Miami Heat 2014-2015

Huge lag in posts again ... but that's the way it goes these days I guess....  Quick documentation of my thoughts prior to the Miami Heat start the upcoming season.

The past 4 years have been very enjoyable as a Miami Heat fan ... A very different "enjoyable" than a traditional Miami Heat basketball experience since 1988.  They were THE team with THE player that every 9 year-old wanted to root for.  I had to include "since 1988" with every statement that I was a Miami Heat fan.  It was enjoyable because watching Lebron James playing for YOUR team in his prime almost every other night was just fantastic.  Now that phase is over and I appreciate it for what it was. 

I am a HeatLifer and totally embrace the next phase.  I think back to the summer before Lebron took his talents to South Beach and if you would have told me that Lebron was going back to Cleveland, D. Wade would be staying with the Heat and would be joined by Chris Bosh and Loul Deng -- I would have been very happy.  Think about that -- no one thought Lebron was really leaving Cleveland and no one in Miami actually expected him to come.  He did - and it was amazing.  But - the point is that we have a team that I would have been psyched about 4 years ago.  Sure Wade is a lesser version of his 4 years ago self - but he's my guy. 

So - I'm actually looking forward to the new phase of Miami Heat fan enjoyment.  Rooting for the underdog.  Proving media types and haters wrong.  While I know it's not truly likely - I do believe the Miami Heat can win the championship this year.  Seriously - I think there's a chance - and that's what true fans should always feel like (when they're not in rebuilding years).  What's my internal rationale? 
  • I drink the Wade County kool-aid. I  believe D.Wade is gonna give the middle finger to all the doubters for perhaps the last time in his career.   The media is talking about how Bosh is gonna be "the guy" ... I think he's gonna be 1B next to Mr. Wades 1A.  He may not have 25 PPG, but if he was a starting pitcher - he's going to lead the team in Wins.
  • Loul Deng is an all-star.  Knock,down shooter, team player, top-tier defender - I hated when the Heat played against him when he was on the Bulls.  He'd shut down D.Wade in his prime.  Realistic #3 option on a championship team - seriously.
  • Spo knows 2015 NBA basketball.  He's mentioned in the top tier of coaches but isn't getting that respect heading into this season.  Questions about Miami making the Eastern Conference play-offs??  Really?  Spo+Wade+Bosh should be good enough for a 4 seed alone.  
  • Pesky point guards.  Cole, Napier, and Chalmers off the bench play their role.  They all have crazy confidence and are relentless.  PG by committee is a trend right now in the NBA and I think tough defender/knock down shooters with penetration ability is all these guys need to do and they've proven they can do it.
  • Breakout player:  James Ennis.  Of course there's a chance he's another NBA summer league mirage - but dude has got true offensive skills and is 6'7''.  I believe he's gonna be an amazing change-of-pace player for the 15 minutes Wade sits every game...
  • Veteran bigs.  I like Josh McRoberts fit in a Spolstra heavy pass offense.  Birdman is proven asset.  Haslem I'm less sold on - but every time I do that - he plays a solid role.  
  • Reminder:  Eastern conference is still the Eastern conference.  9 of the other 14 teams are projected to be under .500 win percentage.  
  • What are we missing?  3 point shooting.  Wishful thinking that the Heat will start out like 10-1 and Ray Allen realizes that they've got a shot and joins up.  Danny Granger not gonna cut it I fear... I don't mind the "risk/reward" shot in signing him - but from what I've seen thus far - I think his best basketball is in his rear-view.  Chalmers really represents the guy you'd go to in the final few seconds to hit a 3 right now.  Not ideal. (although we all know Bosh will be taking the corner 3 80% of the time in those instances).
So that's it.  I'm excited for this season.  I embrace whatever is going to happen - but I do believe!  A Heat-Cavs eastern conference finals would be AMAZING.  How great would it feel for the Heat organization to be in that position.  Yes - I'm optimistic - it's October as a #HeatLifer.

Let's Go Heat!!


Google Shopping Express

If you know my - you know I'm a Google Kool-Aid drinker.  Almost anything that this company that's employed me for 10+ years comes up with - I traditionally believe in.  (On a related topic - I should blog about my displeasure to date with Google Glass -- but that's not what this post is about)...

For the past few weeks, my wife and I have been testing the "Same Day Delivery" service Google just rolled out for NYC and LA.  For some background, our family lives in a doorman building in NYC and we have 2 children under the age of 5.  This means that for the past 5 years - we probably average 3 purchases a week from the likes of Diapers.com, Amazon, Soap.com, etc.. We've been loyal to these sties because of the convenience + we are always buying in bulk which traditionally means "free shipping." While there's a Target in NYC - we've been once in our car and it was more of an afternoon family activity then a cost savings effort (we'll always buy more than we need to in store).

So...now that Google is willing to pick-up these items from stores like Target, Costco, Fairway, Toys R Us, and more..... It's truly a no-brainer - especially for the first 6 months where Google is picking up the delivery tab.  It's like 2001 again with Kozmo and Urban Fetch - but this time with legitimate business justifcation.  (I'm happy to talk offline to folks who don't buy into this).

Anyway - if you live in LA or NYC - I think it's something you MUST sign-up for ASAP.  There's no downside.  Did you forget your daughter has a birthday party the next day and you forgot to pick up a gift?  No problem! I already signed up to be a Costco member solely out of the excitement... After a few orders - I'm a little more gun-shy because I forget we live in a Manhattan apartment that's extremely limited on space.

If you do try it -- Lemme know what you think!


"The Donald" (and it's not Trump)

Outside of imagining a Don Draper - Roger Sterling character MERGE... the "Donald Sterling" name has had a shitty brand name since I've ever known his name.  The audience aware of this prior to last week was limited to NBA junkies.  Now the whole world knows his name and it's shitty brand correlation. 

The events of this past week are historic -- but the desire for the NBA to get rid of Donald Sterling is historic as well... He's a billionaire, a shrewd asshole, and it appears a horrible racist. 

Follow me here ... I've been the Commissioner of a fantasy football league called The BigTime going on 15 years.  There have been some additions and subtractions over the years - but not many.  The owners are a mix-mash of social friends with it's own set of cliques.  As Commissioner, it's my job to bring it together.  The truth is that there's an individual or two that get on 80% of the league owners nerves at any point during the football season through antagonizing emails or complaining or whatever...  As commissioner, while this may annoy me at times too - I've never really considered kicking someone out of the league for being annoying.  Even if an owner crossed the line per se (went too far with trash talk, or was just generally a nuisance) it would probably take cheating or failing to pay or something like that to force me to kick them out. (FWIW - I'd never let a racist into the league in the first place so I wouldn't have to kick one out) Furthermore.... If someone acted up - there would be at least one or two owners to come to that individuals defense....

This brings us back to Donald Sterling..... I haven't heard a single voice of defense for Donald Sterling.  It seems as if NO ONE cares if he's banned - and even more - that they're excited to see him go... That's the price he pays for being an asshole all of those years I suppose. 

I obviously think the racist comments are disgusting and intolerable - period.  I get the feeling, though, that this is mostly a GREAT reason to do what the NBA has wanted to do for a really long time. 

He's being kicked out of a billionaire's club and I don't imagine it's going to be a quiet exit. Donald Sterling is 80 years old - and it seems like he doesn't give a crap about anything (especially his personal "brand").  

I'm looking forward to the day we don't talk about Donald Sterling, but thought I'd take the opportunity to document my thoughts.


Announcing My Retirement From Basketball

Since I was 5 years old - I've loved the game of basketball.  It was my fathers favorite sport and at the time we lived in Los Angeles - it was 1982 - APPEX of SHOWTIME.  We went to games and I fell in love.  My father (who played college basketball) loved it too.  I was into almost all sports but basketball was the only one I cared about watching at such a young age and I played it whenever I could. 

I went to summer camp at age 9.  I still remember my father telling my to-be counselor at the time (who turned out wasn't even my counselor) to help me strengthen my left hand dribbling...  I thrived those first few years at camp - and even my friends will tell you that my prime basketball playing days were when I was 11 or 12.  I was the "go-to" player as an 11 year old. As the years went on - I found my role as a "high-IQ player" who understood the game, hustled, rebounded, played solid defense, was a good passer, but horrific outside shooter and even worse foul shooter.  As I approach 40 ... that's still my game.  People say they enjoy playing with me because: 1) I'm not a liability on defense, 2) I do the little things, 3) I don't care if I shoot the ball a single time in a game.

I still love the game of basketball and I very much enjoy playing.  I'm not someone who needs to win every game I play - but moreso just enjoy the run...Until recently when I felt like after I played I was just relieved when I escaped a game without injury.  About a year ago I got plantar fasciitis, which is basically extreme heel pain and there isn't a nea-term fix to it that I'm aware of.  I've taken 2 cortisone shots - and neither had any effect. The last 3 times I've played, I literally have trouble walking for 3 days - it sucks.  It's made playing hoops just not worth it.

So - until further progress on this front - I'm going to refrain from playing basketball for the time being.  I'm calling it a "retirement" because that's more dramatic, but I'll need to find a light-weight activity that I enjoy more than running... 

Thanks to mainly my Wah-Nee alum for keeping me active in regular hoop run cadence.  Here's hoping my retirement doesn't stay permanent. 


What's Wrong With The Miami Heat?

There are two answers to this very simple question: 

One answer is:  "Nothing, Idiot."
If the NBA did a survey of each team and asked them which team they'd least like to face in the play-offs -- I'm pretty sure The Miami Heat would be the overwhelming leader on that list.  The Heat are the Champs and any second-guessing from the media talking heads is only for the purposes of having something to talk about on TV.  The Heat have what it takes to win it all.  Championships are won in June, not in January and February.

The Second Answer is:  "They are tired and lack regular season motivation."
I've been saying for 3 years that the regular season doesn't really matter for the Heat.  For 3 years+, this team has been playing in sold-out arenas and have a huge target on their backs every night.  They've proven over the last 3 years that they aren't really to be questioned.  (Won 11 out of 12 play-off series in the last 3 years).  They're veterans and they really felt the grind of the 27 game win streak last year.  What they're doing could possibly be viewed as "over-correcting" at years end ... but again ... from where I stand they've earned the right to be trusted. 

This said - I do think it''ll be really tough to get through both the Pacers and Thunder (my prediction for West champ) come May/June.  Those teams are STARVING (they were hungry the last 2 seasons) and I'm not sure the Heat are gonna be able to find the extra gear when the time comes.  Nothing about the Heat's regular season performance is the reason why I think that, though.  It's more what I'm seeing from the other teams.  They are deeper and more experienced than the past and they both have players who can shut-down LBJ when he turns into a one-man show.

I still believe the Heat can 3 peat.  That would be the obvious best outcome - especially considering the contract situations of the big 3.  No way any of them walk away from going for a 4th in a row.... 

For now, "nothing is wrong with the Heat."  They're doing what they need to do and I'd prefer not to talk about it until the play-offs begin...


Quality Score for Super Bowl Commercials

Last night I did what 40 million+ other people did.  I sat in front of my TV for 4 straight hours (minus putting kids to bed, etc) and watched the Superbowl.  I thought it was a little overboard that they read the Declaration of Independence at the start of the broadcast (to symbolize how American the Super Bowl is?), but I digress....

The Superbowl ad spots fetched roughly $4MM for a 30 second spot (gulp), and several brands think it's a bargain.  The mere reach and PR value is hard to argue - even from a performance driven marketer like myself....  BUT.... Another reason why I think they're so valuable is because people ACTUALLY watch the ads.  The Superbowl has become the one instance in modern television where people watch BECAUSE of the ads!

The fastest way to change this fact, however, is to have a few years in a row like we did in 2014.  The ads were below average.  There were maybe 3 ads I thought were "great" and every other one was average or worse.  So in order to preserve the "huge amounts of your customers actually watch the ads" belief - I think that the networks (or NFL) should include a "Quality Score" metric, much like Google does.  If ads are clicked on more than any others - Google often rewards advertisers for being of value to it's users, which makes it more likely (and sometimes less costly) for those advertisers with strong quality scores.

How could this be done?  Well - I was thinking that there were 3 possibilities (or more I'm sure):

  1. Network charges advertisers, say, $5MM per spot - and then they give $ back at a sliding scale based upon YouTube AdBlitz or a similar rating system.
  2. They have a panel of "judges" that pre-screens spots to give even either financial discounts OR preferential placement based upon judged "quality."
  3. Many advertisers have a history of commercials in the Superbowl - and I think there could be an "established" score that brands receive over time that gives them (again) discounts or first choice of placements. First time advertisers would receive the "average" slots.

Bottom-line -- I think the ad industry needs to take responsibility for ensuring that quality content meets customers expectations for this special event.  I get that fact that the network only thinks about "selling eyeballs" but if the ad quality is ignored - the value of the time will greatly diminish over time. I'd like to see Quality Score's equivalent show up for the Superbowl in the years to come.