Cavaliers’ Mike Miller: ‘Championship or bust makes basketball not as fun as it should be’

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Once LeBron James made the decision to return to the Cavaliers, the recruiting of his former teammates who could fill the role of veteran sharpshooters began to take place.

Mike Miller is the one who statistically is likely to have the biggest impact, but James Jones was added, as well.

If nothing else, the pair can help James lead a young team with zero playoff experience through the tangled web of traveling an entire NBA season with targets figuratively placed on its players’ chests.

The expectations on any LeBron-led team are for a championship to be within reach, and Miller, speaking at his introductory press conference in Cleveland on Wednesday, acknowledged it — while admitting that the game isn’t necessarily as fun when that’s the case.

From Scott Sargent of Waiting For Next Year:

“LeBron makes things easy, but it’s also about what this organization is about,” said a suited Miller at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “Cleveland is a hard-working city, and winning a championship takes a lot of hard work. It’s a blessing and we’re excited about the opportunity.

“It’s going to be crazy this year and we understand that. ‘Championship or bust’ makes basketball not as fun as it should be, but [a championship] is our goal.”

Miller’s right, in that the scrutiny that comes over the long grind of the regular season can be grating, especially if the team should get off to a slower-than-expected start, or find itself in the middle of any type of losing streak.

LeBron and his former (and now current) teammates have been through that fire, and that experience will be helpful, especially with guys like Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters who at times haven’t handled the pressure from the media with all that much grace.

While the journey may not be that enjoyable at times due to the pressure to succeed, the payoff, of course, comes at the end of the season — provided the Cavaliers make it to the Finals, and live up to those championship expectations.

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:

Double number retirement fitting for Kobe Bryant

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Kobe Bryant’s career truly occurred in two acts.

He was Shaquille O’Neal’s super sidekick for three championships. Then, Kobe led the Lakers to another two titles himself after Shaq departed.

He was an athletic, high-flying slam-dunk-contest champion. Then, he became known for his cerebral play and footwork.

He faced trial for rape in Colorado (the case was ultimately dismissed, and he settled civilly), blame for Shaq getting traded and criticism for being too selfish when the Lakers struggled in the aftermath of Shaq’s departure. Then, Kobe – still beloved by his fans – again became a socially acceptable marketing force.

His 2007 trade request serves as the more accurate intermission point, but his 2006 jersey change from No. 8 to No. 24 works well enough. He had a Hall of Fame career in No. 8 then a borderline Hall of Fame career in No. 24. Think Tracy Mcgrady’s career followed by Bernard King’s – but it was just Kobe followed by Kobe and with far more postseason success.

Here are the win-share leaders with a single franchise during Kobe’s career:

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So much about Kobe is excessive – his accolades, his shot selection, his reputation as clutch. He had an all-time great career, but the myth outpaces reality.

Yet, Kobe becoming the first player with two numbers retired by the same team – which the Lakers will do at halftime tonight – feels incredibly appropriate. In his 20-year career with the Lakers, Kobe had time to succeed then succeed again in an extravagant way only he could manage.

He was dedicated and disciplined, flashy and fastidious, No. 8 and No. 24

Warriors will watch Kobe Bryant’s numbers get retired, Lakers might not

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The Lakers will retire Kobe Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 at halftime of their game against Warriors tonight.

The road team won’t miss it. The home team might.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr, via Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area:

“I want our guys to see it,” Kerr said Saturday. “It’ll be a pretty cool moment.

“Just to experience of one of the greatest players in the history of the game getting his jersey retired and we happen to be there? I’m not going to keep them in the locker room watching tape from the first half. The players would look at me like I was nuts.”

Lakers coach Luke Walton, via Harrison Faigen of Lakers Nation:

“I hadn’t thought much about [watching the ceremony],” Walton said Sunday. “We’re still deciding how we’ll approach halftime.

“Our first priority is still the job that we have. I’m sure there’s going to be some halftime adjustments we need to make against the Warriors. We’re toying with a couple different ideas to let guys at least see part of it.”

Kerr seems like a pretty cool guy, someone who understands what truly matters. This will be a historic moment, and that can take priority over watching video for one night in a long season.

But he also has the luxury of coaching an all-time great team. Even with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia and Shaun Livingston injured, the Warriors are favored.

Walton has a young team that needs every break it can get. But he too should embrace the significance of the ceremony. His franchise is.

After reportedly initially being scheduled for pregame, the ceremony will occur at halftime. The NBA implemented a hard 15-minute limit on halftimes this season. Any team not ready will be assessed a delay-of-game penalty. So, lengthy speeches tonight could hinder the current team on the court. And that’s well worth the cost of doing business.

In the same regard, current Lakers watching Kobe’s ceremony would gain pride in being a Laker. There’s real value in that, probably more than in going over adjustments for a December game during a season very likely to end outside the playoffs regardless.

George Hill nails half-court buzzer-beater with less than a second to shoot (video)

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I bet this made George Hill happier.

The Kings still losing to the Raptors, 108-93, probably didn’t, though.