National Basketball Association

Iverson Brings Hip Hop to the Hall

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Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

 

The Basketball Hall of Fame last night announced that Shaquille O’Neal, Yao Ming and Allen Iverson will each be inducted as part of the 2016 hall class. While there are hundreds of all time greats who have been inducted into the hall for the past 57 years, these three stand out as individuals who appealed to groups that had not been represented in any professional sport before. Yao introduced NBA basketball to billions of Chinese citizens and made the game global. Shaq was a dominant big man in the mold of Wilt and Kareem but could run the floor, sell rap records and be marginally funny. Iverson was the one who broke the mold though.

Although Allen Iverson is being inducted into the hall based on his ability to dominate on the basketball court and his jaw dropping statistics, his impact as a cultural icon is what will keep his name in the minds of his fans forever. Iverson was unapologetic when it came to his love for and expression of hip hop culture.

Iverson’s style was his own. He arrived at arenas looking more Method Man than Michael Jordan. The long white tees, baggy jeans, throwback jerseys and durags were something that the casual NBA fan in 1996 was not used to seeing on a budding superstar. The genesis of the Iverson era also coincided with the release of some of hip hop’s most creative/innovative albums  in 1996. All Eyez on Me (2Pac), It Was Written (Nas), The Score (The Fugees), ATLiens (OutKast) and Reasonable Doubt (Jay Z) all dropped in 1996.

While Iverson’s rookie year was an introduction for most to what a professional athlete who loves hip hop culture looks like, he was still on a team that only won 22 games. Also, in the middle of the Michael Jordan era, everything else can seem small. It was not until the second MJ retirement and the development of a winning organization did attention turn to Iverson and his different approach to everything.

By 1999, the Sixers were a playoff team with a credible coach, Larry Brown. At this point, Iverson is on a national stage and stays there for the next ten years. He ultimately becomes league MVP in 2001 and steps over the Cavs coach later that season in the NBA Finals.

However, even though Iverson’s star is rising, his hip hop style becomes an issue for owners and NBA commissioner David Stern. In 2005, the NBA instituted a league wide dress code which basically ruled out everything in Iverson’s closet. The impact Iverson had on NBA style was seen a threat to the brand and profitably of the NBA. Even though his talent and leave it on the floor mentality was selling out arenas around the country.

After 2005, Iverson did not win much as a member of the Nuggets, Pistons, Grizzlies and one final stint with the Sixers. However, his legacy remained intact. Current NBA superstars like Stephen Curry and LeBron James all look to Iverson as a reason to play as hard as you can each game. Iverson’s willingness to express himself make it easy for Melo, KD and Russ to openly express their love for hip hop music and culture. This is something that MJ, Scottie or Chuck could never relate to.

The induction of Allen Iverson into the Basketball Hall of Fame equates to the induction of hip hop into the hall. Cant wait for his speech.

Speaking of Jordan…

 

 

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Greg Monroe agrees to 3-year, $50 million offer from Bucks – SBNation.com

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Greg Monroe agrees to 3-year,  million offer from Bucks - SBNation.com

Power forward Greg Monroe is headed to the Milwaukee Bucks. Not the New York Knicks. Once again, not the New York Knicks.

Greg Monroe agrees to 3-year, $50 million offer from Bucks – SBNation.com.

Mike Krzyzewski: Phil Jackson’s Offense Effective Because of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant | Complex

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Mike Krzyzewski: Phil Jackson's Offense Effective Because of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant | Complex

Scrap the triangle Phil!!!!!! Get a coach who can put Carmelo in a position to be great and make the players around him better… Mike Krzyzewski: Phil Jackson’s Offense Effective Because of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant | Complex.

NBA off season survival guide

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When the NBA Finals end every June there is a void left on my television and in my life. After the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat in six games to capture the NBA championship I was probably more hurt than the Heat. The reality of almost three months without the NBA (maybe more with a lockout) sunk in and so did depression. So what should a die hard NBA fan do to maintain his/her sanity during this offseason?

First, call up that woman who’s calls you have been ignoring and set up a date. She may be crazy, but she’ll remind you of Game 4 of the western conference semifinals when Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum lost their minds when they knew their elimination was inevitable.

Second, head over to the doctor’s office and get rid of that “cold” you caught when you were vacationing in Miami/Cancun/Dominican Republic. The waiting room may remind of the death row scenes in the Green Mile, but it will also remind of Michael Jordan scoring 38 points against the Utah Jazz in the 1997 finals while suffering from flu like symptoms.

Third, invite some friends over to play some video games. This get together may only be happening because every girl you called was “busy” that night, but it will remind you of Kobe Bryant’s video game-esque 81 point game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006.

Fourth, take your kids/nieces/nephews to the circus. The flying trapeze artists and elephant manure should be the shock to your system that helps keeps you awake through these few hard months. The unbelievable ability of the circus performers should also remind you of Vince Carter’s 2000 NBA All Star Weekend Dunk Contest performance. Still to the date it is the most amazing thing I have ever seen produced on a basketball court.

This guide should help you get through those NBA off season blues, until of course the lockout comes.

Blake Griffin is on a mission to take over L.A.

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L.A. Clippers rookie forward Blake Griffin missed the entire 2009-10 NBA season because of a knee injury he suffered during a preseason game. Griffin is fully recovered now and has picked up where he left off at Oklahoma.

Although the Clippers are off to another poor start this season, Griffin has given Clipper Nation hope for the future. Griffin’s signature game came against the New York Knicks last month. Griffin scored 44 points and looked like he was using a trampoline to jump over the Knicks defenders. Of course the Clippers lost, but Griffin’s performance had basketball fans and social networks buzzing for days.

Griffin is averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds this season, and unlike the usual rookie, has performed great against the NBA’s top teams and players. If Griffin continues to make waves in the NBA, and the Clippers find competent individuals to run their organization, he could become the face of L.A. basketball.

Griffin most resembles the Reign Man, Seattle Supersonics forward Shawn Kemp, only with a lot more skill, and a monstrous work ethic. With Eric Gordon as his Gary Payton, great things can happen in Clipper-land.

Bad NBA contract alert

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Mike Conley Jr.

 

The Memphis Grizzlies have signed point guard Mike Conley Jr. to a five year, $45 million dollar contract extension. Although Conley is averaging 15 points, 8 assists and 4 steals per game, his overall performance since being drafted 4th overall in 2007 has been disappointing. Last season Conley averaged 12 points and 5 assists a game. His lack of size and moderate speed make him a liability on defense. Conley is now making top ten point guard money, and may not be good enough to crack the top 20 as the season progresses.

Phoenix Suns swing-man Jared Dudley and Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford also signed contract extensions this week. Dudley signed a five year, $23 million extension and Horford signed a five year $60 million extension. Dudley does a great job of hustling and knocking down threes for the Suns and has worked hard to improve his defense. Horford is one of the best centers in the league. His size and skill help the Atlanta Hawks dominate their eastern conference competition.