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Tag:Miami Heat
Posted on: August 6, 2010 11:37 am
Edited on: August 6, 2010 11:46 am
 

Of leadership, LeBron, and KG

Posted by Matt Moore

Kevin Garnett is one of the most respected players in the NBA, with good reason. No one has shown  more focus at both ends of the floor over the past decade than Kevin Garnett. Much of his trademarked intensity is show; the screaming, spitting, growling is revealed as little more than theatrics when you employ them as often as he has. But that doesn't change how he's constantly barking out defensive assignments, dressing down teammates, and blocking the ever-loving crap out of anyone that dares to challenge his authority (or dying trying). He's a 13-time All-Star, and has an MVP trophy, a Defensive Player of the Year trophy, and an NBA champion.

And with all that respect that he has earned comes a level of expectation, often unfair, mostly ridiculous, that he live up to what we believe is the model of a true NBA legend. Or at least, that's been the pattern for everyone except KG. And if you want proof of that, compare KG and LeBron James.

In 2010, LeBron James abandoned his team, the Cavaliers, and did it in a publicly humiliating and disgracefully opulent way on national television. Maybe you heard about it, here and there. Before we continue, let's be very clear on this point:

The primary reason for the backlash against James is the way in which he announced his decision ("The Decision"), the way he seemingly laughed and skipped out of town while the dreams he had given Cleveland fans burned to the ground. There is simply no way to defend or even deflect that criticism. You're not going to find anyone outside of South Beach who thinks this was in any way acceptable. KG has never behaved in such a way, nor did he embarrass Minnesota on the way out of town. The way the two left is simply not comparable. See, I put it in bold, just so we're all clear on this.

However, the secondary argument against James is that he has in some way compromised his legacy, lessened his greatness, by not being the sole elite player on his team. He is no longer considered able to reach the sport's summit because he has joined Dwyane Wade's team instead of building championship gold from the rubble he was drafted into. That by joining other elite players, he can no longer be considered elite.

Let's head on back to 2007.

Kevin Garnett has failed to reach the summit with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team that drafted him. Though there were a handful of very good teams, none of them even approached what you would call a "great" team. The Sam Cassell-Latrell Sprewell team rose and fell apart as fast as it came together, and Garnett has been losing consistently. It becomes known that he wants out, wants to be traded to a contender, does not want to waste his career any longer. He doesn't outright say he wants to be traded, after all, you're fined for such activity. But it's made pretty clear that his time with Minnesota is over. It's done. He winds up heading to Boston, joining Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, the captain, to form the first modern Big 3 and first relative superteam since the Lakers' 2004 crime against nature.

(It should be noted that the Spurs' combination of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili definitely constituted enough talent as to be considered a superteam, but more perhaps more impressively, they did it organically. They came to have three superstars by developing the talent they drafted. Not by acquiring the gold when the market was high on it.)

But KG was and is the leader, right? Well, I don't know. Paul Pierce is the captain, right? And the guy taking the game winning shots, most often? The face of the team? It's heart and soul? Isn't Pierce the one most often relied upon to rally the team? While Garnett is undeniably a leader on the Celtics, is he really considered the leader?

Oddly, what led me down this line of thought was a quote from, of all people, Rasho Nesterovic.

In an interview with rtvslo.com , and translated and brought forth by Project Spurs , Nesterovic talks about the difference between Garnett and Duncan. He discusses how Duncan won with the team that drafted him, and how Garnett made the smart move, but it was one to turn to the Celtics, who already had a leader in Pierce. This all leads to Nesterovic saying Duncan was the greater power forward of his time.

Huh.

Now, this is Rasho Nesterovic. We're not talking Bill Russell here. But the idea is one that deserves consideration. Did KG join the Celtics as a leader, or did he simply do the exact same thing that LeBron James did, only under better PR cover? The argument can certainly be made that James joined in free agency (which is apparently worse than bailing on your team while under contract with them), while Garnett was traded, so it wasn't really his decision. But if Garnett had told Minnesota management, "I don't want to be traded. I either win here, or I don't win at all," do you really think the Wolves would have said "No, no, Mr. Hall-of-Fame-Most-Beloved-Player-In
-Franchise-History, we want no part of you here"? Is that what you think would have occurred? Because I'm pretty sure Kevin McHale would have just gone back to figuring out ways to build the Wolves around KG (and failing miserably).

The argument could also be made that KG was on a "loser" while James was on a contending team. But there are two responses to that. 1. While this Cavs team was certainly better than any KG had, James has also been superior in terms of production (and playoff success if we're being honest) than anything KG had been. I'm simply pointing out that if you're going to say the Cavs were better, you also have to point out that James was better, and was a reason for the Cavs being better. And 2, is there really a difference between contender-but-not-champion and loser in our society? I don't subscribe to this. I think there are tons of brilliant players that simply were never fortunate enough to run into the blessed set of circumstances you need to win a championship (or play for LA). But if you're a results oriented person, KG and James had accomplished the same thing, and so to say that one needed to do what he needed in order to win a ring and the other needed to continue to struggle is a bit ridiculous.

We come to the crux of this, which is actually not that KG deserves more criticism or scorn for leaving Minnesota to fall into the void. Far from it. Garnett recognized that he needed to win a ring before his time was up, that it wasn't going to happen in Minny, and that Boston represented the best chance for him. He took it. He doesn't deserve to be slagged for that. Garnett has told other players not to let what happened to him in Minnesota happen to them. Now, that particular action is a little less likable. After all, there have been players that stayed "home" and eventually reached the promised land, and those championships are much more special to their small markets than the umpteenth championship for a storied franchise. This is nothing to do with the quality of the fans and just the simple fact that a lone championship means more than one of many.

But Garnett is simply passionate about being the best he can be. And for him, that meant joining a team with an established star, a veteran leader, along with another veteran leader, and winning a championship. That was his path. And it is not all that dissimilar from LeBron James' path (in terms of the end result; remember, the bold clause! The bold clause!). So if we're going to criticize James for not being "the man," we need to similarly disparage Garnett, Pau Gasol, and other players that did what they needed to in order to win a ring.

Garnett is no villain. He loved Minnesota. But in the end, he felt his best chance for achieving that ring was in Boston, alongside other stars. Those facts coincide with LeBron James' actions of the past three months. Even if you feel that Garnett was able to be a leader alongside Paul Pierce (the most rational and likely conclusion), you should at least recognize the same dynamic's likelihood in Miami. You don't have to like how James pulled off this career correction. No one does. But to question his legacy opens up a Pandora's Box that is linked throughout some of the greatest players in the history of the league.

Don't throw stones. The halls of NBA greatness are built of glass.

Posted on: August 3, 2010 8:11 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2010 10:10 pm
 

NBA on Christmas: 'Tis the season for good games

Posted by Royce Young

The big, highlight games have been announced . And other than the playoffs, the NBA's brighest stage is probably the Christmas Day games. So who gets the spotlight on the best holiday of all? And exactly how good are those matchups? Let's look (all times Eastern):

Game 1: Bulls at Knicks, 12:00, ESPN
A classic for Christmas Day. Of course the Knicks had to be included and matching them against the young, exciting Bulls is solid. Putting the game in Madison Square Garden is an obvious must and maybe, just maybe, the Knicks will be in the discussion in the East. Maybe.

Derrick Rose is a must-watch player and with Amar'e Stoudemire back with Mike D'Antoni, the Knicks will be a fun team to watch. Plus, I might be the only one that cares about such things, but I think both sets of uniforms look really good together on the court.

Score 3.5 out of 5 Santa Clauses

Game 2: Celtics at Magic, 2:30, ABC
A rematch of last season's Eastern Conference Finals and a rematch of last year's Christmas game that was played in Boston. No doubt we'll get a grinder as both squads are quality defensive teams, so this might be a decent game to have on as you take a light nap on the sofa following some Christmas ham.

There could be some added intrigue as well if Shaq finishes off signing with the Celtics. Any time Shaq and Dwight Howard square off, it's good stuff.

Score: 4 out of 5 Santa Clauses

Game 3: Heat at Lakers, 5:00, ABC
You knew the Heat would be involved for Christmas. And you knew the Lakers would be too. But having them play each other ? Brilliant.

The storylines will be plentiful in the lead-up to this game. Kobe versus the Miami trio. A potential Finals preview. LeBron versus Kobe. Bosh versus Gasol. Pat Riley's team back in Los Angeles. Christmas in LA. It goes on and on. Other than LeBron's return to Cleveland, this will probably be the most hyped game of the season and for really good reason.

Score: 5 out 5 Santa Clauses

Game 4: Nuggets at Thunder, 8:00, ESPN
Kevin Durant is now garnering the national attention he deserves, so the young star gets primetime on Christmas Day. The OKC crowd will be fired up for ESPN's cameras and the game will be a good one. It features two Western Conference contenders and Northwest Division rivals. It's Carmelo versus KD and Westbrook versus Chauncey. The Thunder and Nuggets almost always provide some drama and the potential for a late-game showdown between KD and 'Melo would be quite a late gift on Christmas.

Score: 4.5 out of 5 Santa Clauses

Game 5: Trail Blazers at Warriors, 10:30, ESPN
The is the second straight year the Warriors have been featured in this slot, with both games being played at Oracle. It's slighty weird that the Warriors get this game, but the team is always exciting and the home crowd in Golden State is always excellent. The Warriors will run and the Blazers will slow everything down and play at a ridiculous low pace. Contrasting styles, an amped crowd and Steph Curry are good reasons to stay up late and take this one in.

Score: 3 out of 5 Santa Clauses
Posted on: August 3, 2010 8:10 pm
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Posted on: August 3, 2010 4:21 pm
 

Lakers-Heat have a Christmas date

Posted by Matt Moore

As part of our continuing coverage of "the NBA can't keep a secret in any way, shape, or form..."
The NBA likes to save its most hyped games for Christmas. It's the first real holiday that it lays claims to each year. The last few years it has been Lakers-Celtics in the yuletide rumble. This year, the hype created by the LeBron James-Chris Bosh-Dwyane Wade trifecta has created a new mega-match. The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers will host the Heat on December 25th, according to Ira Winderman of the Miami Sun-Sentinel .

There's no "proving it" to NBA television marketing executives like there is among other players in the league. Those people know that people want to see the Heat, even with as sick of the Heat's PR trainwreck as they are. One mistake though is that Winderman's article mentions that the Heat won't play on MLK day.

The league has been pushing MLK day as an NBA holiday the last few years, and it's one of the few times when they have a number of people off work with no competing sports or family interests. The work they've done in highlighting that day with sextuple headers has worked well for showcasing the league. Omitting the Heat that day seems to take the holiday down a notch. But maybe that will give them the rare opportunity to show off the smaller markets that are likely to be even more overlooked than usual this year with all the superteams forming.

But for Christmas, you can expect a healthy feast of hype when Kobe-Pau-Odom-Artest-Bynum meets Bosh-Wade-James-Chalmers . And really, what says Christmas like hype?
Posted on: August 3, 2010 1:50 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2010 1:51 pm
 

Wade: "Opposing teams can thank us now"

Posted by Royce Young

At one point, I really liked Dwyane Wade. It was when he was one of the hardest playing, hardest working players in the league. He always brought it every night, was incredibly talented and carried sub-par teams to higher levels.

Well, I guess nothing has changed with him in that regard. I guess the reason I don't really care for him now is because he won't stop opening his mouth.

To the Miami Herald, he said: "I understand people are going to say stuff. And we accept it with open arms,'' Wade said. "And even on the road, because every place is going to sell out when we come to town. So [opposing teams] can thank us now .''

Oh puh-lease. Give me a break. Look, everyone knows the Heat are the talk of the league. Heck, they're the talk of sports. While Wade's statement isn't untrue in the slightest, the arrogance is becoming so thick you'd need a lightsaber to slice through it.

It's one thing to be good. It's another thing to be good and tell everyone about it. The Heat are going to be quite a draw. They're going to win games. They're going to be talked about constantly. But let other people do the talking, Dwyane. The whoie world already doesn't like your team and unless that's the angle you're going for, these type of comments sure aren't helping things.
Category: NBA
Posted on: August 3, 2010 10:13 am
 

LeBron's Cleveland snub is bad business

Posted by Matt Moore

What logic does this make? What possible sense could this be built from? What line of thought would take him down this road?

LeBron James bought ad space in the Akron Journal to thank fans there and send a message that his heart is still there. It was a decent gesture that should have been made weeks ago. The day after "The Decision," actually. But what was missing from the letter is what was most relevant.

The word "Cleveland."

Andrew Sharp of SBNation.com weighs in on why this shouldn't be a big deal. And he's right. It shouldn't be a big deal. It shouldn't be a deal at all. It could have been a non-story, something marginal that takes even a half-pinch of sting off the mountain of anger and resentment from Cleveland towards a player attempting to become the most popular brand in NBA history (and failing miserably, but that's another issue). But it wasn't. And that's the question that needs to be asked.

What possible reason did LeBron James' camp have for not including the Cavs or Cleveland in this letter?

Sharp points out the myriad of reasons for James to slight Cleveland like this. Jerseys burned. Angry letters in Comic Sans. General hatred upon his departure after years of trying to make Cleveland into a winner. And those are all great reasons for someone to spite the city like that.

If that person is fourteen years old.

This is a business. That was the reason behind James' defection to Miami, behind "The Decision," behind all of this. This whole ordeal was meant to be the extension of James as a business entity in the world. And the business move here? The plain-clothed mention of gratitude to the state of Ohio, Cleveland, the Cavs, something that includes those people. Sharp's also right that it wouldn't have made anyone in Cleveland feel any better. But the point is that slighting them makes them feel worse. It makes James seem petty and small. It's not professional. Taking the high road isn't a noble cause, it's a protecting your Q Rating and shoring up your PR image. You don't do it to try and win back friends and make people love you. You win championships to win friends and make people love you. You take the high road to protect your interests and not make another blunder. And that's what James has done.

Maybe he's got a letter for the Plain Dealer and is just waiting to release it. But now if he does, it looks like a reaction to the scorn he's getting for ignoring Cleveland. This is not complex stuff. And it's yet another indication in a long stream of tiki torches that blaze a path to the same conclusion: LeBron James' management team, LRMR, is desperately out of its league and playing at a level it cannot compete at.

It's not that James was wrong for snubbing Cleveland. It's that it was just another bad business decision.


Posted on: August 3, 2010 8:27 am
Edited on: August 5, 2010 8:49 am
 

Boston versus Miami leads opening night

Posted by Matt Moore

The new NBA superpower in Miami will definitely have its hands full to start the season as the New Big 3 takes on the Old Big 3. Welcome to being the hunted, ring or no ring. The Boston Globe reports that the NBA season will kick off October 26th with the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics hosting the Miami Heat. If this report and the Orlando Sentinel report regarding the game against Orlando on the 28th are correct, it means two things.

One, Miami will immediately be under fire to produce wins. Starting the season off 0-2 would mean almost nothing in terms of their capacity as a team, but would result in a cataclysmic fire of negative press that would follow them until the notched several significant wins. Knocking off the Pacers on a Tuesday will not help things if they start off winless against the two best teams in the East outside of Miami, both of which have been to the Finals the past two seasons.

Two, the Heat will not open their own arena until at least Friday or Saturday, meaning it doesn't look like the NBA trusts the Miami market to create a particularly rowdy atmosphere, compared to what greets the Big 3 on opening night. Two road games against the two other top East teams? Baptism by fire, super-friends. Baptism by fire.

Meanwhile, the revelation that the season kicks off with Miami and Boston leads us to wonder what team the defending champion Lakers will face. Rampant speculation has suggested Oklahoma City, which would certainly bring the most high profile game for the Western second game of the expected doubleheader. Other possible options include the Suns, Nuggets, Spurs, and Mavericks.

We'll have more on the opening night matchups when the NBA officially releases its opening night, Christmas Day, and MLK day schedule tonight on NBATV.

Posted on: August 2, 2010 12:29 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2010 12:45 pm
 

Report: Magic to open new arena against Heat

Posted by Royce Young

When the Miami Heat formed a superteam, most around the league started to get excited about a potential mega-matchup in the state of Florida. The Magic are already a giant in the East and now their neighbor will be its arch nemesis.

And it appears the NBA is attempting to drive that idea home.

The league is set to announce a few marquee games tomorrow night during a television special, but leaks are bound to happen. One has, and it features the Heat and Magic, in a new arena. Oooh, ahhh.

Sports Business Journal is reporting the Magic will open the new Amway Arena in a game against the Heat on Thursday, Oct. 28 in a nationally televised game on TNT.

That should be... fun. Opening a new buulding is always a good time, but against an in-state rival that also happens to be the new super-villain in all of sports? I would assume we'll get one or two (or 500) good soundbites from outspoken Stan Van Gundy in the weeks leading up to the game.

The new Amway Center cost $480 million and holds 18,500 for basketball games. It also will host the All-Star Game in 2012, but I'm not sure that will even be the same level event opening night against Wade, LeBron and Bosh will be.
 
 
 
 
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