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For James, East Final Is an Ex-MVP’s Shot At Redemption

Posted by Neil Paine on May 15, 2011

For the first time in three years, LeBron James did not give an acceptance speech at the Most Valuable Player's press conference. Now, as he faces his successor at the podium, Derrick Rose, in the Eastern Conference Finals, James is hoping his Heat can do exactly what the Magic and Celtics did to him -- prevent the reigning MVP from advancing to the NBA Finals.

In the NBA, the Most Valuable Player carrying his team to the brink of a title is the rule, not the exception. Since the league began handing out the hardware in 1956, the MVP's team has appeared in the championship round 28 times, good for a 51 percent rate. And during the NBA's halcyon era of Magic, Larry, and Michael, the clip was even higher: from 1983-2003, the MVP made a Finals appearance in 16 of 21 seasons, more than 75% of the time. In a world where current players are largely measured against those three names alone, it makes headlines when a reigning MVP fails to reach the league's grandest stage.

Perhaps this is why the drought of recent winners has been met with so much scorn. Since 2004, only one MVP (Kobe Bryant in 2008) has led his club to the Finals. The others -- Kevin Garnett, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, and James -- flamed out in the Conference Finals (or in the cases of the latter two, earlier), provoking backlash from the Skip Bayless set and anyone else preoccupied with legacies or comparisons to long-retired legends. That it has been viewed as a blemish on James' otherwise staggering resume is undeniable.

Yet now he has a chance to inflict the same criticism on Rose, the youngest MVP in league history. It's strangely fitting, because their paths have run parallel ever since the Rose-for-MVP talk rose from a whisper at the lunatic fringe of Bulls fandom to a din heard across the entire country. In the wake of 'The Decision', the media tried to talk itself into casting Kevin Durant as James' foil, but Rose out-Duranted everyone, ranging from his own sharp improvement to the Bulls' unexpected #1 seed and the endearingly humble manner in which he carried himself (culminating in a truly beautiful moment at his MVP presser). In the minds of many, he embodied the yin to James' preening yang.

For these reasons, the media will doubtless go easier on Rose than they did James, should the Bulls' season end early. And by the same token, the fact that James felt he needed two other big names, one of whom is nearly his equal in the universe of NBA megastars, to reach the Finals again will continue to dog him if the Heat prevail. But even if his legacy cannot be fully repaired through victory, it's clear that in a twist of fate, the only way James can gain some measure of redemption for his "incomplete" MVPs of 2009 and 2010 is to stamp Rose's 2011 award with the same stigma.

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123 Responses to “For James, East Final Is an Ex-MVP’s Shot At Redemption”

  1. Owen Says:

    How excited is Lebron to show everyone just how much better he is than Rose. It's going to be awesome to watch.

  2. JTaylor21 Says:

    Does it really matter that Bron needs another superstar to win a ring? I mean come on. It's been proven throughout history that one player will never win a ring by himself, no matter how great that player is. MJ scored 63 on the celtics yet the bulls lost that game and were swept, Wilt is probably the most dominant player of all-time yet time after time again his team lost to Russell and his much talented supporting cast. As long as Bron wins a ring(s), no one can take that away from him.

  3. Harry Says:

    Rose 2010-2011 WS: 13.1
    Combined WS of teammates: 49.9

    James 2009-2010 WS: 18.5
    Combined WS of teammates: 42.0

    James 2008-2009 WS: 20.3 (!)
    Combined WS of teammates: 47.8

    It never ceases to amaze me the way that storylines manage to trump statistics.

  4. Cort Says:

    did anyone happen to catch game 6 of the 1981 NBA Finals on ESPN Classic the other day? bird should have been named Finals MVP, hands down. maxwell was a good player but no comparison between the 2, plus bird made max better, not the other way around, and drew far more defensive attention. that would have larry him 3 playoff MVP awards.
    by contrast, earvin johnson was given 2 playoff MVPs he didnt deserve (1980, 1982) and only one he did (1987). jabbar originally was given the '80 award but then CBS officials convinced the powers that be a re-vote was needed since kareem was resting his ankle back in LA, plus johnson was much more marketable.
    mcadoo or nixon should have gotten the award in '82. wilkes also quietly had 37 and 10 in the 6th game of the 80 finals when johnson allegedly played center in place of jabbar. but that is a myth. johnson never played center, he only was in the center circle for the opening tap. jim chones and mark landsberger played center while johnson guarded caldwell jones and bobby jones, not darryl dawkins.
    johnson also benefited from huge height and weight advantages at his position like no one else in NBA history. average to poor defender as well.

  5. AYC Says:

    Yes, Owen, it was truly awesome to watch indeed...

    Harry, how do you like these stats: 15 pts on 5-15 for Lebron, 28 pts on 10-22 for Rose?

    PS Cort, let it go man; Magic was better than Bird; and I say this as a Celtics fan.

  6. Harry Says:

    Ayc- wow dude, one game. Basically the smallest sample size possible.

  7. Anon Says:

    Someone's still bitter about the Boston series...

  8. AYC Says:

    Nah, I'm just tired of statheads ignoring the obvious flaws in Lebron's game because his stats are so good.

  9. Anon Says:

    Ignoring what? No one said that the man was the perfect basketball player.

    You're just being ridiculous now.

  10. Jason J Says:

    Magic actually deserved the 1988 Finals MVP too. Worthy just had a great closeout game (like Magic in '80 actually), so the voters gave him the nod over Johnson who had 3 in his closet already. So I can see taking 80 away, but I think you'd just give it right back in 88.

  11. HY Says:

    Who said LBJ doesn't have flaws? Even great MJ had some. Nobody is perfect. Saying LBJ is better than Rose doesn't mean he has no flaws in his game.

    And seriously, does anyone think that statement isn't valid? I mean, Bulls might still be underrated as a team(I think they are more than capable of winning the series), but whether Bulls are better than Heat or not, LeBron is a better player than Rose at this point of their careers.

  12. AYC Says:

    Just try criticizing Lebron's game here, and see the statheads get outraged. You see, it's all his teammates fault when his teams lose; if you disagree, you're a flat-earther ignoring the statistical "evidence" of Lebron's God-like infallibility. It's Wade's fault, or Bosh's fault, or the rest of the roster's, or Coach Spo's fault when LBJ repeatedly fails to deliver against good half-court defenses. It's certainly not because of some intrinsic flaw in his game... like the lack of a post game, inconsistent outside shooting, a tendency to settle for long jumpers, and a tendency to stand around watching when the ball isn't in his hands....

    PS has anybody claimed that DRose is a better player than Lebron? Nope. MVP does not stand for "best player" fellas.

    PPS Magic deserved the finals MVP in 1980; how do you give MVP to Kareem when he missed the deciding game? It's not as if Magic wasn't brilliant throughout the series too:

    21.5 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 8.7 apg, 2.7 spg, .573 fg%, .875 ft%,.648 TS%

  13. Anon Says:

    "You see, it's all his teammates fault when his teams lose; if you disagree, you're a flat-earther ignoring the statistical "evidence" of Lebron's God-like infallibility."

    Huh? LBJ didn't play well yesterday and his team didn't win. Who said anything about him playing well in the loss? He's also not played well in some games that the Heat have won. Are you just craft arguments out of delusion now?

    "It's certainly not because of some intrinsic flaw in his game... like the lack of a post game, inconsistent outside shooting, a tendency to settle for long jumpers, and a tendency to stand around watching when the ball isn't in his hands...."

    Have you been watching the games? Or just the ones where he doesn't play well?

    By the way, I wonder how LBJ finally got by the Celtics this season with those "deficiencies" (and leave the Rondo injury out of it; the Heat won the first two games with a healthy Rondo in the lineup. And fun fact: the Celtics beat the Heat twice without Perkins in the regular season, and by a couple points when he did play). LBJ actually hasn't played more brilliantly this postseason than he has in previous playoffa; the difference is that he has another player helping him carrying the load (Wade) and a defense that has been top-notch.

    Like I said, you're being ridiculous.

  14. Anon Says:

    By the way, LBJ was just ONE reason the Heat didn't win game 1. Wade also didn't play his usuall stellar game, and the Heat defense was abused on the glass and on the perimeter. So while it would be silly to act as if LBJ played great in this game, it would be equall silly to put all most of the blame on him like you are implicity suggesting with your posts.

  15. Anon Says:

    I'm also sure AYC will respond with a post about about how LBJ doesn't "change his role" or play off the ball, even though he's done that more of that this season and Wade has taken on most of the Heat's offense in the playoffs...

  16. AYC Says:

    I just think it's funny that Neil posted this article before game 1 assuming Lebron would go off on Rose like Hakeem on DRob in the '95 WCF. I expect LBJ to play better in later games; he's too good of a player not to. Did I say LBJ was the only reason MIA lost? Of course not. And it seems like you're the one who's obsessed with the celts Anon, not me; who said anything about Perkins or Rondo? Is my assessment of Bron's struggles against good half-court Dee incorrect? Are you saying Lebron ISN'T an inconsistent perimeter shooter who settles for long jumpers too much? That he is a good post player and moves well off the ball?

  17. Anon Says:

    You mean to suggest that great players don't play as they usually do against great defenses?Are you going to tell me next that the sky is blue?

    You said this earlier: "LBJ repeatedly fails to deliver against good half-court defenses." Correct me I'd I'm wrong, but I think you mean to say this as if this is the main reason why LBJ hasn't won a title, which is simply false. Unless you missed the many posts about LBJ against good defenses, the post comparing the virtual draw between LBJ and Kobe's performance in '10 against the Celtics, or the '10 first round where Wade torched the Celtics D only to be rewarded with the Heat being knocked out of the first round. I would think that overall team performance has more to do with winning games in team sports more than anything else, but you clearly show that you don't recognize this aspect of the sport...

  18. Cort Says:

    kareem scored more points and had more rebounds than johnson in 5 games in 1980. he DOMINATED that series and the mediocre 76er centers. Im pretty sure KAJ averaged 33 ppg and 14 rpg, and played strong defense. read his autobiography and you will see he was still bitter about not getting the finals MVP that year after they originally voted it to him.
    KAJ came back from a bad ankle sprain to make the tie-breaking 3-point play late in game 5 to lead LA to a close win. johnson had 1 great game in that 1980 Finals, and never played center, despite the myth.
    worthy had the best game of his career in game 7 of the 1988 Finals, a big 36-point triple double as i recall, not some 11-10-10 johnson or kidd TD. i dont recall johnson earning that MVP either, he couldnt begin to guard thomas or dumars (or anyone good). remember thomas had the 25-point 3rd quarter in that game and should have been MVP had detroit win despite his sprained ankle. really, detroit should have won it in 6 if not for the phantom foul on laimbeer in the final seconds that gifted KAJ 2 free throws and a 1-point win. that foul was a home court call and a whistle on a guy for his reputation. had thomas not sprained his ankle badly detroit wins it in 6 or 7 anyway. johnson, i believe, averaged 13 ppg and 13 apg in 1982 when he was awarded the finals MVP. bird's numbers in 1981 were over 15 ppg and over 15 rebounds per game, yet it was a "bad series" for him. i think he had 2 games of 21 rebounds. he almost single-handedly won game 6 in those finals down the stretch, as well as game 1. and that is despite being the focus of every team's defense. johnson never was. kareem and worthy were.
    bird was clearly better than johnson as a shooter/scorer, rebounder and defender (3 2nd team all-defense selections, mostly for being a great team defender). he also was a better passer, he made the hard pass look easy while johnson made things look flashier and harder than they were. his assist totals were also inflated by playing in the forum, which was notorious for that. the only thing johnson did better than bird was handle the ball, and yet he possessed a pedestrian left-hand dribble. earvin was a below average defender. even in college at MSU he played nothing but zone. he didnt even shoot a JUMP SHOT.
    plus johnson traveled and carried the ball CONSTANTLY. he got more preferential ref treatment and averged more FTs per game. he was more likable and marketable than jabbar or bird, who were introverted, sometimes sullen and mistrustful of media. johnson loved the limelight and attention. people LIKED him better and wanted him to be better. but even his nickname bespeaks the hype and illusion that are attached to his game. if bird's nickname was "awesome" for example and he was known as awesome bird instead of larry, people might think of him as better too.
    bird was more athletic than people think, especially early in his career when people forget boston was a RUNNING team. johnson was not particularly fast or a great leaper either. both were extremely smart players. people tend to recall bird more later in his career when he had a bad back and bad achilles, and dont give him credit for his subtle athleticism.
    why do so many people rate johnson a touch above bird?
    1) MSU beat ISU in the 1979 NCAA finals. this is ridiculous as johnson had a far better supporting cast. bird was double and triple teamed every time he got the ball as MSU played a zone. meanwhile, bird took on the challenge of guarding MSU standout greg kelser man to man. bird had his worst game of the season, but in the semis he shot 16-19 against an excellent depaul team and added 16 rebounds in a hard-fought 2-point win. MSU won a virtual scrimmage over cinderella overmatched penn in their semi and was rested for the finals at ALTITUDE in utah. to get an otherwise ordinary ISU team to the finals 33-0 was arguably the greatest feat in NCAA basketball history. no team has made it to the finals unbeaten since 1979!
    2) LA/johnson won 5 NBA titles, boston/bird "only" 3. but the west was so weak in the 1980s LA had a relative cakewalk to the finals. if they switched conferences, boston wins 5 or more and LA lucky to win more than 3. also, injuries cost boston titles in 1982 (archibald separated shoulder) and 1987 (walton foot, mchale broken foot & sprained ankle, parish 2 sprained ankles, ainge sprained knee, wedman achilles AND the death of bias) in particular. their rubber match title series in 87 was tainted by numerous bad calls in the decisive 4th game in LA's favor, and the crippling boston injuries.
    in that playoff season, boston had to first beat jordan and chicago, then went 7 vs. 50-win milwaukee and then 7 again in the ECF vs. 52-30 detroit in a brutal series played in 12 days i believe and extreme heat as well as extreme physicality and rancor. that might have been the most bad-blooded series ever, and bird averaged over and nearly a triple double under the most difficult of circumstances. the 7-game series vs. the bucks was played in 13 days. so boston had 14 tough games in 25 days. the playoffs are a battle of attrition and boston was championship-worthy just to get to the finals.
    meanwhile LA played a relatively JV schedule to get to the finals, sweeping a 36-46 denver team, beating a 42-40 Golden State team 4-1 and sweeping a 39-43 seattle team (YES 39-43) in the WCF. they were well rested and healthy, yet boston still almost extended them to the limit.
    3) how many titles would boston have won if bias, a 6-8 jordan playalike, hadn't died? 3 more? 4? bird and mchale would not have been over-played by KC and their careers would have been extended, and maybe they dont get the injuries that curtailed their careers.
    if boston reels off titles from say, 1986-90, they go down as the team of the decade and bird is seen as better than johnson.
    4) johnson had 3 playoff MVPs and bird only had 2. but as stated before, bird should have had 3 and johnson arguably only one. when they were rookies in 1979-80, bird was first team all-nba and won the ROY award in a landslide vote over his rival, 63-3. johnson never was 1st team all-league until 1983 and wasnt even the best player on his team until kareem aged. one might argue that backcourt mate norm nixon was also better than johnson in the early 1980s. bird was 1st team all-nba his first 9 seasons and every year he was truly healthy. after missing virtually the entire 1988-89 campaign with double achilles surgery, in his 1990 comeback season bird was named 2nd team all-league but should have been 1st team again.

  19. Cort Says:

    in #18 it should say bird averaged over 30 ppg and nearly a triple-double in the 87 ECF vs. detroit. this despite playing about 45 minutes a game while deeper, younger and healthier detroit ran a platoon system at him with multiple players guarding him very roughly (dantley, rodman, salley, etc.). laimbeer and rodman took bird down with one of the hardest playoff fouls ever in game 4. that mid-air double tackle could have ended his career. no one ever did that to johnson, jordan or bryant.
    in that playoff year, bird played a record 1,015 minutes in 23 grueling games (44.1 mpg). not sure if that still isnt the record for most minutes in a single playoff season and he averaged 27 ppg, 10 rpg and over 7 apg. on just under 20 shots a game, unlike jordan, bryant or james.
    johnson, by comparison, played only 666 minutes (37 per), 449 less minites or the equal of about 10 GAMES, intense games! when you take into account the heat, the numerous celtic injuries, the vitriolic racial cauldron of the time (remember the thomas/rodman fiasco and cheap shots of that series, and the boiling underlying white vs. black celtic/laker subtext), the defensive attention bird operated under, and the fact that they played the playoff series in less time back then, i dont think anyone ever played as well or courageously under so much pressure as bird in 1987. and the celtics did not make excuses or cry about the bad calls and injuries.
    when bird narrowly missed that rushed, off balance corner 3 at the game 4 buzzer which would have won the game, he didnt cry, blame the refs or call for a foul, or even change facial expression. he didnt fall to the floor or make excuses in the post game press conference as he could have. he just walked off the court and accepted it with quiet stoicism and grace.

    in 1981, LA lost in a huge 1st round upset to the rockets in the 1st round. johnson airballed a 14-footer at the end of the decisive game instead of passing to kareem as he was instructed to, then complained he was hit on the arm by tom henderson instead of continuing to play. replays showed that henderson clearly was nowhere near johnson's arm on the airball.
    in the 1984 finals, johnson made numerous costly gaffes. he dribbled out the regulation clock in game 2 with the score tied, allowing boston to win in OT and tie the series 1-1.
    in game 4 he threw the ball to parish on the last laker possession of regulation with the score tied, forcing OT. in the final minute of OT with the game tied, he missed 2 FTs and then bird posted him on a switch and swished a 14-foot fade over him for the winner and a 2-2 tie.
    in game 7 with LA rallying in the final minute, johnson had the ball stolen from him by DJ. 2 plays later he was blocked and lost the ball on a forced shot by mchale and parish to keep LA down 3. 2 bad turnovers in the final minute that cost LA a chance to come back and win in a game 7. hmm.
    had anyone else but a well-liked, smiling star done these things he would have been widely roasted as a choker. but people gave "magic" (although some quietly called him tragic after this series) a free pass because people liked his fake persona. but magic was always a spoiled baby who simply could not handle not winning, and always had to be the center of attention.
    when MSU makes the final 4, he often gets on the floor as in 2010 for the post-game celebration and on TV, even though he hasnt played there since 1979 and never came close to graduating either. he knows where the cameras are, always. he never has given MSU a cent either.
    in 2010 jerry west's son was on the west virginia team that ALSO made the final 4, but jerry was nowhere to be seen. he didnt want to steal the team's thunder, or his son's. this despite the fact west va. was making its first final 4 since jerry took them to the finals in 1959, 51 years before, and came up 1 point short of a title. i think that says something about each man.
    and just think of all the people johnson may have infected with HIV due to his selfish, immature and reckless lifestyle. and he is a hero?

  20. TD Says:

    Haters...smh

  21. AYC Says:

    Anon, there you go again. I point out flaws in his game (not his "heart", or "guts", or "clutchness") and you assume I'm blaming Lebron, and Lebron alone, for his lack of championship success. Don't you get tired of using this same straw-man argument over and over again? I'm aware basketball is a team sport; the last two seasons, Lebron's TEAM had the best record in the league with 60+ wins; both years they underachieved in the playoffs against good defensive teams (including an Orlando team that wasn't that great). As the most important player on those teams, he deserves some of the blame for their lack of success; but I'm sure you think it's all Mo Williams's and Mike Brown's fault; anybody but LBJ; when will you get tired of making excuses?

  22. Greyberger Says:

    AYC said,

    "Has anybody claimed that DRose is a better player than Lebron? Nope."

    Serendipitously, the front-page story of ESPN NBA today was an article by JA Adande, titled

    "Is Derrick Rose the NBA's best player?"

    This is the opening lede: "It's time to think of Derrick Rose as the best in the league, not just the Most Valuable Player."

  23. AYC Says:

    Congrats on finding one talking head making that claim; maybe you should write Adande an angry letter? In all the discussions about his MVP worthiness on this site, I never saw one of Rose's defenders claim he was better than Lebron.

  24. huevonkiller Says:

    No AYC, you're not just casually pointing out negatives about him, you're excessively complaining. I wanted the Lakers to win in 2009 (before Kobe fans got super annoying), but even I knew that James' Cavs teammates defended poorly. And shot poorly. Why did Dwight Howard play worse against the Lakers? Do you even know what defense is anymore because it doesn't seem like it. Kobe won a title in 2010 playing poorly, Wade beat the Nets/Bulls having a bad series, and has gotten injured many times or come up short individually.

    AYC, how do you know Lebron doesn't have a "post" game? Because you say so? He's one of the best post players in the league, that's a fact dude. I also find it awkward how you obsess about FG%, when it obviously isn't the only important factor.

  25. Anon Says:

    "As the most important player on those teams, he deserves some of the blame for their lack of success..."

    And why is this? Is it because the passionate (and irrational) "old-schooler" in you tells you so; that the star should always "get the praise and blame"? Didn't LBJ average 40 something points per game in that series, mainly BECAUSE he had to pick up for the lack of scoring from his so-called "sidekick"? Are you blaming him because he didn't average 50 per game instead? And also blame him for not guarding everyone on the other team as well? At once?

    In a team sport, does this honestly make sense to you? You don't assign blame just because you CAN; you need to back it up with reason. And within reason, and also when you look at his output from that series, LBJ played as an MVP should have in the series. He jus didn't get the overall support from the team to get over the hump.

  26. huevonkiller Says:

    If anything Lebron should be hogging the ball more in this series. In Cleveland there was not much to do if his teammates aren't going to defend anyone.

  27. huevonkiller Says:

    Just to clarify, not creating more isolation plays but taking some more shots.

    Miami's defensive rebounding should try to improve somewhat too.

  28. Neil Paine Says:

    #16 - Don't put words in my mouth... I posted this to highlight a major storyline in the series, nothing more, nothing less. If you actually read it, I was complementary of Rose and frank about LeBron's perception problem. The only one making an assumption here is you.

  29. Sean Says:

    How did this become a Magic VS Bird thread? They were BOTH great. Bird probably was Boston's MVP in the 1981 Finals-----but it was the old 'if the alpha player has a hard time and another lesser player is freed up to produce more' thing. Bird had 15 rpg and I'm pretty sure he led ALL players in assists and steals for the series. He was the MVP, yes. But to be so pissy about Magic... WTF?

    I don't know if the Eastern Conference Finals are going to be some referendum on who the REAL MVP is-----but we all were told that LeBron didn't have another star with him in Cleveland... but now he has Wade. We all heard Doc Rivers refer to Wade and LeBron as 'monsters'... well, who is Rose's 'fellow monster'? Chris Broussard was talking about LeBron's legacy taking a hit IF a younger player (Rose) gets by him despite LeBron having Wade on his side and Bosh to a lesser degree. Miami could flip this thing and win it in 5 games, though probably NOT if they keep trying what worked VS Boston on this Chicago team. This IS some kind of a crossroads series for LeBron's legacy, I guess. If they don't win-----then it will be 'because if this'..... and when Miami gets THAT for LeBron and they don't win, it will be 'because of this OTHER thing'... and at SOME point you gotta ask 'what's it gonna take? You ARE the best player in the world, RIGHT?' LeBron can bypass all of that by leading his team to victory. If he doesn't, the questions will grow------like it or not.
    Some players fill up boxscores and some folks exonerate them automatically, but is there something that some alpha players do that limits the roles/ contributions of lesser teamates that doesn't show up in THEIR stat line? Does Rose do something that permits teamates to contribute more? It's very difficult to measure this-----and so many just throw the idea out. But is there something? Did Wilt and Michael and now Lebron/ Wade do things that pumped up their stat lines while neutering their lesser teamates' contributory capacity? Or are those guys free and clear because they get their stats?
    Maybe there's something more to Rose than we know how to quantify. Maybe there's something not quite right about the LeBron/ Wade show that can't be pin pointed. And PLEASE no more talk of 'everything is accounted for with the current metrics'. That's SO arrogant and ignorant at the same time to think we have it all covered and measured out. Then again, maybe Miami wins the next 8 games and King James finally earns his nickname.

  30. Anon Says:

    "Did Wilt and Michael and now Lebron/ Wade do things that pumped up their stat lines while neutering their lesser teamates' contributory capacity? Or are those guys free and clear because they get their stats?"

    When you can objectively measure this, by all means - share what you've learned.

    Until then, you're dabbling into unprovable, subjective heresay.

  31. Anon Says:

    "We all heard Doc Rivers refer to Wade and LeBron as 'monsters'... well, who is Rose's 'fellow monster'?

    Chicago's amazing defense?

  32. huevonkiller Says:

    Yes, and you continue to skim over that.

    His teammates had 50 combined win shares because of D, both LeBron and Wade are both better defenders than Rose.

  33. Sean Says:

    At #30---it is currently subjective heresay, yes. But there is something out there that we're not accounting for. I'm just wondering what it is------and tempering the zeal of my opinion a bit. As an extreme example, take Wilt Chamberlain's season where he averaged 44+ ppg. What was the team's record? Was Wilt totally 'free and clear' because he got numbers... or was he doing something that compromised what the TEAM could have done WHILE getting his numbers? That's the kind of thing I'm vexed by.

    At #31---so Rose's 'whole team' is his 'other monster'? So what does LeBron need NOW? (Though the answer will be 'nothing' if the Heat win at least 8 of the next 13 games). How did Chicago craft such a monster?

  34. Sean Says:

    Wilt averaged 44.8 ppg for a 31-49 Warriors team that was dead last in ppg allowed. He also led the NBA in rebounding. Is Wilt completely exonerated for his part, or is he culpable for more than his share of what was going on? How are you last in scoring defense with Wilt Chamberlain? It just seems impossible. Is Wilt partly to blame? Even though his PERSONAL stats are crazy? This is the element I'm puzzled by.

  35. Anon Says:

    "so Rose's 'whole team' is his 'other monster'?"

    Doesn't a team need to play defense to win?

  36. Anon Says:

    "Was Wilt totally 'free and clear' because he got numbers... or was he doing something that compromised what the TEAM could have done WHILE getting his numbers? That's the kind of thing I'm vexed by."

    This is the age-old "chicken/egg" argument in basketball (does one work to carry the load because his team stinks or does one's team stink because he carries the load?) Not an easy thing to answer, but the evidence (and common sense about the game) favors the former and not the latter.

    Also, Wilt wasn't a bad defender (den though he wasn't Russell material). But he doesn't guard everyone on the court either. He played for his share of lousy teams in his prime until he went to the Lakers and won some titles.

  37. AYC Says:

    Sorry, Neil. I wasn't being fair based on the content of this post; but I feel that you haven't been fair to Rose in previous posts, especially the one comparing Rose to AI.

    Regarding Wilt, I saw an interview where he himself said that his individual dominance might have taken away from his teammates' full ability to impact the game. The big problem with having a guy like Wilt as your primary scorer is the terrible FT shooting. He may have been a highly "efficient" scorer according to advanced metrics and TS%, but the inability to hit FTs down the stretch in a close game is a huge liability. Wilt had far greater team success once he stopped being the go-to guy in the second half of his career. Shaq was similar; he couldn't win it all until he had Kobe, and later Wade, to take over that role in clutch situations. Of course, FT% isn't Lebron's biggest weakness.

  38. Adam Lawrence Says:

    LeBron James is hated by most people because he was overrated and overhyped from the start. He was place on par with MJ and Kobe coming out of high school. This was media, fans, companies (LeBron's draft summer Nike signed LeBron to a deal for $95 mill and Kobe with 3 titles to a $45 mill deal) overrating James. He's always been given a larger pass for his teams failures than greats of the past. The excuses have been pathetic..."he doesn't have the teammates" blah blah blah. Kobe Bryant didn't have the teammates in 2006-2007 when he averaged 35+ppg and took the #2 Suns to a game 7 as the #7 seed with Kwame Brown, Smush Parker, Luke Walton, and Lamar Odom starting on that team! By the way he finished 4th in the MVP voting for that year. LeBron was the 1st modern athlete where predictions dictated people opinion. Because most of the media tagged James the kid that would surpass Jordan they've protected him his entire career until last summer. Now James legacy is at risk. If he fails to win a title this year all of the excuses of the past are reexamined and deemed false. If James can't win a title with Wade and Bosh against Derrick Rose and a bunch of role players it's an indictment on his ability to lead a team to a championship from now until he finally does. His career has been like the Miami Heat's season this year...great but a bit of a disappointment. If you told someone at the end of LeBron's rookie year he wouldn't win a title until he joined up with a former Finals MVP still in his prime an another guy that averaged 24-11 for a team with a handful of all star teams they would've said he didn't pan out the way people predicted. If you told someone after "The Decision" that the Miami Heat with LeBron, Bosh, Wade would only win 10 more games than Wade, Beasley, Chalmers last season they would ask you "Who got injured"? It's time for LeBron to earn all of the premature love and credit he was given from the start and if he doesn't then don't put him in the MJ, Magic, Kobe class until he wins a handful of titles.

  39. Anon Says:

    "Regarding Wilt, I saw an interview where he himself said that his individual dominance might have taken away from his teammates' full ability to impact the game."

    So if Wilt says so, that means it MUST be true?

    "Shaq was similar; he couldn't win it all until he had Kobe, and later Wade, to take over that role in clutch situations. Of course, FT% isn't Lebron's biggest weakness."

    Just like Kobe and Wade couldn't win without a dominant big man? You know what we call what you're doing with your post, AYC? Cherry-picking.

    You win basketball games by being the the better basketball team for the full48 minutes, not 10 seconds, 5 minutes, or any other selective data point of your choosing.

  40. Neil Paine Says:

    #37 - OK, although I still don't see how the Iverson comparison was unfair. At age 22, Rose had an identical season to Iverson at age 25. In some circles, that would be considered a compliment.

  41. Anon Says:

    "Kobe Bryant didn't have the teammates in 2006-2007 when he averaged 35+ppg and took the #2 Suns to a game 7 as the #7 seed with Kwame Brown, Smush Parker, Luke Walton, and Lamar Odom starting on that team! By the way he finished 4th in the MVP voting for that year."

    Funny how it becomes a team sport when you talk about Kobe Bryant not winning titles, isn't it?

  42. AYC Says:

    "So if Wilt says so, that means it MUST be true?"

    Anon, you don't think it's relevant that the man himself thought there was some truth to it? It seems you just like to disagree for the sake of disagreeing.... No superstar can win by himself. Of course Shaq needed Kobe, and Kobe needed Shaq; and they needed Derek Fisher, Rick Fox, Robert Horry, Glen Rice, Ho Grant, Phil Jackson, etc. The problem for the current Heat is that their two superstars don't have complementary skill-sets; Lebron and Wade are too similar (I've said this a million times; I don't see how acknowledging this is somehow an insult to either player), unlike Shaq/Kobe, or Shaq/Wade, or Magic/Kareem.

    Finally, the ability to make plays down the stretch has tremendous importance, though advanced stat folks seem to have outsmarted themselves on this matter. Are points scored in the first quarter just as important as points scored in the of the fourth? Only if the outcome of the game was decided in the first. In the majority of NBA games, the score is still close in the fourth, which means games usually ARE decided down the stretch. Kind of a problem for MIA, since they are very good at blowing out mediocre teams, but not so good at executing down the stretch in close games.

  43. Adam Lawrence Says:

    It's always been about the star to me. I had no problem with MJ or Kobe getting heat for their teams losing but it's annoying when LeBron gets a pass for the same thing. With LeBron his affect on the outcome of the game depends on the result. LeBron's team wins "it was all LeBron" when they lose "LeBron's supporting cast didn't get it done". If they win it was all him and when they lose he had nothing to do with it. LeBron James shouldn't be put in the same sentence as Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan because he's not likely to ever put together a resume of titles equal to either of those guys. He's got about 4-5 prime years left to win 5 titles...yeah don't see him going 5 for 5...call me crazy.

  44. Adam Lawrence Says:

    1 thing is for sure...if the Heat don't win the title LeBron will finally be held accountable because it will be the biggest failure of his career and will be his entire legacy until he runs off some titles.

  45. Anon Says:

    "Anon, you don't think it's relevant that the man himself thought there was some truth to it?"

    Like I said before, if HE says it, it MUST be true. Right?

    Right?

    "Kind of a problem for MIA, since they are very good at blowing out mediocre teams, but not so good at executing down the stretch in close games."

    Of course points down the stretch is important. It's also dependent on what happened in the rest of the game prior to those points, which is also important.

    By the way, since you're so much into opinion, let's ask the Boston Celtics what they thought about the Heat's ability to execute down the stretch since you continue to harp on this subject...

  46. Adam Lawrence Says:

    Funny thing is the media painted they baby LeBron in this corner. Before the media turned on Kobe during the Kobe/Shaq feud, you never heard about "well he won titles with...so it doesn't count as much". Now it's just the way you judge the greatest player. A major feather in Kobe's legacy is the fact that he won 2 straight titles with Pau Gasol as his best teammate. His 3 titles with Shaq all of a sudden became more impressive. LeBron's problem is he'd have to win 3 straight titles with Wade and Bosh, then get Wade traded and go to another 4 Finals winning 2 in a row with just Bosh and role players...just to equal Kobe. That is 6 more seasons and in 6 years LeBron's gonna be where Kobe is now. Kobe's now a jump shooter that needs a star of equal or superior talent to win titles at this point. He's been the exception to longevity when it comes to the high school players. It's giving LeBron the benefit of doubt by saying he'll stay elite as long as Kobe has. Chances are LeBron's gonna end up somewhere between Larry Bird and Kobe Bryant. Thats a great career but for "the chosen 1 King James" thats a disappointing career. He was suppose to run down MJ not Larry Legend.

  47. Adam Lawrence Says:

    LeBron is the modern athlete that watches the stat sheet during the game. Back in the day MJ and Magic didn't care about their stats they just wanted to win. LeBron's been aware of how he looks in wins and more importantly losses. This is just the wave of the future. It's why you can't really compare stats from prior generations. Stats weren't as important back then and the game was different also.

  48. Adam Lawrence Says:

    People are being mighty dismissive of Rajon Rondo's injury in that Heat/Celtics series which was a close series. Games 1 and 2 Miami held serve and in Game 3 Boston hammered them with all of the momentum to tie the series in Game 4...then Rondo got hurt. Boston still forced OT in Game 4 only to run out of gas. Then in Game 5 the game was tied with 2:30 left in the game. Miami played great and won by 10 but the game was closer than your typical 10 point spread. A few plays go another way or Rondo doesn't get hurt and Boston might have won that series. That being said it's lame to blame losing a series on a player injury but it's just as blame to brag about being a team in a series where you took advantage of their most important player getting seriously injured.

  49. Adam Lawrence Says:

    We're all seeing now that the Heat's 5 game win over an injured Boston team made people overrate them. They didn't hammer a healthy Boston team in 5 games. Likewise Chicago was underrated because of their early round struggles. It comes down to matchups now. Miami has to win Game 2 if they're gonna win this series. Chicago needs Game 2 badly as well because if they blow Game 2 then Game 1 means nothing.

  50. Adam Lawrence Says:

    To this point LeBron James' biggest resume pelts on the wall are the Rookie of the Year he shouldn't have won and his 2 MVP's which are voted on by the media which has proven a LeBron biased prior to this season. The Rookie of the Year he stole from Carmelo is proof that LeBron was gonna win the ROY coming into that season, if for no other reason than to justify the hype.

  51. Greyberger Says:

    "Are points scored in the first quarter just as important as points scored in the of the fourth? Only if the outcome of the game was decided in the first. In the majority of NBA games, the score is still close in the fourth, which means games usually ARE decided down the stretch. Kind of a problem for MIA, since they are very good at blowing out mediocre teams, but not so good at executing down the stretch in close games."

    You, and logic, are not very good friends.

  52. AYC Says:

    Anon, you love your strawmen, don't you? And I love how my comments are "opinions", but yours aren't; which makes them what? Indisputable scientific facts?

    Greyburger, you do understand that basketball is different from other team sports, right? That opposing teams have the same number of possessions in any given game? There are no shutouts in NBA basketball; you will never see a 75-0 score after three quarters. So --unlike football, baseball, hockey, soccer, etc.-- you can't win a BBall just by scoring a bunch early, and then relying on your defense. You have to keep scoring, or the other team will come back. We have all seen teams make up 20+pt deficits in the span of one quarter. Is that logical enough for you?

  53. Anon Says:

    AYC, my comments are based on facts (with the appropriate context applied to them of course), data, and watching/playing the game. What are yours based on?

  54. AYC Says:

    My opinions are also based on facts/context/data/watching/playing. I just don't pretend my opinions aren't opinions.

    PS Greyberger, I forgot to mention the 24 second shotclock, which ensures that possessions are short and plentiful. Is it wrong to assume teams will score early in a game? Not anymore than assuming, say, that 12% of every player's FTA are from AND1s and Techs, as TS% does....

  55. JTaylor21 Says:

    Adam Lawrence, having fun talking to yourself there?

  56. Tsunami Says:

    There are 3 million+ Cavs fans that will never grant LeBron "redemption" no matter what his fate is.

  57. Tsunami Says:

    And Neil - for all the media's flaws - in many ways Durant is LeBron's foil. Durant never wavered on his commitment to Oklahoma City. He's not only given zero indication he is interested in playing for teams like NYC and "Brooklyn", but he signed a long term deal which allows OKC management to really build around him long term. LeBron gave the Cavs an implied ultimatum in 2004-2005 to get better or else, so they reached on FA to "win now". Michael Redd and Ray Allen took max deals to stay with their respective teams and the Cavs were left with Larry Hughes. Being in "win-now or lose your best player mode" is a sure-fire way to never land an all-star second banana through the draft. Almost every shrewd move the Cavs made the last 4 years was made to get better now, not for the future. LeBron never brought a single free agent to Cleveland. Many rumored that Trevor Ariza would have signed for the MLE but James wouldn't give a guarantee that he was staying. But LeBron was more than obliged to bring FAs with him to Miami (Z, Mike Miller). So I take exception to the tone of your line "The media tried to talk itself into casting Durant as James' foil." The media had nothing to do with anything - Durant has shown himself to be James' foil, mostly because LeBron cares only about LeBron and Durant cares about his team.

  58. Anon Says:

    Tsunami, we know you're a bitter Cavs fan, but quit acting as if Durant is this "model" of morality who "only cares about his team". He signed that contract after a Durant-led team had its best record and made the playoffs for the first time with it's upstart core (and also played well against the Lakers) in his third season in the league; LBJ worked with a Cavs team for seven seasons that didn't win a title when he became a FA and whose front office was only interested in signing either overrated or past their prime FAs. Durant's a nice player, but he wants to WIN. He ain't signing that contract because he had some "obligation" to the city he plays in.

  59. Anon Says:

    "My opinions are also based on facts/context/data/watching/playing. I just don't pretend my opinions aren't opinions."

    An opinion is something like "I like burgers more than hot dogs". A fact is "Games are won by the team that plays better for the full 48 minutes, not just the close of a game". Those are the things I'm interested in. Learn the difference.

  60. Tsunami Says:

    YOU don't know anything, ANON. I, however, am well aware of my bitterness. Great arguments about the record. You immediately realized the Cavs had the best record in the NBA in back to back seasons so you had to try to save face with the whole "upstart core" thing to try to imply a "young" team.

    You can ignore the reality of how the two go about their business but the facts speak for themselves.

  61. Anon Says:

    "You immediately realized the Cavs had the best record in the NBA in back to back seasons so you had to try to save face with the whole "upstart core" thing to try to imply a "young" team."

    That record sure was useful in the playoffs...

    The point is, Durant had his most successful season with the team right before signing the contract. You're not exactly making a apples to apples comparison here.

  62. Tsunami Says:

    You're right. The regular season doesn't matter. i forgot. I look forward to never having to read about LeBron's or anyone's regular season stats again. They mean nothing. at all. They tell us nothing objective.

    Just remember that, the next time you are going to make a "statistical" argument. You've just eliminated your ability to use the 82 game season, EVER.

  63. Anon Says:

    Oh, whoops. I missed the part where Mo Williams played like an all-time NBA playoff great instead of a choke artist in the playoffs.

    It's not that the stats didn't say anything objective; point differential is still the best way to determine future play. It doesn't guarantee anything though, and when a free agent LBJ sees an opportunity to play alongside another proven playoff performer instead of someone who's underperformed in his playoff career, you tell me what makes more sense.

  64. Sean Says:

    Ehh.. a few things...

    1) While Wilt Chamberlain expressing that his overdominance of the ball may have hampered the impact his teamates could have had DOESN'T 'make it true'... it may be no less true than had he never said it. Him saying it, though (and I'm relying on AYC's recall here), undoubtedly makes it a more compelling point---if not more true. I wouldn't be so quick to incinerate what Wilt said to ashes...

    2) Playing 48 minutes of basketball IS important. Otherwise teams would just rest their stars the 1st 43 minutes and have them fresh for the end when it matters. I'm sure AYC didn't really mean for it to sound like that... and truth be told, games do seem to hang in the balance in the NBA VERRY late, no matter what the 2nd Quarter score is at the 5 minute mark before half, don't they? Still, you have to work to be within striking distance for your 'run' to get you a win. Otherwise the guys getting paid $20 Mil would be saved for the only minutes that count------the last 5.

    The only important lap in the Indy 500 is the last one----when the race gets decided, right? No... actually the 1st 199 count towards POSITIONING.

  65. Sean Says:

    @ #47.... Did you say MJ didn't care about his stats? What MJ was THAT?

  66. Anon Says:

    #64: At least your post makes sense about 48 minute ball. Of course the closing five minutes of a game are important and you want players to play well down the stretch. But getting players who deliver for the whole is is more important, and easier to build a team around.

    As for Wilt, I don't blame him for thinking that way. Then again, with those players he played with in San Fran, he kinda HAD to dominate the ball to carry his team, didn't he? It goes back to the "chicken/egg" topic in basketball.

  67. Neil Paine Says:

    #57 - But surely you can appreciate the irony that after months of playing up the "Durant is the anti-LeBron" angle following The Decision, and basically establishing Durant as the presumptive 2011 MVP because of his non-Lebron-ness, the media had to quickly shift gears mid-season when it became clear that Derrick Rose, not Durant, was the guy they had been looking for all along.

  68. Sean Says:

    @ # 66...

    The chicken/ egg analogy is absolutely a valid question. I'm sure we could all agree that it's a case by case thing, too. But let's say Wilt wasn't so dominant of the ball with lesser teamates-------what's the worst that could have happened...? The Warriors would go 31-49? They were already that bad. I have to believe that there was something Wilt could have been doing differently with his awesome ability (and his ability is NOT in question) to better the team's chances. Just a hunch. With THAT said, the COACH is responsible for deploying him differently, too. My main point is to give an extreme example of a guy possibly getting his numbers but NOT doing what's best for the TEAM.

  69. AYC Says:

    Anon and Sean, nobody said the first 1st 3 quarters aren't important. My point is that almost all NBA games are decided in the 4th. Imagine a game where a team outscores their opponent by 30 in the first half. Can that team win the game if they don't continue to score in the second half? Nope, they have to continue scoring to maintain the lead or it will disappear. Even a twenty point lead in the fourth isn't insurmountable. That's what happens when you have a 24 second shotclock; possessions are cheap, UNTIL the end of the game approaches.

  70. Anon Says:

    #68 Well, we don't know if the Warriors go 31-49 with Wilt sharing the ball more.

    What I do know is that in basketball, SOMEONE has to score the ball. As human beings, we always like the warm and fuzzy stories of players who can "distribute" and "share" the scoring load with their team but that only makes sense when the players around you possess the skill sets needed to score/create their own shot. If they don't, then it makes sense that the ball goes into the best player and shot-creator more often than not. Do we neccesarily know that Wilt's teammates that season were better off with Wilt giving them his offensive possessions, especially shots that don't fall within their skill sets?

    This has all been discussed before though.

  71. HY Says:

    "My point is that almost all NBA games are decided in the 4th."

    In case this is correct, then.....

    1. Almost all NBA games are decided in the 4th.

    2. So you have to play well in 4th quarter to win many games.

    3. Miami Heat won 58 games this season and that's 3rd best in the league, which is no slouch.

    4. So can we safely say they were good at playing 4th quarter basketball, then?

    Thank you.

  72. AYC Says:

    Miami was also 0-3 against Chicago in the reg season....

    You're welcome.

  73. HY Says:

    So, losing 3 games against the team which possesses the best record in the league means, what? You're not a good basketball team?

    Don't be ridiculous, man.

  74. Greyberger Says:

    Re: AYC and the fourth quarter...

    "That's what happens when you have a 24 second shotclock; possessions are cheap, UNTIL the end of the game approaches."

    The end of the game is always approaching, from tip-off until the final buzzer. Once a game is over, all possessions are equally important and have an equal role in 'determining' the winner.

    In a 99-98 game, change any one score into a stop for the winning team (or one stop into a score for the losers) and you have a different winner. It doesn't matter if you change the first possession or the last. As humans we're used to thinking of past events as stories, and so we can more easily imagine the last possession going a different way than the first - for some reason that's a more plausible alternate history than one where we change a bucket in the first quarter.

    Let's imagine a game where the score was 93-91 with three minutes remaining, and neither team scores leaving the final score 93-91. You say it's the possessions at the end that are most important. Which of the last dozen possessions is the _most_ important? Is it the bucket that sends team A up to 93 points? Or the final stop that keeps team B from scoring? Or the final lead change, whenever that is? That games are usually close towards the end and that the door is usually left open for what might happen is a completely different question from what does happen in basketball games.

    The only time you can say that the end of the game is more important than the rest of the game is while the game is still happening. Once it's over, all possessions are equally relevant to the final score and all hypotheticals are equally distant from reality.

  75. Greyberger Says:

    I should specify I'm talking about close games above - in blowouts it's worth mentioning that there comes a point (measured in minutes or possessions left) where a team has lost all realistic chances of winning. Anything that happens after that is definitely less responsible for the win than the pre-blowout part of the game. Ironically this makes the fourth quarter show up as the least significant in the regressions of quarter performance against overall performance, since most garbage time comes in the fourth.

  76. AYC Says:

    "The end of the game is always approaching, from tip-off until the final buzzer."

    Certainly. In no way does that change my point: the closer you get to the end, the more important each possession becomes.

    "Once a game is over, all possessions are equally important and have an equal role in 'determining' the winner."

    Once the game is over? That's quite the qualification! I thought we were talking about what it takes to win games... and obviously you can't affect the outcome of a game after the game is over. Can I have some of what you're smoking?

  77. Greyberger Says:

    "the closer you get to the end, the more important each possession becomes."

    That's just not true. I don't know how you came to this conclusion. We're talking about basketball games that have already happened, yes? Not games that are happening right now or in the future.

    In a one-possession game ANY ONE POSSESSION can be said to have 'determined' the game. I don't know how much clearer I can get than that. It's not the last possession that matters the most. It's not the last possession where somebody scored or the lead changed. Those possessions are important if you're writing the game recap, a story that summarizes the game, but objectively speaking they do not have more importance to the score than earlier possessions. Every possession is equally important in a one-possession game.

  78. AYC Says:

    "That's just not true."

    But according to you, it IS true in the present and the future, just not in the past. Which makes no sense.

  79. Greyberger Says:

    You're either not reading or not responding to the content of my posts. It's down to pure snark in your replies. If you're done 'defending' your latest preposterous assertion, then we're done here right?

  80. AYC Says:

    And your comments directed at me aren't snarky?

    We've been talking past each other. I was talking about what actually wins games, and you were talking about statistical analysis after the outcome of games has been decided. I think the former matters a lot more than the latter, at least if you think winning games is the ultimate goal. Is it ridiculous to think winning games is more important than crunching stats after the fact? Honestly, I don't see how you can say late-game performance matters in the future and present, but not the past....

  81. Sean Says:

    Well, it's obvious having Wilt score 44.8 ppg WASN'T working. That much we know. And fearing that you'd risk 'losing your chances' of finishing 31-49 by involving teamates more doesn't make sense. Nobody could possibly have been feeling: 'hey, it's a good thing we stuck with out plan to have Wilt overdominate the ball to the degree he did---otherwise we may not have had that sparkling 31-49 record'... And players 'sharing the ball' goes FAR beyond making a 'warm and fuzzy' human story. It could actually lead to better TEAM results------and if it didn't-------then what do you lose? The glory of a 31-49 season?

  82. Sean Says:

    LeBron and the Heat finished off Game #2 on a 12-2 run, Rose was miserable finishing at the basket and Deng did his best Earnest Byner imitation fumbling the ball away repeatedly in the paint.

    Still, rebounding and 3 pointers seem to be what is swaying the games.

  83. Sean Says:

    As for the continuing war regarding what possessions are most critical in a basketball game-----they ALL are. You need success with the earlier ones so the later ones matter. You can't 'beam' yourself to the last 5 minutes, game tied. You have to WORK to get there. Teams and players who have a chance to win late did things early to get that chance.

    There are great players who deliver for the 1st 43 minutes and great players who deliver in the last 5.

    You need 'em BOTH to win championships.

    The greatest of the greats cover both bases for you.

  84. Sean Says:

    And with the 'sharing the ball' thing, team basketball is an energy sport. Involving players keeps guys awake, energized, etc. They aren't standing around watching. I've heard stories that the Celtics defended Chamberlain differently in the 4th Quarter than they did Quarters 1-3. By the 4th Quarter, Chamberlains team get comfortable playing a certain kind of game and when the Celtics switched things up, you had a lot of teamates of Chamberlain's who suddenly had to be scorers and they just weren't in the offensive flow ot that point and when they were needed they couldn't respond. (I'm not stating this as fact, just repeating what I've heard without trying to shred it to pieces).

  85. Anon Says:

    "Well, it's obvious having Wilt score 44.8 ppg WASN'T working."

    Are you sure of this? It's easy to look at record and say that this is the case, but couldn't it also be possible that the Warriors reached that record in the first place BECAUSE of Wilt's play? If a team wins 20 games instead of 10 because the star is compensating for his teammates' inability to covert shots that he could make, that's success - even if it's not success relative to being a playoff team.

    Basketball is a dynamic sport, but players are still confined to their skill sets. And someone still needs to score the ball.

  86. Sean Says:

    Yes, I'm sure it wasn't working. Basketball allows for 1 player to have too much of an impact to have someone of Chamberlain's abilities be on a 31-49 team, IMO. Particularly someone with Chamberlain's abilities in the early 1960s.

    Do you believe Wilt to be free and clear of the 'problems' of a 31-49 team... or is it plausible that what the Warriors were doing wrong that year includes a good long look at Wilt?

  87. Sean Says:

    BTW, to address your question more directly, I have NO way to confirm that the Warriors win more games than 31 that year if Wilt doesn't overdominate the ball so much. I just don't think that any team with Wilt Chamberlain on it had a goal to win 31 games-----NOT POSSIBLE. It's clear that having Chamberlain overdominate the ball like he did that season was a failure for that team, because there's no way they set out to win 31.

    Other methods COULD HAVE reaped less wins. They, too, would be deemed failures, then. But we know the 'Wilt overdominates the ball' method is a loser. Move away from it. Why wouldn't you?

    I just can't imagine someone saying 'It's 1963 (or whatever year), we've got Wilt Chamberlain-----lets go win 31 games! I know how we can do it'.

  88. Sean Says:

    In 1962, Wilt averaged his 50.4 ppg... and the Warriors were 49-31. There was more continuity on that team than the 1963 version-----so that's gotta be something. But what still amazes me is that a Wilt Chamberlain team, again, in 1962, would be dead last in ppg ALLOWED. With WILT CHAMBERLAIN. I just believe they were doing something wrong... and that it INCLUDED what Chamberlain was doing. JMO.

  89. Anon Says:

    "It's clear that having Chamberlain overdominate the ball like he did that season was a failure for that team, because there's no way they set out to win 31."

    Like I said earlier though, you're just looking at this from the respect of being a playoff team. If Wilt carrying his team means they win more games than they would if he didn't do that, that's STILL SUCCESS from that standpoint. You can't just simply look at win-loss records tonderermine player impact.

  90. AYC Says:

    It's not surprising that the 62 Warriors were last in points allowed. They played at the fastest pace in the league, averaging over 125 ppg; how do you think Wilt was able to average 50ppg by himself? Generally speaking, a team that relies too heavily on one player isn't going to win a championship; scoring champs rarely win titles; Jordan is the exception that proves the rule; that's why he's the greatest ever.

  91. AYC Says:

    #83, I don't get why my point regarding the importance of the fourth quarter is so hard to grasp. Let me try again. First, I didn't say the first three quarters of the game aren't important. What I am saying is that BBall is different from other team sports; it has short possessions, and plenty of them, both teams have the same number of them, AND scoring is very easy relative to other sports; that means for all practical purposes that scoring through the first three quarters is pretty much a given; there are no shutouts in the NBA. Even with a big lead, a team can't coast through the final quarter, because the other team has so many opportunities to get stops and score points.

    Second, you might have noticed I've been talking about the entire fourth quarter, not just the final 5 minutes, or 8 minutes, or 30 seconds, or some other arbitrary cutoff. A full quarter's worth of time is enough to make up just about any deficit, if you score and defend well enough. If you enter the 4th with a 20 pt lead, you still have to maintain that lead; we have all seen games where a team gave away leads like that over the course of the fourth. What Greyberger doesn't realize is that he has made my case for me: entering into the fourth quarter of a game the first 3 quarters are in the past; what happens in the fourth will decide the outcome.

  92. Neil Paine Says:

    This has branched off into an interesting philosophical debate.

    To take a baseball analogy, the later innings would have a higher leverage index (any given outcome would have a bigger impact on win probability) than the early innings, because the full range of potential future outcomes is much broader at the beginning of the game. A deficit in the 1st inning is less damning than the same deficit in the 8th, because there's more expected future variance in outcomes -- more time to "make it up", if you will. So in this sense, events at the end of a game are more important than events at the beginning of the game.

    Yet, at the same time, none of the leverage that occurs at the end of the game could happen without everything that preceded it. Points in the 1st quarter are literally just as important to the final tally as points in the 4th. So in that sense, events at the end of a game aren't any more important than events at the beginning of the game.

    How do we reconcile this paradox?

  93. Anon Says:

    "What Greyberger doesn't realize is that he has made my case for me: entering into the fourth quarter of a game the first 3 quarters are in the past; what happens in the fourth will decide the outcome."

    That's not what he arguing though.

  94. huevonkiller Says:

    Teams CAN coast through the fourth quarter, it is called blowout wins dude. The entire game matters, teams barely hang on to victories but are saved by the other quarters.

    Look at the Lakers last year where Kobe shot terrible in fourth quarters of the Finals. Same thing happened in 2009. The fourth quarter thing really doesn't hold any weight it is just a bunch of mumbo nonsense AYC continues to believe in. And Jordan won titles when he was less dominant than in his prime.

  95. Anon Says:

    "How do we reconcile this paradox?"

    Same scenario Neil; they're just discussed in different respects. No paradox here if you make that distinction :)

  96. Neil Paine Says:

    Then... um... you're both right.

  97. AYC Says:

    Thank you, Neil! I'm glad someone here isn't just dismissing what I'm saying without bothering to really think about it....

    Obviously a point is a point, no matter when you score it. But I'm thinking in terms of possessions not points: like anything else, possessions become more important/valuable as they become scarcer. And I stand by my argument that the nature of NBA BBall makes it harder to create an insurmountable lead early than other sports.

  98. Greyberger Says:

    "like anything else, possessions become more important/valuable as they become scarcer"

    This is certainly not true... A possession's value derives from the chance it gives you to score. There is a unique strategy that exists at the end of games, where teams vie for the last possession, but that's an entirely different conversation.

    "And I stand by my argument that the nature of NBA BBall makes it harder to create an insurmountable lead early than other sports."

    This is not an argument to believe in or not... it's something we can investigate and know for sure. I wouldn't know where to start, but we're in the right place.

  99. AYC Says:

    You wouldn't know where to start? Really? We can start with ppg: the league avg is about 100 ppg; do the other American sports ever have scores that high? We can look at points per possession; the league avg is about 1.12 ppp; again, higher than other sports. Are possessions short and plentiful? Yes: 100+ possessions a game is not unusual, and a possession has to end after 24 seconds (putting aside FTs and Orebs). These are facts. What do the facts suggest to you?

  100. Sean Says:

    AYC sez: What Greyberger doesn't realize is that he has made my case for me: entering into the fourth quarter of a game the first 3 quarters are in the past; what happens in the fourth will decide the outcome.>>>>>>>>>>>

    So why play the 1st 36 minutes? Horseraces are decided in the last few furlongs---I mean usually horses are bunched up down the stretch, right? (except for the 1973 Derby) so the first mile, mile and a quarter really don't matter-----cuz it's going to come down to the stretch anyway.

    The Kentucky Derby should just be the straight away after the last turn, then, no?

    Of COURSE not. What happens in that 1st mile+ means as much to the race as the stretch run does, sometimes more (provided a horse doesn't have a heartattack)... There is attrition, positioning, etc., that set up the finish.

    But I'll sign the petition to cut out the meaningless furlongs and quarters if everyone else will. JUST KIDDING.

  101. Sean Says:

    AYC sez: It's not surprising that the 62 Warriors were last in points allowed. They played at the fastest pace in the league, averaging over 125 ppg; how do you think Wilt was able to average 50ppg by himself? Generally speaking, a team that relies too heavily on one player isn't going to win a championship; scoring champs rarely win titles; Jordan is the exception that proves the rule; that's why he's the greatest ever.>>>>>>>>

    A few things... Firstly, thank you for being a good sport. I hope we're cool. Secondly, thank you for the info on the 'pace' of the 1962 Warriors.

    Frankly, if I had Wilt Chamberlain and I wanted to maximize my chances of winning, I would have made his defensive abilities factor in more and slowed the pace. The plan(s), IMO, with those early 60s Wilt/ Warrior teams were losers...

    Lastly, Jordan winning titles AND being a scoring champion may very well support his GOAT claim------it may also, perhaps even moreso, illustrate the TREMENDOUS job the Bulls' organization did building a team------coach included------that could absorb the usual toxins that come with having a player who dominates the ball like Jordan did in a team sport.

  102. huevonkiller Says:

    Sean, you are aware a huge ballhog led the east to 56 wins in 2001 and an MVP? The Same as 2001 Shaq.

    Team defense does matter, stop acting like it isn't the case.

  103. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    "Well, it's obvious having Wilt score 44.8 ppg WASN'T working. "

    If by working, you mean likely to contend for a title, then obviously not.

    OTOH, maybe 31-49 was the best that team was going to do, and Wilt taking fewer shots or doing whatever intangible thing you or he or somebody else thinks he should have would have made no difference, or made them worse.

    You're just guessing at the counterfactual. For players who have obvious game deficiencies outside the stat sheet, or who are inefficient scorers, you have some real evidence that they may have been taking opportunities from their teammates. But just lookig at that year, it's not all that obvious. Wilt was the only relatively efficient scorer on that team that year who played more than 20 mpg. Now the next year, roughly the same cast made the playoffs. Wilt did shoot less, and passed a lot more (averaged 5 apg that season), and 2-3 of his teammates that had very bad lines in 61-62, were above average. There is some indication that could have been Wilt easing up and not hogging things. But it also could be that Wilt was playing perfectly sensibly in both years, and those other guys just got enough better that it made sense to give them more shots in 1963-64 and not in 1961-62. Hard to tease out. But the fact is, in 1963-64 Wilt still took a ton of shots, and still had 36.5 ppg, but he also had a very high assist total for a center. He was not the selfish player people make him out to be. He was simply dominant and he and his teammates both knew it.

  104. Sean Says:

    huevonkiller Says:
    May 20th, 2011 at 7:37 am
    Sean, you are aware a huge ballhog led the east to 56 wins in 2001 and an MVP? The Same as 2001 Shaq.

    Team defense does matter, stop acting like it isn't the case.>>>>>>>>>

    Stop ACTING like team defense doesn't matter? When did I say that? WTH are you talking about? Stick to the typed word. Ask for clarification. Tuck the imagination away for someone else. Nobody needs you creating other people's opinions for them.

    A ball hog DID get to the NBA Finals in 2001. He can thank the CYO Eastern Conference that year. I think outside of Philly, the East teams' average record was 36-46. There was NOBODY in that conference.

    I think you mean the same as 2000 Shaq? Because in 2001 Shaq didn't even lead his team in FGA. Kobe did. No? And although Shaq led in 2000, it was still within 3 FGA per game of another player (Kobe)-------unlike Iverson's true ball hogging.

  105. Sean Says:

    @ # 103...

    With Wilt in the early 1960s on MY team... I'm thinking I HAVE TO make the playoffs. I HAVE TO win more than I lose. If I'm NOT with WILT in the early 1960's--------I'm doing something wrong. JMO.

  106. huevonkiller Says:

    Yeah and Iverson also played in a tougher league defensively, so shut it down dude. Neil already clearly explained himself (http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=9101).

    And in case you haven't noticed the 2004 Pistons also beat a Superstar team, because of defense. Defense is important, it doesn't have anything to do with intangibles. Defense is half of the game.

  107. huevonkiller Says:

    And no I meant 2001 Shaq.

    Hey guess what, 21st out of 29 in defense that year, that's why the 2009 Lakers won more games with an inferior Superstar duo.

  108. Sean Says:

    Hey, Huevonkiller... who said team defense didn't matter? Cut & Paste it. Stop creating what other people are actually saying and get your act together.

  109. huevonkiller Says:

    You barely covered it and went into this nonsense rant about intangibles.

    Defense is tangible, it is the difference between titles and no titles. It is the single largest factor in losing teams and it can be blamed solely on individual performance.

  110. Sean Says:

    @ 109... No. YOU have been on a nonsense rant about something I never said. WEIRD.

  111. huevonkiller Says:

    Is there something wrong with you lol?

    Look dude, you have WHINED a bunch about ball hogging. You went into this in-depth nonsense rant about offense that isn't supported by anything, and you barely mentioned defense.

    Defense is far more important and tangible, than the unproven stuff you insist on bringing up.

  112. sean Says:

    @ 111...

    Ah... when I make a point, it's WHINING. What would YOU be doing----throwing a tantrum?

    You like the TANGIBLE/ don't like the UNPROVEN... and so this is why you created a view for me about defense? Because I was 'acting' like defense doesn't matter? Because I didn't 'mention it enough' to your liking?

    Is your deduction that I MUST think defense doesn't matter---because I didn't mention it enough---NOT the most whimsical, subjective poop here?

    You like tangible when it suits you. You will also make crap up out of thin air.

    How 'bout sticking to what people say? And having a constructive conversation with them if you're not sure what they think about something?

    Are you capable?

    Defense matters. Many aspects of it can be objectively documented. Some not as much---but they exist, even if we don't know how to account for them as accurately as we'd like. I have a healthy respect for what we cannot account for so well... some people don't.

    But I don't make up views for other people and insist they're true based on what someone DIDN'T say 'enough of'.

    That would be moronic. Wouldn't it?

  113. huevonkiller Says:

    "How 'bout sticking to what people say? And having a constructive conversation with them if you're not sure what they think about something?"

    I am sticking to what you said, you decided to devote your time preaching intangibles and a subjective offensive theory. While skimming over the more important subject.

  114. Sean Says:

    @ #113...

    You're NOT sticking to what I said. You created a viewpoint for me based on the ridiculous activity of taking what someone (me) did NOT say------and making the opposite of such my actual point of view.

    Your failure to admit this and 'own' it-----is pathetic.

  115. huevonkiller Says:

    No one forced you to spam this thread with subjective offensive diatribes, but you did. You can say you think defense matters, but you really have no clue why these teams failed.

    The fact that you're wasting even a second of time on this subject shows you don't understand the tangible aspect of basketball.

  116. huevonkiller Says:

    I'm allowed to think your views are naive, you should calm down.

  117. Sean Says:

    @ 115 & 116... and I'm allowed to call you out when you're WAAAY off base about what my view is. Who ELSE is going to?

    You should rethink your methods. The box you think in is teeny-tiny and your approach to discussion is worse than disasterous.

    I'll talk about that area of basketball that frightens you because you can't box it in and quantify it like your disorder demands as long as such discussions exist here. You're certainly not going to extinguish them, though. You're not the least bit important regarding those discussions. You behave like an over-tired toddler who wants his Binky. Angry, lashing out, irrationally trying to control. Take a nap, kid. You'll feel better when you wake up.

    With that, seeing as the value-level of discussion with you is essentially, zero------I will end this pathetic back-and-forth for the good of the other people here.

  118. Sean Says:

    I had 1050 ESPN Radio on yesterday and Rick Bucher (sp?) was insisting that Derrick Rose's performance in Game #4 actually enhanced his claim to best player (not just MVP, but BEST player). Colin Cowherd, who I'm not normally a big fan of--------called him out, justifiably.

    Did Rick Bucher have a vote for MVP? I'm wondering if he is 'digging in' to defend his pick (if he did have a vote---and if that vote was for Rose).

    Rose isn't the best player. A better argument could be made for MVP of the regular season for him... but regardless--------how can Bucher not just call Rose's Game #4 performance what it was?

  119. Sean Says:

    Ric Bucher DID have a vote-------and he voted for Rose. Which is fine. I would have voted for Dwight Howard, personally. But Rose is fine. What is NOT fine is making the comments Bucher made about Rose's performance after Game #4 VS Miami.

    He's just in denial about Rose's performance, IMO. And I have to think that he's either consciously or subconsciously trying to justify his MVP vote----------which I think is unnecessary. Not to mention that Game #4 VS Miami is totally unrelated to regular season MVP.

  120. huevonkiller Says:

    #117

    Dude you've been freaking out for a while now. Chill out.

    Like Anon said to other people, you need to realize your arguments aren't objective thus we don't care.

  121. Anon Says:

    Actually Huevon, while I don't always agree with Sean he's not a bad poster. But I'm not going to get in the middle of this debate here.

    Ric Bucher is an idiot. He's a perfect example of why I don't entertain any "stats lie; just watch the games" argument. I DO watch the games, Ric. All of them. And you are wrong.

  122. Sean Says:

    I wonder what Bucher's assessment of Rose is in Game #5. He probably saw a guy who now more than ever looks like the league's best player... I saw a guy missing 20 of 29 shots, often killing momentum & not really setting teamates up. I know he had 7-8 assists, but I saw nothing from him that facilitated others' play in the last Quarter and a half, at least.

    Actually, sans a floater in the lane late in the 4th------I saw Rose killing possessions repeatedly single-handedly. Turnovers in passing lanes, and misses on drives to the hoop. Marv Albert was a broken record: 'Rose GETS A STEP...' then he finishes his freakishly quick move to the basket with a haphazard flip of the ball off the glass that NEVER had a chance (this kid has to learn ANGLES with these bank-shot flip attempts! He's just like a fat guy playing Pop-A-Shot in a bar, flipping the balls up------none of them REALLY aimed or shot, clanging off the backboard, missing the rim completely or hitting the ledge behind the cylinder and rolling off)... He's TERRIBLE finishing drives to the cup. He was 7/21 on 2pt FGA-------and a lot of them are missed drives.

    He doesn't draw fouls in the lane-----and it's not like he is always needing to make a circus shot on a drive, either--------he just flat out misses them after getting by his guy and simply having to lift the ball over the help defender who's getting there too late to TRULY alter the shot (most of the time).

    And this is the Bulls offense. Rose, who is NOT a good shot maker, dominates that ball and 4 guys scavenge for rebounds.

    No offense to the Bulls (actually no offense ON the Bulls, either)--------but I'm looking for some darned shot making in these Finals--------and I can't look at that Bulls' offense another second.

    Bring on Miami VS Dallas.

  123. Sean Says:

    Game Notes:

    (1) It used to be that if you caught a pass with 2 hands on the ball and 1 foot on the floor------that your anchored foot became your pivot. Now players---all of them---HOP after catching the ball. Every league I've ever played in that was a traveling violation. The NBA logo should be updated from West dribbling to LeBron hopping.

    You get a travel called on Korver for catching the ball, then sliding his left foot and picking up his right before he dribbles (which IS the right call), then Wade holds the ball out in both outstretched arms/ hands while taking 3 giant steps toward the basket-------and the announcers say nothing. Why is there such a problem with calling traveling when it occurs?

    LeBron travels CONSTANTLY------not because he gets special treatment---------but because he possibly does things that are traveling violations more than anyone else does... and NOBODY gets called for them--------unless you're Korver, then the ref acts like he remembers the rule(s).

    (2) Kareem is awesome in that Priceline.com commercial with Shatner. Imagine Johnny Unitas or Joe Dimaggio ever doing that.