Posts Tagged ‘LeBron James’
July 14, 2016 | by Rowan Ricardo Phillips
Once upon a time, not too long ago, we knew what the routine was when it came to the end of an NBA season: the playoffs would come, a champion would be crowned, and—in the scoreboard–über alles style embraced more by basketball than any other sport—the losers would be banished to oblivion. The typical NBA fan can tell you how many championships Kobe Bryant won and yet pauses when asked to name the opponents he faced. No league is dragged along by its front-runner like the NBA is. If the league is, at its best, majestic, it’s also, at its worst, pharaonic.
The end of the season was once an estival balm. Summer would arrive to wash the past season clean. The break was essential. The players need a breather, but so do we, if only to dream a little. In the nineties, I, like most New Yorkers, used to think year after year that the Knicks had a chance against the Bulls. We know now which teams were the dynasties, but in the heat of competition, the outcomes never felt inevitable. Plenty of teams were quite good, and as they licked their wounds in the summer haze, they could reasonably think to themselves: Next year, why not us? Read More »
June 14, 2016 | by Rowan Ricardo Phillips
The finals get interesting.
And just like that, Monday evening blossomed into something both the rabid and the casual basketball fan will remember. The Cavaliers, down three games to one and facing elimination on the road—in the fortress that is the Oracle Arena, no less—rode their two superstars, who were both pulsing their brightest, to a dramatic 112–97 victory, dragging the resuscitated corpse of this NBA Finals back to the waiting arms of their fans in Cleveland.
Now a win at home—something they already managed in emphatic fashion in the third game of the series—would force a do-or-die game 7; the Cavs would have all of the momentum and every right to believe that the two best players in the building are dressed in Cavs colors. Just like that, this series has gone from the Coasters’ “Yakety Yak” to Donald Byrd’s “Emperor.” Read More »
February 5, 2016 | by Rowan Ricardo Phillips
If you’re among those who believe we’re witnessing a basketball revolution, you should be very interested in the LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. They’re not shooting threes like their lives depend on it, and they’re not using lineups that minimize size in favor of speed and skill. They’re not part of the new orthodoxy of the unorthodox. They’re a stay against the revolution. Read More »
November 6, 2015 | by Rowan Ricardo Phillips
Say hello to our new basketball columnist: Rowan Ricardo Phillips.
Last Wednesday evening, after most of the autumn day had been washed away by rain, I found myself crossing Atlantic Avenue, in Brooklyn. A friend and I were heading to Barclays Center to see the Brooklyn Nets open their season against the Chicago Bulls, one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. In this day and age, being one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference doesn’t mean much; the powerhouse teams, with all due respect to LeBron James’s Cleveland Cavaliers, are in the West. But a game between two Eastern Conference teams offers the opportunity to see competition in its purest form: that is, within a realm of easily exposed flaws and weaknesses. Seeing a team miss shot after shot isn’t my idea of a fun time, but watching teams divine their strengths from a forest of inadequacies—I prefer that to endless hours of free and easy swishing. And if that sounds crazy to you, think of how many people sing the praises of college basketball.
My friend, who went to college in Chicago, is a Bulls fan. You wouldn’t know it today from his cool demeanor, but once upon a time he was of those nineties-era Bulls fans, the ones who tormented New Yorkers by wearing his Bulls cap everywhere he went, saying little because little needed to be said. The Bulls almost always won, and almost always at the expense of the New York Knicks. But today it’s a struggle to imagine my friend in a cap at all, much less being invested enough in basketball to risk his well-being for a sartorial statement. In fact, I can only recall him mentioning basketball once in the past few years: when a Miami native insisted on referring to his beloved Superteam, with an evil tilt to his Jack Nicholson-esque eyebrows, as the Heatles. Then the look of the scrapper scoured my friend’s face and the side of his forehead trellised with veins before he laughed it off: “Yeah, the Heat are pretty good. We’ll see.” He’s from the Midwest. Read More »
December 19, 2012 | by Rowan Ricardo Phillips
The most common score in basketball is 2-0. It tends to be the point of departure from which thousands upon thousands upon thousands of basketball games subsequently differentiate themselves. Yes, of course the game can break its goose eggs with a three-pointer from behind the line, or the enduring “and one” basket and free throw, or it can begin with one of two free throws made after a personal or technical foul. 1-0, 3-0: as far as basketball scores go these are baroque figures: one bland, one grand. But 2-0. One basket made inside the arc with no response yet from the other team. It’s the primordial moment of the game in motion. The opening bell. The icebreaker.
Twenty seconds into last night’s game in Madison Square Garden, when Raymond Felton dribbled hard to his left, flattened out from the left elbow of the lane, dropped his shoulder as though heading full-steam on an angle toward the hoop, and then, instead, took a sudden step backward, elevated, and rattled in a fifteen-foot jump shot, the New York Knicks led the Houston Rockets by the pristine score of 2-0. The crowd cheered. I watched and couldn’t help but wonder: Would tonight be Felton’s night? I have trouble recalling another ballplayer with Felton’s knack for being both mercurial and dependable always and at the same time. He can shoot you out of a game you have no business losing. He can shoot you to a victory against the best competition. Yet, as strange as this must now sound, he basically plays the same game every game. He always looks to run the offense. And he rarely turns the ball over (a trait he should get far more credit for). Read More »
July 8, 2010 | by Jim Rutman
Who am I to deny LeBron James a chance to move away?LeBron James is thinking. And Cleveland is worrying. At twenty-five, the two-time NBA MVP is the most admired, elaborately talented, and imaginative basketball player of this era. He is also, by an unfunny and indisputable margin, the most important Clevelander in memory, if not history. Harvey Pekar, Bob Hope, Paul Newman, and Drew Carey can fight it out for second place. Born in nearby Akron, he was preternaturally composed, having achieved crippling levels of notoriety before turning sixteen, generating the most unrealistic expectations in decades, and calmly proceeding to exceed them all. Ever since he signed a contract extension with the Cleveland Cavaliers four years ago, his fellow Clevelanders have dreaded July 1, 2010. This was the date that, seven years into a triumphant—though still championship-less—career, LeBron became the most coveted free agent in modern team sports.
After a year or two of local consternation, a couple of months of over-thinking, and a full week of orgiastic, self-negating theorizing and maneuvering, the care-worn, hostage-taken people of Northeast Ohio know that LeBron plans to make his decision and announcement during an hour-long, live special on ESPN at nine o'clock this Thursday evening. We know because ESPN, whose band of specialist scrutinizers and hypothesizers have, at various points, overwhelmed Twitter's tube capacity in the last week, "broke" this story about their own network's broadcast, abetting LeBron’s unfortunate, hubristic tendencies. His fate will require a dedicated hour of live television.
And since the final game of the shamefully frictionless eastern conference semifinals, when the Boston Celtics overwhelmed the Cavaliers, ESPN has helped ratify what all Clevelanders understand to be a fact: we lose. Most often, dramatically. There is a dazzling catalog of defeat engrained in the cringing lizard brain of every Northeast Ohio sports fan, and ESPN had the soul-puncturing, spirit-killing montage of upper-case humiliations1 cued up. Each anti-triumph represents a picturesque, late-game failure by a once-promising Cleveland pro team. We Clevelanders know them all by sickened heart. Read More »
- Quickly: The Catch (baseball: by Willie Mays against the Indians in the 1954 World Series); The Drive (football: referring to a late game drive by Denver's John Elway); The Fumble (committed by Ernest Byner of the Browns); The Shot (basketball, courtesy of Michael Jordan); The Date (1964, the last year a Cleveland team won a major championship of any kind, and the year of the Civil Rights Act). There is also a gnawing late-inning collapse in a Game 7 loss to the Florida Marlins in the 1997 World Series that does yet have a fun proper name.