The Trilogy: NBA Finals


If you’re looking for a 3-part series, you usually look for movie trilogies. The public perception says the first movie is usually the classic. The second movie is generally harder to top than the first one. And the third movie is the wild card (you’re not sure what you’re going to get). From what I experienced, the first movie is the best, the second movie is a let down, and the third movie is slightly better than the second one. Personally, I enjoyed The Matrix trilogy but others may differ. Lord Of The Rings is another iconic trilogy that people celebrated. Those movies gives you a beginning, middle, and ending.

With that being said, it’s hard to find a good trilogy these days, but we might finally get one starting June 1st. This will be the 3rd consecutive meeting between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers with enormous anticipation. 

In the first matchup in 2015, the Golden State Warriors won their first NBA Title in over 40 years, beating Cleveland in 6 games. The Cleveland Cavaliers and their fans felt that the loss was a fluke because Kevin Love was out for the postseason with a shoulder injury that occurred in the first round and Kyrie Irving injured his knee in game one of the NBA Finals. Even though LeBron James was without his All-Star teammates, he still put on an outstanding performance and kept the series interesting. 

In last year NBA Finals matchup, the Cleveland Cavaliers won their first NBA championship by edging out the Warriors in 7 games and also coming back from a 3 games to 1 deficit. The Golden State Warriors and their fans would say if it wasn’t for Draymond Green being suspended for game five or Andrew Bogut getting hurt, the Warriors would’ve been back to back defending champs. 

You can make excuses for both teams if you choose to but the fact of the matter is that we will finally get to see a “winner take all” meeting in this long awaited rubber match. What makes this main event still admirable is the additional on Kevin Durant to the Warriors last July. He is the ultimate x-factor in this series and also has the most pressure to win. The Warriors won 73 regular season games last season and are proven champions without him. If Golden State falls short for the second consecutive year, majority of the heat will be on Durant just because of his “power-shifting” free agency decision last summer. Anything less than holding up the Larry O’Brien trophy this season will leave a stain on his legacy.

In which seems to be a conclusive matchup between these two teams, this is projected to be the best series yet. There are no injuries. No one is on track of being suspended. Each team is coming into the series well rested. All we can hope for at this point is for the series to live up to the hype. We’ll get to see a healthy Kyrie Irving against a healthy Stephen Curry. We’ll witness Kevin Durant to try to get over the hump against LeBron James. The 3 point shooting of the Cavs will be tested by the Splash Brothers of the Dubs. JR Smith will probably be JR Smith, and Draymond Green’s antics may appear once or twice. And Kevin Love would want to have a better NBA Finals performance than last year. 

The series will come down to a few things. Whoever team’s role players can step up on the road will have a big advantage. We expect the stars to perform to a high level, but when you can get consistent productivity from a JaVale McGee and David West or Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye, it will take some of the burden off the starters and make them less fatigued.

Another factor is 3 point shooting. Whichever team is hitting from behind the hot consistently will make it tough for the opponent to stay in the game. The Warriors have better long distance shooters, but the Cavaliers have plenty of long range depth.

My last key point is turnovers. Golden State’s only moderate weakness is being too careless with the basketball at times (that was one of the main reasons Cleveland was able to come back last year). The Cavs will continue to make them pay if that trend continues. If the Warriors can hold on to the ball, then the Cavaliers might have their hands full. 

Both teams come into the NBA Finals on dominant stretches. Golden State is undefeated in postseason play thus far and Cleveland only suffered one loss. The Warriors are the favorite in this series. Get your popcorn ready because part 3 should be rewarding for the average NBA fan.

Warriors in 6.

JGOOD

March Madness Contest 2017


We’re already in March, but it feels like the new year just started. Now that we’re past the Super Bowl, NBA All-Star Weekend, GRAMMY Awards, and the Oscars, we can turn our attention to March Madness. Last year, I had a contest for the best bracket and the winner received a $25 Amazon Gift Card and a JGoodWithSports “March Madness” themed t-shirt. I haven’t decided on the prizes yet for this year, but the value will be more.
Here are the rules:

  • FREE ENTRY
  • I will create a private group on ESPN once the bracket entries are open.
  • One entry per person.
  • You have to be a follower. If you’re NOT a blogger, CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE (make sure you check your email to verify the subscription).
  • Once you become a follower, send me an email with the subject “March Madness” at jgoodwithsports@gmail.com with your name. Once I receive your email, I will send you an invite to fill out your bracket. Password is “jgood”.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment or send me an email.

Good luck!

JGOOD

2017 NBA All-Star Weekend


February is one of my favorite months for sports because of the Super Bowl, pitchers in MLB report to spring training, college basketball is starting to get down to the wire, and NBA All-Star Weekend. This year, the festive event will take place in New Orleans. I took a trip to New Orleans in May of 2015, and that was one of the best experiences of my life. The culture in “NOLA” is truly one of a kind. The original destination was Charlotte, but due to anti-gay laws within the state, the NBA elected to change locations. The NBA just hosted the All-Star Game New Orleans in 2014.

Besides Kyrie Irving’s belief that the world is flat, the most intriguing headline of the weekend is Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook reuniting as teammates. Their brotherly friendship has been derailed since KD’s departure to Golden State. The two has yet attempted to patch things up so that should make way for an interesting interaction in the locker room. 

The events for Saturday includes the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, JBL Three-Point Contest, and the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest. I’m picking Isaiah Thomas for the Skills Challenge, Nick Young for the Three-Point Contest, and Glenn Robinson III for the Slam Dunk Contest.

As for the NBA All-Star Game itself, I have Anthony Davis as the MVP. With that being said, I hope all the events live up to the hype! 
JGOOD

Respect Greatness


We are living in an era where we’re witnessing historical records are being broken, mesmorizing moments from deciding games are taking place, and once in a lifetime achievements are current. Clear examples of such greatness includes the Golden State Warriors winning 73 games in a regular season, the newly infamous Julian Edelman’s catch that helped propel the New England Patriots Super Bowl LI comeback, and the Chicago Cubs winning their first World Series since 1908.

We are also living in an era where we’re witnessing some of the best athletes to ever play. When I was a child, I saw Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Ken Griffey, and Jerry Rice. As I got older, I witnessed Kobe Bryant, Mario Lemieux, Derek Jeter, and Randy Moss. Now there’s LeBron James, Patrick Kane, Kris Bryant, and Julio Jones. Over the past 30 years, we’ve have seen athletes come and go, but we have all been witnesses to the greatness that certain professionals have displayed.

In the last 12 months alone, we have seen some of the best championship sporting outcomes in history. We saw March Madness end with a buzzer beater by Villanova to beat North Carolina. Two months later, the Cleveland Cavaliers ended the city’s championship drought by coming back against the Golden State Warriors down 3 games to 1 to capture their first NBA title in franchise history. Fast forward to October, we witnessed another drought end but on a more significant level. The Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians in the 10th inning of game 7 after being down 3 games to 1 as well. Last month, we saw Clemson get their sweet revenge against Alabama in of the most fantastic finishes in recent memory. Serena Williams won her 23rd Grand Slam title. Less than 2 weeks ago, we’ve witnessed the best Super Bowl ending in NFL history. The UConn women’s basketball team are currently on a 100 game winning streak (that is ridiculous!).

It seems like we’re at a point where we expect great things to happen at every major sporting event. From The Master’s to Wimbledon; the Stanley Cup to the World Series; the NBA Finals to the Super Bowl, we are spoiled by greatness. Appreciate these moments while you can because all things (including exceptional moments) must come to an end.

JGOOD

BIG3


There’s been a lot of buzz going around of Ice Cube’s new basketball league called “BIG3”. Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz have co-founded the new league. The newly formed basketball league will feature retired NBA players in a 3-on-3 halfcourt setting. Former deputy executive director of the NBA Players Association, Roger Mason Jr., has signed on as the commissioner to make this summertime basketball league a reality.

From left: Kwatinetz,  Lewis, Iverson, Cube, Martin, and Mason Jr. attend Wednesday's introductory press conference.
Left to right: Kwatinetz, Lewis, Iverson, Cube, Martin, Mason Jr.

The “BIG3” will feature 8 teams consisting of 5 players (3 starters and 2 bench players). Ice Cube has gotten NBA Hall Of Famer Allen Iverson to join as a player-coach. Other former NBA players that have expressed interest or have signed aboard include:

  • Rashard Lewis
  • Kenyon Martin
  • Jason “White Chocolate” Williams
  • Mike Bibby
  • Stephen Jackson
  • Bonzi Wells
  • Chauncey Billups
  • Jermaine O’Neal
  • Al Harrington
  • Ricky Davis

NBA Legends Gary Payton, Rick Barry, Clyde Drexler, Rick Mahorn, and George Gervin will coach but will not play.

The league is scheduled to start June 24 and will tour for 10 weeks throughout the summer. Personally, I’m excited to see the players that I grew up watching play basketball again in a competitive setting. Even if it is just 3-on-3, I get to relive some of my childhood just a litter longer. More news on the league will follow over the next few months. What do you think about the new summertime basketball league?

2016 Sports Moments: Top 10


What a year! I hope everybody enjoyed 2016. If you didn’t for whatever reason, I hope 2017 will be a better one. In the sports world, we definitely had our fair share of good and bad moments. We even had some interesting moments like Odell Beckham Jr. going one on one with a kicking net (and losing), Rougned Odor knocking the shades off of Jose Bautista’s face, Kevin Durant shaking up the NBA by signing with the Golden State Warriors, and JR Smith being topless for about half the week (supposedly) since the beginning of the Cleveland Cavaliers championship parade.

Honorable Mentions

  • Joe Thomas Sr. (55 year old running back from South Carolina State becoming the oldest man to play Division I football. His son Joe Thomas Jr. is a linebacker for the Green Bay Packers)
  • Colin Kaepernick Kneeling (You may or may not agree with Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling to the National Anthem, but the reason behind the action should be the focal point)
  • Conor McGregor Dominance (Conor McGregor became the first 2 division champion in UFC this year. His next venture may be a fight with Floyd Mayweather, but we’ll see)

10) Ken Griffey Jr. Hall Of Fame (Almost) Unanimous

“The Kid” is my all-time favorite baseball player, ever since I saw him swing with the Seattle Mariners (I barely remember that). In January, Griffey and Mike Piazza were the only two players elected to the National Baseball Hall Of Fame. This is the hardest sport to get placed into the hall of fame because it requires 75% of the vote. The most impressive and staggering note to take away is that Griffey received the highest percent of votes in the history of Major League Baseball at 99.3% (437 out of 440 votes). Personally, Ken Griffey Jr. should have been the first unanimous hall of famer, and I would love to hear their reason for not voting Griffey in for those 3 voters who didn’t vote for him. Nevertheless, this is an astonishing achievement to cap off a remarkable career.

9) Stephen Curry: Unanimous MVP

Speaking of unanimous, Stephen Curry became the first player in NBA history to be voted unanimous MVP of a season. In 2015, the Golden State Warriors shocked the world by winning their first NBA Title in 40 years. Trying to top that achievement in 2016, the Warriors won the most games in a season in NBA history with 73, while Steph Curry was putting on a display. Even though Golden State came up a Draymond Green kick and few plays short of repeating this past June, they found a way to steal the headlines over the summer (signing of Kevin Durant).

8) Von Miller Dominates Super Bowl 50

Even though Cam Newton (#1 overall pick) was the only player selected ahead of Von Miller (#2 overall pick) in the 2011 NFL Draft, Von Miller came out on top on the biggest stage. Newton looked like “Superman” throughout the whole season until the Super Bowl, where Miller registered 2.5 sacks and forcing 2 turnovers. His constant pass rush disrupted the Carolina Panthers offense the entire game. If Von Miller wasn’t hitting the quarterback, Demarcus Ware was definitely getting a few hits in from what I remember.

7) Bolt, Phelps, USA Takeover Rio 2016 

Rio 2016 will go down as one of the most memorable summer Olympics ever. It signifies the end of an era with Usain Bolt accomplishing the “triple-triple” (winning the 100m, 200m, and 4 x 100m relay races consecutively in 2008, 2012, & 2016) and Michael Phelps winning a total of 28 medals (23 gold medals). The United States also were dominant in swimming events, gymnastics, and track and field events. I’m going to miss seeing Bolt and Phelps dominate their respective competition, but I’m excited to see who’s going to be the next sensation on sports’ biggest stage in Tokyo 2020.

6) Villanova Buzzer Beater

From what I remember, Villanova has always been a tournament let down whenever they are seeded high. This past March and April, Villanova actually lived up to the hype. Their mind-blowing victory over North Carolina in the NCAA Championship game was the icing on the cake. That game, in particular, was arguably the best championship game I’ve ever witnessed. The game had non-stop action with suspense and an appropriate climax. Kris Jenkins brought the game to a close and a National Title home to “Nova”.

5) Eric Berry’s Homecoming

PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO. Eric Berry has been my favorite safety in the NFL since he came into the league back in 2010. Berry was diagnosed with cancer in December of 2014 and was pronounced cancer free in July of 2015. When he bounced back after 7 months, it gave me a stronger reason of why he’s my favorite safety. Atlanta is Eric Berry’s hometown and where he received treatment during his fight against cancer. In his first visit back since therapy, Berry had a “pick 6” and a failed 2 point conversation returned for a touchdown (another pick 6) to solidify the Kansas City Chiefs victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

4) Mamba Out: Kobe Bryant’s Final Game

On the last day of the 2015-16 regular season, you had the choice to either watch the Golden State Warriors go for 73 wins or Kobe Bryant’s last game. I caught the 4th quarter of “Mamba Out”. I wasn’t the biggest Kobe fan, but I truly respected him. Watching the final 3 to 4 minutes live gave me chills and rewatching this video duplicated how I felt about it. Seeing him leave the game lets you know that an era in the NBA has ended (and my childhood basketball icons are gone). When you add Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen (officially announced his retirement) to that list of retirees in 2016, you have a higher level of appreciation for the game of basketball (and an epic hall of fame class down the line). Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki, and Manu Ginobili are next in line.

3) Cavaliers Comeback 3-1

In June of 2015, the Cleveland Cavaliers came up short in the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors. Even though LeBron James nearly averaged a triple-double, missing Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving due to injuries played a crucial part of them coming up short. A year later (with healthy teammates), the Cavs pulled off an improbable comeback in the NBA Finals. What really makes this achievement special is the fact that this is the first major championship for the city of Cleveland since the Cleveland Browns won in 1964 during the Jim Brown era. This was also the first ever NBA Title for the Cavaliers. Being a Chicago Bulls fan, I wasn’t thrilled about Cleveland winning, however, I know the importance that particular title meant to the city of Cleveland. Congrats, again, to the Cleveland Cavaliers!

2) Passing Of Legends

With the amazing things that I’ve previously mentioned during this countdown thus far, we lost some great people along the way of this special year of 2016. Some of the icons that we’ve lost this year includes boxing legend Muhammad Ali (His contributions inside and outside the ring can’t be compared to another), golfing legend Arnold Palmer (golf’s most beloved figure and he surged the sport into popularity), legendary sports broadcaster Craig Sager (#SagerStrong), former NFL head coach Dennis Green (coached the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals), legendary women’s basketball head coach Pat Summitt, and ESPN’s reporter John Saunders. I know it can be sad to think about, but we should remember their achievements and how meaningful their contributions were.

1) Cubs Win!

This is by far the most memorable moment for not only this year but the best moment for certain people’s lives. There have been generations that have waited for the day for the Chicago Cubs to win a World Series championship since 1908. I remember a little over a decade ago in 2003 when the Cubs were 5 outs away from the World Series. Then…the Steve Bartman incident happened. I seriously believe Chicago is the best sports city and Chicago Cubs fans are the most loyal fans amongst all major sports. Chicago coming back from 3-1 against Cleveland (pretty ironic), which included an unreal rain delay in extra innings of game 7, made their championship more fitting for the franchise. I know a few Cubs fans that are still celebrating (and it’s well deserved). 2016 is your year, Chicago Cubs.

Happy Holidays!!

JGOOD

 

Ball Is Life: Circle Of Men Athletics


If you ever lived in Northwest Indiana and have been involved in sports, you will know that this area is called “The Region”. The Region has produced many pro and collegiate athletes in different sports over the past few decades like former MLB center fielder Kenny Lofton (East Chicago, IN). He was a 6x all-star and a 4x gold glove winner. Another is current Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kawaan Short (East Chicago, IN). In 2015, he was named to the Pro Bowl and was second-team All-Pro.

However, Indiana is known as the Hoosier State. There’s been plenty of successful basketball outcomes from The Region like Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson (Gary, IN), who happens to be an alum from my high school, Roosevelt, in Gary. Robinson was the number 1 overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft (to the Milwaukee Bucks). He averaged over 20 ppg for his career, was a 2x all-star, and won a championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 2005. Over the past 10 years, more players have been exposed to the NBA like Glenn Robinson III (Gary, IN, and currently with the Indiana Pacers), E’Twaun Moore (East Chicago, IN, and currently with the New Orleans Pelicans), Robbie Hummel (Valparaiso, IN), Branden Dawson (Gary, IN), and Mitch McGary (Chesterton, IN).

We even have athletes now that are already in division 1 or division 1-bound. Charles Cooper, a senior guard at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, helped the Phoenix during the 2015-16 season reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1996. Dana Evans, senior guard at Gary West Side High School, is currently ranked #3 at the point guard, and #7 overall for the 2017 class by ESPN. She has committed to Louisville.

wp-1481327848318.jpg
Dana Evans

My friend Leroy Cooper, who is also a part of our basketball network and former intramural basketball teammate, is the co-founder (along with Mr. Daniel Baker) of Circle of Men Athletics (COMA; @Circle_of_Men) . Every since I met Leroy, he has always been the type to lead and show support for others.

wp-1481516536968.jpg

COMA is an organization in Gary Indiana focused on the development of inner city athletes on and off the court…1 Corinthians 9:24-27.

Leroy, who played his last two years of college basketball and spend the following year as assistant head coach at formerly Purdue University Calumet (now Purdue University Northwest), wants help student-athletes on and off the court.

The purpose is to instill life beyond talent for inner city athletes…provide mentorship, training, life skills and exposure to guys with athletic abilities.

In this day and age where violence seems to be at an all-time high (especially the way the city of Chicago is right now), it’s wonderful to know something like COMA is taking place within The Region. However, this organization has plans on spreading the helping hand.

Our vision is to take our not for profit worldwide and change the world through God’s anointing. Changing lives and giving people opportunities to advance through life is God’s kingdom on earth. Our staff is really passionate about our organization, and we have a great success rate so far. We started the organization in 2014 and have placed 78 guys in college on athletic scholarships. Our next showcase is April 22nd, 2017.

The more I looked into COMA, the more impressed I’ve become. This organization has the chance to become something iconic. Sending 78 young men to college in that short amount of time is the one thing that’s sticking out to me. I support anyone that’s trying to do something positive with the youth and the community. Leroy, continue striving for excellence with this program and don’t let any obstacle prevent you from your vision.

wp-1481510069532.jpg

JGOOD