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Dominance.

This is a word that is only reserved for the greats. To be more precise, this is a word that is reserved to describe the all-time greats. Many basketball pundits and experts have discussed the idea of placing such dominant basketball gods on a “Mt. Rushmore” of sorts—as a means of properly gauging their legendary contributions to the sport.

As the National Basketball Association celebrates its 70th anniversary, it is only right that we highlight ten individuals whose indelible imprints on the game of basketball transcend the game itself.

  1. The Foundation Of Dominance

Already a decade in existence, the NBA saw a brief run of dominance when George Mikan and his Minneapolis Lakers won five league championships from 1949-54, and at the time, that sole accomplishment seemed otherworldly. Two years later, however, that notion would change. In 1956, the Boston Celtics would add a young promising center out of the University of San Francisco by the name of Bill Russell. Known by many as the NBA’s greatest champion by virtue of the 9 titles he brought to Bean Town by himself (with the help of many of his Hall-Of-Fame teammates, of course).

The approach to basketball that Russell gave to the game could definitely be emulated in today’s game of disproportionate offense and outlawed lockdown defenses. What’s the brand of basketball that he brought to the table, you ask? Defense. As the undisputed defensive captain of those great Celtics teams of the 1960s, Russell once said, “The idea is not to block every shot. The idea is to make your opponent believe that you might block every shot.”

Bill Russell wasn’t alone in establishing the notion that a player could place his will upon the game by singlehandedly taking it into a chokehold. Oscar “The Big O” Robertson was asserting his own brand of dominance, and it would eventually prove to be much more three-dimensional in its nature than Russell’s intimidating defense. Robertson’s triple double average during the 1961-62 NBA season to this day has yet to be replicated, although a small handful of players have taken a cue from The Big O’s propensity to frequently fill up stat sheets over the course of their own careers, i.e. Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd, LeBron James, and Russell Westbrook.

Robertson’s tremendous impact on the game that Dr. James Naismith created is quite admirable, because it laid the foundation for not only the possibility of a superstar player using his remarkable skills and gifts to dominate the NBA, it also gave fans a sneak peek at what we now know as hybrid players (point forwards, combo guards, etc.).

The player who rounds out this particular era of dominance is Wilt Chamberlain, and he was downright beastly on the court. 100 point games. 50 point per game averages in a single season. Rebound averages in the upper 20’s on more than one occasion. Let’s not forget that Wilt exhibited the discipline on defense (and offense) that would enable him to never foul out of a game. Wilt was so damn good and dominant, that if anything else in reference to his impact on the game was included here, it would appear that excerpts from both John Henry and Paul Bunyan’s stories were plagiarized to describe Wilt Chamberlain’s illustrious NBA career.

 

  1. The Consistency of Dominance

Much like Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar could be counted on to display both power and grace, while never disappointing admiring onlookers (fans)—for many years. For two decades—considered an eternity by NBA standards—The Captain produced stats that today’s youth would only believe if they saw it on NBA 2K17: six titles, six league MVPs, and the All-Time regular season leading scorer, to boot.

If all of these accomplishments weren’t enough, Kareem was the pivotal piece of the late Coach John Wooden’s college basketball dynasties, winning 3 NCAA titles during his four years as a student athlete at UCLA.

Despite facing cutthroat competition from the league’s menacing centers of the 70’s and 80’s, Kareem’s NBA dominance would be made a little easier because he was equipped with a weapon that has yet to be emulated to this day: the skyhook. It would not come as a surprise if Kareem could got a patent on that particular move, and was able to legally secure it as his own; because that is how exclusive it is in the wide array of player signature moves and shots.

  1. The Refining of Dominance

As the 1960’s gave way to the 70’s, both the United States and the National Basketball Association underwent a series of changes that would be forever etched in both people’s minds, and the history books. The league, much like American society in general, was expressing itself in a radical, yet fun way. The same afros, bellbottoms, and essence of funk people saw transpiring on their television sets and in their office cubicles was also making its way to the courts and sidelines of the NBA. If the precedence of American culture was being refined, then it was only natural that the culture of NBA dominance would follow suit. The man who would embody this paradigm shift of dominance in basketball was named Julius Erving, better known to the world as “Dr. J.”

While his NBA predecessors would dominate the game through a rough-and-tumble style reminiscent of an old western saloon brawl, Dr. J blazed the trail to take a different route to seizing the outcome of games. This style would consist of gliding and swooping his way to the basket in ways that had not been seen before. Although Elgin Baylor was certainly the first Notable NBA player who would boldly leave his feet to embark on midair forays to the hoop (It was highly frowned upon for a player to leave his feet during the prehistoric NBA. Doing so would result in opposing players delivering a painful reminder as to why that player should’ve stuck to shooting sedentary set shots), it was The Good Doctor of the NBA who decided to explore even higher altitudes.

Armed with enormous hands, long arms, and the free-flowing afro for cool aesthetics, Doc’s basketball brilliance often got lost in the airshows that he would put on for fans. He was a superb rebounder, shot blocker, and scorer, although he went about doing such without scratching and clawing his way to the same results. Based upon his combined ABA/NBA stats (excluding his standalone NBA stats, which are just as impressive), you’ll realize why he was just as dominant as any other player on this list.

  1. The Joy & Pain of Dominance

 

It is quite the irony that the term “Joy & Pain” is used to provide this particular example of NBA dominance, given that the term was borrowed from the title of one of the songs of legendary soul group Maze. The reason for such irony is because the song—just like its NBA counterpart of “Joy & Pain”—debuted in 1980, and to this day, people’s hearts swoon at the very mention of both.

The NBA’s version of the beloved term is none other than Magic Johnson & Larry Bird—who technically were drafted in 1979, but solidified their NBA megastar status in 1980 (with Magic winning the NBA title as a rookie in 1980 and Bird winning Rookie of the Year the same calendar year)—who would represent the song title properly. For most of his career as the star point guard for the Lakers, Magic was the epitome of “Joy”, compiling heaps of assists and W’s for his team while doing so with his now world-famous million-watt smile. He punched his on-the-court clock in the American oasis formally known as Los Angeles, and even his job’s company uniform would suggest such joy—consisting of the regal colors of purple and gold.

While this is no slight on the basketball greatness of Larry Legend, Bird embodied the “Pain”. With his stoic demeanor, Larry Bird became the blue collar savior that Celtics fans loved and revered. Building his legacy in the no-nonsense/business-as-usual city of Boston, Larry Bird was the key component of a Celtic machine that revitalized Celtic Pride during the 1980s after a subpar (by Celtic standards—although they still won two titles during the decade) 1970s.

While the narrative(s) surrounding Magic and Bird have become sports history folklore, the very reasons why they were such dominant players for their respective teams often gets lost in conversation. For a number of years after his first retirement from the game Magic was the NBA’s all-time leader in assists—the sole statistical category that exemplifies the ultimate measure of unselfishness—while Bird won three straight MVP awards from 1984-86, something that hasn’t been done since. Both players showed the superior ability to play point forward, although Bird was much more inclined to score than Magic would, but Magic would be much more likely to jumpstart his team’s offense playing his regular position of point guard.

The most telling example of Magic and Bird’s dominance over the NBA during their heyday was the fact that one—or both—of the players’ teams would be featured in the NBA Finals for every year of the 1980s. ‘Nuff said.

  1. The Glamorization of Dominance

From 1984 until 2003 (and in many instances, present day), we have witnessed an interesting phenomenon occur in which both basketball fans and people who weren’t even fans of the sport were gasping for “Air”. If Julius Erving took NBA dominance to new heights within the parameters of the hardwood in terms of his on court panache, then Michael Jordan took that same blueprint from Dr. J, and applied it to the world outside of NBA arenas as well.

To paraphrase Jordan’s own words given during his polarizing speech at his induction into the basketball hall of fame in 2009, ‘What is it that we don’t know about him’? This leads us to recognize the fact that there’s not much else that needs to be said about MJ that hasn’t been said (or in this case, written). However, it would have been a moot point—and downright sacrilegious in the eyes of the basketball gods–to have excluded him from this list. On the contrary, what we can note about Jordan is that his pope-like status in the world arena is the end result of his on-the-court dominance within the confines of the basketball arena. With six championships, two Olympic gold medals, 10 scoring titles (a barometer of NBA dominance all to itself), and the status of the G.O.A.T., there might be some uncertainty in the minds of some people who read this in regards to Michael Jordan’s legacy and basketball dominance. If this is indeed the case, we’d like to paraphrase Mike one last time when he was recorded in a viral video playing a pickup basketball game with NFL superstar Tom Brady and a few others by saying, “You better YouTube Michael Jordan”!

  1. The Overwhelming Nature of Dominance

 

This category suits Shaquille O’Neal well. Shaq was such a basketball anomaly, because he is one of the few physically imposing figures who actually knew he was the biggest on the court, and he wanted to remind his opponents, just in case they forgot to notice his 7’1”, 300-plus pound frame standing next to them on the court during a break in play.

Perhaps no other player since Wilt (and none sense) personified what it means to be a dominant player in the NBA in a myriad of ways. All basketball acumen aside, the mere fact that Shaq tore down an entire regulation-sized NBA goal during a game—on more than one occasion during his rookie season—was quite the testament to just how dominant he would be. Four rings, an MVP award, a couple of broken backboards, and the self-proclaimed nickname of Most Dominant Ever gives you an idea that Shaq had no reason to lie to you about his greatness.

  1. The Cutting Edge of Dominance

 

If you were a fan and student of basketball history right at the dawn of the new millennium, then your gut instincts were telling you that you were experiencing a feverish case of déjà vu. You were observing this new crop of budding superstars take a firm grip on the mountaintop of the NBA’s elite, and in the process of them doing so, you felt as if you’ve seen this movie before. Despite you feeling compelled to jump to prophetic conclusions, you decided to reserve judgment until you were able to make the proper diagnosis on what you were witnessing in regards to the NBA’s new sheriffs in town.

As you attempted to shake off this eerie feeling of “I’ve seen this before”, you’ve seen the light. “Yes, this new crop of NBA stars are creating a product on the hardwood that’s fun to watch, and they remind me so much of certain greats who came before them, yet their playing styles have a certain…defiance to them…it has a certain…edge to it.

If there were any two players who could be responsible for ushering the league into the new millennium, then it would have to be Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant. Drafted as rookies in the same year (1996), both players were guards who made their way into the hearts and living rooms of fans worldwide. What made the dominance of their games so cutting edge was the fact that their approach to the game was so unapologetic. Both players were unusually fearless given their statuses as NBA pups, and both of them had the audacity to go right at Jordan—which in their own individual ways are two of the most documented and beloved veteran/young player mano-a-mano matchups in league history.

Seeing as how both A.I. and Kobe had what it took to be what was then considered to be the leaders of the new school, the year 2000 appeared early in these two dynamos’ careers, and the ensuing new millennium would bring abundant basketball blessings to the two—with Kobe’s first NBA title in ’00, and Iverson’s MVP award the following year—and their ten-plus year reign over the league would prove to the world that their names would never be forgotten in NBA (or pop culture) lore.

  1. The New Age of Dominance

 

There’s something invigorating about the sensation of newness. This is a feeling that we usually get with the seasonal shifts to more pleasant weather, or when our favorite television series has debuted a new season of episodes on deck for our viewing pleasure. The transition from the old guard (no puns intended to the former greats who played the 1 or the 2) to the new is not much different.

We’ll always hold a special place in our hearts for the exploits of the aforementioned players on this list, yet we are painfully aware that our favorite NBA legends could grace the hardwood for only a limited amount of time. There were only so many no-look passes that Magic Johnson could throw to teammates who were slashing to the bucket. There were only so many ankles that Allen Iverson could break…and there were only so many times that Wilt or Oscar Robertson could fill up a stat sheet similar to the way that a delinquent student would be forced to write repetitive sentences on the chalkboard after school. The most dominant players over the past 70 years of professional basketball can only make a mockery of their opponents for so long before they themselves began to get taunted by Father Time—who laughs victoriously at us all.

Despite this melancholic reality of life, all is not lost on our childhood basketball heroes—because like the old saying goes, ‘Joy comes in the morning.’ The year 2003 signified a symbolic shift in the NBA. Some of its most notable names in history had retired that season, with Michael Jordan, David Robinson, and John Stockton, to be specific. Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson were terrorizing the league with DOMINANT scoring outbursts, and despite the much-hyped international rookie sensation Yao Ming’s league debut in 2002-03, Shaq held firm to his reputation as the game’s most dominant big man. In spite of this smorgasboard of promise and greatness in the league, the general consensus among fans was that there was a void. “Yes, guys like Shaq, Kobe, and A.I. are still around, but they’re not getting any younger. Who will be the next great one to make the NBA landscape all his?” That summer (2003), fans would receive their answer sooner than expected. Behold, a child shall lead them.

LeBron James—much like Wilt, Magic, and Shaq—was and is a basketball anomaly. Ever since he stepped foot on an NBA court as one of its players, James produced nearly a decade and-a-half of a body of work that is unquantifiable. A basketball hybrid of sorts, he can give you Big-O-esque triple doubles, MJ-like athleticism, a floor general savvy that’s reminiscent of Magic, and a humble deference to teammates that only the the Big Dipper (Wilt) could pull off in spite of his freakishly superior physical gifts. With a nickname that is a nod to his brand of NBA dominance, King James has carved his own niche into the basketball history books that is likely to be his, and his alone.

While LeBron has given the world the harmonic balance of sheer power, versatility, and a pedigree of basketball intelligence that coaches swoon over, another young man who he would cross paths with would lift his own team from the doldrums of NBA insignificance.

Stephen Curry is known affectionately under a few aliases, such as Chef Curry, Steph, and “Dell Jr.”, but let’s just call a spade a spade. He is the modern day Moses, leading his budding Golden State Warriors to the NBA’s Promised Land after 40 years of wandering their way through the obscure wilderness of the league’s hypercompetitive Western Conference. Curry’s cartoon-like range, coupled with a wicked handle that makes even Allen Iverson nod his head in approval, and an aw shucks-laced spirit has converted fans into his disciples in a way that we haven’t seen since Jordan’s dominant run back in the 90’s. As an NBA champion, multiple MVP, and all-around good guy, Steph is showing us all that we don’t have to always pop our collars, because if we’re thorough enough, the world will do it for us.

kobe bryant 2016

Yes, the world knows at this point that Kobe Bean Bryant is only a shell of the player that he once was, but before you scoff at the headline that I’ve created, let it marinate for a moment. You’ll then understand where I’m coming from. Allow me to briefly hit you with a little NBA history before you totally write me off.

What do Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1989, Magic Johnson in 1992, & Michael Jordan in 2003 all have in common? They were all named NBA All-Stars despite the fact that they were either: a) nowhere near the players they were previously, or b) were on their way to retiring (like Kareem and MJ). In Magic’s case, he had already announced his retirement in November of ’91, but was named an All-Star that same season regardless.

If the NBA lives up to its word of honoring its legends, then Kobe should be a lock for the 2016 All-Star Game. Imagine a starting Western Conference backcourt of Steph Curry and Bryant, and you can be sure that the players on that West squad will do their due diligence to see to it that Kobe is in prime position to secure what would be his fifth and final All-Star Game MVP. What a way to leave the game in an honorable way.

Until we get a chance to see Kobe participate in his final All-Star Weekend as a player in 2016, enjoy these memorable Kobe Bryant All-Star highlights throughout his career.

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Warriors, come out to plaaa-aay!

While it wasn’t necessary that I include the famous movie line in the sentence above, I couldn’t help myself. The Golden State Warriors are making a strong case for greatness. Listed below is a few points that support this argument.

  • They’ve kicked in the door and disrupted NBA’s party of the usual suspects (LeBron, D-Wade, Tim Duncan, etc.) as recent NBA champs…putting the league on notice that they’re a force to be reckoned with, hence their 2015 NBA title.
  • They’ve easily SUPPLANTED the Lakers & Clippers as the state of California’s best NBA team. With a state with FOUR NBA franchises–including one with a legendary pedigree (Lakers)–that’s pretty impressive in itself.
  • The Warriors have a star in Steph Curry that has not only made his case as the league’s Most Valuable Player last year, but he’s also well on his way to becoming a repeat MVP in 2016, if he can maintain (or build upon) his season averages of 32 points, 6 dimes, and and an always impressive three-point percentage to put the exclamation on his stat line.
  • As of the time I write this, the defending champion Warriors team is currently on an NBA-record 16-0 win streak to start the season…which is the best start in league history.

So, it’s best that I go ahead now and declare that the Golden State Warriors will do what only one other team has done, and that’s get to the NBA’s mountaintop by winning 70 games this season. In addition to winning 70+ games, they’ll be in prime position to repeat as NBA champions again this season. Will they beat the all-time record of 72 wins? Time will tell. Until then, sit back, enjoy the show that the Warriors are putting on this year, and watch history unfold.

Champions_League

Do you love the sport of basketball in general, yet hate the ongoing 82-game (not including playoffs and preseason) grind that is the NBA? Are you one of those disgruntled fans who’ve contributed to the rumblings over recent years that you only watch the NBA after the All-Star break and into the Playoffs? Well, you might be in luck, because this is where the Champions League comes in.

The Champions League, according to various sources, isn’t affiliated with the NBA. However, many alumni from “The League” have signed up to compete in the new league of teams. Notables such as Rasheed Wallace, Josh Howard, Al Harrington, and Brandon Roy will be suiting up for action. The Champions League will feature 30-games per season, and 16-teams will be in the mix just in time for the summer of 2016.

The markets that will house The Champions League are Atlanta, Boston, Orlando, Philly, Miami, D.C., and Cleveland. 250 players are required for the league to run smoothly.

As mentioned before, there are quite a few sports fans (not Yours Truly) who are understandably disgruntled with the current state of the NBA…you know, the “I can’t stand the overstacked teams”, “They play too many games. I’ll wait till the Playoffs to watch”, “Certain players don’t play anymore, so basketball isn’t the same” crowd who feels this way because they are simply fed up with the current state of the game.

Another cool thing about the Champions League is that it gives another alternative for older NBA players who can still play the game, yet have possibly been pushed aside because of the league’s current youth movement. It has also been reported that the league will eventually become a place for ballers to put in work in the event that they choose not to play overseas. It also ensures that the players stay fresher and are able to withstand the entirety of the season without dragging across the finish line of the postseason.

If you’re still a basketball fan at heart, regardless of the generational shift of the game, or you’re just looking for more basketball to satisfy your hoops cravings during the offseason, the Champions League might be worth looking into.

Check out this video of the press conference announcing the launch of the Champions League.

Follow this link for more on the story surrounding the Champions League.

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It’s already been 20 years.

Was it the fact that the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls team had three Hall-Of-Famers on the team? Was it because of their then Sixth Man Of The Year sharpshooting southpaw from Croatia? Maybe it was due to the Bulls’ head coach at the time, who would go on to lead teams to 7 more NBA titles after 1996?

By this time, we’re quite sure that many basketball fans (and sports fans in general) have used every complementary adjective imaginable to describe the 1996 Chicago Bulls. Da Bullsas they’ve been affectionately referred to by diehard fans in the Chicagoland area, “caught an unsuspecting NBA slippin” and smacked the league in its mouth by piling up an NBA record 72 wins–a feat which many teams have tried and failed to accomplish in the past 20 years.

This NBA season (2015-16) marks the 20th anniversary of that historic Bulls team. While everyone always heaps well-deserved praise upon that team, one thing that must be mentioned is that there very well could’ve been no Bulls team (as we remember them now) at all.

In the summer of 1995, the NBA’s owners were involved in a testy labor dispute with the players, which caused the league to be placed in a lockout for a couple of months. Jordan and the Bulls were fresh off an embarrassing loss to the Shaq/Penny/Horace Grant Orlando Magic in the second round of the 1995 Eastern Conference playoffs, despite all of the hoopla surrounding Jordan’s return to the team after a 17-month retirement.

What many people also forget is that Jordan had many doubters going into the ’95 offseason. People had even questioned whether he’d be the same player that he once was from 1984-93, which were the years that built the foundation for MJ’s years as a Bull.

Dennis Rodman, the colorful power forward who left an indelible mark on pop culture as much as he did on the b-ball court, was traded from the Spurs to the Bulls for center Will Perdue. Even that took Jordan and Pippen’s approval before the deal was made, because of the bad blood between the Bulls and Rodman’s “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons of the late ’80s/early ’90s.

There was much talk during that time that the league had moved on, because of its infusion of young talent. With fresh new stars like Grant Hill, Jason Kidd, and Chris Webber, the league felt that it was something it had to do in order to come down from the Chicago Bulls/MJ “high” that it had been experiencing for several years. This isn’t even including the fact that the Houston Rockets had won back-to-back titles in 1995–the only team to win a title at that point since Jordan’s ’93 retirement.

Since 1996, that Bulls team has become the gold standard for which NBA squads of future years would measure their regular season success. So again, we have to ask ourselves: What was it about the ’96 Bulls that was so special (besides winning 72 games and winning the title)? Was it the combination of talent and toughness? The ’97 and ’98 Bulls title teams had pretty much the same team. Was it the shoes? Given that appearances alone don’t translate to results on the basketball court, we highly doubt that. But then again, let the young’uns of today tell it, maybe so.

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What a week it’s been.

If you’re a fan of team sports here in America, then you’ll agree that this time of year (mid-late July) can be quite…uneventful to say the least. In baseball, you have the so-called “Dog Days” in which the MLB season can tend to hit a lull in its long schedule. Football on all levels (high school, college, professional) has not quite kicked off their seasons. Last but not least, my beloved sport of basketball doesn’t really get underway until November.

Leave it to one of the NBA’s most legendary–and colorful–personalities to ignite a spark of interest among fans via social media. Shaquille O’Neal, aka Shaq Diesel, aka “Most Dominant Ever”, aka “The Big Aristotle”, decided to take jabs at six-time NBA champion Scottie Pippen. Shaq’s attack on Pippen comes from a place of mockery of Pippen’s status on the Chicago Bulls as 2nd fiddle to Michael Jordan. The Instagram beef took place for a number of days, which included everything from Pippen’s showing off his championship ring collection to Shaq, to Shaq imposing images of Pippen’s face on photos in a comedic, yet facetious way.

This is where the feud began.

We would beat em by fifty "what you think". Let me know and don't hold back

A post shared by DR. SHAQUILLE O'NEAL Ed.D. (@shaq) on

Here’s Pippen’s response.

As you can see, the IG beef drug on for awhile. The following posts are listed in the order the two legends responded to each other.

Easy big fella… if only you were as good at free throws as you are talking smack! @shaq

A post shared by Scottie Pippen (@scottiepippen) on

Anybody need a T MOBILE SIDEKICK. I GOTTa PRETTY GOOD ONE #BESTSIDEKICKEVER

A post shared by DR. SHAQUILLE O'NEAL Ed.D. (@shaq) on

Speaking of being a sidekick… if I recall correctly you know a thing or two about that as well. @shaq

A post shared by Scottie Pippen (@scottiepippen) on

Go oust and get them sidekick edition Scottie pippens exclusively on he's a bum.com

A post shared by DR. SHAQUILLE O'NEAL Ed.D. (@shaq) on

Game over, @shaq. All that's ever mattered to me is winning and we did plenty of that in Chicago…

A post shared by Scottie Pippen (@scottiepippen) on

Just when you thought it was over after seeing Pip show off his six rings, Shaq wasn’t finished. Check out his responses below:

Although we usually don’t indulge in creating material that might seem remotely salicious for this site, the burning question that applies to the Shaq/Pippen feud is this: Is their beef with each other good or bad for the sport in terms of trash talk and giving us basketball entertainment during the offseason?

Meanwhile, on Shaq’s old stomping grounds in the L.A. Lakers’ practice facility, New Lakers Roy Hibbert, Lou Williams, and Brandon Bass were introduced to a Lakers team that has been less-than-stellar since winning their last NBA title in 2010. Their veteran presence and leadership are being counted upon to provide the team with a much-needed spark of life.

On a lighter note, Ray Allen, the NBA’s all-time leader in three-point field goals made, turned 40 last Monday. Nicknamed “Jesus Shuttlesworth” due to the character he portrayed in the film He Got Game, there has been much speculation on whether he will officially retire or come out of free agency as a hired marksman for some lucky NBA franchise (Cavaliers perhaps?)

What’s YOUR take on everything that transpired this past week around the NBA? Let us know what you think.

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More than any other professional team sport in America, the NBA has maintained a symbiotic relationship with its stars. The NBA–or “The League”, as it’s known by many–has been widely recognized as a star-driven league.

Whether you’re a fan of the NBA, or just a casual observer, you can’t help but to identify the National Basketball Association with some of the greatest and entertaining players to ever have earned an NBA paycheck.  Just in case you’re wondering about how long this star-driven system has been in place, we have to re-visit the early days of the pro basketball league.

I’m sure you’ve heard of an NBA franchise by the name of the Los Angeles Lakersright? Well, they haven’t always resided in Southern California, nor was their first championship won there either. Before the Lakers relocated to L.A. in 1960, they won an impressive five championships in their former home, Minneapolis. As expected, most great sports teams have that “anchor” on their team; that one person who is the heart and soul of their campaign to become champions in their respective league/sport. The then-Minneapolis Lakers had that type of player, and his name was George Mikan.

Mikan made a brief comback as a Minneapolis Laker in this 1995 ESPN Sportscenter commercial.

After an illustrious college career at DePaul University in Chicago, the 6’10” Mikan was known for his dominance as a Laker, yet he first signed with the Chicago American Gears of the NBL (National Basketball League), which eventually became the NBA. It was two years after his signing with the Gears in 1946, that he would join the Lakers for the 1947-48 season. When it came to dominant players at that time, no one in the league was on Mikan’s level of play. Like players such as Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in latter years, it was Mikan’s dominance that forced the NBA to change some of its rules to even the playing field for other players to have the opportunity to compete.

Long before the regularity of the NBA’s marketing of a celebrated few players handpicked every year to be the faces of the league, George Mikan was that guy to do so by himself.  If Mikan’s star power were ever in question, then any doubts would be refuted in the following story: On December 14, 1949, his teammates arrived at New York’s Madison Square Garden, and were met with a surprise.

On the marquee (sign outside of the building) they had ‘George Mikan vs. the Knicks,” recalled the NBA legend, whose teammates ribbed him by refusing to dress for the game. “They were all just sitting around. They said, ‘Alright big guy, if you’re going to play them, go play them.

With the NBA still crawling through its years of infancy at the time, such a sight was unheard of, yet it appeared that the marketing team of Madison Square Garden understood what a larger-than-life figure George Mikan had become back then. Needless to say, Mikan went on to play until 1956, ending a career that saw him become a hall-of-famer, one of the NBA’s “50 Greatest” players (as of 1996), and the reputation of being the “that dude” on his team. If Mikan were a star today, let’s just say that his jersey would be on sale, and he’d possibly even have his own sneaker.

Now that’s star power.

childrens book

I want everyone to be on the lookout for something that I consider a labor of love from Yours Truly, BC.

Because of my love of the game of basketball, in addition to society’s obligation to educate and empower young children to properly equip them with the tools they’ll need to survive in life, I’ve decided to do my part by creating a project that not only will the kids love, but you as parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors will appreciate as well.

In the upcoming weeks, I will be featuring updates on the progress of the project, so I want everyone to be on the lookout for this awesome treat. Yes, the project will heavily involve the game of basketball, and it will be used as a way to empower our youth.

In the meantime, I need everyone to subscribe to this awesome page so that you’ll be kept in the loop on this great surprise that I have in store for the kids.

Stay tuned!!

summertime_basketball

We’re smack dab in the middle of July, which means we’re still months removed from the official start of basketball season. However, summertime doesn’t stop many from getting their hoopin’ fix. Just for the mere sake of the seasonal climate during this time of year, the outdoor courts are frequented more, and the local gyms see an increase in people looking to test their skills against other players. See a few examples of people, places, and movements which highlight just how big summertime basketball has been–and is becoming

1. Sonny Hill, and the Baker League

Few individuals have been able to use the game of basketball to make such a remarkable impact upon their local communities like Sonny Hill. Mr. Hill, who is known as “The Mayor of Basketball” in Philadelphia, co-founded the Charles Baker League in 1960. Because of his tremendous contributions to the game of basketball in Philadelphia and beyond, he was inducted in the Philadelphia Sports Hall of FameThe league has witnessed a countless flow of ballers from Philly who have cut their teeth in this legendary bastion of basketball.

2. Rucker Park

Perhaps the most well-known and most popular locale for summertime hoops, the EBC Rucker Park–or “Rucker Park” as many call it–has been graced by the presence of basketball legends on every level, from Richard “Pee Wee” Kirkland, to Kevin “Easy Money Sniper” Durant.

3. The Goodman League

Located in the nation’s capital, The Goodman League has been around for 40 years as of this year, and doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.

4. The Drew League

While most of the country relishes in the opportunity to enjoy the summer season, Los Angeles is spoiled by warm and abundant sunshine throughout the year, which is probably one of the reasons why there’s no real need for the top-flight players of the Drew League to want to play outside. The league that boasts itself to be “The Most Elite Summer League In The World” has opened its doors to L.A. natives and legends alike, such as rapper The Game, and NBA hoopers such as Nick Young, James Harden, and DeMar DeRozan

5. Quai 54

Now this is where summertime basketball goes global! Held in the City of Lights, this tournament hosts 16 international teams, and 200+ amateur and pro players, according to its website.

6. NBA Summer League

The true to its reputation and business model, the NBA has taken its own summer league to a whole ‘nother level. With this year’s newest draftees and young players aspiring to prove their place in “The League”, be on the lookout for future legends to be made in this annual midsummer basketball proving ground in Las Vegas.

As you can see from the examples above, people, events, and leagues have shattered the notion that basketball is a winter sport. In fact, summertime is when many serious players get better at their craft. Legends are made in the summer. Now, let’s hoop.

NBA_banana boat

#BrotherHood.

This was the caption that was featured on Dwyane Wade’s Instagram post which showed his recent vacation on a gigantic banana boat with fellow NBA superstars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and LeBron James.

Perhaps one caption says it all, as D-Wade shows the world that his alliance with the three other men in the photo is “bigger than basketball”, as he (and James) often talk about. I found this particular topic to be an interesting one, especially after hearing the latest episode of the Jalen & Jacoby podcast. Jacoby makes mention of the fact that some of the NBA’s “purist” old school fans who take issue with what they perceive to be a new school phenomenon of the players becoming too friendly on & off court (you can hear what Jacoby said at the 46:00 mark of this clip). That guys like Magic, Bird, and Jordan hated each other, and would never forge a friendship of any kind on–or off–the court.

Of course, the notion held by the old school fans of the “real NBA” might have forgotten that Magic and Bird’s friendship extended beyond the court; that MJ & Charles Oakley have been sidekicks for nearly thirty years (despite what you see in those early 90’s Bulls/Knicks games). It is also a well-known fact that Magic, Isiah Thomas, and Mark Aguirre always rolled together when they weren’t at each other’s throats during those late 80’s Lakers/Pistons rivalries.

MJ & Oak have been good friends for years.

MJ & Oak have been good friends for years.

So have Magic, Isiah, and Aguirre

So have Magic, Isiah, and Aguirre

The belief that competitors can’t be friends is ridiculous. As long as players’ friendships don’t water down their tenacity on the court, then who cares? Let ’em do battle on the court, and be family off the court.