5 at 10: LeBron James, the Miami Heat and the NBA Playoffs

5 at 10: LeBron James, the Miami Heat and the NBA Playoffs

June 1st, 2011 by Jay Greeson in Sports

Sweet seventh circle of Macon, it was 70 degrees when we got started a little after 6 this morning. It's going to be a hot one gang. Radio reminders: We'll be on SportTalk on 102.3 FM with Quake, Dr. B (he's a doctor after all) and Cowboy Joe (he's a cowboy after all) today around 5 p.m.; we'll make our regular Thursday appearance on "The Show" on 1310 AM with Chris Goforth (he's a Goforth after all?) tomorrow around 2 p.m.

From the "7-Up Stinks Studios" here we go...

Miami Heat's LeBron James (6), Chris Bosh (1) and Dwyane Wade (3) reacts during the last minutes of the second half of Game 1 of the NBA Finals basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks, Tuesday, May 31, 2011, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Mavericks 92-84.(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Miami Heat's LeBron James (6), Chris Bosh (1)...

Some times it's really simple

The fundamental goal in playoff basketball is to make someone other than the opponent's best player beat you. When you are forced to choose between Dwayne Wade and LeBron James, that makes it tough.

The Heat used the best 1-2 punch in sports to roll to a 92-84 win over Dallas in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. It was just one game. It was just one game won by the home team. It was one game that Dallas had an eight-point lead in the second half.

But, it was a game that the Heat won despite shooting less than 39 percent. And still won going away because Wade was Wade and LeBron was LeBron.

Dirk was very good, especially considering he tore a ligament on his middle finger on his left hand, but other than Shawn Marion, the Mavs had little else. In fact, the Heat bench outscored the Mavs bench (read that again), and if that happens there's no way Dallas wins a game, muchless the series.

It was one game, and the Mavs assuredly can play better. But so can the Heat.

Until someone in Dallas blue shows they can slow down Wade and James -- and someone steps up to Dirk, who is being called No-ring-tzki on The Twitter -- Game 1 played out like we thought. And it appears the series will, too.

Miami Heat's LeBron James dunks during the second half of Game 1 of the NBA Finals basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday, May 31, 2011, in Miami. The Heat won 92-84. (AP Photo/Larry W. Smith; Pool)

Miami Heat's LeBron James dunks during the second...

The Greatness of LeBron

The Decision was a debacle. The preseason pomp and cirmcustance was pompous and circus-like.

But, the presence of LeBron and the Heatles have jumpstarted the NBA to Jordan-like levels. He's the best player on the planet, sure, but he's also the biggest attention grabber in sports right now.

Consider the following:

-- He was 4-of-5 on 3s, including a signature, falling-out-of-bounds 3 at the end of the third quarter. If he's making jumpers, especially from 3, he's unstoppable.

-- He has been the ultimate shut-down defender, guarding everybody from Chicago point guard Derrick Rose to Dallas 7-footer Dirk Nowitzki.

-- The NBA has reached an interest high point not seen since Jordan's heyday becauseof LeBron. In fact, James and the Heat winning the Eastern Conference Finals received 30-percent better ratings than Jordan's Bulls in 1995-96, and the Heat did it exclusively on cable.

-- The Cavs went from the league's best record and home-court advantage to holding the No. 1 overall draft pick in their first season without LeBron. (Or LeBum as he's been dubbed in the greater-Cleveland area.)

-- We all saw how bad Cleveland was after LeBron left, but want to hear a staggering stat about how much better LeBron made everyone in the Cavs organization? New Lakers coach Mike Brown was introduced Tuesday. Brown, who coached the LeBron-led Cavs for five seasons, has the fifth-best winning percentage in NBA history. Yes, Mike Brown. Yes, the fifth-best winning percentage in NBA history. Wow. (Sidenote: Do you thing Brown's phone call with Lakers star Kobe Bryant went something like this, "Yes, Kobe. Sounds great, Kobe. You bet, Kobe. Well... love you Kobe... hello, hello... must have lost the signal.)

-- LeBron is the current King on the sports interest-creating list, and he has bumped Michael Vick from the top five. Here's our list of the biggest attention-generators in the last 25 years: (Sidenote: The athlete's sport matters a great deal because in football people watch more for the color of the jerseys than the numbers on the jerseys. This is the list of players that not only drew in the common fan, but gave the common fan a rooting interest -- either for or against -- simply because these guys were in the game.)

Mike Tyson

Tiger Woods

Michale Jordan

Barry Bonds in 2002


(Sidenote: The just-missed list included Vick, Dale Earnhardt, Stephen Strasburg (too brief a stretch), McGuire-Sosa, Michael Phelps among others.)

Oakland Athletics' Shannon Stewart, left, manager Bob Geren, center, and general manager Billy Beane, right, chat during spring training camp on Monday, Feb. 20, 2007 Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Oakland Athletics' Shannon Stewart, left, manager Bob Geren,...

Catchers at the dish

Oakland general manager Billy Beane told his catcher Kurt Suzuki not to block the plate. Beane's view is he'd rather have Suzuki on the field than have him injured blocking the plate.

OK, that logic's fine. Did he tell outfielders not to dive for balls? Did he tell batters to ack off the plate? Did he tell middle infielders to avoid hard sliding runners on the pivot of a double play? Yes, the 5-at-10's being a little sarcastic, but the hand-wringing over Buster Posey's season-ending injury has reached sewing-circles levels.

Yes, Posey's injury in a brutal collision at the plate was a tough blow to the San Francisco Giants and an awful break for one of the game's young stars, but c'mon. Can you name the last catcher who had his season ended with a home-plate collision? Didn't think so -- it's not like this is happening three times a week.

If Beane doesn't want his catcher to block the plate, hey, that's fine. (Quick question(s): Wonder how Suzuki's teammates will feel about this development? Wonder how the A's season ticket holders will feel if the A's lose the pennant by a game and Suzuki tries a handful of swipe tags in close games for the next four months?)

The biggest point of all here -- and it's true across all sports -- is if you are playing NOT to get hurt, you're more likely to get hurt. And there's no way you can play up to your ability. It's science.

UT coach Derek Dooley watches his team Saturday in the Orange and White game at Neyland Stadium. Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press

UT coach Derek Dooley watches his team Saturday...

College football rumblings and ramblings

The SEC spring meetings started Tuesday in Destin, Fla. (And the SportTalk guys asked an interesting question about why those meeting are never in Calhoun, Ga. or Sand Mountain, Ala.? Any guesses?) Topics were varied -- UT coach Derek Dooley wanting more coaches on staff; all the coaches offering opinions on "oversigning;" coaches offering views on the Ohio State downfall, including Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino, who was less than thrilled about the Buckeyes playing all of the tattoo-for-gear crew in Ohio State's Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas.

There will be more news conferences today and more insight offered (unless of course the questions are about those coach's teams, then the answers will be vague and in some ways confusing). And speaking of confusion, Les Miles rules. Just wanted to throw that out there.

Further north, the day after Jim Tressel's resignation at Ohio State, there was a finality to the feeling coming out of Columbus on Tuesday. And there was some hostility. At least one "offensive starter" allegedly told ESPN's Joe Schad that quarterback Terrelle Pryor was more or less to blame for this. The "offensive starter" did not give his name, but this only adds to the opinion we offered Tuesday that Pryor's days at THE Ohio State University are numbered.

Atlanta Braves' Dan Uggla, left, looks to the dugout after he was thrown out advancing to third on a hit by teammate Freddie Freeman as Arizona Diamondbacks' Ryan Roberts, right, looks away during the sixth inning of a baseball game on Wednesday, May 18, 2011, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Atlanta Braves' Dan Uggla, left, looks to the...

This and that

-- Hey, Dan Uggla was used as a pinch-runner in last night's 5-4 loss to San Diego. Ah, Dan Uggla, the new Albert Hall-nominee for outstaning achievement in pinch-running. Let's say the 5-at-10 was expecting a little more when Uggla was acquired.

-- Tiger Woods told Jack Nicklaus that he will not play in Jack's tournament "The Memorial" this week because of the nagging knee and Achilles' injuries that are now threatening Woods' chances at playing in the U.S. Open. (Woods' game is threatening his ability to WIN the U.S. Open.) "I don't know the extent of his injuries," Nicklaus told reporters Tuesday. "I told Tiger when I was on the phone with him - which is the same thing I've said to him a thousand times - 'Tiger, nobody ever wants their records to be broken ... but I certainly don't want you not to be healthy and not have the opportunity to play to break records. I want you to get yourself healthy, do what you have to do to go play, get your golf game back in shape, and I wish you well. I would say that to any athlete and anybody, because I think that's the way it should be. But what his situation is, I don't know any more than what I read."

-- Crazy stat update: Curtis Granderson hit his 17th homer Tuesday. He also has five triples so far this year. According to Elias Sports (those people are on top of it, by the way), Granderson is only the second player in MLB history to have 17 or more homers and at least five triples before June 1. The other was Babe Ruth in 1928, and any time you see your name on a list with Babe Ruth, well, job well done.

Until tomorrow.