2012 NBA Champions

Boy was I off with my Thunder in 5 prediction.  My prediction was based on what I’d seen so far from the Heat,–The Pacers having them on the ropes-the Celtics stealing game 5, extending the series to a game 7 (in game 7-the series was still up for grabs until the last 1/3rd of the 4th quarter).  Meanwhile in  the West, the Spurs were just rolling along.  They took the Thunder to school in the first 2 games of the Western Conference finals.  Game 2 was about the best display of basketball I’d seen, since I can’t remember.  I wrote that if an alien landed on earth and wanted to know basketball you’d put in the tape of the 1st half of game 2. Although I must admit something felt wrong, I said to my wife-games like that are so special it’s weird, they may have peaked to soon. I dismissed the thought, thinking instead that the Spurs would stay focused.

The Thunder turned it around. The Spurs, on an incredible run were just stopped in full stride and dismantled on the spot, series over.   There’s always a tendency to over-react to performances like Game 2.
In the 1985 NBA finals Game 1 Boston vs LA., the Cs ran the Lakers out the gym. The Cs were the reigning NBA champs, defeating the Lakers in the previous years’ finals so everyone one thought, here we go again, Laker fans were devastated after that game.  The Celts win one of the next 5 games and lose the series.
Anyway, the Thunder looked strong, the Heat were struggling.  But looking back on it now, Eastern conference finals game 6, closeout game on the road against the Celtics was The re-birth of ‘bron. He said I got this.  Like the incredible hulk, he broke through to another plane, things changed.   In Game 3 of the finals, the Heat got close enough to sniff the championship and it was on.

But I don’t mind being wrong because it was so gratifying to see Lebron get the monkey off his back. The decision wasn’t that big a deal and neither was joining forces to play with 2 stars.  But the 4th quarter melt downs and 17 and 7 in 2011 to  28 and 10 this year, shows that the critique of Lebron was legit. I’ve always felt that if he developed a Mitch Richmond post presence he’d elevate his game.  But the other stuff, The “hate”, “criticism, etc?  My answer was- just go win one (ring), when you’re a champion, you’re a champion. He didn’t win one sounds a lot worst than he only has one. So check, done deal.
After breaking through psychologically it would seem (he said as much himself), he also went to another dimension physically.  He added much to his repertoire.  I see free agents wanting to come to Miami and play with him so expect the new ‘bron to be right there for a few years. A freer Lebron, with new gifts to display-watch out!

The Series duds

In addition to how the Thunder were playing, After their play in games 3 & 4 of the Western Finals,  I thought the physicality of Serg Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, with Collison off the bench would be trouble for the Heat.  Collison played well but Serg and Perkins didn’t put their stamp on the series at all, not even in the things they do well. They didn’t protect the rim and dominate the boards or impose their size and toughness. Maybe you have 2 guys on the floor who do the same thing?  James Harden:  I won’t go as hard on him as others, shooters go into slumps but the timing couldn’t have been worse.  I also think Eric Maynor would have helped out with Chalmers and Cole.

Nope, the veteran role players on the heat, Chalmers, Haslem and more to the point Battier, Miller (who weren’t apart of the last championship) came to play. These league vets smelled the championship and 23yr olds didn’t pick up the scent. So congrats to Battier, Miller and special shout out to Juwan Howard.

The Big 3

The experiment a move that brought 3 stars together was ratified. Say what you want about  Magic, Bird, Jordan wouldn’t have gone and played together; these 3 have a championship together. The fact that they went through a struggle, criticism, changes & sacrifice to their on the court play, meant that it didn’t come cheap.  And maybe, though I doubt either would admit, a little harder than they thought?  In the end they worked for it, got it and that’s what counts.
There was a lot of talk about the 3 coming together but really: Magic, Kareem, Worthy.  Bird, Parish, McHale (Johnson). Garnet, Pierce and Allen (after it’s all said and done, Rondo’s name will give Boston its 2nd foursome). Jordan, Pippen and Rodman. Hakeem, Barkely and Drexler. I think you get the point…..

My GM Hat
I’d try to move Wade now while there’s still value but because of the relationships, they’ll try one more year with him.  I just think he’s about to break down and getting value through a trade and counting on free agency signing could set them up to win 3/4 of the next 5.  Steph Curry through trade?  A big through free agency, like a Tyson chandler or Jakim Noah type-athletic, long and active. But if he returns to full health and can stay healthy Wade could also keep them in the mix the next 3yrs? Just don’t know?

Don’t think we’ve seen the last of a Thunder-Heat match up.  Until the Lakers reload, which is a given because they’re the Lakers, I can’t see anyone else threatening them in the West. In the East, the Bulls will threaten but Lebron is a bigger stronger version of what the Bulls have so I’m giving the edge to the Heat to hold them off. 

But congrats to The Miami Heat, 2012 NBA world champions.

TV, The Wire and America’s Drug War

What I watch on TV:
The shows: RealSports w/Bryant Gumbel, Realtime w/Bill Maher, Frontline, Dan Rather Reports, original Star Trek, Pardon the Interruption, Diners, drive-ins and dives and No reservations. I sit with the wife for: What not to wear, Top Chef and Top designer.

Big sports fan:
Football:  I’m a big College football fan so I choose Saturdays instead of Sundays. Pro football bores me, until the playoffs.
Basketball: I start watching college right around conference tournament time, leading up to March madness.  And for the NBA- I peak in during the regular season but can’t remember the last time I watch an entire regular season game.  Usually record and watch the 4th quarter if the game is close. All over the playoffs though.

Golf– Sundays for pretty much all the big tournaments with full fields.
Tennis- Wimbledon but now that the Williams sisters are no longer viable  probably not till the semis.

So my ranking in order:
College football season
March Madness
The Masters (with Tiger in the hunt)
NBA Playoffs
The Olympics

Not much into the shows until they come out on DVD. I think I’m the only person who didn’t watch the Sopranos.  I caught the West Wing and The Shield. West Wing was great. The Shield was good but seems like the writers didn’t know how to end it and things got a little too crazy.

The Wire
But I tell you, I’m so into The Wire! It’s the best show ever.  It’s like a civics lesson, a street lesson, etc. The characters are all so damn human- they all have some flaw and isn’t that what real life is?  The only characters I don’t like are Burrell and Rawls. But I find myself liking the good guys and bad guys.  The acting is superb and what I like is that for the most part, outside of a few faces, Bunk, Kima, The mayor, Avon, Burrell and Carver (who played Cadet Johnson Whittaker in Assault at West Point, an excellent movie with Samuel L Jackson and Sam Waterston) they’re pretty much unknowns.  This means they’re really believable as the characters and shows just how much talent there is  waiting to get put on.

This clip is classic and a great commentary on America’s War on Drugs.

Looking forward to Season 4 & 5

2012 NBA finals

NBA finals logo

I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed the playoffs as much as I have this year. I didn’t root for any particular team so I was able to sit back and watch.  There were several compelling angles:  Old heads vs young legs. The Spurs winning streak, reaching their peak in a beautiful display of basketball in Game 2, only to lose 4 straight.  The Thunder, figuring it out and raising their level of play, proving they had too much fire power-knocking out 3 champions along the way.   In the East, seeing The Heat, overcoming Bosh’s injury, surviving a standing 8 count to take out the Pacers.  Watching the Celts just grind it out, using their sheer will to force The Heat to a game 7.

I thought it would have been nice to see The Spurs vs Celts, to see Garnett and Duncan, along with other vets in one last show-down.  But sentimentality aside, what we’re getting now is 2 teams with stars in their prime. I can’t wait for this series to start.

Lebron JamesNow if you want to get on Lebron because of the way he faded in last years finals, fair game.  But, unless you live in Cleveland or Ohio, James has simply taken enough flak for the decision. It seems he’s the most scrutinized player ever and people are nitpicking in ridiculous comical ways. In true Skip Bayless fashion, someone even said the reason he played so well in Game 6 is because he didn’t want it to come down to the last few minutes.  Then why not do that every night?  Utterly ridiculous!  This notion of Batman, Robin, etc. is unfair as well. Lebron is suffering from The NBA’s Michael Jordan syndrome.  The NBA has tried desperately to duplicate the Jordan Phenomenon (which is why Wade won his 1st championship from the free throw line, but I digress).   Lebron is more Magic than Michael anyway and besides all that is neither here nor there.  And let’s say The Heat wins but Lebron doesn’t play well OR he plays well but doesn’t hit a last second shot.  The criticism will be, yeah he won a championship but he can’t close.  Sort of like yeah Tiger has those 14 majors, 73 tours wins but what we should focus on is that he’s never come from behind.  Silly. I also hope this doesn’t become a rooting interest for Lebron because there may have been a racial element to the decision and why it continues to have legs. Most of that is less about ‘Bron than it is about those people who feel that way but its neither here nor there.  And besides, The Thunder’s big 3 are Black too.

Durant, Westbrook and Harden are just young studs and it’ll be interesting to see if they’re a little nervous in their 1st trip to the finals.  People have been expecting their youth to hurt them, so far it hasn’t. But then again they were much more talented and younger than the teams they face. That won’t be the case in the finals.

In any event, I’m hoping for something like the 2002 Western conference finals between the Lakers and Sacramento Kings. I don’t want to make a prediction because then I’ll end up rooting for that team and I’d rather sit back as a fan and appreciate it.  I’d be happy for either team.    Maybe I’ll write a comparison of both teams big 3 or position-by-position strength vs weakness.

Until then The Thunder in 5 (couldn’t resist).

The American identity #4: “How did politics in the U.S. come to be dominated by people who make a virtue out of ignorance?”

That was the question posed by George Monbiot of London’s The Guardian in late October 2008, just days before the U.S. presidential election.

Follow this link for a great read:
Between Race and Reason: Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

Friday, 16 September 2011 07:17 By Susan Searls Giroux, Stanford University Press

And over at Salon, Michael Fumento, “I worked for Reagan and wrote for National Review. But the new hysterical right cares nothing for truth or dignity.”
My break with the extreme right