Monthly Archives: June 2012

LeBron Reminds of Puck

Following its alarming home loss in Game 5, the Heat faced elimination and LeBron James’s legacy was once again put on a fiery trial.  On Wednesday’s Inside the NBA, the final of the season, Barkley spoke to James and the camera:

LeBron James, I love watching you play. It’s time you do your thing. I’ve been telling people – they don’t believe me; they’re living in the past – it’s your team. You are the best basketball player in the world. It’s time for you to say, ‘Hey guys. Get on my back. We’re going to win Game 6. We’re going to win Game 7.’ Don’t defer to anybody. You are the best. Quit listening to all this [garbage] you hear from all these reporters. You are the man.

I don’t know if LeBron watched Inside, or heard about Barkley’s plea, but he certainly carried his team on his back.  Bill Simmons was in attendance and had this to say about it:

I don’t know what happened. I just know the shots wouldn’t stop going in. After about the fifth dagger in a row (he made 10 straight), the crowd started groaning on every make — shades of Philly’s Andrew Toney ripping our hearts out 30 years ago. If you’ve ever been in the building for one of those games, you know there isn’t a deadlier sound. He single-handedly murdered one of the giddiest Celtics crowds I can remember. Thirty points in the first half. Thirty! All with that blank look on his face. It was like watching surveillance video of a serial killer coldly dismembering a body and sticking the parts in the fridge. Only we were right there.

The 45 point, 15 rebound, 5 assist performance was probably the best I’ve ever seen in a Playoff game.  At least if we’re talking about basketball.  Minnesotans might remember similar heroics from its own GREATEST in the 1991 World Series.

Following Kirby’s untimely passing, Tim Kurkjian devoted an entire piece to that Game 6 masterpiece:

He had many games like it, but very few players have ever had a game like that in the World Series or the postseason, especially in an elimination game. It was right there with the best of Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, George Brett, Roberto Clemente, Brooks Robinson, Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson. It was the kind of unforgettable performance that elevates a player to legendary status. Puckett’s career numbers were Hall of Fame material, but Game 6 of the ’91 World Series went a long way in getting him into Cooperstown on the first ballot in 2001.

And the best part is, Puckett basically predicted it.

“I went to the clubhouse, and I gathered [everyone] up. I said, ‘Everybody together, we’re going to have a short meeting,'” Puckett said, retelling the story years later. “Everybody comes in, and I said, ‘Guys, I just have one announcement to make: You guys should jump on my back tonight. I’m going to carry us.'”

Then he did.

Every opportunity to remember GAME SIX should be taken.  It, along with the somehow-not-anticlimactic-Game 7, is the best moment in Minnesota sports history.  So there you go.

Big game tonight in Miami.

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5 Points on Game 5

* The Popovich decision to start Manu Ginobili was an interesting one.  Barkley seemed to question it, wondering if subbing out Danny Green was necessary on the Spurs home floor.  The early returns were in Pop’s favor as the Spurs jumped out to a 15-10 lead.  But when James Harden (the “other” 6th Man in this series) came in with 4:33 to go in the 1st (score now 15-12 Spurs) OKC went on a 14-6 run to end the quarter.  A similar roller coaster happened in the 3rd Quarter with Ginobili coming out WHITE HOT, leading the Spurs to a 6-point lead after beginning the half down by 8.  Again, Harden came in pretty much as Ginobili went out and the Thunder roasted the Spurs to finish that quarter, taking a 9-point lead with them into the 4th.  In my opinion, Pop should have stayed with his starting five.  Doubling down on Parker-Ginobili was too risky with Harden coming off the bench for the other side.  James Harden was, not surprisingly, a game-best +24. Continue reading

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Unrig the Lottery: The Most Obvious (And Important) Hoop Idea

Tom Benson and David Stern (Photo by The Sporting News)

The New Orleans Hornets have claimed victory in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes, winning the NBA Draft Lottery on Wednesday night despite having only a 13.7% chance of getting the first pick. Is anyone really surprised?

The NBA–run by larger than life commissioner David Stern, who presides over the lottery and announces the selection order after its determined in private–still owns the Hornets. Stern trotted out Tom Benson, who has agreed to buy the team and keep it in NOLA, to be the franchise’s face for the nationally televised lottery show, but Benson doesn’t own the team yet and probably shouldn’t have been there. The whole thing would’ve felt more genuine if Adam Silver had been there representing the Hornets. Continue reading

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Spurs-Thunder Bullets

* The Thunder are playing better defense with better schemes and better personnel.  But Danny Green missed multiple, wide-open threes last night.  If the Spurs wings don’t cash in when the offense leads them to the open corner trey, everything falls apart.  Before a meaningless three went in at the buzzer, Green was 0 for 5 from downtown in last night’s game.  If he goes 2 for 5, just under his season percentage, maybe things play out differently.  Combined with Serge Ibaka’s historical outlier performance (11 for 11 FG’s, many of them jump shots) this suggests that San Antonio might fare better in Games 5 through 6 or 7. Continue reading

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