Miami Heat big 3 interview with Oprah (video)

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Below are clips from part two of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with the Miami HEAT superstars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on “Oprah’s Next Chapter” this Sunday, July 8 (8-9 p.m. ET/PT) on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

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Giant statues of Miami Heat big three created at go kart race track (photos)

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With the Miami HEAT headed to the 2012 NBA Finals versus the Oklahoma City Thunder, a local South Florida company thought it was only right to commemorate the occasion with 16, 18 and 20 foot statues of the big three.

Prime Time Amusements, a global operator, seller and event renter of video arcade machines and simulators, made Miami’s biggest sports figures – LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh – commonly referred to as the “Big Three” truly BIGGER than life. The massive statues are made from Styrofoam and were hand-carved by a professional sculptor before being hard-coated and finally painted.

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Best player in NBA position by position: Dwight, Love, Lebron, Kobe, Deron

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One of the greatest things about basketball is how simple the positions are: 1-5. Instead of saying “power forward” or “point guard” you can just say “the four” or “at the one.” And this is what’s lacking in both the All-NBA team and the USA Olympic Dream Team. The All-NBA selections are the top five players in the league, regardless of position. The ’09-’10 team lacked a four or a one; last year’s team also lacked a four.

However, this team I’ve assembled is just the best at each position, not the top five players and not the top five who might play best together. I gave no regard to team chemistry issues.

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Heat’s Dwyane Wade: Most Important Player in “REAL” NBA Finals

Dwyane Wade Heat

Not to offend fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks, but the Eastern Conference Finals is the REAL NBA Finals this year. The winner of the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat series will likely win the title. Exactly like in 2007, when you knew the winner of the Western Conference Semifinals between the San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns would go on to win the whole thing (And they did).

The Bulls and Heat are two teams that cleared the deck and threw open the doors last summer for biggest free agency period in league history. They are the two teams in the Eastern Conference that improved themselves the most. At Bulls media day, I grew tired and weary of journalists asking the players and coaches about Miami and specifically “can this team really compete with Miami?” So it’s only fitting that these two squads meet in the end.

The journey from the de fact Heat media day last September in Deerfield, IL to now is complete. And the most important player in this series is one of the hometown stars, Dwyane Wade.

By Paul M. Banks

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Wade and Bosh: Way to a Free Agent’s Heart (Video)

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Everyone wants to know where NBA free agents Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will sign this offseason — and while money, ownership, teammates, location and LeBron will all play a factor, don’t forget about the secret ingredient … food.

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Is Tyreke Evans the next Big Thing?

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By Paul M. Banks and David Kay

I wouldn’t call it “love at first sight”, but when I was in Milwaukee for the 2008 McDonald’s All-American High School Basketball game, I was enamored by what I saw.  At the time, Tyreke Evans was undecided as to where he would play his college basketball, but I knew that his impact at whatever University was fortunate enough to land him would be felt immediately.

That certainly was the case as Evans eventually became the catalyst for John Calipari’s dribble-drive motion offense at Memphis.  A few weeks into the season, Coach Cal made the decision to put the ball in Evans’ hands and let him run the team as their point guard instead of playing him at the two; a move that catapulted the Tigers back into the national title picture after they had fallen out of the Top 25. “I felt comfortable getting my teammates the ball making other people better. I think I’m a better player with the ball in my hands, but I’ve also been playing the two all my life. So either one, it won’t really matter to me,” Evans said at the NBA Draft Combine.

It was no surprise that Evans was a “one and done” at Memphis.  If the NBA didn’t have their current rule, Evans likely would have made the jump from high school straight into the NBA.  And you wouldn’t have blamed him for doing so.  His physique is NBA-ready as demonstrated by his measurements at the NBA combine; 6’5” in shoes, 220 pounds with a 6’11” wingspan, the longest of any guard prospect in the draft.  Evans’ ability to attack the basket seems almost effortless, to the point where I have no problem comparing his game to that of a young Dwyane Wade.  (That’s quite the comparison coming from a Marquette grad.)  Similar to Wade, Evans has a fearless mentality when taking the ball to the basket and tremendous instincts when it comes to scoring.

“I studied Penny Hardaway and Tracy McGrady. They were two of my favorite players growing up. But I watch LeBron, D. Wade now everybody and try to take a little piece of their moves,” Evans said before later adding that T Mac is the probably the most accurate player to compare him to.

Evans also has the same knocks against him that Wade did when coming out of college; most notably the inconsistency with his jumper and questionable shot selection.  Like most young college players, both of those areas should improve over time as Evans matures.  The former Tiger is also sometimes careless with the basketball, often trying to do much by himself which resulted in a less than desirable 1.1/1 assist-to-turnover ratio.tyreke-evans

Evans is still learning the importance of being a nuisance on the defensive end.  He has a great read on the ball and uses his length to get in passing lanes and create fastbreak opportunities off steals.  His strength and size also allows him to be physical against equally strong opponents.  If the work is put in at the next level, Evans could develop into a Wade-type defender, able to be a factor on the perimeter or in the paint.

Since the lottery was determined, I have thought Evans would be a perfect fit in Minnesota.  The T-Wolves already have a combo guard in Randy Foye, but Evans could step onto that team and take over some of the ball-handling duties, opening up Foye for more perimeter shots.  Evans could potentially go as high as #4 to Sacramento and won’t slip past Toronto who owns the ninth pick.

While the comparisons to Dwyane Wade are admittedly quite hefty, I have no doubt that ten years from now when we look back at the NBA Draft class of 2009, Evans will be one of the top 3 players to come out of this class.

Alley-OOP & the SCOOP on what’s going on Around the NBA Hoop:

 2009 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Special Edition

By: Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson

 The 2009 NBA season has been exciting, and it’s been a joy to see NBA players and teams emerge. The Western Conference, as far as seeding, was a dog fight until the last regular season game. And the Eastern Conference has been dominated by the Cavaliers. The emergence of this young Portland Trailblazers team has been encouraging, the improvement of the Denver Nuggets has taken your breath away, and the Lakers dominance has been unsurprising.

The first round of the NBA Playoffs is upon us and many are wondering- are any surprises going to take place? Well maybe a couple.

Without further ado, here’s the Scoop:

Eastern Conference

1 Cleveland Cavaliers (66-16) vs. 8 Detroit Pistons (39-43):

 On paper you’re intimidated by these two team names right? You’re thinking of the LeBron James heroics in the 2007 Eastern Conference finals when he scored 48 points and 29 of Cleveland’s last 30 in a double OT victory over the Pistons. Remember that game when Rasheed Wallace threw a temper tantrum? Yeah, that’s the same Rasheed Wallace but a different Pistons team who Frank Lucas’ed (“American Gangster” for the movie-challenged) their way into the playoffs. The team has dealt with a lot of internal confusion season with trades, and lineup malfunctions. But this team played so-so toward the end of the season.  The roster make up is a little different too. Chauncey Billups is no longer a Piston. Rodney Stuckey has stepped into Billups’ role and done quite well averaging 13.4 points per game and 4.9 assists per game.
 Oh yeah, but what about the Cavs? The 66-16 Cavs, own the NBA’s best record in the league and are expected to be crowned NBA Champions at the end of the year. LeBron James, the favorite to win the NBA Most Valuable Player Award has been unstoppable this year and is averaging 28.4 points per game, 7.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists. But it’s not been just James doing all of the work, unlike in years past. He’s got a demolition crew to work with. Fellow NBA all star teammate Mo Williams has been putting in work averaging 17.8 points per game, along with center Zydrunas Ilgauskas who is averaging 12.9 points per game. Delonte West and Anderson Varejao are also plentifully contributing to the Cavs success.

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Although the Pistons are aging, don’t expect this series to be an easy one for the Cavs. The Pistons have always delivered when looked down upon. Don’t you remember the 2004 NBA Finals when they beat a Lakers team with Kobe, Karl Malone, Shaq and Gary Payton? However I still see this series as Cleveland’s.

Prediction: Cavs win in 6

2 Boston Celtics (62-20) vs. 7 Chicago Bulls (41-41):


 Is Kevin Garnett playing? That’s what everyone in Beantown wants to know. But the misconception is that Garnett’s status in the series predicates the Celtics success. Let’s not forget that there are 2 All Stars in the starting lineup in Ray Allen and 2008 NBA Finals NBA Finals MVP Paul Pierce who are more than capable of taking over games themselves. And Boston is 18-7 this year without KG. What is most impressing is the developing maturity of former LSU standout Glen Davis in Kevin Garnett’s absence. Davis has stepped up where it has mattered most (in the interior) since Kevin Garnett’s injury on February 19 against the Utah Jazz.

Cal-Berkley product Leon Powe will also be a key contributor in this series. Let’s not forget that the Celtics also signed Mikki Moore and Brooklyn, NY legend Stephon Marbury for a reason. This team will be okay in the first round.


 The Chicago Bulls, however are no sleepers. The Bulls, considered underachievers last year nabbed Derrick Rose, a Chicago native in the 2008 NBA Draft from Memphis. Rose has had a phenomenal NBA season averaging, 16.8 points per game and 6.3 assist per game, and garnering serious consideration as this year’s NBA Rookie of the Year. The Bulls season gained some serious upside when they organization made two trades at the trading deadline  and acquired John Salmons, Brad Miller and Tim Thomas.
 Yet exciting to watch, this team will not have enough power to defeat a well oiled machine in the Celtics.

3 Orlando Magic (59-23) vs. 6 Philadelphia 76ers (41-41):


 This is the iffy game. Philadelphia’s talent is not reflected in this 41-41 record. The team should be holding rosary beads and saying 100 Hail Mary’s somewhere in a church on the Mainline of Philadelphia thankful that they are in the playoffs. This team struggled at the end of the season as they were trying to find their way with new players. Subsequently, Mo Cheeks was fired and Tony DiLeo took the helm as interim coach of the Sixers. Point guard Andre Miller did a heck of a job with this team. The former University of Utah star averaged 16.3 points per game with an impressive 6.3 assist per game. Lou Williams also strung together some stellar games this season for them.

The 59-23 Magic had a stellar season. They’re led by All-Star Center Dwight Howard who leads the NBA in double doubles, averaging a whopping 20.6 and 13.8 rebounds per game. They also have Hedo Turkoglu who has had a great season and all-star Rashard Lewis who’s benefited greatly in Stan Van Gundy’s offense. Let’s not forget point guard Rafer Alston who was acquired before the NBA trading deadline and saved the Magic from having a not-so great season after St. Joe’s product Jameer Nelson was sidelined with a dislocated right shoulder.

Philadelphia is still the favorite, because Orlando has some deficiencies. The primary concern is the severity of Hedo Turkoglu’s injury that he sustained against the New Jersey Nets a week ago. Secondly, how well with Rashard Lewis play after coming back from his bone bruise injury.

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These two teams do match up very well. They both play run and gun and up tempo offense. The point guard matchup between Rafer Alston and Andre Miller will be very exciting to watch. Let’s not forget the swingman battle between Andre Iguodala and rookie Courtney Lee. The difference maker in this game will be how well Dwight Howard plays and collectively how Sixers centers Samuel Dalembert and Theo Ratliff handle Howard.
 In the end I still believe that the Sixers have the upper hand because they are simply a tougher and rugged team.

Prediction: Sixers in 7


4 Atlanta Hawks (47-35) vs. 5 Miami Heat (43-39):


 This game is also Must see NBA TV. Nobody believed in the Atlanta Hawks last year, and they took it to the Boston Celtics in the first round. Mike Bibby, Joe Johnson, Al Horford and company have gotten better and shown people that they can play team ball under head coach Mike Woodson.

Dwyane Wade is playing basketball like it is going out of style. The 2006 NBA Finals MVP has been putting on a clinic nightly. His stat line: 30.2 points per game, 5 rebounds per game and 7.5, makes you wonder (like Stevie) is it the shoes?

First year Heat Coach, Erik Spoelstra, has done a phenomenal job in guiding this young team to success. He’s young, inexperienced, but hungry for success. I still look for the Hawks to have the better hand.

Prediction:  Hawks in 7

The Economics of Basketball

By Brandon Robinson
With the current recession, it is going to be difficult for a lot of Americans—even for those working with NBA basketball. At least as far as making money they were accustomed to making a few years ago.

Additionally, the biggest effect will be on team revenue. “If you think about it, it’s one big cycle. The recession affects the fans, who will spend less money on tickets and merchandise. So the league will force the players to accept less as the pie shrinks,” says ESPN.com Senior Writer, JA Adande.

 Revenue from ticket sales and sponsorship will be down next season. Player payroll is based on a percentage of team revenue. This means the salary cap will go down, which means players that are not already under contract will have a difficult time getting the kind of deals they’ve gotten in the past.

Team owners are finding ways to cut costs in a shrinking economy.

“It already had an effect this season. Teams are anticipating lower revenue and were reluctant to take on expensive contracts at the trade deadline,” says Chris Carrino, Executive Director of Broadcasting for the New Jersey Nets.

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Currently, the hoopla surrounding the summer of 2010 has been hyped as the year in which marketable a-list of superstars will become unrestricted free agents. This means that NBA squads can sign them to max long term deals without that price being matched by their current team or other teams. During that summer, it is believed that Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, will bolt and sign with either the New York Knicks or across the Hudson with the New Jersey Nets. That summer has been dubbed by some as the “Summer of LeBron.” It will be very interesting to see what teams decide to do as the economy crumbles. Will people spend money?

Among that elite list of free agents: Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade, Toronto Raptors’ Chris Bosh, Phoenix Suns’ Amare Stoudemire, Boston Celtics’ Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, New Orleans Hornets’ Tyson Chandler, San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginobili, Milwaukee Bucks’ Richard Jefferson, Atlanta Hawks’ Joe Johnson, Houston Rockets’ Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, Phoenix Suns’ Steve Nash, Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki and the Milwaukee Bucks’ Michael Redd.

“This will come into play in the next collective bargaining agreement, which will certainly feature shorter contract lengths and average and maximum salaries. It will become more difficult for teams to afford multiple stars, or to fit them into a smaller salary cap. So if the teams are worse, the fans won’t want to come to the arena to watch them, and it starts all over again,” added JA Adande.

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A lot has happened since the current NBA collective bargain agreement, was signed during the lockout shortened 1998-99 NBA season. Players have made a lot of money. The current collective bargaining agreement ends the summer of 2011 and owners want to make strict changes. According to the Indianapolis Star-News, the Indiana Pacers have lost money nine of the past 10 years. The Sacramento Bee reported that the Sacramento Kings are expected to lose up to $25 million this season. The Sports Business Journal reported that the Orlando Magic are expecting potential losses of between $15 million and $20 million. Charlotte Bobcats owner Robert Johnson has claimed losses of $50 million since he paid $300 million for the expansion franchise in 2003.

Clearly the owners and NBA commissioner David Stern want to lower the salary cap and with good reason. The NBA salary cap went down only once in 2002. It went from $42.5 million to $42.7 because they overestimated it. That was with no economic trouble.

“I think the game will be fine, but just like every industry it’s going to take some hits” says ESPN the Magazine’s senior writer, Chris Broussard.

“The superstars are still going to get paid: Kobe, LeBron, Wade, and Dwight Howard are still going to get their money,” added Broussard. So who will take the biggest hit? “It’s always going to hurt the midlevel players, the midlevel salary will definitely drop” says Broussard.

What do players think about this? “Of course the current economic climate will affect the lengths of contracts and the amount of money people will make. Teams are tightening their spending since they are not making money the way they were before,” says Utah Jazz guard Brevin Knight.

One thing is clear, despite the economic woes fans will still need an outlet to get their minds off this economic crisis. They need something to cheer for.

”The game still is very popular. You have great young stars and rivalries in the Celtics and the Lakers. LeBron and Kobe have somewhat of a rivalry in regards to who is the best player,” added Broussard.
Something tells me, everything will be fine.