If LeBron wins the 2015-16 Championship for Cleveland, would he leave?

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By: Opinionated MJ

I know you think I’m causing an outrage, but let’s actually seriously take a look at this. I caught Stephen A. Smith during the aftermath of the finals saying something to the tune of, “Cleveland is lucky LeBron didn’t win this championship cause it would’ve given him the opportunity to leave.” Basically, story would be complete for Cleveland. LeBron leaves and leaves Cleveland heartbroken. LeBron comes back and everyone is happy again. LeBron wins a championship in his first year back. It can’t get any better. I doubt it could get better than that. Then he could go west and try to conquer getting out of the western conference which would cement his legacy in my opinion.

So how true was that statement? I believe a decent amount that Steven A. Smith says. He predicted alot of things that have come to pass and apparently has personal relationships with these players. Enough about him though, my point in making this a big deal is the fact that there IS something LeBron hasn’t done: Dominate the Western Conference.

How beautiful would it be if LeBron went to Phoenix last year? Los Angeles Lakers next season? Dallas? Maybe San Antonio? Memphis? Any west team would work. Could you imagine the dog fights he would have with the Warriors, Clippers, Spurs of the future, Grizzlies, Rockets, Thunder (if they keep both KD & Russell), Pelicans???!? I mean I could go on. It’s exciting. It’s also the only thing he hasn’t done.

LeBron hasn’t had competition in the east since my Detroit Pistons and ESPECIALLY the big 3 & Rondo Boston Celtics. Let’s be honest. The Bulls were supposed to be threats but have they actually come close to finally beating a LeBron led team? No. I like the Bulls so it’s no hate. Did the Pacers truly threaten the Heat? Maybe, but they never got the job done. Almost doesn’t count.

It was Boston legitimately and Indiana that (somewhat) make this list as the only true competitors over the last 5-7 years for LeBron. I mean, LeBron has been to the last 5 finals, so you can’t argue my point. Before that, it was Orlando and Boston twice. But wait… Cleveland before that. So he’s been to 6 of the last 9 finals. That’s 66%. Not even San Antonio has been to the finals that many times in that short of a span, 3 of 9. So let’s not say LeBron needs teammates of gold. He’s dragged two Cavs teams to the finals. They said lightening doesn’t strike in the same place twice. There’s a reason he made it that far even with team deficiencies and it’s because of HIS efficiency.

Watch the 2015 NBA Finals again and dare tell me LeBron couldn’t man a western team to the finals. The first “no-no” with this Tristan Thompson thing has come up. The beginning of building a way out. Something LeBron does rather discreetly when he’s going to make a move. If he does win and decide to go west, why not be a Sacramento “King”?

Chip for Clips?

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By: Opinionated MJ

Championship for Clippers?

Retaining DeAndre Jordan, acquiring Lance Stevenson, signing Paul Pierce… Have the Clippers now finally put themselves into championship contention instead of playoff contention? They’ve honestly had no excuse to lose in the last two seasons but somehow, someway, we found a way to give them another big room full of excuses. This time they “didn’t have the depth to survive against teams with more depth.” Okay, fine. Still, Blake Griffin improved his shot, Chris Paul improved his balance and also played in all 82 games, and JJ Redick finally made sense to be in someone’s starting rotation. Until the playoffs hit, then came calamity. We overlook the achievement for Chris Paul though, playing in all the games and doing his best to not miss any in the playoffs. In a new NBA world where the players don’t want to play 82 games, they want midseason vacations, a longer break during All-Star weekend, less minutes while they’re in their primes and requests for better teammates, Chris Paul actually found a way to improve. Just hope his critics were paying attention.

The real question now is, “Do the Clippers have the players in place to succeed?” I’m really high on having players who have “championship” experience on your team in order to get to the promise land. Golden State had a coach who has won in different settings. Be apart of the Jordan Bulls and the Spurs organization when they’ve won titles over the last 20 years. He’s been side by side with the likes of Jordan, Pippen, Duncan, Parker, Phil Jackson and Greg Popovich. It can’t get any better than that can it? He has a pedigree and understanding of the game. He also set the team up for success when he asked some of the players to play certain roles that would eventually land them a ring in return. The Clippers now have Doc Rivers along with Paul Pierce this time around step up into those big moments. If Pierce was there against the Rockets, it would’ve been Clippers 4-2. These additions are great for offense but what will they do for defense? Paul Pierce won’t be stopping anyway, and that’s the truth. Lance had a lost season with the Hornets but I’m sure that with CP3 and DeAndre on the floor with him, they’ll be a defensive nightmare and they will be able to hide him and Griffin on nights against the OKC Thunder and the Golden State Warriors. The real question now is, “What about those Spurs?”

Could they beat the Spurs now that they’ve added Aldridge and West to their team? Pierce isn’t guarding Duncan with any success. Did you see what Duncan was doing to DeAndre?!?! He was doing it at 39 years old and almost no athletic effort! So Imagine what pick & rolls will look like with Parker having Duncan and Aldridge at his disposal AT THE SAME TIME! They’ve retained their defense in Kawhi & Danny Green and they also have a system in place that apparently is the direct way to fight against father time. One year they’re old, the next year they are in the Finals. So we would be best to not drop that special “they’re old” line like we do when they have slow stretches. I don’t think that they’ll have any slow stretches this offseason.

Can the Clippers find a way to utilize Lance the way he was used during his last season in Indiana? If they can have him anchor the bench then I truly think they may have something figured out. Jamal Crawford actually wants to leave now and wants to go to the easy breezy Eastern Conference to the team that will damn near have a cakewalk to the Finals for the next 2-4 years, the Cavaliers. I sound like a hater. I am a proud hater of how garbage the Eastern Conference is. Go Cavs, I expect them to win a chip soon anyway, especially if this trade happens, but who is sent back in return? If I’m the Clippers, I’m pushing for Dellavedova and Thompson, yes BOTH! This won’t happen but I’m not helping a Finals team get better. I’m not accepting a JR Smith sign & trade. I would entertain acquiring Timofey Mozgov, sure, but I’ll need a few picks along with it. Hard bargain.

The path to the Finals goes through OKC, Golden State, and San Antonio. No one else is a legitimate threat, including the Rockets. Four headed monster in the West with a few dark horses. The Pelicans, Rockets, Grizzlies, and I’d just throw a #8 seeded Kings team out there just because I truly don’t know who’ll fit into that spot. The Clippers should be able to beat the lower seeds and have shown what they can do against the Spurs which legitimizes whether they could win in the west or not. At least to me. If you can beat the Spurs than you can survive and succeed out west. The Spurs have a way of breaking a team down and shredding away at your strengths. The Clippers proved to me that they’re ready to take the next step, it’s all left up to the chemistry they’ll have with their new additions.

FoR Kobe

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By: Opinionated MJ

I am a Kobe Bryant fan. I have been there throughout all his ups and downs. From his draft day and continuing through now. He was the next in line after Jordan to me. He stepped into Jordan’s space when Jordan retired for me as a fan. Now I see KD or Russell Westbrook carrying that torch when Kobe is done. More likely Russell. Anyway, I’ve been a fan throughout all of the criticisms and throughout all of the early naysayers. You know:

“He’s not better than AI. He’s not better than T-Mac. He’s not better than Vince Carter. He’s not going to win a championship. He’s a ball hog. He doesn’t pass the ball. He won’t win like Michael. He won’t be a leader. He won’t win a second championship. He won’t win a third championship. That thing in Denver, yeah, he did that! He did that! He’s going to jail. He’s a r*****. He’s not one of the best of all time. He won’t win without Shaq. He doesn’t impact his teammates. He’s not a likable person. He’s egotistical. He’s too selfish. He only wants to win on his terms. He took too much money. No one wants to play with him. No one likes Kobe.”

The charges are almost endless. I didn’t agree with those as a super die-hard fan of Kobe’s. I’ve since cooled but I am still very much in Kobe’s corner but now I’m also very realistic. My reality is simple though and looks past all of the prior things people would’ve said, past all of the personal things, past things that don’t relate to Kobe Bryant when he is on the court. Super simple: Facilitate or Retire.

Let it rain in, “Oh! You’re no Kobe fan!!” I very much am. I’ve been a witness to all of his successes and all of his failures. The only time you could question that is when he played the Detroit Pistons and lost. Come on, it’s the home team. He had to lose that one. You can’t win them all right? I’ve seen the duels against everyone they tried to make be “Kobe Stoppers.” HAHAHAHAHA! Ruben Patterson, Raja Bell (did the best job on him, IMO), Ron Artest, Bruce Bowen, Doug Christie, Matt Barnes, Tony Allen, and I know there’s more I’m missing but you get it.

He’s overcome all the obstacles and things people said he couldn’t do. He even used it in a manifesto for inspiration, twice. The man’s work ethic is second to none, literally. So why, really, how could I call on Kobe to retire? Well, he isn’t truly known to facilitate but he does have a nickname as “facilitator Kobe” that we’ve all forgotten because he is a scorer first, second, and third. He needs to be more of a player that’s going to threaten defenses near the rim and set his team up for easy shots, cuts, and drop in passes. He’s built to do this. He’s known widely as a scorer and no one would dare leave him open unless he was shooting 10% from the field on the season.

Imagine what he could do if he operated from where LeBron operated in the NBA Finals. Mid-post area to either score close to the basket, get to the basket using his footwork and fundamentals, or kicking it to an open or cutting teammate. It’s almost too easy. I’m not asking him to be LeBron, I never did. There are things that LeBron can’t do, Kobe can and vice versa at this point. Prime Kobe could do anything, but not now. I also think that Kobe may actually be one of the most dominant post players in the league only 3rd behind Tim Duncan and Demarcus Cousins. May sound like a reach but do your research. We can argue and debate, but do your reasearch about Kobe close to the basket. I’m not too interested in seeing him hoist Steph Curry distance 3 pointers, nor super contested long 2 pointers.

Kobe needs to understand that simple is better as his career winds down. He needs to allow these rookies to prove and teach them how to overcome their mistakes and become better players. Kobe has always improved his teammates whether you believe it or not. His hard bargain driving, superman work ethic, and dedication to the game rub off on everyone unless you’re just a super lazy, weak-minded individual. It’s gold to be able to be playing alongside Kobe. Practicing, watching film, and everything else that comes with it. He’s one of the last students of the game who can actually untap your potential without even actively being LeBron-esque or Jason Kidd-esque, Steve Nash-esque, or Magic Johnson-esque. I’m not asking him to turn into some superhero point guard either, I’m asking him to allow his teammates to become, well, his teammates. He doesn’t have to hijack every game if they brick 7 straight shots. He doesn’t have to let his takeover gene kick in when they fail on a few assignments. Jordan Clarkson wouldn’t have developed if it wasn’t for Kobe having to sit the rest of the season. That’s my honest opinion. No All Rookie First Team for him. He statistically matched Andrew Wiggins during the second half of the season. Having Kobe is gold, having Kobe be a mentor and a guide as you play is almost like having a diamond. His knowledge is worth more than anything else that anyone could provide. Who could better teach them? NO ONE! Phil Jackson doesn’t coach, LeBron doesn’t want to teach kids nor sit through a rebuild or he would’ve at least kept Wiggins around, and Durant, Russell, and other teams don’t have someone who could honestly teach these kids the ropes better than Kobe? Who would actually improve them by being hard on them, like a parent? Who would actually DEMAND that they show up or shut up? Who would actually tell them that they’re as soft as Charmin during practice? LOL! KOBE! KOBE! KOBE! KOBE! KOBE! KOBE!

Enough. Kobe… Facilitate or retire.

Respect The Shooter

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By: Opinionated MJ

What is the more important way to score in the NBA to you? What has happened to the art of the mid-range game? The way Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Reggie Miller, Richard Hamilton, and the Ray Allen’s of the world used to torch opponents was always a spectacle. Very rare to find it throughout the entire NBA today.

This is currently LeBron’s game depending on who you ask. The driving, the finishing, the kicking it out to the open man. Everyone considers that style of play as MVP basketball. It seems that if Kevin Durant didn’t average the assist numbers he did during his MVP season that he wouldn’t have become league MVP. I certainly don’t think so. So how did Stephen Curry win this year’s MVP award? I think the league is more LeBron, Russell Westbrook, more DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin than anything.

Then there’s the rare few players in the league that can light it up from anywhere on the floor. This brings us to Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry.

Who is the best shooter?

Could you honestly answer this question without truly thinking that maybe you’re wrong no matter how you answer it? It’s like there’s not enough decisiveness about who has done exactly what you think they should be doing. Stephen Curry should probably shoot more mid-range jumpers but he won the MVP and NBA Championship relying on his three pointer. Kevin Durant has won an MVP and has an NBA finals appearance but we all still think he should be more in control than Russell Westbrook.. wait, do we still believe that? Especially after the season Russell had without Kevin? Could they do it alone? I personally don’t think so. We’ve also seen Durant go for it on his own and he’s basically MVP by himself. So do we judge the winner by their body of work?

We knows who’s won and he’s done so being the focal point of his team’s success in efficiency and judged by win shares. Of course I’m talking about Chef Curry. The guy spent one-quarter of most of the games sitting because he put teams away in short order. He’s been the one who Steve Kerr gave the keys to and told him that the offense is running through him. After being much developed by Mark Jackson, I’ll give him his due, yeah, but Steve Kerr opened up the flood gates for Steph to just come in and shoot, shoot, shoot without a leash.

They said live by the three, die by the three but no one has ever truly lived from it until now. So do we acknowledge that he single-handedly changed the way the game could be played? Not only from an individual perspective but also a team perspective for those who are looking to team build and focus on small ball, Stephen Curry is the carrying the torch into a new era. Before he can truly run freely, he’s already been tasked with validating his championship. Which means his torch is lit but he can’t run just yet, it may go out.

Kevin Durant on the other hand is the silent assassin. The Slim Reaper, Easy Money Sniper. Tall enough to be considered a power forward but skilled enough to honestly play the shooting guard position. The guy who you’d expect to make the game winners that everyone else misses. The man should have a championship title under his belt if it wasn’t for injuries to each of the Thunder’s big 3 over the last 2-3 seasons plus the loss of James Harden. The man can shoot over anyone but seemingly only has a problem when Chris Paul guards him. Keep that dribble closer! I’ve seen Kevin Durant do some things I didn’t think were in him during his MVP season. It seemingly made it over the hump into superstar territory with the way he closed out teams. He had the best scoring tear since Kobe had his launch of great games strung together that led up to 81 and thereafter. He’s been the one man who everyone wants to see get a chance to run his own team and be the focal point, or at least convince Russell to defer to more often cause he can take you promised land easier than Russell can. He can shoot from anywhere on the floor just like Steph Curry and can also drive to the hole and make plays for his teammates. So much talent and basically gives his team the same package that Stephen Curry does.

So you still have only one answer and it has to be one or the other. Which answer do you give? What do you consider? If you take away all the accolades, who is the winner?

I’m going to go with Stephen Curry.

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