Chat with Chris Sheridan
Chris came to ESPN from the Associated Press where he spent 10 years as the lead NBA writer.
Send your questions now and join Sheridan at 11 a.m. ET to chat!
Chris Sheridan (11:02 AM)
Good morning, and it is a very good morning indeed with the Eastern Conference finals upon us. Myself and Chris Broussard will be double-teaming the East, and Stein and Adande are in the West. I've got Cavs in 5 in this series. But there's plenty else to discuss, too, including the clippers winning the lottery last night to get the much coveted rights to a player they don't need, Blake Griffin, since they're locked into Zach Randolph at that position for the next two years. Should make for some interesting trade discussions leading up to the break. A lot depends on whether Mike Dunleavy returns from Spain with a man-crush on Ricky Rubio. We're also focusing today on the subject of Kobe vs. LeBron. For the record, I'm with Jerry West. I believe LeBron has surpassed him in terms of being the league's No. 1 talent. Let's take it from there ...
Spencer Shreveport, Louisiana
Kobe is better than Lebron....Who do you think taught Lebron the ins and outs of D-fence over the summer time...Kobe DID!!! who is a better jump shooter..Kobe is...Kobe isnt as big The King but he can still drive to the lane and get the call and knock down Clutch free throws....Can Lebron say the same??/
Chris Sheridan (11:06 AM)
Spencer, you've put a lot of the Kobe arguments in a nutshell. But I'll challenge you on the jump shooter part, arguing that LBJ has improved in that area to be Kobe's equal. As for the clutch free throws, well, let's wait and see. He hasn't had to tak ANY in these playoffs, or at the Olympics last year, and let's not forget how the refs swallowed their whistles when he should have had two from the line after Bruce Bowen intentionally fouled him at the end of Game 3 the 2007 Finals. I'd like to see what he can do in that regard, too, and I think the Magic will foul him a lot in this series ... so the chances are higher we'll get to see him on the line with the game in the balance.
I find this debate ridiculous. Comparing the minute differences between elite players serves no purpose. Its like having to go out 10 decimal places to show that two numbers are different, so what's the point?
Chris Sheridan (11:07 AM)
Makes for good discussion, Craig. That's all. Don;t get too worked up about it. We'll leave that to the folks in L.A. and Ohio.
I'm a Cleveland fan and I'm shocked that most don't have this series going 6 or 7. The Cavs have two very good parameter defenders but they main objective of their defense is to make you to take three. One of the Magics strengths. Thoughts?
Chris Sheridan (11:11 AM)
Jeremy, I'd watch for the Cavs to try to tempt the Magic into going inside to Dwight Howard too much. Granted, Z can't defend Dwight as well as Perkins did in the last series, but Dwight isn't exactly fluid in the low post when he tries to score in the set offense, yet he likes to take a lot of shots. If Cleveland can force Dwight into too many low-post touches and give Rafer Alston loads of open space, that'll help keep the ball out o the 3-point sooters' hands. Cleveland has to mix up its usual defense tactics, yes, but they're more than capable of game-planning schemes to deal with all different types of opponents.
Chad (Zanesville, OH)
This debate is really a matter of two questions: Better career? Better right now? You've got to give the nod to Kobe career-wise. He's been around longer, doing some mad great things including the ultimate goal in hoops (thrice). LeBron, though, is by far the all around better player right now. The dude is flat-out-dynamic. Now that he's developed a jumper (that is when he squares up to the cylinder and doesn't fade) he's even scarier than ever. My predictions are that we'll all look back in 4-5 years and give LBJ the 'check' in both of these categories.
Chris Sheridan (11:12 AM)
Well said, Chad.
Steve (unbiasedly from Cleveland)
Just because Kobe motivated Lebron to work harder and become a better defender doesn't automaticaly make Kobe better than him. Rather it makes him a teacher.
Chris Sheridan (11:15 AM)
Good point, because LeBron witnessed Kobe sacrifice his offense for the sake of taking on every opponent"s best offensive player during the Olympics, and in the FIBA Americas tourney. LeBron never has a teammate lead by example like that befiore, and Kobe was very vocal right away about how he wanted to be the lock-down guy for Team USA.
Caleb (Akron, OH)
I went to school just down the road from LeBron, and still run into him 3-4 times a year. So, growing up seeing the way his game has improved this year over all the other years I have seen him play is just plain ridiculous. If he has another development year like he had this I don't believe there will be any more discussion, and it will be plain as day the LeBron beats out Kobe. Kobe is all out fantastic though, and I can't believe that he has been playing with an injury in his hand for most of the year.
Chris Sheridan (11:16 AM)
He played with that broken finger in last year's playoffs and the Olympics, too, let's not forget.
Would you agree that some of LeBron's flaws are over exaggerated? There are many common stereotypes about his game which aren't true.
Chris Sheridan (11:18 AM)
The "clutch free throw" question is totally legit. One of the last times I saw him take two HUGE ones was in Japan at the 2006 Worlds when Greece was getting away from them in the third quarter. He missed 'em both, then 'Melo missed two, then Dwade missed one of two. And bang, they go from being down 9 to down 19.
Owen (Las Piñas, Manila
can't we just savor the moment we have these athletes playing in our generation? CP3 or D-Will? Kobe or LeBron or D-Wade or Melo? Pacquiao or Mayweather or Marquez? Federer or Nadal? can't we just say W-O-W!!
Chris Sheridan (11:20 AM)
Yes, we can do that. And yes, we debate which their relative greatness in a civilized discussion. It's the best of all worlds here in the ESPN chat room, a happy, happy place. (At least until Simmons checks in later and starts discussing the Celtics).
Shayne - NY [via mobile]
Who do you thing the OKC Thunder will take with the 3rd overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft?
Chris Sheridan (11:23 AM)
If Griffin and Rubio are gone, I expect them to trade down rather than take Thabeet. Just a hunch.
Argh! (Sac, CA)
Please take a disappointed Kings fan's question.... Do you feel that the games between Cavs and Magic will be close, particularly @ Cleveland? You say Cavs will win in 5 but Magic won the season series 2-1 by winning lopsided games in Orlando and losing a close one in Cleveland.... why does the Magic seem to play Cleveland so well?
Chris Sheridan (11:26 AM)
You have to outscore the Cavs in order to beat them, and the Magic are a scoring team. They beat you by killing you with 3s and getting second chance opps of Dwight's rebounding prowess. If the Cavs can tak away one of those two _ and it isn't going to be DH's board dominance _ they've already won half the battle. And I think they can take away Hedo, Rashard and Lee's clean 3-point opportunities.
It's not fair to hold the fact that LeBron doesn't have a ring against him. He started on a horrible Cleveland team which he has completly transformed. Kobe started on a team that was already a solid playoff squad.
Chris Sheridan (11:28 AM)
Fair point, but that argument ends when these playoffs end. He's had one chance in the finals already, and he has the best team in the NBA going into this year's final two rounds.
Can someone please put to rest the regular season record?!?! 2007 finals Cleveland SWEPT the Spurs in the regular season. Boy did that turn out well.
Chris Sheridan (11:30 AM)
Amen to that. Lakers swept rockets 4-0 in regular season. That fact wwas referenced a lot prior to the series, not so much on the eve of Game 7.
Phil (Atlanta, GA)
I think it's fair to say everyone agrees that Kobe is the best "closer" in the game. You want him with the ball in the final minutes, taking the final shot. So I don't get it, do people think Kobe is only capable of scoring at minute 47.8? Kobe can score at ANY minute, at any point in the game, because he is that good. He doesn't though because he tries to get his team involved first, and only takes over when he needs to. Which leads to the next point .. people need to stop saying Kobe's cast is superior to Lebron's cast. Lebron has an all-star PG. Take Nash, Parker, CP3, Billups, Deron off their teams, and see where they go. PG's free up the team, allows for more movement, causes defenses to get mixed up, etc. The names on the Lakers' roster looks good, but if you don't have Kobe creating the play, there's no points scored. They would have to hope on 1v1 success of odom, fisher, vujacic, bynum, walton, farmar, etc .. which doesn't usually turn out too well. You take Lebron out, Mo can not only score points himself, he can also create openings for open teammates to knock down shots as well.
Chris Sheridan (11:31 AM)
Another fair Kobe argument, although LBJ closed pretty well that afternoon a couple yars ago at The Palace, didn't he?
bMelt (San Diego, CA)
I am originally from Illinois, and listening to people here in California is completely one sided. No ONE talks about LeBron. Although comparing the two is like comparing superman to superman! But i love talking to my friends from back home rather than the ones here because they are simply "neutral" in the argument. I read all the comments by Jerry West. But all fans in Cali want to do is talk about Kobe's 3 rings (via help of shaq) and how he is clutch. It almost makes me feel like i am a kobe hater, but i am not. Kobe is the greatest player on the planet! (right behind LeBron) any advice to shut these critics up?
Chris Sheridan (11:34 AM)
My advice would be to handle it the way you are handling it. Folks in Cali LOVE Kobe. Folks in Ohio go NUTS when you even raise the possibility that LeBron might leave in 13 1-2 months. It's just a regional thing you have to deal with when living in/visiting/writing about those areas.
Tyler (Hampstead, NH)
Do you think Kobe's surronding cast will step up or will it be up to him to carry the load like he did last night?
Chris Sheridan (11:35 AM)
The Nuggets are not going down quietly. They're going to win three times, Kob will have one or two poor shooting nights, but then Kobe will be the assassin in Game 7.
Will (Canton, OH)
who would be your X-factors for both cleveland and orlando?
Chris Sheridan (11:39 AM)
Courtney Lee for the Magic, because I think Stan VanG will have rafer on a short leash and will use the Lee/Turkoglu duo as his quasi point guard for more minutes than usual. (Stan has already promoted Lee back into the starting lineup over Redick, in case you missed it. For the Cavs, it's gotta be the question of whether Mo Williams is a high percentage shooter, because I think he'll be a high-volume shooter.
when coaches make up strategies on how to stop Lebron, they say make him shoot jumpers. On Kobe, they say just try to slow him down. he's got no flaws in his game. Thats the difference
Chris Sheridan (11:41 AM)
One strategy against LeBron that hasn;t been used a ton is to overfoul him. Send him to the line 26 times, and make him beat you there. Will be interesting to see if Battie, Gortate and Piertus burn fouls to wrap him up if he beats the first defender.
Cavs Lakers finals. Who wins?
Chris Sheridan (11:43 AM)
Right now I'd say Cavs in less than seven. But that's only right now, May 20. Let's see what transpired over the next 10 or so days.
The problem with the Kobe vs. Lebron argument is that people tend to focus only on each player's ability to score. No one can say that Kobe is a better rebounder or passer than Lebron, but that doesn't seem matter when picking the better player.
Chris Sheridan (11:44 AM)
And there you have one of the legit pro-LeBron points.
Is it blasphemy to consider that LeBron might eventually surpass MJ as the greatest player of all time? I think it may be possible from a "basketball" standpoint but MJ's influence in globalizing the sport may not ever be topped...
Chris Sheridan (11:47 AM)
It's a long, long way for any of them to get near Michael. It's not blasphemy, but it is at least a decade too early to begin that debate.
You can try wrapping up Lebron on drives, buthow many 3pt opportunities do you think that will create? How many times have we seen Bron get hacked and still put the follow through in with ease?
Chris Sheridan (11:50 AM)
I'm not saying hack him, because of the very reason you state. I'm saying wrap him up prior to the start of his shooting motion so that he can't follow through. Most teams don;t have the big bodies to do that. But Orlando has some excess in Battie and Gortat.
vince (bakersfield, ca)
Other than Kobe, The Lakers have zero players playing grade A basketball right now.. that's a concern.. and their offense is not "flowing" like earlier this season.
Chris Sheridan (11:53 AM)
Pau Gasol in Game 7 was Grade A. A-plus, really. We'll have to wait and see if Pau has another Game 7 like that up his sleeve when a title of some sort is on the line.
Kobe Bryant grabbed the game-winning rebound against Denver yesterday and he has done this numerous times in his career. Rebounding is also a skill and LeBron's frame cannot be the only argument to why he is a better rebounder than Kobe Bryant. Same goes with passing. Frequency doesn't equal better. Kobe could be averaging similar/equal numbers of assists if the Lakers would be running the same style of offense the Cavs do. I mean it's not like Kobe's having high pick-and-rolls with his PF and every other single member of the lineup standing at the three-point line waiting for a pass to hit an open shot, whenever a defender gets from him.
Chris Sheridan (11:55 AM)
From Lithuania comes a very valid Kobe point. And if Pursuer is like a lot of Lithuanians, he is passionate about basketball.
Chris Sheridan (11:57 AM)
OK, folks. My chat time has expired. I'm turning the room over to Bill Simmons.