5-at-10: Friday mailbag on LeBron, Gandolfini and summer requests

5-at-10: Friday mailbag on LeBron, Gandolfini and summer requests

June 21st, 2013 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Gang, the NBA has ended (training camp starts next Thursday) and we're looking right into the blinding light that is the dog daze of summer.

From the "Talks too much" studios, what do you make of this... well, we can make a hat or a broach or a pterodactyl flying through the air.

From several folks early this morning (paraphrased and combined)

The James side - Do you think the LeBron haters will quiet down now?

And the anti-James side - Stupid Spurs, now you LeBron lovers will never shut up. What's next, is he going to come up with a better mouse trap?

LeBron James

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

All,

No, the LeBron haters will not quiet down. They have very little to hang their hat on in their anti-LeBron bias (and if The Decision is your biggest anti-LeBron argument, well, get over it) so LeBron adding his second title will hardly slow the flow.

And no, we don't plan on doing any more or less LeBron talk than normal any way.

That said, let's respect this moment for the moment it is. James delivered in Game 6 and Game 7, needing big-boy performances to win the NBA championship and secure back-to-back titles. Does it matter that the main feeling is relief for the favored Heat and James? Does it matter that this was expected, and when expectations are met rather than exceeded, the reaction is a good one rather than a jubilant one?

Of course not. But this seems a fair time to gauge where LeBron is, no?

Here is James' resume: He's 28 years old. He is one of five guys to be a four-time NBA MVP - Jabbar, Russell, Chamberlain and Jordan are the others, and that's pretty good company. He's one of three guys to be MVP of the regular season and the finals in the same season more than once - Jordan and Bird are the others, and that's pretty good company. He has two titles. Those are the accomplishments for the trophy case.

As for the skills, those are tougher to compare and scary to image. Jordan was 28 when he won his first title, and MJ's game had started to morph from the greatest air act since a young Doctor J to a ruthless scorer with a deadly mid-range jumper. James is physically superior to almost any basketball superstar ever. He's 6-foot-8, 270 pounds and plays point guard on one-end of the floor and guards power forwards on the other. In Game 7, he hit half his 3s, and gang, if LeBron continues to improve as a long-range shooter - he shot better than 40 percent from 3 this season - he's almost unguardable.

We'll stand by the revelation we shared Thursday - this championship adds to the collection and the resume, but it does not mean he's the best ever or not the best ever. It's a piece of his legacy, which is still under construction, and while MJ nor Bird nor Magic nor Russell can add anything more to theirs, James still has a hard hat on and is still working.

We do believe this: James is fun to watch for a variety of reasons, the biggest being he is the most unselfish superstar ever - almost unselfish to a fault at times. And enjoying that, and the assembly of a career that's going to be in the discussion of the best ever, is more than enough for us.

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From TJ

I have read the 5@10 for a while now and really enjoy the back and forth. I have never thought about writing in but after going to the Best of the Preps dinner this week, I had to ask a couple of questions.

Jay, you did a great job hosting the event and Chipper seemed really cool. My question is, who is the coolest athlete you've met and who is the worst?And if I can ask one more -- this was my first Best of the Preps, but which dinner was the best one?

Thanks, and thanks for the 5-at-10.

TJ -

Thanks for reading and for the questions. And feel free to swing by anytime. (This is where we used to say, don't cost nothing in honor of John Blutarsky in Animal House, but with the new web system, it either don't cost nothing or don't don't cost nothing depending on when you click on the story. Suddenly out head hurts. Where were we? Oh yeah...)

This year's Best of Preps was the best one we've been a part of to tell you the truth. Everything seemed to go very smoothly, and the folks behind the scenes who have helped us raise this event to unimagined heights have really found a groove with this puppy.

Chipper was by far the best of the five we've had who did the Q-and-A format. The best speaker in our 11 years of going to the banquet was Bill Curry, who also is one of the most genuine and good dudes we've met in this BID-ness.

As for sports stars who impressed us or who left us less than impressed, well, you have to know that the media folks see some behind-the-scenes stuff, but a lot of times, it's crafted and calculated, too. And in truth, some guys are just better in that setting than others.

As far as being cool, well, there's several definitions of that. We'll say this, Deion Sanders was very gracious and generous with his time to the TFP sports editor when we were new in the BID-ness and didn't really know what we're doing. We also have been very impressive with the genuine nature and cool demeanor of our last two BoP speakers - Chipper and Eli Manning.

As for the others, well, Tiger is not exactly a peach, Mrs. Haverkamp. But to be fair, it seems like there's something to be said about the drive and the determination and the singular of focus that comes with working to be the best ever, because there are a lot of the supreme, ultra super-duperstars - Tiger, Serena, Saban, Jordan, Bellichick, et al. - who do not exactly seem like ideal dinner companions.

Great question.

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Actor James Gandolfini attends the 2009 New York Film Critic's Circle Awards in this Jan. 11, 2010 file photo.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

From Jomo

James Gandolfini belongs on Mount Rushmore of leading stars in long time TV series. Right up there with Perry Mason actor Raymond Burr, James Arness of Gunsmoke. . . . And who else, Jay?

Jomo -

We had been working on something similar even before James Gandolfini passed, and Gandolfini was on it then.

There really are two lists here, and Gandolfini as Tony Soprano is likely on both.

The first Rushmore is the best lead characters in TV history. The second is the Rushmore of actors that became forever linked with the character they played.

As for the first, it's a true blend of great writing and great acting. Our Rushmore of lead characters in TV history is Tony Soprano, JR Ewing, Archie Bunker and Homer Simpson. (Side note: We did not count people on great shows who were playing themselves like Seinfeld, Lucy or Cosby.)

As for the characters on the Rushmore of link (the ultimate test is when you see them, you go, "Hey, there's the Fonz") we'll go Tony Soprano, Arthur Fonzarelli, Thomas Magnum and Kosmo Kramer.

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From sportsfan

Jay - I just saw that James Gandolfini died. Bummer. Always thought Tony Soprano would return to the big screen. For the Friday mailbag...name your Rushmore of entertainers (music, tv, or film) that would leave a big hole if they left this earth too soon.

Sportsfan -

Such a great question, and in some way, Gandolfini could be considered for this even though The Sopranos has been off the air for a few years. we loved that series and like you always expected a movie spin off at some point. Now, that can't happen. (And even if it does, we're not acknowledging it. You can't have The Sopranos without Tony.)

Our Rushmore of entertainers we'd miss - George Strait,

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From Walden

Gawd, how long til College Football?

Walden -

While this question was asked rhetorically, we thought we needed to answer it. Ten weeks from tomorrow until the start of the season, which means roughly six weeks until the start of preseason practice.

And yes, we need to get ready. So for the next six weeks, we're going to spend a week on each of the big six teams in out coverage area. We'll spend a week on UT, UTC, Alabama, Georgia, Auburn (because we can) and then the last week on questions across college football. We'll announce the order later today, and we're still tinkering with the set up so give us a little room.

Ten weeks seems like a long time, but it seems shorter than 70 days, right?

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From McPell

The MLB trading deadline is about a month away, what, if any, deals do the Braves make? Besides setting Uggla up in the stands with a pitching machine to provide a nice breeze for the fans in the August heat.

McPell -

We're still too far out to speculate because we do not which teams will be buyers and which will be sellers. Plus, we believe the Braves are in the enviable position of getting to wait and see if the rest of their division forces them to make a deal.

If they are going to make a run to win the whole thing, they definitely need another bat in the lineup. The formula of Freeman and hopin' for a homer is going to be tough come playoff time. There also is a need in the bullpen in front of Craig Kimbrel

And while they have starting pitching to deal, if they were going to acquire a hitter, it's going to have to be a piece that is a serious addition. You can't rent a hitter, displace a player that's going to be in Atlanta for the next few years, and then expect them to be better for it next year. And yes, we are speaking of the human fanning machines that are the Struggla and the Stinky Upton.

Now if you can find someone who would take either of those two, great. If you're ready to cut bait with an Uggla or a Heyward or whomever, then make them part of the deal. If not, adding a piece and wrecking the chemistry of a club that seems to have a good vibe may be subtraction by addition, especially if Stinky Upton's part of the deal and it causes Mediocre Upton to impersonate his brother out of protest.

That said, here's saying that if/when the Braves cut bait with lil' Danny Struggla, he goes somewhere and returns to the guy that the Braves traded for - a .260 hitter with a ton of power and a load of walks. And here's saying that he destroys the Braves forever, be it in Atlanta or against Atlanta.