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Grizz
Beat Writer/Co-GM
Beat Writer/Co-GM
Apr 02, 2024
In General Discussion
When you think about athletes who broke color barriers, a household name that comes to mind is Jackie Robinson, former baseball star of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Not only did he have massive grandeur during his time, but he managed to pave the way for colored athletes to find their place within the sports world.  While his efforts are commendable and paramount, there was somebody similar to Jackson, a pioneer who changed the landscape of football. He was another instance of a colored athlete who had the talent to play, but thanks to his skin color, he was mistreated or overlooked by scouts and fans alike. That man's name was Kenny Washington, a man who went through the ups and down of racism, and became one of the most monumental figures in the history of the sport.  𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲.   ---------------------► 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐑𝐨𝐨𝐭𝐬: Kenneth Stanley Washington was born on August 31st, 1918 in Los Angeles, California, within Lincoln Heights, which was predominantly an Italian neighborhood. The neighborhood was founded by Dr. John Strother Griffin in 1873, an area that took around 2,000 acres of space, being one of the largest communities in Los Angeles.  Before Lincoln Heights became one of the most influential areas in Los Angeles, the majority of residents were of English and Irish descent. Around those days, it wasn't common for African Americans to live in this place, instead, it was Europeans and Mexicans who began to settle down. Thanks to the winemaking of said Europeans, they came here to set up many wine shops, which led to many companies were established. The main one that was organized was the San Antonio Winery, a winemaking company that has stood the test of time, and continues to be a staple of the neighborhood even today. In terms of how it affected the childhood of Kenny Washington, it was an area that condoned ill-treatment of blacks and certain minorities, and this made life difficult for Washington. His mother and father were Marian Lenan (Jamaican) and Edgar Washington (African American), both of whom split when the boy was merely 2 years old, which was something that Washington was deeply saddened about.    Instead, Kenny was raised by his grandmother Susie, uncle Roscoe, and aunt Hazel, and they did their utmost best to raise him well in his childhood. They introduced him to athletics and extracurricular activities from the get go, and he would frequently ride the bike that was given to him.  Thanks to his athleticism and all-roundedness, he was able to succeed in 2 sports at once, and even led Lincoln High School to baseball and football titles. Given this talent and production, it was crystal clear to scouts and pundits that this young man could play in either sport at a high level . This is similar to how Kyler Murray went back and forth on choosing football or baseball, and just like him, he ended up going with the arguably more rewarding sport. During those days, many athletic organizations turned their heads when Washington showed flashes of potential, but the deciding factor was his skin color. Due to being black, Washington wasn't treated the same as his white counterparts despite his talent. However, he would go on to play at the college level, and this is where his story began to take shape.   ☆☆☆ When faced with the decision, Washington initially chose to continue on playing baseball, and he would end up finding a place at UCLA. During his first year, he batted at an average of .454 and .350 for the Bruins in 1937 and 1938, respectively. After 2 years of baseball, he would eventually move onto football, and would play the half-back position for the Bruins. After winning the Douglas Fairbanks trophy for UCLA, and even being ranked as the #1 player in the entire country, the Bruins got additional talent in Jackie Robinson, who had transferred from Pasadena. As we all know, Robinson was a glorious star coming out of his college days, and this pairing of him alongside Washington was dominant, given just how talented they were. Surprisingly, this duo didn't have the chemistry many would have expected, as there were a plethora of differences that set them apart. Firstly, Robinson was someone who couldn't tolerate the poor treatment of people of color, and he had no patience to deal with the racism of the majority. Meanwhile, Washington was somebody who had the patience and was able to cope with it, even though he was despondent and unhappy like Robinson was.  This can be contributed by the experiences each man had, as Robinson had run-ins with the police, including when he was riding his motorcycle before September of 1939. He was even marked and had racial slurs thrown at him, including being called the n-word multiple times. This is why Robinson seemed to be more honest and upfront about the ill-treatment he was subjected to. Fortunately, when it came to football, these 2 were a match made in heaven, and they led the Bruins to a 6-0-4 record in 1939 despite the squad barring a couple of key injuries. They were close to earning a spot in the Rose Bowl, but were 4 yards from getting into the Endzone, which would have won them the game. From the results the team garnered, and how Washington's perception of racism changed after meeting Robinson, we can tell Jackie played a pivotol role in the career of Kenny.  »»---------------------► Heading into the 1940 NFL Draft, many expected Washington to go considerably high given his upside, and even expected him to be picked over standout prospects such as George Cafego, George McAfee, and Bulldog Turner. Not only did he stand at a menacing 6'3" frame, but he had the imposing strength that allowed him to bulldoze through defenses, but in the end, it seemed to make no difference. Once the players left the Schroeder Hotel, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the fans were left in awe once they came to the realization that Washington's name was never called. Despite being recognized as arguably the most talented prospect in the class, not a single team took up the chance to select him. What could have possibly been the reason? You see, up to this point, the NFL's owners enacted a "Gentleman's Agreement" that banned black players from playing in the league. Irregardless of the absurdity of the situation, Washington made a profound career-choice as he would go on to enlist himself into an acting list for a movie. The reason he choose this path was because his father had already starred in more than 50 movies, and he thought he could earn some respectable bucks from it. Given his family's background, he was given the role, and would end up receiving 2.5k to perform in the movie 'While Thousands Cheer".   Even if the movie wasn't anything bad , Washington felt as if his physical prowess needed to be of use, so he decided to join the semi-pro Pacific Coast Professional League, a brand-new league that had just been organized. He would sign with the Hollywood Bears, meaning he would stay near to his hometown, Lincoln Heights. After a successful campaign with the Bears, Washington enlisted in the Army once WW2 came into motion. By this time, Washington had recurring knee problems that were noticeably affecting his body and had raised skepticism from his close friends. Once his knee suffered a great deal, he was sidelined from the army and football, which gave him hell night in and night out. Fortunately, after he recovered, Kenny went back to football, but he seemed to have lost some of his athleticism. Even still, he kept on trudging through the obstacles in the way. In 1944, he signed with the San Francisco Clippers of the AFL, another West Coast league which allowed black players to play, with the NFL as the only exception amongst football leagues. Not only did he reestablish his utmost dominance in the association, but he made headlines in the NFL, and fans even complained about the prohibition set by the team owners. Once he succeeded in this league by winning championships for both Hollywood and San Francisco, he cemented himself as arguably one of the best players outside the NFL. ☆☆☆ After his time playing for the Hollywood Bears, he would eventually join the NFL, in hopes of signing with a team. While almost all the teams refused to give him a chance, the Los Angeles Rams were the only team that were willing to give Washington an opportunity. General Manager Charles Wash publicly said that his team would never bar a single player based on the color of their skin, and was open to giving Kenny a shot. While Washington was granted an opportunity to prove his worth, knee problems raised skepticism from many within the organization. Washington even had a fluid removed from his knee, something that he described as "brutally painful" when it was done by the doctors.  However, he forced himself to play, but at least he had gotten a chance to play in an exhibition game versus a college-level team, where he was limping throughout but made some nice plays. After this debut, he finally had a taste of the NFL competition when they faced the Washington football team, even earning himself a standing ovation when he entered the game. This moment was not only gratifying, but many across the country spectated from every corner.   With his first season behind him, in which he played 6 of the 11 total regular season games, injuries began to wreck the rest of his career in the NFL. In 1947, he had one of the biggest plays ever recorded, as he had a 92-yard touchdown which is remembered even today. Unfortunately, he also re-injured his knee in the same match, and this led fans to worry about his health and his state. Many doubted he could keep on playing with how frequently he would get injured, and this bothered Washington quite a bit. In what was his last season, Washington forced himself through the 1948 campaign and ended up rushing for 301 yards in total, being the last time he would play for any football team ever again. Despite his short-lived career in the NFL, many people respected him for breaking barriers and changing how blacks viewed racism as a roadblock. Instead of being afraid, he inspired people to fight through these obstacles. Nevertheless, he still dealt with many racial-related disputes in the league, as once, Tom Harmon of the Green Bay Packers elbowed him in the jaw brutally, going as far as calling him  "Black B*stard" when he was on the ground. This led Washington to reply fiercely, saying he would knock Harmon's block off, if they went behind the scenes. Even if he was treated poorly, Washington always stood his ground and succeeded by making it this far.   ¤ ¤ ¤ Once he retired in 1948, Washington went on to continue pursuing film and acting, something he used to hold close to his heart. While we won't get into his acting tenure and how he fared in his acting career, we shall cover some things he did post-career. In 1958, after strenuous years of working as an actor, he became a part-time scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers to look for another player to fill in the shoes of former superstar Jackie Robinson. While he didn't do much besides looking at a couple of guys, he enjoyed his time there and did help out with finding certain players. He was able to get outfielder Willie Crawford to sign with LA, despite having a wish to play football. After his tenure as a scout, he went to coach Lincoln High School in 1962, and helped them find success in multiple championships. Around this time, he was usually by himself, but he found happiness in the little moments of life. He was rather on the more conserved side, meaning he never involved himself in politics much at all. This approach to racism wasn't very well-received given how little respect the NFL had sent his way. While he made a significant impact in the league, and paved the way for blacks like him to succeed, the sports world seemed to recognize only Jackie Robinson. This is in no way discrediting Robinson, but this is to shine light on how overlooked Washington is when it comes to this topic.   Fortunately, he was honored on February 13th, 2022 in Los Angeles for his contributions to the game of football, and the anniversary of his signing with the Rams. With this, it's safe to say that Kenny Washington was a fighter during his days, and his impact will never be forgotten as his signing with the Rams will forever be monumental for the 70% of players in our league. While Robinson was a legend in his own right, I cannot overstate how important it is that we give Washington his due flowers. Many will still question this verdict given how little he played in the NFL, but the impact of Kenny Washington goes far beyond his endeavors on the field. Without Washington, black players would have never been allowed to enter the league, subsequently, if his endeavors were never publicized, nobody would have ever recognized him for his deeds.  ■■■
The Story of Kenny Washington content media
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Grizz
Beat Writer/Co-GM
Beat Writer/Co-GM
Feb 25, 2024
In General Discussion
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) has been one of the most recurring injuries in the history of football, and it knows no bounds when it comes to how it can shatter a player's career. Many have fallen victim to its detrimental symptoms, and many players have continued to suffer from it, leading the NFL to implement rule changes intended to keep it at bay. With that said, there are players who have suffered greatly from this brain condition post-career, and they find difficulty in noticing the effects it has on the human body. ___ 𝐈𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐒𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐡 𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐚 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐞, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐡𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐚𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐭. 𝐈 𝐭𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐡𝐢𝐦, '𝐌𝐚𝐧, 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐠𝐨𝐭 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠.'" Welcome to Rock Hill, SC, also known as “Football City”, a place that proudly cherishes its diverse culture and deep-rooted history. Here, you will find many faculties, historic buildings, scenic views, and a community that has prided itself on its ability to produce talented athletes in recent years. Meanwhile, its crime is ranked as one of the highest among cities in SC, ranging in the 34th percentile (Violent Crimes) and the 52nd percentile (Property Crime). Out of Rock Hill came Phillip Adams, a former cornerback who had ball skills, but had a short career sidelined by injuries, and led him to retire early in 2015. ___ Phillip Matthew Adams was born into a family which had a rich-history of producing homegrown talents, and Phillip was no exception, as right from the get go he was engrossed in sports and invested his time in studies. He was always focused on perfecting his grades and polishing his craft, and his teammates and family always said that he overworked himself and had no regard for the state of his body. His brother and sister were always surprised by his work ethic, and said Phillip was always alone, putting in the work. Amongst his siblings, Phillip was the youngest and the most athletically gifted, but his siblings were also talented when it came to athletics. His brother was an All-ACC wrestler, and his sister played volleyball and basketball, but they never reached the pros or had the apt talent to play alongside the best. Fortunately for the Adams family, Phillip would end up making the big leagues, and had some merit to his name despite only playing 6 seasons. During his NFL career, he racked up 108 tackles, 5 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, which is respectable given how many aspiring players fell victim to the vicious crime that ensued in Rock Hill. __ In his college days, Adams was a standout type of player in the MEAC who was tied for the most interceptions as a junior in 2009, which earned him first-team all-conference honors, an award that many players hold dear to heart. In his final year in 2009, a tragedy fell upon his family, as his mother became paralyzed after being involved in a car-accident, which was a miracle when considering how things could have been much worse. This incident taught Adams to value his family more, and it led him to come to a conclusion that he needed to protect them at all costs. "𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐬 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞," 𝐀𝐝𝐚𝐦𝐬 𝐭𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐚 𝐫𝐞𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐧 𝟐𝟎𝟏𝟎, 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐜𝐮𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫'𝐬 𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭. __ During his NFL career, Phillip was known as a player who would bounce from team to team even if his work-ethic and motivation was high. Howbeit, this work-ethic of his became his downfall in the end, and we can support this statement with the plethora of injuries that came early on. In his rookie year with San Francisco, Adams suffered 2 concussions within merely 3 games, and both of these resulted in a compound ankle fracture, which would sideline some players for long periods of time. However, given his drive, Adams insisted that he would keep on playing and would make a significant impact. This stint in San Francisco didn't last though, as he was released and was left out in the cold, where he became a player who consistently moved from team to team. After this unfortunate event, the Patriots signed him, but went as far as to cut him 3 times in a single season due to his injury history and uncanny drive for more production. The next 4 years went by like a breeze, and while he put up some decent stats across the board, he slowly but surely became more and more disinterested in trying to become something special in the league. Once he retired in 2015, he moved right back to Rock Hill to coach younger players in order to inspire the next generation of ballers. While Adams' career was cut short, he was willing to make sacrifices as long as he made an impact. However, what was shocking was the fact that he nearly lost contact with his family completely, and rarely contacted them, even going for months on end without filling them in on how things were going. This went on for the next few years, all the way up to 2019... This is when things took a turn.... On April 7th of 2021, the York County Police Department reportedly were called at 4:46 by a man, saying he had heard several gun shots being fired near his area, and also explained that he'd seen a man under a black hoodie exiting a house nearby. He said he saw the man carrying a weapon, a gun to be precise, and likely had come out of the house after shooting people. While he wasn't identified right away, the man clearly indicated that he had done something terrible, and it was up to the police to find this man and capture him. What they didn't know was the fact that the perpetrator was none other than 𝐏𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐩 𝐀𝐝𝐚𝐦𝐬, former football player who had cut almost all ties and was now a cold murderer. After the police was notified, they sent out a search-team and looked to find the suspect before he could get away. Unfortunately, it was too late for the victims of this shooting, and he went as far as murdering grandparents and grandchildren alike. The victims of this event were the Leslie family: 70 year old Robert Leslie; who practiced medicine and lived with his wife Barbara, along with 2 kids Adah (aged 9) and Noah (aged 5), who were cherished by the community collectively. What followed was a standoff between Phillip and the police at his parents house, where Phillip barricaded himself with his mother who was in shock. Fortunately, he let his mother out of the house after hours of panic, but after this he put a bullet into his head with a .45 caliber. The fact that makes it all the more chilling is the fact that Phillip had never committed crimes before this incident, and he didn't seem to have any kind of connection to Leslie either. While we know CTE has some side-effects that can change one's state of mind and psyche, it makes little to no sense how it led him to murder a family brutally without any trace of connection between them. This may not occur all the time, but there have been a plethora of incidents where CTE has caused players to do things nobody would have expected them to do. More than ever do we need to focus on the dangers of this problem, and even if it may be difficult, scientists need to find ways to identify this condition, even if it usually is identified after retirement. This story also teaches us not to overwork ourselves, no matter the sport, as it can lead to severe conditions and put an end to players' careers. Thanks for reading.
CTE Kills. content media
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Grizz
Beat Writer/Co-GM
Beat Writer/Co-GM
Feb 22, 2024
In General Discussion
Canadian rapper and singer, Aubrey Graham, well known as Drake, will forever be a highly-contested figure in the Hip-Hop world. His personality, antics, and what he represents may not always be respected, but when it comes down to it, music speaks for itself. With his first 3 albums (Thank me later, Take Care, and Nothing was the same) topping the US Billboard 200 and being met with huge critical success, it's hard to refute his achievements. Even with later albums and projects, Drake showed that he could make good music in any way he wished. While the quality of his more recent projects can be discussed, he can still make good quality music.  One project, however, that cemented his place as a true legend in the game, was 'If you're reading this is too late', released back in 2015. Let me break down its tracklist and explain why I have it in such high regard. ●●● This project was actually a surprise release, as there was no mention of it from OVO sound, Young Money, and Republic records. For how suddenly it dropped, selling 37k the first week wasn't a bad thing really. However, it still blew up. It debuted at no. 1 on the US Billboard Top 200, it was streamed 17.3 million times on Spotify, etc.  Now, what made the tracklist so special?  The opener, "Legend", hears Drake swear that even if he was gone today, he would still be a legend. Not that others would hail him as one, he ALREADY was one. With what he had accomplished so early, he was certain his impact couldn't be erased. And truthfully, he was probably right. With how boastful and confident Drake sounds, the production just amplifies the track's effectiveness. The minimalistic approach is great as the autotune, along with the crashing snares, complement what Drake is saying perfectly.  This strong energy flows into the next track, Energy (hah), which sees Drake throw shade at his haters and accept his place within Hip Hop. Produced by Boi-1da, this track builds on Drake's aggressive flow with a hard-hitting and bouncy bass. Drake's confidence is infectious and this whole song just slaps.  Next, we have is 10 Bands. The production style is similar to the 2 opening tracks, but the bass has this thickness to it that complements Drake's choppy but rhythmic flow. With this flow, Drake delivers some nice lines like:  [All my watches always timeless you can keep the diamonds Treatin' Diamonds of Atlanta like it's King of Diamonds]  The next track, Know Yourself, has Drake getting introspective and look back on things that were important to him. In this first verse the beat pattern is stripped-back but really makes you intrigued by what Drake is saying. What follows is an incredible beat-switch that takes you into a phase of Drake using this infectious flow and boasting more than ever. Then comes No Tellin' which sustains the tradition of minimalistic production with a bouncy bass where Drake raps with a more menacing tone. This features a beat switch yet again, but this one is more stark. The atmosphere becomes truly moody and almost immerses you into Drake's world. Drake lays out his inner thoughts and demons, things that worry him, and what he envisions for himself. After this we get more of an interlude in Madonna, which has some quotables.  Following this we get 6-God. The beat on this song has ridiculous energy where Drake gets adventurous with his flows. Star-67 comes next with its moody and entrancing layers that make each and every line from Drake hit harder. The beat switch on this song is truly fantastic. It builds more on the setting and Drake talks about blowing up and how his people have been a part of his journey throughout. Then we get Preach and Wednesday Night Interlude, both featuring Partynextdoor, which both nail this nocturnal and night-time atmosphere. Proceeding this, we get Used To and 6-Man. Both songs have this upbeat tempo that is impossible to ignore, giving way to some really solid verses from Drake.  Nearing the end of the tracklist there are true sleepers in songs like Now & Forever, Company, and You & the 6. Now & Forever has Drake going on some kind of rant on why he has to leave the 6, likely referencing to how his city has safeguarded him for many years. This follows up nicely with Company where Travis Scott has a guest appearance and does well under a dark, atmospheric undertone. You & the 6 is a song where Drake talks about his mother and her impact on his life, and how his relationships aren't all that consistent. He ends with 2 genuine classics, being Jungle and 6PM in New York.  Jungle has such a moody and city-like atmosphere to it that hits so hard for many, including me. While Drake reflecting on his mistakes and miscues with women might not be everyone's cup of tea, it feels genuine on here. Drake's singing is great on this thing and its laid-back production is ear-candy.  Finally, the mixtape ends on 6PM in New York. In a near 4-minute song with no hook, Drake goes in on the industry and many other rappers he can't see eye-to-eye with. Drake addresses many things regarding how he's perceived, how he feels about other rappers, and most importantly, he assures that he's not done crafting his legacy.  Some great stuff from this track:  [The game is all mine and I'm mighty possessive Lil Wayne could not have found him a better successor Every shot you see them take at me? They all contested Allen Iverson shoe deal, these n***** all in question]  [And I heard someone say something that stuck with me a lot Bout how we need protection from those protectin' the block Nobody lookin' out for nobody Maybe we should try and help somebody or be somebody Instead of bein' somebody that makes the news So everybody can tweet about it]  [Yea, boy you rappin' like you seen it all You rappin' like the throne should be the three of ya'll Best I Ever Had seems like a decade ago Decadent flow and I still got a decade to go]  ●●●  As great of a tracklist as it is, what makes this project so special to Drake's discography and career, is how it served as a transition period. After this project dropped, it feels like Drake took a newer approach with his music and overall attitude towards curating albums. Drake is still one of the most successful artists of this generation, and a lot of his words haven't aged that badly from that 2015 time. What makes this so special is that Drake proved he could go out there and rap his ass off, and go in any lane he so wished. To me, If You're Reading This, It's Too Late is a classic mixtape that should be regarded as one of Drake's crowning achievements.  Thank you for reading.
IYRTITL: Drake's slept-on classic content media
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Grizz
Beat Writer/Co-GM
Beat Writer/Co-GM
Feb 20, 2024
In General Discussion
If you ask a modern NBA fan about the top of the franchise hierarchy, they will likely mention names such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and last of all, the Miami Heat. Of all these teams, however, no franchise has seen as much of a drastic change as the Miami Heat, going from the bottom of the league in its early years to claiming multiple championship banners within 3 decades. Meanwhile, the other teams have either dominated a specific time period, had success within numerous eras, or had a few stretches of utmost dominance. In the case of Miami however, this is far from the truth. The franchise was brought into existence a lot later than the other aforementioned teams, but taking time to adjust to the league didn't hinder it from reaching success in the coming years, as they were able to make the playoffs on a consistent basis in only their 7th year. While they found themselves in a pickle during many seasons in between, factors out of their control had impeded the Heat from making any significant strides. Other than that, the Heat were able to garner success during many periods of time. During some of these stretches, the Heat managed to clinch the playoffs consistently and claimed a couple of titles, including 2006, 2012, 2013. While you may argue this isn't quite as impressive and notable as the achievements of other clubs like Boston, Los Angeles, or San Antonio, the way they went from nothing to one of the premier franchises of the league within just 30 years is nothing short of sensational. Let's see how they did it. ●   ●   ● ●   ●   ● The year is 1988. The Los Angeles Lakers just came off a dominant showing in the 1987 NBA season, and the league was peaking in terms of interest, which was attributed to the rift between stars Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, the TV broadcasting contract for TBS and TNT, and the growing expansion of basketball. While the league had started to pick up off the ground, there were still some major complaints coming from the fans' side of things, and that included the lack of new franchises to the NBA.  Even though the number had grown a lot through the decades, there were plenty of cities looking to home a franchise, and of these cities was none other than Miami. Despite competition from other potential teams such as Orlando, Miami was the team chosen to be added to the league, and this was all thanks to efforts from Billy Cunningham, Lewis Schaffel, and financial contributions from Carnival Cruise Lines founder Ted Arison. Once the foundation was set, all that was left to do was to find an official team name, and this process took only a couple of months through surveying, before the name “Miami Heat” was finalized. While the city of Orlando was going to set up shop for a team of their own, the Heat were bypassed to play their first season in 1988, while Orlando would be set for 1989. In the expansion draft, the Heat added some solid players who had some potential to be consistent starters, but other than that, they had minimal talent. Given how it was the franchise’s first season, it came as no surprise that they only won a few games, and they ended up going 15-67.  On the roster, their production came from Kevin Edwards and Rory Sparrow, both of which averaged just under 15 points per game on putrid efficiency (-6.2 and -8.8 TS respectively) en route to an offensive rating of 97.8 and net rating of -11.2, ranking dead last in both statistics.  While it was understandable considering the circumstance, it was likely that Miami would take a hefty amount of time to get on its own two feet, especially since that was a trend for any new team. On the flip side, the Magic were also finding trouble adjusting to the league, but it was a sure thing that it would take both these young franchises time to find its place within the league hierarchy. ●   ●   ●     ●   ●   ●   In the following two years, Miami didn’t make significant improvement in any way, but they did take Glen Rice with the #4 overall pick, a prolific scorer from Michigan. Not only did they have lots to look forward to, but their franchise had become a little bit younger in comparison to the year prior, and this would help in the coming years. You see, the Heat were barely making strides in terms of success, but they had the tools to build a winning culture if they added the right pieces and hired the right guys to get the job done. From winning 15 games, they went up to 24 games within the first 3 years, but after this, things got spicy down in Miami. Following these 3 years of mediocrity early on, the Heat found themselves in better shape heading into the 1991-1992 NBA season.  Glen Rice was making improvements and slowly became more accustomed to the environment there, and his steady and gradual rise would help Miami make jumps on a seasonal basis. In 1991-1992, Rice averaged 22.3 PPG on +3.1 rTS, and having 6 other players averaging double figure points certainly helped their case too. While the scoring was improved and the offensive rating leaped from worst in the league to 19th (among 27), its defense ranked as one of the worst in the game, and that hurt their Net RTg as well.  Fortunately, Miami won 8 more games than expected, and were able to clinch a playoff berth in only its fourth season of existence, something that nobody saw coming. While they were quickly disposed of by the commanding Chicago Bulls team, this achievement of making the playoffs was more than enough to raise the spirits of Glen and company. In the next season, things didn’t improve much at all, matter of fact, they sort of had a worse campaign to the prior season. While they didn’t bar any significant losses down the road, guys like Kevin Edwards played 40 of the 82 games thanks to a plethora of minor injuries, something which hindered their overall scoring for a lot. During stretches, it looked as if they were completely out of sync and their mediocre days were upon them, and they had many losing streaks of 4 or more games. Glen Rice seemed to decline too, as he went from 22.3 points per game to 19.0 without making any improvements at all, including a dip in efficiency (-2.7 TS).  Following this mediocre year, the Heat managed to put the league on notice, as they ranked 7th and 11th in ORtg and DRtg overall, which was a huge jump from previous years. This was all thanks to the the consistent scoring trio of Glen Rice, Steve Smith, and Rony Seikaly, of which all averaged 15+ points on respectable efficiency. In this campaign, Rony’s two-way ability was put on full display, as he averaged 1.4 blocks and was a disruptive center all through the year (played 72 games). In 1994-1995, the Miami Heat no longer had Kevin Edwards and Rony Seikaly, both of which had been a staple of the best Miami Heat teams, which culminated in the offense-rating dipping to 14th and the defense-rating going from 11th to 16th. Glen had previously signed a veteran extension in the 1994 offseason too, and this secured his place on a Miami team looking to become a playoff-team in the coming years. Once the season had come to a conclusion, a set of changes would come soon after.  ●   ●   ●   ●   ●   ● In the offseason of 1995, the Miami Heat were on the lookout for coaches to manage the team, as the previous two who handled the job weren’t quite suitable for the role. No matter, the Heat were able to hire Pat Riley, a highly praised and well-respected head coach who was known for his ability to completely transform the culture of any team, including the Showtime Lakers and Ewing led Knicks. It was no different when he came to Miami, and this was noticeable through his intervention in the Free Agency decisions. From the moment he landed in Miami, he was helping the GM pulling off moves with a sense of urgency, and his expertise on the matter was bar to none. In a series of aggressive moves, the Heat ended up trading sniper Glen Rice along with Matt Geiger, Khalid Reeves, and a 1996 first-round pick (Tony Delk later) to the Hornets in exchange for LeRon Ellis, Pete Myers, and two time all-star Alonzo Mourning. This move was almost franchise altering, given just how much potential Rice had, but Mourning had equally as much potential thanks to his monstrous, imposing physique and stifling defense. Neither were your run-of-the-mill type of guys, both were players who had a rather staggering ceiling, and if under the right coach and system, they could improve exponentially.  It seemed that Riley bought into the rim protection of Zo, and him playing a part in these deals made it clear that he wanted to bring a well-defined defensive culture that funneled players into the paint. Following this, Miami made a mid-season move in which they received Tim Hardaway from Golden State, and all they needed to give away was pretty much an injury-prone and aging Kevin Willis. Hardaway was known to be a floor general with stellar passing abilities, and this type of pairing of him along with Zo would lead to more success than ever before. In the 1995-1996 season, Alonzo averaged 23.2 points, 2.7 blocks, and 10.4 rebounds on +4.2 rTS, meanwhile Hardaway played well enough in 28 games to push them into the playoffs. Though Chicago took care of business in 3 games, this is the 72-10 Bulls we’re talking about, so this loss wasn’t nothing short of expected. In terms of how things were looking in the future, they had some potential within them. The combination of Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning had been potent from the start, and they were lethal in not only PnR's, but Hardaway would dump it down to Zo who would consistently finish at the rim. It also be mentioned that Alonzo was still 25 years of age and Hardaway still had some good years left in the tank. From this season to 1996-1997, the Heat made a significant leap in every area possible. They went from 42 wins in 1996 to reaching the 60-win mark in 1997, and this was all thanks to the all-rounded defense Miami had cultivated in South Beach. Of course, Alonzo was the anchor and the engine that kept things running, but it was additions of Dan Marjerle, Jamal Mashburn, and PJ Brown that added more versatility to that side of the ball. This culminated in garnering a defensive rating of 100.6, which put them atop the league in the statistic, just barely ahead of the New York Knicks. Offensively, the aforementioned additions added more depth in the scoring department, but still were barely ranked above the middle of the pack in offensive rating. When the playoffs rolled around, many expected an Eastern Conference matchup between the well-oiled machine that was the Chicago Bulls and the 2nd-seeded Miami Heat. Although the Bulls still had their prominent big three and myriad of role players governed by Phil Jackson, the up and coming Miami Heat had what it took to upset the top dog. In the first-round, the Heat took care of business against a Orlando Magic squad that had just lost the game-changing Shaquille O’Neal, and went on to face the New York Knicks who had the 2nd best defense in the game.  This series was tightly-contested until Game 7, but Tim Hardaway’s 38 point outing helped them reach the Eastern Finals for the first time in franchise history.  In this series, they were pitted against none other than the Chicago Bulls, and this looked to be the marquee matchup for fans around the country - or so they thought. What people overlooked was the gritty, hard-wearing defense of Dennis Rodman, somebody who had proven to be an integral part of the Bulls dominant run. In this series, Alonzo was held to a mere 15.6 points per game on average efficiency, and Hardaway was unable to get going either.  While the Heat had cooked up a formula for success, the Bulls were too big of an obstacle to overcome. What this Heat team didn’t realize was, this was the perfect opportunity to take down this formidable Bulls team, as it was the Jazz who came out of the West, and the Heat had the tools to beat that team. Even so, it was quite a sensational season for this Heat team, and the ethos of team-basketball still prevailed, despite them losing in the ECF. Following this mark achieved by the Alonzo Mourning led Heat, things didn’t quite take flight, as they were met with playoff defeats on a routinely basis. While they had consistently clinched the playoffs and stood atop their division year in and year out, they never got the pieces to push them into title contention nor did their younger players make any progressions worthy of praise. What came to follow was the deterioration of Tim Hardaway, and soon after the loss of all-star center Alonzo Mourning, once he decided to join the Nets. Fortunately for them, they would be adding one of the greatest shooting guards of all time within a couple of years, and this is where the journey begins to take shape. ●   ●   ●     ●   ●   ● Following an egregious 2002-2003 season where Miami won a mere 25 games, the Heat wound up earning the 5th overall pick in the 2003 Draft -- a class that went down in history. With a top-heavy class filled to the brim with talent, the Heat would likely be steered in the right direction given their selection. With their 5th pick they went with flashy guard Dwayne Wade from Marquette, and this move was respectable without a doubt. In his first campaign, Wade was playing with loads of pressure on his shoulders already, and many in Miami expected him to change the landscape and outlook of the franchise. This year, he averaged a classic 16.2 points, but surprisingly shot above league average at +1.6 rTS.  Usually, when players first get out on the court, they tend to be a bit sporadic compared to college, but of course, this is due to an atmospheric change.  In the case of Wade, it seemed that he made quite a smooth transition to the NBA, and simple tweaking and fine tuning of his game could turn him into one of the finest players in the league. What came as a shock was the fact that Miami not only made the playoffs, but reached the semis in the same run, and the Heat weren’t even all that great offensively. Their defense had been a staple of the team’s success, but in no way did anyone expect this type of improvement from the previous year’s disaster.  What followed was the trade acquisition that landed them dominant center Shaquille O’Neal, an absolute behemoth who was accumulating multiple MVP-level campaigns to his name. In exchange, the Lakers packaged Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant, and a first-round pick that, well, ended up being quite useless.  To put it bluntly, the Heat were able to add a premier center who was still amongst the best while the Lakers were able to break up a decaying relationship between Shaq and Kobe. Although it worked out for both parties, it was clear that the addition of Shaq would prove to be more of a factor going forward. In their first year paired together, they led Miami to 59 wins, which was highest in the Eastern Conference, along with a top 7 ORtg and DRtg which culminated in a Net Rtg of 7.1 (3rd of 30). Shaq and Wade averaged roughly 20 points per game respectively, and gave them confidence heading into the playoffs.  Though they were able to cruise through the first two rounds with relatively no problems, they had quite a tough matchup in the ECF. They were pitted against a well-rounded Pistons team with notable defensive capabilies, and were able to earn the 2nd seed during the regular season.  While we had seen this movie play out before in the 2003-2004 NBA Finals, where a Pistons team was able to negate O’Neal’s dominance with a gameplanof their own, and defeated the Lakers in only 5 games. This time around, Shaq played relatively well despite the man opposed to him being a stalwart on that end, and this culminated in him averaging 20.6 points on solid efficiency.  Wade, however, had a TS of 51.9% in a very crucial series, and that certainly didn’t help. In the end, Detroit won this series in gritty game 7, and eliminated the newly formed Heat. The loss wasn’t easy to process by any means, but the Heat were still right there, and all it took was a tiny push forward. ●   ●   ●     ●   ●   ●     In 2005-2006, the tides began to change, and the Heat were still in the running for another deep playoff run. Once the regular-season wound down, Dwyane Wade became the cream of the crop within only a couple of months, and this was due to his leap from the 2005 season to 2006. In this year, he averaged 27.2 points per game on +4.1 rTS, along with 7.6 assists as well. Meanwhile, Shaq maintained his all-NBA level production averaging a solid 20/9 with an rTS of +5.2, and still had juice left in him.  The Heat would rank top 10 in both ORtg and DRtg and looked to be in prime position for a deeper run compared to before. In the first two rounds, they were able to dispose of the pesky Chicago Bulls and New Jersey Nets, where Wade averaged 26.2 and had his shining moments too. Following this was a rematch of last year’s tight conference finals, and this time, the Heat bested the Pistons in 6 games. What made this win so convincing was the stellar defense from O’Neal, as his shot-blocking came in clutch in many situations, culminating to a total of 14 blocks in the series. In the Finals, they were rivaled by Dirk Nowitzki’s Mavericks, a team that relied mostly on their offensive scheme that resulted in the league-best ORtg, partly due to Nowitzki’s historic scoring and guys like Jason Terry rounding out the roster. This was bound to be one of the most intriguing series in the entire playoffs, especially with how talented both sides were.  What resulted was consecutive stretches of dominance from both teams, as the Mavs pounced on the Heat at home to claim a stronghold on the series, but what was to come is nothing short of controversial, even to this day. The Heat would go on to string together a 4-game winning streak to win the series 4-2, and it seemed as if there had strings were being pulled.  To begin, many fans have speculated that the refs were intentionally gifting Wade free throws in an attempt to rig the series, and when looking at the numbers, it does look a bit iffy. Throughout the series, Wade averaged a stunning 16.6 FTA’s per game, something not even some all time great scoring machines would match. Regardless of what you think, when laying down the facts, we can understand that Wade was incredibly aggressive and did earn some of his fouls without question. The Heat were able to win 4 straight games despite being in a 0-2 hole to a potent Mavs team, and it was nothing short of amazing. This was when Miami had finally reached the top of the world, claiming what was rightfully theirs. Going through many changes and constant shuffling of staff, the Heat had their superstar of the future and had a magnificent playoff run. From here on out, we know how the dominos fell. Dwyane Wade had one of the greatest individual seasons for a shooting-guard and arguably the 3rd best Heat season ever. LeBron James came to the Miami Heat and helped them claim 2 more championship banners. Now, they have a young squad of studs led by Jimmy Butler, and could very well make the Finals and add another ring to their collection.  Does this make the Heat the greatest, most glorious franchise in existence? I doubt it. Does this make them the most overlooked and scrutinized franchise? Not at all. But it goes to show how a constant fluctuation of changes can go a long way, and all it takes is for a franchise to trust their GM and staff to construct a winning team. Yes, the process is draining and takes a lot of patience, but in time, the pieces will begin to fall in place.  This is the story of the Miami Heat, a franchise that was formed out of the best interest of two important men, but went on to find success within only its first few years of existence. There are franchises much older than the Heat, yet they have had little to no success throughout their history. While some will mention their market as a leading factor for this prosperity, the Heat created a culture from scratch - a culture that continues to produce winning basketball even today. Thanks for reading!
Started From The Bottom: How the Heat became a storied franchise  content media
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Grizz
Beat Writer/Co-GM
Beat Writer/Co-GM
Feb 19, 2024
In General Discussion
• 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐖𝐚𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐭𝐨𝐧 𝐖𝐢𝐳𝐚𝐫𝐝𝐬 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐬𝐭𝐮𝐜𝐤 𝐢𝐧 𝐦𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐨𝐜𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝟒𝟎 𝐲𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐬, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐟𝐮𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐛𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐤. 𝐖𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐛𝐞𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐚𝐢𝐝, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝐝𝐨𝐧'𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐦𝐮𝐜𝐡 𝐭𝐨 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐰𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝐭𝐨, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐬𝐮𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐬𝐞 𝐛𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝟏𝟗𝟕𝟎𝐬. • 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐖𝐢𝐳𝐚𝐫𝐝𝐬 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐚 𝐯𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐭𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐝𝐢𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐅𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐬 𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬, 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐛𝐚𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐞 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐝𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐠𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐦𝐲 𝐟𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐬𝐞, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲'𝐯𝐞 𝐲𝐞𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐩𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐭 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐞. 𝐖𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐛𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐤, 𝐰𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐚 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐚𝐭 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐬𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐡𝐨𝐥𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐮𝐩 𝐝𝐮𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐠𝐥𝐨𝐫𝐲 𝐝𝐚𝐲𝐬—𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲, 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝟏𝟗𝟕𝟖 𝐫𝐮𝐧. ● ● ● ● ● 𝐇𝐎𝐖 𝐃𝐈𝐃 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐁𝐔𝐋𝐋𝐄𝐓𝐒 𝐒𝐓𝐀𝐑𝐓 𝐎𝐔𝐓? In 1961, the NBA decided to initiate an expansion that would add new teams into the league. After paying an entry fee of 500k dollars, the Chicago Packers (later relocated/rebranded) were admitted that year. While Walt Bellamy was at the helm, the franchise was unable to create an identity and couldn't surround Bellamy with much-needed talent—leading up to him being traded in 1966. While Walt's tenure with Baltimore never took flight, they reached the Division Finals in only their fourth year of being an NBA franchise. After this era came to an end, the franchise was granted the #2 overall pick in the 1968 draft after going 20-61 in the previous season. With this selection, the Bullets took Louisville prospect Wes Unseld, who came out of college with glitz and glamour surrounding his name. During his college days, Unseld was a dominant rebounder and reliable scorer, albeit being only 6-foot-7. With that being said, the franchise had lots to look forward to with Wes at the helm, and surrounding him with adequate talent became a priority for them. In the following years, Unseld garnered many prestigious honors such as ROTY, MVP, and all-star appearances, plus he led the Bullets to the 1971 NBA Finals, where they eventually got outmatched by the Kareem Abdul Jabbar-led Milwaukee Bucks. Three years later, the franchise relocated to Washington, taking the name 'Capital Bullets' then eventually becoming the Washington Bullets in 1975. This led to the franchise steering in a new direction. As Wes Unseld was aging, Washington made a splash after they traded for budding superstar Elvin Hayes—who had become a bucket-getter. With the pairing of Elvin Hayes and Phil Chenier, the Bullets finally earned their time to shine. In their first year together—the 1974-1975 season—Washington made their first finals appearance coming off a 60-win regular season. In the NBA Finals, the Bullets were swept by the Rick Barry-led Golden State Warriors, but it was a monumental breakthrough for the young franchise. In the following two years, the Wizards got eliminated in the Eastern Conference semi-finals and finished with a record of 48-32 in both seasons respectively. Although they were unable to reclaim the Eastern Conference throne, the franchise eluded mediocrity and constant losing. With that being said, it was the perfect time for the franchise to break through and win their first championship. Elvin Hayes was still one of the better forwards in the league, and they added depth with pieces such as Mitch Kupchak and Kevin Grevey, plus the addition of all-star caliber Bob Dandridge. Enter 1977-1978. With the understanding of how the franchise had gotten to this point, we can now delve into how the Bullets fared in the regular season and where they stood amongst other headlining teams. In the first few games of the season, the Bullets were just adjusting to their newly-constructed team, and never formed any kind of win-loss streak early on. However, this changed when the Bullets started to pick up steam, as they went on two four-game win streaks where they outscored their opponents by a bit. The most notable performance of this streak was their stunning 131-125 overtime victory against the Kings, in which the Bullets had six players scoring in double figures—mostly due to the third-quarter burst they had where they scored 42 points in total. After this impressive stretch, the Bullets were unable to seize control of their favorable schedule (faced 76ers, Pacers, Hawks), which led to them being streaky. During January, things started to take a turn for the worst as they picked up a five-game losing streak from the 14th to the 24th—including an embarrassing 130-93 blowout against the Buffalo Braves with inefficient scoring efforts from both Elvin Hayes (18 pts/49% TS) and Kevin Grevey (10 pts/39% TS). From this stretch on, the Bullet's inconsistencies continued to hold them back, and Elvin Hayes looked to be a shell of his former self. For the most part, it was his efficiency that took a hit, in which he shot poorly from the field on a nightly basis. This led to the Bullets being inconsistent and unable to string together multiple wins, as Hayes was the cornerstone of the franchise at that point—despite his rapid aging. Luckily for the Bullets, things started to look more and more bright once they entered March hoping to bounce back after the misery they had back in January and February. During the first week of March, the Bullets strung together a four-game win-streak for the first time in nearly three months, scoring over 120 points twice during this stretch. In this period, the Bullets big-three of Elvin Hayes, Bob Dandridge, and Kevin Grevey came up huge—especially when they combined for 75 total points against the George Gervin-led San Antonio Spurs. This is when the trio began to come alive on a nightly basis, now being more consistent as compared to before. While the Bullets had loads of talent all around, injury issues costed their success in the regular-season side of things. Phil Chenier had played just around 10-15 games up to that point, justifying the lack of wins the Bullets had. During the final month of the regular season, the Bullets looked to close out their campaign with a couple of wins, hoping to gain momentum before the eventual bloodbath of the postseason that was to come. In a game against the Seattle Super Sonics, the fans of Seattle witnessed a nail-bitter between the two rivals—with a final score of 120-116 going in the favor of the Bullets. In this outing, the Bullets had seven players who scored in double figures, combined with valuable rebounding from both Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld. Heading into the postseason, the Bullets were going to be without key player Phil Chenier, who had played a pivotal role in the team's plans. Considering this and the inconsistencies of Elvin Hayes, the playoffs would prove to be difficult for this team. Trotting a probable starting lineup of Tom Henderson, Kevin Grevey, Bob Dandridge, Elvin Hayes, and Wes Unseld, the Bullets looked to be in a prime position to make an ECF appearance at the bare minimum. Despite what the record said, they still managed to grab the third seed in the Eastern Conference as well. For statistical reference, the Bullets had an SRS of 0.82 (7th of 22), ORtg/DRtg of 101.3/100.5 (10th & 9th), and a Net-Rtg of +0.9 (7th of 22). ★⋆ ════ In round 1, the Bullets were matched up against the six-seeded Atlanta Hawks, led by John Drew and company. In the first matchup, the Bullets and Hawks were in a tightly contested battle throughout game, with both teams scoring at similar rates. After the first quarter, it was tied between the two, but a second-quarter scoring burst from Bob Dandridge (12 of his 20 points came in the 2nd quarter) helped Washington pull away before half-time. At the half, the score was 56-48 in favor of the Bullets. In the second half, the Hawks failed to build momentum, as their leading-scorer John Drew was on and off and his teammates were unable to help either. In that third quarter, the Hawks outscored the Bullets by a mere 2 points, proving to you how close Atlanta made the outcome. During the fourth quarter, the Bullets almost got screwed when both Bob Dandridge and Wes Unseld sat at five personal fouls, but the Hawks were unable to attack them which allowed them to stay in the game. In the end, the Bullets pulled out the victory 103 to 94, giving them an edge in the series. In game-two, a similar result ensued, as both teams once again made a tightly contested duel. During the first half, the Bullets and Hawks both scored at a respectable rate, with Washington leading 48-46 at the break. Heading into the second half, both teams needed a spark from their respective stars to pull away with a decent lead. During the third quarter, Kevin Grevey came out firing on all cylinders as he scored at rates that were never seen before. In the aftermath, Grevey ended up with 41 points, went 15-24, and a TS of 69%. Due to this outburst, the Bullets edged out the victory 107-103 in overtime, advancing to the next round of the postseason. In the coming matchup, the Bullets would be facing the San Antonio Spurs led by scoring-machine George Gervin. In the first game, the Bullets were unable to keep George Gervin under control, which allowed him to put up 35 points going 15/28. This prevented the Bullets to keep the game in close measures, as Gervin was the main guy for San Antonio, and him performing well meant that the Bullets were going to have their hands full. During the three-quarter, Gervin connected on eight of 10 shots from the floor allowing the Spurs to edge the Bullets. On the flip side, Elvin Hayes poured in 26 points along with 15 rebounds for Washington in a losing effort. In the following three games, George Gervin and Larry Kenon both dropped 35+ points in all three contests yet got outmatched by the Bullets in each game. This was mostly due to the collective efforts of Elvin Hayes, Bob Dandridge, and Kevin Grevey, as two combined for 59 points in the second game and the other two amalgamated for 55 points in the third. After going down 3-1 before game 5, the Spurs kept their season alive, as they held down the fort defensively by limiting Elvin Hayes to an inefficient 17-point performance. In-game 6, the Bullets were in a position to close out the series, fortunately being at home in front of the rambunctious fans in attendance. During this contest, the Bullets and Spurs both struggled to put up points in the second half, despite both scoring a whopping 62 and 58 in the first half respectively. For San Antonio, Gervin dropped an efficient 23 point performance, but it wasn't enough to overtake the Bullets. On the flip side, Elvin Hayes put up 25 points & 15 rebounds to lead the Bullets into the next round of the postseason—the ECF. In the ECF, the Bullets would be facing off against the Philadelphia 76ers, led by future hall-of-famer and generational superstar Julius Erving. In game 1, both teams were scoring at absurd rates in the second half, each side totaling up to 64 and 60 respectively. While Julius Erving nor Elvin Hayes poured in more than 28 points, both teams had scoring efforts from the supporting cast & bench (Bullets: K. Grevey 26 points, Bob Dandridge 22 points/76ers: World B. Free 21 points, Caldwell Jones 16 points). Next game, the 76ers bounced back, due to Julius Erving, Doug Collins, and Steve Mix combining for 72 points altogether—allowing them to break away in the third quarter outscoring the Bullets 32-22. In the following two games, the Bullets took both matchups comfortably, winning each contest by 15 points or more and grasping a 3-1 stronghold on the series. In game 5, the 76ers managed to pull off quite the surprising victory, as they had merely 18 FTA's while the Bullets attempted 39. Despite this, the 76ers were able to contain both Elvin Hayes and Bob Dandridge, both combining for a measly 24 points on poor shooting (E. Hayes 4/13 & B. Dandridge 5/12). The next game, which was another chance for the Bullets to get rid of the 76ers, became a thriller for what it was worth. For Philly, Julius Erving and Doug Collins combined for 55 points, while on the flip side Elvin Hayes and Bob Dandridge both scored 20+ respectively. Despite outscoring the Bullets 23-17 in the fourth quarter, Washington barely pulled off the win by a mere 2 point edge. Washington had officially clinched their finals ticket, coming back to the promise land yet again after waiting 4 years. The Bullets were finally going to get another chance at winning the NBA Finals...it was another golden opportunity knocking on their door... ★⋆ ════ Despite having many obstacles in the way, the Bullets managed to make a Finals appearance pitted to face off against the Seattle Super Sonics. In this series, the Bullets were outmatched in many areas such as defensively, where the SuperSonics had the 2nd best defensive rating (97.7) in the regular season—and in terms of depth, the Sonics had many double-digit scorers to make up for the lack of scoring punch. While it seemed that the Bullets would likely take home the title with little to no problem, the Sonics would make this series...quite the thriller. In the first game of the series, the Sonics managed to pull off a surprising win—led by Fred Brown's scoring outburst off the bench in which he scored 30 points with merely a turnover to spare. On the flip side, the Bullets got 48 from Kevin Grevey and Elvin Hayes combined, but Bob Dandridge's miserable shooting cost them in the end (6 points on 3/12 shooting). However, in the following game, Dandridge redeemed himself by dropping 34 points on 14/22 shooting and led the Bullets to victory in which they scored an absurd 36 points in the second quarter. In game three, the Sonics bounced back by edging out the Bullets by the slimmest of margins, winning the contest 93-92 despite being outscored in the fourth quarter. For Washington, this loss was difficult to process, as Bob Dandridge and Elvin Hayes combined for 50 yet lost by just a point. Following this heartbreak, the Sonics dealt with the same fate as the Bullets did, losing game four 120-116 despite Dennis Johnson, Gus Williams, and Jack Sikma combining for 76 total points. Next, which was a pivotal game five, the Sonics held down the fort by limiting the stars of the Bullets, with Hayes and Dandridge scoring 22 points at the maximum. Plus, Fred Brown's efforts off the bench (26 points) contributed to this victory as well. With the uncertainty that was to come, the series shifted to Seattle where the Sonics had the golden opportunity to close out the series. However, the Bullets had other plans in store, as they not only beat the Sonics—but they did it by a whopping 35 points. Not only did they hold everybody on Seattle under 18 points, but the collective efforts of Elvin Hayes, Bob Dandridge, and bench contributions (63 points) helped them keep their hopes alive. In the final contest of the NBA season, both teams were looking to take home their first championship banner, with both sides having a lot at stake ahead of game seven. During this game, the Bullets had problems getting their star's open looks, which ended up being why their leading-scorer Bob Dandridge had only 19 points. On the flip side, Seattle's Marvin Webster dropped an absurd 27 points and 19 rebounds to lead all scorers, but what held the Sonics back was their poor team shooting (35/91) which led to them losing this game 105-99. The Wizards finally became champions of the world, and it took years of ups and downs to get to this point. Wes Unseld, supposedly the savior of the franchise at the time he was drafted—had achieved success with the team that drafted him, which also came with him coming home with the FMVP award. His offensive rebounding and passing both contributed to him taking this award, and his commitment to the franchise ended up benefiting him. They finally had done it... It took only 16 years but it felt fulfilling... The Washington Bullets of the 1970s were a force to be reckoned with—they had talent across the board, respectable offensive/defensive units, and the leadership of Wes Unseld made them a threat yearly. While this form of success will likely never be followed up by the franchises' current players, or even those who land up on this team in the future, Washington fans should learn to appreciate what the older generations of Bullets were able to accomplish during their time. That was the miraculous tale of the 1977-1978 Washington Bullets run. ★⋆ ════ “𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐎𝐃𝐃 𝐎𝐍𝐄 𝐎𝐔𝐓: 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐌𝐈𝐑𝐀𝐂𝐔𝐋𝐎𝐔𝐒 𝐓𝐀𝐋𝐄 𝐎𝐅 𝐓𝐇𝐄 1977-1978 𝐖𝐀𝐒𝐇𝐈𝐍𝐆𝐓𝐎𝐍 𝐁𝐔𝐋𝐋𝐄𝐓𝐒.” Thanks for reading.
The Odd One Out: The Story of the 1977-78 Wizards content media
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Grizz
Beat Writer/Co-GM
Beat Writer/Co-GM
Feb 18, 2024
In General Discussion
[C]The two men stand in front of the 𝗧𝗶𝗺𝗲 𝗠𝗮𝗰𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗲, eager to discover its possibilities. Out of desperation, they hope to change their perception. As it stands, they're not viewed in the light they'd hope for. This instrument can change that, though. [C]These men are typically mentioned as tragic figures in the basketball realm; their names are Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady. Both players earned their rightful flowers but were on pace to achieve so much more. Besides that similarity, they were linked to another possibility that could have changed the trajectory of their careers. If we turn the clock back to the earlier stages of their careers -- specifically 1999 -- we realize that reality could have diverged considerably. [IC]The two men walk into the time machine preparing for a new reality that paints them in a different light. They take a deep breath...and walk into the machine... [C]  ▬▬▬▬ [C]   [BC]𝗪𝗘𝗟𝗖𝗢𝗠𝗘 𝗧𝗢 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗣𝗔𝗧𝗛𝗦. [C]The 1996 NBA Draft was special. At the same position as prospect Kobe Bryant was an undersized phenom; Allen Iverson out of Georgetown. Initially, his physical profile was questioned, but his talent compensated for it. The 76ers couldn't pass up on this chance, so they grabbed him without further thought. [C]In his rookie year, AI had highlights. He made Michael Jordan look silly with an ankle-stealing crossover. He averaged 40+ throughout 5 games. He earned praise from many legends. Similarly, another notorious player entered the NBA. [C]Before the 1997 Draft, Tracy McGrady was a high school prospect with absurd physical traits. Standing at 6'8" in height with extreme length, he was the prototype of the modern-day scorer. Despite the talent, he was eased into the league. [C]Due to the uncertainty of him adjusting to the NBA, the front office took this as a gradual process. This led to him starting in 19 of 131 total games in '98 and '99. Both men were in different circumstances but were likely to be stuck in mediocrity.  [C]What's vital to note is their surroundings. Outside of their potential, their rosters were far from ideal. In Philadelphia, Iverson didn't have much to work with besides Jerry Stackhouse and Derrick Coleman for 1-2 seasons. Tracy played with his cousin Vince Carter, but Toronto was only in its 2nd year since its creation, and the front office had little to no experience. Couple this with a lack of free agency appeal and you've got an arduous situation. [C]By the offseason of 1999, everything was set into motion as some interesting headlines came to light. The main storyline was rumors of a Raptors-76ers trade. The 76ers offered Larry Hughes to the Raptors in exchange for Tracy McGrady and a first-rounder. [C] Despite not getting enough time, the Raptors seemingly gave up on Tracy McGrady, and wanted to go in a new direction. They wanted the defensive-minded Larry Hughes paired with Vince Carter, a budding star with a phenomenal vertical. Since Philadelphia was still questioning if T-Mac would develop, a first-rounder gave them more assurance. [C]While the deal nearly happened, some factors prevented it. First, Toronto had doubts about whether Larry Hughes would be a cornerstone of the franchise. Next, Toronto thought that Philly was asking for too much with the extra first-rounder. While the stigma surrounding T-Mac was that he wouldn't develop, his upside was levels above Hughes. In the end, Toronto backed out of the deal due to cold feet.  [IC]Although that seems to be all, exploring the possibilities of this trade becoming a reality sounds damn fun. [BC]  ════ ⋆★⋆ ════   [C]Before we see into the possibilities of this move, we need to dig through the needed context to understand what these superstars missed out on during their prime. Only then can we see how this pairing would help each other, especially given their surrounding cast. [C]After Toronto refused to trade him, T-Mac left in 2000 to sign a seven-year $92.8 million contract with the Orlando Magic. The Orlando Magic already had Grant Hill; T-Mac would immediately play next to one of the premier players in the league. With him only being 21 years old, this pair would have time to build their chemistry. [C]Meanwhile, in the East, the 76ers signed Iverson to a six-year $70.9 million deal. Although the circumstance there wasn't as ideal as other potential suitors, he remained loyal. [C]This deal paid off. In 2001, the 76ers would go on to win 56 games and reach the NBA Finals, even stealing a game from the Lakers. The Magic, on the other hand, weren't as fortunate. Grant Hill went down after spraining his left ankle, and him being rushed in didn't help either. He'd end up playing only 4 games the entire regular season, causing the Magic to lose in round one. [C]To Tracy's dismay, this became a trend in the coming years. Grant Hill was plagued by nagging injuries. And whenever he took the court, he was bad. On the contrary, Iverson didn't have severe injuries, but his cast was never sufficient to gun for a title. [C]As the years progressed, things changed, but not in a good way. In Houston, T-Mac continued his all-star level production but his Rockets team never took flight. In 2008, the Rockets finished 53-29, and had a very respectable team with McGrady, Yao Ming, and Shane Battier, but lost in round one. The next year, despite adding Ron Artest, was no different. Tracy McGrady was seemingly out of his prime, and various injuries would hurt him past this point. They did reach the WCSF, which was a solid achievement, but the foreseeable future was looking bleak for both sides. With T-Mac aging and having frequent health complications, it was well-known that he had fallen from grace. [C]In Iverson's case, he found himself in the same boat. The 76ers had many opportunities to obtain quality players in Free Agency but never cashed in. This translated to seasons where Iverson carried the workload, which never led to anything noteworthy. Usually losing out in the first round, the 76er's only sniff of success came in 2001. [C]So we now have the necessary context to delve deeper. Tracy did have injury troubles, but these only plagued him around 2008, right after he had his prime. The only reason he never found much playoff success was due to the absence of a healthy, all-star-level teammate. He had Yao Ming in Houston, but was that TRULY enough to contend? Similarly, Iverson's situation was never perfect for him to operate. During his prime years ('01-'04), his best teammate was Eric Snow (sorry, Eric). [C]We have two players who weren't flawless, but didn't have the circumstance to make use of their skills. Although we can only look in retrospect, I feel like we can analyze the possibilities and fit of T-Mac and AI playing in Philly. If we do so, we come out realizing that things could have been so much different, without strictly assuming. [BC]════ ⋆★⋆ ════ [C]At the peak of his powers, Tracy McGrady was a bona fide scoring machine. With an arsenal of reliable tactics, Tracy was nearly unstoppable. What made his game so exceptional was his efficiency and versatility. From nearly anywhere he could knock a shot down, and he found his sweet spot every time. When looking at the given shot-chart for his '03 season (single-season peak) this becomes all the more apparent.  [IUC]'03 Tracy McGrady shot-chart: [C]With this, we can verify that he was an incredibly versatile scorer. For the first time, the league came across a lengthy and tall wing who played smoothly like a guard -- even more of a unicorn than Larry Bird or Dominique Wilkins. Specifically, it was his tools that made him so unique. Despite not looking intimidating, his bag of tricks, including the mastery of certain shots, made him formidable.  [C]In '02-'03 T-Mac had an rTS of +4.5%, partially due to his efficient usage of shots. Stemming from his athleticism and towering frame, smaller defenders couldn't contain him. He would have no problem rising and hitting it, and attacking the paint gave defenders issues too. The fact that he took such effective shots proves that he wasn't your typical high-volume backpacker. Contrary to Iverson, his shot selection was top-notch and among the best scorers in the league. [C]He was also the absolute definition of the modern three-level scorer, shooting at a clip of 38.6% from 3pt on 6 attempts and being respectable from downtown for most of his career. With his quick release and ability to hit just about any shot, defenses needed to approach him with caution. Typically, the only way to slow him down was by tightening the man-to-man defense and having the big down low advance. Overall, though, T-Mac couldn't be stifled, and his creation for others made him even more of a problem. Whenever he was doubled or had a few bodies angling in his direction, he'd hit an open man with a dazzling pass. Nonetheless, he wasn't perfect offensively. [C]Keep in mind, for the majority of his career, he lacked an offensive partner. Due to the absence of a great shot-creator, T-Mac had inefficient nights where he was ball dominant and couldn't get anything going. Other times, he was unwilling to pass even if given the right opportunity, and he missed easy looks other elites would cash in on. Anyways, if the trade came into fruition, he would have that desired co-star in Allen Iverson. [C]_____ [IC]Now, let's see Allen Iverson and how he'd fit alongside T-Mac, plus the benefits he'd draw from it. [C]Let's begin with a simple shot chart. [UC]Allen Iverson Shot Chart (‘01) [BC]  ════ ⋆★⋆ ════   [C]The main thing you notice is the spontaneity of his percentages. Despite him taking most of his shots from mid-range (24.8% of fga's were from 16ft-3pt), he was quite versatile with his arsenal. That being said, it subsequently affected his efficiency. From the right corner, his efficiency was below-average and it wasn't an effective shot of his. On the contrary, he was among the most proficient scorers from near the 3pt-line. This was due to his ability to create space with his exceptional dribbling, which had his defenders on skates.  [C]Similarly, he was quite good at drawing defensive attention. Unfortunately, this strength didn't result in anything notable. Given his teammates' inability to space the floor (76ers ranked 26th in 3pt% in '01 & 25th in fg% from 10-16 ft), and him being undersized, the 76ers never benefited from this aspect. In turn, he took very difficult shots that constituted poor shot selection. [C]Fortunately, next to T-Mac, he'd have less of a problem. With the off-ball movement of Tracy and his quick release (50% FG of assisted 3pt attempts), Iverson would be more open to spreading the ball out. Likewise, Tracy would be more willing to pass with another scoring machine alongside him. [C]Offensively, the 76ers would likely succeed with these two, so you can expect that they would get a top 5 ORtg consistently.  [C]Now, the defense is something we need to cover, as this duo wouldn't be completely spotless. Lacking on-ball defense, AI was never that good of a defender beside his knack for creating turnovers. Tracy, meanwhile, had the physical traits to be a capable defender but fell short of his defensive potential due to effort. [C]Thankfully, they'd be covered. On that 76ers team, they would add Dikembe Mutombo before the '00-'01 season, and already had Eric Snow and Theo Ratliff. With the myriad of top-rate defenders, Philly finished with a top 5 DRtg that season, and high placements in other categories such as opponent 3PT%, steals per game, and opponent turnovers. We should also consider that they were under Larry Brown, someone who knew how to improve the defensive capability of any team. [C]Knowing this, we need to see how this team would match up against other contenders. Would they measure up to the talent of teams like the Lakers, and the vigor of the Heat or Pacers? Let's analyze. [BC]  ════ ⋆★⋆ ════   [C]Assuming this team stayed healthy, they would be a top-tier contender. With two all-NBA level players backed by an elite defense, the 76ers would compete with teams such as the Nets, Pistons, Pacers, and more. The only challenges would be the Lakers and Spurs, two franchises with incredible players at the forefront Star-power would not be a problem for the 76ers, though. Say Iverson is completely off his game; Tracy McGrady could step up and have himself a game. Once again, the luxury of having a co-star would be the prominent factor in ensuring success.  [C]Assuming their primes stay in course with reality, these two would be consensus all-NBA players for 8 or more years. During this timeline, you can easily see them reaching the Finals a couple of times or even bringing a title home; potential years for that could be 2003 or 2006.  [C]Of course, we should mention that Iverson was already around the age of 29 in 2003. But given the decent longevity AI had barring injuries, the 76ers would surely be a top-5 seed for years.   [C]The only question is, what levels would the Iverson-McGrady pair reach? Once again, when factoring in health, I doubt they would be as potent offensively post-2006. Still, the sample size wouldn't be tricky if they both averaged 25+ with respectable efficiency (likely they would). [C]This circumstance would be similar to Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry from 2017 to 2019. Only playing 3 seasons together, both players played at an MVP-level for each of those years. They're a consensus top-10 duo ever too, and many fans don't bother about the sample size. [C]Similarly, with a slightly larger sample, the AI and T-Mac duo would likely be grouped in the top 10 offensive duos ever. [BC]════ ⋆★⋆ ════ [C]Upon exiting the 𝗧𝗶𝗺𝗲 𝗠𝗮𝗰𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗲, the men reflect on everything they experienced. In contrast to the original reality, they're painted in a light that portrays them as legends; two pioneers who achieved greatness. In the realm of sports, they're regarded as some of the greatest to ever do it, and their perception is pristine. Not only are they fan favorites, but they have distinguished careers. Compared to the former reality, things have greatly changed, as no longer are they frowned upon. All it took was one possibility coming into fruition to revise history completely, yet it feels so 𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵. These two legends deserve every bit of praise for their achievements.
The time machine content media
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