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Maybe LeBron Was Resting His Elbow at End of the Regular Season

Easily the most discussed and scrutinized body part this post season in the NBA has been LeBron James’ elbow. I noted that LeBron’s right elbow seemed to limit him in Game 1 against the Celtics, a contest in which LeBron scored 35 points in a comeback win. Game 2 was a similar story for LeBron, only The King didn’t have the same juice in the second half as the Celtics slammed the Cavs to even the series. Moreover, LeBron seemed to be favoring his elbow and holding it by his side as if it were in a sling. He also reportedly had his third MRI on the elbow in 10 days, which is a ton of radiation to undergo in such a short period of time. Anyone who has watched these games can see that LeBron is hurting and that the elbow is limiting his game. So why bring all this up aside from mentioning how it will impact the Cavs/Celtics series? Perhaps the ailing elbow explains why LeBron missed games at the end of the regular season.

LeBron James skipped the last four games of Cleveland’s regular season to rest his bod (all four games were losses). Missing the games wasn’t much of an issue for the Cavs because they had already clinched the best overall record in the NBA and the home court advantage throughout the playoffs that comes with it. While I felt the Cavs should have thrown all their best weapons, including LeBron, at the Magic in their second to last game of the season, I had no problem with LeBron sitting out games to rest. As a general rule, I support teams who rest their players to prevent injuries, regardless of sport.

LeBron took a ton of flack from media members for sitting out the last four regular season games. Tim Povtak of Fanhouse even said he would not vote LeBron James for MVP because he sat out those four games. I didn’t understand that logic and I felt Povtak’s bashing of LeBron didn’t take into account the possibility that James was sitting out those games to rest an undisclosed injury. Now that we’ve seen what’s going on with LeBron’s elbow, I have a feeling that’s why he was sitting out those games towards the end of the year. It puts LeBron in a bad spot because you don’t want to make excuses or make a body part a target for your opponents, but it’s hard to sit there quietly while you’re getting bashed. Injuries people keep quiet is one reason you have to be careful when you’re criticizing athletes for their play, or lack thereof.

Kobe Bryant Embarrassed by White Hot Fashion Photos?

I understand how some athletes, knowing they’re going to be on the cover of a major publication, can let stylists and fashion moguls craft a look for them and go along with it. What I don’t understand is how you can give your stamp of approval once you see how horrible they look. Such is the case of Kobe Bryant’s white hot photo shoot for LA Times Magazine, not to mention Alex Rodriguez’s masochistic photos. Kobe’s strange white photos that were supposed to be a fashion statement have launched a couple streams of hilarious spinoffs. One tremendous gallery was produced by Deadspin, the other by Black Sports Online, as pointed out by Jimmy Traina’s Hot Clicks. You can check out their fine works on the funny Kobe Bryant pics below. I imagine Kobe’s also seen them because apparently he’s not too happy with the result, calling them too “artsy” for his taste. On top of that, T.J. Simers mentioned in his most recent column that Kobe’s people asked TNT not to mention the photos on Tuesday night. So much for that. It’s impossible for anyone not named Ron Artest or Lamar Odom to refrain from laughing upon seeing those babies. I have a feeling these will stick with Kobe the rest of his life and that’s just a shame. He should have exercised his veto power on this one.

BSO’S PHOTOSHOPPED KOBE BRYANT PICS

DEADSPIN’S PHOTOSHOPPED KOBE BRYANT PICS

Sources:
Lakers’ Phil Jackson looks into future, draws percentage mark [LA Times]
Photo Credits: LA Times Magazine, Deadspin, Black Sports Online

Danny Ainge Is a Free Throw Heckler

Celtics GM Danny Ainge was in attendance for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Cavs and Celtics on Monday night. Although his Celtics pulled away from the Cavs in the third quarter and went on for an easy win, Ainge did everything possible to ensure his team would win. That includes tossing up a towel to try and distract J.J. Hickson who was attempting a free throw late in the 3rd quarter. PTI showed a video replay of the incident on ESPN and there’s also a clip of it on YouTube thanks to user Foenixx. Here’s the Danny Ainge free throw distraction video where he tosses up a towel to break J.J. Hickson’s concentration:

As Cavs coach Mike Brown said, as long as it’s within the rules, there should not be a problem with Ainge’s actions. Some people might view it as classless and juvenile while others will see it as trying to help his team win. I see it as a bit of both and really can’t blame Ainge, as long as there’s nothing illegal about it.

Sources:
Celtics GM Ainge spotted tossing towel to distract Cavs [CBS Sports]

About Time Del Negro Got the Ax

On Monday, word leaked out that Chicago Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro would be fired. Believe me, this is not shocking to Bulls fans. They have been on “Vinny Watch” counting down the seconds until the time they could finally say good riddance to him.

Will firing Vinny be good for the Bulls? Amazingly, they made the playoffs the two years that he coached them, even though they probably shouldn’t have. And his players believe that they have become better under his coaching. Joakim Noah is one of the players who feels he benefited from Del Negro’s coaching:

It’s always a tough decision when someone gets fired. I learned a lot from him and I got two great playoff appearances with him. Coaching the Bulls is a tough job; there are a lot of demands and expectations. I wish him the best. He’s a good guy. With the way he developed the players here I’m sure he won’t have too hard of a time finding another coaching job.”

So, was Vinny as terrible as a coach as everyone said he was? Or was it just a matter of not having the key pieces on his roster to be successful? Earlier in the season, the Bulls cleared some room on their payroll to make room for a superstar. Obviously, the Bulls would love to have LeBron James or Dwyane Wade make the move to Chicago, but it’s unlikely that will happen. Now that the fans have gotten their way and Del Negro is out the door, it’s up to VP John Paxson to prove that he can actually do something other than select a consensus number one guy in the draft like Derrick Rose. If not, I think we will be seeing some more people packing their bags in the Bulls’ front office next year.

Sources:
Coach Del Negro fired from Bulls [ESPN Chicago]

Lakers Fans Too Cool for White Shirts

When I called them “Faker Fans” a few years ago, this is exactly what I had in mind. While the hardcore fans are sitting in the 300 level or watching the game at home with friends or at the bar, you have the Hollywood-type, Faker Fans misrepresenting the Lakers fan base.

The AP recap of the Lakers 104-99 Game 1 win over the Jazz noted that most fans discarded the t-shirt they were given at the gate. Fans were supposed to put on the shirt to show unity and support of the Lakers. As the Associated Press noticed and as anyone watching could tell, the fans in the arena were hardly clad in white. Why is that the case? Because attending a Laker game is every bit as much a Hollywood scene and fashion show as it is a chance to support a team and watch a basketball game. Any wonder why many other fan bases can’t stand the Lakers and have difficulty relating to them? Go to most other arenas — Miami, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City — and you’ll find fan bases decked out in the giveaway shirts to support their teams. In LA, you don’t see that.

What makes matters even more confusing is the thought process behind giving away white shirts to fans at Staples Center for a Lakers game. First off, they turn the lights out in the crowds and focus the spotlights solely on the hardwood during games, so it wouldn’t even matter if fans were wearing the shirt. Secondly, the whole “white out” thing is played out. If you’re going to do the t-shirt thing, at least make it gold or even purple for Lakers fans. Not that it would make any difference for the Hollywood type that waste space in the lower bowl anyway.

Sources:
Kobe rallies Lakers past Jazz in 2nd-round opener [AP/Yahoo! Sports]
Photo Credits: Getty Images, Getty Images

LeBron Almost Tips Hand that He’s Staying in Cleveland at MVP Ceremony

It’s been a good weekend for LeBron James. Not only did he rebound from his elbow injury to score 35 points in a Game 1 comeback win over the Celtics in the playoffs on Saturday, but he also won his second MVP award on Sunday. There was a moment towards the end of his press conference where he started speaking about his town and the people reverently, as if he were about to make a promise that he was going to remain a Cavalier. Alas he did not, but he definitely screwed with the people:

“To finish it off because I never come up here with notes or anything like that, I just come up here and start talking. To finish it off, Akron, Ohio is my home. Akron, Ohio will always be remembered. And Akron, Ohio is my life and I love this city. I love ya’ll people.”

Is that a, “Keep in mind when I’m gone that I still love you all.” Or is it, “I’m a Cleveland person, a hometown kid, and I will never leave you”? Damn, I don’t know what to make of this. We’ve touched on LeBron’s relationship with Jay-Z in the past but as dreadful as the Nets were, we can probably cross that possibility off the list. I don’t have a better idea of what LeBron will do than you, but I think what happens over the next month in the playoffs will have a lot to do with his decision. In other words, if they win it all, it will be hard for him to walk away.

Great Time for Mo Williams’ First Dunk

Mo Williams had played 150 regular season and 19 playoff games with the Cavs but there’s one thing he hadn’t done with the team until Saturday night: dunk. LeBron James was aware of that and always told him something that turned out to be prescient: “I told Mo a long time ago if he ever dunked in a game it was going to spark us like we haven’t been sparked before. Not only did it fire the team, it fired himself up.” Mo Williams took a ball in transition and decided to go up to slam over Paul Pierce and it ignited the team in Game 1. Here’s the video of Mo Williams’ first dunk for the Cavs on Paul Pierce in the playoffs:

That Williams dunk sparked the Cavs and they went on a 43-24 run to close out the game from that point on. Immediately after that dunk, something changed for the Cavs and they became ignited to play stronger defense and better on offense. The Cavs better hope Williams has more tricks up his padded sleeve because if he’s not playing well they’re not reaching the NBA Finals. He has a lot of work to do to atone for his 31% shooting against the Magic in the Conference Finals last year and he’s starting off in the right way.

Sources:
Elbow doesn’t slow down James as Cavaliers rally for Game 1 win [AP/ESPN]