Posted: Wednesday April 13, 2005 2:28PM; Updated: Wednesday April 13, 2005 5:23PM
The team has become almost unwatchable. Brendan Malone's idea of an offense is having four guys watch while LeBron shoots off-balance 24-footers. James spends way too much time with the ball in hands. Why play Snow if he's not going to bring the ball up the floor? So we can watch him clang 14-foot jumpers off parts of the rim the ball should never touch?
As for the identity of the new guy (and the new coach), you'd better believe they're both going to be wearing the LeBron James Stamp of Approval. If it takes hiring his mom as GM to keep him happy, I say do it. Gilbert would be stupid not to listen to him -- if he loses James, his investment is ruined. Say what you will about players meddling in front office affairs. It might not lead to the best moves, but if it helps avert one terrible move (namely, losing a franchise player), it's worth it.
NBA needs a minor league, ASAP
I took interest in Jermaine O'Neal's comments that the NBA's desire to introduce an age limit is racist. He was on ESPN2 Tuesday night clarifying his remarks, and it was a bizarre interview. A large part was Greg Anthony putting words in O'Neal's mouth then saying something along the lines of, "Is that what you meant?" And then O'Neal would say, "Exactly."
O'Neal, who said his original remarks were overblown, doesn't believe David Stern's desire to implement an age limit is racially motivated; but he did point out that the overwhelming majority of players who would be affected by it are black. He said that sports such as baseball -- sports with more white players -- go after young kids all the time and no one says boo about it.
An age limit effectively would force kids to go to college and, to put simply, some kids -- white and black alike -- just aren't cut out for school. So an age limit is putting them at a distinct disadvantage. What the league needs is a place for kids like that. The NBDL should, in theory, be just that, but it doesn't work out that way. The league needs a true minor-league system, like baseball's, in which the NBA teams stock a farm team or two with players. If that were to happen, there'd be a way into the league for an 18-year-old who isn't as skilled as, say, LeBron.
Nonetheless, I have a lot of respect for O'Neal for taking the league to task and for going on TV to defend his position, even if he skirted a question or two.
Breaking it down
I'm watching Baseball Tonight as I write this, and John Kruk and Harold Reynolds are breaking down Albert Pujols' swing. They're standing on their fake home-plate set; Reynolds has a bat and is mimicking Pujols as Kruk stands by and explains it all. This one of the more peculiar trends in sports broadcasting: the interactive studio host. NFL and NBA guys do it, too. I don't know if it's something about former players having trouble letting go of their pasts or what. But whatever the reason, it's kind of strange. Maybe if it happened with media coverage of other industries, like entertainment, it wouldn't seem as jarring.
Perhaps E! could have a show on which Kevin Dillon and Eric Roberts broke down actors' styles. They could review The Ring Two, with Dillon standing there with his eyes wide open like that little kid as Roberts goes, "He lives and dies with that look. And look how an occasional full-body shudder can convey an extra touch of spookiness." Or they could break down Brando in The Godfather, with Dillon telling us, "See how Eric's putting cotton in his cheeks. That's what Brando did to nail down Don Corleone's speaking style." And Roberts could make some crack about how on more than one occasion he's awoken after a night out feeling like he had a whole bale of cotton in his mouth, then throw it back to the desk.