Tag:Dwyane Wade
Posted on: September 6, 2011 11:18 am
Edited on: September 6, 2011 11:22 am
 

Video: Melo, Wade, CP3 'dance-off' badly

By Matt Moore

NBA players are making as many stops in China each summer as they can. It's a still-untapped market for sponsorships, branding, business opportunities, and Nike has pumped a world of money into the country. So you see a lot of weird things, like pandas and the like. You also see a lot of silly things, like this "dance-off" with Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony against a group of kids in Beiijing. 

 

Not much of a dance-off, right? At least Chris Paul got on the floor at the end there. But turning your backs on the dudes? That's just cold. I mean, not "forcing a trade from the franchise who drafted you and built their dreams around you" cold, but pretty chilly.

(HT: NESN
Posted on: September 3, 2011 7:00 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 7:12 pm
 

Chris Bosh: Heat plan to work out together soon

Posted by Ben Golliver

miami-heat-big-3

Don't you ever change, Chris Bosh.

The third wheel in the Miami Heat Big 3 is up to his usual zany antics this weekend, competing in a video game tournament and giving quotes that sound a little bit more lonely than they were meant to be. 

On Saturday, Bosh told the Associated Press that the Heat plan to get together soon for preseason workouts, although he didn't have many specifics to provide.
Bosh said Saturday that he expects the Miami Heat to reconvene sometime soon, even though the NBA lockout has entered its third month with no apparent ending in sight. This would ordinarily be the time of year where most players start ramping up workouts anyway, and Bosh said he will be ready whether training camps begin on time or not.

"We're going to make some plans. We're going to plan to do something," Bosh said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. "I think just getting around each other, I think it's important as far as team-building is concerned and just getting something going. We're pretty much still in the process of doing that."
I don't know about you, but to me that reads like he is begging LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to pick up their phones and clue him in on where they are working out. "Hey, guys, my wedding and honeymoon are finally over and I totally have time to get together now!"

That suspicion only heightens when the topic turns to an upcoming Dallas Cowboys football game.
[Bosh] is scheduled to appear on an episode of "Law and Order" later this month, and in the coming days he'll be in New York for some Fashion Week events, U.S. Open tennis and possibly the Dallas Cowboys' season-opener on Sept. 11 against the Jets.

Much like teammate LeBron James, Bosh -- a Dallas native -- is a huge Cowboys fan. 

"I'm sure he'll be there, too," Bosh said.
Translation: "I hope LeBron says hi to me! He probably won't say hi to me."

What's important to remember about the concept of a Heat team workout is that Miami has so few players under contract for next season. Aside from the Big 3, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony, Eddie House and Zydrunas Ilgauskas are the only players with fully guaranteed contracts for next season. In other words, the workouts couldn't even include 5-on-5 play, unless you want to throw last year's rookie center Dexter Pittman and the team's 2011 draft pick Norris Cole into the mix.

Of course, any workout is better than no workout during the lockout and the Heat would be a truly terrifying proposition for the rest of the league if James, Wade and Bosh decided to get serious and lock themselves in a gym together until they perfect the chemistry that was only hit-or-miss during last season. But, the AP notes, Bosh has some important things to do over the next few weeks -- like guest starring on a network TV crime drama and hitting the runway -- so don't bother cowering in fear just yet.
Posted on: August 29, 2011 12:44 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 12:50 pm
 

Players advised to keep money trouble talk down

Posted by Royce Young



With a vital meeting taking place soon between the owners and players, the NBA's labor situation is about to get tense. Not just tense in terms of actual negotiating. It's already there and has been there for months.

But in terms of public relations, that battle's just about to get started. Nobody looks good in a lockout to fans, media and casual onlookers. It's billonaires and millionaires arguing over who gets what. We don't care. We just want the game to be played. But keeping the public on your side is pretty critical because if you have them, it puts a lot more pressure on the other side. A valuable negotiating tool.
And the players union is looking to stay on top of this. Kind of remarkable really that nothing has come out to make the players look all that bad, especially when you consider all the Twitter accounts littered throughout the league. At least one slip-up surely will happen, right?

“It was a huge emphasis,” Derek Fisher told the New York Times. “The reality is, we’re in a great position, where guys have worked to put themselves in this place where they can potentially earn millions of dollars.”

One thing the players' union has done, via the New York Times, is distribute a handy lockout handbook. Included in that: Don't go around telling people how poor you are now.
At Fisher’s direction, the union last fall distributed a 56-page lockout handbook to its 400-plus players. Tucked between tabs on “budgeting” and “player services” is a section devoted to “media,” with talking points on everything from the N.B.A.’s financial losses (“vastly overstated”) to franchise values (“Warriors just sold for $450M”).

But the key point, perhaps, is this simple reminder: “Please be sensitive about interviews or other media displays of a luxurious lifestyle.”

As the Times' story mentions, back during the 1998 lockout, this was kind of an issue.
On the first day of that lockout, the union president Patrick Ewing declared that players were “fighting for our rights” — a modest overstatement that invited ridicule and presaged the public-relations nightmare to come.

In October, Kenny Anderson, a star guard with a $49 million contract, laid out his finances for The New York Times. Among his expenses: $75,000 for insurance and maintenance on his eight cars. Anderson joked that he might have to sell one.

“You know, just get rid of the Mercedes,” he said.

The low point for players came two months later, when agents organized a charity game, with some of the proceeds earmarked for out-of-work players. As Ewing explained then, professional athletes “make a lot of money, but they also spend a lot of money.”

Whatever sympathy the players might have enjoyed surely vanished with those 13 words. The statement stands among the biggest gaffes in sports labor history.

We all know how much players make. It's right there on the Internet in about 20 different places if you want to see how much Samuel Dalembert made last year. And even players on the low end -- guys with the veteran minimum -- still probably make a lot more money than you and I. It's a fortunate life and because of it, can afford to spend a lot of it on cars, houses, boats, parties and whatever else.

But Fisher and the union and taking a smart step because they know that we don't care. We don't care if a player had to get a 2011 Maybach instead of a 2012. We don't care if he had to buy a cheaper bottle of champagne at dinner. We don't care if instead of vacationing in Rome, he had to go to Mexico. When real people are out of real jobs trying to feed families, it's kind of hard to have any sympathy for a millionaire that's trying to "rough" it right now.

Not to say some players have already went into that territory. Dwyane Wade joked on Twitter "Any1 hiring" the day after the lockout started. George Hill pondered if he could file for unemployment. As the Times mentions, Landry Fields joked about going "dutch" with his date during dinner and Anthony Tolliver tweeted about shopping wisely at the mall. Delonte West on the other hand, appears to actually be applying for jobs.

And it's no secret why players are signing up to play overseas: money. They want to maintain that bank account. That's how the owners are trying to hurt them by altering their otherwise lavish lifestyles.

Joking on Twitter about being unemployed is almost crossing a boundary. Hill's tweet about filing for unemployment definitely irked some people. But it's not quite the issue the players had in 1998. Just think if there was Twitter then. Would've taken a whole lot more than a handbook.

Here's a pro tip though: You want to win this PR battle? Come to an agreement and play ball. We'll definitely be on your side then.

Posted on: August 26, 2011 3:25 pm
 

Artest and Wade to join Dancing with the Stars?

Posted by Royce Young

About a month ago, word came out that Ron Artest was in talks to join next season's cast of "Dancing with the Stars." It was mostly rumor and with his pending deal to go to England for soap opera and/or basketball work, it seemed a bit unlikely.

But DWTS insider Hines Ward says he's hearing Artest is a prime candidate. Along with another NBA star: Dwyane Wade. Via Sports Radio Interviews, Ward was asked if he could verify that Wade would be on the show. He said:I don’t know, but I did hear rumors and his name did come up. I also heard Ron Artest too.”

So, yeah, that's pretty huge news there. Something to definitely keep an eye on.

And if Wade joined the show, you can be sure no one in the NBA or media would give him a hard time about it. Nope, no way. I'm sure everyone would just totally ignore him wearing super tight pants as he salsas around a dance floor.

But you know who would be awesome on the show? Dirk. With his footwork and awkward style of moving, he'd totally kill it. And because it's Dirk, nobody would probably say a thing about it.
Posted on: August 26, 2011 2:28 pm
 

Wade says the Heat figured it out; have they?

Posted by Royce Young



Chemistry is overrated. Or it's underrated. A lot of people have a lot of different opinions on it. But it's hard to ignore that good chemistry means something on the basketball court.

I don't think anyone would deny that at times, the Miami Heat's chemistry last season was pretty rough. And we should've all seen it coming. At the beginning of the season when any of the three stars were asked who would get the ball in late game situations, they'd said, "Whoever's hottest." Which is most definitely the incorrect answer.

But it was Season 1 of a five season TV show in Miami. Those 82 games were the first 82 those three had really played together. And chemistry doesn't happen overnight. It's not like dating. Learning to play five-as-one on the court takes some time. The more reps you get, the better feel for each other there is.

Which is probably why Dwyane Wade feels like the team has figured it all out. He told ESPN Radio, via the Sun Sentinel:

"We figured it out. I think we did a very good job," Wade said during an appearance on ESPN Radio, as he promoted his charity event this weekend in his native Chicago. "It didn't hurt. LeBron was still third in the league in scoring. I was still like fifth in the league in scoring."

[…]

"It really didn't change much of our ability once we got comfortable," Wade said. "Me and him are very good friends. We're two guys who want to make it work, who wanted to make it work for our teammates to be successful, so we did."

Figured it out, he says. And I can see why he'd think that. Both he and LeBron finished in the top five in scoring (Wade was actually fourth), the team won a bunch of regular season games and lost in six games in the NBA Finals. By all appearances, there's reason to feel like they had started to get a feel for each other.

But that's missing the point. Because I don't know even know what Wade means when he says they "figured it out." Yeah they won a bunch of games and almost a championship, but I'm not entirely sure a lot changed from when they were just swapping turns late in games and coming up short in tight contests. All that changed really in the postseason was that a lot of those shots went in. I mean, LeBron shot close to 50 percent from three before The Finals.

The Heat mostly won last season because they could overwhelm teams with their talent. Against lesser foes, they dominated. But against premium opponents, there was a reason they struggled. Because that chemistry, that understanding of how to play together, wasn't really there. They faked us out in the Eastern playoffs because they were making shots. Nothing had really changed though.

This isn't to say they can't or won't actually get there. But for Wade to just say they have seems very premature. It's not about taking turns or going with the supposed hot hand. It's about playing quality team basketball. It's about involving Chris Bosh in every set. It's about utilizing Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem is late-game sets other than just kicking out to them while the shot clock runs down. That's figuring it out. That's the kind of chemistry that Walter White would approve of.

We know LeBron and Wade are all-world players and scorers. And that's the reason I know that Wade's wrong. If they truly have figured it out, then it's all over. You can't beat a team with that much talent if they actually get it.
Posted on: August 24, 2011 2:17 pm
 

Wade: Less hate for the Heat next season

Posted by Royce Young

Fresh off saying the hate and scrutiny the Heat were under last season was "unfair," Dwyane Wade is ready to make another statement regarding the public view of his team. This time around, he told USA Today he thinks some of that hate is going to cool off this year.

“It’s always going to be criticism. There’s always going to be hatred. … It’s like the first time LeBron went to Cleveland, it was this crazed thing,” Wade says. “Then we went back again, and it wasn’t the same.

“No matter what people say about the Miami Heat, it will not be the same as it was last year. There’s still going to be stuff out there, but not like the first time.”

He's probably right. The first year everything was fresh in everyone's minds. The Decision, the welcome party, the dancing, proclamations and everything else. Over time, things tend to chill. Don't get me wrong, people are still going to really dislike the Heat, but all the attention is going to dip at least a little. It has to.

Now one thing that will certainly bring it down a bit is if they get it together and win. Their first season was largely a success, really. A solid regular season that led to them storming through the East en route to the NBA Finals. The Mavericks ended what otherwise would've been exactly what the Heat said they were going to do. And if they'd have done it, everyone would've had to drink a tall glass of shutup.

But they didn't, so this time around, most of that stuff will be back. Especially with Wade saying things like he said the other day. People don't buy into the "woe is me" stuff with the Heat. You said you're ready for it, you said you're going to win -- now do it. That's what people are looking for.

I suppose there's another way for the hate to chill as well. If the lockout rips up the season, people might just be indifferent to them because it's been so long. Which is reason No. 4,893 why this lockout is stupid: Lose games and you lose out on people hating the Heat. Which in all honesty, is a large portion of the incredible interest that follows the team. Wade and LeBron might appreciate it, but the new TV contract and everything else, won't.

Via PBT
Category: NBA
Posted on: August 23, 2011 2:34 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2011 5:11 pm
 

Video: LeBron's afraid to jump off a diving board

Posted by Royce Young



LeBron's already got a bit of a reputation for freezing in big moments. For locking up and not being able to function well enough to complete the task. So his performance at a Spain pool as he stood on a high dive terrified of jumping shouldn't exactly shock you.

The crowd is begging him -- "jump! jump! jump!" they chant -- and the announcer is egging him on. "Come on LeBron! Jump!" And yet LeBron stands there awkwardly peering over the board at the pool below as if there are circling sharks in it.

I don't blame LeBron though because you know what was going through LeBron's mind as he was balking there. "How much did I make last year? And how much will I lose if I pull a Greg Louganis here? Yeah, I don't think so you guys."

Finally, after someone steps up and shows him how it's done (his diving equivalent of Dwyane Wade, maybe?), LeBron steps up and executes a perfect... well, fall. What a moment.

Yep, this is the lockout.

Via TBJ
Posted on: August 23, 2011 8:44 am
Edited on: August 23, 2011 12:50 pm
 

The EOB Elite 100, 1-5: Best of the best



By Matt Moore


This is the final segment of the CBSSports.com Eye on Basketball Elite 100, counting down the top-100 players in the NBA. The goal was to create the best ranking of players based on total value, which comprises everything from respect and status to upside to statistical production and intangibles. All three of our NBA bloggers ranked every player, then we took the average to determine our ranking.

Check out the earlier installments: 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-6

We've come to the end, my friends. 

What we discovered while making this list is that the NBA has such remarkable athletes, that the gap between one to the next is quite small. There are no clear dividing lines. You make the best estimation off of overall value, take the aggregate, and may the basketball gods have mercy on your soul. You look at every player near the top and say, "that's got to be too low," until you look at the players above him. Then you begrudgingly move on to those players who you feel much the same about. We're blessed with incredible players in this league, versatile and extremely talented. Our attempt in ranking them wasn't perfect, and the best aspect is finding out your thoughts.

No one's going to agree on these lists completely. For every item you find accurate, there will be 10 you disagree with. And we're betting our top spot will neither surprise you nor please you. But, after watching these players night in and night out, this is the top of the chart in comparison to all others. It's been fun figuring out who goes where, even if it kept us up nights. And we promise we'll keep watching and working to figure it out every night to come. 

You know, once we have a season again.

Here now are the top five players in the NBA in overall value according to the EOB Elite 100.

5. Derrick Rose, PG, age 22, Chicago Bulls
2011 stats: 25.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 7.7 apg, 1.0 spg, .6 bpg, 44.5 FG percentage, 23.5 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 5, 5, 4

What I love about Rose ending up here is that he's simultaneously too low and too high and both arguments are valid. He's the reigning MVP. His team secured the top spot in the playoffs overall and won the most regular-season games. He led the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals. Rose is young, brilliant, explosive, and seems to improve with every game. He's also inefficient at times, both in shooting percentage and turnovers. He's got great assist numbers and yet never blows you away with his passing game. He has elite speed and tremendous finishing ability, but his mid-range jumper is a work in progress and his 3-point shot, which improved considerably in 2010-11, is wildly inconsistent. He'll shoot 70 percent from the arc one game and go 1 of 5 the next. The end result is a career-best percentage that could go way up if he manages to stabilize it. 

Rose is an elite player in this league, but ... 1: We haven't seen MVP-level play from him beyond this season, and those above him have been at it for years; 2: His postseason struggles, particularly against the Heat stick with us. The problems did go beyond the Heat series, however. Rose had a 35.2 usage rate in the playoffs, which is astronomical (and he had to; have you seen Carlos Boozer?) yet only had a 43 effective field goal percentage. The way the Heat were able to adjust to solve him lingers, despite a stellar 2011 campaign. 

What Rose did stands out. I described Chris Paul as the best pure point guard in the league earlier, and I still believe him to be the best point guard. But that's because Rose isn't a point guard by any traditional sense. He's not even really a point guard by any advanced metric. This isn't to say he can't do what point guards do. He does, and quite well. It's that Rose is so prolific in his game, that he extends beyond the traditional position evaluations. I'm fond of saying, "Rose isn't a point guard, he's not a shooting guard, he's not even really a guard. He's Derrick Rose." His versatility and explosiveness are so unmatched, his specific style and approach so unique, he extends beyond the traditional models and establishes himself as his own entity. Even if that entity sometimes shows hiccups we saw in the ECF. 

Don't get too upset, Bulls fans. This ranking definitely hides the fact that our committee definitely believes that this will be the last time Rose is this low, and that his shot at the top spot next year is as strong as anyone's. And yet any drop-off from his tremendous season would be a huge letdown. This is the top of the NBA, where Rose belongs, and all of these factors make up the reasons why at No. 5. He's at once too low and too high for anyone and everyone. Say hello to Derrick Rose, the NBA's newest most-polarizing player. -- MM

4. Dwyane Wade, SG, 29, Miami Heat
2011 stats: 25.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 4.6 apg, 50 FG percentage, 30.6 3-point percentage, 25.65 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 4, 5, 4

Most of the talk about the Miami Heat has centered around LeBron James. He's the lightning rod, the controversial figure, the talking point. But here's what should tell you that Dwyane Wade still is entirely legit: The Heat are still his team. LeBron may generate most of the chatter, but the Heat just feel like Wade's team.

Wade sometimes is forgotten as a superstar for reasons I don't exactly know, but he's a champion, a Finals MVP, an elite defender and a top-tier scorer. His production may have dipped a bit because he's sharing duties with LeBron and Chris Bosh, but don't forget he averaged 30.2 points a game on nearly 50 percent shooting in 2008-09. Don't forget that he's averaging 6.3 assists a game for his career with two seasons of 7.5 a game. In fact, don't forget that for his career, he goes 25-6-5.

Wade is 29 though, and he's had a few major injuries and surgeries so he might start trending down in the next few seasons. He's the type of player that plays so hard he's borderline reckless. Eventually the wear and tear is going to slow him down. But he's still elite because he's a complete player. You may think of LeBron first when someone brings up the Heat but it's Wade's team and that's not changing. -- RY

3. Dirk Nowitzki, F, 33, Dallas Mavericks
2011 Stats: 23.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 51.7 FG percentage 23.52 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 5, 2, 3

We’ve arrived at the pinnacle of Nowitzki’s NBA career, a summit from which the German forward triumphantly holds up the Larry O’Brien and his NBA Finals MVP trophies and looks down upon all the critics who said he was too “soft” and not wired to be a No. 1 option on a title-winning team. The Mavericks were somewhat improbable champions and nobody benefited from their victory more -- at least from a perception standpoint -- than Nowitzki, whose unbelievable scoring efficiency and unmatched ability to hit off-balance shots stole the show during the 2011 playoffs.

Bracketed by Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler, it didn’t much matter that Nowitzki still isn't an All-NBA defender and never will be. He performed capably in man-to-man or zone looks, but his overall offensive game was his ace in the hole; nobody could stop him when he needed to get a bucket in the postseason. Nowitzki wasn't only a weapon when he's leaning back and falling away, uncorking a jumper at an impossible angle. He’s agile enough, even at his size, to take most NBA bigs off the dribble and he can finish around the rim in a variety of creative ways, usually more smooth rather than emphatic. He commands constant attention and is a surgeon when it comes to picking apart weak, early or late help defense, equally adept at threading the needle to cutters or throwing on-the-money skip passes. He can shoot with range, from a stop or on the move; he can set picks and find his spots. Despite the spotlight, he’s still an underrated rebounder. And, please, don’t leave out his ability to pump fake to draw fouls and to convert his free throws at a ridiculous 89.2 percent.

Put simply, Nowitzki is so good on offense that he we’ve ranked him ahead of all but the very best two-way players in the league. Not too shabby for a soft, choking European who is afraid to play down low. -- BG

2. Dwight Howard, C, 25, Orlando Magic 2011 stats: 22.9 ppg, 14.1 rpg, 2.4 bpg, 59.3 FG percentage 26.13 PER Composite rankings (random order): 2, 2, 3

There's one question to ask yourself when decided where you want to place Dwight Howard: How much do you value defense? Do you see it as the downtime in between offensive possessions (aka the Don Nelson philosophy) or do you see it as an equally important part to the game as offense, and in some cases more important?

The way you lean there tells you what to do with Howard, because he's the league's best defensive player and it's not especially close. He's won three straight Defensive Player of the Year awards and it's not only because he blocks shots and grabs a lot of rebounds. It's really about the shots he doesn't block. Officials stats don't keep track of altered shots or probably better, non-attempted shots that might've been taken had Howard not been looming in the lane. But I can guarantee you Howard leads the league in both those categories and it's not close. He changes every game, and does it just by being on the floor.

That makes it sound like he's one dimensional, which isn't accurate. He's not a dynamic offensive player. He scores in brutish ways -- alley-oops, put-backs, easy baskets. He gets it done with little finesse and without a go-to shot. But however it happens, he still averaged 22.9 points a game last year and shot an outstanding 59 percent from the field. He's getting better offensively and at only 25, he still has some space to grow.

If Howard's offense ever catches up to his defense, he'd make a realistic push at the top spot on this list. In terms of how much a game is impacted per night, Howard is king. His win shares are ridiculous (14.4) and his PER is outstanding (26.13). Pretty much any way you want to measure Howard, he lives up. And that's without being as good as he really could be on one end.  Now that's scary. 

1. LeBron James, SF, 26, Miami Heat
2011 stats: 26.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 7.0 apg, 1.6 spg, .6 bpg, 51.0 FG percentage, 27.3 PER
Composite rankings (unanimous): 1, 1, 1

Thoughts from all three of our panel members on the top player in the NBA.

Matt Moore: You probably don't like this. That's OK. We don't like it much, either. LeBron James has showed an arrogance in the past year since The Decision that is so excessive the only way to defend it is to claim that all athletes are arrogant. Even then, it's the matter of degree that gets James in trouble. James never seems to say the right thing, never seems to take the right approach, never seems to put himself in the best light. This is a stunning change from four years ago when he was basically a shadow on the wall that sold shoes. It's a year after The Decision and we saw the best and worst of James. He continued to show the versatility that in large part puts him in this spot. His team made the Finals, and was two games away from a title, as they should have been with all that talent. And yet we saw James "shrink" or "choke" or whatever hyper-dramatic interpretation you prefer. There's no getting around the idea of whether you believe in "clutch" or not, James was not there when his team needed him most. That's pretty damning stuff. 

So how did he not only wind up as the top player, but the unanimous one?

Because he's better. Kobe Bryant's age is starting to affect him along with numerous injuries that have slowed him. Dirk Nowitzki is getting older and doesn't have the defensive impact James does (James remains an underrated individual and help defender, which is saying something considering how lauded he rightfully is for it). Rose is still learning to be efficient from everywhere on the floor and to be a better defender. Howard's still growing into his complete offensive game. For James, nothing he does is beyond reason anymore. A 40-point triple-double is conceivable from him (though not on this Heat team barring injuries because of usage). He can make the chase-down block at one end, lob a perfect outlet pass, then recover and jam home an alley-oop after leaving from mid-wing. He can pull-up and nail the mid-range jumper, even as that part of his game is at both still developing and something he turns to far too often. He can hit from the perimeter (ask the Celtics if you don't believe me) and bulldoze his way to the rim to draw the foul (ask the Bulls if you don't believe me). He's a one-man tour de force, able to cover the entire floor, able to play at any position, able to do more than any other player in the league. 

That's why he's No.1. Like it or not.

Royce Young: It's kind of a relief that we don't have to have the debate anymore. No longer is it "Kobe or LeBron?" No longer is it a question as to who the league's best player is. We all know. It's LeBron, whether you like it or not. 

You can try and talk yourself into someone else. You can try and single out LeBron's failures, his faults and his issues. You can try and point out his curious choke job in The Finals. You can try and devalue him simply because you don't like him. That's all fine. But you can't deny that he's the best player in basketball. He just is.  Even trying to fit in alongside two other All-Stars in Miami LeBron put out an incredible season. He still led the league in PER (again), still went for 26-7-7 and still was the single most dangerous player on the floor every night. And before you say, "Oh yeah, well people prove things in the playoffs and LeBron failed!" That's true, but only to a degree. Remember how he handcuffed Derrick Rose for the last two games of the Eastern Finals? Remember how he destroyed the Bulls in leading an incredible Game 5 comeback? Remember how he and Wade worked perfectly in concert in Game 1 of The Finals? It's easy to just forget all the good stuff because of how it all finished. But LeBron didn't completely lay an egg. He just did so in the last three games. Doesn't mean he's not still the best player in the game.  

Ben Golliver:2010-2011 was a boastful, bewildering season for James, who arrived in Miami with unprecedented hype and expectations, only to crash and burn in the NBA Finals as soon as his first title was within reach. The on-court imperfections are clearly established at this point: a difficulty impacting the offense without the ball in his hands, an erratic jump shot, and the occasional tendency to tighten up when the stakes are highest. The off-court annoyances are equally obvious: a lack of self-awareness, a massive ego, and an inability to relate to the common man or to productively process criticism.

Still, judging James or his season solely on his meltdown in the final three games of the NBA Finals would be a huge mistake. Zooming out to view the entire year, he was spectacular as always statistically, posting the top PER in the league despite the fact that he was getting acclimated to an entirely new set of teammates and a new way of sharing top dog priorities with Dwyane Wade. He was a menace defensively, sending the aging Boston Celtics into the past during the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs and swallowing NBA MVP Derrick Rose whole in the Eastern Conference Finals. James remains the NBA’s best and most versatile athlete and saw time at four -- if not five -- positions for the Heat this season. There’s not a player in the league who can guard him one-on-one and there's not really anyone that he couldn’t defend at least passably.

Even for his critics, who were rightfully gleeful when things fell apart against the Dallas Mavericks, there must be a sense that this was as tough as it will get for James, that the perfect storm of hatred and disgust that followed The Decision will eventually dissipate, leaving James to finally assume the throne he clearly believes belongs to him.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com