June 07, 2013 by
The ’91 NBA Final was the defining series for the future of the NBA for the next decade. The best player in the league would learn how to win on basketball’s biggest stage. Michael Jordan and the Bulls would win six titles including the ’91 affair. The Lakers would not see glory again until they retooled for the Kobe and Shaq era. This series was certainly a definitive passing of the torch moment.
The first stage was part abdication and the rest annihilation. The Chicago Bulls finally vanquished their long time nemesis the Detroit Pistons in a convincing sweep. For three years leading up to this moment, the Bulls made continual progress towards usurping the Pistons dynasty. Each successive time they met in the playoffs, the Bulls came closer to beating them. Finally in 1991, the Bulls overcame their most bitter of rivals. Many notable Pistons left the court with eight seconds left, in a last gasp show of defiance.
While the conference finals featured Chicago overcoming their most bitter rivals, the NBA finals were a changing of the guard on a national scale. The Los Angeles Lakers were at the end of their “Showtime” dynasty. James Worthy and Magic Johnson were at the end of their storied careers. The stranglehold the Lakers had in the Pacific Division, ended this year as Portland finished first in the division. One last run was on the plate for these Lakers, as they triumphed over Portland in six games.
Read the rest of this entry →
June 04, 2013 by
Deacon Jones was twice the NFL Defensive Player of the Year and recorded 20 or more sacks in four seasons.
The NFL lost an all-time great with the death this week of Hall of Fame defensive end David “Deacon” Jones at the age of 74.
While he will be remembered as a revolutionary defender who invented the term “sack” and the now-outlawed “head slap”, Jones was more than just another great player.
At a time when African American players were just gaining wide-spread acceptance, Jones beat the odds to become one of the best players of his generation.
Born in Eatonville, Florida (near Orlando), Jones attended Hungerford High School and then South Carolina State. After just one season, Jones lost his scholarship after being involved with the Civil Rights Movement. He then played one season at Mississippi Vocational College (now Mississippi Valley State) before being drafted in the 14th round of the 1961 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams.
Though unheralded, Jones soon established himself as a rising star and became part of one of the greatest defensive lines in NFL history. During the 1960s, the “Fearsome Foursome” developed into a key component of the turnaround of the Rams from a perennial loser to a consistent playoff contender.
When Jones joined the Rams in 1961, Lamar Lundy was already on the squad as a defensive tackle. The year after Jones, Merlin Olsen was drafted by the Rams and became one of the best defensive tackles in NFL history. The line was complete when Roosevelt “Rosey” Grier was traded to the Rams from the Giants in 1963.
Over the next three seasons, the defensive front became one of the best in football, but the Rams were still unable to develop into a winning team. Read the rest of this entry →
May 26, 2013 by
The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former Chicago Cubs player and manager who is best remembered as part of a sports trio forever immortalized in verse.
Known as “The Peerless Leader”, Frank Chance was not only the starting first baseman for the Chicago Cubs, but as their manager he led the team to four World Series appearances between 1906 and 1910. Read the rest of this entry →
April 16, 2013 by
Pat Summerall and John Madden were the most popular duo in NFL broadcasting history.
The sports world lost a broadcasting legend with the death on Tuesday of Pat Summerall at the age of 82.
Though known to generations for his work as an announcer for the NFL, U.S. Open tennis championships and Masters Golf Tournament, Summerall actually spent 10 years as an NFL player before moving to the broadcast booth.
After playing college football at Arkansas, Summerall was drafted by the Detroit Lions, but a broken arm ended his first season in the league. He was traded to the Chicago Cardinals and spent five seasons with them primarily as a placekicker.
In an era when kickers were not often as involved in deciding games as they are today, Summerall converted 41% of his field goals and 95% of extra points with the Cardinals. He also played some defense and had the only pass interception of his career along with three fumble recoveries.
Summerall joined the New York Giants in 1958 and helped lead the team to the NFL Championship Game against the Baltimore Colts, a game commonly referred to as the Greatest Game Ever Played. His 49-yard field goal in the regular season finale against the Cleveland Browns ensured a playoff for the conference title, which the Giants won.
The 1959 season was the best of Summerall’s career as he converted a career-best 69% of his field goals (20 of 29) and was perfect on extra points while scoring a career-high 90 points. He retired after scoring 88 points in the 1961 season.
Summerall began his broadcasting career working part-time for New York Giant games in 1962. In 1964 he was hired by CBS to serve as a color commentator for NFL broadcasts. He served in that role until 1974 when he moved to the role of play-by-play announcer. Read the rest of this entry →
March 10, 2013 by
In honor of women’s history month, we recognize as the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month a woman who not only was the first woman to successfully swim the English Channel, but swam the channel faster than any person (man or woman) had done to that point in history.
Having proven her swimming ability while winning one gold and two bronze medals during the 1924 Summer Olympics, American Gertrude Ederle swam the challenging English Channel faster than any human previously when she swam from France to England in a time of 14 hours and 39 minutes on August 6, 1926. Read the rest of this entry →
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 →