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–

 

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.

Recent NBA Finals show good offense, not defense, wins championships

While defense is always important, these champions have used offense to reach the ultimate goal. (clockwise from top left) LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki.

While defense is always important, these champions have used offense to reach the ultimate goal. (clockwise from top left) LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

With the NFL playoffs underway, the old adage “defense wins championships” will be repeated ad nauseam by commentators and analysts. While that may apply to other sports regularly, the NBA has seen a trend of offensive excellence in recent NBA champions. While contributors at sportingcharts.com may have concluded, “Having an efficient defense is more important than an efficient offense,” it seems a great offense is better than a great defense.

The 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs showed true offensive dominance during their championship run last season.

The 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs showed true offensive dominance during their championship run last season.

Case in point, the 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs put forth one of the most dominant shooting displays en route to a 4-1 route of the Miami Heat. According to ESPN Stats and Info, “All four of the Spurs wins came by at least 15 points, outscoring the Heat by an average of 14 per game for the series. That’s the largest points per game differential in NBA Finals history, breaking the record of +12.6 PPG by the 1964-65 Celtics in their victory over the Lakers.”

Both Tim Duncan (l) and Kawhi Leonard (r) have been NBA Finals MVP. They were both excellent defensively but also efficient offensively when they won the award.

Both Tim Duncan (l) and Kawhi Leonard (r) have been NBA Finals MVP. They were both excellent defensively but also efficient offensively when they won the award.

The Spurs had 4 regular rotation players shoot 50 percent or better from the floor and 35 percent or better from the 3-point line for the playoffs. In the NBA Finals their team shooting was even better with 6 regular rotation players shooting 50 percent or better and 6 different rotation players shooting 35 percent or better from the 3-point line.

(left-right) Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Jeff Teague, and Al Horford have helped the Atlanta Hawks to one of best records in the NBA with their offensive efficiency. Can they sustain this high level into the playoffs?

(left-right) Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Jeff Teague, and Al Horford have helped the Atlanta Hawks to one of best records in the NBA with their offensive efficiency. Can they sustain this high level into the playoffs?

Excellent shooting has become the deciding factor for NBA champions for the last decade now. Since 2005, every NBA champion has had at least 2 regular rotation players shoot at least 50 percent from the field and at least 3 regular rotation players shoot 35 percent or better from the 3-point line. Efficiency has become essential offensively as teams have transitioned away from the ground and pound style of offense that tended to be predictable to defend.

Could this be an NBA Finals preview? Stephan Curry (l) has the Golden State Warriors at the top of the Western Conference. Meanwhile, Kyle Lowry (r) has helped lead the Toronto Raptors to one of the best records in the East.

Could this be an NBA Finals preview? Stephen Curry (l) has the Golden State Warriors at the top of the Western Conference. Meanwhile, Kyle Lowry (r) has helped lead the Toronto Raptors to one of the best records in the East.

As the NBA season nears the halfway point, a handful of low-seeded playoff teams have become top seeds in the conference. Though it is still early in the season, comparing teams by offensive efficiency might be the best way to determine which teams will have long playoff runs. As of today, only the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors meet the 50 or 35 percent field goal/3-point threshold common in the last ten NBA champions with the Atlanta narrowly missing the criteria.

New York Times writer Rodger Sherman recently stated during last season’s playoffs, “Being the staunchest, stingiest squad on paper does not mean as much as an old saying might make it seem.” As the season continues, it seems efficient offenses, not stingy defenses, will be the best way to determine the next NBA champion.–OnPointPress.net–

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

NBA expands diversity trend, hires female leaders

Michele Roberts has been named the new Executive Director of the NBA Players Association.

Michele Roberts has been named the new Executive Director of the NBA Players Association.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The San Antonio Spurs expanded the diversity trend in the National Basketball Association (NBA) when the team hired former WNBA player Becky Hammon to be an assistant coach coach. Hammon became the first woman to be employed full-time as an assistant coach in the NBA or any other major team sport. Hammon made it clear that she does not feel her gender played a role in her hiring.

“It’s never been about the woman thing, it’s been about hey, she’s got a great basketball mind. We think she’d be a great addition to our program,” she said at the news conference announcing her hiring on August 5, 2014.

The  San Antonio Spurs hired former WNBA player Becky Hammon based on her basketball IQ.

The San Antonio Spurs hired former WNBA player Becky Hammon based on her basketball IQ.

This comes on the heels of the NBA Players Association (NBPA) selecting Michele Roberts to be their new executive director. Roberts, who is a renowned trial attorney, was named to her new position on July’ 29, 2014 ahead of 300 potential candidates. Roberts grew up a New York Knicks fan while being raised in that city. She rooted for the Washington D.C. team and worked for years in that city. Now Roberts has a new affiliation again extolling, “My new favorite team is the NBPA.”

Roberts made her name as a trial attorney in Washington D.C. and will use her skill in negotiations on behalf of the NBPA.

Roberts made her name as a trial attorney in Washington D.C. and will use her skill in negotiations on behalf of the NBPA.

 

These two new additions to the NBA family illustrate a more inclusive view towards women, yet there is still a long way to go to consider all opportunities equal. However, the NBA has taken more steps in allowing women to prove themselves in that league than in any of the other major team sports.

Violet Palmer has been an NBA referee since 1997 and remains the lone female referee in the NBA.

Violet Palmer has been an NBA referee since 1997 and remains the lone female referee in the NBA.

In 1997 the NBA hired Violet Palmer and Dee Kantner as referees amid plenty of opposition from some fans and players alike. Palmer is still a referee in the NBA and has done so for the WNBA as well. Palmer remains the lone female referee in major team sports and added another first to her resume when she refereed the 2014 NBA All-Star game.

 

What stands out even more than the opportunity to earn and prove in the NBA for these women is the authoritative positions they hold. None of these ladies hold a more powerful position than Jeanie Buss, part-owner and president of the Los Angeles Lakers. Buss recognizes the full scope of her position, sharing during an interview:

“I’m the boss, I am responsible ultimately for anything with the team and decisions that are made…I empower people that are in positions to do their jobs…But it’s up to them to make day-to-day decisions on how they operate their area of the business.”

Jeanie Buss is part-owner and president of one the most storied franchises in sports, the Los Angeles Lakers.

Jeanie Buss is part-owner and president of one the most storied franchises in sports, the Los Angeles Lakers.

Ultimately, these women provide plenty of ideas of new positions for women to strive towards and surpass. While there will continue to be a debate about women’s opportunities in male dominated fields, it is also time to appreciate the positions that women have earned through hard work and dedication.–OnPointPress.net–

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

Mysterious NBA coaching criteria surfaces as free agency begins

 

Jason Kidd will join his second team in his second year as a head coach. So does this technically make him an experienced coaching hire for the Bucks?
Jason Kidd will join his second team in his second year as a head coach. So does this technically make him an experienced coaching hire for the Bucks?

 By Charles Glover, Jr.

As NBA free agency begins this July 1, 2014, there are still a couple of head coaching vacancies to be filled. The Brooklyn Nets find themselves looking for a new head coach after Jason Kidd and the Milwaukee Bucks agreed to terms on June 30 as their new head coach. Meanwhile, the storied Los Angeles Lakers franchise is still without a head coach, though they may have narrowed their search to a few candidates by now. The head coaching carousel continues in the NBA while the criteria for being hired as a head coach becomes more mysterious and cloudy than ever.

The Knicks new general manager, Phil Jackson (r), felt comfortable hiring coaching novice Derek Fisher (l) because of system familiarity. Time will tell if this strategy is successful.

The Knicks’ new general manager, Phil Jackson (r), felt comfortable hiring coaching novice Derek Fisher (l) because of system familiarity. Time will tell if this strategy is successful.

A year ago, the Brooklyn Nets were questioned about their decision to hire Jason Kidd as their head coach, directly from his last moments playing in the league. A season later, the New York Knicks followed suit by hiring Derek Fisher, fresh of his final game as a player. The trend of hiring head coaches with no coaching experience did not start with Kidd, however. Just a few seasons ago, Mark Jackson transitioned successfully from announcer to head coach. However, his success was not good enough to prevent the Golden State Warriors from firing him and replacing him with Steve Kerr, another first time head coach with no prior coaching experience.

The last time Lionel Hollins was coaching he led his team to the Western Conference Finals. He is rumored to be a possible replacement for Jason Kidd in Brooklyn.

The last time Lionel Hollins coached he led his team to the Western Conference Finals and he was rewarded by being fired promptly. His success did not earn him another coaching job. He is rumored to be a possible replacement for Jason Kidd in Brooklyn.

Head coaches in the NBA appear to have very little job security and very little indication that their job is even jeopardy. The most recent example would be former Milwaukee Bucks head coach Larry Drew, who was entering year two of a three-year contract and had no idea his job was on the line just a week ago. Other examples from this season would be Maurice Cheeks formerly of the Detroit Pistons and Mike Brown formerly of the Cleveland Cavaliers, both of whom lost their jobs after a year, or less),into multi-year contracts as head coaches.

Those coaches were at the helm of teams that struggled but Lionel Hollins led the Memphis Grizzlies to the Western Conference Finals in 2013 for the first time in team history and was abruptly fired immediately afterwards. George Karl was let go by the Denver Nuggets in 2013 after he won NBA Coach of the Year that season.

Phoenix Suns head coach was runner-up to Gregg Popovich for NBA Coach of the Year in 2014.

Phoenix Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek was runner-up to Gregg Popovich for NBA Coach of the Year in 2014.

Ironically, the past typical trend of hiring coaches who have previous coaching experience was successful template for several teams last season. The Phoenix Suns hired Jeff Hornacek last season after he had been an assistant coach in the NBA for a few years, and saw their team win 48 games and greatly improve from the season before. The Charlotte Hornets hired Steve Clifford, who had also been an assistant head coach for years in the NBA, and were pleased with the resulting 43 wins and 7th seed in the playoffs. The Toronto Raptors had success for the first time in many years under Dwayne Casey, who had former NBA head coaching experience. The Portland Trailblazers were another team that saw a nice turnaround with a head coach, Terry Stotts, who had previous experience as an assistant coach in the NBA.

Patrick Ewing has been an assistant coach in the NBA since 2002 and has made his desires to be a head coach clear.

Patrick Ewing has been an assistant coach in the NBA since 2002 and has made his desires to be a head coach clear, yet he is overlooked every time that a head coaching job becomes available.

Teams have the right to make the changes they feel are necessary to improve their team, but it seems there is little merit behind this trend of unproven coaches gaining such prominent positions without prior experience. Several teams have long-time assistant coaches, like Robert Pack, Sam Cassell, and Patrick Ewing to name a few, that are worthy candidates and fit the mold of previous successful head coaches.

Gregg Popovich (l) and Eric Spoelstra (r) have been in the last two NBA Finals and have won multiple championships. Maybe their coaching background should be the standard.

Gregg Popovich (l) and Eric Spoelstra (r) have been in the last two NBA Finals and have won multiple championships. Maybe their coaching background should be the standard.

The teams that win championships do not hire coaches who do not have any coaching experience. The San Antonio Spurs’ head coach, Gregg Popovich, has been coaching since 1973. Eric Spoelstra was an assistant coach with the Miami Heat from 1997. Former coaching legend Phil Jackson was a coach for five years in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) before joining the Chicago Bulls.

It seems that NBA franchises are trying to find out the hard way that there are no shortcuts to success and that the coaches who win championships have one major requirement on their resumes: solid experience, not flash.–OnPointPress.net–

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

3 Players to watch for in the 2014 NBA Draft

This year's draft class features highly touted freshmen  (l - r)  Jabari Parker, Joel Embid, Andrew Wiggins, and Julius Randle.

This year’s NBA draft class features highly-touted freshmen (l – r) Jabari Parker, Joel Embid, Andrew Wiggins, and Julius Randle.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

On Thursday June 26, 2014, the National Basketball Association (NBA) will hold its annual draft and as usual there is intrigue surrounding the top pick. Even with top prospect Joel Embiid’s foot injury and subsequent surgery, there is great anticipation for the landing spots of other top prospects like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Julius Randle.

The Philadelphia 76ers would  use their second 1st round draft pick to take Michael Carter-Williams 11th overall in 2013. Carter-Williams would win NBA Rookie of the Year this past season.

The Philadelphia 76ers used their second 1st round draft pick to take Michael Carter-Williams 11th overall in 2013. Carter-Williams won NBA Rookie of the Year this past season.

However, there are always players that receive less attention heading into the draft and end up becoming valuable players. This past year’s NBA Rookie of the Year winner, Michael Carter-Williams, was drafted 11th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. Two years ago Damian Lillard won NBA Rookie of the Year after being drafted 6th overall by the Portland Trailblazers. Additionally, this year’s NBA Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, was drafted 15th overall in the 2011 draft by the Indiana Pacers (and traded on draft day to the San Antonio Spurs).

Current NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard was drafted 15th overall in 2011 by the Pacers and traded to the San Antonio Spurs that evening.

Current NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard was drafted 15th overall in 2011 by the Pacers and traded to the San Antonio Spurs that evening.

This year there are three players that are a bit under the radar, but can make a significant impact in the near future if they go to the right team that provides the best situation.

Former UCLA guard Zach Lavine has the skill set to be a valuable starter for years to come.

Former UCLA guard Zach Lavine has the skill set to be a valuable starter for years to come.

Zach Lavine (Guard) UCLA: Lavine is expected to be drafted somewhere in the middle of the first round but has top of the first round talent. The 19-year-old 6’6″ guard has dynamic athleticism as illustrated by his 41.5″ vertical jump at the NBA combine. Additionally, Lavine is a combo guard with good ball-handling skills and shooting ability. His inconsistent performance in his only season in college has scouts unsure of how he will translate to the next level. The best fit for him would be the Charlotte Hornets as the 9th pick. His offensive skills, defensive ability, and athleticism would blend excellently with a Hornets team that needs to improve its perimeter play.

Former Michigan State forward Adreian Payne will look to translate his offensive ability to a lottery draft pick selection.

Former Michigan State forward Adreian Payne will look to translate his offensive ability to a lottery draft pick selection.

Adreian Payne (Foward/Center) Michigan State: Payne is expected to be drafted towards the end of the lottery and there are 14 lottery picks. The 23-year-old senior is ready to contribute right away and sports an impressive 7’4″ wingspan on his 6’10” frame. He is an excellent shooter, making 42 percent of his three-point attempts his senior year in college. He needs to improve on defense but can immediately help a team that can use frontcourt scoring. An ideal fit would be the Denver Nuggets with the 11th overall pick. Their team suffered numerous injuries last season and could be ready to turn things around quickly with a healthy roster and talented draft pick or two.

Former Wichita State forward showcased an offensive repertoire that many NBA teams can use this upcoming season.

Former Wichita State forward showcased an offensive repertoire that many NBA teams can use this upcoming season.

Cleanthony Early (Small Forward) Wichita State: Early is expected to be drafted towards the end of the first round. The 23-year- old senior gained notoriety with his fantastic play during the NCAA tournament this year. At 6’8″ Early has good size for his position and has demonstrated an ability to create his own shot while also being able to shoot from the perimeter. He has to show improvement on the defensive side but he will be a great addition for a playoff team looking to add bench scoring immediately. The ideal place for Early would be 21at overall, going to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder have struggled to get consistent scoring from players not named Durant or Westbrook. The team can remain in position to contend for a championship next season with the addition of player like Early who can make an impact right away.–OnPointPress.net–

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

Tim Duncan’s impressive resume is tops in current team sports

Tim Duncan (c) celebrates his 5th NBA championship  with his Spurs teammates.

Tim Duncan (c) celebrates his 5th NBA championship with his Spurs teammates.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The San Antonio Spurs are again NBA champions, the franchise’s 5th title, all with Tim Duncan on the court and coach Gregg Popovich at the helm. However, as the Spurs continue to be celebrated for their teamwork, Duncan’s individual greatness seems to be a bit undersold. Simply put, Duncan has the best resume of all current players in any American team sport today.

Duncan, pictured with Tony Parker (l) and Bruce Bowen (r), won Finals MVP honors on 3 different occasions.

Duncan, pictured with Tony Parker (l) and Bruce Bowen (r), won Finals MVP honors on 3 different occasions.

Duncan’s resume includes 14 All-Star appearances (in 17 years played), 14 All-NBA selections (10 1st team selections), Rookie of the Year honors, 14 All-Defensive selections (8 1st team and 6 2nd team), 2 NBA MVP awards (2002-2003), 3 NBA Finals MVP awards (!999, 2003, 2005), and 5 NBA championships (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014).

LeBron James is a 2-time NBA champion with 2 Finals MVP awards but has lost to Tim Duncan and the Spurs on 2 different occasions.

LeBron James is a 2-time NBA champion with 2 Finals MVP awards but has lost to Tim Duncan and the Spurs on 2 different occasions.

The list of comparable players would include huge names in his sport like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. It would also include baseball players Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols or David Ortiz. Football stars Peyton Manning and Tom Brady would also be included in the list of whose resume’s fall short of Duncan’s.

The case for Duncan stems from the length of time he and his team have been elite, his indiviual excellence in his prime, and the nuumber of championships he has helped lead his team to win. In basketball, the only current star with as many rings as Duncan is Bryant. Bryant was a major part of a Los Angeles Lakers team that won 3 consecutive championships (2000 – 2002) but he has only won NBA MVP once, was given one less Finals MVP award than Duncan, and spent the beginnng half of his career no better than the second best player on his team.

Kobe Bryant is one of the most decorated NBA players of all time. He was awarded Finals MVP twice (2009,2010).

Kobe Bryant is one of the most celebrated NBA players of all time. He was awarded Finals MVP twice (2009,2010).

Though Duncan played his first 6 seasons along side Hall of Fame Center David Robinson, Duncan established himself as the team’s best player by his second season. As Bryant has spent the last two seasons recovering from injuries, Duncan has helped lead his team to consecutive NBA Finals appearances. Duncan’s top notch performances in the last two seasons also illustrate how vital he is to his team’s success.

Derek Jeter is one of the most celebrated baseball players in history and is hoping that his final year playing with the Yankees  ends with a championship.

Derek Jeter is one of the most celebrated baseball players in history and is hoping that his final year playing with the Yankees ends with a championship.

Derek Jeter, the captain of the New York Yankees, is also known for being a classy, productive leader for a winning franchise. Jeter also has 5 championships and was a key part of a team that won 3 consecutive World Series (1998 – 2000) and 4 in 5 years. Jeter was World Series MVP in 2000 and was helped the team win another title in 2009. Yet, Jeter has never won league MVP, and played most of his career surrounded with a plethora of All-Star calliber players, which lessened the reliability of the Yankees on Jeter’s performance.

Peyton Manning is one of the NFL's biggest stars and one of the best quarterbacks of all time. He won Super Bowl MVP in 2006.

Peyton Manning is one of the NFL’s biggest stars and one of the best quarterbacks of all time. He won Super Bowl MVP in 2006.

Brady and Manning seem to be constantly linked as the two quarterbacks that are viewed as the best the NFL has seen in the past 20 years. Manning has had a stellar career to date, amassing 5 NFL MVP awards (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013), and 2 Offensive Player of the Year awards (2004, 2013). He won Super Bowl MVP in the one Super Bowl his team won in 2006. Manning has been the Super Bowl on two other occasions (2008, 2013) and was unsuccessful in those attempts.

Tom Brady is one of the most famous athletes in the world. Winning 3 Super Bowls and being married to one of the most famous super models in the world (Gisele Bundchen) can boost a person's popularity.

Tom Brady is one of the most famous athletes in the world. Winning 3 Super Bowls and being married to one of the most famous super models in the world (Gisele Bundchen) can boost a person’s popularity.

Brady has been the starting quarterback for the Patriots since 2001 when he helped the team win the first of 3 Super Bowls (2001, 2003, 2004). Brady was named Super Bowl MVP twice (2001, 2003), NFL MVP twice (2007, 2010), and Offensive Player of the year twice (2007, 2010). The Patriots also made it to the Super Bowl in 2007 and 2011 but came up short on both occasions. Brady has played his entire career with the same head coach, Bill Belichek, the same as Duncan and Popovich. While Brady has helped lead his team to the playoffs in many consecutive years, the fact that the Patriots haven’t won the Super Bowl since 2004 shows how difficult winning a championship really is.

Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich will be forever linked as they have helped lead the Spurs to 5 NBA titles.

Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich will be forever linked as they have helped lead the Spurs to 5 NBA titles.

Duncan is also known for his humility and stoic demeanor. Duncan is not in many commercials, isn’t married to a super model or a global icon. He is, however, a great basketball player whose career accomplishments stand above his contemporaries, even as he continues his career with no signs of slowing down. He may not want the extra attention that comes with his success, but he certainly deserves it.–OnPointPress.net–

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

Spurs win fifth NBA title, epitomizing teamwork, poise and humility

The Spurs captured the franchise's 5th championship and 4th with their big 3, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili.

The Spurs captured the franchise’s 5th championship and 4th with their big 3, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

On Sunday night, June 15, as Father’s Day was winding down, the San Antonio Spurs wrestled the NBA Championship title away from the Miami Heat by demonstrating the power of teamwork. The Spurs put on another dazzling shooting expedition while cruising to a 104 – 87 victory over the Heat to capture the franchise’s 5th NBA Championship. The win avenges a crushing seven-game series loss in last year’s NBA Finals to the Heat. Small forward Kahwi Leonard was named Finals MVP. The core players of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli and Leonard all made it clear that the bitter loss remained on their minds all season-long.

Kawhi Leonard earned Finals MVP honors by taking it to last year's Finals MVP, LeBron James.

Kawhi Leonard earned Finals MVP honors by taking it to last year’s Finals MVP, LeBron James.

“I had a great group of guys behind me pushing me. They told me I had talent and they pushed me. Coach Pop pushed me and my mom pushed me,” Leonard said.

For his part, Spurs forward Duncan, speaking after the game, said the defeat last year motivated the team to succeed this year and that  “It’s unbelievable to be back here.”

“We were so close last year. This year was a great rematch and we wanted to redeem ourselves. I’ve been blessed to play with Timmy and Manu,” said Parker.

Congratulations to the 2014 NBA champs. Pictured (l-r) Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.

Congratulations to the 2014 NBA champs. Pictured (l-r) Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.

Meanwhile Ginobli said this year was about redemption. “I felt better mentally, physically. What happened last year made us stronger and we were not going to let this opportunity get away. We played at a high level.”

The Spurs overcame a rough start to game 5 to seal the series in front of the home crowd. The Spurs seemed to be on fire from the second quarter of the game, demonstrating superb ball movement and excellent shot-making. The Spurs were also diligent on defense, holding the Heat to under 100 points, a task they completed in all five games of the series. The 2014 NBA Championship games showed a stark difference from the tightly contested series a year ago. While LeBron James showed periods of excellence throughout the series, the rest of the Heat seemed vastly overmatched, especially Dwyane Wade, who seemed bored and uninterested.

Coach Gregg Popovich showed why he's the best in the business with a masterful coaching display en route to his 5th championship.

Coach Gregg Popovich showed why he’s the best in the business with a masterful coaching display en route to his 5th championship.

The Spurs showed great teamwork in all five championship games, winning the last three games by at least 17 points. Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili got the bulk of the attention during the series but other players like Boris Diaw, Danny Green, Tiago Splitter and Patty Mills played significant roles in the Spurs victory.

NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and his teammates were the clearly superior team this time around in the Finals.

NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and his teammates were the clearly superior team this time around in the Finals.

However, it was play of Finals MVP Leonard that set the Spurs apart from the Heat. His defensive intensity sparked his offense and caused chaos in the Heat’s game plan all series long. Having the steady hands of Coach Gregg Popovich, who was named Coach of the Year, also had a strong role in leading by example. The Spurs dynasty appears to be intact and their method of winning championships will no doubt be studied by other teams who desire the same results. Congratulations to the Spurs who demonstrated poise, teamwork, humility and a burning passion to win at the highest level of the game. They deserve the championship trophy this year. Well done Spurs!-OnPointPress.net.

NBA Finals feature great players, role model fathers

Miami Heat players (l - r) Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade stand during the Pledge of Allegiance with their children prior to a home game.

Miami Heat players (l – r) Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade stand during the Pledge of Allegiance with their children prior to a home game.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The NBA Finals are tied 1 – 1 as the series heads to Miami for the pivotal game 3. The star players in this series have garnered a great deal of praise for their play en route to the championship. As Father’s Day approaches, this writer wants to acknowledge the excellence these players have also displayed in raising their children.

LeBron James has been public with his affection for his sons, LeBron Jr. (r) and Bryce (l) , including them in commercials and featuring them in social media consistently.

LeBron James has been public with his affection for his sons, LeBron Jr. (r) and Bryce (l) , including them in commercials and featuring them in social media consistently.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh are not only known for their excellence on the court, but for how frequently they share, show, and discuss their children. James has had his sons LeBron, Jr. and Bryce, featured prominently on his social media accounts as well as featured in commercials with him. James has made it clear that his father’s absence in his life motivates him. James, sharing on Instagram, said: “Like, Wow, Dad, you know what, I don’t know you, I have no idea who you are, but because of you is part of the reason I am [the person I am] today.”

Tim Duncan sits on the bench before game 1 of this year's NBA Finals with daughter Sydney and son

Tim Duncan sits on the bench before game 1 of this year’s NBA Finals with daughter Sydney and son Draven.

The Spurs are not lead by a public star who is featured in many commercials, rather, Tim Duncan is known for his stoic demeanor and exceptional basketball skills. Though Duncan keeps much more of his life private than James does, he also exhibits a tight bond with his children Sydney and Draven. Duncan has not made many public statements about his personal life, but he makes it clear that he wants to have his children around him whenever possible.

Dwyane Wade with his two oldest sons, Zaire (l) and Zion (r).

Dwyane Wade with his two oldest sons, Zaire (l) and Zion (r).

The Heat’s Dwyane Wade can echo Duncan’s sentiments for privacy after a marriage ends as Wade went through a very publicized custody battle with his ex-wife and mother of his two sons Zaire and Zion. Wade was awarded full custody of his sons in 2011 and stated after hearing the news: “For me, it shows a lot of people that you need to fight to be in your kids’ lives sometimes.” Wade recently had a third son, Xavier, in 2013, and maintains that fatherhood is the most important part of his life.

A photograph of Ginobili holding his younger twins Dante and Nicola.

A photograph of Ginobili holding his younger twins Dante and Nicola.

Meanwhile in San Antonio, Manu Ginobili has had a recent addition to his family. Shortly after the first game in this year’s playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks, Ginobili’s wife gave birth to the couple’s third son, Luca. Ginobili did not have much time to rest after the birth, heading directly to practice from the hospital. He seemed moved by the experience, sharing with reporters: “I think the baby thing is very unique…When I saw the head for the first time, it’s hard to contain tears and stuff. It’s an incredible moment.” Ginobili is now a father of three sons, with Luca joining twins Dante and Nicola.

The San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich (l) is viewed in a patriarchal role for the organization. The same can be said for the Heat organization and Pat Riley (r).

The San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich (l) is viewed in a patriarchal role by the organization. The same can be said for the Heat organization and Pat Riley (r).

These are just a few of the great fathers in the NBA and in professional sports. It seems as if the NBA organizations that made it to the Finals have gone to great lengths to create a family-like atmosphere that encompasses some wonderful role models. The patriarchal figures for each organization, Pat Riley for the Heat and Gregg Popovich for the Spurs, appear to emphasize strength of character as much as they preach about strength of body. As Father’s Day nears, let us recognize the positive examples of fatherhood being put forth during the NBA Finals this year.–OnPointPress.net–

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

What to expect in the Spurs vs. Heat NBA Finals rematch

The NBA FInals start June 5, 2014 at 9pm with the Spurs hosting the Heat. Featured above (l - r) Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.

The NBA FInals start June 5, 2014 at 9 p.m. with the Spurs hosting the Heat. Featured above (l – r) Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) will begin the Finals on Thursday night at 9 p.m.. The matchup, pitting the Miami Heat versus the San Antonio Spurs, will be a rematch of last year’s Finals. The Spurs’ big three of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker will have a chance to avenge their loss to the Heat’s big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. The Heat won that tightly-contested series in 7 games last year, and it looks as if these two teams will again be evenly matched. But this time around the Spurs, in Duncan’s words want to get rid of “the bad taste in our mouths” that was the direct result of their epic loss to the Heat.

The best player for each team, Tim Duncan (l) and LeBron James (r) are going to need to be excellent throughout the series to lead their team to a victory.

The best player for each team, Tim Duncan (l) and LeBron James (r) are going to need to be excellent throughout the series to lead their team to a victory.

The Spurs will have home court advantage this time around, but this year the NBA will revert to the 2-2-1-1-1 home/away split that is typically used throughout the playoffs. Last year’s 2-3-2 home/away split allowed the Heat to have games 6 and 7 on their home court to come back and win the title. These teams are pretty much the same as they were in terms of composition and style last year so they will be extremely familiar with each other.

The Larry O'Brien trophy is awarded to the team that wins the NBA Finals. Will a NY team win this award in my lifetime?

The Larry O’Brien trophy is awarded to the team that wins the NBA Finals. Will a NY team win this award in my lifetime?

Both teams have some minor injury issues to worry about going into the Finals series but both should be close to full strength come Thursday night. For the Spurs to win this time, they will have to defend the perimeter, make their three point shots, and score in the paint often. If the Spurs are successful, it would be the franchise’s 5th title, all during the Tim Duncan era, since 1998.

The Spurs look to add the franchises 5th title while the Heat are seeking their franchises 4th.

The Spurs look to add the franchise’s 5th title while the Heat are seeking their franchise’s 4th.

Conversely, the Heat will need to make their three point shots, defend the interior well, and pressure the ball to cause turnovers, in order to win the series again. The Heat have been to 4 consecutive Finals and are looking to win 3 straight times and the 4th overall for the Miami franchise. If they are able to stay healthy throughout the series, I believe they will accomplish that feat and join the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, and Boston Celtics as the only franchises to win 3 consecutive championships in NBA history.

But count on the Spurs to offer a solid fight because they are on a mission to redeem their costly loss from a year ago. One thing is certain, the NBA Finals will be must-see television, with two teams determined to secure a powerful legacy.–OnPointPress.net–

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