Monday, January 21, 2008

Nate's Monday Sports Extravaganza!

Lots to talk about this week, so let's hop to it.


McBone Sports congratulates head coach Mike Brown on his recent contract extension. While fans may dislike his defense-first approach, the Cavs got to the NBA finals in just Brown's second year at the helm. After two years he is number one in Cavs history in terms of winning percentage, playoff winning percentage and, incredibly, playoff wins. If you have a problem with that, go root for Phoenix and have fun getting wiped out in the playoffs every season. Great offenses win regular season games. Great defenses win titles. I'll take Brown and the latter every single time. This move receives the official McBone Seal of Approval: McB

All those asinine mid season MVP arguments are swirling right now, so I suppose I should address the topic as well. In the month of January, the Cavaliers are 9-1. LeBron James is averaging 33-10-7 in those games. Know who else is putting up those kind of numbers? No one. Apologies to Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade and Tim Duncan, but LBJ is the best player in the NBA. Steve Nash? Please. Need more proof? James is averaging nearly 10 points in the fourth quarter, which, by the way, is winning time. In second place? Dwayne Wade, at two points less. The Cavs are 22-12 when LeBron plays. Without him? 0-6. More? James dominates the game at both ends of the court. At the end of games he demands to guard the opposing team's best scorer. Throw in two steals and a blocked shot per night (watch LeBron defending the fast break--he has become masterful at swatting easy baskets from behind) and you have an all around player that the league hasn't seen since the days of Jordan.

Recent wins on the road over Dallas and San Antonio are pretty clear indicators that the Cavs on the whole are rounding into shape. While this might be a favorite team to dismiss, this is also a squad that is built for winning in the playoffs.

After all the holdout hullaballoo, Anderson Varejao is looking like a guy who should be making 10 million a year. Really, he is leaps and bounds better than Drew Gooden by now, and that is why he gets more minutes and finishes games. He's even added a reliable little jumpshot to his repertoire. Varejao, should he remain healthy, will get his payday. He's a special player that conjures memories of Rodman. Does that mean he was right to hold out? NO! You have to show you've improved before you get the raise.

Interesting to see Damon Jones back in the rotation, and with a vengeance. Not only is he actually playing, he's shooting and passing the ball as well as he has in his 2+ years with the club. The real shocker, though, has been his defense. Lately it's been competent enough that he has closed out some tight games. Three weeks ago, he seemed to have found a permanent place in Brown's doghouse, after refusing to enter a game in garbage time. Since then he's been a model citizen.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the world's most underrated player, has played center pretty much as well as anyone (with the notable exception of Dwight Howard) in the conference this season, and he deserves his 3rd all star appearance. Never happen, but his 13 and 10, while impressive, don't fully illustrate his contribution. He blocks and changes shots in the paint, dives for loose balls, sets great screens and has been far more mobile on defense this season than he has been in years. He also continues to be the best offensive rebounder in the league.


I suppose it was inevitable. Jacob's Field, named for the the owner who oversaw the team's rennaissance in the 90s, is no more. The Indians will now play their home games at the recently renamed Progressive Field.

So the name of a goddamn insurance agency will adorn one of baseball's most beautiful parks, yet another soulless corporate moniker cheapening our game. Now I have to stop, because I just threw up.

Oh, and don't forget the hopelessly generic logo that was unveiled the other day:

Now we have Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena (formerly Gund Arena). The P and the Q? God help us.


The firing of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham last week was totally justified, as the Browns' defense has gone from bad to worse in his three years. True, Grantham had little to work with, but it's the coordinators job to maximize the talent he is given. Grantham didn't.

Give the team credit, though, for not making dismissing Grantham in mid season, when such moves are rarely productive and usually disruptive.

Promoted to the vacant spot is former defensive backs coach, Mel Tucker, but the onus here is really on head coach Romeo Crennel, a defense-first coach whose teams have played no defense. An offseason of draft picks and free agent acquisitions should give Crennel more to work with, so let's see if he can shore things up, if only slightly. Defense, after all, cost this team a playoff spot.


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