Jordan vs. LeBron: The Intersection of American Culture & NBA Clutch Performance

The unparalleled love for NBA superstars that perform in the clutch is unlike anything else in sports. Kobe Bryant’s one-on-one style in the closing moments of games was heir to Michael Jordan’s legendary finishing blows. Their emphatic fist pumps and rousing chest pounds are etched into our collective sports consciousness. We never forget grand finishes capped by an athlete's unwillingness to lose. Fans eat it up—and understandably so. Our romanticization of such impressive individual achievements is deeply ingrained into American culture. There is something so perfectly American in this easily digestible action of a single player "winning a game." We love things that are impressive and simple. I believe this provides insight into our reverence of NBA players that singlehandedly perform well in the clutch. That is, until LeBron James came along.

LeBron did not fit the mold. Here is a 6’8” 250-pound beast who can do virtually anything he wants on a basketball court. Unlike anyone else, he scores and plays defense while orchestrating and executing like a coach. His physical stature and play mirror everything that we traditionally admire. And yet, many find his game unsatisfying. He looks and feels like he should be a Jordan- or Kobe-type and yet he self-identifies and plays more like Magic Johnson. He “passes too much.” Somehow the future Hall-of-Famer, who has mastered the game on a level never seen before, is criticized for how he plays the game. The tension is palpable in how we idealize success through traditional masculinity and how many players (and coaches) in the newer generations approach a game's final moments. The undying love for the Jordan/Kobe-style singular determination is battling it out against a team-first LeBron-style strategy. Old school vs. new school.

Here's how I articulated my feelings in another one of those Kobe/Jordan/LeBron conversations recently with a couple friends: We need to identify and answer a few simple questions regarding the desired outcome of end-game situations. 1) What’s the goal at the end of the game? (Hit shots.) 2) What’s the best way to do that? (Get a high percentage shot.) 3 How do you get a high percentage shot? (Create one for yourself or someone else.)

A great closer wins games. The false equivalence of winning games as an individual to winning games as a team is mistaken. “Putting the ball in the hoop” is the goal—it doesn’t matter who does it. In fact, the goal of a leader in any field should be to achieve a desired outcome no matter who receives credit. A leader recognizes the strengths (and weaknesses) of all team members and puts the team in the best position to succeed. The pass that leads to the shot doesn’t lead to the same glory, chest pounding, or snarling face of victory that does a one-on-one buzzer beater. Kids don’t grow up on the driveways of America pretending to pass to teammates in the best position to hit a shot or layup. We chant “3…2…1…” and launch a fade-away shot as time expires to the invisible crowd going wild. It’s the American Dream in a moment.

The irony, which I am more than happy to acknowledge, is the imperfection in equating last second shots to team success. There are 48 minutes in a regulation basketball game, so for me to examine the final 24 seconds as the only important ones would be to oversimplify the complexity of the path to success. Nonetheless, I think there is something to be said for LeBron’s success in the recent decade and a half where specialization and NBA talent has made it harder for repeat champions to occur. In the past few years, the Golden State Warriors are another excellent example of optimizing the new-school approach to success (read: wins and championships). Despite relying strictly on one of two of the best shooters of all time, Curry and Klay, or two of the best scorers, Durant and Curry, the Steve Kerr offense always looks for the best shot. The team with the best individual talent somehow also leads the league in assists. Even in the Mark Jackson era, one of the shots that has stuck with me was a Jarrett Jack to Draymond Green layup to win the game vs. the LeBron Miami Heat. That shot featured Steph Curry and Klay Thompson on the floor.

Yes, Kyrie’s shot in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals will immortalize him in a moment. Yes, Michael and Kobe fans praise their end-game tenacity. But more recently, the evolution of basketball has trended toward a LeBron/Warriors-style approach to win. The slow turn towards using five players to win a game instead of one is gaining acceptance. Superstars know that they can win one-on-one battles, but when it becomes one-on-three or more… It’s time to acknowledge the goal is to win as a team not always as an individual. Appreciating grit and determination should be praised and yet not synonymous with the strategic pursuit of success.

Useful Food for NBA Players That You Should Know

Basketball is may seem more of a fun game but truth be told; this is a strenuous sport full of jumping and frequent sprinting. Additionally, the sessions have short breaks and the body needs to have enough stamina, power, and energy to avoid breakdown. According to one player, while exercises and the use of enhancement gear like the one sold at is necessary, diet is the key to performance. NBA players use a highly regulated diet by their nutrition experts and the coaches.

Basic diet rules for NBA players

Whether the nutritionist is there or not, the players are guided by some rules which they never abandon as long as they are active members of a basketball club. One of the guidelines is that their diet must have low fat but have a high carb to provide the high amount of energy. It is highly recommended that they eat whole grains carbs which also provide fiber to the body. The poultry should be skinless while the red meat should be lean. Health fats from nuts and avocado are also recommended.

The breakfast

It is the fuel NBA stars needs for the whole day training or playing. There is a business of high-carb breakfast for the right energy. Bread like a bagel, vegetable-rich scrambled eggs and high-fiber cereals are to the list for the players. When it comes to dairies, low-fat milk is the best in this case. Fruits like berries, apples, and bananas also make a good breakfast accompaniment.

The snacks

NBA players are allowed to eat snacks at mid-morning. The essence is to keep the energy level up for the activities ahead. Instead of protein bars which most players in other categories use, the NBA players use whole foods as snacks. Popular snacks include nut buttes, yogurt, nuts, cheese and salami just to mention but a few. Apart from being a mid-morning snack, the players can have it whenever they are hungry.


The paleo-like diet is the main emphasis for lunch where players avoid any processed carbs. Therefore, it is crucial for them to have chicken and other poultry without the skin, lean meat without fat, vegetables, pasta and brown rice. Leafy and other vegetable salads also top the list of the lunch foods. Fruits are the recommended as the best dessert rather than the cakes and simple carbs sweets.


Dinner is the meal reserved for recovery of muscles and replenishing of the energy stores after a long day playing or exercising. Therefore, the diet is more focused on proteins and carbs. A great example is a grilled poultry meat or lean beef, potatoes or rice and salads. Most nutritionists will also recommend low-fat milk before you sleep.


Whether it is breakfast, dinner or any other time, drinking water and fruit juices are very important. The body of an NBA player must remain hydrated at all times. The nutritionist may also recommend various energy drinks which boost energy fast especially during a match break or exercises. Water is the primary recommended drink one should keep closer to themselves.

NBA Finals 2017: Warriors vs. Cavs, Irresistible Force Vs. Immovable Presence

For the first time in basketball history, the same two teams will meet in the NBA Finals for three consecutive years. This trend may not cease anytime soon – both squads appear to have the personnel needed to face each other in the championships for another couple of years.
Over the past three seasons, the Warriors have morphed into an irresistible force, growing deadlier with Kevin Durant in the fold. Golden State became the first team to win 65-plus games three years in a row, outperforming peak regular season Jordan, and nearly winning their second straight ring last year.

Their only rival dominates the Eastern Conference. LeBron James has been an immovable presence, representing the Eastern Conference in the finals for his seventh straight year, earning three rings in the process. Despite his fourteen years in the association, LeBron has been playing his finest ball of his career.

With a combined playoff record of 24-1 during the first three rounds of the playoffs, even the best NBA odds gurus will have a difficult time anticipating the lines, spreads and over/unders for the 2017 NBA Finals. When an immovable presence like LeBron meets the irresistible force of the Warriors, the only certainty is that one of these teams will win another ring.

Elder LeBron Shouldn't Be This Good

After the ridiculous number of hard minutes LeBron has logged over the years, King James has somehow managed to play his best basketball over the past few years with Cleveland, peaking with his current playoff performance.

The lack of respect that he's displayed against the Eastern Conference isn't personal, it's business. He knows that nobody can guard him and doesn't waste time pretending otherwise. Feigning beer consumption on court while clowning bigs like Serge Ibaka and Kelly Olynyk happens to be part of the strategy.


Cleveland has spent the past couple of years surrounding James with experienced shooters to maximize the threat of LeBron’s incredible passing, most recently adding Kyle Korver and Deron Williams to the bench. Tristan Thompson is the only player who doesn't have the ability to hit shots from deep – his role’s the rim. Over three years, LeBron and Kyrie have grown their chemistry on the pick and roll to psychic levels.

This often forces defenders to scramble when the King and Uncle Drew gain a half step of separation, with at least two shooters on the perimeter and a crashing Thompson ready to dunk anything tossed at the rim. Cleveland's offense can be next to impossible to stop when James and Kyrie orchestrate like a pair of maestros. During the playoffs, the Cavs start playing defense too, which makes them unbeatable in the east.


Curry and Durant: Deadliest Shooting Force In History

Steph Curry has averaged 28.6 points during the 2017 playoffs at a 50-40-90 clip - the best in his career. Kevin Durant has dropped 25.2 PPG during the Warriors perfect run to the finals, shooting 55.6 percent from the field and 41.7% from deep. KD’s free throw rate of 87.1% leaves this duo only a few percentage points of being the only 50-40-90 combo in NBA playoff history.
The fact that they combine for 53.8 PPG so efficiently glosses over the rest of the lineup. Draymond Green has made himself into a triple-double threat while maintaining cred as an annual defensive player of the year candidate. Klay Thompson might freak out and drop a 20-point quarter at any moment, and the bench has sneaky depth, including Andre Igoudala as one of the best sixth men in the league.

A Historic Rivalry

Durant joining the Warriors cemented Golden State as the superpower of the era, while King James has already carved himself into basketball’s Mount Rushmore. The Cleveland Cavaliers against the Golden State Warriors could soon be crowned the best rivalry the NBA has ever witnessed. Enjoy it while it lasts.

(Golden State in six)

2017 Eastern Conference Finals: Does Isaiah Thomas’ Absence Improve the Celtics’ Chances Against the Cavaliers?

Many things became clear after the Celtics’ Game 3 victory of 111 – 108 against the Cavaliers, a game which has lessened Cleveland’s domination of a 2 – 0 lead to 2 – 1 in the finals for the Eastern Conference.  
Firstly, without LeBron James playing his best game, the Cavaliers really struggle. Second, Marcus Smart can be relied on to provide a hefty contribution to the points total. Thirdly, Jonas Jerebko should have played more minutes for the Celtics, as the team was in desperate need for his ability to rebound, and make shots. And, last but not least, the Celtics are a different team without Isaiah Thomas.

A Complicated Answer

Are the Celtics a better team when playing without Isaiah Thomas, who is said to be badly missing his team? He has been a sensational player over the course of this season, and will finish with at least a 5th position on voters’ ballots for Most Valuable Player. He has proven without a doubt that he is one of the league’s best scorers over a phenomenal series of plays, but the game changes when one takes into account the matchups, the roster, and the playoffs.
His absence has definitely changed things, but not necessarily for either better or worse. In fact, this occurrence may well end up benefitting his team.

The Celtics are Playing Differently
In this game, the Celtics pushed the pace, managed to get into their sets more quickly, and did not get bogged down with their superstar player’s constant dribbles of the ball. They were forced to move the ball more quickly, because no one was going to be able to make an isolation play. Punters who enjoy online betting NZ basketball options certainly sat up and took notice of this difference in play, as changes like this can mean the difference between a winning and losing wager.

On the side of defensive playing, the difference in the Celtics’ game was even more pronounced. While Cleveland played exceptionally well in the game’s first half, it was unsustainable, and the Celtics changed their game. They were not faced with massive mismatches, nor were they required to over-help, and they stepped up with a defensive rating of 93.6 during the 2nd half. This is even more exceptional when one compares this to the rating of 132 in Game 2.

The Changes are as Clear as Night and Day
The ball moved far more often, and it was the Celtics accomplishing this, as they managed time and time again to get ahead of Cleveland’s rotations. While these outlier performances will likely not hold, this does show that the team from Boston managed to play in a manner that called for far more interesting setups. However they perform in the 4th and 5th games, it won’t change the way they played this one.

This is also what happens when a star player is no longer available, and has been shown before with Kawhi Leonard and the Western Conference semi-finals against the Rockets. Having to deal with a team that no longer has a star player present demands a change in approach, and the Warriors’ win in the 2nd Game of the Western Conference Finals should actually be held as more impressive than it was. It is much more difficult to get up for games like this, and this fact has been proven time and time again.

2017 March Madness: Top Seeds and Facts

After much speculation and anticipation, Selection Sunday has yielded the brackets for the 2017 March Madness tournament. This year, there’s a relative lack of controversy in terms of seeding, other than the underwhelming seeds given to teams like Wichita State and West Virginia state. Considering trends for 2017, Duke receiving a two-seed doesn’t stir up too much trouble among most fans either.

With the path to the championship made clear, college basketball bracketology has begun in earnest, with millions of fans chasing the perfect championship bracket. Depending on your chosen method of mathematical analysis, statisticians believe that the chances of predicting the entire tournament are as low as 1 in 9.2 quintillion, and as high as 1 in 128 billion. Considering that less than one percent of bracketologists have predicted the path to the Final Four in the past six years, it’s almost guaranteed that your bracket will be devastated before the sweet sixteen, including an upset of a couple of these top seeds.

Villanova - Approximate Odds: 15-2

One of the greatest runs to the championship in NCAA basketball history, the Villanova Wildcats earned the best point differential for a winner in March Madness history. They also enjoyed the first-ever three-point buzzer beater in championship history to secure their first win in 31 years.  The Wildcats have been awarded top seed for their continued excellence this year, as well as their incredible performance during 2016 March Madness. An instant classic, last year’s championship game was among the most exciting ever witnessed.

Josh Hart and championship shot maker Kris Jenkins are the marquee names leading the Wildcats, who thrive off of teamwork and experience. Even better, Villanova appears to be kicking it into high gear at the right time, beating most challengers through superior defense. Despite the fact that North Carolina and Duke are considered the favorites according to the odds, there’s no doubt that Villanova will represent a tough out for Duke, assuming the two schools meet in the elite eight.

Kansas - Approximate Odds: 8-1

Kansas has once again earned a top seed based on their regular season dominance of the Big 12. True to recent pattern, this top seeding hasn’t helped them make inroads during championship season, as they lost in an 85-82 shocker against TCU. Fatigue, the absence of Josh Jackson and refereeing were discussed as the scapegoats, but any top ranked team which gives up 85 points needs to consider their defensive effort first and foremost.

The Jawhawks have been one of the most underwhelming top seeds over their 13 consecutive regular season conference titles. Despite named top seed seven times and number two seed twice since 2005, Kansas has made only two Final Fours. They’ve been upset before the semifinals six times by squads ranked 7-14, and have lost against lower seeds nine times in the past 11 years. As usual, Kansas is loaded with top end prospects, but has to overcome inexperience and controversy to fulfill the promise of their talent.

North Carolina – Approximate Odds: 6-1

The internet was flooded with the tears of the “Crying Jordan” meme after the Tar Heels helplessly watched a three splash at the buzzer. Seconds earlier, it appeared that Marcus Paige had managed to salvage extra time with an incredible shot of his own, which was promptly erased by Kris Jenkins historic winner. Despite the devastation of such a close loss, North Carolina’s program has responded admirably, landing as the third seed overall, and the top seed in the east with a 31-3 record.
One of the top basketball programs on an annual basis, the Tar Heels look to build on a lengthy tradition of superb performances, including 48 tournament appearances, 19 Final Fours and five NCAA National Championships. Justin Jackson returns to the tournament as the ACC Player of the Year, and will attempt to showcase his newfound three-point range while lifting his squad to a championship.

Gonzaga - Approximate Odds: 10-1

The Bulldogs have made a giant leap into the top level of elite seeds, ranking fourth overall and leading the west as the number one seed. Last year, they were ranked 11th in the Midwest, and managed to make some noise by taking out the sixth seed Seton Hall, and the third seed Utah, before running into Syracuse, who would go on to make the final four.

This year, Gonzaga has made waves in the NCAA by earning the best record in Division I men’s basketball, winning 32 games and losing a head-scratcher to the BYU Cougars. Popular opinion about Zags tends to veer towards the Bulldogs as overachievers who haven’t dealt with a lot of adversity, which undermines the fact that this squad has hustled hard to build a reputation. Gonzaga may not have the high-end talent that other colleges boast, but their dedication to teamwork and defense readies them for a relatively easy path to the Final Four.

NCAA March Madness Top Seeds Trends

Appropriately, top seeds dominate the NCAA Men’s Division I championship tournament. With few exceptions, at least one top seed makes it to the Final Four. More often than not, two number one seeds make it to the semi-finals. On the other hand, the Final Four almost never consists of four top seeds, which means that it’s more than likely for one of 2017’s best ranked teams to end up on the wrong side of history. March Madness is famous partly because of the monumental upsets that derail even the biggest contenders, making it nearly impossible for fans and experts to fill out a perfect bracket.

Nevertheless, a number one seed has won 19 championships out of 30 finals appearances, compared to second seeds, which have won five championships in 12 appearances since 1985. In terms of Final Fours, top ranked teams have made it 52 times while second seeded teams have made 28 tournament semi-finals. For the 2017 tournament, Duke, Kentucky, UCLA and Arizona stand out as significant challengers on the way to the Final Four. You shouldn’t expect a 16th seed to beat a 1st seed to start the bracket, but just about anything else is possible in a one-and-done tournament format.

A Closer Look at the Kyle Korver to Cleveland Cavaliers Trade

Kyle Korver is likely headed from the Atlanta Hawks to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a trade that make an already dangerous Cavs team even more lethal. While Korver doesn't take many shots from inside the arc, he is a career 42.9 percent shooter from three-point range. Combined with Kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith, Cleveland now has the firepower to go shot-for-shot with Golden State.

What This Trade Means for Cleveland

For now, it looks like Korver is going to replace Mike Dunleavy in the rotation while also stepping in while J.R. Smith is out with a thumb injury. The best part for the Cavs is that they aren't giving up a whole lot to get one of the top players on a playoff team. Reports say that Cleveland is sending a future first-round pick, Mike Dunleavy and some spare parts for Korver.

What This Trade Means for Atlanta

Atlanta is currently fourth in the Eastern Conference. However, the Hawks trading away on one of their top scorers could indicate that they don't feel good about staying there. It is thought that Paul Millsap could be next on the trading block, but it isn't currently clear if there is a suitor for him at the moment. While there is some speculation that Toronto may trade for him, there likely wouldn't enough room to pay both him and DeMar DeRozan next year.

What This Trade Means for the Rest of the NBA

Golden State is surely going to be interested in any move that the Cavaliers make. It is possible that they will try to make a move to match them whether they go out to get another scorer or try to get another defensive specialist to shut Korver down. However, it may be tough for the Warriors to make a move because they lack salary cap space.

In the immediate future, a fall by the Hawks could be good news for teams such as the Wizards or Knicks who are on the fringes on the playoff race. If the Hawks fall, they could be there to take their spot. In the event that Toronto does get Paul Millsap from Atlanta, they may be able to pose a significant challenge to the Cavs this spring.

With the acquisition of Kyle Korver, the rich get richer in the NBA. While it certainly isn't as big of a move as the Warriors picking up Kevin Durant, Cleveland got one of the best players on the market. In addition to improving their own roster, they have set in motion a series of events that could shake-up the NBA landscape this year and for years to come.


Article written by Adam Hayes