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Sports Then and Now



Can Magic, Larry and Michael Dominate the NBA Again? 0

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 →

Happy 80th Birthday Jim Brown 2

Posted on February 17, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Happy 80th Birthday Jim Brown!

Happy 80th Birthday Jim Brown!

Though it has been 50 years since he last carried a football in the NFL and most of his records have long been broken, Jim Brown still stands among the greatest ever to play professional football and is arguably still at the top of that list. We wish this legend and American treasurer a happy 80th birthday!

When he retired following the 1965 season at the age of 29, Brown held the NFL record with 12,312 career rushing yards. Though his mark was first passed by Walter Payton in 1984 and has since been eclipsed by seven other players, Brown remains the only player in NFL history to average more than 100 yards rushing per game (104).

Brown was the epitome of a player retiring at the peak of his greatness. In his final NFL season, Brown rushed for 1,544 yards and 17 touchdowns as the Cleveland Browns reached the NFL Championship Game.

In the 1963 NFL season, Brown rushed for 1,863 yards, which was the NFL single season record at the time. The following season, he gained 1,446 yards rushing and then had 114 yards to lead the Browns to what remains the last NFL Championship for Cleveland.

During his nine NFL seasons, Brown led the NFL in rushing an amazing eight times. At the time of his retirement, Brown’s career rushing total was nearly 2,600 more than second place Joe Perry. He also scored a then record 106 career touchdowns.

In the ensuing 50 years since he last wore an NFL uniform, Brown has spent time as an actor, but most importantly he has been a vocal leader in civil rights and supporting inner city youth. It is amazing to think that not only was Brown a great football player, but he was also one of the best college lacrosse players of his era. He was recently prominently involved when Hampton University, a predominantly African American school in Virginia, recently started a varsity lacrosse program.

It is interesting that arguably the greatest player in NFL history shares a birthday with the greatest player in NBA history, Michael Jordan. In fact, when ESPN ranked the top athletes of the 20th Century, Jordan was first and Brown fourth. Read the rest of this entry →

Basketball Classics: Jordan Usurps Magic In The 1991 NBA Finals 2

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.

Read the rest of this entry →

What a Day! Happy Birthday Jim Brown and Michael Jordan! 2

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 37

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 →

10 Most Memorable Championship Breakthroughs in NBA History 6

Posted on June 14, 2011 by A.J. Foss

Dirk Nowitzki can now add the words "NBA champion" to his resume.

After 13 years in the NBA, Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki is finally a NBA champion.

But he is not the only great player to win a NBA title after years of heartbreak.

Here are the 10 greatest championship breakthroughs in NBA history.

This list is not solely based on the greatness of the player, but how many disappointments that player or players had to go through before getting that elusive championship.

With that said, here is the list:

10. Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce, 2008 Boston Celtics
In the summer of 2007, the Boston Celtics traded for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to join mainstay Paul Pierce to lead the Boston Celtics back from the doldrums of the NBA.

“The Big Three” lead the Celtics on the greatest single-season turnaround in NBA history, as the Celtics won 66 games during the regular season after winning 24 games the previous season, and then advanced to the NBA Finals, where they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in six games for the franchise’s first NBA championship in 22 years and the first NBA title for Allen, Garnett, and Pierce.

9. Hakeem Olajuwon, 1994 Houston Rockets
“Hakeem the Dream” took his place among the great centers to play the game as he led the Houston Rockets to the NBA championship in 1994.

In a match-up of All-Star centers who had never won a NBA title, Olajuwon dominated Knicks center Patrick Ewing to win his first NBA title in his tenth NBA season.

“Hakeem the Dream” averaged 26.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 3.9 blocks per game in the seven games and made the game-saving play at the end of Game 6 in which he blocked John Starks’ potential game-winning three-pointer in the final seconds, to preserve a Houston victory and force a Game 7, where he scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to clinch the title for the Rockets.

One year later, Olajuwon and the Rockets won the title again, this time giving Clyde Drexler his first NBA title after 12 NBA seasons. Read the rest of this entry →

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