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Sports Then and Now



Basketball Classics: Jordan Usurps Magic In The 1991 NBA Finals 0

Posted on June 07, 2013 by R. Hoyal

Jordan vs Magic

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.

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What a Day! Happy Birthday Jim Brown and Michael Jordan! 0

Posted on February 16, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Happy 50th Birthday Michael Jordan!

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 →

Happy Birthday Jim Brown and Michael Jordan 32

Posted on February 17, 2012 by Dean Hybl

Happy Birthday to two all-time greats: Michael Jordan and Jim Brown.

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 47 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.

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 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.

Much like Brown, Jordan towered over the others in his era. Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles and it is likely they might have won more had he not missed nearly two years pursuing a career in major league baseball.

Unlike Brown, Jordan will never be considered as the best-ever in a sport other than basketball, but even today there is a general perception that Jordan was the greatest to ever play in the NBA.

In celebration of the birthdays of these two sports legends, I have assembled some youtube clips that highlight their greatness.

Happy Birthday to two all-time greats.

Read the rest of this entry →

Counting Down the 20 Greatest NBA Finals of All-Time 0

Posted on May 31, 2011 by A.J. Foss

Willis Reed scored only four points in the seventh game of the 1970 NBA Finals, but his mere presence on the court helped lift the Knicks to a championship.

The NBA Finals begin tonight, as the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks battle it out for the Larry O’Brien trophy.

With that in mind, it’s time to take a look back at the 20 greatest NBA Finals of all time.

These are the 20 best series, not best moments, so moments like Magic Johnson’s “junior, junior” sky-hook are not on this list.

To get on this list, the series had to feature multiple close games or more than one classic moment or performance.

So, here are the 20 greatest NBA Finals of all time:

20. 2010 Lakers-Celtics
The latest edition of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry was another seven-game series as the Lakers avenged their loss to Boston in the 2008 Finals, with a win over the Celtics in 2010.

Five of the seven games were decided by single digits and featured Ray Allen’s record-breaking performance in Game 2 with eight three pointers.

Game 7 was low-scoring but memorable as the Lakers overcame a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter, to pull out an 83-79 win.

19. 1974 Celtics-Bucks

The home court advantage was worthless in this series as the road team won five of the seven games in these Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks.

The series also featured a pair of overtime games, including the famous Game 6 double overtime win by the Bucks on Kareem Abdul-Jabaar’s 17-foot sky hook in the second overtime for a 102-101 win in Boston Garden.

Game 7 went to the road team, which was the Celtics, as they defeated Milwaukee 102-87 win, for the franchise’s 12th NBA championship and first without Bill Russell.

18. 1958 Hawks-Celtics
The St. Louis Hawks got revenge for their loss in the 1957 Finals, as they defeated the Celtics in six games, with all four of the Hawks’ wins by a combined eight points.

The most memorable moment from this series came in the clinching sixth game, as Hawks forward Bob Pettit poured in 50 points, including 18 of the last 21 points in St. Louis 108-107 win.

17. 1951 Royals-Knicks
No team in NBA history has ever won a best-of-seven series after falling behind 0-3, but the 1951 New York Knicks came very close.

After losing the first three games of the series, the Knicks won Games 4 through 6 to force a Game 7 against the Rochester Royals (now Sacramento Kings).

Game 7 was tied at 75-75 with almost a minute to play until Royals guard Bob Davies sank two free throws to break the tie as Rochester went on to win the game 79-75 and their only NBA title.

16. 1976 Celtics-Suns
The 1976 Finals is remembered most for the Game 5 triple overtime win by the Celtics over the Suns in perhaps the greatest NBA Finals game of all time.

But the series itself was pretty exciting as the heavy underdog Suns came back from a 0-2 deficit to win Games 3 and 4 in Phoenix to force the memorable fifth game.

Much like they did in Game 5, the pesky Suns did not go away as they held a 67-66 lead in the fourth quarter of Game 6, before Boston outscored Phoenix 21-13 over the last 7:25 of the game to pull out an 87-80 victory and clinch their 13th NBA championship. Read the rest of this entry →

In the NBA, Great Teams Still Top Great Individuals 0

Posted on March 07, 2011 by Dean Hybl

It will take more than just the "Big 3" if the Miami Heat hope to win a championship.

The recent struggles of the Miami Heat offer another reminder that it takes more than just having great players to make a great team. Though the Heat have two of the best players in the game in Lebron James and Dwyane Wade and another All Star in Chris Bosh, they have yet to develop the chemistry needed to become championship contenders.

Through NBA history, there have been many teams with two or three superstars. However, what has helped some squads rise above the others to championship level has often been having a supporting cast specifically designed to accent the strengths of the star players.

Here is a look at five teams that had at least two superstars, but became super teams because of the supporting cast that filled specific roles and allowed the stars to be stars.

1980s Los Angeles Lakers – Arguably, the trio of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and James Worthy makes James, Wade and Bosh look like the Three Stooges. When you add to the mix players like Byron Scott, Norm Nixon, Mychal Thompson, Michael Cooper, Kurt Rambis, A.C. Green, Jamaal Wilkes and Bob McAdoo you have the makings of a team that won five World Championships and reached four other NBA Finals in a 12 year stretch.

1980s Boston Celtics – To compete with the great Lakers teams, the Boston Celtics of the 1980s had to have their own stable of superstars and great supporting players. While the supporting cast evolved over the decade, the trio of Larry Bird, Robert Parrish and Kevin McHale was constant. At various times during the decade, the supporting cast that helped them to three titles and five finals in the decade included Tiny Archibald, Chris Ford, Cedric Maxwell, Gerald Henderson, Rick Robey , Danny Ainge, Quinn Buckner, Dennis Johnson, Scott Wedman, Bill Walton and M.L. Carr. Read the rest of this entry →

Top 25 Moments in NBA Finals History 6

Posted on June 02, 2010 by A.J. Foss

Michael Jordan's last shot as a Chicago Bull nailed down their sixth NBA title.

The NBA Finals begin this week and provides a perfect opportunity to take a look back at the history of the NBA Finals with the 50 greatest moments in NBA Finals history.

In a previous column we looked at numbers 50-26.

Here are the top 25 NBA Finals moments of all-time:

25. Game 5 2005 Spurs-Pistons
Robert Horry, aka “Big Shot Rob”, came up with another clutch shot as he drills the game-winning three pointer with 5.8 seconds left in overtime as the Spurs defeat the Pistons 96-95 and take a 3-2 series lead.

Horry scores all 21 of his points in the 4th quarter and overtime (with the exception of his basket on the last shot of the third quarter) as the Spurs would defeat the Pistons in seven games for their third championship in seven years and Horry’s sixth NBA title as a player.

24. Game 4 1975 Warriors-Bullets
The Golden State Warriors, a team that finished with a 48-34 record during the regular season, pull over a shocking four-game sweep of the Washington Bullets, 60-22 in the regular season, in what is regarded as the greatest upset in NBA finals history.

23. Game 6 1997 Bulls-Jazz
With time winding down and the game tied 86-86, the Jazz double-team Michael Jordan in hopes of forcing a bad shot.

Instead, Jordan passes it to Steve Kerr who drills a 17-foot jumper as the shot clock expires to give the Bulls a 88-86 lead with five seconds left.

The Bulls preserve the victory and their fifth NBA championship when Scottie Pippen steals the ensuing inbounds pass, and then passes it off to Toni Kukoc who slams it home for a 90-86 win and a six-game series win. Read the rest of this entry →

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      July 5, 2014 | 3:42 pm
      Rod Carew

      Rod Carew

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