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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Penn State vs Ohio State Game Recap "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly"

                                                    (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

     The Penn State receiving game was the brightest spot of the night for the Nittany Lions. DaeSean Hamilton made some key receptions, finishing with 126 receiving yards on 14 receptions. Freshman Saeed Blacknall made a marvelous catch in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown and a big catch in the first overtime to set up a touchdown for the Nittany Lions a few plays later.

     The defense also scored a pick six on Anthony Zettel's interception and Mike Hull's INT helped set up the Nittany lions second touchdown


     Special teams. While the defense did its job, the punting game did not make it easy for them as they gave them a short field to defend. Eight punts while netting just an average of 34.5 yards


     Hate to say it, but the refs again did not do their jobs. An early interception which replay clearly showed the ball hit the ground before Vonn Bell had control of it. The Buckeyes Field Goal attempt they made should have also been negated as the play clock read "0" for nearly three seconds before they actually got the snap off. Due to the refs errors, the Buckeyes were spotted 10 points.

     To be fair, Penn State's offensive line did not help much when it had chances to capitalize on good field position a couple of times after its defense did its job to hold the Buckeye offense.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Penn State vs Michigan Game Recap "Good, Bad, & The Ugly"

                                                   (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)


     Sam Ficken was perfect on both of his field goal attempts. Bill Belton was able to get a run game going for the Nittany Lions, rushing for 69 yards on 14 carries. Anthony Zettel's interception in the 2nd quarter set up a 10 yard TD Pass from Christian Hackenberg to DaeSean Hamilton to give Penn State a 13-7 lead


     Penn State also needs to take advantage of scoring touchdowns while in the redzone, as they had to settle for two early field goals on its two first possessions.


     The Penn State Offensive Line allowed 6 sacks and three other times its running game was stopped in the backfield for a loss. Christian Hackenberg threw another interception, which allowed the Wolverines to set up a game tying field goal. This was crucial as both teams struggled offensively and Penn State was not going to get much help from its offensive line and thus be able to move the ball efficiently.

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Sunday, October 5, 2014

2014 Penn State Football Predictions

For the past two years I have both, made season predictions for Penn State Football, and wrote game recaps for each game (I will leave a link to both articles of my season predictions, and all of my game recaps from the past two seasons). We will take a look at each game, give a little summary, and predict outcome as well as the score.
Penn State vs Central Florida
Christian Hackenberg will have a season of experience under his belt, and put in a solid effort last season in the Nittany Lions meeting with the Knights. (21/28 262 passing yards 1 TD). Zach Zwinak ran for three touchdowns. Central Florida will be without Blake Bortles and Storm Johnson. The Knights are returning three of their leading receivers from last year, but Central Florida quarterback Justin Holman will be playing behind an inexperienced offensive line and a much improved Penn State secondary.
Final Score: Penn State 35   Central Florida 24

Actual Result- Penn State 26 Central Florida 24

Penn State vs Akron
Akron finished the 2013 season on a good note by winning its last three games. But despite some improvement, Penn State should still come away with the easy win in this contest
Final Score Penn State 34  Akron 13

Actual Result- Penn State 21 Akron 3

Penn State vs Rutgers
This one may be a surprise test for the Nittany Lions. On paper Penn State are clear favorites, but Rutgers returns 8 starters on offense, including quarterback Gary Nova. But the Scarlet Knights gave up an average of 400 yards on defense per game (412.8). Not to mention 312 yards through the air, where Hackenberg could put on a clinic in this game
Final Score Penn State 45  Rutgers 21

Actual Result- Penn State 13 Rutgers 10

Penn State vs UMass
In what should be a tune up game before entering the heart of the season schedule, the Nittany Lions should run away with this one, and be able to give some players on bottom part of depth chart some playing time
Final Score Penn State 55 UMass 10

Actual Result- Penn State 48  UMass 7

Penn State vs Northwestern
Northwestern always puts up a good fight against Penn State. But expect the Nittany Lions like in recent games before, to take control of this one by the second half with its running attack.
Final Score Penn State 41 Northwestern 31

Actual Result- Northwestern 29  Penn State 6

Penn State vs Michigan
Heading into the Big House is no easy task. It is even harder going into Ann Arbor during primetime. Perhaps another instant classic is in store for us when the Nittany Lions and Wolverines meet up in 2014. Whether or not that is the case, I expect the Wolverines to come out on top in this one.
Final Score Penn State 25 Michigan 35

Actual Result- Michigan 18 Penn State 13

Penn State vs Ohio State
This one will be a lot closer than last year’s embarrassing 63-14 loss in Columbus. Plus this one will also be in primetime, but this time in State College. But in the end Braxton Miller and the Ohio State Buckeyes experience will ultimately win out in this one
Final Score  Penn State 28  Ohio State 38

Actual Result Ohio State 31  Penn State 24

Penn State vs Maryland
The Nittany Lions will face an experienced Maryland team (thanks to injuries that allowed players on bottom of depth chart to receive playing time) If Maryland can stay healthy, it may walk out of Beavier Stadium with a “W”
 Final Score Penn State 28  Maryland 35

Actual Result- Maryland 20 Penn State 19

Penn State vs Indiana
One of the main reasons Penn State lost to Indiana for the first time in school history last season was because they did not stick to the ground game (which Indiana ranked amongst one of the worse last season (110th). If they stick to a sound game plan, control the game clock, and keep Indiana’s offense off the field as long as possible, then the Nittany Lions will avoid another upset.
Final Score  Penn State 44 Indiana 26

Actual Result- Penn State 13-7

Penn State vs Temple
Giving up nearly 300 yards a game through the air last year, Hackenberg will have another day at the office against the Owls secondary.
Final Score  Penn State 48  Temple 17

Actual Result- Penn State 30 Temple 13

Penn State vs Illinois
Illinois was both bad on the run game on both sides of the ball. Penn State is typically good at stopping the run, and a solid run game and performance by both Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton should vault the Nittany Lions past the Fighting Illini
Final Score  Penn State 27  Illinois 16

Actual Result-  Illinois 16 Penn State 14

Penn State vs Michigan State
 The Spartans will have one of the best defenses and ranked 2nd overall in the country last year on route to a 13-1 record which included a Big Ten Championship and a victory in the Rose Bowl over Stanford. The Nittany Lions will have their hands full on offense. But I actually expect Penn State to make this game closer than some may think by putting up a valiant effort on defense as well.
Final Score Penn State 20  Michigan State 24
Final Overall Prediction for 2014 Season: Penn State- Overall 8-4 (Big Ten 4-4)

2014 NFL Predictions

Originally posted on KCSportsNinja on

The NFL Season is almost here, and for the third straight year I will be making my NFL Season predictions. (here are my picks from 2012 and 2013 ) Feel free to leave comments and let me know what you think! Are you ready for some football!?

AFC East
New England Patriots 12-4
Miami Dolphins 9-7
New York Jets 8-8
Buffalo Bills 6-10

AFC North
Cincinnati Bengals 11-5
Baltimore Ravens 9-7
Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7
Cleveland Browns 4-12

AFC South
Indianapolis Colts 11-5
Tennessee Titans 10-6
Houston Texans 8-8
Jacksonville Jaguars 5-11

AFC West
Denver Broncos 12-4
San Diego Chargers 11-5
Kansas City Chiefs 8-8
Oakland Raiders 4-12

NFC East
Philadelphia Eagles 11-5
Dallas Cowboys 9-7
New York Giants 7-9
Washington Redskins 7-9

NFC North
Green Bay Packers 12-4
Chicago Bears 10-6
Detroit Lions 9-7
Minnesota Vikings 5-11

NFC South
New Orleans Saints 12-4
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-6
Atlanta Falcons 8-8
Carolina Panthers 3-13

NFC West
Seattle Seahawks 13-3
San Francisco 49ers 9-7
St. Louis Rams 8-8
Arizona Cardinals 6-10

NFC Wild Card
Green Bay vs Tampa Bay
Philadelphia vs Chicago
NFC Divisional Round
Seattle vs Philadelphia
New Orleans vs Green Bay
NFC Championship
Seattle vs New Orleans
AFC Wild Card
Cincinnati vs Tennessee
Indianapolis vs San Diego
AFC Divisional Round
Denver vs Tennessee
New England vs San Diego
AFC Championship
Denver vs San Diego
Super Bowl
Denver vs New Orleans
Super Bowl Champions
Denver Broncos

NFL MVP – Peyton Manning
NFL Passing Yards Leader-  Drew Brees 5,234 yards
NFL Touchdown Passes Leader- Peyton Manning 48
NFL Rushing Yards Leader- Matt Forte 1,673 yards
NFL Receiving Yards Leader- Calvin Johnson 2,032 yards
Receiving Touchdowns- Demaryius Thomas 15 TD’s
Rushing Touchdowns- Marshawn Lynch 14 TD’s
Sacks- Robert Quinn 21
Interceptions- Brandon Boykin 9
Rookie of the Year- Sammy Watkins
So there you have it. Those are my 2014 NFL predictions. If you agree, disagree, or think I’m crazy let me know!  But remember, these aren’t anything official, just predictions. And if any of us did have the actual answers Vegas would go broke!
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Derek Jeter “All Time Yankee”

Derek Jeter has publicly announced via Facebook that the 2014 Major League Baseball (MLB) will be his last.

Former New York Yankees Bench Coach Don Zimmer made a statement back in 2009 regarding Derek Jeter “He might go down, when it’s all over, as the all time Yankee.” Perhaps a bold statement to make considering the other of handful of greats who have dawned the navy pinstripes. Names like Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gerhig, Joe Dimaggio, Don Mattingly along many other Yankee greats. But when you think about it and put the numbers and accolades together, Don Zimmer is right!

     After a brief call up in 1995, Derek Jeter has been a mainstay of the New York Yankees since 1996, in which he would be named that year’s “American League Rookie of the Year”. During his time in New York Jeter helped the Yankees to five world series championships and was named the 2000 World Series MVP. Along with his A.L. Rookie of the Year and world series championships and MVP, Jeter has been voted to 13 All-Star Games, is both a 5 time Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award winner, and a recipient of the A.L. Hank Aaron Award twice. Jeter is a also member of the prestigious 3,000 Hit Club (And the only New York Yankee and player to achieve the feat playing on one team) and is currently in the top 10 for the most hits in MLB history (3,316). Jeter also holds team records for most games played and stolen bases, records previously held by Mickey Mantle and Ricky Henderson respectively. To date Jeter has a life time batting average of .312, with 256 Home Runs and 1,261 runs batted in (RBI).

     It is easy to see why Derek Jeter will be one of the first names you think of when you hear or discuss some of the New York Yankees all time greats.  Jeter himself stated  “I want to be remembered as someone who had a lot of respect for the game, his teammates and opponents, and I want to be remembered as a winner. But most importantly I want to be remembered as a Yankee”. When the 2014 season comes to a close, there is no denying the historical impact not only on the New York Yankees, but Major League Baseball as a whole that Derek Jeter will have made!
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NBA Mt. Rushmore- Who’s On Yours?

Just recently, both Kobe Bryant and LeBron James offered each of their own NBA versions of Mt. Rushmore. Both Bryant and James’ list were almost exactly the same. Both picked Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson. Kobe picked Bill Russell while LeBron went with Oscar Robertson. So the question I want to bring up is who would be your NBA Mt Rushmore? Any similar picks as Bryant and James? Any differences? Feel free to share your NBA version of Mt. Rushmore!
My NBA Mt. Rushmore-  1. Michael Jordan  2. Wilt Chamberlin  3.Kareem Abdul Jabbar  4. Hakeem Olajuwon

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The Best NCAA Men’s Basketball Coaches of All Time

Originally posted on KCSportsNinja on March 23, 2014

*This list is not in any particular*

    John Wooden
John Wooden aka “The Wizard of Westwood”- Wooden would go on to win 10 National Championships, including seven in a row! Wooden would go on to be inducted in 1961 to the Basketball Hall of Fame, and eventually go on to be inducted into the the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 as well. Wooden posted a career coaching record of 664 wins and 162 losses. (a winning percentage of 804)

Tom Izzo
Even though he has just one National Championship, when it comes time for the NCAA Tournament, Tom Izzo is very dangerous and no team should take him or the Michigan State Spartans lightly!  Izzo has taken the Spartans to six final fours, seven regular seven Big Ten Championships, four Big Ten Tournament champions,and 17 appearances in the NCAA Tournament

 Mike Krzyzewski

When you think of Duke basketball, you automatically think of Mike Krzyzewski. NCAA tournament appearances 30 times, four National Championships and is the the only coach to ever to reach the 900 career milestone in wins all with one team! In addition he has coached team USA to two Gold Medals. Lets not forget after Mercer defeated Duke in the field of 64 and went over to their locker room to congratulate the Bears on a job well done! Coach K is without a doubt a person with a lot of class.

 Rick Pitino

He may have not had the best coaching career in the NBA, but Rick Pitino has had a lot of success at the college level. Pitino has coached two different teams to National Championships, Kentucky and Louisville respectively and the only coach to do so. He has also been the only coach to lead three different teams to the Final Four. (Providence, Kentucky, and Louisville)

 Billy Donovan
Florida had been mainly known for its football program, but Billy Donovan the head coach of the Gators basketball team has put the program on the map. Donovan led the Gators to back-to-back National Champions in 2006 & 2007. This was the first time a school had won back to back National Championships since Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils did so in 1991 & 1992

 Jim Calhoun
Jim Calhoun is one of the only three coaches in NCAA history to win 3 National Championships. Calhoun also led Connecticut to of four Final Fours, 10 Big East regular season championships, and 7 Big East Tournaments Championships. Calhoun finished his coaching career with 866 wins, and was inducted into the the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005, as well as the College Basketball Hall of Fame the following year

 Roy Williams
While at Kansas, Roy Williams made the Championship game and failed twice in both of those game. As the old cliche goes “Third times a charm” well that happened to be the case with Williams. In the 2004-05 seas0n he lead the North Carolina Tar Heels to its first National Championship in 12 years. (1993). After finally getting that burden of his back, four years later in the 2008-09 season, he lead the Tar Heels to another National Championship. As a Tar Heels fan, I have seen on numerous occasions him getting in the game himself and would and still does, gets excited whenever his team was stepping up showings a lot of passion! Williams was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Dean Smith
North Carolina’s basketball court after one of the greatest coaches of all time, Dean Smith! Smith lead the Tar Heels to two national championships and 11 Final Fours. Smith was named the National Coach of the Year four times (1977, 1979, 1982, 1993) Dean’s success was not only limited with North Carolina, he also led the 1976 U.S. Olympics Men’ Basketball game to a Gold Medal! Smith has the most NCAA tournament appearances as a coach and has the second most Final Four berths (John Wooden had 12.)

Jim Boeheim
Not only is Jim Boeheim the coach of the Syracuse Orange, but it happens to be his Alma Mater as well! Since 1976, Boeheim has an astounding  total of 948 wins since being named head coach! In 2010, Boeheim had many accolades, such as the Big East Coach of the Year, Naismith College, College Coach of the Year,  AP Coach of the Year, NABC Coach of the Year, Henry Iba Award, The Sporting News Coach of the Year, and the 2010 Big East Coach of the Year!

Lute Olson
During the 1997 , Lute Olson led his Arizona Wildcats to a National Championship. On top of that, Olson led the Wildcats to three victories against #1 seeds en-route  to their National Title. Olson also took the Wildcats to five Final Fours, won the Pac 1o (now Pac 12) tournament four times and 11 regular season championships. Before he came to Arizona, Olson also led the Iowa Hawkeyes to a Final Four appearance in the 1979-80 season.

Adolph Rupp
I would be a fool if I did not have Adolph Rupp on this list!n Rupp led the Kentucky Wildcats to 876 wins, 3 National Champions and a NIT Championship! Rupp would also led the Wildcats to six Final Fours, was named National Coach of the Year five times as well as a seven time SEC Coach of the Year!

Bobby Knight
One of my favorite coaches of all time is Bobby Knight due to his numerous antics he displayed which left me in tears due to laughter. One quote he used was one of the best I ever heard, “When my time on earth is gone, and my activities here are past, I want they bury me upside and my critics can kiss my ass!” That aside, Knight captured three National Championships, including an undefeated season in 1975-1976. Also, just like Mike Krzyzewski, Knight has two Olympics Gold Medals as Team USA’s head coach.

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10 of The Greatest Basketball Players To Never Win A NBA Championship

Originally posted on KCSportsNinja on April 15, 2014

Every sport always has some of its all time greats with many accolades and achievements, but could never capture a championship. The NBA is no stranger to that category as well as we take a look at some of the greatest players ever in its history to never win a title.

Allen Iverson
He may have been “The Answer” but Allen Iverson never found the right one when it came to capturing an NBA ring. Despite his 2001 MVP Season, Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers would lose to Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and the Los Angeles Lakers in five games. Iverson spent 10 seasons in Philadelphia before moving around from Denver, Detroit, and Memphis. Iverson returned to the Sixers in the 2009-10 season, but was plagued with an injury that cut his season short. In what would be his final NBA season that year, Iverson played one season in the Turkish Basketball League in 2010-11. On October 30, 2013, after a couple years of not playing the sport, Iverson officially announced his retirement from the game of basketball.
4 time NBA Scoring Title winner (1998-99, 2000-01, 2001-02, 2004-05)
11 time NBA All-Star (Won All Star Game MVP twice, 2001-02 & 2004-05)
3 time All NBA First Team
3 time All NBA Second Team
1 time All NBA Third Team
2001 NBA MVP
1997 NBA Rookie of the Year
NBA All Rookie Team (1997)
NBA Rookie Challenge MVP (1997) Now known as “Rising Stars Challenge”
3 time NBA Steals Leader (2001-2003)
Jersey Number (3) retired by Philadelphia 76ers
1 NBA Finals Appearance

Karl Malone
Despite being the all-time leading scorer in Utah Jazz history, “The Mailman” Karl Malone could not deliver an NBA Championship. Utah made back to back NBA Final appearances in 1997 and 1998, but fell to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls both times in six games. Malone would get another chance however, this time with the Lakers in 2004. On paper, the Lakers looked like a superior team than that of the Utah Jazz team’s Malone was on which featured Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Gary Payton, Derek Fisher, and former teammate Bryon Russell. L.A. faced off against the Eastern Conference Champions, Detroit Pistons. After losing Game 1, the Lakers bounced back to tie the series at 1-1, but from that point on it was all Detroit. The Pistons used their defense to slow down the high scoring Lakers offense and defeated them in five games. The 2004 season would end up being Malone’s last and in the end the “Mailman” could never find the right address.
2 time NBA MVP (1997, 1999)
14 time NBA All-Star
2 time NBA All-Star MVP
11 Time All NBA First Team
2 Time All NBA Second Team
1 Time All NBA Third Team
3 Time All-Defensive First Team
1 Time All Defensive Second Team
NBA All Rookie Team (1986)
NBA’S 50th Anniversary All Time Team
Jersey Number  (32) retired by Utah Jazz
Utah Jazz all time leading scorer (36,594 points as a Jazz)
One of only five players in NBA history who have compiled at least 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists. (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Charles Barkley, Kevin Garnett)
3 NBA Final appearances
John Stockton
John Stockton and Karl Malone created an effective one-two punch during their days in Utah. The story is pretty much the same for Stockton as it was for Malone (with the exception of Malone making it to the Finals in 2004) where they each came up short in the NBA Finals, falling to the Chicago Bulls both times. Stockton owns two prestigious all time NBA records, all time assists leader and all time steals leader. Stockton could not deliver the biggest assist and steal a NBA title in either of his appearances in the Finals.
10 time NBA All-Star (1993 NBA All Star Game MVP)
9 time NBA Assist Leader (1988-1996)
2 time NBA Steals Leader (1989, 1992)
2 time All NBA First Team
6 time All NBA Second Team
3 time All NBA Third Team
5 time NBA All Defensive Second Team
NBA’s 50th Anniversary All Time Team
Jersey number (12) retired by Utah Jazz
NBA All Time Assists Leader (15,806)
NBA All Time Steals Leader (3,265)
2 NBA Final appearances
Charles Barkley
Charles Barkley was drafted in 1984 by the Philadelphia 76ers which featured star players Moses Malone, “Dr. J” Julius Erving, and Maurice Cheeks. By 1989 the three players were no longer with the organization (Malone traded in the 1986-87 season with Erving retiring at the conclusion of that year as well, and Cheeks left Philadelphia) and Barkley presumably became the team’s star. Despite individual success, Barkley was not happy and wanted out of Philadelphia. A trade in the 1992 off-season sent him to the Phoenix Suns. Barkley instantly found both individual and team success as he was named league MVP and Phoenix posting a 62-20 record, the leagues best in the 1992-93 season. Though it was not easy, the Suns went through the Western Conference and appeared in the Finals that year against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Even with home court advantage, Barkley and the Suns still came up short and lost in six games. Barkley spent three more seasons in Phoenix, none in which they made it past the Western Conference Semi-Finals. In what was a last ditch attempt to obtain a NBA title, Barkley was traded to the Houston Rockets prior to the 1996-97 season to form a trio with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. In his first season with Houston, Barkley and the Rockets made it to the Western Conference Finals before being eliminated in six games by the Utah Jazz. In the following two seasons the Rockets failed to make it past the first round. The 1999-00 season would end up being Barkley’s last due to a severe injury that was career ending when he ruptured his left quadriceps tendon.
1993 NBA MVP
10 time NBA All-Star (1991 All Star Game MVP)
5 time All NBA First Team
5 time All NBA Second Team
1 time All NBA Third Team
NBA All Rookie First Team (1985)
NBA Rebound Leader (1986-1987)
Jersey number (34) retired by both Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns
NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team
One of only five players in NBA history who have compiled at least 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists. (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett)
1 NBA Final appearance

Patrick Ewing
Drafted 1st overall in 1985 by the New York Knicks, Patrick Ewing continued his dominance from his college career and won the 1986 Rookie of the Year. Ewing helped the Knicks become title contenders, but like others on the list he ran into Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls! The Knicks faced the Bulls six times in the playoffs during Ewing’s career in New York and went 1-5. The series that New York did win was after the season that Michael Jordan announced his 1st retirement. After defeating Chicago in the 2nd round, Ewing would lead the Knicks into the 1994 NBA Finals against the Houston Rockets in which they held a 3-2 series lead. The Knicks however, would fail to clinch and lost the next two games by just a combined 8 points. Between 1995-98, the New York Knicks failed to make it past the 2nd round. In 1999, Ewing and the Knicks made a surprising run to the NBA Finals as the #8 seed in the East, defeating Miami, Atlanta, and Indiana respectively along the way. Unfortunately an Achilles injury that Ewing had been plagued with forced him to sit out the remainder of the Finals against the San Antonion Spurs who would go on to defeat the Knicks in five games to capture the franchises first title. The following season, which would be Ewing’s last in New York, the Knicks met the Indiana Pacers in an Eastern Conference Championship rematch from last year, but with Indiana coming out on top this time. Ewing played one season in Seattle before playing his last season in Orlando and retiring there after.
11 time NBA All-Star
1986 Rookie of the Year
1 time All NBA First Team
6 time All NBA Second Team
3 time NBA All Defensive Second Team
NBA All Rookie Team (1986)
NBA Rookie of the Year (1986)
New York Knicks All Time Leading Scorer (23, 665 points as a Knick)
Jersey number (33) retired by New York Knicks
NBA’s 50th Anniversary All Time Team
2 NBA Final appearances
Reggie Miller
Arguably one of the best clutch players in NBA history, Reggie Miller was always fun to watch and when faced with adversity it would be “Miller Time”. One of Miller’s most memorable moments was when he scored 8 points in 8.9 seconds during a playoff game against the New York Knicks. New York had a six point lead over the Indiana Pacers when Miller hit a three, stole the inbound pass, stepped back for another three and tied the game! Miller hit two free throws to complete the remarkable comeback. Another memorable “Miller Time” moment came in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals against the Chicago Bulls. Guarded by Michael Jordan, Miller hit a game winning three point shot to tie the series at two games a piece. The Bulls however would ultimately go on to win the series in seven games. Miller finally guided the Pacers to an NBA Finals appearance in 2000, but would lose in six against the L.A. Lakers who were led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. The closest Miller ever got to returning to the Finals was in 2004 before ultimately being eliminated by eventual champions Detroit Pistons. The following season would be Miller’s last and would again be eliminated by the Pistons in six games, this time in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals
5 time NBA All Star
3 time All NBA Third Team
NBA All Rookie Second Team (1988)
2004 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award
50-40-90 Club (1994)
Indiana Pacers all-time leading scorer (25,279 points)
Jersey number (31) retired by Indiana Pacers
1 NBA Final appearance

Dominique Wilkins
Known as “The Human Highlight Reel” Dominique Wilkins is known for being one of the best dunkers in NBA history. Wilkins who was a recipient of the NBA’s Slam Dunk Champion twice, spent 11 1/2 seasons with the Atlanta Hawks and is the franchise’s all time leading scorer. During his time in Atlanta, Wilkins and the Hawks never made it past the second round. In 1994, Wilkins was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, who would go on to be eliminated in the first round of that year’s playoffs. Wilkins signed with the Boston Celtics in the off-season prior to the 1994-95 season. After a year in Boston, Wilkins split his last four year in the NBA and foreign leagues before calling it a career in 1999.
9 time NBA All Star
1 time All NBA First Team
4 time All NBA Second Team
2 time All NBA Third Team
NBA All Rookie Team (1983)
1 time NBA Scoring Champion (1986)
2 time NBA Slam Dunk Contest Champion (1985, 1990)
Atlanta Hawks all-time leading scorer (23,292 points)
Jersey number (21) retired by Atlanta Hawks
0 NBA Final appearances

George Gervin
George Gervin first started his professional career out with the Virginia Squires of the ABA. Gervin, who was also known as “The Iceman” was shipped to the San Antonio Spurs, who were also part of the ABA upon his arrival, joined the NBA in 1976. Gervin won the NBA Scoring Title 4 times (only Wilt Chamberlin and Michael Jordan have more). Gervin and the Spurs made it to the Conference Finals three times during his tenure with San Antonio, with 1979 being the closest where they ultimately fell in seven games to the Washington Bullets (Now known as the Washington Wizards). Gervin finished his NBA career in the 1985-86 season with a Chicago Bulls team that was led by a young Michael Jordan. The Bulls were eliminated in the first round and Gervin would finish his basketball career in 1990 before making stops in an Italian League, a year with the CBA’s Quad City Thunder, and a year in Spain.
9 time NBA All Star (MVP of 1980 All-Star Game)
5 time All NBA First Team
2 time All NBA Second Team
4 time NBA Scoring Champion
3 time ABA All Star
2 time All ABA Second Team
ABA All Rookie First Team (1973)
Jersey number (44) retired by San Antonio Spurs
NBA’s 50th Anniversary All Time Team
ABA All Time Team

Pete Maravich
Even though his career was short, Pete Maravich was one of the greatest ball handlers the sports of basketball has ever seen! Maravich earned the name “Pistol Pete” due to his delivery of shooting the ball near his hips. Maravich would wow spectators with his amazing and effective passing and dribbling abilities. Unfortunately injuries over the years began to take its toll on Maravich, forcing him to cut his career short and retire after only 10 seasons in the NBA. Maravich would tragically die at the young age of 40 during a pick up game of basketball in 1988.
5 time NBA All Star
2 time All NBA First Team
2 time All NBA Second Team
NBA All Rookie Team (1971)
1 time NBA Scoring Champion
Jersey number (7) retired both by Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans
NBA’s 50th Anniversary All Time Team
0 NBA Final appearances

Dikembe Mutombo
One of the best shot blockers ever in the NBA, Dikembe Mutombo presence’s was felt quickly. Drafted by the Nuggets in 1991, Mutombo and Denver made history during his third season with the team when they became the first number 8 seed to beat a 1 seed in NBA Playoff history. After five seasons with Denver, Mutombo signed a contract in the 1996 off-season with the Atlanta Hawks. During his four seasons there, the Hawks failed to make it past the 2nd round. Midway through the 2000-01 season, Mutombo was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers to counter the Western Conference’s big men’s Tim Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal. Mutombo and the 76ers would meet O’Neal and the Lakers in the NBA Finals and jumped out to a 1-0 series lead after upsetting Los Angeles in Game 1. The Lakers would bounce right back though, and take the next four games to win the series and 2001 championship. Mutombo spent one more season in Philadelphia before signing with the New Jersey Nets (now known as the Brooklyn Nets) in 2002-03, where he was used in more of a reserve role. The Nets made it all the way to the Finals that year where they met Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs. The Nets split the first four games with the Spurs before San Antonio won the next two too clinch the series. Mutombo would spend a season in New York and finish out the remainder of his career with the Houston Rockets, where again he was used in a backup role. Mutombo’s final game came in Game 2 of the 1st round of the 2009 Playoffs, during which he suffered a ruptured tendon in quadriceps on his left knee.
8 time NBA All Star
1 time All NBA Second Team
2 time All NBA Third Team
4 time NBA Defensive Player of the Year
3 time NBA All Defensive First Team
3 time NBA All Defensive Second Team
NBA All Rookie Team (1992)
2 time NBA Rebounding Champion
3 time NBA Blocking Champion
2 NBA Final appearances
Certainly these players all have decorated careers, but would have loved to added a championship ring to their collection. There are definitely many others who could make this list, and many more will join it in the future. Who do you think are some of the all time greats not listed here to have never won an NBA Championship? Feel free to leave your opinion and share it and this article with others!

Honoring Hockey Great Vic Hadfield

 (originally posted on KCSportsNinja on July 30, 2014)

Mainly remembered for his career with the New York Rangers, more hockey fans should know more about hockey great Vic Hadfield. Hadfield spent 13 seasons with the Rangers and led them to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1972. That year Hadfield scored 50 goals (and added 56 assists for a total of 106 points), and is only one of three players to score 50 or more goals in a season for the New York Rangers (Adam Graves, Jaromir Jagr).

Being one of only three players to do that while playing for the Rangers is quite an accomplishment, considering other hockey greats like Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky. While Gretzky was near the end of his career, in the two of the three seasons he was with the Rangers, he totaled 90 or more points. Mark Messier however was still in his prime when he played for New York during his first stint with the team, and led them to a Stanley Cup Title in 1994 (The team’s first in 54 years). In first six seasons with the Rangers, Messier recorded 518 points, but unlike Hadfield, he did not reach the 50 goal mark 
during his stint with New York. The closest Messier came was in the 1995-96 season with 47 goals.

One other reason that got me interested in doing a piece on Hadfield was the fact he had played for the Pittsburgh Penguins (my favorite team)! Hadfield scored 73 and 65 points respectively in his first two seasons with the Pens. An interesting note about Hadfield is that early on in his career he struggled offensively, but in the 1967-68 season he reached the 20 goal mark for the first time and would never fail to reach the mark again. But Hadfield had some history of being plagued by injuries, and in his third season with the Penguins during the 1975-76 season he suffered a serious knee injury that forced him into retirement.

I think hockey fans in general need to acknowledge Hadfield a bit more, (and I hope my fellow Penguin fans feel the same way). finishing with 712 career points (323 Goals, 389 Assists) it would be a shame not to recognize and honor Hadfield’s accomplishments.

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Who Are Currently The Top 5 NHL Goaltenders?

     (originally posted on KCSportsNinja on July 24, 2014)

           The other day I was actually on the phone with a head coach from the NHL. One of the questions he asked me was who I thought were the top five goaltenders in the NHL today. Right away I was able to name three that quickly came to mind, Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings, Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, and Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins. I struggled to name who I thought the remaining two were to fill up the top five.

     I threw out names like Roberto Luongo, Marc Andre Fleury, even Montreal Canadiens backup Justin Tokarski, because I was so impressed with his performance during the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers. I even mentioned to this NHL coach that I think Tokarski is someone to look out for in the future and maybe a star goaltender one day. I was able to eliminate goaltenders who I feel were not worthy of being in the top five. In my opinion, I do not feel Chicago’s Corey Crawford is the reason for the Blackhawks success in general, rather it is their firepower from top to bottom that has made the team so great.  Vancouver’s Ryan Miller although good, I am not sold on him being great.
So who are the other two goalies that would round out my top five? Now that I have had a few days to ponder it, I was able to think carefully and finally named the other two goalies, Nashville Predators 

     Pekka Rinne and Columbus Blue Jackets Sergei Bobrovsky. While Rinne is coming off an infection in his hip, you cannot deny what he has done in Nashville as remarkable. Rinne won a total of 108 games from 2010-12, leading the Predators to three straight playoff appearances and was named as a Vezina Trophy Finalist in both 2011 and 2012. In the 2012-13 strike shortened season, Rinne tied for the most shutouts recorded (5) with four other goaltenders. (Tukka Rask, Mike Smith, Cory Schneider, and Jimmy Howard)

     For Bobrovsky, he immediately impressed me in his NHL debut with the Philadelphia Flyers back on October 7, 2010 in a 3-2 win over their rival Pittsburgh Penguins. Bobrovsky had an outstanding rookie season, posting a 28-13-8 mark and a .915 save percentage. Unfortunately Bobrovsky hit a speed bump in the playoffs and was benched in favor of Brian Boucher. The Flyers would go on to sign Ilya Bryzgalov to a 9 year contract (a decision that would quickly backfire on Philadelphia) and trade Bobrovsky to the Blue Jackets the follow year. Unlike Bryzgavlov, Bobrovsky continued to improve and would win the the Vezina in 2013 with a 21-11-6 mark with a .932 save percentage. The following season he would help the Blue Jackets to the playoffs and guide the franchise to its first playoff victory, a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Columbus would win another game before the Penguins ultimately won the series in 6 games. Even so, Bobrovsky continues to excel and will make Columbus a legitimate playoff contender each season if he maintains his trend of success.

     With that, my current list of the top five goalies in the NHL is set. Jonathan Quick, Henrik Lundqvist, Tukka Rask, Pekka Rinne, and Sergei Bobrovsky are at the top of the food chain. But I want to make it clear like I did with the NHL coach I spoke to, and that being that this is the greatest goaltender of all time!

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