Category Archives: NBA

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.

Effects that tanking has on media and fans

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

Recently, the issue of “tanking” was brought up at the latest Major League Baseball owner’s meetings. Tanking is described as teams intentionally being bad in hopes of landing a high draft pick and trading away veteran talent to acquire young prospects to build a better future. These teams that are reportedly tanking much prefer the term, “rebuilding.” Although no steps have been taken to prevent tanking in the future, it is good to know that it has crossed these owner’s minds that it is a problem that needs to be fixed.

The blueprint that teams currently tanking are trying to follow is that of the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros. The Cubs had not made the playoffs since 2008 and until this past year they were known as one of the worst teams in the National League. As recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 games, and suddenly in 2015 they go 97-65; how is this possible? From those years of being terrible they managed to draft the 2015 Rookie of the year, Kris Bryant, with the second overall pick in the 2013 draft and Kyle Schwarber with the fourth overall pick in 2014. The rebuild was also helped by a couple key trades including the one that landed them Anthony Rizzo, but in just a couple years the Cubs had revamped their entire roster and are now recognized as a contender and have turned into a free agent hot spot. After signing such stars as Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist, the Chicago Cubs are scary good.

The Astros may not be on the level of the Cubs yet but they have certainly had success with their tanking as well by making the playoffs in 2015. They certainly have a bright future though, by having the 2015 AL Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa, 2011 first round pick George Springer, and emerging superstar Dallas Kuechel. Prior to this season the Astros were seen as the very worst team in baseball and were seemingly content with staying that way with the lowest payroll in baseball in 2013 at a whopping $26 million. By contrast, Alex Rodriguez was making more than the entire Houston Astros team. They have been able to stockpile young talent and trade some of those pieces to acquire proven stars as well. They will be a playoff contender as well in 2016.

A team currently in the midst of tanking are the Cincinnati Reds. This offseason, fans saw their All-star third baseman, Todd Frazier, get traded to the White Sox for a handful of prospects and Aroldis Chapman be shipped off to the Yankees for a bunch of unproven young players. It seemed like after the All-star break, the Cincinnati front office decided to call it quits and tried to give the young players a chance to gain some experience before they geared up for a long rebuild process and this did not make fans or media happy. After sporting a starting rotation of almost all rookies for most of the season, the Reds finished the season 64-98 and earned the second overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft.

It is a dark time for Cincinnati fans and media. With the only proven players on their roster being Joey Votto and Homer Bailey, fans know they don’t have much to look forward to in 2016 or even 2017. The same goes for the media, it is difficult to cover a team that is intentionally running themselves into the ground. Maybe in the next couple years they will be able to draft well enough to put a contender on the field for 2018 though. In this day and age, tanking is a viable strategy because at least you will get a good draft pick that will contribute to the rebuild, instead of being somewhere in the middle and not getting good enough draft picks to get the team over the hump and into the playoffs. Media members in Cincinnati are not as ferocious as they are in let’s say New York, but certainly they will give their thoughts on the tanking strategy and it’s almost inevitable that some of them will voice their frustration and call for the GM’s head. The media has to be patient as well, the Reds will point at the Cubs and say they will be on that level in the next couple years; it is just a matter of time. It will be interesting to see what the Reds do with Joey Votto and his massive contract; will they look to him as an important part of their rebuild and hope he can help younger players develop or will they send him packing as well and hope to grab some good young players?

The one example of tanking that teams in other sports do not want to follow is the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers have not made the playoffs since the 2011-2012 and since then have drafted and traded Rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams and in back to back years their number one draft pick missed the entire season. Finally it seems like they have drafted a top tier talent in Jahlil Okafor but they still have an absolutely embarrassing record of 8-43. Philadelphia media have been patient these past couple years but lately there have been grumblings that media and fans are done waiting and expect General Manager Sam Hinkie to start adding to the roster and surround young prospects Nerlens Noel and Okafor with some nice complementary players and end the embarrassment.

Hopefully in the next couple years the Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia 76ers will be done with tanking and put out a product on the floor that will make the fans and media happy.

Porzingis: Is the hype real?

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

In the weeks leading up to the NBA draft lottery, Phil Jackson, the president of basketball operations for the New York Knicks, kept a close eye on the three best prospects. He attended Kentucky’s practice to see Karl-Anthony Towns, then stopped by at Madison Square Garden for a St. Johns-Duke game to scout Jahlil Okafor, and attended the Ohio State-Nebraska game to observe D’Angelo Russell. With a record of 17-65, the New York Knicks had a great chance at landing the number one overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. Unfortunately the ping-pong balls did not fall their way, first pick went to the Minnesota Timberwolves, second went to the Los Angeles Lakers, and third went to the Philadelphia 76ers. How is that possible? How did the Knicks drop out of the top three? Finally at number four the New York Knicks name was called. Phil Jackson and Knicks fans alike were disappointed with landing the number four spot but still had hope that one of the top three prospects could fall to four.

Fast forward to the NBA draft, the solid depth of the draft opposed to recent years gave NY fans hope they could still find a superstar at the fourth pick. The draft begins with the Timberwolves predictably taking Karl-Anthony Towns. Next, the Lakers take D’Angelo Russell, and that was a bit crushing to fans and of course Phil Jackson because he was very public about how highly he thought of him, “He’s a great-looking kid,” said Jackson. Then the crushing blow to Knicks fans was when the 76ers selected Jahlil Okafor. The top three were gone, who is Phil going to pick? “With the fourth pick in 2015 NBA draft, The New York Knicks select Kristaps Porzingis,” announced commissioner Adam Silver. The arena filled with boos and the camera even caught a young Knicks’ fan crying. Everyone was baffled at the pick because no one even knew who this guy was.

Leading up to the season teammates and coaches were raving about Porzingis and his incredible athletic ability, but NY fans were not convinced, they had to see it with their own eyes. In the regular season opener against the Milwaukee Bucks, Porzingis dropped sixteen points including a three, grabbed five rebounds, and had a block. Now fans were paying attention, the 7-3 power forward had made a great first impression with the city of New York. This was the first of many great performances which led to Porzingis being named rookie of the month in November. The highlights of the first month  with a twenty-nine point and eleven rebound game against Charlotte and a game against Houston where he had twenty-four points, fourteen rebounds, and seven blocks.

After his insane first month, Kristaps Porzingis had become a sensation in New York. Much like the short-lived Linsanity that swept through Knicks fans, they were honoring Porzingis like a god, even with some giving him the nickname “Porzingod” or “Godzingis”. Night after night he made spectacular plays, most notably his put-back dunks over players and his use of the post move we know as the “Dream Shake.”  Everyone knows how New York media can hype something up, and that was exactly what was happening to Porzingis. First they booed him and ridiculed Phil Jackson for picking him and now all of a sudden they were praising him and foresee him as the savior for the New York Knicks. Number six jerseys were flying off the shelves, he was a fan favorite and his goofy personality made him a favorite of the press as well.

Now the media focuses on Porzingis more than they focus on the former superstar and savior, Carmelo Anthony. Remember that kid who cried when the Knicks drafted Porzingis? Yeah, they met and the kid ended up getting an autograph and apologizing. It is rare to find a story about the Knicks that doesn’t mention Porzingis now.

But is the hype about him real? I think so. After collecting his third consecutive Rookie of the Month award, helping the Knicks surpass their entire win total of last year before the All-star break, drawing raves about him from superstars such as Tim Duncan and Kevin Durant, and posting a line of 14 points/7.7 rebounds/1.9 blocks. It is fair to say that this is not the same case as with Jeremy Lin where the media got overly excited and talked about him being a future superstar and face of the franchise after one month and then he ended up falling off the NBA radar for a while. Porzingis has continued to display consistency, maturity, and improvement over the NBA season and may have the highest upside out of any rookie with his size, athletic ability, and basketball IQ. Although he’s not an All-star and might not even be the Rookie of the Year thanks to the stellar season that Towns is having, New York has found a player to build around for the future with Carmelo Anthony for sure.

Kyrie Irving Faces Biggest Challenge in Basketball Career

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By Matt Stevenson

May 1, 2015

Last Sunday the Cleveland Cavaliers swept the Boston Celtics and knocked them out of the playoffs in Game 4 of the series. A great first playoff series win for this young Cavaliers squad, but it came with a major repercussion.

Kevin Love left the game in the first quarter and it was scary. Not knowing what specifically happened at first glimpse, the live broadcast shows Cavaliers Forward Kevin Love getting tangled up with Celtics Kelly Olynyk while scrambling for the ball. Immediately after, Love sprinted right to the locker room without stopping to talk to anyone. After several replays, it was clear his shoulder was indeed dislocated.

A debate on whether it was intentional or not has taken the social media world by storm. The game itself was incredibly physical with technicals and ejections being issued.

Cavaliers Center, Kendrick Perkins, set a hard screen on Celtics Forward, Jae Crowder, that sparked some shoving and much trash talking. However, later in the game Crowder and Cavs Guard J.R. Smith got into it while positioning themselves for a rebound.

The video shows Crowder shoving Smith pretty hard (definitely foul-worthy). J.R. Smith retaliated though by flailing his arm, with a closed fist, and connected with Jae Crowder… right in his face.

Accidental? Maybe. Suspension? Definitely. How long? Nobody knows.

So Kevin Love is reportedly out for the rest of the playoffs. J.R. Smith is for sure getting suspended and it could potentially be a few games. After sweeping the Celtics on Sunday, we wait for the Bulls as they look to close out their series with the Bucks.

This means the Cleveland Cavaliers are without two of their starters and the two other members on the team, besides LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, that can be consistently relied upon to create their own shot. This takes away a huge element of the Cavs game as they rely heavily on Love and Smith to hit 3’s and space the floor.

This may be one of LeBron’s biggest challenges in his career, without a doubt. But I think this focus’ more on Kyrie Irving.

Kyrie Irving will be expected to score a lot, as LeBron will be busy defending the variety of players Chicago has such as Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic, Taj Gibson, and Mike Dunleavy.

Two other key players for this series that must step up to win are Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert. Defensively they need to show up, but offensively Shumpert needs to hit perimeter shots and Thompson needs to continue his offensive rebounding giving Cleveland second chance points.

Is Kyrie Irving ready to accept the challenge and put the stamp on the “Superstar” label? This series will indeed determine that as he faces a Bulls team which is finally healthy and has been labeled as the Cavaliers only threat all year in the Eastern Conference, WITH Kevin Love and J.R. Smith.

This Round 2 series of the NBA Playoffs between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls will be the first big test of Kyrie Irving’s young career. Is he ready? We’ll find out this weekend. GO CAVS!