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

 

 

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

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

No, No, No Tiago


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I’m sure you’ve seen it by now. LeBron James’s monster block on Tiago Splitter. If you’re like me, you scoured the internet to find replays and different angles of this play.

And then I came across this….

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This is fantastic! The ball and Tiago’s Splitter’s career exploded at that very moment.

At first glance, I thought it was the block of the year. Then I a had a day to let the euphoria settle down and now I’m back to thinking Roy Hibbert’s block on Melo was better.

What makes the all-time great plays great are the moments and situations in which they occurred. MJ’s mid-air hand switch layup would’ve been a great play in the regular season, its iconic because it was in the NBA Finals vs Magic Johnson’s Lakers.

Lets look at the two plays and the situations where they occurred.

LeBron
Situation – Game 2, NBA Finals, 4th Qtr, about 8 minutes left, up by 19
Victim – Tiago Splitter

This game was pretty much decided before the block. But the block and the plays that followed the block sealed the deal. The Spurs needed a lot of good fortune to come back in this game pre-block. They needed an act of God post-block. Plus the victim is a solid player, but he’s not going to be an All-Star at any point in his career. LeBron had everything to lose on this play. If he gets dunked on, every little kid in Brazil would’ve had that poster on their walls. Its the one highlight they would show at Splitter’s retirement press conference. The name isnt big enough to overtake Roy.

Hibbert
Situation – Game 6, Eastern Conference Finals, 4th Qtr, about 5 minutes left, down by 2
Victim – Carmelo Anthony

This was a tight game. Knicks were making a serious run and threatening to take full control of this game and possibly the series by forcing a game 7, back in the Garden. This blocked swung the momentum and changed the entire game. Pacers took the lead 2 possesions later and never looked back. Plus the victim is a future hall of famer. Led the league in scoring and just seeing the behind the backboard shot of Hibbert’s hand basically being in the rim pushes this over the top for me.

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So I have Hibbert’s #1 and LeBron’s #2. What say you? Which block was better?

– N.D. Face

From WMD to Pandemic, it is still the same weak dope…


On Tuesday, weeks of speculation regarding the potential name change of the Charlotte Bobcats came to an end when Michael Jordan announced that the Charlotte Bobcats would begin the process of renaming the franchise to the old name of the Charlotte Hornets.  The Bobcats believe in this decision so strongly that it will cost them nearly $4 million to complete this task.  The basketball team in Charlotte played under the nickname of the Hornets from the franchise’s creation in 1988 until its departure for New Orleans in 2002.  In 1988, both the Miami Heat and the Charlotte Hornets entered the NBA as expansion teams.  The Charlotte Hornets have had some brilliant moments culminating in Alonzo Mourning’s 1993 NBA Playoffs Game 4 jump shot that ended Hall of Famer Kevin McHale’s career.  The Charlotte community loved those Hornets.  In fact, those Hornets had over 8 years’ worth of consecutively sold-out games, which is an unbelievable record considering that their best players were Dell Curry, Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson (the NBA’s first cross-dressing power forward as Converse’s Grandmama), Kendall Gill, and Glen Rice.  All of them were elite NBA players at various points in their careers, but none of them are first-ballot Hall of Famers.  To be truthful, Mourning is not eligible for induction in the Hall of Fame until next year, but I would not expect him to make it the first year that he is eligible.  Charlotte was clearly a loyal fan base.  Somehow, the owners of the team managed to turn this mountain of gold into a pile of sand.  Attendance began declining as the fan base began to fall out of love with the ownership.  The then-current owners of the team, Ray Woolridge and George Shinn, claimed to be losing money to the tune of $15-$20 Million per year as attendance declined.  Things hit rock bottom when the voter referendum for finance for a new arena was rejected by the citizens of the Great State of North Carolina.  Despite the team’s departure from Charlotte, the name “Hornets” still has a lot of goodwill in Charlotte.

However, you can tell that this is clearly a “Hail Mary” strategy from Michael Jordan and the leadership of the Charlotte franchise.  It is all about the quality of the product and not what you call it.  Or is it?  For those of you who are fans of the Wire, Stringer Bell of the Barksdale Crew found himself in precisely the same position in Season 3.  Family capo Avon Barksdale was locked up and the Crew’s dope and coke connect started serving them a weak supply.  Dope fiends in The Wire’s Baltimore west side started wandering across town for that fire from Eastside dealer Prop Joe.   Bell, realizing that he was unable to do anything to improve the quality of his product, decides to change the street name from “WMD” to “Pandemic.”  It was a short-term fix, but certainly caused a few fiends to invest their daily blast money into more poor quality product from the Barksdale Crew.

With the #4 spot in this year’s draft and no elite players on the roster for next year, the Bobcats certainly need something to distract the fan base from the current state of affairs.  To be fair, there is certainly some young talent with Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker, yet this team is still years away from relevance.  Jordan could be trying this renaming strategy to buy some time until he is able to get a parting gift from Commissioner David Stern and the NBA owners that Jordan made rich over the course of his career.  What gift do you give a man that already has everything?  The #1 draft pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Andrew Wiggins.  Sound crazy? I don’t know.  N.D. Face thinks that it is a distinct possibility and I agree with him.

-GPABaller

Throwback Thursday


On the website for Ad Age, I read a statistic that I found eye-popping.  In 2011, there were 46 companies worldwide that each spent over $1 Billion dollars on marketing.  Did you imagine that so many companies have spent that much money to find ways to influence you to buy their particular product or service?  This statistic got me thinking about those companies over the years that have figured the exact way to speak to the basketball loving consumers like us.  Those companies are the inspiration for this week’s Throwback Thursday.  I have decided to list my 3 favorite commercials from companies speaking to the basketball world.

1.  Basketball Jesus’ Frozen Moment.  This one still gives me goosebumps.

2. Children of the 1980s simply know this one as the “Sprite Commercial”

3. Freestyle (Lamar Odom, Vince Carter, Rasheed Wallace, etc.)

Stay Thirsty, my friends.

-GPABaller

 

 

Throwback Thursday: NBA Inside Stuff


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Back in the 1990’s, once the Saturday morning cartoons went off there was one show all bball fans had to watch…NBA Inside Stuff on NBC hosted by “My Main Man!” Ahmad Rashad.

Before Inside Stuff, I had only known him as the guy who married Claire Huxtable.

Mrs. Huxtible was fly...IJS

Mrs. Huxtable was fly…IJS

He then somehow became Jordan’s BFF and gained incredible access to the NBA and its stars.

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He’s become synonymous with the NBA and still gets most of the exclusive interviews, along with his own show during the NBA Finals on NBA TV. It all started with Inside, which he co-hosted with Julie Moran and later Willow Bay.

They would go through the week’s happenings and feature the NBA stars of the time.

Like the previously mentioned Jordan…

 

A young, pre-NBA draft Shaquille O’Neal…

Nuthuggers and a Venice Beach muscle shirt to play ball…wow…God bless the 90’s

Aside from the great interviews and features, Ahmad also had his week-in-review segment with all of the bloopers and great plays in his “Rewind” recap…

Watching that video, that actually might have been the best week ever. You had a sick MJ move, Shaq broke a basket, Kemp caught Mutumbo slipping, Shaq broke Alonzo Mourning, and there were Bernard King and Orlando Woolridge sightings…that’s rather fantastic.

But the main reason why I watched Inside Stuff was for Jam Session. The best dunks/plays of the week put to music. You could miss the whole show, but there was no way you missed Jam Session…

I could watch these all day…

Wow…Kid n Play…are they still alive???

 

So on this Throwback Thursday, Tragic Johnson salutes you Inside Stuff!

 

– N.D. Face

 

 

The Face that Launched 1000 Ships


Although it happens annually, it has not gotten any easier over the years for me to handle.  I am talking about the crippling sadness that washes over me at the conclusion of the college basketball season.  The thought of a larger portion of ESPN Sportscenter being devoted to baseball and hockey for the next few months always makes me nauseated.  Yet, there is a pleasure island on the horizon — the draft.

As I am sure that you have heard repeatedly from the incessant chatter of tv analysts, this year’s draft is fairly weak, on the men’s side that is.  The WNBA draft is filled with interesting prospects – Brittney Griner, Kelly Faris, Elena Della Donne and Skylar Diggins, to name a few.  Della Donne and Diggins are interesting for reasons that go beyond the basketball court that should be obvious with only a little thought.

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While these two are both breathtaking, basketball Anna Kournikovas they are not.  Della Donne has finished her career as the 5th leading scorer in the history of collegiate women’s basketball on a team at University of Delaware that was reminiscent of Jordan and the Jordanaires of the 1980s. Diggins ended her career as the leading scorer in Notre Dame history, the winningest player in Notre Dame history and the two-time winner of the Big East Player of the Year.  These are some serious athletes.  They are also the real world equivalents of Helen of Troy, the mythological Greek beauty whose abduction from Sparta by Paris led to the launching of 1000 Spartan ships to seek her return in a conflict known as the Trojan War.

Sportsmen are high priced endorsers who are used to market and promote everything from consulting services to luxury watches to razors and beverages.  The endorsement is at its best when the pitchman is at the pinnacle of his sport, good looking and is promoting a product that the consumer could actually imagine him using.  Top pitchmen like Michael Jordan, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant all fit those criteria.  The challenge that brand managers have nationwide is finding female athletes who check all of those same boxes and who are also relevant in non-Olympic years.

Tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams meet these criteria, especially Serena (smile), yet they are not pitch women featured in national ads very often (their recent brilliant Apple ad is an exception).  Michelle Wie’s career as a endorser got off to a flying start, but it is hard to do much with her when she has not won a LPGA event since 2010.  Danica Patrick is also a great story and a pretty face who was the centerpiece of Go Daddy Super Bowl ads, yet she has not won a NASCAR or IndyCar race.  Additionally, it is easy to ask yourself whether auto racing is even a sport.

Brilliant and beautiful performers from the Olympiads burn brightly in the vicinity of the Olympic Games (e.g., Alex Morgan, Lolo Jones, Dominique Dawes and Allyson Felix), yet they fade into obscurity 3-4 months after the Olympics are over.  US Soccer player Alex Morgan is the sole exception to that rule as the nation also pays attention to the Women’s World Cup, so she can be marketed every two years when either the Olympics or World Cup are happening.

Della Donne and Diggins have the potential to be perennial all-stars and be in the spotlight annually.  If I were a brand manager of a company looking to find an athlete to speak to the female consumer and the men who love them, I would be moving heaven and earth to sign them right now.  Woe unto those who are dawdling at this moment, they risk the fate of the Trojans, the losers in the Trojan War.

-GPA Baller