Tag: Lebron James

What_if

Wait, What If?

The first ever annual Wait, What If? article. We spend an inordinate amount of time sitting and pondering these little sliding doors type moments and trying to predict what could be.

This article could go on for days if I was allowed to do this about any topic within the history of the NBA, but seeing as though I’d prefer not to bore everyone to death I’m sticking with events from this season. (more…)



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When is it time for the Cavs to panic?

The Cleveland Cavaliers currently sit in fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, nursing a 19-14 record for a winning percentage of 0.576. Though those numbers hardly suggest the need for an all-out anxiety attack, there were high expectations for the Cavs this season, and they simply don’t appear close to matching them at present.

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Believe it or Not: NBA Season 2014/15 Predictions

This is one of my favourite times of the year. The NBA season is here. You’ve drafted players into your own world beating fantasy squad. Players have been chopped, changed and drafted all over the league. And it is also the perfect time to make predictions about the NBA season. My personal belief is that if your predictions are said loudly, told to many people and said with a great deal of overconfidence that they just might come true. Here are my Top 5. Believe it or Not.

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All You Need Is Love

Kevin Love will opt out of his current deal and head to Cleveland, in a deal said to be agreed upon by the Cavaliers and the Timberwolves early this morning.

According to multiple sources, the 25 year old Wolves All Star is finally getting his wish, and will be traded to the already stacked Cleveland Cavaliers after the August 23 rookie contract deadline. The block buster trade will see Love head to Northeast Ohio while 2014 number one pick Andrew Wiggins and 2013 number on pick Anthony Bennett will take their talents to Minnesota, along with a protected future first round pick.

LeBron James, who had preached patience and leadership with his young Cavs team just last month, is evidently far removed from his initial outlook, and very much dedicated to the Cavs competing for a title this coming season. In a report earlier this week, we learned that James had instigated no contact with his young rookies, including Andrew Wiggins, and was fully invested in the pursuit of Kevin Love.

Patience and leadership be damned. 

Kevin Love has spent much of his career trying to lead an underwhelming Wolves team into the playoffs, but despite his best efforts, has never been able to drag them into the post season. His inclusion alongside James, point guard Kyrie Irving, shooting guard Dion Waiters and center Anderson Varejao will most certainly turn heads next season, with the Cavs the far and away favorites to take out the East in 2015.

But while this is a super team in every aspect of the phrase, there are many questions to be answered. Love and Irving have both succumbed to injury clouds throughout their careers, while defense isn’t a strong point either. Will these factors become an issue for the Cavs? Coupled with serious depth issues at multiple spots, and the inevitable question of chemistry, there is every chance this team won’t produce to the extent many expect. 

LeBron James is again sitting atop the pile in terms of favoritism, and the Cavs have completed an NBA summer heist of mammoth proportions, but one does begin to question the validity of his true metal. We really have never seen LeBron stick it out through the hard times, and drag a team out of mediocrity to the top before. I for one, would have loved to see that from him in Miami – Or to a further extent, Cleveland in 2010. But here we are.

Regardless of what happens in Cleveland, there will be excitement in Minnesota, with the acquisition of Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine undoubtedly providing their long-suffering fans with something to cheer about. Wiggins is an out and out talent, with a ceiling unparalleled by any draft prospect in recent memory and while the Wolves may have a long road ahead of them, they’ve at least gained something special from the loss of Kevin Love. 

Will the Cavs come to rue the day they traded Andrew Wiggins? Impossible to say, but for now, they’re in the box seat and LeBron James is once again the cream of Cleveland’s crop. 



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“I’m Coming Home” – LeBron James

In a stunning move that will forever change the face of the Nation Basketball Association, LeBron James has announced via his social media, and an article co-written by Lee Jenkins on SI.com, that he returning home to Cleveland to play for the Cavaliers. The article is below:

Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can. My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.

Remember when I was sitting up there at the Boys & Girls Club in 2010? I was thinking, This is really tough. I could feel it. I was leaving something I had spent a long time creating. If I had to do it all over again, I’d obviously do things differently, but I’d still have left. Miami, for me, has been almost like college for other kids. These past four years helped raise me into who I am. I became a better player and a better man. I learned from a franchise that had been where I wanted to go. I will always think of Miami as my second home. Without the experiences I had there, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today.

I went to Miami because of D-Wade and CB. We made sacrifices to keep UD. I loved becoming a big bro to Rio. I believed we could do something magical if we came together. And that’s exactly what we did! The hardest thing to leave is what I built with those guys. I’ve talked to some of them and will talk to others. Nothing will ever change what we accomplished. We are brothers for life.  I also want to thank Micky Arison and Pat Riley for giving me an amazing four years.

I’m doing this essay because I want an opportunity to explain myself uninterrupted. I don’t want anyone thinking: He and Erik Spoelstra didn’t get along. … He and Riles didn’t get along. … The Heat couldn’t put the right team together. That’s absolutely not true.

I’m not having a press conference or a party. After this, it’s time to get to work.

When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.

I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when. After the season, free agency wasn’t even a thought. But I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown. I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.

To make the move I needed the support of my wife and my mom, who can be very tough. The letter from Dan Gilbert, the booing of the Cleveland fans, the jerseys being burned — seeing all that was hard for them. My emotions were more mixed. It was easy to say, “OK, I don’t want to deal with these people ever again.” But then you think about the other side. What if I were a kid who looked up to an athlete, and that athlete made me want to do better in my own life, and then he left? How would I react? I’ve met with Dan, face-to-face, man-to-man. We’ve talked it out. Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge? 

I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. We’re not ready right now. No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I’m realistic. It will be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010. My patience will get tested. I know that. I’m going into a situation with a young team and a new coach. I will be the old head. But I get a thrill out of bringing a group together and helping them reach a place they didn’t know they could go. I see myself as a mentor now and I’m excited to lead some of these talented young guys. I think I can help Kyrie Irving become one of the best point guards in our league. I think I can help elevate Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters. And I can’t wait to reunite with Anderson Varejao, one of my favorite teammates.

But this is not about the roster or the organization. I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.

In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.

I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.



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LeBron James Still Unsure of Free Agency Decision

[Update 2.50pm 07/07/2014] Multiple sources confirm that the Cavaliers have made a significant push for LeBron James, by trying to free up enough cap space to offer him a max contract. Dan Gilbert has reportedly flown to South Florida with his entourage for a brief meeting with LeBron’s agent, who informed Gilbert they are impressed with the outlook for the team and like what they’ve done with the roster. Further reports indicate LeBron will meet with Heat president Pat Riley later this week, but not much more is known beyond this.

[Update 1:30PM 04/07/2014] ESPN LA’s Ramona Shelburne reports the LA Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is flying to Cleveland to meet with LeBron James’ agent Paul Rich

While Carmelo Anthony continues to entertain teams yearning for his signature, LeBron James’ camp has remained relatively tight lipped about the prospect of where the world’s best player will end up at the start of next season.

James, who has stressed that he is willing to provide the Miami Heat with enough time to construct a competitive roster, has now reportedly decided to look elsewhere, and listen to offers from rival teams. After opting out of his deal with the Heat, along with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, it now appears as though the King may be looking to take his talents away from South Beach.

While reports are still patchy, it has been said that LeBron’s agent Paul Rich has been given the green light to speak with teams and while those teams aren’t necessarily a sure thing, there are good cases for the few lucky enough to get a meeting.

The Rockets, Mavericks, Suns and Cavaliers have all had the opportunity to speak with Rich, while James enjoys his summer vacation in South America. At present, these are the only teams that have been granted an opportunity, indicating that LeBron may have already compiled a list of possible destinations.

No other NBA teams have scheduled meetings with Rich, although ESPN have reported that there is significant interest.

Pat Riley and the Heat remain confident that they can assemble a roster worthy of James’ attention, and are currently in Los Angeles, meeting with Lakers FA Pau Gasol, amongst others. It is not yet clear exactly what will result for the other two thirds of the big three, with both Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh yet to accept (receive?) offers.

Their goal remains re-signing LeBron James.

 



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LeBron Opts Out; Will Test Free Agency

In news this morning, superstar LeBron James informed Miami Heat management that he will exercise his early termination option, and opt out of his final year with the team.

In a move said to be “fully expected” by the Heat, James will elect to test the free agency market this offseason, while also increasing pressure on Pat Riley to bolster the roster which looked tired and fragile during this month’s NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. James was due $20 million from the Heat in his final year, and had until June 30th to advise the team of his decision.

This move by LeBron not only allows him to listen to offers from rival teams who will be scrambling to clear the cap space to sign him, but also gives Miami the opportunity to improve their roster to a point where LeBron will be comfortable knowing they remain legitimate contenders next season. The contracts of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh also remain a concern for Miami, with both players needing to take a considerable cuts if the Heat are to expand their roster.

Along with Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James will be hot property for many teams during free agency, but the front runners to land him at present are said to be the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers. Of course, the most likely scenario is for LeBron to sign for less money, remain in Miami, and with a revitalized list of players, attempt to reach the Heat’s 5th Finals in as many seasons.

Heat President Pat Riley, remains confident about LeBron choosing to stay in Miami, and had this to say earlier:

“We fully expected LeBron to opt-out and exercise his free agent rights, so this does not come as a surprise. We look forward to sitting down with LeBron and his representatives and talking about our future together.”

So, one day after Carmelo Anthony opted out of his deal with the Knicks, so to has LeBron James with the Heat, and while neither player has indicated a direct desire to leave their current teams, this does make things a lot more interesting.

 



Patty Mills For PM

Politics and basketball. You wouldn’t think they go together, right?… Wrong! Both the major parties in Australia are struggling for support and I see only one solution to this. Bring in a new major party. The Spurs Party and have Patty Mills as Australia’s new Prime Minister.

Prime Minister

This is a no brainer. The popularity of Patty Mills is through the roof in Australia at the moment. He has given people with no interest in basketball a reason to watch and connect with the game. Patty has done his time on the bench and is ready to move up to the big time. Last season Patty was a glorified mascot. Waving towels and getting trash minutes at the ends of games to show what he could do. This season was a different story all together. Patty showed himself to be one of the better back up point guards in the league. A spark that Miami had no answer for in the NBA Finals. Patty was the dagger in the heart of the Heat fans and players alike in the third quarter of Game 5. The game was still a contest until Mills came out a splashed 3’s from everywhere and brought the crowd into the game with his energetic defense. This shows a new level of maturity for Mills. He made all the right decisions and is ready to become Australia’s Prime Minister.

Deputy Prime Minister

Technically Aron Baynes was born in New Zealand but Aussies love to claim a kiwi. Baynes now joins the likes of Phar Lap, Russell Crowe, Crowded House, Keith Urban and the somewhat contentious Weet-Bix as items and people that Australia have lovingly claimed as their own. Granted Baynes did not get a great deal of court time which means he will have plenty of time to help out his Prime Minister at anytime and we’ve seen that Baynes is also capable of stepping into a starting role for the Spurs and he did not look out of place.

Minister for Foreign Affairs

Logically this role has to go to Tony Parker. For starters he is French and it is difficult to say no to anyone with a french accent. Being on the Spurs lineup it is also obvious that Parker gets along well with people from other countries. The Spurs have the most nationalities represented in the NBA with  their roster registering 10 internationals at the beginning of the 2013-2014 season. Parker has also shown that he wants to be friendly with everyone. Parker proved this in his short lived marriage to Eva Longoria. Lovely lady and watching Desperate Housewives is worth it just for her but this wasn’t enough for Tony. He wanted more Foreign Affairs experience (see what I did there?) This is a great trait for Australia and will see Australia making many new international allies.

Treasurer

Kawhi Leonard. This kid (22 years old!) proved his worth in the NBA Finals, scoring points at will with aggressive moves to the hoop and deft jump shots but he also played outstanding defense against one of the best in the league, Lebron James. Kawhi has earnt his spot as Treasurer in the Spurs Party because he started at the bottom and wasn’t expected to rise so quickly so Kawhi understands the value of money but his endorsements and contracts are only going to grow bigger from here. This experience with discussing contracts with multi-billion dollar companies and understanding how to best spread the wealth will make Kawhi the perfect Treasurer.

Minister for Education

Coach Pop. All you need to do is look at what he has done for the Spurs to see this man knows how to educate others. Pop is arguably the most respected coach in the game and all players thrive under Pop’s coaching theories and ideals. On draft night Pop always manages to spring a few surprises. He was one of the first to see the value in drafting international ballers. Players who had already stood out in a team orientated style of play and players he knew would understand and respect a team game. Look at the expansion and growth of the team under Pop. Manu wasn’t always a superstar. He grew into the role and learnt from the best coach in the game. Parker is the same. If you need some more recent evidence just look at the growth of Belinelli and Patty Mills this season. Pop is the only choice for Minister of Education.

Minister for Communications

The leader of the Spurs. Tim Duncan. He doesn’t often say much but when he does people listen. Timmy knows when communication is needed and when it should be stopped. Remember back to Timmy dragging a talkative Tony Parker away from the officials to stop a certain tech foul. Tony did not complain. Tony, along with the Spurs lineup, know that when Timmy Duncan talks, you listen. Opposition players know that Timmy is the man to talk to when playing the Spurs. He has the respect of every baller in the NBA and was Lebron’s first point of call when it came welcoming the Spurs to the Finals.

Minister for Health and Sport

Will Sevening, the coaches and staff at the San Antonio Spurs. But mostly Will. Will is the Head Trainer at the Spurs. The Spurs aren’t exactly the youngest team in the league. They have an average age of somewhere around 30. Three of their main players; Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobilli are 37, 31 and 36 respectfully. Will has to put these “veterans” through their paces on a daily basis but also has to ensure Duncan and co. are at their physical peaks, remain uninjured and have the required rest breaks to thrive. It’s a fine line to walk but Will has done it with ease and thus gets the gig as Minister for Health and Sport.

Minister for Defence

Danny Green may not be the guy you think of when it comes to defence but look at the job he did throughout the NBA Finals. Scoring important steals. Swaying the momentum of the game to the favour of the Spurs and shutting down the potent offensive force that is Dwayne Wade. Green still has plenty of improving to do but he has shown the potential to be a star in the future. Not only did he shut down Wade and take countless steals, he is also a menace when shooting the long bomb, a pre-requisite when it comes to being a Minister for Defence.

Minister for Arts

Marco Belinelli. Coach Pop has never been a fan of the three-point shot, openly stating he doesn’t like the role the shot has in the game. This season though things changed. Coach Pop started running plays for long range bombs. Embraced the shot and made it a huge part of the Spurs Championship winning attack. With shooters like Patty Mills, Danny Green, Manu Ginobilli and Marco Belinelli, Pop had little choice but to use the three ball. Belinelli’s shot is like a work of art. He has the balance, poise and a sense of occasion when pocketing the long ball. Not only is his shot a masterpiece but Belinelli is also Italian and everything sounds arty and awesome in Italian. Pizza. Spaghetti. Gelato. Point proven.

Minister for Agriculture

Honestly I found it hard to choose a Minister for Agriculture on the Spurs but Matt Bonner does look like the ultimate country boy. The ginger hair, beard, freckles and his awkwardness on the floor, all pre-requisites when it comes to being a Minister for Agriculture. Personally I think he’d be a better farmer than baller but he does have a Championship Ring which is more than I can say about myself.

Minister for Finance

Peter Holt is the owner of the Spurs. I’m not sure if it is entirely his doing but how Holt has managed to keep Manu, Duncan and Parker on the same team for so long when they could have been earning millions more elsewhere is some kind of voodoo magic. Each of the three are legit stars in their own right but have bought into the Spurs game and Holt is a wizard on the books. Not only has he kept the big three together but also brought in players with potential and has shown a willingness in keeping these potential superstars around and continued to develop them. Just look at Patty Mills, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Congratulations Peter Australia’s new Minister for Finance.

Minister for Social Services

A person who on the court is always looking out for others. More concerned with getting the assist. Hitting the right player at the right time in the right position. The choice for this spot was easy. Boris Diaw. A passing big man. A player who seems to have eyes in the back of his head. Kawhi did get Finals MVP but for me Diaw wasn’t far behind. Diaw doesn’t need to put the ball through the hoop to earn his pay, he does it through a subtle bounce pass through the key or a pass to the corner for the open three. Boris didn’t get many starts throughout the regular season but as soon as the Finals came Diaw stepped into the center position with ease and proved worth his weight in gold.

Minister for Trade and Investment

Tiago Splitter. A big man from Brazil. Splitter wasn’t brought over to the NBA straight away. He was given time to develop in European and Brazilian Leagues. Tiago would’ve been a superstar if he’d stayed in the Euro Leagues but once the time was right decided to ply his wares in the NBA. Splitter has proved to be adequate back up for Tim Duncan, giving the Big Fundamental time for his body to recover. All the time and effort that the Spurs invested into Splitter paid off with his huge block on Dwayne Wade during the NBA Finals (may have been a goal tend).

Minister for Employment

I was struggling at this stage to come up with positions but I had one spot left and one person to go so it is what it is. Manu Ginobilli you are now Australia’s Minister for Employment. It is because of you and your team orientated brand of ball that has allowed the Spurs to stay strong and consistent for many years. Manu, with Argentina, showed the rest of the world the importance of team basketball. Focusing on passing and team plays rather than individual brilliance. The NBA stood up and took notice incorporating this team style into NBA playbooks and also drafting many international ballers into the NBA. Thanks Manu.

There it is. Australia take note. The Spurs have solved all your problems. As you can see the entire roster has the resume required to thrive in their new positions and should obviously be brought in immediately (or not)…

 



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Spurs Demolish Heat To Claim Fifth NBA Title

In what can only be described as a 5-game bloodbath, the San Antonio Spurs shoved aside the pain and anguish of last season’s epic defeat, to claim the franchise’s 5th title with a dramatic 104-87 victory in San Antonio tonight.

After a season fought with the events of last year’s finals fresh in their minds, the Spurs sparred with Miami for 5 games, and in reality, it was probably lucky to get that far. Miami were beaten in every sense of the word with the Spurs capitalizing on an understrength bench, and the weary, battle-hardened legs of the Miami Heat.

Throughout the series the Spurs flawless style was put on display for the world to see, and the Heat were never really in it, even with their superstar providing stellar numbers for his team. The Spurs enjoyed incredible shooting numbers, including a first half record 75.8% in game 4, tough, stoic defense across all five contests, and a will to win that was surely born out of the agony of the 2013 Finals.

Patty Mills and Aron Baynes became the first Australians to capture an NBA title since Andrew Gaze with the Spurs in 1999, and Luc Longley with Jordan’s Bulls a year earlier in 1998. Mills was sensational off the bench for San Antonio, going 5 from 8 from three, and pouring in 14 third quarter points to push the lead out to an unassailable 25 points in the third quarter.

LeBron James briefly threatened to make the game interesting early in the forth quarter, pulling the team to within 14 points, but the Spurs rallied again through Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard to put any chance of a miracle Heat comeback out of contention.

James, although obviously dejected, had another great game contributing 31 points on 10/21 shooting, pulling down 10 boards and dishing out 5 dimes. The same could not be said for his supporting cast, with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of the starters combining for just 32 points, and an even worse performance from the bench, who contributed an unimpressive 24 points for the game.

A highlight for Spurs fans was the 22-year old Kawhi Leonard claiming the NBA Finals MVP award, after a great series in which he lead from the front with the old brass of the Spurs lineup. Today, Kawhi poured in 22 points, raked in 10 rebounds and provided defense on LeBron James that was worthy of the award he now holds.

Big things lie ahead for Leonard, who now occupies the same company as Magic Johnson, who at 22 also won Finals MVP with the Lakers.

This was a special title for San Antonio, again proving that age shall be no burden, and that anything really is possible with the right attitude. Their coach Gregg Popovich, emotional after today’s win, said of his players and staff, “I’ve never been prouder as a coach, and never been more satisfied with a season than I am with this one.”

He is stalwart in his opinions, and guided in his system. Every play is meticulously designed to perfection, and scrutinized with a wrath only Pop can muster. He is the very embodiment of what a coach should be, not that he’d ever claim that to be the case.

Popovich has long preached that all the hard work, and pain and emotion that these players feel will get them over the line eventually.

Today, he was proven right.



Trash or Treasure: The Lance Stephenson Edition

Pacers V Heat. A match up many didn’t think would happen with Indiana being so out of form but the Pacers lifted when they needed to and are right in their Eastern Conference Final against the defending champion Miami Heat. It’s a very intriguing match up. The superstar in waiting Paul George, up against the current King Lebron James. Roy Hibbert against his rebounding demons. The under performing Pacers bench against the canned heat of the Miami bench but I’m going to focus on an individual. Lance Stephenson. Some say he was robbed of an all-star spot. Others say he is a head case who too easily loses focus. Let’s take a look in a cheesy, radio segment kind of way. Welcome to Lance Stephenson, Trash or Treasure.   (more…)