That’s That

Wow. Warriors in five games. If only somebody had warned us that the series would be over so qui— oh I did predict? Well I’ll be damned (feigns humility for brief second before continuing), maybe it was just a lucky guess. Or maybe it was just as simple as adding Kevin Durant and subtracting Harrison Barnes.

People forget that the Warriors came within a minute of repeating as champions last year with Harrison Barnes as their starting small forward no Andrew Bogut to clog the middle of the paint. Although the Warriors couldn’t quite replace Bogut this year, they made a significant upgrade at the 3 position. Golden State didn’t even need KD to perform as scintillating as he was against the Cavs, they just needed him to play better than Harrison Barnes (who may actually have turned out to be the biggest loser in this whole saga–you know if making 94 million dollars is considered losing).

Except for ill timed rashes of mental lapses, the Cavaliers actually played decent defense this series. While the occasional mental lapse may not hurt Lebron and co. against teams like Toronto, Indiana, or Boston, it only takes a couple of poor possessions for a 4 point deficit to become a double digit lead against the Warriors. The margin of error against them is extremely thin.

Lebron is the best basketball player I have ever seen, but he is a terrible general manager. Remember his first tour of duty with the Cavs when he said that forward J.J. Hickson was not an expendable piece around the trading deadline? Then shortly after that he had to have an over the hill Antawn Jamison on his squad. Right before he left Miami, he lobbied for the Heat to draft Shabazz Napier at the point guard position. This time around he leveraged his power to make Cleveland sign Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson to huge contracts.

Now Tristan Thompson (who only pulled down 8 rebounds last night) would probably have commanded that kind of money eventually, being one of the few legitimate 7-footers left in the league, but Kevin Love did not play like a max contract player in this series. In fact, we may have seen the last of Kevin Love in a Cavaliers uniform. In a must win game, the guy takes only eight shots–missing three free throws and scoring only 6 points in the process. His plus/minus ratio was a -23 when he was on the court, and only three of his ten rebounds were on the offensive glass.

J.R. Smith surprised me this series. He had two stinkers in games 1 and 2 in Oakland, but managed to rebound and play well the last 3 games. Last night he put in 25 points on 9 for 11 shooting.  Still, the Cavaliers are going to need more wing players who defend to even have a chance in next year’s Finals (against either Golden State or San Antonio).

Cleveland’s biggest personnel problems stem from having too many one way specialist on the court. Though Kyle Korver, Channing Frye, Richard Jefferson, and Kevin Love can add a little life to the offense, none of those guys can defend.

Isn’t it too bad that Andrew Wiggins begged for Cleveland to trade him because he didn’t think Lebron could help him be a better player? Wait. That’s not what happened? Oh well, its not like he was a wing who could score a little bit right? Oh he does have some offensive skills? Well, even if he can score, its not like he can defend. What’s that you say? He’s an elite defender at his position? Fuck outta here! I’m not tryna hear that. Lebron wouldn’t push for the team to trade a guy like that now would he? WOULD HE? Yea I didn’t think so either.

All you have to do is compare the Cavaliers’ bench production to the Warriors’ and you will see where this series was lost. 7 points from their bench last night and we didn’t see much of Channing Frye, or Derrick Williams. Backup point guard, Deron Williams, is beyond washed. I bet he gives his retirement papers to the league by Friday.

Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala played consistently well–better than anyone on Cleveland’s bench (Iguodala had a +60 rating for the entire Finals). Javale McGee had moderate success the first 2 games, and he and the rest of the second unit contributed just enough to make Cleveland feel it. Tyronn Lue had no one he could bring off the bench and have any kind of impact defensively. Lebron averaged 42 minutes a game this final round; logging 46 minutes total last night.

Kevin Durant put on such a beautiful display of dominance that Draymond Green’s own inconsistent performance was overshadowed; coming nowhere close to how he played in game 7 of last year’s instant classic.

 

It is understandable that many people found this season to be unsatisfactory. No one was able to match the beautiful basketball on display up in Oakland, and the only team that could come close to competing had its hopes dashed by an overzealous Georgian. Despite what you might hear, the Spurs were in fact, the second best team in the NBA. I don’t expect much to change for next year. Washington is two moves away from me taking them seriously, so they loom in the background as a potential troublemaker.

I’m extremely curious to see if a) the Celtics finally use their chess pieces to put a championship team together next season and b) who the Cavs bring back next year.

Outside of Lebron, I think everybody can be had at a price. As outstanding as Kyrie Irving is, I don’t think he is the right guy for the kind of offense that can beat Golden State. Before you start tweeting me, take a second and think about how much more deadly Kevin Love would be if Mike Conley or John Wall were running that offense. Kyrie doesn’t get his teammates involved easily, and typically passes when its his only option.

I’m sure second best doesn’t sit too well with James, so something will have to be done to at least give the appearance that maybe they can beat Golden State four times in a series.

We still don’t know if this is the beginning of a dominant era for the Warriors or just a vacuum, but we’ll soon find out this off-season. Shaun Livingston and Stephen Curry will be free agents and we’ll likely see a few new faces on the roster next season. The beauty of the off-season is that up until next season’s tip, all 30 teams have a legitimate chance at being champions. Maybe things won’t be as predictable as they were this season, but I highly doubt it.

 

BM

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @goodassgame. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

 

 

 

 

 

Straight Hate (Sketches of Busterdom)

If you listened to the most recent episode of the Full Sass podcast, then you were treated to some unfettered access into my brain. Although I keeps it pretty #fullsass on a semi-regular basis, I said some stuff on Monday’s pod that were not meant for public consumption–things normally afforded for bars and living room conversations. But since the genie has been let out of the bottle, I may as well come out of the closet as a full-blown Lebron James hater.

Don’t get me wrong, the dude is one of the most incredible players to enter the league. I’m not one of those people who will dismiss his on the court accomplishments. Anyone who knows basketball has to admit that he is probably a top 5 player of all time, and his career isn’t even close to being over.

It doesn’t mean I have to like the man though. I don’t enjoy watching him play. I think his face is ugly. I think his shot is ugly (Frankly I’d much rather watch him make incredible passes than power through the lane, create contact, and then shoot free throws). I get it. Look at the man. He is a physical specimen, and powerful. HE SHOULD BE GOOD AT BASKETBALL!

I look at adults who say that Lebron is their favorite player the same way I look at non New Yorkers who tell me the Yankees are their favorite baseball team (which also happens to be the Lebron’s favorite team, but more on that later). I’ll be like “Yeah. Of course he is,” and then I usually end up tuning out anything they have to say about basketball.

Before you write me off as some hipster contrarian who only likes obscure players to flaunt my NBA fandom, let me say this: my dislike for Lebron has less to do with aesthetics and more to do with what he represents. To me, Lebron is like the Alex Rodriguez of the NBA. Both are prodigious, talented, hard-working individuals who hit the genetic lottery, but were also often chided (sometimes unfairly) for the robotic way they navigate through media relations.

Watch either player sit through a press conference, and you’ll notice that both men tend (ed) to give the same sort of innocuous/politically correct answers. Yet, despite meticulous attention to their brands, approval ratings and public persona, both managed to clumsily stumble at various points in their careers.

Fans in cities like Seattle and Texas felt alienated by Rodriguez’s large contracts which made it impossible to surround him with talent. This was right before he went to the most hated franchise in baseball. His legacy was cemented in stone once the BALCO story broke, and he was implicated along with other steroid users. If people don’t bring this up, they my allude to the time he tried to slap a baseball out of a player’s mitt as he ran down the base line.

Lebron’s fall from media darling status wasn’t nearly as drastic as A-Rod’s. He simply made a poor “decision” (lest we not forget that it netted the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland a nice sum of money–almost like a break up gift) that people don’t want to let go of. But unlike most of the Lebron haters, my disdain for Lebron has very little to do with “The Decision” but with the various shades of busterdom he has displayed throughout his career.

Exhibit A: Busters of A Feather

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Consider Lebron’s best friends in the league are Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade. Carmelo over the course of the summer has proven himself to be an alright dude, but there is legitimate evidence that CP3 and D-Wade are sociopaths.

People got bent out of shape last Finals when Lebron’s balls got flicked (people called it a punch, but trust me if you were in a prison fight, there is no way you’d use Draymond Green’s method of attack to stave off your opponent), but Chris Paul’s dirty reputation goes all the way back to his days at Wake Forest when he punched Julius Hodge in the family jewels.

Wade himself broke Kobe Bryant’s nose during an All Star game, and he still to this day has no remorse for purposely dislocating Rajon Rondo’s arm during the 2013 playoffs. Wade and Paul will do anything to win and don’t care if it is cheating, but only care if they get caught. This alone makes him suspect in my eyes.

Exhibit B: Dude is a Phony, and Low Key Corny

Anyone remember those old clips where Lebron would say some corny ass shit in the locker room huddle right before they hit the floor? There was something about his tone that always seemed disingenuous to me. Lebron has always had a way of saying exactly the right thing, but things always seemed off. Its like there is a telepromptor living inside his head 24-7.

Did anyone actually believed it when he basically told the media that any locker room he plays in is basically G rated conversation about business and family? He must be a faster player than we thought to the point where he can overhear and redirect any and all conversations that deviates into the NSFW realm? Give me a fucking break. He is teammates with J.R. “You tryna get the pipe?” Smith. There are at least 15 different conversations going on in a men’s locker room. I find it incredibly hard to believe that noone of these hyper-aggressive men have never once talked about women in way that was less than flattering. FOH with that BS Lebron.

I actually can only recall two occasions where I thought, damn maybe this man is human. One was the first championship he got in Miami, where he was dancing and getting hype on the bench as they had quelled the threat of RUN OKC (forever and ever amen), and the other was this past game 7 where he went full Michael Jordan mode, and bawled  like a baby after the buzzer sounded. That was actually kind of cool.

Exhibit C: Dude is a Frontrunner

When Lebron first got to the league, he was invited to an Indians game by ownership, and homie had the gall to wear a New York Yankees cap. When questioned about it, his reply was, “Yankees are my favorite team and the Cowboys are my favorite football team..” No harm there. The Cowboys are America’s team so I understand how that can happen, and sure, those late 90’s Yankees teams were incredible, so I get that too.

Fast forward to this year’s baseball playoffs, and Lebron is all about the Cleveland Indians. OH WORDDDD????? If you think about it though, it makes sense. He leaves the Cavs for a better situation in Miami, and wins two titles there with his “Super Friends” crew. Then when they get demolished in the 2014 Finals and it looks like they may be too old to win another title, he bounces to Cleveland and forms another super team to help him get back to the Finals.

Exhibit D: What Does Lebron Really Stand For?

You hear all kinds of PR about the good that Lebron does the community of Cleveland–especially for kids– but anytime he has had a chance to leverage his massive influence he has said nothing. I’ll give the man credit for being an incredible businessman and bringing so many jobs and businesses to the “land”.

Yet,we heard nothing from him when 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by police for having a toy gun (think about it. This could have easily happened to a 12 year old Lebron, forver altering the history of the state of Ohio). We heard him say nothing about the other unfortunate killings of black civilians by police in his home state (an open carry state mind you), but sure enough,  he publicly endorses the Clinton family, who during Bill Clintons’ years in office, helped create an environment in this country where blacks are criminalized (with the 3 strikes law and increase of private prisons).

This guy can’t even speak out about the Indians using and making money from merchandise using racist mascot Chief Wahoo (and if you think that this denigration matters not then you haven’t been keeping up with the events occurring in North Dakota). Lebron could use his platform to speak out against many injustices but Lebron only cares about what affects his bottom line and the legacy of his “kingdom.”

Those are just four small snapshots of instances where I feel Lebron has shown  his busterish (at best) tendencies. I’ve already mentioned in past posts about how weak he was for crying about Draymond calling “him out of his name” and lobbying to get Warriors players suspended, so there is no need to revisit those incidents.

We could also talk about his most recent comments where he says that players team up so they can have a chance to beat him, or we could talk about his post 2011 Finals (following a loss to Dallas) comments in reference to his haters. I’m not going to come out and say the man is a full-blown buster, but he is definitely on the buster spectrum. I’ll gladly take rebuttals for anyone wanting to cape for the man, but I’d advise you to save it.

Because unless you are on his payroll, or he is on yours, he doesn’t give a shit what you (or I for that matter) think, and you know what, he probably shouldn’t. But this should not come as a surprise to all of you Lebron sycophants. These narcissistic tendencies have always been there;we all just ignored them.

BM

Good Ass Games of the Week are below:

Monday

No Good Ass Games Scheduled

Tuesday

Houston at Cleveland

Los Angeles Lakers at Indiana

Sacramento at Miami

Utah at San Antonio

Golden State at Portland

Wednesday

Dallas at Utah

Portland at Phoenix

Thursday

Boston at Cleveland 

Oklahoma City at Golden State (Good Ass Game of the Week)

Friday

Portland at Dallas

Golden State at Los Angeles Lakers

Saturday

Minnesota at Oklahoma City

Los Angeles Clippers at San Antonio 

Sunday

Sacramento at Toronto

Portland at Memphis

Phoenix at Los Angeles

Buster(s) of the Week: NBA LEAGUE PASS. Having to part ways with NBA League pass was one of the most painful breakups I have experienced since I was in college. Whoever is in charge of digital content over at NBA media has never heard the axiom, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Last year’s version was way more user-friendly. This year’s version doesn’t include the Hardwood Classics option, and I’ve talked to at least a handful of people who also feel my pain concerning bandwidth and streaming accessibility. NBA LEAGUE PASS is a rip off. Unless you have a MAC, don’t get it. Save yourself the money, because it is not worth the frustration.

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at FullsassStudios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

On the Legacy of LeBron James, the Future for Kevin Durant and the Zenith of Busterism

 

Kevin Durant should be celebrated. He is a fantastically gifted scorer who possesses the skills of an elite guard, but has the wingspan of a center.The University of Texas product is certainly on the way to the Hall of Fame, if not the top of the Association’s all-time scoring register. He can shoot, he can create, and as this year’s Western Conference Finals showed, he can actually play some defense.

Yet public opinion on Durant has been waning for years, long before his aptly-timed Independence Day heel turn that saw fans – and sportswriters – roll their eyes in disgust and revolt from his side en masse. The timeline of how this happened, or more accurately, how Durant let this happen, is a complicated one.

Because of his prodigious talents and the timing of his league entrance, KD will always (probably unfairly) be compared to LeBron James. Although both players are nominally small forwards, with the blurring of positions and roles in the modern NBA, the two couldn’t be any more different.

“Bron-Bron” has never been a deadly spot-up shooter like KD, just as Durant has never possessed the world-class court vision and passing ability of James. LeBron thrives on creating for others in the Magic Johnson point forward role; KD is at heart; a volume shooter (albeit a brilliant one). Their respective games are markedly different, a fact that’s always been understated in comparing the two.

But those die have been cast. James and Durant are both super-duper-megastars, they’re of a similar age, they play the same position; therefore, they have to be measured against each other. This is product of fan culture, of media culture and of the pressure former players put on current stars. Durant is not to blame for that.

He’s far from blameless, though. When LeBron signed with Miami following the infamous “The Decision” special in 2010, the public opinion of him plummeted. Never mind that the Cleveland team(s) he left had embarrassingly weak supporting casts (more on this later). He was abandoning his hometown (more or less) team to create a super team and was roundly derided for it.

In that first season in Miami, James tried to double down. Tired of being the calm, collected superstar, he attempted to play the bad guy on the Heat. It didn’t work. It was forced, and later, he admitted that he was mentally exhausted by the act. Notably, the next season, Leron returned to his normal personality en route to his first title. This is where Durant should have been better.

Writers have said for some time that Durant is impressionable and emotional, that “he sometimes makes decisions rashly” and, more alarmingly, “with the intent of choosing the course of action that will please others.” In that context, it is easy to see how a marketing team in KD’s ear could have watched James’ struggles over the first year in Miami and seen an opportunity – one that Durant was all too quick to embrace.

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With LeBron as the league’s new villain, KD tried to position himself as the NBA’s new golden boy. Aided by sycophantic writers eager to buy into the idea of Durant as the humble superstar, public opinion of KD soared. He bought into his own mythos, signing a contract extension with the Thunder in a clear attempt to make himself the anti-LeBron: soft spoken, nice, loyal, and team-first.

LeBron gained some supporters back by defeating Durant soundly in the 2012 Finals, but with the Thunder positioned as the West’s team of the future, the loss didn’t seem particularly significant. A group as talented and as young as OKC would surely be back.

History played out differently. Trading James Harden was a massive mistake, yes, and injuries derailed the Thunder at various points. But as this past season showed, the team has copious talent and is still a championship contender. The excuses started to wear thin, and public perception of the team slowly pivoted from “celebrated young upstarts” to “brash loudmouths without a ring.”

This was helped in no small part by the team’s behavior, from publicly claiming things would have been different with a healthy squad, to the actions of individual players. Serge Ibaka plateaued, and fans got tired of being told he was an elite defender. OKC kept bringing in unlikable, or overrated role players (Caron Butler, Dion Waiters, Kendrick Perkins). And as the lack of ultimate success continued, the team’s constant complaining – which manifested in the form of three consecutive top-two finishes in team technical fouls – got old (a Thunder player led the league in T’s in three of the past five seasons).

There’s a word for this kind of stuff: buster. OKC saw the public gradually turn on it because a team can’t be unlikable AND unsuccessful. If you’re going to be loud and defiant and claim you deserve respect as one of the league’s best teams, you’d better back it up. Failing to do so qualifies you as posers. Durant, as the team’s leader, was deservedly the face of that failure.

From an individual perspective, KD didn’t do himself any favors. As LeBron reestablished himself as (unquestionably) the best player in the world, and Durant continued to promote himself at the expense of another player, fans became less receptive. His impressionable, eager-to-please nature likely made it easy for his handlers to convince him this was the best course. He didn’t make that decision in a vacuum.

However, he did choose to tweet “Now everybody wanna play for the Heat and the Lakers? Let’s go back to being competitive and going at these peoples!” just days after “The Decision”. He chose to sign that big extension, knowing how it would look. And in the absolute nadir of blatant nice-guy pandering, he told Bill Simmons he wanted his nickname to be “The Servant” because he made his teammates better.

It was phony, it was obvious, and it was widely rejected. People don’t want to be told how humble you are. A move that transparent, combined with the rest of the Thunder’s collective busterism, soured fans tremendously. This brings us to KD’s decision to leave OKC and sign with Golden State.

To be clear from the outset: Durant has every right to leave. OKC management drafted well and was reportedly player-friendly, but it also made several questionable personnel decisions– headlined by the Harden trade and the curiously long tenure of one Scott Brooks. Without a doubt, the media-and-fan-created stigma of retiring without a championship loomed large in his mind.

It’s the destination he chose that solidifies Durant as a first-team All-Time Buster. Had he left for San Antonio, his hometown Wizards, or some other team with a decent roster, it would be understandable. Moving on for a better chance at a ring is a respectable business decision. What isn’t respectable is leaving for the team that broke the regular-season wins record, just beat you in a thrilling seven-game conference finals and was likely the best collection of talent the NBA has ever seen (if not the greatest basketball team of all time).

It is the ultimate cop-out, the ultimate admission of defeat and disinterest in carrying a team. This isn’t LeBron leaving for Miami. Look at the roster Bron was playing with his final season in Cleveland. Look at the list of corpses he dragged to the 2007 Finals against the Spurs. No wonder he couldn’t get it done before he went to Miami.

By contrast, this year’s OKC team featured a great young center in Steven Adams, a halfway decent bench and another one of the top five players in the world in Russell Westbrook. The Thunder just made a fantastic trade for Serge Ibaka that landed them Victor Oladipo as well as a pair of bigs to add depth in Ersan Illysova and (rookie) Domantas Sabonis. With KD, that team was possibly going to be as good as the Warriors next year, and the Thunder knew they really should have knocked off the Dubs this season.

When LeBron went to Miami, the Heat’s Big Three had never played together. They had spacing issues and chemistry issues and no real center on the roster. It was a remarkable collection of stars, but there’s a reason it took time for the team to learn how to play together.

Golden State will face far less of a challenge in adding Durant. The Warriors have already won a championship and should have won a second. They were, despite the end result of these playoffs, probably the best team of all time. All they’re doing is replacing a good player in Harrison Barnes with an elite one in Durant. It’s a significantly smaller obstacle that will in turn make winning a title significantly less meaningful for KD.

This move isn’t close to LeBron going to Miami. It’s the equivalent of an alt-history in which Lebron signs with Boston after being eliminated by the Celtics in 2010 (upgrading the position manned by Paul Pierce) and riding the coattails of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to a ring. It’s the equivalent of Michael Jordan throwing up his hands after being eliminated by the Pistons three straight seasons and signing with Detroit in 1990. It’s disappointing, it’s weakness personified and it’s the ultimate endgame of the busterism KD signed on for way back when he agreed to be the foil to LeBron no one needed.

LeBron, on the other hand…

Where did last year’s Finals leave us with Lebron? To start with, it re-solidifies his place among the very best the game has ever seen, and his status as the current top player in the world. It makes the MVP’s of Derrick Rose (2010), Durant (2014) and Steph Curry (2015) look even more ridiculous in retrospect (Curry’s 2016 nod is acceptable). Most importantly, and thankfully, it finally closes the absurd argument that somehow Bron hasn’t done enough in his career to be included in “Greatest Ever” talks.

I get it. It’s natural to be threatened by change. People dislike when something new challenges their preconceived notions of what is and what should be. It’s why aged stars like Oscar Robertson claim players like Steph Curry would get crushed “back in their day.” It fuels the insecurity in Scottie Pippen when he claimed his Bulls would sweep this season’s Warriors. Ex-players don’t want to be forgotten or have younger players rewrite their accomplishments. Fans are no more rational than the players they support. But there seems to be a particular bent on diminishing James’ accomplishments.

That’s undoubtedly because James is the best player we’ve seen since Michael Jordan. He might end up being considered greater than MJ, or he might not, but it’s the mere notion that he COULD be that strikes so much unnecessary fear in the hearts of some fans. Why is this such a big deal? It comes back to insecurity.

If LeBron COULD one day be better than Mike, then what have all these fans been wasting their time with, stanning for a guy who isn’t the best player ever? It’s a particular fetishism of “The Best And Only The Best” that permeates so much of American culture, and when intertwined with personal identity it creates some truly inexplicable results.

LeBron James

You’d think that LeBron dragging a garbage fire to the Finals against San Antonio in 2007 would be a feat worth celebrating, but no, it makes him a choker. Ditto for the crippled six-man team he willed to a 2-1 lead last year against Golden State – one of the best teams of all time in their own right. What matters is that LeBron lost, and MIKE NEVER LOST IN THE FINALS SO Lebron is a fraud!! Apparently he’d have been better off losing in the first round like Jordan.

 

Never mind that LeBron was just 22 years old, and in his fourth season, when he took a bad team to the Finals. Never mind that it took four seasons for Michael Jordan to get out of the first round of the playoffs (and he promptly lost 1-4 in the second round). The sheen of a six-for-six Finals record is rightfully celebrated, but it tends to distract from MJ’s playoff struggles before he got to that point. Do you know how many playoff GAMES Jordan won without Scottie Pippen?

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The answer is one. MJ went 1-9 in the first round in his first three seasons, making the playoffs each year despite a losing record. The latter, of course, was a result of a smaller league, featuring talent consolidation on fewer teams and a near-total lack of quality international players (but that’s a discussion for another time). It’s an ugly mark, but Jordan’s later achievements overshadow those early years, as they should.

If it’s down to rings and rings alone, as some fans attempt to use as a trump card, then neither Michael Jordan nor LeBron James is the best player of all time. Bill Russell’s 11 rings are more than MJ and Bron combined. Yet even the most ardent old-guard supporters would likely concede that Russell is not the greatest player ever. Different eras are difficult to compare, even back-to-back ones like Jordan and James’.

All this of course, misses the point. There is not, nor will there ever be, a consensus greatest player ever. The subject is too subjective and emotion-based to have an “answer.” The most a player can do is put himself in the conversation. If a reasonable argument can be made for a player’s inclusion on that short list, he’s in the conversation. Jordan is there. LeBron is too (and by the way, his career is not over).

That’s what makes Durant leaving for Golden State so disappointing. Michael Jordan broke through in 1991 after struggling for years to get out of the east and rewrote the end of his story. LeBron James went to Miami, learned how to be truly great, then came home and did the same.

No matter how many championships KD wins as a Warrior, he’ll never be the leader of his team the way MJ and Bron were. The Warriors belong to Steph Curry. Durant going along for the ride will only diminish respect for what he accomplishes.

 

img_3186 Devon Singrey is a Portlander and creator of the college football blog, Making Sense of Saturday. His interests include basketball, football, history, mythology, funky music, and all things Prince.

Believeland Pt. 2

Yikes. This series has sucked. There has not been a close game yet; the best we’ve seen is a game 4 first half that ended in a 61-61 score. It has been a very intense series however, and thus highly illuminating. What have we learned?

  1. Cleveland fans deserve every horrible sports trauma that has come their way. These past two weeks every insufferable, pathetic schmuck I’ve come across from Cleveland made me wish that the city and all of its sports teams just fall into Lake Erie. One Cleveland ex pat had the gall to ask me if Chief Wahoo offended me because I was Native American. I responded “No it offends me because I’m a human being.” He didn’t get it. I hope that city never wins ANY kind of championship. I don’t care if its team ping-pong, curling, or MLS soccer. lbj-crying-again
  2. Lebron is a whiny bitch. How can a man so powerful and so great be such a fucking whiner? This guy steps over another player (one of the most disrespectful things to do to another person–just ask Lebron’s coach) and gets riled up when that player calls him a bitch. I’m not saying the (flick?) in the balls was justified, but compared to the ball slaps and “Mitch Cup Checks” that everyone else has endured, how can anyone with a straight face say that deserved a flagrant foul upgrade? If there was a pivotal point in the series, this was clearly the series turning event. Oh by the way, Lebron lobbied the league to suspend Draymond Green for 2 games for that little “flick of tha wrist.” Lebron is an incredible player, but I’ve lost all respect for him as a competitor. This, and the way he has been manhandling Steph Curry has shown me that the man has no sportsmanship. I won’t even go into how he should be called for an offensive foul every time he throws an elbow on the people guarding him. Seriously, fuck that guy.
  3. Golden State is not the best team of all time. This series should have been over in five games. The role players have disappeared time and time again the last 2 rounds. No one has consistently stepped up when the moment called for it. I expected Harrison Barnes to deliver in the clutch in game 5 when Green was suspended. Festus Ezeli has been terrible, and Speights has been non-existent. With Andrew Bogut out for the series, the Warriors desperately need the bigs to get BIG. If they don’t show up Sunday night, it’s going to be a shitty Father’s Day for the Dubs. They might get drove, because Tristan Thompson is not going to let up, and neither will “LeBitch” James. I think this has been the impetus for the Warriors not executing their offense. Their shots made from assists have gone drastically down, and Klay and Steph have been relegated to shooting contested three pointers. I think the trust factor is the reason they have been just chucking it up and running back on D, after Cleveland gets a rebound. That record-breaking Chicago team would’ve handled them in 6 games.
  4. The refs have been terrible all playoffs, but they have really outdone themselves in the Finals. This is the best the NBA could come up with? No one knows what a foul is from one play to another. Wouldn’t it make more sense to just keep the best crew on for the whole series? How about that for some much-needed consistency? I swear to God I will fucking throw my glass of ginger ale if this game 7 is decided by some shitty officiating.
  5. Lastly, if anyone is wondering what happened to the Warriors home court advantage, then I will direct them to Darren Rovell’s twitter account. These tickets are beyond Super Bowl prices, and the rich casual fans are ruining the atmosphere of what was once the hardest building for opposing teams to get a W. Sadly this is just a preview of what home games will be like when they move across to San Francisco. So techie bros, when you are asking how the NBA’s best regular season team of all time dropped 2 home games in the Finals (Frankly any team that does this deserves an L), just look in the mirror. All the real, and hard-core Dubs fans are not in the building. They are the ones who know how to affect the outcome of a game. The people in the stands were on pins and needles in game 5, and I’m convinced that nervous energy seeped onto the court.

Normally I would say game 7 favors the home team, but I am not as confident in the Warriors as I was 3 games ago. The only thing keeping me from picking Cleveland in game 7 is the fact that they rep Cleveland. What could be more Clevelandish than them going down 3-1, busting their asses to get a game 7, and then shitting the bed in the most heartbreaking way?

jose-mesa

Quick story: During this year’s past football season, I was at a bar with some buddies watching the Browns-Ravens game on Monday night. It was an absolute travesty to watch, but I happened to be there for a hoops game, and decided to watch the 4th quarter. The game was terrible, and both teams were tied 27-27 (trust me, it wasn’t nearly as exciting as the score would indicate), but Cleveland lined up for a sure-fire game winning field goal as time expired.

Right before the snap, my buddy says “You know what would be funny? If the Ravens blocked this kick and returned it for a touchdown.” I then said, ” Man that would be the most Cleveland-est way for them to lose the game.”

Guess what happened. Yep. Cleveland found a new way to blow a sure win. In the tradition of Earnest Byner, and Jose Mesa, someone on the Cavaliers is going to find a new way to break this fanbases heart, and I will be elated. My money is on Kevin Love or J.R. Smith. And if I’m wrong, and the Cavs win this series, then Lebron James is the greatest player we’ve ever “witnessed” play, AND I will buy a Lebron jersey to play pickup in–along with a headband accessory– for the rest of the year, until the next basketball season starts. But no matter what, I will forever in my heart feel that he pulled some bitch shit this series, and he will one day get his comeuppance. Schadenfreude can be so sweet if you open your heart to it. He won’t be the best player forever. Even Jordan got his ankles broken.

Enjoy the last game of the season.

 

BM

@clickpicka79

#thisagoodassgame #fullsass

thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

 

 

Game. Set. Rematch???

First off, I’m going to say anyone who has anything negative to say about Lebron James after this series is a straight HATER. The dude is a true gladiator and gave his city everything he had. He should have been the MVP of the Finals. He outscored, outrebounded, and had more assists than anyone in every single game this series (the first player to EVER do that by the way). Seeing him walk off the floor after the end result evoked images like this one:

or this:

Watching Lebron put the whole state of Ohio on his back was fascinating. Cleveland would hang for 3 quarters and just run out of gas. It was still a good ass series despite all the injuries and no one on the Cavs team has anything to hang their heads about. They gave everything they had. I respect that.

But I’d be the Buster of the Week if I didn’t acknowledge the best team without any “superstars” on their roster.

People doubted whether Steph Curry’s ankles could hold him up for an entire NBA season. People doubted whether Draymond Green would be able to last in the league. No need to go into Shaun Livingston’s story about his horrific knee injury. Anyone who can’t be happy for that guy is straight up sippin on dat HATERADE.

There are so many people to be happy for with this win: Warriors fans are the best fans in basketball. The city of Oakland deserves some good things to finally happen to it. Steve Kerr is an easy person to root for, and anyone who likes watching pretty basketball certainly got their jollies from watching them all year. Kansas and North Carolina fans can revel in Harrison Barnes, James Michael McAdoo, and Brandon Rush getting chips. It was a good ass year for basketball. I cannot wait to run it back again next year.

Congratulations Warriors fans, you no longer have to gush about the “We Believe 2007” team anymore. The championship now resides in Oakland.

If You Can’t Take The Heat…….

It’s 3:30 AM and I can’t sleep. I’m still buzzing from that game tonight. I hadn’t seen a game like that since watching those old Celtics-Lakers videos from the 80’s. There were 7 Hall of Famers playing in tonight’s game, and one future Hall of Fame coach. The stakes are high, and the level of play in that first half was unreal.

I watched the first half at this bar down the street from my buddy’s house and they showed it with the sound off. I didn’t realize the arena was a sauna until late in the third half, after I went to a bar that actually let us listen to it (which almost explains why the 3rd quarter was so sloppy–23 turnovers for the Spurs–wtf?).

The superstars produced. Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili played huge, scoring 56 points between them (Ginoboli at one point was outscoring the entire Heat bench by himself). Tiago Splitter had a great game on the glass and finishing at the rim when he had good looks.

Jesus Shuttlesworth killed it–especially with that dunk on Danny Green (did anyone else see that elbow Allen threw at Marco Belinelli?). Lebron played very efficiently until his menstrual leg cramps put him out of commission during clutch time. Dwayne Wade looked damn good out there, doing some ballet type shit out there on the court.

Some people will blame the cramps on the Heat losing game 1 (the same people who forget that Tony Parker played the whole Finals last year injured with a hamstring injury that kept him from being at his best), but this will come down to role players.

Boris Diaw had 10 rebounds and 6 assists, Manu Ginobili had 16 points and 11 assists, and Danny Green went ham for a crucial stretch (two 3 pointers and a breakaway dunk for the lead) after missing his first five shots.

Mario Chalmers sat on the bench most of the game because he couldn’t stay out of foul trouble, and besides Ray Allen, no one on the Heat bench scored more than 2 points. The Spurs finished the game with a 31-9 run.

Now its only game 1, and there is no reason to get TOO excited. Chalmers will play better sometime during this series when the Heat need him the most, and the Spurs can’t count on Lebron’s “moon cycle” to continue through Sunday and beyond. There are a lot of encouraging things for Spurs fans to take from this.

Kawhi Leonard had a mostly quiet night and will certainly play better by the next game. I’m sure that the Spurs will cut down their number of (unforced) turnovers as well. D-Wade isn’t going to consistently shoot as well from the outside as he did tonight either. Many of the shots he took outside of the paint were shots you can live with if you are the Spurs.

There were parts of Game 1 that were scintillating and there were parts that were head scratching, but overall that was a good ass game. I expect an even better, less sloppy game come Sunday. There was a lot of good ball movement and great passes. That a sect is just going to get better. I know it is only game 1, but had the Heat stolen tonight’s game, the series would have taken on a completely different tone. Dust out the old VCR, and hit record button. This series is going to be one people will talk about for decades.

Run That Shit Back

The Spurs wanted this.

The Heat say they wanted this.

But most importantly, I wanted this to happen. Out of all the possible Finals match ups, this was the one I wanted to see the most.

The Spurs should have beaten the Heat last year–despite having an injured Tony Parker. This year, the Spurs’ bench is better, Kawhi Leonard is better, Manu Ginobili is not a shell of himself. The Heat meanwhile have gotten worse. Everyone outside of Lebron and Bosh is old as fuck. Erik Spoelstra is a good coach though, and if anyone can match wits with Greg Popovich, it is him (although let’s face it–pretty easy to trot out Lebron, Wade, and Bosh and get 50 wins in the putrid East). If the Spurs can play their game and pass like they did in the third quarter of game 6 against the Thunder, they won’t need 7 games to dispatch the Heat. But I’ll give Lebron the benefit of the doubt and say it takes 7 games for the Heat to be defeated.

Spurs in 7 or less

Congratulations to the Thunder for having another phenomenal year (and Russell Westbrook for coming back from three knee surgeries in one year–what a post season that guy had–ferocious!!) .As long as they Westbrook and Durant, they will always be able to compete, and get butts in the seats of that arena. Sure Clay Bennett could pony up the money to sign key free agents to fortify the bench and give Russ and KD some help (Besides Reggie jackson, there is no one other than Durant and Westbrook who can create their own shot), but that would mean taking money out of his oil funds to do so. I’m not saying they need to fire Scott Brooks, but he does need an offensive assistant to help create plays other than “Isolation with Westbrook, Isolation with Durant.”

There is a lot of things going on outside of the basketball court that doesn’t sit well with me. I’m not comfortable with the arena wide pre-game prayer. I’m not comfortable with the way the team was acquired, and I’m not comfortable with what is currently going on with the ownership group in general.

There is a lot of economy in Oklahoma City based on this group. Brick town was based around the basketball arena, and the company itself built a giant glass high rise (umm tornadoes??) right in the middle of downtown. Things change so quickly (just ask Donald Sterling), who is to say, the Chesapeake Energy group doesn’t get multiple lawsuits, multiple fines, found guilty of fraud and they end up selling the team to an investor who moves the franchise yet again? What if the company goes belly up? What would happen to all those buildings and establishments then with no team in town and no oil money to fund city projects? What happens to the city then? Just some things to think about. Nothing lasts forever, especially not title runs.

Which leads to this thought, if the Spurs do somehow manage to beat the Heat, this will be one of the best title runs of all time. The Spurs have gone through an underrated Dallas squad that took them to 7 games. They beat a pretty good Blazers team. handled this Thunder team with 2 of the NBA’s top five players on their team.Now they have to go through Lebron. Four more wins will cement the Spurs legacy and shut Phil Jackson up.

As many reasons as there are to root against the Heat, there are twice as many reasons to root for the Spurs to take this series. Game on. Thursday can’t get here fast enough.