Tag Archives: Dwayne Wade

Its a team game

The adage is simple: you let a team as crafty and veteran as the Boston Celtics lay around they will find a way to beat you.  And that’s what happened last night.  With every single minute passing and Miami unable to pull away on one of its patented runs that usually destroy lesser teams, the Celtics looked up at the scoreboard.  Never panicked.  And then put a few baskets together and cut the lead.  Again and again, everytime the Heat tried to pull away the Celtics reeled them back in and it was almost amusing at times to watch.

The Miami crowd, if that is even a real thing, was shocked at the end of the game and rightfully so.  They are not a basketball crowd.  They are a bunch of stray cats that had nothing better to do than be lured into a big arena.  They were given free t-shirts and told to make noise when given cue.  They were told by several green shirts peppered into the crowd that those guys with the jersey number six and 3 were good and that number 1 hadn’t played in about two weeks because of an abdominal strain.  They were given this information under the premise that they should cheer the boys in white and boo the men in green.

But last night’s game wasn’t simplistic enough for the novice to understand fully.  To appreciate what had just occurred.  The Boston Celtics have been the better team since they first left Miami.  They have played harder.  They have played tougher.  And they have controlled the tempo.  One of, if not THE BEST, players in this series is a man going on 37 who everyone forgets had a reputation for not being clutch.  Don’t act like everyone forgets the Minnesota years.  And it wouldn’t be ridiculous for one to ask: how is that possible?

Every single announcer made it sound as if the Celtics had zero chance of beating the Heat.  Everyone figured five games would be enough for the Heat to vanquish the Celtics.  Its not their fault.  Supernatural talent makes people forget logic.  Dwayne Wade and Lebron James’ performance against the Indiana Pacers had us all convinced that the Heat were going to steamroll their way into the Finals and the inevitable matchup against the Spurs- who they themselves have fallen on hard times.  Lebron is the best player on the planet.  Dwayne Wade, aka Prince Charming, is one of the five best players in basketball and they both play for the same team.  This is a star heavy league and teams with superstars win championships.  One can argue that with two superstars of almost equal talent (if this series has proven anything- that’s not even true, Lebron is far away a better player than Wade), they should be better than an old, aging group of veterans.

But the blinding light of talent has clouded our judgement about the fundamental premise of a team game.  Its a team game.  Its five players playing as one.  Knick fans that grew up in the late sixties and seventies will NEVER EVER forget those Knick teams because they were the embodiment of team.  No superstars.  No one hogging the ball or wanting more attention.  Just a collection of very skilled basketball players who understood that in order to beat the mighty Lakers or Celtics or anybody you had to play for each other and as one.  That there couldn’t be star gazing or standing around.  Everyone had a role and last night, Doc Rivers crystallized that when he declared Rajon Rondo as the leader of the Boston Celtics and gave us one of the best quotes that symbolize the difference between a good coach and a great coach.

“I think they kind of understand that Rondo’s the leader everybody else plays with Rondo.  Kevin is still a great player, and Paul is still our best scorer. But they’ve gotten out of each other’s way with roles. I think all the new guys have added a great competitive energy to our basketball team. So, early on when we were losing, I kept saying people were getting conditioning messed up with age. They kept looking at our team and saying, ‘We’re too old.’ I kept saying, ‘No, we’re out of shape and let’s find out how good we are later.’ Sometimes, as a coach, you have a feel about a team. I don’t know how good this team is. I’ve said that, but I know it’s a team. We can play with anybody.”

So Rondo is our leader.  Kevin is a great player and Paul is still our best scorer.  The three best players on the Celtics and all have clear distinctive roles on the team.  Rondo leads.  Pierce scores.  And Garnett is just great.  All different in their own ways but all come together to form a great team.  Yes, Paul Pierce hit the dagger three pointer- because that’s what he does.  Right in Lebron’s face even.  Yes, everyone will talk about Chris Bosh’s four minutes of game time in the second half despite playing decently for a guy who missed the last eight games.  But it was Mikael Pietrus who hit critical threes. It was Rondo who continuously tapped the ball into the waiting hands of green jerseys.  It was KG who enforced the middle as a no fly zone for Miami’s gifted scorers.  It was KG who kept his defender honest by knocking down 20 footers with consistency.  All three with great performances individually but under the umbrella of their role.

That is the definition of team.  A group of players playing with a common purpose.  A control of all things even as the game gets late and the situation gets tense.  Its not that they have been here before literally.  Yes, they have been together as a group playing under this kind of pressure but never in this specific situation.  But great teams ultimately control their circumstances.  Great teams forgo the individual pressure that they carry and know when to strike.  They know that the situation calls for someone to step up and they all know who it is without even talking about it.

I had a discussion on Facebook a few weeks back when Lebron James passed a three pointer over to Mario Chalmers who had a decent look and we debated the decision of Erik Spolestra to use Wade and Lebron as expensive props for Mario Chalmers to get a chance at a three pointer.  Most believed that it was the right play.  And yes, the computer will spit out that in that specific context giving the ball to your best 3 point shooter is in fact the right call.  But my common sense couldn’t help but think to ask this simple question: if Lebron James and Dwayne Wade are your best players and you have lavished upon them boat loads of money based on that logic, how then can you possibly NOT include them in the final seconds of a game where it means win or loss.  Those are the players you want deciding the game.  Mario Chalmers missing IS NOT the point.  I’m not insinuating that Lebron or Wade would’ve definitely made that shot because we can’t possibly know that.  But what I can know is that you have entrusted them with this belief that they are the best players on the team, how then can you possibly leave the outcome of the game to your fifth, sixth or seventh best player?

The name of the game is team.  A team who understands each player’s role within the context of the situation and the moment.  Its ok if this were game 23 in the middle of the season but the Heat lost a playoff game because Mario Chalmers missed a three pointer at the end of regulation.  That could’ve been disastrous.  That’s what I want people to understand.  How can you possibly say that this team knows itself when they don’t know what to do at the end of a game?  Poor execution because they are defended well is one thing, but poor execution because the play selection was terrible and the play was stupid is something else entirely.

The Celtics don’t need to be reminded.  That quote personified what they are.  They have been honest with themselves this entire season.  Doc Rivers has a feel for this team because he’s locked in just like every player is right now.  Ray Allen didn’t moan or piss about Avery Bradley being the starter when he returned, it was all part of the bigger plan.  Rivers doesn’t have to mind his words or hope that what he says won’t destroy the confidence of his players.  He says what he wants because it needs to be said.  He lashes out because things need to be lashed at.  Because the Celtics are a team, not a collection of individuals.  The best quote on twitter, often a forum for great creative one liners, was that  last night an NBA team beat an AAU team.

The Heat can still win this series.  But they have to figure out what they are exactly.  They have to get the ball into the hands of their best players at the end of games.  Even the young OKC Thunder figured that out.  Kevin Durant scored 16 in a row at one point during OKC’s victory in game 4 because they understood that he’s their best player and when he’s starting to hit circus shots that you MUST feed him the ball and get him as many touches as possible.  The hierarchy must be present.

For the Heat to be successful now, everyone must fall into line.  Lebron must realize he’s the top dog and make sure that everyone follows him.  The Heat will go only as far as Lebron will take them, but not when everyone, including themselves are unsure if its he or Wade doing the leading.

 

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The Writer and his script: the story of game 4 of the Heat/Pacer series

Maybe this was what was needed.  The superstar that is supposedly incapable of taking over.  The other superstar who had disappeared and then reappeared like the ghost of christmas past to spook his coach into making some cockamamie excuse for him post game and for his antics.  Maybe it was Lance Stephenson, the former prep phenom, becoming an internet sensation for the first time in his career delivering a choke sign hand guessture as Lebron James missed critical free throws in game 3.  Maybe that’s what allows the giant to come out.  Maybe that’s when enough is enough and great players assert themselves in a way that we expect them to.

The thing is, with Lebron and Wade and this Heat collabo, we’ve pre-written the story.  Well you can make the case that with the signing party they threw for themselves in Miami, they wrote their story.  We figure that this will all end in champagne and the inevitable “Here we go”  articles professing allegiance to the Lebron bandwagon fearing death if you resist.  We’ve been waiting for Lebron to show us what he’s capable of and he did that in game 4.  Call him whatever you want, but if there was anything about Sunday it was this: it was great.

It was greatness that we had all but given Lebron yet hadn’t seen in quite some time.  You see, Lebron is in the unenviable position of being born with otherwordly talents that we all can see.  There are plenty of people that dissect his performances and give grades based on complicated mathematical formulas that convinced me that if I had to understand this math crap, those guys had to hear Fran Drescher reading a book to you as you tried to sleep.  But the fact is, greatness is seen with two eyes and two ears.

The best is when it happens at someone else’s court.  I fondly remember the moments that Michael Jordan used to tear out the collective spirit of the Madison Square Garden faithful during the nineties or when Reggie went on his scoring barrages.  Or when Lebron went Cleveland (as the kids are calling it) on Detroit by scoring the final 25 points in what was essentially the first GREAT Lebron performance.  The crowd tries and tries to will its team but the look on the players faces tell it all: helpless, tired, and incapble of finding any answers.  Then you look out at the fans who have no answers.  Who have their hands on their heads.  Mouths are usually open.  Hearts are broken.  Tears are fighting to come out except foolish pride is keeping them in.  These are the expressions of futility.  Its a force of nature that you can’t stop and you hope it goes away without doing any more damage.

The Pacers had played from the tail end of game 2 till the second quarter of game 4 against a flawed Miami Heat team.  Basically they played against the Knicks.  A superstar heavy team with no other role players to speak of and basically 2 other guys you could semi-trust in a crucial spot.  The Pacers had enjoyed competing against this team because they knew they could beat this team but its funny when two of the five best players suddenly come out of the doldrums, realize what they are and act like it.  At one point during the third, and going into the fourth the dynamic duo had scored 38 consecutive points.  They came to the understanding that if they were to lose, it would be on their terms and not by any one else’s.

I had a foolish conversation the other day about the play that had Miami draw up a three point shot for Mario Chalmers.  The logic was sound: you give the three point shot to your BEST three point shooter.  Except, that’s if you do things by the books.  There’s an older book that must be brought into play whenever you have to make crucial decisions.  When you have the greatest player in the world, right now, you HAVE to allow him to win or lose the game.  Game four was proof.  There is no way you allow the ball to wind up in anyone else’s hands EXCEPT his.  He’s the force of nature.  He’s the carrier of his destiny and the one who shall write the script of how it all ends.

There is nothing to stop Lebron James and Dwayne Wade except themselves.  They pre-wrote their own script.  The only question that remains to be asked is: who wrote such a shitty game 3 episode?

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The Star problem

I decided that instead of doing a sports roundup for today I’d address a pretty major relevant topic this morning in a ranting format.  ESPN’s TrueHoop blog which has become mandatory daily reading for me,  has an article up written by Henry Abbot, who I began reading daily thanks to his excellent lockout coverage and most of all his common sense perspective, in which the title and point is that stars act like stars because they are…wait for it, STARS.

The Chris Paul furor on twitter/radio/national landscape has been unbelievable.  I admit I’m a Knick fan first and foremost.  I admit also that barring Imam Shumpert is the second coming of Isiah Thomas*, the Knicks don’t have anything remotely resembling an enticing package to trade to New Orleans for Chris Paul.
*= Where by I would argue then that the Knicks shouldn’t trade for CP3 and should focus on who I believe SHOULD be their primary target and that’s Dwight Howard. 

Ok, I get all that.  But why all the hatred?  The entire twitterverse has been raging over on beat the Knicks down testosterone as if the competition hasn’t been doing that for years.  Its these same know it all critics that confidently pointed out that the Knicks didn’t have enough to trade for Carmelo Anthony* and well we all know how that turned out.  I’m not saying they are wrong here.  I’m just alarmed at how angry these fans/”objective journalists” get when they talk about the Knicks having no shot at getting Chris Paul.
*= Which I STILL think was a mistake because now we’re here.   

Aside from the no-assets argument, they say that Chris Paul would NEVER leave money on the table, a reported $26 million if he doesn’t sign with a team that owns his Bird rights.  But this was all a reaction to a Yahoo Sports report that his agent, Leon Rose who also represents Carmelo Anthony for CAA, notified New Orleans management including GM Dell Demps that he would not sign an extension in season and requested a trade to the K nicks.  Suddenly groans were being bellowed and sarcastic (and actually funny) remarks were being made that Melo had orchestrated this whole thing and that all the leverage that the owners talked about taking back had just been virtually erased with one fail swoop from a superstar’s agent.

What?  The owners didn’t destroy their leverage, they worked on getting more of it with this new CBA.  The whole point of this was to gain competitive balance which is a hypothetical fantasy land filled with fairies and gnomes.  That place only exists in the minds of those who read numbers and conjure up arguments to support that case.  Competitive balance is the understanding that a system is in place that allows EVERY TEAM To fairly compete in an economic landscape.  But our society in general doesn’t have that so why should sports be any different?  If we relate NBA teams to everyday status roles, the Knicks and the Lakers are the rich kids while the Hornets are the orphans and Oklahoma City is the middle class.  New York and LA will always hold major advantages over other places because they can.  They have the most financial opportunity.  They have the most wealth and its not even close.  If its a competition why should New York and LA forego their advantages because everyone is throwing a hissy fit?

But now, Chris Paul is the latest superstar diva trying to screw over a small market team with his grandiose dreams of making it in a big city.  So, if I have this straight he SHOULDN’T leave money on the table to go and play for a team that employs one of his best friends but he’s also a scumbag because of how he’s deserting a small market?  Huh?  Come again?

Make up your minds.  He’s either a greedy person and stays with the Hornets currently owned and operated by all 29 franchises.  Or he’s not greedy and is destroying the NBA by creating a superstar alliance of his own in New York.  There’s a good/bad side to everything I guess.

Somewhere, signals got crossed and this became a moral argument.  It began with Lebron and ended last year with Carmelo and begins anew with Chris Paul.  And its a wonder why they are such close friends.  Suddenly superstars were beholden to teams and supposed to stay in their lanes.  No one would’ve had a problem with Lebron staying in Cleveland.  I’m not absolving him from how he announced it and I agree that it didn’t help his public image.  But he did something even greater than all that albeit in spectacularly stupid and insensitive fashion.  He let the NBA and his fellow superstars know that THEY, and not the powers that be that run their teams or the CBA have the power.  If you are willing to give up a little in terms of compensation from your teams, you can dictate the terms.  That’s real power and that’s real forward thinking.

We were all kind of blind to the situation when it happened but I get it now and moreso when Carmelo asked for a trade.  His intent to go to the Knicks was known and it became front page news in Denver and New York when it leaked that his destination of choice was New York.  He had roots there and wanted to play under the bright lights of a big city.  He was exercising his God-given right to do what he pleased and you want to know why the Nuggets listened?  Because he’s a superstar.  Because he holds weight and if he says he wants to go somewhere he will find a way to get that done regardless of whether it makes sense.  Its that kind of power that makes Kim Kardashian continue to have her show picked up by E!  Its their talent and ability to draw that gives coked up former Hollywood heavyweights the ability to continue making million dollar deals.  No matter what, you can’t ignore talent and can’t tell talent what to do if they know they have the leverage.  And players have always had the leverage and always died to exercise that leverage and no one of Lebron’s stature had done anything close to what he did when he made the Decision.

But the NBA and namely David Stern has been creating this beast slowly but surely over the last 30 years.  The NBA moreso than any other league is star driven.  You don’t come to see the Lakers, you come to see Kobe play.  You don’t come to see the Heat, you come with your Lebron Haterade filled signs and come to see Lebron and D-Wade.  Stars run this league and rightfully so.  Would you pay the high ticket prices to come see Eddy Curry?  No.  You’d ask the Knicks to pay you to see that garbage.  Stern has enabled players to become the superstars and earn the high priced endorsement deals outside of basketball and has given them unseemly amounts of leverage.  It was a calculated risk that worked in the 90’s and its working today in albeit a different form.

The problems ratifying a new CBA this year was linked to Lebron’s Decision from last year for the following reasons: small markets were complaining that this new precedent and formation of super teams would make it impossible for them to convince their star players to stay.  But let’s study the real facts here.  Lebron was drafted by Cleveland in 2003.  Took it to the Finals in 2007.   Got them the number one seed twice in the East.  Gave them seven transcendent seasons and it became a problem that he was leaving.  Seven seasons of dominant basketball, no title, no sign of cap space to sign an extra piece and yet this was Lebron’s problem?  Dirk Nowitzki proved this season that if you surround your superstar with enough good talent you will win.  Lebron’s late game heroics aside, the Cavs only came close ONCE.  Did Lebron quit the last two seasons in Cleveland during inopportune times and did he shrink during the Finals again last year?  Yes.  But the fact remains he does not get the lions share of the blame for him wanting to explore his options.

But it became an even bigger issue when Carmelo Anthony, another 2003 product and close Lebron ally, told Denver management that he wanted to be traded.  The Nuggets as a team have never preached defense during their time and only ONCE did they find a team capable of escaping the first round of the playoffs and yet the blame was laid on Melo’s lap because that’s the gift and curse of the superstars.  In their failures they are given the blame and during their best times they are given the credit.  But for seven seasons with no change in sight suddenly Melo was wrong in wanting a scene change to somewhere he’d rather be.  And now CP3 is asking for virtually the same thing.

I don’t get the villainry angle that is slowly emerging.  Why are they wrong for wanting to do what they want?  Would you be blamed for wanting to better your situation?  Wouldn’t you find it odd that people criticize you for wanting a job at a bigger company?  Are you supposed to be at the same company you were at from the time you entered the workforce forever?

Stars sustain this game no matter how you want to look at it or love it.  The Knicks will always have the advantage of being from New York.  Their failures like the Heat will be displayed on billboards for all to see.  This country loves its underdogs yet it doesn’t remember that they are the big dogs.  They are the world’s bullies.  In much the same way, the NBA’s small market teams like to see itself as underdogs in this situation when they were the bullies that almost torpedoed the season and wound up costing the fans, vendors, local businesses 16 games worth of experience and revenue respectively.

The point is, this whole argument against a player wanting to exercise his lawful right to explore his options is beyond hypocritical.  If you want to criticize someone, do it because Chris Paul is poisoning his team.  He isn’t.  He’s working out with his teammates and trying to keep a level head.  Don’t heap this all on his head and make him the face of this new NBA where players still have the leverage and proclaim it to be a bad thing.

He’s either greedy and a loyalist for staying with the Hornets and taking the biggest contract possible OR he’s another spoiled rotten superstar who gave up the largest possible contract to play for considerably less but be where he wanted to be.  So he’s damned if he does and damned if he don’t.

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Seriously Lebron- What’s up?

52 to 11.

That’s Dirk Nowitzki’s fourth quarter tally and that second number is Lebron James.

I am going to preface this by saying I didn’t watch all of Game 5 but the beauty of social networking websites and 24 hour sports news networks and league specific channels running on an all day clock make it so that you NEVER have to kick yourself for not setting your DVR.

A few days ago I wrote an article questioning what was eating Lebron James.  What could possibly be weighing on his mind that could possibly cause a second consecutive crash and burn for the self-appointed King James?  If you believe the internet, then its Rashard Lewis.  But Mike Wise had a great line in his Washington Post article which says it best:

“After boxing, nothing affords a naked-eye view of a supreme talent like basketball. Viewers see James’s mood swings, interpret his body language, see the fidgety nibbling of his nails, the primal roar after a malicious slam, and they instantly feel they know him in a way they could never know a helmeted free safety or a masked goaltender.”

And we all feel that instant connection to Lebron James, the most televised athlete in the history of the game.  Lebron the phenom came up at just the right time, as social networking was exploding, as tv cameras were following child prodigies around, everyone carrying around smartphones so we would never miss a score, and as DVR’s made it possible for people to NEVER miss an important sports game ever again.  So his connection with us is instant.  We see everything even this unbelievable footage of Wade and Lebron clowning Dirk and acting as if he were putting on a performance with the reports of a sinus flu.

Yet, the biggest act has been this Lebron James.  Whoever this Lebron James is.  Is the real Lebron the guy who torched Boston and absolutely destroyed Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls?  Or is it THIS James, on the biggest stage of his career and looking about as lost as a kid who walked into the wrong classroom on the first day of school.*
*= not like that ever happened to me 

For James haters this is best case scenario: the Heat losing, and Lebron being a shadow in the fourth quarter shrinking under the weight and burden that his talent brings.  Who is Lebron James?  He’s the most televised athlete of our generation and yet we have no clue what he is.  But we will find that out in Game 6 and perhaps Game 7.  The law of averages for a talent of his kind suggests that he will get it together, put his skirt away and bring his man pants to American Airlines Arena in Miami on Sunday and help the Heat reclaim some of the lost momentum.

Of course, if they don’t, Lebron may never recover.  The camera tells the whole story.  Nail biting.  Lebron looking around for someone to get this hot potato we call a basketball away from him.  The pathetic display of emotion when he creates a turnover.  You know, the “I gotta show something here so that fans don’t think I don’t care” look of half ass incredulous-ness.*
*= yeah, I just created a word right there- deal with it! 

But if these last few outings have proven anything its this: we now have a clear understanding of who’s the man.  Its almost universal that Lebron James is the better player than Dwayne Wade.  But perhaps even that discussion is changing and shifting.  Because its what have you done for me lately and lately James hasn’t done diddly.  Wade, with bruised hip and all, sitting a quarter managed 23 points.  Lebron happy to play stat-sheet killer threw up a triple double and still the haters were in full force.

His supporters will run to that argument: are you kidding me? He had a triple double.  What else do you want him to do?

The only problem with that argument is he came to Miami because his supporting cast was infinitely better here.  Yes, I’m even giving Chris Bosh some props because I can’t be more impressed by him.  He can’t fall on that safety crutch that his teammates suck like he could in Cleveland.  Dwayne Wade has consistently shown up.  He will get the Finals MVP if the Miami Heat win.  Chris Bosh has been better than I EVER expected on the glass and he’s been consistent with his jumper.  But everyone’s waiting for Lebron to show up.

Don’t count him out either.  With his kind of talent you never want to give a guy like that motivation but the Mavs have consistently given him that motivation throughout.  Deshawn Stevenson said he quit.  Jason Terry dared him to think he could guard him for the next five games like that.  These threats should’ve fueled Lebron to have a monster games 4 and 5 and yet, it seemingly deflated him even more.  The thought process here is this: what’s going on that Lebron can’t seem to focus?  Where is Lebron James when his team needs him?

Physically its tough to miss him, mentally he’s miles away.  In his mind, the Heat have won the title and he’s playing pick up games with Jason Kidd and Jason Terry.  He probably hasn’t seen the huge banner that reads FINAL on it.  This is it Lebron.  Make or break.  Its about that time.

Oh wait, he said that too.

Now all this is making sense.  Lebron wasn’t teaming up with Wade, he was running to Wade.  Lebron said it perfectly: he was taking his talents to South Beach to be Wade’s lackey.  It makes sense that Scottie Pippen, always jealous of Michael Jordan and never able to do what he did, would dis Michael to give props to Lebron.  Because he sees everything in him that he saw in Lebron.  He wants everyone to make THAT comparison.  Lebron is Scottie 2.0.  And ya know what Scottie?  You’re right.  He is.  He’s Karl Malone 2.0.  He’s freaking Shawn Kemp 15.0 (i mean he has a lot of baby mama drama doesn’t he?).  Yep, he’s the evolution of the talented Superstar with one glaring thing missing: that ring.

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What’s eating Lebron James?

Honestly, when the question was asked about Lebron shying away from the big moment in crucial situations, even I was a bit taken aback by it.  I felt bad for Lebron who I reminded myself quickly should NOT be a person anyone feels bad for.  Not after the offseason and not after the preseason parade.  But I was a bit puzzled by his question.  Sure, Lebron is allowed to have one bad shot or one bad quarter which is all fine and well.  But if you want to be the best you have to earn it and for Lebron there is no other end game.  If he becomes anything less than better than Michael Jordan when all is said and done consider his career a failure.

Seriously.

Its not that I think being better than MJ is going to be easy by any stretch.  The weight of that title can crush any normal man but Lebron hasn’t been trained to be normal all his life.  His teenage years, his adolescent years have all been spent under the watchful eye of the television camera and so there is no hiding for Lebron.  He’s made his life one big Truman show so we can all enjoy and bask in the life and times of a great basketball player and before I say anything about his Game 4 performance let me repeat: Lebron James is already a great basketball player.

But game 4 was atrocious.  From beginning to end.  He looked like a rookie navigating his way around his first playoff game.  He looked like a kid in a toy store for the very first time.  He was there for the ride and happy to be there.  Unfortunately that’s not Lebron’s job.  Lebron is supposed to be everything and nothing that Michael Jordan was.  He has to take over fourth quarters.  He has to score the game winning basket.  He has to get the big steal.  He has to make the big defensive play to turn the tide.  That’s what HE has to do.

There is however, the problem of having someone on your team that can rival your own talent and skill set.  After all, isn’t that why Lebron and Wade joined forces?  Lebron never had the kind of band mates he has in Miami in Cleveland.  It was about winning and forming the best team possible under NBA free agency rules.  So if that IS the case. why should anyone care if Wade does the heavy lifting?  If Wade carries the team once in a while.  I mean, it was Lebron who carried the Heat against the Bulls.  Shutting down Derrick Rose on one end and then hitting clutch shot after clutch shot on the offensive end.  It was the fulfilling of the prophecy moment for most Lebron fans.

But Wade’s disappearance throughout the Bulls series was not due to failure of trying.  We never questioned Wade’s effort like Lebron’s clearly was after Game 4.  Lebron looked confused.  He looked uncertain.  He looked scared.  He looked lost.  He looked nothing like what we expect and what we expect is MJ.  What we expect are memories we have of Michael Jordan.  Sure we acknowledge the push off on Byron Russell in 98 but we remember the hand staying in the air as he posed for what SHOULD HAVE BEEN his final game.  An artist so sure of what to do in critical moments.  A different being in critical situations.  What was so crazy about LBJ’s performance was this: we saw it in his eyes.  He wasn’t in the game.  He wasn’t so much involved in the goings on of this crucial game 4.  Another game in which they held a 9 point advantage with 7 minutes to go and faltered again.

There are really two sad things about last night’s game:  If Lebron had looked anything like his normal self, the Heat win this running away.  They are up three games to one and on their way to either a five game win or six for added celebratory effect in downtown Miami.  They lost by 2 because for some reason Lebron just wasn’t himself for the entire game.  Dirk Nowitzki outscored Lebron James in the fourth quarter alone.  In 90 career playoff games no one had ever held him to single digits in points and yet on the Finals stage, in a game where I was blown away more by Dwayne Wade’s ability as the BEST two way guard in the game* than Lebron’s no show until I started looking for Lebron on the court like a parent who just remembered they had a kid with them.  Panic set in and I was wondering if Lebron was even in the game and then I saw him turn it over.  I went online looking at his stats and was confused.  6 points?  Are they only showing me the points for the quarter?
*= seriously if there is any argument I’d like to hear it because Dwayne Wade’s block of Tyson Chandler and his 32 points and his Finals MVP showcase performance are all you need to know to end any argument anyone has.  He’s the best 2 way guard in the game.  Better than Kobe.  Better than everyone.  Forget it.   

It was beyond me.  But that’s only because my expectation of Lebron is so much higher than perhaps he has of himself.  Maybe he’s unsure.  Maybe he got a text message from Delonte West and noticed he had checked into Akron, Ohio near his mom’s house.  Maybe the lingering Jordan debate is just too much for him.  Who knows what was bugging him, but what we do know is that for the Heat to win this series, Lebron has to be himself.  Lebron has to rise above his below mediocre self and become that guy from the Bulls series.  How can anyone think that Jason Terry can guard him?  Credit the Mavs D from taking the ball out of Lebron’s hand and making him throw passes to players wearing blue jerseys.  But also you have to consider that Lebron is fading from this series for altogether other reasons just like he did when he quit on the Cavs last year against Boston.

You have to wonder, what’s eating Lebron James?

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Dealing with Game 1 ramifications

Don’t quote me on this but: its over ya’ll.

It has been for a while but we never wanted to admit it.  We talked ourselves into adjmustment periods.  We talked ourselves into the whole “these guys can’t close”, “they aren’t clutch” arguments.  We even went as far as to say “they aren’t THAT good.”

Gulp.

They are.  If these playoffs have been anything its been the Heatles last song in a season long concert of hits.  Some were dicey and murky but in the end, these guys figured it out and have made it work.

Remember when we wondered who would be taking the last shot?  That debate is now moot because it doesn’t really matter.  Lebron and Wade seem to tag each other in in close moments and will their team to victory.

Last night was Lebron’s first Finals victory of many presumably.  If they can lift this squad of ho hums and nobodies then imagine what will happen when they fill out this squad with more talent.  How many Juwan Howards and Mike Bibby’s will forego extra dollars just to ride the James-Wade express to a championship?

This is only beginning folks.  When Dirk Nowitzki lifted up his finger to show the torn tendon that he suffered in the third quarter going for a strip of Chris Bosh- it might as well have been the white flag he was waving.

Jeff Van Gundy said it best: “the difference between the Mavs and the Heat are that Miami has Lebron James and the Mavs don’t.”. Simply put he’s the great game changer.  He pulls 60 regular season victories out of his hat.  He shows great feel and poise for the game.  He has incredible range as evidenced by his third quarter fall away three at the buzzer.  He now has added fourth quarter closer to his reportoire.

There is no place left for any Lebron hater to go.  His game is that good- we’ve always recognized that.  We have nitpicked and enjoyed his misery when he misses but those are Jordan like qualities he possesses.  He’s so good, he makes us hate him but marvel at the same time.

When I was growing up Michael Jordan consistently put an asswhooping on my beloved Knicks when it mattered.  In the playoffs he could not be beat.  It wasn’t close.  In the regular season he was human though he tried not to show it.  The Knicks would beat the Bulls and Knick fans like myself had this false sense of superiority that eventually came crashing down when Mike would eventually turn it to a level that John Starks, Patrick Ewing and Co. could only dream of.

Look at the teams Lebron has vanquished.  It was like his teams never beat the Celtics.  The season series was 3-1 in favor of Boston.  0-3 versus the Chicago Bulls.  Both series went in 5.  Finally the Heat were 0-2 against Dallas this season but after game 1, its 1-0 in favor of the MoHeat-os.

As a Lebron hater its difficult to view him as anything but a coat tail rider and prima donna and every other nasty synonym of loser I can conjure up.  But as a basketball fan I’m in awe.  A great one is forging his legacy before our eyes.  He’s asked for this attention, and gotten it, his whole life.  Now on his sport’s biggest stage he’s teaming up with his friend D-Wade to claim the last bit of relevant gold he has yet to put his stamp on: the NBA championship.

Of course the comparisons to Michael will only intensify.  In the aftermath of these Finals, it will go from Lebron winning his first championship to talk to me when he wins six.  After that, what will Lebron haters like myself do?  Will we ask him to lead his team to a better than 72-10 mark?  82-0?  Hey Lebron, betcha can’t score more than 100 in a game.  Yo Bron, nice triple double but can you do that over an entire season like the Big O?  What will we have?

Why? Because we’ve waited for MJ’s successor for so long.  Because we wanted Lebron to be that dude.  No matter what we say, Lebron is the closest thing we have to MJ.  Maybe not better Scottie, but close enough.  He’s the next version of the MJ type.  The successor, the evolution of the Jordan gene.  We don’t want to admit this but this is what we want.

We want someone to take the reins and ride the horse.  We want to witness greatness and marvel and hate on it.  We want Lebron to be what we know he can be: the best.  Period.

Last night’s late game pull away has been like a script the Heat have acted to perfection this postseason.  Line for line, scene to scene, it was a virtuoso performance by 2 of the best players, and Chris Bosh, who has done a more than serviceable job cleaning up the boards and tip ins that he’s managed to be very good but that’s as far as I’ll go in praising him.

The Heat have never looked like they weren’t in command and their defense has been the catalyst.  The Heat’s speed and ability to cover ground force Dallas’ shooters to not have the kind of open looks and opportunities they’ve been used to seeing these playoffs.  Terry, Peja, Deshaun Stevenson all had hands in their faces as soon as the ball reached them.  One by one they lost their confidence and they folded under the Heat of Miami’s defense.  The Mavs were supposed to be the deeper team, but it was the Heat who gained steam as the game went on.

It all adds up to a Heat game one win and a preview of things to come for several years.  The Heat are only going to get better folks.  Admit the inevitable and just enjoy the ride.

Gulp.

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Monday Morning or the other

I’m not going to lie.  If we learned one thing this week, its that it is currently Charlie Sheen’s world, we’re all just living in it, waiting for him to tweet his next set of instructions.

In today’s post, I’m going to give you my thoughts on the new Met news about their newest rumored shenanigans.  The NFL just extended itself for another week in order to hopefully get a resolution.  Plus our steady diet of links and things you sing about.  Also my latest on who the Met owner should be and my random thoughts.  So let’s jump in shall we?

Charlie Sheen-ing on Twitter

 

@charliesheen
Born Small… Now Huge… Winning… Bring it..! (unemployed winner…)
I enjoy Bill Simmons’ podcasts.  There’s one guest in particular I enjoy listening to with whom he’s going to team up at some undetermined date to bring to us sports geeks a new website characterized as “70% sports and 30% pop culture” which even I don’t know what kind of a website that would be.  Either way, the person I’m speaking about is Chuck Klosterman.  Klosterman is probably the most interesting person to speak to because I always come away thinking far deeper about any subject than I normally would have.  Of course in his latest podcast he and Bill discussed this whole Charlie Sheen phenomenon which has been sweeping the nation over this past week.
For those of you living under a rock let me summarize: Sheen and Chuck Lorre, the producer of the hit show “Two and a Half Men” have had a falling out.  Such a falling out that Sheen has gone on multiple media formats blasting the very successful producer of many good shows, none more successful than Mr. Sheen’s.  His tirades on radio and print have become things of legend.
First of all, I think this whole Charlie Sheen is ridiculous.  So ridiculous in fact that it gets me mad.  In conversations with friends I’ve realized that opinion is torn on both sides of the fence on him.  Some people think he’s so cool for doing this and some people can’t believe that this guy is getting pub for this.
I’m kind of in the middle.  Let me explain.
I don’t think there’s anything special about Charlie Sheen.  Nothing.  His acting has never made me stop and take notice.  I’ve never come away talking about his performance in any movie.  He’s on a hit TV show because his movie career died about a decade ago.  I don’t think “Two and a Half Men” are funny but the numbers don’t lie, I’m in the minority.
But what Sheen did this week when he signed up for Twitter was probably the biggest contribution he’s ever made to society and his most remarkable achievement and let me tell you why.   For those not on the social networking sites, its ok.  I don’t think any explanation is necessary.  Social networking sites aren’t for everyone.
But to dismiss its relevance and say its not the present or future would be ridiculous.  Its like saying that the internet was just an ok idea.  That’s reedonkulous, the internet was a GREAT idea and its the most revolutionizing thing ever.  Its also the present and the future of where this world is going.  Everything is being digitized and conformed to appease the internet.  Nobody wants to read a book anymore, we have Ipads that allow us to do that.  We have created newer ways to get the internet and I predict that in about 5 years phone carriers are going to exclusively start offering smart phones.  There won’t be any phones that just make phone calls.
Social networking sites like Facebook or Myspace (yeah that’s still alive but Friendster isn’t- sorry Asians) and Twitter are now the accepted norm of society.  Every form of communication has embraced it by acknowledging corporate pages on their shows and on their products.  Every business has bought in, its time that those of you who still doubt, do too.
But I suppose its just a natural form of progression that we as a society make.  Before it was television.  Think about the three most popular images on television.  I made a Top 3 and here they are:
-OJ Simpson verdict and car chase (tie)
– Man walking on the moon.
– JFK being shot.
When those events happened, it not only elevated those 3 events, it made us stand up and notice in a completely different way.  Our society was having more and more of a dependence on T.V.’s for our information, it merely needed its headline moments.  Every person alive for those three events knew where they were when those things happened.  That kind of event comes along once a generation.
Just like H.G. Wells reading War of the Worlds and scaring the daylights out of his listeners, signature moments on media have become time stamps.  It also defines a generation.
I grew up consuming news through television and newspapers.  Six P.M. broadcasts became appointment viewing.  Then came along the internet.  It started off on slower dial up connections and now almost everyone has some version of high speed connections which have made our consumption of information quicker which has made us less dependent on those television broadcasts.  Why wait for the news when I can watch it online at my convenience or better yet, when I can read up about it online?  The way we are getting news has changed.
My cousin asked me what the big deal about Twitter is.  Its unfair to ask me.  I’m a huge fan of social networking sites.  In fact I’m a social networking whore.  Don’t tell that to my fiance.  I think they are great but I’ve grown a special appreciation for Twitter because I read a lot more cooler things and get more links from that website than anything.  Plus, the challenge of being witty at 140 characters is pretty tough and satisfying.
I’ve discovered plenty of cool material over Twitter and the way celebs have absolutely engrossed themselves in this format makes regular folk like me interested because if they like it, it must be cool.
So consider Charlie Sheen’s arrival and huge fan base on Twitter its first true watershed moment.  I dont know if its the future but Sheen’s crazy antics and his equally puzzling fame which made his record setting Twitter following (over a million in the span of a little more than 24 hours) gave Twitter its breakthrough moment and entered it into the pantheon of great moments in media.  For two days, Charlie Sheen’s stupidity caused almost every single person to blindly worship a guy who’s never been that successful in anything except this T.V. show and you know what?  He wants to ruin that too.
But even bigger than the big moment for Twitter is the truth that can’t be shaken:  the internet has given us the opportunity to change perception.  When used properly, and wisely, the internet can not only revive one’s career but can make one as well.  Bill Simmons became a huge star because of his blog.  The Huffington Post was recently purchased for $350 million.  Betty White became a superstar again because of an internet campaign to get her to host an SNL episode so everyone could remember how funny she was.  Perception can be changed over the internet.
Why?  Because there are too many voices now.  Before there were fewer people with more access.  Now there are too many people in one big bubble trying to get their opinions across that can influence your thought processes.  The internet’s claim is that the flow of information is much greater and that there’s more information being shared but how trustworthy is that information?  A friend of mine said that Charlie Sheen was an icon.
Was he really?  I won’t dispute the notion that he is one NOW.  He’s created a moment that will live on  depending on how long Twitter stays around.  He’s an icon because of his outlandish appearances since this whole story broke.  He’s an icon because he put the most successful sitcom on America’s #1 network on hiatus until this whole thing gets resolved.  To imply he was anything more than an average actor who had access to the business because of his father who was famous would be stretching the truth.  The internet allows US to make up our mind and allows voices to make up our minds for us.  Its the beauty of democracy and a reason why our country is what we are.
We’re confused.  We think Charlie Sheen is an icon.  We believe our opinions are right.   We think our ways are the best.  Fact is, its not entirely true.  Not everything we do is with everyone’s best interest at heart.  But our country has so many voices, democrats, republicans, libertarians, and every other voice that at some point our society will grow tired of every competing voice and will eventually be turned off by the whole thing.  Which eventually will lead to a bunch of citizens who really don’t care about anything other than what’s going on in their very limited social circle.  That its going on with Hollywood socialites isn’t enough, the rest of society will eventually catch up.
Having too much information isn’t bad until one, more skilled writer, makes a better argument than one less skilled writer and an opinion takes hold and becomes gospel.  That’s what’s going on with this whole Charlie Sheen craziness.  His fans are running with the persona and making him out to be this mad scientist preaching truth and this newfound wisdom that nobody else knew about when that’s just not the case.  Here’s what I think: he’s crazy, he’s on drugs, but he’s a smart son of a bitch who understands that using the media to manipulate opinion is the only way to win this war and he’s #winning  the battle so far.
So big props there.

Heat can’t handle the…well…Heat?

@WindhorstESPN: Derrick Rose has scored or assisted on 45.2% of Bulls baskets, highest in league. LeBron is 2nd with 42.9% That sounds like an MVP stat.

That’s a week worth of games.  Three of which that came down to the wire.  Two of which Lebron had the final say in things and completely bricked and 4 losses.  Everyone’s panicking.  Everyone’s gasping.

As well they should.

Michael Wilbon said it best “they were not brought in to be the fourth best team in the East.”  No.  They were going to revolutionize basketball.  A teaming up of this nature had never been done before so there was no reference.  Sure, players had talked their way onto certain teams to form a formidable tandem but never had 3 players so thoughtfully crafted their entrance on to such a stage as the Heatles had done.  They were stars in their prime deciding that together they were going to win multiple championships.  We all were shocked as a public and yet we didn’t quite know what to say except to dismiss it and say it was terrible for the NBA.

But look at the numbers.  They have us caring again and whether they like it or not, its because we don’t want them to succeed.  I had this idea of an article right about the time that the Heat were getting spanked in San Antonio.  They wound up losing, in their most lopsided defeat all season on Friday night.  Of course the great Joe Posnanski beat me to it.  It truly has become remarkably satisfying to root not only against Lebron but against the entire Heat team.

I think if anything has changed its not that I don’t like Lebron, its that I had a hard time dealing with the fact that everyone labeled Chris Bosh a superstar as well.  I just didn’t see him in that light.  Wade and James are in that upper echelon of superstars that can win games and carry teams.  Chris Bosh had never carried a team.  He was the best player on a team but you couldn’t call him the leader of anyone.  He was a follower.  They called him the pet of the group in the introductory press conference for crying out loud.  If that isn’t side bitch status, I dont know what is.

But I’ve been more impressed with his game and his toughness than either of those two.  For some reason I’ve felt that Wade, a player that I enjoyed watching and like and who’s opinion of him hasn’t changed, has regressed.  He’s somehow gotten worse.  People said that in the beginning he and Lebron would have a tough time dealing with each other.  They would find it difficult to work with each other.  But is that truly the case?  Is that what’s going on here?

I think they have no clue.  I said this in my earlier articles about the group but I think this was poorly thought out.  I think they were friends who got drunk one night and thought it would be cool to team up.  They never thought how it would mesh.  They imagined loads and loads of championships.  They said it live.

But out of that animosity built.  Cities that had craved Lebron like fat people in front of buffet felt slighted.  They no longer welcomed him with cheers, but they enjoyed his suffering.  They heaped even more pressure on to his shoulders.  Want to be the king?  Well win a title!  They are 0-6 against the East elite (Bulls and Celtics).  They went 2-2 against the Knicks.  Remember?  They were beating the Knicks up and down the court in their first two contests, but these last two have been anything but.  They still have no answer for Dwight Howard.

This last week wasn’t just a wake up call.  It wasn’t just a reality check.  It was a glimpse into the future.  A future they never saw coming.  A future they thought wasn’t even in the realm of possibilities.  They thought this would be a whole lot easier but if anything they should have seen this coming.

Dwayne Wade in yesterday’s press conference said “the world is getting what they want.  The Miami Heat losing.”  Not only did it NOT bring any feeling of compassion for them, I found it very arrogant.  Were we supposed to feel sorry for you?  Were NBA fans supposed to just throw roses?  Was every team in the NBA supposed to cater to your every wish and desire?

The discussion has been torn on whether this is good for the NBA.  You know, stars picking where they want to go and leaving franchises that drafted them in the dust so they can hand pick their location and get what they want like Carmelo Anthony just did with the Knicks.  I dont have an answer because I dont know if it will bring financial ruin to the NBA.  Will small market team fans care if their team can’t hold on to their stars?  Are OKC fans trembling with fear over the prospect of losing Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant after his contract is over?  Should Kevin Love jerseys just stop selling since we know that he will be out the door so fast in Minnesota?  Dwight Howard has his sights set on New York (Brooklyn and MSG) or L.A..

I dont think its a bad thing these guys are doing this, because I think there is enough talent flowing through these corridors.  I think OKC is on their way to becoming the next San Antonio.  The next small market that wins multiple championships and a team that keeps its star laden nucleus.  But dont take it from me.  I’m not Nostradamus.  I dont know where this thing is headed this offseason when collective bargaining begins.

All I know is that Lebron and the Heat have made it fun for all NBA fans.  They’ve been fun to root against.  Thanks Lebron.  Thanks Wade.  Thanks Bosh.  Thanks for being jerks and giving fans a reason to care enough to hate on you.

 

Another plea for the Coupons to flee

 

The Coupon family’s resistance to their impending financial doom is getting pretty comical.  They continue to insist that everything is ok while daily evidence continues to mount suggesting otherwise.

This week, it was revealed that the Coupons had exhausted Major League Baseball’s funds and were now in dire straits with national banks who the Coupons had tapped.

The hands to take from are growing far and few between.  The one source they tapped a long time ago, the fan, now actively seeks their removal from among the hierarchy of owners and trust me when I say that the Coupons are up there among Bud Selig’s select few favored.  Its why he approved a $25 million loan for them and did NOT for Frank McCourt, the owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  If you aren’t among the core of Selig’s fellowship don’t expect to be helped.

Belieee dat.

The type of support the Coupons receive means they are well liked and people believe they are worth the benefit of doubt as it relates to the Madoff scandal and what potential harm it can do to their status as owners of a major league team.

Bud Selig knows how important it is for him that Fred Coupon remains aboard.  He’s long been on Selig’s side as it relates to many of Selig’s initiatives like a slot system for paying drafted players; a reason why many feel the Mets system is so weak.  Fred was also the person who led the charge to have his Bud get appointed Commissioner when Fay Vincent was relieved of his duties.*  Selig knows that losing one of his friends on the board would deal a major blow to anything he wants to accomplish when the next labor bargaining sessions open up.
*= hahahaha

What this week’s revelation tells us is that the Coupons refuse to go quietly and will exhaust every avenue until they are out of options.  This will likely draw out the process for several months and until after a ruling on exactly how much the Coupons will settle for in the Madoff case.  Irving Picard says he won’t settle and that he intends to get the $1 billion he is seeking but that’s all semantics and good tough talk that those involved need to hear.

Good litigators know that settling is not only the quickest way to end things but the threat of a trial and what potential harm can come from dirt being revealed.  But there really is no timetable for an amiable agreement to be put in place and thus the Mets will be in limbo until that happens.

What does this mean for the actual product?  Plenty.  Consider that the Mets will be hamstrung.  Will they have the funds that a new ownership group might bring or will they be pinching pennies as the Coupons continue to cut costs in order to keep their team.

Think about what it means for former franchise cornerstone Jose Reyes.  Reyes will be a free agent after this year.  Will the Mets risk keeping Reyes and letting him walk to a team for just draft picks?  The risk will be huge if Reyes has a big first half and teams line up to pay him.  The Red Sox are rumored to be a favorable trading partner.  I don’t think that makes any sense since top prospect Jose Iglesias will be major league ready in 2 or 3 years and Reyes won’t sign a 2 or 3 year deal with the Sox when he’s entering the prime of his career at age 28.

Sixty million will come off the books next year and the promise of Sandy Alderson to have more financial flexibility next offseason is what Met fans are tolerating but its becoming clearer what their intended purpose was.  To bring in number crunchers who could field competitive teams while operating at lower budgets.

If that’s the case, Met fans who are left sitting in seats in 2011 won’t return in 2012.  No matter what, the product on the field is what dictates everything else.  What the Coupons don’t understand is that New York sports fans care dearly.  If a team underperforms they don’t get a pat on the back and “we’ll get em next year” consolation.  They will get destroyed in the press and fans will turn on them and quick.  That kind of publicity isn’t something easily washed away.

The Coupons haven’t made this process easy.  They have consistently refused the possibility that they need help or that they are in trouble and yet behind the scenes they have asked for help from every possible outlet.  But those wells have run dry.  The one well they should have been able to go to they dried up a long time ago.

Despite all the kind words from prospective buyers of 25% of the Mets they know one thing: in order to get into this exclusive club of baseball owners they have to suck up to Fred Coupon who will hand pick his successor to the throne.  That person must think highly of Bud Selig who then will give the yay or nay to their bids.

The Coupons don’t need to wonder why they are in trouble.  They need only look at newspaper clippings.  Their reputation in league circles is now coming under fire.  Their rep with fans is pretty bad and no matter what they say there seems to always be evidence that comes out that says otherwise.  They no longer decide how this ends.  Their decisions have finally caught up to them.

No disrespect to them, but like many have been screaming: its time to get out Coupons.  Do us a favor.  Leave.  If you truly love the Mets you can’t let this team suffer while you pick up the pieces of your life.  This is clearly more doom than had first been imagined.

The next owner of the Mets should be….

Well, apparently there already is a list and the New York Post just got wind of some of the names on that list.  Apparently 30 groups gave their names and the two most prominent are one headed by a few Goldman Sachs partners which, judging by how much trouble they were in after this financial crisis, perhaps staying away from the public eye would be the best move and the other was a group led by Bobby Valentine the former beloved manager of the last World Series team the Mets fielded in 2000.

I’m bias to Bobby V who I’ve always felt got a raw deal at the end of his tenure in New York and deserved more of a shot there.  So his entry as a bidder makes me very excited.  Obviously more will come out in the following days.  I personally can’t wait.

Random Thoughts:

 

@SI_PeterKing Peter King

Good breakdown of the meaning of the extension by Mike Silver:http://yhoo.it/gULSJ1

 

 

Universally hailed as the best rundown of what Friday’s event meant for football’s labor process.  Basically they decided to delay the lockout by 10 days.  I truly believe that both sides don’t want a lockout but will do so to get what they want.  I do think they are far apart on many issues and just because the deadline was pushed for a week to ten days, it doesn’t mean that something is very close to happening.  Between rookie wage scale (I agree), 18 game schedule (I disagree) and an extra billion off the top (could care less), there must be several other issues that are causing this process to get no-where past the 5 yard line like Adam Schefter had been reporting up until Friday.  They didn’t break bread over the weekend unless leaders met privately.  Nothing is being discussed yet.

– People said I was pretty harsh on Kevin Costner.  Sorry, like I said in earlier Sheen article, I think people are confusing the truth and misinterpreted rememberings.  The internet doesn’t lie.  But people still do.  The facts are there.  Just watch the tape.

– Growing more and more into a Parks and Rec fan.  Love Rob Lowe’s character.  He’s fantastic.

– I think Mad Men is one of the best written shows on television today.  Its no Wire, but the acting, and direction of the show is fantastic.  Don Draper is the definition of cool.

– Got about an hour to blow?  Well, here’s a very interesting article I picked up on my travails through the internet that I thought people would enjoy.  Would love to hear back what people think about it.

-Viggo Mortenson as General Zod?  Very cool.

 

Later in the week, I’m going to write an article about the Knicks.  It needs to be done.  It needs to happen.  I’m going to talk Amar’e and Melo and how well they are meshing.

As always if you have ideas, on how this space can be more improved.  Let me know.

and as always……

 

@RONARTESTCOM RON ARTEST

“peanut butter”
Don’t ask me why I found that hilarious, but I did.

 

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New York and the NBA after “The Decision”

New Yorkers are incredibly resillient.  That much I’m sure of.  So recovering from the mess that was Lebron took only a few hours.  We’re a city that moves so quick that tourists complain about our rudeness.

We’re not walking fast, you’re just walking slow.

So no wonder that yesterdays press conference to announce 4 new players to the Knicks roster was met more with answers of what was to come than what wasn’t.

Allan Houston, the Knicks GM-in-training, knows about defeating the Miami Heat.  He lives on in New Yorkers hearts for his teardrop shot to shock the Heat during the 99 season. A season where an 8th seed like them beat a 1 seed like the Heat, a scenario that the Knicks could find themselves in this season.

Projected records so far have the Knicks winning between 38-42 games which would be, at best, a 12 game turnaround.  Its entirely possible that the Knicks could be the surprise team if you buy into all the doomsday theories of the Knicks going back to irrelevance now that Le-Bum spurned New York’s advances.  If we had anything over the past two years, it was hope that Lebron was on his way like a knight in shining armor to save the day.

But that prince turned into a frog instead.  He became Hollywood Hogan and went AWOL on the good guy list.  Now he’s the villain universally.

My question is..was that…a good thing?  Hear me out Knick fans.  Maybe I’m just sipping from the kool aid a bit too much but I’m thinking pretty clear, I promise.

My points are all purely circumstantial so I have nothing to stand behind but a hunch.  What if Chris Paul’s reported announcement of his own big 3 wasn’t all talk?

If you haven’t read the newest rumor to drive Knick fans crazy, here it is.  Marc Berman, the Knicks beatwriter for the New York Post, said that in a speech during friend Carmello Anthony’s wedding, which James was also in attendance for, said he, Melo, and Amare would form their own Big 3 in New York to challenge the one in South Beach.

How much truth lies in that statement remains in question.  Remember Knick fans, Lebron started flirting with coming to New York two years ago too.  So let’s hold our horses and not get set up again.

Ok, so let’s start imagining a scenario I’ve been thinking about since this newstory leaked.  What if this Big 3 forming in Miami sparked an idea in the minds of all free agents to be that the only way to assure yourself of greatness is to be teamed with a really good squad and form your own super team?  What if guys like Chris Paul and Deron Williams (both free agents in 2012) want a championship badly enough that they would let statistics be damned and join forces to make it happen?

It makes sense now that the discussion on the superstars are changing.  If stars no longer care about competing against each other then expect more super teams to come together.

So now the only relevant topic left is to scout potential landing spots for that kind of star power and all signs point to New York being the last glamour spot left in the NBA for stars to really shine on a huge stage.  The Knicks and Nets can basically play up the image part of being a champion in New York now that its become clear what this generations stars are after.  Its not about individual glory.

Which brings us to David Stern’s comments regarding Lebron’s exit strategy.  He said his decision making was poor and he wished he had informed Dan Gilbert, the crazy owner of the Cavs, sooner than he had about him leaving as opposed to a nationally televised audience.  The interesting part is how Stern views this shift.  Its bigger than you think.

Stern’s marketing made his stars huge.  In the early 80’s basketballs ratings were so poor that the Finals were shown on tape delay on CBS.  Magic and Bird brought the NBA back with their rivalry and MJ took it to a whole other level.  Basketballs popularity skyrocketed with MJ’s emergence.  The marketing job they did on Jordan and helping take his accomplishments and multiply its importance was and remains why we view Jordan the way we do.  Stern always had a star to build around.  Like the sun to the rest of the planets orbiting around it.

Its why when Jordan left, the discussion was where the NBA would find its next Jordan.  How could you follow that act up?  It took years and years before fans were able to accept that there was no next Jordan.  Remember Harold Miner? T-Mac? Vince Carter?*  All good players but never nearly as great as we as fans thought they’d be.
*= I especially hate Vince Carter because I was almost positive he was the next best thing.  He came from Jordan’s alma mater, North Carolina, and he had all the easy athleticism that made Jordan so enjoyable to watch even though he was beating my franchise down.  But his injuries never seemed genuine and he quit on the franchise that invested in him.  I just had very little respect for a man who I felt was wasting his talent and not using it which is why I suppose this Lebron “Decision” irks me too.

If championships are the only category to worship then Russell is the champ.  If its scoring ability its Kareem.  But because of his flair and the commercials and the aura he built with the marketing dollars, we all ceded that it was Jordan.  I believe Jordan was the greatest because you just knew when you were watching him that you were going to be treated.  A singular talent like him shined brightest on the bright stage as if he did it without a supporting cast, as if there was no Pippen.

Need a more contemporary example?  Everyone that watched the Finals know that Gasol outplayed Kobe in game 7, but Kobe, with a 6/24 shooting performance won the series MVP.  Why?  Because Kobe is the biggest star.  Kobe basically had to show up in order to win the MVP.

The NBA is a star’s business and Stern was a master in pushing his sports top athletes.  He understood that and he made it profitable.  So when he sees Lebron make a business decision personal to join friends in search of championships, he’s seeing his biggest meal ticket ruin what could be millions more in branding and other things.

Now Stern has to sell the team to fans as opposed to two separate entities.  He can’t just market Lebron by himself.  He has to market him with Wade.  Wade and Lebron are close enough to assume sporting headlines in matchups against each other.  Remember the NBA on NBC ads? “Jordan and the Bulls vs Ewing and the Knicks.” Who but the Lakers can match in star power?

Stern’s anguish was evident during the press conference.  He looked like he went to happy hour a few hours prior to the presser.  He looked tired and stressed like he’d been on multiple conference calls to sort out the mess that he knew he was in.  Imagine having crafted your business one way and now having to change it even slightly not because of your customer base but because of your employees.

Stern doesn’t have his heir apparent to Kobe.  It could be Wade but he had Lebron fitted for that crown.  Now its up in the air and Stern has to wonder what it means for the future of his stumbling league if stars are leaving smaller market teams to join together and form super teams then Stern will have an even bigger problem.

Guys talking about joining together publically?  The biggest star in the game coming out of this with more trash flying at him than Hulk Hogan when he made the heel turnV  Stern now has a PR and business problem at hand.

But Stern’s loss may end up being New York’s gain.  What if the summer of 2010 ended up shifting the thinking among young stars.  If a guy like Lebron cedes he can’t lead a team by himself then everyone may begin feeling the same and by the time your done in a few years you have 5 or 6 really really good teams and a bunch of bad ones.  Its natural to assume that the NBA will be in trouble and Stern should be worried about how this summer has gone but you think Miami Heat fans are worried about the state of the NBA?  Well if it benefits New York then neither should we.  New York is resillient, we will get through the hate.

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Lebron’s decision: the day after.

The one thing that I knew going into last night’s announcement was this: no matter what happened, Lebron James was now going to be universally disliked.  The last few months were unlike the NBA has ever seen or ever will see.  His “Decision” special was filled with as much drama as a Yankees/Twins series.  The outcome had been there for days and this growing sentiment that the three men had arranged this together seemed fitting.  But still, it was something that came off as unsettling and almost pitiful even as a fan of one of the hopeful teams.

As a Knicks fan after much sulking, I looked at it from a rational standpoint and I understand why he did it.  Lebron did it to win championships and nothing else.  At the end of the day that’s what this game is about and for the winners go the spoils and for losers go nothing.  There’s no such thing as second place.  Lebron understood that better than anyone.  As a man expected to carry his team to the championship these last two years it was a colossal disappointment that he never accomplished that goal for his home state.  Despite all the rumblings the fact was this, Lebron wanted the championships and naturally one would expect the glory that comes with it.

I get it.  I even get the need to have two very talented men to support you and help shoulder the burden of bringing a title to the resume.  Even as he’s teaming up to become part of this (un) holy triumvirate, make no mistake this is all about Lebron which explains why he didn’t go the simple route and join Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade at the podium for their announcements (which of course makes the cry of ego maniac ring truer but we’ll get to that.).  I get why he would want to play with his friends and build a dynasty with them.  I get all of that.  In fact, me and my buddies from high school always joke about each getting a place on the same block and growing old together.

Even then you didn’t expect it.  Even then you held out hope that perhaps this whole Lebron to the Heat was just smoke screen for either his eventual return to Cleveland or escape to Chicago or New York which both wouldn’t be as universally destroyed like this move is.  Don’t get me wrong, leaving the Cavs makes him look like a jerk.  Leaving the Cavs for South Beach makes him look like a doubting-his-own-talent jerk.

I don’t buy that this is bad for the NBA.  In fact, all this Lebron speculation cost ESPN a lot of its credibility and almost destroyed Twitter.  It was THE TALK of the internet and everyone and I mean even the President had an opinion on the matter.  This is fantastic for the NBA in a time in which ticket sales are down and the league is losing money in the hundreds of millions.  All this hype over the super team will draw huge ratings.  Quick prediction about how many Heat games will be shown on national television?

I don’t even buy the talk that this immediately vaults them to the top of the pack in the NBA.  The Lakers still have Kobe, Artest, Gasol, and Odom and a very good supporting cast which the Heat will have to address in the coming days.

But there are some negatives here in the immediate future that must be discussed, and other points but before I do that I just want to throw one last conspiracy theory because these Lebron rumors have been so fun:  David Stern facing sagging sales and a tough economic future, send an email to every big name free agent over the next two seasons to begin forming super teams.  The NBA will push through outlandish trades and create 6 or 7 elite teams filled with two or three top 20 players in the league and approve an unbalanced schedule where these teams will meet once a week on TNT and ESPN.  Don’t put anything past Stern.

First negative: Immediate fall out in Cleveland was bad.  So bad that all you saw were Lebron jerseys being burned, young white women crying, and empty bars perhaps symbolizing Cleveland’s economy now that Lebron isn’t there.  But the icing on the cake was a half drunk/half crazed letter by super fan/owner Dan Gilbert destroying Lebron’s reputation and basically saying everything that any Cleveland fan would.  In all of this, Cleveland is the biggest victim, but are they?  If the fix was in from jump street and Lebron, Wade and Bosh had planned this all along, then yes Cleveland is victim.  But if not, if this were an actual decision and Lebron heard out every camp’s proposal how could New York be bashed for its proposal and not Cleveland?  Everyone’s biggest complaint about New York’s presentation was that it was all about New York and very little about the roster and about the players it would surround him with.  Well, Cleveland had a 60 win team with no cap flexibility to add pieces unless it had a sign and trade set with a player but Chris Bosh, the player that many had earmarked as Lebron’s pick to roll with him, refused to play in Cleveland (I don’t blame him).  Other than that, Cleveland did nothing else to show Lebron that they were serious suitors other than to play on his emotions of staying at home.  While the Cleveland roster was better than the Knick roster, in time we’ll see how much Lebron elevated that roster to a 60 win team.  Lebron on last year’s Knicks could’ve made them at least a 50 something win team in the East if they were capable of winning 29 on their own.  The point is that Cleveland made nothing more than a half hearted attempt at keeping their star player on their roster.

Which brings us to the Heat’s first game at Cleveland which should bring more than just fireworks.  I legitimately am worried for Lebron’s life.  What he did by screwing them over and doing it on national television was embarrass a town that didn’t need another reminder of how sports-cursed they are.  He gave them 7 years of his heart and yet in the end, all anyone will remember is Dan Gilbert’s assertion that he quit on the team in his final 4 games and took the cowardly way out.  That will lead to bitter resentment.  I was listening to talk radio this morning and they were trying to find a perfect comparison of how he would be greeted by fans in Cleveland and the best they came up with was Vince Carter who’s every shot for years was met with resounding boos.  This was for years and he’s not even from Toronto.  Lebron’s exit is a little more personal and he’s already eclipsed Art Modell as the most vile sports figure in the Cleveland area.  That’s no easy task but Lebron found a way to do it.  Also, the poetry in the fact that every cruel Cleveland loss is just one word: the Fumble, the Drive, the Shot and now, the Decision.    Lebron couldn’t have been that cruel could he?

Second Negative: It sets precedents on several levels.  What does it tell small market teams like Cleveland that they can’t even keep one of their home grown stars?  Sure, on the same day Kevin Durant resigned with the Thunder quietly via Twitter, but he’s a shy kid who’s on a pretty loaded roster.  There will be more guys that go the Lebron route and leave for flashier pastures and it sets a precedent on another note as well.  Lebron’s one of the biggest basketball stars on the planet and his decision became a nationally televised event.  What will the next super talent do to upstage the self titled King?  How will technology affect this change and how much has unbridled access destroyed the mystique of star players?  Imagine we hadn’t been put through this charade?  If Lebron knew where he was going all along it seems rather selfish and egotistical to do something like this and stretch this out for his own sense of self worth doesn’t it?  What was he promised?  How hard was he laughing inside while Mikhail Prokhorov made his business pitch?  What does Jay-Z think of him now that he made his choice to join D-Wade and Bosh?  I’m sure he won’t be thrilled if he finds out that he had made up his mind a long time ago.  Point is, our society seeks answers and requires access at all times and doesn’t seem to have a sense of boundary to them.  If Princess Di’s death marked the explosion of the term paparazzi, then what will Lebronapalooza be the start of?  Technically Lebron gave us what we now crave.  Everything.  We want to be the fly on the wall.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a documentary detailing everything will be released with extra footage of them discussing this plan months in advance giving us the answer we pretty much know.  They planned this and they strung us along for the ride.  Whatever new era in media we are entering its uncharted waters and Lebron is making history.

Third negative and I can’t come to call this a negative, because its more selfish on my part.  The biggest question mark coming into this whole thing was motivation:  What was Lebron really after?  Was he out to be the greatest of all time?  Was he out to be the home town kid makes good storyline play out?  Was he out to be the kid from the sticks makes it big in the Big City?  Was it legacy?  Was it about pride?  What was it?  Selfishly all the hype about Lebron had made us come to expect something uniquely incredible.  We were all convinced that he would do something that had never been done before on an NBA court before all was said and done and that may still be the case but its a very long shot now.  By taking his services to South Beach he’s joining Wade’s team.  He’s now fully inserted himself into shot gun mode and decided to lower his game and his possible stature as the game’s greatest to help Wade become a multiple time champion.  Sure Lebron stands to gain but not as much as previously thought.  Forget his brand and what it will do to it financially by becoming just another piece.  His legacy is lessened by joining forces.

I’m sure Lebron will tell you a good story about sacrificing for the greater good of championships and all that and frankly I’ll believe him.  At the end of the day he couldn’t deal with the weight and burden of being THE MAN at one spot.  He couldn’t imagine failing in New York or Cleveland or Chicago because in those three places he would’ve certainly been the undisputed number one.  He goes to one of three places where he’s the undisputed number two.  It was a tough choice and one made with the understanding that he will be seen as a lesser player but with the knowledge that that sacrifice will be forgotten in the stream of championships this Heat team will compete for.

We all want to compare players to Jordan and I’ve never thought that it was a fair comparison but I get why people do it.  We all need a reference point, something to judge another person by and the only way to do that is by comparing that person to one of equal talent.  The fact that Lebron was continuously compared to Jordan without any rings tells you what people see in his potential but now, in my opinion, he has to go above and beyond to jump back into the conversation.  Say what you will about Jordan and how he played in a different era, but even if Jordan, Bird, or Magic were in the place of Lebron they would’ve never joined forces.  They had too much hubris and pride to do that.  They all wanted the recognition and worked hard to get it and they could never handle being upstaged by their own teammates.  Jordan would’ve went to a place that he could own or stayed in Cleveland to finish the job.  They had a certain pride that kept them from walking away.  You knew those guys would eventually get rings because that’s all they wanted.  But talk of being a billionaire clouded Lebron’s head and clearly his mind.  He was busier setting up his post-basketball life than focusing on the task at hand.

I guess its selfish on our part to see a person not see his potential reached.  I would’ve rooted for Lebron had he stayed in Cleveland.  I would’ve understood had he went to Chicago and I would’ve been positively thrilled had he come to New York.  But Miami still makes no sense to me from one stand point: Why not do it unless you wanted no parts of the responsibility?  If we had billed you as our best player how come you weren’t ready to accept that responsibility?  I guess that’s the main word: responsibility.  Is it his responsibility to us as fans or to himself that he should pay attention to?  We were told that we were witnesses, but what are we witness to now?

Just like last night, he’s taking much of the mystery of the next few seasons out of it.  Its almost expected that the Heat will win the title for the next few seasons.  They will be the biggest attraction the NBA has ever seen since they broadcast the original Dream Team’s games back in 1992.  Nobody can deny the talent level oozing from this team but one can imagine the blame that will fall on the Heat if they dont fullfill the prophecy.

Maybe Lebron walked into an even greater challenge than he left.  I mean, to lift Cleveland to a championship filled city was tough enough but to do so on a team where everyone will watch with a microscope and wait for failure could be even more trying.  Maybe the thrill of being the team with the big target on their back, a traveling team of all-stars will motivate them to show up on every single night.  The need for fans to be treated to a show will make them work harder to give them one.

But let’s step back and take a breath for what last night was: a self centered 25 year old embarking on the next chapter in his not so secretive life.  A guy who couldn’t handle the big city lights of New York, or walking in the shadow of MJ, or lifting his home town team to championship glory, but rather chose a path less traveled with two of his close friends.  I’m not saying that he made the wrong decision, that answer will reveal itself with time.  I’m saying that his decision could’ve been handled better by a kid we all thought knew how to handle it.  But maybe we don’t know a thing.  Maybe Lebron will win and we’ll eventually forget and Cleveland will get another superstar to bring them that elusive championship that city seeks.

But one thing will always bug me:: how on earth did Chris Bosh’s insignificant ass convince both Lebron and D-Wade that he was the key in all of this?

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DECISIONS DECISIONS.

Last night while sitting in my room trying (stop laughing) I had, and I kid you not, 10 websites open with pages linking me to different Lebron rumors.  By the way, these were all credible sources telling credible reporters that it was confirmed that Lebron would go here and there.  I decided I’d had enough and closed all the links at once and decided, screw this, Lebron James will NOT ruin my life.

Of course that didn’t happen.  I sat there unhappily and found myself at ESPN.com and theknicksblog.com again.  Like a slave to the situation.  But I came to a few conclusions while thinking about this and Knicks fans you might want to listen to this before you decide to hang yourself after watching the sixth edition of Sportscenter where Chris Broussard definitively says that the Knicks have little to NO chance of coming to New York.*  It has to do not with Lebron, but Dwayne Wade.

*= Two thoughts on this.  1. What does he have against us? and 2. The report is NOT going to change, Sportscenter is the same for the next six hours!  Even the live edition has about two seconds of actual new footage to share but we aren’t changing Chris Broussard’s mind.

Let me explain.  Scanning the list of free agents this summer I noticed one interesting stat: Dwayne Wade is the universal number two guy in this free agent wish list for teams and yet he’s the only guy with bling.  The only guy who was the unequivocal leader on a team that won a title.  He’s the franchise guy every team is looking for.  I mean that would be the requirements right?  Which is why the Heat is smart by focusing all their energy on resigning Wade on so many fronts including the reason I just mentioned.

Yet Lebron hasn’t won any team hardware but he’s being treated like a certified title bearer to whatever team brings him into their fold.  So it got me to thinking about this big summit that happened in Miami according to “reputable sources.”  If Wade, Lebron and Bosh were having this summit, don’t you think as friends that they’ve had it already?  That if they are texting, calling and hanging out all the time that since they all signed those 3 year contracts and left an extra 20 million on the table in 2006 to set up this hostage situation that they’ve discussed what they are going to do already?  So I don’t believe that just because they were in Miami talking that means they were talking about a super team in South Beach.

In fact let me go further in saying that Lebron needs Wade more than Wade needs Lebron.  If anything the three best friends, were perhaps discussing options on what each individually would do.  Bosh is the odd man out in this equation in my opinion.  I think it would be foolish to think any of these guys leave that kind of money on the table again by trying to form a super team.  These three have their sights set on bigger individual goals off the court and that can’t happen with all three trying to get the ball and stats on one team.  Just can’t.  Two stars and a team full of excellent role players I can understand, but not three star players in the prime of their career with the chance of signing one more max contract before all is said and done.  No.  I don’t think its selfish, its the right business decision on all their parts to think that right now, they need to do what’s best for their family.

Lebron and Wade can never team up unless its in a completely muted situation like the Olympics where it would be to each other’s benefit to look like the facilitator instead of the ball hog.  Lebron and Wade were probably sharing notes on who’s going where and how next year’s eastern conference will be markedly different than before.  Instead of creating one super team we’re going to be looking at multiple teams with 2 or 3 superstars in the prime of their careers creating an exciting race that could be the best in years.  Again, its not about being selfish.  I think Wade AND Lebron care about their legacies and while it would be nice for them to team up and give fans of South Beach something to care for more than their tans, it will ultimately come down to their innate competitiveness.  Lebron and Wade are friends but they are guys who I imagine sharing stats with each other after games.

Wade: Hey Lebron, in Houston.  Dropped 35, 11 and 8.  Beat that.

Lebron: I did that last week, I’m in Portland, 25, 15 and 11.  Done.

I think that’s how their friendship works.  They aren’t involved in their work affairs on a daily basis so this dream sequence of all three coming together, while appealing, is a figment of a pretty sad desperate for attention sports writer’s imagination.

As for Chicago’s more appealing pitch, I must say I was a bit upset by that but again, the dominating shadow that Michael Jordan casts over that city and that organization can make any super star uneasy.  Not just legacy wise.  But Wade’s comments rung very loudly for a guy who expects loyalty from his organization.  Jerry Reinsdorf doesn’t have cozy relationships with Michael Jordan or Scottie Pippen, the two greatest players in their organization and his penchant for being cheap means that while giving two max contracts may seem likely because of cap space, that conversation changes in two years when Derrick Rose comes looking for a max contract.  Imagine Lebron doesn’t win a title with that team and the Bulls don’t resign Rose because he wants a max contract and Jerry refuses to pay, and remember this is the same guy that broke up the greatest team assembled due to finances so there’s precedence, Lebron would never forgive him for that.

No, Chicago, look for Amare and Joe Johnson, though Johnson will more likely be offered the max by his former club than Amare so Amare and maybe Rudy Gay.

So it leaves Cleveland and New York.  Here’s the toss up.  I think loyalty is hugely important for Lebron and if so, Cleveland’ s the choice but the consensus opinion is that he’ll sign a 3 year deal giving him options to leave if he doesn’t see enough improvement on the roster front while giving his conscience peace of mind that he gave his home town team every opportunity to surround him with elite talent because as we learned this past season, no team can win with just one super star.  Not even Kobe Bryant can do it alone.  Lebron needs his Pippen.

Now if he signs a 3 year deal that means New Jersey joins the list with Lebron’s good friend Jay Z set to offer the promise of playing in Brooklyn to Lebron and being the king of New York from Jay’s home state with an owner that could out spend and out do everyone.  THEN, the Knicks would be in trouble or would they?  Now say they strike out on Lebron.  They could sign Amare.  Sign Mike Miller to a three year contract and then go after Carmello and Chris Paul next year.  Now imagine a team with Amare, Melo, and good friend Chris Paul in New York.  I dont care what you think, that would be much more appealing than say a Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and Brook Lopez combo.  Also remember, this was a 9 win team.  No matter how bad the Knicks were, they won 20 more games than the Nets.

That would be the back up plan for the Knicks.  Even if they strike out again with Lebron after the three year deal with the Cavs, the Knicks have a roster in place to compete.  But the hope is that they don’t have to wait.  If Lebron truly wants a change, there’s only one way to go here.  Its New York.  A fresh start.  The biggest market all to himself.  Which is why his decision time table of July 5th benefits New York and Cleveland.  If its purely an emotional decision, no doubt its Cleveland.  If its based on legacy and riches and all that, not even Mikhail’s promise of ruling a Russian province can convince him that he can’t do that from the world’s most famous arena.  Its there.

In the end, I think its New York.  Its always been New York.  That’s been the apple of his eye.  He’s never strayed and that this juncture he shouldn’t.  If he wants to be a billionaire, he should set up camp, office and everything in New York.  But even if he doesnt, Knick fans there are options.  But for Lebron there are no other options.  If you want to be bigger than Mike then you HAVE to step up and come to  New York.

Its past 12:01 Lebron, what’ll it be?

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