The NBA Finals resume Thursday evening, but they ended last night. For all intents and purposes it’s all over. Lebron James and his Miami Heat have no intentions of going back to Oklahoma City until next season. They want to put an end to the series on their own court before their own fans.
Barring an unforeseeable miracle, that’s exactly what they will do by 11:30 Eastern Standard Time.
The Heat’s 104-98 win over the Thunder was the difference between a two-man game and a team. Going into the series, it was assumed it was Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden who were the new “Big 3″ and James along with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh were three superstars trying to learn how to play as teammates.
Oh, what a difference ripping off three straight wins makes. The Thunder hasn’t played bad, but the Heat has played lights out. When OKC ripped off a lead in the first quarter that stretched to 17 points, the Heat played it cool. Beyond their own Big 3, they got major contributions from point guards Mario Chalmers (25 points) and Norris Cole who came off the bench to knock down two three-pointers that chipped away at the Thunder’s lead.
Durant scored 28 points and Westbrook led all scorers with 43. Westbrook is a score first-pass second point guard who trusts his own abilities more than he trusts any teammate not named Durant. With good reason as it turns out. Harden has been more bust than bad-ass in the Finals. He was 2 of 10 shooting in Game Four including an embarrassingly botched breakaway(slam? lay up?). Harden is stinking up the series with his lousy play.
The rest of the Thunder scored a total of 19 points. Derek Fisher is old, slow, and simply can’t play anymore. Fisher’s stats for the game: 22 minutes, no assists, no points, no rebounds, no turnovers, one steal and the one shot he yoked up was a bricked three-pointed that only served to waste a fast break opportunity.
For all the criticism of Westbrook for not being a distributor as the point guard, Fisher, 37 years old with 15 years experience, has been absolute garbage. The biggest favor he could do for the team is to retire today and let somebody play tomorrow who looks like they belong on the court instead of an assisted living facility.
But this is less about the Thunder blowing it than it is the Heat winning it. James is playing fiercely. There’s none of the dancing, joking and playing around with a mock camera as he did in his last season with the Cavaliers. He’s dialed in completely and whatever it takes for him to win his first championship James is willing to do. He’s rebounding, scoring, distributing, playing lockdown “d” and making the rest of his teammates step up their game. James is on a mission and he will not be denied.
The Thunder certainly has shown they have no idea how to do it. Lebron is too strong for Durant, too big for Harden, too fast for any of the useless Thunder big men.
Last year when he was being humiliated by the Dallas Mavericks, James was the best player in the NBA with the worst reputation. People were pulling for him to lose, including me. He made himself easy to root against after his awful kiss-off to Cleveland with the brain-dead debacle that was “The Decision” After that farce he went from King James to “LeGone James” and why not? What was he supposed to be king of anyway?
I’m still a little frosty by the graceless way he left, but I can’t deny Lebron his due. He is the best player in the NBA and has proven it by his play throughout the playoffs. Now that he is standing on the verge of finally winning his first championship, only the most hardcore of Lebron haters can refuse to recognize the grandeur of his reign over the basketball world.
Ready or not, it’s time to hail the King.
- Who’s to Blame for OKC Thunder’s Loss to Miami Heat in Game 3 of NBA Finals? (bleacherreport.com)
- NBA Finals Game 4 (theesposito.com)
I grew up loving the Philadelphia 76ers and despising the Boston Celtics, so despite not being a Lebron James fan, it’s always sweet to see the Celtics choke like dogs and don’t let anybody tell you differently: The Celtics choked up a big-ass hairball. Before they got to the Miami Heat, the Celtics squeaked and creaked by a scrappy, but not all that talented Sixers team. The low moment was when Kevin Garnett went up for an uncontested slam only to find he couldn’t get up to slam.
How embarrassing. Showing their age that way should have been a warning sign that the Celtics were ripe to be plucked. Actually, they were overripe, but after winning the first two games, the Heat fumbled and bumbled away the next three with a particularly awful showing in Game Five where they look listless, confused and were getting absolutely killed on ESPN and by every sportswriter across America.
Then came Game Six where Lebron put on his Superman suit, told the rest of team, “I got this” and went off on the Brothers from Beantown scoring 45 points, grabbing 15 boards and dishing five dimes as he pulled off a playoff performance not Michael Jordan, not Larry Bird, not Kobe Bryant, not anyone had pulled off since Wilt Chamberlain.
The Heat vs. the Thunder is a better match-up for the NBA than the Celtics making one last run (again) for the Big Three. That storyline is tired, played out and with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen both free agents, finally ready to be retired once and for all. Someone might have hoped for a last clash between Garnett and Tim Duncan, the Batman to his Joker, but not me. The Spurs are a class act, but is likewise made up of AARP members.
Grace Slick gave up playing with the Jefferson Airplane because she said she hated seeing old people on stage. I hate seeing them wheezing up and down a basketball court. Any way all the old men of Boston are officially on summer vacation. See ya, suckers!
James vs. Kevin Durant is a match-up I want to see. They play the same position which means they will be going mano a mano most of the time. Durant is a mama’s boy meterosexual whose “cool nerd” fashion sense arrived in last year’s playoffs when he showed up at the post game interviews wearing a damn backpack. Now it’s bow ties, big plastic eyeglass frames with no lenses and shirts whose designer name are Garanimals and Oshkosh By Gosh.
James has worn the label of Best Player In the Game Who’s Never Won Anything for years now. Part of me is pulling for him to finally get his ring, but a bigger part of me hopes it’s not this year. It could be a television series: Everybody Hates Lebron vs. Everybody Loves Kevin.
Lebron is a mama’s boy too, but he’s dialed in this year into winning a championship. Every year that goes by without a ring he looks less like Jordan and Kobe and more like Barkley and Karl Malone: just great player who was never a big winner.
One more thing about the Heat and Thunder series that must be said. As much as Boston had to hate having their Big Three bounced out and likely broken up by Miami, Cleveland had to hate it even more because they hate Lebron. Oklahoma City loves their very own and only professional sports franchise, but they should remember, they stole it from Seattle.
If there are televisions in Cleveland and Seattle tuned in to the series at all, it will be because they’re rooting for both teams to lose.
The Celtics almost succeeded in solidifying King James’ rep as the Biggest Choke Artist in Sports, but he would not be denied and willed his team to victory. When he took his talents to South Beach, it appeared he was there to help Dwayne Wade win his second ring, not Wade helping him wear his first. It was the much maligned and overlooked Chris Bosh who was the second-most important player on the Heat. Wade played well sometimes, terrible occasionally and damn near disappeared the rest of the time.
Somebody’s going to have to defend Russell Westbrook who’s even faster than Rajon Rondo who almost outplayed the entire Heat team, Wade will have to play much better for the Heat to win the series. Bosh should be ready to go and present major match-up problems for the Thunder big men.
As for emerges the winner, I don’t know or care. I follow the A-B-C rule. Anybody But the Celtics.
- At end, they had nothing left in tank – Boston.com (boston.com)
- James, Heat to face young Thunder in NBA finals (wmbfnews.com)
- Thunder (All) Up! in the NBA Finals (4hoopsheads.com)
This was supposed to be easy.
LeBron James, the NBA’s greatest player had fallen short of true greatness due to his failure to win a championship. After seven seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers he publicly announced in a widely ridiculed interview/slash/performance piece that he would “take his talents to South Beach” and play with the Miami Heat.
The Heat was a shiny BMW to the beat up Dodge the King’s former team. Dwayne Wade was already there waiting for the King and soon others followed such as Chris Bosh from the Toronto Raptors dead zone, a power forward prone to power outages. With Pat Riley acolyte Eric Spolestra as the coach/designated ball boy charged with the task of guiding this merger to the first of many championships, The Heat put together a decent, if not devastating roster of journeymen, role players, has beens, and spare parts. It was enough for King James and his court to survive the grind of the season and crush the 76ers, Celtics and the Bulls in the NBA Playoffs.
Leaving only the Dallas Mavericks, a group of perennial bridesmaids and one superstar, Dirk Nowitzki, a seven-footer from Germany with a sweet jump shot and a reputation for being the worst thing any pro athlete can be. Soft. Far too soft to deny LeBron, who had LeGone from the snows of Cleveland to the sun of Miami.
This was going to be easy. Miami would brush aside the Mavs and LeBron would finally enjoy the glory his nickname as King James proclaimed was his by Divine Right.
Then a funny thing happened. LeBron turned into LeGone again and then, LeChoke. He pulled a disappearing act in the championships would make Harry Houdini and Cris Angel jealous as hell.
The underdog Mavs beat the Heat in six games after closing them out with a 105-95 win on the opposing team’s home court. Nowitzki won the series Most Valuable Player (though he scored no points for good sportsmanship by immediately leaving the floor after Dallas secured the win and declining to shake the hands of James, Wade or any Heat player).
Dallas is a better coached and much more complete team than Miami, but are they a better team? No. Miami has great players, but Dallas has a great team and like when the Pistons destroyed the 2004 O’Neal/Bryant/Malone/Payton Lakers, great teams beat great players (despite what David Stern might wish).
Dirk didn’t cut and run on the Mavs the way LeGone did with the Cavs. Dirk didn’t hold some arrogant reality show to announce he was taking his talents to South Beach. Dirk didn’t boast how he was going to win “not one…not two…not three…championships.
If I were building a team I’d rather have Dirk Nowitzki than LeGone James. Not because he would be a better player. Because he would be a better teammate.
Nowitzki explained bolting from the court when he later told ESPN’s Hannah Storm, “I had to get a moment. I was crying a bit. I was a little emotional. … I actually didn’t want to come out for the trophy, but the guys talked me into it.”
I can’t imagine a guy who just won his and his team’s first championship not wanting to share in the glory and hoist the trophy and I’ll cut him a little slack for not wanting to cry in front of the cameras. But Dirk, if your teammates can hang on the floor and shake the opposing team’s hand and you are the leader/best player of your team, you can do it too.
That goes for you and LeGone. Flip the script and if this had been James walking off the court without shaking Dirk’s hand after winning the championship, he would be ROASTED by the press and the fans.
But being a bad sport wasn’t exclusively Dirk’s problem. LeBrick (thanks Facebook friend Merlisa Lawrence Corbett for that one) retreated to Twitter account to say, “The Greater Man upstairs know when it’s my time. Right now isn’t the time.”
It’s never been your time LeChoke. The Greater Man decided it was Dirk Nowitzki’s time, not yours. One day LeBron James will be a champion, but first he’s going to have to learn a bit about humility. So far, he’s proven to be a slow learner.
Since LeBron lost to Dirk, a German export, here’s a German word for him: schadenfreude. It means finding satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune. There’s a lot of satisfaction and pleasure in Cleveland today.
There can only be one. Once again, it’s not you, LeChoke.
The NBA Playoffs don’t take forever. It just feels like they do. Truth be told, there have been some halfway decent basketball played. Problem is, it’s almost all been in the Western Conference where teams get out and run the ball instead of grinding it out in the half court and lockdown defense.
Between the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat, I can’t guess which team David Stern would like less handing over the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy to. It’s a choice between his nemesis among team owners, Mark Cuban, or the most despised team in the NBA, the Miami Heat, led by two superstars in LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and an occasional one in Chris Bosh.
These may not be the two best teams in the NBA, but they’re the only two who made it all the way. Sorry for all you Celtics, Lakers, Magic and Spurs fans. Now it’s just a matter of who gets to hoist the championship banner when it’s over.
If I were a betting man I’d put it on the Heat. The Mavericks have the talent to get the job done, but LeBron is on a mission. He’s not going to let Dirk Nowitzki stand between him and the chance to finally shake off the rap that’s dogged him for eight seasons now: LeBron is the greatest player since Michael Jordan, but Jordan won six. Lebron hasn’t won anything.
That’s all going to change within a week or so.. Sure, D-Wade and Bosh want to win a championship too and Nowitzki would like to shake that “soft” label he’s been saddled with once and for all, but nobody wants this like Lebron. He needs this is a way they don’t.
Despite Jordan’s former caddy, Scottie Pippen having a senior moment and saying LeBron is greater than M.J. nobody will ever take that assessment seriously until James starts putting together a string of championships like Jordan did. It’s possible he could, but it’s just as possible some other team like the Knicks or the Lakers will bring in a Dwight Howard or a Chris Paul and upset the balance of power all over again. The Heat have demonstrated you can put together an instant contender with three stars in their prime and a bunch of role players along for the ride.
The Mavericks are the last obstacle standing between LeBron’s long-awaited glory and they aren’t going to have enough to stop him from getting it. The Heat take in it six games. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Lebron put the rest of the team on his back and tried to sweep the Mavs even if he personally has to play one-on-five to do it.
LeBron and the Heat know they’re the bad guys here and more people want them to lose than to win. They know everybody hates them and it hasn’t killed them. It just made them stronger. They feed off of it. That hate will give them the motivation that’s going to lead them to the title.
You can’t stop an idea whose time has come and it’s Lebron James time.
This is a business. I had seven great years in Cleveland. I hope the fans understand, and maybe they won’t.”
~ LeGone James, newest resident of South Beach
It’s not about him leaving. It’s the disrespect. It’s time for people to hold these athletes accountable for their actions. Is this the way you raise your children? I’ve been holding this all in for a long time.
~ Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan “Kill the King” Gilbert
For LeBron James relocating his kingdom from Cleveland to Miami is about two things: winning a championship (or several) and maximizing his brand potential. For Dan Gilbert, his erstwhile employer it’s not business at all. It’s personal as in a personal insult and he’s not going to hold the door for James as he departs. If anything, Gilbert’s bashing of LeGone is more along the lines of “don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.”
If you’ve thought about buying a Lebron James jersey I hear they’re having a fire sale in Cleveland.
Word of advice to Cavaliers fans: Don’t take it so seriously. It’s only a game. Nobody’s lost life here. Setting fire to James’ old jersey? Smooth move, folks. Couldn’t find any rope? There is no guarantee that James will be soaking in a champagne bath next season in Miami. Can Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and James co-exist and raise hell during the regular season? More than likely and their quest for the ring will be featured on Sportscenter every night and they are a stone cold lock to be playing in primetime on Christmas Day. The only question is will it be against the Lakers or a road game in Cleveland. But don’t pass them the trophy just yet. Nobody wins a championship simply by front-loading the roster with three superstars and filling out the roster with nine warm bodies and assorted table scraps.
Chemistry is not overrated. The Three Amigos of the Boston Celtics (Garnett, Pierce and Allen) had it. The Less than Fearsome Foursome of the Los Angeles Lakers (Bryant, O’Neal, Malone, and Payton) did not. If Miami storms through the regular season and flops in the playoffs LeGone will look like the kind of hopeless loser whom if he felt into a barrel of nipples would come out sucking his thumb. James has put himself into a situation where he has to win a championship because all of his excuses are gone now.
The night James announced he was realigning the balance of power in the NBA he received two parting gifts from Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cavaliers: a blood enemy for the rest of his career and all the motivation to go all out in his quest for a ring. Gilbert didn’t just burn his bridges with LeGone; he blew them up and salted the earth for good measure.
Dear Cleveland, All of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Wherever You May Be Tonight;
As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.
This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his “decision” unlike anything ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.
Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.
The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.
There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.
You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.
You have given so much and deserve so much more.
In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:
“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE”
You can take it to the bank.
If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our “motivation” to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.
Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.
Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works.
This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown “chosen one” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And “who” we would want them to grow-up to become.
But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on Cleveland, Ohio.
The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.
Sleep well, Cleveland.
Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day….
I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:
DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue …
If we have never witnessed a vain and self-important athlete make an elaborate show of where he decided to play, never before have we seen an owner react with such bile in a petulant, insulting and petty manner. Strange days in David Stern’s Magic Kingdom and one wonders how he will react to Gilbert’s parting shots at his league’s best player.
This falls under the category of extremely sour grapes on Gilbert’s part. He bought the Cavs in 2005, inherited the best player in the league and installed two utter mediocrities, Mike Brown as coach and Danny Ferry as general manager. Among Gilbert and Ferry’s accomplishments were to surround James with such “talent” as Bruno Sundov, Zendon Hamilton, Jiri Welsch and Smush Parker.
Gilbert fired Brown and Ferry following this year’s playoff flop against the Celtics as sacrifices in a futile attempt to appease James, tried to woo Tom Izzo from Michigan State who balked when he couldn’t get assurances James would re-sign and is left now with an aging, salary capped-out shell of a team with a new coach, no stars and dim hope of even making the playoffs next year.
Gilbert’s temper-tantrum was a classless ass-covering for his own failure to bring in even one complimentary superstar player in his prime to aid James in winning a championship. A more mature approach would have been to express disappointment in James signing elsewhere and then to thank him for seven great years including two straight years with the best regular season record and an appearance in the 2007 NBA Finals.
That would have been the mature thing to do, but Gilbert reacted like a spurned teenage girl trashing James as a hopeless loser, coward and quitter. It makes you wonder why he didn’t trade or cut James years ago. Lindsay Lohan demonstrated more poise than Gilbert as the judge sentence her to 90 days in jail. Gilbert bashing of LeGone was meant as a show of solidarity with discouraged Cavaliers fans, but it overestimates how much ill will they will have for James.
They’re all disappointed, but most of them are sophisticated to know basketball is as much business as sport. They had seven years of good times with James and it was he, not Gilbert, who made basketball relevant in Cleveland again. Nobody went to Quicken Loans Arena to watch Dan Gilbert own. They sold out the joint to watch LeBron play and as much as it will hurt to see him wearing the colors of the Heat, many of them will do so because they love LeBron, not the guy who signed his paychecks for five years.
Despite Gilbert’s blustery bravado, the Cavs are headed into a long, dark tunnel and apparently they’re going to go into the gloom cursing James all the way. He had the best player in the world playing for him and he couldn’t win with him. How does Gilbert convince season ticket holders the absurd suggestion the Cavs are a better team now without James? With Jamario Moon as their new starting small forward? Anger may be a purifying emotion, but as bleak as the immediate future looks for the Cavs it won’t take them anywhere near the heights they achieved as part of the LeBron James Flying Circus.
LeGone now has something he never had before: enemies. He just went from one of the most admired athletes in America to one of the most reviled. Every great baller had a rival, an opposite number, the one guy who was guaranteed to get under his skin. Michael Jordan had Isiah Thomas and his Bad Boy Pistons. Magic had Bird. Kobe had Shaq and the state of Colorado. Now James has Gilbert. He’s also sure to be booed lustily on his next visits to New York, New Jersey and Chicago who were also deemed unworthy by King James.
There was a joke making the rounds on Facebook before James made his announcement he was dust in the wind. It went: Apple is releasing a special edition LeBron I-phone. Problem is, it only vibrates because it doesn’t have a ring. All right, nobody said it was a funny joke. The real fun starts next season when LeGone returns to Little Danny Gilbert’s House of Hate.