Tag Archives: LeBron James
Earlier today the 20 finalists for Team USA were announced. These players will compete for a chance to represent the United States at the Summer Olympics in London. Here is the list:
The vast majority of these players have played for Team USA before. Only Griffin and Aldridge have not suited up in the red, white, and blue. What will be interesting to see is how these players fare after a brutally compacted season. If anything, the final 12 players selected to play in the Olympics might come down to a matter of health above all else.
From this list of 20 there are clear shoe-ins, most of whom played on the Redeem Team in Beijing. Paul, Rose, Bryant, and Wade are the top guards in the group. Bryant expressed his interest in returning to play for Team USA long ago and Wade has stated that this will be his last run as member of the squad. However, Wade’s future with the national team is up in the air presently as he is out indefinitely with an ankle injury.
As for the forwards, where Team USA is loaded, James, Anthony, Durant, and potentially Love or Bosh will be the main candidates to make the final roster. Bosh is playing exceptionally well this season but his ability to be multidimensional will come into question if he is to make the cut. If head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s philosophy remains the same, Howard will be the only center who makes the final cut. Under Coach K, the national team has become a model of hybridization. 2010′s gold metal team at the FIBA World Championships in Turkey was a pure experiment and subsequently a benchmark for teams composed of hybrid, multi-positional players. That team started Odom at center over Chandler and it worked.
With that in mind, and assuming that none of the “shoe-in” players listed above have health setbacks, there are still three positions left to make the full 12-man roster. Williams, Iguodala, and Aldridge would be, in my opinion, the best choices to round out the squad. Aldridge, because of his size and shooting ability, would serve the team nicely as a power forward/center. Iguodala, who shined in Turkey, should be included for his defense which will lead to transition offense for the team. Williams is easily the most replaceable player that I have mentioned who has a chance at making the roster. It might be wise to go with another rangy, multi-positional forward instead like Gay or even Odom, who can play three positions on the team not including point forward.
Whatever the final makeup of the roster, health allowing, Team USA will be heavy favorites this summer in London. Hopefully, they have another catchy nickname and congeal as a team. I wonder if Bryant will be spotted in the stands at the beach volleyball tournament this time. Let’s hope so.
With much fanfare and an obnoxious LMFAO ad that was played almost every commercial intermission, the NBA season kicked off in superb, albeit rusty, fashion. Yes, lockout legs could be seen throughout the five games that were aired but that is to be expected with abbreviated training camps. chemistry was also an issue as many teams have a number of new players to integrate into their rotations. Nonetheless, the NBA is back and fans and players are happy. A reaction:
Boston Celtics 104 – New York Knicks 106
Carmelo Anthony looked great in this game. His 17 points in the fourth quarter were the difference and why the Knicks thought it necessary to gut their team to acquire him. Throughout his time in the NBA, Anthony has proven he has a knack for performing in the clutch and he showed it on Sunday. However, the already shaky depth of the Knicks has grown even more unstable with a knee injury to rookie Iman Shumpert which will sideline him for at least a couple of weeks.
As for the Celtics, Rajon Rondo and Brandon Bass, who is finally free from the tyranny of Stan Van Gundy, were the offense with Paul Pierce missing the game. Rondo continually broke down New York’s defense and got to the rim. When Pierce comes back to the lineup the Celtics should be a more rounded offensive unit, until then this will be Rondo’s team.
Nice: Carmelo Anthony’s clutch play.
Miami Heat 105 – Dallas Mavericks 94
The Mavericks raised their championship banner but that is all they had to celebrate on Sunday. Dallas came out looking flat and out of sync, in essence, they looked old. That should be no surprise because their entire core is over the age of 30. Rick Carlisle is integrating Vince Carter, Lamar Odom, Delonte West, who played well, and Brandan Wright into the rotation while dealing with key losses across the board. Jason Terry was the only Maverick who showed up to this one.
Miami looked like they were just rolled off of a German assembly line. They were well oiled and fine tuned. What they did to the Mavericks was scary. Say what you will about all the exhibition games this summer but they seem to have kept LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in game shape, that and their complete desire to destroy everything in their path. This was a blowout, like a brand new Mercedes-Benz S-Class versus a Trabant. Not only were the Heat good but they will get better. Rookie Norris Cole turned some heads with his play in 24 minutes of action. If he continues to improve he could supplant Mario Chalmers as the starting point guard.
Naughty: The Mavs’ 37.8 percent field goal shooting.
Nice: LeBron James‘ box score: 37 points, 10 rebounds, six assists.
Chicago Bulls 88 – Los Angeles Lakers 87
Forget Showtime, these are the Slowtime Lakers. That is not a knock on them, however, not in the least bit. This Lakers squad proved to be as scrappy and gritty as any I have seen. Perhaps this is what Mike Brown brings to the team, perhaps this is what a bunch of blue-collar white guys bring to a team, or perhaps this is just what happens when you lose Odom and Andrew Bynum serving his suspension. Nonetheless, I like the Slowtime Lakers. Where they do need to improve is offensive player rotation. Too many times they reverted to Hawks-esque isolation with three players around the perimeter and one near the post.
Chicago played well throughout, with the exception being the third quarter. With the game close, Luol Deng stepped up and made the big plays. It was his defense against Kobe Bryant and his steal late in the game that allowed the Bulls to go on a 7-0 run, capped by Derrick Rose‘s floater in the lane, to win the game. Rip Hamilton started for the Bulls but did not contribute much due to foul trouble therefore his time was split with Ronnie Brewer. Brewer is a solid defender with good court vision and should see more minutes this season.
Naughty: Kobe’s last shot attempt.
Nice: Rose’s floater to win the game.
Orlando Magic 89 – Oklahoma City Thunder 97
Much like the Heat Mavericks game, the final score does not do justice to the thrashing that actually occurred. Like Miami, the Thunder look ready for the season. Very ready. Oklahoma City pounced on Orlando early and never relented. Their team is largely the same as it was last year so their learning curve is near zero when it comes to knowing each other and how to execute plays…when they are not freewheeling. Speed and athleticism are the monikers of this team and they will serve them well out of the gate. If only they could improve their shot selections *cough* Westbrook *cough*.
Where the Thunder took plenty of questionable shots when they had built their sizable lead, the Magic took even more haphazard shots throughout the entire game. I have said it many times: the Magic’s offense is terrible. There is nothing more that can be said. It looked like they thought that there was a pit of lava inside the three-point line. Get Dwight Howard the ball in the post and let him work.
Naughty: Hedo Turkoglu clearly indulged his gluttonous side during the lockout. Dude is chunky.
Nice: Kevin Durant. Need I say more?
Los Angeles Clippers 105 – Golden State Warriors 86
If ESPN had their way, this would have been a documentary about Mark Jackson and the greatness of his coaching style. Nevermind the fact Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were on the court, this broadcast was about Mark Jackson, hands down (man down). They showed a clip of him quoting Shakespeare before the game. He was the only coach shown in the huddle, mostly saying cliché motivational shit like “execution” and “focus.” That is all fine and good, but he does have a decent team that the broadcast could have talked about. I think Jackson will be a good coach but that much attention is unwarranted, especially on a nationally televised game. His first coaching milestone was the hack-a-Jordan technique he used on DeAndre Jordan.
The final score is not indicative of how the Warriors remained close for much of the game. Clearly, the Wizards of Lob are the better team but last night they showed chinks in their armor. The aforementioned hack-a-Jordan technique stymied the Clippers offense and brought it to a halt. Luckily, the Clippers have Paul, Chauncey Billups, and Griffin. All played well as they were able to outlast the Warrior. The new look Clippers are a work in progress to say the least and last night they showed it.
Naughty: ESPN’s love affair with Mark “Momma, there goes that man” Jackson.
Nice: Caron Butler‘s circus shot.
There was one upside to the recent NBA lockout and it had nothing to do with basketball related income, griping owners, David Stern, Billy Hunter, the union dissolving, or money. Instead, the lockout provided everyone a distraction. If the lockout had not occurred the summer and fall would have been dominated by talk about LeBron James.
Make no mistake, this is James’ league. Yes, there are other great players but none is as scrutinized and as vilified as he. The lockout granted us and him a brief, albeit tedious and blunderous, reprieve. James’ miscues on and off the court have been well documented. His method of leaving Cleveland and his fourth quarter performances with Miami are headline news. He has no private life, and at times it seems that he wants the attention.
Since James was in high school at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s, he has been anointed as the next great player, the next Kobe, the next Jordan. However, that his not who he is. He is a different player with a different build and athletic capabilities. That does not matter, though. The comparisons will continue to pile on.
He has carved out a swath for himself in the NBA. James is not a niche player. With the attention his game, and sometimes his antics, garner, critics will continue to make a living reveling in his misfortune. They are not friendly pandas who James can have a pleasant photo-op with.
The lockout shifted the spotlight away from James. It gave everyone the room to breathe and take a step back. As the Miami Heat began training camp this year, the throngs of reporters had subsided from a year ago. Perhaps the Heat and James are old news. They did not make any big acquisitions. They just lost a few players. Nothing special there. Of course, to think that James will not garner headlines this season would be beyond naïve.
With games resuming on Christmas day, James has just a few more hours of personal time to enjoy. The present under his tree will be watching the team that beat him in the Finals raise the championship banner. It will be at that moment that the critics will reawaken after their lockout slumber. James will again be the center of attention. It is not right and it is not wrong, it is just how it is.
Merry Christmas, LeBron. It is going to be a very long, shortened season. Next year ask Santa for a little more reprieve and a few more pandas. James does not even like to play on Christmas, a day in which his critics hope to feast. He has two children he wants to spend time with. That is good for something, at least.
LeBron James is in, Kobe Bryant is a go, and Kevin Durant will likely suit up. After that the state of USA Basketball for the 2012 Olympics in London is up in the air, especially with the possibility of losing the entire 2011-12 NBA season.
Monday looks like the day that could make or break any possibility of an NBA season. This has been stated many times over during the course of the lockout but with the players union preparing to rejected the latest offer from the league, this is quite possibly the last grasp at a 72 game season before talks completely break down with the owners reverting to their hardline 53/47 percentage split of basketball-related income and the decertification of the NBPA. With that possibility looming, where does Team USA stand?
USA Basketball are not conjoined at the hip, though they are virtually inseparable. The national team, since FIBA altered their rules in 1989, has been comprised entirely of NBA players. This will not change even with a lockout. It would be foolish to send a team of college players to the Olympics and expect to compete with the likes of Spain, Argentina, and Lithuania. Yet, there can be no denying that the lockout could strain the eventual formation of Team USA.
Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski has no NBA affiliation as he coaches the men’s team at Duke University. There should be no complication with him returning to coach the program. However, aside from Jim Boeheim who coaches at Syracuse, the assistant coaches coach in the NBA. Mike D’Antoni is the current head coach of the New York Knicks and Nate McMillan coaches the Portland Trail Blazers. As per the rules of the lockout, neither D’Antoni nor McMillan is allowed to have any contact or communication with the lockout players.
Herein lies the first hurdle for Team USA. They will be without two of their assistant coaches if the lockout persists. With Krzyzewski, D’Antoni and McMillan have successfully orchestrated the present liquidity that embodies Team USA. The Redeem Team that won gold in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics was completely dismantled two years later, partly do to lack of interest and previous engagements by the players who were a part of that team, and transformed into a lengthy and quick, uptempo and undersized bunch who won gold at the World Championships in Turkey in 2010. D’Antoni is fluent in the rules and style of the international game having coached for years in Italy which has helped NBA players transition to FIBA rules and style. Losing both coaches will be a hit for Team USA but not one that will completely derail the coaching staff.
The coaches can be easily replaced. Though this means that the staff may not have the same continuity with the pool of players eligible to fill out the fifteen man roster. However, other college coaches such as John Calipari, who is always looking to increase his recruiting pool, Tom Izzo, and perhaps even Roy Williams could be considered to fill the roles of the assistant coaches. Other names may also be included if D’Antoni and McMillan cannot return to the bench. Larry Brown jumps out as a possible candidate having been head coach of Team USA before. Yet, this is all just speculation at this point and is predicated on the length of the lockout.
Team USA could also be without their trainers Casey Smith and Keith Jones, who work for the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets respectively. If the NBA season is lost, not only will Jerry Colangelo have to recruit players to join the 2012 incarnation of the national team but he may also have to rebuild his coaching and support staff.
Colangelo is still a minority owner of the Phoenix Suns. His position as managing director of USA Basketball, however, has allowed him to remain apprised of players’ interest in joining Team USA, though he cannot discuss the lockout in any terms. Colangelo believes that despite the lockout, a team can be assembled with players from both the 2008 and 2010 squads.
According to the official team roster at USABasketball.com, the pool of players available is much greater than just those who have played on the national team before. Other than Bryant, James, who have both committed, and Durant, how the roster will fill out is anyone’s guess. It is likely that Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony will return, and Chris Sheridan has speculated that Blake Griffin is a “shoo-in.” Chris Bosh will probably return, as will Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul. After that it becomes dicey (as if speculation was not already). There are still six spots open on the roster if these players to indeed return.
To fill the remaining vacancies will require coach Krzyzewski to determine the style of play that his team will execute in London. As stated above, the 2010 national team was swift and agile relying more on their athleticism than on physical size.
The candidates that are left are Lamar Odom, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Deron Williams, possibly Kendrick Perkins, and perhaps Eric Gordon. None of those players are slouches and if Team USA prefers to reincarnate the 2010 team then Andre Iguodala should also be considered.
At this point, nothing is certain. The Olympics are where players build their brand. It is not completely about national pride, do not delude yourself. This is a stage on the global market. In most countries outside of the U.S. everything stops so that they can watch their nation compete. NBA players fortunate enough to be selected to the national team know that and so do their agents and sponsors. The Olympics are a big deal and London has been a world city since the middle ages. That is not lost on the players.
With the season in flux and headed towards what might be complete and utter fail (pardon the meme), the Olympic games in the summer of 2012 are the last remaining legitimate basketball that NBA players could see for some time. As of now, Team USA is keeping their summer schedule conservative, understandably. Official rosters must be submitted in June. On the slate for Team USA is two exhibition gamed against Spain in July 2012 as well as a friendly against Great Britain. France will also likely get a friendly in too before the start of the summer games. However, a quick resolve to the lockout could change everything.
The lockout threatens only the NBA at this point. Team USA is still in good hands. No matter what happens to the 2011-12 NBA season, there will be a formidable team fielded by the United States. They will be the favorites to win it all. Haters will pick Spain with their frontcourt of Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka. Honestly though, a team representing a country in as many financial hardships as Italy cannot be taken too seriously. There is a reason all their players moved to the U.S. (financial aside). The United States has reestablished itself as the dominant force in international basketball. Do not for one second, or one lockout, that players do not want to maintain that supremacy. A gold medal might not be the Larry O’Brien Trophy but it still speaks wonders unto itself.
We all know that Pete Carroll is one crafty recruiter. He had lots of success illegally recruiting talented players to fill his roster during his time at USC. Then, like a wise man, he bolted to the NFL just before the NCAA came down on USC with the might of Zeus’ thunderbolt. Now, Carroll is the coach of the Seattle Seahawks and looks to have another trick up his recruiting sleeve. Carroll and LeBron James have been corresponding via Twitter about the potential of James joining the Seahawks during the lockout. None of this is too be taken seriously, however. It is just for fun. (But do not put it past Carroll to actively pursue it.) Take a look at the official jersey that Carroll had made for James. In the NCAA that would have been an illegal gift (official jerseys are expensive), in the NFL it is all good.
James is not the first NBA player to show interest in playing for the Seahawks either. Earlier this year, Nate Robinson said he wanted to try out for the team. There must be some kind of intangible pull that players have towards the city of Seattle, too bad some commissioner conspired with some oilman to steal that cities basketball team…the same commissioner who is at the center of the lockout.
After playing in the South Florida All-Star Classic game at Florida International University hosted by Isiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James, Amar’e Stoudemire took to twitter to announce a bold new personal move for himself that could effect how people perceive him for years to come. He has a new nickname.
Long gone are the days of STAT. Now he holds a new title. However, Stoudemire might have to fight Danny DeVito for the rights to be called Renaissance Man or at least star in a remake of the classic movie from 1994. Either way, the name is not fully his yet no matter what he may say on Twitter.
In what is possibly the biggest recruiting ploy in Isiah Thomas’ stint as the head coach of the men’s basketball team at Florida International University, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade hosted the most recent NBA player charity game. The two players from the Miami Heat reportedly approached Thomas about hosting the South Florida All-Star Charity Classic, which benefits the FIU First Generation Fund through the Mary’s Court Foundation (named after Thomas’ late mother). Yes, the event was for charity but Knicks fans have to be a tad squeamish knowing that Thomas spent as much time as he did in the same gym as Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. Heck, the NBA and NCAA should be squeamish about Thomas’ continued activities with NBA players. Seriously, it is fairly shady.
The teams were divided into Team Wade and Team LeBron. From there, players were partitioned based on their shoe deals, Jordan Brand and Nike sponsored players had priority placement on the teams. Team LeBron featured the aforementioned James, Chris Bosh, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Rajon Rondo, Lou Williams, Rudy Gay, Jamal Crawford, Jonny Flynn, and Damon Jones. Wade’s team was composed of Wade, Mario Chalmers, Caron Butler, Dorell Wright, Stoudemire, Anthony, Chris Paul, Wesley Matthews, John Wall, and Eddy Curry. However, in a classic Curry (aka the Hamburglar) move, he did not suit up for the game. Matthews and Williams also did not appear in the game and were replaced by James Harden and Tristan Thompson.
The players were not the only clebrities in the building, Floyd “Money” Mayweather was in the crowd as well as Gabriel Union among the 4,000 on hand for the game.
Kevin Hart coached Team Wade, and channeled coach Bob Knight at one point by throwing a chair on the court, while Udonis Haslem coached Team LeBron.
Aside from an attrocious free throw display, the game featured some fairly competitive ball. Both teams played more than passive defense. However, play around the rim, especially from Team LeBron in the first half, was sloppy at best. It is lockout basketball. It does not matter in terms other than entertainment, yet there are referees officiating the game. The refs really did not play a role in the game, other than the players looking to them for calls regularly, until the last two minutes. During the last two minutes the game grew increasingly competitive as the players took hard fouls, Anthony gave James an NBA foul and Wade and James found each other defending one another.
It came down to Anthony with Team Wade trailing by three. He delivered on a shot from the wing to tie the game at 127 with three seconds to go in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime. Unfortunately, Anthony began cramping early in the overtime session. Though it did not look to be too serious, it was a reminder that players, without the aid of trainers, are vunerable to injuries as they continue to barnstorm. If James Dolan was watching, he along with Knicks fans everywhere probably held their breath for a beat or two.
In the end Team Wade triumphed 141-140 despite James’ half court make at the end of overtime. James led all scorers with 34 and Wade poured in 25. Bosh added 17.
This game was just another result of the ongoing lockout of the players. After the game, Anthony said, “The way it looks right now they’re going to cancel the first two weeks of the season.” The players and owners continue to not see eye to eye in terms of Basketball Related Income. Owners offered a split of 50/50 to the players last week but the players rejected it. Since then the owners and the league have refused to schedule any further meetings without the players first agreeing to the 50/50 BRI split. Players have said that they would go as low as 53 perecent but the owners refuse to climb higher than the 50 that they offered.
David Stern has recently stated that the owners have conceded on many of their hardline stances in an effort to reach an agreement with the players. However, this is just more double speak from the commissioner. The owners have given up nothing in monetary terms to date. It has been the players that have shouldered the biggest financial burden as their former BRI percentage was 57. It should not be the players who are forced to be held accountable for bad player investment by the the owners.
With the talks stalled for the moment, the barnstorming and exhibition games will continue and with them support for the players will increase. The NBA must return, all sides involved know this. However, it will probably get uglier before it gets better. Until then we will continue to see players don “Basketball Never Stops” shirts in sold out gyms.
Another exhibition game! Actually, the highlights from this one are pretty damn good. After a long day of labor negotiations, which turned out to be rather, well, fruitless, some players needed to blow off a little steam. Players, and their representatives, had been in a meeting with the NBA and the owners for seven hours, yes, seven hours, earlier in the day so it is no wonder that Chris Paul, LeBron James, John Wall, Stephen Curry, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, Rudy Gay, and others needed a venue to take out their frustrations on a rim. Luckily, Paul was hosting a charity game for the CP3 Foundation in which they could all play in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on Saturday night.
The game was played at Winston-Salem State University in front of a crowd of 3,200. However, like many of the pickup games are now, it was also streamed live over the internet. According to Paul, 1,072,532 people viewed the game online.
Paul, who scored 39 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, dished eight assists, and had five steals, helped his team, along with Durant, who scored 48, get the 175-146 win over James” and Wade’s squad. It just really is not their summer. Wade scored 32 and James had 30. Nonetheless, the crowd was much more receptive to James in this game than they were in the “Battle of I-95.”
Fair warning, though. When James and Wall have the ball, they will showboat.