So, being a basketball fan in Northeast Ohio on a night not named Wednesday or Friday, the only basketball on is the Cavaliers. Seeing as how it was also voting day, I couldn’t catch all of the game, however, I have some feelings on what I did see.
Could the reaction to the Cavaliers losing their first two games be an overreaction? Yes, and they were. Was I guilty of being one of the countless Chicken Littles? Sort of, except I pointed out what was wrong instead of just saying that the sky is falling and the Cavs have so much to worry about.
What was wrong was they reverted back to the Cavaliers pre-Mo Williams when the offense was to give LeBron the ball and wait for him to do something. A lot of that was rust and the players still getting used to one another and how they operate. Another part was the absence of Delonte West (who by the way, looked good in his return game).
The Cavs won the game, and pretty convincingly by most standards. The game apparently didn’t start off that way with the Wizards topping the 30-point mark in the first quarter, and I can only speculate that they came out hyped up by the rivalry that may or may not exist (I think it does). By the end of the game the Cavs showed why they are a top 3 team in the East and the Wizards showed their potential.
If I may touch on the Delonte story ever so briefly, there is a big difference when he is playing and when he isn’t. When he isn’t playing it is hard for the Cavs to play the way they are capable of playing because of everything he brings to the team. If the Cavs don’t have him, in order to beat good to great teams either a role player like Gibson or Shaq will have to have a monster game in addition to LeBron playing like LeBron.
With West playing, they don’t need a role player to play up and above their normal abilities in order to win, although it would more than likely assure victory. But the point is that they could contend with the best with role players playing their typical games. Although, I could be wrong, maybe the Cavs need an Anthony Parker or Gibson or Shaq to have double or triple their typical scoring impact.
And I heard something from a man who is much more intelligent than I (Campy Russell) that the Cavaliers matched up well with the Wizards. The Cavs will win most of their games when they play teams without a power forward or center that can step back and shoot from beyond 18 feet. It enables Shaq or Z to play their typical game and not get exposed by the more nimble opponents. So they still have the same problems that they had last year against the Magic, only now they have to worry about the Raptors, Magic, and a Celtics team that heavily features Rasheed Wallace.
To move on to another subject, I don’t know if anything makes me more upset or confused than Mike Miller’s hair. Or more accurately, his ponytail monstrosity that hangs behind his head as he jogs up and down the floor. It may send some sort of message, but not the same type of message that well thought out facial hair does or different hairstyles.
When you see a man with a well-groomed mustache, you know this man is very distinct and isn’t afraid to wander off the beaten path into more unknown terrains. Or perhaps the often ill-fated Fu-Manchu, which is more exotic than the mustache, yet can still cover more of the face than the typical flavor saver.
And I am not opposed to a player having long hair. It is a great and welcome addition to most players (see: Steve Nash, Manu Ginobili, Rick Fox). If he just let it out of the ponytail I wouldn’t have much issue with it.
Onto more pertinent basketball issues than what Mike Miller does with his flowing locks of hair. The first of which is the Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo feud. I don’t know exactly what verbal jabs were thrown at one another, but the gist of it was Rondo told Paul that he has a championship ring and that Paul will never get one. Paul, being a fierce competitor and apparently sensitive on the subject, took it personally and nearly got physical with the entire Celtics roster.
Okay, the whole thing was pretty much overblown. Its trash talk, plain and simple. It is the same thing that has gone on since the inception of basketball and continues on through today and will continue into infinity and beyond. Was it inappropriate to say by Rondo? I don’t think so, even though he isn’t near what Paul is as an individual player and point guard. However, he is right. He has what Paul doesn’t have and may never attain.
Then again, it isn’t like Rondo led the Celtics to that championship. He was, after all, surrounded by perhaps 3 (3!) Hall of Fame players and was always at least the fourth option. Since then his role has increased but is still the fourth best player on that team even though he is steadily creeping up on Ray Allen. But even with all that said, he was still right.
And it isn’t the case that I like Rondo more than Paul, in fact, it is the opposite. Paul is universally hailed as the best point guard in the league and one of the NBA’s top 10 players. He does everything that he is asked and then some. He is what Rajon Rondo was in the playoffs, only every game of the regular season. Okay, so maybe he doesn’t post triple-doubles every night, but he is a threat to notch one any given game. But maybe, despite all of his talents, work, and determination, Paul is destined to not win a championship, a la Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, or John Stockton.
Do I personally believe that? I can’t fully commit to saying so, I just plain like Paul and his game too much to think that he will never reach the promise land even if it is late in his career playing as a second fiddle.
Another hot topic has been Manu Ginobili’s foray into pest removal with his swat of the bat that got loose in San Antonio. I could rehash what other people have said about it. How his reflexes make cats look sluggish, or how it really shows what makes him an excellent player. Or how about the fact that since his walk on the wild side he has had to get quite a few rabies shots as a preventative measure.
It was and is everything that those people said it was and is. Manu has just added to his legend, although what is his actual legend is still somewhat of a murky concept to myself. He is the agile player who channeled the karate kid, only his chopsticks were his bare hands and his fly was a bat. A little different, but a lot grosser. The best part of the whole ordeal was the immediate realization that he touched an unsanitary animal and went straight to the hand sanitizer over on the bench.
What else? Brandon Jennings looked good. So did Shane Battier. Well maybe not good, but he had his typical game, which means he outhustled, outworked, and overall outplayed his opponent.
I don’t know really what else to say. The season is still so young that you can’t really tell how good teams are or how bad teams actually are. I don’t know if the Hornets will make the playoffs based on how they played so far. The Bobcats look as if they will be lucky to win 30 games despite contending for a playoff spot last year. As stated above, the Cavs have gone from looking like a 45-win team to a 55-60 win team yet again. So really, I don’t know what to make of this start.
Also, if you think Gilbert Arenas is solely responsible for the Wizards’ turn around you are wrong. Yes, he is the most important part, but even without him they would have been much better with the additions of Foye, Miller, and Oberto. They had a chance to be a plus 30-win team this year. With Gilbert they have a chance to be a plus 45-win team and a serious threat to the heavyweights of the East.