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Hall of Famers disagree on LeBron; Barkley rips Heat again; Dolphins, Canes, Marlins chatter

SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

It is the ultimate water cooler discussion: Where does LeBron James rank among the all-time greats? After winning his second Finals and second Finals MVP trophy Thursday, James reiterated: “I want to be, if not the greatest, one of the greatest, to ever play.”

During the playoffs, we asked eight Hall of Famers and a certain future one (Shaquille O’Neal) where they would place LeBron all time, and responses varied widely.

Shaq said he isn’t sure LeBron even belongs in the top 10, and Charles Barkley said he will never place him in the top five.

Contrast that with Scottie Pippen -- Michael Jordan’s running mate --- who called James “the most complete player” ever and asserted he’s “going to be the best player to ever play.”

In fact, Alonzo Mourning, at the opening of a Miami Microsoft store last month, said: “I’m going to tell you what Scottie said. Scottie said that LeBron would kick M.J.’s [butt]. And I said, ‘Scottie, You’re right.’”

Magic Johnson, walking out of AmericanAirlines Arena Friday morning, said: “LeBron is top 10 and moving up fast, and he can surpass Michael as the greatest who ever played. He’s the best defender, smartest player in the game. And he [plays for] the greatest organization in the world.”

Then there’s Isiah Thomas, who places James in the top three with Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, “who we don’t give the credit he deserves. He dominated the NBA for two decades.”

Hall of Famers Jack Ramsay, Marv Albert and Bob McAdoo said James belongs in the top five.

“I don’t think LeBron is Jordan, but he’s in the ballpark,” Ramsay said. “Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West have to be in there. The last two seasons, LeBron finally got it together.”

And McAdoo, the Heat assistant coach, says: “For this era, LeBron is the best.”

So why does Shaq say it’s “debatable” if LeBron should even crack the top 10? “There’s a lot of great players,” he said. “I don’t put myself in the top 10. He’s a great player. However, the more championships he gets, the more you slide him up.”

Barkley’s take? “He’s top 10, no question. But I don’t think you can put anybody top five on my list: Kareem, Wilt, Russell, Jordan and Robertson. He’s never going to be Jordan. He’s not a better shooter. Nobody is a better defender than Michael.”

Jordan has the higher career field goal percentage (49.7 to 49.0), but James’ “effective field goal percentage” – factoring in three-pointers – was 60.4 this season, far better than Jordan’s best (54.7).

### A couple of eye-opening LeBron factoids: According to ESPN, over their first 10 seasons, James led his team in points, rebounds and assists in the same game 96 times; Jordan did it 43.

And ESPN announcer and Hall of Fame coach Hubie Brown mentioned to us that James has averaged at least 26 points, six rebounds and six assists nine times, whereas Robertson “did it eight. Jordan and Larry Bird did it three times.

“If he keeps doing this, he is going to pass Michael and Russell and Kareem,” Brown said. “The potential is there [to be the best ever] but he has to stay injury free.”

### Ray Allen marveled Friday how James “wanted to learn everything that I know” this season. He said they competed “toe to toe a lot this year” --- everything from three-point shooting after practice, to card games, to jogging. (After a practice this past season, James and Allen ran back from the arena to the team hotel in Washington D.C.)

### The last word from former Heat guard/NBA TV analyst Steve Smith: “I don’t think we’ve seen the best of LeBron because of the competition. He isn’t being challenged enough.”

HEAT CHATTER

### Even a championship didn’t silence Barkley’s Heat bashing. He told Dan Patrick on Friday that Indiana and San Antonio have better teams, but the Heat has the best player. “That team is very flawed,” Barkley said. “They’re old and slow. They’ve got to break that team up.

“Unless they do something, LeBron is not going to stay there. He’s smart enough to know if he has to play like he plays now, it’s going to shorten LeBron’s career. You think Karl Malone and I would be licking our chops playing the little Miami Heat?”

But Pat Riley insisted: “We’ve got a young team.” And James couldn't have sounded any happier to be here than he did Thursday night.

### Dwyane Wade told The Associated Press on Saturday that a lot of fluid was drained from his left knee the day before Game 7 of the Finals, and that he needed nearly eight hours of treatment on that knee on the day of Game 7. The left knee was injured in a collision with Manu Ginobili in Game 6.

Meanwhile, Wade told AP he received platelet-rich plasma therapy late in the regular season to deal with the three bone bruises in his right knee -- the injury that hampered him through much of the playoffs, but improved considerably in the Finals.

### Classy move by Riley after Game 7: When asked about putting together this team, he said “I didn’t,” then credited five of his basketball people – “they smack me in the face all the time when I start to do something stupid” – and called over senior vice president Andy Elisburg: “This man here is the one that keeps me together," Riley said. "I mean it. I get to sit there and do nothing. He’s on his computer all the time.”

### Not only did Johnson call Dwyane Wade “the most unselfish superstar I’ve ever seen in my life; no superstar would do what Dwyane did,” but Thomas mentioned this to me: “Nobody complained about their role on this team, and I give all of that credit – all of it – to Wade. What he has done is spectacular. I marvel at his intellect.”

### Random postscripts from Game 7: Great tweet from Nuggets forward Andre Iguodola: “If you still hate LeBron, you really need a life coach. And I’ll sponsor you.”… Rapper Drake argued with a security guard who wouldn’t allow him in the Heat locker-room after Game 7. “I am media!” he protested…

Most prominent active athlete lingering outside the Heat locker-room for awhile? Carolina quarterback Cam Newton…… Spurs guard Danny Green was spotted at the Heat’s postgame party at Club Story on South Beach. He later tweeted: "Got give Miami credit but don't think for one sec I was out celebrating with them. Just happened to be at the same place, wrong time."...

The Heat spent $100,000 in alcohol at the party -- including 110 bottles of Dom Perignon and more - but Club Story picked up the tab… A professional poker player paid a Heat-record $40,000 for a courtside seat for Game 7.

### Please see the last post for a look at difficult decisions facing the Heat this off-season.

CHATTER

### Ryan Tannehill said “what impresses me most” about Lamar Miller – the Dolphins’ first-team tailback all offseason – is “he’s picking up pass protections a lot better. Now that he’s got that, he’s going to be a great player.” Former NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson, now with NFL Network, said Miller is faster and more explosive than Reggie Bush.

### Two notable recent walk-on additions at UM: 1) Three-star running back De’Andre Johnson, who was Stephen Morris’ teammate at Miami Pace High but was dismissed from the Iowa Hawkeyes last August (he averaged 4.4 yards on 18 carries) after two incidents, including – we kid not – being ticketed for “maintaining a disorderly house” and failing to pull over immediately for a motorcycle speeding violation; and 2) New York kicker Joshua Bacon, who said UM called and invited him to come compete with Matt Goudis after he mailed UM coaches a tape showing him nailing field goal after field goal. (It's now on YouTube.) “I’m automatic inside 55,” Bacon said.

### Please check out the last post for info about the four players who orally committed to UM on Saturday.

### Even beyond Marlins rookie pitcher Jose Fernandez’s golden arm, his work ethic bodes well: He said he gets to the ballpark between noon and 12:30 on days he’s not pitching – “I try to beat Juan Pierre here” – because “I want to learn, talk to other players. I ask [Marlins hitters]: If I’m 2-0 in the count, what pitch are you looking for? I come with a plan for each day. I want to be the best I can possibly be.” 

Fernandez (4-4, 3.05 ERA) has 81 strikeouts in 79 innings, and batters are hitting .203 against him. 

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

Comments

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taheati

The case for Bron:

http://bit.ly/170OcAh

300 games.

PER > 25 (15 = NBA average; 20 superior; 25 extraordinary)

WS/48 > .230 (100 = NBA average; .230 superior; .250 extraordinary)

DRtg < 102 (102 = superior; < 100 usually logged by bigs)

Only 3 players since 1988 met all 3 criteria: Jordan, Robinson, James.

Edge to LeBron: 1) Defensive rules in Jordan's era permitted a lot more contact, including handchecks and in Jordan's case -- (lots of) GRABBING; 2) Defensive rules in James' era permits zone -- but James does NOT zone; 3) Defensive rules in James' era prohibits 3-secs in the paint -- among other offensive-friendly rules deliberate contrived by Stern to 'speed' the game up -- which did NOT exist in Jordan's era, yet James DRtg over 300 games = Jordan's (102).

Yes, Jordan was a slightly better jumpshooter over his career. But who (paying close attention) could ever forget Jordan's signature *kickto ensure space/sepration from defenders on his fallaway? Bron doesn't kick. Bron also doesn't (routinely) grab on defense. James is a MUCH better passer.

Postseason-wise, Jordan (28.6) has the higher PER (James 27.3) due to higher Usg%/more touches. But Bron matches Jordan in postseason eFG% and has proved to be the superior defender (PostseasonDRtg: James 101, Jordan 104) DESPITE MUCH more stringent (minimum contact) defensive rules. It's not a cliche. DEFENSE wins championships. Jordan was a slightly superior jumpshooter, but James is more IMPACTFUL in every other facet of the game, including rebounds, assists and defense. Even that aside, one could -- and should -- compare prevailing competition. Who, exactly, were Jordan's/Chicago's rivals? Do they measure up against today's athletes + skillz? How does the LEAGUE compare in skills/competitiveness/parity then v. now? Nostalgia is a fugue. Sure, the Pistons were tough. And who can forget Hakeem, Clyde etc? But the game was different just like the rules. It's a perimeter game now. And as perimeter teams/stars go, Bron IS more versatile and skilled (inside/out) than Jordan ever was. For all of the above and more IMO, we ARE witnessing the... greatest ... EVER.

taheati

Errata.

"...among other offensive-friendly rules [deliberately] contrived by Stern to 'speed' the game up ..."

"But who (paying close attention) could ever forget Jordan's signature [*kick*/kickout] to ensure space/sepration from defenders on his fallaway?"

2-Star []_[] ... 4-5 STAR GATORS ...

Congrats Cane Fans... []_[] picked up 4 (2;average 3-Stars, 1; low 2-Star and and unranked scrub that FAU offered) commits that top programs like Florida, FSU, Alabama, LSU, etc, didn't even bother to offer...

Meanwhile, Chaminade Madonna consensus 4-5 STAR DEFENSIVE TACKLE Khairi Clark, orally committed to UF. Defensive tackle remains UM's biggest area of need.

.

[]_[] LOOOSE AGAIN ...

oh, []_[] did get to walkons, some scrub RB that rode pine at Iowa and was arrested because he couldn't keep his room clean and a Kicker who's a []_[]-T[]_[]be sensation that says he's "MONEY" from inside 55 yards. Oooohhhhhhh, s[]_[]ch Swagga h[]_[]h ? Maybe he'll be []_[]r next MVP.

Poo Poo Platter

we'll See On 9/7 loser

Keepin it real always

Two comments regarding Barkley.I actually AGREE with his first remark that the Heat is flawed.Of course they are.Why else would they have to play 14 games against the final 2 teams?Chicago gave them a difficult time as well.Miami is not built as a rugged team though they can scrap with anyone.They WERE fortunate to get the Game 7 win thankfully though.However it is TOTALLY ludicrous and would have been almost impossible to have him and the Mailman beat the little Heat.The little Heat were very talented and actually posessed speed so don t why Barkley keeps thinking they were slow.Too funny.Finally I do feel (as do most people I d guess)that the Heat will still continue their 3 year search for a decent big man but with the salary concerns the Heat now face THAT still winds up (again) as being an uphill battle.Hard to get maximam players for minimal dollars.A few players will be gone.Howard,the 2nd year player who only plays defense,likely......Lewis,J Jones,Miller???Birdman may leave too.Haslem will likely stick for another couple years as depth.2 point guards will stay and of course the Big 3 will be here for many,many years and WILL NOT be broken up unless Bosh has a pitiful year next year and the one following that.

Nelson

Michael Jordan won three straight, quit for 2 yrs came , back won another 3 straight , let Lebron win 3 quit for 2 yrs and lets see if he can match that before we start talking if he's better than Michael , incredible that no one brings up this very important observation

Sad times

Posted by: 2-Star []_[] ... 4-5 STAR GATORS ... | 06/23/2013 at 06:29 AM

UM doesn't get good recruits?

You, personally are an internet nerd loser obsessed with trolling UM fans on sports blogs in the Miami Herald.

So, you know, could be worse.

Putney Swope

Once again Barry Jackson demonstrates that there isn't another investigative sports reporter/journalist in this market and most every other that is close to being in his rarified orbit.

You can argue LeBron's status at this stage of his career, but cannot honestly and intelligently do so concerning Mr. Jackson.

If your goal is to be thoroughly educated on all local and pertinent national sports news then you've come to the right place.

rboud

Let's not forget that Jordan did not have to play against zone defenses in the NBA and you could isolate him on one side of the Court because other defenders had to stay with their men on the opposite side of the Court. The League was slanted to offense in his day. There's no question that LeBron is the most versatile player in the history of the NBA. You can decide if that makes him the best. He can do more things and play more positions on the Court than any player in history.

Nelson

Magic Johnson was a player who could also play 5 positions and I might add make the allstar team at all 5, magic was a better point guard than lebron when he fills in at the point , ran a better fastbreak called showtime , do u remember magic as rookie filled in for jabbar at center in the 1980 finals how u think he did ? let me again repeat a rookie 42 pts 15 rebounds 7 assist , oh forgot he had just won the ncaa championship also , believe I am not taking anything from lebron but lets not disrespect those before him when hand checking was aloud , when the bad boys, lakers, celtics were at war , these teams of today wouldn't have had a chance , hilbert from indiana gave the heat headaches ? for christ sake imagine going up against jabbar, laimbeer, ewing , olajuwon, shaq, in that era there were great centers what do you have now ? cant compare, before if you dared go thru the lane " beware yes beware" cause you were going to get clobbered no baby fouls or crying like little girls try going down the middle with karl malone ,dennis rodman , rick mahorn waiting for you , these days my grandmother could go thru the middle, you cant touch or look at anybody cause its a foul , different era , oh by the way jordan wouldve torched a zone if they tried that with him he always found a way , he was an assasin , satan in disguised , scary crap , i remember the way he assaulted the rim time after time llike he was possesed, never seen anything like that

Ed

Barkley? Talking again. His time passed. He was a great player but accomplished nothing with his team. So why is he talking about "flawed teams" and who is the greatest. Who the hell cares what this has-been says. He hates the Heat and the fact that the Heat are dominating the league. I hope Barkley stays away from Miami. Not even for vacations.

taheati

"Best ever" rankings and/or discussions almost always devolve to the anecdotal, personal, subjective musings of the beholder.

Ibid. above. Ibid. media & ex-players.

Nothing wrong with that when fun, not resolution, is the goal.

But a little bit of clarity doesn't hurt. Clarity, especially quantitative clarity, can turn 3-legged opinion into something more solid.

The case for LBJ 1988-2013 was outlined above.

However -- why start with *1988*, when Jordan was *already* in his prime?

Jordan was drafted in 1984.

Johnson made his debut in 1979.

Using the SAME criteria (min. 300 games, PER > 25, WS/48 > .230, DRtg http://bit.ly/10L5i5P

In: No one; not Magic, not Hakeem, nor Kareem nor Bird.

Out: Jordan.

Why? Because Jordan, unlike James, wasn't as complete a player during his first few seasons. Yes, he could fly, dunk & score. No, he wasn't the passer, defender or rebounder James was FROM his FIRST season.

Why most of all? Because Jordan, like Chicago, didn't DOMINATE opponents UNTIL the Bulls drafted Pippen.

Chicago Ws from 1984 (Jordan's 1st season) to 1987: 38(1984), 30(1985), 40(1986). Chicago's record the year before Jordan? 27-55. Jordan's 1st-yr impact (along w/a new head coach): 8+ wins.

Chicago AFTER the Bulls drafted Pippen: 50(1987), 47(1988), 55(1989), 61(1990), 67(1991), 57(1992) ... Also noteworthy: The Bulls' first 2 x 50-win season *with* Pippen came *without* Phil Jackson (Doug Collins was CHI's HC in 1987/88).

Whereas ...Cleveland won 17 games in 2002, the year BEFORE LeBron; the Cavs realized an 18+ win BUMP in James 1st season (35-47), +7 in his 2nd (42-40), +8 in his 3rd (50-32) -- all WITHOUT a Pippenish sidekick to make life easier.

Et tu Magic? I don't remember much about "Showtime", but Johnson *started* his rookie season on a team already featuring the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jamal Wilkes, Michael Cooper and Norm Nixon. NO ONE can -- or should -- argue Magic carried the franchise burden of a James or Jordan. Not when you *start* your career surrounded by HOFers. Johnson's biggest accomplishment was maxing HOF production from HOF talent, e.g., turning 47 wins into 60 his rookie season & thereafter plus the championships almost predestined to then & future Laker teams stocked with so much talent.

So yes, best-ever rankings are forever fun to argue. But it's even more fun to argue standing on something besides a 3-legged stool.

taheati

n.b. Not to forget the forgotten man, but Robinson must surely be one of the most underrated players ever.

Not only does Robinson share the 2-man greatest-ever-by-the-impact-numers list with LeBron, he turned the Spurs from a 21-win weakling before into a 56-win behemoth in his very FIRST season (1989) under the same coach (Larry Brown).

That 35+ win leap must rank with the largest turnarounds in NBA history. Pairing with Duncan finally got them over the championship hump, but The Admiral surely deserves his understated, unhyped place among the "best ever."

taheati

corr.

"Using the SAME criteria (min. 300 games, PER > 25, WS/48 > .230, DRtg http://bit.ly/10L5i5P

In: No one; not Magic, not Hakeem, nor Kareem nor Bird.

Out: Jordan."

Nelson

So u think lebron can win again next yr , quit for 2 yrs and come back to win another 3 straight like Michael did? That's my point , that's where the difference is michael ( quit ) came back not to win one but another 3 straight, are u comprehending this ? there will be no one like Michael, don't get me wrong I'm a huge lebron, wade, pat Riley fan , but when u put that into the equation its a no brainer , again just make sure u understand he quit came back won not 1 not 2 but 3 straight , straight, ladies and gentleman of the jury I rest my case

Nelson

Just for the record your absolutely correct about David robinson incredible talent & person he must be recognized doesn't get the credit he deserves when topic of greatest centers are discussed , just for the record I see no one discusses or has the audacity to even mention DrJ or Bernard king in the round table discussions

Gene

Of those expressing an opinion which two are considered clowns? Barkley and Shaq! Neither of them can offer coherent analysis of games or players, their forte being the off color comment or jokes. I seriously wonder what are their qualifications otherwise.

Gene

Re Nelson: You are correct MJ did "quit," and you have no idea why. It has been reported to be connected with the death of his father, but all you know for certain is that he QUIT.

Nelson

Yes his dad was murdered by lowlifes , thieves, Michael was so upset, he left the game, he then went to play baseball for 2 yrs , to come back compete at the highest level and win was an incredible human feat, I'm still in awed by that, aren't u? Isn't anybody? meanwhile this pt is never brought up in discussions
just another pt wilt chamberlain in his young playing days in the nba played all the minutes never sat while with the Philadelphia team incredible nobody talks about that Remember he was 7-1

tony

LOL,
Barkley Doesn't Hate The Heat Or Lebron.
It's His Job To Stay On Top & He Does It By Bashing.
Barkley Has Been The Same Since I Can Remember, A Big Mouth & That's Why We Tune In To Listen To What He Says.
He Was Better In His Early Years On TNT When He Had Something To Say about Everyone. He Makes That Show.

Heat

Nelson, he came back and LOST in 95. What are you talking about? They got pummeled by Shaq and the magic. And save the "he wasn't himself" routine, because you can clearly see that he played better in the 95 playoffs than he did in 96. The truth is everybody likes to believe Jordan did it alone, but Horace Grant left and they didnt yet have Rodman. They were routinely crushed on the inside the entire season., and Shaq exposed them. Lets not forget Jordan blowing the game on Nick Anderson stealing the ball from him from behind, then on the next possession throwing an awful pass to Scottie for another turnover. Your selective memory is hilarious to me.

2-3 Star []_[]

So what 2-Star does Golden get to commit today ?

Sad times

Posted by: 2-3 Star []_[] | 06/24/2013 at 10:46 AM

A new day, a new opportunity to be a miserable internet nerd troll obsessing over UM on sports blogs in the Miami Herald.

Life is good!

9>5>2

a 2 star that is better thanany of the gators 4-5 stars eg Driskel. eg Patchan.

Sorry but truth hurts. bad. GAtors are incrdibly overrtaed ineverything from preseason rankings to post season rankings to recruiting rankings. Youcan thank ESPN aka the SEC channel for that

What that leads tois lots of disspaointment in Alachua county and ignaant rednecks like you then come on here to trash the U- out of sheer jealousy

[]_[]nranked and 2- Star []_[] ...

Neither player is ranked by Rivals.com or any other recruiting service, but continued the weekend theme of the Hurricanes offering players they like a lot after seeing them up close in person.

Gray said he grew up liking the Hurricanes and until Sunday hadn't received an offer he was really happy with. "I'm not finished with recruiting, but it is a high possibility I'll be a Hurricane," Gray said.

Gray said his other top schools are Alabama, Clemson, West Virginia and Louisville, but adds "I don't have any offers from those."


.

"Oh I have Alabama, LSU, Notre Dame, FSU and Florida as my Top-5 even though they have no idea who I am."

This []_[]nranked No Star, blocking d[]_[]mmy Scr[]_[]b is as Del[]_[]sional as []_[] D[]_[]mb Cane Cl[]_[]cks...

btw- Will Goldy be out on Biscayne Boulevard handing out Schollies during the Parade today ?


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