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  1. By Dylan Barmmer They're here. Again. And he has helped lead them back here. Again. The HEAT are about to tipoff their fourth consecutive appearance in the NBA Finals, and franchise face and all-time scoring leader Dwyane Wade remains as valuable and vital as ever to the team's deep and productive playoff runs. In fact, you could even argue that Wade has never been better than he is now, in his 10th postseason journey. Or at least, he has never been more efficient than he is now, at age 32. As the stakes have risen for the HEAT during their historic run to a fourth straight NBA Finals appearance, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Wade has steadily improved his production. And he's done so from top to bottom, all across the board. Wade averaged 17.5 points, 3.8 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 33.3 minutes per game in the HEAT's first-round sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats. He shot 49.1 percent from the field and 70.8 percent from the free throw line, scoring 15 or more points in each of the four games. In the HEAT's five-game series win over the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Wade averaged 18.2 points, 4.2 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 35.0 minutes per game. He shot 50.7 percent from the field and 85.0 percent from the line, scoring 14 or more points in each of the five games and netting 20 or more twice – including a playoff-high 28 in the closeout game. In the HEAT's six-game Eastern Conference Finals triumph over the Indiana Pacers, Wade averaged 19.8 points, 4.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 35.5 minutes per game. He shot 54.5 percent from the field and 85.0 percent from the line, scoring 13 or more points in each of the six games and netting 23 or more in each of the series' first three games. Wade was also at his best from behind the three-point arc in that series, connecting on 6-of-13 shots from long-range for a sizzling 46.2-percent clip. Wade's long-revered defensive prowess was also on full display in the Eastern Conference Finals, as he snared two or more steals in each of the final four games. He also helped hold the Pacers to 93 or fewer points in each of those games, and pulled down 20 rebounds to go with his nine steals during that four-game stretch. The HEAT have posted an exceptional 12-3 record during their 2014 NBA Playoffs run, and Wade has played a pivotal role in that success. The seasoned and savvy shooting guard has started each of those 15 games, staying on the floor for an average of 34.7 minutes – second only to reigning NBA Finals MVP LeBron James on the HEAT roster. He's averaged 18.7 points, 4.3 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 0.3 blocks, and shot 51.9 percent from the field – including 38.9 percent from behind the three-point arc – and 80.0 percent from the line. Wade ranks second to only James in scoring, assists and steals this postseason, and is fourth on the HEAT in both rebounds and blocks. Wade's sparkling 51.9-percent field goal percentage is third-best behind only Chris Andersen and James, his 80.0 percent mark from the line ranks fifth, and his 38.9-percent clip from behind the three-point arc is sixth-best on a deep three-point shooting team. Wade also ranks second to only James in both field goals and free throws attempted and made this postseason, showcasing his seemingly ever-expanding array of offensive moves and shots. From slashing layups and putbacks to lethal midrange bank shots to stepback jumpers to alley-oop dunks, Wade consistently finds ways to create and finish shots, frustrate and deflate defenses and create easy, open opportunities for his teammates. He's even honed and refined the timely three-pointer, using the long-range shot with particularly stunning success in the Eastern Conference Finals. In short, Wade is doing a bit of everything for the HEAT this postseason. And he's doing it as effectively and efficiently as anybody else on the roster. Just like always. Wade opened his 10th playoff run with a bang, scoring 23 points, dishing five assists, grabbing one rebound and snaring one steal in a 99-88 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Easter Sunday. Wade drilled 10-of-16 shots – including 1-of-2 from long-range – and hit 2-of-3 free throws in 34 high-octane minutes to help the HEAT launch their drive for a third consecutive NBA Championship in dominant fashion. Wade was even more dominant in the HEAT's closeout victory over the Brooklyn Nets in the next round, scoring 28 points – on 10-of-18 shooting from the field and a flawless 8-of-8 from the line – dishing three assists and grabbing two rebounds in 37 minutes as the HEAT posted a 96-94 victory in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Wade then continued to score at a high clip as the HEAT began their Eastern Conference Finals with a rematch against the rival Indiana Pacers. He scored 27, 23 and 23 points as the HEAT took a 2-1 lead over the Pacers, and handed out at least four assists in each of those three games. Wade was especially impressive in the HEAT's pivotal 87-83 road win in Game 2, scoring 23 points, dishing five assists, grabbing five rebounds and snaring one steal as the HEAT roared back from a late deficit to knot the series at 1-1. Wade nailed 10-of-16 shots from the field and 3-of-4 free throws in that game, and scored 10 of his 23 points (on flawless 5-of-5 shooting) in the game-turning fourth quarter. As the HEAT gear up for a NBA Finals rematch with the veteran, versatile, deep San Antonio Spurs, Wade continues to author new chapters in a compelling, champion-caliber career. Already a legend in the eyes of HEAT fans, and almost certainly a future NBA Hall of Famer, Wade has now suited up in a HEAT uniform for an incredible 147 playoff games. Wade has started each and every one of those games, averaging 23.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.0 blocks in 39.0 minutes per game – and shooting 47.9 percent from the field and 77.7 percent from the line over those 147 games. To put that 147-playoff game total in perspective, consider that it's nearly the equivalent of two full NBA regular seasons. That total is so high in large part due to Wade's ability to carry his team when the games matter most, and his HEAT teams have played at least 13 games or more in seven of his 10 postseason appearances, including 21 or more games four times. Of course, three of those four extended postseason runs ended in NBA Championships, and for Wade and the HEAT, a fourth title – and third in three years – is now just four playoff wins away. Wade came up big-time in the 2013 NBA Finals against the Spurs, averaging 19.6 points, 4.6 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.3 blocks in 36.6 minutes per game. Wade hit 47.6 percent of his field goals and 77.3 percent of his free throws in that sensational seven-game series, and scored 23 or more points in three of the final four games. Wade averaged 23.5 points and drilled 41-of-83 (49.4 percent) field goals and 12-of-14 (85.7 percent) free throws over that crucial, final four-game stretch, which saw the HEAT race back from a 3-2 series deficit to hoist the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy once again. He also posted a 25-point, 10-assist game and a 23-point, 10-rebound outing during that run, with the latter helping the HEAT post a 95-88 closeout win in Game 7. In a pivotal Game 4 HEAT victory, Wade scored 32 points, grabbed six rebounds, snared six steals and dished four assists in a game- and series-turning performance that helped the HEAT post a 109-93 road win and knot the series at 2-2. Had the HEAT lost that game, they would have faced a 3-1 series deficit and extremely long odds of defending their title. Wade simply refused to let that happen, hitting 14-of-25 field goals and single-handedly compiling more steals than the entire Spurs team. Just what happens in the 2014 Finals remains to be seen, but HEAT fans, teammates and coaches alike all expect equally efficient, versatile and clutch performances from Wade. After all, it's what he's always done for the HEAT. Especially when the games matter most.
  2. By Dylan Barmmer When talk turns to the HEAT among national observers, the names LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh generally dominate the conversation. But during the HEAT's exceptional and sensational run since James and Bosh joined franchise face Wade in the summer of 2010, many other men have contributed mightily to the success. Some call them "role players," while others prefer the term "glue guys." Whatever you call them, these players have filled key roles in the HEAT's drive to three consecutive NBA Finals appearances. And as the HEAT have begun their quest for a third consecutive NBA Championship by going 6-0 to open the 2014 NBA Playoffs, such supporting players have been equally instrumental. In the HEAT's first round series sweep of the young Charlotte Bobcats, it was Miami native James Jones who seized his opportunity to make an impact in a newly expanded role. In the HEAT's Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the veteran Brooklyn Nets, Shane Battier has gotten the call to contribute more. And just like fellow versatile veteran Jones, the 35-year-old Battier has taken full advantage of his increased opportunity. After playing just two minutes in all of the HEAT's series sweep of Charlotte, Battier was tabbed by HEAT coach Erik Spoelstra to start at small forward against the Nets. The decision paid immediate dividends – on both ends of the floor. Battier helped key a 107-86 win against the savvy, experienced Nets, scoring eight points, handing out two assists and grabbing one rebound in 26 minutes of action. Battier shot an efficient 3-of-5 from the field, including 2-of-4 from behind the three-point arc, in his first start since the HEAT's regular-season finale on April 16. He drilled his first shot attempt, a three-pointer from the right corner, to tie the game at 7-7 with 8:56 remaining in the first quarter, and he later played a key role in a 24-10 third-quarter run that put the HEAT up 70-54 and led to a comfortable win. Battier converted a layup in the opening minutes of the second half that put the HEAT up 50-43 with 10:37 left to play in the third quarter. When he buried another three-pointer from the right corner 2:25 later, the HEAT had a 55-49 lead with 8:12 remaining in the third. From there, the HEAT would mount a 15-5 burst that seemed to break the will of the Nets. The 6-foot-8, 220-pound Battier also helped limit dangerous Nets forward Joe Johnson to 17 points in 32 minutes of action. The sweet-shooting Johnson had averaged 21.9 points in the Nets' first-round win over the Toronto Raptors, scoring 24 points or more in four of the series' seven games. With Battier defending him for much of the game, Johnson managed just 11 shot attempts, including six from behind the three-point arc. In Game 2 two nights later, Battier nailed his very first shot attempt – a three-pointer that put the HEAT up 5-2 with 7:43 to play in a hard-fought first quarter. He closed the game with three points, one rebound and one steal in 19 minutes, helping the HEAT earn a 94-82 victory and take a commanding 2-0 series lead. And once again, he helped hold down Johnson, who finished with only 13 points on 6-of-14 shooting. Through the first two games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals series, Battier has averaged 5.5 points, 1.0 rebound, 1.0 assists and 0.5 steals in 22.5 minutes. He's hit 4-of-8 field goals, including 3-of-6 from long-distance. Most importantly, the HEAT have won both games, and now hold a powerful 2-0 lead as the series shifts to Brooklyn for the next two games. Battier's stellar contributions at both ends of the floor have come as no surprise to HEAT fans, teammates and coaches, who have seen the 13-season veteran do just about everything possible – in both starting and reserve roles – during his three seasons in a HEAT uniform. Battier joined the HEAT in the offseason prior to the 2011-12 season, and went on to play in 65 of that lockout-shortened season's 66 games, making 10 starts. Battier averaged 4.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.5 blocks in 23.1 minutes of that regular season, which saw the HEAT post a 46-20 record. In the postseason, Battier was moved into more of a starting role, and elevated his statistical output. In starting 16 of the HEAT's 23 playoff games, Battier averaged 7.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.6 blocks to help the HEAT win the franchise's second NBA Championship. He averaged a whopping 33.4 minutes per game during that Championship drive, and hit 38.2 percent of his three-point shot attempts. In his first full-length regular season with the HEAT, Battier averaged 6.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.8 blocks and 0.6 steals in 24.8 minutes per game, helping the HEAT post a NBA-best and franchise-record 66-16 mark. He saw action in 72 of those 82 games, starting 20, and shot a career-best 43.0 percent from behind the three-point arc, finishing just behind Ray Allen with 136 hits from long-range. Once the playoffs arrived, Battier moved into an exclusively reserve role, and averaged 4.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.3 blocks and 0.2 steals in 17.8 minutes per game off the HEAT bench. He also saved his best for last, scoring a postseason-high 18 points by drilling six three-pointers as the HEAT topped the San Antonio Spurs 95-88 in Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals. Battier nailed 6-of-8 shots from long-range in that game, including each of his first five attempts. "Reports of my demise were premature," quipped the quick-witted and humble Duke University graduate after that big-time showing in a must-win game. Battier continued to demonstrate his value this season, playing in 73 games and starting 56 of them. Battier averaged 4.1 points, 1.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.5 blocks in 20.1 minutes per game, shooting 34.8 percent from long-range – and draining 73 three-pointers. He scored nine or more points 10 times, and also drilled at least three three-pointers in 10 different games. Of course, Battier's value to a team goes well beyond the standard statistical accomplishments. A hard-working, aggressive and highly intelligent player and teammate, Battier is well known for doing much of the game's "dirty work" – taking charges, setting picks, keeping opponents away from the rim, diving for loose balls, executing inbounds passes and the like. His ability to knock down long-range shots also helps the HEAT space the floor and opens driving lanes for James, Wade, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole. Battier's willingness to do whatever it takes to help his team win – including sitting out for long stretches of games, if not entire games – is as renowned in NBA circles as his wit, intelligence, versatility and long-range shooting ability. It's this special skill set that causes former coaches and current TV analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Hubie Brown to wax poetic every time Battier's name comes up, and it's what prompts Wade to call him "one of my favorite teammates of all time." It's also what compelled the then-Vancouver Grizzlies to select Battier with the sixth overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, making him one of seven HEAT players to have been tabbed in the Top 6 of an NBA Draft. Now, close to 13 years later, Battier is a seasoned veteran, an accomplished three-point marksman, a crafty, cunning defender and much, much more. Most importantly, he's not just able to do many things exceptionally well – he's willing to do whatever the HEAT ask of him to help the team secure its third consecutive NBA Championship. The odds are certainly in their favor. After all, Battier and the HEAT are both a perfect 2-for-2 since he first donned a HEAT uniform.
  3. By Dylan Barmmer Adversity is a part of sports. As is repeatedly proving your ability, durability and value. James Jones knows this as well as anyone. Much like fellow Miami native and HEAT veteran Udonis Haslem, the 33-year-old swingman had to endure long periods of sitting and waiting to contribute on the court during the 2013-14 regular season. And much like Haslem, Jones kept himself ready before seizing a late-season opportunity and running – and shooting – with it to earn a key role in the HEAT's rotation at the outset of the 2014 NBA Playoffs. After not playing in 31 consecutive games spanning more than two calendar months, the 6-foot-8, 215-pound former University of Miami star saw action in eight games in March and April. Jones played 25 minutes or more in five of those eight games, scoring at least eight points and drilling at least two three-pointers in each of those five games. More importantly, the HEAT went 4-1 in those games, winning four straight from March 28 through April 2. All told, Jones averaged 7.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.3 steals and 0.3 blocks in 20.8 minutes per game over that eight-game stretch. He hit 20-of-42 field goal attempts, including an exceptional 17-of-34 (an even 50 percent) from behind the three-point arc. Jones finished his 11th NBA season – and sixth with the HEAT – with averages of 4.9 points, 1.2 rebounds and 0.5 assists in 11.8 minutes per game, appearing in 20 games. Jones, who can effectively play both the small forward and shooting guard positions, even made six starts for the HEAT during the regular season. True to his driven and determined nature, Jones wasn't content to merely shine during the stretch run of the regular season. So he came out shooting at the start of the 2014 NBA Playoffs. When given a chance to contribute early and often by HEAT coach Erik Spoelstra in Game 1 of the team's first-round playoff series against the Charlotte Bobcats, Jones seized the opportunity. In big-time fashion. Jones scored 12 points in 14 minutes off the bench in the HEAT playoff opener, drilling 4 of 6 shots, pulling down three rebounds, handing out one assist and providing a crowd-pleasing and team-lifting spark with his aggression and energy. All of Jones' contributions proved pivotal in a 99-88 win at AmericanAirlines Arena, as did the 1-0 series lead that helped protect home court and set a strong tone for a strong run at a third consecutive NBA Championship. Jones' contributions in Game 2 were less prolific, but he still made a tangible and important impact, scoring three points and grabbing one rebound in 11 minutes of action. Every contribution from every player ended up counting in that game, which ended in a 101-97 victory over a scrappy and athletic Bobcats team that routinely refused to back down or fade away. In the HEAT's 98-85 Game 3 win in Charlotte, Jones scored three points, dished three assists, snared two steals and blocked one shot in 17 active minutes. Jones' three assists led all HEAT reserves, and his two steals tied for HEAT- and game-highs. Through the first thre games of the 2014 NBA Playoffs, Jones is averaging 6.0 points, 1.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 0.7 steals in 14.0 minutes per game. He's drained 6 of 14 field goal attempts – including 4 of 10 from behind the three-point arc. This isn't the first time Jones has contributed to a deep HEAT playoff run, either. In the 2011 NBA Playoffs, Jones averaged 6.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 0.5 steals in 22.7 minutes over 12 games, drilling a remarkable 45.9 percent of his three-point field goal attempts. When the HEAT won the franchise's second NBA Championship – and their first with LeBron James and Chris Bosh in the fold – to cap the 2012 NBA Playoffs, Jones saw action in 20 games, averaging 2.6 points and 1.0 rebounds in 8.7 minutes per game. When the HEAT repeated as NBA Champions to cap last year's thrilling postseason run, Jones saw action in nine games, averaging 1.0 points and 0.3 rebounds in 3.7 minutes per game. He also hit 3 of his 4 shots from behind the three-point arc. Jones' acumen from long range has long been his calling card in the NBA. He routinely torched teams with the long ball during his decorated days with the Hurricanes alongside Darius Rice, and he spent his first two NBA seasons with the Indiana Pacers, honing his deep ball under the tutelage of NBA Hall of Famer and current TV analyst Reggie Miller, who ranks second to only HEAT standout Ray Allen among the greatest three-point shooters in NBA history. For his part, Jones has averaged 5.7 points in 17.2 minutes over 556 regular-season NBA games, drilling 641 three-point field goals at an exceptional 40.3-percent rate. Jones' most prolific season from long-range came in 2010-11, his third season with the HEAT. Jones played in 81 games and set a career-high with 123 hits from behind the three-point arc that season, connecting at a sizzling 42.9-percent clip. This season, Jones shot a career-best 51.9 percent from long-range, drilling 28 3-pointers in just 20 games of action. Jones has been even more effective and efficient from behind the arc during his postseason career, which now encompasses an impressive 96 games – including 19 starts. Jones has drilled 70 three-pointers in those 96 games, connecting at a 40.5-percent clip. In 12 games over the past two postseasons, Jones has connected on 7 of his 14 attempts from behind the arc – an even more impressive number when you consider he has been in and out of the HEAT's rotation. Jones can also rebound the ball and play tight, aggressive defense when called upon, and his overall insight, experience and knowledge of the game are routinely praised by teammates and coaches alike. Of course, his willingness to continually prepare, practice, study and stay ready – while also supporting his teammates during down times – are valuable assets to any team, and Spoelstra has often compared Jones to a dominating and intimidating "relief pitcher." Both Spoelstra and reigning NBA Finals MVP James have praised Jones for his hot start to these playoffs, with James insisting the proud, professional Miami native – and recent University of Miami Hall of Fame inductee – will be "a key ingredient to our success in this postseason." Just what flavor or degree that ingredient ends up emerging as remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure as the HEAT passionately pursue their third consecutive NBA Championship: Whenever Spoelstra calls Jones' number, he will be ready to go. Ready to do whatever it takes to win. And ready to let it fly from behind the three-point arc.
  4. By Dylan Barmmer Every now and then, an athlete comes along who not only amazes with his play, but inspires with his ability to sustain that exceptional level of play for several seasons. Ray Allen is one such player. In fact, he might even set the template. Or take it to a whole new level. Now in the homestretch of his 18th overall NBA season, and his second with the HEAT, the 38-year-old Allen ranks fifth on the club in scoring, averaging 9.0 points per game in his well-defined, well-executed and much-needed role as the team's primary bench scorer and shooter. Like a basketball version of a baseball "closer," Allen continues to come up big in big-time, late-game situations. And like a true veteran and "utility player," he's also served as the HEAT's starting shooting guard several times this season. In other words, Allen may rank as the oldest and most experienced player on the HEAT roster. But he remains one of the most vital and invaluable cogs in the well-oiled and efficient HEAT machine – a machine that has churned out a 109-30 regular-season record since Allen joined the fold prior to the 2012-13 season. Long-time HEAT fans and NBA observers are not surprised by this, although they may still stand in awe of Allen, if for no other reason than his endurance. Over the course of his transcendent career, Allen has won games, set records and capitalized the "shooting" in shooting guard – not only in the sheer number of long-range and big-time shots made, but in the pure beauty and flawless form of his high-arching and often back-breaking jumper. Naturally, Allen is near the top of the HEAT charts in three-pointers made and attempted this season. Only reigning NBA MVP LeBron James has attempted and made more than Allen's 74 hits in 207 attempts from long-range, and he's not too far ahead at 83 and 216, respectively. Allen also ranks sixth on the club in rebounds, fifth in assists and sixth in steals, averaging 3.0 boards, 2.1 assists and 0.8 steals. His 90.4-percent shooting from the free throw line leads the HEAT, and is on par with his truly remarkable 89.4-percent career mark from the line. Perhaps most impressively, Allen remains a model of durability and consistency after 18 seasons of high-energy and big-minute NBA action, playing in 53 of the HEAT's 57 games and averaging 26.4 minutes per game off the bench. That 26.4-minute-per-game average leads all HEAT reserves, and ranks fifth overall on the club. Allen has also started nine games for the HEAT this season, averaging 12.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 0.7 steals over 32.3 minutes in those nine starts. Allen has shot an even 50 percent overall from the field, 36.8 percent from behind the three-point arc and 87.0 percent from the free-throw line in those games, providing a rock-solid fill-in for fellow veteran Dwyane Wade. And not content to be viewed solely as a long-distance or free-throw shooting specialist, Allen has also flashed his brilliant all-around skill set and sky-high basketball IQ by beating opposing defenders off the dribble and finishing with everything from twisting reverse layups to hanging short jumpers to the occasional slam dunk. Put simply, the man who once starred in Spike Lee's "He Got Game" still has game. Lots of game. Long renowned for his tireless work ethic, supreme conditioning, dead-eye shooting and overall intelligence, the 6-foot-5, 205-pound Allen continues to produce in the twilight hours of his remarkable career. Whenever that career will come to an end remains a mystery, but what is absolutely certain is that it will culminate with Allen's enshrinement in the Basketball Hall of Fame – and put him in possession of a made three-point field goal record that will possibly never be broken. Allen has hit at least 74 3-pointers in each of his 18 seasons, drilling 100 or more in 15 of those seasons and at least 200 in five separate seasons. It all adds up to a mind-boggling total of 2,931 career hits from long-range. If that sounds like a lot, it's because it certainly is. Historically so. In fact, that closing-in-on-3,000 total puts Allen nearly 1,000 makes ahead of the NBA's next most prolific long-range shooter, Sacramento Kings guard Jason Terry – whose 1,950 career three-pointers rank fourth all-time in league history. In fact, the only player to ever even come close to Allen's totals is current TNT broadcaster and former Indiana Pacers sharpshooter Reggie Miller, who canned 2,560 long-range shots over his own 18-year Hall of Fame career. Miller used to hold the all-time NBA record for made three-pointers. Allen passed him up in February 2011 – and has drilled nearly 400 more long-range shots in the three calendar years since. It appears to be only a matter of time before Allen becomes the NBA's first-ever Mr. 3,000. And as Allen continues to show, time doesn't seem to affect him like it does other players. The prolific three-pointer records don't end there, however. Allen has also drained eight or more three-pointers in a single game an NBA-record nine times. This season, he's hit at least three three-pointers in 10 different games, including four in three of those games. Allen's career success rate from long-range, an even 40 percent, is also exceptional. He's shot 40 percent or better from behind the three-point arc in 8 different seasons, including a team-leading 41.9 percent in the HEAT's franchise-record-setting and NBA Championship-winning drive last season. And better yet, his prolific presence seemed to be contagious. With Allen in the HEAT fold for the first time in 2012-13, the club set a new franchise record with 717 made three-pointers. Allen, naturally, led the way with 139 of them. Bolstered by Allen's sweet stroke from behind the three-point arc, the HEAT also led the Eastern Conference – and finished second to only Golden State in the entire NBA – with a blistering 39.6-percent success rate from long-range, and routinely put games out of reach with the long-ball en route to a franchise-record and NBA-best 66 wins. The three-pointer continued to be a vital component of the HEAT's arsenal in the postseason, keying a drive to the franchise's second consecutive and third overall NBA Championship. Of course, none of those playoff three-pointers was bigger than Allen's game-tying, season-saving, step-back shot to force overtime in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals. It's amazing enough to play 18 seasons at the game's highest level. It's even more amazing to average 10 points or more in each of those seasons – something Allen will have accomplished if he can up his current average of 9.0 points by one point over the season's final 25 games. He's scored 10 or more points in 23 games this season, including at least 15 points seven times. Allen's most prolific scoring game this season came in a December 23, 2013 overtime win over division rival Atlanta, with each one of his 19 points proving crucial in a 121-119 victory. Allen started in place of Wade in that game, and went on to hit 7-of-10 shots from the field and 4-of-5 free throws, also pulling down six rebounds in 34 minutes of action. Allen was exceptional throughout the month of December, averaging 10.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.1 steals and 25.6 minutes in 14 games. Allen connected on 51 percent of his field goal attempts in those 14 games, and drained 92.3 percent of his free throws. Allen has also flashed his patented late-game "closing" skills once again this season. In the aforementioned Dec. 23 overtime win over the visiting Atlanta Hawks, Allen was fouled on a three-point shot attempt with the HEAT trailing 111-108 with 8 seconds remaining in regulation. Allen calmly swished all three free throws, and the game went to overtime. The HEAT went on to earn a 121-119 win, with fellow bench spark plug Chris Andersen scoring three of their final five points. In a Dec. 30, 2013 road game in Denver, Allen scored six of his 13 points over the final 5:08 of the game, helping the HEAT earn a hard-fought 97-94 win on James' 29th birthday – and without the services of Andersen, who was held out with a sore back. In a Feb. 5 road game in Los Angeles, Allen silenced the Staples Center crowd and helped the HEAT top the surging Clippers by scoring 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter. Allen was also the lone HEAT player to go all 12 minutes of that decisive final quarter, and a primary reason the HEAT escaped with a 116-112 win. Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who coached Allen for five seasons when both men were with the Boston Celtics, said after the game that Allen can "run forever." Of course, Allen has also worked his long-range and late-game magic in several crucial, compelling postseason performances. Twice in his storied career, he's nailed a NBA Playoffs-record nine three-pointers in a single game – dropping 41 points to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 110-100 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on June 1, 2001 and scoring a playoff career-high 51 points as his Boston Celtics dropped a 128-127 thriller to the Chicago Bulls on April 30, 2009. Allen also stands as the only man to drain eight three-pointers in a single NBA Finals game, and his 32 points in Game 2 of the 2010 NBA Finals helped the Celtics beat the host Lakers 103-94 to knot the series at 1-1. The Lakers would go on to win that thrilling series 4-3, avenging a loss to Allen and the Celtics a few seasons earlier. But what HEAT fans – and Allen himself – will remember and cherish most was Allen's game- and season-saving three-pointer in the waning moments of regulation during Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals. With the HEAT trailing the San Antonio Spurs 95-92 and just seconds away from their season coming to an end in front of their loyal fans, Allen took a perfect pass from Chris Bosh, floated back to a spot just behind the three-point arc in the right corner, and rose up to nail a season-saving, game-tying and momentum-shifting shot that he would later call "the shot that I'm going to remember for a long time." The shot knotted the game at 95-95 with 5.2 seconds left on the clock, and sent the white-clad AmericanAirlines Arena crowd into delirium. It also seemed to stun the Spurs, who would go on to lose the game 103-100 in overtime. The HEAT would go on to win Game 7 and claim back-to-back World Champion status, clawing back from a 3-2 NBA Finals hole to emerge on top of the basketball world. But that shot, in the closing moments of Game 6, stands as the defining moment of a brilliant NBA Finals series. Not only was it massive in magnitude, but Allen's deft footwork and uncanny sense of time and space amidst the chaos of those closing seconds ensured that it will always be remembered and related in league lore. "You can't put it into words," said Bosh afterwards. "He's the best three-point shooter of all time. And the fact that he was open is just unbelievable. He kept our season alive." Allen would finish his most recent postseason run with his second NBA Championship ring and sole possession of the all-time NBA Playoffs three-pointer mark. He passed Reggie Miller up for that distinction in the HEAT's first-round win over his old Bucks team, and will enter the 2014 NBA Playoffs with 352 career postseason three-pointers – none bigger than that last one. Until the next one, that is. Because when it comes to Allen, there's always more in store. There's always another game to be played. There's always another big shot waiting in the wings. Or atop the arc. Allen turns 39 on July 20, and he would love nothing more than to celebrate his second NBA Championship in a HEAT uniform shortly before that birthday. Whether he reaches that goal or not remains to be seen. But one thing is beyond a shadow of a doubt: He'll give it his very best shot.
  5. Every so often in the world of basketball a new "King" is crowned. The "King of Basketball", in my mind, is the guy who is considered the greatest player in the game at that time. There's been a few cats who could make the claim; Mikan, Cousy, Wilt, Russell, Oscar, Kareem, Larry, Magic, MJ, Hakeem, Shaq, Duncan, Bryant, and now LeBron. But the man who truly sits on the "throne", is the "King of Kings". This is the individual who the world generally regards as the greatest player of All-Time. Some call it the GOAT... It's a very small fraternity. While many players can claim to have held the crown as the best in the game, I just named 14 and may have missed a few, less than a handful have ever spent time on the proverbial "throne". .Considering many factors, there may be only two worthy names. Wilt Chamberlain was that guy from around his rookie year in '59 when the world had never seen anything like him. And Michael Jordan probably finally assumed the title not long after he'd put in around 10 seasons in the early 90's, and has held the title for a quarter century since. So it was Wilt for 30 years and Mike for 25. Because most of us watching basketball today never actually witnessed Wilt, and many of us did see MJ in all his glory, most of us tend to believe Mike is the all-time greatest. I felt that way until now. And there is some data to back that notion up. Perhaps the data weighs in Wilts favor a bit, but not overwhelmingly so. That may be the case for the games newest greatest of All-Time. The data may not weigh in his favor over MJ in every comparison, but the entire picture may allow us to see past that, just as we have in MJ's case as we've elevated him past Wilt. I believe that time is upon us. Just as it took Mike around a decade before we crowned him the GOAT, it has taken Lebron James a decade to pass him up. So essentially, Mike's just been keeping the throne warm until King James took his rightful seat... Yeah, I realize it may sound like basketball blasphemy, but there is ample evidence to support this assessment. Below are 10 examples of how Lebron has surpassed MJ as the greatest to ever do it... EXHIBIT A: BIGGER, FASTER, STRONGER. Obviously MJ was an undeniably phenomenal athlete in his own right. 6'6" & 205 lbs. of incomparable tenacity. In his prime, he was reported to be able to cover 40 yards in under 4.4 seconds and had a vertical jump of nearly 45 inches. So MJ was certainly no slouch. But... This kid LeBron as an athlete? In the history of athletics on this planet, it's possible Lebron reigns supreme as the best athlete ever, with a never before seen combination of speed, strength, size, jumping ability, vision, elusiveness, dexterity, understanding, etc, etc, etc... You get the point... Here's the raw data... 6'5 and a half inch MJ versus 6 foot 9 inch James. At least an extra 3 inches for James and it may actually be closer to 4... Consider this, at 240 pounds when he came into the league at 18, Bron was 20 pounds more than Mike as a 39 year old when he played in Washington at around 220. Now what James weighs after a decade of maturation and weight room exposure is anyone's best guess. DWade's old personal trainer worked with James a few off-seasons back and leaked his reported weight to be 267. It looks to me like he's played a bit slimmer the past couple seasons but to believe he weighs every bit of 260 is no stretch of the imagination. Two Hundred Sixty pounds with a 40 inch vertical jump... I have basketball cards of MJ where his weight was 198, 200, and 205. So for the sake of comparison we'll say 205 for MJ to 260 for Bron Bron. +55 pounds. Or if you have a little brother, probably about the difference in weight between you two... Mike was small... Back then to be honest, everyone was. Turn on an old school game on NBA TV or Classic Sports. Dudes were skinny. Even the guys who we thought back then were diesel! Weights didn't become a norm in the world of hoops until the 80's, and when Mike was in high school and college the Nautilus system and leaper machine may have been all that was available. As a result, we didn't see him bulk up a bit until the early 90's after Detroit was killin' him and the league was letting them get away with it. So bigger and stronger obviously go to James in a landslide. As for faster, although MJ was reported to have a near 4.3 40 time, I never once heard a player or announcer call him the fastest man in the league. I have heard that for James numerous times. And with the ball or without he's shown flashes where it's hard to argue. But it's not just the speed in which the man runs, it's also the unbridled energy he builds in the process. I'm not sure the league has ever seen any thing like it. Certainly not at this size... When the argument of who would win in one on one comes up, you tell me who's posting up whom, the 6'6" guy posting the 6'9" or vice-versa. Who's winning the rebound battle the shorter slower guy or the bigger faster man? And who's contesting on jumpers better, the little guy or big guy? So why again would MJ win 9 out of 10 Mr.Barkley??? Forget the intangibles. Anyone go out and play a guy who's equal in skill to you, but much bigger and a little faster, and tell me how that turns out...Bron would have his way with Mike due to the massive size disparity and athleticism gap. EXHIBIT B: AGE SCENARIO Age is a factor that doesn't receive much consideration by basketball fans but it should. GM's are always mindful of a players age understanding players over 23 years old in the draft never tend to fare so well. On the other hand, the NBA has an age limit that trespasses on the rights, to some degree, of young players because the league understands the pitfalls of owners drafting too young as well. So age is an ever present factor. Just as it has been in LeBron James' quest for Michael Jordan's top spot. James came into the league as an 18 year old kid fresh outta high school, albeit a 240 lb. one. Jordan came into the league after three years of high quality college ball at 20 years old. In the history of the NBA and ABA, there have been numerous players go straight from high school to the pros. Some of the bigger names are Moses Malone, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tracy MacGrady, Jermaine O'Neal, Tyson Chandler, Eddie Curry, Kwame Brown, Dwight Howard, Darius Miles, Amare Stoudamire, DeShawn Stevenson, Sebastian Telfair, Josh Smith, JR Smith, Shaun Livingston, Gerald Green, etc... Then there's LeBron. He came in like no other high schooler ever. Moses was the best up to that point putting up 18 and 16 at 19 years old playing against men, but he played in the hyper paced ABA. KG had the best rookie year as a HSer before Bron in the NBA and he only averaged 10.4, or half the points per game as the young James at 20.9... Only two players in the history of the game had ever averaged at least 20 points 5 assists and 5 rebounds per game as a rookie. Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan. Lebron became the third--one year removed from high school. (side note: Since then a 4th man has done it but his game is ugly, his career has spiraled in the wrong direction, and he really doesn't deserve mention in this article so I'll spare you. If you know who it is, I'm sorry for bringing up the thought of comparing him to these three legends. If you don't know who it is, good. Let's move So both cats came into the league as phenoms with expectations and they exceeded them. LeBrons expectations compared to Jordans were ten-fold. Bron was being called the greatest high school player ever and was waiting to enter the league really since his junior year in high school. Bron was the first pick as a result. Jordan was the third pick behind Hakeem and Bowie after having his college career highlight come in his freshmen season when he hit a buzzer beater in the championship, then failed to match that level of clutchness again, failing to advance his team past the Elite 8 the next two seasons, so he entered the draft early. Had Jordan entered the NBA straight out of Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina after one season of national level acclaim but only local competition, there's no telling how he would have fared in the NBA, but we can probably say with a good level of certainty that he wouldn't have done as well as he did after learning from Mr. Smith. Nor would he have done as well as LeBron did coming out of SVSM in Akron Ohio... EXHIBIT C: COACHING SCENARIO Intertwined with the age scenario that gave Jordan a leg up on his younger competitor, he also enjoyed a considerable advantage when it came to the coaches he was handled by throughout the years. Because Bron came in as a youngster out of grammar school, the best coach he ever had as a young man was Dru Joyce, his childhood friends father and high school coach. He didn't go to college and benefit from the tutelage of the likes of a Dean Smith or Coach K or Roy Williams or Larry Brown or a Bobby Knight type of guy. He had his little buddy Dru Jr.'s dad coaching him up! No disrespect to Coach Dru because he obviously did a fantastic job handling the kid, but I think we can all agree he's no Dean Smith... Obviously Mike was coached by that Legendary coach at the equally Legendary North Carolina University. That kind of foundation served Mike well, just as it did numerous other NBA players. In fact Coach Smith prepped players for the NBA better than he built championship caliber teams. Go back and check his record, he had copious players get drafted and play in the league, but only won 2 championships in 36 years of coaching at Carolina with all of that talent. It took him 21 years to win his first... After Mike left NC he went to Chicago and was coached by longtime NBA guys in Kevin Loughery, Stan Albeck and Doug Collins. Some might even say Doug Collins is a better coach than any coach LeBron has had in his 10 year career. I wouldn't go that far, but we all can agree he was never coached by the likes of Phil Jackson. Mike benefited nearly immediately from their relationship, winning a title in their second year together and would go on to get 6 with Phil and only Phil. Just like Kobe Bryant. Only Phil was able to take their style of gunner/prolific scorers and integrate it into the team concept with out disruption. In the meantime, LeBron having been coached by Paul Silas, Brendan Malone, Mike Brown and Eric Spoelstra begged the question; was he being helped or hurt by coaching? The last two are both terrific defensive coaches but most would agree, overall they lack the pedigree or understanding that Phil Jackson could offer a player. In short, we should all agree that Lebron was the loser in the coaching scenario. EXHIBIT D: PRIOR TO NBA ACCOLADES & OLYMPIC SUCCESS Since the topic of young age is still fresh on your mind, lets explore what each player meant to their teams outside of the NBA and how they were perceived nationally. Because Bron didn't play college ball we can't compare what they did collegiately. I like to look at how much more complete of a player James is versus Durant, as indicated by a gap in PER of over 3 points, and how Durant totally dominated in college. He made it look so easy...I can only think James would've made it look something like that. I do think LeBron may have had more success as a team then Durant as well, and may have been more like Greg Oden in that regard. Mike was nice a freshman and hit the game winner but the best player in the country was his teammate James Worthy. His sophomore year he lost to Georgia, (without Dominique who had left a year early to enter the draft with Worthy) and was 1st team all NCAA, but the best player in the country was Sam Perkins, his teammate. In his Junior year when he was the nations best player, NC lost in the sweet 16 to Bob Knight and Uwe Blab. Remember him? Yeah, he was tall but kinda garbage... So Mike was a great college player but I can't envision LeBron playing more than one season had he gone, nor him averaging 13 points and 2 assists per game as a freshman like Mike. Bron probably would've projected out to something like an average line of 23ppg, 9 reb, and 6 ast with 2 steals and 5 Sportcenter highlights per game... In high school, the overblown story of MJ being cut as a Sophomore has become legendary. I always considered it irrelevant storyline material. He played JV as a sophomore, so what? Many of us had to earn our ropes back in those days. No biggie. But... LeBron averaged 25, 7 and 6 with 4 steals while shooting 58% against varsity competition as a 10th grader...Those crazy varsity numbers versus a dude who his coach wasn't even sure was gonna make a difference on his varsity squad is quite a gap... Brons HS stats... Bron was named 1st team All-American as a Sophomore playing a National schedule in 10,000 seat arenas winning Naional Championships. He was the only player to be named a 3 time 1st team All-American in the history of SLAM magazine and only he and Greg Oden have been named Player of the Year twice. So the argument of best high school player between Bron and Mike is clear. LeBron ALL DAY... Had Bron played college ball, based on the Durant one year model, it's safe to assume he would have been the superior collegian as well. And in the Olympics, while MJ paved the road for modern basketball globally with the Dream Team, Lebron has proven to be the greater Olympian as well. Both have 2 Golds and LeBron also has a Bronze because old school Larry Brown refused to make a 19 or 20 year old James the face of the team. James is also the only man in the history of the US Olympic team to ever have a triple-double. A feat Jordan didn't even accomplish versus much weaker comp... As for Olympic team play, the competition really isn't comparable. While Jordans teams rarely saw NBA players while playing internationally, the Olympic players of Lebrons era encountered teams with an average of 5 or 6 NBA players per team, raising the possibility for failure that much higher. The Dream Team played no NBA comp and won by an average of 43 PPG- 117 to 74 The 2012 Team played much NBA comp and won by an average of 33 PPG- 116 to 83 2012 yielded more points per game due to way better comp,but scored the same regardless of better comp. Pat Riley was quoted as saying he believed the 2012 team would've ran the '92 team off the court for numerous reasons like age and health conditions of Bird and a newly announced HIV infected and retired player in Magic Johnson. He sighted better shooting all-around for today's Olympic team and also proclaimed LeBron to be the BOAT (Best Of All Time)... We have a thread on the forums about it here... So outside of the NBA, LeBron James has been the superior performer in comparison to Michael Jordan. When we say the greatest player of All-Time do we mean the greatest to ever play the game? Or do we just mean the greatest to play in the NBA? If it's the game overall, then not only does Lebron have a solid argument, then I may need to write a million page blog about Kareem Abdul Jabbar as well... EXHIBIT E: TEAMMATE SCENARIO We've touched upon the fact the Michael was the beneficiary of the superior coaching having had Dean Smith and the NBA's reputed best ever in Phil Jackson. Now we'll analyze each players teammates to see who was receiving greater assistance and who was doing the heavy lifting. The season before LeBron popped onto the Cleveland scene the Cavaliers had won 17 games. They were 17-65. The season before MJ got to Chicago, the Bulls were 27-55. So both teams were in desperate need of a savior. The Cavs even more-so. Upon joining their new teams they each elevated their franchises. Mikes team won 38 games his rookie year, or +11 from the year before him, and James team won 35 games. 18 more than they had won the previous year, so they more than doubled their success when he arrived. Advantage Bron... MJ's team did make the playoffs his rookie year, which James didn't until year 3, but their records were close, which we'll analyze later, and it's rare that a team gets into the playoffs with fewer than 40 victories. Additionally, in year two, MJ injured his foot and only played in 18 contests. His team still made the playoffs with 30 wins despite that! So that speaks to the strength of the Eastern conference back then, if not the entire NBA. Only LA, Boston and Philly were strong... Jordan came back and set an all-time playoff scoring record of 63 points versus Boston in round 1 of a playoff sweep that had much to do with his Legend then and now. The record still stands, but his team got swept! In fact, he played Bird twice in the playoffs and went an astounding 0-6! We forget that part, but fondly remember the 63 piece and Mike going between the legs 4 or 5 times in an iso vs. Larry...That's the power of television... And I'm afraid our standards have changed. If LeBron were to have an unbelievable night in any type of playoff loss in this era, we'd have three days of Skip and Stephen A. telling us how he lacked the Clutch gene, and every minion in America chiming in on social media telling us how MJ or Kobe woulda got it done... On top of Mike's team making the playoffs without him in '86, they also won 55 games the year he retired in '94. In contrast, LeBron's Miami Heat team went on to win 66 games in year 3 of his arriving on South Beach, while his former team the Cleveland Cavs have won 64 combined in the 3 years since his departure...That should speak volumes but for some reason we don't hear much about it. It's very relevant when comparing the abilities and strengths of the two players teammates... So team impact advantage apparently goes to James as well... It's important to establish the fact the league was weaker in the early eighties when MJ came in, and his teams had more success without him than Brons did without his presence. By the late 80's the league had solidified, then was hit with a wave of expansion that watered it down for a decade. MJ's decade... In regards to teammates, it's hard to make the argument that Jordan played with better individual talent. Mike played with some serious bums in his early days and he carried those dudes. In his first two seasons, his best teammate was Orlando Woolridge and Quentin Dailey was second. O had a PER of 19.5 the first two seasons with Mike, and Dailey was around 15. The year MJ was injured Chicago brought in the Iceman, George Gervin, and he picked up some slack with a near 17 PER season. As a rook, Bron played with the best "top of the roster" talent he did his entire time in Cleveland. A young, up and coming Carlos Boozer was playing at a 20.8 PER level and Biq Z was going strong at 20.2. It wasn't until he got to Miami that he was able to enjoy another pair of teamates who played such efficient NBA games. But Booz opted out in free agency the next year and Bron was left with Big Z as his best teammate for the rest of his time in Cleveland. Z was no slouch now...his PER's went like this, 20.2, 19.5, 21.9, 18.0, 18.7, 18.0 so he was serviceable, even if less than dynamic. When they brought in Shaq he helped but played about at Z's level with a 17.9 season in his one year there and suffered an injury that affected the team negatively in the playoffs. Jamison was at a 16.7 level...And Mo Williams was a nice fit with LeBron in the regular season. But the talent around James in Cleveland was pretty ordinary. Jordans best sidekicks some years were some pretty average dudes as well. Sedale Threat, Charles Oakley, John Paxson, Dave Corzine. Brad Sellers. When Chicago brought in Horace Grant and Scott Pippen, things started to get interesting. Those two really pushed each other for three years until Pippen started to get some separation as the 2nd most important player on the Bulls and the PERs showed. In his 4th year his PER jumped to a 20.6 and it basically stayed at or better than that level for the better part of a decade. In comparison Grant had one season in his career over 20 PER. The only other time when MJ had two teammates pull a 20+ PER in the same season was when Kukoc had 20.4 seasons in the first two of the second three-peat years. It could be said that as a trio, MJ, Pip, and Grant or Kukoc was better than any trio LeBron had played with until coming to South Beach... DWade is clearly the best player either Jordan or James had ever played with as he functions around a superstar like 25 PER even with James on the court. This last season was the first time in Miami that Bosh was at a 20.0 level after seeing those numbers regularly while in Toronto. His 19.4, 18.9, and 20.0 in his 3 Miami seasons would indicate that he is the best third cog that either MJ or Bron was ever able to play with as well. Unfortunately, age isn't on the side of the Miami trio like it was for the Bulls Big 3's, so winning 6 in this more parity laden league would likely seem impossible if some type of moves aren't made or Wade's health doesn't suddenly improve miraculously. When Jordans advantage for teammates got strong was with the second three peat group. They replaced Grant with a young, crisp passing Toni Kukoc and added the games best rebounding force in then 2 time Champ, Dennis Rodman. They also signed quality Bigman Bison Dele for a hot minute and had a savvy veteran in Ron Harper. Steve Kerr was the games best shooter ever by the numbers until Steve Nash recently clipped him, so the Bulls were stacked late in the 90's. And it didn't hurt that the league had added 6 teams in nine years, 4 in the Eastern Conference, which made the route Chicago needed to navigate that much easier. In the long run the teammate argument may be a push or even an advantage for James now that free agents are making it their business to get in on the King's annual pageants. We'll have to watch this one going forward... But for now we'll give the slight advantage to MJ for getting to play with the best rebounder ever by percentages in Rodman, the most versatile small forward ever until James in Pippen, and the best shooter ever in Steve Kerr. The fact that they complimented his game style so well, as compared to Wade and Bron having closer playing styles, tips the advantage to Jordan for me. But this one's close... EXHIBIT F: LEAGUE STRENGTH & PEER COMPETITION We just touched on the fact that the NBA added 6 teams in a nine year span during the middle of MJ's career. The first expansion proved to be most beneficial for the Bulls. In 1988 there were 23 teams in the league. In '89 they added Miami and Charlotte. The next year, 1990, they added Minnesota and Orlando. Three of the four original expansion teams of MJ's era were in his conference meaning his teams faced those fledgling squads at least 12 games per year for the first 3 or 4 seasons of their existence. This is when the Bulls started averaging around 60 wins a year. The next expansion came in 1996 bringing the league total to 29 with the addition of Toronto and Vancouver, and we saw a 72 win team in a highly watered down league. There are 15 roster spots per team. 15x6=90. 90 extra players who had previously not qualified for playing in the NBA were added in a 6 year period. Some to the end of teams benches or moved around in trades, others as starters on new squads. As a result play suffered. This isn't a new phenomenon. When the league added 4 teams in the early 60's there was an explosion of league wide and individual scoring that led to Wilts 50 ppg season, Elgins 38ppg season, and Oscars triple-double average season all in 1962... If you had a 24 ounce bottle of Vodka and added 6 ounces of water to it, would it still have the same potency? That's essentially what happens in sports expansion and Mike benefited big time. On the other hand there has only been one team added to the league since James came in. That was in 2005 when Charlotte got a team back. They have been horrible and James teams have beaten up on them just like Jordan did expansion clubs back in the day, but the irony of it all is that this time, Jordan actually owns this horrible franchise! ​Individually, we all love to glorify our spots heroes from our youth, but when we look at the numbers objectively with every player being subjected to the same standards, we find our memories may serve us poorly. I utilize PER for most comparisons because it's the most simple, understandable, all-in-one type of metric we have at our disposal that indicates what type of overall effect a player had in the game. Based on PER metrics we find some things that might be surprising. We find that while LeBron and Jordan have been in the league only three other players have had seasons with a PER of 30.0 or better. Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, and David Robinson. Jordan never played against 67% of those guys... In fact, Paul is the only PG ever with a 30 PER season under his belt, and David Robinson had his 30+ season the year that Michael Jordan sat out, so technically, Mike never played against any peers who were truly playing at his super elite level. Likewise, there were only three players during MJ's era that averaged 30 ppg, while 5 of the LeBron era guys have done it and Melo is knocking at the door... Another shocker for a lot of people is that David Robinson was the best player MJ played against in his entire career, despite the lack of fanfare he has received for it. Win shares and PER backs it up... The Admiral had a 30.6, a 29.13, and led the league with a 29.41 in the same year MJ was second at 29.35. No other player Mike ever played against even played at a 29.0 level... Funny how the media shapes our perceptions isn't it?? Now maybe if David had played in LA or NY things may have been different... Shaq was probably MJ's next best peer but their careers really didn't cross paths much. O'Neals three best years were the three years MJ was in his 2nd or 3rd retirement before coming back to Washington. Shaq had three straight 30.0+ PER seasons while Mike looked on from outside. Shaq did have some strong 28+ PER seasons while MJ was still around and happened to bounce Mike out of the playoffs ending his Cinderella comeback in '95. Mike averaged a stellar 30, 7 and 6 or something gaudy like that and still failed to advance his team past the behemoth known as the Big Aristotle. Had MJ and the Bulls had to deal with Hakeem in the NBA Finals in '94 and '95 I'm not sure it would've been much different. Remember, right after Shaq did the Bulls and his Airness in in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Magic were quickly dispensed of in 4 games by Olajuwon's Rockets while Hakeem dazzled like no other big man had in decades. MJ wasn't stoppin' that! 4 guys, Robinson, Shaq, Barkley and Malone are the only players with 28 PER or better seasons during Mikes run. Obviously Magic and Bird were close on occasion and also clear cut elite players. So 6 elite peers total and the real winners, Magic and Bird both suffered from tragic downfalls which ended their ability to compete against Jordan for titles. Birds back gave out in '88 and Magic announced he had HIV in 92... 6 men, DWade, Chris Paul, Durant, Kobe, Dirk, and KG all did it while Brons been in the league, and McGrady, Shaq, Duncan, Dwight Howard have all been close as well. So Bron has seen 10 elite level peers in his 10 years. At least 9 if you don't consider TMac elite... So when we look at league wide competition the league is better now. Next year no less than 10 teams have a legit argument of why they can win it all...No these teams aren't better than the 80's Lakers and Celtics but neither were MJ's teams. Plus like I mentioned Mike never beat Bird after being swept in the playoffs twice, and he never beat Magic while he and Kareem formed the leagues best tandem ever. Another little known fact fact, MJ never even beat Magic while he was teamed up with supercoach Pat Riley, because the year that Mike and Earvin faced in the Finals, the highly heralded Mike Dunleavy was at the helm of the Lakers depleted bench. MJ just toyed with the injury riddled Lakers, but Magic still averaged a near triple double of 19 10 and 10 for the series as well... We remember it the way we do because history is being sold, not told... Obviously Nike has been the biggest sales force behind the Jordan legend, but I like to look at more than flashy sneakers and highlight videos. It is interesting to ponder what Converse's fate in all of this might have been had Bird and Magic not been sidelined and continued to dominate Michael Jordan and his one-man show. Would Nike be what it is today? Would Converse still be a player in the sneaker game? One will never know, but but we do know Nike now owns Converse. Literally... Nike acquisition In 2003, Nike bought Converse brand name for around $305 million.[8] While Converse dominated the U.S. sneaker market from the 1920s until the 1970s, it began to struggle due to competition and lack of funds But some hoop fans want to get down to the bare essence of this game we all love. Not just trivial things like sneakers... I assume you as the reader is one of those people or you wouldn't have made it to this point of the piece... Thanks for taking the time... EXHIBIT G: ACCOLADES Judging a player based on accolades, All-Star teams, or public awards has some pitfalls we need to address up front. Firstly, often times the award recipients are picked based on popularity rather than reality. We see this regularly with the media voting for the annual MVP, Rookie, Coach of the Year, and Defensive Player of the Year Awards. It's not that they don't get it right most of the time, it's just that there have been clear cut cases where they missed the backboard entirely! Because the media guys write stories for a living, they tend to gravitate towards voting for the guy with the best story-line rather than best game or most impact. So sometimes accolades need to be taken with a grain of salt, but in these two guys cases, they're pretty accurate. Also, Jordan's career spanned the course of 19 years from 1984 up to 2003, so it's reasonable to believe that Lebron, at 28 yrs old, still has a good deal to accomplish. He may have 5 other-worldly years and another 4 or 5 solid seasons left until retirement. Looking how Kobe has benefited from modern medicine, who knows, we may see Bron for the next 12 or 13 years... He is a tank... The fact he still has much to accomplish shouldn't be viewed as a deterrent for naming him the best player ever, or calling the GOAT. It's a bonus. He's already done more than Mike did by the time we had proclaimed Mike the best ever. What he does from now forward will just be evidence that we were right to change our opinions and crown James the games greatest... Here are some findings in regards to the accolade battle... In their first 8 playoff attempts, both players had won 2 NBA Finals MVP Trophies. Mike won 5 total Regular season MVP's and LeBron has won 4 so far. Mike won his 5 over the course of an 11 year span, whereas James has won his 4 in the past 5 seasons. Mike won back2back MVP's once, and LeBron's done it twice. The MVP looks like it's also James' to lose in 2014 and if he does accomplish the award three-peat, he'll join Wilt, Russell, and Bird as the only players to ever accomplish that feat of dominance. Notice: No Mike on that 3 peat list... But MVP voting can be bogus, that's why this next data matters... Based on Win Shares per 48 minutes, of the 5 best seasons an MVP has ever had in the NBA, LeBron has had 2 of those 5 years and MJ has had 1. Kareem accounted for the #1 and #2 seasons ever, while Lebrons' season last year was #3, His 2009 season in Cleveland #5 ever, and Jordans 1st Championship year 1991 was 4th best... Of the top 10 most dominant MVP years, James has 4 seasons and MJ 3 of the campaigns. Kareem has 2 and Wilt 1... So James has clearly EARNED his 4 MVP trophies. Perhaps more-so than any multiple winner ever... MJ won two of his MVP trophies when he put in the 16th and 35th rated win share seasons ever. Those years may have been popularity contests where Mike had the best cologne on or something... It looks like LeBron will win at least one more MVP matching Jordan and could see 3 or 4 more, so based on the number of MVP trophy's and strength of the season in which he won them, LeBron is the king of the MVP vote. He also had one MVP where he had a record all but one single writers votes, and that guy musta been paid off by Jordan to vote for anybody but LeBron! Mike never came close to a unanimous vote. Bron should've had at least one and was the closest ever... Another area where Mike may have benefited, but not nearly as much as Kobe Bryant, was the All-Defensive teams. Kobe was named 1st team All-Defensive more than anyone ever, and has absolutely no stats to back up the love he received. MJ was rightfully All-D 10 times to Bron's 5 so far. I'd be surprised if James gets more than 10, he may tie that number, but they kept him off a few years that he probably should've been on it. If you compare the advanced numbers of Kobe and Bron on those seasons you'll see what I mean... Mike was All-NBA 1st team 10 times and 2nd team once. LeBron has 7 1st team nods and two on the 2nd team to this point. I think he'll pass Mike in this area. This is voted for by the coaches so it's a bit more relevant than MVP in some ways. Mike played in 13 All-Star Games over 19 years and Brons already been in 9 out of 10 years. In those All Star games, only two players ever have accomplished a triple-double game. MJ and LeBron. Here's Mikes stat line... 5/14 FG's 14 pts, 11 rebs, 11 ast Here's Bron's stat line..10/18 FG's,29 pts, 12 rebs, 10ast I hate to dwell on singular game performances, and they don't hand out awards for one game output either, but this matchup is a bit more comparable as the stage was similar. SIDENOTE: Much of Mikes Legend was attributed to the handful of individually great games he produced. According to Gamescore he had the #1, 4, 7, 8, 13, 20, 24, 25, 27, 28 and 32nd most dominant individual games ever. Brons best was the 34th top individual game and he's only had 1 in the top 50. Mike had 15 of the top 50...But these are singular games in marathon like seasons... Both players were named NBA Rookie of the Year. James had 6 NBA Rookie of the Month Awards to Jordans 3, although during Jordan's era they gave out one rather than one per conference like now. NBA Player of the Month Awards MJ 16, LJ 25 NBA Player of the Week Awards MJ 25, LJ 43 So as far as accolades go, it's fair to say LeBron has either surpassed, or is right on the heels of where Jordan ended, and he still has much otherworldly basketball yet to play! EXHIBIT H: STATISTICS Statistics should confirm whether the above accolades were actually deserved or not. In the case of the two men in this comparison, the stats speak for themselves, as they should... The problem with statistics is that they're up for interpretation based on the readers understanding of those stats, and there's often times something lost in translation. People understand more points is better, more rebounds is better, etc., but they don't quite know how to contextualize the numbers. Advanced statistics can do a better job of creating context then traditional boxscore type stats, but they still leave some room for debate overall. I'll try to use some of each to show where MJ and LJ differ and how those differences can be looked at as a difference in the argument of who was the better player. To be sure, there hasn't been two players with better all around numbers than Jordan and James, (possibly with the exception of Wilt) in the games history, so a debate about stats could be looked at as a bit trivial. But when we're talking about a man having to get up and move out of the "throne" he's sat upon for a quarter century, it's paramount we look at all the pertinent information before making a decision about his future. But the evidence is mounting, Mike needs to start looking for new furniture! Here's the raw data: Stats: Career NBA 1072 1039 38.3 11.4 22.9 .497 0.5 1.7 .327 6.8 8.2 .835 1.6 4.7 6.2 5.3 2.3 0.8 2.7 2.6 30.1 Career NBA 765 764 39.7 9.9 20.1 .490 1.3 4.0 .337 6.5 8.6 .747 1.2 6.0 7.3 6.9 1.7 0.8 3.3 1.9 27.6 Ok so we see it's MJ with an average of 30 pts, 6 boards, and 5 dimes every night while he played 38 mpg and shot 23 times per night. LeBrons currently at 28 per game with 7 boards and 7 assists per contest while playing 40 minutes per and getting 20 shots off per game. Both stat lines obviously are crazy. Some things to mention though are again, with LeBron likely being just past the halfway point of his career some of these numbers will improve and others will likely fall. His scoring per game will probably be closer to 26 per when it's all said and done, and I don't think it will matter too much. The style differences between these two players account for the slight variances in stats, both boxscore and advanced, and it also plays a large part in the perceptions we have of each man. We'll explore that topic in a bit... What's clear is that kinda like Carmelo this year, and Kobe in the recent past, MJ was always interested in leading the league in scoring, whereas LeBron didn't seem to make that much of a priority. We see that MJ led the league in Field Goal attempts 9 times and was second twice. Bron has never led the league in total attempts in 10 years and doesn't appear he ever will. On the other hand, LeBron has been in the Top 10 league wide in assists on 6 occasions where Jordan only pulled that off once despite being a skilled passer. So they have had different on court basketball priorities. Bron is the best passing non-guard to ever play and MJ was the most lethal scorer ever. It's kinda apples and oranges, except that each player was very good at the other guys strengths as well... On the glass we see James has been a shade better despite playing further from the basket than MJ throughout most of his career. Some may say LeBron rebounds better than MJ because he's taller...But, because of where James has played on the court, particularly in Cleveland, it has kind of negated his height advantage when it comes to rebounding. As they begin to utilize his post game more in the next few years and play him at the 4, we may see a season where he actually averages 10 boards. Both players got to the FT stripe with the best. Mike was top 3 on 7 occasions and LeBron on 6 occasions already. Mike led the league in scoring 10 times, LeBron just once but has been top 3 on 7 occasions already, showing he can score with the best of them as well...He's just now coming into an understanding of how to best use his body and weapons in the most efficient manner he ever has, so scoring should continue to be as easy as ever too. That doesn't mean he'll attempt to score more, though. Just the same 27 to 30 on less shot attempts. Intelligent basketball... Advanced wise, it's awful close as well... Advanced Stats: Career NBA 1072 41011 27.9 .569 .509 4.7 14.1 9.4 24.9 3.1 1.4 9.3 33.3 118 103 149.9 64.1 214.0 .250 Career NBA 765 30374 27.6 .575 .524 3.7 17.6 10.8 34.4 2.3 1.7 12.1 31.7 116 102 104.8 47.8 152.6 .241 We see the PER's are nearly identical. LeBron will probably pass MJ this year or next and then come back to him towards the end of his run. Mike led the league in PER 7 times and Bron 6 already. They both have 4 seasons with an average of 31 PER indicating that our opinions are correct-- that they stand alone at the top. PER tends to be biased towards scoring but James makes up for it in other areas. We see what we thought. MJ had a better offensive rating at 118 to 116. Jordans best season was a 125.4 and LeBron was at 124.6 last year. Because James is now playing on better teams his offensive ratings will likely be quite impressive for the foreseeable future. He should catch MJ here... And defensively we see LeBron with the better numbers. A 102 rating to a 103 rating. It doesn't seem like much but when you glance at the win share totals you see James is creeping up fast on Jordans totals. Jordans at 149.9 offensive and 64 defensive. Brons at 104.8 offensively and 47.8 on D, So there's no question he'll surpass Mike here as well. Also, again, because he's playing with better talent around him his O and D ratings as well as win shares will likely go up as the gaudy win totals mount. Jordans per 48 minutes Win Share numbers edge LeBrons out for now, but they jumped in a major way after the addition of Rodman had his Bulls go on a 203-43 run over 3 years. In comparison, these Big 3 Heat have been pretty dominant and only have a 170-60 record in 3 years to show for it. More on that later... But numbers wise, as close as it is, LeBron's digits just edge Jordans out. What he does in the next 6 years could create a larger gap that makes the opinion in this piece seem even more valid. Mike has the scoring, but Bron has the defense, the boards, the dimes, the shooting percentages, and a few other numbers in his favor. Mike also has a career USAGE rate of 33.3 compared to LeBrons career 31.7 showing Lebron has done more with less touches. One season Mike had a nearly 40 usage rate. At that rate and the mastery level LeBron has entered at this point of his career, James would average even crazier numbers than Mike did...The highest USAGE season Lebron ever felt was necessary was 33.8 and that was the only year he ever led the league in usage. Mike led that category 8 times... EXHIBIT I: WIN LOSS RECORD & TEAM SUCCESS Here's yet another area that says Lebron has been the superior player. Unless wins don't matter... Through 10 seasons LeBrons teams have a regular season record of 519-285. 64.55% Compare that to a record of 487-328 for Chicago. 59.75% In MJ's first 10 seasons the Bulls played in 10 playoffs. Lebrons played in 8 playoffs. Despite that Lebrons teams have won more playoff series than Mike's, 19 to 13 total, and have a better win loss percentage at .638 to .587. Also in the first 10, Mike went to the Finals 3 times winning all 3 vs LA, Portland and Phoenix. James' teams went to 4 Finals losing to San An and Dallas, and won 2 of them vs OKC and San An. Like I mentioned earlier, when Rodman joined the Bulls for the second three peat the team went to a whole new level. But the MJ and LeBron team before that were very comparable. Look at this.. Year 1 both players teams are close- 35 to 38 wins. Year 4 both teams go 50-32. Lebron led his team to the NBA Finals before Mike however... Year 5 they both take a step back, 47 and 45 wins respectively. Year 6 they both jump up big. Bron to 66 wins, Mike to 55 wins. So Bron was also on a 60 win team before MJ... Year 7 both teams go 61-21. That was MJ's first championship year. That was Brons last year in Cleveland... So there were a lot of similarities with these guys teams, not to mention it's even more comparable when we consider they played in the same Conference and even the same division for much of their careers, seeing similar tempos and game patterns. If Miami re-signs the big 3 and adds good talent around them, they're poised to make a run at 200 wins in 3 years, but I'm not sure they can beat the Bulls 203-43 record. Pretty sure we'll never see Bron play on back2back 37 win teams at the end of his career either. So most likely Lebron will have the superior win-loss record by quite a bit at the end of the day. As for success. Some deem that only by the number of Championship rings a guy has. I'm not of that mindset. These guys play for 10 months and have to live, travel, confide, sweat, and bleed with each other. If you're going to do this for a period of your life, it's much better to have fun and enjoy the people you do it with. Teams that have losing records don't have fun. So they've both won in that regard. If rings are the main factor then someone needs to forever answer the question: why is Russell (11) routinely overlooked as best player ever, Sam Jones (10) is totally forgotten as best scoring guard ever, and Jerry West was called "Mr. Clutch" after losing 7 NBA Finals in 8 trips? With the comparison of rings, there are too many variables to judge individual players on that single area. Mike has his 6 which are again, part of his Legend. 6 for 6. We don't look at the variables around his 6. It's just 6 man!!! Just like it's supposed to be some type of empirical fact that Kobe is better than Bron because he has, like LA fans like to remind people...5 RINGS MANNNN!!!. B S... I wrote this blog a while back that may have cleared up some of the confusion about this... Bron may or may not get the 6 piece. It doesn't matter. He'll play in more Finals than Jordan and capitalize on that time in the white hot spotlight to carve out a lasting impression with a young generation of fans. Forget about the ring talk, the league manipulates all of that anyway. It's this last exhibit. Exhibit J, that will truly set LeBron apart from MJ at the end of the day... EXHIBIT J: STYLE OF PLAY That's right. Style of play. You say, "Well Jordan had the most beautiful style of play ever!" I'd say true... But if you said Jordan had the best style of play, I'd say false. If you said MJ had the most efficient style of play, I'd say no. If you said Jordan played a style of play that his teammates appreciated more than Lebrons teammates appreciate his style, I'd say absolutely not. If you said Jordan played a game that you would rather have young players pattern their games after, I'd say you're delirious... These are the things that make LeBron the greatest to ever play the game. From the first time most of us ever laid eyes on the kid from Akron, Ohio, the first thing that was immediately apparent is the kid could really pass the ball. Not an attribute that ordinarily receives much fanfare. But the fact that this kid could score at will, was a man among boys physically and game wise, yet still had the foresight to include his teammates in the winning process, and looked as though he truly enjoyed doing so, whipping passes around the court to players of less repute than him, is what set him apart from day one. It's also what will set him apart at the end of the day too... His style of play is what coaches try to get from players. Make the extra pass... Hit the open man... Engage in the correct basketball play... Share your successes and failures. He's the ultimate basketball role model for kids to pattern their games after. The next generation of players will grow up understanding that team basketball beats individual showmanship every time. It took MJ some years before Phil could convince him of that, and even when he did, they still had their struggles on some nights getting Mike to buy into the triangle and move the ball. LeBron understood the importance of team play from day one. 9 assists on his NBA debut night pretty much foreshadowed what he was all about... In the history of the NBA there has only been 25 men who have averaged 30 points per game for an entire season. Most of the time it takes a pretty "selfish" mentality to accomplish this feat...LeBron has done it twice. But only LeBron, and perhaps Jerry West and Tiny Archibald, could be considered "unselfish" players on that list of 25 men. That speaks volumes. Here we have a guy who can score at will pretty much like the best guy we've ever seen do it, MJ. Along with that we have a man with the court vision of the best to ever do it, Magic Johnson. Then you can throw in a player who can guard every player in the NBA reasonably well, like no other player ever. And that same man is possibly the most athletic specimen the planet has produced? Then look no further for the best player who ever played the game of basketball--LeBron James. The man on the throne...
  6. By Dylan Barmmer Homecomings can be a beautiful thing. Michael Beasley, the HEAT organization and HEAT fans alike all hope to be celebrating a successful homecoming for the talented young veteran this NBA season. If that homecoming party comes on the heels of a joyous Championship celebration alongside the NBA’s reighning back-to-back Champs? Even better. There is no question Beasley has the skills to help the HEAT celebrate a third consecutive NBA Championship at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season. The HEAT and their fan base know this better than anybody else. Beasley made his first foray into the professional basketball ranks when the HEAT selected him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, and the 6-foot-9.5-inch, 235-pound forward spent his first two NBA seasons in a HEAT uniform. Beasley was just 19 years old when he first joined the HEAT, and had played only one year of college basketball, starring at Kansas State and leading the nation in rebounding under the tutelage of Frank Martin, who previously coached fellow HEAT forward Udonis Haslem at Miami Senior High School. Beasley’s blend of size, strength, length, quickness, versatility and scoring ability – combined with his per-game averages of 26.2 points, 12.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks for the Wildcats – proved too enticing for the HEAT to pass up, and they made him the second pick of that 2008 Draft, behind only current Chicago Bulls star and then-University of Memphis standout Derrick Rose, who is also the only player not named LeBron James to win a NBA MVP Award over the past five seasons. Beasley played a vital role and put up strong numbers for the HEAT from the get-go, averaging 13.9 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting 47.2 percent from the field in 81 games, including 19 starts, during the 2008-09 NBA season. The field goal percentage remains a career high for Beasley, who averaged those 13.9 points in just 24.8 minutes per game. The HEAT finished 43-39 in Beasley’s rookie season, which was also the first season for Erik Spoelstra as the HEAT’s head coach. Beasley’s play certainly caught people’s attention around the league, and he was named to the All-Rookie First Team. In his second season with the HEAT, Beasley increased his scoring, rebounding and playing-time averages to 14.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 29.8 minutes per game, with his rebounding average ranking as a career high. He played in 78 games for the HEAT during that 2009-10 season, starting all 78 of them, and the club finished with a 47-35 record. Following his second season with the club, the HEAT traded Beasley to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a pair of second-round draft picks (2011 and 2014), and the move enabled the HEAT to free up enough salary cap space to sign then-free agents LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Mike Miller that same summer. While James and Bosh teamed with Dwyane Wade to lead the HEAT to three consecutive NBA Finals appearances, those same three seasons saw Beasley play key roles for the Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns, with his most productive professional season coming in his first year in Minnesota. Beasley averaged a career-high 19.2 points and 5.6 rebounds in a career-high 32.3 minutes a game for the Timberwolves during the 2010-11 NBA season, and exploded for 42 points and 9 rebounds in a 98-89 win over the Sacramento Kings on Nov. 10, 2010. When Beasley became available on the open market this offseason, the HEAT decided to give the versatile, aggressive big man another look, figuring his proven knack for providing instant offense – including his ability to play both forward positions and handle and shoot the ball with both hands – would help not only make up for the loss of veteran sharpshooter Miller, but provide added depth in the frontcourt rotation as the club prepares to pursue a fourth consecutive NBA Finals appearance. Beasley did not disappoint in his first two preseason appearances for the HEAT, racking up 22 points and pulling down 7 rebounds in 28 high-energy minutes off the bench. The HEAT won both games, and Beasley connected on 8-of-16 field goals, including 7-of-12 from inside the 3-point arc. As talented as he is, and as productive as he has been, there is still so much room for improvement with Beasley, who possesses an intriguing blend of youth and professional experience. Beasley doesn’t even turn 25 until Jan. 9, 2014, yet he already has five seasons of NBA action and game experience under his belt. He’s also played for three different organizations – one on the East Coast, one in the Southwest, and one in the Midwest. Over those five seasons – playing for three different teams in three very different systems – Beasley boasts averages of 14.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.5 blocks, in just 26.4 minutes per game. He’s connected on 44.7 percent of his field goals – including 34.5 percent from behind the three-point arc – and 75.7 percent of his free-throw attempts. He’s drilled 30 or more 3-pointers in four of his five NBA seasons, including a career-high 60 during his prolific 2010-2011 season. Beasley even has valuable playoff experience, having averaged 11.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 0.6 blocks in 12 postseason games – including 5 starts – during his first stint with the HEAT. Put simply, Beasley has always produced on the court. Especially when it comes to scoring the ball. Then again, that’s what Beasley has always done in his basketball career. Beasley grew up starring and scoring for championship-caliber AAU teams alongside current Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant in the Washington, D.C. area, and was named the MVP of the 2007 McDonald’s High School All-American Game (one year after Durant won such honors in that showcase game). In his one season of college basketball, as a true freshman, Beasley not only led the country in rebounding, but his 26.2 points-per-game average was third best in the nation. He also led the nation in 40-point games (three), double-doubles (28), 30-point, 10-rebound games (13) and 20-point, 10-rebound games (22), and he ranks today as only the 27th player in NCAA Division I history to rack up 26 or more double-doubles in a single season. No less an authority than Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers is on record as saying, “I think one day he may lead the league in scoring.” The HEAT won’t look to Beasley to lead the league – or even the team – in scoring this season. But they will expect what he has always proven capable of providing each and every time he takes the floor: Instant offense. Aggressive energy. Tenacious rebounding. And excellent athleticism. Michael Beasley is back home again with the HEAT. And he’s ready to make the most of his second stint with the club.
  7. Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers game is totally bizarre. The game starts with a quick loan to fix a roof leaking some mysterious substance. The game progresses with the Heat down 27 points in Quarter 3, Cleveland is cheering, but when the Heat realize they drank the cool aide, they regroup with a great comeback. then, just as the Miami Heat gains a lead over Cleveland, a crazy fan runs out on the court. Security grab him by the seat of his pants and escort him away. When that doesn't work to distract the Heat, the Ref calls Mario Chalmers # 15 for a travel but over-looks an obvious walk by Tristan Thompson # 13. LeBron sees the "okee doke" and says "Oh no, I'm not falling in this trap, Pat Riley deserves better.". LeBron steps on the gas and guzzles his motorcade out of there. He throw some magic dust to accelerate his team. He says, "Come on boys let's get out of here." Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers, Chris Anderson, a/k/a Birdman, Shane Battier and the rest of the bench wake up to a 98-95 win over the Cavs. 24 straight wins and still counting. Now, they're gunning for the Lakers. Happy Birthday Pat Riley! One of the most nuturing coaches of all times, with the ability to gently yank and pull the very best out of a team. We love you we do. "Good Better Best, never let it rest, until your good is better and your better is the best. Fans and playmates, come out and play with us, we have 11 more games to win and 15 games to do it.
  8. This Blog is Dedicated to All The Real True Miami Heat Fans: I am an Independent Hip Hop Artist Double O and I Have the One & Only Radio Station For the Miami Heat. I need All My Miami Heat Fans to Support the Station. I have Created a Commercial to inform the Fans of the Station Please Support it and Spread the Word
  9. By Dylan Barmmer At this point, it's hard to even find a point to start – or finish – when it comes to discussing the all-around brilliance of LeBron James. In fact, James' brilliance has become so consistent, it's almost as if it's commonplace to HEAT fans. Turn on the game on TV, or slide into your seat at AmericanAirlines Arena, and you're bound to see the reigning NBA MVP, in the prime of his career at age 27 (he turns 28 just five days after Christmas), dominate the game and the opponent in just about every and all ways imaginable. At this point, it's as predictable and expected as a stunning South Florida sunset. It's just going to happen. And it's going to be a beautiful thing to behold. But as the HEAT approach a prime-time Christmas Day matchup (and 2012 NBA Finals rematch) with the equally white-hot Oklahoma City Thunder, why not take a few moments to truly savor the basketball genius that is LeBron James. If James was Santa Claus – and at 6-foot-8, 250 pounds, he'd have a hard time fitting down chimneys – here are just some of the many glistening gifts he has brought HEAT fans so far this season, hot on the heels of claiming the franchise's second NBA World Championship and first-ever NBA MVP Trophy: --As of Monday, Dec. 24, James is the only player in the NBA to currently lead his team in scoring (25.4 points per game), rebounding (8.5 rebounds per game) and assists (6.8 assists per game). --James' scoring average ranks fifth in the entire NBA and second in the Eastern Conference. His rebounding average ranks 17th in the NBA and eigth in the East. His assists average ranks 10th in the NBA and fifth in the East. --James is also the only non-guard in the NBA to rank in the top 10 in assists. In fact, the uber-versatile James is the only player in the top 35 who isn't listed as a backcourt player. --James has racked up 13 double-doubles, good for 10th in the entire NBA and fourth in the East. --James is one of just 13 players to compile a triple-double (26 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in a 105-101 loss at Washington on Dec. 4), and has narrowly missed out on several others. --In a 103-92 win over Minnesota on Dec. 18, James scored 22 points, dished 11 assists, grabbed 7 rebounds and blocked 4 shots. James became the first player to compile such a stuffed stat line in an NBA game since Hall of Famer Chris Mullin had 25 points, 13 assists, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks for Golden State on January 4, 1995. Oh, and James has compiled that same stat line or better four other times during that near- 18-year span. While not one other NBA player has managed to do so one time. --James has opened the season by scoring 20 points or more in each of the HEAT's 24 games. That is the longest such streak to start a season since Hall of Famer Karl Malone did so for Utah in 1989-90. (James' 20-point scoring streak actually stretches back to 29 consecutive regular-season games, and 45 straight overall games). --James has also gone each of the past 6 games without being whistled for a single personal foul. Despite his aggressive, intense, physical, hard-charging style of play, James has now played over 250 straight minutes without being called for a personal foul. --In the midst of his 20-point scoring streak, James has scored 30 or more points six times, including 3 games in December. --James has dished 7 or more assists 12 times. The HEAT are 9-3 in those 12 games. In the four games where James has handed out 11 or more assists, the HEAT are 3-1. --James has grabbed 10 or more rebounds in 10 games. The HEAT are 7-3 in those 10 games. --James is shooting 54.2% from the field, just behind Chris Bosh's 54.8% among HEAT regulars – and above his personal career-best 53.1% set last season. --Playing on a team stocked with 3-point marksmen, including the NBA's best ever in Ray Allen, James ranks third on the HEAT in 3-pointers made (34) and fourth in 3-point percentage (44.2%). --James also ranks third on the HEAT in both steals (1.25 steals per game) and blocks (0.83 blocks per game). --James graced the cover of Sports Illustrated earlier this month, having been honored as the illustrious publication's Sportsman of the Year. --James was also named the NBA's Eastern Conference Player of the Month for November. --And, most importantly, James has led the HEAT to an 18-6 record, the best winning percentage in the East (.750). The HEAT are a sizzling 13-2 at home, best in the East and second to only Oklahoma City (14-2) in the entire NBA. So sit back. And savor all the blistering brilliance of LeBron James – the gift who keeps on giving (and scoring, passing, rebounding, dunking, blocking shots, etc...) to HEAT fans. And don't forget to wish him a happy 28th birthday on December 30. Happy Holidays, HEAT fans. Enjoy.
  10. dbarmmer

    James Playing At Virtuoso Level

    By Dylan Barmmer “This is very overwhelming to me as an individual award, but this is not the award I want, ultimately. I want that championship. That’s all that matters to me.” --LeBron James, upon being named NBA MVP on May 12, 2012 He is closer now. And he appears hungrier than ever before. LeBron James claimed his third NBA MVP trophy in the past four years by averaging 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.9 steals and 0.8 blocks in his second season in a HEAT uniform. He shot a career-best 53.1 percent from the floor and led the HEAT to a 46-20 mark and a second consecutive Southeast Division title during a grueling, lockout-compressed campaign. In receiving 85 of 121 first-place votes, James became only the eighth player in NBA history to win MVP honors at least three times, joining Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlin, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Moses Malone and the player he has often drawn comparisons to, Earvin "Magic" Johnson. But as great as James was during the regular season, he's been even greater during the 2012 NBA Playoffs. And as the challenges and pressure have mounted with each subsequent round, James has elevated his game to new levels each time. From a purely statistical level, the progression looks like this, with both James' scoring and rebounding averages rising in stride with the stakes: --Averages of 27.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 2.2 steals in 5 games against the New York Knicks. James scored 30 or more points twice in that series and did not register a 10-rebound game. He handed out 5 or more assists 3 times. --Averages of 30.0 points, 10.8 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 2.7 steals and 0.7 blocks in 6 games against the Indiana Pacers. James scored 30 or more points three times (including 40 points in Game 4) and grabbed 10 or more rebounds three times. James grabbed 15 or more boards twice in that series, including a playoff-high 18 in that same Game 4. James also handed out at least 5 assists in 5 of the 6 games. --Averages of 33.6 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.3 blocks in 7 games against the Boston Celtics. James scored 30 or more points in 6 of the 7 games (including playoff-high 45 in Game 6) and grabbed 10 rebounds or more five times. In the one game James failed to reach the 30-point mark, he scored 29. He also grabbed 12 boards or more four times, including in each of the last three games. And perhaps most impressively, James racked up at least 30 points and 10 rebounds together in the same game five times. So if you're scoring at home, that's 11 games of 30 or more points in 18 total playoff games. Eight games with at least 10 rebounds. Eleven games with at least 5 assists. And postseason averages of 30.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.9 steals and 0.8 blocks. In other words, even James' average is about as far above average as you can get. Of course, elite athletic competition is about more than just statistics. James' eye-popping numbers throughout the HEAT's postseason run don't completely illustrate just how dominant, active, versatile and valuable he has been, particularly on defense. And James' awesome averages in this last series -- he became the first player since Shaquille O'Neal in the 2000 NBA Finals to have six 30-point games in a playoff series -- are even more impressive when you consider they came against a veteran, battle-tested Celtics team in the Eastern Conference Finals, with a trip to the NBA Finals hanging in the balance. When the Celtics won the middle three games to take a commanding 3-2 lead and push the HEAT to the brink of elimination, James donned a serious game face and stormed out the gates to lead his team to back-to-back wins by averaging 38.0 points, 13.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. James' overpowering 45-point, 15-rebound, 5-assist performance in Game 6 was only the second time such a stat line had been recorded in NBA playoff history. The other player to reach such staggering heights? Wilt Chamberlain. James doesn't possess the same towering presence as the 7-foot-1 Chamberlin did, but his game can be every bit as huge. And in that pivotal Game 6 road win on June 7, it was absolutely gigantic. Playing in front of a rowdy Boston crowd and facing playoff elimination, James made 12 of his first 13 shots en route to an incredible 19-of-26 shooting performance in that game. He scored 14 first-quarter points and added 16 more in the second quarter, setting a HEAT playoff scoring record for a first half. James and the HEAT would wear down the Celtics and roll to a 98-79 victory and another shot at a Finals appearance -- which James helped deliver with 31 points, 12 rebounds and 2 assists in a 101-88 Game 7 win at AmericanAirlines Arena. "He was absolutely brilliant this series, and we all know it," said HEAT coach Erik Spoelstra. "He's playing at an historic level during the playoffs, driving us with his will...He is pushing himself beyond his limits, and he's pushing the rest of the team as well." Of course, the final chapter of this sizzling story remains to be written. James and his hungry HEAT teammates will begin to author an ending starting Tuesday, June 12 in Oklahoma City. Awaiting them will be the deep, fast, athletic and energetic Thunder and Kevin Durant, who led the NBA in scoring at 28.0 points a game and finished second in MVP voting to James. And Durant has been penning his own personal passion play in these playoffs, scoring 30 or more points and grabbing at least 10 rebounds six times in 15 games. The stakes have been raised once again. And James looks ready to continue elevating his own game. He wants that championship. And it is now only four wins away.
  11. By Dylan Barmmer HEAT. Knicks. NBA Playoffs. Need we say more? In case you do want or need more, we'll dive into it all deeper now. And we'll take a closer look at what promises to be a heavily exciting, competitive and talked-about playoff series starting Saturday. The two teams collided in the playoffs four consecutive times from 1997 to 2000, but the hotly contested and ultra-physical postseason rivalry has laid dormant since then. Until now. And if this lockout-compressed regular season is any indication of what's to come starting Saturday, we should have yet another riveting HEAT-Knicks playoff battle on our hands. This season, the 46-20 HEAT went 3-0 against the 36-30 Knicks, with each game playing out as great theater. Here's a closer look at those games: Jan. 27: HEAT 99, Knicks 89 Boosted by the return of Dwyane Wade from a 6-game layoff due to an ankle sprain, the HEAT built a 52-48 halftime lead and rolled to a 10-point win at AmericanAirlines Arena. Wade scored 28 points, including 18 in the first half, and added a season-high 5 steals and 4 assists. LeBron James racked up a game-high 31 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, to go along with a game-high 7 assists and 8 rebounds. The HEAT survived 18 3-point field goals from the Knicks, including 7 from reserve Bill Walker. Neither forward Carmelo Anthony nor guard Jeremy Lin played for New York. Knicks center Tyson Chandler scored 9 points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. The Knicks fell to 7-12 after the loss, while the HEAT moved to 14-5. Feb. 23: HEAT 102, Knicks 88 The HEAT rolled into the NBA All-Star Game break riding an 8-game winning streak after rolling the Knicks once again at home -- and putting a dramatic damper on the "Linsanity" that was swirling around new point guard Lin. Chris Bosh scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, Wade added 22 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists and James racked up 20 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists and a season-high 5 steals. The HEAT were everywhere early and often in this game, shooting a sizzling 49.4% from the floor, grabbing 12 steals and blocking 10 shots. Anthony scored 19 points for New York, but Lin, in his lone appearance against the HEAT, struggled to just 8 points on 1-of-11 shooting. Lin also turned the ball over 8 times with just 3 assists. The HEAT sizzled into the All-Star break at an NBA-best 27-7 following the win, while the resurgent Knicks entered the break at 17-18. April 15: HEAT 93, Knicks 85 In their lone trip to Madison Square Garden this season, the HEAT ended a 9-game home win streak for the Knicks, closing out the game on an 18-6 run to survive a 42-point outburst from Anthony. James scored 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Wade added 29 points and 9 boards and Bosh chipped in 16 points and 14 rebounds. The loss was just the fifth in the previous 18 games for the Knicks, who fell to 31-29 afterward. The HEAT concluded their regular season sweep of the Knicks and improved to 42-17 overall. Anthony was sensational, scoring his 42 points on 14-of-27 shooting from the floor and adding 9 rebounds. J.R. Smith added 16 points and 7 rebounds off the bench, but the rest of the Knicks struggled all game long. Of course, that's all in the past now. And as the two teams gear up to face off again now, a few things come to mind. --The HEAT's stars should be well rested. Wade played in just 2 of HEAT's final 7 games, James saw action just once in the final 4 and Bosh was held out of each of the last 6. Wade averaged 26.3 points in 3 games against Knicks this season, while James averaged 26.7 points and 8.7 boards. Bosh will be looked upon to help neutralize the aggressive and long-limbed Chandler, who often gave the HEAT fits as a member of the Dallas Mavericks during last year's NBA Finals. Bosh cleaned up on the glass with 14 rebounds in the teams' last meetings, and the HEAT would love to see that kind of production throughout this series. In fact, it would likely prove pivotal. --Anthony is in the zone right now. The HEAT need to do everything in their power to nudge the 6-foot-8, 230-pound Anthony out of his rapidly expanding comfort zone. Anthony averaged 22.6 points on 43-percent shooting in 55 games this season, but over his final 14 games, he scored 30 or more points 8 times, including 39 or more 4 times. Whereas Lin became a focal point under since-departed head coach Mike D'Antoni's pick-and-roll offense, the loss of Lin to a knee injury and the ascension of former assistant Mike Woodson to the head coaching job has put Anthony back where he always longs to be -- front and center. Anthony averaged 30.5 points in 2 games against the HEAT this season, including that 42-point explosion in their last meeting. --Amar'e Stoudemire can't be forgotten. The veteran big man struggled a bit for the Knicks this season, averaging 17.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in just 47 games. In 2 games against the HEAT this season, Stoudemire managed just 12.5 points and 5.5 rebounds, hitting just 9 of 21 field goal attempts. But Stoudemire looked strong in the season's final 4 games, scoring 15 points or more 3 times and hitting 56.3% of his shots from the field as the Knicks went 3-1 during a crucial late-season sprint. The 29-year-old Stoudemire is not near the ultra-athletic leaper he once was, but he can still erupt and score points in bunches. He can also team with Chandler down low to disrupt teams' offenses, as he showed by blocking 8 shots during that final, pressure-packed 4-game stretch. --The HEAT can break the Knicks on the fast break. With Wade and James bounding into this series on fresh legs, the HEAT will look to revive the dazzling, daring and devastating fast break attack that made them so hard to beat this season. The HEAT are at their best when their dynamic duo is playing pitch-and-catch at a high level and on a high wire, and these kinds of plays tend to not only suck the winds out of an opponent's sails, but also send the AmericanAirlines Arena crowd into a raucous frenzy. When the HEAT beat the Knicks the first time this season, Wade came back at home after 6 games off and was flying all around AmericanAirlines Arena. Several early dunks and blocks by Wade and James staked the HEAT to a big early lead, got the crowd energized and led to a 10-point home win. More of the same Saturday would be huge. Those are just some of the many things to keep an eye on as the newest chapter in HEAT-Knicks unfolds starting Saturday, with Game 2 set for Monday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. No matter what you do, don't take either eye off the court for too long. Because this seems destined to be more great HEAT-Knicks theater. Stay tuned...
  12. dbarmmer

    Miller Time Good For HEAT

    By Dylan Barmmer As debuts go, it was just about perfect. Mike Miller had waited and waited and waited, under doctors' and coaches' orders to sit out the HEAT's first 12 games while he healed up from offseason sports hernia surgery. Then, in a Jan. 17 home game against the dangerous San Antonio Spurs, Miller jumped back in the saddle. And unleashed his six-shooter. Or more like three-shooter. The rangy 6-foot-8 swingman drilled his first shot, a beautiful 3-point dagger that emphatically announced his return. Then, he hit another. And another. And... When the smoke had cleared, Miller had blasted his way to a perfect 6 of 6 from the field -- with all 6 coming from long-range -- to score 18 points in just 15 minutes off the bench. The performance tied a HEAT record for 3-pointers made without a miss in one game, and with the drop of each bomb, you could feel and hear added electricity in the AmericanAirlines Arena crowd. Miller's sweet-shooting heroics got a bit lost in a game that saw LeBron James key a 39-12 third quarter en route to a 120-98 comeback win. But while James (33 points) and Chris Bosh (30) got the headlines the next day, it was Miller's clutch shooting that won and wowed the crowd. Of course, with Miller, it's never about just the shooting. A self-proclaimed "gym rat", the former University of Florida star was all over the court in his debut, pulling down 4 rebounds, diving for loose balls and doing whatever it takes to make a difference for his team. HEAT coach Erik Spoelstra had said he was planning on playing Miller "five or six" minutes, but the 13-year veteran made a go of it for 15. And with that kind of shooting, production and overall hustle, who could blame Spoelstra for letting Miller run wild? “Every once in a while you get going when you’re a shooter,” Miller said after his red-hot debut. “I just happened to do that.” Given everything Miller had endured since signing with the HEAT prior to the 2010-2011 season, it's no wonder he fought his way back so fast this season. Fighting off an array of injuries last season, including damage to both thumbs, Miller averaged just 5.6 points and 4.5 rebounds in only 41 games. Then came offseason hand, shoulder and hernia surgeries. The HEAT gave Miller plenty of time to heal up and prepare in practice at the right pace. And then the 31-year-old sharpshooter made his explosive debut. In 9 games since, Miller has yet to put together such a statistically spectacular performance. But he's become a vital part of the HEAT rotation, averaging 7.1 points and 3.0 rebounds in 18.1 minutes off the bench. He's shooting a sizzling 60.4 percent from the field, including a remarkable 54.6 percent (12 of 22) from behind the arc. Even more impressive, the HEAT are 8-2 with Miller in the lineup. Both losses have come to the relentless Milwaukee Bucks, and Miller scored a grand total of just 3 points (on 1-of-4 shooting) in those two defeats. Seeing a connection yet? Miller made his debut when Dwyane Wade was still sidelined with foot injuries, and since D-Wade's return, he has seen his minutes reduced a bit. But he's still averaged 6.8 points and 2.3 rebounds over those 4 games. He's also drained 12 of 17 shots from the field, including a sizzling 6-of-8 showing for 14 points in just 17 minutes in a 109-95 win over New Orleans Monday night. With Miller still finding his footing and a tightly compressed season unfolding in curious ways, the HEAT know their hard-charging, sweet-shooting veteran can only get better the more he plays. After all, the man who was the fifth overall pick of the 2000 NBA Draft by Orlando -- and promptly won the NBA Rookie Of The Year Award -- is a career 46.3-percent shooter (40.5% from long-range) and has averaged at least 15.0 points a game four times, for two different teams. Now, he's a valuable part of the HEAT rotation. And increasingly determined to bring HEAT fans to their feet with his brilliant brand of play.