Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Who Is The Best Of All Time?

Pop quiz…name the best college basketball recruiting class of all time.

Most people, at least around my neck of the woods, would say the Fab Five. Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson set the college basketball world ablaze when they burst onto the scene in 1991. Together, they led Michigan to NCAA championship game appearances in their freshmen and sophomore years.

Recently though, John Calipari and the University of Kentucky have compiled a class that some say is even better than the Fab Five. The Wildcats have five of the top ten nationally ranked players coming in to Lexington next season. Four of those players are the ranked number one nationally at their respective position.

So which class is best? First you have to define what your measure of success is. If it’s pre-season hype, then the Wildcats of Kentucky have it, hands down. In today’s social media world, we all can see highlights of any high school athletes at any time. We can even watch online or on television when the athlete announces his decision. Before the Fab Five set foot in Ann Arbor, most people had never even heard of most of them. They didn’t even start their first game together until February 7, 1992. Personally, I had only briefly heard of Chris Webber and saw him play once (high school state finals). I had no idea who the rest of them were.

If we are looking at regular season and NCAA tournament record, then the Wolverines have it by far. Granted, the Fab Five played together at Michigan for two years and made it to two NCAA championship games. I’d be shocked if any of the five top ten nationally ranked players that are going to Kentucky will stay past their freshmen years.

So which college basketball recruiting class is the best? Personally, I measure success by performance on the court. With that being said, I’m not voting for either Michigan or Kentucky. My vote goes to the 2004 Florida Gator recruiting class (Corey Brewer, Al Horford, Joakim Noah, and Taurean Green). These four players decided to stay in school instead of leaving early for the NBA. This decision paid off as they are two time NCAA national champions. With today’s “one and done” atmosphere in college basketball, no college recruiting class will ever be able to top that.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Can Phil Help Fix The Pistons? Or Is This...Basketball Impossible?

The Detroit Pistons have a head coaching vacancy. This news comes about every couple of years. Joe Dumars and his staff hire a head coach; he leads them to two miserable seasons, and then is fired. It’s a vicious cycle that has led to the Pistons becoming the laughing stock of professional sports in the state of Michigan. Heck, people get more excited about the Lions nowadays…

New owner Tom Gores is aiming to change all of that. Instead of continuing to give Joe Dumars complete control over the search for a new head coach, Gores has hired 11 time World Champion head coach Phil Jackson as an adviser with the Pistons. Jackson’s main priority will be to assist Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars in his search for a head coach.

This is a fantastic move on Gores part. Dumars has shown that he has a lack of judgment when it comes to head coaches (Michael Curry, John Kuester, and Lawrence Frank for example). Sure, Dumars was the architect of the 2004 World Championship team, but the NBA is a “what have you done for me lately” type of league. All the Pistons have been doing lately is acting as a revolving door for head coaches. Jackson will be able to bring his wisdom and expertise to the Pistons and help put them back on the path to success.

Bringing Phil Jackson on board shows that Gores is fed up with the way things have been with the Pistons. He wants to build a winner in Detroit. To help do that, he’s enlisted the help of one of the greatest winners in NBA history.

Let’s hope the “Zen Master” is up to the task…

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Deja Vu For New York Sports Fans?

History, by definition, is the study of past events. Some people even believe that if we understand the past, we can predict the future.

Time and time again, history has proven that it repeats itself. Fashion trends will come back into style, television show themes will return (Golden Girls were the inspiration for Sex & the City), and even food fad’s will become popular again (McDonald’s brought back the McRib).

Another place where history repeats itself is in sports. Back in 2004, the Boston Red Sox completed a miraculous comeback against their arch rivals, the New York Yankees. Down 3 games to 0 in the American League Championship Series, the Red Sox fought back and won Game 4 in extra innings. They proceeded to win the next 3 games in a row to complete the greatest comeback in sports history. The Red Sox not only won those 4 games in a row to advance to the World Series but they also won all 4 games against the St. Louis Cardinals to become the 2004 World Series Champions. This was their first World Series title in 86 years.

We may now be seeing another improbable comeback between Boston & New York. It’s not on the baseball field though…this time it’s on the hard-court. The #2 seeded New York Knicks held a 3 games to 0 lead against the #7 seeded Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Since then, the Celtics have won 2 straight (including a hard fought overtime win in Game 4…similar to the Red Sox Game 4 extra innings win).

If the Celtics do complete this comeback and eliminate the Knicks, it won’t be as unbelievable as the Red Sox 2004 revival. The Yankees had won (at the time) a record 26 World Series titles. The Knicks haven’t won a World Championship since 1973 or a playoff series in 13 years.

It’ll still be Wicked Awesome for Bostonians though…