Kyrie Irving

Ego will kill Kyrie Irving

Imagine being the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft to one of the worst teams in the NBA. You immediately become the star of the franchise due to the lack of talent around you. The fans love and praise you for your hard work and have high hopes you will be one of the league’s best someday.

Imagine suffering through disappointing season after disappointing season. Missing the playoffs is the norm. Losing is an everyday occurrence and any win is celebrated like a Finals victory. You give it your all but it is just not enough.

Imagine one offseason your team finally does something about it. The league’s best player decides to come back home in hopes of bringing a title to his city. Following that signing, the team makes a trade for one of the best forwards in the game. Your team is now a big 3 and you guys are going to be going places. Anything short of the Finals would now be a disappointment.

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie is risking never playing in the Finals again so he can be the star of a team. (Photo by Brett Davis-USA TODAY)

Imagine making the Finals three straight years. You get to the first one only to get injured in the first game and are forced to watch your team lose from the bench.

Then the next year you are back healthy and ready to go. You hit the go-ahead shot in Game 7 over the league’s first unanimous MVP to defeat the greatest regular season team in history.

Then the next year you return, but your opponent is back with the addition of one of the league’s top two players. You flat-out dominate on the offensive end, but they are invincible and take back the title.

Imagine having little enough competition in your conference that a Finals appearance is pretty much guaranteed for a fourth straight season. You are in the prime of your career and have played in more Finals than some of the league’s great point guards before you like Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and John Stockton. What could be better?

Apparently playing in the Finals alongside the league’s best player is no longer enough for Kyrie Irving. From what reports are saying, he would rather throw all that away so he can be the best player on a team that has no shot at going to the Finals at all and maybe not even the playoffs.

Ego kills great teams

Kyrie’s ego has gotten too big. Ego is one of the biggest enemies known to successful teams. Being unwilling to accept your role on the team and getting selfish not only hurts your team, but yourself as well.

Kyrie Irving

The Cavs are almost guaranteed to make the Finals for the fourth straight year, and Irving still does not want to play in Cleveland. (Photo by Kyle Terada, USA TODAY)

Kyrie Irving, are you sure you want to throw away the once-in-a-lifetime situation you are in right now just so you can be the guy to score the most points? Are you satisfied with one title and three appearances? Are you sure that you no longer want your game to be elevated by one of the greatest of all time? I hope you know what you are doing.

Some of the top teams in today’s game have little to no ego issues at all. Look at the San Antonio Spurs. I bet you can’t tell me the last time that team missed the playoffs. Of course part of the reason for that is because the Spurs always have great players. They have had the likes of David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and the list goes on.

When you watch the Spurs play, there really is not any ego involved. They play as a team. As stated before, the Spurs always have multiple great players on their team. However, none of them are concerned about who gets the most spotlight. Those guys play to win and also as a team. They have stuck together for so long because they have learned to play with each other and coexist.

Look at the Golden State Warriors. That is a team that like the Spurs, was mostly built through the draft. They share the ball well. It is a different guy each night that stands out.

After Kevin Durant signed, a lot of analysts and fans thought ego might get in the way of Golden State’s success. Surely Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green wouldn’t be able to play alongside each other and be okay with not being the main focus right? So far ego has not been a problem in Golden State. They are focused on one thing: winning.

The Cavs have been the opposite. There seems to be drama in Cleveland more so than the other top contenders. Irving is just the latest of it all. Owner Dan Gilbert does not seem to have the competitive drive that the rest of the NBA contenders do.

Cleveland won the title in 2016 in an upset over Golden State. Surely you’d think the team would be hungry for more right? If they are, they really aren’t acting like it.

Gilbert let general manager David Griffin go. He failed to make a trade for Paul George or Jimmy Butler and will most likely fail at a trade for Carmelo Anthony. They have done little to make the team better. Jeff Green and Jose Calderon are not going to help the Cavs beat Golden State.

Is Kyrie done in Cleveland?

Now with Irving requesting a trade, could this be the end for Cleveland? Maybe not. Kobe Bryant also requested a trade back when he was playing. Sometimes players get frustrated. Irving’s frustration may just blow over.

But then again, Kobe was in a completely different situation than Irving. He was the top player on his team and ever since Shaquille O’Neal left L.A. after not getting along with Bryant, the team struggled. Kobe had Smush Parker and Kwame Brown helping him out and it was not working. He wanted to go to a winning situation.

Irving already is in one. Not many players would want to leave a team who has made the Finals three straight years to go to a team that won’t.

Only time will tell if the Cavs can get it together and if Kyrie Irving can coexist with LeBron James in Cleveland. If he ends up following through with this trade request, he may never play in the Finals again. He must be pretty confident that he can lead a team. But with the situation and talent that surrounds the NBA, Irving is going to have a very difficult time doing that.

 

Featured image by Jason Miller/Getty Images

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The NFL's Hardwood Roster

The NFL’s Hardwood Roster

The NFL offseason is a difficult time for the fans. Once June starts people can feel the season inching closer and closer to the point where they can’t take it anymore. The fans just need some football and that is where we are at currently. Thankfully, the NBA Finals have been keeping our attention with a clash of titans in the Finals. There is still a need and want for football to be here. Many players in the NFL have played basketball before so naturally, the thought arose as to what players in the NFL would make up the best basketball team? The NFL doesn’t have many players taller than 6-foot-6 so this lineup will be the best possible considering it may be a small ball lineup. Hagan’s Haus has your answer on which players would make up the NFL’s hardwood roster.

Point Guard

The NFL's Hardwood Roster

(Photo Credit:http://www.chronicle.pitt.edu)

Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers, 5′ 10″ 181 LBS: 

A point guard has to be quick and athletic. He also has to be capable of leading a team. Antonio Brown seems to be the best match to be the point guard of the NFL’s basketball team.

Antonio Brown has so much speed and explosion he would be able to attack the rim with ease. Brown had a 40-yard dash of 4.47 seconds. With that speed, it would be hard for opposing point guards to slow him down.

Brown also has a vertical jump of 33.5 inches giving him the ability to not only get the rim but finish at the rim as well. Antonio Brown would be a perfect point guard for the NFL’s basketball team.

 

Backup: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants, 5′ 11″ 198 LBS:

Odell is very similar to Antonio Brown. He is quick, fast, athletic and can jump out of the gym. There are videos of him doing some pretty sick dunks on YouTube.

O.B.J. has shown issues with maturity and handling his emotions so he may not be the best of leaders. Most point guards are the leaders of basketball teams because they run the offense. Odell’s skills and talents make him a good option, but his emotions and immaturity don’t make him the best option.

Honorable Mention: LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills, 5′ 11″ 208 LBS

Shooting Guard

The NFL's Hardwood Roster

(Photo Credit: https://www.buckeyeplanet.com)

Terrelle Pryor Sr., WR, Cleveland Browns, 6′ 4″ 223 LBS:

Terrelle Pryor is probably the best basketball player in the NFL today. If we form a basketball team from NFL players then Pryor is the Kobe or M.J. of the team. Coming out of high school Pryor was ranked 39th in ESPN’s top 100 for basketball. He was ranked 14 spots ahead of Klay Thompson! Nobody in the NFL was close to being ranked as high as Pryor was.

Scouting reports said Pryor was able to score both inside and behind the arc. They also said he was one of the best perimeter defenders in the country. Pryor was a legitimate basketball prospect who played both sides of the ball. Knowing all this, Terrelle Pryor would be the best player on the team.

Backup: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons, 6′ 3″ 220 LBS:

In high school, Julio Jones was a beast of a hooper along with being a great football player. There is audio and reports of him dunking on NBA center DeMarcus Cousins in a high school playoff game. Jones was even called an exceptional shot blocker by his high school football coach.

Julio is a scorer in the NFL and would be as a basketball player as well. His leaping ability and athleticism would allow him to be a solid defender and rebounder to back up Pryor.

Honorable Mention: Dez Bryant WR, Dallas Cowboys, 6′ 2″ 220 LBS:

Small Forward

The NFL's Hardwood Roster

(Photo Credit: http://www.eonline.com)

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers, 6′ 5″ 245 LBS:

Everyone knows that Cam Newton is an athletic freak of nature. At 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, he is almost impossible to tackle one on one. Picture trying to stop Cam Newton driving to the rim. That would be a scary sight.

Cam has shown his athletism as a quarterback by breaking the record for most career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 48. He has done that in just six NFL season. Cam would be hard to stop, especially as he worked his way into the paint. Defensively, he has the size to frustrate opponents. Cam is athletic enough to be a really good basketball player.

Backup: Jadeveon Clowney, DE/LB, Houston Texans, 6′ 5″ 270 LBS:

Jadeveon Clowney is one of the most athletic players in the NFL. At his massive size, he still managed to run a 4.53-second 40-yard dash. Clowney has shown world class quickness while trying to get past offensive lineman.

Clowney is a defender at heart and on the court that would be no different. His lateral quickness paired with his massive size would help him become a lockdown defender.

Honorable Mention: Danielle Hunter, DE, Minnesota Vikings, 6′ 5″ 252 LBS

Power Forward

The NFL's Hardwood Roster

(Photo Credit: Steve Cannon/Associated Press)

Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks, 6′ 7″ 265 LBS:

It is no secret that Jimmy Graham played basketball at the University of Miami. Graham averaged 4.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in his four-year career. Although those numbers don’t blow your socks off he has proven to be one of the best at going up and coming down with the football in the NFL.

That trait came from his rebounding skill and if the NFL were to build the best possible basketball team, Graham would have to be in the front court to pull down some boards. He would be an undersized power forward in the NBA but is one of the tallest players in the NFL.

Backup: Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs, 6′ 5″ 260 LBS:

Travis Kelce would be even more undersized than Jimmy Graham is but would still be able to be the NFL’s backup power forward. Kelce is one of the best tight ends in the NFL because he can use his body to gain position against defenders to make the catch.

That ability would translate well to the hardwood as a rebounder. Kelce has the quickness to be a decent defender but as long as he knew his role was to get boards he would be good. Would you really want to get in the way of Travis Kelce going for a massive throwdown? He would be a great backup to Jimmy Graham.

Honorable Mention: Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots,  6′ 6″ 265 LBS

Center

Rico Gathers, TE, Dallas Cowboys, 6′ 8″ 275 LBS:

Rico Gathers is not only one of the tallest players in the NFL, but he has basketball experience. Gathers would have to play center on the NFL’s basketball team but he played power forward at Baylor. He averaged 8.6 points and 8 rebounds per game in his four years at Baylor.

Backup: Dan Skipper, OL, Dallas Cowboys, 6′ 10″ 320 LBS:

Basketball requires height, and Dan Skipper of the Dallas Cowboys is 6-foot-10. He may not have the skill set of a basketball player but sometimes you just need those bigs to be in the way. Skipper could be a rotation player capable of picking up some fouls and defending the rim. At the very least he should be able to get some rebounds. This is definitely reaching, but hey, this article was meant to be fun.

Honorable Mention: Demar Dotson, OL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 6′ 9″ 315 LBS

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Top 5 NBA Coaches

Top Five NBA Coaches

The NBA Finals are in full force. Golden State seems to have fielded the best NBA team of all time. During their current 14-0 playoff run Steve Kerr has missed some time. Mike Brown has filled in during his absence more than adequately. Due to the Warriors success without Kerr, some have stated that he is not a top coach in the NBA. If Steve Kerr isn’t a top coach in the NBA then who is? Look no further, Hagan’s Haus brings you the top five NBA coaches in the NBA today.

5: Brad Stevens: Boston Celtics

Brad Stevens has done a phenomenal job with the Celtics. Since entering the NBA from Butler, Stevens has improved his win total every season. In his first year, he won just 25 games. He followed that up with 40 wins, 48 wins and most recently, 53 wins.

Boston is in prime position to contend for an NBA title for the next five to 10 years. Their roster has been loaded with talent and will continue to add more talent. Stevens has a lot to work with but his constant improvement proves that he is one of the top five coaches in the NBA.

4: Scott Brooks: Washington Wizards

Top 5 NBA Coaches

(Photo Credit: Sue Ogrocki/AP)

Scott Brooks is vastly underrated but is a top five coach in the NBA. Brooks got his first head coaching job in the NBA in 2008 with the Oklahoma City Thunder. In that first season, the Thunder only had 22 wins. Since that 22 win season in his first season as a head coach, his teams have never won less than 45 games.

Brooks ranks eighth all-time in win percentage of coaches who have coached over 500 games. He has gone 387-240 (61.7 percent)  in eight seasons.

Scott Brooks biggest accomplishment thus far was when he led the Thunder to the NBA Finals in the 2011-2012 season.

Brooks was hired by the Wizards on April 26, 2016. In his first season with Washington, he improved the Wizards win total from 41 wins to 49 wins. Washington went from 10th in the East to fourth in the East and reached the conference semi-finals.

Brooks is one of the best coaches and has proven so by leading more than one team to the playoffs.

3: Erik Spoelstra: Miami Heat

46 coaches have coached over 700 games in the NBA. Only five of those coaches have a better winning percentage than Erik Spoelstra. Spoelstra has gone 440-282 in his career as a head coach.

He coached the Heat to four straight NBA Finals and won two of them. There is a large group of people who believe that Erik Spoelstra was only successful because of LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. That notion was put to rest this season.

Nobody would consider the Heat’s roster as a very talented one, especially as the Heat started the season off 10-31. Spoelstra then led the Heat to a 31-10 finish this season, missing the playoffs only due to tie-breaker. The finish to the season opened many eyes around the league to how good of a coach Erik Spoelstra is.

With four Finals appearances in nine seasons and a career win percentage of 60.9 percent it is clear that Erik Spoelstra is one of the top coaches in the NBA today.

2: Steve Kerr: Golden State Warriors

Top 5 NBA Coaches

(Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images Sport)

Anyone saying that Steve Kerr is not one of the top five coaches in the NBA needs their basketball card revoked immediately. Yes, he has had a loaded roster since he arrived but Phil Jackson coached M.J., Kobe and Shaq but we don’t hold it against the Zen Master.

Kerr still must make the team one cohesive unit. Managing players egos and personalities is just as hard sometimes as coaching x’s and o’s.

Regardless of the talent Kerr has had to work with it; he still had to get the job done. Steve Kerr is the winningest coach in NBA history. He is 207-39 which is an 84.1 percent win percentage.

Kerr has also gone 45-14 in the playoffs and currently has the Warriors on a 14-0 postseason run, best in NBA history. He has led the Warriors to three straight Finals appearances and is on the brink of winning his second title in three years.

If Steve Kerr continues on this pace he will not only be one of the best current head coaches but will become one of the best all-time.

1: Gregg Popovich: San Antonio Spurs

Nothing in this world beats consistency and Gregg Popovich is one of the most consistent coaches in all of sports history. Pop has been the coach for San Antonio for 21 seasons and the only time he missed the playoffs was in his first season.

Popovich has amassed 1150 wins, ranking seventh most all-time. With another 50 win season, he will move to fifth all-time.

It is okay to assume he does that next season because in his 21 seasons he has had 50 or more wins 19 times. One of those seasons was his first year and the other was during a lockout year in which he still finished 37-13.

Pop also ranks third all-time in postseason wins with 166 and only trails the legendary Pat Riley and the Zen Master, Phil Jackson.

Gregg Popovich has also made it to the NBA Finals six times, winning five of them. Pop is one of the best coaches of all-time, clearly making him the the best coach in the NBA today.

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The Top 10 NBA Finals

The basketball world has been sitting around dying for the NBA Finals to start. We are only one day away from one of the most anticipated Finals in NBA history. The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are set to go head-to-head for the third year in a row. Many believe this is going to finish as one of the best NBA Finals of all time. With just one day remaining before the start of this year’s NBA Finals now is the perfect time to countdown the 10 best NBA Finals.

10: 1978 FINALS: WASHINGTON BULLETS VS. SEATTLE SUPERSONICS

Top 10 NBA Finals

(Photo by NBA Photo Library/NBAE via Getty Images)

The 1978 NBA Finals displayed a great matchup of teams not expected to make it to the Finals. Seattle was the four seed from the Western Conference that went 47-35 while Washington was a three seed that went just 44-38.

It was a back-and-forth series as each team traded wins every game until Game 7. Game 7 took place in Seattle and when Washington won the game it marked the first time in the series that either team won back-to-back games. Wes Unseld scored 15 points and also added six assists and nine rebounds and was later named Finals MVP.

The 1978 NBA Finals are the only Finals in NBA history in which both teams had under 50 wins in an 82-game season. It was also the first and only championship for the Washington franchise that is now named the Wizards.

9: 2005 FINALS: SAN ANTONIO SPURS VS. DETROIT PISTONS

Top 10 NBA Finals

(Photo Credit: http://www.nba.com/finals2005/video.html0

In 2005, the Pistons were trying to do what the Lakers accomplished in 1988 and that was to win back-to-back titles. The Spurs were going for their second title in three years. It was a battle of the previous two champions. The Spurs went up 2-0 behind two big scoring games from Manu Ginobili. The next two games were won by the Pistons to tie the series up at 2-2.

Once the series was tied up, the Spurs and Pistons traded wins to force a Game 7 in San Antonio. The Spurs held Detroit to just 41 percent from the field and 14 percent from behind the arc. San Antonio won the battle of champions in Game 7, 81-74. Tim Duncan won Finals MVP averaging 20.6 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.

8: 1970 FINALS: NEW YORK KNICKS VS. LOS ANGELES LAKERS

Top 10 NBA Finals

(Photo Credit:http://outsidethehype.com/)

In 1970, the Knicks were very different from today’s Knicks team, as they were actually good enough to make it to the Finals. Not only did they make it to the Finals, but they beat the Los Angeles Lakers in a tough seven-game series. This series was as back-and-forth of a Finals as possible as neither team strung together two wins in a row and Games 3 and 4 both went into overtime.

This series is widely remembered for the return of an injured Willis Reed. Reed reportedly tore a thigh muscle in Game 5 and did not play in Game 6. Reed did not have a major impact in the game but his teammate, Walt Frazier, had one of the greatest games in NBA Finals history.

The Lakers lost the series despite Jerry West averaging 31.3 points and 7.7 assists per game. West’s numbers were impressive but what Wilt Chamberlain did was even more impressive. Wilt averaged 23.3 points per game and an astonishing 24.1 rebounds per game. Neither performances were enough to win though.

Frazier shot 12-17, (70.6 pecent) scoring 36 points and he also added 19 assists to go along with seven rebounds. He put the Knicks on his back to win Game 7, and the series.

Even with Frazier’s epic performance in Game 7, Willis Reed was actually named the Finals MVP. Reed averaged 23 points and 10.5 rebounds per game and had 37 points in Game 1 and 38 points in Game 3. It was the first of two championships for the New York Knicks franchise.

7: 1988 FINALS: LOS ANGELES LAKERS VS. DETROIT PISTONS

Top 10 NBA Finals

(Photo Credit: http://outsidethehype.com)

The Lakers won the 1987 NBA Finals and at the victory parade head coach, Pat Riley promised a repeat. Los Angeles won 62 games and got back to the Finals to meet the Bad Boy Pistons.

Heading into Game 6 in Los Angeles, the Pistons had a 3-2 series lead. Pistons star point guard, Isiah Thomas, twisted his ankle in the third quarter but that didn’t stop him from dropping 43 points in the game. The Lakers held on to a 103-102 victory behind 28 points from James Worthy. Magic Johnson also had a double-double with 22 points and 19 assists.

Game 7 was in the famous Laker Forum. Entering the fourth quarter, the Lakers led 83-73. Detroit pushed hard in the fourth quarter outscoring the Lakers 32-25 but it wasn’t enough as the Lakers won 108-105. After a big Game 6, Thomas had just 10 points. James Worthy had a triple-double putting up 36 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists and was named the Finals MVP. It was the Lakers fifth title in nine years and last of the Magic and Showtime era.

6: 1962 FINALS: BOSTON CELTICS VS. LOS ANGELES LAKERS

Top 10 NBA Finals

(Photo Credit: http://www.totalprosports.com/2013/06/03/the-13-greatest-game-7s-in-the-history-of-the-nba-playoffs/)

Hop into your time machine for this one. The 1962 NBA Finals was one of the best in NBA history. Boston was going for its fourth championship in a row. Los Angeles had dreams of ruining the Boston dynasty that was forming. Fast forward to Game 7, one of the best games that most NBA fans have never seen.

The game went into overtime tied at 100. Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and Bill Russell each played more than 50 minutes. The only reason the game went into overtime was because Lakers guard Frank Selvy missed a baseline jumper as time expired.

The Celtics were able to outscore the Lakers 10-7 in overtime to win their fourth NBA title in a row. They would continue to win the next four as well finishing with eight NBA championships in a row.

In the 1962 Finals, many records were set. Elgin Baylor set and still holds, the record for most points in a Finals game with 61 in Game 5. Bill Russell had a record 40 rebounds in Game 7 and finished with an NBA-record 189 for the entire series. The 1962 NBA Finals will always be one of the best in the Lakers versus Celtics rivalry.

5: 2006 FINALS: MIAMI HEAT VS. DALLAS MAVERICKS

The 2006 Finals is the first one on the countdown that didn’t go seven games. This series has to be on the countdown because Dwayne Wade had arguably the greatest finals performance of all time. The Heat team was loaded with Hall of Fame talent around Dwayne Wade. Players such as Gary Payton, Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O’Neal and Hall of Fame head coach Pat Riley surrounded Wade. Despite all the talent around him it was Dwayne Wade who stole the spotlight.

Top 10 NBA Finals

(Photo Credit: http://www.definearevolution.com)

Dallas went up 2-0 in the series and it looked like they were on their way to winning the championship. Dwayne Wade preceded to score 42 points, 36 points, 43 points and 36 points in games three through six. An average of 39.3 points per game in those four games. He finished the series as the Finals MVP averaging 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.7 steals per game.

His domination is still remembered to this day as legendary and because of his performance, the 2006 Finals was one of the top five NBA Finals of all time.

4: 2010 FINALS: LOS ANGELES LAKERS VS. BOSTON CELTICS

It was a rivalry renewed. In 2008 these two long-time rivals met and Boston came away victorious. The following year Los Angeles got redemption by beating the Magic. It was now time for a chance at revenge.

Top 10 NBA Finals

(Photo Credit: http://www.definearevolution.com)

Kobe Bryant had a wonderful resume but to truly be a Laker legend you had to beat the Celtics in the Finals. He was on a mission to not lose to the Celtics for the second time.

Kobe was the leading scorer in all games except Game 2. Game 7 was a low-scoring nail-biter. Entering the fourth quarter the Celtics led by the low score of 57-53. Kobe and the Lakers were in danger of losing to the Celtics in the Finals for the second time.

The Lakers outscored to the Celtics 30-22 in the fourth quarter to win 83-79. Kobe finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds and was awarded his second consecutive Finals MVP.

The Lakers avenged a 2008 loss to the Celtics in a historic seven-game series. Kobe won his fifth and final ring to cement his legacy as a Laker legend and an overall all-time great.

3: 2016 FINALS: CLEVELAND CAVALIERS VS. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

The repeat to the 2015 NBA Finals was one of the most historic and entertaining the NBA had ever seen. The Warriors had defeated the Cavaliers 4-2 the previous season to capture their first title in 40 years. Cleveland was still looking for its first major championship for the city in 52 years.

The chances of ending that drought looked very grim. Golden State took a 2-0 series lead with the largest margin of victory ever through the first two games to Cleveland. After four games the Warriors had a 3-1 lead and no team had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in Finals history.

Top 10 NBA Finals

(Photo Credit: NBA.com)

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving went bonkers in Game 5 dropping 41 points each to force a Game 6. In Game 6, LeBron had another 41 points and 11 assists to force a decisive Game 7 at Golden State.

Game 7 was close from start to finish. LeBron had an epic block on Andre Iguodala and Kyrie Irving hit a three to seal the game and the city of Cleveland’s first championship in over 50 years. Cleveland will remember this one forever as LeBron brought the trophy home. He was named Finals MVP averaging 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists per game.

2: 1998 FINALS: CHICAGO BULLS VS. UTAH JAZZ

This series is only one of two that wasn’t a seven-game series. It was also a rematch of the previous year’s Finals in which the Bulls won 4-2. The Jazz were looking for their first-ever title and revenge on Michael Jordan and the rest of the Chicago Bulls.

Top 10 NBA Finals

(Credit: http://www.complex.com/sports/2014/06/the-greatest-nba-finals-of-all-time/)

Jordan was going for a 6-0 record in the Finals and his second three-peat. M.J. came into Game 6 averaging 31.2 points per game and his team had a 3-2 series lead. Game 6 was in Utah, which is a tough place to play. He was going to need a legendary performance to close out the Jazz on their home court.

Jordan did not disappoint. He scored 45 of the team’s 87 points, which was 51 percent of the team’s scoring. The Bulls needed all 45 of those points too because, with just 27 seconds left in the game, the Jazz were up 86-85.

Michael Jordan stole the ball and dribbled down towards the basket. M.J. hit his famous mid-range jumper giving the Bulls the 87-86 lead. It was the game-winning shot for his sixth championship and cemented him as the greatest basketball player of all time.

 

1: 1984 FINALS: BOSTON CELTICS VS. LOS ANGELES LAKERS

The 1984 NBA Finals could be considered the Finals that saved basketball. Ratings had been dropping until Larry Bird and Magic Johnson took center stage. The rivalry that started to form was captivating the entire country.

Top 10 NBA Finals

(Photo Credit: Youtube)

Bird vs. Magic was deeper than just a head-to-head matchup. It was white vs. black, east vs. west, and some say it was rich vs. poor, even though Bird wasn’t the richest kid growing up.

Magic had beaten Bird in the 1979 NCAA Championship game and Larry Bird could never shake that loss out of his head. He used it as motivation and it made him obsess about being better than Magic.

He got his chance to face Magic in the 1984 NBA Finals. The Lakers franchise was still struggling to beat the Celtics in the Finals and they would have to wait another year to accomplish that feat.

The 1984 Finals went seven games. In Game 7, Larry Bird had 20 points and 13 rebounds to lead to an 111-102 victory. Bird was named Finals MVP averaging 27 points and 14 rebounds in the series.

Because of the social impacts of the series and the falling ratings of the NBA, this ranks as the greatest Finals matchup in NBA history. It created a true rivalry between Bird and Magic that saved the game of basketball.

 

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The Magic of Playoff LeBron

Last week the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards battled it out in a tough seven game series. On both sides of the court the players looked gassed by the end of the series. It was a toughly fought series that culminated with the exhausted Celtics barely getting a win.

Meanwhile, the Cleveland Cavaliers had 9 days of rest. Rumor has it LeBron James was channeling Rocky Balboa and climbing mountains in Russia during that time, but those rumors could be unsubstantiated.

We don’t often get the opportunity to see something like Playoff LeBron in sports. A player that has the unique ability to hit this type of gear in the playoffs is truly a joy to watch.

We’ve seen players in the past turn it up in the playoffs occasionally. Michael Jordan certainly hit another level in the playoffs, we saw Shaq do it in the early 2000s and Kobe had an undeniable killer instinct. But this is different.

LeBron James has not only been historically dominant in the playoffs, but he has done so for a ridiculously long period of time. LeBron is in his fourteenth season. Players aren’t supposed to be dominating in their fourteenth season, let alone performing at one of the highest levels of their career.

LeBron is encroaching on the territory of going beyond comparison. He continues to play at an incredibly high level with such longevity that his GOAT status may soon be undeniable.

This year proved to be yet another notch in LeBron’s illustrious belt. After leading the league in minutes through the first half of the year, LeBron seemed to coast through the second half of the season.

Sports media went crazy, and a narrative began to emerge about whether LeBron may have met his match with father time. Would his reign of dominate in the Eastern Conference come to an end?

The first round of the playoffs put those doubts to rest pretty quickly. LeBron is having what is likely the best playoff run of his career. He has put up insane efficiency numbers while shooting a high volume of shots, something that is incredibly hard to do.

The question of who is the greatest basketball player of all time may never have a definitive answer. Guys like Jordan, LeBron, Kareem and Wilt have put together such amazing careers in different eras that it is hard to compare.

But LeBron is reaching a special territory. Because there is nobody like LeBron. And there probably never will be anyone like LeBron. All we can do now is sit back and watch the greatest player of this generation dominate like nothing we’ve ever seen before. All we can do is sit back and enjoy.

(Photo by: LA Times)

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Where Does Melo Go From Here?

Nothing seems to be going right in the life of Carmelo Anthony at the moment. Phil Jackson recently gave a press conference in which he said, “I think the direction with our team is that he is a player that would be better off somewhere else and using his talent somewhere where he can win or chase that championship.”

He is unwanted and, according to Jackson, unneeded in New York.

If that wasn’t bad enough, there are reports coming out that he and his wife of seven years will be getting a divorce after rumors that he got a stripper pregnant.

Carmelo’s life and career are at a crossroads. The question that begs to be answered is, where does Melo go from here?

Career Accomplishments

Carmelo Anthony

(Photo Credit: AP Richard Drew)

Carmelo is a legend at Syracuse University. In the 2002-03 season, Carmelo led the Orange to their first national championship. He averaged 22.2 points and 10 rebounds per game. He was also named the tournament’s most outstanding player that season. His future was bright and he was picked third overall in the 2003 NBA draft.

Carmelo has also been a successful international basketball player. One could argue he is the most successful basketball olympian in United States history. Melo has a record of playing on four Olympic rosters, and a record three gold medals. Melo also holds the record for most points scored in a USA Men’s Olympic game with 37 against Nigeria in 2012.

He is first all-time in each of the following: games played (31), career points (336), rebounds (125), field goals made (113), field goals attempted (262), 3-pointers attempted (139), free throws made (53) and free throws attempted (71). He is also second all-time in 3-pointers made (57).

Carmelo’s NBA career hasn’t led to as much hardware, but he has still had a great career. Melo is a 10-time all star, has been named to an All-NBA team six times and was the scoring champion in the 2012-13 season.

One of his best accomplishments in the NBA was when he led the Denver Nuggets to the Western Conference Championship in 2009, but fell to Kobe and the Lakers 4-2.

Carmelo has scored 24,156 career points in 15 NBA seasons. He has over 3,000 assists and over 6,000 rebounds, but a championship is what eludes him. The Knicks have openly said he will be better off chasing that ring somewhere else, but where?

The Path to A Ring

Carmelo Anthony

(Photo Credit: http://clutchpoints.com)

Melo has few options if all he is looking for is a ring. Those options include the Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics.

It would be foolish for the Knicks to release Carmelo Anthony, but it may be their only option. Melo is under contract until July of 2019 and has a no-trade clause. He will veto any trade that is not to a championship contender, or a trade that leaves the new team without the pieces needed to win that elusive title. If the Knicks really want to part ways with Melo, they may have to just cut him.

Boston

The Celtics would be a great fit for both Melo and the team. Boston managed to get the No. 1 seed in the east despite only having one major option on offense in Isaiah Thomas.

Adding Anthony would bring in an easy 20 points per game and veteran leadership to a team that tied for the third youngest team (25.6) in the NBA. Both Melo and the Celtics would help one another in trying to win a ring.

Los Angeles

One team that is often mentioned in Anthony rumors is the Los Angeles Clippers. The team is loaded with talent, but fails to make an impact in the history books.

Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony are close friends who both need to validate their careers with an NBA championship. Neither wants to go down in history like Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, John Stockton or Karl Malone.

If Anthony is cut, this would be his ideal spot. A team with Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan could only get better by adding Anthony. The Western Conference is loaded, but this makes the Clippers a legitimate threat rather than just a bump in the road out west.

Cleveland

The last team that Melo could sign with, if cut, is the Cleveland Cavaliers. Melo is just as close with LeBron as he is with Chris Paul. Cleveland may win a title this year, but if they don’t, it’s because they ran into a Warriors team that loaded up with Kevin Durant. The answer to that would be to get Anthony and his scoring. He would take pressure off Kyrie and LeBron.

The Cavs are in less need of Melo than Melo is of the Cavs. Signing with Cleveland would prove that all Melo wants is that trophy. He wouldn’t be in the spotlight or the face of a franchise, which is something Melo has never experienced. Signing in Cleveland would all but guarantee him that ring he so desperately wants.

Conclusion

Carmelo Anthony

(Photo Credit: http://clutchpoints.com)

As Carmelo enters the twilight of his playing days, he is focused on one thing: winning. Knowing that  the Knicks no longer want or need him will make him seek a team that does want him.

He will also need a distraction from his personal problems, and finding another team can help with that. It is hard to see where Carmelo goes from here, but one thing is for certain: his playing days in New York are over.

 

 

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D'Angelo Russell Future Star

D’Angelo Russell Future Star?

When young players enter the NBA, fans expect them to become stars immediately. If at 19,20 or 21 years old they aren’t dominating the game, many people start to think of them as busts. The fact is they need time to gain experience in the professional game. It requires patience that many fans don’t have.

Players must go through the long, draining NBA regular seasons that last from October to April. These players are still kids barely out of college and usually aren’t ready for full NBA seasons until they have experienced a few.

One of the players often mentioned as not living up to his potential has only been in the NBA two seasons. That player is Los Angeles Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell.

Laker Nation

D'Angelo Russell Future Star

(Photo Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org)

The Lakers’ fanbase is one of the most impatient in all of sports, but for good reason. The Lakers franchise was founded back in 1947 in Minneapolis and moved to Los Angeles in 1960. In their franchise’s illustrious history, the Lakers have played in 31 NBA Finals and captured 16 championships, which is second most all-time.

Los Angeles is used to great players and winning teams. The team has had some of the most legendary players in the history of the game like Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Gail Goodrich, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.

Winning is all the Lakers have ever known, which is why they have such an impatient fanbase. From the 1948-1949 season until the 2012-2013 season, the Lakers had only missed the playoffs five times. It is absolutely incredible to think about that level of consistency over six decades.

The recent Laker seasons have had nothing to do with winning. Over the past four seasons, including this one, the Lakers have gone 84-225. L.A. will miss the playoffs four consecutive seasons after this one. In their first 65 years, they missed the playoffs five times and are now about to miss the playoffs four straight. It is understandable that Laker fans are frustrated.

The departure of Kobe Bryant has left the Lakers searching for a star to carry the franchise. They do not have to look far for that star because they have already drafted him.

star Point Guards in their early years

D'Angelo Russell Future Star

(Photo Credit: http://sportige.com)

D’Angelo Russell, also known as D-Lo, is already off to a great start to his young career. Russell is going to be constantly overshadowed by Karl Anthony-Towns, who was the first overall pick in the same draft class.

Towns has gotten most of the attention due to his unbelievable play so far. However, Russell’s first two seasons in the NBA are right on par with some of the NBA’s star point guards.

To really understand the projection Russell’s career should take, we must look at how he compares to these star guards in their first two seasons in the NBA.

The first comparison will be to Damian Lillard. Lillard averaged 19.9 points, 6.1 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 37.2 minutes per game in his first two seasons . Lillard is one of the best guards in the league now and was off to a great start due to the high minutes he was playing.

The next comparison is MVP candidate Russell Westbrook. After two seasons in the league, Westbrook averaged 15.7 points, 6.7 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game. Just as Lillard averaged high minutes, so did Westbrook with 33.4 minutes per game.

The last guard for comparison will be Wizards star John Wall. Wall averaged 16.4 points, 8.2 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game. Wall’s minutes were right on par with Lillard’s as he averaged 37 minutes per game.

These three guards are all considered top guards and leaders of their respective teams. How close is D’Angelo Russell to following in their footsteps?

D’Angelo Russell: The Future Star

The first thing noticeable about how Russell stacks up with these other guards is in minutes played. D’Angelo Russell is playing far fewer minutes than the other guards mentioned above. Russell has averaged just under 28 minutes a game (27.8) in his first two seasons. Compared to Wall and Lillard, that is 10 minutes less per game.

D'Angelo Russell Future Star

(Gif Credit: http://thedoublescreen.com)

Considering he is playing far fewer minutes, his stats are still pretty similar to theirs.

This season, Russell is averaging 14.9 points, 4.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game. Per 36 minutes, those numbers jump to 19.7 points, 6.4 assists and 4.9 rebounds. If Russell was playing more, he would be averaging around the same numbers as these stars were in their second seasons.

Along with the solid numbers, Russell has proven he can hit big shots. He has made the saying “ice in my veins” famous all because he pointed to his arm when he hit a clutch 3-pointer as you can see in the gif to the left.

Russell not only has the pressure of living up to the hype of the second overall pick in the draft, but also has to follow the legendary Kobe Bryant. He is taking over a franchise that for the last 20 seasons was led by a man who won five NBA Championships.

There is a long list of stars to live up to in Hollywood, but Russell just needs more time. He is just 21 years old, but the future looks bright. The current star point guards in the NBA were once doing exactly what he is doing now so be patient and don’t worry Lake Show. D’Angelo is on his way to becoming the next Laker star.

 

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It’s on the Haus: Dirk Nowitzki Scores 30K, Gonzaga Basketball Wins, Bruce Chen’s Shoes and an Unruly Gorilla

It’s on the Haus is a daily installment of sports and esports news from the past day. Rather than waiting an entire hour to see the big news on a television program, or going to multiple stories on multiple websites to get your sports fix, It’s on the Haus gives you the biggest sports and esports happenings, all in one place. You may feel guilty for reading this concise article that gives you everything you need to know, but don’t worry, It’s on the Haus.

It’s been a while. If you want a feel for how this series works, take in the last article in the wonderful world of sports news.

Dunking Deutschman Reaches 30K

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki scored his 30,000th career point in the most Dirk way possible in the Mavs’ 122-111 win over the Los Angeles Lakers last night. Nowitzki becomes the sixth player in NBA history to reach the landmark and the first since Kobe Bryant did it in 2012.

Good for the Dunking Deutschman. He seems to be one of the more well-liked players in the association, even with a detrimental photoshoot to start his career.

LeBron James stopped his dinner to take a video congratulating Nowitzki. In my house, pulling out your phone during dinner is a cardinal sin, but apparently things work differently when your the most famous Sprite endorser in America.

Dirk has just one NBA Finals championship, which is criminal. It’s not fair for someone who changed the game, and maybe if Mark Cuban spent less time ridiculing potential entrepreneurs on television and more time not wasting one of the GOATs in NBA history, Dirk would have more rings.

I scored 21 points in a jayvee basketball game one time, so who’s the real basketball expert here, Mark? No further questions.

Zags Clinch Tourney Spot

The Gonzaga Bulldogs basketball team was already going to make the NCAA Tournament, but just for good measure, they won their conference tournament. The Bulldogs beat the St. Mary’s Gaels 74-56 last night, marking the third time the Zags have beaten St. Mary’s by double-digits this season.

Gonzaga is now 32-1 and in prime position to pursue its first ever national title. However, I’m not here to talk about basketball.

Now, what exactly is a Gael? Well, it’s hard to say. Even though I have the almighty power of Google at my disposal, I’m not going to look it up. Rather, brainstorm with me.

I know there’s such a thing called gale force winds. That has something to do with the bodies of water, and also isn’t spelled correctly. Gazelle sounds sort of like gael, but I figure it’s not the same thing.

I’ll have my intern look into interviewing all athletes on St. Mary’s various sports teams to see if they even know what it means, but I doubt they do. But hey, not knowing is all the fun, right?

What Are Those?

Dirk Nowitzki Gonzaga Basketball Bruce Chen's Shoes Phoenix Suns Mascot

Bruce Chen’s kicks, courtesy of Cespedes Family BBQ’s Twitter account.

Remember the year 2015, when the phrase “what are those” was made into a annoying teen’s favorite meme? Neither do I. That’s not the point. The point is that Bruce Chen, an MLB pitcher and member of China’s World Baseball Classic team, wore some killer shoes in his appearance yesterday in the WBC.

I commend Chen for making this bold fashion statement. When you’re 39 years old and you don’t need traction, you choose to wear comfortable shoes. Who are we as common nonathletic citizens to judge?

Chen tossed 2 and 2/3 innings in the game, but China lost the game 6-0. Maybe if the entire roster chose to wear business casual footwear to the game, the Chinese would’ve earned the dub.

 

Gorilla Makes a Scene, Avenges Harambe’s Death

The Phoenix Suns’ matchup with the Washington Wizards was full of fireworks, most notably being the Suns’ mascot’s shenanigans during the fourth quarter.

My apologies on the terrible cheesy music that was coupled with the video. The piece of media comes from CBS Sports, so please direct your complaints to them.

At first glance, it seems as though the man inside the gorilla is high as a kite. However, upon further review, it appears as though the gorilla actually saved a player from potential injury, as the friendly animal picked up some kind of object off the floor.

All I’m saying is this guy better watch his back. Remember the last time a gorilla tried to save an innocent person from certain implosion? Yeah, that gorilla, known as Harambe by locals, is deader than Jokim Noah’s jumper.

I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’. I see symbolism here, and I see the world getting this gorilla situation right.

 

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How Social Issues are Becoming Entrenched in the NBA

Recently, social issues and politics have become especially prominent in the NBA. Basketball has always found itself intrenched in cultural issues, but over the past year it has become increasingly noticeable.

One prominent social issue that came to light earlier this year was regarding the use of marijuana in the NBA. Frequently outspoken coach and former player Steve Kerr made headlines when he admitted to using marijuana to help with his back pain. Kerr, 51 years old, also mentioned that hopes the NBA will soften its stance on marijuana. Interestingly, the NBA already refrains from testing for marijuana during the offseason.

The NBA has a much more lenient position on pot usage than the MLB and NFL. The NFL is notoriously strict on players who test positive for marijuana and bans players for a full season after testing positive three times.

NBA Social Issues

(Courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

Kerr specifically spoke out against the NFL’s policies.

“If you’re an NFL player, in particular, and you got lot of pain, I don’t think there’s any question that pot is better for your body than Vicodin,” Kerr said.

Former NBA player Jay Williams said that he believes 80% of NBA players use marijuana. He also expressed his support for leniency on marijuana also citing the benefits of marijuana over painkillers.

Marijuana has proven to be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of NBA personalities expressing their beliefs. This became especially clear in the months surrounding the 2016 election.

On November 6th, in Cleveland, LeBron James spoke out at a rally for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Rather than spark a controversy, his endorsement brought support from his peers on both sides of the aisle.

Milwaukee Bucks center Spencer Hawes, a known conservative, spoke out on James’ endorsements in October. Hawes was asked whether James’ comments regarding Clinton made him uncomfortable in an interview with Sporting News, eliciting this response:

No, I like it. Obviously, I don’t agree with LeBron there. And that’s fine. But the ability to not agree and put that in one compartment and not judge someone’s entire character based on how they view the world or what their political beliefs are, that’s what makes us great. So yeah, I disagree with LeBron. I would love to have a discussion with him or anybody that wants to talk about it. But at the end of the day, there’s two parties, there’s two ways of doing things. Each one has been in power many times over again, and we’re still where we are.

The political statements from big NBA stars only continued after the election. Gregg Popovich, Steve Kerr and Stan van Gundy all made huge political statements in the days following the 2016 election.

NBA Social Issues

(Courtesy of Rolling Stone)

The NBA’s social involvement does not end with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. In 2014, across the league, players showed their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Led by stars Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose, many players wore shirts that said “I can’t breathe” during warmups. The NBA broke their protocol and decided not to fine the players who wore the shirts.

In another politically charged act, the NBA pulled the All-Star game from Charlotte, North Carolina earlier this year. This came in response to the “bathroom bill” that had been passed in the state. The NBA also became the first professional American sports league with an active openly gay athlete when Jason Collins came out in 2013.

NBA Social Issues

(Courtesy of USA Today)

This article from Bleacher Report explains how Donald Trump was causing turmoil in NFL locker rooms because of political divides. Similarly, the NFL was the focus of a huge nationwide media controversy as a result of Colin Kapernick kneeling during the national anthem earlier this year. The political statements that come out of the NFL have simply not been received kindly by fans and the media alike.

As we can see from the comments from Hawes and those three coaches, the NBA has clearly had a much better reaction to the social issues that have become so deeply entrenched in this sport.

Additionally, while some more mediocre players in other sports leagues have spoken up, marquee players in other leagues have been mostly silent about social issues. Meanwhile, some of the biggest stars in the NBA have been politically outspoken.

Kobe Bryant and Lebron James are undoubtedly the two biggest 21st century basketball stars and both have been remarkably outspoken about social issues. Additionally, stars such as Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and many others have let their voice be heard. And, as mentioned, three of the top coaches in the league spoke very strongly about their political beliefs this year.

So, what allows the NBA to foster so much more activism than other American sports leagues?

NBA Social Issues

(Courtesy of NBA Lead)

One of the key factors is commissioner Adam Silver. Silver has fostered an environment in the NBA that has allowed players to be comfortable expressing their beliefs politically and on social issues.

Since becoming the commissioner of the NBA, Silver has set the tone for creating a welcoming environment and has hastily stood up for the things he believes in.

Silver delivered a lifetime ban to former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for his racist comments. He instituted the removal of the All-Star Game from Charlotte earlier this year. And earlier this year, Silver expressed outright that NBA players were free to use their celebrity to express their political views.

Silver has emphasized the importance of sports bringing people together and he has certainly not been afraid to put his beliefs to action. Silver also remains an incredibly liked commissioner, proving a sharp contrast to the commissioners of other sports leagues such as Gary Bettman and Roger Goodell.

The NBA’s ability to intertwine relevant social issues and sports has proved successful so far. With one of the most liked and respected commissioners in sports at the moment, it seems likely that they will continue to succeed. And as long as it’s working, why not?

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The Dichotomy Of The NBA Player

As fans of the NBA, we’re constantly taking in the product via commercials, ads, and video games. The players and their faces are inescapable. Their faces, however are not all we see.

We also want to see ourselves in them. We want them to be like us and eat the same things eat and wear the same shoes we do. We want them to be decent people who walk the straight and narrow. Mothers and fathers allow these athletes to raise their children.

But we so often overlook the human aspect of the NBA star. Before they were omnipresent multi-millionaires, they were people just as inflicted with the human condition as the next man. Greed, anger, happiness, and depression affects them the same way as the consumer. This doesn’t excuse any level of indiscretion, it only masks it and presents it in a more palatable package.

The transgressions of NBA athletes often go unnoticed to fans because of the overwhelming suspension of disbelief. We allow ourselves to build up an unconditional affection for them and in doing so we grant them a pardon and overlook the mistakes.

Take Kobe Bryant, the Black Mamba. NBA champion, MVP. The many adjectives that are used to describe Bryant do not involve charged with sexual assault. We find ourselves in awe of his 81 point performance or his perceived clutch gene. The Black Mamba was a killer on the court who saw everyone as enemy that needed to be vanquished. We applauded this and held it in reverence. We used Mamba in the same way that Bryant did: to separate real life from basketball. We refused to clutter our minds with the actions of Bryant and those of The Mamba.

USA Today

USA Today

In NBA life things may become cluttered with both sides of their respective worlds. And with this cluttering may come a diminished performance on the court. This would not stand well with the fans and God forbid that the fans are unhappy. Players feel that they have to separate the various aspects of their lives often citing the court as a “sanctuary”.  The fans only judge what they feel is appropriate. The on court performance. Anything beyond that feels taboo and invasive.

And there lies the irony. We allow them into our homes every night and we want them to know that we appreciate and care for them, yet we almost instinctively turn our eyes and interests away the minute the idol becomes one of us.

Yet, the reverence that we hold these athletes is very selective. We choose who is allowed to do what and whether we accept it or not. We want the clean cut athlete not because we want to protect the sport that we care so much about, but to insure that we don’t have to stop and defend against their actions.

The perfect example of this selective reverence exists in how we view Steph Curry and conversely J.R. Smith. It’s a classic case of winning cures all. We forget and overlook all of the bumps in the road a player may face if he holds the hardware. If Smith had been successful earlier in career maybe we see his antics differently. Curry, while well earned, has curried the favor of all who witness his success. If Curry wasn’t a champion and MVP twice over, would we see him as just a more accurate Smith? An elite walking heat check?

J.R. Smith vs. Steph Curry is a comparison that shows how we subconsciously choose who we allow to be the so called face of the league. Smith was always a supremely talented, athletic player but his choices and lack of discipline kept him from reaching his true potential. This has led us to judge J.R. as a player who you wouldn’t want on your team because he could never help a true contender. He could never contribute anything positive.

USA Today

USA Today

In 2015-16 season, Smith shot 40% from 3 in the regular season for the eventual champion Cleveland Cavaliers. In the NBA Finals, Smith played to his strengths, mostly shooting, and overall in the playoffs averaging 12.4 ppg.

The year earlier Smith played a pivotal role in defeating the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals. After the winning in the finals, Smith, in his post-game press conference, let us inside a little bit. He showed us emotion that moved some of us to tears. In that moment he stopped being the underachieving riff raff and became someone that it’s OK to support.

Two years of Smith playing on his sports biggest stages and we came out with a different felling about him each time. Was it because of his honesty and sincerity or was it because he had just reached the pinnacle of his career with a championship?

On the other side we have Curry, a player who reached his peak potential by becoming arguably the best shooter that we have ever seen. He has built a brand that has him as a christian family man who plays the right way and doesn’t let any outside factors affect him on the court. His brand admittedly has protected him from any mass ridicule, particularly in this past NBA Finals where he didn’t play to his usual superhuman standards.

Curry has become the face of the league because we see him as relatable. We feel that we can relate to the smaller guard who lacks the superhuman athleticism if his peers. His baby-faced persona and choir boy countenance coupled with immense success makes for a perfect marketing tool.

He and Smith now have the same amount of championships, albeit they were achieved in differing ways. And obviously Smith could never be the face of the league, but do we now harp on Curry’s missteps on or off the court now that he has had his mortal NBA player moment? Probably not but that’s OK.

USA Today

USA Today

But what about the money the players make? This is a part of the game we focus on greatly. This past NBA free agency was one that was unprecedented. Not only in the enormity of the salary cap spike and the space it gave teams to pay for the players they wanted but also for the ridicule players received for the amount of money they were being paid.

National writers would rain down countering ridicule to the fans with the hackneyed analogy of a common worker getting a raise for his job. The fallacy of that argument is saying that we wouldn’t care about the fireman getting a 100% pay raise if we knew about it, when in reality we would. We would care because it be out in the open leaving it vulnerable to our judgement.

That again is a part of the plight of the NBA player and fan. We are a part of their world so much so that we know exactly how much each player makes and when they make it. We as fans then debate whether it’s too much or too little. Once again we are basing these opinions on their on-court performance and brand rather than the individual himself.

USA Today. Mike Conley's five-year $153 million dollar contract caused an uproar for the fans.

USA Today. Mike Conley’s five-year $153 million dollar contract caused an uproar in the NBA fanbase.

Most of the players didn’t grow up with very much at all. And when the time comes for the player to finally be able to quantify his worth we tell him that’s he’s overpaid. Who are we to tell someone who went from nothing to something almost overnight that he shouldn’t that much but can have this much?

Turning away from the person who is getting paid and focusing solely on the player is the very essence of Mamba VS. Kobe. There are two sides to every player. We aren’t obligated to center our attention to the “Kobe” side of things but it’s worth taking a look at from time to time.

The way we behave as fans isn’t wrong. We are the ones who pay to watch the games live on television or in the arena. We buy the products they endorse. We also buy their narrative. We accept them into our lives wearing the jersey that we love so dearly. The jersey, however, does come off. The lights do go down and all that is left is a person who we haven’t actually met, or paid any attention to.

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