Catch that opening game Miami Heat loss? Of course you did. Rooting against LeBron James is the most American thing to do now that the New York Yankees lost the American League Championship Series and the Dallas Cowboys suck.
Since the NBA’s new Big Three united in July, the Heat have dominated all of the off-season talk. All because of these words: “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.”
Former Knicks and Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy predicted Miami would eclipse the Chicago Bulls’ 72-win season. I bet some thought the Heat were bound for an 82-0 season.
Either way, people seem to hate the Miami Heat and comparisons have been made to the creation of the New World Order back in the good, old days of World Championship Wrestling. Good guy Hulk Hogan turned his back on WCW and joined up with cutthroat heels Scott Hall and Kevin Nash (most remember them as Razor Ramon and Diesel of World Wrestling Federation fame).
These three were legitimate superstars who beat up other wrestlers mercilessly, gained popularity, got other wrestlers in WCW to join the nWo cause and beat up whoever didn’t rock the faction’s black and white colors.
LeBron and Dwyane Wade, I could see as superstars. But Chris Bosh, who the hell is this guy? This guy isn’t a superstar. He was the leading scorer on the Raptors, but remember, every team has to have a leading scorer. Bosh is no Hulk Hogan and hasn’t even paid his dues to be on Hall or Nash level.
Nash won the world title and went up against the likes of Hogan, Undertaker, Bret “the Hitman” Hart and Shawn Michaels. Hall never won an individual world title, but he was the winner of one of the greatest Wrestlemania matches of all time: the first ladder match in history against Michaels.
What has Bosh done? He was part of the 2008 Olympic “Redeem Team” that won the gold medal. Then again, so was Michael Redd and Tayshaun Prince, would you call those guys superstars? Bosh led the Toronto Raptors, whose greatest claim to fame was losing to the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round of the playoffs in 2001, in scoring and rebounding (24 points and almost 11 rebounds per game).
I guess Bosh gets the Hall role.
That leaves Wade in the Nash role, which is unusual since D-Wade is the only player in the Big Three with a championship ring.
James is the Hogan role, cause let’s be honest, he’s the baddest dude to put on a jersey in the league. Kobe Bryant is the most clutch in playoff time and Kevin Durant’s youth and potential may one day dethrone the King, but LeBron is too nice.
He’s one of the faces of the league. Love him or hate him, he can ball. Despite the nWo’s dominance, they lost every now and then.
Even Hogan, whose most famous defeat as a member of the nWo was against Sting, who no longer looked like the Ultimate Warrior, but an exact replica of the Crow. If he carried a baseball bat around.
This classic match took place at Starrcade 1997. It had tremendous pre-match hype and great intros.
Hogan lost and it was like, “damn, why didn’t the nWo just cheat to win?”
A lot of people think Miami cheated to get its players. The Heat did nothing wrong. In fact, the Big Two (plus Bosh) all took less money so they could play together.
So what if they lost the opener against Boston? If you haven’t noticed, the Celtics are a loaded team that came within a quarter of winning the championship.
Trust me, Miami will have games in which it wins handily. And one day, the Heat may win 72 games or more. It’s not that difficult. Two teams came within five games in the last decade without even trying (2000 Lakers and 2007 Mavericks, both with 67 wins).
A real conspiracy would be another legitimate superstar taking his talents to South Beach to play for the Miami Heat. Until then, I’ll just wait for a Miami Heat T-shirt to come out in the likeness of those old nWo T-shirts everyone had. Root against the Heat all you want, they’ll do just fine with or without your hate.
Ever since the Cavaliers were eliminated from the playoffs, ESPN and their talking heads have been chiming away non stop as to where they think King James will play ball next season. For several years the Knicks have been preparing for this opportunity, but a dark horse has emerged as the leading contender to win the Lebron Sweepstakes the Chicago Bulls. Will the Annointd One be able to live in the shadow of Michael Jordan? Or will he be the one to step out of that shadow and lead the Bulls back to the Promised Land?
Will he leave? Will they leave? Those are the questions NBA teams are asking as the much-anticipated summer of 2010 draws near. A crop of mouth-watering free agents will be available to teams who want to spend big bucks.
Some of these players have an option to leave if they want. Others have an early termination clause in their contract. And the vast majority have no contract whatsoever and are looking to cash in this summer.
The impressive list looks to be the biggest change in the league since 1996 when a multitude of players switched jerseys with the biggest impact being the earth-shattering move of Shaquille O’Neal to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Lebron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Only King James can have as huge an impact as Shaq’s departure from Orlando. Make no mistake, if James leaves, the Cavaliers will never be the same again. The Orlando Magic, although an NBA powerhouse right now, have missed Shaq greatly.
He has won four championships with two different teams (Los Angeles and Miami). Could James do the same? Possibly. The New York Knicks have the money to spend and they have been eyeing James for years.
But would James leave the Cavaliers if they win a championship this year? The Knicks are an atrocious team. They have been an NBA joke for quite some time. However, their situation might change as they can also sign another huge free agent.
The Knicks could be championship contenders overnight with the addition of James and someone else. The Chicago Bulls and New Jersey Nets have enough cap space as well, but this will probably come down to Cleveland and New York.
Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
David Lee, New York Knicks
Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns
Chris Bosh, Toronto Raptors
These players can carry teams and all of them, with the exception of Nowitzki, will probably leave. Lee is the least high profile out of this bunch, but he’s got plenty of game.
The other players, however, if teamed with James will make their franchise an instant championship contender for years to come. Wade and Stoudemire are the most coveted on this list. Bosh is on a team going nowhere and Johnson has already left a solid situation before (Phoenix) for more cash.
You’re The Man … Kind Of
Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
Yao Ming, Houston Rockets
Tracy McGrady, New York Knicks
Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers
Carlos Boozer, Utah Jazz
This is an interesting group. These players are either older or are known to get injured frequently. McGrady has no shot of returning to the Knicks and he won’t come close to the fat contract he received from the Houston Rockets in 2004 (McGrady’s salary for this year is almost $23 million.
Pierce and Yao have options to leave. Boozer is a force in the paint averaging close to 20 points and more than 11 rebounds per game. Will Utah open up its pockets or will some other team nab Boozer?
Iverson is a huge unknown. He can score with ease and maybe help a contending team, but his off-court problems and questionable leadership will be a hard sell.
Championship Piece To The Puzzle
Ray Allen, Boston Celtics
Tyson Chandler, Charlotte Bobcats
Brad Miller, Chicago Bulls
Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cleveland Cavaliers
Shaquille O’Neal, Cleveland Cavaliers
Brendan Haywood, Dallas Mavericks
Udonis Haslem, Miami Heat
Jermaine O’Neal, Miami Heat
Michael Redd, Milwaukee Bucks
Peja Stojakovic, New Orleans Hornets
Al Harrington, New York Knicks
Channing Frye, Phoenix Suns
Grant Hill, Phoenix Suns
Marcus Camby, Portland Trailblazers
Richard Jefferson, San Antonio Spurs
Kyle Korver, Utah Jazz
Mike Miller, Washington Wizards
For a team on the cusp of a championship, these are the players that will get them over the top. There’s something for everyone: scorers, starting big men, veteran players with championships already, older big men who may be quality back-ups, spot-up shooters.
The Celtics’ Allen is the best player on this list (16 points a game, championship experience, deadly three-point accuracy). He can probably still score more than 20 points per game for a poor team, but on a contender, he could be the second or third scorer. Hill, Redd, Harrington, Miller and Jefferson fit that mold as well.
Shaq is the most decorated player on this list, but he has a ton of mileage. But he is a seven footer with championship experience, what team doesn’t want that? Camby is a great shot blocker and Haywood is the skilled center Dallas has been missing for years.
With all these big-name players available, the NBA will look dramatically different than it does right now. The regular season is over, get ready for a serious makeover with new elite teams, perhaps, in the works.
For the second year in a row King James will reign supreme. LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers has been the most dominant player in the NBA and the team will finish with the best record in the league.
Even though the most valuable player award won’t be announced for a few weeks, James has this locked up. The regular season ends this week and no one can catch the King. Every night James discourages opponents with his overall play, scoring whenever he pleases, distributing the ball to his teammates and harassing guys on defense.
Let’s not forget his frequent come-from-behind blocks, most of them in spectacular fashion as James swats the ball into the crowd leaving the offensive player wondering, “Where did he come from?”
Cleveland has won more than 60 games again, the first time a team has done that in consecutive seasons since the Chicago Bulls did from 1996 to 1998. James is the catalyst of this success, but Cleveland has also gotten better players the last two years, adding ballers such as Mo Williams last year and this season, Shaquille O’Neal and Antawn Jamison.
With these upgrades, James’ assist numbers have skyrocketed, averaging more than eight per game. If that average holds, James will have the NBA all-time record for a forward in a season, breaking Boston Celtic great Larry Bird’s mark of 7.6 in 1987.
James has said if he wanted to, he could lead the league in scoring, which few people would dispute. He still might as he averages 29.7 points per game. The closest competition is scoring dynamo Kevin Durant (30.1 per game), a second-year player on the youthful Oklahoma City Thunder.
Durant, although still a young buck in the NBA, is a legitimate MVP candidate as his team has improved tremendously, going from 23 wins last year to 49 with two games to go. But Durant’s overall play, while spectacular, doesn’t measure up to the consistency of James’.
Physically, no player is more imposing on his way to the basket. The Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard may be a beast in the paint, but he doesn’t possess the ball handling skills to create his own shot and drive to the hoop.
Every time James goes to the hoop it seems as if the end result is a layup, dunk or foul. No player in the league has the combination of sheer brawn and slashing to the basket. What brave player has the guts to take a charge from that freight train?
King James’ play is so dominating it demoralizes other teams the way Shaq did in his prime; the same way Wilt Chamberlain did in his. At 6’8” and a comic book character physique, defenders usually surrender the basket or foul to avoid being posterized.
His defensive presence is so great, players with wide-open lay-ups look over their shoulders in fear of being stuffed. Even then James sometimes makes a play that ends up on the nightly highlights.
Other than Durant, who else is there to challenge for the MVP race? Kobe Bryant, the last MVP other than James, has led the Los Angeles Lakers to the No. 1 seed in the Western conference. He has great numbers, but his team has underachieved, slumping at the end of the season.
For a while, Carmelo Anthony seemed like an MVP candidate. Although he is one of the top scorers in the league, his Denver Nuggets, once considered to be the No. 1 challenger to the Lakers in the West, have faltered down the stretch.
The Miami Heat’s Dwayne Wade? He has incredible numbers too (26.5 points per game, 4.90 rebounds, 6.6 assists). The team, however, is just average.
It seems as if the MVP award is James’ to lose. At 29.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 8.6 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1 block per game you can’t argue. Only all-time greats such as Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson put up those types of numbers. The only question is if James will be the NBA’s first unanimous MVP. James’ teammate, O’Neal, was the closest, missing out by one vote in 2000. Maybe the King will make it a clean sweep this year.
After putting on a show for the great one Thursday night in Miami, Lebron James made the surprise announcement that he, on a personal level, would be retiring his number 23 jersey next season. The change, James said, was purely to honor the memory of Michael Jordan… his favorite player growing up.
Not only did Lebron say he would be switching numbers (no matter where he plays next year) but that he would be starting a petition amongst all NBA players currently wearing jersey’s with the number 23 to do the same. After all, if the chosen one isn’t going to wear Jordan’s old number, then why should anyone else?
Ordinarily I would think this is a great idea… honoring the memory of our sports legends is important. But to be perfectly honest, I still have a bad taste in my mouth from Jordan’s Hall of Fame induction speech. That lack of humility makes me not really care about his legacy.
Frankly, I hope the NBA doesn’t retire the number 23… at least not until Jordan starts acting a little less like a douche bag!
Iverson is acting up, the Clippers and Knicks are horrible, and Stephen Jackson is pouting. Things are pretty normal in the NBA this week.
One thing we can count on this season is that pundits, commentators, announcers, and Craig Sager will all hit us over the head with the fact that the 2010 class of free agents is the greatest class of all freaking time. One free agent in particular will be under a microscope. LeBron James will be dissected for any hints of his intentions to flee Cleveland.
This past weekend, King James claimed that he will choose his next team based on their chance of winning. I would think this would preclude the Knicks from the discussion but you never know. Sure they will have the cap space for a generous offer but there are no guarantees that any supporting cast would like to join LeBron in one of the two worst teams in the NBA.
This brings me to the end all be all of horrible franchises. The Clippers started off the season with evidence that god does not like them. This came in the form of injury to their latest first round pick Blake Griffin. Things looked promising when they were able to cap off three consecutive wins. That all came to a halt on Monday night when they were pummeled, at home, to the Hornets, by 28 points. On paper the Clippers look like a seven or eight seed. But it’s hard to win when you are pre-ordained to be miserable by a higher power.
In his latest effort to get traded, Stephen Jackson’s agent Mark Stevens made public attacks on Warriors head coach Don Nelson and questioned his trustworthiness. It seems that Jackson has had about enough of the Warriors and really wants to leave. He probably could have helped himself out by not signing a three year $28 million contract. If things have gone south, the best way to get what you want is not to scream and shout like…wait, no that is precisely how you get what you want in the NBA. Look for Jackson to be traded shortly.
With a clap of his hands and a cloud of chalk exploding over his head, the King decreed “Thou shalt no dunk on me and have it viewed by millions on YouTube!”
By now we’ve all heard the story… Nike showcases one of their top pitchmen by putting on the Lebron James Skills Camp in his hometown of Akron, OH. It’s a camp that features some of the top basketball prospects from around the country… prospects that are supposed to learn from the great King James… not upstage him. But that’s exactly what happened in a pick up game when Xavier’s Jordan Crawford drove from the right wing and dunked over Lebron’s head. And, as you also know, the footage of that event will never see the light of day because Nike confiscated the only two tapes in existance… after conferring with Lebron, of course!
A spokesperson for the shoe company claims they have a long standing policy to never allow the pick up games from such camps to be taped. Why that’s the case, no one has made clear. But to anyone with a brain, the answer is simple… they’re protecting their investment. Nike doesn’t want their customers to see their hero made to look like a punk… especially when the one doing the punking is wearing (Gasp) Adidas!
Whether that part is true or not, we’ll never know. But Lebron would be well served to come out and meet this growing controversy head on. Because as it stands now, he looks like a petulant (sorry for the big word) child on the verge of throwing a tantrum… you know, like he did after losing the Eastern Conference Finals when he refused to address the media and left his teammates to handle all the dirty work.
Then again, maybe Nike is playing it smart. Maybe we’ll finally see the footage in one of those Lebron and Kobe Muppet commercials. I can see it now… muppet Kobe and the muppet kid from down the hall are laughing at the video of Lebron getting dunked on by Crawford. And then a muppet Shaq comes out to protect his new teammate from the mean bullies.
Oh Nike… if ever you would head your own advice, now is the time… Show the tape in a new muppet commercial!
JUST DO IT!