“Around the NBA,” is back by popular demand. This week I will spend most of my time breaking down last week’s highly anticipated Heat-Cavs game. I’ll also talk about one of my favorite players to watch, hot and cold teams, and who has put up Triple-Doubles this year. Let’s start out as we always do…
-Heat Check: Did you know that LeBron James returned to Cleveland last week, for the first time in a Miami uniform? Did you know that Matt Cassel didn’t start at USC? But seriously, I completely understand all of the hype surrounding the Heat vs. Cavs last Thursday.
Fact is LeBron angered all of the Cleveland fans when he made his decision (if you will) to leave (didn’t matter where), but, something he may not have expected, he pissed off everyone else when he did “The Decision.” NBA fans, sports fans, humans, and aliens alike all had the same reaction, “Seriously?”
“I’m taking my talents to South Beach,” has become a punch line. LeBron is the most hated player in the NBA, and that’s saying something with over 450 guys with varying backgrounds and issues. (Kobe Bryant, Zach Randolph, or anyone from Duke.) So his return to Ohio was a major event not just for Cavs fans but also for everyone else who wanted to see what would happen. What would the fans do? How would LeBron deal with it?
LeBron dealt with it. He would have scored 50 points and had double digit assists if he didn’t sit out the entire 4th quarter because of the blow out. Cleveland is not good, and I thought their players handled the night even worse. I heard Boobie Gibson saying that all the talk and smiles didn’t mean they were getting along, but come on. Seriously. The team owner Dan Gilbert made very personal comments following the departure and the fans have been all jacked up for this game since it was announced, and how do the players react? Hugs, smiles, handshakes, and conversation. Weak sauce.
Chris Webber on TNT had no problem ripping the Cavs players, it was great. He called them heartless and said they were soft. Charles Barkley said he wouldn’t have hugged his mother if she beat him as bad as the Heat did Cleveland. Classic. (Side note: why do power forwards make the best analysts? Barkley, Webber, and Kevin McHale are all excellent, I’m sure Shawn Kemp and Derrick Coleman would have great incite at this point.)
Question now if you’re a Cleveland fan, how do you root for this team? They lose LeBron, so obviously the ceiling falls through, but it’s still your team. His loss looked like a great rallying point for the fan base, and then you see your current team all buddy-buddy with the super villain. Did Rocky hang out with Apollo Creed? Ok, yes he did, but not at first, and there’s more to it.
My favorite signs from Heat-Cavs game included; “Lyin’ King,” “LBJ Is a Bigger Sellout Than This Game,” “Heat 11-8, LeBron Must Have Left His Talents in Cleveland,” and even the questionable “Like Father, Like Son.” Cavs fans: A; Cavs players: F.
Perhaps even worse news is the fact that, “LeBron vs. The World,” may have actually brought this Miami team together. They followed up the blowout win over the Cavs with a double-digit win over the Hawks. The Heat have won 4 straight and square off with Brandon Jennings and the Bucks tonight. Long wining streak on the way? I’m afraid so. Milwaukee is the first of four straight on the road, with the last three on the road, they face Utah, Golden State, and Sacramento. Speaking of the Warriors…
-Monta Ellis is Exciting! If you have NBA League Pass or at the very least stayed up and watched the 2nd game of the TNT double dip from Thursday, you probably feel the same way as I do about Monta Ellis. Top 5 most exciting player to watch in the NBA? Top 3? On any given night he can drop 40 on you with no problem. He reminds me a lot of Gilbert Arenas from a few years ago. Ellis more of a leaper, Arenas more of a point guard, but you get the idea. Both guys are small, need the ball a lot, but can score at will.
Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant might make scoring look the easiest in the league, but I’d put Ellis 3rd. But similarly to my man Arenas, Ellis will never win a title if he’s the best player on the team. He might put fans in the seats, not let you change the channel, and sell jerseys, but the way his game is, it just won’t translate to playoff success.
-“Bring Your Green Hat!” Here’s a look at the current streaks in the NBA, both for the good and the bad. As you already know the Celtics have won 7 in a row tied with the Nuggets for 2nd best in the league, behind the Dallas Mavericks, who to my surprise have ripped off 9 straight W’s and are now 16-4. As for the sinking ships, it’s really just the Sacramento Kings, dropping their last 7 and 13 out of 14. So much for the 3-1 start.
-Triple-Doubles: There have been a total of 9 triple-double so far in the NBA season, by 9 different players… (Waiting as you think of who… Rajon Rondo and who else… answers below*.) Each position has been represented; there has been a rookie, a 2nd year player, and a couple of defending champs…
Normally on “Around the NBA,” I will hit a number of topics, but since this was a special week with a special game most of the attention was put on that. But rest assured this will not just turn into a Miami Heat column going forward, because nobody wants that. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back next week with another edition of “Around the NBA.”
Rich Keefe is an anchor and host on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston and frequent collaborator on the CelticsHub.com podcast. He also writes for The Sports Brief.
*Triple-Doubles so far this season: Rajon Rondo, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, LeBron James, Brandon Jennings, Stephen Jackson, John Wall, Josh Smith, and Tim Duncan.