Finals and other stuff
Not but 24 hours after the Blackhawks brought a title home to the Chi, Boston evens up its series with the Lakers. Why? Da BENCH. Let me say this right now...last night's game is the reason why I picked Boston over Los Angeles to start this series. When you've got the luxury to leave your reserves out on the floor in the 4th quarter of a game that if you lose, you've all but guaranteed you're finished (no team has come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals), that's saying a LOT. Yes, Rasheed and Nate managed to get boneheaded technicals (Rasheed's was more damaging as he's now one tech away from being done for the series, depending on when he gets it and what the series is), but the Lakers uncharacteristically couldn't make em' pay from the line. But there's a few other basketball stories that deserve my attention, such as but not limited to...
Tom Izzo To Cleveland?!
- Say it ain't so, Izzo. Look Tom, you've got a great thing going in East Lansing. You took a team that had no business being to the Final Four there a year ago and for all intents and purposes, you're probably heading up a Top 10 team coming into this upcoming season. You've got complete autonomy in East Lansing and you won't have the pressure of having a suit give you the boot because you failed to win 30 games or get the team to the National Championship game.
So why, in the name of all that's sensible in the world do you consider a job where MIKE BROWN couldn't succeed after June 2007? Yes, I get that Gilbert's a Spartan alum. Yes, I get that you've got an itch for the Association that you've been dying to scratch. But historically, only Larry Brown has succeeded on the pro and college level. None have done it since. John Calipari made one playoff appearance before he was shitcanned, Pitino made a couple of playoff appearances with the Knicks, but it's his ill fated stint with the Celtics that is more noteworthy than anything else. There's no guarantee that LeBron's coming back and even if he does, there's really no guarantee that any help's coming with him. You'd be going to work for a franchise that has done nothing but regress and regress horribly since its Finals run three years ago, with the rest of the conference around you getting better and younger.
But Len, they're making inquiries about trading Delonte West and Mo Williams...
Weren't those two supposed to be UPGRADES that helped LeBron get to the promised land? Good grief, I'm glad I'm right. I know I've stated I'd type up a letter to LeBron and trust me, it is coming in light of all that's come down the pike since last month's 2nd round elimination. Oh and Dan Gilbert, you're not consulting your franchise player/free agent about who his next coach might be should he choose to stay? I hope and pray you're not THIS moronic. No, not stupid. M-O-R-O-N-I-C. If you're actually telling the truth and not placating to the media, then a month from now when your franchise takes a drop that makes the Hindenberg seem like a feather hitting the floor by comparison...it'll be well deserved.
Now maybe Izzo's capable of pulling this off with or without LeBron. But more than likely, it's highly doubtful WITH LeBron and without him...shit, I'd take Cleveland State beating Cleveland in that race. Tom, you don't want this job. There's a reason Coach K's not looking to be bothered in this lifetime and guess what? He had a chance to coach KOBE BRYANT and said "no". The Association is about the PLAYERS you're coaching, not YOU. Coaches come a dime a dozen, hence why there's such a high turnover in the pros compared to college. You don't have that much room for error, especially in an 82 game season where you've got to worry about 12 egos plus management plus a fanbase that's expecting you to be Christ Incarnate turning pretender into World Champion. I don't like your odds here...STAY IN SCHOOL!
Avery Is Mike's Man In Jersey
- Originally, I was rather livid that Prokhorov settled on Avery. I don't quite like coaches who find ways to blow 2-0 leads in the Finals. It's not exactly conducive to winning a championship, going with a coach who blew one as opposed to possibly waiting on a coach who has won...TEN OF THEM. So, for the second time in my life, one of my favorite teams has elected to pass on the Lord Of The Rings (Phil) and gone another way. In 1999, the Knicks were left with no other choice but to stick with Van Gundy after he basically let the Knicks run themselves to the NBA Finals.
Conversely, I can't say I'm overly angry about this hire either. It's a good hire, it's one that can and SHOULD inspire hope in not just the fanbase, but in potential free agents heading into next month as well. Of course if this brings Dirk to the Nets, I think I may have to bolt ship. I will lay 2006 on Dirk's doorstep moreso than Avery. I'll lay the 2007 meltdown on Dallas as a franchise, because there was no way Nellie was getting thrown out of the playoffs by his old team. Nellie helped build it, he knew how to render it null and void. As for 2008, which was his swan song...eh. But the fact remains, his winning percentage is one of the highest among active coaches and that's cause for optimism. I still maintain that Byron's the best coach in the history of the franchise aside from Chuck Daly, if for no other reason, Byron took em' to 2 NBA Finals.
All told, from a structural standpoint, I can't see why the Nets aren't realistic favorites to get LeBron. Great owner, proven executive, established head coach, young, talented roster. All the pieces needed to not just make a championship run, but to keep it going over the next few years. (I'll lay out the New Jersey formula for at the very least, two titles in the next three years. Including a Plan A *with LeBron* and Plan B *without LeBron*.)
Hollywood Mogul Wants Clips, Confident It Can Land LeBron...
- Okay, the worst kept secret in sports is that Donald Sterling is happy torturing fans in Los Angeles. If there's one reason we don't have two viable options in the Los Angeles area for basketball, Sterling is it. He has made it clear, for nearly three decades that he's not selling the franchise. Takes the whole "you're going to have to take it from my cold, dead hands" to a whole other level. Well, here's a point I was saving for my LeBron Letter, but here it is...
The only hope we have for seeing Kobe/LeBron in the playoffs before Kobe walks off into the sunset as Basketball Jesus to Basketball God (Jordan), is if LeBron's in a Clipper uniform and we get (don't laugh) Clippers/Lakers in the playoffs. Oh and with the way seeding works, why not in the Western Conference Finals? Could you imagine the seismic shift in the Continental Shelf if the Clippers were to not just get to the NBA Finals, but get there at the expense of the Lakers?!
David Geffen is a billionaire entertainment guy who's behind DreamWorks Studios, is a record exec, film and theatrical producer. He's absolutely CERTAIN that as long as he's calling the shots, he can deliver LeBron. Sounds great in theory and in theory, LeBron's legacy would hit Jordanesque heights if he could not just go to the Clips, but get them to a stage nobody ever imagined. Remember the shock we were in when the Arizona Cardinals got the Super Bowl, take that and multiply it by a billion then divide by a million. It'd be THAT HUGE. The other thing to note is that the Clips, actually have a reasonably talented young roster. Good All-Star in the pivot with Kaman, excellent point in Baron, Blake Griffin coming off injury and a lot of young parts that are ready to run wild with LeBron.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, that "letter" will come after the Finals and probably, most likely sometime after the Draft as part of my vaunted "Wrap Up". Now I can give my word that it'll be either just after the Draft or just BEFORE contracts can officially be inked and commitments can be made public (2nd week of July). Oh and even though this has been a primarily NBA driven piece, I have to touch on one college football matter and no, it's not the realignment that's about to hit the NCAA.
University of Sanctioned California Trojans
- I guess the term "Trojan Horse" takes on a whole new meaning now, huh? Pete Carroll's exodus to Starbucks Central to coach the Seahawks now looks a little clearer. Check that, it seems to be a WHOLE LOT CLEARER now that USC's been bitchsmacked by the NCAA. Two year postseason ban, check. 2004 National Championship never happened, check. See us that and raise us the following season stricken from the books, check and double check. Reggie Bush's Heisman possibly being revoked by the Heisman Trust...that, I'm kinda drawing the line at for this reason.
Reggie's indiscretions were off the field, not on it. When he was on the field, he was the best player in the nation. Period, point blank. Still, they're losing scholarships, they'll go two years without a single bowl appearance and well...the best two year stretch of USC football is off the books entirely as if it never happened. Ya know, not to be overly conservative, but I'm getting sick of these coaches that run to the pros the second they smell shit like this coming. Kelvin Sampson didn't get off so easy, but then again he was such a repeat offender they had no choice but to make it so anyone who hires him shows they've essentially got a screw or two loose.
But yeah, I'm not going with the "doom and gloom" smiel for USC. There are more than enough talking heads doing that for me. If this were any other program, sure. It would be. But guess what? Miami and Alabama were hit with sanctions from the NCAA, they rebounded and won national titles after picking up the pieces. My personal theory on sanctions is this...
If you're a school like SMU, who received the vaunted Death Penalty and has never been the same since, you need to keep your nose clean. Cross every T, dot every I, even ones that aren't there. Sanctions can and usually will kill your program. If you're a program that's got name credibility among high schoolers, like Miami, Alabama or USC...you'll take a hit for a couple of years. You'll probably lose more than you're used to and see others pass you by. But once you get clear of them and can recruit on the level you're used to recruiting, it's back to business as usual. That's what USC has here. It will suck for the next few years and yeah, the Pac-10 will probably see some new faces atop that conference. Especially if it adds most of the Big XII South sans Baylor as most expect. (Not to mention geographically speaking, I think it'd help the Pac-10 gets some more brownie points with the BCS than going to the Big Not Ten Conference like Nebraska's doing.)
I think Lane was basically the wrong man at the right place at the wrong time with Tennessee. There was no way he was outrecruiting the New Ball Coach, nor was he topping Florida in that division. (Never mind the beasts in the SEC South that he had to try and outrecruit on a yearly basis.) Best case scenario, he manages an upset or two over a Georgia or Alabama, staves off the axe and eventually gets canned in 4 maybe 5 years tops. He got offered a much better job (although the circumstances went from possibly bad to downright repugnant in the blink of an eye) and he took it.
So now, USC has to make do with what it was dealt. They got caught cheating and the fruits of their labor will be repo'd by the NCAA. Guess the "V" now stands for "Victimized"...eh?