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The Portland Trail Blazers would close out the 2012-13 season on a 13 game losing streak. However, the faithful Portland fans would have something to cheer for heading into the next season in current Rookie of the Year award winner Damian Lillard. With a 2-2 start to the 2013-14 campaign, head coach Terry Stotts has the Trail Blazers currently on an eight game winning streak as they sit atop of the Northwest Division. With early season success, Portland will be a part of the shuffle of Western Conference teams scrambling to make the postseason.
The performance, thus far, from the Trail Blazers start with Lillard has been nothing less than spectacular. Avoiding what is known as the “Sophomore Slump”, he is averaging 20 points per game while grabbing 4.5 rebounds and 6.1 assists.
Portland is also receiving production from familiar faces in LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, and Nicholas Batum as they have raised their game to a higher level. The addition of veteran Mo Williams has added stability off the bench. With players such as Robin Lopez and Thomas Robinson putting on their hard hats, doing the little things goes a long ways during a game. Not to mention we await the debut of the 10th overall pick CJ McCollum who is sidelined with a foot injury. Portland is hoping he provides offensive balance to the team.
It is unknown what the future holds for the Trail Blazers as the season begins to unfold. Having the 3rd best overall record in the league behind the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs, the Trail Blazers have an opportunity to catapult to the top of the West with early season success. Remaining healthy and consistent on the court will be the focal point of this team as they strive to reach the postseason in the wild wild Western Conference.
During the 1994-1995 NBA season, Michael Jordan returned to the association after retiring following the 1992-93 season in order to pursue a baseball career. Wearing number 45, Jordan would continue to harass his hated rivals, the New York Knicks.
The game before Jordan would face the Knicks again, he sank the winning shot against the Atlanta Hawks, a positive harbinger of things to come. In just his fifth game back from retirement, Jordan put on a show for the Madison Square Garden faithful letting everyone know that he was back. In the game, Jordan erupted for an NBA season high 55 points. Displaying masterful ball handling and scoring at will, Jordan finished the game shooting 21-37 from the field and 10-11 from the free throw line.
Despite Jordan’s domination, the Bull needed a last minute bucket from center, Bill Wennington to clinch the 113-111 victory coming on the assist from Jordan. He would finish the last 17 games of the 94-95 season averaging 26.9 points per game, 7 rebounds and 5 assists leading Chicago to the Eastern Conference finals where they fell short of returning to the NBA finals.
History would repeat itself when Jordan would silence critics the next season by winning his fourth MVP and leading the Bulls to their fourth championship of the 90’s era defeating the Seattle Supersonics.
The start to the NBA season gives us an outlook on whats to come throughout this year. We have the opportunity to see familiar faces in new places with players and coaches for teams with aspirations of improving their success from the previous season. With that being said, here are your top five most disappointing teams thus far in the early part of the season.
5. Denver Nuggets
By not retaining the most recent recipient of the Coach of the Year award in George Karl, the Denver Nuggets decided to move forward by bringing in first season head coach Brian Shaw. Denver is more than capable of scoring the ball in bunches with Ty Lawson to lead the way as they are without Danilo Gallinari. Denver has had a slow start to their season as they opened the season with a three game losing streak and have lost big man Javale McGee who is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his lower leg. The challenge for Shaw this season is to get his players on the court to commit on the defensive side of the ball.
4. Memphis Grizzlies
The Memphis Grizzlies achieved historic franchise success last season by reaching the Western Conference Finals. This previous offseason, Memphis decided not to bring back head coach Lionel Hollins, instead choosing to go with assistant coach David Joerger. The Grizzlies remained subtle during free agency while we witnessed a west coast shuffle. With free agents coming and going, Memphis only decided to bring in sharp shooter Mike Miller to spread the floor with perimeter shooting and stretch out defenses. Memphis is off to 4-5 start in the 2013-14 campaign under Joerger that has many questioning if they can repeat the success of last season.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers impressed many this offseason with the return of head coach Mike Brown and free agent acquisitions headlined by the signing of Andrew Bynum and Jarrett Jack as pieces to fit the puzzle of the supporting cast for Kyrie Irving. With a record of 4-7, things are not going well for Cleveland as recently there was a report of a confrontational meeting between players. It is a long season, so this team has an opportunity to turn matters around and get on the right track.
Many can make the argument that the Brooklyn Nets had the best offseason by adding Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to add to the roster of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. With the addition of newly retired and first year head coach Jason Kidd, the Nets look to have the best roster on paper to compete in the Eastern Conference. Instead, the new look team has done nothing that has impressed anybody. Injuries and age being problems to Brooklyn only presents Kidd with an uphill battle while overcoming a 3-6 start.
1. New York Knicks
After winning the Atlantic Division last season, many assume the New York Knicks can continue to progress in the Eastern Conference. However, many questioned the offseason moves made by New York after acquiring the former No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani via trade. Bargnani adds to an already crowded frontcourt that contains Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Kenyon Martin. With a horrific 3-6 start to the season, the big apple has become rotten. A consistency of effort becomes the main problem for New York which can lead to head coach Mike Woodson’s job being in jeopardy. It can also lead to the departure of Carmelo Anthony out of New York.
The Golden State Warriors shocked many people around the NBA last season. Making their first playoff appearance since 2006-2007 season, Golden State defeated the Denver Nuggets in the first round before being eliminated by the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals. Heading into a new season, the Warriors have came to play and have shown signs that they are here to stay.
Beginning with the starting backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson also known as the “Splash Brothers” , the Warriors have formed arguably the best scoring backcourt in the league as they combine for an average of 40 points per game. With the offseason acquisition of All-Star and Olympic gold medalist, Andre Iguodala makes this team more versatile. This adds to the arsenal of weapons head coach Mark Jackson who can choose between Harrison Barnes, David Lee, and Andrew Bogut.
Mark Jackson has came into this organization bringing a defensive state of mind to a team that can score the basketball in many different aspects. Since coming to the team, Golden State has improved in opponent points from 28th in his debut season to being in the top 10 this season only allowing 98.2 points a contest. With former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Bogut being the anchor of the defense, it makes them a strong contender to represent the Western Conference for the NBA Finals.
The main concern for the Warriors will be the health of key players this season. It will be a difficult task for them to compete at the highest level for a championship with Curry who has a history of ankle injuries and Bogut who has a series of gruesome of injuries that has ended his season before.
The Golden State Warriors are the real deal with something to prove amongst the leagues best teams by any means necessary.
We have come to a point in the sports calendar where a motion picture can not be scripted this well. Where NBA executives salivate over talent that is being showcased at the amateur level, almost to the point where tanking becomes an option to obtain the future franchise player. While over time, we find our cinderella that matches the lost glass slipper that fits perfect. Welcome, to the 2013-2014 Men’s College Basketball season.
You can take a spin at the wheel for teams to watch this season that is headlined by an incredible freshman class featuring Andrew Wiggns of the Kansas Jayhawks, Jabari Parker representing Duke Blue Devils, and Julius Randle headlining the Kentucky Wildcats recruiting class that consists of 6 players ranked in the ESPN 100. The freshmen class of 2014 for Men’s College Basketball has fans and NBA GMs excited about what this season has in store.
However, the freshmen phenoms that are playing for their premier schools are facing the challenge of teams with veteran leadership of teams such as: the defending champions Louisville Cardinals, Michigan State, and Ohio State who primarily have backcourt leadership as an asset. In addition, the Creighton Blue Jays are being led by Preseason All -American Forward Doug McDermott. We have seen, late in the season, that talent is not equivalent to experience that takes place in clutch situations.
The hunted will be Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals as they will be led by Preseason All-American Guard Russ Smith as they look to repeat as back to back national champions. On the other hand, fans across the nation will take a look at the comeback of Guard Kevin Ware after the horrendous leg injury that left many appalled from what we witnessed.
All eyes will be on first year player and potentially one and done Andrew Wiggins as he is only the second freshman to become a preseason All-American selection. Wiggins is already looking forward to his last season in school, meanwhile people such as Marcus Smart do not believe in the hype. Wiggins, who is drawing comparisons to LeBron James, has not played against top tier competition in the early part of the season. He will get his chance to showcase his talents against another potential No. 1 overall pick in Jabari Parker and the Duke Blue Devils.
Tis the season to court storming upsets and incredible highlight plays from across the nation as NCAA Men’s Basketball as the season begins.
This is the first installment of many Mondays to come reflecting the memorable moments of Michael Jordan. As college basketball is underway, we start with his first clutch performance on the national stage.
North Carolina Tar Heels were facing the Georgetown Hoyas in the 1982 National Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome led by the legendary coaches of John Thompson of the Hoyas and Dean Smith representing the Tar Heels also featuring the great players of James Worthy and Eric ‘Sleepy’ Floyd and two outstanding freshmen with Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing.
The national championship game will be one to remember between the two historic programs would close throughout with 15 lead changes with neither team leading more than a few points. In the final minute of the game, North Carolina guard Jimmy Black with a cross court pass to a spot up Jordan for the game winning shot with 14 seconds remaining. The next possession, Georgetown guard Fred Brown inadvertently passes the ball to James Worthy, mistaking him as a teammate that would ultimately put the Tar Heels over the hump to defeat the Hoyas.
The Tar Heels would go onto victory by the score of 63-62 as Dean Smith would capture his first national title as James Worthy would become the tournaments Most Outstanding Player with 28 points. Patrick Ewing would finish with a stellar performance with 23 points and 10 rebounds while Jordan finishing with 16 points while the beginning of the legend has started to blossom. Continue reading