The Dallas Cowboys entered the 2010 season with incredibly high expectations. After years of being tagged as the most talented team to never win a playoff game, Wade Phillips lead his team to its first playoff win in a decade. With an owner like Jerry Jones, who just built a $1B+ stadium and the SuperBowl being played there this year, the Cowboys placed as many expectations on themselves as any team probably ever.
This season, however has been nothing but a nightmare for Jerry Jones, Wade Phillips, and the Cowboys. After a 1-5 start, they’ve also lost their star QB, Tony Romo to a potentially season ending injury. But certainly the Cowboys would bounce back with a Halloween day victory over the struggling Jaguars. They should just be able to roll them over on talent alone, regardless of who is under center, right?
Well the nightmare season for the Cowboys may have just gotten worse. As I write this, the Cowboys are being destroyed at home by the Jaguars, 28-3. Many have been calling for Wade Phillips’ head for weeks, if not years, and while I have been unwilling to place all of the blame on him, I would have a hard time arguing that he should keep his job any longer. First let me say that Jerry Jones has no one to blame for this season except for Jerry Jones. He made the team basically a traveling circus in training camp, going from city to city. He insisted on bringing in a SOFT coach that he could completely control after a power struggle with the great Bill Parcells. So by no means do I feel the least bit sorry for Jerry. Not to mention, he’s a FRIGGIN BILLIONAIRE!!!
Many have speculated that the pending labor issues have saved Wade’s job to this point as no NFL wants to be paying 2 coaches while there may not even be football next year. I don’t think that’s the case at. At least not with Jerry. He is the George Steinbrenner of football and if there wasn’t a salary cap, he would run the team exactly like the Yankees. Money is absolutely no object to him as long as he has a winning team that is also compelling, dramatic, and entertaining. I’m not sure exactly why Jerry hasn’t pulled the trigger on Wade to this point other than he truly is one of the most “hands on” owners in NFL history. He is involved in the travel itinerary, roster moves, draft choices, game planning, anything you can think of. I think he is a great owner, but honestly I think this type of thing is working against his team. My personal feeling is that they would be far better off if he could somehow put his ego aside and let a football icon like he had in Parcells or Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden take complete control of the team. Now, this will never happen, but it’s honestly the best thing for him and his team.
With such high expectations on the team this season though, Jerry is just not going to take this complete and total failure lying down. Someone, and maybe multiple people are going to lose their jobs. At this point, at 1-6 and without your starting QB and a brutal schedule for the rest of the way out, why not as LeBron James would say “clear the decks and start over”? Especially when Jerry has been paying Jason Garrett the highest salary of any NFL coordinator for years so he could lock him up as the “Coach in Waiting”. Jerry may have changed his mind on annointing Garrett as the next head coach with all the high profile coaches sitting out there, but I honestly can’t see any harm in cutting ties with Wade Phillips before the team leaves the stadium and seeing what Garrett can do for the rest of the year. If he stinks, then go after a Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden. If he turns the team around with everything stacked against them, then you have a decision to make, but it’s a better problem to have than the one he has right now.
No one knows what Jerry Jones will do. But I promise you that Wade Phillips is sweating like a whore in church as he waddles back and forth on the sideline just waiting for this game to end before Jerry comes down and fires him on the spot.
LeBron James’ most recent target, Daniel “Boobie” Gibson
LeBron James spent 7 incredible years in Cleveland, but never ONCE attempted to recruit another player to the team. It’s confirmed that when other free agents, like Shaquille O’Neal were acquired by the Cavs, LeBron not only didn’t participate, but he didn’t even pick up the phone to contact Shaq after the deal was in place. But since his defection to the Miami Heat, LeBron has been quite the recruiter. He was key in bringing fan favorite Zydrunas Ilgauskas, good friend Mike Miller, and he even talked heavily with and picked Derek Fisher up from the airport in an attempt to sign the veteran PG. LeBron also unsuccessfully tried to steal away current Cavalier and close friend, Jawad Williams. This is just another example of why Cleveland fans feel so jilted as LeBron literally recruited more players in a week in Miami than he did in 7 full years with the Cavaliers.
But since the acquisition of the BIG THREE in Miami, the team has been struggling to fill in the surrounding pieces. The team undoubtedly lacks depth and has some glaring deficiencies aside from their 3 stars (and even including Bosh). One of the key positions that they have been looking to fill is that of a point guard to alleviate some of the pressure off of LeBron James. Quite honestly I think Pat Riley sees some of the bad habits LeBron has when he dominates the ball and wants to minimize any potential issues down the road with trying to curtail this. Pat Riley is a very smart guy….
After LeBron left this summer, Daniel “Boobie” Gibson has been one of the fan favorites, especially after his letter to Cavs fans thanking them for their loyalty and for making him feel like he’s at home (http://bit.ly/9iK0PS). Unfortunately for Cavs fans, LeBron James isn’t quite done twisting the knife. Reports came out last night during the Cavs game that Boobie Gibson is being targeted by the Miami Heat for a trade to fill their lack of depth and talent at the PG position. Keep in mind, that LeBron James LOVED Boobie Gibson during his time in Cleveland and they have always been very close.
I don’t think Dan Gilbert would deal a current key player to Miami in an effort to help their championship run. I really don’t. But I also didn’t think that Gilbert would trade sign & trade LeBron James, allowing him to get his max contract. Granted, it was the correct basketball decision as it allowed the team to get something back for LeBron, but I really didn’t think he would do it. So, while I don’t think we need to worry about losing Boobie to the Heat, you never really know. If they offer enough draft picks (they don’t have any players to offer), it might be enough to sway Gilbert. Boobie appears to be flourishing in the new system and he genuinely seems like he cares about the team, the city and the fans, so I HOPE that we get a chance to see what he can do for Byron Scott.
But if we have learned anything from the events of this summer, it’s that we can NEVER underestimate the ability of LeBron James to inflict maximum damage on the Cleveland fan base.
Anderson Varejao fights Tyreke Evans for a rebound
Attending my first Cleveland Cavaliers game for the Cleveland Leader, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I picked up my media pass, walked down to the lower level and navigated through the locker room area. I walked past several players dribbling in the hallway who all seemed very loose and in great spirits. I write this as I sit waiting for Head Coach Byron Scott’s pre-game interview and listen to the other sportswriters (who actually do this for a living and know what they’re doing!). Of note, when checking out my seating, I saw that Jim Gray is announcing the game tonight. Shocking that he had the stones to show his face in Cleveland after his role in the now infamous DECISION.
This is obviously going to be a very different season than what Cavs fans are accustomed to experiencing and honestly I think the first two games are a microcosm of what the entire season will entail. There is no doubt that Byron Scott has an entirely new philosophy and style and he is just about the best possible choice for the Cavs after the departure of Mike Brown. In the home opener against the defending Eastern Conference Champion Boston Celtics, the Cavs new system and team basketball were in full display. There was great ball movement and offensive production, they played intelligent, intense, and played as a team for the first time in quite a long time.
Unfortunately, in their next game at Toronto, the Cavs played almost the exact opposite as they did the night before. The ball did not move offensively, they committed 19 turnovers, and were taken advantage of on the boards and in the paint. Obviously, there are going to be some deficiencies on the team and interior play is one of the glaring problems for the team. There is no doubt the Cavaliers are less talented than in years past and Byron Scott will need to adjust for, and counter some of these deficiencies with intensity, intelligence, and effort and that often times still won’t be enough. Coach Byron Scott echoed these thoughts in his pre-game interview tonight citing an overall lack of energy and effort against Toronto and saying that “the team didn’t really get involved until well into the 2nd half”. Coach emphasized that if the team doesn’t execute on offense, doesn’t run, doesn’t play with energy and turns the ball over 19 times, they will have a long night.
Coach Scott mentioned that it will be great to have Andy back tonight as a lack of energy was one of the main problems in the game against Toronto. Questioned about Ramon Sessions’ poor shooting night, Coach emphasized his importance to the team as he is the leader and initiator of the offense at this point and he is “the head of the snake”. Mo Williams will miss his 3rd game of the season and Byron Scott spoke about Mo’s importance to the team long-term and they are being very patient with him to make sure he’s ready to go for both the benefit of the team and for Mo.
As the crowd started to fill the arena and we got closer to tip off, there was just something very different about the Q. This was my first game post-LeBron and there were many things that were exactly the same. There was still a buzz in the air, there was still a great deal of excitement, the players were still goofing around laughing before the game started….There was just something missing… Obviously it’s going to take some time for the fans and the team to adjust without the ENTITLED ONE, and even though he’s public enemy #1, he’s still missed.
Heading into the game, I was curious to see how the team would react and bounce back from a blowout loss. I was also curious to see how they would handle the first back to back of the young season. They answered incredibly well to start the game as they were driving and penetrating with ease, pushing the fastbreak at every opportunity, and working hard on the glass. From the start of the game, however, it was clear that no matter how much effort, the Cavs are just missing an inside presence and they were struggling to get any kind of stops. They opened up a 16 point lead however throughout the first half and looked to have control over the game.
I was also curious to see if Antawn Jamison would improve after a very slow start as he adjusts to his new role coming off the bench. He lead the team in points last night against Toronto with a mere 13 points but shot the ball well from beyond the arc (3-5). It has been my belief that Antawn isn’t happy with his situation in Cleveland as he was expecting to be on a title contender and certainly thought he’d be starting. To me, he doesn’t look like he wants to be here at all. He looks disinterested & like he’s just biding his time. He may fit very well with Byron Scott’s Princeton offense, but the reality is, he just isn’t a great fit for the uptempo, fastbreak emphasis that Byron Scott is employing. I’ll be surprised if he’s a Cavalier at the end of the year.
It certainly appears that J.J. Hickson will be team’s go to scorer and I’m curious to see if he can repeat strong play on a nightly basis and become the reliable double-double player that the Cavs need him to be. He had another solid night, but he wasn’t spectacular as the offense struggled for the most part in the half court and he struggled from the floor. Hickson finished with 15 points and only 5 rebounds on 4-11 shooting. Boobie also played well chipping in 20 points and he seems to be flourishing in the new system.
Ramon Sessions, one of the lone bright spots for the Cavs, bounced back from a rough game against Toronto with 21 points (9-13 FG) and played a very good all around game. He was able to effectively push the ball constantly in transition, get to the rim seemingly at ease, and did a solid job facilitating the offense. The trouble for the Cavs at this point, is they really only have a couple players who can consistently win a one on one matchup in the half court. At this point, I would consider Hickson & Sessions the only viable one on one options when they’re trying to attack a defense that is set up in the half court. When they’re not able to beat the transition defense, they seem to struggle.
Defensively, the Cavs were horrendous as they were unable to stop the Kings for most of the game. While they ran out to a 16 point lead in the first half, all of that lead was given back in what felt like just a few minutes in the 3rd quarter. The Kings were able to get to the rim at ease and were knocking down jumper after jumper. The Kings controlled the 2nd half and the Cavs were really fighting to get back into the game from the mid-point of the 3rd quarter on. Tyreke Evans was outstanding for the Kings finishing with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Rookie DeMarcus Cousins also played a solid game with his first NBA double-double scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Casspi and Landry for the Kings seemed to never miss a shot and they chipped in 20 and 17 respectively.
The Cavs certainly didn’t lack energy or effort in this game and it is again, fairly reflective of what the season will bring this year. They are missing a go to option on the offensive end, an inside presence, and they’re still learning to play as a team. They will be consistently inconsistent throughout the year with wild fluctuations as we’ve seen already in the first 3 games. They started out with a great win over Boston, got blown out by Toronto, and then jumped out to a big lead against the Kings and ultimately lost. They will continue to play hard and smart basketball, but you’re not going to know what you’re going to get from them on a nightly basis.
As Halloween is tomorrow, there were many fans dressed up for the occasion and there was one that was PERFECT and worth mentioning. One Cavs fan wore a LeBron James jersey and had a big knife sticking in his back which is just a perfect reflection of how most, if not all, Cavs fans feel post DECISION.
Former Viking, Raider, Patriot and now Viking… Randy Moss
With all the attention placed on Brett Favre’s injury, streak and potential benching by Coach Brad Childress, I have heard NO MENTION of Randy Moss’ homecoming to New England this Sunday. Randy Moss, while closer to the end of his career than to his prime, is still an incredible WR and is one of the most prolific WR’s in NFL history. He wore out his welcome in New England earlier this season after ill-timed comments regarding his contract situation and due to less than full effort according to some. For those familiar with Randy though, this is nothing new. While an incredible talent, he has always been somewhat of a loose cannon and he is infamous for “playing when he wants to play” and for leaving the sideline for the locker room years ago before the game was over.
But for those who watch Randy closely, they will also see that his occasional, well usual, loafing on plays that don’t directly involve him are actually part of what makes him so dangerous. Randy has a reputation, obviously, for not giving full (or really much) effort when he knows he’s not getting the ball. This reputation actually works to his advantage in many instances as he will literally lull the defenders to sleep as he comes off the line jogging time and time again. Then BAM!!!! He’ll fly off the line and just DUST the DB like you saw him do against Darrelle Revis earlier in the year that caused Revis to suddenly grab for his hamstring after it had been fine all game. Randy has done this for basically his whole career and what is typically considered a knock on him as a team player, works in his favor and in his team’s favor in most instances.
Randy Moss has literally been the best WR in the NFL since he arrived with the Minnesota Vikings in 1998 accumulating nearly 1,000 receptions for nearly 15,000 yards and 153 TDs. Some will give the nod to Terrell Owens as he has accrued near equally impressive statistics, but for my money, I’d give the nod to Moss. Easily. Moss had an incredible stint with the New England Patriots after many in and around the NFL thought that his best years were behind him after a couple forgettable seasons with the Oakland Raiders. He was widely considered to have lost a step even then and New England was able to steal him for a 4th round pick. Many wondered if Moss had actually lost a step and if he could play the kind of team game that New England demands. The answer was clear and didn’t take long to see the results as Moss, Tom Brady, and the Patriots had a record setting year in 2007.
In his inaugural season with the Patriots, he had 98 receptions for just under 1500 yards and a record setting 23 TDs (keep in mind that Jerry Rice’s record was set with 2 fewer games). As we know the Patriots went 18-0 before losing to the Giants in the SuperBowl, but Moss was a tremendous reason behind the Patriots’ success in 2007. He may have had his best season in the NFL and he had a great run with the Patriots (2003 being the next closest in my opinion). In 3 full seasons (and keep in mind he didn’t have Brady for one full season due to the knee injury in 2008), Moss racked up 250 receptions, 3,765 yards (had at least 1,000 yards in each season) and an amazing 47 TDs (with 11 TDs being his season low during this time).
Moss had one HELL of a run in New England, but obviously he got run out of town when he crossed the MAD GENIUS, Bill Belichik by disrupting the team first mantra. Not to mention, and no one discussed it, but Randy checked out (even more than he usually does) in a way of public protest. It was subtle, and because no one picked up on it nationally it went unseen, but Moss would have periods of the game where he would be himself (i.e. toasting Revis) and then he would disappear. If you look closely, in the Jets game leading up to the drive where he scored against Revis and directly after that drive, Moss was putting forth little effort even on the plays directed to him and when the ball was thrown his way. You can say what you want about Moss only playing when he wants to, but when the ball is in the air and coming his way, he always performs.
If Brett Favre is capable of doing much of anything this Sunday, I honestly believe Randy will be motivated and ready to go against his former team. Randy has ALWAYS shown up big in big games and I expect nothing different this week. As long as Favre throws more balls to Moss than he throws to the Patriots defense (and that’s no guarantee), Moss will show up big and be trying to stick it to THE HOODY. He’ll do everything he can to get back at the team that traded him away and disrespected him (at least in his mind) by not resigning him to a long-term deal.
Dwyayne Wade and the Heat Roll vs. the Magic
The NBA was a bit up ended when the Miami Heat lost to the Boston Celtics and then the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Celtics the very next night. Boston dominated the game against the Heat and the Cavaliers won a hard fought game against Boston. That isn’t how things were supposed to go this year. Obviously there were some contributing factors that caused this anomaly, but for a couple nights, things were… well… strange.
Boston opened up at home against the NBA’s bad guys who essentially named themselves champions for the next 8 NBA seasons. The Celtics were clearly motivated, intense, and they’re a VERY good team so it shouldn’t be a surprise that they beat the Heat. What was surprising though, was just how bad the Heat looked against the Celtics. Even though the Celtics made LeBron James look average at best last year in the playoffs, no one thought the entire team would’ve looked so bad with all the new talent. And while I have theories on why the Heat looked so bad against the Celtics and so good the next couple games (especially against Orlando), we’ll get into that later.
But the next night, regardless of the fact that it was on the 2nd night of a back to back for an old team, the Cavaliers beating the Celtics was certainly a surprise. Even the most optimistic Cavs fan wouldn’t have predicted a victory against the defending Eastern Conference champs. The Cavs, despite some glaring deficiencies, played great team basketball, played with a lot of energy and intensity, and knocked off the Celtics in a shocking opening victory. This isn’t exactly how the NBA envisioned the start of the 2010-2011 season.
But last night, order seemed to be restored in the NBA as the Miami Heat got back on track in a blowout win over the Orlando Magic and the Cavaliers struggled mightily against the Toronto Raptors. The Heat, quite honestly, looked impressive on both sides of the court. While the commentators on the game will lead you to believe that they exhibited a 2000 Baltimore Ravens defense, and while they were very good, they weren’t quite THAT good. Look, the Heat did what they were supposed to do. They looked great and destroyed a very good Orlando team. But don’t crown them champions just yet as there were some nuances to the game that TNT, NBA TV, and ESPN won’t show you.
Quickly, I’ll point out yet again, that offensively the Heat can only be successful when LeBron James plays truly as a point-forward and a facilitator and not in the manner in which he played in their opener against the Celtics. The commentators would again lead you to believe that against the Celtics he was facilitating the offense. Dominating the basketball and dribbling down the shot clock with ZERO offensive movement or scheme is not the same as facilitating. But as we saw in the next two games, he truly was a facilitator and if he can continue this type of play, they really will be dominant. If you watched the games, you’ll see that while LeBron had 31 points in the first game, the offense was stagnant due to the the selfish and stupid style of play. But in their two wins, LeBron’s point production dropped, Dwyayne Wade’s went up and the Heat looked much much better. LeBron shot 6 of 13 with only 15 points but he did a much better job of truly facilitating offense which allowed Wade to dominate the game offensively. They are clearly a much better team offensively when they play this way opposed to LeBron dominating the ball, getting his 30+ points but adding 10 turnovers.
Defensively, they are obviously very long on the perimeter, very athletic, and if they exhibit the type of energy, effort and intensity that was displayed last night, they will be a very good defense. There is a significant weakness though in the middle of the defense as they lack any true size, strength, or defensive presence. Chris Bosh is one of the softest players in the NBA and they don’t have a legit NBA center. If not for foul trouble, Dwight Howard should have been able to dominate last night and his absence significantly affected the outcome of the game as it usually does. While the Magic shot horribly from the field (30% overall and 16% from 3 point range). Some will say that the stifling Miami defense caused the poor shooting and in some instances it did. But there were just as many sequences, if not more, when the typically great perimeter shooting Magic missed wide open shot after wide open shot.
All told, the Heat did look very good, but they are still going to have trouble with Orlando down the road in my opinion. It was almost the perfect storm against the Magic as Howard started the game playing very well and then got into foul trouble. Not only did this eliminate one of their huge offensive strengths in the post, but it removed the best defensive player and rebounder in the NBA allowing the Heat to get to the rim at will in the second half. Add to that one of the worst shooting nights I’ve ever seen from Orlando and you get a blowout victory by the Heat. I saw the Orlando sharpshooters miss more open shots in this game than they missed in most playoff series. The Heat will be very good, but they’re still a long way away from being as good as they or ESPN thinks they are.
The Cavaliers on the other hand, looked like the team that many national experts thought they would be this year. They went on the road against an average at best Toronto Raptors team and got ran out of the gym. The Cavs shot 38% from the field, were dominated on the glass, and had 19 turnovers as a team. The Cavs looked awful offensively with Antawn Jamison leading the way with 13 points and they were overmatched on defense, putting the Raptors on the line far too often. The Cavaliers kept the game close for the first half and then fell apart in the second half ultimately losing by 20.
The Cavs don’t yet have an established go to guy as they relied on a total team effort against the Celtics and they have significant deficiencies on defense. The Cavs lack a legit Center and presence in the middle and it showed. While the team will play hard and play smart and they’ll improve as the year goes on, they are certainly not good enough to overcome 19 turnovers and 40% FG shooting as a team. I predicted the Cavs to be right around .500 this year and if this is close to accurate, you’ll see similar games like this from them throughout the year. They’ll be fairly inconsistent in beating some teams they shouldn’t be able to beat and then losing to some team that they should be able to compete with.
It’ll be a process, albeit a far different one, for both the Cavs and the Heat this year as they continue to try to improve and move on in their new eras. But at least for now, the NBA has it’s league back to normal and order and balance is restored.
LeBron James as a Vampire
LeBron James is apparently in the Halloween spirit as he’s wearing a mouthguard with fangs against the Orlando Magic tonight. While many people now consider him to be a villain after THE DECISION this summer, a vampire is a bit of a stretch! I’m sure ESPN & Sportscenter will pick this up and run with it, but I actually thought it was pretty amusing. LeBron is obviously doing it to get attention, which he thrives on, but I think it looks pretty cool. And this is coming from one of the biggest LeBron critics on the planet!
When I first saw it, I honestly thought that I was just seeing things or it was just a weird looking mouthpiece. But as the game went on and we saw more and more close ups of LeBron, he clearly has FANGS on for Halloween! After the NBA banned upside down headbands and continues to ban more and more things, I wonder if David Stern will issue a memo on this type of mouthguards being banned next week!
Who knows… maybe he’ll come out after halftime sparkling and chasing werewolves!
Oklahoma St. Star WR, Justin Blackmon
After watching former Oklahoma St. WR get into significant trouble with the NCAA and ultimately being suspended for his final season with the school significantly damaging his draft status, you would THINK that current Oklahoma St. star WR Justin Blackmon would’ve taken a few notes…. Well apparently not! Blackmon has been tremendous on the field this year for the Cowboys, but he may have just set the Guiness World Record for stupidity.
Blackmon leads the nation in receiving yards, touchdowns, and scoring and is absolutely lighting up opposing defenses. He honestly looks every bit as good as Dez Bryant who is currently playing on Sundays. But after seeing the trouble Dez Bryant was in with the NCAA last year and after watching NFL player Braylon Edwards get into hot water with a DUI earlier this season, Blackmon was arrested for a DUI after being clocked going 92 MPH in a 60 MPH zone in Dallas at 3:45 AM. Not only was he dumb enough to drink and drive, but he clearly wasn’t concerned with trying to conceal it either driving nearly 100 MPH! Oh, and to top it off, he was using a fake ID that night (not that we all haven’t done that…)
I mean seriously!!! WTF is wrong with these Oklahoma St. WR’s? Not only are you going to be drinking when you’re not supposed to be, you’re out at 3:45 AM during the week, and you go 30 MPH over the limit just ASKING to get pulled over! Look, I’m not at all trying to criticize a college kid for having a good time and throwing back a few beverages. But there is NO way that a player should be out like that during the week, driving, and driving recklessly.
To add yet another layer to the stupidity, when pulled over Blackmon told the officer that he was returning from the Cowboys Monday Night game at their new billion dollar stadium. Now, keep in mind that tickets to the new stadium for a Monday Night Football game are not cheap. So obviously the question must be asked…. how and where did he get the tickets from? Did a family member buy them for him? Did he save up for them? Were they given to him by an agent, a player, or the Cowboys?
Oklahoma St. is saying that the tickets were provided to him by a father of a former Oklahoma St. player and they’re confident that no NCAA violations took place. I’m not sure, but that doesn’t seem completely above board. If this person was considered by the NCAA to be a “Booster”, this would no doubt be a violation. So what is the real difference between that scenario and someone else who is associated with the program providing benefits to a current NCAA player? Obviously a NCAA investigation will take place and if any violations took place we’ll find out. But Blackmon will serve a one game suspension for his DUI and will likely continue to light up the opposition.
I just can’t wrap my mind around how Oklahoma St. WR’s continue to break new ground in the area of stupidity… I mean, are they focusing their recruiting efforts on some JUCO school for the challenged? Seriously, Justin Blackmon!? Seriously!? Someone teach these morons how to get through college and to the NFL and THEN they can F*CK up all they want…..
Miami’s Big 3
This summer, LeBron James was faced with one the biggest decisions of his life. He had to weigh the option of playing with his good friends and fellow superstar players in a high profile city against his hometown, the only franchise he’d ever known, and complete control over the organization. Obviously, LeBron opted for the former and he has taken tremendous criticism both for the decision as well as the way he behaved leading up to and including the decision. Dwayne Wade also had an important decision to make as he weighed the option of playing in his hometown of Chicago against staying in Miami and potentially being stuck with a team that isn’t competitive. Everyone forgets, but it was Wade who had been applying pressure for years for Pat Riley to bring in more help so the team would contend for a title. It was Wade who flirted HEAVILY with Chicago and even invoked his custody battle as a key factor for him. But obviously he decided to stay in Miami and obviously he was active in the recruitment of both Chris Bosh and LeBron James (although Bosh is an afterthought and he’s the luckiest person in the NBA given his talent, contract and the team he gets to play with).
The old saying of “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side” just might ring true for LeBron James AND Dwayne Wade.
Off the court, there are a few things that THE ENTITLED ONE is reportedly very unhappy about (http://bit.ly/9DsciX), but for this post I’ll stick to things related only to basketball. As I and others have written earlier this week, the debut of the Miami Heat against the Boston Celtics was… well… pathetic. We saw some of the same things that the Cavaliers were criticized in years past rear their ugly heads for the team that is supposed to have the best trio in the game. LeBron got his 31 points, but he dominated the basketball, destroyed any offensive rhythm or continuity, and forced the ball into traffic resulting in 8 turnovers (he would have 9 turnovers in their 2nd game). While LeBron was pounding the basketball and dribbling down the shot clock, the other 4 players on the floor stood at a standstill waiting to get a spot and shoot look. Obviously, for two other superstars who are used to handling the ball the majority of the time, this is not the ideal strategy to best utilize their talents, and it showed. Bosh and Wade were horrendous in the game against the Celtics and many attributed it to Wade missing most of the pre-season and the team trying to learn how to play together.
BS!!! When you predict that you’ll win 8 titles in a row and you could literally run your 70+ year old President, Pat Riley out to run the point, there is NO excuse for what we saw. The bottomline is that LeBron selfishly dominated the basketball and refused to run ANY kind of offensive system. In instances where he didn’t initiate the “offense”, and I’ll use that term very lightly, he just stood on the wing. No movement, no set offensives, nothing. They will learn to do better and I think the team will be very successful. But one thing is for sure, what we saw against the Celtics can’t continue if they want to get where they plan to get.
The next game against Philly brought an entirely different dynamic to the table. I don’t care what they say publicly, Dwyayne Wade is an NBA superstar and already has one title under his belt. Miami has been his team and his City for the past 7 years and he orchestrated the recruitment of Lebron and Bosh. You’re out of your mind, if you think for one minute that Wade would allow LeBron to dominate the ball and the game like he did against Boston. He or anyone else certainly wouldn’t just come out and tell LeBron that his style of play against Boston wasn’t acceptable, but he took back control of the offense against Philly. Some will say that they will rotate which games each player will decide to dominate and we’ll see, that could be true. But bottom line, LeBron scored 31 and the Heat lost (and should’ve lost by more than they did) and Wade scored 30 points and the Heat won. Granted, the games were against different opponents and Boston is much better than Philly. But if the Heat want to win this year, they’ll need to avoid the LeBron style of play that he implemented in Cleveland for all these years and that he repeated VERBATIM against Boston.
LeBron will not be happy with ANY kind of adjustment to his style of play and we know Wade isn’t going to stand for too many repeats of the Celtics game. So it will be very interesting to see, and I’ll be watching very closely as these two continue to vie for power and dominance of the team. Many wondered how “Alpha Dogs”, which I again use very lightly, would co-exist with each other and the two insisted that they’re close friends and both very unselfish. I’m not sure if they’ve met one another yet, but they are anything but unselfish. Who knows, LeBron may adjust to a far different role than he’s built his brand on thus far, but from what I’ve seen from the young man, it’s doubtful. If he doesn’t, there will be a continual power struggle in Miami for the foreseeable future.
Brett Favre, Battered, Beaten, Broken
Reports are coming out of Minnesota this morning that Head Coach of the Minnesota Vikings, Brad Childress is leaning toward benching Brett Favre for this Sunday’s game and essentially ending his precious games started streak by a coaches decision. For anyone who has paid even a little attention to the Vikings for the past two years, you will recognize that Brett Favre and Brad Childress (Chilly) haven’t quite seen eye to eye.
Brad Childress TRIED to bench Brett Favre last year in a game against the Carolina Panthers and he basically rebuffed and given a big F*CK YOU from Lord Favre. Then, last week after yet another loss and another 3 INT performance by Favre, Childress openly criticized his QB for throwing too many interceptions and basically saying that Favre needed to play better. Favre, who honestly sees himself as still the best QB in the league and above reproach, again gave Chilly the middle finger by saying “I’m the QB of this team and I know what the expectations are for me and I don’t need Brad or anyone else to tell me that”.
Many questioned whether Chilly would have the stones to actually bench Favre and end the streak which clearly means so much to him. And if you look at the story coming out of Minnesota today, on the surface, you would think that this is leaked from Chilly to gauge reaction to his potential benching of Favre. But not quite. If you look at the details of the story, you’ll see that it originated out of Favre’s camp as he supposedly confided in a friend and said that he didn’t think Chilly was going to let him start this week. Favre is the master of leaking stuff to the media and watching everyone run around like crazy. The benefits of this are both brilliant and sickening.
First, Favre is placing ALL of the pressure onto Chilly and in a very public manner. Favre KNOWS that there is NO CHANCE that Chilly will bench him, especially after the hype that this is going to get today, Saturday, and Sunday. At this point, the season is basically lost. They could make a run and get competitive but the magic from last year is gone. Favre knows that. Everyone in the locker room knows that. So for Favre, the ONLY thing he has left is the streak, and the media hype. Which mind you, he LIVES FOR.
Favre for years has played the media to grow his legend and his legacy. He is quoted this week saying that “he has a knack for healing” and “has played with a lot of injuries that most guys wouldn’t even attempt to play with”. First of all, his “knack for healing quickly” cracks me up. Does he think he’s Dwight K. Schrute? Does he think he can raise and lower his blood pressure at will because he has superior Schrute genes? The reality is, yes Fare has played for a remarkable number of consecutive games. But don’t think for one second that he hasn’t leaked DOZENS of injuries to the media to increase his tough guy image and his legacy. HUNDREDS of NFL players play every week with injuries that are equal to or greater than Favre has played with for years and NO ONE ELSE runs to the media to let them know that they’re hurt and/or what treatment they’re getting.
This type of behavior, again, is both brilliant and disgusting. For the most part, NO ONE has been able to see through this game for 18 years, so it has worked. It also both increases his legend and legacy while simultaneously laying out the groundwork for an excuse if things don’t go as planned. Now this certainly wasn’t the case early on in Favre’s career, but for the last 5 years or so it is 100% true. EVERY year he comes into the season complaining about some injury that other guys just play through. Hell, when it’s not going well for him, he complains of these injuries every week! Don’t you think it’s funny how last year when he was playing great, and the Vikings were winning, we heard NOTHING of any types of injuries? It was ONLY when he got beat around by the Saints that the ankle problem was leaked.
But again, it has sadly worked. Each year, each week, the media panders to him and he plays it up more and more. And now he’s using the media to apply pressure on the coach that he, at a minimum, disrespects, if not despises. Don’t be fooled by ANY reports coming out of Minnesota, or any BS features ESPN runs from now until kickoff. Favre will play on Sunday. He knows it, Chilly knows it, and you should know it too.