2016 NBA Finals Gives Credence to Hoax Theory

Did the Cleveland Cavaliers win this year’s NBA Championship fair and square, or was it a hoax? Some believe the outcome of NBA Finals have been rigged for quite some time to maximize audience ratings. I must say that I have never been one to abide conspiracy theories, but this latest contest had me scratching my head wondering.

This isn’t about being a sore loser or favoring one team or another. In fact, I was not rooting for either and actually like both teams, and am glad LeBron James has finally redeemed himself with Cleveland fans, a group that unfairly vilified him for leaving them for greener pastures years ago. For LeBron’s sake and given the questionable nature of this series win, I’m glad he punctuated his terrific personal performance and that game 7 win with one of the most spectacular defensive plays (blocked shot) ever seen in the sport, a feat whose authenticity can never be questioned.

It’s not just the fact that the Cavaliers pulled off the statistically improbable by winning the series after trailing 3 games to 1 (which had never been done before), or the improbability of a road team winning a game 7 (road teams lose 80% of the time), or even the fact that these unlikely events took place against the team with the most season wins in NBA history (Golden State Warriors broke the record by winning 73 this season).

It’s actually the way it was done that makes one question its authenticity, and the fact that Golden State had to nearly collapse for Cleveland to win. The Warriors blew away the Cavaliers at home in games 1 and 2, and then stumbled badly in game 3 by scoring only 16 pts in the fourth quarter. Giving Cleveland the benefit of doubt, Cleveland had home court advantage and it was a must-win game for them. In Game 4 the Warriors beat Cleveland handily again, reasserting their series dominance. The balance of the series then turned really incredible: the Warriors’ game 5 fourth quarter amounted to 13 measly points before a cheering home crowd; game 6 in Cleveland continued the scoring drought, with the Warriors scoring a season low 11 pts in the first quarter; game 7, with the championship on the line, the Warriors again choked in the fourth quarter and scored a paltry 13 pts. THE WARRIORS AVERAGED 28 PTS PER QUARTER LAST SEASON!

It’s not just the numbers, it’s the attitude. The team’s star and regular season MVP, Stephen Curry, fouled out of game 6 (itself a rare event) and because of personal antics was almost barred from game 7. In game 7, no one, including its star, seemed to demonstrate the urgency of their pending historic loss, right to the end. For his part, in the closing minutes of the series, Curry made an errant, if not reckless, behind-the-back pass out of bounds, and minutes later launched a 35 ft shot that missed the rim entirely. Is that what a star does when his team is about to lose the most important game of the season?

It’s not just Stephen Curry’s behavior that was lacking. Where was Coach Steve Kerr while this helter-skelter play was taking place? Where was he during the closing minutes of the game, when a coach typically slows down the opposing team’s momentum and offers some last minute strategy? Nowhere. Apparently, this coach had no advice for his team at this all important moment. Making matters worse, the team seemed to take in stride its imminent defeat and ignominious place in NBA history as the only team to ever blow a 3 game lead in the Finals.

Was it all a hoax designed to give Cleveland its first sports championship in more than 50 years or just the worst time for the most successful team in NBA history to go into a fatal slump? One indisputable fact is that this game 7 drew the highest television rating for an NBA Finals game since Michael Jordan’s last championship game. Interesting…

The Art of Shooting Form

Shooting. From the moment we pick up our first basketball, it’s all we want to do. And for good reason. Seeing that ball float through the middle of the net is the pinnacle of perfection. Sending a wave of instant gratification that leaves us hungry to recreate the experience. Conversely, watching the ball clank off the rim after an errant shot ignites feelings of intense failure and inadequacy. “I’ll never be good enough.” “My friends were right!”.

Maybe not that extreme… but it certainly is nice to have the ball go through the net more often than not. It is the mark of a good shooter after all. And I’m here to help with your percentages!

Hand Placement

Start by grabbing a basketball, making sure it’s pumped with air, and head out to a local hoop. Preferably one with a net or chain, to make those rebounds easier. Balance the basketball on the fingertips of your dominant shooting hand, leaving an inch or so of space between your palm and the bottom of the basketball. It’s very important that your palm is not touching the basketball, because it can affect the smoothness of the release. Having the ball on your fingertips insures a clean release with more accuracy and control.

Place your non-dominant hand on the side of the basketball (The left hand, for me). This will be your guiding hand-a steady anchor that helps keep the ball still and in line. The left hand should not move when you shoot the ball.

Shooting up Close

A great drill to practice keeping the fingertips on the ball and cleanly releasing, is by taking shots close to the rim. Start on the side of the basket with your body facing the rim. Place the bottom of the ball on your fingertips, in an active shooting position. Rest your left hand on the side of the ball, and practice shooting by flicking the wrist of your right hand. Focus on getting a smooth, clean release. If you’re ready, incorporate a slight extension of the legs to add some rhythm to your shot. It’s not a big jump with a push off the ground, rather, a light rocking motion, extending upwards. Once you’ve started seeing more shots go through the rim, it’s time to extend your range.

Outside Shooting

Walk to the free throw line, and align your body with the rim, as before. It’s at this range that your shot needs an extra boost from the main power drivers-the legs. It is easy to assume that the arm is providing most of the power in the shot, because it’s the final “flick” of the wrist that propels the ball to the hoop. But, power starts from the ground up. You may have noticed that the longer a basketball game goes on, your shooting accuracy starts to diminish. This is because the legs are getting tired, sapping the rhythm and consistency of your shot.

Position the legs shoulder width apart, even closer. This is largely based on comfort and can be adjusted according to what feels the most natural to you.

In a rhythmic motion, bend your knees and jump off the ground while releasing the ball toward the hoop. Your legs should feel in-sync with your arms during the shot. Practice taking a few shots in this fashion at different points around the rim, and take note of which direction you’re missing in. Are you missing left, right, short, long? Adjust your shooting motion to reduce those errors.

Where to Focus the Eyes During the Shot

Look where you want to aim the ball. I prefer to focus my eyes on the front of the rim throughout the entire shot. It feels most comfortable to me, and nets my highest shooting percentage. But, it’s not universally recommended. Other experts would say to look at the back of the rim, or even in the middle of the rim. Start by looking at the front of the rim but don’t be afraid to experiment with the different styles and keep track of which yields the highest percentage of made shots. As a shooter, vision is your faithful ally.

Final Notes

The art of shooting is a very personal craft that can be tailored to fit the individual. The techniques I laid out to you are important fundamentals for a great shot, but they are not meant to box you in to a carbon copy of my form. Get creative and enjoy the process of experimenting with different techniques. Things to tinker with include the height of release, the position of your arms in relation to your body, the alignment of your body with the rim, and more. Enjoy the process of creating your unique shot.

The Best NBA Championship Rings That You Should Go For

If you love collecting championship rings, one of the best rings that you should consider going for are NBA championship rings. If you don’t know the best ones that you should consider, here are some of them:

2011: Dallas Mavericks

When Dallas mavericks won the NBA championship in 2011, the club owner, Mark Cuban said that the players should be given what they want. Each of the 2011 Dallas Maverick rings has 257 diamonds that make up a total of 10 carats and 3 ounces of 14 carat gold. The units also have 6 separate components with a blue background that lets the team colors shine through. Due to the great features of these rings, you should expect them to go at a high price. When buying them, pay close attention at the sides. One side of the rings features 15 diamonds (that represent each player) and the other side has a diamond encrusted Larry O’Brien championship trophy.

2013: Miami Heat

The 2013 Miami heat championship rings have great features that make them attractive to every championship ring collector. Just like other championship rings, the units have the Larry O’Brien trophy on one side. Beneath the trophy, there is the word “family” that symbolizes the number of people in the Miami Heat organization. The flip side of the ring has the name of the player who owns the ring and the words “back-to-back” around it. There is also the Chinese symbol for “sacrifice” under the ring. The reason for the Chinese symbol is because the club’s season began in China and the players sacrificed their time and money to win consecutive titles.

2010: Los Angeles Lakers

These rings have a unique feature that is not available in many rings: leather in a ring. As a collector, the unique feature makes the rings highly valuable. In addition to the leather, the units also have some serious bling. They have 16 round brilliant diamonds and 16 carat gold batch that symbolizes the club’s 16th championship. Each of the rings also has a 3-D sculpture of the player’s face. This is something that isn’t found in most of the rings.

2014: San Antonio Spurs

One side of the ring has the player’s name, number, and NBA logo. The other side displays five diamonds that are scattered above the hammer. The diamonds symbolize the total number of championships to date.

Conclusion

These are some of the NBA championship rings that you can go for. As you might expect, the original rings are expensive. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, you should go with the replicas that resemble the originals but go at a lower cost.