Posts Tagged With: LeBron James

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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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

Are Constant MJ Comparisons Fair?

I think it’s safe to say Michael Jordan is the G.O.A.T. Nobody’s going to debate that. He revolutionized the game of basketball and has six rings to prove it. If you ask any player today about their basketball idol or who they model their game after, they’re most likely going to say Michael Jordan.

11 years ago, another man entered the NBA as the first overall pick and has also changed the game: LeBron James. He’s a dominant player and is considered the best player of this era of basketball. Though he only has two rings (and going for his third), he’s a four-time MVP and an inspiration for the next generation of basketball players. James is constantly being compared to MJ and now their respective teams are being put head-to-head.

In an interview with WSCR-AM in Chicago Tuesday, former Chicago Bulls power forward Horace Grant said James and the Miami Heat couldn’t hold a candle to his once dominant Bulls.

“The Heat wouldn’t have had a chance,” he said. “We would have locked them up. We would have locked them up. Especially with the rules today, Michael would have had a field day.”

He’s not the only one, however. People are constantly asking which team would beat which and if James could beat Jordan in a game of one-on-one (both in their prime, of course). But, is that a really fair question to ask?

First, it doesn’t seem fair to try and compare the two because they played in two different eras of basketball. There are things players did in the NBA during MJ’s time they can’t do now and vice versa. For example, the definition of a foul was way different 20, 30 years ago than it is now. The style of play was also more physical and aggressive (see the 30 for 30 on the Bad Boy Pistons to understand just what I mean).

Second, the players in MJ’s time were MEN. I don’t mean that disrespectfully, but playing against 18- and 19-year-olds is a lot different than playing against 22- and 23-year-olds who have three to four years of collegiate experience. So many college basketball players nowadays take advantage of being able to go pro early and leave school with only a year or two behind them. Most guys back in the day didn’t do that. They did their four years and then pursued their NBA dreams (with a few exceptions who did three years). Those four years are crucial and the guys who leave early miss out on that. As a result, the way they play basketball is different. One can argue this gives LeBron an unfair advantage over MJ, in terms of stats, because the competition isn’t as great. And, that’s a fair assumption.

Third, Bron and MJ play two different positions: Bron’s a small forward, while MJ was a shooting guard. Both can shoot, defend and have good ball control, but their style of play is different. LeBron has an easier time attacking the rim because he’s bigger. Jordan has an easier time getting past defenders because he’s smaller and quicker. The way they execute, although both excel at it, is different because of their sizes and position.

To sum things up, I think it’s both men are the greatests of their time. But to compare the two and/or their teams is inaccurate. You can only go on their play in the context of the eras of basketball, which are different, but still good in their own right. Because Michael Jordan came first, he’s considered the GOAT and will always be the standard. But I think people should hold off on the comparisons. There are too many factors to consider when it comes to the two basketball giants.

 

 

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One More Time: Spurs and Heat Back in the Finals

It looks like deja vu happened in this year’s NBA Finals. The San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat are, once again, competing for the championship. As a result, both teams have something to gain (other than winning a title): if the Heat win, they three-peat; if the Spurs win, they’ll get the revenge they long for after what happened last year. It will be a battle of wills, but will the same team win?

In my opinion, no. I think the Spurs are still bitter from last year’s game six and are going to come back harder than ever. Despite dealing with an ankle injury in Saturday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Spurs guard Tony Parker is expected to play in the first game. Normally, this would be a weakness because the Heat can exploit Parker, the Spurs have proven they can play well without Parker (although they play so much better with him).

Injury or no injury, the match-up between Tony Parker and Mario Chalmers is a no-brainer. Chalmers does well in his position, but I believe Parker will be able to make more plays.

The level of talent the Spurs have had to play against in the playoffs also gives the team an advantage over the Heat. Miami’s playoff run consisted of playing against the Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets and Charlotte Bobcats. There were some very physical games, but the level of competition isn’t the same as what the Spurs had to face (Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks).

The Spurs also have a different team than last year, not in the sense of players, but in player development. Small forward Kawhi Leonard is a much more developed player and plays a bigger role for the Spurs than last year, averaging 13 points and seven rebounds so far in the postseason.

One advantage the Heat do have is if and/or when center Greg Oden plays. Oden hasn’t played much this season, but did see the court Friday in Miami’s win against the Pacers. He managed to get a rebound, assist and steal in the five minutes he played. At seven feet, Oden gives the Heat more height and dominance in the front court.

Another advantage for the Heat is, of course, LeBron James. The Heat will go as he goes and rally around him. The game will truly be the best player against the best team.

Categories: basketball, Miami Heat, National Basketball Association, NBA, San Antonio Spurs, Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

LeBron James will not seek NBPA bid

After reports of LeBron James considering becoming the NBPA president, he has no decided to opt out. James had previously expressed interest in the position because he did not like the way that the players association was headed.

“I just think the union is going backwards, and it’s not in a good place right now,” James told ESPN in an interview Saturday. “I think my voice could be huge in that situation.”

Current president Derek Fisher’s term expires this summer (he has been the NBPA president since 2006), which was another reason why James had interest in the position.

Had James been elected, he would have been the most high-profile president since Patrick Ewing in 1998. Instead, he decided not to further seek the position because of how much time the presidency would occupy.

“I’m not sure I have the time to do it, but it’s something I’m going to think about with my team and go from there,” he said.

Another factor contributing to James not running for the presidency is that the current NBPA vice president, Roger Mason Jr. , is a “strong candidate” to become the next president.

The NBPA will meet later this summer in Las Vegas to discuss the vacant leadership positions.

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Greg Oden takes talents to South Beach

According to Greg Oden’s agent, Mike Conley, Sr., Oden will sign with the Miami Heat. Both parties agreed to $1.03 million for the 2013-2014 season and $1.14 million in 2014-2015 should he pick up that option.

He will report to Miami today (Monday) and officially sign the contract.

Oden decided on the Heat because he feels that it is the “best place” and “best fit” for him at this time. Other teams that were recruiting him include San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks.

He has not played in an NBA game since Dec. 5, 2009 after fracturing his kneecap.

When he will actually begin to play is still unknown, but Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra made it clear that they will work with him and help him get back in shape.

On Friday night, Oden told ESPN’s Grantland that Coach Spoelstra made him feel like “they know what’s best for [him].”

Other that Spoelstra and Pat Riley, LeBron James helped out in recruiting Oden, exchanging  text messages with him about coming to South Beach.  Point guard Mario Chalmers, who has known Oden for a while, is also optimistic about having him on the team.

“I think a seven-footer can help any team,” he said. “They’re hard to find. I’ve known Greg [Oden] since our high school days, talked to him a couple of times about this and you just hope for the best.”

Although it was a tough decision for Oden, Miami seemed to have always been the frontrunner and left more of an impression in his mind. One of the main selling points for him is Miami’s successful past few years.

“He wants to win championships,” Conley said.

 

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Robin Roberts honored at the ESPYS

Last night, ESPN held the ESPYS, the sports version of the Oscars, hosted by Jon Hamm. It was filled with tears, laughs and all-around fun.

Hamm started out with a funny monologue, covering topics from Dwight Howard leaving the Lakers to actor-athlete differences.

LeBron James took home the most awards, winning Best NBA Player, Best Championship Performance and Best Male Athlete individually and Best Team and Best Game as part of the Miami Heat team.

Other award winners include Brittney Griner for Best Female College Athlete; Adrian Peterson for Best NFL Player; Colin Kaepernick for Best Breakthrough Athlete; Serena Williams for Best Female Athlete and Best Female Tennis Player; Rick Pitino for Best Coach/Manager; and Jack Hoffman TD during Nebraska spring game for Best Moment.

The most touching moments of the night were Robin Roberts honored with the Arthur Ashe Award and Dick and Rick Hoyt with the Jimmy V Perserverance Award.

As an African American female looking to go into journalism, Roberts is a personal inspiration. Her body of work is amazing and she has warmed the hearts of many.

The Hoyts were a reminder of how people were affected by the Boston bombing, but no matter what, you should never give up. The bond between the father and son is one that cannot be manufactured nor broken. They exemplify their city’s new-found saying, “Boston Strong.”

Overall, the ESPYS were put together well and everything flowed nicely. It was a great evening to honor great athletes and even greater people.

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Miami Heat become two-time champs, LeBron named MVP

After an amazing series against the San Antonio Spurs, the Miami Heat win 95-88 and become the NBA Champions for the second year in a row.

This was by far the best game of the series. It was apparent that each team was tired, but they gave all that they had.

The game started out close with the Spurs taking an early lead. Miami, however, didn’t let that affect them. Slowly but surely, they were able to catch up and take the lead by the end of the first quarter.

San Antonio then came back and led briefly late in the second quarter, with the help of Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. Despite their attempts, Miami regained  and held on to the lead to end the half.

The Spurs came out a little more rejuvenated and a little more energetic to start the second half. Budding superstar Kawhi Leonard was big in the third half, scoring nine points and ending the game with 19. However, it wasn’t enough to deter the Heat from going.

Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers each had a three-pointer to end the third quarter, putting the Heat up by one. Both players put forth their best efforts and made big plays in the win.

Battier, who ended with 18 points and went 6-8 from the three-point line, began the fourth quarter with another three-pointer, which gave the Heat the energy and motivation they needed. The Spurs, on the other hand, did not come back out with the same will to win.

Leonard and Duncan still did what they can, scoring 12 of the Spurs’ 17 fourth quarter points. Their efforts were overshadowed by their low shooting percentage (38 percent from the field) and costly turnovers.

They could have caught up as they were only down by four points with 27 seconds left in the game, but Manu Ginobili had a turnover and a missed shot,  causing the Spurs to have to foul. Unlike San Antonio in game six, Miami made three out of the four shots (LeBron James made both while Dwyane Wade only made one).

The Miami Heat now have two NBA titles under the “Wade-James-Bosh Era” and James was named the MVP for the second year in a row. He joins Bill Russell and Michael Jordan as the only players to win consecutive regular season and NBA Finals MVP titles.

So, congratulations to the Miami Heat on another championship.

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Miami fights to win in OT, forces game seven

The Miami Heat survive and extend the series for another game after forcing overtime.

The game started out very close, with each team going back and forth. Mario Chalmers had 10 quick points by the end of the first quarter, but Miami was only up by two.

By the end of the half, San Antonio Spurs were up  by six and Tim Duncan had the most points with 25.

During the third quarter, though, the Spurs began to take off, going on an 11-0 run. They played their usual basketball and did exceptionally well on both ends of the court. Their strength was rebounding. San Antonio was able to shut out the Heat from crashing the boards and took advantage of every possession.

Although the Spurs led at the end of the third quarter, Miami didn’t give up. They made big plays and closed in on the Spurs’ lead.

The biggest game changer was at the end of the game when Miami had no choice but to foul. Manu Ginobili only made one of his free throws, giving the Heat a chance to catch up. Lebron James, who ended the game with another triple double (32 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists), responded with a three-pointer, bringing Miami’s deficit to two.

Again, the Heat are forced to foul. This time, they sent Kawhi Leonard to the line and just like Ginobili, he only made one. Just when it seems like the Spurs are going to end the series, Ray Allen threw up a clutch three-pointer and tied the game. San Antonio is not able to get up a shot with less than five seconds left and the game goes into overtime.

Overtime was much like the last few minutes of the fourth quarter in that each team is fighting and giving it everything they have: the Spurs were trying to close it out to prevent another stressful game and the Heat were struggling to get a game seven.

The Spurs had the lead for most of overtime, with the help of Duncan and Tony Parker, who was visibly drained. By the end of the five minutes, Miami was able to gain the lead and hold it, thanks to a block on Danny Green by Chris Bosh.

The biggest question was Manu Ginobili. After a great game on Sunday, it seems that he did not show up. He only had nine points and four rebounds, missed major free throws and did not have a helpful presence offensively or defensively for the Spurs.

Heat fans can now rest easy and Spurs fans, it’s okay. There’s one more game coming up on Thursday. Judging on how the last few minutes of this game went, game seven should be a good one.

No matter how each team plays, this will be the last game. The team that is victorious will be the NBA Champions.

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Miami’s Big Three take over in win against the Spurs

Just when all hope had appeared to be lost, Miami pulled out a win against the Spurs, 109-93, on their home court.

The star of last night’s show was Dwyane Wade. He played better than he had all postseason with 32 points, six rebounds and four assists. Despite previous problems with his knee, Wade was able to score in the paint and play fast basketball. Instead of having only a hot first half, he played a full game.

Each part of the Heat’s Big Three came to play and went into full effect. Combined, they had 44 points in the paint and 85 in total.

Miami’s team, as a whole, played better. Their defense put pressure on the Spurs and forced 18 turnovers.

The game was neck-and-neck during the first half. Anytime a team was down, they would go on a run and take the lead or be within five. The third quarter in each of the last three games was the turning point. Whichever team had the lead after the third quarter won the game. Although the score was tied at halftime, Miami came out strong and consistent in the third and won.

Tony Parker was declared a day-to-day decision after his MRI showed that he only had a strained hamstring. He decided to play and scored 15 points in the first half. After that, however, he seemed tired and did not play as well with no points in the second half.

The biggest concern for the Spurs is Manu Ginobili. He hasn’t done well in the playoffs and has trouble getting up shots in last night’s game.

Each team will regroup and prepare for game five on Sunday.

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