A City Of Champions Again

Cheesy title but man this was fun. Lots of pent up frustration finally released!

 

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Cleveland Cavaliers fans celebrate after the Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the NBA basketball Finals, Sunday, June 19, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Cleveland Cavaliers fans celebrate after the Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the NBA basketball Finals, Sunday, June 19, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

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My neighborhood finally quieted down about 2am. The parade on Wednesday should be one of the craziest times this city has ever seen.

We Have A Series

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3-2 at this point. 1 game left in Cleveland. Possible game 7 back in Oakland.

I said 4-2 Cavs so I’ve been disqualified for a bit now. I did predict Kyrie’s breakout.

The Warriors are a resilient, tricky bunch.

The Cavs have a lot of talent and heart too.

We all want a game 7, I think even Warriors fans want a game 7. They don’t want to clinch away from home again.


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Steph Curry has been disappointing in The Finals again. The regular season MVP seems to have some issue when high-level defense is played on his perimeter trick shot game.  When Curry isn’t making 3’s he isn’t doing much for his team. All this whispering about injury is bull. You either play or you don’t, phantom injuries that you won’t speak about don’t matter.

Cavs really need some offensive output from JR Smith and Kevin Love. I’d like to see some contribution from Channing Frye also.

Should be a battle Thursday. Here’s hoping the Cavs live to fight one more day. Game 7 winner takes all I like my chances with Bron and Kyrie.

Palms Get Sweaty and Backsides Get Tight

Thanks for the title, Stephen A. Smith

EPIC FINALS?

THE REMATCH.  FULL STRENGTH.  NO EXCUSES.

Cleveland Cavs

This is the year Cleveland, embrace it!

 

The breakout star of the finals will be Kyrie Irving. There’s still some people sleeping on this dude. He’s got the best handle in basketball. He’s perhaps the best finisher at the rim while rarely dunking. His jumper is liquid. He’s almost Steph Curry level in his difficulty to guard.

In last years Finals, on a bad knee he had like 23/7 against Curry before blowing his knee out completely.

Kyrie

Word

 

I can’t argue with the credentials and abilities of the Golden State Warriors. They are not easy to beat. They are beatable but almost impossible to kill in a 7 game series.

This isn’t about them. This is about the new champs taking it from the current champs. This is about power and finesse and hopefully some hard 90’s style fouls.

I don’t have a ton of analysis this year, I just feel it. Cavs in 6 or 5, it won’t get close to a game 7.

Party time this summer

Photo Credit: David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo Credit: David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

All To Plan

Prince’s passing has left me a bit shaken. I’m avoiding the mysterious theories and thinking this generally healthy and sober man had pill demons that caught him and he walked into his personal elevator and never came out. The lyrics to Let’s Go Crazy are now loaded with intrigue.

Addiction did not appear to be a long term problem for Prince as he showed none of the outward signs over the last 30 years of his career. But rumors are flying that the last year has been a rough one for the 57-year old entertainer. Painful hip problems led to Percocet and other powerful pills with never-ending prescriptions, and in no time the mighty had fallen. I’ll wait for the tox report before commenting more, but it’s not an uncommon story.

LIFE MOVES FORWARD. The sun comes up tomorrow with or without us. Ask the Atlanta Hawks.

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Prince loved basketball so if there’s an afterlife he’s enjoying this one.

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I’ve been saying all year that the regular season success of the Golden State Warriors is perfect for the Cleveland Cavaliers. It benefits the Cavs more than anyone else.

Regular season means nothing. Playoffs and Championships mean everything. It’s why Jordan is Jordan, Kobe is Kobe, Russell is Russell, Duncan is Duncan, Bird is Bird, Magic is Magic… and then there’s all those other players. Many winners and legends in the mix but there’s only a few that walk around with their hand(s) full of rings.

 

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Lebron James is on the cusp of the circle of greats. He has an impressive resume going to the last 5 finals and winning 2 of them. Most playoff records are owned or being hounded by James and his various teams. But he needs to get to 500 and get one with his hometown Cavaliers to cement his legacy.

Cue the perfect scenario – make James the underdog.


 

Last year was his first year back with his old family after running off to Miami with a supermodel, and it was awkward at times. The big 3 were actually Lebron and two confused all-stars lacking big game experience, a motley mix of role players, and a head coach who had never even assistant-coached an NBA game before.

But Lebron being Lebron, the addition of Iman Shumpert and JR Smith from the Knicks and Timo Mozgov from Denver seemed to fit together for the moment. JR was the sharpshooter, Shump the defensive stopper, and Timo the new Big Z that Lebron could play pick and roll with.

Delly also emerged as a decent backup PG and all around defensive irritant, and the team clicked going into the playoffs. But by the time they reached the Finals they had lost 2 all-stars and were logging huge minutes on the guys left.

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They still got 2, nearly 3 games from the healthy and clicking Warriors, but ran out of juice after running out of options. They were outmatched, out-coached, and still getting to know each other as a team. Delly collapsed and was rushed to the hospital for fluids. Cleveland licked it’s wounds yet again. There’s always next year.

 


This next year has been stable so the soap opera NBA media basically ignored the Cavaliers all year. Blatt wasn’t fired mid-season so much as forced to step aside for his star assistant, a move that all of us saw coming sooner or later. The Cavs didn’t miss a beat since very little changed.

Other than that all everyone talked about was the amazing unbeatable Warriors, and if the Spurs would have enough left in the tank to derail them. These amazing Warriors with their newly crowned King of the NBA Steph Curry! Could they ever be beaten? Have we ever seen something so dominating?

 

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Buzz. No one really cares. It’s the regular season. I’d be terrified if the Cavs won 73 games this year. The last team to win so many games is only talked about because they swept their way through the playoffs (actually 12-3) and got their FIFTH ring in 7 years. See the gentleman with all the rings above.

The Cavs are being treated like an underdog this year but the stats tell something different, and so does the eye test.

 


 

So the setup is perfect. The Warriors are unbeatable. Until their fragile superstar goes down that is, then they are beatable. The Spurs look damn good as usual, the perfect slayer of dreams. The Cavs are rolling, the East (which was stronger than the West overall this regular season) is folding with playoff jitters, and here we sit.

The thing about my predictions is I don’t always see the end of the story. Rarely, actually. I usually see the setup and build.

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I can imagine this is our year. But I was born in #TheLand 9 years after it’s last major title so I don’t get my hopes up too far. My storytelling mind does enjoy this narrative though.

Curry will be back, and the Cavs will face a strong team out of the west. I hope it’s the Warriors because we all want the rematch from last year. The Spurs have always dealt with Lebron better than anyone else.

 

Ouchies On A Cold Night

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 16:  Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors reacts during Game Six of the 2015 NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on June 16, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

What?


 

Warriors came to the winter wonderland of Cleveland last night and beat the doo-doo out of the Cavs. The Cavs were rolling, playing good ball on their road trip, but it was off from the start last night.

No ball movement, clanking shots, no offensive rebounds – recipe for failure. Overall the Warriors just looked good – faster and stronger than last year. Still hitting those ridiculous shots.

Not much of a game since the Cavs had no fight in them. But message sent, if the Cavs make it out of the East again they are going to have a battle with the West. As usual.

 

2015 NBA Finals Post Mortem

It’s over. Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors, 2015 NBA Champs. They earned it by plowing through the regular season, rolling to the Finals, and catching an injured Cavs squad that didn’t have the bodies to match up. They complete their historic season with MVP Stephon Curry and rookie head coach Steve Kerr.

Lebron is dead! Lebron is dead! Ding dong, Lebron is dead!

Lebron is dead! Lebron is dead! Ding dong, Lebron is dead!

 

If we had a healthy Cleveland team featuring Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to go along with Lebron James – that would have been a heavyweight battle for the ages. Instead we got to see Lebron try to beat the Warriors more or less by himself, and he got amazingly close, but just didn’t have the talent left on the bench to put down the Warriors. 5 of the 6 games were close but as the time wound down the Warriors had the depth and energy to persevere.

Lebron dropped historic offensive numbers while picking up the slack for his injured scorers. The 2 replacements from the bench (Tristan Thompson and Matt Dellevadova) had to play heavy minutes, completely depleting the Cleveland bench and leaving Coach Blatt with very few options.

The Cavs did get a little pat on the back for effort, the Cleveland fans showed out nicely (louder than the “roaracle”), and Vegas gave the city of Cleveland it’s “wait for next year” hope by making the Cavs the early favorites as the 2016 champs!

 

20k inside the arena, 20k outside the arena. Well done.

20k inside the arena, 20k outside the arena. Well done.

3-2 Warriors – Cavs Facing Elimination

First off, what a year for these two teams. The Warriors completed a dominant regular season with an unorthodox style led by their shooting, often times quick hit 3’s early in the shot clock. They played defense, they mowed through the West, and they are 1 game away from their first title in 40 years.

The Cavs were the story this year in the NBA, and they didn’t fail to deliver some drama. Much of it was little more than hype by the press but there’s no denying that a first year coach, 3 all-stars that had never played together before, and the feel-good retribution story of Lebron and his hometown of Cleveland/Akron was compelling.

Driving this outfit of undermanned misfits to a ring might be too much even for Lebron. But it’s been a fun ride. If the Cavs succumb he will take an unfair hit for his overall finals record and not given the credit he deserves for this season.

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My prediction of Cavs in 6 is out the window, and unless Kyrie’s broken kneecap heals by Tuesday it’s tough to see them winning 2 straight in the condition they are in now.

Tough but not impossible though — if the Cavs can hold home court Tuesday night I’ll take my chances in Game 7 with Lebron, no matter where it’s played. Cleveland equals tough, so don’t get overconfident Dubs fans!

I say Cavs in 7 with at least 1 more 40/15/15 game from LBJ. Or Cavs are out of juice and Warriors in 6. If so it will be sad to see them celebrate in the Q.

Either way, good finals, hard fought, the Warriors are a little dirtier than I thought they’d be (not a bad thing), and it does have the feel of the first of several future Finals matchups. It’s a testament to Lebron and Blatt that the Cavs are here at all, missing 2 all-stars.

1st and 2nd overall pick, 2003.

1st and 2nd overall pick, 2003.

Series Reset 1-1, Moving To Cleveland

Why The National Media Continues to Favor The Warriors

1. They refuse the Eyeball test. Stats are interesting, insightful, and of course the most important single stat determines a win or loss. The new generation of analytics along with our visually mobile culture create an environment where we are easily swayed by charts and graphs. Basketball is suffering through this currently. There are ‘new method verse old school’ arguments around, and in this case I split the difference. Show all the stats and graphs you want, but don’t disregard the eyeball test! Lebron looks like he wants that Trophy more than he ever has before, his team is wounded and scary, they are bigger, play better defense, and who picks against that? Warriors look like they’ve never been there before, the coach and entire roster. Oh yeah, they haven’t. 9 rings on the Cavs, 17 Blatt trophies, and that shows in that no one on the Cavs are sweating (except Kevin Love at every mention of Kelly Olynyk.)

SLAM!

SLAM!

2. Know the sport.  There are fundamental rules in the NBA game that many people miss. First – Playoffs are different than regular season. Regular season is actually the pre-season and people never understand that. Everything is harder in the playoffs. Everything s l  o   w    s   down, every window closes, every gap is smaller, every possession matters. You know the rule that good offense beats good defense? Reversed in the playoffs. Teams shut other teams down, destroy their offense, sweep them out at every level of the playoffs. No team would beat the same team 4 games straight in the regular season but the playoffs are different. Therefore, any analyst that talks about the regular season during the finals is rubbish.

Regular Season? You talking about the Regular Season? We ain’t talking about the Finals, we talking about Regular Season? We ain’t talking about The Finals. The Finals. You asking me about Regular Season?

 

POW!

POW!

These false experts also forget that the NBA Finals is closer to a pickup game played before the world than any formal event featuring beautiful basketball exhibitions. It’s a blood bath, a grind house, a painful struggle that only true champions survive. Cleveland learned this lesson in 2007 when professional champions from Texas exposed our overachieving newbies and a virgin GOAT. Fools underestimate the Eastern Conference champs every year based on regular season offense, combining both mistakes into the great lie. It’s 5 on 5, 1 basketball, for the chip, and regular season stats, politics, concepts, and offense go out the window.

Shump!

SHUMP!

3. Play the sport. If you, your kids, your brother, even your cousin you hang with spent real time playing basketball then you know a real baller, both playground and organized team. They didn’t need to be great themselves, just good enough to be on teams, go to practice, be on travel teams, good enough to get picked at the courts, and to even hold court. If they were professional or semi-pro they are experts. Yes high school counts, maybe even middle school! Bottom line is until you’ve jammed your hip and ass into some dude’s sweaty crotch over and over to keep him off the boards and chop him down a bit on offense you don’t really know basketball.

Appetizing description, I know, but my point is reading or watching basketball is not playing basketball. It’s a grind, it’s a game of sweat, cuts, poked eyes, bent fingertips, millimeters, frustration, and anger. It’s not stats, a narrative, or psychology. Most analysts never played, and only some of them admit it and let the real experts drive their narrative.

ROAR!

ROAR!

National analysts follow bandwagons and they follow sexy stories. We saw it a decade ago with Lebron. Perhaps the Miami version of Lebron wore out his welcome and the narrative has pushed past him, therefore he is not the sexy story, the obvious story, and this is basketball, not Hollywood. Austin Carr said the Warriors play “good basketball but pretty-boy basketball”. Welcome to the trenches.

Game 2 Notes: Nothing Stunning At All

The Cavs have been having their way with the Warriors for most of the series so far. The first 2 games have been controlled by Cleveland throughout, with leads being elusive and short-lived for these overly-hyped regular season Warriors. It could be 2-0 either way, but each game had the Cavs ahead with the Warriors making late runs to get back in the game.

I sense the virginity at Oracle. True, the Cavs organization has no NBA championships, but there’s 9 championship rings on that roster compared to 0 worn by Warriors. I don’t even think a Warrior player has ever even been to the Finals, whereas the Cavs have 22 previous Finals games on the roster. [See Tales of the Tape for the lowdown]

Steve Kerr is much loved and respected around the NBA. He won 5 rings as a player and was popular on TV. But he’s a virgin as a coach. Blatt has coached 17 championships. 17. Discount that all you want, it’s still more than Kerr.

Steph Curry is much loved and respected around the NBA. Steve Nash perhaps helped the Cavs last week by declaring Curry the best shooter of all time!  But he’s a baby-faced virgin too, on a bigger stage than he’s ever been on.

The media is still amazed at how this supposedly superior Warriors team and being handled by what they consider a 1-man show from a weak conference coached by a newbie. None of this is true, even though it’s the narrative they are all pushing.

Golden State is the latest NBA gimmick, and gimmick’s don’t always win championships. Sometimes they do, and I’m not writing off the Warriors completely. I do believe they were the best regular season team but that means nothing now. They are still capable of shooting 50% from 3 and spanking the Cavs. It’s a long series.

You are now going to see the best basketball player in the world play in front of the best fans in the best NBA arena. Sure Oracle might be slightly louder, but it’s due to the ancient building’s lack of acoustic treatment, not because Warriors fans are somehow more psyched than Cleveland fans.

No California sports fans are out-rooting Cleveland sports fans. Cavs fans know the game, know that defense is more important than “splashing”, and know when it comes down to the game on the line, they’d take Lebron Ramone James over anyone not named Michael circa 1992.


 

Previous Finals Posts:

Game 1: Missed Opportunities

NBA Finals: Tale of the Tape

Cavs v Dubs: The Main Event

Cavs v Dubs: The Main Event

Finally we have arrived at the main event. Actually, we have to wait 8 days for it (the longest time ever!).

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Update — Check out the NBA Finals Tale of the Tape

 

I’ll be doing some statistical and eyeball analysis over the next couple of days before announcing my pick for the finals. Initial thoughts:

  • Since the Cavs made their big roster shakeup and Lebron’s winter break, they have a better record than the Warriors.
  • Lebron out-ranks everyone in the series in championship pedigree. Knowing how to get one is different than wanting one.
  • The Cavs roster has more playoff experience, more finals experience, and more championship rings than the Warriors.
  • Blatt and Kerr are rookie NBA coaches, but Blatt has coached several major championships around the world over the last 20 years. He’s no rookie coach, he’s a rookie NBA coach. In actual games won he’s closer to Popovich than Kerr.
  • The Warriors offensive strength is their outside shooting. Just like the Hawks, who shot 20% lower against the Cavs than anyone else.

So that’s just some food for thought as they announce the Cavs as underdogs.

 

Gotta Make It Happen

Nice knowing’ ya Hotlanta.

 

Remember, playoffs are a different ballgame. It took us a few years to learn that too. Regular season is actually pre-season in the NBA.

Re-sign your guys and quit crying, Delly is just out hustling you, and we will see you next year. Nice season. Also FWIW Korver is overrated.

Cavs verse Dubs is the main attraction, we’ve all wanted to see it for months. No one can stop either team, and they have several of the best players in the L this year.

It should be a battle. I’m afraid to make a pick at this point and the Hawks must first fall in this extreme elimination challenge. Hopefully for Kyrie and Lebron’s bodies the Cavs can end it tonight and get a few days off before the epic.

 

Noah Versus Cleveland

Joakim is at it again, talking smack about Cleveland. Everything he says gets posted online and the comments just pile on. Got me thinking….

Cleveland’s economy sucks because before everything was made in China, it was made in places like Cleveland. The factories of Cleveland built the USA and helped win World War II.

That means that without Cleveland, the french side of Noah’s family might be speaking German. Show some respect. Besides, you play for Chicago, the murder capital of the USA, so leave the beautiful and proud city of Cleveland out of your mouth or I’ll get Cardale!


Noah


Oh and don’t throw stuff at athletes, that’s never cool. No matter how dickish they are.

Mark Price Appreciation Post

Steph Curry knows. Kenny Smith knows. Brad Daugherty knows. Steve Kerr knows.

There were a few years in the NBA (1989-1994: the height of the Jordan years) where the best shooter and one of the best overall point guards in the league went without much notice outside of coaches, players and fans of his team.

He was the 2nd guy ever, after Larry Bird, to average 50-40-90% in field goals, threes, and free throws for a full season, known as the 50-40-90 club.  Since then 5 more players have achieved this shooting mastery: Reggie Miller, Steve Nash (4x!), Dirk Nowitski, and Kevin Durant.

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Considered too slow and a small 6′ for the NBA, especially in those years when the league was stocked with talent, Price was picked in the 2nd round by Dallas and traded to Cleveland. I don’t remember much hype about the small white guard that looked like a 12 year old choirboy.

Since Cleveland also picked big Brad Daughtery 1st overall and talented slasher Ronny Harper at pick 8 that day, it was a haul even before they received the news that another talented rookie Hot Rod Williams would be cleared of NCAA gambling charges and be allowed to play for the Cavs.

Cleveland actually had 4 of the 5 all-rookies that year. I don’t know if that’s been done since.

The addition of prime high-flying forward Larry Nance turned the late 80’s Cavs into “the team of the 90’s” according to Magic Johnson. To be a Laker fan and read that!

So how did Price do it? By being one of the single most awesome players ever with the ball in his hands.

Similar to Steph Curry, he could shoot so fast, so accurately, so consistently that defenses just bent to his will.

Similar to Lebron James, he could utilize teammates, spacing, picks, and inventiveness to break your press and decimate your defense.

His secret weapon was his split dribble. See, the Cavs fed off of pick and rolls with their talented big men. Defenders could either plan to fight over the pick, go under the pick, or switch. As they were deciding this he attacked, dribbling directly between them and forcing them off-balance.

It worked like a charm because of his shooting skills – wherever defenders went, he had a play and could get his shot. And usually drain it, bottom of the net, or use glass.

He also impressed in the 1993 3-point shootout, at one point hitting something like 3 racks straight.

In Cleveland he wasn’t even the most famous Cavalier. They were stacked and I remember people considering him a John Stockton knockoff. That’s probably racist, like there’s only room for 1 caucasian point guard? He could out-shoot the Hall of Famer Stockton, and if he had the health and the stability of Stockton, and the mailman, he’d be right there.

Looking back, Mark Price really was the best player on those stocked Cavs teams. He couldn’t even dunk but man that dude could play some basketball. Unstoppable, made everything happen everywhere, and the model for guys like Steph Curry. Mark Price was 6′ Larry Bird, one of the best ever.

 

 

Game Time! The King of Cleveland’s Top 5 Moments

In case you forgot, or were too hurt to remember (like me), here’s what used to be and what will soon be again: #23 just wrecking things and playing for the good guys again!

http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2014/10/lebron_james_five_most_memorab.html

Gonna be crazy down there tonight, a concert and TNT crew before the game, a winter storm coming in, people partying for Halloween all week

 

21 Mar 2013, Cleveland, Ohio, USA --- REFILE - ADDITIONAL CAPTION INFORMATION Cleveland Cavaliers fan James Blair interrupts play by coming onto the court in a T-shirt with a message asking Miami Heat's LeBron James (R) to return to Cleveland, during the fourth quarter of their NBA basketball game in Cleveland March 20, 2013. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) --- Image by © AARON JOSEFCZYK/Reuters/Corbis

21 Mar 2013, Cleveland, Ohio, USA — REFILE – ADDITIONAL CAPTION INFORMATION Cleveland Cavaliers fan James Blair interrupts play by coming onto the court in a T-shirt with a message asking Miami Heat’s LeBron James (R) to return to Cleveland, during the fourth quarter of their NBA basketball game in Cleveland March 20, 2013. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) — Image by © AARON JOSEFCZYK/Reuters/Corbis

Focus Shift

In the pro basketball world, Miami was the center of the NBA universe for the last 4 years. Cleveland was barely in the league. Besides the usual few intriguing young picks (and a few potential bust picks) there was no story here, nothing to see, nothing to care about. No national TV. No commentary. Even the teams uniforms said “that white red and gold team that used to be on TV every week is gone”.

In the course of 2 months much has changed. The 2014 Cavs might be starting 4 all-stars. They will have the roster to start 5 all-stars. Their bench features champions and all-stars.  What the hell is going on? Look at these credentials they have added:

Lebron: 2x Champion, 4x MVP, Rookie of the Year, 10x All-star, 6x NBA All-Defensive, 3x medalist

Ray Allen: 2x Champion, 10x All-star, All time leader 3pt made, 3x medalist

Kevin Love: 3x All-star, Most Improved Player, 1x Rebounding leader, 2x medalist

Mike Miller: 2x Champion, Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, 3x medalist

Shawn Marion: 1x Champion, 4x All-star, 2x medalist

James Jones: 2x Champion

[This, with Kyrie, makes the total haul: 11 Rings, 22 All-Star appearances, 4 MVPs, 3 ROY’s, 6x All Defense, 14 medals, Best rebounder last year, best distance shooter EVER. And Andy. Damn.]

 

These studs are joining the young core of:

Kyrie Irving, perhaps the best 22 year old PG in the game (ROY and 1x All-star)

Dion Waiters, a sleeper Dwyane Wade-type 2 guard also under 25

Tristan Thompson, an active garbage-man type PF under 25

Matt Delevadova, a scrappy defensive PG under 25

 

And then the final piece is the wild thing, the only guy left from Lebron’s original Cavs. You couldn’t pick a better guy from 2007-2010 to take part in this run than Andy. Although I would like to see Booby!

 

 

 

Premature Super Team Thoughts

It’s the new Big Three, the new Power Trio in the (l)eastern conference. NBA fever has hit Cleveland again in the name of Lebron, teaming up with Kyrie, Dion & Andy, adding Love to the new mix that already includes Mike Miller, James Jones, and possibly Jesus Shuttlesworth himself, Mr Ray Allen in a Cavs uniform (man I wanted that like 12 years ago!).

So — who’s buying it?

I really enjoyed watching the 2010 Miami Heat struggle. I really enjoyed watching them fight and perservere all the way to the finals. And man did I enjoy watching those arrogant punks lose to Dallas.

Then they started winning – two dark years in Cleveland basketball history – Bron In Black was everywhere winning everything. We had to endure the “Heat Watch” and all the Beibers court side with James’ ice jersey. El Heatles. Blech. 2 years to go from millions of Witnesses to 14000 Beliebers leaving the arena early at a Finals game.


11-lakers-1982-nba-championship-ring


So now he’s back – thinner, older, wiser, and hopefully not slower. What will Lebron’s new trio do as compared to he’s previous unit?

I just don’t have a read on it yet. I’m an observational guy, and with so much new with coach Blatt and all these ex-Heat players, the mess that Mike Brown’s rehire/refire trick left, my head is swimming trying to predict how this team stacks up.

 

I know a starting five of Irving, Waiters, LBJ, Love, and Varajao is not a problem in any way. That’s a ton of scoring, passing, rebounding, garbage work, slashing, shooting, and just enough defending. Cavs should put up 100+ a night without too much trouble.

I know a bench rotation of Thompson, Dellavadova, Miller, Jones, and Haywood isn’t too shabby either. You got a scrappy defensive guard, 2 big forwards, and 2 shooters. Add Ray Allen to that bench and it’s that much stronger, but pretty old. There are also several rings on that bench.

He has lobbied against it, but Waiters on the 2nd unit might be the most efficient lineup, replaced by Mike Miller in the starting lineup. Miller gives Lebron his wing spacing and more length, and Dion could be sixth man of the year as the only pure scorer off the bench.

End of bench guys look to be rookies Joe Harris, Dwight Powell, and that 7 footer Kirk we just signed. Don’t expect much from these three but you need depth. There’s always hope one of them is the next Boobie Gibson, elevated from the end of the bench to temporary superstar in LBJ’s wake.

 

My worries include:

  • Are we are getting the old, soon to deteriorate James? His weight loss this offseason is the first major body change I’ve seen in him since he bulked up around his 4th-5th year in the L. He says it’s to get faster. Some say it’s to save his knees. Some even whisper that he’s lost it in the gym, being a dad and hanging home eating pop tarts like the rest of us. We shall see, but I expect nothing short of domination from him, because that’s what he’s always done. He doesn’t push through and dunk over everyone like he did 5 years ago, he’s more efficient with his offensive variety now.
  • Are the snipers shooting at Kevin Love correct? Is it because he’s a white guy, playing in cold distant Minny, buried in the western conference, that he is underrated? Or wait – Overrated? Who can tell with so many opinions out there. I think the guy is a Top 5 PF and can be compared to a Tim Duncan in his overall effectiveness. If Bosh worked well enough with Lebron, Love should be lights out. Love’s offensive game is more varied and creative than Bosh’s.
  • Will Kyrie stop being a defensive liability? If your PG is a turnstile you can’t go all the way, even with Lebron (see Jeff McInnis). The PG has to disrupt the play from the top, or otherwise disturb the opposing PG within the 2nd pass or he’s useless on defense. Most offenses will get whatever shot they want. Kyrie needs to take pride in shutting down the other PG, getting some steals, and taking some charges. His crazy fast feet could make him a much better defender but he just doesn’t seem to try as hard at the defensive end. This could be the fatal flaw to the Cavs Trio.
  • Will Dion Waiters get the love and respect he deservers as one of the most exciting young guards in the L? Guys like Oladipo get more pub but on a nightly basis Dion is more exciting to watch. He’s capable of almost anything on the court, including some crazy shots, but I know that Lebron loves his game, and I do too.

Camp hasn’t even been announced yet, Love isn’t even on the team yet (or Allen), and the new uniforms haven’t been displayed (stab). I will be watching the Cavs SuperTeam, as most of America will, and will prob have lots more to say on it.

I can’t put them as any kind of favorites to win anything more than a lot of games. I said the Heat would struggle early and they did, eventually making it to the finals in their first year and losing. If the Cavs make the Finals in the first year that would be amazing, given the lack of playoff experience in the young players. Chicago, Indiana, and Washington are still my favorites in the east, this year.

But the Cavs Power Trio is for real, coach Blatt is seemingly the best man for such a job (win now or go home), and my team will be on national TV 29 times next season. That’s star power and it should be fun to watch (again).

Offense With No Regard

…for human decency!

With Lebron back on the Cavs, he’s joining a team that’s considerably more entertaining than the Cavs team he left in 2010. Anderson Varajeo is the only guy left on the roster from back then, and when he stays healthy he’s as popular and effective as ever. He’s one of the best hustle garbage men in the L.

Cavs600But where the 2007-2010 team had Lebron as the sole slasher/dunker/off the dribble- type of player, surrounded by vets, shooters, and role players — this 2014 Cavs team has an intriguing young core of guys who can really make plays on their own.

If they trade this year’s 1st pick Wiggins for Kevin Love that gives the young Cavs two established all-stars and olympians to go with the young guns Kyrie Irving (21), Dion Waiters (23), Tristan Thompson (23), Anthony Bennett (21), and Dwight Powell (23).

Dion Waiters brings the nasty from the 2 spot:

and of course Kyrie can break down and shoot over any point guard in the NBA:

Tristan is a double double with either hand (without any plays called for him). Bennett is attempting to atone for the worst rookie season by any 1st pick ever, so he has nothing but upside or bust. He looks in shape and much more in tune with the flow this summer. The Powell kid is a physical freak who is raw but powerful. Don’t forget Matt Dellavedova (24) who’s turning into a scrappy backup PG and you have a ton of talent under 25 for Lebron to mold.

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 1.15.49 PMSo far the Cavs have added veteran free agents Mike Miller and James Jones, two shooting small forwards who teamed with Lebron for Miami’s title seasons. Ray Allen is also in the discussion as another marksman to spread the offense while Kyrie, Dion, and Lebron carve up the middle.

Where’s the other side – the bad news to rain on this amazing off-season? Well, this lineup doesn’t have much defensive history beyond Lebron and Varejao. Last year’s single-season run of Mike Brown did improve the defense of the young Cavs, but they still have a long way to go. The best argument for keeping Wiggins over Love has been his defense, particularly on the wing. Tristan isn’t horrible defensively, but is not a rim protector. Andy alone is not enough down low, so I’d like to see them find a way to get a rim protector at the 4 or 5.

 

National Corrections – Respect The Cleve!

I have been reading several national writers take on the Lebron returns to Cleveland story, and I have been reading the same mistakes and incorrect assumptions in most of them.

Allow me to correct.

1 – Cleveland’s Financial History

Around 1900, the industrial base of Cleveland drove it to be the 6th largest city in America. It’s industrial barons (John Rockefeller and company) built lavish arts and cultural institutions and mansions around the east side of the city. By the 1920’s Cleveland had legitimate dreams of hosting an Olympics, a World’s Fair, and other world-class attractions.

The industries of Cleveland supplied most of the american ball-bearings and ammunition for both world wars, as well as manufacturing a large part of the american tank fleet and naval and airplane motors. The automobile was first manufactured in Cleveland, but after two decades Detroit took the automotive lead while Cleveland continued to make many of the frames, engines, and bodies for Detroit-based makers.

After that…well… about 80% of the manufacturing left Cleveland, never to return. And no, they didn’t clean up after themselves.

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Palace Theater balcony – Playhouse Square – Cleveland Ohio USA. Part of the 2nd largest theater complex in the country, lovingly restored to it’s original opulence. This is not where the world famous Cleveland Orchestra performs, they are housed in the equally impressive Severence Hall, 6 miles east in the booming University Circle area (currently being rebranded as Uptown).

 

2 – Lebron James & Dan Gilbert

Lebron’s “Decision” TV spectacle in 2010 was, more than anything else, a stab in the back to his local fan base.

Everyone knew that Dan Gilbert is a millionaire banker from Detroit who bought the Cavs because they already had Lebron and the Pistons weren’t for sale.

They knew Gilbert liked to come off as regular fan, like Mark Cuban with a regular job, but no one really buys it. They know he’s making money off the poor and addicted at his Cleveland casino. That’s why lots of people voted against it.

Lebron didn’t screw Dan over. We are smart enough to know it was all business. We know LBJ is the once in a lifetime talent.

But Lebron’s decision to take it to prime-time ESPN, to try to cover his poop with the Boys and Girls club – oh please.

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Dan Gilbert received a call (from the guy who is now Lebron’s agent) leaking “The Decision” 3 minutes before air. His comic sans disaster letter was one possible reaction.

Hey Connecticut kids – we are gonna raise you some money by making the kids – and adults – of a whole region cry on live TV!

No one but Miami and the a few of the kids in that room bought it. Are they still mad that Ohio isn’t named New Connecticut?

The evidence of how bad The Decision TV special was? Not a single athlete has copied it, and almost everything else LBJ does is copied by other athletes.

 

3 – The Cuyahoga River

Every time you make a joke about our Cuyahoga River burning you should thank us. Why? Because people in our region rallied against the powers that be and ultimately the EPA was formed.

Cuyahoga River, upstream several miles from industrial area.

If you are american your air and public waterways are probably cleaner now than 40 years ago because the citizens of northeast Ohio fought back. We organized. We studied. We made a difference.

You should also look up other river fires in other industrial cities and add those to your punchline. Lots of waterways would catch fire before anyone regulated anything.

Also, note that only the very end of the Cuyahoga was being polluted, there’s a nice river before that area.

This region’s manufacturing built this country before we outsourced everything. We deserve respect, if not direct aide from the places that weren’t compromised by our industrial revolution.

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The city on the Crooked River in the 1940’s. Many of the factories that forged the country and the war effort are on that crooked river, and many dumped industrial waste into it for decades.

4 – Burning Jerseys

I counted about 7 Cavs fans burning Lebron jersey’s on video in 2010. Maybe 20 more around town did the deed.

Some cleaned their toilets with it. I personally picked up cat puke with 1 LBJ t-shirt I had, but I kept my $100 jerseys safe in a bottom drawer.

The idea that we are a bunch of street rioting savages is idiotic. Cleveland people are about as normal and chill as they come. We love our teams and will talk shit with anyone who wants to talk some shit, but it’s just entertainment.

There are far more important things in Cleveland than millionaires playing sports -like survival. Most of america felt that financial pinch the last few years. Cleveland has been in that world for decades! It’s why we are so tough, and it’s why people from here don’t take too kindly to all the misrepresentation and insults we endure from random entertainers and internet types.

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Being a resident of Cleveland means seeing things like this all the time. It’s still accepted as a premise that this place is horrible. Most that spend time here come to really appreciate it.

All that said, Lebron deserved the outrage of Cleveland fans in 2010. You have no idea how long we had Lebron at that point – not just 7 years with the Cavs, but 4 years in high school too. We were over a decade invested in the kid from Akron that just might become the best ever.

It was Cavs fans getting attacked for 7 years defending Lebron, swatting off hater after hater. “King”? “Chosen One”? It was relentless.

We were told nothing good could ever come from Cleveland (idiots don’t even realize nearly half the entertainment industry was raised in Cleveland). When you defend someone for that long and from so many angles you don’t expect them to be the one sticking the knife in your back.

No matter who you root for you don’t expect or deserve that disapointment to be a live TV special on ESPN.

 

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Hello from #TheLand. You have a problem with it? Fuck you. We have enough work to keep us busy. And now we have our Lebron back so we are good;-)

In summary — think twice before you insult someplace you don’t know or understand.

I’ve lived several places and Cleveland should be proud, not ashamed. Cleveland is one of the best places in America and the people are amazing, and to take the amount of shit we do being a punchline just adds to the resolve of people here.

Welcome Home Big Fella

Bron is not only coming home, he’s doing it the way you are supposed to – he apologized, he understands his folks, and he’s accomplished what he wanted out of town, like many of us have.

But now he’s coming home because he loves it here, and he’s always been one of us. That’s why we got so mad at him when he pulled the stunt building the super team behind everyone’s back.

Read the letter. Enjoy the ride, the Cavs are gonna be an entertaining show this year!

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The Long Strange Trip of L. James

Well that was satisfying. Watching the Miami Heat get whupped up and down the basketball court never gets old for me. Before they had Lebron I thought the team was overrated, Wade got lots of help from the refs, and the fans were the least likable in the NBA. Miami the town is perfectly nice, but their NBA situation has never earned my respect.

Then my favorite baller – the child king himself – left his hometown team with a collusion resulting in the current Miami Heat. Most of us were appalled, or at best irritated, that the guy went and rewrote the rules and basically formed a “buddy team” with other superstars of his class. Oh and he did it as a self-produced primetime ESPN TV special he named “The Decision”. To this day he is the only ProAthleteInc™ with the balls big enough to try that stunt.

The cherry on top was “King James of Cleveland”, who was already starting to be reviled by foes on and off the court, going to the dark side and leaving his hometown with nothing in return. He couldn’t be traded or otherwise have value if he hid his intentions from his team. And he did just that, screwing Cleveland and forming a super-team in Miami.

And they went to 4 straight finals so far. That’s impressive, even in the weak East. Proves that screwing over Cleveland doesn’t lead you to ruin ;-). I do think if Derrick Rose is healthy, or Indiana gets over their chemistry issues, or the super-Nets form a year earlier, maybe Miami doesn’t come out of the East that often. But they did and they showed a lot of heart over the years.

Lebron stands at 2-3 in his Finals appearances, overall, 2-2 with his super-team. There’s various stats out there to show he doesn’t perform his best on the biggest stage. The post-game press conference with he and Wade was full of body language cues pointing to the strained relationship between the two.

Will he stay is the big question. Sitting here the day after the finals my gut tells me he stays 1 more year then is gone from Miami. Back to Cleveland? I still don’t believe that will ever happen. I also am in the camp of never rooting for him in a Cavs jersey again, so I hope he goes elsewhere.

The drama continues with LBJ…

Meanwhile in the Timmy D camp, life is good:

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Rematch!

It’s on, starting tonight, a rematch of the best NBA Finals I’ve seen in decade. It’s the legacy of the Spurs verses the hated Heat. So much matchup drama here.

Lebron’s 1-1 against Timmy Duncan in the finals. This is the grudge match.

The Spurs have been there but haven’t won a ring in many years, despite playing stronger than they did winning their last one in 2007 (against Lebron’s overmatched Cavs).

The Heat want the “three-peat”, a term invented by their president Pat Riley and achieved not once, but twice by the man Lebron strives to be, Mike Air Jordan.

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The Spurs will never 3Peat but they have 4 rings already, and that’s 2 more than Lebron.

Is LBJ underachieving? Getting 3 straight, including 2 in a row against Popovich, would do a lot to improve his “best ever” stock.

Get in front of a TV and enjoy the battle of old baldies verse the Heatles.

ITS OVER!!!!  Spurs in 4, they totally dismantled the Heat and made them look old and slow.

 

 

 

 

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The Dynamic Game

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Cleveland fans loved Lebron like no one else, and they have been watching his every move since he bolted to form the evil big three with soft Chris Bosh and the rapidly aging Dwyane Wade. The Heat couldn’t get the ring their first year together, and in their second year together they drew a virginal finals opponent and collected their first ring. Now it’s year 3 after a dominating regular season, and the Heat look very beatable.

Back in the day ‘Bron promised to win 1 ring for Cleveland. When he arrived in Miami, promise unfulfilled, he told his new “fans” they would win 5, 6, 7 rings. And he wonders why people doubt him?

Now ring 2 looks to be getting sized for someone else, and folks are wondering if an elimination by the Heat in year 3 signifies a failure of Lebron’s grand plan. If it somehow represents salvation, or at least ‘told you so’ -ability for Cleveland fans.

I’m not sure if it does, but this story lays out the past, present, and possible future ramifications of tonight’s game 7 better than I can. This guy nails the key points and the emotions behind the money and stats. Give it a read and get ready for some real basketball entertainment tonight, including a possible sighting of the rare cleveland redemption.

We witnessed alot back then – the best talent in basketball growing into a dominant player, an MVP, a leader, and yet still somehow he left you wanting. Too much burdon on his wide shoulders, too much fragility in his psyche? Unknown. But Cleveland fans saw him quit and watched him clown us, then disrespect his former Cavs teammates (themselves an overachieving bunch) once in Miami.

Has Anyone Ever Faced a Bigger Game 7 Than LeBron James in 2013 vs. Pacers?

The End of That

“At the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail? At the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today” James said. “They have the same personal problems they had today.”

“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, but they have to get back to the real world at some point.”

 

Sorry Lebron I think we are done forever now. I went online & on-record and defended him over the years. My eyes saw what most of you saw – this kid could be the best baller ever. He had game falling out of his pockets by the time he was 16. By 19 he was unstoppable. Most of the rumors around town about LBJ’s attitude seemed just that, rumors and jealousy. His game started to peak. Every season wasn’t enough and whatever new skill he developed over the off-season wasn’t enough to get any chips.

Then the rumors started up again, but this time they were far more serious than being a bad tipper — “he doesn’t have it, man, he’s just along for the ride” said the whispers.

A love lost

When he stiffed the Cavs and his most loyal fans in summer 2010 I refrained from posting anything based on pure emotion — after all, most people in cleveland would strongly consider taking a job offer in Miami. That’s cool I get it. But do you shit on your people on the way out? Do you tell everyone in your new place they have never had it as good as now? Thank God Miami, your savior from Akron has arrived. Yeah right! He was our savior and our savior only, and he pissed away that role years ago.

I guess that’s all I have to say on it. After the game last night when Lebron gave us “I’m rich bitch!” I actually felt bad for him for the first time since he was 19.

He doesn’t get it and that’s that. Money does not equal happiness nor can it buy a championship. The Cavs start rebuilding this year and life goes on.

Hurts So Bad

Sometimes you have to lose big to win in the end. Clean slate. Binge and purge. How low can you go? There is no tomorrow. It seems like it can’t get any worse than this:

The sun will come up tomorrow, tomorrow

I have to admit, it kinda feels right having the rest of the country mocking and simplifying our local issues again. ‘Lebron left and the rest of the team is horrible’ goes the line. Too bad that’s not really the truth. This team currently has 2 players suited up left over from the Lebron years, and LBJ screwed them so hard with the way he handled his decision that it could take years to get back to being a contender.

There’s also the forgotten fact that there is serious labor trouble coming for the NBA this off-season, forcing a majority of the league to completely shut down player transactions this season due to the fear of union renegotiations coming soon. The Cavs started this year with a mish-mash team with little offensive talent, and have been completely handcuffed from starting any rebuilding this season. So it’s lose time, and then go out and lose lose lose lose some more. Hard to watch but so is 2 feet of snow and 10 degrees, again.

Going from first to worst almost never happens in sports, but Cleveland has always had a flair for the dramatic (especially in the failure department!). Kinda feels like the natural order is restored and my underdog status is secure. I’ve been divorced and I know how to recover – better, stronger, faster.

Lebron ain’t won anything yet. The challenge still stands. Go Cadavers!

What Should I Do? How About a Video Response

Not since the Browns left Cleveland for Baltimore 15 years ago has the city received so much moral support from the rest of the country. Witness South Park’s take on the Unchosen One’s “explanation”. Too funny.

“With every goddess a let down
every idol a bring down
It gets you down

But the search for perfection
your own predilection
Goes on and on and on”

— Bryan Ferry/Roxy Music “Mother of Pearl”

Your New #23

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This Thursday, July 8th at 9pm, two men will take their respective stages and perform their act. These two men, Ezrazmus Jones and Lebron James, use the much-maligned and misunderstood city of Cleveland as their castle grounds. King Lebron resides in the southern region of the kingdom, while his apostle Ezrazmus resides on the northside.

If Lebron leaves, Cleveland, you still have Ezraz – your new number 23! We will be watching ESPN at The Duck Island Club, 2102 Freeman Ave. Cleveland, OH, 44113.

The 2nd Northside Nights All Cleveland Music Night is kicking off after Lebron’s press conference this Thursday, and it’s gonna be a hell of a night depending on what the King announces.

If he stays, we party all night with great Cleveland music, film, and basketball dreams. If he goes, we party all night with great Cleveland music, film, and basketball memories.

Either way we party all night and we play the best Cleveland music you’ve never heard.

Buy local, listen local, love local: Northside Nights Cleveland Music Night, “W or W/O”, this Thursday. Check out the playlist from last month’s Night on WFNK.com here.

Lebron Loves the Hype

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Wow, life just got more complicated, check this out:

CLEVELAND, OHIO – The man known as “King James” shocked the sports world today by announcing he would forego his NBA free agency and instead sign with little known team The 2merican Dirt Devils. Potentially sacrificing hundreds of millions of dollars, Lebron says this unheralded move was done “just for the funk of it.”

This amazing development, the latest in James’ contractual ballyhoo that has gone into a fever pitch since Wednesday, is unheralded in the sports world even for a number 23. But unlike the process so far, this begs even more questions. Who are the Dirt Devils? What and where is 2merica? What does Kobe think?

For some answers on this rapidly developing story, we turned to Fugfayz Bookman, commissioner of the EBA, the league that sponsors the 2mericans. This mysterious basketball league won’t divulge where they hold their games, the current standings, or even what the E stands for, but Mr. Bookman claims LeBron will fit right in. “We started a fight club, but with basketballs.” When pressed about the ability of the Dirt Devils to match the Cleveland Cavaliers’ multimillion dollar budget and lavish treatment of it’s superstar players, Mr. Bookman boasted “We use eBay alot, so we have some nice stuff.”

The only other EBL player making himself available to the press is Ezrazmus Jones, a forward for the 2merican squad and biggest star (until now). “We are excited” said the calm EzRaz, whose mercurial and magical nature on court has earned him the nickname “Elemento”. “LeBron is a great Ohio Player so he should fit right in. I walk past that huge-ass sign of his all the time and I like it.” When asked if he could release any further information on the team or the management he laughed and declined, but he did direct us to his compuserve electronic mail account. He then said “Twitter my gopher” and ended the interview.

Finally replying to our queries through email, Jones continued to boast about his team, seemingly unaware of the hoopla surrounding him and the situation. “We have some great young talent to add to the mix so it should be a killer year. Both Jak “DirtyHott” Hanksta and Dragon Mikocovic are young ballers, and we know Coach Rudy will work them in quickly.”

Coach Rudolph Irisarzo is the man tasked with incorporating James’ amazing talent. “I accept this challenge. It is a sign. LeBron will be surrounded with talent, a great group of guys.” The King and two rookies will join an established core of big red Jaimeson “Sevenem” Lowell down low and Louie “Stonerock” Heat setting the tempo. Unlike the NBA, there will be plenty of balls to go around. “Now, the adjustment won’t be easy” opines Irisarzo, “so we gone ‘head and hired a personal liason for Lebron, a great fella named Jesus. LeBron will feel right at home with Jesus on speed-dial.”

Stay tuned basketball fans as this story will be updated with breaking news. Surely you should refresh this story and yourself often. ?Associated Pruss 2010
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