Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Michael Jordan: The Gift and the Curse!

The game of basketball has been around for years.  We have seen multiple teams win championships over the years using different ways of getting there.

In the '80s, we had three teams in that decade that won multiple championships which included the Lakers, Celtics, and Pistons.  All of these teams had something in common.  They were complete teams that played together in order to accomplish one goal. 

The Lakers had a starting lineup that included:
Magic Johnson
Byron Scott
Michael Cooper
James Worthy
Kareem Adul-Jabbar

The Celtics had a starting lineup that included:
Dennis Johnson
Danny Ainge
Larry Bird
Kevin McHale
Robert Parrish

The Pistons had a starting lineup that included:
Isaiah Thomas
Joe Dumas
Mark Aguirre
Bill Laimbeer
James Edwards

All the above championship teams had players who came together and played team basketball.  These teams had productive bench play and no one was trying to outshine their teammates.

Then came the birth of Michael Jordan.  A player who took over the NBA by himself, taking on all teams.  He led the league in scoring almost every year.  If you grew up in the '80s and '90s, you wanted to "Be like Mike".  Michael Jordan, not purposely, taught little kids to be selfish and go after your individual stats to succeed in basketball.  After many years of losing to the Celtics and Pistons, Michael realized that it took a team effort to become a championship team.  He finally figured it out, and partnered with Scottie Pippen and other great role player to win six NBA championships.

While becoming a champion, Michael Jordan birthed children like Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady.  These and other player came into the league with the belief that they had to win championships by solely leading their teams, by putting up the majority of shots like Michael did in order to become great.  Kobe Bryant quickly learned, due to veteran leadership around him, that it takes a team to win championships.

The offspring of Michael Jordan has finally grown up to become great players.  They are finally teaching the up and coming player that team basketball is the way to go.  Just take a look at the 2012 Kentucky Wildcats, who were dynamic underclassmen that came together to achieve one goal and that was a National Championship.  The Kentucky Wildcats all compromised there individual success in order to gain team success.

The NBA is finally getting back to great team basketball.  The Dallas Mavericks won last year with great team effort.  They even had bench players like Jason Terry and J.J. Barea who really made the difference during the 2011 NBA Finals.  This year you have the San Antonio Spurs currently on a 20 game winning streak playing the best team ball I have ever seen.  If you want to see basketball the way Dr. James Naismith designed it, watch the San Antonio.

We can all thank Michael Jordan, because he showed us how life was when you have all the individual honors and no championship and how life is when you make your teammates better and win multiple championships.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Who is the Villain?

Growing up in Kansas City, my father always liked taking our family to the movies during the summer.  He loved to watch a good action movie.  I could remember him arguing with his friends for weeks about different scenes in the original Terminator movie.  In all of these movies, there was a good guy to root and a villain to go against.

Over the years, there have been several villains in movies.  Superman had Lex Luthor, Batman had the Joker and Luke Skywalker had Darth Vader.  Anyone who knows me can tell you who is my
all-time villain.  That would be Wesley Snipes' character Nino Brown in the best movie ever, New Jack City. 

I thought about this topic while listening to an ESPN sports radio show discussing something similar this past weekend.  Just like in every action movie, there is a villain that the audience is supposed to go against or strangely root for.

In baseball, you could consider Barry Bonds a villain.  He broke the home run record and is known as one of the best baseball players ever with an asterisk since he took performance enhancement drugs without knowing.  Side note, if my head size went from a 7 to an 8 after age 24, I would check with a doctor about that.  He was always a complete jerk to the media.

Basketball has their fair share of villains.  Dennis Rodman is the first one that comes to mind.  He was an original Bad Boy for the Detroit Piston championship teams.  Dennis and his teammates believed it was their duty to beat the crap out of Michael and Scottie any chance they could.   

Football has a couple villains as well.  One of the most recent inductees to the villain fraternity would be Greg Williams, GODFATHER of the BOUNTY.  He turned a mediocre New Orleans Saints team to a championship defense just by giving the team an incentive (BOUNTY) to do what they were already going to do. 

Villains in the sports world can be players, coaches or even owners.  Let me know who are some people you think are the villains of their sport and what they did to give themselves the VILLAIN title.