Every NFL Team and Division in 3 Words

3 words can tell the entire story.

With the dog days of summer winding down, NFL training camps are officially underway. While most want to jump the gun and predict the NFL season now, let’s start with 3 words to describe every team and every division in the NFL.

AFC North: Beat ’em up.

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Pittsburgh Steelers: Roethlisberger goes diva.

Baltimore Ravens: Binding Flacco contract.

Cincinnati Bengals: Picture of complacency.

Cleveland Browns: Hope? LOL. Nope.

The AFC North is a brutal division, one in which the teams beat each other up so much during the season come playoff time, they’re out of gas. The Steelers are the best team in the division, but Ben Roethlisberger discussing retirement this early smells like trouble. The Ravens will be competitive, but they’d be more competitive if not for QB Joe Facco’s contract. The Bengals never seem to aspire to be better than average, and the Browns are a doormat.

AFC South: First round exit.

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Houston Texans: Won with Osweiler.

Tennessee Titans: Rise of Mariota.

Indianapolis Colts: Out of Luck.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Gag on Coughlin.

The AFC South Division winner has the luxury of hosting a home playoff game and promptly losing. The Texans won with Brock Osweiler at QB, so rookie QB Deshaun Watson could be a step up. The Titans continued progress will depend on the health of QB Marcus Mariota, the Colts can’t continue relying on QB Andrew Luck to be a contender, and the “new look Jaguars” with Tom Coughlin in the front office will continue to be woeful until QB Blake Bortles is deported.

AFC East: Pats stand pat.

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New England Patriots: Please stop winning.

Miami Dolphins: One year wonder.

Buffalo Bills: Sabotaged by Pengulas.

New York Jets: J-E-T-S spells L-O-S-E.

Since 2001, only the Jets in 2002 and Dolphins in 2008 have won the division. The Patriots have nothing to worry about in this cakewalk of a division. The Dolphins won’t be able to replicate last years success, the Bills’ ownership prevents them from being even halfway competent, and the Jets are essentially tanking.

AFC West: Most competitive division.

Oakland Raiders: Just Win Baby.

Kansas City Chiefs: Kings of almost.

Denver Broncos: Mile High controversy.

Los Angeles Chargers: Soccer stadium tenants.

The AFC West is easily the NFL’s most competitive division, as 3 of the 4 teams posted records above .500 last year. The Raiders will want to continue their newfound commitment to excellence all the way to a division title. The Chiefs will sport a good team but aren’t legitimate contenders. The Broncos will be hindered by their QB controversy between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, and the Chargers were rewarded for moving to LA LA Land by being tenants in a 30,000 seat soccer stadium.

NFC North: Cold and predictable.

Green Bay Packers: Default division winner.

Minnesota Vikings: Bridge(water) too far.

Detroit Lions: Roar no more.

Chicago Bears: Should’ve ditched Mitch.

The NFC North is known for being a rather chilly division come late October, but its utterly predictable. The overrated, over-hyped, and overblown Packers will win the division. The Vikings need QB Teddy Bridgewater to come back if they have any hope of being a playoff contender. The Lions surprised many last season with a postseason appearance, but that seems unreasonable to expect this season. The Bears were swindled by the 49ers and picked a QB who started 13 games in his collegiate career, it’ll be a cold winter for them.

NFC South: Worst to first.

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Carolina Panthers: Dab strikes back.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Winston’s next step.

Atlanta Falcons: Super Bowl hangover.

New Orleans Saints: The final Brees.

This division always seems to have the worst to first syndrome, where a team that finished in last place the previous year ascends to first place the next. QB Cam Newton and the Panthers will continue this trend, as the dab will strike back. QB Jameis Winston could potentially lead the Bucs into the postseason, the Falcons won’t be over their epic collapse, and the Saints will be looking to move on from QB Drew Brees.

NFC East: Beasts in East.

Dallas Cowboys: Inmates running asylum.

New York Giants: Odell rights ship.

Philadelphia Eagles: Winners of off-season.

Washington Redskins: Kirk or Kurt?

The NFC East is always one of the roughest, toughest divisions in the NFL, and this year will be no different. While the Dallas Cowboys resemble more of a Federal prison than a football team, they’re the best team in the division. Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. will overcome the ghost of his ill-fated boat trip and have an MVP caliber season. The Eagles impressed many with their off-season acquisitions, but will there be team chemistry? Meanwhile, the Redskins will continue to be petty and mispronounce their overrated QB’s name, Kirk (Kurt?) Cousins.

NFC West: One team matters.

Seattle Seahawks: Winning trumps animosity.

Arizona Cardinals: Gasp for Arians.

Los Angeles Rams: Scoff at Goff.

49ers: Still York owned.

This division has one relevant team. Despite the fact every player on the roster hates QB Russell Wilson, chief among them CB Richard Sherman, the Seahawks’ winning will mask their dysfunction. This season could very well be the Cardinals’ final run at a Super Bowl title. QB Jared Goff of the Rams will prove himself to be one of the biggest Draft Busts ever. Lastly, the 49ers are still owner by Jed York, who hired John Lynch, a former color commentator with no front office experience to be their GM (*Does Matt Millen ring a bell?*). Lynch went on to hire the man who called 5 running plays in the second half of Super Bowl 51 when he was up 28-3, Kyle Shanahan, the spoiled brat son of a tomato (*Mike Shanahan*).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kyrie Irving’s Trade Demand

Cleveland? More like LEAVE-land.

In the case that you’ve been living under a rock, Cleveland Cavaliers PG Kyrie Irving demanded a trade last week. Word is that Kyrie is tired of being under LeBron James’ shadow, as he has the “Mamba Mentality” and wants to be the focal point of a team. It has also been reported that LeBron James is upset with Kyrie Irving for mentioning his name in this topic, so upset to the point that LeBron is “Tempted to beat his (Kyrie’s) ass” should the two come into contact with each other.

With all of the rumors swirling around LeBron James that he is bolting the Cavaliers for the Los Angeles Lakers next off-season, one can hardly blame Kyrie Irving for wanting to be two steps ahead of the game. When LeBron James left the Cavaliers in 2010, they suffered 4 straight losing seasons, 3 of which Irving was present for. Ever since LeBron James left the Miami Heat to return back home to Cleveland in 2014, the Heat have missed the postseason 2 out of the last 3 seasons, and now have to settle for signing Dion Waiters and Kelly Olynyk to big contracts. Kyrie sees a pattern here. That pattern? Whenever LeBron leaves, the team he leaves is decimated. Kyrie Irving does not want to be the next victim in LeBron’s pattern.

However, it has not been confirmed LeBron is leaving Cleveland  for LA LA land (*he hasn’t denied it either, but that’s another argument for a different day*). As of right now, LeBron James is a Cleveland Cavalier. As evidenced by the previous 7 years, if LeBron James plays on your team, you will play in the NBA Finals. Evidence from 3 of those 7 years also indicates you might actually win a title. One of those years indicates you might be the player to hit the game winning shot to defeat the greatest NBA regular season team ever. Oh wait, was the player who hit that shot LeBron James? No, it was Kyrie Irving.

Irving’s desire to be traded can only be described as a petulant, spoiled brat who complains about the line at Starbucks being too long. Kyrie Irving, a man who took 74 more 2-point shots and 99 more 3-point shots than LeBron James last year, is complaining about not getting as much attention as the greatest player on the planet. And by the way, this isn’t Kevin Durant in free agency in the summer of 2016 having all of the power in the world. When you demand a trade, you’re still under contract. You don’t get to choose your destination. The Cavaliers could trade Irving anywhere they’d like or tell him to go kick rocks. Irving has no leverage.

Irving is of the belief he can be a franchise cornerstone. That a team can be built around him to be “The Man” and compete for a championship. Going by Irving’s preferred destinations, one must ask what on earth he is thinking? He wants to be traded from the Cavaliers, a team essentially guaranteed to be the representative of the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, to New York to become a nothing with the woeful Knicks? To be the fourth best player for the Minnesota Timberwolves? To compete for more shots with Dion Waiters for the Miami Heat? To be the second option like he is now with the Cavaliers for the San Antonio Spurs? Irving doesn’t realize how good he currently has it. Kyrie Irving is demanding a trade from a team in which he is an all-star and regarded as the team’s closer? Talk about first world problems.

What makes Irving believe he can utilize his “Mamba Mentality” like his idol, Kobe Bryant, and be “The Man” elsewhere when he could be described as a supremely talented, but oft-injured ball hog? Prior to the arrival of Cleveland’s lord and savior, LeBron James, Irving was already “The Man”. He was the number one overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. As “The Man”, the Cavaliers won 21 games in the lockout shortened 2011-12 NBA season, 24 games in 2012-13, and 33 games in 2013-14. While Irving was “The Man”, he was also chronically injured, as he missed 49 games in his first 3 seasons. Even when LeBron came back, Irving has still been injury-prone, missing 46 games over the last three seasons, and that doesn’t even include the 5 NBA Finals games he missed in the 2015 NBA Finals.

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Also, let’s pretend LeBron James does in fact leave the Cavaliers for the Lakers next summer. Should Kyrie stay with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he becomes the sympathetic figure, as LeBron James would once again be painted as a man abandoning his hometown for a more glitzy, glamorous destination. Irving would regain his “rightful” place as “The Man” in Cleveland with two years remaining on his contract. Sure, he’s stuck with an aging roster riddled with bad guaranteed contracts, but in an Eastern Conference without LeBron James, that team could compete for a lower seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Kyrie Irving’s trade demand is understandable if you’re looking through the prism of not wanting to bite the dust should LeBron James ditch the Cavaliers in the summer of 2018. Every other prism you look through, however, cannot justify Irving’s immature stance of wanting to be “The Man”. His first three years in the league suggest he not only cannot carry the load as a team’s first option in terms of winning, but also cannot be on the court to help see that vision trough. Even in his three seasons with LeBron James, Irving hasn’t proven he can stay healthy. Why would any team risk placing their future in a guard who is unable to stay on the court? Why would you want to forgo competing for a championship when you would be nowhere closer to building towards this goal should you be traded to one of your preferred destinations, which you may not even be granted? Kyrie Irving needs to wake up before it’s too late, and realize he has been given an NBA player’s dream career: being the number one pick, being an all-star who is treated like a superstar, and playing alongside and winning championships with the greatest player ever, LeBron James. With Kyrie Irving’s trade demand and rumors circling LeBron James regarding his future plans, Cleveland might as well re-name themselves Leave-land.

 

 

The Winners and Losers of the NBA Off-season

One could argue the off-season was more unpredictable than the season itself.

This past NBA off-season was as unpredictable as ever. However, not everyone emerged a winner from this wild wild west of an off-season. With an off-season that was seemingly more exciting than the actual season itself, here are the winners and losers of the 2017 NBA off-season.

Winner: Gordon Hayward

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Hayward was the biggest free-agent of the off-season, and he cashed in big time by signing a 4-year, $128 million contract with the Boston Celtics. Hayward reunites with his college coach, Brad Stevens, in a move that puts him in a better position to win than he would’ve been in had he signed with the Miami Heat or re-signed with the Utah Jazz.

Loser: Boston Celtics/ Danny Ainge

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Boston may have scored the top free agent of the off-season, but they gave up a lot to get him. G Avery Bradley was traded to the Detroit Pistons, and C Kelly Olynyk signed with the Miami Heat. General Manager Danny Ainge also continued to show he is paralyzed by fear, as he passed up trading for forwards Jimmy Butler and Paul George. On top of that, he traded the number 1 pick in the draft in an effort to draft Kansas F Josh Jackson, but was given the cold shoulder by him and ended up taking Duke F Jayson Tatum instead. They’re no closer to beating LeBron James/ the Cavaliers, and they seem to get cold feet as it pertains to trying to win now.

Winner: Minnesota Timberwolves

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Losing Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn wasn’t ideal, but gaining forward Jimmy Butler in the process makes it all seem worthwhile. With a young core consisting of center Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Jimmy Butler, the Timberwolves seem primed for a quick rise to the top of the Western Conference not only next year, but also remain there for the foreseeable future.

Winner: Oklahoma City Thunder

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The Thunder improved their team immensely by trading for Paul George, and only gave up an overrated Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to get him. While it is a huge one year gamble for Sam Presti with rumors of George bolting for the Lakers in 2018, there’s no doubt the duo of George and MVP Russell Westbrook will inch the Thunder closer to the top of the Western Conference.

Loser: Los Angeles Clippers

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I’m sure Jerry West is regretting leaving the Golden State Warriors by now. After seeing the writing on the wall that superstar point guard Chris Paul was going to bolt LA in free agency, the Clippers traded Paul to the Houston Rockets for Lou Williams, Patrik Beverly, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harell, and the equivalent of a bag of magic beans. With the exception of the magic beans, that’s not a bad haul. But when you consider the team signed the oft-injured forward Blake Griffin to a 5-year, $173 million contract, it makes you wonder what direction the Clippers are heading.

Winner: Sacramento Kings

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For once, it seems like the Sacramento Kings know what they’re doing. They signed veteran guard George Hill to a 3-year $57 million contract, veteran forward Zach Randolph to a 2-year $24 million contract, and veteran guard Vince Carter to a 1-year $8 million contract. Not to mention the fact they drafted Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox, who looks like a stud. After catching heat for trading away DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans at the 2017 trade deadline, general manager Vlade Divac may finally be able to implement his plan and bring the Kings back to glory.

Winner and Loser: New York Knicks

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The Knicks finally fired check collecting Phil Jackson after three aimless, embarrassing seasons. They fired him too late, however, as Jackson was not let go until after the NBA draft. While forward Kristaps Porzingis will now want to stick around now that Jackson is gone, forward Carmelo Anthony is still on the team, and his value diminishes every waking moment he remains on the team. After seemingly luring former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin to the same position, Griffin pulled his name out of consideration because he wouldn’t be able to hire his own staff.  And by the way, none of their dysfunction will go away so long as they are owned by the worst owner in professional sports, James Dolan, who skipped the NBA Draft in favor of playing at a concert with his band.

Winner: Golden State Warriors

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Guard Stephen Curry was re-signed to 5-year $201 million contract. Forward Kevin Durant took less money and allowed the Warriors to re-sign forward Andre Iguodala, guard Shaun Livingston, and center Zaza Pachulia. They also signed forward Omri Casspi and guard “Swaggy P” Nick Young. If you thought the Warriors were unbeatable last year, next year’s squad should prove to be even better.

Loser: Cleveland Cavaliers

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Owner Dan Gilbert seems too complacent with the Cavaliers title win back in 2016. He unceremoniously fired general manager David Griffin right before the draft, and then low-balled general manager candidate Chauncey Billups. The Cavaliers haven’t made any impact signings either, they don’t have a general manager after all. While the Cavaliers are still the class of the Eastern Conference, rumors of a disgruntled LeBron James don’t bode well for the team come next off-season.

TBD: Houston Rockets

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The Rockets pulled off a blockbuster trade by acquiring guard Chris Paul from the Clippers. On paper, the Rockets seem better.  However, last time I checked, you can only play basketball with one ball at a time. One must wonder if the combination of two ball-centric players in Chris Paul and MVP candidate James Harden will pay off, but its much too early to tell whether or not Daryl Morey pulled off one of the best or worst trades of all-time.

The Curse of the Quarterback Contract Extentsion

Forget the Madden Curse, it’s all about the curse of QB contract extensions.

In a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation, the Oakland soon to be Las Vegas Raiders signed franchise quarterback Derek Carr to a 5 year, $125 million contract extension. That averages out to $25 million annually, and includes $40 million in guaranteed money. Carr undoubtedly deserved the extension, as through three NFL seasons he has amassed 11,194 passing yards and thrown for 81 touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 87.9. However, history has shown many quarterbacks have struggled the next season after receiving a contract extension. Such examples include:

Marc Bulger, St. Louis Rams: 6 years for $62.5 Million

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Bulger signed this extension after the 2006 season, where he threw for 4,301 yards, 24 touchdowns and 8 interceptions with a quarterback rating of 92.9. The next season, Bulger threw for only 2,392 yards, 11 touchdowns compared to 15 interceptions, and had a quarterback rating of 70.3. Bulger never came close to living up to the extension, as he was released after the 2009 season and finished up his career backing up Joe Flacco for the Baltimore Ravens in 2010.

David Garrard, Jacksonville Jaguars: 6 years for $60 Million

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In 2007, David Garrard threw for 2,509 yards, 18 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and had a quarterback rating of 102.2 while leading the Jaguars to the AFC Divisional playoff round. Garrard was then rewarded with this contract extension, similar to the one the aforementioned Marc Bulger received. In a 2008 season that saw the Jags have lofty Super Bowl aspirations, Garrard threw for just 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, and the Jaguars finished 5-11, good for last place in the AFC South.

Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs: 6 years for $62.7 Million

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Matt Cassel threw for 3,693 yards, 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and had a quarterback rating of 89.4 in 2008 for the New England Patriots with Tom Brady injured. This was enough for the Kansas City Chiefs to trade for him and sign him to a new contract, as the Chiefs thought they had finally found their franchise quarterback. The Chiefs went 4-12 in 2009, and Cassel threw for 2,924 yards, 16 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, and had a quarterback rating of 69.9. While Cassel did earn a Pro-Bowl bid and led the Chiefs to an AFC West Divisional title in 2010, Cassel never came close to matching his supposed worth, as he was cut after the 2012 season after struggling mightily in 2011 and 2012.

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens: 6 years for $120.6 Million

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To be fair, Joe Flacco was coming off a postseason in which he threw for 11 touchdowns and no interceptions on his way to a Super Bowl victory with the Baltimore Ravens. He had made it to 3 AFC Championship Games since 2008 and was legitimately deserving of a new deal after the 2012 season. Unfortunately, the 2013 season saw Flacco and the Ravens experience a Super Bowl hangover, as Flacco threw 22 interceptions and had a quarterback rating of 73.1. The Ravens finished 8-8 and missed the postseason that year, and have only made it to the postseason once since signing Flacco to that extension.

Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: 6 years for $108 Million

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Tony Romo already holds the mantel of the most overrated quarterback in NFL history because his stats were admittedly astounding for fantasy football geeks and he played for “America’s Team.” This led to Owner/ GM of the Cowboys Jerry Jones to give his illegitimate son this massive contract extension after two straight seasons of Romo choking in the final game of the regular season that could’ve put the Cowboys in the playoffs. 2013 saw him gag important games against the Denver Broncos and the Green Bay Packers (*the Cowboys blew a 23-point lead and Matt Flynn started for the Packers that game*) and the Cowboys missed the playoffs. While Romo did lead the Cowboys to a 12-4 record and an appearance in the NFC Divisional Playoff round in 2014, injuries and Dak Prescott prevented Romo from playing out the rest of his contract, and he is now the lead color commentator for CBS.

Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears: 7 years for $126 Million

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Although the Bears hadn’t made it to the postseason for the third straight season, Jay “My arm is bigger than John Elway’s” Cutler signed this massive contract extension after the 2013 season. The Bears went on to finish 5-11 in 2014, and Cutler was run out of town and the league after the 2016 season amid questions about his leadership abilities. He is now a color commentator for Fox.

While Carr is most certainly better than many of the quarterbacks listed here and the Raiders are better than the teams those quarterbacks played for, Raiders fans should be somewhat concerned about the 2017 season. History indicates many quarterbacks struggle the season after they receive a contract extension, and Carr could be the next victim of this curse. Factor in the fact that the Raiders’ schedule is already one of the toughest in the league, Super Bowl expectations, and the looming move to Las Vegas into the equation, and the 2017 season could turn out to be a major letdown for the silver and black. This may not be the Curse of the Bambino, the Billy Goat Curse, or even the Curse of the Black Pearl, but the Curse of Quarterback Contract Extensions looms large over the Raiders’ 2017 season.

 

The Plight of LeBron James

How can the best basketball player in the world be so maligned?

From the moment the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted him with the first pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, the spotlight was on the king from Akron, Ohio, LeBron James. While he was still in high school, James was proclaimed “The Chosen One” by Sports Illustrated. 14 years into his NBA career, LeBron James has not only lived up to this billing, he has exceeded it. Year after year, LeBron James showcases he is not only the most valuable player in the NBA, but also the best basketball player in the world.

Yet, after losing to one of the most talented teams ever assembled in the NBA, there are still detractors and haters out there who will continually deny LeBron the mantel of the G.O.A.T. They’ll point to his 3-5 Finals record, they’ll point to “The Decision”, they’ll say he’s no Michael Jordan. Whatever criticism you have of LeBron James now borders on insanity or pure hatred for the man.

LeBron James led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2007 in just his fourth year in the league. The starting lineup for that Cavaliers team included Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes, Sasha Pavlovic, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. They’re hardly the dynastic San Antonio Spurs team they were swept by. LeBron wasn’t ready for the spotlight, and he was the only weapon on a team that would’ve won 20 games without him. You can’t hold the 2007 Finals against him.

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The one year you can rightfully hold against LeBron James is 2010-2011. In the summer of 2010, LeBron exposed himself as one of the most immature, self-absorbed human beings on planet earth by broadcasting on national television his intentions of “taking his talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat” in The Decision. A few days later, he and the Heat organization celebrated as if they had just won an NBA championship, where he made his infamous “not five, not six, not seven” championship remarks. James then led his Miami Heat “super team”, which included Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, to the 2011 NBA Finals. Unfortunately, LeBron pulled a disappearing act even the great magician Harry Houdini would have envied, and lost to the lesser Dallas Mavericks. It was poetic justice. A man who had spurned his hometown in a selfish pursuit of championships finally got what he deserved and acted like a sore loser in defeat.

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It was at that moment LeBron James evolved into the greatest player the game has ever seen. LeBron led the Miami Heat to back to back titles in 2012 and 2013, dismantling an Oklahoma City Thunder team consisting of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden in 2012 and finally overcoming the dynastic San Antonio Spurs in 2013. Both times he was the Finals MVP. In 2012 he averaged 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game and in 2013 he averaged 25.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 7 assists per game. In 2014, he led the Heat to their fourth straight NBA Finals appearance, but were abused by the vengeful San Antonio Spurs in 5 games. He was, however, the best player on the court, averaging 28.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 4 assists per game.

While LeBron was off winning championships, the Cleveland Cavaliers, whose owner Dan Gilbert infamously denounced James and said the Cavaliers would win a title before LeBron would, were a perennial NBA Draft Lottery team. They had won the lottery three times, striking gold by selecting Kyrie Irving in 2011, bombing in 2013 by selecting Anthony Bennett, and trading away Andrew Wiggins in 2014 to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love. This acquisition was made because LeBron James did what no other player in NBA history of his caliber had ever done, he came home.

For the last three seasons, LeBron James has led the Cavaliers to three NBA Finals appearances. In a losing effort in 2015, James averaged 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game. He was without Kyrie Irving for 5 games of the series and was without Kevin Love for the entire series, as both were lost due to injury. Yet, LeBron James still took the Golden State Warriors, one of the most prolific shooting teams in NBA history, to 6 games when his starting point guard and second best player on his team was Matthew Dellavedova. In the 2016 Finals, James came back from a 3-1 series deficit against a 73 win Golden State Warriors team and won his third NBA title and Finals MVP, averaging 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 8.9 assists per game. In the deciding game 7 of the series, LeBron James had a triple double and made one of the greatest plays in NBA history when he blocked Andre Iguodala of the Warriors to keep the game tied at 89.

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The Miami Heat, on the other hand, have not recovered since James left. The Heat have been in the NBA Draft lottery two out of the last three years, with their only playoff appearance coming in 2016, when James led the Cavaliers to an NBA title. LeBron James is the difference between your team winning an NBA title or your team picking in the NBA Draft Lottery. No other player in NBA history has had that kind of influence on a team. That includes Michael Jordan, as his Chicago Bulls went from winning 57 games in 1993 to winning 55 games in 1994 when Jordan retired for the first time.

This year, the best player in the world ran into the best team in the world. Anyone who tries to tarnish his legacy due to losing to a better team is blind to the greatness we have witnessed over the last seven seasons. Not even the great Michael Jeffrey Jordan, who yes, has more accomplishments in his career than LeBron to this point, made it to seven straight finals. LeBron James is the only man to do so, and keeps inventing new categories to judge players by. This past NBA finals, although losing in five games, LeBron James became the first player in NBA Finals history to average a triple-double, averaging 33.6 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists per game. As LeBron has gotten older, his NBA Finals numbers seem to get better and better each year.

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Any argument you have against LeBron James makes you look like as foolish as Skip Bayless. LeBron James may be the only man in NBA history who can seemingly do it all, yet we want to tear him down and make it seem as if he is not worthy of the G.O.A.T. label. LeBron James is more than worthy of this label, and denying him of it is an exercise in futility. I may not always be a man who hangs his hat on statistics, but by the end of his career, LeBron James will have obliterated Michael Jordan in every measurable statistical category. Yes, LeBron may not reach Jordan’s 6 titles, 6 Finals MVPs, and may not have an undefeated record in the Finals like Jordan. However, it wouldn’t take long for anyone to notice the player you’d want to build your team around is LeBron, a man among boys who can do it all as opposed to the high volume shooting and scoring Jordan.

We’re witnessing greatness before our very eyes. A once in a generation player. Father time himself has not yet caught up to LeBron James. Maybe this is why we hold LeBron James to such high expectations. We believe a player as gifted and talented as him should be perfect, despite the fact that no human being, let alone no basketball player, has a flawless resume. Fairly or unfairly, this is the plight LeBron James. A man so supremely talented,  a man with many accomplishments, yet no one wants to embrace him as the greatest of all time.

 

 

 

The Vindication of Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant made all the right moves.

Last Summer, F Kevin Durant shocked the world when he decided to abandon the Oklahoma City Thunder and singed with the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors were coming off a record setting 73 win regular season, but blew a 3-1 series lead in the NBA Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Many, including myself, called the move cowardly. A weak move that signified Kevin Durant didn’t have the killer instinct necessary to win an NBA championship. We saw him as a man who was only going to ride the coattails of a team that had just won 73 games and was one win away from back-to-back NBA titles. A team that, quite honestly, never needed him.

My how the times have changed over the last year.

After an injury plagued season that saw him miss 20 games, Kevin Durant justified his move to the Golden State. He delivered an NBA Finals performance of a lifetime and won his first NBA title and was named Finals MVP. In the Finals, Durant averaged 35.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game. He did so against a man who schooled him back in the 2012 NBA Finals, LeBron James.

Many will say this was an expected result. After all, the greatest team in NBA regular season history added one of if not the most prolific scorer in NBA history to their already stacked squad. A squad that featured the back-to-back MVP, Stephen Curry, and one of the best shooters in the game, Klay Thompson. But Durant gave the Warriors something many believed the Warriors already had a plethora of: more offensive firepower. He made a prolific offense even more unguardable, the extra boost the Warriors needed to avenge last year’s choke-job. Durant also proved himself a capable defender, as he bought into the Warriors championship mentality and finally turned himself into an all-around weapon.

Of course, one would be remiss if they did not mention his former Thunder teammate, Russell Westbrook. Westbrook, who averaged a triple-double this season for the Thunder and is the likely MVP of the NBA, is hurt the most by Durant’s triumph. Durant traded a stubborn ball hog in Westbrook for a distributor in Stephen Curry, and put his stamp on Golden State’s title run. Westbrook, on the other hand, couldn’t get out of the first round of the playoffs. Westbrook may be supremely talented and a bona fide superstar, but Durant knew he couldn’t win a championship with him. All of those triple doubles make Westbrook look foolish now, as he will be seen as the force that drove Kevin Durant to Northern California when he could have adjusted his game to better compliment Durant.

No one knows whether or not this will be Durant’s only title. No one knows if this is the first of many to come for him. But let’s not speculate about the future too much now. Let us allow Kevin Durant to enjoy moment in the sun after enduring a season of scathing criticism. All of that criticism means nothing now, as this past NBA season should be titled as so: The Vindication of Kevin Durant.

Oh yeah, Kevin Durant also overcame this…

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