Tonight is the start of the NBA finals between the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat. Prior to the season Miami assembled a trio of superstars that brought a great deal of attention to the league. Everyone and their grandmother now had an opinion on Lebron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade. All other NBA teams took a collective gasp, Kobe Bryant got on the phone with Dwight Howard, and Bill Simmons ran around in circles screaming like a little girl. Very few people wanted to see James make it to the finals and hoped the Heat failed miserably.
This year’s NBA playoffs has done well in TV ratings and a large part of that has to do with the Miami trio. Casual fans want to see what will happen to Lebron James and the Miami Heat, many hoping they lost before the finals. But this is good for the NBA. The NBA has a team in the finals casual fans will take an interest in rooting against. However, there may be a few who will root for the Heat but that number is undoubtedly small. I consider myself to be a die-hard NBA fan and I want to see the Heat win. Not because I hate the Mavericks, which I don’t, or any of their star veteran players but because I like James, Bosh and Wade. The Heat are exciting to watch and their defense against the Bulls was nothing short of amazing. When you can make Derrick Rose, the recently crowned MVP, look like he had never seen a basketball hoop before you have accomplished something impressive.
Lebron James clearly made the right choice leaving for Miami. He surrounded himself with two friends on the court, even though he took less money to play in Miami. His poor way of announcing his move to Miami did have a bright spot too. All of the money raised from that television announcement went to the Boys and Girls Club. His charity did not receive much publicity. In fact Jimmer Fredette’s charity event for the Boys and Girls Club received far greater publicity though it paled in comparison to the monetary amount raised by James. So when James laces up his personal Nike’s for the first game of the NBA finals he can hold his head high knowing he made the right decision to get out of Cleveland and take his talents to South Beach where he has a greater chance to better his career.
This will be a great series with some very interesting match-ups on the court. Congratulations to the NBA, you will have a dynamite finals.
This article has been a long time coming, and I still haven’t fully gotten over the shock that was Gary Williams’ retirement. Coach Williams achieved so many things as head coach of his alma mater’s basketball team over 22 years. The program was in shambles when he took over from Bob Wade. The NCAA had placed sanctions on the team, Len Bias’s unfortunate death had cast a shadow over the program, and losing had become a tradition. Coach Williams pulled the Terps from the depths of the ACC to take them to 14 NCAA tournaments (11 straight), 7 Sweet Sixteens, 2 Final Fours, and one remarkable National Title. His method of recruiting was always criticized but the man made a living off of turning unheralded players in to great college players who could ball with the best in the ACC. The real shock will come at the start of the 2011 season when Coach Williams does not trot onto the court at Maryland with his trademark fist pump firing up the players.
I have been asked almost on a daily basis who is the new head coach of Maryland basketball. When I respond, I always hear a surprised, “Who!?” Yes, Mark Turgeon (Tur-sian) is the new head coach and while it is not a sexy name, with what had been floating out there during the whirlwind hiring process that lasted 3 days, it is a solid hire. I spoke with a buddy of mine who has run in the DI College coaching circles for a few years and he was adamant about Coach Turgeon being a quality hire by Maryland. Something my friend pointed out to me was how Coach Turgeon had success winning at every place he had been to, which is a good sign. The coach has also taken Texas A&M to 4 straight NCAA tournament berths and taken unheralded players and developed them into good players on a successful team in a strong conference. However, his style is not like Gary Williams’. Maryland Basketball is about to hit the brakes in terms of tempo. We will be heading from one of the fastest teams in the country to one of the slowest. But as Coach Turgeon said in his press conference, “My style is winning”. You gotta like that answer.
The future of Maryland basketball is going to be an interesting transition. While I will always miss seeing Coach Gary Williams pacing up and down the sideline I know his love for Maryland basketball will only help to push the program forward into the future. We’ll miss you Coach Williams!