Posts Tagged ‘MVP’

The New England Patriots are Super Bowl Champions for a 5th Time!!!

Monday, February 6th, 2017

TB

For New England Patriots Super Bowl LI gear, click HERE or click the link below.
New England Patriots Super Bowl Championship Gear

Ode to the Birdman

Monday, December 12th, 2016

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

LB

This past Wednesday was the 60th birthday of Larry Bird.

For those of you too young to have actually watched him play, trust me, he was a bad man. Not a

bad man for a white guy. A bad man, period!

I never agreed with the infamous Dennis Rodman statement.

He was not a basketball version of Adele.

Did he have more fans for being a stand out white guy in a “black man’s game”? Of course. But that

speaks to the popularity of white privilege in America. It is neither an indictment or validation of him

as a basketball player any more than Trump’s election is an indication of what kind of statesmen he

is.

But in spite of being a life-long die-hard Laker fan, unlike a certain group of haters today, I have

enough emotional maturity to give credit where credit was due.

The Celtics win over a clearly superior Lakers team in 84 was among the most painful of my sports

life. It does not happen without Larry Bird.

 

That year would be his first of 3 straight MVP years.  While I’ll go to my grave insisting that Bernard

King should have won the 1985 award, Bird’s place in the game was nevertheless secure.

More than a little can be learned about Bird’s mindset and mental toughness coming up when he

would go to Chicago playgrounds where he learned the “city game.” He always expressed

appreciation for being “allowed” to play with them.

Allowed is the right word.

If you know anything about the culture of inner-city basketball, be it in New York, Philly, DC, or Chicago, you know they do not let just anyone play on a regular basis. It’s a sports version of the Apollo and if you can’t cut it, no one is shy or sensitive about letting you know.

The Birdman could clearly cut it as the NBA would soon find out.

So here is an ode to one of the coldest assassin’s in sports history: Larry Joe Bird.

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

LEICESTER CITY, STEPH CURRY, AND THE ALL MADRID FINALS II

Monday, May 16th, 2016

by Nwaji Jibunoh

Nwaji Blog

 

 

 

 

As we get into the business end of the sports season, you find that times are changing with some intriguing accomplishments occurring.

Denver's stingy defense helps "The Sheriff" ride off into the sunset a champion. (Photo courtesy of FoxBusiness.com)

Denver’s stingy defense helps “The Sheriff” ride off into the sunset a champion.
(Photo courtesy of FoxBusiness.com)

In the 2015/2016 sports calendar year, we have already seen Peyton Manning and The Denver Broncos crowned Super Bowl Champions after an incredible defensive display against the Cam Newton-led Carolina Panthers.

In as much as the lead up to the Super Bowl was quite exciting and the emergence of Cam Newton as an elite Quarterback was something to note, special mention needs to go out to other fascinating accomplishments occurring in other sporting events.

EPL Champions - Leicester City

EPL Champions – Leicester City

Let us begin with the English Premiership. At the conclusion of the 2014/2015 season, a little known club located in the East Midland of England finished in 14th place in a league with only 20 clubs. A little known club that nobody truly ranked and were given a whopping 5000/1 Odds to win the title the following season. That little known club are currently the champions of England and that little known club is Leicester City. To put things in context, let us use a case study for the odds that the bookies put in play at the beginning of the season. A lifetime Leicester City supporter put a 50 pounds ($30) bet on those odds of 5000/1 to win the title. That lifetime supporter cashed out on a take home prize of 250,000 pounds ($166,000). What has been accomplished by this club who had a spending budget of 52m pounds ($32.5M) in comparison to the likes of Manchester City (411m – $274M), Manchester United (391m – $260M), and Chelsea (298m – $198M) is something that has never ever been witnessed in British football. Leicester City took advantage of a slow methodology of playing every single game to win and taking advantage of lackluster performances from the other big clubs. Credit goes out to their manager (Claudio Ranieri) and star players James Vardy (who only a few years ago was combining his playing time while working part-time as a technician making medical splints) and Riyad Mahrez (a relatively unknown Algerian now among the English Premier League elites).

As we talk about this great accomplishment in sports by Leicester City, we cannot go any further without mentioning what Wardell Stephen “Steph” Curry has done in the NBA this year. Let us look at some quick numbers to put things into perspective. In the 2014/2015 season where he was crowned MVP and also won the NBA championship, his numbers were as follows:

Regular Season – 23.8 ppg. Playoffs – 28.3 ppg. Total number of three pointers made – 286.

This season, his numbers are:

30 ppg and he made 402 three pointers. I will say that again….402. The only other player to come close was Ray Allen with 289 and we all know him to be a three point genius. Steph Curry has

Stephen Curry hoists his second consecutive MVP trophy prior to Game 5 of the second round of the Western Conference Semifinals vs. the Portland Trail Blazers at Oracle Arena.  (Photo courtesy of Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

Stephen Curry hoists his second consecutive MVP trophy prior to Game 5 of the second round of the Western Conference Semifinals vs. the Portland Trail Blazers at Oracle Arena.
(Photo courtesy of Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

completely redefined basketball and the point guard position, and he makes shots from pretty much anywhere he wants to. He controls the tempo of the court and pulls out perimeter defenders, allowing other players such as Klay Thompson and Draymond Green to make significant contributions. The Conference Finals this year will see some exciting matchups with Golden State taking on Oklahoma City Thunder as perennial All-Stars (Curry, Thompson, Green, Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka) will dominate the highlights in the best of 7 series. On the East Coast, it looks like Cleveland with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, back at this stage of the competition healthy, will compliment the enigma that is LeBron James. We will most likely see the Cavs steamroll pass the Toronto Raptors to meet the best of the West.

UEFA Champions League Final - Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid - May 28th, 2016

UEFA Champions League Final – Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid – May 28th, 2016

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid both finished in second and third positions in the Spanish La Liga. They were edged out by Barcelona but not before Barcelona suffered successive defeats to both clubs in the El Classcio and Champions League semifinals. These two clubs are Spanish power houses and are getting ready to battle it out in the Champions League Finals. This is not the first time we are going to have an “All Madrid Final”. In 2014, we saw these two clubs battle it out with Real Madrid emerging victorious. The Star man then and now and 3 time Ballon D’or (World Footballer of the Year) recipient, Cristiano Ronaldo is of course the centre of attraction. The last time these two teams met, Ronaldo was breaking records with an astonishing 51 goals. He has achieved that milestone again this season and goes into this final fully charged and poised to pick up his 3rd UEFA Champions League trophy. It will not be easy as Diego Simeone and his Atletico Madrid team, that play a high tempo coordinated style of Spanish football, will be looking to get revenge against their 2014 finalist fellow city rivals. These two teams have already met twice this season with Atletico winning one game and the other game ending in a tie. The UEFA Champions League Final which will be played at the San Siro Stadium in Milan, Italy will be an explosive encounter come May 28th.

All in all, it has been an exciting year so far with so much more to play as we have the NBA Finals, UCL Finals, and the European Championships.

Sports fans, eat your heart out as the games will always continue to bring nothing but sheer entertainment and exhilarating excitement….

 

Nwaji Jibunoh, International Correspondent for War Room Sports

Located in Lagos, Nigeria, Nwaji Jibunoh is War Room Sports’ International Soccer Contributor.  Nwaji also contributes commentary on U.S. sports from an international perspective.  He’s an Atlanta Falcons fan, Howard University alum, and former tight end for the North Atlanta High School Warriors.

Bryce Harper was not the NL MVP and this is why.

Friday, November 20th, 2015

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

May 10, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) at bat against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

May 10, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) at bat against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper was the best player in the National League in 2015….perhaps in all of baseball.

Bryce Harper was not the most valuable player in the National League and that was not his fault.

This is not about hating on Bryce Harper. I love the way the he plays the game. He combines Pete Rose’s mindset with Mickey Mantle power. In all my years of going to see baseball games, he is the only player that I have seen hit multiple upper deck homers. One was in the playoffs against my Giants (I did not particularly love him at that exact moment) and the other was against the Dodgers. You can imagine how much that endeared him to me. Early in the year his improved pitch selection and overall plate discipline forecasted trouble for pitchers. When a guy with his power restricts his swings to strikes, the results are career highs in both homers and walks both nearly double previous highs.

My liking him or not liking him has nothing to do with my case. At the heart of it all is the failure of the baseball, and sports writer culture to make a distinction between the best player and the most valuable player. So lets do that now.

The most valuable player is the player whose team’s level of success would be least likely without! A key provision would be team’s level of success. Subsequently if the team had little or no success, how valuable could any one player have been? Apparently not valuable enough for 2014 NL manager of the year Matt Williams because he got fired.

It’s at this point when the baseball sabermetric zombies will cite Harper’s WAR (Wins Above Replacement) stat which was 9.9, round it up to 10 wins which is outstanding under any assessment. Simply put that means without Bryce Harper this past season, instead of winning 83 games, the Nats would have only won 73 games. If our task is to measure value in the context of the team’s success to that I say, WHO CARES? How valuable can any one player be on a team that regressed 13 games from the previous season?

If we look at Harper’s value from a pure costs benefit analysis, it’s a more compelling case than pure baseball statistics in that he greatly out performed his $2.5 million salary for the year. He does not hit arbitration until 2017 and free agency in 2019. Unless he dramatically regresses, the Nats will have to pay for their 2015 bargain with the highest arbitration award in the history of the game in 2017 and highest contract ever to keep him in 2019 when they will surely be competing with his childhood favorite team the Yankees. They may decide to do that but to this point, what do they have to show for it? In football both Seattle with Russell Wilson and Baltimore with Joe Flacco illustrate cautionary tales in paying to compensate past bargains at the expense of addressing other team needs. But at least their decisions can be defended by the players value to their winning a championship.

Part of this challenge is the inconsistent history of what the writers are actually looking for in the MVP. The process also reeks with personal gripes, surely at times stemming from which guy gave them interviews when they wanted one. Go back to 1983 when the Orioles won it all, led by both Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken. Either would have been valid MVP choices. Cal finished 1 and Murray 2. No secret that Cal was much more amenable to media than Murray. Murray was arguably the most feared hitter in the league, a switch hitter with power and a clutch rep similar to what we have seen with David Ortiz in recent years. He hit 4th behind Cal which insured Cal was not being pitched around. Consider the assessment of teammate and Hall of Famer Jim Palmer when asked who he believes should have won that award, “Eddie Murray missed 7 games that year. We lost every one of them!”

Fast forward to 1989. Cecil Fielder leads the league in homers and RBIs and is first to hit over 50 (51) since 1977. He finished second in the MVP voting, losing out to Rickey Henderson. The general writers’ response to his losing to Henderson was that Henderson played for a contending team. The next year, Cal wins his second MVP on an Oriole team that finishes in 6th place over Cecil Fielder and his league leading 44 homers and 133 RBIs for the second place Tigers.

So which is it?

The point is as great as Harper was in 2015, his absence from the Nat’s would have been no more than a distinction without a difference on what really matters: winning! On the other hand, does anyone think the Cubs get to the NLDS without Jake Arietta? Would the Mets have made it to the World Series without Yohanes Cespedes? The answer is no on both counts and that is what value is all about.

The basic resolution is two awards: a Most Valuable Player award which must be tied to the players contribution to the teams NOTEWORTHY SUCCESS and a Player of the Year award which can be driven by statistical production alone. Pitchers would not be eligible for player of the year. There is a Cy Young and Firemen’s awards for them. All players are eligible for MVP. In theory a player can win both. An example of when the awardees should have been split would have been 1987. Andre Dawson was the best player in the league that year leading the league with 49 homers and 137 RBIs…….for the last place Cubs that finished 18.5 games out of first place. He won the MVP that year. So were the voters saying without him they would have finished in 7th place? Hell there were only 6 teams in the division. Meanwhile Ozzie Smith didn’t hit a home run all year……but he drove in 80 and batted .303 while playing his routinely great short stop for an offensively challenge Cardinal team that advanced to the World Series. That’s value and due to no fault of his own, Bryce simply did not have that for a historically underachieving Nationals team this year.

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

SLOW YOUR ROLL ON THE CONSPIRACY STUFF

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

(Image via Colorlines.com)

(Image via Colorlines.com)

Hell no, [Roger] Goodell and the league didn’t want Marshawn [Lynch] to win the [Super Bowl XLIX] MVP.  But Vegas did not do well since most of the public and underground money was on New England.  The other factor is that there is no guarantee that sports writers would have voted for him anyway.  Journalists have a long history of being vindictive against any athlete that does not accommodate them.  The great Ted Williams had TWO triple-crown seasons in which he did not win league MVP.  Hall of Famer Eddie Murray never won the MVP and I still contend though in a losing effort, Terrell Owens should have won the award [in Super Bowl XXXIX] 10 years ago.  None of them had good relationships with the media.  “Beast Mode” would have deserved it, but I’m not sure he would have won, even with a different outcome.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

Making The Case For Jamaal Charles As The NFL’s MVP

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

by Christian Roberts

Christian Roberts Blog

 

 

 

 

 

2013 Statistics: 246 Carries, 1,181 Rushing Yards, 11 TDs, 65 Receptions, 655 Receiving Yards, 7 TDs

2013 Statistics: 246 Carries, 1,181 Rushing Yards, 11 TDs, 65 Receptions,
655 Receiving Yards, 7 TDs

Jamaal Charles is becoming one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in all of the NFL. The former Texas standout has been the heart and soul of Kansas City’s offense all year. After an abysmal 2012 season where they went 2-14, Charles has been a huge part of the team’s turnaround to an 11-3 record so far in the 2013 campaign. Andy Reid deserves credit for this dramatic turnaround as well.

The Chiefs couldn’t have picked a better coach to utilize the star running back’s talents. His 98 targets out of the backfield are by far the most of his career. His previous high was 66. The workload he has taken on this year should speak volumes of how new head coach Andy Reid views him as a player.

With 2 games left in the season, Jamaal Charles has catapulted himself right into the thick of the MVP race with Broncos’ QB Peyton Manning. Dominating seemingly every time he touches the ball, the stud back is more than worthy of being the NFL’s MVP this year. Yes, Manning is on the verge of shattering the passing touchdown record, but what Charles has meant to Kansas City this year is almost unmatched by any player in the NFL.

Having picked up 98 first downs this year, the Chiefs’ offense lives and dies by Charles. Being the team’s leading rusher and receiver, you could argue the team wouldn’t even be in the playoffs without him.

All in all, taking the MVP from Peyton Manning this year is going to be one tough task, but the only other player as deserving of the award resides in Kansas City. How Jamaal Charles plays these next two games will be a direct determinant of just how close this MVP race is at season’s end.

 

Christian Roberts of Sportz Overtime, for War Room Sports

 

Justin Verlander for MVP!!!

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

By Germain Favor

With a little less than a month left in the baseball season, pundits and analysts alike are starting to tell us  who they believe should win the various individual awards for the 2011 season.  One of the hotly-debated topics is about Detroit Tigers’ pitcher Justin Verlander and whether or not he should be the American League Most Valuable Player.  Some say that he should be the MVP because MVP is Most Valuable PLAYER, not Most Valuable BATTER.  Others say he should not be MVP because a starting pitcher does not play on a regular basis.  I for one say he is the AL MVP.  If you look at Verlander’s stats, you will see he has the numbers needed to be an MVP.  In 29 starts, Verlander is: (1) first in wins with 20; (2) first in Innings-pitched with 215.2; (3) first in strike-outs with 218; (4) second in earned run average  with 2.38; (5) first in WHIP with .90; and (6) first in win percentage with .800.  But the one thing that makes Verlander MVP is unquantifiable; his impact on the Tigers.  Including his 4 “no-decisions”, the Tigers have won around 70 percent of their games started with Verlander on the mound.  When another pitcher starts, the Tigers are near or below .500.  That is the mark of an MVP. 

An MVP should be a player that lifts his team.  An MVP should be a player that, when he plays, the team is better than they are in the games in which he does not play.  Verlander is all of that and then some.  No other player in the American League has such an impact on a team that is in first place and the numbers to go with it.   But there are those who think that Adrian Gonzalez of the Boston Red Sox, Curtis Granderson of the New York Yankees, or Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays is the MVP.  Yes, all three have the numbers, but does Bautista, Granderson, and Gonzalez make their teams dramatically better?  No.  The Red Sox, Yankees, and Blue Jays do not play harder when they are in the lineup, nor does each team do worse when they are out.  So are they good players?  Yes.  MVPs?  No.  Verlander fits the bill as an MVP because he has the numbers and the impact on his team that an MVP is supposed to have.  The MVP voters need to do the right thing and make Justin Verlander the American League MOST VALUABLE PLAYER.

Germain Favor, 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 (http://warroomsports.com/blog/2011/05/12/lebron-scores-10-straight-to-close-out-the-celtics-is-that-clutch-enough-for-you/).
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

Can Dirk Win It All and Take His Place as a True All-Time Great?

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

By Brandon Pemberton

I have been one of the biggest critics of Dirk Nowitzki over the years and I have no problem admitting it.  Whether it was he and the Mavs being up 2-0 in the 2006 NBA Finals and losing four straight to lose the title, or winning the MVP, along with 67 games, only to be knocked out of the 1st round of the playoffs by eighth seeded Golden State in 2007.  It was hard after those two seasons not to label Dirk “soft” and as one of those guys who came up short in big spots.  I thought he relied too much on the 3-point shot when he could post guys up on the block and use his size.

This year in the playoffs Nowitzki has taken his play to a new level and it’s amazing to see him play this well.  In my eyes he was already a first ballot hall of famer and the greatest foreign player the NBA has ever seen, but he is on a flat-out tear.  In fifteen playoff games, he is averaging 28.4 ppg and 7.5 rpg, while shooting 51% from the field, 51% from the three point line, and 93% from the foul line.  I have to say, in my lifetime, this has been one of the better playoff performances I’ve seen.

There has been a transformation of sorts in Dirk’s game.  He relies less on standing at the three point line and shooting spot up jumpers like he did in his previous years.  He now operates in the mid-post area and abuses defenders by using his 7 foot frame and high release to score with ease.  His array of fall-away and off-balance shots he has mastered is like nothing the NBA has ever seen.  There has never been another player at his size with this style of game in NBA history, with his ability to put the ball on the floor, shoot, and face up from 16-20 feet out.  He has even become a better rebounder and puts forth more effort on the defensive end as well.

Now that he has led the Dallas Mavericks back to the NBA Finals for a second time, he has the chance to mark his place as one of the NBA’s all-time greats with a win over the Miami Heat or the Chicago Bulls.  I would love to see him finally win a title personally, but if the Heat holds on to win the East, it’s going to be tough.  But let it been known, Dirk is playing the best basketball of his career and will give the Mavs a legit chance at winning it all.

Brandon Pemberton, Blogger for War Room Sports