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Sports Then and Now



30 Years Ago: Shocking Death of Len Bias 5

Posted on June 19, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Len Bias was an All-American at Maryland.

Len Bias was an All-American at Maryland.

It is hard to believe that 30 years have passed since that shocking day in June of 1986 when one of the brightest young basketball stars of the day was suddenly went from a sports icon to a national symbol for the drug epidemic that seemed to be plaguing the country at the time.

During his college basketball career as a member of the Maryland Terrapins, Len Bias was known as one of the most athletic and talented players in the game and was expected to be an impact player for the Boston Celtics, who chose him with the second pick in the 1986 NBA draft.

Instead, his shocking death on June 19, 1986 became the impact moment for America’s war on drugs and led to harsher laws that negatively impacted the lives of many low-level drug users, a disproportionate number of whom were young black men, who were suddenly faced with mandatory prison sentences.

Even though the Internet was still nearly a decade away, in the days following the death of Len Bias information, much of it proving to be inaccurate, was coming out fast and furious from a national media that was surprisingly captivated by the story.

Even today, it is not typical for a sports event other than the Super Bowl, Olympics or some other large event or a major tragedy to cross into the general national consciousness. However, because of the shocking and abrupt nature of Bias’ death and the fact that drugs were involved at a time when the national “war on drugs” campaign was at its apex, the death took on a larger than normal stature. Read the rest of this entry →

Are the Current Philadelphia 76ers the Worst Team in NBA History? 0

Posted on November 29, 2015 by Dean Hybl
The Philadelphia 76ers will need to get moving if they hope to not finish with one of the worst records in NBA history.

The Philadelphia 76ers will need to get moving if they hope to not finish with one of the worst records in NBA history.

The Philadelphia 76ers have started the 2015-2016 season with 17 straight losses, but they have a long way to go to be considered even the worst team in franchise history.

That honor currently rests with the 1972-73 76ers squad that remains the only team in NBA history to finish a complete (82 game) season with fewer than 10 victories.

With a roster that included future Hall of Famer Hal Greer in his final season and leading scorer Fred Carter, the 76ers had won 30 games the previous season, but started with 15 straight losses and were 3-35 before the calendar turned to 1973.

Head coach Roy Rubin was fired after a 4-47 start and replaced by guard Kevin Loughery, who was nearing the end of his 11-year playing career. Loughery was listed as a player-coach having played in 32 games earlier in the season, but after not scoring in the second game he served as coach, Loughery did not see action again and focused on his coaching role.

The 76ers were marginally better playing for Loughery with a 5-26 record, but all five of those wins came during a seven game stretch in mid-February. The team lost the first 11 games coached by Loughery and the last 13 to complete their miserable campaign with a 9-73 mark.

Given that the current 76ers have not won a game since March 25th, a string that includes their final 10 games of last season and first 17 so far this campaign, they certainly have a chance to match the futility of 1972-73.

However, given that the 76ers also started last season by losing their first 17 games, but finished with 18 wins on the year, there certainly could be time for the team to achieve respectability.

In comparing the 1972-73 76ers with the current team, the most striking difference is in the experience level of the team members. In addition to Greer, who was in his 14th season, the squad included three other players with 10 years of professional experience and only one rookie. Read the rest of this entry →

Will LeBron James be at Full Strength as Cleveland Cavaliers Start the Regular Season? 0

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 →

State of NCAA Men’s College Basketball is Debatable for What is Best for Game 6

Posted on April 11, 2015 by Chris Kent

As the 21st century moves forward, college basketball is becoming more and more known for the early departures. The so called “one and done era” has been alive for more than a decade. Gone are the days when student-athletes made a splash as a freshman and then continued to do so over three or four years in college.

Look no further than Kentucky for proof of this. Since John Calipari was hired as the Wildcats’ head coach in 2009, Kentucky has been the prime source of the “one and done era.” Add in a few sophomores who decided a second attempt at a Final Four or a national championship was worth coming back for and the Wildcats have been a landslide leader in this trend of kids leaving school early for the riches of playing pro basketball.

A total of seven Kentucky players declared to enter the NBA Draft earlier this week.

A total of seven Kentucky players declared to enter the NBA Draft earlier this week at a press conference shown here.

Last year was no different. After falling two wins short of becoming the first undefeated national champion in 39 years – following their 71-64 loss to Wisconsin in the 2015 national semifinals – , Kentucky announced that seven players from last year’s team have declared for the NBA draft. Among the seven are four starters including the starting backcourt of sophomores Andrew and Aaron Harrison, freshman center Karl Anthony-Towns, and junior power forward Willie Cauley-Stein. The others are forward Trey Lyles and guard Devin Booker, both freshman, along with 7-foot sophomore center Dakari Johnson.

All seven have the ability to play at the next level as either starters or reserves. Some have the potential to start right away for anybody while the fortunes of others will be influenced by how the NBA Lottery turns out. Early mock drafts have Anthony-Towns competing with Duke freshman center Jahlil Okafor – who has also declared for the draft – for the top overall pick. Anthony-Towns is  6-11 and weighs 250 while Okafor is 6-11 and 270. Both were among the nation’s dominant big men last season.

Should all seven of these players be drafted, it would set a new record for the most players selected from one school in a single draft. The Wildcat’s six selections in the 2012 draft – lead by top overall pick Anthony Davis – is the current record. Davis had lead Kentucky to the national title in 2012 in what was Calipari’s first championship. Read the rest of this entry →

Nate Thurmond: Dominating Defender 5

Posted on February 14, 2015 by Dean Hybl

The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a seven-time NBA All-Star and is still recognized as one of the best defensive centers in NBA history.

During a time when Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell were the dominant centers, Thurmond joined them as an elite scorer, defender and rebounder from the center position. 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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