LeBron: “I want to be the best of all-time. It’s that simple.”

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He has said this before. Seemingly every year.

When he said it as he entered the NBA and in first few years in the league it came off as the hubris of an immature player and person. Because it was.

LeBron James is not an immature player anymore. The shiny championship ring he picks up next Tuesday from David Stern is evidence of that. His newfound maturity lets him tap into his game unlike never before. But it doesn’t change his goals he told Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press.

“I want to be the best of all-time,” James said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It’s that simple.”

And the ring may bring him a step closer to that lofty — and possibly unattainable — goal. But he says it doesn’t change anything.

“Not really, honestly,” James said. “I haven’t had much time to really just think about what actually happened. At the end of the day, there’s still going to be people that say, well, he’s not going to be able to win two. He’s not going to be able to do it again.”

The comments on this post will fill up with plenty of “he can’t do it, he can never be Jordan.” I’ll let go for a minute the debate of whether Jordan is really the greatest player of all time (he clearly is in the conversation, but your splitting hairs with Magic Johnson and Bill Russell and others), my point about LeBron remains unchanged from a couple years ago even after “The Decision:”

We can’t define his legacy at this time.

Until he decides to walk away from the game in five years, 10 years or whenever he decides it is time, we cannot say what his place in history will be.

We will look back at LeBron as maybe the most physically gifted player ever to lace up the sneakers — 6’8”, 250 pounds, and with the speed and court vision of a guard. But what he did with those gifts and how much he got out of them, we can’t set in stone for a 27 year old.

His goals remain the same. As they have since Sports Illustrated deemed him “The Chosen One.” But how close a more mature James can get to that goal remains to be seen.

Hawks sign two-way Tyler Cavanaugh to standard contract

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ATLANTA (AP) — Rookie forward Tyler Cavanaugh, who originally came to Atlanta on a two-way contract, has signed a multi-year deal with the Hawks.

Cavanaugh has averaged 5.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 19 games, including one start, since signing the two-way contract on Nov. 5.

Cavanaugh, from Syracuse, New York, played two seasons at Wake Forest before transferring to George Washington, where he averaged 18.3 points and 8.4 rebounds last season. He was selected the National Invitation Tournament Most Outstanding Player in 2016 after leading the Colonials to the NIT title.

 

Carlos Boozer announces retirement

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
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Carlos Boozer went from being known as a gritty second-rounder to an overpaid defensive liability.

In some ways, that’s the ultimate success story.

Now, after playing last season in China, he’s walking away.

Boozer on ESPN:

I’m officially retired.

The Cavaliers drafted Boozer with the No. 35 pick in the 2002. After he spent a couple productive seasons in Cleveland, the Cavs declined his cheap team option to make him a restricted free agent – with an agreement he’d re-sign at a reasonable rate if you ask them, with no handshake deal if you ask him.

Boozer bolted for the Jazz, who gave him a six-year, $68 million contract. He made a couple All-Star teams and helped Utah reach the conference finals.

Then, he went to Chicago on a five-year, $75 million contract after the Bulls struck out on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010. The Derrick Rose-led Bulls never broke through, and Boozer was often the scapegoat.

Chicago amnestied him, and he spent his last NBA season with the Lakers three years ago.

Boozer was a pretty good player paid like a very good one, and that didn’t endear him. We mostly remember him for accidentally punching a referee below the belt:

Painting on hair:

And yelling “and one!” after nearly every shot.

For a while, it seemed the 36-year-old Boozer wanted to play another NBA season. But he finally could no longer find a front office eager to pay him.

It’s only fitting that he was denied that last “and one!”

Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis still not talking off court

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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The Bulls are 5-0 since Nikola Mirotic returned from an injury suffered when Bobby Portis punched him in the face during a preseason practice. Mirotic and Portis are both excelling individually, and Chicago has outscored opponents by a whopping 34.3 points per 100 possessions when those two share the court.

Jack Maloney of CBSSports.com:

When asked if the two former combatants have spoken yet, Mirotic said, “We did on the floor. We’ve always spoken because we need to have good communication.” As for whether they’ve talked off the floor, however, Mirotic was succinct in his response: “No.”

I guess Mirotic hasn’t completely moved on, though he said he did. But that’s fine. How could someone get past a teammate punching him in the face?

Importantly, this is becoming just a regular NBA problem. The extent of that practice punch was practically unprecedented. But plenty of players have loathed teammates while making it work on the court. That happens more than people realize.

Mirotic and Portis can make this their status quo – at least the on-court cooperation. I’m not convinced Chicago will keep winning like this.

Watch Kobe Bryant’s ‘Dear Basketball’ short film (video)

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Kobe Bryant announced his retirement in a letter called “Dear Basketball,” which was made into a short film.

Now, on the day the Lakers retire his Nos. 8 and 24, you can watch it. It’s quite beautiful: