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.
Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors are the NBA Midseason Leaders, But Will They Be Standing in June? 3
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.
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 →
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 →
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 →
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:
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 →
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.
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.
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 →