Posts Tagged ‘Mike Wise’

‘Stale Contracts’ Offer Lockout Insight

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Some efforts to dig down to the root of the NBA’s labor problem have produced results that vary from foolish to the downright preposterous.

But few items hit home harder than the “stale contract” issue raised in this reflective piece by Washington Post columnist Mike Wise, a longtime NBA scribe who knows his way around the league better than most.

Wise hammered home his point with this passage:

If Kevin Garnett’s contract was the flash point of the 1999 lockout — his $126 million dwarfed the $85 million paid years earlier for the entire Minnesota franchise, thus making it hard for a small-market team like the Timberwolves to put enough help around a star to contend — the salary of a player believed to be a dud is at the heart of this dispute.

Owners are sick of paying premiums for damaged goods. Players are putting the onus on the people who signed them to those deals, irrespective of who turned out to be a lousy employee.

Nowhere was the impetus for a long labor stoppage more obvious than here in Washington, where what was once thought to be a blockbuster deal — Gilbert Arenas for Rashard Lewis this past December — was in reality one franchise’s lemon traded for another.

Only in the NBA can a town be excited by moving a player with three years and $60 million left (Arenas) for another with more than two years remaining on a $118 million deal. Why were the Wizards ecstatic? Because as bad as Lewis’s $19 million-plus deal per year was for a player with declining numbers the past three seasons, at least they only had to have his contract around for two years instead of three. That’s sadly called success before the trading deadline.

Beyond finding a more equitable split of income, stale contracts are why the union and the league may not come to terms this fall and perhaps beyond.

While some observers like to label this NBA lockout as simply a chicken contest between millionaires and billionaires, it’s so much more than that. There are legitimate issues that must be resolved before we get our game back.

Regardless of whose side you take in this fight, it should be clear by now to anyone paying close attention that fundamental changes to the way the league operates will have to come before the two sides agree to get back to the business of basketball.

Opportunity Knocks For LeBron

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — So what’s after “now” and “never?”

Game 6.

In its own way, much more the crucible than a seventh game could ever be.

Once The Finals get to Game 7, the intense, smothering pressure is back on both teams, the glaring spotlight as potentially blinding for anyone who stares into the moment rather than just plays.

Now LeBron James finds himself dangling over the edge of the cliff for the first time in these “it’s-all-about-us” playoffs.

Never will King James and the Heat live down this monumental flop no matter how many future championships — “not five, not six, not seven…” — are out there over the horizon.

Pull it off and he rides into glory. Come up short and anything that comes later will look like a limousine with a license plate reading: 2LTL2L8.

This is the platform that James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh put themselves on ever since that night last summer when they danced and celebrated amid the smoke and noise on the stage.

But nobody set themselves up more than James, who put himself on the dissecting table with the nationally-televised “Decision” and brought the basketball world to this point with what was previously believed impossible– delivering an unsatisfying triple-double of 17 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds.

That’s because when the game was on the line Thursday night, James evaporated in the final six minutes, missing two of his three shots, had no rebounds, no assists and a turnover.


Is the Heat bond shaken or stirred?

The Aston Martin pulls up in front of the American Airlines Center in Dallas and out steps the dashing, dangerous man with the Walther PPK strapped inside his white dinner jacket. He tosses the keys to the valet, adjusts his bowtie and walks through the large door straight into another perilous trap.

“James. LeBron James,” he says, introducing himself to the German agent Nowitzki. Then he flags down the waiter carrying a silver tray and orders a martini.

Shaken or stirred? Hmmm, that is the question.

Does what happened in the final 7:14 of Game 2 leave the Heat shaken to their core? Or does is stir James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on to even greater heights?

Israel Gutierrez of the Miami Herald says the new Heat became the old Heat in the blink of an eye.

The final 7 minutes 14 seconds of Thursday’s stunning Mavericks win were an awful, horrendously timed reminder of just how ineffective the Heat offense can be when things go stagnant, when LeBron’s miracle threes aren’t falling through the net, when the other team has someone just as capable of hitting demoralizing buckets.
And as much as James was credited for those amazing close-out performances against the Celtics and Bulls, he has plenty of blame to take in this one. One awful finishing performance doesn’t entirely erase everything James has done up to this point in previous fourth quarters.

But in this game, on the biggest of stages, it certainly creates a few cases of temporary amnesia.

In seven meltdown minutes, the Heat turned the clock back on all of their good works over the past seven months and reset the calendar to last November, when they posted a mediocre 9-8 record and had to figure everything out.