Saturday, September 22, 2012

J-Speaks: Team USA Wins Gold at Beijing Olympics

In 2004 in Athens, the United States Men’s Basketball for the first time since NBA players started competing in Olympics in 1992 they did not win a gold medal. They finished in third place claiming a bronze medal, while Spain captured gold. From that point on they completely changed their approach to how they put a team together to compete on the world stage. It first started by naming Duke University Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski. The also said to each player that wanted to try out for the 2008 team that they needed a three-year commitment to the process. It all worked in 2008 as Team USA reclaimed gold as they beat the Spanish National Team. Back on Sunday, Aug. 12, Team USA was in the same position and produced the same result.

In a thrilling contest, Team USA defeated Spain 107-100 to win their second consecutive gold medal and capture their 14 overall gold medal in Olympic play.

They won their 50 consecutive game in international play dating back to 2005 and their 17 straight victory in the Olympics.

They won all eight of their contest in the Olympics and they won by an average of 32.1 points per contest. In this run they averaged 115.5 points per contest; shot over 53 percent from the floor; averaged 44.6 rebounds and averaged 25 assists per contest.

The team was led by the three top scorers in the NBA this past season. Oklahoma City Thunder forward and top scorer in the NBA in 2011-12 Kevin Durant (27.9 ppg) led the way with 30 points and nine rebounds on 8 for 18 shooting, including going 5 for 13 from three-point range. Miami Heat forward LeBron James (27.1 ppg) had 19 points, seven boards and two steals going 8 for 13 from the field. Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (27.9 ppg), who said after the game that this was going to be his last Olympic appearance had 17 points. Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul finished with 11 points.

Spain was paced by Lakers forward Pau Gasol, who scored 15 of his team high 24 points in the third quarter to keep Spain close. He also had eight boards. Juan-Carlos Navarro had 21 points, hitting 4 for 9 from three-point range. Memphis Grizzles center Marc Gasol had 17 points. Rudy Fernandez had 14 points and six boards and Thunder forward Serge Ibaka also scored in double figures with 12 points hitting 8 for 10 from the free throw line and grabbing nine rebounds.

“When the horn goes off, that’s the time you kind of let it go. It’s been a long journey for us all, but this game was fun,” Bryant, who won his second gold medal and scored 13 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to help Team USA beat Spain back in 2008 said to NBC’s Craig Sager after the game.

“It was a challenge and we stepped up to it.”

To fully understand what Team USA accomplished in these Olympics, here are some of the records that fell in this 38-day run.

Durant who averaged 19.5 points per game and New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony who averaged 16.3 points per game in the Olympics became the first duo to average over 17 points per Olympic contests since hall of famers Jerry West and Spencer Haywood. In fact Durant broke Haywood’s record for most points scored in one Olympics with 156 points. Haywood scored 145 points in 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Former “Dream Team” player Charles Barkley in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona scored 144 points and former teammate and fellow hall of famer Michael Jordan scored 137 points in the 1984 games in Los Angeles.

On 16 occasions in this Olympics has a member of Team USA scored double-digits in a quarter. In the Semifinals versus Argentina, Bryant scored 11 points in the first quarter; Anthony scored 12 in the third quarter and Durant had 12 points in the fourth quarter.

In the Aug. 2 preliminary game against Nigeria they scored a U.S.A. Olympic record 156 points in an Olympic record 83-point win. They made an Olympic record 59 field goals, which included 29 three’s on 46 attempts. Anthony scored a US Olympic record 37 points going 13 for 16 from the field, including making 10 three’s in 12 tries in just 14 minutes and 29 seconds. The previous mark was held by former NBA player Stephon Marbury who scored 31 points in an Olympic game back in 2004.

One player who really made this Olympics his coming out party and showed the world that he is one of the very best is James.

In the last four games alone, he showed why he was named Most Valuable Player in the NBA in three of the last four seasons.

In the Aug. 4 preliminary game he scored nine of his 20 points in the fourth quarter in Team USA’s 99-94 win versus Lithuania. Two days later versus Argentina he authored the first seven points of the third quarter finishing with 18 points in all in Team USA’s 126-97 win. In the Aug. 8, quarterfinals against Australia, James recorded the first triple-double in US Olympic history with 11 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists in the 119-86 win. In the Semifinals versus Argentina, James had 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

He did as he did during the regular season and in the Heat’s run to the title played a all around brand of ball that made his team better and silenced all the critics that made their voices very clear when he “took his talents to South Beach” and went down in defeat in the Finals in 2011 to the Dallas Mavericks. One year later he became just the second player in Olympic history to be named MVP of the regular season, the Finals, to win a championship and a gold medal. The other is Michael Jordan who accomplished all of that in 1992. He also joined Anthony and David Robinson to be the only American players to win three medals in the Olympic. He also in these Olympic passed hall of famer Scottie Pippen into first all-time in US Olympic in assists and passed Barkley into third place all-time in US Olympic scoring with 266 points. James and Anthony were on the 2004 team that came in third in the Olympics garnering the bronze medal.

“I just wanted to try to make an imprint on the game. I had four fouls, but when I got back into the game, I wasn’t going to leave home with those four fouls. I just wanted to try to come in, be aggressive and blessed enough that I was able to make a couple of shots to help out team win,” James said to Sager after the game.

No one understands how much James meant to this team and how great of a player than he is than Coach K who said, “He’s the best player in the game right now… He understands the game and there’s not a part of the game that he cannot do well. He can play every position and he’s a great student of the game.”

Speaking of the Duke University Blue Devils head coach, he along with USA Basketball Managing Director Jerry Colangelo together helped to remake a team that prior to the last two Olympics that resulted in gold medal finishes, saw their standing in the world fall after their third place finish in Athens in 2004.

When Colangelo became the Managing Director in 2005, he set out to change the culture of USA basketball and put together a team that would put the US back on top of the mountain. In the selection process this time around he wanted the players that were selected to try out for the team to make a three-year commitment to Team USA. The other part is that it was not just about picking the 12 best players for the team, it was about pick the 12 best that were going to work together. In Coach K, Colangelo selected a head coach that embodies that way of thinking.

It is no wonder why the 2008 team had players like Tayshaun Prince, Carlos Boozer, Michael Redd, Chris Bosh, Deron Williams and Jason Kidd to go alongside the likes of Anthony, Bryant, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade. The 2012 team had Tyson Chandler, James Harden, Kevin Love, Andre Iguodala, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis that went alongside Durant, James, Bryant, Anthony and Paul.

You had superstar players mixed in with role players who did the little things that do not show up in the box score and who believe in team first.

These are things Coach K stresses and believes in. Teamwork, commitment, respect, courage and a willingness to prepare for the moment to be great.

That is how you go 62-1, with the only loss coming in the 2006 FIBA World Championships to Greece, help lead your team to four gold medals (2007 FIBA, 2008 and 2012 Olympics and the 2010 World Championships).

It also allows this 65-year old proud graduate of West Point Academy that has four NCAA National titles to his credit to express true joy and exuberance like Coach when he Paul scored a lay-up at end of the 24-second shot clock to put Team USA up 104-93 and Coach K jumped in the air to show how he felt after a great play was made.

“They cooperated Craig fully. Basically they said to me we’ll do anything you want me to,” Krzyzewski, who said that this was his last game as Team USA head coach, said to Sager after the game.

“We’ll not play, come off the bench. What ever you say coach will do and they’ve done that every second that I’ve coach this program for the last seven years. That level of cooperation I don’t think people can truly appreciate it. I never have a problem with them in how you sub or whatever your doing. Their attitudes are amazing.”

The question now is, who will replace Coach K and coach in the 2016 Olympics in Rio?

Two guys off the cuff that come to mind would be San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich or maybe Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. The one name though that would be a wild card is Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doug Collins.

Whoever it is, they will have a great opportunity in front of them as well as a major challenge to continue the run of greatness that Team USA has had. The one thing that will be in the favor of that new head coach is that they will have players who will bring an amazing attitude about winning and hard work.

The amazing attitudes of the 2012 team began with James, Bryant and Durant, three guys who are not just the three best scorers in the NBA, but three guys who understand the standard that they have to live up to and what playing for your country means.

“This is all about U.S.A. It’s not about me. Its about these three letters on our chest and we’re happy that we were able to represent our country the right way and bring home the gold,” James said to Sager after the game.

“We all appreciate each other and we all know there’s one common goal is to win for our country so we put everything else aside and came out here and played as a group and we got a great gold medal coming back home,” Durant said to Sager after the game.


For most of 2012 USA Men’s Basketball team, they have made great names for themselves as they have both had amazing careers both individually and have had success on the teams that they play or have played on in the pros. To win a gold medal though is very special. It shows that you are the best in the world. Those that are in attendance in the arena get to hear your country’s national anthem, which in the case of the USA The Star Spangles Banner. More than anything else though you get the chance to see grown men, millionaires show joy, excitement and a sense of accomplishment that is unlike any other.

It’s what makes all your prior accomplishments more valuable and the sweat and tears it took to get to those points that much more special.

For Chandler, he won Defensive Player of the Year this past season and was on the 2010 FIBA World Championship team and has a Olympic Gold medal to match. Durant, who won the last three scoring titles in the NBA, was the Most Outstanding Player in the 2010 FIBA Championships won his first Olympic Gold medal. Westbrook won his first Gold medal. Iguodala, who will being playing for the Denver Nuggets this upcoming season after eight years with the Philadelphia 76ers and helping to lead them to the second round of the playoffs this past season won his first Olympic Gold medal. Love, who for the first time in his young NBA career got a chance to be a part of a winning team and can hopefully take what he learned in his time with Team USA and make the Minnesota Timberwolves into a winner this upcoming season and beyond. Harden, who won Sixth Man of the Year this past season and was mentored by Collins who helped him go from a player with who did bring his A game to the table while at Arizona State to one of the best in the NBA. Paul who helped the Clippers become winners again this past season and now has two gold medals. Davis who went from being part of a National Championship team at the University of Kentucky (30-2 in 2011-12), the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft this past June by the New Orleans Hornets to the youngest American basketball player to win a gold medal.

If there is one thing that can also be said about these Olympic is that there is no comparison between this team and the 1992 Dream Team.

For starters that team of Michael Jordan, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, John Stockton, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Robinson, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Chris Mullin and Christian Laettner and what they did in Barcelona is why NBA players have continued to represented in the Olympics.

In the 1992 Olympics, The “Dream Team” in their 8-0 run to gold averaged 117.3 ppg; shot 58 percent from the floor; averaged 29.9 assists per contest and their average margin of victory was 43.8 ppg.

Two other big differences is that the front line of that team in 1992 of Robinson, Barkley, Ewing, Malone, Pippen is no where in the same class as the front line of the 2012 team. The other factor is that the 92 team had that cache about them. The opposition was overwhelmed that they were on the same court as the players they idolized.

One example of this is the fact that in one game, a player went to tears when Jordan fouled him.

Fast forward 20 years later, there are 80 international players in the NBA and the world as shown in 2004 when Argentina won the gold medal in Athens, the world had caught up to us. Players walked on the court with confidence that they can stand toe to toe with Team USA.

The other thing is that the Dream Team was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2010. Eleven of the twelve members of that team individually are in the Hall of Fame, Barkley, Johnson, Jordan, Bird, Ewing, Malone, Stockton, Mullin, Robinson, Drexler and Pippen. All 11 of these players played in the NBA Finals at least once and have a combined 22 rings and all 11 played in at least one all-star game. They also have won a combined 14 Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards.

The 2012 team came into these Olympics with an impressive team resume themselves with this group of 12 players having a combined 43 All-Star appearances, 22 All-Defensive Team Selections, seven NBA title rings, six scoring titles and four MVP Awards.

What separates the 1992 team from the 2012 team is that the 1992 had some guys that were accomplished and many who as their careers went on were able to get to that top of the mountain and win rings, particularly late in their careers like Jordan, Pippen, Robinson and Drexler or have a chance like Mullin, Stockton and Malone.

The 2012 team, five of the seven rings are from the hands of Bryant, with James and Chandler holding the other two. While James’s and Bryant’s chances of winning another title before their careers are over, the rest of the players their opportunity to win it all will rely on luck and how their teams are constructed this year and beyond.

With all of that being said both the original “Dream Team” and the 2012 team do have a lot in common. They were both lead by Hall of Fame coaches, the late Chuck Daly, who helped lead the Detroit Pistons to back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990 and Coach K, who has aforementioned four NCAA titles and was an assistant on the 1992 team. They both had a collection of superstars who played well together and were all about the team. Above all they both as Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said in the postgame after Team USA won the gold that it did not matter the money these have made in their careers, how cool they are to the public or the kind of brand that they represent. At the end of the day both the 1992 team and the 2012 team can say that they brought the gold medal back to the US and proved that when it came to basketball, that we have the best team in the world.

“Nothing beats winning. It’s not about the money or being cool or your brand. Winning is winning and watching the celebration you can see they put as Doug Collins said sweat equity into this team and they got a gold medal out of it,” Rivers, whose son Austin Rivers who was drafted No. 10 overall by the Hornets in last June’s draft said.

Information, statistics and quotations are courtesy of Aug. 2, 2012 10 a.m. Gold Medal game between Spain vs. United States on WNBC commentated by Bob Fitzgerald, Doug Collins and sideline reporter Craig Sager;;

Hall_of_Fame#Teams;’s_Olympic_basketball_team#Roster XXX Summer Olympics coverage on NBC family of networks;;Sporting News Official 2006-07 NBA Guide.

J-Speaks: The U.S.A. Women’s Olympic Team Captures Gold Again

Ever since they added women’s basketball to the Olympic games in 1976, the United States women’s national team has been the class of the world. In their first two attempts at the Olympics the U.S.A. After capturing the silver in 1976, they captured gold in 1984 in Los Angeles and in 1988 in Seoul. They had a disappointing showing in the 1992 games in Barcelona going just 4-1 and finishing in third garnering just a bronze medal. In the following four Olympics, the US Women’s National team was head and shoulders above the rest win four straight gold medals and their average margin of victory in those four Olympics was by 28.6 in Atlanta; 21.7 in Sydney; 23.7 in Athens and 37.6 in Beijing. They finished the drive for five in style on Aug. 11.

In the gold medal game versus France the United States won 86-50 to capture their fifth consecutive gold medal.

With the victory, Team USA captured their seventh overall gold medal in nine tries in the Olympics and it was their fifth consecutive gold medal and their 41 consecutive win in the Olympics. They improved their overall record in the Olympics to 57-3.

They moved themselves into third place all-time in terms of consecutive gold medals in Olympic competition.

In first is the USA Men’s Basketball team who won seven straight gold medals from 1963-1968. In second is India Men’s Field Hockey team who finished at the top six times from 1928-1956. After the US Women’s Basketball team, the Soviet Union Men’s Ice Hockey team garnered four straight gold medals from 1964-1976 and tied with them is Canada’s Men’s Ice Hockey team who also won four gold medals from 1920-1932.

The team was lead by Los Angeles Sparks forward/center Candace Parker who had 21 points and 11 rebounds.

Team USA in the victory allowed no more than 15 points in a quarter to France, which they got in the first. In the final three quarters, the French National team scored just 10 points in quarter No. 3, 12 points in the 3rd period and an unlucky 13 in the fourth and final quarter.

“This is the ultimate goal. To win a gold medal for your country and it means a lot to all of us and to everyone involved in USA basketball. Everyone back at home. it’s a special feeling,” Phoenix Mercury forward/guard Diana Taurasi said to NBC’s Craig Sager after the victory in the gold medal game.

In going 8-0 in the tournament the Women led the Olympics scoring on average 90.6 ppg, averaging 50.5 rebounds per contest and dishing out 23.1 assist per contest. The average margin of victory in the Olympics for the women’s national team in 2012 was about 34 points per contest.

This was the third gold medal for Taurasi, Indiana Fever swing woman Tamika Catchings and Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird.

“Just want to keep that legacy going. The three of us were kind of like the next generation,” Catchings said to Sager after the game.

“The torch was passed down to us and I think we have a big responsibility on our shoulders, but we took care of business.”

It was the second gold medal for Chicago Sky center Sylvia Fowles and forward Swin Cash, Parker and Minnesota Lynx forward/guard Simone Augustus.

Winning their first gold medals were Lynx swing woman Maya Moore and her teammate guard Lindsey Whalen, Atlanta Dream forward/guard Angel McCoughtry and Connecticut forward Aisha Jones and center Tina Charles.

“Winning is fun. It feels good. There’s no better feeling really because we’ve all experienced losing. We did it in 2006,” Bird, who was part of the FIBA team that finished in third in 2006, told NBC’s Craig Sager after the game.

“We didn’t like it. I know I didn’t want to feel like that again and off course the tradition. There’s been many players in the Olympics and kind of set the standard. We did it for them just as much for ourselves.”

To truly understand the standard the kind of team that this edition of Team USA brought to the table here are some jaw dropping numbers of the careers of the 12 players and their careers coming into these Olympics.

Combined the players had won 10 gold medals. Including the team’s head coach Geno Auriemma, who coaches the women’s team at the University of Connecticut, have 22 NCAA championships; 10 Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) titles; 11 Euro League titles; 22 WNBA All-Star selections and three WNBA Most Valuable Player Awards (Catchings, Parker and Taurasi).

On top of that, this team really did not have a whole lot of time to together to prepare for these Olympic games. There biggest advantage that they had was the fact that six of the players on the team Cash, Bird, Moore, Jones, Taurasi and Charles played for Auriemma at UConn and knew what his system was and that wisdom and knowledge came in handy in Team USA’s race for gold.

That helped in the games because they were able to use their individual greatness along with teamwork on both the offensive end as well as the defensive end to win all eight games in the Olympics.


The greatest example of that came in the Semifinals versus the Australian National team.

Team USA trailed Australia 47-43 at intermission. They allowed Australia to shoot 61 percent from the floor and Storm center Lauren Jackson and Tulsa Shock center Liz Cambage combined for 25 of those points on 11 for 16 from the floor. In the second half the United States outscored Australia 43-26 holding them to just 9 for 34 shooting from the field, shooting just 26 percent. Cambage and Jackson went just 2 for 8 from the floor combined in the second half, scoring just eight points. All eight of those came from Jackson alone, who finished with 14 points and 17 rebounds. Charles and Taurasi each led the way with 14 points. Charles also added 10 boards and four assists.

In going 8-0 in the tournament, Team USA made some history in the process.

In the July 30th Preliminary game versus Angola, Parker led the way with 14 points, 12 rebounds and a USA Olympic record four blocks in the 90-38 win.

Aug. 1 Preliminary game versus the Turkish National Team McCoughtry led the way with 18 points, 10 of those points came from the free throw line in as many attempts in the 89-58 win.

In the Aug. 3rd Preliminary game versus the Czech Republic, Team USA had 62 rebounds and blocked eight shots in their 88-61 win. Taurasi led the way with 18 points and Charles had 15 rebounds, which the second most a USA player in Olympic play.

In the Aug. 5th Preliminary game versus China, Team USA tied an Olympic record for them scoring 114 points in their 48-point win. Taurasi led the way with 22 points.

In her first Olympics, Moore joined three of her teammates and some other great women to wear the Red, White and Blue of Team USA.

Moore became the 8th player to win a NCAA title, which she won twice at UConn; a WNBA title, which she won with the Lynx as they captured the title a year ago, trying to repeat this season and a Olympic gold medal. She joins fellow Lady Huskies Taurasi, Bird and Cash along with Kara Walters, hall of famer Cynthia Copper, Cheryl Swoopes and Sky center Ruth Riley.

One of the biggest advantages that Team USA has had over its competition is the fact that a number of the players participate in basketball overseas once the WNBA season is over.

This allows them to get used to the physical play, how the game is referred and the overall play of basketball on the international level.

“So once you have the stage of playing for the Olympics, I think the Women’s team (Team USA) actually does a much better job of adjusting to the rules,” four-time gold medal winner and WNBA legend with the Sparks Lisa Leslie told NBC’s Dan Patrick during halftime of the gold medal contest.

The question now is how much longer can Team USA hold the mantle as the best team in the world? On top of that, will Auriemma coach Team USA in 2016 in Rio.

To answer the first question, it all depends when the world catches up and decides to stand up and beat Team USA.

As far as if Auriemma will coach the team in 2016, history say maybe not.

The first team in 1976 was coached by Cal State-Fulerton head coach Billie Jean Moore and one of the players on the team was Pat Head, who we now know as Pat Summitt. The 1980 team was coached by Stephen F. Austin State head coach Sue Gunter and the assistant coach was Summitt and one of the players on that team was Anne Donovan, who also played on the team in 1984 and 1988. Summitt was the next head coach in 1984. North Carolina State head coach Kay Yow took the reigns in 1988 and one of the players on the team was former WNBA player and an assistant coach on this past summers gold medal team Jennifer Gillom. The 1992 team was coached by Rutgers Lady Scarlet Knights head coach Theresa Grentz and one of the assistant was current Fever head coach Lin Dunn. In 1996 Team USA was led on the sidelines by Stanford Lady Cardinal head coach Tara VanDerveer. In 2000, the team was led on the sideline by Nell Fortner, former women’s basketball head coach at Auburn. The 2004 team was coach by former WNBA head coach of the four-time champion Houston Comets and now the head man for the Louisiana State University Lady Tigers Van Chancellor. Two of his assistant coaches were Donovan and current Lady Scarlet Knights head coach C. Vivian Stringer. Donovan took to the sidelines for the 2008 Olympics and two of her assistants were former WNBA player and coach of the University of South Carolina Lady Gamecocks Dawn Staley.

There are a number of candidates that can take the job if the USA committee decides to not bring Auriemma back. They could go with Gillom or Staley. Whoever gets the chance they will have a task at hand to maintain the standard that Team USA has set and they know what is expected.

“We get along really well. We’ve known each other for a long and its not easy to be put together and expect to win a gold medal, but we find a way to really work together,” Taurasi said to Sager after the game.

Information, statistics and quotations are courtesy of’s_national_basketball_team;;; 8/11/12 coverage of the Women’s Gold Medal Basketball Game vs. France on WNBC 4 New York commentated by Bob Fitzgerald and Ann Meyers-Drysdale.

J-Speaks: National Basketball Association Hall of Fame Welcomes A Pacer Great

It was 25 years ago this past summer when the Indiana Pacers had the No. 11 pick in the first round of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft and they had two people on their radar. A local person who just led the University of Indiana Hoosiers to a National Championship and a UCLA guard who was from Riverside, CA that was really unknown to most of the country. Current Pacers President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh decided to select at No. 11 that unknown person from UCLA. The result he helped the Pacers become one of the best teams in the NBA and he had one of the best careers one could dream of. Individually he was incredible, the team he played his entire career for became incredible and on Friday, Sept. 7 he became the second person in his family to be enshrined forever in Springfield, OH along with some of the greatest basketball players, coaches, media people and innovators of all-time.

Reggie Miller who played all 18 of his seasons with the Pacers and currently is an analyst with the NBA on TNT/NBA TV was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the 2012 class.

The current color analyst for the NBA on TNT joined Mel Daniels, Phil Knight, Katrina McClain, Don Nelson, Hank Nichols, Ralph Sampson, Chet Walker, Lidia Alexeeva, the All American Red Heads and Jamaal Wilkes.

He became the second person in his family to receiver that honor. His older sister Cheryl Miller who also works for the NBA on TNT as a sideline analyst was inducted into the Hall of Fame 17 years ago. She along with fellow hall of famers Los Angeles Lakers great and NBA on ESPN studio analyst Earvin “Magic” Johnson (Class of 2002) and Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns great and fellow analyst for NBA on TNT Charles Barkley (Class of 2006) welcomed Reggie into the Hall of Fame.

When you hear all the statistics that this proud player put up in his career, you can understand why his selection to the Hall of Fame is no surprise.

In his 18 seasons with the Pacers, Miller scored 25,279 points, averaging 18.2 points per contest in those 18 seasons. He is second all-time in three-point field goals made with 2,560 and he was the first player who hit 2,000 three-pointers in his career. The only other player to do that is current Miami Heat guard Ray Allen. He played 1,389 career regular season games for the Pacers. Only the Hall of Fame tandem of the Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone and guard John Stockton played more games for one team in NBA history.

He was a five time all-star selection (1990, 1995-96, 1998 and 2000); three-time All-NBA Third-Team selection (1995-96 and 1998) was part of the 1994 FIBA World Championship team that won the gold medal and was part of Dream Team II in Atlanta, GA that also won Gold at the 1996 Summer Olympics. More than anything else though in his 18 seasons with the Pacers, Miller helped lead his team to the playoffs in 15 of those 18 seasons.

“I don’t take moments like this for granted. I am so honored to be part of this great evening with all these great players,” Miller said in his acceptance speech.

He also in his acceptance speech into the Hall of Fame paid homage to his older sister Cheryl.

“A lot of people wish they could be in a house with the greatest of anything. I just so happened to live across the hall from absolutely, positively the greatest woman’s basketball player ever,” Miller said.

“I’m proud to say I am not on this stage if it wasn’t for you Cheryl Dean. We as a Miller family are not held at a high level if it wasn’t for you. We road your shoulders all the way here. So thank you very much.”

For every story, particularly this of an amazing player on the hardwood like Reggie Miller’s has been and continues to be as an analyst for TNT, there is always a beginning to it.

Miller’s journey to the hardwood and eventually to the Hall of Fame began in Riverside, CA. Growing up his first love was baseball. He was a huge fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers. When he first started playing he was a pitcher in little league.

Miller brought all of his focus to basketball entering middle school and high school when he wanted to play in the outfield and no longer be a pitcher.

“Basketball had that non-stop action. Every play, the fans and the crowd and teammates were into it,” Miller told his TNT colleague Kevin Harlan in an interview last week on Tuesday.

“Plus I was such a fan of watching because Cheryl was all world since she was in the fifth grade.”

Here was the kind of greatness that was in the Miller family. Reggie’s brother Darrell is a former Major League Baseball catcher. His other sister Tammy played volleyball at California State University, Fullerton

As he got older, he got a chance to play with his older sister and the rest of his siblings and it was from playing against them that he had to develop his game to the point where he could compete with them. It is from these games that Miller developed his famed high arcing and high release point on his shot.

Miller took those amazing skills and rose to prominence at Riverside Polytechnic High School.

When it came time to take his talents to the collegiate level, the only schools that were interested in him were Arizona State, which former TNT analyst and current coach of the Sixers Doug Collins was an assistant, Cal. State where his sister Tammy attended and Colorado State.

Reggie’s father, who is about 90 years old and a former member of the United States Navy serving 26 years, did not want his son playing out of state because he wanted to see his son play. He also did not want Reggie to attend University of Southern California (USC) because he wanted his son to make his own identity on the hardwood and not always be known as the little brother of Cheryl.

He decided to go to UCLA and went on to become the second leading scorer in the school’s history. The first being Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was at the time Lew Alcindor.

What allowed Miller to rise to the success he did as a collegian, being a two-time All Pac-10, now Pac-12, First-Team selection (1986-87) was that each day some of the former greats in the history of the school like hall of famer Bill Walton, Abdul-Jabbar and fellow member of the 2012 class Wilkes would come by everyday to the campus and even practice and interact with Miller and his teammates.

“Everyday when one of these great UCLA players would come through, getting a chance to talk to them and find out how basketball has evolved from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, you soak all that up and that’s what I tried to do. I just tried to be a sponge and soak all the information I could to try to become a better basketball player.”

All great players, particularly in college have that breakthrough moment where they get the attention of the nation.

For Miller, that moment came on Feb. 28, 1987 when he scored 33 points in the second half against the defending NCAA national champion Louisville Cardinals and their star player “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison.

When Miller graduated from UCLA with his degree in history, he finished aforementioned second in all-time scoring to Abdul-Jabbar and as of three years ago, still holds the highest scoring average for Pac-12, holds the UCLA single-season records for most points scored in Pac-12 and most free throws and holds several individual game records.



When it came time for the NBA Draft in 1987, the Pacers had the No. 11 overall pick and were deciding on Miller and New Castle, IN native and Hoosier product who just led IU to the national title Steve Alford.

Walsh and the Pacers selected Miller at No. 11, which made the fan base of the Pacers unhappy.

“When we made the pick there were a lot of boos, but what I noticed pretty quickly was there were a lot of cheers so it wasn’t as boo lateen as I think its reported to be,” Walsh said to Matt Winer of NBA on TNT/NBA TV on Tuesday of last week.

In his first four seasons with the Pacers, Miller made major improvements going from a 10.0 ppg (1987-88); 16.0 ppg (1988-89); 24.6 ppg (1989-90) to 22.6 ppg (1990-91). The team however did not do as well only making he playoffs in only two of those four seasons and they were swept by Detroit Pistons 3-0, who won their second straight title that season and they lost in in five games to Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics.

In the off season, the Pacers traded away leading scorer and the face of their franchise forward Chuck Person along with guard Michael Williams to the Minnesota Timber wolves for forward Sam Mitchell and Jerome “Pooh” Richardson. This meant that the team was Miller’s to lead.

He would show that he could shoulder the load and all that came with it on the date of on Nov. 28, 1992 when he scored a franchise record 57 points at the then Charlotte Hornets going 16 for 29 from the field, 4 for 11 from 3-point range and 21 for 23 from the free throw line in a 134-122 win. The team finished the 1992-93 season with a 41-41 record. They lost in the first round to the New York Knocks 3-1.

After another exit in the quarterfinals Pacers felt they had to make some kind of change to get them to the next level and stop being one and done in the postseason.

They hired Mr. Fix It among head coaches in Larry Brown and the result the Pacers finished the season with a franchise record as an NBA team with 47 wins. Miller was the team in scoring at 19.9 peg.

In the playoffs as the No. 4 seed, they swept the Orlando Magic 3-0 in the first round. In the East Semifinals they defeated the Eastern Conferences No. 1 seeded Atlanta Hawks in 4-2.

In the Eastern Conference Finals they drew the Knocks and it was as epic as a series could get.

After splitting the first four games with both teams winning on their respective home courts, someone had to take control of the series in the pivotal Game 5 and after being pretty quiet for the first three quarters, Miller stepped onto center stage at Madison Square Garden and took control.

In that June 4, 1994 contest Miller scored an unbelievable 25 points in the four quarter hitting big-time shot after big-time shot, including several from the three-point line it was he described an, “out of body experience,” which is something he said he might have had just three or four times on the court in his great career.

What made it even more special was during this out of this world scoring explosion is that Miller was going back and fourth in an animated way with noted Knocks fans and film director, actor, writer and producer Spike Lee. One memorable exchange that took place is after Miller made a shot he looked at Spike Lee while he had both of his hands on his throat expressing that the Knocks are going to choke at the hands of the Pacers.

When it was all said and done, the Pacers escaped New York with a 93-86 win and a 3-2 lead. They would lose Game 6 back at Market Square Arena 98-91 and in Game 7 despite leading at one point by 15 points lost to the Knocks 94-90 and lost the series 4-3 as the Knocks advanced to the NBA Finals, only to lose to the Houston Rockets in seven games.

While he did not get a chance to achieve the ultimate goal, he had a chance to represent his country in the 1994 FIBA World Championships.

Miller teamed up with Derrick Coleman (New Jersey Nets), Joe Dumars (Detroit Pistons), Tim Hard away (Golden State Warriors-injured), Kevin Johnson (Phoenix Suns), Larry Johnson (then Charlotte Hornets), Shawn Kemp (then Seattle Supersonics), Dan Majerle (Suns), Alonzo Mourning (then Hornets), Shaquille O’Neal (then Orlando Magic), Mark Price (then Cleveland Cavaliers), Steve Smith (then Miami Heat-current analyst for NBA TV), Isiah Thomas (Pistons-injured) and Dominique Wilkins (then Hawks).

The team went 8-0 that summer winning by an average of 23.7 points per game en route to a gold medal and a spot in the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta, GA

The next year, the Pacers had a five-game improvement in the win column winning 52 and capturing the franchises first Central Division crown in the NBA.

After sweeping the Atlanta Hawks in Round 1 of the 1995 playoffs, the met the Knicks again in an epic seven-game series.

The drama in Game 1 where the Knicks led the Pacers 105-99 with 18.7 seconds remaining in the game on their end of the court. Miller caught an inbounds pass from guard Mark Jackson and made a three to cut the deficit to 105-102. He then stole an inbounds pass from Knicks forward Anthony Mason, retreated to the three-point line and hit another three to tie the score at 105.

The ensuing play Mitchell fouled Knicks guard John Starks sending him to the line for two free throws. Unfortunately the 73.7 percent foul shooter missed both and after a follow attempt by center Patrick Ewing fell short Miller got the rebound and was fouled. He went to the line and made both free throws that eventually gave the Pacers a 107 -105 win and a 1-0 series lead. They would go on to defeat the Knicks 4-3 advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight season. They would lose in seven games to the Magic who went on to the Finals but got swept by the Rockets 4-0.

The next year, the Pacers won 52 games again, but lost in Round 1 of the playoffs in five games to the Hawks.

That summer Miller got the opportunity of a lifetime to play with Dream Team II in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, GA.

Playing along with Miller were five players from the original Dream Team from the 1992 Olympic Gold Medal team of Barkley, Malone, Stockton, David Robinson (San Antonio Spurs and Scottie Pippen (Chicago Bulls). The other teammates Anfernee “Penny” Hard away (Magic), O’Neal (Magic) Hakeem Olajuwon (Rockets), Gary Payton (then Supersonics) Grant Hill (then Pistons) and Mitch Richmond (Sacramento Kings). The coach was Lenny Wilkens, who at the time was coaching the Hawks.

Dream Team II rolled to victory going 8-0 in the Olympics and in capturing the gold medal won by an average of 31.8 ppg. In their 133-70 victory over China in the fourth game of the eight-game run to the gold, Miller who hit then an Olympic record 5 for 8 from three-point land in scoring 17 points. The 133 points were a then a U.S. Olympic record. The 34,417 in attendance to witness this feet was an Olympic record for an audience.

“After seeing in Barcelona and the original Dream Team, I knew in 1996 I had to be a part of that. Especially being in Atlanta,” Miller said to Harlan.

“That’s the highlight of my career because your playing with the same guys your trying to trip, hold, elbow to win a championship. Now there on your side. Now let’s go take on the world.”

Looking back after seeing what the 2012 edition did in making a lasting memory of their own, it allowed Miller to look back to 1996 and have a great appreciation for what happened in Atlanta back then, particularly when they played the national anthem after the United States captured gold.

“People don’t understand. You hear it before every ball game and all that and you take it for granted, but when you are representing your country and especially in a team setting and you guys all step up at the same time and its only your anthem there’s no better feeling,” Miller, who wore his gold medal during the 2012 team’s gold medal game versus Spain, said to Harlan.

The next season, they won just 39 games and missed the playoffs and in the off season relieved Brown of his head coaching position.

In his place they hired a home legend from French Lick, Larry Bird to lead them to the promise land.

In his first season on the bench, the Pacers won a franchise record 58 games. They would defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers and Knicks en route to returning to the Conference Finals where they would face the back-to-back defending champion Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan.

After losing the first two games in Chicago, Indiana won Game 3 back at Market Square Arena 107-105 to cut the series lead 2-1. In Game 4 on May 25, 1998 the Pacers trailed 94-93 and staring at a 3-1 deficit Miller went from the middle of the court right under the rim came around the top going to the right. He pushed Jordan away from him caught the inbounds pass from forward Derrick McKey turned and made a three-pointer that gave the Pacers a 96-94 lead. Jordan banker attempt at the buzzer did not connect and the Pacers won 96-94 and tied the series 2-2.

The Pacers in Game 5 were a no show as they were blown out in in Chicago 106-87 and trailing 3-2. In Game 6, the Pacers did show up back in Indiana making all the big plays down the stretch and winning 92-89 to force a decisive Game 7.

In that Game 7, the Pacers battled and lead for much of the game. Chicago however came back and in the fourth quarter took control of the game and eventually finished off the Pacers in Game 7 88-83 to win the series 4-3 and denying Miller his chance at a title. The Bulls went on to win their third straight title defeating the West champion Utah Jazz for a second straight season in six games.

Coming into the next season, the Bulls were not the same. Jordan retired and the Bulls were dismantled. The Pacers saw an opportunity to win it all, especially in a shortened season because of the lock out. They went on to achieve a 33-17 record, winning the Central Division and the No. 2 seed in the East.

They swept the Milwaukee Bucks in Round 1 3-0 and Sixers in the Conference Semis 4-0, but lost to the No. 8 seeded Knicks in the Conference Finals 4-2 to be denied another chance at the title.

In that Game 6 loss Miller had one of those night you would like to forget as he went just 3 for 18 from the field, including 1 for 7 from three-point land scoring just eight points.

In 2000 the Pacers again had a strong season winning 56 games, capturing their second straight Central Division crown and got the No. 1 seed in the East.

They had a devil of time in the first round versus the No. 8 seeded Bucks who took the Pacers to the brink. Indiana did squeak out a victory in the decisive Game 5 96-95 to win the series 3-2.

They went on to the East Semis and defeated the Sixers in six games. They set the tone in Game 1 when Miller and his teammates Jalen Rose became the first set of teammates to each score 40 points in a playoff game as they each scored 40 on the nose. Miller hit seven threes that game and Rose went 16 for 24 from the floor.

“Sometimes when a player gets going, it’s something special when a teammate gets going also,” Rose, who is now a basketball analyst for ESPN, told Winer on Tuesday of last week.

For the fifth time in the last seven seasons, the Pacers advanced to the Conference Finals to face the rival Knicks again. After they split the first two games of the series, the Pacers as they did back in 1994 they won Game 5 back 88-79 to take a 3-2 lead.

Unlike years past, the Pacers finally broke through the wall and Miller lead the way scoring 17 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter as the Pacers won Game 6 93-80 to win the series 4-2 and represent the Eastern Conference in the Finals for the first time in team history.

The Pacers unfortunately would not capture that elusive NBA crown as they lost to Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in the Finals 4-2 to capture their first of back-to-back-to-back crowns. Miller in the Finals averaged 24.3 points per contest.

At the end of the season, Bird retired from coaching, longtime center Rik Smits retired and in the years that followed Miller’s role as the team’s top scorer shifted as well as his leadership to the likes of Jermaine O’Neal who came to the team the next season and in the season’s that followed players like Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson, Jamaal Tinsley Fred Jones, Jeff Foster who came on board with the Pacers in the years that followed 1999-00. Miller was still a major cog in the Pacers offense in those seasons averaging 18.9 ppg, 16.5 ppg and 12.6 ppg in those three seasons that followed

In the first three years under new head coach Isiah Thomas, the Pacers made the playoffs but had early exits losing to the Sixers, the then New Jersey Nets and Celtics.

The team went in a new direction when they hired former Detroit Pistons’ head coach Rick Carlisle to be their new man on the sidelines with the Pacers.

They won a franchise record 61 games capturing the Central Division crown again as well as the No. seed in the East. Miller that season averaged 10.0 ppg.

They swept the Celtics in Round 1 4-0 and defeated the Miami Heat in six games. The team’s return to the Finals would be derailed by the eventual champion Pistons in the Conference Finals in six games.

Indiana hoped that the next season they would finish what they could not in 2004-05, but that all changed in the seventh game of the season.

It was the scene of one of the ugliest moments for not just the history of the Pistons and Pacers but in the history of the NBA. It was on this night in 2004 at the Palace of Auburn Hills where late in the fourth quarter flares tempered with the likes of Pistons center Ben Wallace and Artest of the Pacers where it escalated to the point that a fan threw something onto Ron Artest and he and Stephen Jackson went into the stands.

The result, Artest was suspended for the rest of the season, O’Neal and Jackson received lengthy suspension from the NBA, Miller had to take the reigns of the offense again and for a period of the seasons averaged nearly 20 points per contest.

“In hindsight, I would have gone to coach Rick Carlisle and told him to pull the starters. Something was in the air,” Miller, who did not play in that game because of a hand injury, said to Harlan.

The team did end up winning 44 games that season and defeated the Celtics again in Round 1 of the playoffs 4-3, but lost to the Pistons in the Semis 4-2.

In that 88-79 loss in Game 6 on May 18, 2005 Miller had 27 points going 11 for 16 from the field, including going hit 4 for 8 from three-point land at age 39.

“As the time is ticking off the clock and you know that your not going to force that Game (7) back to Detroit, that’s when you start to replay everything in your head when it comes to basketball,” Miller said to Harlan.

“To getting your shot blocked by Cheryl. To getting up early and running “The Hill in Riverside, CA with your dad, to playing your first high school game to signing your letter of intent to UCLA. You start to replay all of that because this is it. At a competitive level this is it.”

What made this moment even more gratifying is that the end came against the team whose coach was the reason the Pacers came to prominence in the 1990s Larry Brown, who called a time out as Miller exited to give him the kind of respect that he earned in his 18-year career with just one team. That moment at ESPN’s annual ESPY Awards won the 2005 ESPY for Best Moment of the year.

“He was amazing. Even when he retired, I think he could of played another five years,” Brown said.

“People use to say he was thin and weak, not tough. He was strong, tough and competitive.”

It is that toughness and strength both internally and externally that allowed Miller on Mar. 18, 2001 vs. Sacramento Kings to surpassed the 21,000-point mark and make his 2,000th three-point field goal made.

It also allowed him on Mar. 30, 2006 he had his jersey raised to the rafters of Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

It is that same strength and toughness that gains the respect of your teammates and opponents.

A true sign of that respect came on Jan. 4, 2005 versus the Bucks, O’Neal a career-high 55 points. With 1:43 left in the game, O’Neal agreed to be taken out of the game to preserve Miller’s scoring record of 57 points that has stood for nearly two decades.

Over the course of the last week some fellow Hall of Famers, teammates, opponents took the time to share what they felt about Miller’s and his great accomplishment being elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Hall of Famer and former Pacers teammate from 1997-2000 Chris Mullin called Miller, “one of the greatest shooters of all-time. When we were in a close game and the ball was in his hands, the Pacers were in good shape”

“Reggie Miller. I love him and I’m very happy that he’s being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He deserves it. Great competitor and he killed the Knicks. Bottom line he killed us,” Spike Lee said.

Fellow Hall of Famer and teammate at the 1994 FIBA World Championships Hawks great Dominique Wilkins said Miller is a “hall of famer. It’s simple as that. I thought he’d would be on the ballot last year. Should have been. Never the less he’s a hall of famer now and its well deserved and I’m really happy for him.

“A little kid from Detroit getting a chance to play with a great hall of famer. Congratulations Reggie. I love you like a brother. You really deserve it.”

“Playing against and coaching Reggie and knowing his personality, Reggie his more shots in crucial times than about anyone I’ve ever seen. Being elected to the Hall of Fame is the ultimate. The icing on the cake for anyone. It’s a great honor,” Bird said.

“I still don’t like the Pacers. Still don’t like Reggie. We get along now, but every now and then when I see him, I still want to smack him,” Ewing, who Knicks went 3-3 versus the Pacers in the postseason in his career.

The ultimate complement about Miller’s induction into the Hall of Fame came from the one other guy he trusted and respected as a teammate was former teammate for five seasons and current head coach of the Golden State Warriors Mark Jackson.

They were so close that they stood up late when the team was on the road, they talked game plans and other players in the league. They laughed together and cried together after wins and losses.

“He’s the one guy that probably along with maybe Dale Davis that I know for 100 percent they have my back,” Miller said to Harlan.

Jackson said of Miller that in being around Mille that they are very similar as people. That they are competitive at everything. They cannot stand losing. That they are experts at everything that they talk about, including basketball.

“Fortunately for the both of us in developing our relationship we disagree with everything and it only added fuel to the fire, but he’s a great guy and a brother to me,” Jackson, who along with Miller helped the Pacers reach three straight Conference Finals, said to Winer.

One story that Jackson said in describing the kind of person Miller is was one Halloween, Reggie dressed up like Michael Jackson and came to his teammates home in full effect from the jacket, white glove and hair. Miller was dressed as the “King of Pop” from head to toe.

“He’s not to big to make himself look foolish or to have fun with life,” Jackson said to Matt Winer about that moment.

If there is one thing that this moment represents more than anything, besides the value of hard work, but what having an example of greatness to follow in terms of the siblings that Reggie Miller had in his family and the kind of parents like his dad who served in the Navy for 29 years and what he said to his son when he called him after finding out the news.

“I’ve been waiting for this day. For him to say, ‘I’ve been waiting for this day. I’m so happy for you son. This is great.’ It’s surreal to have a brother and sister in the Hall of Fame,” Miller said to Harlan.

It was 25 years ago that the Indiana Pacers selected the ‘6’7’’ 180lbs shooting guard out of UCLA and he found a way as he said to Harlan to “put the Pacers on the map.” He did individually becoming the 2nd best three-point shot maker in NBA history. He’s scored over 25,000 points. Played in the third most games for one team in NBA history. Winning a gold medal and it culminates in being enshrined in the Hall of Fame alongside your older sister.

“At the end of the day, ultimately people judge you on winning championships, but it’s the ride in between that’s so great,” Miller said.

“The journey of the ups and downs. The teammates along the way from Riverside Poly Bears to UCLA Bruins to 18 years with the Pacers through six to eight different head coaches along the way. You learn a lot about yourself and you grow up. At times you can be so immature when your in high school and college and a little bit in the NBA, but I always felt if I surrounded myself with positive people, which I did good things are going to happen. I didn’t win the ultimate prize which is a championship but it was so fun trying. I loved it.”

Information, quotations and statistics are courtesy of 9/4/12 7 p.m. show of Looking Back with Reggie on NBA TV hosted by Matt Winer, interview conducted by NBA on TNT play-by-play analyst Kevin Harlan; 9/7/12 7:30 p.m. 2012 Hall of Fame Ceremony on NBA TV;; Sporting News Official 2006-07 NBA Guide;

J-Speaks: The Passing of Legendary NFL Owner

In 1961 an American businessman born in Brooklyn, NY in 1925, whose father George was a wine sales manager who purchased a National Football League franchise and under his leadership was considered one of the flagship franchises, not to mention a institution to many Northern Ohioans. After 34 years however, that proud team was gone and left a bad taste in the mouths, especially in the 2000 season when many Ohioans saw their former team under a new name claimed the biggest prize in the NFL. From that point forward despite all that this great owner did for Cleveland, not to mention for the league for that matter, his legacy had a major asterisk next to it that never went away. On Thursday, Sept. 6 however he took that pain to the other side.

Ninety-Six hours ago, Arthur “Art” Bertram Modell, the former owner of the Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens franchise for 43 years passed away from natural causes at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD. He was 87 years old.

Modell’s wife of 42 years Patricia Breslin passed away on Oct. 12, 2011 from pancreatitis. She had two sons from her first marriage to character actor David Orrick McDeramon (1914-1979), John and David. After getting married, Modell legally adopted John and David and they took his surname. Between the two, there is a total of six grandchildren.

Before he became owner of the Browns, Modell worked in advertising, public relations businesses and television production in New York, NY.

In 1961, Modell purchased the Browns for $4 million, with an investment of just $250,000 of his own money, borrowing $2.7 million and his founded partners covered the rest.

One of Modell’s first orders of business as the new owner is he fired legendary coach Paul Brown on Jan. 9, 1963, who helped to lead the Browns to seven league titles.

Modell then quickly named Brown’s assistant Blanton Collier as the new head coach seven days later that year.

For the first three seasons with Modell as owner, the Browns did not make the playoffs. That all changed in the 1964 seasons where they went 10-3-1 and appeared in the NFL Championship Game where they beat the Baltimore Colts 27-0 lead by legendary head coach Don Shula and Hall of Fame signal caller Johnny Unitas at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

In the 30 years that followed, the Browns would appear in seven NFL/American Football Conference (AFC) championship games, but never won another title. This is after dominating the NFL and the former All-American Football Conference winning seven titles in a 17-year span.

While he was making the Browns into a model franchise, Modell used his advertising background to make the NFL a bigger player in America. One big innovation came in 1962 where he scheduled preseason doubleheaders at Cleveland Stadium.

He became very active in NFL leadership serving as the league’s President and he used his connections in the television world to help negotiate the league’s increasingly lucrative television contracts. It is because of that innovation that we have the kind of NFL coverage that takes place on ESPN, FOX and CBS.

Modell was willing to provide the Browns as an opponent for both the first prime time Thanksgiving game in 1966 and the opening Monday Night Football broadcast in which they defeated the New York Jets 31-21.

He also used his quick wit to explain why it was importance of sharing all network television revenue on an equal basis per team so that a small market team like the Green Bay Packers to the larger market team like the New York Giants each were able to get a equal slice of the revenue by jokingly saying, “We’re 26 Socialists who hate America!”

In 1968 as chairman of the Owners Labor Committee, Modell was successful in negotiating the NFL’s first players’ collective bargaining agreement.

“Art Modell’s leadership was an important part of the NFL’s success during the league’s explosive growth during the 1960s and beyond. … Art was a visionary,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said on Thursday.

“Art Modell made extraordinary contributions to the National Football League during his decades as an NFL owner. … He was a trusted advisor to both Commissioner (Pete) Rozell and me during our time in office,” former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said.

The good will and all the respect and appreciation that Modell gained with the faithful of Cleveland all changed 16 years ago when he moved the Browns to Baltimore. He was assisted by Alfred Lerner, who would go on to become the new owner of the reactivated Cleveland Browns franchise in 1999.

The reaction to the move in Northern Ohio was hostile. Modell had promised not to move the team. He even publicly criticized the Baltimore Colts‘, now the Indianapolis Colts and he even testified in favor in court on the side of the NFL where they were unsuccessful in stopping the late great owner of the now Oakland Raiders Al Davis from moving the team from Oakland to Los Angeles. There were a number of reports circulating that Modell was quoted in stating that he would not visit Cleveland during games between the Baltimore Ravens and the Browns in fear for his life.

The case eventually went to Cuyahoga County Court where the City of Cleveland sued Modell, the Browns, Stadium Corp, the Maryland Stadium Authority and its director John A. Moag, Jr. in Case No. CV-95-297833 the City of Cleveland vs. Cleveland Browns.

The case was brought to court because the City of Cleveland believes that the Browns breached their stadium lease, which required the team to play its home games at Cleveland Stadium for several years beyond 1995.

Both sides did eventually work out a deal and the Browns franchise was deactivated for three years. Modell agreed to leave behind the Browns’ name, team colors of orange, white and brown and heritage, which includes the organizations records for a replacement team in the form of either a new team or a relocated franchise.

Modell in return was allowed to take the franchise rights, players and organization to Baltimore as the new expansion Baltimore Ravens.

The situation would eventually turn out well for the NFL as a proliferation of 12 new stadiums throughout the NFL. Through the use of the NFL-City of Cleveland agreement’s promise to supply a new team to Cleveland by 1999.

Many of NFL franchises used that threat of relocation that coerce their respective cities to build those new stadiums through the use of public funds. Some of those organizations included the Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Detroit Lions Arizona Cardinals and Colts.

When the Browns relocated to Baltimore and named the Ravens in 1996, the team did not start well out of the gates missing the playoffs their first three years in their new city.

That all changed in 2000 when the Ravens went 12-4 and qualified for the postseason for the first time as a franchise winning the AFC Wild-Card position.

Led by a stingy defense that was anchored by All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis, former Pro-Bowl quarterback Trent Dilfer and head coach Brian Billick, the Ravens defeated the Denver Broncos at then PSINet Stadium 21-3. They then went on to defeat the AFC Central champion Tennessee Titans 24-10 in the Divisional Playoff game. They then traveled to Oakland for the AFC Championship Game and they defeated the Raiders 16-3 to advanced to Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa Bay.

In Super Bowl XXXV vs. the New York Giants, the effective offense and the prolific defense all came together and the Ravens defeated the Giants 34-7 to win the franchises second championship.

“When you think about Art Modell, you think about a great man, a leader, a father and a servant. … When you truly see the impact he had on everyone he touched it humbles,” Lewis said in a statement on Thursday.

After owning the franchise for 44 seasons, Modell sold the Ravens to minority owner, Maryland businessman Steve Bisciotti. When he was having health problems, Modell sold controlling interest of the team to Bisciotti in 2004. Modell did retain his one percent share and remained a consultant for the team.

One very important thing that separated Modell from a lot of owners is that he was not afraid of giving unknowns a chance to rise.

On Nov. 22, 2002 he named Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome the general manager of the Ravens.

In the 10 years that Newsome has been at his position in the organization, he has become very well respected by his peers and is considered one of the very best in the NFL.

“Art was a giant in our industry. …The opportunities he gave me are historic, and I will be forever humble and grateful,” Newsome said on Thursday.

Back in 1961 Modell was a businessman that purchased the Cleveland Browns and made them into a model franchise. He then took that franchise to another city and while they have thrived in winning a Super Bowl, he never returned to Cleveland and fans there have not forgotten.

Under Modell the Browns/Ravens franchise combined to win two championships and had 18 playoff appearances.

Despite all of his great achievements both as owner of the Browns and what he did for the NFL, he will always be remembered as the man who took something from the fans in Cleveland. The same way that LeBron James will always be remembered as the man who left the Cavaliers in free agency and took the championship dreams of fans and the organization with him to the Miami Heat.

Information, quotations and statistics are courtesy of 9/6/12 5:30 p.m. of the Bottom Line sports crawl during ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption,” with Michael Wilbon and Bill Simmons;;;

Monday, September 3, 2012

J-Speaks: Getting Back to the Books

It is that time of year again. The time in which we turn the page from staying up late to enjoy life, watching the television set and playing video games on a consistent basis. Talking on the phone and texting with friends. Most of all its that time of year where you get into hunker down mode and take on the challenge of advancing your education and taking another step into becoming an adult gaining your independence.

Yes it is time to go back to school. It is time to bring the focus, concentration and commitment that is necessary to make that stride to becoming a better person in the classroom as well as out. It is time to establish good habits and build a bridge that will allow to cross into the light of your own unique greatness and evolving character that will make you better as well as the people around you better.

To reach that mark having gone through this counting my years in college, 22 times, here are my five ways in which you should approach this very big day.

For starters embrace the day. For many of you especially if this is your very first day of school, there are a lot of things that you will most likely be feeling. Scared, anxious, nervous and maybe terrified.

Those feelings are okay, there normal. However, it can not deter you from the task at hand. This is part of the experience of life. You will have experiences that are not going to be easy. It is these kind of experiences though that build your character. This first day is the beginning of your journey in life. A chance for you to build not just new friendships with your classmates, getting the chance to learn skills in books and from the teacher that you will have for nearly 10 months that will, if you bring the right mindset, build your confidence, give you the chance to learn something new and more than anything raise your own expectations of what you expect of yourself in the classroom as well as out.

My next piece of advice as this new school year begins is to respect your education. In today’s world it does not matter how much know or how much you think you know, if you do not have the ability to improve on what you have learned already and are not willing to sharpen your skills, your chances of rising in today’s world become very slim.

To get the kind of knowledge that will provide you the chance to rise the top, you have to be in class on time, you have to bring total focus and concentration to your school work and homework. This cannot happen with a good night sleep, a solid breakfast in the morning and an attitude, no matter what happened the day prior, that you will not be denied. When it comes down to it, you are in charge of your own destiny. You have to be willing to not let anything stand in your way of becoming better. Getting your education, respecting it and protecting it is on your shoulders.

Besides embracing and respecting your education, you have to believe in yourself and that you deserve the right to get a great education.

I said before that you can have all the talent in the world, but you have to believe in yourself first and foremost. You can have anyone from your family and your friends say to you that you deserve a good education, but you have to believe it yourself.

It is that belief that gives you the courage to not just be yourself, which is ultimately the big difference that separates you from others, but it is the thing that will get you through the tough dog days of the school year. It is also the great equalizer in what will make you stand by something that others may not as easily take to. Whether it is how you feel about a subject of conversation or about another person.

What also happens when you believe in yourself, you project an image to people that makes them respect you. They see that you are not a push over. That you do believe in something. That you will stand by your conviction when things might get tough and they most of the time will. Above all else it allows people to build confidence in you and even sometimes give that person their own sense of confidence in their own self.

Something that I feel that is very important when a new school year begins that is especially critical now is to have an open mind.

Whether it comes to being around different people, learning about different things about those people or just being in a new surrounding, the greatest challenge is to not brush it off and give the notion that you do not care.

When you embrace something new, like being around a person that is new to the school, a simple gesture like saying “hello,” and introducing yourself goes a long way in breaking the ice. It also develops character and bridges a gap that can open like a canyon if the other approach is taken.

Also, having a open mind will allow for you to learn more about our planet and its people. To learn its history from the beginning, where we stand now and what might lay ahead in the future. On top of that, it gives you a chance to see how important of a role you play in how your life can be and the effect it can have on others.

My last words to all of you as you begin the new school year are to enjoy this moment.

This is one moment that is unlike any other you will have. This is moment where you get a chance to make your mark in how your year will begin. It is where you get to turn optimism, hope, dreams into reality. You get to set your course on how you will approach your work in school, how you will expand you friendships as well as begin new ones. You have the chance to learn from educators and other important figures in school on how to be a better person, grow in your knowledge, gain wisdom that will aide you in navigating your life in a better way and more than anything else open doors to new experience that will shape your life.

In less than 24 hours, the sun will rise, the school bus will be right at its scheduled stop. You will hopefully be on it and on your way to school with the opportunity take your life to another level. Embrace it. Respect. Be open to it. Enjoy it. You deserve it. No got out there and go to it.