The Plain Dealer reported the following excerpt from the soon to be released book Shooting Stars by Deadspin's favorite author Buzz Bissinger:
"LeBron James smoked marijuana during his junior year in high school. Three other members of the Akron St. Vincent St. Mary starting five smoked with him. Another drank alcohol. All this took place in a hotel room in Akron the players "had gotten access to," in the guarded words of "Shooting Stars," a book to be released in September."
This doesn't suprise me, or bother me in the least. In all seriousness, what would you have done if you were a highschool junior and some hotel is opening its doors to you, free of charge, for you and your high school friends to have parties there whenever you wanted? It might have gotten a little weird. And you would have most likely done worst things than lose the state championship that year. Additionally, in the days to come, I really dont want to hear from the Tim Tebow-ites of the world on this one. Don't hate...didn't the Big Guy teach you that too?
I can't lie, I thought this whole thing would end in a Nike Commercial. But after I saw the dunk at EBaumnation.com I realized why that will never happen. Probably the most disappointed person out there right now is Jordan Crawford. People had him figured for a young Shawn Kemp when he was doing his rounds on radio row. I thought so too. In my mind, this dunk - one worthy of Nike swooping in and allegedly burying the footage (or maybe using it as a commercial) - had to be some nasty John Starks over MJ type stuff. Not so much though. Not that Crawford was even trying to make it a big thing, he just had an open lane and finished strong. When he dunked it, LeBron just happened to be sliding over to the area. Which begs the question of the day? WTF? Why did this tape not make it to the web immediately? Did LeBron really direct Nike to pull it? I am going to say that there is no way he did, and then cover my ears for the next week until this story goes away. If it was pulled, it had to be some up and coming renegade Nike staffer that pulled the tape on his own, unbenownst to, and without the knowledge of, LeBron James in a feeble attempt to get into his good graces. I hope. Props to Crawford though, he had to pull a lot of tail on this story.
Click here to see the Jordan Crawford - LeBron James Dunk at EBaumnation.com. The dunk is at the 33 second mark.
When a 4th grade student is in science class, and they don't know the answer to the teacher's question, they'll slump down in their chair, avoid eye contact, and do everything possible to not to be called on. If Shaq were in 4th grade, he'd be the equivalent to the 4th grader with his hand up in the air, jumping out of his desk.
Whether its by tweeting his way into the news, offering dance tributes to Michael Jackson, signing basketballs in China for earthquake victims , or now stepping to the plate to outslug Albert Pujols in ABC's new reality show - Shaq Versus- the Big Fella is doing everything he can to make sure that everyone's paying attention when the Cavaliers call on him to answer this question next season: Does Shaq have anything left in those size 22's?
At age 37, the NBA's age equivalent to Tom Watson, there are a lot of people who say no. But the ex-Shaqtus sure seems motivated to at least make sure that as many people as possible are watching him when exam time comes around. Looks like he might think he's got plenty left in the tank. Would he be generating all this attention - even for Shaq - if he thought he didn't? In a way, by squaring off against the greats from other sports - in their respective primes -he is almost throwing his hand in the air to say that he still is a great in his sport...and even if he's just thinking that at this point, you have to be encouraged as a Cavaliers' fan.
Whatever the motivation is, whether its to cement his legacy, be the first in the Kobe-Shaq saga to five titles, or to win a ring for the King, a motivated Shaq might just be the missing piece for Cleveland. Even if you think Shaq's a far cry from his days as the MDE, if he's motivated, there is no arguing that he is at least amongst the most dominant big men in the league - even still. Now just hope he doesn't throw out his shoulder doing the butterfly verse Mike Phelps.
If Miami fails to match the offer sheet extended by the Cavaliers for restricted free agent Jamario Moon, the 6'8" Forward will be trading in South Beach for Tremont next season. Danny Ferry is looking more and more like the hardest working exec in the NBA, and landing Moon at this price would be another nice get for his club. There is no doubt that Moon would add length and athleticism on the perimeter, as well as legit ability off bench. More on the proposed deal below:
"It's believed that the Cavs were hooked on Moon's ability to guard mobile forwards after their struggles to contain Hedo Turkoglu and Rasard Lewis in the Eastern Conference finals against Orlando...Moon, 29, is a 6-foot-8 late bloomer with career averages of 7.8 points and 5.4 rebounds since breaking into the NBA with the Toronto Raptors in 2007-08. Miami acquired him in February in the Shawn Marion - Jermaine O'Neal trade."
"The Cavs have about $3.2 million left of their mid-level exception that they can use in whole or part or their full $2 million bi-annual exception to sign Moon. Offer sheets must be at least two years in length, though not both years must be guaranteed."
I wanted to thank Rick over at Waiting For Next Year for putting together the Cleveland Sports Blog Network outing last night at the Akron Aero's Canal Park. It was a good time, and despite the fact that (3) Aero's All Stars were still jet-lagged from the weekend, and subsequently scratched from the line-up, there were about (27) total runs scored during the first three innings. On a Thirsty Thursday ($1 beers during innings one through three), that's a good thing. I also wanted to add that it was great meeting, and talking with Scott and Craig (WFNY), as well as Vince from Cleveland Scene's ‘64 and Counting, Don Delco from NoLogoNeeded, and the entire crew from Cleveland Frowns. I hope to do more of this in the future, thanks for the invite fellas!
There are a lot of Cavs fans that don't like Yahoo Sports Columnist Adrian Wojarnowski. Long story. However, he wrote my favorite sports book of all time, and therefore I do (Miracle of St. Anthony). To that point, I believe what he writes has merit. However, I hope the following is not true:
“ ...the Heat are working furiously to deliver Lamar Odom and Carlos Boozer to the shores of Biscayne Bay. The Heat are trying to sell Odom on a five-year, $34 million contract at the mid-level exception, and a league executive with knowledge of the talks says Miami has also hatched a three-way proposal with the Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies to secure Boozer...”
I don't care if the Heat Coach (Eric Spoelstra) just got his senior pictures taken or not, if this move happens, Miami would be a force. Dwayne Wade, Carlos Boozer, Lamar Odom - that's a big three. Throw in Beasley, Daquean Cook, and some of their other young talent and lookout.
If this deal happened it would be an unkind of irony of sorts for LeBron too. Wade gets to play with Shaq closer to Shaq's prime, and LeBron plays with Shaq when he's 37. Then Wade gets to play with Boozer in Boozer's prime, when James played with him as a 2nd year, 2nd round pick, trying to make his way in the league.
I hope this doesn't happen.
The Cavaliers announced the signing of 6'6" Guard Anthony Parker on Monday. You knew that. The signing of Parker will certainly add needed size and depth to the Cavaliers' backcourt...you knew that too. You also may have known that he is Candace Parker's brother, played collegiately at Bradley, was drafted 21st overall by the Nets ( '99), played for (5) seasons in Europe, and most recently was a Toronto Raptor for (3) seasons, where he averaged 10.7 points, 4 rebounds, 3.4 assists a season ago.
But did you know he was outscored in the 2005-2006 Euro-League Championship game by ex-Cavalier Trajan Langdon?
Anthony Parker - The European Years:
In the 2005-2006 European League Championship game, Trajan Langdon's CSKA Moscow club beat Anthony Parker's Maccabi Tel-Aviv team 73-69. Trajan went (3) of (6) from deep to finish with (11) - Parker finsihed with (10). In Parker's defense though, he (Parker) was named Euro-League MVP that year - take that Trajan. If you clicked on that link and read the boxscore, you may recognize the names of some of Parker's teammates that season: Maceo Baston (Michigan), Will Solomon (Clemson), and Kirk Penney (Wisconsin) - all have enjoyed an NBA coffee at one time or another.
Maccabi Tel-Aviv did win the Euro-League Title in 2004 - 2005 though, with a 90-78 win over Tau Cermaica. Parker had 13 pts, 6 assists in the contest. Another notable name he played alongside that year was Zydrunas Ilgauskas' BFF Sarunas Jasikevicius (Indiana Pacers). The Tau Cermanica roster included Luis Scola, Jose Calderon, and Tiago Splitter.
The '05 year was the bookend of a back to back title run that started a season prior. In 2003-2004, Maccabi Tel-Aviv beat Skipper Bologna for the title 118-74. Parker turned in a monster game in that one, leading the way with 21 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists. Carlos Delfino had (6) for Skipper Bologna, and Hanno Mottola (Utah) had (7).
In 2002-2003 Parker played for Vitrus Roma, and averaged 14.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, and in 2001-2002 he played for Maccabi Tel-Aviv and averaged 16.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, and won the championship that year as well. In total, Parker averaged roughly (16) points, (5) assists per game for his European career, and won seemingly a bazillion times.
Mike Brown was the NBA's Coach of the Year last season. He won (66) games and went to the Eastern Conference Finals. He has advanced past the first round of the NBA Playoffs in (4) straight seasons. He guided an overachieving team to the NBA Final a few years back, and has since successfully developed a winning culture through the preaching of hardwork and defense. And he's done all this in Cleveland no less - quite rare for this town, at least in the last (44) years it is.
But despite all this, Terry Pluto is exactly right in his latest column: Mike Brown is most definetely on the hot seat.
Although, count me as a guy that thinks Coach Brown will beat the heat. To me, he looks like a coach who seems to get 'better,' as the roster improves.
When the 2007 season began, his starting point guard was named Larry Hughes. His two-guard was Sasha Pavlovic. The Cavaliers' ball movement, flow, and offensive production were absolutely awful. The sports talk phone lines were lit up on the constant with people saying how bad of a coach Mike Brown was. Can't coach offense they'd say. The guy stinks. In retrospect though, can you blame Brown for having to use Larry Hughes as his point guard? Have you ever seen that particular movie end well for another coach? Or should he have played Eric Snow? Maybe Daniel Gibson? When Delonte West came over late in that season, he looked like Chris Paul by comparison, even while playing out of position.
In 2008 Mike Brown's point guard became Mo Williams, and Mo went to the All Star Game. Delonte West played the two, averaged double figures in points, and dished out a handful of assists on a nightly basis. The two guard who got the bulk of the starts from the year before (Sasha)? He was buried at the end of the bench, and is now gone. But critics will have you believe that the reason for the offensive improvement this past season was because Mike Brown realized he knew nothing about offense, handed the offense to John Kuester, and let him call the plays. The offense certainly didn't improve because the personnel was upgraded though, right?
If you want to call it a step forward, Mike Brown will take that in 2009. Why? For the same reason he took one in 2008. The roster's better. Shaq gives him a reason now to throw it inside, and Anthony Parker will help West and Williams a great deal in the backcourt. As for being out coached? He was outcoached in the Magic series. No doubt. But should the Cavaliers roster have really won that match-up anyways? With the emotion aside, and the season in the rear-view, its hard to say the Cavaliers were the better team - outside of LBJ - if you're matching talent for talent. Ask me, Mike Brown could have had the spirit of Red Auerbach himself overtake his body, and he still wouldn't have been able to match-up with Hedo, Rashard or Howard, let alone be able to get the Cavs bench to kick it into Lake Erie successfully, given the roster he took the court with.
Speaking of out-coached, would it be fair to say that Phil Jackson was out coached when the Yao-less Rockets team took his Lakers to (7) games in the Houston series? I'd say he was, that should have been over in (4). But Phil moved on because his players were better. And next year, Brown will move on too, for the same reason, despite the heat that's sure to come.
The opinion of many is that the dunk heard 'round the web will remain unseen for years to come - burned, locked up, buried at the bottom of the Atlantic, whatever. But since everyone's allowed their own opinion, I have one too: this footage will soon be used by Nike - and LeBron - in a commercial campaign that will prove to be James' most powerful pitch to date.
To me, there are just too many ways that Nike can go with this for it to be simply dismissed. The rationale behind this thought was laid out in my latest post for Midwest Sports Fans, which went up today.
An excerpt is below - click here for the complete post:
"In a ‘Be Like Mike’ motif, Nike could say that if you wear LBJ’s – like Jordan Crawford – even you can run faster, jump higher, and dunk harder than LeBron James himself. Imagine the anticipation towards such a campaign if its the first time this dunk is aired. Might not be as powerful if it was on You Tube for months prior."
If LeBron did systematically maneuver to have these tapes destroyed, then in this case, as Denny Green says, 'he was what we thought he was.' No doubt, that in this instance, it certainly would be a bit lame of the King to hide from the fact that a kid named Jordan Crawford got the better of him in a meaningless pick-up game - one in which James was probably playing in at half speed. However, I don't see it.
To me, James' track record more than indicates his ability to poke fun at himself publicly, and even capitalize on it. In Nike's LeBrons series he referenced his inability, up to that point, to get past Detroit. In the Puppets commercial, the Kobe likeness repeatedly asks LeBron if he's seen his championship rings (a ring LeBron is yet to be sized for). And at the ESPYs, well, he did dress up like MC Hammer, and perform the song My LeBrogative. If there was a tape meant to be burned, I think it would have been that one.
If Dunktapegate does end up in a commercial, not only would I be right, but so would LeBron. It would be more of the same from him too: humble, funny, entertaining, and must watch television.
Click below to see the You Tube clips reference above: