Category Archives: NBA

Michael Jordan: A Sports Persona that Will Never Be Parallelled

Arguably the greatest player to ever pick up a basketball

Arguably the greatest player to ever pick up a basketball

By Nick Gelso

There are few NBA stars that possess the ability to have there first names be recognizable above any other name in their sport.

Today’s game boasts interesting names such as Kobe and LeBron but before they were even old enough to lace up sneakers one man separated basketball from sports.

Michael was, and remains, the most recognizable name in not just sports but in popular entertainment. His air-ness may share his name with the King of Pop and their achievements may be similar on a global stage but Michael Jordan’s ability to combine his achievements as an athlete and his ability to bolster his public image with his successes in the business world undoubtidly separate him from the other Michael.

Jordan entered a league dominated by Magic, Doctor J., Larry, Kareem and Moses. Among those titans of basketball, Jordan managed to captivate the sporting world while playing for an untalented Bulls team.

Jordan’s career seemed to reach new levels each season but his team was not always recognized as the second (behind Russell’s Celtics) greatest dynasty in basketball history.

Though MJ led his Bulls to the 8th seed playoff spot his first several seasons, a feat that is underappreciated on Chicago teams that were untalented and under achieving, his early career was marred by injuries and  controversies caused by jealous opponents.

The NBA’s most jealous superstar, Isiah Thomas, unsurprisingly led the charge in 1984. Michael Jordan was voted as a starter, by the fans, to the all-star game in his rookie season. Isiah, feeling the attention Jordan was receiving was unjust, led a player revolt in the all-star game. In a move most forgotten for unsportsmanlike behavior, Isiah refused to pass Michael the ball throughout the game.

Jordan went on to win Rookie of the Year honors and his battles with Isiah had just begun.

His next two seasons were busted by foot and knee problems.

In 1986, Jordan returned from knee surgery in time to face the Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Though the Bulls were swept by Larry’s Celtics, Jordan managed to set an unbroken playoff record of 63 points in game 2.

In 1987, Jordan averaged an astonishing 37 points per game but was again swept by the Celtics.

It wasn’t until 1988, perhaps Jordan’s most successful season individually, the Bulls emerged from the first round of

Jordan holding on of his 6 Larry O'Brien Trophies

Jordan holding on of his 6 Larry O'Brien Trophies

the playoffs. That season, Jordan averaged 35 points per game, 52 percent from the field. He won his first of five NBA Most Valuable Player award and the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

It’s rare to have a player succeed on the offensive and defensive ends of the court in such a dominant fashion.

In 1988, the first of 4 epic post season battles, Isiah Thomas and his Detroit Pistons eliminated the Chicago Bulls in five games.

The Pistons and Bulls would meet again in 1989 and the Pistons, now famous, “Jordan Rules” defense facilitated in once again eliminating the Bulls.

In 1990 the Bulls emerging talent surrounding Jordan again fell to the Pistons as the “Jordan Rules” was now a famous and effective method for slowing down Jordan and stopping the Bulls.

It wasn’t until 1991 that Michael and his now ultra talented squad finally beat the Detroit Pistons. The Bulls were able to finally get revenge and swept the Pistons led by Jordan opting for the assist over the shot, made difficult by the Pistons “Jordan Defensive Rules”.

Isiah Thomas, in typical unsportsmanlike fashion, walked off the court before the final buzzer without congratulating his opponent.

After defeating the Detroit Pistons in 1991, Jordan led his Bulls to their first title.

The Bulls would go on to win 6 titles in 7 years.

Michael Jordan, a man who achieved personal stats unmatched by any player in NBA history,  won 6 NBA titles,  5 NBA MVP awards, 6 Finals MVP awards, Rookie of the Year honors, Defensive Player of the Year honors, 14 all-star appearance, 10 all NBA first team appearances, 9 time defensive first team honors, 3 all-star game MVP awards, 2 Dunk contest championships, and now he will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Jordan, nearly single handedly, made famous such globally branded products as Nike and Gatorade.

Even in retirement, Jordan's endorsements of products such as Nike and Gatorade continues to ensure their profits.

Even in retirement, Jordan's endorsements of products such as Nike and Gatorade continues to ensure their profits.

On the day of Jordan’s first retirement, the NY Stock Exchange actually took a dip because of Jordan’s effect on global business.

No professional athlete can boast such a claim.

I consider myself to be a somewhat astute NBA historian and yet I had to research all of Jordan’s accolades online as to not forget any.

Above all of his personal and team achievements, perhaps Jordans most admirable contributions to professional sports was his ability to face defeat, adversity, world fame, and tremendous success with grace, maturity, sportsmanlike conduct, and humility.

His brilliance on the basketball court is missed but his presence is still felt by the players that follow him. Players such as Kobe and LeBron emulate Jordan in their on court highlights. We can often be found, jaw dropped, at an amazing move made by today’s players while thinking and sometimes shouting:

 “That was a Jordan move!”

Today’s players may be able to resemble Jordan in their play but they certainly cannot reach the levels Michael achieved, always carrying himself with class, on and off the court.

Should NBA Players Be Allowed To Compete in the Olympics?

I think a player’s team has the right to say NO.

Though I am very proud to be an American and very patriotic, I do not feel that the Olympics should trump a team’s right to deny a player approval over it’s players desire to play in the Olympics.

The NBA is a business like any other. When a team is paying it’s stars 20+ million, such as with Kobe Bryant, a team has hinged it’s entire financial future on that player. Finances have become (almost) as big a part of the game as the talent level of it’s players. A serious injury to Kobe during the summer of 2008 could have wiped away the Lakers chance at winning their 15th title. I am not even going to dive into the amount of play Kobe had between the 2008 NBA finals and the Olympics before even lacing up for the 2009 season.

With that in mind, I do not think it is unreasonable for NBA teams to put stipulations in it’s STARS contracts to ban them from competing in the Olympics. Though in recent years, the USA has not held up well against the world’s competition, their is no question that, win or loss, the USA has the best basketball players in the world. I would be lying if I said that i didn’t enjoy watching the redeem team blow through the rest of the world’s competition, however, I would not risk the health of my superstar to stroke my own (or his) ego.

Prior to the original Dream Team’s bid to bring glory back to USA basketball, NBA players were not allowed to compete. We all knew that no team in the world could play with the likes of Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, etc. Whether our team consisted of NBA legends or college stars, their was no question that as a whole the USA controlled the market on basketball.

I loved watching the Dream Team destroy the rest of the world in 1992. Let’s face it though, that team was more of a traveling celebrity tour then it was a determined basketball team. I found more entertainment value in watching Bird, Magic and Michael in a photo shoot or Barkley and Ewing hamming it up on the bus trips then the actual play on the court. Their is no doubt that watching the US destroy the rest of the world’s opponents by 50 points was fun the first 5 games but it became expected after the 5th game, not to imply it was any less fun, it was just expected.

It was fun watching the opposing team looking at Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson goofing off during warm ups in complete amazement. It was great for my ego as a proud American who loves basketball.

So.. should NBA teams have the right to stop it’s stars from playing in the Olympics?

I do not feel that NBA players should be banned from competition completely but I do believe that a team should reserve the right to stop it’s stars from playing with contract stipulations.

Take Yao Ming for example. Yao competed in the 2008 Olympics only to see them lose to Lithuania. Yao, and his 2009 (15 million dollar) pay check, returned to Houston only to have another (possibly) career ending injury strike him down in the playoffs as the Rockets were looking to upset the Lakers.

Should the Rockets have a right to say “if I am paying you 14 million dollars I do not want you to wear any other uniform then our Rockets”?

I say yes. What do you say?

The NBA’s "Where Amazing Happens" – Song in it’s Entirety – Awesome!

Dwight Howard: All Time Great Center

Their is no doubt that Dwight Howard has arrived among the NBA’s elite players ahead of schedule.

Dwight is 23 years old and in his fifth season in the NBA.

After five seasons, Dwight has career averages of 17.3 points per game, 12.5 rebounds per game, 1.4 assists per game, 57% field goal percentage, and 60% from the foul line.

On Thursday evening his Orlando Magic will face the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.

Los Angeles, having a long history of Hall of Fame Centers, will have the unfamiliar task of putting together a strategy to guard arguably the league’s best.

Hanging above Staples Center are the jerseys of Los Angeles legends, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

How would Dwight fare against these two titan centers? We will never know.

As I have stated in the past, I do not like to make historical comparisons with current players. It’s not fair to the legend or the current player to make any comparisons until the player’s entire body of work can be examined.

In this article I have decided to explore the progression and growth of Abdul-Jabbar, Chamberlain and Howard through their first five seasons.

Wilt Chamberlain entered the NBA in 1959. Through five seasons Wilt averaged an astonishing 41.6 points per game, 25.2 Rebounds, 3.1 Assists, 50.6% from the field and 57.4% from the foul line.

In Wilt’s first five seasons he failed to reach the Finals. In his fifth season he failed to reach the playoffs. Chamberlain spent from 1968-1973 roaming the purple and gold paint in Los Angeles.

He won 2 NBA titles.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar entered the NBA as Lew Alcindor in 1969. Through five seasons Kareem averaged 30.5 points per game, 15.5 rebounds per game, 5.36 assists, 55% field goal percentage and 69% from the foul line.

In his first five seasons, Kareem reached the Finals twice and won the NBA Championship once.

Abdul-Jabbar wore a Lakers jersey from 1975 until retiring in 1989.

He won 6 NBA titles.

An interesting look at three generational of big men and how they impacted the game.

Dwight is ahead of schedule creating his legacy. He has the strength and foot speed of Wilt. He could dominate offensively or defensively at will.

He has the length, durability and basketball IQ of Kareem.

Seemingly possessing what is great about both legendary big men, Dwight seems to have an energetic approach to the game that neither possessed.

His light approach to the game and captivating smile makes basketball look as fun as it did when Magic Johnson played. That’s something the NBA has greatly missed.

Thanks for the Magic Dwight.

King SHAME: Lebron Let’s Down Teammates and Fans

It’s an unfortunate fact that two days after the Orlando Magic clinched their first Finals birth since 1995, they were once again overshadowed.

Today, the media once again focused it’s attention on LeBron James.

Despite some media figure accounts, it is well documented that the ‘great ones’, though obviously disappointed in defeat, never displayed poor sportsmanship.
That’s one of the qualities that made them great.
They understood their responsibility to their team. They acknowledged the respect owed to their opponents in defeat and they fulfilled their obligation to the fans that supported them throughout the season.
In the 1960’s Bill Russell and Wilt Chamerlain would secretly dine together before and often after games.
In the 1980’s Larry Bird and Magic Johnson always threw each other a respectful “fist pump” prior to tipoff and praised each other to the press core following games.
Magic and Isiah Thomas would go so far as to kiss before games and they never missed an amiable embrace following each contest.
After Cleveland’s game six loss to Orlando on Saturday, the only thing more ghastly then Dalante West ripping his jersey off on national television was LeBron James’ retreat into the locker room without even a glance toward the team that ended his season prematurely.

I am not suggesting that after game six LeBron and Dwight Howard should have followed Magic and Isiah’s pregame ritual. However, It was a bit disappointing to watch LeBron completely ignore his Olympic teammate.
It has been said repeatedly in the media that LeBron James has been the model NBA poster boy. Though I can agree that LeBron is wiser then his years, typically composed, calculated and well spoken with the media, his team’s routine “celebrations” have been well documented throughout their 66 win season.
The media often defended Cleveland’s festivities as great “camaraderie” between teammates. My argument continues to be that until you are holding the Larry O’Brien Trophy such pronounced celebrations at another teams expense is completely premature and will only come back to haunt you.
At points during the season, The Cavaliers only seemed to be spectators to their own generic ascendancy. So often we witnessed LeBron’s half time and post game analysis that was so in depth that it rivaled Doug Collins’ and Hubey Browns famed statistical breakdowns.
It’s obvious that once Kevin Garnett went down, King James and his Cavaliers never thought they would be anywhere but in the finals competing for the championship. The thought of losing never crossed their minds. Anything prior to playing the Lakers for the title was a formality.
The celebrations continued…
Today, as I glanced on youtube to re-visit such Cavaliers celebrations, I realized how idiotic they actually appeared.
Throughout the season, the Cavs displayed such a complete lack of humility through frequent taunting, emotional outbursts while winning. Such infamous Cavalier disclosures as the pre-game “photo shoot”, LeBron’s flexing and panting after big shots or dunks, and the blow out “dance off” and “air guitar sessions” at the Q have been described by opposing teams as unsportsmanlike behavior – sound familiar?
Though it was disappointing to see LeBron scurry to the locker room avoiding his opponents, it was not shocking. Let’s not forget, he played the same disappearing act, following his team’s game seven loss to Boston last season.
What was shocking was his absence from the post game press conference. Let’s face it, LeBron has never been camera shy.
It’s an unspoken responsibility for the leader of the team to address the media following victories and losses. Regardless of how frustrated he have may been, LeBron could have taken as much time as necessary to calm himself down. We know that the media would not have vacated the press room until James had arrived.
This responsibility is not only to the press that so favorably covered him throughout his career but also to his loyal fans.
It’s hard for me to swallow that LeBron would expect the media to flock to St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School (which, of course, they did) for him to be awarded his Most Valuable Player crown but then to have the nerve to not show up for a post game press conference because he was “frustrated” over his team’s elimination.
It has also been suggested that LeBron avoided the media to evade any questions about the dismantling of the current Cleveland Cavaliers roster. Though LeBron’s future would naturally have been a topic of the post game conference, it only fueled speculations today when he gave delinquent comments to the press in his typical New York Yankee’s hat.
Does LeBron want to be a New York Knick?
In what I believe to be a good decision, the NBA decided not to hammer James with any fines for dissing the post game press conference.
Like a true king, LeBron showed no remorse in his comments to the press today.
The Cleveland Cavaliers celebration has ended with no press conference, no title parade, and with more media questions then answers.

LEBRON IS THE 2009 NBA MVP – LET’S LEAVE "HISTORY" OUT OF THIS!

No one can deny that LeBron James is one of the most talented superstars in the NBA. No one should diminish the milestones he has achieved. 
At 24 years of age, LeBron has already been selected All-NBA (1st or 2nd team) and NBA All-Star every season since entering the league, he is a two time NBA All-Star game MVP and NBA rookie of the year. 

Now add to his achievements the 2009 NBA Most Valuable Player Award.

No one should deny that Lebron James will define this generation of NBA players but why does the NBA and sports media have to continually declare LeBron’s every move as historic

In my opinion, this denigrates all the legends that came before LeBron.

Lets take Michael Jordan for example. Jordan entered the league in the 1984-1985 season. Jordan won his first league MVP award in 1988 at the age of 25. By that time he was already an Olympic Gold Medalist, NBA Rookie of the Year, All NBA 1st team each year, Defensive Player of the Year (1988), selected All NBA Defensive First Team, selected NBA All-Star each season and the NBA All-Star game MVP (1988).

In 1988 Michael Jordan won the NBA League MVP, All-Star Game MVP and The NBA Defensive Player of the Year Awards. Now THAT is historic domination at the tender age of 25! The only thing that would be lacking from Jordan’s resume was an NBA title. 

As we all know, Jordan would win Championships – SIX titles to be exact!

Was Michael Jordan’s five regular season MVPs less historic then LeBron winning today? How about Kareem Abdul-Jabar’s six league trophies? 

Bird won the award three consecutive times, Magic won it twice consecutively. 

Combined, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan won the MVP award every season from 1984 thru 1992. Between them they won 14 NBA Titles.

Lets not forget the leagues original Historic rivals, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain…

Russell won the award 5 times (three consecutively), Chamberain was a 4 time league MVP (three consecutively). They won 13 titles between them.

Those six legends that so dearly define NBA History account for 26 league MVPs of the 53 trophies that were awarded since 1956. Abdul-Jabar, Chamberlain, Bird, Johnson, Jordan and Russell have won 50% of the leagues awarded MVP trophies and none of them have suited up since 2001. These are the true members of the leagues “Historic Club”.

LeBron, congrats on a well deserved Most Valuable Player Award but it looks like you have some catching up to do before entering this elite and “historic class”… 

Please put away your “imaginary camera” tonight and play some “Magical” basketball, Amaze us with your “Wilt-like” strength and “Bird-like” fundamentals, Make the SPECTACULAR plays like “Air-Jordan” and lead your team to a championship while taking home the only MVP award that really counts… “The Bill Russell Most Valuable Player Award”. Most importantly, Remind us of why we love this game. That’s what they did so well. That’s whythey are a part of our lives and that’s why they are a part of American Sports History