#IMHO: LeBron and Wade, Warriors rising, Steph Curry goes lunar
Grind City Media’s Lang Whitaker and Michael Wallace have been covering the NBA since shorts were short and socks were long, but their opinions about the League don’t always mesh. #IMHO is their weekly chance to weigh in on the most pertinent news from around the NBA. What’s lit? What’s lame? Find out each week right here.
From: Lang Whitaker Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2018 10:38 AM To: Michael Wallace Subject: #IMHO
As we creep closer to the Christmas bonanza of big-time NBA matchups, there was something earlier this week that caught me off guard. The Lakers hosted the Heat, and the Lakers ended up getting a 108-105 win, which kept them firmly in the playoff race in the Western Conference.
But I was unprepared for the level of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade hype manufactured around the game. There was an official hashtag(!), and headlines included phrases like “one more special moment” and “square off for a final time.”
Um, did I miss something? I know you covered them in Miami and spent plenty of time with them. Every NBA fan is aware that those two have been friends forever, vacationing together and drinking wine together and even playing together on two different teams. They’re buddies, we get it.
So what was the deal with the lovefest over that game earlier this week? Are they never going to see each other again? Did they have a lot of classic duels in the past that I missed? LeBron and Wade are Hall of Famers, but this wasn’t Magic vs. Bird, was it?
From: Michael Wallace Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2018 11:05 AM To: Lang Whitaker Subject: RE: #IMHO
Lang, this was indeed modern day social media inflation of a special and unique friendship as if it were the greatest bond between men that ever existed. I grant you that. The coverage of it made me think back to that Finals kiss between Magic and Zeke, and what that would have been like if it happened in today’s media landscape instead of the late 1980s.
The crazy thing about the LeBron-Wade ordeal is that although they’ve faced one another as opponents 31 times, they’ve never squared off in a playoff series over their 14-year NBA careers. That said, being in the bubble every day for their four years as teammates in Miami, you’ve got to give respect where respect is due. Publicly, they orchestrated the biggest power moves among players the league – or perhaps any professional sport – has ever seen when they united in Miami for four straight Finals and two titles. They were also at the forefront of the modern social justice and sports movement, with the justice for Trayvon Martin hoodie stance, the outspoken campaign to rid the NBA of Donald Sterling and also the ESPYs segment on the fight against police brutality.
So there’s a lot there to that deep and authentic LeBron-Wade friendship. Speaking of friendships, the newest member of the Warriors’ Superfriends squad appears closer to making his Golden State debut. The Warriors had already slipped back into first place in the West before DeMarcus Cousins got back on the court. But do they take off and run away from the rest of the West now with him in tow? Am I wrong to assume that most, if not all, of their worries and issues are likely solved?
From: Lang Whitaker Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2018 12:56 PM To: Michael Wallace Subject: #IMHO
Well, if there’s one thing we’ve learned about the Warriors over the last few years it’s that they understand the NBA season is a marathon and not a sprint. After that 73-win season (and Finals loss) a few years back, the Warriors seem way more pragmatic about leaning into the process versus celebrating the results. Adding Boogie should make them better, no doubt, but it will take them some time to get him completely integrated into the offense. And actually, I think the think that will actually make the Warriors a better team will be getting Draymond back, who is their middle linebacker on defense. As great as they are offensively, to me it’s their defense that so often spurs runs and gets them going.
Back to the LeBron/Wade thing, I’m glad you agreed with me, but one other thing there I thought we should note: At the end of the night, LeBron kinda casually dropped that he knew their last game would always be either at Staples Center or at “the Garden.” Which of course immediately sent Knicks fans into a tailspin. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst seemed to confirm on Twitter that the Knicks were at least in play at some point as a final landing spot for LeBron.
Since LeBron’s words came straight from LeBron’s mouth, I’m guessing we can’t completely discount it, even though LeBron walked it back postgame and said that he just meant it had to be somewhere with a lot of history, such as MSG.
So what do you think? Was LeBron to the Knicks ever close to really happening? Or were the Lakers really the perfect situation for King James?
From: Michael Wallace Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2018 4:45 PM To: Lang Whitaker Subject: #IMHO
I’m not sure if the Lakers or the Knicks were perfect situations for LeBron, especially as it relates to basketball. But from a business and entertainment vantage point, of course those two markets make perfect sense. That just confirms to me that LeBron is looking beyond basketball. To me, he’s accepted the fact that he may never make it to another Finals again. He’s secure with where his legacy stands on the court. He’s set his sights on the next 20 years of his life more so than the final four or so years of his basketball career. And that’s completely fine, considering what he’s accomplished. I think New York was also a much stronger possibility the last time around in 2010 when he first left Cleveland. But Miami made far more basketball sense, because there was still plenty of unfinished basketball business LeBron faced. All things considered, he’s in the right spot.
Speaking of the right spot, Lang, let’s end on this: I’ve always been taught that Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon nearly 50 years ago. But, apparently, Steph Curry doesn’t think that was the correct landing spot, based on his comments during a recent podcast. So, if you were forced to co-sign with one outlandish concept or the other, which elite NBA point guard’s theory are you rolling with? Steph’s take that no one has ever landed on the Moon? Or Kyrie’s assertion that the Earth is flat?
From: Lang Whitaker Sent: Tuesday, December 12, 2018 9:37 AM To: Michael Wallace Subject: #IMHO
When Kyrie said he believed the earth was flat, my first thought was that it was an interesting reflection on the value of a Duke education.
Jokes aside, I am disappointed that Kyrie and Steph have publicly embraced anti-intellectualism. Mike, as journalists, you and I can appreciate the pursuit of truth. And while I am terrible at math and my science experience is basically limited to pouring vinegar into baking soda (hey, it’s a volcano!), I understand that there are certain certainties we can rely on to make life easier for everyone. For instance, while we had only supposition that the earth was round five hundred years ago, these days we have things like actual photos of the earth to show that the darn thing is round.
But sometimes and to some people, facts apparently don’t matter. Just to indulge Steph, let’s say we did not land on the moon. So I assume that means nothing NASA has done over the last sixty years was real? So where did all those hundreds of billions of dollars go? How did the hundreds of thousands of people who were involved in going to the moon not all just come out and say it was a lie? If we were going to fake a moon landing, wouldn’t we just fake it once and move on instead of six times? If we faked a man on the moon wouldn’t we fake sending someone even further, like Mars? If we faked the moon landing, how can we take high definition photos of the moon’s surface and see the flags we left behind and astronaut footprints and lunar rover tracks? How were the Mythbusters able to bounce lasers off the reflectors that Apollo 15 left on the surface of the moon? Oh, and I guess “Hidden Figures” should now be classified as fiction?
To be clear, I don’t know if Steph and Kyrie are intentionally embracing anti-intellectualism, but that’s really what they are doing. I love being curious and questioning things, and I believe the pursuit of knowledge and information should be a lifelong activity for everyone. Steph can say whatever he wants, but at least give me some facts to go along with it.
In other words, don’t just yell “Fake news!” and expect me to believe you.
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Memphis Grizzlies. All opinions expressed by Lang Whitaker and Michael Wallace are solely their own and do not reflect the opinions of the Memphis Grizzlies or its Basketball Operations staff, owners, parent companies, partners or sponsors. Their sources are not known to the Memphis Grizzlies and they have no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.