Tag Archives: lebron james

Leicester City: The Greatest Sports Story. Ever.

 

By Nate Flax

As the clock hit the 96th minute of the Tottenham – Chelsea match, the entire soccer world realized that the greatest underdog story in sport history had concluded. After trailing 2-0 at halftime, Chelsea came back to draw with the second place Tottenham Hotspur, thanks to a brilliant 80th minute equalizer by Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. As the final whistle blew to end the heated London Derby, Tottenham’s title hopes were dashed and for the second year in a row, a new Premier League champion was decided at Stamford Bridge. However, this time it wasn’t one of England’s heavyweight contenders, but instead a club that had been written off before the season even started.

Leicester City

Located right in the heart of England, world-famous clubs, always surrounded Leicester with Manchester just to the North and London to the South, but until this year, very few that did not follow the BPL closely even knew a soccer club existed there, even though the team was founded in 1884 (132 years ago). The Leicester City Foxes were simply insignificant, finishing at the bottom of the table the year before and had only received promotion into England’s top league the year before that. They entered the season 5000-1 odds to win the title this year and featured a team that had cost just £80 million to put together (to put in perspective Manchester City spent £80 million on one transfer alone earlier in the year). Billy Beane’s Moneyball scheme wouldn’t stand a chance against this. Other recent previous 5000-1 odds as explained by ESPN’s Paul Carr included 16-year-old Paul Chaplet’s chances at this year’s Masters (where he shot 21 over par and finished dead last) and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ chances to make the playoffs with a month left in the season and their record sitting at 14-35. The odds for Elvis Presley being found alive were also 5000-1.

Being written off before the season even started, Leicester really had no chance of failing any expectations given to them, quite frankly because there were no expectations to start with. But that’s when everything clicked. Led by Riyad Mahrez, Danny Drinkwater, Jamie Vardy, and seasoned manager Claudio Ranieri, the Foxes outdid themselves by continuing to be that pesky opponent that just wouldn’t give up even though they seemingly had no business competing with powerhouses like Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea. Yet somehow, with Chelsea holding Tottenham to a draw, Leicester City sat seven points clear on top of the table with just two games to play, making it impossible for anyone to catch them, and crowning them the kings of England. With the third smallest budget in the Premier League, the Foxes became the first team not named Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, or Chelsea in 21 years to win the title, and just the sixth to win out of 48 that have tried since 1992. After a season that proved that money can’t always guarantee a crown, Leicester City concluded the fairy tale of a season that underdogs could previously only dream of.

LeBron’s Social Media shouldn’t be Media…

By Nate Flax

For the last week or so, the sports world has paid extra close attention to future Hall of Famer, LeBron James. While it’s no surprise that James is once again in the spotlight, the reasoning behind his recent hype is quite frankly ridiculous. After a blowout win against the Denver Nuggets, a reporter, seemingly against all his journalistic instincts, asked LeBron why he had unfollowed the Cleveland Cavaliers’ twitter page to which James replied with a very blunt “Next question.” The brief interview immediately went viral, being broken down by blogs, twitter, and just about every show featured on ESPN. Sure, James’ reaction could have been better and more polite, but did it really deserve a00week-long critique?

Since the infamous decision to return to Cleveland after abandoning the team for the Miami Heat, things have not gone as planned for James and the Cavaliers. His glorified return was spoiled by a loss in the NBA finals to the Golden State Warriors, and the team can’t seem to avoid locker room drama. The twitter fiasco only added to a long line of recent off the court problems for the Cavs, as well as more rumors of another LeBron James departure from Cleveland. James shrugged off the unfollow as simple preparation for the playoffs, an understandable mindset for a man who has made it a mission to bring a championship to his hometown.

It was not as if preparing for the playoffs was not already on James’ mind. A new entrance song as well as a cut down on all social medias were already announced as part of his plans to get set for the postseason. Even if the unfollow spree the superstar went on that week was not about prepping for the post season, it doesn’t really matter who he follows. As Sporting New’s Jordan Greer put it, “LeBron follows Victor Cruz, so is he going to play for the Giants? He also follows Bun B. Time to start that rap career. Or maybe James doesn’t need to follow the Cavs on Twitter because, you know, he’s physically there with his squad. It’s not necessary to receive your news and updates online when you can just say “Hey, Kyrie, are you going to play tonight?”

Though the Cavs are probably the lone bright spot in Cleveland sports, its ridiculous to blow such a minor, non-basketball issue, into a week-long drama show. Let the man do his job and be the brilliant basketball player he is without over analyzing every off the court action he makes and appreciate the greatness without creating a story where there isn’t one.

Kevin Love Rocks Cleveland Indians Hat in Hospital

Kevin Love

By Matt Stevenson

April 30, 2015

Game 4 of the Cavaliers-Celtics series ended in a sweep, but Cavaliers fans lost more than they won. 3 time All-Star Kevin Love dislocated his shoulder after getting tangled up with Celtics Kelly Olynyk and will miss 4-6 months after a successful surgery and, more importantly, the rest of the playoffs.

Much debate has been brought up amid the injury if Love, who has a player option with the Cavaliers, can opt-out of his current contract and become a free agent. 3 years of trade rumors when Love was on the Minnesota Timberwolves were consistently held up due to the lack of commitment teams were getting on Love resigning with any team he could be traded to.

The price to trade for Kevin Love was simply too high with no guarantee he would stick around for the long haul.

The Cavaliers ended up trading the 2014-2015 first overall pick, Andrew Wiggins, in a package with other first rounders and even the 2013-2014 first overall pick, Anthony Bennet, for Love. The Cavaliers executed the trade with a firm belief that Kevin Love would opt-out of his contract upon the end of this season, only to resign with Cleveland for a 5 year maximum contract worth about $120 million dollars.

The regular season had its ups and downs, but nobody received more criticism than Love. It was a daily topic on any media outlet whether it was ESPN, Bleacher Report, or even the local Cleveland news stations (and Minnesota’s as well I’m sure).

Kevin Love was left out of LeBron James’ Instagram photos, he was called out publicly by LeBron on Twitter claiming he needs to “Fit-In” and him clearly not having the same chemistry as the rest of the team on or off the court.

Kevin Love had the roughest season out of ANY player in the NBA this season in regards to the criticism from the media.

The reports of him leaving Cleveland because he doesn’t want to retain the lesser role, in which he currently does with the Cavaliers, is a legitimate argument. In the next round if the Cavaliers don’t do well, will Kevin Love be motivated to burn the Cavaliers? As the fans and organization would learn his worth through a devastating playoff exit, he might feel even more offended and motivated to leave Cleveland.

But then the morning after his surgery, Kevin Love posted a simple picture on Instagram, the same app that has been used to exclude him from the Cavaliers. It’s a picture of him giving a thumbs up with an enormous smile on his face. The reason the photo is important is because he is wearing a Cleveland Indians hat.

This is not just a hat. It’s a symbol. Kevin Love is thanking the Cleveland fans for the love and support we’ve given him through the awful injury he endured. I believe this is a message to the fans of Cleveland that he is, indeed, staying put in Cleveland for years to come.

2015 NBA First-Round Playoff Preview

2015NBAbracket1stround

By Matt Stevenson

April 18, 2015

Although I say this every year, I AM BEYOND EXCITED FOR THE 2015 NBA PLAYOFFS! The amount of legitimate contenders this year has separated this year’s playoffs from the rest, and significantly so.

The Eastern Conference finally has several power houses that can make the first two-rounds somewhat interesting for the first time since Boston’s Big Three left. Then, of course, we have the usual for the Western Conference. This conference is once again more loaded than your Aunt Ruth’s potatoes! A Clippers-Spurs first round match as well as Mavericks-Rockets is awesome.

I think three questions are critical to answer for the Eastern Conference: Can LeBron and the Cavaliers continue their dominance? Can Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler coincide for a deep playoff run? Will the Atlanta Hawks prove to be a real threat to the future of the Eastern Conference?

In the first round I think the two-seeded Cavaliers win every single positional battle and will breeze through Boston, although I think Boston will take one game, Cavs in 5. The Atlanta Hawks earned the first seed with an incredible display of teamwork in the regular season, also breaking the franchise record with over 60 wins. The obliterated the Brooklyn Nets in the season series 4-0 and I expect nothing less. Although I’m a huge Joe Johnson fan, and Brook Lopez is playing the best basketball he has since he got paid, Atlanta has everything going for them. Hawks 4-0. Boy, what if we would’ve seen a Pacers-Hawks first-round matchup though? Last year’s 1 vs 8 seed went to 7 games between the two and was great basketball.

Raptors against the Wizards is an interesting matchup, as both have more of the “complete team” philosophy. However, the Wizards just haven’t been able to click the way thought they could while the Raptors are playing tough basketball. Kyle Lowry is proving his max contract worth this season when healthy. I thought them nabbing Paul Pierce really could make them threats to any team in the East. Raptors in 6. The last first round matchup in the East is the Bulls vs Bucks. This series is simple for me, Jason Kidd has proved to be a good coach willing to get to players. But without significant depth like the Bulls have (not to mention they have experience as well) the Bucks won’t last. Derrick Rose will get the go to be himself again I think and create a spotlight on the Bulls as reporters will start to get nutty with the idea of a Cavs-Bulls second round matchup. Bulls in 4.

So in the Eastern Conference we have a second round matchup between Chicago and Cleveland and Toronto and Atlanta as most expected. I predict the Cavaliers will prevail in this conference as LeBron, Kyrie and K-Love will prove to be too much to handle for the rest of the field.

Now the fun part, attempting to dissect the Western Conference. This is much like March Madness as it might be easier to decipher my picks by flipping a coin, but I will indeed choose off my knowledge of the game. I see only one matchup that will be done in 4 and that is the Warriors vs Pelicans. I love love LOVE Anthony Davis, but he’s going up against the most dangerous shooting team in NBA history. But this shooting team can also beat them in every other way because they can stick David Lee, Draymond Green or Andrew Bogut on Davis. Warriors in 4. Grizzlies vs LaMarcus Aldridge’s Blazers can be a great series, however I think it will be done quickly. No Wesley Matthews or Batum for the Blazers therefor relying on who? Alonzo Gee… LaMarcus Aldridge is one of my favorite players in the league but him and Lillard can’t get it done by themselves against an experienced Grizzlies team. Memphis in 5.

Now my two favorite matchups in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The Houston Rockets taking on rival Dallas Mavericks is an exceptionally great first rounder to watch. The Rockets won the season series 3-1, but I have a bad feeling about this. There is one key factor in this series, Rajon Rondo. If Rondo can finally mesh with the Mavs (which he hasn’t so far) they have the best starting line up top to bottom. But of course, what about James Harden? He is my pick for MVP and with Dwight Howard they are a scary team. But they don’t have the guards to defend Dallas’. Scoring won’t be a problem for Harden, as it never is. But I think Dirk Nowitzki has a favorable matchup, as does Rondo. Oh yes, Chandler Parsons who darted Houston for Dallas last summer is going to show his previous franchise why they should have paid him. With two great guards in Monte Ellis and Rondo and the absence of lock down defender Patrick Beverly, I’ll take the Mavs in 7.

Perhaps the most exciting first round matchup in NBA history in my opinion, the young and freakishly athletic Clippers host the defending Champion Spurs. Chris Paul said last week, the window is closing for the Clippers to figure it out and he is salivating for that trophy. I think he gives the Spurs problems and will make Tony Parker go to work. Griffin and Jordan pose threats to the Spurs as well and I think they will do a surprisingly good job defending Duncan. But the X Factor is Kawhi Leonard will come through. JJ Reddick and Jamal Crawford aren’t going to stop him, and Matt Barnes is too old to play significant minutes against Leonard. He’s in a contract year, and the Spurs know Duncan and Ginobili may very well retire this season. Pop and the Spurs get it done, in miserable fashion,  by a series at 4-2.

So in the Western Conference we look forward to a Warriors vs Grizzlies and Spurs vs Mavericks. Talk about great basketball. However, in this conference I pick the Warriors to head to the NBA Finals. Although I am a firm believer in the philosophy that just shooting doesn’t win championships, the Warriors are young, fresh and healthy. In which is the Spurs’ weak point because I don’t see the Spurs having the guards to defend the Splash Brothers along with the athletic Livingston off the bench.

So Cavs and Warriors in the NBA Finals and as a Cleveland fan I’m going Cavs. The time has come and it’ll be a great year for Cleveland. The NBA playoffs are finally among us, and they are going to generate much excitement across the sports world. The first round has incredible potential regarding match ups and it will spark the greatness to follow.

NBA MVP Race During the Final Stretch

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By Matt Stevenson

April 6, 2015

The NBA MVP race is coming down to the wire with a 5-star cast. LeBron James, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Steph Curry are all playing at a phenomenal rate as the season winds down.

Harden and Westbrook both have led their teams despite losing valuable teammates such as Dwight Howard for Harden, and Kevin Durant for Westbrook. LeBron James showed his worth during his 2 week break as the Cavs went 1-7 during that stretch and have looked damn near flawless since. Then, of course, there is Steph Curry who seems as if he’s making memes out of everyone he faces up against. All 4 are having incredible seasons and it is difficult to pick and choose only one player in such a competitive season.

For Steph Curry, his Golden State Warriors currently possess the 1st seed in the Western Conference and also hold the NBA’s best record at 62-13, 6 games ahead of the next best record held by the Atlanta Hawks. Shooting nearly 44% from 3 point range and 59% from the field, Curry is in the top 5 for each respective category.

The super splash brothers have been a force to be reckoned with, but that’s what many are holding against Steph Curry.

Curry has an unbelievable amount of talent around him, arguably the best surrounding crew in the whole NBA. Kay Thompson and Draymond Green are both deserving of max contracts while David Lee, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut are no scrubs either. This team has big time players with experience and is a dangerous team to face down the stretch.

So Curry might have easily had the best season with team success as well as individual success, but the talent around him may end up hurting him in the end.

Next lets talk about the king himself, LeBron James. As mentioned earlier we noticed how awful the Cavaliers played when LeBron was out for his two-week break and how good they were when he returned. Arguably the most dangerous team in the league, the Cleveland Cavaliers have successfully defied the laws of throwing together a new team and staff while actually winning.

It doesn’t happen often. Steve Kerr of the Warriors is a rookie coach as well, however he went into a system under previous Golden State Coach Mark Jackson that had the same players with great team chemistry. This Cavs team has a rookie Head Coach in David Blatt, except he doesn’t know the NBA like Kerr does. Oh, and only 3 players from last years team are even on the current roster.

However, there are some scratches on the surface to LeBron’s MVP case. Similar to Curry, LeBron has a gifted roster full of talent and potential. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love obviously are two of the top players in the league, despite the disappointing season of Love. JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson are also worthy of mentioning as the great talent this Cavs team holds. Finally buying into David Blatt’s system, this Cavs team truly is a Championship contender and may even be the favorite.

In Houston all I hear is “Fear the Beard” from the Rockets fans. This man has really put the pressure on Oklahoma City to win soon as they traded possibly the best scorer in the league. His versatility is hard to compare as he is not afraid to take a shot on any part of the court. It seems like he has a 40-point game each week and his team currently holds the 2 seed in the brutal Western Conference.

Oh yeah, by the way this is without All-Star Center Dwight Howard and starting Point Guard Patrick Beverly. An injury plagued roster and losing the 3rd counterpart in Chandler Parsons from last season would assembly doom this Houston Rockets team, similar to how the Thunder currently hurt. Except Hardens Rockets are winning. Consistently winning despite the injuries are something all other MVP candidates can’t compete with.

But wait, Russell Westbrook is on a more injury prone team with last years NBA MVP, Kevin Durant, out for the season along with injuries to pretty much half of the roster. Although true, there is one big difference between Harden and Westbrook… Harden is sitting in the 2 spot in the West while Westbrook and the Thunder and fighting for their playoff lives. 11 triple-doubles by Westbrook is as incredible as it gets on an individual standpoint, however they aren’t always getting his team wins.

There have been point guards, recently and in past-time that have put up similar numbers yet still won. Jason Kidd did it in New Jersey in the early 2000’s while the big “O” Oscar Robinson did it as well back in the old days. If Westbrook and his Thunder don’t make the playoffs, it’s hard to even mention him in the discussion.

After this long post, I think it’s safe for me now to make a decision on my MVP for this season and I’m going to have to go with James Harden. As a biased Cavaliers fan, it hurts to give it to someone else aside LeBron, but Harden hasn’t had the talent LeBron and Curry have all year while still putting up incredible numbers as well as winning. This is no landslide this year and as a matter of fact, this is the tightest MVP race the league has seen in recent time.

This exhilarating MVP race is just the beginning of a post-season in which has me extremely excited due to the amount of legitimate contenders. Of course, the MVP is announced during the playoffs so as this exciting season winds down we look forward to the NBA playoffs. James Harden gets my vote, but it will definitely be a close one.

Wake Up!…It’s Westbrook Time

By Kaleb Page

March 10, 2015

In the greatest basketball league on the planet (the NBA) nightly you can be amazed by the talent on the floor. Whether you tune in to the Houston Rockets and watch James Harden, Cleveland with the three-headed monster of Love, Irving and James or in a small market like Milwaukee  where “The Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo  puts on a show.

While the league has many great players, the premium players are starting to make the push for the most valuable player trophy. Now I bet there are those out there acting like the funny vine saying that the only person for the MVP is LeBron James, LeBron James, LeBron James, LeBron James and LeBron James.

Yes I know James is the best player in the world and should be placed in the discussion for the MVP, but there is one player who has cemented his place in not only the discussion for the MVP but for the upper echelon of stars in the league.

This player is none other than Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook. For years there has been constant debate on whether or not Westbrook can play with Kevin Durant, also whether or not he can be a point guard in the league.

If you watched the video or even remember back a few years, the sentiment shown towards Westbrook was one of doubt towards his ability at the point and with Durant. Even recently there has been the same sentiment to doubt Westbrook on what he brings to the team.

Then came the All-Star Game.

Where Westbrook out-shined the stars on the court (Yes I know it’s a glorified scrimmage) putting up 41 points in 26 minutes; just one point shy of Wilt Chamberlain’s all-time record of 42 points (in 37 mins.).  That performance just rolled over into what has been an amazing start to the second half of the season.

On Wednesday night Westbrook scored 49 points, career-high 16 rebounds and 10 assists for his fourth consecutive triple-double. Four straight triple doubles in the best professional basketball league in the world? Are you kidding me?!

Even though it was against the 76ers, you still better be giving out the love to what Westbrook is doing. Four straight triple doubles hasn’t been done since the great one Michael Jordan did it in 1989.

While Durant has been injured Westbrook has had to hold this team afloat in what is a deadly Western Conference. It still surprises me that Westbrook still is cast aside as the side dish to Durant, and still gets left out of MVP talks.

While there are few people rumbling for Westbrook to get the love; there still isn’t enough talk.

The guy,who plays with controlled chaos and as Stephen A. Smith says is the ‘ultimate assassin,’ needs to be out of the possible talks of the MVP and instead in the for sure talks of MVP.

Right now it’s Westbrook’s world and we just live in it.

King James isn’t happy…but why?

By Kaleb Page

March 2, 2015

Arguably the best basketball player in the world, LeBron James, is not happy.

You might ask yourself how is such a man unhappy? Especially when you are the proclaimed savior of Northeast Ohio, making millions of dollars just to play a game and happen to be on a team that is rising force in the league; winning 17 of the last 19 games.

The reason James is mad involved something a bit more personal. His 10-year-old son, LeBron James Jr. (aka ‘Bronny’), has recently become a target for college basketball recruiters.

Yes you read that correctly, Lebron James Jr. a 10-year-old is already getting offers by colleges to play basketball. Something that made his dad take a step back.

“Yeah, he’s already got some offers from colleges. It’s pretty crazy. It should be a violation. You shouldn’t be recruiting 10-year-old kids.” -LeBron James (from Mike Sullivan of CBS Detroit)

Even though none of the schools were mentioned, it does drive home a point that I think we should be more critical of in the media. This being the over-hyping of child athletes before they have fully matured or even went through all the levels they still have to go through in their amateur play.

Sometimes the hype is for real but it has to beg the question what type of pressure are you already putting on kids at such a young age? Especially those who are children of well established professional athletes.

Now I guess it is easier said than done in today’s sports society. Where results are based on getting to the creme of the crop first, getting them to commit to you and then produce at your school. It probably makes it even harder on recruiters to not go after James Jr. when his dad makes comparisons between himself and his son.

“He plays just like I did. He has great awareness, and he’d rather pass first and set guys up. Most kids nowadays just want to score.” -LeBron James (from Mike Sullivan of CBS Detroit)

Since James never went to college because there was no rule about going to college for one year, you better believe that the race for the next wave of talent donning the last name James will be a race to sit back and watch.

I agree with LeBron in how ridiculous it is to even recruit kids that young. There is still an 8 year window where a lot can happen. That kid could have a change of heart and not even like the sport, lose that ‘it’ quality that had you as a recruiter drooling, an unforeseen injury could happen or even worse that young prodigy doesn’t pick your school at all since you pressured him since he was 10.

It will be interesting to see if there is any action by the NCAA to maybe produce a ban on recruiting at such a young age. It will also be interesting to see how Lebron James Jr. handles his success and ultimately what he does in the future.

For now enjoy a video of the young man ballin’ it up below.

Que the scouts drooling.