Flipping The Switch

LeBron James has had to prove doubters wrong all his life. When he and his teen-aged mom were struggling to find a stable living, James eventually found a safe-haven in Akron, OH at St. Vincent St. Mary’s High School where he eventually became a prodigy and an NBA prospect at the age of 18. When James went to Miami and lost to the Mavs in 2011, no one expected James bounce back and win two championships in a row. When James and the Cavaliers were down 3-1 in last year’s finals versus Golden State, James took it upon himself to lead his team to victory over, arguably, the best regular-season team ever.

It’s funny how Cavs superstar forward, LeBron James, continues to have his legacy questioned by being deemed one of the worst shooters in NBA playoff history. In James’ playoff career, he is only successful on 34.2% of his shots from beyond the arc (FOX Sports).

But just when people try to convince themselves that James has reached his basketball pinnacle and his reign of NBA dominance is coming to its inevitable end, he always proves the critics wrong and showcases another facet of his game validating his extraordinary versatility, undeniable greatness, and bizarre durability.

In these 2017 NBA playoffs,  James is shooting a career-best from three-point range as well as from the field.  As of right now, James is shooting 56.6% from the field and 48.6% from beyond the arc (FOX Sports). James’ unprecedented efficiency correlates greatly with the fact that he is also the second-leading scorer in the playoffs behind “Mr. Triple-Double,” Russell Westbrook (who is obviously not in the playoffs anymore).

Raptor’s all-star point guard Kyle Lowry best summed up LeBron’s greatness when he admitted: “They’ve got LeBron James and nobody’s closing the gap on him. I don’t know when his prime is going to stop. I don’t think it’s going to stop anytime soon. I think he’ll be able to continue what he’s doing for a long time.”

Advertisements

Review: NBA 2K17 MyCareer Game Mode

NBA 2K is one of the most successful basketball video game producers in the world. NBA 2K17 was released in September 2016. One of the game’s most highly-touted features is known as MyCareer.

MyCareer is a game mode where gamers create their own NBA player and experience the life as an NBA player (virtually of course!).

I am here to judge the good, bad, and ugly of the game mode by bullet pointing some first-hand impressions that I’ve experienced in this year’s mode thus far.

Since I consider myself an optimist, I’ll start off with the bad and then end with the good.

The Bad:

  • Glitches- Sometimes when equipping my player with a new jumpshot or dribble move, it fails to do that action which makes me furious. However, the good thing is that 2K developers insert updates, also known as patches, to prevent miniature problems that make a big difference like this one.
  • Patches- NBA 2K17 has been out for a couple months now and there’s already been 6 patches implemented into the game! The staggering amount patches just signifies how flawed the game has been so far. And, just because these patches fix issues doesn’t mean that it makes the game better. In my opinion, the recent patch that 2K developers put into the game made the game a lot slower!
  • Archetypes- Players who are created can be identified only as one of the following: play-makers, shot creators, sharpshooters, defensive specialists, glass cleaners, or athletic finisher. In my opinion, this system is flawed because it only allows players to be good in one particular area which, technically, makes our player a “role player.” Speaking for most 2K players, we want to be multi-skilled and be “superstars” like LeBron James or Damien Lillard.

maxresdefault

The Good:

  • Story Mode- The story that 2K17 brings to the table, compared to last year, is a lot more enjoyable to play. This year’s game mode brought famous actor Michael B. Jordan (known as Justice Young in the game) to form a dynamic duo with my created player. Also a unique feat in the story is a beat reporter follows my player.
  • New Features- In MyCareer, the dynamic duo between Young and my player form, what is called, “Orange Juice.” Orange Juice is activated when both players perform 4 successful plays with each other; the Orange Juice effect then allows the gamer to not only control their player but also Young as well. This feature is very vital to gameplay and prevents it from being repetitive.

nba-2k17-orange-juice-controls

Overall, this game mode has its hiccups but this game mode is phenomenal and I find myself playing it for hours on end at a time.

The Greatest Starting Five of All Time

Many basketball players have come and gone through the NBA. However, few NBA players have come into the league and have left their mark in the record books.

The five players that I will announce are the five best players that are unbeatable due to their natural talents, physicality, and unrelenting will to win.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  1. Allen Iverson/ Point Guard- A.I. is one of the toughest players that has ever played in the league while only standing at 6 feet and only weighing 160 pounds. Despite his under average NBA stature, he managed to  be one of the most prolific scorers to ever touch a basketball; he also single-handedly turned the whole Philadelphia 76ers franchise around.
  2. Kobe Bryant/ Shooting Guard- Bryant also well known as “The Black Mamba” is arguably the best scorer in the modern era of basketball. On January 22, 2006, Bryant posted the second-best scoring performance ever by scoring 81 points while also shooting 60 percent from the field. Oh yeah and Kobe also scored 60 points in his final NBA game against the Jazz as well. Kobe not only was a scorer but a winner; he won 5 NBA titles in his career.
  3. Michael Jordan/ Small Forward- Michael “Air” Jordan is the best player to ever in the NBA hands down. His will to win was second to none. His fierce competitiveness struck fear into all his opponents. His clutch factor was unmatched; in his whole NBA Finals tenure, he never allowed an opposing team to force a game 7.
  4. LeBron James/ Power Forward- Arguably the best small forward to ever play in the NBA. At 6 foot 9 inches, he is a walking freight train with the skills and athleticism which poses a match-up nightmare for opposing players. He also has a resumé that has him destined to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Just recently, he became the youngest player to score 27,000 points.
  5. Kareem Abdul Jabbar/ Center- He is one of the most dominating big men to ever play the game. He revolutionized the game by introducing the sky-hook which is literally unguardable. To prove this claim true, Kareem is the all-time leading scorer in NBA history.

There is my starting five of all-time greats. Post your starting five of all-time greats in the comments and see if you can pose any threat to my lineup.

 

Review: The Undeniable Rise of Dwyane Wade

The Undeniable Rise of D-Wade Documentary

When I first saw this documentary, I was simply blown away! It was so authentic and inspiring; As a basketball player dreaming of one going pro myself, it really gave me a broader perspective of the different journeys that athletes go through in order to obtain their ultimate goal.

My high school English teacher once told me about the “Resiliency Factor.” She defined it as people who are at a disadvantage have more motivation to be successful no matter disproportionate the odds are stacked against them. Dwyane Wade and his story is the epitome of the “Resiliency Factor.”

Dwayne Wade practically built his untouchable legacy out from the south-side of Chicago where dreams are often mere figments of people’s imagination. For the first 8 or 9 years of Wade’s young life he spent time with his mom, Jolinda Wade, and his 3 older sisters. But as Jolinda Wade became entangled in drugs, she knew that Dwayne had to move in with his dad until she got better. When Dwyane moved in with his dad, he learned how to become a man and also was molded into a basketball phenom.

At Richard’s High School, Wade put all the skills he had learned in his father’s backyard to work. Wade’s high school coach, Jack Fitzgerald, said it best, “The best way to describe Dwayne’s game is fearlessness… he was never afraid.”

Wade could never be denied and it showed on the floor. But off the floor, Wade had failed to pass his college entry exam which postponed his playing career at Marquette University. However, with the help of his head coach, Tom Crean, Wade was given that chance a year later and he would not tarnish the opportunity.

At Marquette University, he played with a sense of urgency that was unmatched. Marquette coach Tom Crean reiterates, “He [Wade] was a master of the game. And had a real killer instinct.”

Wade would eventually, go down as one of the best players to ever go to Marquette. And, Wade was not done there. In the 2003 NBA Draft, Wade was selected fifth overall by the Miami Heat. In 2006, Wade did the unthinkable by leading the Heat to a NBA championship over the Dallas Mavs.

Wade has solidified himself as a first ballot Hall of Famer. And throughout his high school, college, and professional campaign, he has defied all the odds through his resiliency and fearlessness.

In the beginning of the documentary Wade stressed, “When I played basketball, I didn’t worry about when the next meal was coming. It was just about me, the basketball and the court.”This quote embodies the passion that Wade as well as many aspiring basketball players, like myself, express about this

d-wade
Wade is No. 2 all-time in scoring and No. 9 all-time in steals at Marquette

beautiful game.

dwyane-wade-sikids
D-Wade averaged 35 PPG, 8 RPG, 4 APG, 3 SPG, and 1 BPG against the Mavs in the 2006 NBA Finals

2016-17 NBA MVP Candidates

The 2016-17 NBA season is finally underway and I am excited to see what teams got better and what teams are just plain trash. But for the sake of this blog post, I want to talk about the five players, thus far, that are destined to hoist up the MVP trophy and earn “regular season” bragging rights in the association. Since the season is still in its premature phase, the list of potential MVP candidates can and will most likely be adjusted later. Let’s just skip to the good stuff and reveal my top 5 candidates (in order):

  1. Kawhi Leonard– Leonard is an absolute stud that has the most even-keeled attitude I have ever witnessed; that’s what I like most about him. This man has truly taken the reigns as leader of a Western-Conference-Finals bound juggernaut. And, right now, he’s a juggernaut himself averaging  28 PPG,  4 RPG, and just about 4 APG. He can do it all and with Greg Poppovich grooming him and the offseason training he did with Kobe Bryant, the sky’s the limit for this “silent but deadly” assassin.
  2. Kevin Durant– As much as I despise the decision that Durant made to leave the Thunder to go to an already overpowered Warriors team, I cannot deny the fact of how multi-faceted, talented, and scary Durant is as a near 7-foot guard-forward. It seems as though he is determined to prove to all the doubters wrong. I was watching the Thunder-Warriors game on TNT Thursday night and KD went off for 39 points and drained 7 three-pointers as the Warriors went on to smack the Thunder 122-96. As I continued to watch the game, Thunder players were trying to talk smack to KD and it only made matters worse. I can recall my friend telling me, “You don’t want to wake up a beast like KD.” If KD can unleash his inner beast and outshine  his teammate and 2016 unanimous MVP Steph Curry, then the MVP trophy is his to lose.
  3. Russell Westbrook– The Thunder is a team that is definitely in a rebuilding phase right now and I’m certain that they will not make the playoffs this year; and the league tends to give the award to the best player on the best/winning team. However, no one can deny greatness and that is exactly what Westbrook personifies. Kobe once said to a reporter that, intensity-wise, Westbrook was the only player that he could compare himself to. In his own words Kobe said, “[Westbrook] plays with a rage that’s not very common.” If Westbrook receives credit from one of the greatest of all time, then that is a testament to how destined he is to win this prestigious award. As of right now, Westbrook is averaging a triple double: 34 PPG, 10 RPG, and 10 APG. The last legend to do that… Oscar “The Big O” Robertson.
  4. Kyrie Irving– We all saw Game 7 of the NBA Finals and how Irving terrorized the Warriors defense. Oh yeah and how he drained a game-defining trey ball in Steph’s eye. Irving also played a critical role in getting Team USA a gold medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Irving is slowly but surely making a case for the best PG in the association as of late and shows no signs of slowing down. After a game [this season] where Irving scored 32 points on the Wizards, LeBron mentioned that Irving “is the best point guard in the league.” This man is a match-up nightmare and with LeBron feeding him knowledge to give him a mental edge over his opponents, Irving is bound to be a big problem. As of right now, Irving is averaging 27 PPG with 4 APG while shooting 47% from the field and 53% from the three-point line.
  5. LeBron James- When has LeBron not been a candidate for this award? I’ll wait…. LeBron has been taking the league by storm since he was 18-years old. And as of late, LeBron is averaging 22 PPG, 9 RPG, and 10 APG. If you want to talk about complete domination, LeBron is the epitome of dominion. LeBron just came off a 2016 championship season where, in the Finals, he led all players in all five categories (PPG, RPG, APG, SPG, and BPG). LeBron has the ability to run away from the MVP trophy just like anyone else on this list. But its his choice if he wants to continue to play a high volume of minutes in order to have a legitimate chance of winning MVP or decrease his playing time to reserve himself for the postseason and go after another NBA championship.

A Night to Remember

In the golden days of 1964, the last Cleveland team was crowned champion. The years after that marked “the drought” that would plague many Cleveland sports fans and teams for years to come which felt like an eternity. During this drought, people thought the city of Cleveland was worthless and the future seemed dark and gloomy. The Browns were (and still are) a complete disgrace; the lackadaisical football team has yet to win a football game this season. The Indians had not been able to reach the peak set by the 1999 Indians team however this year is different; although the ’99 baseball franchise had not been able to bring the ‘ship back to the land, it had one of the best lineups to ever be assembled which brought back some buzz that left Cleveland fans hopeful. As for the Cavaliers, it seemed that all the pieces to the puzzle would be arranged perfectly when the Cavs got LeBron James. But then he left. This catastrophic event was pretty common for the city of Cleveland. However, the Cavs then received Kyrie Irving through the lottery and then, eventually, James found his way back home with the intentions of bringing his city the ultimate reward that it had been longing for for damn near half a century.

Going back to Sunday, June 19, 2016, I have never seen nor been in such an intense and anxious environment. It was one minute and nine seconds left on the clock and the Cavs had the ball. I remember glancing over at my dad and he looked so intense, his bald head glistening from the sweat that seemed to be everlasting, and his eyes zeroed in at the TV screen. I was clutching my little sister tight praying to God that the Cavs had something up their sleeve; to be honest, it felt like this game would go into overtime the way both teams were struggling to shoot efficiently. Irving got the ball then ran a pick-n-roll with JR Smith to get Stephen Curry to guard him and then “the shot heard around the world” took place when Kyrie hit a step-back three-pointer in the face of Curry to put the Cavs up three. When that shot fell and James hit the free throw to put the Cavs up for good, the emotions flooded the whole room and the state of Ohio. I remember my dad and his cousin shedding tears of joy. I was ecstatic and started jumping up and down with my sister secure in my arms. The 52-year drought had been over! Years of anguish and frustration had been released.

Fast forward to Tuesday, October 25, 2016, the Cavs begin their season against the Knicks and they are celebrating their championship win over the Warriors through the ring ceremony. And not only are the Cavs getting their championship rings, but on the same night, the Indians are competing against the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. If anyone told me or any Cleveland fan that the Indians would be playing in the World Series at the same time the Cavs were receiving their championship rings, I would tell that person that they were addicted to an hallucinogen and that day would most likely never come. But here it is. I am glad to be alive to witness this historic night. And, one thing sweeter than one Cleveland team being crowned champions of the world is two! Let’s go Tribe, bring another one to the Land!

Louisville Standout QB Lamar Jackson: The Next Michael Vick?

On September 17th around 4:05 pm, Michael Vick tweeted: “Lamar Jackson 5x better than what I was at V-Tech…. enough said!! #future.” If one of the best dual-threats to ever touch a football says that about the Heisman Trophy candidate Lamar Jackson, then I’m pretty convinced that this guy is the real deal. Jackson has proven through only 3 games in the 2016 season that he is the best player on the field; this is the same attention that Vick received during his breakout season in 1999 (we are going to focus on Vick’s sophomore season in 2000 for relativity of time). Through 3 games of his sophomore season, Jackson has accumulated to pass for 8 touchdowns and run for 10 touchdowns. If he were to stay on this wrecking-pace, he could approximately get 40+ touchdowns in this season alone! This is insane because we aren’t even in the middle of the college football season and we’re already imagining the historical records that could be broken. In Vick’s sophomore season at Virginia Tech (2000), he only passed 8 touchdowns and ran for 8 touchdowns. When looking at the stats of both of these well-respected, highly-touted QBs, people could point out the play-styles are different with VT being a more run-oriented, option-dominated offense similar to modern-day Georgia Tech. And, Louisville being more of a spread, QB-dominated offense. However, stats are stats and Jackson is fixing to having a special season thus far.

When looking at the feats of a prime-time QB, they have to be winners and show that they can make the right reads and adjustments in order to help their team win. In Vick’s first 3 games of the 2000 season, they beat Akron 52-23, East Carolina 45-28, and they beat Rutgers 49-0. Jackson and Louisville have also started off hot beating Charlotte 70-14, Syracuse 62-28, and they defeated Florida State (#2 in the nation) 63-20. Louisville’s offense has posted 195 points total so far and Lamar Jackson has accounted for 60 of those 195 points which is about 31% of the team’s total points this season. Not many offenses can score over 60 points in consecutive games but when you have a dual-threat like Jackson carrying a bulk of the load this statistic is pretty damn realistic.

It’s still pretty early to be comparing Jackson, an amateur athlete who hasn’t stepped on an NFL field, to a quarterback that had the whole package and solidified his legacy and reputation (minus the dog-fighting incident). Vick had carried his talents onto the pro level immediately; and everyone knows that each level of competition is completely different skill-wise. Vick had the cannon of Brett Favre and the legs of Jesse Owens. He had multiple methods of getting his team touchdowns. With Vick’s ability to scamper away from defensive pursuit and extending the offensive play, the majority of the outcomes played in his favor. Vick, practically, was playing chess while his opponents were playing checkers. Will Lamar Jackson be great and pan out to be what Vick foreshadows? Only time will tell.