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Can Magic, Larry and Michael Dominate the NBA Again? 1

Posted on March 02, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson were teammates during the 1992 Dream Team, but have been competitors for most of their careers.

Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson were teammates during the 1992 Dream Team, but have been competitors for most of their careers.

Of the 19 NBA seasons between 1979-1980 and 1997-98, only three times did the NBA Finals not include at least one of the trio of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan (two of which none of the trio played an entire season). With Johnson now joining Bird and Jordan leading an NBA franchise, can this trio again dominate the NBA?

The easy answer would seem to be no, but given the determination of all three NBA Legends, anything is certainly possible.

Michael Jordan’s track record leading an NBA Franchise has been a bit less than earthshaking. He had a dubious front office start by drafting Kwame Brown with the first pick of the 2001 NBA Draft while serving as Director of Basketball Operations for the Washington Wizards. He was ultimately fired by the Wizards following the 2003 season.

He became a part-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats in 2006 and as part of his role was the primary decision maker for basketball operations. Jordan became the majority owner in 2010 and has maintained that role through the name-change of the franchise back to being the Charlotte Hornets.

During the past decade, the Bobcats/Hornets have not been particularly impressive on the court. They have managed only three winning seasons and in each of those years lost in the opening round of the playoffs. The 2011-2012 team posted a 7-59 record during the strike-shortened season for a winning percentage of just .106.

Last season the Hornets had an impressive 48-34 record, but were again knocked out in the opening round of the playoffs. Expected to be a contender this year, they are currently 11th in the East with a disappointing 25-33 record.

Given his competitiveness, you can bet if Jordan sees Magic Johnson come in and return the Los Angeles Lakers to past glory, it will light an even greater competitive fire under the best player in NBA history.

While Jordan’s tenure as an executive has clearly been below par, Larry Bird has had some stretches of success leading the Indiana Pacers.

Bird served for three seasons as head coach of the Pacers from 1998-2000 and had an overall record of 147-67. He guided the Pacers to the 2000 NBA Finals where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers.

He became President of Basketball Operations for the Pacers in 2003 and in 2011-2012 was named the NBA Executive of the Year. He left the team for a year from 2012-2013, but since 2013 has again served as President of basketball Operations for the Pacers. Read the rest of this entry →

NBA Turns Up The Heat on Christmas Day 33

Posted on December 25, 2014 by Andre Smith
The NBA has used Christmas Day games as an opportunity to unveil new fashion. No telling what LeBron will be wearing this year.

The NBA has used Christmas Day games as an opportunity to unveil new fashion. No telling what LeBron will be wearing this year.

Christmas is the time of the year when most people’s thoughts have turned to celebration and relaxation with family and friends. For many professional athletes, however, it marks the busiest period of the year.

Festive fixtures are a much-loved part of the sporting calendar in the UK. The English Premier League is the highest profile soccer tournament not to take a break over the holidays—often causing consternation among the foreign players and managers that ply their trade in the competition, who are not used to the rash of matches. Spain, Germany, Italy, France and others all shut down their soccer leagues for a week or so.

But Christmas sport regularly offers wonderful entertainment for spectators and television viewers.

Crunch fixtures occurred over the holidays in both the NHL and NFL, and College Football’s schedule was also packed. However, it is the NBA in particular which provided a visual feast for sports fans in 2014, with no less than FIVE matches televised live on Christmas Day.

Cleveland Cavaliers matchup with Miami Heat took headline status, with the intrigue of former Heat favorite LeBron James returning to Miami in his second stint for the Cavaliers. The watching TV millions would have been expecting to enjoy the best match of the day as they celebrate the season of goodwill.

The Christmas Day Basketball match tradition began in 1947 when the, now defunct, Providence Steamrollers lost 89-75 to the New York Knicks. It was probably in 2004, though, when Christmas Day was chosen as the showcase day for the NBA’s best fixtures. Read the rest of this entry →

Earvin Johnson Still Has the Magic 15

Posted on February 24, 2012 by Joe Gill

Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were one of sports greatest rivalries of the 1980s.

When I was invited to a conference call with NBA and Lakers great Earvin “Magic” Johnson, I was awe struck. I grew up in Boston with the Celtics-Lakers rivalry dominating the sports world in the 80′s. I can still recall my early teens watching CBS on Sundays witnessing the epic battles between Magic and Larry Bird.  As a Boston sports fan, this was my first taste of winning prior to the new millennium.

It always seemed to come down to the Celtics and Lakers and Magic and Larry. They met three times in the NBA finals in ’84, ’85  & ’87. Larry and my hometown Celtics taking the first series but dropping the next two. I still recall being in my eighth grade field trip in 1987 in Hershey, PA watching Larry Bird’s shot clank off the rim as the Lakers were headed to another championship.

Did I hate the Lakers? Yes. Did I hate Magic Johnson? No.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson was an opponent that you had to respect. He played the game the right way. Along with Larry Bird, he helped save the NBA which was poisoned by rampant drug use. He had and still has a smile a mile long. Magic was someone that you could talk to about anything. These are all the same qualities that Larry Bird saw in him and that’s why they are great friends until this day.

So to say I was excited to hear one of these legends speak is a vast understatement. Read the rest of this entry →

Counting Down the 20 Greatest NBA Finals of All-Time 3

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 →

30 Years Ago: Celtics Edge Sixers In Series For The Ages 3

Posted on April 29, 2011 by A.J. Foss

In 1981 Julius Erving was at the top of his game and Larry Bird was an emerging superstar in the NBA.

Thirty years ago, the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers faced off in the Eastern Conference Finals, which is quite possibly the greatest NBA playoff series of all time.

The series went seven games, had five games decided by two points or less, and featured the Celtics overcoming a 3-1 series deficit to win the series and advance to the NBA Finals.

1981 was the second year of the Larry Bird era, who had won the rookie of the year in 1980 and had lead the Celtics to the greatest single-season turnaround in NBA history, as Boston finished with a 61-21 record, before falling to the Sixers in five games of the Eastern Conference Finals.

In the offseason, Bird would be joined with center Robert Parish and rookie power forward Kevin McHale, in forming the “Big Three” of the Bird era.

To go along with this legendary frontline, was point guard Nate “Tiny” Archibald and starting forward Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell as Boston went 62-20 in the regular season for the NBA’s best record.

The Sixers also went 62-20 in the regular season as they were led by forward Julius Erving,

who averaged 24.6 points and 8 rebounds per game, to win the MVP award for the regular season.

In addition to “Dr. J”, the Sixers’ lineup featured center Daryl Dawkins, known as “Chocolate Thunder”, defensive specialist Bobby Jones, a pair of point guards in Maurice Cheeks and Lionel Hollins, and a rookie guard off the bench, that would become known as the “Boston Strangler”, Andrew Toney. Read the rest of this entry →

NBA Memories: Bird vs. ‘Nique 2

Posted on June 15, 2010 by Joe Gill

Larry Legend and the Human Highlight Reel put on a show for the ages.(Photo NBA)

The playoffs are where superstars shine. Adrenaline and pure will take over.

If you believe you can’t be stopped, usually you can’t.

However, sometimes when your game goes to a new level, this challenge inspires your competitor to wrestle the spotlight away from you.

This happened on May 22, 1988.

It was the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

It was Game Seven.

Celtics versus Hawks.

Bird against ‘Nique.

It was for all the marbles.

The question was what superstar would shine brightest on the big stage of the NBA Playoffs.

The answer.

BOTH of them.

Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Joe Cronin: Player-Manager
      October 1, 2017 | 8:21 am
      Joe Cronin

      Joe Cronin

      In recognition of the start of the baseball playoffs, we recognize as the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month a man who managed pennant winning teams in Washington and Boston and spent more than decade as a player-manager.

      When the Boston Red Sox acquired Joe Cronin following the 1934 season they didn’t just get an All-Star player, they also got a new manager.

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