Michael Jordan always looking out for No. 23

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Michael Jordan’s image is taking a beating for the first time… well, really since the 1980’s. After the reports surfaced that he’s the one leading the owners to push for 47 percent (or less!) of a BRI cut for the players, he’s become a target for angst regarding the lockout from those who have paid attention enough to understand the owners’ role in this.

It’s not so much that anyone’s surprised by Jordan’s stance, everyone understood there is no one more ruthless than Jordan. It’s just the rare instance when that side of him sees the light of day. Usually its hidden. His only public reveal of his petty vindictiveness and selfish approach was his Hall of Fame speech, because, really, that’s where you want to show the worst side of yourself. This seems somehow worse because of his complete flip-flop from when he was a player. But many people have rightfully pointed out, he was for himself then, and he’s for himself now. He wanted more money as a player, and more money as an owner. He’s not inconsistent, he’s just consistently self-centered, and in today’s society, there are those that think that’s “awesome,” or “admirable,” or at least understandable. There’s a certain cache to basically saying you only care about yourself. It’s brazen and bold. Compassion and compromise are seen as weak, and a lot of people hate weakness more than they hate brutality or ego. I’m not one of them, but there are people out there that feel that way. But then, of course, there’s this from Yahoo! Sports Friday night.

Had Michael Jordan spoken up at All-Star Weekend labor meeting, union had his famous Abe Pollin quote ready to read aloud. He stayed silent.Sat Nov 05 02:59:34 via web

Oh, the GOAT will screw you, he’s just not going to tell it to your face. After all, he needs you to keep pimping those shoes! Jordan Brand! Woo!

In some ways maybe the 80’s and 90’s were better without the kind of information exposure that comes with the internet. Then everyone could go on ignoring the realities of Jordan’s character in their pursuit of his deification. None of this will ever change the fact that he was the GOAT..That’s how good he was, his performance couldn’t be marred by any personal flaw.  But if Jordan is going to sell out the very group he championed, who look up to him, who helped build the culture that allows him to remain relevant, the least he could do is give them the fist pump or a shoulder shrug in person.

Jordan’s a winner. Jordan’s going to win. And for some people, that’s all they need to keep his name and image shiny and new.

Celtics’ Terry Rozier on Game 3: “We needed to get our butts whooped”

Associated Press
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Cleveland dominated Game 3 Saturday night. They played harder, to start. The Cavaliers’ defensive pressure on the ball was better, they were sharper rotating out to shooters and covering passing lanes. Cleveland’s role players stepped up and helped LeBron James.

Boston, meanwhile, wilted in the face of that pressure Saturday, something it has done a few times on the road these playoffs. The Celtics got away from the things that got them to the Eastern Conference Finals. Guard Terry Rozier put it more bluntly, via A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston:

“I feel like we needed this (loss) to get us back … to get us ready for Monday,” Rozier said.

Rozier later added, “We needed to get our butts whipped. Come back to reality and take care of business on Monday.”

Cleveland is a championship team — from LeBron James on down through the core guys, they all have rings. They have been down before, and heading home it was expected they would play with force. Cleveland’s back was against the wall and they responded.

From the Celtics’ perspective, they also got a little too fat and happy and were not ready for what the Cavaliers came with in Game 3.

Now the pressure is on Boston to push back, to get back to their level of execution and do it under pressure. Make the Cavaliers prove the improved defensive effort was not a one-off game. The Celtics must move the ball and play with some pace, then see if the Cavaliers can keep it together in the face of crisp play.

When this series heads back to Boston Wednesday, it will either see the Celtics in control up 3-1, or the series will be a best of three (with the Cavs still having to figure out if they can win on the road). At home, the Cavaliers are going to play with force again and have some depth. We’ll see if Game 3 was enough of a wakeup call for Boston.

PBT Extra: Can Rockets take Game 2 energy, execution on the road?

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Houston found its blueprint to beating Golden State in Game 2: Strong defensive pressure on the ball, quick switches and communication on defense, getting out in transition when possible, and starting sets earlier in the shot clock and attacking downhill with James Harden and Chris Paul.

Now can they do that on the road? Against a more focused and sharper Warriors’ team?

That will be the question in the next two games of the Western Conference Finals, and it’s what I discuss in this latest PBT Extra.

Cavaliers cruise past Celtics in Game 3, change complexion of Eastern Conference finals

AP Photo/Tony Dejak
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The Cavaliers were heavy favorites over the Celtics entering the Eastern Conference finals. LeBron James has dominated the East for years, and Cleveland appeared to hit its stride in a sweep of the Raptors last round. Boston was shorthanded and inexperienced.

Were the Celtics’ two wins to open the series, as impressive as they were, really enough to override everything else we knew about these teams?

The Cavs walloped Boston in Game 3, 116-86, Saturday. Cleveland now has four of the NBA’s last five 30-point playoff wins – two against the Celtics last year, one over Toronto last round and tonight. (The Cavaliers lost the league’s only other 30-point game between, to the Pacers in the first round.)

Boston still leads the series 2-1, and teams up 2-1 in a best-of-seven series have won it 80% of the time.

But the team up 2-1 is usually the one seen as better entering the series. That isn’t the case here, not with LeBron on the other side. And the leading team usually isn’t so woeful on the road, which will remain a major storyline entering Game 4 Monday in Cleveland.

The Celtics bought themselves margin for error, but they blew a lot of it tonight.

It’d be an oversimplification to say the Cavs just played harder, but they did, and it went along way. They chased loose balls, tightened their defense and moved more off the ball offensively. Cleveland jumped to a 20-4 lead, led by double digits the rest of the way and spent most of the game up by at least 20.

LeBron (27 points, 12 assists, two blocks and two steals) dazzled as a passer and locked in as a defender. He received help from several players:

In a low-resistance effort, Boston didn’t goon up the game at all.

The Cavaliers still have plenty of work ahead to reach their fourth straight NBA Finals, but tonight, they showed a path to advancing. Climbing out of their early series deficit now looks far less intimidating.

Luka Doncic named EuroLeague MVP at age 19

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Luka Doncic, the likely top two pick in the upcoming NBA draft, has led his Real Madrid team to the EuroLeague finals at age 19.

Now he has been named the youngest player ever win the EuroLeague MVP.

For those unfamiliar, EuroLeague is the equivalent of the Champions League in soccer — the very best club teams from around the continent face off against each other. On this biggest of European stages, Doncic has been a force. He is a gifted passer with great court vision. He can take his man off the dribble. He can hit threes. And he knows how to be a floor general and run a game. Did we mention he’s just 19?

Doncic said before the start of EuroLeague that he hasn’t decided what he is going to do about coming to the NBA or going back to Real Madrid. Don’t buy it. This is like asking a major college basketball star right before the NCAA Tournament if he is coming back to “State U” next year, they don’t want to say “no” right before the tourney so they give a non-committal answer. Same here. He’s not leaving millions on the table, he’ll be in the NBA next season.

And he’ll bee good.