May 31, 2015

The King The Ring And The Bling

Good morning and greetings, NBA Final Fans.   It’s now June, and there are only two teams left standing on the NBA horizon.  One is the Golden State Warriors, who have been the talk of the league all season, as Steph Curry and teammates have been dazzling on the court, compiling a league high 67 wins during the regular season and a playoff mark of 12-3, which nobody, including Draymond Green’s fashion consultant, saw coming.
The Warriors have blown through the playoffs, as they swept the New Orleans Pelicans, took care of the Memphis Grizzlies, and knocked off James Harden and the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference finals.  They had a little scare, when in game four,  Stephen Curry did a cartwheel in the air and landed on his head, but he was cleared by the doctors and came back an hour later and reentered the game.
At the time, with the Warriors leading in the series 3-0, one had to wonder, why in the wide, wide world of sports would they risk playing Curry, who had just been cracked on the noggin and had his brain scrambled.  To quote the great Woody Allen, putting him back in the game was a “Travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.”
Sunrise Santa Cruz medical consultant, Dr. Michael Schur, agrees, saying it was the worst medical decision he’s seen made in the history of sports injuries.
The Warriors path to the finals was made a little easier, in not having to face the San Antonio Spurs or the LA Clippers.   But Golden State took care of business in Oakland and were crowned the best in the west, and are now heading for the final challenge.  Their opponents will be the Cleveland Cavaliers, led by fastest gun in the east and the face of the NBA, the self-annointed chosen one, King James.
LeBron James is known as the best player in the world of basketball.  At 6’8″ and 250 pounds, this is a cat that the NBA has never seen, combining strength and quickness to make himself unstoppable.  He is the superstar amongst superstars,  a once in a lifetime athletic specimen.
Or as former NBA center Bill Cartwright describes him, “This guy is really unguardable.  He’s too darn big and too darn strong. Put a big guy on him and he goes around them. Put a small guy on him and he beats him up. He’s a nightmare of a match-up.”
He’s come a long way from a difficult childhood in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, where he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a junior in high school.  LeBron was drafted straight out of high school into the NBA by his hometown Cavaliers in 2003.  He played seven seasons in the Mistake by the Lake, before becoming a free agent in 2010.
In July 2010, he announced in a live ESPN program special titled “The Decision” that he was taking his talents down to South Beach to team up with Dywane Wade and Chris Bosh and play for the Miami Heat.  He said he came down to win five or six titles with the Heat, which unfortunately for him, never came to fruition, which led some to ridicule in the press about his decision making and not wanting to be “the Man”.
He stayed four years in Miami and won two titles, before deciding it was time to pack up go back home to Cleveland.  Like him or hate him, he is a highly influential and  very prominent figure in the sportsworld today.
After winning the eastern conference final game last Tuesday, LeBron James sat down and spoke to Joe Noga and the Northeast Ohio Media Group about where he is at with himself and his team.
Talk about your emotions and what it’s like to be in this position after your decision to return.”It’s very emotional to be back in this city. When I made my decision to come back here, I knew what I wanted to do. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. It was going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication. It was going to be the toughest task for me to try to get this team back to the Finals.”
“I knew I’d have to step up my leadership. I had to be very patient. Which, I’m not a very patient guy.  For us to be sitting at this point today, being able to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals is special. It’s very special.”
Did you think you could do it this quickly?
“I understood we were young and inexperienced.  Things happen throughout the season and offseason that allowed us to acquire Kevin Love. And as the season started, Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert were acquired. It brought our team to a place where I felt we could compete.”Where does the accomplishment of reaching the Finals five straight times rank?”It’s special to know how far we’ve come as a group.  No matter what happens from here on out, to see what we’ve accomplished, being a first-year team together that’s had different changes throughout the course of the season, and faced so many obstacles throughout the season. Injuries here, transactions there, lineups here. It’s something we can be very proud of to this point.”
How much did Cleveland’s 51-year departure from a championship come to mind?  Do you think about that much, and perhaps being the guy who finally gets that for the city?

“I’m a guy who believes in unfinished business. I understood what these people are going through. The people here, not only in Cleveland, but in Northeast Ohio and all over the world who love and bleed wine and gold. To be at this point tonight, sitting here talking to you guys, is very emotional.”

Could I have foreseen this at the beginning of the season?

“I couldn’t. I couldn’t foresee us being in the finals at the beginning of the season. I just knew we had to get better and just seeing how young we were at that point in time. But I knew I had to lead these guys. And if they just followed my leadership, I knew I could get them to a place that they’ve never been before.”

How did the journey of the season get you here?  How has it steeled you for the finals?
“I don’t know how many chapters we have to this season. From the start of the season to making the transactions to acquire these guys. To us having injuries, to us getting to the postseason. To Kevin Love being out for the season. To Kyrie being out and banged up. We’ve had so many chapters that defined who we are.”
“We haven’t got caught up in feeling sorry for ourselves. it doesn’t matter. As soon as you’re out, next man up. When someone is not 100 percent, as a brother you pick that guy up. That’s what teamwork and trying to accomplish a dream is all about. Being able to sacrifice yourself and what you can do for the better of the team.”
Earlier in his career,LeBron was asked if it bothered him to have people root against him.”Absolutely not. Because at the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail, they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today.”
“I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. They have to get back to the real world at some point.”
So there you have it.  Lots of story lines.  LeBron chasing his third ring.  The reigning MVP Curry going up against the four time MVP.  The Warriors back in the finals after a 40 year drought.  This matchup should be a doozy.So tune in on Thursday and check out LeBron taking on the Warriors, a dream matchup for the Finals. This is what Warrior fans have been waiting for all year, a chance to hoist that championship banner, proclaiming the title of the NBA’s best .

And if you ask me, I’m picking the Warriors.  The Cavs have to be happy to get  to the finals.  The Warriors are chasing a championship.  Warriors in seven.  Or maybe six.  I like the even numbers.

For today’s photo journey, we are taking a June visit up along the North Coast.  We start with a shot of the cliffs and the beach above Davenport Landing.  Then we drive two miles north to see a couple of photos of the sweeping coastline of Scott Creek.  All the while, pelicans are flying up the coast, and along the way I spotted a red shouldered hawk.
We end the journey a few miles up the road at Waddell Creek, famous for it’s windy conditions and great kite board riding.  This is the place I came to shoot after purchasing my first SLR camera.  The rest is digital history.
No late night humor this week.  We’ll catch you soaring like the Black Falcon and carrying the scoring load in the series clincher against the Rockets.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Harrison Barnes fans.

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