NBA down to its Final Four

Lebron James vs Bulls

We’ve witnessed some great series and some surprising performances, and now we’re down to four teams battling for the NBA championship. The Houston Rockets will visit the Golden State Warriors tonight to kick of the Western Conference Finals, and tomorrow night the Cleveland Cavaliers will visit the Atlanta Hawks for the start of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Cleveland Cavaliers

From the moment Lebron James announced he would be leaving Miami and returning home to Cleveland, we all knew this team had a chance to compete for a title. Still, few could have predicted the ups and down and all of the drama that this team would go through over a long season and then the first two rounds of the playoffs. All year long, Kevin Love had some issues as he adjusted to being the third option in Cleveland’s Big Three. Still, he was a critical piece of the puzzle, and losing him for the season as the result of a bush-league foul in Boston was a cruel blow to this franchise.

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NBA Preview – Lebron shakes things up

Lebron James Cavs media day

As we watched the San Antonio Spurs demolish the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals last season, few could have predicted how that result would lead to a demolition of the Heat roster as well. But we all know now that Lebron had been thinking of returning to Cleveland for years, but this loss in the Finals led to his decision to leave Miami in the offseason. Had the Heat won, there’s no way Lebron would have passed on the chance to win four titles in a row. He probably would have ended up back in Cleveland eventually, just not this year.

Lebron’s Decision 2.0 had a ripple effect around the league, with Carmelo deciding to stay in New York and Kevin Love ending up in Cleveland to form a new Big Three with Lebron and Kyrie Irving. Lebron has established himself as the most powerful man in basketball in additional to being the world’s best player. But as usual he’s playing for much more – his legacy. Bringing a title to Cleveland would be a huge achievement for him personally, but it would also represent another star on his resume as he tries to break out of Michael Jordan’s long shadow.

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LeBron James introduces the all-new Nike LEBRON 12 sneakers

Lebron James has had a very eventful summer as he decided to right a serious wrong by returning home to Cleveland to play with the Cavaliers. The season is coming up soon, and Lebron is capping off the summer by introducing his new Nike LEBRON 12 sneakers.

You can see from the photos above that they’re going with a bold and colorful design. Miami Dolphins fans will love the color choices! With bold colors dominating the sneaker and athletic gear markets, this will probably go over very well.

The LEBRON 12 is designed to enhance James’s explosiveness while combining three key benefits: superior cushioning, harnessed support and natural flexibility. It’s hard not to be impressed with the advances in sneaker technology, and Nike has been leading the way for years.

So if you’re looking for a bold, new look for the fall, you might want to check these out. Just don’t wear them with your LeBron/Cavs gear — unless, of course, you like colors that clash!

  

Pro Athletes Love Florida — and Here’s Why

Famous athletes from many different sports make their homes in central and southern Florida. Golf legend Tiger Woods, Miami Heat forward LeBron James, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace and Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson are a few athletes that call the “Sunshine State” home. From Orlando to Miami Beach and Jupiter, Floridians find themselves living next door to the country’s greatest sports heroes. Just as sportsbooks bonuses entice sports fans to ante up, Florida’s many bonuses draw professional athletes to bet on life near the state’s beaches and byways.

How the Pros’ Love Affair With Florida Began

Golf legend Arnold Palmer used to be followed around the course by groupies who called themselves “Arnie’s Army.” In 1976, instead of leading his fans toward the 18th hole, Palmer led a tide of athletes toward Florida. Arnie settled in Orlando after he and a group of investors leased Bay Hill with an option to buy it. Palmer fell in love with Orlando back in 1965, when he visited the state as part of Wake Forest’s golf team. By the mid-1990s, baseball legend Ken Griffey, Jr., had settled in Windermere. Griffey counted both Shaquille O’Neal and Miami Dolphins tight end Eric Green among his neighbors. Former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz built a house near Lake Nona.

According to Palmer, athletes saw him move to central Florida and thought he “must have had some sort of scoop.” The pro athlete invasion didn’t stop in Orlando. Alex Rodriguez, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh moved to Miami Beach. LeBron James moved to Coconut Grove, while Michael Jordan, Bill Parcells and Tiger Woods settled in Jupiter.

Florida’s Tax Advantages

Pro athletes pay taxes in nearly every city their teams play in. In fact, pro athletes often pay what accountants call “the jock tax” in 10 to 30 jurisdictions every year. In addition to the jock tax, players pay income taxes on their salaries in the cities where their teams are based in. To make things even more complicated, they pay taxes on income from dividends, interest, endorsements and personal appearances in the cities they live in.

Athletes who live in Florida pay no income tax on endorsements and personal appearances. In fact, when LeBron James chose to play for the Miami Heat in 2010, taxes may have factored into his decision. If he’d chosen the New York Knicks, then he would have lost 10 percent of his salary to taxes. By choosing Florida, LeBron got to keep all that he earned from his contract.

Attractive Real Estate Prices

Another draw for pro athletes is Florida’s affordable real estate market. After the 2008 recession, Tampa and Orlando both made Bloomberg Businessweek’s list of the Top 10 Cheapest U.S. Housing Markets. A mansion that would cost millions in California, for example, costs a few hundred thousand dollars in Florida. Cities that offer attractive real estate deals also absorb athlete income when the pros pay for furniture, vehicles, landscaping, housekeeping, entertainment and utilities.

Recreation

For many pro athletes, Florida is a good place to raise a family. Pros who live in Orlando live near Disney, Cape Canaveral, Pleasure Island and other kid-friendly attractions. In South Florida, families can enjoy year-round access to the beach. In many cases, towns like Orlando have just enough nightlife — but not too much — to make the area both fun and family-oriented.

Additionally, many pro athletes enjoy playing golf, and Florida has some of the country’s best courses. Many baseball players whose teams conduct spring training in Florida often book their tee times around their practice schedules. An athlete living in Jupiter, for example, has year-round access to The Bear’s Club and The Dye Preserve.

Last, but Not Least: Great Weather

Retired baseball pitcher Frank Viola, a longtime resident of Sweetwater, doesn’t dig out a snowblower in the winter. Instead, he digs out his golf clubs and heads to one of central Florida’s many golf courses. “Two or three cold snaps and that’s your winter,” he told The Orlando Sentinel. “Who wants to clean up your driveway and garage all the time?”

About the Author: Greg Perry is a freelance sports writer and avid sports bettor who lives in southern Florida.

  

Heat versus Spurs in NBA Finals

While the San Antonio Spurs cruised through the Western Conference Finals against Memphis, the Miami Heat had everything they could handle against the size and youth of the Indiana Pacers. Naturally, throughout that seven-game marathon, the storyline seemed to change over and over again. We had the inevitable drama as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh took some heat for their play, but as usual (since their choke job two years ago against Dallas), the Heat delivered in crunch time. So now we have a pretty evenly matched NBA Finals, and serious betters will be doing a ton of research and then checking out online gambling site reviews to make their picks and get the latest and best odds, though in the end this one really comes down to your gut.

We have one dynasty led by Tim Duncan, and one potential dynasty led by Lebron James. With Duncan, he’s basically ceded the leadership of the team to Tony Parker, and their “Big Three” with Manu Ginobili have more to do with legacy. The Spurs are a deep team, with these veterans supported by some excellent young talent. The professionalism and experience of the Spurs sets them apart from some of the other teams the Heat have played, so many think they have a shot here.

In Miami, Lebron was ridiculed for being “Robin” to Wade’s “Batman” several years ago, and while we can all mock him for pairing up with superstars to win, there’s no doubt today that he has emerged as the leader of this team, as he matured quite a bit after the humiliation of the Dallas series. Meanwhile, the inconsistency of Wade and Bosh has to worry Heat fans, though like I said earlier, they always seem to rise up. Lebron also has revenge on his mind, so the motivation is definitely there against the Spurs.

So sit back and enjoy what should be a great series.

  

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