Archive for 2010

WATERCOOLER CHAT: LEBRON OVER CLEVELAND, KNICKS HEARTBREAKER, BIG EAST NEW COACHES

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In the NBA, it was Round 2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. LeBron James.  But this time, it was in LeBron’s (new) house.  Round 1 was such an onslaught that the Vegas sports books had the Heat at -18 points.  This means that the Heat have to win the game by 18 points in order for anybody who bet on the Heat to win the bet.  That is one of the highest spreads in many years.  The Cavs had their pride on the line and they came to play.  Daniel Gibson, a guy who was talking trash about LeBron’s departure to Miami, put up 26 points.  In fact, the Cavs were even up at the half.  But, in the second half, Miami turned things around.  Wade led the scoring with 28 points, while LeBron put up 21 of his own to win the game.  Now it’s LeBron 2, Cleveland 0.  Sorry Cleveland fans. Miami 101, Cleveland 95.

Elsewhere in the NBA, the New York Knicks are actually good this year.  They’ve been on a tear lately and that would be put to the test as they hosted the best team in the East:  The Boston Celtics.  And you can believe that Madison Square Garden was packed for this one.  New York is a basketball town, and they are excited that the Knicks are actually good again.  This is largely due to the phenomenal MVP type play of Amar’e Stoudemire. He’s had 8 games in a row of scoring more than 30 points.  Amazing!  The Knicks were ready for the Celtics.  They got out to a big lead, and even led by 7 at half.  In the second, the Celtics came surging back.  Paul Pierce had 32 points on the night, and even hit a terrific shot to put the Celtics up 2 with just 0.4 seconds left.  New York had one last chance.  They inbounded to Amar’e, he launched an off-balance 3, and… GOOD!!!!!!  The crowd went crazy!!!  Unfortunately, the ball didn’t leave his hands until after the buzzer, and it was fairly ruled… NO good.  The Knicks lost a heartbreaker, but on the bright side — these guys can definitely play and compete with the best of them.  Boston 118, New York 116.

FOOTBALL

Finally, in college football, two Big East teams have new coaches.  Two of the powerhouses in the conference, West Virginia and Pitt, were both looking for new captains, and yesterday they found solid ones.  Pitt has tapped Miami of Ohio coach Mike Haywood.  Haywood took a horrible 1-11 Miami (OH) team and turned them around this year to finish 9-4.  They even went 8-1 in conference.  Their losses were at the hands of much stronger teams (like Ohio State).  Given a better recruiting class at Pitt, Haywood should definitely be able to do some damage.  West Virginia was looking for all offense (typically their school has been known for it’s lightning quick offensive game play).  They hired Oklahoma State’s offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen.  Oklahoma State had one of the most explosive offenses this season, and with Holgorsen at the helm in West Virginia, look for them to start putting up 50 point games again.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: NETS PICK IMPROVES TEAM, VIKES FANS TO FREEZE, T.O. MOUTHS OFF AGAIN

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In the NBA, we have another trade this season — a 3-team deal. The New Jersey Nets have agreed to send last year’s lottery pick Terrence Williams to the Houston Rockets.  In return, the Nets will receive Sasha Vujacic from the Lakers as well as two first round draft picks.  The Lakers will get Joe Smith from the Nets.  This trade is mostly about money and clearing cap space down the road, but this is definitely a trade that benefits the Nets.  The Nets intend to move to Brooklyn as soon as possible, and now have a total of 5 first round picks over the next 2 years.  They have a very good young team and hope to improve that team in the off-season.  Look for the Nets to be a contender again very soon.

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, the game between the Bears and the Vikings on Sunday, unfortunately, will not be in Minnesota’s Metrodome.  It simply won’t be ready in time after deflating under the snow this past Sunday.  That means that the game will be played OUTDOORS at the University of Minnesota stadium.  Minnesota in the dead of winter is simply brutal conditions.  Unlike Green Bay, Minnesota fans aren’t used to watching the game in such temperatures.  They’re accustomed to the heated Metrodome.  And it is going to be around 8 degrees on Sunday.  Expect a low-scoring affair between the Bears and Vikes and potentially very low attendance.  It just isn’t the season Minnesota wanted.

Finally, you knew it would happen, you just didn’t know when.  That’s right, Terrell Owens finally had something to say about the Bengals losing season.  The typically vocal Owens has been mum all season with the media.  The Bengals have been on a losing tear, but we still haven’t heard any excuses from Owens.  When signing Owens, coaches and owners are always concerned he will be a locker room disruption and affect overall team chemistry.  When asked on his TV Show, the TOcho Show why the Bengals are doing so poorly, Owens came out and said, “It’s all the coaches fault”.  Now that’s just laughable — can someone scapegoat blame any more blatantly?  The full quote:  “I think there’s underachieving from the top down.  You start with the owner, you start with the coaches. And obviously we as players, we are a product of what the coaches are coaching us throughout the course of the week.  Of course, we have to go out there and play the game. But in order for us to do what we’re allowed to do at the best of our abilities, the coaches have to put the players in the best position.”  This isn’t necessarily a bad point, just a little to much of a public criticism.  Chad Ochocinco added that he was numb to losing since he’s so used to, essentially, not winning in Cincy.  Needless to say, there is a very good chance that TO will be in yet another uniform next season.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: ODD MNF GAMES, LEE TO PHILLIES

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, it was an odd Monday Night Football match-up between the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants.  This game had bizarre written all over it.  On Sunday, the roof of the Metrodome in Minneapolis deflated, forcing the Vikings and Giants to play at a nearby locale on Monday.  That spot:  Ford Field in Detroit.  Not exactly a home game for Minnesota, but they did put Viking decals all over the field.  The fans were lackluster and were just there for “a good time”, not necessarily to root for anyone.  They even did the wave.  Plus, this game marked the end of the most notable streak in sports — Brett Favre‘s continuous starts streak.  Put it in the books, Brett started 297 consecutive football games.  To show you how marvelous that is, the closest active player, Eli Manning, is at 100 straight starts.  Manning would have to start every game until the 2022 season.  Yeah, pretty implausible.  That shows you the kind of iron man Brett is.  The game was rather boring, however, as the Giants simply crushed the Vikings.  NY Giants 21, Minnesota 3.

And in the second game of the evening (the regular Monday Night Game), the Houston Texans played host to the Baltimore Ravens.  The Ravens simply smothered the Texans for most of the game.  Joe Flacco had a great night, tossing 235 yards and 2 touchdowns, and the Ravens defense stifled the Texans Offense, that is… until the 4th quarter.  In a miraculous comeback, Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson caught fire.  This tandem got the Texans back in the game, and then Schaub hit Johnson in the back of the end zone for an amazing TD.  But, they still needed the 2-point conversion.  Noooooo problem, Johnson seemingly jumped 15 feet to pluck the ball out of the air and tie the game.  We’re headed to overtime.  The Texans stopped the Ravens on their first drive, but, unfortunately, the Ravens defense rattled Schaub again, causing him to throw a pick for a touchdown to end the game.  A perfect comeback for a victory was not meant to be.  Tough luck, Texans.  Baltimore 34, Houston 28.

BASEBALL

Finally, out of the baseball world, some VERY surprising news.  The story of the past week has been “Where will Cliff Lee play?”  The top contenders were his current team, the Texas Rangers, and the mighty New York Yankees.  Well, the Yankees were willing to shell out a ton of money for Lee to be their guy over the next decade.  A combo of Lee with Sabathia, the Yankees felt, made them pretty much unbeatable.  The sports talk circuit kept wondering if Lee would trade a more tranquil outdoor life (Texas) for the fast-paced urban lifestyle (New York).  Well, apparently, Lee didn’t want either.  He decided to go to his hometown Philadelphia Phillies.  Lee liked playing in Philly before, has a great rapport with the guys, and know they will be a winning team throughout the decade.  Now, the Phillies have, what you could argue, is the best pitching staff ever assembled.  They have ace Roy Halladay to kick off the line-up, then it’s ace Cliff Lee, followed by superstar Cole Hamels, and the other 2 guys are pretty good too.  Philly will be VERY tough to beat next season.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: SNF EAGLES GET IT DONE, JETS CHEAT, NEW HIRE AT THE U

FOOTBALL

In Sunday Night Football, it was the Philadelphia Eagles heading to play the Dallas Cowboys.  The Cowboys have been on a tear since firing their head coach Wade Phillips and replacing him with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.  These guys may not be playoff bound, but they play every week with a chip on their shoulder.  Even aging quarterback Jon Kitna has been stellar for the Cowboys.  Well, they would have to contain Michal Vick and the red-hot Eagles.  They kept the game close for a while, even taking the lead in the 3rd quarter.   Kitna threw 242 yards and 2 touchdowns.  But, in the end, the Eagles simply know how to get it done.  Vick was amazing yet again with 2 passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown to boot.  And Eagles running-back LeSean McCoy was a beast, posting 149 yards on the ground.  It’s very possible that the Eagles may face off against Vick’s former team, the Atlanta Falcons, in the NFC Championship.  We shall see.  Philadelphia 30, Dallas 27.

Elsewhere in the NFL, some controversy out of New York.  The Jets started off this season strong, but they have been playing horribly the past few weeks.  This was extremely evident during their punishment delivered by the New England Patriots.  They hoped to put that game behind them playing host to the Miami Dolphins.  The Dolphins, oddly, have been playing their best football… on the road.  Well, this game was purely ugly.  Gross performances on offense and defense for both squads.  Santonio Holmes even dropped a wide open pass in the end zone from Mark Sanchez.  It basically seemed that the team that made just one less mistake would win the game.  Since the Jets couldn’t get anything done — they got frustrated.  So frustrated that the sideline coaching staff felt the compulsion to cheat.  In a routine punt, Dolphins special teams player Nolan Carroll was tripped (subtly) by Jets conditioning coach Sal Alosi.  This resulted in an injury to Carroll.  This is putrid behavior and shouldn’t even happen at the High School yet alone professional level.  It’s most likely that Alosi will be fired from the team.  Miami 10, NY Jets 6.

And in college football, the coaching position at the University of Miami (aka The U) has been filled.  After an extensive search, the Hurricanes have found their man to turn the program around.  They hired Temple coach Al Golden to take the reigns.  Golden completely turned around a putrid Temple football program over the past few seasons.  Temple was 1-11 when Golden came around, and over the past two seasons Golden won 17 games.  He even beat a Connecticut team that is headed to play powerhouse Oklahoma in a BCS bowl game.  Miami is hoping that Golden can help bring the Hurricanes back into the conversation for the National Championship.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: MANNING SHARP, MAVS ON FIRE, CELTICS RED HOT,

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, it was Thursday Night Football between the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans.  The Titans have been very disorganized the last few weeks, especially since they lost their quarterback Vince Young.  On the other side, Peyton Manning has been in his own slump.  He has thrown 11 interceptions the last 3 games in three straight losses — a rare thing for the Colts. Manning came out sharp this time around.  He hit Pierre Garcon for 2 touchdowns in the first half, as the Colts jumped out to a 21-0 lead.  The Titans came surging back in the second behind two clutch touchdowns from Kerry Collins to tight-end Bo Scaiffe, but it simply wasn’t enough to catch up to Manning.  He finished the night with 319 yards and 2 TDs.  Oddly, the Colts are going to have to fight to win their playoff spot.  That’s something they’re not used to.  Indianapolis 30, Tennessee 28.

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, the Dallas Mavericks have been on fire lately.  They have won their last 10 games, and looked to make it 11 against the New Jersey Nets.  A big key to the Mavericks success has been their point guard, Jason Kidd.  He’s old, but he’s still got it.  In fact, this was a showdown between Kidd and they guy they traded for Kidd, Devin Harris.  Harris got injured early in the game, falling hard to the ground and leaving with a sprained shoulder.  Kidd had another well-rounded night, putting up 9 points and 8 assists.  These guys are jelling now.  Nowitzki led the way for the Mavs with 21 points and 10 rebounds.  Dallas looks like they could beat any team in the league right now.  Dallas 102, New Jersey 89.

Finally, also in the NBA, the Boston Celtics are the red-hot team in the East right now.  They were trying to protect an 8-game winning streak against the Philadelphia 76ers.  The Sixers started out bad, but have steadily improved.  They have some serious talent from a string of lottery picks, and just need to learn how to play as a team.  Last night was a real test for them playing one of the best “team-ball” squads in the NBA.  The Sixers put up a well-distributed set of points.  Each guy gets their points in an efficient way — that’s what makes the Sixers a dangerous upset pick every night.  But, in the end, the Celtics were just slightly too much.  Ray Allen led the way with 24 points, giving the Celtics their 9th straight win.  But good news, Philly fans:  Your team looks competitive.  Boston 102, Philadelphia 101.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT:HEAT ON HOT STREAK, CLIFF LEE FOR HIRE, URBAN MEYER RETIRING

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In the NBA, LeBron James and the Miami Heat have been on a hot streak lately.  They’ve certainly had some struggling moments this season, but they recently turned it around.  A dominating win against his former team (the Cavs) sure didn’t hurt LeBron’s momentum, and yesterday the Heat were looking for their 6th straight win.  To get it, however, they would have to win on the road in one of the most difficult places to play:  Utah — against a fierce Jazz team.   If the Heat boys could do that, it would be actual proof that they’ve turned things around.  Well, the game stayed close most of the way, but the Heat looked like they were really clicking out there.  In the 4th quarter, LeBron and D-Wade took over the game and led the Heat to a surging victory.  LeBron finished with 33 points and 9 assists, as the Heat finally start to… heat up.  Miami 111, Utah 98.

BASEBALL

The Cliff Lee sweepstakes are on fire right now.  Cliff Lee has basically positioned himself, up to this point, as an “Ace For Hire”.  If you’re a team on the cusp of being good, spend a lot of money on Lee and he will pretty much guarantee you not only a spot in the playoffs, but also some solid wins in the post-season.  Well, the leaders for Lee right now are his current team, the Texas Rangers, the Los Angeles Angels, and, yep, the New York Yankees.  And the Yankees want to put Lee in pinstripes for a while.  So, yesterday, the Yanks offered Lee a 6-year $140 million contract.  They’re clearly serious, and want, as always, to be prominently featured in the post-season.  We’ll see what Lee decides.

FOOTBALL

Finally, in college football, it’s the end of an era.  Citing that he wants to spend more time with his family, Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer has decided to step down.  It wasn’t even a guarantee that Meyer would coach this year, as he battled with health problems in the off-season.  He did come back, but Florida had a lackluster season at best.  This year certainly wasn’t status quo for the Gators, who have loomed in the Top 10 or 5 in the nation the last few seasons.  This is most notably due to Meyer, who led the Gators to a National Championship, and also Meyer’s relationship with the college football Hall of Fame player Tim Tebow.  Meyer’s exit signals that Florida may in transition for a year or two.  Although, knowing that program, they should be back on their feet in no time.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: BCS SYSTEM UNDER ATTACK, WANNSTEDT STEPPING DOWN,HAYNESWORTH SUSPENDED

FOOTBALL

In college football, the Bowl selections came out this past weekend.  Auburn will face Oregon for the BCS National Championship.  But a team that was in the running all season, Boise State, has seemingly been punished for losing a game.  Instead of taking on one of the other powerhouse teams, their loss to Nevada earned them a date with #20 Utah, a team that started hot, and has been steadily declining. Yesterday Boise State’s President lambasted the BCS system because there was an error that put Boise State at #11, when it should have been #10.  This didn’t really have an effect on their final bowl placement, but Boise’s president was mad that an error like this could even happen.  He says that the NCAA is always on them for being transparent, but they keep the inner-workings of the BCS system, a system with a lot of money attached, under wraps.  This was just his outrage at Boise’s disappointing end, but he does have a point.

Elsewhere in college football, a long-time coach is stepping down.  The Pitt Panthers have enjoyed a great deal of success under Dave Wannstedt, but they have been sub-par the past few seasons.  He coached the Eagles star running-back LeSean McCoy, and the star Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.  And this was supposed to be their big comeback year.  They were expected to compete to win the Big East.  Plus, they had a Heisman candidate in running-back Dion Lewis.  Unfortunately, they lost their opening game to Utah, and it was pretty much a bumpy ride the rest of the way.  The Pitt Athletic Program has opted to remove Wannstedt now before their Compass Bowl Game.  This is because they want to recruit a solid coach now as opposed to after the new year, as many top coaches will have been hired by then.  Good luck to Pittsburgh — they deserve to have a good program.

Finally, in the NFL, the Washington Redskins have simply… had enough of Albert Haynesworth.  Haynesworth was brought to D.C. from Tennessee by Redskins owner Dan Snyder.  Snyder paid him $100 million dollars, a contract that had almost everybody shaking their head.  And from Day 1, Haynesworth didn’t want to be there.  This year, when new head coach Mike Shanahan took over, he wanted to change to a 3-4 defensive scheme.  Well, Haynesworth didn’t like this scheme, and was thus very difficult to deal with in the locker room.  He refused to practice and was disruptive to the team.  Now, with just 4 games remaining, the Washington Redskins have decided to suspend Haynesworth for the season.  The official reason cited:  “conduct detrimental to the club”.  This is almost a guarantee that Haynesworth will be in another jersey next season.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: LOPSIDED MNF, MNF LEGEND PASSES, BRONCOS FIRE COACH, HEISMAN CANDIDATES, BCS BOWLS

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, it was the top two teams in the AFC East on Monday Night Football. The battle of two 9 -2 teams, The New England Patriots and The New York Jets.  It was the matchup of two quarterbacks always in the spotlight in Tom Brady and Mark Sanchez. It was what promised to be the game of the week, perhaps even game of the year. How could it not live up to the hype?

Well, it turned out to be one of the most lopsided games of the year. The Tom Brady show put on a production of 326 yards and four touchdowns leading him to his NFL record 26th straight win at home. From the very beginning New England was in the drivers seat and had control of the game ending the first quarter up 17 – 0. Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez coiled up when the bright Monday Night Lights were burning the brightest. Ending the game with 164 yards passing and three interceptions proved that Mark Sanchez is not ready to take the next step in becoming an elite NFL quarterback. But, the story of the game was not only the quarterbacks and their offenses, but also the reversal of roles the defenses had. The Jets defense, which has been known this year to wreak havoc on opposing offenses allowed 45 points, whereas The Patriots defense, who has been ranked in the bottom five of total defenses came up with a huge statement, allowing only three points and causing four turnovers. With the win, New England looks to be in good shape to make the playoffs and New York needs to bounce back next week against Miami. New England 45, New York 3

And in honor of Monday Night Football, longtime Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith and original Monday Night Football personality has passed away at the age of 72.

Also in the NFL, The Denver Broncos have fired head coach Josh McDaniels. This comes after Denver was found guilty of taping a 49ers’ walk through practice. Running backs coach Eric Studesville will be taking over as the interim head coach. McDaniels is not even half way through his four-year contract. Now, Denver will have to pay three head coaches over the next year, because of Mike Shanahan’s contract. There was no logical successor for the position and what was once seen, as a prestigious NFL head coaching position, now seems just like any other job in the NFL.

In college football, the finalists for the Heisman trophy, the nation’s most outstanding player, have been announced. And they are… drum roll please…Oregon’s LaMichael James, Stanford’s Andrew Luck, Auburn’s Cam Newton, and Boise State’s Kellen Moore.

This past weekend also was a part of college football’s BCS bowl announcements. The National championship between the Oregon Ducks and the Auburn Tigers will feature the two favorite Heisman trophy candidates. The other BCS bowl games that will be occurring are Stanford versus Virginia Tech in the Orange bowl. The Tostitos Fiesta bowl is home to the Oklahoma Sooners and the University of Connecticut.  The Rose bowl will feature the Wisconsin Badgers versus TCU. And finally, the Sugar bowl will be a battle between Arkansas and Ohio State.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: LEBRON SILENCES CROWD, FIFA NEXT TWO LOCALES

BASKETBALL

Thursday night, LeBron James made his return to Cleveland.  This has been one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year.  In the pre-game show, the commentators said that the arena had more energy than a game from the NBA Finals.  There was emotion in the building, and, of course, bad vibes.  When LeBron came out of the tunnel, he was met by a chorus of “boos”.  But LeBron did make his first field goal to silence the crowd for a bit.  The game stayed close for a quarter, but then it was just all Miami Heat the rest of the way.  The Cavs just couldn’t keep up.  And in the 4th quarter, LeBron shifted into a different gear, smacking the Cavs for 23 points in the 4th quarter alone.  There was no fairy tale underdog here.  LeBron clearly showed that he’s all about winning now, and didn’t even make one ‘thank you’ acknowledgment to the fans.  Miami 118, Cleveland 90.

SOCCER

Some news out of the soccer world.  FIFA has named the locales for two more World Cups.  As we learned earlier this year, Rio De Janeiro will host in 2014.  And yesterday we learned that Russia will host in 2018, and an unlikely country will host in 2022:  Quatar.  Quatar has risen to prominence in the past 40 years on oil money.  While their population is smaller than Houston, TX, they will have the money and ability to build the stadiums and accommodations necessary to host a World Cup.  Sure, it’s a little early to start thinking about 2022 World Cup, but it’s always intriguing to see which country will get a gigantic boost to their economy with one of the biggest tournaments in sports.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: KOBE SCORING ENOUGH, CLIPPERS PULLED UPSET, LEBRON’S RETURN TO CLEVELAND

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There is much to discuss in the NBA.  First up, the Los Angeles Lakers have lost 3 straight games.  This is certainly not the Lakers style.  They hoped to avoid a 4th straight loss which hasn’t happened since April 2007.  Fortunately, all they had to do was beat a struggling Houston Rockets team.  Easy, right?  Um, not really.  Houston came out ready.  Kevin Martin was red hot last night with 22 points, and Shane Battier helped him out with another 17.  Kobe led all scoring for the Lakers with 27 points, but it simply wasn’t enough as the Rockets edged the defending champs.  After the game, a frustrated Kobe said, “Are we going to win a three-peat today? Probably not, but the (expletive) is not played today.”  Clearly, Kobe is quite fumed about the Lakers current play, but this is usually the time when he gets the team in gear and they go on a winning streak.  Houston 109, LA Lakers 99.

Elsewhere in the NBA, the NBA’s worst team, Los Angeles Clippers, hosted the NBA’s best team, the San Antonio Spurs.  This one was supposed to be an easy win for the Spurs.  Just get in and out of LA with a win.  Unfortunately for San Antonio, the Clip-Show was ready, namely their superstar rookie sensation Blake Griffin.  Griffin was an absolute monster last night.  He had 31 points and 13 rebounds, and it also actually looked like the Clippers were jelling as a team (you have to in order to beat a great team like the Spurs).  And wouldn’t you know it — the Clippers pulled an upset.  Maybe they’re not so bad after all.  A few more weeks to practice playing as a cohesive unit, and they might even make a push to the playoffs.  LA Clippers 90, San Antonio 85.

Finally, Thursday is one of the most anticipated match-ups of the season, if not the last 5 years.  Yep, it’s time for… LeBron’s return to Cleveland.  And you can bet that the Cleveland fans are ready to boooooooo him right out of the stadium.  At the same time, this is a very important game for LeBron.  If he loses, he will never hear the end of it.  Also, it doesn’t look like he’s going to hold anything back.  He said he intends to do his pre-game ritual at the scorer’s table where he claps baby powder together and tosses it into the air.  This was his signature trademark while in Cleveland, but now fans will have to watch him do it in a Heat jersey.  The Cavaliers owner, however, has said he won’t allow any “Anti-LeBron” garb into the stadium.  He wants it to be a peaceful evening of fun — nothing violent or nasty.  This should be a night to remember.

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