CHICAGO - In his timeless classic Blowin' in the Wind, the great Bob Dylan once asked, "how many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?"
In these 2018 NBA playoffs, a parallel question yearns to be asked: How many more game-winners and how many more records must LeBron James break before he is called the greatest of all time?
The answer, my friends, is still pending as LeBron continues to write a storybook career which will no doubt become a best-seller at his Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies a few years down the road.
The latest chapter was a buzzer-beater that carried the Cleveland Cavaliers to a heart-stopping 105-103 victory over the shell-shocked Toronto Raptors in Game Three of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Saturday night (Sunday, Manila time) at the Quicken Loans Arena.
"Don't try it at home," LeBron said of his latest caper - a one-legged, right-handed shot that he gently kissed off the glass while fading away to his left.
As difficult as child birth, the shot rewrote the laws of physics and defied gravity as LeBron seemed to linger in the air longer than mammals with two feet and no wings. But then again, is LeBron human or an Avenger?
Through 10 games in the 2018 playoffs, the King is averaging 34.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.8 assists. Game Three was his 227th postseason contest, including four buzzer-beaters, according to NBA.com.
In pushing the Raptors to a 3-0 deficit, LeBron tallied 38 points, six boards and seven dimes. And he got just enough reinforcement to parry a Toronto team that, to their credit, showed a lot of fight after two deflating home losses at the Air Canada Centre.
Kevin Love finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds. Kyle Korver hit four 3s and settled with 18 while Jeff Green added 11 off the bench. Cleveland, which never trailed from opening tip to final horn and led by 17 early in the third quarter, hit nine of 25 treys and 38 of 79 field goals overall.
The Raptors, down 14 entering the fourth quarter, knotted the count at 103-all after OG Anunoby drilled a left wing 3 with eight seconds to go. And then LeBron happened.
Given the grit they possessed and the heart they showed, do the Raptors still have a chance?
In the history of the NBA playoffs. teams with 3-0 leads are 127-0. Getting out of this hole is like scaling the peak of Mt. Everest without climbing tools and winter clothing. When you are in a 0-3 hole, the only phone call you make is to the funeral director to whom last wishes are conveyed.
As their season was blowing up in flames, the Raptors best player - DeMar DeRozan - sat on the sidelines, pulled with 2:16 left in the third quarter and glued to the bench the rest of the way.
Tallying only eight points, DeRozan was a frigid 3-of-12 from the field with three turnovers. He definitely needed a break but benching him in the entire fourth quarter was a perplexing move that may have cost Toronto coach Dwane Casey his job.
In Game 7 of the 1994 NBA Finals, a game New York lost to Houston, Knicks guard John Starks was an abysmal 2-for-18 from the field including an 0-for-11 fare from 3-point range. But coach Pat Riley kept Starks on the floor believing that his star earned the right to fight his way back as shooters soften do. I remember this well because I made the play-by-play call on this game on live radio at dyMF Bombo Radyo.
DeRozan had a crappy outing but without him, his leadership, his production, the Raptors wouldn't even be where they are now to begin with. To paraphrase Riley, "I went with the guy that got us here."
Fred VanVleet, the dude who ate some of DeRozan's minutes didn't exactly have a feast, finishing with eight points, going 2-of-9 form the field and 1-of-7 from long distance.
In the larger scheme of things, how can Toronto lure top free agents when its coach has a history of bailing out on his All-Star when the going got rough?
PHILADELPHIA HEAT. Sixers head coach Brett Brown is taking a lot of heat for his team's 3-0 deficit at the hands of the iron-willed Boston Celtics.
Could he have prepared his team better in Game One? Maybe.
Could he have reacted better and made more adjustments after the Celtics overcame a 22-point Game Two deficit? Perhaps.
But Brown had no hand in the crucial turnovers - one by J.J. Redick in regulation and one by Joel Embiid in overtime - that cost Philly Game Three.
With their twin towers and plethora of shooters, do the Sixers have a chance to make history and run the table?
No. The Celtics are too talented and too well-coached to lose four in a row at this stage.
The Sixers need to make the same phone call the Raptors are about to make.
To the funeral director.