Doc Rivers Knocked Shaq Down a Few Pegs Before He Signed

Shaquille O’Neal may have an ego that’s as big as his 325-pound frame and he may think more highly of his career than Jim Rome does, but he obviously appreciates a coach who is willing to be a straight shooter.  According to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, Shaq was given an opporunity to meet such a coach when he sat down for a meeting with Boston Celtics Coach Doc Rivers prior to signing his deal.  Instead of tooting his horn or buttering his biscuit or whichever cliche you’d like to use to describe a coach stroking a free agent’s ego, Doc took a no-b.s. approach with the 18-year veteran when Shaq visited his home last month:

He told O’Neal he may not start. He told O’Neal his skills had declined, so touches won’t be a priority. He told O’Neal he was a liability on pick-and-roll defense. O’Neal sat there with a blank expression, and Rivers thought there was no chance of a deal getting done. There was no way O’Neal would accept that type of criticism and accept a minimum salary as well.”

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LeBron Hires a Rabbi

Was it strange that LeBron James announced he was leaving Cleveland on a one-hour special on ESPN?  A little bit.  Was it a little over the top that South Beach hosted a “Three Kings” party after the signings of LeBron and Chris Bosh like they had already won something?  Yeah, I’d say so.  But nothing can possibly top King James spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire a Rabbi, Rabbi Pinto, as a business consultant.  Here’s TMZ‘s report, courtesy of Ball Don’t Lie:

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Why NBA Is Allowing Isiah Thomas to Consult for Knicks

One of the most bizarre stories in sports the past few days has been the news that the Knicks are hiring Isiah Thomas as a consultant for the organization. This is mind-boggling on several levels. First, Thomas serves as the coach at Florida International University which seems like an inherent conflict of interest because the NBA forbids its employees to have contact with college basketball players. Second, Isiah’s time in New York was miserable and the losing was like he was on “death row.” Lastly, Isiah running the Knicks was like a “three-ring circus” and he cost the organization $11.6 million in a sexual harassment suit.

It’s hard to determine what’s worse: that the Knicks would actually want Isiah back despite him running the franchise into the ground, or that the NBA would allow such an apparent conflict of interest. While there’s no real answer for the former (except that Isiah must have been James Dolan’s favorite player), we do have an answer for the second item. None of the other owners are opposed to Isiah consulting for the Knicks. In fact, they’re all supportive of the move. Their mentality is that whatever team with which Thomas is associated will never be a contender. It’s simple logic, but just compare two scenarios: what would the NBA do if John Calipari said he was going to consult for the Chicago Bulls? And what are they doing with Isiah? The obvious answer is no harm no foul. That’s why Isiah’s case is different.

Jeff Van Gundy: Miami Heat Will be Best Team Ever

Ever since getting LeBron, Wade, and Bosh to join forces, the Heat put themselves in position to be as hated as the Yankees. Because of all the hate, many people have refused to give Miami the credit it deserves when it comes to the type of talent they have on their team. Jeff Van Gundy is not one of those people. The former Knicks and Rockets coach and current ABC analyst and Jennifer Garner’s daughter lover told The Miami Herald that he expects the Heat not to have just a good season, but a historically good season:

They will break the single-season win record [of 72],” Jeff Van Gundy said. “And I think they have a legit shot at the Lakers’ 33-game [winning] streak [in 1971-72], as well. And only the Lakers have even a remote shot at beating them in a playoff series. They will never lose two games in a row this year.

“They have put together a much better roster than anybody could ever have expected,” Van Gundy added. “There is now no good way to defend them. They are unguardable. They are indefensible. They are just too good and have added so much shooting and are so versatile that they will score at will.

Van Gundy also praised Erik Spoelstra, saying that the coach will have them focusing defensively as well. Look, I’ve been about as big of a Miami supporter as there is, but I think Van Gundy is getting carried away there. Is Miami incredibly talented? Yes. Have they stocked their roster beyond just the Bermuda Triangle? Definitely. But to say they won’t win back-to-back games or that they’ll win more than 72 games is just setting the bar entirely too high. With injuries alone they might not reach that mark. I do think the Heat can win a title in their first year, but it’s not a lock. Maybe Jeff is trying to psyche Miami out to give his brother’s team a better chance in the East.

ABC’s Jeff Van Gundy: Miami Heat will break Chicago Bulls’ win record [Miami Herald]

Anthony Tolliver Spoofs ‘The Decision’

Having played 59 career games in the D League, Anthony Tolliver is used to being ignored. Luckily the Golden State Warriors were so starved for players last year that they signed Tolliver to two 10-day contracts and then handed him a contract for the rest of the year. Tolliver played 44 games last season and averaged 12.3 points per game with the Warriors. Because of the relative success he had last season, he actually had a few options for the upcoming season and used the opportunity to poke fun. Tolliver spoofed LeBron James’ Decision on ESPN with this short home video. It’s not nearly as well done as the Paul Rudd/Steve Carell spoof from the ESPY’s, but it’s still pretty funny. Here’s the Anthony Tolliver Decision video:

This sort of nonsense is exactly what LeBron invited with the awful decision to host his one-hour special on ESPN. That one hour show took LeBron from likable character to despised Brett Favre and A-Rod territory. This is what he gets for stealing the sports spotlight. Oh yeah, good luck to Tolliver in Minnesota.

Video Credit: YouTube user MrAnthonyTolliver44

NBA Makes Right Call for 2010-2011 Season Opener

The NBA season lasts 82 games.  That’s a lot of games.  When a season lasts that long, it’s not unreasonable to say that the first game of the season is … well … worthless.  Somehow I don’t think that’s going to be the case for the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics come October 26, 2010.  The NBA announced on Tuesday that the Heat will visit the Garden for the opening game of the 2010-2011 NBA season, which will be aired on TNT.

This is a great move for the NBA.  Say what you will about the aging Celtics, but a 2010 Eastern Conference title says they’re the team to beat in the East until further notice.  The Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen have won an NBA championship and appeared in two NBA Finals in the last three years.  They’re tried.  They’re tested.  They define the term “savvy veteran” in every sense of the term.

On paper, the Miami Heat are the best team in the NBA — by far.  You could take Chris Bosh out of their lineup and they’d still compete for that title.  What makes this match-up so intriguing is that when the new Heat arrive in Boston on October 26, they’ll yet to have played a single game together.  They haven’t done much of anything together aside from dancing on stage in South Beach.  If Kendrick Perkins returns from the knee injury he suffered in the NBA Finals last season, the Celtics will be returning all five starters for the third straight season.

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LeBron is Right Not to Thank Cleveland

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with the way LeBron James has gone about his business over the past month or so.  The whole ESPN “The Decision” gimmick was an abomination and I think he should have avoided making such a spectacle out of leaving his home state to play in South Beach.  However, I don’t see what all the buzz is about surrounding the one-page newspaper ad LeBron ran in the Akron Beach Journal thanking his home town for their love and support.

Considering Cleveland fans have been burning his jersey and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert pretty much said he thinks LeBron is the worst human being on the planet with his letter to Cavs fans, why should LeBron thank all of Cleveland?  Sure, he didn’t bring them a championship and he said he would, but what makes him owe them a thank you anymore than they owe him one?  He may or may not have quit during the playoffs and folded his Cleveland career a few days earlier, but to say fans and members of the Cavs organization have overreacted a little since his departure would be an understatement.

LeBron may owe Cavs fans a tiny bit more than they owe him only because he promised to bring them a championship and didn’t, but what player wouldn’t say something like that?  At the end of the day, he went to the team that he believes gives him the best shot at a ring, which is what an NBA career is supposed to be about.  If he left for money, it’d be a different story.  He took less money (in terms of salary) and left for a better situation.  Let’s not add his lack of a gratitude toward Cleveland fans as further support for the argument that he’s a complete

LeBron Thanks Akron with Full Page Newspaper Ad, Basically Gives a Huge Middle Finger to Cleveland [The Big Lead]