It was a year that provided plenty of personalities, story lines, and moments, but the question is, which of those moments got their due and which did not? Could LeBron James actually be underrated? Could the Olympics? They just might be.
Underrated: LeBron James's Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Indiana
Everyone remembers the 45-point evisceration of Boston on the road in an elimination game, and the ultra-efficient inside-out torching of the Thunder in the Finals. But Game 4 against the Pacers has sort of gotten lost in the shuffle, which can happen, I guess, when a game kicks off one of the greatest 15-game stretches in the entire history of a sport. Miami felt like it was on the verge of a franchise-altering crisis going into Game 4, down 2-1 to a feisty Indiana team and missing Chris Bosh. Dwyane Wade had shot 2-of-13 and snapped at Erik Spoelstra during a Game 3 blowout loss. It wasn't an elimination game, but in that moment it was hard to imagine Miami coming back from a 3-1 deficit against a Pacers club that clearly didn't fear them.
And when Miami fell behind by 10 points in the first half of Game 4, looking a bit listless, it was tempting to start thinking about the consequences of a conference semifinals loss. Would they make a panic trade of one of the stars? Would they conclude James and Wade just couldn't coexist well enough to win a title? Would they fire Spoelstra before his extension — which was signed before the season — even kicked in?
Then LeBron and Wade went absolutely bananas, scoring 38 straight points for Miami in a second-half stretch for the ages. It wasn't just the production; it was the way it looked. Both were cutting actively off the ball and feeding each other for the sorts of semi-improv scores we all envisioned when they teamed up. Spoelstra began leaning on sets in which Miami cleared one side of the floor for LeBron and letting James go to work. He was dominant in those sets, which were rarely a major part of Miami's offense before, and they morphed into post-ups as the playoffs wore on — the post-ups for which Oklahoma City had no answer. It all just came together, at a startling speed. James finished with 40 points, 18 rebounds, and nine assists, numbers that no other player has ever put up in a postseason game since the mid-1980s. He hit post-up shots, jumpers, graceful floaters over Roy Hibbert in the lane — shots he just didn't quite have down even two or three seasons before. It was masterful, and the Heat needed every bit of it. — Zach Lowe
I don’t remember how it came up — probably because I thought it’d come up before — but at some point yesterday in the office, I started in about my love of indoor volleyball. My co-workers were surprised, and in turn, so was I. There are people who don’t love indoor volleyball?
I started watching in high school. My friend made the varsity team as a freshman, and because we all thought that was pretty cool, a few of us started hitting every home game. By our junior year, we had one of the best men’s (and women’s, actually) high school teams in the state, and groups of us started traveling for games. Our volleyball crowds were bigger than the ones most schools fielded for basketball.
The interest hung around through college. My friend went on to one of the nation’s best volleyball programs, and I caught enough games — including their national championship win — to remember why I loved watching in the first place. So when I was asked yesterday to catch some Olympic indoor volleyball and make my case for why it’s so great, I happily accepted. Conveniently, the U.S. was set to play Italy this morning in the start of the men’s quarterfinals.
In this year's Olympic basketball competition, there are several teams that are a threat to medal, and maybe even to contend with Team USA. As the Games ramp up, we’ll be providing looks at the strengths, weaknesses, and medal chances of these possible contenders.
Of the five preliminary games that the United States played in preparation for the Olympics, the Brazilian national team may have given the U.S. its biggest scare. Brazil eventually faded after building an early double-digit lead, but they revealed which parts of their game can give Team USA trouble.
In this year's Olympic basketball competition, there are several teams that are a threat to medal, and maybe even contend with Team USA. As the Games ramp up, we’ll be providing looks at the strengths, weaknesses, and medal chances of these possible contenders.
Like Russia, Lithuania qualified for the Olympics by way of the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament. After losing a group game to Nigeria, who also qualified for the Olympics, Lithuania walked through its three remaining games and earned a trip to London. These Games are a chance to bounce back after a disappointing fifth-place finish in EuroBasket 2011.
The XXXth Olympic Games are well under way, and much like the previous Games, this one is booooring. You’d think by now that watching a Russian teenager shooting an arrow wildly off target would get the blood going — but no. Not on YouTube and not in front of a billion people during the Olympics. But do you know what would make it more exciting? Nothing. Nothing in the world would make it exciting. I tricked you. Either way, the bottom line is, as lethargic as the events are, it’s our duty to attempt to spice them up.
That, combined with the fact that this is a business, and it’s imperative to build a gambling nest egg for ... you guessed it ... preseason football.
I’ve examined the remaining Olympic propositions the gambling gods have generously offered. The best part about this is I am not at all familiar with these events, which means I actually have a puncher’s chance at winning.
Heading into the Olympic basketball competition, there are several teams that are a threat to medal, and maybe even contend with Team USA. As the Games ramp up, we’ll be providing looks at the strengths, weaknesses, and medal chances of these possible contenders.
With a third-place finish in last year's EuroBasket competition, Russia’s path to the London Olympics had to go through the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament. There they made quick work of the competition. Russia went undefeated in its four games, winning three by double digits. Looking at Russia's roster, there are a number of well-known names (including Andrei Kirilenko) and talented players, which has Russian fans believing in their team’s medal chances.
Heading into the basketball competition of these Olympics, there are several teams that are a threat to medal, and maybe even contend with Team USA. As the Games ramp up, we’ll be providing looks at the strengths, weaknesses, and chances of these possible contenders.
Much like Spain, France features a team full of NBA pros and familiar names. Although they lost to Spain in the finals of EuroBasket last season, France had a fantastic run in that tournament that allowed them to qualify for these Olympic Games, where they should be a threat to win another medal.
Team USA took a break yesterday from its string of pre-Olympics beat downs to face an Argentina team still made up mostly of players who took home Olympic gold in 2004. What looked like just another blowout quickly became a close one as the Americans struggled from the outside. The result was an 86-80 win for the U.S. in its first real test in the run-up to the London games, and one that provided a few main takeaways:
The Olympics are coming, and here to get us all giddy is the USA Men's Basketball Team. While it's been enjoyable to see the 12 men spending time together with "USA" written across their chests, one conversation has dominated much of the dialogue surrounding this team:
How does the 2012 team stack up against the legendary 1992 Dream Team?
The back-and-forth started off playfully, but as each player from the ’92 team has chimed in, it's started to feel like they’re just attempting to extend their Dream Team documentary buzz as long as possible. Really, they just sound like grumpy old men who are convinced they were the best that ever did it.
My vote: Let's stop comparing them to the Dream Team. Let's leave Michael, Magic, and Bird alone, and shift our focus to the important names. You know, like Charlie. And Averman. And Goldberg.