HOOP LOGIC with GOD FORBID’S DOC COYLE: THAT’S ALL OVER NOW
Welcome to the final 2011-12 Hoop Logic with ace axeman and peerless prognosticator Doc Coyle from awesome God Forbid. The NBA season is over and that is sad. But as we look ahead to um tonight’s draft and Halloween’s new season tip-off, we can rest assured that finally Lebron James is happy! And all the jerks whom he antagonized with his young man’s cockiness can shut up and enjoy NBA life again.
So while all butts are slowly purged of hurt, we thank you, MetalSucks reader, for joining us in ceding NBA life to summer, in bidding adieu to this frantic strike-altered, injury-pocked season, and in making sense of Lebron’s farewell to futility. See you after the jump!
NBA CHAMPION MIAMI HEAT
Doc, Lebron James was awesome in the NBA Finals and at long last has netted his first championship. Can his detractors agree unequivocally that he is a real man now?
I’ve been a fan since I first saw 22-year old Lebron in the 2007 Finals against the Spurs. He didn’t play that well and the Cavs were swept, but his abilities reinvigorated my interest in the NBA. I had never seen a player like him before. He was like Magic Johnson with Karl Malone’s physique and Michael Jordan’s speed, scoring ability, and athleticism.
From a playing standpoint, LBJ’s trangressions were his subpar performance in the 2010 Eastern Conference semis against the Celtics and his failure to have any impact in the 4th quarters of the Finals against the Mavericks in 2011. As a public figure, he rubbed the entire world wrong by leaving his home team on national television in “The Decision” and the Miami Heat’s subsequent coronation party where LeBron predicted as many as seven championships. He has warranted plenty of deserved criticism, but not this monumental witch-hunt. I think it’s really unhealthy to wish for the failure of someone who hasn’t done anything to you personally. It says a lot about our mentality.
LeBron’s detractors are a bit like Birthers. No matter how many official Hawaiian birth certificates are released, they will probably never believe. Some of my best friends are ardent, self-pronounced LeBron haters and being a LeBron hater seems to be a kind of immovable philosophy, a religion of some sorts. I’ve heard it said that the opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference. Hating is a form of caring. For whatever reason, he polarizes the public and draws us in whether you like him or not.
His journey has made great theater. So much of the disdain has risen from LeBron’s inability to live up to his “King” nickname, to show up in the moments when he was needed most. That playing card is off the table now, but some people just plainly don’t like him and it’s not about his basketball ability or, now, his winning acumen. They just tend to prefer a Tim Duncan- and Derrick Rose-type superstar: quiet, humble, classy. I love those guys and their demeanor, but not everyone has the same personality. The NBA and sports in general would be pretty damn boring without bombastic personalities. Loud, controversial athletes like Charles Barkley, Muhammad Ali, Dennis Rodman give us a much more interesting landscape to enjoy. James isn’t even in that mold, but I’m just illustrating that there are many types of athletes and we shouldn’t expect just one style.
My friends say the main thing that they don’t like about LeBron is his arrogance. Michael Jordan was arrogant, but perhaps his charisma overshadowed his arrogance. If you are considered the best in the world in any field, arrogance or overconfidence will come into play at some point. James was anointed as “The Chosen One” on the cover of Sports Illustrated at age 16 while still in high school. He was the most highly-touted player to enter the NBA since Shaq; a once-in-a-generation type of player. And he still lived up to the hype. All I’m saying is that being Steve Jobs, Tom Cruise, Tiger Woods, or Prince comes with a certain amount of hubris. And until you’ve been in that person’s shoes, how can you really know how to handle the adulation, the money, or the criticism when the expectations are so high?
I think he has proved that he is the best in the world, and if he keeps it up, he will be in the conversation for best all time. He is a year younger than Jordan when he won his first title, but I think there is a lot more competition than Jordan had (assuming LeBron doesn’t pause his NBA career for a stint in the NFL). For Lebron and basketball’s next greatest talent, Kevin Durant, I predict a similar rivalry to Bird and Magic where these guys trade title runs for the next decade. Plus, we still don’t know where Dwight Howard will end up, how good the Clippers can be, if Derrick Rose will fully recover, and if the Knicks will ever materialize into anything worth mentioning. I hope he has at least earned some more respect even if those people don’t like him. It’s better to be respected than liked.
True or false: Chris Bosh is super corny.
True, in a sense. People rag on Bosh because he looks a tad goofy, is a finesse-oriented power forward that is mainly a perimeter player, and is playing third fiddle to two of the top talents in the game. But let’s make the Beatles comparison: He’s definitely far more George Harrison than Ringo, and George ain’t no fucking slouch.
I’ll take a little corny as long as you’re effective. In his two years with the Heat, he’saveraged around 18 points, 8 boards, shot a high percentage, played very underrated defense, and made two All-Star games. I would say he has been as advertised. Everyone finally saw his value when he was out with injury this post season: If Bosh hadn’t returned, the Celtics would have taken out the Heat. In the 2010 free-agent class, many would have rated him below Amar’e Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer for best available power forward, yet he has performed better than both of them and with fewer opportunities. I think he plays with a lot of heart, wants to win, and is clutch late in games. He is one of the best shooting big men in the game with a tremendous amount of skill. Not everybody can be as cool as Charles Oakley.
WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPION OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Thunder sixth man James Harden had been averaging like 17 pts on 47% shooting in the playoffs. His finals numbers only reached 8 pts per game at 35%. His totals for assists and free throws plummeted too. Doc, excuse my French but what the fuck?
I think the reaction to Harden’s Finals performance has been blown out of proportion. In general, he just missed shots that he usually makes and lost some confidence over the course of the series. The guy is only 22, and sometimes you just have a bad series. It sucks when that bad series comes in the Finals, but he’ll learn from the experience and come back great next year and be great.
I really hate that sports pundits never give credit to the other team’s defense when they just flat-out shut down a star like Harden. The Miami Heat are a dominant defensive team — light years beyond San Antonio, L.A., or Dallas. You’d be delusional to think the Thunder would be able to do the same things to the Heat that they did to those teams. Miami’s ability to clog the lane and rotate quickly on pick and rolls can be devastating. Not to mention their length.
The real question is will OKC be able to keep Harden in town with his and Ibaka’s contracts up at the end of next season? Each will attract a big-money offer in the free agent market and would have to take a significant pay cut to stay in OKC. This could be a pivotal development in the complexion of the league.
Doc, if the Thunder had gotten you on speakerphone at halftime of Game 5, what would you have told them? Reduce the amount of one-on-one offense?
Nothing I could have said would have changed the outcome of that game. It would not have changed Mike Miller hitting seven three-pointers. It would not have changed LeBron’s eye of the tiger and unbreakable focus. Wade played great. Bosh played great. Chalmers even had his best playoff game. It was just the Heat’s year.
Oklahoma City does not need to make dramatic changes to get in the position for a championship next year. They played one-on-one all year and had plenty of success because it’s almost impossible to stop their best three guys one-on-one. In a way, San Antonio inspired them to be a more fluid team in the Western Conference Finals, but it just didn’t last — because it hasn’t been their identity. Their team is still deep as hell, they’ve still got the second best player in the league — the most dangerous scorer on the planet — and this heartbreak will fuel their fire.
The Thunder didn’t lose this series. They were defeated soundly by a very determined team with LeBron playing at a historic level. I mean even the Game 4 cramps heroics seemed as if it was a Hollywood script with LeBron hitting go-ahead three with a minute left on one leg. The Thunder have a chance to become even better, but I think there will be a lot of turnover in the West in the next few years. There’s no telling what the competition will look like and who will emerge as their West rivals. This team plays the right way, is well coached, and has a great attitude.
-Doc Coyle, God Forbid