Monday, July 19, 2010

Jordan and LeBron

This is a tiny side-light of a story, the way I see it, in light of training camps opening, midseason in baseball, and the British Open. Honestly, I'd love to be writing about one of those things instead of this, but here I am. Why? Partly, I can't help it. Partly, because I know I'm right about this. Mostly, because I listened to ESPN radio and Eric Kusilias talked like an idiot about Michael Jordan's comments regarding LeBron James's recent move.

MJ's comments basically went along these lines (and I'll use quotation marks, even though this isn't a direct quote):
"In hindsight, I wouldn't have done anything like that. I wouldn't have called up Magic and Bird and try to join a team together... We were on the Olympic team together, and there was no animosity... I wanted to beat those guys."

I remember a few key phrases (perhaps not verbatim), so that's what I'll comment on. On the radio, Kusilias was making the argument that this makes it sound like MJ won his titles all on his own, when, in reality, he had great players around him. True. However, THAT'S NOT EVEN RELEVANT!! He says it's a small difference for him to join Wade rather than the other way around-- I see that as the WHOLE difference. Basically, I think that Jordan is right. Would he have wanted Bird or Magic on his team? Of course. But would he have stooped to the level of colluding with those players to join him so that he could get their help? No. Here's the reason:

James doesn't have the killer instinct of MJ. That's the thing. Jordan thought (read: KNEW) that he could win a title, even without the help of those guys. Did he need SOME help? Of course. But not the best players in the game. Look at Kobe. Call it arrogance, but he said he didn't need Shaq. When he had the chance to bolt to Chicago, he didn't. You absolutely have to give Kobe Bryant credit for one thing, if nothing else: he knows that every move he makes will be scrutinized, and that the tiniest little thing could impact his legacy forever. James is clearly not as image-conscious as Kobe, or Mike. We all thought he was. We were wrong.

Second, everyone is analyzing this Jordan statement from the perspective of MJ vs. James: who's better? What about the real way Jordan was probably thinking-- as person with a management perspective on the game of basketball. Here's what I mean: If players start colluding, and that becomes a big thing for free agents to do, it's bad for the other management in the NBA. However, if the greatest of all time comes out and calls you out for that, guess what? All of a sudden, image-conscious players may not be so willing to do that. So let's talk about this honestly. Yes, Jordan was knocking James as a player. That's clear. But let's not forget that there's more to MJ than just the player these days, and this may just be a sighting of MJ The Executive.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Early Prediction

I talked to David about this and we agreed it was too soon. However, I can't help but make early predictions about the upcoming NBA season...well at least for the East. I know, I know there is a lot that still needs to unfold, but with the majority of big named players signed I think I have just enough information to foresee how things shall unfold.

15) Toronto Raptors: They sucked with Bosh so I shouldn't be surprised to see them suck even more without him. They've already lost Hedo, but they did get Leandro Barbosa which is a good addition to the team. Ed Davis has played well in the Summer League games and Demar Derozen should have a bigger impact on the team than last year. But you know a team is in trouble when they say their new leader is Jarret Jack.

14) Detroit Pistons: This team could be a playoff team, but I just don't like this teams makeup. Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva are extra players. What I mean is these guys should be features and not star players. Unfortunately Detroit has them as stars. I see them clearing themselves of that 04 Pistons team completely by trading Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince either before the season starts or at the trade deadline. I think this is a definite lottery team and I think once they realize that the tanking will begin.

13) Washington Wizards: John Wall will do wonders for the Wizards, but this team is still a year away. I like getting Kirk Hinrich to teach Wall, but the backcourt of Gilbert and Wall just does not do it for me. JaVale McGee is looking like a real good player for the Wizards and the development of Andray Blatche should continue, but in the loaded east ( feels good to say that again) I don't think they will be able to compete this year.

12) New Jersey Nets: Well their is only one way to go for New Jersey. They have good young players like Devin Harris and Brook Lopez. Courtney Lee is a solid two guard who is in the mold of Kerry Kittles. I like Derrick Favors even though he hasn't looked all that great in the Summer League games so far. I love the hiring of Avery Johnson and that alone is worth 5-10 more wins. This team could compete for a playoff spot especially if they continue to make moves (They just signed Anthony Morrow) that fits their team's scheme.

11) Indiana Pacers: First off I think this is a really solid team. Paul George and Magnum Rolle look like the real deal and "Born Ready" Lance Stephenson might be the point guard that they need. However, I still think this team is not deep enough to make it in to the playoffs. They have a lack of depth at every position, but especially at the point guard spot. I think with next year's draft being so point guard heavy, being in the lottery is exactly what they need to get back to the Miller time days.

10) Cleveland Cavaliers: It hurts to put them here and I hope I am wrong, but an Antwan Jamison lead team has never been very good. I think more than anything Byron Scott needs for this team to be in the lottery. If Byron does get this team to the playoffs it only going to stunt his growth. He needs superstars to get him back to the top and this team has great roll players, but that superstar hole is extremely large. They have athleticism with JJ Hickson, Anderson, Moon, and Parker and that might be enough to squeak them into the 8th or 7th seed. However, I just don't see it. Good luck Cleveland!

9) Charlotte Bobcats: This is probably wrong, but it might be right. I know Larry Brown coached teams don't usually take a step back after just making the playoffs, but this team hasn't gotten better, but everyone else has. I hope for MJ's sanity that they do make the playoffs, but I don't see it.

8) New York Knicks: Before the David Lee trade I didn't think much of this team, but after the trade I started to see the sunny side of the Knicks. I like where they are going. If Amare stays healthy along with Anthony Randolph, this team becomes very scary. They could be the old Phoenix Suns, but in New York. Danilo will continue to grow as a NBA player, and the addition of Raymond Felton should sure up that hole at PG. New York will be motivated to make the playoffs and that should be enough to put them in a first round playoff matchup.

7) Philadelphia Sixers: Call me a homer, but I believe this was a playoff team last year, but they just had a crappy system. I know they can't shoot, but they can play D and run the floor and that's what Doug Collins likes to do. Eddie Jordan didn't believe in defense and that's what cost the Sixers last year. Their offense depends on their defense and no fast breaks basically means no points for the Sixers. Jrue Holiday is the real deal and Evan Turner will catch on as the season progresses. The addition of Hawes and Nocioni will be huge for this team and will propel them back into the playoffs.

6) Atlanta Hawks: Basically the same team with a new and unproven coach. I like Mike Woodson and I think losing him will cost ATL in the seeding. Having Joe Johnson is huge for their development, but in order for them to make it over the top they need more shooters and an offensive presence at the 5 spot.

5) Milwaukee Bucks: David likes them way more than me and he might be right. Same coach and much more improved roster. I absolutely love the addition of CDR and Corey. Redd won't be back until February, but what else is new? If they can pull off a McGrady type deal with Redd my expectations for this team change dramatically. A healthy Bogut is key, but not as much as last year. The staple of bigs they got in the draft was awesome. All of them should contribute this season and more people will fear the deer.

4) Chicago Bulls: Love getting Boozer and Korver. This team is looking legit. Rose and Boozer can be just like Williams and Boozer but better. Having Korver come off the bench as their sniper is just like having Steve Kerr back in those championship days. I like coach Thibodeau a lot. I wanted the Sixers to hire him two seasons ago and I think he's a chip off the old Celtics block. He preaches defense and efficient offense 24/7. They still need to fill out their roster, but right now I believe their core is as good as anyone in the league.

3) Boston Celtics: The Boston Three-Party is back. And Doc is back too! I like the Jermaine O'Neal signing, but losing Tony Allen is a tough blow. I like having Luke Harangody coming off the bench and if Avery Bradley can step it up than maybe losing Tony Allen won't be as bad. The bench is deteriorating and so is the big three, which means maybe Boston has ran out of luck.

2) Miami Heat: I question this very much but, how could you not put them in the top two. They have two great players and a very good low post player, but that's it. Mike Miller is okay, but getting Udonis Haslem back is what put them in the two spot for me. Without Udonis they would fall to the three seed. Dexter Pittman is a big body that should do wonders for them, but who else is on that team? I mean Jerry Stackhouse announced publicly that he'd play for the minimum for the Heat, but I mean will they have to ransack the 2000 All-Star team to come up with a bench? They've reportedly talked to Juwan Howard and Shaq and they might as well throw in Stephon Mabury, Allen Iverson, and Tracy McGrady. It takes a complete team to win a title and I don't think they have it. Also I don't trust Erik Spolestra to be that championship coach that they need.

1) Orlando Magic: Great roster, and coach. Howard should continue to improve his offensive game and Nelson is very good point guard and Rashard Lewis is the perfect inside/outside player that they need. They also have a deep bench that got much deeper with the addition of Chris Duhon. If they can sign Matt Barnes and JJ Redick back that will go a long way in Orlando's run to the title. I think Orlando so far has the best combination of change and stability in the East.

Yes this is early and it is a very fluid subject, but I had to get this off my chest. Now I can sleep well...for now.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


This is more so in a response to what my esteemed colleague and newly married friend already stated. This move smells more like the 04 Lakers than the 08 Celtics. It's a move of desperation at such a young age. To me this move hurts on so many fronts, but on two particular fronts.

1: What happened to competition?

When I buy a new sports game I always pick the highest rated team versus the worst rated team and play that game, but as the lower rated team. I like to test myself and see if I am good enough to beat the best team possible. I think LeBron would pick the higher rated team, just to guarantee himself a win. David is right, we care about earning titles not just winning them. I mean what happen to wanting to beat the best to be the best. I understand when guys like Karl Malone, Gary Payton, and Charles Barkley started hoping teams just to win a title because they were in the Twilight of their careers and had nothing missing from their hall of fame resume's but a title. LBJ, Bosh, and Wade have many years to become great players and anchor their own title. For pete sake's Wade already did it! I also understand wanting to play with your friends, but this isn't high school basketball people! I mean Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were friends when they played, but I bet you Larry would never go play for the Lakers and Magic wouldn't play for the Celtics. By LeBron going to play with Wade and Bosh in Miami he proved to me that he doesn't care about his basketball legacy which leads to my next point.

2: RIP to Wade county and King James.

When Wade, Bosh, and LBJ played on team USA in 2008 Wade's numbers were 16pts, roughly 2asts, and 4rbs. LBJ had roughly 16pts, 4asts, and 5rbs. Do those numbers look like MVP numbers? No, they look like Andre Igoudala numbers. John Barry actually made a very good point in a discussion with Michael Wilbon. He said, "Wade and LeBron can no longer play basketball the way that they have been playing and for that I am sad as a basketball fan." I completely agree. Remember when Wade completely took over the 2006 NBA Finals and was the clear cut best player on the court. Or how about when LBJ scored 25 straight points against the Pistons and winning a pivotal game 5 on the road? These are moments of greatness built by great players in great moments. Can anyone tell me the greatest individual Team USA moment? I didn't think so. Wade and LeBron are going to have to be watered down versions of their superselves in order to win a title. And who suffers? Me and the entire world. LBJ and Wade have decided that being considered one of the greatest isn't that important to them and that's fine...if you're Robert Horry or Steve Kerr. These guys are suppose to be future hall of famers. They are suppose to want to put their own stamp on the league's history. I know people criticized Kobe for driving away Shaq, but I do respect his desire to be considered one of the greatest. LBJ just want's to be one of the guys and that's sad. Wade can technically still be the same Wade since this is his team (Yes, it's Wade's team. He built the Heat so LBJ is coming to be second fiddle to Wade), but if he wants to win Wade can no longer be Wade.

Sidenote: Who the fudge is Chris Bosh? He's a great player? He's alright? I mean he's played in some All-Star games and made the 08 USA team, but so did Michael Redd and no one is calling Redd great. I use to like Bosh, because he was an under appreciated player trying to win in Toronto. Somehow we went from one extreme to the next. Look Bosh is just about as good as Pau, which isn't saying much. Pau's a good player but I hold off the word great when I think about Pau. Honestly I think Miami would be better off with a guy like Boozer or a 100% guaranteed to be healthy Amare. If you think Pau is soft than Bosh must be air. Bosh is to tall to not want to bang, and in the East where guys like Perkins, Howard, Bogut, Horford, and the whole Bulls front line like to hit people in the mouth, Bosh is going to have to firm up if he want's a title. It took Pau some time and for Kobe to basically ride him before he could be tough enough to win. I don't know if Bosh can do that, which is why I don't think this team is built to win and all of this sacrifice of talent will be for nothing.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Long Time, No See

Okay, so first, I apologize for the long layoff. I've gotten married and moved in the last month, plus I'm working two jobs right now, not to mention being a newlywed. But here it is: the story big enough to get me out of my hiatus: LBJ. The Heat. However you want to call it. Here's what I think:

1. Money.
Here's what LeBron's thinking. He thinks he needs to win a title. This is true. He thinks that that's his best chance to become the billionaire he so wants to be. But here's the truth. He has no greater earning potential there than in Cleveland. That's the truth. He has no earning potential greater ANYWHERE than in Cleveland. But he doesn't see that. He sees an opportunity to win the championship. Unfortunately, what he doesn't realize is that NONE OF US will count this title. People will think about this as the time that three players colluded to win the championship without giving each team a fair shake. Dumb.

2. Expectations.
Unless the Heat win 70+ games and the title, they've underachieved. First of all, people are going to make the point that the bench will be weak. That actually doesn't matter. Many of the "great" teams in NBA history had bad benches. The 72 win Bulls had an AWFUL bench, and they were the best that ever played. So that doesn't matter. What does matter is that the Heat have made unreasonable expectations for themselves. Chris Broussard made the point tonight that we should respect these athletes for valuing winning over money. Wrong. You know what people value? EARNING a championship. That's the thing. Bringing three players in like this is unprecedented. And don't compare it to the Celtics three years ago-- that was done by a GM making smooth moves, not players getting together and deciding for themselves, so it's way, way different. I don't like how this smells-- not one bit.

3. Dwight Howard.
He tweeted (according to Sportscenter) that it was "messed up" that Cleveland fans were burning LeBron's jersey. He was just doing "what's best for him" and that he gave them "7 good years." Well you know what? They gave HIM 7 good years. And they were doing what was best for THEM, which was purging their bedroom of their girlfriend's picture after they found out she was sleeping with someone else. But no. The FANS don't have feelings, do they, Dwight? I don't have a problem with athletes playing where they want to play-- and this is as a Packer fan who thought that Favre and the Packers were inseparable. But here's the thing: if the players are free to do whatever they want, so are the fans. If LeBron gets booed in Cleveland for the rest of his career, and the people of Cleveland hate him, and he can't walk downtown in his own hometown-- well, that comes with the territory. Now, if people commit acts of vandalism against him or people stalk him or harass him, that's too much. But barring those CRIMINAL things, the people of Cleveland owe LeBron NOTHING right now. He had the chance to stay there, and he decided it wasn't good enough for him. That he couldn't win there, and that he didn't want to work as hard as he would have had to to build a winner there. That's fine. That's his prerogative. But don't feed me that garbage that suddenly everybody owes somebody something. No no no. This was a clean break, and it's over. LeBron made his decision, and, inevitably, there are consequences. Now it's time for him to deal.

4. The NBA.
Well, I guess it's prediction time. You have to make the Heat the team to beat in the East, but I bet they won't win it all. They'll start off hot (because every team starts the season without chemistry, and the most talented teams always start well), but then they'll struggle. They'll come in to the playoffs with a big, fat target on their backs, and they'll lose in the Eastern Conference Finals, or maybe the Finals (if they're lucky). Orlando, Boston, and Milwaukee will be incredibly tough, and whoever comes out of the West will be good. Jordan can attest to the fact that, the night Boston got KG and Ray, I said they would win the Finals, and have a three-year run. I know he can attest to it, because he agreed with me. Well, I was right (although their run may actually last longer than I initially stated). Let's see if my gut is right again.

5. The Letter.
Loved it. I hope the Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert is right. I also heard a Clevelander say that LeBron would never be Jordan, Bird, or Magic. Frankly, at this point, it's hard to see him being as good as Kobe, or maybe even Wade, depending on how things work in these upcoming years. Now, right now, I would say that LeBron is no-doubt better than Kobe RIGHT NOW. But in terms of legacy? I have a hard time believing that LeBron will EVER eclipse him-- and I remind you, I'm a Kobe-hater. Maybe this is just emotions talking, but I think LeBron will have a hard time overcoming the fact that it appears that he "cheated" to get it. That's pretty much how it works.

6. Cliff Lee.
If the trade of Pennant-Ace-for-Hire Cliff Lee gets completely forgotten because of LeBron, I'm gonna be mad.