Calm before the storm/Storm of my own making

I think I speak for most of us when I say that, with one of the most fraught playoffs in recent memory flush on the horizon (and all the time obligation that brings), it's hard to care much about these waning days of the regular season. I tried to watch the Nuggets/Suns last night, and was rewarded with Phoenix proving once again that they defy all basketball logic. Absolutely killed a Denver team whose stacked frontline should have at least cause some problems for the undersized Suns. They didn't; the final score didn't come close to communicating what a one-sided rout this was. The Suns have proven that they can beat just about anyone, no matter what the match-up problems or opposing team's strategy. Isn't it about time we start thinking of them as unstoppable, in the old-fashioned, pre-coach-centric way? Something no one's talked about them reviving. . .

I have to say, I'm feeling Scoop Jackson's column on the panic in Gund Arena. The Brown Recluse (esq.) has pointed out that Scoop seems on board to take Ralph Wiley's place, i.e. cover sports from an African-American perspective with some flare. While this explains some of his recent, umm, lapses in professional judgment, it's nice to see he can still actually produce something insightful. I think he has a point: all that's really happened is that the coach got fired. But the seeds of doubt have been sown, and, when the entire LeBron era in Cleaveland has been nothing short of a fairy tale, it wouldn't take much for that franchise to come crashing back down to reality.

Marc Stein said last night on "Fast Break" (or whatever it's called now) that he thinks LeBron's rep will suffer a bit if he misses the playoffs; Scoop says the Cavs stopped trying as it became clear that he didn't believe in them anymore. Come on. He can make everyone better, but you can't expect a twenty year-old to babysit grown men. That team fell apart and left James out on the court all alone. For him to work his magic, everyone else at least has to show up. It's like they thought that, with LeBron and their strong start, they were owed a trip to the postseason.

Like I said, get the kid four competent starters that make some sense together, and he'll have you in the Eastern Conference finals. I think it's a testament to LeBron's majesty (and KG's, too), that they managed to almost make the postseason with team's around them that were decidedly dysfunctional, i.e. label to waste every other possession and automatically give up points on defense. I'm sure John Hollinger has some shit on how much those two were working against every time they took the floor. If not, he should.

With anyone other than LeBron, the Cavs would be looking at another #1 overall. Anyone. Shaq, Garnett, Nash, Iverson, Yao, T-Mac. Take your pick and that team would bring them down, one missed Pavlovic three or possesion pissed away by McInnis at a time. Don't even get me started on Ira Newble, the NBA's one and only fake Jew (now that Lenny Wilkins is back in his garden), Gooden, who never does anything right but always puts up numbers, and poor Tractor Traylor, who often ends up being the motor that drives that offense.

To end on a happy note: Iguodala. Again. I had hoped to say something like "is there any reason to believe we're not watching the second best player to come out of last year's draft," but then I looked at the draft. Wasn't this supposed to be a weak draft, esp. compared to the embarrasment of riches that was 2003? Granted, there's no LeBron, and not yet anyone on Wade's level. But between Howard, Gordon, Okafor, Livingston, Jefferson, the inchoate Smith's (my money's on J.R.), Iguodala, Gordon, and Telfair, you've got at least nine players who have a shot at All-Star caliber careers--definitely more than came out of 2003's instant classic.

(Fuck Josh Childress. And Devin Harris.)


At 4/19/2005 3:19 PM, Anonymous Gorilla Jones said...

I've watched almost every Bulls game this year, and I don't mind admitting that I'm more excited about Luol Deng's future than I am Ben Gordon's.

Any talk about Colangelo as executive of the year has to end with the fact that we got Luol Deng with a year's experience and they got...the 23rd or 24th pick in this year's draft.

At 4/19/2005 3:48 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

they did that for the money. . . i'd rather make sure i could lock up that team long-term than gamble on a draft pick. they're going to need loot to sign johnson and amare this summer, both of whom are more valuable than deng, esp. since they're further along than he is.

At 4/19/2005 4:05 PM, Blogger Ken said...

As a Mark Price jersey wearing Cavs fan I'm calling BS on this article. Nobody with any damn sense thought they were going all the way this year, Derek Jeter’s cousin can suck a dick.

Remember, Silas sucked as a coach, and they were losing bad under him. The choke was on back then. LeBron was not too broken up about his leaving. Reporters act like he was the father he never knew or some shit, and yet LeBron would yell at his ass during the games. McGuiness quit, Snow can’t score, Z is hurt, Luscios Harris turned to garbage when he got to town. I feel bad for Newble because he plays hard every night but really should be a reserve, not a damn starting 2 guard.

Let’s use our heads here; the Cavs new owner is in it to get PAID- he would not have spent 350 million dollars to get the CLEVELAND CAVS if he was not serious. He's a proactive guy, and since he hasn’t had the opportunity to do jack shit, but fire the team’s lazy ass coach let’s reserve judgment for a bit. It’s not like Gund was going to bust out the wallet and make the signings he had to.

And what’s up with this LeBron to New York because of marketing stuff. Who the hell has been a big NBA endorsement guy coming out of NYC. Who? I know those Ewing Adidas kicks are awesome and shit but the answer is nobody, not a goddamn person.

I can’t believe ESPN’s basketball brain trust is Bill Walton and Steven A. Smith. Would you trust either of those two guys with your lunch order? Steven A. wouldn’t listen to you and order two of whatever he’s getting and Walton would order whatever he wanted to hear himself say out loud. Of course the same people who hired these guys would bring on a reporter named Scoop.

At 4/19/2005 4:42 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

not sure if you're calling bs on me (always, always justified), scoop, or both.

notwithstanding the inherent limitations of the blog (written in my spare, over-caffeinated spare time when i don't want to work) and the inherent pitfalls of still using basically meaningless phrases like "i'm feeling this article," i do think i should clarify my point. all that's happened is the coach is gone. but that team always should have been a mess, because the roster is a mess.

that first half was great while it lasted, but it was a mirage. that should be the concern, not any of the changes/weird implied disaster that have happened since gilbert bought the team.

i guess i'm saying that the "panic" shouldn't be anything new, it's pretty much where this team should be now.

in the im chat with jackson, gilbert pretty much admits that he hasn't even had a chance to affect any real change. he bought a crappy team that just happened to have the best player in the league on it. firing silas, while it may have been done to shield lebron, was a non-move. he'd done as much as he could, and it was better to go ahead and move him out, end the year with a sense that the team was building things, not wrecking an okay team by sacking the coach.

bottom line: firing silas was a sign of "something more." but it wasn't the onset of problems, it was an admission that real problems existed and that, to build a real team, the franchise had to start admitting this and start wiping as much of the slate clean as possible, as soon as possible

At 4/19/2005 11:17 PM, Blogger Ken said...

I think you've got the Cavs situation right on. I'm so not trying to be hostile here. Just a Cavs lifer venting I guess.

A lot of hacky analysts like Charley Rosen and Steven A. can't see the situation for what it is. I'll give Scoop, if that is his real name, a chance to get his sea legs.

A guy on the Cavs beat, Branson Wright is a good writer and brings some insight to the table. I remember Ralph Wiley- or possible Road Dogg gave him a shout out or two.

At 4/20/2005 12:52 PM, Anonymous Gorilla Jones said...

Yeah, but would you rather have Deng as a sixth man on a rookie contract for the next few years or Walter McCarty / Jim Jackson, who they acquired mid-season? (And the reason why Bulls fans love Deng is that he's already mature enough to play that role.)

Granted, Phoenix ain't doing too bad for itself but they should have moved the pieces they moved to get those two instead of passing up a huge asset earlier on.

Anyway, great post. This marks two fairly astounding rookie classes in a row.

At 10/16/2005 9:58 AM, Blogger Bloggy said...

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