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Columbus Ohio Homeless Man Signs with Cleveland Cavaliers

Now this is a crazy story. The homeless man in the video above, dubbed the “man with the golden voice,” has become an internet sensation over the last couple of days after a Ohio news station covered him. Shortly thereafter, the Cleveland Cavaliers swooped in and offered the man a job as well as a house. Maybe I should have tried the “homeless man” tactic during the course of my job search.

Regardless, you’ve got to admit that this guy has a great voice. I’m all for these feel-good sort of stories, but you’ve also got to admit that:

1) You know the Cavs have got some extra cash kicking around, with Lebron taking his talents to South Beach and all.

2) Cavs owner Dan Gilbert probably still has to do some winning of the hearts and minds of Cleveland fans. Despite his ridiculous letter following Lebron’s departure and his promises of a championship before Lebron ever gets one, the Cavs are in the midst of a dismal season and Lebron is tearing it up.

This is one Cav that I’ll be rooting for, at least.

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Michael Jordan Responds to Lebron James — What Should I Do?

After watching this video — Michael Jordan’s direct response to Lebron James’ “What Should I do?” ad campaign for Nike following his signing with Miami — my initial thought was that Nike CEO Phil Knight must have had something to do with this. Only Nike could pit arguably its two biggest superstar athletes  against one another successfully. Jordan must have called Lebron, explained that this was a good move from a business perspective, and the two agreed to the commercial. But the more I watch this video, the more I think Jordan simply chose to call Lebron out — both because he wanted to, and because it only makes his legend and his brand name that much stronger.

I think this commercial was done perfectly. The message that Jordan worked hard everyday, rather than simply taking his basketball skill as a God-given talent (as he implies Lebron has), couldn’t possibly cut deeper into Lebron’s competitive nature. I guess we can say so long to any sort of mentor/protege relationship between these two. The “Become Legendary” Jordan slogan at the end of video could not work more perfectly. Check it out.

********Apparently this is not going to run as a real commercial, and is simply a mash up of commercials created to make Lebron look bad……that said, my bad — and thank you to Kevin Youkilis for clearing this up…..it’s still awesome regardless*********

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Celtics Win as Heat’s Growing Pains Continue

The NBA has taken a back seat as of late, and with good reason, as the NFL season hits full stride. But it’s tough to forget — this year is easily one of the most anticipated NBA seasons in recent memory, if not ever. And while I haven’t caught much of the Lakers yet this season, they are undefeated. The Celtics have looked very impressive, led by the play of Rajon Rondo, and have shown incredible depth. Which brings us to the newcomers on the block — the Miami Heat. I’ve now watched them play the Celtics twice, and the growing pains are very evident. Last night’s 112-107 victory was not nearly as close as the score suggests.

Ray Allen dropped 35 points and was 7-7 from behind the arc at one point, equaling Lebron’s point total for the game. Rondo had 16 assists and an incredible dunk (shown above), and both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett had good games. In other words, the Celtics were clicking on all cylinders. Lebron’s 35 points aside, Dwayne Wade had 8 points and Chris Bosh played poorly.

Since Lebron’s trade to Miami, I have been one of the few who whole-heartedly and without hesitation bought into the Heat. I think they will learn to click, and I think they will be a major force in the league. I’m sticking by that. But at this point, I think they need to take a page out of the Celtic’s playbook. I see Lebron playing much as he did in Cleveland — the offense seems to be running almost completely through him at this point. He had 35 points, great, but Wade had 8 and Bosh mine as well have not been on the floor. This team needs to learn to let a new star step up each night — they need to learn to feed the hot hand. And many nights that might not be any of the big 3, but rather a role player who is left wide open.

We’ll see if the Heat can get it together — I’m sure they will. But for right now, it certainly looks like we are steering towards another Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals. And God knows I’m good with that.

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Heat? Celtics? Lakers? 2011 NBA Predictions

Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers

By Jon Levin, howiGit Contributing Writer, Los Angeles, CA

The NFL’s preseason is officially underway and baseball is in its final regular season stretch, yet I find myself primarily intrigued by the NBA – basketball hasn’t managed to disappear this offseason.  This summer will go down as one of the more wild and significant off-seasons in the league’s history.  Numerous perennial all stars and franchise players changed teams to drastically shift the NBA’s balance of power.  Specifically, the Eastern Conference got much stronger. 

Chicago has gone from a low playoff seed to a championship contender with the acquisitions of Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer (basically half of the 2009 Utah Jazz), and CJ Watson.  They already had a great core with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Taj Gibson — now they have another beast inside, shooters/perimeter defenders to compliment them, and a new coach in Tom Thibodeau — who in my opinion has the best defensive mind in the game.

Milwaukee had a tremendous year last year considering everyone’s expectations for them.  They ended up a six seed and played extremely well against Atlanta.  Brandon Jennings has the potential to be a top 5 point guard in the next few years; the Bucks resigned John Salmons, traded for Corey Maggette, and drafted a huge sleeper in my eyes in Larry Sanders.  If Andrew Bogut comes back healthy and playing at the level he was last year (a top 5 center), the Bucks will continue on their path of improvement and could easily sneak out of the 1st round of playoffs. 

The Knicks are also a team that greatly improved.  Their starting lineup last year looked something like this: Toney Douglas, Wilson Chandler, Tracy McGrady, Danillo Gallinari, and David Lee.  Now, it’s probably going to look more like this: Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler/Roger Mason, Danilo Gallinari, Anthony Randolph, and Amare Stoudemire.  With Amare, Randolph, and Felton coming in, the Knicks have a new look of veteran players that aren’t past their prime and still have a lot left in the tank.  They also have depth with guys like Toney Douglas, Ronny Turiaf, and Bill Walker coming off the bench.  While they’re not seriously going to contend for a title, they made good moves this summer and have put themselves in a position to get into the playoffs and make another splash in the free agency market next summer (Carmelo?). 

When it really comes down to it, the NBA only has three teams in each conference with any legitimate chance of making the finals.  In the East, its Miami, Boston, and Orlando.  In the West, it’s the Lakers, Thunder, and Mavericks.  Orlando still has the best interior defender in the league and has surrounded Mr. Howard with tons of perimeter shooters to help run their inside-out offensive game plan.  It has worked quite well for them the last few years, however they just don’t seem to have enough consistency with their outside shot (what 3-point shooting team really does?) as they have fallen to the Lakers and Celtics respectively.  Vince Carter also completely disappeared in the playoffs last year, and for a guy who makes over $16 million a year, you just can’t expect to win it all when your secondary option on offense falls apart when you need him the most.

 Boston has a very similar look to last year with the return of all five of their starters, yet their bench will have a very different look.  You can tell their focus was on bolstering up their frontcourt with the signings of Jermaine O’Neal and Shaq due to the serious knee injury Kendrick Perkins suffered in game 6 of the Finals.  However, I think the loss of Tony Allen is much bigger than it may seem right now.  I watched this guy give LeBron the hardest time he may have ever experienced on a basketball court in the 2nd round this year.  It was actually really fun to watch how well Tony Allen was able to stay in front of LeBron and deny his ability to get to the line, which he tried to do even more than usual due to his “injured” elbow.  Allen also did a solid job making life much more difficult on Kobe than most wing defenders are capable of.  The Celtics are hoping young rookie Avery Bradley will be their backup two-guard who can come in and replace Tony Allen’s defensive-minded approach off the bench.  In that respect, he has some large shoes to fill. 

 The Heat have gotten a ton of attention this summer, and rightfully so.  They went from irrelevant to having 2 top 5 players in the league and arguably 3 of the top 10.  I find it hard to imagine them struggling in the regular season, but when the playoffs come around, injuries affect everyone and players’ true colors always shine brightest.  The Heat represent a “wait and see” championship contender for me.  If one of the big three goes down or is half the player he can be because of an injury (especially Chris Bosh), their chances decrease much more drastically than other teams like Boston and LA, who have serious depth off the bench.

The Thunder have the best young core of players in the NBA.  I truly believe they will be a top 4 seed in the West this year and they’re only going to continue to get better.  Kevin Durant is a superstar, Russell Westbrook is a consistent jump shot away from being a star, Jeff Green is a great third option, and James Harden’s role and impact are going to increase.  The Thunder also showed a level of effort last year that I haven’t seen from a team in a long time.  I really don’t see any team but the Lakers giving them serious problems for the next few years. 

 The Mavericks on paper look pretty crazy.  Kidd, Marion, Nowitzki, Butler, Haywood, Chandler, and Beaubois.  I see the Mavericks having another successful regular season, yet even with all that talent, I cant see them beating the Lakers (or even the Thunder) in a 7 game series that they probably wont have home court advantage in.  Their level of talent and established veteran roster still keep them relevant in the discussion.

Last, but certainly not least, we have the Lakers.  I know its going to come off as being a homer, but I still think the Lakers are the best team in the NBA.  They still have the best player in the game, the best starting frontcourt in the game in Gasol & Bynum, a top 3 perimeter defender in Ron Artest, a clutch performer in Derek Fisher, and the greatest coach of all-time in Phil Jackson.  Oh, and they got better this summer too.  They added Steve Blake, Matt Barnes (who was a starting SF on a 59 win team last year – he’ll be the 8th man on this team?), and don’t forget Lamar Odom (a member of Team USA this year).  Both on paper, and considering they are back-to-back defending champions, you can’t really dethrone the champs just yet. 

 PREDICTION: Heat vs. Lakers Finals, Lakers win in 6 games.  The NBA has wanted LeBron in the finals these past three seasons and now that he joined Wade’s team in Miami, they finally just might get their wish (and no way he gets swept out of the finals again, not that I would mind that). 

A final thought – I couldn’t help but notice the past few weeks that Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, and Tracy McGrady were all having an extremely difficult time finding a job and all weren’t considered the top free agent available.  For the first time in my life, I feel old.

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Lebron James — The King and His Men

A Guest Post By: Mark McCorrmick, Boston, MA

After much deliberation, one thing is clear – Lebron James will be chasing championships – and all other NBA teams should take notice. Unlike most other NBA stars, James decided not to blindly follow a maximum money contract, thus ignoring a shot at a NBA Championship (Joe Johnson, please stand up).  Lebron will be ready, poised and almost expecting the Championship trophy upon the completion of the 2010-‘11 NBA season. By joining the Miami Heat, Lebron is joining forces with Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade – an unbelievable combination of players that all share one powerful trait: a ferocious desire to win. 

James already has an amazing supporting cast, and only three other players are under contract – Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and Mike Miller. This classy trio of veterans understands how to work together and succeed.  While often overshadowed by Kobe and Lebron, it is imperative to not forget how dynamic of a player Dwayne Wade is.  He can flat out do it all. Wade is as good and selfess as they get and always stayed loyal to the Heat during the entire free agent process. 

Instead of Wade County, the County of Pat Riley could be a more appropriate name. Heat fans should feel blessed to have such a negotiating genius in Riley, a proven winner. He approached free agency like a chess match, every move calculating, ultimately putting the rest of the league in check by landing Bosh and James.  The overwhelming sentiment seems to be that James made a mockery of his legacy and everything he stood for as a result of his public relations free for all. It was a selfish act that will not soon be forgotten by Cleveland, New York, New Jersey and Chicago fans. Cleveland, I regret to inform you, but you’re irrelevant status is back and firmly cemented for the immediate future. 

 I want Lebron to be happy and win many championships – clearly he desires the same things.  He understands that regardless of personal prowess, his journey both on and off the court will never be truly complete without him hoisting the trophy in the last game of the season.  It is ironic that the notion of Wade, Bosh and James merging into an NBA juggernaut is perceived as selfish; the new and imposing big three will all be taking pay cuts for the next six years.  How does this not speak to their unconditional devotion to winning? They also all seem to understand that signing versatile role players is a major key to their championship hopes.  Teams need cap space to do this; the John Paxson’s and James Posey’s of the world that every GM salivates at bringing in, especially at a reduced price, is now an absolute requirement to bringing Miami a NBA championship.  Many modern day role players entering the twilight of their careers will take pay cuts because they have financial security that is more than sustainable and just want to win championships, knowing the end is near. 

James, Wade, and Bosh are in the primes of their careers and could receive anything they wanted approaching the free agent market by themselves. One thing is for certain: regardless of whether or not the Heat win the championship next season, it will be fun to watch and filled with epic highlights and circus like performances on a nightly basis.  The highly touted trio could be even better than we can imagine.  Watch out South Beach, now you have something to celebrate that is hotter than JLO’s highly insured ass;  BoshWadeJames2k10.  Enjoy fans, enjoy.

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Will the Real Lebron James Please Stand Up?

Despite Lebron James accumulating over 250,000 followers on Twitter in his first two days of having an account, one huge lesson we have learned out of this year’s NBA free agent circus is this — few people truly know the real Lebron James and the things that motivate him. This might be a worthwhile realization, as clearly the world felt as though they knew Tiger Woods while they believed his golden boy persona. But the regardless of how many articles, tweets, or ESPN interviews revolve around a celebrity athlete, it’s still best to except that the general public (and often the insiders) really know jack about these superstars as people. That being said, the free agent plot thickened substantially today with both Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh committing to the Miami Heat. With this move, the general public finally will get a glimpse of the real James — should the following situations occur.

1) Lebron signs with Cleveland — If Lebron signs with Cleveland, we’ll learn that he is a hometown boy and loyal as shit. Pardon my french. How likely is this to happen? I’d say 10%.

2) Lebron signs with the Knicks — This will tell us that Lebron is all about the money. Sure, he’d have a great new teammate in Amare Stoudemaire, but this flat-out is not his best chance to win. This says, loud and clear, “I want to be the King of New York and make zillions in endorsements.” Likelihood: 20%.

3) Lebron signs with New Jersey — This move says, “I’m receiving millions under the table from the Russian mob.” Likelihood: 5%.

4) Lebron signs with the Clippers — This move says, “I’m a dumbass.” Likelihood: 1%.

5) Lebron signs with Chicago — This is still an option that has been downplayed to some extent. This move would allow Lebron to play with the best, most dynamic point guard in the game — one that will not be taking possessions or shots away from him but will compliment him wonderfully. This move makes pretty decent sense, but I don’t think Lebron wants to live in Michael Jordan’s shadow forever. Likelihood: 24%.

6) Lebron signs with Miami — This move says loud and clear, “I want to win more than anything.” Sure, Wade and Lebron aren’t completely complimentary players, but with that much talent on the floor I think they would win a NBA championship in their first year. This move would show us that Lebron, as Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh have already shown, doesn’t care about money — in terms of his salary. This means that he is A) not greedy or B) intelligent enough to realize that by joining Wade and Bosh in Miami he’ll make zillions of dollars in endorsements anyways. He might even make more money in this scenario than if he was going to New York. Likelihood: 40%.

I know if it was me, I’d be in Miami in a heartbeat. Regardless, the world will be watching tomorrow at 9:00pm. And the world will be learning a lot more about who Lebron James really is.

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Also, check out: http://bit.ly/cdPArc — I must admit it’s stupid as hell, but the headline definitely made me chuckle.

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The State of the NBA 2010

Michael Jordan retired three different times — in 1994, 1998, and 2003. While Jordan was still a blast to watch between 98′ and 03′, his career for all intents and purposes ended in 98′. He simply didn’t have a chance to win a championship with the Washington Wizards.

Following his retirement in 1998, the NBA found itself in a bad place — a fact that seems to have been all but forgotten by fans. The NBA’s heyday of Magic and Bird was long gone, Jordan’s run of brilliance and the Bulls’ dynasty had passed, and the league lacked both the young stars and rivalries needed to be successful. Arenas were empty and TV ratings were down. Boy, so much has changed since then.

In the 12 years since Jordan’s real retirement, the NBA has rebuilt itself into what has become an amazing league once again. There are too many young stars to count, the Lakers-Celtics rivalry was renewed (although that may now be over as well), and the parity in competition was tighter than ever. For that, NBA commissioner David Stern must be given a lot of credit. I for one am extremely happy to see the league so healthy once again.

Looking forward to next year, it’s crazy to think that the league could be completely different than it has been these past few seasons. With the number of high-caliber free agents out there, the balance of power in the NBA will dramatically shift next year — the playoffs will certainly look very different. It is important to note that there is one major exception to this — one that nobody seems to be talking about — the Los Angeles Lakers.  While free agency and the building of super-teams is a hot topic of discussion right now, and rightfully so, the Lakers have a huge advantage next year. Despite the star studded teams they will have to face, the Lakers will still have a young enough team — but they also have years of experience playing together including invaluable playoff-tested experience as a team.

While I’m not completely sure it’s good for the NBA that one season can completely shift the balance of power throughout the entire league, it sure provides an interesting story line for next season. As a Boston fan, I obviously hope that the Lakers don’t 3-peat, but I do think that they can’t be ruled out despite all of the name dropping and super-team talk going on this off-season. The cool part? We’ll have an answer to most of our free agency questions in the next few days.

It’s great to see the NBA back where it belongs.

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