LeBron Proves You CAN Go Home Again.

I’m back. Get it?

It’s a good thing for both LeBron James personally and for the city of Cleveland specifically that after a bitter four-year estrangement, he’s coming back to the Cavaliers to try to finish what he started. It’s an even better thing for those of whom live in Ohio where this whole “is he or isn’t he” scenario has played out in real-time.

The way James handled The Return beat the hell out of the public relations fiasco that was The Decision. Everything about The Decision was overstated, overblown and a barely concealed flipping the middle finger to Northeast Ohio where James toiled seven years carrying a Cavaliers team mostly devoid of talent. Bitter feelings and bad karma abounded on both sides though Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert carried it too far with a poison pen letter soaked in Haterade that could be found on the team’s website as recently as a week ago.

“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.

Not one of Gilbert’s non-James teams finished above .500. The bank stayed closed.

That letter has since been scrubbed from the Cavaliers website, but the Internet never forgets no matter how much Gilbert wishes it would.

LeBron’s words to Sports Illustrated (and quite noticeably not ESPN) were far more gracious in showing the grace, class and maturity he had developed in four years that were missing in Gilbert’s published temper tantrum.    If you haven’t read it you definitely should.   It’s pretty damned impressive reading.

I’m not having a press conference or a party. After this, it’s time to get to work.

When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.

I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when. After the season, free agency wasn’t even a thought. But I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown. I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.

To make the move I needed the support of my wife and my mom, who can be very tough. The letter from Dan Gilbert, the booing of the Cleveland fans, the jerseys being burned — seeing all that was hard for them. My emotions were more mixed. It was easy to say, “OK, I don’t want to deal with these people ever again.” But then you think about the other side. What if I were a kid who looked up to an athlete, and that athlete made me want to do better in my own life, and then he left? How would I react? I’ve met with Dan, face-to-face, man-to-man. We’ve talked it out. Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?

Michael Wilbon, who is from Chicago, said it well when he noted James has “Midwestern values” and he honestly LIKES living in Northern Ohio. James could live anywhere  on the planet. What’s so terrible about going back home?

When LeBron left four years ago and more importantly, HOW he left was awkward, clumsy and a hot mess of hype, bad juju and ugliness. He went out like a punk. I called him “LeGone” and meant every word of the contemptuous vitriol I spat his way.

But a funny thing happened over the last four years. My harsh feelings toward James disappeared. How he played on the court with the Heat and how he lived his life off the court with his family won me over. We never hear about James getting in trouble, being busted for drugs, shooting up strip clubs at 2:00 am, banging women coast to coast and dropping’ Little LeBrons all over the U.S.A. From all appearances, James is a solid, stable Family Guy who stays out of the headlines with all the usual non-sports related shenanigans.

Will the second time around be just dust in the wind for James?

As regards Dan Gilbert goes he was a total a-hole the way he handled LeBron taking his talents to South Beach. He spewed contempt for his lone superstar. But for all his bluster, Gilbert had to know how screwed he really was once James left town. He said they would win a championship before James did but it didn’t quite turn out that way.

Check the Cavs record since the ’09-10 season.

09-10: 61-21 (James’ last year in Cleveland)
10-11: 19-63
11-12: 21-45 (lockout shortened season)
12-13: 33-49

If you were Dan Gilbert wouldn’t you pretty much kiss LeBron’s ass to get him back?

Dwayne Wade weighed in with his own thoughts on his former teammate’s return to the Buckeye State:

As a friend and a teammate, I am sad to see my brother LeBron leave to begin a new journey. In 2010, we decided to come together all for one goal — to win championships and we succeeded. We were friends when we first joined the league and created an unbreakable bond the past four years. Our collaboration will always be very special to me both personally and professionally. We shared something unique and he will always be part of my family. LeBron made the right decision for him and his family because home is where your heart is. I know this was not an easy decision to make and I support him in returning to his roots. As an organization, a community, and as individuals, we achieved the goals we set when we first signed on together. We are champions.

Washington Wizards v/s Miami Heat December 18,...

King James and D-Wade say goodbye to all that.

Classy, but then the Miami Heat is a class organization as other well wishes to Lebron from team owner Micky Arison and general manager Pat Riley have echoed Wade’s sentiments. When James returns to Miami in the future he knows he will hear the boos of the disappointed fans, but they will likely be drowned out by the applause of the grateful ones remembering the four consecutive championship appearances and two wins King James led the Heat to.

If Wade is ready to move on, why should I hate on LeBron for coming home to take care of unfinished business? Sure he may never win a championship with the Cavaliers, but it won’t be because he didn’t come back to try.

There are plenty of unlikable owners who own great teams. I am not going to boo the Cavs because their boss is a jerkwad. Plenty of us have worked for bosses who were bastards, but we did the job and cashed the check anyway. Why should we hold James to a higher standard then we do ourselves?

Let’s be honest here. James did what he thought was best for him and his family.  I know there are “fans” who honestly believe LeBron should have put their needs ahead of his own.   They need to set the alarm clock and wake the hell up.

Welcome Home King James.   Now can I get back to focusing on NFL football camps opening Friday?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s the “Return of the King.” You got a problem with that?

 

The Power Belongs to the Players in the NBA.

Brothers gonna work it out.

Look at this picture.

April 28, 2014 marked the 47th anniversary of Muhammad Ali‘s refusal to be inducted into the U.S. Army.

At Ali’s side during the press conference to announce his disinterest in being drafted to go off to fight the Vietnamese were several prominent athletes who were to show support of the G.O.A.T. Maybe you recognize a few of them?

Imagine if you can what it would be like if there were a Bill Russell, Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar willing to step away from protecting their wallets at all costs and dare to stand up as brave, strong and proud Black men against a racist slave owner like Donald Sterling.

Then realize you are imagining and wake up and shake your head in sorrow because what happened then seems nothing more than a dream that could never happen again. The day of the socially conscious athlete seems to have passed and what we have in their stead are better compensated and safely neutered eunuchs.

Sterling: A master with no more slaves.

But then again, there are still men who are willing to say “Enough!”   In less than a week after the news broke of Sterling’s comments to his girlfriend he was gone.  Banished from the league and his team up for sale and all because the NBA owners and commissioner faced a stark choice:  smack Sterling on the wrist with a fine and suspension and wait for the storm to pass or throw his ugly ass overboard with cement shoes because all hell was going to break loose if they didn’t.  These are not stupid people and the dumped The Donald.

It’s always easy to tell others what they should do in situations you’re not in yourself (and most of us will never cash an NBA-sized paycheck), so I grant what I think doesn’t factor into the decision NBA players faced whether they would boycott playoff games to protest Sterling’s slave master mindset as the owner of the L.A. Clippers.

Sterling’s stupidity is not new to the owners or the players. The difference is now there is a will among the players to do something about Sterling.   If three or four teams–not players–all decided not to play their games, the shock to the system of professional sports would be seismic.

As long as NBA ballers are dunking on Sportscenter and saying silent about anything happening in the real world, the league, the owners and the corporate sponsors of both are happy to sit back and counting the money. But let the Bulls, Wizards, Thunder, Grizzlies and Warriors all refuse to take the court in solidarity with the Clippers and the players will see they make the game and can break it.  The players ARE the NBA. Nobody pays hundreds of dollars to watch Sterling sitting on the sidelines with his hands resting on his enormous guts as his gold-diggers and booty calls smile prettily and wait for Mr. Sugar Daddy to buy them a Ferrari, a Range Rover, two Bentleys and a million dollar apartment.

The fans fill the seats, rock the gear and cheer for King James, Durant, and Kobe to give them a thrill. Nobody ever paid money to watch an owner own.

The Thunder without Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Bulls without Joakim Noah, the Wizards without John Wall, the Thunder without Zach Randolph, the Warriors without Stephen Curry and the Clippers without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are not subject to being swapped out with a strike-breaking scab. You can’t replace them with subs from the D-league or scrubs off the street.

The players in pro sports have more power than they know and once having tasted it, I doubt they will willingly give it up.

It’s not where we stand in times of comfort that matter, it’s where we stand in times of turmoil. If my boss is doing everything but calling me a nigger to my face, I always have the option to clean off my desk, drop off my pass card and step. I might be choking down peanut butter and crackers and chasing it with a cup of water, but some things are worth it.

Anyone who would place financial compensation over simple human dignity has skewed priorities. Some things are worth giving up a fat check for. Some things are worth walking away from.

David Stern left the Sterling mess for Adam Sliver to clean up (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

David Stern left the Sterling mess for Adam Sliver to clean up (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Some things are worth being a free man instead of a scared slave for.  What price do you place on your humanity?

The hardest part of the hammer Silver dropped on Sterling isn’t the fine and not even the suspension. It’s forcing a rich man to sell his toy.

Donald Sterling is not going to go quietly. He’s refused for years to sell his team. He feeds off of the fame and the notoriety of being one of 30 rich guys who own a NBA team. He’s 80 years old and sitting on a billion bucks. He may decide suing the shit out of the NBA isn’t the worst way to spend his sunset years.

That’s for the lawyers to worry about.  The league has changed and perhaps irrevocably.   Perhaps only for a moment.   The mantra of the 21st Black athlete has been I just play ball. Don’t say anything about anything that might piss someone off. I’m just a jock. What happens in the real world isn’t important, doesn’t matter. Keep your head down. Cash the check. Keep it moving.

The spirit of unity and solidarity which brought Russell, Abdul-Jabbar, Brown and others to stand with Ali at the most critical point of his career was a singular and inspirational moment.   The story of how the NBA players rallied to remove from the league the cancer that was Donald Sterling doesn’t have as dramatic a moment as one photograph yet it is no less inspirational.

A simple gesture, a quiet protest, a chilling effect.

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Kobe Bryant: Dumb Jock

Kobe Bryant is a great baller, not a great thinker. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

There are many great sports figures I respect, but only a few I admire. Among that small (and getting smaller) number are Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown and both for their achievements within their chosen endeavors as well as the bravery to stand up as proud and strong Black men no matter what it cost them (and it cost them both plenty).

We should celebrate these men while they are still with us and mourn them when they are gone. Not just because neither boxing or football are the games they were when Ali and Brown towered over them, but because whatever factory of courage produced these American idols has long since shut down the line, closed up shop, and gone out of business.

There are still great sports figures whose achievements want respect, but far fewer whose pride isn’t simply ugly egotism and whose strength fades away when they attempt to express informed opinions on matters they have no grasp of.

Which brings us to Kobe Bean Bryant, the “Black Mamba” and gradually descending star of the Los Angeles Lakers whose 17th season was limited to six games due to injuries. Bryant wasn’t able to slow the lottery-bound Lakers’ descent to the second-worst record in the NBA Western Conference.   Still, while he can’t knock down jumpers, he can lob bricks at his team, his coach, and rivals like the Miami Heat’s LeBron James.

Speaking in a New Yorker profile, Bryant slammed King James for a 2012 photo of the Miami Heat team dressed in hoodies, heads bowed in respectful homage to Trayvon Martin, the teenager slain by vigilante George Zimmerman. Bryant swatted away what he perceived as a knee-jerk attempt by James to show racial solidarity with Martin.

“I won’t react to something just because I’m supposed to, because I’m an African-American. That argument doesn’t make any sense to me. So we want to advance as a society and a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American we immediately come to his defense? Yet you want to talk about how far we’ve progressed as a society? Well, we’ve progressed as a society, then don’t jump to somebody’s defense just because they’re African-American. You sit and you listen to the facts just like you would in any other situation, right? So I won’t assert myself.”

That should be easy.  When has Bryant ever asserted himself as an African-American?

Bryant was born in suburban Philadelphia, but his dad Joe “Jellybean” Bryant moved the family to Italy when Kobe was six. Kobe spent much of his early years outside of the U.S. speaks both Italian and Spanish and got his name from the Japanese beef his parents saw on a restaurant menu and maintains a love/hate relationship with the town of his birth.

 

Kobe’s not completely wrong.  Supporting someone just because they’re Black is the wrong thing to do, but LeBron and the Heat players didn’t support Trayvon Martin because he was Black.   They supported him because he was innocent.  They supported him because he was a victim.  They supported him because Black people who aren’t obscenely wealthy and totally clueless realize superstar status won’t protect them because they are still Black.

Did Kobe not notice there were a lot of White people who were rocking hoodies in support of Trayvon?

I’ve never warmed up to Bryant. Love his game. Hate everything else unrelated to his game. He’s never been a leader, never been an inspiration, never been anyone worth looking up to. He’s a “Me” guy not a “We” guy. It’s all about him and never about anyone else. Kobe, like Michael Jordan, has spent the majority of his life saying nothing about race in America.  He should  keep quiet about subjects he knows nothing about and he knows nothing about Trayvon Martin.

Bryant is a Black men whose identification with how African-Americans experience life is suspect.  This is something Barack Obama was accused of, but Bryant is living the dream where his wealth and success seemingly insulates him from harsh realities.

Brown caught heat last December for criticizing Bryant’s Switzerland approach to race matters.

“He is somewhat confused about culture, because he was brought up in another country,” Brown said on The Arsenio Hall Show . (Bryant spent part of his childhood in Italy, where his father played professional basketball.) “[Bryant] doesn’t quite fit what’s happening in America.”

In the 1960s, Brown pulled together a collection of top black athletes who shared his social activism. “If I had to call that summit all over,” he said, “there would be some athletes I wouldn’t call. Kobe would be one of them.”

Bryant took to Twitter to fire back at Brown with a sneering, “A ‘Global’ African American is an inferior shade to ‘American’ African American?? #hmmm. that doesn’t sound very #Mandela or #DrKing sir.”

It’s impressive Bryant knows who Mandela and King were but he doesn’t get how they laid their lives on the line for the cause of racial and social justice.  Jim Brown did too.  Bryant believes he floats about mundane trivialities of being Black in the post-racial paradise he made for himself.  Kobe is in La-La Land.  His above it all attitude mirrors that of another L.A. based superstar,  O. J. Simpson.

The hoodie is not the problem. The perception of the hoodie is.

Not a Black thing. More like a human thing.

The late sportswriter Ralph Wiley deconstructed the Juice’s attempted Escape From Blackness fantasy in an ESPN column and it still applies to the Black Mamba. “O.J. tried and almost succeeded at being everything but a black guy — and, more important, his own guy.”

“He fooled himself. He fooled white people. But he didn’t fool very many black people. Not the ones who knew him well, anyway.”

Who really knows Kobe Bryant?   Kobe has never before taken a stand on any social issue or controversy in the news.  This is why he kept his mouth shut.  He knew something stupid would fall out of it.

Bryant took to Twitter again, but this time there was a decidedly different message dribbling out of his brain.

“Travon Martin was wronged THATS my opinion and thats what I believe the FACTS showed. The system did not work #myopinion #tweetURthoughts”

Bryant hasn’t asserted himself on yet is the proper spelling on George Zimmerman’s victim. It’s “Trayvon,” notTravon.” You would think a guy named “Kobe” would sweat a detail like that.

It is undeniable Kobe Bryant is among the select few in the history of NBA who as an athlete and winner belongs among the few, the elite and clearly superior talents of the game.

It is equally undeniable he is a supreme jerk off it.

"So what was up with the hoody, man?'

“So what was up with the hoody, man?’

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Trapped In the Closet When Bigotry Blocks the Door

"Multiple sources say I'm a damn fool."

“Multiple sources say I’m a damn fool.”

Sometimes the backlash to a news story interests me more than the story does.

Veteran NBA journeyman Jason Collins coming out as the first active player in the NBA is a big deal.  It’s  not a new deal.  Women have come out for years in tennis and basketball, but this is a man’s world so apparently nothing means anything until a guy does it first.

Collins has bounced around the NBA with six teams and the kindest thing you can say about his game is he’s tall and far from a prime-time player.  As a NBA insider, Chris Broussard is a prominent figure in ESPN’s army of experts.   During a discussion on Outside the Lines with LZ Granderson, a fellow ESPN contributor and former Journalist of the Year as named by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, Broussard showed another side of himself; a devout Christian who condemns homosexuals  for “openly living in unrepentant sin.”

“I’m a Christian. I don’t agree with homosexuality. I think it’s a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is. L.Z. knows that. He and I have played on basketball teams together for several years. We’ve gone out, had lunch together, we’ve had good conversations, good laughs together. He knows where I stand and I know where he stands. I don’t criticize him, he doesn’t criticize me, and call me a bigot, call me ignorant, call me intolerant.

jason_collins-si

“In talking to some people around the league, there’s a lot Christians in the NBA and just because they disagree with that lifestyle, they don’t want to be called bigoted and intolerant and things like that. That’s what LZ was getting at. Just like I may tolerate someone whose lifestyle I disagree with, he can tolerate my beliefs. He disagrees with my beliefs and my lifestyle but true tolerance and acceptance is being able to handle that as mature adults and not criticize each other and call each other names.

“… Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an opnely premarital sex between heterosexuals, if you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I do not think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”

— Chris Broussard, ESPN, 4/29/2013

Jason Collins in “action.”

Throwing in premarital sex between heterosexuals with an “openly homosexual lifestyle” is a slick bit of false equivalency by Broussard but I don’t see him criticizing an “openly HETEROsexual lifestyle. ”  Not everybody believes in the Bible, Jesus Christ or God and their lack of belief deserves the same tolerance as Broussard’s  devout Christian beliefs.

The capper is this bit of smug intolerance by Broussard, “So I would not characterize that person as a Christian, because I don’t think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”

Religious Theory 101 taught by Professor Broussard will be beginning in 10 minutes class, so please take your seats!

It’s good Broussard can contain his disgust with Granderson’s sexual orientation long enough to play a pick-up game of basketball and swallow a sandwich afterwards without gagging on it, but he’s still playing the “love the sinner, hate the sin” card.   How’s that shake out for the millions of other gays who Broussard doesn’t break bread with?  To me it sounds like some of that bigotry, ignorance and intolerance Broussard doesn’t want to be associated with, but pointedly perpetuates is kicking in.

Broussard could have–SHOULD have–said he had “no comment” and kept his religious dogma to himself. Instead he chose to cast the first stone.

He can’t complain now when he gets stones flying back in return.

We’re all entitled to our opinions and they can be as strong as vinegar, but when we put those opinions out there on Front Street, we’re RESPONSIBLE for what we say and write. Broussard is an employee of ESPN and if they choose to defend or suspend him that’s their call. There will be consequences either way. But when you go on national TV saying things about homosexuals that Broussard did, you aren’t going to win that fight. Homophobia is indefensible and even when presented as “God’s will” it remains so.

If Broussard is so religious, how does he square the NBA playing games on Sunday, the Lord’s Day?  Doesn’t the Bible frown on tattoos?  If it does LeBron James is going to hell.  I look forward to Broussard’s future expose of NBA Baby Daddy drama caused from all the horny heterosexuals spreading their seed in the wombs of willing women across America

That should be upcoming sometime soon.  Like NEVER.  Thou shalt not infringe upon the prerogative of straight men to screw around.

The beliefs of Christians should be respected, but their faith does not trump another human being’s rights to live and love how they choose. Aren’t there enough dire emergencies for people of religious faith to worry about than what consenting adults do?

I no more want a “gay agenda” intruding upon my life than I do a “Christian agenda.” This is an excellent opportunity for people to mind their own business. They should take it.

Let Jason Collins live his life. You don’t have to applaud his decision to come out but to stand in judgment of it risks your own moral standing as your own sheets may not be as spotless as you imagine them to be.   The end of the world has been prophesied since the first man looked up at the darkening sky in fear until he realized it was only the sun setting and night falling.

One day the world will end.  I sincerely doubt its cause will be because two people of the same sex fell in love.

Abuse of the Elderly (or Why Air Jordan Against King James is a Bad Idea)

Michael, please.  Don't embarrass yourself.

Michael, please. Don’t embarrass yourself.

The silliest debate is What If the best of the best of one era could square off against the best of another?   Depending on the quality of the match-up,  the advantage will almost always go to the younger over the older.  Youth may be wasted on the young, but it’s a significant advantage over the old.

Michael Jordan owns the Charlotte Bobcats, the most terrible team in the NBA.  That’s pretty impressive to own the most terrible team in a league full of terrible teams such as the Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors, and Sacramento Kings, but the 16-54 Bobcats are the lousiest of the lousy.

The primary purpose of the Bobcats is to give better teams an easy win and offer Jordan dumbstruck young players he can scrimmage against, break a sweat, and entertain the fantasy that even now Jordan could play in the talent-diminished NBA.

He can’t.  There are some opponents even His Airness can’t beat and one-on-one Father Time hasn’t lost a game yet.

Which isn’t going to stop rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist from feeding the fantasy after he admitted he lost to Jordan playing one-on-one.

“It was hard for me,” Kidd-Gilchrist said,  “I lost. He’s the greatest man that ever played the game.

“Oh, yeah. He’s good.”

Okay, MKG.  You’ve shown how much you can brown nose the boss.  Now get back out there on the court and do what you do best.  Losing repeatedly.

Hey LeBron, where's the rest of yours?

Hey LeBron, where’s the rest of yours?

Anyone who thinks a 50-year old Michael Jackson can come off the golf course to ball with dudes half his age is on dope or dog food.

The only thing MJ can do in the NBA on the court at this point is to get his feelings hurt. Badly.

I read a ESPN story about Mikey wanting to get back on the court and hoop. Puh-leeze. He’d better sit his butt down in the executive seats and watch his lousy team get creamed. The Heat pounded the snot out of the Bobcats on Sunday, 109-77 and number #23 was nowhere to be found.

Could you imagine Jordan trying to challenge LeBron James one-on-one? There would be nothing but broken ankles, soiled skivvies and bad karma from Jordan. I like Mike, but Space Jam was a looooonnng time ago.  At this point even Bugs Bunny could dunk on him.   If he could find a time capsule and go back to when he was 25 he could give Lebron a game.  At 50, it’s not going to even be contest.  Mike would face someone stronger, faster, bigger and who could take him to the hole repeatedly.   LeBron should spot Mike the first shot because it would be the only one he’d get.

His Airness could hang with King James…for all of one, maybe two trips up and down the court. LeBron would kill Michael. Not just beat him like a runaway slave. He would KILL Jordan. He’d go up on M.J. for a sick dunk like he put on Jason Terry last week, but Jordan would hit the floor and dissolve in a puff of smoke and dust. OLD smoke and dust.

“Oh, yeah. He’s good.”

“Dear Mike. You ARE too old for this shit. Love, Father Time.”

 

Correction.  Past tense.  WAS good.  Jordan WAS the greatest player of all time in the NBA and it’s not even a close call.  I loved watching Julius Erving  play but he wasn’t better than Jordan.   Larry Bird had a sweeter shooting stroke and a competitive streak as mean and nasty as Jordan’s, but he wasn’t better than Jordan.   Shutting down Kareem Abdul-Jabbar exquisite (and never duplicated) “Sky Hook” was an impossibility, but Kareem wasn’t better than Jordan.

But that was then and then was from between 1984 to 1998 as the unquestioned leader of the Chicago Bulls.    The Michael Jordan whose ego told him it would be a good idea to come out of retirement to  play for the Washington Wizards from 2001 to 2003?   The M.J. who used to slap his own teammates upside the head should have slapped that guy back into a rocking chair.    Well, that 40-something Jordan should be slapping this one and anybody else who doesn’t want to see his legacy tarnished any further by yet another pointless comeback.

Jordan didn’t have the reflexes to stay with Allen Iverson after his killer crossover juked him outta his jockstrap.   And now you want Jordan to drag his ass up and down the court trying to stay with the bigger, stronger, faster and BETTER LeBron James?

Even Kobe Bryant knows better than that.     James is 28.  Bryant is 34.  Jordan is 50.   Kobe can’t get out of LeBron’s 6’8″, 250 pound body quick enough when he’s making a special delivery slam dunk.   Kobe isn’t likeable, but he’s not stupid.   What would Jordan do with James barreling down on him full speed and bad intentions?   If he’s smart he steps aside and says, “Pardon me, Mr. James”  otherwise he had better leave  final instructions on what to do with the body.

Somethings are not “must-see TV.”   Jordan might choose Bryant over James if he were holding a fantasy draft for the Bobcats, but that’s only because going mano-a-mano, Bryant would just make Jordan look stupid.    Going up against King James would be abusing the elderly and who wants that?

Let that dream go.   It would only be a nightmare for Michael.    Jordan likes poking the bear, but the bear named LeBron would eat hm alive and not even bother to swallow.  He’d spit him out and just glare at him with a sad look that says, “I can’t believe you wanted any of this.”

Please don’t encourage abuse of the elderly.  Let M.J. have his awful team, his cigars, his swirlie girlfriends, his Ball Park franks and tagless undies and his hideous and overpriced sneakers.  In his time and prime Jordan used to enjoy to take sadistic pleasure out of bullying weaker, slower opponents.

I’m not so cruel as to enjoy seeing the young bully now being bullied.

Bynum Busts Out

The star of “Space Jam” is tanned, rested and ready!

I have a long post I’m working on in observance of the ten year anniversary of the Iraq War and it’s not finished yet,  but I wanted to briefly follow up on  Mr. Andrew Bynum, the Greatest Center Never to Play for the Philadelphia 76ers following the news he will undergo season-ending surgery on is chronically crappy knees.

Philadelphia now has to decide if it will offer the former All-Star center any kind of long-term deal without him ever playing a second for the franchise.

Bynum’s season is officially over, and he’s set for season-ending arthroscopic surgery on both knees Tuesday. He has not played this season because of bone bruises in both of his knees. The 25-year-old is an unrestricted free agent and may never play a game for the Sixers.

Bynum last talked to the media on March 1 and said he would not play in pain or be pressured into playing and risking a potential nine-figure payday.

“I think being healthy is more important than everything else,” Bynum said. “If I am healthy, I’ll get a deal. I have to be able to play and I need to get to the point with my body where I’m able to play, however long that takes.”

“Huh?”

The Sixers can offer Bynum more years and more money than any other team.

They would be damn fools to do so.  Which means they probably will.

I do not care that Andrew Bynum‘s season is over.  What season?  This stiff never played a single solidarity second as a Philadelphia 76er.    I visited the official website of Andrew Bynum at andrewbynum.com.  The site is a big piece of crap like the lazy bastard its named for.  Want to read Andrew’s blog?  “There are currently no blog entries.  Check back soon.”   Yeah, I’ll be sure to do that.  Want to get up to date on Andrew Bynum news?  The last entry is dated December 11,, 2011.   Under the category of “Gameday” there’s a drop-down menu including “Breakfast With Bynum.”  Oh boy!  That sounds exciting.

There are no entries under “Breakfast With Bynum.”  But they are coming soon!

There are  a few small pics of Bynum rocking the gear of his ex-team, the Los Angeles Lakers.   There isn’t a single picture of Bynum in his Sixers colors, which makes sense considering he never played for the Sixers and possibly never will.

Here is a list of NBA 2013-14 free agents.   Find a center and pick one.   Anyone you choose—ANYONE–would be a better player for the 76ers than Andrew Bynum.

I would rather see  J.J. Hickson, Chris Kaman, Tiago Splitter or Al Jefferson rocking the Sixers colors than Andrew Bynum.

I would rather see former Sixers Samuel Dalembert, Marreese Speights, or Elton Brand COME BACK rocking the Sixers colors than Andrew Bynum.

I would rather see Zaza Pachulla, Johan Petro, Andray Blatche, or Ryan Hollins rocking the Sixers colors than Andrew Bynum.

“Hi, I’m Primoz. I got mad skills.”

I would rather see Isaac Austin, Primoz Brezec, Calvin Booth, Zendon Hamilton,  Manute Bol, Sharone Wright or Tony Massenburg rocking the Sixers colors than Andrew Bynum.

I would rather see Mark McNamara, Jeff Ruland, Todd McCullough, Matt Geiger, Efthimios Rentzias, Christian Welp  or Shawn Freakin’ Bradley rocking the Sixers colors than Andrew Bynum.

I would rather see Dwight How….naaaaaaah….can’t do it.

I do not care where Andrew Bynum plays.  He can play in the NBA, the WNBA, the NCAA or NASCAR.  Who cares?

Just don’t pay this zombie a max contract to turn in a performance worthy of Ron Jeremy.

Cut your losses.  Turn the page.  Lose his phone number.   Let someone else play the fool.   Let somebody else be the sucker that gives this occasionally brilliant, but mostly lazy, unmotivated, disinterested, $16 million dollar slacker to loaf, groan he’s in pain and cash his monstrous paychecks.

Do the Sixers need a reminder what the definition of insanity is?    They tried to make a big move and it blew up in their faces.    The Bynum experiment was a complete and total failure.    Thankfully, they had insurance to cover their losses with Bynum, but having avoided a crippling financial blow, do they now want to turn around and stand on the firing line again with this dude?

Goodbye and good riddance Andrew Bynum.  Now the trade of Moses Malone is only the second-worst trade in 76ers history.

“Sure, I suck. But I don’t suck as much as Andy Bynum.”

Andrew Bynum: I’m Robbing You Without A Gun and My Hair Looks Fabulous

The Jackson 5 called and they want their hairstyle back.

I’m not much of a NBA fan and not even much of a Philadelphia 76ers fan.   Some of my favorite players won Sixers uniforms.   Moses Malone.  Charles Barkley.  Maurice Cheeks.  Allen Iverson.  Julius Erving.   There isn’t anyone on the 2012-13 edition of the Sixers remotely approaching those guys.     The NBA is full of teams with dummies in the front office, coaches whom  haven’t won a thing yet are on huge ego-trips, poorly put together rosters, overpaid players loafing through the grind of the season  and it all cascades into a waterfall of failure.    This year’s 76ers accomplished all of that by making one wrong move.

That was supposed to change this season.   Having made some progress in the playoffs last year the Sixers got the idea they were only one player away from really making some noise and possibly challenging the mighty Miami Heat for Eastern Conference supremacy.   So they let Lou Williams, their leading scorer, leave as a free agent.   They used the amnesty clause to cut starting power forward Elton Brand loose.  Finally, they traded their best defensive player, Andre Iguodala as part of a three-team deal that brought the last piece of the puzzle to Philly, a legitimate 7-footer in the middle, Andrew Bynum.

And they lived miserably ever after.    It wasn’t supposed to be like this.  Sometimes you try to go big and make a big deal only to have  it go as horribly wrong  as possible.   That’s what happened to the Sixers.

Bynum hasn’t played a second for the Sixers due to his lingering knee issues and it looks like he never will.    The Sixers have the fifth-highest payroll in the NBA and over $32 million of it is tied up between two guys, Bynum and Brand, that haven’t played one second for them.   That goes beyond simple bad luck to bungling on a grand scale.    Having paid Bynum $16 million to do nothing but re-injure the knee he was supposed to be rehabbing while  bowling and to show off his hairstyles, the 76ers now find themselves in the awkward position of probably overpaying to keep him for next  season.

The person who will likely be blamed for this debacle is head coach Doug Collins.   Not a bad guy or a bad coach, but part of a “brain trust” that brought Bynum in, shipped a lot of players out, and all they have to show for it is a 23-38 record, losing 11 of their last 20 games, no playoffs and a nice seat at the NBA Draft Lottery.     This isn’t all Collins’ fault, but a lot of it is.   He wanted Bynum in the worst way and that’s exactly how he got him.

It’s sad to think there isn’t a coach in the NBA who could win with this team, but let’s face it when Spencer Hawes and Kwame Brown are getting major minutes in your frontcourt you are doomed.  Collins envisioned a Hawes/Bynum duo with Hawes playing the Pau Gasol role,  a skill set Hawes has never shown he has.  They would have been better served trading for Pau Gasol.

Barring a signed (not a sure thing) and a healthy (even less of a sure thing) Bynum, odds are the Sixers aren’t going to be any better next year even with a high draft pick because  Collins hates  giving minutes to young players.   Too bad because the Sixers need to ship out much of the scrap and spare parts that clog up the roster now.

The Sixers should bring back Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, Lavoy Allen and Arnett Moultrie.   With the exception of Holliday, none of them are All-Star material, but they could form the nucleus of a team that might one day be competitive if it decided to build its own talent through the draft rather than look for quick fixes that aren’t like Bynum.   I left off first round pick Evan Turner because while he may not be a bust,  he is beginning to look like he’ll never be a star either.    It’s  hard to since Turner is  trying to show what he can do without much help from the coach and a roster starved  of talent.

Either way, the Sixers have been bad enough to justify firing Collins and there’s got to be someone that can build something resembling a competitive team. Toward that end with   games left the talk is starting would it be better for the team if they started losing more in order to improve theirNBA draft lottery chances?

Collins would sooner commit ritual suicide than deliberately tank games to do…well, to do what exactly?  Add a few more ping-pong balls in the hopper?

“Stressed out? Do I LOOK stressed out?”

At some point you would think someone in the front office would go to D.C. and say, “Doug, we love ya man, but you gotta get over your infatuation for creaky old vets who can’t play anymore and ‘talents’ who really aren’t.   You’ve got to get younger, you’ve got to follow the formula of the Oklahoma City Thunder where you draft and nurture your own talent.   If you absolutely must make a deal for a veteran to fill a perceived need, don’t overreach to the point it sets you back instead of moving you forward.

LeBron James summed up The Sixers season in 20 words:  “Holiday is a great player, but he needs help,‘’ James said. “We all thought Bynum would be a huge piece for them.”   So did the Sixers.

This is the guy the Sixers wanted..

Another year of The Andrew Bynum Show starring his bad knees and fabulous hair styles would be reason enough to sue to have the 76ers broken up for rank incompetence and gross stupidity.

No way can you give this guy a max-deal contract.   It would be like giving a flame thrower to a pyromaniac.   You offer him a short three years and if he doesn’t like it, let him walk and Houston  or some other sucker can overpay him.

Remember the words of the former teammate who said of Bynum  “I’ve never met another player in the league who likes basketball less.”  Is that a guy it sounds like you want to build around?

We’ve seen ample evidence Bynum has no heart for the game, no loyalty to his teammates and whenever an opportunity arises to look immature and selfish he takes it.     The temptation is to write this season off as a lost cause, back up the Brink’s truck, shower Bynum with guaranteed millions and hope like hell he plays hard.

DON’T DO IT!

This is the one they got.

There can be only one.

Who will be the lord of the ring?

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.

No country (or playoffs) for these old men.

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.

King James versus the Heir Apparent. Let’s go!