Posts Tagged ‘NBA Basketball’

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.

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:

Head Coach Byron Scott was named the Lakers' 25th head coach on Monday.

Head Coach Byron Scott was named the Lakers’ 25th head coach on Monday.

I have something to admit.   I’m a die hard Laker fan, and I have been ever since 2001 when I witnessed Kobe Bryant’s Hall-of Fame caliber performance against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals that year. You’re probably thinking that my journalistic integrity will be in question after confessing my basketball allegiance, but as the theme of this blog goes, I vow to deliver consistent and quality posts on all things basketball to eventually make many of you forget what my favorite NBA franchise (unless you’re a faithful reader/follower of All Things Hoops, or…you’re just stalking my page) happens to be. So, you can imagine how I felt whenever I received the news that Byron Scott–one of the high flying tough-as-nails guards of the “Showtime Lakers” championship run throughout the 1980s–will return to the franchise in a slightly different capacity, this time as a head coach of the Lake Show. The 2008 NBA Coach of the Year and L.A. native son will bring his no-nonsense approach to the game of basketball and look to infuse this ideology into his players. All nostalgic references to the side, Coach Scott has inherited his old team as a coach during an interesting time for the Lakers franchise. This Laker team has none of the legendary luster that his Showtime Lakers exuded. Hell, with the exception of Kobe Bryant, this Laker team doesn’t even remotely resemble the post-Shaq Laker squads that won back-to-back NBA championships in 2009 & 2010. However, with the addition of veteran power forward Carlos Boozer and scrappy point guard Jeremy Lin along with the Lakers’ #1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft (#7 overall) Julius Randle Byron Scott has a nucleus of players that he can work with to make this team a playoff contender at the very least. The addition of Byron Scott as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers gives the franchise a much-need shot in the arm. If you root for this team as I do, then you will too, especially after witnessing the past several seasons that don’t measure up to the standards of this franchise. Since my fellow members of Laker Nation can’t quite see Byron Scott in action as a coach yet, let’s kick back and witness highlights of his heyday as a player for the Lakers.

The Charlotte Hornets' return to the NBA will spark fanfare and nostalgia among not only the people in Charlotte, but also many diehard fans across the NBA landscape

The Charlotte Hornets’ return to the NBA will spark fanfare and nostalgia among not only the people in Charlotte, but also many diehard fans across the NBA landscape

The Charlotte Hornets have that mystique about them. If you followed the NBA or were a young kid during the 90’s, then you’ll remember how wildly popular this team was. While many were fixated on the Chicago Bulls’ legendary title runs during this time, the Hornets developed quite the cult following of their own.

Does anyone remember the Starter Jacket Era? If you do, then you knew that the Hornets Starter Jackets were among the most popular jackets worn by people back in the day. Maybe it was the bright teal colored jerseys that had such an effect on fans. Maybe it was the blend of athleticism, power, and charisma that the Hornets’ 1991 number 1 draft pick Larry Johnson exuded. Maybe it was the fact that the Hornets originally took residence back in 1989 as an expansion team in North Carolina, a state that is famously passionate about not just their Hornets, but also their Tar Heels, their Blue Devils, their Demon Deacons, and their Wolfpack to name a few. The state of North Carolina has been a basketball hotbed for years, and its citizens have shown their love to the Hornets by rewarding the franchise with sellout crowds in the old Charlotte Coliseum on numerous occasions throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.

Of course, the Charlotte Hornets wouldn’t have the same allure that they have now without putting names to the legend that is the Hornets. Fan favorites such as Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, Mugsy Bogues, Dell Curry (father of Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry), and Glen Rice were forces to be reckoned with during the Hornets’ heyday.

Fast forward to 2014, and after witnessing heartbreak on a few occasions, the fans in Charlotte have been through more than what the average loyal fan deserves to endure. They’ve witnessed their Hornets leave Charlotte in 2002 to head to New Orleans (where they lasted until 2013, changing their names to the Pelicans), leaving them without a team for a couple seasons. They then witnessed the years of the Bobcats becoming Charlotte’s NBA team for almost a decade, but the Bobcats just didn’t seem like the Hornets.

In 2013, then-Bobcats owner Michael Jordan made the decision to change the name back to the Hornets, a decision that could prove game-changing for the future of the franchise. I feel that the Hornets return to Charlotte will spark the nostalgic spirit of not just NBA fans in Charlotte, but fans across the entire sports landscape.

This upcoming basketball season, it might be time to dust off that Hornets Starter jacket that you haven’t worn since ’95, and take it to the cleaners to wear again. The “buzz” is back.