Steve Kerr on Yahoo: "This series was decided at the end of Game 2, when LeBron James attacked the rim, drew contact from Richard Hamilton but wasn't awarded a foul. The Cavs were furious with the no-call, fled the court in anger and prepared to meet the media after going down 2-0. The coaches and players were irate, ready to rip the officials for failing to call a foul on the play and costing Cleveland the game. Instead, general manager Danny Ferry and his assistant Lance Blanks took control of the situation, demanding from everyone that no excuses would be made. Hence, the quote from both Mike Brown and LeBron James: 'We're a no-excuses team.' The Cavaliers gained strength from that moment. The message delivered to the press was as much meant for Cleveland's players as anyone. Refusing to blame the officials meant showing no signs of weakness. It meant building strength rather than allowing an internal excuse. By Game 3, the Cavs were unified, strong and ready to take on Detroit. That's when everything turned."
This Billy Donovan thing is one of the strangest sports stories I have seen in a long time. What, did they offer him a better parking spot back in Gainesville?
Video of the street scene outside Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night.
LeBron James is scheduled to have a child on the night of Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Of course, no one has babies on the exact day. Could happen any time. I'll vote for an off-day when the Finals are in Cleveland -- to avoid any really tough decisions. UPDATE: For the record, LeBron James has said on ESPN that he won't miss a game for the birth of this child.
If part of being a leader is steering your people to greatness even after they leave your sphere of influence, then Gregg Popovich must be one of the greatest leaders in NBA history. Practically everyone who works for him goes on to have a great career.
A fascinating story from a few months ago about the unusual draft process that resulted in Daniel Gibson being a Cavalier. If he had been willing to work out for more teams, he likely would have been a much higher pick, but Gibson and his dad strategized that being the only young point guard on a team with LeBron James was a good career move, and discouraged other teams, figuring it was a better career move to end up on the right team. Also, if you're good, it's much better to be a second-round pick, because you get to the lucrative second contract much earlier in your career.
Steve Kyler of Hoopsworld on one of my favorite draft prospects, Zabian Dowdell: "Zabian Dowdell did himself justice playing in the camp. One league executive was asked what players he liked in the field of 64 and without much deliberation stated Dowdell was the best point guard in the camp. Miami is said to be very interested in Zabian at #20 if Javaris Crittenden is gone as most expect."
Peter D. Newmann, ESPN NBA Research and Information Specialist, sent over a mess of numbers about seven game series. Out of the 362 completed best-of-seven series in NBA history, the team that wins Game 1 is an impressive 284-78. In the NBA Finals since the league went to 16-team format in 1983-84, the team with homecourt advantage is 17-6. Wow.
Geoff Calkins of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal examines the working history of Boston's Chris Wallace, who, along with Mark Jackson, is said to be a major candidate for the Memphis GM job: "Wallace has worked under noted incompetents Danny Ainge and Rick Pitino in Boston. He did have a couple years between them, however, when he was free to do as he wanted. During that stretch, Wallace spent first-round picks on Joe Johnson, Kedrick Brown and Joe Forte in the 2001 draft, passing on Tony Parker, Gerald Wallace, Richard Jefferson, Vladimir Radmanovic, Troy Murphy and Gilbert Arenas. He then traded Joe Johnson for Tony Delk and Rogers, and traded Kenny Anderson for Vin Baker and his ridiculous contract. Inspirational, eh?"
Jeannie Buss -- Laker executive who dates Phil Jackson and is the daughter of owner Jerry Buss -- weighs in on the Laker website saying she has no part in personnel decisions but hopes the team will never trade Kobe Bryant. Without a membership to the site you can read much of it here.
You have to feel for Antonio McDyess.
Jim O'Brien might be just what Jamaal Tinsley needed.
Off the top of my head, I know of only two people who predicted, before the season, that the Cavaliers would be in the NBA Finals. Nike's Lynn Merritt (who has a stash of millions riding shotgun with LeBron and can be expected to be irrational), and this blogger. UPDATE: ESPN's John Hollinger and Greg Anthony called it, too, as did The Painted Area and Gail Goodrich. (As well as ... too many others to publish, as it turns out.)
The Painted Area reviewed Detroit's performance during LeBron James' monstrous Game 5, and concludes: "Detroit did double-team LeBron more than I remembered and usually it worked, getting the ball out of his hands, generally turning into a Pavlovic mistake of some sort. Detroit also ran its trap to some success in the fourth, but didn't really come back to it in overtime. Detroit seemed to be in mild disarray on a few Cleveland possessions. And, I don't know where Rasheed's head was."
The San Francisco Chronicle's Ray Ratto on the passing of a champion: "Charles Johnson didn't share the news of his cancer with anyone but his closest friends and relations. He fought until he could fight no more, and then he passed Friday, at the ridiculous age of 58. It was a hard way out, too. His 1975 NBA Championship ring appeared on eBay, to be auctioned off presumably to raise funds for his care. The opening bids request was $8,900, and apparently didn't raise any interest. His passing was mentioned on a Warriors blog, but on neither the Warriors nor Washington Wizards Web sites. That seems profoundly wrong, for Charles Johnson had done more than enough worth remembering, but it is the nature of things. History is for those who lived through it, but for this generation it neither ages nor transports as well as it once did. Charles Johnson was on the last championship teams of both the Warriors and Wizards (who were the Bullets back then), and his role on the last Warriors championship team transcended his place in the starting lineup. He was the defensive specialist, and the calming influence who surveyed and sanded down the jagged edges around him. But there isn't a lot of splash to that. No team can win a championship without a Charles Johnson, but as moths head to the bulb with the highest wattage, America heads for the brightest star, leaving the Charles Johnsons in a corner of the dressing room, sipping champagne with a satisfied, knowing smile and accepting the fifth edition of everyone's congratulations."
Sekou Smith of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Some dope somewhere started a rumor about Josh Smith being on the trading block now that the Hawks have a couple of lottery picks and could be in position to "replace" him with the likes of Brandan Wright or Al Horford (or one of the other forward types in this draft). Um, on a stupid scale ranging from 1 to 10, with 10 being stupid beyond reason, I'd say that's close to 1,000. Let's just do the math. Last I checked Josh Smith will make roughly $1.4 million for the 2007-08 season, making him arguably the NBA's best bargain (when you consider his production). He won't make as much money as the No. 3 or No. 11 pick this season. Did you hear me? This guy is the best bargain in the league."
Huge Cleveland fan "the Cavalier" from YAYsports!: "Without going too into it, Saturday night was somewhat emotional around our head, and right now there's a definite feeling of contentment with just making it. Hopefully this changes by Thursday's Game 1."
UPDATE: A glimmer of hope in Seattle: the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe could conceivably use some land and casino cash on an NBA arena, and they appear at least curious.