Miami Heat 3-Peat? or Will the Heat be Beat?

dwade kneesThe road to a championship is a long and arduous journey filled with many pitfalls and obstacles along the way. Winning a championship is no easy task, winning two is even harder, and three titles in a row is damn near absurd to even fathom. However, when your franchise is led by three NBA All-Stars first winning three NBA championship is not as implausible as it may be for others.

After losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Finals, led by Lebron James the Miami Heat have been on a mission to win titles, not one, not two, not three… The path to two championships was far from an easy one and certainly came with a few bumps and scrapes along the way. Two titles, 264 games, Lebron back spasms, and 35 missed games by Dwayne Wade later the Heat are far from a lock to win their third consecutive NBA Title and their bitter rivals the Indiana Pacers and the Chicago Bulls smell blood.

The Heat have lost seven of their last eleven and although they are not at risk ofAnthony Davis blocks Chris Bosh finishing worst that second in the Eastern Conference, the poor play has been unacceptable. James and Chris Bosh have vocalized their frustrations publicly and have addressed the team privately, but will that fix the problem? Since a playoff berth has already been secured, should there be reason to worry?

My belief is the Heat must figure out their line up, the Heat’s recent slide should make everyone realize how indispensable Mike Miller was to their team. Although Ray Allen is the NBA leader in 3 pointers made his age has begun to show and he has become a huge liability on the defensive side of the ball. The Greg Oden reclamation project has been a huge fail, and the Heat will again have a gaping hole in the paint.

lebron and dwadeDespite these glaring deficiencies the Heat title hopes will ultimately rest in the hands of the forgotten All-Star Chris Bosh, whose magnificent play has been largely overlooked and ignored and the chemistry of the Heat’s best and brightest. King James may go down as the greatest player of all time, but titles are not won alone. Although Wade has missed a plethora of regular season games, doubting him again would be a huge mistake.

Until James and Wade figure out their timing the Heat will remain vulnerable and the excuses and poor play will continue. Although the Heat certainly have problems now, only time will tell if they find the solutions in time for the playoffs and their quest for three. Stay tuned…I know I will – A. Denmark

 

 

Miami Heat – Life After the NBA Finals

Future of the Miami Heat big 3The championship confetti in American Airlines Arena has been swept and the Miami Heat’s $100,000 champagne tab has been paid after celebrating their second NBA Championship in three attempts. Once the final siren has rung commemorating a memorable season tough decisions about the future must be answered.Do you pick up point guard Mario Chalmers $4 million dollar player option? Do you bring back the Birdman and trust that he has finally conquered his demons of drugs and chris birdman andersensubstance abuse?

Although many pundits suggest that Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade may be moved, the reality is that these perennial All-Stars are used goods that would not fetch equal market value. This season Bosh was exposed as a one dimensional pushover whose stock is at a all-time low. And after year of violent collisions in the paint Wade’s value also took a significant hit and his longevity is definitely in doubt.

Despite the $200 million dollars worth of uncertainty as long as Lebron James continuesdwayne wade bruised knee his rein as the best basketball player on the planet, the Heat will continue to be a prohibitive favorite. As long as the King maintains his rein talented veterans will happily take a pay cut in their quest for a NBA Championship to secure their own legacy.

While the big name free agents will garner most of the headlines and press clipping, veteran big men like Chris Kaman, Elton Brand, and Samuel Dalembert may hold the key to the Heat securing their third NBA Championship in South Beach.

Chris Kaman and Elton BrandLast season opposing teams brutalized the Heat with their inside power, a need for length and girth is critical to fend off all challengers. Kaman, Brand, and Dalembert have already collected their fare share of millions, which one will be willing to take the sizable pay cut to solidify the Heat’s front line? Although the euphoria of a second NBA title is still fresh as soon as the Heat address their off season concerns, talks of third NBA title can soon begin. When Heat President of Basketball of Operations, Pat Riley calls, which veteran big man will answer? Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast

Age ain’t nothing but a number: Spurs, Lakers, and Celtics gear up for one last title run #nbatitle

The stars who I grew up rooting for and against like Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are literally on their last legs and knees. Although the Miami Heat and the OKC Thunder are the prohibitive favorites to contend for an NBA title I truly believe that the San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics are being foolishly overlooked. This season promises to be a  farewell tour of sort for many of these soon-to-be first ballot Hall-of-Famers but despite their age I assure you that they will not go quietly into the night.

The Lakers garnered most of the attention when they won the coupe of the summer by signing both Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. These additions along made the Lakers an immediate favorite to challenge for the NBA title but the play of their bench will be the true deciding factor. Although he did not get a press conference holding up his Laker Jersey or a team photo with the more popular acquisitions, Antawn Jamison will be relied on heavily to provide invaluable minutes off the bench. Laker nation are already envisioning a return of the showtime Lakers but when the two of the three stars are nearly 40 and their stars having a laundry list of injuries (ankle,knees, back, fingers) the need for significant contributions from their bench will be crucial.

Although the Boston Celtics are down one amigo with Ray Allen signing with the Heat their off-season acquisitions via the draft and free agency gave them more depth on the front court and quality defenders at both guard positions. To replace the NBA’s All-Time 3-pt leader the Celtics signed Courtney Lee and Jason Terry who are great defenders and serviceable three-point marksmen in their own right. Jared Sullinger has already earned the respect of veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce,  and based of of his play in the preseason he will certainly be an invaluable contributor on the Celtics bench.

As usual the San Antonio Spurs registered little media attention as expected. After registering the best record in the NBA for two straight seasons the Spurs signed Tim Duncan to an extension and retained its core from the past two seasons turning a blind eye to free agency all together. Coach Popovich has done a masterful job of managing the minutes of his veterans (Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker) while also developing the talent of his younger stars (Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, and T-I-A-G-O Splitter)

These three teams certainly have the talent and the experience to not only contend for an NBA title, but also to win it as well. How their coaches manage the minutes of their veterans will play a huge factor in ensuring that they enter postseason play healthy and injury free. Although the young thoroughbreds in OKC and Miami may get off to a fast start, do not be surprised if you see these more veteran laden squads concede home court and in efforts to gear up for the REAL 16 GAME SEASON, known as the playoffs.

Will the Spurs register more  DNPs for their star players again this season? Will chemistry be an issue in Boston and Los Angeles? Will any of these three teams road to retirement include an NBA Championship in 2013? Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark

Operation Stop the Flop: Will the new Anti-Flop Rule Stop Bad Acting in the NBA? #nbaflopping

During 66 NBA seasons several players have attempted to try to see if their immense talents on the basketball court would translate to the big screen. Poor showings by prominent stars and future Hall of Famers have discouraged many athletes from taking the leap to the big screen out of fear of embarrassment or risking being the next ongoing punchline i.e.. ‘Shazam with Shaquille O’Neal or the recently released Thunderstruck starring Kevin Durant.

Unable to get reputable acting gigs on television or the big screen several players have garnered premiere acting roles in the NBA, Oscar worthy. Past winners for NBA’s most prestigious award, Actor of the Year aka ‘flopper of the year’ has gone to Manu Ginobili, Derek Fisher, and Jame Harden has recently garnered acclaim for this prestigious award along with several other prominent NBA veterans.

However, the NBA has recently passed a new rule that will completely do away with NBA’s Actor of the Year award all together. Yesterday the NBA’s Board of Governors and the Competition Committee  have agreed to enforce an anti-flopping rule. Fed up with player’s exaggerated falls to the floor in efforts to trick fans and referees into calling fouls the NBA will now issue fines and enforce suspensions for players found guilty of this act.

Players will get a warning the first time, then be fined $5,000 for a second violation. The fines increase to $10,000 for a third offense, $15,000 for a fourth and $30,000 for the fifth. Six or more could lead to a suspension.

The amount of flopping has become so excessive the NBA Commissioner voiced his disgust stating that flopping was ruining the NBA brand and it had no place in the game of basketball. Flopping has not only decided the outcomes of games but also has impacted the NBA playoff picture and also determined which team hoisted NBA Finals Trophy at season’s end.

Just in last year’s playoffs we witnessed 6 ft 9 280 lb two-time MVP, Lebron James make a plumb fool of himself in the playoffs with his flops against player he outweighed by nearly a 100 lbs and who can forget his fake eye poking incident which led to the Heat ending a Bulls run and ultimately winning their first round playoff series.

The NBA certainly deserve kudos for trying to improve the quality of basketball that NBA fans around the world pay to see. The NBA Players Association has already filed an appeal to the new anti-flopping penalty calling the rule an unfair labor practice.

I will be deeply intrigued to see how this new penalty be enforced, will there be a board of referees who will use instant replay to determine the validity of the foul? What will the appeals process look like? Who will be the first player to be fined for flopping? Flopping has been a reoccurring problem since the days of Bill Laimbeer and Dennis Rodman of the Detroit ‘Bad Boy’ Pistons, and who can forget the Emperor of Flop ‘ Vlade Divac of the Sacramento Kings. How will this anti-flopping rule affect the game? Stay tuned… I know I will. – A Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)

Eatdrnkslpsprtz All-Time Flop Team

PG. Derek Fisher  SG. Reggie Miller  SF. Manu Ginobili  PF. Dennis Rodman  C. Bill Laimbeer

Assessing the NBA Landscape: Title Contenders Prepare to Dethrone the Heat #nbaseason2013

It feels like only yesterday that the Miami Heat were crowned NBA Champions but the 2012-13 season is now on the horizon. This off-season many teams made costly make-overs in an effort to improve their chances of dethroning the World Champion Miami Heat.

After a dismal postseason performance the Los Angeles Lakers entered into the off-season with a lot of questions. The Lakers front office swore up and down that they were going to stand pat and would not make any major off-season moves. The Lakers clearly had other plans and made waves when they signed two-time League MVP Steve Nash and also solved their concern at center by trading for three-time defensive MVP Dwight Howard.

These two off-season moves have brought excitement back to Laker-nation with many envisioning another NBA Championship banner being hoisted in the rafters at season’s end. However, the fate of the Los Angeles Lakers will largely be determined by the knees of Kobe Bryant and how quickly his new running mates assimilate into the Laker way. Obtaining Dwight Howard and Steve Nash were costly acquisitions that will place the Lakers well above the salary cap which result in huge penalties that will only be softened by a NBA Championship.

The Oklahoma City Thunder stayed pat with the hope that their core of Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Serge Ibaka would improve with another off-season of experience. Each of their star players gained invaluable experience playing in this summer’s Olympics in London. The Thunder will also welcome back PG Eric Maynor who will provide an additional spark of the bench and also give Russell Westbrook a much-needed breather in the second half. The chemistry of the Thunder is unquestioned but may be threatened as long as the future of reigning Sixth Man of the Year James Harden remains uncertain. After making it to the NBA Finals last year the Thunder appear poised to take the next step and challenge the Miami Heat for the NBA Title.

In the Eastern Conference the Boston Celtics made so much-needed additions by acquiring Jason Terry and resigning Jeff Green which they hope will soften the blow of losing Ray Allen to their rival the Miami Heat. The Celtics also added length and depth to their front court in the NBA Draft in center Fab Melo and power forward Jared Sullinger who fell in the draft due to health concerns. Kevin Garnett’s move to center has brought a spring to his step and hopes to the fans in Boston that there is hope for one last championship run before retirement.

Not to be outdone the Miami Heat improve their chances of repeating as NBA Champions by adding shooting guard Ray Allen and his former teammate small forward Rashard Lewis. The Heat front office were able to add each of these pieces at a bargain price that did not put them over the salary cap. Although the Heat will remain considerably thin in the front-line the versatility of reigning MVP Lebron James and recently turned center Chris Bosh will continue to be a match up nightmare for the opposing teams.

When training camp opens on Oct 6th the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference and the Los  Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder will start the season as favorites to win the title. Several other teams made moves to enter the conversation such as the Brooklyn Nets who resigned Deron Williams, extended center Brook Lopez and traded for a talented scored in former Atlanta Hawk, shooting guard Joe Johnson.

Although last season was cut short due to the NBA lockout, next season promises to be one filled with excitement and uncertainty. Do the Heat repeat? Do the Thunder resign or trade James Harden? Will the San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics and their aging stars have one last run in them as they edge closer to retirement. After 82 games we will have an idea. Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)

Jeremy Lin and New York Knicks No Match Made in Heaven: Lin signs with Rockets

Like a shooting star Jeremy Lin landed into the laps of the New York Knicks bringing excitement back to Madison Square Garden. The Lin-sanity phenomenon took the entire country by storm and everyone from the avid sports fan to the unaware stay at home mom knew the story of the Harvard graduate who slept on his brother’s couch in the day and hit  game winners against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers at night.

However, just like a shooting star the Lin-sanity phenomenon quietly faded into the abyss, due to an injury to his knee Jeremy Lin sat out the rest of the season and missed the playoffs entirely. Despite his game winners and jaw dropping performances that can be viewed on youtube.com no New York Knicks fan will forget his decision not to suit up in the first round of the playoffs against the Miami Heat, after publicly admitting being at 85%. Although Lin’s decision to not play was a good business decision, I believe it was one of the main reasons why the New York Knicks declined to match the Houston Rockets $25 Million Offer Sheet.

Several pundits will say that the Knicks did not match the offer sheet because of the money, but when your billionaire owner, Jim Dolan gives you a blank check its then necessary to consider another reason. In order to play in the NBA it requires a certain amount of toughness, to play through pain, ignore injuries, and ultimately sacrifice your body for the sake of your team.

As the NBA regular season comes to a close there are no players at 100% but despite their ailments they continued to press onward, delaying surgery and recovery dates until their season has ended either in the regular season or after the playoffs. For example, Dwayne Wade was clearly operating at less than capacity but never reported the obvious choosing to wait until after he won his second NBA Championship with the Miami Heat.

In order to have SUSTAINED success in the NBA toughness is required, and Lin’s decision to not play during the playoffs clearly did not sit well with his former Knicks teammates who initially rallied around the Lin. Carmelo Anthony called Lin’s $25 million offer sheet ridiculous and JR Smith said that Lin’s contract would cause division in the locker room. These do not appear to be ringing endorsements but appear to the voices of angry and frustrated teammates, who played through their own ailments and injuries without excuse, unlike Lin who chose to wear a suit when his teammates could have used him on the floor.

At the end of the day the New York Knicks honored Jeremy Lin’s business decision with a decision of their own. Although a promising future as the Houston Rockets premier player awaits him I believe the Knicks got him Lin at his peak.With his tendencies now known and his toughness questioned everyone will be intrigued to see if Lin-sanity returns in Houston or disappears like a fading star into the dark night. Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)

Lebron James: A Ring for the King, his rise to greatness

On Thursday night the self-appointed Lebron ‘King’ James finally gained his crown by leading the Miami Heat to their second NBA Championship. Since gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated hailed as the ‘The Chosen One’ as only a sophomore in high school everyone witnessed the growing pains of a phenom striving to fulfill his promise.Thousands filled college arenas as Lebron James and his high school team traveled the country playing on national television facing traditional high school powers such as Oak Hill Academy (VA) and Germantown Academy (PA).

Despite possessing the size of Goliath and the speed of gazelle the expectations that awaited him once he shook NBA Commissioner David Stern’s hand as the first pick in the 2007 NBA Draft was far too much for his strong broad shoulders to bare alone. At the young age of 19 his network was valued at over 125 million dollars and his giant-like appearance and superior play on the court made pundits forget that he was still only a young teenage boy.

His seamless transition to the NBA instantly made fans and pundits increase their expectation due to his  freakish size and dominance on the court. As his game continued to expand the Cleveland Cavaliers record began to improve. The expectations for Lebron grew immensely after leading his hometown Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in only his third year. These heightened expectations of a cap strapped franchise unable to lure other star players to play in Cleveland made winning a title for his hometown appear nearly impossible.

Once praised and hailed for his abilities on the court the criticism that once began only as whispers grew louder with each missed jumper or due to his inability to single-handedly lead his undermanned Cavalier franchise over the Boston Celtics which included 3 first ballot Hall of Famers: Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett.

We watched as this young man struggled to carry a franchise on his shoulders in the public eye while also experiencing the same growing pains common for young adults struggling to find their identity and place in the world. This lapse in judgment manifested itself in his now infamous Decision Special where  he announced that he was taking his talents to South Beach.

After his announcement the self-appointed King immediately became villainized. He watched in shock as fans burned his jersey in the same streets where he grew up. Dumbfounded as the owner of the Cavaliers publicly criticized and questioned his leadership, selling his memorabilia for 17.41 which was the year that Revolutionary War Traitor Benedict Arnold was born.

Lebron played last year with a chip on his shoulder, full of bitterness for the city who hated him and anger at the thousands who no longer embraced him but greeted him with boos and harsh words. However, the hardships of last year and an abysmal performance against the Dallas Mavericks in his second NBA Finals causing humility which fostered a fire that helped him rediscover his love for the game he once only played for himself and not for the approval of others.

This season we bared witness to a player tortured by the mistakes from his past take steps toward reaching his full potential. In route to collecting his third MVP award Lebron became the leader that few thought he would be capable of attaining. Effectively blending his superior athleticism with a high basketball IQ often barking out the offensive sets of the opposition before they had even reached half court.

The young high school phenom has grown before our eyes, and like the Nike commercial we have all witnessed greatness grow before our eyes. Congratulations Lebron James on winning your first NBA championship, everyone can not wait to see what you will do for an encore.

Stay tuned… I know I will. – A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)