Q&A with a Knicks Fan

The stage might not be as flashy as MSG, the media might not be as loud and agressive, but Lebron James and the Cavaliers are preparing to win their 10th straign game in their favorite arena, infront of loudest and favorite fans in hte NBA when they host the New York Knicks tonight at the Q.

I have been emailing a noted Knicks fan/blogger at “What Would Oakley Do?” blog and asked him few questions about the “Summer of Lebron” to get a fan perspective on this Lebron-Knicks issue.

You can read my responses to some of his questions around the Cavaliers and Lebron at his blog.

The Knicks went after Michael Jordan when he was a free agent in 1996-97 season and failed to sign him. Unlike today and probably for the next few years, the Knicks were a good team with Patrick Ewing, Allan Houston and Jordan’s best buddy, Charles Oakley. Do you think the Knicks have a better shot at Lebron in 2010?

WWOD?: You know, I’ve been seeing this Jordan-to-the-Knicks story around the Interwebs and I’ve got to say that it seems like some awfully revisionist history to me. At the time I never really thought that Jordan was coming and the whole thing seemed like a leverage-move on behalf of MJ’s agent rather than a legitimate thing. I really don’t think that I actually thought (take that Peter King) Jordan was going anywhere and I don’t think that most people did. And, I didn’t want Jordan on the Knicks. Those Knicks/Bulls playoff matchups were Hatfields/McCoys. It was a blood feud and no title that we won with him would have meant anything. During that era you had to BEAT Jordan not buy Jordan. And, Jordan had already won. His thirst was slaked. He wasn’t still questing for a title, he was solidifying a brand. I think the stage of both players careers makes all the difference in the world. Lebron has already solidified the brand but he is searching for the titles.

So, long story short, I do think the Knicks have a much better shot at Lebron than they ever did at Jordan. And, I think that most people do agree that Lebron will at least dip his toe in the free agent waters. But I don’t think it’s a done deal. Not even close. Even if I were to say that the Knicks have the best shot to sign him then I still wouldn’t say it was higher than 40%. Which means our best-case scenario means a 60% chance of him signing elsewhere. In other words, odds are that Lebron won’t be a Knick. The team, however, still needs to be overhauled one way or another.

According to ESPN writer J.A. Adande, Lebron is making more money in endorsement living and playing in Cleveland than “Yankees superstars Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter” combined. If that is the case, why should LeBron James choose the Knickerbocker over the Cavaliers?

WWOD?: Well, I think that the math can be misleading. Being a Knick can be more than the sum of its parts. As irrelevant as it is for fans, there is no denying the cache that playing at the Garden holds among ballplayers. The building is special to them. The lighting is different. The sound is different. The crowd noise is different. I know that it may sound idiotic to someone from another city but it’s really, really the truth. There’s also something to be said for winning basketball games in New York City. We may have two football teams and two baseball teams but this is a basketball town. Pro hoops grew out of the successful college hoops doubleheaders that Ned Irish used to put on at the old Garden and this town embraced basketball from jumpstreet. The player(s) who win the Knicks next title will ascend to a level of respect and adoration that I can’t really comprehend around here. Bigger than other local sports stars and I don’t think that is true in most cities. Paul Pierce will not outdraw the Red Sox. NBA players implicitly know this about New York even if they only play one game in NYC a season.

And aside from all those unproveable, NYCentric reasons that probably make you want to punch me in the face, the team that the Knicks are going to be able to field going forward from 2010 is going to be out of this world. With or without Lebron. There is enough salary cap space to sign two marquee players. And a Mike D’Antoni-coached team with two huge stars will be the club that every solid veteran is going to be willing to take a paycut to play for. No matter how the Cavs (or any other team) reconfigure their roster during the next two seasons it is incredibly unlikely that they’ll be able to put nearly as good a group of 7 players around Lebron as the Knicks will from 2010 through 2014.

Other than Lebron James, who would be the top 5 choices for the 2010 free agency?

WWOD?: Whether or not Lebron comes I do think that the Knicks have a chance to acquire Steve Nash at a good price that offseason and I see that as the tone-setting move. I think that we pair Nash with a younger, scoring point guard (maybe a resigned Nate Robinson) and then the big choice is then Wade/Lebron. We’ll still have Wilson Chandler and (hopefully) Danilo Gallinari at the 3/4 but I say we supplement them with a shooter like Mike Miller who will be a free agent whose price tag is depressed by the fact that he is like the 10th best that offseason. And, then as far as Big Men the choices are Bosh and Amare. I would think that both are options depending on the status of Eddy Curry and Jared Jeffries, both of whom will still be under their current contracts.

Ok, here we go, the Walsh-Marbury fiasco, how long before it is over? As a Knick fan, how do you like to see it resolved?

WWOD?: At this point, I think that the Knicks really, really need to just buy Marbury out sooner than possible. It’s a disaster. I don’t know how representative this opinion is, but right now I think Marbury has gotten absolutely hosed by Walsh and D’Antoni. Since those two took over this guy has done all that was asked for. He came into camp in great shape, worked hard, and even said all of the right things about coming off the bench. He didn’t press about a contract extension or a trade and was content to work his butt off to earn his next contract, which would obviously be elsewhere. And, then he didn’t see a minute on Opening Night and was deactivated a day later. While I think that Marbury is a strange, strange person with a shocking lack of savvy off the court, I don’t think that he should have been benched to start the season. I mean, he was (and is) the best player on the roster.

Mike D’Antoni is an offence first coach who failed to win with Phoenix. Do you think you have a chance with him even if you get your wish in 2010?

WWOD?: My whole life I’ve been a fan of defensive teams. My favorite Knicks squads wanted to hold teams under 80 points a night during the 1990s. So, I definitely think you need to play defense to win a title. And the Knicks will need to play defense to win a title (with or without Lebron James). But after watching Pat Riley go from the Showtime Lakers to the lunchpail-carrying Knicks I’m convinced that good/innovative coaches are smart enough to adjust based on their roster. So, I don’t think that D’Antoni’s rep as an offensive-minded coach means he can’t win a title. After all, the most noteworthy strategic thing in Phil Jackson’s repertoire is the triangle offense and that didn’t slow him down when he had the game’s best players (MJ, Kobe, Shaq).

What makes the 2008—2010 seasons a success for the Knicks?

WWOD?: That’s a question that I don’t even know how to answer. On one hand, the next two seasons are a success if they allow the club to overhaul the roster during the 2010 offseason. With that in mind, what happens on the floor in those seasons is virtually irrelevant.

On the other hand (the one wearing the foam finger), I don’t want to spend hours and dollars watching bad basketball for two years. Before trading Z- Bo and Crawford I would have said that this team could win a playoff series while waiting for Lebron or whoever to arrive. And, that could still be true. But, I’m not so sure anymore. In the short-term we need to get healthy (and cut Marbury) and then try to stay close to .500 because if that happens then this season will be a success. Especially, since .500 gets you into the playoffs. So, I guess that meaningful games into April makes this season a success. If the team is at least fighting for a playoff spot then the season will be an improvement from last year and will keep the natives sated as we prepare for the feasting ahead.

Dan Gilbert Dismisses Media

During an interview on “CNBC Reports”, the Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said Lebron James is focused on this year and winning a championship and he is not worried about him leaving for the Big Apple in 2010.

“This is not LeBron James saying this stuff, this is just a media phenomenon here that will pass in time,” Gilbert said.

“We’re focused on this year and you know what, so is he, and he’s focused on this year and next year and hopefully a long career in Cleveland, Ohio. We believe that and we think we have a great situation here and we’re off to a great start.”

LeBron James named NBA player of the Month

Cavaliers forward LeBron James today was named today the NBA’s Eastern Conference Player of the Month for November. James has now won the award eight times in his career.

In 15 games James averaged 28.6 points on .497 shooting, 7.1 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game. James ranked second in the NBA in points per game (28.6) and ranked sixth in assists (6.2) and steals (2.1) among Eastern Conference players. James led his team to a 13-2 record during the month, which tied for the most wins in a month in franchise history and was their best November record ever.


Chalk up another W for the Cavaliers

Warriors Don’t Play Nice in loss to Cavs

One day after they were passing the cranberry sauce at a team dinner, the Warriors appeared to have forgotten how to share. Their 112-97 loss Friday to the Cleveland Cavaliers is perhaps best explained by a season-low 13 assists.

“I have no clue what’s going on,” Stephen Jackson said. “We weren’t passing the ball. When we share the ball, good things happen. When everybody’s out there for self, we ain’t going to win like that.”

Jackson added: “When we have success, we share the ball, we pass to the open man. We have everybody looking for the open man. We weren’t doing that tonight.”

As a result of this one-on-one approach, Golden State shot just 39.8 percent from the field and no one got into a rhythm. Jackson scored 11 points on 2-of-11 shooting. Corey Maggette was 3 of 11 for 11 points. Kelenna Azubuike was 3 of 8 for eight points.

The Warriors’ performance was so inept that new guard Jamal Crawford’s line —15 points on 6-of-14 shooting, with six assists and five turnovers — didn’t look so bad. Backup point guard C.J. Watson, hitting on 6 of 7 shots and scoring 17 points, was positively Jordanesque.

Selfish play and lousy shooting is no way to go about facing the excellent Cavaliers, who were led by LeBron James’ 23 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals. The Warriors trailed by 26 after three quarters, prompting Coach Don Nelson to pull his starters.

San Jose Mercury News

James, Ilgauskas lead Cleveland past Golden State

James scored 23 points, Zydrunas Ilgauskas added a season-high 21, and the Cavaliers matched their best home start in franchise history with a 112-97 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.

Cleveland (13-3) has won 12 of 13 and is a league-best 9-0 at home, equaling its top home start, first set in 1976-77 and repeated in 1991-92.

“They have everything they need in that starting lineup and they’re starting to put all the pieces together,” Golden State guard Stephen Jackson said after the Warriors became the victim of another Cavaliers’ blowout.

The Cavaliers have won four straight by an average of 20 points, allowing coach Mike Brown to rest James, who has averaged 26 minutes in Cleveland’s last three.

James, the league’s leading scorer with a 27.5 average, was removed from the game at the end of the third quarter, playing 31 minutes. He was 9-of-13 from the floor, had seven rebounds and eight assists.

James matched a career low in minutes played with 17 and had a season-low 14 points in Cleveland’s 117-82 win over Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.

“We’re playing great basketball right now,” James said. “We’re flowing the same way every game. We have the confidence flowing.”

The Warriors (5-11) have lost five straight, including the first four on their current road trip. Golden State is 2-7 away from home and ends its trip in New York on Saturday night.

“We aren’t passing the ball,” Jackson said. “When you share the ball, good things happen. When everybody is out there for (themselves), you don’t win like that.”

Mo Williams and Daniel Gibson each scored 16 points for Cleveland.

USA Today

Charles Barkley criticizes LeBron

Charles Barkley had a message for LeBron James this week. James gave him one back on Friday.

On TNT’s “Inside the NBA” show Thursday, Barkley criticized James for entertaining questions about 2010 earlier this week in New York.

“The outside forces should never affect your locker room,” Barkley said. “I think LeBron has made some of the right comments, but he hasn’t made the perfect comment. He still alienated 11 guys in his locker room.

“If I was LeBron James, I would shut the hell up.” On Friday, James shook his head when asked about the comments.

“He’s stupid,” James said of Barkley. “That’s all I have to say about that.”


Does Lebron Need New York to Make Money?

When you talk to people around the league and Clevelanders, they will tell you that Lebron main reason for leaving Cleveland for a bigger market is off the court money. For example, Nike had a clause in Lebron’s contract that will pay him more if he played in a bigger market.

“that clause in his contract expired after his rookie season.”  Chris Broussard from ESPN Magazine said.

Another great article I read today on ESPN by J.A. Adande talks about how Lebron is making more money in endorsement living and playing in Cleveland than “Yankees superstars Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter” combined.

“Anyone who still believes you can make it only in Manhattan probably still calls remote controls “clickers.” This isn’t the Walter Cronkite era, when we got our news from men sitting at desks in New York. These aren’t the old Don Draper days, when everything we thought we knew and needed was generated by the ad shops on Madison Avenue.”

Playing in Cleveland, Lebron has been on the cover of Fortune, Time and Vogue and hosted “Saturday Night Live.” He’s been on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was a high schooler playing in Akron. He even had a contract with the software giant Microsoft, that was just canceled yesterday.

So, if we want to talk about money, then staying with the Cavaliers would be the wise choice for Lebron. The Cavaliers can offer James about 30 million more than other teams and his annual raises will be about 2% more than what other teams can offer him.

Money is important but isn’t what Lebron is looking for at this point of his career. He is looking for  championships and a dynasty similar to the Bulls. Lebron James watched Michael Jordan dominate the league and Lebron wants to be like Mike.

“for me, it is all about winning, it’s not about the market.” Lebron said to NY media.

Building a championship team takes years. It took Michael Jordan six years to win one. Now Lebron is surrounded by a team that is dominating and blowing team after team out and they are excelling in nearly every phase of the game.

“the last time I was in this building[Madison Squar Garden] when LeBron scored 50 and everyone wanted Isiah Thomas’ head, LeBron was asked if he ever considered playing in New York. His answer was this: “No.”

Tonight he ruled nothing out and told the Knicks fans “to have an open mind.” There is no doubt a basis for all this hype, LeBron has been thinking about his options. One of them is surely to play in New York in the future. But right now — and everything can and maybe will change — the needle is firmly pointed toward staying home no matter what anyone says. ” Brian Windhorst said.

Microsoft Shuts Down Lebron James

Lebron James ruled the NBA since he was drafted. He slammed the ball on so many players and NBA stars and no one came close to shutting him down. However, the software giant shut him down.

Yesterday, the software giant, Microsoft ended a two-year marketing partnership and left LebronJames.com as well as lebron.msn.com without a home. At the time of this post, all you see when you visit LebronJames.com is a Godaddy parked page (click on screenshot below).

His first appearance for Microsoft was in a cameo role in TV ads for the launch of its Windows Vista operating system in early 2007.

According to ESPN, the partnership between the two faltered when Microsoft executive Joanne Bradford, who struck the deal with James, resigned as head of the company’s MSN media network this year.

It’s unclear whether the economic downturn had any effect on Microsoft’s relationship with James. Microsoft said it will cut marketing expenses and take other measures to trim operating expenses by $400 million to $500 million over the fiscal year.

“Does anyone really believe LeBron James is really into computers? Maybe if they had him promote the Zune music player or some movie-making software, I could understand it.” Tim Lenke from the Washington Post said.

“Even more baffling is why Microsoft didn’t do more to activate the partnership once they signed James. The decision to partner with him in the first place was strange, but it’s even sillier to spend money to bring him on board and then fail to have him do anything aside from a few commercials.”

Cavaliers Blow Out Thunder

Lebron James played a career low 17 minutes- adding 14 points and three blocks. Zydrunas Ilgauskas led the team with 17 points in just 13 minutes during the Cavaliers dismantiling of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Cavaliers started the game with 13 points lead and coasted home from there. By half time, they were up by 34-points, the biggest lead in franchise history.

“We want to come out and win every game,” asserted James. “Right now we are playing the best basketball we’e played in a long time. We have to continue this hunger and showcase our talent every time we go out.”

J.J. Hickson played career-high 31 minutes and finished with a career-high 14 points and game-high four blocked shots off the bench.

The Cavaliers’ 12-3 start – including a perfect 8-0 record at home – is the best start in franchise history. They passed the 1976-77 and 1988-89 teams that began the season 11-3 before dropping their fourth game.

“Most teams go through some sort of hot streak during the course of a season, but the depth of domination the Cavaliers are displaying these days is getting historic.” The Cavaliers beat reporter Brian Windhorst said.

“It’s not just that they are winning or that they are blowing team after team out, but they are excelling in nearly every phase of the game.”

“It just goes to show how well equipped this team is, how focused we are night in and night out,” Mo Williams said. “Even the rookies have come in and played really well.”

NBA highlights for November 26th: