The eyes of the NBA were fixed on Boston last night. Meanwhile, in Orlando, Florida, the best player of his generation showcased everything that made him who he is in a vintage, virtuoso performance. Hardly anyone noticed.
While the Warriors battled to keep their perfect season alive against the Celtics, LeBron James and the Cavaliers quietly delivered their best performance of the season: a 111-76 dismantling of a Magic team that finds itself above .500 a quarter of the way into the season.
It's amazing to think that LeBron could ever play basketball under the radar. This is the man who orchestrated The Decision. The man who recently had a supporting role in a Hollywood movie that grossed $110 million at the box office domestically. The man who just signed a lifetime contract with Nike.
Yet that's the state of the NBA in 2015. Every story begins and ends with Stephen Curry and the Warriors, and everything else is secondary.
That's the way it should be, by the way. Starting a season 24-0 is an incredible accomplishment, and Curry has played unbelievably well. They deserve all of the attention and praise they receive.
Lost in all of that attention, though, is the fact that a soon-to-be-31-year-old LeBron is having his best season since leaving Miami. His turnovers are down from last season, and his shooting percentage is up. Last night, he scored 20 points in the first half, with his range of skills -- passing like a point guard and driving to the basket like a freight train -- on full display.
If it seems like the greatness of LeBron has been underappreciated so far this year, it's not solely due to the Warriors. Part of it is also because of what is expected of LeBron. He should be playing this way. I'm reminded of something Seerat Sohi wrote in Rolling Stone around this time last year:
Sports double as portal to an imaginary world and somewhere along the way, we forget these Herculean people are still, you know, people. Nowhere is that more apparent with LeBron. His relationship with the expectations game - the unrelenting myth, the incorrigible rhetoric - make anything less than a revelation disappointing.
We have come to expect unparalleled greatness. When we get anything less, it isn't particularly noteworthy.
Still, it's worth taking a moment to recognize the importance of appreciating LeBron while it's still possible. It won't be long before games like the one he played last night are no longer the norm. Father Time is undefeated, as the cliché goes.
But right now, LeBron James can still play like LeBron James. And it's fun to watch.