The Narrative

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A – America is failing, big time. We used to be great but not anymore. We don’t win anymore. We are being passed up by every other country (not that I follow them) and we just let illegal immigrants run roughshod over our country. So-called refugees are just closet muslim terrorists.

–or–

usaswimB – America is great — flawed, complicated, but great and facing our future challenges. Our strength is our diversity, our freedom as guaranteed in the constitution and the bill of rights, and our democracy. Americans excel in every area they compete in, and we are able to band together and team up better than other countries of similar size.


 

Which narrative do the Olympics fit?

Final medal count, Rio 2016:

United States – 121 total, 46 gold
Britain – 67 total, 27 gold
China – 70 total, 26 gold
Russia – 56 total, 19 gold
Germany – 42 total, 17 gold


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No surprise, B represents the olympic ideal. A is Trumpism.

So what does Trump think about the Olympics? Not much. No comment. Nothing to say. No congratulations, no commentary at all from the motormouth.

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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.

Curse Breakers

When something’s wrong in #TheLand, who you gonna call?

Curse Busters!

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Just a little update on the details of the Cleveland Curse. I hate how it’s sold as nothing but losing teams for 50 years.

The Curse is that Cleveland has come with some amazing teams over the years, but just can’t get that ring/trophy in the modern era:


The Cavs – 46 seasons in NBA = 5 division titles – 3 conference titles – 0 championships

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Early Cavalier greatness by Nate Thurmond


The Browns – 66 seasons in NFL = 12 division titles – 11 conference titles – 4 championships (last one 1964)

The Browns – 4 seasons in AAFC = 4 division titles – 4 conference titles – 4 championships (last one 1949)

plus 16 players in the Hall of Fame, 4th most in the league.

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Otto Graham invented the modern QB position and won several titles.


The Indians – 116 seasons in MLB = 5 league Pennants – 2 championships (last one 1950)

31 players in the Hall of Fame

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The great Bob Feller.


 

2-1 Cleveland With Momentum

The Warriors MVP woke up, finally, towards the end of game 3, down by 20. It was good but scary as a Cavs fan to see Stephon Curry hit 3 straight.

Other than that, Cleveland has owned this series. Through their own inability to close they are up 2-1 as opposed to 3-0, winning nearly every quarter of this series so far.

The Cavs seem to want it more, the Cleveland crowds are better, the city is rocking, things are looking up. But it’s only 2-1, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Dubs and Cavs have come back from 2-1 already this year.

Dellavedova breaks arms, legs, neck. Will play game 4

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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.

 

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!

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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

Improving The NFL

Just doing my part to improve the NFL.

1 – Bring kickoff returns back

These now-rare plays used to always be among the most exciting plays every game. Why did the NFL get rid of them? Did they mean to? What could possibly replace a long kickoff return for excitement?

Punt returns are still around and still exciting but the NFL needs to bring kickoff returns back. They killed Cribbs and Bess!

If player safety is the issue here then rework the blocking and the speed of the defenders — but please stop the kicker from putting it out of the end zone. Josh Cribbs get on ESPN, let’s get this done!

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Josh, we need you! Someone give this man a microphone so he can kill touchbacks.

2 – Show more widescreen and full views

There are two great views of football that TV coverage rarely shows – overhead, and end zone. Most fans have big screens and have played Madden and they like these analytical views.

Yet TV coverage these days is all closeups between the standard sideline-pressbox view. Even when they go to the end zone camera they zoom in on the quarterback so you don’t get to see the action downfield! They almost never pull out the blimp view even though it’s awesome for long plays (specially the kick returns also going extinct as outlined above).

One new improvement is the floating birds-eye camera, but I wish they’d use it for over-the-QB view in big games.

3 – Less commercial breaks (no really!)

I know the sponsors pay the bills for the telecast. This is not an attempt to reduce sponsorship dollars. It is, however, an attempt to improve the viewing experience and fan interaction to the point that it could lead to better ROI for sponsors.

All that the networks would have to do is group the commercials into longer breaks around the game, not during it. That means that commercials are played during pre-game, at quarter ends and  halftime, and all day Sunday between games during Football Day In America.

During the game – whenever play stops for more than a few seconds from things like possession changes, scores, timeouts, and injuries, simply go back to the studio for discussion about the game in progress.

No one wants to see a boner or car commercial for the 17th time after a big momentum change in the game. It’s the most horrible moment in entertainment.  Big Play! OMG! Old people boner commercial.

During the action is when you are intrigued and most engaged, and that’s exactly when american TV cuts away to an irrelevant sponsor spot. Greed over programming quality IMHO.

The current coverage immediately breaks the mood and leaves the game seemingly every 2 minutes to sell me so much crap it’s hard to even watch.

Then the commercials are always louder than the game, impossible hard to ignore especially with repeated airing during the same game. They also couldn’t be further from sports and not tied to the moment at all. A huge missed opportunity for sponsors to befriend, not alienate, the viewer.

The end result? We lose attention so often we have to force ourself to watch an entire football game without leaving for something else — the internet, another channel, chores, a magazine, something happening outside. It’s popular now to watch multiple games at once, that’s how boring most of the coverage has been.

And this is on your favorite team — sitting through that presentation on other games is for the hardcore only. Even hardcore fans hate the constant commercial interruptions and the commercials themselves.

Think of the alternative: a group of sponsors are featured by logo, mentions, even product tie-ins, but the focus stays on the game and on football except for 1-3 breaks per half, and those breaks are a solid 4+ minutes so you can do your thing without missing any action. I personally would appreciate those sponsors far more than the intrusive ads ruining my football now.

I don’t believe the NFL would ever go full-soccer, where there are literally no video commercials during each half and sponsors only have sideline and uniform placement during the game. But the model that could be implemented for the NFL is how the NBA is presented in European and South American coverage that I’ve been able to view.

Their NBA coverage goes back to the studio when play stops, where 2-3 analysts immediately react to the pace of the game and even review fan tweets while watching a feed of the game and waiting until play resumes. When play resumes they jump right back to the game and you never lose your place or your mindset.

They do sneak some commercials in every few breaks and they end being way less distracting and work perfectly as a bathroom or snack break.

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Watching the game with these guys is far more enjoyable than watching with Viagra, Buick, Verizon, Samsung, Crooked Politicians, Viagra, Progressive, GMC, AT&T, Verizon, Apple, Exxon, Cialis, Buick, Crooked Politician, Viagra, Geico, Honda, Buick, Viagra …..

I actually have experienced this for an NFL telecast once or twice, and I believe it was Sky or ESPN Europe type of thing, where they went to the studio for in-game breaks and the 3 analysts were watching the game and waiting to comment and fill the time during the break. It was a far more enjoyable way to watch american football.

Like most american males I think about football most of the week, waiting in anticipation of the big showdown on Sunday. The ritual of it, regardless of your teams success, is alluring and keeps the NFL at the top of the ratings.

But I also feel like actually watching the games these days either requires serious channel surfing or having something else to do so you don’t s mash the TV or slit your wrists during every commercial break. We all make weird small talk about the lame commercials and/or put food in our mouths to pass the awkward breaks.

And the snacks don’t taste as good with boner commercials as the soundtrack. Fix this please, NFL+TV networks. I know you are an all powerful ruler in America, I appeal to your wisdom oh master please fix my beloved football!

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.


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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).

Outmatched

It’s Americans verse Germans in the World Cup, with both looking to advance to the next round. The Germans might be the best team in the world, and the USA team is just pretty happy to be there.

Team USA’s saying has become “I believe I can win” and they are gonna need belief, because they are really outmatched against Germany.

USA has a player named “Zuesy” so that’s a good sign. It’s gonna come down to our master of the goal saving us from the onslaught of German attacks.

15 minutes in and it’s all Germany on the attack.

 

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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Best Back Ever

Best running back ever. I love Payton, Sanders, and yep Foster, but c’mon, no one owned the league from the backfield like Jimmy Brown. This was before my time but you know I would’ve had season tix to watch that dude every Sunday. Plus Mr. Brown was right about Trent Richardson and Mike Holmgren. People outside of Cleveland use us as an easy target but Jim’s right, the trade was the right move. No way TRich is worth a first round pick, Holmgren made that mistake, and the Colts just repeated it.

Plus who do you want on your side when the aliens invade?

 

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?