Before we get to the World Cup Final, I’d be remiss to add another couple thoughts about LeBron.
- As is often the case, Joe Posnanski explained it the best. On national TV, a 25 year old prodigy at the height of his powers admitted he did not want to be an immortal. A-Rod to Jeter, Pippen to Jordan. It was just too much work.
- It’s clear LeBron self identifies as a winner. He follows the Yankees and Cowboys though he is an Ohioan. He is a frontrunner. Being able to hang with some friends while feeding his frontrunning tendencies was all too typical.
- Titles are not entitled. When LeBron talked about wanting a chance to win – somehow (as flawed as the Cavs were) a team with 128 wins in 2 seasons is not a non-contender. But he sees himself as a winner, and cannot handle the notion that he isn’t. Rick Reilly said “He doesn’t need to win like he needs his next breath, like Lance Armstrong.” This is wrong. More accurately he needs to be a winner more desperately than anybody. He does not feel the need to be the best to do so – he just likes the glow.
Now onto the World Cup, and a somewhat less than riveting Spain win over the Netherlands:
- The officials, awful all World Cup, kept it up. The Netherlands did deserve more fouls – they were very chippy once they realized they could not take possession from Spain. They got physical. But the yellow card fever was way too much, especially considering that most of the offenses were dives. Moreover the one foul by De Jong which WAS a red card worthy offense, the refs missed.
- Spain scored the fewest goals of any World Cup winner, but they were not a negative side. Really with Fernando Torres’ horrendous tournament, the team lacked (besides the great David Villa) finishing touch. When you possess without finishing, it becomes agonizing at times. But Spain, their defense was excellent throughout – 0 goals allowed in the knockout stage says it all.
- And Spain was positive! In overtime and the last few minutes, Spain was the one who chased the win – the Dutch, partially due to exhaustion, were clearly staring at the clock. When Iniesta scored the magical goal – it was fully deserved. Spain kept trying.
- Full marks to the Dutch though. They played pragmatically, and a bit negatively. But they outplayed Spain for a large portion of the middle hour of regulation, and Iker Casilla’s brilliance kept them from winning. The Dutch did what they had to do – and it was almost enough.
- Maybe wanting a truly great winner take all soccer game is impossible. The tension, how much the sides care, the fear of making THE big mistake. It prevents teams from going balls to the wall. Only Spain did at the end in this game. But a cautious defensive yuckfest might be the default state.