Lebron to Opt Out


31f76-dad2527s2bback2band2bbrought2bhis2bbeltSo LeBron has advised the Heat that he’s going to exercise his early termination clause in his contract and become a free agent.

This is not a surprise. If you’re a Heat fan, you should’ve expected this. The bigger surprise would have been if LBJ opted into the deal. That would’ve been a shocker and bad for business.

In order to “retool” the roster as Pat Riley stated in his rant the other day, the Big 3 all need to opt out and take less money to get better players.

But if the players are going to take less money, owner Mickey Arison has to be willing to venture into the luxury tax zone. The meetings between the Big 3, Riles, and Arison are going to be critical to the Heat’s future.

All of these guys took pay cuts to get guys like Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller on the team. When push came to shove, Arison and Riley cut Miller because Mick didn’t want to pay any luxury tax. If I’m part of the Big 3, LeBron especially, Arison is going to need to assure me that he’s all about winning and not making a profit.

They took pay cuts to win and Mick got cheap and let a key member of the team go in order to save money.

If I’m LeBron, that decision flies in the face of all of the rhetoric Riles was spittin’ the other day about sticking it out and having guts. Don’t talk about family, having guts, and sacrifice when the owner cuts a key player to save some cash.

Arison is going to have to put up or shut up in order to keep this trio together.

In the end, I believe LeBron will stay in Miami and the team will do all possible to build a winner.

But I also never thought LeBron would sit on TV and utter the now infamous phrase “I’m taking my talents to South Beach”, so take that for what you will.

Its all a guess, but I’m guessing the King remains in South Florida, otherwise Heat fans will be falling out on Ocean Drive and not from the alcohol…

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– N.D. Face

 

 

Michael Beasley’s Redemption Song


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There’s nothing more frustrating than wasted talented.

To see someone naturally gifted squander their gift is infuriating. But the most talented among us seem to always get a 2nd and/or 3rd chance, especially athletes.

But at some point, you will run out of chances. Who would’ve thought at age 24, Michael Beasley would be on his last chance at an NBA career.

The former “can’t miss” prospect couldn’t seem to stay away from that herb and was in basketball purgatory.

That is until Pat Riley pulled him off of the Island of Misfit Hoopers and gave him his chance at redemption. So far, the results have been pretty good.

He’s averaging 11ppg’s in only 17 minutes per game, shooting almost 55% from the field, including 53% on 3’s, and if you watch him on the bench, he looks to be having the most fun he’s ever had playing basketball.

The comfort level with his role is growing by the game and he’s starting to flash all of that talent that made him the 2nd overall pick in the draft.

The game is starting to look easy to him again.

Now comes the hard part. Handling success in Miami.

His name is buzzing in the 3-0-5 again. People are even asking if he’s better than Bosh. He’s not, but they’re asking. Inevitably, the Miami nightlife will come beckoning. Calling his name like he’s Pookie from New Jack City

I think the Heat have the structure and leadership he needs to reach his potential. The Big 3, Spo, and Riles are great influences for sure. But being around true professionals like Ray Allen and James Jones, plus having a hard nosed assistant coach like Juwan Howard in his grill daily will do wonders for him.

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So will he stay on the path to basketball salvation or will he have another mug shot and be a candidate for ESPN’s 30 for 30?

What say you?

 

– N.D. Face

MCW Ballin’ On A Budget


I guess Michael Carter-Williams won’t be waking up in a new Bugatti any time soon.

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His management team aka his moms and nem, have his rookie salary being deposited into a trust that he can’t touch for 3 years.

As the father of an infant son, who’ll one day be a lottery pick (hey a brother can dream), I think this is absolutely brilliant!

Think about it. If all goes according to plan, MCW will be eligible for his 1st big contract extension after year 3. He’ll sign his extension for $50-60 mil guaranteed and finally gain access to the millions he stashed away, plus some interest. He’ll be much more mature at that time and having lived a semi-normal lifestyle to that point, he’ll have a greater appreciation of the money, and will be well on his way to financial security for the rest of his life.

It’s really a great idea, kudos to his mom for thinking ahead and making sure her son isn’t in the Broke sequel.

But the South Beach side of me, the poppin’ bottles side of me, the Liv on Sundays side of me, the ballin’ outta control, let’s make it rain on ’em side of me is livid!

3 years?!?! Mom and I would have needed a serious negotiation session. I’m talking fiscal cliff style negotiating.

“3 years?!?! Naw mom, we need to talk. I can’t live off of this $2 million from Nike. I got kids to feed!”…Oops, I accidentally slipped into Spreewell mode for a second, but you get the idea.

Hopefully, this begins a trend of the financially responsible athlete. Investing in their futures, rather than a shiny new Jesus piece or some other gaudy, pointless purchase

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– N.D. Face

Where Brooklyn At???


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Man, what’s going on with the Brooklyn Nets?

Most experts figured they wouldn’t light it up in the regular season, due to the maintenance program that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett would be on. “This team is built for the playoffs” is what everyone was saying, but will they even make the playoffs?

Sitting at 3-10 and currently on a 5-game losing streak, its time to hit the panic button.

There’s a lot of things wrong with this team, but since we all have short attention spans, I’m heading straight to the lead problem…Deron Williams is not a franchise player.

I hate to put all of this on him, but when you’re a max salary player, you get max blame when things go array. Billy King and the front office traded away their future to bring this guy in and build around him. The 1st sign that he wasn’t the one was when he complained about the offense and ended up getting Avery Johnson fired.

The 2nd sign was his inability to beat a shirt handed Chicago Bulls team at home…in the playoffs…in a GAME 7. He needed to step up and lead this team, but he blew it and was outplayed by Mighty Mite Nate Robinson.

The 3rd sign for me is his lack of leadership this year. Jason Kidd was supposed to bring out his A-game and I just havent seen it. I know he’s injured and you can’t do anything about that. But even before he sprained his ankle, I just saw a reluctance to take over games from the guy who was supposed to lead this big named roster past the Miami Heat.

Its like he’s sitting back, waiting for someone else to do what his salary commands that he should do. I’ve said this before, with Max Money comes Max Responsibility.

In order to turn it around, this team needs the D-Will who was in the conversation for best point guard in the game. He needs to put his stamp on this roster and on this organization. Otherwise, they’ll be the NBA equivalent of Dan Snyder’s Washington Redskins. Big names, Big dollars, NO rings.

GM Billy King will most likely be the fall guy if this thing doesnt get turned around soon. I have a feeling the big Russian has had a couple of heart to heart meetings with King already. I’m sure Mikhail Prokhorov didn’t invest all of this money for some paper champions.

Looks like Jay-Z knew what he was doing when he sold his ownership stake in the squad…

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Yep, this guy is still winning.

– N.D. Face

Is Greg Oden Worth the Risk?


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So let me get this straight. Teams are lining up to bid for the services of a former #1 overall draft pick, who’s had 3 micro-fracture surgeries, has only played in 82 career games since being drafted in 07, and has not played in an NBA game since 2009.

It’s amazing how the NBA center is now an endangered species. Kind of like the Blue Whale. At one-point they were everywhere, dominating the oceans. Now you rarely catch a glimpse of one. I guess the old adage of “you can’t teach height” is true and still relevant in today’s small ball, uptempo NBA.

This also tells me that the teams in pursuit really have a lot of faith in their medical teams. Because this is a project unlike anything the NBA has ever seen. He’s the NBA version of Mr Glass. So the question is, is he worth taking a shot on? My 1st reaction is “it depends”.

If you’re a legit championship contender (Spurs, Heat) I say jump in freely. The Heat’s glaring weakness is inside. If you have the personnel, you can take advantage. Indiana took them to 7 games and the Spurs were a Ray Allen 3-pointer away from winning it all.

Chicago+Bulls+v+Portland+Trail+Blazers+ZR-Fp-mxdAtlIf the Heat or Spurs can get anything out of Oden that’s close to what he potentially should’ve been, it’s an improvement over what they currently have at center. He was the #1 pick in the draft for a reason. Chris Bosh would be the happiest person alive, if he could get the 7’0″, 275lb (reportedly) Oden to team up with Inside.

It might extend Tim Duncan’s career if he could have an Oden helping him to protect the rim. I don’t see any flaw in a contender going after the guy. They can afford to take the risk.

But the Pelicans, Hawks, and Kings??? I have no earthly idea why they’re going after Oden. They are not contenders, not even close. At least the Pelicans feel they can contend for the 8th side, but Atlanta and Sacramento? Why?

Why use a roster spot and resources to try and put this guy back together? Those teams should be building for the future. I don’t see Oden as a long-term investment. He’s either going to produce in the next year or two or his career will be over.

The only reason I could see Oden considering these lesser teams is because they have more money to offer him. The Heat and Spurs can offer their mini mid-level exceptions, which is just over $3 million, but Riles and Pop aint giving this dude more than the vet minimum for 1-2 years.

But these other teams have much more cap space to play with. Oden could probably get an offer of $3-5 million per. The Bynum deal showed that teams can be creative if they have the space and the cojones to take a huge risk.

Where ever he lands, I will be actively rooting for him. I was one of the guys who would’ve taken him #1 over Durant. I thought he was a can’t miss prospect, but the only thing he can’t seem to miss is the operating table. A damn shame because he was truly talented with tons of potential

I’m hoping there’s something, anything left in those legs and he gets a few full seasons under his belt, hopefully with a contender. Otherwise, he’ll go down as a legendary bust. The ultimate bad luck story.

Let us know where you think Greg Oden should go and do you think this guy will ever be healthy long enough to help anyone?

– N.D. Face

#basketballworldwide


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All of the champagne bottles have been popped, all of the confetti has been dropped and the World Champion victory parade through Miami has been completed without LeBron getting decapitated by one of the bridges along the parade route, so another NBA season is in the books.  Are the Miami Heat really the World Champions?  I know that they beat a San Antonio Spurs team that has the most international NBA roster containing players from the USA, U.S. Virgin Islands, France, Argentina, Brasil, Australia and Canada, but does make Miami the best team in the world?  The NBA is certainly the most advanced and the highest revenue-generating league in the world, but does that make it the most competitive league in the world?

Although the USA is the birthplace of basketball, it is not the only place that it is played at a high level.  Let us not forget the 1992 Croatian silver medal team made up of NBA players Drazen Petrovic, Toni Kukoc and Dino Radja that played extremely well against the U.S. Dream Team losing by the narrowest margin in the 1992 Olympics (32 points) or the 2004 Argentine Olympic Gold Medal Team made up of NBA players Carlos Delfino, Andres Nocioni, Manu Ginobili, Fabricio Oberto, Walter Hermann and Luis Scola or the 2004 Italian Olympic Silver Medal Team that had ZERO NBA PLAYERS.  Yes, you read that correctly.  To remind you of recent history, the USA got the Bronze Medal in 2004 and lost to Italy and Argentina.  It is amazing how little that part of basketball history is discussed in the USA.

If we are going to discuss basketball outside of the USA, there is only one other place where it is played at an extremely high level, Europe.  Well, Europe is a continent and not a country, so where in Europe, right?  Almost every nation in Europe has its own national league.  There is no uniformity in the number of teams or the stature of each nation’s professional league.  Nearly all of the leagues have the system of promotion and relegation.  To put it in terms that the average NBA fan could understand, imagine that the two worst performing NBA teams each season were demoted to the NBA D-League and were forced to play as a D-League team until eligible for promotion.  That is relegation.  Promotion would mean that the top 2 NBA D-League teams would get promoted to the NBA each season. Relegation would certainly be a very strong incentive against LeBron Bowl or Stink for Wiggins campaigns.

The most important leagues in Europe are found in the following nations – Turkey, Spain, Italy, Greece, Israel and Russia.  Americans should have some familiarity with some European basketball teams like Maccabi Tel Aviv or CSKA Moscow.  Maccabi Tel Aviv has been the one time home of the following NBA players — Jordan Farmar, Jeremy Pargo, Tom Chambers, Omri Casspi, David Benoit, Will Bynum and Anthony Parker.  In 2005, Maccabi Tel-Aviv became the first European team to beat a NBA team, Toronto Raptors, and it happened on North American soil.  To give some insight into Maccabi’s dominance, it has won the national league in Israel 50 TIMES!

Another famous moment in European basketball that should have captured the American hoop fan’s attention was this hugely popular video of a game in the Adriatic league — Cibona vs. Partizan Belgrade.  It has one of the greatest endings in basketball history.  It speaks for itself.  Enjoy!

The winners of the various national basketball leagues as well as teams picked using other criteria play in an annual 24-team competition called the Euroleague. The winner of the Euroleague is the continental champion of Europe.  The two-time reigning champion of the Euroleague is a team from Greece, Olympiacos Piraeus.

Olympiacos (pictured above) has been led the past few seasons by former NBA first round pick, Acie Law IV as well as Vassilis Spanoulis, and Kyle Hines.  The Euroleague has been increasing in popularity.  In fact, NBA 2K14 released by video game producer, 2K Sports, will include 14 Euroleague teams.  Basketball video game junkies will have the ability to develop greater familiarity with Euroleague players. The Americans who play abroad should start to feel less isolated.

The Americans who have played abroad have managed to develop nice lives for themselves.  In fact, Deron Williams played for Turkish club Besiktas during the 2011 lockout and was reportedly paid $200,000 per month for his time in the league.  Besiktas was the same club that Allen Iverson played for during his failed attempt to resurrect his professional career abroad.  One thing that should be clear from this blog post — European basketball is growing rapidly.  Don’t believe me, then you should believe the NBA General Managers as 14 European players were selected in the 2013 NBA draft.

If the NBA were smart, it would agree to have an annual game between the NBA champion and the Euroleague champion.  The winner of that game would have a better claim to the title of World Champion.  That is one game that I would definitely watch!

-GPABaller

Brooklyn Did What???


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And you thought Cleveland taking Anthony Bennett 1st overall was the craziest move of the night.

Somewhere in between a couple of Bill Simmons’s dry jokes and David Stern doing his best evil wrestler impersonation, Billy King pulled off a humongous trade. He picked up Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry while not having to give up Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, or Deron Williams.

The Nets got 2 declining, but sure-fire hall of famers and gave up 5 players, plus 3 1st round drafts picks in 2014, ’16, and ’18. The future is now for Brooklyn and I’m not sure if this was a good move or bad move. Bare with me while I sort all of this out on my keyboard.

As far as Boston is concerned, its obvious what they’re doing. The ‘Tank for Wiggins’ campaign began when they let Doc Rivers go. It kicked into full gear last night. The Big 3 era is officially over in Beantown, let the rebuilding begin.

That loud dud you heard was Boston fans passing out when they heard about the deal.

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“Oh Lawd, they done traded KG and The Truth..”

Rondo and Celtic fans must be on suicide watch right now. Rondo has no one to play with. Amazingly it was just a year ago, this team had a 3-2 lead on the Miami Heat, with a closeout game at home. Then LeBron made that angry face…no not that one, this one….and forced game 7, where Bosh found out he could hit 3’s. Ray-Ray left, they lose in the 1st round to the Knicks, and now its all over.

But back to Brooklyn. This is like watching the World Series of Poker and seeing a guy go all in, when he only has an 11% chance to win the hand. He’s going for broke and you’re at home screaming “WTF are you doing?!?!”. But in poker, you never know which card the dealer is going to flip over. It could be the one card you need to win.

Billy King just went all in with a crappy hand and he’s hoping for a miracle on the flip.

On paper, the roster actually works well. Lopez is the low post threat. KG is still long and can hit that midrange J at the 4 and D-Will started showing signs late last year that he can still be the guy I had rated as the top PG in the league for a time. Pierce and Johnson are very good scorers on the wing. You still have Blatche and Watson coming of the bench. It looks good, but that’s on paper…

In reality, KG and Pierce are long past their primes. They can still be effective, but the days of KG dominating a game defensively are over. The days of Paul Pierce carrying a team offensively for an entire game, are done. They can be great in spurts, but is that good enough to beat Miami?

Plus Joe Johnson seems like he can’t play ball without dribbling for 15 seconds before he shoots. Everything comes to a screeching halt when the ball hits his hands. Good luck to Jason Kidd trying to get him out of that habit and finding ways to keep everyone happy and involved.

So while I don’t believe this move makes them a true contender, it had to be done. I’d take an old KG and Pierce over Gerald Wallace and Kris Kardashian any day. They can still play and they’re veterans who’ll bring a sense of urgency and confidence that was sorely missing from the Nets last season. I don’t see a team with KG and Pierce allowing the short-handed Bulls to win a game 7 in Brooklyn.

So what do you all think? Nets contenders or pretenders?

– N.D. Face

What Now Lebron?


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LeBron has done it again. After an amazing 7-game series vs the Spurs, LBJ once again elevated his play on the biggest stage and is now in the rare company of all-time greats.

Only two players have won the championship and regular season MVP award in consecutive years and that’s Michael Jordan and Bill Russell. Does it get any greater than that? The G.O.A.T and the greatest winner in the history of sports.

I don’t know about you, but when I see the pic of LeBron holding the trophies with that pose and that face, I feel like he’s telling all of his haters/doubters/detractors/critics to “kiss my royal, ultra-athletic, 2-time champion ASS!”.

To everyone with a joke about having no rings…kiss it! If you’ve ever called him “LeChoke”…kiss it! For everyone talking about his hairline…kiss it twice!

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Can you blame him for being defiant in that moment? I don’t, he’s earned the right to do so.

Think about it, has there ever been a great player who’s had his game and mental toughness micro analyzed as much as LeBron? No matter what he does, the pundits and analyst always want more. After every lost, everyone feels the need to tell him how he should play the next game. People like Bill Simmons are always talking about “his legacy”. Every game is a “legacy game”…. who gives a damn about a legacy? We can worry about his legacy when his playing days are over.

I’m focused on the here and now. Right now we just watched this man win an NBA title, then carry Team USA to an Olympic gold medal, come back and win another NBA title after that. Throw in the back-to-back MVP’s and I think this qualifies as a nominee for the Best 2 years Ever award.

At this point, what else is there to hate on? People will now nitpick and try to find the smallest thing for their hate to cling on to. I’m pretty sure a lot of people hated Jordan and Magic Johnson too, but with the advent of social media, any and everybody can throw their opinion out there for the world to read, no matter how idiotic. I saw a post on Twitter that said LeBron should’ve thanked Ray Allen and Chris Bosh for their heroics in game 6 #noclass….wow, really? That’s where we are now America?

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, & The Miami Heat celebrate NBA Championship at STORY Night Club

The one thing he won’t be able to escape are the Jordan comparisons. I’m trying to figure out when Michael Jordan became this mythical creature, who never played bad and never lost a playoff game. This from a guy who LOVES MJ. But Mike didn’t win every game he ever played. He didn’t make every clutch shot he ever took. He didn’t always shoot when the game was on the line, cue John Paxson and Steve Kerr. He was not perfect, but over time his exploits have been magnified to a level that’s unreal.

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This is what LeBron now faces in his battle with the media and its a battle he won’t win. Even if he wins 7 rings, those obsessed with MJ will find reasons to discredit LeBron’s rings. They’ll point out the level of competition and they’ll always bring up the fact he left Cleveland to get his rings, so he can’t win there.

But I hope he keeps the attitude he showed on that championship stage. He has no worries. All he can do is go play basketball and continue to improve. The scary part is he CAN improve. His postgame can improve, he can be a better freethrow shooter just to name a couple of things. I still think the best of LeBron is still to come.

Some of you will hold “The Decision” against him forever. Others will bring up “not 4, not 5, not 6” until he walks into the hall of fame and that’s their right, but they’re missing out greatness.

As for me, I’ll be watching every game. Appreciating the talent and skill of a guy who will go down as one of the 3 greatest players who’ve ever played this game we love.

Don’t believe, me just watch….

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– N.D. Face

Can you hear me now, haters?


Congrats to the 2013 NBA Champions, The Miami Heat!  Ever wonder what a Two-Time NBA Champion’s voicemail account sounds like?  NIKE Basketball just provided you with the answer.

Social media will be buzzing with this video all day on Friday.

-GPABaller

NBA Finals Game 6…Best Ever?


hatesChris-Bosh1And with that block, one of the greatest games in NBA Finals history came to an unbelievable end.

So many twists and turns through this epic 53 minute game. I bet the reporters covering on site had to change their storylines multiple times as the in-game roles and narratives changed seemingly every quarter. Kinda the way Magic Johnson’s thoughts on who will win change just about every 5 minutes.

Think about it, Bosh went from Goat to Hero. Duncan went from Beast to Old Man. Pop went from Genius to Dumbass. And Lebron went from Choker to Hero to Choker then back to Hero again. Amazing how that happens, right? If the Heat lose, all anyone is talking about are the 2 late turnovers LBJ had. But they won, so now LeBron is clutch once again and Magic now has the Heat winning it all, until halftime of game 7 I’m sure.

Any basketball coach worth a damn will tell you, to win a championship, you’ve got to do the little things. Had the Spurs done those little things like boxing out, taking care of the ball, and making freethrows, they very well may have been NBA champs last night celebrating at Applebee’s.

But instead they’re stuck wondering how it all went wrong and looking at the unenviable task of winning a game 7, on the road, vs LeBron James. Keep in mind that NO team has EVER won a game 7 on the road in the 2-3-2 format. Then again, Miami hasn’t won 2 straight since the Bulls series and the Spurs haven’t lost 2 straight since late in the regular season. Which trend is going to end?

I was so geeked up after the game, I couldn’t sleep. So I was trying to compile a list of the best NBA Finals games in recent history. So what makes a game a candidate for “Best Ever” status? You need great players, making great plays and at least one signature moment.

So which games come to mind?

Game 4 2008 – Boston Celtics vs LA Lakers. Colossal Collapse at Staples Center….

Game 6 1998 – Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz, MJ’s greatest moment as a player….

Game 4 1987 – Boston Celtics vs LA Lakers, Magic’s Baby Hookshot…

All of these games had great players, making great plays. Some questionable officiating calls and no calls, plus signature moments that have gone down as some of the greatest moments in NBA history. Magic’s hook, MJ’s crossover/pushoff, Kobe pissed off to no end, thats classic son! Game 6 2013 gave us the Ray Allen backpedal corner 3…

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Are you serous? 2 days later I’m still amazed. Moments like this are the reason why Ray Allen came to Miami.

I don’t know if people comprehend how difficult that shot was. The moment was huge, it’s the season on the line when that ball is coming to him and he knows it. Plus he’s going backwards, to the corner. How many times have you seen players in these NBA corners step out-of-bounds? Not only did he get behind the line and stay in bounds, he had the presence of mind to peek at the shot clock down on the other end to see how much time he had left, then he drains it…no rim.

If you still don’t think its hard, how bout this. Next time you go to your local court, you and your boys/girls need to reenact this play. Try to backpedal to the corner, catch the ball and make a 3 point shot. If you don’t trip and bust your ass, you’ve won half of the battle.

Now we come to game 7 and I have absolutely NO CLUE what’s going to happen, but I can guess like everyone else. Will the Heat have a hangover after expending so much energy and emotion fighting back to win that game? Will the Spurs be too devastated to offer up a real challenge? Will the bandwagon Miami fans (not the TRUE fans) stay long enough to see what happens? I don’t know!

All the commentators seem to think the series is over and Miami will take it easy, but if any team can bounce back from that type of heartbreak, it’s the Spurs. That team is never too high or low emotionally, so I see them giving a great effort.

I also think the Heat will be energized knowing they have a chance to make history and go down as an all-time great team with back to back titles.

Prediction? I think its a relatively close game throughout and one team will pull away in the 4th qtr. That team will be the Miami Heat.

Hide ya kids, hide ya wife, cuz Chris Bosh pouring champagne on err’body…

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Whatever happens tonight, I’ll be planted in front of my TV applauding the effort, but bitter that this incredible series has to come to an end.

– N.D. Face