NBA First Week Insights & Surprises

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The Cover 4.com presents you with NBA First Week Insights & Surprises! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter at @thecover4 or facebook at theCo VerFour

Aaaannnndddd they’re off! The 2013-14 NBA season has officially tipped off, which means it’s time to see which teams actually took advantage of its resources and built a team worthy of the right to hoist that beautiful championship banner on opening day next year. And my, oh my has this been a start few saw coming.

  1. Michael Carter-Williams is out here letting people know that he’s not to be taken lightly. I loved this kid’s game at Syracuse last year, but was afraid that his tall, lanky frame would not be properly utilized and possibly start warming the bench like Shaun Livingston. However, MCW has shown that his skills are transferable by nearly posting a remarkable quadruple-double against the defending champs (22 points, 12 assists, 7 rebounds, 9 steals, 1 turnover). Do not let the baby face fool you; this guy is the real deal like Holyfield. MCW is only the second rookie in NBA history to be awarded conference Player of the Week honors in the first week of the season (Shaq is the other). The only question is, will MCW have a Jeremy Lin effect and plateau before his prime? Or will he become a first-ballot Hall of Famer? Hmmmm…
  2. Russell Westbrook has found his way back into the lineup a month after surgery. Personally, as a man who has been through MANY knee surgeries in my playing career, I don’t think it’s a good look for Westbrook to return so soon. I love Westbrook, and I want to see him play at his highest level. But I know that his body and trainers unfortunately have a more impactful influence over him than I do. But for the sake of my 2k team, I pray that he doesn’t make it any worse.
  3. While we’re talking about injuries, D errick Rose is starting off slow. I guess it is to be expected after being MIA for an entire season, but the optimism still has the best of many of us and just know that his 10-game winning streak isn’t too far away.
  4. The Brooklyn Nets…well, I’m not going to say much on them because I didn’t really expect much out of them to start with. They have some of my favorite players from back in the day, however, their prime was also back in the day. I just don’t see it happening for this squad. They offered a lot of hope for the BX, but I guess we’ll just have to see how this pans out.
  5. The Suns have new jerseys! And that may be the reason why even though they are placed in last in the NBA 2k14 power rankings, they are starting off with a splash of hope. Gerald Green has finally found a system that loves him running alongside Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic. Miles Plumlee has been posting double-double averages. I’m not going to lie, I never really thought too highly of biggest brother Plumlee from the jump, but man is he giving me something to watch.
  6. Not a surprise, but the Wizards are poopsauce.
  7. Eg-Zah-Vi-Air Henry is putting on a little coming out show of his own in LA. It’s almost making me think that the Lakers have a shot at making the playoffs. Hahahaha, MAYBE! But one thing I will say, it’s time for the great Steve Nash to join the coaching staff. His game has noticeably slowed down, and he know where near as witty with the ball as he used to be. I don’t know, Tony, this one isn’t looking too good though.
  8. Toronto’s Very Own, Anthony Bennett has still yet to make a basket through four games. I thought No. 1 draft picks are supposed to show up and show out? Cleveland can’t take any more disappointments. Get it together, man!

Yes, I know it’s still early in the game, and there’s a whole lot of season left, but I am anticipating this being a GREAT year for the NBA, pending all these injuries slowing down. So, CHEERS to Mr. Carter-Williams on an amazing start to your NBA career, you have a bright future my friend. And the rest of you guys…get your shit together! PEACE!

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Malcolm Branch
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NBA Greatest Moments:Jordan & the Jazz

Michael_Jordan_Last_Shot_vs_Jazz_Basketball_Wallpaper

Now, I’m a Bulls lover, and a Michael Jordan enthusiast, however whether you share the passion, I’m sure we can all agree that when MJ announced his retirement, we knew basketball wouldn’t be the same. And this final shot proved to really let that thought fester and force us to never forget his legacy on the game.

On this day, the Utah Jazz had the Delta Center PACKED to capacity, and everyone knew the ball would end up in Jordan’s hands to do what he does best in the final seconds of close games ─ win the game. Chicago believed in him and trusted him, and the Bulls’ bench knew this decision was a no-brainer. He was the NBA’s worst-kept secret, however nobody could find a way to contain him. (This is why he is considered G.O.A.T.).

What was special about this play is that no plays needed to be called. All Jordan needed was the ball and some time to do his thing. You would’ve thought the Jazz would have already learned that when the game is on the line, and there’s more pressure on him than the deepest depths of the Pacific Ocean, that’s when His Royal Airness comes out of hibernation.

Michael-Jordan-going-1-on-1-against-Bryon-RussellWith the Bulls behind by three points in the final minute or so of Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, MJ scores on a drive to the basket. In the immediate following play, MJ rips up Karl Malone and brings the ball back downcourt. Now, don’t get me wrong, Bryon Russell is one of the greatest defensive players of ALL time (at least to me he is), but Super Michael made it seem like Russell was taking a lesson from the Gods. With a beautiful pullback (and possible slight push), MJ knocks down the game-winning 20-footer with 5.2 seconds remaining to give the Bulls an 87-86 win to cap off the repeat of the 3-peat!

MJ had done it. Finishing with 45 points, he takes home his sixth MVP award in eight years and leaves us with the most beautiful goodbye letter with this final shot. “Let’s face it, we all hopped on Michael’s back. He just carried us,” Bulls sharpshooter Steve Kerr recalls. “That guy is just ridiculous. He is so good it’s scary.”

Psh…YEA, HE IS!!

“As soon as Russell reached, he gave me a clear lane. I made my initial drive, and he bit on it, and I stopped, pulled up and I had an easy jump shot,” Jordan said. “I had a great look, and it went in. Once it went in I knew from that point on, we’ve been hanging around long enough, it was the game-winning basket, and it was a matter of playing solid defense. Our defense has held us strong all series, we wouldn’t be in this scenario without the defense. All we had to do was play defense for 5.8 seconds, and I knew we could do that.”

Said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, “You can’t afford to give them second chances, with Michael Jordan out there, he was going to make the plays, he was able to do that and you live with that.”

Cheers to the greatest memory of the great Michael Jordan and his final shot…in a Bulls jersey.

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Malcolm Branch
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The Cover 4 Greatest Basketball Moments: Miller Time

Reggie_Miller_vs_New_York_KnicksTHE MOMENT

By most accords, this was the most remarkable game-ending comeback in history to date; but if you ask Knicks diehards like movie director Spike Lee, it was the most gruesome game-ending comeback that no one would even dare to dream.

As most spectators began cheering and preparing to file out of MSG in celebration of the Knicks taking Game 1, Reggie Miller hits a 3-pointer with 16.4 seconds left. Nothing too spectacular about that, I mean, it IS Reggie Miller. The next play, Miller steals the inbound pass and quickly jumps to the 3-point line and knocks down another three! Say, WHAT?! Now the game is tied at 105 with 13.3 seconds remaining. This man just scored 6 points in 3.1 seconds!

“We went numb after his second three. We became totally disoriented. It was like a terrible nightmare that you couldn’t wake up from. I still think about it today. I can laugh about it now. I wasn’t laughing then, that’s for sure,” former Knicks forward Anthony Mason recalls.

The Knicks finally get the ball inbounds to John Starks who is fouled immediately to stop the clock. Starks equals money, right? Apparently, we would ALL lose that bet. Starks misses not one, but BOTH attempts (I’m sure Miller thanked the basketball gods for that one).

We begin to see Miller’s arrogance as he begins taunting Lee, who was sitting in the first-row with the “choke” hand gesture. Miller is starting to feel himself as he knocks down two free-throws to give the Pacers a 2-point lead with 7.5 seconds left. In the final drive of the game, Greg Anthony makes one last attempt to save the day, but embarrassingly falls down en route to the basket. Talk about a comedic ending to a story.

Now, the part that headlines across the country displayed the next day, was the moment that Miller stated the claim that the Pacers will sweep the Knicks after being knocked out by New York in the previous two seasons, then proceeded to run down the locker room tunnel singing “CHOKE ARTISTS! CHOKE ARTISTS!,” an axiom that would be painted across the sports pages of the New York tabloids the following morning.

945598_617177698301076_1747288355_nWhat makes this event so memorable is the steal. One thing we’re always taught in basketball to play the ENTIRE 48 minutes, no matter the circumstance. As Mason tried to find an open man, Miller was locking down Anthony. As Mason came closer to reaching his 5-second inbound limit he panicked after not being able to find an open teammate and forced it to a falling Anthony which allowed Miller to intercept and jump back five feet to 3-point land. “What shocked me was that Reggie had the presence of mind to not take a quick two-point shot and instead took one dribble and got back behind the 3-point line to shoot a three,” Larry Brown, the ex-Pacers coach, would say years later. “That takes an amazing athlete to do that, a guy who literally has ice in his veins, a guy who loves the pressure and is willing to face the consequences if he doesn’t make the shot.”

The consequences of Miller’s shot had a numbing impact on the Knicks franchise for several years thereafter:

1) The Knicks-Pacers series goes seven games, and Indiana winds up winning as Patrick Ewing – again – misses the pivotal shot, this time a driving lay-up that would have tied the game in the waning seconds.

2) Knicks head coach Pat Riley, devastated by the Game 1 and Game 7 defeats to Indiana, resigns. He is replaced by Don Nelson, who doesn’t even last a full season, despite having a multi-year contract. The series of events leaves the Knicks in disarray.

Meanwhile, Miller solidifies his reputation as one of history’s most feared long-range shooters, a fella who launches it from 25-30 feet without a hint of doubt.

CHEERS TO REGGIE!

 

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Thank you for reading The Cover 4! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook & Twitter.

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Malcolm Branch
Sports Activist for The Cover 4
http://www.facebook.com/thecover4
http://www.twitter.com/thecover4

 

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