Category Archives: NBA

LeBron Is the Real Coach of the Cavs

cleveland_cavaliers_logo-1024x768To those people who are crowing over the Cleveland Cavaliers giving coach David Blatt the ax earlier today, I ask the following question: where the hell have you been?

Anyone who had been paying attention to the Cavs the last two seasons knew that Blatt’s firing was only a matter of when.

Blatt was new to the NBA, having coached overseas for several seasons.  He didn’t have the experience of game planning on the NBA level.  He was out-coached by the likes of Gregg Popovich, Rick Carlisle, Luke Walton, and Doc Rivers just to name a few.  And to make matters worse, Blatt never coached a superstar such as LeBron James.

Before I continue, let me extol Blatt’s accomplishments.  He had a winning record during his coaching tenure in the NBA (83-40 regular season record).  His Cavs won the Central Division and was two games (and perhaps two major injuries) away from winning the NBA Finals.  Oh yeah, Blatt led the Cavs to a 30-11 record THIS SEASON which was good enough to be the best in the Eastern Conference!

Yet with all those accomplishments, Blatt never seemed to have the respect of the players in the Cavs’ locker room.

LeBron never respected Blatt.  He’d constantly questioned and overruled Blatt’s decisions.  Remember the times LeBron would wave off substitutions Blatt would send in the game?

Hell, the players seemed to respect top assistant Tyrone Lue more than Blatt.  That was why management signed Lue to a three-year contract on the heels of Blatt’s firing.

Now do I think that management panicked when the Cavs got their asses kicked by the Golden State Warriors on national television?  Perhaps.

Do I think Blatt is a good coach who got a raw deal in Cleveland?  Maybe.

I do know this – it sure smells like LeBron wanted the team to get Blatt the hell out of town.

And yeah, I know the Cavs’ general manager David Griffin maintains he consulted only with owner Dan Gilbert – not LeBron – before breaking off Blatt.

“I’m not somebody who believes we don’t talk to the family before we make changes.  We do. And I’ve told you that. I talk to many players when we make decisions of magnitude that will change the locker room.

“This was one where I didn’t need to ask them because I’ve watched them interact with each other for a very long period of time under a lot of different circumstances. I know what something that’s not right looks like, and I believe this was the right decision to make. And it’s very possible that it’s the wrong decision to make. You may hear that from our players tomorrow. And I’m open-minded to that. They don’t have to like it. They have to respect that this is what we’re trying to do.”

I’m going to call bullshit on that one.

There is no way in the hell that a team makes a big move like this without consulting their players, let alone a superstar.  LeBron is too important for the Cavs to do fire a very successful coach in Blatt.

And they gave Lue a new three-year contract, thus bypassing the “interim” stage?  YOu think Cavs management did that without discussing that with LeBron?  C’mon y’all.

It’s no secret that LeBron highly respects and loves Lue.  As I said earlier, the team respects Lue more so than Blatt.  Trust me when I say LeBron and the players are happy that Lue is now leading the troops.

As bad as I feel for Blatt, I’m not surprised he got his ass canned.  He and LeBron were a bad match from the beginning.

Let’s hope that LeBron doesn’t pull another power play and back-stabs his boy Lue…

 

It’s All About the West in the NBA

nbaLeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers has a golden opportunity last night.

They had the opportunity to show the rest of the NBA that they can compete against the elite teams of the NBA.  They had the opportunity to show everyone that they will be a force to be reckoned with when the NBA Finals roll around.

And more importantly, the Cavs had a chance to make a statement against Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and the defending champion Golden State Warriors.  After all the smack talk Curry espoused before the game (Curry said he hoped the visitors locker room “still smells a little bit like champagne”), one would think Cleveland would come out swinging.  And while I don’t know if Green said anything, you knew he was talking shit.

Instead, the Cavs laid down like dogs on national television.  Actually, saying that they “laid down like dogs” was being too nice.

The Cavs got violated.  Taken advantage of.  Curb-stomped.  Pimp-slapped.

Last night proved that no matter how competitive the Eastern Conference is this season, and how better the East looks overall, the title favorites still resides in the Western Conference.

The best three teams in the NBA are the Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and Oklahoma City Thunder.  No one thinks the Cavs should be considered as one of the elites.

The Cavs lost by over 30 to the Warriors.  OVER 30!

LeBron was upstaged by Curry.  Kyrie Irving had a horrible offensive night.  And last, but not least, max-salary player Kevin Love simply didn’t show up.

Love went 1-5 last night, scoring only three points.  Three points!  That dude has to be the softest max player in the NBA.

David Blatt keeps proving that he is only the coach of the Cavs in name only.  Everyone knows LeBron is the coach of that team.  Did you see him wave off a substitution (or two)?  Most of the team trusts assistant coach Tyrone Lue instead of Blatt.

Coupled with the loss last week to the Spurs, the Cavs are simply not ready for prime time. As it stands now, the best team in the East cannot hang with the top two dogs (and possibly the Thunder) in the West.

So until proven otherwise, the East champion will serve as a sacrificial lamb to the winner of the West.

 

 

Kobe Bryant Is Top-5 All Time

kobe_bryant_extensionEven though the story was the inevitable, I still cannot believe I am about to type the following sentence.

Kobe Bryant will retire at the end of this season.

Now for those of you who know me, y’all know that I am not the biggest Kobe fan.  I blame him for breaking up what would have been – and should have been – a dynasty.  I still believe that Kobe ran Shaq out of LA because he wanted to be the man.

I think that stars did not want to come to LA as free agents because they didn’t want to put up with Kobe’s act on the court.  Hell, he even calls himself a loner who doesn’t value friendships over titles.

Having said all of that, I respect the hell out of Kobe’s talent.  He is easily among the top five players in NBA history.  If I had a “top five” (think Chris Rock), it would look like this:

  1. Magic Johnson
  2. Michael Jordan
  3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  4. Kobe Bryant
  5. Larry Bird

Now I know a lot of y’all will hate on my all-time NBA top five, but when I decide to give a damn, I’ll let y’all know.

At any rate, while I will concede that Kobe is among the greats, it pains me to see him go out this way.  I know that Father Time (and sex) is undefeated and untied, injuries really took a toll on Kobe’s game.  He has been a shell of himself this season, having the worst shooting percentage of his career.

It’s even worse that his Lakers suck royally this season, and it will be years before things get A LITTLE better.  I blame Jim Buss, and to a certain extent Jeannie Buss for not firing her brother.

Jim has literally run this once-proud Lakers franchise into the ground.  Hell, as much as I hate the Lakers (I’m a Knicks fan), the NBA is much better when the Lakers are good.

As for me, I choose to remember the Kobe Bryant of yesteryear in all of his greatness.  Kobe Bean Bryant: man.

2015-2016 NBA Season Preview: the Quickie Edition

254px-NBA_Logo.svg_The 2015-2016 NBA season is upon us – and it’s as if no one knew about it.

I mean, given the whoopla surrounding the NFL, the excitement of college football (especially the last two weekends in Ann Arbor and Atlanta), and the World Series starting tomorrow night (arguably no one probably doesn’t know about that either), it’s easy to see why the NBA would get lost in the shuffle.  However, I believe this season will be just as exciting as last season.

There are lots of storylines heading into the season.  How will LaMarcus Aldridge and David West gel with Tim Duncan and the crew in San Antonio?  Will Keven Durant stay healthy long enough to guide the Thunder back to the NBA Finals?  Will the Warriors repeat?  Who will challenge Cleveland in the East?  And finally, will LeBron James bring a title to Ohio?

I cannot wait.

In the meantime, check out my extremely quick little NBA preview below.  You’ll be glad you did…

*: denotes playoff team

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

  1. Toronto Raptors (50-32)-*
  2. New York Knicks (40-42)
  3. Boston Celtics (38-44)
  4. Brooklyn Nets (30-52)
  5. Philadelphia 76ers (22-60)

Analysis:  The Raptors are clearly the best out of this wretched bunch.  My Knicks will make a playoff push – MAYBE.  I don’t know if the Sixers should be still considered an NBA franchise.

Central Division

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers (59-23)-*
  2. Chicago Bulls (53-29)-*
  3. Milwaukee Bucks (47-35)-*
  4. Indiana Pacers (41-41)
  5. Detroit Pistons (36-46)

Analysis:  This is basically a two-horse division.  As long as Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love stay healthy in Cleveland and Derrick Rose does the same in Chicago, those two teams will be the best in the East.  The Bucks will be fun to watch, especially since they revamped their jerseys.  As for the Pistons, at least head coach Stan Van Gundy can put together a phat mix tape

Southeast Division

  1. Miami Heat (52-30)-*
  2. Atlanta Hawks (51-31)-*
  3. Washington Wizards (46-36)-*
  4. Charlotte Hornets (41-41)-*
  5. Orlando Magic (30-52)

Analysis:  I think you could easily go with either the Heat or Hawks in this division, largely because both are talented and well-coached.  And if Dwyane Wade stays healthy, Cleveland should look the hell out.  Look for the Hornets to return to the playoffs as possibly the eighth seed.

Eastern Conference Champ:  Cleveland Cavaliers

Western Conference

Southwest Division

  1. San Antonio Spurs (59-23)-*
  2. Memphis Grizzlies (55-27)-*
  3. Houston Rockets (52-30)-*
  4. New Orleans Hornets (47-35)-*
  5. Dallas Mavericks (44-38)-*

Analysis:  This is easily the best division in the NBA, and arguably in all of professional sports.  All five teams will make the playoffs, and even he Hornets and Mavericks would make plenty of noise in the Eastern Conference.  The only thing preventing the Spurs from winning over 60 games is that the division is too damn good to dominate.

Northwest Division

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder (57-25)-*
  2. Portland Trailblazers (40-42)
  3. Minnesota Timberwolves (36-46)
  4. Utah Jazz (30-52)
  5. Denver Nuggets (27-55)

Analysis:  The Thunder should moonwalk to a division title.  Only the Atlantic Division would rival this one for all-time suckiness.

Pacific Division

  1. Golden State Warriors (55-27)-*
  2. Los Angeles Clippers (54-28)-*
  3. Phoenix Suns (43-39)
  4. Sacramento Kings (40-42)
  5. Los Angeles Lakers (34-48)

Analysis:  I am looking forward to seeing the Warriors and Clippers duke it out for the division supremacy.  One could easily make the case for these two teams being the best in the Western Conference, if not the NBA.  I also love that the Warriors and Clips totally hate each other.  Oh, and Kobe’s last year as a Laker will end in embarrassment.  You heard it here first.

Western Conference Champ:  Oklahoma City Thunder

2015-2016 NBA Champion:  Cleveland Cavaliers (this season will be known as ‘LeBron’s Revenge’)

The Knicks’ Draft Sucked

ny-knicks-logoAt the risk of putting my health in harm’s way, I’m going to discuss my beloved New York Knicks’ draft.

My Knicks selected Latvian big man Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.  This was when Duke’s Justise Winslow, China’s Emmanuel Mudiay, Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein and Croatia’s Mario Hezonja were still on the board.

You read that right.  We drafted some stiff out of a remote European country when more talented prospects were available.

I wish I could say how surprised and appalled I was at the draft pick.  I wish I could be shocked at how basketball president Phil Jackson could have gotten that pick wrong.  However, that would mean I would have to forget decades of futility in the draft.

Here’s a bit of trivia for y’all.  Who was the last Knicks first-round pick that has been selected for at least one All-Star Game and All-NBA Team?  You guessed it: Patrick Ewing, class of 1985.

1985!

I was in middle school in 1985.  My Knicks had not had a meaningful player on that level in 30 friggin years!  UGH!

Yet in spite of the horrendous drafting of years’ past (Frederic Weis, anyone?), I had a modicum of hope.  Sure, we had the fourth pick in the draft, but at least there was a bevy of players that could have helped us in the draft.

Those damn Lakers drafting D’Angelo Russell?  Sure that hurt, but at least there were Winslow, Mudiay and Hezonja’s swag around that would have salvaged our draft.

Until I heard the following announcement…

“With the fourth pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks select Kristaps Porzingis from Latavia.”

Oh hell no.  HELL NO.

My head fell straight to my desk.  Lots of yelled obscenities followed.  My beloved Knicks have fucked me yet again.

And yes, I know that Jackson and Co. managed to trade for Notre Dame baller Jerian Grant after said debacle.  That still didn’t make up for that horrific draft pick.

Sure, that Porzingis could turn out to be a good player.  Hell, based on his potential he could become a star in this league.

I doubt it, simply because he has the look of yet another European stiff that even my five-year-old son could post up and snag rebounds against.

As you can see, life is hard as a Knicks fan.  Why I allow those clowns to torment me and shave years off of my already short life expectancy is anyone’s guess.

Pray for me y’all…

LeBron Has Nothing to Be Ashamed of

NBA-Finals-LogoThe Cleveland Cavaliers fell to the new world champion Golden State Warriors in six games last night.  Check that, LeBron James fell to the new world champion Golden State Warriors in six games.

I know LeBron is now 2-4 in the NBA Finals.  I know that his record alone would pale in comparison to the all-time greats.  And I also know that one of those Finals he wet the bed in the worst way (vs. Dallas).

And while LeBron is sub-.500 in NBA Finals, I am not going to clown “The King”.  In fact, I think his performance in the 2015 NBA Finals enhanced his legacy.

Think about it for a minute.

His Cavs already went into the Finals two men down: a great offensive player in Kevin Love and a defensive stalwart in Anderson Varejao.  And while the Cavs played well in Game 1, star point guard Kyrie Irving fractured his knee cap in overtime and would miss the rest of the series.

As soon as Irving went down, everyone (including yours’ truly) thought that the Warriors would sweep them.  After all, how in the world would a one-man band win a game against the deep, young and powerful Warriors?

Well, not only did the short-handed Cavs win won game, they pushed the Warriors to six hard-fought games.  Ya know how they did that?

LeBron James.

If we took LeBron off of that team, it would be a lottery team capable of being owned by my sorry-ass New York Knicks.  Hell I could form a crew of four “all-DNP” NBA bench players and be competitive against that bunch.

Iman Shumpert, JR Smith, Timofey Mozgov and the Johnny-come-lately Matthew Dellavedova pushing the likes of regular season MVP Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Finals MVP Andre Iguodala (Curry should have won it), and Draymond Green?  Really?

That’s a testament to LeBron and his leadership.  He got every last ounce of grit and determination from that rag-tag bunch.

Unfortunately, he eventfully wore himself out and conceded the chip to Curry and his crew.

LeBron is feeling down in the dumps for not delivering the chip for NE Ohio.  He was despondent as hell during the post-game press conference.

But he has nothing to be ashamed of.  His performance in the Finals has created a new-found respect with me and many sports fans.

Man’s game LeBron.  Much respect.

A Quick 2015 NBA Playoff Finals Preview

NBA-Finals-LogoThis is going to be a weird NBA Finals of sorts to me.

The 2015 Finals are the first where I truly do not have a rooting interest – a dog in the fight, if you will.  Both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are great teams with great guys.  They also provide the media and fans with great storylines.

First of all, who doesn’t like the story of LeBron James leading his “hometown” Cavs back to the NBA Finals after winning a couple of rings in Miami?  Sure no one outside of Miami liked the way he left Cleveland, but if LeBron delivers the city of Cleveland its first championship in 51 years, he would be considered a god.

And who doesn’t love Stephen Curry?  He is about to be the new face of the NBA, with his State Farm commercials to boot (with the assist from Chris Paul, pun intended).  The fact he comes from a small school that made one of the greatest Cinderella runs in NCAA Tournament history, not to mention being the son of a former NBA player (Dell Curry).

It’s a shame that a team has to lose this Finals, but at least one of these teams has a great chance of making it back next season.  But that said…

Cleveland has been on a roll in the playoffs, losing only two games to this point (12-2 postseason record).  LeBron is arguably playing his best basketball in recent memory, leading a team mostly comprised of castoffs to the brink of a championship.  Star point guard Kyrie Irving’s gimpy knee and Kevin Love being sideline by a shoulder injury make LeBron’s exploits much more impressive.

The Cavs role players have been stellar.  Tristan Thompson has been a monster on the boards.  He has also been a cleanup man along with Timofey Mozgov and has been an excellent rim protector.

Speaking of Mozgov, how about my Knicks castoffs?  Collectively the trade that brought in Mozgov, Iman Shumpert,and the enigmatic J.R. Smith saved the Cavs season.

And last but not least, Matthew Dellavedova is one of the scrappiest (and to some dirtiest) player I have seen in quite some time.

Golden State counters Cleveland’s grit with firepower and the ability to run any team out of the gym.  Curry and Klay Thompson alone could easily combine for 60 points on any given night.  Plus there is that Draymond Green cat who not only is a terror on the boards, but he is a walking double-double and could easily pour in 20+ points when called upon.

The Warriors are also a lot deeper than the Cavs.  Andre Iguodala leads the second unit.  You read that right, he COMES OFF THE BENCH.  Shaun Livingston, Festus Ezeli, and Leandro Barbosa help keep the Warriors rolling on offense.

Even though Golden State is the better team (and better coached) on paper, I do not think LeBron is going to be denied.

There is something special going on with this Cavs team.  Their role players are playing out of their minds.  Hell, watching Smith staying within himself and becoming a big contributor to the team is amazing in and of itself.  As long as head coach David Blatt lets LeBron coach this team and stays the hell out of his way, the Cavs will shock the world (sort of).

Prediction: Cavs in 6.

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