26 years ago today, Magic created potentially his most memorable play.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: Magic made victory appear out of thin air in a critical Game 4 of the NBA Finals at the Boston Garden.
21 years ago today, Michael Jordan had the greatest half in NBA Finals history.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: Doesn't it seem like Michael Jordan was involved in every great Finals moment ever?
The Bulls defeated Portland 122-89 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on June 3rd, 1992. Michael Jordan, who finished with a game-high 39 points, set NBA Finals records for points scored in a half (35) and three-point field goals made in one half (6).
After the sixth made three-pointer, Jordan turned to the mid court TV camera and shrugged as if to say, “I guess everything’s going in.” Unknowingly, his shrug created one of the most indelible images in NBA history and added further to his legacy in the process.
The two teams appeared headed to face each other for most of the season and comparisons were made between Clyde Drexler and Michael Jordan throughout the season. Portland came out super hot to start the game, making their first seven field goal attempts, and took an eight point lead.
Then, Michael Jordan turned it on. Portland was leading by 1 at 45-44, but then Chicago went on a 22-6 run to grab a 66-51 halftime lead and take control, ultimately winning the game by 33 points.
"I started running for the three-point line; it felt like a free throw," Jordan famously said after the game. "I set another goal … a reasonable, manageable goal that I could realistically achieve if I worked hard enough. I approached everything step by step."
In any different era, the Portland Trailblazers squads of the early 90's would've walked away with at least one ring. The Seattle Supersonics of the late 90's would later feel the same sting of a Bulls team that is considered one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history.
The Bulls would go on to win the series in six games. Michael Jordan was named Finals Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row, to go with his sixth straight regular season scoring titles.
When New Orleans became the Pelicans, it cleared the way for the Charlotte Hornets to return to the NBA.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: In the mid-nineties, there was no cooler team in any sport than the Charlotte Hornets.
Even though the Hornets never won a title, never even advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs, they were a cultural phenomenon thanks to huge personalities and the coolest jerseys in NBA history.
The Charlotte Hornets were established in 1988 via the expansion draft, which saw them build the squad around Kelly Tripuka, Dell Curry, Rex Chapman and 5-3 Muggsy Bogues, the shortest player in NBA history. Even though they weren't great, the Hornets were a surprise success in their first season, leading the NBA in attendance (something they would achieve seven times during 14 years in Charlotte). Eventually, the Hornets would sell out 364 consecutive games, essentially nine consecutive seasons.
The Hornets won 20 games in year one, 21 in year two, 26 in year three and hosted the 1991 NBA All-Star Game. The momentum was building and the All-Star Game was a national introduction.
Prior to year four, the Hornets entered the NBA Draft with the number one overall pick and made a pick that affected the franchise for years to come. Larry Johnson, who would eventually become "Grandmama", was the reigning Naismith Award winner as the best player in college basketball.
And even though they won less than half of their games (31), they now had their identity and face of the franchise. LJ was tough, charismatic and one of the best players in the game averaging 19.2 ppg and 11 rpg as a rookie.
After Johnson's Rookie of the Year season, his jersey began to pop up more and more outside of Charlotte, in places like Omaha, Nebraska; places where they had no business popping up.
In 1992 the Hornets held the second pick in the NBA Draft and used it to select Georgetown center Alonzo Mourning. Equally as tough and talented as Johnson, suddenly the Hornets were raising eyebrows.
Johnson, Mourning and Kendall Gill, a #1 draft pick three years prior was the highest scoring trio in the league. In year five, the Hornets had their first winning season (44-38) and made their first playoff appearance, upsetting the heavily favored Boston Celtics in the first round. Charlote was eliminated in the second round, but the groundwork was set; the Hornets were now a legit NBA franchise.
With the success, even more people jumped on the bandwagon and it was now "cool" to say you were a Hornets fan. And when you said it, you weren't mocked; you would generally receive a knowing nod of approval and the unspoken, "This dude is cool," sentiment of the time.
In 1993 the Hornets struggled to a 41-41 record due in large part to injuries to "Zo" and "LJ" and missed the playoffs. Mourning averaged a double double, and Johnson was second on the team in both scoring and rebounding.
Even though the franchise took a step back, point guard Muggsy Bogues had the best season of his career. Bogues scored 10.3 ppg, his 10.1 apg was second most in the league and he led the league in assist to turnover ratio. Bogues was the spark-plug that made the Hornets one of the most exciting teams ever.
He didn't have the biggest name, or body, on the team, but he would ultimately retire as the Hornets' career leader in minutes played (19,768), assists (5,557), steals (1,067), turnovers (1,118), and assists per 48 minutes (13.5).
The next season, the Hornets finished the regular season going 50-32, and returned to the playoffs. Johnson and Mourning again led the team in points-per-game, while also leading the club in rebounding. However, Charlotte was bounced from the playoffs in the first round, falling to the Chicago Bulls in four games.
Following the season, the core of the team, and of the franchise, was broken up as the Hornets traded Mourning to the Miami Heat.
By 1995 the Hornets were selling the most jerseys in the league. But, the Mourning trade really marked the beginning of the end for the Hornets as a succesful NBA franchise led by the exciting style spearheaded by Bogues, Johnson and Mourning. After a 41-41 season, LJ was dealt to the New York Knicks. Bogues was limited due to injury, losing minutes to Kenny Anderson, and was no longer a Hornet after 1997.
The Hornets enjoyed success even after the "Bigh Three" left, making the playoffs in five of the following six years before the franchise left Charlotte for New Orleans, but it was a completely different team. And with it, the buzz and aura of coolness that had been established, slowly dissipated.
Sure there was success, but the early Hornets teams were exciting to watch, especially as they grew from league doormat to consistent contender. All NBA fans saw this development and felt like they were a part of it, which was expressed by the record setting merchandise sales. Liking the Hornets even when they were good wasn't like liking the Yankees and Dallas Cowboys when they were good; there was an understated cool to it that people just "got".
So why should you care that the Charlotte Hornets are being reincarnated? Because with a built in fan-base and the re-birth of the fantastic uniforms, NBA fans will at least be treated to whatever magic is left. And for as bad as they have been as the Charlotte Bobcats under Michael Jordan, it's basically like rebuilding the Hornets again, from the ground up, for a second time.
And maybe if we're lucky, we'll get to see bikini brief-esque shorts like the ones Kelly Tripucka has on in this introductory press conference from 1988:
Top 3 Whitest NBA teams and it's not who you'd guess.
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Race and basketball have always been debated, argued, and pretented to be ignored. Here's a look at the numbers.
Although basketball has become a hugely international game, many still associate it with Black America. People believe rightly or wrongly that the NBA is 99% black and that all the players that matter are black.
The numbers don't lie. Last season 75.6% of all minutes played in the NBA were from black players, while whites only played 18.6% of the minutes. This is a powerful statistic that goes beyond simply what racial breakdown exists on each team and gets to the heart of who is actually in the game.
Here are the three whitest NBA teams based on the percentage of white players on their roster. Many people generally associate teams like the Utah Jazz and Boston Celtics with white players, but Boston and Utah didn't even make the Top 10 this season.
Top 3 Whites NBA Teams of 2012
1. Milwaukee Bucks 38.3%
2. Minnesota Timberwolves 36.3%
3. Orlando Magic 33.7%
It is important to remember with these types of statistics that NBA teams are comprised of a maximum of 15 signed players and 12 suited to play. This means changing just a few players on any given team can make a significant difference to that team's overall percentage. Also, statistics showed absolutely no correlation between race / ethnicity and wins. Teams with more players of any given race were statistically no more likely to win.
Some will say examining race within the NBA is wrong and that basketball is colorblind. There is some truth to this. Statistics show that General Managers across the NBA build their teams based on skill and not racial or ethnic considerations. With this said, race remains a significant component of the American and our athletic landscape. To pretend it doesn't exist is perhaps the most truly blind and apathetic solution.
Statistical Data: TIDES & A Screaming Comes Across The Court.
32 years ago today, Dr. J was king.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: Julius Erving of the Philadelphia 76ers was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, making him the only player to win MVP honors in both the NBA and the ABA.
To this day, only a handful of players have revolutionized the entire game, not just the NBA, the way Dr. J did. And not just in terms of on the court success, of which he had plenty, but in terms of personal style. Dr. J was the alpha male of his era and even if you knew nothing about basketball, just seeing the way he floated across the court, told you he was the man everyone else wanted to be.
Erving won three championships, four Most Valuable Player Awards, and three scoring titles with the ABA's Virginia Squires and New York Nets (now the NBA's Brooklyn Nets) and the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers. He is the fifth-highest scorer in professional basketball history with 30,026 points (NBA and ABA combined).
And he wasn't just a finesse scoring type of player- Dr J was mean and reflected the era in which he played. Case in point, his fight with Larry Bird:
Erving was inducted in 1993 into the Basketball Hall of Fame and was also named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time team. In 1994, Erving was named by Sports Illustrated as one of the 40 most important athletes of all time.
For crying out loud, the term "slam" dunk was coined to describe the way Erving attacked the rim. Before him, dunking was a practice usually among big men to show their dominance, strength and physicality. There was no art or style to it. The dunk was judged by many as style over substance and unsportsmanlike. Erving, however, changed that misconception and turned the dunk into the most exciting, expressive shot in the game. The "slam dunk" became an art form and came to help popularize the sport.
With no Dr. J, there would be no Michael Jordan, no Charles Barkley, no Kobe, and certainly no LeBron James.Read More
3 Reasons the Indiana Pacers Aren't Smart.
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Here's why we think the Indiana Pacers failed the SATs.
3. Horrible play selection. The last offensive set that Indiana coach Frank Vogel had his team execute was horrible. It turned into a broken play resulting in a Hail Mary. Yes, George made the 32-foot shot off the David West assist to send the game into overtime, but this was pure luck and not execution. This was bad coaching.
2. Easily Satisfied. Indiana coach Frank Vogel was chipper following his loss to the Heat saying, "Our spirit is very high, very confident." Since when do championship teams have high spirits following a game 1 loss? Oh, that's right ... Indiana isn't going to be a championship team. Why are you happy? Do you feel like you proved that you could win? The problem is you lost and will continue to lose in this series. Don't feel good about this game. You should be pissed you let a game you should have won slip away.
1. Roy Hibbert wasn't in the game: I repeat, Roy Hibbert wasn't in the game. Why on earth would you pull the heart and soul of your defense out of the game for the last shot? The Heat didn't need a 3-pointer to win. They were only down by 1 point, so perimeter pressure on the Heat 3-point shooters wasn't a significant concern. The Heat have a number of players (namely LeBron) who love to drive to the hole. Pulling Hibbert out of the game for the last play was a bonehead move that cost Indiana game 1.
18 years ago today, Mario Elie and the Houston Rockets capped off a ridiculous comeback.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: Phoenix dominated the regular season for two years, only to be eliminated in the playoffs by the streaking Rockets both times.
Houston’s Mario Elie sank a three-pointer from the corner with 7.1 seconds left in the game, lifting the visiting Rockets to a 115-114 win over Phoenix in Game 7 of their Western Conference Semifinal Round series at America West Arena. With the win, the Rockets became the first NBA team in 13 years (since the ‘82 Sixers against Boston) to overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-7 playoff series. Houston’s victory also broke a string of 20 consecutive wins by the home team in the deciding Game 7 of a playoff series. Just 24 hours later, Indiana repeated that feat by the road team after downing host New York 97-95 in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal Round series.
Check out the video here:
For Elie, it was the beginning of what would be a pivotal role during the Rockets run to the 1995 NBA title. After being a bench player all season, Elie was inserted into the starting lineup for the Finals and played the best basketball of his career. Elie averaged 16.3 points per game, almost double his regular season average, while shooting a 64% from the field. He was also 8 for 14 (.571) from the three-point line, hitting 7 of 10 three-pointers in Games 3 and 4.
The Rockets were already a ridiculously deep squad, so when Elie stepped up and started producing, the Orlando Magic had no answer as the Rockets romped to a 4-0 series sweep.
The shot Elie hit to seal the series victory over the Suns was particularly deflating to Suns fans. Not only because it ended their '95 season, but the previous year in the playoffs the Rockets also defeated the Suns in a seven game series after the Suns opened up a 3-1 series lead.
According to ABC 7 in Detroit, the Pistons have contacted Brian Shaw about an interview for their vacant head coaching position.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: Why in the world hasn't Shaw gotten a head coaching job yet?
As a player, Shaw advanced to four NBA Finals- one with the Orlando Magic in 1996 and three with the Lakers (2001-2003), winning all three as a Laker. He won two more titles as an assistant coach with the Lakers.
So, it isn't like he doesn't know how to win.
In addition to the Finals appearances, Shaw played with some great players throughout his career. As a first round draft pick of the Boston Celtics, he was teammates with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish and Dennis Johnson, learning the game from some of the all-time greats.
From there he moved onto the Miami Heat and played alongside Glen Rice and Steve Smith. He then joined Orlando, joining Shaquille O'Neal and Anfernee Hardaway, becoming a mentor to the latter. From there he went to the Lakers and was a key reserve on their championship squads before becoming an assistant coach and learning from possibly the greatest coach ever, Phil Jackson.
So, it's not like he doesn't know how to work with big egos and be successful.
And even now that he's been an assistant coach with the Pacers for two seasons, there still is no clear answer as to why he has been passed over so many times. At least not one that makes sense.
After the Lakers hired Mike Brown instead of him, Shaw was as perplexed as anyone.
"All the speculation and what I've heard, the powers making those decisions felt like the team needed a change of culture and a new voice, and head in a new direction," Shaw said. "I thought that was kind of peculiar because in the 12 years I'd been there, all we had done was gone to the championship seven times and won five championships.
I felt like there were 29 other teams in the league that would love to have that kind of culture and that kind of direction."
Brian Shaw should be a head coach in the NBA. A year from now, Joe Dumars could look really smart.Read More
The NBA Finals are where new stars are born and new styles are formed.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: An entire year of league history is compressed into and remembered by the outcome of the NBA Finals.
2009-2010 LA Lakers vs. Boston Celtics - 7 Games
The NBA needed this Finals from a business standpoint as much as anything else. Interest in the game was waining and the league was struggling financially. So what was the best recipe to get the league to be relevant and exciting again? A classic match-up between the Lakers and Celtics, which the Lakers won.
1993-1994 Houston Rockets vs. New York Knicks- 7 Games
This was as grueling an NBA Finals in history. Both teams were rugged, relied on tough defense and games were low scoring. Every possession was hotly contested and featured even personnel match-ups across the board, most notably reigning MVP Hakeem Olajuwon versus Patrick Ewing. The Rockets prevailed and won back to back titles, starting with this one.
1987-1988 LA Lakers vs. Detroit Pistons - 7 Games
The Lakers won this series in the ultimate stylistic clash between the finesse "Showtime" Lakers and the physical, brutish Pistons. Between 1980-1989 the Lakers won five titles, including this series versus the Pistons.This series represented a shift in NBA style of play. Even though the Lakers won and continued their dominance in this series, the Pistons swept the Finals the following season against the Lakers and eventually won two and a row, giving birth to the "Bad Boys" and their imposing style, a style that would be picked up and empolyed by NBA teams moving forward.
1979-1980 LA Lakers vs. Philadelphia 76ers - 6 Games
This series was all about the emergence of Magic Johnson. Magic changed the NBA game forever as the Lakers "Showtime" style was born. Instead of plodding half court sets that had been the norm, the Lakers relied on the transition game and became the most dominant team of the era, changing the entire direction of the league.
1973-1974 Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks - 7 Games
This series was littered with several future NBA Hall of Fame players who not only evolved their respective positions, but brought the game to a new level. The Bucks featured Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, while the Celtics had Dave Cowens and John Havlicek. Abdul-Jabbar was so dominant the Celtics frequently triple teamed him when he got the ball. The strategy paid off as the C's prevailed in seven games.Read More
HoopsVibe spoke with University of Wisconsin guard Traevon Jackson.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: Traevon spoke about his experience in the NCAA Tournament, playing against Naismith Award winner Trey Burke and who's the better player- him or his dad.
During the 2012-2013 season, In his sophomore year, Jackson posted career highs in all major categories while playing in 35 games, starting 29 of them.
Jackson was second on the team in free throw percentage (.765), first in steals (1.0 spg) and 15th in the Big Ten in assists.
HoopsVibe- What was your experience like playing in the NCAA Tournament?
Traevon Jackson- "Obviously, it didn’t end the way we wanted it to. Just playing in the tournament was great, getting that kind of experience. You really grow up fast because it’s the attitude of “loser goes home” and unfortunately, we had to go home. But it really puts into perspective what you need to do to prepare for it going forward. And learning that this year, helps us next year."
HV- Is there added pressure based on who your dad is (14 year NBA vet Jim Jackson) to succeed? What’s the dynamic of that like?
TJ- "Growing up, I felt it more than I do now, but now I don’t even think about it at all, actually. The pressure that I feel now the most is pleasing the Lord. That may sound cliché, but that’s an everyday type of task and the biggest thing for me. As long as I continue to grow in that aspect, there is no other question."
HV- Did your dad give you a hard time when you went to Wisconsin instead of Ohio State?
TJ- "No, he supported me. He told me what I was getting into as far as the coaching staff and what to expect, and he was right; he was right about a lot of things. At the end of the day he was just happy for me because he had seen where I started from in terms of basketball and what I had become. He was just very happy for me, and my mom too."
HV- Who would win one on one right now?
"Oh, me of course (laughing). Easily. He can beat me in golf and all the other games, cards, all that stuff. But he’s not beating me on the court."
HV- How did him moving around during his NBA career, playing for 12 different NBA teams, impact you as you were growing up?
TJ- "It was great. I got to go to a lot of different cities and see a lot of places I wouldn’t have probably otherwise seen. But, just from watching him, I got to really go through and experience his career with him. He started out as a top guy in the league and eventually became a productive role player. Just seeing how he handled it was awesome. It taught me to never give up, no matter what. I think about it now when I go through adversity, I never saw him put his head down; he always found a way, just like my mom. Just keep working hard and good things will come."
HV- You just finished your sophomore year and you were a big part of the Wisconsin rotation, playing almost 28 minutes a game. What helped your development the most between freshman and sophomore year?
TJ- "Mainly going home and working with my trainer Anthony Rhodman. This was my first full summer going back home and doing all the skill work that I needed to work on. Coming back in this year I was way more confident and better overall. It took a little while, had to go thru adversity. I didn’t achieve all the goals I wanted to, but the little bit of success I had is like a glimpse of the future."
HV- How’d you hook up with Anthony Rhodman?
TJ- "I saw Trey Burke going off in Ann Arbor. We were seniors in high school at the same time and he was killing that year; he won Mr. Basketball, all the awards and I asked him, "Who are you working out with?" And he told me about Anthony. Then I heard Trey talk, and I’d never heard him say so many things he was saying about the Lord, so I knew he had everything straight. And it took me off guard so I wanted to talk to Anthony. I hit Anthony up to introduce myself and he had heard of me and was planning on talking to me. We just hooked up from there and started working."
HV- Who would win one on one between you and Trey Burke?
TJ- "It would be tough but right now, it would be me (laughing). I always have to say me (laughing). It’s fun though. We play one on one in the summer and just always have fun."
HV- Favorite NBA player?
TJ- "Deron Williams. I love D Will because he’s a bigger guard and I always see myself being like him; the way that he uses hesitation and the between the leg dribble. He's explosive and can do it all."
HV- What’s the most annoying or creative heckling you have heard in any Big Ten arena?
TJ- "A lot of stuff about my dad, believe me. But I’ve heard that forever so it’s rare I hear anything new. There was this one lady at Indiana after we beat them. It was after the game and I was walking off the court and she was just sitting there on the sidelines. I was walking off the court and apparently I was smiling, even though I wasn't aware of it, and she said, “There’s nothing to be smiling at!” It caught me off guard and I thought, “Why are you so mad?” That’s one thing that comes to mind. Fans always say “Jimmy’s better!’ (laughing) but I’m so focused on the game I don’t even pay attention except at maybe at a dead ball."Read More
15 years ago today, Dikembe Mutombo made history.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: Mutombo is the greatest defensive player of his era and we spoke with him.
Atlanta's Dikembe Mutombo is named the winner of the 1997-98 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, becoming the first player in NBA history to win the award three times. But "Mount Mutombo" wasn't done there. Three years later, he would win the award again for the fourth time in his career.
The eight time All-Star led the league in blocks three times and rebounding twice, becoming arguably the most important non-offensive threat in NBA history.
We were lucky enough to interview Dikembe not long ago; here are a few excerpts. Read the full interview here.
HV: How did the finger wave come to become your signature move?
DM: It happened after my third year just before we beat the Seattle Supersonics in 1994 NBA playoffs. I was having such a great year and blocking shots and moving up in the league. I used to block the shot and then I would shake my hand and no one said nothing. One day I decided shaking the hand doesn't really mean nothing- maybe the best way to not come into the House of Mutombo it's best to wave my finger, so it worked out very cool. But it ended up getting me a lot of technicals.
HV: How did the NBA come to ban that? Does David Stern call you personally?
DM: It came from the players. You would hear from someone like Phil Jackson or something, that maybe you better stop what you're doing it's costing you a lot of money. It was good for me to do in the players face, but if I could face the fans and wave my finger away from the players face, it would be great. That's why you see in the last five years I started doing it away from the players face. So I don't have to lose a couple of thousand dollars (laughing).
HV: Who was your favorite NBA player to block?
DM: That's a good question. To me, not just one in particular. But I think playing against Shawn Kemp. He was such a high jumping, athletic player.
HV: How gratifying was it to be the first eight seed to beat a one seed when your Nuggets beat Kemp's Sonics?
DM: One of my proudest successes of my career.Read More
Jason Collins, an NBA center who has played for six different teams over the course of 12 seasons in the league, officially came out as being gay..
Hoopsvibe's quick call: Collins is the first American male athlete in a major sport to come out of the closet and is an inspiration to us all.
In a Sports Illustrated feature story set to premier in the May 06, 2013 issue, Jason Collins comes out publicly for the first time. The article begins, "I'm a 34-year old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay."
In the personal essay to be published by SI, Collins writes of his life as a gay man, a basketball player, his relationships with family and friends as well as his love for the game. It is an article that everyone should take time and read. It is a true example of genuine and honest, heartfelt journalism.
A cool things about Collins' coming out piece is that you don't have to be a fan of basketball to get value out of his story. The message(s) within Collins' expose go far beyond the game; the takeaways are both timeless and universal; they can apply to any one who reads with an open mind.
Here are three great passages and messages from the Jason Collins article:
# 1 - To not live in fear
"No one wants to live in fear." I've always been scared of saying the wrong thing. I don't sleep well. I never have. But each time I tell another person, I feel stronger and sleep a little more soundly."
# 2 - If you have something inside of you, you should get it out.
"It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret. I've endured years of misery and gone through enormous lengths to live a lie. I was certain that my world would fall apart if anyone knew. And yet when I acknowledged my sexuality I felt whole for the first time. I still had the same sense of humor, I still had the same mannerisms and my friends still had my back."
# 3 - Live truthfully
"The recent Boston Marathon bombing reinforced the notion that I shouldn't wait for the circumstances of my coming out to be perfect. Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully?"
One last exerpt from the article that stood out:
"Doc Rivers, my coach on the Celtics, says, 'If you want to go quickly, go by yourself -- if you want to go farther, go in a group.' I want people to pull together and push ahead."
As a person and player, Collins is an inspiration.
Collins is a currently a free agent. Most NBA insiders say he will definitely be on a team next season.
Watching Andrew Bogut cram on JaVale McGee last night made me yearn for the big men of old.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: Sure, there's some big dudes in this year's NBA playoffs, but where are the freaks?
Here's Bogut's jam in case you missed it:
I have always been fascinated by huge NBA players, particularly players over seven feet tall. Because when you see a seven footer in person, it’s almost cartoonish how big they are. But what about guys that are another half foot or more above that?
For as rare as it is to have one of these guys in the NBA at one time, the 1993-94 season saw four separate players 7-4 or above in the league; Manute Bol, Shawn Bradley, Gheorge Muresan and Rik Smits.
At 7-7, Bol and Muresan are the two tallest players to ever play in the NBA, with Bradley and Yao Ming tied for third. Interestingly, Bol’s height was the result of his genetics while Muresan’s was the result of a pituitary disorder.
Even though they were all 7-4 or above they each had different skill sets. Bol was a straight shot blocker, who led the league in blocks twice, who would occasionally drift behind the three point line and nail a three, which looked especially weird. In 1992-93 he actually shot a respectable 31% from downtown. Statistically he actually ended up with more blocks than points in his career (2,086 vs. 1,599). Toward the end of his career Bol played for both the 76ers and Bullets specifically for the purpose of mentoring Bradley and Muresan.
Muresan was more prone to offense and led the lead in field goal percentage twice. Strangely at 7-7, his career average for blocked shots per game is only 1.5. I remember playing as him in NBA Live 96 for Sega and how incredibly slow he was, just like in real life.
Bradley was the most athletic of the four but that was almost his undoing in certain regards because he didn’t just focus on one thing. He led the league in blocks once, but he got posterized as much as any big man in history which warps public perception of his career.
Interestingly, Bradley had two of the best games of his career against Muresan. In the 1995-96 season he tallied a season high 27 points against him, adding 9 rebounds and four blocks. The next season he had his first career triple double on Muresan, with 19 points, 17 rebounds and 11 blocks.
Smits had the most success of any player 7-4 or above in NBA history. In a 12 year career, Smits averaged 14.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg and 1.3 bpg for his career. He was an all-star in 1998 and played in the NBA Finals.
But what’s interesting is even though they were the biggest guys on the court, they were also the most fragile and for whatever reason unable to handle the pounding on their bodies for long. All four players’ careers were ultimately ended due to lower leg injuries.
Who was your favorite freakishly tall NBA player? Did I hear someone say Chuck Nevitt??Read More
Ray Allen's new record for total three pointers made me wonder about the highest individual scoring performances in NBA playoff history.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: Michael Jordan owns two of the top five highest scoring games in NBA playoff history.
Michael Jordan - 63 points
Jordan scored an NBA Playoff record 63 points during a 135-131 double-overtime loss to the Celtics at Boston Garden in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round. Jordan shot 22-of-41 from the field and 19-of-21 from the free throw line in his record performance, breaking Elgin Baylor’s previous mark of 61 points by just two points, also against Boston in the Garden, set during the 1961-62 season, ironically. After the game, the Celtics Larry Bird uttered his famous quote about MJ, with a look of utter disbelief plastered on his face; “That was God disguised as Michael Jordan.”
Elgin Baylor - 61 points
LA Lakers great Elgin Baylor scored a still NBA Finals record 61 points in Game 5 at Boston Garden as the Lakers defeated the Celtics 126-121. Baylor’s 22 field goals made set an NBA Finals record that was tied five years later by San Francisco’s Rick Barry. Baylor also grabbed 22 rebounds in the game.
Wilt Chamberlain - 56 points
In 1962, Wilt scored 56 points by making 22 out of 48 shots (.458) and 12 of 22 (.454) from the free throw line. Chamberlain also grabbed 35 rebounds in the game
Michael Jordan - 56 points
On April 29, 1992 in the 3rd game of the Eastern Conference 1st round series between the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat, Jordan scored 56 points on 20 out of 30 (.667) shooting from the field and 16 out 18 (.889) from the line.
Charles Barkley - 56 points
"Sir Charles" hit 23-of-31 field goal attempts and finished with 56 points, leading the visiting Suns to a 140-133 win over Golden State and a three-game sweep of their Western Conference First Round series. Barkley’s 56 points tied for the third-highest total ever in an NBA Playoff game, and his 38 points in the first half set a record.
Top 5 reasons Marc Gasol won the Defensive Player Of The Year.
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: The NBA chose wisely this year, didn't listen to the hype, and gave it to a truly deserving player.
Marc Gasol becamse the first Grizzlie player ever to win the Defensive Player of the Year honors receiving 212 points and 30 first-place votes.
"I'm the first European ever to accomplish this," Gasol said Wednesday. "It's really an honor. Now I think my kids will believe me when I tell them I played in the NBA."
#5 Defensive Efficiency: The Grizzlies were 2nd in the NBA in terms of defensive efficiency and their numbers were always improved when Gasol was on the court. This shows that his team is strong defensively; but that they are improved by his presence and even surrounded by great defenders he makes the difference.
#4 Defensive Rebounding: Gasol averaged 5.5 defensive rebounds a game and held opponents to 6.8 points per 100 possessions.
#3 Steals Solid: Gasol averaged 1.0 steal per game, which is impressive for a big man.
#2 Blocks Impressive. Gasol averaged 1.7 blocks per game, which was 13th in the league.
#1 Getting The Job Done: The Grizzlies take a team approach to defense. They are able to pressure on the wings more because they know they're interior defense is so strong. Gasol in the middle anchors this interior defense. The Grizzlies allowed a league-low 88.7 point per game as a result.
Photo Credit: AP News
Top 10 Los Angeles Clippers Ever.
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: I know everyone's thinking CP3, but what about Danny Manning and Bob McAdoo?
#10 Bill Walton. They weren't his best years in the league, but in Walton's time with the Clippers he still managed a solid double-double.
#9 Bob Kauffman. He was a three-time NBA All-Star for the Clippers in the early 1970s.
#8 World B. Free. Besides having the coolest Clipper name of all-time he also was an NBA All-Star and averaged 28 and 30 PPG in two seasons with the Clippers.
#7 Corey Maggette. He was a multi-faceted scorer who lead the league in free-throws made and attempted.
#6 Danny Manning. Manning was the number one pick of the 1988 Draft and probably started the whole Clippers Curse. He averaged a respectable 14 PPG with a career-high of 22.8 PPG.
#5 Randy Smith. Who's Randy Smith? Smith's the franchise's leader in minutes played, assists, games played, steals and points. He dates back to the Buffalo Brave days, so most modern day fans probably don't know his name. He was an NBA All-Star and one of the most dynamic scorers of his day.
#4 Blake Griffin. He's averaged 20 PPG and 10 RPG since being in the league three season ago, but perhaps most importantly he has been a key piece to a 3 impressive winning season with the Clippers that has brought unprecedented success to a team historically destined to lose.
#3 Elton Brand. He was a similar player to Blake Griffin in a lot of ways. They are both 20 PPT and 10 RPG players and imposing players at their position. Brand simply did it longer for the Clippers and thus nudged out Griffin. I would expect Blake to take over this number three spot in the near future, but for now it is Brand's. He played with the Clippers from 2001-2006 and put up solid 20 PPG number over that entire time. He was an NBA All-Star during this period, the league leader in rebounds, and the franchise leader in total rebounds.
#2 Chris Paul. CP3 has averaged 16.9 PPG, 9.7 APG, and 3.7 RPG since he's come into the league. He's only improved on those numbers with the Clippers the last two seasons. Two seasons that have brought more wins to LA than the Clipper fan base know what to do with. He's also a six time All-Star, rookie of the year, All-Star MVP, been the NBA steal leader 5 times, and won a ton of other awards. He's current leader of the team and largely responsible for their current success.
#1 Bob McAdoo:
I'm sure a lot of modern day Clipper fans are scratching their heads at this one, but McAdoo was one incredibly dominant player. This dates back to when the franchise was the Buffalo Braves before they came to Los Angeles. McAdoo averaged 28.2 PPG, 12.7 RPG, 2.6 APG, and 2.5 BPG as a brave. Not to mention he also had three 2,000 point seasons three of his four years with the team and had a league-leading 34.5 PPG in 1975 that season averaging 37.4 PPG in the playoffs.
The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls were arguably the best team in NBA history, led by arguably the greatest player in NBA history.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: The accomplishments of the 1995-96 Bulls only get more amazing as time passes.
17 years ago tonight, the Bulls defeated the Bullets 103-93 to finish the season with a 72-10 record and .878 winning percentage, which eclipsed the NBA record set by 1972 Lakers, who went 69-13 for an .841 percentage. The victory over Washington earned Chicago their 33rd road victory, the most ever in a season by an NBA team.
Chicago was ridiculously hot all year and consistent throughout. The Bulls finished the month of November with a 12-2 record but improved in each of the next two months, going 13-1 in December and 14-0 in January, running their record to 39-3 after three months. In February, the Bulls ran their record to 41-3 and became the fastest NBA team to 41 wins, again besting the '71-72 Lakers previous record.
After the incredible regular season, CHI didn't cool off, going 15-3 in the playoffs for a combined total record of 87-13. The Supersonics won three of those 13 games, while the Indiana Pacers were the only other team to beat them more than once that season, winning two games in the regular season by a total of five points.
During the same victory over Washington 17 years ago, Michael Jordan set an NBA record by winning his eighth NBA scoring title (breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s record of seven) after accumulating 2,491 points in 82 games for a 30.4 ppg average. The 30+ ppg average was the last time Jordan would score 30+ points per game. And of the eight seasons he did score 30+, 30.4 was the second lowest- how many guys would KILL for a season like that?
Another interesting piece of statistical information for you about MJ. Entering '95-'96, Jordan had made 303 of 987 attempts from beyond the arc in 10 seasons, hitting them .306% of the time.
In his 11th season, MJ hit 111 of 260, hitting treys at a clip of .427%, tied with Hubert Davis for 10th best percentage in the league.
It goes to show you why Jordan was great- even though he was the best ever, even already at that point, he worked on his weak areas until they were strengths.
With that kind of leadership and talent, it's no wonder why that Bulls had the success they did.Read More
The NBA's "real season" begins soon, as playoff time is finally almost upon us.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: Upsets used to be the exception, now they are the rule.
The following five match-ups all feature an eighth seed upsetting a number one seed, a feat that has only happened five times in NBA history. Of the five times, three of those upsets ocurred in the last six years.
Golden State Warriors Upset Dallas Mavericks - 2007
At the time, the Dallas Mavericks were considered one of the biggest favorite one seeds ever, coming off of a 67-15 regular season record which was the only since legitimate claim to challenge the Bulls 72-10 all-time best NBA season. The Mavericks were also coming off of losing in the Finals to the Heat the previous season, a series many people felt like they should’ve won; expectations were high and facing Golden State in the first round they had every reason to be. The Warriors were a franchise at the time, much like now, that was mired in mediocrity with no real reason to be optimistic. After squeaking into the playoffs at 42-40, they were a complete after-thought. The Warriors qualified for the playoffs that year for the first time since 1994 with the 13 year drought between appearances being the second longest in NBA history. The Warriors beat the Mavs in six games, and this Baron Davis dunk over AK-47 (even though it took place in the following playoff series) shows you the level he and the Warriors were playing at:
Denver Nuggets Upset Seattle Supersonics - 1994
The year was 1994. Charles Barkley signature “Air Max” shoes, selling for $150 a pair, were king. The world was shocked by the unexpected death of Kurt Cobain. And Seattle Supersonics fans the world over were reeling from a first round playoff loss to the eighth seed Denver Nuggets. The Sonics had blown through the regular season going 63-19 which was a franchise record for wins and were the number one seed heading into the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs to face a Denver Nuggets team that no one had expected anything from. And with good reason; to that point in NBA history no eighth seed had ever beaten a number one seed. And no one expected a 42-40 Denver team to pose a legitimate threat, especially after losing the first two games in what was at the time a best of five game first round series. Game five was an epic back and forth game where the intensity never waned and every possession felt like the most important in the game. Kendall Gill’s layup with a half second left on the clock sent the game into overtime. But the Nuggets maintained the momentum throughout the extra frame and escaped with a 98-94 victory, winning the series.
New York Knicks Upset Miami Heat - 1999
The Pat Riley led Heat were the number one seed after posting a 33-17 record during the strike shortened season and the Knicks stumbled to 27-23, barely qualifying as the eighth seed. Both teams had dominant big men from Georgetown University; Alonzo Mourning and Patrick Ewing. Both had flashy offensive weapons that could make plays, Tim Hardaway for the Heat and a still dominant Latrell Sprewell. Down by one with 19.9 seconds left in the deciding game five, the Knicks did everything they could to screw up the possession and struggled to get a shot off. Ultimately after an inbound with 4.4 seconds, Allan Houston launched a running floater from the top of the lane that bounced off the rim and backboard before falling through the hoop securing a one point victory and the series for the Knicks.
Philadelphia 76ers Upset Chicago Bulls - 2012
Game one of the series, the Bulls are coasting right along, up by 12 with 81 seconds left. Then, this happens:
Series over, Philly wins four games to two. That's pretty much it.
Memphis Grizzlies Upset San Antonio Spurs - 2011
I remember at the time watching this series, particularly how slow and old the Spurs looked and thinking, "Man they had a great run, but they are definitely over the hill." Wrong again! The Spurs, essentially with the same core of players, will be the #2 seed in the West this year. The Spurs came into the 2011 playoffs as the #1 seed, with the second-best record in basketball and home court advantage against any Western Conference opponent and were dropped in the first round. Zach Randolph played out of his mind and Marc Gasol wore down Tim Duncan on both ends of the floor.
In this year's playoffs, if the Bucks were to beat the Heat, or the Lakers were able to vanquish the Thunder, would either be a bigger upset than any of the previous upsets on this list?
Recent poll ranked the loyalty of NBA fans. Miami Heat came out on top.
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: This one's tough to believe, but a polls don't lie. Do they?
The Brand Keys Sports Fan Loyalty Index puts together an annual poll ranking the loyalty of median markets for all 30 NBA teams. The rankings are based off of fan interviews, which could leave a lot to be desired in terms of reliability of data. Supporters will argue that Miami Heat fans are no more likely to show false support for their team than fans of the Lakers, Celtics, or Mavs, but the integrity of a poll like this must be questioned when it concludes Miami Heat fans are more loyal than Boston Celtic or Los Angeles Laker fans.
The Miami Heat jumped from #6 last season in terms of loyalty to #1 this season. I don't even understand how loyalty can jump year-to-year. I thought the very definition of loyalty was that it sustained when the team wasn't doing well. What does a loyalty ranking measure when all it indicates is that the teams that are currently doing great are have loyal fans, while the team is going great?
The San Antonio Spurs were bumped from the #1 spot last season to #2 this season. The loyalty of San Antonio is very believable considering they have no other sports franchises in the city, so sporting fans in San Antonio have only one show in town, the Spurs. The others in the top 5 included the Celtics, the Oklahoma City Thunder, The Knicks, and the Nets. The Nets? Yes, I said the Nets.
How can a franchise that is 5 seconds old have loyal fans. What are they loyal to? This is one of the oddest sporting polls I've ever seen and I would consider it about as reliable as those polls that declared Mitt Romney was going to be our next president.
Photo Credit: Meio