Blake Griffin’s 43 not enough. L.A. Clippers fall to champion Heat, 116-112

LeBron James was a blur scoring 31 points and dishing out 12 assists in Heat's 116-112 win over the Clippers.
LeBron James was a blur scoring 31 points and dishing out 12 assists in Heat’s 116-112 win over the Clippers.

The Los Angeles Clippers were game, but they need a lot more rehearsing after losing to the two-time defending world champion Miami Heat, 116-112.

It was a high-flying battle waged above the rim with Clippers all-star Blake Griffin going toe-to-toe against the reigning league MVP LeBron James.

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L.A. Clippers host King James and Champion Miami Heat

DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin of the Clippers have each others' back with the Heat in town.
DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin of the Clippers have each others’ back with the Heat in town.

Right before the season started first-year Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers told the media his philosophy on the regular season is that it’s a dress rehearsal for the playoff grind.

Well, tonight’s game is definitely a dress rehearsal. The Clippers (34-17) host the defending two-time NBA world champion Miami Heat in the first of a five-game home stand at Staples Center.

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GO AWAY, REV. JESSE JACKSON!

I’ve had about 10 days to absorb the soap opera that was the LeBron James Free Agency Courting and what’s happened in the wake of LeBron joining a hoops trinity in South Beach.

My observation, good for LeBron, D’Wade and C’Bosh.  The Miami Heat still won’t beat the Lakers in a seven-gamer. At least next season.

DONE. Not so fast.

Problem is politics and the race card had to get involved in the soap opera.

I’ll say it again, I hate it when sports and politics intersect because there’s no place for it. When it does, I have to comment on it because it’s so insulting, divisive and demeaning, especially when the premise is so wrong.

Rev. Jesse Jackson

The Reverend Jesse Jackson just couldn’t resist to weigh in on LeBron James leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh with the Miami Heat and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert’s subsequent email tirade to fans on the Cavaliers web page.

The civil rights activist and former presidential candidate answered with his own letter working the race card accusing Gilbert of being a racist in the entire ordeal. Jackson said this, and I quote:

“He speaks as an owner of LeBron and not the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. His feelings of betrayal personify a slave-master mentality. He sees LeBron as a runaway slave. This is an owner-employee relationship between business partners and LeBron honored his contract. LeBron is not a child, nor is he bound to play on Gilbert’s plantation and be demeaned.”

Jackson’s statement demeans the atrocities slaves in America endured at the hands of their African captors and American masters.  Slaves didn’t sign seven-year, guaranteed $100 million contracts and multi-million dollar endorsement deals to pick cotton. The “swoosh” slaves wore were from being whipped to the brink, not a Nike endorsement deal. The brand burned in their skin wasn’t an NBA logo, but a crest identifying which family owned them.If you ask me, it’s a racist remark. Coming from Jackson, that’s “reverse racism.” Either way, it’s racism.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert

Look. What Gilbert posted after LeBron’s “ESPN Decision Special” went a bit overboard. That’s obvious. His anger towards LeBron was obviously because he and the Cavalier fans weren’t given the courtesy of being informed of LeBron’s decision prior to the “primetime fiasco” which would’ve saved Northeast Ohio from an embarrassing National Television “Slap in the Face” if you will.

NBA commissioner David Stern fined Gilbert $100,000 for the tirade calling it “ill-advised” which it was. He did say he understood why it was said and explained after defending LeBron’s rights as the free agent he was.

“Had he (LeBron) asked my advice in advance, I might have suggested that he advise Cleveland at an earlier time than apparently he did that he was leaving, even without announcing where he was going, so we could have eliminated that. I would have advised him not to embark on what has been come known as ‘The Decision.’ I think that the advice that he received on this was poor. This “Decision” was ill-conceived, badly produced and poorly executed.”

Jackson’s rhetoric towards Gilbert is wrong and totally unnecessary. It almost seems as if he’s trying to stay relevant by using words that personified a time and place that occurred almost half a century ago.

Jackson’s relevance in the Civil Rights Movement working alongside Andrew Young and the great Martin Luther King Jr. to change this country solidifies a legacy that helped elect a person of color in the White House.

When it comes to billionaire LeBron’s free agency soap opera, Jackson’s irrelevant.  To compare it to slavery is an insult to those who were enslaved. It’s a disgrace and shameful to compare the two. Jackson should know better.

Enough is enough!

Et Tu, LeBron?!?! We Are All WITNESS!

WOW! Fantasy Basketball League’s becoming reality right before our very eyes. LeBron, D’Wade and Chris Bosh all on the same team. Three of the top five picks in the 2003 NBA Draft wearing the same uniform and it doesn’t say “USA” across the chest.

THE TRIO IN THEIR PRIME, NO LESS! INKED FOR SIX YEARS AT $328 MILLION! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!

Fitting that the Miami Heats’road uniform is black and Pat Riley sports that “Gordon Gekko” hair-do.

Greed is good.

C’mon! Who doesn’t love the 80s!?!

Seven years after Ohio native LeBron James, the anointed “chosen one” and lottery pick delivered to the hometown Cleveland Cavaliers after the “ping-pong ball gods” made it so, arrived with so much promise of a championship Clevelanders have been longing for since Jim Brown’s Browns won an NFL Championship in 1964.…………………………

He’s gone.

In his wake headed south to Miami, Bron-Bron leaves Cleveland with one Eastern Conference Title, two Most Valuable Player Awards and millions of broken hearts.

Like Cleveland sports fans aren’t used to that.

Reality is LeBron fulfilled his seven-year obligation to the Cleveland Cavaliers lifting them to “elite status” in the association.

No championship. But, you can‘t have everything.

LeBron earned his free agency status and the right to shop his services to find the best opportunity for him to win a championship and play alongside anyone he wants.

He tried to lure Bosh to Cleveland. Bosh wanted South Beach. So, you can’t lure ’em, join ’em.

LeBron didn’t do anything a pro sports team owner wouldn’t do. The King did what’s best for LeBron and his brand. He left for greener pastures and a much better chance of winning that championship he covets. That’s fine.

But, it’s the way he did it that’s not so fine. LeBron pulled a “Robert Irsay“.

In the wee hours of the night in the Spring of 1984 the late, former owner of the then Baltimore Colts brought in moving trucks driving his franchise out of Maryland to Indianapolis before anyone that bled Colts blue and white knew what in the name of Johnny Unitas happened.

No 18 wheeler needed for LeBron to drive the dagger home. Lebron humiliated and betrayed Cleveland sports fans on national television in a prime time, one-hour, self-absorbed ESPN “Decision Special” rendering all of us witness to their latest sports anguish.

Cleveland deserved much better from the local boy.

How gut-wrenching that reality show was for Cleveland sports fans. They understood five other teams had a shot at LeBron and probably would’ve reacted better to the news of the Kings departure had he made them aware prior to his “prime time fiasco”. Instead, Cleveland’s “chosen one” made his hometown fans “the shafted ones” once again.

“It’s a business decision.”

That’s what LeBron said during the fiasco after revealing the Heat was his choice. That’s fine.

That‘s what Irsay said after the contents of the moving trucks were unloaded in Indy and what Art Modell, the former owner of the old Cleveland Browns, said when he moved his team to Baltimore to become the Ravens.

What LeBron’s decision did is “put the shoe on the other foot.”

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert became one of those jilted sports fans evidence being the bitter message he fired off vilifying LeBron on the Cavaliers website after the King’s ready for prime-time knife stabbing.

Continuing the “rub the salt in the wound tour”, the hoops trinity was paraded at American Airlines Arena in Miami Friday night in their new Heat garb with D’Wade introducing the King and the Predator (I‘m sorry, that‘s who Bosh resembles)to Heat fans.

All three look good in those uniforms. We’ll see how it works out on the court this coming fall.

Remember Dan. Business is business.

The Cavaliers and new head coach Byron Scott, who‘s got to feel as if someone pulled the rug out from under his feet,

Cavs head coach Byron Scott

will march on. At this point, no longer championship contenders, most likely as an eight-seed in the eastern conference.

So will Lebron, D’Wade, Bosh and the Heat, most likely as the east’s top-seed with eventual trips to the finals and a championship or two at some point. But, not yet.

That would have the Heat and Cavs meeting in next Spring’s first round of the NBA Playoffs. If there’s any poetic justice at all for those jilted Cavalier fans, their team would take the Heat to a seventh game and win it with a buzzer-beater literally sending LeBron, D’Wade and Bosh to the beach.

Cleveland sports fans can only hope. At this point, that’s all they have.

LeBron May Be “King James,” But Kobe IS “The Lord of the Rings”

Individual stats don’t mean a thing here. I could throw them down. But why? You already know them, can find them on many assorted web sites and they speak for themselves.

No doubt that at the moment LeBron James is the most talented basketball player in the world. As he should be. He’s been in the league seven years and he’s only 25. LeBron, the two-time reigning NBA MVP, is “The King of the Court.”

We are ALL WITNESS to the ONE.

Reminds me of a story.

Not too long ago in the “Hoops Kingdom,” there once was a little prince Los Angeleno’s affectionately called “Kid Kobe.” Like LBJ, Kid Kobe entered the “joust” at the tender age of 18 years old. The little prince took his lumps.

Then, under the huge wing of “The Big Aristotle” and a wise wizard, “The Zen Master,” he learned and matured.

The three, along with their merry men, formed a magical “Triangle” that conquered the kingdom for three straight years and they all became “Lords of the Rings.”

Until the political power-struggle between the trio during the fourth attempt, where they relinquished the kingdom to the “Mad Men from the Motor City” who were guided by the powerful “Larry the Nomad.”

Aristotle left for greener everglades in the “Land of the Sun, Sea and Damsels with Blue Hair.” Zen did as well, riding his motorized stallion to his lair in the North. Kid Kobe was crowned Sole Ruler of the “City of Angels.”

The going was tough for the young and hungry ruler. Many changes occurred at his triangular table. He soon realized “the needs of the many, out-weigh the needs of the one.” He threatened to leave his kingdom to try and conquer another if he couldn’t surround himself with Knights worthy to become “Lords.”

Seeing the unrest, and at the behest of “The Doctor,” the Zen Master returned from the North to reunite with his Young Ruler. Oddly enough, the Ruler HAD knights worthy surrounding him all along. The “Power of the Triangle” was what made the Ruler and his Knights a fabulous show for all times. However, as valiantly as they battled, “The Angeleno’s” could not climb out of the “Valley of the Sun.” The ruler pleaded for help.

During the middle of the next attempt, a “Spanish Conqueror,” majestic among his people and ruler of his court, was summoned. The new trio and their band of merry men began to steamroll through the Western Civilization, which included “setting the army from the valley of the sun.”  The, now, experienced Ruler was happy again and loaded with knights to again take his rightful place atop the whole hoops kingdom.

Alas, in his quest, the Ruler and his army were stopped by the “Green Leprechauns” from the East who, at the expense of The Angeleno’s, added rings to their not so hidden treasures.

The Ambitious Ruler vowed he would regain the ring. In the next attempt, his 30th year on this Earth, The Angeleno’s ascended to the top of the Hoops Kingdom.

The Ruler was “Lord of the Rings” once again. And they lived………………

Of course, the story was about Kobe Bryant and the World Champion Los Angeles Lakers. What drives “Kid Kobe” is winning. In the Kobe Era, the Lakers have won four rings in six attempts. Kobe’s got one league Most Valuable Player Award and one Finals MVP. The difference, the Four Rings.

At the moment, for “King James” it’s about individual stats. Two league MVP’s. Zero for one in the Finals.

Brings me to this. The Cleveland Cavaliers have assembled a team around LeBron that’s absolutely good enough to win a World Championship. After two straight bad losses in the Eastern Conference Semi’s to the Boston Celtics it looks as if he seems to lack two skills Kobe’s mastered. LeBron’s not a facilitator, meaning he still doesn’t know how to bring out the immense talents of his teammates, especially when he’s having an off night. Also, LeBron’s clearly not the closer Kobe is. He can, but not consistently, go for the jugular and put an opponent away the way Kobe can.

In the Cavaliers 32-point game five loss to the Celtics, Lebron was so not in the loop, he looked more like the 12th man off the bench. Subsequently, his teammates, who are programmed to defer to LeBron, looked so lost it appeared they had never played basketball before that particular game. Except for four-time world champion Shaquille O’Neal who is playing consistently well in these playoffs.

Sure, you’ve got to give plenty of the blame for the Cavs horrendous play on King James. But, I think Cleveland head coach Mike Brown has to take plenty of heat because the rest of the team seems lost when LeBron is having an “off night.”

Says plenty about Lakers coach Phil Jackson. He won his ten rings, and is on his way to battling for number 11, because all his players are big parts of any game-plan. Kobe’s the focal point as Michael Jordan was with the  Chicago Bulls. But the rest of the team, which is ten deep, understand they have to contribute, even when Kobe has an “off night,” if the Lakers are to win.

At the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, both LeBron and Kobe were part of the Gold Medal winning Team USA. Who was the absolute leader of that team? Kobe.

Realize LeBron’s just 25 while Kobe’s now 31. “King James” will have his moments and championships. Realize the Cavaliers, despite that tank-job losing to the Celtics 120-88, are still alive. Free agent to be “King James” can still conquer the court and get a ring this year.

However, I think it’s way pre-mature that people have passed the “Best Player on the Planet Torch” from Kobe to LeBron. For one reason and one reason only.

LeBron may be “King James”. But Kobe IS “The Lord of the Rings.”

Five Reasons The Lakers SHOULD Win Another Championship

So many things to write about in the sports world, not enough time. Every time I begin to write on a sports topic, I get distracted by another.

Major league baseball’s in full swing. The NBA and Stanley Cup playoffs. The NFL Draft.

I’ll write about the NBA Playoffs and the defending world champion Los Angeles Lakers. I’ll also write about some guy named Denton Ramsey.

So, you’re asking yourself, “What does this Denton guy have to do with the Lakers.” Good question. Here’s the answer. He’s a Texas sports geek who writes for a site called bleacher report. He’s also a Laker-hater. Which is all well and good.

He’s also a dreamer.

In his latest scribes on b/r, Ramsey sites his Top Five Reasons the LA Lakers Won’t Win A NBA Title This Season. His reasons seem to be from his heart or what he hopes will happen. You should read them. I’ll go through them here because he doesn’t support any of his reasons with facts:

  • 1. L.A. Is Beatable, And They May Not Even Make It To The NBA Finals.

REALLY! No kidding, Denton. That’s why they call it PLAYOFFS!! If the Lakers weren’t beatable, there wouldn’t be a need for playoffs. Seems to me the Lakers were taken to the brink by Houston last post-season on their way to franchise title number 15. Denver went six in the conference finals while Orlando fell in five for the title. Could’ve gone either way in each series. But it didn’t. It went the Lakers’ way.

Here’s why it‘s highly possible it‘ll happen again:

Kobe Bryant’s a creator, facilitator and the best finisher in the game today. He can score from anywhere on the floor and in the air. He can dish to anyone of his teammates from anywhere on the floor and in the air. The Lakers have a front-court of Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and defender Ron Artest. Off the bench comes Lamar Odom. No team in the Western Conference can handle that front court. Their only weakness is point-guard. But in “The Triangle,” a point guard isn’t the most important piece of the puzzle. None of Phil Jackson’s champions, be it in Chicago or Los Angeles, ever had a great point guard. The “quarterback” of The Triangle is the shooting guard. Kobe and some guy named Michael Jordan play the role perfectly.

Anyway, the Utah Jazz will be without Mehmet Okur because of his achilles injury in the Denver series. That leaves Carlos Boozer and this 7”1”  Kyrylo Fesenko-guy that helps in spurts. Kind of reminds me of the Jazz center in the 80s, 7’4” Mark Eaton. He couldn’t do anything against Kareem or Magic’s “Showtime Lakers.” This Fasenko-guy won’t do much against the quicker tandem of Gasol and Bynum. The Spurs Tim Duncan won’t be able to do much with his aging ankles and heels against Pau and Drew either. Especially in a seven-game series. Phoenix’s Amar’e Stoudemire ………… right.

  • 2. Round Two Upset Alert. The Jazz Are Due Against the Lakers.

Every round’s an Upset Alert when taking on the Lakers. But, see reason number one. That Jazz team in the 80s, with Eaton, Malone, Stockton and Bailey, was “due” against the Showtime Lakers as well. Never happened. Today’s incarnation will meet the same fate. They’re “due” having been ousted the last two playoff seasons by this Lakers’ incarnation. But, the Jazz aren’t any better than the last two years. They’re solid, play tough, have a huge point-guard advantage with Deron Williams. But, so do all the other teams in the post-season. Doesn’t matter. It’s all up front and the Jazz don’t have enough to take four out of seven from the Lakers.

  • 3. Even If They Get Past Jazz, Spurs Still Stand In L.A.’s Way In West.

Again, see reason number one. Tim Duncan is old. Well, his feet and ankles are. He can’t sustain it any longer against the young Lakers’ front line to take four out of seven. Richard Jefferson’s a bust. Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are a bit banged-up. They beat Dallas because they’re an outside shooting team with Dirk Nowitzki. Even with Dallas’ acquisitions of Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood, it wasn’t enough. They were better defensively. But those two didn’t change their mentality on offense. The Mavs shot outside playing right into San Antonio’s hands.

The Lakers will take it to the rim against the slower and older Spurs putting Duncan and company in foul trouble. Spurs could win a game, maybe two. But, they’re too old and can’t match the Lakers starters or reserves to take four games from L.A.

  • 4. Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson’s Final Year In L.A. Will Be Title-Less.

True. Phil Jackson may not win his eleventh title as a coach this year. True. This could be his last year coaching the Lakers. That’s because his contract is up whenever the Lakers are done this year. Doesn’t mean he won’t sign another contract which is a good possibility. If he doesn’t, it doesn’t mean he’s leaving L.A. Published reports have him, possibly, moving to the Clippers and enticing LeBron James to share Los Angeles with Kobe. Those are just rumors. But, intriguing none-the-less.

Oh. It’s true that Jackson’s won all these titles as a coach because he’s had all these super-stars on his teams. Wonder if Red Auerbach’s Celtics would’ve won without that hall-of-fame roster of Russell, Cousey, Havlicek, Nelson, White and Silas among others. Or maybe Red Holtzman’s Knicks with Frazier, Monroe, Barnett, Bradly, Reed, Lucas and Debusschere. How about Popovich’s Spurs with Duncan, Robinson, Ginobili and Parker. Every Championship winning coach, in all sports, has super-stars. No coach wins with second-teamers or scrubs.

Anyway, if the Lakers should repeat as Champions, expect Jackson to be back on the bench next season. He’d have to go for his fourth “three-peat” if title eleven happens for him this year.

  • 5. The Entire Team Complains Every Time They are Called for a Foul.

So what. So does every player on every team.

Bottom line is this. If the Lakers take the ball to the rack (which opens up the outside game) against all of their Western Conference opponents, they’ll have a smooth road to the NBA Finals.

It could get a bit difficult for them if they happen to play Cleveland for the Championship. LeBron’s Cavaliers have added parts like Shaq to beat Dwight Howard and the Magic in the Eastern Conference and, maybe, the Lakers in the Finals. But, if I were a betting man, I’d STILL bet on the Lakers to win it all.

Do I hear chants of “3-Peat” yet?

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