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Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan Headline 2020 Hall of Fame Finalists

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The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced the finalist for the 2020 Hall of Fame Class and there weren’t many surprises.

This Hall of Fame class has long been advertised as one of the best ever, with Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan all being eligible for induction.

Those three legends are all going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, with Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Collangelo saying as much about Bryant in the aftermath of his tragic passing last month.

Bryant was an 18-time All-Star, a five-time NBA Champion and the 2008 NBA MVP.

Duncan was also a five-time champion, with two league MVP’s on his resume (2002, 2003) and was a 15-time All-Star.

Garnett was the 2004 NBA MVP, a 2008 NBA Champion and another 15-time All-Star.

Along with the three headliners, the list of Hall of Fame finalists includes five other names.

Barbara Stevens and Kim Mulkey are a pair of NCAA women’s basketball coaches who were named finalists. Stevens having spent most of her career at Bentley University and Mulkey at Baylor.

Meanwhile Tamika Catchings is the lone WNBA player set to potentially make her way to the Hall of Fame.

Catchings was the 2002 WNBA Rookie of the Year, a 10-time WNBA All-Star, the 2011 WNBA MVP and the 2012 WNBA Finals MVP after winning the championship with the Indiana Fever.

Eddie Sutton and Rudy Tomjanovich round out the list of this year’s Hall of Fame finalists.

Sutton was a two-time AP College Coach of the Year, having coached college basketball in six decades.

Tomjanovich had an 11-year NBA career, in which he averaged 17.4 points and 8.4 rebounds, while being a five-time All-Star.

Along with his playing career, Tomjanovic had an illustrious career as a head coach for the Houston Rockets as well.

The official 2020 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class will be announced on April 4 at 11 a.m. ET as part of men’s Final Four weekend in Atlanta.

Basketball

Did the Elam Ending Fix the All Star Game?

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NBA Players may hate the impact of the 21st century’s blog boys, may hate way math nerds are impacting the style of play, and may long for the game of their childhood… But today players and bloggers alike are talking about how a math professor from Ball State created a format that may have just handed us a new and better way to end the All Star Game.


Dr. Nick Elam watched a lot of basketball to come up with this formula. As many basketball fans, Elam noticed that the last few minutes of a basketball game have turned into fouling and shooting free throws. Logically, teams are gambling that if they can stop the clock they have a shot of playing catchup. Even if the winning team hits both free throws, the losing team has more possessions left to chip into the lead because of how short the winning team’s possessions are.


Elam did some math, figured out some averages, and decided that truthfully all a team needed to win a college basketball game was to score roughly seven points (not off “hack-a” style free throws)in the last four minutes. So, Elam proposed that after four minutes teams should just play to that seven, not for a length of time. If team A is up 60-55 with 4:00 left, the clock is turned off, and the game is first to 67. If the game is close, those possessions become super important, and teams DON’T want to foul. If it’s more like 60-40, the likelihood that team B gets 27 points faster than team A gets 7 is minimal. Either way, the game ends on a made basket. Thus, there’s always a “game winner.”


The Elam Ending was taken on by The Basketball Tournament, with varying approval from fans. While it has a set score from the opening possession, the Big 3 also has found a format that “always has a game winner.” But taking away the clock from an NBA game?


Sunday night, the NBA may have taken its first step. The NBA used the Elam Ending to wrap up the NBA All Star game in Chicago. In honor of the late Kobe Bryant, 24 was added the winning team’s overall score from the first three quarters and called the “target score.” Team Giannis entered the 4th quarter up 133-124, and thus the final score was set at 157. While 24 initially sounded like it might be a short NBA quarter, the commercial free quarter lasted over 45 real life minutes (including the timeouts, free throws, foul reviews, etc.). Team LeBron came storming back, but the pressure was evident in all ten players on the floor down the stretch. The game’s “Game Winner” came in the form of an Anthony Davis free throw after a foul inside.


The next day, everyone is claiming this fixed the NBA All Star game. Truthfully, the game’s fourth quarter was as intense an All-Star game as there has been in twenty or more years. Kyle Lowry, Team Giannis’ point guard in crunch time, was 3 for 5 on charge attempts in the fourth quarter. Joel Embiid tried to dominate the game from the low post, and was met with a swarm of Team LeBron defenders. The game truly became, as Kobe Bryant himself once called it, the greatest pickup game on Earth.


But… Does that mean it’s fixed?


The game’s intensity picked up in the second quarter, when Giannis himself went on a tear. He had 14 of his 25 points in the quarter, but his energy was even more impactful. Whether it was due to the charitable cause or the sheer lack of enthusiasm from his handpicked team, Giannis’ effort was contagious and Team Giannis went nuts. Down the stretch of the third quarter, with $100,000 for charity on the line, both teams clawed their way to a tie before entering the fourth. When the fourth tipped off, the tension was thick enough to see on the court.
But, did it make the game better? We went from seeing uncontested, up and down, lob throwing contests to a guy trying to take five charges in a quarter. Players tensed up, as was evident in James Harden passing up at least a contested lay-up and Kemba Walker dribbling the ball out of bounds. Chris Paul and Kawhi Leonard were unconscious in the first three quarters shooting the ball, but had a harder time getting loose with new teammates in the fourth.


All of that is different than any previous All Star game over the entirety of the fourth quarter. The drive to get to 157 was stronger than any stretch of any All Star game in recent memory.


But, the Elam Ending was also proposed as a way to quicken blowouts.
Would the fourth have had that kind of feeling had Team Giannis built a 150-124 point lead by playing well for stretches of the first and third? They would have needed to get to 174, a measly 24 points. But Team LeBron? In that scenario they would have needed to score 50 points before Giannis’ team scored 24. We’ve seen plenty of All Star games that end the third quarter with two teams a lot more than nine points apart. Would this be as fun then?


The other thing about pinning all of the fun from Chicago onto Elam’s Ending is it negates other factors that also made the game more competitive. Towards the end of quarters, players clearly knew the charitable stakes of the quarter. Team LeBron and Team Giannis each chose a charity, and at the end of each quarter, $100,000 was handed to the charity of whichever team won the quarter. The kids from the charities were given sections of seats to watch and cheer for their team. The players used that as fuel, and clearly wanted to win those kids $100,000. Those stakes made the game that much more competitive on their own.


Kobe Bryant was notorious for being the guy that took the game too seriously, and the homages before, during and after the game were palpable. Before the game we had Jennifer Hudson and her tribute, during the game Team Giannis all wore number Kobe’s #24 (and Team LeBron all wore Gigi’s #2), and after the game Kawhi Leonard received the first ever Kobe Bryant All Star MVP award. Allen Iverson, who lost to Kobe and Shaq in the 2001 NBA Finals, wore a throwback #8 jersey to celebrity row. Bam Adebayo had artistically customized sneakers in tribute to Bryant. With his presence everywhere, anything less than hyper competitiveness to finish the game would have been unacceptable.

Last night’s NBA All Star game was incredible in several ways, and the most notable difference was the competitive element. But was that because of the Elam Ending? The goal was to find a fun ending that was both competitive but took away the fouling to extend the game. And it did feel like, even with the charges and goaltending reviews, we got that…


But was it because of an ending that came down to an Anthony Davis (Chicago’s very own) free throw?


There are certainly kinks to work out. Yes, the game was fun this year… but is it fixed? We’ll see in the years to come.

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Basketball

Zion Williamson’s Career Night Leads New Orleans Past The Trail Blazers

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Since making his regular-season debut January 22nd, rookie Zion Williamson has given the New Orleans Pelicans the spark they have so desperately needed.

On Tuesday night, Williamson recorded a career-high 31 points to go with his nine rebounds and five assists as the Pelicans snapped the Portland Trail Blazers four-game winning streak 138-117.

Williamson used his freak athleticism and strength to dominate in the paint, throwing down monster lob dunks and completing tough finishes with his bulky 285-pound frame.

With All-Star Brandon Ingram out for the second straight game for New Orleans with a right ankle injury, veterans JJ Reddick and Jrue Holiday picked up the load offensively, with Reddick adding 20 points and Holiday providing 10 assists on a series of flashy passes.

The key to victory for New Orleans was slowing down Portland’s All-Star Damian Lillard, as the point guard had only 20 points despite averaging 40-points over his last twelve games.

Williamson is proving to be as good as advertised with his incredible talent and efficiency, the future is looking bright in New Orleans with the young core of Ingram, Holiday, and point guard Lonzo Ball.

However, with NOLA still being 4.5 games out of a playoff position in the Western Conference, Zion’s arrival may be too little, too late for the Pelicans’ postseason push.

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Basketball

Toronto Raptors Defeat The Atlanta Hawks Despite Trae Young’s Big Performance

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Simply put, Trae Young needs more help in Atlanta.

The star point guard put together another stellar performance with 42 points, 6 rebounds, and a season-high 15 assists, but his Atlanta Hawks still fell to the Toronto Raptors 122-117.

Young was unbelievable yet again, but his heroics and flashy plays couldn’t make up from the lack of production from his other Hawks teammates.

Atlanta was winning for most of the contest, but the Raptors took back control in the second half with Norman Powell leading the comeback effort with 27 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter alone.

Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet rounded out Toronto’s scoring efforts with 20 points, and forward Pascal Siakam contributed 18 points, with the duo also both making plays on the defensive end.

With Atlanta currently having the second-worst record in the NBA at 10-34, the victory was expected for Toronto, who has now moved to third place in the Eastern Conference standings.

However, the biggest takeaway from the game is another alarming example that the Hawks must give Young reinforcements.

In only his second year in the NBA, the Oklahoma product has repeatedly taken over games with his incredible shooting stroke and passing ability, just to have his efforts go to waste due to the lack of veteran talent on Atlanta’s roster.

If the Hawks want to get serious about their future, big moves will have to be made so the franchise doesn’t waste Young’s All-Star caliber talent.

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