61 now beats 100

There are many reasons why I love March Madness.

The first two days of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament are the two best consecutive days on the sports calendar. It’s never going to be a national holiday, but that won’t keep me from taking those days off and watching basketball until my eyes bleed.

But one of the best things about tuning into CBS and its family of networks means that, for the next six months, I will have no use for ESPN.

I can watch baseball on my laptop, and until college football begins at the end of August, what other reason is there to turn on the four-letter network?

ESPN has turned into a joke, and never has that been more evident than during the million episodes of SportsCenter on Tuesday. There was quite a bit going on in world of sports – college basketball, NHL trade deadline, MLB spring training – but what was the topic of conversation for most of the day?

LeBron James, of course. Despite my love of college basketball, I’m not a fan of the NBA, and I’m not a fan of James, and ESPN deserves a good portion of the blame.

He’s a great basketball player, perhaps the best of his generation, and perhaps he deserves to be covered a little bit more than some other great players in that league.

But ESPN has managed to do something that shouldn’t be possible. The network has made James overrated.

There was a shot of a television screen circulating on social media Tuesday afternoon, showing the rundown of topics on SportsCenter. All of them were about James and the Miami Heat.

Just a few of those topics: The King’s Masterpiece; LeBron in the Zone; Historic Performance; King James Encore? But the most absurd – Best Scoring Night Ever?

If you told nine out of 10 sports fans that an NBA player had the best scoring night ever, the response would be “Wow, someone broke Wilt Chamberlain’s record of 100 points in a game. Incredible.”

Did James do that? No. Did he have the second-highest scoring game? No, that still belongs to Kobe Bryant (81 points).

The 61 points that James scored is tied for the 42nd most points ever in an NBA game. That’s right, 41 times someone has scored more points in a game, so how can ESPN wonder if this was the “best scoring night ever.”

I have an easy answer to that question – they can’t.

It wasn’t even the best scoring night this season. That would be the 62 points Carmelo Anthony scored for the Knicks on Jan. 24.

Yes, James is a great player, and he might even be one of the best ever when he’s done, but he’s got a long way to go. For some perspective, in 1961-62, the season that Chamberlain had his 100-point game, he scored 61 points or more a dozen times.

Yes, Chamberlain matched or bettered James 12 times in one season, but we’re supposed to believe LeBron’s scoring night was the best ever.

I will be laughing about this one until the Final Four.

Joe Marchilena can be reached at 594-6478 or jmarchilena@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Marchilena on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeM).