LeBron James

James' move to Cleveland more about money than basketball

ESPN and TNT fended off other TV competitors to retain rights to broadcast NBA games for the next nine years. This deal was a reported 2.66 billion dollars a year by New York Times. The deal is worth nearly 3 times as much as the old deal. So where does this extra money being generated go to?

 

That’s a question LeBron James and the players association want answered fast. When the NBA went into the lockout in 2011, the owners and players signed a new CBA for five years, so this is set to expire in two more years. Which means there will be plenty of more negotiating between the two sides on where this extra revenue will be going.

 

The reason James signed only a two year deal with Cleveland had nothing to do with basketball but everything to do with money. James absolutely knew there would be a new TV deal producing much more money. If everything goes accordingly, James and other top free agents will be able to sign longer deals for more money.

 

This much revenue could open the door to baseball like contracts for the NBA. For example, Albert Pujols signed a 10 year, 240 million dollar deal with the Los Angeles Angels in 2012. However under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, players can only sign a max of five years with their current team, or four years should they choose to sign with another team.  

 

James realizes how instrumental this can be in terms of players’ ability to capitalize when negotiating contracts. He also understands if the owners and National Basketball Players Association don’t start discussing a potential deal, the NBA could see another long lockout in 2016.


The reason the lockout lasted 161 days in 2011 was the owners claiming they were losing money. Now with the way NBA franchises have been selling and of course the money produced by this TV deal, no way that argument still stands. Hopefully the fans and certainly the players don’t have to go through another lockout.

NBA Award Predictions

What better way to kick off the first day of NBA media days, then having some way too early predictions for the season that is a month away? Let’s get started.

 

Rookie of the Year

With the most anticipated rookie class since 2003, this award will have quite a few rookies making a great case for the award. Andrew Wiggins has the highest ceiling of them all, Marcus Smart is the most physically ready, then you have Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, and Zach Lavine who could all bloom into superstars but can’t expect that in year one. However, Jabari Parker is the most NBA ready, went to a team he wanted to play for, and well he is arguably their best player already. Parker will have his touches on offense to put up close to 20 points a game while snatching 5 rebounds and a couple assists along the way.

 

Coach of the year

Coach of the year can translate to breakout team of the year or the team that exceeds expectations the best. Or how about an unproven coach who leads his team to the best record in the conference? Sounds to me like David Blatt makes the perfect case. Blatt, new head coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers, has never coached an NBA team before. His coaching experience comes from overseas where he coached for 20 years. But he inherits a loaded Cavs team led by LeBron James, not a bad deal.

 

Most Improved Player of the year

This one is always a tough one to predict, because there is no telling which player will break out. Some worthy candidates are Chandler Parsons, Lance Stephenson, Kawhi Leonard, and plenty of others. The one that stands out is Kawhi Leonard. Coming off an unforgettable NBA Finals series where he defended LeBron better than anybody else has, and led the Spurs offensively as well. Plus, when your coach says the offense will run around you now, there’s no telling how improved Leonard will be.

 

Defensive Player of the year

Another one of those categories where plenty of players fit the role well. Defending champ, Joakim Noah poses a great chance to repeat as the winner. But the likes of Roy Hibbert, Dwight Howard, and a rejuvenated Tyson Chandler will all make strong cases. This year, the NBA will see a first time winner take this award home, Serge Ibaka. He will likely lead the NBA in blocks once again, and his rebounding skills are only improving. On top of this, there are countless instances where he disrupts the opposing offenses rhythm with his long arms and quick feet.

 

Most Valuable Player of the year

This race is always the most fun to monitor throughout the year. And this year will be no exception. The league is full of superstars that are looking to lead their respective teams to the next level. Of course defending champ, Kevin Durant makes a strong case to repeat but Chris Paul and teammate Blake Griffin are both looking to improve on what were MVP like seasons. A dark horse in this race could be Lamarcus Aldridge. Last year in the playoffs, Aldridge looked unstoppable against the Houston Rockets. If he can find that groove again, and the Blazers continue to excel, he could make a great case. But lets be real, this award is LeBron James’ to lose. The superstar is coming off an incredible statistical season. And now you add weapons like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love around him is almost unfair. And not to mention the depth this Cleveland team has in Dion Waiters, Shawn Marion, Tristan Thompson, and Mike Miller. This will arguably be LeBron James’ best team, so what is there not to like about James winning his fifth MVP award?

 
 
 

NBA Award Predictions

What better way to kick off the first day of NBA media days, then having some way too early predictions for the season that is a month away? Let’s get started.

 

Rookie of the Year

With the most anticipated rookie class since 2003, this award will have quite a few rookies making a great case for the award. Andrew Wiggins has the highest ceiling of them all, Marcus Smart is the most physically ready, then you have Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, and Zach Lavine who could all bloom into superstars but can’t expect that in year one. However, Jabari Parker is the most NBA ready, went to a team he wanted to play for, and well he is arguably their best player already. Parker will have his touches on offense to put up close to 20 points a game while snatching 5 rebounds and a couple assists along the way.

 

Coach of the year

Coach of the year can translate to breakout team of the year or the team that exceeds expectations the best. Or how about an unproven coach who leads his team to the best record in the conference? Sounds to me like David Blatt makes the perfect case. Blatt, new head coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers, has never coached an NBA team before. His coaching experience comes from overseas where he coached for 20 years. But he inherits a loaded Cavs team led by LeBron James, not a bad deal.

 

Most Improved Player of the year

This one is always a tough one to predict, because there is no telling which player will break out. Some worthy candidates are Chandler Parsons, Lance Stephenson, Kawhi Leonard, and plenty of others. The one that stands out is Kawhi Leonard. Coming off an unforgettable NBA Finals series where he defended LeBron better than anybody else has, and led the Spurs offensively as well. Plus, when your coach says the offense will run around you now, there’s no telling how improved Leonard will be.

 

Defensive Player of the year

Another one of those categories where plenty of players fit the role well. Defending champ, Joakim Noah poses a great chance to repeat as the winner. But the likes of Roy Hibbert, Dwight Howard, and a rejuvenated Tyson Chandler will all make strong cases. This year, the NBA will see a first time winner take this award home, Serge Ibaka. He will likely lead the NBA in blocks once again, and his rebounding skills are only improving. On top of this, there are countless instances where he disrupts the opposing offenses rhythm with his long arms and quick feet.

 

Most Valuable Player of the year

This race is always the most fun to monitor throughout the year. And this year will be no exception. The league is full of superstars that are looking to lead their respective teams to the next level. Of course defending champ, Kevin Durant makes a strong case to repeat but Chris Paul and teammate Blake Griffin are both looking to improve on what were MVP like seasons. A dark horse in this race could be Lamarcus Aldridge. Last year in the playoffs, Aldridge looked unstoppable against the Houston Rockets. If he can find that groove again, and the Blazers continue to excel, he could make a great case. But lets be real, this award is LeBron James’ to lose. The superstar is coming off an incredible statistical season. And now you add weapons like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love around him is almost unfair. And not to mention the depth this Cleveland team has in Dion Waiters, Shawn Marion, Tristan Thompson, and Mike Miller. This will arguably be LeBron James’ best team, so what is there not to like about James winning his fifth MVP award?

 
 
 
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill | Daily Texan Staff

After LeBron James’ and Carmelo Anthony’s decisions dominated the first part of the offseason, superstar forward Kevin Love is now the biggest player on the market.

With a year remaining on his current contract, Love has been the subject trade talks between the Minnesota Timberwolves and multiple teams this summer. In the past week, a Kevin Love for No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins with Cleveland has looked very likely. However, Wiggins signing his contract with the Cavaliers on Thursday stalls that possibility. The contract prevents any trading of Wiggins for thirty days, or until August 23.

While Cleveland is still a major player for Love, Wiggins’ new contract affords other teams an opportunity to trade for Love. The two biggest contenders outside of Cleveland are the Golden State Warriors and the Chicago Bulls.

THE FAVORITE: Cleveland Cavaliers

Though a trade cannot happen for a month, an agreement between the Cavs and Timberwolves could still occur. While an extremely talented Wiggins has future star potential, LeBron James is in the prime of his career and obviously wants to continue his streak of making the NBA Finals. James and the Cavs management are well aware of the huge impact Love could have on the team’s ability to win now. James has personally reached out to Love in an attempt to recruit him. The political capital that James has over the front office, combined with the desire to play for a title-contender in Love allows Cleveland to remain the favorite.

THE THREAT: Chicago Bulls

After missing out on Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, the Bulls are still looking to solidify their chances at winning an Eastern Conference Championship. Chicago has now set its sights on acquiring Love, engaging in trade talks with the Timberwolves. In order to entice Minnesota into making a trade, Chicago’s front office will have to make an offer big enough to pull the Timberwolves away from their apparent favorite, Wiggins. Surely, Minnesota will examine every available option before dealing away Love to Cleveland, giving the Bulls an opportunity to snatch Love away.

THE DARKHORSE: The Golden State Warriors

Reports earlier in the summer indicated that Minnesota and Golden State came very close to a deal; however, the Warriors and Timberwolves never came to an agreement. If the Warriors have any regrets, they have the next thirty days to try to put together a deal that Minnesota will agree to. However, it still seems unlikely that the Warriors will trade away guard Klay Thompson, who the Timberwolves seem to be mandating before they consider a trade.  

Of course, Love could end up staying in Minnesota, but it seems unlikely at this point that the Timberwolves would keep him. Considering the Timberwolves appear to understand that they will not be able to resign Kevin Love, a trade would allow them to turn the remaining year on his contract into a future for the franchise. 

San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard was a non-factor in the first two games of the 2014 NBA Finals, but Leonard put his stamp on the series with a dominating performance in game three.

Leonard was aggressive all night as he worked his way to a career performance. Leonard put together the best shooting performance of his NBA career Tuesday night, shooting 10-13 from the field and finishing with 29 points, leading the Spurs to a 111-92 victory over the Miami Heat.

“(Leonard) was just himself,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “That’s how he’s played all year long. He’s got to be one of our better players on the court or we’re not good enough, that’s just the way it is.”
While Leonard was fantastic, the Spurs team play was phenomenal. San Antonio shot a historic 25-33 in the first half, building a 20-point lead by halftime.

But Miami wasn’t ready to give up. The Heat put on a furious rally in the third quarter, led by guard Dwyane Wade, cutting the Spurs lead to seven. While Miami continued to battle, it couldn’t find a way to overcome San Antonio’s historic performance in the half. With the Heat loss, their perfect home record in the playoffs was ruined.

“They were very aggressive, and we didn’t match that,” Miami forward LeBron James said. “They came in with a desperation that we just didn’t match. Just because it’s our fourth final doesn’t mean anything. That don’t guarantee a win.”

James was sensational in game two, but was less effective in game three as San Antonio found a way to disrupt his rhythm. Once the Spurs were able to get James off his game, the rest of the Miami offense struggled.

Now Miami must focus on getting back in the series before they head back to San Antonio.

"The problem is we are down 2-1. That's the problem,” Wade said. “We have to figure out how to even it up."

The Heat will get a chance to tie it up in game four, which occurs 8 p.m. Thursday in Miami.

LeBron James pushed the Miami Heat to a 98-96 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in game two of the NBA Finals at the AT&T Center Sunday night. 

After receiving plenty of criticism for leaving game one with cramps, James was dialed in for the second game, dominating the majority of the game. He finished the contest with 35 points and 10 boards.

The game was close throughout, as both teams traded the lead all night long. But, with under a minute and half remaining, Heat forward Chris Bosh hit a go-ahead 3 and Miami held on from there. Bosh finished with 18 points.

With the win, Miami improves to 6-0 Game 2 record when losing the first game of a series.

For the Spurs, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan led the team in a valiant effort. Parker scored 21 points and Duncan finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds. Duncan’s performance moved him into a tie with Magic Johnson for all-time playoff double-doubles with 157. But Duncan’s historic performance was not enough for San Antonio to get past Miami.

“We didn’t do it as a group,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. “We tried to do it individually, and we aren’t good enough to do that.”

As a team, San Antonio also sturggled mightily from the free throw line, converting just 12 of 20 attempts.

The NBA Finals now transition to Miami for the next two games. Game 3 is Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Photo Credit: AP Exchange | Daily Texan Staff

The San Antonio Spurs outlasted the Miami Heat, and the Texas heat, in the first game of the NBA Finals.

Temperatures at the AT&T Center in San Antonio rose into the nineties after an electrical failure caused the arena’s air conditioning to fail, as the Spurs knocked off the Heat, 110-95.

Despite the sweltering heat, the Spurs were able to overcome a nine point deficit in the fourth quarter. San Antonio rallied behind a 16-3 run to end the game. San Antonio was a scorching 14 of 16 from the field and a perfect 6 for 6 from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter.

Spurs forward Tim Duncan showed off his signature fundamental approach en route to a double-double. Duncan led the team to victory with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

“We are one step closer to four wins,” Duncan said.

Alongside Duncan’s masterful performance, San Antonio received solid play from Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili - the duo combined to score 35 points. Spurs guard Danny Green fueled the team’s comeback by hitting three big three-point shots in the fourth quarter.

Although the heat didn’t affect the San Antonio players, Miami forward LeBron James fell victim to cramping. James’ cramping became evident during the fourth quarter and got so bad his teammates had carry him off the court. The cramps James went through caused the Heat to lose any momentum they had and helped Spurs pull away.

“It felt like a punch in the gut when you see your leader limping to bench like that," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said.

While the Heat lost game one, they possibility of a three-peat certainly shouldn’t be put to rest. Since 2011, Miami is 5-0 in series’ in which it loses the first game.

Spurs and NBA officials are confident that the AT&T Center’s air conditioning issue will be fixed in time for game two.

“We think it'll be fixed come Sunday and we'll be able to play under normal conditions," NBA executive Rod Thorn said.

The Spurs and Heat will play game two Sunday at the AT&T Center at 7 pm.

New superstars are already on the rise under the names James and Wade

The revolution has begun. Forget about Miami Heat stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, two of the biggest names of basketball’s last decade and established NBA legends. Those guys are old news.

The new wave of superstars is upon us in the form of 11-year-old Zaire Wade and 9-year-old LeBron James Jr.

The elder James recently posted an Instagram video of the third-grade “Prince James” balling his way to 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, a stat line that bears a striking resemblance to one you would see next to his dad’s name. James Sr. noted his son’s Wade-like euro step next to the hashtags #HeGotNext and #StriveForGreatness.

James Jr. may be two years younger, but you can already predict a future rivalry with Wade’s son, fifth-grader Zaire. Judging by this highlight tape, Zaire Wade may already have a better shooting stroke than Dwyane Wade, and he definitely has the confident attitude.

Zaire Wade shows off some ankle-breaking dribble moves and flashy passing skills, and based on his minute and a half video, he takes an early upper hand on James Jr.  However, that two-year age difference is important, and we have a much smaller sample size to compare them. Plus, James Sr. was a later bloomer than Dwyane Wade — the elder James didn’t win his first title until season nine, while Dwyane Wade won his in year three.

One thing is for sure — if these youngsters develop into nearly the players their fathers are, we could have a pretty incredible rivalry on our hands for the next few decades.

In other recent sports pop culture news:

•    Rapper Dr. Dre spoke to the USC football team the night before their game against Stanford before the Trojans gained a huge upset win no one saw coming. The only plausible explanation is that Dr. Dre is the secret weapon for USC. If only Lane Kiffin had learned this earlier.

•    Colts quarterback Andrew Luck took the stage at an Indianapolis MGMT concert last Friday night, manning the critical cowbell instrument, erupting the crowd into a frenzy. It’s always great to see an audience that can appreciate a good cowbell.

•    J.R. Smith of the New York Knicks is contemplating deleting his Twitter account after a recent tweet-battle with Pistons guard Brandon Jennings. In response, the entire Twitter population screams “NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”

Ever since he was little, LeBron James has always counted Julius Erving as one of his biggest idols.  Even though James was only two years old when Dr. J retired, he was always inspired by the influence Erving had on the league as a whole and especially his impact on James's other favorite player, Michael Jordan.

James has modeled his game after Dr. J from a young age, and in this upcoming season, James said he plans on modeling his look after the icon as well.

Yes, we are entering NBA taboo: James said he wants to revert back to wearing short shorts.

During Erving and MJ’s primes, short shorts were a staple of the league.  Stars from Larry Bird to Magic Johnson to John Stockton rocked these bad boys for added mobility and, let's be honest, extra style points.

And all was well in the NBA.  That is, at least until 1992, when the Michigan Wolverines “Fab Five” composed of a completely freshman starting lineup, including Chris Webber and Jalen Rose, took the basketball world by storm with a new variety or “shorts” falling all the way below their knees.  The youthful rebellion of these childish athletes completely changed the course of basketball history for the worse.

Finally, more than 20 years later, it looks like James is ready to bring the league all the way back to its beautiful, thigh-filled roots.

Well, maybe not all the way back.

In a recent interview with ESPN’s Chris Broussard, James longed for the elder days of the NBA, if only for a night.

“I might bring it back, though. I might play in some small shorts this year. Pay my homage to the ’80s, to Dr. J and John Stockton,” James said.  “I don’t think it’s going to catch on, but I’m going to do it one game, maybe opening night. I can’t go all the way up [the legs], though. Athletes today are built a little differently in the legs.”

Maybe the world is not yet ready for an entire league of hulking athletic specimen in shorts above mid-thigh, but at least James is pushing in the right direction.  And based on this Instagram video, it looks like the league’s short shorts revolution is in great hands.

As we creep up on the 2013-2014 NBA season, let’s take a look at the biggest moments from the historically significant 2012-2013 NBA season. 

1. Lebron James is on his way to becoming a Top 5 player in NBA history. Even if James were to retire today, he would easily make the Top 15, boasting a resume that includes two NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVPs and four NBA MVPs. The often-maligned James has finally shut up his critics who point to his lack of mental fortitude. If scoring 37 points in the NBA Finals Game 7 will not quiet those critics, nothing ever will. Twenty-five years from now, James’ jump shot in the NBA Finals Game 7 with the score at 90-88 will aptly embody the growth and dominance of the greatest basketball player of this millennium. 

2. Tim Duncan, the best power forward ever, didn’t look 37 for most of the NBA Finals. Father Time is said to be unbeaten, but I’m not so sure about that anymore, considering Duncan has continuously led the Spurs franchise even as age creeps in. Still, the Spurs remain overlooked. The favorites listed to win the next NBA title usually include the Heat, Pacers, Bulls and Thunder. But, for most people, the “old” Spurs still come as an afterthought. 

3. There are many superstars with a lot to prove in the 2013-2014 NBA season. Aging superstars Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki must prove they can still play at an elite level after undergoing an Achilles tendon surgery and an arthroscopic surgery, respectively. Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard must overcome their terrible public images as Rose sat out all last season and Howard had problems with his team, yet again.  

4. There is no single blueprint to win in the NBA. The Spurs organization and the Heat organization couldn’t be any more different. Aside from both teams boasting a Big Three, there are no striking resemblances between these finals titans. The Spurs organization was built through the draft, looks for foreign players who fit the Spurs’ system and has a tremendously old core supported by a young supporting cast. The Heat organization was built through free agency, looks for players to complement Lebron James and features a young core with an aging supporting cast. There is no secret panacea for attaining success in the NBA other than having the utmost commitment to whatever quality system a team employs. The five front-running contenders — Heat, Spurs, Pacers, Thunder and Bulls — all have different philosophies and have taken different roads to get to the position they are in today.