What Steph Curry Taught Me About Manhood and Stability

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It took Steph Curry’s domination of the NBA for me to fully realize the power and masculinity of stability.

As an athlete – at the high school, college and professional level – I bought the locker-room myth that chaos and struggle molded the most indestructible on-field warrior.

The narrative pervasive throughout black-jock culture goes something like this: “The toughest and most hungry players come from the struggle, the bottom. If you match up a kid from the suburbs and one from the ‘hood, the suburban kid can’t win because he’s not tough enough and doesn’t have the fight and desire as the other guy. You can’t be the toughest or the strongest without the struggle of a broken home and socioeconomic disadvantage. Street cred and the fear it provokes are important weapons. Good guys finish last in sports, too.”

As a man and professional athlete, you are always trying to be the alpha dog. Every man wants to be the biggest and baddest dude around. We want respect, credibility, clout, and money. In my life, the recipe for being alpha dog could be summed up in one quote: “Men do what they want. Boys do what they can.”

It’s a selfish mentality that can lead to sexual promiscuity and baby-mama drama, the abuse of alcohol and drugs, and irresponsible personal and financial decisions. The alpha-dog mentality certainly enhances your athletic-performance swagger. It makes you think you can accomplish all things through arrogance.

Derek Jeter is the exception, not the rule. His playing career seemed to be enhanced by remaining America’s top bachelor throughout his legendary baseball career. He managed to remain a bachelor and a gentleman.

But maybe the better path for athletes is choosing stability and a traditional home life? That’s what I believe I’m learning from Steph Curry. My favorite quote and life mantra – “Men do what they want” – is a path to hell? If not, it’s at least a path to not reaching your full potential personally or athletically.

I lived the dream of a professional athlete, but the mentality that got me there led me down a dangerous path.

How else do you explain a 6-foot-3 beanpole who couldn’t land a major scholarship being one of the best basketball players on the planet?

I believe Steph does what he wants on the court because off the court he’s remarkably grounded and stable.

Curry met his wife at a church function and married at just age 24. The absolute last thing I wanted to be at 24 was tied down to one woman and some sort of daily routine. I actually thought it would get in the way of achieving the respect I desired and that stability had no effect on my career. I now look at Curry’s life with his wife and his daughter’s famous press-conference appearances and wonder what the hell I was thinking.

Steph has defined himself as a man of faith, a loving husband, a devoted father, as well as an MVP basketball player and champion. Notice the order? Notice the priority? Curry focused on organizing his life properly, realizing this would help him organize his career properly. His life is consistent, his priorities are in order, and he realizes his purpose inside and outside of the NBA.

Deep down, I knew better.

I grew up in church and a two-parent home and the person I looked up to the most was a man of stability and integrity: My dad. I always admired the Tony Dungy’s and Kurt Warner’s of the world, but couldn’t reconcile the life I wanted with the life I created. When I was in the NFL, I chased alpha dog status and unwittingly created chaos. It was my drug. I juggled women and juggled all the drama that goes with that lifestyle. I had to be in the clubs with my boys. I thought those things would bring me happiness and I actually believed you reaffirmed your alpha dog status by being able to deal with drama. Stability was boring. I was a fool.

Steph Curry Warriors Man NBA

Steph Curry doesn’t fit the stereotypes of a superstar athlete, and that’s precisely what makes him so great.

Stability and consistency only help your life and make your life better. I have learned that in my own life. Even after I was done playing in the NFL, my life was unstable and chaotic. I didn’t even realize it. I had normalized chaos. I existed in a reality where lack of consistency was the routine.

I was failing in life personally. I was in and out of relationships and creating instability for my children. I was depressed. I reached a crossroads because of injuries and moving away from football. My mother always told me: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you always got.” This made me return to my faith, and focus on rebuilding myself into the man I wanted to be.

I began to remove the chaos from my life and stopped trying to be the alpha dog and prove to everyone I was the man. I had to prioritize what I wanted in life and anything that wasn’t helping me achieve my goals had to go. When I changed, everything around me changed. My second career started to blossom. I got married. I embraced routine. Knowing what’s going to happen on a day-to-day basis and having that anchor of character and faith have been paramount to transforming my life. I am in no way perfect and still make mistakes. However, I can say with certainty that when I veer away from character and faith guiding my life, bad things happen. And when things start going left personally, I can attest that it impacts every area of your life.

Choosing the path of high integrity and character is difficult. It’s a struggle that builds toughness. That’s what I see in Steph Curry. He is one of the toughest guys I have ever seen on and off the court. He’s a hero. He’s a superhero. He’s a role model for kids, and grown men, too. He faces every temptation from complacency, hubris, sex, and drugs on a daily basis but he still stays focused and keeps his priorities in order. If you regularly fall into the traps of life, are you strong and tough? Or is the guy who stares them in the face daily and does the right thing the alpha dog?

It appears Curry doesn’t believe the lie. I bought the lie. Every now and then I catch myself making a comment that shows I am still a work in progress. I’m still battling a mentality that haunted me from childhood. I was a private school kid for most of my life, and guys I played with thought I was soft because of how I spoke and because I was “too nice.” I made poor decisions trying to disprove the thinking of small-minded individuals. Let me be clear. I loved my teammates. They were good guys. They were simply caught in the same culture and mindset I was.

The thinking is a bunch of garbage. Character trumps everything. I’ve seen rich kids who are the hardest workers and the most competitive. I have also seen people with special talents who didn’t have two nickels to rub together be extremely lazy. Your character and intestinal fortitude determine your toughness, competitiveness, and level of achievement as well as your ability to maintain it.

I’m glad Steph Curry is redefining for me and others how a real alpha dog handles his business. He puts a different spin on men doing what they want. Steph is doing EXACTLY what he wants, and he is the man.

The more men we have in this world, the better our future will be.

Ranking the NBA Superstar Duos for the 2019-20 NBA Season

NBA Superstar Duos 2019-20 season

The NBA Superteam Era is dead. Kawhi Leonard made sure of this when he dismantled the Golden State Warriors and rejected Lebron James’ attempts to lure him to the Los Angeles Lakers. The landscape has shifted to “Super Duos,” with players now desiring to team up with friends or individuals who complement their skills and can share superstar duties. Here’s a look at the NBA’s best “Superstar Duos” heading into the 2019-20 NBA Season:

Tier 3 – The “Up and Comers” NBA Player Duos

12. Devin Booker / Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns)

In their first season together, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton led the Phoenix Suns to 19 wins. The Los Angeles Lakers went 31-19 when Kobe joined Shaq in the starting lineup during the 1998-99 lockout-shortened season. Though Booker and Ayton aren’t quite “Shaq and Kobe 2.0” status, both are extremely talented individuals who should create a formidable inside-outside combination for years to come. With a full year under their belt and improvement at the head coaching position, the 2019-20 NBA Season should bring improved chemistry and many more wins.

11. Luka Doncic / Kristaps Porzingis (Dallas Mavericks)

Dallas Mavericks NBA Superstar Duos
Luka Doncic
Credit: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis haven’t played a single game together but are already expected to form the best pick and pop tandem in the league. Porzingis has spent the entirety of his Dallas Mavericks’ career admiring the 2018-19 Rookie of the Year, but the “Unicorn” will need to make an immediate impression if the Mavericks hope to make an impact in the Western Conference. This duo’s success depends on how well Porzingis recovers from a torn ACL that will have sidelined him for close to 20 months once the 2019 NBA Season begins. Charles Barkley expects this pair to turn into the greatest “one-two punch… for the next 10 years.”

Tier 2 – The “Star” NBA Duos

10. Giannis Antetokounmpo / Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks)

Despite being selected to the 2019 Eastern Conference All-Star team, many still aren’t sold on Khris Middleton as a max player. This pair’s position is propped by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s supernova athletic ability. But Middleton’s capability as a three-point shooter (career 39%) carries great value when paired with Antetokounmpo’s slashing playmaking. Middleton contributes in a number of ways and is the perfect teammate for Antetokounmpo’s needs.

9. Donovan Mitchell / Mike Conley Jr. (Utah Jazz)

Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley Jr. are no “Stockton and Malone,” but the two have the opportunity to create their own legacy as the next great Utah Jazz duo. Conley’s experience with the “Grit and Grind” Memphis Grizzlies will be vital in helping Donovan Mitchell take the next leap in a competitive Western Conference.

8. Damian Lillard / CJ McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers)

The 2019-20 NBA Season may be the last time we see this version of the Portland Trail Blazers. Though they reached the Western Conference Finals, the Golden State Warriors made quick work of the Blazers in 4 games. Damian Lillard recently signed a 4 year / $191 Million supermax extension and CJ McCollum is entering the penultimate season of his rookie extension. If this duo is unable to take another step in a much more open NBA landscape, 2019-20 may be the last season they share duties in the Blazers backcourt.

7. Nikola Jokic / Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets)

Nikola Jokic is a perennial MVP candidate and Jamal Murray has shown consistent improvement throughout his first three years in the league. Denver Nuggets’ Coach Mike Malone has described this twosome’s chemistry as “almost romantic” in describing the ways this pairing plays off each other in their uniquely styled offense. The top pairing under-25, this dynamic duo has the potential to keep the Denver Nuggets atop the Western Conference for years to come.

6. Joel Embiid / Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers)

This is the rare combination in which the big man has the better outside game that his perimeter counterpart. In order for this duo to take the next step into the tier below, Ben Simmons will need to make a significant improvement to (or at least develop) his jump shot to help create spacing for Joel Embiid down low. The 76ers are primed to be the best team in the Eastern Conference for years to come, but such success hinges on how Embiid and Simmons are able to harmonize on the hardwood.

Tier 1 – The “Elite” NBA Superstar Duos

5. James Harden / Russell Westbrook (Houston Rockets)

News of this trade sent social media in a whirlwind, with many asking the same question: is one ball enough? A lot has changed since James Harden and Russell Westbrook played together in Oklahoma City; Harden has blossomed from a mini-bearded Sixth Man of The Year, while Westbrook has grown accustomed to leading-man duties. But you don’t pass up on pairing two MVPs in their prime. While this fit may be questionable, the sheer talent of this NBA superstar duo alone is worth the gamble.

4. Kevin Durant / Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets)

Kevin Durant Kyrie Irving NBA Superstar Duos

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving had been plotting to team up since 2018. Unfortunately, they may have to wait to see their dream come to fruition while Kevin Durant rehabs from a torn Achilles suffered in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Durant and Irving have reached the pinnacle of success while playing roles in other legendary duos. With the Brooklyn Nets now the forefront of New York basketball, this duo will have the chance to cement their place in basketball lore by bringing an NBA Championship to the Big Apple.

3. Steph Curry / Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)

The 2019-20 NBA Season will be a gap year for the “Splash Brothers.” With Klay Thompson recovering from a torn ACL that should sideline him for the majority of the season, Steph Curry will be left to man the ship with his temporary replacement, D’Angelo Russell. Despite Thompson’s injury, this duo’s success should place them above every other combination on this list; however, the moves that took place this offseason have this Warriors’ combo embracing their newfound underdog role.

2. Lebron James / Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers)

1. Kawhi Leonard / Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers)

NBA Best players Lakers and Clipper
Credit: Clutchpoints Podcast

The Los Angeles “Superstar Duos” is the result of blockbuster moves each team made this offseason. The Lakers paired two top-five players by acquiring Anthony Davis to team up with Lebron James. But the Clippers’ one-upped their in-town rival by signing two-time NBA finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who has staked his claim as the best player in the league. And with his recruitment of Paul George, Leonard paired himself with an elite superstar who has no problem taking control of both ends of the floor. All roads now run through the Staples Center and the battle for Los Angeles is to sure to result in many “epic” matchups between these two for years to come.

Follow Alan Wilmot on Twitter and Instagram @alanwilmotlaw

Delayed, Not Dead: How The Warriors Dynasty Can Return To Prominence

Golden State Warriors dynasty

Injuries and the free agency status of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson put the future of the Golden State Warriors up in the air. However, with healthy recoveries and a solid core, the dynasty may not be over just yet.

The worst case scenario happened again for the Golden State Warriors. With a little over two minutes left in the third quarter, Klay Thompson went up for a dunk and landed awkwardly on his left knee. At this moment, Klay was the best player on the floor with 28 points. It was typical “Game 6 Klay.” However, once Thompson slammed the floor and agonized in pain, something was terribly wrong. The dynasty was in trouble.

Despite stretching, jumping around, and making two emotional free throws, all hope was lost when Thompson went to the back and could not return to the game. 72 hours after Durant’s season ended due to a ruptured Achilles, Thompson was done for the year as well with a torn ACL. Despite leading the game when Klay exited, the ending was inevitable. Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors prevailed in Game 6, 114-110, to win the NBA Championship.

What seemed like an inevitability at the beginning of the season became an impossibility once KD and Klay suffered horrific injuries. Injuries happen so credit the Raptors for taking advantage of the depleted Warriors. They flexed their dominance and earned this title. Now, the future remains uncertain for Golden State. Durant can opt out and become a free agent and will most likely miss the entirety of next season. Thompson is a free agent and won’t be able to return until next winter or spring. Without those two stars, can Steph Curry and Draymond Green handle the scoring load? Although it was a small sample size, Curry and Green both struggled at times especially late in games when both KD and Klay were out. The question on everyone’s mind revolves around the Warriors’ dynasty. Is it dead?

Dynasties tend to end abruptly. After winning two straight championships, the “Bad Boys” Pistons lost to Michael Jordan and the Bulls in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals and did not win a playoff series until 2002. Speaking of Jordan, the 90s Bulls won six titles. After defeating the Jazz in the 1998 NBA Finals, Jordan retired, Phil Jackson resigned, Scottie Pippen was traded, and the Bulls didn’t win a playoff series for almost a decade. Does this loss to the Raptors signify the end of the Warriors’ dynasty?

Let’s state the obvious. Steph Curry is a three-time NBA Champion and two-time MVP. Draymond Green is a three-time NBA Champion and a former Defensive Player of the Year. They are not falling off a cliff. Despite long recoveries in their future, Brian Windhorst said that the Warriors plan to offer both Klay and KD max contracts this offseason.

Bob Myers cried his eyes out while announcing Durant’s Achilles injury. I appreciate the passion and love for a player, but let’s not act as though Durant died. KD is going to come back in two seasons. Whether or not he’ll be the best player in the world again is up in the air, but I’m confident that Durant will become a prolific scorer again when he returns. The same goes for Klay. Thompson showed that he’s a freak athlete and competitor when he returned to shoot the free throws on a torn ACL. Expect Thompson to undergo a full recovery and return sometime next March.

The elephant in the room revolves around their free agency. Will Klay or KD leave the Warriors this offseason? I’m inclined to believe that Klay will resign with the Warriors for a max contract. It’s hard to believe that Klay won’t want to continue playing with his fellow Splash Brother. Durant’s status is up-in-the-air. Durant has been rumored to sign with the Knicks for months now. The Knicks and a few other teams will most likely still offer Durant a max contract, but the injury makes a return to the Warriors more possible than ever. Durant can either sign a max contract with the Warriors or opt into the final year of his current deal and become a free agent after next season.

The long-term dynasty might still have a chance, but next season is going to be a struggle. The Warriors glaring weakness this year was their lack of depth on the bench. However, when you have most of your money tied up in four players, creating a bench full of depth can be tough. Even if both Klay and DK both resign with the Warriors, they are not going to play for most of, if not all of next season. For as great as Steph Curry is, without any offensive help, it will be difficult to win games if he’s the singular piece for opposing defenses to guard. For as versatile as Draymond is, 7.4 points per game average is not a viable number two option. Who can the Warriors sign to make up the difference? Steph, Draymond, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston are all under contract next season. Demarcus Cousins is open to returning, but without a lot of cap flexibility, it may be difficult especially if Cousins has a high asking price.

The Warriors dynasty may also be in trouble due to the potential shift in the competitive balance. If Kawhi Leonard signs with the Clippers, he automatically elevates them to a playoff contender. A healthy LeBron James will return to the Lakers and if they trade for Anthony Davis, the Lakers will be the favorite to come out of the West. The Rockets are still a force. Plus, the Thunder, Nuggets, Blazers, Jazz, and Spurs should all be in the mix for the playoffs. Simply put, the Western Conference is a juggernaut. Unlike the previous five seasons, Golden State will have to fight hard for a playoff spot next year.

The five straight appearances in the finals might come to an end next season, but don’t be so quick to declare the dynasty, “dead.” The Warriors will need to develop a stronger bench, but thankfully, they still have one of the best President of Basketball Operations in the league, Bob Myers, to build a roster. The Warriors still have Steve Kerr, who is in the upper echelon of NBA coaches. If Golden State can at least resign Klay, the core of Steph, Draymond, and Klay will continue to be one of the best combinations in the game. Plus, you never know if Durant will change his mind about leaving and come back to the Warriors.

The Golden State Warriors will take their lumps next season, but don’t expect them to die. Push the pause button and wait a season. The dynasty is delayed, not dead.

NBA Finals 2019: Warriors Vs. Raptors Preview And Prediction

After the dust has settled, two teams remain in the Warriors and Raptors. The Warriors were expected to be here while the Raptors were not necessarily the top choice out of the East. The Warriors are going for four titles in five years, but the narrative is not around their play on the court, but rather, the player that they’re missing in Kevin Durant. The Raptors one year gamble on Kawhi Leonard paid off as they reached their first NBA Finals ever. Can the Warriors win a championship without Durant? Can Kawhi slay the defending champs? Here are my preview and prediction for the NBA Finals 2019: Warriors vs. Raptors.

Biggest Storyline

Where Will Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard end up in the offseason?: Not to take anything away from this series, but the biggest storyline is the impending free agency decisions for Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard. I compare it to going to the beach and seeing a dark cloud on the horizon. You should enjoy the beach, but all you can think about is the storm that’s on its way. Both Durant and Leonard have been rumored to be leaving Golden State and Toronto respectively for almost a year. If Durant doesn’t play at all, does that signify he’s leaving the Warriors? If Kawhi wins the title, does that make him more inclined to stay? Both questions will be asked after every game this series no matter what happens.

X-Factors

Kevin Durant’s Calf: It’s not every day that the best player in the game is an x-factor, but that’s exactly the case here. Kevin Durant has been sidelined the past five games with a strained right calf and will miss Game 1. Most teams would falter without their best player. The Warriors aren’t like most teams as they have gone 5-0 since Durant exited the lineup. That being said, the Warriors are a better team when Kevin Durant is on the floor. I don’t care how many games or titles the Warriors won without Durant. KD was averaging 34 points per game before his injury. Without KD, more pressure is on Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green to deliver. From a psychological standpoint, Toronto has to feel like they have a better chance of winning the series without Durant in the lineup. Can you blame them? Also, don’t forget about the health of Demarcus Cousins and Andre Iguodala. Both should play in this series at some point, but I doubt they will be 100%.

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Pascal Siakam: The real X-factor for the Raptors is Pascal Siakam. The future Most Improved Player of the Year took a monumental leap this past season. Siakam improved in almost every statistical category with the most notable advancement coming in the form of his points per game average, which increased from 7.3 to 16.9. With all of the focus going towards Kawhi, Siakam needs to be a viable scoring threat as the Raptors’ second option. More importantly, Siakam will have to contain the pick and roll between Steph Curry and Draymond Green. If Siakam can hold his own on switches against Steph, the Raptors will keep games close.

Matchups To Watch

Pick and Roll Offense versus Switching Defense

The Curry-Draymond pick and roll combo can be a nightmare for opposing defenses. If you hedge out too quickly, Steph can hit Draymond on a roll to the basket. If you sag off, Steph will have a field day from 3. Just ask the Blazers how sagging off worked. On the flip side, Kawhi Leonard has been very good in the playoffs when he runs pick and roll and has a 47.9% scoring frequency in those situations. How will both the Warriors and Raptors defend pick and rolls? I’m expecting both teams to switch on most, if not all, pick and rolls because of their versatility. Leonard, Siakam, Danny Green, and Serge Ibaka for Toronto and Thompson, Green, Durant (if he plays), and Andre Iguodala for Golden State can switch all matchups and guard all of the positions (to an extent). Whichever team is more successful with pick and roll defense will have the edge in the series.

Steph Curry vs. Kyle Lowry: Before the playoffs started, if you saw this matchup on paper, it’s a huge mismatch in favor of Curry. The “Lowry disappears in the playoffs” narrative has somewhat disappeared this postseason thanks to an improvement in Lowry’s defense and clutch shooting. That being said, Curry has been on an unreal tear since Durant’s injury. In the past five games (all Warriors wins), Curry has averaged 35.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, and 6.6 apg. Lowry cannot stop Steph, but he needs to contain him. In crunch time, do no be surprised if Kawhi is guarding Steph especially if Durant isn’t playing. If Steph dominates this matchup, the Warriors will win in 4 games.

Kawhi Leonard vs. *Insert Golden State Player*: As important as Steph Curry’s defender will be, the Warrior to guard Kawhi Leonard is just as crucial. Leonard has been unstoppable these entire playoffs with averages of 31.2 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 3.8 apg, and 1.6 spg. Good luck stopping Leonard. Luckily for Golden State, they have a few capable defenders that can guard multiple positions. Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, and Andre Igudola will all be on Leonard at some point. The plan is simple: Force Leonard to pass the ball. Expect a lot of traps to force the ball out of Leonard’s hand. As I said earlier, good luck stopping Leonard because so far, no team has slowed Kawhi down.

Gambling

The Plays: Odds via Oddshark

Steph is obviously the play to win Finals MVP since he has not won this award in any of the Warriors’ previous finals appearances during this run. However, if you’re getting Kawhi at +225, I would sprinkle some money there. The Warriors outside of Steph to watch is Klay Thompson. +800 for Klay is a steal.

For a series bet, I’m not sure how you could bet against Golden State. I firmly in the camp that the Warriors win the series, but if I’m looking for a game that the Raptors can win, it’s either Game 1 or Game 2. Since the Warriors are 18-1 SU in Game 1s of playoff series since 2015, the game to bet on the Raptors is Game 2. Plus, the current line for Game 1 is Warriors +1.5. I’m not betting against the Warriors as underdogs.

Warriors vs. Raptors Prediction

Warriors in 5: On paper, the Raptors match up well with the Warriors even with Durant on the floor. Toronto has the better bench and Leonard has been the best player in the playoffs. However, when it’s winning time in the fourth quarter, are you going to trust the team who has won three out of four titles or the team making their first finals appearance in franchise history? Look for Kawhi to go off this series, but in turn, the Warriors to neutralize the Raptors’ supporting cast. The Warriors win in five games and Steph Curry destroys the false narrative that he’s not good in the NBA Finals by winning MVP.

What are your predictions? Comment with your thoughts below or join in the conversation on Twitter@UnAfraidShow.

March Madness: Top 5 Greatest Moments In NCAA Tournament History

Greatest March Madness shots Christian Laettner

As College Basketball Insider Jon Rothstein likes to say, “This is March.” Welcome to one of the best times of the year, March Madness. For my money, the first two days of the NCAA Tournament are the two best sporting days of the year. There’s nothing better than 32 basketball games that are full of non-stop action, buzzer beaters, and the agony of defeat. I challenge you to name anything better in sports than those two days.

There are so many unforgettable March Madness moments that you began to lose track of them. It seems that every buzzer-beater gets better and better. Narrowing the list down to five is almost impossible, but I’m going to give you my most top 5 moments in NCAA Tournament History. Let the debate begin.

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5. George Mason’s Magical Run To The Final Four

https://youtu.be/NcV13jffIQE

George Mason walked so that Sister Jean could run. Before VCU, Wichita State, and Loyola Chicago made their magical runs to the Final Four; there was George Mason. In 2006, the George Mason Patriots made one of the greatest runs to the Final Four as an 11 seed. Keep in mind that George Mason did not even win their conference that year. The Patriots lost in the CAA semis to Hofstra and had to sweat it out on Selection Sunday. The committee granted George Mason with an 11 seed, and the rest was history. On their historic run, George Mason knocked off Tom Izzo, Roy Williams, Gregg Marshall, and Jim Calhoun. Beating three Hall of Fame coaches on the way to the Final Four is pretty damn impressive. It wasn’t always pretty, but George Mason’s grit and toughness overcame the odds to reach the Final Four.

4. The Legend Of Steph Curry

There’s putting on a show, and then there’s what Steph Curry did in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. Steph Curry was not on any NBA radars back in 2008. Steph was a talented shooter, but most people only recognized him because of his last name and his father, Dell, who played in the NBA. That all changed with one legendary NCAA tournament run. Look at these numbers that Steph posted in a four game stretch.

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128 points in 4 games is insane. Keep in mind that Davidson was a #10 seed and was one shot away from making the Final Four. Steph’s range and ability to create his own shot were put on full display, and NBA scouts took notice. Now, Curry is arguably the greatest shooter in the history of the NBA. It all started with a magical run in the tournament.

3. Kris Jenkins Wins The National Championship For Villanova

Not all buzzer beaters are created equal. Winning in the first round from a buzzer beater is cool, but winning the National Championship with a buzzer beater is iconic. Under Jay Wright, Villanova was always a solid team, but could never put it all together when it really mattered. It wasn’t until 2013 that Villanova consistently became one of the best teams in the country. From 2013-2018, Villanova accumulated a record of 165 wins and 21 with two National Championships. Everything about this play is awesome. The presence of mind to flip back to Jenkins as Grant Hill says to “watch Jenkins.” Nantz says “for the championship” as the ball goes in is such a perfect moment. Plus, the confetti cannons going off while pandemonium ensues is incredible.

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2. Jimmy V Looks For A Hug

I mentioned that George Mason walked so that the other Cinderellas could run. Well, Jim Valvano and NC State crawled so that George Mason could walk. NC State upsetting Houston in the championship of the 1983 NCAA Tournament is one of the greatest upsets of all time. I highly recommend watching Survive and Advance, an ESPN 30 for 30 which chronicles Jimmy V and that 1983 NC State team that won it all. NC State was able to overcome a “Phi Slama Jama” which had two future Hall of Famers in Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Lorenzo Charles’s dunk at the last second to win the title was special, but Jimmy V looking for someone to hug after the game is the defining image from this game.

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1. Christian Laettner Hits The Shot

Love him or hate him, and most people hate him, there’s no denying the fact that Christian Laettner was one of the greatest college basketball players of all time. In 1992, Mike Krzyzewski and the number one seed Duke squared off against Rick Pitino and the number two seed Kentucky in the Elite 8 to determine the last spot in the Final Four. With 2.1 seconds in overtime, Duke, the defending National Champion, was down 1 point with the ball. Grant Hill threw a full court heave to Laettner, who caught the ball at the free throw line, had the presence of mind to take a dribble, and nailed the game winning shot as time expired. This game is widely considered as the greatest game in the history of the NCAA Tournament. What’s so underrated about the game is Laettner’s stat line. Laettner finished the game with 31 points and 7 rebounds, which sounds like a good day from the office. However, Laettner was 10 for 10 from the field and 10 for 10 from the free throw line. Laettner was perfect and so was his shot.

What are your most unforgettable moments from the NCAA Tournament? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Should We Say LeBron is the GOAT or Greatest Player of This Era?

Jordan Lebron GOAT

King James has fans up in arms once again. In the latest episode of the docu-series “More Than An Athlete,” LeBron James made comments proclaiming himself to be the Greatest Player of All Time (GOAT). The “More Than An Athlete” docu-series, which airs on ESPN+, tells the story of James and his three friends and business partners Maverick Carter, Rich Paul, and Randy Mims.  As can be seen in the clip below, James stated that winning the 2016 NBA Championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers made him the Greatest Player Of All Time. James’ comments have added even more fuel to the GOAT debate.[yotuwp type=”videos” id=”87AIZBYuIXY” pagination=”off” title=”off” description=”off” player=”modestbranding=0&showinfo=0&rel=0″]

Fans and critics have been debating whether James or Jordan is the GOAT?  Fans and critics have been debating whether a great player should proclaim himself to be the GOAT? Perhaps these are the wrong questions. The question should be whether there can truly be a Greatest Player of All Time? Or should the debate focus on the greatest player of each era?

Should a Great Player Proclaim Himself the GOAT?

Many fans and critics do not think so. After James’ comments, fans, critics, and the media went into a frenzy. While most acknowledged that James is a great player, many felt his comments were inappropriate.  Critics argued that no one should proclaim themselves as the GOAT because it is disrespectful to other greats who came before.[yotuwp type=”videos” id=”56pTyJKcqKY” pagination=”off” title=”off” description=”off” player=”modestbranding=0&showinfo=0&rel=0″]

Of course, it would not be a GOAT debate involving LeBron James if Michael Jordan was not mentioned. Critics of James’ comments referred to a  2009 interview of Michael Jordan when he was questioned about being the GOAT. Jordan stated that he would never say that he was the greatest player because he never had the chance to play other great players that proceeded him like Wilt Chamberlin and Jerry West. This statement, essentially proves that there can never be a true greatest player of all time. 

Can There Ever be a True GOAT? Or Should the Debate be Focused on the Greatest Player of Each Era?

There can never truly be a GOAT because there are too many players who were regarded as the greatest during their era. Great players have stood above the rest throughout basketball history. Given the number of great players to play at various times within the sport, it is very difficult if not impossible to single out one person to be the true GOAT. How does one choose between Bill Russell, Oscar Roberston, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, just to name a few? Bill Russel played during the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s.  He became a player-coach and went on to win 11 NBA championships. Oscar Robertson was the first basketball player to average a triple-double. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar still holds the NBA all-time leading scorer record.

The answer is that one cannot choose because they were all great in their own right. One could argue that they were the greatest players of their eras. However, it would be difficult to designate one of them the true GOAT because they all made invaluable contributions to the game.

Furthermore, the game has evolved over the years. The style of play has changed and continues to change, which makes it very difficult to designate a true GOAT. Plays that are thought of as great today were not before. For example, the game today has largely shifted to three-point shooting.  This is largely due to the dominance of the “Splash Brothers,” Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Before their unprecedented three-point shooting, stopping to shoot a three instead of going for the “easier” bucket was unheard of. Due to their unprecedented three-point shooting, Curry and Thompson will also go down as two of the greatest players of their era.

The 2016 Finals Did Not Make James the GOAT, Because it is not Possible to Designate a True GOAT

First, let us acknowledge that James was correct in some of his comments. He did do something special that had never been done when he led the Cavaliers to defeat Golden State. In 2016, Golden State was arguably unstoppable.  The Warriors beat the Chicago Bulls’ record for most wins in a season finishing at 73-9. The Cavilers came back from being down 3-1 in the series and defeated the Warriors for the Championship.  No team had ever come back to win after being down 3-1.

King James was already a phenomenal basketball player and his accomplishments in the 2016 NBA Finals solidified his greatness that much more. However, does that performance make King James the GOAT? No, it does not make him the Greatest Player of All Time simply because there are too many great players who dominated at different times to have a true GOAT.  However, it may make him the greatest player of his era.

King James’ Performance May Have Solidified his Position as the Greatest of his Era

King James’ performance in the 2016 NBA Finals certainly makes him the greatest player of his era because they beat a team no one thought they could beat against all the odds.  The Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 deficit and beat what is the best team in NBA history, as far as the record goes. The Cavaliers cemented their win with a pivotal moment that was offered by none other than King James.  James ran an almost full 94 feet to block Andre Iguodala’s shot to keep the game tied in game seven. At that moment, the momentum officially shifted to the Cavaliers.

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The Cavaliers rode that wave all the way to victory. With beating the team with the best NBA record, ending a 52-year championship drought, and making the big play to push the team to the win, it is likely that the 2016 NBA Finals may have made James the greatest of his era.  However, King James is still playing. He surely has many great moments to come that could rise to or even exceed the 2016 NBA Finals.  We will see.

We cannot forget that LeBron James is winning in ways no other NBA player has. He has helped start a school, send over 1100 kids to college, won’t “Shut Up and Dribble“, and produced a documentary highlighting the NCAA hypocrisy.

NBA: Are You Buying the Golden State Warriors “In the Building Pass” ?

What would an avid Golden State Warriors fan pay to be “In the Building” to experience the excitement of their games? Would a fan be willing to pay upwards of $2,000 for VIP seats? How about paying around $500.00 for a “decent” seat? Or would a fan be willing to pay $100.00 just to be in Oracle Area during home games (without being able to see any live action)?  This is what the Warriors are banking on with the introduction of their new “In the Building Pass.”

The “In the Building Pass” is a new subscription-based service that gives its subscribers access to Oracle Arena on home games. Subscribers can enter Oracle arena to watch the games on T.V. screens while enjoying the restaurants inside. However, subscribers will not have access to any live action.  No food or drinks is included. Fans may purchase this subscription for the low-low price of $100.00 per month. Best of the all the subscription does not include any arena access to postseason games. It is essentially paying $100 per month to say, “I was there” or so fans can get good Instagram pictures at the stadium. Is the “In the Building Pass” really worth it? 

The Worth of the “In the Building Pass” Depends on the Fan

The Warriors is arguably the NBA’s greatest team since Michael Jordan dominated with the Chicago Bulls (Bulls) in the 1990s. In fact, the Warriors beat the record held by Jordan’s Bulls for the most wins in a season in 2016. However, the 1995-1996 Bulls still reign supreme because they finished their amazing winning season with a Championship, which the Warriors were unable to do.  The Warriors fell to the Cleveland Cavilers in the 2016 NBA Finals where King James and friends pulled off the seemingly impossible. In spite of not polishing off their almost perfect season, the Warriors have remained an extremely entertaining team to watch.

Watching the Warriors is truly a unique treat.  Fans are sure to be dazzled with a myriad of unbelievable three-pointers by the Splash Brothers. Fans are sure to be entertained with spectacular dunks by Draymond Green and Kevin Durant. Is the magic of this team enough to warrant spending $100.00 per month just to be in Oracle Arena on gameday and not have the slightest glimpse of the live action? It does not seem so.  The “In the Building Pass” essentially amounts to watching the game at a bar.  Only, the bar is inside of Oracle Arena. However, this may be of value to some because this is the Warriors last season in Oracle Arena. Outside of being in the arena, there is nothing to make the subscription worth $100.00 per month. A fan could go watch the game at an Applebees and not spend anywhere near $100.00.

What Would Make the Subscription Worth It?

First, the subscription would be a better value if there was at least standing room access to view the live action. Several baseball teams offer passes that grant standing room access to view the games. Also, the subscription would be a better value if it included a drink and an appetizer for each game. Similarly, the New York Yankees offer the Pinstripes Pass that starts at $15.00. The pass includes a drink and standing room access to watch the games. However, each pass is only good for one game. If the Warriors included a drink or food and game viewing access the subscription would be a better value to view one of the most historic teams in NBA history.

Who Will be the Captains in the NBA’s First Televised All-Star Game Draft?

All-Star Game Draft

The NBA All-Star Game just got more exciting!

On Wednesday, the NBA and the NBA Players Association announced their agreement to televise the 2019 NBA All-Star Game Draft.  Last year, the NBA made changes to the NBA All-Star Game that proved to be a major success.  In 2018, the NBA ditched the boring traditional Eastern Conference versus Western Conference format. The league opted for a more relatable playground pick-up style format.  Accordingly, the two players who received the most votes from each conference picked the teams from the available pool of eligible players. Unsurprisingly, those two players were LeBron James and Steph Curry.

The 2018 changes reinvigorated fan interest in the All-Star Game. Everyone was excited to see who ended up on which team and the game was much more competitive.  The only thing that could have made it better was if the team selection was televised, which King James was in full support of.  However, the NBA did not televise the draft last year for fear of publicly putting the players in a compromising position with having to choose one player over the other.

All of those concerns have disappeared.  The NBA has listened to the fans and agreed to televise the 2019 NBA All-Star Game Draft.  Since the announcement, the debate regarding who will be this year’s captains and who will be picked first and last began immediately.

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First or Last…Does it Really Matter?

No one wants to be picked last, but someone has to be. Is it really embarrassing to be picked last in for an All-Star Game? It is an All-Star game. Everyone is an All-Star, which means that everyone is regarded as one of the greatest basketball players in the world.  Whether a player is picked first or last, that player is still one of the best players in the world. Furthermore, the honor is in being in the pool of eligible players to be picked. Therefore, it does not matter who is picked first or last.  The fun for the players is in being eligible.  The fun for the fans is watching the teams be assembled.

Who will be this year’s team captains? 

This is the most anticipated question with James’ move to the Western Conference.  Since James left the East, that captain position is up for grabs.  It may likely be filled by Giannis Antetokounmpo based on last year’s votes. He came in second behind James.

However, the captain position in the West is not as easy to predict. Most of the league’s biggest stars are in the West. Russel Westbrook, Paul George, Chris Paul, and James Harden, just to name a few, all play for Western Conference teams.  Furthermore, the West has the league’s most dominant team, the Golden State Warriors (Warriors).  The Warriors had four players (Curry, Durant, Green, and Thompson) in the All-Star Game last year and will likely have the same four this year. The competition for team captain in the West is stiff. King James’ move to the Lakers increased the competition that much more.

Can James and Curry be Captains Again?

However, King James stated that he would be willing to switch captains for the 2019 All-Star Game, but there is no rule requiring him to do so.  Per the video above,  a coach may not coach two years in a row. However, there is no such rule prohibiting a player from being a captain for two consecutive years. Therefore, James or Curry could serve as captain for the 2019 game.   Furthermore, Curry expressed that he would like to serve as a captain again since the game will be in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Since James is now in the West, both James and Curry cannot both be captains.  Will either James or Curry receive the necessary votes to be captain? Or will someone else emerge from the West as the new favorite? Either way, it will be fun to watch. Furthermore, James and Curry are both certain to land a spot on either team.