If you can’t appreciate watching LeBron, why bother watching?

Last night the Heat evened their Finals series with the Spurs at 1-1 with a 98-96 win in San Antonio. Dwyane Wade struggled for much of the night, and the Heat bench provided just 12 points. The difference, much like always, was the greatest player in the world. LeBron James was brilliant, with 35 points and 10 rebounds, knocking down jumpshots and getting to the basket at will. James also assisted on Chris Bosh’s go ahead three pointer with 1:18 to play. The play was identical to the one the Heat ran at the end of game 5 vs Indiana, when James was foolishly criticized for passing up the last shot for the obvious smart basketball play.

James has been subject to more criticism than any two time champion and 4 time MVP than anyone in the history of sports. Shows like “First Take” on ESPN fuel the idiocy that is broadcast to the world via social media. These days everyone has an opinion on everything, and more than ever those opinions are influenced by mainstream media, and tweeted by fans too childish or ignorant to make any sense. The question I have is if you can’t appreciate watching LeBron play, who can you appreciate? If it’s not apparent to you that he’s the most brilliant performer of a generation, perhaps in any sport, at the peak of his powers, than maybe basketball just isn’t for you.

So go on, pile on the world’s greatest player on Twitter because he got cramps or because he passed the ball to his all-star teammate, I’ll be busy watching basketball at the highest level it is played on this planet.

 

Featured image: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

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Does the Cavs winning the lottery mean LeBron will return to Cleveland?

Last night, miraculously, the Cavaliers won the lottery yet again. Today the hot topic among the talking heads is whether this signals LeBron James’ triumphant return to Cleveland. I don’t understand it.

ESPN’s Colin Cowherd sent out this dumb tweet:

Really Colin, he loves that role? How has LeBron possibly demonstrated his desire to mentor young players in his entire career? Was it when he left a Cleveland roster with 21 year old JJ Hickson, 22 year old Danny Green, 23 year old Daniel Gibson, 24 year old Sebastian Telfair, etc. to join up with his veteran friends to win titles? He really seemed like a perfect caretaker then, Colin. (I’m sure Colin’s tweet was intended to stir this kind of reaction, but it was so stupid I had to comment).

It’s not just Cowherd, though, as the topic has been discussed all over sports radio and ESPN today. So let me guess this straight, 4 time MVP and 2 time defending champion LeBron James is expected to trade Miami for Cleveland because he can’t resist the urge to teach a 19 year old how to play in the NBA? This is all foolish, manufactured news, typical of ESPN and mainstream media.

The only plausible theory I’ve heard is that Cleveland could use to pick to acquire Kevin Love, which could draw LeBron back to Cleveland. Why would LeBron possibly leave his current situation, living in a tropical locale, playing with hall of fame caliber close friends, for a top organization, for that? What is it about playing with Kevin Love, who has never appeared in a postseason game, that would be so irresistible? I know Love is younger than Bosh or Wade, which would have some appeal I’d imagine, and he’s a terrific player, but I think Pat Riley has shown the creativity needed to surround LeBron with talent that he could only dream of during his first stint with Cleveland. And oh yeah, he’d have to go back to working for this guy.

This stuff is fun, and it’s good for the league’s popularity, but don’t believe everything you hear or read. I’m not saying for sure that LeBron won’t leave Miami, because that would be impossible for me to say, I’m just saying be wary of the million speculative headlines you’ll read from now to July.

 

 

Image Credit: Corey Sipkin/ New York Daily News

Should the MVP be a regular season award?

This next post stems from a discussion I heard on sports radio this week, between WFAN’s Mike Francesa and Ira Winderman, who covers the Heat for the Sun-Sentinel. They were discussing the possibility of the Thunder losing their first round matchup to the Grizzlies, and how hollow the MVP award would be when given to Kevin Durant after a first round upset. Francesa believed the award should be voted on after the Conference Finals, since the MVP of the Finals would receive the Bill Russell award.

My initial reaction was that it wouldn’t matter much when the award is decided, because the MVP can usually carry his team to the Finals anyway. Upon further review, that’s not exactly the case. The MVP award has been handed out 58 times, not including this year’s presumptive winner, Kevin Durant. Of the 58, 30 have gone on to play in the Finals, while 28 exited early. That is 51.7% to 48.3%, so regular season MVP’s have only gone on to play in the NBA Finals in a slight majority of the time.

The truth of the matter is that, as is the case with many subjective awards, it depends what you’re looking for. For many, a dominant regular season spanning nearly 6 months justifies winning the award, while many only care about the end result of the season. I tend to lean towards the former, because while I understand the importance of winning championships in sports, I don’t believe that regular season greatness should just be ignored. There’s a reason they play the regular season which make up a vast majority of the games a player will play during their career. My biggest fear with deciding the MVP before the Finals is the immediate emotional impact that a great Conference Finals would have on voters. Should one playoff series, no matter how good, totally overshadow a great regular season just because it happened more recently? I don’t believe so.

One easy solution is to take a page from Major League Baseball, which names a Most Valuable Player for each playoff series. That way in 2010-2011 Derrick Rose could have his MVP trophy, though one could argue LeBron was the better player and lost the voting due to voter fatigue and anger over The Decision, we’ll forget that for now. LeBron could be MVP of the Conference Finals after he averaged 25.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.6 assists in the five games, so while that may not be as exciting or prestigious as an MVP trophy he would still be recognized for his greatness, without overshadowing someone else’s full season of work. Some of the names of MVP’s who did not reach the Finals that same year include James himself, Nowitzki, Nash, Garnett, Duncan, Malone (2 of them), Robinson, and a guy from Carolina named Jordan, among others. So while those players may not have been to the Finals in the same year they won MVP, it is certainly not a hollow award.