Posts tagged #nba

LeBron: The Indecision... or the Redemption?

Feeding Bay's Turtles, the LeBron James way... (Courtesy

Guest-writer Tony Garcia returns today with an opinion on LeBron James' controversial return to Cleveland. Here's Tony...

Does anyone NOT know absolutely everything they need to know about LeBron James at this point? If you turned on a TV in the last couple of weeks, you will have certainly seen something related to LeBron James and his decision to re-join the Cleveland Cavaliers after four successful years with the Miami Heat. Yes, I did say successful. Maybe it wasn’t as successful as the Heat originally thought it would be, but it was still successful nonetheless. I guess it just goes to show that you can’t have championship celebrations and a parade before you actually play a game of basketball. Games are never played on paper and the Heat certainly learned that the hard way, going up against and losing to teams that play a team game first. But two championships is better than zero by my math and for that reason, I believe the Heat were an overall success.

But that Heat team will be a shadow of their former selves without the unquestioned best player in basketball right now. The “Big 3” all opted out of their contracts and seemed to seek greener pastures via NBA free agency. The big domino to fall was LeBron. When he opted out of his contract, it was believed that Pat Riley possibly would be using his magic hair gel to woo Carmelo Anthony, the other big name in this years free agent class, to join the Big 3 down in Miami and just crush anyone that dared to walk on the court against the Heat. 

Luckily for the sake of the NBA, things always boil down to money. And in order for Anthony to join LeBron, Wade and Bosh down south ALL of those guys would’ve had to take drastic pay cuts just to be on the same team. Finally, personal greed and the want of millions of dollars prevailed over the thought of winning multiple championships. Phew.

So the big 3 are broken up. And let’s face it, the only reason they were considered a big 3 was because of the biggest fish of them all, LeBron James. The last time James was a free agent was back in 2010, right before he decided to take his talents to South Beach. You remember the ratings monster live interview with Jim Gray that pissed so many people off? Yeah, that wasn’t gonna happen this time. In fact, it was actually the opposite. James took his dear sweet time, allowing ESPN to truly cash in and milk every single minute out of this decision that will impact so many lives. People couldn’t live another day without their daily dose of LeBron Watch. 

Days passed and small time free agents were signing deals but all teams were waiting for the big domino to fall and that was LeBron James. Clevelanders lined the streets of Akron, OH outside of LeBron’s palatial estate waiting for white smoke to arise from one of his six chimneys. Nights passed and only black smoke arose. The twitter-verse was going bananas with speculation. Pictures of moving trucks lining the street of LeBron’s South Beach home surfaced on the internet. One insider spotted LeBron eating the letters F & L out of his Alphabet Soup. It was an uncanny event with speculation running rampant. Even Brian Fantana was spotted outside of Cleveland Cavaliers headquarters!

Then, like something out of the bible or some work of strange fiction, a most un-likely hero emerged to break the news of where LeBron was going to play basketball for the foreseeable future. Print Media! Well, not really. It was posted on the internet still but Sports Illustrated was first to report the evidence of LeBron signing back with his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. Some were still skeptical that a magazine could still break some big news these days. Seriously Sports Illustrated, who are you sources? The masses demand you show your proof!

SI: Our source is... LeBron James!

People: No way! He’s not a reliable source... wait... what? You know him?

SI: Yeah, he wrote us this letter yesterday. Check it out.

Some would say, myself included, that THIS free agency period would’ve made a great TV show. The drama of everything just seemed like a made for TV, can’t-miss hit. Toss out that snoozefest of 2010 with Jim Gray where LeBron announced his decision on live TV on some washed up old gym floor. This was a week-long tease for the masses that concluded with an organic and heartfelt essay written by the man himself. 

All joking aside, If you take a look at the actual essay that James wrote, you’ll find a lot of substance in there. I don’t know if we’ve ever had a confession, written or otherwise, from as high a profile athlete that displays the passion and will to succeed in a place that he truly loves, his hometown of Cleveland/Akron. There is a humility and sincerity in his words that ring true through anyone that has loved a place they call home. I had to re-read the article to make sure he was talking about Cleveland, OH. Not even the founder of Cleveland ever spoke such high praise of that city. LeBron also talks about his regret for leaving the city in the first place and how tough of a decision that was on him and his family. But now he’s back home.

LeBron isn’t just returning home in physical form. Going back to Cleveland and writing his letter is just the beginning of his damage control on his own image and public approval rating. Sure, all six Heat fans in South Beach are burning their LeBron jerseys. But the rest of Miami is clueless to what happened. They’ll find out LeBron left the team the first time the Cavaliers stroll into town. Then they’ll collectively shrug their shoulders and go back to hanging out on the beach and not caring about sports. In Cleveland, they’re trying to un-burn the jerseys they burnt in 2010. A lot of people don’t understand the midwest sports town psyche. Sports are everything and the city of Cleveland is a passionate fan base and no exception. 

As far as basketball goes, of course this is a good move. It’s never a bad thing to have the best player on your team. I expect Cleveland will compete in the weak Eastern Conference starting immediately. If you’re a gambling man, let’s just look at it this way. Before the NBA free agency period started, the Cavaliers were at one point 75:1 odds to win the title. By the time LeBron James signed with the team, they were down to 4:1. Huge impact? Heck yes. As always there will be teams like the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers vying to dethrone LeBron with their heart and grit strategies that never work. For the first time in 4 years, Cleveland can laugh at those jokers and say “bring it”. The king has returned.

Posted on July 14, 2014 and filed under Sports.

2014 NBA Finals Recap

The 2014 NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs (Courtesy

The NBA season has come to an end, and probably not the ending that LeBron and Co. were looking forward to closing out their tenure with the Miami Heat. But don't worry LBJ, there's always Space Jam 2. Here's guest writer Tony Garcia with his recap on the series...

Ding, dong the witch is dead. LeBron James and the Miami Heat were obliterated in the NBA Finals by the San Antonio Spurs 4 games to 1. Most of the national headlines were written the same way: HEAT LOSE, HEAT CHOKE, HEAT THIS, HEAT THAT. Very few outlets are giving credit where credit is due. The Heat didn’t choke. LeBron James didn’t lose his wizardry. A champion was crowned the other day and all the talk leading up to now has all been about the Miami Heat. Never before has a 2nd place finisher been so overhyped in the media. 

I know this is going to come off like I’m a crazy person, but maybe we should be giving credit where credit is due? I mean, it’s not like the Heat were out there playing alone and throwing up bricks left and right. Basketball is the one sport I admittedly can’t go over the Xs and Os and know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m not exactly Tony Roundball but I know what good basketball looks like. I did live through the Bulls dynasty of the 90s. So I always use those squads as a reference point. 

There was a reason the Heat looked like hot trash. The San Antonio Spurs happened and happened in a big way. The hyped up Heat were no match for the team game of the Spurs. Let’s emphasize that team concept here, especially in the last 3 games of the series. The first thing that jumped out at me was the ball movement by San Antonio. It seemed like there was always an open man somewhere on the court. Miami had no answer for it. But ball movement is only the first part of the equation. You have to hit your shots when called upon. The Spurs did just that, finishing with the highest shooting percentage of any NBA Finals champion. There was a stretch in the series where I didn’t think the Spurs would miss a shot. It didn’t matter if it was Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw or Patty Mills…shots were raining down. Combine that with a hall of fame coach and a willingness to accept your role on the team and you have a championship formula. Congrats to the Spurs on their incredible run.

Personally I find pleasure in watching a group like the Heat lose. Nothing feels more artificial than the way that team was built. From “The Decision” of LeBron James to the championship parade before they even played a game together, everything about that team felt so fake. I think they were damned from the beginning and in the end got what they deserved. Sure, they won two championships but that has to seem like a failure. It sure seems like a failure to me. When Wade, Bosh and LeBron all got together and decided to do this I’m sure they didn’t envision only winning two championships. And now there’s talk of that team being dismantled and going their separate ways. The team that America loves to hate could be finished. That will be the big story of the offseason in the NBA. What will the Heat big 3 do?

Meanwhile in San Antonio they will be gearing up for another championship. The ageless Tim Duncan has a player option in his contract for paltry $10 million. That will leave the Spurs with enough cap space to still contend for yet another championship. Kawhi Leonard is a budding star. If the Heat were the most artificial team in existence, the Spurs have to be considered the opposite. They’re more organic than Whole Foods. Most of their team was drafted and developed to play in their very specific team system. Putting together a sports team is a puzzle. The Spurs have the right formula and have found the right pieces. 

What amazes me most about both the Heat and the Spurs is the makeup of each team. The Heat are mostly comprised of Americans that play the schoolyard, flashy, me-first game. The Spurs are really the opposite. They come via France, Argentina, Italy, Brazil and Australia. Even their biggest “homegrown” star, Tim Duncan, grew up in the US Virgin Islands. It is widely known that the international game is much different than the American game. The international game stresses fundamentals and team play. Who better to showcase that to the world than actual international players. I guess we here in the states call them foreigners. Or you can just call them smart. Or winners. 

Good on the Spurs for dispatching America’s Most Hated Team. Let’s pump the brakes on the LeBron vs Jordan debate. There is no debate. There can only be one king and it’s not LeBron James. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Michael never tried to join forces with Barkley and Malone. He went out and did things on his own. If LeBron were smart, he’d go back home to Cleveland and play the rest of his days trying to earn the love back from the people. He can win a championship in Cleveland and if he did, I believe a lot of people would respect that. It’s been said LeBron cares about public perception. Time to do some right and go back home to the city you burned, LeBron. Then lose to the Bulls once we get Carmelo.

Posted on June 20, 2014 and filed under Sports.

Mothers, The Real MVPs

Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant (Courtesy Bleacher Report)

Athletes can be huge jerks sometimes. Not Kevin Durant. In case you missed it, Kevin Durant won the NBA MVP award last week. He then made an MVP acceptance speech for the ages. He showed what a class individual he is. It was a fine display of humility for a guy that could take the same road as many athletes do once they reach the top of the sports food chain, which is become me-first jerkwads that forget they are just humans like the rest of us.

During his speech he told a few stories from his childhood and pointed out and thanked his personal MVP… his mother. The moment was emotional. Watching the video might make you shed a tear or two. My eyes even started to sweat a little, not gonna lie.

While I was watching I kept thinking about the sacrifice it takes to be a mother. I thought about my own mom raising me and my brother as a single parent for the first 10 years of my life. I thought about how crazy of a Bears fan she was in the 80s and 90s. There's no doubt where my love for sports came from. She would yell at the TV when the Bears were on. I always knew it was serious and now I carry on that tradition. Only I've expanded my yelling to include the Cubs, Blackhawks and Bulls. Thanks mom.

I also think of my wife and how great she is with my son. Without her there's no way my son could enjoy sports the way he does. Mom's pave the way to allow kids to be involved in sports. People say soccer mom like its a bad thing. It's badass. It's a badge of honor if you ask me. Their support in just being at games is monumental.

And don't get me started on the subject of me watching games. I'm a frickin' ball of nerves watching one of my teams play. I'm also a huge pain in the ass when they lose. I know this. But I'm still a pain in the ass. I'll sit there with my arms folded and not say a word. You could fry an egg on my head after a tough Bears or Blackhawks loss.

But Lindsay knows when the going gets tough, I just need my space to calm down for like an hour. She's not only supportive for my son Jack's sporting adventures, she comes to watch me play and support me in my games as well.

So guys and gals, don't forget to return the favor and show your mom's some love today on her special day. It doesn't matter if you're Kevin Durant or just an old guy playing in a men's league, your mom's helped all of you and encouraged you to participate in sports which in some way has shaped you into the person you are today.

Happy Mother's Day, mom. Happy Mother's Day, Lindsay.  You are the best moms that one son and husband can ask for. I thank you and love you guys with all of my heart.

Posted on May 11, 2014 and filed under Sports.

Eyes Wide Shut: The Donald Sterling Saga

Los Angeles Clippers Owner Donald Sterling (Courtesy

Guest-writer Tony Garcia submits his second article for SPT - an editorial on the current controversy surrounding Donald Sterling and his comments. Here's Tony...

I didn't get a chance to drive past the Staples Center today because I had to work. Oh… and I also don't live in Los Angeles anymore. In fact, I live over a thousand miles away. Tough break for me I suppose. Outside of Los Angeles though, the LA Clippers have been at the center of the sports universe for the last three days. Only this time I'm not sure they want to be. Instead of concentrating on playoff basketball everyone from Coach Doc Rivers to the players have been distracted by the sideshow created by their owner, Donald Sterling. 

In case you missed it, Donald Sterling is in some piping hot water right now, and quite possibly deserved. Over the weekend TMZ released an audio file where Sterling spews all kinds of hot garbage about "blacks" being brought to "his games." The audio itself is arduous, boring and at times, incoherent. If I were going to write a cliff notes version of said tape, it would be transcribed like so:

Sterling: I'm rich. I'm Jewish. I'm an old school racist. Blacks aren't allowed at my games.


Since my transcribing skills aren't what they used to be, I implore you all to check out the audio for yourselves. When I listened to it in its entirety I was shocked, appalled and generally confused (Editor Troy's Note: Me too… much of it is nonsensical). There was also a bit of sympathy somewhere in there. Not so much for Sterling but just for the situation in general. How can we, in the year 2014, still be dealing with racist issues like this? Or better yet, why are we dealing with racist issues like this? 

So I looked into this Sterling cat. Thanks Google. Now I know too much about someone I've never even heard of before Saturday morning. I take that back…I have heard of Donald Sterling. I knew that he was considered a horrible owner and owned one of the worst teams in sports. I'm talking pre CP3, Doc Rivers and Blake Griffin days. The current Clippers team actually isn't that bad. #BasketballAnalysis

In my research I came across a few interesting things about Mr Sterling. Turns out he owns a lot of rental properties in or around the LA area. One thing that just popped out at me for some reason, not sure why… (sarcasm)… is that the US Department of Justice sued Sterling for housing discrimination after he made statements against renting to Latino and African-American tenants. Hmmm…

Then in 2009, Elgin Baylor, who is an NBA Hall of Famer that was also the general manager of the Clippers from 1986-2008, filed a civil lawsuit against the Clippers organization for wrongful termination. In Baylor's statements to authorities he described Sterling's business practices like a "vision of a Southern plantation type structure…poor black kids from the South playing for a white coach." I'm kind of sensing a trend here.

Reading all of that led to even more questions. If all of this were true, why wouldn't this guy, this owner, this supposed diplomat of the NBA, be questioned before any of this happened? How could the then commissioner of the NBA, David Stern, let any of this go on without even batting an eye? To me the red flags were there well before TMZ released those tapes. The NBA just chose to close their eyes on the matter. It's a damn shame it had to reach this point but unfortunately in order for there to be some justice, something like this had to happen. 

So what about some answers? The story doesn't end with the old rich white man just riding off into the sunset off of Santa Monica Pier while still owning the team, does it? Short answer, no. Lord no. Hell no.

I mentioned the name David Stern above. Thankfully he is now former commissioner David Stern. He retired literally a couple months ago. Just in time if you ask me. Enter new NBA commissioner Adam Silver. He's handed a pretty bad situation here and had to react pretty quickly. Word around the hoops world was the entire NBA Players Association was prepared to protest tonight's playoff games and stage a "walk-off". No, I'm not talking about a Zoolander/Hansel classic walk off. I'm talking about the players leaving the court during the playoffs, the NBA's biggest stage. The domino effect that would've had would've been quite strong when you consider the fans into the equation. Imagine spending your hard earned dollars on going to an already over-priced game only to see the players walk off. 

So Adam Silver had a sticky situation on his hands but boy did he step up to the plate and knock it out of the park. The only walk-off today was a walk-off grand slam off the bat of Adam Silver. When I woke up today I didn't expect sports history to be made. I also didn't expect to type so many words about basketball, a sport I generally have less interest in out of the "big 4" sports. What Adam Silver did today should be applauded and will be talked about in the pantheon of sports history forever. 

After the NBA's investigation of this matter, Silver imposed a lifetime ban from the game of basketball on Donald Sterling. On top of that, Sterling was slapped with a $2.5 million fine, which is the maximum fine amount. Effective immediately. In a matter of days Sterling went from owning the LA Clippers to clipping coupons out of LA newspapers. Just like that. Swift justice. Sterling can't attend NBA games or practices. He may not be present at the Clippers facilities. He can no longer make any decisions regarding the team. Banned. For life.

What's next in all this is the eventual sale of the team. Silver has urged the Board of Governors (the other 29 owners of NBA franchises) to "exercise its authority to force the sale of the team." All that means is this thing is pretty much over for Sterling. No owner of another team will vote for Sterling because this has already reached the point of no return. Any owner that isn't with the commish will face backlash from their own players, coaches and fans. This is a done deal.

What amazed me today wasn't the decision of Silver but the counter-argument some people were making that were in favor of Sterling. You know those people. They're the "first amendment" people. Freedom of Speech. You can hide behind that all you'd like. It's your right. Sterling made his thinking known and will now lose because of it. 

There's no room for racism or bigotry in today's society. Sports always has and will continue to play a major role in climbing the barriers of racism. As we all get older it will be nice to be rid of the "Southern plantation owner" mentality. Donald Sterling grew up in different times than you and I did, but that doesn't make his views right. The good ol' boy network of old-time thinking took a major hit today and for that we should be happy. Thanks for listening.

Posted on April 30, 2014 and filed under Sports.