Chat with Ric Bucher
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN NBA reporter Ric Bucher stops by to give you his thoughts on the latest news from the court.
Bucher joined ESPN in January 1999 as a San Francisco-based senior writer covering professional basketball for ESPN The Magazine, and as an NBA reporter for SportsCenter and NBA Fastbreak. Bucher also contributes to ESPN.com.
Send your questions now and join Bucher Friday at 3 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (1:22 PM)
Hang on folks, we're trying to find Ric.
Buzzmaster (2:35 PM)
I just talked to Ric and he got tied up with something, but he's going to be here at 3 p.m. ET.
Ric Bucher (3:02 PM)
Hey, everybody. Thanks to all those who already filed questions/comments and to those who came back to take part in this later time slot. Let's get started.
Hey Ric, Who's winning the NBA Championship and In How Many Games?
Ric Bucher (3:02 PM)
I've got Miami winning it in 5.
After what we have just seen, you can't seriously still be sticking by your Rose over LeBron to start a franchise thing?
Ric Bucher (3:06 PM)
Of course I am. LeBron James was the best player on the floor last night. He's not the best player in the league. The best player in the league is the undisputed leader of his team. At least in my book. You can compare what he did in this series vs. Rose, but the comparison can't be made. The Bulls didn't defend LeBron the way the Heat defended Rose. It's apples and oranges. I'm going to go with what one guy did the entire year vs. one series where Rose didn't have anything close to the same supporting cast in toughness or talent.
hey ric heard you on the herd show a couple days ago analyzing game four and the game of derrick rose and i am now convinced that you are incompetent to cover the NBA and you should have your espn talking rights revoked..its an honor for you to work at espn and to have such a following and you are so wrong every season every time. you are not an expert, you should be ashmed of yourself
Ric Bucher (3:07 PM)
Jon, why would you possibly waste your time coming to the chat room of someone you just described?
Punjabi Singh (Manhattan, NYC)
Please tell me you disagree with Pippen that Lebron is a better 'player' than Jordan...
Ric Bucher (3:11 PM)
As with many things, there are ulterior motives for Scottie saying what he did. One is that he and Mike aren't exactly buds. LeBron has clearly stepped up his game and is doing some of the things his critics have long expected from him. And he looks on the verge of winning his first ring. But Jordan had the drive and tenacity to win six, when everybody was gunning for him. How 'bout we let LeBron win half that total before we start putting them on the same level?
Bryan (Springdale, AR) [via mobile]
Colin Cowherd made u look foolish today in his critique of the term "volume shooter." what do you make of his critique and the 6% shooting percentage of Rose when he was guarded by Lebron in the series? I know these are hard for you to answer, but please try.
Ric Bucher (3:13 PM)
I'm a big fan of Colin's and believe he is fantastic at what he does. He knows a lot of things. One of them is not the NBA, other than on a cursory level.
I demand you to back up your "Rose is the best player in the league" absurdity. Stop side-stepping and explain exactly why you think he's a better player than LeBron (and several others for that matter). Isn't a player judged mostly on how they perform in the playoffs?
Ric Bucher (3:19 PM)
One, because his basketball IQ is higher. He has a better grasp of when he needs to attack, from where, and when he can try to get his teammates going. Two, he never stops coming. LeBron is so good that he toys with the game at times. He doesn't always make the opposing defense work as hard as he could and he doesn't always work to create the best shot. That didn't cost him in this series and it's probably not going to cost him a ring this year -- that doesn't mean I have to co-sign playing that way. I have said, multiple times, that he's the most gifted player in the league. He's the most athletic, too. For me, the game is more than that.
LeBron >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> RoseThoughts?
Ric Bucher (3:20 PM)
i just want to know how you got those angle brackets to go all the way across my screen. That's impressive.
Andrew (West Palm Beach)
I listen to you all the time on Dan Lebtard and Jorge Sedano's show. I hear how you call South FL people complainers an all. I think people down here would respect you more if you do the same thing yourself (complain) and two you have so much PRIDE that you can admit that LBJ is better than drose. I guess when the Heat win and LBJ is final mvp you will eat your words! Your really making yourself sound dumb and I know your not! Respectfully, Andrew
Ric Bucher (3:25 PM)
I appreciate you listening. The best I can do is go on those shows -- and others -- when I know that the hosts are just waiting to jump me for not anointing LeBron as the be-all, end-all. I'm OK with most of Florida holding a different opinion. Honestly, I'm OK with anyone holding a different opinion. For some reason, me having my opinion just outrages quite a few others. I'm OK with that, too.
Travis C. (Lake Highlands)
Ric, can you think of a previous Finals team that had more people rooting against them than the Heat will have this series?
Ric Bucher (3:27 PM)
Maybe the Bad Boys of Detroit? But probably not. I find it interesting that LeBron is on the verge of getting his ring and his popularity has declined. I never thought he could get back to the love and admiration he enjoyed in Cleveland, but I thought winning would move him back in that direction.
Ric Bucher (3:27 PM)
Let's go rapid fire for a solid 15...
James M (Virginia beach)
Hey Buc in the Box! What players on each team are the X-factors for the NBA Finals?
Ric Bucher (3:28 PM)
I'm going to say Udonis Haslem for the Heat and Shawn Marion for the Mavs.
joe (los angeles, ca)
any chance we'll see miami go small and have lebron guarding dirk in the finals? that would be an amazing matchup.
Ric Bucher (3:29 PM)
I agree -- and I think we could. I would expect Dirk to get payback against Udonis for what he did to him in '06. Helps that Shaq is not back there this time around.
Ric, a story on Buss came out saying that Bynum is "untouchable" in trade talks. From what you've heard, is this true? If so, does this mean the Nets would be the likely suitor for Dwight?
Ric Bucher (3:31 PM)
Lakers have slipped on Dwight's list for reasons beyond that. I'd rank his preferences in this order: Orlando, Dallas, NJ, Lakers. But for Orlando to keep him, they're going to have to make some serious deals, ones that I'm really doubtful they can pull off.
brendan (ma) [via mobile]
Ric - you are gar forman. You're teams lack of scoring was completely exposed vs miami. What are you going to do to improve this and who are you willing to give up to do so?
Ric Bucher (3:32 PM)
The first thing they have to do is make Carlos Boozer accountable defensively. They didn't and maybe that's because he was coming back from the hand injury. But if Tom Thibodeau doesn't next season, he will lose this team and they will be nowhere close to what they were this year.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
Did you give an interview for "Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN"? What are your thoughts/expectations?
Ric Bucher (3:33 PM)
I did not. I have no beefs with anybody, so maybe that's why. Or maybe I'm just not a big enough fish.
Brian (Washington, DC)
What shooting guards will be available and/or who will Chicago be targeting this offseason via trade or free agency?
Ric Bucher (3:35 PM)
It really depends on what the new CBA looks like. They have $2.5 million in cap and they have a mid-level exception worth about $7 million something. But will any of that be available under the new CBA? And what will the price be for FAs? All questions we (and they) don't have answers for right now.
LeBron held Rose to 6% shooting while guarding him. I don't know as much about basketball as you, but I watch the league religiously and it seems like LeBron WANTED to go head to head with the guy who took his MVP crown and shut him down. Which he did. On both ends of the floor.
Ric Bucher (3:37 PM)
LeBron was great on Rose at the end of games. But when you can defend a guy knowing the rest of your team is ready to come off their men to help you because those other guys can score, it dramatically changes how you can defend. And yet I still saw DRose, when he recognized the help couldn't get there, score on LeBron or get great looks. Despite the difference in size.
Ric Bucher (3:40 PM)
Let's put it this way: LeBron guarding Rose should've meant there was somebody else who had a matchup that heavily favored the Bulls. And yet there wasn't. They had no choice but to continue to have Rose attack LeBron and score or create. Which he did to keep them in every game. Even though the Bulls didn't stay attached to anyone other than Korver when he came in. Give DRose one other matchup to work with that favored the Bulls and it's an entirely different story.
Miami really has a more talented "team" than Chicago? Seems like the exact opposite of what we've been told all year.
Ric Bucher (3:42 PM)
I agree. I read a lot about how great the bench was and what an impressive combo Boozer/Noah were and how Rose was really just a beneficiary of Thibodeau's coaching and the Bulls' defense. Didn't see either of those elements assert themselves in this series.
You are gonna take Rose to start a franchise who has had 1 GREAT year when Lebron has had 5 GREAT years??????? Wow, you really do not like Lebron at all.
Ric Bucher (3:43 PM)
This is perhaps the only aspect of all the critiques out there that bothers me: that I don't like LeBron. I can't say I really know him. What I do know of him, i like. I've heard a lot of stuff from others that portrays him as a bad guy, but that has not been my experience.
Ric Bucher (3:46 PM)
The other aspect of this LeBron-Rose debate that I find really delicious is all those, including my friend Dan LeBatard, or his co-host, suggesting that Rose "can't lose," as in he's either the hero or his supporting cast just isn't good enough. Didn't I hear that every year that LeBron was in Cleveland?
Ric, I've always respected you and your knowledge about the league, but it seems that no amount of facts put in front of you would change your opinion of Rose > Lebron. It's getting a little silly at this point.
Ric Bucher (3:47 PM)
When somebody puts a fact in front of me that takes in all the elements involved, I'll be more than happy to change my opinion. I have before. I don't have a dog in this fight. I just have what I see.
Greatest athlete to ever play the game: Shaq or LeBron?
Ric Bucher (3:48 PM)
That's a good question. I'll go LeBron. I don't think we've ever seen anything like him.
Are you an ogre?
Ric Bucher (3:49 PM)
I've been called many things, but that's a new one. OK if I ask my kids?
Ric what is going on in Portland? Two GMs fired within 1 year is a bit odd. Was Cho's firing simply the result of a personality clash or is there more there?
Ric Bucher (3:50 PM)
Paul Allen is being very hands-on. I've been told Nate McMillan recently met with Paul and one of his advisers to discuss changing his coaching staff for the second straight summer as well.
Can you explain to me how the Heat defended Rose any differently than what LeBron faced from 2006-2010 in the playoffs? Or argue that Rose had inferior teammates to what LeBron had in those years? Or explain how LeBron was more efficient in those playoffs than Rose was this year?
Ric Bucher (3:52 PM)
What team that LeBron faced had the athleticism that the Heat have, particularly on the perimeter? What team did LeBron play for that did not have a single other player who could create his own shot or knock down an uncontested mid-range jumper?
Can Rose play all five positions?
Ric Bucher (3:54 PM)
Last I checked, that wasn't a prerequisite for being the best player in the game. Defending all five positions, either. Otherwise Kevin Garnet would've been a lot higher in the pecking order for a lot more years.By the way, when has LeBron defended centers? Just curious.
I agree with you on Miami in 5, but why do you pick that way? I'm thinking Miami will let Dirk score 75 and stop everyone else.
Ric Bucher (3:57 PM)
I look at how Russ, KD and Harden at times just sliced through the Mavs' defense and think, "Holy cow, imagine what LeBron and Wade will do." But it's matchups. Can Tyson Chandler step out and defend Bosh at the high post? Can JT stay in front of Wade?
Do you see Parker in a Spurs uniform next season? It's getting difficult to see that after the comments he made last week and because he is the only real trade chip that the Spurs have.
Ric Bucher (3:58 PM)
I'd say he's the most likely to be moved. It isn't just his comments the other day. TP has gone off the reservation a bit in how the Spurs like their players to conduct themselves. A trust has been broken and that's very big in the SA culture.
Vanja (Hamilton, ON)
Loved the podcast with the Sports Guy - where you said that you hate picking winners without seeing at least one game first - so how confident are you in your Miami prediction?
Ric Bucher (4:01 PM)
I discounted the Mavs all year and they seem to have a resilience and magic about them. JKidd is doing things that defy his age. When I look at the matchups, it's hard to go against Miami. But sometimes a team has a desperation or a mental toughness that can outweigh those disadvantages. We'll know after Game 1 where we're headed, that's for sure.
THANKS JON! I COULDNT HAVE PUT IT ANY BETTER MYSELF!!! RIC BUCHER = HACK
Ric Bucher (4:02 PM)
That's what my chat rooms are all about -- giving everyone a chance to speak their piece. Thank you, Tom, for thanking Jon.
Miami in 5? Elaborate - Dallas is playing amazing basketball. I can take Miami in 6, 7.... but 5? Owch.
Ric Bucher (4:03 PM)
I just see 6 or 7 as a cop-out. I have to believe Miami is the overwhelming favorite. They're unfazed about closing out series on the road, as they just demonstrated. So if they're up 3-1, I have to think they could close the door.
Harmon (Las Vegas)
Moving forward, do you think the bulls can get Aaron Afflalo or OJ Mayo instead of the likes of Jamaal Crawford or Jason Richardson. Neither of the latter play defense and would be a waiste of money.
Ric Bucher (4:04 PM)
I like Afflalo more than Mayo, just because I see OJ as more of a ballstopper and I don't think he's any better at creating his own shot. But I like the toughness of both.
I understand your REASONS for saying Rose would be better for starting a franchise, but I think you're seriously discounting LeBron's value as a teammate. Doing what he and Dwyane have done, under this amount of scrutiny, was not easy. They have BOTH been accountable, focused, and determined. They are great leaders and teammates. Add in LeBrons unquestionably greater output on both ends of the floor (specifically his enormous advantage as a defender), and I don't see how you can see it any other way...
Ric Bucher (4:06 PM)
LeBron's value as a teammate, vs. DRose's, is one more reason why I'd take Rose over LeBron.
Ric aren?t you a little more critical about D Rose. For a guy to have the ball as much as he does to only have 33 AST the whole series, he just does not make enough plays for others. He should be driving to the hoop to get Noah and boozer dunks instead of taking tough layups. In my eye the way the bulls and Rose play they will never win a title. He reminds me a lot of Iverson.
Ric Bucher (4:09 PM)
I saw guys with wide open looks, created by Rose, who did not, or could not make the shot. I saw Rose having to swing around and get the ball from a guy who could not create his own shot with less than 10 seconds on the shot clock, so that Rose could try to create something and at least get a shot off, desperate as it might be. LeBron does not have to do that in Miami and he didn't always do it in Cleveland. Reading stats without watching the game and how they're produced is simply meaningless. I know I bang that drum a lot, but there's one more thump.
I think you are an excellent columnist, but I do have a hard time understanding why the best player has to be the "undisputed leader of his team". Does that mean guys like Brian Cardinal and Shane Battier are the best players in the league because they are cheerleaders?
Ric Bucher (4:12 PM)
The definition of a leader isn't a cheerleader or even a guy that everyone likes. It's a guy, for me, who sets the tone for everyone, who inspires them to play better and work harder than they otherwise would. I guarantee you this: LeBron, for all his immense talents and gifts, never has inspired anyone to work harder.
There is an NBA Finals going on (Dallas)
Hey Rick, when did this chat become about you? Pretty sure there is a Mavs - Heat finals that people want to talk about.
Ric Bucher (4:13 PM)
You're right and I apologize. But that's where the bulk of the questions/comments have gone. Let me go 10 more minutes and we will talk strictly about the upcoming series or other basketball-related subjects.
Vanja (Hamilton, ON)
Mr. BUCHER Who guards Nowitzki? James or Bosh? Will we see Dallas play zone against Miami?
Ric Bucher (4:15 PM)
I would expect Bosh to start on Dirk, with Udonis getting a lot of minutes and Bosh swinging to 5. I see Marion on LeBron. Not sure if Dirk starts on Joel Anthony or Bosh.
Ric, when you made the argument on Lebatard's show that Lebron had more help in Cleveland than Rose has in Chicago, you used Big Z as the example. Huh?
Ric Bucher (4:16 PM)
Big Z, at one point, was considered the second-best center in the Eastern Conference. Is there one big guy on the Bulls that is the second-best at his position?
chris (portland, or)
bosh is putting up 18.5 and 9 on 50% shooting and has a playoff PER better than pierce, aldridge, westbrook, harden, both gasols, gerald wallace, kg, .... the list goes on. i know you and simmons think he's lacking a certain je ne sais quoi, but c'mon, man, he's doing it. give the guy some credit.
Ric Bucher (4:19 PM)
Bosh does deserve credit. My only issue was saying he's the key to what the Heat do. He gets everything playing off the focus on those other two guys. He's not Dirk, which means the Heat couldn't function as they have running the offense through him at the high post. Just trying to get proper perspective.
I understand your argument that Rose is the definite leader of his team and in Miami it's split between Wade and Lebron, but when does the fact that Lebron is a more efficient scorer, better passer/rebounder/defender come into play?
Ric Bucher (4:22 PM)
Here's my question with the whole efficiency thing: If LeBron were efficient and the Heat (or Cavs) lost, does that make him the best player? Because his numbers say he is? Or is it about looking at exactly what a guy did to get his team a victory? Carlos Boozer was extraordinarily efficient in Game 4. Was he the best player on the Bulls? That's the slippery slope of this whole "efficiency" argument.
Matt (Cincinnati OH)
Ric - please tell me how impressed I am supposed to be with a Heat team that needed very contested games to beat a depleted and aging Celts and then beat a young and offensively challenged Bulls team. I dont understand the buzz around this "juggernaut" as my view is that their competition has been the equivalent of 2nd round type teams in past years. Am I way off here?
Ric Bucher (4:24 PM)
Have to take a question from a homey. (Homie? I forget which it is.) The Heat's stars have sacrificed their games and done the little things. The Heat's bench has stepped up, despite injuries, and contributed. The Heat deserve your admiration.
Ric Bucher (4:25 PM)
But you do put into context the kind of teams that are vying for this year's championship. They're all flawed, in one way or another. Not sure what their chances would be against the contenders of a lot of previous years.
Steve (Aptos )
Wow - hostile crowd. Lakers hire Mike Brown. Golden State gets Jerry West. Can the Logo turn the Warriors, the worst franchise in the NBA, into a playoff team? And who goes - Curry or Monte?
Ric Bucher (4:27 PM)
You haven't even seen the ones I haven't posted. On The Logo: I'll be interested to see how that works out. I was told his introduction was a rambling dissertation on basketball that made a lot of people nervous. If I had to guess, I'd say the Warriors would deal Monta before Steph. But I'd probably go the other way. As we've seen in these playoffs, athletic superiority is at a premium for success these days.
Ric Bucher (4:28 PM)
That's all I've got for this week. Thanks again for joining me. We'll do it again next week and go with the usual 10 am PT start.
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