At Rucker Park in New York, people sat on rooftops and climbed trees to watch Julius Erving play. In Louisville, Kentucky, Artis Gilmore would pull up in his fancy car, still wearing his fancy suits, and just ball. Kevin Durant first measured the worth of his game on the D.C. playgrounds, and Arthur Agee chased his hoop dream in Chicago. The Philadelphia outdoor courts once boasted a who’s who of the city’s best ballers, and in Los Angeles, playground legends with names such as Beast, Iron Man and Big Money Griff played on the same concrete as Magic and Kobe.
That was then, a then that wasn’t all that long ago.
Now? Now the courts are empty, the nets dangling by a thread. The crowds that used to stand four deep are gone, and so are the players. Once players asked “Who’s got next?” Now the question is “Anyone want to play?” And the answer seems to be no, at least not here, not outside.
Playground basketball, at least as we knew it, is dying.
“Playground Basketball Is Dying” via ESPN
LeBron James made a sweet move by sending his neighbors in Ohio cupcakes as his way of apologizing for all of the chaos he caused this summer.
In what was a classy move, James hired representatives from a Fairlawn, Ohio, bakery around his immediate neighborhood in Bath Township to deliver cupcakes to apologize for the traffic jams caused by the interest in James’ return to the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this month.
“Dear Friend,” read a card that came with the treats. “We know things have been hectic in our neighborhood these past few weeks and we are sorry for the chaos. We are so thankful to live in this wonderful community and we are so blessed to have understanding neighbors like you.”
The card also explained that the two kinds of cupcakes in the box, “Just A Kid From Akron Cherry Cola” and “Homecourt Chocolate Chunk”, were originally devised for James’ foundation.
The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to make moves in order to secure the necessary pieces to obtain Kevin Love.
The latest domino has the Cavaliers sending guard Carrick Felix to Utah for three players with non-guaranteed contracts.
While this deal in a vacuum doesn’t seem noteworthy, it provides the Cavs with more assets to go after Love.
The Cavs sent Felix, a second-round pick in 2015, and $1 million to the Jazz for guard John Lucas III and forwards Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy.
This trade will allow the Cavs to clear $3.3 million in salary cap space.
After four short months after being appointed NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver has already made a name for himself. His uncompromising approach to the Donald Sterling controversy has earned him praise and respect among many, promising an interesting tenure to follow.
Now, Silver is offering up the chance for two fans to ask him their burning questions about the debacle through an online auction at global charity auction site Charitybuzz – and the price is getting steep. Fourteen people have already placed a bid on the chance to break bread with the Commissioner and other senior executives at the NBA offices in New York City, raising the price of this power lunch to $12,500 in just six days. With over two weeks to go, that number certainly won’t stick for long.
Fans can get in on the action at Charity Buzz through May 22. The auction is part of an effort to raise funds for the Advertising Council, a nonprofit organization that works on public service campaigns for nonprofits and government agencies.
Charitybuzz raises funds for nonprofits by auctioning thousands of incredible experiences spanning the best of sports, celebrity and pop culture. Since launching, the company has raised over $100 million for charity by giving bidders the chance to live their dreams and make a difference.
The 2013-14 NBA season is reaching its climax, with the eight teams remaining set to begin their series this week. With some of the very best players in the business set to go head to head in some extremely intriguing matchups, it may prove difficult to pick the winners. The latest odds at bettingsports.com will keep you up to date on the odds for every match, so you can pick your winners.
Los Angeles Clippers v Oklahoma City Thunder
In perhaps the most exciting matchup of the round, the two star-studded teams face off against each other. The Clippers will be trying not to let the scandal involving ex-owner Donald Sterling affect their game, with leading talent such as Blake Griffin and Chris Paul set to lead the charge. The team has never reached the conference final round, and will be looking to make history in this series.
The Thunder, however, has a star duo of their own in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, and on top of that, a much better defense than the Clippers. Oklahoma City will look to make the 4 home game advantage count and defeat the Clippers.
Miami Heat v Brooklyn Nets
After seeing off the Charlotte Bobcats in just four games in the previous round, the Heat will have the fresher legs going into this series. As well as that, Miami has the best player on the planet in Lebron James, along with other star players such as Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. The Heat will be looking to defeat Brooklyn and go on to win a successive NBA title.
However, the fact that the Nets swept the Heat in the regular season is no fluke, and with experience on their side and questions over Wade’s injury status, the Nets will be quietly confident of springing a surprise.
Indiana Pacers v Washington Wizards
The first and second picks in the 2010 draft face off in this matchup, with Washington’s John Wall and the Pacers’ Evan Turner matching up respectively. The strides that the Wizards made in their 4-1 series win over Chicago in the previous round could see them in good form, however, the Pacers’ roster is genuinely championship class when it is clicking. The pure ability of John Wall may be enough to see the Wizards advance in this one.
San Antonio Spurs v Portland Trail Blazers
Experience may be key in this matchup, and the Spurs have it in abundance. Players such as Tony Parker and Tim Duncan know exactly how to handle the pressure of the playoffs and the Spurs have an extremely good defense. On the other hand, the Blazers played extremely well in their first round matchup with the Rockets, and their outstanding pick and roll duo of Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge will cause the Spurs problems.
To keep updated on the latest news, check here for more articles.
Over one year ago, Jabari Parker put on a Duke uniform and started his college basketball career. He was the Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior in high school, and he led his high school basketball team to four consecutive state championships. Parker had a great season at Duke, despite the team’s disappointing loss first round NCAA tournament loss.
In fact, Parker’s season bore a strong similarity to the one that Kevin Durant had at the University of Texas in 2006-2007: great numbers, disappointing tournament.
Parker, along with other members of 2013’s outstanding freshman class including Andrew Wiggins (Kansas) and Julius Randle (Kentucky), have officially joined the ranks of the “one-and-done.” Because of the NBA’s minimum age rule, outstanding high school athletes must play at least one year of college basketball before they’re allowed to join the draft.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver says he wants to raise the minimum age to 20. To those who love to bet on NBA basketball, Silver’s stance might look like another chance for the players’ union and NBA officials to have a giant confrontation.
For now, the minimum age is still 19, and most of 2013’s notable freshmen have already made their choices.
Andrew Wiggins (Kansas)
If Jabri Parker has conjured up images of Durant, then Andrew Wiggins has caused basketball fans to reminisce about a younger LeBron James in the pre-season. Looking back, Wiggins ended up with good stats in Kansas, although his results weren’t as godlike as people anticipated: 17.1 points per game, 5.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and a third-round NCAA tournament loss in which Wiggins went 1-for-6. Wiggins still makes a solid No. 2 or No. 3 draft pick behind Parker, although as an introvert, he might not be the out-of-the-box leader that NBA coaches want.
Julius Randle (Kentucky)
Kentucky didn’t need Julius Randle to step up as much as Duke needed Jabari Parker, but Randle had a good season, averaging 15.4 points per game, 10.4 rebounds and 27 double-doubles. His physically imposing play in the NCAA tournament propelled the Wildcats to the final, where they lost to Connecticut. No doubt, Randle will end up in the top three NBA draft slots, and John Calipari’s 2014–2015 team will have to figure out how to play without him.
Tyler Ennis (Syracuse)
A few NCAA coaches still complain about one-and-dones wanting to make millions in the NBA; however they themselves make millions coaching college basketball because of the excitement that the one-and-dones provide.
One of those coaches is Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, who publicly implied that Tyler Ennis could use another year of development before heading to the NBA.
Ennis will be a first-round pick, and although Boeheim suggested that being in the middle of the first round is “nothing.” Ennis averaged 12.9 points per game, 3.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists during his one-and-done season with the Orange.
Aaron Gordon (Arizona)
It’s hard to imagine a height of 6 feet 8.5 inches tall could be “too small” for the NBA, but Aaron Gordon is pretty small compared to many other power forwards. However, what he lacks in heft he makes up for in speed, explosiveness and outstanding athleticism.
Gordon may not be a top five pick, but he could go around No. 7 or No. 8. As Gordon improves his ball handling, he’s earning more and more comparisons to L.A. Clippers power forward Blake Griffin.
Gordon, like Griffin, struggles with the two-point jumper, but once he improves his fluidity, he’ll be a formidable force.
Is Anyone Staying in School?
Pretty much everyone from 2013’s “Year of the Freshman” class who has a first-round shot is headed for the NBA draft. Others might be staying in school. Players like the Harrison twins in Kentucky aren’t in first-round contention. Dakari Johnson would go in the second round, or he could sneak into the first round if he’s lucky. Joel Embiid had a great freshman season for Kansas, but he sat out the NCAA tournament with a back injury, which might affect his NBA hopes.
As much as NCAA coaches complain about one-and-done, having these talented freshmen, even if just for a year, greatly increases the excitement and the visibility of their programs. Time will tell whether Jabari Parker does become the next Kevin Durant or whether he gets lost in a very talented pack.
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It’s difficult to imagine now that he’s become one of the NBA’s best players, but after an impressive senior year at Harold L. Richards High School in Chicago, Dwyane Wade received scholarship offers from only three schools.
The lack of major interest in Wade was predominantly due to academic issues, which would also cost him his freshman season as a Marquette Golden Eagle.
Many would fold in surrender after being told that they were ineligible to play their first year of college ball, but throughout his career Wade has shown his strength of character by refusing to give up when faced with an obstacle.
Instead, Wade focused his energy on both his game and his education, and he joined the Marquette squad for the 2001-2002 season determined to make up for lost time.
Wade led Marquette in scoring with 17.8ppg as a Sophomore and the following season established himself as one of the best players in all of college basketball, earning All-American honors while leading the Golden Eagles to a Final Four appearance. He declared shortly thereafter for the stacked 2003 NBA Draft and the Miami Heat eagerly took him with the fifth overall pick.
Despite being somewhat overshadowed by fellow rookies LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, Wade immediately made his presence known in the professional ranks, averaging 16.2ppg and leading the Heat to the second round of the playoffs in his first season. He soon became one of the quickest ballhandlers in the league, using a deft crossover that would allow him to pull up before stumbling defenders or use his speed and leaping ability to attack the rim.
The 2004 offseason featured the arrival of future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal in a blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Lakers. Wade was forced to adapt his playing style to fit with O’Neal’s large frame and even larger personality. He gladly accepted this challenge and instantly jelled with his new big man, making his first All-Star game in 2005 and leading the Heat into the NBA Finals the following season against the Dallas Mavericks.
After dropping the first two games of the Finals, Wade found his team down by 13 points in the fourth quarter of Game 3. Fortunately for the Heat faithful Wade thrived under the pressure of the big stage, and he responded by scoring 15 points in the quarter to lead Miami to a stirring comeback win en route to a 4-2 series win.
Wade averaged 34.7ppg in the series to capture the Finals MVP trophy.
The next five years had their ups and downs for Dwyane Wade – the successes of a scoring title and Olympic Gold Medal were offset by a series of frustrating injuries and disappointing team results.
Miami’s fortunes would turn during the summer of 2010, when all-star free agents LeBron James and Chris Bosh agreed to sign with the Heat (with some convinced that Wade’s salesmanship deserved much of the credit for the two joining the team).
With the best pair of teammates he’d ever played with, Wade faced a new challenge; even when he played alongside O’Neal, Wade was able to dominate ball possession and let the offense run through him. With James on board, Wade had to suppress his ego and play the role of second (and occasionally third) option. Once again he was up to the task and helped the Heat to three straight NBA Finals, including championship wins in the past two seasons.
Through academic ineligibility, injuries, and the repeated need to adapt his game to his teammates, Dwyane Wade has consistently had to overcome obstacles to achieve greatness. Success must be earned, and he continues to do just that.
It wasn’t easy, but that’s what makes him Dwyane Wade.
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The Toronto Raptors are currently sitting atop the Atlantic Division and seven games above .500. While most basketball fans would like their basketball money-lines, their inconsistent style of play have them as a risky bet moving forward.
Fans are elated because the team has one of the easiest schedules the remainder of the season because the combined win percentage of the Raptors’ opponents for the remainder of the season is .453.
On top of that, the team survived a tough early schedule and Toronto is 26-13 since Rudy Gay last played for them which is tied for the 2nd-most wins in the NBA in that time (since December 8).
Things look great, right? Wrong.
Against the Chicago Bulls they dug a hole early when they gave up 31 points in the first quarter. They clawed back after holding Chicago to 39 combined points in the second (17 points) and third quarters (22), but the sluggish start doomed them.
Then against Cleveland they only scored 16 points in the first quarter and had to rely on 37 points in the third quarter to steal the win.
Slow starts hurt them once again when they only scored 19 points against Orlando. Lucky for them they held Orlando to 17 points in the first quarter while exploding for 36 points in the third quarter.
Sure, the team is 7-3 over their past ten and appear to have an easy schedule to close out the season, but things are far from easy moving forward. Toronto needs to find a way to start games strong, play hard on both ends of the court and find some sort of consistency.
If not, Toronto’s surprising season will end in disappointment.