LeBron (3-5), Mobility, Opportunities

Welp. So much for a seven game series.

The Warriors finished off the Cavaliers in five games and Kevin Durant got his ring. I was ready for the circus. I wrote in a post last year about it, and I’m too lazy to link to it. I have no issues with Durant joining the Warriors. Sure, it was “weak sauce” hopping over to the team you had just lost to in the Western Conference Finals (in 2016) after blowing a 3-1 series lead, but I’m all for mobility and movement in life. You wouldn’t bash somebody for taking a pay raise or career position upgrade, would you? So don’t bash pro athletes.

One thing I will never be able to — because I refuse to — empathize with is home city homer-ism. I will state what I’ve said since the beginning of TSTOS and before when I had project blogs on WordPress in 2005 and 2006: there are no pro sports teams (at least in the three major American sports) where I grew up in southwest Virginia. Not one. The closest pro sports franchises around are the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, etc. Outside of Virginia Tech sports programs, which of course is collegiate, I never had a ‘local’ pro sports team to choose from.

So, the Rams leaving St. Louis didn’t affect me other than making all my St. Louis Rams items collectors items. The Rams have left Cleveland, Los Angeles and St. Louis. I don’t even bother looking at the comment sections of Rams’ social media posts, because it’s always the same things: folks from LA and St. Louis bashing one another, all out of ignorance. Wasted endeavors.

With that said, over the years I’ve developed a broadened perspective on pro sports. It’s not just a black and white mentality to me, as a fan. I appreciate just about all teams in sports. I wish not only the Celtics, but the Lakers, Knicks, 76ers, etc. to be competent franchises in the NBA, because I think it makes the product better (to see classic franchises succeed)!

Before the 2011  MLB season, I wrote that I’d be OK with Albert Pujols leaving the Cardinals, as he was 31 or 32 and already spent his prime years with the Cards, and that I’d be annoyed if they rewarded him with a massive contract just for performing, that doing so would handicap the future of the franchise. The Cardinals won the World Series that year and ensuingly allowed Pujols to walk and go to the Los Angeles Angels for an egregious amount of cash. I was cool with it. Pujols was and is my all-time favorite baseball player, but I knew such a contract would be pure shit for the Cardinals. My buddy — who has since come around — was furious when Pujols left… it was smart for Pujols to take the money the Angels offered him, so I don’t blame him. And I don’t blame Kevin Durant for going to the Warriors because he wanted to win.

With all this bloviating, I still side with LeBron in 2010 — just as I did back then — when he left Cleveland. I never liked that he returned to Cleveland in 2014, though, just because of the way those idiots acted when he left. He’s the greatest athlete that has ever graced Cleveland (move over, Jim Brown), and they disrespected him by burning jerseys and all that jazz. I wield a little bit of bitterness over the Warriors blowing that 3-1 lead in the Finals last year, because I can’t help but contend that the city of Cleveland nor Dan Gilbert deserved that championship last year. It’s as though they were rewarded for the temper tantrums they collectively threw in 2010. That’s bullshit, to me.

LeBron James’ teams are 3-5 in the NBA Finals. So what? Jerry West is the logo of the NBA and his teams went 1-8 in the NBA Finals. Nobody bats an eye. My girlfriend — who enjoyed some parts of the NBA Finals but is relatively new to watching — asked me, “If LeBron is the best player in the world, why is he not so loved?” He’s always been polarizing. He’ll never get the full credit he deserves. He averaged a triple double in this Finals, and there are utter morons out there who are blaming him for the Cavs losing to a superior Warriors team. That is asinine.

The older I get, the less ‘crazed’ I am about the “my team vs. the world” mentality. I’m much more appreciative and open minded about hearing from fans who are impartial and objective about sports instead of eager to impulsively post hot takes on players or bash players for idiotic reasons whether for homer-ism of their own teams or blissful ignorance.

Why can’t we just appreciate what we are seeing?

We just watched the Warriors and Cavs play in back to back to back NBA Finals, and that’s awesome. We won’t get to see Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving play forever; they won’t always be in their prime forever. Also, how incredible was it to see both teams practically completely healthy? That’s amazing and typically unlikely. We are lucky to be able to witness this epic amalgamation of talent on the court all at once.

Yet people bitch, they moan, they cry, they whine.

I’ll pose this question again: did this kind of bitching happen in the 1980s when the Lakers and Celtics were virtually in every NBA Finals either against one another three times or against other squads?

Maybe it did. I’m sure if the internet and social media were around, of course somebody would have bitched, because in the heat of the moment, just like today, folks post their opinions at impulse without a moment of patience to allow a thought to process, settle and stew for a bit.

Yet all these bitchin’ folks watched the Finals, I’m sure, and I’m positive they enjoyed themselves watching them.

Sure, the regular season of the NBA is awful, but I’m weary of long, drawn out regular seasons, anyway. I wouldn’t complain if Adam Silver & Co. reduced the amount of games in the regular season. I don’t care about teams resting star players, because I hardly watch regular season basketball outside of highlights.

Moral of all the inane rambling above: let’s all collectively appreciate greatness. The Warriors are great. LeBron is top notch. Let’s stop bashing professional athletes for wielding the opportunity for mobility/upgrading. Be a fan of your team, not the city.

Warriors/Cavs: NBA Finals Part III and Grillin’

I’m not sure how the 2017 NBA Finals ratings are doing, but all the people who stated before the Finals that they are tired of this matchup are full of bologna. I wasn’t around in the 1980s, but everything I’ve read about that decade in regards to basketball suggests that pro ball had a revival thanks to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Funny. Those Celtics and Lakers teams were in the NBA Finals virtually every year of that decade, and nobody seemed to get tired of that occurrence. Maybe if Twitter and other forms of social media — along with the internet — had been around back then, people would have vociferated their annoyances impulsively like they do now. Who knows.

All I know is that the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are hands down the best teams in the NBA, and I’ve been looking forward to this rematch. One of my buddies who’s also a Spurs apologist like yours truly thinks the Spurs would have defeated the Warriors had Kawhi Leonard not been hurt, but I disagree — we saw the Spurs crumble after Leonard got hurt in game one of the Western Conference Finals. That one piece to the puzzle proved that the Spurs’ competence as a unit without Leonard is pretty damn tenuous! (Of course, the Cavs without LeBron might as well be Eastern conference cellar dwellers.)

The Warriors just blew out the Cavs in the first two games of the Finals. Somehow, LeBron (triple double in game two) managed to single-handedly keep the Cavs in the game until the fourth quarter of the second one. A lot of folks are already counting the Cavs out, but I’ll always believe in the mindset that a series ain’t a series until a home team loses. The pressure is on Cleveland Wednesday night. I have a feeling they’ll win game 3. I want this series to go the full seven, damn it! I was in Alabama last year and missed the last few games of the Finals.

Don’t forget that the Warriors jumped out ahead 2-0 in last year’s Finals with a 15 point win in game one and a 33 point win in game two. Then they led 3-1 before the Cavs ripped off three straight games. Yeah, I know, this is a different Dubs team; Kevin Durant jumped on board to chase a ring, but nothing is ever guaranteed or else that 2003-2004 Los Angeles Lakers squad with Kobe, Gary Payton, Karl Malone and Shaq would have beaten that awesome Detroit Pistons bunch.

Those are the burgers I grilled up on my STOK drum grill last night! They came out pretty damn good; no complaints from anyone, at least. I posted that to Reddit, and I made a mistake by mentioning STOK’s name, and a few idiots considered it a “hail corporate!” kind of thing. I wish! I’d love to be endorsed by STOK. I give them plenty of free advertising both on here and on Instagram.

It’s 73/27 ground beef. A 5+ lb. batch goes for about $10 at the grocery store. Whenever I grill them, I like to form the patties and put them in the freezer for a while to let them solidify, as it makes them much easier to cook. However, my family was so damn hungry I had to be a little quick. The problem with not doing the freezer method with these is that they fall apart. It’s difficult to sear them, because they are so fatty the fat drips onto the coals and induces plenty of flare ups. It wasn’t a huge problem last night. It at least made for some nice pictures. The burgers came out delicious and juicy, with a nice crust.

I give credit to this STOK grill because I love the cast iron grates. As I’ve said before, I’m a cast iron freak. Nothing holds heat better. I also love this grill, because with the basket you can use it as a direct/indirect grill, and what I plan on using with a “vortex” method pretty soon. I’m going to get some wings and start them off on indirect heat on the grill for 7-10 minutes per side with the lid closed before crisping them up, very carefully, on direct heat. Should be some damn good eatin’! The little lady loves crispy wings (hell… so do I), so this should be worth a shot on the ol’ STOK!

If Last Night Was Manu Ginobili’s Final NBA Game…

Then I must say: thank you, Manu Ginobili.

Ginobili is one of my top 10 favorite players of all-time. A great Spur in his sixteen years in San Antonio. I remember frequenting a sports forum back in the summer of 2006 that featured a member by the name of “koolaid”, who was a Los Angeles Lakers fan, a guy that believed Ginobili was on the same level as Kobe Bryant. Some might say that’s far fetched, and hey, in a way it is, but if you consider Kobe’s game to be ‘artistic’ in expression, in regards to his free-flowing offensive style, how can you not say the same about Ginobili, if you’ve watched him play? Sure, he was always a little awkward in his movements, but his dribbling and drives to the basket made for some of the best highlights in the history of the game.

My all-time favorite Manu game, prior to the 2005 NBA playoffs, was back in January 2005 when he scored 48 points on the Phoenix Suns! The 2004-2005 NBA season was a pretty damn fun one. It was Reggie Miller’s last year, the SuperSonics were damn good with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, it was Shaquille O’Neal’s first season in Miami with second year guard Dwyane Wade, the Spurs were potent and the Pistons were gung-ho on attempting a repeat (I loved that Pistons’ team, by the way; nowadays where a team must feature two or three stars, that Pistons squad functioned as a unit led by Larry Brown).

The Suns were fantastic in ’04-’05 with that “7 seconds or less” offense headed by Steve Nash! A lot of people call the Warriors of the last couple of years the greatest offense ever, but man, if you were too young to watch the ’04 or ’05 (especially the ’04, though) Suns, I feel sorry for you. Steve Nash was in the midst of his first of two back-to-back MVP season performances, and they were a thrill to watch if you enjoyed basketball.

Tensions were running high in January 2005 in the Western Conference. The Spurs and Suns were battling it out in an Old West duel for the top seed in the said conference. That night, January 21, 2005, I was finally switching to cable/broadband internet after having dial-up my whole life. It was an aggravation! However, while dealing with all that, the Spurs/Suns game was on ESPN and Ginobili, well, like I said, he lit the Suns up with 48 points and the Spurs won a thriller in overtime.

All my favorite players have just about retired!

Charles Barkley is Right About LeBron James

I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time defending LeBron James over the years. Lately he’s been bitching about wanting more playmakers on the Cleveland Cavaliers. I think it’s just a ploy to stir up dust, something he seems to do just about every January (the last couple of Januarys) to light a fire under his team. No harm, no foul.

Charles Barkley said that LeBron is whiny; I agree.

“Daddy” (The Cleveland Cavaliers) told the child (LeBron James) he can’t have his toy. LeBron, who has a house full of toys, runs crying to “mommy” (the media) saying that “daddy” doesn’t love him. “Mommy” and “daddy” fight when the toy store worker (Charles Barkley) pipes in and implores the “daddy” and “mommy” to act like adults. “You spoiled that child and now he’s a whiny brat”, Barkley the toy store worker emits. “How many toys do you need kid?” And now the child is running to “mommy” saying that the mean man hurt his feelings. Just imagine what all the other parents (teams) and children (players) are thinking.

In all seriousness, why do we now have a society where the criticizer dishing out soft criticism is dubbed a ‘hater’? I’ve wrote about this in the past. I despise that word and I can’t help but view people saying it as childish or downright mentally ill-by-choice.

LeBron went on to Google some lurid facts about Barkley’s indiscretions and brought it to light. You can tell just how offended ‘Bron was/is, just by how emotional he is about it. He might just be the most thin skinned star in NBA history.

Kevin Durant Joining the Warriors is Hilarious to Me

I never touched on this subject when Kevin Durant bolted from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the star studded Golden State Warriors.

But I have to, now, because it’s hilarious to me!

Back in the summer of 2010, I defended the hell out of LeBron James for ditching the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. LeBron was a molecular structured villain for the majority of his four year stint in Miami (especially the first two years). When he left in the summer of 2010, a lot of people placed Kevin Durant on a pedestal and anointed him for how “loyal” he is/was. Even back then, I was smirking and having to stop myself from laughing my ass off at sports fans’ ignorance and the false notion of loyalty in professional sports.

I was always in the Bill Simmons’ camp (2008-2010) of referring to Durant as the future former Oklahoma City Thunder. I never thought that franchise would build the correct pieces around him to get him to stay, but then they drafted Russell Westbrook in 2008 and James Harden in 2009, while Serge Ibaka officially became a member of the Thunder in 2009. The team made a Western Conference Finals appearance in 2011 and ultimately made the NBA Finals in 2012 before being ousted by LeBron James and the Heat in five games.

After that, the train came off the rails. The Thunder decided to keep Serge Ibaka over James Harden (rather than paying Harden a max contract) by sending Harden to Houston, and then injuries to both Westbrook (playoffs/2013) and Durant (2014 and 2015) hampered the team. In the playoffs this past season, the Thunder were primed to capture a title! They had the 73-win Golden State Warriors on the edge of being kicked off the cliff with a 3-1 Western Conference Finals series lead, and the Thunder ensuingly shit the bed and blew three consecutive games to the Warriors.

Durant signed with the Warriors in the offseason, and now he’s the biggest villain in the NBA right now. Once again, it’s hilarious to me, after everybody praised his loyalty back in 2010 when he signed a new contract with the Thunder. He didn’t have to leave the Thunder, y’know? That team was ready to contend and face the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals for years to come, and he bolted!

I’m not mad at Durant; I don’t even dislike Durant. Hell, I’m actually excited for the upcoming season, because it’s going to be incredibly entertaining watching the Warriors play! They are officially the new villains of pro basketball, from Durant to that donkey-looking son of a bitch Draymond Green, the President of Dirty NBA Play, leading the charge! It’s going to be exciting — and amusing — watching detractors become enraged when the Warriors win and elated when they lose.

Oh, and the NBA title is not a ‘gimme‘ for the Warriors this season, either, despite their star studded lineup. They lost key pieces in Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut. Also, the 2003-2004 Lakers didn’t win the NBA title despite their lineup of Gary Payton, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone and Shaquille O’Neal! Even the Heat failed to win a title their first year together during the LeBron-Wade-Bosh years.

The only thing I’m annoyed about are sports fans who live, breathe and die by the notion of a loyal professional athlete. Just sit back and enjoy the game, folks. Just be a basketball fan and have some fun.

Now, here’s some Kurtis Blow!

Tim Duncan is Retiring

I’ve been inactive for a few months due to being busy (life and traveling). I’ve missed commenting on such things as the Conor McGregor/UFC debacle, Stipe Miocic winning the UFC Heavyweight title, Michael Bisping shocking the world and winning the UFC Middleweight title on short notice and UFC 200, but this morning Tim Duncan has announced his retirement from basketball after 19 seasons in the NBA.

Duncan is probably my favorite basketball player of all-time. While I’m forever a Celtics fan, I’ve always been a Spurs supporter/apologist. My dad was also a Celtics fan, but he loved the way Gregg Popovich ran the Spurs; in the early 2000s, my dad and I watched a shithorde of Spurs (playoffs) games and practically adopted the team as a western conference favorite. The last NBA Finals we watched together was the 2003 Finals in which Duncan and the Spurs ousted the back-to-back eastern conference champion Nets in six games (David Robinson’s last ever game).

I don’t have anything to say that somebody else couldn’t sum up better about Duncan’s career. I hope he’s not forgotten in the annals of NBA history. I mean, hell, of course he won’t be — he’s one of the greatest players of all-time; he’s in my top 5 based on pure leadership on and off the court as well as the way he played the game. He was never involved in a single controversy nor did he create drama within his franchise like another former NBA player who also played his final season this past year.

I was hoping Duncan would come back to play at least one more season, but it is what it is.

Mahalo and ciao, Big Fundamental.

James Harden Epitomizes My Boredom With the NBA

The Golden State Warriors ran roughshod on the NBA this year. The San Antonio Spurs, a team I’ve had a deep affinity for, for so long, were right behind them. Kobe Bryant retired.

And I’m bored with the Association.

I’ve been bored for a while. I mean, I love the playoffs. I love basketball. But I’m rooting for something interesting to happen. I want rivalries and tough, physical play between players that want to win more than they want to breathe, but most of those days are over. Sure, there may be some ultra competitive players in the league today, but what’s advertised more often than not, and what’s in the limelight, are millionaire buddy-buddy basketball players high-fiving each other and homie-hugging it out on the court while wearing different jerseys. Their mentality seems to be, “Yeah, winning is okay, but I’d like to play with the other team’s star player and make sure we are still cool so we can hang out in cool suites in the offseason”.

I miss that “fuck you” mentality of players.

James Harden of the Houston Rockets is an unequivocal offensive juggernaut. He could be a superstar if he was dedicated enough to the game of basketball to play defense. There’s a video of him going around the web (I’m too lazy to find it and share) allowing a free layup on a fast break last night during game 2 of the Rockets/Warriors series. That’s a common theme with Harden. You can go on YouTube right this instance and spend a whole day watching his defensive blunders and still have room to watch even more.

Here you have a guy that is incredibly marketable (thanks to the beard), who can be among the cream of the crop as far as top basketball players go, yet he’s… unremarkably below average at defense, and not from a deficiency in talent but from being fucking lazy. What’s the point of watching?

The NBA playoffs are outright physical — you can tell from watching the games — but James Harden is one of the players on the court marking his stamp of an exception to that rule. Why?