Archive for the ‘NBA’ Category

So something happened last night –it’s bigger than just the moment and I’m referring to the Clippers/Thunder game last night. There was a fight between Matt Barnes and Serge Ibaka, they’ve got a history together with Matt Barnes sort of being a tough guy though not a great player. Serge Ibaka is probably the elite shot blocker in the NBA right now, here’s the play by play ( ) By the way, avid NBA fans know that this happens half a dozen times throughout the NBA season. The story that made bigger news afterwards was Matt Barnes tweeting the N-word! Riley Cooper, Richie Incognito and now Matt Barnes; he tweeted “I love my teammates like family, but I’m DONE standing up for these n—as! All this s— does is cost me money. …” the tweet was later deleted.

Here’s what Clippers coach Doc Rivers had to say, reacting to that tweet “I think he was very emotional by the fact that he been thrown out of the game, so I get that part. The choice of words obviously…that’s a word I’m not a fan off in all venues” For the record, Matt Barnes has a history of racial tension, his life was threaten in high school by skinheads, so he’s had a racial chip on his shoulder. So I’m not here to attack Matt Barnes, he’s lived a different life than I have. Riley Cooper, Richie Incognito, Matt Barnes, the most disgusting and vile word in our vernacular and lexicon is back folks! Of course, it’s back in an adjusted form. You know, if you just put an “a” on the end of slurs it’s not as slurry! Hmm, okay so that’s the new rule. Just put an “a” at the end of vile words and it’s no longer a slur! But you know what? Major corporations and hip hop stars, if you start selling the word to the masses, don’t be shocked if people start using the word more regularly.  Black hip hop stars sell the word to the free market, guess what? Non-African Americans buy the CD’s, they love the songs, they’re catchy, they’re formidable, and think its okay to start using the word now.

So the N-word is center stage again in the world of sports! Oh but it was off the market for a while – understandably and appropriately so. But major corporations, the media – whom lean left as I do, are outraged by the word “Redskin” but when it comes to the N-word “hey, it’s less slurry now” terrific! Jay Z uses it eight times in his song Holy Grail that he only co-sings with Justin Timberlake. If you sell a word to the masses, you better know that not only those who think they have a right to use it will use it! It’s funny; we pick and choose don’t we? Gronkowski says something… we’re cool with it, but that another guy says something…we’re not cool with it. “Redskin?” outrageous!!  The N-word? “Well, I mean they’re artists…you know, they are adding an “a” at the end, it’s not the intent but rather…” So the new rule is: just add an “a” to slurs so I guess if I say “Redskins(a)” we’re okay with it right? My opinions on slurs are: once a slur, it’s off the market and that goes for everybody because it’s outright demeaning. But I guess I’m clearly in the minority on this one. Riley Cooper, Matt Barnes, Richie Incognito…people now defend the word! Once outraged, people now defend it. “Hey, it’s just like saying dude!” Oh okay, alright then…so I guess now the next move for me is to just not be outraged by it right? Or it depends  on who says it or if I use an “a” at the end….I guess I just have to keep up with the new stuff on slurs, it’s part of our lexicon again so I just have to keep up with slurs because you obviously want to know what you can say and can’t say…awesome!

Onto a story that I read this week, so the largest youth program in the U.S, Pop Warner, saw participation rates drop by 9.5% over the last three years “A sign that the concussion crisis that began in the NFL is now having a dramatic impact” According to data provided to ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” Pop Warner lost about 24,000 players, the largest two year decline ever. The downward trend in youth football coincides with a series of reports released from prestigious academic institutions and medical journals about football and brain damage. Colin Cowherd, host of the “The Herd” on ESPN radio recently came out with his book “You Herd Me!: I’ll Say It If Nobody Else Will” it’s a great book, almost done reading it. He dedicates an entire column and argues brilliantly on why soccer, over the next 10 years, is here to stay in North America. The reason is simple, baseball has lost the urban/city kid and football is now losing the suburban kid. When Green Bay Packers TE Jermichael Finley, a couple of weeks ago, was taken off the field on a stretcher on national TV – delayed the game for twelve minutes. Mom’s across the U.S and Canada saw that, looked at their sons and said to themselves “Nope…Done!” Why do TV ads target moms? 85% of household income decisions, according to a recent study, 85% of the time mom’s make the decision. When it comes to kids’ decisions? They make about 99% of them!

Notice recently how Rob Lowe and Dr. Oz, very popular TV personalities among woman, are now doing “I love football” commercials? You notice how the NFL now has a new line with Victoria Secret targeting young woman…why? They will become future mom’s! 98% of guys think they make the decisions when in fact 98% of women actually do. Every time I see a football player taken off the field on a stretcher, you know what I think? I think Roger Goodell – commissioner of the NFL, is sitting there watching and if he hasn’t made the call, he’s certainly thought about it “call the networks, tell them to go to a commercial, a producer piece, back to Joe Buck and Troy Aikman in the booth, show something else” Every time there are one of these moments, where Jermichael Finely is taken off the field, and for those of you who saw it, you were certainly thinking the exact same thing I was thinking…you know you were, you were sitting there thinking “man, this is a bad look for the NFL”

The NFL has shown and used leverage on the networks “Hey, don’t show idiots who run onto the field” next time you see a stretcher and a player hurt, I want you all to pay attention to what that network shows, and the NFL is now on every network. Don’t be surprised if you see increased production packages, they go back to the booth, they go to crowd shots…don’t’ be surprised! If the NFL hasn’t made that call, they’re certainly thinking about it. But when you have Jermichael Finley sitting there for twelve minutes, you were thinking the exact same thing I was “that is a bad look for the league” now Pop Warner stats are out! Next time you see a major injury, watch carefully on what is shown, don’t be surprised if there’s production packages “let’s go to another commercial” or “let’s go up to the guys at the booth” or “crowd shots” it’s all coming slowly but surely!


I understand people getting worked up over presidential elections, but sometimes I don’t understand the outrage people have over this type of stuff. So this past Wednesday, all the major sports leagues in the U.S. – NCAA, NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL (let’s not forget them) filed a lawsuit against New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in federal court because he signed a law that allows for betting on pro and college sports at New Jersey casinos and racetracks. Now, the leagues claim that New Jersey sports gambling law violates a federal law that is already in place – enacted years ago. But here is the outrage part – by the way, laws change all the time and so just because something is federally enacted doesn’t mean that it can’t be federally rescinded.  The NCAA and pro leagues say “such gambling would not only harm sports leagues and organizations such as the NCAA or the NFL, but would be a flagrant violation of the 1992 Congressional Act, to halt the spread of sports gaming.”

Now, here’s what I don’t get: why is everybody so anti-sports gambling in these leagues?  Does anybody remember the Tim Donaghy scandal? Do you know who tipped off the NBA? Vegas!!! They are not your enemy, they’re your alley! Vegas called the FBI and the NBA and said “you’ve got a problem” Use Vegas as your friend, they are not your enemy. Vegas tipped off the NBA or else Tim Donaghy could’ve gone years and convinced other refs to do the same. First of all, sports gambling are here, we love it and it’s not ruining society. “But Andrew, people get addicted…” people get addicted to butter! Don’t blame the beer because you’re an alcoholic and don’t blame the bagel because you’re overweight. People have to be accountable for their own addictions. Is it a moral issue? Well, more wars have been caused by religion than sports gambling. Religious zealotry scares me, who has the over on the Bengals/Ravens game, does not!

Again, I get the outrage on a lot of issues – why do people get worked up over sports gambling? Know a family friend who lived in Vegas for years, there are sleazy people in Vegas, but there’s sleazy people anywhere! This family friend once told us that he found, at the time he was in Vegas, that the people he knew in sports gambling, he found them to be incredibly trustable – it’s a highly regulated business. You know what’s not regulated? Strip clubs! If you’re anti-strip club, you may have a point! The alcohol business – every state and province is different. “In this state, it’s the Wild Wild West…in this state, you can’t drink on the Lord’s Day” But the idea that people get worked up – that I have the Rams at -6, I’ve never understood. Here’s a little secret, sports gambling is already everywhere! Did you know that? Like everybody thinks “Vegas…the evil empire that takes everyone’s money” pfft, did you know that only 4% of NFL bets take place in Las Vegas? I’ve got news for you, there’s already sports gambling in New Jersey – there’s more in New Jersey than in Las Vegas! I don’t know the industry well enough to make big predictions, but I wouldn’t be shocked and I don’t think any of you would be either if sports gambling were legalized on the internet in the next 10 years.

I mean what person have you ever met in New Jersey that says “Bob, it’s not legal for me to bet on the Giants…Guess I’m out of luck!” You want to bet? Go bet! This is like the government trying to stop television viewing. People are doing it, they’re always doing it, its part of our fabric and even if it’s illegal – and there’s a 12% underground economy in America anyways, you’ll never stop it! People are going to drink, they are going to lust, they’re going to gamble, they’re going to eat and they’re going to watch television – you can’t stop it! So legalize it, tax the hell out of it and the state of Jersey could make over $200 million a year! Really? How many are they making on strip joints? Not that much I’d assume! It is amazing how people treat sports gambling – they treat it as if were the Ebola Virus “here it comes!! We’ll bleed from our eyes…run for the hills!” I bet football games people!! Again, is it a moral issue? I mean when the government had prohibition – do you think people didn’t drink? It was more of an underground premium that ever! I simply find that the stigma just forces more illegal activity but if you legalize it, the bad guys go away – they lost their market!

It’s like going to your son and saying “Do not listen to the band Gawr, I do not like that music…that music is evil” You know what your son is probably going to do? He’s going to go to his room and crank Gawr simply because I told him he can’t. But if I say to him “you know what, Gawr is awesome!! Crank it buddy!” suddenly it’s not cool. So again, take away the stigma, legalize it everywhere! “Andrew, but you’ll have game fixing” they’ve had more game fixing in Europe. There was an Arizona State basketball game several years ago that was fixed – sports gambling wasn’t legal in Arizona yet it was legal in Vegas and UNLV games aren’t fixed! Gambling sanitizes when it’s legal, there aren’t any thumb breakers, and there aren’t any loan sharks. We’re going to gamble as a society – get over it!! Legalize it and tax the hell out of it! You can’t stop it! Illegal card room/legal card room – how about we just make them legal and get some tax revenue out of it! Think about it, what vice has the government not gotten a piece out of it?

I think they’re biggest issue is – and here’s the great thing about sports gambling for you and I – and we’re doing it right now and it’s not ruining society. I mean look around our society folks, how many of them are tied to this: you can bet on a Laker game tonight! Are any of our societal ills based on that Laker game 4 months from now? This is not asking to legalize marijuana – there are concerns that it’s a gateway drug, concerns on what it does, I mean we all went to school with corky – he was forget and sort of apathetic. I just never understood and it’s so bizarre! The family friend lived in Vegas, he knew these people who betted on sports for a living – all they really are, when you think about it, are analysts! You’re a hedge fund analyst, financial analyst, insurance analyst and then there’s sports gaming analysts. Hit 58%, manage your money and that’s your living!

Sometimes folks, the rich are rich because they are smarter, because they are more aggressive and because they are more shrewd.  It’s not always because their dad handed them a billion dollars – 92% of American millionaires grew up in the middle class, sorry if it doesn’t fit your narrative. Steve Nash took less to be a Laker, Antawn Jamison took less to be a Laker – they didn’t go out and buy Dwight Howard, they rolled the dice and took a risk! He can potentially leave them in a year. The Lakers didn’t create the weather nor did they build the beach – it was there when they came via Minneapolis.  The Lakers are simply smarter than most teams – yes they’ve got great weather, but do you know what? If you’re a stockbroker and live in Milwaukee, dude Chicago is an hour away, move and be a playa! You’ll never be one in Milwaukee, don’t blame finance! Milwaukee, you’re an hour from Chicago…move, if you want to make big money. Everybody is whining about their lot in life. First of all, the NBA now has 13 excellent teams – this is amazing! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this before. Yet everyone is like “Andrew, but now the Lakers are too good…” hey, who said this guarantee’s them a championship? I’ll still take Miami to win it all next year. I’ll take the Lakers over OKC but will take Miami over LA because they’ve still got Lebron (see what he’s doing amongst the best on Team U.S.A at Olympics? Especially game against Lithuania?)

People then complain about it being all stacked – you want it stacked don’t you? People in Ohio love a stacked deck when it’s Ohio State football in the Big 10, but they hate it when it’s the Indians in baseball, Cavs in basketball and Blue Jackets in hockey that are getting hozed! You love a stacked deck…when it’s YOUR stacked deck. “this is awesome” when it’s not yours “this stinks” it’s funny because it certainly doesn’t stink to be in OKC, Miami, Boston or LA right now in the NBA, those are excellent basketball teams. I would say that there are another 5 teams that are very very good right now – Brooklyn, San Antonio, Chicago, Denver and Indiana. Then I’d say there are 4 teams you don’t want to get into an alley fight with – Philadelphia, Clippers, Memphis and Knicks. There are 13 excellent, very good or very dangerous teams in this league – that’s 40% of the league. The league has certainly never been this deep – now are there 9 horrible teams? Yeah, but they are re-building. It’s like I’ve been saying for a while on the blog, I’d cut 4 outta the NBA, 4 outta baseball, 6 outta hockey and 4 outta the NFL, but that’s never going to happen.

Now, Orlando to me could’ve done much better than this – I was reading a comment on an article written today out of the New York Times and the individual made a good point saying “the Magic passing on better deals reminds me of the guy that goes to the bar and thinks the women are going to get cuter as the night goes on. After realizing he’s wrong at 1am in the morning, he panics and ends up going home with the ‘4’ he’s always avoided” The longer Orlando waited, the uglier this thing got – and that’s the way it’s worked in my life. I’m not saying the 1st offer is the best, but the longer you go, the uglier it gets because everybody in the league knows Dwight doesn’t want to be there, the fans are going to be booing him, it’s going to be awful , you should’ve jumped ship on this guy 2 years ago! I ranted 2 years ago on this very blog – your wife now, but 2 years ago when you were still dating, if she walked up to you and said “I don’t know about this, I’m not really attracted to you, I mean I kinda like…” get out of it!!  It’s certainly not a good fit – there are a million women in the sea and there’s a million guys out there as well…get out of it! If she’s dropping hints 2 years ago – which Dwight Howard was by saying “I’m going to look at other places” Like Kobe doesn’t say “you know I’m looking at other places” Kobe loves the Lakers.

So I think Orlando just kept waiting and waiting and waiting and it just kept getting uglier and the deals got worse and worse – I’ll take Brook Lopez’s contract! I’ll take that over whatever this deal really is – I don’t like this at all. Like in baseball, we don’t have any problem with someone just stepping up and paying a fortune and buying guys. The Lakers here didn’t buy anything! I’ve just never seen anything like this though because usually the way the NBA works is that you have to inherit a horrible contract and a bunch of draft picks to get a superstar! You gotta give something, the Lakers inherited nothing, kept Gasol, got rid of that head case Bynum and are giving up like a 2017 draft pick! So basically there is a 12 year old in the suburbs of Chicago whom the Lakers gave up. He’s babysitting his brother tonight as his parents are out for the night. The Lakers gave up a 12 year old in the burbs in Chicago for Dwight Howard…fantastic!!

But I am so over everyone whining about their lot in life “oh it’s this…that…this…that” I tell you, I always say this, go read the books written by a guy named Richard Florida (his bio do you want to matter? You gotta move!! I watched a documentary about a family who lives in Long Island, New York – talking about how he’s been unemployed for 3 years due to the recession and all – it’s a pretty awful situation and sad but yet I kept screaming at the television “move” Nebraska has 2% unemployment…move!! If you’re going to whine about your life and everybody’s narrative is “oh I can’t get this, I can’t get that…” stop it! Change your life, society is mobile! Don’t blame the Lakers!!

Sometimes the Lakers are just smarter than other people, they’re definitely more aggressive than others, and they stay on the clock. I remember reading in one of those college football insider subscriptions earlier this year where Lane Kiffen, USC football head coach, was telling the reporter on how it was the first day of recruiting this year – when you were allowed by NCAA rules to call up the players to recruit them to your school.  He said how he’d called 4 of the top 5 players in the country and recalled how the only other team that had called all 5 of them was Nick Saben of Alabama before him! That’s why Alabama right now is #1 in the country – they work harder than anyone else! Why are they dominating college football so much? Simply because Nick Saben is on the phone at 1am in the morning on the first day of recruiting. Lane Kiffen talked about how he’d called 4 of the top 5 players and basically every kid said “yeah, I just got off the phone with Nick Saben” they didn’t get off the phone with Northwestern’s coach! Didn’t get off the phone with Oklahoma State’s coach! Or Baylor’s coach! Or Oregon State’s coach! It was Alabama’s coach!

So you know what, this is very good for the Lakers! I’ll tell you what though, don’t hand the Lakers a championship either because of this move- you’re nuts to do that! I’ll still take Miami – now I do think they match up pretty well against Oklahoma City. By the way, Magic Johnson was interviewed on SportsCentre yesterday morning – he thinks that the Lakers, I agree with him here, that they will gel more quickly (Nash and Howard specifically) than the whole Bosh, Wade, Lebron took saying “ you’ve got three perimeter players in Miami – that’s why it was hard for them to work it out. Where is everybody going to go? Who is going to take the shots? While with the Lakers you won’t have that because you already know that Kobe Bryant will be coming off the wings shooting, you know Dwight Howard will be down low –that’s the only place he’s going to play. So this is going to be an easier transition for the Lakers for them to work it out than it was for Miami” Again, everybody loves a stacked deck when it’s your stacked deck and everybody resents when it’s somebody else. The Lakers outsmarted the league….once again!

It was a weird 4th of July earlier this month as it was during mid-week, which I’m not a fan off. I like it when it’s on a Friday or Monday. So I went out for a run in the scorching heat and humidity – I was shot for the day. I then checked my texts and started getting into arguments with all sorts of people basically telling everyone this: Steve Nash can’t go to Toronto; it’s stupid because he’s an all-time great! “ouuu but it’s going home Andrew” he’s not from Toronto! He didn’t even play college basketball in Canada; heck he wasn’t even born in Canada! Going home is over-rated when you’re an all-time great. When you’re on a 7 game losing streak and a 9th seed in the East, congrats on going home!

Steve Nash deserves a fight for the championship, he’s Steve Nash!! Steve Nash led the NBA in assists the last 3 seasons and Phoenix didn’t have a 20 pts a game scorer! How the hell did he do that? That’s absolutely amazing! He’s still a 50% shooter from the field “Well Andrew, he doesn’t defend very well” who does though? Derrick Rose? Please!! Steve Nash to the Lakers is a game changer. Do you get how bad the Lakers were at the point guard position last year? Let me just sum up how bad the Lakers were. When they acquired Ramon Sessions, a back-up in freaking Cleveland, it was considered a major upgrade. When they acquired Ramon Sessions – who couldn’t start for Cleveland, they threw a parade in Los Angeles. The Lakers’ point guards at the end of last season were the 2nd worst in the league in points per game and 4th worst in assists.

Nash, not only led the league in assists with no stars – now he gets Kobe, Gasol and Bynum, but he also ranked 1st in assists per 48 minutes and 2nd in assist percentage. Meaning, did his teammates shoot better when he was on the floor? He was #2 in the league. This absolutely changes everything “But Andrew, the Lakers still don’t have a bench…” who does though? Indiana? How’d that work out for them in the playoffs? Oklahoma City had a much better bench then Miami, Miami had Lebron. Benches don’t win titles. Spurs had a great bench, Miami had no bench – you need stars!! They win you games in this league; if they didn’t, then Indiana would have 9 rings. But you know who’s got them? The Celtics and the Lakers because they attract stars! So he is a complete game changer.

The other thing in Los Angeles is that Steve Nash is one of these guys – there are about 3 or 4 of them in the league. Lebron is one of them; Chris Paul is one of them and Steve Nash, in that they upgrade everybody around them by a little. They take a B- player and make him a B+ player. They take a C+ player and make him a B- player and Nash is really good at that. The Lakers’ biggest problem – and any Laker fan will tell you, is that Pau Gasol and Kobe don’t mesh, they like each other and they’re really smart guys. The truth is, Kobe is not a true point guard, and he is a scorer and not a distributor. As a result, Pau Gasol gets frozen out and gets ticked off. Every year by the All-Star break Pau starts complaining “I’m not getting enough touches” with Nash…problem solved!

So A) you get a massive upgrade at point guard – Steve Nash and Ramon Sessions isn’t an upgrade, it is a mega upgrade! It’s Dwight Howard from Brook Lopez, it’s not even close. Secondly, you get a guy who led the league in assists in Phoenix with no legitimate scorers. What do you think he’s going to do with Kobe and Gasol? 3 years ago, Gasol was arguably the best big in the game, do you think he’s bad now? No, the Lakers point guards have been atrocious – nobody gets him the ball. This, if anything, revives his career. This is just an absolute game changer! Not to say that the Lakers still don’t have issues, but folks it’s the NBA, there is a salary cap, everybody in this league has issues and flaws Miami won a championship with no point guard and no center! Oklahoma City is great yet 4 of their top 7 players are non-scoring threats. The Bulls don’t have a 2nd scorer – these are 3 of the best teams in the league!

The Lakers have 4 current players – either current all-stars or who use to be. Even though Nash isn’t, he’ll lead the league in assists next season for the 4th straight year – this is an absolute gigantic move! Go look at his numbers, his points have gone down but the Lakers don’t need points, he also adds a shooting touch from the perimeter. Kobe had his worst shooting year ever….why? Is he that bad all of a sudden? No, he was averaging 28 pts a game. Since they had no point guard he was basically forced into making his own shots way too often – now he’s going to get open jumpers occasionally. Kobe’s field goal percentage will go up by like 5%. Big win for Kobe, big win for Gasol, big win for Mike Brown, the head coach, who’s a defensive minded head coach, he’s not a great offensive minded guy so Steve Nash takes a lot of that headache off his table.

Metta World Peace was interviewed on the Scott Van Pelt Show shortly after Nash signed, you can make fun of Metta World Mishap all you want but the guy knows basketball saying “ he [Steve Nash] has a lot of weapons around him, he’s one of the leading assist guys of all-time. So if you give him the ball, he can dish it out to Metta World Peace, Kobe Bryant, the big Spaniard, Bynum – and he’ll make us look even better…” Never forget this: In the 5 games against Oklahoma City in the playoffs – Games 2, 3 and 4 with final scores of 77-75, 99-96 and 103-100, LA led in every one of those games in the 4th but Ramon Sessions was their point guard. LA is not that far off “but they don’t have a great bench like the Spurs Andrew” they lost 4 straight games at the end of the year because they didn’t have the stars that OKC did – it’s a star driven league. The Knicks have a bench yet it only won them one playoff game. Indiana has got depth but couldn’t beat Miami without Chris Bosh! I think this move is a complete game changer!

I still think Miami is the favourite, LA has closed the gap on OKC though I’d still give them the advantage because they are young, they’ve got chemistry, coming off a very good Western Conference playoff run but I’d put LA and Boston as tied for 3rd. Now do you still pursue Dwight Howard? I think yes! You have to go after Dwight Howard. Now I can live with Bynum, Gasol, Metta, Kobe and Nash – I can live with that. But he adds youth and he’s a better defensive player. Bill Simmons was on The Thundering Herd last month – I just wonder if Brooklyn even understands, does the Orlando Magic front office understand that what Brooklyn was offering was a bunch of draft picks late in the 1st round and C+ players. Do they realize that the Lakers could give them Bynum for Dwight Howard?? Bill Simmons talked about that saying “I just don’t think you should be able to get him for the poop poop platter that the Nets were offering.  None of those guys in the trade will ever be an All-Star, the 1st round picks that they would be giving up would be at the bottom of the 1st round. If you’re an Orlando Magic fan, you cannot accept that trade, you just can’t”

I totally agree with Bill – this Brooklyn offer, everyone was falling in love with it! It’s a bunch of C+ players and late 1st round draft picks, there is no Andrew Bynum in there! So does Orlando realize that getting Dwight Howard’s equal, better offensively though not as good defensively, is as good as your going to get! Anytime you trade stars you end up losing, it’s very rare when you can give up Dwight Howard and get a Bynum, which just simply doesn’t happen in the NBA. Normally you give up a star and end up getting like a Caron Butler x4, draft picks late in the 1st round – those have no value, you see everyone in the league give away draft picks, they have no value outside of the top 5.

Drew Sharpe is a very good writer, he writes for the Detroit Free Press and he makes a great point in one of his articles I read recently. He says “you know it’s funny, Lebron James does not merit much sympathy or compassion because he willingly placed a bull’s eye on himself – the whole crowning himself King and all. But the level of animosity directed at him and the Miami Heat for their hubris reeks of hypocrisy by America sports fans” Continues Drew Sharpe “I suppose those same people, who cried that the Miami Heat violated some code of competitiveness by amassing as many good players as possible, they must also hate the original Olympic Dream Team right?” After all, the concept of a “super team” and the swagger brought was born in 92’ in Barcelona. Why do I suspect that some of the strongest Miami Heat bashers remain as some of the strongest supporters of what the Dream Team represented and created?

Never forget that U.S. basketball opted against the long standing conventional approach of taking the nation’s best college players. Why? Because it had grown outdated and less reliable against gradually improving foreign players, U.S.A. basketball needed an alternative for accelerating America’s return to world basketball dominance. The Dream Team was also a great marketing tool, whether you liked it or loathed the concept; you simply could not ignore it. The same is true with Lebron James and the Heat. Had they lost Game 7 against Boston, the NBA season would have officially concluded before the Finals!

Outrage by the Dream Team and Miami! No, we loved that entire swagger! The Dream Team was virtually taunting the other countries, with them pounding there chest regularly. I still contend that sometimes in life, you think you hear something but you hear something else. Like when Lebron James held that press conference talking about championships, it went something like this “…not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, not 7 – and when I say that, I really believe it. We believe that we can win multiple championships if we take care of business and do it the right way”. Did you read that carefully? He said “We believe that we can…if…” that’s not that much hubris. For the record, we all play to the crowd – I try to cater to Ohio State diehards when they have a good game and rip on Michigan. If I talk about Lakers, I’ll bang on the Phoenix Suns and the Utah Jazz. If I talked about Utah, I’d be banging on the Lakers. All Lebron James said was “we believe we can if…”

I may be wrong on this, but I think this is what you all THINK you heard him say “I will rule over the NBA for the next decade, winning every MVP award and championship possible. I am the King and you people are my loyal subjects, bow before Lebron, Jordan and Kobe have nothing on me. I am the greatest player the NBA has ever seen. No more questions, the King exit’s the room” I think that’s what you all thought you heard. Again, he said “I believe it’s possible that we can if we work hard” Come on people, slow down. I can imagine that anyone in the public speaking business, you always try to play to the crowd – that’s just part of the business! How many of you have been public speakers? Less than probably 1% of you, I included. I know someone whose been doing it his entire life, he always talks about playing to the crowd. If he does a remote in Columbus or LA, he plays to the crowd, it’s called knowing your audience. He was telling me that when he goes and does a speech the first thing he asks the person who hired him “who’s the crowd? Are they men or woman? What’s the break down? Cocktail served or not? Is it a clean audience or not?

So when Lebron goes out and says “we believe we can if …” he wasn’t demanding anything, wasn’t guaranteeing anything, he was just playing to the crowd.  It’s what every radio personality in the country does. If you listen to Alabama radio – who do you think they are rooting for? Alabama! Listen to New York sports radio, who do you think they are rooting for? New York teams! Dallas radio? Talking about the Cowboys, Rangers and Stars – they’ll all just playing to their audiences, you better your bread. You know who that celebration was truly for when Lebron and co. came out and did that presser for the fans? It was for Miami Heat Season ticket holders – once they signed Lebron and Bosh, they invited them all in and it was kind of like a butt kissing and all. For the record, 20 years ago if that had happened, you would’ve never seen tape of it. You do something and like 10 minutes later it could be on YouTube, it’s up on the blogs and you perhaps didn’t even intend for it to end up on the blogs.

Apologise for the three week absence – found myself touring all over Spain for two weeks and have been playing catch up for the last week or so before piecing something together, but here we go! So it’s no secret that I have several theories in life – most that I care to share with you on this blog. Before leaving for Spain, I thought about North American sports and when you think about it, the NHL is really the only league in North America with parity. In baseball, Kansas City, Oakland, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Seattle…they simply cannot compete financially, let’s quit that argument right now. In the NBA nobody disputes that you really need a star in order to get to the next level. In the NFL, parity is widely overstated and exaggerated – New England has 5 Superbowls in 11 years, Green Bay, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, New England and the Giants…you know that they are always going to be good.

But the NHL has got ultimate parity, a strong rigid salary cap – 9 different Stanley Cup winners in 9 years, won by often young, dark horse teams. The lower seeded usually sneak in, get momentum and win. What does all this parity get the NHL? A rating on a Monday night  which is a great television night, with nothing else on and I mean nothing else on, you get an invisible league with mostly starless teams and a lower rating that your average college football game on a terrible TV night like a Saturday.

Canada has got parity but the U.S. doesn’t have it as much. But the 20 best hospitals in North America, 19 of them are in the U.S. Of the 20 best universities, all 20 are in the U.S. Parity squishes everything in the middle; it valiantly protects the bottom and handcuffs those at the top – affecting ultimate greatness. Some would call that socialism – is sports really better than for that? Or with that? Really? Is sports really better with everything smushed in the middle? And if you love that in sports – why are you so deathly afraid of socialism in the form of a government? At least I’m consistent in that I believe parity and socialism are both garbage! But parity fan – to me, reeks of socialism fan to me.

To me sports are better with stars, people not only to root for but against – real villains! I don’t want a jungle where every animal is equal, I think Africa is more interesting – the Lion and the Tiger chase the Gazelle every day. Parity guy roots for all Gazelle’s. I love the Lion, by the way, the Lion doesn’t always win, and it sometimes gets killed by a horn or other predators. Even Hyenas have killed Lions! Why should the Yankees have to suffer for being born a Lion? Life isn’t equal, why force unnaturally sports to be. Milwaukee will never be Chicago – don’t like it? Get on a car, train, bus or plane and move!!  But at least with a Lion in the jungle you’ve got a formidable presence to root for or against.

I hear about parity all the time “Andrew, you’re an elitist!” noo, you have the wrong word! I’m a traditionalist. I like the Lakers, I like the Yankees, I like Ohio State football, I like Duke Basketball – they’re just interesting. Sometimes I root for them and sometimes I root against them! But I like villains because life becomes more interesting. Why punish New England for having a better head coach in Belicheck, a better quarterback in Tom Brady and a better receiver in Wes Welker – all of those 3 men were available to the entire league. Belicheck was fired, Brady went late in the draft and Welker was available to all other teams.

You go ahead and support socialism and parity, salute the NHL and the Los Angeles Kings. I enjoyed Oklahoma City vs. Miami for two weeks or so – 2 guys who will probably meet each other in 4 of the next 5 NBA finals. Parity is for people afraid to compete, afraid to move to a better place …and I should congratulate that? No thanks! Go ahead and knock yourself out. Parity stinks, socialism stinks, cramming everything into the middle stinks. Greatness is what I want to watch on my television screen and the culture I want to live in my life. Life has never been even – my parents try to tell me that every single day. If you think it is, you are delusional and it’s a horrible message to ever give a kid. Life’s not fair or even and you don’t deserve squat nor do my future kids, you earn everything!

So I was slightly under the weather yesterday but it’s weird, I started feeling better last night at around 9 or 10 o’clock! I don’t know what it was, but I was just sitting there watching some basketball game and suddenly started feeling like a million bucks!! Cross your fingers America, OKC vs. Miami may still happen.  Most of the time I try to tell my audience on this blog to have some perspective – take the emotion out of it, that certainly won’t be the case Saturday night. I will be rooting for a Miami and OKC finals. It if doesn’t happen, I’ll throw a shoe at my TV and perhaps be back to being sick because I want to see it happen – and not just because Boston fans poured beer on Lebron as he left the court…stay classy Boston. What I saw last night was absolutely unbelievable!!

For a lot of you, and I’m numbered among you, who are like 19-24 yrs old you just see the highlights of Jordan. But you don’t know, unless you’re like 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, and watched every single Jordan playoff game (watched them all during the lockout this season).You forget this about Michael that he was allowed to push the pause button, he could take 3 or 4 minutes off – oh he was for sure the best player on the floor. But Scottie Pippen didn’t disappear for a series! Even before Pippen, in that game at Boston when MJ had 63 points, Charles Oakley dominated the glass and had a double double; Woolridge was all over the glass averaging 24 pts and 9 rebounds. You could depend on Michael to score and to be Michael – because he could re-energize and hit the pause button. He could also Re-amp up later after a quick break – in fact, you always noticed with MJ that he’d get those little beads of sweat on his head about twice a game when he was really shifting gears during a game.

But last night Lebron didn’t get that, Lebron wasn’t allowed to take a breather because the rest of his teammates were absolutely embarrassing! Michael was never asked to dominate the glass – in his 63 pointer against Boston, he had only 5 rebounds, the rest of his team had 45 rebounds. Last night, Lebron had almost every third rebound for Miami and he brought the ball up…and he pushed teammates away, so that he could defend their big. Do you understand what we all saw last night?? Michael was asked to score, Lebron was asked to do everything for 3 quarters. I would be humiliated today if I was a member of the Heat and not named Lebron. I’ve never seen anything like that – there was a jaw dropping stat in that game last night. Lebron made 15 unassisted field goals last night – a career high, he scored 20 points just in isolation. Do you realize what Lebron was telling his teammates? “Guys, I’m tired of it – I’ll just take over! I won’t even pass it and expect a pass back. I’ll just take the ball up the court, will never pass it and just try to score” that’s not a compliment!

Some of you are saying “ohh but Andrew, D-Wade had a couple of big shots…” do you know what D-Wade did? He is your buddy or the guy you think is your buddy who shows up and says “heyy, I heard you were moving today, I was coming to help you” yet 90% of the boxes are already packed. “ohh, woo we killed it then! Where’s the beer and pizza? We killed it!” No, we didn’t kill it. Thanks D-Wade for dropping a couple of shots when the game was already decided because Lebron had to do everything. Erik Spoelstra, Miami head coach – and this says it all right here. He has so little trust in anybody except Lebron with KG and Pierce already on the bench; that he wouldn’t pull Lebron out of the game until there was only 3:50 left in the game…pathetic!! He didn’t even trust Bosh or Wade with 4 ½ minutes left, leading by 20 pts with KG and Pierce out of the game…unbelievable!

Sometimes the media is all over the place with this stuff. Two nights ago “Lebron is joyless!” then last night “I love that intensity look” folks make up your minds! I don’t even know what ‘clutch’ means anymore but all I know is that KG didn’t play well, Pierce wasn’t there, Wade was milk carton bad “where did he go? He disappeared!” and Lebron was on every play for Miami. Absolutely, 100% responsible for everything, this is what Lebron said after – in one of the greatest games I’ve ever seen in my life from any player in any sport! “I will continue to be aggressive, continue to play at a high level like I have done for the entire postseason. I’m going to try to go out there and play my game, play as hard as I can and I don’t really care what the stats say and don’t want to regret Game 7 if I gave it my all” Yeah you shouldn’t Lebron because you’ve been remarkable!!Against the Celtics, you have to go back to Kareem Abul-Jabbar – the last time somebody in the first 6 games averaged over 25 pts against them, it’s just incredible!

Now, I’m not saying that he’s MJ because he’s not! But MJ, I have re-watched every playoff game MJ played in, even the ones Pippen wasn’t there. Jordan would get these beads of sweat twice a game – Michael was not only a great player, he knew when to be a great player but he could also push the pause button, he got time off and breaks. After watching all his playoff games on tape and his career in the late 90’s, two things that jump out at me about his career are that 1) early in his career, he had to learn how to shoot a jumper because he went to the rack way to much – just took a beating. 2) Michael was very good at picking his spots! But he had other guys – like last night was pathetic! If I’m Lebron James, I feel like I’m playing for the Miami Cavaliers! Seriously!!  Only difference? I’ve got better weather and an ocean view. Was Lebron intense or was Lebron angry? Here was Erik Spoelstra on Lebron’s performance last night, saying the right thing but not necessarily meaning it “Nobody likes getting dirt thrown in their face before you’re not even dead, but he showed great resolve a day before you get to this point and you could see it leading up to that . But he was fearless in the game and everybody followed from there…” no they didn’t!! That’s the problem. Nobody followed from there.

You can’t show up to help your buddy move when 90% of the boxes are packed and say “woo, we really killed it” noo, Lebron killed it you, his personal valet, parked the car for him. Unbelievable! For the record, Miami is an 8 point favourite over the Celtics for Saturday night – which I think is absurd!! Listen, I know banks are going out of business by the week, take this one to the bank, take Boston at +8. You have got to be kidding me! What the heck is going on in Las Vegas?? I get 8 points? whatever casino made that line will be out of business by Monday. That line was brought to you by the rookie gambling association of Las Vegas haha. Come on!!! Game 7, it’s the Big 3’s last game together and you’ve got Miami at 8 points? I mean, the one thing we know about this series is that outside Game 1, you can’t predict anything! If you think Lebron is going to play again at 73% shooting and Paul Pierce is going to be that bad again…your nuts!! We are going to have an unbelievable Game 7 on Saturday! It’s going to be one for the ages! Still get it why Boston fans would pour beer over Lebron. If I was Spoelstra, I would take that tape, play it in the locker room and at practice and show it over and over and over and over again.