Tag Archives: LeBron James

BTL Packers Podcast 3.8

Annnnnnd we’re back for episode 3.8 of the BTL Packers Podcast. Its a two man podcast for this one, unfortunately Kris is out sick with the flu.

In this episode we dish on:

  • What were your thoughts on the final drive?
  • Where do you rank Mason Crosby among the league’s clutch kickers?
  • Where do you rank Rodgers throw among Packers and NFL playoff moments?
  • What is your confidence level going into the Falcons game?
  • What concerns you about Atlanta? What do you feel good about?
  • NFCCG prediction.
  • Closing Topics: Aaron Rodgers all-time rank at QB as of now. Michael Jordan vs Aaron Rodgers comparison.

Pretty good discussion on the last two topics. It’s been a wild ride these last 2 months. Either way, win or lose, we’ll be back in a couple weeks. Until then, enjoy the podcast!

-MikeV87

 

 

 

 

 

The BTL NBA Podcast

BTL is back for a special edition of an NBA reaction podcast. In this episode I give Tim the keys to the car for our first ever basketball podcast as our friend Ryan joins him. They dish on everything that went on in the last 3 months; playoffs, “The Block”, Durant’s decision and the draft – my boys have you covered.

Yes football is around the corner but take some time to listen to our two NBA savants debate the best basketball topics of the summer.

 

-We will be back with Season 2 of the BTL Packers Podcast, an Emmys podcast in September and a whole lot more. Stay tuned.

 

-MikeV87

GAME 7

NBA.com

NBA.com

It’s one of the greatest words in sports, Game 7. And tonight everything in the NBA season comes to a head in Miami. I just wanted to post a few quick thoughts on tonight’s game. To give some insight into the magnitude and ramifications of tonight’s season finale. It really doesn’t get better than this in sports. You have two teams so evenly matched, if this series didn’t go seven it’d be a disappointment. Legacies, good and bad will be shaped and cemented tonight. The old guard of the Spurs vs the super team of LeBron’s Heat. If you don’t think this is the biggest NBA game of this generation, well, just keep reading.

The Spurs:

The big elephant in the room regarding Popovich and his Spurs is the finality of their Big Three; Duncan, Parker and Ginobili. Manu has hinted that this is probably his final season. If Duncan decided to hang them up, would we be really all that surprised. Popovich is the longest tenured coach in North American sports. He has guided the Spurs from their very beginning, before any of the Big 3. He has reigned in 4 championship and is on the cusp of a 5th, unprecedented in the modern era. Pop is already the greatest coach in the NBA, but a 5th championship puts him in rare air, the Phil Jackson and Red Auerbach air. This is probably Pop’s last dance with Duncan, Parker and Ginobili.

As for the Big 3 themselves, winning another ring will only cement their place as possibly the greatest Big 3 ever. Their 4 rings would eclipse Boston’s Big 3 (Bird, McHale and Parish won 3) and the Lakers Big 3 (Kareem, Magic and Worthy won 3 as well). And it seems like poetic justice that the Spurs victory would come against the modern day Big 3 of the Heat. But for what this means for Parker and Ginobili, it means ten-fold for Tim Duncan.

Duncan submitted a pantheon worthy performance in Game 6, only to come up just short. The fact that Duncan (the greatest power forward ever) can still be the go-to-guy when the Spurs are backed into a corner or when they need a score, at his age nonetheless, is remarkable. Seeing Duncan take over Game 6 at will is a testament to his greatness. Should Duncan complete the journey and dethrone LeBron and his Heat, well, you could make the argument he belongs in the discussion of the TOP 5 players of ALL TIME. Just think about that statement. Jordan, Russell, Kareem, Magic and Bird. I have no problem kicking Bird out to make room for Duncan. And sorry Kobe fans, but Duncan is better and that is coming from a Lakers fan. Kobe was the best imitation of Jordan we’ve seen since but Duncan is the greatest player of his generation win or lose tonight. But should he win, just keep in mind that you watched the greatest power forward who ever lived, come through on basketball’s grandest stage.

The Heat:

The stakes are pretty clear for the Heat, it is and always has been, their championship to lose. They’re the defending champs. They’re the team that ripped off the 2nd longest winning streak in NBA history (27 games). They have Wade and Bosh. Oh, and they also have the best player in the game at the height of his powers coming off his 4th MVP award. They said when they got together that they would win……..

They are in the midst their 3rd straight Finals trip, which when you look at teams who’ve done that historically, the list is really short. After losing to the Mavericks in 2011, we only forgave the Heat and LeBron because they handled business the very next year with OKC. But if they were to lose this series (and in reality there is no shame in falling to Pop and the Big 3), they would’ve have lost 2 of their 3 Finals trips. Not exactly a mark of excellence or what LeBron promised. Which brings me to my key point of the article.

LeBron

As much as basketball is a team game and as much as LeBron has been an embodiment of that. The world is watching him and only him. His legacy like it or not is tied to this game. When all is said and done in LBJ’s career, this game makes the first paragraph, win or lose. I was a LeBron hater early on but then Game 6 in Boston happened, LeBron ascended to another level of basketball greatness. I began to appreciate what he was doing, not rooting for him to fail. And this whole year has been a coronation of his skills, his talent and his legacy. The 27 game win streak is a part of that. The incredible play on both ends of the floor this postseason is apart of that. But if he loses this game, and as I said before, there is no shame in that, it will mark a cornerstone in James’ career. A cornerstone that he may not recover from.

What he has had to endure in his NBA life, no one in the sporting world has come close to. Especially in the last 3 years, and yes, he brought that onto himself with The Decision. But he has been scrutinized, poked and prodded more than any athlete in history. This Game 7 will shape and define his career. Win and he makes good on the multiple championships he promised. Lose, and well, he might be coined this generations Wilt Chamberlain while Duncan is the Bill Russell. He’s the game’s greatest player, he’s been blessed with the greatest skill-set of any basketball player and he has a chance to finally, once and for all silence the haters. This is his moment, his Game 7, his stage.

So when you watch tonight’s game, appreciate it. It will be awhile till an NBA Finals is decided by a Game 7. It will be awhile till this amount of Hall of Fame talent is duking it out for the Larry O’Brien trophy. Where the careers of two of the greatest to ever play are decided by 48 minutes of basketball. As much as it is Spurs vs Heat. It really is Duncan vs LeBron. I really don’t care who wins, I just want the magic that make sports so great to happen tonight. The magic that made Game 6 one of the greatest Finals games ever. Appreciate tonight, because it might be a generation before we see a single NBA game have stakes this high for everyone involved.

But what else would you expect from a Game 7.

MikeV87

Follow Up to LeBron James

This follows up right on the heels of my LeBron post. The podcast took place yesterday 3/25/13, with two of the most renown basketball minds of our time, Bill Simmons and Bob Ryan. Check this podcast out as they discuss the historical relevance of the Miami Heat’s winning streak, LeBron’s play and his place in NBA history. You can go to Grantland.com or just click the link below. A must listen for any basketball fan.

http://espn.go.com/espnradio/grantland/player?id=9097274

-MikeV87

Appreciating Greatness

LeBron James, probably the most scrutinized athlete of all time. He came up right in the advent of social media. He was heaped praise and called “The Chosen One”. He donned the #23 and copied Jordan’s chalk toss before games. We always wondered what James’ ceiling was as a professional. Was he going to revolutionize the game by his unmatched skill set? Could he leave a trail of highlights on YouTube filled with dunks, ally-oops and scoring barrages? Or was he going to be a “champions’ champion” and follow in the steps of  Russell and Jordan? Perhaps he could meet all the above and be considered the greatest of all-time.

But expectations don’t matter, results do. And right now we are seeing a stretch from LeBron that NBA has never seen before. He is right smack in the middle of his “prime”, at the “height of his powers”, LeBron’s “Sistine Chapel” etc. Athletes usually progress to the point where everything comes together and the game slows down for them. And right now, LeBron is tapping into every gift he was blessed with.

In the early going LeBron met the hype but as his star rose to the top of the NBA chain, people expected the total package. And while he delivered on 75% of that. He didn’t have the elusive ring during his Cleveland years. After a year of ranking #1 on “America’s Most Hated Athlete on the Most Hated Team” list, LeBron delivered on his potential in 2012 and captured the Larry O’Brian Trophy. While his raw numbers during the regular season look practically identical if you compare 2011 to 2012. It’s the post-season that matters. Here’s a look at his post-season stats from those two years.

POSTSEASON AVERAGES
SEASON TEAM GP GS MIN FGM-A FG% 3PM-A 3P% FTM-A FT% OR DR REB AST BLK STL PF TO PTS
’10-’11 21 21 43.9 8.3-17.8 .466 1.4-4.0 .353 5.7-7.4 .763 1.6 6.8 8.4 5.9 1.2 1.7 2.7 3.1 23.7
’11-’12 23 23 42.7 10.9-21.8 .500 1.0-3.7 .259 7.5-10.2 .739 2.4 7.4 9.7 5.6 0.7 1.9 2.0 3.5 30.3

All stats from espn.com

LeBron upped his FG%, Rebounding and scoring significantly during the 2012 post-season run. The main complaint of LBJ’s game before 2012 was that he didn’t use his gifts to the fullest extent; i.e. getting into the paint, posting up on the block and being the lead dog. All that came to a head last year in Game 6 of the Eastern Finals in Boston. Facing elimination against their hated rivals and enduring a series worth of trash-talk from Pierce and Garnett (they questioned his game, his toughness and his manhood), something snapped with LeBron, they pushed him too far. He went on to deliver a pantheon worthy performance in an ice-cold, assassin-like manner. I could describe it but you can just watch for yourself:

Die hard Celtics fan Bill Simmons described this performance from LBJ, “For 4 quarters he played like a rich-man’s version of the 5th best player of all-time”. Simmons obviously referring to the legend himself, Larry Bird. Let that line sink in just a little bit…….. James put it all together in that game and did whatever he wanted. He scored at will and from anywhere; outside, in the paint and on the block. He defended 4 different positions at an elite level. And when he wasn’t scoring he was crashing the boards (15reb) and getting his teammates involved. I considered this the launching point in James’ historic run.

We all know what followed, James continued his pace and captured his first title in 5 games. You can take a closer look at some advanced stats that indicate his immeasurable impact during the 2012 playoffs here:

http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/j/jamesle01.html#playoffs_advanced

All across the board James rose his level of play. His PER efficiency jumped from 23.7 in 11′ to 30.3 in 12′ (anything over 30 is considered extraordinary). All his FG% went up across the board; his defensive rebounding %, assist % and even win shares rose (wins a player is worth to his team). For basketball metric junkies, this improvement correlates to the difference in a 2011 Finals loss and the 2012 Finals championship. Either James delivered or the Heat would fail.

Fast forward to 2013 and the Heat look unstoppable with their 26 game win streak and counting. And if it weren’t already possible, LeBron took his game, more importantly his efficiency, to an even higher level. He became the first player in NBA history to score 30 plus points and shoot higher then 60% in 6 straight games. He also is logging the most minutes of any other player in the league. All the while continuing to lead the team in scoring  (26.7), rebounding (8.2) and assists (7.3). He is also the teams and league’s best on-ball defender (plays 4 different positions). And leads the league in PER efficiency at 31.3. His case for 2013 League MVP is air-tight (already won it 3 times). He’s the league’s best player and it’s not even close, sorry Kevin Durant fans. His team is inching closer and closer to one the most hallowed basketball streaks, the 1971-1972 Lakers 33 game win streak. If anyone one team and player can beat that streak, it deserves to be LeBron and his Heat. His level of play has ignited something special, and I for one am enjoying the ride.

He’s embraced that pressure that once crumbled him. He’s in a zone that will probably continue for the next year or so. When an athlete puts it all together, they usually go on a 18- 24 month tear where they keep raising the level of play. He’s slowly but surely tapping into every skill set and maximizing it to his fullest potential. We don’t know for sure when his peak will officially end. Sometimes it can creep up on you like a thief in the night, Tiger Woods anyone? I know there are still LeBron haters, believe me I was one of them, but he has won me over. And for nearly a year now, I just sit back and continue to be amazed at what this specimen can do on the court. What his ceiling is, I don’t know. But I sure as hell appreciate what I’m seeing.

We won’t see someone put it all together like this for at least another 15-20 years, maybe longer is he keeps this up. In the end, he’s not Russell, Kobe, Jordan or Magic. He’s LeBron and that will mean something 40 years from now. Someday I’ll tell some young fan that I saw LeBron James play. 40 years from now, I’ll tell them I saw greatness.

-MikeV87