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Mike James’ EuroLeague season was one for the ages, for numbers and style

17/04/2019
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The highlights video starts with a nine-meter three in Barcelona and ends with the winning three printed on Vasiljie Micic, of Efes, face. In between there are assists between the legs (31 times in 21 games James assisted Gudaitis, 28 times in 24 games he did the same with Tarczewski), acrobatic field goals made while absorbing a foul, step-back threes, or made by moving laterally, balls stolen, sudden dunks, unexpected by a player of his size and the unexplainable underhanded shot made in Madrid. Completing a Top Ten video of Mike James’s European plays involves only one problem: there are plenty of plays to choose from. Finally, take a look at the plays that were not included. They can make an additional Top Ten video. There are many ways to define Mike James’ season: he is the first to not consider himself the competition’s MVP, because he has not won enough games with Olimpia, but strength is in numbers and he has produced a historical season in many aspects. He stopped five points shy of the 600 for the season, he was the first in the index rating, the best in points, minutes, fouls drawn, field goals made, threes made, free throws made and attempted. He was second in assists, third in steals and – pay attention, please – 15th in defensive rebounds. And is he also the most “hated” player in Europe as he sometimes suspects? Maybe, but “let the haters hate”, or let the critics criticize or look for what’s wrong with a player without looking at how much of what he does is working in a spectacular way. In this regard, Mike James is similar to Russell Westbrook: he is a volume player, who collects video game numbers and heroisms that amaze everybody, until the next mistake takes place. Because when you play at a thousand miles per hour pace and take risks, mistakes also come. No one is infallible. And nobody played over a thousand minutes during the EuroLeague regular season. You don’t play that much without making a mistake and every one of your feat has a risk involved. Mike James finished first in points and second in assists. In the history of EuroLeague it had happened only once before. He scored 35 points once and once dished 12 assists, he scored the winning three with Efes and the winning free throws against Khimki. Well, don’t forget it. Don’t forget what Mike James has done all season long.