Posts Tagged ‘Ball Is Life’

golden state

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.

101331_2488_lg

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.

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.

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?