MLB, NBA

This Year in Sports: Year of Firsts

As 2016 winds down the time where we all reflect on the year the good the bad and what we can improve on in the years to come. There is one thing I think we can all agree on sports got back to being great again there was not a scandal that distracted us from the game being played! It once again became the great escape that we all need at one time or another every year.

The best part of this year and sports was the fact that championship starved teams and cities finally got to celebrate. The Chicago Cubs, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleer’s become the sports darlings of 2016, it was fun to see these teams finally break their long title droughts.

ap-cubs-win-world-series-jc-161103_12x5_1600The Chicago Cubs 

The longest sports drought in history was finally put to bed after 108 years the Chicago Cubs have reached the mountaintop as World Series champions. They did it in style coming back from a 3-1 deficit and being part of the most-watched baseball game and 25 years. It’s one of those sporting event you are going to remember exactly where you were when the Cubs broke the curse.

Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Joe Madden will probably have children named after them because they were able to band together and make a champion out of what was previously the laughingstock of baseball. It’s absolutely amazing the transformation this team underwent in such a short period of time to reach this point.

First of all, they were able to take advantage of multiple high draft picks when the selected this year’s MVP Kris Bryant’s second overall in the 2013 draft, Kyle Schwarber fourth overall in the 2014 draft. Schwarber remarkably came back from a torn ACL the third game of the season and became the biggest X factor of the World Series. He started the rally that ultimately claimed the World Series for the Cubs. Lastly, they selected second baseman Javier Baez ninth overall in the 2011 draft. He had multiple clutch hits and home runs not to mention his gold glove defense and tagging ability.

It’s one thing to get the high draft picks it’s another thing to pick the right guy and to say the least the Chicago Cubs have hit the jackpot on their last few selections. They have also orchestrated keen trades that have helped the team reach this point. The biggest trade was when they swindled second baseman Addison Russell away from the Oakland A’s in July 2014. Russell has turned into a young stud and a part of the young nucleus that Theo Epstein has pieced together.

To all the other rebuilding teams in baseball it will be smart to take a page from the Cubs playbook because 2016 looks like the beginning of a dynasty out in the Windy City. They are poised to become one and more annoying teams in baseball because of all the winning they are going to do for years to come!

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Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James fulfilled his promise to the city of Cleveland as they overcame 3-1 deficit against the record-breaking Gold State Warriors. This was a heck of a way to break through considering Cleveland professional sports hasn’t been celebrated since Jim Brown donned a Browns uniform that’s saying a lot.

The road to the championship was a bit tumultuous not just because they were the first team in NBA history to overcome 3-1 deficit as I said, but they also fired their head coach David Blatt midseason and had to implement an entire new offensive scheme that was much faster and it took time to get used to. They also played the majority of the season without All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, who was recovering from knee surgery.

It was a year full of obstacles, but lucky for they had Cleveland’s favorite son LeBron James to lead them to victory. He did everything and more averaging 27.1 points per game, 7.6 assists per game, and 9.5 rebounds per game. He put his team, the city, and his legacy on his back and brought that elusive title back to Cleveland.

This title could potentially open up the floodgates for Cleveland as they are once again the best team in the Eastern conference and last time I checked still have LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, who has quickly become a Golden State warrior killer, which bodes well for the team’s success in the future. This season title might have been the first since 1964, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re sick and tired of congratulating them in the near future because both the Cavaliers and Indians are poised for many playoff runs in the years to come.

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Coastal Carolina 

The championship  that came out of nowhere from the unlikeliest of places as Coastal Carolina shocked the college baseball world as they won their first championship in program history. It’s something all sports fans root for a magical Cinderella run that will be remembered forever and everyone on that team will be coastal Carolina royalty forever. They brought this small school a taste of glory that will last a lifetime.

This also proves that anything can happen as long as you get in the tournament Coastal Carolina entered the tournament as a fifth seed and a virtual afterthought. Despite that, they played their game and took advantage of every opportunity and misstep by their opponents and turned it into a national championship that will give hope to all small schools no matter what position they are in.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention head coach Gary Gilmore and his long journey with this university. Gilmore joined the coastal Carolina staff way back in 1979 and has held the head coaching position since 1996. I love these stories of passion and love Gilmore has shown to this university  and all the lives he touched and lesson he’s passed on during his tenure is worth  much more than this championship. That being said,it’s awesome to see Gilmore and his players experience a dream come true and reach  the mountaintop. I hope to see other small schools follow suit and crash the party in years to come.

Conclusion

This is what sports all about no one game no one season are the same anything can happen, underdogs rise, dynasties are born, and celebrations happen in unexpected places that is what 2016 has brought us. I hope that continues in the seasons to come because it just makes it a whole lot more fun to be a sports fan. Bring it on 2017!!!

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NBA

The Black Mamba goes out with a Bang

Last night was one of the most epic sports night in recent memory with the Golden State Warriors chasing history and Kobe Bryant’s final NBA game in his illustrious twenty-year career. For the first time in the better part of two years the Warriors were overshadowed by something else that happened on the hardwood. Kobe gave us one more performance to remember he scored 60 points on 22 of 50 shooting. A performance that sent the sports world into a frenzy! It’s one of those moments where fans will always remember where they were Kobe laced it up for the final time.

A Look Back

When Kobe Bryant said he would forgo college and take his talents to the NBA the journey to greatness began. I think this is the only thing I didn’t enjoy about Kobe Bryant’s career when he was drafted 13th overall to the Charlotte Hornets then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. One can only imagine what would’ve happened to the legend of Hornets basketball if that move was never made, but I digress it’s fun to dream.

He quickly became a Hollywood star transforming the Lakers organization once again. He helped the NBA transition from the tail end of Michael Jordan’s career to the Kobe era and realize they would be just fine. Bryant made basketball look effortless for the bulk of his career breaking countless records and breaking so many opponents hearts in the process. His career has given the new generation of NBA superstars’ goals to work towards and to remember what a champion’s mentality looked like.

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Legendary Career by the Numbers

• 5-Time Champion
• 2-time Finals MVP
• 3rd in the NBA in Points scored 33,643
• 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist
• 2nd most points scored in a single game 81

Another aspect of Bryant’s career that I love is he spent all 20 seasons in Los Angeles and never wavered. That is a rare feat in sports today because of the money and contracts being signed nowadays. I consider loyalty one of the best qualities in any athlete showing compassion and helping that organization reach the mountaintop; additionally helping lead when the team is not performing at its best. A trend that I hope continues in sports because they are just cool storylines to follow.

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Thank You

The Black Mamba might’ve bid farewell to the game basketball, but his impact will be felt forever. Everybody that watched Bryant throughout his career basketball or not can learn something from him. From his tenacious attitude when faced with adversity or his work ethic he brought every single day. Basketball will never be the same without the Black Mamba releasing his venom on opponents, but it was awesome to watch. Thank you for everything you did for the game of basketball and beyond.

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NBA, Uncategorized

Charlotte Hornets Newcomers paying big dividends early in 2015

The Charlotte Hornets are over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2013 season when they were 43-39. With the 25- point victory over the hopeless 76ers the Hornets are 8-6 to begin the 2015 season. It’s been the most entertaining basketball as seen in the Queen city since the buzz returned.

The Newcomers

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The front office and GM Rich Cho were busy this off-season trying to improve their bench and three point shooting. They were able to pull off some savvy trades to do just what they set out to. We were able to acquire Nicolas Batum, who sort of became a cast-off in Portland with their stars.

Batum has taken to his expanded role with the Hornets averaging 17.1 points per game, 3.8 assists and six rebounds a stat sheet stuffer thus far in 2015. I know it’s only 15 games into the season, but I think Portland regrets letting him go; the Hornets are benefiting greatly from this move. The Frenchman has been a great addition to this team providing great leadership as well he has been everything and more the Hornets wanted when they made this move.

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Another guy the team was able to acquire was Jeremy Lamb who had been determined the odd man out in Oklahoma City and boy I’m glad he was. Since becoming a hornet, he has given us a jolt of energy with his silky jumper and his ability to create at the offensive end of the floor.

He is averaging 12.5 points and 4.5 rebounds coming off the bench; proving the Hornets were right again in making this move. Lamb’s good play was rewarded with a three-year $21 million contract extension that it this point looks like a steal. The Hornets have done an amazing job finding great NBA talent that other teams have forgotten about.

 

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The team has also added Jeremy Lin and Spencer Hawes two guys that have also given us a shot in the arm coming off the bench with their ability to shoot threes and rebound. Jeremy Lin a great ability to create offense and allow Kemba Walker to play off the ball creating more offensive weapons on the floor much more than previous years. He is also putting up solid numbers averaging 11.8 points per game 3 assists and 2.8 rebounds helping the Hornets to one of the best benches in the league.

The newcomers have created a myriad of options for coach Steve Clifford to choose from if one lineup or another isn’t working. With Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson having a great cast around  taking the pressure off of  those guys  games to shine through it’s been fun to see.

The best part about this team is it’s a team effort every night and there’s always someone new making an impact on the game. The front office went into this off-season with a plan and it’s paying off big time. This season has a chance to be very special in the Queen City just like another team in the Carolinas this season!

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NBA

What we learned from game 1 of the NBA Finals

The NBA finals lived up to the hype  the Warriors were able to prevail  108- 100 in overtime.  This game was closely contested throughout  exactly what you want from the two best teams in the league and he played like it. I would compare it to a boxing match punches and counter punches thrown by each team fun to watch and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

For the Cavaliers

This was one of the most anticipated NBA seasons for the Cavaliers because their hometown hero Lebron James decided to come back home and try to give the city of Cleveland its first championship since 1964. That a ton of pressure for one man to take on, but he is the best player in the game right now and he looks to lead his young teammates to the promised land. in game one he was the MVP type of player and showed why he is the best player right now scoring 44 points and six assists a great performance that just wasn’t enough as he missed the potential game-winning shot at the end of regulation. Despite Lebron’s heroic effort the big story after game one is the health Kyrie Irving Who came into the series less than 100% with knee tendinitis with 2:02 left in the fourth quarter his knee buckled awkwardly causing him to have to leave the game and it was a shame because it looked like the eight days of rest did and some good as he was stuffing the stat sheet with 23 points,seven rebounds,and Six assists. No doubt Irving was missed because the Cavaliers were outscored 10 to 2 in the overtime they just couldn’t get anything to fall and looked kind of deflated after losing one of their best players.

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Today they learned the fate of their point guard he has a fractured kneecap and will miss approximately 3 to 4 months, maybe longer a deflating blow to not only the team, but the city of Cleveland. They say sports of the game of inches what if Lebron would’ve made the last shot or Shumpert would have gotten a better role we wouldn’t be talking about an injury and the Cavs hopes  wouldn’t be hanging on one man’s shoulders.

The big three now stands at one as Kevin love was injured earlier in this playoff run,  Lebron must be better than he has ever been to lead this team to the promised land I don’t know how you can do it but if I were to put my money on the one it would be the four-time MVP  and the two time champion to cary  this team to victory.

 For the Warriors

gettyimages-475919056_wide-1bdb8ec379051e5de9af4521d10a8886d3b89d4a-s900-c85This was a whole new experience for this team as last time the Warriors were in the finals, none of the current players were even alive when they last played for the championship, so as you can expect they had to shake off the early first-quarter jitters and get their feet wet. in that first quarter they couldn’t buy a basket causing them to have to come back from another double-digit deficit of 10 starting the second quarter no worries, however they are now 3-0 when trailing by double digits in this year’s playoffs. They were also able to use their home court advantage that they enjoyed all season, improving their record to an astounding 46-3.

The Warrior’s depth also played a huge role in the outcome of game one as Maurice Speights came back after eight games due to injury came up with a big eight points in just eight minutes off the bench that seemed to get the Warriors going. Another key player was Andre Iguodala, who is a 10 year veteran and this is the first year that he not he has not been a starter, but he has been a great addition to the Warriors and a big reason they are where they are right now. Iguodala had a very productive game scoring 15 points, grabbing five rebounds and dishing three assists that was a great recipe for success getting that much production off your bench in any game let alone the NBA finals.

I don’t see a weakness in the Warriors right now they have the youth the health and the splash brothers, it couldn’t be going better for them right now I honestly don’t feel the Cavs have much of a chance unless Lebron puts up a Herculean effort and something magical happens.

Conclusion 

The Cavaliers have an uphill climb to overcome all of the injuries, but I still think this will be a  fun series to watch with a splash  brothers in Stephen  Curry the MVP of the league and Klay Thompson his wing man and how Lebron is going to perform with even more pressure to carry the team.  I think  the Warriors are going to win the series, but Lebron will give his best shot no doubt.

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