Drunken Thoughts of an NBA Addict: LeBron Comes Home, KD's Knee

David DeRyderCorrespondent IDecember 4, 2010

To say my NBA addiction rose to epic proportions this week is an understatement. If you can't figure out why I have to ask why are you reading an NBA article.

Homecoming King

LeBron James' return to Cleveland illustrated one of the saddest truths in all of sports—fans care infinitely more than the players. The atmosphere at Quicken Loans Arena was phenomenal. It was more alive than most stadiums during the playoffs. The shirts and signs conveyed the anger the fans felt towards the man who they felt betrayed them.

Too bad the Cavaliers didn't notice.

As crazy as it sounds, the Cavaliers seemed oblivious to fact that the most hated man in Ohio had returned. They didn't step up or defend the honor of their city. They rolled over.

I understand the Heat was vastly superior in terms of talent. No one would have criticized the Cavs if they simply lost, but they got blown out. No one seemed to take LeBron leaving personally. It's sad that Boston and Los Angeles seem to have more hard feelings toward LeBron than the team he left behind in Cleveland.

That being said, LeBron had his best game of the season. He played with an edge that has been missing all year. I don't know if this game will prove to be a spring board for the Heat. What I do know is that LeBron is still the best basketball player in world.

The Best of the Homecoming was the Introduction

And I don't mean the player introductions at the Q. TNT's promo before tip off was jaw-droppingly brilliant. If you haven't already seen it, watch it now.


That's right, I used a spoiler alert for a minute and a half game introduction. That's how amazing it was. Now that you've seen it, I'm sure you agree.

The intro opens up with riots in Paris and the narratation in French. When this video aired, it was shown directly after a commercial. No TNT logo. No NBA announcement. Reasonably, I thought it was another advertisement. I knew the French were upset with the raising of the retirement age. Maybe it had something to do with that.

Nope. As the narrator continued, the riots were in response to the Eiffel Tower being moved to Rio de Janario. At this point I ruled out the video being for a charity, political organization, or anything related to actual events in Paris. I know, sometimes my intelligence amazes me too.

Then, the language of narration switched to Mandarin or Cantonese. Apparently, the nation of China declared a day of mourning as the Great Wall was being moved to New York. This is when I thought, Wait, is this a LeBron thing?

When the narration changed to English and told of the Lincoln memorial disappearing, the possibility of the ad being LeBron related was more likely. After a stunning CGI shot of stone Abe Lincoln sitting in the Acropolis, my notion was confirmed. The only question was: "What genius made this piece of art?"

I was blown away as LeBron highlights were shown. Every play seemed to be continuous with the exception of his jersey alternating between Cleveland and Miami. Turns out, TNT may have crafted the best piece of LeBron media since The Decision was announced. Whoever was behind the promo deserves a huge raise.

The brilliance of the video was that it captured the importance of professional athletes. There is nothing inherently valuable about putting an orange, rubber ball through a hoop. It is the fans that create the meaning. Because so many people care about the outcome of a game or the destination of free agent, it matters. Professional sports are meaningful because we as a society want them to be.

Those who are not sports fans may question comparing an athlete to historical monuments. The truth is, the people of Cleveland viewed LeBron as a symbol for them, just as the Parisians take pride in the Eiffel tower.

Whether James wanted that responsibility or not is irrelevant. The fact is he was more than just a ball player. I wouldn't presume to tell the King what he should have done. I just hope he appreciates the impact his decisions have.

Kevin Durant's knee maybe a bigger issue than Thunder let on

First off, it is vital to mention that Kevin Durant leads the league in scoring. He is my favorite player in the league. I only criticize out of love.

Last year, Durant became the youngest player in the league history to lead the NBA in scoring. Over the summer, he led Team USA to gold at the World Basketball Championships. To say expectations were high for the 21-year-old super star is putting it lightly.

It's not that KD played poorly this year. As I've said, he leads the league in scoring. He just seems off. As he sat out his second consecutive game tonight, I couldn't help but wondering if his knee injury is bothering him more than he expresses to the media (or on his Twitter feed).

A knee injury would certainly explain the lack of explosiveness I notice every time the Thunder are televised. He doesn't score efficiently. Rather than aggressively drive, he settles for jumpers. Yes, I know he can shoot over people. But is that really the highest percentage shot he can get?

Points don't seem to come as easily as they did last season for Durant. That statement seems counter-intuitive considering the remarkable improvement of Russell Westbrook. All questions regarding Westbrook's ability to be a number two scoring option on Oklahoma City have been answered. In fact, some analysts have already crowned Westbrook as the Thunder's best player.

It seems logical that a player would drive less if his knee was hurting. I know Kevin is a competitive player, but sitting is the right move. The Thunder can afford to go without him at this juncture in the season. The number priority has to be full health come spring time.

Durant will never put up LeBron numbers when it comes to assists. However, he can still make his teammates considerably better by scoring. The key is for him to score efficiently. If opposing defenses fear his drive, they will play Durant's teammates softer. It is KD's job to make sure that every defender keeps him in their field of vision. If he can score at will like he did last year, the Thunder are a dangerous team. On the other hand, if Durant settles for contested jumpers, Oklahoma City will fail to live up to the preseason hype.

Beer Review: Arcadia Ales IPA

After welcoming the holiday season with Stella Artois, I switched back to a Michigan microbrew. Arcadia Ales is made 30 minutes from my hometown of Kalamazoo in Battle Creek.

Their India Pale Ale is one of the lighter renditions of the brew. While hometown brewery Bell's has had success with their 7.1% apv IPA, Two Hearted Ale , Arcadia's comes in a paltry 6%. This would explain the sweet, more floral taste.

Despite the relatively low alcohol content, I found Arcadia Ales IPA to be a little thick for a pale ale. The full body was not overwhelming, and somewhat characteristic of the Arcadia brewery.

Overall, Arcadia Ales IPA is a solid expression of the style. It is everything one would expect from an India Pale Ale: hoppy, bitter, and crisp.


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