No Asterisk, The Winners of the NBA’s Orlando Reboot Are Legit

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This past Friday, the NBA released the schedule for its reboot in Orlando.

While it has been a pleasure to discuss upcoming NBA action, a developing argument about the legitimacy of a 2020 NBA Championship has gained popularity over the past few weeks. More specifically, an argument stating a Finals win in the Orlando bubble would not hold the same weight as any other championship.

As with most basketball arguments, the name LeBron James comes to the forefront.

There have been arguments made that if his Lakers win it —due the circumstances surrounding the reboot (COVID & social justice concerns)—the championship should not be viewed in the same light as his other rings.

I am vehemently against that idea, and anyone who wants to debate it can mention me personally, I have time to hear it all.

If you think the accomplishment of winning an NBA championship in the midst of a once in a lifetime pandemic somehow DIMINISHES the value of the win, you are just flat out wrong.

After teams complete their seeding games, they enter a relatively normal-looking playoff period. (based on number of games played)

Even though the optics around the game will differ (no real home games, no fans, etc.), every team will have the same chance to take the Larry O’Brien trophy home as even if play never stopped—However, this is all assuming that there are no hiccups and the reboot plan runs smoothly.

If the NBA’s plan alters course, and changes occur en route to a championship, the door is wide open to discuss a lack of legitimacy.

Until that happens, the last team standing is the rightful champion of the league, as always.

Please feel free to share your opinions on the platforms listed below.

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Flashback Friday: The St. Louis Hawks

The Hawks hold one NBA Championship -won in 1958- and while we associate the Hawks with their current location in Atlanta, Georgia, their time as the crown jewel of professional basketball occurred in America’s gateway to the west, St. Louis, Missouri.

The Hawks’ time in “The Lou” lasted from 1955 to 1968, and in that time frame, they were home to several legends of the game and one of the most questionable trades in NBA history.

The team flourished on the court, but in a fashion that would become familiar to pro sports fans in the area, the Hawks would eventually succumb to poor attendance and relocate to Atlanta.

The First MVP: Bob Petit

The most successful player to take the court for the St. Louis Hawks is easily Hall of Famer Bob Petit.

Bob Petit is one of the pioneers of the NBA, and during his time in the league, averaged an impressive 26.4 points and 16.2 rebounds per game.

Petit was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player twice, once in 1956 and again in 1959. His MVP award in 1956 was the first time the league named an MVP, forever linking St. Louis to one of the top accomplishments basketball players aspire to attain.

Bob Pettit Hawks Legend - Detroitsportsfrenzy.com in 2020 (With images) | Bob  pettit
A battle between two Hall of Famers, Bill Russell and Bob Petit

Bill Russell Trade

In the 1956 NBA Draft, the Hawks held the 2nd overall pick. With the 2nd pick in the draft, the Hawks selected the University of San Francisco standout and immortal basketball legend Bill Russell. However, they traded their selection to the Boston Celtics for Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan.

Short term, the trade worked for the Hawks, The acquisition of two Hall of Fame level talents for one player, and THEN using both players to win a championship against the team you traded with, in most cases is an undisputed win.

However, long term, the Hawks lost out on having a player who would go on to change the game of basketball forever. Bill Russell’s legacy with 11 NBA Championships in a Celtics uniform (3 against the STL Hawks) is untouchable for players in the modern game, and his successes in “Beantown” were the building blocks of the expectation of greatness for Celtics franchise.

The magnitude of the mark Bill Russell left on the game leaves us wondering, what would his legacy look like if he played in St. Louis? Would the team still be there today if the trade never happened?

Unfortunately, we’ll never know, but we can acknowledge the Hawks’ success as they reached the pinnacle of the NBA in 1958.

1958 Champs

The 1958 St. Louis Hawks won the Western Division with a record of 41-31. In the playoffs, they beat the Detroit Pistons in 5 games and then would go on to beat the Celtics in 6, capturing the only NBA championship in Hawks history.

Robert Edward Auctions - The Premiere Sports Auction House

Note: Bill Russell was hobbled with an ankle injury for most of the series.

Overall, the Hawks’ time in St. Louis bred basketball success, and due to the legacy of players such as Bob Petit, it was also impactful in shaping what the league would eventually become in the future.

Hopefully this post left you with a few small tidbits of knowledge and hey, who knows, one day some of this might show up on a trivia question and you never would’ve known if you didn’t check out District of Buckets.

LeBron James, Wizard Killer.

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The most talented player of all time has garnered a bit of ill will during his career and diehard Wizards fans are close to topping the list of true LeBron Haters (Bulls fans are without a doubt #1).

I will forever admire LeBron’s play and appreciate what he does off the court, but I will never forget the repeated heartbreak he has bestowed upon Washington Wizards fans.

Most LeBron haters spawned from the belief that Michael Jordan is the G.O.A.T or general disapproval of his decision to leave Cleveland for Miami. Unlike the others, My Wizards fandom and LeBron related heartbreak are the deep-rooted foundation for the disdain I once held.

LeBron has career averages of 27.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.1 assists against the Wizards. These numbers aren’t too far away from his total career averages, but the utter dominance he displays over the team ripped the hearts out of Wizards fans who once hoped their teams would return to the glory the Bullets had in 1978.

The mid-2000’s Wizards “Big 3” that included Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antwan Jamison were often pummeled by LeBron. The tale as old as time rang the same in the coming years, even after the Wizards went through a full rebuild and built the “House of Guards” consisting of John Wall and Bradley Beal.

The following are my personal top 2 LeBron James Wizard killing moments.

#2. The Damon Jones Game

The 2006 Eastern Conference First Round between the Wizards and Cavs was an absolute dogfight. The series was full of high emotion and clutch moments. After five hard-fought games, the series was 3-2 in favor of Cleveland.

At home in game 6, the Wizards fought aggressively and forced overtime. Late in overtime with the Wizards up 113-112, Gilbert Arenas got fouled, went to the free-throw line, and missed his first free-throw.

Before Arenas took his final shot, LeBron strolled to the line and whispered to Arenas as he prepared to take the shot. After the exchange, Arenas, an All-Star and an 80 percent career free-throw shooter, missed the most important free-throw of the game.

The Cavs secured the rebound, pushed the ball, and LeBron made a crisp pass out of a double team to a wide-open Damon Jones in the corner.

It is important to note that Jones had only just checked into the game, played a total of 14 seconds and attempted one shot the entire night.

Jones nailed the shot with 4.3 seconds remaining, and put the Cavs up 114-113.

After the shot, the Wizards got the ball back, but Caron Butler’s game-winning attempt clanged off the rim and in the blink of an eye, the series was over. Cleveland beats Washington 4-2.

Years later, we would eventually learn what LeBron said to Arenas at the line, and the details of what he said are what make this Wizard killing LeBron moment sting a little bit more.

Gilbert Arenas @no.chill.gil tells instagram what LeBron told him at the free throw line

#1. The turnaround bank shot

One of the best shots in LeBron’s career was also one of the most painful to watch as a Wizards fan.

In 2016, the Wizards season ended during game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semis. Losing to the Celtics was painful, but this LeBron buzzer-beater was a spirit-shattering moment during the most successful season for a men’s professional basketball team in D.C since the Washington Bullets won the NBA Finals back in 1978. (The Washington Mystics won the WNBA title in 2019).

To get to this iconic moment, we have to look at the lead-up to the shot attempt.

First of all, unlike Arenas from the 2006 matchup, John Wall nailed both of his free throws and gave the Wizards a 117-120 lead entering the 4th quarter. Next, Kevin Love inbounded the ball more than 3/4ths the distance of the court to get the ball to LeBron.

After completing the pass, King James would have to get enough separation from Bradley Beal to attempt the shot. Lastly, it took a stroke of luck to bank in cleanly off the backboard to tie the game.

If you’re a Wizards fan, you believe in Murphy’s Law, and everything that could go wrong went wrong that possession, unfortunately, it was enough to tie the game at the end of regulation.

In overtime, the Cavs dominated the period en route to a 140-135 win.

The shot will forever be in the annals of NBA history as one of the best regular-season moments in LeBron’s career.

That shot, like many others, does more than simply displaying the greatness of LeBron James, It also serves as a reminder to hoop fans in the District.

A reminder that the Wizards still have a long way to go before our home team can consistently compete on a championship level.

There are many examples of LeBron imposing his will on the Washington Wizards, and an endless supply of disappointing Wizards late-game moments, but these two were the worst watching in real-time.

Here are a few more Wizard destroying LeBron moments:

A 3-1 Lead & The Return of KD

In 2016 we were given an overload of “The Warriors Blew a 3-1 Lead” jokes after Golden State collapsed after being up 3-1 against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. Now they stand on the other side of a 3-1 lead and need to pull off a monumental comeback in order to preserve their dynasty.

It is important to remember that the Warriors once erased a Western Conference Finals (also in 2016) 3-1 deficit against the Oklahoma City Thunder and ironically the man they need the most to climb back into this series, Kevin Durant who has averaged 40.5 PPG against the Raptors this season.

Durant contesting a Steph Curry layup in the 2016 Western Conference Finals.

The Durant-less Warriors were decimated in game 3 with Klay Thompson also missing from the starting lineup and subsequently suffered another double digit loss after Thompson’s return in game 4.

The way the Warriors have played the last two games has fans surprised by the Warriors shortcomings in this series and for those who can’t deal with the Warriors failure. Where does that bring them? Back to the health of KD.

The Return of the Slim Reaper

Based on reports via The San Francisco Chronicle, Kevin Durant despite ailing from a calf strain will play tonight.

It’s nice to see Kevin Durant back in the lineup, but fans watching the game should take notice of a few things when the Warriors take the floor.

  1. How much time KD is on the court
  2. How well he moves around

Having Durant back is great, but if his time on the court is limited due to his injury it might not be enough to get over the hump in Toronto. The injury plague Golden State is fighting has made overcoming the talent level of the Raptors a daunting task. In order to force a game 6 the Warriors are going to need the best version of Durant that they can get.

Many casual fans forget that the Raptors consistently outplay some of the most talented teams in the NBA and the Warriors with Kevin Durant back could be the biggest test the Raptors have seen all year, if Durant is near his usual self. If Durant is not on the court for an extended period of time or if he is unable play up to his potential due to his injury his presence alone will not be enough to singlehandedly turn the tide in this series.

But….if KD is KD

It does not matter where your allegiance lies in this series. If you love watching a pure bucket you want KD to play well, it’s just too much fun to watch. Durant is debatably the best three-level-scorer in NBA history and one of the best defenders in the league. A productive game from Kevin Durant is a necessity to counteract a dominant Raptors frontcourt and push the series back to The Bay.

If Durant is even close to full health the Raptors are not closing out the series tonight.

Swiss Army Bucket: Pascal Siakam & The Raptors Win Game 1

NBA fans can rejoice knowing that the 2019 Finals should give us a show that we’ve been waiting years for.

The Warriors aren’t strolling to another NBA Title (at least not yet), they’re at least going to have to fight for this one and players like Pascal Siakam are fully equipped to handle the challenge.

Pascal Siakam, the leading candidate for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award strung together one of most complete games he’s ever played in his young career during Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Pascal Siakam drops 32 in game 1

Siakam had 32 Points on 14-17 shooting from the field (2-3 from 3pt range). He also added 8 rebounds and 5 assists in his 40 minutes of play.

The 109-118 win is boosted by the efficiency of the supporting cast of Toronto Raptors, who played most of the game with a lead despite Kawhi Leonard having an off shooting night (5-14 from the field), Steph Curry going off for 34 points of his own and Draymond Green messing around and getting a triple-double.

Matchup Nightmare

Siakam is the type of player that can give a KD-less Warriors team problems at every phase of the game. He has an absolute chopper of a jump shot, he can put the ball on the floor, he can help the offense flow and most importantly HE DEFENDS THE BASKETBALL.

Without Kevin Durant on the floor the Warriors seem to lack someone with the combination of size and athleticism to bother him on defense and also someone who can simultaneously go down and tire him out by delivering buckets on the offensive end of the floor.

Series Implications

I still think the Warriors are going to take this series if Kevin Durant comes back around 100% healthy. This first game can at least give fans the making of what looks to be a quality series, which is a real breath of fresh air in comparison to some of the lopsided finals that NBA fans have seen in the last two years.

Shoutout: Fred VanVleet

In an alternate universe where Drake actually had a jumper he would be Fred VanVleet (Say that name 5 times fast). VanVleet came off the bench in Game 1 with some silky smooth buckets en route to 15 points of his own.

Everyone who wants to see the Warriors go down in this series should be excited for Fred VanVleet to annihilate the Golden State bench and give Steph Curry some solid defensive pressure during his time on the floor.

MVP-etty

If you think you know people that are more petty the OKC Thunder, you are so wrong.

Russell Westbrook, NBA All-Petty 1st team
Photo by NBA Twitter

The series between the Thunder and Blazers is 2-1 in favor of Portland, but the Thunder were out to prove that they are not going down without a fight.

Westbrook/Schröder vs. Lillard

The majority of Oklahoma City Thunder players were caught on camera preforming acts of pettiness on a basketball court Friday night. Leading the petty pack was Russell Westbrook.

Russell Westbrook is a fierce competitor, a former MVP and one of the pettiest players in the league. It is safe to say that Westbrook takes his 1-on-1 matchups seriously and his matchup with Blazers guard Damian Lillard is more than heating up.

The Thunder entered the game down 0-2 in the series and desperately needed a spark at home. Westbrook played the whole game with limitless energy and also found the time to taunt Lillard after every…single…bucket. Westbrook rallied behind the support of the home fans and his personal vendetta towards Lillard en route to a 33-point 11-assist performance in a much needed win for the Thunder.

The pettiness of the Westbrook/Lillard matchup reached a fever pitch during the 3rd quarter when Westbrook hit a TOUGH contested jumper through contact for an and-one.

After the whistle, Westbrook and what seemed like the entire OKC bench proceeded to do his signature .”Rock the Baby” celebration.

Just when it seemed as if this matchup could not get any more chippy and despite the fact that the “Rock the baby” may have fueled a 25-point 3rd quarter from Damian Lillard, backup guard Dennis Schröder decided to throw his hat in the taunting ring.

Schröder took it to the next level when he repeatedly mocked the signature “Dame-Time” celebration late in the game. As a fan of chippy basketball and trash-talk this is exciting to see because of the response that it elicited from Lillard after the game.

Game 4 Prediction

After suffering his first loss in the series and watching Westbrook and Schröder act a fool, I am looking forward to Dame focusing his efforts on the court in order to silence the Thunder faithful in game 4 in order to comfortably travel back to Portland up 3-1.

We all need this series to go 7 games