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Archive for the ‘Basketball’


Remembering Playground Legend Connie Hawkins 0

Posted on October 07, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Connie Hawkins was a four-time All-Star with the Phoenix Suns.

Connie Hawkins was a four-time All-Star with the Phoenix Suns.

In the days before 24-hour sports networks and social media, basketball legends were created in places like the playgrounds of New York City. One of the original playground superstars was Brooklyn native Connie Hawkins, who has passed away at the age of 75.

Before he had ever played a college or professional game, Hawkins had already created a reputation as a player you had to see to believe. His thundering dunks and quick step was a forerunner to Julius Erving, Dominique Wilkins and LeBron James.

Though his professional career started late because he had the misfortune of being associated with a college point-shaving scandal during his freshman year at Iowa, for which he was not implicated, once he reached a greater audience he was as good as advertised.

Shunned by the NBA, Hawkins spent four years showing his dynamic skills as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.

Hawkins finally began his professional career with the Pittsburgh Pipers of the ABA as a 25 year old during the 1967-68 season. He was an immediate All-Star and league MVP averaging a league best 26.8 points while grabbing 13.5 rebounds per game. During the playoffs, Hawkins averaged 29.9 points to lead them to the ABA Championship. Read the rest of this entry →

Biggest Changes in Basketball History 1

Posted on July 20, 2017 by Scott Huntington

Basketball is an American invention, with a Canadian inventor. What began as a rather straightforward game in 1891 has grown into a global obsession. More than a century ago, James Naismith, a Canadian educator working in Massachusetts, came up with the game in an effort to develop a sport less physically punishing than football.

In the hundred-plus years since the first basketball game was played, the sport has undergone considerable changes. Read on for a look at some of the critical turning points in basketball’s development — from the introduction of the nylon basket to ball technology and the ever-diminishing shot clock.

Ending the Peach Basket Era

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When basketball started, scoring meant putting the ball in a peach basket or an 18-inch square box. The baskets hung from balconies installed on most indoor running facilities of the time. They were suspended at the 10-foot height still in use today.

Peach baskets have closed bottoms, which meant the ball needed to be retrieved each time a team scored. Basketball lovers decided to speed the game up by introducing a woven wire “basket” in 1892, just a year after the game’s invention. The following year, cast iron was used, and by 1912, the first nylon nets were installed.

Read the rest of this entry →

3 of the Top Lesbian Sports Stars 1

Posted on July 19, 2017 by Sudhir Singh
Brittney Griner is one of the biggest stars of the WNBA.

Brittney Griner is one of the biggest stars of the WNBA.

It takes a strong female to rise to the top of a male-dominated sport. In many traditionally male-centric sports, the glass ceiling is being shattered by talented women who are proud of their athleticism and who they are as individuals.

Here are three stars that happen to be lesbians who bring pride to their sport and the LGBQT community.

Megan Rapinoe

The U.S. women’s soccer team star, Megan Rapinoe, has been in the national spotlight for over a decade. She helped her team secure Olympic Gold Medals in 2008 and 2012 and the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. One of Rapinoe’s most memorable career highs is when she became the first and only player, male or female, to score a Goal Olimpico at the 2012 Olympic Games. After opening up about her sexuality in 2012, she has continued to advocate for LGBQT rights. Rapinoe knelt during the national anthem like NFL player Colin Kaepernick in protest of racial injustices across the nation.

Brittney Griner

American professional basketball player Brittney Griner has some impressive stats. While playing at Baylor University, she became the only NCAA player to score a whopping 2,000 points and block 500 shots.  The 6’8 ball player who boasts a wing-span of 86 inches has also made the U.S. Olympic team twice and helped bring the gold medal home in 2016.  Griner was named The Associated Press’ 2012 Player of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. In her 2014 memoir, “In My Skin: My Life On And Off The Basketball Court,” the reserved Griner talks about being bullied during her adolescent years and how it affected her confidence. She also reveals how she was unaware of Baylor University’s policy on homosexuality when she joined their team (Griner came out in high school but during her years at Baylor, was asked by officials to keep her sexual orientation concealed). Griner held true to herself and lives her life with integrity today. Read the rest of this entry →

Waiting for the Weekend: Is the NBA Using Monopoly Money? 0

Posted on July 07, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Some of the NBA free agent signings makes me think of the guys chasing Butch and Sundance. "Who are those guys?"

Some of the NBA free agent signings makes me think of the guys chasing Butch and Sundance. “Who are those guys?”

As I have read over the last few days about all the NBA players receiving huge guaranteed, long-term contracts, I can’t help thinking about the classic movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Early in the movie when Butch and Sundance are being followed by a group of horsemen, they keep asking themselves “who are those guys?” as they are unable to shake them despite making many maneuvers that typically would have knocked trackers off their trail.

With several of the players who have signed mammoth contracts this week, I have that same question “who are those guys?”

Obviously, a few of the players receiving eye-popping contracts are household names, like Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Kyle Lowry, but it seems that many of the large contracts have gone to players who even regular NBA fans barely know.

Tell me the truth, could you really pick Otto Porter Jr. (4 years, $106.5 million offer sheet by the Nets), Danilo Gallinari (3 years, $65 million by the Clippers) or Langston Galloway (3 years, $21 million by the Pistons) out of a lineup? Not to mention, Tim Hardaway Jr. signed a four year, $71.5 million offer sheet with the Knicks. Now, in his day I could see Tim Hardaway Sr. being worth that type of money, but the young Hardaway has a career scoring average of 11 points per game, including a career-high 14.5 ppg this past season. I barely even knew he was still in the NBA.

I remember in the early 1980s when new NBA Commissioner David Stern pledged that the NBA was on their way to an average salary of a million dollars (at a time when a million dollars was a lot of money). Granted that he made that claim early in the era of Bird and Magic, but still, it seemed a bit far-fetched given that the NBA was clearly number three in terms of the professional sports pecking order in the United States.

Now 35 years later, you can argue that in some ways the NBA is still third among a broad group of sports fans in the U.S., but it probably has the most loyal core of young fans (age 10-30) of any of the three professional major sports leagues and is definitely giving its rank-and-file players larger contracts than that level of player can find in the NFL or MLB. Read the rest of this entry →

Waiting for the Weekend: Old Fuddy Duddy Watching the NBA Draft 9

Posted on June 23, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Markelle Fultz was selected with the first pick in the 2017 NBA Draft after playing only 25 games at the college level.

Markelle Fultz was selected with the first pick in the 2017 NBA Draft after playing only 25 games at the college level.

I have decided in this column to serve as the old “fuddy duddy”, which is defined as being old fashioned and fussy.

Last night was the NBA Draft and I must admit, my 11-year-old son had a much better grasp of the players being selected than I did. Not only because he is significantly closer in age to them, but also because in today’s electronic world, he is much more familiar with their exploits than I am. Though most of the top players played roughly 30 games at the college level, if you are interested and tech savvy, you can find all their highlights on YouTube.

Sorry to sound dated and bitter, but I fondly remember a day when players being drafted into the NBA were familiar to fans not because of a YouTube video, but because we had watched them play through usually three or four years of college. Even in a time when cable television was not yet prominent and not every game was available to watch, we still had ample chances to enjoy the top players for quite a while before they moved to the NBA.

When Michael Jordan entered the NBA in 1984 he had played 101 games as a college player, not to mention being on the 1984 Olympic team. While I don’t recall there necessarily being discussion then that he was going to be the greatest player of all-time (such labels weren’t really all that important in a time before sports talk shows), there was no question that he was a great player and would be a successful pro.

You can say similar things about all the other top draft picks from the 1970s and 1980s. In most cases, they were familiar to fans across the country because they had been showcased in college for multiple years.

Now not every great college player in the past panned out in the NBA. As is the case today, there were many players in past generations who were great college players, but just didn’t translate to the NBA. But even in those cases, you had four years to watch them play at college and the number of top picks who didn’t have at least some semblance of an NBA career was pretty minimal. Read the rest of this entry →

Waiting for the Weekend: Inconsistency of Justice 2

Posted on June 16, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Thee NCAA punishment for Rick Pitino and Louisville is the latest inconsistency in justice from the NCAA.

Thee NCAA punishment for Rick Pitino and Louisville is the latest inconsistency in justice from the NCAA.

The Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS) was created in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt primarily to oversee and make safer intercollegiate football as well as to oversee eligibility in intercollegiate sports. The name of the organization was changed in 1910 to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Over the last 111 years, this organization has grown to become one of the most hypocritical behemoths within the United States. Though considered a non-profit, the NCAA generates billions of dollars in revenue annually while their primary labor force receives no direct compensation from the association. To make it even worse, those “student-athletes” are penalized by the organization if they dare to attempt to receive anything other than a college scholarship and minimal gifts and awards for participating in tournaments or championship competition.

I could spend thousands of words illustrating examples of the hypocrisy and exploitative nature of the organization, especially when it comes to student-athletes. But, I do not intend to make that the subject of this column.

Instead, I want to briefly explore the announcement this week of penalties against the Louisville Cardinals men’s basketball program and head coach Rick Pitino.

The NCAA is investigating what ineligible players may have appeared in games for the Cardinals from 2010-2014 as part of an alleged sex-for-pay scandal involving a Louisville assistant coach and basketball recruits. If any players were deemed to have performed while they should have been ineligible, then Louisville could be forced to vacate victories, including their 2013 NCAA Championship.

Though he has not been directly implicated, head coach Rick Pitino was suspended by the NCAA for five ACC games next season.

Now, don’t get me wrong, if a Louisville coach was involved in paying women to have sexual relations with basketball recruits, that is morally abysmal and just another example of how some in college athletics have crossed the line. However, much like the Penn State scandal of a few years ago where the university and football administration were without question guilty of failing to meet simple ethical standards, they weren’t necessarily guilty of anything that specifically provided the team with an on-the-field advantage by providing a special benefit or keeping a player eligible.

That lies in very deep contrast to the University of North Carolina, whose men’s basketball team won the NCAA Championship just two months ago. The University and many athletic teams, including the men’s basketball program, have been under the cloud of an academic scandal in which the credibility of an entire department at the college was fabricated for many years, in part to help ensure that student-athletes could remain eligible.

Yet, not only was UNC allowed to participate in the last two national championship games, their head coach, Roy Williams, is regularly lauded by the NCAA and coaches association for his “ethical” behavior.

There is an old saying that the NCAA is so upset with the actions at UNC that they put UNC-Wilmington on probation for ten years. In this case, it almost seems that the NCAA is working with the University to try and make the entire issue go away. It is a stark contrast to how the NCAA handles much less significant scandals at other institutions. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Bob Cousy: Houdini of the Hardwood
      February 4, 2018 | 8:31 am
      Bob Cousy

      Bob Cousy

      The Boston Celtics traded prior to the 2017-2018 season for All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, but the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the first in a long line of superstars to play for the Boston Celtics.

      Before there was Bill Russell and Larry Bird, the Boston Celtics were powered by a 6-foot-1 inch guard from Holy Cross. Bob Cousy was the on-the-court leader for the Celtics in the era during which they emerged as a basketball juggernaut.

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