Posts Tagged ‘lebron james’

 

By Dylan Davis

 

I was surfing the worldwide interwebs the other day when I came across this article by Joe Posnanski. In it, Posnanski lays out 14 baseball stats that mean nothing in the larger scheme of things, but are interesting nuggets of information when laid out by themselves. For example, did you know that Aubrey Huff has more career doubles than Mickey Mantle does? That’s not to say that Aubrey Huff is a better player than Mick is, (he certainly is not) but his hitting style just happens to produce more doubles than Mantle. That was interesting, but the stat that caught my eye for a number of reasons had to do with Johnny Damon.

 

Damon has amassed 2,662 hits over his 17-year career, while Ted Williams only piled up 2,654. Now, Williams has batted over 1,500 fewer times than Damon over his career (he was sent off to war twice and didn’t have Damon’s incredible streak of 16 straight seasons with 140 games played) and by almost any other stat (batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, etc…) Williams is far superior baseball player. While we all know that Williams is one of the greatest pure hitters to ever grace a baseball diamond, my thoughts immediately shifted to Damon’s career. As I quickly perused Damon’s career stats (2,662 hits, 224 HR’s, 1,088 RBI, and almost 400 steals) I quickly came to the uneducated opinion that Johnny Damon is a Hall of Famer. Now, that sentence may look ridiculous because, let’s be honest, Damon is more well known for looking like Jesus on the 2004 Red Sox than he is for his incredible baseball career

 

As I thought about it some more, I came to realize that the reason why it seemed so preposterous for Damon to be a Hall of Famer is because I have never heard a single baseball pundit even mention the possibility of Damon in the Hall of Fame. Sure, Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki, Albert Pujols, and Alex Rodriguez (minus the steroid allegations and centaur pictures) all have gaudier numbers than Damon, but that doesn’t exclude Damon from being a Hall of Famer himself. Like it or not, a majority of the day-to-day sports information that we get is twisted in some way by the media. Sure, you can look at box scores until you’re blue in the face if you want 100% unbiased information, but most people want to go deeper than that. Looking at purely stats led me to believe that Johnny Damon is a potential Hall of Famer, but a player’s legacy is more shaped by the media nowadays than ever before. In fact, let’s look at the ways media shapes the way we view sports today.

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By Will Robinson

 

The 2011 NBA Finals are kicking off tonight with the Dallas Mavericks tipping off in Miami against the Heat. Even though barely any players from the 2006 Finals remain, this will be considered a rematch of the controversial series. Here is a position by position breakdown for the starters, as well as looking at the bench as a whole, along with my final prediction of how the series will turn out.

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By Brent Pella

 

It’s been years since basketball was as exciting as it has been the past two months; Derrick Rose received a much-deserved MVP award and the Kings are staying in Sacramento.

 

Then the Lakers were swept, and the Bulls seemed to be charging toward an NBA championship appearance as if it were a red cape. All that stood in their way was a series against the Heat.

 

But then Miami remembered who was on its team.

 

The Heat have been hated, booed, criticized, and underrated all season. Yet as I write this article, just hours after the Eastern Conference Championship has been played, our perspective on the Heat is subject to dramatic change.

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By Brent MacDonald

I went to the All-Star game last weekend; it was a hell of a time.

 

David Stern really out-did himself on this one. Cheerleaders from every team switching off during breaks? I thought my grandpa was about to have a heart attack in the seat next to me.

 

Usually the gramps refrains from attending NBA All-Star weekend with me, as his doctor has deemed them a ‘sleeping aid’. Luckily I’m not 70 years old yet, and have been able to stay awake through the sometimes-painful experience of all-star weekend.

 

But this year was different.

This year, LeBron James actually wanted to participate in the slam-dunk contest. Shannon Brown and Blake Griffin were the two other NBA players to join LeBron on a collaborative “Team NBA.”

The opposition? “Team Flight Brothers,” a group of dudes that get up higher than Snoop on a G6, and made their name by displaying acrobatic athleticism on courts around the world, gaining worldwide fame at the same time through millions of views on YouTube.

 

After a series of jaw-dropping jams, the two teams were tied going into the final round. Rather than each player’s individual dunk providing points to their team, the last completed dunk had to involve all three teammates. Team Flight Brothers went first.

 

A behind the backboard alley-oop led to a thunderous jam by the second teammate, which was followed by the third teammate jumping up and grabbing the ball out of the net in midair, only to windmill it back through the rim a split second later.

 

The crowd went wild. No one in the audience had seen something like it before, but the chatter soon settled as Team NBA took the court. Griffin lined up on the baseline at the other end of the court, LeBron stood at half-court, and Shannon Brown poised himself outside of the key at the other end. With Tom Brady-like form, Blake Griffin threw the ball from one hoop to the other and into the hands of a soaring Shannon Brown. Brown caught the ball well above the rim, and with his back to the basket slammed it off the backboard. We all watched as King James ran from the half-court circle, took off from the free throw line, and caught the ball halfway between the hoop and the charity stripe. As he caught the ball, he looked down at Shannon Brown in mid-air, said ‘Thanks B,’ and jammed it home.

 

It felt like a volcano erupting inside the stadium. I was showered with beer and popcorn. Needless to say, it was a great pick-up line for later that night. “Did you see the dunk contest this afternoon? Well let me tell you…”

 

The next day was the big event. The All-Star game. Just another meaningless assortment of the world’s best players playing the world’s worst basketball. No defense, no hustle, and embarrassing offense.

 

But this year was different.

 

The first half was played similarly to previous NBA All-Star games. Shaq played point, Kobe hit a few jumpers, and Dwight Howard pulled off a self-alley-oop over an emotion-less Tim Duncan.

 

But the second half, that’s when the TNT drama began.

 

The scoreboard was wiped clean. The coaches finally began to yell. Doc Rivers actually took off his suit coat for this one. Because this second half was a game in itself; NBA Finals home court advantage was on the line.

tnt-logo

It was as vicious a battle as the all-star game has ever had. Pick & rolls with Kobe and Duncan…alley-oops from Derrick Rose to D-Wade…I thought I was watching a 3D game of NBA 2K11.

 

 

With less than 30 seconds remaining in the 24-minute second half, the West was down 64-62. Greg Popovich called a timeout, and the crowd rose to its feet. The energy in the arena made the air ten times hotter, and my heart was racing about 100 times faster. The facial expressions of LeBron, Dwight, Carmelo and Manu Ginobli made it obvious that this was to be no ordinary all-star game finish. This game actually had a meaningful outcome, and they were motivated to win.

 

The West inbounded and took possession with 22 seconds remaining. Chris Paul dribbled up the court, defended by Derrick Rose

 

LeBron knew what was coming next, that’s why he chose to guard Kobe.

 

Carmelo set the pick for KB on the low baseline. As Kobe stunted right and cut left, LeBron stayed right behind him. All of the sudden Kobe spinned around and ran the other way, LeBron tried to chase him down but was halted by a double screen set by Carmelo and Kevin Durant. Kobe got picked up by Dwyane Wade, but it was too late. He caught the pass from CP3 deep in the corner, rose up and released with just 4 seconds left.

 

Swish.

 

Doc Rivers didn’t blink an eye. With no timeouts left, he yelled at LeBron to take the ball out of bounds. The clock read 2.9 seconds remaining. D-Wade caught the pass at the free throw line and dribbled straight at an awaiting Carmelo Anthony.

 

One spin move was all it took to get free and as he jumped into the air, his momentum carried him forward…it was as graceful a move as I have ever seen. Almost reminded me of Black Swan, without being freaked out for two hours.

 

Wade released his shot just in front of the half-court line, in a similar form to his game-winner against Chicago in 2009. The ball fell easily through the net as the horn sounded.

 

LeBron James rushed him. Derrick Rose looked like he’d seen a ghost. And Doc Rivers put his jacket back on, casually smiling as he shook Pop’s hand.

 

Yes, All-Star weekend was a great experience. Usually I’d rather sit through “It’s a Wonderful Life” with the gramps.

 

But this year was different.

 

This year, the old-timer wanted to see NBA All-Star weekend, “Where excitement [finally] happens.”

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By Brent MacDonald
Carmelo to be Traded?
This would probably be one of the worst things Carmelo could do this season, besides holding an hour-long TV special to spotlight his decision to go to New Jersey. The trade is supposedly going down sometime next week, and would involve transactions from Denver, New Jersey and Detroit. 
           
Off the court, ‘Melo isn’t a Jersey Shore type of guy; he just wouldn’t like it there. Besides the money, I don’t see the other benefits he would be getting from signing with the Nets. $65 million over three years is a hell of a figure, and with pockets like Mikhail Prokhrov, it’s just another drop of a dime. But is that dime even worth being dropped?
           
Carmelo has always been just another high-scoring star with no real pieces around him to help the nuggets journey past the first round of the playoffs. Plus, at the rate New Jersey is going, they’ll be getting another high first round draft pick come this summer. There’s really no point in starting to win now, they’ll only end up with a worse draft pick and zero chance at playoffs.
           
Denver needs to keep Carmelo for the remainder of the season and try to ride him a little further into playoffs, then allow other teams to begin bidding in the summer. If not, it looks like Pauly D might have a new GTL pahtna.

College Basketball
           
College basketball is the most unpredictable sport in America. Florida State proved this fact by knocking off top-ranked Duke this past week in a battle that must have left Dick Vitale’s windpipe in more pain than usual.
  
Just days earlier, FSU had lost to Auburn, arguably one of the worst major-conference teams in the nation. But the Seminoles put together a gameplan that involved highlighting the weaknesses of the Blue Devils…yes, even coach K has weaknesses.
           
‘To live and die by the 3’ is a term often heard in college basketball. For Duke, the past few years have garnered success off of ‘living’ by the 3, and rarely (if at all) ‘dying.’ They shot 11-35 from beyond the arc. Singler missed key shots down the stretch and was well beyond his range for many of them. You could credit that to poor shot selection or great defense, but from my perspective I’ll have to go with the latter.
           
This season of college basketball is proving to be a good one, Ohio State is 17-0 for the first time in 20 years, and currently ranked number one overall. But don’t expect that ranking to last long. In this sport, it often doesn’t. 
Lebron assumes role of villain:
            LeBron James recently made public announcements that he has embraced and assumed the role of ‘hated villain.’
            I don’t really give a shit, and you shouldn’t either.
Allen Iverson back in America:
           
But apparently not for long. The Answer has been having trouble with his right leg, and has returned from his stint playing in Turkey to get treatment. It has been rumored that he may not return to play in Europe, however Iverson has repeatedly stated that he would like to play in Turkey again.
           
Playing in America would mean that a potential championship team would want to pick up a veteran point guard for a reasonable amount of money. I don’t see the Celtics, Heat, Lakers or Spurs offering A.I. a deal anytime soon, and I don’t see Iverson wanting to go anywhere without hopes for a championship.
           
He’s loved in Turkey, and playing out his years with a fan base overseas would be the best option for him at this point.
NBA Awards: Pre-All star break:
MVP: Derrick Rose
           
Rose has led the Bulls to a 25-12 record as of Friday, good enough for third place in the newly-competitive Eastern Conference. 24 points and better than eight assists per game are phenomenal numbers for a point guard, and Chicago’s playoff hopes continue to look brighter with D-Rose bringing the ball up the court.
Rookie of the Year:
           
John Wall: Wall has proven himself to be a huge playmaker and distributor for the Wizards so far, he’s averaging more than ten assists in four of his past seven games, and fifth overall with 8.8 dimes per game.
           
DeMarcus Cousins: Cousins had been called a ‘bust’ by many earlier this year, but has been playing like an all-star the past few games. His ppg average has increased to 21.2 over the past six games and he’s getting 9.2 boards for Sactown. Sacramento might be the first team to have two ROY’s in a row, and still not improve a single bit.
           
Blake Griffin: Griffin has been part of the league for two years now, and in my eyes, does not deserve to be discussed in Rookie of the Year voting.

>By Brent MacDonald

The smell of burning jerseys was still lingering in the air.
The ‘Boos’ drowned out the announcers.
A fan’s sign read: “What should you do? Beg for mercy.”
Serial killers have seemed nicer than the Cleveland fans in attendance.
 
What else could you hope for from an NBA game?
image
 

Clearly, there was only one major story of the evening: the return of a Heat player who left his Cavaliers team this past offseason to take his talents to South Beach.
 
Yes, Zydrunas Ilgauskas was poised to make his first return trip of the season to play against the team he abandoned in the summer.
 
I made a checklist of things to look for during this game, including the following:
-Would Quicken Loans Arena incorporate the TSA’s full-body scanners for riot prevention?
-Would Dana White be in the audience, mic-in-hand, just in case a ‘Witness’ fan and a ‘Quitness’ fan got into it?
-Would “Maddog,” the Cavs mascot, live up to his name by viciously attacking players from Miami?
-Would Cavs owner Dan Gilbert look for inspiration for his new book series entitled: “F*ck You: How I Took My Talents To Talking Trash”?
-Would the Heat employ Dr. Phil to keep emotions under control during timeouts?
-How plausible is it for vendors in the arena to sell concealed weapons within foam fingers?
-How will the announcer go about introducing Miami’s newest superstar Zydrunas, and his sidekick, LeBron James?
 
This last question brings us to a somewhat important side note, the return of LeBron James to his homeland.
 
Going into the game, there were only two ways for LeBron to act: Either with his head held high, as a professional should do on their way to work, or in resemblance to the way a dog would walk towards its master after sh*tting on their bed: head down, without making eye contact and tail between legs.
 
Thankfully, LBJ decided to act professional. No trash talk, no call-outs. Mo Williams went so far as to compare LeBron’s return to a “bitter ex-girlfriend showing up for a man’s wedding,” yet James went about his business the way he should have, beginning with the signature pre-game chalk toss.
 
imageCavs fans actually acted pretty civilized compared to the monumental amount of trash-talking and hatred they have expressed over the past few months. Nothing was thrown onto the court (while I was watching), no fights broke out (on camera), and there were no attempts at taking LeBron’s life (during the game). They hassled and heckled louder than ever, but that was to be expected. Each time LeBron touched the ball he was hounded with boos, which transformed into raucous applause after a missed shot attempt.
 
The ‘boo’s and banter stopped coming when the Heat pushed the lead to 80-50 halfway through the third quarter.
 
LeBron seemed to be at home, which technically he was, and played exceptionally well given the circumstances. If you had turned on the game without sound, you would have seen a great player playing a great game. Never did he respond to the screaming audience or mock the crowd. Instead, he finished strong at the rim and drained step-back shots in classic ‘Bron style, dropping a season-high 38 points, 24 in the third quarter alone (and sat out the entire fourth).
 
A quick postgame interview with the ever suit-savvy Craig Sager exposed LeBron’s newfound professionalism. Responding to questions about the negativity being expressed in what was once his home arena, LeBron said that he was in Cleveland not to fuel a fire or create problems, but to “win a road game.” Hopefully the professionalism he showed in will continue to be exhibited, as he can use all the help he can get in rebuilding a positive relationship with NBA fans.
 
imageIt was obvious even back during ESPN’s Soap Opera series entitled “The Decision” that LeBron’s image was undergoing a change. The fact that he needed a full hour-long special to drop a bomb on millions of people automatically separated his stardom from those who he had been compared to his entire career. No longer was he to be regarded as a player climbing up to the same level as legends such as Oscar Robertson or Michael Jordan, the latter of which would never have gone to a team with two (TWO!) superstars, but would rather work his ass off in order to beat them during the season.
 
In case you don’t remember, here’s a quick history lesson. When MJ made his first return to the league in the early 1990’s, there was no melodramatic, made-for-TV announcement. There was simply a fax, sent to every team in the league that included two words: “I’M BACK.”
 
Boom.
 
The only two words LeBron has brought meaning to are “CHOSEN ONE,” the self-given nickname tattooed across his shoulder blades.
 
When it comes down to it, LeBron James may be the most hated name in sports. He may have overtaken Tiger as the most disrespectful athlete in the world. He may have ruined his legacy, lost his most die-hard fans, moved to the wrong city, never become a legend and fail in the eyes of all those who watch him. But on Thursday, he took a step in the right direction by playing, speaking and acting like a professional.        
 
So…What else should he do? For god’s sake, this is basketball. Drop the drama.
 
Play the damn game.

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By Nick Gallaudet

 

Everyone has an opinion about LeBron James, and if you’re like me, you’re probably tired of them and just want to see what the guy can do on the court; but regardless of what you think of “The Decision” and the way he treated Cleveland fans, there is something that deserves discussion. If you haven’t seen it yet, here is LeBron’s new Nike commercial (below), and I have to be honest, I love it.

This commercial seems like a 90-second long apology to basketball fans. He asks, “what should I do?” repeatedly and I think he really wants to know. LeBron was cast as a villain the second he made the infamous statement that he was going to “take his talents to South Beach,” and I think he genuinely wants to rectify that. LeBron undoubtedly recognizes that the way things unfolded did not go according to plan, and he’s asking for a second chance…does he deserve one?

 

LeBron’s journey is completely different from any other basketball player ever. The hype he garnered in high school was like nothing the sports world had ever seen before, and up to this point, he has exceeded everyone’s expectations. No one gets the hype he got and delivers, and as a result, he’s held to a higher standard. The not-so-subtle jab he takes at Charles Barkley is warranted. Barkley may have chosen not to be a role model (if one can even make that choice), but LeBron wasn’t afforded that luxury. From the day he entered the NBA, he’s been sold as the Golden Boy, and was really never given a chance to fail. His success was so quick and large, he was the face of the NBA before anybody knew what happened, and as a result, when he hit his first speed bump, he was already the most famous player in the league.

 

More was expected of LeBron than just playing basketball. He wasn’t a cold blooded assassin like Kobe Bryant. He was a fun-loving superstar who played the game with a child-like enthusiasm. In the commercial, he asks, “should I just sell shoes?,” and I couldn’t help but think about Michael Jordan. Jordan pioneered the branded basketball star, but he did it with an edge. Jordan definitely made an effort to bring in some humor to his identity (Space Jam, anyone?), but he wasn’t accessible the way LeBron was. I don’t remember Jordan dressing up as multiple personas for Sprite commercials or acting out silly pregame rituals like LeBron. Jordan was all business, and for MJ, the business was rings and shoes.

 

The commercial plays as a montage of what people are telling him to do and what he wants to do, and with each one, you see how hard the situation has been for him. As strange as this sounds, LeBron was not given the opportunities legends before him were. LeBron never had an elite teammate the way Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Kobe Bryant had: He was on an island by himself in Cleveland. Every basketball player in the conversation for the best of all time have similar situations: elite teammates, hall of fame coaches, and rings, and up until this point, LeBron hasn’t had any. LeBron was a victim of circumstance: Everyone expected the world of him, but he couldn’t do it alone, and instead of having a team that could provide him with what he needed like Jordan and Johnson had, he had to go elsewhere to get it. In that journey to Miami, he hurt some feelings, made some unpopular decisions, but he also did what most people would do. He had the opportunity to play on a team that had the potential to be the greatest of all time, and those teammates happened to also be his friends.

 

This commercial addresses all the criticisms levied against LeBron and it also makes the viewer question how they would have handled the situation. There is no denying that “The Decision” was a little shady and a slap in the face to Cleveland fans, but I’ve always defended his motives. I don’t think you can blame a guy for trying to put himself in the best position to win championships in a sport where rings define a player more than any other major sport. I also think it’s unfair that LeBron is getting labeled a title-chaser while Dwyane Wade seems to attract little derision. Wade and Chris Bosh are afterthoughts in this discussion, and it’s unfair. Wade was also a free agent, and I genuinely feel that if the Cavaliers played in Miami, and Heat played in Cleveland, all three would be Cavaliers right now. The major difference between the three of them is the fact that LeBron made the mistake of ripping the hearts out of Cleveland fans on an hour long special.

 

LeBron deserves a second chance, although I understand how hard it will be to give him one. I don’t think his legacy is tarnished, but he can no longer be portrayed as the hometown hero leading his team to glory. He’s now a third of a formidable triumvirate and will be loved or hated, as most great teams are. I guess what I’m saying is this: don’t hate the guy for his actions off the court, hate him because he just wiped the floor with your team. I think a lot of this animosity is fueled by the media who completely blew this story out of proportion. LeBron should not be penalized for trying to win a championship, because in all honesty, if he had stayed in Cleveland and gone his entire career without winning a title, he would have been criticized for it and his legacy truly would have been tarnished. The bottom line is that LeBron had a tough choice to make, and the decision he made was a little selfish, but understandably so. He chose to play for a team that would give him the best chance at a title, in a great city, with his friends, and I think the commercial is LeBron’s way of showing that he hears everyone’s opinion, but he can’t please them all.

 

In the grand scheme of things, what LeBron did is nothing compared to cheating on your wife or gambling away millions of dollars, so I think the basketball world needs a little perspective. LeBron just needs to listen to Don Johnson, and “be patient. After a while the temperature drops and everything is free and easy.”