Fourth and Long

Published 10:06 am Friday, June 15, 2012

I try not to write about the same thing week after week.

Despite talking about the NBA playoffs in the last few columns, I would feel amiss if I didn’t at least mention the NBA Finals.

If you are a fan of fast-paced basketball with lots of scoring then this is a dream matchup for you.

Game one went to the Thunder and game two is on while I write this. I always hate it when analysts say that a team really “wants it.” I mean… does any team make the Finals without “wanting it”?

I will say this though, Oklahoma City really wants it. Both of these squads have a plethora of talent and while I think Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks (with the help of assistant Maurice Cheeks) is outcoaching Eric Spoelstra, I don’t necessarily think that has been or will be the difference in any of these games. What has been a difference maker has been the unending fervor of the Oklahoma City fans.

Every time the Thunder get back on defense the Chesapeake Energy Arena is living up to its name and on full charge. They are loud, passionate and inspiring. It may not have a large impact in the first half, however, when both teams are spent in the fourth quarter it appears that the Thunder feed off the energy of their fans.

I don’t normally like to say anything nice about Duke or their players, past or present. I have to admit though that former dookie Shane Battier has played his best basketball of the season here in the Finals. His ability to consistently hit the outside shot has not only helped put points on the board, but has forced Oklahoma City shot blocking machine Serge Ibaka to play him honest out of the paint and has freed up some driving lanes towards the basket.

He is not overly athletic, but plays smart defense and is consistent in his effort. If you are a basketball coach he is exactly the kind if player you want in practice and coming off the bench. If he hadn’t just signed a multi year deal with the Miami I am certain he would be getting one when this series is over.

I can tell you who will not be getting a contract extension… Juwan Howard. He is averaging less than one point per game and a rebound every 10 games here in the playoffs. I’m old and he was playing for NCAA Championships (not winning any, but playing for them all the same) when I was in high school. It’s been 17 years dude, its time to retire.

Before I close out this week’s column I want to “talk” about something that has been bugging me. I don’t understand why some people hate Lebron James so much.

Is it because of all they hype he received? Is it because he left Cleveland and went to Miami? Is it because of that stupid special he had on ESPN (of which the network has received very little to no blame)? I don’t get it.

He is and was hyped because he is one of the best basketball players on the planet. He left Cleveland for Miami because he could and chances are you would too. Its Cleveland and Miami people, where would you rather live?

Yes, his method of announcing his decision to leave Ohio was a dumb one and I bet if he had the chance he would do it differently. He can’t though and lets not forget that his lame special raised half a million dollars for the Boys and Girls club; it wasn’t all bad. Neither is he, people ought to give the guy a break.


David Friedman is a long-time contributor to Roanoke-Chowan Publications. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at