Thursday, July 2, 2009

BASKETBALL'S BEST EVER - 1992 "Dream Team" inducted into Olympic Hall of Fame

The greatest basketball team to ever be assembled is again making headlines. The original "Dream Team" of the 1992 Olympics will be inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame in August. The "Dream Team" was without a doubt the best U.S. basketball team to ever set foot on foreign soil as they dominated their eight opponents by an average of 44 points. Show me another team in any sport that was that dominant.

With Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird as the headliners, the "Dream Team" as they were called went into the Barcelona games fully loaded. The roster consisted of a team full of all-stars and 10 of the NBA's 50 greatest players. They had the size, speed, shooting and defense to humiliate their opponents. Coached by the late Hall of Famer Chuck Daly, the team cruised through the qualifying round and then went on to go undefeated in pool play with a different player leading them in scoring each game.
The quarterfinals brought an over matched Puerto Rican team that the "Dream Team" demolished 115-77. Next came a 51 point win over Spain and the finals was the closest game of all, a 32 point blowout over Croatia. In all, 5 players on the U.S. team scored in double figures and only John Stockton and Christian Laettner averaged under 8 points a game.

The "Dream Team" would defeat any basketball team that world could ever assemble.

Top 5 Reasons Why The 1992 "Dream Team" Is The Best Team Ever:

1. Experience
Two of the the "Dream Team's" best players, Magic and Bird had over 15 years experience in the NBA between them and only 3 players (Laettner, Pippen and Robinson) on that '92 team were under 27 years of age. This was a team that had been around the block and knew how to win. Six of the twelve players had won a championship and all but 2 had been to the NBA finals (Laettner and Mullin). This was an experienced team of winners.

2. Basketball IQ
The "Dream Team" was also one of the smartest teams. They knew how the game was to be played. Some of the smartest and craftiest NBA players played on that team. John Stockton was not the tallest or strongest but he found a way to get it done. Magic and Bird epitomized craftiness even though they were not the greatest leapers. Charles Barkley used his 6'6 body better than anyone and was one of the greatest rebounders and scorers. These guys knew how to use space and had amazing basketball IQ's

3. Jordan in his prime
Not only were they crafty but they also had the greatest basketball player ever to play the game leading them. Jordan was in his prime at only 29 years of age and just had come off 6 seasons of scoring over 30 points a game. By this time in his career, Jordan was just about unstoppable. His 3 point shot was just starting to improve and nobody could contain him off the dribble. The Bulls were in the middle of their 3-peat as NBA champs all due to Jordan's talents. I would put Jordan in his prime up against any other basketball player on the face of the earth...and I may even give you odds.

4. Defense
The "Dream Team" could also "D" you up. With the 1991-92 defensive player of the year David Robinson roaming the middle and 1987-88 defensive player of the year Michael Jordan picking pockets on the outside, the "Dream Team" could shut down opponents without much effort. The most points they gave up in the Olympics of '92 was 85. You also have other great defensive players to count on in Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing and John Stockton (all have finished in the top 7 of the NBA defensive player of the year award).

5. Coaching
The 92' team with Chuck Daly, Lenny Wilkens and Mike Krzyzewski had plenty of experience between them. Between the three they had over over 2800 wins and 6 titles. These guys were great choices for this team because you had a current NBA coach, a coaching legend and one of the greatest all-time college coaches. With the leadership of these guys no one would beat the 1992 Dream Team.

1992 Dream Team Roster

Here are the "Dream Team's Top 10 Plays

*NOTE: I will be going on VACATION for the next week and so the RETRO SPORTS TALK BLOG will be on hiatus until I get back. Have a great 4th of July and stay safe.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

USFL GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN - UFL draft brings back memories

The UFL (United Football League) just held its inaugural draft with a few familiar names among those drafted and more familiar names (Brooks Bollinger, JP Losman and Chris Perry) to come after training camp. Every time a new football league pops up and I see some players that I recognize I get really excited only to be disappointed when the season begins. I can't stop comparing them to my all-time favorite defunct football league of the 80's the USFL. From the IFL (Indoor Football League) to the XFL (Extreme Football League) to the AFL (Arena Football League), nothing compares. The USFL is that ex-girlfriend that broke your heart that you compare all future girlfriends too. I truly loved the USFL, not only did it fill my football fix during the boring months of baseball but there was also some quality football being played. Who can forget Herschel Walker running over stacked defenses or Steve Young scrambling away from all-out blitzers. Throw in the multi-purpose Kelvin Bryant, the gunslinging of Jim Kelly and the acrobatic catches of Anthony Carter and you have a great league.

The USFL started play in 1983 with 12 teams across the country playing 18 regular season games. The first season featured an overtime divisional championship and a barn burner of a finale with the Michigan Panthers defeating the Philadelphia Stars 24-22 on a Bobby Herbert touchdown pass to Anthony Carter.

The next season the league expanded to 18 teams divided into four divisions and the Stars bounced back going 16-2 in the regular season. They sailed to the championship game where the Stars dispatched the Arizona Wranglers 23-3. The playoffs were again exciting with a 3 overtime game and another 1 point finish in the quarterfinals.

The last season of the USFL saw the league drop 4 teams and then combine the teams into 2 conferences. The Baltimore Stars (relocated from Philadelphia) took their 2nd title 28-24 over the Bobby Herbert led Oakland Invaders (Michigan folded in 1985). This would be the beginning of the end for the league. The San Antonio Gunslingers, Houston Gamblers and Los Angeles Express struggled financially as the league decided to switch to the fall in 1986 where it would go head to head with the NFL. The league never got under way and then folded.

The USFL had 3 consecutive Heisman Trophy winners play in the league (Herschel Walker, Mike Rozier and Doug Flutie ) and many players who would go on to star in the NFL (Jim Kelly, Walker, Flutie, Reggie White, Sam Mills, Nate Newton, Dan Ross, Mel Gray, Gary Zimmerman to name a few). The league was truly becoming a league that I enjoyed to watch and I was heartbroken when it folded in 1986.

Top 10 Favorite FACTS About The USFL.

1. $3.76
The USFL won a whopping $3.76 in its anti-trust suit against the NFL

2. Donald Trump
Trump was the owner of the New Jersey Generals

3. Al Davis
Davis was the only NFL owner to testify for the USFL in its lawsuit.

4. Dan Marino
Marino was the 1st overall pick of the USFL draft in 1983.

5. Sean Landetta
After Landetta retired in 2008, there are officially no players left on NFL rosters from USFL teams.

6. 3 Million Dollars
That was the cost of a USFL franchise in 1984.

7. Instant Replay
The USFL used the 2 point conversion and head coach's challenge before the NFL. The NFL would copy the USFL and adopt them later

8. Females
The USFL was the first to have females shoot film of coaches on the sidelines.

9. 73,227
The number of fans that showed up to watch the New Jersey Generals play the Jacksonville Bulls on March 4th 1984.

10. 618
The Houston Gamblers led by Jim Kelly scored 34 points a game in their inaugural season. Kelly also threw 44 touchdown passes that year.

I miss you USFL...I am not holding my breath that the UFL will fill the void in my heart.

Monday, June 29, 2009


With basketball season over and football still months away baseball is now the game to watch, but this traditional old school fan just can't bring himself to do it. I like the finer points that baseball offers but I can't stand the way the game has changed. The game of baseball has changed since I was a youth and not for the better. It has actually become difficult for me to watch . Bring back the classic game game of baseball; simple and traditional.

Here are a few of my complaints about the modern game of baseball.

5 Things I HATE About Modern Baseball

1. Inter league Play
Major League Baseball was set up with two separate leagues, each with its own rules and teams. The record books are even separate and for over 50 years a team had to win their league pennant to play a team from the other league. It was clean, simple and easy to understand. Until 1997 when inter league play came around to bore us to death. Is there really more interesting now with inter league play? Do people really care to watch Seattle play San Diego or Colorado play Oakland? In fact the records are almost even with the American League winning 52 percent of the games, so enough is enough. No harm no foul but lets bring back the tradition of two separate leagues.

2. The Closer
Mariano Rivera just got his 500th save and became the games best closers but is that really an accomplishment? He pitches one inning a game, and usually when his club is ahead. Closers are the kickers of professional football and we all know that kickers get no respect. I have more respect for a pitcher that goes 9 innings giving up only a couple of runs then I do a pitcher that needs only nine total outs. This tradition of a setup man and a closer has destroyed the record books as many classic records will never be broken because of this specialization. Let pitchers "man up" and finish what they start.

3. The Designated Hitter
The designated hitter has taken all the strategy out of baseball. In the National League, where the pitcher bats, managers have to decide what to do at the bottom of their order. The decisions are plentiful...should I bunt with the pitcher? When should I pull him? Should we try to hit and run to avoid the double play? What if he gets on, do we pinch run? Yeah I know it extends a players career but all the great players from the past played in the field. The DH has caused controversy in the record books also, that is why separate records are kept for each league. The game of baseball was invented with the pitchers hitting and that is how it should always be just ask the National League.

4. Umpire Uniforms
Please bring back the old uniforms of the umpires. The old school blue uniform was cool. No longer can we use the phrase "Come on Blue" when referring to the ump. The uniforms have changed colors so many times I feel as if I am following a fashion show. I understand that they need to modernize them but that doesn't mean that the color needs to change. Lets bring back the classic blue so that I can yell "YOUR BLIND AS A BAT BLUE!". Some things should never change.

5. Smaller Ballparks
The new Yankee stadium is on pace to give up more than 300 home runs this year, again putting many records in danger. This seems to be the trend these days...smaller, hitter friendly parks. With a juiced ball, steroids and fewer quality pitchers because of expansion, you would think the modern parks would be getting larger to compensate. It use to be that 40 and 50 home runs was unusual, now it is common place. Bring back the old ballparks that can hold a fly ball so that home run records don't have to have another asterisk beside them indicating that they were hit during the "short porch" era.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

AGING STARS FAIL TO BRING SUCCESS - Shaq too old to bring title to Cavs

Does acquiring an aging star bring success? The Cleveland Cavaliers attempt to find out as they traded for the aging 37 year old Shaquille O'Neal. The Cavs believe that by pairing up young and old, that elusive title will be within their grasps. Cleveland will try and follow in the footsteps of last year's NBA champs, the Boston Celtics. The Celtics used this formula by acquiring 31 year old Kevin Garnett and 32 year old Ray Allen on their way to an NBA title. But the idea of bringing in an experienced star to put a team "over-the-top" has not been very successful. The last team before Boston to win an NBA title by bringing in a veteran star that contributed more than 10 points or 10 rebounds a game and had over 10 years experience was in 1995-96, when the Bulls brought in Dennis Rodman. The Bulls with the help of Rodman''s 14 rebounds a game won their 4th NBA title.

So the Cavs are trying to buck the odds and win with an over the hill Shaq and a young LeBron, but the thing they forget is that the past is the past and Shaq is not the player he once was. He failed to get the Suns into the Finals and he is not getting any younger. The Cavs would have been much better served by bringing in a talented young center and trying to replicate the Lakers dynasty of Kobe and Pao. Shaq at 37 is not the answer to LeBron's prayers.

Top 5 Aging NBA Acquisitions That Won Titles

1. 2007-08 Boston Celtics - Kevin Garnett 31, Ray Allen 32
Garnett was wasting away in Minnesota and Allen was struggling with a bad Seattle team until they were paired in Boston. Granett's 18.8 ppg and 9 rebounds combined with Allen's 17 ppg and 40 percent 3-point shooting brought back the Celtic tradition of an NBA title.

3. 1994-95 Houston Rockets - Clyde Drexler 32
Drexler and Tracy Murray were dealt to the Rockets for Otis Thorpe and European star Marcelo Nicola. This trade united two of the main pieces of "Phi-Slamma-Jamma" and helped the Rockets repeat as champions. Drexler contributed 19 ppg at 32 years of age.

3. 1995-96 Chicago Bulls - Dennis Rodman 34
Dennis's antics in San Antonio were wearing thin and Jordan needed someone to rebound his few misses so these two were a match made in heaven. Rodman, even at 34, brought toughness and rebounded that the bulls lacked. This is the situation that the Cavs are looking to duplicate in trading for Shaq.

4. 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks - Oscar Robertson 32
Oscar Robertson was traded to the Bucks in 1970 for Flynn Robinson and Charlie Paulk. What a great move this was, because he was now paired with a young Lew Alcinder. Robertson's 19 points, 8 assists and 5+ rebounds a game made Milwaukee almost unbeatable. They cruised to an NBA title by beating the Baltimore Bullets 4-0 in the finals.

5. 2005-06 Miami Heat - Gary Payton 37, Alonzo Mourning 35
The Heat brought in two aging stars that were role players on a team lead by Dwyane Wade and Shaq. Both Payton and Mourning averaged only about 7 points a game but provided the leadership that Miami needed to win a title.