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Sports Then and Now



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 →

NBA Won’t Be The Same Without Shaquille O’Neal 5

Posted on June 02, 2011 by Dean Hybl

At his peak Shaquille O'Neal was the most dominant player in the NBA.

There is little debate  that Shaquille O’Neal, who finally announced yesterday that he was retiring from the NBA, stuck around a couple years too long, but even the memories of him laboring up and down the floor for the Boston Celtics cannot taint his career as one of the best players of his generation.

We are quick today to throw out the names of Lebron, Kobe and Derrick Rose when discussing the best player in the NBA, but when Michael Jordan retired from the NBA for the second time in 1998, his position as the best player in the game didn’t go to a forward or guard, but instead to a 7-foot-1 center who was as athletic as any big man in league history.

From the time he entered the NBA with his fresh personality and illuminating smile, Shaquille O’Neal was more than a great player, he was a dominant presence both on and off the court.

During his four seasons in Orlando, he captivated the city and the league. Teaming with Penny Hardaway, Nick Anderson and Dennis Scott, he led Orlando to the NBA Finals in 1995 and could have likely spent a decade making Orlando a basketball power.

But Shaq always had his eye on more than just basketball and after just four seasons in Orlando left for the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles.

When Shaq was selected in 1996 as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history after just four years in the league he wasn’t chosen as much on the merits of his accomplishments as the promise of what he could become. Read the rest of this entry →

Kevin Garnett Makes Magical Return Against Orlando 0

Posted on January 19, 2011 by Raj Prashad

Garnett's energy was outstanding in his return from injury Monday night.

After missing nine games with a calf strain, the return of Kevin Garnett gave Boston the spark it needed to run past the remade Orlando Magic 109-106 Monday night.

The Celtics seemed to lack much intensity in their previous four games, but there was no question KG had returned to the floor in Monday night’s thrilling victory over the Orlando Magic.

On a critical Magic possession with 16 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the C’s holding a three-point lead, Garnett’s rotation on a Jameer Nelson pick led to a game-sealing steal to extend the C’s win streak to three. KG produced 19 points over 31 minutes while adding two steals, two assists, and a team-high eight rebounds. In his first game back, Garnett had a performance reminiscent of what he looks like when he’s healthy. Garnett crashed the boards, looked excellent on rotations, and was money from mid-range.

His game brought an extra level that produces more than statistics though. His all around energy and intensity on the defensive end brought another gear to everyone on the floor with him. Ray Allen was able to find open shots, Rajon Rondo penetrated the lane with ease, and Shaq had a quality outing regardless of being in foul trouble most of the night.

The men in green shot 60 percent from the field on a night where the second unit failed to find a rhythm. Boston’s stifling defense led to 13 turnovers, only allowed 26 points in the paint, and held the Magic to just under 46 percent shooting. Rondo recorded yet another double-double with 10 points and 13 assists, followed by Ray Allen who went 8 of 11 for 26 points over a team-high 39 minutes. Read the rest of this entry →

NBA Eastern Conference Preview: Can the Heat Buy a Championship? 1

Posted on October 27, 2010 by Dean Hybl

The Miami Heat have spent a lot of money to have three superstars, but can that bring them a title?

The NBA offseason was dominated by discussions about the Miami Heat and their acquisition of LeBron James and Chris Bosh to go with proven star Dwyane Wade. Many have predicted that these additions have not only made the Heat the most talked about team in the NBA, but also a prohibitive favorite to win multiple championships over the next several years.

However, with the Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks all are aiming to spoil the party for the Heat.

On opening night the Celtics reminded the Heat that they are still the conference champions with an 88-80 victory over Miami. With a bulls eye squarely on their back, the Heat will face similar challenges every night as they look to build team chemistry and look to live up to the hype.

Below is a division-by-division look at the Eastern Conference: Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Rod Carew: Hitting Machine
      July 5, 2014 | 3:42 pm
      Rod Carew

      Rod Carew

      With the Major League All-Star Game being played this year in Minnesota, we recognize as the July Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month one of the best hitters of the last half a century who was named to 18 straight All-Star teams, including in each of his 12 seasons with the Twins.

      Few have been as good at the craft of hitting a baseball as Rod Carew. During 19 major league seasons, Carew won seven batting titles and hit .330 or better ten times.

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