Archive for the ‘Basketball’ Tag

The Boston Celtics end the 2016-17 Season on top of the East; Playoffs begin April 15   Leave a comment

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Here are the 16 teams that made the cut. The Heat became the odd team out in the East with the Pacers and Bulls both winning their final games of the season. The Celtics clinched the top spot in the East tonight after the Cavs lost their final game of the season (LBJ, JR Smith and Kevin Love all sat out the game). The Celtics, on the other hand won their last game and yes Isaiah Thomas played (LOL!).

Like the last two years, it’s question of who can upset the Warriors and the Cavs–the odds-on favorites to return to the NBA Finals for the third year in a row–which as of right now appears to be nobody. Remember: The Cavs went full-power and curb-stomped the Celtics in Boston last week just to assert their dominence in the East and remind everyone they are the defending NBA Champions. It quickly made you forget the fact the Celtics beat both the Cavs and Warriors on the road last season (Ending the Warriors’ then 34-game win streak in the process).

Speaking of the home team, at the very least they should make it out of the first round this year. It pleases me greatly to know the third overall pick of the 2016-17 NBA Draft–Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown–will be going to the NBA Playoffs while Brandon Ingram (LA Lakers) and Ben Simmons (76ers), who were drafted ahead of him will watch the playoffs from home. I delight in the irony given the 2016-17 draft was viewed as a 2-man draft in referral to Simmons and Ingram. Simmons got hurt during the preseason and missed most of the season while mismanagement within the Lakers front office ensured they would have a losing record once again. LOL.

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….Back to talking about Celtics Basketball though.

Despite the criticism the Celtics received for “only” getting Al Horford, keeping two of their six Draft picks (Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier) and stashing the three they kept in Europe or the D-League (Ben Bentil, Gerchon Jabusele and Ante Zizic) the Celtics are in the same position they were last year: Having the assets to literally get anyone they want.

Looking at the playoff picture (and assuming Avery Bradley doesn’t get hurt like he did the last two years LOL), they should get past the Bulls in 5 or 6 games. It helps they have Homecourt advantage. This will make it the first time the Celtcs get out of the first round since Brad Stevens became head coach of the team (falling to the Hawks the last two straight years).

The Wizards are predicted to advance to the second round so they would play the Celtics after their series with the Hawks. The Raptors and Cavs will have their rematch of last year’s ECF in the second round. The Celtics would be looking to get some revenge on John Wall and Bradley Beal in the Second round series. If the Celtics can get past the Wizards in the second round they’ll likely face the Cavs in the ECF.

…Celtics vs. Cavs in the ECF would be a huge draw =O

Once the NBA Playoffs ends, the big question to be asked is “Will the Celtics pull the trigger on getting a superstar this time?!” Only Danny Ainge knows. Many signs point to yes ^_^

As Paul Pierce plays his final game in Boston, the future of the Celtics is bright   Leave a comment

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…Paul Pierce and Isaiah Thomas. One is sure to have his number added to the rafters after he retires. The other is primed to lead the Celtics to their 18th NBA Championship. This is the first time since the 1980s that the future of the Celtics isn’t in doubt.

Who could have imagined the Len Bias incident would have seen the Celtics drop out of the playoff picture for almost a decade? When Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish retired (1993, 1994 and 1996) and when Reggie Lewis died in 1995, there were serious questions as to weather or not the team could return to who they once were. The ill-fated Rick Pitino era–and then the now-imfamous “Larry Bird is not walking through that door” jab on his way out after failing to lead the Celtics back to the playoffs–made the possability of a 17th Championship feel more and more like a faraway dream.

Then the Celtics signed Paul Pierce in 1999. Three years later Danny Ainge hired Doc Rivers, who led the Celtics to the 2nd Round of the NBA Playoffs in his first year as Head Coach of the Celtics (2002). The untimely death of legendary Celtics coach Red Aurbach (8 Championships in 10 years) in 2006 reminded the team that although they were getting good, they weren’t good enough to contend with the then emerging superstar LeBron James or the favorite to return to the NBA Finals, the Detroit Pistons.

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So, during the summer of 2007 Danny Ainge pulled the trigger on a trade that brought Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Gerald Green (who is now back with the Celtics this year) and 3 other young players. A few weeks later, the Celtics signed Free Agent Ray Allen. Just like that, the Celtics were now contenders going into the 2007-08 NBA Season. 1 year later, the Celtics woyld raise Banner 17 to the rafters.

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As the last and most beloved member of what was then The New Big 3 prepares to retire, the Celtics firmly control their own destiny. Isaiah Thomas, who was drafted last in the 2nd round of the 2010 NBA Draft is 2nd in Points Per Game behind Russell Westbrook this year. He became the first Celtic since Paul Pierce back in 2006 to score 50+ points in a game in December. He has had SEVERAL 40+ games since mid-December including Friday’s win over the Lakers.

I haven’t even gotten to the supporting cast: You’ve got Al Horford (signed with Boston during the offseason), Avery Bradey (when he returns from injury), Terry Rozier and 1st Round Draft Pick Jaylen Brown (A workhorse with LeBron James’ basketball IQ). You also have Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder, Jonas Jerebko and Kelly Olynik.

There’s also the Brooklyn Nets picks from the trade that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from Boston to Brooklyn. Looks like the Celtics are primed to hit it BIG in the next draft to boot: Last year’s draft was just about Ben Simmons (missed half the season with an injury) and Brandon Ingram but Jaylen Brown’s been having one hell of season. Don’t even get me started on the NBA Players who have come up in conversation for a possible trade to Boston before the deadline.

…Getting back to The Truth, he ended his final appearance in Boston with a streak that would remain unbroken: He has scored a basket in every game he’s ever played in The Garden. Fitting that Paul Pierce would score the final basket and his only basket of the game. It would not be enough as the Celtics would go on to win the game 107-102. The three-pointer was more of a token from the home team, who gave him the wide open shot. No doubt the “We want Paul Pierce!” chants during most of the fourth quarter will be a moment he will never forget. As many have said, you can be sure Celtics fans will see more of The Truth after he retires as a player.

 

Speaking of Basketball, let’s talk NBA All Star Weekend   Leave a comment

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It’s just two months away and is the second-biggest sporting event of the first quarter of the year behind the Super Bowl. All Star Weekend is both a celebration of the love of the game and the halfway point of the NBA season. It is also when the trade deadline expires. Although Charlotte was originally chosen to host All Star Weekend 2017, the event was moved to New Orleans in protest of North Carlolina’s controversial Anti-LGBT bill HB-02. Said bill will likely be repealed since the governor who signed it into law lost his job earlier this week. LOL.

Moving on.

Here are my picks for who I think will make Team East or should.

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Starters:

  1. C – Al Horford (Celtics)
  2. F – LeBron James (Cavs)
  3. F – Carmello Anthony (Knicks)
  4. G – Dwyane  Wade (Bulls)
  5.  G – DeMar DeRozan (Raptors)

Bench:

  1. F/G – Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks)
  2. F – Paul George (Pacers)
  3. C – Dwight Howard (Hawks)
  4. G – Isaiah Thomas (Celtics)
  5. G – Avery Bradley (Celtics)
  6. C/F – Andre Drummond (Pistons)
  7. F – Jimmy Butler (Bulls)
  8.  G – JR Smith (Cavs)*
  9.  F -Kevin Love (Cavs)
  10. G – Anthony Davis (Pelicans)

Alternates (due to injury, etc.):

  • G – Derrick Rose (Knicks)
  • F/C – Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks)
  • G – Rajon Rondo (Bulls)
  • C – Hassan Whiteside (Heat)
  • G – John Wall (Wizards)

* Out with an injury, may not be back in time for the All Star Game.

…Yes, I think 3 Celtics and 3 Cavs could make the East Squad this year. Horford or Drummond would start but Horford will likely start. The other four starters are pretty likely to happen exactly as shown. The Alternates are basically in the event someone gets injured. Both Wall and Davis are basically being held hostage by bad teams (LOL!). I just put them on the team out of pity.

Antetokounmpo is on the team in part to mess with the announcers and broadcasters who will have to learn to say his name (It’s pronounced “Ah-tee-toe-coon-po”). Seriously though he deserves a slot. IT4 will make the cut barring an injury. I also think Avery Bradley will make his All Star debut this year but could be replaced by D-Rose.

 

…Now, on to Team West.

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Starters:

  1. C – Karl-Anthony Towns (T-Wolves)
  2. F – Kevin Durant (Warriors)
  3. F – Kawhi Leonard (Spurs)
  4. G – Steph Curry (Warriors)
  5. G – Russell Westbrook (Thunder)

Bench:

  1. F – Draymond Green (Warriors)
  2. G – Klay Thompson (Warriors)
  3. G – James Harden (Rockets)
  4. F – Blake Griffin (Clippers)*
  5. G – Chris Paul (Clippers)
  6. F – Paul Pierce (Clippers)
  7. C – DeAndre Jordan (Clippers)
  8. G – Tony Parker (Spurs)
  9. C – DeMarcus Cousins (Kings)
  10. G – Zach LaVine (T-Wolves)

Alternates:

  • C – Andrew Bogut (Mavs)
  • C – Steven Adams (Thunder)
  • G – D’Angelo Russell (Lakers)
  • F- LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  • G/F – Vince Carter (Grizzlies)

* Out with an injury, may not be back in time for the All Star Game.

 

…Not gonna lie, filling in the bench was much easier compared to the East. I threw in Paul Pierce since it’s his last season (according to him and Doc Rivers, anyway). Playing better than he has been so far would certainly help him get enough votes to make the team. The 5 starters felt pretty obvious to me but Jordan could start, too. I struggled a bit finding the Alternates though.

Overall, I would be very surprised if none of the listed players make the final cut. The starters are locked in for sure though. Green and Thompson are getting rubber stamped in of course. Same with Griffin and CP3.

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…Of course, I’m gonna end with my predictions for who will be in the Slam Dunk Contest this time around.

We already know Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon will be back. After the show they put on last year, expectations have been raised. Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown should be expected to make the cut as well: Brown has brought the dunking back to Boston and in a big way. Could this be the year we see LeBron James quit procrastinating and FINALLY enter the dunk contest? Or will we see former champions Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin or even Vince Carter return for another shot at the trophy? Let the speculation commence!

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Footlocker releases Space Jam-themed commercial   Leave a comment

The commercial, which lasts almost two minutes features Blake Griffin, Jimmy Butler, Buggs Bunny and the Monstars.

Here is the full commercial:

It’s been airing on TV for about a week now. The TV spots run for 3o to 45 seconds. The ad serves a secondary purpose in addition to advertising both the original 1996 movie and the featured gear: Space Jam 2 is in the works. The announcement was made earlier this year. This ad will be remembered when the first trailer for Space Jam 2 is eventually released.

The only NBA player confirmed to be in the movie so far is LeBron James. As for why Blake Griffiin and Jimmy Butler were tapped for this ad, they both have a licensing deal with Nike. Speaking of, LeBron James has a lifetime licensing deal with Nike. Weather or not their appearance is the ad means anything in regards to Space Jam 2 remains to be seen.

Footage from the original 1996 movie was used for the animated Monstars scenes. In the first movie, the Monstars stole the basketball skills of Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Shawn Bradley and Muggsy Bogues to challenge the Looney Tunes to a basketball game. In response, the Looney Tunes recruit the recently retired Michael Jordan to lead the team to victory.

See my previous post on Space Jam 2 for my picks on which NBA Players should be in the sequel!

 

 

Kevin Garnett announces his retirement from the NBA   Leave a comment

 

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The 21-year NBA Veteran and All Star announced his retirement a short time ago. Speculation towards KG calling it a career began yesterday when it was revealed the T-Wolves–the NBA Team his began and ended his career with–bought out the rest of his contract with the team. While KG will retire as a beloved member of the team he played his first 12 straight seasons with (1995-2007), he will always been remembered for his legendary performance as the heart and soul of the 2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics. The Celtics came up short in their rematch against the LA Lakers the following year in the NBA Finals but even after he left Boston a few years later, Celtics fans will never forget all that he did for the team and the city to raise the franchise’s first championship banner in 22 years.

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…The timing is very interesting given Paul Pierce announced he would be retiring after the 2016-17 NBA season. Pierce, who played his first 15 seasons with the Celtics (1997-2012) has been the subject of speculation given LA Clippers President and Head Coach Doc Rivers–who himself led the Celtics to their 17th NBA Championship and is a former Celtics player himself–has expressed a desire for The Truth to retire as a member of the Boston Celtics. The obvious assumption is Pierce will sign a 1-day contract but Pierce being shipped back to Boston is a real possability.

The other former member of the New Big 3 Ray “The King of Threes” Allen (Holds all-time NBA record for 3-pointers made) announced over the summer he is looking to return to the NBA this coming season. The Free Agent, who last played for the Miami Heat (winning a ring with the Heat as well as the one he got with the Celtics) has been talking to the Bucks and Celtics–both teams he’s played for in the past. When asked why he is returning after being absent for a few years he replied “This is why I never retired”, which clearly means he has enough gas left in the tank to go at least one more season. The Celtics being the only team that has the money to sign him aside, whichever team takes him will be a contender in the playoffs: He rarely has bad days when he’s behind the line so…yeah.

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Since I’m talking about Basketball, I feel the need to comment on Miami Heat star Chris Bosh’s situation. As many NBA fans are aware, Bosh missed most of the last two seasons due to a serious medical issue. It was announced this morning he was not cleared by the team’s medical staff. This is a situation in which the team is legit trying to protect the player. The player is Chris Bosh, who is married and has 5 children. Former team mate and Chicago Bulls player Dwayne Wade released a statement via social media imploring his friend to keep his family in mind regardless of what he decides to do next.

Miami Heat All Star Alonzo Mourning’s career came to an end 14 years ago due to health-related issues. While it wasn’t career-ending, Mourning elected to retire rather than shorten his lifespam. Celtics fans may remember Reggie Lewis, who died suddenly in 1995 from an undiagnosed heart condition. Here we a situation where enough info is known about Bosh’s health to know NO TEAM would be willing to take the chance of allowing him to play for them. They wouldn’t want the responsability and have the support of the Players Association (the NBA Players’ Union), who will certainly advise Bosh to retire.

Two Unarmed Black Men Gunned Down by Law Enforcement within 48 Hours   Leave a comment

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Alton Sterling and Philandro Castlile. Two unarmed African American men who were killed by Law Enforcement. In the case of Mr. Sterling, his execution was recorded by multiple cameras as it happened. In the case of Mr. Castile, he was killed simply for following the officer’s instructions. His girlfriend, who was in the car along with their 4-year old daughter livestreamed from there. Speaking of Mr. Sterling’ murder:

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It’s EXTREMELY important to point out the last 3 lines in his particular case: Not only should the Department of Justice be involved with both cases but so should the National Rifle Association. They preach about the rights of Gun Owners. A licensed gun owner was just killed by police in the case of Mr. Castile. If they want the good PR they can get from this, this will get involved. LOL. Louisiana is an open carry state and Minnesota allows concealed carry. I can’t think of a good reason for the NRA to not be involved with both cases.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton called it right this afternoon when he said if Mr. Sterling was not Black, he wouldn’t have died. President Obama put out a statement on Facebook this afternoon on both shootings saying they are not isolated incidents but indicative of a larger, older nationwide problem that needs to be addressed.

A Bullet from Being a Hashtag

…I set this pcture as my Facebook profile picture as a form of silent protest. America has both a Black Lives Don’t Matter problem and an No Gun Uontrol problem. Most might not be aware of care about this but most of Europe and many other countries have issued travel advisories for their citizens visiting the U.S. BECAUSE OF our gun problem. The rest the world just can’t understand why despite the overwhelming public support for common sense gun legislation, our government refuses to do anything about it. At the same time, there are so many who look for every excuse they can think of to not acknowledge that as a society, America fears African American men and boys.

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As many of you know, I’ve worked in Boston Classrooms for the last 14 years. Something I would like to do starting at the end of the next school year is speak to high school students and more specifically, male graduates of color. I want to look them in the eye and tell them what they didn’t learn in grade school and what they won’t learn in college: How to live with their dignity. I feel it is more important now than ever for black male role models to mentor students, helping them become emotionally and mentally prepared for what might come their way one day.

I live in a state where for almost 20 years, weather you went to jail or not was decided by a test you took in the 3rd, 8th or 10th grade. Students were not allowed to graduate unless they passed this test. I was one the lucky ones: I was part of the last graduating class that didn’t have this test as a graduation requirement. I had the displeasure of knowing many students–most of whom were black or hispanic–who failed this test.

Those who complete their other graduation requirements but fail this test are given a Graduation Certificate, which does nothing for them. It just means they’re no longer the district’s problem. Most end up having to take GED classes as a workaround if they want a high school diploma. It’s very doable. My brother for life Marco Palmarin did it during while doing the City Year program in 2005.

Having taught GED courses at a summer school program for a summer, I can tell you it’s not easy. Even so, students take the classes because they know important it is. What’s scary is this test was used to racially profile children: Experts could determine as early as the third Grade if a student would end up in jail later in life based on how they did. Try to imagine how scary that is not just for the student to know that but their parents. This is what happens when our children are turned into nothing but numbers for the profits of test making companies.

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The death of Philandro Castile and the immediate aftermath, which the whole world saw in real time is just a glipse of what is a painful reality for African American families. NO OTHER DEMOGRAPHIC has to sit down with their kids and have The Talk in regards to how they should interact with Law Enforcement. While I have not personally had this kind of conversation with either of my parents or other male relatives growing up, it is something I have been keenly aware of from an early age.

Looking at the historical relevance, the behavior blacks are expected to exercise in the presence of law enforcement is eerily similar to that of a black slave and their white slave owners/overseers.  The feelings are the same: Weather you follow the unwritten rules and expectations or not, your next destination will either be the precinct or the morgue. No one should have to feel that way.

I have a 5 month old nephew, a 4 year old nephew and a 7 year old niece. Honestly, I’m more worried about my nephews becoming victims of black on black crime than I am either of them being killed by law enforcement. Even so, it’s a conversation that will happen with both of them once they’re both a little older. I plan to talk to their father about it at some point this weekend.

In closing, I’ll leave you with this video I finally uploaded in May but will now have to revise. Due to the profanity in parts of the video, viewer discretion is advised.

 

…The racists and biggots wasted no time coming up to excuses to justify both shootings. As is often the case, they are quick to point to the vicitim’s rap sheet as “justification” for the killings. As President Obama said this evening on the subject, this is NOT a police problem. This is a society problem we can no longer stay silent on as a country.

..Besides, it’s not like we’re not asking for what is already promised to ALL Americans by the US Constitution. Just to be treated equally in the eyes of both the law AND society. We can no longer seek one. We must seek both.

Free Agent Kevin Durant sign 2-year 54 $Million Contract with the Golden State Warriors   Leave a comment

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…After keeping 6 teams waiting, NBA All-Star Kevin Durant announced a bit under an hour ago to a 2-year 54 $Million Contract with the Golden State Warriors. The terms of the contract include a player option after the first year. This more or less guarantees Golden State will be contenders for the NBA Finals next year. The last 48 hours were nerve-wracking for the 6 teams and their fans that were courting him. No doubt it’s a much bigger blow to Oklahoma City fans, who hoped he would resign with the team for a bit longer. The fact that KD decided to leave is pretty indicative of what former Thunder Teammate Russell Westbrook’s plans after next season will be. The Thunder’s remaining superstar will become a free agent after the next season. No doubt other teams will be pulling out all the stop get him.

In regards to the Celtics, they’re still in a much better position than they were 48 hours ago with just the Al Horford signing. They can also still sign another max contract player. The Kevin Durant Sweepstakes may be over but there are still plenty of Free Agents still available that will allow the Celtics to challenge LBJ and the Cavs. Pao Gasol, who’s won a few titles with the Lakers is on their radar. Now that the Bulls have signed Rajon Rondo, it might be much easier for the Celtics to get Jimmy Butler in a trade. There is also DeMarcus Cousins, who the Kings would be happy to drop like a bad habit.

…Anywho, I’m gonna take a break from the Celtics offseason news for a few months. Nothing’s set in stone and I feel all I’ll be doing is speculating like I have been during the KD Sweepstakes. LOL.

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