Stephen Curry’s Magical 2016 Season

Stephen Curry’s 2016 regular season was one of the greatest ever.  He won the MVP unanimously with all 131 first-place votes.  He won the scoring title by averaging 30 points a game.  He did it with outstanding efficiency as he shot 50% from the field, 45% from three, and 90% from the free throw line, joining the 50-40-90 club.  Curry was unstoppable at the three-point line, hitting 402 threes in the season, shattering his previous record of 286 threes in a single season. 

Curry was not as good on defense, but he was still great.  He led the league in steals with 2.1 a game and was top 15 in both defensive win shares and defensive box plus-minus.  Overall, the Golden State Warriors were the second-best defensive team in the league, and Curry was a big part of that.  

Unfortunately, the Warriors did not cap off the season with an NBA championship.  They blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA finals right after overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the Western Conference Finals. The Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA championship by upsetting the Warriors in games 5, 6, and 7. The Warriors won game 4 in Cleveland, taking a 3-1 lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers.  However, Lebron James and Kyrie Irving played incredibly over the last three games, leading them to three straight wins to defeat the Golden State Warriors.  Nonetheless, Stephen Curry’s 2016 unanimous MVP season is still one of the most dominant seasons of all time.

Books about Stephen Curry are available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library.

Michael Jordan’s Legendary Career

Michael Jordan is regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.  Drafted third overall in the 1984 draft, He won rookie of the year averaging 28 points a game.  But three games into the next season, Jordan suffered a broken foot which kept him sidelined for the majority of the season.  Jordan came back in 1986, averaged 37 points, and won his first scoring title. He also became the first player to win defensive player of the year and averaged 35 points a game in 1988. Jordan was a monster on both offense and defense.  He would go on to win six straight scoring titles from 1987 to 1993.  Jordan wins three consecutive championships from 1991 to 1993, but then shockingly retired after the 1993 championship season to go play baseball for two years before coming out of retirement at the end of the 1995 NBA season.  He would then come back and win three more scoring titles, three more championships, and three more NBA finals MVPs from 1996 to 1998.   He was the greatest scorer ever winning ten scoring titles, and averaging a record-high 30.1 points per game.  Michael Jordan was the most dominant player in his prime obliterating everyone he faced.

Jordan retired again after the 1998 championship run because the Bulls had fired his head coach Phil Jackson.  Jordan was not willing to play for any other coach so he retires for a second time.  Jordan would then return to basketball again for two more years in 2001 and 2002 to play for the Washington Wizards.  But everyone could tell it was not the Prime Jordan that had won 10 scoring titles.  He still played great averaging 20 points in both seasons, but it was not the same as before.  Jordan retires at the end of the 2002 season at the age of 40 and ended one of the great careers of all time.

Books about Michael Jordan are available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library.

Road to Redemption

The Golden State Warriors were unstoppable.  They completely dominated the mid-late 2010s.  Obliterating everyone in their way, the Warriors went to five straight NBA finals, won three, and lost the other two due to injuries.  

However, during their journey to win their third championship in a row in 2019, the Warriors faced a multitude of injuries.  With Kevin Durant and Andre Igoudala out, plus Klay Thompson missing game three in the NBA finals, the Warriors found themselves down in a 3-1 deficit.  The Warriors got the win in game five to make the series 3-2.  During the third quarter of game six with the game going back and forth,  Klay was ahead in a fast break, and Danny Green jumped up behind him trying to block him. Klay fell because of Danny Green’s block attempt and tore his ACL.  He missed the rest of the game and the entirety of next season.  The Warriors lost in game six by five points and the Toronto Raptors won the championship.

Kevin Durant left the Warriors in the offseason and Klay was injured for the entire next season. With two of their three best players out of the roster, Stephen Curry had to carry the team.  Unfortunately, he broke his left arm five games into the season vs the Phoenix Suns in the first quarter.  The Warriors went on to finish the season 15-50, last in the Western Conference. 

The next year, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson were set to return.  The Warriors were contenders again until … Klay Thompson tore his Achilles during a basketball practice before the season started.  The Warriors were left stunned once again.  Curry had to try to carry the team again.  The Warriors ended the season 39-31, as the eighth seed.  But the Warriors lost two straight play-in games and were eliminated from the 2021 postseason.

After suffering a torn ACL and a torn Achilles, Klay Thompson has finally returned to the game of basketball.  But Steph Curry and the Warriors were doubted, everyone thought the stars were aging, Klay won’t be the same after two major injuries, and the bench was inexperienced.  The Warriors finished as the third seed in the West. Then in the playoffs, the Warriors went on to beat the Nuggets 4-1 in the first round.  Beat the Grizzlies in six games in the second round. Demolishing the Mavericks in five games with Klay hitting eight threes in the final game to send the Warriors to the NBA finals.  The Warriors shockingly lost the opening game one to the Celtics but bounced back in game two to tie the series at 1-1.  Game three was a back-and-forth game through three quarters.  But in the fourth quarter, the Celtics completely outplayed the Warriors and won the game by sixteen.  Down 2-1, the world was sure the Warriors were done, on the road and down 2-1 in the series.  But Steph Curry shocked the world, playing the greatest game of his playoff career.  Scoring 43 points along with 10 rebounds and the Warriors tied the series at 2-2. In game five, Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson combined for 47 points and carried the Warriors to win by 10 despite Curry’s terrible shooting. Curry sealed the deal in game six, scoring 34 points with six threes, he lifted the Warriors over the Celtics in game six to win the finals four games to two.  Curry won the first Finals MVP of his career.  Stephen Curry and the Warriors simply owned the 2022 playoffs and did something very few thought they could do.  

Last Chance U: Basketball (Netflix TV Show)

One thing that most of us have in common is that we absolutely love watching Netflix. Whether it’s the newest sitcom TV Show or that adventure movie that you’ve already watched 5 times but can’t get enough of, Netflix has an almost unlimited array of options. Even though its known for its TV Shows and movies, the popular streaming service does not disappoint when it comes to documentaries and docuseries. 

An interesting docuseries that I recently discovered and quickly finished is Last Chance U: Basketball. While you may have heard about Last Chance U: Football, which has 5 different parts, Last Chance U: Basketball is a new docu-series that came out in 2021. It takes the viewers through the journey of the East LA Junior College basketball team’s path to the playoffs. Winning the championship would do wonders for the players who have gone through so much and ended up here. These players who are worthy of playing Divison 1 Basketball if not for the experiences they have had. These players who have lost so much and are trying to earn it back. 

Firstly, East LA’s basketball coach is a religious man, who wants the best for the players and understands them the best. John Mosley is his name, and he is like a father figure for these kids, who almost have nothing else. The players love him, but are also annoyed by his strategies. However, he always makes them earn it by teaching them about hard work and taking no days off. 

Deshaun Highler, the starting shooting guard of the team, lost his mom to cancer before the documentary. In this docuseries, he talks about how he has tried coping with the pain his mom’s death has brought him. Deshaun experiences ups and downs throughout East LA’s 2019-2020 season, but he and Coach Mosley find ways for him to fight past the struggles. 

Joe Hampton, the reserve center of East LA throughout the 2019-2020 season, could’ve been in a much better place at the time of the docuseries, except for his trouble controlling his feelings, typically of anger. As said by many during this show, Joe is incredibly talented, but his injuries when playing for Penn State, a D1 school, forced him to have to transfer to a junior college. After experiencing such lows in life, he often feels fed up and needs to calm himself down, in his own ways. 

Last Chance U: Basketball is one of my favorite docuseries I have watched on Netflix, and I definitely recommend it to anyone. You don’t need to be obsessed with basketball to enjoy this show because this isn’t only a show about basketball, but also about life.

How Stephen Curry Defies Expectations

Wardell Stephen Curry was born on March 14th, 1988. He had a brother and a sister. His father was a great shooter in the NBA and played for the Charlotte Hornets. 

Early in life, Curry loved basketball and always practiced shooting and scrimmaging with his brother in their backyard. As he finished middle and high school, people began doubting Curry for his size, despite his incredible shooting. Curry was criticized because of his size and some argued that he wouldn’t survive in college/nba. But he proved them all wrong and was drafted 7th in the 2009 draft.

 In the first few seasons, Curry dealt with many ankle injuries and had to have surgery to repair it. People began to doubt him once again. In 2015, Curry would win the MVP and prove everyone wrong, going on to win the championship that season by defeating Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 6 games.

Over the next 7 years, he would lead his team to a 73-9 record, win 3 more championships, a unanimous MVP, and a finals MVP. He has proved himself to be the greatest shooter of all time and certainly a top 10 player in NBA history.

Interesting Sports Podcasts to Try

If you get bored while running, resting, or doing whatever it is that you like to do, you might want to try a podcast. I enjoy listening to sports podcasts to discover the opinions of experts on certain topics, and I’m here to share some of my favorite ones with you. 

There are 3 podcasts that I feel separate themselves from the rest of them and for different reasons. Some of them offer incredible insight on basketball, while others are fun because they have people debating passionately about players and headlines. 

The Draymond Green Show

The host of this show is the man himself, Draymond Green. He breaks down NBA games and talks about how his team, the Golden State Warriors, played and how the other games went down. His podcasts are especially fun to listen to after he has a big game or an important moment in a game, such as an ejection. Sometimes, he’ll have a guest on the show, who might be a fellow NBA player or someone associated with the NBA. His attention to detail really shows in his podcasts, and I recommend his podcast to anyone who wants to learn a bit more about basketball. This is definitely my favorite podcast at the moment. 

First Take:

What’s better in a sports podcast than Stephen A. Smith yelling at Kendrick Perkins or someone else on the show for their “blasphemous” takes? With various guests on the show as well as the usual crew (Molly Qerim, Stephen A. Smith, and sometimes Kendrick Perkins), the podcast can be really entertaining to listen to or also watch on ESPN. On this show, they primarily debate about basketball, but also have some sections that include football or baseball. Although it’s not my favorite podcast, it’s definitely in the top 2 and I love occasionally listening to small segments at a time. 

Skip and Shannon: Undisputed:

If you want a lot of deep analysis about the game of basketball, don’t go to this show. If you want to see Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe bickering back and forth for two and a half hours, then this is for you. On Undisputed, the 2 hosts don’t really talk about what teams need to do or what they should have done, but they debate on controversial topics concerning ejections, who’s better than who, and certain plays. However, before listening to this podcast, be aware that a lot of the things Skip and Shannon say are heavily biased, especially the ones from Skip. That being said, this show is still a lot of fun and I definitely recommend you check it out. 

If you’re a basketball (or sports) enthusiast, in summer, you might find yourself bored with nothing to do, and if so, give these podcasts/shows a listen. You probably won’t regret it!

-Mert A.

Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP by Mirin Fader

Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP is a book that details Giannas Antetokounmpo’s rise to greatness. 

In 2008, if I told you that a skinny Nigerian kid living in Greece was going to become the face of the NBA and win 2 MVPs, would you believe me? If you said no, you would agree with the majority of people. However, if you said yes, would you stick with your answer if I told you that this kid had illegal immigrant parents, and he had to sell on the streets every day to get his family food to eat? If you would still say yes, you would have predicted the rise of Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

Giannis had to go through many struggles as a kid. He would go with his mom to sell sunglasses for a couple of euros each just to try to get food on the table. Sometimes, he would have to go to sleep with a rumbling stomach, imagining the food that he wasn’t able to eat. He would always try to smile, so his brothers wouldn’t start to worry. His family would get evicted a lot, and they would have to move to a different apartment often because they couldn’t pay the rent. However, basketball was a way out. Giannis would forget about all of his worries when he was on the court, playing his heart out. He would dream of playing in the NBA and having his family all with him along the journey. 

Giannis’s childhood was difficult, but he worked hard and didn’t complain. His story should be a lesson to all of us: Anything is possible as long as you put in the effort and work extremely hard. His childhood shows us that we should never count anyone out based on their circumstances. 

The author, Mirin Fader, did a great job including interviews and quotes from people who played a role in Giannis’s childhood. His mom, brothers, and former coaches all had quotes in this biography of Giannis Antetokoumpo. 

While reading about Giannis’s rise to stardom, I was not able to put the book down. It was so intriguing to read about the struggles that he faced and overcame to get to where he is today, and I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Giannis Anteokounmpo. Also, anyone who wants to learn a thing or two about the challenges that some people face would find this book interesting, too. 

-Mert A.

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

Amazon.com: Dragon Hoops: 9781626720794: Yang, Gene Luen: Books

Dragon Hoops is a graphic novel that follows the Bishop O’Dowd Dragons’ journey to winning the state championship. A graphic novelist, Mr. Yang, is also along for the ride. After losing in the state championship game for multiple years, the Dragons are fed up and ready to make some noise! Their roster is looking stacked, with Paris Austin and Ivan Rabb leading the way as the star players. 

The Dragons experience defeats and victories along their path to the state championship game. There are ups and downs, but they get through those negative moments as a team. 

Gene Luen Yang, the author of Dragon Hoops, wrote about a true story from his time at Bishop O’Dowd High School. Ivan Rabb, Paris Austin, Alex Zhao, and other players are actually real people and not just made-up characters!

I recommend this book to any sports enthusiast. As I read this book, I really enjoyed getting a graphic novelist’s perspective on the team. Since the book was written as a graphic novel, it was easier and quicker to read. Dragon Hoops is a very entertaining book, and if you are someone who enjoys reading graphic novels, you will definitely like this book!

I would give this graphic novel a 10/10 rating because it had a plot to it. It wasn’t like some graphic novels which are just meant to make people laugh and read for fun, but it had a purpose. Dragon Hoops was written to show us the way a high school sports team operates but in a more interesting and entertaining way.

-Mert A.

Dragon Loops by Gene Luen Yang is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Overdrive.

March Madness

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With the month being March, sports watchers have something new to watch which will keep them interested. It’s March Madness! March Madness is the NCAA Division One College Basketball tournament where 64 teams compete for the right to call themselves the Champs. 

First of all, there are four regions in the NCAA tournament: West, East, South, Midwest. Each region has its own one seed, two seed, all the way up to the 16th seed. Until the Final Four, each region’s teams only compete with each other. 

There are six rounds in March Madness, but not all teams are fortunate to make all of them. In fact, only two of the 64 teams are able to compete in all the rounds. To qualify for the tournament in March, teams are required to have a great regular season or win the conference championship. First comes the round of 64, where there are 32 different games total. The one seed in each region matches up with the 16 seed, the two seed with the 15 seed, up to the eighth seed versus the ninth seed matchup. Then, the winners of those games compete in the round of 32, which consists of 16 games. Next is the Sweet Sixteen, with eight games. The winners of the Sweet Sixteen matchups compete in the Elite Eight, which is also a regional final for each of the four regions. The winners of the regions go on to compete in the Final Four, where the region champions play against each other. The sixth round is the NCAA Championship Game, where the last two teams battle for the rights to cut down the nets and hold up the trophy! 

Performing highly in this college basketball tournament can also raise the stocks of players trying to make it to the NBA. Some top players to watch in the rest of March Madness include Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga), Drew Timme (Gonzaga), Jabari Smith Jr (Auburn), Paolo Banchero (Duke), Mark Williams (Duke), Jaden Ivey (Purdue), and Ochai Agbaji (Kansas).  

Some top teams to watch in March Madness include UCLA, Arizona, Duke, Gonzaga, Purdue, Auburn, Houston, Kansas, Villanova, Wisconsin, and Texas Tech.

I always enjoy watching top teams battle it out during March Madness. Whether it’s a 15 point comeback by an underrated team or a 30 point performance by a star player, March Madness never disappoints! 

-Mert A.

Book Review: The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

At age twelve, Josh and his twin brother, Jordan, are teenage basketball phenomenons, radiant beasts, kings on the court. But when Jordan meets the new girl in school, everything unravels for Josh as the brothers’ bond comes undone and circumstances get progressively worse and worse for him than he could’ve ever imagined.

As Josh begins to lose his brother, he loses himself in his loneliness and jealousy, and what he does in a couple seconds changes their relationship dramatically. It worsens to the point where the bridge between the two is completely burned to ash.

Soon, pieces that have never made sense to Josh are suddenly fitting together to create the truth. Secrets are revealed to Josh and Jordan, and they present the dangerous possibility of changing their lives forever. As these possibilities transform into realities, they seem to suck all the light out of Josh and Jordan’s lives, leaving them darkened, deflated, and empty. Eventually, the brothers realize that they still have and need each other.

As ties are cut and secrets are revealed, Josh travels shakily through it all. There are moments when he walks proudly, straight ahead; stumbles forward with his head down; and even loses his footing and falls flat on his face. But even if it takes him a while to get back up and dust himself off, he always manages to continue marching ahead to whatever awaits him.

During the novel, I was really surprised by Josh’s incredible development throughout the story. In the beginning, he desires fame and glory. But later on, when he is presented with his father’s championship ring, which he has long wished to possess, he decides to share it with Jordan. His growth was gradual but eventually noticeable—readers watch and listen to him through his own eyes as he grows wiser and comes to realize that there are things in life more important than winning.

Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover tells the amusing, unfortunate, heartwarming, and heartbreaking story of Josh Bell and a sequence of unlucky events— entirely through free verse. It deeply moved me in a way that books usually don’t. If you have the time, please give this book a try—I promise you won’t regret it.

-Lam T.