Tag Archives: Kyrie Irving

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

 

Advertisements

THE 35 GREATEST PLAYER’S I’VE SEEN IN THE NBA

Jay C. Brandriet

7/1/18

This is not an all time list. It’s not even a “my time” list. There are several players I watched that I did not include (Kareem. Moses, and more).  I wanted to focus on those I felt I saw at their best.  It’s a challenge not to list about 125 guys. Here are the 35 I’d claim are the best I’ve seen to date. Kyrie, Dominique, and Alonzo Mourning just missed the cut.

 

#35- TRACY MCGRADY – If you can score 13 points in 35 seconds to beat the Spurs, you’re hired.

#34- JAMES WORTHY– I picture him waving the ball around like it’s a grape fruit. First step, spin move, two points.

#33- PAUL PIERCE- I always thought of Paul as a grind it out, low-level superstar. In the end, he had a phenomenal career.

#32- GRANT HILL- He was such a big deal as a new age point forward. As an older player, Grant became a defensive guy.

#31- KEVIN MCHALE– Karl Malone and Charles Barkley both called McHale their toughest matchup. Kevin was a back to the basket stud.

#30- JASON KIDD- Pushing the ball with that hard dribble, J Kidd had eyes everywhere.

#29- CHRIS WEBBER – His hands were basketball magnets. Sensational passer. Chris hit the top five player level in the pros.

#28- GARY PAYTON – In his defensive crouch, Palms showing. Rocking his head side to side, and chewing his gum like the cockiest man alive. “The glove” was legit.

#27- JAMES HARDEN – Point flurry’s, step back threes, makes you foul him…Harden is an offensive witch.

#26- RUSSELL WESTBROOK- More than all these triple doubles, Westbrook’s competitive fire is the story.

#25- PATRICK EWING- Patrick had the size, rugged traits, and one of the most elegant shots from the baseline.

It’s a joke Chris Webber is not in the Hall of Fame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#24- SCOTTIE PIPPEN- On six title teams, Pippen ranged anywhere from the third to twelfth best player in the world.

#23- CLYDE DREXLER- Clyde was a classic aerial player and finisher at the basket. Rare Drexler note: He finished in the top ten in steals, seven times.

#22- STEVE NASH- He almost glided as he ran. Nash was a degree of difficulty shot maker, and his percentages are clean.

#21- KAWHI LEONARD- Before he went down with injury last May, I thought Kawhi was ready to challenge LeBron James as the best in the game.

#20- ALLEN IVERSON- His blinding quickness, aggressiveness, and long arms made him so unique.  Iverson mopped up the floor with his body.

#19- CHRIS PAUL- He competes like he wants to bite your face off. Chris has led the league in steals six times.

#18- JOHN STOCKTON- He destroyed bigger people fighting through picks. John’s precision and decision-making were an art.

#17- ISIAH THOMAS Isiah played the game like he knew he was being watched. He was a showman, built for the big moment.

     

At this point, Steph Curry does not need the validation of a “Finals MVP trophy”. Dude is brilliant.

                                                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

#16- CHARLES BARKLEY- He shot 58 percent from the field over his first six seasons. Chuck’s work on the boards is still baffling for his height.

#15- DIRK NOWITZKI- His Finals MVP performance in 2011, is etched in my mind as true greatness. Five players in history have more points than Dirk,

#14- DWYANE WADE- I remember those hesitation dribble moves, before he’d explode to the hoop. Wade was a  closer from day one.

#13- DAVID ROBINSON – Robinson was chiseled, mobile, and cat quick. He owns the NBA’s last quadruple-double.

#12- KARL MALONE – “The Mailman” running the outside lane, and rattling the rim  in his early days was a scary sight.

#11- KEVIN GARNETT- One of the most versatile players to live. KG wouldn’t even let the other team score, after the whistle.

#10-STEPHEN CURRY- He became the first player to attempt a three point shot from 29 feet….early in the shot clock…and it still felt responsible.

#9- KEVIN DURANT- Looking at Durant’s controversial move a couple years ago, he’s now covered himself by his June performances.

#8- TIM DUNCAN- Tim was a coaches dream. Poise. Brains. Worker. Unselfish.  All time winner.

#7- SHAQUILLE O’NEAL- Shaq couldn’t be guarded in his prime. He was an automatic dunk, and led the NBA in field goal percentage ten times.

#6- HAKEEM OLAJUWON- At his apex, his offense and defense were both a ten. He covered space in the blink of an eye.

“Dream” is the best defensive player I have seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#5- LARRY BIRD– For all the attributes he brought to the game, Bird also had an intimidating swagger.

#4- KOBE BRYANT- For my money, the most over all skilled player in NBA history.

#3-MAGIC JOHNSON- Most fitting nickname in all of sports.

#2- LEBRON JAMES- Think of the career he has had. LeBron will dominate for at least five more years and it’s mind-blowing.

#1- MICHAEL JORDAN – From what I’ve seen over 32 seasons, Jordan is the clear standard by which basketball excellence is measured.

 

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.

 

 

 

untitled
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

 

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.

untitled
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