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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 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:  🙂

February 2, 2009

LeBron James – The World’s Greatest Basketball Player SCHOOLS GQ Staffers

lebron2  My nine year old nephew Elijah (a H-U-G-E Kobe fan!) will vehemently disagree with the title of this post.  But Elijah, Auntie is merely using GQ’s words. 

I LOVE GQ magazine.  Even though it’s a “men’s” magazine I rarely miss a month.  This is a well written piece that had me living vicariously through the “GQ 6” and it had me chuckling to the end.  I’m with my nephew – I think Kobe is totally awesome, but so is LeBron :-).

Six pale, earthbound desk jockeys from GQ challenged the greatest basketball player on earth, also known as LeBron James, to a game of basketball at the time and place of his choosing. Unfortunately, the challenge was accepted

In retrospect, obviously, it was too good to be true, but in the grip of the fantasy we didn’t see it that way. We spent long stretches of our workdays talking about how there are five of us and only one of him, or how Trent and Will are nearly as tall as he is, or how one man, I don’t care if he is the greatest basketball player on earth, can only cover so much ground. It’s not like he’s a Transformer.

Andy, our executive editor/player-coach/liaison to LeBron’s publicist and the Cavaliers’ PR folks, sent us the following e-mail in late November: “It is on. Team GQ will be traveling from New York City to Cleveland, Ohio (in a van, make and model to be determined), on Sunday, December 7. We will be playing LeBron James, five-on-one, at 1 p.m. on Monday, December 8, at the Cavs practice facility. I repeat: It. Is. ON.”

The predictable flurry of YouTube clips soon followed—LeBron dunking from the free-throw line, LeBron blocking a shot by Chris Duhon all the way out to half-court, LeBron taking flight from ten feet out and throwing down a dunk of such unrestrained fury over Damon Jones that it will forever be the most memorable moment of Jones’s NBA career. Again, Andy via e-mail: “If we’re lucky, he’ll just jump over us, and we won’t suffer the indignity of taking his junk square in the face.”

But then Adam started in with the X’s and O’s—how we need to force LeBron left, how three-pointers are his Achilles’ heel, and how he, Adam Rapoport, style editor at Gentlemen’s Quarterly and occasional wearer of skinny white jeans, was prepared to take the charge if LeBron drove into the lane. Over the next week or so, as plans solidified (we would be driving to Cleveland not in a van but in an Escalade, a hybrid Escalade!), the delusional chatter continued. There was even talk at one point of “allowing” him a teammate—one of his Akron boys, maybe—because five-on-one couldn’t possibly be a game, and it would be kind of embarrassing if we beat him too handily. At the very least, we all agreed (with the exception of Andy, who is always the voice of reason, and Fred, who’s been around longer than the rest of us and possesses a veteran’s hard-earned wisdom): Mr. Chosen One was going to have to work to make it a game. We weren’t driving eight hours to look like a bunch of assclowns.

you can see the Nike billboard from the interstate. LeBron’s massive, striated arms outstretched, a faint halo of chalk dust surrounding him as he gazes skyward. It’s ten stories high and 212 feet wide and dominates the eastern face of the Sherwin-Williams building, which is basically across the street from Quicken Loans Arena, or the Q, where the Cavs play their home games. Last year, federal officials tried to force the city to take it down because it violates the 1965 Highway Beautification Act, which apparently forbids a billboard from being within 660 feet of a major highway. (Technically, the dispute was over a previous version of the banner, an equally stunning if less messianic image of LeBron in midflight, the ball cocked high above his head.) But to his great credit, Ohio’s governor, Ted Strickland, refused to remove the billboard, referring to it as a “beautiful display of commercial art” that the people of Cleveland have the rare and wonderful opportunity to enjoy. He’s got that right. It’s also a bit of a reality check if you happen to be among a group of magazine editors arriving in the frigid city at night and pulling over to the side of the road to take in just how physically awesome the man is whom you’ll be playing against the next day. Let’s just say it makes you question some things.

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June 30, 2008

Olympic Basketball: Dwyane Wade’s e-Diary – What It’s Like to Be an Olympian

  Dwyane Wade will periodically take a behind the scenes look at the U.S. men’s Olympic team from his point-of-view.  Here is his first entry.

Monday, June 30:

Welcome to inside the mind of a 2008 Olympian, Dwyane Wade. I’m speaking of myself in third person, but I want to give you guys the inside track about what’s coming up for the team and how we spent our first weekend together in Vegas.

Now as a U.S. Olympian, you have a lot of obligations to be on time – and I was late for the first team meeting. I was 25 minutes late because I overslept. I had to run a little extra for that and I will make sure I’m on time from now on.

We have a team photo shoot Monday in New York and we did some kind of movie shoot in Vegas where we had to take it back to the early 70s with the poses we did. LeBron (James) was joking the whole time. We couldn’t even stand in a straight line because LeBron was joking, Carmelo (Anthony) was joking and even Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) cracked a couple of jokes. Overall it was lighthearted day, though our first two-hour practice was a good one Saturday.

My knee is feeling good. I went through my first day with the team and did everything everyone else did at practice. I worked hard to be here today. I have been in the gym five days a week since the first week of May – training, rehabbing conditioning, getting my explosion back for you guys and for me. I want to continue to be the player that some of you guys like and some of you fell in love with.

I’m feeling good and ready to go.

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May 29, 2008

NBA Playoffs: Go Lakers!!!

I love the SPURS but I want the Lakers to win!

  The time has finally arrived for NBA MVP Kobe Bryant to rid himself of the label that he can’t win without Shaquille O’Neal by his side.

Bryant has the Los Angeles Lakers on the brink of their first NBA Finals since 2004 when they were slaughtered in five games by the Detroit Pistons – that was Shaq’s final season in Tinsel Town.

For the past several years, especially this year, Kobe Bryant has worked REALLY hard to change his image in a sincere and genuine way. He has done a lot of public service work and a series of good deeds for others. As a player his 81 point game, leading the league in scoring and the Lakers making the playoffs has redeemed him to most fans.

More evidence of his maturation might be found in his decision to change his player number from 8 to 24. The number 8 is the symbol of eternity, the time most teens think they are invincible.  One day at a time, or 24 (Kobe’s current number) hours, is how we usually learn that life is lived when we mature. It’s possible that is the reason Kobe changed his number, though he has said he does not plan to reveal why he selected 24.  

Kobe Bryant really should have been the MVP this year.  Yup, Phil Jackson has made a huge difference and he should get “Coach of the year,” but Kobe Bryant has done everything that a coach and a fan could ask for!

Go Lakers!

 

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