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Sports Then and Now



LeBron James: The Incredible Journey to the NBA 0

Posted on October 21, 2020 by Tiffany Watts

King James, The Chosen One, Greatest of All Time – these are just a few of the names that LeBron James has been known for his entire career. Indeed, the last one may seem contentious and is the source of constant dispute, but there’s no denying that he belongs in that conversation.

After winning the 2020 NBA Championship, LeBron has once again proven that he is one of the best basketball players in the world, if not the absolute and undisputed greatest player today.

At the age of 35, LeBron continues to dominate the competition which is unprecedented for someone who’s already spent 17 straight years playing in the NBA at the highest possible level. People remain wondering when Father Time will catch up to him, but that’s beside the point.

In his already historic career, LeBron has served as an inspiration not just for the young players in the league today, but also for regular people around the world. But it would be wrong to say that he was merely destined for this greatness. Much like other people, LeBron has had his fair share of struggles. A look back at his life and journey to the NBA into becoming one of the greatest athletes of all time is something that will truly motivate and inspire anyone, basketball fan or not.

LeBron’s Childhood

LeBron Raymone James Sr. was born on December 30, 1984, in Akron, Ohio. His mother, Gloria Marie James, was 16 at the time. LeBron’s father did not have a presence in his life, and it was only him and his mother since day one.

The early years of LeBron’s life were filled with constant movement from home to home. His mother struggled to find steady employment. He struggled to make friends in school, and he found it difficult to focus on his studies due to his situation. He fortunately found an outlet for himself by playing sports. He mainly played basketball and football.

He began playing organized basketball when he was in the fifth grade, and later on joined the Northeast Ohio Shooting Stars in the Amateur Athletic Union. This was where the seeds of greatness were planted.

A Star Athlete

LeBron went to high school in St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, where he played for the school’s football and basketball teams.

He immediately made an impact in the school’s basketball program. During his freshman year, he led the Fighting Irish to a perfect 27-0 record. He remained stellar throughout his high school playing days, being named Ohio Mr. Basketball and getting selected to the USA Today All-USA First Team consistently.

Read the rest of this entry →

Win Or Bust: Will The Miami Heat Seal Their Legacy With A Three-peat? 3

Posted on January 17, 2014 by Kimberly Baker

Will Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade be able to lead the Miami Heat to a third straight title?

Will Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade be able to lead the Miami Heat to a third straight title?

The Miami Heat are in a position to prove the world that they are one of the all-time greatest teams in NBA history. By pulling off a three-peat, they will join the ranks of the Minneapolis Lakers of the 1950s, the Boston Celtics of 1960’s, the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s, and the Los Angeles Lakers of the 2000’s.

While many NBA betting odds makers believe that the Heat are poised to win this year because of their accomplishments in the last two seasons, it should be remembered that winning three straight championships is not easy. Just ask Hakeem Olajuwon, Isaiah Thomas, and Magic Johnson, among others. They won back to back championships only to fail in their quest to win the third one. Read the rest of this entry →

Miami Heat Are Great, But Not GREAT 3

Posted on May 26, 2013 by Dean Hybl

1973-Knicks

The 1973 New York Knicks featured six future Hall of Fame players as well as one player (can you recognize him in this photo?) who would go on to become a HOF coach.

There has been quite a bit of discussion in recent weeks regarding how the current Miami Heat compare to some of the great teams in NBA history.

A pair of Hall of Famers and former New York Knicks stars Walt Frazier and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe have especially been criticized for daring to suggest that while the Heat are an excellent team, they have no business being considered among the great teams in NBA history.

It seems popular in our current society to think that whatever is happening now is “bigger”, “better” and “greater” than anything that could have ever happened in the “old days”. To today’s 20-somethings, NBA history means acknowledging that there was indeed a league before LeBron James and past stars like Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are better known as television pitch-men than for anything they ever did on the court.

To the current generation, the standard for a “great” team has been a squad with two or three legitimate All-Stars and then a collection of solid role players.  That model actually dates all the way back to the Chicago Bulls teams of the 1990s when Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant (for the first three)/Dennis Rodman (for the last three) and a bunch of guys who made occasional contributions and filled specific roles won six titles.

Of course the “big three” of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are the latest and greatest example of this strategy for building a team. Since their celebrated move to Miami in 2010 this group has led the Heat to a pair of appearances in the NBA Finals and the 2012 title. This season the Heat won 37 of their final 39 games, including 27 straight, and appear poised for another title run. Read the rest of this entry →

NBA Preview: Why Even Play The Regular Season? 0

Posted on October 29, 2012 by Dean Hybl

The Miami Heat are one of only eight franchises that have won the NBA Championship during the 28 year reign of Commissioner David Stern.

As the 2012-2013 NBA season begins in earnest this week, you have to wonder why they are even bothering playing the 82 game regular season. In the 28 seasons since David Stern became NBA Commissioner in 1984, only eight franchises have won the NBA Championship and given the continued stockpiling of talent by the most dominant franchises it seems highly unlikely that the monopoly will be broken this season.

In fact, on paper it looks like you can pencil in the defending champion Miami Heat and perennial champion Los Angeles Lakers for a star studded championship series.

Of course we all know that you don’t play the games on paper, but in a sports world where achieving parity and creating a competitive balance that provides every team and their fan base legitimate hope that they can win a title has generally become the norm, Stern and the NBA have gone in the exact opposite direction.

Not only does the NBA rank dead last in the percentage of franchises that have won a championship in the last 28 years with just 27%, compared to 43.8% for the NFL, 50% for the NHL and 60% for MLB, but they also are easily last in the total number of franchises that have even simply made it to the finals. Since 1984, 60% of NBA teams (18 of 30) have reached the finals. The NHL has the next lowest percentage at 73.3%, followed by the NFL at 78.1% and MLB at 80%.

What is quite amazing about those statistics is that the NBA continues to be able to convince cities across the country to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on new facilities and fans to shell out thousands of dollars on season tickets even when there is little chance their team will ever have a chance at significant, or long-term, success.

In 2010 the Orlando Magic opened a new arena at a cost of about $480 million with the Magic contributing about $50 million and the remainder being financed through public funding. Read the rest of this entry →

“The Decision” Is Not the Only Reason for the NBA’s Success 21

Posted on July 08, 2011 by A.J. Foss

The Miami Heat were must-see TV this year, but there were many other teams that NBA fans tuned in to watch.

It has now been one year since “The Decision”, the infamous one-hour show on ESPN where LeBron James announced that he would be “taking my talents to South Beach” to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami to play for the Heat.

According to some members of the media, it was this one hour that was the sole reason for the NBA to have their best season since Michael Jordan and the Bulls in the late 1990s.

But in my opinion, the league had been gaining momentum in the previous few years prior to “The Decision”.

The NBA’s resurgence really began during the 2007-08 season when the league’s two most legendary franchises, the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, returned to championship prominence and ended up meeting in the Finals.

Ratings for that year’s playoffs and NBA Finals increased significantly from the year before where ratings for the NBA Finals reached an all-time low when the San Antonio Spurs swept the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Celtics and the Lakers have remained title contenders in the three seasons after their meeting in the 2008 Finals as Los Angeles would go on to win the next two NBA championships, including a seven-game series win over the Celtics in 2010. Read the rest of this entry →

Big Three is Not Enough as the Dallas Mavericks Rule the NBA 16

Posted on June 12, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks claimed their first NBA title.

Though most of the attention and focus was given to the Miami Heat and their “big three”, the Dallas Mavericks and their superstar Dirk Nowitzki stole the show and the Larry O’Brien Trophy as the NBA Champions for the 2010-2011 season.

After losing two of the first three games of the series, the Mavericks won the last three games, including a 105-95 victory in game six on the Heat’s home floor, to win the first title in team history.

Much will be written about the “collapse” of the Heat and disappointing fourth quarter performances of LeBron James in the final three games of the series. However, what is truly deserving of ink is the grit and determination of Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and the Mavericks.

For the last decade the Mavericks have made a habit of posting a great regular season, only to fold in the playoffs. Over a 10 year span, they lost in the first round of the playoffs four times, the Western Conference semifinals four times, the Western Conference finals once and the NBA finals once. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Matt Snell: Super Bowl Hero
      December 24, 2020 | 4:06 pm
      Matt Snell

      The Vintage Sports Then and Now Athlete of the Month was the key weapon behind the most important upset in pro football history.

      While Joe Namath was the face of the 1968 New York Jets and Super Bowl III, Matt Snell was the backbone of the New York offense and primary weapon during the shocking victory.

      In many ways, the foundation for the 1968 championship squad started to be built in the 1964 AFL Draft when the Jets selected Snell, a star at Ohio State, with the third pick in the first round. Occurring at the height of the AFL-NFL player war, Snell was also drafted by the New York Giants in the 4th round of the NFL Draft (49th overall pick).

      Read more »

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