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Sports Then and Now



Basketball Court Design: Surfaces and Hoops 2

Posted on August 23, 2013 by Daniel Lofthouse
Cameron Indoor Stadium is one of the most famous basketball venues in the world.

Cameron Indoor Stadium is one of the most famous basketball venues in the world.

The design of the modern basketball court goes back to the earliest days of basketball in the 1890s. In these formative years, the game was played in YMCA and school gymnasiums across the country – wooden floorboards and peach baskets nailed to the wall made up these first basketball courts. Though the baskets would be eventually replaced with a hoop and net, and outdoor basketball would be played on a variety of asphalt or tarmac services, the wooden surface inherited from those first gymnasiums persists to this day.

Surfaces
Maple boards are most commonly used in basketball court surfaces, prized for their consistency when dribbling and providing good grip characteristics for players. However, as a hardwood, it can be adversely affected by moisture and consequently maple boards must be laid to take into account the expansion of the wood over several years. Poorly laid floors can suffer from “dead zones” where the ball won’t bounce as well – frustrating for players.

Even the best quality basketball courts will need regular maintenance to protect them from the wear and tear caused by regular play. At the most basic, this includes daily mopping of dust and regular cleaning. Read the rest of this entry →

Ex-Celtics Coach Doc Rivers Made His Mark On Boston Sports History 0

Posted on June 27, 2013 by Dan Flaherty
The Doc Rivers ends and the coach can take his place in the Boston sports pantheon.

The Doc Rivers ends and the coach can take his place in the Boston sports pantheon.

The city of Boston seems to developing a pattern of these coach-for-player trades. Prior to baseball season, it was the Red Sox dealing Mike Aviles to Toronto in exchange for the rights to current manager John Farrell. Now it’s the Celtics on the other end of such a transaction, acquiring a 2015 first-round pick from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for head coach Doc Rivers.

The long-rumored trade marks the end of another era of the Celtics and the end of a great ride for Doc in Boston. Now that Rivers’ Celtic tenure is in the books, we can start asking questions about where his place is in the pantheon of Boston sports.

Doc Rivers had coached the Orlando Magic for three full seasons prior to arriving in Boston, and his first year in the Hub more or less mirrored what he’d done in Orlando. Boston had a nice year, going 45-37, but lost in the first round of the playoffs. Doc was in a rut where he’d consistently win 40-plus games, but couldn’t get four more in the postseason and move into the second round.

Over the next two seasons, everyone would have gladly taken Rivers’ previous track record. Though it wasn’t his fault, as the Celtic roster was basically reduced to Paul Pierce and four guys from the local gym league and plummeted first to 33-49 and then bottomed out at 24-58.

Actually the gym league crack isn’t fair, because the organization did have Al Jefferson, who would become the key piece to acquire Kevin Garnett, whom the Minnesota Timberwolves were ready to unload. And though players like Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins weren’t yet ready to be contributors, they were at least under development. But as far as legitimate help for Pierce, there was none until the team added Garnett, and then Ray Allen in the summer of 2007.

Now there were big expectations for Celtics basketball, and Rivers began to come into his own as an NBA coach. The Detroit Pistons were still the most respected team in the Eastern Conference, with a championship in 2004, a Finals trip in 2005 and then successive conference finals’ visits. Cleveland had LeBron James and was on the move. And could these new Celtics’ stars all mesh together?

No one succeeds in the NBA without star players taking the lead, but Rivers excelled at creating the atmosphere where Garnett, Allen and Pierce could first come together themselves and then get everyone else to fall in line. While dramatic improvement could have been achieved by a lot of coaches, not every coach could have racked up 66 wins and immediately made the team look championship-worthy.

Read the rest of this entry →

LeBron: Blame Canada Instead 1

Posted on July 25, 2010 by Ryan Durling

You can’t blame LeBron James.

Seriously.

LeBron was born in December of 1984. Not two years later, Run-DMC covered Aerosmith’s 1977 hit, “Walk This Way.”

Those two facts are very much related.

See, everyone went up in arms when LeBron broke up the LeBronettes and decided to play backup guitar in Dwayne Wade’s band. But he really only did what successful athletes/artists/actors have been doing his entire life.

Prior to the mid-80s, it was rare to see anybody go to bat for one of their rival’s teams – figuratively or literally speaking. When DMC covered Aerosmith, suddenly collaboration became the thing to do. It was a surefire way of saying, “yeah, I know I’m good, but imagine how good I could be with somebody else whose talents equal mine in a complimentary manner.”

Bird never would have played with Johnson. Russell never would have played with Wilt or Kareem. But why would they? They were the best at what they did and who needed anybody else?

The Prince still has some work to do before NBA fans will anoint him King.

Elvis didn’t mix with anybody else, and neither did the Beatles or Beach Boys a decade after him. Steve Miller? Don Henley? Freddie Mercury? He shared everything else with the world, but not his musical talents. None of them collaborated.

What about Pacino or Stallone or Harrison? Or DeNiro? Not in the 70s, anyway. Ford and Stallone, now well aware that they’re past their respective primes, have done a great job in supporting roles in the last 15 years or so – the atrocious Rocky Balboa notwithstanding.

Not even in the 80s did movie stars go out of their way to collaborate. Bruce Willis, Nic Cage and Tom Cruise – all rising stars in their own right – carried their own films, some more admirably than others.

But around the mid-80s, right when Run and Aerosmith were changing the game for good, a young Michael J. Fox teamed with Christopher Lloyd for the trans-generational hit Back to the Future. Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman tag teamed on Rain Man. The rest of the 80s would see some classic teams produce epic hits: Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams (1988),  Costner and Tim Robbins in Bull Durham (1988), and Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally 1989).

It took longer for collaboration to catch on in music, primarily because there was such a divide in the 80s between the long-established Rock scene and the up-and-coming hip-hop genre. Ice Cube, Ice T, Eazy-E and Dr. Dre worked together late in the 80s in their N.W.A. project, but produced but one hit together, “F*ck the Police,” which earned a letter of warning from the FBI and will likely go down in history as the song that started the rap movement.

Dre and Snoop Dogg began the 90s by collaborating on a glut of hits that – mercifully – pushed MC Hammer and Right Said Fred quickly off the front pages of the Billboard charts. En Vogue and Salt-N-Pepa, two groups influenced by Dre, were no strangers to collaboration either. It was Tupac who made collaboration big in hip-hop, however, working with artists from different labels and pushing their careers forward. Read the rest of this entry →

All Hail The Kings 4

Posted on July 13, 2010 by Ryan Durling

It’s been a strange year for sport. A team of Geriatrics made the NBA Finals, taking the defending champs to 7 games. Two teams who had never won a World Cup played for the championship. A team (avert your eyes, Bostonians) with a 3-games-to-zero playoff series lead melted and lost in Game 7 on home ice. At baseball’s all-star break, 3 teams who didn’t finish last year with a winning record lead their divisions. The once-unflappable Tiger Woods flapped and, ultimately, folded. A tennis match lasted over 11 hours, spanning 3 days. The Miami Heat built a basketball franchise that promises to be hated by all.

But when the year is over and Time Magazine writes its Person of the Year issue, these instances will all be asterisks, if that. Sport in 2010 will be marked neither by tragedy nor travesty, but rather by life running its course. Not 40 days after John Wooden – The Coach – passed away, so, too, did The Boss.

George Steinbrenner was, no doubt, a polarizing figure, but nowhere more than in the Bronx. What he represented drew the ire of eyes in Boston, Queens, Atlanta and Los Angeles, to be sure, but it wasn’t until twenty years into his ownership of the Yankees that his own fans warmed to him – and then, only after a three-year, league-imposed hiatus from the game.

Steinbrenner, Guliani and the World Series trophy in 2001 during an Esquire Magazine photo shoot.

But this is not a history lesson. No, this writer prefers to leave history to those more historically inclined. Steinbrenner’s passing happened at a fitting time; it was, after all, the one day of the year in which there is no sports news for ESPN or any other outlet to break. And, let it be known – even in the opinion of one who often criticizes ESPN for capitalizing on narcissistic moments in sport – that ESPN covered the passing of The Boss admirably, devoting an entire morning and early afternoon of coverage to Steinbrenner, his friends, once and former co-workers and the rest.

I am a Boston fan. I grew up in Upstate New York, with the exception some instances during my childhood in which I was transplanted in Massachusetts’ South Shore. That was enough to sell me on the Red Sox and Bruins and Celtics and Patriots, despite the fact that for most of the year I was surrounded by a majority of Yankees, Rangers, Knicks and Bills fans.

That does not make me immune to feeling the same chills that so many others probably felt this morning when Bob Knight, during a phone interview on SportsCenter, broke down crying not once, but twice while talking about Steinbrenner. Or when Dave Winfield got choked up on camera. I’m almost afraid to watch Derek Jeter’s interview, when it comes.

Baseball is the one sport whose season takes place without much competition. Sure, there is the occasional major golf or tennis tournament and every other summer, the World Cup or Olympics take center stage for a few weeks. But really, baseball goes from April to September without rival – it is only its postseason that is really challenged by other, regular sports. So to say that Steinbrenner was almost single-handedly responsible for making baseball what it is today might seem like an overstatement.

It’s not. Read the rest of this entry →

2009 – 2010 NBA Preview 1

Posted on October 27, 2009 by Matt Golden

Who will win it all in 2010?

Eastern Conference:

Eastern Division

Boston Celtics 62-20 (2)

If the Celts win more than 65, I start to get nervous. I’d almost rather 55. They will deal with an above average number of injuries, but the injuries are minor. The key word is management.

Toronto Raptors 46-36 (4)

Can Turkoglu do for Bosh what he did for Howard? I think this team gels, Calderon takes the next step, Turkoglu continues to be a killer in the pick and roll, and Bosh has his best year. This team will be a tough out.

Philadelphia 76ers 39-43 (8)

If Elton Brand stays healthy, the Sixers can sneak back into the playoffs…where they get swept by the LeBrons.

New York Knicks 32-50 (12)

They are a team of scrubs and role players. But they play D’Antoni ball so that makes them better than the Nets.

New Jersey Nets 21-61 (15)

Two words: Yi Jianlian. Watch out for the Russian mob.

Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Paul Warfield: The Perfect Receiver
      December 10, 2018 | 3:36 pm

      Warfield-DolphinsThe Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was perfection personified as a wide receiver during his NFL career.

      Known for his fluid movement, grace and jumping ability during his 13 year NFL career, Paul Warfield was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and key performer for the Miami Dolphins during their 17-0 campaign in 1972.

      Because the role of the wide receiver has changed so much and today’s star receivers get the ball thrown to them so many more times than in the pre-1978 era, Warfield is often overlooked when discussing all-time greats.

      But, think about this. Warfield averaged 20.1 yards per catch for his career (427 receptions, 8,565 yards) and 19.9% of his receptions went for touchdowns (85). By comparison, Julio Jones has averaged 15.5 yards per catch for his career and a touchdown in 6.9% of his receptions (46 TDs in 669 catches). Antonio Brown averages 13.4 ypc and a TD in 8.7% (70 of 804) of his receptions. Terrell Owens averaged 14.8 ypc and a TD in 14.2% of his receptions. Even Jerry Rice, considered the greatest receiver of all-time, averaged only 14.8 ypc and a TD in 12.7% of his catches.

      Read more »

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