Tag Archives: lebron james

The Decision: Jim Harbaugh Style

 

Harbaugh had a tough decision after his best moment as coach at Stanford.

THIS BLOG WAS SUPPOSED TO BE PUBLISHED BACK IN JANUARY BUT I GUESS I GOT SIDE TRACKED AND FORGOT ABOUT… FAIL!!! ANYWAY ENJOY IT NOW ONLY TEN MONTHS TOO LATE…

Of course Stanford people all feel that Jim Harbaugh should come back to Palo Alto. How would you feel about a guy that took over a 1-11 program at the bottom of the PAC-10 and took them to 12-1, an Orange Bowl win and a dark-horse national title contender in 2011?

With Andrew Luck returning for his junior year (redshift) earlier today all Harbaugh needs to do is sign a new deal and Stanford has it’s two main ingredients to make a charge to New Orleans in 2012.

The problem is that Harbaugh, unlike most sought after coaches who ditch their programs for greener pastures (Randy Edsall) is not under contract. Harbaugh can technically do what he wants to do. There are no obligations, no buyouts and no ditching bailing out on the responsibilities of the program he signed on with.

He’s a free agent, if you noticed he hasn’t asked to go anywhere because everyone is coming to him. The Miami Dolphins flew in to see him, Oakland and San Fran drove to his house to speak to him, he’s having his own LeBron James moment right now.

So the question in that sense truly is “What should he do?” Should he be like Gary Patterson and be loyal to the program he built up to it’s current glorious position and continue to build? As great as that sounds shouldn’t he also factor in the Greg Schiano factor?

Schiano is the Rutgers head coach who could’ve left while the iron was hot and taken the Miami or Michigan jobs when they were available. What he did instead was stay in Piscataway to try an build on the success that he had recently acquired from a 10-2 campaign in 2006. The result? Rutgers has returned to it’s mediocre ways and finished 4-8 this year and Schiano is stuck there.

Should he go back to his alma mater in Ann Arbor and resurrect Michigan?

Harbaugh chose San Francisco and hasnt looked back.

He played quarterback there and seems like the perfect guy to lead the maize and blue with his pro-style offense and tough demeanor. The problem is that the players currently in place are meant for a spread offense and his defense is… well… non existent. He has one big rebuilding job to in Ann Arbor that will be tougher to do than at Palo Alto due to the legacy and tradition at Michigan. He’ll have more room to breathe than Rich Rodriguez ever had but the pressure will be fierce no less.

What about the NFL? The 49ers and Raiders are a stones throw from his house and he’ll have to very young and talented teams at his disposal.

He has the backs (Frank Gore and Darren McFadden), the receivers (Vernon Davis and Jacoby Ford) and two pretty strong defenses, all each team needs is a QB and he should be set.

Except would you want to work for Al Davis in Oakland or the York family in San Francisco? The York clan has all but destroyed a once great franchise with their cheapness and ineffective way ls of running a franchise. As far as Davis goes… ask Art Shell, Lane Kiffin and Tom Cable how trying to work with the walking corpse turns out.

Miami? Eh. You’re QB is a Michigan man in Chad Henne, but he’s a bum. Then there’s the lack of a running game and questions in the middle of that defense.

What about Carolina? You get Jimmy Clausen… ok scratch that.

You see the myriad of decisions facing Harbaugh. He could stay at Stanford and contend for a title in the immediate future, resurrect one of the greatest college programs ever, return two legendary NFL teams to glory and duplicate the success of his brother John in Baltimore or who knows what.

Whatever his decision is it ain’t going to be an easy one. It’s a gift and a curse to be this wanted. Everyone adores you, but the wrong decision could set you back for a long time (Schiano, Rich Rod and Dan Hawkins). Harbaugh’s decision is way bigger than LeBron’s because it could affect two separate divisions of football at once. Heisman and a title, hail to the victors, or commitment to excellence… what should he do?


The Summer Of Durant

Kevin Durant has welcomed and dispatched all challengers this summer.

So, what have you done this summer? Gone on vacation? Went to a few shows? Drank a few beers and partied? Yeah sounds like a normal summer where everyone is happy that the winter coats are away and the only thing that matters are warm vacations on beaches and being lazy as hell.

Kevin Durant could’ve spent his summer doing the exact same thing as all of his, instead he’s been too busy becoming the new face of the NBA and quite possibly the most popular, and best basketball player on the planet.

Durant’s summer has been a constant highlight reel that has showed him dropping threes by the bucket, dunking from every possible angle and drawing more ooh’s and aah’s than the circus.

Durant has been the man of the summer in any sport. His acrobatics and mind-numbing performances have overshadowed the bleak outlook of the NBA lockout, the MLB playoff races and any other headline that has graced ESPN.

It’s been silly to be honest with you. First there was the 66 that he dropped at Rucker Park earlier in the month where a pull up three for a heat check turned into a YouTube phenomenon. Durant made the crowd erupt with every pull up bomb to the point where fans rushed the court after he hit a fourth consecutive three. Even the on court announcer lost his marbles as Durant stood and posed with the mob of fans with nothing but a screw face signifying “yeah, I’m nice.”

they'll be talking about the Rucker game for a long time

He’s put on shows at Dyckman park, toured China and the Philippines, balled out in gymnasiums all around the country and this past weekend in a matchup of D.C. and L.A. ballers it was Durant’s star that shined the brightest with 44 points in a win for his D.C. area Goodman League team over the L.A. based Drew League squad (led by OKC Thunder teammate James Harden coincidentally). It was a game that had a ton of hype coming into it thanks to Durant’s presence and that of John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and other ballers who came out. While everyone came to play it was Durant that controlled the action most and made the crowd of over 1500 stand in awe.

Not bad for a 22 year-old who’s coming off of his first conference finals appearance this year.

What I like most about this entire turn of events is how eager Durant is to go out there and show just how dominant of a player he is. There were times in the Dallas series where teammate Russell Westbrook stood in his way and wanted to take all of the big shots while Durant stood back helpless.

In these situations it’s just Durant and his opponent. He has the respect of his teammates at the Rucker, Goodman or any other spot so when he gets the ball they just clear out and let him do him. It’s done wonders for his game and his brand.

Whenever the NBA starts up its next season how can the league not make Durant its most focal piece? He’s always been known as a genuine guy with a quiet demeanor and a big heart, but now it looks like his game is reaching new heights.

With LeBron James’ hara kiri of his personal appearance to others in the league Durant is the perfect fit to replace him as the face of the league. Kids, adults, college ballers and the streets adore Durant from coast to coast. He cares about his image to the point that he puts his tattoos on one unseen area of his body so that he won’t mess up any marketing for himself, however he’s nowhere near as vein as James.

Durant is always active on Twitter and is eager to communicate with fans at all times. He always showcases other people on his page and is not afraid to let his guard down for a little bit of fun.

What really separates him from LeBron is that he wants to improve… and wants to fight for his respect. That’s the main reason why Durant is in Harlem, D.C., and L.A. balling on the courts against great pro and street ballers, he wants respect from all forms of the game and not just the league.

Going back to the Rucker Park game just look at his facial expressions. Look at how with every shot he takes and makes he slaps fives with fans, chest bumps rappers and plays with a killer mentality. He’s honing himself for the next time he takes the court and he’s staring Carmelo, LeBron or Kobe in the face and the game is in his hands. While LeBron finally tries to find a low post game in year 9 and is still searching for his killer instinct, Durant is getting his as we speak.

Live from New York its Kevin Durant.

(Side note: if you think Kobe doesn’t recognize Durant balling extra hard then you’re a fool. Why else would Kobe be at a Drew league game balling in a gym with 5 rings? Because Kobe competes, he sees Durant doing his thing, he saw the 66 in Harlem and thought to himself “I have to get out here and see what’s up.” He knows Durant is trying to position himself for the crown and Kobe still wants to match Jordan and isn’t satisfied himself just yet. Kobe didn’t ball in D.C. for the Drew-Goodman game, he didn’t have to. He proved his point already that he’s still around and he can still bring.

You know I used to really hate Kobe, but the older he gets I love him more and more.)

The question now is what happens when the summer ends and NBA players are heading overseas to make money during the lockout? Where will Durant go and what will he do?

Is Turkey an option, Russia? He’s rumored to be staring in a movie about basketball that will start shooting when NBA training camp would start. Durant’s stock is higher than any other player in the league right now. Everyone wants to know his moves, his thoughts and everything that has anything to do with him right now.

And he has this summer to thank for it all. His games at Rucker Park, Trinity, Dyckman and everywhere else that he has played in the last month and a half have dropped our jaws and made us look at him in a different light.

He’s scored a lot of points, wowed a lot crowds and has made himself the number one player to watch in the league whenever it starts up again. Kevin Durant has moved up the NBA’s pecking order and it doesn’t look like he’ll be coming down for awhile.

I think his summer turned out just fine.


Random Thoughts Vol.2

Hit me... I dare you.

It’s been a month… time for more random thoughts.

I’m pretty sure that even if Dontrelle Willis’s improbable comeback as a pitcher fizzles out, he can be a DH or first baseman with that bat.

The Pirates are now dead… I knew it couldn’t last.

FC Barcelona losing to Chivas USA is the equivalent of Michigan losing to Appalachian State.

Justin Verlander might throw 6 more no hitters this year… I’m not joking about that either.

The U.S. Women didn’t choke.

(I mean did you watch the game? Japan never died. They kept fighting back and took advantage of the opportunities that were given to them. Sure the U.S. missed chances in penalty kicks where the Japan goaltender all of a sudden looked like Ken Dryden. However, you can’t say that they choked the game away when Japan played well in the face of adversity. Sometimes teams give games away but most times teams pull victory from the jaws of defeat. That’s what Japan did.)

Isn’t it funny that Ben Roethlisberger provided good off-season news for the Steelers as opposed to everyone else?

I’m surprised Steve Williams didn’t rip Tiger Woods even more than he did.

The Red Sox have not had a solid starting staff for the entire season with bullpen issues… yet have been in first place since June. And you think Adrian Gonzalez doesn’t deserve MVP?

Randy Moss aint done… seriously.

Are Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand the more extreme version of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter?

Seguin and Marchand are really enjoying winning the Stanley Cup.

I hate Merrill Hoge… but he was right about Tim Tebow…

And LeBron James would back him up wouldn’t he.

(My least favorite basketball player who shrinks in the moment defending the most overrated athlete not named Jimmer Fredette… god has a sense of humor.)

Kevin Durant dropped 66 at the Rucker… somewhere Russell Westbrook was seething.

Nice to see that Shea Weber got $7.5 million in arbitration… he’ll get that when he’s a Red Wing next year too.

The most aggravating rotation in baseball would consist of A.J. Burnett, John Lackey, Barry Zito, Edinson Volquez and Zach Greinke… with Burnett leading the league in headaches.

(I hate A.J. Burnett.)

The Eagles are the new Heat.

Osi Umenyiora can talk about a new deal all he wants. However, if he follows up another big sack season with a small sack season… kick rocks.

Ocho and Brady… Jesus.

What do you think Carson Palmer will do with all that money now that he’s retired?

Kyle Orton has lost his starting jobs to Jay Cutler, Rex Grossman and Tim Tebow…if he went on a 12 month bender I wouldn’t judge him.

Oklahoma is no.1 in the coaches’ poll. The last team to start the season no.1 and finish it as such… 2004 USC… good luck Boomer Sooner.

Strasburg is coming back… *giddy face*.

Shaq and Barkley on TNT… I need my cable back and fast.

The Red Sox traded for Erik Bedard to help their rotation… his ERA at Fenway is near 7 lifetime… I’m starting to feel ok that the Yankees didn’t get anything before the deadline.

Ryan Howard in his last 3 games has 3 home runs and 6 RBI, yep it must be August.

Michael Irvin on the cover of a gay magazine to promote equality of all people. Don’t know if I would’ve done it but very gutsy.

I win... again.

Duke being investigated for violations in recruiting… told you that no one is clean anymore.

When is Verlander’s next start again?

(We’re at a point with Verlander that he is must see TV. Verlander throws harder than anyone else in the league and his location has improved to the point where now he is close to pinpoint accurate. If you play the Tigers and Verlander is up on the mound then you might as well take it as a loss. He’s currently baseball’s best hurler and he hasn’t even hit his prime yet. Imagine this guy in 4 years… scary.)

Yani Tseng is the most dominant athlete in the world right now. And I am well aware that she is a 22 year-old female golfer and not many people watch women’s golf, but you should watch her.

Dan Uggla has a 25 game hitting streak… yet is batting .213… ummm?

NFL players like talking smack about how bad Roger Goodell is in the media, yet the signed this new CBA like everything is ok. Either take action or shut the hell up.

Is it wrong that I’m more excited for Syracuse football than Ohio State football? Keep in mind that I’m an OSU grad though I grew up with the ‘Cuse.

When A-rod retires there will be no specials on his greatness, no lauding over his accomplishments… hell there maybe a party thrown just for the fact that we never get to hear his name again.

(I haven’t been on A-Rod in a while but he’s like a bad ex-girlfriend he always finds a way to drive you crazy.

Really A-rod… illegal poker rings? And you still go after MLB and the Yankees tell you not to?

The Yankees are in a pennant race, one game back of Boston with the biggest part of the season approaching and you decide to blow a few thousand in front of low lifes, coke users and violent outcasts.

Eat your heart out Red Sox Nation.

I always say that I’m over A-rod but I really mean it this time. If this is true and A-rod did violate MLB policy then the Yankees should find a loophole in his deal, drop him like a bad habit and let Eduardo Nunez go through his growing pains at third.

I’m over the A-rod drama, I’m over the fact that there is always something with him and I’m ready to move on from him. Hopefully the Yankees brass feels the same.)

Kate Upton’s a Yankees fan, thank you God.

Had to end it off positively. Have you ever seen Kate Upton? That would make anyone feel good even when your third baseman is a perennial screw up.


The Return Of Random Thoughts

Wait a minute... we're still over .500? High five!

You know what we haven’t done in a while? A random thoughts blog.

Just things I’ve thought about that maybe you have as well in the last few weeks of watching sports.

With so much going on as far as sports since March Madness I think it’s time to do some rehashing.

So without further ado… HERE WE GO!

Is Zach Greinke really worth it? I mean he is 7-3 but he’s got a 5.66 ERA.

Anybody else think Kenny Williams is lying about the Adam Dunn deal?

Josh Harrelson a year ago was buried on the bench at Kentucky with Enes Kanter coming in. A year later he was a key component in the Wildcats Final Four run and will get minutes off of the bench for the Knicks. Life.

Hopefully the Sedin Twins take boxing lessons this summer.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, please gain 20 pounds.

Even though she is six foot five how many of us would hit on Jan Vesely’s girlfriend?

Federer couldn’t beat Nadal, Nadal can’t beat Djokovic… So who’s he going to have a problem with?

Why is it that Joe Girardi is the only person who thinks Derek Jeter should lead off?

David Ortiz couldn’t hit anything for the last two years now all of a sudden he’s hitting .301 with 17 home runs and 49 RBI… hmmmm….

Lebron James dunking on a kid doesn’t help his image.

(honestly at this point LeBron could cure cancer and we’d still hate him. And yes I’m serious about that statement.)

Mario Chalmers is now my new least favorite athlete in the world.

Did any team in the NBA Draft really help itself?

Sabine Lisicki also plays tennis. We'll talk about that later.

Nicklas Lidstrom came back for his 20th season. Can we engrave his name on the Norris Trophy in 2012 already?

Lets face it, Dany Heatley will never be “the guy.”

Neither will Andy Murray.

Anybody else happy that Brian Cashman corrected Alex Rodriguez by saying that Robinson Cano is better that Jose Reyes?

Can I call Austin Rivers “Baby Doc?”

Did Jose Bautista really just score the most votes in All-Star voting history?

How awesome was it that Virginia won the lacrosse title?

(think about this for a second. In the last two years lacrosse’s two most controversial teams fought back from media hell to win a title. Last years Duke team won after three years of dealing with the ugly aftermath of a stripper rape allegation and this year Virginia won after one of it’s own murdered women’s lacrosse player Yeardley Love.

The image of the Cavs men’s team was brutally tarnished and the turmoil around both mens and women’s teams was enough make anyone not want to put on pads and a helmet and sprint out onto the field again. However, Virginia fought through it’s adversity and came out a winner. Their win over Maryland in the Memorial Day title game cast a fantastic light on the team an buried whatever demons were left from the 2011 season.

Very commendable indeed.)

Are the Pirates really a game and a half out of first place?

Who the hell is Mike Morse?

Brian Wilson needs to shave that beard… Now!

Is Jim Riggleman; a, a gangster, b, salty or c, out of his bleeping mind?

Iman Shumpert… And yes I’m still stuck on that pick.

How funny would it be if the Winnipeg Jets won the southeast division this year?

(Winnipeg is six hours north of Minneapolis.)

It’s July… NFL step on it.

(I’m serious. The New York Giants tick me off, Eli Manning makes bad throws, I’ll see 85 Coughlin faces and understand each of them… AND IF I MISS ONE FREAKING GAME I WILL HUNT ROGER GOODELL AND DEMAURICE SMITH DOWN!!!)

By the way, if the MLB locks out in November then there is a real possibility that Hockey may be the only game in town come 2012….

New theory behind the Flyers trades; maybe Paul Holmgren used Jeff Carter and Mike Richards just to get the Winter Classic in Philly and then dumped them afterwards… Nope, trade still makes no sense.

I know Brett Favre is retired, but I’m still uncertain.

Quick, 3 things about Luke Picknell. Ready and… GO!

Is Maryland football a better job than Connecticut football? Randy Edsall are you listening?

Seattle Sounders FC draws more fans than the Mariners…

Anybody else think Cam Newton will bomb?

I still have no caption for this.

No seriously are the Pirates really only a game and a half out of first place?

(why is this not a huge story? The Pirates haven’t had a winning season in almost 20 years. That’s back to the Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla days.

Ever since then they have traded every and I mean every good player that they’ve had and have been in a never ending rebuild mode. Now here there are with Andrew McCutcheon as a dark horse MVP candidate, an All-Star in Joel Hanrahan and the Brewers, Reds and Cards all looking back in disbelief.

If they make the playoffs they are the story if the year hands down.)

Sabine Lisicki… Mmmmmm.

Will Tiger Woods fade into oblivion?

Even though Roger Federer has “lost it” he’s still the third best tennis player in the world.

And lastly… Dirk, a $90,000 bottle of champagne and pictures with Birdman and Lil’ Wayne… In LeBron and D-Wade’s backyard.

Cough on that Miami.


All’s Well That Ends Well

Your 2011 NBA Champions

So here’s what I learned from the NBA this season:

 

1.As good as “Superfriends” are for star value and interest in the league they do not make for a good championship team.

 

For all of the hoopla made about the Miami Heat and their incredible acquisitions of Chris Bosh and LeBron James who else did they add to provide a spark off of the bench and to be a beast on the inside? Spending money on 3 high-priced free agents and not adding any role players that could give them consistent play ended up killing them in the end. They added over the hill bums in Juwan Howard and Zydrunas Ilgauskus to roam the middle and neither made a dent in these finals nor did James Jones or Eddie House.

 

The proper blueprint to building a champion is by making your team effective and competitive one through twelve on the floor…

 

Just like the Dallas Mavericks.

 

There is nothing glamorous about the Mavs; there was no need for glamour either. They had a big dog in Dirk Nowitzki, great secondary scoring in Caron Butler and Jason Terry, a big man to handle the low post in Tyson Chandler and spark plugs off of the bench in JJ Barea and Shawn Marion.

 

But when injuries happened to Butler and other scoring threat Roddy Beaubois look what happened; Deshawn Stevenson stepped into the starting lineup and provided great defense and timely three point shooting, Barea became a big threat scoring the ball and driving people crazy, Jason Kidd and Peja Stojakovic knocked down timely threes, and in the case of the Finals when backup center Brendan Haywood went down little used Ian Manhimi and Brian Cardinal gave them key minutes and make plays.

 

One through twelve Dallas had a remedy for what ailed them, Miami didn’t.

 

2. The best players in the league play their best when it matters.

 

Well done Dirk.

I’m pretty sure I’ve waxed poetically about the differences between Dirk and LeBron all postseason but here’s the last tidbit.

 

In game six entering the second half Dirk Nowitzki shot 1-12 (yet somehow Dallas was up by 2 at the half, thank you Jason Terry). Dirk could’ve packed it in and got hesitant… instead he finished 9-27 with 21 points including 10 in the fourth quarter that put Dallas ahead and they never looked back.

 

LeBron James started off great by hitting his first four shots and then he disappeared, again.

 

James finished with 21 points just like Dirk and shot better than Dirk at 9-15, but his aggressiveness, and heart weren’t in it after those first four shots hit. When the Heat were struggling offensively he went back to the passive, hide in the corner, “I don’t want any part of this” King James.

 

The most telling part about how truly unreliable James is in key moments came in the second half when Mario Chalmers (who balled out in this series by the way) had a 2-on-2 with James on his right and two Dallas defenders bearing down on him. Instead of passing to James he took it himself.

 

And that ends that conversation right there.

 

3. Good things come to those who wait.

 

Jason Kidd waited 17 years, was snubbed for two MVP’s and lost two finals before winning this one as a key role player.

 

Shawn Marion waited 12 years and changed his style from the run and gun Phoenix Suns to a more defensively minded player who shut down the games most athletic player in James.

 

Jason Terry waited 12 years and got over the heartbreak of 2006.

 

Rick Carlisle fought through being fired by the Pistons (Mike Brown style after winning 110 games in 2 years) and fired by the Pacers (couldn’t get them over the hump) and won with his least talented team.

 

And Dirk Nowitzki stayed in Dallas through all of the heartbreak, disappointment, let downs and watched other players win titles around him while he, arguably one of the top 10 players of all-time, stayed and stuck with Mark Cuban through it all and finally has a ring to call his own.

For these men it was definetly worth the wait

 

And he didn’t have to jump ship to do it.

 

4. LeBron James is a joke.

 

Scottie Pippen said that James could be better than Michael Jordan, Pippen should have his credentials revoked.

 

The truth is that James is not the best player in the league, he is not the chosen one, he is not a King, he is more Prince John from Robin Hood or Kind Richard III from Shakespeare lore, a spoiled brat who wants everything his way and wants everyone to do the work for him while he stands and watches.

 

After watching James shy away from late game drama, put every ounce of pressure on Dwyane Wade’s shoulders and watch him get owned by Terry on the offensive end (mind you James is 6 inches taller and 50 pounds heavier than Terry) we should finally realize that he is the furthest thing from Michael Jordan. In fact Jordan should punch someone in the face if they mention he and James in the same breathe again.

 

Jordan wouldn’t have mocked his opponent on camera (especially if he went 3-11 with 8 points the night before. Jordan wouldn’t have done that either.) . Jordan Wouldn’t allowed his team to lose 3 fourth quarter leads en route to defeat. Jordan wouldn’t have disappeared in the Finals in four straight games. Jordan in defeat wouldn’t have blasted the haters by saying that they will go back to their miserable lives while he maintains his status as king.

 

James did.

 

James also became a running joke for his terrible play. There have been jokes about him not having a fourth when you need change for a dollar, that the people of Dallas were let out of work 12 minutes early and they called it “King James Day.”

 

No self-respecting superstar would’ve allowed this to happen to him and downgrade his character while he sat there and smirked.

 

James did. He is no King.

 

5. In the end everything works itself out.

 

Once again he is the legend of the fall.

Miami thought that they would waltz to the crown in a haze of wine and roses. Many thought that the Bulls and Thunder’s youth and athleticism would guide them to victory, the Lakers size, or maybe the Celtics and Spurs experience.

 

However, it was the Mavericks who truly had the proper tools to win it all.

 

They didn’t have to make a trade or acquire a big name. They had the big men, the bench and the perfect mix of experience and youth. They had the best coaching and the best closer in the game in Nowitzki.

 

When people were making predictions at the beginning of the playoffs the Mavs were an afterthought. They were supposed to fall to Portland’s athleticism, they didn’t have the experience or guts of the Lakers, they couldn’t keep up with the Thunder, and the Heat were on mission.

 

Wrong to the fourth my friend.

 

The Mavs had the perfect mix and stuck it to their opponents at every turn whether it was Barea mashing on the Lakers, Kidd and Marion holding down Kevin Durant or Dirk leading the Mavs back from the depths of despair.

 

They truly were the best TEAM in the NBA this year. As the finals seconds ticked down, the championship hats were passed around and Dirk headed to the locker to shed a few tears at the end of his long and hard journey it was clear that the best team and the right team won.

 

No preseason celebrations, no “Decisions” no “Superfriends,” just a great group of guys from one to twelve.

 

Just as it has been and just as it should be.


Dirk’s Brilliance vs. LeBron’s Failure

Dirk Nowitzki played through a 102 degree fever to lead Dallas to victory last night.

You and I are the average American. We go to work, we drink, we go to hot new restaurants and buy the hottest trendiest clothes.

 

We also idolize figures that seem larger than life to us and sometimes even have a Superman complex that we wish we could have. We do this more so with athletes especially. How many times have we lauded over Brett Favre’s streak of not missing a game or Cal Ripken’s? How much do we admire hockey players who get gashes under their eyes, have their teeth knocked out and still finish the rest of their games? Hell, if most of us have a toothache we’re ready to call out of work and lay in our beds like babies.

 

The flipside to that is we hate athletes that do the things that we do when a situation gets too hot. We trash Manny Ramirez for not running out groundballs knowing we’d probably do the same thing on a routine grounder, we criticize Allen Iverson for refusing to be a bit player when his skills are gone knowing full and well if we were asked to take a step back at our jobs we would throw a fit.

 

In sports we want the extraordinary and we loath the ordinary.

 

If you don’t believe me then watch last night’s game 4 of The NBA Finals and tell me who you appreciate more, Dirk Nowitzki or LeBron James?

 

The stats tell one story; the game told a different one. Yes James led his team with 9 rebounds and 7 assists, yes Nowitzki shot 6-19 and missed 10 of 11 at one point due to the affects of a fever that crippled him throughout the game, however one was fighting through the motions, the other was going though them.

 

Nowitzki wasn’t half of himself last night as he sniffled, coughed and wheezed through every single second of the game swallowing as much water as he could to stay hydrated and routinely throwing a towel over his head to cool off. It was reminiscent of Michael Jordan’s game 5 performance against the Utah Jazz in 1997 except Jordan put up Jordanesque numbers.

 

With his shot not falling Dirk continued to take it to the rack.

Nowitizki started hot then went ice cold, even missing his first free throw of the Finals in the third quarter. Yet when the fourth quarter arrived Dirk somehow became Dirk again. Even though his jumper wasn’t falling Nowitzki still got to the free throw line and hit two layups for another stellar fourth quarter that also included him grabbing 6 rebounds and helping Tyson Chandler control the boards and keep the Heat off of the offensive glass and control their second chance points.

 

(Side note: the MVP of this game was Tyson Chandler. He provided the Mavs with some much needed toughness inside and was able to cancel Miami’s rebounding edge that they had possessed all series long. He had 9 offensive rebounds and 16 total, which led all players on the court. If he can repeat that performance and Jason Terry and Deshawn Stevenson can hit their three’s again then the Mavs can win this series even though they have looked like the inferior team.)

Nowitzki has shown all series, all playoffs how much winning a title means to him. He’s pulled Dallas from the brink time and time again and has shown the spirit that makes a champion. Last night he added another chapter to his legacy by fighting through a debilitating cold, a poor shooting night and somehow contributed a double-double and led the Mavs in the fourth quarter to a series tying victory. Those are the kind of performances that makes us fall in love with an athlete.

 

The performance of James makes us despise them.

 

8 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, no that’s not Udonis Haslem’s line, nor is it Mario Chalmers’s line, it was that of LeBron James, King James, The Chosen One or whatever you want to call him. He was none of that last night.

 

It evoked memories of last year’s game 4 meltdown versus The Boston Celtics when James was still a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. James looked lost, dazed and at times uninterested. He was as ordinary as you could get. He made one basket that wasn’t a layup or a dunk. James was poor defensively allowing Shawn Marion to continue his Finals rebirth with another stellar performance he was invisible.

 

He let Dwyane Wade carry the load, he let Chris Bosh own the first half, hell he let Mario Chalmers upstage him defensively. LeBron James shrunk in the moment, again.

 

There is no excuse for James to play like this on such a huge stage in a game where Miami could’ve put Dallas to sleep for good. Wade showed up and put together another amazing performance that featured two monster blocks that were as impressive as his 32 points. Bosh dominated the first half with 16 points and looked like a younger and more slender version of Karl Malone.

 

But the key to this loss wasn’t Wade’s inability to finish, it wasn’t Bosh’s second half struggles, it was James’s disappearance.

 

How can you be considered one of the game’s greatest players and a future hall of famer when on the stage of your sport’s biggest event you were no better than a bit player like Stevenson? Performances like this are made for the Byron Russell’s of the world. They can have minimal amounts of aggression and score in the single digits while contributing in other areas. James can’t.

 

LeBron's performance evoked memories of other poor performances.

Enough of the “Magic Johnson” James in some games and the “Michael Jordan” James in the others, it has to be one or the other for James. You’re either a dominant scorer or a facilitator for others. You can’t be one on one night and the other the next.

 

You understand Dirk poor game shooting the ball, the man had a 102 degree fever and wasn’t even 60% of himself. The difference between him and James is that he was engaged he was ready to shoot even though he couldn’t move as well as normal. He came ready to go no matter what. James talked a good game to his mates before the game then did the opposite during it.

 

James’s act resembled a performance that I would put on while trying to miss school with a little sniffle or you would do while trying to miss work with a headache.

 

Dirk went into the office with a fever that no doctor would ever allow the normal person to work under and he balled out when it mattered and carried his team to victory on his weak shoulders.

 

Who would rather idolize, the guy that’s just like you or the guy that did something you or I couldn’t do?


Wade’s World

After Game 3 there is no question as to who leads the Heat.

If you had any doubts about whose team the Miami Heat was then last night should’ve cleared all of them from your head.

 

Its Dwyane Wade’s team… always has been and always will be.

 

In the midst of their 88-86 thrilling victory over Dallas Wade took over the game in the box score and on the bench. He scored seven points in a row to keep The Mavs at bay as Dirk Nowitzki helped lead them back into contention after a sluggish third and beginning of the fourth. However, what was most compelling about D-Wade in this game was how he took control of his team.

 

He barked orders at Mario Chalmers, Chris Bosh and (ready for it) LeBron James as he tried to keep his teammates heads on straight as the Mavs were charging late. After a bad pass by Chalmers to James lead to two free throws by Nowitzki there was a camera shot of Wade giving James an earful. Who knows what it was about but eventually he grabbed James who wasn’t trying to hear him and let him know what was up.

 

After a year of wondering and speculation as to who really ran Miami, we got our answer in one moment that was captured on TV.

 

Sure we’ve talked about how great LeBron has been late in the fourth quarter of the postseason, however these finals are proof that Wade is truly the closer for this team and its best option late in the game (kind of makes you wonder why he only had 2 shots late in game 2). He has the kind of intensity and will that most players don’t have in these situations. You could tell from his demeanor, defensive presence and willingness to stick a dagger in the hearts of Dallas that he wanted it more than any other player in that arena including James.

Bosh's game-winning opportunity was made possible by Wade's decision making and leadership.

 

When double teams came his way he broke through them, when Jason Kidd sized him and got in his grill he rose to the occasion and knocked down his shot. Even on Chris Bosh’s game–winning jumper it was Wade that set the play up for him even though James got the assist.

 

Wade drew a double team from Kidd and Shawn Marion that left Dirk Nowitzki to guard Bosh and Udonis Haslem on the wing. Wade was able to get the ball to James who then found Bosh for the decisive shot in the corner. Wade’s presence and aggressiveness down the stretch set that play up enabling Bosh to be the hero.

 

After the game he eluded to the struggles at the end of game 2 saying that there were moments he should’ve touched the ball but didn’t. I think Erik Spoelstra learned that lesson don’t you.

 

But here’s the main lesson that we all should take away from this game and that late game confrontation between Wade and James. All season long we’ve been watching and wondering that maybe this really is LeBron’s team with Wade playing second fiddle. When watching game 3’s highlights and the aftermath I’ve come to the realization that all season it’s been the other way around.

 

James hasn’t been deferring to Wade; Wade has been taking over games late because that’s his job, that’s what he does. It was Wade that led a second quarter comeback that tied game 2 at 51 at the half before they were up 15. It was Wade barking at Bosh to stay aggressive and to James to limit his mistakes. It was Wade referring to the Heat as his team and the players as his teammates at the post-game press conference with James directly next to him not saying a peep. James has gotten a lot of the glory, and blame in some cases, but the guy that makes this team is Wade. Without Wade they wouldn’t be sitting in Dallas up 2-1 or in Dallas at all for that matter. He’s willing them to the cusp of another championship and isn’t taking anything lying down.

 

(Side note: here is a new conundrum for LeBron James.

 

Let’s say he wins a title this year and the next and the next, sure he’ll have three rings, which is more than any other player can say in the league not named Kobe or Duncan, but he’ll be known as D-Wade’s sidekick in doing it. Right now D-Wade is the Finals MVP without question, in key moments its James has been riding along and watching Wade go to work and playing the background. Do you think that this is going to sit well with him? Do you think he can take another news conference where in his head he feels like the best player on the floor but doesn’t have the number spot on his own team and has to sit the and listen to Wade speak? Can he really take this for 5 more years even if he wins 5 titles?

 

Wade was not letting up on his teammates, even James.

Truth be told James is in a lose-lose situation. If he wins a title it was because of Wade, if he loses then he didn’t do enough. Call me crazy but this could build into an interesting situation over the next few years or however long that they are together.

 

Also, please stop having them do conferences together it looks absolutely ridiculous.)

 

With game 4 on the horizon the Heat have to be feeling pretty good right now. They lead the series, they’re shutting down Dallas offensively and Dwyane Wade is in full attack mode and isn’t letting anyone slow him down, nor is he giving his teammates room for error.

 

He’s looking like the quintessential leader right now. He has to be; it’s his team, just like it’s always been.