Never has a player been more debated, more scrutinized, or more criticized than LeBron Raymone James. It’s hard to judge such a player who is so divisive, however if you are able to keep a level head and not let emotions factor into it, then it is possible.
I think most of the “hate” towards LeBron was due to his decision to join the Miami Heat and the way he went about it. I will agree that having an hour-long special in a prime spot on ESPN probably wasn’t the best idea, but for as much criticism as there was about it, almost ten million people tuned in. I imagine LeBron got a hefty paycheck for doing the special as well, which leads me to ask you, would you forego possibly millions and announce your free agency like a “normal” player. It’s easy to say you would because you aren’t faced with that much money. But I will guarantee you that you would’ve done the same thing LeBron did.
Some disdain also comes from people in the city of Cleveland and people sympathetic towards them. They claim LeBron is a traitor for leaving the city. What people fail to understand is that LeBron was never going to win in Cleveland. As a small market organization they would have had a very hard time attracting any kind of star because everyone wants to play for big market teams. LeBron wanted to win badly. He knew that was his one criticism. Isn’t this what we want athletes to value over everything: winning? So he left, took less money, and went to play for a team who we knew for sure could at the very least compete for a Finals, which they did.
If you know anything about basketball at all you would know that LeBron is the most talented player in the NBA. The fact that so many people say he isn’t clutch is completely bogus. You can’t judge something so arbitrary in the first place. Secondly, the definition of the skill or mindset or whatever you feel like calling changes every time LeBron proves those people wrong. First it was the fourth quarter jokes; then LeBron started to torch people in the fourth quarter. Then it was, “Well, he hasn’t made a big shot” until he started making big shots. Now it’s, “he hasn’t done it in the Finals.”
This is by the way the worst argument of them all. To say an individual player’s achievements are simply meaningless because he hasn’t won a championship (a team award) is the most ass backwards logic I’ve ever come across. What happens to the records? Do they just disappear? No they still say that LeBron is statiscally the best player since Michael Jordan.
Now here we are, LeBron back on the biggest stage in basketball; going up against the scoring champion. I will say that if they don’t win the Finals this year that it is in fact a failure because they made the “Promise” (also a cause of hate, but don’t you want good players to be confident? Namath was and people love him). But even if they win a championship LeBron still won’t get his due.
LeBron is coming off legendary performances in his last two games. He SINGLE HANDEDLY brought his team back to win the series with a 45 point effort (only one in company with Wilt Chamberlain) in game six on the road and a game seven where he played the ENTIRE GAME and scored 30 points with a 30 foot three pointer to seal the victory.
LeBron will always be judged by a double standard regardless of whether he wins a championship this year. His “haters” can hate him all they want but it will never change the fact that he is best player in the NBA. LeBron doesn’t care what you think. In the face of immense pressure he continues to prove the doubters wrong. He finally has the team he needs to win his elusive ring. Tonight and the rest of this series we will see if LeBron can continue to silence the doubters.
Soccer has struggled to gain widespread popularity in the US and this is really a shame. I personally like the game of soccer but the majority of Americans don’t, as exhibited by the mere 67,000 who attended the USA Men’s team game against Brazil last Wednesday. Almost double that and you have the amount of people who attended Ohio States SPRING football game.
The United States is a country with ADD and soccer does not cater to that. Football has very short lag times in between plays and during those lag times you get shiny TV graphics thrown at you. Soccer can go long stretches without “action”; where teams are just passing the ball trying to set up an attack. To soccer fans this isn’t a big deal but to a casual viewer this is enough for them to change the channel. There needs to be some sort of incentive for teams to get the ball moving quicker. This is also a problem in lacrosse, where implementing a shot clock has been discussed. I think some sort of “shot clock” or “stall warning” might be good for the game of soccer. Making it so a team has to cross midfield before a certain amount of time runs out and that they couldn’t go back over midfield after a certain amount of time. If this rule is violated then the other gets a free kick or possession.
How often are we robbed of seeing a brilliant breakaway goal by a pesky offside’s call? I’ll answer…A LOT. Offside’s, in my opinion is one of the dumbest rules in all of sports. This should have been abandoned years ago. If a team wants to have someone “cherry-pick” by the goal then that’s their gamble and the other team will just have to put someone back there with him.
To make it more “TV friendly”, there needs to be more breaks in the action for commercials or you just won’t see games at primetime hours on a regular basis. There could be set breaks before corner kicks and some free kicks which would ruin it much. There could even be some before goal kicks.
The main point is, soccer is just not an American friendly game. There needs to changes made for it to be more popular in the states. Soccer “purists” will look at this and say that I am crazy for trying to “ruin” the “beautiful game”, but in reality soccer is an outdated sport. It needs to be modernized. Every sport goes through rule changes. Everyone thought football would be ruined with new contact rules and its more popular than ever. In the end, changes such as these would help soccer become more popular globally than it already is, which would be pretty impressive.
Finally school is over and I can resume writing on my blog. A lot has happened since my last post and this one but probably the most surprising and exciting has been the stellar start for the Baltimore Orioles. They are currently in first place and everyone is enjoying it, including me. However I can’t help but be skeptical. As a diehard fan, I have been burned in the past. The O’s have started fast before and they burned out and failed to finish the season even above .500.
Clearly there is no secret to why they have enjoyed so much success in this young season. The key has been pitching. There is no doubt that the Orioles can put up runs, the problem has always been preventing them. They currently have the best bullpen in baseball (led by closer Jim Johnson) and one of the better starting staffs in the league (this has not been the case recently though). The only way the Orioles will continue to contend is if they sustained success from both starters and relievers. With the return of Zach Britton coming soon, pitching could even get better which is always a good thing.
Adam Jones has led a potent lineup (as much as I don’t like him, he has been a leader and a big reason for success), with the Orioles leading the league in home runs. He is on pace for over 50 home runs this year by himself. Matt Wieters has struggled as of late however and has looked really tired at and behind the plate. They really need to rest him more and could be getting a lot more out of him if they did. Brian Roberts is set to begin a minor league rehab assignment and could rejoin the team soon. This can only improve the Orioles depth which has suffered many blows due to injuries.
This hot start has led to a lot of fans “finding” baseball again. While they may not be showing up to the ball park, I still see a lot more people in O’s gear around then I did in years past. Twitter blows up every time a game is on which is good to see for people like me who rely on social media to get publicity. If the Orioles are irrelevant then so too is this post. I have even seen concern over “bandwagon” fans. I never thought I would see the day where the words “Orioles” and “bandwagon fans” would be in the same sentence but here I am writing it. My response to this is welcome aboard! There is always room for more fans of my favorite team (that includes the Ravens too when they go to the Super Bowl next year).
So far the Orioles have won 10 out of 15 series. This is my advice to the team: take it one series at a time. If you win the majority of your series then that is the recipe for winning baseball. Who knows if this hot start will continue past July or August. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. One thing we can do right now though is enjoy the run. Because when you are a fan of perpetual loser like the O’s, the only thing to do is enjoy the little things.
P.S. The podcast will be returning soon as well and come fall, a lot of my posts will be about the Towson Tigers football team.
New podcast after a hiatus during spring break. We talk about A LOT. Tebow, Peyton, National Championship, NBA Draft predictions. Check it out here!
We have a motto here in Baltimore: “In Ozzie We Trust”. It means that even though situations may seem dire, we believe, Ozzie will find a way to fix things and everything will be ok in the end. So I, like most fans, went into this offseason thinking that the Ravens would be at least somewhat active by resigning guys and bringing in some key free agents. It turns out they were quite the opposite. They allowed key players such as Jarrett Johnson, Cory Redding, and Ben Grubbs to walk away from the team. Even role players such as Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura skipped town for paydays elsewhere. This started to trouble me until last Friday when they finally resigned Jameel McClain and Brendon Ayanbadejo and brought in Sean Considine and Corey Graham. However this news only eased my weariness for about a day.
Over the course of free agency the Ravens have continually said things along the lines of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The problem with this is that it IS broken. Last year special teams was a clear weak spot for the team, so they brought in Considine and Graham who are special teams “aficionados” (for what it’s worth). Great, we are improving something we sucked at last year but we still aren’t addressing the glaring needs on the team (Offensive Line, Linebacker, Defensive Line). I get it, last year we were a catch away from the Super Bowl but we have also lost key pieces to that team that still need replacing. While we are sitting here trying “not to fix” things other teams are out there improving. I still don’t believe that Jah Reid can step in and take Grubbs’ place. I don’t believe Kruger is an every down player yet. And I don’t believe that there is anyone currently on the roster who can replace Cory Redding.
Ozzie better get a move on before we are picking up scraps that no one wants. And he sure as hell better draft like Nostradamus (well, maybe not Nostradamus but you catch my drift) if the Ravens are going to still be a competitive team next year. I know that cap is somewhat of an issue but there are still quality guys out there who we could bring in on the cheap who are better than a Considine or a Graham. I still trust Ozzie but my trust is wearing thin. They say they have “a plan” but I sure hope it doesn’t include more ‘Moneyball’ pickups like the ones so far. But, as always…..
In Ozzie We Trust
Yesterday I did a guest column on Washington Sports Daily about the Redskins’ cap penalties. Check it out here!
I figured I’d take a break from my usual narrative and do something a little mindless since its spring break for me and, let’s be real, who wants to be doing something thought intensive during spring break. So here are my Top 5 NBA Players at their position.
- Derrick Rose– the reigning MVP can do it all, and has to. He is the majority of the offense for the Bulls, not because he is selfish, but because there is no one else on that team that can score consistently. He creates opportunities for other players by drawing so much attention and can finish at the rim better than almost anyone.
- Tony Parker– Parker has flown largely under the radar this year for…well, I don’t why. He has been incredibly consistently all year and not just consistent but consistently great. He is my MVP candidate this year; however, sadly I don’t get a vote.
- Deron Williams– He is the Nets. I challenge you to name one player on that team besides Kris Humphries (who you probably only know because he dated a Kardashian). He scores consistently and is just an all around great player.
- Rajon Rondo– I hate the term “pure point guard” because quite frankly it’s very narrow-minded. Saying that point guards should be “pass first” and not “scorers”. But if anyone deserves the title its Rondo. He is one of the best passers in the game and can still score. Only, shooting from outside 10 feet remains a problem.
- Russell Westbrook– Westbrook gets a lot of criticism for not passing when he should. I can agree with this sometimes but he still performs at a high level despite criticism. Something some players can’t handle.
- Kobe Bryant– Obviously a future Hall of Famer. Bryant is playing like a man possessed this year. He is carrying an obviously “not all there” Lakers team. Kobe clearly wants to match Jordan and rings and is letting his play do the talking.
- Dwyane Wade– Wade is playing at a high level like normal but when you watch him, he is clearly trying to one up Lebron at times. Like he doesn’t want to lose “his” team as people say. He consistently takes shots out of Lebron’s hands when he is hot.
- Monta Ellis– Ellis was the lifeblood of the Warriors until he was traded right at the trade deadline. This was a terrible trade when he was their team. Ellis is a great pure shooter and can finish at the rim as well. I can see him becoming number 1 on this list at some point in his career.
- Kevin Martin– Martin is one of the best shooters in the NBA. He carries a somewhat mediocre Rockets team. He is highly underrated and would do much better with good players around him which is scary to imagine.
- Manu Ginobilli– Ginobilli can do everything very good but not one thing great. Consistency is the name of the game and he definitely embodies that quality.
- Lebron James– Lebron is just the best player in the NBA so how could he not be number one at his position?
- Kevin Durant– His sheer size gives him an incredible advantage at this position and allows him to shoot over defenders. He is incredibly quick and continues to improve his game, which is kind of scary.
- Paul Pierce– Like Kobe he is a sure-fire Hall of Famer. He has proven his skills over his career and can still play with the best of them. Not to mention he one of the best defenders in the league
- Danny Granger – Playing in Indiana won’t get you noticed by many but Granger lets his play do the talking. He is a deadly shooter from anywhere on the court and is capable of finishing around the rim and in traffic.
- Carmelo Anthony– Melo has really fallen off this year. He continues to let his attitude affect the way he plays. With that being said, he is still a top 5 SF and there is no denying that.
- Kevin Love– Love is playing at a ridiculously high level this year. He is racking up stats that no one in the history of the NBA has ever had. He is a complete player. He can shoot from anywhere and can play inside.
- Chris Bosh– When Bosh gets involved, the Heat win. It’s that simple. When you complete yours team like that and have the skill set that he does it’s tough to compete with.
- Dirk Nowitzki– Despite his injury troubles Dirk is still playing at a high level and is still sinking those impossible shots that he became famous for in the Finals last year.
- Kevin Garnett– Though he is getting up in age, Garnett is still one of the best out there. His defense is almost second to none.
- Josh Smith– Smith’s athletic ability is ridiculous. He can run the floor like a point guard and can match up with centers. He is a great defender that only needs to improve his shooting.
- Dwight Howard– His antics this year would’ve been distracting for other players but he was able to deal with them. He is having a great year despite trade rumors.
- Andrew Bynum– Bynum is stepping up this year and is actually staying healthy. If Kobe could just give him the ball more he would be even better.
- Joakim Noah– Consistency is the name of his game. Game in and game out he puts up solid numbers and his defensive skills are off the charts.
- Al Horford– Despite my jokes about him, Horford is an up and coming young talent who is already among the league’s best.
- Al Jefferson– He is the centerpiece of the Jazz’s offense. Without him they are probably one of the league’s worst teams. That says something about Jefferson as a player.