Tag Archives: NBA

NBA: Was Phil Jackson Wrong?

They call him The Zen Master, a man who uses holistic approaches to coaching influenced by Eastern philosophy. Phil Jackson has been called many things, but controversial is hardly one of them. Jackson recently went on “The Waddle & Silvy Show”on ESPN 1000 in Chicago and said, “The scenario that sits kind of behind the scene, is that eventually these guys that were recruited — [Chris] Bosh and [LeBron] James — by [team president] Pat Riley and Micky Arison, the owner, are going to come in and say, ‘We feel you [Riley] can do a better job coaching the team. We came here on the hopes that this would work,’ and whatever, I don’t know. That’s kind of my take on it, is that eventually if things don’t straighten out here soon, it could be the Van Gundy thing all over again.” This raised a lot of eyebrows in the media and many people questioned the 11-time NBA champion’s remarks. I decided to write about this after listening to Jeff Van Gundy ramble on and on about it during ESPN’s broadcast of the Heat-Magic game on the 24th.

Was Phil Jackson wrong in his remarks? No, absolutely not. I completely agree with what he said. Remember, this same kind of situation happened in 2006 when Riley fired then-coach Stan Van Gundy for his struggles with Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal. What happened when Riley took over as coach? They won a championship. How is this situation any different? Let me tell you.

That 2006 Heat team is much better than the 2010 version. Why? Because they had an inside game. What’d Chris Bosh say when he was deciding on where he would sign? He didn’t want to be an undersized center. What is he in Miami? An undersized center. You may be saying to yourself, “Christian, he doesn’t play center in Miami. They have Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Erik Dampier and Joel Anthony.” Yes, they do. Clearly the cream of the crop. They simply don’t match up against the likes of Dwight Howard or Kevin Garnett. I’ll go ahead and be so bold as to say they don’t even match up well against Shaq, Anderson Varejao or Brook Lopez.

Now I’m not going to say that the Heat aren’t one of the most talented teams in the league. On paper, they are. You can’t argue with the raw talent of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, you just can’t. The team is not built to play inside and that’s always been a huge part of the game. Think about it – Kobe didn’t get his respect until he won without Shaq. The Spurs have won with Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. The Pistons – Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace and Chauncey Billups. The Celtics with Rajon Rondo and the Big Three. If you want to win, you have to have talent at every position. People will say that Phil Jackson won with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen only, but people forget about how good Steve Kerr was running the point and that solid inside game.

Back to the original point. Is Erik Spoelstra the guy who should be coaching the Heat? In my opinion, no. What has the guy done in his career? Nothing. And even with the most talent on any roster, the team is struggling to get wins. On the night of the 24th, they were coming off of back-to-back losses to the Memphis Grizzlies and the Indiana Pacers. Now, a change of coach isn’t going to suddenly make the centers on the Heat roster suddenly be able to match up to the better post players in the Eastern Conference. It certainly will help, though, to have a proven winner on the bench, a guy who instantly commands respect. So no, Phil Jackson, you were not wrong. You were completely within your rights to say what you did and I will not be surprised if Pat Riley fires Spoelstra in the middle of the season to retake his spot on the bench.

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What Should LeBron Do?… Part 1

On the eve of the 2010-11 NBA Season, LeBron James asked the whole world a simple, yet unbelievably powerful question. One that on July 7, 2010, we all had a separate answer for.

“What should I do?”

“What should I do?”

The most talked about athlete in the world pondered this in his new Nike commercial which launched one day before the NBA’s Regular Season schedule started and James takes on the defending Eastern Conference Champions, the Boston Celtics, (the same team who knocked his old squad, the Cleveland Cavaliers, out of the playoffs last year) with his new super team, the Miami Heat. As if the entire world wasn’t pumped enough to see LeBron take the floor with his new teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, now, he and Nike add to the festivities by releasing their new ad for the two-time reigning MVP. And does Nike deliver once again or what.

In all, the man many of us used to call “King James” asks us 27 questions, seven of which where he restates, “What should I do”.  So if LeBron’s got all of these questions, then I think it’s only right I give him some answers.

QUESTION 1: “WHAT SHOULD I DO?”

Nike doesn’t shy away from the controversial “The Decision” event where LeBron announced he was going to “Take my talents to South Beach” (Except for when you remember Nike, being the advertising geniuses they are, stayed far away from sponsoring LeBron’s hour long announcement, knowing it would be the image train wreck it became and not mentioning it at all with regards to James from July 8 till now) as the intro shot shows LeBron in the same clothes he wore that fateful day, looking like he’s got, oh I’d say a little on his mind. As he stares at the ground he asks, “What should I do?” We’ll get to that question a little later.

QUESTION 2: “SHOULD I ADMIT THAT I’VE MADE MISTAKES?”

We’ll to be honest LeBron, this question could mean a lot of things. Everyone makes mistakes. If you’re talking about forgetting to cover your mouth after sneezing or not sending your friend a birthday card, then no don’t worry about that. But, if you now think it was a mistake to go on national television to embarrass your former team, city, and fans by not even giving them the common courtesy to know you were leaving them all behind… then yeah, maybe you should admit you’ve made mistakes.

QUESTION 3: “SHOULD I REMIND YOU THAT I’VE DONE THIS BEFORE?”

Yes you should LeBron. As the commercial focuses in on a younger LeBron, posing as a high schooler at St. Vincent St. Mary’s, we remember that James has been hounded by the media and holding his own in gigantic press conferences since the days where kids couldn’t even get through giving an oral presentation to a class without passing out. The guy does a pretty good job of handling the best reporters can throw at him and I think some of us forget that not many other players in sports history could’ve pulled off an hour long extravaganza about which team they would play for.

QUESTION 4: “SHOULD I GIVE YOU A HISTORY LESSION?”

This time, Little LeBron asks this question as, in my opinion, James is trying to show us that his High School self is more than happy to take us back to that 1999-2003 period and have us look at a day in his life. I’m sure many of us would crack under the pressure this kid felt; the life of a basketball prodigy can’t be an easy one. Sure, the Hummer and nationally televised games sounds fun, but how’s life for Lenny Cooke going nowadays.

QUESTION 5: “WHAT SHOULD I DO?”

Once again, we’ll get back to this one later.

QUESTION 6: “SHOULD I TELL YOU HOW MUCH FUN WE HAD?”

This question isn’t for all of us, as LeBron takes five of the 92 seconds in the commercial to address his former team, his former city, and his former fans and offer an olive branch to them by saying this question above. Well, let me do all of Cleveland a favor and just answer this for them, considering I probably know what they’re thinking (but without the expletives and all).

LeBron, no one in Cleveland can deny it wasn’t fun to see you play every night at “The Q”. You brought a team once considered a joke of an organization into a class they would have never been able to reach without you. It was all fun. The handshakes with your teammates, the jaw dropping dunks… it was all fun to watch.  But it wasn’t supposed to just be about fun. You were supposed to bring the city a winner for the first time in 50 years. You were the hope that Cleveland didn’t just want, but needed. You didn’t win here and the way you left wasn’t really, as you described, “fun” for Cavs fans.  So as you drive away from Cleveland in the commercial and your “Witnesses” banner falls to the ground, just know that the fun you all had won’t be the first thing to come to Clevelanders mind’s when they think of you for a while.

Now, that paragraph clearly doesn’t do Clevelander’s justice in my opinion, so I went to “One on One Sports” own residential NBA expert and Cleveland’s own, Billy O’Riordan and asked what he thought of this statement. This was all he could say:

“All that we will remember is that he promised us a ring. He promised us a ring and he didn’t deliver one. All that “fun” was forgotten the day you left and it’s going to take a whole lot of time before we can forgive you.”

QUESTION 7: “SHOULD I REALLY BELIEVE I RUINED MY LEGACY?”

Not at all, LeBron. Not at all. In fact, I think you’ve bettered your legacy with your move to South Beach.

Now, me back in July would have read that statement and thought I was a crazy person. Because let’s face it, what has everyone said about James ever since he chose to play with Wade and Bosh in Miami.

From the some of the very best to play the game (Charles Barkley), to the fans who used to cheer him every single night (Cavs fans who burned his jersey),to the fans of the teams who wanted, but didn’t land, their King (Knicks fans), to his childhood hero himself (Michael Jordan), everyone has discredited LeBron for choosing to play with the most talented team he could be apart of that gave him the best chance to win.

But you know what, LeBron’s legacy shouldn’t change much with this move to Miami. Since even before he got into the NBA, he has heard every day the comparisons to the one and only Michael Jordan. While wearing #23 doesn’t help his cause, there’s a reason that when people talk about Michael, they say the words “THE ONE AND ONLY”! And even still, the majority of the basketball viewing public refuses to give up their search for the next MJ. Enter LeBron.

So say he sticks around in Cleveland and continues to put up out of this world numbers, carrying mediocre team after mediocre team for as long as he can. What if he doesn’t win a title with the Cavs? What if Dan Gilbert simply is unable to get LeBron one talented player to play with at all? I mean, it’s not like the Cavs ever gave him a big push from a teammate. Look at the best players they brought in to “help” the King win a ring. Let’s do a lineup to see how good they would’ve been together as a team, shall we?

PG- Mo Williams            (Played 2008-’09- 2009-’10, 16.8 PPG, 4.7 AST)

SG- Larry Hughes            (Played 2005-’06- 2007-’08, 13.7 PPG, 1.5 STL)

SF- Pointless since LeBron would play here

PF- Antawn Jamison            (Played 2009-’10, 15.8 PPG, 7.7 REB)

C- Shaquille O’Neal            (Played 2009-’10, 12.0 PPG, 6.7 REB)

Nothing really saying “Championship Caliber Sidekick” here, is there?

So if things stay the course, what does the world think about a ringless LeBron when his window of opportunity is up? What does LeBron think when he keeps hearing his doubters say… “He should’ve left when he had the chance”. Heck, what does Cleveland think of a ringless LeBron? Clearly wasn’t the savior they signed up for. Would his legacy be ruined then as well?

But this isn’t the legacy we’re talking about, is it? Like I mentioned a couple paragraphs ago, this was supposed to be the guy who was the next MJ. The one who was supposed to have at least one title right now. The one who should want to beat all 29 other teams with him being the go to guy on his squad. The one who was supposed to strike fear into the hearts of his defenders with the shot clock off in a one-point game. The one who was going to be the most talented, cockiest winner of our generation. Well sorry folks but that’s how we describe Michael Jordan, and all you can call LeBron right now is talented and cocky.

So no, WE wanted LeBron to become the next MJ. WE shaped him to be the second coming of “His Airness”, and that’s not fair for anyone, not LeBron, not Kobe, not Durant, Wade… the list goes on and on.

LeBron has the capabilities to build an amazing legacy to leave behind in South Beach with this team he has. He can become the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double. He could win another couple of MVP’s. He can win as many titles as this Heat team possibly can, because let’s face it, as long as LeBron and Wade (and I guess Bosh, still a great player, but has been overhyped this entire offseason) are together, they will always contend. It’s not LeBron’s fault after all that MJ got Scottie Pippen, Bird got Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish, and Dennis Johnson, and Magic got Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy. But hey, the fact that Mo Williams and Zydrunas Ilgauskas were the best players you had on your team seven years in the league just sounds oh so appealing.

So haters, stop saying he flushed his legacy down the drain the second he said he was “taking his talents to South Beach”. Because we’ve now only gotten a taste for what LeBron will give us as a pro and he’s on pace with the greatest of all time. Changing teams shouldn’t change the legacy you will leave on the court.

Parts 2 and 3 will be coming shortly. Thanks for reading.

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