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Sports Then and Now



The Sixers Aren’t That Bad 0

Posted on January 11, 2015 by Mike Brest
Michael Carter-Williams has shown glimpses of greatness for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Michael Carter-Williams is a double-double threat every night, but must improve his shooting consistency if he wants to be an NBA star .

Philadelphia 76ers’ owner Josh Harris changed the franchise forever on May 14th, 2013. That was the day he hired Sam Hinkie to be the team’s general manager. It didn’t take long for Hinkie to make a name for himself. His first bold move took place on draft day. He traded the only all-star on the team, Jrue Holiday, to the New Orleans Pelicans for a top-five protected first round draft pick for the next year and Nerlens Noel. Noel was in the mix to go number one overall before tearing his ACL during the college basketball season. Later in the draft, the Sixers used the eleventh pick to select point guard Michael Carter-Williams out of Syracuse University.

The 2013 76ers were just as bad as advertised under first year head coach Brett Brown. Philadelphia actually shocked the world, winning the team’s first three games, what were the odds of that? but it was all downhill from there. During the season, the 76ers tied the NBA record for most consecutive losses (26). Hinkie was busy on the day of the trade deadline. Center Spencer Hawes was sent to Cleveland, while center Lavoy Allen and guard Evan Turner were dealt to Indiana. Philadelphia received a couple players and draft picks in return. The 76ers finished the season 19-63 for the second worst record in the league.

The 2014 draft was vital for Sam Hinkie and the organization. The Sixers selected Kansas freshman Joel Embiid third overall. Embiid, a 7 foot Cameroon native, was expected to be the top pick before injuries ended his only season as a Jayhawk. Many analysts have called him a franchise changer, and he’s been compared to Tim Duncan and Hakeem Olajuwon. He has not played a game this season and in all likelihood, won’t. It’s the same route Noel took last year. With the Pelicans pick from the Holiday deal, they selected Elfrid Payton tenth overall. Philly immediately traded Payton to the Magic for their selection (which was two picks later) Dario Saric. Saric is only 20 years old and is currently playing in Turkey. He’s under contract for the next two seasons in Turkey. Saric has the skill set of a point guard even though he’s 6 foot 10. He’s able to push the ball in transition and is very versatile. Saric won Euroleague MVP for the month of November. He will be able to join the Sixers in 2016. In the second round of the draft the 76ers selected K.J. McDaniels, Jerami Grant, and Jordan McRae (once they made some trades). Read the rest of this entry →

NBA Turns Up The Heat on Christmas Day 0

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 →

Interview with NBA Champion Wali Jones 3

Posted on May 06, 2014 by Scott Huntington

I recently got to interview basketball legend Wali Jones, who won the NBA Championship with Wilt Chamberlain and the 76ers in 1967. We talked about some basketball history, as well as the Masters Basketball Association Tournament that’s going on this week in Florida. The MBA tourney features high competition across teams with age groups from 40+ all the way up to 70+. Enjoy this conversation with an NBA Champion:

wali1

Hi Wali! Thanks for taking the time to talk. First of all, you’ve had a very impressive history. I saw you went to the same high school as Wilt Chamberlain?

He was before me, but the team I played on after was very good.  My brother played on two champion teams with him actually. I played with Wayne Hightower, and we were 84-4 in high school. I went to prep school, graduated in February and played with some of the great public league players and we were 18-1.

What was it like then going to the NBA and having a lot more competition?

Well, first the opportunity to play at Villanova was a tremendous thing, with the big five. We accomplished so much there, and some of the great NBA players played on that team. Jim Washington, Richie Moore. Those are guys I played with who made it to the next level. Then to be drafted by the guy who was the first African American to play in the NBA, Earl Lloyd. I eventually made it onto the Baltimore Bullets where I made the NBA All-Rookie Team there as a rookie. Just a footnote, I just left the owner of the Baltimore Bullets, Earl Foreman. We just had a reunion with the Virginia Squires at Virginia Beach, so that’s where I’m coming from.

Oh cool! How was that?

Oh wonderful. Dr. James, Charlie Scott, and even my teammate from the Utah Stars Jumbo Aikens was there. So it was a big reunion reminiscing about things like what we were just talking about, the opportunity to play in the NBA and ABA. It was outstanding to play with some of the greatest ballplayers of that time. I think there were only 18 teams so it was a great opportunity. Read the rest of this entry →

NBA’s 70-Point Club 6

Posted on March 06, 2014 by Scott Huntington

LeBron James’ recent offensive performance scoring 61 points against the Charlotte Bobcats makes him the 64th player to score at least 60 points in NBA history. It seems almost impossible to beat that record, or to top James’ sheer brilliance of mixing skill with durability and consistency throughout a single game. However, five players have surpassed that feat and propelled themselves into one of the most exclusive groups in sports: the 70-point club.

Wilt Chamberlain

wilt

Without a doubt, the king of single-game scoring is Chamberlain. The Lakers legend scored at least 70 points in a single game six times, which is easily the most ever. Chamberlain also holds the overall record for points in a game, with 100 for the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks in a 169-147 victory in 1962. The 100-point performance shattered the previous record, which Chamberlain had set less than three months earlier, of 78 points. Perhaps the most impressive part of his 100-point record was the fact that Chamberlain made 28 of 32 free throws as a .511 free-throw percentage shooter. Chamberlain would also score 70, 72, and 73 points in NBA games.

Kobe Bryant

kobe

Another Lakers great scored the second most points in a single NBA game ever. Bryant was simply unstoppable in his 81-point performance that lifted the Lakers over the Toronto Raptors in 2006. On his own, Bryant outscored the entire Raptors team 55-41 in the second half. The Raptors would have needed a Columbia utility vehicle in order to stop Bryant in the final 24 minutes of that game. Bryant shot the ball relatively few times considering his 81 points. He made 28 of 46 from the floor and added 18 points via free throws. Read the rest of this entry →

Preparing for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game (INFO GRAPHIC) 5

Posted on February 12, 2014 by Dean Hybl
Kevin Durant and LeBron James should be the leading stars in the 2014 NBA All-Star Game.

Kevin Durant and LeBron James should be the leading stars in the 2014 NBA All-Star Game.

Since the first NBA All-Star Game in 1951, the annual gathering of the best players in professional basketball has provided an opportunity to revel in the amazing talents of these stars.

The 2014 game includes six first-time All-Stars, including two former number one overall picks (John Wall and Anthony Davis) that will be able to get off the dubious list of number one overall picks that didn’t make an All-Star Game.
Read the rest of this entry →

Ex-Celtics Coach Doc Rivers Made His Mark On Boston Sports History 0

Posted on June 27, 2013 by Dan Flaherty
The Doc Rivers ends and the coach can take his place in the Boston sports pantheon.

The Doc Rivers ends and the coach can take his place in the Boston sports pantheon.

The city of Boston seems to developing a pattern of these coach-for-player trades. Prior to baseball season, it was the Red Sox dealing Mike Aviles to Toronto in exchange for the rights to current manager John Farrell. Now it’s the Celtics on the other end of such a transaction, acquiring a 2015 first-round pick from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for head coach Doc Rivers.

The long-rumored trade marks the end of another era of the Celtics and the end of a great ride for Doc in Boston. Now that Rivers’ Celtic tenure is in the books, we can start asking questions about where his place is in the pantheon of Boston sports.

Doc Rivers had coached the Orlando Magic for three full seasons prior to arriving in Boston, and his first year in the Hub more or less mirrored what he’d done in Orlando. Boston had a nice year, going 45-37, but lost in the first round of the playoffs. Doc was in a rut where he’d consistently win 40-plus games, but couldn’t get four more in the postseason and move into the second round.

Over the next two seasons, everyone would have gladly taken Rivers’ previous track record. Though it wasn’t his fault, as the Celtic roster was basically reduced to Paul Pierce and four guys from the local gym league and plummeted first to 33-49 and then bottomed out at 24-58.

Actually the gym league crack isn’t fair, because the organization did have Al Jefferson, who would become the key piece to acquire Kevin Garnett, whom the Minnesota Timberwolves were ready to unload. And though players like Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins weren’t yet ready to be contributors, they were at least under development. But as far as legitimate help for Pierce, there was none until the team added Garnett, and then Ray Allen in the summer of 2007.

Now there were big expectations for Celtics basketball, and Rivers began to come into his own as an NBA coach. The Detroit Pistons were still the most respected team in the Eastern Conference, with a championship in 2004, a Finals trip in 2005 and then successive conference finals’ visits. Cleveland had LeBron James and was on the move. And could these new Celtics’ stars all mesh together?

No one succeeds in the NBA without star players taking the lead, but Rivers excelled at creating the atmosphere where Garnett, Allen and Pierce could first come together themselves and then get everyone else to fall in line. While dramatic improvement could have been achieved by a lot of coaches, not every coach could have racked up 66 wins and immediately made the team look championship-worthy.

Read the rest of this entry →

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