Tuesday, July 27, 2010

CP3, Dez Bryant, and No No's

Go ahead. Let New Orleans Hornets point Chris Paul hear it. You don't like 'Super Team,' you don't like self promotion, well then go ahead and let CP3 know your upset with his sudden urge to bolt the 'Bayou for greener pastures. Come on now, LeBron James has become public enemy #1 after spurning Cleveland in somewhat 'not good enough for me' fashion, now you've got to give Chris Paul pretty similar treatment. Since his 3rd season in The League, the Hornets point guard has established himself as the single most dominant point guard in the league, 1A or 1B amongst point guards in any conversation. Yet after five seasons in New Orleans, with two years remaining on his contract, and moving further away from their deep '08 playoff run, it seems as though all signs point to Chris Paul wanting out of New Orleans in favor of a contender. Oddly enough, we've heard very little backlash toward Paul for wanting out in New Orleans. His short list of contenders to be dealt to include L.A., Orlando, and of course the Knicks. Being good friends with James, it should come as no shock to anyone that Paul wants to take aim and be involved in a championship title bout against the Miami Heat sooner than later. But Chris, your not a free agent. There are about four players in this league that would return equal value to the Hornets, and two of them are on the Heat. Since no one else is going to bang on Chris Paul for these rumours being out there, I will. You signed a contract which pays you close to $14 million year, the Hornets aren't going to get equal value in a trade, and the Knicks would still need Carmelo in a year before being in contention. Before you force the hand of the New Orleans Hornets, maybe you want to slow down and take a look at the landscape of the NBA. Or Maybe CP3 was telling the truth when he said 'I hope to represent the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana for many years to come.' At the very least that sounds much better than 'I'm taking my talents to South Beach.'

Why do stories of rookies v. veterans get out at Cowboys camp?!? Because they're America's Team. First-round phenom Dez Bryant refused to take part in a rookie tradition of carrying veteran Roy Williams pads after a training camp practice. Why!?!? Because Bryant says "I'm not here to do that, I'm here to win." Sounds good, Cowboys fans love it, do we really need these traditions in football? This is how the defenders are coming out for Dez Bryant this week. But in this particular situation, it's slightly jaded. 1) We love Bryant. He, like Cowboys receiver Roy Williams, is a Texas native. He's a 6'2", 21-year old dynamite wideout. Everything we've seen of this kid since coming to Dallas, has been phenomenal. 2) We hate Roy Williams. The Cowboys gave away two top draft selections to the Lions in 2008. Only 25 starts, Williams has less than 900 yards receiving, a ton of drops, and for the most part has helped out no one. That's it. If this were Dez Bryant standing up to DeMarcus Ware or Marion Barber or Tony Romo, things would be different you can bet on that. We'd preach about how you respect the veterans, it's tradition, why are you not going with the flow and being part of the whole team? But because it's Roy Williams, the embattled, disliked Roy Williams, we're going to side right with Bryant. Although I've got to say, as much as I like Bryant, I want a drama free Cowboys team while they are putting together a team to make a run at the Big Dance. I've got to side with Roy Williams, the kid just needs to go along with it and put in work, it would only help raise his status with his teammates and the fans as well. Sorry Dez.

When Rays righty Matt Garza spun a no-hitter last night against the Detroit Tigers, he became the first pitcher in Tampa Bay baseball history to do so. With that, the fifth pitcher of 2010 to spin a gem of this kind, more than each of the last two seasons combined. In 2010, it's no doubt the year of the pitcher. From Matt Garza and Dallas Braden in the American League, to Roy Halladay, Edwin Jackson, and Ubaldo Jimenez in the National League, no-hitters seem to be less and less rare. The five we've already recorded and then the near misses. Into the eighth went Red Sox hurler John Lackey last week. Who can forget the missed call blown no-no of Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga. With five in the books, it's crazy to think that number could have increased by half with just a few more pitches made. With steroids and other performance enhancing drugs being cycled out of sluggers systems, the MLB pitching seems to be getting more dangerous by the second. With Josh Johnson and his 1.61 earned run average in South Florida, with C.C. Sabathia again biting of chunks of American League batters, and of course a slew of starters from Adam Wainwright in St. Lois to Jon Lester and his 143 strikeouts in Boston, pitching is by far and away dominating this show. I'm going over 7 no-no's this season, we've got more than two months remaining, another two isn't much to ask for. Get After It!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How It Should Be

All the talking heads are out, they need to be put in place and who better to do it than your talking heads at LRN. Time to break it down and get after it!

We're Off

He's had (9) seasons of 1,000+ yards receiving. He's been voted an NFL All-Pro five times. Selected to the Pro-Bowl (for what it's worth) six times. He's played in 14+ games in all but one season of his 14-year career. Nearly 15,000 yards receiving, nearly 150 touchdown catches. However, in a 'what have you done for me lately' league, wide receiver Terrell Owens remains unemployed just weeks before NFL training camps open. Turning 37-years old this winter and coming off a less than Owens-like season in Buffalo, 55 catches for 829 yards, there doesn't seem to be many owners and general manager's in need of his services. The locker room killer and as far as fans in at least three NFL cities feel, the "ultimate headache," being unemployed for Owens is exactly How It Should Be.

I'm completely on board with LeBron James taking his talents to South Beach. As a fan of these Boston Celtics, how can I not be?!?! I'd love to have seen what the trio of Garnett, Pierce, and Ray Allen would have won in their prime. Yet I understand YOUR point. Jordan, Bird, and Magic, all amongst the elite players of all-time, wanted to crush their counterparts rather than team up with them. When Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and Magic Johnson show disapproval of LeBron's decision, it should only be expected. Michael Jordan would lash out at teammates for playing poor in practice. Here's a guy who refused to let the Wizards fail, to the point that he came out of retirement to go from the front office back to the hardwood. We know Michael wouldn't have done that, but LeBron James isn't Michael Jordan. Unfortunately for LeBron, he's going to have to take it from these legends, and that's exactly How It Should Be.

While we're on the topic . . .

Dwyane, Shhhhh. That's the best advice you're going to get. I see where you were going with "We enjoy the bullseye. Plus, there's going to be times when we lose 2-3 games in a row, and it seems like the world has crashed down. You all are going to make it seem like the World Trade is coming down again, but it's not going to be nothing but a couple basketball games." You don't need speak on this. LeBron isn't your big brother, he's just your friend and if you haven't noticed he can handle things on his own. D-Wade, your the King Of Miami, over the past two weeks you came out looking better than anyone. Successfully luring two All-Stars to join you on South Beach, grabbing the front and center spot on SI, as Kobe gets older and LeBron became Public Enemy #1, young Durant playing in the basketball annex that is Oklahoma City, that leaves Y-O-U. LeBron has got to take a little heat, no pun intended, all you've got to do is keep it quiet and that's How It Should Be.

Does anyone know that 1 of 4 of the PGA Tour Major Championships took place this past weekend?!?! Don't use the excuse that it took place across the pond as to why you ignored it. You ignored it for one simple reason, say it, say it, because Tiger finished 23rd and had no shot on Sunday. Truth is, Open Championship winner, Louis Oosthuizen is going to merely be a hard name to pronounce in ten to fifteen years. Furthermore, after everything that has gone on in the past 365 days for Tiger Woods, everything, he's still one of the most popular, have to watch, athletes on the planet. During The Masters, when Tiger Woods was playing his way into it, you were tuned in. Two majors, won by Graeme McDowell and the guy with the tough name to pronounce from South Africa, are going to be lost in the shuffle. With the Harris Interactive Top 10 most popular U.S. Athletes coming out this week, and Tiger Woods (a philanderer of the worst kind) still resting on the top tied with Kobe Bryant (accused of rape just a few years ago), one thing is for certain, flaws or no flaws, we don't get sick of talent. That's How It Should Be!

Lou Piniella, Out! I'll always remember Lou as the coach of those early Mariners teams with Griffey, I used to watch them as a kid (I'm 27). Piniella the famed coach kicking up dirt, slamming his hat to the King Dome carpet, that was the Piniella I'll remember. For the last couple days since the announcement that he'd be leaving the Cubs at the end of the season, we haven't heard one bad thing about 'Sweet Lou. Good things all around. Turn back the clock a week though. The death of Yankee boss George Steinbrenner was felt with mixed reactions, sure George wasn't the nicest guy in the world, a little off tilt, and most likely a really hard person to work for, only the ones who have would know. Now there is a difference between retiring and death, but with all due respect to those doing both, ease up on 'em. We don't need to discuss how terrible Steinbrenner may have been, just treat 'em like 'Sweet Lou. That's How It Should Be!

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

World Cup Flop?!?

I'll be honest, I gave the World Cup a chance. I gave the Vuvuzelas, the whole lot of a shot. Unfortunately the reality is, I'm left wanting something more. Something a bit better. With the final taking place at approximately 2:30, it's over. These are the realities which I'm taking away.

Reality #1 For us, we needed the stars of the United States to go further. Or at the very least, Brazil, Argentina, or Portugal. For us to stay on top of this and remain tuned in, the stars we began to recognize needed to continue through the tournament. After the United States' Landon Donovan and Tim Howard were ousted from the World Cup, we immediately became less interested. Then the internationally famous Robinho & Kaka of Brazil were upset by eventual World Cup finalists Netherlands. The 2009 FIFA World Player of the Year, Argentina's Lionel Messi was the next to fall, another player we were tuning into see won't be playing at 2:30 eastern time for the World Cup final. As well as Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, who to his credit could be the most famous athlete in the world in a few years, if he isn't already. Every American sport survives on the play of their stars and relies on them to be on the biggest stages. Peyton Manning, the NFL's greatest passer was in the Super Bowl this year. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez led the New York Yankees to their most recent World Series title. Super Laker Kobe Bryant has been in nearly ever NBA Finals since he came into the league, one of the NBA's most recognizable superstars. When the NHL's Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby were nowhere to be found in the Stanley Cup Finals, people weren't watching. For soccer to really take off in The States, the people we recognize on commercials and in the print media needed to be playing this afternoon.

Reality #2 We're just not that into you, and we are into LeBron James. Let us call a spade, a spade. Between the NBA's draft and free agent frenzy, we not only put you on the back burner, we tuned you out. Even The World Wide Leader, who was slamming everything World Cup down your throat, gave up once LeBron was up for grabs. The stars are bigger, the stories have more impact, grab more headlines, we know what we want. Unfortunately for international soccer, it just doesn't compare to possibly the NBA's greatest star of the last 15 years changing his jersey. How does that happen when this is supposed to be soccer's biggest stage?!?! Because we're just not that into you. Who would disagree?!? Sure, we'll pay attention when not much else is going on, we'll pay attention if it's the only thing happening, but once something remotely more exciting comes along, agree that soccer is a back burner sport. While we in the United States may have collectively vilified LeBron James and The League in general, we're all infinitely more tuned into "our" games than yours.

Reality #3 See you in four years. We're not going to begin to watch L.A. Galaxy or New England Revolution games just because of a month or two long tournament that we barely watched. Unfortunately, we don't get to see the best players in the game in the United States, they're busy playing in other professional leagues which offer more money and more notoriety than any other. Is it that crazy that it'll be a very long four years for us to pay attention yet again? That is the reality of this. We may have enjoyed parts of the World Cup, we may have even woken up earlier than usual to catch a few games, but this is where that ends, when the final game is played this afternoon, it'll be some time before we think about it again. I know who won the previous World Cup, but couldn't even tell you who won back when it was held in the U.S., really. Thanks for the ride soccer, but I'll see you in four years.

Get After It!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cry About It!

Ask yourselves, what really upsets you about the decision of LeBron James to play in Miami? You aren't Cavaliers fans. You love to hate the Knicks. Nobody honestly thought James would actually wear a Clippers or Nets jersey. As for Chicago, LeBron wasn't about to play under Michael's number and banners all while in the building that His Airness built. So ask yourselves, is it just the national television show which got you angry? If so, 7.3% of United States households tuned in, willingly. You wanted this to happen, you pulled over to the side of the road to watch the car crash, now your upset about it?!?! Folks, it's real simple: QUIT CRYING, GET OVER IT, & ENJOY THE RIDE.

Ten (10) Reasons You Ought To Be Excited

Ten Did you enjoy watching Pierce, Garnett, and Ray Allen for the past three seasons?!?!? Because this is what your getting, ten fold. Between LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade, your going to get what you just got in Boston, in Miami, for the next six seasons guaranteed. Your going to see three players, who like each other far more than Boston's Big Three, and are going to take the "Me Against The World" attitude, to another level. Trust me.

Nine Tired of the Western Conference dominance? Me too. Nine of the last twelve NBA Champions have come out of the Western Conference. Between the current dominance of the L.A. Lakers and their dominance between 1999-2002, coupled with the 4x NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs, the Western Conference has dominated the NBA Finals for far too long. You can consider that very close to over. Between the Miami Heat, the Chicago Bulls, the Orlando Magic, and what is left in Boston, the power has completely shifted back to our East Coast Bias.

Eight Isn't the NBA just more fun when Pat Riley is on center stage?!?!? The Miami Heat's president of basketball operations is the official closer of all front office executives in the NBA. Months in the making I'm sure, Pat Riley convinced three players that Miami is where they need to be and that Miami is where they can get it done. Whether Riley stays in the owner's box or makes a return to the bench, the NBA is just far more fun if Big Slick is in front of the camera and in front of the league.

Seven Now you and I get to watch Chris Bosh. He may not be a "super"star in every sense, but no one is happier to be in Miami than Chris Bosh. Playing his entire career in Toronto, we've missed out on Chris Bosh. Now playing alongside two of the games best players, that is over. We'll get to see Bosh on opening night, probably on Christmas Day, and every other Sunday afternoon game on ABC. Chris Bosh can rebound and score with the best of them. For those of you who say he won't be ready to play on this stage, he's been ready for seven seasons and this is the first time he's had the opportunity. I'm buying it.

Six After LeBron's return to Cleveland wearing a Heat jersey, we probably won't have to ever hear from Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert again. Gilbert is a classless a-hole if you want my not so humble opinion. He's a jilted lover and nothing more. I heard one person describe Gilbert in the best way, "Dan Gilbert is a guy who was married to a woman way to good looking for him, now he's shocked she finally left for someone better." Deal with it. As for his claims that he'll bring a title to Cleveland before LeBron helps bring one to Miami, hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Wait, hahahahahahahahah. Riiiight.

Five If the NBA could get locked out next summer, what better way to go out than watch the games best on the biggest stage. I don't care if they let a fan play point guard every night, the Heat will contend next season I can bet you that. Damon Jones & Jason Kapono led the NBA in three point percentage when playing in Miami with Shaq and Wade, did nothing after. Why?!? Because with Wade & LeBron, and Chris Bosh, insert NBA caliber shooter, doesn't matter who, and all he has to do is hit wide open three pointers. This team will contend in 2010, don't bet against it.

Four When Bird played alongside Parrish and McHale, you saw three Hall Of Famers put in work. When Magic played alongside Kareem, you witnessed multiple championships and a dynasty. When Jordan played with Pippen, dynasty. When Duncan joined David Robinson, dynasty. Shaq & Kobe, dynasty. Pau & Kobe, dynasty. Would someone else like to explain the bad part of Wade and James?!?! Just one bad thing!??! How could you not be excited when we are sitting on possibly the next great dynasty in NBA history?

Three They've won before. This big trio played together in both the World Championships and the Olympics. With Wade coming off the bench! Isn't this just another Olympics with bigger implications (yes, the Olympics doesn't mean as much)? If these guys are going to have as much fun as they did in the Olympics, oh boy!!!!! LeBron and Wade aren't selfish, no part of their games ever have been. James did everything he could in Cleveland, giving Mo Williams and the rest of that supporting cast every opportunity to win, now he'll be giving the rock to someone who can do that.

Two LeBron James doesn't have to be "the scorer LeBron" we've grown accustomed to seeing. Better yet, he gets to be the passer. The passer LeBron James is more exciting than anything, and now with a finisher like Wade and Bosh, woah! LeBron is probably the best passer in the game today with court vision not seen since the likes of Magic Johnson. No?!?! Ask somebody who knows anything about hoops, LeBron can handle the rock.

One IT'S LEBRON & WADE ON THE SAME TEAM! Are you serious?!? You don't want this??!?! You don't want to see arguably two of the top three players in the NBA on the same roster running rough shot over anything in their way?!?! You don't want to see another dynasty with the top players in the league?!? You don't want to see more excited basketball than we've seen in a decade?!? The ideea of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade got me excited, the fact that it is happening gets me even more excited than I've been for an NBA game that will most likely have no impact on anything, the Heat opener!

Say you hate the NBA, say you can't stand what LeBron did to Cleveland, the fact of the matter is, you should be excited! Get After It!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

South Beach Sizzle'

Just when it looked like a sign & trade from Toronto to Cleveland was immanent, just when Wade to his hometown Chicago Bulls was taking shape, BOOM! Not so fast. Cancel those plans in the Windy City and Cleveland be very nervous, more so than you ever have. As two of the top ten players in the NBA announced their free agency decision to head to Miami and join the Heat, this just got super interesting. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are making their title contention moves and this is . . .

. . .What it all means

The decision is tougher for LeBron James. His friends Dwyane and Chris didn't make it easy for him that's a fact. With Miami's front office working quickly to surround these two in their prime superstars with role players around them, LeBron's got to wonder if his title hopes just got further and further away with yesterdays news. His choice has yet to be announced but is certainly more difficult as of Wednesday morning. Let me simplify this for LeBron: Your friends have set up shop on South Beach and are now a very strong and viable destination for free agents, if they weren't already. The Chicago Bulls, already a playoff team, added Carlos Boozer as a last ditch effort to not get left out in the cold. Still, making themselves more legit from a basketball aspect. The Boston Celtics have re-signed both Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, those same players who knocked you out of the postseason, will try to do it again. The Knicks have even added Amare Stoudemire, as pointed you yesterday on LRN. So you say you want to head back to Cleveland?!?! As the Eastern Conference gets tougher all around him, his decision to stay home is much harder than it was when he went to bed on Tuesday night.

The Heat have become SCARY! Oh we saw what Wade can do when you put a dominating big man in his starting five. Furthermore, we saw what Chris Bosh could do when surrounded by talent during the Olympics in 2008. These two superstars are great in their own right, both have been Olympic champions, both have been studs in college and the NBA, both have been All-Stars, and now both will be on the same team!?!?! You better call somebody. The Miami Heat have teamed their superstar guard whose averaged 26 points and nearly 7 assists per game for his entire career with a big man in Bosh who is coming off a career season. By adding a few role players, the likes of Mike Miller, an outside shooter and possibly retaining Udonis Haslem, a big man who can average a double-double a night on this team, the Heat will seriously have a core of players that won't be stopped. In what seemed like a year long decision, this duo has overnight made the Heat a candidate in the Eastern Conference and done their part in changing the landscape of this franchise for years to come.

Finally, it is about winning for some. Probably the best development over the last 24 hours, wanting to win an NBA title means alot to some players in this league, some. For Chris Bosh, a player who was stuck in Canada for the last seven seasons, it's now about winning. Passing up what we believe is close to $30 million dollars by avoiding a sign and trade that could have sent him to Cleveland not knowing LeBron's plans, Chris Bosh is taking less money in an effort to win a title soon and go where he wants to go (and he gets to live on South Beach). With the ability both Wade and Bosh have, breaking the bank elsewhere was always an option, New Jersey, New York, Chicago, pretty much anywhere these two landed, they could have smashed the bank and made themselves the highest paid guys in the league, a league driven by massive egos. However, for these two players, playing together and trying to build a winning franchise while in their prime was far more important. If you saw how excited both of these men were to announce their plans, you'd know exactly what I'm referring to. Truth be told, Bosh & Wade are getting some things done in Miami, their way.

By late tonight you will know the final destination of LeBron James and the landscape will have taken it's shape, but down on South Beach, it's nothing but sizzile for now.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Oh Amare

He's turning 28 in November. In 2005, Amare Stoudemire suffered one of the worst knee injuries a 6-10 big man can have. After microfracture knee surgery and playing just three games in the '05-'06 season, Stoudemire made his return to the league the following season scoring nearly 21 points per game and pulling down close to 10 rebounds per. Over the next four seasons the former Phoenix Suns power forward averaged 73 games a season while sustaining the same numbers he had prior to his injury. As the first "big" chip to fall in the Summer Of 2010 Free Agent Frenzy, Amare Stoudemire is taking his game and all the question marks that come with it to the Big Apple. For $100 million dollars over five years, the New York Knicks have made the first big step toward immediately improving their chances in the Eastern Conference and a long shot bid for their first NBA Title since 1973. However, what exactly does this big move say about the Knicks and of course the free agent shuffle we've been doing for a week?

1. They aren't going to be the franchise left out. With Atlanta Hawk Joe Johnson returning to the ATL as the first MAX deal player (estimated 6 years for $120 million), both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade leaning outside the Tri-State area, and Chris Bosh as up in the air as ever, the New York Knicks came out and made a statement to and with Amare Stoudemire. Spending the better half of two years clearing salary cap space and attempting to salvage what was left in the wake of Isiah Thomas, the Knicks weren't about to be the only team left holding the bag with nothing to show for what they'd done. Since the Amare news broke you've heard rumours of a 2011 acquisition of possible free-agent to be Carmelo Anthony, a trade bringing in Spurs veteran Tony Parker, and of course acquiring the ghost of Willis Reed to top it off. The more and more rumours swirl that Toronto could complete a sign and trade of Chris Bosh to Cleveland and possible pairings of super guard Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade in Chicago, the Knicks looked into the magic ball and figured the best way to avoid catastrophe was to land Stoudemire and land him now. If the worst case scenario was landing a player who put up 42 points and 11 rebounds against the Lakers bigs in one game this postseason, then Jim Dolan will take it.

2. This doesn't just entice The King. As previously mentioned, what would be a better way to lure Carmelo Anthony back to the East Coast? Of course you don't want to assume Anthony would be so willing to head to New York after next season, or that he'd even avoid extending his current Denver contract this season, but Amare Stoudemire does make New York seem all the more viable than it ever had. With plenty of room left under the salary cap and Donnie Walsh looking to add more pieces, Stoudemire isn't just the LeBron bait, he's the Knicks bait for years to come. The thing fellow free-agent Chris Bosh isn't willing to do is set up shop without knowing who will follow, Amare Stoudemire did that quicker than we'd thought. Rumoured that LeBron's people have already inquired as to what other plans could possibly be in place . . a point guard!?!? So now it lies in the Knicks brass ability to bring in the second piece, something they would be unable to do without adding Stoudemire already. The Spurs growing support of 24-year old point guard George Hill, it seems at though the Knicks hope of landing the point guard they need looks more and more likely. Hmmmm, is New York now a landing spot?!?

3. Amare Stoudemire is going to prove he can do it on his own. Overcoming multiple knee surgeries. Overcoming eye trauma that caused him another long layoff and a scary comeback. Amare Stoudemire has time and time showed his ability to comeback with renewed strength. He's been an All-Star five times, he's helped Phoenix into the playoffs a number of seasons, Stoudemire will miss Steve Nash in Phoenix but they'll miss his power on the glass and offensive game that is second to very few. Being drafted in 2002 right out of high school Amare Stoudemire has had to prove a few things. After his eighth season in the league Amare has turned into the best player in his draft class and in the process made general managers who selected the likes of Drew Gooden and Mike Dunleavy Jr. before him look very silly. Now, embarking on his newest venture and in the biggest media market in the country, Amare will have to perform on a new level. In front of thousands of pressing cameras and media members, Amare will be under the biggest microscope and will need to rise to the occasion yet again in his career. The question now is, how will he respond?!?!

Ignoring all voices coming from Phoenix, the Knicks got their man and now it's time to react. Whose next?!?!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Landscape Changing

If this decision comes as fast as it ought to, the landscape of the National Basketball Association is permanently changed for the next 10 seasons. Bank on it.

The possible movement of one LeBron James, a 25-year old phenom who has a career average of 27 points, 7 boards, and 7 assists per game, will undoubtedly shatter the NBA which you've become so accustomed to. Getting excited yet?!?!? Story number one throughout every sports medium. The only thing your hearing on the radio. The only story The World Wide Leader would lead you to believe is going on. We don't really care that Phil Jackson or Doc Rivers are returning. We don't care about Paul Pierce adding his name to the list of superstars looking to opt-out, the list of All-Stars and future Hall of Famers. None of that matters at this point. When the games most dominant individual, an individual which brings 40+ victories to any starting five he joinns, is on the market all bets are more than off. From L.A. to Dallas, from Chicago to Miami, back to the Tri-State area, life hinges on LeBron James.

Sorry Cleveland, Not In The Cards. But Why!?!? It's this simple. It became openely obvious this season that the Cavaliers, with LeBron, aren't winning a title as currently constructed. LeBron must be tearing up the sofa cushions watching Kobe wrap on ring number five. He must be furious that L.A., for a bag of dounuts, can acquire Pau Gasol and win a title. He must be furious that the Celtics went from chumps to champs overnight. All the while Cleveland had years to surround him with some legitimate second banana that would help him win a championship. It didn't happen. Now, with every All-Star from Dirk and Bosh to Rudy Gay and Amare on the open market, there goes yet another team who is going to add one of those work horses to their stable and become an instant contender. Who can go join LeBron back in Cleveland? Not many want to sign their deals in Cleveland. How is that going to help LeBron reach his goal? Can it? I doubt that. Despite an owner with deep pockets and the willingness to clean house, hats off to Dan Gilbert, but Cleveland isn't big enough for The King.

Dwyane Wade holds a ton of cards. For starters, he's already a champion, got a ring to prove it. That actually goes a long way in the eyes of free agents and fans. Furthermore, he's got an ace in the hole or should I say an ace in the front office. With a champion head coach in Pat Riley running the show from the front office, it'll take a special free agent or three to bring Riley back to the bench, a place where he's been very successful. Every hopeful landing spot has no one on the bench with the resume of Pat Riley. Fed up with your coach? Angry things aren't under his control? Insert Riley. Between both Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade, there is plenty of rings to be flashed around. If one or two of these free agents find their way to Miami, it could mean a ton of problems for the rest of the NBA and yet another shot at history for Wade & Riley. Adding a player like Amare or Bosh in Miami would make the Heat yet again formidable, giving tough competition to LeBron if he were to stay in the Eastern Conference. Why have we heard so much about Miami in recent weeks? Because Dwyane was the only one of these guys to try and recruit rather than be courted, it's going to go along way in decision making I predict.

As this begins, teams will scramble. Why are the Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies throwing gigantic money at Joe Johnson and Rudy Gay so early? Because someone will have to take either New Jerseys, New Yorks, or the Clippers spot in the lottery which they've become so accustomed to selecting in. Whichever one of these small market clubs plays shy will end up heading back to the lottery as they quickly get worse losing some of their star players to free agency. But it's about to get even crazier as these teams begin to worry they won't land a replacement or the star they had planned for. The Grizzlies are throwing $82 million dollars over five years at Rudy Gay?!? The Hawks are prepared to make Joe Johnson, a player who blasted the fans during the playoffs, a $20 million per season man for six years. Then come the crazy deals already. Raptors forward Amir Johnson has reportedly accepted an offer of 5 years for $34 million from Toronto. $34 Million for a player who gets just five boards a game?!?!? Oh it's getting interesting. Drew Gooden, yes that Drew Gooden just was awarded a $32 million dollar deal from Milwaukee. The Timberwolves are throwing simliar money at Darko Milicic???? Do we have any idea how crazy this summer is going to get with all these players trying to get new deals under the current CBA?? Your about to find out.

What's Best For All Parties?!? When determining where a free agent should go, you've got to consider the NBA landscape and Sir David Stern (just knighted him).

Amare Stoudemire & Dwyane Wade in Miami. Riley comes down and coaches the big man with Wade. We've seen what Wade can do with a very good player inside which will allow him to create. For the next five seasons a Wade & Stoudemire duo could do very simliar to what Kobe & Pau just did. Stoudemire needs a coach like Riley to get everything out of him, I believe that.

LeBron James in Chicago. If LeBron James goes to Chicago, he's got a second banana in Derrick Rose immediately. With Joakim Noah and Luol Deng to do the dirty work allowing he and Rose to push the ball, this team is super dangerous. I don't doubt that LeBron James hated playing against that Celtic defense, his new head coach in Chicago would be the mastermind of that same defense.

Chris Bosh where the money is. If LeBron declares where he is headed and Wade follows, it's now Bosh's decision to go where he'd fit best. He's a fun kid who brings a ton to the table. There are some other views here though. Bosh is a 24 and 10 guy, he can write his own ticket. Houston is very interested in Bosh, a Texas native. The Nets & Knicks would both be willing to build around Bosh for simliar dollars. However, at the end of the day Chris Bosh has to see exactly what Pau and KG saw, your going to get paid anywhere, where can you win right away and play on the center stage. It's Bulls or Heat.

Dallas, Boston, and Atlanta. Keep your players. For the Mavericks it's obvious they don't want Dirk going anywhere, he's their franchise. For the Celtics, Paul Pierce is retiring a Celtic. For the Hawks, do you want to be the Clippers or Nets?

As the Eastern Conference is prepared to add yet another powerhouse to go alongside Orlando and possibly Boston, the tides are quickly changing in the NBA as the landscape develops. Oh this is about to get interesting.