Nothing can make me like LeBron James. I don’t care if he is a champion now. I don’t care if he is the NBA Finals MVP. I don’t care if he put up one of the greatest playoff performances ever this year. I don’t care if he helped Shane Battier get a ring. I don’t care if he overcame the worst cramps in human history to do it. I don’t care if he’s humbler, happier, and more mature than he was two years ago. I don’t care if spends his off-season saving small children from burning buildings. Nothing can make me like him.
And yet the tide is turning in his favor. Throughout the year, fans and sportswriters seemed to be letting up on LeBron, as if the statute of limitations on detesting him had run out. Seth Davis, of Sports Illustrated, seemed to make this argument almost explicitly. And now that James finally has his ring, I suspect the intense fandom that lined up behind whichever team happened to be playing the Heat will die down a bit; it’s not as fun to root against something that’s already happened. Continue reading »
I wrote—albeit briefly—about my love of the NCAA Vault late last season. For the uninitiated, the NCAA Vault contains every NCAA Tournament game from the Sweet 16 on played since 2000. That is 165 games in all. That is, in fact, too much for you to rationally sort through to figure out which games are worth skipping to the end, which games are worth perusing, and which merit full-blown opening-tip-to-final-buzzer immersion.
That’s why I’m here.
As part of our comprehensive college basketball preview over the next few days, I’ll be breaking down the contents of the NCAA Vault (and March Madness On Demand, which houses all 64 games from last season’s epic Tournament). Whether you’re in the mood to see a great individual performance, a team operating on all cylinders, or the moments when an eventual champion came closest to elimination, I’ve got you covered.
Sounds like gooooood watchin’.
Great Individual Performances
There are few things as exhilarating as watching a precocious athlete come of age on a national stage, as seeing potential fulfilled and yet promised again, at a higher level, simultaneously. It should come as no surprise that the five best individual performances in the NCAA Tournament since 2000 all came from college basketball superstars; there are no surprises on this list. For all of them, these performances were less breakthroughs than they were confirmations of what we thought they could be, occurring at the most opportune moments. It is performances like these that help make the NCAA Tournament the best sporting event in the world.
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The NBA season started like two weeks ago, but that didn’t stop Tim from boldly predicting records for all
29 30 teams. As you can probably figure out, what’s occurred during the season’s first fortnight had little to no impact on his prognostications.
30. Minnesota dumped Ramon Sessions and his four-year, $16 million contract in order to sign Luke Ridnour to a four-year, $16 million contract. This is confusing because Luke Ridnour plays the same position as Ramon Sessions and isn’t any better…Timberwolves 18-64.
29. Toss Up: What’s higher: Toronto losses or Jose Bautista home runs?…Raptors 20-62.
28. A prominent Russian hasn’t been tortured this much since they sent Dostoevsky to Siberia. Too soon?…Nets 22-60.
27. How long until John Wall and Alex Ovechkin start hanging out?…Wizards 23-59.
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Shut up, Michael Jordan. Nobody should be listening to you. You were an excellent basketball player—probably the best ever—but you are an arrogant, selfish idiot. We all know that by now.
So nobody should care that you said you would never have called Larry Bird and Magic Johnson and asked them to join you on the same team: “There’s no way, with hindsight, I would’ve ever called up Larry, called up Magic and said, ‘Hey, look, let’s get together and play on one team.’” Oh, really? “With hindsight,” you wouldn’t make drastic changes to what pretty much everyone agrees was the greatest professional basketball career of all time? Shocking.
What about without hindsight? What about when you were 25, like LeBron James is now, and you, like LeBron James, had never won an NBA title? Continue reading »
Is choosing teammates worse than inheriting them?
I don’t want to be put in the position of defending LeBron James. As I’ve said, I’m not happy about his decision—it’s basically a sports tragedy. So while I generally agree with those criticizing him, I can’t help but notice some unfair attacks.
Most of these deal with claims about LeBron’s personality. Fans have a tendency to do this a lot: They project personality traits and character flaws onto athletes based on no real knowledge of the players as individuals. If a player strikes out in a key situation, he must be unable to handle pressure. If a basketball player misses the open man, he must be a selfish person. If a football player happens to be the quarterback of a team that loses, he must not be a motivated individual. In a few instances, there is some merit to this—sports would not be nearly as special if it didn’t give us insights into the human psyche.
Far more often, though, it is utter schlock. Continue reading »
LeBron James hanging up his Cavs jersey
It isn’t often that a player is accused of being selfish for taking less money in order to win championships. It isn’t often that a player is accused of being self-aggrandizing for holding a special that donates all proceeds to charity. It isn’t often that a player is accused of letting an entire city down after pretty much single-handedly leading his team to consecutive 60-win seasons.
But then again, LeBron James isn’t a normal basketball player, so comparing him to what “often” happens probably doesn’t make much sense.
There was something undeniably disappointing about the way LeBron’s decision played out yesterday. Maybe it was because of the slow, gradual, yet inevitable way it all played out: It went from possibly Miami, to probably Miami, to almost certainly Miami. By the time LeBron actually sat down for his interminable interview with Jim Gray, the outcome was all but certain, even if everyone was hoping that LeBron would justify our collective denial.
But it’s hard to see it being as disappointing if the gradually leaking information had all indicated that LeBron would return to Cleveland, or even that he would go to New York. No, there was something uniquely disappointing about LeBron signing with Miami, just one day after Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh announced their plans to play in South Beach.
So why, exactly, was this so disappointing? Was LeBron’s behavior really “selfish”? Did he really “betray” the city of Cleveland? Continue reading »
Let me set the scene for you: You are playing the game of basketball, and you drive to the basket, and you are fouled on a layup attempt that you miss. You receive two free throws. The next play, the same thing occurs, except that you make the layup. You receive one free throw.
Let me reset the scene for you: Playing the game of basketball, yadda yadda, miss layup + foul = two free throws, made layup + foul = two free throws.
Yes, mon ami, Pierre returns and with a vengeance. The NBA shall draw my unique ire over the course of the next several weeks, as I once again spew vitriol at the odd presumptions of American sports rules, taking aim at its most athletic and aesthetic of sports, but one that is passing away before our very eyes.
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