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LeBron James, Page 2

NBA Finals Preview: LeBron’s revenge denied?

2) San Antonio Spurs vs. 1) Miami Heat
How are the Spurs taking this in 7 games?
A 27-game win streak, the league’s MVP and the 10th best record ever in an 82 game season at 66-16. Nigh indomitable, no?
No. Not for these San Antonio Spurs.
The MAMBINO crew got together via e-mail this week and took our prediction poll, as per usual every round. However, unlike all the other rounds, the Heat weren’t a unanimous pick to win the series. They weren’t even the pick to win the series. MAMBINO had taken the Spurs in 7 games.
Perhaps the reasons are as simple as they’re the hottest team playing right now. The Spurs annihilated two of their three playoff opponents in two distinguished sweeps, with the war-torn Lakers going down in the first round and the stunningly over matched Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals. There almost hasn’t been any area in which San Antonio has faltered in the past to months; they’ve rebounded extremely well, forced turnovers, scored efficiently and played shut down D (the Spurs haven’t allowed 100 points since Game 2 against the Golden State Warriors). They are executing their offense and defense to the letter, throwing screens upon screens for their cutting wings and using a revitalized Tim Duncan as a deadly force in the high post. It doesn’t seem to matter who the San Antonio is playing either: the uptempo Warriors tried to run the Spurs into the ground with Harrison Barnes acting as a small-ball power forward, while the Grizzlies tried to use Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol to bully their way inside. Both times San Antonio adjusted and re-adjusted, using their versatile roster to combat any offensive strategy their opponents tried.
No team has played as consistently well as the Spurs have since mid-April, Right now, they look like the best team in the league. It’s not a coincidence then that they have arguably the second best (or best) player in the playoffs. That’s Tony Parker.… Read more...

Los Angeles Lakers fans must root for LeBron James and the Miami Heat

No playbooks, no advanced metrics, no salary cap. Just pure, unadulterated, Lakers fandom.
And the fan in me knows that for the sake of the Lakers and Kobe Bryant, I cannot, under any circumstances, root for the San Antonio Spurs.
Even if that means pulling for LeBron James and his Miami Heat.
Lakers fans everywhere have been without a horse in the playoff picture since the first round. The Show met its end with a quiet, anonymous sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, but even the team’s foremost nemese have been vanquished for weeks. Their STAPLES Center hallmate Clippers were manhandled by the Memphis Grizzlies in the last four games of a six game series. Their eternal foes from Boston had a prideful 4-2 exit against the New York Knicks. Even recent Lakers killers like Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder had their championship hopes effectively killed in the first round, with Russ going down with a torn meniscus. With the exception of everyone’s most despised enemy in the Miami Heat, Lakers fans haven’t had much to cheer for–or against–lately.
However, as painful and disgusting as it may sound, Lakers Nation has to be rooting for LeBron in Game 7 tonight.
The primary reason? Legacy.
In the NBA, it’s all about heritage and rings, career achievements and leadership. Every player is responsible for defense and offense, staying healthy and trying to contribute on the court whenever possible. Unlike the NFL, where it’s extremely difficult to compare offensive and defensive players, or MLB in regards to pitchers versus hitters, comparing centers to guards isn’t as much of a stretch. Every NBA player has the same responsibility, no matter who we’re talking about: score points and prevent your opponents from doing the same.

(Read on at Silver Screen & Roll!)

MAMBINO’s Eastern Conference Finals Preview

1) Miami Heat vs. 3) Indiana Pacers
Why do the Miami Heat take this in 5 games?
It was damn near impossible to find a consensus pick amongst the MAMBINO crew—we got votes for anywhere from a clean sweep to a 7 game slugfest. But the overwhelming sentiment was that a Pacers-Heat series couldn’t end in anything besides a NBA Finals beginning in South Beach.
But why? And how? Those are the questions that we seek to divine here on MAMBINO.
The Eastern Conference Finals seems to be a rare case in which the team with the best defense isn’t favored. Head coach Frank Vogel has organized the league’s best D, anchored inside-out by the massive 7’2” inside presence of Roy Hibbert and the wing excellence of Paul George and Lance Stephenson. Like the Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies, the Pacers rarely leave an open man, thanks to a minimal amount of inept one-on-one defenders, elite shot blockers and fantastic pick and roll coverage. Indiana led the league in defensive efficiency this year, including 5th in forced turnovers and 1st in opponents’ three-point makes and percentage. Even after all that, if the other team DID happen to get off a shot, they’d have to contend with the Pacers’ number one ranked rebounding. In short, if any team is going to score on Indiana, they’re going to have to hit a difficult shot, make their free throws and do all of that without second chance points.
So how could a team like this only win 49 games? Simple—they can’t score.… Read more...

NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference First Round Predictions

It’s Christmas kids. Except instead of Jesus being born, we’re celebrating a bunch of overpaid athletes play a game we’d all happily do for a fraction of the money. It’s pretty much the same thing, right?
Let’s get right to it–MAMBINO official predictions and commentary from the whole team:
1) Miami Heat vs. 8) Milwaukee Bucks
Why is this a clean sweep for the Heat?

El Mariachi: LeBron James.  …

By the Numbers: The Lakers’ 33-game win streak vs the Heat’s 24-game win streak

(Your weekly dose of Silver Screen & Roll goodness. My newest. Dig it)

“In basketball you can get a unique team and Miami has a unique team. They have great three-point shooting and they’re never out of a game because of that and then they have the best player in the game who does all the little things. I never thought this streak would live forever, no…I just think it’s a streak that could very easily be broken this year.”–Jerry West, Hall of Famer and member of the 1971-1972 NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers

The 1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers accomplished what no professional team had ever done before–in fact, it wasn’t even close. That LA team won 33 straight games, which still stands as an NBA record today. That streak was 13 more than the 20-gamer by the 1970-1971 Milwaukee Bucks, who were on their way to the town’s only NBA championship.
The Lakers did all this on the amazing play of three Hall of Fame players, and the inspiration of one more. West, Wilt Chamberlain and Gail Goodrich teamed up to form one of the most lethal inside-out combinations of all time, their play spurred on by the surprise early season retirement of Elgin Baylor. The first of their 33 straight began on November 5th, 1971 and ended nearly two months later on January 9th, 1972 in a 120-104 loss to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his Milwaukee Bucks. The wins helped the Lakers set an NBA record at 69-13, a mark that stood for 24 years until Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls broke it. Regular season immortality wasn’t enough for that Lakers team–a few months after their win streak ended, the Lakers won the franchise’s first title in Los Angeles, a first for West and a second for Chamberlain.
But now this 40-year-old record is on the verge of being broken by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of the Miami Heat. The reigning NBA champions have won 24 straight games which now ranks as the second-most all-time. With only 3 of their next 10 games against playoff teams, what was once thought of as an unbreakable streak is now within range of turning breakable.
Inevitably, there have been comparisons between these two teams, with the Worldwide Leader summoning up images of West, Chamberlain and company with every Heat victory. At this point, there’s little doubt that the Lakers’ 33-game streak is the more impressive of the two. However, with the improvements in sports science and scouting, as well as the expansive media and public scrutiny following the team, is winning 24 games in today’s NBA more impressive than it would have been in 1972? Is what LeBron and company are doing that much more difficult than how West’s Lakers glided through one of the low points in league history?
(Peep the rest after the break!)


The Asinine Banners Hanging in the Miami Heat’s Arena

13 Chamberlain. 44 West. 32 Johnson. 33 Abdul-Jabbar. 25 Goodrich. 22 Baylor. 

2 Auerbach. 33 Bird. 00 Parish. 17 Havlicek. 6 Russell. 3 Johnson. 32 McHale. 16 Cousy. 

10 Frazier. 33 Ewing. 19 Reed. 22 DeBusschere. 15 Monroe.

Those are the retired numbers hanging in the rafters in Los Angeles, Boston and New York. You know who those legends are just by their numbers, let alone last names. They’re surrounded by 35 combined championship banners, and little more than that. But after all, is there very much more to be said? Banners are hung in honor of tremendous accomplishments, whether that be Hall of Fame careers that have made indelible marks on a franchise, or a championship forever emblazoned on the docket of a league’s history. Growing up in Los Angeles, going to school in Boston and living in New York, I’ve come to appreciate pennants hung from the rafters because it means there’s been something worth celebrating. Maybe that’s spoiled, maybe that’s unrealistic, but maybe that’s just the goal of sports. Maybe it’s to appreciate the effort, but celebrate the victory. Anything in between is great, but not worth immortalizing up above the team, it’s paying customers and a national television audience.

And this past week, the Miami Heat have yet again taken another big fat crap on what it means to be honored. 

Last Saturday, the Heat raised their second banner in a week, this time to commemorate the Olympic gold medal win of LeBron James in this past summer’s 2012 Summer games. This pennant will fly alongside a banner for Dwyane Wade’s 2008 gold and Alonzo Mourning’s and Tim Hardaway’s 2000 gold.

Team USA doesn’t play in the American Airlines Arena. In fact, the Arena has never held an Olympic contest or qualifying contest. The Heat, much like eight of the other teams in the league right now, have a reigning Olympic champion on their squad. To date, the Heat are the only team who seem to deem this individual accomplishment at all important enough to raise a banner to be visible for all time. If this were the case, why should we raise banners when players break scoring records? Congratulations Kobe, you’re the sixth greatest scorer ever! Here’s a banner! Oh Dirk, you won an MVP in 2007! Here’s something to mark up your big day!

It’s very significant to win a basketball gold in the Olympics. In Croatia. In the states, it’s what’s expected. It’s an accomplishment to be celebrated, but certainly not with a type of marker reserved for winning a NBA title or retiring a number because it will always remind the fans and franchise of that player. Heat owner Mickey Arison is treating his all-world athletes like fat children who just received “Good Try!” ribbons for entering the race. It’s a joke.

But he didn’t stop the silliness there. Along with their two championship banners for their 2006 and 2012 titles (an extremely historically significant achievement – with two trophies, the Heat only hold the towel for seven franchises with more titles than them), the following banners fly from the rafters of American Airlines Arena:

33 Mourning. Completely defensible. ‘Zo is one of the greatest players in the franchise’s short history, a borderline Hall of Famer who ranks in the top 5 of eleven major offensive categories, and a 2-time Defensive Player of the Year with the team.

10 Hardaway: Much less understandable, but had six great seasons in South Beach, garneri… Read more...

MAMBINO’s NBA Finals Pick

(Part of this is lifted from the Silver Screen and Roll crew’s season prediction roundtable post. Check it out when you have the time!)

NBA Finals Pick: Los Angeles Lakers…and Miami Heat

Even as what would amount to a 51 win team (prorated over a 82 game season), the Lakers were still very middling last year. They needed to get vastly better on both ends of the court if they wanted to compete for a Western Conference Finals berth, much less a NBA title shot…which they very well may have done. 
Defensively, I expect the Lakers to improve leaps and bounds immediately with Dwight Howard on the court. As I detailed yesterday in MAMBINO’s Defensive Player of the Year prediction, D12’s impact on the team should be stark. In his few games of preseason action, there was such a canyon-like difference on his activity versus Andrew Bynum’s that, paired with how much better he made mediocre defensive players in Orlando, it’s easy to think that LA’s defense will be suffocating. Offensively, the team could take months to adjust to one another with a new system and point guard, but over that stretch I can see the defense making up for the confusion on the scoring end.
The key for the Lakers was getting to the Finals; Oklahoma City was the most troublesome matchup for LA, especially with Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins able to give Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard the most one-on-one trouble as any duo in the league. However, with the Harden trade, I feel like the Lakers are much better suited not only offensively without his defense on Kobe, but also defensively in regards to staying in front of only two of the best 20 players in the league, rather than three. It’s not a forgone conclusion that the Lakers can get past OKC–how can you underestimate Durant and Westbrook?–but the prospects just got a lot better. 

Moving onto the NBA Finals, the Lakers should have an advantage against both of their prospective Eastern Conference counterparts, Miami and Boston. Against the Celtics, the Lakers should have the upper hand, as the Lakers front line should be able to punish Boston’s down low. Boston’s athleticism is nearly on par with the 30-something Lakers, and like the LA teams since their 2008 Finals loss, this is a physical squad that isn’t going to get muscled about. While Rajon Rondo will be uncontainable in front of Steve Nash, I suspect the massive advantages the Lakers have in the paint will over power whatever Boston can throw regarding a potentially jumper-happy team. 

Against Miami, the advantages aren’t so cut and dry. On one hand, the Lakers will be able to slow the game down and pound the Heat with a half-court offense that, if the Show is able to get that far, they’ll surely have mastered. Gasol, Howard and Kobe, some of the best high post-low post players in the league, are a handful against any defense, especially with the bevy of cutters and newly-minted shooter the Lakers have.  Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony are Miami’s big men, so on paper it is quite academic. The Lakers should dominate. 
But the confetti paper under Miami’s rafter from last June speaks volumes. The Heat‘s swarming half court defense showed that Erik Spoelstra’s squad is full of versatile, athletic and intelligent defenders who hedge at the right times and know exactly where to cut off passing lanes. In the Finals, the Heat forced Oklahoma City into a series of isolation plays and low-percentage jump shots by packing the paint and on the s

MAMBINO Predictions for the NBA’s MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Coach of the Year

MVP: LeBron James

The King: After winning back-to-back MVPs in the 1990-1991 and 1991-1992 seasons, Michael Jordan was the heavy favorite to win the award for a third consecutive time and fourth overall going into the 1992-1993 season. Despite averaging a monstrous 32.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG and 5.5 APG Jordan lost the MVP to Sir Charles.

LeBron James, who has won three of the last four MVPs, finds himself in similar position with 67% of NBA general managers predicting that he will once again take home the MVP. Does Kevin Durant or any other player have a legitimate chance of dethroning the King? Sorry LeBron haters, it’s not going to happen. Here’s why:

1) He’s the best player in the league: Obviously the number one factor in any individual player award is the performance of the player. What else is there to say? It’s not even close.

2) Team Performance: A huge reason why Jordan lost the MVP was the drop off in performance for the Bulls between the 1991-1992 and 1992-1993 seasons. In the ’91-’92 season, the Bulls dominated the league with a 67-15 record, good enough to win the Eastern Conference by 16 games! The next year they went 57-25, finishing second in the Eastern Conference and third in the NBA – five games behind Barkley’s Suns. Team performance matters. Do you see anyway the Heat fail to dominate the Eastern Conference? Me neither.

3) Good Storyline/Big Improvement: If your team improves significantly from the prior year and your addition/growth/career year helps drive the team’s success, you are guaranteed a MVP. The best example of this is Barkley, who helped lead the Suns to the best record in the NBA after finishing 4th in the Western Conference the year before his arrival. Steve Nash (first MVP), Derrick Rose and even Karl Malone (first MVP) are other great examples.

Where’s this year great story coming from? The Lakers could improve significantly, but it’s hard to see any of the Lakers winning an MVP for the same reason none of the Celtics came close in the 2007-2008 season. I don’t believe the Thunder will increase their winning percentage much more than the Heat, given their already stellar performance last year, their comparatively tough schedule this year and of course departure of James Harden. If Brooklyn or New York challenges for the number one seed in the East, Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony would garner considerable MVP support, but I just don’t think either team is good enough to challenge the Heat. While it’s true that you don’t see most of the good stories coming – that’s why they’re good stories- unless there is a major surprise, I don’t see the storyline factor coming into play as it has in prior seasons.

 4) Statistics: General basketball fans and MVP voters are far more familiar with quantitative measures of players’ value than they were even five years ago. For that reason, it’s going to be more difficult for someone to win the MVP when all the advanced statistics indicate that another player is clearly the league’s best, as is likely to be the case with LeBron this year (and was the case with Michael back in 1993).

5) Hate for LeBron/Loser’s Stigma: Two things that worked against James in 2010-2011 were a) he wasn’t considered a “winner” because he hasn’t won a championship and b) people were outraged over “The Decision”. Well, now he’s an NBA champion and with the passage of time, anger over The Decision has dissipated.

The NBA has a lot of young stars right now, so James is certainly no lock for the MVP. With that said, if I had to bet on h


A Potential Dynasty? – Miami Heat Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Mario Chalmers, SG Dwayne Wade, SF LeBron James, PF Chris Bosh, C Joel Anthony

Key Bench Players:
SF Shane Battier, SF Mike Miller, PF Udonis Haslem, SF James Jones, SG Norris Cole, PF Dexter Pittman

Notable offseason additions: SF Ray “Judas Shuttleworth” Allen, SF Rashard Lewis,

Notable offseason subtractions:
PF Juwan Howard, PF Ronnie Turiaf

What better way to start off the 2012-2013 NBA season previews than with the reigning NBA champs? I’ll be honest, I am rooting against the Heat to the point where I’ve considered consulting a voodoo shaman, but they truly look like the class of the East and a threat to repeat. It’s hard to hate on LeBron right now, as he has been invincible and undone a lot of damage by tuning everyone out and just playing. Luckily, Dwayne Wade was a real punk last year and took the torch to new heights. I look forward to booing him in person this season.

In my opinion, this team SHOULD be hard to cheer for if you’re not in South Florida and last year’s Heat finally understood that. Their role in the NBA narrative is the villain, as the favorite should be, and their all-black uniforms only confirm a sinister intent. A Heat dynasty may usher in the apocalypse and end everything we’ve ever loved, which makes it even more fun to root against. Heat fans should embrace that they are relevant enough to be hated, which is a big step for them, and every team in the league would want that core. It’s good to be a Heat fan – but like Lakers fans know all too well – you can’t ever count on an impartial stranger to join your side ever again. You’re either with us or whatever underdog we’re playing against. People are far more likely to actively cheer against your team in your face. Welcome to the club, Miami.

Led by the power trio of a God-mode LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, the Heat have established the modern model for a contender with their overwhelming star power and slow upgrades of its supporting cast. Last year saw the Heat pick up Shane Battier and finally get some timely production out of Mike Miller, but this year they added some real shooters off the bench. As the NBA watched the rich get richer, the Heat gained the right to dish open threes to Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis for peanuts. Honestly, the Celtics are better for it, but where does Judas Shuttleworth’s signing in Miami for less money rank in the all-time free agent disses? It’s a lock for Top 10. And after this off-season, is there any doubt that the new CBA may improve long-term parity by making it harder to sustain winners but make the short-term worse? Teams are either building to the top or racing for lottery position, which will benefit the contenders as long as high salary players are shed to avoid payment.

Not 1, not 2, not 3…

While the Heat faithful were promised an unreasonable 7 titles, there’s no question they should be considered the favorite for a repeat. Although Boston and NY could put up a fight, Miami will have a smoother road to the Finals than whoever survives the imminent slugfest out West. The Heatles 1.0 were a formidable team, but the 2.0 version put the pieces together in a way that should have the rest of the league running scared. They figured out their hierarchy (give the ball to LeBron), got better role players, picked up the team defense, and even got the Wizard of Oz to give Chris Bosh a spine, who provided the gutty play and gritty post defense that the Heat desperately needed to win a title.

This year, they should be better. They’re deeper, LeBron looked All-Universe in the OlympRead more...

NBA Tattoo Power Rankings

       As anyone who’s ever watched an NBA game can attest, ink is a popular past time for players in L. While it’s hard to replace Reggie Miller’s stomach tattoo, which is just waiting to be accompanied by a pierced belly button, or Starbury’s Tyson-esque face too, there is currently a lot of tattooed talent in the NBA today. Inspired by Jason Terry’s brand new Celtics championship tattoo, which is clearly a desperate attempt to recreate the Larry O’Brien trophy tat that predicted a Mavericks title, we at GREAT MAMBINO decided to create an inaugural All-NBA Tattoo Power Rankings.

While diving into the various ink acquired around the league, there were a lot of commonalities and trends. Hands down, the most common tattoos feature a basketball – sometimes being played with by an angel, being set on fire, or accompanied by one’s roots (like home state or family members). NBA players are also a surprisingly sentimental group, with many tattoos serving in memory of close friends and loved ones. When it comes to sleeves, there are too many guys with complete ones to sort through, so we’ll move on.

Examining the tattoos of the various NBA players was kind of a nostalgic exercise. Who doesn’t remember where they were the first time they saw DeShawn Stevenson’s Abraham Lincoln neck tattoo or like to crack jokes at K-Mart’s neck tattoo? Although we all love strolling down memory lane, it’s time to get down to it. What are the top 10 most aggressive tattoos in the NBA?

1. Marquis DanielsOnly the Strong Survive.” With as much ink as there is in the NBA, it was surprising how quickly (and convincingly) Marquis Daniels eliminated the competition. However, a tattoo this morbid and graphic, depicting a man shooting himself in the face with a shotgun by pulling the trigger with his toe, really had no peers. Congratulations, Marquis!

2. Al HarringtonLifted by an Angel.” Al Harrington had a nice little resurgence this season in the NBA and it’s nice to see that his ink has kept up with his play on the court. His bizarre tattoo of himself with a cape being lifted by an angel is either so meta that it goes above the heads of us mere mortals or is completely insane.

3. Kenyon MartinKissed by a Rose on the Neck.” In an ode to a classic that has haunted the league for years, we have to give K-Mart the proper respect. It takes a certain kind of man to have the kind of self confidence required to get a big set of lip marks on their neck in a place where they’ll be seen for the rest of their lives. And K-Mart is that kind of man.

4. DeShawn StevensonAbe Lincoln.” Another all-time classic and one of the most inexplicable tattoos in the League, DeShawn decided to commemorate the Great Emancipator, our nation’s 16th president. DeShawn’s infamous P tattoo on his face merits honorable mention consideration, but we decided in favor of Abe Lincoln as his most deserving ink. Stay crazy, Mr. Stevenson.

5. AK-47Wings of a Freak.” Accompanying the already frightening and bird-like features of Andre Kirilenko is a tough task, but this back tattoo certainly seems to do the trick. Is it a dragon? A run of the mill flying lizard? Or something more sinister entirely? We’re not sure but it’s certainly one of our favorite pieces of ink flying around the league.

6. Chris AndersenFreebird’s Neck.” Perhaps the most completionist tattoo fan in the League, Chris “Birdman” Andersen’s multi-colored celebration of both his