Random Thoughts about the NBA 2014 Finals +

As we spring off into NBA free agency, otherwise known as The Decision II, here are my thoughts on the 2014 NBA season.

* The Spurs exercised the hell out of Game 6 demons of the 2013 Finals.  

Say what you want, but the to lose a series that was in your hands based on missing a crucial rebound and seeing Ray Allen step back and rip your hearts out with a corner three ball; live with that all summer; start your training camp by watching the film of that game making that the theme of your redemption story; work your way through the season with a game plan so precise that you not only earn the top seed in the playoffs, but none of your players averaged 30 minutes per game; work through the playoffs in the Wild Wild West including a riveting 7 games against the Mavericks… want the Heat, get the Heat, then dismantle the Heat winning 4-1 by an average of 15 points per game… that’s goal setting, game planning and execution at it’s best.  PERIOD!  That entire organization is a model of a great lesson of perseverance, unity, and trust.  Kudos the Spurs for not panicking and blowing the team up.  Kudos to Tim Duncan who played his ass off last year and missed the bunny at the end of Game 6… and continued to turn back the clock this year.  He meant what he said when he predicted victory this time.  To Danny Green who shot the lights out last year for the first couple games, then dropped off the map.  He returned with vengeance.  So did Manu, who was H20 (HumanTurnOver) in last year’s finals.  That dunk in Game 5 over Bosh and Haslem summed up his resolve.  And Boris Diaw, Mr. Do Whatever It Takes!

manu

* The Spurs are every coach’s dream.

In this day and age of  AAU one on one ego ball gone wild, the way the Spurs shared the ball, cut, moved and mixed in drives with jumpers.  Their dedicated team/accountability defense was a textbook script for successful basketball.  If the NBA were a copy-cat league like the NFL, every team would be trying to replicate the Spurs formula.  For youth and high school coaches, they should be salivating at the opportunity before them to promote team play!  I can only hope!

*The Heat Had a Helluva Run.

Four straight finals is four straight finals.  2-2 is better than the Buffalo Bills 0-4.  Nuff said!

*LeBron Haters are Ridiculous

The one thing I hated about the playoffs, is the social media hateration of LeBron James.  I don’t feel sorry for him.  He’s a champion, an MVP, and will one day be a billionaire before he becomes Hall of Famer.  But the utter jealousy of such a positive and awesome young man is very disturbing to me.  LeBron has never been in legal  trouble, never beat his wife, objectified women, has employed many people and given more of himself that most mainstream athletes over the last 25 years.  He is a talent we won’t see again in our lifetime.  And after he’s gone dammit he will be missed.  I suggest we appreciate him while we have him.   Unfortunately, some people are so utterly and distastefully jealous.  Twitter/nemes make for some bold cowards!

* What Now For The Heat

Obviously the Big 3, (Big 2 little 1) can opt in or out.  D-Wade is holding the trump card in all of this because he’s in the slot for $40 million over the next two years.  Want to know what LeBron is going to do?  Look at what D-Wade does.  He can blow this all up with a little paperwork faxed to Pat Riley in a heartbeat.  Whatever he does, business is business.  He has the right to take the loot.  But I tell you what, that guy is washed up.  A huge Wade fan from his Marquette days, I’ve long grown tired of his refusal to get back on D, (we could call him E Wade) and his whining to officials if not pointing to his teammates to pick up his man.  James logged hundreds of minutes more than anyone else on the team because they were pacing Wade.  He claimed he was healthy, so I’m going to take him at his word.  No excuses he sucked!  As much as LeBron may be able to trust Pat Riley, Pat can only do so much.  Owner Mickey Arison is NOT one to want to go into the luxury tax.  And he’s already shown that he will let players walk in order not to pay them, I.e Mike Miller.  If LeBron takes a pay cut, he’s going to demand that Arison spends that extra loot.  He’s been carrying the piano on his back long enough.  P.S. Carmelo Anthony is NOT the solution.

* Best NBA Stories of 2014

Wizards, Warriors

*Worst NBA Story 2014

Pacers/Sterling

Speaking of Sterling, after all the hub-bub of Adam Silver slinging the hammer like Thor on The Donald, it seems the Sterlings have played the NBA at their own game.  After saying none of the Sterlings’ would have anything to do with the team, it’s been leaked that the Steve Ballmer agreed to let Shelly Sterling have 2 floor seats, parking, and be ‘owner emeritus’ of the team.  If that’s not back tracking I don’t know what is.  I guess $2B wasn’t enough.  Regardless of what one thinks about whether they should have been forced to sell the team in the first place, the NBA has totally walked back just about every demand they made at the press conference.  Most notably, the NBA owners didn’t have to vote.  Which brings me to this… Why the hell hasn’t the NBA re-scheduled the vote since Donald Sterling is again suing the league?  Isn’t this why they were having the vote in the first place?  Are they not back to where they started?  I’m thinking that BOTH the Sterlings’ are playing the NBA.  Don and Shelly have been married for over 50 years.  Is it not obvious?

 

 

 

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First “The Decision,” Now There Needs To Be, “The Conversation!”

As  a true die hard Los Angeles Lakers man, in some ways I could care less about the debacle that is the Miami Heat these days.  In the whole scheme of things, this soap opera is just fodder, something to keep us talking until the playoffs start.  Champions don’t deal with such shenanigans.  And even with some of the sorry losses that Lakers have endured, my experience has always told me that in the NBA, it is after the All Star break where we begin to separate the men from the boys; the contenders from the pretenders.  Thus you see the two time defending champs clamping down on defense, moving the ball with superior precision, and rebounding with a vengeance on the way to impressive wins over OKC, Portland, and most notably a smashing of the league leading Spurs.  This is what I’m talking about.

If the Heat were a Hollywood sitcom they would be “Two and a Half Stars Men,” with Lebron James as Charlie Sheen.  And if Pat Riley can’t channel his inner Chuck Lorre, then Dwayne Wade needs to channel his Jon Cryer and step to his narcissistic side kick.  If Jame’s summertime presser was dubbed, “The Decision,” then Wade and James need to have, “The Conversation.”  I’m thinking it should go like this:

Wade: Hey King.  Real talk.  Enough of this heroic sh#!.  You trying to prove yourself at the end of every close game is hurting…

James: What?

Wade: Let me finish.  You trying to prove yourself at the end of every close game is hurting us.  Shooting threes and…

James: Hold on…

Wade: LET ME FINISH!  Every since you got here, if its a close game you act like you got to take the last shot.  We’re piling up L’s against the better teams and…

James: Wait a minute.  Do you know who the hell I am?  In case you didn’t know I’m King James.  Two time MVP!   Who else supposed to take the last shots?  If you didn’t know ask them clowns in Cleveland what I meant to them….

Wade: And in case you didn’t know that don’t mean sh#! to me!  I gotta ring!  Finals MVP – wanna see it?  Cause I can go get it for you.  When you get the ball at the end of the game, it’s because you have the ability to penetrate, and get to the basket if you can.  But that’s not where it ends.  I know about Cleveland but you forgot I ain’t Mo Williams or Boobie F’in Gibson!  I’m a stud!  A closer!  That was the point of you coming here in the first place.   We’re already thin up front, everybody knows what you are going to do at the end of games and you are playing right into their hands shooting bricks!  The first few months I ain’t said nothing to you.  I gave you space.  Enough!   F#*! your ego.  You better start finding me cause this ain’t working.  I ain’t going out like that!  I let you come to Miami.  But I’m still Tony Montana!

The two have to be separated.  James walks away angry and dismissive, cussing Wade under his breath.  His crew tells him Wade is full of sh#! and that it was Wade who begged “The King” to take his talents to South Beach in the first place.  But deep down inside, James eventually admits to himself what Wade says is true.  In his heart he knows its true anyway, but its not his fault that his teammates and management are cowards.  He won’t apologize.  But he will look to get Wade the ball in crucial situations.  In future close games James becomes the bait and Wade does what he does best.  Close games.  The Heat stay respectable able to beat anyone on a given night.  Riley works his magic and get more depth and size.  Udonis Haslem, Miami’s enforcer comes back healthy and the Heat stay relevant for several years to come.

Perfect right?

Except I don’t think Wade is going to have “The Conversation.”  He is too busy licking his own wounds to stand up to his bully buddy.  He won’t tell LeBrick that this the NBA, not AAU.

After Sunday’s loss to the Bulls, it was Wade who said, “the world is better now” because The Heat are struggling.  Cry me a river!

My message to D-Wade is that as fans we don’t give a bleep!  We saw the parade on TV a few months ago where you all acted and talked like championships were a wrap.  Now you want sympathy! Please!!!!  You brought all of this attention on yourselves!  Not merely because James went to Miami.  It was the way he did it and the way all of you acted!

Now Coach Spoelstra talks as if Cry-Gate is overblown.  Let me help him out too!  The NFL is in labor negotiations, Tiger is irrelevant,  most of us are waiting on March Madness to kick in and nobody gives a damn about spring training.   That means that for a short window the NBA is front page sports news.  Live with it.

They call me old fashioned but this much I know.  Nobody partied harder, and kicked it more than Earvin Magic Johnson back in his day.  It’s all been well documented.  But what separated dudes like him from some of these new cats is that he understood that the points of emphasis was on winning first.  If the Lakers lost, there was no party!  The parties were off the hook after wins and championships.  These new dudes got it backwards!  This is why the likes of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett will always beat them.  They’ve already learned this lesson.  Wade knows better.  But it doesn’t appear he has the heart to stand up to LeBully.

And so you have it!

LeBron, Harpo and Dan Gilbert’s Huckleberry!

In the midst of LeBron-A-Thon ending with the TV non event of the year, let’s just start with Cleveland Cavalier’s majority owner Dan Gilbert’s letter to Cav’s fans:

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Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.

This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his “decision” unlike anything ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.

The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.

There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.

You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

You have given so much and deserve so much more.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:

“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE”

You can take it to the bank.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our “motivation” to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works.

This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown “chosen one” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And “who” we would want them to grow-up to become.

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on Cleveland, Ohio.

The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.

Just watch.

Sleep well, Cleveland.

Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day….

I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:

DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue….

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Ouch!  I suppose that felt good to old ‘Danny Boy’.   But by responding in this fashion, he’s made himself look even worse than “King Prince James.”

Make no mistake about it.  This LeBron-A-Thon which started around the same time as the NBA Finals with LeBron going on Larry King, Nightline, and any other show short of Oprah, (I’m sure they called her) was a farse to begin with.  The Celtics were playing the Lakers for godsakes.  Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher were going against Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.  Doc Rivers was trying to win his second NBA title in three years as Celtics coach.  Phil Jackson was in the midst of winning his 11th as coach.  At that point, personally I didn’t give a damn about what LeBron was going to do.  His team was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.  Still he couldn’t resist but to move the attention on to himself.

The primetime ESPN special was also a joke.  How vain can one get;  Especially since the “Chosen One” that hasn’t won in the NBA?  Sure I watched it!  It was the ultimate train wreck.  I rubbernecked from start to finish and watched James sit uncomfortably as Jim Grey threw James softball after softball questions that he could not seem to hit out of the infield.  To hear James tell it, Cleveland wouldn’t be Cleveland if it were not for him.  In reality, he didn’t do more than Mark Price, Brad Daugherty, Ron Harper and Larry Nance for the Cavaliers franchise.  And two consecutive MVPs or not, the difference between he and Kobe Bryant isn’t even close.  Bryant is clearly more concerned about his historical basketball legacy in which greatness is clearly defined by championships.  James is more concerned with branding, merchandise and ego.  For all of his talents, he thinks more highly of himself than he should.   He was created to be that way since he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated while driving that Hummer around in High School.  And yea, the story is marketable in a summer where there is nothing but baseball and a boring soccer matches hardly anyone cares about.

That being said: Dan Gilbert’s self-righteous victimized rant came off as if LeBron slept with him for a night but didn’t stick around to cuddle the next morning.  This is the same man who would have given his chosen one $130 million for 6 years had James decided to stick around in C-Town.

Gilbert wants to rant on LeBron about loyalty?  Hell last I heard James was a free agent as of July 1.  This was indeed his time to choose whatever team he wanted to chose.  The real issue is that with James’ departure, the value of the Cavaliers franchise dropped faster than a bad stock.  Last night may as well be called Black Thursday as far as Gilbert is concerned.  Still I’d like to ask him about loyalty when it came to coach Mike Brown who won the most NBA games this past season.  I’d like to ask him about his courting of college coach Tom Izzo as if he were going to take the Cavaliers anywhere let alone have the respect of James as well as other NBA players.  LeBron never went to college so why would he respect a college coach?  I’d like to ask him why he ran out one of the best GMs in the league in Danny Ferry. 

Is Gilbert the pot or the kettle that’s all I’m asking here.  Now he’s barking off about how LeBron quit in the playoffs throwing the guy under the bus.  And any of this talk about leaking more of LeBron’s tresepasses I’m sure has been shut down by a phone call from David Stern.

My favorite quote of his entire letter is this one:

“The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.”

Are you serious?  Were you just watching The Color Purple Thursday afternoon because it sounded very much like what Celie told Albert:

 “Till you do right by me, everything you even think about gonna’ fail.”

The Color Purple - 11 x 17 Movie Poster - Style A

Gilbert’s eagerness to court James and willingness to give him a max deal, then slamming him as James headed to South Beach is tantamount to a thug who pursues a woman at the club.  After being turned down several times finally fires back with something like this: “F’-U then!  I didn’t want your number anyway.”

As much as James is a self-glorified egomaniac, the fact of the matter is that he did indeed give the Cavaliers and the city of Cleveland seven exciting years.  He made the team and the city a lot of money.  It was an even trade-off.   Now that the affair is over, it’s over.  Gilbert should turn the page.  And if he can’t, he should touch himself and think of the memories.

Olympics vs. Time Off

(L-R) Lebron James (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images); Dwyane Wade (Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty IMages)

So there is this story that appeard on Yahoo News about some NBA players on the Olympic team may want to skip out on this summer’s competetion at the World Championship games in Turkey.  Colangelo’s ‘gettin all gangsta’ with it too by making threats agaisnt those who don’t plan to attend without an excuse that fits his fancy.

I understand the whole three year commitment thing.   Gone are the days when cats just show up for the Olympics and feel that without a doubt we are gonna get the gold medal.  The other teams around the world are infiltrated with NBA players and players who can flat out ball.  It’s a special benefit to have the likes of Kobe, LeBron and D-Wade on the team that barely won the gold medal game last year against Spain.

Still, guys like Kobe, LeBron gave a huge commitment to the team already and they came through to bring the gold home during the last Olympic games.  They also tend to play deep into June with their respective teams.  Colangelo’s Phoenix Suns don’t really have players who can say that.  These superstar players who take their teams to the conference championship and Finals need their rest.  I don’ t think its reasonable to expect that they carry the league and never have time to rest their bodies during the summer.

Taking the summer of 2010 off with a promise to jump back in for 2011 before the games in London a year later when it really counts is probably a smart thing.

I’m afraid though that  some executives don’t look at it like that.  They want to drain the brothers of all they have as if they are machines.

Reminds of of the book 40 Million Dollar Slaves.

Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete