Monthly Archives: July 2014

Simmons Nails It

Bill Simmons has written a great piece about Carmelo which is well worth your time. In it, Simmons demonstrates how good Carmelo is, but also correctly lays part of the blame for the Knicks situation on him. It was Carmelo who forced his way out of Denver and forced the Knicks to give up way too many pieces in that trade. If he had waited to be a free agent, the Knicks could have signed him and kept their players and their draft picks.

But Carmelo didn’t want to wait because the NBA lockout was looming and waiting would have cost him money. So he forced the trade, got the big contract, but left the Knicks diminished in the process. That is why Knicks fans were so ambivalent to his free agency. Carmelo made the mistake of talking about how he had been waiting for this opportunity to be a free agent two-plus years after forgoing that opportunity. Knicks fans knew he was going to take the biggest paycheck, it was just a matter of whether or not it would be a sign and trade or a return to the Knicks.

I made the case the other day that if you separated out the execution of it form the actual result, “The Decision” was a great move. It was a superstar player taking less money so he could surround himself with the talent needed to win a championship. LeBron won two and played in two more, that’s great. That’s what Knicks fans wanted to see from Carmelo. We wanted to see him take less and help the team get better. Instead he took $122-million of a possible $129-million. That’s why we aren’t cheering his return.

Final World Cup Ratings

Neil Best of Newsday reports that ABC drew 17.3 million viewers for yesterday’s World Cup final. Univision drew another 9.2 million. Just taking the ABC viewers brings the World Cup final very close to the viewers for Game 5 of the NBA Finals (18 million)  and Game 6 of last year’s World Series (19.2). Throw in the Univision viewers and the World Cup is much higher than either of those.

Those aren’t football ratings, but they are big numbers. The 2018 World Cup probably won’t come close to those numbers because it will be contested seven time zones ahead of us, but it will be very interesting to see where soccer stands in four years.

Congrats Cleveland

Good for you Cleveland. I don’t think there is another city in the U.S. that deserves a good sports thing to happen to them more than Cleveland. While Cubs fans have often been held up as the paragon of patient suffering, it is worth remembering that most of them are also Bulls, Blackhawks and Bears fans. They have had championships to soothe them beyond baseball.

Contrast that with the Cleveland fan. 1964 was the last time they won a title. Surprisingly, that is only the third-longest streak in North America behind Ottawa and San Diego, but Ottawa has only one team and San Diego two. Cleveland has three and they have been fairly miserable most of the time. Sports fans everywhere should feel happy for them today.

And good for LeBron. “The Decision” was a boneheaded move and it obscured what an admirable decision it was otherwise. Here was an athlete who could have demanded a huge deal taking much less because he wanted to win a championship. (If only Carmelo had been paying attention) And, he delivered the goods with two titles and four-straight appearances in the Finals. Now he rectifies that and short of the Knicks playing the Cavs, I will be rooting for him and for Cleveland. I hope he delivers a title to his hometown fans.

 

Carmelo+LeBron=??

The latest twist in NBA free agency is that Carmelo is trying to get LeBron to come join him in New York. Let’s avoid debating the probability of this happening for a minute and focus on the basketball implications of it.

Obviously, any team that gets LeBron and Cermelo is going to be very dangerous. But even this Knicks fan, desperate for a reason to believe, can’t find a way to make this combination into a title contender. In order to get both players, the Knicks would have to get rid of Amar’e and Bargnani. That would leave New York with a starting five of Calderon, Hardaway, James, Anthony and Dalembert. Is there anyone who thinks that five wins the Eastern Conference let alone a NBA title? I don’t think so and that’s why I find these latest rumors insane. To me there are two very clear choices for LeBron. He can go back to Miami or he can go back to Cleveland.

Either one of those moves preserves his legacy. Yes “The Decision” was a poorly executed maneuver, but you cannot argue with the results. Four-straight appearances in the Finals and two titles. If he returns to Miami, how can any rational fan argue with that? And returning to Cleveland would be a nice homecoming. Who could argue with that?

Any other scenario is going to bring out the haters again. If LeBron goes out and wins more titles, they will be quieted, but if not…. So what is the upside for him in New York? He gets bashed for leaving Miami. He gets bashed for not going home to Cleveland and he will get get bashed for not winning a title in New York. That’s lose-lose-lose and that’s why he isn’t coming here.

Interesting

Nielsen has come out with their viewership figures for yesterday’s World Cup game and the figures are interesting to say the least. 21.6 million people watched the game. Compare that to the World Series, which averaged 14.9-million viewers and saw 19.2-million viewing the final game. Or the NBA Finals, which averaged 15.5-million viewers (yup, more than baseball) and 18-million watching the final game.

Now, Ann Coulter would point out that 16.5-million watched the game on ESPN while the rest watched it on a “Spanish” channel. But, 16.5-million is still greater than the average viewership for the NBA Finals or World Series. It’s also in range of the Sunday Night Football average viewership.

Will This Do It?

Twenty years ago the U.S. played an elimination game in the World Cup against Brazil in Palo Alto, CA. With a wild home crowd supporting them on the 4th of July no less, the U.S. came close, but lost to the eventual champions 1-0. Soccer looked primed for a huge jump in this country, but it didn’t happen.

Twelve years ago the U.S. won an elimination game in the World Cup over Mexico and then lost in the quarterfinals to eventual runner up, Germany, 1-0. Soccer looked primed for a big jump in this country, but it didn’t happen.

Today the U.S. lost an elimination game to Belgium 2-1 in overtime. The final twenty minutes were thrilling, but we know how the previous stories ended. Still,  i sensed something different today. People were talking about this game before and after it. My wife reported the bars being jammed on her way home with fans rooting the U.S. on (I was in front of my TV by then). We have a diehard fan club for our national team and a pretty cool chant. The President is trying to get into it (though he might need to get the chant down next time) But can this happen? Can soccer launch in this country for real this time? Time will tell, and we have seen false starts before, but I think it will. I hope it will.