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Sports Then and Now



Waiting for the Weekend: Back from the Abyss 1

Posted on June 09, 2017 by Dean Hybl
LeBron James and Kobe Bryant each have been in the conversation about the greatest player in NBA history.

LeBron James and Kobe Bryant each have been in the conversation about the greatest player in NBA history.

When I started Sports Then and Now in 2009, one of the regular features of the site was a weekly Friday column in which I took a more in-depth look at a couple hot button topics in the world of sports. You may remember that in 2009 the country was struggling with unemployment at a level unseen for many years and I, like many others, was facing a time of being under-employed and had a bit more time to share my perspective about the world of sports.

Fortunately, my battle with under-employment was short lived and now as a country our unemployment levels are at all-time lows. While I have managed to find the time to continue Sports Then and Now as a web site, I have not had the same level of time to focus on the site as I did in 2009. Though I have been fortunate to have some quality articles written either by myself or in many cases other talented writers to keep the site going, things like my weekly Friday column became a victim of my busy life that not only includes a full-time job, but two kids and right now multiple youth sports coaching gigs.

However, I recently decided that I miss having a weekly platform to share some of my musings about sports. While I admit I may have a greater affinity for my work than deserved, I hope that my nearly 50 years as a sports fan as well as my training as a journalist makes my efforts at least somewhat entertaining.

Regardless, I have decided that beginning with this week, it is time to bring “Waiting for the Weekend” back after a seven year “sabbatical.” I promise to weekly give some thoughts and ideas about the current happenings in the world of sports, tie them to sports history when I can, and make them as entertaining as my talents allow.

So, without further delay, here we go:

Is LeBron the Greatest Ever? Does it Matter?: Even though it appears that LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to fall short of a second consecutive NBA Title, the fact that LeBron is appearing in the NBA Finals for the seventh straight season has necessitated the obligatory discussions about whether he is the greatest player in NBA history.

While I have my own opinions regarding LeBron’s historical status as well as the current talent level of the NBA, the question I have for anyone who fuels the discussion is why does it matter? When I was a kid we heard stories about the greatest from the early generations of NBA history including George Mikan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Bob Cousy and Oscar Robertson. In the 1970s, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Julius Erving ruled the day. In the 1980s it was Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. The 1990s were dominated by Michael Jordan with Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson and Karl Malone among those earning honorable mention. In the 2000s it was Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal ruling the land before LeBron took over.

The point is that regardless of what generation you connect with, there were NBA players who stood out above the crowd and were the best of that era.

Just given the physical evolution of the game and the methods of physical fitness, there is no question that LeBron James has a level of physical ability and skill that is unmatched in basketball history. However, that doesn’t necessarily make him the greatest player ever or conversely ensure that he isn’t the greatest of all-time.

Though by the time I was old enough to follow the NBA Wilt Chamberlain was better known for making car commercials with jockey Willie Shoemaker than he was for his basketball dominance, during his peak, Chamberlain was as dominant in terms of physical ability and skills as Jordan in the 1990s or LeBron today.

However, some would argue that because Bill Russell and a Boston Celtics roster filled with stars routinely kept Chamberlain from winning a title, Russell was better and Chamberlain was flawed. Read the rest of this entry →

2017 NBA Finals – No Surprises Here 4

Posted on May 29, 2017 by Dean Hybl
LeBron James and Steph Curry will be meeting in the NBA Finals for the third straight year.

LeBron James and Steph Curry will be meeting in the NBA Finals for the third straight year.

Finally. After a month and a half of preliminaries, the main event that every basketball fan has been waiting to see is finally upon us. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will be meeting in the NBA Finals for a third straight year.

After splitting the first two meetings, this one promises to provide more excitement and at least for now some clarity on which team can claim the title of being the NBA’s most dominant.

While this marks the first time that two franchises have met in the finals for three straight years, the fact that neither the Cavaliers or Warriors are among the big-market marquee franchises of the NBA has made it a bit harder to garner the type of excitement past NBA rivalries have enjoyed.

However, what the cities may not be prime time, both have marquee superstars.

Leading the way is LeBron James, who is without question the best player of this generation and is now in the conversation when discussing the best players in NBA history. Counting his four-straight appearances (and two titles) with the Miami Heat, James is making his seventh straight NBA Finals appearance.

Last year James finally accomplished his longtime mission of bringing an NBA Champions to Cleveland. While there isn’t the same sense of urgency as a year ago, winning another title would be another high mark on James’ career resume. Read the rest of this entry →

Are the Warriors and Cavaliers on Another Collision Course? 1

Posted on December 17, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Though the season is less than two months old, it seems likely that Stephen Curry and LeBron James will be meeting in the NBA Finals for the third straight year.

Though the season is less than two months old, it seems likely that Stephen Curry and LeBron James will be meeting in the NBA Finals for the third straight year.

The NBA season is less than two months old, but it already seems clear that we have a pretty good idea of where things are heading.

If you were putting down betting odds, it would be a pretty safe bet that come June, Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors will be facing LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals for the third straight year, but anyone who is interested in the top betting websites can click here and enter sportsbettingsitez.co.uk to give the online sports gaming experience a try.

After winning an NBA record 73 games a year ago, the Warriors added one of the top five players in the NBA during the offseason with the addition of Kevin Durant. After losing two of their first six games, the Warriors have lost only two more times and again have the best record in the NBA with a 23-4 mark.

Though they may not finish the season with as many regular season victories as a year ago, the Warriors are arguably a better team than a year ago. Their scoring average is up 2.4 points per contest and they are connecting on 49.4% of their field goals, compared to 48.7% a year ago.

The addition of Durant has given them a third scorer capable of posting big numbers any night. Though he is third on the team in shots attempts, Durant is leading the team in scoring at 25.5 points per contest and is second at 8.4 rebounds per contest.

Though Curry’s overall statistics are down a bit from his MVP numbers from a year ago, he is still averaging 24.9 points and 5.9 assists per contest.

While Klay Thompson’s scoring average is down slightly (from 22.1 to 21.7 ppg), his recent 60 point game is a reminder that he is an elite level scorer.

The Golden State player whose statistical numbers have taken the biggest hit following the addition of Durant is Draymond Green. Still an important player for the Warriors, his scoring has dropped from 14 to 10.8 points per game and he is averaging 8.5 rebounds per game (compared to 9.5 last season).

As was the case a year ago, the true test for the Warriors will come in the postseason. Last year they overcame Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. This year, with Durant now wearing their uniform, it appears the San Antonio Spurs will provide the biggest challenge. Read the rest of this entry →

Will LeBron James be at Full Strength as Cleveland Cavaliers Start the Regular Season? 1

Posted on October 22, 2015 by Andre Smith
After playing very little in the preseason, can LeBron James be ready for the regular season.

After playing very little in the preseason, can LeBron James be ready for the regular season.

While there have been some questions about whether an anti-inflammation shot that LeBron James received earlier this month would keep him off the court for the Cleveland Cavaliers season opener on October 27, the superstar is saying that he will be ready to face the Chicago Bulls in the opener.

Of course, the bigger question is whether the injury and shot will hamper the four-time MVP as he and the Cavaliers look to go a step further than a year ago by winning the NBA Title.

This news of him receiving a shot doesn’t come as a shock to many considering that the player also received a similar injection in January where he was inactive for two weeks. According to the team coach, David Blatt, the team will be couscous, but he expects James to be on the court for the opener. A league source was quoted saying that they trust that LeBron would respond well to the shot just like he did earlier this year and will be fit for the upcoming season.

After playing, albeit minimally, in the first two preseason games, James has missed the final five exhibition games and the LeBron-less Cavs haven’t been in good form. It took a 40-point third quarter against the Dallas Mavericks to keep the Cavaliers from going winless.

If anyone was to bet on the Cleveland Cavaliers starting the regular season on a high note, then they would be in for a surprise. Critics are in the opinion that maybe the Cavs don’t really take the exhibition schedule very seriously and would rather rest their best players waiting for the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry →

Stop the Spitting in Major League Baseball 5

Posted on October 19, 2015 by Mike Raffone

Spitting in Baseball

This cheeky comic may make your toes scrunch, but it speaks volumes about a vile habit that remains unchecked in America’s favorite pastime.

It started way back THEN in the 1800’s when baseball first blossomed and chewing tobacco was all the rage. Unfortunately, spitting in baseball has continued til NOW in 2015 as the sport thrives.

So, it’s about time someone like me addresses this scourge in sports by writing about it in today’s Sports Then and Now blog.

Spitting in baseball is a major league problem.

While watching this weekend’s ALCS and NLCS playoff games, I once again found myself disgusted by the disturbing discharges emanating from eminent National and American Major League Baseball players.

These orally induced actions seriously sully my spectating enjoyment and probably yours, too.

My guess is that all of America agrees with me on this issue. Baseball players, coaches and managers spit waaaaay too much. Read the rest of this entry →

Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors are the NBA Midseason Leaders, But Will They Be Standing in June? 8

Posted on January 31, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors have the NBA turned upside down.

Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors have the NBA turned upside down.

At the halfway point of the 2014-2015 NBA season the league seems to be turned upside down.

The best records in the league are held by the Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors, two teams with marginal pedigrees.

The Warriors last hoisted the NBA championship trophy 40 years ago when Rick Barry and Jamaal Wilkes led the way.

The last championship won by the Hawks was in 1958 when the team was based in St. Louis and Bob Pettit was the quintessential NBA star.

Conversely, two teams with nearly half of the titles in NBA history between them, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, are out of contention and already looking at next season.

According to top sports betting sites listed at www.sportsbettingacumen.com, the Warriors and Hawks are now among the favorites to win the NBA title.

However, given that neither team has a great track record of playoff performance, it is hard to slot them in as the likely finalists just yet.

Even with a 36-8 mark to start the season and two legitimate stars in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, it will be tough for the Warriors to make it out of the tough Western Conference. With seven teams in the conference already with 30 victories, the Phoenix Suns close behind (28 wins) and the Oklahoma City Thunder (23-23) now healthy and likely to push for a spot in the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Sudden Sam McDowell
      July 4, 2017 | 8:48 pm
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      Sudden Sam McDowell

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a hard-throwing lefthander who often led Major League Baseball in both strikeouts and walks. His off-the-field story also made him the prototype for a famed television character.

      Sudden Sam McDowell made his Major League debut for the Cleveland Indians a week before his 19th birthday and pitched in the majors for 15 seasons.

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