LeBron Returns Home To Cleveland; Leaves Miami Heat To Re-Join Cavs

NBA: LeBron James makes it official; releases a personal letter explaining why he’s returning back home to play for Cleveland:

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LeBron releases announcement letter via Sports Illustrated

Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can. My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.

Remember when I was sitting up there at the Boys & Girls Club in 2010? I was thinking, This is really tough. I could feel it. I was leaving something I had spent a long time creating. If I had to do it all over again, I’d obviously do things differently, but I’d still have left. Miami, for me, has been almost like college for other kids. These past four years helped raise me into who I am. I became a better player and a better man. I learned from a franchise that had been where I wanted to go. I will always think of Miami as my second home. Without the experiences I had there, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today.

I went to Miami because of D-Wade and CB. We made sacrifices to keep UD. I loved becoming a big bro to Rio. I believed we could do something magical if we came together. And that’s exactly what we did! The hardest thing to leave is what I built with those guys. I’ve talked to some of them and will talk to others. Nothing will ever change what we accomplished. We are brothers for life. I also want to thank Micky Arison and Pat Riley for giving me an amazing four years.

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Teams With Superstar Max Players Like LeBron Face Obstacles Under New CBA

Grantland’s Zach Lowe on the complexities the Miami Heat face in keeping their expensive Big 3 under new financial landscape:

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In a time of hushed meetings and amorphous potential offers, the Rockets have transformed a thought exercise into a real thing by presenting Chris Bosh a concrete choice: take a pay cut to stay in Miami, or earn your full maximum salary over a four-year deal in Houston.

It’s not quite the ideal test case for a new collective bargaining agreement designed with perhaps one eye on engineering “competitive balance” by making it harder for teams to retain superstar clusters. Adam Silver trumpeted that catchphrase every chance he got during the 2011 lockout, but the league’s primary goal during that torturous offseason was to transfer cash from players to owners.

Silver is sincere in his desire for greater parity, and the easiest path to achieving it is to prevent in-their-prime superstars from teaming up. The new CBA attempted to do that by installing a super-harsh luxury tax. Spend a lot on players, and you’re going to face a crippling tax penalty that gets more severe as you add payroll. Superstars are expensive to sign and even more expensive to keep; the tax was crafted to make the “keeping” part prohibitive.

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NBA Draft Recap: Team By Team Picks, Grades, Trades and Top Storylines

Wiggins goes No.1 to Cavs, Jabari No.2 to Bucks, Embiid No.3 to Sixers; NBA Draft grades after a busy and entertaining NBA Draft:

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Via Yahoo Sports:

Readers will notice a fair amount of very good grades in our take on the 2014 NBA draft. This is because the league’s front offices are getting smarter, scouting is becoming more advanced and this is one of the deeper drafts in NBA history. It’s early, but we think these marks were earned.

Onto the grades …

Atlanta Hawks

The haul: Adreian Payne, Walter Tavares, Lamar Patterson

Hawks general manager Danny Ferry has yet to put together a championship contender in Atlanta, but he’s done well to secure low-cost talent while avoiding some (or, all, really) of the financial mistakes made by his predecessors. The loss of Al Horford to injury in 2013-14 turned Atlanta’s season on its ear, and while Payne is nowhere near the sort of contributor the former All-Star is, his ability to spread the floor while playing competently on the other end will fit in with a team that likes to do its damage from the perimeter. Finding a go-to backup and spot starter at No. 15 was good news. Read the rest of this entry

San Antonio Spurs Win 5th NBA Title Routing The Miami Heat In 5 Games

NBA Finals: Tim Duncan’s Spurs avenge last seasons NBA Finals loss to Miami by defeating the Heat to win another NBA Title:

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Via NY Times:

SAN ANTONIO — The arena rumbled. It was only the first half on Sunday night, but there was already a growing sense of inevitability with each passing possession. Having withstood the best that LeBron James could offer, the Spurs were closing in on another championship.

Tim Duncan backed down an opponent before throwing in a baby hook. Manu Ginobili raced end to end for an emphatic dunk that nearly blew the top off AT&T Center. And James, the Miami Heat’s resident superstar and the best player on the planet, was rendered powerless by the Spurs’ slow march to history.

With their 104-87 win in Game 5 of the N.B.A. finals, the Spurs celebrated their fifth championship in 16 seasons as black-and-silver confetti fell from the rafters. San Antonio turned the series into a coronation by winning four of five games, including the last three, with the bonus of snuffing Miami’s well-publicized quest for a third straight title in the process.

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A Busy NBA Finals Off Day Down In Miami With Boxing Legend Mike Tyson

Sports Media World and Sports Illustrated connect on a feature on Boxing Legend Mike Tyson in Miami Beach during the NBA Finals:

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MIAMI — Archeologists recently discovered the remnants of an ancient Native American civilization in downtown Miami. Surrounded by towering, glittering buildings, whatever is left of the Tequestas, whose history dates back thousands of years, has slowly been uncovered. The findings have included portions of a village and even a burial ground, which the Miami Herald reported was destroyed to make way for a hotel long ago. The discoveries have slowed development projects, as city officials decide how to proceed while weighing this history against the future.

Just minutes from one of these sites, Mike Tyson plops down on a brown couch in a Brickell high-rise condominium. The 47-year-old Tyson happens to know a thing or two about buried skeletons, and he admits that he can feel the tug from the past as he tries to craft a new, functional life after retiring from boxing eight years ago.

Nevertheless, he is plowing forward in earnest with his latest venture as the frontman, namesake and promoter for Iron Mike Productions, which is staging made-for-TV fights. His fingerprints are all over the new company’s efforts, from selecting the matchups, to mentoring the younger fighters, to attending the events to generate buzz, to leveraging his name to land national television broadcasts. Read the rest of this entry

NBA Finals Preview: The San Antonio Spurs vs Miami Heat Rematch

CBS Sports NBA with a NBA Finals preview as the defending champion Miami Heat face the veteran Spurs once again:

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With the San Antonio Spurs winning the Western Conference Finals in six games a day after the Miami Heat wrapped up the East in six, we’re about to get a rematch of one of the greatest NBA Finals we’ve ever seen just one year after it happened. The Spurs are making back-to-back NBA Finals appearances for the first time in franchise history, and the Heat are looking to complete a three-peat for the first time since the 2000-02 Lakers.

What do we have in store for this 2013 Finals sequel? Let’s take a quick look ahead to what the series will look like:

Season series: The Heat and Spurs split the season series 1-1. Read the rest of this entry

NBA: Regular Season Rest Has DWade Healthy In Quest For Miami Heat 3-Peat

USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt on Miami’s smart strategy resting D-Wade during the season and keeping him fresh for another title run: 

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MIAMI — Dwyane Wade was being Dwyane Wade, catching a pass from LeBron James, Euro-stepping to the basket right past the Indiana Pacers’ Evan Turner and launching a bank shot high off the glass and over the stretched-out left arm of seven-footer Roy Hibbert for two points.

Driving to the basket, posting up, making jump shots and guarding Indiana’s Paul George — this is what the Miami Heat are getting from their 10-time All Star against the Pacers. These are all things that weren’t possible last season because of a knee injury.

With Wade healthy, the complexion of the 2014 NBA playoffs has changed. His performance — obviously combined with the brilliant play of James — is why the Heat don’t look so ready to relinquish the title.

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NBA Draft Is June 26th, Cleveland Cavs Land No.1 Overall Pick Again; NBA Pre-Draft Combine Highlights From Chicago

Video highlights of some of the notable NBA Draft Prospects who participated at the recent NBA Pre-Draft Combine in Chicago:

2014 NBA Draft Lottery Top 10 Picks: 1) Cavs, 2) Bucks, 3) Sixers, 4) Magic, 5) Jazz, 6) Celtics, 7) Lakers, 8) Kings, 9) Hornets, 10) Sixers

Combine video courtesy of the NBA

Steve Kerr Bypasses Phil Jackson’s Knicks To Accept Warriors Vacancy

TNT Sports Analyst Steve Kerr won’t join Ex-Coach Phil Jackson in New York, accepts Warriors five year $25M coaching offer: 

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Via NY Times:

Steve Kerr stunned the Knicks on Wednesday by agreeing to a deal to become the coach of the Golden State Warriors.

Phil Jackson, the Knicks’ new president, had been chasing Kerr for weeks to fill the vacancy left by Mike Woodson, whom Jackson fired last month. Jackson and Kerr, 48, have a longstanding relationship dating to their time together with the Chicago Bulls, with whom Kerr won three championships as a player.

But in recent days, Kerr was wooed by the Warriors, who were searching to replace the recently dismissed Mark Jackson, and Kerr confirmed in a text message that he had taken the job. He agreed to a five-year deal worth $25 million.

The Warriors are a more talented team than the Knicks, with a solid core of young players like Stephen Curry. As such, Golden State could be the more promising place for Kerr to begin his coaching career.

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NFL Draft: Recapping The Best Picks By Each Team After An Exciting NFL Draft

Taking a closer look at some of the best draft picks and overall value by each team after a very busy 2014 NFL Draft: 

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Via ESPN Insider: After looking through each team’s draft board, these choices stood out as being the best based on what each player brings to the table, how he fits with his new team and where he was drafted in the order (and also who else was available at the time).

Here are my favorite picks of all 32 teams, plus plenty of thoughts on some of the other choices I did or didn’t like for each.

Baltimore Ravens
Round 3 (79): Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State

I could have gone with C.J. Mosley, who was the best player on the board when the Ravens took him at No. 17 overall, and is an NFL-ready player who will be a playmaker behind the Ravens’ big defensive front.

But I decided to go with Brooks here, as I think he was a steal in the third round and could develop into an every-down starter for Baltimore given his physicality near the line and range in coverage. He’s always around the football.

Timmy Jernigan, drafted at No. 48 in the second round, is a good player, but I don’t totally understand his fit as a 1-technique. He won’t provide much as a pass rusher, and he comes with some character baggage.

Buffalo Bills
Rd. 1 (4): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson (from CLE)

It came at a high cost (a 2015 first-rounder in the trade with Cleveland to move up from No. 9 to No. 4), but the Bills got the most dynamic offensive playmaker in this draft — and the best wide receiver prospect since A.J. Green — in Watkins. They are going to need to surround second-year QB EJ Manuel with great players to give him a chance to succeed, and in Watkins he will have a true No. 1 target. Read the rest of this entry