Shanoff's WUC: LeBron In Must-Win Situation

Today's Calls: LeBron vs. Kobe, Big Ben vs. Roger Goodell, Jazz vs. Suns (vs. Mavs), Blazers vs. Spurs, Rich Rodriguez vs. West Virginia, Brandon Marshall vs. the Broncos, Marshawn Lynch vs. the Bills, Dez Bryant vs. the Draft, Derek Dooley vs. Lane Kiffin, Jaguars vs. Ticket Sales, Ricky Romero vs. Clayton Kershaw and More. ↵

↵LeBron JamesThe Opening Pitch: The NBA revolves around LeBron James. ↵

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↵He will skip tonight's regular-season finale, but his Cavs have locked up the No. 1 seed in the NBA playoffs and will enter the postseason as the odds-on favorite to win James' first NBA championship. ↵

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↵Individually, James has had — statistically — one of the greatest seasons of all time. He will be the runaway league MVP and will only miss out on being the league's first unanimous MVP because of irrational voters in the media. ↵

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↵And everything he has said this season has been parsed for hints of what James might do this summer, when he becomes a free agent and decides whether to stay in Cleveland or, say, relocate to New York City. ↵

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↵But it isn't entirely great to be the King: Given LeBron's centrality to the league, the Cavs' record and the team's perceived superiority to everyone else, anything less than an NBA title for LeBron would make the season a failure. ↵

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↵It would trigger all sorts of "Well, if he can't win with the Cavs now, when will he ever?" gnashing that will only make LeBron more of the center of gravity of sports this summer. ↵

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↵Before we get there, LeBron enters the most important eight-week stretch of his career — one that will define everything he has done up to this point. ↵

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↵In the NBA's LeBron-centric world, "LeBron vs. Everyone Else" is really about "Ideal LeBron vs. Actual LeBron." ↵

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↵Big Ben meets the Commish: There was no expectation that the league was going to suspend Roethlisberger yesterday — or ever. (The presumption is that the league office is going to leave that to the Steelers to implement.) ↵

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↵NBA Season Finale: The Suns locked up home-court advantage in the first round. Let's try to make the West scenarios handy: ↵

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↵If PHX d. UTH: ↵
↵(2) DAL, (3) PHX, (4) DEN, (5) UTH. ↵
↵If UTH d. PHX and SA d. DAL: ↵
↵(2) UTH, (3) DAL, (4) PHX, (5) DEN. ↵
↵If UTH d. PHX and DAL d. SA: ↵
↵(2) DAL, (3) UTH, (4) PHX, (5) DEN. ↵
↵If POR d. GSW or DAL d. SA: ↵
↵(6) POR, (7) SA ↵
↵If GSW d. POR and SA d. DAL: ↵
↵(6) SA, (7) POR ↵

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↵NBA East: Did Derrick Rose save the best regular-season performance of his career for the moment when the Bulls needed it most? They are still in a need-to-win situation tonight; if Chicago loses and Toronto wins, the Raps are in the playoffs as the No. 8 seed ... and the Bulls are out. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points: ↵

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↵— Ooh: Rings! ↵

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↵— 4 HRs make Kershaw look like Koufax. ↵

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↵— You've gotta let Milton be Milton. ↵

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↵— One week in, Mets already out of it. ↵

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↵— Fantasy Stud: Ricky Romero (8 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 12 K) ↵

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↵NBA Draft Early Entries: Flood Continues ↵

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↵— Ekpe Udoh: Lottery pick. ↵

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↵— Darington Hobson: Likely first-rounder. ↵

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↵— Mac Koshwal: Fringe second-rounder. ↵

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↵Kentucky reloads: Brandon Knight will be the next great one-and-done PG to sign with Kentucky. All signs point to a UK commitment when he announces today. (And, given Cal's track record with PGs, why wouldn't Knight sign with him?) ↵

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↵CFB Scandals: Oh, RichRod, you're the gift that keeps on giving. ... ↵

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↵Speaking of coaches, was Lane Kiffin at Tennessee the worst college football coaching hire of the decade? Brian Cook makes a compelling argument that Derek Dooley is going to have a rough transition. ↵

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↵Brandon Marshall to the Dolphins? It gives the Fins that much-needed top-tier receiver and the Broncos an additional second-round pick in a very deep draft. More important for Denver, it eliminates an off-field distraction. They will struggle to match his on-field productivity, though. ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: The Bills want a second-rounder for RB Marshawn Lynch. Not that they will get it — although the Seahawks are rumored to be interested — but I wonder if they would try to package their natural second-rounder, 41st overall, and the new second-rounder to move into the late first to pick Tim Tebow.) ↵

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↵NFL Draft: Is Dez Bryant radioactive? PFT says at least 10 teams have taken Bryant off their boards. If it's true, those teams must have serious questions about Bryant's character. Now, before you jump to conclusions, plenty of teams discounted Percy Harvin last year — but that worked out pretty well for the Vikings (and Harvin himself). ↵

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↵CFB Offseason: Love offseason Top 10 lists. I'm with Hayes and Curtis on power runners — John Clay is a classic Wisconsin bruiser. ↵

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↵Tiger Watch: Unsurprisingly, he plans to play in the U.S. Open at Tiger-friendly Pebble Beach in June. ↵

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↵Coaching Carousel: Larry Brown back to Philly? I'm no fan of Brown's, but I respect the playoff-quality job he has done with the Bobcats this year. Still: This move feels like a regression for the Sixers. ↵

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↵Ticket Sales: Coupons? As a strategy to boost lagging ticket sales, the Jaguars were better off with "Drafting Tebow."  ↵

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↵TV: Wow, the Iverson documentary "No Crossover" was really good. Catch it on replay if you can. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "He'd never get on the field." ↵
↵— Jerry Jones, in a... um... "candid" moment, about why the Cowboys won't draft Tim Tebow. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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