Monday, July 25, 2016

J-Speaks: The Passing of a Game Changing NFL Head Coach

While many look at current NBC “Football Night in America” studio analyst Tony Dungy as the standard for African American head coaches in NFL history in terms of wins, right behind him was the man that he worked for who set that standard. This individual learned from one of the best offensive minds in pro football in Hall of Famer Bill Walsh. He took those same teachings as a collegiate coach and from Walsh and turned it into his own and in the “Twin Cities” became the grandfather of one of the best passing games in NFL history. That great offensive mind said goodbye over the weekend.

Former NFL head coach Dennis Green, who coached for 13 NFL seasons with the Minnesota Vikings (1992-2001) and the Arizona Cardinals (2004-2006) passed away this past Thursday from cardiac arrest. He was 67 years old. He is survived by his wife Marie and their four children Patti, Jeremy, Zach and Vanessa who were by his side when he passed.

In 13 seasons as the head coach first with the Vikings and then with the Cardinals he amassed 113 wins, garnering a 113-94 record and went 4-8 in the postseason. Only a former member of his coaching staff, current NBC “Football Night in America” analyst Tony Dungy has more wins by an NFL head coach that is African American with 139.

Green led the Vikings to the postseason eight times in his 10 seasons reaching the National Football Conference Championship (NFC) Game in 1998 and 2000. Only Hall of Famer Bud Grant coached more games, garnered more wins and has a better winning percentage in Vikings history.

Before his rise in the NFL, Green cut his teeth in the game of football as a running back for three seasons with the Iowa Hawkeyes. He had brief pro career for the British Columbian Lions of the Canadian Football League (CFL) in 1971.

His coaching journey began as a graduate assistant for Dayton Flyers in 1973 as their running backs coach and wide receivers coach. From 1974-76 was the running backs coach at his alma mater Iowa. He moved on to Stanford University coaching the running backs as well for two seasons before his first tour of duty with the 49ers in 1979. Green then served as the offensive coordinator back at Stanford and then was the head coach for four years (1981-85) at Northwestern University. He came back to the 49ers in 1986 and was the wide receivers coach for two seasons, including on their Super Bowl XXIII, his only ring as either an assistant or head coach in the NFL.

“He was my wide receiver coach for so many years and we stayed friends over the years also. So I’m really saddened by it,” Hall of Fame wideout multiple Super Bowl champion Jerry Rice said last week.

“He really did a lot for my career, because he was one of those coaches that never let me get complacent and he never let me felt like I had arrived. … He was the type of coach that really influenced me throughout my career. … He was more than a coach. He was almost, like, you know, my best friend. Someone I could always depend on, someone—even I was having some difficult times—he had something positive to say to get me going.”

He returned to Stanford to be their head coach from 1989 to 1991 before becoming the fifth head coach in Vikings history and just the second African American head coach after Hall of Famer Art Shell and just the third after Frederick “Fritz” Pollard.

Green used what he learned from Walsh and his legendary West Coast Offense to put together one of the most prolific high-octane offenses in NFL history in 1998 as the 15-1 Vikings led by quarterback Randall Cunningham, wide receivers Randy Moss and Hall of Famer Cris Carter set an NFL record for most points scored by a team in a season, which was eventually surpassed by the 2007 New England Patriots led by Tom Brady and Moss and surpassed six years later by the Denver Broncos of soon to be Hall of Fame signal caller and two-time Super Bowl winner Peyton Manning.

“Denny made his mark in ways far beyond being an outstanding football coach,” the Vikings said in a statement last week. “He mentored countless players and served as a father figure for the men he coached. Denny founded the Vikings Community Tuesday Program, a critical initiative that is now implemented across the entire NFL. He took great pride in helping assistant coaches advance their careers. His tenure as one of the first African-American head coaches in both college and the NFL was also transformative.

One of those assistants was Mike Tice, who succeeded Green as head coach in 2001 called Green a “great motivator of men.”

“Great teacher of coaches. Excellent eye for talent,” Tice said. “I hadn’t seen Denny in years, but I find myself quoting him: ‘Plan your work and work your plan.’ He taught me a lot.”

Another former assistant and Super Bowl champion head coach with the Ravens back in 2000 Brian Billick said that Green was the best coach he was ever around in regards to having a great eye for talent.

“Whether it was the draft, whether it was free agency, whether it was getting the most out of the players that you had,” Billick, who now works as an analyst for the NFL Network said.

Former Vikings running back and current college football analyst for FOX Sports on Twitter said of Green’s passing, “I lost my mother in April, I feel like I just lost father.”

One of the last people to speak with Green before he passed was sportswriter Larry Fitzgerald, Sr., the father of Cardinals All-Pro wideout Larry Fitzgerald told ESPN’s Josina Anderson.

“Denny was my guy,” Fitzgerald, who son served as a ball boy on the Vikings sideline in his youth said. “He gave me an opportunity to host and produce his radio show eight years ago.”

As mentioned earlier, the Vikings went 15-1 in 1998 winning the then NFC Central Division, but lost in the NFC title game 30-27 to the Atlanta Falcons at home on Jan. 17, 1999 when Falcons’ place kicker Morten Anderson made the game-winning field goal in overtime.

The Vikings made it back to the playoffs the next year going 10-6, but lost in the NFC Divisional Round to the eventual Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams.

The Vikings won their second NFC Central crown in three seasons going 11-5 and made it back to the NFC Championship Game. They were on the short end again losing at the New York Giants 41-0 back on Jan. 14, 2001.

The next season the Vikings finished 5-11, their first losing season in Green’s tenure. He was bought out of his contract on Jan. 4, 2002 and Tice led the team in their regular season finale on Monday night, a 19-3 loss at the Baltimore Ravens.

After two seasons working as an NFL analyst for ESPN, Green was hired by the Cardinals on Jan. 7, 2004.

Unlike the success he achieved in Minnesota, where his opening salvo to the press on Jan. 10, 1992 when he replaced the retiring Jerry Burns that there was a “new sheriff in town,” the Cardinals went 6-10 in season one under Green and 5-11 in the next two seasons before he was given the boot on Jan. 1, 2007 with one year left on his contract.

The worst loss during Green’s time as Cardinals’ head coach came on Oct. 16, 2006 on “Monday Night Football,” when his team blew a 20-point lead in less than 20 minutes and lost versus the eventual NFC Champion Chicago Bears 24-23.  

After the game, Green delivered a press conference lash out heard around the NFL world by saying, “The Bears are who we thought they were. They’re what we thought they were. We played them in preseason….We played them in the third game-everybody played three quarters-the Bears are who we THOUGHT they were! That’s why we took the damn field! Now if you want to crown them, then [hitting his right hand on the side of the podium] crown their ass! But they are who we thought they were! And we let’em off the hook!

While the team did rally to win four of their next seven games that season, many pundits felt that loss versus the Bears and the unforgettable tirade that followed sealed Green’s fate which it did.

That explosive press conference is still used today, more as a form of comic relief as a description of certain flaws. In fact the beer company Coors used that outburst in a television commercial.

That presser though was a snap shot of the kind of gritty, high energy and straight to the point personality that Green had.

“All of us at the Cardinals are incredibly saddened by the news of Dennis Green’s passing,” team president Michael Bidwell said in a statement last week. “Coach Green will rightly be remembered as a true innovator, leader and pioneer among football coaches. We express our deepest sympathy to his family and his many friends.”

In collegiate game and the game of pro football Dennis Green had an impact in developing players like aforementioned Cunningham, Carter, Moss, Daunte Culpepper, Kurt Warner, Warren Moon, Emmitt Smith, Edgerrin James, Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin into Pro Bowlers and All-Pros on the field and making them better men off of it. He learned from the best in Bill Walsh and developed a plethora of coaches on his staff that went on to become head coaches, which includes Dungy, Green’s former defensive coordinator from 1992-1995. He was a barrier breaker and a gamer changer all in one. A coach that was beloved and left a major mark in the National Football League.

Information and quotations are courtesy of7/22/16 article “Dennis Green, ex-Vikings, Cardinals coach, dies at 67,” by Around the NFL writer Marc Sessler; 7/22/16 article, “Dennis Green Dies at age 67;” 7/23/16 9 a.m. ESPN Bottom Line news crawl during “Sportscenter;”;;

J-Speaks: NBA All-Star Weekend on the Move

For years, the NBA All-Star Weekend is a major showcase for the National Basketball Association. It pays homage to legends that have brought the game to where it first began, the current players who are taking the game to even greater heights and the future players that we see in the likes of the Rookie and Sophomore Game for a little over two decades of what the future of the league has to offer. It gives a chance for those of the NBA to interact with fans from across the globe. Unfortunately, the location for the 2017 Weekend has been moved because of an inclusive law enacted.

This past Thursday, the NBA issued a statement saying that the 2017 All-Star Game will not be taking place in Charlotte, NC due to the objections of the North Carolina law known as House Bill 2, which limits the protections from anti-discrimination for lesbian, gay and transgender people.

The bill, which is also known as The Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, which was signed by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R), requires that transgender folks to use the bathrooms which correspond to the sex on their birth certificate.

The law only applies to bathrooms in government buildings, public schools and public universities, not to private universities like Duke. Private companies are allowed to implement any policy of their choosing.

Ever since the law was enacted back in March, the NBA has expressed its dissatisfaction and opposition to HB2 and Thursday’s decision to move the All-Star Game comes about lees than a month after the North Carolina state legislators took another look at the law, but chose not to make any adjustments to it.

“Since March, when North Carolina enacted HB2 and the issue of legal protections for the LGBT community in Charlotte became prominent, the NBA and the Charlotte Hornets have been working diligently to foster constructive dialogue and try to effect positive change,” the NBA said in a statement last week. “We have been guided in these discussions by the long-standing core values of our league. These include not only diversity, inclusion, fairness and respect for others, but also the willingness to listen and consider opposing points of view.”

This decision made by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver was one that did not come easy, but was a decision that he wanted to make very swiftly and quickly.

According to a story in Thursday’s edition of Newsday, Silver wanted to make decision during the summer and that he and the league were disappointed when the General Assembly of North Carolina cleared a path for workers to use the law of the state to sue over discrimination based on a person’s race, religion, but left out the ability for a citizen of Charlotte to sue over discrimination against a person’s gender identity and sexual orientation.

While the door might be closed for having All-Star Weekend in Tar Heel country this upcoming February, with an announcement of its new location shortly, there is a hope that Charlotte could be rescheduled to host the 2019 Weekend, including the All-Star Game if there is a resolution.

Governor McCrory made his own statement last week stating that multiple groups had, “misrepresented our laws and maligned the people of North Carolina” for months.

“American families should be on notice that the selective corporate elite are imposing their political will on communities in which they do business, thus bypassing the democratic and legal process,” McCrory also said.

The Mayor of Charlotte Jennifer Roberts (D) also stated that she was “deeply disappointed” the HB2 bill caused the NBA to move February’s game.

“All-Star Weekend would have provided an excellent opportunity to further showcase our great and welcoming city,” Roberts stated last week. “Charlotte has shown it commitment to equal rights and inclusion and will continue to promote those values.”

According to a report from the The Vertical, via from Thursday, New Orleans, LA has emerged as the front runner to be the new host of the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend. Other cities that are in the running include, Chicago, IL, New York, NY and Brooklyn, NY.

To illustrate how big of blow this will be for the city of Charlotte, the city just said goodbye to $100 million, which according an announcement from State Senator of Mecklenburg County Jeff Jackson (D) would have gone to schools, health care and roads.

“We’ve sacrificed all of that for Gov. McCrory’s social agenda. He would rather pander to his base than fix an obvious mistake that has major consequences.”

One NBA player who is really sad about this decision is back-to-back regular season MVP of the Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry, who grew up in Charlotte because his father Dell, played for the Hornets for over a decade and is currently a color analyst for the team.

“Just I know how much that would have meant to the city,” the lead guard for the back-to-back Western Conference champion Warriors said on ESPN’s “Sportscenter” last week. “We support [the decision], but at the end of the day, I love Charlotte. I love the city.”

This decision also put a spotlight again on a particular state in the U.S. not evolving with the times of today. Not being completely inclusive to others regardless of the fact that they are different.

This is not new however. This is something that we have been grappling with even at the national level. At last week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, OH, an openly gay man gave a speech and he was well received. The Republicans at the national level and even in some states like North Carolina have not been welcoming to the change of seeing the likes of the LGBT community.

While the GOP has had a hard time evolving to the fact that the LGBT community deserves equal rights on all fronts, it has not stopped the likes of athletes for example stepping up and speaking their minds in support, especially this decision by the NBA.

Former NBA player Jason Collins, who became the first openly gay athlete in any of the four major pro sports when he played for the Brooklyn Nets of the NBA three years ago tweeted, “As a member of the NBA family and as a gay man, I’m extremely proud to see the NBA take initiative and move the All-Star Game from North Carolina. Their decision is an extremely poignant one and shows that discrimination of any kind is not welcome in sports and is not acceptable in any part of society. The NBA has set the best kind of example and precedent moving forward for all to follow.”

Turner Sports, which broadcasts the All-Star Game and the festivities like All-Star Saturday night and the Rookie and Sophomore challenge the night before said in a statement, “We fully support the NBA’s decision to relocate the 2017 All-Star Game and all the weekend’s events originally scheduled to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Laws to the contrary go against our fundamental belief of equality and inclusion for all individuals.”

The other big question is how will this affect other major events the city will have going forward in the next year.

Atlantic Coastal Conference (ACC) Commissioner John Swofford told ESPN this past Thursday that for now the league will keep its college football championship game in Charlotte. He also said that the ACC will revisit that decision this October.

The PGA of America, the hosts of the PGA championship released a statement this past Thursday saying that since the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte is a private facility, it plans to allow the spectators to use the facilities that conform with their current gender or gender of expression.

“As we look to future events, our willingness to consider coming back to the State of North Carolina will be severely impacted unless HB2 is overturned,” the PGA said last week.

What this decision by the NBA has shown us all is that we live in a world today where a majority of us feel that no matter your gender or sexual preference, it should not affect how our lives proceed. We all should be able to treat people equally and be respectful of who they are and what they are. Those who still want to be closed minded and continue to live and exist in an era where people had their lane and stayed in it, things like what the NBA decided to do will happen and at the end of the day, everyone is impacted financially and emotionally.

“We understand the NBA’s decision and the challenges around holding the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte this season. There was an exhaustive effort from all parties to keep the event in Charlotte, and we were unable to do so,” Hornets’ chairman, Hall of Famer and 14-time All-Star Michael Jordan, who played in the 1991 All-Star Game in Charlotte said on Thursday. “With that being said, we are pleased that the NBA opened the door for Charlotte to host All-Star Weekend again as soon as an opportunity was available in 2019.”
Information and quotations are courtesy of “NBA Statement Regarding 2017 NBA All-Star Game,” from; 7/22/16 article, “NBA Moves 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte over HB2 Bill,” from ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, Ramona Shelburne, Brian Windhorst, Andrea Adelson and Andy Katz; 7/22/16 Newsday article, "NBA: Charlotte Won't Host All-Star Game," by Katherine Peralta and Rick Bonnell;;

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

J-Speaks: The Passing of A Trash Talking NFL Defensive Wiz

In the history of the National Football League, there have many types of head coaches. Ones that can get the best out of their players being tough and demanding. Ones that can led through words and actions without yelling and screaming. Ones that had a unique ability to be game changers in how they created game plans that used their player’s unique skills to stand out on the great stage. That is the description of one of the finest defensive minds in NFL history, who also had the unbelievable ability to relate to his players while be demanding of them. He also had no trouble seeing a conflict or starting one with the opposition or amongst the team he was a part of. His greatest accomplishment was how his two sons followed in his footsteps and made their own legacy in the NFL. Last month those two proud sons said goodbye to their papa.

James David “Buddy” Ryan, the defensive orchestrator behind the famed 46 defense of the 1985 World Champion Chicago Bears of 1984 and the defensive line coach of the World Champion New York Jets of 1969 passed away back on June 28 at his ranch in Shelbyville, KY after a lengthy illness. He was 85 years old. He is survived by his three sons from his first marriage to Jim and fraternal twins Rex, head coach of the Buffalo Bills and Rob, who now serves as assistant head coach/defense.

While the cause of death was not disclosed, Ryan had survived two cases of melanoma, a severe form of skin cancer and suffered a major stroke in recent years. 

Ryan, who had no trouble speaking his mind during his coaching career in NFL was buried at Lawrenceburg Cemetery in Lawrenceburg, KY, where he also had a farm.

“He was many things to many people – outstanding coach, mentor, fierce competitor, father figure, faithful friend. But to me and my brothers, Rob and Jim, he was…everything you want I a dad-tough when he needed to be, compassionate when you didn’t necessarily expect it and a loving teacher and confidant who cherished his family,” Rex said in a statement released by the Bills organization last month. “He truly was our hero.”

Born on Feb. 17, 1931 just outside of Frederick, OK, Ryan played college football for then Oklahoma A&M University, which is now Oklahoma State University. He earned four letters as a guard between the years 1952 and 1955.

He served the US as a sergeant in the Army during the Korean War of June 1950-July 1953.

Ryan’s football journey as a head coach began in Texas at Gainesville High School in 1957, where he served as an assistant coach under Dub Wooten.

Ryan was promoted to head coach at Gainesville two years later when Wooten moved on to be head coach at Marshall High School in Marshall, TX.

Upon completion of his military service, which included playing on Army’s fourth championship football team in Japan in 1961, Ryan was chomping at the bid to continue coaching football, but not in the high school ranks.

Unfortunately, with so many great coaches in the state of Texas, those chances were hard to come by.

Ryan thanks to a former coach Carl Speegle putting a good word in form him became the defensive line coach for head coach Dick Offenhamer for the University of Buffalo Bulls in upstate New York, who were going into their first year at the NCAA Division I.

In a three-year span from 1962-1965, the Bulls’ defense was among the very best in the nation and posted 12 shutouts during that span.

In the middle of all this, two-time American Football League head coach Lou Saban of the Bills had reportedly offered Ryan his first chance at a coaching job in the pros in a similar role that he had with UB, but turned it down because he received a $2,000 raise to stay with the Bulls.

Ryan would finish his collegiate coaching career at Vanderbilt University, which came off of a stop at Pacific University.

Ryan’s first shot coaching in the pros came with the New York Jets of the then AFL in 1968 as the team’s defensive line coach and he made the most of it. He, defensive coordinator Walt Michaels and head coach Weeb Ewbank crafted a game plan of multiple blitz packages attacking signal caller Earl Morrall.

Those dynamic blitzes, consisting of the “59 blitz,” the “Taco Bell blitz” and the “Cheeseburger blitz” put the squeeze on the high-flying offense of the Baltimore Colts and Morrall who threw three interceptions and the Jets won Super Bowl III over the 18.5 point favorites 16-7.

After seven seasons with the Jets Ryan moved on to serve as the defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings.

Under Ryan’s direction, the front four of the Vikings, who were nicknamed the, “Purple People Eaters” of defensive tackles in Hall of Famer Alan Page and Gary Larsen and defensive ends Carl Eller, earned between them 19 Pro Bowl selections and were turned into one of the best defenses in the NFL history.

In 1976, the Vikings made it to Super Bowl XI, but were taken to the cleaners by Oakland Raiders 32-14.

One year later, the Vikings won the then Central Division at 9-5 and made it to the NFC Championship Game for the fourth time in the last five seasons, but fell to the eventual Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys 23-6 at Texas Stadium. It was in this season that Ryan put together a defensive scheme that become a major trend today.

It was called a nickel defense, which is designed to disrupt the timing of the opposing team’s passing attack on offense. That would be a part of the early stages of one of the most well-known defenses in NFL history at Ryan’s next and famed stop.

In 1978, the late great owner of the Chicago Bears George Stanley Halas, brought Ryan in to be the defensive coordinator.

It was here where Ryan created the famed 46 defense, which was named after the jersey number of then Bears’ safety Doug Plank, a favorite of Ryan’s.

The 46 defense was a formation that consisted of four defensive lineman and two linebackers at the line of scrimmage; two players in the middle of the field playing linebacker depth and three defensive backs.

It was not until 1981 when the defense really took form, thanks in large part to Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary’s ability to simply be dominate the middle of the football field.

“To stop a passing game, you can’t stop it unless you put pressure on it. Now some people are good enough to put it on with a three-man rush; well, we’re not. In fact, I don’t know whether we’re good enough to put it on with a four-man rush. If we have to send eight, we’ll send eight, but we’re not going to let you sit back there and pick us apart,” Ryan said in an interview with NFL Films in 1986.

When the Bears fired then head coach Neill Armstrong in 1982, the defensive players lobbied Halas to hire Ryan. Instead he hired Mike Ditka. To say the two did not get along is putting it mildly.

At first, Ditka resented Ryan and then hated him and the feeling was mutual from Ryan, causing the most severe offensive and defensive split in NFL history.  

The Bears went 15-1 during the 1985 season, but in their only setback 38-24 at the Miami Dolphins in a nationally televised Monday Night Football broadcast, Ditka challenged Ryan to a fight during intermission. It had gotten to a point where the players had to separate the two with the offense getting Ditka and the defensive players holding back Ryan.

The Bears would go on to win Super Bowl XX 46-10 over the New England Patriots in New Orleans, LA. At the conclusion of the game, the defensive players of the Bears carried Ryan off the field on their shoulders, while the rest of the team carried Ditka off, which marked the first time two coaches got carried off the football field after a Super Bowl victory.

The Bears defense led by the likes of the aforementioned Singletary and Plank, linebackers Wilbur Marshall (#58) and Otis Wilson ($55); safeties Gary Fencik, the late Dave Duerson and Hall of Fame defensive lineman Richard Dent (#95) and Dan “Danimal” Hampton (#99) along with superstar rookie William “The Refrigerator” Perry (#72) ranked No. 1 in points allowed at 198, a scoring average of 12.4 points allowed. They were also first in forced turnovers; surrendered the fewest yards and first downs.

What made the players show out in Super Bowl XX, Ryan told his defensive players that he planned to take the head coaching opening of the Philadelphia Eagles.

“You guys are going to be my champions,” Ryan, who had tears in his eyes when he said that to his players. “Let’s kick some tail.”

Hampton and defensive tackle Steve McMichael (#76) threw a chair respectably across the room with one sticking to a chalkboards expressing their emotions.

The team used that fire inside them to produce seven sacks and held the Patriots to minus-19 total yards in the opening half to run away with the game and sent off Ryan in the right way.

Following that Super Bowl victory, Ryan got his first shot as a head coach in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1986.

Ryan had a decent record in those five seasons going 43-38-1 making the playoffs three straight seasons and leading the Eagles to a NFC East Division title.

The team unfortunately lost all three times in the postseason and there were some moments that put Ryan in the crosshairs.

Upon his entrance into the city of “Brotherly Love,” he released running back Earnest Jackson who rushed for over 1,000 yards the past two seasons and limited the playing time of Eagles’ veteran QB and now NFL analyst for ESPN Ron Jaworski.

He did however coach the likes of signal caller Randall Cunningham; Hall of Fame defensive lineman Reggie White and safety Andre Waters. He drafted eventual Pro Bowlers in linebacker Seth Joyner; defensive end Clyde Simmons; the late defensive tackle Jerome Brown; cornerback Eric Allen; wide receivers in Hall of Famer Chris Carter and Fred Barnett and tight end Keith Jackson.  

In the Oct. 25, 1987 matchup against the division rival Dallas Cowboys, Ryan came under fire when the Eagles scored a touchdown in the closing moments with the game already in the victory column. Ryan had said this was revenge against Cowboys head coach Tom Landry who he felt ran up the score against the Eagles, who had replacement players in uniform during the 1987 strike season.

Ryan was in the headlines again on Thanksgiving Day of Nov. 22, 1989 when then Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson, now a studio host for FOX NFL Sunday had alleged that the Eagles’ head coach put a $200 “bounty” on placekicker Luis Zendejas and a $500 one on then rookie and eventual Hall of Fame QB Troy Aikman in what would become known as the “Bounty Bowl.”

“I have absolutely no respect for the way they played the game,” Johnson said afterwards. “I would have said something to Buddy, but he wouldn’t stand on the field long enough. He put his big, fat rear end into the dressing room.”

Ryan answered back in a humorous way by saying, “I resent that. I’ve been on a diet. I lost a couple of pounds and I thought I was looking good. And he goes and calls me fat and I kind of resent that a little bit.

Ryan was fired by the Eagles in 1991 and spent the next two years as a NFL commentator for CNN.

He became the defensive coordinator for the then Houston Oilers in 1993. Under Ryan, the Oilers’ defense help propel them to an 11-game winning streak at the end of the season.

That season will always be remembered though for the sideline brawl that broke out between Oilers’ offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride and Ryan in the regular season finale against the Jets in front of a national audience.

It reached this point between the two coordinators due to Ryan’s constant criticism of Gilbride’s “run and shoot” offense, which he referred to as the “chuck and duck.” In fact, Ryan once said of Gilbride that he, “will be selling insurance in two years.”

Ryan also thought that some last-gasp defensive stands cost the team two players who were injured and that could have been prevented when the offense could have closed the game by running the clock out.

In the closing moments of the opening half against the Jets, Gilbride called a pass play and when quarterback Cody Carlson fumbled the snap, Ryan began screaming at Gilbride, who then began walking towards Ryan, who was yelling back at him. When they were both in close range of each other, Ryan attempt to punch Gilbride in the jaw and linebacker Keith McCants and many other of the Oiler players separated them.

Gilbride would have the last laugh as he was hired as head coach of the San Diego Chargers in 1997 and was the OC on the New York Giants Super Bowl XLII and XLVI teams led by quarterback Eli Manning defeating future Hall of Famer Tom Brady and the New England Patriots both times.

The success of the team resulted in Ryan getting another head coaching chance with the Arizona Cardinals in 1994. When he arrived in Phoenix, AZ, the new head coach, who was also the general manager announced, “You’ve got a winner in town.”

The Cardinals went 8-8 in year one under Ryan, but were just 4-12 the next year

To this generation of NFL enthusiasts, Buddy Ryan is more known as the father of Rex and Rob Ryan and while he did not set the coaching world on fire, he was one of the best defensive coaches in NFL history, without question one of the top three.

He had no problem speaking his mind and had no problem standing up for what he believed in or showing love to the players he coached, who showed him that same love back.

At the end of the day he was a dad and two of his sons and Rob and Rex have carried on their father’s colorful, outspoken, relentless, brash and passionate love for the game as defensive coaches and in Rex’s case a head coach.

When he was introduced as the new head coach of the Jets seven years ago, the organization presented Rex with his father’s authentic warmup jacket when he was Ewbank’s assistant.

When Rex hired Rob to be on his staff this upcoming season, they had acknowledged that they hoped to win big for their dad in 2016 because they had no idea how much he was going to be around.

“I learned so much from my dad,” Rex, who led the Jets to two AFC Championship Game appearances, but lost both times said. “The way he would build his team on passionate, physical, aggressive people. I’m taking all those things from my father.”

Rex hopes to have the same kind of moment that his father had back in 1986 and that is to be carried off by his players after winning a Super Bowl. More than that though, Rex and his brother Rob hope to carry the legacy that their dad established back in Texas and throughout his pro career.

“The name ‘Ryan’ means something… That’s a family pride thing, and it’s certainly a big deal for me,” Rex said.  

Saturday, July 16, 2016

J-Speaks: Saying Farewell To A Legendary Spur

In the 1997 NBA Draft, The San Antonio Spurs selected out of Wake Forest University forward Tim Duncan. In the years that followed, the product of the Virgin Islands, who first love was being a swimmer would help lead the Spurs to multiple championships, playoff appearances in each of his 19 seasons and turn them into one of the most respected, revered and successful franchises in North American pro sports. On the surface he did it in a quite business like way, the numbers he put up spoke loudly of his greatness. This past week, that legendary pillar of the team from the “Lone Star state,” put a period to the paragraph of his basketball life.

On Monday, the 40-year-old Duncan, a sure first ballot Hall of Famer announced his retirement after 19 seasons on the NBA hardwood.

This announcement comes two months after the Spurs, who won a franchise record 67 games this past season, but were upset in the West Semifinals by the Oklahoma City Thunder in six games, which had many people asking if this was the last game of Duncan’s career, which it did turn out to be.

Its brings to an end to not just the career of what many consider the greatest power forward in NBA history, but it marks the end of an era for the Spurs and the league.

Duncan, whose nickname was “The Big Fundamental,” for his clinical approach to the game like shooting bank shots over dunks alongside the only head coach he ever had in his career in Gregg Popovich, fellow perennial All-Stars in starting lead guard Tony Parker and on-and-off again starter Manu Ginobili who at one point were on the presuppose of the championship into a five-time winners of the Larry O’Brien Trophy.   

“The constant staple of their franchise,” Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star forward and 2016 champion and Finals MVP LeBron James, who lost to Duncan and the Spurs twice in three chances in the championship round said earlier this past season.

“The greatest power forward ever,” Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford said at the start of this week.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called Duncan, “one of the most dominant players in NBA history,” and lauded him for an “understated selflessness (that) made him the ultimate teammate.”

From his first moments on a professional court at the Denver Nuggets former gym McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, CO in 1997 to his final appearance at Chesapeake Arena in Oklahoma City, OK back on May 12, Duncan put together a career resume that spoke very clear and concise about his career even though he did on his own.

Rookie of the Year in 1997-98; five-time NBA champ; three-time Finals MVP; two-time NBA regular season MVP (2002, 2003); 15-time All-Star; eight-time NBA All-Defensive First-Team Selection; 10-time All-NBA First-Team selection and Spurs all-time leading scorer with 26,496 points.

To expand on how great of a player Duncan was in his 19 seasons, his 15 All-NBA selections tie him with Hall of Fame center of the Los Angeles Lakers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and recently retired five-time champion with the Lakers Kobe Bryant for the most in league history.

Duncan along with Abdul-Jabbar and former Celtics great Robert Parrish are the only players to win at least 1,000 regular season games in their careers with Duncan winning 1,072  

Duncan’s 15-time selections to the NBA All-Defensive Team are three more than any other player in NBA history.

On top of that, he and Abdul-Jabbar are the only players in NBA history to score at least 26,000 points; pull down 15,000 rebounds and block 3,000 shots.

What separated Duncan from most of his fellow star counterparts in “The Association” during his career is that he was never for big endorsement deals or being the center of attention in press conferences, particularly during the playoffs.

To him, if it was not going to help the team become more cohesive on the court and give them the best chance to win, it did not interest him. That is probably one of the reason he and coach Popovich were so great together as a star player and head coach tandem and is why he gained a high level of respect from the opposition.

“For us as players, we just enjoy and appreciate each other,” Bryant, who became the only guard to player 20 years on the NBA said earlier this past season. “It’s not a matter of who’s better or who’s greater. You just accept the careers that you’ve had. I appreciate his career, and vice versa.”

The Spurs got the opportunity to draft a player who would become one of best ever when eventual Hall of Famer and then face of the Spurs in David Robinson played in just six games in 1996-97 season because of a back injury he sustained in preseason.

The Spurs as a result fell in the standings finishing 20-62 on the season, which gave them though the best chance to receive the No. 1 overall pick in that June’s draft via the lottery.

The did win the lottery and it focused on the most polished, two-way front court player in the country who spent four seasons at Wake Forest.

In his first season Duncan averaged 21.1 points and 11.9 boards on his way to capturing as mentioned earlier Rookie-of-the-Year and helping the Spurs win 36 more games than the year prior as they went 56-26 in 1997-98, which is very close to what happened to the team back in 1989-90 when Robinson captured Rookie-of-the-Year honors and the Spurs went from 21 wins the year before to 56 wins..

The Spurs captured their first of five titles in Duncan’s second season when they defeated the New York Knicks in the 1999 Finals in five games.

Over the past five seasons, Duncan faced questions of retirement and while team evolved into more of high up-tempo team with and this past season the centerpieces of the offensive attack were forwards Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, Duncan stills was a major part of the team, especially defensively and was a solid leader on the court, on the bench and in the locker room.

Back in 2014-15 at the age of 38, Duncan was an All-Star and even playing reduced minutes, he continued to be a major force defensively and rebounding wise.

Through an exhaustive work regimen over the past few off-seasons like boxing, swimming and a solid diet, he was able to keep pace with younger, faster and stronger players that he went up against the past few years.

That same workout regimen is what Duncan called upon in his last appearance on the court in Game 6 of the West Semis back on May 12 at the Thunder.

Before the start of the fourth period, Duncan and coach Popovich had a brief conversation on the bench.

While he was ineffective for much of the series, Duncan scored 19 points with five boards and along with fellow 40-year-old in back-up guard Andre Miller cut a 26-point deficit to nine in the fourth quarter before former Thunder player Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook closed the game and the series out 113-99 back on May 12.

Duncan played the entire 12 minutes of the period, more than likely taking in every last second in what was the last game on an NBA court.

When the game was over, he waived to the fans in Chesapeake Energy Arena and the always stoic forward pointed a finger towards the roof as he walked towards the locker room.

For 19 seasons, Tim Duncan was a model of consistency. He played every one of the 56,738 minutes of his career on the hardwood with a quiet confidence and a stoic calmness that made him a Sphynx to the average NBA fan, but one of the best by many others. He earned the respect from all 140 of his teammates that he played with, the one coach he played for his entire career in Gregg Popovich.

We will not get a final arena-to-arena tour nor a 60-point on 50 shots send off like we got from Bryant this past season. Tim Duncan went out like the way he came into the NBA. Quietly and quickly. He came, he played, he won and he left and earned the respect of all that saw him.

“For two decades Tim represented the Spurs, the city of San Antonio and the league with passion and class,” Commissioner Silver said. “All of us in the NBA family thank him for his profound impact on the game.” 

Information, statistics and quotations are courtesy of 7/4/16 11 p.m. edition of NBATV’s “Gametime,” with Matt Winer, Ron Thompson and David Aldridge; 7/11/16 article via Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press “Duncan Calls It a Career, Retires After 19 Seasons;” 7/11/16 article “Contrary To Belief, A Deep Fire Burned Inside ‘Quiet’ Duncan,” by Fran Blinebury;; and Year-by-Year Record of San Antonio Spurs in Sporting News “Official 2006-07 NBA Guide: 2006-07 Preview/2005-06 Review.”

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

J-Speaks: Race, Guns and Police: A Brutal Reality

In the span of 72 hours last week, a very dark part of society here in America was once again brought to light. A brutal reality of how the people who are sworn to protect the lives of all took the lives of two minorities. It was immediately followed 48 hours later by an army veteran took the lives of those sworn to protect us. That resulted in people from the North, South, East and West parts of the US taking to the streets and expressing their frustration, anger and outright sadness that we are once again in the crosshairs of something that once side of our society has ignored, thrown blame at with no hesitation and looked down upon for far too long.

This brutal reality all began just 24 hours after Independence Day when 37-year-old Alton Sterling, an African American was shot twice at point blank range while he has pinned to the ground by the Baton Rouge, LA Police.

According to a report from this past Friday’s edition of the New York Daily News, Sterling was selling Compact Discs in front of a convenient store. It was also reported that he had a gun in his pocket, but he did not draw it on officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake. Both policeman were placed on administrative leave with pay while the US Justice Department is investigating the case.

Less than 24 hours later in the Midwest, another African American in 32-year-old Philando Castile was fatally shot during a traffic stop in a St. Paul, MN suburb.

Castile, who was in the passenger seat while his fiancée Diamond Reynolds, who taped the entire moment on her phone was in the driver’s seat and her daughter was in the back seat was pulled for a broken taillight.

Not only was Castile, who told the officer that he had a gun on him not only fatally shot him, but the officer did not even offer him any medical assistant and slapped Reynolds in handcuffs. That officer was also put on leave and is being investigated by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Throughout the country, African Americans took to the streets in protest. Numbers of people were arrested in Baton Rouge, LA, New York, NY, Chicago, IL and Los Angeles, CA. Nearly 300 of those arrest took place in Baton Rouge, LA.

One particular protest though put an even bigger spotlight on how bad this divide of the police and African Americans as five Dallas, TX police officers, Rapid Transit Authority Officer Brent Thompson, who married a fellow officer just 14 days ago; Patrick Zamarripa who served three tours in Iraq; Michael Krol, Senior Corporal Lorne Ahrens and Sgt. Michael Smith were killed this past Thursday night by an army veteran Micha Johnson, who had been planning a much bigger attack as the FBI found out about those plans when they searched his home in Texas and found bomb making materials, a small stash weapons and a large cash of ammunition.

It was not just the fact that seven people lives were cut short, but families were devastatingly and unforgivable changed forever. Seven fathers will never see their children grow up. Spouses will now wake up each morning in their beds alone without their significant other by their side. Families lost loved ones.

To bring this point home even more, according to Mapping Gun Violence, The Washington Post and The Guardian, 509 people were shot and killed by law enforcement this year alone. A year ago 990 people were fatally shot by police.

The current U.S. population consists of 247 million Caucasian Americans, 62 percent of the population and 238 of them were gunned down by cops. The U.S. consists of 42 million African Americans and 123 of them were fatally shot by the police.

There are a lot of reasons we have this divide in our society. For starters Caucasian America, particularly at the political level has a fear of us. Sometimes a disdain from how we act; how we treat them in their presence. That we do not take life seriously or we fell that we deserve better. On top of that police that patrol or walk their beats in our communities see the poor shape the neighborhoods we live are in. That are work ethic at times can be call into question and that the family structure is more often than not intact.

From the side of African Americans, we do not reach out to law enforcement to show that we are not what many people express what we are via on television or in other forms of media. On top of that, we do not more often than not bring our best selves to the forefront when we are confronted by law enforcement. We immediately become defensive and put up a wall of disdain distrust, which has resulted in what we have seen for far too long, innocent African American lives being taken far too soon.

What we all have to understand at this moment is that going into our separate corners and simply pointing fingers at the other will not solve this.

For every person that has protested and express their aforementioned disdain for what happened to Sterling, Castile and the five Dallas cops, they have to become a voter in November.

It is one thing to express your anger verbally and with your feet. For real change to happen, it takes political will by those at the federal, state and local level. It takes politicians seeing the issue that is facing the citizens of their community, state and the nation and pulling together regardless if they are Republican, Democrat or Independent and work to solve the issue.

It takes us as citizens gather and talking to each other about our issues and why we feel the way we feel. What steps we can take to bridge the gap of our cultures and the issues that we care confronting.

Above all else though, the one thing that will have to happen is when an African American person is shot and killed and there is evidence that killing was done for a despicable reason, that officer or officers via the legal system are found guilty and have the book thrown at them.

In the cases of Tamir Rice, Michael Brown and Eric Garner in 2014, the officers were never indicted. In the current case of the death of Freddie Gray, two of the six officers have been acquitted of all charges. The other four are awaiting trial.

At the political level, our leaders at the Federal level, at the state and local level have to come to grips with the reality that we need serious gun control, while also at the same time bring to light that we need to take care of the mental health crisis that many of our people are dealing with.

It seems like every time we have a situation like what happened in Dallas last week, we hear from our leaders that we need to do something. That it is important that we take action to prevent another situation like this from happening. Instead the National Rifle Association grunts its teeth, raises their voices along with their capital and before you know it the fight for change is stopped in its tracks.  

It is something that President Barack Obama stated at a memorial service for the five fallen officers this past Tuesday in Dallas, TX.

“I have spoken at too many memorials during the course of this presidency. I’ve hugged too many families who’ve lost a loved one to senseless violence. I’ve seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change,” the President said. “I’ve seen how inadequate my own words have been.”

It does not also help when each state puts all of the pressure to deal with everything many African American families are facing. They are asked to be the caregiver when they have an inconsistent one in their life or lives or none at all. To be the counselor, parent, teacher, leader, confidant and the rule of all.

It takes solid, no nonsense we will do better leadership from the top to make our communities better. Putting better jobs that can turn into careers into underserved communities. Preventing easy access to drugs and many other deterrents out of the hands of people in those communities and instead have simpler access to libraries, books, computers and mentors who can show the up and comers a better way to live and grow as people.

That is what Castile was to the students at J.J. Hill Montesori School District. He began working in the local district at age 19. The students referred to the man who never missed a day or work in 14 years and at the time was a cafeteria worker as “Mr. Phil.”  

“He stood out because he was happy, friendly and related to people well,” Principal Katherine Holmquist-Burks said of Castile. “He was a warm person and a gentle spirit.

That is the one of 123 African Americans that was taken from us by the gun of a police officer this year alone, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

They join the likes of those who were killed leading up to this year Prince Jones, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Laquan McDonald, Eric Garner, Keith Childress, Bettie Jones, Malcolm Ferguson, John Crawford III, Junior Prosper, Keith McLeod, Dante Parker, Tanisha Anderson, Rumain Brisbon, Ramarley Graham, Amadou Diallo, Tony Robinson, Jonathan Ferrell, McKenzie Cochran, Kajieme Powell, Akai Gurley, Jerame Reid, Yvette Smith, Philip White, Eric Harris, Jordan Baker, Ezell Ford, Jamar Clark, Carlos Alcis, Larry Jackson, Kimani Gray, Chavis Carter, Kendrec McDade, Shereese Francis, Wendell Allen, Manuel Loggins, Alonzo Ashley, Aiyana Jones, Steven Washington, Aaron Campbell, Victor Steen, Shem Walker, Tarika Wilson, DeAunta Farrow, Ronald Madison, Timothy Stansbury, James Brissette, Kenneth Chamberlin, Sean Bell, Henry Glover, Oscar Grant, Tarika Wilson, Alberta Spruill, Ousmane Zongo, Orlando Barlow and Timothy Thomas.

All of these people mentioned as well as the officers had their lives cut short and their loved ones and those who were a major part of their lives will only have a sampling of stories to tell about who they were and not about what they could have been.  

Sterling leaves behind five children and one of them Cameron spoke to the nation on Wednesday, where also according to ABC News Baton Rouge Police were able to foil a plot where four people including a 13-year-old stole allegedly stole eight guns from a local pawn shop “Cash America Pawn” and were going to use them to attack police officers.  

“There should be no more arguments. Disagreements. Violence. Crimes,” he said. “Everyone should come together as one united family.”

 Castile leaves behind his aforementioned fiancée and her four-year-old daughter. The aforementioned officer Thompson was a newlywed when his life was cut at the age of 43; Officer Kroll who made his dream of being a cop a reality and spent nearly a decade protecting the citizens of “Big D;” Officer Zamarripa not only as mentioned and Iraq War veteran, but also a father. Sgt. Smith, who died at the age of 55 a week ago was a 26-year veteran of the Dallas Police force and Senior Corporal Aherns who was described by his colleagues as “a big guy with an even bigger heart.”

These are the lives that from this point forward that we as citizens of this country; the Presidential candidates in Hillary Clinton for the Democrats and Donald J. Trump for the Republicans, who will be accepting their party’s nominations at their conventions in Cleveland, OH and Philadelphia, PA respectably over the next two weeks and those that are running for the Senate and Congress and other political positions now and in the future will be charged with making sure that something is done to bridge this racial divide and to some way, somehow allow us to see each other not as the enemy, but as people who are trying to do right for ourselves.

If we do not take this with the seriousness and with the sense of urgency that what will the next headline be?

Information, statistics and quotations are courtesy of 7/8/16 article “Am I Next, Daddy?” in the New York Daily News by Larry McShane; 7/10/16 9 a.m. edition of “Sunday Today,” with Willie Geist; 7/10/16 10 a.m. edition of ABC News’ “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” hosted by Martha Raddatz; 7/13/16 6 a.m. edition of CNN Headline News’ “Morning Express with Robin Meade;” 7/13/16 12 p.m. edition of “Eyewitness News at Noon,” with David Navarro, Shirleen Allicot and Bill Evans; report from Ray Raimundi of ABC News.  

Sunday, July 10, 2016

J-Speaks: Three-Time NBA Champion Comes Home to "Windy City"

With the No. 5 overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, the Miami Heat selected a player that would eventually become a transformative figure in South Florida. In 13 seasons, this young man born in Chicago, IL and played his college ball at Marquette not only became the all-time leader in a number of team categories, he led them to multiple titles. He did all of this while sacrificing some financial gains to allow team President Pat Riley and owner Micky Arison to bring in players like LeBron James and Chris Bosh to help deliver those championships. This off-season however, Wade wanted to reap the rewards of that sacrifice. Unfortunately the team was not willing to pay Wade, who is on the back nine of his eventual Hall of Fame career. So he decided to entertain offers from others team. He accepted one offer, from the team that watched growing up and emulating, especially one of the greatest to ever do it on the professional hardwood.

This past Wednesday night, the 12-time All-Star and eight-time All-NBA selection announced in a letter that was released by The Associated Press that he was leaving the Heat and signing with the Chicago Bulls. It is a two-year deal worth $47.5 million.

“This has been an extremely emotional and tough decision to come to. After 13 years, I have decided to embark on a new journey with the Chicago Bulls,” Wade said in a letter to the AP this past Wednesday. “This was not an easy decision, but I feel I have made the right choice for myself and my family.”

“Watching the Bulls growing up inspired me at an early age to pursue my dream of becoming a basketball player. My most treasured memories were watching my dad play basketball on the courts of Fermi Elementary School and developing my game at the Blue Island Recreation Center. I have never forgotten where I came from, and I am thankful to have an opportunity to play for the team that first fueled my love for the game.”

How difficult of a decision was this for the guy former teammate and current NBATV/NBA on TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal nicknamed “Flash,” he told Kelly Ripa, who he co-hosted on “Live with Kelly,” on ABC this past Thursday that he couldn’t even eat or sleep as he made the decision to sign with the Bulls.

“I lost probably five to 10 pounds just not being able to eat,” Wade said during the host chat at the beginning of the show 48 hours ago.

Wade also took a few moments during host chat to give his thanks to Heat fans who cheered him over the years through the good times and the tough times both on and off the court.

“We call it Heat nation, just around the world, just by the way they embraced me. This little shy kid from Chicago came from Milwaukee to Miami and really grew up, and we did some special things together,” he said. “I didn’t do it by myself. I had some unbelievable teammates along the way.”  

Besides winning three titles with the Heat, with the last two via back-to-back in 2012 and 2013 playing alongside James and Bosh, he became the franchise leader in points scored (3,781); 30-plus point playoff games with 34; 40-plus point performances (7); field goals made (1,387); free throws made (910); rebounds (877); assists (828); steals (261), games played (166) and minutes at (6,380).

With all that Wade has done for the Heat organization, the blood, sweat and tears he has given, the question is how did it get to the point where hands down the most important player in Miami Heat history not get re-signed to where he could finish his eventual Hall of Fame career?

One way to look at it is that the organization felt that Wade would stay, especially after all that he has done for the Heat. The team felt that him taking meeting with the likes of the Denver Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks and the Bulls were more like leverage to get the over $20 million per year for three years.

The other part of this is that Wade in his 13 seasons with the Heat had never been the highest paid player on the team. In fact according to NBATV/NBA on TNT insider David Aldridge, Wade had sacrificed $10 million in the four-year that LeBron James and Chris Bosh came on the scene and that Wade felt it was time that he recouped some of that money that he sacrificed for the success of the organization, which resulted in four straight appearances in The Finals.

Unfortunately, the Heat felt they had to take care of who they hope is their star player of the future in Hassan Whiteside, who did agree to new four-year $98 million deal during the NBA Free Agency Moratorium.

From the Heat side of the situation, they felt they had to move at a swift pace to re-sign Whiteside who averaged 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game this past season because the Dallas Mavericks were in hot pursuit.

What really darkened the mood of this whole thing from Wade’s perspective, according to Ethan Skolnick of The Miami Herald was the doomed pursuit of prized free agent Kevin Durant, who earlier this week signed with the back-to-back Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors.

The Heat unfortunately were not willing to trade away the likes of forward Josh McRoberts and starting lead guard Goran Dragic in order reach the number they could offer Wade, who is now 34 years of age to finish his career in South Beach.

“The relationship in South Beach had got a little sour because there is no way you stay somewhere for 13 years and give it your all every day from start to finish you were for Miami sort to speak,” NBATV analyst Dennis Scott, who jokingly said that Wade was trading in Gucci flip flops for Gucci boots said on NBATV’s “Gametime on Wednesday.

“To see them not finish this thing up properly, once again Casey [Stern], I’m shocked because D-Wade was Wade County. He’s been there his whole life.”

If there is one thing that this situation has brought to light, which has happened on many occasions is that this game of professional sports is a business. That at some point, the team is going to have to close the chapter on an important player of their history.

With that being said, the emotions from fans can be very raw and emotional, particularly when they know that the days ahead without that great player like Wade will be very rough.

In the words of longtime Heat sideline reporter for FOX Sports Sun Sports and radio host Jason, “This is going to rough for Heat fans. It’s going to be real rough.”

Jackson on Wednesday on NBATV’s “Gametime” said in his humble opinion that Wade had surpassed the Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, who played his entire 17-year NFL career with the Miami Dolphins.

By winning three titles, Wade according to Jackson had become the greatest professional athlete in South Florida, a place where the sport of football was king for a long time.

“I do know that the Heat love Dwyane Wade and wanted to get a deal done,” Jackson said. “After experiencing what DeAndre Jordan went through last year, you never know.”

In this case we do know that Wade will be moving on join the Bulls. There will be no grand march by the Heat to bring Wade back.

He will be moving on to a team that is looking to have a bounce back season after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Since the conclusion of last season, the Bulls have been very busy remaking the roster. They traded star lead guard and 2011 MVP Derrick along with guard Justin Holiday to the New York Knicks in exchange for center Robin Lopez and Jerian Grant back in June. They officially signed guard Rajon Rondo to a two-year $28 million deal earlier this week.

The addition of Wade came about thanks to the trade of guard Jose Calderon who has dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers along with two future second-round draft picks in exchange for draft rights to Ater Majok and guard/forward Mike Dunleavy was dealt to the World Champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

On paper, the new additions to Bulls alongside All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler and solid young players like forwards Doug McDermott, Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis and rookie guard Denzel Valentine make them a playoff contender for the 2016-17 season.

Three big questions come right to the forefront about this roster. Can they play a high tempo style, which Head Coach Fred Hoiberg wants to employ this upcoming season?

Can Rondo, Wade and Butler co-exist together on the hardwood in terms of their skill sets meshing together?

The big question is there enough perimeter shooting on this roster so that teams are not sagging off the likes of Rondo, who perimeter shot has always been in question and can Wade consistently knock down shots from the edges, which is where he will more often than not operate at the offensive end.

It is one thing to begin a new chapter in your professional career. It is another to do it in the twilight of it. The good thing in this case is that Wade gets the opportunity to do it in a place that he is familiar with. He gets to stay in the Eastern Conference where he can go against the Heat three to four times a season to remind them of what he has always done on the hardwood. On top of that he is now in the same division the Central as James and the NBA champion Cavs.

While he begins the final lap of his career that will land him in the Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA when it has concluded, he will never forget where the journey began and who gave him the shot of making his childhood dream of playing in the National Basketball Association a reality and it will hopefully be rewarded when he does retire with a statue in front of the American Airlines Arena and his jersey hanging in the rafters inside.

“I started my NBA career with the Miami Heat in 2003 and it has been an honor to have played with them and help build a winning franchise with three NBA championships. I look back with pride and amazement at all we have accomplished together. I want to express my gratitude to the Arison family, Pat Riley, Coach Erik Spoelstra, the coaching staff, and the entire Miami Heat organization…,” Wade said.

Information, statistics and quotations are courtesy of 7/1/16 2 p.m.-7 p.m. “Free Agent Fever on NBATV with Kristen Ledlow, Dennis Scott, Sam Mitchell and David Aldridge; 7/7/16 11 p.m. edition of NBATV’s “Gametime” with Casey Stern, Dennis Scott and David Aldridge;; 7/7/16 9 a.m. edition of “Live with Kelly” on WABC with host Kelly Ripa and guest co-host Dwyane Wade; 7/7/16 article “Chicago Bulls trade Mike Dunleavy, Jr. to Cleveland Cavaliers,” by Alex Butler; 7/7/16 story on acquisition of Jose Calderon;