February 16, 2013 by
Happy 50th Birthday Michael Jordan!
It isn’t everyday that you can say that two athletes who arguably were the best ever to compete in their sport are celebrating birthdays. But you can say that about February 17th as that happens to be the birthday of Hall of Fame football star Jim Brown (born in 1936) and Hall of Fame basketball star Michael Jordan (born in 1963).
Though it has been 48 years since he last played in the NFL, just about anyone who was alive to watch him play still will insist that Brown is the best player ever to put on shoulder pads. His combination of power and speed were unlike anything that had previously been seen in the NFL and his domination of the league during his nine year career with the Cleveland Browns has never truly been matched. He won eight rushing titles in nine years and averaged 104 yards rushing per game for his entire career. His 12, 312 career rushing yards was a record that stood for 19 years and still ranks 9th in NFL history.
What is perhaps most extraordinary for Brown is that some have claimed that in addition to being the greatest football player of all-time, he may also have been one of the best lacrosse players ever. He was an All-American lacrosse player at Syracuse, scoring 43 goals in 10 games as a senior. He also was the leading scorer on the Syracuse basketball team as a sophomore and lettered in track.
It is hard to believe that it has been more than 30 years since Michael Jordan emerged on the scene as a basketball star at the University of North Carolina. He hit the shot that propelled UNC to the NCAA Championship during his freshman season of 1981-82 and two years later helped lead what was likely the finest collection of amateur basketball players in history to a gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics.
In the NBA, Jordan eventually evolved into the best player of his generation and ultimately is considered by many as the best to ever play the game. He averaged more than 30 points per game for his entire 15 year career and won the scoring title 10 times. Read the rest of this entry →
February 10, 2013 by
Imagine if you played the best game of your career to lead your team to victory in the seventh game of an NBA Championship Series and yet when historians discuss the game you get little mention as they spend most of their time talking about someone who scored only four points in the game and could barely get up and down the court.
Such is the case for the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month for February, Walt “Clyde” Frazier.
To most, the defining image of the 1970 NBA Finals between the New York Knickerbockers and Los Angeles Lakers is that of New York center Willis Reed limping out of the locker room prior to game seven and then hitting two baskets that set the tone for the Knicks ultimate victory over a powerhouse Lakers team that included Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. Read the rest of this entry →
October 29, 2012 by
The Miami Heat are one of only eight franchises that have won the NBA Championship during the 28 year reign of Commissioner David Stern.
As the 2012-2013 NBA season begins in earnest this week, you have to wonder why they are even bothering playing the 82 game regular season. In the 28 seasons since David Stern became NBA Commissioner in 1984, only eight franchises have won the NBA Championship and given the continued stockpiling of talent by the most dominant franchises it seems highly unlikely that the monopoly will be broken this season.
In fact, on paper it looks like you can pencil in the defending champion Miami Heat and perennial champion Los Angeles Lakers for a star studded championship series.
Of course we all know that you don’t play the games on paper, but in a sports world where achieving parity and creating a competitive balance that provides every team and their fan base legitimate hope that they can win a title has generally become the norm, Stern and the NBA have gone in the exact opposite direction.
Not only does the NBA rank dead last in the percentage of franchises that have won a championship in the last 28 years with just 27%, compared to 43.8% for the NFL, 50% for the NHL and 60% for MLB, but they also are easily last in the total number of franchises that have even simply made it to the finals. Since 1984, 60% of NBA teams (18 of 30) have reached the finals. The NHL has the next lowest percentage at 73.3%, followed by the NFL at 78.1% and MLB at 80%.
What is quite amazing about those statistics is that the NBA continues to be able to convince cities across the country to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on new facilities and fans to shell out thousands of dollars on season tickets even when there is little chance their team will ever have a chance at significant, or long-term, success.
In 2010 the Orlando Magic opened a new arena at a cost of about $480 million with the Magic contributing about $50 million and the remainder being financed through public funding. Read the rest of this entry →
June 30, 2012 by
Kevin Garnett's return gives the Boston Celtics a chance to upend LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
The Boston Celtics took a major step in continuing the quest for their 18th championship with the return of Kevin Garnett. Garnett agreed to a three-year contract worth $34 million according to Marc Spears of Yahoo.
Garnett’s five-year extension expired after the 2011-’12 season when the Celtics were eliminated by the eventual champion, Miami Heat, in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. In the final minute when the Heat held an insurmountable lead, Garnett came off the court and embraced head coach Doc Rivers. Rivers nodded his head after Garnett said something to him.
It was unclear whether Garnett would come back to Boston when he became a free agent on July 1st. There were several reports that he would either sign with the Celtics or retire.
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June 11, 2012 by
The Boston Celtics could be without Kevin Garnett (left), Paul Pierce (center), and Ray Allen (right) next season.
All great things come to an end.
The Big Three revival ended on Saturday night when the Boston Celtics were ousted by LeBron James and the Miami Heat, 101-88, in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. Now, the uncertainty of the offseason arrives.
Saturday night’s game was reminiscent of the last five years with the Celtics having the opportunity to win multiple championships, but they missed chances and suffered debilitating injuries. In the 2009 postseason, they lost Kevin Garnett to a season-ending knee injury in February. Ultimately, the team fell to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference semifinals. They fought all the way to Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers where they played without center Kendrick Perkins, who tore his ACL in Game 6 of that series. In an ending eerily similar to the 2010 Finals, the Celtics could not hang with the Heat in the final six minutes of the game on Saturday. Like in 2010, the Celtics head into the offseason with the possibility of the Big Three breaking up with Ray Allen and Garnett as free agents. Paul Pierce has two years left on his contract, but only one season is fully guaranteed. The Celtics could either trade Pierce, amnesty him, or keep him while they rebuild.
There is still a chance that the Celtics could bring the core of the last five years back together for a final run for 2012-’13. After last night’s press conferences from an emotional Doc Rivers and teary-eyed Allen, it appears that the team has long-term goals in mind to build the team around point guard Rajon Rondo. Read the rest of this entry →
June 01, 2012 by
Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol will be playing on different teams during the London Olympics.
Since basketball was first included as an Olympic Games event at Berlin, in 1936, the United States has been very much the dominant force. They won every gold medal up to 1972, when the Soviet Union finally beat them in Munich.
However, since then, it has been mostly a case of ‘normal service resumed’, with just two instances of bronze (Seoul 1988 and Athens 2004) tarnishing the otherwise brilliant glow emitted from the gold cabinet.
None of this comes as a surprise, when you consider that the NBA is the strongest basketball association in the world. Indeed, in the 1990’s, the USA were able to call on the services of none other than the legendary Michael Jordan, to help secure their rightful place at the top of the tree.
They can be beaten, as Argentina proved at Athens 2004, but there was no chance of a repeat shock, four years ago, when LA Lakers player, Kobe Bryant, led the USA to gold in Beijing. He is now in his thirties though, and that will give hope to the other 11 teams in the competition, notably, Spain, who have become a real force in world basketball of late. They have their own talisman in Pau Gasol. Read the rest of this entry →