Dennis Loo

Sometimes asking for the impossible is the only realistic path

Dennis Loo

Dennis Loo
Los Angeles, California,
December 31
Professor of Sociology
Cal Poly Pomona
Author of Globalization and the Demolition of Society; Co-Editor/Author of Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney, World Can't Wait Steering Committee Member, co-author of "Crimes Are Crimes, No Matter Who Does Them" statement, dog and fruit tree lover. Published poet. Winner of the Alfred R. Lindesmith Award, Project Censored Award and the Nation Magazine's Most Valuable Campaign Award. Punahou and Harvard Honor Graduate. Ph.D. in Sociology from UC Santa Cruz. An archive of close to 500 postings of mine can be found at my blogspot blog, Dennis Loo, link below. I publish regularly at, (link below) and also at OpEd News and sometimes at Counterpunch.

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 9, 2009 10:12AM

Set Michael Brown a Pick So He Can Leave Cleveland

Rate: 3 Flag

Michael Brown is the NBA Cleveland Cavalier's Head Coach. He gets to coach LeBron James, one of the two best players in the game. Brown's strategy appears to be: Give LeBron the ball and let him dribble around and try to create a shot for himself.

Because Brown doesn't seem to have anything more sophisticated in his coaching repertoire, defenders simply converge on LeBron, two or three at a time, like Boston did the other day, and force James to take a bad shot or give up the ball. 

If Brown would just run some screens for James, the all-star could actually get a decent chance to show off his skills and the Cavaliers might live up to their, at this point, considerable potential. Mo Williams is a real star and they have a very respectable supporting cast of players. 

I say this as a student of the game, someone who loves to play b-ball, and as a Lakers' fan, not a Cleveland devotee.  So in some ways I would be hurting my own team's chances by saying these things (... as if Michael Brown and the Cleveland franchise were paying any attention to my mutterings...).

I don't wish for Cleveland to win it all - just, dammit, beat Boston! (God I hate Boston...) But it's a shame to watch such a prodigious talent go to waste in such a profoundly primitive play plan. 

Some people might argue with me that Brown must be doing something right since the Cavaliers have one of the NBA's best records this season. I don't doubt that Brown is doing at least some things right (not sure what they are), but it confounds and annoys me to watch a talent like LeBron struggle unnecessarily. It's like taking a gourmet chef and making him a fry cook at Denny's. (I will say, though, parenthetically, that James needs to liven up his dunk. It's all power, it's always the same, and there's no creativity. He's got the most boring dunk since James Worthy's. How ESPN could rate LBJ's dunking as one of the all-time top 20 is crazy). How on earth did a coach like MB with such obvious limitations - limitations that even the better than average YMCA youth basketball coach would not have, which is something that I have been - get to be an NBA coach? 

P.S. I wish Chuck Daly and his family all the very best. Daly was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer the other day. Chuck is perhaps most famous for coaching the 1980s' Detroit Pistons led by Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars - the "bad boys." An amazing coach. The Pistons were my team in the 1980s. I loved their defense especially and to watch Zeke get skipping and go on one of his patented scoring sprees and to see Dennis Rodman (before he discovered hair color) move his preternaturally quick feet and shut down the other team's best player. 

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Dennis, I have seen wrong before but this takes the cake. The is the worst analysis in the history of analyses and worsts. Nothing personal. But lets go thru this a bit.

I can appreciate your zeal, but you describe yourself as a student of the game. You description of how the Cavaliers play, and how Brown coaches could not be more false. You described it as giving LeBron the ball and letting him dribble around and make his own shot. Absurd! One of the things contributing to the Cavs successes this year is the addition of a top flight point guard. Lebron has the ball LESS this year than in previous years. he is playing significantly fewer minutes than previous years t save him for the playoffs, and for the rest of his career, and his production is up. In large victories Lebron has been sitting out the entire 4th quarter.

The team is finally catching on to the defensive style of commitment that Brown preaches, and the Cavs game is beautiful to behold. Lebron also has high number of assists. That is creating for others. Mo Williams, the new addition point guard played All-Star level play and was added to the All-Star roster after some lobbying. First choice or third, his game was deserving of being on that team.

And most importantly Dennis, you're in Los Angeles. I have lived there. I love the town. But Los Angeles absorbs a lot of other places talent and success for its own somewhat jaded public. Cleveland Ohio has not had a championship in anything since 1964. Lebron is from 25 miles right down the road. This excellent team was put together the right way, and it stars a local talent. Neither you, nor every other jaded, season deprived Los Angeleno could pry him from our gritty, calloused, deserving hands. Brown is an excellent coach(also on the all-star team, btw), and shame on your nutty analysis as a smear. Look around and try to create a false cause to pry away a smaller, weaker guys wealth and good fortune. Friggin' shame on you.
Bill: appreciate your zeal in turn. I do think that if you're going to criticize my analysis that you should also go after Hubie Brown who said essentially the same thing as I during his color commentary on the Boston-Cleveland game a few days ago. Your retort that LeBron is getting the ball less this year than last and the addition of Mo Williams' talent and contributions doesn't negate the point that LeBron isn't being given enough protection (with picks and with plays run on his behalf to take advantage of his considerable skills) by the play calling of MB.

As for the inequities that you mention at the end about my being in LA: hey, I'm basically in your camp even though I am a Lakers' fan right now. I am all for the smaller markets getting more attention and more championships. I watched that Lakers-Sacramento playoff series a few years ago where Sacto clearly got robbed, even tho I was rooting for L.A.

As for MB's preaching good D. Your point is well-taken. I do think their D is impressive this year.
Unlike Bill, I'm not equipped to offer anything substantial to support or slash your b-ball game analysis. But I concur here: I hope the Cavs send the Celts packing. However, only in the absence of a super talent like James would we have the perfect opportunity to assess Mike Brown's real coaching ability.
Thank you Suede. I do think that we can judge a coach when they have a super talent as well as when they don't. You can't coach 7 feet, as I heard some guys say correctly of Shaq, but how you utilize the talent you have can be assessed fairly well whether you've got great players or not so great, especially at the NBA level. I don't mean to pick on MB too much in that I am not trying to smear him (contrary to Bill's representations), but I am shocked at how poorly he draws up his offensive schemes given LBJ's prodigious abilities. If you saw last year's playoffs this was glaringly apparent when the offensive scheme was, over and over, give LeBron the ball at the top of the key and see what he does.
My first was so hastily typed that I made an absurd amount of typos. Thanks for not taking offense to the typos or the disagreement.

I have watched MB's coaching develop over several years. He is not only a good coach, he is one of the better coaches in the NBA.

As for isolation for LeBron, the Cavs played more like that in the past. Their offense is much more stable, even, and less predictable than it was at that time. The payoff is, it is less of a drag on LeBron physically. It is harder to defend. It is less dependent upon LeBron being in the game or on his game, and as stated earlier, it is sparked more off of its defense than it was previously. Going to an isolation game would not only be a step backwards, it would slow the game down. The team is young and talented. Going to half court is giving away an advantage that they have.

Ferry has now put together a very nice team. Veterans are seeking to come to Cleveland rather than the decades old emigration from Cleveland. The Lakers, as much as I have liked them, are not even from Los Angeles themselves. This team is born and built in Cleveland, and Cleveland deserves its chance to shine.

You are a professor of sociology, so you'll dig this. There are various types of fans around this country. Professional sports started in the industrial great lakes region and in the North East. This sort of fandom is not off the shelf. The Packers fans of Green Bay were originally packers. Steelers fans were from a steel making culture. Kickerbockers, and Dodgers, and Pistons, originally form Ft. Wayne, and now Detroit are icons of an era where loyalty is deep. Identification is cultural.

Do you know where Michael (cough) Jordan won the first Conference Championship before going on to win the first of his 6 League Championships? Cleveland. Do you remember the shot over Craig Ehlo? I do. Cavs were up by 1 point. There were 3 second left on the clock. The Bulls had the ball at half court. Everyone was celebrating because they thought the Cavs were going to the finals. I was the only one I was aware of not celebrating. I said, "3 seconds is an eternity with the ball in Jordan's hands." Time starts, Jordan hits the shot over Ehlo, the rest is history. The real, nuclear bitch of it is, we played the Bulls 6 TIMES that year in the regular season. We beat them 6 TIMES that year. Six for six. We lose the conference championship on a career highlight shot.

Go ask Jerry's kids to donate their wheel chairs. Go ask Ukraine to donate itself to Russia. Go ask the Pacific Northwest to donate its water to the L.A. basin (oops, scratch that, they already do), but dont ask proud Clevelanders which was once the oil capital of the World in the early 1900's, once the envy of the football world with the Browns in the 40's and 50's, once the champion of the world in Baseball in the 40's, to give up a homegrown talent for a city that has not seen a championship for my 45 years on the planet.

L.A. rolled Minneapolis for the Lakers, rolled Milwaukee for Kareem, rolled Boston for Manny Ramirez, rolled NYC for Joe Torre, rolled Orlando for Shaq, and rolls the Pacific Northwest for water, but this city on the North Coast is an old, tired, angry old dude. The city has taken more than its share of lumps. This one is for Cleveland. No title was ever more deserved.
Try watching a game THIS YEAR and make an analysis. It is a VASTLY improved team. The columnists in Cleveland are no soft touch. They have roundly criticized Brown in the past for his lack of offensive prowess. They are singing his praises now. And Jesus could not get a black slap out of this old crew. They are old school columnists, not the mllenial p.r. hucksters. Update your data. Brown is doing an excellent job.
Bill: I DO remember MJ"s shot over Craig Ehlo well. Saw it live. And if I didn't remember it, it gets shown over and over again on highlight reels of MJ's career! : )

Despite my being a Lakers' fan right now I would be very happy for Cleveland if it wins the championship. (Heck. I'd be happy as long as the Celtics DON'T win it). As you say, it is overdue. I remember before one of the playoffs, I don't remember which one, and they were interviewing one of the Cavs (might have been Ehlo) and he said that he hoped that someone on the team stepped it up and said to the team "get on my shoulders, we're winning this thing." I thought, that's not something you wish someone else does. You do it yourself if you think it needs to be done.

LeBron certainly has the right attitude. I STILL think Cleveland needs to set more picks for LBJ. You can do this within the flow of an offense and not be playing primarily a half-court game.

By the way, did you catch that silly hissy fit that Glen (Big Baby) Davis threw after being called for a flagrant 2 foul?
Dennis, I did see last year's playoffs, and what I saw was the best defense in the league (Celtics) last year taken to a seventh game by the upstart Cavs. Not bad for a team with "poorly drawn up offensive schemes"! Defense wins championships, and the sixth game of last year's NBA Finals was a painful illustration of that undeniable truth.

As a former "jaded, season deprived Los Angeleno" myself, I will have to go with Bill on this one. Love the Lakers, but the Cav's defense is pure artwork. LeBron is the first player that reminds me of Magic Johnson, but with more defensive intensity. If he gets more consistent from beyond the arc, the Cavs will render the Boston/LA debate moot.

As a die-hard Lakers fan, it would be hard for me to take sides against the Cavs in a possible NBA Finals matchup, but I think without, or with a weakened Bynum, the Cavs would have a great chance to prevail. And aginst the Rondo-less, Starbury-laden Celtics? Even greater.
curse you, Lakers fan, for I root for the Celtics, who are succeeding via exactly the sort of approach you have let out of the bag. With several players not quite as good as James, but buying into a team system which creates opportunities for them each to thrive doing what they excel at, while generally hiding their weaknesses, Boston has exceeded the potential of their individual talents.

I hope MB doesn't read OS.
Bill: I like your sociology. A lot. We still disagree about B-ball some.
Dennis, as for the coaching in that particular game, I'd have to agree with you. LeBron seemed to be running around in circles, dribbling, throwing the ball way and clanking his shots. No answer to the vastly superior coaching and defense of the C's (who were without KG, remember).

And this after all the help the whinemaster #2 LBJ (breathe on me, it's a foul) could get in what has to be one of the worst officiated games in recent NBA memory. The Cavs had something like 40-12 advantage on free throws, whereas the Celts had a 44-10 advantage on points in the paint. And the Cavs still lost by 11 despite the refs. "Shame on you, Eddie Rush, Ed Malloy and Zach something," as the immortal Tommy Heinsohn fulminated.

The Celts will win the East, of course, barring injuries. Then bring on Whinemaster #1 Kobe (look at me, it's a foul), Houdini disappearing act Lamar, Houdini #2 Bynum, soft as spongecake (bizcocho) Pau and a guy named Sasha...BWAAAAA.

Dr. Loo, this has been fun and inspirational. Here is my creative response. Enjoy!
Bill: thanks for the ich bien Cleveland...