With the Spurs up 3-2 in the series, my prediction of Spurs in 6 is looking pretty good; especially if they cut down on the turnovers and make jump shots as they did in Game 5….
I also picked the Heat and Spurs to meet in the NBA Finals before the season, so I’m just a win away from genius status….
But with Miami 48 minutes from elimination, it’s going to take a great effort from San Antonio to close them out. But as Gregg Popovich said in the huddle Sunday night, “This is the NBA Finals; it’s supposed to be hard to win.”….
On Saturday night, I hosted the 10PM-2AM slot on NBC Sports Radio and said Manu Ginobili was going to be the difference in Game 5, because he was getting an extra day off and wanted to erase the embarrassment of his miserable Game 4 performance….
Hall-of-Fame players such as Manu have a lot of pride, so I wasn’t surprised he played so well and led the Spurs to a huge win…
What has surprised me is the play of Danny Green; who is making every three-point shot he tries and will be the MVP if San Antonio wins the championship. Cut twice by Popovich and a former teammate of LeBron’s in Cleveland, Green has been the Spurs best player in the Finals….
But the real star has been Popovich, who is doing what every coach in the NBA should do when they play the Heat; seal off the lane, go behind screens and dare LeBron and his friends to beat you from the perimeter….
I’d like to call Pop a genius for coming up with this strategy, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that zoning and sealing the lane against LeBron is the way to defeat Miami….
Unless, of course, your name is Frank Vogel, Scott Brooks or every coach in the NBA not named Rick Carlisle….
For the Finals, LeBron is shooting lass than 45% from the floor and 25% from three-point range, far below the other-worldly numbers King James put up this season….
Kind of reminds you of the 2011 finals against Dallas, doesn’t it?….
LeBron is getting his points, but shooting a low percentage, has to work hard for everything and not getting anything in the paint against the Spurs half court defense….
The only easy stuff LBJ gets is when the Spurs turn the ball over and Miami gets into transition. The Heat are by far the best team in the NBA at finishing after creating mistakes and it usually ends with a LeBron dunk….
And when King James gets a few dunks, the jump shots start falling and he is impossible to stop….
But when you don’t turn it over, get Miami into the half court and zone off the paint, LeBron isn’t nearly as effective….
Despite improving his perimeter game, he still isn’t good enough out there to beat a quality team with a good game plan over a seven game series….
At least I don’t think he is; the next two games will speak volumes….
One think I disagree with is all the so-called “experts” saying LeBron’s legacy will be hurt if he loses this series and he will in some way be tarnished….
It’s not his fault his teammates aren’t playing well enough for Miami to win and LBJ is doing all he can against a defense totally committed to stopping him….
The Spurs defense isn’t a straight zone, but it’s the closest thing to it with all of the going behind screens, double teaming and sealing off the three-second area….
And it’s 100% designed to make LeBron’s life miserable and challenge his teammates to make plays….
Can’t wait for Game 6….
After the Dallas Mavericks laid the blueprint on how to defeat LeBron and the Miami Heat in the 2011 Finals by using a variety of zone defenses, I foolishly believed other coaches around the NBA would take notice….
Since there is enormous pressure to win and their jobs are on the line, you’d think every one of them would either zone or seal off the lane when they played the Heat; since the Mavs had enormous success and exposed King James as a guy who can’t beat you from the perimeter….
So when the Thunder faced the Heat in the 2012 Finals, I assumed Scott Brooks would devour game tape of how Dallas defeated Miami and then zone the Heat into another loss….
Instead, Brooks sat there with his thumb up his ass for five games as LeBron posted up little guys for easy lay-ups, drove to the hoop and made plays and lived at the free throw line….
Quarter after quarter, half after half and game after game, Brooks sat on the OKC bench with a glazed look on his face and didn’t make one single defensive adjustment as his team lost the series….
After what the Mavericks accomplished, it was shockingly poor preparation and coaching by Brooks. Either that or his projector was broken and he was unable to watch game film of the previous year’s finals….
Again, how could an NBA coach watch the 2011 Finals, observe how Dallas took apart the Heat with a zone and then not learn from it? How do you watch LeBron destroy you without making an adjustment?….
It was inexplicable then and remains so….
But Brooks is not alone in his stupidity, as Pacers coach Frank Vogel did the same thing in this year’s Eastern Conference Finals; watching cluelessly as LeBron overpowered everyone trying to guard him….
So did Vogel go to a zone? Nope, he said he was thinking about using one next year. Did he pack big men Roy Hibbert and David West in the three second area to seal off the lane? Nope. Did he run a second defender at King James to make him give up the ball? Nope….
Instead, he said “we’re going to do what we’ve done all year; it’s too late to change now” and lost a series his team should have won. The Pacers outplayed the Heat over the seven game series, but in the end LeBron made play after play and carried his team to victory….
After Game Seven, did Vogel admit he could have done things differently and adjust his defense to take LeBron away? Nope, he still has no idea it was his fault his team lost and stubbornly said he wouldn’t do anything differently….
Ensuring he’ll lose again to the Heat in the future….
But Gregg Popovich is a whole other story….
Pop is the best coach in the NBA and simply was not going to allow LBJ to run all over the court and make plays. No way was he going to single cover him and watch LeBron score easily or shoot free throws….
King James might beat him, but he wasn’t going to get any lay-ups or dunks. Every time LBJ drove into the lane, a second defender was going to be there and he was going to get bumped, double teamed and harassed. Pop was going to make life miserable for LeBron anytime he got near the basket….
If LBJ and his teammates consistently make perimeter jump shots, you shake their hands and congratulate them on winning back-to-back World Championships. But if they can’t knock them down consistently over a long series, as Pop is banking on, then the Spurs win their fifth world title since 1999….
And so far, after three games, the Popovich strategy is working beautifully….
I was reading about the Spurs preparation today, when Pop and his staff had 10 days to prepare for the series. After watching hours of film and charting LeBron and the Heat, they figured out that LBJ is a very good shooter off the dribble and moving to his left; but not so good off the catch or off the jab step….
Evidently, King James shooting percentage falls off dramatically when he’s out of rythym; which is what happens when he shoots off the catch or holds the ball, jab steps and then shoots….
And so far, LeBron is shooting under 40% and only attempted six free throws….
In a humiliating 113-77 loss in Game 3, the Heat looked completely out-of-sync, couldn’t get to the rim and spent 48 minutes shooting long jump shots….
Because he’s a great coach, Pop is giving his team the best chance to win….
Which brings me back to my original question: Why doesn’t every coach in the NBA do the same thing to the Heat? How is it only Rick Carlisle and Gregg Popovich see what Dave Smith sees; that the Heat are very beatable when you cut off the lane and make them shoot jumpers?….
I said before the series there were two reasons the Spurs were going to win: 1) LeBron’s teammates aren’t good enough step up and beat San Antonio. 2) King James couldn’t beat you from the perimeter in 2011 and he still can’t.
Yes, Pop is the best coach in the NBA and yes, he’s done a brilliant job game planning for Miami….
But what he’s doing isn’t all that complicated, because to me it’s simple how to defend LeBron and the Heat; turn LeBron and his teammates into perimeter players and watch them fall apart….
We’ll see what happens Thursday….
It really is amazing to hear the lazy, uninformed opinions of the so-called “experts” discussing the NBA Finals; especially when discussing the 2-3-2 format….
Every time the format is mentioned, one of these idiots goes on and on about how the 2-3-2 works in favor of the lower seeded team, because if they split the first two games they get the next three at home; thus giving you a great chance to close out the series….
The only problem with this opinion is it’s nonsense; something easily determined with a little bit of research….
In fact, just the opposite is true; with the visiting teams winning more than 50% of the middle three games since the 2-3-2 went into effect in 1985….
And the reason the visiting teams win more than they lose in the middle three games can be easily explained….
1) The team playing the middle three on the road is higher seeded and almost always the better team; and when you get to the Finals home court doesn’t matter all that much.
2) When you’re in the same city for a week and don’t have to travel, your players are well rested, not jet lagged and their quality of play is elevated.
So it’s easy to see why the visiting teams win more than they lose in the middle games of the 2-3-2; unless of course you’re an “expert” who spews bulls*** without doing any homework….
As for Game 2, it went about as I expected; except I didn’t think the margin would be 20 points….
I picked the Spurs to win the series, but I certainly didn’t think it was going to be a sweep. And with Miami’s season on the line they had to prevail….
Even though they lost, Gregg Popovich is doing the right thing in challenging LeBron’s teammates to beat him; because allowing King James to control the ball and get to the rim means certain defeat….
And for the second straight game San Antonio kept LeBron under control, held him to less than 50% shooting and kept him off the free throw line….
Unfortunately for the Spurs, King James teammates stepped up and played pretty well, especially Chris Bosh, and when that happens the Heat are very tough to beat….
In my opinion, LeBron’s teammates can step up and win a game or two, but they can’t beat the Spurs four times….
Because if you allow LeBron to do whatever he wants you are 100% certain to lose; but if you collapse on him and force his teammates to make plays you give yourself an excellent chance to win….
You still might lose, but at least you have a fighting chance….
A big concern for the Spurs is both Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili looked their age and didn’t play well; and Tony Parker also had an off night. In fact, the Big Three shot a combined 10-33…….
A lot of that had to do with the Mimi defense, though, who played extremely well and forced San Antonio out of what they like to do….
Midway through the third quarter, the Spurs had a five point lead and looked to be in control; but the Heat’s defensive pressure wore them down and the rout was on….
One thing is for sure now; the Spurs have to win two out of three at home or they are done; and a good start would be taking control of the series by winning Game 3.
I know it’s only one game and the Heat could come back and win the series, but finally an NBA coach listened to me and used a collapsing, zone-style defense against LeBron James. And it’s no coincidence that coach is named Gregg Popovich….
Win or lose, Pop is not going to allow LeBron to do whatever he wants and dominate the game. Unlike dummies Frank Vogel and Scott Brooks, who sat there with their thumbs up their asses while King James destroyed them, Popovich is going to make LeBron’s teammates beat him….
It’s inexplicable to me how Rick Carlisle and Dallas could beat Miami in 2011 by playing zone, yet no other NBA coach seemed to notice….
Despite the Mavericks success, team after team plays LeBron man-to-man and he takes them apart….
So I’ve come to the conclusion that every coach in the NBA not named Gregg Popovich is a dumb s***…
And how is it that Dave Smith, admittedly a dumb ass, is smarter about game planning the Heat than guys getting paid millions of dollars?….
Over the past two years, I’ve been the lone voice begging NBA coaches to learn from the Dallas example and collapse around LeBron….
Not one ex-player, not one analyst, not one sports talk show host, not one person who makes a living covering the NBA had this figured out except yours truly….
I guess I’m not as dumb as I thought….
Less than a year after the Mavs beat Miami with a zone, Scott Brooks doesn’t study the game film and copy cat the game plan?….
Nope, Brooks sat there like a complete moron, never adjusted and watched for five games as LeBron posted up smaller defenders, got to the rim, lived at the free throw line and generally did whatever he wanted. No zone, no double teams, no collapsing help defenders….
Then, less than two years after the Dallas win, Pacers coach Frank Vogel had a golden opportunity to eliminate Miami and move on to the NBA finals….
With Roy Hibbert and David West down low, along with long armed, athletic wing players, a zone was the perfect defense for Indiana to win….
But, like fellow dumb s*** Brooks, Vogel stubbornly stayed in his beloved man-to-man with no help as King James torched him and won the series….
Even more incredibly, after he was asked if he’d considered a zone, Vogel said “We haven’t practiced it this season, but next year we might use it.”….
The stupidity of that statement speaks for itself….
I know this sounds like a dumb question, but wouldn’t you think every coach in the NBA would spend a few minutes a day working on a zone; just to be prepared for anything which could happen in a game?….
And if you’re looking at the possibility of facing LeBron in a series, wouldn’t you spend hours in practice putting together a zone package? Especially after Rick Carlisle shut them down with it?….
Wouldn’t you think these coaches making millions of dollars would do whatever it takes to win, instead of stubbornly sticking with the man-to-man and claiming a zone is a sign of weakness?….
The zone defense is legal in the NBA and every coach in the league should take advantage of it….
As I’ve said many times, an NBA coach would rather lose playing man-to-man than win playing zone….
Unbelievable they could be so pig headed….
Popovich is an All-Time great coach and I’m not surprised he came up with a great game plan with 10 days to prepare. But how smart do you have to be to collapse your defense and double team LeBron every time he gets into the paint?….
Sure, when you do this you’re going to give up some three-point shots to Chris Posh, Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller and Norris Cole, but I’ll sure as hell take my chances with them over LeBron dribbling 10 times and making plays….
Some nights those guys are going to get hot and beat you, but I don’t think the Heat are going to defeat San Antonio with jump shots over a seven game series….
And neither does Pop….
And as great as LeBron is, he couldn’t beat you from the perimeter in 2011 and he still can’t….
The King shot 7-16 in Game One, 1 of 5 from three-point range and only got to the free throw line four times….
Those numbers scream out one thing: LeBron didn’t get to the rim and either settled for jump shots or passed to his teammates….
And if this continues the Heat can’t win….
Another number which stands out is both LeBron and Posh took 16 shots. And when Posh is shooting as much as James, the Heat are playing right into Pop’s hands….
In my opinion, LeBron is selfish to a fault and needs to shoot more. When he gets to the free throw line and the double and triple teams are coming, what’s wrong with pulling up for a free throw line jump shot?….
Even if he misses, the Spurs aren’t going to be in good rebounding position with everyone focused on LBJ, which should open up a lot of offensive rebound possibilities….
But LeBron is selfless and when he sees the defense collapsing around him he makes the correct basketball play and passes to an open teammate….
It’s commendable he’s so unselfish, but his teammates aren’t good enough to make plays….
Especially with Dwyane Wade injured and Chris Posh (my new name for him) completely disappearing this post-season….
So my advice to LeBron is this; instead of passing to a teammate who will probably miss, shoot the 15′ jump shot yourself as the double team is coming toward you….
It will be very interesting to see how Erik Spoelstra adjusts to the Popovich game plan, because Erik made no adjustments and was thoroughly outcoached by Rick Carlisle in the 2011 Finals….
And Popovich vs. Spoelstra looks like a monumental mismatch to me….
Sure, Erik broke through and won the championship last year, but that was more a result of Scott Brooks’ stupidity than Spoelstra’s coaching….
These finals are going to be a real test of how far Spoelstra has come as a coach….
I made a lot of jokes about David Stern not allowing the Pacers to make the NBA Finals and still believe had Game 7 been close in the final minutes the referees would have found a way for the Heat to win. But on Monday night the zebras had nothing to do with the outcome, because it was an old fashioned beat down….
From start to finish Miami controlled the game and Stern got exactly what he wanted; a seven game series to make a fortune for the owners and LeBron in the finals to get big ratings….
Had the Pacers won the game, however, Stern, the owners and their sponsors were looking at losses in the tens of millions….
Nobody was going to watch a San Antonio-Indiana final and it would have been the lowest rated in league history….
As for Game 7, the Heat controlled it from the start; but Pacers coach Frank Vogel was an enormous help with his refusal to make adjustments….
Vogel has done a good job coaching the Pacers and an excellent regular season coach; but in the playoffs you have to coach on the fly and be willing to throw away the game plan at a moment’s notice….
And unfortunately Vogel’s biggest flaw is being stubborn and refusing to make in-game adjustments….
After Game One, when LeBron made a lay-up to steal the game, Vogel was asked why he didn’t go to a zone on the final possession; thus forcing the Heat to take a difficult shot as time expired….
Vogel’s answer was they hadn’t worked on it all season, but next year they would…
You’re telling me a head coach in the NBA hasn’t worked on something which could help him win? How hard would it be to spend a few minutes in practice each day working on a zone; just in case you’d need it in the post-season?….
And after watching how the Mavericks completely stymied LeBron with a zone in the 2011 finals, wouldn’t you think a coach of an Eastern Conference team would think about the possibility of facing Miami in the playoffs and be ready to do anything necessary to win?….
But Vogel is going to work on the zone NEXT year. Jesus, some of these coaches can be pretty stupid….
And if you’re not going to zone, wouldn’t you run double teams at LeBron as soon as he got the ball; forcing him to give it up and making one of his teammates beat you?….
Time after time after time, LeBron was allowed to dribble the ball 10 times, go to the basket and make a play. No double teams, no running a second defender at him, no zones….
Vogel is one stubborn SOB and his “We’re not going to change what’s been successful all season” attitude must change if he ever wants to win a championship….
He’s pig headed about his system and refuses to make in-game adjustments, which is okay in the regular season. But against LeBron James you have to sometimes admit your game plan isn’t working and try something else….
Until Vogel realizes this and sets his ego aside, however, these playoff losses will continue….
A zone is the key to success against the Heat, because their greatest strength is LeBron getting the ball, getting to the rim and playmaking. He also posts up smaller, weaker players and abuses them….
And when LeBron is allowed to run free, make plays, post up and get to the free throw line, you might as well warm up the bus and head home….
But as Rick Carlisle and the Mavs proved, when you build a wall of big guys around the basket and turn LeBron to a perimeter player, the Heat are very beatable….
A few months ago, Skip Bayless was spewing his usual nonsense on First Take and Mark Cuban happened to be watching. Skip was saying the only reason the Heat lost in 2011 was because LeBron did not play well and choked….
Cuban became furious listening to this bulls*** and arranged to be a guest on the show; where he gave Bayless, and to a lesser extend Stephen A. Smith, a monumental ass whipping….
When Bayless started in with his “LeBron choked” nonsense, Cuban jumped all over him, saying “I suppose our preparation and coaching had nothing to do with it. All the work we put in, all the hours of watching film, all the time charting LeBron was a waste of time.”….
Skip sat there like a deer in the headlights, much like the time he lied about being a starter on an excellent high school basketball team and called on it by Jalen Rose; who did his research and found out Skip was a bench warming scrub….
Cuban explained point-by-point how the coaching staff came up with their game plan; starting with charting every single shot King James took all season; so they knew exactly where he was the most uncomfortable….
Then, once they figured out where LeBron shot his lowest percentage and made the most turnovers; they designed a series of zones to force him into those spots and turn him into a jump shooter….
So instead of allowing King James to make plays, post up and set up his teammates, they packed in a zone and their defenders used angles to steer LeBron into his least favorite spots on the court….
The result? James was completely confused, couldn’t consistently make jump shots and the underdog Mavericks won the series….
It was one of the most brilliant strategies in NBA history, yet Skip Bayless continued to blame the loss on LeBron not playing well….
After about a half hour of Cuban completely exposing him, Mark asked Bayless again why he gave the Mavericks, their coaching staff and their players no credit for coming up with a zone package….
Completely befuddled and embarrassed, Skip sat there for a few seconds and then said “Oh, I’ve seen LeBron destroy zones.”….
This was a lie, of course, because nobody had zoned James and Skip simply had nothing to come back with….
And since Stephen A. was also on the “LeBron didn’t play well” bandwagon and never credited the Mavs using a zone,, Cuban also gave him a little bit of an ass kicking….
It was beautiful to see a guy like Cuban walk into the studio and embarrass them….
I gained a lot of respect for him that day, because I didn’t realize Mark knew so much about basketball; he sounded like a coach and you could tell he was actively involved in the Mavs preparation….
Now, to the Spurs-Heat match-up….
Before the season began, I predicted a Spurs-Heat Final with San Antonio winning in six games. And that’s exactly how I see this series going….
The Spurs have a significant advantage inside with Tim Duncan, a huge advantage at point guard with Tony Parker and a big advantage in coaching with Gregg Popovich over Erik Spoelstra….
Spoelstra was thoroughly outcoached by Carlisle in the 2011 Finals and in my opinion won the championship last season only because of the stupidity of Scott Brooks and his refusal to zone….
I’ll guarantee you this: Win or lose, Pop is not going to allow LeBron to do whatever he wants and make plays. Whenever he gets the ball and goes to the basket, he’s going to run into a second defender and then either Duncan, Tiago Splitter or another big guy if he gets to the rim….
Pop isn’t a zone guy, but with 10 days off I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Spurs use it in certain spots. It’s not about pride or being scared a zone is a sign of weakness, it’s about doing whatever it takes to win….
Popovich is the master of forcing the opposition into doing things they aren’t comfortable doing, so the Heat are going to have to make jump shots and LeBron’s teammates are going to have to make plays….
And with Dwyane Wade hurt and Chris Bosh playing like Christine Bosh, LeBron can’t beat the Spurs by himself….
I do believe, however, that Spoelstra has improved as a coach and the Heat are a very good defensive team. And if the Heat win the series, he’s arrived as an elite NBA coach….
But I think Tony Parker is going to destroy them in the pick-and-roll and Duncan is going to have his way inside….
The X factor, though, is going to be Manu Ginobili; one of the best finishers and playmakers in the NBA. He was getting healthier as the playoffs progressed and after 10 days off he’s going to be 100%….
So if the Heat think they can pinch Parker on the screen-and-roll and double team him, Ginobili should be free to make plays. He’s great at getting to the basket and also passing the ball to Duncan off the dribble….
Granted, the Heat are really good at defending the pick-and-roll, but now that Parker is a deadly shooter he’s impossible to stop….
Spurs in 6….
Before the season began, I predicted a Spurs-Heat Finals, with San Antonio winning and giving Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan their fifth World Championship since 1999. I still think the Spurs will defeat Miami, but both teams have a lot of work ahead….
In the West, the Grizzlies are big on the inside, quick on the wings, have an underrated and athletic point guard in Mike Conley and the confidence of having taken out San Antonio in the first round two years ago. But in the end it will be the Spurs advantage in experience and coaching which will get them through….
In the East, the Pacers are really up against it, for reasons on and off the court….
Without their best player, Danny Granger, it’s going to be very tough for Indiana. Sure they have a lot of size inside and Paul George is blossoming into a star, but it’s LeBron James they’re going up against….
So even if the series were on the level, I’d give Miami a slight edge; because of the great LeBron and the Pacers missing Granger….
But the biggest reason Indiana is going on vacation is the prospect of an all small market Finals of either the Grizzlies or Spurs against the Pacers….
Despite the fact San Antonio has always been a good offensive team, averaged over 100 points per game, extremely well coached and fun to watch, their Finals appearances have been among the lowest rated in NBA history….
Which means David Stern will never allow the Pacers to win their series….
With ratings guarantees to sponsors and a huge new television deal to be negotiated in the off season, a Pacers-Spurs/Grizzlies series would be financial Armageddon for Stern, the owners and ABC….
The Pacers making the Finals would literally cost the NBA tens of millions of dollars and it can’t happen….
This year’s playoff ratings have fallen off the cliff, down at least 25% cross the board; which means the NBA desperately needs Miami and LeBron in the Finals….
If the Pacers go up 2-0, or 3-1, maybe we’ll see Stern playing the Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart role; running around the court cheering for the Heat and screaming into his megaphone. And if we’re lucky, maybe Stern distracts the referees, runs onto the court and cracks one of the Pacers on the back of the head with said megaphone….
As I said earlier, without Granger I’d pick the Heat anyway; even if things were fair and square. But with the amount of money the NBA could lose, any chance the Pacers have is gone….
The Pacers players should make their Jamaican reservations now, because they’re going on vacation in about 10 days….
With rumors continuing about Albert Pujols being at least three years older than he claims, an interesting legal question arises….
If Pujols really is 36, instead of his stated 33, can the Angels void his contract and save themselves about $200 million over the next eight years?….
I said when the Angels signed Pujols it might go down as the worst contract in baseball history; because Albert has been in decline the past few years and in the steroid testing era you do not give 10-year deals to 32-year-olds….
But if Pujols was really at least 35, it makes the contract even worse; if that’s possible….
So can the Angels legally claim fraud and void the deal, or was it up to them to exercise due diligence and make sure everything was official?….
Maybe one of you lawyers out there can clear this up for me….
I keep hearing Magic Johnson is a great businessman, but you couldn’t tell by the way he’s run the Dodgers so far….
In the first major move since purchasing the team, Earvin got suckered by the Red Sox, who unloaded all of their bad contracts on him in a trade last season….
Now, with hundreds of millions owed to the former Red Sox players, the Dodgers have a firm grip on last place, while the financially unburdened Red Sox have been in first place most of the season and currently a game behind the Yankees….
So the Magic Man took on a few hundred million in salaries and sits in last place, while the team who pawned them off on him fights for first place….
Sounds like Magic got bamboozled….
Speaking of bad business decisions, how about the Angels spending $250 million on Pujols, who’s hitting .241, and $125 million on Josh Hamilton, who’s hitting .214?….
And the team who wisely allowed Hamilton to walk, the Rangers, are running away with the division and already 12 games ahead of the Angels….
And the Cardinals? They brilliantly allowed Pujols to leave via free agency, found a pigeon to give him $250 million and are in first place in their division….
Remind me to call the Angels or Dodgers the next time I want to unload a bad investment….
There is no denying Floyd Mayweather has great skills, reflexes, hand speed and arguably the best fighter of his era; but he’s also managed to avoid tough fights, doesn’t take unnecessary risks and been allowed to get away with it….
Years ago he signed a huge money deal with HBO, who foolishly gave him control of whom he was going to fight and when. And like any good businessman, Mayweather took very little risk for the most reward….
HBO took a bath on the deal, couldn’t wait for it to end and hopefully learned their lesson….
Now Showtime has given Floyd a colossal deal for six fights and already produced a dud; Money’s easy win over outclassed Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero….
Now, with a September date up next and the boxing world clamoring for Floyd to fight dangerous and strong Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Team Mayweather seems to be looking for an easier opponent to make their next $30 million….
The word is Mayweather wants Alvarez to come all the way down to the Welterweight limit of 147 lbs, which means Floyd doesn’t want the fight….
And Showtime is going to be stuck with another one-sided, glorified workout for Money come September….
Is Floyd a good businessman? Yes. Is he a great fighter? Yes. Should he be listed among the All-Time greats? Absolutely not, because of his hand picking inferior opponents and avoiding the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Canelo….
It’s too bad, because I think Floyd would have outboxed Pacman and would do the same to Alvarez, even at a weight higher than 147….
But Floyd referring to himself as the greatest fighter of all time is absurd; because he hasn’t faced the level of competition other great fighters have….
The 1980′s were a Golden Era, with Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran, Wilfred Benitez, Pipino Cuevas, Aaron Pryor, Alexis Arguello, Pernell Whitaker, Donald Curry and Marvin Hagler hovering around Mayweather’s weight class….
Of this group. I think Mayweather would have knocked out Cuevas and Arguello; who were both easy to hit not nearly as gifted as Floyd….
Against the rest, now it gets tough for Money….
There is no doubt in my mind the 6’2″ Hearns would have knocked out the 5’7″ Floyd. Tommy is the hardest punching fighter I’ve ever seen and he would have caught Floyd early with his patented right cross and gotten him out of there. Mayweather is simply too small….
Leonard was an All-Time great, a better fighter than Hearns and also would have stopped Floyd. It wouldn’t be as devastating and sudden as what Tommy would do to Mayweather, but Sugar Ray was way too much and would give him a beatdown before stopping him late….
As for Duran, he always had trouble with slick boxers such as Floyd and this would have been a difficult fight for him. But Floyd also doesn’t deal well with pressure, evidenced by him losing his 2003 fight against Jose Luis Castillo. JLC outworked Floyd over 12 rounds and won 116-112 on my card….
Mayweather has never been in a war and Duran’s relentless pressure and power would have put Floyd in a place he’s never been before; fighting for his life. Roberto Duran by unanimous decision….
As for Benitez, he was as crafty and skilled a boxer as you’ll ever see; but didn’t punch enough and had a tendency to get outworked. Mayweather by a close decision over him. But this one could go either way, because Wilfred was really, really good….
The Hagler fight probably wouldn’t have happened, because Marvelous Marvin was a Middleweight and one of the greatest fighters of all time. Obviously, this would be an easy win for Hagler….
Aaron Pryor was a favorite of mine, because every second of every round he threw punches and pressured his opponent. His knockout win over Arguello in 1982 is one of the greatest fights of all time and he was truly great before drug use ruined his career….
In my opinion, Pryor would have been all over Floyd from the opening bell and not allowed him to pick his shots and pace himself. Aaron delivers a beating and wins by unanimous decision….
Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker was the slickest boxer I’ve ever seen, but this would have been a boring fight; because both Whitaker and Mayweather were safety first, defensive fighters who depended on their enormous reflexes and boxing skill to make fights look easy….
This is a tough call, but I’m going with Sweet Pea by decision. As good a boxer as Floyd is, there was never anyone as slick and as hard to hit as Pernell….
A lot of people don’t remember Donald “The Cobra” Curry, but in the early and mid-80′s he was the undisputed Welterweight Champion, undefeated and considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world….
After cleaning out the Welterweight division, he was set to move up to Middleweight and challenge Hagler; and a lot of experts believed Curry could win….
That’s how good he was in his prime….
But before he got the Hagler fight, Curry went to Sugar Ray Leonard for career advice and Leonard convinced him to stay at Welterweight for another fight or two….
What Donald didn’t know was the Ray was planning a comeback and took the Hagler fight for himself; costing Curry millions….
On April 6, 1987, the day if the Hagler-Leonard fight, Curry sued Sugar Ray for $1 million; claiming Leonard defrauded him by talking him out of the Hagler fight and stealing it for himself….
In the meantime, Donald was having huge managerial, personal and health problems, lost his title to Lloyd Honeyghan and sadly never did make the huge money everyone thought he would….
But in his prime he was a truly great fighter and I like him by unanimous decision over Floyd. Too big, too strong and Curry wins handily….
So there you have my predictions: Floyd Mayweather beats Pipino Cuevas, Alexis Arguello and Wilfred Benitez; but loses to Tommy Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler, Aaron Pryor, Pernell Whitaker and Donald Curry….
So let me know what you think, @davesportsgod on twitter….
After Game 1 of the Warriors-Spurs series, when Golden State blew a 16-point lead with four minutes left and lost in double overtime, I predicted the Warriors had their hearts ripped out and would proceed to get swept….
I agreed with Charles Barkley, who stated losing such gut wrenching game was equal to two losses and Golden State was done….
But instead of folding, the Warriors showed tremendous resiliency and made me look like a dumb ass; winning Game 2 and going back to the Bay Area with a good chance to win the series….
One thing I overlooked in the Game 1 collapse was the absence of Klay Thompson, who fouled out before the Spurs went on their late run. He’s developed into an All-Star caliber player and his tremendous performance in Game 2 showed how valuable he is to this team….
Coming out of high school, Klay was overlooked and not recruited by either USC and UCLA; despite his father Mychal imploring the Trojans and Bruins to take him….
The knock on Klay was he was a step slow and not athletic enough, which was and still is ridiculous….
So he went to Washington St. and became an All-American an NBA lottery pick; while USC and UCLA looked like complete morons by not recruiting a star player in their own back yard….
During the Warriors 1st round series against the Nuggets, head coach Mark Jackson said that Stephen Curry and Klay were “the best shooting backcourt in the history of the NBA.”….
At first, I disagreed and thought Curry and Thompson hadn’t been around long enough to be declared the best ever; especially when I grew up watching Gail Goodrich and Jerry West….
But having watched them play consistently, I now agree with Jackson; they are the best shooting backcourt I’ve ever seen….
No disrespect to CP3, Tony Parker, Rajon Rondo, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Deron Williams or any of the elite point guards; but Curry is my choice as the best in the NBA….
Not only is Steph maybe the best shooter I’ve ever seen, he’s also developed tremendous point guard skills, has excellent handles and doesn’t turn the ball over….
Every time I see Curry knock down another three point shot, my first instinct is to double team him and force him to give up the ball. But with Steph surrounded by teammates who can make plays and finish, it’s actually worse to double him….
He sees the floor beautifully, is unselfish and absolutely picks you apart for dunks and lay-ups if you leave his teammates open….
I agree with Sir Charles, who said after Game 1 that it’s better to live with Curry scoring 44 points than trying to double him, thus leaving the floor spread and his teammates unguarded….
Steph is an absolutely amazing talent and rapidly becoming my favorite player in the NBA….
And Coach Jackson is brilliant to spread the floor, go small and bring out the best in him….
If the Warriors manage to get past the Spurs, they play in the Western Conference Finals against either the Thunder, playing without Russell Westbrook, or the Grizzlies; who have never been on this big a stage before….
It sounds ridiculous, but Golden State could very well be in the NBA Finals if they find a way to beat San Antonio….
Even though I don’t think it’s going to happen this September, and maybe never the way Floyd Mayweather tends to negotiate, it was interesting to read that talks have begun for a Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez fight….
A factor working in favor of the fight being made is Golden Boy promotes Alvarez and works closely with Floyd’s promotional company….
Factors working against the match-up are that Alvarez is the 154 lb. champion and Floyd will almost certainly demand a catch weight of 150 lbs….
Mayweather has never fought over 151, cherishes his undefeated record and will not fight Canelo at 154. He’s going to want every advantage possible….
Alvarez is a big, strong kid who is growing and probably won’t stay at 154 for long. He’s also stated publicly he has no interest in a catch weight and Mayweather can come to 154 lbs. if he wants a fight….
Logically, with a $30-40 million payday awaiting both of them, Floyd and Canelo will come to their senses and work something out….
Of course, I said the same thing about Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, and they were looking at $60 million each for possibly the biggest fight in boxing history….
And despite the massive paydays and public demand, that fight never happened….
But that was with mortal enemies Oscar De La Hoya and Bob Arum trying to come together on a deal, not an easy task….
Hopefully, with Mayweather and Canelo working with the same people, we can do this….
If they fight at 150, 154, 160 or 200 lbs, Floyd is going to school the kid and win a decision….
True, Alvarez is no Robert Guerrero and it’s a tougher fight for Maayweather; but superior speed, experience, reflexes and boxing skill will lead to a Money victory….
It will be more difficult for Floyd at 154, but he wins either way….
I kept reading before the Ghost fight that Floyd was 36 and any day now age was going to catch up with him….
Tell that to Bernard Hopkins, who remains a World Champion at the age of 48….
Floyd and Bernard are similar in a lot of ways….
Both of them stay in supreme condition and never go to camp out of shape and needing to lose a bunch of weight. They stay at their fighting weight year round, thus greatly increasing their longevity….
Nothing ages a fighter more than partying and gaining a bunch of weight between fights; just ask De La Hoya, Fernando Vargas and Ricky Hatton. Ballooning up and down in weight is hard on the body and shortens careers….
Like Hopkins, Mayweather fights once or twice a year; another reason to believe he can continue to be elite for several more years….
And while Floyd has tremendous speed and reflexes, he’s also a brilliant defensive fighter and once his speed starts to decline, he has the technical skills to continue to dominate the sport….
The biggest reason Hopkins is still a World Champion at 48 is because none of his opponents have been taught how to fight. They might have good skill and quick hands, but Bernard is so technically sound and so tricky that he continues to win….
Fortunately for guys like Floyd and Bernard, none of their opponents know how to fight; giving them a huge advantage….
Another guy who could have been winning World Championships until he was 50 is James Toney; who has no equal when it comes to technical skill, craftiness and controlling the action in the ring. Unfortunately he also has no control when it comes to eating and his lack of conditioning has hurt him….
But even when James is 50 lbs. overweight, he can go 12 rounds without breathing hard; because he knows how to fight, knows how to pace himself and is a master at boxing technique….
I have no doubt that if Toney had stayed in shape year round and had Mayweather and Hopkins’ discipline outside the ring, he’d still be a World Champion….
Going into Saturday night’s fight, I thought Floyd Mayweather would give Robert Guerrero a boxing lesson and win an easy unanimous decision….
The Ghost is a tough kid, but he’s slow, stands right in front of you and easy to hit; three things you do not want to be when you’re facing a fighter the caliber of Mayweather….
So there was no reason to watch since the result was a foregone conclusion….
Now the question is what’s next for Money….
The obvious choice is Canelo Alvarez; who is young, strong, powerful and fun to watch. He’s also extremely popular in Mexico, which means good PPV sales. Combine this with fighting Mayweather and you have a box office jackpot….
This one should be held at Cowboys Stadium, because if the promoters don’t greedy and overprice the tickets, it will sell out the 100,000 seat stadium….
As for the fight, if Canelo makes Floyd come up to 154 it works to his advantage; but he still won’t win. Alvarez
is obviously better than Guerrero, but he doesn’t have the speed, reflexes or boxing skill to deal with Floyd….
Speed kills and a unanimous decision for Money Mayweather….
If Sergio makes Floyd come all the way up to 160, which Mayweather will not do, Martinez will lose a unanimous decision but win a few rounds. But if it’s a catch weight under 160, Martinez won’t win a round….
Too slow, too predictable and easy pickings for Floyd….
Juan Manuel Marquez:
A few years ago JMM was a small guy who looked tiny next to Mayweather and lost a lopsided decision. It was a mismatch and a fight nobody wanted to see again….
But that was before the remarkable transformation of JMM’s body….
In his recent fight against Manny Pacquiao, Marquez looked like an Adonis, almost unrecognizable from the JMM of just a year before. And at 39, JMM suddenly developed knockout power and starched Pacman with a Tommy Hearns-like right cross….
When I saw Marquez at the weigh-in and in the ring for the fight, I thought was he was using PED’s, because it’s almost impossible to transform your body and power so dramatically at 39 years of age….
But in JMM’s defense, he passed his post-fight drug test and has denied using any kind of steroids….
And obviously, I’m not a part of Team Marquez and can’t prove anything. Again, must one man’s opinion….
As for the fight, it’s going to be difficult to make because Mayweather will demand around the clock, 24/7 drug testing, because they suspect he’s not clean; just as they thought with Pacquiao….
But if Marquez agrees to the terms, passes the tests and comes into the ring looking the same way he did against Pacman, it’s going to be a much mire competitive fight and he’ll push Floyd….
JMM still won’t win, but he’ll hit Money, make him work and lose a much closer unanimous decision….
Despite the new size and strength, JMM still can’t match Mayweather’s speed and boxing skill….
The 168 lb. champion is the wild card in this whole scenario, because he’s much bigger and stronger than Floyd….
But since Ward has great difficulty making 168 and already announced plans to move to light heavyweight, this fight is unlikely to happen….
But since nobody outside of boxing has ever heard of Andre Ward and he can’t make any real money at 175, Ward would be wise to try and get down to 160 for a Mayweather fight….
If Andre can make 168, he could get a team of nutritionists and fitness experts to take off another eight lbs….
And it would be worth it, because Andre would make more money in one night against Floyd than he would make in the rest of his career combined….
But even if Ward agrees to diet down to 160, will Floyd risk losing his undefeated record by coming up all the way from 147?….
And if Ward somehow does get down to 160 , you know he’ll come into the ring at 180 the next night; strong and ready to do some damage….
Andre is a hell of a fighter and in my opinion, this is the fight Mayweather would lose. Ward by unanimous decision….
By the way, there was a Heavyweight Championship fight over the weekend and nobody cared….
Hell, I’m a boxing fan and didn’t know Wladimir Klitschko was defending his title….
Remember the old days, when the world would stop for a heavyweight championship fight? It was always the biggest sports story of the day, no matter who Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson or Evander Holyfield were fighting….
But in 2013? If a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear it?….
If anyone cares, I hear Klitschko knocked out the bum in six rounds….
The only way to generate interest in the heavyweight division is forcing the Klitschko brothers to fight each other….
They are obviously the two best heavyweights in the world and should be forced to either fight or be stripped of their belts and their boxing licenses….
In what other sport could siblings refuse to face each other?….
Could the Williams sisters refuse to play in a Wimbledon or U.S. Open Final?….
What if brothers refused to take the basketball court because they didn’t want to comptete?….
Can you imagine Tiki Barber breaking through the line of scrimmage and his twin brother Ronde refusing to tackle him?….
In all of the above scenarios, they would be suspended and face heavy fines….
But for some reason, the Klitschkos are allowed to hurt the sport by refusing to settle the heavyweight championship….
And it would be a great fight, because nobody knows who would win….
Wladimir is younger, hits harder and a more skilled fighter; but Vitali is bigger, tougher, has a better chin and excellent defensively….
I think Vitali would win based on his defense and better chin, but Wladimir could easily knock him out if he catches him….
It would be a great night for boxing and save the heavyweight division, but unfortunately it will never happen….
We have two heavyweights dominating their sport, but we’ll never see who is the better man and the real champion….
With the Thunder missing Russell Westbrook and the Spurs still dealing with injuries to Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, the Clippers have been presented with the greatest opportunity in the history of their sorry franchise; a chance to make it to the NBA Finals….
Knowing this, you’d think they’d go out and take care of business in Game 5 against the Grizzlies and take a commanding 3-2 series lead….
But the Clippers being who they are, we should have expected what happened; a home court loss and a injury to Blake Griffin….
Now the Clips must travel to Memphis, where they got hammered in Games 3 and 4, without Griffin and with Chris Paul nursing an injured left thumb….
They also have another seemingly insurmountable obstacle; Vinny Del Negro’s coaching….
I’m not sure how Blake injured his ankle during a practice before Game 5, only that he came down on Lamar Odom’s foot and turned his ankle….
There have been some reports, unsubstantiated, that Del Negro was conducting a full contact practice; and if this is true Vinny should not only be fired, but get s***-canned immediately and not allowed to coach Game 6….
Again, we don’t know what happened and it easily could have been a freak accident; but if the Clippers were practicing full speed it’s one of the biggest coaching blunders in NBA history….
A week ago, with the Clippers up 2-0 and rolling, the talk was Del Negro returning and CP3 signing a multi-year extension. Now, with the wheels coming off, Del Negro is certain to be fired and Paul might leave via free agency….
If the Clippers lose Game 6, exit in Round 1 and VDN is jettisoned, here’s what they should do….
I would contact Phil Jackson the day after Game 6 and offer him the same kind of deal Pat Riley received in Miami: 10% ownership and a $10-15M a year job as the head coach and President of Basketball Operations….
This would put enormous pressure on the hated Lakers, who are thinking of bringing back Phil as their coach….
The last thing the Lakers would want is Jackson creating enormous buzz for the Clippers, making them the talk of the sports world and possibly taking over the town….
I like the Clippers roster and think they have the most talent in the NBA 1-10. Their problem is coaching and I could see the Zenmaster winning an NBA championship with this group….
If I’m Donald T. Sterling, I’m not waiting to see if the Lakers make an offer to Phil. I hand over the Riley-style offer and make the Lakers respond….
Phil could then walk into Jim Buss’ office, put the contract on the table and say “Okay, now what are you going to do?”….
I know most of you reading this are saying “But he’s getting married to Jeanie; who is now an owner of the team along and would never allow it”….
But if the decision is made by Mitch and Jim to bring back Mike D’Antoni as coach, there’s not much else out there for Phil; who has recharged his batteries and wants to coach again….
Jeanie has stated publicly that she wants Phil to coach again and was all for him taking the Knicks job if it were offered….
So if there isn’t a job with the Lakers, wouldn’t this be a good situation? Big Chief Triangle stays in Los Angeles, he and Jeanie remain in their beautiful beach house and the greatest rivalry in the NBA is born….
Can you imagine the electricity inside Staples Center as Phil walks onto the floor and takes a seat on the Clippers bench? I can’t imagine the excitement and drama….
The Clippers would be the talk of the sporting world and for the first time take the play away from the Lakers in Los Angeles….
Sadly, this makes too much sense and The Donald is too cheap and too short sided to make it happen. He’s more likely to bring back Del Negro on the cheap….
Reportedly, Phil is being offered a Riley-style deal in Toronto, but there’s no way in hell he’s moving to Canada to oversee a horses*** team with no chance to draw top notch free agents….
There was also talk of Jackson running the new Seattle SuperSonics, but it looks like the Kings are staying in Sacramento….
So put yourself in Sterling’s shoes: The greatest coach in the history of the NBA, with 11 championship rings, is rested, healthy, has recharged his batteries, wants to coach again and lives in Los Angeles….
What more incentive does The Donald need to go after the Zenmaster? How smart do you have to be to offer Phil anything he wants to take your Clippers to respectability and possibly a World Championship….
June 20, 2011 By Leave a Comment
Monday morning sports radio and television was agog with Rory-Mania, all hailing the smiling Irish phenom who just swamped the field in the U/S. Open, winning by 8 strokes with a record score of 16 under par. “All hail the new king, the old king is dead” seemed to be the prevailing attitude, as golf, [...]
April 28, 2011 By Leave a Comment
The best, sure-fire, fail-safe method of assuring that you hit the bullseye every time you fire a rifle is to shoot at a blank wall, THEN draw the target around the bullet-hole. I think about that every time I read or hear the after-the-fact excuses that people are still making for LeBron James every time [...]
July 4, 2011 By Leave a Comment
By Seth Rubinroit (Reporting from Newark, New Jersey) Growing up in Los Angeles, Darius Morris rooted for the Los Angeles Lakers dynasty featuring Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, and then saw the Lakers win two more NBA Championships with Bryant and Pau Gasol. “I witnessed [the Lakers] do some great things,” Morris said. When the [...]