Tag:Dwyane Wade
Posted on: July 8, 2011 1:21 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2011 1:59 pm
 

The Decision: One Year Later

Posted by Matt Moore

LeBron James walked into a Greenwich, Conn., Boys & Girls Club 365 days ago, sat down in a purple-plaid button-up with Jim Gray (who let that guy into this thing, again?), and said the words so famous. I'm not even going to bother you with a YouTube clip. You know what happened.

In the year since, James has been transformed into some sort of mutated version of himself. He's hated by fans in Chicago, Boston, New York, L.A., and especially Cleveland. He's booed in random arenas. He's filleted by every major columnist, television personality and talk-show host every time he opens his mouth. He's public enemy No. 1, all while he's the most popular jersey in the league, its most recognizable star and, arguably, the game's best player. 

So the question should be asked: What exactly did we learn from "The Decision"?

Consider our reaction when the television special was announced:
It doesn't matter where James goes. It's how he announces it. The man is having an hour on the most powerful sports television entity in the world, selling his own advertising, and donating it to charity, only furthering his image. There will be backlash, because that's what happens when you market yourself. It's self-aggrandizement, but you should also recognize that it's proof of the power of controlling your own message, of honing and delivering it on your own terms. More so than going to New York or Chicago or staying home and being the hero, it's the process of his declaration that gives this moment its weight. It's false dramatics, but then, this is sport. We turn athletes into Warriors and games into legends. We're not above this behavior, James is simply harnessing its full power.

LeBron James is on the verge of a decision which will impact the next half-decade in the NBA. He could win multiple titles or walk away empty handed. He could destroy Cleveland or save it. He could resurrect New York, rise in Jordan's shadow, claim Brooklyn as his kingdom, or bring the party to South Beach. But in reality, regardless of his decision, he's making history. He's bringing the power of individual control to a new level, and capitalizing on the full weight of his business potential. For years, he's discussed wanting to be a global icon. It turns out that where he plays may not be the key to accomplishing that. Instead, his method for revealing his decision could be the launching pad towards finally reaching that particular atmosphere.
via Community - CBSSports.com.

"The Decision" was supposed to capitalize on a rare opportunity to expand James' brand to global status. For years, there had been talk that James' ultimate goal was to be a "global brand" and not just a basketball player. This seemed to fit right in line with that thinking. Despite the money going to a good cause (a fact which really was overlooked in the whole thing; what's more important, where James played the next few years in basketball or helping kids have better lives?), the move did not come off as empowerment. Or more accurately, it did, and that empowerment offended people.

Athletes are better served by having things "blessed" upon them. Offered an extension from your team despite its decision-making that led to things like, "We should get Antawn Jamison not Amar'e Stoudemire because we don't want to give up J.J. Hickson" and "Ben Wallace will be the difference maker!"? You should be humbled to have been blessed with the offer. It's not just that you shouldn't act as if James did in orchestrating the Decision (or his people did, rather), it's that you should be the opposite. Kevin Garnett lost no face in sad-facing his way out of Minnesota, because he did it out of the public eye and when asked about it, never said anything about choosing anything other than Minnesota. James challenged all that, spat in the face of it. And no one liked that. Especially not Cleveland.

If there was one group of people who were right, and continue to be right, in bashing James and keeping the fires of hatred alive, it's Cavs fans. That was either the legitimate reason, or viable excuse, for all the hatred outside of the state of Ohio, the idea that everyone felt bad for Cleveland. This, despite the fact that most big-city, coastal demographics could have cared less about everything in between the coasts, at least as it relates to sports (and in reality in regards to most things) every day up until July 8th of last year, and every day after that didn't involve LeBron James in the discussion. All of a sudden, everyone was heartbroken for Cleveland, without ever really understanding how the trauma was simply part of a bigger picture that crosses all sports, and honestly reflected a lot of the frustration from non-sports factors like politics and the economy. But Cleveland was the rallying cry, the "Remember the Alamo" for hating LeBron James. And it was righteous. 

The Decision itself was overdone. That's definitely true. And it was obnoxious. Trust me, I had to cover the thing, responding to every aspect of it. I've had to live with "taking my talents to..." jokes for 365 days and have drowned in the overbearance of both James' process of selection and the subsequent fallout. It was over the top. But there's nothing wrong with being over the top. It's just a little sleazy. It just makes us feel uncomfortable. The questions about a free agent's power to make his own decision about his future? That's a bit more complicated.  We like the excitement of player movement, but we're uncomfortable as a society with empowered athletes taking this much control. There are a number of theories why that is. Maybe it's racial. Maybe it's just that it makes sports seem too corporate, too driven by money, as we continue to cling to the idea that you should love to play and love your team. Maybe it's that it comes off as greedy. But for whatever reason, we're not comfortable with that. Throw it into a nationally televised audience in a whole big production and it's an entirely different thing. Then have the player turn his back on his home state, the city he was drafted into, the team that needed him more than any other. That didn't sit right with us. Some called it wrong. It's hard to go that far when you look at the things people do in this society, what athletes notoriously do in their down time most often. James didn't break a law, he didn't hurt anyone beyond making them cry over sports which is a decision they make to become that emotionally invested. He didn't assault, steal from, or morder anyone. But it struck a nerve, and that never sparked a year's worth of hatred that will continue for the forseeable future. 

The big result of "The Decision?" James created a new storyline, the modern narrative: Everyone Hates LeBron. There should be no pity here, it's what James created, and not only that, he only pushed it further with each dumb thing he said. For a brief time, from after the Boston series through the end of the Chicago series, it looked like he may have figured out how he needed to conduct his behavior, that he needed to be contrite. But then the struggles resumed in Dallas, and he reacted the same way he has throughout his career when criticized. Not with indifference, humility, or even deft resistance, but with outright defiance, seeming every time like a spoiled child who wouldn't admit it when things didn't go his way. "The Decision" revealed him as a character we could indulge in antipathy towards. It gave a reason, to people outside of Washington or those who disliked him because of their loyalty to another great (Kobe or otherwise), or a team rivalry (Boston or otherwise), to genuinely dislike his character. Maybe we needed it. Maybe it's just the way it is. But the year since has shown us something. There's no going back.

James' brilliance in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, performing in the clutch, taking over games, downing both Boston and Chicago, two of the best teams in the league, did nothing to earn James respect from the masses. Instead, most everyone muttered, looked at their shows, and spit vitriol about how the Heat should be that good with that kind of talent, or that it was about time. There's no redemption to be found. The glee in James' failure in the Finals was so nearly visceral that there was almost a parade in every town that wasn't Miami to celebrate him falling on his face. This isn't to say that's wrong. Again, this is what he created, this is the empire he built. It's one that's feared and loathed and hated, but the money is still produced all the same.

"The Decision" changed everything, the NBA, the league's momentum, people's feeling towards LeBron, towards free agency, and players' own sense of their empowerment. Dwight Howard will hold the Magic captive just as Carmelo Anthony held the Nuggets captive just as James held the Cavs captive before slaying them on national television. James' brand has never been stronger. More people tune in to watch him and see what he does than ever. It's just that now, it's not out of love. It's out of the interest in watching him fall.

"The Decision" lasted an hour. The famous words just a few seconds. But this show? Even through a lockout and even through a cathartic victory for the people as the Mavericks' team concept busted the superteam. Through all that, the show will go on.

There's no going back.
Posted on: July 7, 2011 4:03 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 6:09 pm
 

What teams risk in a lockout: Southeast Division

Posted by Royce Young



Talk of losing an entire season is a bit ridiculous to me. There's just way too much at stake. Money, momentum, fan support, money, loyalty, money -- it's just hard to imagine losing any games much less a whole season.

But it's a possibility. And with all this hardline talk going on, it seems like neither the players nor the owners are wanting to budge. There's incentive for teams to get a deal done and not just for the money, but because a year without basketball and more importantly, basketball operations, could greatly affect each and every NBA franchise. Let's start with the Southeast Division.

ORLANDO Magic
The biggest question hovering over the Magic isn't about wins and losses or if Gilbert Arenas should stop tweeting. It's all about Dwight Howard's future and July 1, 2012. That's when Howard will become an unrestricted free agent. General manager Otis Smith has already said he won't trade Howard, but that could just be talk. Howard has said he wants to be in Orlando, but hasn't committed, turning down a three-year extension.

But if NBA offices are shut down and all transactions are halted, Howard might be forced to stay with the Magic all season -- except he won't play a game. Meaning Orlando could lose out on A) having a team good enough to convince Howard he wants to stay because he can win there; B) the Magic won't have an opportunity to trade Howard and get a Carmelo-like deal where they can restock the roster instead of letting him walk with nothing in return; or C) the Magic miss out on at least one more year with Howard meaning they miss out on a chance of having a good team that can compete. That's a lot to think about if this lockout starts stretching into 2012.

MIAMI Heat
It's simple and very obvious for owner Micky Arison and the Heat: Lose the 2011-12 season and that's one less year you have of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. That's one less year of the spotlight, the attention and all that money funneling right into South Beach. That's one less shot at a title. That's one less season of constant sellouts, through-the-roof merchandise sales and huge TV ratings.

Basically, it's one less season of $$$$$. And one big reason for Arison to be an owner willing to bargain.

ATLANTA Hawks
The Hawks are in pretty solid shape right now. After the 2011-12 season, they only have six players under contract, including all their big names (Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford and uh, Marvin Williams I guess).

But a prolonged lockout could simmer the momentum built from last season's deep playoff run. The roster still isn't quite there and a resolution on what to do with Smith has to be figured out. The earlier he's traded means the more he's worth. Losing that opportunity is bad news for the Hawks, even if they choose to keep Smith.

But on the bright side, it is one less season of overpaying Joe Johnson.

CHARLOTTE Bobcats
The Bobcats aren't really going anywhere this year, or even next year. The roster needs work. It needs more talent, more ability and better structure.

But the Bobcats used two lottery picks on Bismack Biyombo and Kemba Walker, meaning there's a little jolt of young talent on the roster, which is exactly the direction Rich Cho is looking to take them. Younger, faster and a path to building, not just hanging on with marginal veteran talent.

A year without basketball for the Bobcats means a year of stunted growth. These guys need to play together every second they can and I don't just mean on a blacktop in Greensboro. Even if they lose 60 games, that's progress. But they need to be on the court to even have the chance to learn through losing.

Michael Jordan was a player (if you didn't know). I don't know if that means he's on the players' side because I'm sure he also wants a system that helps his franchise competitively and one that helps him make money, but at the same time, I think he cares more about winning and playing than all the rest.

WASHINGTON Wizards
It's the same story for the Wizards too. John Wall, new pick Jan Vesely, Nick Young and JaVale McGee are all young guys that just get better every night they play.

The bright side though is that Rashard Lewis is owed $21.1 million next season and that could be money well not spent. Which is why Ted Leonsis, an NHL owner who has been through an extremely painful lockout, probably isn't all that worried about things like stunted growth when there's money to be saved and made. The Wizards aren't on the path to prosperity right now and are likely one of the teams hemorrhaging a little dough. The Wizards risk setting back their development, but I think that's a price Leonsis would be willing to pay.
Posted on: July 5, 2011 2:48 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 2:50 pm
 

The lockout could really sting the Heat

Posted by Royce Young

Some owners are reportedly just fine with losing an entire season of basketball to get a favorable deal. That's not a good thing for players because not only do they miss out on their paychecks, but it also hurts players who had to postpone their free agency and are now a year older.

And think about teams that have superstars players in the final year of their contracts: Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard could all potentially walk from their current teams without ever playing another game for them. And not only that, but because the lockout halts all business, the Hornets, Nets and Magic wouldn't even have an opportunity to pull a Carmelo-ish trade and try and get something in return.

Definitely a little something for those owners to think about, especially when time starts to run out.

But think about how a lockout could affect the league's most visible team. Via the Miami Herald:
"If next season goes by the wayside, that means (Heat owner) Micky Arison has only two more seasons guaranteed with the Big 3 under contract. What could happen after that is too scary to even consider right now. Put yourself in Arison's shoes, and you would be walking to the negotiating table right now to make sure a deal gets done in time."
James, Wade and Bosh all gave themselves early termination options after the 2013-14 season. A lost season would definitely make winning not one, not two, not three, et cetera, et cetera, much more difficult.

So that's four teams that have a little different perspective as negotiations continue on. Of course the Hornets are owned by the NBA so that's awkward, but for the Magic, Nets and Heat for sure, there's some incentive in making sure 2011-12 happens. Making money is always the top goal for the owners, but having a winner and/or star players typically helps that.

And watching Howard, Williams or Paul walk without anything in return could damage some bank accounts. Same with Arison and the Heat. That team, while the most polarizing in the league, is also a lightning rod of popularity. Everyone watches the Heat. Arison would be missing not just one extra shot at a title, but another season of consistent sellouts and crazy merchandise sales.

Something to think about, at least.
Posted on: July 4, 2011 12:05 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 9:37 am
 

Hard cap could mean hard times for small markets

Posted by Royce Young



NBA owners want a hard cap. It's probably one of the three biggest reasons we're stuck in a lockout right now. Owners want a hard cap, or at least one they're trying to disguise by calling it a "flex cap," and the union has basically said they will never, ever accept a hard cap.

And when the hard cap topic is brought up, people always wonder how a $55 million hard cap would affect a team like the Miami Heat. Between Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, those three soak up about $47 million on the Heat payroll. And that's just for 2011-12. In 2013-14, that number will be about $58 million, so even the suggested $62 million "flex cap" the league talked about would leave the Heat only $4 million to fill out their roster.

The super-together, we're-a-real-team Mavericks? Yeah, their total payroll added up to nearly $90 million last season, third highest in the league. That's about $30 million over the current salary cap but because it's a soft cap, it was fine. (Fine in the sense it didn't break any rules, but still, pretty outrageous.)

The feeling though with this hard-cap business is how much it'll affect teams like the Lakers, Heat, Bulls and Knicks. Now their greatest assets -- money and market -- don't mean as much because in a hard-cap system, signing multiple big contract stars just isn't an option. Victory for the small markets, right?

I'm not so sure about that.

I wonder about a team like the Oklahoma City Thunder, one of the smallest-market teams in the league. The feeling is that a hard cap would help smaller markets compete because talent would get distributed a bit more evenly throughout the league. With teams unable to pay a bunch of guys on the roster $15 million or go $30 million over the cap line, either players would have to take a serious pay cut or go somewhere else.

Except in the case of the Thunder, a straight hard cap would destroy them.

Kevin Durant just signed a five-year extension that will pay him around $16 million a year. Russell Westbrook, an All-Star point guard at the age of 22, is eligible for an extension and would probably have it if there weren't a lockout. He's probably a max player or close to it. So that would be another major mark on the cap for the Thunder. Then the other guys -- Serge Ibaka, James Harden, Eric Maynor -- are all eligible for extensions next summer.

If the league has a stiff cap of even $60 million, how can the Thunder dream of re-signing these guys and keeping the core intact?

Answer: They can't.

That has been Thunder GM Sam Presti's plan since Day 1, though. He wanted to draft a bunch of young guys and let them grow together. Let them progress, develop and become a team all together. And when they did, lock them all up long-term and have yourself a contender for the next decade. It has worked. The Thunder just went to the Western Conference finals with one of the youngest teams in the league and should be in the mix for at least the next five.

Unless of course they have to let a couple of their big pieces walk.

Last season the cap was set at $58.04 million and the Thunder were one of only five teams under that number. While a lot of smaller markets prefer not to bust into luxury tax territory, most likely OKC would be there after those key pieces were extended. So while they're under now, that probably wouldn't be the case in the future.

Reality is, a hard cap might have more of an affect on the little guys, which is who the league wants you to think it desperately wants to protect. But basically, with a hard salary cap system, building through the draft and letting a core grow together is no longer the way to go. Put together a roster with five good players that need extensions and you're out of room after three. Maybe you can get four, but how do you add another nine guys to fill out a 13-man roster?

What we might see is the Maverick Plan instituted as the way to win in the NBA. Now again, they totaled nearly $90 million, but I just mean the idea. Grab one star player and fill in the rest with a couple rookie-level contracts and a bunch of aging veterans willing to take $5 million or less. The Mavs had one star and everyone praised them for it. But in a hard-cap world, that might be best philosophy.

Because a team of Durant, Westbrook, Harden and Ibaka probably can't exist just as one of LeBron, Wade and Bosh can't. Doesn't exactly seem right, does it? The idea is a hard cap would help restore some competitive balance and the bigger markets wouldn't be able to just dwarf the small ones by going $30 million over the cap like the Mavericks did. The Thunder would never do that.

At the same time, while the playing field might be leveled in terms of payroll, it could come at the cost of breaking up the band and redefining how a small-market team must build.

Every team that's using the draft to build -- which is the sound and socially blessed way to structure a team -- would have to reconsider. The Cavaliers might've just committed 80 percent of their future cap to Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson if those two pan out. Same for the Jazz with Enes Kanter and Alec Burks. The future for those teams might be just enjoying the four years you get with them on their rookie contracts and then choose one to keep. I don't really think that's what the NBA has in mind, but that's going to be what happens. Small markets probably will take the brunt of a hard cap much harder than the big ones. Or at least the good small-market franchises that understand how to build.

Who knows what the NBA landscape will look like when the dust clears in this lockout mess. The players have taken a hard line on a hard cap and supposedly will refuse to back down. The owners though are committed in their efforts to get one. Yeah, it'll reduce salaries. Maybe the system will stay the same but just instead of Harden getting a $10 million-a-year extension, he would get $6 million. That's possible.

But this is the NBA and just because a new salary system is in place doesn't mean the league doesn't have impulsive general managers that are ready to snatch away a player like Harden and give him that $10 million a year simply because they know the Thunder can't go that high. That'll be the world teams operate in. One where the Thunder Way is no longer the blueprint for small-market building success.

Maybe the players have a point, huh?
Posted on: June 29, 2011 3:10 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 3:48 pm
 

2010-11 top 10 best moments

Posted by Royce Young



Some are saying the 2010-11 NBA season might've very well been the best in league history. History. What better way to top that off than with a debilitating lockout where players and owners haggle over money? Momentum!

But despite all the depressing lockout stuff, there's no doubt this past season was pretty special. It all started with a wild free agency period that was capped off with a one-hour special and a preseason celebration party in South Beach. It finished in that same place but instead with the Mavericks being the team that took their talents there.

It really was a pretty remarkable season. The NBA grabbed its highest ratings since the Jordan Era, had an amazing All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, saw the rise of a bundle of young players that will carry the league to great places over the next 10 years and had polarizing teams and figures that had people talking constantly. I don't know that 2010-11 was the best ever, but for sure, it was really darn good.

And what better way to send it off than arbitrarily trying to wrap it all together in a list of 10 neato plays? There's no better way, that's what.

There were some pretty difficult omissions. Like Paul Millsap's 11 points in 28 seconds. Or Emeka Okafor's crazy buzzer-beater. Or that one Brian Cardinal thing he did that one time. Like any top 10, there were some tough cuts and I'm sure you'll disagree. Regardless, here are my top 10 moments from the season and 10 really good reasons why a lockout would totally suck.

10. Touchdown, Wade to LeBron
LeBron was a wide receiver in high school at St. Vincent - St. Mary. But I don't think Dwyane Wade was ever a quarterback. This play is pretty much what people were dreaming about the second LeBron announced he was teaming up with Wade. Two incredibly skilled players with stupid amounts of ability hooking up for a ridiculous play. Hate the Heat all you want, but you know you loved this play.

9. Taj has a moment, or two
It started with one of the ultimate posters of the season. Two hands, right over Dwyane Wade. It was so dirty that even Wade's children were giving him grief over it. Then he went ahead and followed that up with a follow-up finish in punctuate Chicago's Game 1 Eastern Finals win. Every time I watch these two dunks it makes me want to scream like I'm Carlos Boozer.

8. Love sees 30-30
Really, the top Kevin Love highlight from this season is probably his failed high five with Wesley Johnson. But I'll just recognize Love here with his second best moment of the season -- the first 30-30 game in, well, about 30 years. Love humliated the Knicks with a 31-point, 31-rebound effort doing something that no one has done since Moses Malone. Just look at that again: 31 points, 31 rebounds. Love was pretty unreal all season but that is just really outlandish.

7. The game that never ends
With the stakes high, the Thunder and Grizzlies needed 63 minutes of basketball to settle Game 4 of the Western Semifinals. Memphis led the series 2-1 after Oklahoma City blew a big fourth quarter lead in Game 3. What's crazy is that Memphis led by 18 in the first half of this game.

But the Thunder held a seven-point fourth quarter lead and finally lost it after Mike Conley hit an impossible 3 over Kendrick Perkins. Then Grievis Vasquez doubled down on the insanity by dropping another game-tying 3 in the first overtime. Eventually Kevin Durant and the Thunder wore down Memphis and took the game 133-123 and used that to top the Grizzlies in seven to move on to the Western Finals.

6. Indiana starts the third 20 for 20
How does 54 points in a half sound? Pretty good, right? Well, what about 54 in a quarter? That sounds like a pretty good number for an entire game if you're the Butler Bulldogs.

The Pacers started the third quarter against Denver 20-20 and would've had a perfect quarter had Mike Dunleavy not missed with a couple seconds remaining. For a team though to hit 20 consecutive shots? An entire team? If I'm George Karl and the Nuggets, at that point I'm not even guarding them just to see how many in a row they can hit.

5. Reke, from pretty far out
It looked like O.J. Mayo had just hit a nasty backbreaker for Memphis against the Kings. The Grizzlies went up one with 1.5 seconds left and Sacramento didn't have any timeouts left. No bother for Tyreke though as he launched from behind the halfcourt line and drilled a game-winner as time expired.

Still though, the most impressive part of this is the sixth sense from Donte Greene. He's entirely on the court already celebrating before the shot dropped. What would he have done if it had missed? I guess he just knew it wouldn't.

4. Coming back is easy to do for Dallas
Worst thing you can do: Put the Mavericks in a double-digit hole in the fourth quarter. Dallas had already pulled off two impressive comebacks against the Thunder and Lakers, but its Game 2 triumph over the Heat is really what won the Mavs an NBA title. Trailing by 15 points late after a Dwyane Wade 3, the Mavs turned it on with Dirk scoring the team's final nine points in the last two minutes to steal a game in Miami and probably a trophy right out from under LeBron and the Heat.

3. I believe that I just saw a man fly
Don't get in J.R. Smith's way. He won't just dunk over you, he'll dunk through you. With two hands.

2. Durant, Haywood and oh my goodness
Magic Johnson said this was the greatest postseason dunk ever. And considering the circumstances -- Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals -- he might have a point. Durant's Thunder were off to a bit of a slow start against the Mavs and faced falling into an 0-2 hole. But Durant woke up the team by throwing down right over Brendan Haywood.

Durant picked up a technical after the dunk for having some words for Haywood, but if I were the officials, I'd have just kicked Durant and everyone else out, because he basically turned out the lights right there.

1. Blake Griffin



Take your pick. Over Mozgov. Over Gallinari. Over a car. Oops from Baron, oops from Bledsoe, oops from Mo. The 2010-11 regular season was really kind of the season of Griffin and how he took over the world with YouTube highlights. No player has made people buzz quite like Griffin. Night to night, you had no idea what might be coming. When Blake Mania was reaching its peak in January, I think we all thought he might dunk over Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol if Gasol was standing on Bynum's shoulders.

I still don't think we've seen the ultimate Blake Griffin highlight. And when it comes next year, that just means we'll have 2011-12's best moment. If there is one. Oh please for the love of James Naismith, let there be one.
Posted on: June 27, 2011 2:58 pm
Edited on: August 20, 2011 11:08 am
 

Barkley: NBA needs 'miracle' to avoid lockout

Charles Barkley says it will take a "miracle" to avoid an NBA lockout. Posted by Ben Golliver charles-barkley

The latest dispatch on the NBA's labor negotiations from CBSSports.com's Ken Berger doesn't sound particularly promising. Berger writes that the two sides will need to feel "the pain of a work stoppage" before negotiations pick up and notes that a source involved in previous NBA labor negotiations says, "It's going to be ugly." One person who would co-sign all of that: television commentator and Naismith Hall of Famer Charles Barkley. In an interview with ESPN Radio New York, transcribed by Sports Radio Interviews, Barkley forecasts doom and gloom, and blames the Miami Heat.
"I’m not saying this because I’m in the NBA, if you go back and look, David Stern has been the best commissioner in sports the last 25 years. It would take a miracle on his part not to have a lockout and I truly believe that. I think there’s going to be a lockout, I think the owners are dug in, I think they want to send a message to these players.

"I think they’re really upset by this LeBron James / Chris Bosh situation, because their teams don’t have to be really good, but I feel like if they have a star in their market they can make some money. And if all the stars want to play together… we’re almost becoming like baseball where you’ve got a few good teams and the rest of them stink."
It's difficult to buy everything that Barkley is selling here.

There's no question that limiting or restricting star player movement is a top priority for the owners. If a few more major free agency classes go the way of the 2010 class, the NBA could really be staring at a monumental divide between the haves and have nots.

But we're not there yet. We just wrapped up the most exciting playoffs in ages, when upstarts like the Memphis Grizzlies arrived on the scene, young, small-market teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder did major damage, and a carefully constructed roster of veterans, the Dallas Mavericks, took home the crown. The star-swamped New York Knicks were swept out of the first round, the Heat collapsed in the Finals and the Los Angeles Lakers embarrassed themselves after getting eliminated in the second round. A huge number of teams (Chicago, Boston, Miami, Dallas, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Los Angeles, maybe even Orlando) entered the playoffs feeling as if they had a legit shot to win a title. Prognosticating for next season, it's similarly wide open. At least seven or eight teams have a decent shot at winning it all.  

To summarize: player movement isn't yet at a crisis point, but it's smart for Barkley and others to look further into the future. The NBA, like most professional sports leagues, is a copycat league. The Heat's blueprint worked flawlessly right up until they choked two games short of the title. They'll be in the championship mix for at least the next five years. That's a plan worth emulating. Establishing some stiffer checks and balances, given that set of circumstances, is logical and prudent.
Posted on: June 26, 2011 3:53 pm
Edited on: June 26, 2011 3:56 pm
 

Reports: Miami Heat to work out Eddy Curry again

The Miami Heat will reportedly work out free agent center Eddy Curry. Posted by Ben Golliver. eddy-curry

Back in April, much to everyone's surprise, the Miami Heat reportedly considered signing free agent Eddy Curry.

The massive center -- who reportedly weighs well above 300 pounds and has dealt with financial problems off the court -- has played in just 10 games combined since the 2007-2008 season. He's a giant red flag in every sense of the word.

Nevertheless, on Sunday, HoopsWorld.com reported and the Sun-Sentinel confirmed that the Heat will give Curry another look in a workout this week.
A source familiar with the situation confirmed Sunday to the Sun Sentinel that veteran center Eddy Curry has been working with the Miami Heat in recent days, as the Heat look at free-agent options.

By league rules, teams cannot currently work out free agents who finished the season on an NBA roster. Workouts of those types of free agents cannot begin until July 1, when a lockout is expected to be imposed, shutting down all league activity. 
Given the expected turnover on their roster, the Heat, despite coming within two wins of the 2011 NBA title, are beggars when it comes to the center position and can't be choosers. They must explore all options -- including Curry -- as they look to address a frontline that was filled with aging vets last season.

Aside from Joel Anthony, who was solid once he took on the starting role in the postseason, the Heat have 36-year-old Zydrunas Ilgauskas and rookie Dexter Pittman on the roster for next season. Ilgauskas recently exercised his option to return next season but is closing in on retirement quickly. Pittman played just 11 minutes for Miami this season, although his role is sure to increase, at least to some degree, next season.  

Complicating matters is the uncertain nature of the NBA's labor situation. If Miami knew for sure that there will be a mid-level exception in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, they could be reasonably certain of acquiring a solid center in free agency. Those details are up in the air, though, and with so much money committed to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the Heat are left to explore every possible veteran's minimum option in the even the league does move towards more of a hard cap system.

That's where Curry comes in. A cast-off and laughingstock for years now, it would be nice to see him add another chapter to his NBA career. More importantly, he would be a great new character in the South Beach sitcom/soap opera.
Posted on: June 21, 2011 2:25 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 2:54 pm
 

Riley may have exaggerated a bit with the Big 3

Posted by Royce Young



Some of the biggest issues with the Miami Heat this past season included arrogance. The lack of self-awareness. The ego. The taunting, the preening, the crowing. The Heat threw itself a celebration party before the players even had a practice together, and they started talking about seven championships and basically acted like they'd obliterate the league.

That's why this Pat Riley quote today from his exit interview wrapping the season should come as absolutely no surprise.

"The greatest thing in the history of South Florida sports was those guys coming together," Riley said. "With the exception of the [undefeated 1972] Dolphins. Maybe."

"Those guys" obviously being LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. (Not Erick Dampier, Juwan Howard and Jamaal Magloire, if you were wondering.)

Clearly, Riley might have exaggerated a bit here. He might have overstated the importance of those three players, just a tad. Possibly, there's a hint of hyperbole here. Especially when he corrects himself momentarily by saying the exception is the '72 Dolphins, then uncorrects himself by adding, "maybe."

Maybe? Maybe the greatest team in professional sports history was a bigger deal than three players deciding to play together? I don't know Pat, do you think the moon landing was a bigger deal than Justin Bieber's debut album? Maybe the fall of the Berlin Wall was a little greater than the return of the McRib. I'm not sure though.

What about your 2006 NBA title, Pat? Did you forget about that one? Or the other Super Bowl the Dolphins won? Or maybe the two World Series trophies the Marlins won? Or even the five national championships the Miami Hurricanes won in college football. (Though maybe those weren't so great. We all saw The U.)

And note this as well: Riley didn't say, "Them winning will be the greatest thing in South Florida sports history." He simply said just them playing together is. That statement sums everything up about the Heat better than anything. Celebrating something before the work is done. Lifting up a free agency period as a championship.

I get that people tend to speak in hyperbole ("Transformers 2 was the greatest movie ever!") but you'd expect someone as deft and smooth as Riley to keep himself in check. The arrogance that leaks from the Heat is repulsive. They just can't shut up.

I agree with Riley too -- they're going to have their time. That roster is too talented not to win. In the end, the signing may indeed be the best thing ever. Maybe they will win four, five, six, seven championships. But don't count your chickens, Pat. Let your game do the talking. For once.

 
 
 
 
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