The NBA Now Stands For “Not Boring Anymore!”

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The Philadelphia 76ers are on a roll! Last week they beat the Milwaukee Bucks and the LA Clippers. The Clippers! Granted, Chris Paul did not play, but still! And last night they beat the Sacramento Kings, without Joel Embiid. YES! The Sixers were 9-4 in January, and an easy vote for most improved team in the NBA.

The NBA is “Not Boring Anymore.” Harden beat my Sixers on the last Friday on the month by dropping 51 points on them as he recorded a triple double while scoring almost half of his teams points. And speaking of Triple Doubles, Russell Westbrook continues on his tear through the Association by raking up triple doubles almost at will.

And we haven’t event gotten to talking about LeBron crying like a baby or Sir Charles talking about King James like a dog and Steph Curry’s return to MVP form or John Wall being the player of the month, not to mention the Carmello Anthony trade/no trade saga in New York or the DeMarcus Cousins crisis in Sacramento or the Jimmy Butler/Dwayne Wade fiasco in Chicago. And I haven’t even mentioned the how good the Warriors are or the All Star Game Ballot Box brouhaha! Whew!

To be sure, the quality of professional basketball in “The Association” has gotten better. A LOT better. Now there are still too many sub-500 teams, but the exciting thing is, games are more fun than they were when I was coming up. And we’re talkin’ REGULAR SEASON games. Even though my team has a losing record, we are now winning games and are exciting to watch. Individual players such as Joel Embiid and many others are fun to follow as teams are jockeying for postseason positions and playoff spots now, and it’s still January!

Back in “The Day,” The joke on the NBA was that you only had to watch the last 2 minutes of ANY game to know who was going to win. But that’s not the case anymore. On any given Sunday, or weekday night for that matter, you can find a decent NBA game to watch. That has not always been the case.

The parallel is clear; our lives should be a mirror of quality and worth and excellence and value as well.

So it seems that the NBA has arrived, and not a season too soon. It’s not just the Warriors who are drawing crowds, it’s the OKC’s and the Sixers of the world that have a national following too. And this year, I might even watch the All Star Game.

In Basketball, “TD” Stands for Timmy Duncan

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I know it’s time to blog about baseball and the boys of summer and the Olympic Trials and Tom Brady losing his latest appeal regarding “Deflate Gate,” but we must pause because due applause is fitting and proper for one of the all-time great basketball players of our time: Tim Duncan.

Timmy Duncan was solid and steady, sturdy and stable, dependable and reliable, night in and night out. He just came to play and got the job done. Game after game and season after season and championship after championship, Tim scored points and grabbed rebounds and blocked shots. He wasn’t flashy nor was he flamboyant. And thank God for that.

The New York Times reported that “Duncan’s retirement was as quiet as Kobe Bryant’s was colorful and protracted. The Spurs released a statement highlighting his achievements, but without a quotation from the player.” It speaks volumes to how unassuming and unpretentious this humble and yet heroic player was. And what a lesson for all the sports world to follow.

Thanks for 19 great seasons, Timmy. You were one of the best. And boy will we miss seeing you together with these guys. 

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Here’s the full New York Times article:

By VICTOR MATHER

“After 19 years and five championships with the San Antonio Spurs, Tim Duncan announced Monday morning that he would retire at age 40.

Duncan was an elite player on an excellent Spurs team for his entire career. The Spurs made the playoffs every year in his tenure, never with a winning percentage lower than .610, and won five titles, with Duncan the finals’ most valuable player in three of them. He also won the league M.V.P. Award twice.

A relative latecomer to basketball growing up in the Virgin Islands, the 6-foot-11 Duncan was initially a swimmer. He was the No. 1 pick in the N.B.A. draft after four years at Wake Forest. (The Spurs had the top pick as a result of a rare down season largely caused by an injury to David Robinson.) The player selected just after Duncan, Keith Van Horn, has been out of the league for a decade.

Duncan initially starred in a “twin towers” lineup with Robinson, winning two titles. After Robinson’s retirement in 2004, Duncan carried on as the team’s star, winning three more N.B.A. crowns, most recently in 2013-14 over the Miami Heat in LeBron James’s last year there.

Duncan’s low-key nature often kept him out of the spotlight, but the sheer force of his accomplishments pushes him onto just about every list of the greats.

Duncan ranks fifth in career blocked shots (3,020), sixth in rebounds (15,091), seventh in games played (1,392) and 14th in points (26,496).

Duncan’s playing time had gradually been reduced in recent years, and he had ceded his starring role on the Spurs to Kawhi Leonard. Though he started 60 of the 61 games he played this season, he hit career lows in just about every category. But he was an All-Star as recently as 2015.

Duncan’s retirement was as quiet as Kobe Bryant’s was colorful and protracted. The Spurs released a statement highlighting his achievements, but without a quotation from the player.”

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http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/12/sports/basketball/spurs-tim-duncan-retires-after-19-nba-seasons.html?_r=0

 

How Sonya Curry Raised The MVP

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Steph Curry’s mom has a message that is magnetic and mesmerizing. She’s a basketball wife and a basketball mom that wears the mantle well. She carries herself with grace and graciousness and poise and panache and spirit and style.

Sonya Curry is the mother of the reigning NBA MVP and she herself is an MVP of a mom that is both charming and endearing and enchanting and enthralling. From a distance, she appears tough and tender and sensitive and straightforward. And she’s as pleasant as she is powerful.

I believe that a mom’s love is directly responsible for the success her children, and Sonya Curry get’s all of the kudos we can muster for the success of her sons, especially Steph Curry. So here’s to all the moms in general and all of the sports mom’s in specific. And here’s to Sonya Curry; the video of how she raised the MVP says it all.

And here’s to my mom, Lerotha Audrey Ritter Hunter, the best mom I could’ve ever had. I love you mom, and I miss you dearly.

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=15483607&sf25887156=1

 

Yogi Berra Said It All

Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra (May 12, 1925 – September 22, 2015) was known for baseball and bravado, backtalk and just plain babble. He had more quips and quotes than we can count. Sure he was a little monster on the field, but it was what he said almost more than what he did that we remember most.

Yogi was a catcher, manager, and coach who played 19 seasons in the Majors, from 1946–63, and then one more victory lap in 1965, all but the last for the New York Yankees. He was an 18-time All-Star and 10-time World Series champion as a player, Berra had a career batting average of .285, while compiling 358 home runs and 1,430 runs batted in. He is one of only five players to win the American League Most Valuable Player Award three times. Widely regarded as one of the greatest catchers in baseball history, Berra was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

As a player, coach, or manager, Berra appeared in 21 World Series and won 13 of them.

Berra, who quit school after the eighth grade, was also known for his malapropisms which is an act or habit of misusing words ridiculously, especially by the confusion of words that are similar in sound. Yogi was also known for his pithy and paradoxical quotes while speaking to reporters. Simultaneously denying and confirming his reputation, Berra once stated, “I really didn’t say everything I said.”

And here are a few more:

Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.

A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.

If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.

You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

The future ain’t what it used to be.

You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.

Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.

Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets.

You can observe a lot by just watching.

It’s deja vu all over again.

And the most famous one of ‘em all:

It ain’t over till it’s over.

Rest in peace, Yogi.

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/y/yogi_berra.html#mtVQfK4GQl2JUxTq.99

Ordinary vs. Extraordinary

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Bryce Harper is an extraordinary player. And he’s an extraordinary player on an ordinary, average, run-of-the-mill team. Go figure.

By all accounts, Harper should win the NL MVP Award this year. Seriously. His team is woefully and dolefully disappointing, but Harper has heaped a whole bunch of home runs and RBI’s and other stats to boot so it’s hard to argue against him winning the award.

At their best, the Washington Nationals are an ordinary team. At the beginning of the season, they were the odds on favorites to win the NL East, and some had them making a run for the World Series. Not. They got out of the gate fast, but stumbled and fumbled the Division to the Mets (https://godandsports.net/2015/04/23/the-mets-are-in-first-place/) who look to be one of the many teams that have a shot at winning it all.

To understand just how valuable Bryce Harper has been to the Washington Nationals this year, consider this: On September 3rd against the Atlanta Braves, Harper — the 22-year-old outfielder who, in his fourth season in the big leagues is the clear front-runner for National League MVP — led the Nats to a 15-1 rout by scoring four runs and driving in another … without even swinging. He came to the plate four times and walked four times. In total, he saw 20 pitches and swung at exactly zero of them. The following day, in his first at-bat, he finally saw a strike — and hit it out of the park. Just as he did the day after. And the day after that.

So how does an extra ordinary player survive on an ordinary team? It happens every day. It happens because the extra’s amongst us have to pull us and power us and lift us and shift us and carry us and command us and coral us and sometimes cajole us because there are times when most of us are ordinary at best and less than ordinary at worst.

during the inning of a baseball game at Nationals Park Friday, April 12, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

So if you find yourself in the situation where you are the extraordinary player on an ordinary team, thank you. Thank you for hitting and homering and catching and fielding and doing everything better than the rest of us. Please keep it up and keep it going and keep it together and hold the fort down till the cavalry comes. You deserve to to play under the bright lights and to receive all of the accolades and awards in the world.

Moses Malone: A Man Among Men

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Moses Malone had the right name. He was a mover and a shaker. Literally. He moved lesser men out-of-the-way to get his points and rebounds just like the Biblical Moses moved Pharaoh and the Egyptians out-of-the-way to get his people out of the muck and mire of making bricks without being given straw. Both men moved Heaven and earth to lead their people out of bondage. And for sports fans, losing is bondage.

Just like his namesake, Malone was a front-runner and forerunner and a groundbreaker and an earth shaker. And he certainly was a great basketball player. The first to jump from high school to the pros, Moses did it so that Kobe and LeBron and Kevin Garnett and countless others could follow.

Moses was a man among men. He was an All-Star and a League MVP and a Hall of Famer to boot. He averaged a double-double in points and rebounds his entire career. Moses played on a few great teams, and played a lot of great games. And of course Moses led the Sixers to the Promised Land of an NBA Title in 1983. He single-handedly handed Julius “Dr. J” Erving his one and only Championship Ring —  and for that, all of Philly is eternally grateful.

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Moses did his job and did it well. He brought his lunch pail to work every day and didn’t ask for any favors or cut any corners. He scored in the paint and rebounded on the block without fail. When you needed a bucket and needed one “bad,” you went to Moses. The phrase “Malone Alone” became a catchall, as Moses would get points and grab rebounds just for something to do. Because that was what he was meant to do.

So, so long Moses. It is too ironic that you pass away on the heels of the passing of our other beloved Sixers’ Center, “Chocolate Thunder,” Darryl Dawkins. Both of you will forever live in the hearts and homes of the Philly Faithful, everywhere.

MVP! MVP! MVP!

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Andre Iguodala is the 2015 NBA Finals MVP. And he earned it. And he deserves it. Period. “Iggie,” as he is affectionately called, was a onetime Philadelphia 76er (Being from Philly, I had to get that in). Anyway, Iggie saved the series for the Warriors. The winner of the Bill Russell Award, whom Kerr inserted into the starting lineup for the final three games, was a force. Responsible for defending James at one end, Iguodala provided timely offense at the other.

The Most Valuable Player of the Finals wasn’t even a starter this season. No, the Bill Russell Award was handed to Golden State Warriors shooting guard Andre Iguodala, a steady veteran player who scored 25 points in Tuesday’s championship-clinching 105-97 win. His first start came in Game 4 of the Series, and his stops on defense and his points on offense turned the tide for the champs. “He saved this series for us,” Green said. No doubt, Curry would have liked to have received the MVP Award, but without Iguoldala’s energy and effort, the Warriors may not have made it to the top.

Down 2-1 in the series, Kerr wisely made the right adjustment and replaced a starter with his sixth man. And the gamble paid off. Kerr now looks like a basketball genius for coming up with the antidote for LeBron and the solution to success for his struggling team. Iguodala was the best defender the Warriors had and he slowed down the Cavs King James just enough to give his team the breath to breathe new life into the series. Iguodala was the key to the Game 4 win, and the rest, well, is history.

Coach Kerr said it always bothered him that people paid so much attention to his team’s gaudy numbers on offense. The Warriors also had the league’s top-ranked defense. No joke. And Iguodala is a big reason why. Basketball, and life, are about the balance of combinations. “When you get that combination (of the top rated defense and the top rated offense) then you’re going to be pretty good,” Kerr said. “Whether you’re shooting 2s or 3s, it’s about the balance.”

“It’s about the balance.” Sounds like sage words of advice for life.

And so the lesson here is to get the right balance; to get the right combinations in general, and the right combination of offense and defense in particular. Humility is a weapon that can be used on offence and defense. So use it wisely, as did Iguodala, who was a lifetime starter, and yet he sacrificed his wants and wishes for the team and came off of the bench all season. And for that he was called on to come on the big stage at just the right time. And his unassuming attitude resulted in his unpretentious gratitude for an MVP Trophy well deserved.

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Congratulations Iggie. Your example is helping us to learn the lesson.