We Are All Witnesses…But Not Much Longer.

But I don’t WANT the playoffs to be over!” says Sad LeBron (photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

As Game Two of the NBA Finals looms, things aren’t looking real good for the underdog Cleveland Cavaliers. Unlike his boast when he  took his talents to South Beach  there  would be “Not one…not two…not three.. ” championships with the  Miami Heat, LeBron James didn’t guarantee the Cavs would win any. In fact, after reaching the championship round, James copped to being surprised they made it that far this soon.

The Cavs were already the underdog in the match-up against Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, but when you’ve got the greatest player in the game you’ve always got a puncher’s chance. That was before Kevin Love was knocked out of the playoffs when the Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk tried to take Love’s shoulder home with him. That was before Kyrie Irving’s left kneecap blew off and sent him to the surgeon’s table. James is known to make his teammates better than they actually are, but even for him this is a mighty heavy lift.

Pop Quiz: Know who Shannon Brown, Damon Jones, Sasha Pavolic, Scot Pollard and Ira Newble are?

They were  a few teammates of James on the ’06-07 Cavaliers  and a pretty talentless bunch  he carried on his back to the NBA Finals where they were swept away  by the Spurs.  Without Irving and Love, James simply does not have enough bullets in his belt  to take the pressure from him to perform at a superhuman level to win a championship. Role players like Iman Shumpert,  J.R. Smith, Matthew Dellavdova and Tristan Thompson are not going to turn into superstars against a team as deep and balanced as the Warriors.

It’s been suggested if James is really that great he should be able to find a way to overcome the odds and carry this depleted roster to the title.   Those suggestions are as useful  as a bag full of broken hammers.

Michael Jordan used to wear the title “Best Player On the Planet” but he needed Pippen and Grant before he put on any rings. Dr. J. needed Moses, Kareem needed Magic and Bird needed Parrish and McHale. Ya feel me?

“Sorry, bro. You on your own. “

In NO way is James diminished as a the Greatest player in the NBA if he loses this championship. Remember when the Lakers had Gary Payton and Karl Malone to go with Shaq and Kobe? They lost to the Pistons that year whose biggest “star” were Rasheed and Ben Wallace! TEAMS win championships. One man gangs playing hero ball do not.

It’s disingenuous to even suggest LeBron is lessened when he’s playing with role players, guys who weren’t even on the team when the season started and scrubs.

I’d love to see LeBron triumph and beat the odds by leading the Cavs to a championship, but my desires are tempered by reality. Even King James cannot play every minute, bring the ball up court, call the play, put everyone in the right place on the floor, distribute the rock, take the shot, knock it down, box out, grab the rebound, get back on “D”, guard all five opposing players, pop the popcorn, shake the pom-poms at halftime, coach the team and drive the team bus.

The bigger problem for the Cavs is their coach, David Blatt.    He took the job before James came back to town and since then  LeBron has made it clear he doesn’t listen to Blatt; he tolerates him (barely).   Curry does not have a similar problem being coached by Steve Kerr.   Unlike Blatt, Kerr played in the NBA and with Jordan no less.   He knows a little something about how to play with a superstar.   Blatt can’t buy a clue.

His name is LeBron James. It would take LeBron Jesus to carry these  Cavs to a championship.    The Warriors want what LeBron already has: a championship ring and their strategy is not to double team him and not try to shut him down.   Let LeBron get his and see who else can get anything.

James dismisses any strategy teams are allowing him to do his thing while challenging the other guys to do anything.

“Well, first of all, you can’t let me have 40,” James said following the Game One overtime loss where he scored the Cavs lone two points,   “You don’t let me have 40. I go get 40. It’s not like they’re just getting out of the way. So those guys aren’t saying we’re okay with letting him have 40. You don’t let me have 40; I’m making those shots.”

But you didn’t make the shot that would have won the game in regulation, LeBron.    You got 44 points.  You needed 46

His performance in Game Three against the Hawks was nothing short of Herculean. His 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists was magnificent and that’s on top of battling his own knee and ankles injuries (as well as  Blatt’s brain fart in playcalling and counting time outs).

Meet The 2006 Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s okay if you don’t remember them.

I was one of those who was royally pissed by the clumsy way LeBron exited Cleveland and The Decision was one of the worst p.r. mistakes ever made by a pro athlete. But he learned and I have learned to forgive and forget. I welcome him back to Ohio and I wish him nothing but well. James doesn’t have brushes with the law. Doesn’t hang out in the clubs and strip joints. Doesn’t seem to be dropping little LeBrons all around the country. He appears to be a family man who is taking care of them and building himself into a global brand. Good for the brother, I say.

Win this series or lose it, LeBron is still who he is: The Greatest Player in the NBA Today. Truth.   He will not give up and he will not roll over and crown the Warriors.   If there’s a way to will the Cavaliers to a win, James can do it.    With  King James there’s a chance to avoid a repeat of The Sweep the Spurs laid on the Cavs in 2007.

But they won’t win.   They can’t win.   Warriors in five.

Riley Curry waves “bye-bye” to the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.

 

Slam Jam, Just Don’t Give A Damn.

He shoots...he scores....he bores.

So it’s come to this.   L.A. Clippers rookie Blake Griffin won the NBA Slam Dunk championship by jumping over a car as teammate Baron Davis lobbed an ally oop pass to him while a gospel choir crooned R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly.”

Gimme a break. 

What’s next?  Jumping over a flaming pit of oil or filled with live rattlesnakes?  Beyond the Cirque De Soleil meets Harlem Globetrotters shit,  it’s another sign of how unwatchable the NBA has become and the depths they’ve sunk trying to get people to wake up and pay attention.   The season drags on and on with bored players dragging their asses up and down the court, clanging bricks off the rim, missing layups, kicking the ball off their foot on a rare fast break while the paying customers slumber peacefully up in the nosebleed section of cavernous stadiums. 

I don’t recall when I stopped watching pro basketball.   Maybe it was about the time it was more fun playing NBA Live than watching a live NBA game.    The slam dunk contest was a lot more enjoyable when you actually had the league’s best players like Julius Erving, Dominique Wilkins and Michael Jordan participating in it.    The dunk is the most overdone shot in basketball as it is.   A dunk is sweetest when it happens in an actual game and when someone is getting posterized.   At least when Dr. J. and his Airness dunked in the contest it was plausible to take off from the free throw line and soar in for a reverse, double-clutch, windmill dunk.   When was the last time someone parked their car on the court during a game?  

"Pouting? I am not. Stop pickin' on me."

The problem with the NBA lies beyond the usual suspects (too many teams with too little talent spread too thinly between them,  too many young players with lousy fundamentals, no sense of what the game was like before them and piss-poor attitudes currently exemplified by Sacramento Kings 1st round enfant terrible, DeMarcus Cousins, 20-year-old one-and-done wonder from Kentucky who already earns more in one year than most people will in a dozen lifetimes.  

Cousins has been fined, disciplined and suspended several times by the Kings, most recently for coming to blows with a teammate who took the last shot in a game Cousins felt should have been his instead.   Cousins is blessed with an all-star body and cursed by a pre-school attitude.   He’s spoiled, selfish, and has a huge sense of entitlement.  Justifiably so since he returned from his suspension in time to play in the NBA All-Star Rookies vs. Sophomores game where he scored 33 points primarily due to Washington Wizards point guard John Wall dishing out a record 22 assists.

Hopefully, Cousins didn’t punch out Wall’s lights for not exclusively feeding him all those dimes.

There are trouble signs in David Stern’s toyshop.  There’s big-time labor unrest on the horizon with the owners expected to lock the players out next season.  Stern says too many franchises are losing money and the league bought the New Orléans Hornets when no rich sap stepped forward.   The Kings are supposedly contemplating relocating to Anaheim.   Since the Kings have before resided in Kansas City and Cincinnati before cutting and running from those burgs the residents of Anaheim probably shouldn’t invest too much in DeMarcus Cousins approved gear.

Even more troubling for Stern, the longest-tenured commissioner in pro sports is a dire warning from Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights that the NBA’s core demographic, White men, may not be loving this game as much as before.   Writing in The Daily Beast  Bissinger says, “Based on various statistics, the percentage of African-American players in the NBA has remained relatively constant over the past decade, fluctuating between 72 and 75 percent. The number of foreign-born players has increased exponentially to about 18 percent. The number of white American players, meanwhile, has decreased from 24.3 percent in the 1980-81 season to roughly 10 percent now.”

How long will White guys rock LeBron and Kobe jerseys before they look around and notice the NBA has become a game dominated by players that don’t look like them?   The days when great White ballers such as Larry Bird, Chris Mullin and John Stockton dominated has been superseded by far lesser lights such as J.J. Reddick, Kirk Hinrich and Josh McRoberts. You know something is wrong when the Boston Celtics don’t have a single White player.  Take out the NBA foreign-born players and the best American born White player is Kevin Love who toils in obscurity because he plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves.  

Love played in his first All-Star game as a replacement for the injured Yao Ming.  He could have just as well stayed home with his two points and four rebounds in 11 meaningless minutes.    Hey Kevin, Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash think you suck. 

If there’s no lockout and abbreviated season, I expect someone knucklehead to try to top Griffin by slam dunking over an Escalade instead of a wimpy little Kia.  Maybe next time pop the hood just before the contestants wearing jerseys covered in raw pork chops with a pack of starving pit bulls chasing them for an extra degree of difficulty.  

The fans will eat it up.  If not them at least the dogs will. 

White men can't jump but they can yank down rebounds.