NBA Conference Finals feature compelling matchups

Stephen Curry and the top seeded Golden State Warriors now know their opponent in the Western Conference Finals. Now the MVP must play at a high level to get his team to the NBA Finals.

Stephen Curry and the top seeded Golden State Warriors now know their opponent in the Western Conference Finals. Now the MVP must play at a high level to get his team to the NBA Finals.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The Western Conference finals are now set as the Golden State Warriors will host the Houston Rockets after a convincing game 7 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday afternoon. The Eastern Conference championship will also feature the top 2 seeds in the conference as the Atlanta Hawks will host the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Curry received his MVP reward a couple weeks ago, now he hopes to add a ring to his trophy.

Curry received his MVP reward a few weeks ago, now he hopes to add a ring to his trophy.

This postseason could conclude with history being made as 2 of the remaining teams have never won an NBA title. The Warriors only NBA championship came in 1974-75 with a team featuring Hall of Fame players Rick Barry and a rookie at the time Jamaal Wilkes. This Warriors team hopes to continue the momentum they created in defeating a tough Memphis Grizzlies team. Stephen Curry, fresh off of winning NBA MVP this year, will go head-to-head with the runner-up to the MVP award in James Harden.

Dwight Howard (l) and James Harden (r) are hoping to return to the NBA Finals together after having suffered separate defeats on the biggest stage.

Dwight Howard (l) and James Harden (r) are hoping to return to the NBA Finals together after having suffered separate defeats on the biggest stage.

The Rockets are hoping to build on their own momentum after becoming just the 9th team to overcome a 3 – 1 deficit and win the series. Harden and Dwight Howard are hoping to return to the NBA Finals stage together where they were both on the losing side in their own separate championship appearances. The Rockets won back-to-back championships in 1994 and 1995 with Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon leading the way.

If the Hawks are to advance, they must continue to receive good production from their starters, (l - r) Paul Milsap, Al Horford, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, and Jeff Teague (not pictured).

If the Hawks are to advance, they must continue to receive good production from their starters, (l – r) Paul Milsap, Al Horford, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, and Jeff Teague (not pictured).

The Atlanta Hawks are also looking to achieve an historic end to their season as the franchise searches for its first NBA title. The Hawks have had several close games so far this playoffs, but have found ways to have different players step up at key moments. Though the Hawks are the higher seed, many consider the Cavaliers the favorites to win the series, largely because of the brilliance of LeBron James in recent years in the playoffs.

LeBron James (l) and his teammates Tristan Thompson (m) and Kyrie Irving (r) are looking to continue moving through the playoffs despite injuries to key players this postseason.

LeBron James (l) and his teammates Tristan Thompson (m) and Kyrie Irving (r) are looking to continue moving through the playoffs despite injuries to key players this postseason.

If the Cavaliers are able to get past the Hawks, it will make the 5th consecutive NBA Finals appearance for LeBron James, a feat reminiscent of the 1960’s and those Bill Russell led Boston Celtics. The Cavaliers will have an uphill battle considering they are without starting forward Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving has been battling injuries throughout the playoffs as well. So far injuries have not impacted the playoffs significantly yet as the 2 top seeds in each conference are playing for a chance to go to the NBA Finals.

Earlier this year on OnPointPress.net, this writer said offense, not defense wins championships in this NBA. Time will tell if that theory continues to hold true this year in the NBA Finals.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr is a sports aficionado and a licensed insurance agent with Health Markets. Follow me @GloverIsGood Twitter.com.

OKC’s Russell Westbrook’s popularity soars in wide open NBA MVP race

(l-r) James Harden, Stephen Curry, LeBron James, and Russell Westbrook have made strong cases for NBA MVP this season.

(l-r) James Harden, Stephen Curry, LeBron James, and Russell Westbrook have made strong cases for NBA MVP this season.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

There are roughly six weeks left in the current NBA regular season and the race for NBA’s Most Valuable Player is still wide open. As teams finish the last quarter of the regular season, fans will weigh in on their favorite for MVP this year. The MVP race is indicative of an excellent NBA regular season that has about two thirids of the teams jockeying for playoff position at this time.

Karl Malone finished just ahead of Alonzo Mourning and Tim Duncan to win his 2nd MVP in 1998-99.

Karl Malone finished just ahead of Alonzo Mourning and Tim Duncan to win his 2nd MVP in 1998-99.

This MVP race is setting up to be the closest race since the 1998-99 lockout shortened NBA season when Karl Malone won his second MVP award. What makes this season comparable to that one is that there was no strong favorite to win the NBA title for that season which seemed to enhance the importance of the regular season. This season has the same uncertainty about the postseason, which makes playoff seeding and the regular season seem more important than usual. Here is the case for the top MVP candidates:

LeBron James is in the MVP conversation every season and this  year is no different. He might be in line for his 5th MVP this year.

LeBron James is in the MVP conversation every season and this year is no different. He might be in line for his 5th MVP this year.

Four- time regular season MVP-winner LeBron James is helping his Cleveland Cavaliers move up in the standings in the Eastern Conference while having his usual fantastic season. James is currently third in scoring with 26.3 ppg and seventh in assists at 7.3 apg. His value is not only determined simply by his numbers as the Cavaliers had a recent stretch of winning 19 out of 21 games. James can solidify his fifth MVP if his team can continue moving up in the standings because James will continue playing at his current high level.

Stephen Curry has emerged as a top star this year while his team has emerged as a title contender this season.

Stephen Curry has emerged as a top star this year while his team has emerged as a title contender this season.

Stephen Curry has helped the Golden State Warriors  reach the top of the Western Conference at this point of the season. Curry is currently fifth in scoring  with 23.8 ppg sixth in assists at 7.8 apg. Curry has seen his national profile grow in conjunction with the success of his team this season. At this time, the Warriors have the best record in the West at 47 – 12. If they can maintain their lead in the conference, it will greatly help Curry’s MVP case.

James Harden won the 6th man of the Year Award a few years ago while playing for the Thunder. Harden is hoping to add MVP to his mantle in Houston this year.

James Harden won the 6th man of the Year Award a few years ago while playing for the Thunder. Harden is hoping to add MVP to his mantle in Houston this year.

James Harden has been excellent this season for the Houston Rockets. His impact has  has been necessary with Dwight Howard’s many injuries. Harden is currently second in scoring with ppg 26.9 and tenth in assists at 7 apg. His scoring and playmaking have helped the Rockets stay in the hunt for home court advantage in the playoffs this season. If Harden can regain the scoring lead and help the Rockets finish as a top four seed in the West, it will drastically help his case for MVP.

Russell Westbrook's recent hot stretch has helped change perceptions that Westbrook is a selfish player. Westbrook may add regular season MVP to All-Star game MVP if continues playing at his current pace.

Russell Westbrook’s recent hot stretch has helped change perceptions that Westbrook is a selfish player. Westbrook may add regular season MVP to All-Star game MVP if continues playing at his current pace.

Russell Westbrook has helped keep the Oklahoma City Thunder’s playoff hopes alive with the prolonged absence of last season’s MVP Kevin Durant. Westbrook’s recent stretch of four consecutive triple-doubles has helped move him to the top of the NBA in scoring with 27 ppg and fourth in assists at 8.2 apg. The Thunder are still battling with the Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans for the final playoff spot in a tough Western Conference. If Westbrook can maintain his high level of play and help the Thunder move up from the 8th seed, it would help his MVP case.

This season will be remembered for many things: James’ reunification in Cleveland, injuries to top stars, and the disappointment of some the NBA’s most esteemed franchises. However, the playoffs and MVP race will likely make this season remembered fondly for years to come.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a training/benefits consultant. Follow me @GloverIsGood on Twiiter.com. For business inquiries contact (646)309-1938.

NBA stars Dwight Howard and Joe Smith clash with their reality TV exes

Houston Rockets center received news today that he will not be facing charges stemming from child abuse allegations made against him.

Houston Rockets center received news today that he will not be facing charges stemming from child abuse allegations made against him.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Dwight Howard may be known for his defense in the NBA but it was his attorneys who provided the assist as he defended himself against allegations of child abuse. In a case that is very similar to allegations against NFL star Adrian Peterson, Howard, former #1 overall draft pick in 2004, and current center for the Houston Rockets, allegedly beat his 6 year-old son with a belt, causing visible marks on the child’s rear end and legs. The allegations were brought to light by the mother of the child, former Basketball Wives cast member Royce Reed.

Howard and his ex-girlfriend Royce Reed have a lengthy record of public disagreements since their break-up. Many of the issues surround their now 6 year-old son.

Howard and his ex-girlfriend Royce Reed have a lengthy record of public disagreements since their break-up. Many of the issues surround their now 6- year-old son.

TMZ Sports initially posted the story about authorities clearing Howard of wrongdoing in this matter on their site this morning. Reed responded to the post on Instagram stating:

“The case is not closed and he is/was not cleared! The investigation is still open as he refuses to speak to the police. So whoever these reps are that are trying to slander me, just know the gloves are off and I’m not the one to play with when it comes to my son. That is all.”

Reed and Howard have completely different views of the matter that led to the allegations of child abuse.

Reed and Howard have completely different views of the matter that led to the allegations of child abuse.

Shortly thereafter, TMZ Sports had the following update: “We now have confirmation that the Florida Dept. of Children and Families closed the investigation, concluding, ‘The investigation is being closed with no substantiated findings of physical injuries.’ The report also states Howard was interviewed by authorities.”

No further comments have been made by Reed on the matter. Howard is yet to comment on this story.

Retired NBA player Joe Smith and his ex-girlfriend Moniece Slaughter have different views about how $109,000 ended up in the bank account of Slaughter's friend

Retired NBA player Joe Smith and his ex-girlfriend Moniece have different views about how $109,000 ended up in the bank account of Slaughter’s friend, Timothy Clayton Carr.

News outlets also reported on the challenge ex-NBA player Joe Smith is having with his reality star ex-girlfriend Moniece Slaughter. Smith, former #1 overall draft pick of the Golden State Warriors in 1995, alleges that Slaughter, a cast member of Love & Hip Hop Hollywood, swindled him out of $109,000 by writing several phony checks while the two were dating.

Between 0ctober 2011 and March 2012, Smith claims that 9 different checks were written on his behalf to a man named Timothy Clayton Carr, without Smith’s knowledge or consent. Carr is Slaughter’s friend and has explained that he was unaware of the checks being stolen but had cashed them to help Slaughter who did not have a bank account at the time. Whatever the explanation, Smith wants the case to be prosecuted and is ready and willing to press charges.

Joe Smith was the #1 overall draft pick in 1995 by the Golden State Warriors. Smith played 16 seasons in the NBA, his last team being the Los Angeles Lakers in 2011.

Joe Smith was the #1 overall draft pick in 1995 by the Golden State Warriors. Smith played 16 seasons in the NBA, his last team being the Los Angeles Lakers in 2011.

Police reported to TMZ Sports that the case is still open and actively being investigated, which is of little relief to Smith, who is anxious to bring this matter to court after waiting almost three years. Smith tells TMZ Sports that he is “frustrated the case remains unresolved and feels police have been giving him the runaround.”–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover Jr is a sports aficionado and a training and benefits consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com. For business inquiries contact (646) 309-1938.

2014 NBA All-Star game starters announced, surprising changes made

The starters for the Eastern and Western Conference were revealed Thursday night.

The starters for the Eastern and Western Conference were revealed Thursday night.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Last night, the National Basketball Association (NBA) revealed the starters for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game, as voted on by the fans. The starters are a combination of fan favorites and first time starters. The Eastern Conference will be represented by Kyrie Irving, Dwayne Wade, Paul George, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony. The Western Conference starters are Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, and Kevin Durant. The reserve players will be selected by the coaches and revealed next Thursday. The injured players that are elected to the all-star team will be replaced by players selected by the commissioner.

The NBA continues to make jerseys with sleeves despite fan reaction.

The NBA continues to make jerseys with sleeves despite poor fan reaction.

The NBA continues to tweak what is considered by many to be the best all-star game of the major professional sports. Unfortunately, the recent changes have not been good. This year’s jerseys were largely disliked by the fans when they were unveiled a few weeks ago. The NBA has also changed the voting format which eliminated the center position from the fan ballot. The result this year is a starting line-up in both conferences devoid of a center. In the previous format, Dwight Howard and Roy Hibbert would likely be starters for the West and East respectively. While these changes seem subtle, they change the composition of the teams and make the game more difficult to enjoy, especially with such distracting jerseys.

The classic look of this Michael Jordan jersey would not only make a difference aesthetically, but likely monetarily as well.

The classic look of this Michael Jordan jersey would not only make a difference aesthetically, but likely monetarily as well.

A few simple changes can help the NBA All-Star game reclaim its former glory as the most exciting exhibition game. First, return the all-star game to early in the afternoon on Sunday instead of the late night time slot it currently has. Most sports fans are accustomed to having a premier sporting event Sunday afternoon and this game was featured at that time successfully for years. Secondly, go back to the classic all-star game uniforms. Fans like acquiring jerseys they want to wear outside, not these pajama look-a-likes the NBA is pushing this season. Last, but not least, add two more players to the all-star roster per team. There are 30 NBA teams but only 24 all-star player spots. There are always more deserving players than all-star positions, but adding two players for each side would create more slots to reward a greater variety of players in the league.

The NBA All-Star Weekend is a great platform for the league to showcase their young talent, 3-point specialists, best dunkers, and best players in the league this season. There is no need for the novelty ideas for this all-star game because, unlike with other major sports, the best players will be on the court when it matters and the game will always include memorable highlights. In this case, revisiting the past might be what’s best for the future of the NBA All-Star game.–OnPointPress.net–

 

Charles Glover Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

3 bold predictions for the 2013-14 NBA Season

Dwight Howard (l) and James Harden (r) will lead the Houston Rockets to the championship this season.

Dwight Howard (l) and James Harden (r) will lead the Houston Rockets to the championship this season.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) opened the new season on October 29, 2013 and the prevailing question for this new season is: Will the Miami Heat win a third straight title? Many are predicting a third successful title run for the Heat. That is a natural conclusion considering how well the team has played the past few seasons.

These bold predictions for this NBA season are sure to create a stir. Feel free to comment on which of these predictions (if any) you feel may end up coming true.

Kobe Bryant will have the most challenging individual season of his career this year.

Kobe Bryant will have the most challenging individual season of his career this year.

Bold Prediction No.1: Kobe Bryant will not average more than 20 points per game this season. The Achilles tear that Bryant suffered is a devastating injury that would immediately lower expectations of almost every other athlete for at least one year after  sustaining that type of  injury. Bryant’s reputation for playing through pain has fooled many analysts into believing that he will not only resemble his former self, but that he will do so soon. It is hard to envision Bryant playing before December. Additionally, the rigors of the NBA season will make it difficult for Bryant to create the space for his shot or get past defenders. These factors will lead to a sub par season for the Black Mamba.

John Wall will lead the Wizards to a first round upset in the Eastern Conference this season.

John Wall will lead the Wizards to a first round upset in the Eastern Conference this season.

Bolder Prediction No.2: The Washington Wizards will advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs this season. Four teams in the Eastern Conference are heavily favored to advance in this season’s upcoming playoffs: The Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, and Brooklyn Nets. These four teams have players that have had recent postseason success together. The Wizards, on the other hand, have not made the playoffs since the 2007-2008 season and only a couple of the teams’ players have ever been to the playoffs before. It may seem unreasonable to expect a team with such playoff inexperience to advance but just last season we saw a Warriors team in a similar circumstance unexpectedly advance to the second round.

(L-R) Chandler Parsons, Dwight Howard, James Harden, and Jeremy Lin are the players that will lead the Rockets through the playoffs this season.

(L-R) Chandler Parsons, Dwight Howard, James Harden, and Jeremy Lin are the players that will lead the Rockets through the playoffs this season.

Boldest Prediction No.3: The 2013-14 NBA Champions will be the Houston Rockets.(In full disclosure this article is not being written by a Rockets fan. I root for favorite player Russell Westbrook) so this is not wishful thinking because my desire is for the Thunder to win it all. The reasoning for this prediction is about the Miami Heat’s challenge to win a third straight title and the team in the West that seems best equipped to stop the Heat from reaching that goal. The interior presence of Dwight Howard and Omer Asik can present problems for most teams in the league and the Rockets have excellent perimeter players, led by James Harden, who can not only shoot well but get to the basket and finish. This combination of talent and playoff experience of the Rockets’ two best players (Howard and Harden) seems like a familiar mixture (Celtics in 2008 and Mavericks in 2011) that has led to the accomplishment of ultimate postseason goal: The NBA Championship.–OnPointPress.net

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant.