Posts Tagged With: Cleveland Cavaliers

From One Generation to the Next: Kobe and LeBron Face Off Thursday Night

From Twitter: Then (2004) and now (2015)

Last night, the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Los Angeles Lakers 109-102 in Staples Center. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise due to the Lakers’ struggling to find what works for the team (for the past couple of years). What was so special about the game, though, is the symbolism. Guard Kobe Bryant faced off against forward LeBron James for what some are saying could be the last time this ever happens.

Here’s where the symbolism comes in: Bryant is 36 years old and on the verge of retirement, while James just turned 30 in December and arguably hasn’t even reached his peak professionally yet. Though Bryant had more assists than James (17 compared to five), James dropped 36 points, 17 more than the Mamba, and came away with the win. During and after the game, James and Bryant were very complimentary of one another, showing the utmost respect for their opponent.

“We love going against one another, it brings out the best,” James said of he and the Lakers veteran. “(He’s) someone I’ve always looked up to, someone I’ve admired. It’s always great competition going against him.”

To view James’ full postgame interview with Rachel Nichols, click here.

Seeing them reminds me of how the next generation of superstars are rising up.

You always hear about people age 40 and over talk about Magic Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Larry Bird and guys from that era and you think, “Wow, that was a really long time ago.” Now, for the late 80s and 90s babies, it’s our turn to reminisce:

I can remember a time when the superstars of the league were Bryant, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, Shaquille O’Neal, etc. and the Eastern Conference was filled with competitive teams, many of which were over .500 (but no shade). I can remember the Lakers’ three peat and the infamous 2001 NBA Finals where Iverson came as close as he’d ever be to getting a ring. If you ask people my age who their favorite player was growing up, most of them will choose someone from the men I listed above.

But now, you see the next generation of superstars. Jerseys of James, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Damian Lilliard, Steph Curry, etc. now are hot ticket items and have replaced the superstars of old. Bryant is one of the few players of that time to still be an active player on an NBA roster (Jermaine O’Neal may or may not be trying to become part of that list again). Most of those guys are commentators, coaches or have kids following in their footsteps playing basketball in high school or even college (like Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp).

So, congrats to James and the current generation of superstars. May you continue to build on the game for the next generation the way those before you did. Oh, and always remember: Ball is life!

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Categories: basketball, NBA, Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NBA on Christmas Day

Football is to Thanksgiving as basketball is to Christmas: they just work together. Throughout the day, five games will be played, starting at noon ET on ESPN with the New York Knicks hosting the Washington Wizards in Madison Square Garden. The NBA-filled day ends at 10:30 ET on TNT in Los Angeles as the Clippers take on their rivals, the Golden State Warriors, which will hopefully be a good game. Between spending time with family, I plan to watch as many games as possible. Here are my picks for each game:

  • Wizards at Knicks: Wizards. I think this one is a give-me game for the Wizards. The Washington team is doing well, with John Wall averaging 17.8 points, 10.4 assists and 4.6 rebounds. Their team gels well together and are currently 19-8, making them third in the Eastern Conference. The 5-25 Knicks, however continue to struggle and even though Carmelo Anthony is putting up big numbers, 23.7 points per game, it’s not enough. Wizards win 100-89.
  • Thunder at Spurs: Thunder. Even with Kevin Durant out, I give Oklahoma City the advantage. Kawhi Leonard is still out for the Spurs and Tony Parker may be out as well. Russell Westbrook seems to be running on all cylinders. If he plays the point, Cory Joseph is going to have a rough time trying to contain him. It will, of course, be a more competitive game than the one before, but I give the Thunder the edge 99-95.
  • Cavaliers at Heat: Cavaliers. Well, this will certainly be an interesting (and tense) game. It will be LeBron James’ first time back in South Beach since he decided to leave earlier this year. No doubt, he will be showered with boos, but still play well. The Cavs are still getting used to playing with one another, but at 17-10, I think they can arrange to do some good things on the offensive end to get the victory. With Chris Bosh out indefinitely, the Heat’s front court will take a hit. Kevin Love is currently averaging a double-double, making him a threat when it comes to shooting and crashing the boards. Kyrie Irving’s quickness will be too much for Mario Chalmers, allowing him to get the ball where it needs to be in a timely manner. Even with the home court advantage, Miami falls to Cleveland 94-110.
  • Lakers at Bulls: Chi-town. Derrick Rose is back. *drops mic* …*picks mic back up* But seriously, even if Kobe Bryant plays, it won’t be enough for the Lakers to get the win in Chicago. The Bulls have a good thing going and I don’t see the LA team messing that up. If Nick Young gets hot, he can put up some major points, but on the other side, there’s Rose and Jimmy Butler at the other end ready to fire at will with former Laker Pau Gasol getting it done in the paint. Being that Gasol is playing his former team and Carlos Boozer his former team, it will be interesting to see how each does. Chicago has the advantage 103-97.
  • Warriors at Clippers: Clippers. This is heart over head decision. The 19-10 Clippers have to keep it moving and get the win. Golden State is coming off a 115-105 loss to the Kobe-less Lakers, which could work in either team’s favor. The Warriors could use it as motivation to get the next win. The Clippers can be motivated by it because if a struggling Lakers team can win without Bryant, they should be able to get the job done with the squad they have. Being at home on Christmas Day, I trust that everyone will step up and put on a great show. Clippers take care of business and win 118-113.

Merry Christmas!

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Athletes Take a Stand

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged and what better way to start back up than talking about athletes with a cause, right?

These past couple of weeks have been filled with a lot of police-civilian tension because of two incidences where officers weren’t indicted for killing two black males, Michael Brown of Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner of New York. Many have spoken out about it and professional athletes are no different.

It all started with a few St. Louis Rams players, who came out before a game with the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture, made famous after Brown’s murder. Following that, other football players wore shirts that said, “I can’t breathe,” the now infamous words spoken by Garner, who was strangled on camera by the police.

NBA players began to do the same thing, with Derrick Rose being the first person to wear an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt. It then caught on and teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, LA Lakers and Brooklyn Nets (pictured above) wore the shirts together. Though it has drawn some controversy, and whether you agree with the decision or not, the fact that athletes are using their platforms for a cause is respectable. It isn’t unpopular to see them promoting clubs, alcoholic beverages and other products, so why not stand with and promote a cause?

This isn’t something uncommon for athletes of old to do. In 1968 during the Olympics, as they received their medals, track athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos bowed their heads and lifted their fists as a way to promote black pride. Though the two were suspended, they stood for something. Other athletes like Muhammad Ali also made their political views known without worry or care.

So often athletes are looked to as role models and even idolized for their performances on the court or field, but their behavior outside of that is less than flattering. But now, there are those who choose to make their views known by supporting a larger message. They can score all the points, get all the touchdowns and score as many home runs as they can, but being able to use their fame to promote justice and social change (or at least conversation about either two), is nothing less than admirable. That’s something to look up to.

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Kyrie Irving to Stay in Cleveland

Basketball season is over, but you wouldn’t be able to tell with the free agency buzz circulating. The free agency period began midnight Tuesday and phones haven’t stopped ringing since then. The biggest free agents being pursued include LeBron James, Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony, but the first to re-sign is Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving.

Irving has agreed to stay in Cleveland for the next five years, a deal worth $90 million.

The official deal will be signed July 10.

Though Irving has yet to earn a playoff seed with the Cavs, he averaged 21 points and six assists last season. Despite his decision to stay, things haven’t always been easy for the guard. Problems between him and teammate Dion Waiters were evident during the past two seasons. But both Irving and Waiters maintain there’s no beef between them.

Irving re-signing with the Cavs is a good decision on his part. As the franchise player and the point guard, Cleveland can build around him. Also, with Andrew Wiggins coming in, the two will be great offensively and can be seen as the start of something  really good in Cleveland. If LeBron James decides to come back to the Cavs (which would be every Cav’s fan’s dream come true), this team would be a force to be reckoned with.

For the next week, James and other free agents will be under the spectrum to see if they’ll be like Irving and stay with their current team or take their talents somewhere else. You’re on the clock, gentlemen.

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Stay or Go? LeBron’s Next Big Decision

It feels a lot like 2010 (except now I have a college degree and am job hunting). LeBron James must, once again, decide whether to stay with his current team or leave. Teams like the Houston Rockets, LA Clippers and even the Cleveland Cavaliers have all been brought up in the discussion of where the King will reign next.

The difference between 2010 and 2014 is he’s got two championships under his belt and has a better supporting cast. Keeping in mind the differences between the two teams and the events that took place while LeBron was with each one, it would be a big surprise if he actually left South Beach.

The way the season ended was a major disappointment for King James and the Heat. The team lost the chance to three-peat after the revenge-seeking two-time Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs took the series 4-1 to win the ‘ship. Despite this, LeBron seems satisfied with his current team. There have been some reports mentioning how Mrs. LeBron James loves LA or how LeBron should return to his home team. According to James, he won’t make a decision until after his family’s vacation. In fact, he says he hasn’t even thought about it, but does feel more at ease about the decision-making process.

At this point in his career, it would surprise me if LeBron left Miami for another team, especially after the fanfare behind his original decision to come to South Beach. He’s playing with a better team and coach and has a good chance of winning at least another two championships (granted, everyone is healthy and plays). There are very few teams out there that can offer that chance. Virtually any team he goes to will have to be built around him, which will cause him to have to carry the team.There were times when James had to do that with the Heat, but more times than not, there was always at least one other person that steps up with him.

Additionally, LeBron’s two rings allow him to be a superstar and truly seen as a contender to be one of the greats. Greats like him don’t have to move around every few years because players will want to come play with him, not vice versa. How often did Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson or even Kobe Bryant have to switch teams to play with other superstars? As a result, Bron should settle in and let new talent come to him.

Over the next few weeks (or however long it takes), all eyes will be on the king to see what he decides. It’ll be interesting to follow the various reports and stories, but when all is said and done, I believe LeBron James will stay right where he is.

 

Categories: basketball, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, National Basketball Association, NBA, Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Andrew Bynum: worth the risk?

After being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers and not playing all season due to knee problems, Andrew Bynum is now a free agent. Bynum is also reportedly not willing to work out for teams, yet the Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks are still showing interest in him.

The Cavaliers have already offered Bynum $24 million and he will meet with both the Hawks and Mavericks this week, as early as today. However, with Bynum’s seemingly uncaring attitude, is he worth it?

Last year, the 76ers acquired Bynum as part of a four-team trade, which included the Sixers former shooting guard Andre Iguodala moving to the Denver Nuggets. This deal backfired on Philadelphia when Bynum never played in a single game during the season.

The reason was because of his left knee injury, which led to surgery, ending his season. However, Bynum disregarded the rehabilitating knee and went bowling, injuring his right knee.

Although Bynum said that bowling was no more strenuous than what he does in rehab, most athletes alike know that they are supposed to be very careful what they do to ensure that they heal and rehab quickly and effectively. Yet, he did not take those preventative measures.

Bynum also had problems while being with the Lakers organization. During some of his time there, he worked out with Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. This was going well until Bynum felt he learned all he needed to learn from Abdul-Jabbar.

Abdul-Jabbar is a little before my time, but I do know that he is one of the greatest Lakers of all time.

He has worked with many players in the NBA as well as WNBA rookie Brittney Griner to help improve their game. Bynum as young as he is but feeling that he had outgrown an NBA great like Abdul-Jabbar speaks volumes about him as a person.

Bynum also had behavior problems on and off the court while with the Lakers. One of the most remembered on-court “temper tantrums” that he had was a bad foul on JJ Barea against the Dallas Mavericks during the 2011 playoffs. (Note: He was suspended five games for this but did later apologize).

Despite all of this, Bynum does have a dominant presence and is a good center when he wants to play. During the 2011-2012 season, Bynum averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks.

However, do the pros outweigh the cons? How well will Bynum do on whatever team he decides to go to? And will he even play this season? Only time will tell.

 

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