Posts Tagged With: basketball

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!

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Nate Robinson is a Celtic again

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

Just when my head had finally stopped spinning from all the recent trades, another one happens.

Denver Nuggets Nate Robinson has been traded to one of his old teams, the Boston Celtics where a buyout is expected.

In exchange, Denver will get Jameer Nelson. Yahoo Sports’ Marc Spears first reported the trade this afternoon. Robinson’s return to Boston comes on the heels of the Celtics trading Jeff Green for Tayshaun Prince and a future first-round pick from the Memphis Grizzlies and Austin Rivers from the New Orleans Pelicans.

Robinson had a couple stints with the Celtics during the 2009-2010 NBA season when the team lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. He also spent some time as a Celtic during the 2010-2011 season. The Celtics, at this point, can use any help that they can get. So far this season, Robinson has averaged 5.8 points, 1.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists.

Though recorded as only being 5’9, Robinson can offer the team quickness offensively and will be good for a steal or two on defense for some fast break points.

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Rajon Rondo’s Return to Boston

Boston is familiar to Rajon Rondo, but playing there Friday night won’t quite be the same. He won’t be rocking the same green and white uniform he’s worn since he was traded to the Celtics in 2006 shortly after being drafted by the Phoenix Suns. This time, he’ll be the opponent from Dallas wearing blue and white. Rondo admitted that the return will be somewhat emotional, but sought advice from former Celtics teammate Paul Pierce, who told him to “keep blinking when I look up so I don’t cry.”

Rondo was traded to the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 18 after rumors of him being traded have been swirling around for years. This time, the trade was official and completed with Rondo playing in his first game as a Mav just a few days later. Now, with six games under his belt on his new team and not even a month away from Boston, he’s back. Rondo will be greeted by former teammates, some of which he calls his friends. Jeff Green, for one, considers the point guard a good friend and said it will be “weird to see him in a different colored uniform.” He can also look forward to a video tribute and a warm welcome from fans, which will make it a little more difficult for him to keep his composure.

Though it wasn’t his choice, leaving Boston for Dallas is a better move for Rondo’s career and certainly increases his chances of adding to the lone championship he won as a Celtic in 2008. The Mavs have a more complete team to which he adds, as opposed to a young and rebuilding Celtic team, which includes a young Brad Stevens coach in his second year of coaching in the NBA.

As far as the game this evening, I see the Mavericks getting the road win, which will probably be bittersweet for Rondo. The win will be good for him and his new team, but in the back of his mind, Rondo can’t help but to forget about the Celtics team that made him the player he is today.

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NBA on Christmas Day

Football is to Thanksgiving as basketball is to Christmas: they just work together. Throughout the day, five games will be played, starting at noon ET on ESPN with the New York Knicks hosting the Washington Wizards in Madison Square Garden. The NBA-filled day ends at 10:30 ET on TNT in Los Angeles as the Clippers take on their rivals, the Golden State Warriors, which will hopefully be a good game. Between spending time with family, I plan to watch as many games as possible. Here are my picks for each game:

  • Wizards at Knicks: Wizards. I think this one is a give-me game for the Wizards. The Washington team is doing well, with John Wall averaging 17.8 points, 10.4 assists and 4.6 rebounds. Their team gels well together and are currently 19-8, making them third in the Eastern Conference. The 5-25 Knicks, however continue to struggle and even though Carmelo Anthony is putting up big numbers, 23.7 points per game, it’s not enough. Wizards win 100-89.
  • Thunder at Spurs: Thunder. Even with Kevin Durant out, I give Oklahoma City the advantage. Kawhi Leonard is still out for the Spurs and Tony Parker may be out as well. Russell Westbrook seems to be running on all cylinders. If he plays the point, Cory Joseph is going to have a rough time trying to contain him. It will, of course, be a more competitive game than the one before, but I give the Thunder the edge 99-95.
  • Cavaliers at Heat: Cavaliers. Well, this will certainly be an interesting (and tense) game. It will be LeBron James’ first time back in South Beach since he decided to leave earlier this year. No doubt, he will be showered with boos, but still play well. The Cavs are still getting used to playing with one another, but at 17-10, I think they can arrange to do some good things on the offensive end to get the victory. With Chris Bosh out indefinitely, the Heat’s front court will take a hit. Kevin Love is currently averaging a double-double, making him a threat when it comes to shooting and crashing the boards. Kyrie Irving’s quickness will be too much for Mario Chalmers, allowing him to get the ball where it needs to be in a timely manner. Even with the home court advantage, Miami falls to Cleveland 94-110.
  • Lakers at Bulls: Chi-town. Derrick Rose is back. *drops mic* …*picks mic back up* But seriously, even if Kobe Bryant plays, it won’t be enough for the Lakers to get the win in Chicago. The Bulls have a good thing going and I don’t see the LA team messing that up. If Nick Young gets hot, he can put up some major points, but on the other side, there’s Rose and Jimmy Butler at the other end ready to fire at will with former Laker Pau Gasol getting it done in the paint. Being that Gasol is playing his former team and Carlos Boozer his former team, it will be interesting to see how each does. Chicago has the advantage 103-97.
  • Warriors at Clippers: Clippers. This is heart over head decision. The 19-10 Clippers have to keep it moving and get the win. Golden State is coming off a 115-105 loss to the Kobe-less Lakers, which could work in either team’s favor. The Warriors could use it as motivation to get the next win. The Clippers can be motivated by it because if a struggling Lakers team can win without Bryant, they should be able to get the job done with the squad they have. Being at home on Christmas Day, I trust that everyone will step up and put on a great show. Clippers take care of business and win 118-113.

Merry Christmas!

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Kobe Bryant: Like Mike or Better?

Associated Press

It’s almost ironic that the last post was about the Lakers’ decline and now I’m talking about Kobe Bryant surpassing the GOAT Michael Jordan as third in all-time scoring. Last night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Bryant reached 32,293 points after making two free throws in the third quarter. The only people in front of him now are Karl Malone with 36,928 points and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with 38,387. Bryant ended the game with 26 points, six rebounds and two assists in the 100-94 win over the Timberwolves.

I think everyone can recognize Bryant as one of the best to ever do it, but some have gone as far as to say he’s better than MJ. This, mostly coming from those who were born around the time Jordan was about to retire…well, the first time. Though I do fit somewhat in this category, I can’t say I agree. Michael Jordan truly changed how basketball is played. He’s the standard when it comes to greatness. Today’s great, LeBron James, has been compared to Jordan on numerous occasions. Have there been comparisons between him and Bryant? Maybe, but most likely only when it came to who has a better chance of beating Jordan (see where this is going?).

The obvious thing to point out would be the number of rings each great has. It does have some validity to it, but it almost seems like such a basic argument at this point because it’s been used so much. Instead of pointing out Jordan has more rings, it’s better to look at the teams each had and how they impacted the sport. Both played with Hall of Famers, but Jordan was able to assemble his team more effectively than Bryant has (or likely will). As a result, he has the sixth ring, as opposed to Bryant’s five.

Jordan was also able to accomplish more in less time than Bryant, not to mention the fact that Jordan went to college. Bryant came into the league from high school, which would seem to give him a four-year advantage. But, the time Jordan spent at UNC developed him better and allowed him to be more prepared, thus making him better coming into the league. From there, Jordan was able to do things no one has ever done before. Players now, including Bryant, model their game after Jordan, but it’s doubtful anyone will surpass him as the GOAT.

This is not to take away from Bryant’s legacy as a player. After all, he is one of the top 10, if not top 5, player ever in the mind of many and certainly one of the greatest of this generation. But before saying he’s better than Jordan, take all things into account.

* Another interesting to point out was who Bryant was playing against for this milestone. Bryant has made mention of seeing huge potential in Andrew Wiggins, the Timberwolves rookie. He was taken in the first round in the 2014 NBA Draft and definitely has huge potential. The fact that Bryant said he sees himself in the young player speaks volumes to how he feels about him and his future. Only time will tell how everything will work out for Wiggins. But, mark it down now. Wiggins could very well be the greatest of the upcoming generation.

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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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Athletes Take a Stand

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged and what better way to start back up than talking about athletes with a cause, right?

These past couple of weeks have been filled with a lot of police-civilian tension because of two incidences where officers weren’t indicted for killing two black males, Michael Brown of Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner of New York. Many have spoken out about it and professional athletes are no different.

It all started with a few St. Louis Rams players, who came out before a game with the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture, made famous after Brown’s murder. Following that, other football players wore shirts that said, “I can’t breathe,” the now infamous words spoken by Garner, who was strangled on camera by the police.

NBA players began to do the same thing, with Derrick Rose being the first person to wear an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt. It then caught on and teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, LA Lakers and Brooklyn Nets (pictured above) wore the shirts together. Though it has drawn some controversy, and whether you agree with the decision or not, the fact that athletes are using their platforms for a cause is respectable. It isn’t unpopular to see them promoting clubs, alcoholic beverages and other products, so why not stand with and promote a cause?

This isn’t something uncommon for athletes of old to do. In 1968 during the Olympics, as they received their medals, track athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos bowed their heads and lifted their fists as a way to promote black pride. Though the two were suspended, they stood for something. Other athletes like Muhammad Ali also made their political views known without worry or care.

So often athletes are looked to as role models and even idolized for their performances on the court or field, but their behavior outside of that is less than flattering. But now, there are those who choose to make their views known by supporting a larger message. They can score all the points, get all the touchdowns and score as many home runs as they can, but being able to use their fame to promote justice and social change (or at least conversation about either two), is nothing less than admirable. That’s something to look up to.

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Violence Against Women Running Rampant in Pro Sports

In the last few months, it feels like there’s been at least one athlete every other week who is being arrested or charged with hitting, beating and/or raping a woman. This includes both college and professional athletes.

The first case was Ray Rice’s incident with his then fiance, now wife a few months ago. Greg Hardy followed suit when he beat up his girlfriend in May. Then, there was the football player, Joe Mixon, at Oklahoma State who punched a woman at a cafe a couple weeks ago. Also in the Big 12, two UT football players were accused of and released from the football team for raping a woman. The latest case comes in the form of former Miami Heat center Greg Oden punching his ex-girlfriend and formally charged Monday (today) with felony battery resulting in serious bodily injury, misdemeanor domestic battery, and misdemeanor battery resulting in serious bodily injury.

My question is: when will it end? Why do men think it’s okay to beat on women, especially ones they supposedly care enough about to be with intimately? Why aren’t women valued and respected?

And to my fellow females: Why subject yourself to this? If he hit you once, chances are he’ll do it again. So, why stay? Never underestimate your value or feel like you deserved it. I’m not just referring to physical violence, but sexual as well. No matter what anyone says, there is no outfit, attitude or actions performed that make you the cause of being sexually violated. There are many organizations and people who teach women how to prevent being raped, but what about teaching men and boys how to prevent raping?

The worst part is the lack of severity in the punishment of these athletes. If they are found guilty, sitting out two games isn’t enough. Being dropped from a team isn’t enough. Criminal charges should be enforced. If Michael Vick served time in jail and was dropped from the Atlanta Falcons for fighting dogs (he wasn’t the only one fighting them in that situation, by the way), how much more should you do to punish someone who violated  a human life?

I don’t consider myself a feminist, but as a woman, I know my worth as I feel every woman should. No woman, or any person for that matter, deserves to be violated in any way, shape or form. The fact that rapes and domestic abuse situations are becoming more frequent show that something needs to be done. The time is now to crack down on this recurrent issue.

When the punishments begin to become more severe and people ignore the fact that it’s an athlete committing the crime, then and only then will men begin to think a little harder before they act.

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Kyrie Irving to Stay in Cleveland

Basketball season is over, but you wouldn’t be able to tell with the free agency buzz circulating. The free agency period began midnight Tuesday and phones haven’t stopped ringing since then. The biggest free agents being pursued include LeBron James, Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony, but the first to re-sign is Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving.

Irving has agreed to stay in Cleveland for the next five years, a deal worth $90 million.

The official deal will be signed July 10.

Though Irving has yet to earn a playoff seed with the Cavs, he averaged 21 points and six assists last season. Despite his decision to stay, things haven’t always been easy for the guard. Problems between him and teammate Dion Waiters were evident during the past two seasons. But both Irving and Waiters maintain there’s no beef between them.

Irving re-signing with the Cavs is a good decision on his part. As the franchise player and the point guard, Cleveland can build around him. Also, with Andrew Wiggins coming in, the two will be great offensively and can be seen as the start of something  really good in Cleveland. If LeBron James decides to come back to the Cavs (which would be every Cav’s fan’s dream come true), this team would be a force to be reckoned with.

For the next week, James and other free agents will be under the spectrum to see if they’ll be like Irving and stay with their current team or take their talents somewhere else. You’re on the clock, gentlemen.

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NBA Draft 2014

Here are the results from tonight’s NBA Draft:

Round One

1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Andrew Wiggins (Kansas)

2. Milwaukee Bucks – Jabari Parker (Duke)

3. Philadelphia 76ers – Joel Embiid (Kansas)

4. Orlando Magic – Aaron Gordon (Arizona)

5. Utah Jazz – Dante Exum (Australia)

6. Boston Celtics – Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State)

7. L.A. Lakers – Julius Randle (Kentucky)

8. Sacramento Kings – Nick Stauskas (Michigan)

9. Charlotte Hornets – Noah Vonleh (Indiana)

10. Philadelphia 76ers – Elfrid Payton (UL Lafayette); traded to Magic

11. Denver Nuggets – Doug McDermott (Creighton); traded to Chicago Bulls

12. Orlando Magic – Dario Saric (Croatia); traded to 76ers

13. Minnesota Timberwolves – Zach LaVine (UCLA)

14. Phoenix Suns – TJ Warren (NC State)

15. Atlanta Hawks – Adreian Payne (Michigan State)

Honorary mention for Isaiah Austin

16. Chicago Bulls- Jusuf Nurkic (Bosnia-Herzegovina); traded to Denver Nuggets

17. Boston Celtics – James Young (Kentucky)

18. Phoenix Suns – Tyler Ennis (Syracuse)

19. Chicago Bulls – Gary Harris (Michigan State); traded to Denver Nuggets

20. Toronto Raptors – Bruno Caboclo (Brazil)

21. Oklahoma City Thunder – Mitch McGary (Michigan)

22. Memphis Grizzlies – Jordan Adams (UCLA)

23. Utah Jazz – Rodney Hood (Duke)

24. Charlotte Hornets – Shabazz Napier (UConn); traded to Miami Heat

25. Houston Rockets – Clint Capela (Switzerland)

26. Miami Heat – PJ Hairston (North Carolina, D-League); traded to Charlotte Hornets

27. Phoenix Suns – Bogdan Bogdanovic (Serbia)

28. L.A. Clippers – CJ Wilcox (Washington)

29. Oklahoma City Thunder – Josh Huestis (Stanford)

30. San Antonio Spurs – Kyle Anderson (UCLA)

————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Round Two

31. Milwaukee Bucks – Damien Inglis (France)

32. Philadelphia 76ers – KJ McDaniels (Clemson)

33. Cleveland Cavaliers – Joe Harris (Virginia)

34. New York Knicks – Cleanthony Early (Wichita State)

35. Utah Jazz – Jarnell Stokes (Tennessee); traded to Memphis Grizzlies

36. Milwaukee Bucks – Johnny O’Bryant (LSU)

37. Toronto Raptors – DeAndre Daniels (UConn)

38. Detroit Pistons – Spencer Dinwiddie (Colorado)

39. Philadelphia 76ers – Jerami Grant (Syracuse)

40. Minnesota Timberwolves – Glenn Robinson III (Michigan)

41. Denver Nuggets – Nikola Jokic (Serbia)

42. Houston Rockets – Nick Johnson (Arizona)

43. Atlanta Hawks – Walter Tavares (Cape Verde)

44. Minnesota Timberwolves (now Brooklyn Nets) – Markel Brown (Oklahoma State)

45. Charlotte Hornets – Dwight Powell (Stanford)

46. Washington Wizards – Jordan Clarkson (Missouri)

47. Philadelphia 76ers – Russ Smith (Louisville); traded to New Orleans Pelicans

48. Milwaukee Bucks – Lamar Patterson (Pittsburgh)

49. Chicago Bulls – Cameron Bairstow (New Mexico)

50. Phoenix Suns – Alec Brown (Green Bay)

51. New York Knicks – Thanasis Antetokounmpo (Greece; D-League)

52. Philadelphia 76ers – Vasilije Micic (Serbia)

53. Minnesota Timberwolves – Alessandro Gentile (Italy)

54. Philadelphia 76ers – Nemanja Dangubic (Serbia)

55. Miami Heat – Semaj Christon (Xavier)

56. Denver Nuggets – Roy Devyn Marble (Iowa)

57. Indiana Pacers – Louis Laberiye (France)

58. San Antonio Spurs – Jordan McRae (Tennessee)

59. Toronto Raptors – Xavier Thames (San Diego State)

60. San Antonio Spurs – Cory Jefferson (Baylor); traded to Brooklyn Nets

Categories: basketball, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, National Basketball Association, NBA, NCAA, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs, Sports, Washington Wizards | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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