Monday, June 13, 2011

Thoughts on Lebron.

No matter what Lebron said after losing Game 6, it was going to be scrutinized, criticized and heavily broadcast. There was probably no one thing that he could have said that would satisfy everyone. Inevitably, someone would have taken offense to it, would have found it insincere or otherwise lacking. But what he did say seems to be to be one of the worst paths he could have taken:  “They have to wake up and have the same life that they had before they woke up today … the same personal problems,” James said. “I’m going to continue to live the way that I want to live. … But they have to get back to the real world at some point.” 

Yes. Lebron, you're right. This morning I woke up, and I'm not a multimillionaire like you. I'm not famous. I'm entering grad school next year and loan payments loom in my horizon and will continue to do so for years. But trust me- I'd rather have my mundane, "real world" problems any day, when I think about the problems he has. His problems- that he made himself such a polarizing figure that millions of people around the world waited up to see the Heat lose, to see him wither in the spotlight and fail once again- these are not real world problems. They're worse- they are attacks on his character. His comments reeked of immaturity, poor sportsmanship and, most concerning, of delusion. Lebron fancies himself a victim. He doesn't understand why people are so fixated on seeing him lose, and why we can't all move on from "The Decision." He thinks he's a victim because he's misunderstood and unfairly attacked. I think he's a victim, but for other reasons. This is a man who has been told he's king of the world since freshman year of high school. The super stardom, the millions of dollars and the adoring fans, have cemented this title in his mind. This is not a normal psyche, and it is a stain of our society, that we have allowed our priorities to run so wildly awry. 

I don't expect Lebron to be perfect- and I would never want him to be. I want him to be human. He has an enormous, undeniable talent. If he could find the courage to step outside of his bubble and in to the real world that he referenced, I think he could play to his full potential. In the real world, we make mistakes... And Lebron, in his bubble of hubris, also makes mistakes, but refuses to acknowledge them. If he could find the courage to own up to his shortcomings and missteps, I think that he could overcome them and evolve. Out here in the real world, when people make mistakes, it's not the end all be all. Mistakes and transgressions are inevitable, and they allow us to learn, progress and grow, so that we don't make the same ones in the future. The mark of a mature, thoughtful person is the ability to admit you've made a mistake and set a plan in place for how to not make the same one again. Right now, Lebron is seemingly incapable of doing that, and that's a bad thing for Lebron the superstar, and a worse thing for Lebron James, the 27 year old man. He insists on playing the martyr, in perpetual denial- anything to take the blame and negative off of him, and on to those around him. His post game comments sounded like something I'd expect from one of the children I work at an after school with. 

Plenty of great players failed to win championships: Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller, and Dominique Wilkins, for example. It is a fact that looms over them, but it is not used as leverage against them, the way that it currently is against Lebron. When Dirk won last night, when Jason Kidd won last night, I know that I was far from alone in feeling like the victory was hard fought and well deserved. Regardless of if Lebron ever wins a title, I will probably never be a fan, but I hope that he can evolve as a basketball player to the point where I can one day say he deserved to win. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ciara and Amar'e go to the beach. Prepare to be jealous of the level of physical fitness on display.

The couple was spotted together on South Beach.
If you want to know how Ciara stays so fit, she recently dished about her secrets here. She says that she stays away from eating salt and goes to the gym for an hour 5 to 6 times a week. Is it really that simple?

Friday, May 13, 2011

All is not lost.

Maybe it's a cop out, but after the Celtics lost in Miami and the series was over, I felt an odd sense of relief. Make no mistake about it: for their fight, pride and bravery, I applaud them, but in the hours leading up to Game 5, I found myself encased in doubt. Not doubt about whether or not the Celtics possessed the talent to beat the Heat, because they certainly do- but doubt about if the fight was even with it anymore. I initially argued that, though overcoming a 3-1 deficit was unlikely, it was still worth it to go out and scrap. Miami would be inconvenienced because they'd have to come back to Boston and play again, and they'd be forced to put forth effort that they'd surely rather save up for the next round. But watching Rondo, his face usually a carefully measured mask of stoicism, breathless and overcome by pain, and looking down the rest of the roster and watching as the names of people injury ridden piled up to unbelievable, ridiculous levels, it all just seemed like too much. This team plays beautiful, fluid and hard fought basketball and watching them reduced to playing a cheap version of their real game became to much for me. But again- in playing to the tilt and in never giving up the fight, they displayed one of the things that I love most about them: a unified front, full of heart, dedicated to winning.

And I think they can still do it. Yes, I think there's hope for next year. As it became clearer that the Celtics were going to lose game 5, Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson dragged on and on, talking about how the torch of the Eastern Conference was being passed from Boston to Miami. I refuse to endorse that sentiment. I truly believe that this team, if properly tweaked, can win another championship. Properly tweaking this summer has to look drastically different than it has in any other summer during the Big Three era. Competition is so staunch at the top of the Eastern Conference that banding together a team of superstars in the twilight of their careers won't make the cut. It doesn't require bringing in superstar talent (which is way out of the Celtics price range anyway), but it does require that the management make shrewd, crafty decisions to bring in a fleet of athletic, young, consistent talent. I think that re-signing Jeff Green and Delonte West and even Nenad Krystic would be a great start, along with Glen Davis- provided it's at the right cost. While on the topic of Jeff Green- many fans are down on him, due to his mainly lackluster post season performance. Anyone brought to Boston under the guise of being the factor that made it okay to trade Kendrick Perkins had enormous shoes to fill. He certainly left himself a lot of room for improvement, but I think that he has tremendous potential and could become a valuable asset as a swing man off the bench. The most glaring need is in the middle. This team can not win without a physical, intimidating presence. They need, as my dad so aptly classified it, "a banger." Forces like Lebron James will always get their points- but they can't be allowed to so comfortably live in the paint the way Lebron did this past series.  

I garner even more hope about the future of this team from Doc Rivers re-signing a long term deal. He is the embodiment of all things Celtic, and his investment in the long term signifies that this team is still dedicated to winning in the immediate future, and is not going to plummet in to mediocrity while rebuilding. Doc Rivers is as valuable as any guy suiting up and playing, and with him already on the books, much of my uneasiness has been soothed.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


It's been 3 years since the Celtics championship run in 2008, and still, to this day, if I allow myself to think about Game 1 of the Finals when Paul Pierce went down with a knee injury, I cry. I can still see him crumpled on the floor, face contorted with agony. My mind went to the worst of places right away- that it was season ending, that after years of playing on horrible Celtics teams his Championship aspirations were being stomped out with the finish line finally in sight. And then, minutes later, I can still see him running back through the tunnel, his face a mask of bravery, zoned in and ready to go.

And now, thanks to Rondo's staggering show of courage and dedication last night, I have no doubt that I have another memory which will bring me to tears in the blink of an eye. To see him on the floor, with KG hovered over him in a state of panic, my mind again was off to the races. I feared that this was the end of his season: that a season filled with nagging and painful injuries, a season filled with many doubting his commitment and ability, and a 3 year long fight to get back to the top would end with him on the floor, out of breath and writhing in pain. But it didn't. I allowed my frustration and disappointment in the 2-0 series to taint my vision. I forgot that this was Rondo- a 6 foot nothing soldier who's played through plantar fasciitis, a balky back, hand injuries that made his hands throb and feel arthritic and countless other unnamed injuries that remain anonymous because he refuses to use them as excuses.

So of course he went back to the locker room, had his elbow popped back in to place and returned to action. When I saw him trot back to the bench, I felt so lucky. People accuse athletes of being overpaid, egotistical and so consumed with their fame that they don't care about the sport. That's just not the case with this team. Rondo recently inked a 55 million dollar deal. Many other superstars with similar monetary success would be worried about next year- I dislocated my elbow, what happens if I try to keep playing, further injure myself and that effects next year? What about my endorsements? What about my next contract? Rondo isn't worried about next year. He's not looking past this series- he's not even looking past the current game. He has no summer plans.  He wants to win. And a fan that's emotionally invested and all consumed by this team, I feel so lucky to have players on my favorite team who make it worth it. If Rondo can play with one arm and tell everyone that he's going to continue playing and not to ask him how he's feeling, even if he's holding his arm- then I certainly am not giving up on this team. We're even more lucky. It isn't just Rondo. It's Delonte, rising and rising again after injuries continue to pile up around him. It's Paul Pierce, playing an a strained foot and diving in to the stands, Jermaine O'Neal coming back from a knee surgery and Shaq giving all he can with his body fiercely protesting. I could go on and on. This team has resolve. They're still down 2-1, and there's a long way to go... But like KG said: I'm all in.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What can Shaq do for you?

Some numbers people at ESPN took a look at the difference Shaq made this year for the Celtics when they played against the Heat. His impact was... Crazy good! Since he's supposed to play tomorrow, and it's a must win situation, it's pretty exciting. Chris Forsberg presented the results:

 With Shaq on the court in the regular season against the Heat, the Celtics averaged 121.1 points per 100 possessions, a stunning 26.2 points per 100 possessions improvement from when Shaq was off the court.

Boston shot a tremendous 54.1 percent from the field against Miami this season with Shaq on the court. That fell to 45.5 percent with Shaq off the court.

Some of the Celtics that saw the biggest differences were Rajon Rondo, who shot 34.5 percent from the field with Shaq off the court and 50 percent with Shaq on the court, and Ray Allen, who shot 50 percent with Shaq off the court and 68.8 percent with Shaq on the court.

The five current Boston players that played with Shaq against Miami all felt huge impacts. With Shaq on the court, each saw a meaningful elevation in the team's offensive rating (points per 100 possessions). 

Oh, AND the numbers show that the Big Shamrocks presence greatly benefited the percent of assists on made field goals and upped Boston's offensive rebounding statistics (him being on the floor provided them with a 17 percent increase in the number of offensive boards they pulled down).  The team was more offensively fluid with the Big Shamrock suited up. KG had a +13.3, which is the lowest number- but Rondo and Ray Allen, both of whom need to be greatly involved in making this a series, saw improvements of +24.4 and +25.5 respectively. Yes, please. 

Chris Forsberg also provided the efficiency of Shaq on the defensive end, and those results are just as great:

Miami felt Shaq's impact as well. The Heat had a net offensive rating of +8 when Shaq was off the court. However, the Heat had a net rating of -28.3 when Shaq was on the court. 

Miami's shots were about a foot and a half closer when Shaq was out of the game. The average distance of a Heat attempt with Shaq on the court was 15.1 feet. With Shaq off the court, the average distance of an attempt was 13.4 feet (1.7 feet closer).

Effectively, Shaq helped neutralize Joel Anthony
. In the 15 minutes that Shaq and Anthony played head-to-head in the regular season, Anthony's plus/minus took a major hit (-17). That means the that the Celtics outscored the Heat by more than a point per minute with Shaq and Anthony on the court at the same time.

Considering that Anthony currently has the best plus/minus in the 2011 postseason at +91, including +20 in the conference semifinals against the Celtics, Shaq's ability to play becomes that much more significant.

These numbers are all undoubtedly really exciting... But I'm going to try and reign in my optimism because we don't know what Shaq will be able to give. He hasn't played in months, and is nowhere close to 100 percent. That's not to say I'm a Debbie Downer. I'm rooting for Shaq 500 percent and I do hold out hope that he will make a solid impact! (P.S., if you don't know what offensive rating means, you can read about it here). 

A really unsightly rumor about Glen Davis and a video vixen.

I hope that this one turns out to be far from the truth. 

A couple of days ago it was rumored that video vixen Rozay Mylan was kicked out of VIP by Drake and subsequently arrested because she was upset by her ejection from the club. Well, Ms. Mylan called in to the radio show The Breakfast Club, to clear her name. She claims she was kicked out not because Drake wanted her out, but because another video vixen at that same party doesn't like her and organized her getting the boot. I guess she felt compelled to keep talking at that point, because she apparently went on a rant "exposing people," and claimed that another video vixen, Hencha Voigt (where do they come up with these names?), was paid 40K by Glen Davis to get an abortion. 

Could it happen? Yes. But I'd like to think that Baby is victim to a crazy lady embarrassed and mad that she got kicked out of the club, and so now she's running her mouth trying to throw other people under the bus.