Posts Tagged ‘Tom Izzo’

Cleveland Caveliers Owner Dan Gilbert: Loyalty or Hypocrisy

July 13th, 2010

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is one of the few NBA team owners Clay Bennett, the chairman of the Oklahoma City-based Professional Basketball Club LLC (which owns the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder, aka Seattle Supersonics), went to for advice and support about the management of the newly acquired Supersonics.

Bennett then moved the Seattle Supersonics to Oklahoma on votes Dan Gilbert lobbied others to cast, and he himself voted for. Dan Gilbert stated then, "Clay has done a remarkable job of transitioning the team to Oklahoma City...He faced very difficult circumstances [in Seattle] and met them head-on. Clay has done what is best for the franchise," not the city of Seattle or the fans that supported that franchise for over 40 years.

Gilbert went on to say, "And I admire him for it. Oklahoma City is fortunate to have Clay leading the Thunder charge, and he's fortunate to have such great fan and civic support [in Oklahoma]."

Apparently the 'loyalty' to the great fan and civic support of Seattle wasn't on his mind.

So now when LeBron James does what is best for him, he gets a "loyalty" lecture from this same Dan Gilbert. The same Dan Gilbert who fired coach Mike Brown in May after he led his team to the NBA's best record two years in a row.

The same Dan Gilbert who let go of general manager Dan Ferry, because he disagreed with Brown's firing. Even the same Dan Gilbert who's from Michigan (not Cleveland, or even Ohio), and not even a month before he offered $6 million to Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, hoping he'd kick the Spartans to the curb the same way LBJ did the Cavs.

Apparently, again, the "loyalty" to the great fan and civic support of his own home state of Michigan was not on his mind.     

It seems Dan Gilbert should look at his own patterns of "loyalty" before he slams a free agent for exercising his rights as a free agent, and smearing a player who's taking a risk, and a pay cut in hopes to accomplish his goals of winning multiple Championships.

It seems Dan Gilbert should look at his own efforts to take risks in order to acquire players who could give LBJ the support he needs to win Championships. It also seems that Pat Riley has a plan that involves those risks and has offered LBJ an opportunity to have what the Cavs, in seven seasons, would or could not provide him with: a supporting cast to fulfill his goals of winning multiple Championships.

Magic had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who scored more points than any other player in league history, won six NBA championships and a record six regular season MVP Awards.

Bird had Parish along with Kevin Mchale who played in seven NBA All-Star games between 1984 and 1991, selected to the NBA All-Defensive First or Second Team six times, at the end of the 2007–2008 season McHale ranked tenth in NBA history in career field goal percentage (55.4 percent), and he is among the Celtics' career leaders in several categories, including games played, points scored, and rebounding.

Jordan had Pippen who was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team eight times and the All-NBA First Team three times, a seven-time NBA All-Star, and was the NBA All-Star Game MVP in 1994.

Along with Grant first and Dennis Rodman second, who earned NBA All-Defensive First Team honors seven times and was voted NBA Defensive Player of the Year twice, and led the NBA in rebounds per game for a record seven consecutive years.

Tim Duncan first had David Robinson who was a six time All-NBA First or Second Team, eight time All-Defensive First or Second Team, 10-time NBA All-Star, and the only player in NBA history to win the Rebounding, Blocked Shots, and Scoring Titles as well as Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and MVP.

Duncan then had one of the greatest trios in the NBA, dubbed "The Big Three," with Ginóbili and Tony Parker.

Kobe first had Shaq who was just as responsible (arguably more) for those titles as Kobe himself, along with Derek Fisher, even up to this year where Kobe had the supporting cast of Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, and again Derek Fisher. So when Kobe goes 6 of 24 in Game Seven of the 2010 Finals, they still win.

LBJ could never have done that with the players Dan Gilbert surrounded him with in the seven years he was with the Cavs.     

With several teams willing to make significant roster moves to create room for LBJ and a supporting cast, and with Pat Riley nearly clearing out his entire roster for LBJ to come to Miami with one of the best supporting casts ever to help win multiple Championships, Dan Gilbert and the Cleveland Cavaliers made no significant moves, nor made any pitch to convince their star player that they had any gameplan to a multiple Championship dynasty other than what they've offered for the last seven years.

In a press conference GM Chris Grant and new head coach Byron Scott said that the Cavs had no plan B in case LBJ left because 100 percent of their energy went into keeping LBJ.

Yet Byron Scott stated in that same interview, when asked about his chance to give their final pitch when meeting with LBJ this week down at his camp, that he did fly down to meet with LBJ, but did not give a pitch. 

Scott said, "First of all I went down there and just said hello to LeBron, and I just kind of watched him and the other guys workout, they were getting some shots up, and again like I said, I was just there to watch, and I left about an hour after I got there. So I didn't have an in depth conversation with LeBron."

With all these teams pitching their gameplans to LeBron, did the Cavs think flying down to spend just a little over an hour with their star player, and only to just say "hello" would be enough to persuade him.

Dan Gilbert obviously didn't get the hint three years ago when LeBron refused to sign an extension on his contract for a long term deal, so that he could keep his options open for this years off-season.

They didn't fight or take any risks then, three years ago, to build a Championship team around LeBron. They didn't go out and give pitches and take risks to acquire other stars to come win Championships with LBJ. They didn't structure their roster or contracts to even get other star players or prepare for this off season fight to keep him.

Even now, this year, Dan Gilbert and everyone else in the Cavs organization refused to get the hint when LeBron was exercising his free agent rights by meeting with six other teams. Therefore by not taking any risks, Dan Gilbert risked losing his one and only star.

Without ever really having a plan A, and with no plan B in place, Dan Gilbert leaves GM Chris Grant and coach Byron Scott, along with the rest of the organization, scratching their heads, trying to now finally come up with a gameplan other than being content with, in one way or another, profiting from one of the league's most dynamic players, who only had one thing on his mind, winning multiple Championships.

So while LBJ is off constructing his own gameplan to fulfill the goals on his mind, the Cavs are left with only one thing on their minds, what do we do now?

As for Dan Gilbert and the fit he threw in his open letter email to LeBron James, the consequences of his actions will in time, if not already, prove to be nothing short of hypocrisy.

In a day and age when players are bounced around teams like the basketballs they so skillfully excite fans with; when coaches can be fired after bringing two straight seasons of the NBA's best record in the league; when owners can up and move teams with the support of other money-grubbing owners from a city that has supported that team for over 40 years; when the players that make this game have little if not zero control over their own careers and when they do it's labeled a spectacle; when money rules the decisions made by owners, coaches, and players, it would prove most hypocritical to publicly slam a free agent who was exercising his rights as a free agent, and smearing a player for letting the only thing on his mind, to win multiple Championships, to rule his decisions and to guide his career, especially if you're Dan Gilbert.

LeBron James Decision: Cleveland Fans Surprised by the Real LeBron James

July 9th, 2010

For Cleveland Cavaliers fans, it started on May 11, 2020.

For others out there, they saw it long before and when they said it out loud, we vilified them for it.

In the end they were right.

But we defended LeBron at all costs. Don’t laugh at us; Kobe’s fans aren’t any different.

They defend him and make excuses for him and applaud anything the guy does, no matter how insignificant.

But LeBron was more than the superstar on our basketball team; more than possibly the best player in the NBA.

He was one of us. Born here. Raised here. Possibly the best player in the world, who typically carried himself with class, and who never had legal issues, who cared about the history of the sport, who seemed to understand his legacy in the NBA’s timeline. From Northeast Ohio playing for Northeast Ohio.

The man was more than king. He was a sports god. Flawless.

And then May 11th happened.

We sat there horrified as we watched Game Five against the Celtics. The Cavaliers, who were going to have their backs against the wall if they lost this game, played horribly.

At the center was LeBron James.

LeBron, who never gave any public grief to the coaching staff, was suddenly glaring at the bench.

LeBron, who singlehandedly crushed the Detroit Pistons in 2007, moved on the court like he had better things to do.

Final score: Boston 120, Cleveland 88.

The image of the man we had loved and defended started to come unraveled. Then came the postgame press conference. When asked about his poor performance, LeBron responded that the fans were spoiled by how great he normally plays.

What? Wait.

He didn’t say that the loss was on him and that as leader of the team, he has to play harder. He didn't take responsibility in any way.

No. Instead, he reminded us that he was great.

Cleveland fans who had defended him so endlessly, weren’t defending him this time. They let him have it. There were lots of early signs to those not emotionally invested in LeBron, but for the fans, it started right there.

Then came his free agency. The way he wouldn’t respond to Tom Izzo. The way he was acting like a diva. He made the teams come to him. He remained distant from the Cavs. Where was our guy? Where was the Akron native we worshipped?

And then, my god, there was the announcement of the ESPN hour-long special dubbed, The Decision .

I spoke to a friend of mine and said, “I don’t know who he’s going to pick Thursday, but even if he picks Cleveland, he’s going to have to explain his recent behavior.”

He explained it alright. He chose to go to Miami.

People said no way this guy would do all of this and go on national television and rip the hearts from the fans of Cleveland. It seemed too cruel.

He did.

And in that moment, we didn’t just lose our superstar from our basketball team, which now seems destined for mediocrity. We lost someone we all admired. I joked about being 42 and caring so much about an athlete. Had he not been from here, I don’t think I would have. But I did.

He was one of us, right?

Wrong. He’s not one of us. He’s just another selfish athlete who cares about himself more than anyone else.

As for those national remarks, criticizing him? They said LeBron didn’t have what it takes to be the man. They were right.

LeBron’s choices were New Jersey, New York, Chicago, Cleveland, the Clippers, and Miami. On five of those six teams, James would have instantly been the man.

The Chosen One, instead, chose the one: Miami.

I still can't believe it. I keep arguing with LeBron, but not the LeBron he turned out to be—the one we thought he was.

And then I think of who he turned out to be, and except for the effect it will have on my favorite NBA team, I'm glad to see him go.

Because I don't like the real LeBron.

I lost respect for him on the court and off. Not because he left Cleveland; he had every right to make that decision. It's how he did it.

And who he turned out to be.


Lebron James and The “Fame Monster” Lesson

July 9th, 2010

LeBron, take notice.

In 2004, the "fame whoring" (as Lady Gaga would put it) of the sports world was centered around the Bronx Bombers when Alex Rodriguez was granted his wish of becoming a New York Yankee.

Matt Lauer described it as "the Beatles landing Elvis."

However, Rodriguez left the Texas Rangers in the dust after taking $252 million dollars from them, and not delivering a championship.  Although, many Rangers fans had already identified A-Rod the demon spawn of un-capped salaries before he jumped shipped to the Yankees.

After a crash course in humility, A-Rod finally helped the Yankees to their first World Series title in almost 10 years. The road to humility and public redemption included a "Material Girl" and an admission of steroid use during the several years with the Texas Rangers.

Following the Rangers filing for bankruptcy, former owner Tom Hicks finally expressed his suppressed anger at Rodriguez before he was ran out the Lone Star state himself.

Now in the year 2010, a similar situation surrounds the Lebron James Saga.

When Cleveland drafted Lebron in 2003, the organization and it's fans proclaimed a new day in the city of Cleveland. The hometown hero was immediately nicknamed "King James," and comparisons to Michael Jordan were tossed around.

Like A-Rod, who was proclaimed the future "Home-Run King," Lebron James was the guy who would pick up where Jordan left off and shove aside the hated Kobe Bryant as the best player in the league. He was the guy who embraced his hometown hype, sported the sacred 23 jersey, and signed a 100 million dollar Nike deal before ever bouncing an NBA ball.

However, the last two years of his tenure in Cleveland showed a different side of "The King". An immature side of his public image came to the fore when he pouted his way out of the 2009 NBA Playoffs; similar to 2005 ALDS series that saw Alex Rodriguez slap the ball out of the first baseman's hands.  

The 2010 NBA Playoffs may have been even an worse exit for James as Game 5 witnessed "The King" literally quitting on his team, taking only 14 shots the whole game.

Then, with the free agency rush, finally came Lebron James' true colors.

In the midst of a World Series game Alex Rodriguez announced that he was opting out of his Yankees contract, a shameless ploy to garner attention.

Lebron James topped that.

June through early July a media-frenzy was encouraged by the James entourage. From Tom Izzo's rumored hiring by the Cavaliers, to the "summit" of James with other free agents, James has came off like a Diva from a VH1 concert.

He'd rather lead a showcase of TMZ-like reporting than lead a team to a title.

It has even been rumored that James' camp wanted to film a documentary about the free agent process. It's not a secret now that James has fed into his own hype to the point of gathering the children of the Boys and Girls Club around him and broadcasting a live televised event of announcing where he would be playing.

He would rather tell ESPN than his former team.

However, it seems inevitable that James will have to learn the harsh lesson that Alex Rodriguez and Kobe Bryant learned before him. The lesson that your fame and Diva-ish antics should not overshadow your talent.

Unlike talent, fame can turn into a pissed off wife chasing you around with a golf club.

Numerous sportswriters have already expressed dismay toward the whole James ordeal, and with good reason. James left Cleveland the same way that he came: full of hype and money with unfulfilled promises.

Like Rodriguez in Texas, James earned money and MVPs , but his team won no titles.

I'm not wishing Lebron James bad luck in his personal life or even his professional life, but the way he has fed into his own hype calls for an inevitable harsh reality check. Alex Rodriguez had his with the revelations of his cheating and steroid use. Tiger Woods saw his ship crashing down with the dozens of extramarital affairs becoming public. And, the most remembered of the all, when Kobe Bryant was charged with raping a woman in Colorado.

The backlash from Cleveland may already be beginning. The fans are setting fire to the jersey of their once proclaimed hero. The owner Dan Gilbert, on the official team website, ripped James a new one.

Like Texas, the city of Cleveland may be back in their original sports-ruined form.

Will Lebron learn the same lesson? Only time will tell, but the egocentric King James better be careful. He's treading a fine line between sports hero (a title which to some he has officially lost) and a puppet latched on to the strings of ESPN and other media outlets.

He will be taking his game to Miami, but his humility has yet to be found.

As LeBron James Leaves, a Content Man Remains: Tom Izzo at MSU

July 9th, 2010

Could it be that just a few short weeks ago—mid-June, in fact, the basketball world's attention was focused on whether Tom Izzo would leave Michigan State for Dan Gilbert's millions and the chance to coach LeBron James?  Can anyone really now believe that Izzo being named coach would have kept LeBron in Cleveland?

Commentators called the attention surrounding a possible Izzo to Cleveland hire "madness."  The frenzy moved away from Izzo only to grow exponentially surrounding LeBron James.  Next week the sporting world's attention will be riveted on the next "will he- won't he" situation, but the controversy surrounding LeBron's changed circumstances will continue to swirl—change of that magnitude always does.

Meanwhile, I like to think that for the rest of the summer, anyway, somewhere in mid-Michigan, there is a hammock and a nice tropical drink with Tom Izzo's name on them, as he returns from a recruiting trip or maybe just a round of golf. 

Decision looks pretty good now, coach.  In fact, better than pretty good.  Cheers.

Winners and Losers of the NBA Free Agent Summer of 2010

July 9th, 2010

This was the biggest free agent summer ever in the NBA.

Several high profile players were available and teams had planned for years to clear cap space to attract some of the best free agents available.  

Now that the biggest free agent out there, LeBron James has picked his team, it is time to sort out the winners and the losers of the NBA free agent market. 



The Biggest Winner: Miami Heat

The biggest winners of the NBA Free Agent Market have to be the Miami Heat.

Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade did an outstanding recruiting job and all of the pieces fell into place.

The Heat re-signed Wade, and then signed Chris Bosh to join him. When both players had announced that they were playing with the Heat but details of the contracts were not complete, it was obvious that LeBron James was going to join them.

The minute it was announced that James would join Wade and Bosh, the odds for the Heat to win the East went crazy at the Top Online sportsbooks.

Regardless of what minimum salary players the Heat will sign to help Wade, Bosh, and James they are the clear cut biggest winners of the Free Agent Market.

In an article I wrote earlier in the free agency season I bet that LeBron would go to Miami.


Boston Celtics

The Celtics decided they could make another run at the championship and kept their core in place.

They talked Doc Rivers out of retirement and then signed All-Stars, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, two team-friendly discounts.

Those contracts will allow the Celtics to be active in the free agent market and grab a few players to give them size down low, filling the void left by the injured Kendrick Perkins.

When Perkins returns from injury it will give the Celtics depth and size to play with teams like the Lakers.

Finally, it allows the Celtics to keep Rondo in the fold as the future face of the Boston Celtics.


Marginal Players

Darko Milicic, Channing Frye, Amir Johnson, and Drew Gooden all signed contracts with teams combining for a total of $114 million.

With the entire free agent buzz around the big three, teams did not want to get shut out and therefore they ended up paying too much for players that are marginal at best.

The players took advantage of this and cashed in becoming winners of the free agent summer of 2010.



The league could not be happier with this free agent period.

The NBA was the top story every night on Sportscenter and fans were glued to their television sets wondering where players would sign.

David Stern and the brass of the NBA could not be more content.

This free agent summer put all of the attention on the league and will have fans eagerly anticipating the start of the new season.

The only people who may not be pleased with all the free agent buzz is the Lakers. Their championship has been overshadowed by all the hype surrounding LeBron James.


New York Knicks

Many people will believe that the Knicks should be considered losers since they did not land LeBron James. I disagree.

The Knicks figured out early in the free agent period they would not land James and instead of standing pat (see NJ Nets) they were aggressive and signed Amare Stoudamire. 

He is familiar with the offense that the Knicks want to run and is very friendly with Tony Parker and Carmelo Anthony.

The Knicks still have plenty of cap space and could form their own “Big Three” if they play their cards right.

Since the Knicks lost out on LeBron they will send David Lee to the Warriors in a three way deal.

The deal, according to sources, would send Lee to the Warriors for Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, and Kelenna Azubuike among others. Even if this deal does not go through, the Knicks will do a sign and trade with Lee and get some decent players in return.



The Biggest Loser: New Jersey Nets

The Nets were considered to be a big player in the free agent market.

They have a new owner with deep pockets and plenty of cap space.

They courted LeBron James and a few others but when all was said and done, they have not signed a single caliber free agent.

The Nets lost the recruiting battle for LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Rudy Gay, and Carlos Boozer.

Signing Travis Outlaw will not make up for that.

They have some young talent on this team and the future looks bright, but for right now the Nets are big losers this summer.


City of Cleveland

The writing was on the wall for Cleveland.

LeBron James failed to meet with potential head coach Tom Izzo and that may have been an indication that he never intended on coming back to Cleveland.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Chris Bosh told the Cavaliers that he would not play there although Toronto had worked out a sign and trade scenario.

Other teams had better supporting casts and attacked LeBron with more vigor and a commitment to winning.

The city of Cleveland will lose an estimated 20 million dollars in revenue with James leaving town. This does not include ticket sales and memorabilia and is just based on the income the city pulls in when the Cavs are playing in town.

The summer of 2010 becomes another painful chapter in an ugly history in Cleveland sports and the fans suffer from broken hearts once again.


Chicago Bulls

The Bulls started the free agency period as the front runners to get LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

Then they were announced as favorites to bring back the local hero in Dwyane Wade.

When all the deals were done, the Bulls ended up 0-3 in the free agent bonanza.

They did sign Carlos Boozer and this is a good fit for this team but this signing does not even come close to meeting the expectations that were set forth when the free agent period started. 

This is just another example of how the management of the Chicago Bulls dropped the ball again and may have let a championship slip through their fingers.


Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks retained Joe Johnson by signing him to a six year maximum deal that will be in the $123 million range.  This is a great deal for Johnson but the Hawks will live to regret it.

He is 28 years old and will hit the 30 year old mark in the early stages of this deal.

The stats say that this is when an NBA player is likely to suffer a decline in production.

Joe Johnson is a very good player but he has yet to show anything in the playoffs.

This deal will haunt Atlanta in the future and could go down as one of the worst deals in NBA history.

Until the season starts we won't know who the real winners and losers are but for now this list shows just how good (or bad) teams did this year in the Big Free Agent Summer of 2010.


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