The best draft picks in NBA history

The best draft picks in NBA history

For those that tune in to the NBA draft every year there are certain images that stick with you.  LeBron’s white suit… David Stern being SOOOO much shorter than everyone… every Knicks pick being following by a wave of boos… the list goes on.  So in the wake of the 2018 NBA Draft I felt it fitting to go back and see who were the best picks in recent history.

Now I’m not considering Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson for this list as they were going to be superstars anyway.  This is for players who were severely under-drafted and have gone on to make significant contributions, whether that be as an NBA award winner, a key component for a championship team or the numbers they have produced.

Nikola Jokic – Denver (2014, 41st pick)

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Jokic and Towns will be a matchup to watch for the next 10 years

Not all picks from Europe end up panning out, for every Dirk Nowitzki and Manu Ginobili there are even more that turn out like Darko Milicic and Nikoloz Tskitishvili.  In case you’re asking, Nikola Jokic is not like those guys that are a bust.

At 19 he was drafted by Denver but spent the following season in Europe playing for Belgrade’s Mega Bemax.  And how did he go?  Only averaged 15.4 ppg, 9.3 rpg (led the league) and 3.5 apg on his way to league MVP despite his team finished 10th in the league standings.  At that point he packed his bags for the Mile High City and his first NBA season.

Jokic has done nothing but improve in his first 3 seasons with the Nuggets, averaging 18.5 ppg, 10.7 rpg and 6.1 apg for the 2017-18 season.  How good was that season?  In the history of the NBA only 6 players have every averaged those numbers for a season (Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Kevin Garnett, Jokic, Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook).  Add to that he’s just signed a 5 year, $148 million contract… look out NBA, Nikola Jokic is the cornerstone for a young and talented Denver team looking to make a name for themselves.

Isaiah Thomas – Sacramento (2011, 60th pick)

Number for Isaiah Thomas since entering the league – 473 games, 29.8 mpg, 18.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 5.1 apg

Numbers for EVERY other final draft pick since the NBA went to a 2 round draft in 1989 (29 players, 9 played in the NBA) – 1,360 games, 13.6 mpg, 4.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 0.6 apg… safe to say not quite the same!

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At only 5’9″ Isaiah has no fear going to the hoop.

The NFL have given the name of ‘Mr Irrelevant’ to the player taken with the final pick of the draft.  Not quite the same as the NBA as there are only 60 draft picks compared to what feels like about a million given it takes 3 days to complete the draft.  Anyway, Isaiah Thomas was going to make damn sure he wasn’t going to be irrelevant in the NBA.  Even when that final pick was traded not once but twice before landing in Sacramento his determination was not going to be extinguished.

His career highlight was the 2016-17 season with the Boston Celtics, leading them to the conference finals while finishing 3rd in the NBA in scoring (28.9 ppg) and finishing 5th in MVP voting.  Last season saw his value suffer a hit with injuries and poor team chemistry landing him on the bench for the LA Lakers.  Here’s hoping he come back healthy and finds a situation where we can see past the Isaiah from a couple of years ago.

Jimmy Butler – Chicago (2011, 30th pick)

Chicago may have had to cut elsewhere in the budget to pay for all the gift baskets sent to teams who passed on Jimmy Butler, ’cause he’s turned out to be a star!

Jimmer Fredette, Chris Singleton, JaJuan Johnson… these guys were all taken before the 30th pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, and weren’t Chicago happy with that.  After Butler grew and learnt from the bench early on his time came in the 2013-14 season.  He started all 67 games he played and ended up with 13.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.6 apg and 1.9 spg on a playoff team that won 48 games.  But Butler was just warming up…

His next 4 seasons have seen him make the All Star game every season, while being named to the all NBA 3rd team twice and the all NBA Defensive 2nd team three times.  He is one of 5 players to average 21 ppg, 4 rpg, 4 apg and 1.5 spg over that 4 season period (along with James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry and DeMarcus Cousins) which show how consistent he has been, even while being traded to Minnesota prior to the 2017-18 season.  And at the cost of the last pick of the first round… not too bad.

Marc Gasol – LA Lakers (2007, 48th pick)

How well did the Lakers do in 2008?  They made a trade that saw them bring over Pau Gasol to help them with 2 NBA titles.  And if they don’t make the trade they end up with Marc who’s every bit the player his older brother is.

By virtue of that trade Marc Gasol found himself in Memphis where he has spent his entire 10 year NBA career.  And he has developed himself into one of the most rounded and skilled big men the NBA has ever seen.  He shone as a rookie, being named to the all NBA Rookie 2nd team and averaging 11.9 ppg and 7.4 rpg.  Gasol has only grown from there as he has been named to 3 All Star games and won the 2012-13 Defensive Player of the Year award (and only made the All Defensive 2nd team… come on voters!).

Unfortunately playoff success has been hard to come by with only one trip to the Conference Finals but this would be a side effect of lack of help around him rather than the contribution Gasol has made to his team’s success.  Hopefully as he approaches the twilight of his career he can get some more support and made another run at a title which may have already been his had he not been traded all those years ago.

Tony Parker – San Antonio (2001, 28th pick)

Most picks made that involve European players end up with them staying overseas for another year or two until they are NBA ready, mostly because they’re drafted at 18 or 19 years of age.  Sometimes it’s worth the wait, sometimes it’s not.  But San Antonio had no intention on waiting for 19 year old Tony Parker from France to get ready… he was going to be ready or fail trying.

San Antonio have made a habit of either drafting players from overseas that have become stars or scouting better than everyone else (eg Kawhi Leonard with the 15th pick in 2011).  They found themselves a gem in Parker right off the bat as he started 72 games in his rookie season and was named to the all Rookie 1st team.

From there?  Oh, just 4 NBA titles (2007 NBA Finals MVP against Cleveland), 6 NBA All Star games and 4 times in the top 10 in NBA MVP voting (5th in 2011-12 whilst averaging 18.3 ppg and 7.7 apg).  He will end his Spurs career amongst the top 5 in, games played, minutes, FG made & attempted, FT made & attempted, assists (1st and 19th all time) and points.  It will be odd to see him running around in a Charlotte uniform next season but he’s been a joy to watch in San Antonio.

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Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker have combined for 33 seasons and 2,255 games in San Antonio.

Manu Ginobili – San Antonio (1999, 57th pick)

I made mention of Isaiah Thomas as the last pick of the 2001 draft, well Manu Ginobili was taken with the second last pick of the 1999 draft and proved to be a vital member of 4 NBA championship teams.

Like Jokic, Ginobili was drafted but chose to stay in Italy while he developed.  Before joining the Spurs in 2003 he won numerous league titles for Kinder Bologna and secure 2 Italian League MVP awards.  Once in San Antonio he endeared himself to the fans with his mercurial ability to score and his tenacity on defence.  Injury held him from showcasing his total package as a rookie but you could tell he was a special talent.

Fast forward to 2018, he has spent his entire 16 year career with the Spurs in which he has won 4 NBA titles, made the All Star game in 2005 and 2011 and ended in the top 10 of MVP voting 3 times.  The fact he only averaged 30 minutes a game just twice in his career is testament to his efficiency and natural ability.  We have come to the end of the San Antonio Spurs dynasty but Ginobili will forever be remembered as one of its most important members.

Honourable mentions…

Paul Millsap – Utah (2006, 47th pick) – 4 time All Star

Monta Ellis – Golden State (2005, 40th pick) – 5 times averaged 20 ppg, led the NBA in minutes per game twice.

Carlos Boozer – Cleveland (2002, 35th pick) – 2 time All Star, averaged 19.3 ppg and 10.5 rpg in 6 seasons with Utah (2005-2010).

Gilbert Arenas – Golden State (2001 – 31st pick) – 3 time All Star, career average 20.7 ppg.

Michael Redd – Milwaukee (2000 – 43rd pick) – 1 time All Star, career average 19 ppg.

Michael Finley – Phoenix (1995, 21st pick) – 2 time All Star, led the NBA in minutes per game 3 times, averaged 19.8 ppg in 9 seasons with Dallas (1997-2005).

Latrell Sprewell – Golden State (1992, 24th pick) – 4 time All Star, All NBA 1st team & All Defensive 2nd team in 1994, 10th all time in minutes per game (38.6).

 

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2018 NBA Free Agency Update – July 4

2018 NBA Free Agency Update – July 4

So you hear it said almost every year… it’s going to be a big year in free agency.  And more often than not it ends up being a bit of a letdown.  Not 2018 my friends, this is one for the ages!

When you’re not sure where to start, may as well go with the biggest of them all…

LeBron James – Agrees to a 4 year, $153 million deal with the LA Lakers

I’d been telling those who follow the NBA for a while now that LeBron would end up at the Lakers, always nice to be right now and then!  He’s delivered Cleveland their long-awaited title and after 4 consecutive NBA Finals it’s time to put his family first and think long term.  Having a movie production company and multiple properties in California does make things a little easier as well.

So what does this mean for the chances the Lakers have for the upcoming season?  As I’ll bring up later it probably won’t matter who else they get but they’ll certainly be a better team.  Having won only 35 games means they can really only go up but even only adding LeBron would give that team a 50 win season.  That would’ve been good enough for the 3 seed in last season’s playoffs but when you still have Houston and Golden State in your way it’s hard to think of championships.

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Will we see this tandem in purple and gold this season?

As it stands this would be the line up the Lakers would roll out on opening night (subject to future signings and trades)…

PG – Lonzo Ball, Rajon Rondo

SG – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lance Stephenson

SF – Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma

PF – LeBron James, Travis Wear

C – Brook Lopez, JaVale McGee

The Lakers have plenty of assets for a potential trade to match another superstar alongside LeBron.  If Kawhi Leonard happens to be that player, even at the expense of several young talented players, it would place the Lakers as the clear #3 in the West.  And come playoff time with a 4 time MVP and a 2 time Defensive POY… stranger things have happened.

Chris Paul – Agrees to a 4 year, $160 million deal to stay with the Houston Rockets

This one doesn’t change the look of the West but it sure does solidify them as a title threat for the coming years.  James Harden is locked in for the next 4 seasons so that gives the Rockets the best chance at dethroning the Warriors atop the NBA.

We all know James Harden was the 2017-18 MVP but Paul may be their most important.  Houston were 50-8 with Paul in the lineup, that pace has you winning 70 games over the course of an entire season.  Since only 2 teams have ever done that it’s safe to say he’s pretty important to Houston’s future.  The loss of Trevor Ariza to the Suns does hurt their outside shooting and perimeter defence but as long as Paul is at the wheel and Mike D’Antoni is setting the course they are always a threat.

Paul George – Agrees to a 4 year, $137 million deal to stay with Oklahoma City

The other half of the Lakers wish list decided to stay where the season ended in disappointment at the hands of Utah.  George (along with Russell Westbrook) have the controls of the Thunder and the next few seasons to show the NBA world that he is in fact worth every penny of his new contract.

There aren’t many more talented players in the NBA than Paul George, but apart from a couple of playoff runs with Indiana he has been mostly underwhelming throughout his 7 season career.  His ability to shoot the ball along with his tenacious defence makes him a rare player who can impact the game on both ends of the floor, something Westbrook and the Thunder will desperately need if they are going to complete in the West.

DeMarcus Cousins – Agrees to a 1 year, $5.3 million deal with the Golden State Warriors

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Could THIS end up being the greatest line-up in NBA history?  It’ll be fun to find out…

Here’s a trivia question for you… how many teams have sent 5 players to the All Start Game?  The correct answer would be none, a few have had 4 (including these Warriors) but 5 would be a first.  I know he’s currently getting over his injury but if he’s back around mid-December that still gives him the best part of 2 months to prove to the coaches that he deserves a spot on the bench at the All Star Game.  And depending on what happens after next season with Klay Thompson and Draymond Green we might find that Cousins stays a Warrior, otherwise he’ll find his monster contract elsewhere… Steve Kerr must wonder what he did in a previous life to have won 5 NBA titles as a player and to have the run he’s had as a coach!

As far as the Warriors are concerned, I’m not sure there would be a bigger betting favourite in the history of professional sports to win their league’s championship than this season.  Yes, the Rockets are still there and the Lakers haven’t finished moving people around, but there’s no way you can keep a straight face and say another team apart from Golden State will win the 2018-19 NBA title.

We’re only 3 days into free agency but the moves have been huge and they haven’t stopped yet.  Bring on the trades!

Anyone not think Tim Brady is the best NFL QB ever?

Anyone not think Tim Brady is the best NFL QB ever?

Heads up sports fans… I’m back! Apologies for the rather long break, life sometimes gets in the way of being able to write about the most glorious thing in the world… sport!

And what better time to get back into blogging than by writing a little about arguably the greatest Super Bowl ever, the 34-28 overtime comeback by the New England Patriots over the Atlanta Falcons. There was no chance that the final score was going to become reality after Tevin Coleman scored to make the score 28-3 with 8:31 remaining in the 3rd quarter. But I should know better, after all it was Tom Brady on the other team.

Now I know what you’re saying. How can a team that was able to sack Brady 5 times, intercept a pass for a touchdown and force a fumble that led to a turnover be unable to stop New England from making this a contest? Couple of reasons… Firstly, it’s Tom Brady! We’ve seen this guy do incredible things time and again on the football field so who’s to say it won’t happen again. Secondly, when your defence has been out on the field chasing Brady and his merry band of offensive puppets for a total of 93 plays (Atlanta ran 46) and a total time of 51:36 (Atlanta had the ball for 23:24) it takes a tremendous toll on your body. For those who watched the entire game it was clear to see that the Falcon’s rush had disappeared in the 4th quarter and overtime as Brady found himself with plenty of time to pick out the receiver of this choice and march his team down the field at will.

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Who knew this guy would become the G.O.A.T.?

For those that have been missing my ability to saturate these blogs with stats, here are a few to tie you over for a while…

  • Brady becomes the only QB in NFL history with 5 Super Bowl wins, surpassing Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw who each have 4.
  • Brady set a Super Bowl record by throwing 62 pass attempts, breaking the record previously held by Jim Kelly who threw 58 for the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI.
  • Brady broke his own record of 37 by completing 43 passes, also impressive was his 69.4% completion percentage.
  • Brady set a single game record for passing yards with 466 eclipsing the mark set by Kurt Warner in Super Bowl XXXIV of 414 yards.

Add to this the career Super Bowl records Brady holds already which he has added to…

  • Career Super Bowl pass attempts – 309, second is Peyton Manning with 155.
  • Career Super Bowl passes completed – 207, second is Peyton Manning with 103.
  • Career Super Bowl passing yards – 2,071, second is Kurt Warner with 1,156.
  • Career Super Bowl passing TD’s – 15, second is Joe Montana with 11.

Not to make this blog too nerdy with stats but think about these…

  • Tom Brady now has a 5-2 record in the Super Bowl.
  • Apart from the New England Patriots there are only 3 other NFL franchises with as many as 5 Super Bowl victories (Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Dallas).
  • There are only 3 other NFL franchises with as many as 7 Super Bowl appearances (Pittsburgh, Dallas and Denver).

Not bad for a guy taken with the 199th pick of the 2000 NFL Draft, makes you wonder what the New York Jets were thinking taking Chad Pennington with the 18th pick.

There will always be debate about who the top quarterbacks in NFL history are. Aikman, Montana, P. Manning, Favre, Brees… but there is only one Tom Brady who has shown that even at age 39 he can make ’em come to their feet and drop to their knees. And this is why he is the greatest quarterback in NFL history.

 

What does the 2016 NBA Finals mean for the legacy of LeBron James?

What does the 2016 NBA Finals mean for the legacy of LeBron James?

His accolades speak for themselves… 4 time MVP, 2 time NBA Champion, 2 time NBA Finals MVP, 2 time All Star Game MVP, NBA Rookie of the Year, etc. Add to that career averages of 27.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 6.9 apg and 1.7 spg (only Larry Bird average 20/6/6/1.5 over a career) and you have the resume of an all time great.

But the 2-4 record in the NBA Finals was something that pretty much everyone was holding against him. He can’t get it done in the big moments, he can’t carry a team to a title… it’s all been said. Now, you can only say he’s a record breaker.

  • No NBA team had ever come back from a 3-1 hole in the NBA Finals. LeBron now has that achievement.
  • Only 3 teams had ever won the NBA Finals from being down 2-0. LeBron now joins that group.
  • Only 2 players had ever had a triple double in a Game 7 of the NBA Finals (Jerry West and James Worthy). LeBron now joins that group.
  • Only Magic Johnson (8) has had at least 7 triple doubles in NBA Finals history. LeBron now joins Magic with 7.
  • LeBron is the only player in NBA Finals history to lead all players in points, rebounds and assists per game. He has now done that twice (2015 and 2016).

I may be biased but to those that were hating on LeBron James for years… just sit back and watch. My favourite players of all time are Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, John Stockton and LeBron James. There’s something about the way that these guys play that is almost hypnotic, the way they are able to take over a game by getting their teammates involved, the way they control the game like a classical conductor.

LeBron James is the greatest player of this generation. That includes the likes of Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. Some may have more titles and scored more points but none of them have the all round game of LeBron. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

Enjoy the celebration Cleveland, it’s been a LOOOOOOOOONG time coming!

 

 

 

Can Oklahoma City get by the Warriors? I say it’s already done…

Can Oklahoma City get by the Warriors? I say it’s already done…

As soon as the full time of Game 6 of the Western Conference semi-finals between Oklahoma City and San Antonio sounded, I was telling anyone who was talking about the playoffs (I’ll be honest… not many around me were!) that the Thunder would knock off the Golden State Warriors and reach the NBA Finals to take on Cleveland (come on, who’s really gonna pick the Raptors?!?).

The way the Thunder, and in particular Russell Westbrook, closed out the Spurs I couldn’t see how they would be beaten 4 games out of 7. I don’t think enough credit has gone to Billy Donovan for what he’s been able to get out of this group of players who have drastically underachieved for a few seasons now. With Westbrook playing like an MVP (and it took an historic season from Curry to deny him that award) next to the ever consistent Kevin Durant that look unstoppable. I’ve never been a huge Thunder fan but I love the way they’re playing right now.

Here are the facts that are positive for the Warriors…

  • Stephan Curry has 26 pts, 10 reb, 7 ast and 3 stl (does have 7 TO’s) and shoots 6-14 from 3 point range.
  • Klay Thompson has 25 pts, 9 reb and 4 ast while shooting 11-25 form the field including 3 from 3 point range.
  • Draymond Green has 23 pts, 5 reb, 4 ast 2 blk and 1 stl while shooting 9-20 from the field.
  • Combined the Warriors big 3 total 74 pts, 24 reb, 15 ast, 4 stl and 2 blk (regular season they combined to average 66 pts, 19 reb, 16 ast, 4.5 stl and 2 blk per game) so a pretty good game all things considered.

Now here are stats that don’t look good for the Thunder…

  • Kevin Durant shoots 10-30 from the field (33%, regular season 50.5%), 5-7 from the foul line (71%, regular season 89.8%) and had 5 turnovers (regular season 3.5).
  • Russell Westbrook shoots 7-21 from the field (33%, regular season 45.4%).
  • Enes Kanter has only 8 pts and 6 reb (regular season averaged 12.7 pts and 8.1 reb).

… and the Thunder still won the game… against the team with the best ever record for a single season… on the road!

Now it doesn’t mean they’ll win 4 in a row, they won’t even win every game at home. But the way they were able to hang on with their 2 superstars having an off night shooting the ball is a great sign. And the key is Westbrook… if he continues to pass the ball like he did against the Spurs and in this game, they’ll be booking a place in the NBA Finals.

Just remember who told you…

 

Who’s your favourite NBA player of all time… mine is Larry Bird.

Who’s your favourite NBA player of all time… mine is Larry Bird.

My first memories of the NBA are from the 1990 NBA Finals when the Detroit Pistons swept the Portland Trailblazers in 4 games to win their second straight NBA title. I then became a very big Isiah Thomas fan, someone who was a guard like myself who could take over a game at any time… unlike myself! I then became fascinated with the great point guards (Thomas, John Stockton etc), but the best of all time and my favourite PG ever was Magic Johnson. To be able to do what he could do at his size was video game like, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I purchased the Johnson video “Always Showtime” on VHS and wore it out, watching it over and over again much to the dismay of my mother! But I then felt I was cheating on Magic… I found a new NBA love.

Larry Bird has been connected to Magic Johnson since their epic NCAA title game in 1979. Since that day they met in the NBA finals 3 times with Magic’s Lakers winning in 1985 and 1987, Bird’s Celtics taking the crown in 1984. Even though “Always Showtime” was a video about Magic, Larry Bird was featured quite prominently. This is when he became my favourite NBA player of all time.

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Bird and Johnson met in the NBA Finals 3 times

I guess I saw a little of myself in Bird, a kid from the country who became consumed by basketball once it came into his life. Someone who would play on whatever court was free and stay for hours, whether it be with friends or by himself. Someone who wouldn’t care if it was stinking hot or pouring rain, there was always time to take some shots. Of course, I’m sitting here blogging about it while Bird went on to become one of the 10 greatest players in NBA history! But his story captivated me like no other athlete before or since.

I’ve owned 2 Larry Bird jerseys and would love to add either a 1992 Olympic jersey or an Indiana State NCAA jersey to my wardrobe (if my wife read this, she’d get the hint!). I’ve owned the Bird biographical movie “A Basketball Legend” (both on VHS and DVD) and have watched the 1992 game against Portland where he scored 49 points in a double OT classic more times than I can count. There are 2 things that endear me to Larry Bird… his overall story and the way he plays the game of basketball.

You always hear about pro athletes that overcome odds. Family tragedy, poor neighbourhood, trouble with the law etc etc. Larry Bird appeared to be someone who never sought out the spotlight. He was part of a family that battled to make end meet, giving him a work ethic that would help him reach the near immortal status he holds in the NBA community. A glowing testament to his reserved personality was walking away from one of the most prestigious college basketball programs (Indiana) and deciding on a small town college (Indiana State) that prior to Bird’s arrival had NEVER played in the NCAA tournament.

Bird then headed to the Boston Celtics, a franchise that had won 13 of the 30 NBA championships held since the 1949-50 season. So, needless to say, he had a little bit to live up to! So… how did he do?

  • 3 NBA titles
  • 3 consecutive MVP’s (only Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain have ever done that)
  • 2 time NBA Finals MVP (1984, 1986)
  • 9 time All-NBA first team
  • 12 time NBA All Star selection
  • Only player in NBA history to average at least 24 ppg, 10 rpg and 6 apg over a career
  • 1 of only 8 players to shoot at least 50% FG, 40% 3PT and 90% FT (only Bird and Steve Nash have done it at least twice)
  • Member of the Gold Medal winning 1992 US Olympic team
  • Inducted to the NBA Hall of Fame in 1998

Pretty well I’d say!

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Even at his Hall of Fame induction, Bird couldn’t escape the presence of Magic! Check Bird’s career statistics here

But for me, that only tells part of the story. As someone who has never been a one-on-one player I take pride and appreciate good team play. There weren’t many better games than watching Chicago and Utah in consecutive NBA Finals (1997 & 1998) where the ball would move as well as any team has in NBA history. With players like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and John Stockton on the floor you were watching some of the greatest players ever and their ability to get their teammates involved was wonderful. The Golden State Warriors of the past 2 seasons are cut from a similar mould. Even though the individual brilliance of Stephen Curry is almost unparalleled, they rack up assist totals most current teams can’t match.

The best highlights I remember from any Larry Bird game are the terrific passes he would make to the likes of McHale, Parish, Johnson etc. Some have no right to even be tried let alone result in an easy hoop for the Celtics… but it happened time and time again. I like to think that the best part of my game is my passing (not much of a creative scorer!) and I have the great players like Bird to thank for that.

It’s almost sad that the game has become so reliant on the 3 point shot that players like Bird, so dependant on ball handling and fundamentals, are almost a thing of the past. All players want to do these days is to stand 23 feet from the hoop waiting for a pass. This is why I don’t hesitate to play my “A Basketball Legend” DVD whenever I feel a little nostalgic. And that is why Larry Bird is my favourite NBA player of all time.

The life of the modern day sport tragic!

So as you may have gathered, I’m a bit of a sport fan. There aren’t many sports I won’t take a look at or have a go at (I’ll elaborate further later on). But I thought I’d take this time to give you all a little insight into the man behind the love of sports. Also keep in mind that I grew up in a country town about 2 hours north of Melbourne, Australia so some sports won’t be all that common to a world audience.

I turned 38 in January and I’ve crammed quite a bit of aerobic and athletic activity in those years. When you have 2 parents that both played their share of sport, you don’t have much option but to follow in their footsteps. My father played golf and with Mum they both played tennis and badminton. Mum also played a rather unknown sport called Vigoro (trust me… it’s real! Check the proof here), we often took joy in mocking her for playing such a game that doesn’t seem to have seen the light of day in the last 50 years! In a nutshell it’s a mix between cricket and baseball… and for those keeping count, her top score was 62 not out!

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Think badminton is boring and easy… watch this!

My earliest memory of playing sport was when I was about 8, playing badminton in the local church hall hitting a shuttlecock over a table. My wife has given me grief for almost 10 years saying that badminton isn’t a real sport, tell that to those that have played it at the Commonwealth Games! It took me all around the state until I was 17 and kept playing for many years after. People see the small court and think “it doesn’t look too difficult, not sure you’d work too hard”. My answer is “grab a racquet and get down the other end of the court, you’ll find out!”.

 

 

I also played tennis as a child until my mid 20’s, shouldn’t need to spend too much time explaining this one! I was lucky enough to play on grass courts as well as hard court which was a nice treat, not all towns in the area where I grew up had those facilities. I didn’t excel at tennis as highly as I did in badminton (my older brothers will love me saying that!) but I had more than enough competitive drive to compete at a reasonable level. Taking a day trip to watch the world’s best at the Australian Open was always a highlight, if you get the chance to take in a major tennis tournament you should definitely take it up.

By the time I began high school my curiosity for other sports grew, which led me to 2 other sports that would eventually occupy me up until this day. My father and 2 older brothers all played golf, naturally I followed suit. My first exposure to golf was to use my mother’s old clubs and bag (vintage at the time) but I was hooked. I joined at Mooroopna Golf Club as a junior and played there for about 13 years. My handicap got as low as 10 but could never get to single figures, another thing my brothers have over me! If you’re ever in the area you should take the time to play 9 or 18, I was there only a couple of months ago and the course is in sensational condition. I’ve since moved to Melbourne and have joined up at other courses where I was able to get my handicap down to… 8!!! If nothing else, I have my old man sport in my later years!

The other sport that I’ve continued for the last 25 years is basketball. From my prior blogs you’ll gather that I have quite a passion for it, it’s probably my favourite sport of all.

My first memory of watching any kind of professional game was the Christmas Day matchup of Chicago and Detroit in the 1990-91 season. Chicago were trailing until the second half when they ran over the top of the Pistons to win by 10. I also remember being at my grandmother’s house with my family for lunch and being utterly rude to everyone as I watched the 1991 NBA All Star Game in Charlotte. Pretty much from then I was hooked, playing and watching basketball when I could. And even as I write this I’m watching San Antonio blow out Oklahoma City in Game 1 of the Western Conference semi finals.

My friends and I put together a team and played for many seasons in our local competition. I even got to the point where I was picked to represent the area in a league, that only lasted for 2 games but still, pretty cool! Something about hearing your national anthem before you begin a game that gets you up… even though there might only be 20 people watching!

I them moved to Melbourne where I continued playing with my brother and some of his friends who had a regular game for years. We were quite good, making the finals most seasons and making a couple of Grand Finals. But like the Buffalo Bills of the 1990’s, we couldn’t get over the hump. I used to have quite the temper (my side doesn’t believe it but plenty of people have seen it first hand!), but as I’ve gotten older I’ve taken more and more enjoyment in the participation of sport and less caught up in the result. Don’t get me wrong, I love to win but I’m not going to break golf clubs and badminton racquets if I don’t.

What do I play now? I moved to a different suburb about 3 years ago and have played very little basketball since, but I’m about to start playing on and off which I’m looking forward to. I’m also playing golf now and then which I still enjoy as much as ever. If there’s anything you should take from this rambling version of a blog, it’s this… enjoy whatever it is you like doing and play it for the fun and enjoyment. There are too many things that life throws up without losing sleep over a missed free throw or a 3 putt from 10 feet.

Keep smiling and enjoy your sport!