published Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

5 at 10: LeBron James, the Miami Heat and the NBA Playoffs

Sweet seventh circle of Macon, it was 70 degrees when we got started a little after 6 this morning. It's going to be a hot one gang. Radio reminders: We'll be on SportTalk on 102.3 FM with Quake, Dr. B (he's a doctor after all) and Cowboy Joe (he's a cowboy after all) today around 5 p.m.; we'll make our regular Thursday appearance on "The Show" on 1310 AM with Chris Goforth (he's a Goforth after all?) tomorrow around 2 p.m.

From the "7-Up Stinks Studios" here we go...

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    Miami Heat's LeBron James (6), Chris Bosh (1) and Dwyane Wade (3) reacts during the last minutes of the second half of Game 1 of the NBA Finals basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks, Tuesday, May 31, 2011, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Mavericks 92-84.(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Some times it's really simple

The fundamental goal in playoff basketball is to make someone other than the opponent's best player beat you. When you are forced to choose between Dwayne Wade and LeBron James, that makes it tough.

The Heat used the best 1-2 punch in sports to roll to a 92-84 win over Dallas in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. It was just one game. It was just one game won by the home team. It was one game that Dallas had an eight-point lead in the second half.

But, it was a game that the Heat won despite shooting less than 39 percent. And still won going away because Wade was Wade and LeBron was LeBron.

Dirk was very good, especially considering he tore a ligament on his middle finger on his left hand, but other than Shawn Marion, the Mavs had little else. In fact, the Heat bench outscored the Mavs bench (read that again), and if that happens there's no way Dallas wins a game, muchless the series.

It was one game, and the Mavs assuredly can play better. But so can the Heat.

Until someone in Dallas blue shows they can slow down Wade and James -- and someone steps up to Dirk, who is being called No-ring-tzki on The Twitter -- Game 1 played out like we thought. And it appears the series will, too.

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    Miami Heat's LeBron James dunks during the second half of Game 1 of the NBA Finals basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday, May 31, 2011, in Miami. The Heat won 92-84. (AP Photo/Larry W. Smith; Pool)

The Greatness of LeBron

The Decision was a debacle. The preseason pomp and cirmcustance was pompous and circus-like.

But, the presence of LeBron and the Heatles have jumpstarted the NBA to Jordan-like levels. He's the best player on the planet, sure, but he's also the biggest attention grabber in sports right now.

Consider the following:

-- He was 4-of-5 on 3s, including a signature, falling-out-of-bounds 3 at the end of the third quarter. If he's making jumpers, especially from 3, he's unstoppable.

-- He has been the ultimate shut-down defender, guarding everybody from Chicago point guard Derrick Rose to Dallas 7-footer Dirk Nowitzki.

-- The NBA has reached an interest high point not seen since Jordan's heyday becauseof LeBron. In fact, James and the Heat winning the Eastern Conference Finals received 30-percent better ratings than Jordan's Bulls in 1995-96, and the Heat did it exclusively on cable.

-- The Cavs went from the league's best record and home-court advantage to holding the No. 1 overall draft pick in their first season without LeBron. (Or LeBum as he's been dubbed in the greater-Cleveland area.)

-- We all saw how bad Cleveland was after LeBron left, but want to hear a staggering stat about how much better LeBron made everyone in the Cavs organization? New Lakers coach Mike Brown was introduced Tuesday. Brown, who coached the LeBron-led Cavs for five seasons, has the fifth-best winning percentage in NBA history. Yes, Mike Brown. Yes, the fifth-best winning percentage in NBA history. Wow. (Sidenote: Do you thing Brown's phone call with Lakers star Kobe Bryant went something like this, "Yes, Kobe. Sounds great, Kobe. You bet, Kobe. Well... love you Kobe... hello, hello... must have lost the signal.)

-- LeBron is the current King on the sports interest-creating list, and he has bumped Michael Vick from the top five. Here's our list of the biggest attention-generators in the last 25 years: (Sidenote: The athlete's sport matters a great deal because in football people watch more for the color of the jerseys than the numbers on the jerseys. This is the list of players that not only drew in the common fan, but gave the common fan a rooting interest -- either for or against -- simply because these guys were in the game.)

Mike Tyson

Tiger Woods

Michale Jordan

Barry Bonds in 2002


(Sidenote: The just-missed list included Vick, Dale Earnhardt, Stephen Strasburg (too brief a stretch), McGuire-Sosa, Michael Phelps among others.)

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    Oakland Athletics' Shannon Stewart, left, manager Bob Geren, center, and general manager Billy Beane, right, chat during spring training camp on Monday, Feb. 20, 2007 Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Catchers at the dish

Oakland general manager Billy Beane told his catcher Kurt Suzuki not to block the plate. Beane's view is he'd rather have Suzuki on the field than have him injured blocking the plate.

OK, that logic's fine. Did he tell outfielders not to dive for balls? Did he tell batters to ack off the plate? Did he tell middle infielders to avoid hard sliding runners on the pivot of a double play? Yes, the 5-at-10's being a little sarcastic, but the hand-wringing over Buster Posey's season-ending injury has reached sewing-circles levels.

Yes, Posey's injury in a brutal collision at the plate was a tough blow to the San Francisco Giants and an awful break for one of the game's young stars, but c'mon. Can you name the last catcher who had his season ended with a home-plate collision? Didn't think so -- it's not like this is happening three times a week.

If Beane doesn't want his catcher to block the plate, hey, that's fine. (Quick question(s): Wonder how Suzuki's teammates will feel about this development? Wonder how the A's season ticket holders will feel if the A's lose the pennant by a game and Suzuki tries a handful of swipe tags in close games for the next four months?)

The biggest point of all here -- and it's true across all sports -- is if you are playing NOT to get hurt, you're more likely to get hurt. And there's no way you can play up to your ability. It's science.

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    UT coach Derek Dooley watches his team Saturday in the Orange and White game at Neyland Stadium. Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press

College football rumblings and ramblings

The SEC spring meetings started Tuesday in Destin, Fla. (And the SportTalk guys asked an interesting question about why those meeting are never in Calhoun, Ga. or Sand Mountain, Ala.? Any guesses?) Topics were varied -- UT coach Derek Dooley wanting more coaches on staff; all the coaches offering opinions on "oversigning;" coaches offering views on the Ohio State downfall, including Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino, who was less than thrilled about the Buckeyes playing all of the tattoo-for-gear crew in Ohio State's Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas.

There will be more news conferences today and more insight offered (unless of course the questions are about those coach's teams, then the answers will be vague and in some ways confusing). And speaking of confusion, Les Miles rules. Just wanted to throw that out there.

Further north, the day after Jim Tressel's resignation at Ohio State, there was a finality to the feeling coming out of Columbus on Tuesday. And there was some hostility. At least one "offensive starter" allegedly told ESPN's Joe Schad that quarterback Terrelle Pryor was more or less to blame for this. The "offensive starter" did not give his name, but this only adds to the opinion we offered Tuesday that Pryor's days at THE Ohio State University are numbered.

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    Atlanta Braves' Dan Uggla, left, looks to the dugout after he was thrown out advancing to third on a hit by teammate Freddie Freeman as Arizona Diamondbacks' Ryan Roberts, right, looks away during the sixth inning of a baseball game on Wednesday, May 18, 2011, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

This and that

-- Hey, Dan Uggla was used as a pinch-runner in last night's 5-4 loss to San Diego. Ah, Dan Uggla, the new Albert Hall-nominee for outstaning achievement in pinch-running. Let's say the 5-at-10 was expecting a little more when Uggla was acquired.

-- Tiger Woods told Jack Nicklaus that he will not play in Jack's tournament "The Memorial" this week because of the nagging knee and Achilles' injuries that are now threatening Woods' chances at playing in the U.S. Open. (Woods' game is threatening his ability to WIN the U.S. Open.) "I don't know the extent of his injuries," Nicklaus told reporters Tuesday. "I told Tiger when I was on the phone with him — which is the same thing I've said to him a thousand times — 'Tiger, nobody ever wants their records to be broken ... but I certainly don't want you not to be healthy and not have the opportunity to play to break records. I want you to get yourself healthy, do what you have to do to go play, get your golf game back in shape, and I wish you well. I would say that to any athlete and anybody, because I think that's the way it should be. But what his situation is, I don't know any more than what I read."

-- Crazy stat update: Curtis Granderson hit his 17th homer Tuesday. He also has five triples so far this year. According to Elias Sports (those people are on top of it, by the way), Granderson is only the second player in MLB history to have 17 or more homers and at least five triples before June 1. The other was Babe Ruth in 1928, and any time you see your name on a list with Babe Ruth, well, job well done.

Until tomorrow.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
Eustice_Chase said...

LeBron is incredible...that is Fact...LeBron is better than MJ...that is yet to be seen but with performances like last night we see that his Star can get brighter and that is scary. I loved Van Gundy's comment after Lebron got his 2nd foul early in the 2nd quarter I believe...Mark Jackson said LeBron was pleading with Coach Spo to stay in...and he needed to stay in to guard Dirk...Van Gundy said..."I'm leaving him in because hes the best player on the planet"....I hate the way the NBA is turning but its like a train wreck...its hard NOT to watch...

The 5@10 is on "The Twitter"...??? I am new to the Twitter-verse and so far all I have found it good for is for (my former favorite mma Fighter) Tito Ortiz to tweet motivational one-word phrases like and to discuss his break up with Jenna Jameson....

Im about as sick of hearing about Buster Posey and catchers blocking the plate as I am College Football and pay for play scandals...get off it MLB...if you have a franchise Catcher...and you are worried about him getting injured...well take a page out of the Nationals handbook and stick em in the outfield...otherwise play the cards you are dealt and shut up....hey does anyone remember the year Piazza played for three teams in a week?? good times....

No one makes me bleed my own blood...No ONE!!!

June 1, 2011 at 10:36 a.m.
jgreeson said...

EC —

Wow, who would have thought that Scottie Pippen does not look so crazy a week later? Yes, it's only one game, and no we're not saying LJ is better than MJ, but it looked a lot closer last night than we every thought.

The 5-at-10 is not on "The Twitter" but maybe we should head in that direction. Who are we kidding — we're having trouble keeping this thing under 140 sentences, never mind 140 characters.

Amen about the possible Posey passive rule changes and the paying players sagas. We've caught our limit, thank you very much.

And, go ahead, make your jokes, Mr. Jokey... Joke-maker. But let me hit you with some knowledge. "Dodgeball" is underrated. Big-time. Does that count as a sports movie?

— 5-at-10

June 1, 2011 at 11:58 a.m.
bigbearzzz said...

ok, once i would to reiterate that Lebron is not and most likely never will be equal to MJ in my mind. First, We know MJ simply as MJ...Lebron....will never be doesnt work. Secondly, MJ did it in the city where he was. He didnt run over to New York and hook up with Ewing or Sir Charles..he did it with what he had. Grant it he had Pippen and eventually Rodman, but still. He didnt sell out an go running to another place to build a super team, he made the team he had super. Next...we'll continue this discussion when Lebron has six...SIX....rings on his fingers. And the baseball thing is getting on my nerves especially when last night at practice my 13 year old son playing third tells the first baseman not to throw it so hard.....REALLY!?!?!? Now i can tell him to stop Billy Beane-in it and play ball! As far as Dodgeball the Movie goes....they had sports announcers didnt they? that qualifies it doesnt it? OH! Is Tyson really above Tiger and MJ on that list? And how do you put Tyson on there and not Ali? Wait is Ali in the last 25 years!? gettin old.....

June 1, 2011 at 12:11 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

Dallas played awesome Defense but their Offense was still in Dallas...if JJ & Terry knock down half the open jumpers they missed..Dallas wins game one easily...I say that lastnight will be LBJ's lowest point total for the rest of the Series...thats how good that guy will play...

Dodgeball was Vince Vaughn at his best ( tied for first place with Old School and Wedding Crashers for best Vince Vaughn Movie) the Cameos by Lance Armstrong and Chuck Norris...classic!!! and how can we forget the ocho!!! A great sports movie I dont care what anyone says!!!

L for Love!!!!

June 1, 2011 at 12:21 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Oso —

Fair question about Ali, but we needed the 25-year period to kind of shape it. Ali is probably an all-timer (which would be an interesting list, and would likely include some horses, too).

Anyhoo, Tyson got the nod at the top because there was a five-to-six stretch that when he fought, it was can't-miss-TV. We remember dropping $30 to go to a movie theater for the closed-captioned telecast of Tyson knocking out Spinks in 91 seconds. And we didn't even feel cheated.

If Woods wasn't in contention, then OK. You wanted to see Jordan, but you'd watch hoops either way — it was just way more fun with MJ. Tyson... he was boxing and it has never been the same since he melted down. It may never be the same, either. Sure there have been some great fighters since (Pacquiao and others) but there's just something about the "Heavyweight Champion of the World."

And rest easy, Oso, no one is saying LeBron is better than Michael, and even the idea is meaningless until LeBron wins multiple titles. That said, dude put up a Michael-type performance last night.

EC —

Concur on this being the lowest number that LeBron posts. It had the look last night that if he needed to score 40, he could have. He was impressive — and his defense is way better than the 5-at-10 remembers. Nice move by Spoelstra to mix LeBron on Jasaon Terry, who is all of 6-1 and will never get a good look with James on him.

Vince Vaughn top five (And this is not counting his small supporting role as Wes Mantooth in "Anchorman" which, like most of the award-deserving pieces to "Anchorman" was sadly overlooked by the Academy)

Tied for first — Old School, Wedding Crashers

Close No. 3 — Dodgeball

Close No. 4 — Swingers

Personal favorite at No. 5 — His small part in Rudy as Jamie O'Hare, the underachiever who throws the halfback pass so Rudy can get in the game vs. Georgia Tech

And we agree all the way around about "Dodgeball" — the sports announcers seal it. "It's called the Freedom of Information Act, Kate. The hippies finally got something right! Ha-ha! Just kidding. But not really."

— 5-at-10

June 1, 2011 at 12:28 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

If you havent seen Vince Vaughns traveling Stand Up Comedy movie titled "Wild West" you need too!! Classic and thats all Ill say

Mike Tyson WAS must see TV...and nobody ever seemed to care when he knocked out his opponent in 90 seconds or less...Tyson was boxing and there hasnt been a Heavyweight to dominate since...quick can anyone even name (a)the Heavyweight Champ????

Its hard to believe I've got a whole semester of Junior College under my belt huh???

June 1, 2011 at 1:44 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Watching Uggla makes me wistful for the Raul Mondesi era in Atlanta (you know, I kept drafting that guy in my Strat-o-Matic league, and every year, he turned out to be Raul Mondesi and not something better.) Jack Nicklaus has more class in the sweat of his golf glove than Eldrick will ever have.

June 1, 2011 at 3:02 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

With the statistics...Its hard to tell if thats Dan Uggla or Mark Lemke playing 2B for the Braves this pace he could even pass for Jeff Treadway....

June 1, 2011 at 3:10 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

E_C, The heavyweight champ is Ivan Drago, right? Or Pavel Datsyuk? Shoot, it's something Russian, ain't it? V@X, since this is a family (family oriented, that is, not family as in Corleone family) interweb, I will temper this statement accordingly. Two kinds of hot. Hot and dang hot. It dang hot.

June 1, 2011 at 3:20 p.m.
jgreeson said...

EC —

Have not seen Wild West, but looking back on Vaughn's career, he's put together an All-Star resume. Is he a Hall-of-Famer? No but was a solid starter that turned in some really strong seasons and even an occasional MVP run. He's a Kevin Youklis-type of actor.

The 5-at-10 misses Tyson, you know the pre-Robin Givens, Don King, face-tats Tyson. When he walked out with a cut-up towel over his shoulders and destroyed folks. He still has two all-time quotes:

— "Everybody's got a plan until they get hit" and one of our favorites "I guess I'm going to fade into Bolivian."

BIspy —

No doubt about Jack. No doubt. And how's that for a name out of nowhere — Raul Mondesi. Wow. Dude had a monster throwing arm. Maybe one of three best of my lifetime from rightfield, up there with a young Vlad and Dave "The Cobra" Parker.

Uggla would have a tough time hitting his tuckus with either hand right now.

I found that if you have a goal, that you might not reach it. But if you don't have one, then you are never disappointed. And I gotta tell ya... it feels phenomenal.

— 5-at-10

June 1, 2011 at 3:24 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

"You work for the bank, the bank works for'm Your boss" I think as a Chicgo native...Vinny Vaughn might take some offense to that..but I do agree with you...yes Check out Wild West..its worth it!

"I guess I'm going to fade into Bolivian." That right there made me laugh out loud and I think my boss is wondering what I am finding so funny in accounting...

Well The Klytchko twins hold Multiple Championships in the Heavyweight Division...and I think they are Russian...well done!!! But Im sure there are like 14 diffrent heavyweight titles within Boxing....Bolivian...NICE!!!!

"In 23 years of broadcasting I thought I'd seen it all, folks. But it looks like Peter La Fleur has actually blindfolded himself."

June 1, 2011 at 3:44 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

Shaquille O'Neal retires after 19 seasons.....

June 1, 2011 at 4:34 p.m.
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