Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland Cavaliers’

Dear Michael Jordan…STFU: How We Should Think About Super Teams and Corporate Monopolies

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

by Gus Griffin







Michael Jordan is upset about the Warriors and Cavaliers being super teams while the other 28, in his words, “are garbage”.

Never mind the insult to the San Antonio Spurs, who would not fit the description of garbage in any era of basketball. Let’s keep the focus on Jordan the player and Jordan the owner.

Michael Jordan the player, was quite possibly the greatest ever and was the primary reason that his Chicago Bulls won the NBA title every year of his last 6 full seasons with the team. It wasn’t just his ability on the court. It was his willingness to play for a “mere” $3-4 million per season (he was making in the range of $36 million in endorsements). This gave his team a huge unfair advantage that they would eventually use to help secure Dennis Rodman and keep Scottie Pippen from leaving before his prime was up.

Michael Jordan the owner, apparently does not want other teams having the kind of advantage his Bulls had in his playing days.

The irony of it all is that the max deal restrictions on player salaries today is a direct result of Jordan’s last 1-year deal with the Bulls.  For the 1997-98 season, Jordan earned just over $33 million, which is still the single season record for a player. This salary was also more than the entire roster of 19 teams that year.

Back to Jordan the player, who once suggested if Wizards owner Abe Pollin could not afford the team that he should sell the team. Jordan would later work for Pollin in his last comeback.

The only conclusion that I can make about the contradictions between Michael Jordan the players vs Michael Jordan the owner is that when people win and/or get the outcomes they want, fairness is not a principle that is very important to them.

The same is true of American capitalism and its production of corporate monopolies. Despite the lessons that should have been learned from the near crash of 2008, less than 10 years later, the U.S. economy is increasingly being dominated by corporate mergers. Walgreens bought up Rite Aid, Heinz bought Kraft, and American Airlines bought US Airways. On Wall Street, the source of the near collapse, the 5 biggest banks hold nearly half the nation’s assets. An increasing trend is to mandate its customers and employees to agree to arbitration in disputes, thereby signing away their constitutional rights to a trial.

Why should we as sports fans care? Because the trends going on with super team formations in the NBA, though largely driven by a handful of the game’s superstars, will not affect your pension, civil liberties, or living wages. The trends going on with corporate monopolies absolutely will affect all of the aforementioned and yet we don’t personalize our indignation about corporate monopolies anywhere near to the degree that we do when attacking pro athletes.

I am not suggesting that this whole super team thing is something I particularly like as a fan of the game. It, without question, leaves a competitive imbalance. I am suggesting that we have idealized the NBA past as if this has never happened before.  The Bill Russel era Celtics won 11 titles in 13 years and the aforementioned Jordan era Bulls won 6 in 8 years. And yet the league survived just fine.  Even the Showtime Lakers, who won 5 titles, also lost 4 times in the NBA finals. Before the 1982-83 season, the 76ers added the late great Moses Malone, arguably the best player in the league at the time. He would be the final piece to a team that had made it to the NBA finals 2 of the previous 3 years, and already had Julius Erving. They cruised through the regular season and playoffs before sweeping my defending champion Lakers for the title.  It looked like at the time that the Sixers would win multiple titles.

They never won another.

In sports, the impact and collateral damage of super teams is relatively minimal and history has shown that the game will survive their fluctuating eras. The same cannot be said of capitalistic America and its corporate monopolies. I would hope we reserve our outrage for the real danger between the two.


Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

The Cavalier/LA Conspiracy

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

by Brandon McConnell

Brandon Mac Blog







The NBA has always been full of conspiracies, for years.  Let us take a look back at some of them.  The Orlando Magic becomes a new franchise and just so happen to get the #1 pick, two years in a row.  The Cleveland Cavaliers happened to get the #1 pick the same year Akron’s own LeBron James is available.  Chicago Bulls just happen to get the #1 pick the year Chicago’s superstar Derrick Rose become eligible for the draft.  Lastly, the Cleveland Cavaliers get three #1 picks after LeBron James leaves to go back to Miami, making it very convenient for him to come back home to a championship contender.

Now for the latest conspiracy.  Lonzo Ball to the Los Angeles Lakers.  This year, the Los Angeles Lakers have the second worst record in the league.  Their pick is only protected if they get a top 3 selection, or the pick goes to the 76ers.  With that being said, the Lakers are obviously trying to lose games in order to be bad enough to get a top three pick.  They got rid of their top scorer, Lou Williams, to the Rockets and now are sitting several veterans in order to assure a bad enough record to align themselves to draft UCLA’s Lonzo Ball.

Nothing in the previous paragraph should be anything new to the average NBA fan.  Now I am going to enlighten you on a conspiracy that no one seems to be talking about.  Everyone has been conversing this week on why the Cavaliers sat their “Big 3” on Saturday night versus the Clippers, on a nationally televised game, but played everyone against the terrible Lakers on Sunday.  Their reason for sitting the “Big 3” was for rest due to back-to -back games, but they didn’t have a game on Friday.  Let me give you a little history about coach Tyronn Lue.  He just so happens to have 2 NBA championship rings as a player, 1 championship ring as an assistant coach, and 1 championship ring as a head coach.  Where did he win his player rings?  You got it, with Shaq and Kobe as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.  Remember the Iverson step over?  Yes, that was Tyronn Lue.  He won his first coaching ring as Doc Rivers’ assistant coach with the Boston Celtics.  Look at any film that year Boston won, that was Tyronn Lue behind Doc Rivers every game.  So, let us break it down.  The Clippers are currently in 5th place in the Western Conference, fighting for a first-round home court advantage, with several other teams to get the 4th spot.  Tyronn, being the nice guy he is, decided to help his mentor Doc Rivers gain a win to help position the Clippers to become a 4th seed while playing his starters and winning Sunday against the terrible Lakers, which helps put them in a better position to get a top 3 draft pick.  A top three pick would allow them to keep the pick and not give it to the 76ers.  If you look back at the previous paragraph, the NBA just so happens to do a good job with allowing the next coming superstar to join their hometown team.  Ask yourself, why don’t you ever see the lottery balls get selected?  So, expect the Lakers to get Lonzo Ball.  Tyronn Lue just happened to be a pawn in what I call “NBA CHESS”.


Brandon McConnell, for War Room Sports

NBA Opening Day: Eastern Conference Preview

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

by Joel Rodriguez




This is how I see everything happening in the regular season.

Eastern Conference:


Cleveland Cavaliers o/u 56.5 wins

Maybe a tiny letdown to start the season as they finally got that elusive title, but no one in the Eastern Conference can challenge them just yet. Maybe the Celtics can in a year or two depending on who they get with Brooklyn’s pick, but not yet.

Over at 58 wins.


Boston Celtics: o/u 52.5 wins

I absolutely hate that I absolutely love how well they play. They share the ball. They have guys who get after you on defense. They play a deep rotation nightly. They have a tremendous coach. They need someone to make Isiah their number 2 or 3 guy though. As long as he is their 1st or 2nd option they can’t take over Cleveland. That is not a knock on Thomas either. He can play. He is just not that guy.

Under at 52 wins


Toronto Raptors o/u 50.5 wins

They get better every single year. That might change this year, but they should still be good enough to land a top 3 or 4 spot in the East. Signing Bismack was a great move. Losing him is going to hurt later in the year. Lowry might regress a little, Jonas might improve some. DeRozan will keep every 90’s basketball fan happy with his mid range jumpers and lack of 3 point shooting.

Under at 50 wins.


Indiana Pacers o/u 44.5 wins

Had a really good offseason as far as acquiring talent on paper. Not sure if Jeff Teague is a good fit for them. He and Monta are a little redundant. They are also going to have some spacing issues, especially when Myles is not on the floor. Still, they have a top 10 player in Paul George and Myles Turner is for real. They should have home court first round.

Over at 48 wins


Atlanta Hawks o/u 43.5 wins

Always underrated in Vegas. Dennis Schroder can ball guys. He is going to be very good. Paul Millsap is on the right team, because he is criminally underrated too. They still have shooting, they still share the ball and Dennis will attack the basket and the opposing PG in a way Teague could not. They might even be a little higher than this. Dwight is as per usual, the too talented to be X Factor, but still the X Factor.

Over at 46 wins.


Detroit Pistons o/u 44.5 wins

If you have ever talked to me about basketball, you know how much I love Reggie Jackson. Him being hurt is going to hurt the team for a bit, but Ish Smith should shoot over 40 percent just enough to keep them afloat until he gets back. They also have Andre Drummond, who is a monster for 3.5 quarters. Tobias Harris should pick up the scoring slack while Reg is gone. Stanley Johnson is money off the bench and KCP might have one more year of improvement in him. This was the toughest team for me to gauge. I can see them anywhere from 3-7. They are a playoff team though. No doubt about it.

Over at 46


Charlotte Hornets o/u 42.5 wins

They have probably the best defensive coach in the EC, if not the NBA. They still have most of their core intact. Losing Lin sucks, but they should still be good. The team is much better offensively when Kaminsky is on the floor. If he can be somewhat competent on defense they are going to be fine. This is where I started to realize the Eastern Conference is pretty good. When I first did this in my head, I had Charlotte a lot higher than this. I can’t justify putting them ahead of these other teams though.

Over at 44.


Orlando Magic o/u 37.5 wins

I think this is the year we see that improvement. I really wish they had a PG who can knock down a jumper, but Elfrid Payton does a lot of things well. They have enough talent to make the playoffs and I believe they will. Trading Vuc for some shooting/firepower can help seal that. They gave Biyombo a bag and traded for Ibaka, who I am assuming they will try and keep. Vuc gotta go. By the way, they need to find a way to not auto correct Ibaka with Obama. That is enough. I can see Milwaukee and Chicago taking this spot too. Orlando didn’t necessarily get better trading Oladipo for Ibaka, I just think this is the year it comes together for them a little bit. Aaron Gordon is a nice breakout candidate too.

Over at 41 wins


Now for the not so good teams:

Chicago Bulls o/u 38.5 wins

These guys are weird. They have decided to completely abandon the pace and space game dominating the league now. Their projected starting 5, Rondo, Wade, Butler, Gibson and Lopez.. None of them outside of Butler can really space the floor and you don’t really want Butler hanging out shooting six 3’s a game either. Wade and Rondo in the backcourt will be interesting to see, too. It is one thing for Wade to play off of LeBron and succeed. Bron is a threat to score and get to the line. It is another thing to play off the ball next to someone who does not look to score. He is also a prime candidate to lose to father time this year, be it by injury or his play… I just do not see it with them making the playoffs. If they do, they will be gone quickly

Over at 39 wins


Miami Heat o/u 34.5 wins

I think this team is a little better than we are giving them credit for. I expect them to run a little more this year with Wade and Bosh gone. Dragic should get a ton of usage and will play well. I can also see Riley deciding to tank, trading Dragic for some expiring deals and getting a high pick in a loaded draft. He has done it before. If they do not do that, I expect them to battle with Chicago and Orlando for a playoff spot. Oh yeah… Whiteside is gonna OD this year with his stat padding.

Over at 39 wins


Milwaukee Bucks o/u 34.5 wins

Milwaukee, Washington and the Knicks can all be interchangeable. I picked Milwaukee first because I want to talk about the “Greek Freak”. He might be my favorite player in the NBA. If he can ever make his jumper respectable, we have a new top 5 player in the league. He is that good. Jabari Parker is also doing his best early Melo impression. Kid is a monster on the blocks and should get better. Teletovic should get all types of minutes on this team too, because they have absolutely no shooting and need spacing to help out Giannis and Parker. They can make the playoffs and mess up all of my predictions. So can Chicago. So can Washington… Middleton being hurt is awful. They were primed for a rebound year but I don’t see it yet. Might be a blessing. A lottery pick to go with Jabari and Giannis might be a bad thing for the East moving forward.

Over at 38 wins.


New York Knicks o/u 38.5 wins

I don’t want to talk about them, but it is only fair. They went out and got guys who will get their last big payday with New York in Lee and Noah. Lee and Afflalo have different styles of play but will have the same type of impact. They are both role players and I do not see Lee adding wins Afflalo couldn’t. Noah wants to be here and he wants this to work. You can tell. The man is a leader and will get the most out of his body and his teammates while he is on the floor. I am just not sure he is good enough anymore to be more than that. Rose is an upgrade from Calderon. He attacks the basket. He gets to the line more. He will help. I just don’t think it is enough for what some of us are expecting. For all of this alleged grit and energy Brandon Jennings brings, it will not mask the fact that he will shoot 35% from the floor this year and take bad shots. It is what he is. KP should get better. Melo should still be good. They are just too risky with injury and do not have the depth to compete yet.

Under at 37 wins.


Washington Wizards O/U 42.5 wins

Man, this team is hard to predict. I love John Wall. I think his knees are failing him though… Slowly. It is not on some epic Derrick Rose kinda deal, but it is happening. If he can somehow develop a catch and shoot game, it will help him immensely. Bradley Beal is going to take about 19 shots per game this year. It is good for his numbers, but it is an indictment on the team. They literally have nothing else. Gortat is good money but aging… Otto Porter has been another Georgetown bust… This team needs a mini blowup.

Under at 34 wins


Brooklyn Nets o/u 20.5 wins

Jeremy Lin is going to put up monster numbers this year. Brook Lopez should get his too and Rondae Hollis Jefferson has the makings of one of those glue guy/big time defensive player on a title team player… But this ain’t no title team. This team is doomed.
I am hoping they stick with Kenny Atkinson though. He has been deserving of a HC job for a long time.

Over at 21 wins


Philadelphia 76ers o/u 24.5

How are they going to win 25 games? I have been looking super foolish on Embiid for a bit now. I am still a believer… He is the truth. If he is over his injury life, he is going to kill and Philly is on to something once Ben gets back… But he will probably have his minutes reduced to start. One more year, Sixer fans.


Western Conference Preview


Joel Rodriguez, for War Room Sports

LeBron’s Most Defying Year?

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

by C. Bruce


After gaining the first pick of the NBA Draft and finishing last year 33-49, the Cavs have a chance to do something special. They may have one of the best one season turnarounds in NBA history. With the addition of LeBron James in the offseason, the Cavaliers have a chance to win its franchise’s first NBA title. Each and every year LeBron James is regarded as the best player in the NBA. Often, people try to compare him and Jordan. Could this be LeBron’s most defining year? If LeBron wins a title, he would be the greatest of his generation. A title means LeBron would have done the improbable. Through the early season struggles, injuries and controversy, it would be his most difficult title ever accomplished.

After starting the year 19-20 the Cavs have just eliminated the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals and now have a chance to take home the franchise’s first NBA title. No team has ever won a title after starting the season under .500 through 39 games. Throughout the year the Cavaliers came under more media scrutiny than other teams in recent memory. Coach David Blatt and the players were constantly criticized for a good part of the season. The Cavs not only had to deal with the tough media, but also devastating injuries. Early in the season the Cavs lost their starting center Anderson Varejao. Injuries/rests caused LeBron James to miss double-digit games. Kevin Love’s season was ended early in the postseason with a separated shoulder. Also, Kyrie Irving is ineffective at times on the court due to an ankle injury. He is being taken off the court constantly and led to the locker room. With all of the injuries and obstacles the Cavs have faced, an NBA Championship seems highly unlikely.

Throughout the postseason Cleveland has been battling injuries. With some of its best players out, and others severely injured, the Cavs are not the most talented team in the East. On their current playoff rosters, the Bulls and Hawks both have more talented teams, in my opinion. With at least 4 All-Stars on each team, the Cavs come up short with only LeBron James and a banged up Kyrie Irving as the team’s only active All Stars. However, the Cavs have something the Bulls and Hawks do not have; LeBron James. Although LeBron has not been very efficient shooting the ball this postseason, he has led the Cavs to the NBA Finals by elevating the games of Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova, Iman Shumpert, and J.R Smith. He has turned this team from LeBron and the role players to a serious Championship contender. The Cavs have beaten a Bulls team; who many regard as the most talented in the East, even when Cleveland is at full strength. With a severely injured Kyrie Irving, LeBron led team role players to beat the Bulls in 6 games.

The Cavs have just finished off the #1 seeded Atlanta Hawks in a 4-game sweep to earn LeBron’s fifth consecutive NBA Finals appearance (6 in total). The Hawks were arguably the best team in the NBA throughout the regular season, and now that the depleted Cavs were able to seal the deal and win the series, they will probably play the Golden State Warriors. The Golden State Warriors had one of the best regular seasons in NBA history. They have this year’s NBA MVP in Steph Curry, and a good mix of veteran and younger All Stars. If the Cavaliers are able to complete their goal and win the championship, they would have beaten three teams who exceed their talent; the Bulls, Hawks, and Warriors, and without two of their top three players playing at 100%. LeBron would unquestionably be the greatest of his era. He would be the only player in recent memory to take a team of role players and win an NBA Championship. The Cavaliers would have beaten the top two teams in the league without home court advantage; which possibly makes the championship that much more improbable. But we know LeBron and whenever he is on the court he makes the improbable look probable.


C. Bruce, for War Room Sports

Christopher Bruce is a War Room Sports intern, who is currently a sophomore Business Communications major at Arizona State University.

2011 NBA Mock Draft

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

By Brandon Pemberton

Here is my first and final 2011 NBA Mock Draft.  There is no way I will get every pick correct.  There might be trades, and then there are NBA GM’s who have no clue what they are doing.  My picks are based on logic and  where I believe players should fall according to team needs and what I’m hearing from the few connects I’ve acquired over the past couple years since my days at broadcasting school.

2011 NBA Mock Draft (First Round):

1 Kyrie Irving

2 Derrick Williams

3 Enes Kanter

4 Jonas Valanciunas

5 Brandon Knight

6 Jan Vesely

7 Kemba Walker
8 Tristan Thompson

9 Kawhi Leonard

10 Klay Thompson

11 Alec Burks
   Golden State

12 Jimmer Fredette 

13 Marcus Morris

14 Nikola Vucevic

15 Markieff Morris

16 Bismark Biyombo

17 Chris Singleton
   New York

18 Marshon Brooks

19 Kenneth Faried

20 Iman Shumpert

21 Tobias Harris

22 Tyler Honeycutt

23 Donatas Motiejunas

24 Jordan Hamilton
    Oklahoma City

25 Jeremy Tyler

26 Nikola Mirotic

27 Reggie Jackson
    New Jersey

28 Justin Harper

29 Norris Cole
    San Antonio

30 Shelvin Mack
Brandon Pemberton of Brandon on Sports, for War Room Sports

LeBron James: Performance Befitting a King?

Monday, June 13th, 2011

By Brandon Pemberton

A dejected LeBron approaches the podium after Game 6 of the NBA Finals

Last night as I watched the Dallas Mavericks win their third straight game and capture the first NBA title in franchise history, I still couldn’t believe how LeBron James wilted under the pressure in the biggest games of the season.  James left the Cleveland Cavaliers to “take his talents” to South Beach and join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in what was supposed to be a super power this season and for seasons to come.  I had no real problem with him joining the Heat. He had no shot of winning with the Cavs the way they were constructed and I thought it was big of him to go to a team where he wouldn’t be the sole guy.  It’s a known fact that it was Wade’s team and he had a proven track record of clutch play as he was the finals MVP in 2006. The only problem I had was with the whole “Decision Show”, and the WWE- like celebration the next day, like they had already won something.  He asked for all of the ridicule and verbal thrashing he received because of these things.

Everyone who has followed my sports blog knows that after LeBron’s performance against the Celtics and Bulls en route to the NBA Finals, I finally thought James had ascended to “that level” of a player.  I even went out and said he was now better than Kobe Bryant (
First of all, I would like to apologize to the “Black Mamba” for spewing that blasphemy from my mouth before LeBron even won a single title.  But I really thought I had seen him take it to another level.  He was closing out games down the stretch by hitting killer shots and after watching the way he defended Derrick Rose, I was sold.

But then came the NBA Finals and the unexplainable, passive play of the most physically talented athlete I’ve seen in my life.  It’s just a flat out choke job, no other way for me to explain it.  D-Wade said last night after the game that the phrase “choke job” is used too often in sports, and he might be right in some situations.  But in this case, his homie, his teammate, was a flat no show when the Heat needed him the most.  The Heat had a chance to take control of the series.  They were up by 15 points in the fourth quarter with seven minutes and change to play and coughed up the lead, being outscored 22-5 to end the game.  LeBron scored two points during the fourth period of the game, and didn’t make a single basket during the run Dallas went on to steal Game 2.

In six games, LeBron James scored 18 fourth quarter points.  He seemed to defer to Wade and even to his other teammate when he could have forced the issue.  He just seemed disinterested, passive, and scared to take over the game when he clearly was the most talented player on the court.  Last year in the playoffs, James clearly quit on his team in Games 5 and 6 against the Boston Celtics and I couldn’t believe it.  I can’t say he quit on his team this time around, but he wanted no part in making a difference in the outcome of this series.  Watching him drive and dump the ball off to the likes of Juwan Howard and Joel Anthony instead of taking the shot himself was frustrating to watch.

Scottie Pippen’s (who played with arguably the best basketball player of all time) unmitigated gall to say that LeBron James was (or could be) better than Michael Jordan was irresponsible.  I don’t know what personal vendetta he has with “His Airness”, but you see he later took those words back the next day. The lowest point outcome in an NBA Finals game by Jordan was 22 and I’ve seen him carry the Bulls to a victory and nearly pass out coming off the floor due to the flu. People also want to compare LeBron to Kobe Bryant, who might be the closest thing to MJ we will ever see, but Kobe never disappeared in the fourth quarters of games.  And one thing I can say about Jordan and Kobe, they never loss for lack of effort.  Yes, D-Wade made some costly mistakes in the 4th quarter of last night’s game, but he made those mistakes playing his game and going hard.

The bottom line is this: a player with his talent, the hype, the self-given nickname, the cocky attitude and arrogance, should expect to get ripped the way he is today and will continue to during this off-season and until he wins a title.  And his post-game comments aren’t going to help him either.  His whole “I’m better than you at the end of the day” attitude and the “my life is still better than yours” thing is just going to get him more” haters”.  He acts like the fans are the reason why he was out-played by Jason Terry in a Finals playoff series.  “Prince” James has no one to blame but himself for the lack of testicular fortitude it takes to win a title.  He had more talent than he had in Cleveland and he still couldn’t get the damn job done.  So until he wins a title, don’t dare compare this man to the likes of Jordan, Magic,Bird, Shaq, and Kobe.  He doesn’t deserve it.  You know what LeBron is?  He’s the equivalent of having a 12-inch penis (pause) that doesn’t get erect.  Ok, I’m done with this guy.  I’m looking forward to the NBA Draft and hopefully a full 16-game football season.

Brandon Pemberton of Brandon on Sports, Blogger for War Room Sports

The King is Dead! Long Live the King!

Monday, June 13th, 2011

By Jason Parker

The King is dead.  Long live the King!

Or should I say The Kaiser?  King James, with a little boot in the backside from Dirk Nowitzki and a brand of defense the likes of which Mavericks fans have never seen, has abdicated his NBA throne to the “Ghost-Faced Drilla” from Wurzberg, Germany.  That’s right, the man so many had perhaps unjustly labeled soft and unable to lead a team to a championship now sits in the top spot of The Association’s monarchy. 

Mavericks’ legend Mark Aguirre paid Dirk perhaps the highest compliment, “Answer me this: If you switched Dirk with Wade, or Dirk with LeBron, would the Mavs be in the Finals?  No way.”

I must admit, during the first half of the series-clinching Game 6 victory, I was thinking I wouldn’t be able to publish this article; what with Nowitzki languishing in an unfathomable 1-12 shooting funk.  But like so many times before, when the stakes were highest, Dirk was at his best, shrugging off the slump to seal the victory with five clutch buckets in the last 7:22 of the game.

“We’re world champions,” Nowitzki said after taking a private moment to wipe away a few tears of joy in the locker room.  “It sounds unbelievable.”

It wasn’t always this way.  I’ve been an avid Dirk defender over the years, but there have been moments when he just wasn’t able to put this team on his back and lead them over the hump.  In the final three games of the 2006 Finals, Dirk went 20-55 and missed a number of key free throws down the stretch.  In 2007, his MVP season, Nowitzki shot 38% from the field (2-13 in the clinching Game 6) as the Mavs became the first #1 seed to fall to a #8 (Golden State) in a seven-game series.  2008 saw another first-round playoff exit against Chris Paul and the upstart Charlotte Hornets.  The next two seasons would end with second and first round losses, respectively.

This year, there was something different about Dirk.  Perhaps galvanized by past failures, Nowitzki would not be denied.  After a pedestrian regular season by his standards, Dirk turned it up a couple of notches once the playoffs started, playing his best basketball when it mattered most.  When the Mavericks needed a big bucket or clutch free throws to overcome a huge deficit or seal a victory, Dirk delivered.  He was clearly the best player in a postseason that culminated in a championship.     

LeBron's series was sub-par by his standards

Now on to the man Nowitzki supplanted as king.  Last season, in game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Lebron James looked up and came to the perhaps premature realization that no matter how good he played, no matter how many spectacular dunks he threw down, he could never win a championship with the collection of talent around him in Cleveland—so he checked out of the series mentally, and the Cavaliers quickly followed suit.  Lebron will deny it, but if it looks like a duck, sounds like and duck, smells like a duck…

Fast forward a little over a year to the NBA Finals, and the situation is very different, but it’s also the same.  Lebron is a member of the most talented (if not the deepest) team in the league, yet he frequently distanced himself from the front lines of this pitched battle for the NBA Championship, deferring to Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh whenever possible. Actually, James’ fourth-quarter game of hot potato throughout the series was worse than deference, it was desertion.  Pat Riley, Wade and Bosh, are thinking of asking for a $14.5 million refund.  They’re thinking they recruited the wrong superstar.

James was not gracious in defeat, lashing out at his and the Heat’s critics:

“All the people that were rooting me on to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life they had before,” James said. “They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want with me and my family and be happy with that.”

“They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal,” James said. “But they’ll have to get back to the real world at some point.”    

James’ latest big-moment disappearing act prompts us to reevaluate his motives for running out on his home-town-team instead of sticking it out through good times and bad, for better or worse (a-la a certain seven-foot German). Lebron claimed he joined Wade and Bosh in Miami so he could win multiple championships, but now there appears to be more to the equation than that.  It looks more like Bron-Bron couldn’t bear the burden of leadership, of being his team’s hoops messiah.  How else can you explain his habit of fading, no, sprinting into the background when the spotlight is squarely focused on him and him alone?

Compare this to the play of Nowitzki and his own teammate, Dwyane Wade, who combines physical brilliance with mental fortitude and inspirational leadership.  Wade demands the ball at the end of games and James is all too willing to give it to him, especially on the game’s biggest stage.  Confession:  I wrote two versions of this article; the one you are reading, and one proclaiming Wade king if the Heat had won the series.

To be fair, perhaps LeBron James never wanted this mantle that was foisted upon him at the age of 18.  He never dubbed himself “King.”  Whether he wanted it or not, as the most physically-dominant player this game has seen since Wilt Chamberlain, the crown was his to wear.  But now it appears that it was too heavy for those chiseled shoulders to bear.  Who knows, maybe by the time the Kaiser is ready to cede the throne in a few years, LeBron will be ready to take it back.  He need only look at the evolution of one Dirk Nowitzki to find a role model.

But until then, the Mavericks and their fans hope to win another title or two during Dirk’s reign.    

Jason Parker, Blogger for War Room Sports

Monta for Iggy???

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

By Brandon Pemberton

This morning I wake up to check my email and I come across a report by Mark J. Miller of Yahoo sports ( saying that there are strong rumors going around that the Golden State Warriors would be willing to trade guard Monta Ellis to the Philadelphia 76ers for forward/guard Andre Iguodala.   ESPN’s and former NBA point guard Mark Jackson was named head coach last night and the Warriors are looking to make changes to their franchise.  The trade makes some sort of sense for both teams and I’ll tell you why from my point of view.

The Warriors started a talented backcourt of Ellis and 2nd year point guard Stephen Curry, and they were effective offensively.  But their lack of size and defensive ability was a hindrance all season.  Both of them are only 6’2”-6’3” and teams would use their bigger guards to post up and put them in pick and roll situations.  A trade for Iguodala would give the Warriors a bigger wing player to go alongside Curry and a legit defender that this team desperately needs.  Golden State plays an up-tempo type of basketball and Iguodala would be the perfect fit.

The Sixers lacked a legit number one scoring option this season and because Iguodala was the highest paid player, most Sixers fans thought he should be that.  But he’s not, and he caught hell during his career here after he signed that big contract a few years ago, for not developing into the player the Sixers thought he would.  Monta Ellis would give the Sixers a legit scoring option on the perimeter and go to guy.  Ellis has averaged 24.5 ppg over the last two seasons, but has the tendency to take shots early in the shot clock and makes no effort on the defensive end.  He also has three years left on a contract paying him $11 Million per year.

I’m in favor of moving Iguodala for sure, but I don’t want another big contract back in return (like Rudy Gay).  Monta Ellis is a good player, but is he good enough for the Sixers to avoid being a 7 or 8 seed yearly, and make it out of the first round of the playoffs?  The right medley of front office decisions can take you from a laughing stock to a game away from the conference finals (check out the Grizzlies), and even though the Sixers will have to deal with the Miami Heat for the next five years, along with the Bulls and Knicks, they need to make progress.

I’m all about winning it all, not making lateral moves to just stay in the middle of the pack or stay afloat.  The way the NBA is currently structured, the only way to get out of purgatory is to dump salary and/or get lucky in the NBA lottery and make the right draft pick.  The Cleveland Cavaliers have a $14 Million trade exception they can use and if I were the Sixers, I would try my best to ship Iggy’s ass there.  But hey, I’m not the General Manager.  I’m just tired of the circle of mediocrity this franchise has displayed since the trip to the Finals in 2001.  It has been a damn decade and it has to stop.

Brandon Pemberton of Brandon on Sports, Blogger for War Room Sports

2011 NBA Draft Top (American Born) Prospects

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

By Brandon Pemberton

The NBA Draft Lottery was last Tuesday night (May 17) and the Cleveland Cavaliers ended up winning the lottery and have the 1st and 4th picks in the draft.  I’m officially in draft geek mode right now and here are the top 30 draft prospects, in my opinion.  The list has been put together on something I call the “Brandon Pemberton Eye Test”.  Potential, and how the player’s game translates to the NBA.  These are American born college players, as I have watched the Euro leagues, I don’t possess the knowledge on these players like I do college players in the U.S.  Also, let me remind you that the 2011 draft class is a weak class due to potential lottery picks returning to school because of the looming NBA lockout.  The 2011 NBA Draft will take place on June 23rd.

1. Kyrie Irving PG
19 years old, Freshman
6′ 3″ 185lbs.
Duke2. Derrick Williams PF/SF
19 years old, Sophomore
6′ 8″ 235lbs.

3. Enes Kanter PF/C
19 years old, Freshman
6’11″ 261lbs

4. Alec Burks SG
19 years old, Sophomore
6′ 6″ 200lbs.

5. Tristan Thompson PF
20 years old, Freshman
6′ 9″ 235lbs.

6. Brandon Knight PG/SG
19 years old, Freshman
6′ 3″ 185lbs.

7. Kemba Walker PG
21 years old, Junior
6′ 0″ 180lbs.

8. Kawhi Leonard SF
19 years old, Sophomore
6′ 7″ 225lbs.
San Diego State

9. Marcus Morris SF/PF
21 years old, Junior
6′ 8″ 225lbs.

10. Jordan Hamilton SF/SG
20 years old, Sophomore
6′ 7″ 210lbs.

11. Markieff Morris PF
21 years old, Junior
6′ 19″ 245lbs.

12. Klay Thompson SG/SF
21 years old, Junior
6′ 6″ 187lbs.
Washington State

13. Reggie Jackson PG
21 years old, Junior
6′ 3″ 208lbs.
Boston College

14. Tyler Honeycutt SF
20 years old, Sophomore
6′ 8″ 200lbs.

15. Jimmer Fredette PG
22 years old, Senior
6′ 2″ 195lbs.

16. Tobias Harris SF/PF
18 years old, Freshman
6′ 8″ 210lbs.

17. Chris Singleton SF/PF
21 years old, Junior
6′ 8″ 210lbs.
Florida State

18. Kenneth Faried PF
21 years old, Senior
6′ 8″ 225lbs
Morehead State

19. Trey Thompkins PF
20 years old, Junior
6′ 9″ 245lbs.

20. Josh Selby PG/SG
20 years old, Freshman
6′ 2″ 190lbs

21. Travis Leslie SG
21 years old, Junior
6′ 4″ 202lbs

22. Justin Harper PF/SF
21 years old, Senior
6′ 10″ 225lbs

23. Darius Morris PG/SG
20 years old, Sophomore
6′ 4″ 190lbs

24. Nolan Smith PG/SG
22 years old, Senior
6′ 3″ 185lbs.

25. JaJuan Johnson PF
22 years old, Senior
6′ 10″ 215lbs.

26. Jimmy Butler SF/SG
21 years old, Senior
6′ 7″ 220lbs.

27. Norris Cole PG
22 years old, Senior
6′ 2″ 185lbs.
Cleveland St.

28. E’Twaun Moore SG
22 years old, Senior
6′ 4″ 191lbs.

29. Kyle Singler SF/PF
23 years old, Senior
6′ 8″ 210lbs.

30. Shelvin Mack PG
21 years old, Junior
6′ 3″ 215lbs.

Brandon Pemberton, Blogger for War Room Sports

The Miami Heat Are Officially a Problem: How Does It Feel?

Monday, May 16th, 2011

By Roy Burton


This one is for the haters.

For the people who hate LeBron James, despite the fact that he’s one of the best basketball players that you’ve ever seen.  For those who hate Dwyane Wade, who is pretty much just guilty by association at this point.  And even for those who hate Chris Bosh, who swears he’s tough, but in reality comes across as a man who – as Ghostface Killah would say – is softer than baby thighs.

For whatever reason, you may not like Miami’s “Big 3”, and you have every right to do so.  But deep down inside, tucked away in one of those places that you don’t want to talk about, you know the truth.

The Miami Heat are officially a problem.

To all of the haters, doubters and naysayers out there: How does it feel?

How does it feel to know that they’ve finally figured it out?  It took far longer than they (and some of us) expected, despite what they may have said at various points during the season.

But you can’t deny that they’ve turned it up another level this postseason, especially during their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Boston Celtics. 

A team that was routinely criticized as not being clutch came through when they needed to, outscoring the Celtics 55-31 during the 4th quarter and overtime periods of the final two games of the series.

The Miami Heat weren’t passed the torch of Eastern Conference supremacy last week – they ripped it from the Celtics’ old, dead hands.

Most of you don’t want to admit it. Maybe you still have some lingering resentment over “The Decision” (sponsored by Vitamin Water).

We can all agree that it was a poorly managed affair, spearheaded in part by Maverick Carter, who appears to have learned everything he knows about sports management from watching the first two seasons of “Arli$$” on DVD.

But who can blame LeBron for jumping at the chance to go to Miami? As a 26-year-old man, he gets paid an obscene amount of money to work with his friends during the day, and spend his down time enjoying the pleasures of South Beach.  If that’s not the American Dream, then it’s pretty darn close.

That being said, the situation this summer could have been handled better.  10 months later, James realized the error of his ways and apologized for the debacle that was “The Decision” (sponsored by Vitamin Water).  By that time, Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert was done penning missives in Comic Sans font, and busy sifting through the wreckage of a 19-63 season.

Perhaps you’re one of those still upset at the welcoming party/concert announcing the formation of the so-called “3 Kings.”  Shortly after signing the contracts that made their partnership official, James and Wade and Bosh proceeded to pose and preen and peacock their way through the American Airlines arena as they were greeted like rock stars by thousands of adoring Heat fans.

After the laser show ended and the last of the confetti fell from the ceiling, LeBron James made his now infamous “not one, not two, not three…” championship boast, predicting untold success for his new team.

Cocky?  Maybe a little.  But if their recent success is any indication, James might not have been too far off. 

And that bothers you.

It bothers you because your favorite squad probably can’t go the “superteam” route.  I’ve since reconciled the fact that barring an Act of God, my team of choice – the Philadelphia 76ers – can’t come close to a title in the foreseeable future.  I’ve accepted the Sixers’ place in the hierarchy of the NBA and have since moved on.

It might be hard for some people to come to grips with, but the reality is this: for the next few years, the fate of the Eastern Conference – and perhaps the entire NBA – lies in the hands of the Miami Heat.

Back in March, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra mentioned that a couple of his players were crying after the team lost its fourth game in a row.

It’s likely that this summer – and for several summers to come – there will be tears shed in the Miami locker room for an entirely different reason. This time, those tears will be dried with a T-shirt declaring the Miami Heat as the champions of the NBA.

Be mad.


Roy Burton of The Broad Street Line, for War Room Sports

Roy Burton is one of the hosts of “The Broad Street Line”, a weekly sports podcast on Blog Talk Radio (  He also serves as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, and is a contributing writer for several other websites as well.  You can follow him on Twitter at @thebsline.

“He’s the best player in the world, and he may not even be the best player on his team!”
– Dan LeBatard on LeBron James