Becoming The Bar


In life, it’s easier to fail than it is to succeed. In sports, it’s easier to lose than it is to win. You have to have talent, skills, chemistry, motivation and willing to put the team first. Dominance is not achieved by accident. Consistency doesn’t happen overnight. Gregg Popovich and Bill Belichick have set the bar in their respective sports for almost the past 2 decades.

02pennington1-articlelarge-v21638313220180133035.jpg

There are plenty of similarities between the two in my eyes. Both have won 5 championships as head coaches (Popovich: 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014. Belichick: 2002, 2004, 2005, 2015, 2017). Each coach has had a transcending and iconic player during their championship runs (Popovich: Tim Duncan. Belichick: Tom Brady). Both coaches have established a culture to where it’s about the name on the front of the jersey instead of the back. When it comes to the media, both of them have had unique responses to questions asked.

spurs-gregg-popovich-tim-duncan_1516823698067_11555066_ver18297166808376561490.jpg

Even with the success, both have had their share of scrutiny. Popovich has been criticized for being “short” with his answers to questions about basketball. However, he’s opinionated about questions outside of the sport, like politics and social issues. Personally, I don’t have a problem with it because life is bigger than the NBA, but I understand the frustration of the media at times. Belichick and the New England Patriots were under fire for “Spygate” and “Deflategate”. Spygate occurred in 2007 when the team was caught filming the New York Jets play-call signals. Deflategate happened in 2015 against the Indianapolis Colts during the AFC Championship game where the Patriots were accused of having slightly underinflated footballs.

What I do appreciate the most about both coaches is their consistency over the years. Since the NBA lockout shortened-season in 1999, the San Antonio Spurs have won a least 50 games each season and are on pace to extend the streak this season. The Spurs have been able to demonstrate their winning culture with different players over the years. It started with the “Twin Tower” era with David Robinson and Tim Duncan. Then it changed to the Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili era. Now Kawhi Leonard is the face of the franchise with LaMarcus Aldridge next to him. The common denominator has been Gregg Popovich and his ability to adjust his coaching with the personnel around him.

Image result for gregg popovich winning

Since becoming the head coach in 2000 for the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick has won 15 division titles and has won at least 10 games since 2003. Like the San Antonio Spurs, the Patriots have been able to continue their winning culture by plugging in players around Tom Brady that fits the system. Brady went from having Troy Brown as his favorite target to Deion Branch, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, and Julian Edelman.

Image result for bill belichick winning

When you set the bar for excellence, you eventually become the bar. Gregg Popovich and Bill Belichick have done just that. With respect to Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson, and Pat Riley, I believe Gregg Popovich is the greatest coach in NBA history. I firmly believe the same for Bill Belichick in the NFL. You don’t have to be a fan of either, but you have to respect their greatness to keep this longevity of excellence up for almost 20 years.

JGOOD

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

 

The Big Fundamental


Tim Duncan is one of the last NBA players to have played when Michael Jordan was still on the Chicago Bulls. With his retirement, the San Antonio Spurs won’t be the same. His legacy comes second to only a handful, and can definitely make a case to be in “the conversation” for THE GREATEST (particularly at his position). 

In his 19 seasons in the NBA, Duncan has never missed the playoffs. He’s won 5 NBA Titles (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014), 3-time NBA Finals MVP, 2-time league MVP, 15-time all star and is the master at shooting the ball off the glass. He’s definitely a top 10 player of all-time and can make a case for top 5 in my eyes.

Where do you rank Tim Duncan all-time?

How is his legacy compared to Kobe Bryant?

Compared to Shaq?

Will anybody that’s currently in the NBA be able to surpass his greatness at the Power Forward position?

How will you remember Tim Duncan now that his career is over?

JGOOD