Category Archives: Basketball

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Toronto Raptors Spirit Will Live On Amidst Parade Chaos

TORONTO– It was supposed to be a day of celebration. The Toronto Raptors were coming home to party with their fans, in the franchise’s inaugural championship parade. A historical moment that the Raptors fan base had been waiting for since the organization’s first game in 1995.

The parade featured all of these realities. While lengthy in time, the crowd was energetic and jubilant. Thousands congregated at Nathan Philips Square to be a part of this commemoration that hasn’t happened in Toronto for 26 years. Lifelong Raptors fans, like myself, hugged the street lines of Lakeshore Boulevard or University Avenue. To get a glimpse of the basketball heroes that brought a city and country together.

An unforgettable moment turned dark in a heartbeat. The raucous enthusiasm switched to intense fear and uncertainty. People scattered from Nathan Philips Square to take cover. Sounds of gunshots were heard throughout the crowd.

This was not supposed to happen. Images of violence and horror did not fit the canvas of love and positive spirit that was felt throughout the city. But the show would go on. Amidst the chaos of the tragic events, the first responders acted quickly to diffuse the situation. And the ceremony would continue on as planned. No act of evil was going to interfere with the zestful spirit of celebrating an NBA Championship. That is the Raptors way; a testament to a franchise that has been waiting decades for glory.
From the moment the buzzer sounded in Game 6, signifying the Toronto Raptors were going to be NBA Champions, I knew I wanted to be a part of the championship parade festivities. In my lifetime, I have never seen a major Toronto sports franchise win a championship. Let alone be relevant in their respective leagues. My Dad, whom I watched the Raptors’ 114-110 Game 6 win over the Golden State Warriors with, has seen seven in his life.

The Raptors were once irrelevant and doomed to fail. I was often jeered by my peers for saying I was a Raptors fan. Until they underwent a significant branding transformation. Or when they brought superstar talent, like general manager Masai Ujiri or Kawhi Leonard, to the organization.

The movement reached an all-time high with memorable moments like Kawhi Leonard’s buzzer beater in Game 7 against the Philadelphia 76ers. And exploded when the Raptors complete team effort stymied a Golden State Warriors squad that had won three NBA championships in the last four years.

When Kyle Lowry raised the Larry O’Brien trophy, it was more than just the Raptors winning an NBA Championship. It was the years of heartbreak that Raptors fans had to endure. Canada was becoming a basketball country before our very eyes. And the proof was in the thousands that stormed out to the streets of Toronto, to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime frenzy that many reckoned to be impossible.
Unforgettable Moment Witnessing Toronto Raptors Procession
I got to University Avenue just past nine in the morning. Nathan Philips Square was filled to the brim and many more were lining up on the streets where the parade would pass by. I was lucky enough to get a spot right near the front, to witness the procession proceed through.

It would take four hours before the parade arrived. All throughout the wait, the crowd got to witness the newly-anointed “Plant Guy,” someone with “chips and dip”, and cheer “Let’s Go Raptors” at the top of their lungs. Red and purple smoke blazed the scene when the Raptors championship buses slowly came through to meet the rowdy fans. First, it was Grand Marshal and Raptors superfan Nav Bhatia, waving his white towel. Then, the sound management of Masai Ujiri and rookie head coach Nick Nurse.

It culminated with the players, those who sacrificed their body and mind to put forward an inspiring product of basketball. Kyle Lowry with his Damon Stoudemire jersey holding the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Danny Green conducting a “Let’s Go Raptors” chant. Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet smoking cigars. Drake observing the crowd in disbelief and awe. Kawhi holding up his second NBA Finals MVP. And finishing with Pascal Siakam, spraying the crowd with beer and champagne.

It was a painting out of a fantasy novel. There were those who had recently become fans of basketball. And others like myself, who have followed the Toronto Raptors all throughout the team’s peaks and troughs. A father who brought his young children said it was one of the “greatest moments of his life.”

A scene like this could not get more perfect.
To avoid the commotion of fans trying to watch the rally at Nathan Philips Square, I went inside the nearby Sheraton Hotel. I was gassed and desired to view the commemorative speeches in a calmer atmosphere.

Energy and excitement turned into utter chaos. People stormed through the hotel at a lightning pace. Fear and worry was visible on every single one of their faces.

“Get down,” people were exclaiming.

I was in the hotel’s restaurant and was moved to the backroom exit to take cover. No one had any idea what was going on. The minutes in that room, entrenched with worried individuals, felt like hours. There were tears streaming down people’s faces. Mothers were screaming to make sure their kids were safe. Something terrible had clearly happened.

Updates soon came in on social media. There was a shooting in Nathan Philips Square. The ceremony had been paused. A scene of jubilation became one of tremendous anxiety. Would more violence occur or was this just a one-time incident?

What would subsequently transpire demonstrated proper action in the face of tragedy. With gunfire breaking out, one reaction may have been to suspend the ceremony entirely. Or remove the political dignitaries and Raptors personnel from the stage. But this would ultimately stoke more fear within the crowd that was on the precipice of stampeding out of the square.

Matt Devlin, the Raptors play-by-play announcer and the emcee for the ceremony, displayed tremendous calm in a treacherous situation. He told the crowd to “stay together” and remain calm during this emergency.

“This is about love, it’s about rejoicing,” Devlin told an estimated one million people gathered city hall’s public square. 
The Toronto Raptors Spirit Lives On
The situation was dealt with immediately by first responders. The ceremony marched on. The crowd at Nathan Philips Square returned to its lively exuberance. The players would get the opportunity to thank the fans for their support all throughout this historic run. And Kawhi Leonard would get the last laugh, mimicking the awkward chuckle at his Toronto Raptors introduction that sent social media awry.

A vigorous celebration would unfortunately forever be marred by a senseless act of violence. Four individuals would be sent to hospital with serious, non-life threatening injuries. A day that will change these Raptors fans’ lives forever for all the wrong reasons.

The true heroes were the first responders. As well as those involved in making the decision to keep the ceremony going, quashing the fear of individuals in the area. No violent act was going to prevent the city of Toronto and the country of Canada from showing their love towards the Toronto Raptors. The accomplishment that this team achieved transcended the meaning of sports.

Canada isn’t perfect, neither is Toronto. But communities from coast to coast could escape their present challenges to unite in their spirit and passion for the Toronto Raptors and basketball.

“Man, it was a great experience. Everybody off the court was great,” said Kawhi Leonard during the parade. “The fans, just meeting people in Canada. It’s been fun.”

Everyone present at the parade will never be the same. Toronto showed great resiliency. And the Raptors are now forever etched into the Canadian identity.The post Toronto Raptors Spirit Will Live On Amidst Parade Chaos appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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Fred VanVleet: The Unexpected Playoff Hero

Entering the NBA Playoffs, Fred VanVleet would not have popped into your mind as a player to turn into a postseason hero. For the season, the Toronto Raptors backup point guard averaged only 11 points per game, on 41 percent shooting from the field.

But suddenly, when premier performance was required in big games, VanVleet stepped up. Shots that were hitting the rim were going in from beyond the arc. Off the bench, VanVleet is the catalyst of a supporting cast that has played a pivotal role in getting the Raptors to the franchise’s first NBA Finals.

Even in defeat against the Golden State Warriors in Game 2, VanVleet remains positive. He knows what his team must do in order to steal a game in Oakland.

“You can’t start slow against this team,” said VanVleet after the Raptors 109-104 defeat in Game 2. “We got to be better to start the third and we know that,
and that’s something that we’ll focus on and look at the tape and see how we can be better next game.”
VanVleet Credits Birth of Son for Offensive Resurgence
Fred VanVleet’s personal motto is “Bet on Yourself.” This phrase inspires the point guard whenever he steps out on the court. It got him through college playing for the Wichita State Shockers. And it enabled perseverance when the 25-year-old was undrafted in 2016.

Entering this year’s NBA Playoffs, VanVleet was struggling. In the Philadelphia 76ers series, VanVleet and the entire secondary cast of players could not provide the consistent scoring to support Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry. Averaging only seven points per game in the postseason, something needed to change.

After the Raptors tenacious Game 3 double-overtime victory against the Milwaukee Bucks, Fred heard the news that his long-time girlfriend, Shontai Neal, was giving birth to their son Fred Jr. Rushing back to Illinois, the Raptors backup point guard was able to be with Shontai, cradling baby Fred Jr. in his arms. He was joyous. Overwhelmed with happiness. And ready to get back to playing great basketball.

In Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, VanVleet had a career playoff-high 21 points as the Raptors stole the game on the road in Milwaukee. The finals-clinching Game 6 saw the point guard generate 14 points off the bench. It’s a whole new Fred VanVleet on the court. Gone is the tentative point guard who couldn’t hit shots. The new Fred is setting up the offense, draining shots and playing aggressive defense. Credit the birth of his son for providing this inspiration.

“I’m getting better looks, more open looks, and as you make them, your teammates start to look for you more and more and the game kind of opens up all at once,” stated VanVleet. 
VanVleet Critical for Raptors Defending the Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors have won three of the past four championships. Steph Curry, one of the all-time premier shooters, has been integral in leading the charge from beyond the arc. But one player has been able to effectively stymie Steph. Fred VanVleet.

In the Raptors 118-109 Game 1 victory, VanVleet held Steph to just one field goal when he was defending him. This went on for 33 possessions. VanVleet has displayed the capacity to navigate screens effectively while chasing down Curry whenever he doesn’t have the ball.

“You just got to try to be as physical as you can, slow him down and keep the contest,” says VanVleet on how to defend Curry. “A guy like that, who is a really good shooter against contest, you can’t really give him free looks and let him feel free and easy.”

As the series shifts to the Bay Area, the Raptors have a plethora of areas to work on. Hitting open shots is one. Preventing the open space for ball movement is another. But the scrappy Fred VanVleet is used to performing on the big stage. When he is on the floor for the Raptors, the team is a +76, compared to +39 overall. If the team needs an injection of energy and offense, Fred VanVleet is the player to call. And he will need to deliver if the Raptors have any hope of winning the NBA Championship.

“I’m not too worried about Freddie,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “Freddie’s an ice water-in-his-veins-type-of-guy. He took a mid-major school to the Final Four. He took a mid-major school to 35-0.”

Maybe it’s a sign that Fred should have more kids. So his basketball play can be stellar on a consistent basis.

 The post Fred VanVleet: The Unexpected Playoff Hero appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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Toronto Raptors’ Pascal Siakam Inspired from Father’s Death

Pascal Siakam has waited his whole life for this opportunity. The young rising star for the Toronto Raptors is playing in his first NBA Finals, and rising to the big stage. Siakam put up 32 points and eight rebounds, carrying the Raptors to the franchise’s inaugural victory in the NBA Finals.

Amidst the excitement across Canada, the Raptors forward is playing for a greater purpose. For Siakam, every chance he gets to play basketball is an opportunity he does not take for granted.

“Every night that I go out there, I have a bigger purpose, and I play for something greater than just basketball,” said Siakam after the 118-109 Raptors victory over the Golden State Warriors. 
Siakam Battles Adversity of Father’s Death
Pascal Siakam was born in Cameroon. Youngest of four brothers, Siakam initially did not have an interest in basketball. He was poised to become a priest, cherry-picked from an early age to embrace the Catholic values of his family.

Pascal was particularly close to his Father, Tchamo, who worked at a local transit company. It was Tchamo who encouraged his son to go pursue his dreams of playing basketball in the United States. While playing at New Mexico State, Siakam would receive the unfortunate news of his Father’s passing in a car accident. A numbing reality for a youngster trying to play basketball while adjust to life away from his parents.

“It was definitely one of the toughest moments in my life, not being able
to go home for the funeral,” revealed Siakam.

While a breakable moment for some, Siakam used the death of his Father as motivation to become a perennial basketball star. The desire and drive to get better is what attracted Toronto Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri to draft Pascal with the 27th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.

“Pascal wants to be a versatile player in this league who could do it all. He wants to be a star,” states Ujiri. 
Siakam Has Performed Strongly for Toronto Raptors
The 2018-19 NBA season has demonstrated Pascal Siakam’s transcendent rise in stardom. Not only is he a physical defender, but Siakam is able to utilize his size to attack the basket in the post with ease. For the season, Siakam averaged 16.9 points per game, 6.9 rebounds per game and 3.1 assists with game, on 54.9 percent shooting.

While Kawhi Leonard has claimed the spotlight as the Raptors’ premier superstar, Siakam has epitomized playoff toughness and tenacity. In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, with Kawhi being targeted defensively, Siakam took control offensively, putting up 25 points and 11 rebounds. There was a stretch in Game 1 of the NBA Finals where the Siakam went 15-for-15 from the field. Nick Nurse was quick to praise his big man, who has been consistently improving since last summer.

“He’s worked his tail off,” said Nurse after Game 1. “His work ethic and his mindset just keeps building for him.
The Ceiling is High for Raptors Big Man
Adverse moments shape the makeup of an individual. For Pascal Siakam, it made him a tougher, grounded human being.

In NBA history, the Finals came up North to Canada. While Siakam is grateful for the fan support, his purpose of playing is far greater. There was a day where a young kid from Africa would never have thought to go professional and play in the NBA. With the Toronto Raptors up 1-0 in the NBA Finals, Siakam is focused on being a critical impetus to help his team win. At the same time, honouring his Father’s legacy and the country of Cameroon.

“I have a lot of support from my fellow Cameroonians and just Africa
in general,” says Siakam. “When my Dad died,  it was a turning point in my life, just going through that type of adversity. It definitely made me the
person I am today.”The post Toronto Raptors’ Pascal Siakam Inspired from Father’s Death appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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We (Win) The North: An Ode to the Toronto Raptors and Canada

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Category : Basketball , NBA

It was a sunny Sunday morning. Blue skies, birds chirping. Summer was in the air.

There was an energy felt inside of me as I poured my morning coffee to start the day. I was wearing my bright red Toronto Raptors “We The North” T-shirt. In May. Seems a little exaggerated for this time of year, right?

In reality, this is the new normal. As I turned on the TV to catch the sports highlights, the anchors could not contain their enthusiasm. Shots of Kawhi Leonard dunking, Kyle Lowry draining threes, Drake shoulder rubbing was scrolled across the morning highlight package.

I thought what happened the night before was a dream. But it was the opposite. The Toronto Raptors were the 2018-19 Eastern Conference Champions, advancing to their first NBA Finals in franchise history. The first time that the National Basketball Championship, once considered the culmination of an American cultural obsession, will now occur north of the border.

This is the new normal. This is Toronto sports. It’s real and it is time to embrace the basketball revolution that is about to sweep across Canada.
I was born in February of 1996, halfway through the inaugural season of the Toronto Raptors. In 1993, Toronto businessman John Bitove paid an expansion fee of $125 million USD to establish the 28th NBA franchise. Along with the Vancouver Grizzlies out west, it was NBA Commissioner David Stern’s attempt to open the borders, diversifying the portfolio of basketball franchises.

The first game of the Raptors franchise occurred at SkyDome, the home of the two-time World Series champions Toronto Blue Jays. In front of a small crowd of 33,306, the Raptors defeated the New Jersey Nets by 15 points, led by stellar performances of Alvin Robertson and Damon Stoudemire.

But the initial enthusiasm for a new franchise in Toronto, was met with subsequent uncertainty and doubt. Toronto, and Canada in general, is first and foremost a hockey country. Regardless of their performance, the Toronto Maple Leafs will always be the talk of the city. The hype surrounding the Blue Jays was still high, after winning their second consecutive World Series in 1993. Ask a sample of Torontonians certain basketball terms and phrases, and they wouldn’t know the answer. Toronto residents easily can recollect the household names of Joe Carter and Doug Gilmour but would have to scratch their head to know who Alvin Williams was.

South of the border, the Canadian franchises were ostracized and shunned. While many were wishing Toronto and Vancouver well, the economic prosperity of American markets such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago far outweigh any success of Toronto or Vancouver. The NBA was still enthralled by Michael Jordan and were beginning to embrace the greatness of stars such as Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

With the non-existent basketball culture in Canada, coupled with the NBA’s desire to expand within America, the Vancouver Grizzlies moved to Memphis after six years in existence. The Raptors stayed as the lone Canadian team, about to undergo the long and arduous journey to national consciousness and relevance.
Love Affair Instant with Toronto Raptors
I grew up in a sports family. My Father was a recreational golfer, my Mom was integral in Canadian tennis tournament operations. And my older brother got blessed with athletic genes, specializing in competitive tennis.

I unfortunately have chronic asthma and motor dyspraxia. While exerting physical activity, it causes me to get out of breath instantaneously, coupled with the inability to accomplish the motor skills necessary to play competitive sports. Gym class was difficult, seeing other kids who were more athletic than I am accomplishing drills with ease. But what they did not have that I did was a deep, burning passion and love for the stories and narratives that arise from sports.

On TV, the main subject were big sporting events. Dinner conversations at the table with the family were about various sports issues. Playing video games such as NBA Live or NHL became a routine. It was through this where I got my first initial wave of love for Toronto sports teams, including the Raptors.
I remember rising from my couch to watch Vince Carter’s all-time unforgettable dunk at the Slam Dunk Contest. Little did I know at the time, but it would live on for years to be the biggest moment in the franchise’s history. I would watch Canadian sportscasters such as Tim Micallef and Sid Seixeiro on The Score, Leo Rautins, Chuck Swirsky and Jack Armstrong, make the Raptors entertaining to follow, despite underwhelming results. When I was old enough to read, I was an avid disciple of Toronto Star columnist Doug Smith’s Raptors coverage, who would consistently write thorough, engaging content since the franchise’s inception.

There were dark years for the Toronto Raptors franchise. Moments that were difficult to cover the team, when stars such as Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and Chris Bosh would leave for warmer climates. But the Raptors gave me an avenue to follow and love basketball, despite being unable to play it well. The team provided inspiration, hope and belief that one day, enduring the troubling times would be worth it, when the franchise would become relevant. It only took 23 years of my life to make that happen.
In 2013, the Toronto Raptors underwent a massive branding change. They brought new general manager named Masai Ujiri. They made significant in-season trades to bring the pair of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry together. As social media ramped up its influence on daily society, phrases such as “We The North” and “The Northern Uprising Has Begun” became mainstream vernacular for basketball fans. The Air Canada Centre, now ScotiaBank Arena, started to fill seats for basketball games. And the Raptors formed Jurassic Park, a mosh pit of enthusiasm and energy for fans outside the arena to watch the games on the big screen. Drake became the team’s global ambassador and Nav Bhatia was an overnight superfan sensation. The Raptors were starting to put a dent into the trifecta of the Toronto sports market.

As the Raptors became a consistent playoff team, fans across the country demanded more. They were tired of seeing LeBron James beat their team on a consistent basis in the playoffs. The fanbase yearned for a superstar that could lift this team to new heights. After getting swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers for a second consecutive year, Masai Ujiri had tough decisions to make. He would fire the NBA Coach of the Year Dwane Casey and bring in Nick Nurse. And he would trade DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poetl for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. A superstar, who was considered the best two-way player in the NBA, and a proven playoff performer were coming to Toronto.

Toronto, a city used to sports teams always falling short of expectations, did not know how to react. The regular season was filled with questions and skepticism. Was the “load management” strategy for Kawhi Leonard going to work? Will the experienced Raptor players such as Kyle Lowry, able to galvanize this team and perform in the adverse moments? We were about to find out.
Toronto Raptors Provide Hope and Optimism
2019 has been a difficult year for me personally. My Grandma, full of vigor and spirit, had to be moved from her lifelong residence to a senior’s home for long-term care. My brother was in a serious car accident, which led to a debilitating concussion. And my Dad, who never had any health concerns, would be in hospital with blood clots in his lungs. Instantly, life changed forever.

But through those difficult moments, there was a light at the end of the tunnel that kept me going. It was the Toronto Raptors. A team that every single time, elated my spirits and exceeded my expectations. When they were down 0-1 to the Orlando Magic, the Raptors rattled off four straight wins with dominance. Down 2-1 to the Philadelphia 76ers, Kawhi Leonard would put the team on his back to force a Game 7. Only to convert the only Game 7 buzzer-beater in NBA Playoffs history, sending Toronto into pandemonium.

And then down 0-2 to the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks, it would be a complete team effort that would enable Toronto to win four consecutive games, sending the Raptors to their franchise’s first NBA Finals. All the while this happened, the city and country began to rally behind the Raptors. More people were wearing Raptors apparel and jerseys. People at local establishments and work offices were for once discussing basketball in their daily conversations. And when it became official that the Raptors advanced to the team’s first championship, the city erupted. Cars were honking and stopped to take in the scene that was downtown Toronto. Fans were in constant jubilation to the early hours of the morning.

For once, a major Toronto sports franchise gave a city and a country something to be proud of.
Who knows what the outcome will be in the NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors are on the precipice of their own basketball history, trying to become the dynasty of the 21st century with their fourth championship in five years. But what the Raptors have accomplished this season cannot be ignored or understated.

Canada has its issues. America has never been more politically polarizing. As our society tries to conquer certain challenges, we turn to sports as a platform for escape and unity. For all its problems, Canada and Toronto have shown why multiculturalism and diversity works. The Toronto Raptors fan base comes from all colours and stripes, it doesn’t matter who you are or your socioeconomic status. Canadians who never would think of tuning into basketball and are now beginning to love the sport.

“Look around at the square. I promise you right now, we did this.” said Drake.

The energy is palpable as Canada begins to place basketball on a pedestal with the other popular sports this nation has to offer. The Raptors represents the beauty of the North, as the entire country is united in their fervent support for a team that has transcended the concept of what is possible. Most importantly of all, the Toronto Raptors have solidified the hope, faith and belief that I and so many followers possessed many years ago, that one day, we could revel in the magnitude of an ultimate Canadian basketball moment.

Toronto is a basketball city. Canada is a basketball country. And the revolution is just getting started.The post We (Win) The North: An Ode to the Toronto Raptors and Canada appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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The Golden State Warriors and The Greatest Five-Year Run in NBA History

The Golden State Warriors are in the midst of the greatest five year run in the history of the NBA. They punched their ticket to their fifth consecutive trip to the NBA finals after sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers and they did so in unbelievable fashion. In three of the four games, they trailed by as many as 17 points before coming back to win each of those games. Portland played very good basketball in games two through four but couldn’t keep the Warriors at bay. It’s no wonder live betting lines at 888 Sport New Jersey have had them as heavy favorites in each game this season. They refuse to lose.

The Assembling of a Juggernaut

The Golden State Warriors juggernaut started with the seventh pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. They selected an undersized, sharp shooting, point guard from a mid-major, Stephen Curry. Curry has revolutionized the game with his unlimited range and slick ball handling. Two years later they selected another sharp shooting guard with the eleventh pick, Klay Thompson. Thompson is the perfect compliment to Curry. He doesn’t need to have the ball in his hands to be a lethal scorer. In 2016, Thompson scored 60 points and this quote from Kevin Durant says it all, “I don’t even know what to say, it was crazy because he probably has the ball in his hand for probably not even two minutes in the whole game. He was catching, shooting, cutting.” Thompson only took 11 dribbles in that game. In the 2012 NBA draft, the Golden State Warriors stole Draymond Green in the second round. Green has been their heartbeat ever since and a defensive stalwart. They also have added key bench pieces like Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa, and many others who seem to fit like a glove.

Battling the Cleveland Cavaliers

There are two items that separate the Golden State Warriors from the early 1960s Boston Celtics. The first is the limited competition Boston had to run through, there were only eight teams in the NBA in 1960. The second is the team Golden State had to beat in the NBA finals. LeBron James returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014. Before the return of James, Cleveland selected Andrew Wiggins with the number one overall pick in the NBA draft, and promptly traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love once James returned. This gave Cleveland a potent big three with James, Love, and Kyrie Irving; they were the favorites to win the NBA title going into the 2014-2015 season. Golden State ran into a bit of good luck in the playoffs as Love went down early in the playoffs and Irving fractured his knee cap in game one of the finals. However, Golden State finished the deal and won the NBA title. The following season proved to be the low point in the Warriors run, and that is amazing because the broke the regular season win record with 73 wins. The Cleveland Cavaliers saw historic performances from Lebron James and Kyrie Irving as they led them to the NBA title after falling in a three games to one deficit in the finals.

The Infamous Phone Call

The Golden State Warriors were devastated after losing at home in game seven of the NBA Finals. They were coming off an NBA title in the 2014-2015 season, and won 73 games in the regular season of the 2015-2016 season. After game seven of the NBA Finals in the 2015-2016 season, Draymond Green called Kevin Durant from the parking lot and told him they needed him. Durant was set to be a free agent and had come up short in the Western conference finals that year to these very same Golden State Warriors. Durant obliged and joined. The following two seasons saw Golden State dominate Cleveland and win two more NBA titles. Golden State is such a dominant juggernaut that they are making another team on a historic run, the Cleveland Cavaliers, an afterthought.

Finishing the Run

In order for Golden State to become the greatest dynasty in NBA history, they need to finish the run with another Larry O’Brien trophy this season. There are murmurs that Kevin Durant, a free agent following the season, has one foot out the door already. There are also talks that Klay Thompson, who is also a free agent following the season, might be looking to branch off on his own. The question is, if Golden State wins the NBA Championship this year, will they go down as the greatest dynasty in NBA history?

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EuroLeague Final Four Preview

While the NBA Playoffs have reached the conference finals, the Euroleague is also reaching its climax. The Euroleague Final Four tips off this Friday, May 17. The single-game-elimination matches will begin with Fenerbahce Beko and Anadolu Efes, both based out of Istanbul. That game begins at noon, and should prove to be a good one. The next game tips off directly after the first, in a matchup between Real Madrid and CSKA Moscow. Can Real Madrid defend their title without teen sensation Luka Doncic? Can Anadolu Efes pull off an upset? Let’s take a look.
Fenerbahce Beko vs. Anadolu Efes
These teams had an interesting season series. They faced off five times on the hardwood, with Fenerbahce Beko winning three games to Anadolu Efes’s two. A big reason why Fenerbahce is favoured by basketball betting to win in the Final Four is their dominance in the games that they did take in the regular season. Fenerbahce was plus-35 in their three wins, with their largest victory being by 18 points. Anadolu Efes, on the other hand, was just plus-eight in their two wins.

Familiar names to NBA fans are featured on both teams. Shane Larkin, formerly of the Brooklyn Nets, and former San Antonio Spur James Anderson are both key contributors for Efes, and Fenerbahce has former Los Angeles Lakers point guard, Tyler Ennis, former Denver Nuggets guard, Erick Green, and another former Spur in Joffrey Lauvergne.

The slight edge that Efes does have in this matchup is Fenerbahce’s injury-troubles. Lauvergne and Luigi Datome are out, and Czech big man Jan Vesely is doubtful. If Efes can exploit the absence of those key players, they could be moving on to the Euroleague championship.
CSKA Moscow vs. Real Madrid
This should be an interesting matchup. Real Madrid took the title last year, but that was with budding superstar Luka Doncic at the helm. With Doncic now in America playing in the NBA, it will be interesting to see if Real Madrid can repeat. CSKA Moscow took the season series 2-0, but the games were decided by just five and four points respectively. With the games being played in the Fernando Buesa Arena, Spain, Real Madrid will have the benefit of a home crowd.

Madrid has former Cleveland Cavaliers seven-footer Edy Tavares down low, who’s shooting 79% from the field this season. In addition, Anthony Randolph (12.6 points per game) and Sergio Llull (10.6 points per game) could present problems for Moscow.

CSKA Moscow has been getting hot-shooting from former Toronto Raptors guard, Nando de Colo. The Frenchman has averaged 18 points on 47.1% shooting from deep in the playoffs so far. All-Euroleague First Team performer, Will Clyburn (13.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game), and former Euroleague champion, Cory Higgins (14.8 points per game on 49% shooting from three-point range) are other names to watch for CSKA Moscow in the Final Four.
Looking Ahead to the Euroleague Championship
The winners of the two Euroleague Final Four matchups are to face off on Sunday, May 19, in a winner-takes-all-style game. The winner of Sunday’s game will be crowned the new Euroleague champion, or, in Madrid’s case, the repeat winner. Regardless of the outcome, it should prove to be an exciting weekend for European basketball.

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10 Best Men’s Basketball Shorts 2019: Adult & Youth

Basketball shorts are one of the most versatile forms of clothing in the world.  Basketball shorts are great for a number of activities and are also great for lounging around in.  Basketball shorts are obviously mostly connected to the sport of basketball, but they are also used in a variety of other activities.  They are commonly seen in gyms being worn by people who are working out and by those that are working outside.  They are also worn by people who just want to be comfortable around the house as they work and/or sit.  They’re great in the summertime, too, especially for those that don’t want to show off their white thighs or their chicken legs!  No matter the reason, basketball shorts are a great accessory to have around.  This buying guide will help you determine what you need to look for in a pair of basketball shorts.  There is a lot more than meets the eye, so you have to be careful when selecting which one best fits your needs.  We will then look at the ten basketball shorts of 2019!Top Basketball Shorts Comparison ChartPictureNamePriceWhere to Buy?1. POINT 3 DRYV Baller 3.0 Unisex Dry Hand Zone Basketball Shorts $$$Check Price on Amazon2. Under Armour Men’s Raid Shorts $$$Check Price on Amazon3. Champion Men’s Long Mesh Short $$Check Price on Amazon4. Under Armour Mo’ Money Basketball Shorts $$$Check Price on Amazon5. TopTie Men’s Basketball Shorts $Check Price on Amazon6. Adidas Performance Essential Basketball Shorts $$Check Price on Amazon7. Champion’s Men’s Crossover Basketball Shorts $$Check Price on Amazon8. Adidas Basketball 3G Speed 2.0 Shorts $$Check Price on Amazon9. Boy’s Nike Elite Stripe Short $$$Check Price on Amazon10. Nike HBR Basketball Shorts $$$$Check Price on AmazonBasketball Shorts Buying Guide MaterialsThe materials that are used in basketball shorts can make a world of difference in how you feel and move.  The materials also determine how much, or how little, air flow you receive.  This can be and will be a big deal as some gyms are simply heated differently than others.  We’ve all been to gyms that are super warm, and that is the absolute worst.  It may not help much, but the right pair of shorts can certainly help you stay sane.  It always seems like you make more bad plays when you are too hot.  The opposite could be true, too, though.  You may want a warmer pair of shorts for use in cold gyms.  This isn’t typically a big problem, though, because if you play at anywhere near a high intensity you’ll warm up fairly quickly.  At any rate, let’s look at the materials and see how they make you feel.CottonCotton is a popular option in just about any all clothing in the world.  Cotton has its advantages and disadvantages, just like anything else you’ll see.  The great thing that cotton is going to offer is going to be its comfort.  It is hard to match cotton in this regard.  They are also quite good for playing in colder environments, such as a gym that hasn’t been heated in quite a while.  However, that also means that they are not going to be very good when the weather turns warm.  Playing outside in cotton is a hugely unsatisfying experience that certainly isn’t encouraged.  It won’t hurt you, but you will feel like you’re going to die.  It’s also no fun in a warm gym full of people.  Cotton absorbs sweat, which is not a good thing.  Its fibers are the opposite or hydrophobic, which means it will gravitate toward sweat, which will eventually weigh you down as you play longer and longer.  As if this wouldn’t make you heavy enough, cotton is already fairly heavy on its own right!  The price of cotton, though, is usually fairly cheap in comparison to other materials, so if this is a consideration, it may be your way to go.PolyesterAnother choice out there is polyester.  This is a very commonly used material that you see in most basketball shorts made today.  It is also very popular in many other forms of sports materials.  Polyester is very good at reducing the amount of moisture.  This means that the shorts will weigh you down much less than a material like cotton would.  They allow your legs to ‘breathe’ this way.  This can make all the difference in a game, whether it’s very serious or just for fun.  It can also mean you feel better doing whatever you are doing.  A lot of companies, such as Adidas for example, will call their polyester fabric by a different name.  This is just done for proprietary reasons, and it does not mean that it’s a different sort of material at all.  Polyester is a little more expensive, as it is a man-made product.  It also will not last quite as long as cotton shorts, but this is due to them not being as thick.Hybrid BlendsSpecial or hybrid blends are also found as materials used to make basketball shorts.  These blends can include any number of materials such as cotton, polyester, and spandex.  It is a combination of these three that Nike uses for its “Dri-Fit line of clothing.  The cotton is essentially included to help you out so you can wash it in the dryer.  Whatever the combination of materials is, the primary goal of the hybrid blends is to almost always to keep moisture away.  As a result, these types of materials are typically higher priced than either polyester or cotton options.  They also have to be examined closely on the tags and instructions so that you can take care of them properly without ruining them!The fourth and final option that we will mention is mesh.  Mesh is an option you can choose because it is a cheaper price point option, like cotton, but it differs because it is more breathable than its cotton counterparts are.  They allow air to flow underneath garments much better than cotton would, but they are still no match for polyester or specially blended materials.  This is because 100% mesh does not wick moisture away.  It simply allows you better air flow.  This is a popular option for basketball because of its low price.Reversible ShortsIt was difficult trying to find a place to include this, so we’ve just put it here by itself.  Reversible shorts are a great option for all sorts of recreational play.  Whether it is a league or for pickup, they can be great because you can easily switch teams.  Reversible shorts are found in all sorts of different materials, but you can usually find them for pretty cheap.  You can even find really good shorts that have moisture-wicking properties that will allow you to reverse them.  If this is something you need, then you don’t have to settle for an inexpensive pair if you don’t want to!The Right FitFinding the right fit for basketball shorts can be very important.  It’s a big deal because you want to look good and feel good as well.  It’ll do you no good to look like a doofus on the court so that your friends, teammates, or rivals will make fun of you.  Yet, it’s also about being a little different.  Some people, like Larry Bird and John Stockton from years gone by, were still great basketball players that saw their greatness transcend whatever dorky look people might have perceived them to have.  Here is a general sizing run down to help you out.Small: 28-30 inchesMedium: 32-35 inchesLarge: 36-38 inchesExtra Large: 40-42 inchesExtra Extra Large: 44-46 inchesIf you find that your size’s waist size doesn’t correspond to the length that you want, you do have an alternative to choose from. Because most basketball shorts have drawstrings for you to tie together, you should easily be able to go up a size or maybe two.  Just don’t overdo it, as you could end up looking like a rodeo clown or trip over yourself.Basketball shorts should fit you well.  They can be a little baggy, but they shouldn’t be so baggy that they are difficult to keep up or look like they would be difficult to keep up.  Also, remember they are shorts.  They are not shants (short pants) or ¾ pants or capris.  Those will also make you the target of jokes and laughs!  Swinging too far away from the short look can also be bad, or get you into trouble if you are playing in a league.  So just know the rules and use common sense in choosing a pair that will suit your needs best!Best Basketball Shorts Reviews 1.  Point 3 DRYV Baller 3.0Point 3 is arguably the best pair of shorts available on the market today.  That’s why it made #1 on our list for this year!  More is said about this pair than any other single pair of shorts online.  Why?  Well, let’s see where I can start!  Firstly, they have a unique offering not available in any other companies shorts, and that is an unusual material built in to the shorts that allows a player to wipe his/her hands off during the game to minimize dirt from wiping shoe soles (to maintain good traction – trust me, I did this all the time during my college ball years!), or to get rid of extra sweat on your palms before you handle the ball.  In addition to that, they are extremely light and have little extras that “up” the game like exposed silicone beading on the inside of the waistband to keep them tight around your waist.  You can see the full line of features HERE.ProsHand drying technology is a unique additionLightweight adds to the overall appealAllows for exceptionally unrestricted movement due to careful design features in the crotch and elsewhereConsPriceyContains pockets which are highly unnecessary for competitive basketball apparel  2.  Under Armour Men’s Raid Shorts Coming in a multitude of colors is a fashionable yet refined look from Under Armour.  The Raid Shorts are great for getting rid of moisture as it has a four way system that allows you to move easier and have your sweat wicked while drying quickly. They are 90% polyester and 10% elastane, which is essentially spandex.  They have a loose fit, yet they are laced with heatgear technology to help you be all around more comfortable.  These have pockets in them, which aren’t always a given with basketball shorts, and they are made from mesh.  They are quite an expensive price, but you get what you pay for … sometimes!ProsDries sweat quicklyVery comfortableMore features than can be mentioned!ConsPrice is quite highNo built-in liner for those wanting that  3.  Champion Men’s Long Mesh Short Also coming in a variety of colors, though not as limitless as the #1 option, is the Champion option here at #2.  These shorts, as the title indicates, are mesh. But they aren’t 100% mesh like you would assume.  After some investigation, it is apparent that they are only mesh on the very outside to give it the bubble-like look and texture. On the inside, it is 100% polyester, which will breathe much better than the mesh would have allowed you to.  These also have pockets as well as a drawcord that you can adjust on the fly, and they come at a very low price, which has made them quite popular.ProsVery good priceMesh gives it that look and feel that reminds you of basketball as a kidVery comfortableConsThe pockets are very deep, which means whatever is in there will move around a lotDepending on the color, these can be see through- not a great thing to encounter  4.  Under Armour Mo’ Money Basketball Shorts Not sure who or what determines the name, but the Mo’ Money shorts moniker actually makes a little bit of sense as they are in the moderate to high price range, depending on the size and color.  These shorts have quite a few options of colors to choose from, each with a two-tone design with the Under Armour symbol on the left side of the shorts.  They are 100% polyester, but they have mesh pockets as well as mesh paneling to help increase ventilation.  The waistband is elastic, and it also has a drawcord.ProsGreat comfortWay more breathable than mostVery cool looksConsHigher price than a lot of store pairs of shortsSizing appears to run a little small  5.  TopTie Men’s Basketball Shorts these are your more traditional basketball shorts that we all know and love.  These shorts have no pockets because they are designed for actual in-game play only.  So, this would be great for a recreational league of some sort, but not as much if you are looking for versatility.  They are 100% polyester, which is becoming the norm in basketball as it is breathable and comfortable to wear.  They only offer two colors, but the contrasting colors look great.  The price is also exceptionally inexpensive, so it could be a very good option for bulk buying.ProsVery low priceTraditional basketball look and feelColors look great paired togetherConsNo pockets if you need themHas an inner lining that some people do not like  6.  Adidas Performance Essential Basketball Shorts Coming in around ten different color options and a moderate price level are the “Essential” basketball shorts from Adidas.  These shorts look great with Adidas’ classic three striped look, and most of them aren’t just white.  So you can match them to school colors if desired.  They are made of 100% polyester, have a drawstring to help you adjust if needed, and they are very comfortable and breathable.  They also have two full pockets for those that needed them!ProsHas pocketsMore of a versatile short than just basketballGreat designs from AdidasConsCan be see throughThey can run a little small and/or short  7.  Champion’s Men’s Crossover Basketball Shorts This offering by Champion has just seven colors to choose from and is in also in the very low price range.  These shorts, like most basketball shorts, are 100% polyester all the way around, so these do not have the look that the mesh ones had earlier.  Like the earlier Champion model, these have an elastic waistband with a draw string and they have pockets for storage.ProsHas pocketsGreat for people that have a hard time finding a good fitVery good priceConsPockets seem to be open at the bottomCan run small if you’re on the edges of the sizing chart  8.  Adidas Basketball 3G Speed 2.0 Shorts The Adidas 3G Speed shorts are built for speed and have a number of designs that look great with the three stripes look.  The front of the shorts have pockets that have zippers to help keep your stuff inside.  They are small pockets, but at least you won’t be losing things.  Unlike most of the other pairs on the list, this pair is not made from polyester.  Instead, it is made from nylon.  These are a decent option for the low to moderate price range.ProsDecent priceZippers to help keep things in placeNylon makes these weigh lessConsAppears to run too large, even for basketball shortsThe latest iPhone will not fit in the pockets  9.  Boy’s Nike Elite Stripe Short Here is a pair of shorts that are great for the younger players. These Nike’s are truly meant to make you feel elite because they look exactly like what some high schools and colleges would be wearing.  They are 100% Dri-Fit polyester with some mesh to help breathability, they have the inner drawcord as per usual, and they have many colors to choose from.  The prices can get to be a little high, but they are Nikes!ProsDri-Fit keeps you dry on the hottest of daysLooks like your traditional basketball shortsGreat for kids/smaller teensConsPrice can be highNot for adults or bigger kids  10.  Nike HBR Basketball Shorts Made from Dri-Fit and polyester with quite a few colors and designs is a moderate to high-ranging (in price) pair of shorts from Nike.  The HBR is very comfortable and will keep you dry, and they also have pockets despite looking like an on-court only type of short.  They have a drawstring in case you have any issues with fit as well.ProsComfortableKeep you dryHas pockets despite their great looksConsRun a little smallWaistband can be too tight  Point 3 Shorts = Genius?Additional Background InformationThe history of basketball shorts goes back a long way.  It was first created by a man named James Naismith for a Physical Education class.  Little did he know that the game would catch on and be a world phenomenon one day.  When it first began, it was a sport played much different than it is now.  This was also the case with the clothing.  Basketball is unique as the shirts are almost always sleeveless.  This no doubt made many of us smaller guys and girls a little bit intimidated.  Also included in the uniform are the shorts.For a long time, basketball shorts were always the same.  They were SHORT.  We are talking really short.  Like you can barely get your fingertips to the bottoms of the shorts SHORT.  This was not the trend with just women.  It was the case with full-grown men.  The sight was sometimes unseemly.  The shorts were usually also pretty tight, much like running shorts would be today, but without the comfort of them.  Basketball shorts were just traditionally short.That all began to change in the 1980s as players looked to be more stylish and more comfortable.  This carried over to just about all players of the game, and it’s presently difficult to find anyone that doesn’t wear long and baggy shorts.  These shorts are great because they allow much more air in and they are more comfortable and will chafe less than shorter shorts. There are occasionally players that buck the trend, however.  Larry Bird and John Stockton are two of the proponents of the classic look.  Michael Jordan, on the other hand, is seen as one of the innovators of the long shorts style.  But many argue over who started the trend.There is a debate over whether this whole thing is simply down to fashion or not.  Many people simply believe it is due to the fact that the “cool kids” don’t want to be seen wearing “old white guy shorts.”  But honestly, there is a functionality to basketball shorts that shouldn’t be overlooked.  We’ll discuss that further in the “materials” section.This is all said to let you know that there are a lot of different things that can be labeled as basketball shorts that are out there on the market.  So, you can see shorter ones out there.  And you might want to consider that if you want to have a different style or don’t like the feel of long shorts!  Don’t go around sagging when you simply don’t have to do so.  Get a pair of shorts that are longer and that cover more of your body, so that you don’t have to be a distraction or embarrassment on the court. The post 10 Best Men’s Basketball Shorts 2019: Adult & Youth appeared first on Sport Consumer.