10 More Things You May Not Have Known About The NBA and It’s Players

A while ago, I wrote 10 Things You May Not Have Known About the NBA or it’s Players, and it seemed as though most people enjoyed it. So today, I’m creating a Part Two to that list, and hopefully you will learn some new interesting facts about the NBA.

 

#10: Pau Gasol‘s Schooling

Credit to Jesse D. Garrabrant of Getty Images for Picture

Before becoming an NBA All-Star and playing alongside NBA greats such as Lamar Odom, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Ron Artest, and many more, Gasol, it seemed, was destined to become a doctor. Gasol loved basketball from a young age, but when he was 11 years old, Magic Johnson announced his retirement from basketball due to contracting HIV. Gasol (bless his heart) decided that he would become a doctor and find a cure for aids. This was no idle dream, as Gasol would enroll at the University of Barcelona’s medical school to become a doctor. However, much like Dikembe Mutombo, Gasol’s basketball career took off and soon he found himself playing in the NBA. Imagine how Magic and Gasol’s first ever conversation went, and if Gasol isn’t one of your favorite basketball players, he should be.

#9: Manute Bol‘s Blocks

Credit to Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images for Picture

Manute Bol is one of the best shot blockers in the history of the NBA. Standing at 7’7″, Bol could block shots with ease, and finished his career with a 3.3 block per game average. In every season except for 1993 where Bol played over 50 games, he averaged more blocked shots per game than points per game. While Elmore Smith still holds the record for most blocked shots in a game (17), Bol holds the single game rookie record for blocks in a game with 15, and recorded 15 blocks in another game one year later, tying the NBA record for eight blocks in the 4th quarter. However, while 15 is the official record for the most shots Bol blocked in a game, there is a game that may have happened which is so astonishing, it’s on the level of Wilt Chamberlain’s quintuple-double game.

When Bol came to America to play college basketball, the NCAA questioned his eligibility because of some medical records and dates of birth that could not be provided. Because he could not play Division One Basketball, Bol played Division Two ball at the University of Bridgeport. While statistics from different games are difficult to track down, we do know that Bol averaged around 22 points, 14 rebounds, and 7 blocks per game in college before being drafted in the second round of the 1985 NBA Draft. However, his best ever game played at Bridgeport was a 32-point-29 rebound-31 block performance! 31 blocks! While there is no way to track this down and see if it did truly happen, I believe that it could have, because of how skilled Bol was and how any NBA player would have feasted on Division Two talent.

#8: A Canceled Dunk Contest?

Credit to Andrew D. Bernstein of Getty Images for Picture

In 1997, the NBA might have had its worst ever Slam Dunk contest in modern history. The one highlight of the horrible event was Kobe Bryant winning the contest with his between the legs “Eastbay” dunk. Because ratings dropped so low, the contest was canceled the next year due to a lack of fan interest! Yes, 1998 and 1999 didn’t have a dunk contest during NBA All-Star Weekend! Luckily, the NBA would bring the event back in 2000, where Vince Carter would completely revive the event with his jaw-dropping performance. Ever since, the dunk contest has not left All-Star Weekend. It makes you wonder: If Vince Carter saved the Dunk Contest, then is he the greatest dunker ever?

#7: Bradley Beal and Jayson Tatum‘s Friendship

Credit to Madison Quisenberry of Getty Images for Picture

Many NBA players have grown up together and played with one another, as I wrote about in a separate article. However, it isn’t often that one future NBA player has another future NBA player to look up to like an older brother. While younger players have their inspirations and idols to model their game after, Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics had an older brother figure early in his childhood… and that was Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards.

As Beal was finishing a high school basketball career at Chaminade Prep and getting ready to attend the University of Florida, Jayson Tatum was an 8th grader trying to make the Chaminade Prep team the following year. Beal is also the reason why Tatum trains with Drew Hanlen, who started out as Beal’s personal trainer but soon evolved into one of the most respected NBA trainers in the modern era. However, even before they became basketball superstars, the two were so close that Beal babysat Tatum!

#6: Yinka Dare‘s Trouble With Assists

Credit to Rocky Widner of Getty Images for Picture

Yinka Dare was drafted with the 14th overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft by the New Jersey Nets. Unfortunately, he would only play one game his rookie season due to injury. However, in the second season that followed, Dare found it difficult to get credit for an assist, in part because he was a 7’0″ center before modern shooters existed and in part because the New Jersey Nets were so terrible and the offense didn’t flow around him. Dare went 58 games without a single assist, and if you look at his Basketball-Reference page, you’ll see that he averaged 0.0 assists per game, which is crazy to think about.

#5: The San Antonio Spurs Crazy Winning

Credit to Kin Man Hui of San Antonio Express-News for Picture

The San Antonio Spurs are definitively winners in everyone’s book. While the current 2021 Spurs have a lot to improve on, they have had some all-time great players on their roster, such as Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, Bruce Bowen, Boris Diaw, Kawhi Leonard, David Robinson, and so many more. Because of how the San Antonio dynasty played out and how they kept winning for nearly two decades, the Spurs have a winning record against every NBA team. Every single one. This does not include teams before the ABA merger, such as the Virginia Squires and Kentucky Colonels. While they may not stay this way for long, it is a crazy accomplishment. You can click here to see the proof for yourself.

#4: The crazy amount of time Kareem Abdul-Jabaar spent playing basketball

Credit to NBA.com for Picture

The current NBA record for most minutes played in a career is held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, which should not be surprising to anyone who knows that he played in the NBA for 20 seasons and holds the record for most points ever in a career, with 38,387. However, Abdul-Jabbar also holds the record for most minutes played in an NBA career, with 57,446 minutes logged. If we convert this to hours, this equals around 957 hours, and if we convert this to days, then we find that Abdul-Jabbar played the equivalent of 40 straight days of NBA basketball! Now that is longevity.

#3: How Robert Parish picked his number

Credit to NBA.com for Picture

Robert Parish is known for wearing the number 00 throughout his entire career, including while on the Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, and Chicago Bulls (with Michael Jordan towards the end of his career). However, the reason he wears 00 stems all the way back to junior high school. Back in middle school, Parish didn’t care that much about basketball, and skipped it whenever he could. Because of this, Parish was by far the worst player on the team. When the team got their jerseys for the upcoming season, Parish got 00 because it was the last number available.

“My junior high school team gave out jersey numbers to the player [based on] the scale of talent. The best players got their jerseys first. And then, the players that wasn’t as good as the starting five, that’s who got the remaining jerseys. And being that I was the worst player on the team at the time, 00 was the last jersey. So that’s how I got the number 00… and the number just stuck with me.”

Robert Parish on the “In the Post with Elvin Hayes” podcast

However, after embracing the number and putting in the work, Parish would become a star, which led to future NBA Stars wearing 0 and 00 as well, such as Gilbert Arenas, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, Jayson Tatum, Carmelo Anthony, DeMarcus Cousins, and many, many more.

#2: Stan Van Gundy and Doc Rivers‘ Trades

Credit to Jack Dempsey of the Associated Press for Picture

It seems as though we hear about players getting traded all the time, and during the offseason, it’s almost a nightly occurrence. However, one thing that we don’t hear much about is a little-known rule in the NBA: You can trade coaches, it just has to be for cash and/or draft picks, not players. There have only been two coaches traded in NBA history, and those two coaches are Stan Van Gundy and Doc Rivers. The first coach to be traded was Van Gundy, and that happened in 2005. After the 2005 playoffs, Pat Riley, who was then an executive for the Miami Heat, decided he wanted to coach the team. The problem was, Van Gundy was already the coach of the Heat. So, after some arguments, Van Gundy agreed to coach the Orlando Magic, despite the fact he was still under contract by the Miami Heat. However, Miami would solve this problem by letting Van Gundy coach Orlando in exchange for two second-round picks. This would work out, as ultimately the Heat would win their first championship the next year, and the Magic would make a finals appearance in 2009.

The second (and only other occurrence so far) of a coach getting traded came in 2013, with Doc Rivers. It was clear that the Celtics’ glory days were past, and Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were well past their primes. At this point, Ray Allen was on the Miami Heat, and Danny Ainge, the Celtics President of Basketball Operations, decided it was time to rebuild. In addition to trading the Hall-of-Famers to the Nets for tons of draft capital, Ainge also traded Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers, since Rivers wanted to coach for a team that was trying to win and have success in the playoffs. The 2015 first-round pick the Celtics acquired in exchange for Rivers became R.J. Hunter, who didn’t turn into anything special. However, the Celtics would acquire Brad Stevens as their new head coach, so it worked out just fine for them.

#1: Gilbert Arenas used a coin flip to decide his free agency

Credit to Celebrity Net Worth for Picture

After Gilbert Arenas emerged as a star for the Golden State Warriors, becoming an All-Star and winning the Most Improved Player award, he became highly sought after in NBA free agency. In 2003, Arenas decided that he was either going to sign with the Washington Wizards or the Los Angeles Clippers, but because he loved both franchises so much, he was torn and couldn’t choose. It is said that Arenas flipped a coin ten times to choose with franchise to sign with, and when Los Angeles came up eight times out of ten, he decided to go against the odds and sign with the Wizards.

 

Which of these facts did you find the craziest? Let me know in the comments below, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!

 

Robert Williams is the Boston Celtics X Factor! Future NBA All-Star?

When it comes to the greatest Celtics of all time, the most often talked about are Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Paul Pierce, and too many more to list in one paragraph. The Celtics had reliable centers who helped lead their team during the earlier decades of the NBA. In the late 1950s and 1960s, Bill Russell led the franchise to 11 NBA championships. In the 1970s, the Celtics had MVP and All-Star center Dave Cowens. Robert Parish anchored their defense in the 1980s with Larry Bird and Kevin McHale; as a nine-time All-Star, his most memorable accomplishment is playing in the most games ever in NBA history. However, once you get to the modern era, there is a lack of great Celtic centers. Shaquille O’Neal, arguably the most dominant big man in NBA history was on the Celtics, but he was fat and out of shape when he was there. Kendrick Perkins was decent, but he isn’t a Hall-of-Famer or even an All-Star. However, the Celtics have a new rising star who could be one of the greatest centers to ever play for the Celtics, and his name is Robert Williams.

Credit to Winslow Townson for picture

Williams attended high school at North Caddo Magnet in Los Angeles, California, where he would grow into a four-star prospect and the number 51 recruit in his class. After signing to play Division One basketball with Texas A&M, Williams spent two years there developing his game. During his first season, he was named to the Southeastern (SEC) All-Rookie team. He was also named to the SEC All-Defensive team, and won the Defensive Player of the Year Award. The next season, he would be named to the All-SEC first team and SEC All-Defensive team, while once again winning the award. With averages during his two years of 11.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game, the Boston Celtics took a chance on him and selected him with the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Williams is also known as the Time Lord, because of his timekeeping faux pas. Although he has never averaged over 30 minutes per game since being drafted by the team in 2018, Williams has only started in 16 games so far in his career. During the month of March (2021), despite only playing 23 minutes per game on average, Williams averaged 10.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.9 blocks, 2.2 steals, and 2.8 assists per game on 71% shooting from the field. These are great numbers for a young center who is coming off the bench behind Tristan Thompson, and nearly rival those of his college self.

What really put Williams onto the national stage, however, was his performance in the 2021 NBA Playoffs against the juggernaut Brooklyn Nets. Since the Nets have three MVPs on their team as well as former All-Stars (Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan), everyone is expecting them to easily cruise by the Celtics (myself included). However, Williams made a name for himself in Game 1 by blocking nine shots! Nine! This is a record for the Celtics that has never been broken, and even if Williams amounted to nothing for the rest of his career (which I highly doubt), he would still have a record in NBA history.

Take a look at this possession here against Kyrie Irving, and how masterfully Williams toys with his opponent’s brains.

Kyrie Irving (#11) is being guarded by Williams on this position, and as you can clearly see from the positioning of his foot, he is planning to make a move to get past Williams. Durant is on the side if Irving needs help, but the paint has been cleared out, so this is an isolation play for Irving.

As you can see, Irving has blown by Robert Williams, drawing help in the paint. However, this is no problem for Irving, as he is a master of finishing through contact. Assuming Williams is mostly out of the play, Irving will go to the left to try and confuse his defender. However, Williams just made a great fake, one that Irving completely fell for.

Marcus Smart (#36) comes over to try and draw the charge, but Irving hangs in the air and goes by him. Unfortunately, Williams saw everything that happened, and now, as Irving is hanging in the air, he can easily block the shot, and does so with ease.

Williams is 6’8″ (the same height as forward Jayson Tatum), but has a wingspan of 7’6″. He can play power forward (although he normally plays center), and he is the perfect compliment in the post for the Celtics. What was once a game of giants has become a game of guards and wings who play fast, efficient basketball and stretch the floor. Williams is very athletic and will not hinder a fast-paced Celtics team who couldn’t be more anxious to make another championship run.

Credit to Tomasz Kordylewski for video

Williams will undoubtedly be a highly regarded center in the coming years, and may help propel the Celtics to a championship or two. With that being said, Tacko Fall will also undoubtedly help the Celtics, and if Williams moves over to power forward, I can’t see any Celtics opponent ever scoring in the paint.

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The NBA Awards: Mamba On

The NBA Award results are beginning to be shown to the public, and among them are the 6th Man of the Year Award and the Most Improved Player Award. The respective awards went to Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz and Julius Randle of the New York Knicks, who both had wonderful seasons. Clarkson won the 6th Man of the Year Award by averaging 18.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists while playing in 68 games, coming off the bench in all but one. His performance helped propel the Jazz to the top of the NBA’s standings, finishing with a 52-20 record.

Credit to the NBA YouTube Channel for the Video

Randle, on the other hand, took a subpar Knicks team that he had been on the season before and completely transformed himself from above average role player to All-Star. During his first season with the Knicks (2019-20), Randle averaged 19.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists while the Knicks finished with a 21-45 record, good for the 12th seed in the Eastern Conference. This season, Randle became a first time All-Star and averaged career highs in every category, with 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game. The Knicks went from the 12th seed to the 4th seed, with a record of 41-31 in 2021. There is no doubt that he deserves this award, and earned it.

Congratulations to both of these men for making such incredible strides in their development.

With that being said, I couldn’t help but notice a striking similarity when it comes to the two award winners. A fact that I cannot gloss over, and one that makes me realize that even when you are dead, you can still have a massive influence on today’s NBA.

Credit to CLNS Media for Picture

Allow me to introduce you to the 2010 Los Angeles Lakers. Fresh off of winning back to back NBA Championships, the team fell off as Lamar Odom would leave the team in 2011 for the Dallas Mavericks, Ron Artest would sign with the Knicks in 2013, and Pau Gasol would sign with the Chicago Bulls in 2014. In an attempt to win a few more rings (Artest and Gasol did not age very well), the Lakers signed Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic in 2012. They also successfully traded for point god (that was his nickname) Chris Paul in 2011, but David Stern vetoed the trade because he thought it was unfair.

That big three would be the equivalent of today’s Brooklyn Nets, but since there was no Paul, it was just Bryant and Howard, which did not work out. Howard had nowhere near the work ethic of Bryant, a fact that Bryant could not stand. In a short amount of time, Howard had departed to the Rockets, and Bryant was forced to carry the Lakers while they tanked for high draft picks.

Credit to Mark J. Terrill for Picture

This forced Kobe Bryant into working harder than he should have at his age. So it should be no surprise that Bryant tore his achilles on April 12th, 2013, during a game against the Golden State Warriors. With no Bryant, the Lakers deteriorated. The Lakers had no first round draft picks in 2012 and 2013, but with their second round picks they selected Robert Sacre and Ryan Kelly, who are good friends to this day.

However, in 2014, the Lakers finally got a top draft choice (the 7th pick to be exact) and selected our good friend Julius Randle. Unfortunately, he broke his shin in his first game, and missed his whole rookie season. Aside from Randle, the Lakers also received Jordan Clarkson in a trade from that same draft. Because of the injuries to Randle and Bryant, the Lakers had yet another bad year and in 2015, selected D’Angelo Russell with the second overall pick. Unfortunately, this once more did nothing, and the Lakers received the second pick again in 2016, with which they selected Brandon Ingram. 2015-16 was Bryant’s final season, and after it was over, the Lakers had only their young core and another number two pick, this time Lonzo Ball.

So, with the exception of Ingram and Ball, all of the young Lakers got a chance to learn from the great Black Mamba himself, and while their stats on the Lakers were less then impressive, as soon as they were traded and moved to different teams, they became different players. It was as if the Black Mamba was inside each of them, telling them exactly what to do in order to become the kind of player that he was. Julius Randle has said that he thinks about Bryant on a daily basis, and Clarkson recalled how badly he wanted to win that final season. Before a game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Bryant gave every member on the team a pair of his shoes, but after a blowout loss, he took them all back, saying they weren’t worthy of wearing his shoes.

Once D’Angelo Russell was traded to the Brooklyn Nets, he became a first-time All-Star, led the Nets to a playoff appearance for the first time since 2015, and was traded in a sign and trade for Kevin Durant, a former MVP. Ryan Kelly, the second round pick in 2013 and the last player to ever sub in for Bryant, left the NBA to play overseas in Japan and is now averaging a 20-point 10-rebound double-double. Ingram and Ball must have learned some of the lessons from their teammates who played with Bryant, because once they were traded to the Pelicans, Ingram became an All-Star and Ball began to make his three-point shots.

The other two players from the Lakers’ young core? Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson. Clarkson would play for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but it wasn’t until he was on the Utah Jazz that he found his role, and became the player he is today. As for Randle, he would soon find himself on the New Orleans Pelicans, and from there the New York Knicks. The fact remains that two NBA award winners were those who studied under Kobe Bryant, the man with the most legendary work ethic on the planet. It’s safe to say that the Black Mamba was a great coach, and might be remembered as one of the greatest coaches ever if he did so professionally.

If you enjoyed learning about these award winners, then don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!

Six Times Larry Bird Endured Pain Like No Other

Larry Bird is one of the greatest competitors the game has ever seen. From his incredible work ethic to his trash talking and pain tolerance, Bird is truly one of a kind. Wanting to win more than anything, Bird would grit his teeth through nearly everything and carry on so that he could lead his team to victory. This blog post features six stories of Bird that show just how tough he truly was.

Disclaimer: The stories of how Bird masked and fought through pain are incredible, but were not always wise decisions. This blog attempts to capture how Bird endured pain, not endorse it. Do not attempt any of this at home.

#6: The Finger

Credit to USA Today for Picture

Bird was drafted by the Boston Celtics after his junior season of college. However, instead of turning pro, Bird had made a promise to his mother that he would get his degree and stay all four years at college. Red Auerbach, suspecting this, decided that Bird was worth the wait and waited for him to turn pro after his final year of college. After losing to Magic Johnson in the 1979 NCAA Championship, Bird had one thing to do before reporting to Boston. Majoring in Physical Education, Bird would become a physical education and health teacher, as well as an assistant baseball coach at West Vigo High School, located in Terre Haute, Indiana. After Bird was done teaching for the day, he would often play basketball or fill in for a missing player on the softball team. Unfortunately, one of these softball games would turn into his doom, as when playing in left field, Bird tried to catch a fly ball. He caught it successfully, but the ball smashed into his finger and bent it backwards. In his own words, “I looked down, and my finger was all the way over to the other side of my end.” After his brother nearly barfed looking at the grotesquely bent finger, Bird was rushed to the emergency room. Although given a splint, Bird kept going on with his normal day activities, until he was summoned by a doctor in Indianapolis.

At the doctor’s office, Bird was told that his right knuckle was shattered, and that he would need surgery to get it stabilized. When Bird asked the surgeon later how long it would take until it was healed, the surgeon said, “Healed? Son, I’m not sure it will.” This jeopardized Bird’s career with the Celtics, as Red Auerbach and the team thought he may be damaged goods. The Celtics’ physician, Thomas Silva, said that the knuckle would never fully heal, matching the words of the surgeon in Indianapolis. While Bird’s range of motion would forever be off, Auerbach told Bird to get on a court and start shooting. Bird buried all of his shots, and in doing so convinced Auerbach that they should keep him. Auerbach would later say, “If he was in pain, he did a pretty good job of disguising it. He was one tough kid.” Regardless, Bird would never shoot the same as he did at Indiana State. While he still made some memorable highlights (such as the 1986 three-point contest), if you really want to look for Bird’s best days, you may want to find clips of him in college. 30 years after the injury, Bird confirmed, “I never could shoot as well again.”

#5: Harvey “Catches” Bird with an Elbow

During a game in 1982, Bird went up for a rebound against the Milwaukee Bucks. Unfortunately, big man Harvey Catchings was going up for the rebound at the same time. Although they both stood at 6’9″, Catchings was a center and more accustomed to battling his way for boards. Catchings elbowed Bird on the side of the cheek (though we don’t know if it was intentional or unintentional). Bird was in an excruciating amount of pain, and this may have been because his skull was depressed by the blow! However, Bird would not allow himself to come out of the game, and played through it until the buzzer at the end of the 4th quarter. From there, Dr. Silva forced him to go to the hospital, where doctors drilled inside Bird’s head so they could “pop his zygotic arch back out,” or in normal words, pop out his skull.

#4: Larry’s Little Toe

In 1985, Bird began to feel pain in his toes. Bird being Bird ignored the pain for three weeks until it got too serious to ignore. Going to Dr. Silva, he was told that he had a very serious infection, and that he was going to have to cut it open to let the infection drain out. Dr. Silva said that he would give Bird novocain, but Bird just said, “Nah, just give me one of those beers over there.” Bird would play in the game that night, however when it was over, his sock was soaked in blood. This prompted M.L. Carr to say, “I swear to God, they carved him up like he was John Wayne. Toughest guy I’ve ever seen.”

#3: Dell Curry and the Eye

In the mid 1980s, Bird had already suffered some serious injuries, but he was still in his prime, winning championships and MVPs almost effortlessly. However, in one of those games, Dell Curry, father of Stephen Curry (two-time MVP), elbowed Bird in the eye (most likely by accident) and fractured his eye orbiter. Bird would end up with double vision, and as he would later say, “I was seeing two baskets. I had to guess which one to shoot at.” Despite the horrible injury, Bird would stay in the game, and more often than not, guess the right basket. Towards the end of the game, blood dripped from Bird’s nostril, and when he blew his nose, his eye protruded grotesquely.

#2: The Aw, Hell Game

It was the first round, Game Five of the 1991 NBA Playoffs. The Boston Celtics were matched up against the Indiana Pacers, and injuries were bothering old Larry once more. In a game where Bird wasn’t even sure he would play (it was a game time decision due to some back injuries), Bird, being the team player he was, dove for a loose ball. Unfortunately, he would bang his head on the ground and fall unconscious. Luckily, Bird regained consciousness, but he was escorted off the floor and into the trainer’s room. The team physician diagnosed him with a concussion, and it was clear to him that Bird was out for the rest of the game.

In the second half, Bird started getting antsy as the Celtics were losing the lead that he had worked so hard to gain. Bird asked the team’s new physician, Arnold Scheller, “Doc, should I go back in?” Scheller replied, “Larry, I think you’ve done enough.”

Larry’s response: “Aw, hell.” He then ran back onto the court, where the crowd gave him a standing ovation. Once Bird got into the game, they would go on a 33-14 run and win. Keep in mind, Bird was playing through a concussion!

#1: The Back

Credit to The Athletic for Picture

Bird’s back plagued him throughout his entire NBA career. From the early 1980s to the early 1990s, Bird’s back was one of the few things he couldn’t control on the court. While many different back issues resurfaced through his career, the ones he had towards the end of his career, particularly in 1992, were the most devastating. Bird’s back kept him from traveling to the 1992 All-Star weekend, and his back was in such bad condition that he spent a lot of time in a fiberglass body brace that extended from his upper torso to his hips. After he was in good enough condition that his doctors told him it was of no more use, Bird went into his backyard and blasted the brace with a shotgun. Although pain would later flair up in a couple of months, Bird would decide against his doctors wishes to fly to LA to speak when Magic Johnson’s number was retired at halftime in a game against (who else) the Boston Celtics.

These sorts of moments would bind Magic and Bird together, so that whenever someone would talk to one of them, one of the first things they asked was, “How’s Magic?” or, “How’s Larry?” I’m sure Kevin McHale and James Worthy were each slightly disappointed, but they understood.

Bird’s ability to play through pain was unmatched and will most likely forever be unmatched. Make sure to follow the blog if you liked this post and want more, and as always, have an awesome day!

Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics Make History

On April 30th, 2021, Jayson Tatum scored 60 points against the San Antonio Spurs. This night was historic for a couple of reasons, the first being that he is now tied with Larry Bird for the most points a Celtic ever scored in a single game. The second is that every one of Tatum’s 60 points counted, as the Spurs were up by as much as 32 points, and the Celtics stormed back to win 143-140 in overtime.

The 32 point comeback is the third largest in NBA history. The second largest happened in 2009 when the Sacramento Kings came back from a 35-point deficit against the Chicago Bulls, and the largest comeback was when the Utah Jazz came back from a 36-point deficit against the Denver Nuggets in 1996.

This season has been rough for everybody, Tatum included. Earlier in the year, Tatum was diagnosed with COVID-19, and even when he was cleared to play again, he still felt repercussions from his symptoms. Tatum revealed that before some games, he would use an inhaler just so he could have enough oxygen. This is very similar to how Larry Bird endured pain, quite simply like no other. However, the stories about the pain Bird endured are for another blog.

Aside from Devin Booker, Jayson Tatum is the youngest player in NBA history to score 60 or more points (Booker dropped 70 on the Celtics). He also scored 53 points earlier in the season, making him the first player in Celtics history to score 50 or more points twice in a season. It’s safe to say that Tatum is already in elite company.

If you want to see a blog on Larry Bird’s ability to play through pain, let me know, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog (it would mean a lot to me), and as always, have an awesome day!

Lonzo Ball to the Knicks or Bulls? A Possible NBA Trade Before the Deadline

If you know anything about the Ball brothers, then you know their father, LaVar Ball, has more control over his sons than just about anyone else. If you don’t know anything about the Ball family and Lonzo Ball, then go check out their reality TV show, Ball in the Family, and it’ll tell you everything you need to know.

Credit to Alex Goodlett for picture

With his youngest son, Lamelo Ball, now in the NBA playing for the Charlotte Hornets, LaVar is working on getting one of his others sons, Lonzo, away from the New Orleans Pelicans.

“I don’t know what they’re gonna do, but I hope he gets traded. I don’t like watching him play like he plays… He can’t stand New Orleans, come on man.”

LaVar Ball on his son, Lonzo Ball

Although Lonzo struggled in his first few years on the Los Angeles Lakers, once he was traded to the Pelicans, he began to put up much better numbers. In his two seasons with Los Angeles, Lonzo averaged 10 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game, which seem like good numbers. However, his jump shot was inconsistent, as he shot 38% from the field and 31.5% from three, which was atrocious. Playing with LeBron James under the Los Angeles spotlight was not good for his game, and he was sent to New Orleans in the Anthony Davis trade. Now, in his second year with New Orleans, Ball is having a career year, despite being misused by head coach Stan Van Gundy. Ball is averaging 14.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 5.5 assists. However, his shooting is much better, as he is making 43% of his shots from the field and sniping 39% from three.

It is clear to everyone that LaVar wants Lonzo on the Hornets, as his dream, which has been stated repeatedly, is to have all three Ball brothers on the same team in the NBA so that they can mimic the success they had in high school at Chino Hills. In the one year where all the brothers played together, they played one of the toughest schedules in the country and went 35-0, finishing the year with a state championship and national championship.

Realistically, if the Pelicans are looking to ship Ball out, the two teams that make the most sense are the Bulls and the Knicks. The Chicago Bulls need a playmaker and point guard with experience. Their current starter at that position is Coby White. No disrespect to Coby, I love him, I think his game is great, but Lonzo is simply a better player. Unfortunately, finding a trade package might be difficult, as the one player who seems to be on Ball’s level is Lauri Markannean. It wouldn’t make much sense for the Pelicans to acquire another power forward, as they already have Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Steven Adams.

The New York Knicks, on the other hand, are a big market team (which matters a ton to LaVar) and have trade assets to offer to the Pelicans, such as Austin Rivers, Elfrid Payton, Mitchell Robinson, and an arrangement of picks. Realistically, the Pelicans are not going to want to trade Lonzo in the middle of him having such a great season, and if he does leave for another team, it will be in the summer of 2021, when he is a restricted free agent. NBA players, coaches, and analysts make comments like this all the time when they are unhappy or to stir up controversy, so one wouldn’t expect to think much of it. However, when it’s LaVar Ball, everything he says is scrutinized and looked at under a microscope. Some of the bigger claims he has made is that Lonzo Ball is better than Steph Curry, his company, Big Baller Brand is worth billions of dollars (this was a few years ago), and that he could beat Michael Jordan in a game of one on one.

Do you think Lonzo will leave the Pelicans? Let me know what you think in the comments below, don’t forget to follow the blog, and as always, have an awesome day!

Krazy Kobe Koincidences

As we all know, Kobe Bryant’s death a little over one year ago was one of the most tragic events that has happened in recent basketball history. Kobe helped make this game what it is, and was arguably the greatest player to ever play for the Los Angeles Lakers. The Mamba Mentality and work ethic of Kobe were two of his greatest attributes, admired by fans worldwide. It should come as no shock that when the world mourned Kobe Bryant’s death, fans and players paid tribute.

Something many NBA players did was run out the 24 second shot clock in honor of Kobe’s second jersey number, 24. Other young rising stars in the league chose to wear number eight or number 24 for one night in honor of Kobe, and in the NBA All-Star Game, Team Giannis wore #24 and Team LeBron wore #2, which was the jersey number of Gianna, Kobe’s daughter. All of a sudden, within days, it seemed that the numbers two, eight, 24, and 81 were everywhere. We saw it in the 2020 NBA Playoffs, when the Los Angeles Lakers were up 24-8 against the Blazers. We saw it in Game 2 of the 2020 NBA Finals, when LeBron James scored the 81st point for the Los Angeles Lakers, with eight minutes and 24 seconds left in the third quarter.

One crazy thing that happened was the combined numbers of Devin Booker and Trae Young (in more ways than one).

On the day of the tragic accident, January 26th, Devin Booker played against the Memphis Grizzlies, while Trae Young played against the Washington Wizards. Together, the two players combined stats were 24 shots attempted, 24 shots made, and 81 points combined. Trae Young also shot 81% from the free throw line, and was the first player since Kobe to have a 45-point double-double with under 25 field goal attempts against the Washington Wizards. This caused Young to remark that Kobe was with him that night. You can’t make these things up.

Young also decided to wear the #8 for just one night, to honor Kobe Bryant. Devin Booker, on the other hand, decided to keep his usual number, #1. When you put two of the league’s best young stars next to one another, both of which have been compared to Kobe, you get the number 81; one of the most meaningful numbers in Kobe’s career.

This was not something that was planned, as because of time zone differences, they wouldn’t have had time to communicate these events. Even if they had, there is no way they could have decided what shots to make as well as miss to honor the Black Mamba. Kobe lives on in the NBA; and in other basketball leagues as well.

Ryan Kelly, a teammate of Bryant’s on the Lakers, now lives and plays basketball in Japan. On the Sun Rockers in the B League, Kelly has been putting up big numbers. During this particular game, Kelly scored 24 points in 24 minutes and 24 seconds. The scary thing is that this wasn’t done on purpose. This game was played hours before Kobe’s fatal crash, so Kelly was stunned when he heard the news. His wife was actually the one who tweeted him the news, as seen below.

Maybe this has something to do with what happened in Kobe’s final game. Kelly was the last player to ever sub out for Kobe, with four seconds left after Kobe had scored his 60th point. Either way, Kobe and Gianna will always be with us in our hearts, souls, and minds.

Report: Russell Westbrook to Build a School in Southern Los Angeles

Russell Westbrook, an MVP and 9-time All-Star, is planning to build a middle and high school in South Los Angeles. The school will be named the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Academy, as Why Not? has been Westbrook’s mantra for some time. He has partnered with the L.A. Promise Fund to do so; now, Lebron James isn’t the only NBA player to build a school.

Credit to BlackEnterprise for photo of Russell Westbrook

“Creating and supporting educational opportunities for underserved youth has always been a passion of mine. It’s so important that every child has access to a good education regardless of their socioeconomic background.”

Russell Westbrook on building a school

According to People Magazine, Westbrook and his wife, Nina Earl, are working with business partner Donyell Beverly to create the academy. He has said that his goals on the matter are to, “help provide the essential and necessary resources to set them up for success beyond the classroom.” On February 24th, Russ said in a Twitter post that this was “just the beginning.”

The 32-year old Wizards’ point guard grew up in Los Angeles, where he played for Leuzinger High School. He wasn’t a stud coming in, and as a junior, he came off the bench for the varsity team. However, Coach Ben Howland of UCLA saw something in the scrappy young point guard and offered him a scholarship when Jordan Farmar decided to declare for the NBA Draft. Even though he was a backup to Darren Collinson his first year, Westbrook began to slowly turn heads. Steph Curry later said that Westbrook was the best player who had ever guarded him in college, which is serious praise. After two years at UCLA, Westbrook declared for the NBA Draft, and was taken with the 4th pick in 2008 by the Seattle Supersonics.

It is refreshing to see NBA players giving back to their communities. Earlier this season, Westbrook gave a pair of game worn shoes to a Capital One Arena stadium worker.

More than anything, the coolest thing to see would be a high school basketball game between the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Academy and Lebron James’ I Promise School. Who do you think would win the epic high school showdown? Let me know in the comments below, don’t forget to follow the blog, and as always, have an awesome day!

Michael Jordan is Donating $10 Million to Open Medical Clinics in North Carolina

Michael Jordan is opening two health care clinics in Wilmington, North Carolina, the town in which he grew up. The fact that it costs $10 million to do so doesn’t bother him, because he’s helping people in need. Partnered with Novant Health, a non-profit health care group, the organization says Jordan’s donation will bring, “Comprehensive primary care, including behavioral health and social support services, to the area’s most vulnerable communities.”

Picture by Streeter Lecka

This isn’t the first time Jordan has given back to his home town. In 2017, Jordan donated $7 million and opened up two health care centers. There is proof that these centers have helped people, as since 2017, more than 4,000 patients have visited.

This also isn’t the first time Jordan has splurged to help out those in need. Jordan has also donated $3 million to hurricane relief and $5 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The former Bull has also donated millions to Make-A-Wish foundations and charities in Chicago, as well as pledging $100 million over ten years to different organizations. I think it’s fair to say that Jordan is the GOAT on the basketball court and a GOAT off of it as well.

If you liked this update, then don’t forget to follow the blog by entering your email address below so that you can receive updates every time a new post goes live, and as always, have an awesome day!

*Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use. No copyright infringement intended. ALL RIGHTS BELONG TO THEIR RESPECTIVE OWNERS*

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The Journey of a Professional Basketball Player: From a Five Star Recruit to Playing Basketball Overseas

Today’s blog is a little bit different from most. Through connections of friends, I was able to interview Ryan Kelly. For those who don’t know, Ryan Kelly is a professional basketball player who played for the Los Angeles Lakers and now plays overseas in Japan.

This blog details Ryan Kelly’s journey from high school to college basketball to the NBA to playing overseas in Japan, and provides perspective to how an NBA player made it to the NBA. I hope you enjoy.

Basketball was always a big part of Ryan Kelly’s life. His dad played basketball at Yale University. The first time Ryan walked, he was holding a basketball in his hands. With that being said, basketball became his life in middle school. While growing faster than most kids his age, Kelly played JV basketball in 8th grade for Ravenscroft School, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

One of the reasons that Ryan Kelly made great strides in basketball at such a young age was his work ethic and mentality. Looking back, Kelly remarks, “In 7th or 8th grade, I had the mentality you just got to be in the gym a lot. You just got to work harder than other people, which means something.”

“I started going to the gym at 6:30 in the morning. I did that going into high school.”

The early work paid off, as Kelly made varsity his freshmen year. He was good, but he wasn’t necessarily considered elite. In his sophomore year of high school, he averaged 14.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 3.9 blocks per game. But what really launched Kelly onto the national stage was when he started playing AAU basketball. He was fortunate to land an amazing opportunity. He told me, “Going into high school, I started playing on an AAU team called D1 Sports. John Wall was my teammate.”

When asked the first time a college coach watched him play, he replied, “During the summer, the Ravenscroft team went to NC State camp, Wake Forest camp, that’s probably when coaches started watching me. Going into my junior year, I blew up as a prospect, and became a top 20 recruit.” With people taking note of the Ravenscroft power forward and watching him his junior year, Kelly averaged 23.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks, while leading his team to the #5 ranking in the state of North Carolina.

Ryan Kelly’s senior year was when the hype really came. He was named a McDonald’s All-American after averaging 25.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, 2 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. His competition level increased during the season, as he played against Duke commit and future NBA player Mason Plumlee early in the season. Plumlee defeated him in this contest, and happened to be ranked five spots higher than Kelly in the class of 2009. They matched up again in the state championship. “They [Mason Plumlee’s team] beat us in the state championship in my senior year. Christ school had seven or eight D1 recruits on the roster.”

By the time his high school career was over, Ryan Kelly had broken 12 different school records, including points in a career, points in a season, rebounds in a career, rebounds in a season, and field goal percentage.” Kelly had multiple different scholarship offers, but when asked what his final list was, he said, “My final list of schools was Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, and Georgetown.” Eventually, he committed to Duke, where his college basketball journey would begin.

A lot of people believe that NBA players only need one year of college or at a maximum two, or are ready for the league in high school but still have to go to college. While there are examples of this, this is not the majority. Ryan Kelly had to work his way up and spent four years at Duke University.

When looking back at his freshmen year, Kelly said, “First and foremost, I had to go through my first year, in terms of basketball, where I was truly disappointed in how my year went. Because I was a big recruit, and you think you’re going to play, and you look around, and I was a McDonald’s All-American, but they were all [McDonald’s All-Americans and] 2-3 years older than me.”

Ryan Kelly was a backup his first season at Duke, playing behind Kyle Singler, who would later play in the NBA for the Detroit Pistons and Oklahoma City Thunder. Despite winning an NCAA Championship his freshmen year, Kelly averaged 1.2 points per game. Not a phenomenal start for the #17 recruit.

Basketball isn’t all that you have to worry about in college. Academics matter a lot, especially to Ryan Kelly and his family. While majoring in public policy at Duke, Kelly noted how “you’re pretty lucky at Duke,” and that you have, “academic advisors who put together schedules based on what you want to do-you have to find a way to practice.”

“You have to have a good three hours at least [for practice]. Practice time would vary depending on our year, but would mostly be in the afternoon. Classes would be in the morning or mid-morning.”

During his sophomore year, Ryan Kelly played a bigger role as a Blue Devil, averaging 6.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game. Not NBA numbers, but much improved. As I mentioned earlier, Ryan Kelly has the mindset that you have to be in the gym, and so that is what he did. He worked on his game as much as he could, improving and improving.

The hard work paid off, as in his junior season, Coach K asked him to be team captain. Kelly obviously accepted, and went on to average 11.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.1 assists and blocks per game his junior season.

His senior season was when he really started to show up on NBA draft boards. But equally important to him and his family, he made the All ACC-Academic all four years at Duke. His senior season may have been the hardest for Ryan Kelly, as midway through the season, he broke his foot. This was a huge detriment to his draft stock, though he was luckily able to make a comeback. If teams viewed him as damaged goods, that all changed after a seemingly regular game against Miami.

Against the University of Miami, Ryan Kelly wasn’t even sure how much he was going to play. Coming off of his broken foot, and after practicing for just 45 minutes, Coach K decided that he was going to start his senior forward. Kelly was surprised, and while he missed his first shot, he “didn’t miss much after that.” Kelly finished with a grand total of 36 points, while draining seven 3’s.

Kelly’s draft stock increased significantly, and he finished the season averaging 12.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks on 45% shooting from the field and 42% from three. He declared for the 2013 NBA Draft.

The night of the NBA draft, Ryan Kelly was at home with friends and family, and remembers that, “We had about four TVs on with the draft, and I didn’t know what was going to happen. I hoped I was going to get drafted, but I just remember that night, feeling like all my family and friends were there and I was so grateful for that, but I just wanted to be alone, to see what happened.” Eventually, Ryan Kelly was drafted 48th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers.

During his rookie season, Ryan Kelly averaged eight points, four rebounds, and two assists per game. Looking back, Kelly remarked, “I learned a lot from Mike D’Antoni, who coached the Lakers my rookie year. The game is different.” Kelly got to mentor under stars whose NBA careers were winding down, such as Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Steve Nash. Being able to learn from them is something that “I will always cherish,” Kelly told me.

When playing with Steve Nash once, Nash threw Kelly a behind the back pass, and Kelly decided not to shoot. Later he was told by his teammates, “If Steve Nash gives you a pass like that, you have to shoot.” He also learned a lot about preparation from the late and great Kobe Bryant. In a game against Charlotte in Kobe’s farewell season, Kelly found himself next to Bryant on the bench. According to Ryan Kelly, “He told me exactly the play Charlotte was going to run, and they ran it, just like he said.”

Ryan Kelly slams home a game winning dunk vs the Portland Trail Blazers

At the age of 24, the Lakers traded Ryan Kelly to the Atlanta Hawks, where he only played 16 games. After bouncing around a couple of different teams and was waived, Ryan Kelly decided to take his talents overseas for a short stint in Spain. This was followed by the B League in Japan, where he found much more success.

The B League was founded in 2015. There were two leagues in Japan until 2015, when they merged. In Japan, different sports have a different letter. The B League has the second longest basketball season in the world after the NBA, with 60 games. They have an All-Star Game and league MVP, but there are restrictions on how many foreigners can be on a pro basketball team, and how many can be on an All-Star team.

In the 2018-2019 season, Ryan Kelly averaged 20.1 points and 10.2 rebounds in 58 games, dominating like he never had before. The next season he would average 22 and seven, and the year after that 21 and six. Despite the incredible improvement from the Lakers and the much improved stats, Kelly has not yet been an All-Star.

When asked if he could speak Japanese, Kelly said, “Very little, enough to say hello, good morning, good night, or ask for a cup of water. I have an American coach who is good at Japanese himself and there are other people on his staff as well.” It is interesting to see the cultural difference of being a basketball player in Japan versus Los Angeles. In LA, Kelly was frequently recognized, as the Lakers are the A Team in Los Angeles (no offense Clippers). According to Kelly, in Japan, “More people are like, who’s this tall guy? If I’m on the train or walking around, you can see me over the crowd.”

I asked him, if you had to guess, which would be more fun to play in? The B League or the NBA? Ryan Kelly said, “The NBA is what I dreamed of. I certainly enjoyed my time playing in the NBA, but I was more of a role player. My best year was my rookie year, sort of like Micheal Carter-Williams. 

“Purely on the court, it’s a lot more fun to be in the B league and get to shoot a lot and have the ball in my hands more. I make a huge impact on winning or losing on the court. But there’s nothing quite like being in the NBA, living the life of chartered flights every game, but they both have their positives.”

As Kelly is making great strides overseas, there is no doubt in my mind that he’ll become an All-Star very soon. That is, once COVID gets under control. Leave a like if you enjoyed this type of blog, and make sure to pay attention to the B League and it’s new could-be star Ryan Kelly. Follow Ryan on Instagram or Twitter @RyanKelly34, don’t forget to follow the blog, and as always, have an awesome day!

*Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use. No copyright infringement intended. ALL RIGHTS BELONG TO THEIR RESPECTIVE OWNERS