Posts Tagged ‘Lebron James’

The Cavalier/LA Conspiracy

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

by Brandon McConnell

Brandon Mac Blog

 

 

 

 

 

DL

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: Players to Watch in 2016-2017

Monday, October 31st, 2016

by Josh Fletcher

JF

 

 

 

 

 

 

JE

With the NBA season now officially underway, it is time to start looking for the most interesting players to watch this season. Of course, everyone is excited to see how Durant meshes into Golden State’s squad or how LeBron James will perform in defense of Cleveland’s first title. However, it is even more interesting to keep your eyes on the lesser-known players who are due to breakout this year. Here is a look at some of the most interesting players to track this season in the NBA.

 

Clint Capela

Dwight Howard is gone in Houston, and that means that it is Capela’s show now on defense. He has the unenviable task of trying to be the biggest eraser in the league behind Houston’s porous defense. With the up-tempo nature of new coach Mike D’Antoni’s style, Capela will need to play up to his enormous skill level on defense to keep opponents’ scoring down. On offense, Capela will be a perfect pick-and-roll partner for Harden and should score in bunches in his third season in the league.

 

Doug McDermott

Another third-year player who might have a breakout season this year is McDermott. He had a terrible, injury-plagued rookie season where he only shot 31.7 percent from three-point range. Last year, he stepped it up with a 42.5 percent three-point percentage, and he also averaged 9.4 points in 23 minutes per game.

 

Jabari Parker

When Parker came out of Duke two years ago, everyone figured the second overall pick would start right away. Fate cruelly blew out his ACL early in his rookie season, and his development ground to a halt. Coming back from injury last season, Parker averaged 14.1 points per game. He only shot 35 threes all last season, and he only made nine of those. The word is that he has been working on his outside shooting with a passion during the offseason, and adding a three-point stroke to his game this year could turn him into the superstar everyone expected.

 

D’Angelo Russell

Russell had a good rookie season last year under difficult circumstances. Now that Kobe Bryant is finally gone, the Lakers are Russell’s team. Lakers fans accustomed to excellence could be ready to see it finally return now that Bryant is retired. Russell is the kind of electric young talent with a passion for the game that could bring back the excitement of the Showtime era to Los Angeles. In his first game of the season, Russell went four of ten from behind the arc to lead the Lakers to a 120-114 victory over the Rockets. It should be an exciting year to watch Russell lead a storied franchise back to relevance.

 

Joel Embiid

Embiid was selected third overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2014 draft, and everyone thought he was going to make an instant impact on the league. Well, he did make an instant impact in his first game, scoring 20 points in his debut. Unfortunately, that debut just happened in the 76ers opening game of this season. After two surgeries and a long wait, Embiid could become one of the premier big men in the league if he can just stay healthy.

 

Josh Fletcher, for War Room Sports

The War Room Episode 312

Saturday, June 18th, 2016

Jun 16, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) stares at Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) in the fourth quarter in game six of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland won 115-101. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

 

 

Check out the latest episode of #TheWarRoom (The Best Podcast Since Al Gore Invented The Internet), featuring JRSportBrief, on the #WarRoomSports Podcast Network!

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/war-room-are-legacies-at-stake/id876851099?i=1000370868076&mt=2

Youtube: https://youtu.be/6cb5ul8Xo9E

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/warroomsports/the-war-room-are-legacies-at-stake-during-these-nba-finals-ft-jr-sport-brief-ep-312

BlogTalk: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thewarroom/2016/06/16/are-legacies-at-stake-during-these-nba-finals-ft-jr-sport-brief-ep-312-1

Pocket Casts: http://pca.st/1cnR

LeBron’s Most Defying Year?

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

by C. Bruce

LBJ

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.

Sports is Sanity

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

by Justin Bankers

JB

 

 

 

CK

I don’t know about anyone else’s reasons for loving sports. Entertainment? Passion? Competitive nature? Living a dream that never turned out vicariously through these men/women? Everyone has their reasons. Mine lately, has been sanity.

I’m currently on the home stretch of preparing for my first physique competition. For anyone who has no idea what that’s like, I’ve dropped 23lbs in the past 8 weeks and haven’t consumed a single carb in the last 3 days. The mental determination it takes is more than I thought it would be. I have just over 2 weeks until the competition, which brings more cardio, fewer carbs, and more stress. Which brings me to the topic of this writing. Sanity.

At this moment, sports is what is keeping me sane, keeping my mind off of the stress. Start with the NBA. The storylines are wonderful, but let’s discuss the MVP race. It’s currently more diverse than it has been in years. There are 6 men with legitimate claims to that award, when in years past it’s generally been a 2 man race. Steph Curry, James Harden, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and creeping in the shadows (although he is highly unlikely) is Marc Gasol. I actually saw a comment on an ESPN article that made me laugh. All of the first 5 guys have different “political” claims to the award. LeBron is the “Mass Media” MVP. Curry is the “New face of the NBA” MVP. Harden is “The People’s” MVP. Westbrook and all of his controlled raging glory is the “Writer’s” MVP, while Davis is the “Real” MVP. It all fits when you think about it. My personal pick is Harden. LeBron spent too much time coasting, Curry has alot more help than most people seem to realize, Davis probably won’t make the playoffs, and Westbrook has been insanely good but hasn’t sustained it as long as Harden. Harden is taking a team that really isn’t very good (watch them play, just do it) and dragging them to the top end of a loaded Western Conference. The only way my pick changes is if the Pelicans snag the 8 seed from the Thunder, because that will mean that Anthony Davis just dragged a steaming bag of garbage into the playoffs in the most loaded conference I’ve seen in quite some time.

Then you have the NFL. Holy offseason storylines. I’m not used to NFL offseasons being this crazy. McCoy traded away, the Patriots lost Revis already and are potentially losing Brandon Browner too. Big names who were the faces of their franchise for so long are no longer with those franchises, and Chip Kelly is slowly turning the Philadelphia Eagles into the Oregon Ducks. I wonder how many Red Bulls Adam Schefter is surviving on right now.

On top of those 2 monster sports, we are entering Tournament time in the NCAA with a potential perfect season on the way from Kentucky, and any wrestling fan is excited about this road to Wrestlemania with good matches lined up and finally a strong talent pool. Not to mention MLB Spring Training starting up and the NHL rolling in full force.

All of this excitement could not come at a better time for me. The next 2 weeks are going to be stressful, but I have ALOT of fantastic things to look forward to.

And Dwight Howard is a walking vagina. You’re welcome B.

 

Justin Bankers, for War Room Sports

Melanin Mount Rushmore

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

by OGICIC

MMR

I’ll be honest, I’ve never participated in the “Kobe v. LeBron” or “Kobe v. MJ” debates and I’ve refrained for a simple reason. None of the aforementioned names come anywhere close to being the “greatest” in basketball. I love Floyd Mayweather and he has a success story which is filled with hard work and dedication, yet in still he can never be the “greatest”. I just watched the Super Bowl and was rooting for the Patriots, though after the victory I refused to engage in the “is Tom Brady the greatest?” discussion. Why? Because the greatest is named Jim Brown! The greatest in basketball are named Bill Russell & Kareem Abdul-Jabbar! The greatest boxer is named Muhammad Ali!

How do I define greatness, or the “greatest”? I define it by one’s performance on and off the field. To be the “greatest” means that you persevered through far more than anyone else, emerged victorious and uncompromised. How can Michael Jordan, or LeBron James, or Kobe Bryant be the “greatest”? I’ve never heard of MJ speaking up for the inner city youth that die for his shoes, much less the Chinese youth that make them. I appreciate LeBron’s speaking up on issues and his philanthropic efforts, but how does any of that exist without Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? If we are to talk hardware, Bill Russell won 11 NBA championships and did so as both a player and coach in one of the most racially hostile cities in America (Boston). Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (aka Mr. Never White America’s Negro) won 6 NBA championships. If we are to talk about more than championships, Bill and Kareem have been avid advocates and spokespersons for Melanin/Hebrew/African-American people! They stood with boxing’s “greatest” Muhammad Ali, as he took on the racist and biased institution.

Jim Brown? Well he only won 1 NFL Championship, yet his fight of racism and injustice, his youth work and his constant advocacy have more diamonds in them than any ring!!!!

Thats how I define greatness……so sorry….MJ never has a chance, Kobe not even close, LeBron (I guess we can wait and see) can be 3rd at best! Brady, no way, Montana, never heard of him. Marshawn………heeeeyyyyy……..ask Jim about that one!

Zachariah Ysaye Oluwa Bankole “OGICIC”, for War Room Sports

The Future of Team USA

Friday, August 8th, 2014

by Jon Carroll

DrJonCarroll.final2

 

 

 

Is doubt creeping in for NBA players regarding USA Basketball? (Image via 8points9seconds.com)

Is doubt creeping in for NBA players regarding USA Basketball?
(Image via 8points9seconds.com)

Even before seeing Paul George’s gruesome injury during last Saturday’s Team USA scrimmage in preparation for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, I was thinking of writing something about the future of NBA players and their involvement in the Olympic process.  It started with NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, Kawhi Leonard, deciding not to play, followed by LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin and then Kevin Love.  Just as I was about to send this in, a big shoe dropped as Kevin Durant withdrew from the team.  LeBron James, the most notable player in the game, is not playing in 2014, and I would be surprised if he returned to Team USA for a fourth Olympics in 2016.  Ever since the 2004 Olympics, when a then nineteen year-old LeBron earned a Bronze medal, the National team, directed by Jerry Colangelo has developed a program where players make a three-year commitment so that when the players take the floor at an Olympics or World Cup, they will have had more than a three-week training camp as preparation.  It is because of this program that I am confident that Team USA can continue to excel in international competition moving forward without having to tap the superstars of the league for service over and over again.

While it was somewhat eye-opening to see Kawhi Leonard turn down the opportunity to increase his stardom by being a key member of this World Cup team, it is not all that surprising given whom he plays for and who his teammates are.  The San Antonio Spurs make it clear through their actions that they are all about the playoffs and championships.  Coach Gregg Popovich rests players during the regular season with no real concern of the opponent, occasion, or potential consequences he may face from the league office.  It is clear that Leonard has gotten the message and sees international play as a hindrance to that goal.  If you look at the output of his teammates, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli in the 2012-13 season after both played in the Olympics, it is hard to argue that the extra games in the Olympic tournament did not take a toll after playing another 90+ games before losing in the Finals to the Heat.  This was particularly true for Ginobli who posted career-low numbers.  Kevin Durant noted in his statement about not playing, “I need to take a step back and take some time away, both mentally and physically in order to prepare for the upcoming NBA season.”  As an NBA fan, I would much rather see players with this mindset and in peak condition for NBA playoff competition than summer international tournaments.  The NBA has enough depth of talent that if you tweak the current program slightly, you still have enough talent to field a quality team without putting the top stars at risk when they are already playing nearly 100 games per season.  International play is also a chance for young NBA talent to develop and get a running start into their young NBA careers.

The main suggestion I put forth is to limit the number of Olympic cycles that players can make on the National team to two.  In this way, by the time a player makes his second team, he is just entering his prime and can focus on his NBA career without the extra wear and tear of summer competition.  This would save someone like Stephen Curry, who has been injury-prone, from having to shoulder the offensive burden in this upcoming World Cup in favor of younger stars like Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal and Anthony Drummond, all of whom are 21 or younger.  Speaking of age, I would suggest bringing the age limit back down to 22.  Yes, having a younger team puts the USA in a position like 2004 where a young nucleus of James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade were outplayed by more experienced teams.  However, with the global popularity of the NBA, it serves their purposes better to send emerging talent to international tourneys and risk losing than to put extra wear and tear on the bodies of the most marketable superstars.  Here’s what a 22 and under squad could look like for the World Cup:

Guards
Kyrie Irving
Trey Burke
Victor Oladipo
Elfrid Payton
Tim Hardaway, Jr
Bradley Beal
Forwards
Jabari Parker
Doug McDermott
Aaron Gordon
Centers
Anthony Davis
Mitch McGary
Andre Drummond

We are quickly moving out of the era where international stars are comfortable playing at home in other leagues and then representing their countries in international play, which has been the biggest threat to American teams over the years.  There are very few Arvydas Sabonis’ running around these days who wait to come to the NBA.  International stars now come to the NBA as quickly as possible so over time, the idea of a team that has played together for years being able to beat USA all-stars has quickly eroded.  I hope that a change comes before we reach a situation like we had in 2004 where thirty players were invited to the team before a full roster could be assembled.

 

Jon Carroll, for War Room Sports

Takeaways from Game 6 of the NBA Finals

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

By Chris Price

B-ball fans, I didn’t get a chance to watch Heat-Spurs Game 6 the other night.  I was in the midst of a great camping trip with the wife, but we both caught the second half of the game on ESPN radio.  Just got a chance to watch the recorded game earlier, and I must say this was a good one.  The game made me mull over some things and I wanted to make a couple of observations.  Bear with me.

“Are you willing to go down the stretch of an elimination game with your second best player sitting on the bench to put more shooting around your best player? Tough decisions if you’re a coach.” – Jeff Van Gundy, when Dwyane Wade subbed in for Mike Miller at 3:48 left in the 4th quarter

The lineup that brought the Heat back from down 10 at the beginning of the 4th to up 3 later in the quarter was Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, Mike Miller, LeBron, and Birdman.  JVG noted this was also the lineup that blew open Game 2 for them… Miami’s best lineup might contain only one member of their “Big 3”.  Take a minute to let that sink in. Miami’s best lineup might contain only one member of their Big 3.  When D Wade came back into the game, LeBron stopped being as aggressive, some chemistry seemed lost, and the Spurs eventually took the lead.

The Takeaways…

A. Been told y’all from the beginning “The Decision” was not a good look, on multiple levels.  The same people who were championing The Big 3 coming together are the same people now talking about trading Wade (a Top 5, 10, 15, 20 player, however you want to look at it) or bringing him off the bench so that he doesn’t bother LeBron’s rhythm… So that the Heat can be more effective… Because they are not as effective with both of them in the game.

B. The Cavs management were not as dumb we thought.  In Cleveland, LeBron had shooters to space the floor, post defenders, rebounders, and finishers. That’s all he needs, or seems to want to play with.  I don’t ever want to hear “LeBron needs help” again.  He doesn’t need the type of player you might naturally think he does to win with his current style of play.  He is playing with two perennial All-Stars and has yet to make either one of them better or find a workable chemistry with either.  Who he is “making better” and finding greater success with is his team’s role players.  He is playing at his best, and most comfortably, with a solid point guard, two shooters, and a rebounder/finisher.

C. Dwyane, LeBron, and Bosh have never had great offensive chemistry.  The only way they all worked was by them (primarily Dwyane and LeBron) creating havoc on defense, creating steals and getting out and running in transition.  When they are not creating turnovers, or when a team is able to stop their transition offense, they limit their effectiveness (at least in how they want to play).  This is how you have a Ray Allen looking like he’s possibly more effective than Dwyane Wade for any stretch of time.  Ray Allen has value just standing in a half-court set without the ball (he stretches the defense); Dwyane Wade does not.

D. The Heat will not be able to play their most effective lineups for the majority of Game 7 because there is no way Erik Spoelstra is going to bench Dwyane Wade. There is no way he is going to play Bosh for 20 or less minutes.  Conversely, there is no way he is going to bench LeBron for 10-15 minutes to let Wade work (also a slightly positive +/- against the Spurs without LeBron on the floor). Because of real life dynamics, the Heat will probably try to win Game 7 using less efficient lineups… They have more talent than the Spurs but worse chemistry. We’ll see which one wins out tonight.  The Heat still have a good chance because their talent is supreme and they are playing at home; We’ll see how it goes.

E. I only heard part of the 3rd and the 4th quarter of the game on the radio the other night, so I thought LeBron went into superhero mode in that 4th quarter. When I went back and watched the game though, I realized that he didn’t; he just played comfortable LeBron James basketball with that particular Chalmers, Allen, Birdman, Miller lineup.  Now some people think LeBron is a superhero anyway so this could all be semantics, but I didn’t see a guy taking over the game.  I saw a guy who was able to do what he does because of space, and knowing he was the 1st and 2nd best offensive option on the floor.  LeBron just “did him” in that 8 minute stretch before Wade came in, and the result was a 13 point swing in favor of Miami.

F. Oh yeah, and as far as him choking or almost choking at the end of regulation, I can’t even call what I saw choking.  Because I’m used to seeing LeBron tentative from time to time.  In the last couple minutes of the game, he went back to looking like he did in Games 2 and 3.  To me, “choking” refers to a guy being visibly shaken by the moment and nerves causing you to play at a level below what you are capable of. Choking to me is not missing shots or making bad passes.  For instance, vs. Indiana Game 2 where Lebron made two late turnovers, I did not consider that a choke.  LeBron was still being aggressive but just made two poor passes; it was poor execution.  In Game 6 though, the turnovers he made were because he was being tentative.  On the first turnover, he over-dribbled and on the second, I literally don’t know if he was trying to pass or shoot.  His reactions to both of those turnovers further let me know these weren’t just poor execution turnovers.  On the same hand though, I don’t know if you can “choke” and win the game.  And even though he shot those late 3-pointers with what looked liked 20% confidence, one of them joints went in.  If Ray Allen didn’t hit that corner three, it would have been a Cruel Summer, but I can’t say LeBron choked because his team won the game… AND LeBron did hit the three to cut it to 2 with 20 seconds left.  He’s got to get credit for that.  And after that he was very comfortable in the overtime and was key to helping his team win this game in that period.  In my opinion, no choke should be credited.

Y’all enjoy Game 7.

 

How LeBron James Stacks Up to the Greats (Part 2)

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

by Chris Price

 

Dream Matchup

(Editor’s note – If you haven’t read part one of this series, please read it HERE prior to reading this article)

 

So here is the other side of the story.  Ongoing discussion about LeBron James’ place in history has lead me to explore the other side of the argument.  Bear with me as I take a look at three of the biggest arguments for LeBron James being the best to ever do it.

 

#1 – Today’s NBA is the best that it’s ever been, and LeBron James stands head and shoulders above the rest of the players in this generation.
I’ll concede the second part of this argument without hesitation.  At this point, LeBron James has established himself as being CLEARLY better than the rest the guys in his generation; guys that include Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, and even the slightly younger guys like Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, and Russell Westbrook.  I think most basketball fans would agree.  Let’s explore the second part of the assertion though.

The argument for today’s NBA being better than past decades stems from the growth of AAU basketball, advancements in training and nutrition, a global talent pool, and the notion that a lot more of our talented U.S. athletes are choosing to play basketball.

Well, after just a little bit of pondering, I’m gonna call the “era argument” a wash. Since 1988 the NBA has added 6 more expansion teams.  That’s 90 roster spots.  At the start of the 2012-2013 NBA season, there were 84 international players on rosters.  No less jobs for American players.  And let’s look at those American players. We are seeing some phenomenal athletes, but how many great basketball players are we seeing?  With less time today learning the game on the college level than players 20-30 years ago, are our top basketball prospects really becoming great basketball players?  In many cases, yes. “One and done” guys like Durant, Love, and Kyrie are excellent, but lets look at some of our top big men.  Would Dwight Howard, arguably today’s best center, be as standout a center 20 years ago playing in an era of great centers?  Would Blake Griffin, a 2nd Team All NBA performer this season, be able to do what he does against more skilled, more PHYSICAL power forwards from the 1980s, under rules that allowed more physicality?  That’s something to think about.  I feel pretty confident in saying that LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and Tony Parker would have been great playing in any era, but I also feel confident that what Michael Jordan and Karl Malone showed us a decade ago as 40-year olds was indicative of great command of the game.  If you’re gonna give Shaq and Kobe credit for their 3-peat at the turn of the century, you gotta give Mike and Karl credit for having legitimate All-Star seasons at the same time, all while playing at or around 40 years of age.  Now I truly respect the great players of today, but nothing I see or have seen is telling me that guys of yesteryear didn’t have serious game.  Let’s call it a wash on the era argument, and therefore taking nothing from and adding nothing to LeBron James’ accomplishments in today’s NBA.

 

#2 – Don’t Compare Careers; Compare Peaks!
Now this is something pretty interesting that I’ve heard.  It’s actually intriguing to me. Instead of trying to compare LeBron James’ career to the lofty standards of efficient legendary careers like….
Michael Jordan: 6 championships in 13 Chicago seasons, 6/6 in NBA Finals, 6 NBA Finals MVPs
Magic Johnson: 5 championships in 13 seasons, 5/9 in NBA Finals, 3 NBA Finals MVPs

…compare their peaks instead.  (By the way, Larry Bird won 3 championships in 13 seasons, and went 3/5 in NBA Finals.  LeBron might be knocking on that door here soon)

So the argument is this: Is LeBron today better than Mike as his best?  Is LeBron today better than Magic at his best?  Is he better than Larry at his best?  Some LeBron supporters will say that he can do what those guys can do but he’s bigger. I would disagree.  I would say each of those guys did something better than LeBron.  But I DO notice that LeBron may be the second best in a lot of categories compared to these guys.

Out of MJ, Magic, Larry, and LeBron, here’s who has the edge in each category by the stats and by the eye test.

Scoring: Michael

Passing: Magic

Rebounding: Larry

Defense: LeBron or Michael

Offensive Efficiency: Magic/Michael (LeBron?)

LeBron may be the second best scorer of the group.  He is certainly second by career and peak scoring average.  LeBron may be the second best passer of the group.  He has the edge in assist average as well over Mike and Larry.  Larry is clearly the best rebounder of the group, and Magic actually may be second.  But LeBron has an argument for that too. On defense, we know Michael at one point was as good as they come on the perimeter. However LeBron has been noted as a more versatile defender because of his size.  I’m not here to debate whether he is or isn’t a better defender than Michael, but either way he’s up there as one of the best defenders we have seen that didn’t play the center position. He’s either first or second in defense out of the group of 4.  And finally, LeBron posted an incredible 56.5% FG percentage this year; something only Magic has matched in his career. Magic owns the higher peak assist to turnover ratio, and Michael owns the higher career Player Efficiency Rating (PER).  Michael actually owns the highest PER in NBA history.  But you know who is number 2 all time in PER? LeBron.

A lot of pundits will credit the older guys with high intangibles; leadership, competitiveness, toughness, basketball IQ, “clutch” factor, etc.  As somebody who doesn’t consider himself a “Witness”, but rather just a basketball fan, I can acknowledge that LeBron is truly putting it all together and most, if not all, of his mental/emotional hang-ups are in the past.  He’s improving in every significant intangible category in my eyes and in the eyes of many.

So maybe a guy who isn’t known for one specific skill but who can do everything very well has a good peak argument.  If nothing else Lebron’s attributes and statistical achievements (as well as the fact that he is now a champion) leave the door open for debate for those who want to go there.

 

#3 – There has been no other player like LeBron James in history.  His combination of talent, size, athleticism, and skill has never been seen before.
Now this one is one I’ve heard a lot.  You probably have too.  Is it true?  Well, yes…it is true.  But isn’t that true for all the GOAT candidates?

Kareem was a 7’2″ player with an unstoppable shot, the skyhook.  Had we seen something like the skyhook before, and have we since?

Wilt Chamberlain, Shaq, Magic, Duncan, Olajuwon, Robertson are all pretty unique players to me.  You can say that LeBron is bigger than all of the perimeter guys, and more athletic, but is he truly a bigger version?  Meaning, the same skills but just bigger, stronger, quicker, etc?  I say nah.  He’s not gonna have the footwork or smooth post game of MJ or Kobe, or the quick change of direction of…you know what, it doesn’t even matter.  If LeBron can continue to do LeBron and continue to create his own lane, he won’t have to worry about comparisons with anyone.

Peep this.  The cool thing about LeBron coming into the league at 18, and being the exact opposite of an injury-prone player, and being very-very good, is that he has a chance to break a looooot of records.  He already has 4 MVPs at age 28. Kareem has the record with 6 MVPs.  Can he snag 2 or 3 or more MVPs in his career?  He has a good shot at it.  LeBron also has just over 21,000 points for his career.  Kareem has that record also at  38, 387.  If LeBron keeps up his current rate of 27.6 PPG and stays healthy, he can catch Kareem at age 36.  And even if he doesn’t do that he can catch Jordan’s career number at age 33, at his current pace.  Pretty wild.

Now granted, when a lot of people think about Magic, Michael or Larry, they might be thinking about championships or the special way they played the game.  The big shots. The big games.  Some people don’t think LeBron will ever match what those guys brought to the table.  Even if that is your stance, what if you are looking at a guy who has a chance to rewrite greatness in terms of records upon records, plus high-level defense, plus mind-blowing stats, plus a few rings…

With all of the things LeBron has already accomplished in his short career, and all the potential of what is to come, at the end of the day when you sit back and look at the body of work, could it be enough?

 

Chris Price, for War Room Sports

How LeBron James Stacks Up to the Greats (Part 1)

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

by Chris Price

 

A conversation with a LeBron fan the other day made me want to address three issues I have with the logic of many LeBron James fans.

 

#1 – Choose whether LeBron James is a young phenom or an NBA veteran.

Here’s what I mean.  When comparing him to other great players, sometimes he did things younger, and sometimes he’s a veteran.  When comparing him to Michael Jordan for example, people say LeBron won a championship at age 27, when Michael won his first at age 28.  Well, since LeBron came into the league at 18 and Jordan at 21, Michael actually won his first in his seventh season and Lebron won his in his ninth.  But LeBron fans will ignore years played in that instance.

When comparing him to Larry Bird however, it’s “look at the numbers LeBron put up in his tenth season. What did Larry do in his tenth season?”  Since LeBron came into the league at 18, in Lebron’s tenth season he is 28 years old, in the prime of his career.  Since Larry came into the league at 22, in his tenth season he was 32 years old, already in decline from age and back injury. LeBron fans will ignore age in this instance.

If you look at age however, Larry Bird’s season at age 28 (28.7 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 6.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, 52% FG, 43% 3PFG, 88% FT, League MVP) compares very well with LeBron’s season at age 28 (26.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 7.3 APG, 1.7 SPG, 57% FG, 41% 3PFG, 75% FT, League MVP).  When you compare apples to apples, LeBron is not blowing these legends out the water.

#2 – Lebron being more athletic than other players doesn’t mean he is clearly better than other players. Athleticism is not the standard for basketball achievement, but it can help.

If you look at Larry Bird, he was never even near the most athletic player on the court, but he was one of the dominant figures in the golden age of basketball.  Dude won three straight MVPs and three championships in the 80s, an era where Magic, Kareem, Dominique, Michael, Isiah, and Moses Malone were putting in their work.

If you look at Kevin Love today, how often is he the most athletic player on the court?  Never; but he averaged 26 and 13 last season because he eats glass and he has a high basketball IQ.  And getting back to Larry, Larry has a higher rebound percentage than LeBron for his career, which tracks what percentage of available rebounds a player is getting.  So no, if LeBron played in the ’80s, he wouldn’t have averaged 15 rebounds, because he just doesn’t rebound at that level.  Not a knock on him, it just is what it is.  Stop assuming because LeBron is more athletic he would dominate.  Did his athleticism help him dominate the 2011 NBA Finals, a series in which the Heat clearly had the two most athletic players on the floor?  No.  Athleticism CAN help you, but doesn’t necessarily make you the better ball player.  As fans of the game, LeBron fans have to realize this.  History has proven it time and time again.

#3 – Stop acting like LeBron is the only player to put up outlandish stats and compile accolades as a young player.  LeBron IS a very special player, but he is by no means the MOST special player in terms of career achievement and stats, at this point. 

Below are the CAREER averages of Magic, Larry, Michael, and LeBron James, which include “fall-off” years for the first three.  Remember that LeBron is still in his peak years and his final career averages will probably be slightly lower than what they are now, like with all players.

Magic Johnson
19.5 PPG, 11.2 APG, 7.2 RPG, 1.9 SPG, 52% FG, 30% 3PFG, 85% FT

Young Player Swag: Won NBA Championship AND NBA Finals MVP as a Rookie, Started NBA All-Star Game as a rookie, had two Finals MVPs by age 22.

Larry Bird
24.3 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.7 SPG, 49.6% FG, 38% 3PFG, 89% FT

Young Player Swag: NBA All-Star AND 1st Team All-NBA as a ROOKIE, Won NBA Championship in his 2nd year.

Michael Jordan
30.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.3 APG, 2.3 SPG, 49.7% FG, 33% 3PFG, 84% FT

Young Player Swag: All-Star Starter AND 2nd Team All-NBA as a rookie, won NBA Defensive Player of the Year at age 25.

LeBron James (career up to now)
27.6 PPG, 6.9 APG, 7.3 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 49.0 FG%, 34% 3PFG, 75% FT

Young Player Swag: Youngest player to win FOUR NBA MVPs (age 28), youngest player to be selected to All-NBA 1st Team (21), youngest player to record a triple double (18).

LeBron James has a lot of “youngest” records, but part of that is due to the fact that most greats did not have the opportunity to enter the league straight out of high school like LeBron.  They could have tried, but either would not have been drafted or not drafted as high, messing up the money.  But as soon as these other greats got to the league at 20 (Magic), 21 (Michael), and 22 (Larry), they were putting in major work, as you can clearly see.

It is arguable that LeBron James has the “best” statistical averages out of these great perimeter players, but it is also very arguable that he does not.  And remember his numbers are still at peak, and will probably sink slightly before he retires, just like they did for the other guys.  He’s a “great”, but no matter how you look at it he is not blowing these guys out of the water just yet.

Chris Price for War Room Sports