Tag Archives: Michael Jordan

NBA Needs to Drastically Crack Down on “Resting”

I guess the Warriors schedule is too hard for a professional athlete. Photo Credit: NBA.COM

When the 2016-2017 NBA schedule was released and the schedule makers blessed us with a March 11th game where the San Antonio Spurs would host the Golden State Warriors in a late season push for the number one seed, it was expected to be the most interesting and viewed regular season meeting this side of each of the Kevin Durant versus Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder meetings. Especially after the 29-point manhandling the Spurs put on the defending Western Conference Champions on opening night with their new Big Four.

A potential preview of the 2017 Western Conference Finals was ruined when Warriors coach Steve Kerr decided to “rest” the healthy Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, with Kevin Durant already out with a Grade 2 MCL injury in his left knee, because Golden State was on the second night of back-to-back games and having played ten games in the last seventeen days (February 23rd to March 11th). Seven of those were on the road, and the last four of that streak in five days.

Add to that that Kawhi Leonard (concussion protocol) and LaMarcus Aldridge (minor heart arrhythmia) also missed the game killed any excitement the league was building by having these two juggernauts face off in primetime in the first season of their highly promoted venture with ABC/ESPN to broadcast the most compelling games of the week on Saturday nights.

Instead we got an unwatchable game that was a 20-point blowout at halftime, with a final score of 107-85 San Antonio, while the Warriors trotted out a bunch of dudes you wouldn’t watch play pick-up at the playground if you just happened to be walking by.

This was clearly Kerr’s attempt to throw up a middle finger at the Association and its schedule makers. He could have easily looked ahead and staggered resting his top guys earlier in the streak when they played inferior teams like the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, with an eye on a big finish to end the 10-game span at full strength against the Spurs. Instead he basically said “F*** You” to anyone who cared about the game.

It’s time for Commissioner Silver to do something drastic end this trend. This isn’t good for the sport, the fans and business.

Why should fans pay hundreds and thousands of their hard earned dollars on tickets, travel, concessions and merchandise at any NBA game with the thought in the back of their mind they may or may not get to see their favorite player play or favorite team at full strength?

And why should fans across the country, that can’t attend the game in person, continue to pay a premium for League Pass and carve out time in their schedule to watch D-League quality?

So here’s what Commissioner Silver should do, NEEDS to do.

First, reduce the schedule to 65 games, similar to the format from 2011-2012 when the league was in a lockout that delayed the season. I’m cool if the owners want to take some money back from the players because of this, serves them right. Just back loading key divisional and conference games that will affect playoff seeding near the end of the season like the NFL did a couple of seasons ago isn’t working.

Limit preseason games if you have to as well, and spread the 65-games out over late October to mid April, and eliminate back to backs as well as three games in four night deals, giving no coach or player an excuse to “rest.”

Finally, heavily fine players that aren’t active for any reason other then a disclosed and diagnosed injury if they continue to “rest”. Instead of levying a hefty fine on teams like the one given to the Spurs when Coach Gregg Popovich did something similar as Kerr against the Miami Heat in 2013, dock from their salary cap which will hurt their ability to build a competitive roster. That will fix it.

Resting healthy players is also an insult to the history of the game and past players that so many of today’s players say inspired them. As ESPN/ABC analyst Michael Wilbon, said on ABC during Halftime of the Spurs-Warriors game, “twenty years ago forty-four NBA players played all 82 games. Last season only 18 players played all 82.”

For more perspective, arguably the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan played every game scheduled in a season nine of his fifteen seasons, including his final season at age 39-40. He also played 81 and 80 games two other seasons. By comparison, LeBron James, the best player in today’s era, has NEVER played all 82 games and has only reached 80 games two times in his fourteen-year career.

Today’s players are supposed to have better nutrition and better training, so what’s the problem?

How healthy and great would Kobe Bryant have played at the end of his 20-year career if he took so many nights off?

This is another reason why Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Garnett and other legends of the game say today’s players are soft. And I’m starting to think they’re right.

Jalen Rose, Wilbon’s co-analyst on ABC’s Halftime show hosted by Sage Steele, also a 13-year NBA vet, pointed out that the Association is followed on Twitter more than any other sports league, the NBA also has thirteen current players followed on the social media site that are in the Top 100, while the NFL has none despite being the most popular sport in America. The NBA also has two current players in the Top 5 on the Forbes Endorsement list while the NFL has none.

NBA players are more popular and make more money based off their notoriety than any other sport. So figuratively and financially speaking, they’re spitting in the face of those who they’ve made their fame and fortune off of, the Consumer.

Mister Silver, you’re the only one that can fix it. You’re the most proactive leader in sports, so I trust that you will. Until then, hopefully when these two meet again on March 29th we’ll get something closer to what we expect to see come playoff time. But I doubt it. Got rest up for that playoff run.

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MJ Played Against and Beat Better Competition

The debate between Jordan & James continues to heat up. The focus now is on the competition they faced.

Almost since the moment the clock hit triple zeros in game seven of the 2016 NBA Finals, when the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the 73-9 Golden State Warriors, the LeBron James versus Michael Jordan conversations have only intensified. And it’s not going to change any time soon. So if you’re annoyed and tired of the topic, no matter whose side you’re on, get used to it. Unless you plan on avoiding the litany of debate shows on ESPN and Fox Sports.

The latest chapter is a hypothetical about how and when LeBron will take over as the Greatest Of All Time from MJ.

Case in point, last week Fox Sports One NBA Analyst Chris Broussard said on Fox Sports’ “Undisputed with Skip and Shannon”, that it will happen if James wins the next two NBA Championships, for a Cavs three-peat, giving him five total championship rings. The prevalent thought is that he would’ve beaten a better more talented team in the Golden State Warriors with four perennial all-stars. Assuming the Dubs make it to the Finals four consecutive season as well. Broussard, as well as Shannon Sharpe, said MJ “didn’t beat anyone” to win his titles, and that the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons and “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers were old and worn out by the time those Chicago Bulls teams reached their peak. I think that’s as ridiculous of a hot take as I’ve ever heard.

If I were on the show, I would’ve fired back… “were the Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Rasheed & Ben Wallace-led Pistons who had played in five consecutive Eastern Conference Finals, two NBA Finals, winning one (2004), before losing to the ’07 Cleveland Cavs old?”

The previous variable used to compare the two use to be that LBJ accomplished more at a younger age than MJ, which I always thought was dumb because one came straight out of high school, while the other played three years of college ball. The only fair comparison would be years of service which I did back in 2013. So now in order to prop James’ legacy up, people want to diminish the competition Jordan faced.

Not only did those 90’s Bulls beat very good teams in the Finals, they also beat top competition in the Eastern Conference playoffs to get to the championship round. Something LeBron hasn’t had to do in his six-year Eastern Conference title runs, aside from playing against the big four in Boston of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo.

Here’s a look at the team’s, Jordan’s Bulls had to conquer on their title runs…

After sweeping the 39-43 Patrick Ewing-led New York Knicks in three games, The 1991 Bulls beat the Charles Barkley-led Philadelphia 76ers four games to one in the conference semifinals. Then they swept the 50-32 Isiah Thomas-led, two-time defending NBA World Champion Detroit Pistons to advance to the NBA Finals. Waiting for them was the 58-24 Magic Johnson-led and five-time NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers who just happened to beat the team with the best record in the Association that season, the 63-19 Clyde Drexler-led Portland Trailblazers in six games. Of course, we all remembered what happened in the Finals. Bulls over Lakers in five, and if it weren’t for a last second jumper by Jordan that rimmed out in game one, they would’ve swept the team of the ’80’s.

The 1992 Bulls team challenged the 70-win mark finishing the season at 67-15. After sweeping the young Miami Heat 3-0 in the first round, The Bulls went to a grueling seven games with Patrick Ewing’s 51-31 Knicks in the conference semifinals. Chicago lost home court advantage in game one, before coming back to win the series. In the conference finals they faced a 57-25 Cleveland Cavaliers team with All-Stars Mark Price and Brad Daugherty. The Bulls beat the Cavs in six.

In the Finals they faced the 57-25 Clyde Drexler-led Portland Trailblazers, who brought back their key nucleus from the same team that had the NBA’s best regular season record the year before and had lost in the 1990 NBA Finals. Some of those names; Terry Porter, Jerome Kersey and Danny Ainge who won two titles with Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics in the 1980’s. It took those Bulls six games and a 15-point 4th-quarter comeback to win the series.

In 1993 the Bulls went into the playoffs as the second seed. They swept their first two rounds 3-0 over the 43-39 Dominique Wilkins-led Atlanta Hawks, and 4-0 over the 54-28 Cleveland Cavaliers who had three All-Stars in Price, Daugherty and Larry Nance. In the Conference Finals they met up again with the Knicks who had the second best record in the NBA at 60-22 and the number one seed in the East. Chicago dropped the first two games in Madison Square Garden, you may remember the stories that Jordan had went over to gamble in New Jersey in between those first two games. However, the Bulls charged back from the 0-2 deficit to beat their nemesis in six games.

In the Finals they faced the 62-20 Phoenix Suns, with the League Most Valuable Player in Charles Barkley. Most say this is the best team the Bulls faced in their six Championship seasons. The Suns had three All-Stars in Barkley, Kevin Johnson and Dan Majerle. They also had that Danny Ainge guy. Chicago never trailed in the series and was up 3-1 after four-games, it took them a John Paxson three-pointer with just over 3 seconds in the 4th-quarter to win the series 4-2 for their first three-peat.

Flash forward three years and the 1995-96 season and the Bulls set the single season record at 72-10. In the playoffs they swept the 42-20 Miami Heat of Alonzo Mourning and coached by their old foe from New York, Pat Riley. In the second round they faced another familiar foe in the Knicks who were 47-35 in the regular season. Chicago beat New York 4-1 in a physical series without Sixth Man of the Year Toni Kukoc for two games. In the Conference Finals they faced the 60-22 defending Eastern Conference Champion Orlando Magic, led by All-Stars Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway, and won the series in four games.

In the Finals they defeated the 64-18 Seattle Supersonics with All-Stars Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp and Detlef Schrempf, coached by George Karl who is the fifth winningest coach in NBA history. The Bulls went up 3-0, and dropped games four and five at Key Arena, before winning the series in game six back in the United Center.

In the 1997 and 1998 NBA Finals they faced the 64-18 and 62-20 Utah Jazz led by future Hall of Famers Karl Malone, John Stockton and Jerry Sloan. The Bulls won each series 4-2 to capture titles five and six for their second three-peat. But look at the teams they faced in the two playoffs before the finals.

In the ’97 playoffs they swept a young 44-38 Washington Bullets team with Chris Webber and Juwan Howard 3-0 in the first round, next the 56-26 Atlanta Hawks with Dikembe Mutombo, Christian Laettner and Steve Smith 4-1, before knocking off the 61-21 Miami Heat with Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn and Dan Majerle, 4-1.

In the ’98 playoffs they swept the 43-39 New Jersey Nets 3-0 in the first round, defeated the 51-31 Charlotte Hornets led by All-Star Game MVP Glen Rice 4-1, before winning an epic seven game series against Reggie Miller, Rik Smits, Mark Jackson, Chris Mullin, Jalen Rose and the 58-24 Indiana Pacers coached by Larry Bird.

So as you can see, not only did Jordan’s teams beat historically great competition in the Finals, they also beat the other marquee teams in the league at that time.

It’s baffling to me that many are trying to diminish Jordan’s legend in an attempt to bolster James’ legacy. If you haven’t figured it out, I am on the Jordan side of these debates, but I can admit his “Airness'” legacy has grown “Paul Bunyon-like” in the nearly two decades since his last championship with the Bulls. But to say his competitors were far inferior than the ones LBJ faces is absurd. There are more teams in the Association now then when Jordan was in his prime, which means the talent is more spread out across the league. However you try to slice it, MJ played against better comp.

NBA’s All-Time Mount Rushmore

This past summer in an interview with Sports Illustrated, 3-time and reigning NBA Champion LeBron James acknowledged Michael Jordan is his motivation. He said “My motivation…is this ghost I’m chasing. The ghost played in Chicago.” James went on to say being considered one of the greats is cool, but implied he’d like to be considered one day THE best. While those who are witnessing LBJ, that didn’t see MJ and other greats in their prime, already say he’s the G.O.A.T. But his buddy, and former teammate Dwayne Wade recently told ESPN “It’s impossible” for him to catch MJ, and “the only thing he can do is tie it.” While I agree with D-Wade, I have to say LeBron has already moved into the upper echelon of NBA all-time greats. I even consider him on the League’s all-time Mount Rushmore, and these are the others that join him.

MJ is the most influential, and skilled NBA player of all-time. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Without a doubt, Michael Jordan. His “Airness” was 6-0 in NBA Finals winning the Most Valuable Player award each time, but that’s just the beginning of the resume.

5-times he was NBA MVP (1988,1991, 1992, 1996, 1998), 10-times he made first team All-NBA, 9-times he was selected All-NBA defensive 1st-team, and in 1988 he won the Defensive Player of the Year award. The 1985 Rookie of the year is a 10-time scoring champion, he’s the NBA’s all-time leading playoff scorer, and when he retired in 2003, his 32,292 points was second all-time. His per game average of 30.1 is still first all-time. 3-times he led the league in steals (1988, 1990, 1993), and his 2,514 steals is third in League history. 14-times he was selected to the NBA All-Star team where he won the game’s MVP award 3-times, and twice won the slam dunk contest. He is a member of the NBA’s 50th anniversary team.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the most under-appreciated and overlooked great EVER! He can make a case that he’s the greatest player to play the game on every level.

Abdul-Jabbar’s “Skyhook” is the most unguardable move in history. Photo Credit: Getty Images

“Cap” won 3 New York City Catholic high school championships at Power Memorial high while leading them to a 71 game winning streak, 3 NCAA titles at UCLA which included a record of 88-2, and 6 NBA Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers. In addition to his championship rings, he won NBA Finals MVP twice (1971, 1985). In his twenty seasons, Abdul-Jabbar won League MVP 6-times (1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1980), 10-times he was selected 1st-team All-NBA, 5-times selected 2nd-team All-NBA, 5-times All-Defensive 1st-team, 6-times All-Defensive 2nd-team and he led the NBA in block shots 4 seasons (1975, 1976, 1979, 1980). The NBA’s all-time leading scorer (38, 387) led the League in scoring twice and was a 19-time All-Star. He’s also the third leading rebounder in NBA history (17,440). In twenty seasons, his teams made the playoffs 18 times, got out the first round 14 times, and made the Finals 10 times. In 1997 he was selected to the NBA’s 50th anniversary team. This is just his NBA resume. His entire basketball career back to high school would be this entire post.

Magic Johnson along with Larry Bird are credited with saving the NBA from the doldrums of tape delay and decreasing popularity linked to ramped drug use among players and on court fighting.

Magic led to Lakers to 8 NBA Finals appearances during the 1980’s. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Magic won 5 titles in 8 NBA finals appearances, including his rookie season in 1980, when he also won his first of 3 Finals MVP awards (1982, 1987). 3-times he won League MVP (1987, 1989, 1990), 9-times he was selected 1st-team All-NBA, once 2nd-team (1982). Four times he led the NBA in assists and is the NBA’s All-time playoff assists leader (2,346). When he retired the first time in 1991, he was the NBA’s all-time leading assists man, he’s now fifth (10,141). Twice he was the NBA’s steals leader (1981,1982) and is currently 20th all-time, but was in the top 5 when he retired. Johnson is a 12-time NBA All-Star and twice won the game’s MVP (1990, 1992). He is a member of the NBA’s 50th greatest players team.

Lastly, LeBron James. If I did this list  two seasons ago when LBJ was still in South Beach, I would’ve had Larry Bird in this spot. But, James has solidified himself as the greatest small forward in history.

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LeBron James has lifted himself into the upper tier of NBA greats. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Since he’s still on the course, and the other guys on this list are in the clubhouse sipping on Arnold Palmers and smoking cigars, I won’t go through his entire resume like I did with the others. But, I must state just how impressive it is that James has led his teams to 6 consecutive NBA Finals appearances (Miami 4, Cleveland 2). And since everyone wants to compare 23’s, not even MJ did that! Even LBJ’s biggest haters can’t deny his overall impact. Both the Cavaliers and Heat missed the playoffs the season after he left via free agency, even though they boasted the same rosters minus him. His current career averages of 27.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.8 assist per game are only matched by the names of Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, Jerry West and Larry Bird. Enough said, he’s one of the top four greats to ever play this game.

For those who will ask where is Boston Celtics great Bill Russell? My reply is “He’s my Halle Berry of the NBA.” What do I mean? When people ask me who are my top five celebrity crushes, I never say Halle Berry, because she has her own list. You want early 90’s Halle? You know from “Strictly Business”, “Boomerang” or “Flintstones”? How about “Swordfish”, “X-men” or “Die Another Day” Halle? Then there’s this 50-year old version that makes most 30-year old’s look like they’re aging in dog years. You get my point? That’s the way I feel about Mr. Russell. He has his own Mount Rushmore. You can have the rookie version that led the Celtics to a Championship in 1956-57 while averaging 14.7 ppg and 19.6 rpg, or the won that led them to 8 consecutive titles while winning 5 League MVP’s, or the won that led them to a title as player/coach in his final professional season. Take your pick. Hands down Mister Russell is the greatest winner in NBA history, so he gets his own mountain. Matter of fact, he should be the logo, he won more championships (11) than the current logo man Jerry West lost (8).

The following four men are on my honorable mentions: Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Tim Duncan

Grant Hill Was LeBron Before LeBron. Y’all Just Forgot!

Hill was the first player to with the perfect blend of Magic & Michael. Photo Courtesy: NBA

LeBron James is the best all-around player in the NBA. He has been for the past decade. I even have him on my All-Time NBA Mt. Rushmore. I have really enjoyed watching his game the last couple of seasons, especially in the last two NBA Playoffs and NBA Finals versus the Golden State Warriors.

In 2015, James averaged 35.8 points 13.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists in the six game NBA Finals series. In the 2016 Finals he went for 27.9 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists per game. LeBron led the Cavs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and minutes played. That had NEVER been done in NBA History.

In the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals against the Toronto Raptors, he moved into second place all-time in most playoff triple–doubles. He now has fifteen, Magic Johnson who’s in first place has twice as many. James just missed being the first player in over twelve years to average a triple-double for a series (Jason Kidd, 2003).

LBJ’s exploits have left fans, peers and past greats of the Association mesmerized. Year in and year out he is proving he can be both Michael and Magic as he has captured three NBA titles and brought the city of Cleveland it’s first pro championship in over a half century. Seeing LeBron at his peak has left me wondering what could’ve been, because nearly a decade before he entered the Association out of Akron Saint Vincent–Saint Mary High School (OH), Grant Hill was that guy. 23 in wine and gold is what Grant Hill should have been.

These days Grant Hill is remembered or known one of three ways. People above the age of thirty remember him as the standout All-American at Duke, that played in three Final Fours, won two National Titles, and started one of the greatest moments in NCAA Tournament history….

Till this day he’s still probably the least hated Duke player in their history because of the class and humility he exhibited amongst a group of guys who had the aura of snobby, pampered, silver spoon fed preppies who thought they were in titled. I’m pointing directly at you Christian Laettner and J.J. Redick.

They’ll also remember the guy who was a seven-time All-Star, five of which came in his first six seasons in the NBA. The only reason he wasn’t six for six is because the NBA didn’t have an All-Star game in 1999 due to the lockout. He was a five-time All-NBA selection, First-team All-Rookie (1995) and Co-Rookie of the Year in 1995.

Those around 15 years of age or so, especially the ones living in the Central Florida area, may remember him as the often injured former All-Star who was a shell of himself after he signed the big contract with the Orlando Magic in 2000. Some of those fans are still angry at him for what they deem as him “stealing money” from the organization. He missed 374 games out of a possible 574 in seven seasons with Orlando.

And, many now mostly know him as the guy who has successfully transitioned from retired professional athlete to broadcaster, staring on the reincarnation of the popular 1990’s hit NBA show “Inside Stuff”, while also doing in game analysis for NBA TV and NBA on TNT telecasts.

Grant was the first successful “Next MJ.” Photo Credit: NBA

But, what all three forget is that in the mid 90’s he was the next Michael Jordan on and off the court. And, unlike others who were labeled the next MJ or Baby Jordan, he took the mantle and was running smoothly with it while also setting a new standard. He was his “Airness” and “Magic” combined, looooooong before anybody knew who LeBron James was. And, he was one of the first to be tagged with the “Point Forward” label.

From 1994 to 2000 he was clearly the best small forward in the game, I mean that with no disrespect to six-time NBA Champion and one of the 50th Greatest Players of All-Time in Scottie Pippen. During his time in Detroit, Hill averaged 21.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.6 steals in 39.1 minutes per game while leading a Pistons franchise, that was in rebuilding mode after the “Bad Boys” era when it drafted him with the third overall pick in the 1994 draft, to the playoffs four times.

He won a gold medal as a key member of Dream Team II at the 1996 Summer Olympic games in Atlanta. During the 1996-1997 season he collected thirteen triple-doubles which was the most in the Association that season. He finished with twenty-nine in his career. More importantly, he never played fewer than seventy games, except for the lockout shortened season of 1998-99 when he played all fifty on the schedule. We’ll get to why that’s important later.

Even when his team wasn’t playing he was still on television endorsing products like Peyton Manning has been for the past five years or so. Hill had the Sprite commercials, was on every magazine cover from GQ to Ebony to Sports Illustrated. And, like MJ when he first came into the Association, he was carrying the hopes and dreams of an entire up and coming, but lesser known shoe company (FILA) and doing it well.

  

Grant was my guy. His crossover was sick enough to make Allen Iverson and Tim Hardaway “ooh and Ahh.” Then he could posterize the best shot blockers in a way that could make Vince Carter and LeBron James jump out their seat. Oh, and his mid range jumper, was as pure as Steph Curry’s three-point daggers.

Even though I wasn’t 6’8 225 like Grant, I’m 6’3″ 205I molded my game after him. Like I mentioned before, he was, and by all accounts still the classy, humble guy his former NFL Pro Bowl running back father Calvin and successful attorney and consultant mother Janet—who is was the college roommate of 2016 Democratic Presidential Nominee, former U.S. Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton—raised him to be.

But, his career isn’t the fairytale that it looked as though it was headed to be. Instead of being named alongside Jordan, Magic, Bird, Kobe, LeBron as one of the top five or ten players to ever play, most will list him along with Bill Walton, Penny Hardaway, Brandon Roy and even guys from other sports like Gayle Sayers, Terrell Davis and Ken Griffey Junior who’s careers were cut short or injury plagued in their primes.

G-Hill played the 2000 NBA playoffs on a sprained ankle, that eventually got worse while trying to gut it out for his team. Reference Grant Hill next time you want your favorite or franchise player to suck it up and play through injuries, because some don’t realize or ignore the fact that his injuries almost cost him his life, forget his career.

After several surgeries to repair his chronic ankle issues, Grant contracted MRSA in 2003, an infection that could’ve led to his death had it not been quickly treated. After all that, at times he struggled to walk normal, who would’ve thought he’d ever play again?

But like the triumphant hero in your favorite movie, he returned and even made the All-Star team in 2005. He never returned to his pre-injury form, but he was still a significant contributor on playoffs teams with the Magic, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers.

He finished his 18-year career at age 40 with per game averages of 16.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists in 1,026 games. How about that for a guy who many thought was done at the age of 31? He didn’t win an NBA Championship, but the hero in this story had his triumphant return by just being able to play the game he loved again.

They say nice guys finished last, but I don’t think this will be one of those times. I’m confident in saying Hill will be in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, hopefully on the first ballot when he is eligible in 2018. I just hope his career gets the fanfare that it deserves. This is my attempt to make sure it does.

NBA Should Consider These Cities For Future All-Star Games

The 2016 NBA All-Star weekend is under way in Toronto. The 6, as it’s known, is the first city outside the continental United States to host the Association’s annual mid-season event. Canada’s most vibrant city is sure to show hoop fans a great time on and off the court.

The 2017 event is already booked for Charlotte. It will be the first time since 1991 Buzz City has hosted the game. With MJ as the host, who wouldn’t want to go to a party hosted by his Airness?
It’s great to finally see the NBA taking the greatest All-Star experience among the major professional sports leagues to new and different places. Locations like Los Angeles (2004 & 2011), Houston (2006 & 2013), New York (1998 & 2015), New Orleans (2008 & 2014) and Phoenix (1995 & 2009) have more than their share in the past 20 seasons, while other great basketball cities have yet host the event or have it return in over a generation. It’s time to go new places.
Not to get to far ahead of myself before the headline events of the 2016 weekend have even tipped off, but I have a list of paces the NBA should visit in the near future and why they’d best for the league.

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Cleveland hosted the ’97 All-Star weekend during the NBA at 50 celebration. Photo Credit: Peggy Turbett/The Plain Dealer

Cleveland – While Cleveland isn’t necessarily the place you want to be in the middle of winter (average temperatures in February are a high of 40 and a low of 20 degrees), it is a great sports city and with the return of the NBA’s best player in LeBron James, that will be on full display as he continues in the prime of his career there.

According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert was actively attempting to lure the NBA to Cleveland for the 2017 All-Star weekend which would’ve been the 20 year anniversary of the NBA at 50 celebration. NBA commissioner Adam Silver visited Cleveland to explore the feasibility of bringing the All-Star Game back to Northeast Ohio. “We had a great experience when we were there in ’97,” Silver told the Beacon Journal. “We would love to return to Cleveland” he went on to say.

The city has grown significantly since the NBA’s last visit and has the venues to host such a highly attended event. With LeBron James entering the backend of his career, it be great to see him get the opportunity to be the unofficial host to the game’s greatest players before he rides off into the sunset.

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Chicago hasn’t hosted the All-Star weekend since 1988. Photo Credit: AP Photos

Chicago, 2018 – This will mark 30 years since the weekend of MJ. In February 1988, Michael Jordan was in the midst of one of the greatest seasons of all time when he averaged 35 ppg, 5.9 apg , 5.5 rpg, 3.2 spg on his way to winning the league MVP and Defensive Player of the Year.

While his Airness was already being regarded as a Top 5 player at the time, this one weekend can be viewed as when he ascended to a global icon. He won the dunk contest–albeit controversial–while breaking out his iconic Air Jordan III sneaker, and he took home the game’s MVP award after posting 40 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 blocks and 3 assists in only 29 minutes.

What better way to once again honor the greatest player ever, by recognizing this moment. Plus, the Windy City hasn’t hosted the event since 1988, which is odd considering it’s one of the top 3 markets in America and rich in basketball history on all levels.

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South Florida has successfully hosted several major sporting events, but only one NBA All-Star Weekend. 

Miami 2019 – South Beach in February. Let me say that again, South Beach in February.  The ultimate party town, hosting the NBA’s ultimate party event. Nothing else really has to be said.

I am surprised it hasn’t been back since 1990 when the Heat weren’t even relevant. At that time you had to think former Commissioner David Stern selected South Florida to showcase one of his newest franchises as the Heat were only in its first season. But now after being in five NBA Finals in a span of eight years, Miami is a perfect match for the league. Even though they have fans more fickle than the weather down there during tropical storm season.

The city boast an extremely upscale arena, venues and plenty of hotels accommodations and more than adequate means to travel across town. Seems like a slam dunk or a Ray Allen corner three in game six of the 2013 NBA Finals.

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OKC has been a premier franchise and the fans have created a vibrant college atmosphere.

Oklahoma City 2020 – Assuming the Thunder keep both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in the fold, OKC will still be an attractive draw. The Heartland doesn’t get much respect from basketball purist. But this is a chance for the NBA to reward this city for how it not only has received the Thunder and made it a great atmosphere for basketball fans, but also for how the community received the New Orleans Hornets—now Pelicans—when they took refuge after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the “Crescent City.”

Also with the NBA cares events done during the weekend, this will be a great opportunity for the league and its partners to help continue to rebuild this area that’s still reeling after the tragic tornado that struck in the spring of 2013.

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Memphis is rich in Civil Rights and hoops history, and what better way to celebrate both than during Black History Month.

Memphis 2020 – If you’ve never been, you don’t know what your are missing. From the barbecue to the nightlife, music and tourist attractions such as the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel where Dr. King was assassinated, to Graceland the home of Elvis Presley; Memphis would be a great host for All-Star weekend. By the way, “The River City” is also a hot bed rich in hoops history at the high school, collegiate and professional levels.

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Seattle is eager for the NBA to return.

Seattle – Depending on who you are, this may seem like trolling, but let me explain why this would be a win-win for the league and Seattle hoop fans.

The League needs to make a true showing that they really want to bring a team back to Seattle. Since the Sonics were hijacked and taken to Oklahoma City, Seattle has been mentioned as a possible destination for owners looking to scare their current cities into upgrading or building new arenas. Commissioner Silver has said he’d like to bring a team back to the city by expansion or an existing franchise. This will go a long way in proving he’s serious.

For the fans and city leaders, this will be their opportunity to show that their love for NBA basketball has not dissipated in the absence of their beloved Sonics. Players will get a chance to see what NBA life in the “Emerald City” has to offer.

It shouldn’t matter that Seattle doesn’t currently have a team, that precedent was already set when the NBA took the All-Star festivities to Las Vegas in 2007.

The Great Debate: LBJ Vs. MJ: Revisited

As the 2013-2014 NBA Season dawns on us, the defending champion Miami Heat are once again the favorites to win it all. Vegas has them as 13 To 5 Odds.

But for LeBron James, he’s chasing ghost, not just rings. He tries to do what his hero Michael Jordan and biggest rival Kobe Bryant have done, win three in a row.

That’s what it’s about as LBJ continues his hall of fame career. He knows if he doesn’t lead the Heat to a three peat his detractors will say, “see he’s not as good as Jordan. Heck, he’s not even Kobe.”

But as I wrote in an article after the Heat won their second title and major media outlets began the MJ and LBJ comparison, James already has topped Jordan in some areas.

I’m not the only one that has taken a close look at this debate. There’s been a recently released book written about it, it even caused stabbing in Pittsburgh. So I’m not crazy, people really are serious about who is better. Just take a look at what I discovered, MJ fans won’t be too happy with me. Hell, I’m not happy with myself.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE FROM 07/09/13:

LeBron James isn’t better than Michael Jordan, and that’s okay. One day he will either eclipse him, fall short or be his equal. Truth is, he is already the best OVERALL player the NBA has ever seen. This is coming from one of the biggest Jordan fans you’ll find.

Courtesy: Baseketfootball.com

Now that the confetti has cleared from the Miami Heat’s third championship – the second for LeBron James – and the national media has wiped their collective drool from the last couple of weeks over LeBron’s performance, it’s my turn to jump in on this. I’ve read several articles, watched and listened to several sports talk shows on various media platforms, debate whether or not LeBron is better than Michael Jordan. LeBron is not better than MJ, but he is the best overall player the NBA has EVER seen. There is a difference. It’s like saying what’s the difference between a scorer and a shooter. They both can score plenty of points, but a shooter only does it with the jump shot and a scorer does it a multitude of ways from slashing lay-ups and dunks, jump shots, free throws etc. Ray Allen is a shooter; Carmelo Anthony are Kevin Durant are scorers.

My issues with the comparisons are the key variable in which they are comparing the two by, which is their age. It’s unfair to MJ. You can’t compare ages because LeBron entered the league three years before Michael Jordan did. If you want to use age, you would have to start the comparison at age 21, the age Michael played his first game for the Chicago Bulls back in the 1984-85 season. But this would be unfair to LeBron. The only fair way is to look at years of service or experience, 10. So let’s start there.

All my stats have been fact checked by basketball reference.com. Michael Jordan’s first 10 seasons are 1984-1993 and 1994-1995. LeBron’s first 10 seasons are 2003-2013.

LBJ or MJ

Michael has scored 21, 998 points to LeBron’s 21,081. LeBron has more assists with 5,302 to MJ’s 4,025. LeBron also has more rebounds with 5,553 to Michael’s 4,336. LeBron has the edge in MVP trophies at 4 to 3. Michael has the edge on championships at 3 to 2.

Courtesy: The Sportsfanjournal.com / “18 year old LeBron meets 40 year old Michael”

Another key stat to look at when adding up all these numbers; LeBron has played in 765 games while Michael played in only 684. Because of Michael’s broken foot during the 1985-86 and his stint in minor league baseball that caused him to miss a season and a half, LeBron has played in 81 more games than Michael. That is equal to one full season more than his Airness.

To no surprise MJ scored more than LBJ and the per game average is more than 5 points a game. It’s also not shocking that LeBron – who goes out of his way to get teammates involved – has more assists than Michael at a per game average of 6.93 to 5.88. But I bet few people expected it to be that close.

The stats support the claim that LeBron is more Magic Johnson than Michael as many suggest. Honestly, I thought Scottie Pippen was a better all around player than Michael with his abilities and versatility. So giving the nod to LeBron as a better “overall player” isn’t that big a deal.

But look at the titles category that many are trying to throw against MJ with their 28 years old argument. MJ wins 3 to 2. I’ll throw another stat in there. 3-0 to 2-2. What’s that? Michael Jordan was undefeated in his three trips to the NBA Finals, where as LeBron won two of his four trips. I’ll give LeBron more credit than most for getting that 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers team to the NBA Finals in his first trip. I’ll give Michael a nod for never missing the playoffs in his first 10 seasons, while LeBron did miss in his first two seasons with the Cavaliers.

Depending on what category you place more importance on, you can decide who you feel is the best. If it is championships, MJ is still number one. If it’s total stats, LeBron has the edge everywhere except points.

Either way LeBron isn’t MJ, MJ isn’t LeBron. Let’s just enjoy the greatness we are witnessing in King James and celebrate his Airness for what he has done. My main point is that the discussion of who is the best is closer then we think. At least at this stage of their careers. Let’s do this in 5 years and see where the MVPs, stats and championships lay. Still we have to wait until Lebron is retired to come to any conclusion.

Courtesy: jordansdaily.com

Courtesy: ESPN.com

The Great Debate: LBJ or MJ

LeBron James isn’t better than Michael Jordan, and that’s okay. One day he will either eclipse him, fall short or be his equal. Truth is, he is already the best OVERALL player the NBA has ever seen. This is coming from one of the biggest Jordan fans you’ll find.

Courtesy: Baseketfootball.com

Now that the confetti has cleared from the Miami Heat’s third championship – the second for LeBron James – and the national media has wiped their collective drool from the last couple of weeks over LeBron’s performance, it’s my turn to jump in on this. I’ve read several articles, watched and listened to several sports talk shows on various media platforms, debate whether or not LeBron is better than Michael Jordan. LeBron is not better than MJ, but he is the best overall player the NBA has EVER seen. There is a difference. It’s like saying what’s the difference between a scorer and a shooter. They both can score plenty of points, but a shooter only does it with the jump shot and a scorer does it a multitude of ways from slashing lay-ups and dunks, jump shots, free throws etc. Ray Allen is a shooter; Carmelo Anthony are Kevin Durant are scorers.

My issues with the comparisons are the key variable in which they are comparing the two by, which is their age. It’s unfair to MJ. You can’t compare ages because LeBron entered the league three years before Michael Jordan did. If you want to use age, you would have to start the comparison at age 21, the age Michael played his first game for the Chicago Bulls back in the 1984-85 season. But this would be unfair to LeBron. The only fair way is to look at years of service or experience, 10. So let’s start there.

All my stats have been fact checked by basketball reference.com. Michael Jordan’s first 10 seasons are 1984-1993 and 1994-1995. LeBron’s first 10 seasons are 2003-2013.

LBJ or MJ

Michael has scored 21, 998 points to LeBron’s 21,081. LeBron has more assists with 5,302 to MJ’s 4,025. LeBron also has more rebounds with 5,553 to Michael’s 4,336. LeBron has the edge in MVP trophies at 4 to 3. Michael has the edge on championships at 3 to 2.

Courtesy: The Sportsfanjournal.com / “18 year old LeBron meets 40 year old Michael”

Another key stat to look at when adding up all these numbers; LeBron has played in 765 games while Michael played in only 684. Because of Michael’s broken foot during the 1985-86 and his stint in minor league baseball that caused him to miss a season and a half, LeBron has played in 81 more games than Michael. That is equal to one full season more than his Airness.

To no surprise MJ scored more than LBJ and the per game average is more than 5 points a game. It’s also not shocking that LeBron – who goes out of his way to get teammates involved – has more assists than Michael at a per game average of 6.93 to 5.88. But I bet few people expected it to be that close.

The stats support the claim that LeBron is more Magic Johnson than Michael as many suggest. Honestly, I thought Scottie Pippen was a better all around player than Michael with his abilities and versatility. So giving the nod to LeBron as a better “overall player” isn’t that big a deal.

But look at the titles category that many are trying to throw against MJ with their 28 years old argument. MJ wins 3 to 2. I’ll throw another stat in there. 3-0 to 2-2. What’s that? Michael Jordan was undefeated in his three trips to the NBA Finals, where as LeBron won two of his four trips. I’ll give LeBron more credit than most for getting that 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers team to the NBA Finals in his first trip. I’ll give Michael a nod for never missing the playoffs in his first 10 seasons, while LeBron did miss in his first two seasons with the Cavaliers.

Depending on what category you place more importance on, you can decide who you feel is the best. If it is championships, MJ is still number one. If it’s total stats, LeBron has the edge everywhere except points.

Either way LeBron isn’t MJ, MJ isn’t LeBron. Let’s just enjoy the greatness we are witnessing in King James and celebrate his Airness for what he has done. My main point is that the discussion of who is the best is closer then we think. At least at this stage of their careers. Let’s do this in 5 years and see where the MVPs, stats and championships lay. Still we have to wait until Lebron is retired to come to any conclusion.

Courtesy: jordansdaily.com

Courtesy: ESPN.com