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Posts Tagged ‘LeBron James’

2013 NBA Slam Dunk Contest – An Epic Failure by the NBA and TNT

In Sports on February 17, 2013 at 11:11 am

Terrence Ross Slam Dunk

Remember the days when the NBA Slam Dunk Contest featured the stars of the game?  Those days are seemingly over, but if the NBA wants to make the contest relevant again, they better do something to get actual stars to compete in the All-Star Weekend competition that people look forward to the most.  After the competition was over, Kenny Smith talked about how the contestants were great dunkers, but that they were nervous.  To which Charles Barkley replied…“The reason those guys were nervous…they actually got in the game.” 

Get the hint NBA?  No one wants to watch relative unknowns dunking, no matter how good they might be.

Of course, if you live on the East Coast, you may not have heard the post-game analysis because it ended at a ridiculously late hour thanks to TNT’s attempt at prime time scheduling.  Anyone who planned on watching the competition on their DVR better have recorded “Sir Charles at 50” because that is where the final dunks and the announcement of the winner took place.

TNT may do a great job of covering the NBA during the regular season, and even the playoffs, but their coverage of the Slam Dunk Contest was abysmal.  It started much too late on the East Coast and there was a lot of unnecessary filler.  Aside from the friends and family of Fall Out Boy, does TNT really believe that any basketball fan tuned in to see their awful musical performance?  Was it really necessary to delay the Slam Dunk Contest further to squeeze that in?

Nick Cannon may have some talent, but his innocuous questions in the middle of the competition did nothing to add to the coverage. In fact, it made it worse.  If he had asked a meaningful question, the audience at home wouldn’t have heard the response because the audio quality was terrible, and Cannon’s microphone work was shoddy at best anyway.

With LeBron James, Blake Griffin, Kobe Bryant and the like watching in street clothes, NBA fans were treated to Eric Bledsoe, Kenneth Faried, Jeremy Evans, Gerald Green, James White and the winner of the competition, Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors. Of the six contestants, only Faried is an NBA starter.  In retrospect, perhaps TNT scheduled the event so late in the evening so that they had scapegoat for poor ratings.

There were some impressive dunks in the competition, but nothing that will ever be remembered years from now, or even talked about by basketball fans by the time that they return to work this week, especially those who have off for President’s Day.  At one point in the competition, Shaquille O’Neal jokingly called Ross “what’s his name” to get under Barkley’s skin because the “round mound of rebound” was clearly disgusted with the lack of star power in this year’s NBA Slam Dunk Contest.

The lack of star power was not the only problem with the Slam Dunk Contest.  The format is absolutely absurd.  It’s doubtful that there is a single NBA fan that cared about the East vs. West competition.  The NBA got lucky that two of the better dunkers were on opposite teams, but if there had been two dominant players on one side, it would have been a travesty to have only one of them advance to the finals because of some arbitrary, dumb format.

If the NBA and TNT cannot figure out a way to get the stars into the competition, they might as well cancel it, especially if they are going to show it so late in the evening.  The competition – which was once the highlight of NBA All-Star Weekend – is quickly becoming as relevant as the NFL Pro Bowl.  If the true NBA stars care about this competition, they need to step up and participate, and put the back-ups back on the bench where they belong.

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Will the Cavaliers Ever Retire LeBron’s Number?

In Sports on March 30, 2011 at 2:57 pm

When LeBron James was interviewed before returning to Cleveland to play against his hometown team for the second time since his departure, he was asked about eventually having his number retired by the Cavs.  “That’s something I don’t know and something I can’t control,” James said. “Anytime you get a jersey retired anywhere it is a tribute. I had my jersey in my high school retired and when that happened it was unbelievable. If that happens here, I’ll be grateful.”

Gratitude has not been LeBron’s strong suit when it comes to his former team, or for the people of Cleveland for that matter.  Had he remained in Cleveland, he would have had his number retired and most likely would have had statues erected in his honor.  Had he left Cleveland with a modicum of grace instead of publicly humiliating his former team, he may have been able to mend fences down the road and be honored as the best basketball player to ever wear a Cavs uniform.

Based on his performance on the court, LeBron absolutely deserves to have his number retired by the Cavs one day.  But since you can’t honor the player without honoring the man, LeBron should resign himself to the fact that the only way that his number will ever be retired in the NBA is if the Miami Heat choose to do so when his playing days are over.

Time heals all wounds, but people don’t often forget being disrespected.  When LeBron made “The Decision” to leave Cleveland, he burned a bridge that will never be rebuilt.  He instantly transitioned from the greatest sports hero that the city has ever known to the prodigal son who was no longer welcome in his hometown.

If the people of Cleveland were somehow able to forgive LeBron at some point, there would never be enough of a public outcry to have his number retired, and it wouldn’t matter anyway because Cavs owner, Dan Gilbert, has nothing but contempt for the former king of Cleveland.

After the Cavs defeated the Heat last night in Cleveland, Gilbert tweeted “Not in our garage!!” (a reference to LeBron and his entourage being stopped when trying to enter the garage underneath the Quicken Loans Arena before the game).

Long before his Twitter message taunting LeBron after the Cavs exacted their revenge by upsetting the Heat last night, Gilbert issued an open letter to Cleveland fans, which illustrates the depth of the betrayal that he felt after “The Decision.”

{Click here to read the letter}

Perhaps LeBron regrets how he left Cleveland.  Perhaps he has hopes of being welcomed back to his hometown someday.  But the reality is that his betrayal will linger for many years to come, and it would come as a total shock to see him honored in any way, much less something as monumental as having his number retired.

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Post Game Tears? Looks Like Miami Can’t Take the “Heat” of the National Spotlight

In Sports on March 8, 2011 at 4:53 am

When LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh decided to join forces to become the NBA’s supposed version of a super power, they thrust themselves into the national spotlight as a team to either be loved or hated.  Not much room for middle ground.

Aside from the New York Yankees, who are hated by non-Yankee fans because of their continuous success and ability to outspend the rest of Major League Baseball, there is no other professional sports team that is as hated as the Miami Heat.

LeBron started off the disdain for the Heat with his ill-advised “reality” special, simply referred to as “The Decision.”  Before people even had the chance to accept what the Heat had become, they added fuel to the fire by referring to themselves as “The Heatles.”

“If you’re gonna talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk.”

Although the Heat have the sixth best record in the NBA, they are currently on a four-game losing streak, much to the delight of even the most casual basketball fan.  Their record against the five teams above them in the NBA is an embarrassing 1-10.

The team that some predicted to win 70 games this year, still has not found a way to compete with the other top teams in the league, despite having played 63 games together.

After last night’s one-point loss to the Chicago Bulls, head coach Eric Spoelstra said that there were tears of frustration by some of the players in the locker room.

If Spoelstra revealed the fact that some of his guys were crying after the game to endear the hated Heat to the masses, it failed miserably.  The Heat got no sympathy from the media or basketball fans. Instead, what they received was a healthy dose of deserved mockery.

Is a four-game losing streak in the midst of an 82-game season worth crying about?  If not for the brash predictions and self-indulgent titles, would anyone even care that any team has lost four games in a row in the NBA?  Has the sports world ever celebrated regular season losses in any sport with such glee?

The Heat (once again) have adopted an “us against the world” mentality, which is comical because they are the ones who created this atmosphere in the first place.

“I do chuckle a little bit when they complain about the scrutiny they get,” said Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. “My suggestion would be if you don’t want the scrutiny, you don’t hold a championship celebration before you’ve even practiced together. It’s hard to go out yourself and invite that kind of crowd and celebration and attention, and then when things aren’t going well, sort of bemoan the fact that you’re getting that attention.”

Van Gundy’s Orlando Magic basically overhauled their entire team in December in order to compete with the top teams in the Eastern Conference, and yet they are a mere three games behind the Heat in the standings.

The Heat would be wise to stop worrying about what basketball fans and the media think of them, and start worrying about what they are going to do to right the ship and live up to the lofty predictions that they made before ever playing a single game together.

Any attempt to garner sympathy from the masses is an exercise in futility.

“The Heatles” have been “talking the talk” since they joined forces in the summer of 2010.  If they want the mockery to stop, they’ll need to “walk the walk” under the heat of the national spotlight.

 

NBA Slam Dunk “Contest”: Blake Griffin’s Win Very Harlem Globetrotter-esque

In Sports on February 22, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Blake Griffin is a great dunker.  There is no arguing that.  In the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, Griffin had two memorable dunks, but only one of them was great, and it was NOT the one with the car and the choir.  That dunk only served to prove that the NBA planned on Griffin being in the finals and winning it all along.

Not since Curly Neal, Meadowlark Lemon and the rest of the Harlem Globetrotters toured with the Washington Generals, has the outcome of a basketball “contest” been so anti-climactic.

Griffin was the Harlem Globetrotters to Javale McGee, DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka’s Washington Generals.  McGee, DeRozan and Ibaka never had a chance, which is a shame, since they all were impressive in their own right.

When Griffin’s very ordinary second dunk in the first round scored a 46, even the most casual fan had to suspect that the fix was in.  That dunk followed Ibaka’s creative and impressive dunk which only scored a 45.

Once Griffin was in the finals, with the fans deciding the winner, there was no way that anyone else was going to win unless Griffin totally missed his dunks.  The whole contest ended up being a mockery.

Griffin’s coach, Kenny Smith, served no purpose on the court other than to ramble on endlessly.  During the early round, his puffery about Griffin not needing props like the others ended up looking downright stupid when Griffin rolled a car onto the court for his final dunk.  The car was bad enough, but the choir that came onto the court as Griffin’s supporting cast turned a supposed sporting event into a joke.

Even the camera crew didn’t seem to know what to do with the choir, as they missed Griffin’s running start while showing a choir singer on camera.

While Smith was somehow able to orchestrate a pre-dunk standing ovation for Griffin which surprisingly included the judges, it doesn’t seem like everyone bought into the hype.  Charles Barkley openly mocked what was going on, serving as the voice of many fans watching on TV.

It came as no shock to anyone when Griffin was announced as the winner of the contest.  The obvious favoritism that was shown towards Griffin has turned this competition into an exhibition going forward.

LeBron James has resisted showcasing his skills in the dunk contest, but if he ever changes his mind and participates, they should just present the trophy to him before he or his competitors attempt their first dunk, since the presentation is nothing more than a formality anyway.

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The Decision

In Family, Life Lessons on July 9, 2010 at 8:04 pm

By now, even the most casual sports fan has heard about LeBron James leaving his hometown Cavaliers to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, forming a power trio that most never thought possible.  As a sports fan, I have been following “the decision” more because of the enormity of the story than any actual interest in where LeBron James plays basketball.  Quite frankly, there are many more important things going on in my life.  But, like the O.J. Simpson car chase, I found myself compelled to follow this developing story.  This time I wasn’t alone though.  My 8-year old son was following along with me.

As the ESPN coverage started, my son and I sat together in anticipation of “the decision,” even though the rumors all day long said that LeBron James was going to Miami.  Truth be told, we just wanted to hear where he was going.  Neither of us cared too much for the unnecessary drama of it all.  After watching the show, I think that it was a colossal mistake on LeBron James’ part to announce his decision in the reality television format that has become all too prevalent in today’s times.   It’s too bad that the satisfaction of being referred to as the biggest free agent in sports history wasn’t enough for him, because his hour-long show tarnished his image to many people living outside of Miami.

Obviously, Cleveland fans were going to be outraged seeing their hometown hero abandoning them for seemingly greener pastures, but they are not alone.  Fans of the other teams that were in the running to sign LeBron James are also feeling jilted today, virtually guaranteeing that LeBron will be booed in at least five cities next season.  However, the greatest fallout from the self-absorbed announcement will likely mean that the most popular player since Michael Jordan will now be looked at as a villain by many.  He may end up winning multiple championships with his new team, but his chance to be “like Mike” is likely gone forever, and he has only himself to blame.

Professional athletes don’t live by the same rules as the “working stiffs” who essentially pay their salaries.  While their playing years are relatively short, the dollars that they earn are more than most people could earn in several lifetimes.  Their money is guaranteed (for the most part) regardless of whether they continue to perform up to the standards that earned them the contract in the first place.  And though they aren’t required to give their former employer notice before leaving for another job (new team), common decency should still apply.

If LeBron James truly was appreciative of his years in Cleveland, he shouldn’t have disrespected management by making them find out about his departure on national television with the rest of the country.  But that’s not even the worst part.  What he did to the fans of Cleveland was disgraceful.  I have no problem with an athlete playing wherever they want to when they become free agents.  It’s a part of the business that we (as fans) must accept.  However, the train wreck that was “the decision” was a slap in the face to all of the people of Cleveland who supported and idolized him.

Cleveland fans finding out that their hometown hero was leaving the team for another team was bad.    Finding out that his reason for leaving was because he didn’t feel like he could win a championship with the team that has been one of the best in the league in recent years is even worse.  Having to hear the news on a nationally televised broadcast was unnecessary, and quite frankly, in extremely poor taste.  It was tantamount to a couple standing at the altar getting ready to marry, and one person calling off the wedding, leaving the other person humiliated in front of their friends and family.

Bloated contracts, lucrative endorsement deals, 24-hour news networks, an abundance of websites and social networks (like Twitter) virtually guarantee that professional athletes will continue to find new ways to feed their bottomless egos.  Gone forever are the days when kids could unconditionally look up to professional athletes as heroes.  Sooner or later, many end up do something illegal, immoral or simply distasteful.  Maybe it has always been this way and we just didn’t know about it because information wasn’t so readily available.  Or maybe, the money has gotten so out of control that professional athletes can no longer connect with the real world in a meaningful way.

When my son and I started watching “the decision,” he was ready to become a fan of the Miami Heat if LeBron James chose to join the team.  By the time the interview was over, my 8-year old said to me…“you know, Dad, LeBron James is kind of full of himself, and he’s a liar.  I don’t believe that he woke up every day thinking that he was going to play for a different team.” Needless to say, he no longer is considering becoming a Heat fan.  It makes me proud that he was able to see through all of the hype on his own.

We all make decisions every day.  Some are big decisions.  Some are small and insignificant.  Some are good decisions.  Others are so bad that we end up regretting them, wishing that we could turn back time and get a “do-over.” I suspect that LeBron James will one day look back on his decision and wish that he would have done things differently when he chose to leave his high school sweetheart (Cleveland) standing at the altar because he ended up falling in love with the prom queen (Miami).

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