“In this fall, I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.” Those were the famous words that were spoken by LeBron James during an ESPN special titled “The Decision”.
July 8, 2010 changed the game of basketball forever. This was the first time an athlete had a show, just for them to announce where they were going to sign as a free agent. After “The Decision” James was instantly looked upon as a villain. James said if he could do it all over again, he would have not made such a big deal of his free agent signing and probably wouldn’t have televised it. James left behind his hometown of Cleveland in order to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in his pursuit of his first NBA championship.
Let’s clear this up, LeBron James is the most talented athlete in if not all of basketball, then all of sports. He is 6’8 and is 240 lbs, he could play linebacker for a football team if he wanted to. When James went to the Heat, many saw this as an easy way out. By moving from Cleveland to Miami, James admitted that he could not win on his own and needed help. An athlete of his caliber should be able to win on his own, he shouldn’t need help from two all-stars in order to do so.
During the 2010-2011 NBA season LeBron put up his typical dominate LeBron like numbers. But he fell short of winning a championship, making it to game six of the finals against the Mavericks, but not reaching the ultimate goal. James is having an MVP type season once again this year, but the problem with James is that he doesn’t step up in the 4th quarter of big games. Sure he is a great regular season player, but in order to be considered an all time great you have to hit the big shot. James often passes the ball off and plays Robin to Dwayne Wade’s Batman.
All of that aside, what happens if LeBron James wins his first ring? Will he no longer be the villain or will basketball fans hate of him grow even more? If James does get his first ring, then a second and third, he needs to be considered among the all time greats. Legends are measured by how many rings they have. James has the talent of a NBA Legend and Hall of Famer, but he doesn’t have the rings yet. He has to get at least one to be in the talk among the legends.
LeBron James is going to be taking his talents to the Hall of Fame, hate him or not. He averages almost a triple double every game and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Moving from Cleveland to Miami might have hurt his reputation as a player, but not as a basketball player. He does however need to win some championships, before we claim him one of the greatest of all time.
April 28, 2012
A shortened season made basketball a lot more exciting to watch. More games on less nights is what every fan wants to see. It might not have been as fun for NBA players though. Here are my predictions.
(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (8) Philadelphia 76ers
Prediction- Bulls in 4
Analysis: I think the Bulls and 76ers play very similar styles. They are both strong on the defensive side of the ball. The difference here is talent. The 76ers have depth, but they don’t have a go to player on the offensive side of the ball. If Derrick Rose can play can shake off his injury problems and play at an elite level. This series will be a wrap. The 76ers will keep it close each game, but I just think they don’t have the offense to keep up with the Bulls.
(2) Miami Heat vs. (7) New York Knicks
Prediction- Heat in 7
Analysis: This is probably the most exciting series in the playoffs. There is so much star power on the court when these two teams go head to head. The Heat pretty much owned the Knicks in the regular season going 3-0 against them. I think the Heat are too good to overcome though. They play solid defense to go along with the big three on offense. Carmelo will need to play at an elite level in order for the Knicks in order to upset the Heat and pull off this series. The Knicks bench will need to step up and outplay the Heat’s bench in order to keep each game close. The Knicks better hope that they can hit the 3-ball from downtown and not run cold.
(3) Indiana Pacers vs. (6) Orlando Magic
Prediction- Pacers in 5
Analysis: If only the Magic had Dwight Howard. The Pacers might be the most underrated team in the playoffs. They play solid defense and have just enough offense to pull of wins. I think that they are very similar to the 76ers in terms of how they play. They just happened to get lucky with their first round match up. Danny Granger has been hot and cold all season and the Pacers need him to step up in order for the Pacers to go far in the playoffs. A Magic team without Howard, lacks a defensive and offensive presence under the hoop. If Howard was healthy and playing I would pick the Magic to win this series.
(4) Boston Celtics vs. (5) Atlanta Hawks
Prediction- Hawks in 7
Analysis: The Celtics are getting older and their time to win a championship is running out. When Allen, Pierce and Garnett retire the Celtics will be in big trouble. For now, they are a team with a lot of veteran leadership and still can score the ball. Besides Rondo, they still lack speed and athleticism on the defensive and offensive ball. The problem for them is that the Hawks are one of the most athletic teams in the league. Josh Smith is going to have a huge series. He does it all, pair him with Joe Johnson and they are a dangerous combo. The Hawks always make the playoffs, but never really make a push. I think this is the year they finally win a round and advance.
(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (5) Atlanta Hawks
Prediction- Bulls in 5
Analysis: I think this is where the Hawks will meet their match. They match up well against the Celtics, but I just think the Bulls will figure out how to shut them down. It comes down to defense and that is where the Bulls shine. They will figure out how to match up against Johnson and Smith. The Bulls have a deep bench and that is where they will out produce the Hawks when the starters are off the court. I’ll take defense over the athleticism of the Hawks.
(2) Miami Heat vs. (3) Indiana Pacers
Prediction- Heat in 5
Analysis: It comes down to talent and the Heat have way too much of that compared to the Pacers. The Pacers don’t have the offensive fire power to compete with the Heat. They will play solid defense against the Heat and limit their scoring, but it’s just too much to overcome. Lebron and company will move on here with not much trouble.
(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (2) Miami Heat
Prediction- Miami in 7
Analysis: Here it is the match up that fans have been dying to see. It will be interesting how the Heat will match up against the Bulls. It is defense vs. defense here and it is going to be a battle. I want to see who they match up on Derrick Rose because they are going to have to put LeBron or Wade on him. I think that Bosh will need to step up here. The Bulls will try to take away two of the big three and Bosh will need to step up and I think he will. Bosh played will against the Mavericks in the finals last year and he will play well against the Bulls. It’s hard to pick against the Heat and all of their talent. If the Heat can shut down Rose and Deng they can really make it hard for the Bulls to put up points. This will be an amazing series and I see the Heat moving on in a close, hard-fought match up.
(1) San Antonio Spurs vs. Utah Jazz (8)
Prediction- Spurs in 5
Analysis: Al Jefferson is going to put up points in the middle for the Jazz. He is a beast and no one can stop him. Besides from Al Jefferson I just think that the Spurs are stronger at every position. The Spurs just keep finding a way to win as they get older. I think that Tony Parker has a big series and help the Spurs move on to the next round. The Jazz just don’t have the playoff experience to put up any kind of fight against the Spurs.
(2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (7) Dallas Mavericks
Prediction- Thunder in 6
Analysis: Kevin Durant and the Thunder get a tough early round match up. That being said, the Thunder are far too talented at every aspect of the game. They have the 6th man of the year on the bench and a MVP candidate in Durant. The Mavericks will defiantly step up in the playoffs, after a not so great regular season. Dirk Nowitzki has not been has former self, but started to round into for as the season came to an end. I think the loss JJ Barea and Tyson Chandler really hurt them and they will see that as they fall short to the Thunder.
(3) L.A Lakers vs. (6) Denver Nuggets
Prediction- Lakers in 5
Analysis: The Lakers have had many negative story lines develop around them as the season went on. They ran very hot and cold this season and there had been times when the locker room has been in disarray. They lose Ron Artest for the first round of the playoffs and that will hurt them. Artest was playing some good ball before getting suspended. The Nuggets have a solid all around team. Lawson, Galo, Harrington can all score the ball. They play fast and will run the Lakers up and down the court. That being said I have four words, Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum. Well, it was five fords, but those two will dominate.
(4) Memphis Grizzlies vs. (5) L.A Clippers
Prediction- Grizzlies in 6
Analysis: I think a key player in this series will be Zach Randolph. He has been hurt all season and shows flashes of his old self. If he can play at his usual level, paired with Marc Gasol could be dangerous. Rudy Gay will provide balance on both side of the ball. He is one of the most underrated players in the NBA and this kid can ball. The Clippers lack any kind of depth on the bench and that will hurt them big time. Paul and Griffin will put up monster numbers, but I don’t think that it will be enough. I like the Grizzlies to pull off this series here, they are a balanced, deeper team than the Clippers.
(1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (4) Memphis Grizzlies
Prediction- Grizzlies in 7
Analysis: The Grizzlies are a younger version of the Spurs. They have the same kind of style that the Spurs have and I am going to take them to pull off the upset here. Mayo needs to step up off the bench and provide some scoring. He is going need to be a top scoring option, kind of like the Ginobili for the Grizzlies. Kind of put a little humor in that one right there, never mind. The Grizzlies will outlast the Spurs here and they have the younger, quicker players to keep the Spurs off balanced. I am going to take the youth over the experience here.
(2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (3) L.A Lakers
Prediction- Thunder in 7
Analysis: This is going to be a great series. Kobe vs. Durant is going to be like Magic vs. Bird. They can never be as good as that rivalry. I kind of got carried away there, but you get the point. The Thunder are going to need to stop Bynum and I think they will figure out how to. Ibaka and Perkins are good defenders and he will cause Bynum some trouble in the low post. I don’t think that the Lakers can keep up with the Thunder as they try to push the Lakers up and down the court. Derick Fisher will have a surprisingly good series here to get some revenge on the Lakers for letting him go.
(2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (4) Memphis Grizzlies
Prediction- Thunder in 6
Analysis: Here are two teams who are going to be a top the Western Conference for years to come. The Thunder and Grizzlies general managers know how draft and build teams. This will be one of many match ups between these two in the future. It is going to be youth vs. youth here and both teams are going to run and gun, maybe the Thunder more than the Grizzles. Here I am going to take the star power. The Grizzles have a lot of team players and not many stars. When you’re in the playoffs you need your stars to step up and Durant and Westbrook will. The Grizzles show that they are making strides, by making it this far in the playoffs, but can’t over come the odds here.
2012 NBA FINALS
(2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (2) Miami Heat
Prediction- Oklahoma City Thunder in 6
Analysis: Here are my 2012 NBA Finals! Will the Heat finally win their first title or will Durant and Westbrook take home the gold? It is going to be a great series, but I am going to take the Thunder. I see LeBron playing well, but falling short of his expectations like always. The key player in this series is going to be James Harden off the bench. The Heat are going to be outmatched when he is out there against their back ups. Westbrook needs to play smart ball, not throw up unnecessary shots and watch his turnovers. I think the Thunder will be too much to handle for the Heat. Westbrook is very hard to guard and he will cause trouble for Miami’s defense. After this series, the Heat will be hoping for Steve Nash to take his talents to South Beach. The Oklahoma City Thunder win it all!
Update! My predictions were before the Derrick Rose injury! Rose is out for the playoffs with an ACL injury. Now Iman Shumpert is out for the Knicks as well. Add Amare Stoudemire to the list. The injuries are piling up!
April 8, 2012
Two men with the same dream.
Hollywood could not have written a better script for the rivalry between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. It really was a scene straight out of an action movie, when Bird and Magic step on the court at the same time. Not only was it entertainment for the fans, but at the same time it really put the NBA back on the map. In a time where the NBA was at its low point in its history, this rivalry between Bird and Magic changed the NBA forever.
The rivalry started back in college, before they even had a chance to verse each other in the NBA. Both Bird and Magic were huge prospects coming out of college. They finally got to go head to get for the National Championship in college. Magic and Michigan State got the best of Bird and Indiana in that game. Ever since that lose, Bird had a desire to get back at Magic and get revenge.
What makes this rivalry what it is has to be the two contrasting personalities between Bird and Magic. Bird was the country kid from Indiana; Magic was the Hollywood star. He took on the Hollywood star persona right when he was drafted by the Lakers. When Bird played he did it by the books, he was your traditional do it by the rules while staying professional on and off the court. When Magic played he was flashy, sure he wanted to win like everyone else, but he was an entertainer and wanted to put on a show for the fans.
The rivalry reached a pinnacle when the Lakers and the Celtics faced off for the first time in the 1984 championship. The Celtics and Bird finally beat Magic and the Lakers. That was only the beginning. The Lakers beat the Celtics the following year and again in 1987 giving the Magic a 3-1 edge in their head to head match ups.
The funny thing about this rivalry between Bird and Magic on the court is that they were good friends off the court. Magic thought that they could remain friends on the court, but Bird saw Magic as a rival just like every other player that he had versed. Bird and Magic would shoot commercials together and even had a shoe and apparel line. Each shoe had different colors and fans would buy the colors for the player that they supported. It really took the NBA and put it in the mainstream, dividing fans and people making them chose a side of either Magic or bird.
All of a sudden things changed though, out of nowhere Magic was diagnosed with HIV and doctors told him that he wasn’t allowed to play basketball anymore. That really hit Magic hard; he realized for the first time in his life how much basketball really meant to him. Bird was also affected by this as well; he took this news really hard. It was the first time, both of them realized how lucky they really are to be playing basketball because life can hit you hard and you’re not grateful for something you have until it’s gone.
Bird vs. Magic revolutionized not only the NBA, but all of sports. It showed two men with a rivalry on the court, but a strong friendship and respect off the court.
When it comes to the list of the greatest rivalries in sports, it’s hard not to put Bird and Magic at the top.