‘The King’ Opts Out

LeBron James by Keith Allison, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  Keith Allison 

There is a saying that ‘home is where your heart is.’ Does that saying apply to one LeBron James?

NBA megastar LeBron James plans to forego his $21.6 million player option with the Cleveland Cavaliers, which will make him a free agent July 1.

The move is as expected according to the team. However, James is taking a “wait-and-see” approach to make sure the team keeps the roster that went to the NBA Finals this past season. Specifically, James wants to make sure that his teammate Tristan Thompson, who is also represented by James’ agent Rich Paul, is prioritized as #1 on the re-sign list. Thompson could receive a deal worth more than $13 million per year according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

James is also waiting to see what Kevin Love does as a free agent before he reaches a deal with the Cavs. Love has said throughout the season that he plans to return to the team. If he is true to his word, the team plans to give Love a max contract of 5 years, $110 million.

James’ plan to opt out is also due in no small part to the fact that he could receive somewhere near $130 million next offseason when the salary cap and max salaries expand. In order to get that money, he will most likely sign to another short-term deal with the Cavs before getting the max deal.

Why LeBron Really Left Miami

 Whether you believe it or not, LeBron James directly influences most if not all of the Cavaliers’ decisions this offseason. When he decided to leave Miami, a number of reasons were made up including Dwyane Wade’s injuries and James’ desire to return home. While those reasons may be true, I think the factor that played the biggest part in his decision was control of the team.

Miami Heat executive Pat Riley was not willing to cater to James the same way the Cavs are. He reasonably thought decisions such as player personnel, contract negotiations, and head coaching should be left up to management not players. In short, James wanted to be a modern-day king but Riley brought him back down to reality.

Having this much control of the Cavs is probably bringing LeBron one step closer to achieving his future goal of becoming the owner of an NBA franchise someday.

To answer my question at the start of this article, I think home (Cleveland) is where James’ heart is as long as he is able to be king there.



Kicking and Screaming

Three trends that will continue in college football…..like it or not.

Chip Kelly’s been gone a couple of years and Ohio State is back atop college football.  Think this signals a return to the old school ground and pound Saturdays of yesteryear?

Hell to the naw!!

Everything you’ve been loving about college football is going to continue.  The scoring, passing and college free agents are here to stay.

Pace of play has been the topic du jour at conference meetings across the country this offseason.  Nick Saban complained about opposing teams snapping the ball too quickly and not allowing his defense to substitute, thereby endangering the health of his mountainous front three.  Translation:  I keep my defensive linemen at a ridiculously unhealthy weight so would you please change the rules to help me win ANOTHER national championship.  This is the football version of subverting the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy.  And that’s just what hurry up offenses are, a strategy.  The average football program doesn’t have the kind of strength required to block 300-lb linemen and 250-lb linebackers so they use quickness and push the tempo.
Not to mention, think about the rhythm and confidence developed by an offense when they get the defense on it’s heels.  This is what happened to the Tide against Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.  Cardale Jones got that offense rockin’ and ‘Bama was playing more of a reactive game than the attacking style that won Saban three championships in 4 years.

It gave us a pretty exciting semi-final, too.

And since we’re talking about these speedy offenses, could we now accept the Spread Offense and shotgun as legit and productive options?  I know most of the blue-hair boosters and ex-jock commentators spend game days singing the praises of the wishbone and power-I of “the good ole days” but sports (like life) moves forward and innovation happens.  Many coaches point to the rules changes to pass interference and how tightly most games are called as a motivating factor in spreading the field and playing toss-up.  Some teams like to allow athletic quarterbacks (read: football players) the space and option to use their feet to create opportunities.  Just look at Kansas State, Ohio State, TCU and several other programs who have had success getting their quarterback out of the pocket.  Other teams use the space created by shotgun formations to allow their quarterbacks to see the defensive alignments and have additional time to make decisions.  And, dammit – it’s exciting!

And when Saban wasn’t lamenting the unfair advantage created by quick snaps, he was butt-hurt about the transfer rules in the SEC.  Other AD’s were critical of the increase in transfers altogether while most coaches were able to prohibit transfers from attending rival schools by not releasing them from their scholarships.  The problem with all of the above is that many of the transfers are graduates looking to attend graduate schools or pursue additional degrees.  They all look like assholes for trying to control a young man who has done everything right in the “student” part of “student-athlete”.  The more intriguing question is whether conferences and the NCAA will have the stones to formally restrict a legitimate practice…..especially when coaches can recruit and then abandon kids for a new job.  I’m betting the Power 5 conferences and NCAA will back away from any real action on transfers since the negative P.R. will outweigh any possible positive.  Who knows…..maybe transferring players will create the offseason intrigue and offensive power the NFL enjoys every year.

All of these new wrinkles to America’s new national sport have met opposition and skepticism, mainly from traditionalists and vested interests.  As with any innovation, there will be speed bumps and U-turns, but there will also continue to be excitement and (best of all) David’s beating Goliath’s.

USA advances to the semi-finals

Team USA advance to the semi-finals by defeating China 1-0 in the Women’s World Cup quarterfinal on Friday.


The Semi-finals against Germany will be on Tuesday, 7pm est.




Mo’ne Davis rubbing shoulders with legends

14 year old Taney Dragons pitcher Mo’Ne Davis, was only 13 when she became the first female to ever earn a pitching win at the Little League World Series. While making history of her own she met a baseball history maker Hank Aaron on Tuesday.

Legendary, “Hammerin’ Hank,” Hank Aaron is a retired MLB right fielder and Hall of Famer met with Davis and her little league teammates and gave them a tour of Turner Field.  Aaron shared many stories with them including one conversation that he had with his father, in which he told his father he wanted to become a pilot and his father said, “Son there are no Negro pilots” He also added that, “You can play baseball.” From that day forward Hank began to pursue a career in baseball.

Baseball is not the only sport Davis plays. The mulit-talented athlete joined her 8th grade varsity basketball team and has  been selected by, The legendary Harlem Globetrotters as part of their 9th annual player draft.  Director of player personnel Sweet Lou Dunbar, says “When we conduct our draft, we look for outstanding athletes from different sports all over the world that exemplify the Globetrotters’ efforts to provide service, smiles and sportsmanship globally.”

Currently Mo’ne and her teammates are on a three week civil rights trip. Their next stops include the Martin Luther King Jr Center, and The National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Virginia wins first College World Series


Congratulations to Virginia Cavaliers who won first NCAA baseball College World Series with victory over Vanderbilt Commodores 4-2.

Cavaliers LHP Brandon Waddell commented after the win, “Words can’t even describe it. It’s something that I’ll remember for my entire life.”


US Beats Colombia, Will Meet China in Quarterfinals

It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win. The US defeated Colombia in Monday’s game by a score of 2-0, advancing them past the round of 16 and into the quarterfinals. Their next game will be against China on Friday, June 26. While China is no Germany or Japan, they obviously have some talent and could be a tough test against a struggling US offense that will be without two starters, Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holliday. Also, there’s some history here. This will be the first time the US faces China in the Women’s World Cup since beating China to win it all in 1999. Remember that one?

Maybe this will help…

Leading into their game against the US, Colombian players took some shots at the Americans. “They belittle us…We’re going to beat them since they like to talk so much,” said Colombian midfielder Lady Andrade. Yoreli Rincon added “they don’t have the heart we Colombians have.” SHOTS FIRED. The beef goes back to the 2012 Olympics when Lady Andrade hit Abby Wambach with a punch to the eye. The US went on to win that game 3-0. Two years later, the tension is still there. The US, on the other hand, stayed relatively quiet.

But for all the talking Colombia did, it looked as though The US would jump out to an early lead. In the third minute, Wambach scored…but was called offsides. Besides that, the US offense was lackluster, a problem that has not seemed to solve itself through the first four games of the tournament. And although Colombia never truly threatened the US defense in the first half, they did control the pace of the game.

While quality scoring chances were hard to come by in the first half, cards were not. Lauren Holiday got a yellow card in the 17th minute, her second of the tournament. She will miss the next game against China. In the 41st minute, Megan Rapinoe got her second yellow over the past four games. She will miss the China game, as well. At the end of the half it was still 0-0 and things didn’t look great for the US.

In the second half, the US women got some much needed help. Rapinoe played a ball into space for Alex Morgan and it looked like Morgan would have an open and uncontested shot at the goal. But Colombian keeper Catalina Perez came out and tried to make a play on the ball. Instead she got Morgan’s leg and a red card.

Colombia would have to play with a woman down for nearly the entire second half, while their starting keeper sat in the locker room. And with Wambach poised to take the penalty kick, it looked as though the USWNT would take their lead. But Wambach missed. She missed wide left.

The game was still 0-0.

Morgan would eventually find the back of the net in the 53rd minute to put the US up 1-0.

Thirteen minutes later, Megan Rapinoe got fouled making a run into the box, setting up the Americans’ second pk of the game. Carli Lloyd buried it and the US was up 2-0 with 24 minutes left. The US would go on to win, advancing to the round of 8 and knocking Colombia out of the tournament. It was a win, but it was far from impressive. The US has a number of issues to address before their game against China.

On one hand, the American women can feel somewhat confident going up against China. In their last 24 games playing China, spanning back to 2003, the US is 20-0-4. But the US will be without Rapinoe and Holiday. While Holiday has not been spectacular so far, she is still a solid starter and has played the majority of the minutes in the first four games. Replacing her won’t be simple. Rapinoe, on the other hand, has been one of the best offensive weapons for the US. She scored two of the three goals in their win against Australia. She delivered the corner that Wambach put past the keeper for their only goal in the win over Nigeria. And her pass to Morgan set up their first pk opportunity in the win against Colombia. She’s been instrumental in a struggling offense. It’s unsure whether coach Jill Ellis will stick with the 4-4-2 lineup she has been using, or mix things up to better suit the skills of those replacing Rapinoe and Holiday.

One thing is for sure, though. The United States will need another great defensive performance if they expect to win and advance to the semi-finals. Their one goal allowed is tied for best in the tournament. Against Colombia, they only allowed two shots on goal. TWO. Hope Solo leads the World Cup in saves and has posted clean sheets in three out of four games. While the offense has struggled, the defense has shined.