Basketball, NBA, Sports

How sweet is redemption?

I have not watched the NBA consistently since around 2004. The year the Pistons won the chip. I remember very vividly how much I liked to watch them play, together. Plus who did not love hearing John Mason croon out “Deeeee-troit Basketball” over the PA system a few times during the course of a game.

Last night took me back to those days. The days when I would sit in front of a tv for over two hours watching men run up and down the court. The days when I would squeal with delight when a player made a play that would have me hopping out of my seat(ala Ginobli throwin it down on Bosh). The days when basketball was played as a TEAM. Watching the San Antonio Spurs dominate the NBA Finals was a thing of beauty. The passing, the shots, the unselfish play, the adjustments, the patience, the coaching…just beautiful. I have never seen the game of basketball executed so beautifully.

{Source: Google Images}
{Source: Google Images}

 

The Spurs are the type of team I grew up watching. In the 90s, I loved watching the Bulls play. I was a “fan” of them just like everyone else. I enjoyed watching them execute the triangle offense with so much precision. While they had a dominant force in Michael Jordan leading the way, everyone, including MJ, played their role and they played it well. When the NBA started shifting from the team game to having one major superstar, a few semi-stars and a bunch of bench fillers on the team, I checked out. There was nothing enjoyable about that style of play.

So back to last night. Here I was, gleefully, watching the Spurs put on a clinic, reminiscing on the old days. Happy to see old school basketball prevail. I think it is safe to say only a handful of people around the world picked the Spurs to dominate the Heat. Shoot, I did not even see many people picking the Spurs to win(I did) which was baffling considering they were 25 seconds away from a championship last year. However, the Spurs made it obvious in Game 1 that they were seeking three things: revenge, redemption and a fifth ring. Check. Check. And check.

From the rejuvenated Tim Duncan to the elusive Tony Parker to the sparkplug Manu Ginobli to the silent assassin Kawhi Leonard to the reliable Boris Diaw to the dagger Patty Mills to the trigger Danny Green to the confident Tiago Splitter to the mastermind Gregg Popovich, the Spurs executed the very finesse that is basketball. The game is team first. It is next man up. It is fun. It is resilient. It is exciting. It is selfless. That is Spurs basketball. However as good as they are, I heard so many people moaning and groaning about them playing in the Finals again that I have to wonder if we have become so accustomed to only being able to equate success with individuality that we have failed to realize that success often comes in the form of a team? Whether it is your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, church family, etc, there is often a group of individuals that pushes and holds us up as we climb the ladder of success. The joy I saw on the Spurs bench was nothing short of a complete team celebrating in an accomplishment that they all contributed too. And hopefully, Timmy will not retire and they can do this again next year. Fingers crossed.

 

{Source: Google Images}
{Source: Google Images}
{Source: Google Images}
{Source: Google Images}

 

{Source: Google Images}
{Source: Google Images}

 

Basketball, NBA, Sports

So you got cramps, aye?

Last night’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals was one of the best NBA games I have seen in a very long time. From the tip, the game proved to be nothing short of exciting, nail biting and intense. The Spurs and Heat traded baskets, swapped leads several times and got real wide eyed almost every time a foul was called as if it was impossible for them to foul. A game that was too close to call for much of the night quickly took a turn when the game’s leading scorer, LeBron James, had to leave the floor due to severe cramps. His exit sparked a 16-3 run by the Spurs who rode that momentum to a Game 1 win.

However, the talk today is not about how two teams battled until the end. The talk is not about how dominant 38 year old Tim Duncan was. The talk is not about how bench players played significant roles in which side of the column that team finished on. The talk is about cramps. Yes, cramps. You know those things that athletes tend to get. Yeah, those. The AT&T Center was more reminiscent of a sauna last night than a basketball arena as the electrical system charged with supplying juice to the arena malfunctioned. The temperature in the area soared above 90 degrees. Players were seen wringing out their uniforms and placing ice packs on their necks to keep cool. Fans tapped into their creative side and made fans out of signs that were passed out before the game. Via Twitter, former NBA players compared last night’s experience to playing in the Boston Garden. 

Who cares about all of that though when the league’s best player is unable to finish the game due to cramps. With a little under four minutes to play, James hobbled off the court plagued by a condition he has suffered from before. When he left, I knew it was coming. I knew the tweets would start. I knew what the comparison would be. I prepped myself to hear it. “MJ played through the flu. You mean to tell me he can’t play through cramps.” For years, James has been criticized for what many have called a lack of killer instinct. So for him to exit last night just added more fuel to the fire that was already hot.

All I could do was laugh. It was obvious that everyone who was tweeting, chatting and flapping their gums had NEVER experienced severe cramps. I do not care how tough you are mentally or physically, a severe cramp especially in your leg or foot, will send you into limp noodle status quick. I saw all kinds of ridiculousness. People accusing James of not being a well conditioned athlete because he cramped. Say what now? I must assume these people have not been watching him play for the last 11 years. Those that have been watching obviously do not understand how this cramping thing works. Seeing that it is Friday and I am in a good mood, let me break it down for you.

Cramps can occur as a result of a number of factors. Muscle fatigue,  dehydration, low potassium, low sodium and electrolyte disturbance. Exposure to large changes in temperature can also cause cramping. A person with a large amount of lean muscle is more susceptible to cramping. Have you ever watched a track meet? Exactly.  The combination of the temperature in the arena, James’ profuse sweating which caused the electrolyte disturbance(your muscle cells will begin to shrink) and the fact that he received no IV’s during the game(which still baffles me since this not the first time he has had to exit a game due to cramping) is why James was unable to finish the game. HE COULD NOT PLAY. If he had received IV’s during the game, this probably would have not been an issue. The trainer, team doctor, coach, somebody needs to answer for that foolishness.

So there you have it. You can call him soft, a wuss, whatever. Let one of those cramps catch you. I bet you will be calling on Jesus. Trust me. I know.

 

Until next time…TOODELLS.

 

P.S. Even in my defense of LBJ, I have to admit that the pictures of people LeBronin last night left me in chuckles. #NoChill

Basketball, MLB, NBA, Sports

Crown them, again

My goodness. Where do I start? There is so much to talk about regarding Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Do I start with the outcome of the game? Do I start with the play of LeBron James? Or do I start with talking about my admiration for the man I call, class personified, Tim Duncan?

What a game. What a series. As most of you know, I am very vocal about my overall dislike of the NBA. I do not find the quality of play to be as good as it used to be. I think players are a lot more selfish than before. I also think the game is a bit boring at times. However, if I can get the quality of play in the regular season that I see in the playoffs, I would be glued to the tv almost every night. This NBA Finals series was full of everything you could want. Suspense. Drama. Buzzer beaters. Blowouts. Wow moments. Runs. Things that make you go hmmm.

So after Lady Luck helped the Miami Heat escape Game 6 with a win, everybody knew that in order for the Heat to have a chance to win the championship, both James and Dwayne Wade would have to have huge games. Apparently James likes Games 7’s since he is averaging over 31 points per game in them and he did not disappoint last night. Did he ball out or what? He hit 12 of 23 shots for 37 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and had four assists. Oh and he sealed the deal for Miami by hitting a jumper with less than 20 seconds left that put the heat up by four. Unfortunately, for San Antonio there would be no miraculous comeback reminiscent of the Heat’s game 6 turnaround. In a game, that in the mind of many was make or break for the legacy of James, James proved to all his doubters why he was crowned King James many years ago. This was a big time performance by a big time player on the NBA’s biggest stage. Unfortunately, it might not do much to quiet the naysayers but hey as James said, “he ain’t got no worries.” Carry on.

Now as much as I want to be thrilled for James, I can not help but be sad for Tim Duncan. What a class act. With less than 40 seconds left, Duncan had a chance to tie the game, add another line to his already extensive and impressive resume and quite possibly get San Antonio one step closer to another NBA Championship. However, it was not meant to be. Duncan missed a bank shot, that he normally makes 99% of the time. To make matters worse, he rebounded the ball and could not get his follow up shot to fall. Afterwards, in a surprising display of emotion as he was getting back on defense, Duncan slapped the court in a moment of frustration. In that moment, the respect I have for Duncan rose another notch. He is always the source of jokes for his lack of emotion. We have all seen Duncan go out and score 30 plus points on numerous occasions. We have seen him dunk on players. We have seen him win games at the buzzer and very rarely do we see him display any type of excitement regarding what he just did. Typically, he will just turn around and run back down the court. No bells and whistles when it comes to him. So to see him that upset just proves to all who were watching that he is serious about his craft. He should be. He is arguably the best power forward to ever grace an NBA court and according to him, he still has gas left int he tank. Duncan will be back in uniform next season. Can not wait to see what season number 18 has in store for him.

So there you have it. Another NBA season has come to an end. All we have now are hockey(the Stanley Cup Finals are amaze this year, as usual), baseball(neither of my favorite players, Josh Hamilton and Matt Kemp, are having good years) and Wimbledon. At least it is summer time!!! Get out and enjoy this beautiful weather.

Before I leave, I must give a shoutout to my boy, my friend, CJ McBath. He is McDonald’s newest star and his commercial aired during the game last night. Do you all understand how huge that is to have your commercial air during the NBA Finals?? Game 7 at that. I am so proud of him and the people at the restaurant thought I was crazy when his face flashed up on the screen. Ask me if I cared?? CJ is more than a friend, he is family and when anyone in my family has a cause for celebration, I am right there to celebrate too. So cheers to you Snook!! Hahaha! #FamTite

Until next time….TOODELLS.

Basketball, Controversy, NBA, Sports

Did I really see what I think I saw…

[Source: Google Images}
[Source: Google Images}

Last night, with 20.1 seconds left in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, I tweeted that “Twitter is about to meltdown in 20.1 seconds.”  At that point in time, it was clear that the San Antonio Spurs were about the clinch their fifth championship and the crucifixion of LeBron James was about to occur. Then the unthinkable, the inevitable, the unimaginable happened. What I thought was going to happen did not happen because what I thought was going to cause what I thought would happen did not happen. Let that sink in for a minute.

With 20.1 seconds left, the Spurs had a commanding 5 point lead. The celebration rope had been brought out, the Larry O’Brien trophy was in the tunnel and the James slander had begun to commence. With Tim Duncan on the bench, the Miami Heat was able to rebound a miss and kick the ball back out to James who buried a three to cut the lead to two. Ut oh. Next, a young Kawhi Leonard to fouled and was sent to the line with the Mount Everest task of nailing two free throws to put the Spurs up four and ultimately clinch their fifth championship. That is a lot on a young man’s shoulders. Leonard hit one of two free throws. Then that unthinkable, unevitable, unimaginable thing that I talked about earlier happened. James missed a three pointer, Bosh grabbed the rebound and kicked it out the the greatest three point specialist of all time, Ray Allen. And what does Allen do? What he normally does, drains it!!! Just like that he sends the American Airlines into a frenzy and gives us some free basketball.

Wait a minute!! What just happened?? How did this just happen?? And why was Duncan on the bench, again, during that sequence?? Normally I do not question Gregg  Popovich because like I said yesterday, he is a genius but he made two questionable decisions down the stretch that may have cost him his fifth ring. Manu Ginobli had a horrible game!!! This guy was a walking, raging turnover machine all night. Yet, Pop left him in the game. Then, you have the undeniable questions surrounding your best player, your best rebounder, your franchise player, Duncan, riding the pine at such a crucial time. Makes absolutely no logical sense whatsoever. Pop, you have some splaining to do.

Game 6 was without a doubt one of the best NBA Finals games I have ever seen and it will be hard to top if on Thursday. As much as I want the Spurs to win, I am not sure they have enough left in the tank to grab the championship they let slip through their fingers last night. However, I know from experience that when your body is tired, your heart takes over and the Spurs have enough heart on their team to will them to victory. One thing is for certain, around approximately12am Friday, someone’s Hall of Fame resume is going to another line added to it. Will it be Duncan or James? We shall soon find out.

Until next time….TOODELLS.

Baseball, Basketball, Controversy, Football, Hockey, MLB, NBA, NFL, North Carolina State University, Randoms, Sports, Wolfpack

What I am thinking…

Just a few little random thoughts from yours truly…

 

1. If the Miami Heat lose tonight, which I believe they will, LeBron James is going to catch slander like we have never seen before. The 27 game win streak, the MVP and the domination from him we have seen throughout the playoffs will not matter to most critics and analysts. We are going to hear that he did not get the job done, he did not show up when it mattered most and that he choked once again. As much as the LeBron slander annoys me, I will say that he has seemed off during these finals. His drive and passion to win another ring just does not seem as prevalent as it was last year. Maybe it is because he already has a ring. Maybe it is because he thought getting past the San Antonio Spurs would be easy. And maybe, just maybe, he does not have “it” at all times.

2. When the Spurs win this fifth ring, can we now enter Greg Popovich into the discuss of the greatest coaches ever? I promise you that he does not get enough respect. Let me rephrase that, he does not get a lot of exposure. I think that is because of the market he is in and the team he coaches. The Spurs have long been considered “boring” but I think they have dispelled that myth with this playoff run. Pop gets the most out of his players. I mean who would have ever thought the Spurs would gain a second “Big 3” in the Finals: Kawhi Leonard, Gary Neal and Danny Green. That Greg Popovich man. Genius.

3. Is Tiger ever going to win another major? Every time it looks like this might be the tournament he break though, he does not. It is a struggle watching him constantly finish anywhere other than first. If only he would have left those women alone…

4. I really hope the Boston Bruins win the Stanley Cup. That will be great for that city after this year’s tragedy. Go Bruins!! #BostonStrong

5. Let me just say this whole Jason Kidd coaching the Nets baffles me, still. It is the Nets though. *Kanye shrug*

6. The WOLFPACK baseball team has started off strong in Omaha. Thrashed the smerfs. UCLA up next. LETS GO #PACK9!!

7. 79 days until the NFL Season starts!!!! YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!

 

Until next time….TOODELLS.