WHAT A WEEK, GUYS. NHL and NBA finals, one of those being fun, and one of them being a bit of a snooze. Controversy galore. Hilarious moments. Badass athletes. A crazy contract situation in Cleveland. Let’s get this one going because we have a lot to talk about. We’re going to start with some NBA musings.
Lots of blame to go around in Cleveland
Lebron James is the greatest basketball player in the world, potentially ever. He may be better than Jordan in his prime. I said it, it’s a #HotTake, and I stand by it. That being said, basketball is a team sport, and there’s only so much one superstar can do. Especially when Cleveland is up against arguably the greatest basketball team ever assembled. (More on that in a second.) After Game 1, it was easy to place all the blame squarely on everyone in Cleveland not named Lebron James. Here are some images and videos to highlight my point
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That last one is in reaction to the refs overturning of the Kevin Durant charge that was 100% a charge. In other words, Lebron can’t catch a break and everyone in Cleveland was trying to take that game from him. Here’s where I run into troubles, though. After the game, Lebron was (justifiably) frustrated. He punched a white board in that frustration. As we learned after the four game sweep of Cleveland, he significantly injured his hand in that moment. Now look, in Games 2-4, James averaged 28.3 points, 10.7 assists, and 8.7 rebounds. That’s not nothing. In Game 1 he scored 51 points, 8 assists, and 8 rebounds. 51 points is an outlier, even for King James, but the reduction is not nothing. Game 2 his ball handling skills were noticeably reduced.
I guess my point is this: after that game, Lebron James had every right in the world to be frustrated beyond compare with his teammates. He’s playing with a Cleveland team of far lesser talent than he is, and he dragged that team kicking and screaming into the playoffs. But no matter how much SNL makes fun of them, there are other players on the Cavaliers, and they look to Lebron as their leader. So if Game 1’s loss can be attributed to everyone but King James, can Games 2-4 fall squarely on his shoulders? He let the emotions get the best of him, and he significantly hurt his team’s chances by hurting himself.
Turf Writers thoughts on the above
Matt DaSilva had a great writeup on what I just said above, and rather than grab a snippet of it, I wanted to share it with you in full:
The LeBron hand injury is shocking to me. Incredibly out of character for him to lose his cool in a self and team-detrimental way. Aside from the way he handled THE DECISION in 2010, I feel like he’s had a pretty unimpeachable career in terms of how he comports himself with the media, fans, etc. Yes he complains to the refs, which is annoying. And sure if you want you can have some qualms about how he’s handled high pressure situations – passing instead of shooting in key situations is a complaint you’ll hear a lot. But all and all, LBJ puts his team in a position to succeed, shows up EVERY DAY, and handles himself as professionally as anyone in professional sports.
For him to injure his hand in a moment of frustration is so beyond what I’ve come to expect from LeBron. In a way, it’s almost refreshing. Watching at home, I was incredulous when JR rebounded the ball and ran down the court in the other direction like a damn 7 year old who didn’t know which basket he was supposed to shoot at. It was obviously one of those soul-crushing moments that not only killed the Cavs’ chance in Game 1, but effectively ended the series. Everyone felt that.
You might assume the entire team felt that, but so rarely in professional sports do you have true moments of honesty; moments when a player will admit that their team is approaching a game differently based on the opponent, or instances where their emotion is impossible to hide.
Though it sucks that his frustration manifested itself in a way that hurt his team, it sorta feels nice to know that LeBron felt the same frustration I felt while watching. Through some unfortunate calls and one unforgivable boneheaded play, they squandered a win. LBJ knew, and for once, he let it get the best of him.
Jamie Amos responded and summed this all up extremely nicely.
Learning about his injury made him human to me. I’m a LeBron stan for sure and am constantly amazed at him and what he does on the court, I agree that it’s kind of refreshing. V[ery] interested to see where he’s off to.
Are the Golden State Warriors the best team of all time?
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Jordan’s Bulls, Magic’s Lakers, Bird’s Celtics, Wilt’s Lakers, Isiah’s Pistons, Julius’ 76ers. These are some of the teams I put in the running for greatest NBA teams of all time. Maybe adding Duncan’s Spurs, or Robertson’s Bucks to the list as well. In each of those cases, you had teams with a run of dominance usually led by one player surrounded by some of the most incredible supporting casts ever assembled. After winning three of the last four NBA Finals, where do the Golden State Warriors stack up? My answer? I have no idea.
You see in this situation, I can’t say they’re Curry’s Warriors, or Durant’s Warriors, or even Klay’s Warriors. So many players on this team could hold down a team on their own. This is a dynasty team that is better all around than any of the above comparisons, and they’re not afraid of getting better. Name me a team with better shooting from all five positions on the court. I don’t think you can do it. We can talk comparisons, but this team is full of all star scorers who play together beautifully, and I don’t think it’s hard to ask if we’ll see it again anytime soon. This is the dominance at the level of the Michael Jordan Bulls in the 90s. The difference is with that team there was a clear superstar. Here we have a clear superteam.
From Turf Writer Andrew Wilhelm: If I see one more “NBA fan” bemoan the Warriors win another title because it’s boring or predictable I’m going to lose it. This could easily be one of the All Time Great teams. On par with Jordan’s Bulls, The Showtime Lakers, and if the cards play out maybe even Russel’s Celtics. I’m okay with people being salty that the teams they’re a fan off can’t do anything to stop them, but to say you’re going to stop watching basketball because the same team keeps winning just means you aren’t a fan of the game in the first place.
Where’s Lebron Going?
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He can’t stay in Cleveland. If we were unsure of his departure before, Game 1 showed us that Lebron has to go. Lebron, obviously, didn’t say he was leaving outright, he said he has his family to consider, and I respect that. I can’t imagine, however, arguably the greatest player to ever grace the game sticking with a team that so clearly flushed its future down the toilet. So then, where do I think he’s going to go? Maybe Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz give some ideas.
Spotted in Cleveland to do some recruiting perhaps? 🤔
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) June 9, 2018
— Zach Ertz (@ZERTZ_86) June 9, 2018
Can you imagine Lebron James leaving Cleveland and going to the Philadelphia 76ers? My brain is exploding at the thought of Joel “The Process” Embiid and Ben Simmons getting to grow into their own under the tutelage of someone like James. The 76ers were the breakout stars of this season, and Colangelo controversy aside, are poised to make huge waves next year. If the 76ers want to prove that they’re here to win it, they need to reinstate Sam Hinkie as the GM, and bring King James to Philly. That would be the greatest move potentially in off-season history. There have been rumors tying James to Houston or Los Angeles, and for sure seeing Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma share the court with Lebron is an exciting thought. But Philly? Get it done.
Ovechkin finally gets it done
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I’m so goddamned happy that Alexander Ovechkin won the Stanley Cup. No, not the Washington Capitals, they’re fine. But Ovechkin? He deserves it. This Stanley Cup finals was one for the record books, what with two teams with the opportunity to win their first Cup, one of them in their first year of existence. I wanted the Golden Knights to win so that Fleury could rub it in the Penguins’ faces, and I wanted the Caps to win for Ovechkin. There really was no chance of my feeling like a loser out of this series.
I watched the Nationals game yesterday on TV. Man, the Caps were far too drunk to be allowed to be interviewed. But who doesn’t love it anyways?
This is the best interview of 2018.@masnKolko asks Ovi what it's like to be in front of this many D.C. sports fans after winning the Stanley Cup.
He and his teammates start singing "We Are The Champions." pic.twitter.com/udAJuOVIZQ
— Jake Russell (@_JakeRussell) June 9, 2018
Turf Writers Andrew O’Neill and Andrew Wilhelm:
AO – I realize that it should be everything that Alex Ovechkin has accomplished in his career that makes me happy to see him finally win a Stanley Cup, but in truth its been seeing hows he acted since he won that really makes me happy he got one. Have you ever seen a guy enjoy it that much?
AW – I so desperately wanted the story of Vegas winning in their first year that I actively rooted against the Caps because I knew if they made the Finals there was no way I wanted Ovi to get that close and not hoist Lord Stanley.
The Kentucky Derby Excitement was Justify-ed
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Justify is your Kentucky Derby winner. Justify won the Triple Crown. This horse has literally never lost, 6-0 in its races. Bob Baffert, the horse’s trainer, has now won the Triple Crown…..twice. The first in 2015 with American Pharaoh, and the second now with Justify. That’s twice in three years. Someone get this man a massive pay raise. Jockey Mike Smith became the oldest Jockey to win the Triple Crown at 52 years old.
If we want to talk about paydays, Justify was purchased for $500,000. The purse for winning the Belmoney was $800,000. In his six race career, Justify has won $3,798,000. Not a half bad return on the investment, there.
Real quick, the second place horse is named Gronkowski, after its New England Patriots Tight End part-owner. The 24-1 shot came out of nowhere to take the podium slot. If you bet on Rob to place, you made yourself a nice chunk of change yesterday. Was that you? Let us know so I can weep that I didn’t join you on that bet.
Tiger or Serena: Who will win again?
Andrew O’Neill posed an interesting question to the Turf Writers:
I stand by my choice, Serena Williams has more wins up her sleeve. Tiger? I think is well into the twilight of his career without a win to come with it. Am I wrong, though? Tweet at us and let us know.Click to Tweet at us who will win againClick To Tweet
Get this girl a Major League Contract
I wanted to end this post with my favorite sports video from the past week. I have another article coming out related to this upcoming, but if you haven’t seen this, you need to. This is some incredible athleticism.