Posted on: May 28, 2009 7:47 pm

LeBron starting to get down on his teammates?

CLEVELAND -- Well, it sure sounds that way.

Don't take it from me. Take it from the man himself, LeBron James, who has made several curious comments since Cleveland lost Game 4 to Orlando to fall down 3-1 in this series.

"We are looking forward to the challenge," he said after Game 4. "I know I am. So I will be ready, and I think our guys will be ready, too."

He thinks?

And then this is what James said Thursday night, before Game 5:

"Hopefully they accept the challenge," he said. "I am."

And he said this:

"Hopefully the guys are ready," he said. "I think they are."

Hopefully? He thinks they are? Not exactly confidence-inspiring, is it? Sounds to me like James isn't sure how much help, if any, he's going to get from his teammates. And who could blame him? To a man, every one of his teammates -- every stinkin' one of them -- has shrunk from the challenge of the Eastern Conference finals. Replace LeBron James with anyone in the NBA, including Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade, and this was an Orlando sweep.

Category: NBA
Tags: LeBron James
Posted on: May 28, 2009 7:33 pm
Edited on: May 28, 2009 7:36 pm

Not just Freeman gets to like Stan Van Gundy

CLEVELAND -- Freeman has been all over Stan the Man. He wrote about Van Gundy shutting up past SVG tormenter Shaquille O'Neal by eliminating Boston in the playoffs, and then he wrote about SVG outcoaching Cleveland's Mike Brown in this Orlando-Cleveland series. I don't disagree with either point.

But now I get to say my piece on SVG. Nobody tell Freeman. He might get jealous. But the thing is, I like SVG more than I've ever liked an NBA coach, because most of these guys sit up there and act like they've reinvented the game. They either come across as smug and above it all, or if they deign to discuss basketball with the media, they come off as self-proclaimed geniuses.

Stan Van Gundy comes off like a human being. He doesn't claim to have all the answers. He talks like a regular guy, including this item from his pregame press conference before Game 5, when he was asked about the importantance of Orlando center Dwight Howard having his sixth technical foul of the postseason rescinded by the NBA:

"I'm tired of all the focus being on technicals, flagrants, suspensions, one team wants another guy suspended, obviously to improve their chance of winning," Van Gundy said. "The basketball in these playoffs have been outstanding. I'm not just talking about our series. You go to the Chicago-Boston series, Los Angeles and Houston. I'd like to see that be the focus."

Category: NBA
Posted on: May 26, 2009 4:15 pm

I would like to clarify some things

1. In my LeBron story up now, what I'm trying to say is not necessarily that LeBron is the best player the game has ever seen RIGHT NOW. What I'm trying to say is that, in 20 years, we will look back and acknowledge his place atop the list. So my point is, while you're waiting for him to win a title, don't miss the greatness of what we're watching as we're watching it.

2. Yes, I write 900-word columns and am so coherent in them that I then feel the need to summarize them in a 60-word blog post-script.

3. Well, No. 1 and No. 2 were just an excuse to say what I really wanted to say here, anyway. Which was this: You like the spot for my column? I love it. Only drawback is that Freeman gets the sweet locale, too. You win some, you lose some. Plus I'm on the left, which means I'm first. I better stay on the left.

4. I'm so fired up about the new spot that I plan to be blogging again -- and I got my photo re-shot today. You'll see in a few days. Somehow, I am three years older than I was in the current photo ... and even better looking. It really is amazing.

5. Freeman will never get a new picture. His looks have gone completely downhill. Did you know he's actually 60 years old? That photo of his was from 1987.
Category: NBA
Tags: Doyel, Freeman
Posted on: May 22, 2009 7:48 pm
Edited on: May 22, 2009 7:52 pm

5 Things You Need To Know ...

CLEVELAND -- ... entering Game 2 of the Cavs-Magic series:

1. Cleveland could go really small, so to speak, and play LeBron James at power forward. He said he could end up defending Orlando power forward Rashard Lewis, who hurt the Cavaliers in Game 1. "If Rashard gets it going, we will make a switch," James said. "I'll just take him. I don't need to ask."

2. Orlando doesn't expect the referees to bail out Dwight Howard. "I'm not up here saying Dwight Howard gets screwed," said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, aware that Howard has attempted fewer free throws in 13 playoff games (105) than James in nine games (115). "I think the league has made a decision on how they want the game played. They want a free-flowing game, so they've cut down on physical play on the perimeter. But I don't think necessarily they want an inside game, a post-up game."

3. Cleveland could hack-a-Dwight, regardless. "We should," James said. "Wrap him up, put him on the free throw line."

4. Orlando has no clue how to stop James from going off, 49-point style, like he did in Game 1. "I watched the tape," Van Gundy said. "I haven't figured anything out."

5. James is fine after cramping up at the end of Game 1. "I've not been bothered, at all, since then," he said.
Category: NBA
Tags: Cavaliers, Magic
Posted on: May 22, 2009 6:15 pm
Edited on: May 22, 2009 6:21 pm

LeBron beat me

CLEVELAND -- I got to Quicken Loans Arena shortly after 5 p.m. for tonight's 8:30 p.m. tipoff, because I'm professional like that, and who was out there on the floor shooting jumpers? LeBron James. More importantly, who was out there with him?


No Mo Williams. No Delonte West. No, dare I say it, Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

The one guy who doesn't need to practice, was. The three guys who do need to practice? Weren't.

No, I didn't forget Anderson Varejao. He doesn't need to practice shooting. He needs to practice not shooting, which means he was right where he needed to be at 5 p.m. Wherever that was.

More blogging to follow. Because I'm professional like that.
Category: NBA
Tags: LeBron James
Posted on: April 6, 2009 12:56 pm

Jordan gets HOF, guarantees UNC title

OK, only one of those things is true.

Michael Jordan was announced Monday morning as one of the five new members of the Hall of Fame. But he did not guarantee a victory for his North Carolina Tar Heels in the title game tonight against Michigan State, possibly out of respect for Spartans coach Tom Izzo, who has been a regular contributor to Jordan's elite basketball camps.

But Jordan clearly is rooting for UNC, Izzo or not.

"I'm glad North Carolina is here," he said. "Hopefully we can walk out with a championship."

Jordan's competitive fire rose to the surface, however, when he was told of a joke making the rounds -- that in the event of a tie game tonight at the end of regulation, overtime would be skipped. Instead, Jordan and ex-Spartans star Magic Johnson would settle things with a game of one-on-one.

Said Jordan: "You really think he can beat me?"


Category: NBA
Posted on: August 14, 2008 9:54 am

Somebody owes Dwyane Wade an apology

And after watching Wade lead the United States past Greece this morning, that somebody is me.

Here's why. Last week, before the USA began its Olympic rampage, I called LeBron James and Kobe Bryant the best two players in the world. I said Chris Paul was third. As for Wade, I said he "might not be No. 4 (or) No. 5 in the world, but he's somewhere in the top 10." A reader blew me up for that, writing the following in Hate Mail: 

You can't be serious. Dwyane Wade might not be the fourth or fifth best player the world? Have you been watching these games? He looks like he did in 2006, when he played the best basketball since Jordan and had the best NBA Finals ever. I want to know what else you want to see from the guy.

I blew up the reader, named Brian. But in hindsight, he was right.

Brian -- you were right.

Dwyane Wade is all the way back to his 2006 NBA Finals form, and that Dwyane Wade truly is one of the five best players in the world, maybe even one of the top two or three players in the world. Maybe the best. Not sure about that, but he's a lot closer to No. 1 than No. 10.

What Wade did to Greece was mesmerizing. The game was close until early in the second quarter when Wade took over at both ends of the court, deflecting passes and stripping dribblers and triggering fastbreaks and in the best basketball moment of these Olympics, doing nearly all of it at the same time -- knocking the ball away from Greece, tracking it down near the side boundary, jumping into the air to save it and then spotting Bryant streaking to the rim. As he flew out of bounds, Wade whipped the ball 35 feet to the rim for an easy dunk finish for Bryant.


My apologies, Dwyane Wade. And Brian. Wade has been the best player on the best international team since the 1996 U.S. Dream Team. Of course he's one of the best four or five players in the world.

Category: NBA
Tags: Dwyane Wade
Posted on: July 29, 2008 10:04 am

Is this how it begins?

Something is happening to professional sports in this country, and that something isn't good.

First, elite hockey players have been abandoning the NHL for deals overseas. Now, NBA players are turning down big-time NBA money to play across the Atlantic, too.

For decades -- forever, really -- the United States has been the place to be for professional athletes. In all the major sports except for soccer, If you were the best at your trade, you wanted to prove it here. But now NHL players are leaving, and NBA players are leaving, and at some point will we see a big-time MLB player turn down millions here to play in Japan?

Maybe we will. Because something is happening to professional sports in this country, and that something isn't good.

Category: NBA
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