Ray Jr. on Sports




  1. As we begin, it’s all about the NBA and what happened late Tuesday night as one of its greats is about to call it a Wrap. LA Lakers G Kobe Bryant played his final home game at the Staples Center vs. the Utah Jazz. In addition to Pregame and Postgame ceremonies, Bryant put on a Grand Finale as he scored 60 points to help beat the Jazz 101-96. Now that’s how you end a great career.
  2. It’s the 6th time that Bryant has scored at least 60 in a game. Of course, I remember (and so do you) when he scored an incredible 81 points against a stunned Toronto Raptors team in 2006. Like other great players, Kobe needed a team around him to win the rings (he won 5) but he still also knew when to rise to the occasion in a solo spot-like he did Tuesday night.
  3. It’s hard to say who’s ‘The Best’ in sports anymore, but in the NBA, it’s obviously still Michael Jordan. But I would honestly put Kobe as 2nd best because of his ‘Jordan-like’ impact. When he was drafted by the old Charlotte Hornets (folks still forget that) and then traded to the Lakers, I thought he would help bring the Lakers ‘back’. But I didn’t think he would have superstar impact like he did.
  4. At 37 years old, Kobe played 20 years. He scored 33,643 career points (25.0 average) and was an 18-time All-Star, 4-time All-Star MVP, 2-time NBA Finals MVP and won the NBA MVP in 2008. It’s hard to believe that he only won one MVP, but so did Shaq. They could honestly put the man in the Basketball Hall of Fame right now. I’m sure nobody would object.
  5. There was other NBA news as well as the Golden State Warriors did it. I didn’t think they would. But they did. They won their 73rd game of the season, breaking the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls long-standing record of 72 wins after beating the Memphis Grizzles 125-104. The defending champs finish the season with an incredible 73-9 record.
  6. I’m grateful to witness 2 NBA teams winning over 73 games in a season. I remember in the 90’s when the Bulls were threatening the 1971-72 Lakers record of 69 wins. They had come close in 90-91 (67 wins) and eventually obliterated it with the 72. They made it look easy, like the Warriors did this year.
  7. And I like how Jordan and the Bulls responded: Like class acts. They recognize the Warriors greatness and encouraged them to break their record. And it’s true: Records were meant to be broken. But the Bulls will always go down in history as the first team to ever win 70 plus games. No one can take that away from them.
  8. As for the rest of the NBA, well, the regular season’s over. In addition to the Warriors, here’s the Best and the Worst Records (final edition) In addition to the Warriors as the best, San Antonio (who came so close to 70 wins) is #2 at 67-15, followed by the 57-25 Cleveland Cavaliers at 57-25, then the Toronto Raptors at 56-26 (1 & 2 in the Eastern Conference, respectively)
  9. And now the Worst: You know where I’m going: The Philadelphia 76ers at 10-72. They were that close to tying their 1972-73 infamous 9-73 record, which is still the worst in NBA history. The Lakers are #2 at 17-65. I have never seen a Lakers team this bad. Brooklyn is #2 at 21-61. Much success to them come Draft time.
  10. And now it’s time for the Postseason which begins Saturday. Here are the matchups: In the East, #1 Cleveland vs. #8 Detroit, #2 Toronto vs. #7 Indiana, #3 Miami vs. #6 Charlotte, #4 Atlanta vs. #5 Boston, and in the West, #1 Golden St. vs. #8 Houston, #2 San Antonio vs. #7 Memphis, #3 OKC vs. #6 Dallas, #4 LA Clippers vs. # 5 Portland. I like a rematch of the Warriors and Cavs in the Finals.
  11. As for postseason awards, I would honestly give the MVP to Warriors G Steph Curry again. Let’s be honest: Nobody was more valuable-again. He averages 30.1 points per game and became the first player in NBA history to make 400 3-pointer. That’s incredible. The kid’s a machine. That almost makes 4-time MVP LeBron James look mortal.
  12. College basketball also made news as the Memphis Tigers announced that they’ve hired Tubby Smith as their next Head Coach. Smith had been the HC of Texas Tech since 2013. Such a move is truly a boost to the American-Athletic Conference.
  13. I think Smith will also be a benefit to Memphis as well because of his experience. He took over a Kentucky team in 1998 from Rick Pitino and led them to the National Championship, and has led 5 teams to the NCAA Tournament. Some feel like Smith is in decline, but with the Tigers having not been to the Big Dance since 2014, they can do no worse with Smith.
  14. As for the Pitt Panthers basketball team, I am impressed that all 3 of their top 2016 recruits have decided to stay. We knew F Corey Manigault wasn’t going anywhere, but guards Crisshawn Clark and Justice Kithcart will remain too after it was reported that they would consider not playing for the Panthers after HC Jaime Dixon left for TCU.
  15. That’s truly a relief, because it would’ve put the Panthers into a hole, especially with the departure of PG James Robinson. But now, new HC Kevin Stallings can build around these 3, with mainstays of forwards Mike Young and Jamel Artis. But he still needs to search the JUCO and graduate-transfer market.
  16. Of course you knew that I could write this without some NFL news. And here it is: The LA Rams reportedly will receive the #1 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft from the Tennessee Titans in a blockbuster trade (also a 4th and a 6th round pick). In return, the Titans will get the Rams 1st round pick (15th overall) 2 2nd-round selections, and a 3rd-round pick.
  17. Good move by the Rams, who’re obviously trying to make an impression in their return to LA. I’m sure they will use that 1st overall pick to draft the one thing that they’ve needed for years: A quarterback, which will probably be North Dakota’s Carson Wentz, projected as the top QB in the draft.
  18. And here’s hoping that the Rams do well in 2016, because they still got to give the Titans their 1st and 3rd round picks in 2017. Welcome to the world of ‘Win Now.’
  19. Also, prayers and condolences to the family of former New Orleans Saints DE Will Smith who was murdered early Sunday morning in a road rage incident. Smith was a pretty good DE for the Saints. Drafted in 2004 and played until 2013. He had 67.5 sacks and was about the be inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame. He also won a Super Bowl with them in 2009.
  20. It’s just a shame that a life can end to senseless and tragic. It was truly heartbreaking to hear about this. Which is why I hope and pray that QB Johnny Manziel turns his life around. I know both are different circumstances, but Manziel’s been playing with his life, which is more important than football.

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