Posts Tagged With: nba

Something new about Sprite Slam Dunk Contest contestants

Milwaukee Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo, Minnesota Timberwolves Zach LaVine, Orlando Magic Victor Oladipo and Brooklyn Nets Mason Plumlee will be participating in this year’s Sprite Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend. Though it would be more entertaining (in my opinion) to have players like LA Clippers DeAndre Jordan or Blake Griffin, this will give these younger guys their time to shine and show what they have.

NBA.com | Hang Time Blog

[nba-video vid=channels/nba_tv/2015/01/28/20150127-all-star-slam-dunk-contestant.nba]

VIDEO:NBA TV announces 2015 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest participants

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Someone long, someone new, someone blue and someone true to New York City for All-Star 2015.

We’ll get it all during All-Star Saturday night, which will officially be showtime for Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zach LaVine, Victor Oladipo and Mason Plumlee, the four players who will vie for above-the-rim supremacy in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest.

Antetokounmpo, the extremely long and ridiculously athletic Milwaukee Bucks swingman, brings his own brand of excitement to a contest that is always in search of a new wrinkle.

LaVine, the Minnesota Timberwolves rookie with the otherworldly bounce, was made for this contest.

Oladipo, who sports blue every night for the Orlando Magic, brings a 360-degree flair to the party, is a showman if ever there was one.

And Plumlee, the Nets’ big man who…

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MVP Race: Steph or James?

The other day, a co-worker asked me who I think is the MVP between Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry and Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden. He’s a Rockets fan, so naturally, he said Harden. I disagreed and chose Curry because I felt he’s more consistent (and I like him more as a player, 99 percent of the reason I chose him). My co-worker raised some good points in favor of the bearded shooter, but I couldn’t bring myself to concede, which got me thinking: without any bias, which one is more MVP-worthy?

After further thinking and taking their roles on the court into consideration, I have to stick with Steph for five reasons:

1. The obvious — check the record. The Warriors are currently first in the Pacific Division with a 34-6 record and only one home loss. Golden State also went on a 16-game win streak in November and December. The Rockets, however, are 29-14 with a 15-7 home record and third in the Southwestern Division. Basketball is a team sport, so you can’t attribute the Warriors’ better record to just Curry like you can’t say Harden does it all by himself. However, you have to take each team’s wins and losses into consideration. Edge: Curry.

2. Scoring: Harden has led the last 12 of 18 games in scoring, averaging 27.2 points per game on the season compared to Curry, who has only led the last seven of 17 in scoring and averages 23.2. But, Curry’s field goal percentage is better on the season at 50.1 percent, with Harden not too far behind at 45.2 percent. Curry also has Harden beat in three-point field goal percentage, 40.2 percent to 38.3 percent. So, although Harden scores more, Curry is more accurate. Edge: Curry.

3. Assists: In the last 10 games, Harden is averaging seven assists per game and has a game-high in assists in the last 10 of 18 games. Steph has dished out 9.2 dimes in the last 10 games and led in assists in 10 of the last 17 games. It also helps Curry is a point guard, so naturally, he knows how to distribute the ball and get it where it needs to go. Edge: Curry.

4. People’s Choice: Curry leads the starting lineups for the 2015 NBA All Star Game in votes with 1,513,324. Harden finished fifth overall, but may earn a starting spot at the two after news of Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant’s torn rotator cuff. Edge: Curry.

5. Four just seemed like an odd number to end with, so I’ve decided to think of another qualification (five is a much more absolute number). Going back to the teams, as a whole, the Warriors have a better chance of going further come playoff time. In the past, Golden State has made some deep runs in the playoffs for the past few years and looks as though this could be the year for the team to go all the way. Houston has had its struggles and even with the addition of Josh Smith, the team will have stiff competition being in the Western Conference. Because, he has a better chance of getting ring number one first… Edge: Curry.

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NBA Remembers Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is the day set aside to honor one of America’s most iconic leaders: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was one of the many civil rights leaders fighting for the rights of not just African Americans, but minorities in general, as he also worked with other leaders like Caesar Chavez. Though King is long gone, his legacy lives on and the NBA continues honor and remember that legacy.

On Friday, the association posted a video titled, “NBA/MLK: Barrier Breakers.” The video details many NBA players who have made history in the NBA, beginning with Chuck Cooper, the first African American man drafted by an NBA team (Boston Celtics) in 1950. Because of him and Walter Brown, the Celtics owner at that time, others were able to follow suit. In 2013, over 60 years later, 76.3 percent of the players were African American and 81 percent were people of color.

Today, NBA teams and players have taken to social media to express their admiration and respect for King, consisting of various tweets and tribute videos. On top of this, the association has a full lineup of games throughout the day in lieu of the holiday. Charlotte Hornets players wore warm-up shirts in an effort to celebrate King’s life.

Here’s the MLK Day schedule (times are EST):

  • Minnesota Timberwolves at Charlotte Hornets currently being aired on NBA League Pass.
  • Philadelphia 76ers at Washington Wizards also currently being aired on NBA League Pass.
  • Detroit Pistons at Atlanta Hawks at 2:30 p.m. to be aired on ESPN.
  • Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Clippers at 3:30 p.m. to be aired on NBA League Pass.
  • Denver Nuggets at Golden State Warriors 4 p.m. to be aired on NBA League Pass.
  • Dallas Mavericks at Memphis Grizzlies at 5 p.m. on NBATV.
  • Indiana Pacers at Houston Rockets at 5:30 p.m. to be aired on NBA League Pass.
  • New Orleans Pelicans at New York Knicks at 5:30 p.m. to be aired on NBA League Pass.
  • Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers at 7:30 p.m. to be aired on TNT.
  • Toronto Raptors at Milwaukee Bucks at 8 p.m. to be aired on NBA League Pass.
  • Sacramento Kings at Portland Trail Blazers at 10 p.m. to be aired on NBA League Pass.
  • Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns at 10 p.m. to be aired on TNT.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to everyone! May we not only honor him in word and holiday, but strive to continue the work he started by treating everyone equally and seek to tear down barriers.

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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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