Posts Tagged ‘NBA’

Carmelo Anthony Knicks

Podcast: NBA Trade Deadline

Written by Jake Welch on . Posted in Sports

The PB&J Report guys recorded an emergency podcast on Wednesday to hash out their thoughts on some of the biggest NBA trades right before the league’s deadline. The big ones are all here, including Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks and Deron Williams to the Nets. Are the Jazz smart or stupid for shipping D-Will out early? Did the Knicks overpay for an underperforming Carmelo? Click on the link below to get the PB&J take. Enjoy!

Black Griffin

Podcast: BYU Basketball, NBA All-Star Weekend

Written by Jake Welch on . Posted in Sports

This is posting a little late — this podcast was recorded on Friday — but it’s all good. The PB&J Report guys rap about BYU basketball and The Jimmer (of course), as well as the weekend’s (at that point) upcoming NBA All-Star festivities. Sure, most of these things might have changed since Friday — but what’s more fun than looking back and laughing at the crew’s (possibly) incorrect predictions? The answer: Nothing. Enjoy!

LeBron James

SPORTS: Podcast: College Football Wrap-Up, NFL Playoffs, The Rise of the Heat

Written by Preston Johnson on . Posted in Sports

Back from their holiday hiatus, the PB&J Report crew return to the palatial Rhombus studios for a look ahead to the upcoming 2011 sports year — including the conclusion of the college football season, the impending NFL playoffs and the ominous rise of the hated Miami Heat. What does it all mean? We’ll find out in the next 12 months. Enjoy!

You can stream the podcast by simply clicking on the link below, or you can download it to your computer by right-clicking the link and selecting “Save Link As” from the menu.

Listen to: Rhombus Podcast 033 — The PB&J Report (2011.01.05)

BYU guard Jimmer Fredette drives against a Vermont defender in Glens Falls, N.Y.

SPORTS: Podcast: Year-End Wrap-Up, BYU Football Bowl Preview

Written by Ben Wagner on . Posted in Sports

And so it ends. Ben Wagner is back from England — just in time for Jake Welch and Preston Johnson to fill him in on all the sports action he missed in the last PB&J Report of the year. The guys talk about BYU football’s disappointing season (including a preview of this Saturday’s New Mexico Bowl match-up with UTEP), BYU basketball’s promising start, the NBA, MLB and just about every significant sporting event of the last four months. If you were in a coma (or out of the country) for this fall’s whirlwind sports season, this week’s episode should get you pretty much caught up in time for the start of 2011. Enjoy!

You can stream the podcast by simply clicking on the link below, or you can download it to your computer by right-clicking the link and selecting “Save Link As” from the menu.

Listen to: Rhombus Podcast 032 — The PB&J Report (2010.12.17)

What to Watch Tonight

Written by Preston Johnson on . Posted in Sports

Despite a very meaningful Thursday night NFL game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Houston Texans, a college football rivalry game between Arizona St. and Arizona, and my intramural bowling league championship playoff that begins tonight on ESPN 8 (The Ocho), the game everyone will be watching in t-minus 45 minutes is going to be the NBA matchup between the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers.

The great return of Zydrunas Ilgauskas to Quicken Loans Arena.  A possible Eastern Conference Finals match-up teaser between an 11-8 Miami Heat team and the 7-10 Cleveland Cavaliers. A heated rivalry that dates back to, well, just this past summer. Or, all my kidding aside, the significant return of the all-time leading scorer in Cleveland franchise history, Lebron James. (This is including former Cavalier greats such as Craig Ehlo, Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, and even the legendary Shawn Kemp.) I think it’s safe to say LeBron James was a big deal in Cleveland.

Then “The Decision” happened, on national television, when we saw Lebron backstab his hometown and former team and take his talents to South Beach to play for the Miami Heat. It was following that announcement that we saw LeBron James jerseys being burned in the streets, bars full of men and women weeping their title hopes away, and GM Dan Gilbert writing a letter to LeBron, Cavalier fans and the rest of the world promising a championship title in the next 5 years. (Good luck with that.)

Needless to say, tonight’s game in Cleveland is said to possibly be the biggest and greatest booing performance by any one city in any sporting event, ever. On the headline of ESPN.com earlier this week we read that the Miami Heat would not release their travel plans, due to the fact that an ambush of the team plane or bus would probably be likely once they arrived in Cleveland. Quicken Loans Arena security is going overboard to ensure that the rowdy and ruthless crowd does not become a dangerous one.

I am personally interested, though, to see how LeBron responds. He has yet to step up in big time pressure situations in the past, and I do not see tonight being any different. I actually think the Cavaliers will win the game outright despite being significantly less talented and six-point underdogs at home. Each player for the Cavaliers will be playing the game of their lives and have every single voice in the crowd behind them.

I wanted to make sure everyone was aware of what was at stake tonight.  A game consisting of all these unique ramifications will probably not occur again in sports for a very long time.  Take the time this evening to grab a drink, pop some popcorn, sit back and enjoy the show.

SPORTS: Podcast: MLB All-Star Game, Miami Thrice and More

Written by Ben Wagner on . Posted in Sports

The PB&J Report crew (again minus the titular “J”) raps about Major League Baseball’s midsummer classic, the future of the Miami Heat’s newly formed power trio and much more in their newest podcast, available below. Enjoy!

You can stream the podcast by simply clicking on the link below, or you can download it to your computer by right-clicking the link and selecting “Save Link As” from the menu.

Listen to: Rhombus Podcast 020 — The PB&J Report (2010.07.27)

Chris Paul

SPORTS: The Future of the NBA: A Family Affair

Written by Jake Welch on . Posted in Sports

Let’s talk LeBron James for a minute.

I know that at this juncture in the conversation the horse has been beaten, shot, skinned, dissected and had its hide made into a fine pair of shoes. Those shoes are now on my feet, so I now feel somehow justified to resurrect this topic and shed some light on the matter.

Let’s state the facts. LeBron James signed with the Miami Heat, joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Everyone and their grandmother have an opinion on the matter. Should he have stayed in Cleveland? Should he have gone to Chicago? Is he taking the easy route teaming up with his buddies? It’s all debatable at this point and really depends on your personal perspective.

The better question that we need to be asking ourselves is, what does LeBron’s decision mean for the rest of the league? Things that have been surfacing in the news this week will tell you a lot.

According to sources on ESPN.com, Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets is requesting a trade, specifically to the New York Knicks, Orlando Magic or Los Angeles Lakers. Paul said back on June 23rd that he would prefer to stay in New Orleans, but now he wants to go play with another superstar.

What swayed Paul’s decision? It probably had a lot to do with the fact that New Orleans did next to nothing in the free agent signing period to bring more talent to the team. However, LeBron’s decision to leave the team built around him most certainly also had an effect on Paul.

After seeing one of the game’s best players join forces with two other All-Star caliber players, I’m sure these two things crossed the mind of Chris Paul: 1) There is no way I am going to win a ring with this team, and 2) if LeBron doesn’t have to be the man on his team, why should I stick it out here?

If I were Paul, I would get discouraged if one of the elite players in the league gives up on a team that tried to build around him. If it didn’t work for LeBron, why would it work for me? Other players in the league are going to start asking themselves the same question — and soon enough things will start to change.

Something unique in the NBA is how their superstar equity is spread across the board. On any given night in any given NBA city you could see a star light up the scoreboard. Even the smaller market teams like Sacramento have a player like Tyreke Evans that can put people in the seats.

After the formation of this super Miami squad, look for NBA to lose this spread of quality players as they all try and join forces to make a bigger and stronger team. Don’t believe me? Just look at the future landscape of the NBA.

LeBron James and Chris Bosh both left small market teams (Cleveland and Toronto) that have nothing but a supporting cast similar to that of The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift. If this Chris Paul trade goes through, the Hornets will also be without a star. That makes three teams that went from contenders to future lottery pick teams very quickly — and that’s just the beginning.

Next summer Carmello Anthony will hit the market and the rumor is he could team up with Amare Stoudemire in New York. Deron Williams has been very vocal in expressing his thoughts on staying with the Jazz — if they don’t make a big splash or a litany of spectacular small moves, then he could request a trade next summer. Some other big names that could leave for greener pastures are Tony Parker and Yao Ming.

Before we know it, the big time sports cities with be able to lure two or three big names and compete for titles while everyone else with their one big name will get thrashed. By setting the standard with this triple threat, Miami basically challenged other teams to match what they have because it seems so absurd that any other team could do it. Trust me, the big power franchises will rise and do all they can to top the Heat.

Most of this is pure speculation. It could turn out that Chris Paul decides to stick it out with the Hornets and so will the rest of the league’s superstars with their respective small market franchises. However, as of now, there is ample reason to believe there will be a lot more tag-teaming in the NBA’s future — and a lot less flying solo.

Miami Heat

SPORTS: The Miami Heat: A Train Wreck Waiting to Happen

Written by Ben Wagner on . Posted in Sports

Last Saturday I woke up and had to ask myself, “Did the last 48 hours really happen?” The previous two days had been unlike any others in the history of American sport. We’d witnessed a free agent feeding frenzy, the fall from public grace of a superstar, and the formation of the greatest video game team of all time.

Let’s start off with LeBron James’ ridiculous hour-long ESPN special, “The Decision,” in which he announced his intention to leave his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers in favor of the Miami Heat. I have been for the last few months a fierce LeBron James apologist and defendant, even publishing a several thousand word article defending him after his playoff collapse against the Boston Celtics — but this was indefensible.

Having a one-hour TV special just to announce where you are going to play basketball only served to damage an already hurting public image. My biggest question is, who exactly is advising the self-titled King James? Ever since the end of the playoffs LeBron has done one thing after another (culminating in last night’s special) to hurt his public image.

The situation reminds me in a bizarre way of the Tiger Woods scandal. After the news about the accident and the infidelities broke, we watched as Tiger Woods completely mishandled the situation, forever damaging his image and brand. One had to ask who was advising him. The situation with LeBron seems to be eerily similar. LeBron may have forever damaged his image with the way he handled not only the hour-long TV special, but the manner in which he treated the Cleveland Cavaliers organization.

Then there’s the question of whether this was the best basketball decision LeBron could have made for himself. James could have potentially stayed in Cleveland, tried to convince other free agents to join him, hoped and fought to win a championship, and become the most famous and beloved person ever from the state of Ohio. Or he could have gone to the Knicks and taken on the challenge of saving professional basketball in New York City. Or he could have gone to the Chicago Bulls, a roster with already great players like Derrick Rose, Joaquim Noah, Carlos Boozer and recent addition Kyle Korver. James would have been the alpha dog and undisputed leader of a team full of young talent that could have been a potential dynasty. Not to mention he would have been literally trying to fill the shoes of the greatest player of all time, and prove himself worthy to be called the king.

But no, he took the seemingly easy way out, signing in Miami where we won’t have to be the alpha dog, employing the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” philosophy and essentially throwing in the towel when it comes to trying to be the greatest player of all time.

However, in Miami all kinds of questions arise. Is Chris Bosh really all that? Who’s team will it be — Dwyane Wade’s or LeBron James’? With so little cap space, who are the other eight players on the roster going to be? What happens if one of the big three get injured? Can the country handle the amount of Dan Lebatard we will have to endure over the next year? When you think about it, Miami seems to make the least sense. In the short term perhaps it makes sense, but in the long term, from a viewpoint of LeBron’s legacy, it makes very little sense. Which is why I think, he doesn’t actually want to play in Miami.

Let me explain. For months, rumors and speculation have been flying around that, during the Bejing Olympics, LeBron, Wade, Bosh, and possibly Chris Paul made some sort of agreement/blood pact/satanic oath that they would play together once they all became free agents. I present the thesis that this actually did occur. However, LeBron figured that economic reality would render this impossible and that it would never actually happen. Yet, when free agency rolled around, suddenly the Miami Heat had the cap space to pull it off and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were suddenly reminding him of his deal with the devil.

I think LeBron James is and has always been very aware of the concept of legacy. I think he would have loved the opportunity to play in Chicago and try to fill the vacant shoes of Michael Jordan. However, if LeBron is one thing, he is loyal to his friends. Here’s a man who has essentially kept the same core group of friends his entire life, proving to be extremely dependent and loyal to them. When he saw his friends in Miami, he realized he had to go through on the promise he had made — so he signed there.

Go back and watch the announcement from this past Thursday. There is little emotion — LeBron looks nervous, scared, and about as excited to go to Miami as Ali was to go on that date with the guy who sounded like a muppet on The Bachelorette. He doesn’t want to be there, yet he feels obligated to do so. As paradoxical as it seems (considering he betrayed his hometown on national television), I think his decision was actually based on loyalty.

Whether or not this is the case, on Friday we saw him put on a Miami Heat uniform for the first time and be introduced alongside Wade and Bosh at a rally. Interestingly enough, Wade was always in the middle of his two new teammates. Whether this was intentional or not, it still begs the question: Who is this team’s leader? Down two with five seconds left, who is taking the last shot?

Also, the question must be asked, is Chris Bosh really a superstar player. The stats would seem to indicate yes, but his record and time in the league would indicate no. Bosh has yet to play a big game in his career, and how he will handle the pressure is something that must be considered. Furthermore, Bosh is (at best) an average defensive player, and at some point he will have to guard the likes of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. Will he be up to the challenge?

Then there’s the question of who is really running the team. Coach Eric Spoelstra has received public support from both Wade and James — but everyone knows master manipulator Pat Riley is actually the man behind the curtain and he could replace Spoelstra with himself at any time. Riley may be the only person with the force of personality capable of keeping these three egos in check and it’s generally assumed that he will take over at some point.

While the Heat may have three great players, the big three have now taken up so much cap space that they will be forced to play with essentially unproven, minimum salary players filling up the bench and the rest of the roster. Does this make them better than, say, the Los Angeles Lakers? Are they even the favorites?

In a seven-game series, we can say that Dwayne Wade and Kobe Bryant almost cancel each other out. Pau Gasol and Chris Bosh will put on a spectacle by guarding each other equally poorly. And while we can give the Heat the edge in a Ron Artest-LeBron James match-up, the question remains: Are the rest of the Heat players going to be as good as Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher, or (dare I even say) “Big Game” Sasha Vujacic? I would think not. Does that then make the Heat even the favorites to win the NBA title?

When it comes down to it, we have a team in Miami who is faced with plenty of issues coming into the season, including:

a)    A star player who doesn’t necessarily want to be there;

b)   A coach who is overshadowed by his GM and who could, at any moment, be replaced by him;

c)    No defensive stopping ability, especially in the paint;

d)   No role players;

e)    No 3-point shooting;

f)     A big man who is unproven in big games;

g)    Real questions as to who is and will be the leader of the team, and who will take the final shot;

h)   Potential match-up problems with the teams at the top of the league.

Does anyone see this turning out well? Sure, I suppose I could be wrong about LeBron’s desire to be in Miami and maybe Eric Spoelstra will turn out to be the next Phil Jackson. Perhaps Mario Chalmers is the next Rajon Rondo. Everything could fall into place — sometimes the perfect storm does happen.

I just don’t forecast one for South Beach this coming season.

SPORTS: Podcast: NBA Playoffs, BYU Basketball, MLB and Much More

Written by Jake Welch on . Posted in Sports

Long overdue, but better late than never: The crew bids farewell to one member as Jake Welch prepares for a summer full of hair products and Yankees talk in New York City. The boys go out with a bang in this hourlong discussion of the ongoing NBA playoffs (lots of NBA playoffs), Michael Loyd, Jr.’s departure from the BYU basketball program, a little Major League Baseball, Ben Wagner’s penchant for bandwagon-jumping, and much, much more. Help us (temporarily) say goodbye to an old friend by listening below. Enjoy!

You can stream the podcast by simply clicking on the link below, or you can download it to your computer by right-clicking the link and selecting “Save Link As” from the menu.

Listen to: Rhombus Podcast 016 — The PB&J Report (2010.05.03)



LeBron James

SPORTS: LeBron James: Not a Choke Artist

Written by Ben Wagner on . Posted in Sports

Today we awoke to a new season — the summer of LeBron.

For 3 years the NBA has been holding its breath, knowing that some of its top players — including Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and, of course, LeBron James — become free agents this summer. LeBron is expected to be courted by a plethora of teams, all hoping to attract him to play in their respective cities. Up until yesterday, Lebron’s current team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, were the front runners to re-sign him and keep him in Cleveland. However, last night the Cavaliers lost to the Boston Celtics and ended their season early, starting the speculation about where LeBron will be playing next year.

But this also marks a new era in LeBron’s career. LeBron’s no-show performance in game 5 of the Boston series has given the anti-LeBron crowd ammunition to use against him. You see, there exists a large group of people who don’t like LeBron James. They don’t like the hype, his playful demeanor, his arrogance in proclaiming himself King James, or they just can’t stomach that he’s better then whoever is on their team. The point is, this group (which consists of Skip Bayless, Lakers fans, and irrational people from the state of Michigan) have called LeBron over-rated, a loser and, most importantly a choke artist.

This is simply irrational and not true. Calling LeBron James a choke artist is like calling James Cameron a box-office disappointment. The numbers just simply don’t back it up. Did the Cavaliers lose this past series? Yes. Did they “choke” away a 2 games to 1 series lead? Yes. Does LeBron bear a part of the blame and responsibility for this? Absolutely.

However, it needs to be stated that a) Mike Brown is a terrible coach, and his game management, game-planning, and in-game adjustments are as responsible for the Cavaliers loss as anything; b) LeBron does not have a great supporting cast. Mo Williams would be a serviceable bench player on a good team, coming off the bench in order to provide his team with a spark (similar to the role Jason Terry has taken on in Dallas), Shaq is a joke, Delonte West is a gremlin, and Antwan Jamison never really settled in with Cleveland; c) LeBron’s injured elbow definitely had an effect on his play. His Game 5 performance was so abysmal that rumors have swirled that the medication for the pain in his elbow had a negative effect on his state of mind. Whether or not this is true, it is undeniable that something was wrong with him — you could see it in his jump shot and tentative drives; d) While LeBron was the best player on the court, the Celtics had the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th best players; and e) even with all that, the series went to 6 games and the Cavaliers were competitive.

All that being said, LeBron had a bad series, yes, but the blame doesn’t all fall on him for losing to the Celtics. The bigger issue is that the anti-LeBron crowd has put this loss as evidence of a pattern, a history of “choking.” I think a large part of this stems from the fact that a large portion of the anti-LeBron crowd are Lakers fans, or more specifically fans of Kobe Bryant. Over the last few years, the same argument has been waged over and over again about who is better, Kobe or LeBron. While I find this argument nonsensical, it seems to come up in almost every single NBA-centered discussion I have had over the last few years. Laker fans obviously say its Kobe Bryant. They cite his reputation as a closer — Mr. Clutch — as the reason for him being the better player, and they add in how LeBron always chokes as reason for him being the lesser player.

This brings us to another question: where did Kobe’s reputation as Mr. Clutch come from, and where is the empirical evidence showing that LeBron has a history of choking in crunch time? I began to do some research and found some pretty interesting statistics. The website 82games.com keeps track of what they like to call “clutch” statistics. These statistics look at a players’ numbers in situations in which there is less then 5 minutes to go in the fourth quarter or overtime, and neither team is leading by more then five. The statistics are based on per 48 minutes of “clutch” time. According to their numbers, for this past season LeBron James was the most “clutch” player in the NBA, scoring 66 points per 48 minutes of “clutch time.” He shot 49 percent from the field during the “clutch” time, as well as averaging 16 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 turnovers, 3 blocks and 3 steals per 48 minutes. These numbers indicate that when the game is close in the 4th quarter, LeBron is a force to be reckoned with.

Number 2 on the same list is Kobe Bryant. Kobe averages 51 points per 48 minutes of “clutch” time. While shooting 44% from the field with averages of 7 rebounds 4 assists, 3 turnovers, 0 blocks, and 2 steals. These numbers would suggest that in “clutch” situations, LeBron is leading Kobe in every single statistical category except turnovers, in which Kobe has him beat by one. These are only the stats for the last season, but numbers are also available for the preceding two seasons. The numbers are almost identical, with LeBron beating Kobe in every major statistical category for all three years (except in 08-09, in which Kobe averaged 2 points more per 48 minutes, while all the other relevant statistical categories had roughly the same margins.)

Perhaps even more interesting is a statistical analysis of the 2007-2008 season, in which 82Games did a similar analysis showing only what they refer to as “super clutch” time, which they define as situations in which there is less then tnree minutes to go in either regulation or overtime where neither team leads by more then three. Per 48 minutes of “super clutch” time, Lebron scored 75 points, with Kobe scoring 64. LeBron averaged 48 percent, while Kobe averaged 47. LeBron averaged 8 rebounds, Kobe 12; LeBron averaged 7 assists to Kobe’s 5. But the most interesting of all these stats, is that per 48 minutes of “super clutch” time, LeBron averaged 4 turnovers while Kobe averaged 9. LeBron also averaged 4 blocks and 2 steals while Kobe averaged 0 blocks and 1 steal.

Perhaps even more telling is another analysis done by 82games on game-winning shots. They define this as when there are 24 seconds or less left in regulation or overtime, and the team with the ball is either tied, or down by 1 or 2 points. (This excluded 3 point margins because of the desire to exclude situations in which down three with the ball the opposing team would foul and turn the game into a free throw contest.) Unfortunately, this data runs from only the 2003-2004 season through February 4th of the 2008-2009 season. Therefore, last year’s playoffs and this whole season are not shown.

During that period, LeBron James led all players in made game-winning shots (17), shooting a respectable 34 percent. (League average in these situations was 30 percent.) He also had 6 assists to teammates for the game-winning shot and 4 turnovers. Kobe, on the other hand, is 4th on the list with 14 made game winners over the same stretch, shooting 25 percent. He had 1 assist to a teammate for the game winner and turned the ball over 5 times. While admittedly this data lacks the last year and a half of games, they would show that LeBron is not inept in crunch time situations.

If the statistics don’t prove it, history should. The 2006 NBA playoffs were LeBron’s first. In the first round, the Cavs played the Washington Wizards. LeBron hit game-winning shots in both game 3 and game 5(an overtime game), and helping his team to win a 1-point OT victory in the series clinching game 6. In the second round, the Cavs played the defending Eastern Conference champion Detroit Pistons and pushed the series to seven games. Mind you, the race for second-best player on the Cavs was between Drew Gooden and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

In the 2007 playoffs, the Cavaliers made it to the Eastern Conference finals again, playing Detroit. In Game 5 in Detroit, with the series tied at 2-2, LeBron scored 48 points, including a game-winning drive and dunk with 2 seconds to go. The Cavs went on to the NBA Finals. where they were significantly overmatched and beat by the Spurs. The Cavs second option on that team was Daniel Gibson.

In 200,8 the Cavs took the eventual champion Celtics to seven games. In Game 6, LeBron had a triple-double to lead the Cavs to victory and, in the Game 7 loss, had 45 points. In 2009, the Cavs lost to the Magic in 6 games in the Eastern Conference finals. LeBron averaged 39 points and hit an epic game winner in Game 2 to keep the Cavs hopes alive. Unfortunately, the Cavaliers guards couldn’t guard anyone and, despite LeBron’s best efforts, they lost.

The point of all this isn’t to say that LeBron is better then Kobe, or even to say that in the last 10 seconds you want LeBron shooting instead of Kobe. That’s not the point. When it comes down to it, the most important thing is obviously rings — Kobe has them, LeBron does not. However, the point is that LeBron is simply not a “choke artist.” Did he have a bad series? Yes, but let’s not form a revisionist history.

Everyone is saying he never hits the big shot. He does, he has. Everyone is saying he’s a habitual choker. Statistically and historically, that is just not the case. Unfortunately, with the (almost certainly) coming media backlash, LeBron will be continually labeled as a choke artist and a quitter until he wins a championship.