Posts Tagged ‘LeBron James’

NBA_banana boat

#BrotherHood.

This was the caption that was featured on Dwyane Wade’s Instagram post which showed his recent vacation on a gigantic banana boat with fellow NBA superstars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and LeBron James.

Perhaps one caption says it all, as D-Wade shows the world that his alliance with the three other men in the photo is “bigger than basketball”, as he (and James) often talk about. I found this particular topic to be an interesting one, especially after hearing the latest episode of the Jalen & Jacoby podcast. Jacoby makes mention of the fact that some of the NBA’s “purist” old school fans who take issue with what they perceive to be a new school phenomenon of the players becoming too friendly on & off court (you can hear what Jacoby said at the 46:00 mark of this clip). That guys like Magic, Bird, and Jordan hated each other, and would never forge a friendship of any kind on–or off–the court.

Of course, the notion held by the old school fans of the “real NBA” might have forgotten that Magic and Bird’s friendship extended beyond the court; that MJ & Charles Oakley have been sidekicks for nearly thirty years (despite what you see in those early 90’s Bulls/Knicks games). It is also a well-known fact that Magic, Isiah Thomas, and Mark Aguirre always rolled together when they weren’t at each other’s throats during those late 80’s Lakers/Pistons rivalries.

MJ & Oak have been good friends for years.

MJ & Oak have been good friends for years.

So have Magic, Isiah, and Aguirre

So have Magic, Isiah, and Aguirre

The belief that competitors can’t be friends is ridiculous. As long as players’ friendships don’t water down their tenacity on the court, then who cares? Let ’em do battle on the court, and be family off the court.

lebron_james_2015

In this new age of unlimited access to information, there isn’t much we don’t know about LeBron James‘s accomplishments during his career in the NBA. However, what many of us are looking over, is a steadily unfolding career that is worthy of not only securing a spot in the Hall in Springfield, but also him carving out his own spot on the Mt. Rushmore of NBA greats.

Although I was nowhere near LeBron hater status like many of his detractors, I’ll admit, for a few years in the early stages of LeBron’s career, I was skeptical of the ‘hype’ surrounding him and his emergence onto the NBA scene. Kobe was (and still is) my favorite player in the league. I was skeptical that a kid straight out of high school could resurrect an NBA franchise singlehandedly. I was skeptical of the buzz he had surrounding him, thanks to the Nike and Sprite commercials that we’d see upon his arrival to the league…But despite what I or anyone else had to say or think about the on-court resume he was building, King James definitely lived up to his nickname–and then some.

Everyone knows about the Oscar Robertson-like triple doubles he’s amassed, the otherworldly athleticism, and the one-name recognition that only a few individuals such as Beyonce and Pele have earned. However, do we know about how dangerously close he is in passing Jordan in regular season MVPs? Do we realize that he’s ALREADY in his 12th NBA season (at the time that I’m writing this), and seems to be virtually impervious to season ending and debilitating injuries that even the greatest of the greats in league history have been plagued with at some point in their careers?

I attest much of our overlooking of LeBron’s ever-growing legacy to the fact that we live in a microwave society. Nowadays, the NBA–like many other leagues in the sports industry–are so fixated with finding the “next big thing”, that we often lose sight of the ones who are making history now. The irony of the matter is that at one time in the not-so-distant past, LeBron himself was considered one of the new jacks of the league who were the “next big thing”.

It’s a safe bet to now conclude that LeBron–at the prime age of 30–has entered the NBA’s venerable circle of grizzled veteran champions, such as Kobe, Duncan, KG, and his former teammate, D-Wade. Now, let’s just sit back and watch history continue to unfold.

nba2015

As we enter the 68th season of the National Basketball Association, it’s evident that the 2014-15 campaign isn’t the only thing that’s new surrounding “The League”. We’ll “Witness” veteran superstars go to “NEW” teams (LeBron James), new players (Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, etc), and new coaches (Derek Fisher) who will attempt to lead their teams to victories.

Unfortunately, not all is well in spite of a new season. Due to the fast-paced nature of the game of basketball that is definitely true for the NBA, this season’s first 24+ hours have already experienced a season ending injury to the L.A. Lakers’ prized rookie from the University of Kentucky, Julius Randle, who broke his right tibia during the teams season opener against Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets. Fans all across the NBA landscape are being deprived of watching the basketball greatness of 4-time scoring champion and 2014 MVP Kevin Durant, who is expected to miss the first month of this new NBA season. He also happens to be the cover boy of 2K Sports’s NBA 2K15 (I’m really starting to believe that the fabled “cover curse” that many athletes experience after being placed on the cover of video games is true).

In spite of the previously mentioned adversity, the show must go on. We’ve already witnessed a game winning shot from Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker to beat Jabari Parker’s Milwaukee Bucks, 108-106 to re-introduced the world to the the NBA franchise that had become a household name for much of the 90’s on into the early 00’s.

There are many questions that are left to be unanswered at this point. Will the San Antonio Spurs repeat as champions in 2015? Will legendary coach and now President of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks Phil Jackson’s experience as a winner become contagious to his newly inherited team? Can Kobe Bryant, coming off of an achilles heel and knee surguries–not to mention Father Time–hold hold up physically to withstand the rigors of the 82 game NBA season? Will he surpass Michael Jordan’s all time points scored record to reach 3rd on the NBA’s All-Time Scoring list? We can’t help but to just tune in to see.

One thing that is certain is that the Western Conference looks as strong as ever, with high expectations for the Clippers, Warriors, Spurs, Mavericks, Blazers, and Thunder. These are just the teams who are named as favorites to emerge from the West come Finals time in June. While the Western Conference has reigned supreme for quite sometime now, let’s not sleep on the Eastern Conference. Derrick Rose appears to be back…and better–and faster–than ever. Can his Chicago Bulls team (that also acquired two-time champion Pau Gasol from the Lakers this past summer) give their neighbors in the Central Division–the Cleveland Cavaliers–a run for their money? Let’s also not forget about the Miami Heat, who despite losing LeBron to free agency, will have what it takes to become a top four team in the East, ESPECIALLY now that the Pacers appear to be out of the conversation due to the severe leg injury suffered by their all-star forward Paul George, as well as the loss of tough-as-nails shooting guard Lance Stephenson to Charlotte.

There are many great teams that appear to be AWESOME on paper at this point in the season, but come June, the old TNT slogan rings true:

“There can only be one”.

hoopsreading

For years, the NBA’s “Read to Achieve” program has sought to promote literacy among its young fans by implementing various educational initiatives and incentives. For us adults, the importance of reading is no less.  If you’re reading this, or some of my other work here on this page, then you’ve already realized the fact that reading is important.

Despite the need for us all to be able to possess basic literary skills, reading can be made fun in the process. Because of my love for the game of basketball, I have included several b-ball themed books that are personal favorites of mine that I’m quite sure that you’ll love as well.  Reading is FUNdamental!!

Tales From the Cleveland Cavaliers: The Rookie Season of LeBron James by Roger Gordon

Magic: by Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Richard Levin

Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed, and the Corruption of America’s Youth by Dan Wetzel and Don Yaeger

Best Seat in the House: A Basketball Memoir by Spike Lee

I have included a few vintage commercials where NBA stars encourage the kiddos to read. Take a look:

The very concept of free agency in the NBA would not have been possible if it weren't for Oscar Robertson.

The very concept of free agency in the NBA would not have been possible if it weren’t for Oscar Robertson.

LeBron. Carmelo. Pau. These are some of the names of this year’s current crop of free agents who have decided to test the markets and use their marketability as legit stars to leverage their futures with a new team, or the team that they’re currently with. However, while we as fans debate and ponder on what team that our favorite free agents will sign with, this entire process wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for NBA hall-of-famer Oscar “The Big O” Robertson.

Robertson, a player whom LeBron James is often compared to for his ability to be both a game changing playmaker and a dominant, yet efficient scorer, filed a lawsuit against the NBA in 1970 that expressed the right for a player to not be bound to any team for the remainder of their career. Although Robertson retired as a player in 1974, he remained the president of the NBA Players Association when the settlement was reached that allowed players to become free agents.

Although we take such a thing for granted today, Robertson’s decision to take a bold stand in the face of the NBA was a groundbreaking one, and numerous players have benefited from the 1976 settlement. Just imagine, if it weren’t for Robertson, we wouldn’t have seen Shaq leave the Orlando Magic to sign with the Lakers as a free agent in the summer of ’96. We wouldn’t have been able to sit back and watch then up-and-coming young star Tracy McGrady leave the Toronto Raptors to sign with the Magic in the summer of 2000. We certainly wouldn’t have witnessed “The Decision” (no explanation needed there) in 2010.

No matter what team that high profile free agents such as Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol, and the Big Three in Miami decide to sign with, just remember there was a time when it wouldn’t have been possible for them to have the OPTION to leave. If another player hasn’t given you their respect by paying tribute to your brave efforts to buck the system as it was established back in the ’70s, then I, on behalf of the fans and other non-NBA players want to say thanks. You’re a legend in more ways than one.