Zach LaVine Is Not Right

Even though dunk contests don’t matter anymore, Zach LaVine is STILL determined to make everyone else in the NBA look pedestrian when it comes to the fancy lay-up.  A 360 dunk off one leg from the freethrow line is no joke, guys.

Maybe the NBA All-Star weekend should consider raising the hoop for the dunk contest?  Make it a contest to see who can dunk a 13 foot hoop??  Or who can jump the furthest and still dunk a 10-foot hoop?  Let’s turn this into the track & field Olympics for the NBA.

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Jason Richardson Retired

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Jason Richardson put Golden State back on the map in the early 2000’s, waaaaaay before the “Splash Brothers” and waaaaaay before the Warriors finally got rid of those nasty dark blue shiny rec-league jerseys.

J-Rich was the closest thing to Dominique that we’ve scene in a dunk contest in a long time, combing effortless bounce with incredible force and artistry on every dunk.  When he dunked, the ball screamed like a sorority girl on free-lemon-drop shot-night, as it went through the net barely touching the nylon.

He officially retired yesterday from the NBA after 14 seasons, announcing:

Today is a bitter sweet moment for me. I’m officially announcing my retirement from pro basketball. I like to thank the organizations and fans in Charlotte, Phoenix, Orlando, Philly and especially The Bay Area for their loyal support the past 14 years. Walking away was the hardest decision I had to make but choosing my health and spending time with my family is more important to me! God bless!

Richardson won back-to-back dunk contests in 2002 and 2003, with some nasty between the legs, windmill, and reverse windmill action that even had “His Airness” impressed.

Spanning a 14 year career and 5 teams, J-Rich averaged 17.1 ppg, 5 rebs, 2.7 ast, while shooting 37% from three-point range.  Even though he was never an all-star, he was as solid an all-around, both end of the court type player as you would find at the 2-guard or swing position in the NBA.  Congrats on a great career Jason, we’ll miss ya.

 

Darryl Dawkins Returned To His Home Planet

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Plant “Lovetron” has their king back, long-time NBA Center and greatest personality EVER, Darryl Dawkins has passed away at the age of 58.

If you don’t know much about the self-proclaimed basketball alien from “Lovetron”, then let me enlighten you.  The man was a superhero of an athlete that didn’t seem to be completely human, not to mention he ate backboards for breakfast and I assume he crapped lightning bolts lined with crashing thunder.

His human construct was formulated (out of a test-tube no doubt) with the highest grade athleticism, creativity and comedy imaginable.  He roamed the earth like a Marvel comic-book hero with a basketball in one hand, a detached basketball rim in his other and a cape fluttering in the constant breeze displaying his bigger-than-life prowess.

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He was the first man in the NBA to NAME HIS DUNKS.  He was the first man in the NBA to SHATTER a backboard during a game (twice).  He was the first (and only) man in the NBA to be given a nickname by Stevie Wonder

After being chosen with the No. 5 overall selection in the 1975 NBA draft out of high school by the Sixers, Dawkins went on to spend 14 seasons in the league with the 76ers, the New Jersey Nets, the Utah Jazz and the Detroit Pistons.

He averaged 12 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game over the course of his career.  Even though he was never named to an *All-Star team (LOTS of good centers back then), he ranks seventh on the NBA’s all-time field-goal percentage list at 57.2 percent, according to Basketball-Reference.com.

*If there was fan voting back then, he would've made multiple all-star appearances.  As it were, he was competing against multi-year all-stars like Artis Gilmore, Moses Malone, Robert Parish, Bill Laimbeer, Ralph Sampson and Patrick Ewing.   

Dawkins entered the NBA strait out of high school, something that was amazingly uncommon at the time (1975).  I always found it weirdly coincidental that he AND Moses Malone were both players that came strait out of high school to the pros, both played for the 76ers (although not teammates) around the same time during an era when that just didn’t happen AND they both played center.  Malone was drafted to the ABA in 1974, then moved to the NBA in 1976.

  • There’s nothing else to that thought, I just always found it weird and basketball-nerdish I guess.  I’m a basketball geek, get over it.  

As a kid I remember my first introduction to Darryl Dawkins during my many, many hours of watching NBA highlight videos (before youtube) while I played out real game scenarios on my nerf hoop in the basement.  Thanks Mom and Dad for letting me destroy every single wall we had with footprints and body-imprints from my imaginary dunk contests on the plastic suction-cup hoop.  At one point the hoop was attached to a sliding glass door that lead outside, how I didn’t kool-aid man-burst and shatter through that thing breaking every bone in my body while dunking on Patrick Ewing, I’ll NEVER understand.

My favorite video at the time was the Frank Laden and pre-hooker-biting incident-Marv Albert-hosted VHS classic, “Dazzling Dunks and Basketball Bloopers”.  In it’s 1980’s corny-film brilliance somehow they managed to highlight the beauty of not only every dunk contest to date AND the league’s best in-game dunkers, but also bring me to hysterical laughter at the shenanigans of players like Dennis Rodman and personalities like Darryl Dawkins.  I memorized the entire video from beginning to end.  I’m serious:

Intro:

Corny 80’s electronic synthesizer music leads us into Michael Jordan taking off from the freethrow line for a dunk.  Roll opening graphic, “Dazzling Dunks & Basketball Bloopers”.

Fade to:

Marv Albert:  “Welcome to the NBA’s Dazzling Dunks and Basketball Bloopers, I’m Marv Albert.”

Frank Laden:  “And I’m Dick Clark.”

HA!  I mean, who writes this stuff!?!?

Dawkins was the most memorable dunker of the time that wasn’t named Michael Jordan or Dominique Wilkins.  He named his dunks, he spoke in what seemed to be a secret basketball language that no one could quite decipher and he absolutely tore apart backboards.  What else could you possibly want?  How could you NOT love this guy!?!?

RIP Darryl Dawkins, you will be missed.  I hope you’re tearing apart backboards and making people laugh back on the planet Lovetron, you were truly one of the greatest characters ever in professional sports.

And just so you believe me about the Dazzling Dunks & Basketball Bloopers video:

At about minute-25 in the video, you’ll catch a glimpse of Dawkins.

TBP of the Month from TheCoLA: Larry Johnson (February 2015 Edition)

Grand-Ma-Ma is in the building!

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Larry Johnson was an impenetrable, gold-toothed, flower dress-wearing, physical force in the paint for the Charlotte Hornets and New York Knicks in the 90s.  LJ was the whole package,  he had a signature shoe by Converse that introduced React Juice to the world, he had a great alter-ego personality for his shoe commercials known as Grand-Ma-Ma, he had a gold tooth, a million dollar smile, AND he had PROBABLY the greatest post-big-shot celebration: L-J signature sign-off.

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We’ll jump right into ALL of this and more, maybe we’ll even follow the LJ timeline to TGIF Television’s “Family Matters” appearances, but we’ll have to wait and see (that’s called a teaser).

College:

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels:

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I love these old 90s team pictures

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  •  The 1989-90 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels were men among boys in the NCAA men’s basketball landscape.  Lead by Junior College transfer (Odessa College) and future NBA star Larry Johnson, the Runnin’ Rebels of Sin City finished the season at 35-5 while conquering the Laettner lead Blue Devils for the 1990 NCAA championship and college hoops immortality.
  • With an average margin of victory of 18 points per game in the National Tournament, UNLV breezed through without a hick-up (except for a 2 point victory over Ball State in the sweet 16) on it’s way to the school’s first National Championship.  Larry Johnson, Greg Anthony, Anderson Hunt, Stacey Augmon and David Butler were house-hold names, and the squad would look to repeat and solidify a college dynasty the following year in 1990-91.  Unfortunately for them, Duke’s Christian Laettner wasn’t about to let that happen.

Larry Johnson averaged 21.6 ppg, 1.5 bpg, 11 rpg, and shot 64% from the field with 35% from behind the three point line while at UNLV.  He would go on to win the NCAA Player of the Year Award in 1991 as well as the John R. Wooden Award (’91).

Long story short, LJ was the man in college and quickly transitioned that over to the NBA.

NBA:

Johnson was selected 1st overall by the Charlotte Hornets in 1991, by way of UNLV and Coach Jerry Tarkanian (read about Coach Tark).  LJ would become the Rookie of the Year in the NBA in 1992 and be an All-NBA Rookie First Team selection as well, averaging 19 ppg and 11rpg.  He would help lead the Charlotte Hornets out of the dumpster and into relevancy in the Eastern Conference.

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In LJ’s second year in Charlotte, along side future HOFer Alonzo Mourning, the most annoying defender EVER: Mugsy Bogues and the poor man’s MJ: Kendall Gill, the Hornets finished with a 44-38 record taking them to the Eastern Conference playoffs, eventually losing to the John Starks, Patrick Ewing, Anthony Mason (RIP) Knicks in the semi-finals.  Who of course then got rolled by MJ’s Chicago Bulls.

  • But in only two years, LJ had become a PRESENCE on the court and a personality off the court in the NBA.  He inked himself a big shoe deal with converse, which intro’d the BEST post-Chuck Taylor Converse shoe that would EVER be released:

$_35

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This LJ phenomena took the league by storm, he was a great player, a HUGE personality (to go with being a huge physical specimen) with a bright, shiny, gold-toothed smile that sold the purity of hard-nosed basketball.  He was Mike Tyson meets Shawn Kemp meets Charles Barkley meets………..Grand Ma Ma.

He was loud, tough, BIG, and most importantly he brought a love for the game and a passion to compete that the fans LOVED.

When LJ‘s alter-ego (?) Grand Ma Ma took off in popularity, it reached levels outside of JUST basketball and hoops fashion (although the dress and wig never real caught on).  Grand Ma Ma was about to hit prime-time TGIF television, care of “Family Matters” when Steve Urkel needed a 2 on 2 teammate to beat Eddie (too many Urkels on your team, that’s why ya) Winslow in a basketball tournament:

Due to copyright infringement, Warner Bros took down the real episode, apparently Grand Ma Ma playing basketball with Urkel is too important for Warner Bros’ bottom line to be available on youtube.

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Lastly, before we let LJ ride off into the sunset.  We must discuss his signature hand/arm/L.J. sign-language brilliance, that if you saw as a defender it only meant your demise and eventual downfall.

big_lny_greatest_knicks_18The man spelled his name with his arms.  What other player in NBA history has been able to accomplish such a feet!?!?  Did you ever see Vlade Divac or Nikoloz Tskitishvili or even Michael Jordan sign language/quiet a crowd after a HUGE jumper???  NOPE.

Larry Johnson OWNS the post-made shot-sign language-celebration industry.

And just so you Knicks fans have something to smile about, here you go:

We miss ya LJ and we miss your Grand Ma Ma too.