Sunday, May 23, 2010

Superman? King James? Hah!

It's a sign of our times that Orlando center Dwight Howard goes by the moniker 'Superman' while Cleveland's LeBron James is known as 'King' James.

'Superman' can't score consistently inside eight feet against one-on-one defense by Boston's Kendrick Perkins, Rasheed Wallace or Glen (Big Baby) Davis, while 'King' James couldn't find the energy in Game Five of the Eastern Conference semifinals to play to his level.

You know, that level he spoke of after the game that he's 'spoiled' us to expect. James missed the concept that there is an energy level that observers expect to see. Intelligent observers recognize the world's greatest ever - Michael (Air) Jordan, Oscar (OK, he had the Big O) Robertson and Wilt (the Big Dipper) Chamberlain - had nights when their shots wouldn't go.

And yes, I remember Chamberlain being criticized for lackadaisical performances, but more often than not, stars performed and led, like stars.

The greatest winner of them all, Boston's Bill Russell, brought it nightly. Often, it took Russell to bring out those games in which Chamberlain was criticized for lack of effort.

However, the point here is irritation when Howard, who is one game away from completing his sixth NBA season before his 25th birthday on Dec. 8, is called 'Superman with such an embarrassingly incomplete offensive post game. 'Superman' looks like he might have problems scoring alone in his phone booth after he changes clothes.

Watching him against Celtics helps me understand why Shaquille O'Neal gets pissed when Howard accepts the nickname. Imagine a team playing O'Neal with single coverage when 'The Diesel' was 24 years old. Can you count to 35? You'd need that ability to get with his nightly scoring outputs.

Granted, as Larry Hicks, my partner and fellow sports freak, contends - the media hung those tags on Howard and James. However, my contention is once those players accepted the nicknames, they also took responsibility for living up to the monikers.

We know it's all about making money and furthering your brands, but how about production? Show up when it's time to carry your team. That's what stars do. They come through when others won't and/or can't.

That goes for coaches, too. Howard is overrated, then so is his coach - Stan Van Gundy. As O'Neal has said, Van Gundy is the master of panic. If you watch him on the sidelines during a game, the dude wants to call every play. He whines throughout the game, even when the Magic has a huge lead.

He wears on his team to the point of nausea and if it hasn't happened already, it won't be long before his team tunes him out. Van Gundy is a good coach. His Magic has gone to the NBA Finals and the Eastern Conference Finals in back-to-back seasons and that's no coincidence.
During this series against the Celtics, Van Gundy's adjustments have been ineffective.

By the way, when did Rashard Lewis become a power forward? Only when Van Gundy made him one. So that took away minutes from Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson.
Now Bass may have some issues of which I'm unaware, but if so, a lot of other folk also are unaware.

And by the way, is it only me or does anyone else have a problem with Stan coaching and brother Jeff Van Gundy commentating? I always wonder if what I hear out of Jeff's mouth, especially regarding Magic players, is coming from Stan.

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