What’s Wrong With The Cavaliers?

By Gregory Powell and Lamar Battle
What is going on with the once powerful Cleveland Cavaliers, losers of the last three games (most recently to the ninth place Chicago Bulls) and  have slipped out of first place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
I spoke with writer and pod cast contributor Gregory Powell to get his thoughts on his beloved Lebron James and the Cavaliers.
What follows is a pretty thorough breakdown of what ails the Cavs and delivered at a scatter gun pace:
1. I said when the Kevin Love trade was made that LeBron would get a title but might have cost himself a dynasty.
2. J.R. Smith is lost, Kevin Love can’t jump, Deron really can’t jump, Frye is just a shooter, Kyrie can’t play point. Tristan Thompson is being sapped by kryptonite, Imam can’t shoot and all Korver can do is shoot.
Tyron Lue is speaking of secret plans and Golden State just beat the Rockets and Spurs in back to back games on the road.
And nobody plays defense which puts LeBron in the familiar position of having to be the Black Panther for the team to have any chance at all.
3. The team is helpless when LeBron is off the floor and I suspect he was having some Boobie Gibson flashbacks last night against the Bulls.
One of those wild ass teams from the east could take the Cavs out if LeBron isn’t superhuman.  I’m thinking most likely the Washington Wizards though the Boston Celtics will be tough too.
The question remains, will the Cavs have enough left for the NBA
finals?
4. Big problem, when the Cavs go small they play slow and by the way they have no center.
Let me add it was nice to see Bron pass Wilt on the all time scoring list but classless of the Bulls to not acknowledge it at all.
Of course the King is still quite capable of making me eat my words…you know…like last year.
5. The Cavs need to get younger bigger and quicker. No wonder LeBron was yelling for another play maker.
In the off season the Cavs better get rid of all those cast offs and old guys and find some athletes and shooters.
They better plan for LeBrons  golden years before he spends them in LA.
Mr. Powell, why don’t you tell us how you really feel about the Cavaliers?
Let the playoffs begin.
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Dempsey Willard, A Coach Who Gives Back To The Community.

 

By Lamar Battle
Former Saint Paul College student Dempsey Willard (Class Of 76) Has made quite the name for himself in Chicago coaching circles.
The Whitney Young High School boys and girls head coach has achieved success on and off the tennis court by putting the needs of his students first and plain old fashioned hard work.
The Remnant Magazine caught up with Coach Willard and his wife Toni to talk about his career and the influences that have propelled him.
RM:  First off, It’s good to see you again.  How are things since your days playing basketball at SPC ?
DW:  Good to see you to my brother, I am doing well and I am eternally grateful for what Saint Paul’s College has done for me.
RM:  I remember you as a basketball player, how did you get started in tennis?
DW:  Well during my time teaching in Virginia (Elementary Education Major)  I made lasting friendships with some of the business leaders in Lawrenceville V.A.
After winning a bet with one of the business owners I decided to give tennis a try.
I spent time in Richmond V.A. playing and working with the tennis coach O.G.Walker, credited for working with and helping Arthur Ashe.
I also traveled to Maryland where I played against NBA star in the making John Lucas, who also  happened to be an outstanding tennis player.
After graduation I took a teaching position in Chesterfield V.A. while while coaching three teams and eventually I earned my certification as a tennis pro.
RM:  Do you have any coaching influences?
DW:  Moses Gollatt, James Price and Pernell Sims.
RM:  You mentioned Saint Paul’s College, What are some of your memories in terms of how Saint Paul’s prepared you?
DW:  Most all I learned how to get along with others, to be worldly but most importantly to view all of life as an opportunity to always grow and learn.
One thing I will always remember is the impact religion professor Father Easley had on me especially when as part of an assignment in his  class I completed a paper on Infinity which I learned later explains tennis to a degree as a sport that utilizes continuous motion.
RM:  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this year you coached teams that finished 2nd and 4th in the State.  You were also the 1st African American in State history to win Coach of the Year, keeping that in mind how do you prepare your teams to compete?
DW:  I would lead by example by always being prepared and on time.  I also utilized my captains to the fullest.
RM:  Would you say that during your time at Whitney Young High School here in Chicago that you have received the support you needed?
DW:  Yes, when I served as an assistant to head coach Ed Cruzat the tradition of winning was established.  Principle Joyce Kenner has always been there with support and assistance.  Parents like Will Hobert have never failed to provide support and I have to also credit people like Kamau Murray of the Excess Foundation for Inner City Youth.
 There have been many others but none more important than my lovely wife Toni who is always there for me. Toni has helped me through tough times with her love and affection.
RM:   Do you see tennis as a growing sport in the inner city?
DW:  I really hope so and I am doing all that I can to raise awareness and participation in the sport.
RM:   Can you provide an example?
DW:   Well, Ed Cruzat and I always made a practice to bring on any kid that was interested in tennis.  We never told a kid no and to a large degree we experienced a lot of success in developing our young people on and off the court.
I also strongly believe in education and growth so I take every opportunity to learn and develop myself as a coach and role model.
RM:  Any thoughts on the violence that impacts the lives of young people in Chicago and around the Nation?
DW:  The violence makes me sad and I wish that I could do more but we cannot overlook the impact of social media in the lives and choices of our children.
RM:   Let me ask a couple of closing questions?  Who was the best player you ever coached?
DW:  Gabby Moore.
RM:  Why ?
DW:  Because of her heart and desire.
RM:  Do you still play yourself?
DW:  I do, in a 40 and older league and I provide individual lessons.
RM:  Federer or Nedal?
DW:  Federer.
RM:   Why?
DW:  He plays the whole court and he has the heart of a champion.
RM:   As an individual who puts it all on the line for others I guess you would know.
DW:  Thank you.
Reprinted courtesy of the Remnant Magazine.

Who Is The NBA’s 2016-17 MVP ?

By Lamar Battle,
Note to all the purist out there, Lebron James will not be considered in what I believe is a two player race.
Like Micheal Jordan before him there is a school of thought suggesting that Cleveland’s James could win the award every year. However the contest takes into consideration the player most valuable to his particular team and not necessarily the best player in the league.
Who are they?
James Harden, Houston Rockets:
Already the best shooting guard in the league Harden has exploded under new coach Mike D’Antoni who installed a system that utilizes Harden’s natural abilities to the fullest.
Playing the point guard position Harden has powered the Rockets to 3rd best record in the NBA’s formidable Western Conference.
Harden averages 29.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg and a league leading 11.0 apg.
Those numbers combined with ten triple doubles and a recent victory   where Harden out dueled Cleveland’s LeBron James make him the odds on favorite to win the award.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder:
How can one vote against a man on the verge of breaking the supposed unbreakable record held by NBA demi-god Oscar Robertson who averaged a triple double ( double figures in any statistical category, in this case; points,rebounds and assist.) for an entire NBA season?
Westbrook is within eight more triple doubles of surpassing a record (41) that no one has even come close to, up to now.
His season averages up to this point are 31.7 ppg, 10.7 rpg and 10.4 apg.
The Thunder, ( currently 6th place in the Western Conference ) came within one game of beating the Golden State Warriors (winners themselves of 73 games ) in last seasons playoffs.
Since that time Thunder star Kevin Durant left the Thunder to join the Warriors for this season and more or less left the Thunder in the hands of Westbrook who re-signed with the team.
The Verdict ?
James Harden headlines a team matched perfectly to his skill set, they run, spread the floor and shoot three point shots.
Harden is masterful as the maestro who orchestrates every thing including the odds of this team upsetting the entire apple cart and winning this seasons championship.
Russell Westbrook is UN-relenting in aggression and intensity.
He astounds even casual observers who marvel at his fearlessness and  refusal to take even a play off, let alone a game.
So who wins?
James Harden seems to at this point have a slight edge according to most observers but I would like to employ what I would like to call the (Hoiberg Metric).
Allow Chicago Bulls head basketball coach Fred Hoiberg (nothing personal) to coach the Rockets for a few games and then the Thunder for the same.
The player still thriving at the end of this episode would be the one truly able to adapt to any program and your 2016-17 NBA MVP. (See Photo)
Photo by Layne Murdock / Getty Images.

NBA 2016-17 Mid Season Rankings

By Lamar Battle

joel-embiid

Can we say without a doubt that Cleveland and Golden State will meet again for the NBA Title this year?
Well, probably not, but don’t bet the mortgage money against it happening for a 3rd straight year.
How are the challengers shaping up? Check out these rankings of the top ten teams in the NBA at this point of the season.
1. Golden State Warriors-41-7:
 Sporting the top record and win margin the Warriors are starting to look like the team to beat as they addressed size issues with the addition of Zaza Pachulia (brawn) and Javale McGee (length). The Warriors could be on track for some serious history making.
2. San Antonio Spurs-36-11:
With only four games in the lost column separating them just like last season the Spurs are hanging close to the Warriors. The Spurs are big but the Warriors are fast. Only time will tell.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers-32-14:
Don’t let that slight mid season swoon fool you. When the lights come on the Cavs will be ready. The addition of sharpshooter Kyle Korver(36.8-3pt%) will pay huge dividends. However, the size advantage that the Cavs enjoyed last is negated with the absence of Timofey Mozgov.  Tristan Thompson is an absolute beast on the offensive boards but at the end of the day he is still an undersized power forward.  And so is Kevin Love.
4. Houston Rockets-35-16:
Talk about a marriage made in Vegas? The pairing of an athletic three point shooting roster with the father of the pace and space offense is potentially a first round playoff nightmare for somebody.
5.Toronto Raptors-29-19:
Can the Raptors overthrow the Cavs? …Well no, but here are a couple of things they can do.
Develop a low post series of plays around underutilized center Jonas Valenciunas and Change their name to the Toronto Huskies.
Nothing like a identity and uniform change to get the juices flowing.
6. L.A. Clippers-30-18:
 
Many feel that the window has shut for this team that can’t seem to escape the injury bug. Just when star Power Forward Blake Griffin returns Star point guard Chris Paul goes out with an injury all while the Warriors may have assembled with the recent acquisition of Kevin Durant a dynasty for the next three to four years.
Clipper Nation, hope that the proposed deal for Knick’s forward Carmelo goes through to at least make things interesting.
7. Utah Jazz-30-19:
 
Steady improvement by building through the draft and timely free agent pickups have put the Jazz right in the middle of the Western Conference race.
First time All Star Gordon Haywood leads this young and defensively solid (95.5 OPPG) team.
8. OKC Thunder-28-20:
 The Thunder will go as far as team star/leader/cyborg Russell Westbrook will take them which will probably be as far as the second round of the playoffs.  One interesting side note will be Westbrook’s pursuit of history as he attempts to match Hall Of Famer Oscar Robertson’s feat of averaging a triple double for the season.
Memphis Grizzlies-28-21:
 
Everybody pretty much gave up on the Grizzlies for the usual reasons; Too old and plodding.  We should have known any team with a top shelf point guard and center would always be in the mix..The Grizzlies could be a dark horse in the west.
10. Atlanta Hawks-28-20:
 
After starting slowly the Hawks have rebounded to 4th place in the east. All Star Paul Milsap is the real deal and the no frills leader of this team. Look for a second round loss to the Cavaliers.
Photo courtesy of SI.com. and The new big thing aka  Joel “The Process” Embiid.

The Dialectic Relativity

By Gregory Powell

 

In these last days, I got a praise

Now we shocked out malaise, that darken our days

I’m a resurrect-or so I raise, pulling my ass out the grave

Where I been a slave in a hopeful haze

But now the mask off the beast from the west to the east

That strong Black love provokes dogs off they leash

But I’m gonna reach and preach for my release

Gonna beseech and teach to get my people free

Seek God and pray and fight

when they come for me

Hopefully I don’t get hung up a tree

If I do my sons I did it for you

And all the people darker than blue

I’ll intrude into the multitude

Of the abused but not confused

Where all God’s children got shoes

Witnesses against devils, iron rebels

Of whips and chains and wicked brains

Police bullet rain, wet blood stain

I take the pain convert to gain

Strain to attain the freedom train

In these last days I got a praise

For my peoples we got to raise

We been played, justice delayed

Like Jesus flayed, lost souls strayed

The dead walking like a fucking parade

Distracted to destructed by toxic charade

Wake the fuck up, the prophetic tirade

Nation bleeds death under band aid

Over souls of saints who prayed

Forgive me, I’m saved, but I’m irate

The death of hope for united state

Idiot dictator primed to dictate

Dollar fascists perpetrate

Take the streets and demonstrate

Take your power agitate

Raise a nation and make it great

Like Muhammad a heavyweight

Float like butterfly sting like bee

Get the nigga’s off the tree

Snatch the blind and make them see

Save the souls and make them free

Raise the babies love your mate

Prison systems eradicate

Revolution orchestrate

We got to set this shit straight,

cause I can’t relate

I can’t relate

I can’t relate

In these last days I got a praise

Coming out complacent haze

Systems to raze, so my flow raves

Dead to raise from they graves

I blaze trails so I’m a trailblazer

Holy Ghost armor to repel the Taser

I’m a crazier praiser, a stepping razor

I serve Savior, I a demon slayer

Iron like Zion Lion; I don’t waver

Marinade your skull with liberation flavor

Time to refine the mind for the grind

Eat the meat of the melon not the rind

Spirit nourishment to unbind

Demand demons get thee behind

Illusions burn and loot

Kingdom of God on earth reboot

My lyrics are loaded: aim, shoot

Decapitate the hate down to the root

Bring in the harvest of strange fruit

Freedom fighter field negro recruits

Overcome the ruse that abuses

Polit-Pimps confuse the losers

The bible says Satan the accuser

Drive by sniper in  a blue cruiser

My drum beat is an automatic

Pop goes down the autocratic

Slap back the racist static

Tone to the bone to chill the erratic

Refuse to lose I keeps the battle at it

Djembe loaded aim fire rat ti tat it

Beat your soul into a zone of ecstatic

In these last days I got a praise

Molded clay, focusing my ways

Fighting for right is my delight

My soul is bright my flow skin tight

God my might, he is the light

I got no fright, I own the night

I bloom in blight, I strive to fight

Alive in stride, on air I glide

The wind I ride to turn the tide

Bomber said run but you can’t hide

Trying to save you from suicide

I am local not nation wide

I unleash souls who seek to hide

I rescue minds from demonic pride

I explode local but blast world wide

My fish is fried, got peace inside

I make the enemy petrified

I keeps my God glorified

I’m so high I stretch the sky

I never die, you wonder why?

Cause I got to praise these last days

I’m out the grave, the ex-slave

Lazarus stepping out slavers cave

Justice I crave, and so I rave

Down the hate,

cause I can’t relate

I can’t relate

I can’t relate

Gregory Powell is a free lance writer.

Photo courtesy of Time Magazine/ Getty Images.


Stephan Curry And The Warriors Prepare For A return To Glory

By  Lamar Battle

 

After the devastating loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in last seasons finals, one that saw the Golden State Warriors give up a 3 to 1 series lead  ( The first time in Finals history) before falling to the Cleveland Cavaliers the Warriors have made improvements in their quest to win their second NBA crown.
The most notable improvement comes in the form of first team all NBA player Kevin Durant who joins the team this season as a free agent.
In most circles Kevin Durant is considered to be the second or third best player in the world depending on who you are talking to.
The Warriors added Durant after winning an astounding 73 games the season to eclipse the Chicago Bulls all time winning record of 72-10.
Adding Kevin Durant to a lineup featuring Stephen Curry ( 45.2 on three pointers 2016-17) and sharpshooter Klay Thompson ( 42.5 on three pointers 2016-17) all but establishes the Warriors as contenders to win the NBA 2016-17 title.
More Than A Shooter:
One must admit that the Warriors are loaded for sure but when the smoke clears Steph Curry will still be the straw that stirs the drink and  LeBron James biggest rival.
As fate would have it mis-timed ankle and knee injuries as well as an auto-response ailment afflicting the foot of teammate Draymond Green prevented Steph and the Warriors from capping off a perfect season with a championship in 2015-16.
Stephen Curry, always underestimated due to his size 6′ 3″ and weight 190 pounds has added muscle to his frame over the summer and can now bench press 300 pounds ten times. ( The weight training may be a result of LeBron James manhandling him during the Finals).
The averages of 30.1 points pg, 5.4 assist pg and 6.9 rebounds pg (2016-17) are impressive enough but consider he was the  2x league MVP, 3x NBA All Star, 2x All NBA first team, 4x three point field goals leader, 2x free throw percentage leader and NBA steals leader (2015).
 However, taking into account this  list of achievements Stephan Curry still has the  ability to make his teammates better through example and humility.
We should recall that this is the same player who led tiny Davidson University to an Elite Eight birth in the NCAA tournament.
 Stephan has also made such an impact on the league that more and more teams are adjusting offensive approaches to address the growing trend of increased three point shooting.
The NBA boast players that are now more than ever speaking out on the behalf of the under-served while donating to charitable causes.
Stephen Curry is no different as he donates three insecticide treated mosquito nets to the United Nations Nothing but Nets program for every three point shot made.
Curry has met with President Obama and addressed dignitaries as part of the President’s Malaria initiative.
The married father of two daughters has left no room for doubt when it comes to his faith as evidenced during his MVP acceptance speech where he said:
” People should know who I represent and why I am who I am, and that’s because of my Lord and Savior”.
The Golden State Warriors are indeed blessed to have this player, a role model for young people and a great player who is evolving into an even greater leader.