Sunday, June 12, 2011
I was in Atlantic City this past Thursday night, at A Damn Good Sports Bar. It was a great place to watch a game and have a good time. If you are a LeBron hater it's an even better place to watch and have a good time. As I walked into the bar I could already tell how the night was going to be: Loud obnoxious fans cheering for the Mavericks and cheering AGAINST anything LeBron and the Heat did. Why do I get the feeling that this is how it is across the globe? Maybe because that is how it is across the globe.
So I stood in an area where I would have no impaired view of the game. To my left, four Dallas Mavericks fans, one Dirk Nowitzki jersey. To my right, two more Dallas Mavericks fans, no jerseys. And then there was me and my group of friends, only two of us really rooting for the Heat, the rest somewhere in between "get me another beer" and "Oh My God, you guys, this is my JAM." As the night went on and it became apparent that LeBron and the Heat were not going to win this game, the place seemed to get louder and louder. Then finally when Jason Kidd hit his dagger three that basically sealed the game, the place erupted. I thought that this was the loudest that it could possibly get, being that the three basically clinched the game for the Mavericks. But then something interesting happened. The next time down the floor, LeBron received a pass from D-Wade and leaned his body into the defender underneath the basket, shot the lay-up, drew the foul, and the ball went through the basket.
The only jerk that you could here was me cheering the alleged LeBron And-1.
3 seconds goes by....and you see Joey Crawford put his hand on the back of his head, and his other hand out in front. Charge.
The place erupted again, this time even louder.
Dallas eventually went on to win the game and the 4th quarter woes continued for LeBron and the Heat. But was interesting to me more so than the game was the reactions of the "fans" that were at this bar. The NBA fans watching this game seemed more eager to cheer for a LeBron foul up, or LeBron miss, rather than cheer the team that they like to win the game. This got me thinking. Does the casual (or diehard) NBA fan want LeBron to fail more than they want their team of choice to win? It is a fascinating aspect of the Finals to think about.
Think about it yourself; are you rooting more for LeBron to screw up and score 2 points in the past two fourth quarters, or Dirk Nowitzki's Mavericks to beat the Heat outright? Based on my experience from A Damn Good Sports Bar (awesome name by the way), the general public is cheering more for the LeBron screw up.
In a world in which every person thinks they are a sports analyst and believes they know everything about the games they are watching, in a world of Twitter and real time media, it's unbelievable to think that people would rather see a great player fail, then see another great player win his ring. It's unfortunate really, that we can't just sit and enjoy two great teams playing the most entertaining finals in 5 years. Game 6 and 7, YES, I said AND 7 will be awesome and I can't wait to watch. But I know I will be rooting for great basketball, and cheering great basketball plays. Not focusing my attention on one player and hoping he fails. (OK, I will be focusing my attention on LeBron, who am I kidding.)
Now a few things I expect to see in Game 6. (Or things we should see, can never bank on Erik Spoelstra to make great tactical decisions.)
1. If LeBron isn't going to take the initiative and score the basketball, then he HAS to shut down the leagues hottest player right now, Dirk Nowitzki. It is mind boggling to me that we've played 5 games already and we have not seen LeBron James guard Dirk on a consistent basis. The world's most talented and crafty defender has to guard the worlds craftiest offensive player. It's just common sense. Why do I have a feeling Pat Riley will sit a little closer to the bench this game?
2. If Miami is going to win this series, it has to be Dwyane Wade and it has to be now. End of story. He needs 35-40.
3. If Dallas is going to win this series, it has to be tonight. Game 6. If they let Miami get this one then it's no-holds-bar for game 7. I don't want to face a Miami crows, D-Wade, and maybe an inspired LeBron in game 7, if I'm the Mavericks
4. I would like to see LeBron post at the foul line, and create from the free throw line. He starts with the ball way too far away form the basket and gives the Mavericks time to set up their zone defense, and this is why he passes up the ball every drive. Stick him on the foul line, let him create.
5. These are the match-ups that Miami has to defend with in the 4th quarter: LeBron-Dirk, Wade-Terry, Chalmers-Kidd, Bosh-Marion, Haslem/Anthony-Chandler.
6. If they don't want to do that, then why not switch up and play a match-up zone in the 4th quarter. It's something Dallas hasn't seen yet, how do they react to it? Let LeBron roam free on Defense and rotate accordingly. It really doesn't take a rocket scientist to coach basketball. Especially when you have LeBron/Wade on your team. Sorry, Erik.
Lastly, let's see Overtime. I don't know why. Maybe LeBron will be better in OT. Just Kidding. Enjoy the game!
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Well, well, well. If it isn't Mr. Chit-Chat Sports himself, back on the blog again. It has been one year since I stopped writing, and it's felt like 5. Sure, I did a few podcasts with my friends, and those will be coming back as well, but I decided enough was enough. It was time for me to come back and do something I love to do.
I last left you after the LeBron decision. I needed the summer to digest what had happened. (OK, I probably only needed a week, lame excuse.) I was starting my Senior year of college and I thought that it would be smart for me to put the pen down, (or the keyboard in this case) and focus on what was important, which was graduating college. Which I did, with honors too, who would've guessed it.
So now I'm back writing, same cluttered desk, same tiny room, same slow computer, but with a renewed energy to write. Ever since I read a peice about Bill Simmons and the path he took to became a great writer and what he is doing now with Grantland, I wanted to get back into it. I pondered what to write about, because so much had gone on in the sports year. But something kept gravitating me towards this whole LeBron/NBA Finals conundrum that is so over-reported that you'd think it was the royal wedding all over again. I entitled this article, 'The Hiatus' because that is precisely where I was, and where LeBron has seem to gone during this NBA Finals series. So without further ado, the first post in a year from Chit Chat Sports - The Hiatus.
Why is it that every time I turn on the TV, the best basketball player in the NBA is being tarred and feathered like he's Roger Goodell and the NBA Finals is this NFL labor dispute? Why is it that we have this innate desire to destroy one of the leagues crown jewels? Is it really still because of the Decision? Or does it stem from somewhere else?
I wanted to try and tackle this issue but to do so, I had to find out why so many people hate LeBron James. What I found just by asking around and talking to my loyal NBA buddies, were two reasons. The first reason is because he left Cleveland the way he did. Understandable. I can't really argue what he did because I don't completely agree with it either. You want to play with your buddies, you want to play with friends in South Beach, you don't wanna pay taxes on everything, I get it. But don't leave the city that embraced you as their own, down like that. The second reason was because a lot of people are comparing him to the greatest to ever do it, Mr. Jordan. This is the point that I have a problem with and If I could just get on ESPNs 1st and 10, I would straighten Skip Bayless out.
So why do we make the comparisons between he and Jordan? Is it because they wore the same number? Is it because he does the same powder throw? Is it because we like to scratch and claw to unearth the next "GOAT?" United States sports fans like two cheer for two things: an underdog, and the best at anything. We WANT LeBron to be Jordan. Which isn't exactly fair to LeBron, in any way shape or form. So, if we are consistent fans and we want to judge LeBron on the same level that we judged Jordan and Kobe (Kobe and LeBron are the closest things we've seen to MJ), then let's do so.
Lets start with his Airness. Michael Jordan won his first title at the age of 28. He struggled in the playoffs until 1991 against the Lakers, finally breaking through and winning the first of 6 championships with the Bulls. I'd say that's pretty good, 28 years old.
Kobe. Right out of the gate he gets to play with the most dominant man we've ever seen at any stretch in time in the NBA, Shaquille O'Neal, soon to be Dr. O'Neal. So Kobe gets 3 rings because he has Shaq to fall back on and the two of them dominated the league to a three-peat. Fast-foward to age 30. Shaq is long gone, it is now Kobe's team. This is what we want as fans correct? We want the superduper stars to win on their own. OK, so Kobe finally wins on his own at the age of 30. Well done.
So if I get this right, and I like to think my research is accurate. Jordan wins his 1st at age 28, Kobe at age 30.
Let's jump to LeBron James, who by the way just turned 26 in December. He is in the finals for the second time, and yes he has a player with equal talent on his team, Mr. Wade. So if we're judging on the same scale as the other two great shooting guards, then LeBron still has 2-3 years left before he can win one correct? No, because we are so quick to judge and anoint and criticize greatness for a "lack of clutch gene" or a "lack of sense for the moment."
Why can't we be patient as fans. We owe that to these athletes. I understand that I sound like the biggest LeBron homer right now, and you know what, so what. I enjoy watching LeBron play. This guy has had the biggest bulls-eye on his back since he was 16. Why can't we let him grow up, he's still a kid! He's still a kid who wants to be as good as his idol, Michael Jordan. So when he throws the powder and he wears his number, it is not to be just like him, he just wants to do the things that his idol did as well.
I used to shoot free throws with the same exact dribbling sequence and routine that Jordan did. Three Dribbles, flip of the ball, shot. I still do it to this day. When I was younger I used to keep my tongue out like I was Jordan. We do these things because we are honoring our idols. And so this kid, who's 26, can't do that because the world wants him to be something else? It just doesn't seem fair to me. But then again life isn't fair.
Now, LeBron has disappeared in these finals, and I honestly couldn't tell you why. Is he trying to prove a point that without him they will not win? Because last nights game was painful to watch LeBron passing up opportunities and shots to defer to D-Wade. There is serious psychological situations going on between Dwyane Wade and LeBron. Sure they are the best of friends, but they both know that neither one of them is going to win this Finals without the help of the other.
So it's time for LeBron to step up. It's his time now. Why wait till 28? You are owned and marketed by the biggest shoe company on the world and their motto is: Just Do It. So Just-Do-It LeBron. There is no one in this league who can guard you for 48 minutes. When you need that possession off, defer to Wade, and he'll do the same to you. It's time for you to prove to us that you have that greatness in you. Hopefully that's what we'll see, in Game 5.