Saturday, May 15, 2010

Saturday (Very) Quickie

I'm still convinced LeBron signs a 3-year deal with whoever, getting us back here in 2013 again. Whee.


*OMG the Flyers. Coming back from being down 3-0 in a series to win 4 straight -- even if it's not unprecedented in hockey (it's been done 2x before) -- is ridiculous. Congrats to Philly fans.

*Come on, sports media: John Calipari is NOT going to the NBA -- even to coach LeBron. He has the best job in college hoops history. He ain't leaving.

*Donovan McNabb doesn't need to apologize for not getting the Eagles a Super Bowl title, and I'm not sure that Philly fans appreciate it. They probably see it as confirmation of his softness.

*Hawks fire Mike Woodson. Unsure where he ends up. Lots of chatter that if the Cavs fire Mike Brown, Atlanta should hustle to hire him.

*Which contender wants Roy Oswalt for the 2nd half of the season?

*So now I'm obsessed with the idea of LeBron going to the Nets rather than the Knicks. Consider:

LeBron + Another good free agent + Top 4 pick in the draft (Wall or Turner or Favors or Cousins) + existing Nets talent (Devin Harris, Brook Lopez, Terrence Williams).

That takes this year's 15-win team to next year's 50-win team.

The Knicks would be LeBron + Another good FA + NO DRAFT PICK + existing Knicks talent (Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Toney Douglas).

That's certainly better than this year's team... but not nearly as good as the Nets would be, if LeBron's goal (after getting paid) is to win.

Maybe that's because I jogged past the Brooklyn Nets arena site yesterday. Enjoy your day. Super Saver!

-- D.S.

Friday, May 14, 2010

05/14 Quickie: LeBron's Defining Moment

Getting bounced -- humiliatingly -- in the 2nd round of the playoffs after an MVP season leading his team to the best regular-season record in the NBA is the defining moment of LeBron's career.

That's not to say that it will REMAIN the defining moment of his career. But for now? Absolutely, without question, this failure -- epic failure, frankly -- is THE defining moment for him.

As I argue in today's SN column, that's not to say LeBron isn't the biggest talent in the NBA -- perhaps the biggest talent in the history of the NBA.

But that IS to say that, perhaps because of his individual success, he is defined more by his failure.


*Let's stop for a second and consider that final minute of the game, where the Cavs just up and quit. It was stunning. It was the lasting image of the team, of LeBron and of his Cavs career.

(I don't think this can be stressed enough: LeBron looked like he really didn't care. I was tough on LeBron last year when he didn't shake hands with the Magic after Orlando eliminated him. I actually liked THAT more than his diffident -- I'm willing to accept "shell-shocked," except I really believe he wasn't -- reaction to getting bounced from the series. He was soulless.)

*What next for LeBron? When he says "my team" in the post-game interview, he means "Team LeBron," not the Cavs. I think he is gone. I think he will sign with the Knicks.

*That does NOT mean he is any closer to winning a title in NYC than he is in Cleveland -- then again, as of this morning, Cleveland is no closer to winning the 2010 NBA title than the Knicks.

*If I was LeBron and wanted to win a championship -- AND make big money, which is obviously important to him or else he would sign with Orlando for the league minimum and win 80 games -- he should sign with Miami and play with Dwyane Wade.

*But that's where things get interesting: There's this myth that LeBron cares about winning more than anything. That's simply and demonstrably not true.

*In fact, I would put winning behind: (1) Being a "global brand." (2) Being a billionaire. (3) Making max money in the short term.

*He can do what he wants. But he has to know that every choice will come with consequences: Both how and when he wins and what kind of legacy he leaves behind in Cleveland.

*If he leaves, I suspect that fans -- not just ones in Cleveland -- will feel like the indelible mark was the final minute last night. The failure, not the success.

And that's probably fair.

Complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

05/13 Quickie: LeBron, Habs, Strasburg

Tonight is put up or shut up for LeBron -- and for both sides of yesterday's "LeBacklash" (both the backlash itself and the backlash to the backlash).

That's the lead of today's SN column. Writing off LeBron after Game 5 was premature, given that there were two games to go. If he loses tonight? Different story. (If he wins tonight but loses Game 7 at home this weekend? Different story, too.)

There can and will be a lot more to talk about tomorrow morning.

More in today's column:

*Love the Habs! Love the Flyers even more!

*I cannot wait for Strasburg's call-up.

*Cheating is cheating in baseball (except when it's not)

*The AP NFL award voters embarrass themselves further.

*Tiger: Medication and massages. Sound familiar?

*Will I double-down on Super Saver?

Complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

More on LeBron Last Night: Boo!

They weren't saying "Boo!" They were saying "LeBooooron!"

Apologies to the Simpsons ("Boourns!"), but as the rest of the internet battles over whether LeBron is despicable or merely had a bad game, I'm left wondering about a specific angle:

The Cavs fans' booing.

In a visceral way, the jeering was totally appropriate -- this was the most humiliating moment in franchise history.

But the conventional wisdom is that booing LeBron is the fastest way to get him to think twice about staying in Cleveland, rather than going to, say, New York.

My question is this:

What is worse: Booing your superstar in an emotional (but immature) way, or repressing your disappointment by cynically not booing him, specifically so you don't potentially piss him off.

I could make the argument that not booing when you really want to boo, because you're afraid he might get pissy, take his ball and leave town, is more of an affront than booing itself.

On the other hand, whatever visceral value fans (or owners) derive from getting pissy in the moment can't possibly compare with the value of getting to cheer for LeBron over the long-term.

In other words: It's pretty pathetic to cynically not boo -- it's tantamount to begging -- but I'm comfortable with that level of cynicism. Let's just be ready to embrace it AS cynical.

-- D.S.

05/12 Quickie: LeBron and What's Next

You're forgiven for the whiplash from going from yesterday morning's presumption that LeBron would lead the Cavs to a Game 5 win at home over Boston -- and presumptive series-clincher -- which, at the very least, would punt "Is LeBron staying or leaving?" to the East finals when the Cavs get bounced by the Magic.

But no. LeBron had to go and play the worst game of his career -- in the biggest game of his career. As I argue in today's SN column it's not about questioning LeBron's talent -- it is about questioning all the assumptions about him staying that were valid right up until last night's humiliation.

Presuming the Cavs finish choking away this series -- dangerous, I know -- I think that circumstances have flipped in the last 24 hours: That LeBron is now more likely than not to evacuate Cleveland for New York.

My rationale is fairly simple: If the best he's going to do in Cleveland is the 2nd round of the playoffs -- merely making them, not winning them, mind you -- then he might as well try again somewhere else, because that's as bad as missing the playoffs altogether, especially when you have the regular season's best record.

In other words, he has just a good of a chance of winning a title in New York -- or New Jersey or Miami or Chicago -- as he does in Cleveland. I buy into him giving the Cavs a hometown discount on the emotional factor that will go into his decision, but not THAT much of a discount. Not a 2nd-round exit discount.

As bad as LeBron played, it's obviously not all LeBron's fault -- let's put some blame on an overrated coach and an overrated GM. (Compare the Cavs' panicky moves to the confident built-for-playoff-domination moves made by the front office in Orlando.) All the more reason to bolt Cleveland for New York, where D'Antoni can coach and Walsh can construct a roster.

One thing remains constant: Where he is at right now, this morning, LeBron is no closer to winning an NBA title than any other schlub in the league without a ring.

Cripes, the fans in Cleveland were BOOING. Modest props for a fair reaction to an embarrassing performance, but they gotta take the long view when it comes to booing LeBron to his face in his own building. But it's a fair reaction: If this team can't even get past Boston in the 2nd round, what's the point?

Complete SN column here, including fun with Barry Zito (and Cliff Lee!), more mockery of this Brian Cushing situation, a bit of skepticism about Steve Lavin and more.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

05/11 Quickie: LeBron, Sweeps, Tiger

Tonight is the biggest game of LeBron's career.

And he's got the stage all to himself for the rest of the week, because everyone else has moved on -- and looked better than the Cavs in doing it.

I'm feeling very comfortable with my pre-playoff prediction that the Magic would beat the Cavs to win the East. Orlando looks unstoppable.

(And picking the Lakers to repeat as champs isn't making me nervous either. Although I would love to be wrong.)

More in today's column:

*Hank Haney quit on Tiger like Tiger quit on the Players.

*The AP's NFL award voters are officially more offensive than Brian Cushing's cheating.

*It's a micro-slump for the Rays.

*Duke-Michgan St > Duke-Butler

See the whole thing here. More later.

-- D.S.

Monday, May 10, 2010

05/10 Quickie: Braden, Suns, Tiger

It's not just that someone threw a perfect game -- just the 19th P.G. ever.

It's that the someone was Dallas Braden, the outspoken -- and previously unspectacular -- A's pitcher.

And that he did it on Mother's Day in front of his grandma, who raised Braden after Braden's mom died of cancer (which MLB spent the day supporting the fight against).

And, in the quote de grace -- Grams said "Stick it, A-Rod," which turned into a Twitter thing.

All in all, just the type of remarkable and entirely unexpected moment that captures why we all follow sports.

Braden leads today's SN column, but I could have led with the Suns sweep -- remarkable in its own right -- or "mondo" Rondo, who had the best playoff performance in the NBA East of the year. (It would be hard to top Dragic for best this year overall.)

I also could have led with Tiger quitting on the Players. What an odd situation -- if he was in contention, you know he would have played through, just like he did at the US Open. But he wasn't -- he was stinking it up, and it's unclear whether it's from the disc issue or even if he was healthy, if something else is going on. Tiger is clearly frustrated, but it's hard to say about what.

I don't believe Brian Cushing. Do you?

Of the NBA Draft withdrawals, I'm most intrigued by Jimmer Fredette (1st-team All-America of the future), by Alex Tyus (who clearly doesn't want to be at Florida, but whose presence gives the Gators one of the deepest frontcourts in the country - quite a change of pace from the thinnest frontcourt in the country of two years ago), and by the Moore/Johnson pair at Purdue, instantly putting the Boilermakers back near the top of the Big Ten, rather than decimated.

Elana Kagan is a Mets fan, btw. Given the Sotomayor connection to baseball, thought you'd want to know.

Complete column here, and there's a lot more in there. More later.

-- D.S.