published Friday, June 21st, 2013

5-at-10: Friday mailbag on LeBron, Gandolfini and summer requests

Gang, the NBA has ended (training camp starts next Thursday) and we're looking right into the blinding light that is the dog daze of summer.

From the "Talks too much" studios, what do you make of this... well, we can make a hat or a broach or a pterodactyl flying through the air.

From several folks early this morning (paraphrased and combined)

The James side — Do you think the LeBron haters will quiet down now?

And the anti-James side — Stupid Spurs, now you LeBron lovers will never shut up. What's next, is he going to come up with a better mouse trap?

All,

No, the LeBron haters will not quiet down. They have very little to hang their hat on in their anti-LeBron bias (and if The Decision is your biggest anti-LeBron argument, well, get over it) so LeBron adding his second title will hardly slow the flow.

And no, we don't plan on doing any more or less LeBron talk than normal any way.

That said, let's respect this moment for the moment it is. James delivered in Game 6 and Game 7, needing big-boy performances to win the NBA championship and secure back-to-back titles. Does it matter that the main feeling is relief for the favored Heat and James? Does it matter that this was expected, and when expectations are met rather than exceeded, the reaction is a good one rather than a jubilant one?

Of course not. But this seems a fair time to gauge where LeBron is, no?

Here is James' resume: He's 28 years old. He is one of five guys to be a four-time NBA MVP — Jabbar, Russell, Chamberlain and Jordan are the others, and that's pretty good company. He's one of three guys to be MVP of the regular season and the finals in the same season more than once — Jordan and Bird are the others, and that's pretty good company. He has two titles. Those are the accomplishments for the trophy case.

As for the skills, those are tougher to compare and scary to image. Jordan was 28 when he won his first title, and MJ's game had started to morph from the greatest air act since a young Doctor J to a ruthless scorer with a deadly mid-range jumper. James is physically superior to almost any basketball superstar ever. He's 6-foot-8, 270 pounds and plays point guard on one-end of the floor and guards power forwards on the other. In Game 7, he hit half his 3s, and gang, if LeBron continues to improve as a long-range shooter — he shot better than 40 percent from 3 this season — he's almost unguardable.

We'll stand by the revelation we shared Thursday — this championship adds to the collection and the resume, but it does not mean he's the best ever or not the best ever. It's a piece of his legacy, which is still under construction, and while MJ nor Bird nor Magic nor Russell can add anything more to theirs, James still has a hard hat on and is still working.

We do believe this: James is fun to watch for a variety of reasons, the biggest being he is the most unselfish superstar ever — almost unselfish to a fault at times. And enjoying that, and the assembly of a career that's going to be in the discussion of the best ever, is more than enough for us.

————

From TJ

  • Huge crowd attends Best of Preps banquet with Chipper Jones
    A sold out crowd of more than 1,500 athletes, parents and coaches attended the annual Best of Preps banquet presented by the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Monday. Former Atlanta Braves all-star Chipper Jones was the featured speaker at the event, which highlights the best athletes and coaches from all 14 high school sports.

I have read the 5@10 for a while now and really enjoy the back and forth. I have never thought about writing in but after going to the Best of the Preps dinner this week, I had to ask a couple of questions.

Jay, you did a great job hosting the event and Chipper seemed really cool. My question is, who is the coolest athlete you've met and who is the worst?And if I can ask one more -- this was my first Best of the Preps, but which dinner was the best one?

Thanks, and thanks for the 5-at-10.

TJ —

Thanks for reading and for the questions. And feel free to swing by anytime. (This is where we used to say, don't cost nothing in honor of John Blutarsky in Animal House, but with the new web system, it either don't cost nothing or don't don't cost nothing depending on when you click on the story. Suddenly out head hurts. Where were we? Oh yeah...)

This year's Best of Preps was the best one we've been a part of to tell you the truth. Everything seemed to go very smoothly, and the folks behind the scenes who have helped us raise this event to unimagined heights have really found a groove with this puppy.

Chipper was by far the best of the five we've had who did the Q-and-A format. The best speaker in our 11 years of going to the banquet was Bill Curry, who also is one of the most genuine and good dudes we've met in this BID-ness.

As for sports stars who impressed us or who left us less than impressed, well, you have to know that the media folks see some behind-the-scenes stuff, but a lot of times, it's crafted and calculated, too. And in truth, some guys are just better in that setting than others.

As far as being cool, well, there's several definitions of that. We'll say this, Deion Sanders was very gracious and generous with his time to the TFP sports editor when we were new in the BID-ness and didn't really know what we're doing. We also have been very impressive with the genuine nature and cool demeanor of our last two BoP speakers — Chipper and Eli Manning.

As for the others, well, Tiger is not exactly a peach, Mrs. Haverkamp. But to be fair, it seems like there's something to be said about the drive and the determination and the singular of focus that comes with working to be the best ever, because there are a lot of the supreme, ultra super-duperstars — Tiger, Serena, Saban, Jordan, Bellichick, et al. — who do not exactly seem like ideal dinner companions.

Great question.

————

  • photo
    Actor James Gandolfini attends the 2009 New York Film Critic's Circle Awards in this Jan. 11, 2010 file photo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

From Jomo

James Gandolfini belongs on Mount Rushmore of leading stars in long time TV series. Right up there with Perry Mason actor Raymond Burr, James Arness of Gunsmoke. . . . And who else, Jay?

Jomo —

We had been working on something similar even before James Gandolfini passed, and Gandolfini was on it then.

There really are two lists here, and Gandolfini as Tony Soprano is likely on both.

The first Rushmore is the best lead characters in TV history. The second is the Rushmore of actors that became forever linked with the character they played.

As for the first, it's a true blend of great writing and great acting. Our Rushmore of lead characters in TV history is Tony Soprano, JR Ewing, Archie Bunker and Homer Simpson. (Side note: We did not count people on great shows who were playing themselves like Seinfeld, Lucy or Cosby.)

As for the characters on the Rushmore of link (the ultimate test is when you see them, you go, "Hey, there's the Fonz") we'll go Tony Soprano, Arthur Fonzarelli, Thomas Magnum and Kosmo Kramer.

————

From sportsfan

Jay - I just saw that James Gandolfini died. Bummer. Always thought Tony Soprano would return to the big screen. For the Friday mailbag...name your Rushmore of entertainers (music, tv, or film) that would leave a big hole if they left this earth too soon.

Sportsfan —

Such a great question, and in some way, Gandolfini could be considered for this even though The Sopranos has been off the air for a few years. we loved that series and like you always expected a movie spin off at some point. Now, that can't happen. (And even if it does, we're not acknowledging it. You can't have The Sopranos without Tony.)

Our Rushmore of entertainers we'd miss — George Strait,

————

From Walden

Gawd, how long til College Football?

Walden —

While this question was asked rhetorically, we thought we needed to answer it. Ten weeks from tomorrow until the start of the season, which means roughly six weeks until the start of preseason practice.

And yes, we need to get ready. So for the next six weeks, we're going to spend a week on each of the big six teams in out coverage area. We'll spend a week on UT, UTC, Alabama, Georgia, Auburn (because we can) and then the last week on questions across college football. We'll announce the order later today, and we're still tinkering with the set up so give us a little room.

Ten weeks seems like a long time, but it seems shorter than 70 days, right?

————

From McPell

The MLB trading deadline is about a month away, what, if any, deals do the Braves make? Besides setting Uggla up in the stands with a pitching machine to provide a nice breeze for the fans in the August heat.

McPell —

We're still too far out to speculate because we do not which teams will be buyers and which will be sellers. Plus, we believe the Braves are in the enviable position of getting to wait and see if the rest of their division forces them to make a deal.

If they are going to make a run to win the whole thing, they definitely need another bat in the lineup. The formula of Freeman and hopin' for a homer is going to be tough come playoff time. There also is a need in the bullpen in front of Craig Kimbrel

And while they have starting pitching to deal, if they were going to acquire a hitter, it's going to have to be a piece that is a serious addition. You can't rent a hitter, displace a player that's going to be in Atlanta for the next few years, and then expect them to be better for it next year. And yes, we are speaking of the human fanning machines that are the Struggla and the Stinky Upton.

Now if you can find someone who would take either of those two, great. If you're ready to cut bait with an Uggla or a Heyward or whomever, then make them part of the deal. If not, adding a piece and wrecking the chemistry of a club that seems to have a good vibe may be subtraction by addition, especially if Stinky Upton's part of the deal and it causes Mediocre Upton to impersonate his brother out of protest.

That said, here's saying that if/when the Braves cut bait with lil' Danny Struggla, he goes somewhere and returns to the guy that the Braves traded for — a .260 hitter with a ton of power and a load of walks. And here's saying that he destroys the Braves forever, be it in Atlanta or against Atlanta.

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 ...

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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.
chas9 said...

Jay bird--You said proper goodbyes to Tony Soprano and the Men's Warehouse guy, but why no love for the late Slim Whitman, who held #1 on the England pop charts longer than Elvis or The Beatles, and whose music destroyed the invaders in Mars Attacks? Michael Jackson was crazy for Slim. Well, that's kinda a mixed endorsement.

June 21, 2013 at 10:35 a.m.
Buschleague said...

5-Couple of things: 1)5@10 is money,I don't always agree but your astute assessments of all things sports is a pleasure to read. Pro. 2) When Jordan was soaring the term 'greatest athlete on the planet' was often used, to my chagrin. It's not applied to Lebron and who knows what he'll accomplish in the end but strictly genetically speaking he might be the best 'athlete' to lace em up. Also Big three..Bosch-Allen 0 points combined last night?? Not so big.

June 21, 2013 at 10:37 a.m.
Todd962 said...

What a night. We learned why Lebron only eats freedom fries right in Tony Parker's face, we learned that Pop does have a good, genuine, smiling side but will inevitably return to d-head mode when confronted by media questioning, and we saw that Velociraptors are in fact extinct, particularly in big time games. (I vowed that if Bosh had cost the Heat that game I was going to be pulling all my funds from the Jurassic Park research fund to save the Raptor. Turrible.)

But Lebron's cape didnt get caught on anything and Wade even decided to show up with his buddy Shane. How nice of them. Thats two years in a row various downtown bombers came through for the Heat in the clutch. Theyre living high by the three today.

Awesome side note, Lady Todd was kind enough to watch the entire game with me last night, offering minimal distractions and after Lebron's last jumper, she says, and I quote, "That guy doesnt just wiz excellence, he shats it." "Yes he does, wife to be, yes he does." sailor talk, I think I am rubbing off on her

June 21, 2013 at 10:56 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

Didn't finish answering sportsfan's question.....

Also, kickoff is two days closer than that.

Ole Miss-Vanderbilt and South Carolina-North Carolina kick things off on Thursday night, along with with many other games.

June 21, 2013 at 11:26 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Was Slim Randy Whitman's pop? Did he invent those great chocolate gift boxes?

Busch —

Thanks for the kind words, and we love to have new views and differing opinions — that's what makes talking sports fun.

Yes, Jordan was talked about as the greatest athlete on the planet. LeBron doesn't get that kind of praise, but he likely should. He guarded every Spur from Parker to Duncan. Plus, we believe if he entered the NFL supplemental draft this summer — at 28 without having a football background — he's a first-round pick, and would be a force at wide receiver tomorrow.

Todd —

Sounds like two peas in a pod. And welcome the Mrs. Todd to the LeBron fan club. There's plenty of room on the bandwagon.

And how crazy is it that the Cavs — with Kyrie Irving and soon-to-be-No. 1 pick Nerlens Noel — now have a better cast of supporting characters than the Heat do?

Stuck —

Wow, great catch. Well, catches for that matter.

The second part first — Stuck's right, the first full Saturday of the college football season is 10 weeks from tomorrow; the first games are 10 weeks from yesterday.

As for Sportsfan's Rushmore:

We'd be sadden by the deaths of George Strait, Ferrall (especially if it happened before Anchorman II came out), Laura Hillenbrand (the best non-fiction writer out there — Seabiscuit and Unbroken are excellent... well-played indeed) and LeBron, because we would be robbed of seeing where his career arc would end.

We would mourn Willie and a few other old-timers (and Gary Coleman — "whatcha you talkin' bout 5-at-10") but their deaths would be about tributes rather than the loss of future hits/greatness.

June 21, 2013 at 11:45 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Pretty basic-basic given the "down time" in this area sports wise. Unfortunately, I am what you call LeBron neutral. Don't care six ways from Sunday. I do find it interesting that he looks like a badass but compared to other well-known thugs in pro-sports, he's pretty much squicky-clean (I'm looking at you Pac-Man).

As long as he doesn't pull a Paul Rubens (literally no pun intended) for example, he can break every basketball record in the book for all I care.

Interesting seeing Authur Fonzerelli on the Rushmore of iconic characters. As for Henry, how the mighty have fallen. He goes from being on one of ABC's top rated shows and his jacket on display at the Smithsonian to.....Children's Hospital on Adult Swim (viewship: barely six figures).

June 21, 2013 at 11:58 a.m.
Walden said...

Jay - in your opening section, on Lebron, you didn't mention Kobe Bryant one time, not once. That makes me smile. I hate that SOB.

June 21, 2013 at 12:22 p.m.
Walden said...

Jay - I just noticed you answered my rhetorical question. Thanks. I have to admit I'm just a hater when it comes to the NBA. Way too long of a season. When did the playoffs start? February or some crapola like that? Come on man~!

June 21, 2013 at 12:26 p.m.
WilliamRscott said...

I have a question for today's participants or next Friday's mail bag: How good of a coach is Erik Spoelstra?

Billy-In-Brainerd

June 21, 2013 at 1:45 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Billy —

That's a great question, and one we'll get into next week.

Walden —

The NBA is like college football, there is no offseason any more.

Kobe is not even in the discussion with LeBron and Jordan and the other elite players. In fact, if you had an all-time 15-man roster, we don't think Kobe survives the final cut.

JMC —

The Fonz wasn't one of our top iconic characters as much as Winkler was the Fonz forever and ever. In fact, watching Winkler be a goof in Night Shift or in Waterboy still is a little disconcerting.

June 21, 2013 at 2:01 p.m.
Walden said...

Jay - your take on Kobe is certainly contra-SportTalk. Those guys, especially CBJ, fawn all over Kobe.

June 21, 2013 at 2:12 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jay,

Busy day so I was kinda half-reading the Rushmore. Sorry for my confusion.

Henry has done some cameos where he generated a decent range but at the same time, hard to imagine him as anything but the Fonz. Same with Adam West as who a lot of have now dubbed "The Light Knight".

June 21, 2013 at 2:14 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Walden —

Kobe is a great, great player. He is not an all-timer, however, because all he can do is score. Granted, if you are going to be great at one aspect, scoring is a very good to be elite, but still.

If LeBron James is Magic Johnson 2.0 — a more athletic better scoring all-timer — is it a stretch to call Kobe a George Gervin 2.0 with a touch of Jordan's competitive fire.

If LeBron was as egotistical and maniacal as Kobe, he'd average 38-40 points a game. Seriously.

Kobe is a career 45.4 percent shooter. How is that worthy of consideration for anything all-time?

Kobe's career numbers — 17 years, 25.5 points per game, 45.4 percent from the floor, 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists.

James' career numbers — 10 years, 27.6 points per game, 7.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 49 percent from the floor.

Jordan's career numbers — 15 years, 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 49.7 percent from the floor.

JMC —

No sweat. And that's a nice call on Mr. West. Zinger.

June 21, 2013 at 2:33 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

I'm a little surprised to see how little love Andy Griffith as Sheriff Andy Taylor gets on the Rushmore of leading men in a television show in this forum. I know it is a matter of personal taste so there is no right or wrong answer, but leaving Andy off is just plain wrong. The Andy Griffith Show, more than every other show in the history of television combined, is the one I make reference to in dealing with situations and people that arise on a daily basis. Sheriff Taylor was John Wayne and a Zen master rolled into one. He was the boss without being bossy. Andy was the alpha male and oracle of Mayberry.

If religion and philosophy have let you down, watch The Andy Griffith Show. The answers will reveal themselves.

June 21, 2013 at 3 p.m.
jgreeson said...

GD —

We have a similar amount of huge respect for Sheriff Taylor and he was on the final cut list.

He was wiped off the "actor-role" connection list because a lot of folks know him as Matlock, too.

In fact, if there was a Rushmore of guys that had two long-time lead roles in different TV series, it would Doogie Houser, Andy Griffith, Carroll O'Connor and Bob Newhart maybe.

That said, that's high praise in that final sentence — asa lama Barney good sir.

June 21, 2013 at 3:10 p.m.
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