Duke in Hot Water Plus Take it Easy on LeBron People

Coach K
Coach K
I certainly hope Mike Krzyzewski did all the right things pertaining to a former player's alleged sexual assault.

Duke University is finding itself once again embroiled in a sexual assault case but this time around it isn’t the storied LaCrosse program. This time around the stakes are much higher because the spotlight is now on the most prominent person at the University and that would Head Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Back in late January, Coach K dismissed Rasheed Sulaimon for “repeatedly struggled to meet the necessary obligations.” Now as it turns out, Sulaimon is alleged to have been in two different sexual assaults at the school.

Both accusers allegedly told people about the alleged attacks but did not go to anyone of authority. Options included the Durham Police as well as the Office of Student Conduct on campus. According to ESPN, the two women chose not to got to authorities because they feared what could come from the Duke fan base. If you think that line of thinking is wrong then read the story about the reporter who covered the Jameis Winston case in Tallahassee, Florida.

He was barraged with death threats and was attacked at every turn for simply doing his job as an investigative reporter.

I have no idea if what took place with Sulaimon and the two women involved but that won’t be the biggest story about this by a long shot if there is evidence that Mike Krzyzewski knew about this and did nothing. Coach K has power beyond belief on the Duke campus but people also said the same thing about Joe Paterno and Penn State and we know how that ended up.

If ESPN’s sources are accurate, then Krzyzewski did indeed know about about the alleged assaults as far back as as March of 2014.

I am in no way suggesting that this is on par with the events of Penn State; hopefully nothing ever will be again. But this can’t be waved away, not in 2015 where the media and more importantly social media are everywhere. We’ve already seen a legendary coach taken down for not doing enough. I sure would hate to see it happen to another.

LeBron
Fans need to check their memories a bit when it comes to the greats missing shots like LeBron did.

Take it easy on King James

I’ve written in these very pages before that I will never view LeBron James in the same stratosphere as Michael Jordan and the most simple reason why is the lack of a killer instinct. That said, the people throwing darts at James for his two missed free throws with just four seconds remaining in Houston the other night need to chill out.

“Jordan would have never missed those! Kobe wouldn’t have missed those either!”

I’ve got news for you folks… Both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant missed plenty of game-winning shots during their careers. To say they didn’t means you have not seen enough of either of them because I’ve seen it and I know many others have too.

Like I said, I will never be able to place James above His Airness simply because he lacks the titles but just as importantly he lacks the killer instinct that drove Jordan so hard. That’s not his fault, it’s just how it is. Either way, lay off LeBron for crying out loud. There isn’t a professional alive who hasn’t missed key shots down the stretch.

Sometimes I wonder what universe you people are living in when you say “Jordan would have never missed those.”

Social Media Motivation Would Never Have Flown in Jordan’s Day.

Jordan
Jordan
I can't imagine Michael Jordan eve sending a tweet to motivate a teammate.

Fair or unfair, those of us who were alive to watch every second of Michael Jordan play basketball in college and in the NBA have naturally compared LeBron James to him. Much like the natural cycle of life, comparing great players in any sport is a rite of passage. I have always found the comparisons of players from different eras to be fruitless.

While team titles are typically used as one of the more important factors in deciding what player is better, that shouldn’t always be the overriding fact either. Karl Malone and Charles Barkely never won titles but should that detract from their greatness? Will Kobe always be second fiddle to Jordan because he will likely finish with five titles to Jordan’s six? Keep in mind, Bryant has surpassed Jordan in all-time scoring but will he ever be put atop of his Airness?

More than likely not.

Let me get back to my original thought about Jordan and LeBron… I couldn’t help but wonder this week about social media and Michael Jordan. What would Jordan have been like had social media been around as it is today?

James and Love
Taking to Twitter to motivate Kevin Love may have worked for LeBron but I don't think it looks good.

I ask this because of a tweet LeBron James directed at Kevin Love. First of all, this is what the tweet read: “Stop trying to find a way to FIT-OUT and just FIT-IN. Be apart of something special! Just my thoughts.”

Once that comment made the rounds, it became clear it was directed at Love who admitted a day after that he was a bit taken aback by it but didn’t have a problem with it. I credit Love for taking the high road here and I wish I could do the same with LeBron.

Can you imagine Jordan taking the passive-aggressive approach that James did? I’m almost in a complete chuckle over the thought. No one in modern sports’ history was as notorious for getting after his teammates like Jordan did. Read any definitive book on Jordan or books by his teammates and they’ll tell you that Jordan had complete authority things even got to the point where Jordan would challenge players by hitting them.

While that last part may have in fact gone a bit overboard, it sure as heck beats the move by James.

If LeBron had something to say to Love then he should have said it in-house and behind closed doors. I’m not letting Jordan off the hook because there were times when he would make comments to the press about guys needing to play better but he didn’t hide from his comments either.

I realize I’m from a different generation than the one currently playing sports today but isn’t there still a “proper way of doing things?”

Great leaders know how to motivate their teammates and maybe James is a better leader than I give him credit. Perhaps he’s been around Love long enough now to know that this was the best way to get his attention and motivate him. He did have his best game as a Cavalier immediately following the message.

Still, I don’t think Jordan would have ever taken this course of action and I hope LeBron chooses a more private course himself in the future. While comparing these two will never end, one area I think Jordan clearly has an advantage is his assassin’s attitude and ability to lead others.

Take note LeBron.

Athletes and Their Income, Plus Jason Kidd and the Bucks are on the Agenda Today

James
James
LeBron James has every right to make as much money as he he can get whether we like it or not.

For whatever reason, the ugly discussion that centers around “athletes are paid too much” has reared its’ ugly head again and quite frankly I find it to be a moot point. The reason it has come up is because now LeBron James is officially an unrestricted free agent.

According to social media (take that for what it’s worth), LeBron James is not about winning if he takes a maximum contract. Therefore he’s not as forthright as Tim Duncan or Michael Jordan in the eyes of many and he doesn’t work nearly as hard as the common man.

I don’t like how much professional athletes get paid any more than you do but if the market bears it out then there’s not much that can be done. If you hate that a pitcher goes 10-13 yet gets a $13 million dollar per year contract then stop buying tickets and stop buying team gear. That’s the only way you’re going to get the attention of owners who continue to pay these salaries.

And…. That isn’t going to happen is it?

LeBron James has every right to make as much money has he is willing to be paid. Michael Jordan for years did not take a max contract and despite being the best player on the planet wasn’t always the top paid player. By all accounts, James is set to try and take less money once again in an effort to win another title.

Regardless of what he does, it’s his choice and the amount he could be paid isn’t his fault. I wish I was paid more but no one is standing in line to watch my type.

During Babe Ruth’s prime in the late 1920’s, he had a brief encounter with famous gangster Al Capone. Ruth had recently signed a deal that was the largest in baseball at the time and Capone allegedly said, “Hey Babe, you make more than the President!” Ruth replied, “I had a better year than he did.”

It really is that simple people. If you don’t like the money athletes are paid then I suggest you follow another hobby.

Kidd
Jason Kidd was sent to Milwaukee in a rare trade for a coach. The question is why?

Shame on the Bucks, But that’s business

There’s nothing quite like walking in to the office and finding someone else sitting at your desk. You inquire as to why they are in your office and you are politely given a kick in the ass while being told that you no longer have a job. That’s essentially what happened to Larry Drew yesterday in Milwaukee.

Drew had been the coach of the Milwaukee Bucks but was unceremoniously fired after the team traded two second round picks for Jason Kidd. Because he was fired with years left on his contract, Drew isn’t walking out the door penny-less but his ego can’t be doing real well right now.

For his part, Kidd has rubbed more people the wrong way in his career than most I can think of and he must have worn out his welcome in Brooklyn despite getting the Nets into the second round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

My question is why do the Bucks feel the that Kidd is worth giving up two draft picks? Is he that much better of a coach than Drew? Take a look at the talent on the two teams last season and you’ll find Kidd had way more to work with than did Drew.

Perhaps the Bucks feel that Kidd will work better with Jabari Parker who was drafted second overall last week in the NBA Draft. Either way, it isn’t a good look for the Bucks or for Kidd but it’s business plain and simple.

Some Final Thoughts on David Stern

Stern
Stern
While he has his detractors, retired NBA Commissioner David Stern oversaw an amazing time in league history.

I was once told that the sun doesn’t shine on the same dog’s rear-end everyday because that’s just not how things worked. Sometimes you were fortunate and sometimes you weren’t. For newly retired National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern, the was a very common sight during his tenure.

From 1984 through 2014, Stern presided over what can only be called “The Golden Age” of professional basketball.

Although many believe, and rightfully so, that professional basketball was starting a dramatic rise in popularity when Stern took over; it has been under his watchful eye that the game has exploded. When Stern took the reigns from former Commissioner Larry O’Brien, both Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were already in the league and each had a title to his credit.

Those two Hall of Famers were not only rising stars but they also happened to play for two of the most historic and celebrated franchises in NBA history (Los Angeles and Boston). Along with those two was the Philadelphia 76ers led by Dr. J. The three teams were dominant throughout the 1980’s while a young man named Michael Jordan was becoming the greatest player of all time in Chicago.

Stern presided over the 1980’s like a proud father watching his children grow into one fantastic thing after another. By the time the 1990’s rolled around Jordan was the most recognizable athlete on the planet and the NBA as a whole was garnering respect throughout the nation and the world.

There was never a better time to be running a sports league and Stern knew it. He took a very hands off approach and just let the players and teams do all the work. Unlike what we’ve seen in the NFL recently under Roger Goodell, Stern did very little to alter the way the game is played. He oversaw the introduction of a player dress code and the expansion of seven different NBA franchises.

Like any leader who serves that long, there were some down times and moments that still generate discussion today.

 

Ewing
Patrick Ewing was the prize in the 1985 NBA Draft Lottery.

There are many both in and around the league that believe the 1985 NBA Draft Lottery was rigged to favor the New York Knicks. All-American Center Patrick Ewing was the overwhelming top pick that year and it was thought that any team getting him was destined for the playoffs and NBA Championships. The conspiracy centers around one of seven envelopes that was put into a hopper.

One of the seven clearly had a bend in the corner and that was the one he drew. It was thought this was rigged so that New York would be better and would increase TV ratings dramatically.

Still to this day there is rampant speculation that Michael Jordan’s brief retirement, in which he tried to play professional baseball, was actually a cover-up. Jordan was extremely well-known for his gambling prowess and there is a ton of belief that he was in serious trouble so Stern orchestrated a way for him to get out of the game awhile.

Stern also had to deal with on court brawls and perhaps the ugliest incident in pro sports when Ron Artest (known as Metta World Peace now) went into the stands at the palace of Auburn Hills creating a melee in which players and fans were brawling in the seats and on the court.

All things considered, Stern has been a very good commissioner. He has also seen the game become international both with the introduction of hundreds of foreign players but also in getting teams to play games abroad as well.

His Successor Adam Silver will be lucky to find the same success that he had during his tenure running the league.

Spurs Win Game Five; Lebron Legacy in Doubt?

LeBron James
LeBron James
The comparisons to Jordan will only get worse if James can't lead the Heat back in this series.

Comparisons are inevitable whether they are just or not. In baseball, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams have always been the standard bearers in terms of greatness. In football, names like Johnny Unitas, Walter Payton and Jim Brown have typically been used to compare contemporaries too and in basketball the names of Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan are most prevalent.

As the Miami Heat fell 114-104 last night to the San Antonio Spurs, the obvious discussions of greatness were flowing like Niagara Falls on social media. Should the Spurs be able to take one of the final two games in Miami to clinch the title, questions of just how great LeBron James really is will be asked millions of times.

Another NBA Finals loss for James would make him 1-3 in the Finals. Now the way sports works, James could very well go off in the final two games and this entire discussion could take a drastically different turn. But right now, fair or not, the comparison to Michael Jordan will never leave James and that’s only going to get worse should the Heat lose.

Boris Diaw
Diaw is a nice player but he shouldn't be able to limit LeBron James the way he did last night.

I often try not to really count James’ first appearance in the Finals because he literally carried the Cleveland Cavaliers there on his back before being swept by the Spurs but it still goes in the books as a loss. Toss in the fact that he shot around 30% in those Finals and it doesn’t help his case much. James and the Heat would also lose to Dallas in six games and before James finally earned his first title beating Oklahoma City last year.

Last night in San Antonio, James scored 25 points on 8 for 22 shooting and added six rebounds. While the point total is respectable, consider James was 1 for 8 with Boris Diaw guarding him. Several times James settled for long jump shots that wouldn’t fall. With James struggling against Diaw, the “experts” of social media couldn’t help resist comments like “Jordan would have never been shut down in the Finals.”

Depending upon your point of view, in Jordan’s first four Finals appearances he averaged about 33 points per game and his lowest point total was 22 points that came in a deciding game six blowout over Seattle. James’ Finals average is about ten points less and his lowest point total in the Finals is 14.

Comparisons such as this are always subjective because of the opponent, the style of play and of course ability of teammates around said player, but that doesn’t mean they are going to stop. Personally, I believe James is more gifted in terms of his overall athletic ability. About 2-3″ taller than Jordan and another 40lbs heavier, his athleticism is probably better than that of Jordan but the one area James will never be able to match Jordan is mentally.

In my four plus decades of watching sports, I have never seen a player in any team sport with a greater will to win than Michael Jordan. While his methods did not always endear him to his teammates, they were nevertheless effective and produced six championships in six Finals appearances.

James still has the opportunity to help the Heat win the final two games and should he be the dominant force he can be, he will have survived another season of comparisons to Jordan. A loss where he does little will harken back to the days of his past failures. Right now, it’s up to James to decide if this series will go the distance or not. He has that kind of talent. The question is, does he have the will and do you have the will to bet on him or against him?