A Legacy at the Crossroads: What’s at Stake for the Miami Heat and LeBron James Tonight?

Four months ago, if you thought anyone but the Miami Heat was favored to win the NBA Championship, you were an idiot. The team had the most transcendent player of the generation playing at his absolute apex, an MVP-level sidekick shooting the highest percentage of his career, and an all-star third piece who had gleefully embraced his role and adjusted his game to fit his surroundings. Maybe even more important, this team had an identity: by redefining conventional NBA lineups, playing insanely aggressive trapping defense, and operating in an uber-efficient, uptempo, three-point-centric offensive attack, the Heat were innovating basketball while destroying opponents at the same time.

What a difference four months makes, eh? In that time, I’ve gained approximately seven pounds, went into a horrendous non-writing slump on my blog, scuffed my “Military Blue Jordan 4’s,” been on local radio for stopping traffic because my car broke down, and called a guy by the wrong name during a job interview. And the crazy thing is, compared to the Miami Heat, I feel pretty good right now.

In a span of six games against Indiana, this team has gone from “borderline unbeatable” to “will this group ever contend for a finals run again?” In all my years of playing/watching basketball (and YouTubing the famous games I wasn’t yet alive for), I’ve never seen anything like it.

So what’s happened to Miami? It’s pretty simple really, but for complicated reasons. Let’s start with the obvious, easy-to-notice observations and try to explain why they’re happening: Continue reading

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NBA’s Refs are the Key to Fixing Flopping

It’s a depressing fact that somehow in this year’s playoffs, despite the Westbrook injury, the D-Rose knee saga, the Clipper disappointment, the Laker soap opera, the J.R. Smith disappearing act, the emergence of Roy Hibbert, Tim Duncan’s rejuvenation (and leading his Spurs to a fifth title – whoops, SPOILER ALERT), and LeBron’s monstrous consistency despite the collapse of his supporting cast (expect a post on this in the immediate future, by the way), the biggest story of the league’s second season has been FLOPPING. I just gagged a little.

However, these be the facts of life, so I guess it’s necessary that I at least offer a few thoughts about the issue. The problem with the NBA’s recent “anti-flopping” initiative is, well, that it’s not going to work. You could fine players excessive amounts of money (which is not the current case; $5,000 to these guys is nothing), assess technical fouls, or even hand out suspensions, but that won’t fix the fundamental problem that causes flopping in the first place, which lies with the NBA’s referees.

When it comes down to it, inconsistent and poor officiating is the reason players are flopping now more than ever. Before I address the referees, however, let me dispel two myths about flopping: Continue reading

Return from Hiatus! – NBA Playoff Predictions, Two Week Recap, and More

In case you haven’t noticed  (which is probably most of you), it’s been about 19 days since my last post, which is, ahem, quite a long time. I don’t really have a great excuse except that I’ve been interviewing for a job, which has occupied most of my attention, and then took a beach vacation where there was no wifi. Either way, it’s been way too long since I’ve put anything up, and for that I’m sorry. It’ll never happen again. It didn’t mean anything! I didn’t even know her last name! Yes I used protection! Just don’t tell the kids… Continue reading