Tag Archive: sports

After last night’s lost to Marquez I think we all know without a shadow of a doubt who the best is. Mayweather don’t even play with Marquez; unlike Pac Man, who has had trouble with this guy every single fight culminating in a knock out to make it unquestionable.Pac Man vs. Marquez

Teammate testimony key in USADA case against Lance Armstrong

One former teammate of Armstrong’s, George Hincapie, issued a statement confirming his own role in the doping conspiracy and saying he told investigators the truth ‘about everything I knew.’

3:07PM EST October 10. 2012 –

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency on Wednesday said it is releasing its evidence against Lance Armstrong – a dossier of more than 1,000 pages with sworn testimony from 26 people, including 15 cyclists with knowledge of Armstrong’s doping activities on the U.S. Postal Service Cycling team.

The evidence includes testimony from cyclist George Hincapie, a longtime close associate of Armstrong’s who on Wednesday admitted his role in the doping conspiracy and said he told investigators what he knew about others.

“I would have been much more comfortable talking only about myself, but understood that I was obligated to tell the truth about everything I knew. So that is what I did,” Hincapie’s statement said.

In a statement, USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said, “The evidence shows beyond any doubt that the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

USADA DOCUMENT: Read the entire case against Lance Armstrong

USADA said the evidence includes “direct documentary evidence including financial payments, emails, scientific data and laboratory test results that further prove the use, possession and distribution of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong and confirm the disappointing truth about the deceptive activities of the USPS Team, a team that received tens of millions of American taxpayer dollars in funding.”

Eleven Armstrong teammates testified against him and were suspended for their own doping: Hincapie, Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie.

“Together these different categories of eyewitness, documentary, first-hand, scientific, direct and circumstantial evidence reveal conclusive and undeniable proof that brings to the light of day for the first time this systemic, sustained and highly professionalized team-run doping conspiracy,” USADA said.

All of the material will be released this afternoon, USADA said.

Hincapie’s statement acknowledged that he had cheated.

“Early in my professional career, it became clear to me that, given the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs by cyclists at the top of the profession, it was not possible to compete at the highest level without them. I deeply regret that choice and sincerely apologize to my family, teammates and fans,” Hincapie wrote.

In a statement, Armstrong attorney Tim Herman attacked the credibility of USADA’s case.

“Tygart’s statement confirms the alleged ‘reasoned decision’ from USADA will be a one-sided hatchet job — a taxpayer-funded tabloid piece rehashing old, disproved, unreliable allegations based largely on axe-grinders, serial perjurers, coerced testimony, sweetheart deals and threat -induced stories,” Herman wrote.

USADA is releasing the report as required by its decision in August to give Armstrong a lifetime ban and strip him of his seven titles in the Tour de France. In June, the agency formally accused Armstrong and other team officials of using banned drugs and blood transfusions to gain an edge in competition over several years.

By rule, USADA was mandated by the World Anti-Doping Code to deliver a detailed report on its decision to the interested parties, which include the World Anti-Doping Agency and the athlete’s international federation.

In this case, the Armstrong’s international federation for cycling is the International Cycling Union (UCI). After receiving the report, UCI has 21 days to appeal the Armstrong sanctions. If an appeal is lodged, the matter will go to arbitration at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

UCI previously has been critical of USADA’s case against Armstrong, questioning whether he received his due process. UCI also questioned the fairness of making deals with other riders to testify against Armstrong in exchange for less severe punishment for doping.

USADA shot back at UCI and accused the organization of having a lackluster record on doping and a cozy relationship with Armstrong. In “The Secret Race,” the recent book by cyclist Tyler Hamilton, the author alleges Armstrong worked with UCI to have a positive drug test covered up at the Tour of Switzerland in 2001.

Armstrong could have fought USADA’s charges by going to arbitration in front of a three-person panel, with one panelist picked by both sides and the other selected by the other two. But he claimed the process as “rigged” against him and announced in August he would no longer fight the charges.

He maintained his innocence, saying he never failed a drug test. USADA noted that Armstrong’s team used sophisticated techniques to avoid testing positive and that there is no test for blood transfusions.

In a letter sent to USADA on Tuesday, Armstrong’s attorney, Herman, said that some of the witnesses against the cyclist are “serial perjurers.” _repost from  Brent Schrotenboer

Top Finishers of the Tour de France Tainted by Doping

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round 4

kaspakapaz sports pac man and marquez

While eight-division champ Manny Pacquiao waited for promoters to pump up his fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez on Monday, “Pac-Man” wrote “I need a knockout” on a piece of paper, according to trainer Freddie Roach (per ESPN.com), showing that his motivation is back.

Not leaving everything to writing on a piece of paper, Pacquiao spoke of his desire to beat Marquez in a clear-cut fashion on December 8 to ESPN.com:

I want to erase the doubt of the last three fights. There’s so many people still asking if I won the fights. I think to myself, ‘Something is wrong. I have to do it again.’ This time, I will train hard to put this fight up in the history of boxing. I want to make this fight short. I want to knock him out.

Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs) is not usually one to call someone out, but his determination to beat Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs) by KO shows he must have re-evaluated his less-than-stellar showings in the ring the past few fights.

Most boxing fans were disappointed when the fourth bout between Pacquiao and Marquez was announced, but the increased motivation being shown by Pacquiao should create some added excitement for the bout.

Pacquiao went on to tell ESPN.com, “I want to be the other Manny Pacquiao, like when I was 24, 25 years old. I want people who watch this fight to be satisfied. I don’t care about a belt. I don’t care about the money. I want the win.”

With Pacquiao’s career nearing the end, getting a glimpse of the “old” Pacquiao would be a nice change from the seemingly distracted and unmotivated fighter we have seen the past few times he has fought.
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GREEN MILE STAR– Michael Clarke Duncan, nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the 1999 film “The Green Mile,” died Monday morning at age 54, according to a representative for his family.
Duncan “suffered a myocardial infarction on July 13 and never fully recovered,” a written statement from Joy Fehily said.
Clarke died at a Los Angeles hospital where he had been since having the heart attack more than seven weeks ago.
According to TMZ, it was Duncan’s girlfriend Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, a reality star and former contestant on “The Apprentice,” who had acted quickly and provided lifesaving efforts when he had the heart attack.
2006: Michael Clark Duncan on health 2000: Michael Clarke Duncan talks fame
Most recently he was on the TV series, “The Finder,” on the Fox network.
His co-star Mercedes Masohn tweeted: “Today is a sad day. Michael Clark Duncan passed away this morning. Known for his moving performance in The Green Mile. RIP MCD. You’ll b missed.”
Read other tributes to the late actor
According to Entertainment Weekly, the TV series was canceled in May.
A towering and hulking figure, the 6-foot-5-inch Duncan also was known for his deep voice.
A Chicago native, Duncan went to college at Alcorn State University in Mississippi with plans to major in communications, but he dropped out and moved home.
In his 20s, he worked digging ditches for Peoples Gas during the day and as a bouncer at night. He told CNN in 1999 that his coworkers at the gas company called him “Hollywood” because he’d often talk about becoming a movie star.
“I’d be digging a ditch and they’d say, ‘Hey, man, Bruce Willis wants to talk to you about a movie.’ And they’d just crack up laughing,” he said while doing press for ‘The Green Mile.’
“Those coworkers had no way of knowing how that joke would turn on them.”
In 1990, he decided to measure up his nickname and he moved to Los Angeles. He worked as a bodyguard then got a part in a commercial as a drill sergeant.
More roles followed — often ones that depended more on his 315-pound frame than his acting ability. He was a guard in “Back in Business,” a bouncer in “A Night at the Roxbury,” a bouncer for 2 Live Crew in “The Players Club,” and a bouncer at a bar in the Warren Beatty film “Bulworth.”
In 1998, he landed his first significant movie part, playing Bear in the film “Armageddon,” where a crew of drillers from an oil rig save the Earth from an asteroid.
“Armageddon” was the beginning of his friendship with Bruce Willis. They appeared in four films together. And it was Willis who called ‘The Green Mile’ director Frank Darabont to put in a good word for Duncan.
In the Oscar-nominated film, Duncan played John Coffey, the huge black man wrongly convicted in a Louisiana town for the rapes and murders of two white girls. Coffey has supernatural powers, though; his hands can heal, even bring back the dead.
A microcosm of faith, Coffey is a messenger of hope and lost hope who develops a relationship with Tom Hanks’ character, a guard named Paul Edgecomb.
Film critic Roger Ebert wrote that Duncan’s performance “is both acting and being.” Ebert tweeted Monday that Duncan was “A striking screen presence.”
Duncan was nominated for an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor, which was won that year by Michael Caine for “The Cider House Rules.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who starred with Duncan in the movie “The Scorpion King” said on Twitter: “When something happens, we always say it happens for a reason … Michael Clarke Duncan 12/10/57 – 9/3/12 I’ll miss you my brother.”
According to the Internet Movie Database, Duncan had two completed projects that have yet to be released on a nationwide basis. He is slated to appear in “The Challenger,” a boxing movie written and directed by Kent Moran. He will also appear in the Robert Townsend film, “In the Hive,” about an alternative school for boys who have been kicked out of other schools.
One of his co-stars in that film was Vivica A. Fox.
“My heart is shocked and saddened!! RIP Micheal Clark Duncan. U were the most gentle giant and the most gracious of a man! U wont b 4gotten! ” she tweeted.

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Rondo: Key factor

Will the Celtics hop on Rajon Rondo’s back again this season?

For the final installment of this year’s Summer Forecast series, we wanted to close with a focus on the key element of the Celtics’ 2012-13 season, the one topic that will be in the spotlight more than any other, and the one that would ultimately dictate the success of this year’s team.


We’re breaking up the summer doldrums by trying to predict exactly how the 2012-13 season will play out for the Boston Celtics.

We had to close with Rajon Rondo.

During our 15-part series, we’ve touched on a variety of key topics, including who will emerge as the team’s starting shooting guard, whether a rookie like Jared Sullinger is ready to make an immediate impact, and if this is the year that Boston finally gets a much-needed boost from its bench.

Along the way we also debated who would emerge as the team MVP and it was a landslide victory for Rondo. It’s not hard to see why: The 26-year-old point guard is vital to the success of the team and will be the focal point on a star-studded roster.

It also seemed appropriate to end with Rondo given the way the Celtics offseason played out. Sure, the team put its core back together and added some supplementary pieces, but the biggest story line was the departure of Ray Allen — officially ending the Big Three era. In the aftermath, Celtics coach Doc Rivers came out and again hammered home the notion that this Rondo’s team.

Our panel, which did a spectacular job carrying this series all summer long, nails it again with this one. We’ll let them do most of the talking. But one theme jumped out and it’s something we’ll spotlight here before passing the microphone.

The most intriguing aspect about Rondo is his continued growth and development. We’ve seen him morph from a deep-on-a-bad-depth-chart rookie to the spunky young point guard that defenses ignored on a championship team to now the focal point of a title-caliber team littered with Hall of Famers. And we’re all left wondering the same thing: What’s next?

Each year, Rondo has taken a step in his progression. Each year, he wows us with something new in his arsenal or an improvement in another area of his game. He’s come far in six seasons, but there’s this excitement about what still lies ahead.

And it’s with that growth that the Celtics jump on Rondo’s back a little bit more.

Read on as our panel explores the importance of Rondo.

Jason Terry’s mouth is ready to back up the guarantee that his latest tattoo suggests.

Jason Terry becomes a dedicated Boston Celtic


Last week, we noted that the new Celtics guard modified his tattoo of the Larry O’Brien trophy to include Boston’s leprechaun logo. Terry, of course, got the original NBA championship trophy tattoo prior to the Dallas Mavericks’ run to the 2011 title.

Was the tattoo addition his way of guaranteeing a 2013 title for the Celtics? Duh. Of course it was.

WEEI.com reports that the always brash and confident Terry has officially guaranteed that the Celtics will be the 2012-13 NBA champions.

“There’s the lucky leprechaun,” he told WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton during an interview Thursday at Canton’s Reebok Headquarters that will air Sunday night on Sports Final, “and he’s spinning the Larry O’Brien trophy, which we will win this year.”

“If I looked at our team and what they accomplished last year, they’re one game away. They’re one game away from going back to the NBA Finals, and I think they win it. This year, put a little ‘Jet Fuel’ into the mix, and I think we have the team.”

He furthered that sentiment in speaking with the Boston Herald.

“Where I’m at right now in my career — I can’t speak for the other guys — but where I’m at in my career, it’s about winning championships, and I got the taste. They let me taste it. They should’ve never let me taste it. And I got one, but as you know, the Celtics, they’re going for No. 18. And so I’m a big basketball fanatic. I’m a historian. I love the game, a student of the game. So I know what it means to put that uniform on. So I think we’ve got a good opportunity this year to win again.”

Terry’s swagger, surely, is music to the ears of Celtics fans. Maxing out confidence and expectations is the only way things can be done for a franchise with Boston’s history and with a roster that’s fully committed to winning now rather than building for the future. It’s a smart way for Terry, who signed with Boston back in July, to make a good first impression.

His assessment isn’t totally off-base either. Thanks to an eletric few months from LeBron James, a time that has seen him win his first NBA title and his second Olympics gold medal while capturing regular season and Finals MVP awards, it’s easy to forget that his back was against the wall in TD Garden, the Heat down 3-2 in the Eastern Conference finals. Indeed, it took a legendary performance from James in Game 6 to push the series back to Miami, where the Heat were essentially held even by the Celtics for three quarters before they finally pulled away in stunning fashion the fourth.

Had Chris Bosh not returned from an abdominal injury just in the nick of time, had James not put on that legendary performance, had one or two Celtics entered that series in slightly better health… the what if’s are seemingly endless for a Boston team that has been one of the league’s most successful playoff teams over the last five years. They’re always there, lurking, even after being written off multiple times.

Next year’s Celtics will be a new-look group thanks to the departure of Ray Allen and the addition of Terry, Courtney Lee and rookies Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo. Jeff Green is also expected back after missing the entire 2011-12 following heart surgery. That, plus the evergreen trio of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo and the return of promising young guard Avery Bradley, puts the Celtics back into the mix once again.

On paper, Miami is still the clear favorite in the Eastern Conference. The Indiana Pacers (everybody important is back), Brooklyn Nets (a totally re-tooled roster), Chicago Bulls (assuming Derrick Rose returns sooner rather than later) and the Philadelphia 76ers (with the addition of Andrew Bynum) all loom as teams that could compete for homecourt advantage. But none of those teams, at least right now, would seem to give Miami as many problems as Boston.

Don’t be surprised if the Heat’s path to the Larry O’Brien trophy runs through Terry and the Celtics, just as he’s predicting, and don’t overlook how close the 2011 East finals really were. The Celtics might not be one of the three consensus title favorites — the Heat plus the two obvious Western Conference powers, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder — but they will need to be accounted for, once again.

Athletic Glutes!!!

Athletic Glutes

Something fun for Celtics fans to ponder while you watch the NBA Finals over the next couple of weeks: Does Thunder guard James Harden remind you of Paul Pierce?

The question stems from a rather interesting Doc Rivers media session in January, when the Thunder were in Boston to face the Celtics. Rivers absolutely gushed over Harden, and his comparison to the Celtics captain, who will undoubtedly have his jersey retired in the rafters of TD Garden, was high praise.

“He’s Paul Pierce, version two, except that he’s a better passer,” Rivers said of Harden. “He plays at a great NBA speed — he came into the league playing at that speed. I don’t think a coach has ever said he’s going too fast. He has a great tempo about him, an unbelievable feel.”

The “he’s Pierce but a better passer” part caught this reporter by surprise, but the pace comparison is absolutely true. Pierce plays the game at his pace, no matter the speed opponent. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, whoever: Pierce is going to have him back on his heels and off-balance after a series of herky-jerky, hesitation moves that appear too slow to the naked eye. You wonder how Pierce gets by anyone, never mind the league’s best, but then you watch him for years and you get it, how good he is at playing at his pace.

Harden has a similar style to Pierce. The game isn’t always pretty, but boy is it effective. (Harden’s five points in Game 1 were an aberration to his playoff averages of 16.8 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists). Harden’s strength is his efficiency. His true shooting percentage (an advanced metric that takes into account twos, threes, and free throws) of .660 was second in the NBA this season. His offensive efficiency rating was third. Pierce’s efficiency dipped somewhat this season, but he was fourth and eighth in the league in true shooting percentage respectively in the two previous seasons.

Where Harden is most known is as an elite defensive player. Pierce has flown under the radar on that side of the ball his entire career. You’ll recall that Pierce’s best stretch of defense came during Boston’s 2008 championship run, when he was effective on both James and Kobe Bryant. Watch Harden on defense this week, watch how he guards Wade and sometimes James, and compare him to Pierce. Watch Harden on offense and see if his game is comparable to Pierce’s. Is he a better passer? Does it really matter? Debates like this are what make basketball fun.

oh snaps not at the crib.....

Kevin Durant and the Thunder let one slip away

You may have noticed that Mark Lisanti’s weekly Mad Men Power Rankings never posted after Sunday’s season finale. Our readers felt confused, outraged and even a little abandoned. Did Lisanti get fired? Did he quit? Did a disappointing final episode infuriate him to the point that Lisanti said, “Matthew Weiner can go screw himself, I’m not handing anything in”? Did he have so much trouble calculating Don Draper’s fingerbang level after the last scene that his carefully groomed beard exploded?

As it turned out, Lisanti got married last weekend and left for his honeymoon, leaving behind a gaping Power Rankings hole on Grantland. Before you bitch about Lisanti taking the week off, know this: I wrote a column during my honeymoon (in 2003) and my wife is still bitter about it. She brings it up at least twice a week. We couldn’t let that happen to Lisanti. At the same time, we couldn’t let Grantland’s potentially historic streak of “52 straight weeks running a column with the word ‘power rankings’ in it” just slip away. We were four away from DiMaggio! That’s why I broke out a “2012 NBA Finals Power Rankings” two games into an increasingly fascinating series.

1. Kevin Durant

Fact: Two hours before Game 2, Durant finished warming up, then wandered into the stands and signed autographs for 20 minutes. I’m starting to wonder if he’s being CGI’ed by Pixar.

Fact: Durant scored 68 points combined in Games 1 and 2. Only Iverson (71), Jordan (69) and Wilt (had a 69 with … wait, what list is this again?) scored more in their first two Finals games.

Fact: Durant dropped 17 fourth-quarter points in Game 1 and 16 in Game 2. According to Elias, he’s the first player to score 14-plus in consecutive fourth quarters in the Finals since the ABA and NBA merged. When did the ABA and NBA merge? Exactly. It’s been a long time. Thirty-six years if you really wanted to know.

Fact: Any Durant junkie1 knows he’s just scratching the surface in this series. He played well in Game 1 — efficient, in control, got better when it mattered — but you wouldn’t say he went bonkers or anything. He stunk (for him) in Game 2, picking up a couple of dumb fouls and nearly fouling out twice down the stretch before getting saved by the little-known NBA rule, “We don’t foul out future Hall of Famers on borderline calls in big playoff games … unless they’re named ‘Paul Pierce.'” There’s a monster Durant game coming. Probably in Game 4, maybe even in Game 3. Just know that it’s coming. Unfortunately …

2. Tony Brothers

You may have noticed that Durant got fouled by LeBron James on the biggest play of Game 2 — a little baseline drive/jumper in the last 10 seconds that LeBron foiled by grabbing Durant’s left arm — only Brothers wasn’t close enough to make the call. Oh wait, he was five feet away and looking right at it? My bad. You know what happened next — Durant missed the bunny, Miami got the rebound after clobbering Russell Westbrook in the head (the refs missed that, too), then LeBron iced the game with two freebies. Even though Miami deserved its Game 2 victory, I detested that no-call for a variety of reasons, including …

• We were robbed of Durant making two pressure free throws to tie the game (a game that Oklahoma City had no business being in, by the way).

• We were robbed of Miami’s final game-winning play, which undoubtedly would have been LeBron settling for an off-balance 25-footer over driving to the basket, followed by Twitter venomously exploding for about six minutes.

• We were robbed of the most precious of commodities: an NBA Finals overtime.

• That no-call just about guaranteed a seven-game series, which means Game 7 will happen on Tuesday, June 26 … just two days before the 2012 NBA draft. Two days???? That’s not nearly enough time for me to prepare enough sarcastic Andre Drummond material, watch YouTube clips, break down Chad Ford’s Mock Draft 19.0 or talk myself into the Celtics taking a flier at No. 21 or No. 22 on The Guy Who’s Afraid To Fly! THIS IS BULLSHIT! How could this happen? Why didn’t the NBA push the draft to Sunday night? They didn’t see this coming? The NFL spends six weeks hyping its draft — the NBA couldn’t carve out four days?

(Fine, fine … the previous paragraph wasn’t totally honest. I’ve already talked myself into The Guy Who’s Afraid To Fly. He’s the rich man’s Boris Diaw! I’m all in! We could just play him 55 games a year — all home games and any East Coast game that he can get to by train. In the playoffs, we’ll just roofie him before every road trip. This will be fine. Give me The Guy Who’s Afraid To Fly!)

3. Shane Battier

His splits for his first Miami season along with Pat Riley’s internal dialogue …

Pre All-Star Game (34 games): 22.3 MPG, 4.5 PPG, 38.9% FG, 36% 3FG

(Riley: “Well, a lot of guys start out slow on new teams. We still signed the right guy.”)

Post All-Star Game (32 games): 23.9 MPG, 5.1 PPG, 38.5% FG, 32% 3FG

(Riley: “Shit, did anyone scout Battier before we signed him? Were we looking at his 2007 game tapes?”)

Round 1 vs. Knicks (5 games): 27.6 MPG, 6.0 PPG, 34.6% FG, 32% 3FG

(Riley: “How healthy is James Jones? Can he play 30 minutes a night?”)

Round 2 vs. Pacers (6 games): 29.3 MPG, 3.8 PPG, 21.2% FG, 27% 3FG

(Riley: “Well, at least we’re saving money on the fork that Battier and Mike Miller are passing back and forth to stick in their backs during games.”)

Round 3 vs. Celtics (7 games): 38.0 MPG, 7.1 PPG, 36% FG, 35% 3FG

(Riley: “That guy is kinda sorta starting to vaguely look like Shane Battier!”)

Round 4 vs OKC (2 games): 42.0 MPG, 17.0 PPG, 71% FG, 69% 3FG

(Riley: “If you remember, I was the one who wanted Shane Battier! I knew he’d come around!”)

Anyway, I don’t see Battier making 70 percent of his 3s for the entire Finals. That’s my expert opinion. (I’m glad I’m here.) But I don’t think those first two games were a total fluke, either — there’s a really good chance that Battier needs extended minutes to immerse himself into the nuances of a game. The longer he’s out there, the more comfortable he feels draining open 3s, taking annoying charges, doling out sneaky screens, shielding a shooter’s eyes, tripping them as they’re coming down from a jumper and everything else that makes Battier one of the ultimate “You love him if he’s playing on your team and hate him if he’s playing for someone else” role players. If you wagered on Battier at 15,000,000-to-1 to win the 2012 Finals MVP, you have to feel fantastic right now.

4. LeBron James

The averages for LeBron’s last 10 playoff games (dating back to Game 6’s clincher against Indiana): 45.4 minutes, 32.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.6 steals, 51.3 percent shooting, 3.1 turnovers. Oh, and he submitted one of the single greatest modern playoff performances ever (Game 6, Boston, while facing just about as much pressure as any basketball player has ever faced in a single game, no less); came through down the stretch of the decisive Game 7; and in last night’s semi-must-win-game, he notched typical LeBron numbers (32-8-5), outplayed Durant and got him into foul trouble, made that dagger banker with 85 seconds to play (ridiculous angle, by the way), settled for a game-clinching 3 with 14 seconds left (and missed it — no surprise since he’s missed 40 of 53 3s dating back to the Indiana series), got away with a sneaky-smart foul on Durant on the game’s biggest play, then drained both free throws with the crowd screaming so loudly that (a) one of my contact lenses almost fell out, (b) I couldn’t hear my friend Chen even though he was two feet away from me and (c) Jimmy Goldstein actually moved.

Will LeBron get credit for these things today? I spent the morning writing this column and didn’t have time to watch the talking head shows or surf the Internet, so I don’t know … although I’m sure there’s at least one visible “LeBron almost blew Game 2 with his heroball 3-point miss!” post lurking out there. I can only tell you this: LBJ was the best player on the floor last night. After watching three of his last four games in person, I can safely report the following things:

• You’re only allowed to compare him to Durant if the debate is “Who’s a better offensive player?” If you’re comparing the entirety of their games, it’s no contest.

• He’ll never be perfect for us, but nobody is, right? We’re in the era of Picking Nits. You know what LeBron’s smartest career move is right now? Win the 2012 title and immediately retire from basketball to play football for the Browns. Oh, you can’t stop picking me apart? You’re going to blow everything I do out of proportion? You’re not going to appreciate me at all? Watch this … I’m going away. [Extending middle fingers.]MJ showed how it’s done. He took his ball and went home. If LeBron followed suit and added a “Good luck in the Olympics without me,” we’d be more pissed off than OKC fans were at the referees last night. Eventually, we’d miss him and want him back. And yes, LeBron would never do this. I know. But you have to admit … it would be pretty savvy. Especially the Browns part.

• I wrote this in our Shootaround Finals preview and I’ll write it again: If the greatest player of his generation loses his first three Finals, it’s a historical fluke. Not saying it can’t happen … just saying, again, it would be a historical fluke. Everyone who poured dirt on Miami after Game 1 and tried to figure out how Oklahoma City could keep Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka AND Harden for their new dynasty needs to gulp a big sip of Settledown juice. That reminds me …

5. Dwyane Wade

After about the 27th straight hour of the media blaming Dwyane Wade for Tuesday’s Miami loss, wondering if he was finished and goading him into those There’s no question I’m not the same guy I was when I was 24 answers, it became pretty clear that Wade would play significantly better in Game 2.2 If you were making a Pride Power Rankings of NBA players, Wade and Kobe would be 1-2 in some order, then there would be a massive dropoff to no. 3 (maybe Chris Paul?), and then you’d keep going for about 400 more players until you got to Vince Carter. Alpha dogs are wired a certain way — they think they’re the best in any situation, whether it’s a basketball game, a poker table, a nightclub, or even an NBA labor meeting. In the past 20 years, only four players could complain about a blown call, walk over to the offending official, debate the blown call with one of those sarcastic “you know you messed up, right?” looks on their faces, then walk by the official and give him a totally condescending slap on his behind. Those four players: see full story

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