The NBA has changed greatly over the years. For that, LeBron James can be grateful.
James shot the Celtics bench daggers throughout the Cavaliers' 107-76 nationally televised beatdown on the defending world champions.
That was a whole lot of glaring and showboating as James was dunking, swatting shots and drilling 3-pointers at will against a wounded and defenseless Boston club that didn't show up to play yesterday afternoon in Cleveland.
In a little over 30 minutes, he scored 29 points, dished out seven assists and left a bunch of seething Celtics in his wake.
In the old days, such showboating might get him clotheslined by Kevin McHale, upended by M.L. Carr, shoved to the floor by Cedric Maxwell, elbowed by Bob Brannum or KO'd by Jim Loscutoff.
But in the modern era, a little flash and dash is accepted, even encouraged.
The operative words being "a little."
James has been having a good time for himself this whole season as the high-flying Cavs are one win away from tying Boston's mark for the best-ever home record (40-1) and boast a gaudy 65-15 record.
James' pregame choreography would make the director of Cirque du Soleil blush. He pretends to be a photographer while his teammates do various outrageous poses.
If you are a Cavs fan, you howl with delight. If you are a rival, you plot how you can cut the suddenly-too-full-of-himself James down to size.
There is no question, James can back it up.
And then some.
He's 24-years-old and is arguably side by side with Tiger Woods as the transcendent sports icons in the world.
But, still, he's never won the big one in his five-plus seasons in the NBA and he's mocking the world champion Celtics? When Kevin Garnett isn't even suited up?