Posts Tagged With: Allen Iverson

From One Generation to the Next: Kobe and LeBron Face Off Thursday Night

From Twitter: Then (2004) and now (2015)

Last night, the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Los Angeles Lakers 109-102 in Staples Center. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise due to the Lakers’ struggling to find what works for the team (for the past couple of years). What was so special about the game, though, is the symbolism. Guard Kobe Bryant faced off against forward LeBron James for what some are saying could be the last time this ever happens.

Here’s where the symbolism comes in: Bryant is 36 years old and on the verge of retirement, while James just turned 30 in December and arguably hasn’t even reached his peak professionally yet. Though Bryant had more assists than James (17 compared to five), James dropped 36 points, 17 more than the Mamba, and came away with the win. During and after the game, James and Bryant were very complimentary of one another, showing the utmost respect for their opponent.

“We love going against one another, it brings out the best,” James said of he and the Lakers veteran. “(He’s) someone I’ve always looked up to, someone I’ve admired. It’s always great competition going against him.”

To view James’ full postgame interview with Rachel Nichols, click here.

Seeing them reminds me of how the next generation of superstars are rising up.

You always hear about people age 40 and over talk about Magic Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Larry Bird and guys from that era and you think, “Wow, that was a really long time ago.” Now, for the late 80s and 90s babies, it’s our turn to reminisce:

I can remember a time when the superstars of the league were Bryant, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, Shaquille O’Neal, etc. and the Eastern Conference was filled with competitive teams, many of which were over .500 (but no shade). I can remember the Lakers’ three peat and the infamous 2001 NBA Finals where Iverson came as close as he’d ever be to getting a ring. If you ask people my age who their favorite player was growing up, most of them will choose someone from the men I listed above.

But now, you see the next generation of superstars. Jerseys of James, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Damian Lilliard, Steph Curry, etc. now are hot ticket items and have replaced the superstars of old. Bryant is one of the few players of that time to still be an active player on an NBA roster (Jermaine O’Neal may or may not be trying to become part of that list again). Most of those guys are commentators, coaches or have kids following in their footsteps playing basketball in high school or even college (like Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp).

So, congrats to James and the current generation of superstars. May you continue to build on the game for the next generation the way those before you did. Oh, and always remember: Ball is life!

Categories: basketball, NBA, Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Rise and Fall of a Dynasty: LA Lakers

Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

Growing up, I was a huge Allen Iverson fan. I wanted to play just like him, get his jersey, shoes and would spend countless hours trying to imitate his moves. The best time to be an AI fan was in 2001 when the Philadelphia 76ers were in the NBA Finals. I just knew The Answer was going to get his ring alongside Eric Snow, Dikembe Mutombo, Keith Van Horn and the rest of “the crew.” But that year, and the only year AI would get that far in the playoffs, they faced the Los Angeles Lakers.

Being born and raised in California, the Lakers were the “it” team. From Kareem to Magic to Shaq and Kobe, they were the face of California basketball (though we had other ball teams, but they didn’t count). Anyway, as history would have it, the Lakers went on to win the ‘ship with a 4-1 series. Watching the game with die hard Lakers fan family members made it even worse because the trash talking was never-ending. That was the point, despite my California roots, I began to despise the Lakers.

Over 10 years later, the hate has been transformed into concern and pity. This Lakers franchise that has more championships than several teams combined certainly isn’t what it used to be. It’s almost the polar opposite. The team is 6-16, the team vibe is tense and Kobe Bryant, the franchise player, has expressed his not-so-nice feelings on the current state of the team. Even though the season is just really getting started, being in the Western Conference, the Lakers probably won’t see the playoffs and if they do, it’s highly unlikely they make it far.

But, what happened? When did it all change? The last championship the team won was in 2010 and the chance of that changing anytime soon is far-fetched. The great Dr. Jerry Buss has passed and Phil Jackson is now part of the New York Knicks franchise. The franchise I loved to hate after that faithful 2001 finals appearance has come and gone.

Is there a chance they can get it back? Sure. Before Bryant retires? Not likely. It’s going to take a thorough rebuilding of both the Lakers and the 76ers to get back to playoff talks, let alone the championship. With many different teams trying to build their own dynasties, the ante has been upped. But who knows? Maybe some day, the team will be a force again and some little girl from California will go against her family and root against the Lakers in a potential NBA Finals playoff series.  And with something so simple, that will be the moment she discovers a passion and love for the game.

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Cards Crowned Champions

Cardinals celebrate after winning a great game against Trey Burke and the young Michigan team

I haven’t written in a while, but after last night’s game, I feel like this is a good opportunity to pick up where I left off.

First off, congratulations to Michigan on a great season. Trey Burke proved last night why he is the Naismith POY. When it seemed that Michigan was slipping, Burke kept them in the game, ending with 24 points.

Now to the champs: Louisville is a phenomenal team that truly earned the title “National Champions.”

They ended the season with a 35-5 overall record, which is just as impressive as their skill sets and coaching.

After Kevin Ware‘s season-ending injury against Duke in the Elite Eight, most were unsure about the future of the Cardinals. However, with guards like Peyton Siva and Russ Smith, not to mention the powerful center Gorgui Dieng, Louisville made it to the championship game. One of the biggest shockers of the game was Luke Hancock.

Coming off the bench, Hancock had 22 points. His four consecutive three-pointers were the fire that re-ignited the Cardinals after starting off slow in the first half. His amazing performance in last night’s game resulted in him being named the most outstanding player. This is the first time in NCAA history that a player coming off the bench has earned the award.

Louisville’s well-known defense began to tighten up and they began to play their pace of basketball late in the first half. Michigan did well in the first half, but it was Louisville who owned the last half of the game. Another big factor to Louisville’s success was Russ Smith. Although he only had nine points, Smith, or “the poor man’s Allen Iverson” as his coach calls him, was able to provide that presence on the court and assist the Cardinals in a major way.

As if the possibility of winning a national championship wasn’t enough motivation, Louisville played hard and were determined to win big for their injured teammate, Kevin Ware. After the injury, many of the guys tweeted and Instagrammed about their teammate, whom they consider more of a brother. Trends like #PrayForWare became popular as a way to show support for Ware and the Louisville men’s basketball team. After the epic win, the net was lowered, allowing Ware to cut down part of the rim and participate in the winning festivities.

In the midst of the excitement of the Cards winning, Smith’s father announced that Russ, a junior, will forgo his last year at Louisville and go to the NBA Draft. He is projected to go late in the first round or early in the second round. Good luck to him and the other Louisville players entering the draft this year.

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