June 22nd, 2015
In the end, it wasn’t all that surprising. The NBA’s best team during the regular season, the Golden State Warriors, were the 2015 NBA Champions. If you ask Steve Kerr what the most important decision he made was that led to the title, I’m sure he’ll tell you that it was turning down the Knicks job. Props to Mark Jackson for enduring a season of broadcasting his former employers games, and become a championship squad right in front of him. I’m sure he had his vomit bag handy during game 6. As well as Andre Iguodola played, poor choice selecting him as the MVP. It should have gone to Steph Curry. He hit 40 more playoff 3’s than anybody in history, and he was the reason Iggy got all those open looks. I guess Iggy “locked down” Lebron to the point where he couldn’t score 50, and had to settle for 35 and a triple double every game. In any case, the Warriors are going to be contenders for the next few years, even in a stacked Western Conference.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is receiving more support than Lebron James did from his teammates in the NBA Finals. I can just hear Delonte West asking Lebron: “what kind of fucked up Fathers Day gift is this?” As much fun as it can be to pile on superstars because you hate them, Lebron was amazing, and you’re a moron if you think otherwise. This is the best league in the world, and one player nearly beat 5. That’s how good Lebron was. If the Cavs bring this team back next year, and they are healthy, they can and should win the NBA championship. As for his relationship with David Blatt, you can criticize him for that. Lebron has no respect for the man, and that could be the only real hinderance to the Cavs winning a title in the future. Frankly, if you have a superstar like Lebron, you need to make sure you have a coach who commands respect, and Blatt isn’t one that does. Lebron has never had an elite coach that he has been forced to listen to like Jordan, Kobe, Magic, or Duncan had. Maybe that’s what’s really preventing him from truly being one of the best ever. As if it can’t get any worse for Cleveland, Browns training camp opens up in a few weeks.
On to the NBA draft, which is just 4 days away. Laker fans haven’t been this excited since Mike D’Antoni was fired last year. There still is some chatter regarding who the Lakers should take with the #2 pick, which will most likely be a choice between Jahlil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell. Selecting Okafor is the correct choice, and nobody should even think twice. Skilled big men are rare, and for decades, have been a critical ingredient for championship success. Sure, some of you will try to convince yourself that “it’s a point guard league”, and that the NBA champions are built around a point guard. That may be true, but they are also the first team since the Isaiah Thomas Pistons of 1990 that won a title while being constructed in such a way. The Warriors also happen have the best shooting backcourt in NBA history. Okafor has won at every level, been an elite player at every level he’s played at, and can continue to be elite in the NBA. There’s a D’Angelo Russell available in the draft every year. There isn’t a Jahlil Okafor, who can continue the tradition of great Laker big men.
Then there’s the Clippers, who made some headlines of their own last week. First, they agreed to swap garbage with the Charlotte Hornets, trading Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes for Lance Stephenson. This is a perfect fit. Stephenson blew in Lebron’s ear in the Eastern Conference finals. If anyone knows about blowing in the playoffs, it’s the Clippers. The Clipps don’t have many options to improve their roster, so they had to take a chance on Stepehnson, and ultimately, it’s a pretty low risk move considering they can cut ties with him next year if it doesn’t work out. He was dismal last year with the Hornets, but he can’t make them much worse than they already are at the small forward position. What is much worse however, are those nasty new uniforms the Clippers unveiled. Who the hell approved this? It’s like Steve Ballmer went to Walmart and bought some jersey design software from the $5 bin. I’m not sure why they didn’t get a sense this was going to be the reaction when the design leaked on the internet weeks ago, and just squashed the idea. Straight garbage.
Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks, who won won their 3rd Stanley Cup Championship in 6 years. That’s a feat that would take the Cubs and the Bears 600 years to accomplish. The NHL hasn’t exactly been a league of parity for the last 5 years like many people characterize it. The league has mostly been dominated by the Blackhawks, who may not be a true dynasty (3 titles in a row, or 3 out of 4), but as close as you’ll come to one in the NHL’s salary cap era. Sorry LA, you’ve won two cups in four years, but right now, the Hawks are the team of the decade. Much like the Kings, they’ve played a lot of playoff hockey the last 5 years, but their style of play is all about speed, skill, and playing an uptempo style. That style is much more conducive to long-term success, unlike LA, who’s style is based on puck possession and physical play, that has worn them out to the point of missing the playoffs. Then again, you can only play that style when you have world class players like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. They may not be the Oilers or Islanders of the 1980’s, but the Hawks are a modern day powerhouse with staying power. Even this guy thinks so….
I guess the Dodgers got tired of taking a beating from the Giants yesterday, and finally fought back to salvage a game in their 3 game set. Apparently nobody has told Don Mattingly that he’s supposed to beat his division rival, because in only 1 of the 4 series against the Giants this season, both Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke have started. Despite hanging onto first place, does anybody actually believe these guys are really contenders? Their starters can’t get past the 5th or 6th inning, their middle-relief is made up of a bunch of failed cast-offs that are still failing, their shortstop is barely hitting over .200, and they keep getting destroyed by the Giants and Cardinals. This team was supposed to be better constructed than last season, but I would argue that it’s even worse off against the elite teams. Changes better be coming before July 31st, or else it will be another year further from the last title in 1988.
I was quite surprised to learn that the St. Louis Cardinals of all teams are being accused of stealing information from the Houston Astros. This is the Cardinals we are talking about. What happened to “the Cardinal way”? I’m sure when they hacked into the Astros computer, it was done in an “ethical” way right? Let’s not loose our minds here folks. This has nothing to do with how the Cardinals handle their business on the field, and there’s no reason to believe they are doing anything like stealing signs. This is simply about some front office executives getting back at former Cards General Manager Jeffrey Luhnow. The Simpsons predicted this would happen long ago….
The Angels just can’t get it going. They had a chance to make up some ground on the Astros last week, but settled for a split with the lowly D’Backs, and then lost two of three to the A’s. Now Houston is coming to town for an important 3 game set. Mike Trout and Albert Pujols are in great form, but nobody else is. One day their starting pitching looks great, but the rest of their lineup can’t produce. The next day their lineup explodes, but the pitching stinks. The only thing consistent about this team is that they are consistently inconsistent. Speaking of Angels, Mike Trout is currently the only non Kansas City Royal that is projected to start for the American League in this years all-star game. It turns out only people in Kansas City care about the all-star game. This is a spectacular reflection on how unpopular baseball has become nationally.
That 3,000th hit by A-Rod was about as awkward as Caitlyn Jenner on Father’s Day. The Yankees and their fans handled it with class and grace, despite the fact we know A-Roid is was a PED user. Still, it would be foolish to pretend that a player like A-Rod isn’t one of the greatest players of his generation. Cheating is doing something that gives you an unfair advantage over everyone else. You don’t have an unfair advantage when everyone around you, including the pitchers, are cheating. He was one of the greatest in an era of steroid users. However, he was great before the drugs, and great after the drugs as well. My only real knock on A-Rod is that for many years, he seemed to abandon his greatness in the playoffs. Players like A-Rod should be recognized for what they accomplished, and even put into the Hall of Fame. You can’t tell the story of baseball without the steroid era, and he’s a big part of it.
Finally, what a choke job by Dustin Johnson at the U.S. Open yesterday. Jordan Spieth is kind of like a young Tiger Woods, except with morals and virtues. The coverage of the event was terrible. I’d like to thank Fox for giving us a split screen to see Jason Day walk from the green to the tee box. It’s like the network was trying to give us vertigo with their coverage. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods is so screwed up in the head right now that he would probably struggle playing minature golf at an 8 year olds birthday party. It took a few minutes but Dustin Johnson is now over it…..