My Review of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

*THERE ARE SPOILERS* *THERE ARE SPOILERS* *THERE ARE SPOILERS*

When I walked into the theater on Wednesday night my thoughts were: “Hopefully Michael Bay will redeem himself and make me forget that there ever was a Transformer heaven.”  This was Bay’s last chance to keep me as a fan of the franchise and he delievered…mostly.  There is still too much human influence and I didn’t understand John Malkovich’s role in the movie.  Plus, there is no reason for B-list actor Patrick Dempsey to play a bad guy. He should just stick to starring in terrible dramas that glorify the workings of a hospital. Bay saturated the movie with as many stars as possible hoping that the star power would save the franchise.  It was desperation.

Let’s get right into it.

The Positives:

The Decepticons– Every movie the Autobots are outnumbered by the best and coolest Transformers. Shockwave was the newest and by far my favorite.  The drill-like projection that was worm-like helped him maneuver around was creative.  The collapsing kyscraper was a great scene.  The way the drill wrapped around the building like a snake was great animation and the ensuing human action (of them falling, sliding, and being tossed around) because they were trapped in the building made it a solid scene. 

Sentinel Prime, although starting as an Autobot, was the second real “Prime” to have a major role in the franchise.  He was a strong villain and had a sword and a shield compared to Optimus’s two swords.  He killed off Ironhide and fought Optimus for an extended period of time, the way it should’ve been.  During that fight scene he was the first to really inflict damage on Optimus Prime, hints that the franchise may be over. (Optimus has one arm now, they can’t make another movie.)

Optimus Prime- Bean said “Is it me or is it every time you hear Optimus Prime talk, you just listen?”  Definitely.  His mini-monologues of truth and justice for all are too enticing. He speaks softly but carries a big stick.  Right before he kills Sentinel Prime he says, “You didn’t betray me, you betrayed yourself!” What better way is there to end that? That’s not to mention that every time he’s on-screen he cleans house. His dual-wielded swords are right above Megatron’s shotgun which I didn’t know existed until Optimus executed Sentinel Prime. He is the most solid of all the transformers, most badass, and most “just.” He should be on screen as much as possible.

The New Girl- It seems shallow that this is a positive, but for an action-franchise this is what Bay and Spielberg are trying for. Think about it, “Transformers” isn’t going to win any Oscars so it’s about transformers battling and sex appeal.  Rosie Huntington-Whiteley replaced Megan Fox as Sam’s girlfriend and she didn’t do too terribly.  She can’t act (neither can Fox), but she’s better looking and was an upgrade at that role.  Fox looked half asleep and her star was burned out by the time “Revenge of the Fallen” came out. Huntington-Whiteley gets a 3 out of 10 for acting but a 10 out of 10 for appeal.

The Negatives:

Human Influence- Having said that about Huntington-Whiteley, I still don’t understand the scene where she convinces Megatron to turn on Sentinel Prime (more on that in a second) nor do I understand that the influence in the movies.  The scene with the “Asian from the ‘Hangover’” was a catalyst to Sam figuring out what the Decepticons were doing, but was it necessary?  Was it necessary to show Laserbeak having a tea party with a little girl then kills her father?  Was it necessary to have John Malkovich in the movie at all?  And seriously, what is the deal with Patrick Dempsey? Even during the imminent defeat of the Decepticons, he found it necessary to stay loyal to them.  (Speaking of humans, the big black guy who was picked to shoot the rockets is the voice of the Cole Train from “Gears of War.”)

Representation of Megatron and Prime conflict- The conflict between Prime and Megatron was shown once for about three seconds.  Carly convinced Megatron to turn on the Decepticons.  It was crucial but treated as minor.  If Bay wanted me to believe that there was a conflict between the two then he should’ve extended it or shown it more frequently. Although I said that “Transformers” won’t win any Oscars doesn’t mean it can take shortcuts.  At least show how Megatron ended up in that alley depressed and defeated.  It was weak and a cheap way to save Optimus Prime’s life at the end.  (As gratitude, Optimus ripped Megatron’s head off.  Seriously, who is a better Transformer than him?)

First 30 minutes- I mentioned this earlier as well, but the movie could’ve been 20-30 minutes shorter if they cut out some of the “comedic” scenes. The introduction of the conspiracy theory and why the space race started was great and could be believable, but do Sam’s parents have to be there?  Yeah they’re funny, but now it’s just annoying.  Plus, when Sam gets to the hangar in Washington D.C. they don’t believe he knows anything.  It’s tired and played out.  He saved the world twice and they don’t believe he did it.  It’ just a useless time slot and the movie should’ve started (after the conspiracy scenes) with him waking up then immediately at John Malkovich’s office for the interview. Stop forcing scenes.

My friend Matt Press and I have a grading-scale we give movies based off the high school grading system. “Dark of the Moon” gets 68 out of 100 (it’s a tough scale). The movie starts out with a bang, but fizzles soon after.  It’s only saved when the setting reaches Chicago and the fighting starts.  The franchise will make money regardless so they should take their time and follow the first movie’s form and balance everything.  It’s ridiculous to saturate the movie with stars and completely dilute the quality of the franchise. Shame on you Spielberg, you’re better than that.

If you want to read my review for the other two movies, simply click “read rest of this entry.” Continue reading

Coming Soon

I’m sorry for the delay I am currently working on two posts that will be up by Thursday night at the latest.

“My Review of the ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ and the Series as a Whole”

“Analysis of the Top 10 in the NFL’s Top 100”

Thanks for the patience.

Interleague Play is Good for Baseball

As the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox close their three game series I read my friend Steve’s Facebook and this is what he had to say.

“Why would anyone want to get rid of inter-league play? It’s only a few weeks a year and everyone gets excited about a series like this. So much better than [the Phillies] playing the Nationals and Marlins 40 times”

It’s a good point.  With a 162-game season and only five teams in each division it equates to a team playing everyone in their division 18 times a year. For example, in the National League East, the Phillies play the Florida Marlins, Washington Nationals, New York Mets, and Atlanta Braves 18 times each.  It’s a pro because fans can gauge how their team stacks up against the division or how strong division itself is. It creates rivalries that attract fans to the stadiums and creates a disdain for the opposing teams that causes excitement and passion.  But, the con is that they play each team 18 times usually in three or four game sets.  Think about it, do you really want the Phillies playing the Marlins or the Red Sox playing the Toronto Blue Jays 18 times a year? Interleague play breaks that up the mold that baseball has held onto for 150 years and refuses to budge on (but that’s a whole other story). 

Major League Baseball started interleague play in 1997 meaning before then, the only times the American and National Leagues met were during spring training, the All-Star game, exhibitions, and the World Series.  It was enjoyable as a National League and baseball fan to see the headlines on a newspaper of a guy named “Ted Williams” hitting .400 or Joe DiMaggio hitting for his 56th consecutive game.  There was purity and a beauty to finally catching a glimpse of these players and fans truly flocked to games they played in.   But, in the age of the Internet and absolute exposure to all things there are no surprises anymore.  You know what Josh Hamilton or Albert Pujols did AS they did it. You know what their swings are like, where they hit the ball, and what they look like.  You know how nasty Cliff Lee’s curveball and the streak that he is on  and you can watch the Phillies pitching staff without just reading about them. (Think about it, how much less exciting would Stephen Strasburg’s debut have been if it wasn’t during the age of the internet.  You would’ve had to read it in the newspaper the next day, completely missing out on the energy and electricity.) Until things like Williams hitting .400 or Barry Bonds hitting 73 home runs in a season (granted on steroids) happen and bring a lot of attention, the MLB needs to adapt and save itself.  Interleague play is the first step to that.

Every year the NFL schedules a division from the National Football Conference to play a division against American Football Conference.  So over a span of four years, the Philadelphia Eagles will play the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, and Baltimore Ravens.  What’s that mean?  The best teams from the NFC will eventually play the best teams from the AFC and when the best play then what happens? The best games, the best advertisements, the best ratings, and the best players.  If the NFL didn’t have their own version of interleague play then that would mean another division game and three is too many. So is 18.  If the Red Sox and Yankees played nine times or even eight, it would be a better rivalry (Is there any more overrated rivalry in sports? It’s a rivalry deep rooted in tradition, but only for those who are either baseball purists or those from Boston or New York. They play 18 times a year, how many times can ESPN say “The Best Rivalry in Sports” before we all say, “Wait this will be the 12th,13th,and 14th time they’ll be playing? It’s only July!” Spare me the forced drama.).  Interleague play allows for an increase in potential rivalry games and more important divisional games. For example, the New Yankee Stadium is about forty miles from Citi Field, but the Mets and Yankees would have only played in the 2000 World Series if it wasn’t for Interleague play.  That just doesn’t make sense.

There are arguments against interleague play with one side saying that no one wants to see a team ranked in the bottom of one division of the NL play against the bottom ranked team in one division of the AL.  Well there’s no parity in baseball as it is, the bad teams are always bad so why force the Phillies to play the Nationals 18 times when they can play the Texas Rangers six of those times. It’s a part of the damage control; the MLB should accept the losses that bad teams don’t raise attendance so let the best teams play the best more often. Why do you think the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics play every Christmas? The other part of that argument is that why teams would be interested in playing another that they don’t share any historical or geographical data with?  Again now that the internet is available, does that even matter? It becomes more about what players are in the game, not the city they play for.  In today’s age, would someone be angry that the San Francisco Giants are playing the Tampa Bay Rays because they’re so far apart or would someone be excited that Tim Lincecum is pitching against David Price?

The MLB has to learn how to adjust to a more hungry and growing sports market.  By limiting the times the best teams from both leagues are able to play each other, they are limiting their best product. The NFL has adjusted to the market and is by far the fastest growing and most popular sport in American culture.  The MLB has more purists and traditional fans, but they don’t make ratings, the casual fan does. (I call it the Tiger Woods effect, which I’ll expand on in the coming weeks, but every sport has a set fan base, but it’s those who don’t normally watch that determine if a sport will become popular.)  So having said all that, interleague baseball is meant to be enjoyed.

Why Johnny Depp is Overrated

Although this web log will always be heavily favored towards sports, it won’t just be about that. So on a slow sports day and during a break from my new obsession of the Showtime series Weeds, what better time for me to present my argument: Everyone’s favorite actor, Johnny Depp, should be anything but.  I’ll admit I do think he is a solid actor and a cool dude and that I am a fan of his, but I refuse to consider him as one of the best today. I look at Johnny Depp like “The Town,” yeah the movie was good, but from the hype and the You have to see this movie dude–type sentences from my friends it wasn’t worth it and honestly I was disappointed. (To continue on with “The Town,” Ben Affleck has found his niche in directing and Jeremy Renner has established himself as a movie badass.) I understand people like him for the same reason males who casually watch tennis like Serena Williams, but looks can only get you so far (enter Megan Fox). I understand “Edward Scissorhands” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” were apart of our childhoods and great kids movies, but those can only get you so far (enter Brendan Fraser).  Each time a new movie “starring Johnny Depp” comes out the first thing that comes to my mind is, “I wonder if Johnny Depp will break out of his shell in this movie and actually show some range (seriously, find me a movie where he cried, laughed (in a non-crazy way), was angry, or did anything that was semi-powerful).”

His IMDB bio says “is perhaps one of the most versatile actors of his day and age in Hollywood.” It’s like that definition has been blurred. How can a critic watch a movie and, because Johnny Depp’s make-up is different, considered it versatile?  There needs to be a different set of attributes per movie for someone to be considered versatile. If Johnny Depp was a cartoon comedy he’d be “Family Guy.” The show is good and funny, but how many flashbacks do you have to see before you realize that “maybe there really isn’t much more to this show.”

To prove his solidity as a great actor, compare his range to the likes of today’s real top actors. Robert de Niro went from a deranged cab driver to an abusive Jake LaMotta to a mobster named Jimmy. Tom Hanks went from a suspicious resident who thought his neighbors were murderers to a homosexual with AIDS to a person who was a part of every major American event starting from the 60’s. Leonardo DiCaprio went from a drug addicted high schooler to the best check forger to a diamond smuggler from Africa (I didn’t even mention “The Departed,” “The Titanic,” or “The Aviator.” He is the best actor of our generation.). Under the versatility rule there is an argument to say Denzel Washington who always plays the good guy and protagonist, but he ended that speculation when he came out with “Training Day” and won an Oscar for it.  It has to make a person wonder what if Johnny Depp decided to star in something like “The King’s Speech” instead of every movie Tim Burton decides to come out with.

I e-mailed my favorite sports pundit, Mike Missanelli, who is very adept in the entertainment culture. This is how our e-mail conversation went over a period of two days.

-Me:      Yo Mike,

Is it me or is Johnny Depp the most overrated actor in Hollywood? Seriously, can you even tell me the difference between his characters in “Pirates of the Carribbean,” “Sweeny Todd,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and “Gilbert Grape?”

                Here’s the answer, YOU CAN’T! HE’S GARBAGE, NO VERSATILITY.  Agreed?

-Mike Missanelli: I disagree. I think he’s a pretty good actor without these fluff movies.

-Me:      Good point, I forgot that he made box-office hits such as “The Tourist” and “Secret Window”…Come on brotha

-Mike Missanelli:    It’s not in the body of work of lousy movies, it’s in the substance. Sometimes, understated makes you a good actor. Donnie Brasco?

That last e-mail made me go through Johnny Depp’s body of work to see if the characters from the movies that put him on the map were really that good. Remember, it’s not about questioning if the movies were solid, but if Johnny Depp showed enough range throughout his film career to be considered great. Yes, I really do not have anything else to do. Continue reading

Andre Iguodala: Hey, Hey, Hey, Goodbye

On the heels of a very strange 2011 NBA Draft there is only certainty; that it is one of the weakest draft classes ever. The projected number one overall pick, Kyrie Irving from Duke, is a freshman whoonly played in 11 games in college.  The number two projected overall pick, Derrick Williams from Arizona, is considered by NBA analysts as a “tweener” because no one’s sure whether or not he is a small or power forward. Rumors have it that the Philadelphia 76ers are offering Andre Iguodala for the 2nd overall pick which would be Williams.  The rest of the draft is full of foreigners and mediocre talent where the top players in the draft may wind up as solid sixth men if picked by the right team (Like Jimmer Fredette to a run-and-gun team allowing a lot of shots and fast breaks.).  And yet, me being from Philadelphia, that all sounds better than having to endure another season with Iguodala.

Yeah I know, Philadelphia is full of a bunch of uneducated, belligerent drunks who taunt opposing fans, Taser minors who run on the field, and put innocent Giants fans into comas on Opening Day (Wait that was Los Angeles) so what do we know? We just force stars out of our city like Donovan McNabb with analysts saying “He is still a top 10 quarterback in the NFL, Philadelphia doesn’t appreciate him!” (I agree on the latter, but he got benched for Rex Grossman)  But they won’t apologize for that nor will they mention the Vancouver riots where Olympic athletes were setting police cars on fire. But I’ll ignore our image because one thing is for sure, Philadelphia wants Iguodala gone.

 Well for one, Iguodala is not the superstar that he thinks he is. He is a solid number two with his rebounding ability and is without a doubt a top 10 defender in the NBA.  He is the 76ers standard for who will defend a team’s best player.  But he can’t be a number one because he doesn’t have the scoring ability (or killer instinct that has defined stars like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant) when it comes to crunch time.  Countless times Iguodala has driven the lane only to be blocked off so he plants and does a turn-around fade-away that more than likely ends in a CLANK! CLANG! Or my favorite, the air-ball.  Yes, the 76ers don’t have another star to which they can give the ball to down the stretch but at least Lou Williams CAN hit a big shot.  Through so many games this year Bean (who has been mentioned enough to where I won’t say “my friend” anymore) have texted or called each other starting with the sentence starting with the following sentence, “Why does [Doug] Collins keep giving Iggy the ball in the last two minutes?” Yes, the best player on the team should be taking all the shots in the clutch, but if they have proven that 100% of the time, their shots won’t go in then something needs to be done.

The 76ers have tried making a splash on draft night by offering up Iguodala for a trade.  The Los Angeles Lakers are reported to have offered Lamar Odom and Ron Artest for him, but we don’t want them. Odom and Artest are both known for just give up and go through the motions when they are in a situation they don’t like.  This leads to the aforementioned trade for the second overall pick and Derrick Williams. The 76ers could use a big body down low who can also do what Iguodala can’t, shoot.  They’ll be sacrificing their best defender but 14 points a game from their best player is ridiculous. Good riddance, ANNNNNDREEEEEE IGUOOOO-DALA-DALA-DALA!

 

Happy Father’s Day: Benny the “Mush”

For Father’s Day I bought my dad two books: Sniper One and Seal Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper.  To call him a history and military buff would be an understatement.  It’s more of an obsession.  He can look at a weapon on TV and diagnose: who invented it, what its advantages are (for example, the M4 is used in Iraq because it’s small, allowing for better maneuverability in urban environments), how it’s loaded, and when it was first used. He watches two stations, the Military Channel and the USA Network so he can watch reruns of his favorite show N.C.I.S.  (His favorite character is Ziva because she’s from the Israeli Mossad.).  He’ll sit on the couch for hours calling out every weapon and tactic the military uses and how “they have a plane that on radar comes up as a seagull!” However, if I was to ask him, “Dad, who do you think the Eagles should pick up in free agency this year?” He’d answer, “Who?” For that, he has earned his title of “Benny the Mush.” Why; because the Sports Gods are vengeful.

Big Ben is 6’3” and 325 pounds of intimidating muscle.  He is covered in tattoos from head-to-toe but not in a way that makes it look overdone, it’s strange but it flows well (don’t tell my mother I said that) and it makes him unique and distinguishable from everyone else. His voice, as deep as James Earl Jones and as raspy as Louie Armstrong, can’t be described as talking but as barking.  He was a truck driver for 30 years and now works for the township where we live and he’ll let you know every chance he gets. “Chazz, I’ve been working for 37 years straight. No layoffs.” It’s commendable and rare, especially with the job market and fluctuations in the economy.  If I was 12 and I wrote this I’d say he’s the man who eats nails for breakfast with no milk and watches John Wayne movies because no is as manly as  “THE DUKE!” Hearing this description you would expect to hear stories of us sharing Sundays taking turns screaming at Andy Reid or buying ticket packages to go see the “Four Aces” take on the world, but that won’t happen because Big Ben doesn’t watch sports.

It’s a strange dynamic, especially since most of what my dad’s interests are didn’t rub off on me as much as it did on him.   I really only watch sports and movies (this week I’m dedicating a post to “Why Johnny Depp is Overrated.” Trust me, my argument’s too solid.).  Except for my friend Bean, none of my other friends understand what it’s like.  My friend Bobby has watched every Eagles game with his dad and if he’s at the game, calls every time they score a touchdown. It’s cheesy, but that’s what sports do.  Although it is basically a stereotype that all fathers and sons have to share sports experiences, it does have an aroma that can’t fulfilled by going to the movies or taking a trip to the beach.  But does it bother me? No, not at all because I watch enough for the both of us.  What bothers me is that I haven’t figured out a way of getting rid of his title as the “Mush.”

The balance of sports is delicate.  If it is broken, abused, or misused in any way then the Gods come with a vengeance that makes what Liam Neeson did in “Taken” look like nothing more than just a guy politely asking some people if he could have his daughter back. Big Ben is a textbook “Mush.” What specifically is a that? It has been applied to betting and sports but in short, a “Mush” is someone who ruins everything they are associated with.  For example, if a “Mush” attends a Phillies game, you might as well leave after the sixth inning because they are not going to win.  Any chance of a positive outcome for a situation you are striving for instantly becomes mush.  For a real life example, the Philadelphia Flyers finished last in the NHL in points in 2007. How? Big Ben took me to the Thrashers-Flyers game right before they went on that 10 game losing streak. It solidified his standing as a “Mush.”

What are the criteria for becoming a “Mush?”

  1. The most recent games you have watched have been overwhelmingly losses. Losing streaks happen, but absolute anarchy means there are higher spirits at work.
  2. A falsified interest in something.  If you didn’t watch the NBA Finals, don’t tell your coworkers, “I don’t understand why Erik Spoelstra won’t adjust his game plan.” The Sports Gods are intelligent; they take that as an insult.
  3. Denial. No one wants to be known as the “Mush” just like Johnny Depp doesn’t want to be known as “overrated.” But it’s the first step in recovery.  Accepting it allows the “Mush” to open up to the mercy of the Sports Gods (or in Johnny Depp’s case, accepting that he plays the same role in every movie.).

 Everyone has a “Mush” in their group and there isn’t anything less enjoyable than knowing your team has no chance.  It’s like hearing the ending of a movie you wanted to see badly.  Yeah you’ll like it, but what could’ve been a personal top 10 movie becomes as impactful as “Balls of Fury.” (For me, I’m talking “Black Swan” and “The Sixth Sense.”)  There are only a few ways to appease the Sports Gods and save your city and franchises from the curse of the “Mush.” The most effective way is sacrificing them by completely isolating them in any sports situation.  The Gods will not punish those who don’t watch.  Although it’s not recommended but tricking the Gods works also (but there is no data that it works in the long run).  The team the “Mush” roots for will lose so you this example as a guide. Remember, they are in denial so they think their rooting helps the team.

Mush: Who’s playing?

Fan: The Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants

Mush: Go Eagles!

Fan: *slyly* No! I bet on the Giants!

Mush: Oh, GO GIANTS!

Mission accomplished.

It is a lifelong fight, there are more “Benny the Mushes” than we let on.  It’s a crusade that sports fans will have to deal with forever.  There are ways to circumvent the “Mush” but one thing is for certain, it’s an undesirable title.  I am forever fighting an uphill battle because Big Ben has ACCEPTED his title so I forever have to trick the Sports Gods and sacrifice my standing with them in the afterlife.  If the Philadelphia Eagles win a Super Bowl during my lifetime, it was worth it. (Quick note, if you can’t think of a “Mush” in your group then uhm, you’re it.)

Happy Father’s Day, Dad, thank you for everything.

Dirk has Slayed the King, Long Live Michael!

LeBron haters, Michael Jordan lovers, and Magic Johnson advocates rejoice! Scottie Pippen supporters head for the hills! LeBron James, King of the Dragons that have destroyed our villages and terrorized our citizens, has been vanquished by a German knight, Sir Dirk Nowitzki! With his blonde locks that flow from underneath his charcoal colored helmet and a stature that is God-like, he brandished his sword knowing that James had recently eaten Sir Paul Pierce and Sir Derrick Rose, knights from Boston and Chicago. Desperate, King Jordan pleaded that King Cuban send his best because he was his last hope to keep his legacy and empire in-tact! Sir Dirk stood looking at the James, sword unsheathed with no fear in his eyes.  He sliced and stabbed and flailed his mighty Excalibur at James, who accepted defeat and disappeared from the kingdom (or the fourth quarter). King Michael celebrated because his empire was saved and he blinded and banished the traitor Pippen from his kingdom of Chicago, where he will wander aimlessly forever!

Regardless of how ridiculous that analogy was it gets the point across. Yes, Dirk has finally won his championship. Yes, Dirk has earned his status as one of the best shooters in NBA history. Yes, it was against LeBron, the most hated man in sports. Yes, he deserves all of the credit that will be coming to him. Yes, he knew what was at stake and would not be denied. Yes, Jason Terry’s bold idea of getting the Larry O’Brien Trophy on tattooed on his arm turned out to be a motivational blessing than a disaster. Yes, Jason Kidd, one of the top point-guards ever, has finally endured enough failure in the Finals and deserves the title. Yes, Tyson Chandler was the player that helped put the Mavericks over the top because he was the tough inside presence that clogged up the lane for opposing players.  Yes, Rick Carlisle (My friend Steve said he looks like Jim Carrey and now when I see Carlisle I want to scream “LIKE A GLOVE!”) out-coached a useless Erik Spoelstra and adjusted to put the matchup in his favor. (Believe that Spoelstra is a decent coach? It took him 3-and-a-half series for him to realize Mike Bibby is terrible.). Yes, Scottie Pippen’s drug test came back positive. And yes, the Mavericks will not get their due credit because the most pressing question about the NBA Finals is: What the hell happened to LeBron James? Continue reading

Remember Me? It’s Dwyane Wade

Welcome to James’ Kingdom! Wait…that doesn’t sound right.  Welcome to Bosh City! No, that still isn’t it.  Oh wait, I got it now. Welcome to WADE COUNTY!

I believe LeBron James is the best player on EL HEAT, but it is Dwyane Wade’s team.  However, the way they are both playing now best player on the Heat and in the Finals has been Wade.  There’s an argument for Dirk Nowitzki playing through a torn tendon and 102 fever but as for overall, D-Wade has it. (At first I didn’t see the big deal about Dirk having a sinus infection until my friend Bean texted me and said “Dude you have a stuffy nose and a sore throat and you say you’re sick as sh**.” Good point.)

Wade is willing the Heat towards a championship, but the big story is LeBron only scoring eight in game four. (In six Finals appearances, Michael Jordan’s lowest game high total, 22.  Seriously, give me what Pippen is having.) If you turn on ESPN you’ll see LeBron LeBron LeBron LeBron LeBron LeBron LeBron LeBron LeBron. A montage about LeBron, questions on if the minutes he played are finally taking affect and quotes from anchors like “LeBron can’t win even if he wins.” Also you have the likes of Adam Schefter saying that LeBron is going to put up 38 as a redemption game.  If you turn on ESPN you’ll see Dirk Dirk Dirk Dirk Dirk Dirk Dirk, but he has earned it.  He is responding to criticism and basically doing the damn thing.  All he has been getting is praise and love and rightfully so. He hasn’t played better in his career. They’re polar opposites right now.

So why have we basically forgotten about D-Wade? Ironically, it’s because he’s already done it before.  He has a ring AND a Finals MVP and if the Heat win he’ll have two rings and two Finals MVPs (The play that sealed his Finals MVP award was him blocking Tyson Chandler’s dunk then running the floor and making a tough layup.). But he has been overshadowed by two superstars trying to start and solidify their legacies.

It’s been the story all playoffs; LeBron trying to finally fulfill our aspirations of him being the next  Jordan and the constant debates of whether or not he can come up big in the fourth quarter.  He did in the Boston and Chicago series but hasn’t against the Mavericks (the biggest stage). He’s been logging more minutes than anyone in the playoffs and it looks like it’s finally catching up to him (Jordan once played with the flu and dropped 38.). As for Dirk he is trying to finally end the criticisms of him coming up small and being mentally weak in big moments.  This is his last shot to win with this team because of their age so it’s now-or-never.

And yet, where does Dwyane Wade fit in with his glory? He’s the player that most associate with Jordan because of his defense, size, and ability to take over games. He is one of the best defensive guards in the NBA and gets to the basket at will. He has proven that he is a winner with his single-handedly winning of the 2006 Finals against the same Mavericks team. A series in which he averaged 35 points a game and has been rewarded with the greatest Finals performance ever. All he has done in the 2011 Finals is make us feel dumb for forgetting about him, even if it was for a second (Admit it, we all did at one point because he did struggle and LeBron had been lights out before the Finals.).  All he has done this series is average a mediocre 30 and has been the go-to-guy when Bron-Bron did his best Ramona Flowers impression and just disappears. 

The difference between their games right now, LeBron quits and D-Wade steps up.  In game four, LeBron stayed out of the way. Think about it, this isn’t a trend LeBron wants; this is the second time in as many years that he gave up like this.  He is so strong, if Wade can get to the basket, he can.  Who called for the ball, took the ball, drove the lane fearlessly, moved without the ball, and kept the Heat in the game? Dwyane Wade.  Who yelled at Udonis Haslem for bad defense that gave the Mavericks the lead? Dwyane Wade (Tonight when you watch LeBron’s pregame speech to his teammates, listen to the emotion in his voice, it almost sounds forced.).  Whose team is it? Dwyane Wade. Who is playing both sides of the ball better of the two? Dwyane Wade. Who is the Finals MVP if the Heat win? Dwyane Wade.  James is a great player and deserves the credit he will receive, Wade just deserves more right now.

James tweeted today, “Now or Never!!”  If he drops 30 or 40 tonight then he can claw his way back into the minds of basketball fans as a great.  But if he continues down the path he’s been for two years, everyone will abandon his corner, “take their talents” to D-Wade’s and exhale because Jordan’s throne will be safe.

LeBron and Dirk: Who Needs This Ring More?

It should be easy right? LeBron James is the second coming of “His Airness” and needs a championship as soon as possible if he has any shot of fulfilling his nickname of “King James,” right? That is unless you’re Scottie Pippen then you think LeBron’s already better than Michael Jordan. (He hasn’t even past Kobe’s body of work yet so “You can take that to the bank.”)  LeBron also has to win because of the expectations that were placed on him after he went to Miami to join up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. LeBron has to win to finally shut up every tired argument of him abandoning Cleveland and needing a super team to win (MJ’s team was not as good as LeBron’s team is and will be because players are going to join LeBron to try and win a ring. It’s like when you were a kid playing Madden and your starters were Peyton Manning, LaDanian Tomlinson, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens.). Well that was easy; LeBron needs this championship more than Dirk. Not so fast.

Think about the Miami Heat with this in mind; it’s the worse team they’ll ever have while James, Wade, and Bosh are there.  The way the Heat meshed throughout the end of the season and the playoffs and the contracts that expire after this season will open the door for solid free agents to join them. Their defense is suffocating and that’s with stiffs like Mike Bibby and Mike Miller on the team.  All they need is a point-guard and a big man who can score for them and they’ll have everything that is needed to become a dynasty, as long as LeBron doesn’t call Wade, Bosh, and himself the “Three-tles.” (Calling themselves the “Three-tles” finished on the list of “Embarrassing Things I Shouldn’t Have Said” along with Liam Gallagher’s “We will be as big as the Beatles, if not bigger” and Bryon Russell telling Jordan in ’94 “Why’d you quit? You know I could guard you. If I ever see you in a pair of shorts …”) Basically, this year is Dirk’s best chance to win.

No one can deny how well the Dallas Mavericks are playing.  They swept those bum Lakers and handled the Thunder without a real problem.  In Dirk’s last trip to the Finals in 2006, he was a great player but earned his reputation of soft and cracks and under pressure.  In 2011, he added a post-game and is officially unstoppable and I can’t stress it enough, he’s seven-feet-tall, his shot can’t be blocked.  His old reputation has been forgotten because Dirk hasn’t played better in his career.  Jason Kidd, once known as “Ason Kidd” because he had no “J,” has been knocking down threes and hitting daggers.  He’s a good defender and had no problem checking Kevin Durant in the Conference Finals.  He’s the veteran influence that has helped put the Mavericks over the top. Their bench that includes Jason Terry, JJ Barea, and Peja Stojakovic has been the catalyst to their success.  Terry, their sixth-man, is averaging 17 points for the playoffs and 46% (inhuman) from three.  Stojakovic has hit a few threes and contributed and Barea is so quick that he gets to the basket with no problem because of the adjustment from slow Kidd to Barea. (Think of it like a baseball team that is thrown pitches at 75 mph for six innings and then gets thrown pitches at 96 for the last three.)  However, the players that got them there are a bunch of 30-somethings on the downward end of their careers.  Kidd is 38, Stojakovic is 33, and Terry, their second best player, is 33.

With all of these factors, LeBron needs a ring badly, but in the scope of things Dirk needs this more.  He is going to go down as one of the best shooters in NBA history and a ring would just solidify and improve his standing on everyone’s “Best Ever” list.

Dirk Nowitzki is a Baaad Man

To describe Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA Playoffs, especially the Western Conference Finals, as awesome, amazing, spectacular, and exciting are just understatements.  From his ridiculous free-throw percentage to his one-footed-fall away jumpers in the post to his two 40 point games against Oklahoma City can’t be justified by words.  Everyone needs to watch and just enjoy something the NBA has never seen from a seven-footer.  It’s the best story of the playoffs because Dirk finally re-established himself as a top player in the NBA and one of the best shooters all-time. (If you said LeBron and the Heat are a bigger story, disagree. Remember, they’re just playing to expectation.)

If I was to say, “There are two players in the history of the NBA that are once-of-a-kind, freakish, and athletic anomalies. Name them.” Your first answer wouldn’t take long and you would scream LeBron James, but who’s the other? You might say it’s Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlin, or Shaquille O’Neal. You might say it’s Tim Duncan, Bill Russell, or Julius Irving. You might even say it’s Larry Bird or Jesus Shuttlesworth, but you would be wrong on all accounts.  The other guy…is Dirk Nowitzki.

Is Dirk better than all of them? No, and calm the noise to the whole comparison to Bird because his game is nowhere as complete as Larry’s (Bird’s passing, defense, and post-game were too solid.). However, Dirk is something that the NBA has never seen before. As a former hater of Dirk I couldn’t get past my hate to appreciate how good he is.  He can drive the lane, post-up, pull up, knock down threes, run the floor, and he’s an excellent free-throw shooter. Basically, he plays as a 6’4 shooting guard, but don’t forget, HE’S SEVEN FEET TALL. (I hate him, but I really just want to be like Dick Vitale and scream ARE YOU SERIOUS!?).Think of the other top big men in the NBA.  LaMarcus Aldridge and Paul Gasol come to your mind? That’s ironic because Dirk embarrassed them in the first two rounds of the playoffs and has torched more solid defenders in Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison in the Western Conference Finals as the Mavericks beat them in five. (He also hit the dagger three-pointer that finished the comeback and gave them the win.) He started off the series going 12-15 from the field and 24-24 from the free throw line, breaking Paul Pierce’s record for most consecutive free throws made in a game. Of the 39 times he touched the ball, he made 36 shots (Dicky V one more time); His total for game one, 48.

 After the Mavericks came back in game four from a 15-point deficit with five minutes left and Dirk dropped another 40 against the Thunder, the talk about the more popular Chicago Bulls-Miami Heat series has become a whisper compared to the screams about Dirk. His playoff performance has been so amazing that Magic Johnson went from saying that James is his playoff MVP to changing his choice to Dirk only four hours later. If the NBA had an official playoff MVP, it’s hard to disagree with Magic and pick against him. He’s averaged 32 points a game in the West Final and 28 for the playoffs.  Now that the West’s representative is the Mavericks, they’ll wait to see if EL HEAT can close the Eastern Conference Finals against the Bulls tomorrow.  If so, the solid and suffocating team defense will have its work cut-out for them because of the bad matchup against Dirk. Who will be checking Dirk most of the series? Probably Chris Bosh, who is a more finesse player and doesn’t bang in the low post, something Dirk fed off of in Gasol.  Regardless, appreciate what Dirk is doing and be ready for the Finals because it’s going to be awesome, amazing, spectacular, and exciting.