Tag:LeBron James
Posted on: March 11, 2009 5:48 pm
 

Geez, Berger: Hating on my MVP pick

We're going to try something new here in the 'Sphere. Your comments in the blog and at the end of my columns are pretty self explanatory. Not always printable, but self explanatory. Those of you who take the time to send an email deserve a quick response. So I'm going to be responding more frequently to my, um, "fan mail," and I use that term loosely. So here's the latest batch of emails beamed from the mother ship in Fort Lauderdale. Geez, tell me what you really think ...

Bubbs writes of my take on the Celtics: "That's somewhat true of Rondo. But the Celtics only will go as far as Paul takes them, just as I said last year. He plays up to the level as a great player, we can't be beat. If he plays soft, laid back, just trying to fit in, we can't win against the great teams."

Hey, Bubbs. Congratulations. When did you sign with the Celtics? And here I thought Marbury was their only big acquisition. Seriously, you make a great point about Pierce. Despite his heroics in the playoffs and Finals last year, somehow he isn't regarded nationally as being on the same level as the top stars. But the more I watch him, the more it becomes apparent that I can count the players I'd rather give the ball to on the last possession of a tight game on four fingers: Kobe, LeBron, Wade, and Dirk. When he's on and it's crunch time, very few are better.

Jim M. writes of my take on the MIT stats conference: "Very interesting article. Could you give me more info about this? For example, what statistical criteria do they use and why?"

Thanks, Jim. There's no short answer to your question except to say that the sophisticated teams are analyzing positively everything. Their goal is to attempt to quantify things that, on the surface, don't seem quantifiable. The best example is defining clutch play. Some of the smart people I spoke with at MIT seemed OK with the clutch-play rankings at 82games.com, which define clutch time as the last five minutes of regulation or overtime with neither team ahead by more than five points. They key thing to remember is that there are multiple factors that determine the outcome of games, possessions, and the multiple chances to score that occur within possessions. For example, going back to the notion of whether or not shooters have hot streaks: The numbers show that when a player made his last jump shot, he's more likely to 1) shoot his team's next shot, 2) shoot it sooner in the possession, and 3) shoot a more difficult shot. To get the purest interpretation of these results, you have to consider that there may be more than one reason why the ensuing shot is more difficult. On one hand, the player (let's say Kobe) might be inclined to take a more difficult shot because he thinks he's feeling it. But the defender may be forcing him to take a more difficult shot because he's aware that the last one went in. The variables are almost endless, but the teams that utilize all the tools and data at their disposal, in my opinion, have a higher probability of having success. Unless they're the Clippers.

John W. takes issue with my take on the Celtics: "Oh by the way ... it was a good 1-1 weekend for the Cavs, also. Don't be so biased. You sound like a Republican in the presidential race. Try to be a little more, uh, talented."

You betchya, John! I'll try! And if somebody thinks I have a pro-Celtics bias, then I must be doing my job.

Bebeto disagrees with my assertion that the Magic won't beat the Cavs or Celtics in the playoffs: "Voila, Ken: That is why you are a non-quality writer."

According to Wikipedia, Jose Roberto Gama de Oliveira -- a.k.a. "Bebeto," is a former Brazilian soccer (a.k.a. "football") player who led Brazil to the 1994 World Cup. Spelled differently, it also means "little baby" in Spanish. 

Bryan says LeBron should still be MVP, not D-Wade: "Ken, seriously. I just had this debate on a CBS message board. LeBron didn't win last year even though his stats were better than Kobe's, because Kobe was on a better team and LeBron didn't win 50 games. This year, LeBron's stats have been almost as good, if not better, and his team is much better. I love D-Wade too, but he is this year's LeBron James from last year ... and LeBron is this year's Kobe. His team is much better; D-Wade won't win 50 games, and you even said it yourself ... the numbers are very comparable. If you didn't vote for him last year, LBJ has to get it this year based on those same criteria. You can't take it from him both years."

Thanks, Bryan. Sound reasoning and a perfect example of why this year's MVP vote will be even more difficult than last year's.

Chris Fanguy says don't forget about CP3: "Leaving Chris Paul out of the league MVP talk is a crime. He is the whole New Orleans team and is having a BETTER year this year than his 2nd-place MVP year last year. He is the best overall player in the game and is a class act off the court. Everybody needs to learn to stop jumping on the bandwagon and really dig into some stats. Paul could be the FIRST PERSON ever to lead the league in steals and assists in consecutive years."

Good call, Fanguy. This analysis from HoopsAddict is from last season, but it highlights how quietly dominant CP3 really is. I have no problem with him getting all the consideration he deserves. But think about how long it took Kobe to win his first MVP. Paul is going to have to wait his turn, and LeBron, Wade, and Kobe are playing at too high a level for him to topple those giants this season. Someday, though, it'll happen.

Lucas offers a vote for Wade: "Wade is the most deserving of the MVP. Too bad all the writers already gave it to Squire James last November.

Hey Lucas, as my article proves, I haven't made up my mind.

Eric N. says I need to go West: "Your bias towards the Eastern players and teams is disappointing. How come no mention of Kobe? P.S. Have you ever played?"

It goes without saying that Kobe, the defending MVP, is in the running. But how many points would LeBron and Wade be averaging if they played with Pau Gasol? Anyway, it is well documented that I was a key reserve -- and I use that term loosely -- for the West Islip High School varsity boys' basketball team on Long Island in the late 1980s. But I should've played lacrosse.

Kevin K. says welcome to the D-Wade fan club: "I'm glad you came out with the D-Wade argument. I always liked him better than LeBron and Kobe. Maybe it is his swag, but I hopped on the Miami Heat bandwagon as soon as he joined the squad. D-Wade is my favorite player and I just hate the fact that LeBron and Kobe get all the exposure. What I really admire about my dude D-Wade is his humble attitude. That is what makes him an even better player ... I'm out.

You're out? Do we have one of Rome's clones stepping up in the BergerSphere? Nice! So here's a response: "Humble is as humble does. Sincerely, Kobe Bryant."

 

 

 

Posted on: February 27, 2009 9:31 am
 

Rockets make LeBron human

The Rockets' Ron Artest and Shane Battier held LeBron James to a mortal 21 points on 7-for-21 shooting, one lousy rebound, and no assists -- the first assist-less game of LBJ's career -- in Houston's 93-74 victory Thursday night.

Here is a ridiculously detailed and fantastic analysis of how they did it from Kevin Arnovitz at TrueHoop. (I continue to be amazed on a daily basis by the quality of work being produced in the basketball blogosphere. It's a great place to work.)

Amid all the great detail of the Rockets' defensive strategy, which was fascinating in its own right, here's what stood out to me: Rockets GM Daryl Morey stating emphatically that, yes, LeBron is the best player in the NBA "by a wide margin." Morey knows what he is talking about, so you Kobe fans can take that to the bank.

These days, just be careful which bank.

 

 

 

Posted on: February 14, 2009 11:11 pm
 

KryptoNate beats Superman; what about the King?

PHOENIX -- So KryptoNate beats Superman. But what about the King?

Nate Robinson and Dwight Howard resurrected an otherwise snoozer of a dunk contest Saturday night with a thrilling dunk-off that featured Nate soaring over the 6-11 Howard for the winning dunk. Next year, he'll have the the King to contend with: LeBron James.

LBJ said during a courtside interview on TNT that he plans to participate in the dunk contest for the first time in his career next year at All-Star weekend in Dallas. That was the news of the night, bigger than Nate's second slam dunk title.

Robinson, who switched to a kryptonite-colored green uniform and shoes for the final round, said he'll come back for a shot at his third title next year, too. But LeBron -- assuming he was serious -- will be the headliner.

It's been a long time since the biggest star in the game has been in the dunk contest. Booking my flight to Dallas tomorrow.

 

 

Posted on: February 11, 2009 12:05 pm
 

Mike Brown listened to me

I like Mike Brown. Contrary to what some of you may think, I like the Cavs. If the Lakers are No. 1 when you're handicapping title contenders, Cleveland is 1(a) and Boston is 1(b). Even if they don't make a trade by next Thursday, the Cavs have an excellent chance of winning Cleveland's first major pro sports championship since the Browns in 1964.

Some of you took it the wrong way when I criticized the Cavs -- and their owner, Dan Gilbert -- for constantly whining about officiating and the fact that Mo Williams was passed over twice for an All-Star spot. Politicking is one of the jobs of a coach. After the Lakers ended Cleveland's 23-game home winning streak Sunday, I wrote that LeBron and Gilbert should zip it when it comes to these topics and let their coach do the dirty work for them.

So I am pleased that Brown took my advice. After LeBron was called for a questionable foul on the Pacers' Danny Granger with two-tenths of a second left Tuesday night, Brown took direct aim at the official in question, Joey Crawford. Replays showed LeBron got his hand on the ball, but fouled Granger with his body. Granger made 1 of 2 from the foul line to seal a 96-95 victory, the Cavs' second straight loss. A foul you'd normally see called that late in the game, against one of the league's premier superstars? Nope. Which is why Brown did his job, ripped Crawford (though not by name), and decided to take one for the team (and his superstar) in the form of what undoubtedly will be a hefty fine.

"That last call on LeBron was the worst call I've ever been a part of," Brown said after the game. "I cannot imagine another worse call than that by that official. It was an awful call and for him to take away a basketball game from a team with (.2) seconds on the clock is irresponsible. That is an irresponsible call."

We can debate whether it was a foul or not, or whether Crawrford should've blown the whistle. But clearly, the most significant thing that comes out of this is that Brown and his superiors -- Gilbert and G.M. Danny Ferry -- have decided that the gloves are off when it comes to how LeBron is officiated. This is a good thing, because it's the coach's job to crtiticize the officials and the league, not the players' job or the owner's job. (Dan, there can only be one Mark Cuban.)

After the Lakers beat the Cavs Sunday, I asked Lamar Odom how much of an edge coach Phil Jackson gives L.A. by going to bat for his players and incessantly working the officials.

"It makes us want to work harder for him," Odom said. "When a coach has your back, you’ll always have his."

Some of you Cavs fans out there disagreed with what I wrote and ripped me six ways till All-Star Sunday about it. So if the Cavs rally around Brown's bolder approach to criticizing the officials, and if the Cavs get more calls against the Lakers than they otherwise would have, I don't expect any thank you notes. I'm good. But I'll be back to say, "You're welcome."

 

Posted on: February 6, 2009 4:03 pm
 

LeBron's triple-double overturned

This is what happens when you go to the videotape. The facts get in the way of a good story.

We told you about some video evidence that LeBron James' ninth rebound Wedensday night against the Knicks actually should've been credited to Ben Wallace. This would've meant that LeBron's 52-point triple-double wasn't really a triple-double.

Well, moments ago, the NBA released a statement that after reviewing the tape, the rebound has been officially credited to Big Ben.

That means Kareem Abdul-Jabbar can rest easy. His 50-point triple-double in 1975 remains the most recent in NBA history.

Sigh.

It was still amazing to watch LeBron soar desperately through the air to track down what he thought was his 10th rebound as time expired in the Cavs' 107-102 victory. But alas -- and to its credit -- the NBA corrected the record. LeBron's official stat line from that game: 52 points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds.

Here's the NBA statement on the statistical change:

NEW YORK, Feb. 6, 2009 – The NBA announced today that a statistical error was made during the Cleveland Cavaliers-New York Knicks game on Feb. 4 at Madison Square Garden. Cavaliers forward LeBron James was incorrectly credited with a rebound with 39.3 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter that should have been awarded to Cleveland forward Ben Wallace.

Due to the correction, James finished Wednesday’s game with nine rebounds – one rebound short of a triple-double – while Wallace ended with two rebounds. All NBA games are reviewed to ensure the accuracy of the game statistics.

Question: Does this mean that Kobe Bryant's 61-point performance Monday night at MSG was better than LeBron's because LeBron didn't have a triple-double?

Posted on: February 5, 2009 6:39 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2009 8:22 pm
 

LeBron not going to like this Ray Allen pick

Commissioner David Stern has selected Ray Allen to replace Jameer Nelson in the All-Star Game. That gives the Celtics three All-Stars, and keeps the Cavaliers with one.

LeBron James is not going to like this.

If you read this, you know where LeBron stands on this topic. Having one All-Star when the other elite teams have at least two each is a "smack in the face," he said.

Allen is very deserving. It's his ninth All-Star selection, and he's averaging 18.1 points, 2.8 assists, and is shooting 50 percent from the field and 41 percent from three. Mo Williams is averaging 17.1 points, 4.2 assists, and is shooting 46 percent from the field and 39 percent from three.

Mo has been a huge part of what's made the Cavs dominant this season. But I'm sorry, LeBron. This was the right choice. Regardless of how many All-Stars or perceived All-Stars are on each team, Allen deserves to be on.

I had Allen and Nelson on my All-Star reserves -- Nelson at guard and Allen at the wild-card spot with Devin Harris. So with Nelson hurt, I would've had a spot for Williams. If the coaches had voted like me and I were the commissioner, the choice would've been between Williams and David Lee. In that case, I probably would've chosen Williams.

Under the circumstances, Allen is the right choice. If LeBron wanted to play with a lot of All-Stars, he should've asked Leon Rose to get him traded to the Celtics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on: February 5, 2009 10:14 am
 

LeBron didn't really have a triple double

LeBron James probably wouldn't have risked life and limb diving for his 10th rebound Wednesday night -- the rebound that completed the first 50-point triple double since Kareem in 1975 -- if he'd known that it really was his ninth rebound.

Check out the proof here: Despite the official scorer giving this rebound to LeBron, it actually should've been credited to Ben Wallace.

I'm checking to see if the league office can and will review such statistical shenanigans. If so, Kareem's milestone is safe.

Sorry to let the facts get in the way of a good story.

 

Posted on: February 4, 2009 7:42 pm
 

LeBron: One All-Star is 'smack in the face'

NEW YORK -- An hour before taking the floor where Kobe Bryant scored an arena-record 61 points two nights ago, LeBron James had a lot on his mind. One topic about which he did not mince words: The Cavs getting slighted with only one All-Star in voting by fans and coaches.

"That’s totally disrespectful to give us one All Star," James said in the Madison Square Garden interview room before Cleveland played the Knicks Wednesday night. "... You look at all the teams with some of the best records in this league. You look at the Lakers, they have two All Stars. Orlando, two All Stars. Boston, two All Stars. San Antonio, two All Stars. These are all the good teams in the league that have really good records. And then you look at us -- one All Star. So it’s a total smack in the face."

The Cav who was snubbed, Mo Williams, probably will be selected by commissioner David Stern to replace injured guard Jameer Nelson of Orlando. If Stern wasn't leaning toward selecting Williams over Boston's Ray Allen for Nelson's spot, he probably is now. LeBron knows what newspapers (and websites) the commissioner reads.

Cavs coach Mike Brown said he wouldn't ask his fellow coaches whether they voted for Williams; they wouldn't tell him the truth, anyway.

"Guys are gonna say, 'Yeah, I voted for your guy,' but you really don’t know," Brown said. "I'll never find out. I just know that our team should have been more represented, in my opinion. And that’s not to say this person should have been off and that person should have been off. We should have had at least another guy on that team from the beginning."

 
 
 
 
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