Black Boy Fly

cam.jpg

By Stefan Anderson

After a 26 year drought between African American quarterbacks not being able to obtain a NFL Championship, the streak was broken as Russell Wilson led the Seattle Seahawks to the Lombardi Trophy in 2013. It ended the speculation and broke in a new generation of QB’s killing the stigma that black quarterbacks could not win it all.

“I’m an African-American quarterback that may scare a lot of people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to”said Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton.

For the fourth season consecutively we have seen an African-American quarterback after Cam Newton dabbed his way to his first Super Bowl appearance. Also Newton is on his way to becoming the second black QB to secure a MVP trophy.

With Newton, Colin Kaepernick and Wilson all spearheading the new generation that denounces the statement that African-Americans can not the lead at the most challenging position in the league but also succeed.  I never once thought that black quarterbacks couldn’t win it all but I pose more a different question. Does it depend more on what kind of personnel the team surround its leader with? Not as playmakers but a team as whole, how can one succeed if the defense cant kept the opposing team off of the the field.

It was shown in the past with players like Steve McNair, Donovan McNabb and even Randall Cunningham, if given the proper team it can surpass the odds.

Before falling short to the “Dirty Bird” Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship, Cunniningham was on his way to ending the old adage but it was talented defense that helped Minnesota reach that point. Minnesota during the season was 6th points allowed; holding opponents to 18.5 points a game.  The 1998 Vikings had the potential to win over the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl especially with their offensive fire power.

McNair, led the Tennessee Titans to Super Bowl to face the greatest show on turf, the St. Louis Rams and was a Kevin Dyson arm short away from defeating the Rams. But if it wasn’t for that 15th ranked defense and the “Music City Miracle”, we may have never seen McNair on that stage.

McNabb in 2004, finally made it to the Super Bowl following man short coming in the NFC championship, were defeated by the New England Patriots.  McNabb had  was the general for the 8th ranked offense but Philly’s ability to hold opposing teams to 16.2 points per game helped  the Eagles overcome the failures to close in NFC championship games.

In the past three years we have seen the same trend as the Seahawks and 49ers had top ranked defenses and Carolina continue with the current 6th ranked defense in the league. As with every great quarterback whether the race, if you don’t the right pieces it will never fit. It has been beautiful to witness these quarterbacks stand on the barriers of their predecessors and hopefully change the outlook for forthcoming quarterback coming into the league.

Advertisements

Ok, Now What

blattbron

By Stefan Anderson

Coming off an impressive win against the Los Angeles Clippers and showing signs of the alpha dog in the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers decided to make a huge change mid-season. After winning 10 of their last 12 games, only losing to the two best teams in the NBA, the Spurs and the Warriors, the axe has come down former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt.

Blatt, had to face the news of his firing on his day off, in what seemed to be the coming for a long time. Monday evening’s 132-98 massacre with Golden State might have been the last stop on the Blatt train but is one that doesn’t seem as farfetched.

From blatant disrespect from the league’s premier star and Cleveland’s prize possession Lebron James, after subbing himself mid-game during a match with Atlanta, calling his own audible on set plays and most recently sitting in Blatt’s chair on the bench, the message was clear that whatever the king says goes.

Although he coached Cleveland to a finals matchup with Golden State even capturing two game with a diminished roster to choose from. To then returning to having the best record in the East sitting 30-11, was still not enough to satisfy King James.

But this is very similar a former star who James’ game emulates after, Magic Johnson.

Johnson grew frustrated with his head coach at the time Paul Westhead during the 1981 season, similar to James, Magic also had his franchise in his palms and ultimately had Westhead removed from his position.

Luckily for the Lakers, there was an assistant by the name of Pat Riley, who stepped in and carried the torch to what we know now as the “Showtime” Lakers. Tyron Lue, will now step in as Cleveland head after five years of being an assistant for Boston, Los Angeles and Cleveland to help restore faith for the Cavs. Lue, as a player was coached by Phil Jackson and is under the coaching tree of former Celtics and current Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, and has the knowledge that can help lead the Cavs to the promise land.

The promise land won’t easy for the Land.

The Cavs have bigger fish to fry. Cleveland although remain on top of the East will have to win against either San Antonio or Golden State to win a championship. With the inconsistency of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love it will be a tough feat. The huge difference between Cleveland and the other top tier teams is depth and bench production.

San Antonio is 1st in bench efficiency; Golden State is 3rd and Cleveland ranks 24th, with the bench only accounting for 28.2 points a game. The Cavs will need the supporting cast step up or find pieces to help bolster their bench. Irving has missed 42 games over the past 3 season and has yet to play a full 82-game season in his short career, Love is currently battling an “undisclosed” injury, Iman Shumpert has only appeared in 19 games and Mo Williams has not played effective minutes in months. Once again, leaving the load on James to carry Cleveland once again.

Lue can be the solution for Cleveland, but their roster has to make some important changes that can that make sense of the 109 million dollar payroll. The overall goal has to be restore the relationships lost with Blatt and make your superstar, Lebron James, job a lot easier.

 

Sunshine In A Dark Place

d'antoni.jpgBy Stefan Anderson

Just over a decade ago, Mike D’Antoni was the head coach of the infamous Run-N-Gun Phoenix Suns in the late 2000’s, that made a lasting imprint on the NBA.Years removed the league, we missed D’Antoni’s offense in the NBA and pondered why such an explosive offense hasn’t been brought on by other teams. Now, the Marshall product has now returned to bench with the league’s worst team the Philadelphia 76ers, bringing a bright spot to the gloomy franchise.

We have seen this time and time, where D’Antoni’s offensive philosophy, that has birthed a new generation of basketball. The system focuses on playing with more space, a faster pace, allowing point guards to push the ball and getting shots early in the shot clock working to get more possessions out of each game.

The system has allowed many guards to flourish over the years. Examples are:

  • Prior to being traded for Carmelo Anthony in 2010-11, Raymond Felton was having his best NBA season. During the 54 games he played with the Knicks, Felton was able to put up 19.0 points per game and average career high 9.0 assists.
  • Can’t forget about that kid named Jeremy Lin, who had New York City in a frenzy under D’Antoni. “Linsanity” also had a great year under D’Antoni averaging 14.6 ppg and 6.2 apg.
  • D’Antpni most successful project thus far would be Steve Nash. Nash would go on to nab two MVP trophies under D’Antoni direction averaging 17.5 and 11.2 during his tenure with D’Antoni.

It’s shown that guards have benefited from D’Antoni success and his new point guard experiment Ish Smith has grown since his arrival. Smith has gone on to average 16.8 ppg and 8.3 apg since D’Antoni arrival. In his second tenure with the Sixers, Smith has gone on to have five game where he accounted for 10 assists or more.

ish.jpg

Not only did Smith improve under D’Antoni but the Sixers as a whole also have grown since December 18th.

Philadelphia prior to D’Antoni:  91.4 ppg on 81 FGA, 41% FGP, 32 % 3PT, and 18.7 apg

Philadelphia after D’Antoni: 99.7 ppg, 84.4 FGA, 45% FGP, 33% 3PT, 23.3 apg and winning 4 games during the 14-game stretch.

With point guard play and high offense being on demand, it doesn’t make sense why the offensive guru wasn’t given a chance prior to. Although Philadelphia is far from contenting again, this experiment it should allow him to find another opportunity elsewhere and possibly help solve the conundrum in City of Brotherly Love.