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Lebron James, A Champion Revisited

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jun 25, 2012

A quick upfront disclaimer here. Every image in this post is an affiliate product, which means if you click on it you’ll be taken to a website where, if you like what you see and buy it, or anything else on that site, I’ll earn money from. Hey, at least I’m telling you about it, and it’s Lebron after all.

LeBron James, James Harden, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, NBA Finals Game 4, 6/19/2012

That would be Lebron James, the MVP of the latest NBA Championship Series won by the Miami Heat in 5 games over the Oklahoma City Thunder. I felt so good for him, as I was cheering for Miami to win this series as kind of a “take that” at Cleveland and everyone else who was hating on Lebron for being, well, Lebron.

If you click on that link about you’ll see that I wrote about him last year around this same time, wondering why there’s so much hate for the kid from so many quarters, and even this year there was a lot of that.

It’s with some relief that it seems that a lot of that hate is dissipating now, even from seasoned journalists who are finally owning up to the fact that maybe their beliefs were a bit off about this guy. When all is said and done Lebron has been nothing but a guy who’s tried to please others, tried to do the right thing, was one of the best players in the league but had to learn that, when it comes to crunch time he just has to be the man and get it done.

Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Quarterfinals Game 1, 4/28/2012

He did that very well in both this series and in the last two games of the Boston series where there was pretty much nothing anyone could do to stop him and nothing anyone could do to score on him when he decided to shut them down. Let’s see, who’s that guy people were trying to compare him to last year? Well, he’s still not that guy, and he’s not Kobe Bryant either, but he’s finally on his way to being legitimately seen in that rarefied air.

See, I like to think I know a jerk when I see a jerk. Terrell Owens is a jerk. Mike Tyson was a jerk. Some people say Barry Bonds was a jerk; I think Barry just wanted to be left alone. I tend to believe that how a person acts in regular life is more a story of what they are than how they act when still in “athlete” mode. We all have our own criteria.

Lebron James has never been a jerk on the court, and he’s never been a jerk off the court. As I was saying to someone a couple of days ago, even after he left Cleveland he’s gone back to help with fundraising for one thing or another because he still sees that as home. Does that sound like a jerk?


Shop Miami Heat 2012 NBA Champions gear at Fanatics!

I’m really glad Miami won since neither the Lakers or the Knicks could get it done. And I have one last thing to say, that being that the players on the Oklahoma team (man, even a few years down the road it seems strange that a professional basketball team is in Oklahoma) were the classiest group of guys I’ve ever seen after losing a championship. I was never so proud of a bunch of young guys stepping up and being real men, unlike some of the players on the Boston Celtics (hate them) team after losing to Miami in the Eastern Conference finals. The cream always comes to the top.

Overall, my favorite player of all time is still Wilt Chamberlain, my favorite player right now is still Kobe, but I’ve got nothing but love for Lebron’s game and his character; I gotcha back ‘Bron! 🙂
 

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My Thoughts On Joe Frazier

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Nov 9, 2011

I hated Joe Frazier.

It was 1971, and I knew that Muhammad Ali was going to be fighting Joe Frazier. Ali was one of my idols; he’s still one of my idols. I was 11 years old, had just moved to a new place 3 months earlier and was struggling to get used to it, and one of my heroes was going to prove that he’d been wronged by so many people years earlier. I didn’t know as much about that, but I did know that Ali was my guy; he was my dad’s guy as well.

Back then I had a couple of transistor radios, and I listened to the play-by-play of the fight from New York City. What would happen is that you’d listen to a lot of talk, then after the round was over someone would tell you what happened and give you his opinion on who won the round. Early on it was all Ali, and I was ecstatic. Then things seemed to have changed, and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Then I heard the news – Frazier knocks Ali down in the 15th and wins the decision.

I was bitter. A year later they put the fight on ABC and I thought Ali had won, I hated Frazier that much. But it was what it was, and I knew Ali would get him back.

However, there was this little matter of Frazier – Foreman, and as I saw that fith I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Foreman actually looked like he lifted Frazier off the ground; it was frightening. That day I felt sorry for Frazier, scared for Ali because I knew he’d be getting his shot against Foreman, and I was confused.

Then Ali and Frazier fought again, and it was a tough battle that saw Ali win. Then Ali goes and beats Foreman and it was time for the Thrilla in Manila. My support for Ali couldn’t be questioned; the “Gorilla”, as Ali had named Frazier, had to go down. I was lucky to have HBO in 1976 and we got to watch the fight live. What an epic battle, ranked as one of the top fights in history, and Ali won in 14 after Frazier’s corner refused to let him come out for the last round.

At the end of that fight I was elated for Ali but had a new appreciation for Joe Frazier. This man, who never weighed more than 208 pounds for any of his fights, had shown a lot of dignity, even in his 4 losses, two to Ali and two to Foreman. He wasn’t a bad man; not at all. Back then, there were all these social issues that always surrounded Ali, and Frazier got caught up in them. I saw him as a decent man, and couldn’t hate him anymore.

Over the years after he finally retired I saw a guy fighting to find some dignity because of the taunting that Ali had put him through. I learned of all the help Frazier gave Ali and how he always felt betrayed by Ali. He never could figure out that without Ali their fights might not have gotten as much interest and money as they did. I felt bad for that but I also recognized how hurtful it had to be for a black man to have another black man relate him to a gorilla; I wouldn’t have liked that either.

Joe Frazier passed away a couple of days ago of liver cancer. Like the dignified guy he always had been, word didn’t get out until he was in hospice, and he wasn’t there long. People said they’d give him their liver, but of course it doesn’t work that way. Just like that Frazier was gone at age 67. Muhammad Ali said this: “The world has lost a great champion. I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration. My sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones.”

Joe Frazier earned a lot more respect in retirement than he did during his boxing career, and in retrospect that’s a shame. But that’s what the 70’s were like. And now we’re dealing with the 2010’s. And we’ve lost a good guy; best to you Joe.
 

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The Hate For LeBron? My Take

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jun 15, 2011

About two weeks ago I wrote a post titled Why LeBron Isn’t Yet Michael Jordan. I tried to make it clear in that post that I wasn’t demeaning anything LeBron James has done to this point, only that comparing him to Michael Jordan right now was not only unfair, but not even close to realistic. At that time, I had hoped I wouldn’t have to write this particular post, but since Miami lost and people feel the need to pile it on his shoulders I felt I just had to have my say on this entire matter.

Man, where is this hate coming from? This man hasn’t been caught doing drugs or drinking. He hasn’t been caught beating women, cheating on women or having multiple babies by multiple women. He hasn’t said a bad thing about anyone that hasn’t said a bad thing about him first. He didn’t get caught in some kind of scandal; he hasn’t broken any laws.

What did he do that made so many people mad? He uttered one phrase: “I’m taking my talents to Miami.” Really, that’s it? That’s the thing worth beating him up about? Oh yeah, he did it on national TV, ESPN to be exact, in a hour long show. Ooohhh, the humanity!

Sheesh people, let’s get a life. Let’s look at some reality here. So Cleveland fans were upset; who cares? What did he do to the rest of the league? So he decided to join two other young superstars to try to win a championship. So did Kevin Garnett when he teamed with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Anyone ever heard the name Earl Monroe, who had to leave Washington for the NY Knicks to play with 4 other future Hall of Famers to win his championship (okay, one of those guys made it as a coach, but he’s still in, or will be)? Did people beat up on Karl Malone, who left Utah to go to the LA Lakers to try to win his championship with Shaq and Kobe? For that matter did people beat up on Charles Barkley, who’s been beating up on LeBron James, for trying to do the same thing when he went to Phoenix many years ago to join Clyde Drexler and Kevin Johnson in trying to win a championship?

Does anyone care that it was ESPN that came up with the idea of doing the special in the first place, and yet all these ESPN analysts keep beating up on him instead of their own network? Does anyone care that doing that show raised almost $3 million for charity? Does anyone care that he left employment at a place he didn’t want to be anymore (something many of us have done) to go take another job with a pay cut (something none of us would have done)? Are people really so jealous and vain that they would deny a 25-year old (yes, by the way he’s still only 25) the opportunity to try to improve his lot?

No, I’m not hating on LeBron James now or ever, unless he does something illegal or really, really stupid. So he didn’t win this year; how many superstars have lost more than once before finally winning it all? How many of us have former employers dumping on us publicly because we left their employ, and would we like it if it happened to us? For that matter look at the governor of the state dumping on him; how childish is that? This man put your state on the map for something other than being a cesspool and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (yeah, I said it); just asking, but where did Cleveland basketball end up this year? For that matter where did either of your football teams end up? And how do you turn your back on someone that brought his all to you for 10 years of his life? Shame on you.

Yeah, I know, this post won’t necessarily be popular, and it’s kind of a deviation from the norm, but come on folks. Isn’t this what we paid for when free agency was made legal? In the scope of things is this really worth the derision?

Go on with your bad self, LeBron. So you didn’t win; I’m sure you will. And to keep it all honest, I’ll still be pulling for the Lakers as my main team, and I’ll be pulling for the Knicks as my team that’s in your division. But if those two teams can’t win, then you’re allowed to take the Heat to the top.

Just don’t beat my teams. 🙂

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Why LeBron Isn’t Yet Michael Jordan

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jun 5, 2011

I’ll just state this up front; I’m pulling for the Miami Heat to beat the Dallas Mavericks in this year’s NBA championship. I’m doing so for quite a few reasons, but I’m going to withhold that for now because it’s not the topic of this rather quick post; at least it’s planned on being a quick post.

Last week Scottie Pippen, the Hall of Famer that won 6 championships with Michael Jordan and wouldn’t have won a single thing without him (or been in the Hall of Fame without him) came out with what was one of the most idiotic statements one player has ever said about another player, past or present. He stated that LeBron James now is a better player than Michael Jordan ever was, and history would back that statement up.

Now, it’s not a secret to many people that pay attention to professional basketball that Pippen has always felt like the odd man out. He’s always felt like he should have gotten equal acclaim to Jordan, kind of like Kobe Bryant felt when he was teamed with Shaquille O’Neal. The problem here is that Pippen wasn’t even Kobe. Pippen had his chance in two years to help his team win a championship, and instead one of those years he refused to go back into the game when it was on the line, jealous of another player on the team from Europe. Kobe went on to win championships without Shaq, proving his legacy.

So, if LeBron as good as Jordan was? Not even close. He’s very good, and no one can take that away from him, but come on, let’s be realistic. In their prime, if you put Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, who wasn’t a scorer, against LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, who do you think would win? Is there anyone who really believes a Michael Jordan-led team would have lost a basketball game they were 15 points up in with just over 5 minutes to play? Does anyone think that Michael Jordan would have stayed outside chucking up 3-pointers instead of driving the ball into the middle and at least getting fouled so his team would at least keep scoring some points to offset whatever the other team was doing?

LeBron James is good; really good. So is Dwayne Wade. Michael was good AND smart. Michael Jordan got better every single year; there were few players in history as mentally tough and talented as this guy. And I don’t even have him as my top NBA player of all time; that would go to Wilt Chamberlain, who was also my favorite basketball player of all time. It’s hard to compare people who played different positions like this, but Wilt made the NBA change rules; heck, Wilt made college basketball change rules. Wilt averaged more than 50 points a game one year; he averaged more than 25 rebounds a game one year. Wilt took teams without stars close to championship games; Bill Russell lead teams with stars to championships. But Wilt was the man.

Jordan was the second man. In essence, Jordan led his team to 6 championships in a row if we ignore the two years he went off to play basketball. Jordan made sure his team won when it counted. He knew he was talented, but he also knew he needed to be more. Even if LeBron helps his team win the championship this year, which I hope he does, he doesn’t knock Jordan off the pedestal. Not until he learns to take over when his team is reeling, get to the foul line and keep his team from collapsing down the stretch.

Enough said; okay, it wasn’t as short as I thought it might be. lol
 

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My NCAA Tournament Picks

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Mar 19, 2009

My favorite college basketball team, the Syracuse University Orange, is back in the NCAA tournament after a two year absence, which shouldn’t have happened to begin with but I’m going to let bygones be bygones only because the team got some real love this time from the tournament committee by awarding Syracuse the #3 seed in the South Regional, after a phenomenal run in the Big East tournament last weekend.

Since my team is back in, this is once again my favorite time of the year. I have picked my bracket, although, since I work alone and I don’t have a crew to “play with’, my bracket is only for myself, but I’m sharing parts of it here. And I’m an unabashed fan, so I’ll tell you now that I’ve picked my team to win it all. I figure that if I don’t believe in my team, then why should I expect anyone else to believe in my team. The other side of this is, when Syracuse has played well this year, they’ve been able to beat anyone, and when they had their one bad period this year, two of the major players had injuries. So, they’re easily as capable as any other team to go all the way.

Since President Obama has given his top eight picks, including picking North Carolina to beat Syracuse to make it into the final four (well, no one’s perfect), I’m going to give mine. If you don’t follow basketball, this isn’t for you, so stop reading now. If you do, and of course you want to debate it, I’m ready for a great sports conversation.

Here we are:

Midwest Regional – Louisville and Michigan St.

West Regional – Connecticut and Missouri

East Regional – Xavier and Duke

South Regional – North Carolina and Syracuse

Final Four – Louisville, Connecticut, Duke, Syracuse

Championship Game – Louisville and Syracuse

Champs – Syracuse!!! Go Orange!!!

That’s the easy part. Let me explain my final four. First, Louisville is the hottest team in basketball right now, with a press and enough players to wear almost anyone down in the second half who’s not used to it. The only team in their bracket who’s seen that kind of pressure is West Virginia, and I have them losing to Michigan State. No matter; Louisville won’t lose this game.

Next, Connecticut not only has a pretty deep team, but they have a 7’3″ monster in the middle that very few teams know how to play against. It took Syracuse six overtimes to knock them out of the Big East Tournament, and that was finally after Thabeet fouled out. I have Memphis losing to Missouri, which is a good thing because I think Missouri is the only team that would have a legitimate shot at knocking off Connecticut in the regional finals; just not gonna happen, though.

Duke won the ACC tournament, which means they’re on a roll, as usual, at the right time of the year. Pittsburgh is the heavy favorite here, but they seem to run as well as Blair stays out of foul trouble; I give it the first two games, and they tank in the final sixteen against Xavier. Duke beats Xavier if they make it to the regional final, but they’ll have to see if they can stop Villanova, which can put points up on almost anyone. I think Duke plays enough defense to do it, but if they don’t, Villanova and Xavier could be fun to watch.

Syracuse wins; enough said. 🙂

Let the games begin, but at least my picks are out there, so no one can say I didn’t have the guts to make these predictions ahead of time. And if you happen to like Syracuse, and you see all those links above (no lines, but the colors), click on some; you might like what you see. 😉