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Archive for the ‘Basketball’


The Palestra: College Basketball’s Most Beloved Arena 1

Posted on February 01, 2016 by Mike Raffone

The Palestra

As the NCAA basketball season inches towards tournament time, allow me to highlight my favorite place on the planet to watch college hoops.

As Philadelphia’s most revered sports venue, the Palestra is appropriately called the Cathedral of College Basketball.

Recognized as the birthplace of college basketball, this hallowed arena opened its doors on the University of Pennsylvania campus on January 1, 1927. On that seminal day, Ivy League rivals Penn and Yale tipped off in what would become the first of thousands of games held in this building.

Named after an ancient Greek rectangular enclosure, the sparkling new facility was designed to house 8,722 spectators.

However, more than 10,000 excited fans crammed into the Palestra to witness Penn beat Yale 26 – 15 on its opening day.

Since then, the Palestra has hosted more NCAA college basketball games than any other arena in the country.

Beginning 1955, the Palestra has also served as the home court for the round robin of Big 5 college basketball games. Though not an official league or athletic conference, the Big 5 boasts five successful college basketball programs located within a 17 mile radius of center city Philadelphia. Read the rest of this entry →

Are the Current Philadelphia 76ers the Worst Team in NBA History? 0

Posted on November 29, 2015 by Dean Hybl
The Philadelphia 76ers will need to get moving if they hope to not finish with one of the worst records in NBA history.

The Philadelphia 76ers will need to get moving if they hope to not finish with one of the worst records in NBA history.

The Philadelphia 76ers have started the 2015-2016 season with 17 straight losses, but they have a long way to go to be considered even the worst team in franchise history.

That honor currently rests with the 1972-73 76ers squad that remains the only team in NBA history to finish a complete (82 game) season with fewer than 10 victories.

With a roster that included future Hall of Famer Hal Greer in his final season and leading scorer Fred Carter, the 76ers had won 30 games the previous season, but started with 15 straight losses and were 3-35 before the calendar turned to 1973.

Head coach Roy Rubin was fired after a 4-47 start and replaced by guard Kevin Loughery, who was nearing the end of his 11-year playing career. Loughery was listed as a player-coach having played in 32 games earlier in the season, but after not scoring in the second game he served as coach, Loughery did not see action again and focused on his coaching role.

The 76ers were marginally better playing for Loughery with a 5-26 record, but all five of those wins came during a seven game stretch in mid-February. The team lost the first 11 games coached by Loughery and the last 13 to complete their miserable campaign with a 9-73 mark.

Given that the current 76ers have not won a game since March 25th, a string that includes their final 10 games of last season and first 17 so far this campaign, they certainly have a chance to match the futility of 1972-73.

However, given that the 76ers also started last season by losing their first 17 games, but finished with 18 wins on the year, there certainly could be time for the team to achieve respectability.

In comparing the 1972-73 76ers with the current team, the most striking difference is in the experience level of the team members. In addition to Greer, who was in his 14th season, the squad included three other players with 10 years of professional experience and only one rookie. Read the rest of this entry →

Commemorating Steph Curry’s Great 14-15 Season 1

Posted on October 28, 2015 by Jeremy Biberdorf
Steph Curry moved to elite status during the 2014-2015 season.

Steph Curry moved to elite status during the 2014-2015 season.

The National Basketball Association is a league of slow changes. The rules don’t change much over time. The way we view the game evolve slowly. And the style of play follows this same pattern. Most players play the game with a usual amount of skill. It’s better than people in the general population, of course, but when you put all these great players in a room together, individual excellence cancels out. A player has to be truly remarkable to rise above the pack. These are the players that bring sudden change to the game. Steph Curry is one such player.

Having led his team, the Golden State Warriors, to the 2015 NBA championship, Curry went from almost obscure to one of the most recognizable players in the league. This is an athlete who used to be called too short, not strong enough to hack it in the National Basketball Association. Proving those naysayers wrong took a lot of effort and personal growth. But the world took notice all at once, watching Curry sink effortless three pointers, make deft jump shots from all around the court, and achieve defensive play the envy of almost anyone else in the league. It all amounted to 29 points per game in the post season.

Read the rest of this entry →

Will LeBron James be at Full Strength as Cleveland Cavaliers Start the Regular Season? 0

Posted on October 22, 2015 by Andre Smith
After playing very little in the preseason, can LeBron James be ready for the regular season.

After playing very little in the preseason, can LeBron James be ready for the regular season.

While there have been some questions about whether an anti-inflammation shot that LeBron James received earlier this month would keep him off the court for the Cleveland Cavaliers season opener on October 27, the superstar is saying that he will be ready to face the Chicago Bulls in the opener.

Of course, the bigger question is whether the injury and shot will hamper the four-time MVP as he and the Cavaliers look to go a step further than a year ago by winning the NBA Title.

This news of him receiving a shot doesn’t come as a shock to many considering that the player also received a similar injection in January where he was inactive for two weeks. According to the team coach, David Blatt, the team will be couscous, but he expects James to be on the court for the opener. A league source was quoted saying that they trust that LeBron would respond well to the shot just like he did earlier this year and will be fit for the upcoming season.

After playing, albeit minimally, in the first two preseason games, James has missed the final five exhibition games and the LeBron-less Cavs haven’t been in good form. It took a 40-point third quarter against the Dallas Mavericks to keep the Cavaliers from going winless.

If anyone was to bet on the Cleveland Cavaliers starting the regular season on a high note, then they would be in for a surprise. Critics are in the opinion that maybe the Cavs don’t really take the exhibition schedule very seriously and would rather rest their best players waiting for the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry →

The Heckler: A Big Mouthed Sports Fan 3

Posted on September 28, 2015 by Mike Raffone

The HecklerBecause I enjoy his antics, this big mouthed sports fan is an easy choice for today’s Sports Then and Now blog.

This big babbler has been barking from the stands at sporting events since the first chariot races in Rome and original Olympic Games in Greece.

He’s that garrulous guy who plays the role of the annoying fan at games. He’s been seen and heard at every pro game in every sport for as long as fans can remember.

Many observers would say he’s just as bothersome, or entertaining, “now” as he was back “then” at sports events!

The colorful and, at times, irritating big mouth sits court side at NBA games, in the end zone at NFL games or behind home plate at Major League Baseball games and creatively maligns the opposing team’s players. His duty is to toss barbs at the other team and their fans.

Universally known as the Heckler, this super fan ironically may not boast too many fans of his own.

Some fans may find him insulting, but I like him and think he’s an expected, entertaining part of attending a professional sports event.

He’s pretty funny, especially if he’s rooting for the same team.

Plus, I can handle his non-stop heckling – provided he’s seated far enough away and doesn’t make the little hairs on the back of my neck stand at full attention with his non-stop jibber-jabbering.

And, I get a kick out of watching rival fans deal with the Heckler during a game. The guy’s entertainment factor wears off quickly, especially when he’s not cheering for their squad.

Soon, opposing fans within earshot realize this guy has a bullhorn for a voice box and no off switch for his grating trash talk.

During the rest of the game, these same rival fans are constantly on edge, much to my delight and that of all of my fellow fans.

For the rest of the game, I’m entertained by watching these rival fans try to keep themselves in check.

In a fight to the end, they struggle to restrain themselves from dumping their beer on this loud mouthed Heckler.

Because of the entertainment factor he has always provided at games since fans can remember, this timeless irritant and big mouthed sports fan secures a spot in today’s Sports Then and Now blog.

Out of curiosity, what’s your favorite Heckler line?

Let us know. Just keep it clean and leave everyone’s mother out of your response. Lol

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

 

Examples in Excellence: Most Inspiring Coaches of the Last Decade 1

Posted on July 24, 2015 by Brooke Chaplan
Jill Ellis has been successful building the U.S. Women's Soccer Team into a team of stars.

Jill Ellis has been successful building the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team into a team where everyone plays their role.

The greatest sports coaches have the power to inspire their athletes to be better than they’ve ever been and change the whole dynamic of a team. We’ve all seen what an amazing leader can do for an otherwise scrappy team, and here are just a few of the most remarkable examples of the last decade.

Build Teams with Great Players, Not One Great Player
Jill Ellis experienced incredible training as a young coach at UCLA when she was mentored by John Wooden. Now she is the manager of the U.S. Women’s Soccer team.

Ellis creates a clear team concept and teaches each player their role within it. At her father’s suggestion, she learned communication outside her sport. For a while, she was a technical writer. Now she can explain her team vision and help her players to be their best within it. Her background was able to prepare her for seeing a big picture and what each part needs to do to organize a working machine.

Leadership by Listening
Steve Kerr was the first rookie head coach in the NBA to win the championship since 1982. The Golden State Warriors were a team of current and future all-stars, but they needed someone who could pull all the pieces together.

Kerr created a system based on the strengths of his players to maximize the team’s performance. He also empowered his coaching staff to share their ideas and listened to everyone. Most significantly, in the NBA Finals, an assistant coach wanted to change the starting line-up to help them deal with the previously unstoppable LeBron James. Kerr accepted and implemented the idea. Not only did it work, Kerr publicly identified his assistant as the source of the idea. This is one example out of dozens of Kerr giving credit to others for the team’s success.
Read the rest of this entry →

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