Posts Tagged ‘nba’

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.

JordanRodmanPippen

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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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.

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.

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.

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.

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”.

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What is it about me that you guys don’t know?

This is what Michael Jordan asked the crowd in attendance at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts on a special evening in September of 2009. After hearing those words uttered by His Airness, you almost got the impression that even he’d be surprised by the fact that some of us had never even heard of him.

Due to the immense amount of scrutiny that he underwent over the years, it’s hard to imagine that anyone wouldn’t at least have a clue who he was.To be honest, I’m not quite sure if there isn’t anything we don’t know about him. Perhaps one of the most famous human beings who have ever lived, it’s safe to mention that the life of Michael Jeffrey Jordan has been one devoid of boredom and predictability.

Thirty.

I’m not referring to MJ’s career regular season scoring average, nor am I referring to the age that Michael was whenever he and his Chicago Bulls won their third straight NBA title against the Phoenix Suns in 1993. While both of the aforementioned references were cool facts to know, the “thirty” that I’m referring to is the amount of years ago that he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 1984. To the average person under the age of 25 who represent the demographic of youth who wear his famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) line of Nike sneakers, chances are high that they’ve never had the opportunity to watch him lace up the sneakers to actually play in them in during a live action NBA game. What made Jordan so unique was that his era–affectionately known as the Jordan Era–started almost immediately, in contrast to many NBA stars who entered the league after he did.

It’s hard to believe that MJ was drafted into the NBA over three decades ago, but it also makes sense because if you’re under the age of 50 and you have watched a considerable amount of basketball for a great deal of your life, then you felt as if Jordan was someone you grew up with, someone who should be enshrined not only into the Basketball Hall of Fame, but into our memory banks as well. All basketball fans have had a “Jordan experience”, and I’m no different. It was Jordan’s electric style of play, coupled with his undeniable marketability, and you have one extremely impressed 9-year-old boy who, during the fall of ’92, made a decision that basketball was his favorite sport, which would eventually become my passion to play the game of basketball, watch the game of basketball as a fan, and ultimately….write about the game of basketball.

In closing,  there isn’t much that we don’t know about the megastar. Thousands of publications, TV analysts, and barbershop regulars have proven that. I’ll keep this one simple because if you’re a lover of the game of basketball like I am, then you’ll realize we’re celebrating the 30th anniversary of the era that not only changed the sport, but reshaped pop culture at large.

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(Originally Written by B.C. on October 13, 2012)

 

If you’ve had the opportunity to know me well enough, then you’ll know that I consider myself to be an enthusiast (I’ll refer to enthusiasts like myself as “fans” for convenience sake for the duration of this article) of the sport of basketball, particularly when basketball is played at its highest level in the National Basketball Association. Like many other fans of the sport of basketball, I’ll occasionally engage in conversation with other basketball fans about the current state of the sport, and depending on who you talk to, the NBA is over. Finished. Dead. Being that I’m a young black man who’s been born and raised in a small southern town, I’m very attentive of remarks that are made with a racist undertone, and such sentiments tend to continually resurface whenever the NBA is the topic of conversation between myself and many whites who are generally over the age of 25 . The recurring response regarding the NBA goes something like this: “The NBA players are too flashy”, “They lack mainstream appeal”, or the most classic line that I often hear is, “They’re overpaid”. When I hear such remarks from whites, the question I ask myself is this, “What are they implying , especially when the NBA is approximately 80 percent black, as of 2012?”

As noted earlier, I consider myself an avid fan and observer of basketball, and I will agree there is a noticeable general decline in fundamental basketball skills on every level for the past twenty-plus years, and I’ll be one of the first to admit that. However, no player can possibly play basketball for the best basketball league in the world with no fundamentals whatsoever. Many whites imply that these players attempt to play a style of basketball that exceeds the boundaries and fundamentals of the game.  However, I would argue that the high-flying, acrobatic style of play that’s generally been affiliated with the black players of the NBA, is the very same style of play that has made the NBA such a widely popular sports league that’s embraced worldwide.  I would also like to add that many of the NBA’s most celebrated and prolific players in history, such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James to name a few, played or are currently playing that flamboyant and explosive style of basketball that white detractors of the NBA are so highly critical of.

Since I’ve just mentioned a few of the NBA’s biggest names in history, it leads me to touch on the topic of the players’ popularity, or a term I’ve heard and read many white fans and white media members refer to as an NBA players’ “mainstream appeal”. The NBA is a global sport, with the 1992 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team, better known as the “Dream Team”, greatly contributing to the sport’s burgeoning popularity on an international stage. That being stated, out of 12 players on that “Dream Team” roster, 8 of those players were black, including their two biggest stars, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. Many whites I’ve spoken with on the topic of the NBA claim that they were once fans, particularly from the early 80’s until the late 90’s, which also happened to coincide with the retirement of arguably the NBA’s most popular star ever (and black player as well), Michael Jordan, in 1999. Some of the NBA’s incoming young black players during the late 90’s, such as Allen Iverson, were highly scrutinized and scorned because of his perceived image by many white fans as a product of the 90’s hardcore gangster rap generation, because of his tattoos, braided hair, and history of incarceration. As a result of this contempt for Allen Iverson and others held in the same regard by many white fans, many of these white fans claimed to have walked away from watching the NBA, thus their reasoning for the NBA not lacking “mainstream appeal”. The fact remains, during his tenure there, that Mr. Iverson was almost singlehandedly responsible for positively changing the fortunes of the team that he made his claim to NBA fame with, the Philadelphia 76ers.

One would be lead to believe that this perceived public image shared by many whites about the NBA’s black players would affect the profitability of the league and its business affiliates. I find this premise to be quite the opposite. For example, Nike, the athletic apparel giant, has benefited largely because of its past and present roster of endorsers of its footwear and apparel. Black players such as Jordan, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, Gary Payton, Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, and Blake Griffin, to name a few, are among the elite NBA stars to contribute to the financial and pop culture success of Nike, with its customers comprising of people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, gender, and economic status. Other companies, such as McDonald’s, T-Mobile, Gatorade, and Coca-Cola, also have received great financial gain selecting many of these black NBA players to endorse their product, often times doing so by involving these players in elaborate global advertising campaigns. So, with all of this money flowing into the pockets of the NBA and its business partners (the NBA claimed to have lost money in recent years, which resulted in an extensive labor dispute between the NBA players and their team owners in the summer of 2011), many whites continue to feel as if the players are still overpaid, although the owners of the teams are multi-billionaires. and the NBA itself  continues to be one of the most prosperous sports leagues despite several of its franchises losing money. Are these athletes overpaid? Or are the ultra-wealthy owners of these NBA teams responsible for allowing their players to even negotiate for a possibility to receive these multi-million dollar contracts that many whites seem to have issue with?

I conclude this by stating that many white Americans seem to have major issues with the professional basketball league that is the National Basketball Association, based off my personal observations. Issues that these whites don’t even seem to have with the NFL, which is also a predominately black sport, yet it is the most popular and profitable sport in the United States. What could the issue be that these white sports fans (and casual observers of the NBA) seem to have with the sport? Is it the quality of play? Is it the lack of likability of its players that seems to ostracize the white fans? Or is it the mere fact that these young black basketball players, often with little or no college education, make millions of dollars annually?

 

 

As a follow up to the material that is written above by Yours Truly, I originally wrote those words above back in 2012. Fast forward two years later, and racial tensions have heightened even more around the country. Non-Black celebrities and public figures have taken liberties to utter disrespectful words about the African-American community (Does Paula Deen and Donald Sterling ring a bell, anyone?). There are reports of racial profiling and police brutality towards Blacks on a nationwide scale, and Blacks are taking to the streets in protest of these unjust practices against them. The latest case of racist remarks towards Blacks would be none other than Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson. Apparently, Levenson takes issue with Phillips Arena’s (home of the Hawks) attendees being predominately Black, regardless of the fact that Atlanta is a majority Black city fill with African-Americans who have the disposable income to afford to go to Hawks games as they please. To make matters worse, this summer, former NBA player and current Hawks G.M. Danny Ferry made similarly nasty remarks concerning then-free agent Luol Deng, whom he tried to recruit to come play for the Hawks. I’m stating all of this because despite the NBA being a a predominately Black league with a strong marketing and grassroots connection to hip-hop culture, many non-Black fans share the sentiments of both Bruce Levenson and Danny Ferry, which brings my previously written blog back full circle.