January 01, 2020
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February 05, 2018
Jordan vs. LeBron Debate Myths, Part 1
One of the common arguments against Jordan is that he "didn't get out of the first round until Scottie came." Not to take anything away from Scottie, who is undoubtedly one of 50 greatest players of all time, but in his rookie season when the Bulls made it to the Eastern Conference Semis (87-88), he had role-player numbers. Even still, the next year when the Bulls made it to the Conference Finals (88-89), Scottie's numbers were good but not all-star caliber. See here:
1987-88 (Rookie Season - Bulls Lose East Conf Semis)
Reg Season: 7.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Playoffs: 10.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.8 BPG
1988-89 (Bulls Lose East Conf Finals)
Reg Season: 14.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.9 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Playoffs: 13.1 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.9 BPG
P.S. What many people fail to point out is that in LeBron's first two years in the league (2003-04 and 2004-05), the Cavs didn't even make the playoffs (9th seed in the East both years).
Stats cited from Sports Reference LLC
January 14, 2017
When comparing superstars from the “straight out of high school” era, like LeBron or Kobe, to superstars from previous eras like MJ or Bird, I sometimes hear the argument that because Kobe, LeBron etc. have more or will end up with more career points, it means they’re more talented offensive players. It’s a flawed argument. MJ, Magic, Bird, were drafted out of college after playing several years (because that was the norm at the time). Because LeBron and Kobe made the leap from high school to the NBA (when that became the norm for elite HS players), they had the opportunity to play more seasons in their physical prime than their predecessors. As long as they're relatively healthy in that time, it's likely they'll have greater career totals. Use career per game average, FG%, efficiency, etc. but don’t use career totals when comparing superstars of those different generations. For one generation, those numbers are inflated.
December 29, 2016
When to Use the "How Many Rings Does He Have?" Argument
One of the most frustrating things about reading or listening to basketball player comparisons is when people use the “how many rings does he have?” argument incorrectly. It seems to come up in conversations like… Person 1: “Call me when LeBron has as many rings as MJ…”; Person 2: “In that case, Bill Russell and Robert Horry are better players than Jordan...they both have more rings!” The number of rings a player has should be brought into a basketball conversation only when you’re comparing players who dominate the game in multiple ways for a generation. These are the kind of guys that are clearly the best players on their respective squads and are the catalysts (not just contributors) for their teams being title contenders over a number of years. As great as they were, that kind of identity doesn’t apply to Robert Horry (7 Rings), Dennis Rodman (5 Rings), or similar players.
This is why we use the rings argument. It helps us basketball heads rank THE MOST talented basketball players ever. Players like Kareem, Bird, MJ, etc. were clearly the best of the best of their generations. But when comparing their talents and legacies as if to rank them, we have to turn to rings. It almost fulfills the purpose of a “talent tiebreaker.” How was that player able to elevate his team to a championship against other great teams and great players and how many times was he able to do it over his career? Additionally, how did that player compete and handle the pressure of playing on the biggest stage?
Now, using the rings argument to rank the greatest across all basketball generations is tough given (1) Bill Russell and (2) the player-facilitated Super Teams of recent years. Not to take anything away from Mr. Russell, who is truly one of the greatest players of all-time, but I always wonder if he would have been able to achieve the same amount of success if he played anytime from the 80's to today. Between more teams in the league, greater parity, and more evolved free agency, I think it would have been more difficult for Bill and the Celtics to achieve the same kind of success. Bill did play with 8 other Hall of Famers over the course of those 11 championship seasons with the Celtics and by the time he retired, there were 14 teams in the league. As for the Super Teams of this generation (Golden State and the LeBron-led Miami Heat), I still firmly believe elite players teaming up with one another to win championships diminishes the significance of those championships.
December 17, 2016
On Wednesday, Dec. 14, playing against the Raptors, the 76ers did something that I've been waiting for them to do all season: start both Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor in the front court. Now, conventional wisdom might say that it's a bad idea considering today's style of basketball in the NBA (thank you, Golden State) and the fact that you're playing two low post scorers at the same time who both demand the ball. Even with that said, I'm excited about this. In my mind it's a throwback to the "Twin Towers" of Akeem Olajuwon & Ralph Sampson or (to a lesser extent) David Robinson & Tim Duncan. To have one offensively talented big man who plays in the post, let alone two, has been extremely rare in the NBA for the past decade or so. It's going to take a lot to make it work in part because of the ego factor (each wants the ball; how do you please both?) However, I really hope these two can work together to make a success out of this experiment and help facilitate a renaissance of post play in the NBA.
July 10, 2016
There's this notion that the Boston Celtics Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce began the current era of Super Teams in the NBA. This age of super teams in the league is characterized by elite players deciding among themselves to join forces while still in their prime. This is different from super teams of the past who were built 'organically' (through trades, draft picks and 'normal' free agency) or super teams that included former great players who were past their primes and jumped on a bandwagon at the end of their careers.
The Celtics Big Three was created by trades. Paul Pierce was obviously already playing in Boston. Ray Allen was traded from the Sonics to the Celtics in June 2007 (five-player deal). That next month, Kevin Garnett was traded from Minnesota to Boston in exchange for five players, cash considerations and a couple of 1st round picks.
What LeBron, Wade and Bosh did in Miami began the trend of top-tier players in their prime deciding to play together, not the Celtics. Many are perfectly fine with elite players coming together on their own volition to chase multiple rings. 'A super team is a super team, regardless of how it's built', they say. There's just something about the super teams of this era that gives off a 'shortcut' vibe to me.
July 06, 2016
Let's take a look at the stats of D-Wade and Chris Bosh in 2009-10 (the season before LeBron joined them to become 'The Big 3' in Miami)...
Dwyane Wade (MIA): 77 Games, 26.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 6.5 APG, 5th in MVP voting, All-NBA First Team, All-Star Game Starter, Age 28
Chris Bosh (TOR): 70 Games, 24.0 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 2.4 APG, Tied for 12th in MVP voting, All-Star Game Reserve, Age 25; was not selected for an All-NBA Team
Did they both experience injuries before and during 2009-10? Yes, but clearly, based on their production and age, they were still within the primes of their careers and among the NBA's elite at the time they teamed up with LeBron. For those who aren't fans of players initiating Super Teams, including myself, I would agree that what Kevin Durant has done to join Golden State is 'worse' than the situation in Miami. However, let's be real, the Big 3 of LeBron, Wade and Bosh set the precedent.
July 04, 2016
There's a misconception that the NBA 'Super Teams' of this era (which began with LeBron's move to South Beach) are the same as the stacked NBA teams of the past. The difference is that the super teams of today are engineered by the players. In the past 6 years, superstars like KD and LeBron have taken it upon themselves to team up with other elite NBA players in order to win a ring. Most teams of past decades that were stacked with talent (like the Showtime Lakers, Russell's Celtics, Bird's Celtics, etc.) were molded and created by general managers and vice presidents who have the job of COMPETING against each other to get the best talent on their respective teams.
Super teams of today are even different from the Los Angeles Lakers of Wilt, Baylor and West or the Houston Rockets of the mid-to-late 90's or even the Lakers of 2003-04. Remember when Charles Barkley requested the trade to join Hakeem and Clyde's Rockets in 1996 or when Karl Malone and Gary Payton joined the Lakers in 2003? Those stars were past their primes and in the twilight periods of their careers when they decided to jump to title contenders.
I'm more comfortable with you transitioning to a great team at the end of your career to try and win a title. In contrast, I'm not a big fan of an elite player making a jump while still in his prime to play with other superstars who are also in their primes. Regardless of how 'old school' and 'out dated' it sounds, I believe the greatest of the great in the league should be COMPETING against each other rather than taking the 'buddy up' route to shortcut their way to championships.
July 04, 2016
I'm just not a fan of this current 'Super Team' era of the NBA. I do understand the desire to win championships. However, when you're a top-5 player in the NBA who is in the prime of his career and you join forces with another perennial MVP candidate(s) to form a super team, it's like you're taking a shortcut to a ring. It destroys competitive balance in the NBA and it seems to taint any rings you win with that squad. When the careers of KD and LeBron are over, whether it's justified or not, we'll compare their legacies to those of other great players of the past. When making those comparisons, we'll wonder out loud if the championships KD and Bron won with their respective "self-made" super teams were really legit. I honestly think it's a fair criticism. The best of the best in the league should be COMPETING against one another, not joining forces.
June 21, 2016
All of these ‘where does LeBron rank all-time?’ debates have got us thinking. Does it 'hurt' LeBron’s legacy when you consider his teams (which have included him and two other perennial all-stars, both in Miami and Cleveland) made the Finals the last 6 seasons against a consistently weak Eastern Conference? What if those LeBron-led squads played in the more competitive West? Would we have seen King James in the Finals as regularly over the years? It’s probably too soon to ask these questions (they just won the championship two days ago) and maybe we’re overthinking it but this seems to be a legitimate question when you start having 'who’s the best player ever?' conversations.
June 20, 2016
So many times, we become prisoners of the moment. The typical but understandable 'short term memory' seems to be on display as we watch our favorite talking heads discuss LeBron's rank among the all-time greats. We're going to let LeBron have his moment in the sun, knowing he and the Cavs accomplished something truly great last night. But at some point soon, when the dust clears, we're having an informed discussion (without revisionist history) about ranking the greatest players ever. The biggest tragedy is that Kareem's name isn't even mentioned in the discussions we've heard today...
June 19, 2016
LeBron is going to get most of the publicity over the next few months but don't forget what Kyrie Irving did here tonight..." #CongratsCleveland #NBAChamps
June 18, 2016
I wonder who other die hard Michael Jordan fans will be rooting for in Game 7. Die hard MJ fans (like myself) want to preserve the public perception that Jordan is the greatest player of all time. If the Cavs win, LeBron will get his 3rd championship and there’ll be increased chatter of how LeBron is eclipsing Michael as the greatest (especially after leading his team back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals). If the Warriors win, many will transfer the “greatest team ever” stamp from MJ’s 95-96 Bulls to this year’s Warriors. Tough call: not sure what a Jordan fan should be more annoyed by...
June 17, 2016
Yes, LeBron James was absolutely dominant…again (and has been hitting his jumper consistently the last few games)...
Yes, Golden State committed way too many ridiculous turnovers…
Yes, Tristan Thompson has been manhandling the Warriors on the boards…
And yes, Klay Thompson came up big in the 3rd quarter to keep the Warriors in the game…
But above all that (and the fact that the Warriors didn’t show up in the 1st quarter), there’s one thing that stood out to me more than anything else:
Harrison Barnes was nowhere to be found in the last two games….
Game 5: 2-14, 5 pts, 5 reb, 1 asst
Game 6: 0-8, 0 pts, 2 reb, 0 asst
He better show up in Game 7....
June 14, 2016
Kyrie Irving played Game 5 the exact same way he played in Game 4. In both games he was aggressive and in attack mode. But after Game 4, much of the media said he was playing 'Hero Ball' and taking bad shots. Here after Game 5, he's being praised as having one of the greatest performances in Finals history. So, what's the difference? Simple: in Game 5, he made shots. It's a make or miss league. Make them and they'll say you're a world-beater. Miss them and they'll say you're hurting the offense. Just ask Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook....
June 11, 2016
The criticism Lebron received from the media after Games 1 and 2 was unfair. At that point in the series, the onus was on Kyrie and the supporting cast to play better to give the Cavs a chance to win. But in Game 4, LeBron was definitely more passive than he should have been. Time after time, he had smaller players on him and we couldn't figure out why he wasn't taking them to the hoop or punishing them inside...
June 11, 2016
Give the Warriors credit for how they closed out the Cavs tonight. With that said, I can't stand it when the Warriors play with 'super-small' lineups. When their tallest player on the floor is 6'6" or 6'7", Golden State gives up so many rebounds and can't really protect the rim. Even still, they continue to win and with them now up 3-1, it's looking like back-to-back championships for the Bay Area...
June 02, 2016
History will remember the Warriors as the team led by the amazing shooting of the Splash Brothers. We'll remember the Warriors for how deep their team was. Livingston, Barbosa, Barnes, Iguodala on the perimeter. Bogut, Green, Ezeli and Speights inside. All of them PLUS Curry & Thompson....man #toomanyweapons
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