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GETTING MEDIEVAL
Posted by Rob Peterson on Dec. 7 2004 3:30 p.m. ET

PARTY LIKE IT'S 1199

Let's go step into the wayback machine for a moment, when chain-mail was worn in battle and not clogging up the Click and Roll inbox, when people held season tickets to jousts and when the commoners worked the hardest and paid the most taxes.

I'm talking about getting medieval, when powerful Kings lorded over serfs and peons, while said-same monarchs sought the counsel of the wise and magical Wizards.

Really, except for the absence of those nasty, population pruning plagues, slightly better hygiene (I'm speaking for myself here), sewage treatment, electricity and the games people played, what's changed since then, because the Kings still rule and the Wizards have been enchanting. Better yet, both teams have gone medieval on the league as of late.

(For fans of the movie "Pulp Fiction," getting medieval has a different meaning. Unfortunately, the quote isn't included on the American Film Institute's list of the 400 Greatest Movie Quotes of All Time. It's a PDF file. My favorite: "To my big brother George, the richest man in town!" Yeah, I'm a sap.)

Success is no stranger in Sacramento. They've been to the playoffs for six consecutive seasons. But before the season, some suggested the Kings to be the 10th best team in the West. They were another team in turmoil with Peja Stojakovic wanting out and with coach Rick Adelman working the last year of his contract. This was the season the Kings would implode.
-- Yahoo!

After a 1-4 start, you got the feeling the experts were right and the Kings could slip back into the dark ages of Pervis Ellison. But then, the Kings reeled off 11 wins in 12 games and are a mere two games behind the sizzling Suns in the Pacific. As an example, against the Celtics on Sunday, the Kings went on an 84-44 run. That's hot.
-- Sacramento Bee

So, who gets credit for this return to the throne?

Well, for one, Chris Webber has been playing lights out with 19.8 points per game, 10.9 rebounds per and five dimes. Webber can't get up and down the floor (or up off the floor) like he once did. So, he's changing his game to match his physical (or lack thereof) skills.
-- Sacramento Bee

The Kings bench has also been an important part of Sacramento's surge.
-- Sacramento Bee

Still, like most coaches, Adelman would love to see his charges get a handle on their inconsistent nature.
-- Sacramento Bee

Meanwhile, Webber's old team, the Wizards are off to their best start in 30 years. Thirty! That's so long ago that Richard Nixon had just resigned the presidency. At 10-5 and winners of seven of their last eight, the Wizards are on top of the surprisingly strong Southeast Division by percentage points.
-- Washington Times

One of the secrets of Washington's success? Gilbert Arenas's new-found maturity.
-- Washington Post (Registration required)

Larry Hughes has grown up too.
-- Washington Post (Registration required)

Another reason Washington's wowing them is forward Antawn Jamison, who's playing like an All-Star.
-- Chicago Sun-Times

Still, some Washington weisen-heimers can't believe what they're seeing out of the Wizards.
-- Washington Post (Registration required)

I guess these Wizards still have some magic to work on their fans.

RUMOR CENTRAL

We don't create them, we just link to them.

Is Jerry West leaving the Grizzlies?
-- Orange County Register (Registration required)

Jason Kidd made his return on Monday night. Ah, but for how long? Are the Blazers promising Kidd a Rose Garden?
-- The Oregonian

Will VC ply his wares in the World's Most Famous?
-- Bergen Record (Registration required)

Here is Sam Smith's weekly column as to where the Bulls should trade Eddy Curry.
-- Chicago Tribune (Registration required)

For real! I must agree with Clippers GM Elgin Baylor on this rumored trade. Wha? Why?
-- Chicago Sun-Times

Oh, and there's no truth to rumor that I'm going to be dealt to ESPN.com for three laptops and a summer intern to be named later.

TIP-INS

By the way, the Clippers bandwagon is getting crowded!
-- ESPN.com

And FYI, the Clippers host the Lakers this Saturday in this season's second battle of L.A.

Here's one man's top five events in NBA history. Interesting.
-- SI.com

Awww... Hugs all around.
-- Los Angeles Times (Registration required)

A recent headline in the Valley of the (blistering) Sun: Can Suns win 60 games this year? I think etiquette and grammar require you to use "may" instead of "can."
-- East Valley Tribune

Think the pholks in Philly are a trifle upset with the Sixers? Check out this headline.
-- Philly Inquirer (Registration required)

This Kareem has been cropped from the Lakers roster.
-- L.A. Times (Registration required)

Really, there's nowhere else to go.
-- New Orleans Times-Picayune

AND FINALLY...

Dwyane Wade's doing so well in the NBA, he's getting an award from his alma mater.
-- South Florida Sun-Sentinel

THE GREAT SOPHOMORE DEBATE

Whoa! I should insult my readers' letter-writing skills more often. After saying the mailbox was half empty with desert-dry letters, I tried to juice the Click and Roll conversation (and mail flow) with: "Which second-year player is better: LeBron or Dwyane Wade?"

Responses? How about eight hundred fifty-freakin'-six responses. 8-5-6. If I could, I would write back and say thank you for taking the time to pound out an e-mail, but please allow me to say thanks here. You guys made my week.

As for the letters, sure, some people sent the simple: LeBRON! or Wade! And we had one reader sing the praises of LeBrong (with a "G"), as in song, as in sarong or as in thong. (LeBrong, br-br-br-Brong! What is Sisqo doing these days? Sorry, tangent.)

But many of the missives were well-reasoned, well-written and impassioned in support of LeBron or D-Wade. And before I get to some of the e-mail and the somewhat final tally, here are some things I learned from you, my dear readers: -- Almost everyone likes both players. It just depends on the degree. For example, many letters began as such: Not to knock/hate/dis on LeBron/Dwyane, but LeBron/Dwyane is better because ...

-- Only two people spelled Wade's first name correctly. It's Dwyane with the "Y" before the "A." Kind of like Brett Favre.

-- People think both players make their teammates better

-- Wade is better because he's the man on a team that features Shaq

-- LeBron is better because he doesn't have a player like Shaq on his squad

-- Almost no one likes Zyrdunas Ilgauskas' game

-- Wade is special, but LeBron will be a legend

-- Wade was better last year and is still better now. Where you been?

-- I'm an idiot because I dismissed 'Melo. (Hey, I apologized when I did so.)

-- Kyle Korver has a rabid fan

-- Some people are still mad at me for writing this column, as if basketball blogs were exclusive to one scribe on the Internet (Get over it people!)

That being said, who came out on top? Based on my less than scientific count it was LeBron: 251, Wade: 217 and Can't Decide: 32. As for the remaining 356 letters I read/skimmed? The ratio of LeBron to Wade supporters was pretty much the same throughout. To be honest, it was closer than I expected. I thought LBJ would win in a landslide.

"Um, Rob, why didn't you count all 856 letters?"

This is America. We haven't counted all the votes for the last couple of elections. Why start now?

With that, here are some of the snappier, snarkier and sharper e-mails we received from you.

From Dave in Fair Oaks, Calif.:

"I believe Wade is the better player. His composure is what makes the difference in my opinion. Five seconds on the clock and I want the ball in Wade's hands even over LeBron. Wade has that same look in his eyes as the almighty MJ did, that look of 'I will find a way to win.' That is what made Jordan great and that is what will make Wade great."

Click responds: We received a lot of letters saying Wade was the man they want with the ball with the life draining out of the clock. And I must agree, his maturity in the clutch belies his youth.

From Peder in (homer alert!) Miami:

"Sure I may suffer from some hometown bias, but ask yourself who you'd want holding the ball with 2.4 left on the clock. Wade is 'the ice box, baby!' He'll cool your drink and your team's dreams ... and all with one shot."

Click responds: "He'll cool your drink and your team's dreams ... and all with one shot." Very nice.

From Mike in (homer alert!) Ft. Lauderdale:

"Wade has broken more ankles than that crazy chick in the movie Misery. He is the real deal and the brightest second-year star."

Click responds: One of the few letters to make me laugh out loud.

From Rob (not me) in El Paso:

"L to the E to the B to the Ron. No doubt! Not to knock Wade but he's not LeBron. He can't rebound, score, steal or block like LeBron or lead a team like him."

Click responds: Not exactly earth-shattering logic, but I had to include one "to the" letter.

From Sean in Sydney, Australia:

"I'll validate my point, Dwayne Wade, is a super player, he's a class act and I've no doubt he'll be a great player for years to come barring injuries, however his remarkable improvement is mainly due to one thing, the huge inside presence big SHAQ DIESEL gives the Heat.

"With Shaq hanging around the paint and Wade showing all year that he's prepared to dish the ball instead of scoring himself it's given Wade more opportunities at easier baskets than he had last year. Shaq makes other players look good, he's a franchise player because he gives every player at the franchise more room then they will ever have on the court without him.

"Lebron on the other hand is leading a team rather than tagging along, with an equal start to the year as the daunting pair of O'Neal and Wade (both 9-5). Like Wade he's unafraid to dish the ball, but without a Shaq in your side you're forced to do more work, whether it be on the boards, on the offense or defending.

"At the moment LeBron is doing it all, second in the league in efficiency behind KG (Kevin Garnett) in just his second year and before he's even hit 20.

"At the end of their respective careers Dwayne Wade will turn out to be a remarkable player, much in the mould of a Kobe Bryant perhaps.

"LeBron James will be more like, dare I say it as too many players are compared to the great one when they're clearly many levels below him, as I hesitate and stutter his name out of my trembling lips, LeBron James will be a player remembers much like the great one MJ.

"That is the clear difference between the players.

"Cheers!"

Click responds: Nice e-mail, mate. You're not alone when you think LBJ will be one for the NBA pantheon.

From Mike in Rochester, NY (Original home of the Sacramento Kings. Really, you can look it up. They even won an NBA title in 1951.):

"Are you kidding?"

Click responds: No, or I wouldn't have asked.

Mike continues: "LeBron is not only better than Wade but he's better than the whole NBA. He's hands down the best and most efficient player in the game right now. Anything Wade can do, Lebron can do better."

Click responds: "I'm superior, you're inferior/I'm the big attraction, you're the small/I'm the major one, you're the minor one/I can beat you shootin', that's not all!" Sorry, don't mind my singing. Next!

From Jonesy in Park City, Utah:

"Lebron vs. Wade? You can't really make a strong argument that ANYBODY is better than LeBron, but I'm going to try. To me it seems as though D-Wade has gone under the radar for the majority of his short NBA career. This guy, who was also underrated in college, is making defenders cry for help every time he puts on the brakes and forces somebody out of their jock straps as he crosses them over and EXPLODES to the rim. The thing I like about him is that after he fakes them out of their jock he will stop and help them put it back on.

Click responds: Wow! That is helpful, though, maybe a little handsy.

Jonesy continues: "He LOVES the game, unlike the sorry sophomore 'Melo. He is truly the nicest guy on and off the court and he shows it in his smile every game night. If I were to start a franchise right now I would take D-Wade over LeBron because he has a quicker first step, better court vision and you never hear the guy complain about anything. He is a sophomore trying to make a name for himself in a very competitive league and he's doing a damn good job at it. GO HEAT!"

Click responds: Isn't it against the law to say "damn" in Utah?

From Kyle in Ottawa, Canada:

"Dear person..."

Click responds: Please, call me Mr. Peterson.

Kyle continues: "I've been an NBA fan since as long as I can remember but I am only 14. My favourite hobby is analyzing NBA players and coaches. Through the eyes of this young analyst I see LeBron as a better player than Dwayne Wade. Yes they've both had incredible sophomore seasons so far but there's just nothing that LeBron can't do. What really amazes me about him is not his dunks or shots, but rather his defensive game seeing is how he's only 19. I don't know if you know any other 19 year old that can dominate at both ends as well as LeBron but I sure don't. I see LeBron and Dwayne Wade both having superb careers and maybe even a spot in the hall of fame but I can't get over the way LeBron plays with what he has to work with. Dwayne Wade in the last two years has had Lamar Odom, Caron Butler and Shaquille O'Neal on his team while Lebron didn't have much to work with.

"In an overall summary, in my opinion, LeBron is a better player."

Click responds: Wow! A 14-year-old breakin' it down like a pro! Talking about LeBron's D. Nice observation. One piece of advice because you seem like you're a bright kid: Don't go into sportswriting. Do something with your life!

And finally, the angriest letter of them all, which I'm printing without editing for clarification.

From Myron in Columbus, Ohio:

"Lebron&Wade the two best players in the east? YEH RIGHT!!!! you guys are trying real hard to get people to right back aren't you. With all respect to both Mr.hype and Mr. anonymity even with their good numbers "very early in the season" they dont even break the TOP TEN. PLEASE!!!! get off lebrons jock strap and give him time, wade i pick to have better stats at the end of the season "ALL AROUND". What you clowns should be asking is will Tiny Archibald remain the only player in NBA history to lead the league in scoring & assist after this season. Cause only one player has a very good chance of accomplishing the same thing this year. "HINT" you should know THE ANSWER. Now there's a good topic or poll survey for the noncreative and monotonous clowns in charge of ideas on this site, by the way can i get a job I'm a sports historian guru. Have a nice day!"

Click responds: See why I offered that advice, Kyle? And, Myron, I would ask that Tiny Archibald question if I thought it was going to happen. But I think Tiny's place in NBA history as the only man to lead the league in assists and points in the same season is safer than the gold in Ft. Knox.

First of all, I don't think teams have enough possessions these days for a guy to lead the league in both scoring and assists. Second, it may be the Answer to do it, but not this year. In case you hadn't noticed, Phoenix's Steve Nash and Charlotte's Brevin Knight are finding as many open teammates on a nightly basis as I found spelling errors in your e-mail.

And as for the rest of your insult, I am not monotonous.

I can't wait for next week's question: "Whose side are you on? Shaq's or Kobe's?"

"Feels good to win like this, doesn't it, Mike?"
(Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images)

AN ASIDE
Nothing to complain about this week. Plus, I need to give credit where credit is due. If you have NBA TV, check out the new crawl at the bottom of the screen. It's chock full of great info.

Also, Phoenix Mercury star and 2004 WNBA Rookie of the Year Diana Taurasi stars in a great commercial for coffee. Caught that, too, on NBA TV.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Sacramento's Chris Webber on life below the rim:
"I've been watching a lot of tape of Magic (Johnson) because I don't think he was the best athlete, maybe not even close to being a great athlete, but just the things that he saw."
-- Sacramento Bee

2004-05 ARCHIVE
Nov. 30 -- LeBron vs. Dwyane
Nov. 23 -- Playing Good Ball
Nov. 16 -- SuperbSonics
Nov. 9 -- Hitting the Blue Note
Nov. 3 -- Bling, Bang, Boom
2003-04 -- Archive

WEEKLY KERR
Steve Kerr, TNT analyst, Yahoo! columnist, Suns adviser and five-time NBA champ is working hard. Here's his column on what the players' union and the NBA should be talking about. Also, check out his analysis of the loaded forward position out West.