Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lebron James and Peyton Manning Are One in the Same

ESPN posted an interesting article about Lebron James’s photographic memory:
    "LeBron will take one look at it the tv and know what game it is. He'll be like, 'Oh, that's Game 2 of the '97 Finals,' before they even put it on the screen."

This sounded very similar to an ESPN article about Peyton Manning’s memory last week:
     "Sometimes I can't remember if I checked a door at my house to see if it's locked or not," he said. "But I can remember a seam route to Marvin Harrison in 1999."

They must be long lost cousins or something! All joking aside, the two great players’ careers have strikingly a lot common: 
  • Peyton has struggled in the big game, going 1-2 in the Super Bowl, while Lebron is only 2-3 in the NBA Finals
  • Lebron was crushed in the most lopsided NBA Finals ever, while Peyton was blown out of the Super Bowl 43-8
  • Peyton has led both the Heat and Cavs to the Finals, while Peyton has taken both the Colts and Broncos to the Super Bowl
  • Lebron’s former boss is Hall of Famer Pat Riley who has six rings, while Peyton’s boss is Hall of Famer John Elway, who has two titles
  • Peyton appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated before he was drafted #1 overall in 1998, same with Lebron in 2003
  • Lebron has been thwarted and compared many times to future Hall of Fame player and coach Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich, while Peyton struggled and is contrasted with future Hall of Fame player and coach Tom Brady and Bill Belichick
  • Lebron finally won his first title in his ninth season, same with Peyton
  • Peyton’s free agency was the hot topic of the summer of 2012, while Lebron’s free agency decisions of 2010 and 2014 were national news 
Or you could go even deeper, outside of their careers:
  • Both have receding hairlines
  • Peyton's "Achilles Heel" is his neck, while Lebron suffers from leg cramps
  • Both met their wives while in high school
  • Both have appeared on SNL and the Simpsons
  • Peyton's success in Indianapolis helped the city get a new stadium, while Cleveland's economy is half-jokingly based on Lebron 
Lastly, they both better turn their title fortunes around these coming seasons, or else I’ll be in for some more heartache.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Return of the King: Lebron James is coming back to Cleveland!

After ripping out Cleveland fans’ hearts four years ago in “The Decision,” Lebron James decided today to come back to the Cavaliers. Instead of a television ESPN show, Lebron wrote an essay with Sports Illustrated which seemed heartfelt.  “My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn't realize that four years ago. I do now.” Much better than taking your talents to South Beach.

Three months ago, Cleveland missed the playoffs while Lebron and the Heat were headed into the playoffs looking to defend their title. It appeared that there was zero percent Lebron would be returning to the Cavaliers. How did this change?

  • 0% - At end of the regular season the Cavs finished a disappointing season at 33-49.
  • 1% - Despite only a 1.7% chance, Cleveland won the draft lottery for the third time in four years. Not only could the Cavaliers draft another top draft pick, but they could trade it for a proven star to entice Lebron to return. 
  • 5% - In the NBA Finals, the Heat got crushed in the last three games, which exposed Miami as an aging team whose championship window was closing. 
  • 10% - Lebron and his Heat teammates opted out of their contracts, making him a free agent. While it was still believed it was just a salary cap move to bring in more players, Lebron was no longer employed by Miami. 
  • 15% - The Cavs resigned their All-Star point guard, Kyrie Irving, which showed that the franchise’s current building block was in place for the future.
  • 25% - A week after opting out, Lebron’s agent only met with a handful of teams, including the Cavaliers. 
  • 50% - This morning after all the meetings, moves, and rumors, it appeared there was a 50/50 chance Lebron would come to Cleveland. 

Leading up to his announcement, there were all sorts of crazy rumors and signs that Lebron was coming back to Cleveland.  Cavalier fans, bloggers, and reporters obsessed over any minute detail as if they were solving a crime.

  • Bloggers tracked Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert’s plane as it went to Florida and back.
  • There were pictures of moving trucks outside Lebron’s Miami home.
  • Former Heat teammate Mike Miller posted a picture of himself working out with a Lebron Cleveland jersey in the background.
  • There were random changes to Lebron’s website and twitter bio, and the site even crashed when it was rumored he would announce via his site.
  • The Akron police department was given a heads up to be prepared, therefore huge crowds gathered by Lebron’s Akron home.

All this obsession shows how much Cleveland fans are passionate about their sports and how dearly they want a championship. It has been much discussed how Cleveland has not won a title in any sport since 1965, but they got a lot closer today. While I doubt the Cavaliers are going to go to four straight NBA Finals or win a title right away, having the best player in the world certainly helps.

On a personal note, I was crushed when Lebron left four years ago. I stopped watching the NBA Playoffs and I took down my pictures in front of the “Witness” billboard. However, I did not burn or throw away my Lebron jerseys or “Witness” shirt. While I am still pissed at “The Decision”, being closer to winning a championship is better than winning the draft lottery, so I welcome him back.

If that was not enough, the Cavaliers drafted UVa star Joe Harris in the second round two weeks ago as well. I was going to follow him and root for whatever team he was going to be on anyways. Now, the player I cheered for as he brought the Virginia Cavaliers an ACC title for the first time in 30 years will be hitting threes for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Oh, and don’t forget about Johnny Football.

Cleveland sports just got a lot more exciting.