The curse of Kobe?

Posted: July 3, 2015 by duragdeweese in Uncategorized

With free agency heating up, majority of the rumors of players moving to new places has died down and most players from Draymond Green to Kevin Love have taken new deals with their teams and while there is some movement with players moving to new teams, most of these players are role players for teams who need depth. One name that is the #1 target for a few squads is unrestricted free agent Lamarcus Aldridge, going into his 9th season for the 2015-16 season he still has plenty left in the tank and he is the #1 free agent on the market.

The teams involved in the Aldridge sweepstakes has been the usual suspects, the San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers. While some had Aldridge headed to the Spurs the Lakers have become the front runner for his service. Over the last few days after visiting L.A. it was reported by multiple media sources that contract talks had broken down and Aldridge was on his way to another team to talk about a contract. One name that was mentioned as to why talks broke down was Kobe Bryant. Rumors have spread like wildfire that Kobe and Aldridge had some sort of conversation and it did not go over too well with Aldridge. What really happened we do not know but the venom and complaints came at Bryant immediately. From twitter to ESPN everyone had an opinion to what Kobe should do as a player, many think that Kobe is to blame for screwing up the deal. Nobody is blaming ownership or general manager Mitch Kupchak who has not as of late had a good record as far as bringing in talent. The Lakers have taken a rather odd approach in building the future. With future front court stars coming into the league the Lakers, who were drafting second in the lottery chose Ohio State guard Deangelo Russell instead of Duke All American Jahlil Okafor. While they could have drafted a front court presence they chose to gamble in free agency for their front court needs. In doing that they have taken on the task of wining and dining players and it seems the players are not enjoying the date. Is it Kobe’s fault? What we do know is Kobe Bean Bryant is going into his 19th season and coming off of rotator cuff surgery, that being said Kobe is still good enough to score and make plays. Before his injury he was averaging 22 ppg, 5 rebs and 5 assts. If those averages mean Kobe cannot play anymore I’m sure 90% of the teams in the NBA would take those numbers and his leadership in a heartbeat.

It seems that there is a concentrated effort to get Kobe out of the league, I mean let’s face it, he’s the last of a dying breed, the Jordan era. Players today do not have the drive or will to do half of the things Kobe can still do 19 years in, the league is looking for new fresh faces to promote and marketing a new Lakers star would be great for the league, but Kobe is stubborn, he won’t let the young kids take him out to pasture he still has one last ride left. After former commissioner David Stern nixed the Chris Paul trade the writing was on the wall. The league was telling Kobe his turn was up and it was time for someone else to shoot the ball, but like all great shooters, when the shots are not falling, you keep shooting and Kobe is still getting into rhythm. If Aldridge does sign with the Lakers that will set a new standard for the Lakers free agency woes that they’ve faced the last few years. The “nobody wants to play with Kobe” rumors would die immediately and we might see the Mamba go for another title run. Let’s face it! The NBA Is better when the Lakers are good! Just like major league baseball is better when the Yankees are winning and NFL football is better when the Dallas Cowboys are competitive, someone has to be hated. 2013-10-kobe-bryant-lakers-wallpaper-hd

ballup

Summer. That one lady who shows up for at least three months out of every year (4-5 depending on what part of the country you live in. Global warming, anyone?). For those of us who consider ourselves basketball heads, Ms. Summer’s arrival marks the official end of “The League“, and the beginning of cookouts, abundant sunshine, and…baseball.

Just from reading the paragraph above, one would be lead to believe that waiting until late October/early November to get their hoops fix will suffice. However, this is where we have been proven wrong, fortunately. There’s a hoops movement sweeping the nation during the summer months around the world. The name of the movement, you ask? BALLUP. Just ask Demetrius Spencer, the Founder & CEO of the world’s largest streetball circuit. “Our tour takes us all across the country, where we open the door for anybody with great basketball talent to have the opportunity to come and try out.”, he says in a recent interview with Omaha.com. Opened in 2009, this tour has seen players such as Grayson “The Professor” Boucher and Taurian “Mr. 720” Fontenette join the BALLUP tour as it hits cities all over the world.

This year, the tour features an opportunity that ballers (and non-ballers alike) would both jump at. Such contests as the Million Dollar Summer Champion are guaranteed to bring the best out of would-be members of the Ballup tour. The contest itself gives players the chance to battle it out to not only become hoops kings of their cities, but also to receive national recognition and the chance to play in Los Angeles on Thursday, July 30 to claim the crown as national champion of the challenge.

If you are like many in basketball land, and you are missing your hoops fix this summer, there’s no longer a need to wait until next year’s basketball season to start. BALLUP will be sure to not only fill that void, but it will also make you a fan…if you aren’t a fan already, that is.

connor toole

Ever heard of the term “can’t miss prospect”? Apparently, Connor Toole was missed by all of us in this year’s NBA Draft.

Toole, who actually happens to be a writer for Elite Dailydecided to use his 6’10” frame as a means of blending in with this year’s draftees. Check out how the experience went in the following video. You won’t want to miss this creative, yet humorous social experiment.

The Future…

Posted: June 18, 2015 by duragdeweese in Uncategorized

Screenshot_2015-06-17-21-50-52-1Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors the 2014-15 NBA champions. The league has shifted and also have caused a rift among individual fan bases. The NBA has spent the last 10 years marketing Lebron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony. With the new age of NBA basketball upon us it is clear that marketing will have to change and how the fans receive certain players will not be anything that we have seen in the last 20 years.

Can fans get used to having TEAMS marketed as oppose to players? The league has become more team oriented which started with the San Antonio Spurs and now the Warriors In the bay area. Clearly the team aspect of the NBA is something that has been missing as a whole since the late 80s up until the early 2000s.

The Warriors are unique in that they have players that could be major parts of other teams but with players like Andre Iguodala taking minor roles as compared to his earlier career, and Klay Thompson who could easily be a star on another team it seems the team aspect is in effect and not stopping anytime soon. This Warriors squad may have a deep run in the next 8 years because of their depth.

Similar to the late 80s Detroit Pistons who had players like Mark Aguirre take a lesser role to be on a championship caliber team. Mark Aguirre was a star with the Mavericks scoring 20+ points per game before going to the Bad Boys. This Warriors team is real similar to that Piston’s squad in that depth is what won games and neutralized star driven teams who relied on one guy to score. Yes Cleveland and Lebron will be back with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving but can they achieve the depth that teams like Golden State has to withstand a 7 game series? If not this could be the beginning of a new dynasty and a changing of the guard.

lebron_james_2015

In this new age of unlimited access to information, there isn’t much we don’t know about LeBron James‘s accomplishments during his career in the NBA. However, what many of us are looking over, is a steadily unfolding career that is worthy of not only securing a spot in the Hall in Springfield, but also him carving out his own spot on the Mt. Rushmore of NBA greats.

Although I was nowhere near LeBron hater status like many of his detractors, I’ll admit, for a few years in the early stages of LeBron’s career, I was skeptical of the ‘hype’ surrounding him and his emergence onto the NBA scene. Kobe was (and still is) my favorite player in the league. I was skeptical that a kid straight out of high school could resurrect an NBA franchise singlehandedly. I was skeptical of the buzz he had surrounding him, thanks to the Nike and Sprite commercials that we’d see upon his arrival to the league…But despite what I or anyone else had to say or think about the on-court resume he was building, King James definitely lived up to his nickname–and then some.

Everyone knows about the Oscar Robertson-like triple doubles he’s amassed, the otherworldly athleticism, and the one-name recognition that only a few individuals such as Beyonce and Pele have earned. However, do we know about how dangerously close he is in passing Jordan in regular season MVPs? Do we realize that he’s ALREADY in his 12th NBA season (at the time that I’m writing this), and seems to be virtually impervious to season ending and debilitating injuries that even the greatest of the greats in league history have been plagued with at some point in their careers?

I attest much of our overlooking of LeBron’s ever-growing legacy to the fact that we live in a microwave society. Nowadays, the NBA–like many other leagues in the sports industry–are so fixated with finding the “next big thing”, that we often lose sight of the ones who are making history now. The irony of the matter is that at one time in the not-so-distant past, LeBron himself was considered one of the new jacks of the league who were the “next big thing”.

It’s a safe bet to now conclude that LeBron–at the prime age of 30–has entered the NBA’s venerable circle of grizzled veteran champions, such as Kobe, Duncan, KG, and his former teammate, D-Wade. Now, let’s just sit back and watch history continue to unfold.

michaeljordan

Since everyone’s enjoying the weekend break between Games 1 & 2 of the NBA Finals, I figured I’d share with you my personal story of an NBA champion who all of us are quite familiar with.

Michael Jordan once said that one of his motivating factors for consistently performing at a high level on the basketball court was his cognizance of that one fan (or fans) who were able to see him play live and in person that one particular time who may never have the opportunity to watch him play in person again. Well, I was one of those folks he referred to, and as a young kid at the time of attending my first Jordan game, I must say that he did indeed put on a show that night.

MJ pulled off this vintage under the layup Dr. J-like reverse in a way that only he could at that time....Oh yeah, and it was a three-point play as well.

MJ pulled off this vintage under the layup Dr. J-like reverse in a way that only he could at that time….Oh yeah, and it was a three-point play as well.

The time and date of the game, you ask? Friday, March 27, 1998 at 7:30pm in Atlanta, GA against the Dikembe Mutombo/Steve Smith/Mookie Blaylock-era Hawks. At the time, both teams had much in common, as they were both Central Division rivals (the re-shaping of the NBA’s landscape in 2004 saw the Hawks move to the newly formed Southeast Division) who had faced each other in the previous season’s playoffs. Both teams were in a transitional period. Jordan’s Bulls were uncertain about his playing status beyond that season because of the team’s decision to severe ties with Phil Jackson at the end of that season. The Hawks on the other hand, were literally without a permanent home, as they played their last game in The Omni the previous season, and they took temporary residence in the Georgia Dome and Georgia Tech’s Alexander Memorial Coliseum until the Phillips Arena was completed in time for the 1999-00 season.

Upon my attending the game, I knew that this game would be big in terms of its significance. The Jordan Factor by itself was monumental, but the Bulls-who would go on to win their sixth and last NBA championship later that season–played through an entire season which was nicknamed “The Last Dance” by coach Phil Jackson, so it seemed as if EVERYONE wanted to be there. My gut feeling wouldn’t let me down, as the game itself set an NBA attendance record for a single game of 62,046. True to his reputation, Jordan wouldn’t disappoint, as he scored 34 points to lead his team to an 89-74 victory.

It was cool being a part of history, as I received this memoir which commemorated the NBA's single-game attendance record.

It was cool being a part of history, as I received this memoir which commemorated the NBA’s single-game attendance record.

The program directory for the Bulls/Hawks matchup that night.

The program directory for the Bulls/Hawks matchup that night.

My ticket stub for the game.

My ticket stub for the game.

Needless to say, I had a blast watching the greatest player of all time and his Chicago Bulls go toe-to-toe with a very respectable team in the Atlanta Hawks. I want to give a shout-out to a YouTube user by the name of 79maestro who actually put in the time to go into the archives and upload Jordan’s highlights from this game in the video below. If you appreciate classic NBA highlights, and you’d like to see rare Jordan highlights, subscribe to 79maestro’s channel.

My second “Like Mike” experience took place over three and-a-half years later, on Thursday, November 1, 2001…Same time, new arena (Phillips).

After emerging from retirement for a second time, Jordan decided to take on his biggest on-court opponent yet, Father Time. At 38 years of age, despite mixed feelings from fans about his last go-round in the NBA, Jordan laced up the Nikes yet again to test his basketball might against the young whippersnappers at the time, such as Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, and Tracy McGrady.

Although he aligned himself with new cohorts (the Washington Wizards), Jordan’s game against the Hawks resulted in the same way that it did during the last time he faced the Hawks: another ‘W’. The 38-year-old scored 30 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists in only his second regular season game back. Not bad for an “old man”, huh? Another YouTube uploader, by the name of Swove2204.

Oh yeah, I’ve included a couple of artifacts from this game as well.

My ticket to witness Jordan's first game back against the Hawks, this time as a Washington Wizard.

My ticket to witness Jordan’s first game back against the Hawks, this time as a Washington Wizard.

Program Directory to the Hawks vs, Wizards matchup of November 1, 2001.

Program Directory to the Hawks vs, Wizards matchup of November 1, 2001.

After reading this, you’re probably wondering, “How in the world was B.C. ‘Just Like Mike’? The answer is, we were both in the same building on 3/27/98 & 11/1/01! You didn’t think I was gonna tell you that I could take off from the free throw line, did ya?

People in the NBA world were stunned by the recent loss of three former great players.

People in the NBA world were stunned by the recent loss of three former great players.

The NBA world suffered three consecutive losses within an extremely short time span when Jerome Kersey (February 18), Earl Lloyd (February 26), and Anthony Mason (February 28)  passed away last month.

Kersey, the athletic forward who participated in some of the league’s storied Slam Dunk Contest of the 1980s, also served as a member of the Portland Trailblazers team that made appearances in 1990 and 1992.

Earl Lloyd gained his claim to fame by becoming the NBA’s first Black player in 1950. He played for 10 years with the Washington Capitols, winning an NBA Championship with the Syracuse Nationals (now the Philadelphia 76ers), and the Detroit Pistons.

Anthony Mason, whose physical style of play endeared him to New York basketball fans during his days as a Knick, played 13 NBA seasons, finishing his career with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2003.

nbaallstar2k15

Here we are. We’ve arrived at yet another NBA All-Star Weekend, which is held in New York City this year, and the league’s 30 teams will be represented in some capacity during the weekend-long extravaganza which includes highly entertaining events such as the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game, Three-Point Contest, Slam Dunk Contest…and let’s not forget about the actual game itself, which will be played tomorrow at Madison Square Garden.

Below is a video that features the highlights of the 2015 NBA All-Star Game, which means that this post has been updated for your viewing pleasure.

For hoops enthusiasts such as myself, and many others around the globe, NBA All-Star Weekend marks the true beginning of basketball season. You’re probably assuming that basketball season starts in late October/early November (It does on paper), but the sports world doesn’t focus the majority of its attention on the sport until February. With the Super Bowl marking the official end of football season, Major League Baseball still several weeks from starting training camps, combined with both high school and collegiate basketball jockeying for position in their postseason tournaments, it’s a safe bet to note that February is the true beginning of basketball season.

With the exception of soccer, there are no other team sports as popular–and widely played–as basketball. The sport exudes an electricity and suspense that none of the other team sports do. NBA All-Star Weekend shows why this is true.

The other day, a good friend of mine asked me who would win between any of the NBA All-Star teams, and the USA Olympic hoops squads, and I’d have to go with the All-Star teams every time. From top to bottom, the All-Star teams feature battle tested newbies and vets who have put in the time to prove themselves worthy of NBA All-Stardom, and the Olympic basketball teams sometimes allow the college standout player (who at the time hasn’t logged one minute in NBA play)  to sneak in to claim a spot on the team. This isn’t meant to put down the youngsters who have the opportunity to compete internationally, but I’m just giving my two cents.

From February until June, sports fans are bombarded with exciting basketball. This includes All Star Weekend, March Madness, your local high school basketball tournaments, NBA Playoffs, and the NBA Finals.

I’ll be like the millions of other hoops junkies around the world, kicking back and enjoying the events of All-Star Weekend in addition to watching the competition heat up over the next several months as basketball teams on every level fight to claim the right to be called CHAMPION.

nba2015

As we enter the 68th season of the National Basketball Association, it’s evident that the 2014-15 campaign isn’t the only thing that’s new surrounding “The League”. We’ll “Witness” veteran superstars go to “NEW” teams (LeBron James), new players (Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, etc), and new coaches (Derek Fisher) who will attempt to lead their teams to victories.

Unfortunately, not all is well in spite of a new season. Due to the fast-paced nature of the game of basketball that is definitely true for the NBA, this season’s first 24+ hours have already experienced a season ending injury to the L.A. Lakers’ prized rookie from the University of Kentucky, Julius Randle, who broke his right tibia during the teams season opener against Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets. Fans all across the NBA landscape are being deprived of watching the basketball greatness of 4-time scoring champion and 2014 MVP Kevin Durant, who is expected to miss the first month of this new NBA season. He also happens to be the cover boy of 2K Sports’s NBA 2K15 (I’m really starting to believe that the fabled “cover curse” that many athletes experience after being placed on the cover of video games is true).

In spite of the previously mentioned adversity, the show must go on. We’ve already witnessed a game winning shot from Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker to beat Jabari Parker’s Milwaukee Bucks, 108-106 to re-introduced the world to the the NBA franchise that had become a household name for much of the 90’s on into the early 00’s.

There are many questions that are left to be unanswered at this point. Will the San Antonio Spurs repeat as champions in 2015? Will legendary coach and now President of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks Phil Jackson’s experience as a winner become contagious to his newly inherited team? Can Kobe Bryant, coming off of an achilles heel and knee surguries–not to mention Father Time–hold hold up physically to withstand the rigors of the 82 game NBA season? Will he surpass Michael Jordan’s all time points scored record to reach 3rd on the NBA’s All-Time Scoring list? We can’t help but to just tune in to see.

One thing that is certain is that the Western Conference looks as strong as ever, with high expectations for the Clippers, Warriors, Spurs, Mavericks, Blazers, and Thunder. These are just the teams who are named as favorites to emerge from the West come Finals time in June. While the Western Conference has reigned supreme for quite sometime now, let’s not sleep on the Eastern Conference. Derrick Rose appears to be back…and better–and faster–than ever. Can his Chicago Bulls team (that also acquired two-time champion Pau Gasol from the Lakers this past summer) give their neighbors in the Central Division–the Cleveland Cavaliers–a run for their money? Let’s also not forget about the Miami Heat, who despite losing LeBron to free agency, will have what it takes to become a top four team in the East, ESPECIALLY now that the Pacers appear to be out of the conversation due to the severe leg injury suffered by their all-star forward Paul George, as well as the loss of tough-as-nails shooting guard Lance Stephenson to Charlotte.

There are many great teams that appear to be AWESOME on paper at this point in the season, but come June, the old TNT slogan rings true:

“There can only be one”.

hoopsreading

For years, the NBA’s “Read to Achieve” program has sought to promote literacy among its young fans by implementing various educational initiatives and incentives. For us adults, the importance of reading is no less.  If you’re reading this, or some of my other work here on this page, then you’ve already realized the fact that reading is important.

Despite the need for us all to be able to possess basic literary skills, reading can be made fun in the process. Because of my love for the game of basketball, I have included several b-ball themed books that are personal favorites of mine that I’m quite sure that you’ll love as well.  Reading is FUNdamental!!

Tales From the Cleveland Cavaliers: The Rookie Season of LeBron James by Roger Gordon

Magic: by Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Richard Levin

Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed, and the Corruption of America’s Youth by Dan Wetzel and Don Yaeger

Best Seat in the House: A Basketball Memoir by Spike Lee

I have included a few vintage commercials where NBA stars encourage the kiddos to read. Take a look: