The DeAndre Jordan Saga

You know that game that little girls play (maybe used to play – I have no idea what little kids do these days) where they pull petals off the flower to figure out if their crush really loves them?  Maybe that’s what DeAndre Jordan has been doing this past week.  “I love them, I love them not, I love them, I love them not”.

As a completely unbiased observer of the absurd ending to the DeAndre Jordan free agency saga I think I can provide some objective observations.  So here’s my take:

Chandler’s on to something

Chandler Parsons, who was part of the recruiting team that went to visit DeAndre when he originally “agreed” to join the Mavs, spoke to ESPN yesterday when the news broke and had this to say:

“This is something that I’ve never seen in my career, and I know that it doesn’t happen very often.  When a man gives you his word and an organization his word, especially when that organization put in so much effort and I walked him through this process and was very, very open and willing to work with him, it’s just very unethical and disrespectful.”

He’s got every right to be pissed off, as does everyone in the Mavs organization and that entire fan base.  It’s a cowardly move to back out when you’ve given someone your word.  Not to mention the fact that DeAndre ignored every attempt the Mavs made to contact him on Wednesday when news broke that he was having second thoughts about his decision.  He treated them like they were the crazy chick he met at the club last weekend…”Oh hell no, no way I’m talking to that bitch”.

lost phone text
This is the real exchange Cuban had with DeAndre

Phone calls, text messages…hell Mark Cuban and Parsons even flew down to Houston to try to meet with DeAndre on Wednesday but couldn’t see him because the Clippers refused to leave his place (smart move on their part by the way).  This whole situation had the feel of an insane hostage situation…if I was the Mavs I would have called Kevin Spacey in to negotiate.  He was able to talk Sam L. Jackson out of killing anyone, so maybe he could have coaxed Doc, CP3 and Blake out of the crib long enough for Cuban to work some magic.  But alas, it wasn’t meant to be and now the Mavs are royally screwed.  At the least the Clippers contingency was having fun on Wednesday night…

What it tells me about DeAndre

This whole debacle tells me that the dude has no freaking idea what the hell he wants.  At the beginning of free agency he said the most important thing was going somewhere he could be “The Guy”.  He wanted to be that franchise centerpiece that a team built around; the focal point of an offense.  Well, maybe I’m missing something but I don’t see how that’s EVER going to happen on a squad where he’s running with Blake and CP3.  Not to mention all the BS that got thrown around about his toxic relationship with Chris Paul.  Funny how that was squashed by a short conversation at his house (all accounts are that the Clippers visit on Wednesday consisted of more video games and card-playing than actual recruiting/hashing out differences).

So now he’s done a complete 180 and decided that staying in L.A. is what he wants.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s the best place for him to be in terms of fit AND in terms of actually competing for a championship.  It just didn’t seem like either of those were top priorities for DeAndre when this process started.  Maybe he smartened up.  Maybe he realized that staying in L.A. meant an extra $8 million over the course of his contract, since teams can pay more to keep their own free agents.

It also tells me that regardless of what he said publicly, he’s not ready to be a franchise guy.  Frankly, he’s NOT that kind of player.  He’s Ben Wallace, but obviously a helluva a lot more athletic.  The dude can’t make a free throw, a jumper…all of his points come on lobs from CP3 or put-backs from offensive rebounds.  He’s an insane athlete, a terrific defender and a ferocious rebounder.  But, and I say BUT, he has no offensive game whatsoever and to me that doesn’t translate to a franchise centerpiece that you build your entire team around.  I mean the Clips had to pull him off the floor at times during their playoff series vs Houston because the “hack-a-DeAndre” was crippling their offense.  Hard to build your team around a guy that can’t be on the floor during crunch time because you’re scared he’ll get fouled.  I think he made the best decision of his life by staying in L.A. where CP3 will get the most out of his freakish talents and he can get his while being the 3rd (or 4th) option to score.  The fact that he’s a max contract guy now just epitomizes what’s wrong with the NBA…but that’s for another post.

Ultimately the gang got back together for another run
Ultimately the gang got back together for another run

So where does everyone go from here?

Well, the Clippers seem poised for another run at one of the top seeds in the West along with Golden State and San Antonio.  If they stay healthy they should be in the mix to make a run at a championship next season. With the core of their squad back, and the addition of Paul Pierce, Doc appears to have all the pieces they need to atone for their epic collapse in the playoffs (which by the way nobody has given them enough heat for – does everyone forget that they were up 3-1 vs Houston AND up double digits in the 2nd half of game 5?  One of the worst choke jobs I’ve ever seen).  Clippers fans can feel good about having this guy in their uniform for at least 3 more seasons…

The Mavs meanwhile have thrown a max contract Wesley Matthews way, which would be more reasonable if he wasn’t coming off an ugly Achilles injury.  Their biggest issues are a lack of all-around depth and playmakers.  Devin Harris is a solid player, but with the PGs in the West he’s not good enough to match up with the likes of Westbrook, Parker, Paul or Curry.  Plus in addition to having DeAndre spurn you like a prom night dumpster baby, you also had Tyson Chandler bolt for Phoenix…meaning you’re left with total garbage at the center position and an aging Nowitzki as your only frontcourt scorer.  Good luck with that.  The names left in free agency, and the trade market for that matter, are just not going to cut it.  Reports are that D-Will wants a trade out of Brooklyn to re-join Dirk, so maybe Cuban can orchestrate that AND another move to keep them competitive.  But with all the firepower in the West they seemed destined to finish on the outside looking in; in which case the 1st rounder the Celtics acquired for Rondo might have actual value now!

How Mark Cuban feels right now
How Mark Cuban feels right now
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NBA FINALS PREVIEW

The NBA was gracious enough to give both teams a week off, which had two major benefits:  (1) Klay Thompson can have some time to recover from his concussion systems (and hopefully be ready to go for game 1) and (2) it gave me plenty of time to do this write-up.  What follows is some combination of my random thoughts on this series, as well as what I think will happen (as a realist and fan of the game) and what I hope will happen (as a well-documented LeBron hater).

The Road Here

Frankly, it’s what most people wanted and expected – LeBron and the Cavs in the finals.  Even without Kevin Love, there was little chance of anyone else making it out of the Eastern Conference.  I thought the Bulls could pull it off, but they shit the bed during crunch time of that series.  Thought maybe the Wizards could give the Cavs a tough series, but John Wall got hurt and they couldn’t get past the Hawks.  Never thought the Hawks would be able to knock out the Cavs, and once DeMare Carroll AND Kyle Korver went down, it became a walk in the park for Cleveland.  LeBron waltzed his way into his 5th straight NBA Finals; which by the way is an absolutely insane accomplishment.  As bad as the East is, and as much as I can’t stand him, it’s a damn impressive feat.

Golden State on the other hand obviously had to make it through a much more difficult road in a far superior Western Conference.  They had a momentary scare against the Grizzlies, but going down 2-1 in that series might have been the best thing that ever happened to them.  They fought through the Grizz, then dispatched of the Rockets pretty easily to cruise to their first NBA Finals in over 40 years.  I just want to also take this opportunity to say:  Thank god the Warriors beat the Rockets because I could not watch anymore “hack-a-whoever BS”.  The Clippers-Rockets series was the worst I’ve ever seen.  The NBA needs to find a way to get that shit out of the game, because nobody wants to watch Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan and Josh Smith stroll to the free throw line every ten seconds.  I’d rather watch Project Runway than that garbage….so thank you Golden State for ending that trauma.  Of course, now that I said that they’ll probably employ the “Hack-a-Tristan” and make Tristan Thompson take 20+ FTs a game in the finals…but here’s hoping we see actual basketball instead.

NBA: Playoffs-Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Clippers
The only thing uglier than watching this on TV is looking at DeAndre’s actual FT%

The Matchup

The Warriors had the best record in the NBA for good reason.  They have the best shooting tandem in the league with Curry/Thompson.  They have length and athleticism at the wing with Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala.  They have good size down low with Andrew Bogut (and David Lee/Festus Ezeli off the bench).  And they have a jack-of-all trades in Draymond Green (runner up as Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player this season) who is athletic enough to play the 3, but strong enough to play the 4 or even 5 in a small-ball lineup.  They move the ball well, play solid defense and have the type of depth and flexibility with their lineup that allows them to match up well with Cleveland and also impose difficult matchups upon the Cavs.

Meanwhile it’s all about LeBron on the other side.  No Kevin Love.  Kyrie Irving has been fighting through an injury but hasn’t been his normal explosive self.  The Cavs have made it through the east largely thanks to the New York Knicks, as J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert have both looked rejuvenated since they escaped from the shitshow that was this season in the Big Apple.  Then out of nowhere Tristan Thompson turned into an absolute BEAST on the boards, and Cleveland’s new fan favorite Matthew Dellevadova busted onto the scene.  Very unexpectedly, the supporting cast has come up huge for the Cavs and will be a big factor in this series.

My Random Thoughts and Bold Predictions

  1. Steph Curry goes off for 40+ points in at least one game this series
  2. Johnny Manziel will show up courtside in Cleveland for Game 3. He’ll get booed relentlessly by the crowd, get pissed and try to throw a water bottle at the jumbotron. He’ll miss badly and the boos will turn to laughs as Johnny football once again proves why he isn’t an NFL-caliber quarterback.
  3. There will be at least 2 ejections in this series – I’d put my money on: J.R. Smith and Andre Iguodala. Iguodala will get tossed for a bogus “Flagrant 2” call for a hard foul on LeBron (in game 3 or 4 in Cleveland) and Smith will get tossed for starting another fight in retaliation.
  4. Dellevadova injures at least 1 Warrior with this reckless, albeit energetic and hustling, style of play (personally I think he’s a dirty player but damn good at covering it up)
  5. LeBron will bitch and complain so much about “non-calls” in Games 1 & 2 that the refs will freak out and send him to the line for 15-20 FTs in Game 3 (in Cleveland).
  6. Draymond Green will be the key to this series for the Warriors, and will post a triple-double and win Finals MVP.
No Johnny, you can't order 6 beers at a time
No Johnny, you can’t order 6 beers at a time

Bonus prediction:  the real star of the NBA Finals will be:  Riley Curry…I mean, c’mon

Who Wins?

The only question that really matters; I’m going with the Warriors in 6.  My exact prediction, game by game:  Game 1 – Warriors win by double digits; Game 2 – Cavs steal this one on a late 3 by JR Smith; Game 3 – Warriors win a close one behind a HUGE game by Chef Curry; Game 4 – Cavs win big behind a monster performance by LeBron; Game 5 – Warriors come back home and win by 20+; Game 6 – Warriors finish off the series and take home the title, and best of all get to celebrate it on LeBron’s home court.  Suck it LeBron!!

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Why I hate LeBron

After LeBron’s triple-double last night that put his Cavs (down Love and without Kyrie last night) within 1 game of the NBA finals, I thought it would be as good a time as any to reflect on my incredible level of detestation for LeBron Raymone James.

I’m the first person to admit that my hatred for LeBron James is probably a little irrational and unfair.  It’s in no way an indication of my personal opinion regarding his basketball abilities.  You saw what he did last night, and you can put me on the record:  LeBron is the most talented player in the world right now and when he hangs it up he will go down as one of the all-time greats…he’s THAT good.  He’s an impossible matchup with his size, strength and quickness.  He’s a tremendous passer, very underrated defender and has shown growth in his outside shooting over the years (the only real weakness in his game).  The basketball side will NEVER be my true criticism of LeBron.  He’s a great player and I respect the hell out of his game and how hard he competes on the hardwood.

This issues is:  he’s a total dickhead and every time he opens his mouth I want to leap through the television to punch him in the face.  It all started with “The Decision”…which will go down as the most absurd event EVER covered by ESPN.  Any normal person would just release an announcement through their agent indicating who they’ve agreed to sign with (like every other player has done in NBA history).  Instead, LeBron felt the need to hold a 1-hour special to tell the whole world that he was “taking his talents to South Beach”.  Arguably the six most douchey words ever uttered in sports.

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This wasn’t about the Boys and Girls Club…it was about all eyes on LeBron

It wasn’t just Cavalier fans and the entire state of Ohio that began their hatred for LeBron on that night (obviously they’ve now forgive him – but we’ll get around to that…) it was the entire country aside from the city of Miami.  As much as I respect his game, that moment marked the instance America lost respect for him as a human being.  He was (and I believe truly is) so egotistical that he felt he deserved that moment.  He had earned the spotlight and attention and boy did he eat that shit up.

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They felt stupid buying new jerseys 4 years later…but whatevs, they looked badass at the time

Maybe I would have gotten over that eventually, but he just kept piling it on.  Then there was the pep rally.  When the fuck has an NBA team EVER had a pep rally BEFORE they win a championship? WTF is this? High school?  Him, Wade and Bosh sat up on that stage like they were the next hot new boy band and did their whole “not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, not 7” shtick.  As if the world didn’t hate them enough, well everyone rooted against them from that point on.

Dwyane Wade, left, Chris Bosh, center, and LeBron James, right ,greet fans during an event at the American Airlines Arena in Miami Friday, July 9, 2010. (AP Photo/Miami Herald, Al Diaz) ** KEY WEST OUT. MAGS OUT, TV OUT. NO SALES **   Original Filename: LeBrons_Decision_Basketball_FLMIH102.jpg
What is this? A Pitbull concert?

Now fast forward and Bron Bron is back in Cleveland trying to be the hero and finally bring a championship to the city of Cleveland.  This is the focal point of my actual continued hatred for him, because I could have forgiven him for his bullshit in Miami if it wasn’t for this…I think he’s completely full of shit and putting on a fake front now.  I would have at least respected LeBron if he just came out and admitted that he made a mistake after “The Decision” and accepted the fact that not everyone would love him from that point on.  Instead, he has tried ever since then to make up for it and I think the choice to come back to Cleveland, at its core, was all about Bronnie wanting to feel loved again by his hometown.  I don’t blame him for it, I think that’s actually a natural human feeling.  The issue I have is that when he speaks, he’s spouting out total crap.  This just in LeBron:  not everyone is fooled by your act; I see right through you!

My recommendation:  he should have just embraced the hate for him like Kobe does.  Kobe doesn’t care if people hate him, because he’s going to be himself and never going to censor himself or walk on eggshells.  Me personally, I can’t stand Kobe – I think he’s a selfish player and a total asshole, but at least I respect that he’s honest about it.  I don’t think any of us see the real LeBron on a recurring basis (I think the real him was orchestrating that spectacle in the summer of 2010).  He realized that everyone perceived him as the complete dickhead that he is and was like “damn, I fucked up”.  He tries to put up a good façade, but even that backfired.  In my eyes, he just cemented my perception of him by continually making idiotic and classless comments.  My personal favorite was after they lost to Dallas in the NBA finals:

LeBron on ‘whether it bothers him that so many people are happy to see him fail’:  “Absolutely not. Because at the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that.”

Definitely not the words I would want to hear from a “world-class” athlete and competitor.  Just epitomizes the lack of class he constantly demonstrates.  Never gracious in victory or in defeat, and for that, he’ll never have my respect. At the end of the day, no matter the situation it’s all about LeBron. He may be an all-time great player, in the same class as Magic, Bird and even MJ.  But, he’ll never get that credit from me.  I’ll always consider him that incredibly talented player who acted like a spoiled punk.  Good luck getting a good night’s sleep with my judgment hanging over you LeBron.

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P.S. – that’s how you show class after a big win; take notes LeBron.  P.P.S – couldn’t resist the temptation to take a few parting shots at Bron Bron:

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