This one still stinks – The Olympics at its worst. The U.S. Olympic basketball streak ended, after being unbeaten since the sport was introduced at the 1936 games. Going into this game the U.S. team’s record was 62-0.
In fairness to the Soviet team that allegedly won, it wasn’t their fault that they had played superbly and were within a point of the Americans when the game should have ended. And it wasn’t their fault the Americans played poorly and allowed the Russians to stay in the game. And they didn’t create the chaos that ensued as the game ended, all three times.
Then again, they missed an opportunity to go down in history as among the greatest sportsmen of all time, if they would have exchanged their tainted gold medals for what would have been the most honored and celebrated silver medal accomplishment in the history of the Olympics.
But they didn’t.
OHver-RATED, OHver-RATED, OHver-RATED
OHver-RATED, OHver-RATED, OHver-RATED; throughout the whole game, the 16 year-old junior from Lower Merion High School heard the taunts. When his team’s 77-50 drubbing by the Chester Clippers mercifully ended, many in the standing-room crowd at the Villanova Pavilion might have been convinced that the Chester kids were right. Maybe the young son of former LaSalle and Sixes star Joe Bryant, didn’t quite live up to the hype.
A little more than a year later, on March 23, 1996, Kobe Bryant had the last laugh (the first of many). He led his team to the Pennsylvania AAAA championship with a 48-43 win over Erie Cathedral Prep. A sellout crowd of 8,242 at the old Hersheypark Arena (Where Wilt Chamberlain had scored 100 points in a game 34 years earlier) watched the Lower Merion Aces hold off the stubborn Ramblers from Erie Prep.
Three nights before their championship win, in the semifinal, Lower Merion faced a steep challenge. Bryant and the Aces took on their nemesis, Chester, at the Palestra. The most successful team in the history of Pennsylvania high school basketball, the Clippers had won state titles in 1983, 1989 and 1994; and had gone to the finals on seven other occasions.
For the first three quarters, most of the fans in the Palestra crowd grimaced, as Bryant shot a woeful 8-24 from the field, and committed five turnovers. Keep in mind though, the game is played at both ends of the court, and Kobe has been named as an NBA first team all-defensive player, 12 times. So even though he stunk the joint out on offence, when Chester had the ball, their kids, and everybody else in the building, knew that Mr. Bryant was in the house. And, he was solid at the foul line (15-17). Going into the second half, Lower Merion only trailed by two points.
It went back in forth until the Aces built a five point lead with fewer than two minutes to play. But then Chester came back and forced the game into overtime. For the Clippers it was all for naught. In the extra period, the real Kobe showed up, and Lower Merion cruised to the finals.
Bryant also had a slow start against Erie Prep. They held him scoreless in the first period. But in the second quarter he broke out and put up eight points. Still, Lower Merion trailed 21-15 at the half. Then the Aces took a 26-21 lead after scoring the first 11 points of the second half. The Ramblers made another run and led 41-39, but Lower Merion sealed the deal, outscoring Erie Prep 9-2 in the final minutes.
College or the NBA?
The big story then, was not being played out on the hardwood floor. What sportswriters and talk show hosts were buzzing about, was whether or not Bryant was going to skip college and jump to the NBA. ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon was working for the Washington Post at the time. In a column that he might want to retract, or at least modify, Wilbon quoted Lower Merion’s coach Gregg Downer, who said about Kobe, “I’m confident he could become the next Penny Hardaway, the next Grant Hill, the next Michael Jordan.” Wilbon didn’t like that. He wrote, “I wonder if this guy was selling used cars before he became a coach. Comparing a high school kid to Michael Jordan? Can you be any more irresponsible than that? ”
19 seasons (with 17 All Star Game appearances), 32,617 points (as of November 17, 2015), and five NBA Championship rings later; someone should ask Wilbon if would prefer his crow to be sautéed, baked or grilled on a skewer.
Ohio High School Athletic Association has no problem with Lebron’s $50,000 Hummer
The nation’s top high school basketball player was cleared Monday after a two-week investigation by state officials determined he did not violate amateur bylaws by accepting a Hummer H2 vehicle as a gift. Read more Cincinnatti.com
But taking some jerseys worth $850 gets him ruled ineligible.
High school basketball star LeBron James was ruled ineligible to play for the rest of the season because he accepted free clothes.
The decision today by the Ohio High School Athletic Association comes four days after James, a senior at St. Vincent-St. Mary, was cleared for accepting a $50,000 sport utility vehicle as a gift from his mother.
Last Saturday, James was given two retro sports jerseys from a clothing store. The jerseys, honoring former Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers and former Washington Bullets center Wes Unseld, cost a combined $845. Read more Seattle Times
And that ruling gets reversed.
LeBron James can put his high school jersey back on for at least a few more games.
The 18-year-old basketball superstar was cleared by a judge Wednesday to continue playing after losing his eligibility for accepting two free sports jerseys, valued at $845, from a clothing store.
“It confirms our belief that the he never should have been suspended,” said James’ attorney, Fred Nance.
James still must sit out at least one more game and his eligibility remains in question pending another court hearing Feb. 19. Read more Cleveland.com
So what did we learn from this? Who is to blame? His coach? His School? The Ohio High School Athletic Association? ESPN? The sponsors? Lebron himself?
Who’s to blame? Everyone on this list and a culture that inspires facile rationalizations for athletes. Read more HerbLondon.org
Dwight Howard broke Wilt Chamberlain’s single game record for the most foul shots taken. On January 13, 2012, Howard took 39 foul shots, eclipsing Chamberlains’s mark which had stood since February 22, 1962.
Both Chamberlain’s and Howard’s records reflected no so much their ability to get to the line, but rather their lack of ability to make foul shots. Then again, both the St. Louis Hawks in 1962 and the Golden State Warriors in 2012, had great respect for Chamberlain’s and Howard’s abilities to score when not on the foul line.
Neither the Hack-a-Wilt nor the Hack-a-Dwight strategies proved to be effective on these two record setting nights.
Chanberlain’s Philadelphia Warriors beat the Hawks, 139-121. Wilt made 19 of 34 foul shots. (55.9% vs. a career average of 51.1%). He was also 21-36 from the field that night, for a total of 61 points to go along with his 26 rebounds (an above average performance for the big guy, but other than the number of foul shots it wasn’t all that extraordinary).
The night Howard broke Chamberlain’s record he shot 21-39 from the foul line and went 12-21 from the field for a total of 45 points.Howard also pulled down 23 rebounds as his Orlando Magic topped the Golden State Warriors 117-109.
Howard tied his 39-shot record when he returned to Orlando for the first time in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform. This time he shot 25-39 from the foul line (64.1%) and went 7-13 from the field. The Lakers won the game 106-97.
Above, Ernie Grunfeld, Tennessee Vols All American
The Tennessee Volunteers and the Temple Owls played lowest scoring basketball game since the elimination of the center tip. (Before the 1938 season they had a jump ball after every shot that was made.)
In the final game of the Tennessee Classic, on Decembere 15, 1973, the Vols topped the Owls 11-6.
With 11:44 minutes into the contest with Tennessee leading 7-5, Casey made his move. He placed two of his best players about 28 feet from the goal and positioned them five feet apart. They began dribbling the ball and passing it back and forth with no attempt to throw it to anyone else or attempt to score. Ray Mears, not to be outdone by his rival, instructed his players to go to a 2-3 zone defense and stay there. Read more Bob Cox’s yesteryear.
As Temple futilely tried to get Tennessee out of a zone defense, nothing happened. The Owls held the ball, passing it around for more than 11 1/2 minutes of the first half. Tennessee retaliated by stalling for the first three minutes of the second half. Then the Owls regained possession, trailing by three points – 8-5 – and stalled for 14 more minutes. Read more Philly.com