So once upon a time, when the Blob was just a wee Blob and television was three channels and rabbit ears, there was this Western called "The Guns of Will Sonnett." It starred crotchety senior citizen Walter Brennan in the title role, and Walter Brennan's character had the habit of introducing himself by saying both his son and grandson were pretty good with a six-shooter, but "I'm better'n both of 'em."
Then he'd say this: "No brag. Just fact."
Which of course brings us to LeBron James this morning.
Who again last night was a force of nature, going for 40 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists even though his Cavaliers lost by 13 to Golden State in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
Who is averaging 36.6 points, 12.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists in the Finals and is only the second player in history to record a 40-point triple-double in the championship round.
Who, with the Cavs down 3-2 now, was asked last night if he remained confident.
His answer: Yes. Because "I'm the best player in the world."
No doubt some people will be upset with him for this.
I'm not, because I remember Walter Brennan as Will Sonnett, and I remember the essential truth of his homey Western gunslinger-ism. No brag, just fact is what LeBron gave the assembled media last night, and it was refreshing to hear.
I've never been a fan of false modesty or TranscriptSpeak, mainly because it's about all we get these days when the minicams and cellphone vids go on. And that's how we like it. Everyone says we want honesty from our public figures, but we're lying. We want TranscriptSpeak. And so that's what we get.
But now comes LeBron, who was asked a simple question and gave a simple, honest answer. It looks like arrogance on the page, but it didn't sound like it. It just sounded like ... well, a simple, honest answer to a simple question.
I'm sure he does remain confident. And he is the best player in the world. What's the problem here?
I see none. I see "no brag, just fact." And, as a journalist, I kind of like fact.
Here's another: The only other player in NBA history to record a 40-point triple-double in the Finals was Jerry West in 1969. West that year averaged 38 points in the Finals and became the only player from a losing team ever to be named MVP.
If the Cavs can't rally, LeBron will be the second whether the NBA says so or not. And if it doesn't, it'll be (to borrow from John McEnroe) the all-time you-cannot-be-serious moment.
No brag. Just fact.