Tag Archives: Cleveland Cavaliers

TO SEE LEBRON’S TRUE GREATNESS, JUST LOOK AT KEVIN DURANT

Jay C. Brandriet

7/24/18

LeBron James has hit the point where he is only compared to legends of the past. His name is involved in daily G.O.A.T. conversations. What matters most is who you have to face in your time. There is a simpler way to measure how dominant LeBron has been. Think about Kevin Durant.

Kevin will thrive in the NBA for years to come. If we paused his career today, he’s a top 20 ever type. KD is a unique, all time great.

2012 NBA FINALS: LeBron let the NBA know that he was King. His Miami Heat handled Kevin’s Oklahoma City team in five games. Durant did his part scoring over 30 a game, and shooting 55 percent from the floor. James was the best player in the world. KD was the second best.

2013-2016: This was Durant’s OKC prime. He became a better defender and passer. He was the NBA MVP. He delivered scoring title number four, dropping a ridiculous 32 points a night. KD was like a better Dirk. He was part of deep playoff runs. He was still the second best.

2017 NBA FINALS: We had adjusted to Durant having joined the Golden State Warriors. Kawhi Leanord was now in this conversation. KD had been amazing all year, and had another shot at LeBron in the NBA Finals. James was now a Cleveland Cavalier and had Kyrie Irving by his side. Golden State took down the Cavs four games to one. KD was the man! It was truly his moment. He made the two signature buckets of the series to close out game three. He took home his first Finals MVP trophy.

The series ended. James was walking into the tunnel with another championship loss. I paused the TV to soak something in. I remember thinking James physical impact still outweighs KD’s gifts. Durant was the best player in the Finals, but was still the second best in the NBA.

I’m a KD fan. LeBron is just a big shadow to get around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 NBA FINALS: Kevin got a second straight shot at LeBron in June. The Warriors were heavy favorites and made Vegas look smart. It was a four game sweep. Durant was once again named the most valuable player. James hurt his hand irresponsibly after game one. He lost steam in game four. Kevin was rolling, and right on schedule made clutch memories at the end of game three. This is where they switch in ranking right? This is the peak of being able to argue that Durant is better than James. He’s still number two.

There are some things Durant does better. He still has a little time to catch or pass him. He’s  just played his best when it matters most, twice. He is still not as good as King James. It’s fun comparing LBJ to guys from thirty years ago. To see LeBron’s true greatness, just look at Kevin Durant.

Jay C. Brandriet

 

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LEBRON TO THE LAKERS? A LITTLE RISKY, AND MORE BRILLIANT

Jay C. Brandriet

7/2/18

These LeBron James decisions have become familiar, massive television events. The delivery is getting smoother and the choices are getting better. The story broke last night. Four years, 153.3 million dollars. LeBron is leaving Cleveland to  join the Los Angeles Lakers.

We know these takes remain a little blurry. The Lakers and other teams are still incomplete. This squad will look different in a few years.

This move is a little risky, but it’s more brilliant.

It’s risky because he’s playing in the Western Conference. This group of teams offers a ton of heavy weights. Remember the Battle Royal in the WWF? It’s brilliant because he is showing he is willing to give up his grip of Eastern domination, to come hang with the “big boys.”

It’s risky because he has to play the Warriors to get to the Finals. It’s brilliant because he may as well get in there and go nose to nose with them. He is already connected with that group for life. Friends close, enemies closer.

It’s risky because he is playing on a must win stage. He is competing in the shadow of the best individual players in NBA history. It’s brilliant because he will ultimately win. He will become one of those Lakers shadows.

What if he failed in L.A.? LeBron is more self secure than he used to be. He’s showing lack of fear to do this.

The Lakers fan base is a nation. Tonight, “King James”  took their love hostage. The prize athlete in the sport is with its most glamorous franchise. He is normally the top story.  In L.A, he is THE STORY. LBJ just made sure the defending champion Warriors  are the second most popular team in the state of California.

Some imply this will be James farewell act. Not true. He will only be saying goodbye to his prime. He will do it chasing Michael Jordan under the brightest of lights. He can never be as perfect as Mike, but he will match him by taking different roads to GOAT island. He will do it with the volume of greatness.

Winning in multiple cities is one angle ( I think he gets at least one ring with the Lakers).  He will be relevant as an active player for more than two decades. It will be during the noisy internet, social media era. He is now in Los Angeles? He’s piling on. Basketball society will be overwhelmed by his long-term relevance, as he smashes records nightly. LeBron loves to control the narrative.

Even if James teams up with a player as top shelf as Kawai Leonard, this time LBJ doesn’t look as bad. The Warriors have gotten to the point they are seen as skilled bullies. More “super teams” are about to be seen as normal.

It’s ironic my favorite player (“Magic”), just joined forces with LeBron. Russ Riggs gets it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

He is in the best place for his family and his entrepreneurial goals. You know this is going well when Dan Gilbert and Cavaliers fans are celebrating LBJ today.

Jeanie Buss and Magic Johnson are the right people in the key seats.  I like the fit basketball wise. James meshes with everyone, and this team is full of young, ready to improve talent. Tonight they also added JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson. Both add physical impact. More shooters and help are still on the way, this year and next. LeBron and Luke Walton will get along  just fine. Walton will let James run things, but has enough experience and respect to maintain his status.

L.A. has struggled for a handful of years. LeBron is about to save the Lakers. He sure picked a good story to control.

 

Jay C. Brandriet

FOUR CRITICISMS OF LEBRON JAMES THAT HAVE TO DIE

Jay C. Brandriet

5/30/18

LeBron James has been the best basketball player on the planet for at least the last eight seasons.  He just literally, carried his Cavaliers to an  Eastern conference title. Now, on a daily basis he is compared to the best baller I’ve ever seen. James lives in the social media era, where he is praised and ripped on every single play. LeBron is the ultimate hot button topic with NBA fans. Some hate him, and try to belittle his place in history. Some love him so much, they are foolish enough to rip on Jordan. “King James” is a beast times one thousand. I think these four criticisms of him have to die.

 

 

 

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Saying he would enter the dunk, and never doing it was a bit lame. His in game dunks made up for it.

 

 

#1- “JAMES WAS NEVER CLUTCH.”

Relax LeBron haters. I know James collapsed in the 2011 Finals. I know that he was too passive late in games often times in the first half of his career. My buddy Tony Abbott  loves to remind me every time he splits a pair of big free throws. At the apex of LeBron’s “clutch struggles” (mostly invented by Skip Bayless), I thought he was a very good in pressure.  Today, he’s one of the greatest clutch players of all time.

#2- “DRAYMOND GREEN WAS SUSPENDED FOR GAME 5.” 

So a high level player in an over heated moment gets himself kicked out? So what!  Draymond got himself suspended. He also was there for six of the seven games. On the road to rings, guys get hurt, ejected, or caught in foul trouble. LeBron being without Kyrie and Kevin Love for the 2015 Finals was a much bigger deal. That’s life. The Cavs beat a 73 win Warriors team. Period.

#3- “RAY ALLEN SAVED LEBRON’S LEGACY WITH THAT THREE.”

Ray Allen hit one of the biggest threes in NBA history in the 2013 NBA Finals. That part is true. It came on the heels of crucial mistakes made by James. The part where James goes on to make up for it in-game seven is not even my point. Every legend has messed up. All of them needed teammates to help them win and many times bail them out. This shot by Allen has become a micro managed subject in the Twitter universe, to take jabs at LeBron.

#4- “LBJ  WAS WEAK FOR NEVER BEING IN A DUNK CONTEST.”

This one fascinates me. I heard a well-known 70-year-old sportscaster recently say, “I’m still holding out hope that LeBron completes his resume by entering a slam dunk contest.” Really? Have you not got your fill over his 37,000 combined points? I’ve never needed to see James in that circumstance. I don’t think the league needed it either. What Dr. J did helped shape the NBA. MJ and Dominique put themselves out there to duel in 1988. Vince Carter was, well  Vince Carter. We need to give those players credit. James not being in that contest, is irrelevant to his story. He’s one of the elite dunkers to play the game.

 

Jay C. Brandriet

 

I ADMIT IT…LEBRON JAMES IS THE SECOND BEST PLAYER OF ALL TIME

Jay C. Brandriet

3/25/18

Nobody has ever been this good at this stage of their career.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just finished watching LeBron play a string of 20 straight games. It’s late in his fifteenth NBA season, and something hit me like a ton of bricks today. I think it’s time to say “King James” is the second best basketball player of all time. I could not be more objective on this subject. I’m not a “LeBron guy.” My buddy Russ used James as a weapon in arguments against my favorite players. I was built to hope LBJ did not succeed. Modern commentators (Nick Wright) that lie about Jordan, to build up James also annoy me to no end. If you saw Michael Jordan play in real-time at his apex, it would likely be obvious to you HE is the “GOAT.”

I’m a Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant fan. I have no horse in this race. I do not cheer for LeBron. If anything, I’d be the guy pointing out James said he would hit 80 percent of his foul shots for the first time this year, and that he’s currently at 72.6.

King was already in the argument as the second best ball player to live….then this season happened. He’s 53,000 total minutes into his career, and actually getting better. It’s not like he’s still an all-star or a superstar. LBJ is the best player in the world and it’s not close (and I AM a KD guy)! He’s adding onto his brilliance every single night. His turnaround jump shots have conviction, and they often resemble MJ and Hakeem. He feels himself from the three-point line. He’s thriving in odd team circumstances. James footwork is better, and his fakes have fakes. His post game is growing. I see more and more of his left hand. Even his missed shots are popping me out of my seat. If he’s lost foot speed or elevation, it’s a non issue. Coach Gordon Chiesa says he has “jack hammer power.”  That muscle and finesse are a wonderful marriage. LeBron reminds me of Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, and Clyde Drexler. He is better than an amazing basketball player at this point, he’s a walking parade of greatness.

His level most times this season felt similar to Michael Jordan late in his Bulls career (1997-98 window). He’s abusing teams in the clutch, and doing it in a variety of ways. He will sometimes point to his pretend watch as if to say, “It’s time for me to close things down.”  King is taking what he wants and his creativity and court vision are  outrageous. He’s aware of his legacy and enjoying the ride. He’s smiling and laughing a lot. LeBron should be getting heavy legs, instead he’s somehow been reborn.

Let’s mention the guys we are all thinking about.

Jabbar remains more accomplished than James, but I would now put Kareem third all time.

I know you are the games greatest winner Mr. Bill Russell.

Wilt was so legit, I’d guess he would average 32/15/5 in today’s game.

Earvin had the perfect nickname in “Magic.” I’d trust him to make a goofy trick shot in pressure, more than I’d trust James to knock down a free throw.

Larry Bird. Larry freaking Bird!

It’s not that Kobe Bryant bailed LeBron and his teammates out in crunch time in the Gold Medal Game….it’s that James fans were texting me “give it to Kobe” when the game was on the line. Bryant was the “Killer” on the “Redeem Team.”

Shaq was that guy for a handful of years.

Hakeem was this level for a minute. Oscar? West? No.

Tim Duncan won a “few games.” He’s not LeBron.

 

I’ve seen enough. LeBron is second! His sustained excellence with what’s to come is a tough package to beat. While there are aspects of other players gifts I prefer more, James will have a resume that will look like it’s own mountain. I can no longer deny just HOW great the king is. I’m factoring in that I expect him to dominate for another half decade and win one to three more titles.

I envision James carrying the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals this summer. Once there, against a better TEAM I give him a coin flips chance to win it all. I think he can actually do it. He scares me that much. James is a little over celebrated for getting to Finals series and losing (he should get a complete pass for 2007). LeBron wants to be the best ever. We need to be stricter at holding him to “AirJordan” standards.

It’s hard for me to put him over Kobe and Magic. It is just a Sunday in late March when the Cavs won a road game in New Jersey. I don’t want to be right, I want to get it right. I also don’t want to be late. This LeBron storm is coming.  If you can’t beat em, join em. James performance will back up my words, so it’s an easy claim to make.

Now, what will it take to catch that “ghost” Michael Jordan? Let’s talk about that after this season comes to an end.

Jay C. Brandriet

 

 

THE ONE FINALS MVP STILL UP FOR DEBATE: 2015

Jay C. Brandriet

7-21-18

We just witnessed our fourth installment of Warriors vs Cavaliers for the NBA title. The Finals MVP decision got close for a minute, but Kevin Durant was a legit choice in the end. It’s a pretty straight forward award. At the conclusion of play, I’ve guessed 30 out of the last 31 correctly. The one I missed on, is the one that remains open for debate.

To this day, people will say any one of three guys deserved the 2015 Finals MVP. Because of LeBron James great play in a losing effort, the voters got confused and picked the wrong guy. Andre Iguodola should not have been the Most Valuable Player. Andre was the “x factor.” Stephen Curry was the athlete who should have been given this award.

IT WAS CLOSE: Going into game six I thought of a couple scenarios in which LeBron and his Cavs could lose, and he could still capture the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP. For five seconds I considered a way in which Iguodola could come out on top. The way the last game played out ensured to me, that neither of those guys would take home the hardware. Curry was the best choice. I was a bit shocked when Andre was being handed the trophy. I accepted it for a minute as I knew his contribution was huge. It took half an hour before I was annoyed. It’s not a huge sports robbery, but it’s worth bringing up. The eleven voters gave Iguodola seven votes and LeBron four. Curry not receiving a vote was inexcusable.

WHY I COULDN’T ACCEPT VOTING FOR JAMES: LeBron would have been my clear second choice. Kevin Love was already out, and Kryrie Irving was injured at the end of game one. LeBron had to lift a lot in this championship battle and did an awesome job. His versatility, leadership, and ability to physically consume the series was on display. His all around numbers were glowing as always. James lack of help also contributed to him shooting 34 percent from the field in the fourth quarters and overtimes. For the level LeBron is on (chasing Jordan) he came up flat in games four and six in Cleveland. If the King won, it would have been the finest one man show in NBA history, considering the roster. The Cavaliers lost. I could not justify choosing LeBron.

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At this point, Steph is the only active player that does not need a Finals MVP to validate his career.

 

THE WARRIORS DON’T WIN WITHOUT IGUODOLA: The difference Andre made was obvious. He defended LeBron admirably. He had a super performance in the close out game. He hit open jumpers and made a ton of key plays. Andre was so vital, we don’t need to bring up his awful free throw shooting. Nobody would have expected Iguodola to be in the conversation for Finals MVP going into the series. His standout play muddied the race. He ended up being graded on the curve. The voters got cute. They thought out of the box instead of keeping it simple.

CURRY WOULD HAVE MADE THE MOST SENSE: Through the first three contests, Steph was a little bit under Cleveland’s thumb. He would dominate in spurts. The bigger the games got, the more I saw the 2015 NBA MVP. Remember that guy that was shooting the ball on a different level than we had ever seen? How about that dude with some of the sickest handles ever, who dominated the Western Conference all season? That same guy played in the Finals. Curry still made incredible shots and passes. He provided space to his team on offense and rose to the occasion late in games. Steph averaged 26 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds. He nailed seven three pointers in two of the games. He darted and danced to 37 points in game five, and played every bit as good as Iguodola in game six. The best player on the best team equals the logical choice.

 

SUMMARY: Andre Iguodola should have been a distant third in the final tally. This came down to the worlds two best players. LeBron playing on a “9.2” level and losing, is not as good as Curry playing “8.65” and winning. I do see why those that voted messed up. They needed a half an hour to let it sink in like I did.

 

Jay C. Brandriet

7-21-18

THE EASY TRUTH TO SEE IN LEBRON JAMES VERSUS MICHAEL JORDAN

LeBron James has just carried the Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2015 NBA Finals. This will be his fifth straight trip to the championship round and his chance to win his third title in six chances. As James gains even more prominence in the NBA, the comparisons to Michael Jordan become increasingly regular. It’s a fun and easy temptation to compare NBA players and their levels of ability. Who is the better basketball player and by how much?

When players hit a certain level, we arguing over inches.
When players hit a certain level,
we argue over inches.

JORDAN IN CONTEXT: For those who did not see the majority of Jordan’s career, it’s important that I relay a message. Michael Jordan was not hype, cool shoes, and a marketable logo. He is not a product of people thinking things were always better yesterday. Jordan is the greatest performer in any team sport I have ever seen. His will and skill consumed everything about the game. MJ was so elite you could see his tangible efforts to motivate himself at times. He would often talk trash to an opponent to seemingly just piss himself off. He would hyper-focus and then take what he wanted. The Miami Heat retired Michael’s number out of respect for him punishing them on the floor so badly. Mike was that good.

 

JAMES IN CONTEXT: With zero rings in 2008, I believed LeBron James was already an NBA legend. No player has ever brought together the traits of power and finesse like LeBron. He is as unselfish as an all time scorer can be. His one scoring title was probably accidental on his part. LeBron is an icon of versatile play and leadership. Late in his prime I’m appreciating how special he is on the defensive end. “King James” has a bionic quality about him and a basketball IQ for the ages. James is on the level where his only professional goal, when he wakes up each morning, should be the journey to becoming the best player ever.

 

LET’S NOT COUNT THEIR RESUMES: We know how MJ has stepped on the throat of June and the NBA Finals. LeBron is a record-breaking, box score stuffing, winner himself. The biggest key is we have to respect that LeBron is far from done with his playing career. Let’s make their accomplishments the focus years from now. If we put the two players in a gym, in their primes, they would match up on a relatively even scale.

 

WHO IS BETTER? Michael was better. The detailed bits of difference are obvious to me. Jordan’s best hit a higher ceiling that LeBron’s has at this point. Michael’s game and its results were closer to perfect night to night. I’m keeping things in proper perspective. I’ts close my friends. LeBron’s game and body from outer space make it a discussion. In some ways “King” is getting better. People over-complicate it having to be so firm one way or the other. Jordan is the best I’ve ever seen, with that said LeBron deserves to be in the conversation. In 2015 James remains the top player in the world. He is likely to dominate for several more seasons.

 

KEY NOTES: I’ve watched players like Magic, Bird, Kobe, Duncan, Shaq, and the best version of Hakeem Olajuwon. I could be using their names in this article instead of James, but LeBron is the one in the Finals again. It’s still his time on the stage of greatness. He’s so awesome I must compare him to the best player I’ve seen.

 

Jay C. Brandriet

5/28/15