Cavaliers underdogs again as Warriors go for repeat

admin   •   June 2, 2016   •   2123

May 27, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) scores a basket during the third quarter of game six of the Eastern conference finals of the NBA Playoffs against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick...

May 27, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) scores a basket during the third quarter of game six of the Eastern conference finals of the NBA Playoffs against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick…

LeBron James and Cleveland get a chance for revenge against the Stephen Curry-led Golden State in the NBA Finals starting on Thursday, but the underdog Cavaliers have the misfortune to face a Warriors team seemingly peaking again at the right time.

Had they met while Curry was nursing an injury several weeks ago, the Cavaliers might have started as favorites for the best-of-seven series but instead they will be big betting underdogs against a rejuvenated and largely healthy Warriors line-up.

But at least it will be a fair fight this year.

The Cavs were not quite a one-man team in last year’s championship series, but without two of their “Big Three” in injured forward Kevin Love and guard Kyrie Irving, they did well in some respects to take the series to six games.

With Love and Irving healthy this time around, many basketball fans are salivating at the prospect of a classic series but the history of sport is replete with examples of events that promised much, only to fail to live up to expectations.

But on paper at least it does have the potential to be a compelling series as James, in his sixth consecutive NBA Finals (including four with the Miami Heat) tries to lift the Cavs to their first championship.

And the fact the Cavs are about a 2-1 underdog means nothing to James.

“Not my concern,” he said Tuesday. “I don’t get involved in all of that — underdog, overdog, whatever the case may be. It’s stupidity. We’re better built to start the Finals than we were last year.”

As for the Warriors, their path to the Finals appeared to be straightforward after they won 73 regular season games, an NBA record.

But a right ankle injury forced reigning NBA most valuable player Curry out of the lineup for two games in the first round against Houston, and a right knee sprain in his first game back against the Rockets caused him to miss another four games.

STERNER TEST

Still, the Warriors had enough depth without Curry to account for Houston and then the Portland Trail Blazers, but the Oklahoma City Thunder proved a much sterner test in the Western Conference Finals.

Down 3-1, the Warriors did what great teams do, overcoming adversity to win the last three games and set up what, Thunder fans excepted, most of the basketball world wanted to see.

“This whole playoff run has kind of been a roller coaster ride for me specifically, but also for our team,” Curry said recently. “We never lost confidence, and every game just played with fearlessness and that confidence that we could get back to the Finals, however we had to get it done.

“So it was just a roller coaster from the time I got hurt to coming back and dealing with injuries and what-not, and now we’re four wins away from our goal, and that’s a pretty special accomplishment.”

Curry made a playoff-record 32 three-point shots for a seven-game series and his backcourt partner Thompson hit 30, including a playoff game record of 11 three-pointers.

Emotion poured out of the 28-year-old Curry when he made his final three-point attempt on Monday as the Warriors became just the 10th team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit. The Golden State guard ran over to the first row of the team’s supportive followers, pumping his fist and shouting to the crowd.

“It was just a very cool moment to enjoy that fan noise and understand we were on the brink of doing something very special and coming back from down 3-1, and that was it,” Curry said.

However, none of that will mean much if the Warriors fall to Cleveland.

Games One (Thursday) and Two (Sunday) will be played in Oakland, California, with the next two games shifting to Cleveland (June 8 and 10).

If necessary, Game Five will be back in Oakland on June 13, Game Six in Cleveland on June 16 and Game Seven in Oakland on June 19.

(Editing by Andrew Both/Mark Lamport-Stokes)

Vince Carter retires after NBA record 22-season career

UNTV News   •   June 26, 2020

Atlanta Hawks guard Vince Carter officially announced his retirement from professional basketball on Thursday (June 25) after an NBA record 22-season career during which his high-flying dunks made him one of the game’s top players in his prime.

Carter, widely regarded as one of the greatest dunkers of all time, had previously said the 2019-20 NBA campaign would be his last but had not addressed his playing status since the NBA suspended its season in mid-March due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I am officially done playing basketball professionally,” Carter, 43, told the “Winging It” podcast.

Carter, the first NBA player to feature in four different decades, signed a one-year deal with the Hawks last August.

However, their season is over as they did not qualify for the NBA’s 22-team format for restarting action in late July at Disney World amid the novel coronavirus.

Carter played for eight teams during his career but will be most remembered for his time with the Toronto Raptors, where he put the Canadian city on the basketball map and earned the nickname “Air Canada” for his feats above the rim.

After his first season in Toronto, Carter was named the NBA’s rookie of the year in 1999. He was then named an All-Star for each of the following eight seasons.

In his second season, Carter won the Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend with a dazzling display that further increased his stardom and helped ignite basketball’s popularity in what had otherwise been an ice hockey-mad country.

Carter, who ranks 22nd on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, averaged 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game during a career that also included stops in New Jersey, Orlando, Phoenix, Dallas, Memphis, Sacramento and Atlanta.

He also helped USA Basketball win gold medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 2003 FIBA Americas tournament. (Reuters)

(Production; David Grip)

League approves plan to resume NBA season in July at Disney World

UNTV News   •   June 5, 2020

REUTERS – The National Basketball Association (NBA) Board of Governors have approved a plan to restart the suspended season with a tentative July 31 start at Disney World, Florida amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the league said on Thursday (June 4).

The plan would see 22 of the NBA’s 30 teams play eight games to determine a 16-team playoff field that would follow the traditional post-season format with four best-of-seven series that would crown a champion no later than October 12.

The league said approval from its Board of Governors, which came on the day originally scheduled for the start of the NBA Finals, is the first formal step among the many required to resume the season.

According to ESPN, the vote on the format was 29-1, with the Portland Trail Blazes voting against the proposal.

All games, practices and housing would be at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex which is inside the Orlando resort and has multiple hotels and arenas, and would allow the league to limit outside exposure.

The NBA was the first North American sports league to suspend its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic after one of its players tested positive for the new coronavirus in mid-March.

The 22 returning teams would be comprised of the eight teams from each of the two conferences currently in playoff positions plus the six clubs that are six games or fewer behind the eighth seed in their respective conferences.

If everything goes according to plan, the NBA said the 2020-21 season would begin on Dec. 1.

The league also said it plans to hold its 2020 NBA Draft Lottery to determine the order of the first 14 selections on Aug. 25. Lottery teams would be comprised of the eight clubs that do not participate in the restart and the six that go to Florida but do not qualify for the playoffs.

The actual NBA Draft, typically held in June, is now scheduled for Oct. 15.

(Production: Kurt Michael Hall)

Jordan’s autographed game-worn sneakers from his rookie season sold for record $560,000

UNTV News   •   May 18, 2020

NBA great Michael Jordan’s autographed game-worn sneakers from his rookie season fetched a record $560,000 (463,380 pounds) in an online auction, Sotheby’s said on Sunday (May 17).

The Air Jordan 1s, designed for Jordan in 1985 and the first ever signature sneakers, were expected to sell for between $100,000 and $150,000 in the auction.

Known for selling multimillion-dollar art, Sotheby’s held its first auction dedicated entirely to sneakers last year and had then set a world record of $437,500 for a pair of 1972 Nike running shoes known as the “Moon Shoe.”

“We saw tremendous bidding up until the moment the sale closed, with the value more than doubling in the final hour alone,” said Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s director of eCommerce development.

“That coupled with strong international bidding from six countries on four continents shows not only the incredible appeal of Michael Jordan… but also that sneaker collecting is truly a global and growing market.”

Like most of Jordan’s basketball shoes, they are a mismatched pair in a size 13 (left) and size 13.5 (right).

The auction coincided with the 35th anniversary of the Air Jordan brand and the screening of the 10-part ESPN documentary “The Last Dance” about the Chicago Bulls and Jordan. The final two episodes of the show are set to air later on Sunday.

The shoes were sold by collector Jordan Geller, the founder of the sneaker museum Shoezeum in Las Vegas. (Reuters)

(Production: David Grip)

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