Category Archives: NBA

The Return of Gordon Hayward?

By: Max Lewton

October 7, 2019

Max Lewton is a third-year undergraduate student from Cleveland, Ohio. He is currently studying Sport Management with a minor in Journalism at Bowling Green State University. His primary interests are basketball and football at both pro and collegiate levels, as well as baseball.

The 2017 NBA season opener between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics is one that we all remember vividly. Gordon Hayward went up to throw down an alley-oop dunk and came down hard on his left ankle, leaving a roar of gasps from the crowd. The gruesome injury occurred only minutes into the first quarter of Hayward’s Celtic debut and left the whole NBA in shock. Everyone saw how the injury affected Hayward last season. He seemed a step slower than everyone on the floor and just did not seem to have the same leaping ability as before. It was apparent that he was still suffering from the side-effects of the injury the year before. The former all-star is now coming into the 2019 season fully healthy and ready to show that he can still play at a high level.

Of course, Hayward will not be exactly the same kind of player that he used to be. An injury of that magnitude will surely effect his athleticism and speed. However, let’s not forget that prior to his injury he was averaging almost 22 points per game on 47% shooting from the field and almost 40% from behind the arc in 2017 (“Gordon Hayward Stats,” 2019). Gordon Hayward does not have to be a big bodied forward who takes it to the rack as long as he has good shooting percentages. In an article that appeared on Boston.com, Hayward comment on his improved shooting stroke  saying, “I feel like I’m shooting the ball really well, I’m still trying to figure out some of the timing and rhythm on pull-up and dribble jumpers. But I do feel a lot better shooting the ball—even better than I did before the injury” (DeCosta-Kilpa, 2018, para. 14). Hayward can transform himself into a threat from behind the arc, which if he can earn the defender’s respect from out there, he can start taking more people to the basket.

With the emergence of Jayson Tatum at small forward, Hayward will either be the sixth man off the bench or start as an undersized power forward. It really comes down to him finding his true role with the Celtics. Head coach Brad Stevens runs a great offensive system in Boston, and he will be able to find a good role for him. Honestly the level of Gordon Hayward’s play next year could be the deciding factor on whether Boston will actually compete. If he can play like he did with the Utah Jazz, then that is adding another all-star caliber player to Boston’s young and talented lineup. That could make them a legitimate threat to win the East and maybe even contend for an NBA title.

Hayward has the skill set and experience to bounce back and become a respectable player in the NBA once again. It has been two years now since the injury and even though he looked very slow on the floor last year, he will have at least some of the athleticism he once had back. With Boston having a few new faces in the starting lineup this year, Hayward will not only have to prove himself to the rest of the NBA, but to his teammates as well. Boston is a young team full of potential, if he can be that veteran leader to backup Kemba Walker then the team will flourish. Many NBA fans and others have already abandoned Hayward’s comeback, but I believe that he has still got a lot left in the tank.

References

DeCosta-Klipa, N. (2018, October 15). ‘I won’t be the same player’: How Gordon Hayward expects to be different post-injury. Boston.com. Retrieved from https://www.boston.com/sports/boston-celtics/2018/10/15/gordon-hayward-injury-return.

Gordon Hayward Stats. (2019.). Basketball Reference. Retrieved from https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/h/haywago01.html.

Social Media Discoveries Show a Different Story Between Westbrook and Jazz Fans

By David Dietrich

March 15, 2019

On Monday, the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Utah Jazz, 98-89. While the showdown between the potential playoff teams was a subject of discussion this week, it was not because of what happened on the court. A video surfaced that showed Thunder guard Russell Westbrook threatening two fans, with very strong language being used. The video can be found below, but there is inappropriate language used throughout.

When asked about his actions, Westbrook defended himself, telling reporters the fan made racially charged comments. “If I had to do it again, I would say the same exact thing, because I truly will stand up for myself, for my family, for my kids, for my wife, for my mom, for my dad every single time” (MacMahon, 2019, para. 5). Westbrook and the fan, Shane Kiesel, had conflicting stories about what was said. Westbrook claimed he was told to “get down on your knees,” (MacMahon, 2019, para. 3) but Kiesel told the media he was yelling “ice those knees,” (MacMahon, 2019, para. 6).

After the game, some of Westbrook’s teammates and opponents came to his defense, saying they heard the offensive comments and wanted to know how they were being protected as players. Westbrook and Jazz fans are no strangers to controversy, with Westbrook being criticized last year for slapping at a fan’s phone after a playoff game. It appeared this event would take the same path, with Westbrook receiving a $25,000 fine from the NBA. However, the discovery of Shane Kiesel’s social media posts completely changed the situation.

Because of the strong content, I will not be sharing links to the posts by Kiesel. I will leave it at this: racial slurs, offensive comments, and blatant disrespect are evident throughout. With this discovery, many came to the defense of Westbrook, such as USA Today’s Nate Scott (2019), who writes “The point guard screaming at the fan isn’t just an immature malcontent, especially when the fan allegedly said something horrible and has a history that appears to show extremely racist and violent thinking” (para. 13). Scott also mentions this is “one of those instances where I am glad we have the internet. Fifteen years ago, we would have labeled Russell Westbrook a problem or worse for what he yelled at a fan on Monday night. Today, we can (more quickly and easily) learn about the fan, and begin to understand and empathize with, if not exactly condone, what Westbrook did” (para. 6).

While Russell Westbrook’s comments were very inappropriate, they were nowhere near the level of offensiveness that Kiesel portrayed on social media. Like Nate Scott mentioned, this is a circumstance that was sorted out largely because of social media. Today, social media, especially Twitter, can be a blessing and a curse. With little to no context, we saw a video of an NBA star yelling profanities at a married couple. It is very easy to make assumptions based on this single video, but we are fortunate more information was brought to light. With news being spread as quickly as possible on social media, it is difficult to see the entire scope of every situation. Thankfully, media members in Utah and Oklahoma City were able to investigate the entirety of the situation. Because of their work, we are now aware that the video portrays NBA star Russell Westbrook standing up for himself against Shane Kiesel, a very racist spectator.

Note: The picture below is a screenshot of a statement from the Utah Jazz, which permanently banned Shane Kiesel from attending any events held in the Vivant Smart Home Arena.

Jazz statement

References

MacMahon, T. (2019, March 12). Russell Westbrook threatens courtside fan, fan’s wife. ESPN.com. Retrieved from http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/26234619/westbrook-threatens-courtside-fan-fan-wife

Scott, N. (2019, March 12). Russell Westbrook threatened a Jazz fan, but then we learned about the fan. USAToday.com. Retrieved from https://ftw.usatoday.com/2019/03/russell-westbrook-jazz?utm_source=ftw&utm_medium=recirc&utm_campaign=rail-most-popular

utahjazz. (2019, March 12). A Statement from the Utah Jazz. Twitter.com. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/utahjazz/status/1105570407598321664

Woodyard, E. (2019, March 11). Things get heated between Russell Westbrook and Jazz fans again. Twitter.com. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/E_Woodyard/status/1105297381384368128

Talks of Change Immediate in Wake of Zion Injury

By Drew Gallagher

February 23, 2019

Drew Gallagher is a first-year undergraduate student at Bowling Green State University. He is planning to major in Sport Management with a minor in General Business. Drew is a proud native of Aurora, Illinois and is interested in many sports, but focuses primarily on baseball and football at the professional and collegiate levels.

On Wednesday, February 20th, the greatest rivalry in college basketball resumed and there was a lot of promotion put into the game. Less than a half-minute into it though, all that excitement was changed to dread for most Duke and NBA fans. As you probably already know, Duke star Zion Williamson suffered a knee injury that could have very well ended his season and maybe even his seemingly locked position as the number one overall pick in the upcoming draft. Being that Williamson is arguably the most hyped basketball prospect since LeBron James, you can imagine the thoughts going through everyone from basketball fans to NBA executives’ heads after it happened. Luckily for Zion, the injury is now “being labeled as a mild knee sprain” (Walton, 2019, para 3).

If you’re like me – constantly watching sports talk shows and reading sports articles – you noticed a common theme the day after the injury. Analysts seemed to flip-flop between the implications of the injury for Duke and a potential rule change by the NBA. This would include the eligible age to declare for the NBA draft changing back to 18. This would eliminate the “one-and-done” rule given that prospects could declare directly out of high school. The rationale of most analysts was mainly about a player possibly losing out on money if they sustain a career ending/hurting injury in college when it could have been avoided by being in the NBA already.

This talk was of course to be expected after a player of Zion’s ability had a possible career ending injury. It felt like the national media was just waiting for something like this to happen so that they could criticize the NBA for making players go to school for just one year. I find it interesting that they would wait like that because if it was truly as urgent as they all claimed it to be on Thursday, then it would’ve been just as urgent before the injury ever occurred. And yet, talk about a possible rule change only happened occasionally before. Granted, one may argue that since Williamson is as good as he is, the injury finally woke these people up and cemented the idea in their minds.

The media’s continual coverage helped lead the NBA to propose lowering the eligible draft age only a day later. This would be the first step towards changing the rule back to what it once was in the early 2000s. According to Goldberg, “the timing is reportedly coincidental” coming the day after the injury (Goldberg, para 3). I do find it very hard to believe that the injury just happened to occur the day before they planned to report this. The NBA would need to most likely wait to change this rule for good until the new CBA is agreed upon sometime within the next five years.

I do find it very interesting that this sort of talk has been reserved to the basketball ranks and has yet to make it into college football yet. This is surprising when you think about the risk of injury being much more prevalent in the sport of football than basketball. I did hear the occasional discussion about it when Nick Bosa decided to sit out for the rest of his season at Ohio State after an injury, but this talk was nothing compared to the media storm caused by Williamson’s injury.

It was apparent to any sports fan this week that Williamson’s injury caused a huge stir within the sporting community. We will see if the national media keeps arguing for the case of a rule change in the coming months leading up to the draft. My guess is that this talk will not cool down much until then.

 

References

Goldberg, R. (2019, February 21). NBA proposes lowering eligible draft age to 18 after Zion Williamson knee injury. Bleacher Report. Retrieved from https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2821830-nba-proposes-lowering-eligible-draft-age-to-18-after-zion-williamson-knee-injury

Walton, M. (2019, February 21). Zion Williamson injury updated to Grade 1 right knee sprain. NBC Sports Chicago. Retrieved from https://www.nbcsports.com/chicago/bulls/zion-williamson-injury-updated-grade-1-right-knee-sprain

The Spurs Team Doctors Will See You Now

By Bre Moorer

Bre Moorer is now a graduate student at Bowling Green State University, where she is studying Kinesiology with a specialization in Sport Psychology.  She is originally from Akron, Ohio, about forty miles south of Lake Erie.  Her primary sport interest is basketball – at the amateur and professional levels.

Former Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (below right) is now a Toronto Raptor.  The 2019 NBA free agency run this summer was rocky for the California native.  For the 2017-18 season, Leonard played fewer than 10 games due to an injury that team doctors in San Antonio missed.  At least that is what the reason was early on.

An injury to Leonard’s right thigh kept him out of 2017-18 preseason play, the season-opener, and the first 2 months of NBA action.  It should be known that Leonard was a major part of the San Antonio Spurs organization.  The former San Diego State standout lead the Spurs to their fifth championship in 2014, in addition to winning NBA Finals’ MVP for his outstanding performance.  How did he only play 9 games last season?  Shortly after his limited-minute comeback against the Dallas Mavericks in December, Leonard felt that he was being rushed back.

Leonard is known for his quiet and private personality, but fans could tell he did not feel confident playing yet.  Sometimes Leonard suited up, but most of the time he took a night or two off.  Leonard took it upon himself to travel to New York to get a second opinion on his injury.  He felt like he should have been 100% by then.  NBA analysts wondered why he would embarrass the Spurs staff by refusing the services offered to him for free and in his own backyard.  Leonard was portrayed by the media as bratty and just another professional athlete who was not patient enough after an injury. Sports reporter and well-known Spurs fan Michelle Beadle said Leonard did not have the qualities that a leader is supposed to have.  She even went as far as saying that he is coming off as an “obnoxious diva.”  Leonard took verbal beat-downs from fans, journalists, and social media for not playing and refusing to work with the Spurs team doctor.  Of course, the reserved NBA All-Star did not publicly defend himself, but his decisions would become clear to critics after teammate Danny Green told all.

Just like Leonard, Danny Green (above left) was traded from the Spurs to the Toronto Raptors this summer.  Seemingly before the ink could dry on his Toronto contract, Green said that his end-of-the-season physical examination revealed a torn groin that went undetected by Spurs staff, which lead to Green getting a second opinion while he was still a Spur.  Maybe it is because of the difference in personalities or the fact that Green still managed to play through his injury, but the general public was not as hard on Green for going elsewhere for treatment.  His Twitter mentions were filled with users that claimed getting another opinion on injuries is very common.  It was even discussed on ESPN that Green’s undetected injury may let Leonard’s actions off the hook.  In other words, now that Danny Green had a problem with the Spurs staff, we can believe Kawhi Leonard.

However you look at it, there is an issue that needs to be fixed in San Antonio.  It could be negligence or innocent lack of knowledge, but it is costing players their reputations, health, and market value.

What in The World Was The NBA Thinking?

By Don Collins

Over the weekend, the NBA was buzzing in popular culture. The stars were all out to commemorate the league’s All Star weekend in Los Angeles. Among the festivities, the players and the league organized a video wishing the many NBA fans in China a Happy New Year.

The video montage featured many different NBA players sending their well wishes with some even showing off their linguistic skills by trying out some Chinese phrases. A well-intended gesture until a segment of the video began making the rounds on the internet. The portion that has caused so much controversy includes Philadelphia 76er JJ Redick uttering what appears to be a racial slur.

Watching the outrage that ensued has been for me a calculated effort. One thing I have begun to do whenever anything happens, good or bad, is to let all the facts trickle out and then make a decision instead of rushing to conclusions. I watched the video and, after a few days, reached this conclusion: this is unacceptable, but my outrage does not start with Redick.

I do not know him personally, but everything I have gathered about him during his career is that he seems to be a good person. I believe he made a mistake while trying to say his message. As someone who is beginning to spend more and more time on the air waves, I am learning sometimes you can say something too fast for your brain to process. This is doubly true in a situation where everyone involved is probably on a tighter schedule. His apology, a gesture that nowadays feels more obligatory than genuine, offered an explanation that was consistent with the thinking that he was trying to say too much in one sentence.

My issue with the whole thing is that no one caught this. How can a league that has billions of dollars at their disposal, not catch this in the editing process? Especially when they care so much about the growth of the brand in China. While I do not think JJ Redick is racist toward Chinese people, it was still a slur. I understand if some fans overseas do not ever root for him again or tune out 76ers games.

My hope is that all parties learn from this. American history has taught us more about the immediate people in our country. Had Redick said the n-word, accidental or not, it would almost surely be edited out of an official NBA release. While this incident is an ugly look for the NBA, it can be used as a teachable lesson. Do your due diligence. The time it would have taken for Redick to slow down or even re-record his message could have also been the amount of time needed to edit the video.

LeBron’s Social Media shouldn’t be Media…

By Nate Flax

For the last week or so, the sports world has paid extra close attention to future Hall of Famer, LeBron James. While it’s no surprise that James is once again in the spotlight, the reasoning behind his recent hype is quite frankly ridiculous. After a blowout win against the Denver Nuggets, a reporter, seemingly against all his journalistic instincts, asked LeBron why he had unfollowed the Cleveland Cavaliers’ twitter page to which James replied with a very blunt “Next question.” The brief interview immediately went viral, being broken down by blogs, twitter, and just about every show featured on ESPN. Sure, James’ reaction could have been better and more polite, but did it really deserve a00week-long critique?

Since the infamous decision to return to Cleveland after abandoning the team for the Miami Heat, things have not gone as planned for James and the Cavaliers. His glorified return was spoiled by a loss in the NBA finals to the Golden State Warriors, and the team can’t seem to avoid locker room drama. The twitter fiasco only added to a long line of recent off the court problems for the Cavs, as well as more rumors of another LeBron James departure from Cleveland. James shrugged off the unfollow as simple preparation for the playoffs, an understandable mindset for a man who has made it a mission to bring a championship to his hometown.

It was not as if preparing for the playoffs was not already on James’ mind. A new entrance song as well as a cut down on all social medias were already announced as part of his plans to get set for the postseason. Even if the unfollow spree the superstar went on that week was not about prepping for the post season, it doesn’t really matter who he follows. As Sporting New’s Jordan Greer put it, “LeBron follows Victor Cruz, so is he going to play for the Giants? He also follows Bun B. Time to start that rap career. Or maybe James doesn’t need to follow the Cavs on Twitter because, you know, he’s physically there with his squad. It’s not necessary to receive your news and updates online when you can just say “Hey, Kyrie, are you going to play tonight?”

Though the Cavs are probably the lone bright spot in Cleveland sports, its ridiculous to blow such a minor, non-basketball issue, into a week-long drama show. Let the man do his job and be the brilliant basketball player he is without over analyzing every off the court action he makes and appreciate the greatness without creating a story where there isn’t one.

The Dunk Contest is Alive and Well

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

The participants in the 2016 NBA Dunk Contest included, Denver Nuggets SG Will Barton, Pistons Center Andre Drummond, Orlando Magic PF Aaron Gordon, and defending champion Zach LaVine. The contest kicked off with Barton and Drummond scoring sub-par scores which left fans wondering if this would be another lackluster event. But then the event changed course when Gordon threw down a between-the-legs reverse dunk, this got the crowd going. LaVine answered with a behind-the-back reverse slam, scoring a whopping 50 from the scorer’s table. After this, it was obvious that the contest would be decided between these two heavyweights. Back and forth they went, one spectacular slam-dunk after another. LaVine’s success came from his multiple slams after leaping from the free-throw line and Gordon’s highlight of the night was when he executed a between-the-legs over the mascot dunk which many are claiming one of the greatest dunks ever performed in the history of the Dunk Contest. The two high-flyers ended the night in a dunk-off which eventually saw Zach LaVine walk away with the hardware for the second straight year. This contest provided the entertainment and fun that fans and media had been hungry to see, from the variety of crazy slams to the reactions of LaVine’s teammates and competitors.

The media held this dunk contest in high regards along with the fans. Stephen A. on first take went so far as to say, “To me the Slam-Dunk Contest was resurrected Saturday night.” He also went on to give his opinion on how he thought Aaron Gordon should have won and how Shaq dishing out low scores played a pivotal part in raising the bar to contestants so they would give a great performance. There were also multiple media personnel that compared the showdown of LaVine and Gordon to Dunk-Contest greats Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins. This is the quite comparison and just demonstrates how these players have brought the event back to the forefront of All-Star weekend entertainment.

In my opinion, this contest certainly was entertaining and may have changed many people’s outlook on the competition. I thought even the 2015 dunk contest took a huge step forward in drawing in viewers and causing a buzz around the league as well as the twitter-sphere. We can only hope as fans and as media that the Dunk Contests to follow will be as entertaining as this one.