The Biggest NBA Free Agency Story Debate… Super Friends in Miami

July 9, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Sports Geek.

It’s over! Done! Finished!

No, I’m not talking about the mind numbing drama of the LeBron James free agent extravaganza. I’m talking about the 2011 NBA playoffs. That’s right, I said it. Mark it on your calendars – July 8, 2010 – a date which will live in sports infamy because it is the day the Miami Heat won the NBA championship before the season even started.

In the immortal words of Will Smith, “Welcome to Miami, Bienvenido a Miami.” This city has just become the center of the basketball universe as three real life supermen – LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh – converge on the same team and leave the rest of the league reeling in the wake of this Earth shattering decision. This is the single most shocking development in NBA free agent history. Never before have stars of this caliber collaborated to assure the creation of a super team and potentially one of the greatest dynasties in sports history.

For all the doubters and haters out there that question if three such stars can coexist and work well together I’d like to point out they already have. James, Wade, and Bosh are a world class trio and they’ve got the gold to back it up. Former Olympic teammates, the fearsome threesome helped lead Team USA to a gold medal in basketball at the most recent Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. Olympic teams are comprised of the best players each country has to offer, and now three of the best players from the world’s best team will be running the boards during each home game in South Beach next season. One key to the Dream Team Reboot’s success was a less selfish approach to the game, something we are going to see demonstrated all season long in Miami next season. They have done it before, and they are going to do it again. Coexistence won’t be a problem, but deciding how to divide a league MVP three ways might be.

While I don’t pretend to be a soothsayer or fortune teller, anyone can see the writing is on the wall for the Heat to win multiple championships over the next five years. They pretty much have to, because LeBron’s legacy is riding on it. He cited the urgency to “win championships” as one of the most important factors in his decision. Wade and Bosh figure to help him do exactly that, and continue doing it for a long time to come. Last night during the ESPN coverage of “The Decision” Michael Wilbon said he thought that the Heat were likely to win three championships over four years. I think that’s a conservative estimate.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of good teams out there, but they won’t be able to compete with this new breed of mega team. Riding the success of just one of these stars, Wade, helped the Heat make the 2010 playoffs. LeBron alone was enough to lead the Cavaliers to the conference semifinals, where his team even took a couple of games from the eventual conference winning Boston Celtics. Add them together, and throw Bosh in the mix, and this looks more like an honest to goodness All-Star team than anything else.

There is no way anyone else can compete with the Heat now, especially since a number of teams mortgaged their immediate future attempting to clear space for James. The Knicks have a great weapon in newly acquired forward Amar’e Stoudemire, but the Heat have three times the talent (if not even more) in James, Wade, and Bosh. While the Knicks wait yet another year to fill in the missing pieces to the puzzle (and Knicks fans made no bones about who they want as chants of “Car-mel-o, Car-mel-o, Car-mel-o” filled the night sky around the Garden yesterday), the Heat will be dominating each and every game.

Despite tough words from the Cleveland’s owner, the Cavs now face the uphill battle of building a winning team without the anchor they’ve relied on for the past seven seasons. The voodoo-esque curse that he tried to saddle LeBron with, that he wouldn’t win a championship until he does right by Cleveland, is ridiculous for a two reasons: a) Dan Gilbert is an NBA owner not a gypsy and b) LeBron already did right by the Cavaliers for the past seven years. There is no way Cleveland poses a threat to Miami. The only team that stands a chance is the L.A. Lakers.

With the magic of yet another Phil Jackson three-peat in the making, Kobe Bryant will match his best against the Miami Triad. That seems more like a fair fight, but the smart money remains on the triumvirate of league greats. Kobe is great, arguably the greatest player of all time, but can even he hang with James, Wade, and Bosh? Only time will tell.

The emergence of the Super Team in Miami is revolutionary, athletes of the highest caliber placing winning above money and team above self. It is a model in sports that has a proven track record, but rarely been implemented. I do not think this will inspire other stars to follow suit, but it will make for the most interesting basketball of our generation.

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The Unwelcome Return Debate… At Least the Prodigal Son Was Repentant

June 18, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Loyal Homer.

No one in sports has burned his bridges after leaving a team or city more unabashedly than Terrell Owens.

Despite being one of the best wide receivers to have ever played the game (just ask him, he’ll tell you…), Owens is one of the least respected, least welcomed personalities in the entire NFL. Nowhere is that sentiment more strongly felt than in the cities of San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Dallas.

Owens is one of the rare people to whom the adage “actions speak louder than words” does not apply. Quite the contrary, actually. For Owens, it does not matter what his actions have been, it is his words that carry the greater volume, and the ringing echo of those selfish and arrogant words (usually spoken at the expense of others) lingers bitterly in each of TO’s former “hometowns.”

Whenever Owens joined a new team he enjoyed a very nice (albeit brief) honeymoon period. The teams were understandably excited to have Owens on their side of the ball, and Owens was (at least publicly) happy to have earned a HUGE paycheck to play for a team that really appreciated his absolute greatness (just ask him, he’ll tell you…).

Inevitably, though, the honeymoon would end, and that is when the REAL Terrell Owens would rear his head.

Here is a brief and incomplete rundown of Owens’ infamous escapades, and why the fans of those cities now perceive Owens as public enemy number one.

San Francisco: Owens never got along with quarterback Jeff Garcia, and even though he shared the field with his alleged idol, Jerry Rice, Owens felt slighted that the was not getting enough passes thrown his way. He didn’t seem to care that he was lining up with the greatest wide receiver ever to play the game, he felt he was more deserving of the ball. The simple fact that he was not on pace to catch 100 passes was intolerable for Owens.

His tirades played a major factor in Garcia’s ouster from the 49ers, and then, after having thrown his tantrums and demanded that he get his way, he skipped town for a sweeter deal in Philadelphia.

The feud with Garcia boiled to a head shortly after Owens left San Francisco, when, during a Playboy interview (Editor’s Note: Sorry, no link here. Heh.), Owens launched a personal attack against Garcia, calling him gay.

Owens has also publicly attacked Jerry Rice’s accomplishments, the DE FACTO greatest wide receiver to ever play the game. He has implied that Rice’s success is due more to his playing with quarterbacks like Joe Montana and Steve Young, and that Owens would have at least equaled, if not surpassed Rice’s results if he had been fortunate.

By commenting that Rice was fortunate to have played with “quality” quarterbacks, he was also criticizing Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb, and Tony Romo as not being of the same “quality” stock.

Philadelphia: Second verse, same as the first!

Once again, after frustrations mounted because Owens did not feel he was being treated with the respect he felt he deserved, as well as not having the on-field success he felt he was entitled to, he set out on another personal campaign to simply trash those things he didn’t agree with.

One of the biggest feuds in the NFL began after Owens made a comment that he “wasn’t the one who got tired in the (2004) Super Bowl,” implying that quarterback Donovan McNabb was the reason the team lost the game. He then further attacked McNabb by saying that the Eagles would have been undefeated if a guy like Brett Favre was quarterback. He attacked the Eagles as an organization for not recognizing his 100th touchdown catch, calling it a classless organization. He then stated that he did not care what the fans thought of him.

This was never more evident than when, at the close of the Eagles’ 2005 game against the rival Dallas Cowboys, Owens was seen leaving the stadium sporting a Michael Irvin Cowboys jersey.

After that, the city of brotherly love felt nothing but animosity towards Owens.

Dallas: Things went well in Dallas for a while, but old habits die hard, and Owens once again wore out his welcome. This time, it came as the result of Owens’ jealousy for the relationship between quarterback Tony Romo and Jason Witten.

Owens could not fathom how he, one of the most accomplished wide receivers of all time, could possibly have less catches that a tight end, and felt that Witten and Romo had agreed to draw up plays specifically to target Witten, slighting Owens in the process. This one ended with Owens and Witten having to be separated after a locker-room confrontation.

It seems like everywhere he has been, Owens managed to do nothing more than stir up controversy, alienate teammates, and alienate fans. His attitude of self-service has left a very bitter after-taste for fans of the 49ers, Eagles, and Cowboys, and while Eagles’ fans may feel it the strongest, there is no welcome-home party waiting in any of these cities whenever TO comes to town.

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