LeBron James caused a lot of commotion over his recent tweet comparing basketball to war. In case you missed it, and for general context, here is the tweet:
While LeBron isn’t the first and unfortunately won’t be the last to compare a game to war, it’s no less troubling. LeBron continually makes uninformed, ignorant, and ill-advised comments to the media and especially on his twitter account and it’s amazing that he has no one in his life to act as a filter.
These comments on his twitter account aren’t the first insight to LeBron’s belief and/or comparison of basketball to war and teammates to “soldiers”. Just take a look at his pre-game routine, beyond the chalk toss, and to his handshakes followed by a salute. Each and every game. Where else is a salute appropriately used, except in military. Hell, just take a look at this ad campaign by Nike and it’s no wonder that he is so diluted, misinformed, and has no true barometer to reality. “Prepare for COMBAT“, huh?
Say what you want about LeBron, but I can understand why he does some of the things he does. It’s no less his fault or responsibility, but it really is sad that he’s surrounded himself by the people he has (that includes personal and business relationships). It’s crystal clear that they care more about their status, profitability, and ability to remain relevant than with what is best for LeBron. Unfortunately for him, he is so sheltered and blinded by his own fame and “greatness” and “royalty” that he can’t even stop for a second to see that his and his advisors’ decisions are hurting him.
But enough about LeBron… Joseph Schwerdt of the Sun Sentinel wrote the open letter to LeBron (and no it wasn’t in Comic Sans). Schwerdt is a father of two marines and has rare insight into what “war” really is and into what it really means to be a “soldier”.
Schwerdt doesn’t take an adversarial tact in the letter, rather an educational one. It’s clear, again, that LeBron hasn’t lead a normal life. There is no doubt that he lacks a strong personality in his life to tell him “no” or to be the voice of reason. In the open letter, Schwerdt says the following:
“Dear LeBron, just wanted to let you know: You are not at war. You are not a soldier. You can tweet all you want. But what you do and who you are is not even close to what they do and who they are.”
“You are probably a nice guy. And you are not the first athlete to compare sports to war; athletes to warriors; games to battle. I don’t mean to single you out. But it is time to stop those comparisons.”
You may recall Kellen Winslow Jr. making similar claims during his time with the University of Miami. Winslow was then drafted by the Cleveland Browns and he and LeBron played in Cleveland during the same period of time. I don’t believe they were friends or anything approaching that, but you would think LeBron may have noticed and taken note of the backlash surrounding Winslow’s comments at the time.
Schwerdt goes on to say:
“War. Games. Not even close.”
“We are at war. Remember? People die in wars. They rarely die playing the games you play. If they do, it is not because they are attacked or shot at or booby trapped by an enemy. People lose limbs in war. Their bodies are torn apart by IEDs. Their legs and arms are ripped through by bullets and rockets.”
“You play in arenas in front of adoring fans. You don’t walk streets in villages not knowing who the enemy is or what might be lurking on a roadside, around a corner, behind a door.”
Obviously everything stated in the open letter is true, but I’m not sure it will do any good. Following LeBron’s comments last week, I heard countless TV and radio personalities defending James and his comments. Blaming it on the culture of sports and common comparisons between war and soldiers to sports and players by coaches. I don’t buy it. To me, it’s just another example of constant coddling by “LeBron apologists”.
It seems as if nearly everyone has their hands out to this kid in one form or another. Whether it be for money, status, interview access, etc. Everyone is so quick to defend him so as to avoid the possibility of upsetting him should the opportunity arise that he can be of value to them down the road.
Unfortunately, it’s not doing him or anyone else any benefit.
Schwerdt went on to say:
“You chose to take your talents to South Beach. They chose to defend this country. We all make choices. Please choose not to compare yourself to a soldier or Marine. Please choose not to say what you do is war or battle. it simply isn’t.”
The letter by Schwerdt is dead on and provides insight from someone who truly knows what war is about. Unfortunately, it won’t surprise me in the least if it isn’t seen by most of America due to the inherent need to protect and defend LeBron James by major media outlets.
No matter how true and spot on this letter may be, the damage may already be done for LeBron. He has no one to act as a filter for him in his “inside circle” and even his major endorsors reinforce the idea of “War”. I hope that he and other athletes stop using this asinine comparison, but I just don’t know if it’s going to happen.
Much has been made of the trade between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Clippers which sent Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to L.A. in exchange for controversy-laden and Donald Sterling nemesis, Baron Davis. But for the Cavaliers, the crux of the trade surrounded the Clippers unprotected 1st round pick.
In the NBA, teams can trade their draft picks which can be fully unprotected as in this instance, or protected. In the case of a protected pick, teams can determine the terms of the protection so that if the pick ends up being a lottery pick, a top 5 pick or the #1 overall pick, they are able to keep the pick and the team which acquired it in a trade misses out.
The Clippers’ pick that was sent to Cleveland was projected to be the #8 overall pick at the time of the trade but can be no worse than the bottom of the lottery. For the Cavaliers, who will likely possess no worse than the #3 overall pick assuming they remain the worst team in the NBA (seemingly a pretty safe bet), this is an extremely valuable trade in order to speed up the rebuilding process. For a team that is unable to bring in big ticket free agents, having two lottery picks is invaluable to the rebuilding process.
There may be a slight hitch in the savvy trade pulled off by the Cavaliers (and the penny-pinching trade executed by the Clippers), however. Roto World has reported that Lisa Dillman of the L.A. Times has confirmed that Baron Davis failed his outgoing physical with the Clippers and is expected to fail his incoming physical with the Cavaliers due to his “gimpy and swollen right knee.” This also explains the delay in Davis’ reporting to Cleveland.
This news is not expected to hold up the trade, however, as for the Cavaliers, the trade was all about that #1 pick. They won’t say it publicly, but anything Baron Davis does to help the Cavaliers is just a bonus. If he never stepped foot onto the floor at Quicken Loans Arena they would still be thrilled with the trade.
Publicly, head coach Byron Scott (who has had an extremely bumpy relationship with Baron Davis during their days in New Orleans) will tell you that Baron can still be a top-flight point guard and that he expects him to eventually start for the Cavs. This is likely “coach-speak” intended to motivate Davis and get his full effort if and when he arrives. Many fans and local sportswriters question that strategy as young point guard, Ramon Sessions has made significant progress and shows a great deal of potential.
Baron Davis was originally reported to be extremely unhappy with the trade to Cleveland and many questioned his attitude and dedication he would show once he arrived. Davis tweeted during the Cavaliers victory over the Knicks, however, that he was excited to play alongside J.J. Hickson. By all accounts he and Byron Scott have patched up the relationship, but it may be a moot point due to this report.
Technically, if Baron fails his physical the Cavs could ask for additional compensation or even void the trade. It’s possible that they will ask for additional compensation, but even if they are denied I don’t see a scenario in which they will void the trade and forfeit the coveted unprotected 1st round pick.
CBS Sports reports that the Sacramento Kings have filed for and received an extension to consider moving the team to Anaheim. As the Kings continue to struggle and the Maloofs who own the team are experiencing financial difficulties in one of their Las Vegas casinos, rumors have swirled about the possibility of the Kings moving from Sacramento.
Rumors have included Las Vegas but more plausibly, Anaheim. NBA Commissioner David Stern recently acknowledged discussions about a possible relocation and the Kings have requested additional time to consider the move. Despite the issues, the Maloofs have maintained that they will not sell the team but are open to the possibility of relocation.
According to this report, the NBA also wants time to review the potential move to Anaheim as they are “not sold” on Orange County. Some believe that the Maloofs are trying to apply pressure to Sacramento in order to obtain a new arena.
By all accounts, the Maloofs are willing to move the team unless a new arena is provided in Sacramento which will be a tough sell for voters.
I know, I know. The big news last night was Carmelo Anthony‘s debut at Madison Square Garden and he didn’t disappoint. But Knicks fans have something else to be excited about after watching last night’s game. Chauncey Billups, Mr. Big Shot himself, was largely dismissed and discussed as basically a “throw-in” player in the blockbuster deal that sent ‘Melo to the Knicks.
Most consider him an aging player with diminishing skills and while he may not be the player he once was, he can still get it done! For a piece of the trade that was mostly written off as just a throw-in, he has the potential to be a huge part of the Knicks success this year and next. I know, most Knicks fans and male groupies don’t care until Chris Paul comes to the Garden, but Billups is a very solid piece to the puzzle.
There is no doubt that he’s a playoff proven, clutch player and he has tremendous experience playing with ‘Melo from their days in Denver. For a team with 4 new starters, that continuity and leadership cannot be overstated. Even in a drama filled first half in Denver this season he managed to average 16.5 ppg. He was even more impressive last night adding 21 points and 8 assists in the Knicks win over the Bucks.
Is Chauncey Billups the sexy addition that Chris Paul or Deron Williams would be? Of course not. But he’s a much better player, and a better immediate fit, than anyone has given him credit for since the trade. The Knicks, as any team that makes a move like this including the Heat, have huge holes to fill. But Chauncey removes one of those massive holes with a veteran, clutch, and capable point guard to lead the team.
Just ask the Heat how badly they would like to have a point guard with Billups’ skills for their playoff run. The Knicks aren’t going to win an NBA championship this year, but with Billups, they can do some serious damage in the playoffs.
While the NBA All-Star weekend was mostly entertaining, there was a certain dirty feeling associated with the weekend’s events. Especially that of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest which appeared to be more scripted and pre-determined than a cheesy WWE Pay-Per-View event.
Despite pulling off what appeared to most to be superior dunks, Serge Ibaka and DeMar DeRozan were swept under the rug in an effort to put the Golden Boy, Blake Griffin into the finals to allow him the chance to perform an average dunk over a Kia (official sponsor of the NBA mind you).
With Griffin playing in L.A. for the Clippers and the obvious attempt by the NBA to build Griffin into their next mega-star, there was little chance that anyone other than he would walk away victorious. The degree by which the event appeared to be scripted and pre-determined, however, was much more than I expected.
So much so, that Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan said that he is now finished competing in the Slam Dunk Contest unless the props are eliminated, this according to the Washington Post. I personally, have been adamantly against the use of props to aid in the dunk contest as I think it takes away from the true athleticism and creativity of the players. But who am I?
DeRozan, as a current NBA player and past performer (a very good one at that), however should carry a little more weight on the topic. When asked today if he thought he was robbed in the competition he said “I think so. I’m a dunker. Dunk contests, you go out there and dunk. I’m not into all the props and everything. I try to come out with a creative dunk and do it and go from there. My fans liked it and you can see the reaction from a lot of people afterward. If there’s a dunk contest next year I’ll do it. But not no prop dunk contest.”
Now, I wholeheartedly agree with what DeRozan is saying here but it must be pointed out that he is rumored to have planned perhaps the most elaborate and ridiculous ‘prop dunk’ for last weekend’s event. Just as rumors flew out about Griffin jumping over a car, rumors and pictures came out that DeRozan was planning to use a trampoline and a man in a chicken suit for one of his dunks.
Sure, he can still be against props and know that he had to use them in order to compete and win, but it’s worth pointing out.
DeRozan wasn’t the only one who was robbed in the contest as far as I’m concerned as Serge Ibaka had the best “foul line” dunk in the history of the contest. Hopefully, the NBA can get it right and do away with all the props and significantly reduce the number of missed dunks. While JaVale McGee had some incredible dunks, most were after 15 or so misses which made them far less impressive. The contest would be much more exciting if they enacted a “3 strike” rule to only allow contestants 3 misses before being disqualified for any given attempt.
In a string of DUI arrests for professional athletes, the AP has now released the next unfortunate athlete, Jarrett Jack. According to the report, the New Orleans Hornets’ backup point guard was arrested and charged with DUI after being pulled over in Georgia early Sunday.
The Snellville police chief indicated that Jack was pulled over after being clocked going 66 mph in a 45 mph zone. The officer also indicates that Jack’s Mercedes was weaving and he was also charged with failure to maintain a lane.
The police say that Jack failed a field sobriety test which caused him to be taken to the county jail at which time a breath test was administered. Jack measured just under the legal limit of .08 a little more than an hour after the traffic stop. Jack was released Sunday night.
All-Star weekend in the NBA drew a lot of attention from Blake Griffin being in the dunk contest, the “Groupie Mecca” that it has turned into, David Aldridge likening it to “Black Thanksgiving” and just because of the massive collection of NBA superstars for an entire weekend. The NBA has long maximized it’s opportunity to market individual stars and this weekend was no different.
Overall, I thought the weekend’s events were mostly entertaining, but there are certainly significant issues with the events. The Rookie/Sophomore game wasn’t bad, the highlight of the celebrity game had to be Scottie Pippen blocking the **** out of Justin Bieber, and the skills challenge and the 3 point contest were mostly uneventful.
As it is nearly every year, the real draw was to be the Slam Dunk Contest and the All-Star game itself on Sunday. With the event being held in L.A. at Staples Center and Blake Griffin being the new darling of the NBA, he entered the contest as the prohibitive favorite to come away with the title. After all, the other participants were certainly talented, but they lack the star power of Blake Griffin.
I, as most others, fully expected Griffin to walk away victorious, but as the contest unfolded, I became more and more uncomfortable. Griffin is a tremendous athlete and outstanding player, but his dunks were average given his ability and the other dunks performed by his competitors.
Add to this, Serge Ibaka was completely robbed for having perhaps the most impressive “foul line” dunk in the history of the contest and DeMar Derozan performed some incredible dunks despite not being rewarded by the judges.
I honestly think that if any other player performed the dunks that Blake Griffin performed, they not only wouldn’t have won the event, but they probably don’t make it out of the first round. And finally, the car dunk performed by Griffin was a joke in my opinion. Charles Barkley said immediately that it wasn’t that difficult or impressive of a dunk. That was not just average, but a below average dunk. There are probably 50 players if not more who could perform that dunk with ease while there are maybe 5 or 6 players who could perform some of the dunks performed by the other contestants.
There is no question in my mind that the event was fixed for Blake Griffin to win in his city and as a method for the NBA to continue to market their bright new star. I know it’s just for entertainment, but the fact that Griffin won with those dunks is a complete joke.
Fast forward to the actual All-Star game and myself and others correctly predicted that Kobe Bryant would put on a show and win the MVP in his city. Kobe did shine and I’m not saying he didn’t deserve the MVP, but is there any doubt that it was predetermined that Kobe would go out and earn the MVP as the game was held in L.A. for potentially the last time in Kobe’s illustrious career?
Again, the weekend was more entertaining than in some previous years, but the NBA could try a little harder to hide the fix from its fans.
Few things in the sporting world have been as annoying and frustrating as the Carmelo Anthony trade demand and subsequent trade rumors. For months we’ve known that despite what Anthony may say publicly, he wants no part of being in Denver or, for that matter, New Jersey/Brooklyn. There is little question that option A, B, and C for Carmelo Anthony has and will likely continue to be the New York Knicks.
With that being said, what in God’s creation could be the holdup? The Nuggets are in a tough situation with their superstar demanding a trade before his contract has expired. They’ve essentially lost the final year of Anthony’s contract despite having all legal rights to his services through this season. Sure, it’s horrible for the Nuggets and their fans, but at this point they have to have come to grips with it. There is little question that the Nuggets have long since moved into “get what we can” mode.
The Nuggets know they have lost their star, the whole world knowns Anthony only wants to be a Knick, and the whole world knows that the Knicks desperately want Anthony. So what in the world is holding this up!?
One of the best in the business, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports is now reporting what I and others have been hearing whispers of for months. That the man who single-handedly destroyed, embarrassed, and nearly bankrupted the Knicks, Isiah Thomas, is once again calling the shots in New York.
Respected basketball executive Donnie Walsh has done a tremendous job in rebuilding the Knicks after Thomas’ continual mismanagement, but for some reason owner James Dolan has once again seeded power to Thomas. Technically, Thomas isn’t employed by the Knicks as of yet but according to this report he is driving everything through James Dolan including the handling (or rather mishandling) of the Carmelo Anthony trade, the departure of Donnie Walsh, and the future hiring of the Knicks’ next President and GM.
One front office executive is quoted as saying “Isiah is calling the shots in New York. It’s a disgrace. Donnie should walk.”
Dolan, under the direction of Isiah, has continually overruled Walsh throughout the trade talks and continues to undermine the authority and responsibilities that he once hired him to oversee. Walsh has reportedly stood firm in never wanting to trade Raymond Felton for Chauncey Billups and has firmly stood against trading Danilo Gallinari as a part of the package.
So when you start to think about why on earth this trade has taken months and seems like one of the most dysfunctional things in all of sports, that’s because it is. A man who once completely wrecked the Knicks has been essentially given the powers of the General Manager for perhaps the most important trade in history of the franchise. All the while, the man who worked tirelessly to restore the franchise to respectability is being continually disregarded, overruled, and undermined right in front of his face.
If the waiting games hasn’t turned Anthony off to the idea of playing for the Knicks, the idiocy and ridiculousness of this situation and James Dolan’s continual obsession with letting Isiah Thomas wreck his team should be enough to make him seriously consider option D, E, and F.
John Ireland, L.A. radio host, has had quite a tumultuous week. He has actually had about as rough of a week as his Lakers have had as of late as they dropped their 3rd game in a row to the infamous Cavaliers last night.
Just a couple days ago, Ireland drew attention for “trying” to interview Ron Artest following the Lakers embarrassing loss to the Bobcats. Check the link for a hilarious “Ron Ron” interview, but that wouldn’t be the end of Ireland’s week from hell.
I found this great piece from Larry Brown Sports who provides the details to this story. Apparently leading up to the game last night between the Lakers and the Cavs, Ireland promised to quit his job and walk home from Cleveland if the Cavaliers were to beat the Lakers. Ireland compared the Cavs to not only an NCAA team, but a lower tier NCAA team likening them to the “play-in” teams in the NCAA tournament.
Too bad for Ireland that the Lakers continued to sink and they’ve dropped their 3rd straight after a 4-0 start to the road trip. For the highlight of the game, check out Christian Sky-Enga‘s incredible “Blake Griffin-esque” throw down on Pau Gasol. Granted, Pau has never been known as a particularly great defender or shot blocker, but hey, for the Cavaliers… this is progress!
Blake Griffin got off to a bit of rough start to his NBA career last season after suffering a season ending injury before the first tip off. Some wondered if the “Clipper Curse” would somehow strike down someone who appeared to be a sure fire NBA superstar. Those questions amped up after his injury last season.
But Griffin has stormed back this season and is a lock for Rookie of the Year. His monstrous dunks and automatic double doubles are a thing of beauty and he is nearly single-handedly making the Clippers relevant. The Clippers have a great core of young players surrounding their superstar and if it were any team other than the Clippers, you would have to assume that they will be a contender for years to come.
Donald Sterling, however, has made a career (a very lucrative one at that) at running a severely underperforming franchise and cashing in each and every year for himself. So, can Donald Sterling mess this thing up?
Clippers GM Neil Olshey has vowed to make sure that doesn’t happen. In a conversation with ESPN Los Angeles, he added:
“I can guarantee you he will only ever be a Clipper. If Sam Presti (Oklahoma City GM) arrived on Kevin Durant’s doorstep at midnight on July 1st with an extension, understand that Blake Griffin lives two blocks away from me in Manhattan Beach so it’s going to be a much shorter commute for me.”
“When it comes time for him to be a free agent, we won’t be losing. We’re not losing now. We’re 10 out of 14 now with our All-Star center (Chris Kaman) sitting around in a suit. The future looks pretty good. The only question will be, in two or three years with Blake, is how much more we’ll be winning.”
Well… you have to love his optimism and what else do you really expect the GM to say? I just hope that he doesn’t actually believe this because I hate to tell him, but there is no guarantee that Blake Griffin will want to stay with the Clippers even if they are winning. Just take a look at LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Both enjoyed great success with legitimate championship contenders and both opted to bolt from their team for greener grass.
I’m not saying that Blake Griffin is the same type of person that either ‘Melo or ‘Bron are or that he shares similar philosophies or priorities. But I am saying that it would be extremely naive to think that it’s a foregone conclusion that he will want to re-sign with the Clippers even if they are contending.
No matter how much buzz Griffin generates and how competitive the Clippers are, they will always be the step-child in L.A. Period. I’m not sure if a top line NBA superstar wants to be the second best attraction in his city for his entire career. I’m not sure that he doesn’t, but I doubt he does.
Plus, Donald Sterling is the wildcard. He has butchered this franchise for years and there’s no guarantee that he won’t destroy the team’s chances at truly competing to save a few bucks and pad his own bottom line. He has, after all, done it for years.
I’m personally rooting for Griffin to stay with the Clippers and build the franchise just like Kevin Durant is doing. I would generally prefer these superstars to stay with their own teams and try to build a champion instead of all joining each other on a few power teams. I find it much more interesting if 15 teams can legitimately compete for a title instead of 5.