Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Roger Mason Jr. and The Fragility of the Borderline NBA Player

Roger Mason Jr. has been a revelation for the San Antonio Spurs, helping them stay afloat as they've tried to weather the injuries to Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. He's posted a PER of 16.58 to date, topping last year's 13.80, which was the first season in which he'd had a PER above 7.71 or a FG% above .355 in the NBA.

Pretty much every time I see him in a highlight package, I think of this (click for larger image):

That's a photo from three years ago, when I was in Rome during Thanksgiving week, and caught a ULEB Cup game (it's similar to Euroleague, but with the next-best teams across Europe, much like the UEFA Cup in soccer) between Lottomatica Roma and Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem.

That is Roger Mason at the bottom of the photo, with a headband, standing behind the three-point line. He played for Jerusalem and had a nice game that evening, with 22 points on 6 threes in 37 minutes.

The point guard in the photo is Horace Jenkins, and he caught my eye at the game, not just because he's a D3 legend, but also because just five months prior to this photo, he had been sitting behind the Pistons bench during the NBA Finals, on the roster but inactive.

I was just struck by what a thin line it is for guys like this, who are on the border of NBA rosters, between the glamour of the NBA stage (the biggest stage, in Jenkins' case) and the complete lack of fanfare of playing before 2000 people in Europe.

I know this is nothing earth-shattering - the stories of guys like Stephen Jackson and Mario Elie who've hooped around the globe before settling in the league are well-documented, and Paul Shirley's made a living off of the storyline.

It was just somehow more stark to experience it in person, in a high-school-sized gym whose "amenities" consisted of one high-school style concession area in the surrounding hallway (there were no "concourses").

Don't get me wrong, it's still a pretty nice life, getting paid six figures to play a game and travel the world. It's just such a narrow line between the fame and dream of the NBA lifestyle, and obscurity.

In any event, I'm sure that Roger Mason, after signing a 2-year, $8M deal with San Antonio this summer, is especially thankful to be securely in the NBA this Thanksgiving. Best of luck to the many players toiling around Europe trying to keep their NBA dreams alive.

And Happy Thanksgiving to all of The Painted Area's readers out there. Don't forget that the Hornets-Nuggets game at 10:30 ET on TNT is a hell of a lot more appealing than any of Turkey Day's NFL games.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Shaq: The Big Twitterer

I hadn't signed up for Twitter up until a couple days ago, as I'd found that updating my Facebook status served a similar purpose sufficiently for my needs.

So, what pulled me in? Well, I couldn't resist after reading Howard Beck's story in the New York Times about how Shaquille O'Neal has quickly become a prolific Twitterer in the last week, after discovering that there was an impostor registered as "ShaquilleONeal" sending out "tweets" employing language sufficiently "Shaqalicious" to serve as a reasonably passable impersonation of the Big Aristotle.

Now THE_REAL_SHAQ, as he is calling himself ("BIO: VERY QUOTATIOUS"), is tweeting like a madman, about 20 times a day in the last week.

Shaq's tweets can be followed at Here's a sampling:
    On my way to oklahoma city, gettin ready to send 2 million lbs of peanut butta to africa about 11 hours ago from txt

    Watchn true blood, thats were i was born and raised, dat vampire town, shaqula has been discovered aaaaggggh 7:41 PM Nov 23rd from txt

    @davidadewami kobe is a beast dude, the best player n da game, i admit , i miss playin wit him 6:27 PM Nov 23rd from txt

    Last nite i told greg oden , "we r not the same, i am a martian" 12:09 PM Nov 23rd from txt

    Ok i couldnt take it, i had to get a double cheeseburger from whataburger, pls 4give me lol 12:09 PM Nov 23rd from txt

    I get my neck cracked b4 everygame, today i felt a xtra clikadee clak 8:58 PM Nov 22nd from txt

    Did mrs clinton really take da job 10:44 PM Nov 21st from txt

    I'm watchn my 8 yr old son play, i'm jealous hes a better free throw shoota 6:21 PM Nov 21st from txt

    I JUST MET KIMBO SLICE, DATS A MEAN DUDE 2:46 PM Nov 21st from web

    Multimedia message on TwitPic - Multimedia message 2:15 PM Nov 21st from TwitPic

    Why does shane battier always were that golf masters jacket on the bench, lol 6:33 PM Nov 19th from txt

    At the barber shop, gotta b sexy for the game tomorro. Us supermodels always have to stay fine, lol 1:12 PM Nov 19th from txt

    So u wear a cape and win a dunk contest and they call u superman So what do u call a guy wit 4 rings , i know THE REAL SUPERMAN Aka SHAQ 8:01 PM Nov 18th from txt
    [I enjoy this one b/c I was watching NBA TV when Shaq texted this to GP after the Glove called Dwight Howard 'Superman' - C-Webb read it on the air.]

    Rest in peace Mr PETE NEWELL You will be missed, especially from all the big man that attended your camp. Love you sir 2:27 AM Nov 18th from txt
The Fake Shaq is still going as well - you can find him at if you want to check out his impersonation skills.


I guess it's an especially Shaqalicious day at The Painted Area today. TrueHoop had a post today referencing Paul Coro's note that Shaq is now stretching for the first time in his career, as he's taking yoga classes.

I don't know why, but it reminded me of one of my favorite Shaq stories, when Mike Wise, then of the NY Times, followed Shaq as he motorcycled around L.A. back in 2000, recording the reactions of people who encountered him, as well as a trip to his acupuncturist for a blood-letting treatment:
    O'Neal, who has an inflammation in his right hip, ducks under a 6-10 doorway and into a cramped room. He removes his shirt, his massive frame spilling over the treatment table. He plants his face firmly in the headrest as Hsu goes to work, rubbing small plastic suction cups along O'Neal's oiled back.

    Cupping and scraping are part of the Chinese folk medicine tradition. Among other results, the process is said to purify the blood and increase blood-cell production. The surface of the skin is strongly sucked by the vacuum pressure in the cup, opening capillary vessels and pores. It allows toxins to be excreted. It also hurts.

    "Like a tattoo," O'Neal said. "Not that bad."

    He added: "Certain days last season, I couldn't move my leg. Shen would fix me up."

    O'Neal's lower body was in such pain from an abdominal strain, he said: "Without Shen, I couldn't have played last year. I'm serious."

    The most painful process is yet to come. Hsu gently lances a small, circular area on the right side of O'Neal's lower back, near the top of his buttock. Placing the cup over the area, he holds it there for several seconds until O'Neal's bright, red blood rises to the surface. The process is continued for several minutes.

    Whether it's ingesting ginseng or eating healthful foods, O'Neal is taking care of his body like never before. He lives with only a personal chef, who prepares chicken, fish and vegetables. "I'll eat steak now and then, but I'm not a big red meat eater," he said. "My partying days are over. I've gotten serious about taking care of my body. See, I don't get tired. I get beat up. You keep chopping on a tree, you need to give the tree some rest so the chlorophyll will fill back up and the tree gets its energy back."
One last Shaq for the day for no particular reason. A hat tip to Yahoo! for the inspired photo selection to accompany the choice of Thursday's Lakers-Suns matchup as the "Game To Pay Attention To", which features A.C. Green inexplicably waving an Abstinence Committed Bear at Shaq, who appears to be having none of it, even though it's a great gift for the holiday season!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Zenmaster Obama?

CNN's John King appears to be unwinding with a little sports after the marathon 2008 election season. In addition to demonstrating the Magic Wall to Ahmad Rashad on NBA TV on Tuesday, King was also recently interviewed by the Sports Business Daily. I thought this was the most interesting Q/A from the interview:
    Q: What pro or college coach/manager reminds you of Obama and McCain?

    King: Obama's like PHIL JACKSON. You know, live the moment. Block out everything else and be in the present. That is Barack Obama. And I think that McCain in some ways is like BOBBY KNIGHT. He wants to win. He has this appetite to win, and sometimes that appetite to win comes across as crusty and grumpy because he's so competitive.
You know, it's nothing earth-shattering and I had never thought of it before, but I think that the Obama-Phil comparison actually makes a little bit of sense. Beyond both being lefthanders (in politics as well as hoops!), both men seem to have a preternatural serenity which is uncommon in their respective fields. Jackson, by the way, contributed the maximum $2300 to the Obama campaign, and rather early, on June 30, 2007.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Basketball Books '08-09

Let's take a look at some notable basketball books scheduled to be released in the '08-09 season and a little beyond, including a few which are already out. We'll note right from the top that our release information may not be comprehensive or foolproof. We're making our best estimates based on what we could unearth on Amazon, along with some intel we've gathered from published stories here or there.

More on basketball books:
New Golden Age: 26 Intriguing Basketball Books from 2004-07
David Halberstam's NBA Books
A Basketball Book-Buying Spree

The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac: Styles, Stats, and Stars in Today's Game, presented by FreeDarko (11/11/08)
We can't wait to get a look at what is sure to be a basketball book unlike any other, coming out on Tuesday. We tend to think our reaction will be somewhat similar to the thoughts that Henry posted on TrueHoop. If the book's web site is any indication, it should be absolutely gorgeous at the very least. Excerpts

The Best Basketball Book Ever Written, Bill Simmons (9/29/09)
Simmons indicated on a recent podcast that his book had been pushed back, and indeed, the Amazon page is now indicating a Sept. release date. No idea if the title is a placeholder or a display of characteristic Sports Guy humility. Also no idea exactly what the book is about - let's hope it's something closer to his recent Elgin Baylor tribute than to his evaluation of draft prospects. As maddening as the guy can be at times, he is still an NBA must-read, so it'll be interesting to see what his angle is.

When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball, Seth Davis (2/17/09)
Sure, Seth Davis of SI/CBS comes across as a little smug on the air, and we bet he's the type of college hoops worshiper who disdains the League, but still, we respect the work, and this is a can't-miss subject in such able hands: a look back at the 1979 NCAA Championship game between Magic Johnson's Michigan State Spartans and Larry Bird's Indiana State Sycamores - a game which truly did transform basketball.

Untitled Magic/Bird Book, Jackie MacMullan (Fall 2009)
Man, we are confused by this one. There are indications all over the place, including Amazonand Jackie's Wikipedia page, that she wrote a book called Magic and Bird: Basketball's Awed Couple, which was published in 2003. I have never seen nor heard of this book, which would seem odd given the high profile of both the author and the subject matter.

Now, around the time of the Finals, there were stories in the USA Today and the Boston Globe which indicated that there was a Magic/Bird book by Jackie Mac forthcoming in '09, which sounds strikingly similar to the alleged '03 release.... Here's what the USA Today said:
    Last week, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, Hall of Famers and rivals from the 1980s, signed on to do a book together. It will examine their rivalry and friendship, and be written with Boston Globe columnist Jackie MacMullan. The book, slated to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, will land in bookstores in the fall of 2009.
We're so confused, but certainly looking forward to the '09 release, in any event.

Jimmy V: The Life and Death of Jim Valvano, Adrian Wojnarowski (2009)
Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski is one of the indisputable must-reads of NBA writers. Woj's columns invariably break new ground and offer fresh and thorough takes on their subject matter. He wrote the highly-regarded The Miracle of St. Anthony(2005) about Coach Bob Hurley, which is currently being made into a movie.

Now he's writing a bio on one of college basketball's most interesting personalities of the '80s and '90s, Jimmy V. As Gary Smith proved in classic 1993 Sports Illustrated feature, As Time Runs Out, Valvano makes a compelling subject. In Woj's hands, this should be one of the sports books of the year.

The Bald Truth: Secrets of Success from the Locker Room to the Boardroom, David Falk (2/3/09)
There is undoubtedly potential in a book by the man who helped usher in the sports-marketing revolution as Michael Jordan's agent, who was the most powerful NBA agent of the '90s, and who showed this summer that he still had some power-brokering left in him as he engineered Elton Brand's move to Philly.

Darren Rovell describes The Bald Truth as "a business book that relates his experiences in the sports business world into general business lessons," which disappoints us, as we'd rather see something closer to a memoir from Falk.

The Dandy Dons: Bill Russell, K. C. Jones, Phil Woolpert, and One of College Basketball's Greatest and Most Innovative Teams, James W. Johnson (6/1/09)
OK, this is a bit of a quirky choice: it's the story of the University of San Francisco's back-to-back NCAA champions from the '50s. Anchored by Bill Russell, the Dons were dominant - winning 55 straight at one point - and also played a key role in furthering the integration of basketball, as pretty much the first NCAA Championship team to be led by black players.

Johnson, a professor emeritus at the University of Arizona, also wrote The Wow Boys- about Stanford's surprise 1940 Rose Bowl team, which was notable for introducing the T formation to football under coach Clark Shaughnessy.

Resilience: Faith, Focus, Triumph, Alonzo Mourning with Dan Wetzel (9/30/08)
The autobiography of the one of the true basketball warriors of the modern NBA, done in tandem with Yahoo!'s Wetzel, covering Zo's journey both on-court and off-court. Ira Winderman captured some highlights in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, while Yahoo! Sports offered an extended excerpt of Chapter 1.

Score Like Agent Zero, Gilbert Arenas with D.J. Gallo (5/19/08)
What more can Gilbert possibly share that he hasn't already on his blog? Well, according to him:
    I'm writing a book.

    It ain't going to be the T.O. 'I Need My Ball' or whatever that book was called. It ain't going to be the Phil Jackson book. Mine is going to be more like Chicken Soup for the Soul. Mine is going to be like that with more funny stuff. It's going to be hilarious.

    Stuff like, 'If you're a No. 1 or No. 2 pick, why do you need an agent?' Reality stuff like that. You might as well just give your money to Vegas because that's all you're doing with the agent, you're just giving it to him. Because you're the No. 1 or No. 2 pick, point blank, you don't need an agent. It's a slotted system now. It's not like you're Glenn Robinson coming out saying 'Give me $100 million.' You can't do that anymore.

    So it's going to be mostly funny stuff like that. Attacking people, attacking the system, attacking critics ' stuff like that.
We have nothing to add, other than to point out that, ironically, there actually is a basketball-specific version of Chicken Soup for the Soul coming out this season, too, co-authored by the prolific Pat Williams.

West by West (possible title), Jerry West (2009)
It's been 40 years since Jerry West wrote his first autobiography, Mr. Clutch, so it seems like it's well worth it to get a new book from The Logo. Here's how West's new book was described in the Sacramento Bee (hat tip: Hooped Up):
    A must read: West also revealed that he has begun writing an autobiography that is scheduled to be completed within 12 months. "It's about my life," he said, adding with a chuckle, "and it's going to include the things that made me borderline insane at times. It will be honest. I'm a complex person. Nothing has ever satisfied me. That's just who I am. It (the book) is going to be truthful, and it's going to be serious."

    A significant portion of the book, West said, will deal with his relationship with his former African-American teammates and colleagues during the 1950s and turbulent 60s. "My closest friends were black players," said West, a native of Cabin Creek (or Chelyan) West Virginia, a rural riverside community not far from Charleston. "Maybe it was our (common) backgrounds." He plans to detail his intense, almost sibling relationship with [Elgin] Baylor, who is four years his senior. West absolutely loves the guy. As he talked about Baylor's demise with the Clippers early Wednesday evening, the notoriously emotional West had to pause and collect his thoughts. "I really don't know what's going on," he said, "but it doesn't matter. Elgin and I talk every few weeks. He's a friend of mine. He will always be a friend of mine."

    Yep. The guy is complex. And fascinating. And among the game's compelling, enduring characters. I am too young to remember The Logo as as the Lakers shooting guard with the sweet stroke and impeccable timing, but I know him as the NBA exec whose opinion mattered more than anyone else's.
Rebound!: Basketball, Busing, Larry Bird, and the Rebirth of Boston, Michael Connelly (12/12/08)
As Boston Sports Media Watch notes in a capsule summary of Rebound!:
    Written by Boston Herald writer Michael Connelly (who also writes the daily Connelly’s Top Ten blog for the Herald website) the book parallels the struggles of a city in crisis during the tumultuous 1970’s with a once-great sports franchise in decline. Drawing upon his own experiences as a youth during that decade, Connelly presents a compelling social history of Boston.
Top of the World: The Inside Story of the Boston Celtics' Amazing One-Year Turnaround to Become NBA Champions, Peter May (10/27/08)
Seems to fall more under the category of "slapped together to capitalize on a championship" than "Jack McCallum-style embedded reporting." As Henry noted in TrueHoop: "As you can expect from a book by a beat writer that plainly must have been rushed into production, much of this book chronicles without shedding all that much light." We have to admit that we're not really the biggest fans of May, who has always seemed to resent the modern-day NBA to us, and the excerpt run on HoopsHype didn't do a lot for us, either.
HoopsHype: Excerpt

Madmen's Ball: The Continuing Saga of Kobe, Phil and the Los Angeles Lakers, Mark Heisler (11/1/08)
This is the longtime L.A. Times reporter's followup to his 2004 book Madmen's Ball: The Inside Story of the Lakers' Dysfunctional Dynasties, which garnered a middle-of-the-road 3-star average in the user reviews on Amazon.

An excerpt which ran in the L.A. Times on Sunday focused on the exacerbation of the Shaq-Kobe rivalry at the beginning of the 2003-04 season. While Shaq v Kobe seems, I suppose, to have an endless supply of sensationalistic appeal, the excerpt seems to mainly be a rehashing of public comments, and feels like ground which has been well-trodden.
L.A. Times: Excerpt

College Basketball Prospectus, Ken Pomeroy and John Gassway (11/28/08)
We're a little jealous because we wish there were still an annual book devoted to the major leagues of hoops rather than the minors. But just to show you we're bigger than that, we're still showing some NCAA love to a book that was spotlighted in the N.Y. Times' PLAY magazine.

The Gold Standard: Building a World-Class Team, Mike Krzyzewski and Jamie Spatola (4/6/09)
Just wanted to end with a quick warning that Coach K is coming out with his 478th book in the spring. As described in the N.Y. Post:
    US Men's Olympic basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski is teaming up with his daughter Jamie K. Spatola for his latest book, which is tentatively slated to be published next spring.

    The book will be a firsthand account of how he worked with NBA superstars Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade and Carmelo Anthony to buy into his concept of teamwork that carried them back to Olympic gold after the US team was humiliated four years earlier.

    [Rick Wolff, the executive editor who signed the deal] said he expects the book will be a case study in fundamental management techniques.
We can deal with Coach K's take on the Olympic experience, but please spare us on the "fundamental management techniques" b.s.

More on basketball books:
New Golden Age: 26 Intriguing Basketball Books from 2004-07
David Halberstam's NBA Books
A Basketball Book-Buying Spree

Monday, November 03, 2008

I am a Witness... To LeBron in the High/Low Post

Quite an entertaining early-season matchup as LeBron James and the Cavs played Chris Paul and the Hornets in New Orleans on Saturday night. I was surprised that I had to catch a game featuring the two best players in the world on League Pass. No matter what the size of the two markets is, I figured that each LBJ-CP3 matchup was worthy of some national run, especially given that there are only two per season. (You might have Kobe in the top two instead of LeBron or CP3 and that's fine, I can dig it, but my point is the same.)

But I digress. Given that New Orleans won the ballgame 104-92 without Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic, and that Chris Paul (24 pts, 15 asts) outplayed LeBron (15-7-13) overall, it might be surprising for me to say that I was downright excited by what I saw with the Cavs' offense, but that is indeed the case.

What was exciting for me was to see how LeBron James was being deployed. The stagnant 1-4 sets with LBJ pounding the ball into the ground 30 feet away from the basket were much less prevalent, mainly utilized at the end of quarters.

Instead, what the Cavs showed on Saturday was an offense full of motion, with LeBron in the high post, in the low post, catching the ball on the move coming across the lane on cross screens or coming off of down screens.

Cleveland often initiated its offense with a variation of the "UCLA" double high-post set that has been a Jerry Sloan favorite in Utah. Here's a basic look at how this offense is aligned (from Hoop Tactics), though the Cavs had the 2 and 3 men a little deeper in the corner (just showing this for the initial alignment - disregard the action shown here):

There are innumerable variations to the UCLA offensive set. The Malone-Stockton-era Jazz used this set as a starting point for all kinds of options, including these examples:
-- there is the classic "UCLA cut", in which the point guard passes to the wing and cuts to the basket, using a high post player as a screen;
-- they would enter the ball to the wing, either by dribble or pass, to set up their mainstay side pick-and-roll;
-- they would enter the ball to Malone at the high post and give him room to drive or shoot a 17-footer, while running a variety of cutters to take advantage of his passing ability.

LeBron was sometimes lined up on the wing, and sometimes he set up in the 4 position above, on the left elbow with his back to the basket. When he was at the 4, he had a lot of the same advantages that the Mailman had, as described above, and I think it's a fantastic idea.

The Cavs often opted to pass the ball into LeBron at the 4 position (left elbow) and then have Varejao come over from the 5 position and run a pick and roll.

Cleveland used this 4-5 screen to particularly strong effect at the end of the first quarter, as they ran it repeatedly. Here's a rundown of their sequence of possessions:

2:48 1st Q, 16-13 Cavs
With a combination of a double-team and a rotation after the screen, LeBron finds Wally, who misses a drive, but LeBron comes flying in for the offensive rebound, and then swings around to Wally, who finds Delonte West for a 3. 19-13 Cavs

2:11 1st Q, 19-15 Cavs
Classic pick-and-roll, with LeBron finding Varejao for an easy layup. 21-15 Cavs

1:40 1st Q, 21-17 Cavs
Varejao slips the screen and receives a gorgeous behind-the-back assist from LeBron, which can be seen at the :09 mark in the highlight reel on 23-17 Cavs

1:17 1st Q, 23-17 Cavs
LeBron comes off the screen and knocks down a 16-foot jumper (much easier than the 22-foot fadeaways we've seen so much in the past). 25-17 Cavs

0:48 1st Q, 25-19 Cavs
LeBron tries another 17-footer off the screen and misses badly, but comes right in for the rebound and an easy putback. It sure seems like the fact that a) he's setting up closer to the basket and b) his momentum is taking him toward the basket, rather than fading away, is leaving LBJ in much better position to hit the O-boards. 27-19 Cavs

0:12 1st Q, 27-19 Cavs
The Cavs run the old 1-4 set with LeBron isolated on top to close the quarter. He dribbles, dribbles, dribbles, and ends up with a 22-footer under duress. Clank. 27-19 Cavs

Certainly, Cleveland still needs to work out the kinks, but its new offensive approach seems to be very promising, esp. when employing a lineup with LeBron at the 4, and/or operating out of the high post on the left side.

The Cavs' UCLA sets seemed less effective with LeBron on the wing, mainly b/c it seemed like Cleveland got away from putting the ball in his hands.

When they did get LeBron the ball on the move near the lane, off of cross screens or down screens, it was often very effective. In these instances, he would often draw two defenders immediately, setting up an easy assist. (Check the 1:03 mark of the video package linked above for an example.) It was interesting that the Cavs' new alignments seemed to set up James as a playmaker more so than as a scorer, as his stats (15 pts, 13 asts) bore out.

We'd also note that LeBron displayed a nascent low-post game a little bit - he hit a nifty left hook from the left low block at one point. As we've noted before, we think that LeBron could be absolutely devastating in the low post if he develops his game down there.

All in all, the Cavs simply seem to be putting LeBron in positions where he is much more difficult to guard - moving his game from out near the three-point line (his three attempts are down from 4.8/game to 3.0 through 3 games) to the mid-range.

Blogger Brian McCormick explained the advantages of LeBron in the high post in a post just after the Olympics in August:
    Whenever I discuss James with a coach, we agree that we do not understand wasting his talent 25-feet from the basket. James is an exceptional passer. He is strong and fast. He is not, however, a great three-point shooter and he dribbles too much.

    Playing James as the PF does not mean taking the ball out of his hands. The Kings ran their offense through Vlade Divac and Chris Webber and each exhibited his passing acumen. Imagine James at the high post. If he penetrates, there is no way for the weak side defender to get from outside the lane to a position where he can take a charge. So, the defender either has to cheat, meaning James can show off his passing skills, or challenge James as he jumps to dunk. I seriously do not know how anyone would defend the Cavs if they ran their offense through James at the high post. Teams would have to play zone and take their chances with James passing to his teammates on the perimeter.

    When the Cavs give James the ball at half court and stand and watch him try to break down the other team, they make it easier for their opponents. They make James easier to guard. Honestly, James would get 35 and 8 if he played the game within 18-feet of the basket, rather than dribbling away half the shot clock 30-feet from the basket.
Amen. Although I would note that I think, after getting a little taste on Saturday, that the potential might be more for 30 pts and 12 ast than 35 and 8.

Also check out Brian's animated play diagrams showing how the Cavs are using LeBron when he's set up as the 3 man on the wing, from his observations of Cleveland in the preseason.

Oh by the way, before we go, let's tip our cap to CP3, whose court vision and generalship were superb as always, and James Posey, who knocked down clutch shots and made arguably the key play of the game, a strip steal of LeBron leading to a breakaway that put New Orleans up 88-83, breaking open a tight game for good.

Ah, the league is back, and I am happy.