Tag Archives: NBA

Lockouts Can Be Fun

Despite the look on Commander Stern’s face, the NBA lockout so far has been great.   I’m sorry to those “long-term-thinking” people out there.  I’m dealing with the present – right here, right now.  And right now I’m having more fun than any off-season I’ve had so far.

With fewer restrictions, fans have been entertained with this free-for-all that we’ve had for the last few weeks that wouldn’t be possible sans-lockout.  Obviously this is the slight spike before a very, very steep decline, but I am going to enjoy it while it lasts.

Unlike the NFL – who timed the lockout so perfectly that we skipped all the boring parts of the off-season, crammed all free-agent moves and signings into two weeks, and are in such football-withdrawal that the ratings this year are going to be (and already have been) through the roof – the NBA lockout has no end in sight. Most say there will not be basketball this year.

I’m okay with this…as long as we can get creative.

Instead of playing overseas, going on a summer league tour, working at home depot, or playing professional beach volleyball, why not play the sport you love in the country you already play it in?

I give you the “2011 Professional Streetball League presented by Sprite (or Redbull).”

Here’s the hook: groups of current NBA players can enter the league based on their alma-maters.  Whoever can suit up five guys from the same school can get into the league. Teams can only have five players, only one team per alma-mater.  The guys are playing for pride – who has the best NBA alumni – and a $5 million dollar purse for the league champions provided by our sponsor, Sprite. Or Red Bull.  There’s really no one else who would be able to sponsor this.  “The 2011 Professional Streetball League presented by Dove Soap” just doesn’t sound right.

The PSL will go a little something like this:

GAME RULES – Each game will have two (2) twenty (20) minute halves with a running clock at all times except the last two (2) minutes of each half.  There will be no referees for calling fouls and no foul shots.  Referees will throw jump ball, run the clock, and keep score.  All fouls and out-of-bounds will be played as if games were pick-up games.  If defensive player calls a shooting foul, “And-1” rules will apply and basket can count.  If offensive player calls a foul, the play is dead and a basket cannot be scored. Ball to be checked by players at top of the key to bring the ball back in play after a called foul.  Regulation-size street courts with 3-point line.  Each net must be a chain net.  Game balls have to be pinwheel colored red-white-and-blue.

COACHES – Each team will be allowed to have one “Hype Man” who can be on the sidelines with a microphone but will not be allowed to have any coaches.  Each team’s respective Hype Man can only speak when his team has possession of the ball or his team has a big block or steal on defense.

UNIFORMS – Teams can wear whatever they want, but all must be wearing the matching uniforms. Accessories are encouraged.

GAMBLING AND DRUGS (performance-enhancing or recreational) – Both are highly encouraged before, during, and after games. Players can bet on or against themselves and with other players.

DISPUTES – Any and all disputes (in-game and out-of-game) will be settled by PSL Commissioner William “World Wide Wes” Wesley.

LOCATION OF GAMES – Teams on the west coast will play at Venice Beach Courts in Los Angeles, California (courts made famous by the movie “White Men Can’t Jump”).  Teams on the east coast will play at the Barry Farms courts in Washington, DC.  The playoffs and championship will be played in Rucker Park in New York City.

You can put a cat in an oven, but that don't make it a biscuit.

At this point I hope you’ve already been racking your head as to which schools would have teams and who would be the best.  Well, I’m ten steps ahead of you.  I’ve used a highly scientific method to select the best streetball starting fives for each eligible school.  Combining John Hollinger’s PER ratings with Stephen A. Smith’s totally biased rants and opinions on each player we have created SPER (Street Player Efficiency Rating).  SPER shows how good a player would be in a pick-up game (i.e. who you would pick first if you were the captain of a team for a pick-up game), and the teams have been chosen accordingly.

As a short addendum to our criteria of teams based on alma-maters, we will also allow four non-college teams to participate.  Two teams of players coming straight from high school (High School North and High School South with the Mason Dixon Line being the separating factor – where the players attended high school not where they were from orginially).  And two teams of international players (a European International Team and a Non-European International Team).

We put all these teams together and will give you how it would shake out in a top 25:

 (Receiving Votes) Cal

  1. Jason Kidd (Mavericks)
  2. Ryan Anderson (Magic)
  3. Leon Powe (Grizzlies)
  4. Sean Marks (Bobcats)
  5. Francisco Elson (Jazz)

Cal’s team has a 38-year old point guard, a white shooting guard, the only player in NBA history from New Zealand, and a seven-foot dutch black guy named Francisco.  The team sets up well positionally from one to five, and they would be a lot of fun to see on the court together, but they may lose every game they play by 40.

(Receiving Votes) Maryland

  1. Steve Blake (Lakers)
  2. Steve Francis (Beijing Ducks)
  3. Greivas Vazquez (Grizzlies)
  4. Chris Wilcox (*Pistons)
  5. Joe Smith (*Lakers)

So Steve Francis last played in China and Wilcox and Smith are basically out of the league.  The Terps will not be denied.  Juan Dixon actually tried out and did not make the team.  Nick Caner-Medley had the same fate.  Either way a backcourt of Blake, the original Franchise, and General Greivas would be entertaining as hell.  How many people do you think would punch Grevias in the face in this league?  With no refs and unruly, possibly intoxicated, probably armed fans right on top of the court, Greivas may be the first casualty of the PSL.

#25. UNLV

  1. Marcus Banks (Hornets)
  2. Isiah Rider (No One)
  3. Lou Amundson (Suns)
  4. Shawn Marion (Mavericks)
  5. Joel Anthony (Heat)

Anyone who has ever been featured on or produced their own rap album gets automatic entrance into the league if they want.  This qualifies Isiah aka J.R. who provided the track “Funk in the Trunk” on the 1994 Album  “B-Ball’s Best Kept Secret” which featured songs performed by NBA players including Gary Payton, Brian Shaw, and Jason Kidd.  As far as the UNLV PSL team goes, you put Rider with big Lou Amundson, Marion, and Joel “The Forehead” Anthony and you don’t have a terrible squad.  They won’t be scaring anyone, but for UNLV, that’s not bad.

It's time to tell the world again...

#24. Georgetown

  1. Dajuan Summers (Montepaschi Siena)
  2. Patrick Ewing Jr. (Hornets)
  3. Jeff Green (Celtics)
  4. Greg Monroe (Pistons)
  5. Roy Hibbert (Pacers)

Dajuan comes back from Italy to fill out the Hoyas team, which surprisingly is headlined by Greg Monroe, arguably the most effective rookie last year not named Griffin (Griffin aside: the one player you would want to see in this league is Griffin, unfortunately his Sooners are only represented by himself, Eduardo Najera, and Willie Warren, so they were ineligible to compete).  G-Town has some height, but they lack the fireworks that are required for this type of game.

#23. Stanford

  1. Landry Fields (Knicks)
  2. Josh Childress (Suns)
  3. Jarron Collins (Blazers)
  4. Robin Lopez (Suns)
  5. Brook Lopez (Nets)

Landry is forced to play point here, as Stanford has a lot of height.  Even though this is the most renowned institution in the league, The Cardinal team has the potential for a PSL-high three afros.  On the streets this is a huge advantage, and very ironic coming from the far and away leader in “Least-Ghetto” of all the schools who are eligible.  This Stanford team could be a sleeper.

#22. Kansas

  1. Kirk Hinrich (Hawks)
  2. Brandon Rush (Pacers)
  3. Paul Pierce (Celtics)
  4. Darrell Arthur (Grizzlies)
  5. Drew Gooden (Bucks)

This is where things start to get interesting.  There is a Michael Strahan-sized gap in between #23 and #22.  Of these top 22 teams, every one of them could make a run.  The Jayhawks comes in surprisingly low here.  For a school with such traditional success, a recent National Championship, and 12 players currently playing in the NBA, one would think they would come in a little higher.  However, there best piece is an aging Paul Pierce, and few other Kansas grads are much more than role players.  Harry Potter gets the nod over Mario Chalmers, which some could argue, but the possibility of seeing Kirk Hinrich play at Rucker Park is too good to pass up.

#21. Ohio State

  1. Mike Conley (Grizzlies)
  2. Evan Turner (76ers)
  3. Michael Redd (Bucks)
  4. Daequan Cook (Thunder)
  5. Greg Oden (Blazers)

Conley and Oden get reunited here along with disappointing rook Evan Turner and the mid-comeback Michael Redd.  With Conley and Oden rekindling their flame and the other three Buckeyes having skills that translate well to a pick-up game, this team could be better than expected.   Oden’s knees on pavement and potential suspensions from the NCAA or Roger Goodell would be the only worries for OSU supporters – and that they have to play Daequan Cook as a power-forward.

#20. Washington

  1. Nate Robinson (Thunder)
  2. Brandon Roy (Blazers)
  3. Jonathan Brockman (Bucks)
  4. Quincy Pondexter (Hornets)
  5. Spencer Hawes (76ers)

If Brandon Roy’s health was better, this team would be dangerous.  Most of these guys were in school at the same time and they have a lineup that fits together better than maybe anyone else in the league.  Nate, Brandon, and Quincy all have games that translate well to the blacktop and the other two guys are white.  A nice mix if you ask me.  If Roy’s legs are underneath him, these guys could be ranked well below their actual result.

#19. Georgia Tech

  1. Jarrett Jack (Hornets)
  2. Anthony Morrow (Nets)
  3. Thad Young (76ers)
  4. Derrick Favors (Jazz)
  5. Chris Bosh (Heat)

The Yellow Jackets are solid from top to bottom, but their lack of toughness will kill them in the octagon.  Bosh is forced to play the 5 here, which is a position that is tough to play while shooting 15-foot jumpers all day.  Favors’ lack of ability to understand the NBA game should suit him well in the PSL, so look for a jump in production from him.

#18. Non-European International Team

  1. Manu Ginobili (Argentina)
  2. Andrei Kirilenko (Russia)
  3. Luis Scola (Argentina)
  4. Serge Ibaka (Congo)
  5. Nene (Brazil)

The Non-Euros will be an interesting mix and almost impossible to predict.  Manu runs the point for lack of a better option (most of the elite foreign point-guards are European).  Manu is really the only guard, and between Kirilenko, Ibaka, and Nene, this team may block every shot.  Scoring is going to be a problem and quick guards will be a tough matchup for the Non-Euros.  This team also would win the award for “Looks Most Like 90’s Culturally-Diverse Psuedo-Boyband Color Me Badd.”

They wanna sex you up.

#17. USC

  1. Nick Young (Wizards)
  2. OJ Mayo (Grizzlies)
  3. Brian Scalabrine (Bulls)
  4. Taj Gibson (Bulls)
  5. Demar DeRozan (Raptors)

Which one doesn’t belong?  If you chose the 6’9’’ 240-pound red-haired white guy in the mix of freakishly athletic black guys you would be correct.  If you take one thing away from this article, I hope its imagining Scalabrine playing streetball with this lineup.  Say what you will about the original human victory cigar (suck it Darko), but with this team – he could do some real damage.  These guys were all born to play on the playgrounds – a little touch of ginger and this team will do just fine.

#16. UNC

  1. Ty Lawson (Nuggets)
  2. Raymond Felton (Knicks)
  3. Vince Carter (Suns)
  4. Antawn Jamison (Cavaliers)
  5. Tyler Hansbrough (Pacers)

Some arguments to put The Stack on the team were made, but his SPER had declined to a point that just couldn’t cut it.  The team starts with defensive-specialist and unselfish star Vince Carter, who definitely wouldn’t take the no-rules style play and actually transform into a real black hole, sucking the entire league into his vortex.  Lawson and Felton make up one of the better back-courts in the entire league, but age and Hansbrough’s blinding paleness hurt the Tarheels when it comes to this type of play.

#15. Marquette

  1. Travis Deiner (Dinamo Sissari)
  2. Dwayne Wade (Heat)
  3. Wesley Matthews (Blazers)
  4. Lazar Hayward (Timberwolves)
  5. Steve Novak (Spurs)

This team is in the #15 spot for one reason.  It may be a little high, but considering who we are talking about here it should be merited. It’s pretty obvious I’m sure; the combination of Steve Novak and Travis Deiner is deadly enough to put the Golden Eagles in the top 15.  Deiner took his vanilla talents to Italy and his assassin-like game has only improved.  Novak is deadly when he gets to play his natural position – center.  The type of center he likes to play is traditional: roaming mainly outside the 3-point line, rarely crashing the boards, and lacking any kind of athletic prowess.

#14. Duke

  1. Corey Maggette (Bobcats)
  2. Luol Deng (Bulls)
  3. Grant Hill (Suns)
  4. Carlos Boozer (Bulls)
  5. Elton Brand (76ers)

With the second most current NBA players and the second most “fans of a school’s team who never actually went to that school,” the Blue Devils are going to be disappointed with their #14 ranking here.  They have a few below-average point guards available, but on the streets, this is the best squad.  Reddick doesn’t make the team because he writes poetry and can’t handle Maryland fans; Maggette makes the team because he would be the only guy who ever went to Duke that Jalen Rose would kick it with.  Deng would be a monster out there, but with no ball-handlers and an old and under-sized front court, the Dukies can’t crack the top 10.

#13. Syracuse

  1. Johnny Flynn (Rockets)
  2. Donte Greene (Kings)
  3. Carmelo Anthony (Knicks)
  4. Wes Johnson (Timberwolves)
  5. Hakim Warrick (Suns)

Melo might be the first overall pick on the playground.  Scoring, toughness, attitude, and a desire to show up everyone and anyone he plays against will make whatever team he is on dangerous.  However, he doesn’t have much backing him up.  Flynn and Johnson are young and were both high picks, but have not reached the potential they hope to so far.  Unfortunately for these guys, there is no 2-3 zone and no coach Boeheim in the PSL.

#12. Wake Forest

  1. Chris Paul (Hornets)
  2. Al-Farouq Aminu (Clippers)
  3. Josh Howard (Wizards)
  4. James Johnson (Raptors)
  5. Tim Duncan (Spurs)

Some great athletes book-ended by the best power-forward of his generation and perhaps the best point guard of his.  Chris Paul is the elite point guard playing in the league and his creativity will only be rewarded outdoors.  Duncan’s game doesn’t rally translate, but you never count out the big fella, especially with his first chance to team up with CP3.  If Howard can throw it back a few years and produce, this team looks very solid.

#11. Florida

  1. Jason Williams (Grizzlies)
  2. Mike Miller (Heat)
  3. Al Horford (Hawks)
  4. David Lee (Warriors)
  5. Joakim Noah (Bulls)

White Chocolate.  The OG.  That’s all you need to know here.  He’s up there in age, he may have even retired, but when the chain nets call, J-Will is there to answer.  Apologies to Matt Bonner, but there just wasn’t a place on the Gators throwback team for him.  These guys have sleeper written all over them.  They have a unique combination of hustle, skill, and white guys with tattoos, and they can match up with any other team the PSL will throw at them.  The Gators fall just outside the top 10, but they are definitely good enough to scare some people.

This is an actual picture.

#10. Arizona

  1. Gilbert Arenas (Magic)
  2. Jason Terry (Mavericks)
  3. Chase Budinger  (Rockets)
  4. Andre Iguodala (76ers)
  5. Channing Frye (Suns)

Lute Olson had his Wildcats running an open, athletic style for quite some time now.  It will pay off in the PSL , especially with Agent Zero,  who is a legend on the Barry Farms courts in DC. This team has a good mix of youth and experience, but lacks size down low.  Iggy can D up anyone, and he’ll be one of the most athletic guys on the court, but Channing at the 5 won’t really work against anyone not named Steve Novak.  Barely missing the cut for the Wildcat team: Richard Jefferson, Luke Walton, and Mike Bibby.  Missing the cut by a lot: Miles Simon.

#9. Michigan State

  1. Shannon Brown (Lakers)
  2. Maurice Ager (Timberwolves)
  3. Charlie Bell (Warriors)
  4. Jason Richardson (Magic)
  5. Zach Randolph (Grizzlies)

Tom Izzo doesn’t just make Final Fours, he produces some sneaky-good professional players as well. Shannon Brown can’t play point guard in the NBA and relies mainly on his athleticism – perfect in this particular situation.  The Spartans have to go small here with four guards, but when your big guy is Z-Bo, and there are no rules, you should do just fine.

#8. Memphis

  1. Derrick Rose (Bulls)
  2. Tyreke Evans (Kings)
  3. Rodney Carney (Grizzlies)
  4. Chris Douglas-Roberts (Bucks)
  5. Shawne Williams (Knicks)

Luckily taking the SATs isn’t a requirement to be in the league.  Rose and Reke make the Memphis team as dangerous as anyone.  Seeing those two guys on the same team is mouth-watering.  Reke gets to move to the 2, a much better position for him, and Rose can have someone help take off the scoring burden.  CDR, Carney, and big Shawne are simply there to play D and stay out of the way on offense, but that’s enough for Memphis to be all the way at #8.

#7. UConn

  1. Ben Gordon (Bulls)
  2. Ray Allen (Celtics)
  3. Rudy Gay (Grizzlies)
  4. Charlie Villanueva (Pistons)
  5. Emeka Okafor (Hornets)

A traditional powerhouse with putting guys in the league, the Huskies have plenty to choose from for their streetball starting five.  You’d love for Gordon to be a little bit more of a natural point, but in a pick-up style, he should do just fine.  They have scoring, shooting, toughness, and size.  No superstars, but maybe the most solid and consistent team in the entire PSL.

#6. UCLA

  1. Jrue Holliday (76ers)
  2. Russel Westbrook (Thunder)
  3. Baron Davis (Cavs)
  4. Matt Barnes (Lakers)
  5. Kevin Love (Timberwolves)

With the most current NBA players (14), the Bruins could legitimately field two competitive teams (there second team would be Farmar, Collison, Afflalo, Ariza, Mbah a Moute).  This team would just be flat out fun to watch.  Baron playing without a sub may be slightly troubling (by sub I mean literally a substitute but also a hoagie) and they are small, but Barnes is a foxhole guy and Westbrook and Love back together again is a beautiful thing. This team could beat anyone in the league and no one would be surprised.

#5. Kentucky

  1. Rajon Rondo (Celtics)
  2. John Wall (Wizards)
  3. Jodie Meeks (76ers)
  4. Tayshaun Prince (Pistons)
  5. DeMarcus Cousins (Kings)

They’ve got 13 guys to choose from, and arguably two of the top five point guards in the league.  Fortunately, on the street, they can play together in harmony and wreak havoc on everyone else.  The best back-court hands down, plus Meek’s range, Prince’s experience, and Cousins’ raw skills, attitude, and size makes Kentucky frightening on paper.  They’d be even more frightening running the pavement.

#4. European International Team

  1. Ricky Rubio (Spain)
  2. Hedo Turkoglu (Turkey)
  3. Andrea Bargnani (Italy)
  4. Dirk Nowitzki (Germany)
  5. Pau Gasol (Spain)

This team is straight up stupid.  Rubio gets the nod here over Tony Parker for the entertainment value alone.  I hate kicking a man when he’s down, especially when you lose out on Eva Longoria, but Parker is French and should be used to losing and pain.  This team is big and skilled.  Some may point out a lack of toughness, and with no refs that is a legitimate concern.  That’s the reason these guys come in at #4, when they easily could be at the top of this list.

#3. Texas

  1. D.J. Augustin (Bobcats)
  2. Daniel Gibson (Cavaliers)
  3. Kevin Durant (Thunder)
  4. Maurice Evans (Wizards)
  5. LaMarcus Aldridge (Blazers)

Speed and passing at the point.  Perimeter shooting and experience at the 2.  The Travelling Durantula Circus Summer Tour continues at the 3.  Nothing at the 4 and an absolute beast at the 5. This is almost a perfectly constructed team.  You may want more size at the power forward spot, but you’ve got enough scoring, a good inside-out game, and Evans can be hidden against most teams in the league.  You may not think the Longhorns should be above a few of the teams we’ve already mentioned, but you should go ahead and watch some of the Durant videos on YouTube, where he is dropping forty-foot bombs without breaking a sweat.  It looks like the real-life version of that LeBron Powerade Commercial.

#2. High School South

  1. Brandon Jennings (Oak Hill, VA)
  2. Monta Ellis (Lanier High, MS)
  3. Stephen Jackson (Oak Hill, VA)
  4. Amar’e Stoudemire (Cypress Creek, FL)
  5. Dwight Howard (Atlanta Christian, GA)

Clearly this scientific experiment has led us in the opposite direction of supporting the now intact “one year in college” rule.  Your top two teams are the two teams made up of those men who skipped college and went straight to the big time.  One team of high school guys wasn’t enough (and honestly wasn’t fair), and more than two teams would have watered down the league, so we came to a happy medium with two (North and South) and they still have to top the list.

This team is silly.  I don’t even have to break it down; just keep looking at the starting five.  Stephen Jackson is the perfect complement to the scorers above him and the giants below.  How is this team not number one you ask?  Here’s how:

#1. High School North

  1. JR Smith (Lakewood Prep, NJ)
  2. Kobe Bryant (Lower Merion, PA)
  3. LeBron James (St. Vincent St. Mary’s, OH)
  4. Kevin Garnett (Farragut Academy, IL)
  5. Andrew Bynum (St. Joseph’s, NJ)

They don’t have a legitimate point guard.  Garnett is old.  Bynum is made of glass.  Lots of good points.  However, Kobe and LeBron could play with the Jonas Brothers and still be one of the five best teams in this league.  Give them JR Smith – who has the deepest range in the league, Garnett – the heart and soul of any team he’s on, and Bynum – who’s size and rebounding stands with anyone’s when healthy – and this is the best five-man streetball team you can come up with given the parameters.

Your 2011 PSL Champions.

In a hypothetical championship game, Jackson has to check LeBron, Kobe gets a mismatch with Ellis or Jennings, the remaining guard on the South cancels out with JR Smith, Garnett annoys the hell out of Amar’e, and Bynum does his best against Howard.  Howard will be a problem, but Kobe and LeBron will score at will and shut down Jennings and Ellis on the defensive end.  The North wins again.

The Euro team may cause these guys more problems, as Hedo could check LeBron and no one would be able to cover Dirk, but Rubio is a massive defensive hemorrhage and Bargnani would get smoked by Kobe.

So there you have it. The 2011 Professional Streetball League. To say it would be epic is an understatement.  To say you wouldn’t watch every game is a lie.  To say the championship game wouldn’t be one of the five greatest sporting events ever would be a travesty.  Let’s let Red Bull and Sprite start the bidding war for this thing and make it happen.  This could be the best lockout ever.


The LeBron James Rollercoaster

LeBron has a lot riding on his 100th game as a member of the Miami Heat tonight.

It’s not so much just about mental toughness.

Any man who has gone through what LeBron James has had to deal with – or any other professional athlete who has ascended to “superstar” status – has to have some semblance of cerebral fortitude.

It’s not a question of whether LeBron has it or not.  The way arguments seem to be going these days, everyone has to polarize themselves and stand pat on one side or the other.  There is a vast majority of pundits, analysts, and talking heads that handcuff themselves by dealing in absolutes.  Luckily we have Skip Bayless to save us from this “I-can-shout-louder-than-you-about-my-opinion-which-makes-it-better” journalism.

The true measure of greatness – the miniscule difference between championships and excuses – is repetition and consistency.  LeBron James is mentally tough.  We’ve seen it before: Game 5 against the Pistons in 2007 when he scored the final 25 points for the Cavs on his way to a ridiculous 48-9-7.  More recently, we’ve seen it this year against the Celtics and Bulls in the fourth quarter of close-out games.

However, within these dynamic examples of mental toughness are scattered the baffling performances of a superstar who shies away when the spotlight gleams its brightest: the infamous Game 5 against Boston last year in the Eastern Conference Finals and two nights ago in Dallas.

So the question isn’t whether or not LeBron James is mentally tough.  It’s not necessarily one or the other. For LeBron James, as we have found in many different instances, he is both – he’s inconsistent.

LeBron’s decision making has always been questionable. Choosing to allow his childhood friends to be his main representation, choosing to never develop any semblance of a post-up game, choosing to go to Miami, holding an hour-long special to announce that he was going to Miami, for some reason saying “taking my talents to South Beach” when he finally announced it, wearing that heinous white sweater for the State Farm commercials, or sitting down with his legs crossed against the base of the basket when the game was delayed for a spilled drink in Game 3.  Things that make you wonder, “what the hell could he possibly be thinking?”

Jordan was a coldblooded, no-excuses assassin.  Kobe is an asshole.  LeBron is a constant game of mental roulette. You think Jordan would ever take a seat on the court with his legs crossed in the middle of an NBA Finals Game?  Jordan would quit basketball and play another sport before he subjected himself to such childish behavior.

Henry Abbot wrote an article for ESPN.com’s basketball blog “True Hoop” (which he also founded) on May 9th titled “The Meaningless of Playoff Toughness.”

It was written one month ago today – when LeBron was shaking all the criticisms of lacking that killer instinct.  The first of the two distinct LeBron 180s was in full swing.  The second obviously has happened in the last two days. We’re now back where we started.

Abbot’s point was that maybe it’s not so much mental toughness as it is just pure basketball.   LeBron so kindly defecated all over that theory in Game 4.  (Sorry Henry).

Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, who knows LeBron so well I’m almost positive he’s been sleeping under LeBron’s bed for the past eight years described the recent performance like this: “He lapsed into detachment…It wasn’t that James didn’t deliver in a clutch moment. That is excusable. It was that he looked like he didn’t even want to be in the moment.”

Detachment : That was the word I was looking for; thank you Brian.  Not that he has mental toughness or not.  Not that he is or isn’t clutch.  It’s that he removes himself from the situation altogether.

Tonight is LeBron’s 100th game as a member of the Miami Heat.  Not to jump on the hyperbole-laden S.S. Bayless that I have previously admonished, but this is the most important game of his career.

If you saw the totally not-staged-for-TV pregame speech that the ESPN cameras “caught” before Game 4; the one that on the scale of 1 to Drew Brees’ “This is New Orleans” 300 speech came up as about a 2.5, you heard Mr. James say that he felt like “his back was against the wall.”

If that was the case, I’m not even sure what metaphor to use now at the point he’s currently at.  What’s 100 times more than “back against the wall?”

LeBron James is an unpredictable entity.  He is a fascinating array of chemical reactions.  Does he allow Jason Terry and DeShawn Stevenson’s comments to get to him? Did Wade’s scolding hurt his confidence?  Is he happy to pick up the second fiddle and strum quietly in the corner?

If there’s one thing I can be certain of, it’s this: we can’t be certain of anything when it comes to LeBron Raymone James.  So let’s be comfortable with the indecisiveness of our conclusion, get in the LeBron rollercoaster, put your hands up and enjoy the ride.

Is the Utah Jazz Bear Mascot Actually LeBron James?

The Utah Jazz Bear (yes their mascot is a Bear) decides to figuratively reenact “The Decision” by messing with a Cavs fan and then completely laying him out at midcourt during a Jazz game last week.  The video is great stuff and proves how much of a boss Jazz Bear actually is.  I went to find out why the mascot is a bear, and found a pretty ridiculous Wikipedia page.  It included the following:

Born in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, Jazz Bear was destined to be a star. After graduating Bear Point Academy and performing as a member of the Bearnum and Bailey Circus (where Bear learned most of his tricks), Bear was finally discovered by a Jazz scout and was able to bring his high-flying, crowd-pumping skills to Jazz fans young and old. Jazz Bear separates himself from the rest with his combination of pyrotechnics and acrobatics. Jazz fans have the pleasure of watching Bear sled, surf and bike down the arena stairs. Some Bears hibernate when it gets cold; Jazz Bear prefers dunking through hoops of fire for warmth. The Jazz Bear is known to locals simply as Bear.

Apparently the alcoholics over at Wikipedia have been assigned to checking this particular page, and it’s shit like that that kills those “Is Wikipedia Accurate?” studies.  I decided to join in on the ridiculousness and added my own paragraph to the Jazz Bear page two days ago.  I kept with the running theme:

Jazz Bear also played linebacker at Bear Point Academy, and showed off his perfect form-tackling when attacked by a raging Cavaliers fan at center court during a game on January 14, 2011. He relied on his MMA-background to pounce on the Cavs fan and tap him out immediately, minimizing the massive threat the fan posed to most Jazz fans at the game. The fan attacked because he was angered that Jazz Bear stole his hat after Jazz Bear displayed a sign that read “I’m a loser” behind the Cavs fan’s head without him knowing, which is completely reasonable considering the current state of the Cavaliers and the city they reside.

As of 5:00pm today, it is still up (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jazz_Bear).  Gotta love Web 2.0.  Now I’m going to try and see if I can slip in something about A-Rod being gay and not have them notice.

Corey Maggette Will Use As Many Pivot Feet As He Wants

At least the ref isn’t looking right at it.  Best part of the play is that Maggette decides to turn the ball over and clothesline someone to top this whole masterpiece off.  I would nickname him “The Black Hole” because once he touches the ball no one else sees it again, but for some reason I think that could be racially misconstrued.  “The NBA…where travelling is only a state of mind.”