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Cavaliers Fans Turned Game 4 in Detroit Into a Home Game

The Cavs spanked the Pistons on Sunday 99-78 completing the first-round series sweep. The butt-whooping was a fitting ending to Detroit’s season, one that got turned upside down by the blockbuster Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson trade in November. Joe Dumars said he was sick of losing in the conference finals and wanted to get over the top. He broke the team down and the fans had to suffer through a crap year where they gave up towards the end just like the players. Despite the Billups trade, I’m guessing nobody envisioned such an embarrassing ending to the season — a first-round sweep at the hands of the Cavs. To add insult to injury, Cavs fans flocked to The Palace of Auburn Hills and took over the arena:

Word evidently got back to Ohio that tickets had been advertised as low as $12, and the Cavs fans arrived in droves.

”It was tremendous,” Williams said of the fan support. ”It was a little bit amazing, to be honest. Coming out to warm up, you hear all those Cavs fans. It was kind of jokingly going around the locker room, ‘Hey man, we’re at the Q.’

There were MVP chants for James and chants of ”Let’s go Cavs” during timeouts. There were loud ovations for the Cavs’ blocked shots and as many signs for the Cavs as there were for the Pistons. When the game ended, Detroit’s fans had left and about half the house stayed to cheer and roar and chant and do everything a crowd at Quicken Loans Arena would do.

I keep saying it: the ball’s in Dumars’ court now. He needs to deliver a big free agent (and a new coach if I might add). I keep hearing Carlos Boozer and I believe that would be a good fit. Problem is Boozer’s attitude — never know when he’s going to take an extra week or month off to nurse/heal an injury. As for the Cavs fans, good for them. They’ve had to wait a long time to be proud of their team. Hopefully they’ll have a championship to celebrate this year.

High School Junior Jeremy Tyler Leaving School Early to Play Pro Ball in Europe

I was so shocked to read this story that I didn’t even know what to make of it. Jeremy Tyler is a high school junior in San Diego and he’s apparently decided that basketball is his future and it’s time to pursue that career. Tyler truly has his mind set on improving his game:

“Nowadays people look to college for more off-the-court stuff versus being in the gym and getting better,” Tyler said. “If you’re really focused on getting better, you go play pro somewhere. Pro guys will get you way better than playing against college guys.”

“It was boring and I wasn’t getting better,” Tyler said. “Each game was the same thing. I was getting triple-teamed and getting hacked. After each game I’d have scratches and bruises up and down my arms from getting triple-teamed. It just wasn’t for me.”

Now hang on a second, if the physical nature of the high school game wasn’t for him, how will pro ball be better? Because they’ll be cleaner? I respect his attitude that he doesn’t want to screw around in college and instead just play ball, but I still feel this is a terrible precedent to set. Even Brandon Jennings admitted it wasn’t all peaches the way he thought it would be. The younger you are the harder it is to deal with adult matters. This is a horrible trend for kids. A 17-year old going across seas to play pro ball? This is not good.

Is Anyone in a Worse Situation Than Tracy McGrady?

The Rockets may have lost Game 2 of their first round series with the Blazers on Tuesday night, but they’re still tied 1-1 in the best of seven and best of all, heading home for two straight games. Given the way they played in Game 1 and that it took 42 from Brandon Roy for Portland to win on Tuesday, it’s quite conceivable that the Rockets win the series and get to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since ’96-’97. In four of the past five seasons, Houston’s been eliminated in the first round despite having three 50-win seasons. The wise fan will point out that the team was talented but had the misfortune of playing other very good teams in the Western Conference. Sure, they did lose to the Lakers one year (the year the Lakers lost to the Pistons in the finals), but Houston certainly could have beaten the Jazz either of the years they lost to them in the first round.

Between his years with the Rockets and his days with the Magic and Raptors before that, it’s no secret that Tracy McGrady’s never advanced past the first round of the playoffs in his career. Seven playoff berths, seven first round exits. As I outlined above, the Rockets have an excellent chance to advance to the second round, but this time, it’s sans T-Mac. McGrady’s knee injury has him on the sidelines and has the team actually playing better without him. T-Mac realizes what this all means and he’s anxious to be back out there:

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Rihanna’s Looking for a Baller … Is it Andrew Bynum or Baron Davis?

Given all the off-court issues Andrew Bynum’s had lately, I’m not so sure that dating a celeb is something he should be doing right now. Much less a celeb who’s involved in a shaky breakup from Chris Brown amidst a potential physical assault incident. Regardless, multiple reports say the Lakers’ center was seen getting cozy with singer Rihanna last week. Bynum’s playing it the right way, not divulging any information to the paparazzi. But if Bynum really is getting it on with Rihanna, looks like he might have some competition.

Here’s lesson one in how to twist a story: Rihanna celebrating Baron’s birthday now means the two might have a relationship. According to the NY Daily News, “Rihanna is back in action! The sexy songbird was decked out in ’80s club gear at L.A. hot spot myhouse, where she helped L.A. Clippers star Baron Davis’ celebrate his 30th birthday — and danced, sipped Grey Goose and flirted with Davis and his teammates all night.” So that does say the two were flirting, right? I wonder what Teri Hatcher has to say about that. To use Ben Maller’s line, the good part about Baron for Rihanna is that the Clippers don’t beat anyone. Zing!

Athlete/Celebrity Couples

Stan Van Gundy Backs Dwight Howard After SI Article, Magic Then Blow Lead

Between his spats with Shaq and his don’t take crap from anyone attitude, I’m starting to like Stan Van Gundy. Now if we were to take Sunday’s game against the Sixers where Orlando blew an 18-point lead in the third quarter losing 100-98, then we’d say the guy can’t coach a lick. But his team was quite successful during the regular season, thanks in large part to Dwight Howard who was featured on the most recent cover of SI. I read the article and couldn’t figure out why the writer chose to argue that Dwight’s playful attitude would limit the team’s success on the court. Neither could Van Gundy:

“Some of the things were ridiculous: How serious [Dwight Howard] is in a Sports Illustrated photo-shoot has an extremely minimal affect on our basketball team. Let’s say none. How could that possibly affect our team or Dwight’s chances (to win a title)? What’s important is how he’s playing, how he prepares for practice, how focused he is in games and how well he plays in games…. that’s all that matters. The fact he’s goofing around in a photo-shoot? I looked at that and said what the hell does that have to do with anything?

I’m sure glad Van Gundy hit on darn near everything I was going to because it makes my job a lot easier. You read articles like that where the writer uses horrible deductive reasoning and it’s no wonder athletes dislike the media. You think you’re going to be on the cover of SI and then you find out the featured article is just ripping you because you smile too much and you’re too playful? There are other excellent quotes from Van Gundy that I’ll share but I want to first touch on another part of the article. The article says scouts prefer Yao Ming to Howard since you can run an offense through Yao because he’s such a good passer. That was about the damn dumbest thing I’ve read. I’d like to meet the person who prefers Yao to Dwight Howard. Idiots. More goodness from Van Gundy follows:

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Who’s Dressing Melo These Days?

Usually I don’t like to comment on the personal appearance of an athlete, but for premeditated clothing choices, I feel I can make an exception. I know Carmelo Anthony has cultivated a new look this year cutting off his braids, but seriously, who’s the brains behind the joker outfit on Sunday night? Apologies to any LBS readers that sport purple dress shirts and purple ties under vests, but Melo’s gotta do better than that. He’s even worse than Joakim Noah in the Problem Child bow tie outfit. I sure hope it’s not Lala dressing him.

Shaq Gets Pranked, Seeks Revenge by Cutting Louis Amundson’s Hair

To quoteth the greateth Shaquille O’Nealeth, “Two things you don’t touch for a black man: His food, and his car.” The Suns ponytailed chick off the bench apparently violated the first commandment with a prank on Shaq’s car, filling it up with Styrofoam. Kings rookie Jason Thompson says packing peanuts is much more pleasant than buttery popcorn, so Shaq shouldn’t complain. But Shaq being Shaq you know he has to get the last word. He says he’s planning Sampson-like revenge on Louis Amundson. The video is pretty uneventful but it gives you an idea of the result of the prank.

I guess when you’ve been knocked out of the playoffs for a solid week you have to come up with different ways to keep things interesting. This would be one of them.