Monday, 18th February 2019

Retro Reviews: When the Game Was Ours

Posted on 05. Jul, 2018 by FSM Staff in General Sports, NBA

Retro Reviews: When the Game Was Ours

Reading this book has the same effect as stepping in to a time machine and setting the dial for any year in the 1980’s. Sure, there is some discussion of 1979, the early nineties, and a few events in this century, but for the most part, When the Game Was Ours is a beautifully written sports chronicle anchored in one of the greatest eras in NBA history. There is a beginning and an end to the story of Magic Johnson versus Larry Bird, but it is the middle of the journey that is the highlight of this collaboration written by Johnson, Bird, and sports journalist (as well as Around the Horn alumni) Jackie MacMullan.

The book is easy to follow and alternates between Magic and Bird’s anecdotes. It is a nice treat for sports fans to hear directly from both men about some of the biggest moments in NBA history. Many famous and not so famous names pop up throughout the voyage. Both Magic and Larry are straight forward and pull no punches. This is not one of those “dirt” books however. Besides some disturbing comments Magic makes about Isiah Thomas during the time of his HIV announcement, When the Game Was Ours is relatively drama free.

The impact of Magic and Bird’s rivalry on the struggling NBA in the early 80’s is well documented in this book. Former league commissioner David Stern’s role in turning the NBA’s fortunes around is discussed many times as well. Sports fans will have a new respect for Stern after reading this tale. His intelligence and creativity helped bring the NBA brand back in to the mainstream and his attempts to globalize the league are truly groundbreaking in sports.

There is also talk about Michael Jordan in this book though not as much as one might expect. This should not be too surprising however as this is not his book. When the Game Was Ours is based solely on events experienced mutually between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Those events usually involved the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, though this book is not exclusive to that storied rivalry. You will bump in to many familiar names and happenings from the last thirty years as you read and everything and everyone will always somehow connect back to Magic and Bird. That is the beauty of this book and this story. Magic and Bird’s fierce rivalry and eventual friendship transcended basketball and had an impact on many aspects of social life.

When the Game Was Ours is highly recommended for both casual and avid readers. You do not have to be a sports fan to appreciate the story that is being told. There is nothing complex or cryptic about Jackie MacMullan’s writing style. She tells a famous tale in simple fashion. There is an accurate account of events and her descriptions often conjured up some of my favorite NBA memories that I had completely forgotten about. Many direct quotes from NBA greats are included as well which is an added bonus. It was nice to get insight from people besides Johnson and Bird when certain topics were being discussed. For 324 pages you will be transported to a time when the game truly belonged to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Some of the highlights of your trip will include:

*1979 NCAA Championship Game between Indiana State and Michigan State

*1984 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers

*1985 “Choose Your Weapon” Converse commercial where the Magic/Bird friendship begins

*1987 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers

*1992 NBA All Star Game in Orlando, Florida where Magic comes back for the first time after announcing he is HIV positive

*1992 Dream Team going for Olympic Gold in Barcelona, Spain

A Letter to the NBPA and NBA Owners

Posted on 12. Jul, 2011 by FSM Staff in Highlight, NBA

A Letter to the NBPA and NBA Owners

Dear NBPA & NBA Owners,

I am writing to inform you that I am also engaging in a lockout. My situation is far direr than that of the NBA players and owners. For nearly 20 years I have been investing my time and money in the NBA, and I have yet to see any returns on my investment. Roughly 10% of my pathetic $35,000 annual salary goes to tickets, merchandise, memorabilia, parking, beer, and nachos. I used to have no problem spreading my money around to the NBA, but the players have made me see the light. Why would should I keep making someone else rich if they don’t want to share their profits with me? Even if the 2011-12 NBA season goes on as scheduled, I still plan to employ a lockout until the following fan demands are met:

-The NBA owners must do as much as possible to cover up news reports of players behaving badly. Perhaps the media outlets in North Korea can be used as a model. Andrew Bynum will still be allowed to “make it rain” by throwing his cash up in the air, the hard working fans just don’t need to see it or know about it because it makes us feel bad. Also, players should not be allowed to show off the ridiculous material possessions they have purchased with fan money on MTV Cribs.

-The NBA players must admit that what they do for a living is not important – at all. They throw a little ball through a metal ring. If the NBA were to end forever, the world would go on without missing a beat.

-The NBA players and NBA owners must share their wealth with the cotton candy guy at your local stadium. You know the guy I’m talking about – he’s worked there for 10 years and drives home every night in his Datsun with the primer paint job. He is also still enthusiastic about selling cotton candy for some reason.

-Offering contracts like Eric Dampier’s $60 million deal should be punishable by jail time, or possibly the death penalty.

-Fans will get back 1% of every dollar they spend on the NBA as a show of appreciation for making NBA players and owners filthy stinkin’ rich.

-NBA players will admit that their life is not as hard as they claim. Traveling from town to town on a private jet and playing sports is not a tough life. Having money, women, and weed available at all times is actually fun and can lead to good times, even if you are married.

-At least one NBA player has to come out of the closet as being gay and that player must be accepted by everyone. We know players and owners are greedy, but we’re not so sure they are good, empathetic people.

Once these demands are met, I may consider watching the NBA again. Actually, I would even settle if you meet me half way – it’s called a compromise in case you are unfamiliar with the term. Until then, it will be nothing but Major League Soccer for me because I think I make more money than most of those guys and I harbor no resentment towards any of them whatsoever.

Terry to Remove Tattoo if Mavs Lose

Posted on 30. May, 2011 by FSM Staff in General Sports, NBA

Terry to Remove Tattoo if Mavs Lose

On October 19th 2010, before the NBA season officially began, Jason Terry got together with his Dallas Mavericks teammate DeShawn Stevenson for a tattoo party of sorts. It was there that Terry got a tattoo of the Larry O’Brien trophy on one of his biceps, a gesture that was intended to motivate his team and remind them of the ultimate prize.

“It just symbolized the fact that we had a realistic shot of getting here,” an upbeat Terry told reporters. “If I didn’t think we had a chance, I wouldn’t have put it there.”

The Dallas Mavericks have been steam rolling through the NBA Playoffs, so the tattoo certainly did not hurt. Now the outspoken and superstitious Terry is at again. He announced to the world that he would have the tattoo removed if the Mavs fail to capture their first championship in the upcoming NBA Finals against the Miami Heat.

“I definitely know that it will hurt worse if I have to take this thing off than it did putting it on,” a brutally honest Terry said. He is embracing Dallas’ underdog status and is looking forward to avenging a 2006 NBA Finals loss to a then Dwayne Wade – Shaquille O’Neal led Miami Heat.

“Everybody knows that they’re picking Miami to win. We know that,” said Terry. “It really doesn’t matter to us. We know we’re very focused right now. We know what the job is and we know how we have to get it done.”

The NBA Finals start May 31st and can be seen on ABC.

Goodbye Tractor

Posted on 11. May, 2011 by FSM Staff in General Sports, NBA

Goodbye Tractor

It is with great sadness that FreeSportsMag is reporting on the death of former NBA player Robert “Tractor” Traylor. Traylor’s body was discovered earlier today at his apartment in Puerto Rico where he was recently living while playing for the Bayamon Cowboys. It is believed that the 34 year-old Traylor passed away as a result of a heart attack.

Many remember Tractor Taylor during his college days playing for Michigan. He also played for seven seasons in the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets. Those who knew him described him as a gentle giant that cared for others.

Click here to learn more about Robert Traylor. R.I.P. Tractor.

NBA Jam Session Scores With Fans

Posted on 20. Feb, 2011 by FSM Staff in General Sports, NBA

NBA Jam Session Scores With Fans

David Stern’s well oiled basketball machine rolled in to Downtown Los Angeles this weekend for the annual NBA All Star game. The game brings with it three days of festivities and goodies for fans of all ages. FreeSportsMag was on hand this Saturday getting a taste of the All Star life at NBA Jam Session, a fan festival of sorts that runs from Friday to Monday during the All Star break.

Jam Session took place next to Staples at the enormous Los Angeles Convention Center. The masses were out in full force and a pleasant, playful vibe was in the air. Fans were made to feel special upon entrance in to the event getting to walk down a hardwood path surrounded by volunteers smacking thunder sticks and giant murals of NBA stars hanging on the walls.

Fans of hoop could spend the entire day at Jam Session without getting bored. Many activities and exhibits filled the convention center with the more popular attractions having the longer lines. Photo opportunities were plenty and there seemed to be an emphasis on hands-on interaction. Fans had a chance to take pictures with championship trophies and could even insert themselves in to the L.A. team photo.

Most youngsters enjoyed basketball challenges that were setup throughout the event. It was fun watching kids shoot, dribble, and have a good time. It was even better to watch grown adults try to slam dunk on eight foot rims. More avid fans of the game enjoyed historical exhibits and memorabilia showcases. Team USA had a booth and the Basketball Hall of Fame displayed some items that struck a nostalgic chord with many fans.

A mix of NBA legends and current players were sprinkled through the event at various times during the day. Dwayne Wade made an appearance at the T-Mobile booth while Robert Horry helped coach a youth team from China that was playing in an exhibition. Norm Nixon signed free autographs and every once and a while an official team mascot could be spotted stirring up some benign mayhem.

The NBA got it right with the Jam Session event. Catch it if you can when the All Star game rolls through your town.

In Review: Pistol

Posted on 14. Aug, 2010 by FSM Staff in General Sports, NBA

In Review: Pistol

Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich takes the reader on a surprising journey through light and dark while telling the tale of a basketball legend that will not be soon forgotten. Perhaps the quote that appears on the soft cover version of this intriguing biography written by Mark Kriegel summarizes this literary effort best by stating that, “His game was lordly, inimitable, and he should have been the greatest player to ever play the game. This great book will explain why he was not…”

I was excited to read this book for a few reasons. Primarily I wanted to learn a little more about the legendary Pistol Pete as he terrorized opponents in the NBA before my time as a fan (and as a human being). Secondarily, the book’s first couple of pages are lined with nearly 50 quotes from people in the media who are singing its praises. I figured so many experts couldn’t be wrong and delved in to 323 pages of basketball history with high expectations.

Pistol reads more like a chronicle than a biography. Many names and dates are hurled at the reader often times disrupting the flow of the narrative. Kriegel succeeds in providing a highly detailed account of Pete Maravich’s life but it comes at a cost. This is not the typical page turning sports biography which may be unappealing to a less seasoned reader. It is more of a textbook about the Maravich family beginning with a lengthy background about Pistol’s notorious father Press Maravich and ending with a melancholy update on what the Pistol’s two sons have been up to in the last few years.

It would be impossible to tell the story of Pistol Pete without mention of his hard driving father and the turmoil he was experiencing in his family life. Kriegel documents a number of incidents and relays many tales when only a few would have sufficed. The thesis of Pistol is perfectly clear and its themes reoccur on nearly every page. Before the reader makes it half way through this book, they will have a good understanding of all the demons the Pistol was dealing with. After a while, the stories of demons become overkill. Pistol takes on a dark tone, and maybe rightfully so, but it would have been nice to read more about Maravich’s exploits as a professional basketball player and the magic he created on the hardwood.

Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich has great historical value for fans of the college and professional game. It answers a multitude of questions including why a guy as talented and skilled as Pete Maravich never won a title or why he will never be considered in the same breath as Michael Jordan or Wilt Chamberlain. But people looking for a quick read or page-turner should try finding their fix elsewhere. Pistol is recommended for avid fans of basketball and sports historians only. The fringe would be better suited to remember Pete Maravich by watching YouTube highlights or the occasional feature on ESPN Classic.

Lorenzen Wright Memorial

Posted on 03. Aug, 2010 by FSM Staff in Highlight, NBA

Lorenzen Wright Memorial

Tragedy seems to be striking the sports world more than usual these days with the recent deaths of Steve McNair and Chris Henry just to name a few. Lorenzen Wright is the latest sports figure to lose his life in what can only be described as a senseless act of violence.

Though the circumstances surrounding Wright’s death are still a mystery, the Memphis Police Department knows one thing for certain: Lorenzen Wright was murdered.

The Memphis police claim to be working hard to solve the case which they have ruled a homicide. Wright’s body was found in the woods outside of Memphis, multiple gunshots being the cause of death. It is not clear why Wright was murdered though there is talk of a high profile Memphis drug dealer being involved. Whatever the circumstances, Lorenzen Wright deserved to exit this life with much more dignity and our heart goes out to him and his family.

Lorenzen Wright is described as a “people person” who “never met a stranger” by close friends. The owner of the Memphis Grizzlies, one of the NBA franchises Wright played for during his 13 year career, said that Wright “…delighted fans on the court with his passion and off the court with his generosity in [the] Memphis community…”

After a productive stint at the University of Memphis, Wright came in to the NBA as the #7 lottery pick with the Los Angeles Clippers. During his lengthy career, he also played for the Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings, and Cleveland Cavaliers. A physical presence in the paint, Wright had career averages of 8 points and 6.4 rebounds while playing in a total of 778 professional games.

A statement made by NBA coaching legend Hubie Brown, who coached Wright during his time with the Memphis Grizzlies, does a good job of summarizing Wright’s career and the impact he had on his teammates:

“In my second season with the team…he helped us win 50 games and make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. He had a physical presence, understood his job, was totally professional and, in our style of play, he excelled. He was well-respected by his peers because of his ability to be flexible. He’s an upbeat guy, and really enjoyed leadership. He was an emotional leader who could also back it up with his physical play.”

Another good guy gone. Rest in Peace Lorenzen Wright.

Cuban’s Pride Costs Mavs

Posted on 04. May, 2010 by FSM Staff in Highlight, NBA

Cuban’s Pride Costs Mavs

In a rare display of public humility, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently apologized to the team’s sullen fans. He had hoped to make a bigger impact in Texas and he did not get the job done. The apology came on the heels of yet another disappointing first round departure in the NBA Playoffs.

“I’m not proud of my inability over the last 10 years to have the impact like I want to have, so I kind of feel like I owe fans an apology,” Cuban was quoted as saying after the 4-2 series loss to the San Antonio Spurs. This “kind of” apology is the best you will get from an alpha dog like Cuban. If he had humbled up six years ago, the Mavericks would probably have a championship banner hanging in the rafters.

For those with bad short term memories (and all the potheads out there), here is what happened six years ago. Steve Nash was a free agent for the Dallas Mavericks. Him and Dirk Nowitzki were two peas in a pod. Always on the same page. Instant offense. Nash expressed interest in staying. Mark Cuban expressed interest in keeping him. The Phoenix Suns had plans of their own however and offered Nash $60 million for 6 years, a hefty deal at the time for a point guard who was 30 years old.

Mark Cuban was adamant that he would not match the offer. He kept perseverating on the $60 million dollar price tag on Nash. It seemed to genuinely irk him. He kept mentioning it was a bad contract given Nash’s age. His actions ultimately led fans to believe that he did not think Nash was worth the money. Cuban faced criticism for his views but he never budged. Steve Nash signed with the Phoenix Suns and won two consecutive MVP trophies. It is impossible to say what could have been had Cuban swallowed his pride and opened his wallet.

Cuban’s refusal to resign Steve Nash is perplexing indeed. What was driving his decision? This is the same guy who gave Eric Dampier the kind of contract Nash was asking for (yes, that Eric Dampier). The same guy who gave an aging, ungrateful Jason Kidd a three year $24 million contract extension. Mark Cuban’s excuse of age and money does not stand the test of time. He has a history of paying more for less.

It is easy to sit back and say that the Mavericks would have won a title had the duo of Dirk/Nash remained intact. It is definitely something to consider though as both have three consecutive MVP awards between them.

Jordan’s Dream is Charlotte’s Nightmare

Posted on 18. Mar, 2010 by FSM Staff in General Sports, NBA

Jordan’s Dream is Charlotte’s Nightmare

Michael Jordan recently said that owning the Charlotte Bobcats is a dream come true. Jordan’s dream might very well end up being a nightmare for sports fans in the North Carolina area. Though number twenty-three is considered the greatest basketball player of all time, his greatness has yet to step foot in to the front office.

The running joke amongst NBA insiders is that Michael Jordan makes deals on the golf course which is also where he spends most of his time. The running joke should be that Michael Jordan now owns an NBA franchise.

Just because you want something really bad doesn’t mean you should have it.

Basketball fans in Charlotte deserve better. Let me rephrase that. PROFESSIONAL basketball fans in Charlotte deserve better. Undoubtedly there are those UNC fanatics that are drooling over Michael Jordan and everyone else UNC related who is affiliated with the Bobcats. But what about the true NBA fans? The ones that saw the birth of the Charlotte Hornets and the scrappy duo of Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning. The ones that were teased by Baron Davis and Jamal Mashburn then screwed by BET mogul Robert Johnson?

The Bobcats’ fortunes did not truly turn around until the hiring of Larry Brown as head coach. Michael Jordan gets credit for one great move and no more. It wasn’t until Brown’s arrival that the team started to add solid role players (the kind you need to win). This is no coincidence as Larry Brown has Michael Jordan’s ear and Jordan is listening.

I wish I could be a fly in the head of a Bobcats fan. Close your eyes and think. Better yet, close your eyes and dream about it. Momentum is building and the team is changing for the better. NBA fans in Charlotte are getting anxious. They are afraid to have hope. It’s looking like the Bobcats will make the playoffs for the first time ever. This is great. Finally things are looking up again. Michael no! Now is not the time. Michael please. You know how Larry gets. He gets itchin’ to move on. We only have a few years left with him and we need to focus on doing some damage in the East. Do you understand? When Larry leaves you’ll be in charge again. No more great suggestions from coach. It will be back to drafting Adam Morrison and trading for Vladimir Radmonovic. Back to trying to get big money players who won’t help us like Jason Richardson. Oh my Michael. It might be worse than I thought….you’ll be the owner too…I think I just had a nightmare.

In Review: When the Game Was Ours

Posted on 24. Jan, 2010 by FSM Staff in General Sports, NBA

In Review: When the Game Was Ours

Reading this book has the same effect as stepping in to a time machine and setting the dial for any year in the 1980’s. Sure, there is some discussion of 1979, the early nineties, and a few events in this century, but for the most part, When the Game Was Ours is a beautifully written sports chronicle anchored in one of the greatest eras in NBA history. There is a beginning and an end to the story of Magic Johnson versus Larry Bird, but it is the middle of the journey that is the highlight of this collaboration written by Johnson, Bird, and sports journalist (as well as Around the Horn alumni) Jackie MacMullan.

The book is easy to follow and alternates between Magic and Bird’s anecdotes. It is a nice treat for sports fans to hear directly from both men about some of the biggest moments in NBA history. Many famous and not so famous names pop up throughout the voyage. Both Magic and Larry are straight forward and pull no punches. This is not one of those “dirt” books however. Besides some disturbing comments Magic makes about Isiah Thomas during the time of his HIV announcement, When the Game Was Ours is relatively drama free.

The impact of Magic and Bird’s rivalry on the struggling NBA in the early 80’s is well documented in this book. League commissioner David Stern’s role in turning the NBA’s fortunes around is discussed many times as well. Sports fans will have a new respect for Stern after reading this tale. His intelligence and creativity helped bring the NBA brand back in to the mainstream and his attempts to globalize the league are truly groundbreaking in sports.

There is also talk about Michael Jordan in this book though not as much as one might expect. This should not be too surprising however as this is not his book. When the Game Was Ours is based solely on events experienced mutually between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Those events usually involved the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, though this book is not exclusive to that storied rivalry. You will bump in to many familiar names and happenings from the last thirty years as you read and everything and everyone will always somehow connect back to Magic and Bird. That is the beauty of this book and this story. Magic and Bird’s fierce rivalry and eventual friendship transcended basketball and had an impact on many aspects of social life.

When the Game Was Ours is highly recommended for both casual and avid readers. You do not have to be a sports fan to appreciate the story that is being told. There is nothing complex or cryptic about Jackie MacMullan’s writing style. She tells a famous tale in simple fashion. There is an accurate account of events and her descriptions often conjured up some of my favorite NBA memories that I had completely forgotten about. Many direct quotes from NBA greats are included as well which is an added bonus. It was nice to get insight from people besides Johnson and Bird when certain topics were being discussed. For 324 pages you will be transported to a time when the game truly belonged to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Some of the highlights of your trip will include:

*1979 NCAA Championship Game between Indiana State and Michigan State

*1984 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers

*1985 “Choose Your Weapon” Converse commercial where the Magic/Bird friendship begins

*1987 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers

*1992 NBA All Star Game in Orlando, Florida where Magic comes back for the first time after announcing he is HIV positive

*1992 Dream Team going for Olympic Gold in Barcelona, Spain

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