Insights & Art

Straight from the dome to the plate.

Tag: MVP

The Coronation of a King

The buzzer rings, the sea of gold cries out in dismay and LeBron James lies prone on the floor, weeping his heart into the hardwood. 

Humans have always used symbolism to understand the world around them, a president is not just an elected leader but the symbolic face and representation for a country. Likewise the pyramids of Giza and the Great Wall of China are more than just the summation of stone and physical labour; they are testaments of a nation’s power and culture. Game 7 of the 2016 finals was more than just a 48 minute basketball game, the entire narrative of two teams, two cities were at stake and LeBron James understood the consequences of defeat.

2015 and a vast majority of 2016 belonged to the San Francisco Warriors and in particular Stephen Curry. Slowly, yet surely he had become the poster boy of the NBA, the fast cutting, methodical chaos known as the Warrior’s offense and shooting had turned the game into a spectacle. Basketball had once again entered the public consciousness just like when Jordan was wearing red or when O’Neal and Bryant were dominating in the purple and gold; the Warriors were that good.

In 2011, James destroyed Derrick Rose’ threat to his throne. In 2012-2014 another challenged had arrived, a 6’10 scoring machine with the touch and dribbling abilities of a guard; yet at the peak of his athletic powers, James cemented his dominance over the NBA. In 2015, another player ascended to take Kevin Durant’s position; the 6’2 point guard; Stephen Curry. Slowly you could see the gears of the NBA shift, the league was getting smaller, shooting became more vital to success; Stephen Curry’s emergence was almost meteoric. Then Curry became the only player in league history to win the MVP in an unanimous vote; James’ relevance was slowly being diminished, out shone by the lovable assassin, who had turned three point shooting into a video game.

The narrative had changed; three point shooting wasn’t just important to winning a championship, it was now ESSENTIAL, and Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson apparently embodied everything you would want as the foundations of your team.

How did LeBron James translate this? “I’m a 6’8, 250 pound locomotive who is also the most versatile player in NBA history and you don’t think I’m good enough to win a ring because I don’t shoot 5 three pointers per game?… We’ll see.”

However, in the 2015 finals, James was unable to overcome the stacked Warriors team with a depleted Cavaliers squad. The conditions were completely unfair to James, yet history only has time for winners, that’s how society works. We measure every player through milestones, small details eventually fade from the public memory as time goes on; but milestones, they’ll stay. (How many people remember Kobe Bryant shooting 25% in game 7 against the Boston Celtics in 2010? No, we just remember him for his 5 rings)

The Stephen Curry narrative was flourishing.

However, LeBron James rose to the challenge displaying almost superhuman energy and fortitude during the final three games of the 2016 finals. These are his statistics for game 5, 6 and 7 respectively.

GAME 5: 41 Points, 16 Rebounds, 7 Assists, 3 Steals, 3 Blocks, 2 Turnovers, 53.3% Field Goal Shooting, 50% Three Point Shooting, 62.5% Free Throw Shooting.

GAME 6: 41 Points, 8 Rebounds, 11 Assists, 4 Steals, 3 Blocks, 1 Turnover, 59.3% Field Goal Shooting, 50% Three Point Shooting, 75% Free Throw Shooting.

GAME 7: 27 Points, 11 Rebounds, 11 Assists, 2 Steals, 3 Blocks, 5 Turnovers, 37.5% Field Goal Shooting, 20% Three Point Shooting, 80% Free Throw Shooting.

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CLEVELAND, THIS IS FOR YOU!

Three images resonate with me when I reflect on this series. Firstly, J.R. Smith’s Alley-Oop to LeBron James in game 6, it was another reminder that despite the growing mileage of his body, James is still one of the most physically imposing human beings, ever. It reminded us that despite how sweet and fast Curry’s release was, he was a full 5 inches shorter and 60 pounds lighter. The secondly play was Kyrie Irving’s ridiculous step back three point dagger against the unanimous MVP; when the offense on both teams seemed to stagnant and die, this was the spark that sealed the fate of the Warriors. Finally, I will remember James’ superhuman rejection on Andre Iguodala, rising up like Superman himself, James comes down with the furry of an avalanche and smites the ball into the crowd, all within the span of a second.

We all live vicariously through our athletes, because we want them to succeed and triumph against insurmountable odds. We want to believe that the physical constraints of flesh are nothing when met with an unstoppable will, that trivial things like injuries and age are secondary to blistering passion. We want our athletes to succeed, because they represent the achievements of humanity, because they symbolise what is possible. And in the final 3 games of the 2016 season, James forever etched himself into our conscious, how many years will it be till we find another player of his caliber?

So what does the 2016 championship ring mean for LeBron James?

“James is unclutch”
“James can never win in his own town, he needs to join up with others”
“James will never rise to the moment like Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan”

Here are the facts, the Golden State Warriors had a legendary season whilst breaking the 1996 Bull’s record of 72 wins and maintaining the longest winning spree of 24 consecutive victories. Here are the facts, Stephen Curry’s 2016 statistics are mind numbing; 30.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 6.7 assist, 5 three pointers per game and being the only person in the 90%-45%-50% club. But this is also another fact, only three teams have ever been down 3-1 in the finals and have managed to reach a game 7 and only one team has won the ring whilst being in that position; 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers.

As of now, James currently sits as the 6th greatest player of all time in my all time list behind Jordan, Jabbar, Russell, Johnson and Duncan. However with the 2016 championship fresh under his belt, James is quickly climbing up the ladder of greatness. Now, more than ever LeBron James is no longer battling his opponents on the court, but rather for a permanent place in the hall of basketball greatness, as one of the most gifted players to ever step onto the hardwood.

“I set out a goal two years [ago], and I came back to bring a championship to this city, I gave everything I had. I put my heart, my blood and my sweat, my tears to this game.”

3 RINGS.
3 FINALS MVP.
4 MVP.

We are all witnesses.

Celebrate hard, Cleveland.

14 Questions for 2014, Part Two.

There’s a common misconception that God almighty took a  rest on the seventh day of creation, that’s false, instead he sat down and wrote 14 QUESTIONS FOR 2014 PART TWO. Get some while it’s hot!

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“Is Dwight Howard’s legacy tainted forever because he’s a bitch.”
Dear Lord, I almost sound like a bitter Laker fan, I’m going to take one of those long depressive baths you saw in the Hurt Locker and cleanse myself from the Laker infection. Let’s get some facts straight, from 2009-2011, (2009) in particular, Dwight Howard was an absolute beast on defense, his worth and value were much more than just numbers, he made every player scared to attack the paint, he made them hesitate because a 6’10 locomotive was waiting in the lane. Give me 2009 Dwight Howard’s defense along with 10 points over 18 points and 2013 Howard any day. Give him another 3/4 uninjured years and he would of solidified himself as one of the greatest defenders of all time. Shame shame shame. Then two things happened, Dwight Howard decided to star in his very own reality television show!!! (Sorry, couldn’t help myself) and Dwight Howard hurt his back injuring a herniated disk in his spine.

He’s never been the same.

I had Howard ranked 15 in 2013’s top 30 list and as the second best center after Marc Gasol, does he really deserve to be around the 15 position? Not really the Lakers failed miserably in the playoffs and his goofy, fun loving attitude wasn’t exactly productive to team chemistry especially since Kobe is trying to equal Jordan in rings. My biggest surprised was the fact Kobe didn’t start an all out brawl at the Staples after Howard goes 4/14 from the free throw line for the third time in consecutive nights.

So how does D12 blend in with Houston Rockets, firstly I don’t think Howard is built for the big cities, he just doesn’t give the impression that he lives or dies for basketball the way a DRose, KB24 or even a Carmelo Anthony gives off. That 3/15 from the free throw line with that big smile even after a 30 point spanking just doesn’t fly in Los Angeles. Unacceptable. Now he’s teaming up with James Harden, a HUGE step down from Kobe Bryant in terms of competitive fire also Harden isn’t as alpha as Kobe so they should gel decently well, better than Howard and Kobe bonded anyway. The quick pace the Rockets love to play is also going to highlight Howard’s strength and downplay his weakness. Firstly no center can keep up with Dwight Howard, his physical gifts should really shine in Kevin McHale’s system. Secondly Dwight Howard still has yet to get more than two post moves (Running hook with both hands and shifting to a face up position and blitzing past the defenders.) in such a guard dominant system, Howard wouldn’t have to occupy the post as much, he just needs to grab rebounds, defend and score easy buckets. Shouldn’t be too hard right? After all he led a mediocre Orlando Magic team to the finals based on the same philosophy.

So is Howard’s legacy tainted forever? No, not really, he still has a chance to be one of the greatest defenders of all time with 7 All Star appearances and 3 DPOY awards. Will he surpass David Robinson and Patrick Ewing in the second or third tier of great big men? Probably not. His legacy has been dented but not broken.

“Should we the most attractive cheerleader in every NBA organisation perform a one minute solo during the half time break and then the world can answer the critically important question of which team has the hottest cheerleader bro? Dude are they wearing underwear or shorts? Allowing male audiences to systemically rank each organisation not on wins but on boobs.”
MAKE THIS HAPPEN DAVID STERN 2.0 (Adam Silver)

“Will the New York Knicks be better than the Brooklyn Nets?”
One important aspect of basketball that the 2013 Lakers highlighted, you just can’t throw a bunch of big names together and expect them to gel you have to factor their age (Steve Nash, I’m looking at you) and their personality (Dwight Howard) and you need a coach that knows what a post move is. (D’Antino) On paper Nets have a better team, the starting five of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez looks ferocious on paper, it includes 3 players which are in my top 30 and 2 other players in my top 50 players for the 2013 season. Throw in Jason Terry (Sparkplug), Reggie Evans (Homeless version of LeBron James with better rebounding skills) and Kirilenko and that’s some serious fire power. Jason Kidd remains to be a mystery but he was one of the five smartest players of the 2000s along with Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Chris Paul and Tyrus Thomas in an alternate reality. There’s no way he becomes a horrible coach? Right? Maybe especially with a lot of talent around him…. But then again my mind flashes with Bill Russell (Coached a poor team to a poor record), Willis Reed (Meh) and Wes Unseld made everyone in Washington suicidal and don’t tell me Bill Russell wasn’t a basketball genius. Just don’t.

The Knicks have a forever injured Stoudamire, Andrea Bargnani whose excelled so much as the Three-Pointer-Shooter-No-Defense role I’m surprised Dirk Nowitzki hasn’t popped the question, Tyson Chandler who did not look like himself in the playoffs (Neither did KG but KG’s passion is infectious, how many times has Carmelo Anthony thought “Hey I should rebound because that’s what Chandler wants me to do?” Not many times) and the second best scorer in today’s game; Carmelo Anthony. I’ve always been a believer in a great scores will always win you one game in a playoff series’ll throw up 42 points (Think Harden against the Thunder) and only a few guys in the league can do this; Kobe, Carmelo, LeBron, Durant, Westbrook, Chris Paul, Curry, Harden and MAYBE Parker that’s it. Sorry Wade, Nowitzki and Paul Pierce.

So who’s going to be better? Probably Brooklyn… Am I going to discount the Laker’s crash and burn failure of 2013? Some what, Brooklyn just has so much talent on paper, their disgraceful collapse at the hand of a Bull team without Rose, Deng and an injured Noah whilst allowing Nate Robinson to look like a midget version of Durant was unacceptable. But that should probably be fixed with Garnett’s addition to the team, he’ll install a competitive fire under Deron William and Lopez’s ass because he’s a maniac, a psycho that lives and breathes basketball and then eats little children after games. Speaking of which can we get Kevin Garnett to play in international beach volley after he retires, the image of a 7 foot Zulu tribe leader playing on white sand is too funny.

14 Questions for 2014.

It’s the first installment of Chingy’s 14Qs to start off the 2014 season where we ask the real questions, so gather your little children around the campfire, roast your mash mellows and proceed to share all your hair in ecstatic delight this is 14 Questions for 2014!

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“Will Miami Heat 3-peat?”
Yes. I hate this and I’m probably going to be become an alcoholic in 2014. The Miami Heat are still the best team in the east despite the addition of Derrick Rose back to the Bulls (HELL YEAH!), despite the Nets acquiring Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and despite Indianna Pacers trying to desperately rip off a Bad Boys impersonation. The Heat have the biggest advantage in the whole league right now, LeBron James, who is experiencing his greatest stretch of basketball since Michael Jordan’s peak years of 1988-1993. There are two reasons and only two I have to doubt the Heat.

1. Dwyane Wade’s knees which have a ridiculously large amount of mileage and he can no longer consistently  perform like he did in 2009 where he was just an athletic freak of nature that was guardable on the fast break, and an unguardable slasher, someone who could will himself to get 10 free throws a game just by charging into the paint recklessly. Apart from losing the Zydrunas Ilgauskas award (Hardest name to spell in the NBA) to Nikoloz Tskitishvili of the Phoenix Suns, Wade has also lost a lot of the explosion in his knees. It seemed the sports world had a little bit of an orgasm after Wade produced one or two good games in the Eastern Conference Finals and one or two good games in the 2013 finals. Should we really be surprised that the fourth greatest shooting guard all of time is able to perform under pressure? Should we be surprised when 7 years ago he had one of the greatest finals performances of all time with O’Neal as his second in charge and the referees as his sixth man? (Sorry, too soon) A performance where he averaged 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds (WHAT), 3.8 assists and had a crazy 33.8 PER? Probably not… Yet Wade’s game hasn’t evolved he has yet to get a consistent jumpshot and let’s not even start about his three point shooting. Wade also had a Gary Payton/Jason Kidd kind of post game he would switch too if he had little munchkins like Nate Robinson or Chris Paul guarding him, he definitely didn’t have that in the finals.

2. Mental fatigue. It’s my biggest issue, Wade’s a warrior he’ll come back he may no longer be the high flying death machine he was from 2006-2011 but he’s still a good player. Mental fatigue is the biggest killer on this team, it’s hard to still motivated after so much basketball, after the world criticises every action and word you say, after you go to 3 finals in a row and LeBron James played at the 2012 Olympics, that’s seriously a lot of ball. Will Norris Cole and Haslem be able to stay motivated? Especially since they’re already wearing two rings? Will LeBron James be able to consistently enter Boston game 6 where he ripped out the throats of his defenders? Do the Heat still care enough after winning 27 in a row and cementing themselves in the history books? Hmm…

“Which team is most likely going to have an all out brawl in practice.”
See I’m telling you, I’m asking the questions that really matter! Well I’m definitely going to throw the Sacramento Kings in at one number, they’ve been an absolute disgrace as a basketball team, why did I still have to ask the following questions in 2013, how come Tyreke Evans IS STILL shooting anything from 20 feet and beyond, why is Boogie still death stares the referees without running back to play defence, why does Michael Malone (coach) look like he wants to kill himself on most days. Legitimately any team that features Boogie, Isiash Thomas or Travis Outlaw deserves to make it to Chingys-All-NBA-Brawl-Team of 2014.

I have the Clippers finishing at second, there’s already beef between Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan (Runner up for most ghetto first name with Marshon Brooks coming first) and it’s documented. Griffin dislikes how much sway Paul has, he dislikes he isn’t relied upon more to close and he dislikes how everyone thinks he’s a bitch around the league. Paul doesn’t trust Griffin to close, he doesn’t like it how Griffin and Jordan seem like they love dunking more than winning and Jordan is pissed off for some reason. Can’t you totally see CP3 flipping out at Jordan after he rubs him on the head like Pau Gasol? I can, sign me up for the Clippers-WWE-Match! Make it happen David Stern/ Adam Silver!

“Will the LeBron James win MVP”
Yes. LeBron James is a monster right now and he knows it, you know the scene in Terminator 2 where Arnold Schwarzenegger enters the bar, destroys everyone, steals the biker’s clothes, impresses every female with his long penis and rock the sunglasses like an absolute boss with Bad to the Bone playing in the background? That’s LeBron James, he’s Scarface after a mountain of Cocaine, he’s Michael Jackson after Thriller, he’s king of the world right now. Who else in HISTORY can defend the 1,2,3,4 and 5 like James? Pippen? Not strong or athletic enough (Read that statement again, Pippen not athletic enough? Dear Lord is James a cyborg?), Magic Johnson? He isn’t close to the on ball defender that James is…. Who else? No one. LeBron James is the first person in history to create the Power-Guard-Defend-Every-Player position. He’s the second greatest passing Small Forward behind Larry Legend, his on ball defence deserves mention in the league with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Michael Cooper. Athletically he’s up there with Chamberlain, MJ23 and prime O’Neal, he’s a gust of wind and we’re the leaves. He’s the best player in the world and only Jordan from 1991-1993, O’Neal (2000-2002), Larry Bird (1985-1987) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1993-1995) have submitted a matching three year crescendo of basketball dominance. Wilt’s statistics meant every little in the playoffs as he’s performance dipped and he often shrunk underneath the pressure, Elgin Baylor’s and Oscar Robertson’s greatness likewise produced nothing when it came to rings, Kobe Bryant’s 2006-2008 stretch had one finals appearance. Fun fact, if I had the second pick in the Greatest Basketball Draft of all time, I would pick LeBron James (2013) second. Who else can be your point guard, your defensive anchor, your lock down perimeter defender, can guard every position, can destroy you on fastbreaks and overpower you in the post and to top it off be athletically invincible? No one, that’s who. I respect greatness when I see it and LeBron James is great.

Chingy out.

PART ONE OF 14 QUESTIONS.

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