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Jason Whitlock: LeBron James has a ways to go

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While most of the national media may be having a love affair with LeBron James, not everyone is drinking the Nike-flavored Kool-Aid (or at least not the whole glass). Jason Whitlock, whom you're probably most familar with from his side gig on ESPN.com, writes in Sunday's Kansas City Star:

The Cavs would've put Detroit away Friday night had James played up to his Magic Johnson hype. Let's remember that a few days short of his 21st birthday, Johnson played all five positions against Dr. J's Sixers and dropped 42, 15 and seven on Philly with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at home with a headache. That was in game six of the NBA finals.

Meanwhile, Friday night James turned the ball over seven times, including four times in the fourth quarter. In the final seconds, he melted down and bypassed a would-be game-tying three-point attempt. At Detroit's offensive end, Tayshaun Prince had his way with James in the low post, getting any shot he wanted. James, who is built like a mini version of Karl Malone, settled for free throws in the fourth quarter and one second-half assist because he couldn't post up Lindsey Hunter or any Detroit defender.

James should make a killing down on the block. He has the body, the strength, the size, the quickness, the vision and the passing imagination to be a Wilt Chamberlain-like playmaker on the block. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird turned many a teammate into a terrific scorer by posting up, drawing a double team and distributing the ball for wide-open looks. That's how a superstar makes his teammates better.

James plays like a guy who never spent a minute in college learning how to pin a defender in the paint. He couldn't pin Lindsey Hunter, a 6-foot-2 point guard.

With no back-to-the-basket game, James is forced to rely on his inconsistent jumper and ability to take defenders off the dribble. His jumper wasn't falling Friday, and he coughed up the ball on too many drives.

NBA deserves hype, but Cavaliers' James doesn't [Kansas City Star]