The Sissified Rant

I know…I know…Len’s never EARLY with any column. But this year, I am. I’m going to write the column which I hold above all others I write, but before I go there, I need to speak on something.
(Trust me, it’ll segue rather nicely to the column at hand.)

Saturday afternoon in a game that very few, if any cared about, Rutgers beat Army in OT. The top story in that game however, was Rutgers DT Erick LeGrand being paralyzed from the neck down. Okay, no big deal, freak occurence. Turn the clock forward a little over 24 hours later to the game of football where its competitors are handsomely paid to do it before packed houses and such.
Body after body it seemed was getting carried off, due to some Super High Impact Football style “Somebody get a BODY BAG!!!” hits. At the center of this storm in terms of hits were Dunta Robinson of the Falcons (his hit took out his intended target and himself to boot), Brandon Meriweather (can’t say this guy wasn’t watching classic NFL shit, he was headhunting Todd Heap in a way that would’ve made Jack Tatum smile) and most notably of the bunch, former Defensive Player Of The Year James Harrison. Ask Mossaquoi and Cribbs how interacting with him went this past Sunday, if they can recollect it. Both left the game with concussions. In light of all this, the NFL decided enough’s enough. Well, enough’s enough if we intend on these guys living through an 18 game stretch plus playoffs starting next year.

Because if you’re thinking there’s anything beyond that motive behind this sudden “enforcement” of rules that I wonder if they were even on the books from the get-go…you’re either delusional, stupid or working for the league offices. Not to get all John Witherspoon here, but the whole damn world’s gone sissified on me.

WWE’s taking a hard stance on chair shots to the noggin and blood in its matches. (Nothing to do with Linda McMahon running for Christopher Dodd’s Senate seat, by the way. Wink wink.) Vince is even doing his best to help, asking folks to “Take A Stand For WWE”. Really Vince? You expect us all to just MIB clear of you having your son-in-law feign screwing a corpse? (It’s late and I’m too lazy to look up the technical term for such a grotesque act. :P) You expect us to forget that you actually booked an I Quit match where it was you against your daughter Stephanie, a match that ended with you choking her out with a lead pipe causing your wife to throw in the towel? Yeah, I wouldn’t stand for that shit if I had stacks of hundred dollar bills under me. Your wife deserves to lose, if for no other reason, subjecting us to that Billy and Chuck bullshit.

NBA’s getting even more sissified, even though their measures are probably more Draconian than the NFL. Starting this year in what can only be deemed “The Rasheed Wallace Rule”, any NBA player that so much as bad eyes a referee is getting T’d up. I’m going over 4 playoff series that end up getting tilted the wrong way because of this rule and I’m probably going to be wrong there. “So Dave, your refs may be crooked and have their own agendas. What are you going to do to crack down on this?” “Well, I’m going to give them the power to turn games to their own personal agendas by calling technicals on any player that gets a little too demonstrative after a foul call.”

Brilliant! Well done, Commish. Bud Selig thinks that’s fucking moronic and he’s the guy who thought the best way to get folks watching the All-Star game, was to put homefield in the World Series on the line. Basically rendering the 2nd half null and void for reasons other than to decipher homefield within each league. Equally as brilliant, Commissioner Goodell taxing men for giving the fans what they pay to see (as barbaric as it might be) MONTHS before a possible lockout. Yet, we want MORE GAMES going into the next CBA. Look, I’ll cover each of these potential Billionaires vs. Millionaires deals as such… NFL
– I just want a rookie cap. I’m sick of seeing these clowns come out, hold out and then do next to jackshit when they get on the field. Earn your pay. The NBA has it right in this regard, 1st rounders get a set amount depending on where you get picked. 2nd rounders? Play your way to a pay day.
– NO NO NO NO NO to 18 games. Roger, you say you want late season games to matter, right? Fine. Keep it as is, schedule more divisional contests. Say you’ve got a deal where one team’s more or less in a weak division and has it wrapped before Thanksgiving. Think they’re going to go all out for games 15, 16, 17 & 18? Especially if they’ve assured themselves of homefield in the playoffs and a bye week? FUCK NO. Oh by the by, if just one week of hellacious hits is giving you the willies, imagine EIGHTEEN GAMES of this shit plus playoffs. (Never mind the preseason being short two games and the opportunities those no-names are going to miss out on to make an impact or impression for some potential employer.) All about the Benjys, right Roge?

– Eliminate the Rasheed Wallace Rule. I’m telling you Davey, it’s going to really compound a problem you haven’t fully addressed and it’s not going to make it go away. You’ve got a Zebra Issue and giving them more power (think Donaghy’s not wishing he weren’t still in the league for this upcoming season?) to send stars to the showers before halftime, isn’t what your product needs. ESPECIALLY a year before you potentially have a work stoppage. You’ve basically sissified the game to the point where teams like Dallas and Phoenix can average a little over 120 a game in their sleep. (Yet and still with these rule changes, defense is still the prevailing order of the day come playoff time, so what does that tell ya?)

Alright enough on that. Time to get serious. I will do this upcoming preview in two parts. First one covers virtually every move that has or will be made over the upcoming year and its potential impact (positive and negative) on the franchises involved. Second one will cover the Lakers and every direct threat I perceive to their title (trust me, it won’t take long). This 2nd edition comes complete with playoff predicts and of course, my pick for the 2010-11 title and I can assure you…Miami won’t factor into it. First part will tell you why that is, aside from LeBron. :)

The Grandiose NFL Preview

Alright, I’ve been quiet long enough, hmm? Yeah, I’m going to get to the basketball side of things in due time. But first, it’s time for the NFL. In years past I’ve gone rather deep into it, but this year…I dunno. The looming spectre of a work stoppage just leaves a very sour taste in my mouth. Sad, but true. Certain things, just jump out at me. The West divisions in both have a chance to be mildly surprising…or over before your kids head out for Halloween. If the Niners can’t win the NFC West this season, Singletary should update his resume and quit. SERIOUSLY. The Eagles are essentially New England Lite when it comes to running a franchise. All the arrogance, none of the results. Trading McNabb within the division to a heated rival, makes as much sense as letting your best bud get a night with your wife. Or letting him in on a threesome with your loved one. Someone’s gonna end up getting fucked and it won’t be pretty at the end of the day. Bet your Philly Cheese Steak that McNabb’s gonna be motivated to stick it to Philly twice a year, for the rest of his career.

Then of course, there’s Da Jets. The Jets are essentially the offseason villains of the NFL. They made moves, they stole a month’s worth of TV time on HBO via Hard Knocks and if it is at all possible…they upstaged the VH1 tandem of Ochocinco and T.O. in Cincy. So much ado about them, even I find myself worried they might not live up to the billing. Alright, I’m gonna keep this short and to the point. Or at least attempt to anyhow.

Wild Cards: Jets, Bengals, Giants & Falcons

Playoff Team From A Year Ago Most Likely To Slip (whether in wins or out of it entirely): Chargers & Vikings

Non-Playoff Team From Last Season Most Likely To Return This Year That I Didn’t Name Above:
Steelers & 49ers
Team Which Should Have No Excuse For Winning Its Division:
San Francisco. Like, seriously. This division blows.

Team Which Might Have Every Excuse In The Book For Not Winning Its Division:
Buffalo. Seriously, who’s running their draft room?

Player Most Likely To Be Moved That Nobody’s Talking About Not Named Haynesworth:
Marshawn Lynch. You’ve got three RBs, two of which are first round picks. I think Spiller’s going to be a burner…not so sure how Marshawn stays getting paid first round money to be a ‘timeshare back’. You don’t waste 1st rounders on that kind of player.

Coach In Dire Need Of A Title This Season:
Wade Phillips. Quick, somebody tell me where this year’s Super Bowl is. Thanks. :)

Coach I Couldn’t Be Paid To Switch Places With For This Season:
Pete Carroll. On the upside…only team with lower expectations than his are the Rams. Yeah, that’s what I call an Ike Turner Backhanded Compliment.

Why Should Saints Fans Be Incredibly Worried About This Season?
First, there hasn’t been a repeat champion since the Pats. Second, bad things seem to happen when Super Bowl winning players grace the cover of Madden. Just ask Polamalu. Third, it’s the SAINTS lest we forget. When’s the last time great things happened for this franchise in successive years? Exactly.

All that out of the way, let’s get with some division winners.

East: Patriots & Giants
– Yeah, I know. I’m a homer for picking the Giants, but I’m highly optimistic that they’re going to win the division. No way, no how do they get folded on D two years in a row. Just know if it does, Tom Coughlin will be wished well in his future endeavors. As for New England, well, I as a Jet fan give props to The Hoodie and Brady. They are who they are. They win. They’re the football equivalent to the Spurs in that it’s not pretty, but it’s consistently all but guaranteed to happen. I think the Pats will figure a way around the Jets, but just barely to win the AFC East.

North: Ravens & Pack
– When Baltimore got Boldin, I really liked their odds. Then getting Houshyamama when Seattle inexplicably cut him…yeah, that put em’ over the top for me. Make no mistake about it, the AFC North runs about 3 deep. Well, two and a question mark with Pittsburgh that we’ll know for sure by the end of the month. Anything short of 2-2 and they’re done. As for Green Bay, I guess the hype has gotten to me too. I think Rodgers is going to be good enough to get them by Minnesota, but I don’t believe they have enough to win when it counts.

South: Colts & Saints
– As hard as I tried, I’m just not seeing either of these teams dropping off the throne YET. The Titans and Texans still have to prove they can SWEEP (splits don’t work) the Colts and I don’t see either doing that just yet. As for the Saints, the Falcons are the only real challenge they have within that division. Sadly, I don’t see them as much of one even with all that looms on NO’s horizon this year. Still if I had to pick two teams that could win it in their respective places, I’d go Titans and Falcons.

West: 49ers & Chargers
– These two division should be finished by the middle of November, if all breaks as we believe it will. Going under the assumption that Derek Anderson can’t pick up where Kurt left off and San Diego won’t go under without Vincent Jackson…San Fran even with Alex Smith is the best team in that division. San Diego should face minimal resistance in the AFC West, as I don’t think Denver’s going to be much without Brandon Marshall and the other two teams aren’t quite there yet. I will say, Oakland with Jason Campbell can do something. I think Campbell wants to prove that the dysfunction in Washington was the only thing that kept him back. Props to Uncle Al for fleecing him from Washington.

AFC Championship: Jets over Ravens
NFC Championship: 49ers over Saints
– Blame Greenburg for me going with San Fran here, but very little else makes sense in the NFC. It’s more of a “which team’s flaws can be outweighed by a potential X factor nobody sees coming” deal than anything else. Dallas’s flaw is heart, which honestly, can’t be trumped by anything else. Either you got it or you don’t. The added pressure of having the last game of the year in their backyard, will crush them this year. Minnesota…eh. Not sure lightning strikes twice and Brett gets them back again. New Orleans looks like the safest bet in the NFC, but then you factor in the “as the year goes on, how will they handle the heat?” thing and then we’ll have something. Anybody can win it, a true champ can repeat.

Which brings me to San Fran. Their D is headlined by Patrick ‘Who You Sackin’ On?’ Willis and quite honestly, I think their D can carry them to two wins in the playoffs. The X factor that I’m thinking gets them over the top is Alex Smith. The weapons are around him in Gore, Davis, Crabtree and company. All he has to do is put it all together and if he does that, San Fran is your NFC Champion. (Note, these two meet next week in San Fran.)

As for the AFC…really, I could’ve gone a number of different ways with this. I didn’t go Indy, because last year just gave me way too many red flags with Caldwell and Peyton as a whole. That Super Bowl was nothing short of gift wrapped for them and they not only looked the gift horse in the mouth, they gave it a root canal. They gave that Saints D too much credit by going so conservative and in doing so, gave away that game off an onsides kickoff to open the 2nd half and an ill advised pass that made Tracy Porter look like a poor man’s Deion Sanders. They’re out. Cincy? While I’m not predicting T.O. causes an implosion, I just don’t like what I see outside of Palmer and the VH1ers at WR. Plus, I think they’re gonna take a pounding within their own division, so they’re out too. I think New England’s given up more than they’ll ever care to admit. I don’t look at this team and say the same things I said four to five years ago when they were running shit in the NFL.

So that leaves the Jets and Ravens. The Ravens want to prove their D has one last run in it and that their offense is no longer a liability in their quest to do this. Better not be with all the guys they’ve got on that side of the football. The Jets want to prove that last year was no fluke and it was the start of something much greater. I think the running game took a hit with the loss of Jones, but they gained Santonio Holmes on the cheap and added Cromartie to put opposite of Revis Island. Everything’s in place, all they have to do is justify it all as being legit ink instead of all time hype that rivals the Miami Heat. (Yeah, I’ve got a nice juicy one saved for them in about a month or so.)

Super Bowl: 49ers versus Jets
– The Niners haven’t been to the Super Bowl since Steve Young ran them by a woefully overmatch San Diego team in 1994. The Jets haven’t seen one since Joe Namath gave that guarantee in Super Bowl III. Niners haven’t won a playoff game since 2002. Jets were a half away from the Super Bowl in last year’s AFC Championship game. In each of the last three years we’ve had a team make it that defied logical explanation and two of them (The Giants and Saints) won it. The Jets are your logical team here, for reasons I’m sure you’ve seen on Hard Knocks and heard or will hear ad nauseum until February. The 49ers (who I’ve loathed and despised for as long as I’ve been watching football) are going to continue that trend this year.

Funny story on how I came to this conclusion. Thursday morning, I was in Buffalo watching Mike & Mike In The Morning as they made their Super Bowl picks. I was thinking a few things, such as “gee, I really need to get back on the SB horse” and “is it wrong of me to wish a month to go by so I can start hammering the Heat and every slack jawed yokel slurping their shit?” when Mike Greenburg makes his SF pick as NFC Champions. At first, I kinda laughed hard. But then I thought about it and when I did so, along with thinking outside the box…it made sense. They can air it out or pound it out as the weather and situation necessitate.

Oh and by the by, consider this my “Tuesday Thought For The Day”. If you’re trying to draw conclusions on the events of the last 4 days or so…DO NOT DO IT. It’s Week 1 which means…

A) Every team that will pretty much be an afterthought by this time next month, will get a win or two.
B) Every team expected to make a serious run, will stumble out of the gate. NFL’s not a track meet, it’s a marathon.
C) Every talking head will get you to read more into what I consider “the only preseason game that actually counts, well four if you count Weeks 2, 3 & 4”, than you really need to. Do so at your own risk.

Mi-Mi-Mi-Miami World Order! 4 Life. (The Decision Wrap Up)

Call me Lenny “The Brain” Heenan, because I told y’all this day was coming. Oh, wait, let me go back.

For the first time in the history of my writing on this site, I’m going to write a column and intersplice two things that really are like oil and water. Namely wrestling and basketball. Yes, I’m going to pull it off and here’s how. Wrestling fans, remember July 1996? Bash At The Beach? Yeah, y’all know where I’m going with this.

This moment right here, is what we witnessed just 5 days ago. Under the guise of a charity sponsored 1 hour personal shill-a-thon, LeBron James dropped the leg on the throat of all his Witnesses in Cleveland as he joined “The Outsiders” in Miami. The New World Organization of Basketball is here. We wondered if the rumors were true, if LeBron really was the third guy or if it was just overly speculative crapola on the parts of Stephen A. Smith (who apparently reported this two weeks ago) and Chris Broussard, who apparently picked it up in the wee hours of Thursday morning and bolted with it. Then, at 9:28 PM EST when most all in Cleveland held out hope that their hero wasn’t joining “The Outsiders” of Wade and Bosh…

BOOM! The Legdrop From South Beach. To paraphrase Schiavone, I guess this was premeditated all the way back to 2008 when they played together on the Redeem Team. Well, it was but as I’ve stated on this website ad nauseum, as I’ve tried to tell Ohioans for years…it was inevitable. I mean, of course Ohioans are naive enough to believe that Dan Gilbert’s presentation of some Family Guyish thing mocking other teams would be enough to keep him “home”. Of course Ohioans are pissed, but well, they’re pissed at the wrong person. Instead of burning LeBron jerseys as some poor attempt at burning him an effigy, they need to be spewing venom at the guy who was quick to type up a jilted Bromantic letter cursing LeBron and calling him a quitter. Dan Gilbert’s the one to blame for LeBron leaving.

Dan Gilbert’s the guy who couldn’t get Michael Redd.

He’s the guy who couldn’t get Amare Stoudemire.

He’s the guy who disassembled the core of that 2007 team, rather than letting it grow.

But I guess I can’t hold Ferry responsible, since Gilbert ran him a month ago. I guess we can’t hold Brown responsible for being a regular season coach unable to handle playoff pressure. Newsflash for Gilbert, unless you can swing a deal to land a Top 20 PG, Byron Scott won’t be much better than Mikey was.

Ironic bit for all of you to chew on though…

LeBron’s announcement came 14 years to the DAY (yes, the exact DATE) that Hogan joined The Outsiders to form the New World Order. If you take a listen to Hogan’s promo after the fact, you could say that it mirrors LeBron’s interview in parts. LeBron made Gilbert richer than ever in Cleveland. LeBron eventually, got bigger than the city. But as you can pretty well guess, like Hogan said on July 7th, 1996, LeBron got bored. LeBron got bored with the sheep that were kissing his ass that called themselves “Witnesses” and the organization that catered to his every need. He did everything for the charities, he did everything for his city.

But at the end of the day, you look at how his departure was received. If it weren’t for LeBron, Dan Gilbert would be the guy who ran a bunch of check cashing joints in Ohio that’s residing over a crap franchise in Cleveland. If it weren’t for LeBron, Cleveland would simply be that town where failure resides. Clevelanders were on Cloud 9 when LeBron was around and try as you might, you couldn’t talk them down. LeBron was “King” and the Cavs were title contenders year in and year out, no matter what the roster really said. No matter what the playoffs proved year in and year out. Year in and year out, I tried to warn Ohioans what was coming and I was repeatedly laughed off. Called a hater and dismissed.

Now, I’m probably that guy nobody wanted to be right that in the end, was just that. RIGHT.

So now, they will attempt to rally around an angry owner and a new head coach who only does his best work with an exceptional point guard. Mo Williams, unfortunately, is not him. The Cavs had best hope the rest of the East falls into some kind of wormhole and that the Lakers fall like they did in 1986 unexpectedly, because a title’s not forthcoming anytime in the near or even distant future. But in the end, the Cavs find themselves back at square one circa 2002 before LeBron came along. Sure, they’ll get a few token nationally televised games when LeBron pops in…but beyond that, not much else.

But on Thursday night, I think folks finally understood that for every guy that gets put up on a pedestal without really doing much of anything to earn it…there’s a guy who’s quietly doing his part to earn it. Kevin Durant, under the guise of something called “quiet”, signed a 5 year extension to stay in Oklahoma City. Now, here’s one of the few places in America where you would actually find college sports propped up bigger than professional sports. Oklahoma City is probably one of the few places that makes Cleveland look like Shangri La by comparison. Durant’s in the West. Where Kobe, Gasol and Artest run…oh my. His contract runs through what figures to be the remainder of Kobe’s career and into the prime of Gasol’s career. He could’ve ran to the East, but didn’t. Why? Because he wants to topple Kobe. He wants to encourage others to join him in the Oh Kay Cee in the process.

We witnessed LeBron basically announce to the world…

“I am not “King”. I’m turning my back on my homestate and I’m taking my talents to South Beach.”

Well Prince, I never made that mistake of calling you “King” and I tried to warn others against doing so. I guess they’ll listen to me now, won’t they?

An (Updated) Open Letter To LeBron (V2)

Dear LeBron,

Yeah, I realize this is the second letter I’ve written in a little under a week, but I needed to get this off my chest. I’ve been writing for SportsBastards for about three years now, primarily on basketball because it’s my love. I’ve been a basketball junkie since before you were a twinkle in your parents’ eyes. You stand probably 48 hours or so away from making a decision that probably will for all intents and purposes impact the prime of your career. Allow me to break down for you exactly what this entails as it pertains to yourself and your legacy in retrospect…
These are the years in which you will physically, be at your absolute best. You’ll be stronger, faster, better…to steal a pun from The Six Million Dollar Man or something. Do you really want to do it in Cleveland? Now, I’ve had a chance to glean from all that you’ve seen and heard, as well as what I feel they really said or showed you. So let me sort through it all for ya, because time’s ticking…

Cleveland showed you some funny Family Guy shit, because quite honestly, they don’t have much to work with. You’ve seen what the last 7 years of your career have been like here. You haven’t had a coach worth a damn until now, but sadly for you, this coach only works well when he has a Top 20 point guard running his offense. I wouldn’t even throw Mo Williams in the Top 50 at this stage of the game. If you stay, you’re essentially telling the world that you’re content with underachieving and more or less, being the new age Kevin Garnett. (Reminder, KG only had ONE great run in Minnesota before his supporting cast wanted to get rich and stopped trying. You had one great run, only your supporting cast got older, weaker and you had to try on behalf of 11 other people.)

Chicago probably sold you on its basketball tradition and everything else, which in the 90s, it had a TON of. Of the supporting casts you’ve got to choose from, even I can’t argue with the fact that Chicago’s easily the best of the bunch. But I’m not totally sold it’s the best fit for you personally. You see, while you’re switching jerseys this coming season, you’re gonna have to play in the shadow of perhaps the greatest Chicago player this side of Sweetness or Gale Sayers in Michael Jordan. His statue will stand tall outside of your office everyday and those banners which dangle from the top of the United Center will look down on you as you try to add #7 to the rafter. It’s going to be rough…but you’ll have one of the best young guards in the league in D-Rose running the show. Catch-22 of it is, who knows what Thibodeau will do in his first year as head coach? Maybe he’s another Phil Jackson, who in his first year as head coach of the Bulls, took them to a title. A combination of you along with Noah and Rose could damn sure make that happen.

Then there’s the Knicks and as a former Knicks fan, let me tell ya something off rip.

You don’t want to have many bad games here, if you can help it. Ewing will probably never live down his miss in Game 7 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals. John Starks will never live down his 2 for 14 crapper in Game 7 against the Rockets in 1994. Conversely, Larry Johnson is all but immortalized for his 4 point play against the Pacers in the 1999 Eastern Conference Finals. I should also add, that’s the LAST TIME the Knicks made it out of the 1st round.

You’d be playing for a coach in D’Antoni who doesn’t really preach defense, which is something you NEED to win a title. The rest of this roster aside from Amare is at best, sketchy. (And I’m being incredibly NICE in how I put that.) Maybe you go there and you can turn it around, but the media, fanbase and Association will be banking on you to do something that hasn’t been done since 1973. Bring an NBA title back to the Mecca. Luck with that one.

Then of course, there’s my “home”. New Jersey. Many look at the Nets the way most look at the Clippers in Los Angeles, the White Sox in Chicago and the Angels in Los Angeles. Second class citizens, no matter what they do. The Nets have made two Finals appearances in the last decade, LeBron. The Nets have a fairly decent history in the last decade of being a rather formidable force within the East, until the last four years or so when the bottom fell out. The Nets boast a rather suitable supporting cast with All-Stars Brook Lopez and Devin Harris. You wouldn’t have a bare cupboard to work with and on top of that, you have a billionaire Russian who’s looking to go GLOBAL with this team in terms of appeal.
You’re not going to do that with a perennial loser. Jay-Z’s your best friend (or one of them) and please believe he’s not trying to walk you into a losing proposition. Very few men of your caliber in the annals of the NBA have had the luxury of playing with a big the likes of Brook Lopez aka The Best Big Man Nobody Knows About…YET. The potential of an inside/outside combo with you two and Devin running the point is great, because remember…

Centers are a dying breed in the Association. Aside from Orlando’s Howard, Portland’s Oden, Kaman and Bynum in L.A. respectively, Bogut in Milwaukee and Haywood, what other bigs are out there worth a damn? Not many, if any at all really. New Jersey happens to have one which will be an All-Star for many years to come in Lopez. Favors will be a really good 4, given time and playing alongside you can only help speed the process up. Devin Harris has shown that he was held back in Dallas and now without the restraints in Big D, he’s blooming in a big way. Yeah, I’m sure it’s not sexy playing in Newark, but it’s not exactly Siberia in its own right. Mikhail and Jigga will lay out a blueprint that will get you up there with them in the Billionaire’s Club, while ensuring your hand gets heavy with NBA Championship rings. Please believe it.

Then of course, there’s Miami. No state tax. Neverending Summer. Never a dull moment. Oh and Bosh and Wade are down there too. Problem is, what do you have after that? Keep in mind, they’ve only got TWO players under contract which means it’s a MAJOR work in progress. In the history of the NBA, I don’t think there has ever been a team with THAT MUCH TALENT in the respective primes of their careers to join forces at the same time. It’s not to say it can’t happen, but in doing so, you’d be admitting to the world I can’t do this on my own on my own accord. I’m going to D-Wade’s team to get this thing done.

So…to recap:

The Knicks even with Amare, can’t be certain his knees will hold up. If he goes down, it’s pretty much a wrap as there’s not much there to soften the blow if he’s gone.

The Bulls wouldn’t be bad, but playing in the shadow of Jordan’s #23 even wearing #6 wouldn’t be doing you many favors.

Going to Miami for anything other than a ciesta, basically means you’re playing on Wade’s team. Not sure that runs well for very long.

Then…there’s the Nets. It’ll be YOUR team. You’ll have a better supporting cast than the one you drug to the 2007 Finals kicking and screaming all the way there. You’ll have an owner who is dedicated to going global with this team and in doing so, that means building a team that’s a perennial title threat for years to come. Losers aren’t exactly coveted by the world in general, just so you know. LeBron, you’re 40 plus hours away from making the decision that will figure to dictate how the next 3-5 years play out in the Association. You staying put all but assures the Lakers will threepeat. I don’t think going to Miami stops it, although I’m sure talking heads will bust simultaneously talking up a Heat/Lakers finale next Spring. Going to the Knicks will probably boost their flickering fanbase, but so would a stripper pole in the middle of the Garden for the Knick City Dancers to grind on.

Coming to the Nets would inspire MANY “WTF are you thinking?!” questions, but those will be subsided when you win and win often. A Nets lineup with you, Brook, Lee/Boozer, Lee or Williams and Harris is easily capable of winning 50-60 games next year. You’ll have the help needed to exact your revenge on the Celts (you’ll see them early and often), not to mention the Magic. Hell, we might even get to see another Lakers/Nets tilt if all breaks right as I’m set that it should. (Miami’s not a slam dunk with nearly an entire roster to piece together with scrap parts.)
A suitable replacement will be found for Thorn, so there’s no worries there. Help will be kept around ya at all times, but again as I’ve stated before, it can’t work without YOU here.

L. Net Fan

Same Bron Time, Same Bron Channel

Time: Thursday Night, July 8th, 9 PM EST.
Location: Somewhere in Greenwich, Connecticut
Occasion: LeBron James announcing his decision to play ??? for the 2010-2011 season and beyond.

I’m done with the letters and honestly, I think I’m just about done with all of this. Because apparently now, what LeBron said post Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals is set to come to fruition. Oh and I’ve got news for ya Cleveland, I don’t think this story ends well for you at all. I’ve quietly held the notion that in horror flicks, if you show tits and you’re a female, you’re pretty much a done deal. For the last three weeks or so, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Miami, Cleveland and the Clips have shown their “tits” to LeBron and his corporate crew. Tomorrow night, a little after 9 PM EST, we’re going to witness five teams get gutted in unceremonious fashion. Oh, did I forget to mention the guarantee that LeBron’s going to win at least three titles within the next five years or so? No?

Well, that’s what he’s saying in no uncertain terms. Because now, the stakes are even higher than before. I’m having a very difficult time believing all this is to announce he’s going to Miami. I really am. I can’t see how he stages this one hour presser to announce he’s staying. If so, why not have it from the James A. Rhodes Arena in Akron where his camp was held, or his alma mater where he accepted his first MVP trophy two years ago? Right now, there are just three distinct possibilities for where LeBron goes and essentially, become the focal point of angst in Ohio that hasn’t been seen in the history of EVER. Let me be clear here, if he goes to the Bulls, he’s Public Enemy #1 for LIFE. You think Clevelanders have a hard on for Art Modell? That’ll be NOTHING compared to the heat LeBron feels when he steps foot in Cleveland for the first time. It may mark the first time cops in riot gear are present to keep the peace. I’m uncertain what most would say if he travels to the Nets, going to the Knicks would hurt but I don’t think it’d shock many given his propensity for being a Yankee fan.

When Michael Jordan was a free agent after the 1996 season, there was no one hour special to announce where he was going. He listened to offers, contemplated and then decided to stay in Chicago. Short and sweet. (Unless you were a Knicks fan, then it wasn’t as sweet.) When Kobe became a free agent, there were flirtings by the Bulls, Knicks and Clips before he chose to stay put. No one hour special required, even if the proceeds of this glorified informercial went to the Boys & Girls Clubs. Apparently, a guy who has won a grand total of ZERO Finals games in his career deserves more than that. More than Wade, who was Finals MVP and much more than Kobe, who was an NBA Champion three times over when he was a free agent.

I’ve maintained that simply put, the Cavs have blown this about 8 ways from Sunday. If LeBron steps before a bank of microphones tomorrow and announces he’s leaving, Dan Gilbert may want to think about relocating. Because as much as Cavalier fans want to hate LeBron for tearing their hearts out, perhaps some of that angst needs to be directed toward Gilbert for enabling Ferry to disassemble the team that made an unlikely and improbable run to the Finals in 2007. Actually, Gilbert does deserve a bulk of the blame, since he has gotten rid of everyone else who could fall on the grenade for him. Ferry quit, Brown was terminated just weeks after Cleveland’s implosion was finalized in Boston.

Still, what LeBron needs to realize is that now moreso than any other point in his career, the stakes are higher than ever. He’s basically telling the world, the Association and all folk in between that he is “The Man” or he will be once he gets a supporting cast around him. He’s serving notice to the 29 other teams in the Association that next year, it’s on like a pot of neckbones. If you’re not running with him, then you’re being run over by him and there are no two ways about it. Period, point blank. Because now, even with a number change, it’s All Eyez On U, Bron. For your sake, regardless of destination, I hope you can get it done whereever you go and get it done WELL. Because anything short of that, whether it’s a crushing 6 or 7 game defeat in the Finals, will not cut it. People will think back on tomorrow night, all the hooblah you brought that didn’t need to be brought and use it against you.

So that said, never mind the cartoons from Cleveland and all that other crap. Because as Rasheed Wallace once said, “Ball Don’t Lie”. Your game from here on in needs to be talking LOUDER than anything you say tomorrow night after 9 PM. But not for nothing, let me cover the other signings here too albeit briefly at best.

Amare to the Knicks
– Well, he gets reunited with D’Antoni and not much more. That roster is barely bigger than Miami’s, but one could argue the combined skill of Bosh and Wade easily trump what the Knicks have right now. Short of acquiring a point guard and someone seriously emerging as a major force, this gets the Knicks out of the cellar in the Atlantic and not much more.

Bosh and Wade in Miami
– Wade finally gets a suitable #2, Bosh will finally win a playoff series after years of mediocrity in Toronto. As great as this is, there’s a problem. Who are the 8 to 9 others Wade and Bosh will call teammates next season?

Dirk and Pierce Stay Put
– Dirk, short of something miraculous, will end his career with just one Finals appearance on his resume. Pierce, with help, can retire with at least TWO titles on his to offset last season’s crushing Game 7 meltdown. Dallas has talent, but they reside in the same neighborhood as the Lake Show, which is problematic and then some. Pierce and the Celts, with a returning Ray Allen (feasibly) and some help off the bench, should have ONE last run in them. Even with the Superpowers in Miami, Amare in NY and LeBron in ??? should be in great shape to have a good run back to the Finals in the East.

Duhon to Orlando
– Interesting, considering he wasn’t bad for the Knicks a year ago. He gives them flexibility they didn’t have at the PG spot behind Jameer, so that’s always a great thing. Now they need to resign Redick and keep that team intact.

Durant Stays Put For 5 More Years
– Only increases the probability that Kenny Smith’s proclamation comes true. Presti keeps his franchise piece in place for half a decade, can continue building around him. These are the heirs to the Lakers’ throne out West. Watch em’.

But to close, it’s ironic to a tee that LeBron will televise his decision from the very network that has enabled him from the word “go”. They televised his high school games, they’ve all but coddled him throughout his career even when the Cavs weren’t so hot. Now, they’ll give him an hour to play to the masses and elate one fanbase while devastating five more including possibly his homestate team to boot. Lights, camera, action.

A Letter To LeBron (Part 2 of 3/NBA Wrap Up)

“Can you turn back time? Can you bring the dead back to life? ANSWER ME!!!”
“Didn’t fuckin’ think so.”
– Freddy with Jesse moments before slicing him. – A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)

Well LeBron, it’s all over. Or it will be for you, if you stay.

It’s funny that I had this written in advance, or at least a few hours before I walked out the door to see Robin Hood back in May and didn’t bother saving the document. But the exchange I have up top here, is what should be in your mind along with what KG conveyed to you at the end of Game 6. You can’t get your youth back when it’s gone. Trust me, I’m 29 going on 30 feeling like I’m older than that. But before I go on, let me say this…

You may have had “three bad games in 7 years”, fine. Everyone has them. But the problem is, you had two of those three bad games in the last 7 days. The problem is for your two MVP awards, the town of Cleveland is still titleless since 1964. But ya know what? It’s time to come clean, LeBron. You’re talking to a Jerseyan who’s not awestruck by your presence and is certainly not a “Witness”. You love Akron. No doubt. I love Jersey. But like you, I’ve reached a point where I can no longer stand living here because of all the BS that comes with it. You, are sick of Cleveland and all the BS that comes with it. Having to watch management give you body bag after body bag and expecting you to lift all of it to a title, it’ll put some grey hairs in your skull I imagine. On top of the responsiblity that comes with having to ensure the gold stays on American soil every 4 years in the Olympics, yeah. Your plate’s full. So as the man who knows what he speaks when it comes to basketball, let me break it down for ya. The good, bad and utterly repugnant as you sit for the next 72-96 hours making the decision that could decide how you play out the prime of your basketball career.

Staying In Cleveland…
– Only if you’re a glutton for punishment my good man. Let’s look at all that’s come from your being there, shall we?

A) You had a fairly good coach in Paul Silas, only they replaced him with a glorified assistant in Mike Brown. Now sure, Mike Brown went on to win 60 straight in two straight seasons and even found a way to outcoach Flip Saunders when faced with an 0-2 hole (now proving that really wasn’t THAT BIG a deal, Flip just sucks huge balls)…fact are still facts.

You’ve still regressed ever since the improbable 2007 run to the NBA Finals. Whether it was right or not, justified or not, Mike’s finished and most likely, his record will take a dip as you don’t figure to be a part of his future roster. (We think…)

B) I know this is before your time, but back in my day, there was a guy who wore that #23 for the Chicago Bulls. The very first team I was ever a fan of, were the Bulls. Before the bandwagon took on a life of its own, there were as many skeptics doubting Jordan as they are presently doubting you. The Bulls in the playoffs, were good, but couldn’t get past Bird and the Celts or Chuck Daly’s Bad Boys in Detroit. (Also note, back in this day, you could get clotheslined on one of your breakaway dunks and it’d been as legal as a pick. Come to think of it, to keep you from doing it as often as you do, consider it highly probable you’d catch one the way Kurt Rambis did in the 1984 Finals.) Anyway, the Bulls up until 1989 had much difficulty getting around Detroit in the playoffs. Management didn’t blow it up, they merely sent Doug Collins packing and moved an assistant head coach a few chairs down. I think even you know how this story finishes…

The Bulls own the 90s, with Houston mopping up the two titles in 94 and 95 that a bored Jordan didn’t care about, only to return to claim the last three before walking off for “good” in 1998. (I disavow all knowledge he ever returned as a Washington Wizard. That never happened, just like Rocky V, Rocky Balboa and the rest of Rocky after Apollo gets mauled to death by a roided Russian never happened. Let’s just move on.) See what I’m getting at? In 1991, it could’ve been easy for Reinsdorf and Krause to simply say whatever it was that Ferry said after that 2007 season before blowing up a potentially young nucleus and replacing it with older, more dilipidated pieces.

That’s why after your ouster at the hands of the eventual 17 time World Champions in 2008, you said the roster needed to be fixed. They listened, but somewhere along the lines, I think something got lost in translation. Instead of trying to get you Amare which would’ve given ya a definitive reason to stay put while keeping S.T.A.T. in Cleveland with you for at least a few more years…they give you The Big Aristotle one year later than they should’ve. In a year where virtually everybody worth a damn reloaded and did so in a huge way.

So when you sit down this Summer and ask yourself how the way older Celtics were able to simply dominate you without any S & M gear on…you know why. Ya see, here’s the formula for any successful championship team. Feel free to take notes as you get ready to make the decision that will inevitably determine how you spend the next 3-5 years of your prime…

Championship Formula
A) An Alpha Dog. Has to be someone who at the drop of a hat, can and will cut your throat like he’s cutting bread in a bakery.
B) The Backup Plan. A reliable #2 option who isn’t quite on a #1 level, but when the Alpha Dog isn’t feeling it, this guy steps in and the team doesn’t miss a beat.
C) The “Payday” Guy. Best way I can define this is like so…

Remember those Bulls teams I talked about? John Paxson, Steve Kerr and Toni Kukoc were what you call “Payday” Guys. When teams closed ranks around the Alpha Dog, the AD would kick it to one of this Payday Guys behind the arc or wide open and BOOM. Pay day. You don’t have any of those guys in Cleveland and it’s highly unlikely you’ll see any brought there this Summer.

Fact is, with the exception of the 2004 Pistons, you’d be hard pressed to find any NBA Champion that didn’t fit the model I just laid out before you. With the 1999 Spurs, Tim Duncan was that Alpha Dog with The Admiral as The Backup Plan and Avery Johnson being your “Payday” Guy. (Note, I think that’s why to this day, I really don’t like him. I was a Knicks fan back then and he absolutely crushed the little fleeting hope I had of seeing the Knicks… okay, that’s a lie. I knew they had no chance in hell of beating the Spurs without Ewing that year, let’s move on.)

Right now LeBron, you’ve got a slew of #3s on your team and no definitive #2. Say, isn’t this the same damn problem everyone said needed to be corrected like…FOUR YEARS AGO?! It is debatable to argue whether or not Boozer walking was essentially your best #2 option, only it was realized too little, too late. I’d be willing to argue, he was, only management didn’t catch this until it was…TOO LATE. The reason you said nothing about roster moves before 2007 IMO, is simple…

You liked the cast of characters around you and you were cool with it. Why say something about a cast that you like? You spoke on this in 2008 because well, you knew full well you’d be walking up an icy hill with roller blades and look what happened? Two straight years, you have carried this “group” that the talking heads have gone as far to label “your best supporting cast ever” until that elimination comes and then it turns into “management hasn’t done nearly enough to put help around you to put you in position to win championships”. If you stay, know what you become?

Kevin Garnett 2.0

You become the guy who could’ve told people what was going to happen and ended all speculation, but didn’t because you wanted the attention. Michael Jordan never did that. If he knew, he made it official so management could get on with keeping pieces around him to ensure the winning titles thing kept going. Period. Deep down, you know you’re not coming back. Rather I know it, even if you’re set on DENYING IT.

Going To Chi-Town…
– Well, sure, you’d be ditching #23 for a red and white #6. You’d be taking your powder tossing gimmick to the place it originated from, if only on a simpler scale with Jordan. You’d be tasked with bringing the town its first basketball championship since I was a Senior in High School (1998) and restoring the natural order of things in the Association (if you’re a Chicagoan). The cupboard’s far from bare here, what with Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose here to help you on your way. You could hit the ground running here and within a year or two tops, you’d get to shake hands with President Obama who would be eternally grateful you got his homestate team to his place on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

All things being equal, this is Smart Move 1A.

Going To The Knicks…
– Yeah, this is neck and neck with staying in Cleveland in all honesty. Sure, Donnie Walsh is your Team President and a great basketball mind in his own right. But understand that even with offensive minded Mike D’Antoni as your coach, your new boss would be James Dolan. The same James Dolan that hired Scott Layden who proceeded to send this team on a downward spiral in the early part of the last decade, then compounded that by hiring the man who sunk the CBA, Isiah Thomas. Note, maybe it’s just me, but hiring a guy that sunk an ENTIRE ORGANIZATION and then fires one of the best coaches in basketball history (only man to win a title on the college and pro level) just because he could…

Not the kind of guy you want to rely on to build the type of team you need to get you a title. Also note, this should put the kibosh on any thoughts of playing for the Clippers. Donald Sterling’s apathy is LEGENDARY in the annals of “Bad Owners”. He’s in a class all by himself.

Coming To New Jersey…
– Is not as laughable as many are thinking it is.

A) There’s a young nucleus in place. One that you can run with and not feel as if you’re waiting on old geezers to catch up to you. Just imagining running a three man break with Brook Lopez and Devin Harris running alongside you. Tossing an alley-oop to Brook or getting one from Devin. Your point guard was made an All-Star by default, Devin IS an All-Star point.

B) The Nets have two Eastern Conference Championship banners that are going to reside in the Prudential Center in downtown Newark for at least the next two seasons before they’re moved to Brooklyn. (Also note, only Miami has had success in the last decade that has resulted in banners being hung from the rafters.) The architect to those teams has been given the reigns back by our owner Mikhail Prokhorov…at least until he quits one week after contracts can become official. Prokhorov’s a Russian Billionaire (that’s Billionaire with a B) and oh yeah, your best bud’s a part owner. Your best bud’s not going to let you walk into a suicide situation, so trust and believe if Jay gives you the approach anytime in the next month or so, he feels what I do.

The Nets can win a title in the next 5 years, but it can’t happen without YOU.

C) Playing in Newark can’t be any worse than playing in Cleveland, Bro. It can’t be. At least in Newark, you’ve got a TON to do, tons of clubs to hop and oh yeah…we’re next door to NYC. Go chill at the 40/40 Club with Jigga.
D) You can be part of something historic, the first team to bring a basketball championship to the great state of New Jersey. (If it happens in the next two seasons…)

So let’s cut through the crap, shall we?

As great as the attention will be for you over the next two weeks or so, I think you know you’re not going back to Cleveland. Your body language at the end of the Boston series did not speak of a man who was ready to hit the ground running this Summer trying to talk at least one other “big name” into coming to Cleveland. It spoke of a man who was ready to haul ass out of town in a hurry. Now sure, Cleveland’s got the “edge” heading into next month’s sweepstakes.

But just as sure as a woman with big boobs may have “an edge” in trying to get at me, nothing beats a woman with a brain that can keep me mentally stimulated. Having “an edge” means jack when it comes down to the get down, ya dig? Now sure, there are a slew of other places with cap space I didn’t mention. But for good reason…

A) You’re not going to Miami. While the thought of you, Wade and one other guy is a wet dream come to life…there are only two other players under contract. Beasley and Chalmers. That’s IT. Oh and not for nothing, unless Riles runs another head coach so he can take over… I don’t see how that’s happening.
B) Unless there’s something akin to an act of God and Donald Sterling sells to Geffen, forget Los Angeles. At this rate, you going West might be the only way we get Kobe/LBJ in the playoffs, but eh. Clips got talent, but Sterling’s killing that franchise moreso than Dolan’s screwing the Knicks.
C) I highly doubt you’re staying put. Even if the Cavs play the “loyalty” card, what can they possibly do in the next three years that they haven’t done in the last SEVEN?! Whether you realize it or not, your legacy will hinge on the next piece of paper you sign. You’re out of time and excuses to be playing your ass off for 82 games, only to be owned by Boston, Orlando, etc. in four out of seven games.
D) As much as folks make Chicago into the place to be (and it’s damn attractive from a roster standpoint), consider this. While Reinsdorf is one of a few men who can claim championships in two different sports he owns teams in, he’s one of the tighest wallets in the game. That’s fact. Ever stop and ask yourself why Pippen and Jordan aren’t around Chi-Town more often? Ever stop and ask why nobody disputed what Wade said earlier this year about Chicago and how they treat their legends? Or whatever inspired Jordan’s rant about organizations not winning championships, but players doing it?

Exactly. Bron, this is your career within the next week or so. Staying put ensures you’ll spend the next three years idolized by the masses who have embraced mediocrity because it’s all they’ve ever known. Leaving may ruffle the feathers of many and sure, it’ll put you up there alongside Art Modell as men who dared burn the city of Cleveland…but guess what Art’s got?

A Super Bowl Championship. Sometimes you gotta get away to make a way. T.I. said that.

– Unofficial Spokesperson of the LeBron To Jersey Coalition
– Resident Basketball Expert for Sportsbastards
– Most Knowledgable Basketball Expert To Call In 88.1 WZIP FM, Even If I’m Not Physically In The State Anymore. 😛

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