Thursday, August 8, 2013

One (Not So) Angry Man

According to this story, LeBron James reported for jury duty in Akron, Ohio today.  He was not chosen for the panel and went home after a couple hours.

His summons for jury duty suggests, based on Ohio policy for selecting jurors, that James has likely maintained his voter registration, or driver's license, or both, in Ohio since "taking his talents to South Beach" in July of 2010, over three years ago.

Actually, we can drop the "likely" qualification: a search of registered voters at the Ohio Secretary of State's website (type in LeBron James and Summit County) indicates that he is still registered to vote there.

James should have surrendered his Ohio driver's license and obtained a Florida driver's license within 30 days of establishing FL residency in 2010, according to this Florida DMV document (see Section 2.3 on Page 8 of the document / Page 9 of the PDF, and pay attention to criteria (d) and (e) there).  While James still owns property in Ohio, he spends at least nine months per year with his fiancee and children in his $9 million house in suburban Miami, and he is employed by a Florida business entity, viz. the Heat.  Particularly in light of Florida's lack of state income tax, it is likely that James has taken every step to establish Florida residency

Hopefully James is not so brazen as to vote in two states, so let us assume that he is registered to vote in only Ohio, and that he has voted by absentee ballot in 2010 and 2012.  Is it possible that Florida considers the King a resident for driver's license and tax purposes while Ohio accepts him as a resident for voting purposes?  Ohio's voter registration form defines residency as "the location that you consider to be a permanent, not a temporary, residence . . . the place in which your habitation is fixed and to which, whenever you are absent, you intend to return."  That is a heck of a mouthful, but a clever barrister could argue that James considers Miami to be only a temporary residence, and he still intends to eventually return to the Akron area when his pro hoops days are done.  James's Family Foundation, which focuses on needy youths in the Akron area, suggests he has enduring ties to the Buckeye State. 

Alternatively, James may have registered to vote in Florida after moving with his family there following "The Decision."  In such case, James should have filed a request to cancel his Ohio voter registration.  Perhaps James neglected to cancel his Ohio voter registration as he should have; under this scenario, when he received the Summit County, OH jury duty notice at his Akron house, rather than protest it based on his Florida residency, which would be entirely legitimate, he decided to acquiesce out of a mix of civic pride and public relations concern.

Still, while residency is not clearly defined and is not necessarily consistent under state and federal law, it cannot be denied that James's appearance for Ohio jury duty undermines any claim he may assert to Florida residency for tax and other purposes.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How A Shark Makes Investments

Last week Mark Cuban took to his blog to write a long defense of his roster-building strategies over the past two years. He discusses his decision to let Tyson Chandler sign with the Knicks during the December 2011 free-agency period following the lockout, arguing that the compressed 2011-12 schedule would've made success impossible for the aging Mavs team. He also mentions his failure to persuade Dwight Howard or Chris Paul to join the Mavs during the July 2013 free-agency period. Yet, curiously, not once does he mention Deron Williams, a Texas native whom many thought would join Dallas during the July 2012 signing period. Even Williams's close friend and former Olympic teammate Jason Kidd thought D-Will would join Dallas! As we know, Cuban chose to attend a taping of his TV show (which I enjoy a great deal, incidentally) rather than attend the pitch meeting with Williams and his agents. Not surprisingly, Williams chose to re-sign with the Nets after his putative new boss couldn't be bothered to meet him.

Additionally, Cuban's suggestion that retaining the 2011 championship roster would've been too onerous in light of salary-cap rules was a bit of a strawman. In the event, Cuban brought back most of 2011's key players for the 2011-12 season, including Nowitzki, Kidd, Marion, Terry, Haywood, Mahinmi, and Cardinal (yes, Brian Cardinal, who made a couple timely passes and screens in the 2011 Finals). While Cuban did allow Deshawn Stevenson, J.J. Barea, and Caron Butler to leave as free agents, they were replaceable; Butler did not even play in the Finals. Cuban also acquired Vince Carter that offseason using the mini-mid-level exception. The only missing step to bringing back the band was to recruit their defensive anchor, Chandler, to re-join the team.   Had they brought back Chandler, it's easy to see the team scaring Oklahoma City in 2012's first round; the Thunder won their four games by an average of just six points (2.5 points if you exclude Game 3) and lived on forays to the hoop by their three perimeter stars.  Had the Mavs squeaked by OKC, they would've next seen the Lakers, whom they thumped the previous spring, the old Spurs, and the Heat, whose number they had decidedly nabbed in 2011.

Cuban could have easily inked Chandler, who went on to be the 2011-12 Defensive Player of the Year, to a multi-year deal and still had salary-cap space (with some creative roster moves, e.g. an amnesty of Haywood, a trade of Shawn Marion and Mahinmi to teams with salary-cap space, and a decision to let Kidd and Terry leave after their contracts expired on 6/30/2012) to sign Williams for the 2012-13 season. Why he didn't do this (as well as why Oklahoma City passed on a chance to acquire Chandler way back in 2009) is beyond me.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Wondrous Nate Robinson

5-foot-9 Nate Robinson is one of the most remarkable players in NBA history. To be fair, a few players of well under 6 feet in height have carved out a career in the NBA, based on either outlandish leaping ability, otherworldly speed, or both. 5'3" Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues spent fourteen seasons in the league, including nine as an often-double-digit-assisting starting PG for the Hornets. 5'7" Anthony "Spud" Webb hung around the league for twelve seasons, winning the 1986 All-Star Slam Dunk contest:

5'5" Earl Boykins has hung around the league for parts of thirteen seasons as a wispy, slippery sixth man, although his NBA career may have ended when he couldn't find a spot in training camps last fall.

However, none of those guys ever participated in anything of much importance in the league.  By that standard, the greatest little man ever may be the 5'9" Robinson, who was drafted in the first round in 2005 after a decorated basketball and football career at the University of Washington. Robinson spent his first five seasons with the Knicks as mostly a novelty act, feuding with his coaches and teammates and exchanging fisticuffs too often with teammates and opponents. Exhibiting incredible hops befitting his thick legs (he carries 180 pounds on his averagely-built frame) Robinson won the Slam Dunk Contest at the All-Star Weekend of 2007 (after requiring 14 attempts to complete a spectacular leg-threading slam), of 2009 (figuratively defrocking reigning dunk champ Dwight Howard's Superman cape, which I have previously denounced in this blog as offensive), and 2010.

Believe it or not, the formerly clownish Robinson once dominated crunch time of an NBA Finals game, against the Hall of Fame-bound duo of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.  How did this happen?  Just before the trade deadline in February 2010, the Knicks flipped Nate Robinson to Boston for Eddie House, who had grown too stiff to be a credible bench scorer.  In the Finals against the Lakers a few months later, Robinson dribbled past Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, and other strong defenders to score 6 of his 12 points during a crucial fourth-quarter stretch as the Celtics built and held a nine-point lead.  In the postgame interviews, Robinson absurdly likened himself to the Eddie-Murphy-voiced cartoon character "Donkey" from the Shrek movies (and labelled his teammate Glen Davis the ogre Shrek),

Despite his heroics in June of '10, the Celtics traded the mercurial Robinson to Oklahoma City in 2011 as part of a deal for Jeff Green. Thunder coach Scott Brooks wouldn't or couldn't find a way to use Robinson's offensive fury after that trade, and he played only 30 minutes over four games as the season ended, even as the Thunder readied to chase serious playoff fortune. (They reached the conference finals against Dallas that May but still deployed Robinson only for six minutes over two games, both blowout wins, during the playoffs.) Robinson latched on to Golden State after the lockout as a fifth guard and spent the 2011-12 season quietly rebuilding his reputation, finally putting up big offensive numbers as an April starter after Stephen Curry called it quits with an ankle injury. (To be fair, Golden State was actively "tanking" in hopes of landing a top-7 draft pick, thus avoiding the obligation to surrender their pick to Utah stemming from a years-old trade. Thus, Robinson's capacity for winning was still questionable after this stint.)

When the Chicago Bulls cleared their decks of overpriced bench players last summer, they signed Robinson to a single-year, minimum-salaried contract. With Derrick Rose injured all season, Robinson played all 82 games and started 23, as Kirk Hinrich came to play more of a "utility infielder" role over the course of the campaign.  As the Bulls were missing several unhealthy players (just like the previous April), few assigned them much hope in their first-round series against the Nets, but Robinson led the team to victory in seven games, highlighted by his 34-point, 29-minute performance in the triple-overtime Game 4 (featuring 12 straight unanswered points in the final three minutes of regulation to close a huge deficit). Below, the last bucket of the 12-point string:

Robinson also battled through a stomach virus in Game 6 of that series, pausing to vomit several times on the sidelines.  Tonight, Mr. Robinson led the fifth-seeded Chicago Bulls to a victory over Lebron James's Miami Heat team, one day after James collected his fourth MVP trophy, and one week after the Heat completed a stretch of 41 victories in 43 games. As both primary ballhandler and scorer, Robinson registered 27 points on 16 shots and also dished the ball for 9 assists. Down three points with two minutes left, Robinson bounced the ball to Marco Belinelli for a very open corner three-pointer, then broke the tie by scoring seven straight points himself, while the Heat's four Hall of Famers missed five straight shots from the field. Ballgame to the Bulls, 93-86.

Dating to the Brooklyn series, which two members of the JPO collective attended live last week, Robinson is playing at a high level and with a very high level of confidence. While he struggled to defend Nets ace Deron Williams, he will have less trouble against Miami's Mario Chalmers, who is rarely more than a fifth option. Ray Allen often spells Chalmers in late-game situations; Allen, too, is little more than a catch-and-shoot player for Miami, and Robinson should be able to chase the older Allen anywhere he goes on the court. (Robinson also showed little regard for Allen's defensive abilities tonight when the former drove around the much taller Allen for a finger-roll bucket to push the lead to 90-86 with 20 seconds left.)

So Robinson is nearly replicating the offensive leadership that Derrick Rose gave the Bulls in the previous four seasons. Still, Rose could wreak a bit more havoc than Robinson can by tiring out help defenders and drawing fouls. As I have made clear on this blog in the past (if the title did not so inform you), I am no Chicago Bulls fan, but let me offer the following counsel to them: Having stolen the opening frame of the series, and with Russell Westbrook out for the balance of the playoffs, and having seen the Spurs nearly drop their first home game to the Warriors, the Bulls now have a small chance (slim to be sure, but greater than the infinitesimal chance I would have assessed two weeks ago) of winning the NBA championship. Very few teams in any given vernal period ever see their reasonably-handicapped odds rise anywhere above 100:1, so this is an important opportunity. With Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich still nursing health problems, it is time for Derrick Rose, the Bulls' 16-million-dollar man, to get on the court. No offense to the amazing Robinson, of course.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Links of the Week

Our favorite recent articles:

  • Chris "Birdman" Andersen is the perfect fit for Miami.
  • Paul George has replaced Danny Granger on the Pacers, and then some.
  • DeJuan Blair of the Spurs has legal problems with a jeweler.
  • Steve McPherson critiques the Thunder's unsuccessful fouling strategy from the latter minutes of Game 5 against Houston.

  • Sunday, April 7, 2013

    Links of the Week

    JPO has taken a blogging hiatus for most of this lonely winter, but we haven't stopped watching hoops in the interim. Sheepishly, we now return to the WWW with a rundown of our favorite articles from the past couple weeks. More substantive commentary will follow soon.

  •'s Rob Mahoney breaks down Tim Duncan's still-stout defensive game.
  • Sports Illustrated's Chris Ballard shows us how Stephen Curry became perhaps the best shooter in all of basketball.
  • Mahoney, again, illustrates with video and nifty charts the resurgence of Roy Hibbert's offensive game.
  • Charley Rosen moves the chess pieces in an imagined showdown between the 2013 Miami Heat and the 1972 Lakers, the owners of the two longest winning streaks ever seen in the league.
  •'s Ethan Strauss explains that basketball fans should prefer the NBA to college ball because the NCAA tournament, with its lose-you're-out format, has too many lucky, undeserved outcomes. To his argument I would add (1) the talent is far higher in the pros, obviously, and (2) college basketball corrupts the academic culture of universities, diverting attention and resources to a side business far afield from the institution's mission. (The recent scandal at Rutgers revealed what is likely not an atypical power base in a university's athletic department.) If universities need more revenue, state legislatures should respond with ordinary taxation and spending. If the NBA needs a minor league, it should pay for it.
  • William C. Rhoden of the New York Times opines on Chris Webber's relationship with his former college in advance of Monday night's NCAA men's championship game.