Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Irrational hate of Larry Hughes

I may have become one of those fans. Maybe I have crossed the line over to the dark side. For it is quite possible that even if Larry Hughes scored 30 points a game and averaged a triple double for the rest of February, I would still swear at him every time he checked into a game in the fourth quarter.

It is completely irrational to hate a player who should be a major component on one of your hometown teams. And honestly it is not about the money. It is not Larry Hughes’ fault that the Cavs agreed to pay him what they pay him. And it is not my money.

Over the last week or so, I have seen comments about how Larry Hughes has played well in the last few games. There have been games where he made more than half his shots when his season average is in the lower thirties. There has been mention of his defense.

And still when it is the fourth quarter and he is in the game, I swear out loud. And every time he pulls up for a shot, I cringe. If one of his jumpers actually falls in, I am amazed.

I am not sure what he could do to win me over.

Why don’t I like Larry Hughes?

It starts with my view of him as Rec player. What does that mean? To me it means, Larry is all about his shot. He thinks he is better than he is, so he chucks up any shot that he can. The man has no conscience. He never remembers a bad shot and he honestly believes that the next one will go in. It doesn’t matter what the numbers say, if he thinks he has a shot- he is taking it. In other words, he honestly believes his low percentage shot is better than anyone else taking a shot. And yet Larry Hughes plays on a team with LeBron James, Z and a youngster in Boobie Gibson whose three-point percentage is among the tops in the league.

I keep hearing how the Cavs are better when Larry plays the point even though he wants to be the shooting guard. Like he is a team player sacrificing his game. Well, that really isn’t true. LeBron is point guard. Sure when there is no pressure, Larry will dribble the ball up but that doesn’t make him the point guard. In most close games or if the Cavs are trailing in the fourth quarter- Larry Hughes in on the bench. Why because Boobie and Damon Jones are better outside shooters and Devin Brown and Ira Newble are stronger defenders.

It bothers me that people think Larry Hughes is a good defender. He isn’t. Does he make some good defensive plays? Yes, yes he does but ask any coach if that makes a good defensive player. In my opinion, Larry Hughes spends more time and effort looking like he is a good defender than actually being one. What do I mean by that? He muscles up or move his feet and arms but to what end. Most of the time if the man Larry is guarding wants to move forward, he can and does. If the man wants to pull up and get off a jump shot, he can and does.

Larry Hughes is obviously talented. Everyone in the NBA is. Anyone in the NBA is capable of having impressive moments. But overall, Hughes depresses the crap out of me. And maybe it is because the Cavs have had success with him out of the lineup. Maybe it is his laid-back attitude that makes it seem like he doesn’t care if he wins or loses. Maybe it is his lack of a conscience on taking bad shot after bad shot. Or maybe it is because he is one the player who LeBron James has not made better.

Seriously- think about that. How has Z’s career had a rebirth? How has Drew Gooden despite some brain-farts become a valuable asset? How has Boobie gone from a little used backup with a weird nickname to a playoff hero and all-star weekend three-point contestant? Why did Anderson Varejao’s agent think he could get double digit millions for a guy with no natural offensive skills. The Cavs, with a roster no one else wants, made the NBA finals and yet Larry Hughes now with three years on his belt playing with LeBron has regressed. I keep hearing how Hughes just is not a good fit for the Cavs. How can anyone not find a way to fit in with a man who can get him an NBA ring?

Think on that for a while. What does that say about someone?

I know Larry Hughes is not going anywhere. No one wants his contract. Hughes really could only play for Wizards, Suns, Warriors and maybe the Knicks. He needs a team where he can run and gun and not worry about missed shots. His defensive assets are really just cheap steals and taking chances. It makes no sense to boo him. It makes no sense to hope for hangnail so he can sit out a month. But that is how I feel. I want him to change my mind. I want him to prove me wrong. I just don’t see it happening.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Bowl Bliss

It was 2001 and the nation was still reeling from being attacked on its own soil. And if deemed by fate, a scrappy bunch of no-names rebounded from a 1-3 and the loss of their starting quarterback to shock the heavily favored St. Louis Rams and win the Super Bowl. The Patriots were all about team. We were told over and over- they were everything that was right about sports. In 2001, outside of St. Louis, just about everyone was pulling for New England.

Their head coach was a genius- maybe the best of all-time. He won two Super Bowls for Bill Parcells with his defensive game plans. He took a team that appeared without ego and won three Super Bowls himself. He attached himself to a rookie who became Joe Montana reborn.

And flash-forward to the 2007 season, it is hard not to infuse sports metaphor with the country’s sense of itself. In 2001, for many the war against terror appeared right and just. Those who questioned President Bush were questioned themselves. Just ask the Dixie Chicks how a brief off the cuff comment on a stage in London affected their income and fan base. Now it turns out that the reports and research that got the country into a war in Iraq weren’t true. And now it appears Bill Belichick may have cheated to win that Super Bowl against the Rams. It also puts doubts of the Patriots being the hardest working team as real.

Today in 2008, outside of New England, not many were pulling for the Patriots. What was once good and pure had turned ugly. The Patriots may have been cheaters. They liked to run up the score. They were arrogant and no longer what was right about sports. And yet here they were on the brink of perfection and about to be crowned the best team of all-time.

I told myself before the game, I would not get emotionally involved. That didn’t last through the first quarter. In the middle of the fourth quarter and the Giants ahead 10-7, I was filled with dread. I was worried this would be another almost and Brady would lead the Patriots to victory and sure enough they marched down the field and scored a touchdown. And of all people, Randy Moss – one of the poster boys of what is wrong with sports- caught the go-ahead touchdown.

And then Eli Manning pulled his Houdini escape and lofted a pass to David Tyree- and this kid nearly no one had heard of- made a catch that could surpass Lynn Swann as the most famous in Super Bowl history.

And somehow and someway, the Giants knocked off the juggernaut. My faith in sports temporarily restored. I celebrated a Super Bowl win that could only be matched if the Browns themselves would win one.

Football is just football and metaphoring to war is silly I know, but for one night it was fun to see arrogance slapped around and brought to its knees.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Bowl pre thoughts

(I apolgize in advance-- the spellcheck is not working and I am too late to care)

Predictions for all intents and purposes are meaningless. The only Super Bowl prediction ever remembered is Joe Namath's in Super Bowl III. While the bravado earned Broadway Joe the Hall of Fame, the truth is the Jets defense and the Colts mistakes is what won the game.

Today I will be half heartedly pulling for the Giants. It is tough to imagine getting excited for a New York team to win-- let alone considering anything from Gotham being an underdog but something has to stop this Boston sports juggernaut. History is important to me and I really don't want it to be written by a Coach who helped kill the Browns and a quarterback from Michigan.

I know Belichick is a genius. And I know his failure here helped shape his greatness. He had to be humbled first and he gave up a lot to be the best coach in the history of the NFL. He lost his family, he surrendered personal skills and it appears all sense of ethics in order to win. You have to begrudgingly tip your cap to someone who sacrifices almost everything to win. Not many people can do that.

The Super Bowl to me in my life has almost always been a disappointment. The Browns have never played in one. And although the odds every year are a coin-flip, I can't remember a year where the team I wanted to win actaully did. You would think the year the Steelers lost would have been a good year but the Cowboys were so hateable as well. I went into that game thinking I would cheer for the AFC team and put aside my differences. It took two plays and I couldn't do it. I turned it off.

I know there are Patroit apologists everywhere. That the whole cheating scandal was no big deal because everyone does it. And that is the same logic, steriod apologist use. Everyone was cheating. Well, I don't beleive that. I am sure more NFL teams than the Patroits cheated- just like more than the guys in the Mitchell Report cheated. But not everyone cheated. And while maybe you could argue that winning should come at all costs-- not everyone is willing to drop their beliefs to win. Some argue that the cheating infraction happened in the first half of the first game and has nothing to do with the perfect season. This season has been Belichick's tour of victory but his past has put a cloud over what should be the NFL's finest moment.

While I hope for the upset, a large part of me expects a cornation tonight. The Mount Rushmore of Coaches and Quarterbacks will have two faces firmly and forever etched. If life was just then the Giants would win tonight. History will be stalled if not stopped and Boston will learn some humilty. The local paper has already sold copies of a book about the Perfect season, the Patriots have trademarked 19-0 and plans to interuppt election day on Tuesday so Brady can be in the parade before heading to Hawaii. That arrogance should be punished.

But we all know life is not fair let alone just.