Tag:LeBron James
Posted on: January 29, 2012 3:51 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 6:47 am

LeBron James jumps over Bulls guard for alley-oop

Posted by Ben Golliver

Everything was proceeding normally until LeBron James decided to jump over somebody.

The Heat's All-Star forward jumped completely over Chicago Bulls guard John Lucas III to complete an alley-oop from Heat guard Dwyane Wade during Sunday's matchup between last year's Eastern Conference finalists. With the Heat leading 14-7, James used a back screen from Heat guard Mario Chalmers to run mostly free on the baseline. Lucas, a 5-foot-11 guard, switched in an attempt to defend James once the lob action developed. James simply hurdled him completely, catching the pass with one hand above the rim and somehow managing to finish the dunk cleanly. Upon re-entry to Earth, James turned around and barked at Lucas, letting him know exactly what had happened.

"It's a great pass by D-Wade," James said in a televised postgame interview. "Without the pass, I don't finish the shot. Give all the props to D-Wade. I just went to go get it."

"Give all the credit to D-Wade," James repeated in a postgame interview posted on ESPN.com. "He threw it, I can't let him down and not go get it. It was a great play out of the timeout, D-Wade threw it and I was able to finish it... We're not 'Lob City' but we're doing OK." 

Simply ridiculous. Here's the video of LeBron James jumping over a defender to finish an alley-oop against the Chicago Bulls.

Posted on: January 27, 2012 1:37 pm

3-on-2 Fast Break: Bulls vs. Heat

Posted by EOB

LeBron matched against Rose could be the most interesting matchup in Bulls-Heat. (Getty Images)

3-on-2 Fast Break is a weekly feature here on Eye on Basketball where our intrepid bloggers tackle two questions, comparing two elements. This week, we focus on Sunday's showdown between the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat. Follow Eye on Basketball on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

1. Heat-Bulls on Sunday, and Luol Deng wants to try and play. Considering the long-term goals of the Bulls, shouldn't they at least not rush him back into a game versus, you know, LeBron James?

Ben Golliver: I'm not going to play doctor, but I'm in the "better safe than sorry" crowd this season, especially as we've seen other coaches use extra caution in sitting their players and/or extending the timelines until they return. The Bulls are in a position, given their record and their talent base, where this isn't anything approaching a must-win. Follow the trainer's advice, don't push it and exercise an extra measure of caution. There are no statement games in late-January this season. This should be a relatively simply risk/reward calculation.

Royce Young: If you're healthy and CAN play, I say you play. It's one game and it really doesn't mean a lot in the grand scheme, but as long as you're not risking long-term damage or something, go for it. It's the type of thing where if Deng re-injures it playing 46 minutes against the Heat, everyone will blame Thibodeau for rushing things back. But these guys want to play, especially in marquee games like that. How are you really going to tell Deng to take it easy if he's ready and willing to go?

Matt Moore: Deng's toughness is admirable. But the Bulls have a goal of a championship and there's no reason to throw out Deng against one of the most physical covers in the league just to try and win a regular season game. It may make them feel better to get a win against the Heat after the kick in the pants Miami gave them in the Conference Finals, but not if it winds up keeping Deng out longer. The shortened schedule is already forcing them to play Derrick Rose with that toe injury which sounds like it hurts like all get out, and they may or may not be short Taj Gibson. Finally the Heat aren't the team with injury issues.

2. What's the matchup to keep an eye on?

Golliver: Eddy Curry continuing his revenge tour against his old teams, of course. I'm expecting double-doubles against both New York on Friday and Chicago on Sunday and I'm not talking about In-and-Out Burgers. But, really, Rose versus the Heat's defense is the match-up. He left the Eastern Conference Finals with a taste in his mouth and he made it clear this week after the Pacers game that he's taking names and making a mental list of those who slight him. How that plays out after LeBron James decided the East Finals by locking him up will be must-see TV.

Young: Derrick Rose vs. LeBron James. That defensive switch really made all the difference in the playoff series last year. LeBron completely shut down Rose's ability to penetrate and because of his size, Rose couldn't even settle for a clean jumper over him. The addition of Richard Hamilton is supposed to help with taking a little of the stress off Rose in those circumstances, but this game will come down to the stars making plays. Will it be LeBron or Rose? Unfortunately for Rose, he's going to have to do it with big No. 6 in front of him.

Moore: Carlos Boozer vs. Chris Bosh. Bosh shocked some people by coming through huge for the Heat in this series, and he's off to an even better start this year. He's figured out where to fit in the Miami offense and he's been more aggressive for once. Boozer's Boozer. He's going to get his but how he plays defensively will be a bit more important. The Bulls can't afford for two of the Big 3 to get going. Wade may be shaky coming back from injury, and who knows how LeBron James will respond in a big game like this after the last six months. But if Bosh gets it going, that's going to create havoc for Chicago, especially with Taj Gibson possibly out or not at 100 percent.
Posted on: January 25, 2012 3:00 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 3:01 pm

Forbes: Kobe tops LeBron as NBA's highest earner

Kobe Bryant is the NBA's top earner. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver

The Los Angeles Lakers are back on top as the NBA's most valuable franchise and All-Star guard Kobe Bryant retains his crown as the league's top earner.

The latest evaluation from Forbes Magazine estimates that Bryant will earn $53.2 million in salary and endorsements this year, well more than his closest competition. Miami Heat All-Star forward LeBron James is No. 2 at $49 million.
Bryant’s following has allowed him to amass an endorsement portfolio of global brands including Nike, Smart Car, Panini and Turkish Airlines that pay him $28 million annually. Factor in his league leading $25.2 million salary from the Lakers and Bryant is the NBA’s top-earning athlete at $53.2 million.

Bryant’s Lakers salary is $3 million greater than any other NBA player thanks to the idiosyncrasies of the NBA’s maximum salary rules on individual players. 
Bryant, 33, is a 5-time NBA champion and 13-time All-Star. He is currently leading the NBA in scoring, at 30.5 points per game and is currently the Western Conference's leading vote-getter for the 2012 All-Star Game. Entering this season, Bryant had earned more than $196 million in salary during his career, according to Basketball-Reference.com.

In December, Vanessa Bryant, Kobe's wife, filed for divorce. She will reportedly receive up to $75 million in the divorce settlement, including three California houses owned by the couple. 

The rest of the top-5 NBA earners, according to Forbes: Orlando Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard (28.9 million), Miami Heat All-Star guard Dwyane Wade (27.7 million) and New York Knicks All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony (26.5 million).
Posted on: January 23, 2012 2:49 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 3:29 pm

Quarterly Report Awards: LeBron leads MVP

James leads the pack of first-quarter MVP candidates (Getty Images)

This lockout-shortened NBA season is already a quarter over for most teams, stunningly. It has been a crazy whirlwind under the compacted schedule, and we're seeing older teams like the Mavericks, Lakers, and Celtics struggle through it. Meanwhile, deep, younger teams like the Nuggets and Sixers are thriving, and yet the same powers that were expected to be at the top are, even with Miami fallen off a bit. So to get a fix on where we are this season, we thought we'd hand out some awards, roundtable-style. 

1. Who's your MVP?

Royce Young: LeBron James. The Heat lost their first game without Dwyane Wade this weekend, but still, they're 5-1 without him and that's pretty much because LeBron is still the best player in the world.

Matt Moore: I don't want to say LeBron James, because it seems too obvious, but I'm going to say LeBron James, because it's so obvious. No one takes over those first 46 minutes like he does, and without them, you don't get to the time where he has so many question marks.

Ben Golliver: We’ve exhausted the ways to explain LeBron James’ individual brilliance in recent years, but the modifications that he’s made to his game – slashing his three-point attempts, improving his mid-range shot, getting to the free throw line more than he did last season – plus ridiculous numbers (29.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 2.1 blocks, 56.4 percent shooting) make this James’ best season to date. Give it to him so we don’t have to listen to arguments in 5-8 years about how many times he was snubbed, like we’re been hearing from droning Kobe Bryant fans since 2006.

2. If star power wasn't a factor, just straight out "who helps their team the most," who's your MVP?

Royce Young: Still LeBron. I think it became pretty obvious last season how valuable he is to a roster when the Cavs went from a contender to the longest losing streak in NBA history just with the subtraction of LeBron.

Matt Moore: I think it's a tie between Gerald Wallace and Andre Iguodala. Both of those guys do such a phenomenal job in every facet of the game for their teams, and the wins and losses often correspond to how they come out. They're so active with and without the ball and make so many plays for their teams, they have a ridiculous level of impact on their teams, even if James is a superior player.

Ben Golliver: James’ PER ranking is 8 full points above the nearest competition (35 to Bryant’s 27) and he’s carried the Heat in Dwyane Wade’s absence due to injury, so his claim to “helping his team most” to date is essentially indisputable.

3. Is ROY a two-man race already?

Royce Young: Not yet. Ricky Rubio is the first quarter ROY, and Kyrie Irving is right there with him, but don't count out Kemba Walker and even Brandon Knight, who had quietly been playing well in Detroit early on.

Matt Moore: Rubio is drawing comments from people who say he is unlike anything they've ever seen and Irving is statistically dominant in nearly every category. If there were an award for Rookie to wind up making the most impact on wins and losses, I'd go with Kawhi Leonard, who will be making life very unhappy for some team in the playoffs.

Ben Golliver: We’ve definitely got the Ricky Rubio vs. Kyrie Irving two-headed monster that we expected, but the twist is that both the Timberwolves (11th in West) and the Cavaliers (9th in East) are fringe-y playoff teams rather than conference basement dwellers. Team performance could easily be the deciding factor.

4. If James Harden was starting like he should, who would be your sixth man of the year?

Royce Young: It's a close race between Al Harrington and Lou Williams. Both impact their teams greatly when they step onto the floor.

Matt Moore: Al Harrington. Harrington's ability to score anywhere on the floor combined with his active defense make him the prime candidate and it's not close.

Ben Golliver: Mo Williams of the Clippers has dealt with some injuries but has put up 14.5 points and 3.9 assists while shooting the ball extremely well (53.8 percent from the field and 44.8 percent from deep) during the season’s first month.

5. Who wins "worst coaching performance?"

Royce Young: Paul Westphal. Getting fired kind of seals your fate by default, doesn't it? But Westphal, who is a good basketball mind, just couldn't connect with his young team and lost them. That's not doing a good job.

Matt Moore: It pains me to say this because I think he's limited by his roster and will work out in the long-run for the Pistons, but Lawrence Frank has disappointed. Signing veterans with limite upside and impact isn't his fault, but relying on them is. The pieces are there for the Pistons to come together, but it simply hasn't so far this year.

Ben Golliver: I’ll give it to Flip Saunders of the Washington Wizards, if only because he was blown off so blatantly by referee Danny Crawford during this argument. He should have already been fired.

6. If we were giving an award for "strategic adjustment" by a team, who wins?

Royce Young: Rick Adelman has done the best job of any coach so far this season. The Wolves are finally organized offensively and he smartly managed the Rubio starting situation. He gave him time to ease in and made the move to start him before it became a nagging issue that was a constant topic of discussion.

Matt Moore: I'm going with Doug Collins' use of his bench. Deploying them as units and then integrating based on what's working in-game has been genius. Honorable mention to George Karl's two-point-guard lineup.

Ben Golliver: Completely disregarding defense was getting played out, so props to Mike D’Antoni’s Knicks for switching it up and completely disregarding offense.

7. Who has the best defense in the league, team and player?

Royce Young: The Bulls have easily been the best defense. Teams are having trouble cracking 80 on them for crying out loud. At home, they've held four teams to under 70. Best player, I'm giving credit to Andre Iguodala who had been terrific defending the perimeter so far this year.

Matt Moore: Chicago has the best team defense, but the Sixers' more basic, very stable set is a strong candidate as well. Dwight's the obvious pick, but with the Magic's overall defense not as hot, how about the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan? A block machine. He still overreaches on help at times, but overall he's been nearly dominant down low.

Ben Golliver: I think we’re at the same place we were last year: Chicago has proven itself to be the NBA’s best defense while Magic center Dwight Howard (16.1 rebounds, 2.3 blocks per game) is in a category all his own when it comes to individual accomplishments and impact.

Andre Iguodala has helped the Sixers to a surprisingly strong start. (Getty Images)
8. What wins "best storyline" for you?

Royce Young: The 76ers and Pacers quiet rise to contendership. Both teams don't really have any starpower and might not be able to sustain this success through the year, but they're playing well right now and positioning for a high seed in the East.

Matt Moore: The Knicks, Celtics, and Lakers falling apart like a flan in a cupboard. Nothing is more scinitllating that star-studded teams in big markets collapsing.

Ben Golliver: The Denver Nuggets and the Utah Jazz being so much better than the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets, the teams who made blockbuster moves for Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams at least year’s deadline.

9. Best free agent signing, first-quarter?

Royce Young: David West. He's given the Pacers exactly what they needed. An extra scoring option and someone to rely upon late in games for a big basket.

Matt Moore: Marc Gasol. Cheap out as he was re-signed, but Gasol has been even better than last year and looks like the franchise center he's being paid to be. Memphis made out huge with that deal.

Ben Golliver: Among the teams with the top records in the league, the Pacers adding David West – solidifying them as a likely top-4 team in the East – and the Clippers nabbing the amnestied Chauncey Billups – giving them a foul-drawing machine and a stand-in replacement when Chris Paul gets injured, both merit acknowledgement.

10. Who is the best team in the league?

Royce Young: Chicago. The Bulls are a bit boring -- especially when Derrick Rose doesn't play -- but you can't ignore how they're just hammering on people right now. Scoring against Chicago is a full on chore and with Luol Deng playing great, Carlos Boozer looking better and of course having Rose ready to carry the load when needed, the Bulls appear to have the total package.

Matt Moore: The Miami Heat. I know what the records say. I know how good Chicago and the Thunder have looked. But the Heat at their best are a better team than they were last year. OKC doesn't look as good, and Chicago is the same. Look me in the eye and tell me you're confident either of those teams can knock off the Heat if it's best vs. best. Chicago or OKC can both win the championship this season. The Heat are still the best team.

Ben Golliver: The Bulls are No. 2 in defense, No. 6 on offense and No. 1 in rebounding; their closest competition, the Thunder, are ranked No. 5, No. 14 and No. 16 in those categories. So far, this one isn’t as close as the records might indicate. I think Orlando – riding Howard and their point generating machine of an offense -- is a strong dark horse.
Posted on: January 21, 2012 10:37 pm

Heat wear orange & pink Floridians jerseys

Posted by Ben Golliver 


The Miami Heat took to the court on Saturday night against the Philadelphia 76ers wearing a white, pink and orange throwback jerseys that paid tribute to the Miami Floridians of the American Basketball Association.

The Floridians were only in existence from 1968 through 1970 before moving to Minnesota, but that didn't stop LeBron James and company from donning the throwbacks as a South Florida tribute. The design features a white base, black lettering and numbers, pink borders and distinctive orange and pink vertical stripes on the left side of the jersey and shorts.

ESPN.com reports that this Floridians design is one of just six different jerseys that the Heat will wear during the 2011-2012 season. During a nationally-televised game on Thursday, Miami donned a shiny black jersey to face the Los Angeles Lakers.

For the record, Miami topped the 76ers, 113-92, at American Airlines Arena.

Here are some more pictures of the Floridians design modeled by, from left to right, Shane Battier, Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers.

Category: NBA
Posted on: January 19, 2012 11:37 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 11:41 pm

Report Card: Lakers-Heat Grades

Grades from the Heat's 98-87 win over the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday night. 

LeBron James

Well, he was on 4-9 in the fourth quarter. But then, that didn't really matter, since he scored 31 points (but needed 27 shots), had 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals, and 3 blocks. That's about as complete a game you're going to find in a game with this kind of pace. James had pretty much everything working. A teardrop, a hook shot, threes, mid-range, dunks, the works. His team needed him to step up with flu-like symptoms and he got it done. It's not the flu game, but it is very impressive.

Erik Spoelstra

Spoelstra managed a pretty magnificent stratagem against the Lakers. He doubled Kobe Bryant as aggressively as you can, daring the Lakers' perimeter shooters to hit shots from range. When they couldn't, the Lakers' offense fell apart. Bryant was forced into either deferring or poor shots. The Heat's defense was in fine form. They funneled the ball where they wanted and when it went where they didn't (Andrew Bynum), they hammered the Lakers and made them hit free throws. Masterful game by Spo.

Mario Chalmers

Didn't shoot well, but ran the offense effectively and was disruptive on defense. Chalmers made no boneheaded plays and wound up with six assists. He did what the point guard on this kind of team needs to do. His job, and nothing more.

Chris Bosh

Bosh was charged with a brutal task. Score against two of the best big men in the league and defend them when they have multiple inches and tons of weight on him. Yet Bosh was effective in deterring entry passes and being active on the weak side. He spaced the floor with 15 points and set the tone.

Pau Gasol

The lone bright spot, Gasol should have gotten the ball much more in this game. He had the mid-range and was aggressive driving. It was a vintage performance wasted by a terrible Lakers offense.

Kobe vs. LeBron

The record is 11-5 and James just beat him with flu-like symptoms (Bryant obviously dealing with a torn ligament in his wrist that is arguably much more severe). James has won five straight against No. 24. Those that feel regular season games are meaningless won't be affected by these games (or anything short of James winnning six rings). But if we're buying into head-to-head to any degree, James' dominance is clear.

Kobe Bryant

Some poor shot selection, which you expect. But a lot of shots he usually hits just weren't falling. He controlled his shooting, controlled his turnovers, and tried to get the Lakers back in the game. Bryant's biggest problem Thursday night was not being as good as LeBron James. And really, on a night like Thursday, how do you blame him for that?

The Lakers mystique

Note that James didn't have an A game, Bosh didn't have an A game, the Heat didn't have Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant scored 11 straight in the fourth.... and they lost by eleven. The Lakers can still win a title this season. But no one's scared of this team right now. The menace is gone.
Posted on: January 19, 2012 11:37 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 11:42 pm

Miami is now 5-0 without Wade -- what's it mean?

Posted by Royce Young

Let me stop myself before I even start: No, the Heat are not better without Dwyane Wade. Yes, even thinking that is pretty stupid. No, the Heat should not trade him. Yes, that's a whole other level of stupid. 

But you know what? The fact the Heat improved to 5-0 without him with a 98-87 win over the Lakers Thursday and are 5-4 with him this season is kind of hard to ignore. And it's impossible not to wonder what it might mean.

Here's my conclusion: It means LeBron is still the best player in basketball. And it's not really all that close.

What you see from LeBron is a player unchained from any restraints of fitting alongside someone else. A player that can completely play free, dominate the ball, handle every situation himself and control a game. When Wade isn't on the floor with LeBron, everything is focused on No. 6. It's hard to take your eyes off of LeBron because he holds the game in the palm of his hand.

Remember how with the Cavs sometimes LeBron would get hot and pull up for 3s from all over the floor? Sometimes even just a few steps in front of half court? That's how he goes at it in Miami without Wade. With Wade, LeBron had taken nine 3-pointers total, hitting three. Without him, LeBron has attempted 10 (in four games), hitting six.

In the four games LeBron has played this season without Wade (remember, LeBron sat out with Wade in a win over the Hawks), he's averaging 32.2 points, 10.0 assists and 7.0 rebounds a game. With Wade, LeBron's putting up 25.4 points, 5.6 assists and 7.4 rebounds. When LeBron plays without Wade, he becomes the Cleveland version of himself, carrying a lower class of players to a higher place, while he dominates the entire game. Except he has Chris Bosh, who plays about the same with or without Wade. But LeBron never had a guy of Bosh's caliber in Cleveland. His supporting cast in Miami without Wade is better than the one assembled with the Cavs.

Now, again, there's no question at all that the Heat are a better team with Dwyane Wade. If they are to win a championship, it will absolutely hinge on the health and inclusion of No. 3 in everything they do. But I do think that LeBron might be a better individual player without Wade. His mind is set free, his game has the shackles removed and he's allowed to roam and own a game in the way he was created to do. But that's the funny thing: LeBron might not ever have won a championship being the clear, indisputable best player in basketball.

Because in order for him to fully realize everything he's amazing at, he has to have free reign over the entire floor. He has to be able to take ownership of a game. That kind of thing can dazzle and destroy teams in the regular season, but was proven to fail in the postseason. He may have been able to win a title on his own, but it would've taken near flawless basketball from him to do it.

Instead with Wade at his side, LeBron can fall asleep in a fourth quarter, can have an off night, can fail miserably at different times and the Heat still be an amazing team. I mean, against Dallas, the Heat were not far off from winning a title despite LeBron not playing well and the fact it was their first season together in a chemistry experiment. That was the whole idea of forming that group in South Beach. LeBron was sick of trying to be perfect. The glory might've been all his had he been able to accomplish the goal and climb to the mountain top. But it would not have been easy. So he teamed with Wade and Bosh and set himself up for a better shot at it.

It really speaks to LeBron's inherent unselfishness as a player and person. Rather than soak it all in and have people drool over his god-like ability on the basketball court, he'd rather fit in alongside his buddies and win. The Heat are collectively an awesome team when fully operational. When it's LeBron and the Other Guys, they're still a really good squad that can demolish teams like the Spurs and Lakers, but not one entirely equipped to finish the objective and win a championship.

I do want to thank Wade though for taking it easy with his foot and ankle injuries because it's given us the treat of seeing just how freaking good LeBron James is when he gets to unleash his full arsenal of ability. Because every now and then, we need to be reminded of just how damn good he really is.
Posted on: January 19, 2012 9:32 pm

LeBron nearly crushes Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria

Posted by Royce Young

For a second Thursday night in Miami, worlds collided. Kind of literally.

In the second quarter of the Heat's game against the Lakers, LeBron James was trying to chase down a loose ball by the sideline and lunged for it, crashing into a fan sitting courtside. But it wasn't just any old fan. It was Jeffrey Loria, the owner of the Miami Marlins.

TNT's Craig Sager asked LeBron about it at halftime to which LeBron responded he didn't know who it was he nearly crushed. And then after being told and acting like he knew, LeBron said he wanted to "get me one of those new hats they been wearing." Now that you know who he is, I'm sure you could just ask Mr. Loria after the game.
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