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Most Media Members Don’t Deserve to Praise LeBron if Miami Heat Win it All

The Heat open up their series against the Dallas Mavericks at home, and they’re in a place many doubters did not expect them to be: the NBA Finals. People prayed, dreamed, wished, and hoped that the Heat would fail this season, and they took pride in ridiculing them at every downturn. But now Miami has reached the Finals and they are four victories away from proving their critics to be absolute fools. The unjustified and hypocritical hatred spewed to them by media professionals gets us to the point where most media members do not deserve to congratulate the Heat, and specifically LeBron, if they win the title. And it’s all because a silly notion regarding a few ounces of molded metal.

In our sports society, we judge athletes based on one thing: rings. We don’t measure NBA players based on point totals, All-Star seasons, or even MVP awards. Nope, the media has trained us to believe that NBA players are only worth their weight in 20 karat gold rings.

It doesn’t matter that Darko Milicic has a ring and that LeBron James does not. It doesn’t matter that Robert Horry has seven championships while Michael Jordan has six. Nope, nope, nope. All that matters is our star players must have rings in order to validate their careers. I’ve said for a long time that’s garbage, but I’ve been mostly alone in my beliefs.

Here’s why the “rings to validate a career” is pure idiocy.

Most NBA observers can agree that Hakeem Olajuwon is one of the greatest players of all time. Anyone watching basketball from his college days to 1993 could have told you that The Dream was supremely talented and one of the best players in the game. But consider this for a moment: Had Michael Jordan not walked away from the game for two years, Olajuwon’s Rockets may never have won a title. If Hakeem had never won a title, would he be considered as great as he is now? Definitely not. But was Hakeem’s game, talent, and skill any different from 1993-1995, or did Jordan’s absence allow Olajuwon a chance to win the (gasp!) elusive championship ring?

My point is that winning championships is based on several factors, many of which are circumstantial. How good are your teammates? How good (or stacked) are your opponents? These factors should be taken into account when we measure the greatness of a player. Rings shouldn’t be the end all discussion.

And that leads me to the predicament of LeBron James.

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Jason Terry Will Get Championship Tattoo Removed if Mavericks Don’t Win

On Thursday we passed along the story of Mavericks guard Jason Terry who got a tattoo of the Larry O’Brien Trophy before the season began. Terry got the tat in October despite his team being lower in the preseason odds to win it all than a handful of teams. Even his teammates thought he was somewhat crazy for getting the tattoo despite never having won a championship. Now he’s saying he’ll reverse course if the Mavs don’t win it all.

Before the Mavericks left Dallas for Miami Sunday, Terry told reporters he’ll get the tattoo removed if they don’t win it all. His reasoning? “It means it was bad luck. I’m very superstitious.” Terry also said “I definitely know it’s going to hurt worse if I have to take this thing off.”

I don’t know about you, but the whole thing sounds a bit wacky to me. Why get a tattoo if you plan to have it removed a year later? Aren’t there simpler ways of generating motivation? What about putting placards in the bathroom, won’t that suffice? Sorry to say it Jet, but I think you’ll have to start looking for a tattoo remover sooner than later.

LeBron James Played Superb Defense on Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose had a sub-par series in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat. Though he averaged 23.4 points per game for the series, he needed 24 shots per game to get there, and he only shot 35% on field goals and a brutal 23.3% on threes. Rose improved his outside jumper in the offseason to add an extra dimension to his game, which helped him win the MVP award. Though you could argue that Rose was off for the series, the unbiased fan has to give proper credit to Miami’s defense for shutting down the MVP.

At the end of Game 4 and Game 5, LeBron James switched onto Derrick Rose to play one-on-one defense. He kept the Bulls point guard on the perimeter and forced him into contested jump shots. Per ESPN Stats & Info via SB Nation Chicago, Rose went 1-for-15 (6.67%) with three turnovers when guarded by LeBron. LeBron held Rose to the lowest shooting percentage of anyone who guarded him at least five plays during the playoffs.

While any viewer can see that LeBron caught fire at the end of Game 5 and recognize that he’s truly “closed out” several games these playoffs, it takes a much more discerning eye to realize how good his defense was. LeBron is not just an elite one-way player; He may also be the best defensive player in the game. The mind-blowing stats prove it.

LeBron James Flops Perfectly Against Derrick Rose (Video)

First and foremost, I would like to congratulate LB on his pre-playoff NBA Champion knocking mine out of contention on Thursday night.  Although I love Dirk and am rooting hard for the Mavericks (along with everyone else), I think the Heat are going to take it.  Normally a guy like Dirk will wear out an opponent because you have to chase him all over the floor and guard him everywhere.  Even if he wears LeBron out a little, D-Wade is more than capable of picking up the slack on offense.

Now for the entertaining stuff.  Don’t get me wrong, the Heat have played tremendous basketball in the postseason and have given everyone reason to forget their regular-season struggles.  However, we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t point out some of the flops they have executed to perfection along the way.  Joakim Noah called the Heat “Hollywood as Hell” following Thursday night’s game, and the following video of LeBron James flopping on Derrick Rose gives that statement some credibility.

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Joakim Noah: Heat Hollywood as Hell

Over the course of his college and NBA career we’ve learned that Joakim Noah doesn’t play by the rules. Putting his recent gay slur aside, we’ve seen Noah go shopping for bongs and screw up his rookie duties. He just isn’t your conventional NBA player. That’s why it was no surprise to hear him blast the Heat after losing to them in the playoffs.

Noah ripped on the city of Cleveland last year during the playoffs and that came after his notorious fight with LeBron where he supposedly called him a bitch. Even though I like the way Noah isn’t afraid to speak his mind, I just think he’s wrong here. The Heat’s Bermuda Triangle may have personal stylists and dress funny, but they are a hardworking team that prides itself on defense. They got dirty and out-hustled the Bulls the entire series. That’s just plain disrespectful by Noah considering Miami outplayed them and knocked them out in five games.

Dwyane Wade and Erik Spoelstra Believe Early Season Struggles Helped Miami Heat

After a long regular season that included enormous amounts of hate and ridicule, the Miami Heat have reached the NBA Finals. It was an enduring and humbling journey for Miami, especially if you look back at their gaudy team introductions for their first home game of the season. They started off slowly and looked foolish when Chris Bosh admitted he was lost in the offense. Opposing owners celebrated their early-season struggles. They were widely mocked for crying following a March loss. But now we’re starting to see that all those issues helped lead them to become a Finals-bound team. At least that’s what Dwyane Wade and Erik Spoelstra say.

After the Game 5 close out win, Dwyane Wade said the early-season struggles helped build the team. “Right off the bat, beginning of the year, starting off 9-8, we all said in the locker room ‘We start off 17-0, 16-1, that’s not the best thing for this team.’ We needed to go through something, we needed to look ourselves in the mirror and see if we were really committed to this,” Wade explained. “After that 9-8 start, we showed we were committed to it and ever since then we’ve been fighting it out.”

Coach Erik Spoelstra expressed the same sentiment in his postgame press conference.

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Video: Russell Westbrook Walks off Floor Without Shaking Hands

The more the playoffs go on, the less likable Russell Westbrook becomes. That’s coming from a UCLA fan who thought Russell was great for the Bruins and that he would find tremendous success in the NBA. He’s a hard worker, extremely talented, fast, and athletic. But his character is lacking.

In an interview after one of OKC’s playoff games this year, Kevin Durant credited his teammates for the win while Westbrook talked about his individual style of play. When he was removed from a game against Dallas, he yelled at his coach even though his team ends up winning. Sure he took more of a beating from the media than he deserved throughout the playoffs, but his lasting image of the postseason is not a positive one.

Immediately after the Thunder were eliminated, a frustrated and disheartened Westbrook walked off the floor without shaking hands or congratulating Dallas. Check out the video courtesy of Eye on Basketball:

Look, we understand how crappy it feels to lose. Even Kevin Durant couldn’t muster any positive words about Dirk Nowitzki after the game because he was upset his team lost. But Durant did the sportsmanlike thing and congratulated his opponents.

When you’ve been beaten, that’s all you have to do is congratulate the other team and shake their hand. You don’t have to be happy for them and there’s nothing wrong with being angry. Just shake your opponent’s hands. I know this won’t be as magnified as LeBron snubbing the Magic in ’09 because Westbrook isn’t the same caliber player, but this is just another sign of Russell’s immaturity. He’s a young man who has plenty of time to make a mends for the situation. He’s also extremely talented. I want to like him and so should most of the media. He just has to help us by displaying better character in the future.