Feb 26, 2020 - Sports

LeBron-Zion lives up to the hype

Photo: Katelyn Mulcahy/Jason Miller/Getty Images

LeBron James, whose play defined the last two decades of NBA basketball, scored a season-high 40 points in his first matchup against Zion Williamson (29 points), whose play could define the next two decades.

Fun fact: LeBron has now faced a fellow No. 1 overall pick 356 times — and he's finished with the scoring advantage in 297 of those games, per ESPN.

The big picture: LeBron and Zion have so much in common — game-breaking athleticism, unparalleled hype — yet the experience of watching them play basketball is "fascinatingly different," writes The Ringer's Brian Phillips:

  • "Something about watching Zion really, really makes people want to describe him in cartoonishly evocative, absurdist-poetic language. ... When Zion tears the sole of his shoe, venerable organs of sports journalism like Sports Illustrated tweet that his shoe 'LITERALLY EXPLODED,' in all caps."
  • "[T]he language we use for LeBron tends to evoke something more like an 18th-century sovereign, or maybe a Roman general. ... An incredible dunk from LeBron will rarely be described as a rose blooming inside a cyclone of lasers; it will be described, instead, as 'an incredible dunk from LeBron.'"
  • "LeBron's career coincided with the apex of a post–Michael Jordan tendency to represent the league in terms of organized macro-narrative and all-time rankings."
  • "Zion has come along at a moment when our experience of basketball is shifting back toward the fun mess of one present moment: the highlight, the GIF, the second of shareable chills."
  • "In a pretty natural, unforced way, then, the two players seem to personify the dominant tendencies of an era in transition."

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LeBron still wears the crown after win over Clippers

Photo: Harry How/Getty Images

LeBron James led the Lakers to season-defining wins over the NBA-best Bucks and rival Clippers this weekend, all while playing lockdown defense on reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard — the two strongest challengers to his throne in recent years.

Why it matters: James' weekend statement may have changed the course of the MVP race, which Antetokounmpo — who will miss at least two games with a sprained knee — has been heavily favored to win for months.

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NBA's best 25 under 25

Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Five of the NBA's best young players were on the court in Dallas Wednesday night, with Kristaps Porziņģis (34 points), Brandon Ingram (27 points), Lonzo Ball (25 points), Luka Dončić, and Zion Williamson among those making ESPN's "Best 25 under 25" list (subscription).

Driving the news: Dončić (30-17-10) broke Dallas' career triple-double record with his 22nd, helping the Mavericks hold off Williamson (21 points) and the Pelicans 127-123 in an overtime thriller last night.

Go deeperArrowMar 5, 2020 - Sports

NASCAR leads the virtual sports charge amid coronavirus outbreak

Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

FS1 broadcast a NASCAR race Sunday, and a lot of things felt familiar, from the pre-race prayer and national anthem to camera shots of the leaders and a racetrack lined with billboards.

One big difference: It was a video game. Real NASCAR drivers were behind the wheels, but they were racing on a digital track from the comfort of their living rooms using a platform called iRacing.

Go deeperArrowMar 23, 2020 - Sports