There is a candid scene from the 2007 NBA Finals where Tim Duncan and LeBron James are embracing after the San Antonio Spurs swept the Cleveland Cavaliers, 4-0, to win the 2007 NBA Championship.
In that picture, four-time NBA champion Duncan tells a 22-year-old James, "Great job, Buddy. I love how you are with your teammates. Stay that way, Man. Stay that way. You drive these guys. This is going to be your league in a little while. But I appreciate you giving us this year," as both men then break into laughter.
Half-a-dozen years later, it is indeed LeBron James' NBA.
His heroics in Game 1 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals notwithstanding, LeBron has already earned his superhero status as the 2012 NBA Finals MVP on the defending 2012 NBA champion Miami Heat squad.
Not to mention, he also has won four regular-season MVPs in the past five seasons.
So when news breaks of Thursday's announcement that LeBron heads the 15-member All-NBA squad as the leading vote-getter, it only adds to his growing legacy.
He is indeed King James.
Duncan too made the all-league team, and now becomes the only player besides LeBron to make first-team All-NBA, who is also still alive in these 2013 NBA Playoffs.
In total, there are six All-NBA first-, second- and third-team honorees still competing in the postseason today.
I call these players the Furious 6, in honor of the sleek film and classic "Fast & Furious" movie franchise that premieres nationwide this holiday weekend.
These Furious 6 are all classics.
These Furious 6 are still in peak condition.
And these Furious 6 All-NBA picks are playing these 2013 NBA Playoffs like they've ran this race track before.
LEBRON JAMES, MIAMI HEAT, All-NBA First Team Forward: Six years ago, LeBron was trying to lead an overmatched Cavs squad against the four-time champion Spurs. But he soon realized he could not beat the Spurs' Big 3--nor the Celtics' Big 3 or Lakers' Big 3s in years to come--so he and Chris Bosh relocated to Dwyane Wade's Miami. Now LeBron has squad and the nine-time All-NBA forward has become the premiere playoff performer Duncan predicted six seasons ago. King James' 27.3 postseason Player Efficiency Rating ranks first for all players with 300-plus minutes in these 2013 NBA Playoffs, while the 6-8, 270-pounder is averaging 25 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists in 40 minutes per game on .608 true shooting percentage against top defenses. The 28-year-old LeBron also has the highest raw plus-minus score in these playoffs with a +108 through 10 games. If LeBron was a "Furious 6" car, he would be the black 2010 BMW M5 that the teams use in the movie. He too has quite the unbeatable team, after all.
TIM DUNCAN, SAN ANTONIO SPURS, All-NBA First Team Center: It has been six years since the Duncan has been to an NBA Finals, but now the 37-year-old center and his Spurs teammates are only two Memphis wins away from earning his team's fifth trip to the championship round. Duncan's 20.2 playoff PER ranks eighth amongst the 300-minute club, while the 14-time All-NBA choice has been able to average 18 points and 9 rebounds in 34 minutes per game on .504 true shooting percentage against defensive-dominant centers Marc Gasol, Andrew Bogut and Dwight Howard. In turn, the 6-11, 255-pound Duncan, who made his NBA-record 14th All-Defense squad last week, has been able to slow those guys' roll as well. The three past-and-present All-NBA centers averaged 11 points and 11 rebounds in 30 minutes per game on a .526 true shooting percentage in 12 games against Duncan's Spurs. If Timmy were a car in the "Furious 6" film--and as a car aficionado who owns his own speed shop, he'll appreciate this--he would be Dom's 1969 Dodge Charter Daytona. A classic deserves a classic.
MARC GASOL, MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES, All-NBA Second Team Center: Six years ago, Gasol was not even in the NBA, playing overseas for Akasvayu Girona and winning the MVP award for the ACB league in Spain. But in 2012-13, the Grit-&-Grind Giant used both a blend of offensive prowess and Defensive Player of the Year dominance to earn his first All-NBA honor. The 7-1, 265-pound 28 year old has played like a grizzled vet, leading his Grizzlies to the furthest they've ever gone in the playoffs, with victories over the Clippers' All-NBA duo of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin as well as the Thunder's All-NBA duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who of course missed the semi-finals series with an injury. Gasol ranks seventh in postseason PER with a 20.4 score, while also averaging 18 points and 8 rebounds in 40 minutes per game on .539 true shooting percentage. He is so important to the Grizzlies second-ranked defense: in these playoffs, when Gasol is on the floor, Memphis has a defensive rating of 96.4 points per 100 possessions; when he is off, it is 122.2. That said, if Gasol were a vehicle in the "Furious 6" movie, he would be the tank that mows over all the other cars on the freeway. After all, Gasol's nickname in Spain once was Tanketa.
TONY PARKER, SAN ANTONIO SPURS, All-NBA Second Team Guard: Six years ago, Tony Parker was in the midst of establishing himself as an elite player, scoring at will against the Cavaliers in the 2007 NBA Finals, en route to winning the Finals MVP award and his third championship ring. Three All-NBA awards later, Parker is considered by some to be the NBA's best point guard. His +68 playoffs plus-minus score ranks 12th in the NBA thus far, while his 23.4 playoffs PER ranks third among 300-plus minutemen. He is averaging 23 points and 8 assists in 36 minutes per game on .516 true shooting percentage in the 2013 NBA Playoffs. It is Parker's Fast & Furious pacesetting that makes him a natural for a big beast of a car. And since Parker has been a Duncan right-hand man for 11 seasons now, I thought his car of choice would be the 2010 Nissan GT-R that Dom's right-hand man Brian rides at the end of the movie.
DWYANE WADE, MIAMI HEAT, All-NBA Third Team Guard: Six years ago, D-Wade was coming down from an all-time high, where as 2006 Finals MVP he led Miami to its first NBA championship, only to see the squad drop to 44-38 the following season, and even lower thereafter (15-67 in 2007-08). So it is only fitting that the eight-time All-NBA shooting guard reap his deserved all-league honors again in a much more triumphant follow-up season to defending the 2012 NBA championship. Shoot, Wade could still be getting Executive of the Year votes for bringing LeBron James, Chris Bosh and a second title last season to the city of Miami. Heat fans, however, are just praying D-Wade can make it through the 2013 NBA Playoffs, playing as well as he has. With a knee that is busted up, Wade is still managing an 18.1 playoffs PER, which ranks 15th amongst the 300-plus minute crowd. Granted, that is nowhere near his 24.0 regular-season PER, where he was able to average 21 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists in 35 minutes per game on .571 true shooting percentage. But it will have to do until he can fully heal in the offseason. During these playoffs, Wade is averaging 14 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in 34 minutes per game on .503 true shooting percentage. His +79 playoffs plus-minus score ranks sixth in the NBA. So what kind of "Furious 6" car would D-Wade be? I'd say the stylish 2012 Lucra LC470. It belongs to tech man Tej, who didn't have to do much serious riding in this movie, but you knew his car had the capability to do so.
PAUL GEORGE, INDIANA PACERS, All-NBA Third Team Forward: Six years ago, young George was an unheralded prospect out of Palmdale's Knight High School in California. Half-a-dozen seasons later, the 23-year-old George is a full-fledged NBA star entrenched in Indiana. Now, King George is going toe-to-toe with King James in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals, and he may have emerged as the hero in Game 1 if his coach hadn't taken his bodyguard out twice in the game's closing seconds. I digress. That said, George was a very deserving choice as All-NBA forward in an awards season where he took home as many trophies as Argo (George also was named All-Defense and Most Improved Player). The Pacer small forward's 17.1 playoffs PER ranks 18th in the NBA, with postseason averages of 17 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists in 42 minutes per game on .534 true shooting percentage. His main mission, at this point, however, is defending James and going at James on offense. It is too much to ask a 23-year-old rising star to rise to that challenge, but that is precisely what Indiana Coach Frank Vogel is doing. He knows the 6-10, 221-pound George has the individual defense and the team backing to get the job done. In these 2013 NBA Playoffs, the Pacers have a 96.7 points per 100 possessions defensive efficiency when George is in the game; it is 111.3 when he is not. George's Pacers took James' Heat to six games last season in the 2012 NBA Playoffs. It may indeed be a closer series this year. And because George is some new-fangled 21st Century creation, I thought the perfect "Furious 6" car for him would be the custom-built ramp cars they feature in the movie. It is the car designed to get under other cars and flip them off their game. Sounds like a Pacers kind of car, now doesn't it?
CAR SOURCE: John Pearley Huffman's stories at Edmunds.com