The basketball superstar says the Democrat will help improve the lot of poorer children ‘no matter what zip code they live in’
- Cavaliers hold serve at home with 115-101 win over Warriors
- LeBron James’ 41 points spirit Cleveland in wire-to-wire victory
- Golden State to host decisive Game 7 on Sunday at Oracle Arena
Only a few days ago these NBA finals were an indictment of LeBron James’s failings as a superstar. His Cleveland Cavaliers were on the verge of losing the championship a second straight year to a Golden State Warriors unit built on team play inspired by their best player, Steph Curry.
By late Thursday night, James had perhaps reestablished himself as the league’s best player. He scored 41 points, and had eight rebounds and 11 assists as he carried Cleveland to a 115-101 Game 6 victory. The finals have now been pushed to a Game 7 that few saw coming. The Warriors are now on the verge of going from an almost certain second straight title to an epic collapse.
Never was their frustration more evident than in Curry, whose 30 points were overshadowed by several misguided attempts to steal balls from Cleveland players, eventually causing him to foul out late in the fourth quarter. When he uncharacteristically blew up over the last call he was ejected by referee Jason Phillips. Curry’s wife, Ayesha claimed on Twitter the game had been fixed, before later apologizing and taking back her comments.
Instead of dying quietly, James and the Cavs can now create history by becoming the first team to come back from down 3-1 in the finals to win a title, the first Cavaliers team to get a championship and the first Cleveland sports team to win a title in 52 years. A Cavs Game 7 win would be a severe blow to the Warriors, who set a NBA record with 73 regular-season wins in 2015-16.
Hearing 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” made music-listeners feel more powerful.
Pump-up songs make us feel capable and powerful. Athletes know that intuitively — batters swagger out to raucous walk-up songs, stars like Serena Williams and Lebron James warm up with headphones on (except when, in James’s case, the headphones come off to blast Wu-Tang Clan in the locker room).
But what is it about a good pump-up song that makes us feel invincible? According to a new study, the answer is in the bass.
A research team at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business began with what we know about music and power. Past studies had shown, for example, that heavy metal and hip-hop music are linked to dominance and aggression, which are associated with feeling powerful.
So the team, led by Adam Galinsky and his student Dennis Hsu, did a series of tests to isolate exactly what it is about certain music that makes us feel powerful. First, they asked people to listen to dozens of songs and answer questions about how powerful they felt while they listened.
At halftime of game two of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals in May, ESPN analyst Bill Simmons voiced a strange theory about why LeBron James, the best player in the NBA, had played poorly in the first half. LeBron’s Heat were down 1-0 in the series to the Pacers, and even though Miami led at halftime, LeBron had struggled, looking lifeless and distracted. Simmons, who, like the rest of us, had been watching the NBA draft lottery before the game (in which LeBron’s former team, Cleveland, had secured the No. 1 pick), had a guess as to why.
“LeBron came out kind of strange,” Simmons said. “I was almost wondering, Did someone tell him Cleveland won the lottery? Was he thinking about that?”
Now, it is probably worth pointing out that this makes no sense. LeBron James was going for his third consecutive NBA title, his team was behind in a critical series, and he had to carry aging, injured teammates on his back. Of all the things on his mind at that moment, a Ping-Pong ball coming up Cleveland was rather far behind I am thirsty from all this running around and jumping (if anyone had even told him in the first place). The notion that something so profoundly beside the point would somehow affect James’s game—the thing he is better at than anything else in the world—was absurd. If LeBron James really were distracted by such silliness, he would spend most of his time on the court tripping over his own feet.
And yet: I got what Simmons was saying. Because I had been thinking the same thing. And that’s because I wasn’t thinking like a professional athlete; I was thinking like a fan. I can’t comprehend what it’s like to play in the NBA Finals, or to have to memorize thousands of inbounds plays, or to find the open man on the fast break, or to dunk. (Or even to dribble without falling.) Those things are beyond my imagination. What I can grasp is what happens off the court. Draft lotteries. Salary-cap maneuvering. Free-agent negotiations. Roster construction. And not only grasp: Like just about every other sports fan in America, I’ve been doing all of those things in fantasy sports for two decades. Also like just about every other sports fan in America, I’ve started to think I’m pretty good at it. We all have. Which has made the action on the court, or the field, feel somehow like the subplot.
This phenomenon only got more pronounced in the NBA Finals, when people seemed to stop paying attention to the games entirely. LeBron James was, with an undermanned army of teammates, fighting for a championship against a historically entertaining San Antonio Spurs team, but no one wanted to talk about that. They wanted to talk about the offseason. They wanted to talk about where LeBron was going to go next. And with good reason: The weeks after the Finals—as LeBron, along with Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, decided where he would be taking his talents—were more entertaining than the Finals themselves. We were tracking flights online, peeking in LeBron’s windows, interviewing random people in golf carts outside LeBron’s house to see if they knew anything. We broke down cap sheets, studied up on the mid-level extension, wondered which team would have to trade whom to free up space for LeBron.
Ohio politicians reacted with joy on Friday to LeBron James’s decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers four years after he spurned the city for Miami.Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) said this is another win for Cleveland after the Republican National Committee announced this week the city would host the 2016 Republican National Convention.
Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), who represents parts of Cleveland and Akron, said she was thrilled LeBron is returning home. He’s a native of Akron.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said it was a “big week” for Cleveland.
Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) said this was “more good news for Cleveland.”
James made the highly-anticipated announcement online for Sports Illustrated.
“I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home,” he said, after explaining he didn’t realize when he left Ohio four years ago that Northeast Ohio is “bigger than basketball.” He has been playing for the Miami Heat.The James decision wasn’t received as well in Florida, where the Miami Heat’s playoff expectations are likely to be diminished after four straight NBA finals. Still, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wished LeBron well.
Rubio predicted earlier this week that LeBron wouldn’t move back to Ohio.
Cleveland was crushed when James left the city. The Cavaliers immediately became one of the worst teams in the league, and fans burned James jerseys in the street. That ill will seemed to be forgotten, however, by Ohio politicians on Friday.Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) welcomed LeBron home and so did Rep. Steve Stivers (R).
LeBron James made big news Tuesday morning when his agent confirmed reports that the superstar planned to opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat, making James the NBA’s biggest name on the summer free agent market.
James was able to cancel the deal because the six-year contract he signed with Miami contained what essentially amounts to a player option on each of its final two years. It will no doubt draw reminders of The Decision, the televised spectacle during which James chose to join Miami four years ago, but in the end, he probably had little choice but to choose this route, especially if he wants to stay in Miami. There are two major reasons for this, the first being that Miami’s roster is in bad need of improvement. The second, which helps explains why James’ decision was necessary to address the first, is the NBA’s salary structure and the nature of the NBA’s “competitive balance” measures, which are geared less toward fostering competitive balance and more toward ensuring financial stability for owners at the expense of players, particularly stars like James.
The NBA’s existing salary structure has two caps that are relevant to the James situation: there is a “soft” salary cap for each team, and spending over it requires a punitive luxury tax, and there is a maximum limit on individual player salaries. James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh all took less than their allowed maximum to join forces in South Beach four years ago, but after San Antonio dismantled the Heat in this year’s NBA Finals, it is clear the team needs to re-tool its aging, shallow bench to become a true contender again, especially in the long-term. To do that and stay under the cap, the Heat need James, Wade, and maybe even Bosh to agree to again take less money than they’re allowed under the max, and they have to opt out to do that.
The justification for the structures that create these dilemmas for players like James is competitive balance. But Miami’s Big Three is instead a lesson in how they work in a way other than is supposedly intended. A salary cap combined with maximum salary theoretically prevents wealthy teams from buying up all the stars, from assembling a team of expensive players that will be anti-competitive. This is generally taken as gospel when it comes to James being underpaid and the NBA’s economic structure. But it isn’t necessarily true, because as Miami’s Big Three (and other versions before it) show, while the max salary reduces the influence of money on individual players, it does so to such an extent that they’re willing to take less in order to join together on a better team. Instead of promoting movement that would foster balance, the maximum salary limit often acts to inhibit it.
The problem here is that this view of “competitive balance” assumes that money is the only luring factor for superstar players like James. But when the league’s salary structures already ensure that players like James, Wade, and Bosh will be so vastly underpaid relative to their actual value, it reduces their incentive to chase money alone. They’re always going to be underpaid, so they might as well win or make money elsewhere, and that increases the incentive to rely on other factors, whether its their endorsement potential in any given market, how much they like an actual city, or, in the case of the Big Three, the chance to play with other superstars. This is true even if LeBron chooses to leave Miami. He won’t do so because another team can offer him substantially more money, but because he finds another team more attractive in terms of who he can play with and how viable his title chances there are. The balance of the league won’t really have improved as much as it will have shifted from Miami to some other city. In other words, these balance structures are often acting anti-competitive: absent a max salary limit or a salary cap, there’s almost no way a single team could afford James, Wade, Bosh, and, if recent speculation is true, maybe even Carmelo Anthony too.
He was branded as “crazy” and became the subject of a vicious rumor. Is the stigma against mental illness keeping him out of the league?
After his first five seasons in the NBA, Delonte West was the kind of player who basketball obsessives knew and loved, a fan favorite who hadn’t drawn much mainstream attention. That changed on Sept. 17, 2009. Around 10 p.m., not far from his home in Prince George’s County, Maryland, he was pulled over on his three-wheeled Can-Am Spyder motorcycle for making an unsafe lane change. West explained to the officer that he was carrying weapons: a 9 mm Beretta, a Ruger .357 magnum, a Remington 870 shotgun, shotgun shells, and a bowie knife. The police later reported that the shotgun was in a guitar case.
By the next morning, West had ceased to be an ordinary NBA player. The website Rotoworld cited Terminator and Raising Arizona. Everyone else brought up El Mariachi, the Robert Rodriguez film that features a motorbike, a guitar case, and a whole lot of weapons. “This is not a simple case of terrible behavior. West is clearly a disturbed person,” declared the Examiner, citing West’s diagnosis the year before with what had been described in the press as a mood disorder. That diagnosis had been fairly minor news, and West had gone on to have his best NBA season to date. But now the clinical label offered, or seemed to offer, an explanation for an outlandish story. At the Cleveland Cavaliers’ media day, West said that people would eventually understand that the highway arrest was “not as big as some are making it.” But he was advised by his lawyer not to talk about what happened until after the trial, which was postponed until the following July. For the rest of the season, West did not speak to the media at all.
That year was a difficult one for West. Two months before the arrest, he’d married his college sweetheart. A month after the motorcycle incident, they were divorced. He also lost his starting spot on the Cavaliers. But despite these ups and downs, West played well, and the Cavs went into the playoffs with the NBA’s best record. Then Cleveland’s (and the world’s) best player, LeBron James, played less than his best against Boston, and the Cavs lost the Eastern Conference semifinals in six games. Not quite two months later, James went on television and said he was taking his talents to South Beach.
Why did the Cavaliers falter in LeBron’s final playoff run with the team? The day after Cleveland bombed out of the postseason, an email began to circulate among sports fans. “I was just told from my brother that a very reliable source informed my uncle that Delonte has been banging [LeBron’s mother] Gloria James for some time now,” reads one version of the email. “Somehow I guess LeBron found out before game four and it has destroyed our chemistry and divided our team.” Other iterations of the gossip sourced the rumor to “someone who works at a law firm that deals with sports litigation,” “David Stern’s office,” “my dad and his friends in Cleveland,” and the general contractor for the Cavaliers’ arena.