Revisiting LeBron’s Legacy

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Unless you’ve been sitting under a rock for the past few months you understand now that LeBron James is by far and away the best player in basketball.  LeBron clinched Ring #2 last week by defeating the San Antonio Spurs in 7 games in the NBA Finals.  Ever since he was drafted #1 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers exactly ten years ago he has shown that he has more than deserved the hype.  So much in fact, that he has placed himself on a trajectory where at the rate he’s going at he will be better than Michael Jordan.

Yes that’s right I said it.  At the “rate” LeBron is going at he’s going to be better than Michael Jordan.

Things can happen though.  LeBron might get hurt, he might go a spell or two without getting a ring, but regardless he deserves our respect and admiration considering that he’s a once in a generation type find that will be hard to find anywhere else. 

However, here are some conditions he must fulfill to be better than Jordan.

1. He must get 7 rings

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LeBron has already beaten two stellar players in Kevin Durant and Tim Duncan to get his first two rings, but look at the competition Jordan had to beat to get his.  Jordan had to beat Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Gary Payton, John Stockton, and many other great players to get his.  The system currently favors the Heat right now, so anything less than the amount LeBron predicted is unacceptable.  Besides who wants to go down in history as the “Kid Who Cried 7 Rings”?

2. He must win at least two more MVP’s

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This is an easy one considering that he has four of these already.  However, LeBron needs to keep on winning these because it’ll show people that by far and away he was the best basketball player during that time.  If LeBron can get 7 MVP’s to go along with his 7 Championships that will seal his fate as the G.O.A.T (“Greatest of All-Time”)

 

 

 

3.  He must set the NBA Scoring Record (or at least come close)

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Rank

  

  

Player

  

  

Position(s)

  

  

Team(s)    played for (years)[2]

  

  

Total    points

  

  

Games    played

  

  

Points per game
  
average[3]

  

  

Field goals
   made

  

  

Three-point
  
field goals

   made

  

  

Free throws
   made

  

1

Abdul-Jabbar,   KareemKareem Abdul-Jabbar*[4]

C

Milwaukee Bucks   (19691975)
  Los Angeles Lakers   (19751989)

38,387

1,560

24.6

15,837

1

6,712

32

James,   LeBronLeBron James^

SF

Cleveland Cavaliers   (20032010)
  Miami Heat (2010–present)

21,081

765

27.6

7,559

1,020

4,943

 Statistics courtesy of the List of National Basketball Association Career Scoring Leaders on Wikipedia.  Which I know isn’t the most credible website, but it references a lot of good resources.

LeBron still has a ways to go to catch up with Abdul-Jabbar, but from the looks of things he could catch him if he continues his current pace of production.  LeBron is also #46 on the list of career assists, and #7 on the list of triple-doubles (during the regular season).  As long as he gets known for something other than flopping that’s fine by me.

4.  He must make more outside shots

This isn’t a huge must, but LeBron definitely needs to work a little bit on his outside game because he’s not always going to have Dwayne Wade, Ray Allen, or Mike Miller taking those tough 3’s for him.  Kobe and Jordan both pride themselves in making these tough shots, and in order for LeBron to be considered “clutch”, he needs to make more of those shots and not just have every other field goal attempt be a dunk (as much fun as those are to watch).

5.  He must return to Cleveland, and at least win a ring or two there

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Pardon my language on this one, but the way LeBron left Cleveland in 2010 was one of the biggest douc***ag moves anyone could have ever pulled.  Given the circumstances surrounding him right now (and seeing that he has two rings and isn’t ringless any more), LeBron needs to return to Cleveland and give them the championship they deserve.  It’s the least he can do for that city.

Well there are my criteria.  Let me know what you think, and we’ll see what happens this next basketball season.

HOHOHO!  

 

 

 

 

 

Garcia Loses Title on the Scale, Wins in the Ring

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Although Mikey Garcia (32-0 27KO) lost his featherweight title on the scales, weighing in 2 Ibs over the 126 Ibs limit, he clearly showed who the better fighter was in dominating former two division champion Juan Manuel Lopez (33-3 30KO) to a 4th round TKO.

Both fighters came out throwing hard power shots in the first round but it soon became clear that Garcia had the better footwork, technique, and hand-speed. This left Lopez with hardly any options to counter Garcia.

Lopez got knocked down by a perfect 1-2 combo from Garcia in the second round. Due to Garcia’s calm, patient nature Lopez managed to survive to the end of the round. But it was clear after that round Lopez had only a puncher’s chance at winning.

Garcia continued to systematically pick Lopez apart in the third round and won the round clearly. The end would come in the fourth when a straight right hand to the temple wobbled Lopez. The disoriented Lopez had his hands low enough to allow Garcia to land a thunderous left hook to the chin, putting him flat on his back.

The referee wisely waved the fight off in spite of Lopez’ game attempt to show he was okay to continue. The impressiveness of this performance is somewhat tainted by Garcia’s inability to make the featherweight limit. Whether this is a case of his body growing out of the division or an act of unprofessionalism on his part remains to be seen. However, it was clear who the better fighter was and it seems unlikely Lopez would have been able to beat Garcia at any weight. Hopefully Garcia will be more professional in his next bout.

Lopez’ days as an elite fighter seem to be over. It wasn’t just that he lost that was bad but how quickly and easily Garcia made it look that could be the deciding factor in saying his best days are over. This is a fighter who has been in many brutal wars with the likes of Orlando Salido, Rafael Marquez, and even Bernabe Concepcion to a lesser degree. The amount of punishment he’s received throughout his career may be turning him into an old 29 if it hasn’t haven’t already.

A long, long break may be what Lopez needs.

As for Garcia, he simply needs to make weight and people will respect him. He’s too skilled to be written off. Either as a junior lightweight (130 Ibs.) or as a featherweight, he’ll make an impact.

Should the Sounders Play a 3-5-2?

Everyone recovered from that thriller on Saturday night yet? That’s okay, me neither.

Seattle’s brilliant comeback against the Vancouver Whitecaps may have seemed frenzied and disorganized in the moment, but was actually the result of a key tactical switch.

With the Sounders trailing 2-1 in the 61st minute, Sigi Schmid subbed on Marc Burch for an ineffective Alex Caskey. Burch, a defender by trade, was deployed higher up the pitch on the left flank, providing much-needed width that completely changed the attack. The sub moved the Sounders into a 3-5-2 formation and freed Mauro Rosales. With Burch and DeAndre Yedlin playing as wingbacks, Rosales was able to drift around and find space to create. The setup was largely responsible for Seattle’s third goal, Lamar Neagle’s eventual winner.

Let’s break it down.

Sequence_1_HD

Here’s the early build up to the goal. Burch is hugging the touchline on the left. Leo Gonzalez has ventured far forward while Obafemi Martins waits on the shoulder of the last defender. Notice how Rosales has drifted extremely far inside and is drawing four Whitecaps defenders.

Sequence_2_HD

Rosales plays the ball back to Servando Carrasco who then sends it to Andy Rose in a pocket of space. Several things to notice here: Rosales’ presence in the middle drew four defenders and left the ‘Caps out of position. This leaves a three on three for the Sounders in addition to space on the right side. As soon as Carrasco plays the ball to Rose, DeAndre Yedlin starts a run down the right flank into that space to create an overload.

Sequence_3_HD

Rose turns and dribbles into the space. Vancouver left-back Greg Klazura holds his position because of Yedlin’s wide presence, which creates a gap (yellow oval) between Klazura and Johnny Leveron. Rose plays a splitting through-ball into this area for Obafemi Martins, who lets it run by before chasing it down and crossing for Lamar Neagle to slot home.

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This goal is a great argument for the Sounders playing a 3-5-2 because it shows how Yedlin’s (and to some extent Burch’s) wide play can be a key factor in creating space and goals.

Sounders_3-5-2

There are a few issues with committing to a 3-5-2 full time though. First off, the Sounders, when fully healthy, have incredible talent on the wings. Steve Zakuani, Mario Martinez, Brad Evans, Mauro Rosales and Lamar Neagle (when Eddie Johnson and Martins are up top) are all vying for minutes at two wing spots. A 3-5-2 doesn’t use traditional wingers, which would make it even tougher to find everyone enough time

A 3-5-2 also isn’t the most defensively sound formation (just ask recently-relegated Wigan Athletic), suggesting it’s best used for home matches where Sounders expect to dominate possession.

Finally, Schmid may not have the personnel to play a 3-5-2 for the next few matches. DeAndre Yedlin, who’s skillset most benefits from the formation, is off to the U20 World Cup and could be gone until July 13. Brad Evans could be a nice fit at right wingback when he returns from National Team duty, but when Eddie Johnson also returns and partners with Martins, Schmid would be better served playing a 4-4-2 with Neagle wide.

In short, the 3-5-2 is a good option when the Sounders want to throw out a different look or when they’re chasing a game, like on Saturday or against Tigres in the CONCACAF Champions League earlier this year. In the end though, the wing talent and on the roster and Yedlin’s absence probably means we won’t see a 3-5-2 with any regularity.

 

With One Punch A New Light Heavyweight Champion is Crowned

The elite level of boxing has had a number of youtube worthy one-punch knockouts in recent years. Think Sergio Martinez-Paul Williams II, Donaire-Montiel, or Pacquiao-Marquez IV. Last Saturday nights light heavyweight (175 Ibs.) championship bout between Adonis Stevenson (21-1 18KO) and Chad Dawson (31-3 17KO) can be added to that list.

Dawson was making the first defense of the lineal light heavyweight championship he won from Bernard Hopkins almost two years ago. He had lost his last fight to super middleweight champion Andre Ward but since the fight was contested at super middleweight (168 Ibs.) Dawson’s championship wasn’t at risk.

Meanwhile, Stevenson avenged his only loss to Darnell Boone and was looking to give his home crowd in Montreal the gift of a championship. Many experts expected Dawson to outclass Stevenson due to the limited competition the challenger defeated and the elite fighters Dawson has faced and beaten.

Dawson himself was questioning the validity of Stevenson’s power due to the B-level competition for Stevenson. However, power is power, regardless of the competition.

Dawson would learn this hard lesson in the first round.

The fight started with Dawson coming out more aggressive than usual and Stevenson trying to counter. This would prove to be a big mistake on Dawson’s part. An old motto in boxing that is still true to this day is “Never follow a puncher around” and this is exactly what Dawson did.

Around 76 seconds into the first round, Dawson tried to fire a right hook but Stevenson countered with a perfect one-two combo that put the champ on his back. Dawson rose on unsteady legs and the referee wisely stopped the fight.

This was a great win not only for Stevenson but also for Montreal as a new attraction for the city has emerged. Stevenson has many options for himself as potential bouts against the likes of Hopkins, Jean Pascal, Lucian Bute and others are suddenly viable opportunities for him.

It is unclear where Dawson goes from here. He knew he had to look impressive against Stevenson after the disastrous loss to Ward and failed to deliver. Once regarded as one of the top fighters in the world, his career has been lackluster since his first loss to Pascal with a decision over Adrian Diaconou, and forgettable bouts with Hopkins. A second consecutive knockout loss was the last thing he needed. The only sure thing is his time as a highly regarded fighter is over for the moment.

Adonis “Superman” Stevenson can fly to superstar status and bring meaningful bouts to Montreal. The citizens of that city must be proud of their new champion, who rose from relative obscurity to becoming the light heavyweight champion of the world.

2013 NBA Finals Preview

Well unfortunately for us Seattle fans that didn’t happen, but still this NBA Finals will be entertaining.  This years championship will feature last years winner, the Miami Heat, going against the San Antonio Spurs who have won four championships in the last 14 years.  This series should be interesting.

The Heat won both games against the Spurs this season, but the Spurs have definitely captured some momentum of their own.  The Heat survived a long seven game series against the Indiana Pacers, while the Spurs swept the Memphis Grizzlies in four games.  As a result San Antonio should be well rested.

As far as statistics go, league MVP LeBron James leads all scorers with 26.8, while his partner-in-crime Dwayne Wade closely follows with 21.2.  Tony Parker leads the Spurs with 20.3.

A lot of ESPN experts will probably pick the Heat to win this series…and I agree with them.  However, if Tony Parker is able to make some big plays and Tim Duncan as well as other post players on the Spurs are able to step up the Heat will be in for a long series.  One of the reasons why the Heat-Pacers Conference Finals went longer than expected was because the Heat didn’t have a strong post answer to Pacers center Roy Hibbert.  As a result, the Heat were forced beyond the arc, which was an uncomfortable position.  In Game 7 however, the Heat were able to get Hibbert into foul trouble rather easily and that set up a long night for the Pacers.  Duncan and the rest of the Spurs big uglies need to stay out of foul trouble if they even hope to have a chance in this series.

Speaking of which, 13 of 18 ESPN experts are picking the Heat in this Finals.

Why don’t we talk about LeBron a little bit while we’re at it.  He had a big Game 7, and if you remember from last year the Heat also won a Game 7 (that time against the Boston Celtics though), to get to the Finals and make short work of the Thunder in five games.  The Spurs will be a little more of a challenge, but I think King James will be in for another big series, and perhaps another Finals MVP as well.  That’ll bring it up to two on his career.
Now I hate to say this, but Stern as well as any other officials will do anything in their power to make it so the Heat win this series.  Any advantage they can give LeBron and the Heat they will give to them.  I’m not directly saying that the series will be officiated unfairly, but what I am saying is that the Heat definitely have an advantage in this department.  Expect for LeBron and Wade to get more calls than Parker and the other Spurs players.
So here’s the verdict!
Heat win in six!
LeBron is coming off a big game against the Pacers, and he is right now the undisputed best player in basketball.  The Spurs will put up a good fight, but he will get his revenge (his Cavaliers got swept by the Spurs in the 2007 Finals) and claim ring #2.
The only question right now though, is will he be better than Jordan at the pace he’s going at?  We’ll just have to wait and see.

By the way I’m going to stop the HOHOHOrrible column for a while until some embarrassing moments pop up. Until then stay classy.

HOHOHO!