Ratings. You either live by them or love to hate them. In television it means everything. For the ABC broadcast of game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday, the ratings were the best since the 2004 finals. Ratings measure the percentage of all homes with televisions tuned into a program. If you like numbers, they also had a 10.9% over night rating which represents the country's (US) largest markets. I guess since one of those markets were not Toronto and not even in the NBA Finals, local newscasts here didn't place as much weight on these numbers and hence, the significance of this series was reflected in their broadcasts. TSN went into detail but alas, we are living in hockey country so most of the broadcasts are focused on those other finals going on right now. Man, we need another Canadian club in the NBA. It would help the Toronto Raptors and help raise the profile of the sport here. The Hamilton ...Sharks? Think about it. They lost the bid for an NHL Club maybe its time for an NBA push. Lebron in the Hammer. Highly unlikely on both accounts. I'll stop dreaming now. Let's talk about what's going on with Lebron James and the other free agents, look ahead to tonight's game and remember some special coaches.
Free Agency Free-for-All: Open your Wallets
I know the NBA playoffs are far from over yet and we are talking about what everyone will be doing over the summer already. But July 1st comes fast and we need to get down to business. Just so we are all on the same page, these are the terms you need to know going into free agency season.
FREE AGENT: a player who is free to shop for the highest bidder when the time comes.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENT: a player whose team has the right of first refusal on any offer made to said player.
PLAYER OPTION: a player can end their contract one year early.
EARLY TERMINATION: the contract can be voided 2 or more years early. With the player option and early termination clauses, both are unrestricted free agents and available to sign with whoever offers the most cash or lucrative deal.
So it is safe to say within these terms, not everyone is going to come out on top when all is said and done. Some teams are going to have to open their tight wallets and players may have to move from a club they don't particularly want to leave to find support and championship contention. There are so many options and scenarios to talk about but here are my top five.
LEBRON JAMES: I saw him on TMZ highlights this weekend. He's doing interviews with major shows, including Larry King Live and definitely trying to establish himself as a marquee player. As if we didn't know his value already. Something tells me though, that he may just stay in Cleveland since he wouldn't go on Larry King's show professing his love for Cleveland if he didn't make up his mind already. He has the player option on his contract and may want to stick around for one more year to right this year's wrongs. But many teams want him and let's face it, players want to see what he does to make up their minds about their own future.
CHRIS BOSH: He is the one player out of my top five who is the most likely to change teams. I think he has received some really harsh criticism for exploring his options. He is a great player and does well for his community. He sold me when he did a weather segment for CTV Toronto - absolutely floored me. I have covered weather before and let me tell you it is no easy task to be in front of the infamous green screen. Chris Bosh loves Toronto but Raptors fans need to let him and themselves look at the bigger picture. Bosh will be one of those players looking to see what Lebron does before he makes any decisions. Remember, even the Houston Rockets are looking for someone strong to play with Yao Ming to keep their star in Houston and Bosh fits that bill. Bosh didn't come right out and say he wanted to be a Rocket but you just never know. He is also an unrestricted free agent.
DIRK NOWITSKI: He is likely going to test the waters so he can re-work the contract he already has. New York may be looking to Nowitski as their second choice star if they don't get Lebron. But something tells me Dirk isn't into sloppy seconds and is staying right where he is. He is an unrestricted free agent.
AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE: He needs to feel the love from the Phoenix Suns or he will bolt. He is another player who is looking to see what Lebron James or Dwayne Wade do before he decides how much love he can live on in Phoenix. After the series against the Lakers, I would be pretty upset if I were Steve Nash. If my right hand man left and the Suns didn't adequately fill that void, I will be looking to greener pastures, too.
DWAYNE WADE: He is an unrestricted free agent with an option. So he could stay in Miami or leave depending on what Coach Pat Riley and the rest of the Miami Heat organization promises him in terms of support on the court. Sure, a discussion about money will happen at some point but he is one of those players whose heart is with his club and is not really looking to leave but will if the deal is better than what he's currently getting.
Jesus Shuttlesworth looking in the Mirror
It was like watching a made for TV movie. Ray Allen breaking the playoff record for draining the most 3 pointers in a single game when his team would have seriously lacked had he not put on that show. The Boston Celtics had 11 turnovers in the first half alone with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce not playing to their full potential. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen may have changed their fate by making it to the playoffs but I am not sure a stellar post season performance will keep them in Boston - it may just make them more lucrative to other teams when Boston goes shopping this summer. Enjoy this series while it lasts since this will probably the last time we see the big three play together. Remember what I said at the beginning of this series: the team who takes care of the little things like staying out of foul trouble, away from turnovers and making the important plays will walk away from the finals as champions. I still say the Lakers are the ones taking that walk - not matter what Boston throws at them.
Books, Movies and Basketball - every Thursday on the DNB
Starting next Thursday, I will be doing a new feature here on the Dino Nation Blog called "Books, Movies and Basketball". Each week, I will review a book from the world of basketball and suggest a movie for your viewing pleasure. I would love it if you would join me in some lively discussions and tell me what you think of my choices. For next thursday, I will be reviewing my favourite book of all time "Hoop Dreams" by Ben Joravsky. Don't cheat and watch the movie first - you will thank me for it.
John Wooden - 1910-2010. RIP.
"He set quite an example. He was more like a parent than a coach. He was a very selfless and giving human being" - Kareem Abdul Jabar. I never knew him personally, only the legend. And when you look at all the accomplishments he's made over the span of nearly 100 years he was on this planet, it is no wonder athletes and dignitaries from across all spectrums of sport are paying tribute to John Wooden's legacy. He remembered you are a person first, player second. But this is what made players under his tutelage great since a strong character made their game stronger. I remember my grade eight basketball coach Mr. Haslam. I wasn't the Lisa Leslie or Cynthia Cooper of my team but I worked hard and was thirsty for experience. When I came back to visit him one year, I asked him why he choose me for the squad that year. He simply said, "you wanted it really bad and that made you work hard to become a better player". Thank-you Coach Haslam, John Wooden and coaches across this great game of ours for making a difference in the lives of so many.