Three life lessons NBA Finals 2016 taught us

An emotional LeBron James embraces teammate Kevin Love after the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors to become 2016 NBA Champions.

An emotional LeBron James embraces teammate Kevin Love while J. R. Smith celebrates nearby after the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors to become 2016 NBA Champions.

By Carmen Glover

It’s no secret that sports sometimes act as a metaphor for life and amid the rush of euphoria being felt by fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers who won their first NBA Championship with a decisive 93-89 victory over the Golden State Warriors, there are some important lessons to learn. The victory comes after a 52-year drought in professional team championship in Cleveland in any sport.

As NBA fans around the globe celebrate with the deserving Cavaliers (I was rooting for Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors because I admire his tattoo-free, wholesome image and his thrilling style of play) the lessons that can be derived from the results of the NBA Finals 2016 are worthy of emulation.

The Cleveland Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Golden State Warriors and win the 2016 NBA Championship trophy.

The Cleveland Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Golden State Warriors and win the 2016 NBA Championship trophy.

  1.  Never Give Up On Your Dreams

Throughout his life, James, 31, has been driven to succeed, propelled by a fierce desire to escape poverty, reach the pinnacle of basketball, while being an astute businessman, loyal friend, devoted father and exemplary team-mate. After a successful career at St Vincent-St. Mary High School, he was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft

After failing to win an NBA championship, he bolted for Miami Heat in 2010 in a controversial ESPN special called “The Decision,” in which he famously announced that he was “taking my talents to South Beach.”  With the Heat, he won consecutive NBA championship titles in 2012 and 2013 before returning to Cleveland to lead his team to the ultimate victory last night, June 19, coming back from 3-1, a feat never before seen in the NBA Finals. “Cleveland,” James screamed as tears of joy streamed down his face, “This is for you.”

In his first year as head coach, Tyronn Lue, 37, leads the Cleveland Cavaliers to the team's first NBA Championship.

In his first year as head coach, Tyronn Lue, 39, leads the Cleveland Cavaliers to the team’s first NBA Championship.

In life, we all face disappointments, uncertainty, betrayals and what appears to be insurmountable odds but the key to true success is an unwavering impetus to keep on pushing and fighting until the bitter end. Curry and the Warriors failed miserably in that regard, which, though unfortunate, provided a poignant lesson to all viewers of the game

 2.  Leaders Set An Example

Throughout the NBA regular season and Finals, it was evident that James was frustrated with his teammates when they failed to perform according to what was expected. In the past, he took out his frustration by posting cryptic messages on social media and demonstrating questionable body language.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are 2016 NBA Champions.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are 2016 NBA Champions.

But when the team was in the 3-1 Finals hole, an epiphany occurred and the Cavaliers finally understood that they were in that hole together. Every member of the team stepped up and contributed with James, Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Richard Jefferson and Kevin Love providing pivotal, albeit inconsistent and spirited, performances. Banding together, the Cavaliers erased all questions about their supremacy and created NBA history by becoming the first team to come back from a 3 game deficit to win the championship.

With first- time head coach Tyronn Lue at the helm, the team responded, came together and were victorious. Conversely, the Warriors fell apart, in more ways than one, with Draymond Green missing game five due to a suspension and Curry being ejected during game six. Meanwhile, coach Steve Kerr, basking in the glory of a team assembled by former Knick Mark Jackson, disappeared along with Klay Thompson, Shaun Livingston and other usually productive players.

Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors failed to repeat as consecutive NBA Finals Champions as LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers battled valiantly to the finish and emerged victorious.

Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors failed to repeat as consecutive NBA Finals Champions as LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers battled valiantly to the finish and emerged victorious.

3.  Achieving Goals Require Grit and Focus

The Warriors got caught up in the hype after winning their first two games on home turf and stealing one in Cavaliers territory. They became complacent and sloppy, conducting themselves with a careless aura of arrogance that was shortsighted at best and immature at worst. Amid the theatrics, they forgot one important lesson: It takes single-minded focus and grit to achieve goals and you cannot rest until you taste victory.

The Cavaliers, on the other hand, were steadfast in their goal of hoisting the NBA Championship trophy. They recovered swiftly from their mistakes and remained focused on the task at hand. They played with passion and purpose. The Cleveland Cavaliers deserved to win and the lessons that their championship run taught us can be applied to every life situation. Congratulations to the Cleveland Cavaliers! Well done and thanks for the lessons!–OnPointPress.net–

 

 

Expect a thrilling NBA Finals series

Golden State Warriors' leader Stephen Curry has exemplified grace under pressure.

Golden State Warriors’ leader Stephen Curry has exemplified grace under pressure.

By Carmen Glover

When the NBA Finals series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors begins on Thursday, June 2, excitement will color the mood of the players and fans from the tip-off because both teams have something to prove.

LeBron James took his talents back to the Cleveland Cavaliers where he intends to win not one, not two, but several chamionships.

LeBron James took his talents back to the Cleveland Cavaliers where he intends to win not one, not two, but several championships.

The Warriors aim to demonstrate convincingly that their impressive, 73-game, history making, regular season numbers, and back-from-the-brink second round match up with the Oklahoma City Thunder were not anomalies. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers intend to do everything possible from preventing the Warriors from defending their title as champions.

Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving (2) and LeBron James (23) celebrate the team's victory.

Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving (2) and LeBron James (23) celebrate one of the team’s many victories.

In every respect, the NBA Finals series will be rich with high emotions, intense plays, edge-of-the seat drama and palpable, raw, unchecked girt. This is what the playoffs are made of, a fierce battle between competitive, evenly matched teams. After several days of relaxation from their series with the Toronto Raptors, LeBron James, Kyrie  Irving, Kevin Love and the rest of the Cavaliers squad are rearing to take the fight to the Warriors, especially since James made it very clear during the regular season that he was unimpressed with Stephen Curry being named the MVP.

The Golden State Warriors celebrate their trip to the NBA Finals.

Klay Thompson (11) and Draymond Green (center) joyously celebrate The Golden State Warriors’ second consecutive trip to the NBA Finals.

Stoic and seemingly unswayed by James’ views, the understated Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and the rest of the Warriors team have proven that they are scrappy, focused and driven to succeed. Let the games begin!–OnPointPress.net–

 

Warriors aim to repeat as NBA Champions

After a close MVP race this NBA season, James Harden (l) and Stephen Curry (r) are the clear frontrunners to win the award.

James Harden (l) and Stephen Curry (r) will continue their rivalry during the post season with game two tonight.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The Golden State Warriors, toast of the NBA during the regular season, entered the post-season on a good note. The Warriors beat last season’s Western Conference opponents, the Houston Rockets, in their game opener with their star, Steph Curry, scoring 24 points before leaving the game due to a recurring ankle injury.

The Warriors started the regular season with 24 straight wins, a record in the NBA. They capped their historic season with 73 wins, setting a new record for wins in the regular season by winning one more than the Chicago Bulls in their 1990s heyday.  Anything short of an NBA title will be a major disappointment for the Warriors.

The Golden State Warriors celebrate their trip to the NBA Finals.

The Golden State Warriors celebrate their trip to the NBA Finals in 2015.

Curry, last season’s regular season MVP, was better this year despite head coach Steve Kerr missing the first half of the season recovering from back surgery. Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and others are performing well. Overall, the team played all season with a heightened level of confidence earned by winning it all last season.

This year the Warriors lost only once to a team (San Antonio Spurs) that finished in the top four in their conference. They finished second to the Spurs for the best home record in the NBA with 39 wins and just 2 losses. There is no question they are the overwhelming favorite to win the title this year.

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  are focused on repeating as NBA champions this year.

Essentially, there are no excuses for the Warriors to lose in the playoffs. Curry proved on Saturday that he could deliver results despite his ankle Injury and the same dedication is expected of his team mates. Last season, LeBron James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals minus two of his best teammates for a significant portion of the playoffs as Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving both endured serious injury during the playoffs.

Fatigue cannot be used as an excuse as the bulk of the Warriors team is in their physical prime. The Warriors they have rested players at various junctions throughout the season. They have defeated all competitors this season and there is no reason not to expect a dominant post-season performance from the defending champions. That is what an all-time great team is expected to do.–OnPointPress.net–

 

Golden State Warriors win 2015 NBA title, Iguodala is MVP, after magical season

The Golden State Warriors shoed teamwork is needed to win NBA Finals 2015.

The Golden State Warriors showed that teamwork is needed to win NBA Finals 2015.

Stephen Curry has led his team with humility and poise.

Stephen Curry has led his team with humility and poise.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The Golden State Warriors responded to a 2 -1 series deficit by winning three consecutive games to win their first NBA Championship since 1975 with a final score of 105 – 97 on Tuesday, June 16 in Cleveland. Regular season MVP Stephen Curry led the team with 25 points in the game, but the Warriors got great production from forwards Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green. Green notched a triple-double with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists while Iguodala tied the team’s lead in scoring with 25 points and was named NBA Finals MVP.

Golden State Warriors' leader Stephen Curry has exemplified grace under pressure.

Golden State Warriors’ leader Stephen Curry has exemplified grace under pressure.

LeBron James finished the game with a near triple-double himself scoring 32 points with 18 rebounds and 9 assists. The Cavaliers clearly missed the injured Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love as they struggled to find consistent production throughout the series. The Warriors were able to capitalize on 16 turnovers by the Cavaliers to generate good ball movement that resulted in 28 team assists for the game.

Andre Iguodala was named NBA Finals MVP, beating out self-proclaimed "best player in the world" Lebron James from the Cleveland Caveliers.

Andre Iguodala was named NBA Finals MVP, beating out self-proclaimed “best player in the world” Lebron James from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In the battle of first year NBA head coaches, the Warriors’ Steve Kerr was able to out-strategize the Cavaliers’ David Blatt. The series shifted after Kerr’s game 4 decision to start Iguodala and the Warriors never looked back. In all fairness to Blatt, the Cavaliers were not left with many options after losing Irving during game one, but the team still had their chances in the series. Cleveland has nothing to be ashamed of as they played valiantly through adversity and received extraordinary efforts from their leader James. One can only wonder what the series would have looked like if the Cavaliers were healthier.

Former Golden State Warriors Coach Mark Jackson set the foundation for the team's successful 2014-2015 season and NBA 2015 Finals win.

Former Golden State Warriors Coach Mark Jackson set the foundation for the team’s successful 2014-2015 season and NBA 2015 Finals win.

On the other hand, the win caps off a magical season for Curry, who becomes just the third point guard to earn regular season MVP honors and win the NBA title in the same season. The splash brothers, Curry and Klay Thompson, made their former NBA playing dads, Dell Curry and Mychal Thompson, proud just in time for Father’s Day.

Steve Kerr seems like a genius, in hindsight, for spurning the New York Knicks and choosing to lead the young Golden State Warriors team that former NBA coach and current TV Analyst Mark Jackson assembled.

Steve Kerr seems like a genius, in hindsight, for spurning the New York Knicks and choosing to lead the young Golden State Warriors team that former NBA coach and current TV Analyst Mark Jackson assembled.

There will be plenty of celebrating in the Bay Area in the next couple of days after a very exciting season. Congratulations to the Warriors, 2015 NBA champions, and congratulations to St. John’s product Mark Jackson who was instrumental in implementing the winning philosophy and culture that Kerr inherited in leading a young, talented, likeable team to the pinnacle of victory..–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and licensed insurance agent with HealthMarkets. Follow him on Twitter at @GloverIsGood.

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.

Will the NBA’s post-season live up to its exciting regular season?

The Golden State Warriors (top) and Atlanta Hawks (bottom) enter the playoffs as #1 seeds in their conference this year.

The Golden State Warriors (top) and Atlanta Hawks (bottom) enter the playoffs as #1 seeds in their conference this year.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The NBA regular season came to a scintillating conclusion Wednesday night as playoff positions were finally set. The eighth seed was decided on game 82 for both conferences and the scoring title was settled as well. The end of the regular season means that struggling teams can move on to making preparations for betters seasons next year, while playoff teams prepare for the post-season marathon.

After a close MVP race this NBA season, James Harden (l) and Stephen Curry (r) are the clear frontrunners to win the award.

After a close, nail-biting MVP race this NBA season, James Harden (l) and Stephen Curry (r) are the clear front-runners to win the award.

The NBA post-season will have to be spectacular to equal the exciting regular season which featured an MVP race for the ages, a scoring title race decided on the final day, and several meaningful games Wednesday night.  The Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks set season records for franchise victories, while teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics rebounded from the cellar of the NBA last year to make the playoffs this year.

Anthony Davis (l) and Kyrie Irving (r) are 2 of several notable players making their playoff debuts this postseason.

Anthony Davis (l) and Kyrie Irving (r) are two of the many notable players making their playoff debuts this postseason.

The pairings for the playoffs are:

EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF MATCHUPS
1. Atlanta Hawks vs. 8. Brooklyn Nets
2. Cleveland Cavaliers vs. 7. Boston Celtics
3. Chicago Bulls vs. 6. Milwaukee Bucks
4. Toronto Raptors vs. 5. Washington Wizards

WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF MATCHUPS
1. Golden State Warriors vs. 8. New Orleans Pelicans
2. Houston Rockets vs. 7. Dallas Mavericks
3. Los Angeles Clippers vs. 6. San Antonio Spurs
4. Portland Trail Blazers vs. 5. Memphis Grizzlies*
*Grizzlies will have home-court advantage

The playoffs will be different this season as playoff regulars like Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook will be absent this year with their teams’ failure to secure playoff berths. The NBA post-season is in good hands though, as emerging superstars like Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, and James Harden will have the opportunity to add important playoff experience to their impressive regular season resumes.

In the end, it is highly possible that either LeBron James (c) and his Cavaliers or Tim Duncan (l) and Greg Popovich (r) and the Spurs will be playing for the championship again this year.

In the end, it is highly possible that either LeBron James (c) and his Cavaliers or Tim Duncan (l) and Greg Popovich (r) and the Spurs will be playing for the championship again this year.

Other stars like Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, John Wall, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving will be able to take the next step in their careers and advance deep into the playoffs for the first time. As interesting as it will be to see some of the new faces in the post-season, in the end, LeBron James and the San Antonio Spurs will likely play a major role in determining the championship. Again.–OnPointPress.net

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a training/benefits consultant. Follow me @GloverIsGood on Twitter.com.

NCAA March Madness vs. NBA draft policy: Are changes needed? (Part I)

The logo for the NBA draft.

The NBA Draft Logo is on the minds of March Madness players who hope to make the leap to the NBA this summer, but as debate heats up it is clear that changes should be considered.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

As March Madness continues to draw more basketball fans to the television, the topic of players making it to the National Basketball Association (NBA) frequently comes up. The current model for the NBA draft allows for players to declare for the draft a year after graduation from high school. The common route for exceptional players is to spend a year in college playing basketball before declaring for the draft, a prospect that many are unhappy with and constantly discuss.

NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West

NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West has shared his views about the draft policy.

It is clear that the current NBA draft model is unpopular with many fans and players. Among the complaints with the model are the claims that NBA product is being compromised, the NCAA product is disturbed, and that the majority of the young players are unprepared for the fame, fortune, and high expectations. Although there is validity in some of these concerns, there are also exaggerations attached as well. Hall of Famer Jerry West, recently commented on the issue, in assessing the NBA talent pool.

“The NBA is in the worst shape it’s ever been,'” he said. One of the reasons for his critique was based on the number of young players yet to mature into what they were expected to as they were brought into the league. Another Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley, took it a step further by making it very clear that players need more time.

“I want kids to stay in college for two years…bad teams aren’t getting help, they’re getting projects,” Barkley said.

Barkley has been vocal as a March Madness commentator in sharing his opinion that college players need a minimum of two years in college to mature enough to be productive in the NBA as soon as they are drafted.

Hall of Famer Charles Barkley

Hall of Famer /TNT and March Madness Commentator Charles Barkley has consistently stated that potential NBA players need a minimum of two years in college in order to develop their game.

While West and Barkley are focusing on negative aspects of young players drafted in the NBA, they are completely absolving the executives that are paid millions to evaluate and enhance the performance of the young players they bring into the league. In fact, there is no direct correlation between age and performance as demonstrated by many of the recent draft classes. When supporters of players being eligible to enter the NBA straight out of high school mention recent ‘One-and-done players’ who are successful in the NBA, the counter is to call them ‘exceptions.’

The reality is every NBA player is the exception. Additionally, there is little to show that players like Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, or John Wall needed to stay in school a second year in order to become good players in the NBA. However, there is no escaping the reality that there is always an abundance of players not quite good enough to excel at the highest level of basketball, regardless of how long they prepare before entering the league. A possible solution is changing the NBA draft to resemble the college draft rules of Major League Baseball (MLB).

Anthony Davis (l) and Kyrie Irving (r) are former number 1 overall picks that spent less than two years in college.

Anthony Davis (l) and Kyrie Irving (r) are former No. 1 overall picks who spent less than two years in college.

MLB’s draft rules allow players to declare for the draft straight out of high school but if the player elects to go to college he must stay for at least three years. The NBA should adopt that rule and amend it to two years in college. The NBA is the best place for players to improve their games.

“College coaches work more on masking a player’s weaknesses…rather than improving the player and risk losing in the process,” NBA trainer and ESPN insider David Thorpe said about the issue.

Thorpe’s assessment explains why so many players have several skills that need to be developed, even after spending years in college. If the NBA wants to improve its product then the new commissioner, Adam Silver, and his team needs to hold the million dollar executives who own and operate NBA teams accountable for better scouting and developing of the young players drafted in the NBA.–OnPointPress.net

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