On the Greatest Offseason in Cleveland Sports History

Name the last time a Cleveland team signed the best player in the league. Now give an example of when a Cleveland team acquired a top ten player in the league. How about when was the last time free agents took less money to play on a Cleveland team? Okay, now tell me when a team has been able to do this in one offseason. Can’t come up with one? This answer leads me to say that the last two months for the Cleveland Cavaliers has been the single best offseason in the history of the Cleveland professional sports.
On Saturday, the Cavaliers officially made the long awaited trade for Kevin Love. The deal involved the Cavs sending first-round picks Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett to the Minnesota Timberwolves, and a future first-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers. In return, the Cavaliers landed a top ten player who averaged 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds last season.
Love is a scoring machine who can make baskets in the post, mid-range, and perimeter. Last season he shot 45.7% from the field and 37.6% from

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Kobe has made history on his 36th birthday

Kobe Bryant turns 36 today.

      
 

 

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Ranking the Best 10 Acquisitions in LA Lakers History

For the sake of clarity, the selections included here are free-agent signings and trades by the Los Angeles Lakers but not draft picks or draft day trades.

And for those who feel compelled to howl in protest because Kobe Bryant is not part of this—take a deep soothing breath. The Mamba would be listed here in a heartbeat except for the fact that he was selected by the Charlotte Hornets on behalf of the Lakers in the 1996 NBA draft.

The same goes for Magic Johnson—the No. 1 overall pick in 1979 won’t be listed here, and neither will Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, James Worthy, Michael Cooper, Norm Nixon or any other Lakers draftees. 

It also doesn’t include the Lakers’ new head coach Byron Scott, who was drafted by the San Diego Clippers and then traded to the Lakers for Norm Nixon.

No, this is about the competition to land elite free agents and crazy multi-team blockbuster trades. Or, in the case of some of the players from yesteryear, the deals you used to read about in things called newspapers.

And on the subject of blockbusters, one of the best trades of all time can’t be included—the three-team agreement between the New Orleans Hornets, Houston Rockets and the Lakers that would have had Chris Paul wearing purple and gold if not for then NBA commissioner David Stern.

Finally, with all the caveats, consider one more—this isn’t a historical comparison of the greatest Lakers of all time but a look at both players and transactions as we know them.

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Ranking the Most Surprising Final Four Teams in College Basketball History

In 76 years of NCAA tournament history, 91 teams have combined to make 304 appearances in the Final Four.

Some of those were much more surprising than others.

Take the 2010-11 VCU Rams, for example.

Few people thought Shaka Smart and company deserved to make the tournament. Much fewer picked them to make the Final Four. According to ESPN’s Tournament Challenge blog, less than 0.1 percent of the 5.9 million brackets filled out had the Rams reaching the national semifinals.

But they busted brackets left and right to become the most surprising team to ever reach the Final Four.

Based on a combination of the difficulty of the path taken to the Final Four and the perceived strength of the team at the end of the season, we’ve ranked the 10 most surprising Final Four teams in men’s college basketball history.

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Shaquille O’Neal Says Julius Erving Is Greatest Player in NBA History

When picturing the NBA‘s Mount Rushmore, not everyone will agree on the four players. However, when talking about the greatest player in NBA history, most people can agree that it is Michael Jordan.

Shaquille O’Neal is in the minority of people who don’t consider Jordan the greatest player ever.

In an interview with The Antenna’s Abe Schwadron, the Big Diesel dished on who he thought the greatest player in NBA history was. He didn’t go with Jordan, LeBron James or even Kobe Bryant. He went with someone whose name doesn’t often come up in the conversation.

“It’s a matter of opinion,” O’Neal said, via Schwadron. “To me, Dr. J was the greatest player ever. But I ask other people, they say Jordan, some say Kobe, some people say LeBron. It’s always going to be a matter of opinion.”

In the mind of The Big Aristotle, Julius Erving is the greatest player in NBA history. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. 

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Ranking the Top 10 3-Point Shooters in College Basketball History

The three-point shot is the great equalizer in college basketball.

Like the forward pass in football, the addition of the three-point line was once considered a gimmick. It wasn’t until the start of the 1986-87 season that it was nationally adopted, but an ability to shoot three-pointers has become one of the most important aspects of college basketball.

It will come as a surprise to no one that Stephen Curry is near the top of the list. The baby-faced assassin made 19 of his 36 three-point attempts in the first three games of the 2008 NCAA tournament, leading Davidson to one of the most surprising Elite Eight appearances in history.

In ranking these top 10 gunners, we considered both accuracy and frequency.

Hats off to Keydren Clark of Saint Peter’s for making 435 career three-pointers, but he didn’t even warrant an honorable mention while shooting just 36.5 percent for his career. At the other end of the spectrum, Dan Dickau shot 46.2 percent from beyond the arc in his career at Washington and Gonzaga, but he only made 215 three-pointers in those four years.

Instead, these are the top 10 players who made a ton of three-pointers without missing a ton as well.

 

Statistics on the following slides courtesy of NCAA.org, Sports-Reference.com, ESPN.com and KenPom.com (subscription required).

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10 Most Successful Jersey Numbers in NBA History

Numbers aren’t just numbers in the NBA

Sure, some players might pick their uniform number out of a hat or show no care whatsoever, taking whatever’s available.

That’s what Kyrie Irving did, for example, in picking No. 2 as he told Justin Tejada of SIKids.com back in 2012: “That was just a random number I picked when I got drafted. It has no significance.”

But for others, the numbers they wear night in and night out might hold a great deal of meaning. 

So, what’s in a number? Potentially a lot, as Dwyane Wade—who you might quickly associate with No. 3—explained to NBA.com back in 2011: 

I’ve heard of people who wouldn’t sign with a team because they didn’t have a particular jersey number. It could be a deal breaker, and I totally understand why. A number is a big thing for athletes. At the end of the day, a lot of people won’t know your name because people associate you with a number. You associate yourself with a number and a lot of things in your life may go around that.

The reasons behind numbers are purely anecdotal, but they’ve still led to some digits and combination of digits that have emerged as the most successful jersey numbers in NBA history. There are some numbers that have experienced far more success than others, thanks to the decisions of legends to put them on night after night. 

There is no metric behind these rankings; it’s purely subjective, based not only on the names who put the uniforms in question on, but also when they did so and for how long. It’s not enough for a Hall of Famer to wear a certain number in the twilight of his career, unless he also did the same in his prime. 

So, even without using numbers, let’s move on to…the numbers. 

 

Note: All uniform information comes from the Basketball-Reference.com uniform archives, which are wonderful rabbit holes if you need to waste time.

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Ranking the Most Unlikely Champions in College Basketball History

Shabazz Napier and the No. 7 Connecticut Huskies painted a masterpiece to win the 2014 NCAA championship, but where does it rank among the unlikeliest of title runs in men’s college basketball history?

In the heat of the moment, we were bombarded with hyperbole about Connecticut and Kentucky being the most unprecedented pairing in championship history. But now that there have been a few months to let it all soak in, it’s time to put that magical run in perspective.

Because let’s face it: There have been quite a few totally unexpected champions over the past 75 years.

The 1980s were particularly out of control, producing five of the top nine teams on this list of unlikely NCAA champions.

 

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Michigan Basketball: Ranking the 5 Greatest Shot-Blockers in Wolverines History

Michigan has had a fair share of shot-blockers in their program’s illustrious history. The Wolverines have not been short (pardon the pun) on dominating big men with the ability to reject shots and cause havoc in the lane.

What follows in this slideshow is a breakdown of the Wolverine’s top-5 shot-blockers (ranked in order of the impact they had while at Michigan) and the legend they left behind. While this is a subjective list, the following swat machines arguably left behind the most indelible impressions in their time at Michigan.

All stats provided by MGOBLUE.COM. Also, block records did not start until 1977.

 

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Syracuse Basketball: Ranking the 5 Greatest Shot-Blockers in Orange History

One of the key components to Syracuse’s 2-3 zone is the center. The middle man is the captain of the defense, calling out rotations and making sure the other players are in position and the defense works as a unit.

Perhaps the main job of an Orange center is to protect the rim. Syracuse teams, especially lately, have relied on their defense to shut the opponents’ offense down. It’s easier to do that when you have someone erasing shots inside.

Let’s take a look back at some of Syracuse’s best shot-blockers. We’ll count down the top five based on statistical output across a career as well as season-by-season accomplishments.

 

All stats courtesy of cuse.com unless otherwise noted.

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