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Skip Bayless Says LeBron James Lacks A ‘Closer Gene’

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(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

 

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers losing to the Denver Nuggets in the 2023 Western Conference Finals opened the door for a lot of people to criticize him.

They not only lost to the Nuggets but were swept, losing the last two games at home.

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Even though Anthony Davis struggled at times for the Lakers, some people still found time to criticize LeBron James.

Skip Bayless, as expected, took his chance to criticize the King, saying that he’s not clutch and lacks the closer gene.

“Nothing I’ve ever said about LeBron James is untrue. Nothing exaggerated, nothing fabricated. I’m sorry but I’ve been right about LeBron Raymond James from the start. He doesn’t have a clutch gene. Now it’s clear that he doesn’t have what I call a ‘closer gene.’ He’s not exactly ‘Mr. Fourth Quarter’ as great as he is.”

It’s not unusual to see Bayless criticizing James, as he’s been more famous for that than anything else.

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The veteran analyst doesn’t miss a chance to diss the Los Angeles Lakers superstar and another sweep for James was the perfect occasion for him.

Still, this season was a success for the Lakers considering they boasted a 2-10 record to start the season.

The King knows they overachieved considering all the time they spent as the 13th-ranked team in the Western Conference.

They made the right changes ahead of the trade deadline and the Lakers made a deep playoff run.

Unfortunately, the Denver Nuggets are on one this postseason and they had no mercy with the Lakers.

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LeBron James had the chance to win Game 4 and give hope to his team, but Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon stopped him in on the last play to give their team a big win.

The Lakers will wait until next season to run it back and see if they can win another championship with LeBron on the roster.

James averaged 27.8 points, 10.0 assists, and 9.5 rebounds in 4 games during this series, but this wasn’t enough to beat Nikola Jokic and co.

The post Skip Bayless Says LeBron James Lacks A ‘Closer Gene’ appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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Rugby World Cup: Final pool games may offer a few twists after predictable start

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Outside of Fiji’s rise and Australia’s demise, the first 3 1/2 weeks of the Rugby World Cup have been, in a large sense, predictable.

Yet none out of the big four of top-ranked Ireland, new No. 2 France and the southern hemisphere powers of South Africa and New Zealand are guaranteed a place in the quarterfinals heading into the final set of pool matches starting on Thursday and running through to Sunday.

Wales and England — which no one gave much thought to — are the only teams to have both feet in the last eight and the luxury of looking ahead.

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So there might still be a twist or two when the remaining six quarterfinalists are decided in a furious four days of last-minute jostling.

Look out for Scotland, which holds the fate of both Ireland and defending champion South Africa in its hands. Italy could upset the campaign of host France and become the most unpopular team at the World Cup.

Scotland and Italy are very long shots for the quarters, but given almost everything has gone to script so far, maybe the pool stage can spring a last-round surprise.

SCOTLAND DECIDES

Pool B rests on Scotland’s game against Ireland at Stade de France on Saturday, when there’s a head-spinning series of possibilities involving winning bonus points, losing bonus points, points difference, and so on. All three teams, Ireland, South Africa and Scotland, could end up on 15 pool points, resulting in points difference in games between them becoming the decisive factor.

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Calculators are at the ready.

The bottom line is Scotland has to win to have a chance at the quarterfinals and before any of the other calculations come into play. Title favourite Ireland’s knockout stage effectively starts a week earlier than it was hoping.

Ireland reinforced its status as rugby’s No. 1 with an epic backs-to-the-wall win over South Africa earlier in the pool stage and has won the last eight against Scotland since 2018, so any surprise would be enormous.

Scotland has nothing to lose. Ireland, after more than a year at No. 1, has everything on the line.

“I’d rather sit here than be Ireland,” said South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus.

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The Springboks have played all their pool games and can only watch on TV and, no matter what Erasmus says, the Boks won’t be sitting too comfortably given they could also be sent packing.

FRANCE’S FATE

Like Ireland, France has won three from three in its pool and has so far met all pre-tournament expectations of mounting a serious challenge for its first world title. Like Ireland, it could all be for zilch if France’s final Pool A game against Italy in Lyon on Friday goes the wrong way.

Italy is even more of an underdog than Scotland, having not beaten France since 2013, and having just come off a 96-17 grilling by New Zealand, a team France beat.

But pressure does funny things. Home pressure, especially.

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France also has the added distraction of the injury saga of captain Antoine Dupont, its most important player, but who likely won’t be available against Italy on Friday night and whose future participation at the World Cup is still unclear because of a facial fracture.

“We won’t be complacent against Italy,” France assistant coach Karim Ghezal said. “We’ll be focused and concentrated. We know it’s going to be a different game. Rugby is a fighting sport.”

WHO ELSE?

The smartest money for the quarterfinals might be on three-time champion New Zealand, which looks fully recovered from its opening-game defeat to France and needs a win with four tries or more against rank outsider Uruguay to be sure of progressing. Given that the All Blacks ran 14 tries past No. 11 Italy last week, a similar rampage against No. 17 Uruguay in Lyon on Thursday is widely expected.

Argentina and Japan face a winner-takes-all contest in Pool D in Nantes on Sunday to progress behind England. The most relevant thing about Argentina and Japan might be that they hardly ever play each other. Their two meetings since the turn of the century both went Argentina’s way.

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Fiji will follow Wales into the quarterfinals from Pool C and make its first Rugby World Cup knockouts since 2007 by beating minnow Portugal in Toulouse on Sunday, or even losing narrowly. That will confirm the earliest elimination ever for two-time champion Australia, which may well be the one big turn-up of the pool stage.

The only thing that can save Australia is Portugal winning its first World Cup game ever and, more than that, denying Fiji any losing bonus points.

“We’re still alive,” said ever-optimistic Australia coach Eddie Jones, whose team has played its four pool games but is hanging around in France in case something akin to a rugby miracle happens.

Amid all the possible surprises, Australia playing again at this World Cup would easily be one of the biggest.

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Jimmy Butler Makes Bold Finals Claim For The Heat This Season

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The Miami Heat were the team to beat when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh teamed up in the early 2010s.

They won two NBA championships in four trips to the NBA Finals, and while some thought they would never go back to the mountaintop after that era, it didn’t take long before they did.

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With two NBA Finals appearances in four seasons, Jimmy Butler is determined to get his team its fourth championship.

That’s why it wasn’t much of a surprise to see him vow that this will be the year they finally get over the hump and get the job done once and for all (via NBACentral).

Of course, it was kind of difficult to take him seriously in that fake emo look, but Butler has usually been a man of his word.

However, the Heat may find it very complicated to find the same success they found last season, as they lost two key rotation pieces in Max Strus and Gabe Vincent.

They cleared some salary space in hopes of being able to land Damian Lillard, but to no avail.

They also couldn’t get Jrue Holiday, and it seems like Pat Riley has lost all of his pull and his magic in the league.

Erik Spoelstra has made the most of hidden gems and has made a living out of turning undrafted players into legit rotation-caliber guys, but there will be several new faces in South Beach, and they might still be one piece away from winning it all.

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Nuggets Make Big Nikola Jokic Announcement

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(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

 

The Denver Nuggets are still walking on clouds.

The reigning NBA champions lost a key piece in Bruce Brown Jr., but they’re still the team to beat until proven otherwise.

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That’s mostly because they still have arguably the best player on Earth right now, which is Nikola Jokic.

That’s why the team was so excited to let everybody know that the reigning Finals MVP was back in the building ahead of their Media Day.

We didn’t get to see a lot of Jokic during the offseason.

But judging by the few clips of footage we could get our hands on, he was living his best life from the very moment he arrived in Europe.

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Jokic is a simple man, and it’s clear that he doesn’t enjoy the spotlight as much as other NBA stars do.

But once he sets foot on the basketball court, there aren’t that many guys who could get in his way.

He’s the ultimate triple-threat, a guy who can score from all three levels, and perhaps the best passer in today’s game.

The Nuggets also have Michael Porter Jr., Jamal Murray, and Aaron Gordon locked in for the next two years at the very least, so their title window is still wide open.

Of course, all teams will aim for their heads, as usually happens with reigning champions.

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But if Jokic stays healthy and plays the way he played in the playoffs, it would be hard to choose any other team over them in the Western Conference.

The post Nuggets Make Big Nikola Jokic Announcement appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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