What are they teaching those kids in Miami? LeBron James and non-history

You may have heard that LeBron James will be returning as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers next season. He announced his decision in a first-person Sports Illustrated post last week.

While sportswriters generally fell about the place in sharing how emotional they thought James’ letter was/made them, no one seems to have examined James’ history recitation with any care. James said that “Miami, for me, has been almost like college for other kids.” Did they offer a course in American Athletic History there? If so, can someone leak us the syllabus?

James goes on to make the following statement (emphasis added):

When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.

Unless James plans to suit up with Johann Von Football and defend Akron’s 1920 APFA title, it’s difficult to understand what James is talking about. The context of that final quoted sentence clearly indicates James is referring to the Larry O’Brien trophy. That’s the trophy they give to the team that wins the NBA championship. The Cleveland Cavaliers have not ever won the NBA championship. They only even made it to the finals once, in 2007, when the eternal Spurs swept James and the Cavs. You can handle the math from here.

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ALDLAND Podcast

Even the ALDLAND Podcast is not immune from Lebron discussion, and so we start off the episode with that very topic. Where will he go? Why will he go there? All these questions and more are discussed. But don’t worry, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, we haven’t forgot about you and also predict your landing destinations. Not to be left out, soccer makes its presence felt in this edition of the ALDLAND Podcast as the World Cup final gets a healthy preview.

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ALDLAND Podcast

ALDLAND is in finals mode . . . NBA and NHL finals that is! Your favorite hosts are here to break down, or at least pay lip service to the championship rounds in both hockey and basketball. And that’s not all. Stay around after finals talk for a quick discussion on the upcoming Vanderbilt-Stanford series in the NCAA baseball tournament. It’s really the most fun you can have listening to a podcast.

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ALDLAND Podcast

The ALDLAND Podcast might have taken two weeks off, but it is back and better than ever. Listen to your favorite cohost get all melodramatic about the NBA Draft before moving on to actual NBA discussion as we recap the exciting NBA Finals. Also featured is discussion of Darren Rovell’s interesting take on the Aaron Hernandez situation. Last, but not least, I unveil my innovative compromise to the Washington Redskins name situation.

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ALDLAND Podcast

You followed the live blog, now listen to the live podcast. Join Marcus and me as we discuss the NBA FInals DURING the NBA Finals. This is so groundbreaking that your mind might explode! We also talk about college football recruiting and how crazy that is. So crazy. You don’t even know. But you will soon.

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NBA Finals, Game 3: Aptly named?

So far, the NBA Finals has been a tale of two blowouts. The most recent one belongs to the San Antonio Spurs, who routed the Miami Heat 113-77 to take a 2-1 series lead. The big story on offense was the three-point shooting of Danny Green and Gary Neal, who together made 13/19 shots from distance. As a team, the Spurs shot 50% from behind the arc, and they attempted 32 such shots.

Thirty-two three-point attempts seemed like a lot to me. The season average across all teams this year was 19.9, that number representing a record high. Thirty-two attempts is not an all-time record, though. In 1996, Dallas attempted forty-nine three-pointers in a 127-117 win over New Jersey. (Somebody named George McCloud was responsible for twenty of those attempts. The Nets, as a team– a team featuring none other than future Maverick Shawn Bradley– only attempted five. Rick Mahorn also played in that game, so do with that what you will.) In fact, there have been 404 games in NBA/ABA/BAA history in which a team attempted at least 33 three-point shots. It isn’t even the most this season, in which eighty-three games saw a team attempt at least 33 threes, and seven of those performances came in these playoffs. All time, only twenty-three playoff games have seen at least thirty-three attempts, though, which certainly comports with the trend the Sporting News discussed in the above-linked story on the steep increase in three-point shooting.

That the Spurs’ thirty-two attempts on Tuesday seemed like a lot to me only means that I haven’t been watching a lot of NBA basketball in recent years, which is absolutely correct.

Enjoy game 4 tonight if you’re capable of enjoying such things.

ALDLAND Podcast

Technical difficulties and general laziness are a good combination for going two weeks without a podcast. Fear not, dear listeners, as one of the two of those issues has been fixed and a brand new ALDLAND podcast is available for you to take in. Join Marcus and I as we preview the NBA finals, discuss the latest in MLB steroids news, and take a look at our preseason World Series picks.

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Four thoughts on the Miami Heat’s 2012 NBA championship

1. It was just last Thursday that the Miami Heat claimed the 2012 NBA championship with a blowout win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, yet it feels like it could have been six months ago. Maybe that’s because I don’t follow the NBA that carefully, but I get this feeling with nearly every passing major sports championship, and I remember it even as a kid, so it isn’t a feature of a developing perspective on time with age. It could be that the media mediates our experience of sports more than we realize. Hyperanalysis of championship games and series builds so much anticipation and tension. By the morning after the clinching game, though, the championship really does feel like yesterday’s news. Absent a controversial happening during the game, the media typically offers little beyond a standard game breakdown and an interview with a player or coach before jumping right into previewing the next season.

2. The morning-after conversation after this championship was all about LeBron James. The media’s beat on James had already begun to shift once the Heat made it to the finals, and by the time Miami clinched, they had made a complete 180 on LeBron. Had LeBron really changed, though? In some ways, probably. We’re told he developed his post game this year. That’s definitely something material. But if material, identifiable, quantifiable basketball things were the focus, his winning a championship wasn’t the point of change. He wasn’t heralded as the greatest when he was having, by the numbers, the best season in basketball history earlier this year, or when he won his third regular season MVP award, only questioned more. The nexus of the widespread criticism seemed to be personal and stem from things like the artistic merit of The Decision and The Introduction, his prediction that he’ll win eight championships, his apparent laissez-faire attitude with respect to competitiveness and the fourth quarter, his receding hairline and associated coping method, his unwillingness to shake hands when he loses, his calling the mother of his children his sidekick, etc. etc. If some or all of these are the bases for your beefs with James, though, the new ring on his finger changes nothing. Drew Magary, as usual, cuts to the chase:

There’s never been any question that LeBron James is a great basketball player. And even when he was coming up short in the playoffs, haters like myself just used those failures as an easy excuse to pile on him further, because he’s a dipsh[–] and he deserved it. The fact that he’s won a championship doesn’t fundamentally alter his character in any way. That’s the great con of sports: the idea that winners win because they have character and losers lose because they don’t. If you think LeBron is a good guy now because he won a title, then you probably had no business thinking he was a bad guy to begin with, because the outcome of a sporting event says nothing about the person within.

I never decided if I am a “LeBron hater,” which probably means I’m not. The only thing that really bugged me was his unwillingness to shake hands after he lost that championship with Cleveland. I guess I’m more agnostic about him, and I don’t think he’s more likely to win eight championships now than he was a week ago or a year ago save for the mathematical fact that he now has one of those eight.  Keep reading…