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–

 

Kobe Bryant, the ultimate perimeter player, signs off

Bryant ended his career on a high note scoring 60 points in the season finale.

Bryant ended his career on a high note scoring 60 points in the season finale.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Kobe Bryant played the last game of his 20-year career for the Los Angeles Lakers amid much fanfare on Wednesday, April 13. Bryant dazzled fans, scoring 60 points as the Lakers defeated the Utah Jazz in the season finale, capping a farewell tour for Bryant that started once he made it clear he was retiring at the end of this season.

"Penny" Hardaway (left) and Grant Hill (right) were two players primed to fill the void of Jordan's departure until injuries severely altered their careers.

“Penny” Hardaway (left) and Grant Hill (right) were two players primed to fill the void of Jordan’s departure until injuries severely altered their careers.

While not accurate, it is often said that Michael Jordan passed the proverbial torch to Bryant.

The similarities between Bryant and Jordan are easy to see. Both are similar in height, position played, disposition on the court, and team success.

However, many forget that there were two superstars who were poised to follow in Jordan’s footsteps but suffered career altering injuries: Anfernee (Penny) Hardaway, and Grant Hill. Both superstars were similar to Bryant early in their careers because they had charisma, exciting talent and marketing appeal.

On the strength of two championships at Duke university, Hill emerged quickly as a superstar leading all NBA All-Star Game players in fan voting in his rookie season and soon afterwards leading the Detroit Pistons to multiple playoff appearances. Hill was a dynamic player with excellent scoring and play-making ability.

While Bryant was carving his niche early in his career, other players like Tracy McGrady (left) and Vince Carter (right) were among the guards that Bryant battled with.

While Bryant was carving his niche early in his career, other players like Tracy McGrady (left) and Vince Carter (right) were among the guards that Bryant battled with.

Hardaway also had quick success, helping to lead the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals in 1995 with Shaquille O’neal. Hardaway and Hill had huge endorsement deals and were well positioned to be pre-eminent perimeter players in the NBA upon Jordan’s second retirement in 1999.

Other perimeter player contemporaries of Bryant who entered the NBA during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s include Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, and Ray Allen.

All of these players helped lead their teams in different ways, while displaying entertaining and captivating styles of play. All of these players were also major faces in advertising, which assisted in bringing extra attention to the NBA internationally.

(I - r) Allen Iverson, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade, are among the list of players Bryant had brief rivalries with during his career.

(I – r) Allen Iverson, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade, are among the list of players Bryant had brief rivalries with during his career.

Bryant might have the highest international profile of all of the previous mentioned players, except Jordan, and his battles with those players helped pave the way for the current wave of perimeter All Stars. Bryant’s 20 year career has allowed him to compete with players already in the basketball Hall of Fame as well as number of players likely to land there as well.

Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, James Harden, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James headline a long list of perimeter players that have carried the torch of exciting the fans and helping fans fill the impending the void created upon Bryant’s retirement.

Bryant had a fond farewell and received respect and admiration from fans and peers throughout the night.

Bryant had a fond farewell and received respect and admiration from fans and peers throughout the night.

As Bryant retires, perimeter play is on the uptick in the NBA. The last several regular season and NBA Finals MVP have been perimeter players. Bryant reminded all spectators that current NBA fans enjoy seeing their perimeter stars score in bundles as he scored the most points by a player this season in his final game. A great ending to an even greater career.–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.

NBA All-Star Weekend set to torture long-suffering New York basketball fans

New York will be center stage as the best NBA players participate in several events for All-Star Weekend 2015.

New York will be center stage as the best NBA players participate in several events for All-Star Weekend 2015.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

1976 was the year of the bicentennial celebration of America’s independence, Sugar Ray Leonard and Bruce Jenner were celebrated for winning their gold medals in the 1976 Olympics, and the NBA and ABA merged, uniting the best basketball players in one league. 1976 also happens to be the last year a professional basketball team won a championship in New York.

"Dr. J" Julius Erving led the NY Nets past the Denver Nuggets for the last ABA championship in 1976.

“Dr. J” Julius Erving led the NY Nets past the Denver Nuggets for the last ABA championship in 1976.

Julius Erving led the New York Nets, based in Long Island, to an upset victory over David Thompson and the Denver Nuggets. 29 years later, the NBA’s best players will take center stage in New York, with events taking place at both Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden.

Erving (l) and David Thompson (r) not only went head-to-head in the 1976 ABA Finals but also the inaugural slam dunk competition as well. Dr, J was victorious on both occasions.

Erving (l) and David Thompson (r) not only went head-to-head in the 1976 ABA Finals but also the inaugural slam dunk competition as well. Dr, J was victorious on both occasions.

Friday and Saturday will be highlighted by the Celebrity Basketball game and a newly formatted Rising Stars challenge that will pit first and second year players from the US against international players. 1976 was also the year of the inaugural slam dunk competition, won by “Dr. J” Julius Erving. Saturday, will also feature the Slam Dunk competition, as well as the Skills Challenge, and a star-studded 3-point shootout.

The Eastern Conference starters that were voted for Sunday's game. (l - r) Pau Gasol, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, John Wall, and Kyle Lowry.

The Eastern Conference starters that were voted for Sunday’s game. (l – r) Pau Gasol, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, John Wall, and Kyle Lowry.

The Friday and Saturday events scheduled for the Barclays Center will surely be entertaining, Sunday’s All-Star game at MSG should be intriguing. LeBron James will headline an Eastern squad that will feature four Atlanta Hawks and the lone New York representative in Carmelo Anthony.

Steph Curry (l) and James Harden (r) are top MVP candidates this season and will compete in the 3-point shootout while starting together in the backcourt  for Sunday's All-Star game.

Steph Curry (l) and James Harden (r) are top MVP candidates this season and will compete in the 3-point shootout while starting together in the backcourt for Sunday’s All-Star game.

The Western squad will be headlined by this season’s MVP candidates Steph Curry and James Harden. The West will be the favorite in the matchup as their team also includes the best duo in the NBA in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant as well as talented big men in LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol, and DeMarcus Cousins.

The last time the Knicks went to the NBA Finals was the year after New York hosted the 1998 All-Star game. Larry Johnson's 4-point play against the Indiana Pacers was perhaps the most memorable  shot on that Finals run.

The last time the Knicks went to the NBA Finals was the year after New York hosted the 1998 All-Star game. Larry Johnson’s 4-point play against the Indiana Pacers was perhaps the most memorable shot on that Finals run.

While NBA fans will have the opportunity to enjoy the splendor of New York, weather permitting, and marvel at the best players the league has to offer, Knicks and Nets fans will have to return to a season where both teams have been disappointments. But who knows? The last time New York hosted the NBA All-Star game was 1998 then the Knicks went to the Finals the following year. So there’s a little hope for New York basketball fans.–OnPointPress.net–

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