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!

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* 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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Basketball At It’s Finest

I love the game of basketball. It’s a great game; A game of strategy, intelligence, talent, athleticism and teamwork.

I started watching the pro and college games in 1980 when the Showtime Lakers won their first championship Magic Johnson’s rookie year. Though I am a Laker lifer, I’ve always enjoyed watching other good teams play. I remember the Milwaukee Bucks of old with Moncrief and Pressey, the 76ers with Doc, Toney, Moses and Bobby Jones, the Celtics of course and so on. These teams were fun to watch and watching them taught me how the game was played on the highest level.

The resurgence of the NBA was ushered in by the rivalry of the Celtics/Lakers series and of course the duality of Magic and Bird. Basketball came up again and drew many fans from many demographics. The Michael Jordan apex happened at a time when cable TV and the 24 hour sports expansion of media and marketing went to a new level. As great at Jordan was as a player, in so many ways the game itself suffered as many of the upcoming players only focused on Jordan’s individual one on one exploits. They rarely took notice of his all-defensive team selections, or the genius of the Triangle Offense. Those things are affective and essential to winning championships, but the NBA doesn’t market the game this way. They continue to focus on personalities and individual glamourized talent. They want us enamored with LeBron James, but not Tim Duncan. But you see Tim Duncan has four championships, and LeBron has none.

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This is what I thought of yesterday as I watched Game 2 of the Western Conference finals between San Antonio and Oklahoma City.

For me the “Triangle,” when executed properly is probably the most poetic and fluent offense that I’ve witnessed. It gives multiple options to each of the five players on the court. But what I saw last night for the first three quarters from the Spurs was nothing short of basketball perfection!

You talk about mastering the pick and roll, spacing, dribble penetration, drawing the defense in, making the extra pass, then making shots to a point of making the game look like an award winning work of art.  The Spurs were like an orchestra owning the stage and captivating the audience. I was awed by what I saw.

What Tony Parker did to Russell Westbrook was a crime. It was an execution. Parker basically took Westbrook over his knee and spanked him for thinking he could compete on his level at playoff time. Watching Parker was like watching Pete Sampras and Roger Federer at Wimbledon during their hey-days. If it were a play they would have called it, “Murder at the Alamo!” Westbrook like the basketball child he is, failed to see the irony of what was happening to him and tried to dribble and one on one his way out of his whooping.

By the way… James Hardin is a way better basketball player than Russell Westbrook. I’m just sayin. But I digress!

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This is what basketball is up against. TEAMS win championships, but individuals are marketed and packaged to sell the game more than they should be. It’s not like I can’t appreciate the talent LeBron and others have. The problem is that they feel they have to rely on that talent alone to prove their perceived worth to those of us watching as well as those reporting.

I see this as a basketball official. At lower levels a talented individual can definitely win some games for you. But I witness more than I can count the number of teams that I see who can simply pass, shoot, rebound and defend as a unit methodically crucifies the teams with better individual talent.

Look at Spurs coach Greg Popovich; He’s been with the same team his entire career, has won, lost, and now is winning again. Unlike other coaches, his voice has never worn on his star veteran players. I think that speaks volumes for veteran guys like Duncan, Parker and Ginobili. What about the job RC Buford has done with the personnel? They have managed to add Stephen Jackson, and Boris Diaw to a group of savvy veterans and ultimate team players to make this run. It’s amazing. Yet the league will not sell them to the public.

You need not be a rocket scientist to see what is going to happen here. The Heat and the Spurs will be in the Finals. And the Heat, even with the greatness of Wade and the talent of James, don’t have a chance!

I just hope that young people who play this game are paying attention.