The Missing Brother
On October 20th, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and LeBron James will be on the same basketball court. Three brothers from another mother will be competing to win a game that LeBron James will forever remember, his first game in Los Angeles in a Los Angeles uni. That is the overwhelming story, how James hijacked the NBA this summer and changed cities, conferences, teams and did something not yet known to his legacy.
But on October 20th, when the Lakers and Rockets play, someone will be missing. The fourth brother won’t be there.
“For me, what’s right for my family is being in Miami-whether that’s playing the game of basketball or not. I’m just trying to be smart and be there for the ones that supported me my whole career. I want to be in the position to support them.” (Dwyane Wade)
Dwyane Wade is undecided on his 2018-19 season and the choices are pretty simple at this point. Don’t play. Or play.
If he plays, it won’t be China but Miami, an 8th seed at best.
If he doesn’t play, he’ll do what every other NBA player has done when they don’t play. Get on with the rest of their life. Do what they want. Wade wants to support his son Zaire, a talented athlete, a high school junior, as well as his other children. His wife, Gabrielle Union, is beginning a television series that is shooting in Los Angeles.
If Wade calls it quits, it will be newsworthy. A decade after the Miami Big Three bragged about how many titles they would win, two of them will be watching NBA basketball at home, only LeBron will still be playing.
Wade has played 876 games in Miami. LeBron played 849 games in Cleveland. Carmelo played 564 games in Denver. Chris played 425 games in New Orleans/Oklahoma City. The NBA career is about being a nomad. But Wade has stuck in Miami. And with Miami.
Nothing has changed. (Julian Billick)
Isaiah Sorry But Not Sorry
Isaiah Thomas had a lackluster summer absent the Brinks truck backing up and giving him lots of money. He signed a deal to play with Denver. He’ll come off the bench because the Nuggets have a starter in Jamal Murray. But this season is about Isaiah proving he can still play, that his hip is healed, and that he matters on a playoff team. In the free agent bonanza next year, he is primed to make more than the $2.1 million he currently makes, that is if everything swings the right way.
Luke Walton raved about Isaiah’s maturity when he joined the Lakers kids, that Isaiah made an impact. That is the Isaiah Thomas NBA story. He has leadership intangibles he isn’t shy about expressing to others. But last night when he called Cleveland a s**thole, he wasn’t being funny, or sarcastic or even angry. He was digging the knife in the wound. It was meant for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Dan Gilbert. Those responsible for trading him, blaming him, scapegoating him.
Because Isaiah leads by emotion, it wasn’t a surprise he let Cleveland have it. His apology wasn’t surprising either. It’s PR 101. Show remorse. You are already complicit in rude behavior. But the thing about an apology is that it has nothing to do with remorse. It has to do with getting out of a jam.
This is how he got into his feelings in the first place. Isaiah was listing the cities he had played for and there have been a lot of them. Sacramento. Phoenix. Boston. Cleveland. Los Angeles. He said Phoenix was “cool”. That’s news to me. I’ve been to Phoenix. To each his own I guess, but cool isn’t the adjective I’d use. I’d say hot as hell. When it was Cleveland’s turn in the Isaiah geography mixer he said, “Cleveland was a sh*hole. I see why Bron left. Again.”
If we’re being technical, LeBron didn’t leave the city of Cleveland, but the organization of the Cavaliers. Isaiah couldn’t just stop with the sh*thole insult though. He wanted fresh blood with his “again” shade, reminding the Cavs that LeBron broke their heart twice, they’re a repeat loser, meaning they don’t learn from their mistakes. Naturally, it wasn’t well received and an apology that was trite and cliched was the next thing up.
Professional athletes get ridiculed for saying their truth and for how they say it. When they confuse social media chatter with chilling at home talking with the fellas, their feed is going to blow up. The same rules don’t apply. Social media lacks context.
Yes, Isaiah was miserable in Cleveland. He had a terrible experience. He was the fall guy. He took a lot of grief. But that doesn’t mean he can use the same language as Donald Trump who called African countries sh**thole countries. (Mallory Stith-Wheat)
John Wall Has Big Dreams
John Wall is not one to be shy about his opinion. That’s a good thing. Wall told Michael Lee (Yahoo) that he thinks the Wizards are at the top of the East class after the LeBron defection west.
The one part of his argument that makes sense is when he says that no one has separated themselves. No east team has beaten LeBron, has gone to the Finals, have won a title. Yes. But to align everyone up as equal just because they haven’t achieved the ultimate prize is to also say the Hawks are equal too. But no.
The East isn’t a meritocracy. There are teams that have the talent to compete (Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto), teams that can’t compete (Atlanta, Charlotte, Orlando), and then there are the Wizards with Dwight Howard.
What we know about Dwight Howard is that he doesn’t win. Whether he can’t win, won’t win, prevents his teams from winning, it doesn’t matter. Losing is losing.
The Wizards history is that they find a way to self explode. Wall and Bradley Beal have yet to lead the sum of parts. Having three max players (Wall, Beal, Otto Porter) squeezes financial flexibility so it’s hard to bring in the key role players and the Wizards problem has always been their bench. When Wall and Beal go out the game, the Wizards grind to a halt.
They also have a John Wall problem he doesn’t want to acknowledge. He is the center of their trouble late in games. There was a reason Bradley Beal said “everyone eats” during Wall’s injury phase. Wall holds the ball, takes bad shots, doesn’t keep the offense moving or the defense guessing. He tries to be the star instead of just making the right play. His leadership struggles in close games as he tries to take on everything by himself and then he fails.
The Wizards are not elite, even if things are perfect. They don’t have a championship roster. Sure, they can surprise a lot of people in 2018-19 but a surprise doesn’t mean Eastern Conference Finals.
With Dwight Howard in the middle of all things Washington, I’m not betting my rent money on an ECF. More likely one and done in The District. (Andrew Chang)