Kobe Bryant, the player, put his signature on his greatness this week when the Lakers played the Bucks. I’m talking Bryant on the basketball court; not in court. With the Lakers aimed at defeat, Kobe took charge, pumped in 31 points, and personally carried the team to a 4th. quarter comeback and win. With all the legal and personal problems he is facing, he showed his toughness and what he is made of on the basketball floor. Shaq, I have a message for you; as dominant as you are when healthy, you may have Payton and Malone now, but without Kobe Bryant, you just ain’t gonna win the NBA title this year!! Best you understand it, Shaq; you need him!!
Story of the Week
CAPSULE HISTORY OF PRO BASKETBALL
This week’s article deals with a capsule history of pro basketball’s defining landmark moments from post-World War II to present as follows:
1946. Modern pro basketball era begins with founding of the East Coast 11-team Basketball Association of America to rival existing National Basketball League operating mainly in the Midwest.
1948. Minneapolis, Rochester and Fort Wayne switch leagues, and join the upstart BAA. Paves way for imminent merger of the two leagues.
1949. Joe Fulks and Paul Arizin of Philadelphia make the one-handed jump shot the popular offensive style of the future. The NBA is born, the product of the merger noted above.
1950. The Boston Celtics make Chuck Cooper of Duquesne the first black player drafted by the NBA.
1954. Syracuse owner Danny Biasone introduces concept of 24-second clock to NBA to overcome offensive slowdowns.
1956. Boston acquires draft rights to Bill Russell in trade with St. Louis, thus laying foundation for their great dynasty.
1962. Philadelphia’s Wilt Chamberlain posts most phenomenal individual year in NBA history by scoring 100 points in one game, and 4,000 in season. Cincinnati’s Oscar Robertson becomes only player to ever average a triple-double for a season. The feats of Chamberlain and Robertson give new meaning to the word incredible.
1967. The ABA experiment begins nine-year run. It collapses, but not before it revolutionizes NBA play with three-point field goals, soaring slam-dunks, and equally soaring salaries.
1970. UCLA’s Lew Alcindor inspires unprecedented bidding war between ABA and NBA. NBA wins; Alcindor signs with Milwaukee. Loss of Alcindor leads to eventual absorption of ABA by NBA.
1979. Magic Johnson (LA) and Larry Bird (Boston) arrive on NBA scene, and pump new life and enthusiasm into a sagging league suffering from dipping TV ratings and fan support. (That rivalry spoiled me forever. There will never be another like it.)
1984. Michael Jordan is selected by Chicago after being passed-over by Portland and Houston in draft. Chicago’s dynasty of six NBA titles in eight seasons is just around the corner.
2001. LA, with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, win third straight NBA championship. Three in a row; that’s a mini-dynasty.
2002. San Antonio ends LA’s consecutive streak of NBA titles.
2003. Lebron James and Carmello Anthony squared off against each other in a very easy-to-forget confrontation between Cleveland and Denver this week. They are supposed to be the reincarnation of Earvin vs Larry; the problem is that they don’t play and shoot like Johnson and Bird, and their respective teams suck. And the ridiculous zone defenses in place in the NBA are playing havoc with anything resembling respectable offense around the league. Even without these zone defenses, one other small problem exists; the average modern-day NBA player just can’t shoot!
Last Week’s Trivia
What major leaguers accomplished at least 500 career homers and at least 3,000 career base hits? Henry Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray. Murray obviously joins great company in this trivia answer. He also is a 2003 inductee into the Hall-of-Fame.
Trivia Question of the Week
His name was Joe Glenn, and he was a major league catcher for eight seasons. His lifetime batting average was .252 with five homers and 89 RBI’s over his entire career. He played in only 248 games in those eight years. But the circumstances of two of those games were extraordinary. What were they? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.