Archive for July, 2010

Rajon Rondo has voiced what every normal NBA fan has been thinking.

Are the Miami Heat really going to be that good? This is a question that has been asked outside South Beach ever since LeBron James decided to “takes his talents” there.

“They should be good, but they ain’t done nothing yet,” Rondo said after a recent practice during Team USA’s minicamp. “They ain’t done nothing.” Sure, they “ain’t done nothing” but why confuse the issue with facts?

This comment has caused most sports writers and all Miami Heat fans to go in to convulsions. I mean really, how can anybody question the total dominance of the Miami Heat? They have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. I mean, DWYAN WADE then LeBron and Chris Bosh. Let’s not forget whose team it really is.

But why are Rondo’s comments so news worthy?  Did you expect him to say, “Yeah, those guys are so awesome that we have no chance. We might as well give up.” No one in their right mind is going to say that. (Except maybe Joe Johnson.)

And let’s not forget: Rajon Rondo actually has a championship ring. And that is something that LeBron and Bosh do not have. There are many other players in the league that have championship rings, but LeBron and Bosh are not among them. Between the two of them they have zero rings. Bosh has never sniffed the Finals and the only time LeBron made it the Cleveland Cavaliers got swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

So who is Rondo worried about?

“I’m worried about L.A.” he said. “That’s the team we need to beat. Miami looks really good on paper, and I’m sure they’re going to be really good. But they still have to come together as a team. I’m not saying they won’t, but who knows if those guys can jell?”

And that is the major question that needs to be answered. Can these guys actually play together? Sure it looks god on paper but does it translate to the court?

And there are more questions. Is Dwyane Wade still going to be the focus of the offense? Can LeBron accept being second banana? Will Chris Bosh be cool with carrying LeBron’s gym bag? These are serious questions that need to be answered.

And think about this. All the pressure is on the Heat to win it all. The Boston Celtics and Orlando magic can easily sneak up and win it all.

And even if the Heat do manage to win the East, they will still most likely have the Los Angeles Lakers to contend with. And I don’t care who you are, that’s going to be a tough series.

So once again, before we crown the Miami Heat “The Best Team Ever” let’s at least let them play one game. And once they are 1-0, then we can give them the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Let’s just hope they don’t go 0-1, because then the universe might implode.

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Call it the LeBron effect.

It seems like every young star in the NBA wants to form a Super Team and contend for a title. Chris Paul is the latest player who has swallowed the Kool Aid and I feel sorry for him. He’s trying to follow in the footsteps of LeBron James, and I feel that he will fall even farther than LeBron did.  The average fan has no more tolerance for this kind of stuff.

Chris Paul means a lot to the city of New Orleans. Just like the Saints do. Like LeBron once meant to Cleveland. And now he wants to leave and go to a contender. His first sets of teams were the New York Knicks, Orlando magic or the Los Angeles Lakers. (Thankfully the Lakers signed Matt Barnes. A move that I wholeheartedly agreed with.) Now he has dropped the Lakers and added the Portland Trailblazers and Dallas Mavericks to his wish list.

I have no problem with a free agent going to wherever he wants. But there is one thing that you have to remember: Chris Paul still has two years left on his contract. He is forcing a trade. Or maybe he’s bluffing.

So maybe this is more of a Kobe Bryant move than a LeBron move. Not quite. Kobe was talking about going to the Los Angeles Clippers or the Chicago Bulls. Neither of those teams had a superstar for him to join up with. He was going to be The Man on both of those teams. So this is more of a LeBron-I-Can’t-Do-It-On-My-Own move.

And make no mistake about it; any team would love to have Chris Paul on their roster. He is in the top five point guards of the NBA.

In my opinion the point guards rank this way:

  1. Deron Williams
  2. Russell Westbrook
  3. Dwyane Wade
  4. Steve Nash
  5. Chris Paul

Chris Paul is fifth only because he has been injured. And once you have been injured it’s very possible for you to continue to be injured. Just ask Andrew Bynum and Greg Oden (aka Mr. Glass).

So if Chris Paul leaves New Orleans I certainly hope he can stay healthy because whatever team signs him will be totally screwed if he gets hurt again.

If he goes to New York he is definitely hoping that Carmelo Anthony joins him in 2011. And that is a pretty big leap of faith. I don’t know what he’s thinking if he goes to Dallas or Portland. Both teams are good but there is no way they are getting passed the Lakers. He might as well stay in New Orleans and be a pillar of the community.

Orlando makes the most sense for him. The magic can ship Vince Carter and Jameer Nelson to New Orleans in exchange for Chris Paul (I refuse to use the name CP3). That makes an already loaded Eastern Conference even more interesting.

You have the Big Three in both Boston and Miami, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard in Orlando and a reloaded Chicago Bulls team. Those four teams might be able to shake the “Leastern Conference” label once and for all. Those four teams will make the second round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs VERY watchable. As opposed to the last ten years.

And any one of those teams will lose admirably to the Los Angeles Lakers.

I absolutely love the signing of Matt Barnes by the Los Angeles Lakers.

I know a lot of people were getting excited by the possibility of the Lakers getting Chris Paul but I tell you, Matt Barnes is better for the Lakers.

The Lakers would have to give up too much to get Chris Paul. Lamar Odom and Steve Blake plus some draft pick would have to be headed to New Orleans in order for CP3 to wear the Purple and Gold. So the Lakers would basically have to decimate their bench to get Paul. Not the best situation. Plus Chris Paul doesn’t really fit in with the Triangle Offense. He needs to create off the dribble and improvise.

With Matt Barnes the Lakers have a bench of Barnes, Odom, Blake and Shannon Brown. Those four could start for any other team in the NBA. Compare that to a bench of Derek Fisher, Brown and Sasha Vujacic. That’s a no brainer in my book. The former is greater than the latter.

And Matt Barnes is a beast on defense. Just think back to The Orlando Magic’s game against the Lakers this season where Barnes went after Kobe Bryant all game. Anyone who can consistently get in the face of the Best Player in the Game has my respect. To quote Ron Artest, “Matt has the heart off a lion on steroids wit extra chest hairs and three testicles screaming “Adrian “!!!!!! And Ron knows something about the heart of a lion and all that other stuff.

Matt Barnes will give fits to the Big Three from both Miami and Boston. He gives the Lakers more toughness and an even better defense. Matt Barnes will be the NBA version of the “enforcer” of the NHL. I can already see LeBron James getting an elbow to the jaw and I approve.

All I can say is,”Welcome home, Matt (he went to UCLA) and start getting fitted for that championship ring!”

I’ve been away for awhile. I was on a well deserved mini vacation and my sister decided to have her first child last Saturday. So, I’m an uncle once again. (You can see little Noah here.)

I’ve still been following the sports happenings though. And one of the trends that I see has me a little perplexed. The reaction to the reloaded Miami Heat has been crazy. They have simultaneously become the Most Loved and Most Hated Team in the NBA. And the people that love them REALLY love them. They are even using the term “Dynasty” to describe a team that, to my knowledge hasn’t even practiced together yet. Some people are musing about where this team fits in with the All Time Great NBA teams.

So where do they rank?

The short answer: They don’t.

The Long Answer: is quite a bit longer. How about we let these guys play at least ONE GAME before we start to put them in the same category as the Celtics, the Lakers, the Bull and the Spurs? And as far as the “Heat Dynasty” goes, one championship back in 2006 does not make a dynasty.

I’ve been hearing things like “LeBron plus D Wade and Chris Bosh equals 20 Championships!” I love the optimism but something tells me that LeBron is not going to play for 27 years. I really didn’t understand the hype surrounding this team.

And then I realized what this really is. It’s a shortcut to a title. People get tired of putting in the work and want a shortcut. LeBron James got tired of putting in a WHOLE LOT of work and not getting any rings. So he took a shortcut. And there may not be anything wrong with that. That is there wouldn’t be if the whole sports media (and many fans) had not already dubbed him “The Greatest Ever.” I can see ESPN spinning his defection from Cleveland to Dwayne Wade’s team on a daily basis. They have even gone so far as to call out Michael Jordan. The argument goes like this: “Hey, Jordan had Pippen when he won his titles. He couldn’t do it by himself.” True, but Jordan didn’t go play with Pippen. Or Toni Kukoc, or Dennis Rodman. They came to him. They wanted to play with the best player in the league.

I think Jordan summed it up best recently when he said that while he would never have done what LeBron did, he understands that things are different now. Aside from a very few players in all of sports no one has that same drive and will to win that Jordan and Magic Johnson or Larry Bird had.

We live in a different time. Our whole culture is about shortcuts. American Idol, The Jersey Shore, the Bachelor; it’s about being famous for being famous. It’s about getting from point A to point B in the shortest time possible. And with the least amount of work.

So when Noah gets old enough to understand I plan to show him plenty of videos of Magic and Bird, Jordan and Kobe. Hopefully he will take away those lessons of hard work and having the will to be the best you possibly can be.

And if that doesn’t work I’ll throw some funny videos of him on YouTube and see if he can get an acting job from that.

Open Letter to Fans from Cavaliers Majority Owner Dan Gilbert

 

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….

Dan Gilbert
Majority Owner
Cleveland Cavaliers

I almost hate to admit this but here we go: Stephen A. Smith was right. LeBron James is joining Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to play for the Miami Heat.

Conventional wisdom says that this move has shifted the balance of power in the NBA to South Beach. Forget about the Los Angeles and the Boston Celtics. Sorry Orlando Magic. Maybe some other time Phoenix Suns.

Everyone must cower at the feet of the Miami Heat.

Or maybe not.

This was possibly the worst decision that LeBron could have made. Make no mistake; the Miami Heat is Dwayne Wade’s team. LeBron will be the Number Two man on this team. He’s Scottie Pippen. He’s Pau Gasol. Now, that’s no slight against Scottie and Pau but no one is mentioning them in the same breath as Michael Jordan. You don’t see Scottie in those Hanes commercials do you? LeBron is supposed to be the next Jordan. He’s supposed to be the Greatest Player in the Game. He wears #23 for god’s sake.

But in order for him to be the Greatest he has to be The Man where ever he goes. He would be The Man in Cleveland or New York. He could even push Derrick Rose aside and be The Man in Chicago. But in Miami he’ll be just another sidekick. At least he’ll be wearing #6 and leave #23 for superstars.

I know people are already salivating over the potential for a loaded team like this. This is going to be the New Dream Team. The question isn’t IF this team will win a title but how MANY titles will it win? How can this team possibly lose, right?

Just remember the 2003-04 Los Angeles Lakers. They had a starting five that consisted of Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, Gary Payton and some other guy (I’m just kidding, it was Rick Fox). Take a look at that lineup: Hall of Famer, Hall of Famer, Hall of Famer, Hall of Famer and Rick Fox’s hair gel. That’s a Dream Team if I ever saw one. So what happened? They got beat down by the “no-name” Detroit Pistons in the Finals and lost 4-1.

Let’s not forget that he just ripped the heart out of Ohio on national TV. All of Northeast Ohio is now on suicide watch. One thing is for sure: LeBron James has now surpassed Art Modell as the Most Hated Man in Cleveland.

To be sure, having another Big Three in the NBA will be a great thing. That hype machine will keep every sports writer employed for the next five years. They may even win a title or two.

But mostly this move will diminish LeBron’s stature.

Maybe we should all start calling him Prince James.

The Summer of LeBron has officially started and I couldn’t be happier. It’s amazing to see every sports talk show totally consumed by where one player will go. The hyperbole is flying fast and furious; “This will change the face of the NBA forever,” “Franchises will be made or destroyed,” “We must all bow down to our new overlord, LeBron.” Okay, I made that last one up. But would you be surprised if some talking head actually said that? Me either.

And it’s something new every day. On Monday King James was going to Chicago. Done deal. Tuesday he was definitely going to Miami. Done deal. Wednesday the Nets were in the driver’s seat. This whole thing is more confusing than any episode of Lost.

But there is one thing that is for certain; if Lebron James does indeed leave Cleveland his legacy is tarnished forever.

First we need to get a few things out of the way. I am not a LeBron Hater. I think he is an amazing talent. A freak of nature. He is better at basketball than any of us will ever be at anything in our lives. He is arguably the second best player in the league today. I’m sorry but Kobe has the Number One spot locked down as of now (and Kevin Durant is moving up fast). Yes, I am a Laker fan and will be one till the day I die. But that doesn’t stop me from criticizing Kobe Bryant when he deserves it. Let’s face it; he sucked for three quarters in Game 7 of this year’s NBA finals. But 10 points in the 4th quarter kind of saved the game for him.

Back to LeBron. Let’s say he does go to Miami (with Chris Bosh) to play with Dwayne Wade. Stephan A. Smith has reported that it is a “done deal.” What does that mean? First, it means that he has left the Cleveland Cavaliers, his only team for the last seven years. Second, it means that he is trying to manufacture a title. I know people are already salivating over the possibility of a team like this coming together. I mean this team will be loaded! The question isn’t IF this team will win a title but how MANY titles will it win? How can this team possibly lose, right?

Let’s talk about another “loaded” team for a second. I give you the 2003-04 Los Angeles Lakers. They had a starting five that consisted of Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, Gary Payton and some other guy (I’m just kidding, it was Rick Fox). Take a look at that lineup: Hall of Famer, Hall of Famer, Hall of Famer, Hall of Famer and Rick Fox’s hair gel. That looks like the Western Conference All-Stars. And what happened to this “loaded” team? They got man-handled by the “no-name” Detroit Pistons in the Finals and lost 4-1. Really, did you know who Chauncey Billups was before that series?  Come on, the guy’s name is Chauncey.

So before you start counting the rings that a team of LeBron, D Wade and Bosh are going to win, think about those Lakers.

Besides, there is something to be said for superstars that stay and win with only one team; Michael Jordan with the Bulls, Kobe with the Lakers, Tim Duncan with the Spurs.

Jordan endured years of mediocre Bulls teams before he won his first title. After Shaquille O’Neal left the Lakers, Kobe was running up and down the court with Chris Mihm, Kwame Brown and Smush Parker. Yikes. Tim Duncan actually came into a very good Spurs team and only had to show up in the playoffs when David Robinson would wilt under the pressure.

What does all this have to do with LeBron? Simple. Superstars bring talent to them; they do not flee to other teams. And make no mistake; if he goes to Miami he is going to Dwayne Wade’s team. D Wade is going to be The Man, not LeBron. Can you imagine Jordan going to the Knicks to play second fiddle to Patrick Ewing or Kobe going to Plilly and deferring to Allan Iverson? That wouldn’t happen in a million years.

And let’s look at the way LeBron would be leaving Cleveland. Think about the series against the Boston Celtics. The words “quit” and “give up” immediately come to mind. And not just LeBron, I’m talking about the whole team. Do you think Jordan or Kobe would ever let that happen? And then LeBron makes it worse by saying he has “spoiled” Cleveland fans and has only had “three bad games” in seven years. For someone who is so consumed about his image, he couldn’t have handled that worse. If he does leave, he will surpass Art Modell as the Most Hated Man in Cleveland. To leave under those circumstances looks like you are giving up and running away.

And that is not the kind of legacy you want. Especially if you’re a King.