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November 6, 2009

The NY Yankees Are The Champions!!! But NYC Throws LeBron James A Party?

Yankees Parade Baseball  The New York courtship of LeBron James began in earnest when the scheduling gods curiously put his only appearance at Madison Square Garden on the same day as the Yankees’ World Series victory parade.

NY Yankee 5 Hideki Matsui  If you believe in conspiracy theories, then this is right up there with the “chilled” envelope pulled by David Stern in the 1985 Draft lottery, putting Patrick Ewing in New York. You mean LeBron, a die-hard Yankees fan, gets an up-close look while the city is being painted in pinstripes? Is there a better marketing opportunity?

Is this better than anything Madison Avenue could dream up?

Yankees Parade Baseball  The Knicks hope the intoxicating celebrity factor will be enough to sway LeBron next summer as a free agent, because that’s all the Knicks really have in their favor. They can’t offer more money. They can’t offer a better collection of teammates, at least not right away. They can offer Spike Lee while Cleveland offers Drew Carey. They can (and will, you watch) get Spike and Chris Rock, among other celebrity row fixtures, to make a recruiting film in which famous people explain to LeBron why playing in New York will be far more enjoyable than playing in Cleveland.

(Sample pitch from Rock: “Hey LeBron, where you celebratin’ after a tough game in Cleveland? Arby’s?”)

NY Yankees Derek Jeter Trophy  A handful of the Yankees, still smelling of champagne, will be strategically seated at courtside Friday, making LeBron the second-most loved athlete in the house … if Derek Jeter shows up.

Yankees Parade Baseball  Then there’s C.C. Sabathia, big basketball fan and friend of LeBron’s from when Sabathia played in Cleveland; he left for New York and scored an instant jackpot, both with money and a ring. The video screen will constantly show their faces and they’ll get a standing ovation, all designed to show LeBron what it’s like to be a champion in New York. And the fans, no doubt, will chime in, cheering LeBron at warmups (like, who else will they cheer this year?), gushing whenever he does something spectacular and chanting “MVP,” as they did last year, when he dropped 52 on the Knicks.

World Series Yankees Baseball  All this will play to LeBron’s ego and convince him that a star of his magnitude needs to be in New York. That theory, by the way, is obsolete. Maybe 20-25 years ago, a star could receive better perks in New York, as Reggie Jackson did when he left the small market A’s. But with the global media and advertising of today, that’s not really necessary. LeBron blew up commercially without ever leaving Cleveland, and that will continue to be the case if he stays in Cleveland.

NY Yankees 5 A Rod J Z  Obviously, the big factor for LeBron is collecting championships and whether his best chance is in Cleveland with a Cavs’ team that’s probably third-best behind Boston and Orlando and lacks a starry supporting cast, or a Knicks team being furiously stripped and rebuilt on the fly. The Knicks hope it also comes down to the stars and whether LeBron wants to hang with his buddy Jay-Z after the game, or retire to his palatial pad in Cleveland and call it a night.

That’ll be LeBron’s decision to make next July. And guess what? The Yankees should be in first place then, too.

Friday, November 6 @ 8pm EST on ESPN Cleveland Cavaliers at New York Knicks!

June 4, 2009

NBA Finals: Lakers Have The Hunger And Desire!

Celtics Lakers Basketball

Why I think the LA Lakers are going to win the NBA championship

This is not disrespect to the Orlando Magic in anyway – they have been exemplary and have knocked out some great teams to get to the dance and I expect them to give the Lakers a run for their money. 

This is simply about hunger, desire and Kobe.

In 2006 the Miami Heats beat the Dallas Mavericks because of pure hunger and desire. The Heat team was put together to win a championship and there were four members on the team who were starving, ravenous and famished for the championship.

  1. Shaquille O’Neal – the scorned center who was looking to stick it to the LA Lakers for trading him after he had led them to three championships
  2. Alonzo Mourning – who had just recovered from a kidney ailment and probably saw this as his last chance to win a ring
  3. Coach Pat Riley – this was possibly his last opportunity to win another ring
  4. Dwyane Wade – the up and coming rising star young who was ready to fully break free of the shadow of the players in his draft class who were selected ahead of him.

In 2008 the Boston Celtics were predatory, voracious and gluttonous for the championship.

Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen saw this as their trip to the big dance and they weren’t going to waste their trip; they were in it to win it.

  1. Pierce pretty much came out of a wheelchair to help Boston win a game
  2. Ray Allen made shots like the devil himself was after him  despite the illness to his young son
  3. And who can forget Kevin Garnett kissing the floor and crying after he finally got his first title.

That was some serious, stomach-aching starvation that played out in the 2008 finals.

The XY and Z factor to me is Kobe Bryant. He has won three championships with Shaquille O’Neal but now wants to move into a different echelon of all-time greats by winning as the indisputable leader of a title team. Bryant desperately wants that, no matter how grumpy he gets when asked about it.

Plus Bryant is 30 and this could be his last and best shot at winning another title. There is only so long that he can continue to hold off some the league’s younger stars who themselves are hungry.

Coach Phil Jackson has won nine championships and is desperately seeking a 10th.  Even though he downplays that passing the great Red Auerbach is a goal, by winning another ring with a team that he helped build up from the lottery would be VERY rewarding. That combined with his declining health, Jackson may not have many more opportunities to get back to this position.

Plus the fight to make it to the finals has toughened up the rest of the Lakers. The team now has a full grasp of what to expect in the finals and they are unified by the common purpose of getting the job done.

That is why I picked the Lakers in six.

June 2, 2009

NBA Finals: Superman Will Meet The Black Mamba

Disclaimer – I am a Kobe fan and want to see him win number 4!

lakers

The Black Mamba is the perfect nickname for number 24, Kobe Bryant. He is a basketball assassin; a stealthy predator that can strike at any given moment. He possesses both a venomous skill set, and near-unrivaled speed in the NBA. He is a shutdown defender that stalks his prey. Kobe is the scariest guy in the NBA – he is a lethal weapon! Kobe’s nickname is so v-e-r-y appropriate.

The Black Mamba is one of Africa’s most dangerous and feared snakes. It is known for being very aggressive when disturbed or confronted and will not hesitate to strike with deadly precision. The black mamba is the largest venomous snake in Africa and the second longest venomous snake in the world after the King Cobra. The Black Mamba is also the fastest land snake in the world and uses its speed to escape danger. 

Since most of us knows Kobe’s stats and there are thousands of articles written about our one-name superstar I’m not going to delve into his accomplishments; just watch him play and you’ll understand why I love his game.

Dwight Howard Slam Dunk

I also really, really like Superman, D12, Dwight Howard. He’s earned his way to the big show and once the finals begin Thursday at the Staples Center our 23 year young superhero will get the greatest national exposure of his rapidly increasing pro career and his best opportunity yet to reach the rarefied superstar status of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. 

Howard has excelled on the court, and he has shown us his great charisma and personality and we can’t forget the forever present gleam in Superman’s eyes and his 1,000 mega watt smile. He is also very mature and is not an egocentric personality.  I remember during this year’s slam-dunk competition on All-Star weekend when he agreed to allow his main opponent 5 foot 9 Nate Robinson (NY Knicks) to use him as a prop to dunk the ball (see video below).  Howard inevitably knew that if Robinson jumped over him, Robinson would win the contest even though Howard was in the lead at the time.  Howard put on his Superman cape and allowed Robinson to jump over him; Robinson won and Howard was really very happy for Robinson and even gave Robinson a chest bump.  Howard is a class act.  

D12 has elevated his playing status, showed us his great personality and has made himself very marketable.  Soon Nike and Vitamin water will be calling — if they haven’t already. 

As a sports fan I am proud and happy to see two young men who are family-oriented, well-mannered and respectable representing us in the East and West. These are two young men who can serve as great inspirations for up and coming NBA hopefuls.

The finals will be a fight but a fight I will enjoy watching.  I hope Kobe gets ring number 4 – he has worked hard for it – but I will have a smile on my face if Superman gets his first.

Finals, game 1 – Thursday, June 4 @9pm EST on ABC

Watch Nate Robinson (NY Knicks) dunk over Superman Dwight Howard!

Kobe ‘baptizes’ Dwight Howard his rookie year:

Dwight Howard’s workout:

 

May 21, 2009

NBA Playoffs: Magic Dust Beats Chalk Dust

The game started with Superman Dwight Howard’s dunk bringing down the goal — literally — and the crowd in the “Q” oohed and aahed.  It seems like Howard doesn’t know his personal strength but Team Magic proved that it is strong enough to take down the Cavaliers.

When the game started the Cavs had all the momentum.  They have only lost two games at home all season, they had won their first eight playoff games – they seemed ready to sweep everyone out of their way to being champions.  They came out firing on all cylinders right from the get-go and dominated the Magic for most of the first three quarters. LeBron and the entire team seemed focused, forceful and fierce. They seemed invincible. The referees seemed to even help the Cavs at times by giving them calls that should have gone the other way.  This seemed like it would be an easy victory and the Cavs would blow the Magic out of the water.

LeBron had a terrific game – he was simply awesome but he alone cannot beat a team that can get really hot at anytime during the game because of their 3-point shooters. James even broke his career playoff high – he scored 49 points but his bench did little to help him offensively. For most of the second half it looked like the Cavaliers of old — they gave the ball to LeBron and watched him hold the ball for 20 seconds then shoot. That strategy won’t work against the Orlando Magic.

Coach Van Gundy strategy of putting Mickael Pietrus (who did a GREAT job) on James allowed Hedo Turkoglu to put more energy in his offense and he ended up with 15 points and 14 assists. In addition Zydrunas Ilgauskus is a terrible matchup for the young Super-strong Howard who had a sensational game and ended the night with 30 points and 13 rebounds. Illgaukus is too old and slow to defend Howard in the paint or guard Lewis and Turkoglu on the pick and roll. The Cavs weren’t able to get back in transition and seemed totally unprepared when the Magic kicked-out for threes off the fast break. Rashard Lewis had a terrific game and ended the night with 22 points.

Turkoglu and Lewis combined for 21 of Orlando’s 29 points in the fourth quarter and Lewis buried the game winning 3-pointer with 14.7 seconds remaining!

The “Q” crowd started the game oohing and aahing but filed out of the Quicken Loans Arena stunned and silent.

Game 2 tips off on Friday at 8:30pm ET on TNT.

May 18, 2009

NBA Playoffs: Will We See a Kobe/LeBron Final?

Kobe LeBron 2  There should be no political correctness during the playoffs and that’s the way it should remain.  Supporters should not hide their love for their favorite teams.  I understand players being diplomatic because they don’t want to provide fodder that will annoy, irritate or anger their opponents.  But I’m not a player so I don’t have to be genteel.  

I’m simply a fan who loves basketball and I want to see a Kobe/LeBron final.  I specifically didn’t say Kobe versus LeBron or LeBron versus Kobe. Simply a Kobe/LeBron final. I want to see a modern day gladiatorial style sports battle. 

No disrespect to the Magic or Nuggets but I hope Team Kobe and Team LeBron bounce you out of the way – quickly.

I am not completely delusional; I do know that both the LeBron Cavaliers and the Kobe Lakers face teams that could in fact maybe possibly beat them.

Kobe LeBron 1

Yes, the Denver Nuggets swept through their first two rounds and the Lakers had to go to a game 7 in their second round. But the Lakers are consummate warriors and I believe that they will come out to battle every night against the Nuggets.  I think their every-other-game lackadaisical play against Houston is a thing of the past and taught the Lakers a lesson about public perception and they now have something to prove so they will come out with crazed passion and fervor!

So, can the Nuggets get pass the Lakers who have home court advantage?

There is also the really, really far-flung possibility that Orlando might come out roaring and magically upset Cleveland’s chances of going to the finals buuut NOT so much.  I have heard from a not so reliable source that Team Magic is spending today in Church and lighting candles for St. Christopher, the patron saint of sports because in order to win this series Orlando will have to win at least two close games and win at least one game, maybe two, in Cleveland.  I don’t think that will happen.

Kobe LeBron 3 

A Kobe/LeBron showdown between these two friends is what most of us want to see but our gifted athletes have to defeat some great teams to get to the finals, so go ahead and freely and unapologetically root for the Lakers or Cavaliers.  But as always the human factor will come into play: 

Which team will remain healthy?

Which team has the mental strength to put the living fear in their opponent? 

Which team is faster, stronger and wiser?

Watch the hilarious Nike commericals below:  🙂

March 27, 2009

LeBron James “RIDICULOUS” Half Court Shot – 60 Minutes

Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes interviewed King James for this week’s broadcast.  While they walked the court at the King’s old high school in Akron, Ohio James bounced a basketball. “Are you going to do anything with this?” asks Kroft.

Before Kroft barely finishes the sentence, James nonchalantly flips the ball underhanded at the backcourt hoop about 60 feet away and SWISH!!! — Nothing but net!

“You got it?” asks a smiling James to the cameraman.

“How many times can you do that in a row? asks a dazzled Kroft. “I’m one take, baby, that’s all. I’m just one take,” laughed James.

Watch the full interview this Sunday, March 29 at 7pm EST on CBS.

March 23, 2009

Basketball: Is LeBron James Leaving The Cavs?

Why is LeBron teasing us?!

james-wade-3 Sunday night in a pregame interview at the Nets’ Izod Center (Cavs 96/Nets 88) the subject of the rivalry between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade came up.  It was mentioned that they’ll never match up in an NBA Finals if one of them doesn’t switch conferences after the 2010 free agent market period.

james-wade-1  “It doesn’t matter — whatever happens, we’ll go against each other,” James replied. “Maybe we’ll go against each other in practice. That would be fine.”  What the heck does that mean??? Is LeBron saying that he and Dwyane will be in the same conference soon enough? 

Will Dwyane Wade go to Cleveland?

Will Wade and James both go to the Knicks?

james-wade This is the kind of cavalier chatter that will cause Cleveland fans to freak and Knicks fans to wish upon a star.  But in reality, why would LeBron leave the Cavs?  Everything in Cleveland is created with him in mind – in reality he IS King James of Cleveland.  If King James won’t go to the mountain, maybe the mountain will go to Cleveland.

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