Tag Archives: Columbus

City Game: Columbus, OH B.K.A Buckeye City

Come for the football in the fall, stay for the hoops through the winter.

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“Buckeye City” has more to offer than three yards and a cloud of dust. Photo Credit: Kavis Peak

Ohio is known as the cradle of Pro Football, the home of the best basketball player in the game in LBJ and more specifically the state capital of Columbus is known for being the home to the 2014 Kings of College Football, and THE most recognized, beloved and in some cases hated university football teams in the land. But, over the past fifteen years or so, the 614 has produced some of the top hoops talent in America.

NBA Live: Columbus doesn’t have a professional team, but if the Association looks to expand and bring a franchise back to Seattle; Columbus has been mentioned, and has made a case to be included. Downtown Columbus boast a 16 years young arena, that is currently home to the NHL’s Columbus Bluejackets. It’s the kind of start of the art facility the NBA covets for their teams, and has hosted several NCAA Tournaments in recent years. It’s also the center of a very vibrant arena district with restaurants and nightlife that compliments the arena. While city leaders continue their mission to get a team, the city is very well represented in the Association with players from the area who have made their impact on the games highest level.

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IMG_1941.JPG2004 NBA All-Star with the Milwaukee Bucks and 2008 Gold Medalist Michael Redd (West High), 2013 Lottery Pick and 2013 John R. Wooden and James A. Naismith Awards winner Trey Burke (Northland High), 2010 Naismith High School Player of the Year, 2011 USBWA National Freshman of the Year and 2-time 1st-Team NCAA All-American Jared Sullinger (Northland High), Chris Quinn (Dublin High), B.J. Mullins (Canal Winchester High), 2002 NBA Champion with the L.A. Lakers Samaki Walker (Whitehall), 1997 #4 overall pick by the Vancouver Grizzlies and 1999 NBA Champion with the San Antonio Spurs Antonio Daniels (DeSales High), Gary Trent (Hamilton Township), Lawrence Funderburke (Eastmoor Academy), Calvin Booth (Groveport Madison High) and Kevin Martin (Zanesville High).

Several old school guys who this current generation may not be familiar with; Granville Waiters (East High) who played with Michael Jordan in Chicago, Jim Cleamons (Linden High) who won 6 titles as an assistant coach with MJ, and long time New York Knicks player turned assistant coach Herb Williams (Marion Franklin High) all come from the 614.

Big Men On Campus: Thad Matta has turned the Ohio State Football Factory into a hoops hotbed. In his 12-seasons at the head of THE Ohio State University basketball program, Coach Matta has led them to two Final Fours (2007, 2012), two Sweet 16 finishes, a trip to the Elite-8, four Big Ten Tournament Championships (2007,2010,2011, 2013), and five Big Ten regular season Championships (2006, 2007, 2010-12). Matta has had four players drafted in the top three picks of the NBA Draft (Oden & Conley 2007, Turner 2010, Russell 2015) and had eight players drafted in the first round.

To many people’s surprise, OSU isn’t the only college in the “Capital City” with a strong basketball tradition. Division III Otterbein UniversityCardinals took home a National Championship in 2002 behind Division III National Player of the Year Jeff Gibbs (East High), who at 6’1″ tall, finished his career with a total of 1,469 rebounds.

Otterbein’s cross town rival the Capital University Crusaders have also enjoyed their fair share of success. The 2009 Crusaders, behind Head Coach Damon Goodwin won 26 games and a trip to the NCAA (Div. III) Tournament’s “Sweet 16.”

Prep Game: Columbus has been the hub for grooming young hoop talent in the Buckeye State since the late 80’s–early 90’s. It’s the home base for one of the most successful AAU programs in the United States; All-Ohio Red led by Jerry Watson. Watson’s program has turned out several Division I prospect and future pros in the NBA and overseas. All-Ohio teams have won 11 National Championships since 1989.

Trey Burke, now of the Utah Jazz, stared at Columbus Northland High School Jared Sullinger. Together, Sullinger and Burke led the Vikings to four Columbus City League titles, an undefeated record in league play in that span, a State Championship (2009) and a 21-0 regular season earning a #1 National ranking in 2010. The Vikings have another highly recruited prospect in Seth Towns who will begin his college career in the fall of 2016 at Harvard.

Brookhaven High School also turned out several highly touted prospects, 2003 McDonald’s All-American Andrew Lavender, Ron Lewis who made some big shots to help the 2007 OSU Buckeyes reached the National Championship game. Together, those two led the Haven as it’s known around the 614, to a State Title in 2002 and a very competitive battle against LeBron James and his St. Vincent-St. Mary’s squad.

Since I mentioned LeBron James; before LBJ, there was a smooth, 6’3″ left handed combo guard from Hartley and Independence High, named Esteban Weaver, who drew the National spotlight much like #23 did, but in a time when High School kids were just starting to make the jump from preps to pros. Weaver was dominating national prep camps and the Worthington Summer League Pro-Am at age 14 against the likes of NBA vets Jim Jackson, Dennis Hopson, Nick Van Exel and several other pros from overseas. Haven’t heard of him? Don’t believe me? Just read this, and check out the highlights from a documentary produced by local apparel company Homage.

In recent seasons the Central Ohio area has been dominated by schools from the suburban area. Westerville South, Pickerington Central and Gahanna Lincoln have produced several major conference Division I prospects. Jae’Sean Tate of Ohio State and Caris Levert of Michigan both graduated from Pickerington Central, where they helped the Tigers win the state title in 2012. Current Tiger Ibi Watson is headed to Michigan as a member of the class of 2016. Ohio State class of 2017 commit Kaleb Wesson (6’9″ 260) has led the Westerville South Wildcats to back-to-back OHSAA Final Four appearances and a 2nd-place finish in 2015. The Gahanna Lincoln Lions have two of the top 5 players ranked in the state for the class of 2016 according to 247Sports.com in Nick Ward and Matthew Moyer, who will be attending Michigan State and Syracuse respectively.

Five players from Columbus have been invited to participate in the McDonald’s All-American game, with two of them taking home the MVP award. The aforementioned Sullinger in 2010, and Kenny Gregory of Independence High in 1997. The ’97 game also featured future NBA All-Stars, Baron Davis, Tracy McGrady, Ron Artest and Lamar Odom to name a few. Gregory went on to have a successful four-year career at the University of Kansas before enjoying a pro career overseas.

How We Do: Versatility is the name of our game. 7-footers don’t grow on trees around here. So our bigs average anywhere from 6’8″ to 6″5″ and can take you on the low block and dominate you with power and finesse moves; then take you outside and blow past you or shoot your eyes out. Our guards have slick hands, deadly shooting, and don’t be surprised if a 6′ or 6’1″guy takes you in the post and calls for the offense to run through him on the block or puts you on a poster.

Runs/Streetball: Columbus weather is very unpredictable regardless of the season, so it’s difficult to have one set place where the best run happens consistently. However, there are several places in and outdoors where you can find high quality competition. Your first stop should always be on the campus of Ohio State.

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“The Cages” on 12th Avenue are iconic in Columbus. Photo Credit: Kavis Peak

If the weather allows, there are several outdoor courts on the campus where you’ll find intense competition anytime of the day, and even a few Buckeye hoopers and football players getting in a run. The 12th avenue cages are legendary around the area. There are four courts right across from the dorms and players show up at all times of day, looking to get it in. The lights don’t go out until 2 a-m, which is necessary on many summer nights, because if you lose, expect to sit around a while before you can get another shot a redemption.

If you prefer indoors, you have a few choices. The Columbus Recreation and Parks Department has several gymnasiums strategically placed around the city where they host Men’s leagues that provide the best competition.

The Westerville Community Center in Northeast Columbus, located about 20 minutes from downtown, also attracts highly competitive players and games. You can take advantage of the adult men’s open gym nights, or their A-Level Men’s league that several former Buckeyes, overseas pros on break, as well as lower level D-I, D-II and D-III players.

Whichever spot you choose to lace up your sneakers, just bring your A game; because if you lose, it will be a long wait before you get back on, if at all.

 

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NBA Expansion: Reservations for Seattle Plus One

It’s no secret the NBA wants to bring a franchise back to Seattle. It’s been in discussion since Oklahoma City owner Clay Bennett lifted the Sonics from the great Northwest in 2008 and successfully made them a staple in the Heartland. Former commissioner David Stern said he wished he would’ve accomplished it before leaving his post this past February and current commissioner Adam Silver says it’s on the top of his agenda to happen within his first five years at the helm.

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Sonics fans are itching for the NBA to return.

So, assuming Seattle is a no brainer to be the home of thirty first organization, you would think the league would be looking at adding a thirty second to keep the landscape in each conference equal, a la the NFL with its sixteen teams each in the AFC and NFC.

There have been rumors of Louisville, Kentucky, but in my honest opinion I don’t think a city that’s rich in College Hoops tradition would be a prime locale for the NBA. I’d also scratch Lexington, Kentucky and Storrs, Connecticut as well. So, here is my list of cities that could potentially become home for an Eastern Conference team. Like Seattle, three of them have deep NBA roots.

1.) St. Louis, Mo
TV DMA Market#21

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The “Lou” is a great sports town with NBA roots.

PRO: Once was home to the Atlanta Hawks for thirteen seasons (1955-1968), it’s where they won the franchises’ only League Championship and four Conference titles. The “Lou” is a great, proud sports city that already supports three teams in the four major sports (Cardinals, Rams, Blues). Two of them have won championships in the last fifteen years—Rams in 1999 and the Cardinals in 2006 & 2011. The city has also done well in hosting the NCAA Final Four (2005) and several other rounds within the NCAA tournament. And, if the Rams do get their wish and the NFL allows them to relocate to Los Angeles, the financial support will be there from the void left.

St. Louis is twenty first on the TV DMA Market list. Only Seattle (Market 13), Tampa (Market 14)—Orlando is technically their team—are higher markets without a franchise.

A St. Louis team could compete in the Central or Southeast division of the Eastern Conference.

CON: The Scottrade Center where the Blues plays its games will be twenty years old this fall and has not been renovated into the state of the art arena the NBA desires their franchises to have. Arena quality has been cited as reason why the Sonics were moved from Seattle and building a new one was at the center of the Sacramento Kings potential move the last couple of seasons. Another potential con would be, if St. Louis fans would support another winter sports team. Hockey is a big draw in St. Louis and could make it too competitive for an NBA team to be successful.

2.) Columbus, Oh
TV DMA Market #32
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Columbus’ downtown area has thrived since opening Nationwide arena, which would benefit the NBA.

PRO: Columbus is a die hard sports city and the largest in the “Buckeye State.” City leaders and fans have actively and publicly attempted to get on the NBA radar by sending letters to Commissioner David Stern during his tenure and receiving a reply. There was also a website created to state the city’s case.

Although it’s a football first town, fans have successfully supported expansion NHL (Bluejackets, 2000) and MLS (Crew,1996) Franchises. There is also already a state of the art arena in place that is only fifteen years old and seats 19,500 for a basketball game. Nationwide Arena has hosted a handful of Buckeye basketball games and first and second round NCAA tournament games. It’s also located in an expanding vibrant entertainment district.

Columbus is thirty second on the TV DMA Market list. Even though it’s low, it’s still higher than Oklahoma City which is forty first and has done very well, especially for a city that was once thought of as a college town because of its close proximity to the University of Oklahoma in nearby Norman.

While Columbus has supported the NHL well during the winter months, hockey still hasn’t become too dominate in the area that an NBA team would struggle to draw fan support. Now that the novelty of having a major pro sports franchise in town has worn off, attendance has dropped from an average of over 18,000 to 14,500 since the Bluejackets inaugural season in 2000-2001.

A Columbus franchise could compete in the Central division with the Cavs, Bulls, Pacers and Bucks.

CON: While Cleveland is a two hour drive away, pro hoop fans in the 614 are lifers when it comes to the Cavs. “Buckeye City” is known as a College town, several minor league pro basketball teams haven’t had much success there. Fans also didn’t turn out when the Cavs hosted training camp and preseason games in the city even when they had LeBron James in his first run with the organization.

3.) Pittsburgh, Pa
TV DMA Market #23

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The “Steel City” has die hard sports fans that support their teams, but would the NBA be one too many?

PRO: The Burgh has a very supportive fan base for their three major pro sports franchises, including lean years, see the Pirates from 1992-2013. The $321 million Consol Energy Arena where the Penguins play is only four years old and is just the type of facility the NBA pushes for their teams to have.

Much like St. Louis, the Burgh is in a top twenty five market, that means big revenue dollars to the league. Don’t think market size won’t play a factor in the decision of where an expansion franchise is placed.

One thing we know for sure is that the uniform color scheme will include black and gold, just like the other pro teams in town. The Pittsburgh franchise could compete in the Central division of the Eastern Conference.

CON: During the winter months hockey dominates in the Steel City. It possibly would be too much for a Pro Basketball team to overcome to have success and be a big draw. To make matters worse, the city doesn’t seem to really support their top college hoops program, the Pitt Panthers.

4.) Baltimore, Md
TV DMA Market #27

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Baltimore has deep basketball roots and was a longtime home of the Bullets, now Wizards franchise.

PRO: Was once home to the Washington Bullets, and currently home of two of the four major sports (Ravens and Orioles). This is a major basketball scene. Several of the top talent on the pro and college level have come from “Charm City.”

It’s very close to Washinton D.C. but, anyone who lives in this area will tell you these city aren’t really that close. Many estimates have the drive at an hour and ten minutes in relatively light traffic. Plus, New York and L.A. both have two teams, and while they are the number one and two markets in America, the DC area is eight and Baltimore is twenty seventh. As I’ve written already, DMA market size is a plus for this area when it comes to revenue. I think they can sustain two franchises within a forty one mile distance. It could also create a much needed rivalry. The NBA could use the model the NFL has with the Ravens and Redskins.

This team could compete in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.

CON: The one major arena—Baltimore Arena—has been opened since 1961 and as recently as 2008 was considered to have outlived its shelf life. Like a couple of the cities on this list, the lack of a state of the art arena will not be appealing to commissioner Silver and his advisors. However, the city and it’s leaders are in talks about constructing a new arena which they hope will attract a pro basketball franchise or other leagues such as Arena Football and the NHL. Discussions have put the new arena at a cost of $300 million and that would definitely be of interest to the NBA.

5.) Kansas City, Mo
TV DMA Market #31

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The Sprint Center is the crown jewel of Kansas City.

PRO: Once home to Kings franchise for thirteen seasons from 1972-1985, it was the last stop before moving to Sacramento. Kansas City doesn’t have the NHL for the NBA to compete against. Unlike half the cities on this list, they have a state of the art arena. The $276 million dollar Sprint Center opened in 2007 and can seat 18,972 for basketball games.

A Kansas City franchise could compete in the Central or Southeast division of the Eastern Conference.

CON: Does Kansas City want pro basketball? Like St. Louis they had a franchise and have never made a huge case to get another. The city was rumored to be in the hunt for the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans and Sacramento Kings when both considered relocation before settling their issues. Many have questioned if there’s a fan base for Pro basketball. Kansas City strongly supports it’s Chiefs during the fall and the Royals during spring and summer. It be nice to see this great sports city show off for a winter sport like basketball.

6.) Nashville, Tn
TV DMA Market #29

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“Music City” could play the right tune for Commissioner Silver.

PRO: The “Music City” successfully supported the Houston Oilers when they moved into town in 1997, even securing a new stadium for the team in 1999 which is still the now Tennessee Titans’ home. The city has also been home to NHL’s Nashville Predators since their inaugural season in 1997-1998. Nashville was rumored to be in the hunt to draw an NBA Franchise before being awarded the Predators.

The Bridgestone Arena, the main venue in town where the Predators play, opened in 1996 and seats 19,395 for basketball. It has played host to the SEC Men’s basketball tournament and several Men’s NCAA Tournament sessions as well as the 2014 Women’s NCAA Final Four. The arena has undergone several million dollars worth of renovations as recently as 2007, which should be appealing to NBA brass.

The Nashville franchise could compete in the Southeast division of the Eastern Conference.

CON: Unlike with Columbus and the Bluejackets, the NHL has already gained a seventeen year grip on the city. The Predators are very popular and the NBA may not want to take on that challenge, much like in Pittsburgh and St. Louis on this list.

So what are some other cities you think would be a great landing spot for a thirty second NBA franchise?

I Love My City! But………

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I was born in Columbus, Ohio August 13, 1980. I lived here 26 years. This is my home. Know matter where I am I let people know it. Whether I am wearing scarlet and gray, a Homage Columbus Clippers tee, a Columbus Bluejacket hat or just shouting Dub C for Walnut Creek the neighborhood I grew up in, I am the 614. I always will be, but it’s not for everyone.

I’ve always said Central Ohio was a great place to live as a kid. It still is a great place to raise a family almost 30 years later. This area is great for those who are married and have a family and looking to grow. Not just in the suburbs either.

Downtown is booming with more family friendly events with the Nationwide Arena and the Clippers’ Huntington Park. But it is not a great place for singles, unless you’re a college student.

Singles in the age range of 25 to 35 will have it rough. I know, I’ve lived it twice now. First from 2003 after graduating college until I moved to Orlando in 2007. And now in 2012 after I moved back to be there for my family in difficult ties. The quality of single life is bare minimum. Unless you like carrying on like you’re still in undergrad into your late 20’s or early 30’s. I can only give you a man’s point of view, but the quality of women is low too. It seems the good ones graduate from college or trade school and bolt the city first chance they get. The only women left are the ones that are too young and still in school or the ones who have and breed more drama than Soap Net, Lifetime and the Hallmark channels combined. Who has time for that?!

The job opportunities aren’t the same for singles as for people in marriages or have kids either. My experience is, singles are looked down on as irresponsible, non-committal and unstable. Where as those with a family or just kids are seen as the opposite because they have that stable home life. Therefore they get those promotions because the guys and gals at the top feel they’ll be a better long term fit, where as us singles with our flexible life styles will always be viewed in their eyes as “one opportunity from leaving them high and dry.” This couldn’t be farther from the truth. If the opportunity is right we’ll stick around. But they are foolish to think a wife or husband won’t jump ship and uproot their entire family for a better opportunity too.

Singles and couples don’t mix well here either. It’s like Bloods and Crips, Democrats and Republicans or even sometimes as nasty as Palestinians and Israelites. They don’t want to be around us singles because we remind them of what they used to be. That carefree life or hanging out with your buds or your girlfriends without having to book time weeks in advance. And we don’t want to be around them because they remind us of the difficulties we’re going through to find what they have. Not to mention everyone knows everybody around here, so your business isn’t just your business. And if you’re a private person like me, that sucks worse than being kicked in the balls!

I have felt this way loooooong before I moved to Orlando. I knew this stuff when I was in high school. My older cousins put me on game then. But now that I have seen what is out there, and not just visiting a city every now and then. Having lived in another city and been invested in its community, my frustrations towards Buckeye City has grown stronger. I’ve seen the variety of other cities the same size as Columbus. I’ve seen a more sophisticated and classier level of community and I’ve seen a more overall better balance of single and family life blended together.

I know I just dumped on my hometown. Trust me, it pains me. But I’m real, and I’m not the only one that feels this way. There are statistics that show singles roll out as soon as they can because they aren’t happy here. You’ve never seen Columbus on the list of top places for singles to live. But I have seen other “college towns” like Austin, Texas make the list.

But I love Columbus, it has made me who I am. I will always represent the 614. I just know to be what I want to become, I can’t do it here.