Is LA Big Enough For Lebron James AND LaVar Ball?

Image result for lavar ball lebron james

Is Los Angeles big enough for the two of them?

It seems like we can’t go more than a few days without a story about the possibility of Lebron James joining the Los Angeles Lakers next season as a free agent.  As the story goes, he has houses here, the entertainment business is here, and winning a title with a third team in LA will add to his legacy, yada yada yada.  And though not a good team, we’re told the Lakers will also sign Paul George and make other moves to make the team more championship ready for the King.

Setting aside the fact that the Lakers would still have ground to gain on other loaded western conference teams, and LBJ would be giving up his eastern conference gravy train to the finals (although Boston is a coming), there is one little factoid not being talked about.

The side-show that is LaVar Ball.  Why on Earth would LBJ want to subject himself to that?  Oh, maybe LaVar will promise Lebron he’ll slide into the background if he signs with the Lakers.  You know, like how Ball promised Magic Johnson.  We see how that has worked out.  This man is quiet for n-o-b-o-d-y.

Who is LaVar going to blame if things are going badly?  Right now it’s Coach Luke Walton.  Maybe it will continue to be Walton or whoever else might replace him at some point.

But what if Ball started blaming James?  What if Ball jumps on the bandwagon of James’ critics, and questions James for his leadership?  Ability to close a game?  Clutch foul shooting?  Or infers that any of these thoughts are coming from the team?

Again I ask, why on Earth would Lebron want expose himself to the LaVar Ball circus?  James has legitimate critics out there, but Ball, if history were to hold to form, would not be one of them.  But he might get more attention for it than any of them.  Walton doesn’t deserve L. Balls yapping now, and James certainly wouldn’t deserve it later.

I mentioned the word legacy in the first paragraph.  In case you haven’t noticed legacy is something that is important to Lebron.  See how Lebron clapped back at Charles Barkley when Barkley made unflattering comments about him.  Lebron wasn’t going to let Sir Charles “disrespect his legacy”.  Nor was LBJ going to stand for it when Phil Jackson referred to his inner circle as “his posse”.  Further, LaVar has already irritated Lebron with his comments about Lebron’s children.  James was well justified in response.

And what if Lebron comes to the Lakers and they win?  When Lebron has won in Cleveland and Miami, a majority of the credit and adulation went to him.  It might be if he were to win in LA but that doesn’t mean LaVar wouldn’t tweet anything in his power to take away props and attention from Lebron, diminish his contribution and credit himself (and maybe Lonzo) for being the one to “talk it into existence” and whatever else he can come up with.

LBJ can stay with the Cleveland Cavaliers who have a high number one pick on the way, or join a loaded Houston Rockets team with good friend Chris Paul.

Those seem like far better options.

If Lebron does want to go to the Lakers or at least explore it, I can see him going to Magic behind close doors and saying, you want me?  Trade Lonzo Ball.  If the Lakers did trade Lonzo in order to sign Lebron it would probably ignite a twitter sh*t storm from LaVar directed toward James.

This could actually be a good thing for James as it could provide cover for him for leaving Cleveland again.  Cleveland fans could be burning jerseys, rioting, (I don’t think Cleveland’s reaction would be nearly as strong the second time around.) but the media wouldn’t care because when LaVar talks they lap it up like a dog drinking from a toilet bowl on an Arizona summer day.  Many would jump to Lebron’s defense and by the time the storm died down it would be like oh yeah, Lebron left Cleveland again.

Like they used to say in the old westerns… This town ain’t big enough for the both of them.  Lebron, free advice:  If Lonzo is still with the Lakers, don’t do it.

 

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I’ll Still Take Larry Bird Over LeBron James

jamesbird
It is a good time to be a LeBron James fan. Having won his third NBA Finals MVP, and leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a historic Championship, the LeBron “lovers” (seems only fair to call them that since they call anyone who challenges the LeBron is a demi-god narrative a hater or a troll) are understandably pounding their chests, and elevating LeBron’s historical place in the game.

According to some of the loving talking heads at ESPN, LeBron is clearly a top three to five player, maybe one, and with this latest championship, definitely the best small forward ever, over Larry Bird.

Here are two ways to talk about the best ever and demonstrate why the lovers are wrong:

  • One, if you were to start a team with one player, who would it be?
  • Two, if you could put together the best starting five, who would it be?

The difference is the best five ever can have two people playing the position, best starting five asks for the best at each.

jamesbird2

So, who is my best starting five?  At the point guard I am going with Magic Johnson.  At power forward, Tim Duncan. At shooting guard, do I really have to say it? Okay, Michael Jordan.  With respect to Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlin who I didn’t see play, I’ll take the underappreciated Kareem Abdul Jabbar at center.

Now before I say why I will take Bird over James at small forward (the title of the blog was kind of a spoiler), let me ask you, as great as my starting four is, what is one glaring weakness in this lineup?  Ding ding ding, three point shooting!  Give all the readers who got it a prize.  Given the other starting four, Bird is simply a better fit in this all-time lineup.

Just to show the lovers that I am not a hater, if Steph Curry continues on his trajectory and manages to somehow supplant Magic as the starting point guard, then there becomes a better argument to put James in the starting five over Bird.  I’ll get back to you after Curry retires on that one.

Okay one part down.  As far as who I would want to start a team with, first let me say as far as talent goes, and from what I have seen, LeBron is top three of all time. However, to use the often used Batman/ Robin metaphor, he has Batman talent but Robin mentality.  If I was guaranteed to have a team with two alpha dog stars there is a good chance I would want LeBron to be one of them. For example, I think a young LeBron would have done better with an in his prime Shaquille O’Neal than Kobe Bryant.  Conversely, if I was guaranteed to have one star, there are others I would take before him.  Larry Bird being one, and Kobe Bryant another.

I can hear the lovers screaming about LeBron’s back to back 41 points in the finals and other pretty statistics.  I’m not saying LeBron can’t be clutch or can’t ever close, I’m saying those are skills just like passing and rebounding, and when compared to the best of the best, others do it better.  His former teammate Dwyane Wade being among them.

Between Bird and LeBron, both are all-time great passers, but I’ll give an edge to LeBron. Both can rebound the ball, but edge Bird. Both can score, but three point shooting, foul shooting, and late game foul shooting, big edge Bird.  LeBron is a much better defender, ball handler and driver to the basket.  As far as being clutch, leadership (can’t imagine Bird writing “sub-tweets” about teammates) and intangibles (such as more likely to make a steal versus turn it over) solid edge Bird.

So, it is not a landslide or anything but after reviewing the tale of the tape, as of now,  I’m sticking with Larry Legend.

LarryLegend

Between Allen Iverson And Steve Nash, The Answer is Nash

And It Is Not Even Close

nashIversonWith the latest injury and announcement that 40-year-old future hall of famer Steve Nash will miss the entire upcoming NBA season, many in the media have begun to understandably eulogize Nash’s career.  Indeed, we have likely see the last of him as far as playing in the NBA. One comparison I hear making the rounds is who was better between he and another great guard destined for the hall of fame, Allen Iverson.

Most I have listened to on ESPN, led by an admittedly biased Stephen A. Smith, (Smith credits A.I. for helping him in his career in sports print/TV journalism) either slightly or heavily point to Iverson as being the better or the two, and or the one they pick for their team. I believe Stephen A. stated that A.I. was on another level compared to Nash.

Hogwash. Iverson was great but players like Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and Russell Westbrook must get sick hearing talk about Iverson sometimes, because when they shoot a lot, they’re selfish ball stoppers. When A.I. shoots a lot, despite how many times he misses, he is demonstrating heart. Because A.I. was very tough, fearless, and lets face it, short by NBA standards, he sometimes got a pass on being a volume shooter, and dare I say selfish player, that others would not.

With Nash and Iverson you can make the debatable argument that if either is the best player on your team you will not win a championship. Assuming that is the case, I am far more confident that Nash could have an easier time adjusting his game, and being the second best player on a team than Iverson.

We know Nash was an all-time great passer.  Currently he is number three on the all time assist list.  Yes, he did more to make his teammates better, but he was also a great two, three, and foul shooter, as demonstrated by being part of the exclusive 50-40-90 club  (pointed out by Smith’s sparring partner on ESPN’s First Take, Skip Bayless, who does give a slight edge to Nash.)

Here is a question to ask yourself in the comparison. Hoopsmanifesto
lists the top ten NBA players of all-time as being:

10 – Kobe Bryant

9 – Shaquille O’Neal

8 – LeBron James

7 – Tim Duncan

6 – Wilt Chamberlain

5 – Larry Bird

4 – Magic Johnson

3 – Kareem Abdul- Jabbar

2 – Bill Russell

1 – Michael Jordan

If we could ask them, who on this list do you think would prefer to play with A.I. and who would want to play with Nash? With the possible exception of Magic, my bet is that everyone would rather play with Nash.  Let’s add some more names, Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, Kevin Durant, Dwayne Wade, Derrick Rose, Karl Malone, David Robinson, Kevin Love, Paul Pierce, Chris Bosh, Julius Erving, Reggie Miller, etc, etc… who would most to all of these guys rather play with between A.I. and Nash?  That is the player I want on my team.

And yes, I have to talk about practice… Who is the better practice player? The more coachable player? More likely to make teammates better? To lead by example and be a better mentor? The answer to all of these is Nash. Better raw skills? I will give that slight edge to A.I. but that does not make him the better nor more desirable player.

A.I. did play with tremendous heart, but because of height, I think he gets talked about and elevated over others I would take before him in a team game…To name some:  Ray Allen, Jason Kidd, John Stockton, and Gary Payton come to mind as others I would take over A.I..  (Isaiah Thomas is already acknowledged by most as being better than Iverson)

Why Phil Jackson Would Be a Better Coach for the Miami Heat Than Pat Riley

It is All About the Zen

(This blog was originally posted on the Yahoo Contributor Network on June 16th, 2011. As of 7/31/14 YCN has taken down all of its content)

With respect to current Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, after the Heat loss in the NBA Finals, there are calls in the media for Pat Riley to take back the coaching reins. If Spoelstra is going to be replaced, Riley should stay where he is and he should do whatever it takes to bring in the Zen Master.

For years many critics of Phil Jackson pointed to the fact that he coached great players such as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant and used that to minimize his accomplishments as a coach and question how good he was. Pat Riley coached a few good players himself in Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, James Worthy, Dwyane Wade and Patrick Ewing and yet Riley seemed to dodge the, “you were successful because of who you coached charge” to the level extolled upon Jackson.

Upon further review we see that whereas none of Jackson’s players won a title prior to his arrival, (talked about in more detail here), it was Riley’s Lakers who had won a championship before he arrived. Further, Riley lost in the playoffs to lower seeds several years in a row as head coach of the Miami Heat, including losing as a number one seed to a number eight, before he quit just before the 2003-4 season.

If a superstar player had a stretch that bad in the playoffs the media would suggest that it is and should be an indelible part of the player’s legacy. And so it should be with coach Riley.

However, many in the media have always liked Riley more than Jackson. Further, they conveniently leave out certain facts about the 2006 Miami Heat championship team that Riley coached after the Machiavellian maneuver he employed to replace coach Stan Van Gundy.

Riley lovers such ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser and Skip Bayless have repeatedly stated that Riley brought that Heat team over the top and that Stan Van could not have coached the team to a championship. Lets remember that Van Gundy brought the Heat to the conference finals in 2005.

What Bayless and Kornheiser leave out when they say Riley made the difference between the Heat losing in game seven of the conference finals in 05 and winning in 06 are two key facts.

  • One, Shaq was healthier in 06 than he was in 05. Maybe you can dismiss that one as “The Daddy” was already past his prime and it was D. Wade’s team.
  • Two, Bayless fawns over Wade’s game. Understandable, the man has skills and is clutch. Okay, in that 2005 conference finals, Wade got hurt and missed game 6, and played hobbled in game 7, and they still almost won this series!

When comparing Riley to Van Gundy and who could have done what with which team, don’t you think its fair to bring up those little tidbits? With a healthy Wade (and Shaq) the Heat beat Detroit, without a healthy Wade, the Heat do not win in 2006.

Back to the present. The biggest issue facing today’s Heat is the mind of Lebron James. Clearly he has the talent. Since the end of this year’s finals on Sunday there have been fair comparisons of Lebron to baseball’s Alex Rodriguez and what he went through trying to win a World Series with the New York Yankees.

Further, the calls for Lebron to see a sports psychologist, I think is a good idea. Despite what I said about Riley above, I do think he is a great coach, but he requires players with a thick skin who are on the same page and can withstand and thrive under his intensity. Riley is old school and I don’t think he is the man for the psychological mess Lebron appears to be. Further, James already gets fast break, “showtime” style basketball. It is when the game slows down and is in the half court that he needs help.

Contrary to Riley, the Zen Master, with his books, movies, meditations and alternative approach is what might help heal Lebron off the court and Jackson’s triangle, share and move without the ball offense, might be the thing that redeems him on it.

Jackson has led tormented superstars to the promised land three times. Jordan, Shaq, Kobe, and Kobe a second time after Shaq and Jackson left the Lakers and they fell off the map and failed to make the playoffs. It is a road Jackson has traveled and succeeded on over and over again, more so than Riley.

When they win, Pat still gets the credit for being the executive that brought all the talent together and for having the ego strength to bring in Jackson. For all the unrest in Heat land right now, imagine the instant calm that would ensue if it were announced that Phil Jackson was putting his fishing rod down and taking his Zen to South Beach.

Published by Jeff Schubert

Jeff Schubert is the Host/Executive Producer of the show Filmnut that airs on thestream.tv. Each webisode provides an in-depth interview about the making, marketing, or distribution of film, TV or new media…

LeBron Hits A Home Run With Return To Cleveland

LebronCleveland

I’ve been hard on LeBron James in the past. I wasn’t a fan of how he left the Cleveland Cavaliers with “the decision”, and I thought it took him out of the conversation of all time greatest.

Mind you, prior to his leaving Cleveland I was a big fan of LeBron’s. And as big of a Michael Jordan fan as I am, for the first time, I thought one of the so-called heir apparents, LBJ, actually had a chance to eclipse MJ. So, while I wasn’t in the burning jerseys crowd, and I did think Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert went too far in his letter in response to the decision, I was feeling some sports hate (not to be confused with actual hate), for LeBron.

But his return to the  Cleveland Cavaliers and his letter on Sports Illustraded.Com has me feeling the sports love (not to be confused with actual love) for LeBron. He opened himself up, shared honestly, took the high road in looking past Gilbert’s letter, and took ownership for his owns actions.

One of LeBron’s biggest cheerleaders, ESPN’s Colin Cowherd, says it is now as if “the decision” never happened. I can’t go that far. From the point of view of how he handled the decision, yes, that part I can mostly agree with. It is officially time to move on from that aspect of it. (I have always tried to go by the saying, forgive don’t forget, learn don’t regret)

However, I still think his leaving Cleveland and needing Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat, champions prior to his arrival, to get over the hump, takes him out of the Jordan conversation. Colin will point out that Jordan never won until Scottie Pippen arrived. But the point Colin leaves out is that Pippen never won without Jordan as D. Wade did without James.

The leadership, the dual press conferences, Wade being a closer, these are things Jordan didn’t need from Pippen that helped LeBron grow as a player on and off the court.

I still think had LeBron never left Cleveland he was physically talented enough to lead them to a championship, but perhaps needed to grow mentally. And the truth is, by his own admission, he has. And that is a good thing. Besides, there are more important things in life than being the best of all time in basketball. And there is nothing wrong with being just one of the best. Even his most ardent haters can’t take that away from him.

Haters and cynics may cling to arguments like, well if the Heat were better positioned, if Wade wasn’t on his downside, if Cleveland didn’t have Kyrie Irving and a good foundation, or if there was a better option with another team, blah, blah, blah he wouldn’t have come back. All that is irrelevant. Bottom line is LeBron, as the most powerful man in the game, had all the choices in the world. He could have:

  • Went on a ring hunt, and joined teams like the Chicago Bulls.
  • He could have taken a two-year deal with a one year opt out to see how Miami retooled.
  • Or taken a similar deal to play with the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony (someone he has allegedly always wanted to play with).   And made max money in a year.

He could have done any of the above and more and still returned to Cleveland in the future. But he chose to go home now. He chose to take the high road with his former owner and see things from his and the fans perspective. He chose to do what was best for his family (something many say but do not follow through on). He chose a young team with promising talent but far from a guarantee of a championship.

I hope it doesn’t come easy, and that he and Cleveland have to work their way through it. Like Jordan’s Bulls had to do it with the Detroit Pistons, but it would be a nice story to see James lead Cleveland to a championship.

 

Why LeBron James Should Take Less Than A Max Deal

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LeBron James has stated that in free agency this time around  he wants a maximum salary deal. On the one hand, LeBron is clearly worth max money. He is currently the best player in the NBA and he brings value to a franchise as far as chances of winning a championship and marketing. However, given the restrictions of the NBA salary cap and LBJ’s desire to accumulate rings and build on his legacy, LeBron should be among the first to take a cut in pay and not the last.

As the saying goes, there is no “I” in team. Good luck winning an NBA championship alone. Do elite players deserve to earn more? Of course they do. But three, four, five, ten, twenty times as much? No, they don’t. Not when it hurts the team’s chances of building a successful team because one or two players eat up so much money towards the cap.

The LeBron James’ of the world, the Kevin Durants, and Carmelo Anthonys, they stand to gain the most from winning a championship. Both from a legacy point of view, and from a financial, marketing and endorsement point of view. They should be the ones making the financial “sacrifice” to bring in the pieces necessary to win.  Not the other way around.

Recently it was reported that Michael Jordan’s net worth eclipsed one billion dollars. I don’t think former Bulls teammates, Horace Grant’s, Dennis Rodman’s or Toni Kukoc’s portfolio is anywhere close to that.

It’s not just his game, but the six rings Jordan’s teams won that have him spoken about (deservedly) as the greatest of all time and being on the Mount Rushmore of basketball. A place LeBron fancies himself being a part of.  The winning (along with his MJ’s charisma) provided the platform for his success outside of playing.

It was only his last few seasons with the Bulls that Jordan finally became the highest paid player.  Something he never made a fuss over or seemed to care much about.  True, he was under contract, however, he could have easily held out.  It is likely he saw the bigger picture.

Well, what is that worth to you LeBron? Sacrificing a few million a season off your playing salary now could mean:

  1. More money in endorsements
  2. Matching or surpassing Jordan in rings
  3. And a place on basketball’s Mount Rushmore later.

And by “sacrificing” a few million a season, you will still be making far more than most (if not all). And by winning more championships you’ll likely recoup that money in endorsements.

Star players shouldn’t think of taking less than a max deal as a sacrifice, rather as an investment that can pay monetary and personal dividends. LBJ took a little less to play with Miami these last four years; it is safe to say that investment paid off for him.

Today, Miami Heat President Pat Riley met and pitched Luol Deng. Deng is capable of being a key piece on a championship team. How much money is he going to make in endorsements if the Heat win again? Is he going to make the hall of fame? Be on Mt Rushmore some day? Cumulatively make money anywhere in the same zip code of LBJ? No, no, and no. So I don’t blame him if the report is true that he is not interested in taking a pay cut.

The other free agent players the Miami Heat were thinking about or have targeted, Kyle Lowry, Anthony Morrow, Trevor Ariza, etc. Who do you think the extra money is more important to?

Bill Wennington, B.J. Armstrong, Luc Longley, Craig Hodges, and Scott Williams. Any of these names ring bell? They are all also former players on Jordan’s Bulls team that won championships.

Ten years from now how many people are going to remember that Mario Chalmers was the point guard for the Heat? We know LeBron’s family is going to be fine in ten years, players like Chalmers need to get what they can now.

If a sub marquis players wants to take a pay cut to live in a certain city or because they like their current team and want to give them a home team discount, that is always up to them. And if they wants to do it to win a championship? Great. But there should never be pressure on these players to do it. Let the legacy chasers take the cut.

 

Why It’s A Bigger Deal When LeBron James Flops or Dwyane Wade Is “Dirty”

NBA: Playoffs-Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers

Fair or not we expect more from superstars.  Love’em or hate’em, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are stars of the highest order.  (Albeit Wade is past his prime).  We tend to exaggerate their successes and failures.

Another way we judge players of all sports is in how they play the game.  Playing the game, “the right way”, or “the way it is supposed to be played” are two common expressions of coaches and players meant to validate:

  • Hard-nosed play.
  • Physical play.
  • All out effort.
  • Honest way of playing.

True there is also a sports expression that states, “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.”  But that best represents a sentiment from a pre-social media era.  With drug testing, digital technology, and the traditional media no longer in the back pocket of the games, players simply cannot get away with the things they did years ago.

Technically, since flopping is now a fine-able offense, you can say it qualifies as cheating.  And as much as we don’t like cheating, we like it even less when stars do it.  See the reaction when a player like Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens gets suspected of using steroids versus someone like Melky Cabrera actually testing positive for something.

Hypothetically, if a 45-year-old knuckleball pitcher named Phil Niekro got busted for doctoring up a baseball that would be viewed one way.  If Clemens did it?  It would be stop the presses and call into question everything he ever accomplished.  Again, we expect more from superstars.  This is not entirely new.

We admire greatness but feel betrayed by it when it looks to cheat, or for lack of a better word, a weasely advantage.  It was one thing for Vlade Divac or Derek Fisher to be floppers for the Los Angeles Lakers.  It would be another if Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal or Kobe Bryant were habitual floppers.  Just wouldn’t feel right.

LeBron refers to it as a legit strategy.  Forgetting for a moment that it is now a fine-able offense, so is bunting a runner to third base in a critical late game situation in baseball.  If a pitcher or even a leadoff hitter like Brett Gardener does so, we’re excited, but if Alex Rodriguez or Albert Pujols did that in their prime, it would not be greeted with the same enthusiasm.  Plaques aren’t built for bunt sacrifices and floppers.

jordanutahIt was much more satisfying watching the Chicago Bulls win games on Michael Jordan clutch shooting as opposed to if he flopped to draw an offense foul.  MJ, Magic, Bird, Russell, they weren’t known as floppers.  Lebron, do you want that attached to your resume?

Now let’s look at hard fouls/ cheap and or dirty play.  Unless you’re talking about the 80’s bad boy Detroit Pistons led by Isiah Thomas, at best that is a role player function.  Kurt Rambis of the Magic Johnson Lakers, Dennis Rodman with Michael Jordan’s Bulls, and Bruce Bowen for earlier versions of Tim Duncan’s San Antonio Spurs are examples.

dwadeelbowIf Duncan fouled people or executed the cheap shots that Bowen did it would be a bigger deal.  As it is now with seemingly nice guy Dwyane Wade who is slowly building a resume of questionable plays.  Because of his nice guy persona he has enjoyed the benefit of the doubt, but elbows, like the one he threw in game three against Indiana’s Lance Stephenson are starting to add up.

For reasons already well documented, fans already root for the Miami Heat and their not five, not six, not seven proclamation to fail.  Flopping and dirty play only gives them two more reasons to root for them to lose, and minimize them if they win.

As players, James and Wade do so many things the right way and are so talented, they shouldn’t need to flop and or cheap shot to win.

It’s fine for people to trot out the old cliché about only remembering the winner… But with Twitter, Youtube and Facebook, that is not as true as it used to be.

Memo to Commissioner Stern:  Kudos for instituting a fine for flopping, but increase it.

 

Correcting ESPN’s Colin Cowherd Again

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It this week’s edition of correcting ESPN’s Colin Cowherd, the subject is Los Angeles Laker coach Mike D’Antoni.  On his radio show simulcast on ESPNU, this past Monday, the Herd wanted to make the case that going forward D’Antoni was the wrong coach for Lakers.  And more specifically he’s wrong for Laker center and now free agent Dwight Howard.

This is a fair and debatable topic that I have no problem with.  I can understand both points of view.  In fact I recently wrote a blog that the Lakers, New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder might be haunted by not hiring Phil Jackson.

durantanthonyI would also take Kevin Durant over Carmelo Anthony.  Doesn’t mean Anthony isn’t a great basketball player.

Where the Herd went wrong is when he went all “shock jock” and started talking out of his rear-end slamming D’Antoni.  His over the top rant was that D’Antoni always under performed as a head coach in the playoffs.

This is absurd.  Two minutes of fact checking disproves this.  There is no reason for The Herd not to know this.

So let’s look at the facts.  Mike D’Antoni inherited a terrible team, mid-season, when he was the coach of the Phoenix Suns.  He was 20-41 in 2003/04.  He went on to coach for four full seasons.  How did the Suns do in the playoffs in those years?

  • 2004-5:   They lose in the Western Conference Finals to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs. (Who beat the defending champion Detroit Pistons.)
  • 2005-6: They lose in the Western Conference Finals to the higher seeded Dallas Mavericks.
  • 2006-7: They lose in the Western Conference Semi-Finals to the eventual NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.   This is the year where Robert Horry gave Steve Nash a cheap shot in front of Phoenix’s bench that led to some suspensions of player’s like Amar’e Stoudemire.  The Spurs also won a game in this series thanks to a Tim Duncan three-point shot sending the game into O.T.  Not exactly a failure of strategy.
  • 2007-8:  Lost in the first round to the higher seeded San Antonio Spurs.
nash-horry

Robert Horry hip checks Steve Nash in the closing seconds of a playoff game where the outcome was no longer in doubt.

Saying D’Antoni always under performed because he primarily couldn’t get by Gregg Popovich and the Spurs dynasty is like saying Pat Riley under performed as head coach of the Knicks because NY couldn’t get past Phil Jackson and the Bulls.

Which series, specifically, did D’Antoni under perform Herd?  Hhmm??

Yes Colin, D’Antoni did have two-time MVP Steve Nash.  But not many would make the argument he was the best player in the game.  In fact many made the argument that Shaquille O’Neal deserved the MVP  one of those years.  But no doubt Nash was great.  You know who else is great Herd?  Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

In New York, D’Antoni inherited a team that was in massive salary cap dump mode to clear room to try to lure Lebron James as a free agent.  Between roster turnover, injury, and the lockout, it is hard to slam D’Antoni for his one first round playoff loss to the Boston Celtics while in NY.

In L.A… He is hired after the start of the season.  So no training camp.  Pau Gasol misses significant time due to injury.  Steve Nash misses time due to injury including some playoff games.  Kobe Bryant misses the playoffs.  Dwight Howard isn’t fully recovered from back surgery, and tears a labrum in his shoulder.  Metta-World-Peace has knee surgery during the season.

This is just part of the Laker’s laundry list of things that went wrong this season.  And as a seventh seed they lose to D’Antoni’s old nemesis the San Antonio Spurs.  Is this a clear example of under performing?

Whether it is Phil Jackson or anyone else Herd, if you want to make a case for a different coach make it.  But don’t slander a coach and misrepresent the record.  You might be able to make a point about a D’Antoni team under performing in a season or two but always? Not even close.

And as I have stated when talking about your assaults on Michael Jordan when deifying Lebron James, you have three hours, five days a week, so you do have time to get stories right.

The reasons he doesn’t?   The choices are:

  • He and his production team are incompetent.
  • They’re negligent.
  • He has a vendetta against D’Antoni.
  • He is a shock jock for ratings and doesn’t care whose career or reputation he might hurt.

You’re good enough without this Colin.  You should clean it up.

Why Michael Jordan Would Crush LeBron James In A One-On-One

***The blog below was originally posted on 2/14/13 on: http://sportsnuthub.com/   The site is no longer up so I am re-posting on my personal blog.

Michael Jordan excepting an NBA all-star MVP award.

Michael Jordan excepting an NBA all-star MVP award.

Wow, since I wrote my recent blog about ESPN’s Colin Cowherd’s insane mission to tear down Michael Jordan while building up LeBron James, (Click Here), the Herd has only become more obsessed with the subject.  Today, I heard him talk about the prospects of the two playing in a one on one.  He talked about a majority of fans saying Michael would win.  The Herd dismisses this as fans liking Michael more than LeBron.

ESPN radio and TV personality Colin Cowherd

ESPN radio and TV personality Colin Cowherd

He suggests we take the emotion out of it, and he poses this question: “what if I asked you who would win in a one on one between person “A” and person “B”?  Person A is bigger, faster, stronger, and oh by the way a better ball handler”.  (Nice sarcasm Herd.  Is sarcasm an emotion?)  Of course, person A in this fantasy example is LeBron James.

The Herd also states on many occasions LeBron is a better rebounder and passer than Michael.  (Though he still claims to think Jordan is the better player.)

Here is the problem with the Herd’s “A” and “B” scenario.  He leaves out a big part of what makes Jordan, Jordan.  Even if I cede all of the Herd’s other points, lets now say player B is more clutch, handles pressure better, and has more intangibles.  And just to be clear, player B is Jordan!

If the one on one were played in a local YMCA, with nobody watching, I would give LeBron a chance.  I’d still take Jordan, but LeBron might be able to keep it close.  If the hypothetical match-up were held in prime-time, on national TV, and on a neutral site like Madison Square Garden in New York, or the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Jordan would win easily.

From his sometimes disappearances late in playoff games, late game free throw shooting percentage (and his hesitancy to go to rim late in games because of free throws), and never hitting a walk off shot, his abilities here are far from elite.  LeBron is unquestionably awesome, but that type of pressure is not his thing.  He certainly doesn’t measure up to Jordan in this category.

Further, LeBron has never entered an NBA dunking contest in his career.

lebron_dunkThis doesn’t make sense considering his ability and desire to build a billion dollar global brand.  Something dominating a dunking contest could have helped.  I can only speculate that he weighed the risk of losing as outweighing the gain of winning.  What other stars of his caliber, ability, and name, have passed on the contest their entire career?  I don’t think he could take the pressure to win despite the fact he would have been a worthy favorite.

True, it is fair to say the book is still open on LeBron, as his career is in progress, but any inference he could take Michael in a one on one now is premature.

I’m going to end this blog with an example comic book fans might enjoy.  The Incredible Hulk and The Thing, (from The Fantastic Four), are two or Marvel Comics physically strongest characters.

Hulk_Vs_ThingThey fight a lot.  The Hulk always wins.  (At least back in my collecting days). However, there was one storyline where their minds switched bodies, and in this issue, The Thing, with the Hulk’s mind, won the fight.  The moral of the story is The Thing always had the physical tools, but lacked the mental abilities, whether it was courage, belief in himself, ability to handle pressure, or smarts, etc., to beat the Hulk.

Staring each other down in their prime, I know Michael would have the belief, down to the core of his being, he could win.  He would easily handle the pressure.  Do you think LeBron would have that same belief and be able to handle the pressure just as well?  I don’t.

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Update:  Here is who Magic Johnson thinks would win between Michael and LeBron.  (Hint, the Herd might not want to read) Click here.

 

Randy Moss Over Jerry Rice? Lebron James Over Michael Jordan? Eric Gagne Over Mariano Rivera?

***The blog below was originally posted on 2/11/13 on: http://sportsnuthub.com/   The site is no longer up so I am re-posting on my personal blog.

There Is A  Difference Between “Being The Best”, And “At His Best”.

moss-riceDuring the run up to the 2013 super bowl there was a minor brew ha ha created when Randy Moss stated he was the greatest receiver of all time.

Many of ESPN’s talking heads lined up against the current San Francisco 49er wideout, Moss, in order to side with past 49er great, Jerry Rice, as the GOAT at wide receiver.  One who did not was ESPN’s Skip Bayless, who would not only take Moss over Rice, but also former Dallas Cowboy, Michael Irvin.

When I consider the best of all time in any sport, the questions I ask myself is: if I was starting a team, who would I want to be the guy, the franchise player, and the face of the franchise for the next ten or more years?  Of all the receivers I have seen play, that answer is Jerry Rice.

When you combine all of the skills of a wide receiver, Rice was great and near the top in every category that matters.  He had no weaknesses to his game.  Then you factor in longevity, leadership, and professionalism, it can’t be anyone but Rice.

When you think of Moss at his peak, you think of great speed, leaping ability and hands.  You do not think of route running or going across the middle.  You do think of taking plays off, quitting on his team, and being a distraction.  As great as he was, those negatives are part of who he has been and part of the package.

Bayless stated he would take Moss’ six peak years over Rice’s.  There may be some debate there (although I still want Rice).  And I’m sure you can find other receiver’s with great individual seasons here and there that were better than Rice’s. (See Calvin Johnson, a.k.a. Megatron.) In those cases maybe you can have discussions about who was better at their best.  But better at their best is a different argument then better for career or of all time.

jordan-james

For example, contrary to Colin Cowherd’s weekly on-air rants on ESPN, Lebron James is far from Michael Jordan career wise.

But James might, and I do want to emphasize might, be knocking on the door of “at his best”. (See my earlier blog post for a more in-depth comparison or MJ and LBJ and where I ask why does Cowherd hate Michael Jordan… here)

In major league baseball there are closers that have great seasons.  Eric Gagne had arguably the best two-year stretch of any closer.  The year the Boston Red Sox broke the curse and won the World Series in 2004, Keith Folke was fantastic in the playoffs.  Brian Wilson a few years back for San Francisco.  Eric Gagne, Keith Folke and Brian Wilson are not better than the New York Yankees’ Mariano Rivera, and none are in the discussion of best closer of all-time.

Finally, in tennis, Novak Djokovic has a little ways to go to be in the conversation of best player of all time with Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Rafael Nadal.   However, it may not be too early to put him in the, “at his best conversation”.  His 2011 season was arguably the best of all time and he backed it up finishing number one in 2012.

Randy Moss is an all time great.  Arguably the best at his best, just do not confuse that as the best of all time.

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About the Author

Jeff Schubert

Formally the host/executive producer of the live web show Filmnut, http://thestream.tv/filmnut, Jeff Schubert now turns his research and writing abilities to sports. In the last couple of years, Schubert started a sports blog on Yahoo and WordPress.  Schubert grew up in New York City where he became a fan of the empire (N.Y Yankees) at an early age. The New York Football Giants would soon become his favorite team lead by his favorite athlete, Phil Simms. His favorite sports are Pro football, baseball, basketball, and tennis. As a blogger, Schubert is no homer. Nor does he just stick to writing about players and teams. Like many other fan of sports, the arrogance the blowhards on TV and radio display gets on his nerves. They think they know more then they really do and they need to be held accountable… And then God said let there be a blogosphere!