I think the referees got the calls right. I don’t think it was a hard foul. I think the one involving LeBron against Boozer, that was flagrant. I think the officials got it right . . . I think that it’s almost embarrassing that LeBron would complain about officiating.
Coach Riley came back with some stark words in support of his star player:
“Danny Ainge needs to shut the f— up and manage his own team,” Riley said in a statement released through a Heat spokesman. “He was the biggest whiner going when he was playing and I know that because I coached against him.”
First time I’ve ever seen a coach drop an F-bomb in a statement released by his team’s spokesman. That is so much more emphatic than saying it off the cuff to a reporter.
And that is some serious smack talking there for Riley to call Danny Ainge out as the “biggest whiner going” when he was a player.
Ainge replied to the statement with some pretty good smack of his own:
I stand by what I said. That’s all. I don’t care about Pat Riley. He can say whatever he wants. I don’t want to mess up his Armani suits and all that hair goop. It would be way too expensive for me.
Pretty good comeback, but I think Riley wins that round. Not only does Riley know what a whiner Ainge was because he coached against Ainge in the NBA Finals in 1984, 1985 and 1987, but anyone who watched the game back then knows Riley’s words are true. I’d rather be known as a sharp-dressed man with my hair slicked back than the biggest whiner going.
Remembering how Danny Ainge used to cry on every call brings back all the memories of Showtime and being a Laker fan and loving L.A. and hating on the Celtics and even hating all of Boston itself and all the pasty-skinned fans that used to pack The Garden. (Of course, I say “hating” in just a sports fan kind of way.)
As ESPN reporter Stephen A. Smith said, complaining on every call was part of Ainge’s game plan. Might have been something a Celtics fan would cheer, but for anyone else watching, all that crying and complaining was completely insufferable. The only other guy I remember from that era who was as much of a non-stop whiner on the court was Bill Laimbeer. Don’t even get me started on that guy. But this little war of words really did bring back memories of all the fun of being a Laker fan in the 80s.
I think Celtics coach Doc Rivers summed it up best:
Asked if Rivers believes Riley’s statement could further stoke the Miami-Boston rivalry, Rivers noted, “Not unless they are playing. Really, I just think it’s talk both ways. I’ll let those two grown men handle their own grown-men argument. I’m going to stay out of it. On a side note, it just gives me a smile and it’s interesting. I think it’s fun. It’s a flashback.”
You can hate a team for one single football game and what they did to your team, so it is for this Raiders fan and the Patriots over that blown call on a Tom Brady fumble in the Tuck Rule Game in 2002, so it is with the Ravens for beating my Raiders 16-3 in the AFC Championship the year before. Heck, I hate the Steelers for the Immaculate Reception in a game that happened before I was even watching football. The clip alone has been played so many times it’s as if I experienced that miserable miracle first hand.
As a lifelong Raider fan, other than two years I lived up in No. Cal., I’ve been a So. Cal. Raiders fan my whole life, so I don’t hold that same strong Bay Area Raiders / Niners rivalry that was bad enough to end in a stabbing death in a in the parking lot of a preseason game this year (it’s sports you idiots, it’s not something to kill anyone over, leave that to greasy-haired soccer fans in Europe) so in the week leading up to the Super Bowl, I was just about to root for the Niners, but then Randy Moss called himself the greatest wide receiver ever to play the game, which to deny that of Jerry Rice is just asinine, it’s like saying water isn’t wet, and then there was the homophobic diatribe from Chris Culliver and suddenly I couldn’t tell which team I liked less.
Ray Lewis? There are a lot of people who think the man got away with murder – literally – but the truth is, there are probably only three people alive who know what happened in that stabbing death after the Super Bowl in 2000 and I’m not one of them. All I know is, whatever kind of bad people he may have been associating with back then, for all we can tell, the man has been nothing but a model citizen the last thirteen years, so don’t count me in with the Ray Lewis haters.
But you have to pick one team to root for (or against) and I can still feel the sting of that AFC Championship game from 2001, so call it the lesser of two evils, but I’ll pull for the Niners today for that reason and because that Colin Kaepernick is a heck of a player and a lot of fun to watch.
Enjoy the game all – even you, Grumpy Cat!
Haters gon’ hate and yeah, I’m gonna keep on hatin’ too, because LeBron James is the most unlikable, least charismatic player in the entire league. Take the top 50 players in the league, and it would be a pleasure and a privilege to meet 49 of them, but I’d rather shake hands with a dentist who’s about to tell me I need a root canal than shake hands with this guy.
How much do I dislike LeBron as a player? Put it this way, if he got traded to the Lakers tomorrow, that would be the end my lifelong love affair with them.
And I am not at all a player hater, you have to go all the way back to the NBA days of the goofy little short shorts to find the last time I really couldn’t stand an NBA player this much, all the way back to the days of Bill Laimbeir and the “Bad Boy” Pistons.
Laimbeer was a guy who specialized in the flagrant foul (as a matter of fact, it’s said the NBA instituted rules addressing the flagrant foul because of Bill Laimbeer) and yet no matter how obvious most of the calls against him were, almost every single time you’d see him launch into a wild, gyrating protestation like he’d just been dealt the greatest injustice in league history.
And yet even with all the elbows and the cheap shots and the histrionics and even adding to that some of the most blatant flopping you’ve ever seen, even with all that, I still don’t think Laimbeer was any more annoying than the guy who began calling himself King James back in his high school days. I’m pretty sure none of that will change now that the ringless “king” has become the “chosen one” of the one ring.
Q: What kind of asshole does it take to hold the hearts of an entire city hostage through an entire season, only to let them know on live TV that he’s going elsewhere?
A: A king-sized asshole.
But beyond the infamous “Decision” on live TV that broke Cleveland’s heart and looking past the fact that LeBron has shown himself a poor sport in dissing fellow players on the post-game handshakes and ignoring for a second the way even the most clever commercial writer can’t make this guy seem affable for a mere thirty-second spot, I think it was the way LeBron took to the Heat management’s lame idea of a parade and celebration before they’d ever won a single game that really sealed the deal for me as far as being resolved to root against LeBron and Co. for as long as they play the game:
I can’t even stand to watch that whole dog and pony show with all the premature fireworks and hoopla, so I included the transcript if you can’t stomach it either.
Here’s LeBron, asked about bringing a championship to Miami:
Not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven . . . hey, and when I say that, and when I say that, I really believe it, you know, I’m not just up here blowin’ smoke and none of these fans, um, because that’s not what I’m about, I’m about business.”
I can only wonder what Michael Jordan was thinking watching this, sitting at home with his six rings while LeBron, having won absolutely nothing up to that point in his career, was talking about winning eight rings like it was nothing, as if it was already a done deal.
I also love the fact that there were 1,343 people who voted “dislike” on that video as opposed to the 330 Miami fans that liked it.
. . . we gon’ challenge each other in practice and uh, the way we gon’ challenge each other in practice, once the game starts, I mean, it’s gonna be easy.
Wow. There are some unwritten rules in the league, first and foremost being that you never snitch on another player for leaving the club with a woman who’s not his wife, but I’m pretty sure there’s also somewhat of an unspoken rule among these professional athletes that you should never make an ass of yourself by disrespecting your fellow players and dismissing the talent of the entire league by saying things like it’s all going to be easy once the games start.
So after nine years in the league, LeBron finally came through on his third trip to the NBA Finals. Hooray for you, LeBron, but you still suck. That’s not just Cleveland saying that, that’s just about everyone outside of Miami saying that. You suck because you’re the least likable man in all the NBA and you suck because you’re still seven championships shy of your own prediction.
I was seven years old when my thirteen year-old neighbor Alex came over and said, “Hey Mikey, you gonna watch the Super Bowl?”
“The Super Bowl! Mikey, the Oakland Raiders are playing the Minnesota Vikings in the Super Bowl! The Raiders, Mikey! They’re the meanest, badest team in all of football, a bunch of convicts and murderers released straight from prison to the football field!”
It was the first football game I’d ever really watched, but that Sunday, I was riveted and the Raiders lived up to all of Alex’s hype. To my seven year-old eyes, these guys were like pro wrestlers, they were like super-villians from comic books, but these characters were for real, and they proved it on the field with one of the most dominating Super Bowl performances ever. I’d never seen anything like it.
The Raiders were like a bunch of marauders come to pillage and plunder your town, and in the years that would follow, I’d discover that the whole character of the team stemmed from the owner, Al Davis and the type of team he envisioned as a winner. He was the master of finding players that other teams had tossed on the scrapheap, he was the master of taking the outcasts and the misfits and giving them a new home with the Raiders, and the formula had been working for years when I discovered them and kept on working for so many years after.
I was hooked from that very first game – a Raider fan for life, and at the start, it was all gravy – the first seven years I was a fan, Al Davis engineered the team to winning three Super Bowls (1976, 1980, 1983.) I can remember Raiders games at the L.A. Coliseum in the 1980s and they would always post on the scoreboard the Raiders record as the best all-time win percentage across all professional sports, so it’s been hard to come down from that high and keep rooting for a team that has hit so many lean years since then, but while you could question some of Al Davis’ picks and acquisitions and his meddling with the coaches, you could never question the fact that with every loss, you knew your owner felt the loss even deeper than you and you knew you could never question Al Davis’ commitment to spend every dollar he had to make it a better team and you could never question his dedication and the fact that this was a man who lived, breathed, ate and slept Raider football every hour of the day.
One of Al Davis’ greatest legacies is the way his dedication to “just win, baby” manifested itself by not just talking the talk when it came to judging people by the content of their character, but by walking the walk – he was a trailblazer who hired the NFL’s first Latino head coach in Tom Flores, the NFL’s first African-American head coach in Art Shell and the NFL’s first female CEO in Amy Trask.
I don’t think there’s a single owner in all the NFL who has been so identified with his team. Most fans know their team’s owner, give them a second and they can probably recall the owners for a handful of other teams, but for even the casual fan, when you would say “Raiders”, Al Davis would pop instantly into mind.
If you were a Raider fan, Al Davis was your leader, through the ups and downs, the good picks and bad, he was your leader and he was as much the Raiders as the very Silver and Black worn by the players and fans.
Al Davis had no shortage of enemies. He waged legal wars with cities, he waged wars with the NFL itself, on a personal grudge he was capable of benching a player like Marcus Allen who still had a lot left in the tank, and if you were his coach and he didn’t like the results, he’d fire you and try to find grounds to cancel the remaining contract (as he did with Lane Kiffin, although Kiffin still had kind words for Mr. Davis today) so there were probably more than a few people who harbored some hate for the man, but for most fans, he was the like the bad guy in a very good movie – the football world was so much more fun with Al Davis in it because he was the guy all the other fans loved to hate.
It’s hard to imagine being a Raiders fan with anyone other than Al Davis as supreme commander. There were some lean years, but there were also those three Super Bowls, the beauty of seeing a bunch of misfits and castaways banded together to become World Champions, and Al Davis’ dedication to the Raiders and his Commitment to Excellence can never be questioned.
I know you’ll be up there in Raider Heaven, wearing your white jumpsuit and watching every single play of every single game. Here’s to hoping the Raiders will be making you proud, Mr. Davis.
*** UPDATE ***
What an unbelievably dramatic win for the Raiders today. Very few regular season wins can bring tears to my eyes. This one did.
Check out Hue Jackson’s emotional postgame speech.