Page 2 columnist
The kid's got 1,000-plus points in half a season. He slices through defenses like they aren't there. His games -- Cavs games, let's remember -- are appointment television. He's inspiring somewhere on the order of seven he's-even-better-than-we-thought columns per week in newspapers across the country. Six elementary schools, three high schools, and a vocational college have filed to officially change their names to LeBron James. He can't be stopped. He's unbeatable. There are no weaknesses.
Not so fast.
Everyone's got an Achilles heel.
It isn't the mid-range jumper, as some said it was. And it isn't the heavy weight of the hype machine, as many felt it might be.
So you keep digging. You do some background checks. You make some calls, knock on some doors around his old neighborhood, track down some of his buddies. You talk to the folks who knew him when ...
Maybe you learn stuff like this:
Darryl Netter, fourth-grade nerd friend who LeBron later turned his back on to win favor with the cool kids: "He's not so tough, really. I used to kick his butt in marbles all the time. What you do is, you get him thinking about your chinas and your rubies, and meanwhile you just pound him with your commies, you know what I'm saying? He's a sucker for the shiny stuff, puts himself in bad positions going after them. You come in on the back side firing your commies, and then you drop a bumbo on his sorry a-- and knock three or four out of the ring at the same time. Works every time."
Kelly Combes, cheerleader: "He hates that 'Dribble! Dribble! Shoot! Shoot! Put that ball through the hoop! Hoop!' one. I'd try that. If that doesn't work, maybe go with 'Dribble it! Pass it! We want a basket!' Off-rhymes drive him crazy."
Tyrone Teer, playground supervisor, Akron: "Kid could not handle a dodge ball to the side of the head. Cried like a baby. Sad, really."
Julianne Chill, "friend": "You didn't hear this from me, and I don't know how you'd use it in a game, really. But there's a spot just behind his right ear that ... well, I'm just saying, blow on it. See what happens."
Lance Seto, retired Army captain and former neighbor: "He and his no-account, punk friends used to ring my doorbell and run. Very funny, right? Not so funny when I called in the big brass. I got on the horn to his mom, let her know what was what. You ever seen this woman? Force of nature. You got a problem with the kid, you go straight to the source. She'll set him straight but good."
Lance Barbagallo, buddy: "Pull his headband off and go running around the gym, waving it in the air. Call him 'Headband Boy' and 'Mr. Secret Headband Man' and stuff like that. He'll try to blow you off, but he'll be dying inside."
Hillary Kennemer, nemesis: "I tell you what I did: I played him straight up, made him go left whenever I could and kept slapping at the ball whenever he put it on the floor. I also took him down on the block and made him play some honest defense. Tired him out. And then I took him out to the perimeter and started raining threes down on his head like thunderbolts from Zeus. Of course, if you don't think you can swing that, you might just try asking him about the time he got his butt kicked but good by a girl. That seems to bother guys."
Fernando Rabon, bully: "Noogies worked then, and I suspect they'd work now."
The Reverend Ted Walder: "He's such a nice boy. Why would you want to do anything to hurt him?"
Little Hughie Kirklin, YBA opponent: "This one time, we changed the starting time of the game and didn't tell his coach. They had to forfeit and everything. It was so cool."
Dr. Roslyn Pollman, dentist: "There are cavities. That's all I'm going to say. There are cavities."
Father Julio Risch, local parish priest: "Not once did he come to confession. Of course, as far as I know, he isn't Catholic. But still ... "
Max Debelak, high school teammate: "Sure I know his weaknesses. I used to take him all the time in practice. But you think I'm just going to give 'em up to you here and now? What do I get out of the deal? Where's my love? Let's talk TV time, maybe a book deal; then we can talk, you know what I'm saying?"
Editor's note: The names in the above piece have been changed to protect the identity of the contributors. We should also say that when we say "changed," we don't really mean changed so much as completely made up. And when we say "contributors," we don't really mean contributors so much as figments of Eric's imagination. And one more thing: We realize this calls the journalistic value of the above piece into question. However, we stand by the fact that we cannot at this time confirm or deny whether any of these things are actually true, and we remain firm in our belief that, hey, you gotta try something new to slow him down, don't ya?
Eric Neel is a regular columnist for Page 2.