Great expectations
By Tim Keown
Page 2 columnist

It's all good for LeBron James right now. He's less than a week from the official coronation, which follows months of unofficial coronations, and the Cavaliers are no doubt printing posters and devising an ad campaign as we speak.

He's already won one lottery, thanks to Nike. He's about to win another one, thanks to the Cavaliers. He will be honored as the best this and the most that before he even takes an NBA practice court.

LeBron James
Average a triple-double and critics will still ask for more.
Stop it right here. No matter what happens from this point on, it can't get any better for him. Sound crazy? Think about this: LeBron James is the first athlete who simply can't win.

This is a logical extension of our infatuation -- ESPN included -- with hype and youth and the never-ending quest for the new and exciting. James is the personification of a growing cultural phenomenon.

He is the first athlete in history who cannot exceed expectations. In the public eye, he can't overachieve; he can only achieve or underachieve. If he turns out to be Michael Jordan, we'll shrug. OK, that's about right. If he turns out to be better than Michael Jordan, we'll smile and shrug. Well, guess the kid and his mom were right all along.

This isn't a plea for sympathy or restraint or any of that -- we're all adults here -- but think about the position this kid is in: Be the best -- the best ever -- or explain yourself.

Enjoy it now. The clock's ticking. Thursday's draft marks the end of the beginning.

This Week's List

  • It's a tough job, but you know somebody's up for the challenge: Who's going to keep Paul LoDuca out of the All Star Game this season?
  • Afterward, Jose Canseco and Pedro Martinez pointed out that Sammy is, indeed, a minority: Sammy Sosa hit a homer in his first game back after his suspension.
  • Later on we'll discuss the class-action suit, but for now: Can everyone please believe Sammy is sorry, if only so he stops trying to convince us how sorry he is?
  • Just wait till he grows up: Albert Pujols.
  • Sometimes, one thought is enough: After throwing his third shutout of the season, this time Thursday night against the Dodgers, the Giants' Jason Schmidt once again showed himself to be a perfect example of a guy who can pitch like mad but shouldn't be asked to dissect it.
  • Occasionally something will surprise you in baseball, but most of the time you can see everything coming a mile away: Melvin Mora, the best hitter in the American League.
  • Just for the heck of it: Vic Davalillo.
  • When you watch the College World Series, remember this: There are a lot of scouts out there who believe Stanford's Carlos Quinten is the best power-hitting prospect since Troy Glaus.
  • Speaking of the College World Series: That's some home-fried excitement coming out of Jeff Brantley.
  • When clothing becomes part of the celebration process, things are out of hand (so to speak): Milton Bradley and the glove-removal ceremony.
  • Here's a nutty thought: Let's just mow the infield grass like it's an infield, OK?
  • OK, big boy, we aren't judging by the quality of the opponent, the shooting percentages, the era, the television ratings -- only the numbers, and those numbers say you have earned yourself a spot at the head table: Tim Duncan in Game 6 -- 21-20-10-8.
  • A statistic that sounds fraught with danger and importance when it comes out of Brent Musburger's mouth, until you realize it doesn't mean a damn thing at all: The Dallas Mavericks are the only team in NBA history to win 30 playoff games without winning a title.
  • When it comes to word association, there aren't many in sports easier than this one: Grant Hill, out for the year.
  • This just in: TBS' Braves coverage includes "updates" on games that ended hours ago.
  • Apparently, it's kind of like slow-speed chases and OJ: Has there ever been a baseball fight that didn't cause someone to evoke Bob Gibson's name?
  • Next up: The Swingin' Reds vs. George Foreman?
  • Great pitcher and all that, but there's only one cap for Roger Clemens: Dunce.
  • About 10 more of this guy would do baseball good: Dontrelle Willis.
  • Kyle Farnsworth: Olde British for "Form Tackle."
  • And finally, somewhere in East Rutherford, N.J.: There's a recently unemployed "musicologist" sitting at home with tears in his eyes and "Start Me Up" raging through his kick-ass speakers.
  • Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at



    Tim Keown Archive

    Keown: Bring us your tired former broadcasters

    Keown: To root, or not to root?

    Keown: Taking a bite out of the Crime Dog

    Keown: Heading for higher ground

    Keown: Gaining perspective

    Keown: More hot air than draft

    Keown: Re-taking the field

    Keown: Time out

    Keown: Bad seed

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