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 Melo Feeling Golden for 2012-2013 Season

Knicks star Carmelo Anthony is ready for the NBA season to begin after winning his second gold medal in London.  Anthony was all smiles Friday when he chatted with reporters at his ProCamps youth hoops camp at St. John’s University.

Anthony is ready to get back going with the Knicks.

“I’m excited to just get this thing going especially coming off of what I just had and what we had in the USA team.”

Anthony also said that not only is he ready but his teammates are working as well this offseason.

“Everybody’s working. I see Amare is in the gym working.  Iman is getting his knee right.  Tyson is out there with me.  It’s just a matter of us putting it all together and making this run.”

The Olympic gold medalist is enjoying what he has right now after helping Team USA win the gold in London.  The feeling of winning the gold in London still hasn’t sunk in yet for Anthony.

“It’s an honor. It’s a blessing.  It really hasn’t sunk in yet as far as being a two-time Olympic gold medalist.  I’m just trying to just live in this moment and enjoy this moment as of right now and go from there.”

The All Star forward said his gold medal is in good hands despite everyone wanting a glimpse of it.

“Everywhere I go they wanna see the medal.  The medal is locked up though.  It’s locked up it’s getting framed.  It’s getting in a case right now as we speak.  I might bring it to the facilities or something like that and show everybody.”

Anthony is looking forward to playing again with his star teammate Amare Stoudemire.  Stoudemire worked out with Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon and Melo is ready to see what “Stat” has got.

“I’ve been looking for him. I haven’t seen him yet. I’m ready to see what he has added to his arsenal.  I’m excited of the fact that he even went down there and started working with the Dream so that’s a big step for him.”

Anthony is looking forward to what Amare can bring to the table this season.  The two have a below .500 record when playing together in the same lineup.  Anthony sees big things coming in the 2012-2013 season.

“With him going down there putting me on the wing now I can play off of him rather than me going out there and him playing off of me which could be a deadly weapon.”

Anthony is ready to get back with his teammates for the season opener.  The opener happens to be in Brooklyn where they will face the cross-town “rival” Nets in the first game at the Barclays Center.  Melo wasn’t ready to call them “rivals” just yet.

“There’s no rivalry between us and Brooklyn right now unless it starts on that first game.  We’ll see what happens in that first game but as of right now we focused on ourself.  We ain’t really focused on them.”

Anthony was asked by a reporter if former Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin has anything to be “scared” of when the Knicks play the Houston Rockets.

“I don’t know. I don’t play against him.  I mean I don’t guard him so he ain’t got nothing to be scared of.”

 Is Woodson Really the Man?
  James Dolan snatches interim tag, Woodson officially head coach

The Knicks have made their decision, the more rational one at least. Interim Coach Mike Woodson has agreed on a multiyear contract to become the head coach.

Woodson took over when Mike D’Antoni resigned on March 14, from hosting an 18-24 record and no support from his locker room. Woodson lead the Knicks to an 18-6 record, an 8.4 PPG differential and the 7th seed in the playoffs.

Outmatched, and Outgunned the Knicks lost 4-1 to the Miami Heat in the first round, breaking an NBA-record of 13 consecutive postseason loses, by winning Game 4, which was the first victory since 2001.

Many expected Woodson to get the nod as head coach, but is it the right move?

Woodson led his former team the Atlanta Hawks to 206 wins in his stay before management decided not to renegotiate his contract, which expired in 2010.

The Hawks posted one 50-win season and three playoff appearances in six seasons with Woodson running the sidelines. The Hawks made it to the conference semifinals twice but failed to win a single game.

At best, the Hawks were just an average team that would make the playoffs each year. The one and two seeds in the playoffs never actually felt the Hawks were a threat, hence only three wins in three playoff appearances by Woodson in Atlanta.

Knick fans are not willing to embrace mediocrity. Can Woodson shed his can’t get over the hump ways, and propel the Knicks to the Eastern Conference Finals? Only if he can make Carmelo Anthony and Amare’ Stoudemire coexist.

Follow me on Twitter: @Ty_Hardamon

 Knicks-Heat Playoff Preview

The 66 game NBA regular season has come to an end.  The playoffs have finally arrived.  The Knicks are locked on to the 7th seed and will play the 2nd seeded Miami Heat in the first round.  Game one will be Saturday afternoon at 3:30 in Miami.  The Heat finished the season with a 46-20 record while the Knicks finished with a 36-30 record.  Miami dominated New York in the regular season winning all three games against them by an average of ten points.

The Heat are not the best matchup for the Knicks.  That is without a doubt, but the Carmelo Anthony led Knicks could make a series of this.  The Knicks have been playing good basketball finishing the season very hot.  With the exception of Jeremy Lin, who will most likely miss the entire first round, the Knicks are coming into the playoffs fairly healthy.  Amare Stoudemire is back and looked strong in the last couple of games of the season.  Tyson Chandler will be ready to go as he got to rest himself for a couple of games.

The key to this series will be the play of Amare Stoudemire.  Stoudemire needs to help Melo in the scoring department and needs to outplay Chris Bosh.  As soon as Amare went down in last years playoff with injury the series was a wrap.  The Knicks need to get the continued incredible play of Anthony as well as a strong series from Amare if they want any chance to make this a series.  Another huge factor in this series will be the defense of Iman Shumpert on Dwyane Wade.  We have seen the aggressive defense from the rookie Shumpert all season that has had many guards frustrated.  If Shumpert can contain Wade throughout the series and force LeBron James to carry this team, the Knicks will make this a long series.

The coaching matchup is fairly even as both coaches Mike Woodson and Erik Spoelstra have been to the playoffs and have won in the playoffs.  Mike Woodson is a guy who preaches tough defense.  Spoelstra has had the entire season to work with his team while Woodson has only been the head guy for six weeks.  Team chemistry is definitely going to be a major factor in this series and could be a disadvantage for the Knicks.

The problem is that the Heat just have too much athleticism and talent for the Knicks.  LeBron James will most likely win an NBA MVP this season, Dwyane Wade has done it before in the playoffs and the Heat are looking to start the dynasty that they hoped for when signing the “big three” last season.  The Heat have added some depth this season with players such as Norris Cole and Shane Battier who have been big contributors off the bench this season.  The Knicks definitely have the advantage when it comes bench play and depth.  New York will keep this a good series because of their improved depth and the strong shooters such as Steve Novak and J.R. Smith.  New York is going to have to get improved play from their backcourt and some big buckets by guys other than Stat and Melo.  Also, the “precocious neophyte” Landry Fields cannot disappear as he did in the first round last year against the Celtics.

The Knicks hope to revive Madison Square Garden and pull off the upset this series like they did against Miami 12 years ago.  It is going to be a tough task trying to do it against a star-studded Miami team, but the Knicks are not backing down and are ready for the challenge.  Sunday afternoon the rivalry continues.

My Prediction: Heat in 6

 Linsational February for the Knicks
  Jeremy Lin Leading the Way

The month of February was outstanding for the New York Knicks. The team has found a point guard, and they are back to their winning ways. The Knicks were 8-15, when Jeremy Lin became the starting point guard. Carmelo Anthony had just been injured and A’mare Stoudemire left the team due to the death of his brother. Mike D’Antoni was on the verge of being fired when Lin stormed onto the scene and became the star the Knicks needed. The emergence of Lin has saved the Knicks season.

Since Jeremy Lin has become a starter, the Knicks have won 9 out of their last 12. There was a 7 game win streak during this current stretch as well. Lin had an amazing 38 point performance against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, as well as a 28 point and 14 assist game against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks. Lin has been averaging nearly 25 points and 9 assists a game during this stretch. It’s amazing what a great fit D’Antoni’s system is for Lin-  kind of reminiscent of when D’Antoni was coaching the Phoenix Suns, and we saw Steve Nash excel so greatly.

While Lin has been a sensation, there is much to be excited about with this team. The fact is that the New York Knicks are winning games playing team basketball. While the Knicks may not win the championship this year, the team has a young talented core along with a nice mix of veterans like veteran Tyson Chandler, A’mare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony to lead the way. Mike D’Antoni’s seems to finally have the right mix of players to excel in his system. If the team can continue to play defense, the Knicks should be championship contenders for years to come.

The playoffs start in April, and it will be interesting to see how the Knicks will play down the stretch. Will they have enough to win a playoff series? How far can they go? One thing is for sure, if Jeremy Lin continues to play at the his current level, the Knicks have a very strong chance.

 The New Look Knicks

Photo by DvYang

The Knicks have become an entirely different team than the team we saw just seven games ago when they were an abysmal 8-15.  They were a couple losses away from Mike D’Antoni being jobless, Jeremy Lin being cut, and Carmelo Anthony banging himself up even more.  The Knicks were being led by a banged up Anthony and a struggling Amare Stoudemire.  Two men were attempting to carry the team on their backs.  It just could not be done.  They needed a change.  That’s when the Knickerbockers would make a Lin-probable return to winning basketball and an excitement in New York that we have not seen since the days of Patrick Ewing, Allan Houston, and Latrell Sprewell.

The Knicks are now at .500 at 15-15 and in the thick of the playoff race securing the eight seed in the Eastern Conference right now.  Lin has helped lead the Knicks putting up unbelievable numbers.  Lin has scored at least 20 points in six of the seven games and has had at least seven assists in every game.  Three of the games he has recorded a double double.  Lin dropped 38 points against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in front of a packed Madison Square Garden without Stoudemire and Anthony.  It has been a story that has gotten Lin several endorsement offers and the financial assets to move him off his brother’s couch and into his own place.  Lin has thrived even with all the attention he has received.  When everyone thought the Lin-sanity would take a halt for a game against the Raptors in Toronto, Lin scored six points in the final minute including a game winning three pointer with less than a second to go.

This story has been one of the most inspiring stories and one that has Knicks fans believing in a championship this season. Just today, the Knicks signed J.R. Smith hoping he can add some depth from the shooting guard position.  When Smith is on, he is an explosive scorer.  Him and Anthony played together in Denver as well.  The Knicks have a potential starting lineup of Jeremy Lin, J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler.  That is arguably the best lineup in the NBA.  The question is whether Anthony will be able to co-exist with Lin and the rest of the team.  Melo will have to do a lot more passing and less shooting.  This Knicks team has thrived moving the ball and getting everyone involved.  They have gotten great bench play from Steve Novak as well as Jared Jeffries and Bill Walker.  The team has played superb team basketball since Anthony has been out.  The Knicks need Anthony to return, be healthy, and move the ball with this new look team.  If this team can co-exist and continue their unselfish play, we might just see a deep playoff run and MSG rocking come late May for the first time in over a decade.

 For now, D’Antoni’s Job Saved by Harvard Graduate
  Lin-Sanity has begun, 48 minute workout edition.

Photo by Kimberly

Prior to the beginning of this NBA season, many raved how the Knicks would be a championship contender. The Knicks went 6-11 in the month of January, including, an overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets, the exact team they swapped players with to land mega-star Carmelo Anthony.  They also landed the top center inside the free agency pool in Tyson Chandler, who is fresh off propelling the Dallas Mavericks to a championship. Would the Knicks have the same luck?

To date the Knicks are below .500 standing at 11-15. With Mike D’Antoni job in a limbo, a drastic change was made to shake things up. February 4th, 2012 is when “Lin-Sanity” began.

The Harvard graduate Jeremy Lin made a name for himself by smashing a ton of Ivy League records, along with a 3.1 G.P.A. Undrafted, skipped around the league to the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets before the Knicks claimed Lin off waivers on December 27th, 2011. Lin was sent to the D-League, where he posted a triple double over his inferior competition.

Called up shortly after, the first American player in the NBA to be Chinese posted 25 points, five rebounds and seven assists in 36 minutes of action vs the Nets. Lin has surged the Knicks to three straight wins, while averaging 25 points and eight assists in those contests.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Lin is the first player since LeBron James in 2003 to score at least 20 points and hand out at least eight assists in his first two NBA starts.

Lin excels in the pick and roll with his deceptive speed and uncanny strength. Center Tyson Chandler has been the main beneficiary of the emergence of Lin. The last three games Chandler has averaged 17 points, four more points with Lin facilitating than Carmelo Anthony (13).

We don’t know if the experiment will last forever. However, the Knicks have edged opponents with missing Amar’e Stoudemire and Anthony in the lineup. D’ Antoni now has his team moving the ball and pressing the tempo. Lin is to thank for the recent success, actually, Lin is to thank for D’Antoni’s two-week job extension.

 Knicks Head into the New Year with Hope

The New York Knicks are 1-2 and will take on the Kings tonight in Sacramento. Is the Knicks 1-2 start reason for concern? Not really. For about the first month or so of basketball, every team in the NBA will look a bit sluggish. Let’s not forget there was basically no preseason due to the lockout leading to this shortened season.

Newly acquired center Tyson Chandler is still getting aclimated with the team. The Knicks have a really big group with Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudamire, and Tyson Chandler. Amare and Carmelo did not get to really gel last season, but Knicks fans are hoping that they can all come together quickly with Chandler.

The season short but the Knicks are young, and Chandler brings the defensive intensity that the Knicks haven’t had in a while. Knicks fans are hoping that Chandler will bring in the defensive tenacity that he helped bring the Dallas Mavericks there first championship in franchise history.

With the talent that the Knicks have, most fans believe that they should be a top 3 seed in the eastern conference. Miami and Boston are the two other teams who have a good shot at contending out east. Knicks fans hope to get a good win against Sacramento, and then start the new year right with a win against the Toronto Raptors.

The big 3 will lead the way for the Knicks. It is up to the supporting cast to help out those 3 on a consistent basis for the Knicks to have a great NBA season.

 Knicks Are Built For A Championship

Photo by Keith Allison

With the recent acquisition of Tyson Chandler, the Knicks are a legit NBA championship contender. They were a contender before the addition of Chandler, but now they have a serious chance to win it all.

Chandler will bring a lot to the table for this team. He will give the Knicks a physical presence down low and will take a lot of pressure off of Amare in terms of rebounding. Amare will now be able to hang around near the elbows and make a living off of that 15 foot jumper.

One of the most important facets that Chandler will bring to this team is experience and leadership. He knows what it takes to win an NBA championship. He should step right in and be the voice in the locker room, along with Amare and Carmelo.

Taking a look at the rest of the Eastern Conference and how the Knicks stack up to the other top tier teams: the Heat are the obvious favorites and will be the toughest to beat. The Celtics are old and their “Big 3″ seems to be coming to an end. That leaves the Knicks with possibly the number two spot in the East.

Carmelo is going to have a career year this season. He has to be tired of coming up short and tired of the spotlight shining on Lebron.  Amare will also have a breakout season. Much of weight has been taken off of his shoulders, and with the addition of Chandler, he won’t be relied on to score 25 points and bring down 10 boards per game.

The opening day matchup against the Celtics on Christmas day will be a great measuring stick for how good this team truly is. This team does not lack talent, however, if they have any aspirations of winning a championship, they must throw away all ego’s and play like a team.

 New York State of Mind
  Tyson Chandler a Key Acquisition for the Knicks

Photo by Keith Allison

When was the last time you heard Knicks and defense in the same sentence? Then again, when was the last time you heard of the Knicks and title contenders in the same sentence? New York hasn’t had a dominant man in the middle since Patrick Ewing, but all that changed when Tyson Chandler traded in his cowboy boots from Dallas for the bright lights of New York. In doing so, Chandler has the NBA and Knicks fans in a New York state of mind.

Chandler transformed the Mavericks, a perennially “soft” team, into a defensive minded unit that shut down the Heat for their first NBA title as a franchise. New York hopes Chandler can do the same for the Knicks and help restore the “D” in coach D’Antoni’s name.

For the Knicks to succeed he must play the role of Dennis Rodman. Chandler must do all the dirty work by locking up opponents top big men, rebounding, and blocking or altering shots at the rim. Make no mistake, Chandler is being paid $56 million over four years to be the defensive coordinator as much as new assistant coach Mike Woodson.

As owner James Dolan and coach Mike D’Antoni unveiled their early Christmas gift both were in a New York state of mind. Dolan said during Chandler’s press conference, “We made a commitment to our Knicks fans that we would put together a team that would compete for an NBA championship. The addition of Tyson along with Amare (Stoudemire) and Carmelo (Anthony) is another important piece of that (championship) puzzle.” D’Antoni echoed Dolan and called the Knicks trio “(on paper) the best in the league.”

For the Knicks to fulfill their lofty expectations Chandler must be worth every penny of Dolan’s $56 million investment. Chandler is up to the task and said, “I know what my job is in coming here. I know I came here to defend. I’m going to defend the rim and I’m going to rebound. I’m going to get extra shots. I know if we play on both ends, and we play as a team, the sky is definitely the limit.”

The Knicks officially unveil their new toy on Christmas Day as New York at Madison Square Garden at noon.

 Merry Christmas NBA Fans
  NBA Labor Deal Reached, Lockout Ends

This Christmas is going to be an extra special one for basketball fans.  Fans get to not only wake up on Christmas day to family and presents, but will also get to watch NBA basketball for the first time since June.  Early Saturday morning, the NBA owners and players would come to a tentative agreement to end the 149-day lockout.  The league plans to open up training camps and free agency on December 9th and have the first games on December 25th.  It is planned to be a 66 game season, 16 games less than a regular 82 game season.

The specifics of the deal have not been confirmed yet.  The players accepted a deal somewhere between the range of 49-51% in favor of the owners.  The exact details of the deal should be known in the coming days.  Most importantly, basketball will be played and both sides wanted to end this lockout as soon as they could.  Commissioner David Stern said it would take around 30 days from when the deal was made to begin the season.  In just two weeks, the craziness that we all saw once the NFL lockout ended will be seen in the NBA.  Trades and free agency signings will be in a frenzy as lots of moves will be made.  It happened to be one of the most exciting weeks in sports when we saw all the moves made in July following the end of the NFL lockout.  Plan to seen all that madness come again in December.  Owners, players, and fans are all relieved to see the end almost near.  It has been months of negotiations and meetings that at times had many extremely frustrated and had fans in disarray.

In New York, fans could not be happier.  We get to see 66 games of Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire together on the same floor.  ”Stat and Melo” had Madison Square Garden packed every night for the three months they got to see of them.  There is no question that MSG is going to have the same excitement this season as they get 75% of a season to see them suit up together.  The Knicks have a bright future to look to, but are going to need more than just two stars to win.  Veteran point guard Chauncey Billups played a pivotal role in the Knicks success late last season as well.  This will most likely be Billups only full season with the Knicks as he is a free agent after he makes $14.2 million this season.  The Knicks are going to need a lot more depth and some more size if they want to achieve success this season.  They struggled mightily at the center position last season.  They lacked size and depth to help out Stoudemire in the paint.  The Knicks are going to need to make moves adding depth to this team.  Rookie Landry Fields had a very solid season for them, but was nonexistent in the playoffs and spent most of the time on the bench.  Big man Jared Jeffries is a liability on offense and cost the Knicks a playoff game in the first round against the Celtics.  Guard Roger Mason did not get much playing time throughout the season and when he did was very ineffective.  One bright spot the Knicks did see last season was the play of backup point guard Toney Douglas.  Douglas was very effective off the bench and has a very bright future ahead of him.  The Knicks need help but have the pieces to build a championship contender.  Of course, they will have to compete the “big three” in Miami as well as Derrick Rose and the Bulls and the division rival Boston Celtics.

Knicks fans and all NBA fans are looking forward to Christmas day.  Mark down December 25th on your calendars NBA fans, it is a rare day where you get to celebrate two holidays in one day.  The season tips off at noon at MSG as the Knicks play the Celtics.  The Mavericks will host the Heat in a rematch of the NBA finals.  FInally, the Lakers will host the Bulls in a classic matchup of two past rivals.

 LeBron’s Burden

Photo by Keith Allison

Do you remember what it was like to be twenty-something? How many mistakes did you make in your twenties? How many things would you take back if you could? Now imagine you have to live out your life, like it or not, on a world stage, while making all of these growing pains’ mistakes. Meaning, all of your work transgressions, and even some of your personal ones, become fodder for the entire world of print, television, and social media. How well do you think you would be able to handle it? Well, this is the life of LeBron James, and although he’s had a life that most people would die for, there are potential drawbacks to living LeBron, and over the last year James experienced those issues firsthand. He went from one of the most beloved sports figures living, to one of the most despised – from a King, to a court jester, from the beloved Michael Jordon, to the despised Tiger Woods.

The NBA finals have been over for two weeks now. The series is still fresh in our memories, yet enough time has passed to allow close examination of the entire LeBron James saga that took place this season.  To understand how James became the most hated man in the NBA, all roads lead to last summer, July 8th in particular, and his ESPN special “The Decision.”

James 24/7

The negative reaction was immediate, Cleveland fans, the Cavalier’s owner Dan Gilbert, sports reporters, and the talking heads at ESPN all weighed in on his announcement. It is clear that he chose a poor way to announce his future plans. Okay actually he chose a terrible way. In fact, everyone who watched Lebron James hour-long self-indulgent narcissist-fest ESPN debacle “The Decision“ knows that it was a terrible miscalculation. The nation spent an hour wasting it’s time on something that only required ten minutes to announce, and twenty minutes to discuss. And yes the critics were right, he should have spoke to Dan Gilbert face to face to say goodbye to the Cavalier organization, however Gilbert’s offensive reaction afterwards, demonstrated the type of man James was dealing with in the first place. No wonder rumors have surfaced that they disliked each other when James was a Cleveland Cavalier. However, it is important to remember that ESPN and James were not the only players in this show. The entire nation was gripped in the unprecedented 2010 NBA free agency period.  NBA teams were caught up as well.  Several teams cleared cap space in a manner and urgency never before seen in professional sports.  All the major NBA free agents were receiving major press and attention.  Amar’e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson, even David Lee were all sought after, but ESPN had their “Lebron watch” running daily, and his eventual destination trumped all. From the first day of free agency until the day he signed with the Miami Heat, Sportcenter, PTI, Around the Horn, Rome is Burning, and First Take discussed James free agency ad nauseam.  James, ESPN, all other sports media, and the public bear some responsibility for the atmosphere that created ”the decision.”  And while James deserves the most blame, ESPN deserved its fair share also, but didn’t receive any. Instead ESPN made money off of LeBron, both coming and going. On the show, and then the criticism of the show that they produced, and produced poorly at that.

The unfortunate side of it all, the public doesn’t remember its involvement and participation in the spectacle. The hatred Lebron received after the announcement was disproportionate to the act. He was free to choose his own destiny, to choose where he would live and go to work, just like any other American citizen, or any other NBA free agent.  He was insensitive to the Cavs fans true, but the amount of hatred displayed during the season and playoffs in particular seemed ridiculous.  Especially since these negative feelings came from fans all from over the country, and not just Cavs fans.

It is understandable however that the Cavalier fans rooting against Miami, were also ticked off by the Heat organization’s introduction of the new look team of James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Only days after hurting them with “The Decision,” it was another over-glitzed, over produced,  “look at me” event done in poor taste, and more importantly, the main reason that the casual basketball fan began to root against the Heat.  However this was a Heat organization event, and the organization should take the “heat” for the debacle, not any player in general, and especially not James in particular. And if the players do take the blame, there were three players on that stage, and they should equally share any criticism. However, there hasn’t been a bad word said about Chris Bosh all year long, and hardly any vitriol directed directly at Dwayne Wade. This team has had many detractors, but when it comes to assigning blame to an individual Heat player, LeBron James is in a class unto himself.

Teflon Wade

By the time the NBA finals came, the main media story was the repeated failure of LeBron James in the fourth quarter of games. Does he have a killer instinct? Can he close out games? Does he have the “it” gene that Jordon and Kobe Bryant possess? These type of questions were all the rage on sports talk radio and TV programs. Either it was quickly forgotten, or easily overlooked, but James closed out games against the Chicago Bulls and the Boston Celtics to get to the Heat to the finals. Granted, it is a “what have you done for me lately league,” but James mistakes were highlighted at ever opportunity, while Dwyane Wade’s were consistently overlooked. When headlines were made about Lebron and Wade making light of Dirk Nowitzki having the flu in game 3, it was actually Dwyane Wade who made the joke, not Lebron.  James was only guilty of laughing at Wade, but took most the blame for the incident. If it was Mario Chalmers laughing at Wade when he made the joke, would Chalmers have made headlines? Or would the blame for the incident landed where it belonged, squarely on Wade‘s shoulders? The bias went even further. While Wade did carry the Heat at times, scoring the majority of the teams points in most games, he had key turnovers in the fourth quarter of at least two games, critical crunch time mistakes -just like Lebron James, not as many, but crucial still the same.  In game 4, Wade failed to get off the final shot, a potential game-tying basket.  He fumbled the ball and Mike Miller was forced to take a desperate air ball three pointer.  In game 5 the Heat failed to score for almost the last four minutes of the game, and Wade had a critical turnover during that period. These key mistakes were overlooked in favor of the “bigger” story of Lebron James failure to score in the fourth quarter, but when it counted the big issue was that no one on Miami scored.

Looking past the hype of the NBA finals, and the fact that Miami made it there, the Heat were a flawed team, and ill equipped to win a championship. The Dallas Mavericks were a complete team, while this year’s version of the Heat, lacked a viable option at point guard or center and had a questionable bench.  Has anyone really looked at this roster closely? Eric Dampier, Juwan Howard, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Mike Bibby were all shells of their former selves, while Joel Anthony, Mario Chalmers, and Mike Miller are at their best, solid role players. The Heat failure in the finals was a team issue, not a LeBron James failure to score in the fourth quarter issue. He did need to score in crunch time, but he Heat must improve their team quality and depth over the summer to take that final championship step.

Redemption Song

On May 11th, after the Heat dispatched of the Boston Celtics and sent them summer “fishing,“ LeBron James explained why he joined the Miami Heat and apologized for “the decision” while he was at it. “I knew I had to go through Boston at some point. I went through a lot signing to be here and the way it panned out. I apologize for the way it happened, but I knew that this opportunity was once in a lifetime.” James may be young, and at times arrogant, but he is not stupid. LeBron went even further after the finals and posted a mea culpa on his personal website stating, “He has a lot to learn” and “a lot of work to do.”  Now, let’s allow him to do that work and grow, just like every other twenty-something adult.

In this era of sports where stars commit adultery, get arrested for drugs, DWI’s, domestic violence, homicides, steroids, and HGH, James has always conducted himself with grace. LeBron is a responsible father, and has been in a long-term committed relationship with the mother of his children, he’s never been arrested, associated with drugs, thugs, or seedy situations.  He has been a model teammate on every team he’s played for, and is an international ambassador for the NBA and the game of basketball. The young man has fallen on his sword, the Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks in six games, and he has apologized for past mistakes. I believe the basketball gods and basketball fans have received their pound of flesh, now can we allow the kid to just go play basketball? Really folks, when we choose our villains to root against, we could do a lot better than LeBron James.

 Lack of Depth Starting to Hurt Knicks

So far, this has been a great season for the Knicks.  The Garden has excitement every night and Amar’e Stoudemire is the franchise player this team has needed for years.  The supporting cast, Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, and Landry Fields have all meshed well and each have a distinguished role on the team.  The problem is, after those five, there is not a whole lot in terms of variety on the Knicks.

Toney Douglas is a backup swing guard who sacrifices his body on a nightly basis.  He is not a true point guard and whn Felton is in foul trouble or getting beat up, the Knicks do not have anyone to turn to.  Shawne Williams and Bill Walker are the mad bombers.  They come in and launch threes, usually at a pretty successful rate.  However, both are in the shooting guard small forward role.  That brings us to Rony Turiaf.  He is a high energy, lunch pale player who provides valuable minutes in the front court.  The problem is he is 6′9″, injury prone, with little offensive game.

The Knicks have been out rebounded by double digits in each of their last four losses, Lakers, Jazz, Kings, and Suns. That can’t happen for a team with playoff aspirations.  Donny Walsh needs to go out and acquire big man depth. Anthony Randolph, once thought to be a key piece to the Knicks revival, cannot find a way out of Mike D’Antoni’s dog house, and seven footer Eddy Curry has been a waste since day one.  Timofey Mozgov is still very raw, but he has six fouls and nice height, so why not give him the opportunity to take up some space.

Donnie Walsh has done a great job job reviving this franchise.  He needs to to continue to tweak it accordingly.  I know the Carmelo Anthony quest has taken precedence in the media and among the fan base, but the smaller pieces need consideration as well.  There are big men out there, see Earl Barron as a late addition last year. I firmly believe that reinforcements are on the way and IN DONNIE WE TRUST.

 

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