Take a Minute to Check Out the Top 5 Larry Bird Fights

Since the great Quarantine started back in March there has obviously been no sports and no NBA basketball to watch. It’s been awful and depressing for those of us that are die-hard hoops fans. Our only salvation has been the throwback clips that get posted to social media on a daily basis. Of those, the main ones I keep seeing are Larry Bird highlight reels, basically the same ones posted day after day.

I’m not salty about it, I love Larry Bird. But if you grew up a Celtics fan like me, Larry Bird highlights were like my Lion King or Little Mermaid. I’ve watched them a million times and while they never get old, it’s still the same stuff I’ve been watching since the mid 90’s.

That’s why I thought this clip of Larry Bird’s best fights would be a good change of pace from the highlight reels we have been inundated with on the daily. There’s been a lot of talk lately about how the 90’s were so much tougher than today’s game due to the “Last Dance” documentary about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, but the rough stuff that went on then looks like paddycake compared to how the NBA got down in the 80’s. And as this video shows, Larry Bird was not only one of the greatest, but one of the toughest SOB’s to ever play. The “Hick from French Lick” didn’t take no shit from anyone.

P.S. — Just in case you watched that and are craving some more NBA fights, here’s a video featuring some of the best of all time.

Will Top-Ranked Recruit RJ Hampton Skipping College to Play Overseas Make Waves Across College Basketball?

High School basketball star RJ Hampton announced today that he will be foregoing College Basketball and instead opting to play professional ball immediately for a year until he becomes eligible for the NBA draft. Hampton announced his decision on ESPN’s “Get Up” morning show that he will be bringing his talents to the New Zealand Breakers.

Here are some of Hampton’s thoughts on the decision and why he is opting to skip the college system altogether.


“My No. 1 goal is to play in the NBA. I wanted to be an NBA player before I ever wanted to be a college player. This is about getting ready for the next level faster and more efficiently. Both of my parents went to college. My mom got her master’s degree. Education is a big thing in our family, but this is about focusing 100 percent on basketball.” – RJ Hampton (via ESPN’s Get Up)

Now, this wouldn’t be the first time we have seen a player opt to play professionally abroad rather than go into the flawed college one and done system. A system that pretends to put an importance on education for players that will only be on campus for a total of 8 or 9 months. He wouldn’t be the first, but he certainly seems to be the most talented thus far to make the decision. Hampton ranked as a 5-star recruit and the 5th ranked overall player of the 2020 recruiting class. He is almost a sure shot to become a lottery draft pick when he eventually declares for the NBA.

When asked for a comment on the situation, part owner of the Breakers, PFT Commenter of Barstool Sports had this to say.

All joking aside and even though PFT is a real owner, the significance of this move shouldn’t be undersold and rightfully should have the NCAA and its coaches concerned. There has been much criticism of the one and done athlete in men’s college basketball. While Division 1 basketball is still the top tier of talent in terms of a league outside the NBA, that only really applies to the United States. Euro Leagues like Liga ACB, the one Luka Dončić hailed from, and others such as NBL where the Breakers play, have real talent and allow the athletes to focus solely on basketball. There are no classes and grade point averages to uphold while trying to manage a full workload of basketball and travel during the season.

 

Hampton is throwing a wrench into this broken system that seems destined to change anyways in the coming years. With the growth of the G-League, the NBA’s own developmental league, and more and more options becoming available for top tier high school talent, I believe before long we could see a phasing out of the one and done. Which believe it or not, would be good for not just the players but for College Basketball as well.

While in the coming days, Hampton will receive praised and scrutiny from both sides, it’s key to remember this. What other professions in the world are you not entitled to earn money from your skill if you are one of the best in the world at it? A 17-year-old genius will get a free ride to MIT and be able to get paid for work he does outside school if he chooses. Also, in this very country, we also have 15- and 16-year old’s making millions of dollars creating YouTube and Instagram videos and there are no restrictions on that. Let these athletes make the best decisions for themselves and their families. College Basketball has made enough money off these kids. It’s time for a change, I’m happy to see it finally starting to happen.

 

Can the Boston Celtics prove something tonight vs Philadelphia 76ers?

The Boston Celtics have had yet another one of their tumultuous weeks, a trend that seems to have followed them this entire season. It goes 1-2 great weeks of basketball, followed by a few bad losses and a negative sound-bite that gets blown out of proportion and leaves everyone coming up with zany conspiracy theories regarding the future of this team.

At the beginning of the year when this first started, it was almost comical to say that this team wouldn’t figure it out and contend for the Eastern Conference Title. But now, as we close in on the All-Star break and things seem to still be in turmoil, well let’s just say it’s not looking great. It was well put by ESPN’s Jackie McMullan when she said the following on the Brian Windhorst Hoop Collective Podcast

“There is something wrong with this team, It’s too late in the season to keep saying they’re going to figure it out. The chemistry is bad. The vibe is bad. And it’s not getting better” – Jackie MacMullan via Brian Windhorst and the Hoop Collective Podcast

Terry Roz

Clearly, things haven’t gone as predicted this season but even to the sourest critics of this team, it can’t be ruled out that we might just very well still end up seeing the Celtics in the NBA Finals come June. In the eyes of many NBA analysts, they are still, in fact, the favorites in the East.

There’s one other team that has been getting some new chatter that they might actually be the frontrunners now, and that is the Philadelphia 76ers. With the recent addition of Tobias Harris to their starting five, the Sixers have pretty much told the rest of the conference that they are all in on this season. It’s NBA Finals or bust for them.

It’s what makes tonight’s matchup in Philadelphia so intriguing. It will be the first time this new look Sixers’ team will matchup against the team that has been their nemesis in the East over the past 2 seasons. Boston took them down 4-1 in last year’s Eastern Conference Semi-finals and have taken both games so far this season.

We all know Kyrie Irving will be out with a knee injury, but it still looks to be a major statement game for the Celtics, for better or worse.

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Via 6abc.com

If the Celtics can go into Philadelphia and beat this newly formed “Phantastic 5” (lame nickname) that they have formed in Philly, it could be a giant momentum shift for this team. In fact, if I were a betting man, I would almost surely bet the Celtics in this game. Only for the simple reason that almost every time they have suffered a string of losses against sub-par teams, they usually back it up with an impressive victory over a real contender. It’s almost like it’s part of this team’s DNA and what makes them so insanely frustrating to watch at times.

It won’t be an easy task; the Sixers have had two impressive victories since they formed this new team. An impressive win over the 2nd seeded Nuggets, and a blow-out win over the LA Lakers who just beat the Celtics with a buzzer beater less than a week ago.

Another thing to factor in, the “we don’t need Kyrie Irving” talk will become deafening if the Celtics can come away with a win tonight. I’m certainly not of the camp that supports that theory, especially when he goes out the other night vs the LA Clippers and the Celtics blow a 28-point lead. But it will go a long way in supporting the narrative that this team plays better overall without him on the floor and which is another reason I feel a win in Philadelphia tonight is imminent. This team seems to attract turmoil, and while a win tonight will be great, it will add a whole new layer to that department.

Simply put though, if the Celtics can withstand Philadelphia’s best shot tonight and leave with a win, it will be hard to not keep them as a favorite still in the East. While every top team in the conference like the Bucks, Raptors, and Sixers all got better, it still feels like its inevitably the Celtics conference to lose. And if they do end up losing, I don’t believe it will be because they are outmatched by anyone. It will be because they end up beating themselves.

Magic Johnson Continues Tampering Spree, Next Target Ben Simmons

Is Magic Johnson moving on from tampering with Anthony Davis and moving onto someone new? Well, today reports are swirling from ESPN that Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons is requesting the ability to have a meeting with NBA Legend and LA Lakers Team President Magic Johnson. It sounds innocent, apparently, he just requested the ability to “chat with one the All-Time greats”. But as we have learned since Magic became the Lakers team president nothing is really that innocent.

The NBA is investigating whether the Lakers made improper contact but what the hell is that really going to lead to? Are they going to fine Johnson? The dudes a billionaire he doesn’t give a shit. I suppose they could fine the Lakers but that’s almost one in the same. No real effect.

Both Simmons and Johnson are 6’9 point guards which is a rare breed in the world of the NBA so it’s almost understandable that they would want to chat. Johnson could provide some insight and pointers to assist Simmons with his game. That would be fine and dandy if Magic wasn’t the goddamn team president of the Lakers. It’s simple as that. This just feels like Magic and the Lakers are once again basically giving a middle finger to the rest of the league and basically stating that they can do whatever the fuck they want.

The Sixers GM Elton Brand has come out and said it’s not a big deal and won’t affect Simmons long term future in Philadelphia. Well, Mr. Brand if you really believe that then you might end up being a bigger disappointment as a GM than you were as a player.

Let me lay this out for you, Simmons your star point guard is repped by LeBron James’ BFF Rich Paul at Klutch Sports, he dates Kardashians, and is constantly in LA during the offseason. And now he wants to meet with Magic Johnson. I thought we would have learned from the recent Anthony Davis debacle. From my estimates, we are about 12-18 months away from Simmons trying to force a trade from Philly to the Lakers.

Here’s the thing, I don’t really give a shit what the Lakers and Magic/LeBron are trying to do. We all knew this was going to be the case when LeBron went to the Lakers. But what makes me angry is the NBA just allowing it to continue to happen and pretending like they actually have tampering rules in the NBA.

You either need to lay down the hammer when stuff like this happens or just come out and say you are not going to enforce it anymore. I’m all for player empowerment and freedom to do what they want but you have to draw the line somewhere.

If I’m Elton Brand I’m losing my shit over this. It’s great that Magic Johnson is one of the all-time greats and wants to take a kid like Simmons under his wing. But he should have thought of that before he became a president of a team.

I would like to see the NBA come down with a hard line on this one way or the other after this season. The NBA has probably done the best job of all the major sports leagues at marketing itself and improving the overall image of the league in the past 5-10 years. All that goes to waste if they don’t fix this issue and find a way to keep stars in smaller markets and create a more competitive league.

The reason people enjoy the NFL so much is because despite the success of the Patriots every year, it feels like anyone has a shot to win the title. In the NBA, it’s more like 7-8 teams that have a shot and realistically only like 3-4  If teams continue this wave of recruiting star players out of the smaller markets than they might as well cut the league in half and play a 40 game schedule. As much good as Commissioner Adam Silver has done for this league, it’s hard to imagine the previous commish David Stern would have let this fly. He knew an extremely top-heavy league was bad for business.

So, while the actions of Magic Johnson and LeBron have left a terrible taste in my mouth about this league lately, it’s not really them who we should be blaming, even if it’s easy to hate LeBron. People in nature, but especially in sports, are going to take every inch possible to gain an advatange. Unless they finally get burnt doing so, nothing will change.

 

 

 

 

Are the Philadelphia 76ers now the team to beat in the East?

It’s been less than a week since the Philadelphia 76ers made some major moves before the trade deadline. The results in their past two games speak for them self, with first an impressive victory over the Denver Nuggets on Feb 8 and then a 143-120 blow-out of the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb 10. It’s a quick turnaround that GM Elton Brand must be pleased about considering he seems to have pushed all his chips into the center of the table in hopes for immediate playoff success for these Sixers. I mean things have been going so well that even Ben Simmons is shooting three’s

With the addition on SF Tobias Harris, the Sixers now boast maybe the strongest starting five outside of Golden State. A group already being dubbed the Phantastic 5. Yeah, that nickname is little lame, but you can’t deny that this lineup is starting to look like a problem that everyone in the Eastern Conference will be dreading come playoff time.

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Via 6abc.com

The real question swirling is whether this combination of talent will truly be enough to lead the Sixers to their first NBA Finals appearance since 2001 when Allen Iverson carried a lackluster team there to face a Shaq and Kobe led Laker team.

Time will tell whether that will come to fruition, but it’s certainly been a great start for these new-look Sixers. Tobias Harris will be less productive than he was on a mediocre Los Angeles Clippers team, but he will provide an ability to stretch the floor and create space for All-Star talents Joel Embiid and Simmons.  On paper, this starting five is the best combination of talent you could hope for. Embiid is the inside presence who is a terrific passer for a big man, Simmons can drive and dish to three capable knock-down shooters, Harris and JJ Reddick being the best of those options. It will even provide more floor space and better opportunities for Jimmy Butler to utilize the pick a roll and find mismatches to expose on any given night.

Simply put, besides Simmons inability to make a shot outside 12 feet, there aren’t many weaknesses that this new-look starting five possesses. And while their bench depth can be questioned, come playoff time when the lineup trims to 7 or 8 players it will be Philadelphia with the upper hand against nearly any other opponent in the East.

The Boston Celtics have been the perennial thorn in the side for this Sixers’ team and have taken both games against them thus far this season. Tuesday, Feb 12 they match up in Philadelphia and it should be the best test yet of how ready this team is to make a run through the Eastern Conference Playoffs. In the past, the Celtics have been able to keep Simmons out of the paint and rendered him useless on the perimeter along with finding unique matchups and double teams to slow down Ebriid. This has often come at the expense of allowing Reddick to have some big games from deep. In the past that hasn’t been an issue. Reddick won’t beat you by himself.  But this new look lineup no longer allows the Celtics or any other team to play that game. You must respect that each and every player on the floor can ignite and burn you for 30+ on any given night.

It will be a massive game for both teams with the Celtics looking on the brink from imploding from the inside with a flurry of comments lately on the internal dysfunction of that team.

Speaking of dysfunction, something the Sixers are no stranger to, I will leave you with this. I believe this Philadelphia team has made all the right moves to cash in this year and earn a spot to face the inevitable challenge of the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. But if this team does not live up to its newfound expectations, then things could quickly get ugly. There is a possibility that after trading away some young talent and assets in the Tobias Harris deal, that he could prefer to sign elsewhere this offseason. Same goes for Butler who is about as unpredictable as a Markell Fultz free throw shot. There’s an alternative universe where both guys leave this offseason and the Sixers go into the 2019-20 season with just Embiid and Simmons as their true stars, with Simmons (another Klutch Sports athlete) just a year away from his own decision about his future.

It’s further reasoning why this move to push all the marbles in on this year was so crucial, but also such a risk. Over the next few months, we will find out whether the “Process” was finally fulfilled or will be viewed as a disaster of epic proportions.

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