RIP Jerry Sloan

Jerry Sloan had a long list of accomplishments both as a player, and as a coach. As we say goodbye to one of the legends of the game, let us take time to acknowledge what he brought to the game of basketball.

Since most of us remember him as a Hall of Fame coach, we should shed some light on an illustrious playing career. He entered the league in 1965 as the fourth overall pick to the Baltimore Bullets.

The Bullets traded Sloan after his rookie season to the Chicago Bulls. In his first season in Chicago, he became an NBA All-Star and led the Bulls to their first-ever playoff appearance. It was Chicago’s first year in the NBA.

As a Bull, he was known as the “Original Bull” due to his defense. The Steal and Block weren’t recorded on the stat sheet until 1973; where he averaged 2.4 steals a game and maintained that average until he retired in 1976 due to a series of knee injuries. Another known attribute was his rebounding and at 6’5 the man could flat out rebound averaging 7.4 boards a game. Sloan was the definition of a complete basketball player. To sum up his playing career, he was a 2x All-Star, 6x all defense, and is in the Hall of Fame.

His coaching career is something that should be looked at in-depth. Sloan has a 63% winning percentage over his 26 years as a head coach, but he never won a title. His coaching goes way beyond his winning record. When you faced a Jerry Sloan coached team, you knew right off the bat you would be tested defensively. His attention to detail and player analysis is one of the main reasons why he was so successful as a coach. The ability to understand a player on and off the court is a trait that many coaches lack. Sloan is third all-time in NBA wins (1223), with him being one of five coaches to receive that honor and one of two coaches doing so with one franchise.

When he took over as head coach for the Jazz in 1988 everything changed for the franchise. Under Sloan the Jazz missed the playoffs three times in Sloan’s 23 years as coach. How was he so successful? The offense he implemented was designed to keep up containing the fast break which was made popular heading into the ’80s. The basic flex involves constant movement from all five offensive players, with down screens and cuts utilized in multiple areas of the floor.  While the basic system itself is quite simple, the variations are nearly endless, part of what makes it such an effective system. (Salt City Hoops) The offense is designed to get looks at the rim off of a cut. This is why Stockton and Malone benefited from this system for years.

The teams he coached were disciplined and competitive and you made sure to pencil them in your schedule. Sloan is a kind of coach who produces high level basketball talent. Something you can’t say many coaches do in the league nowadays, except for Poppovich. 

Today we say goodbye to a legend in the NBA world and a man whose offense is being run around the world and his philosophy and career will forever live on. RIP Jerry Sloan you will never be forgotten

NoLimitJumper 

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Kevin Martin Is Heavily Underrated

In college, Kevin Martin was a star. In his 3 seasons at Western Carolina, Martin was able to have carreer averages of 23.3 ppg, 1.7 ast, 4.5 rpg, on 46.2% from the field and 34.6% from three. Despite being one of the nations best scorers for 3 consequitive years, the sharpshooter fell to the 26th pick in the 2004 NBA draft.

What’s interesting about Martins career, is that it took him two years to really kick things into gear. An injury to Bonzi Wells in the 2005-2006 season thrusted him into the starting lineup for Sacramento, and the rest is history. His best year was the following season, 2006-07. He led the team in scoring (20.2), three point percentage (38%), as well as field goal percentage (47%), those shootung splits cemented him as one of the leagues most promising sharpshooters. The Kings implemented their offensive system around Martin, giving the Kings hope for next year, as they fell short of a playoff spot finishing the season 33-49. 

sneaker news.com

The next three years Martin didn’t disappoint as he maintained scoring 20+ points, but it was clear that the Kings weren’t going anywhere as their record got progressively worse, and it wasn’t all on Martin. 

Three years into his 5-yr/$55m deal the Kings traded Martin to Houston in a three team deal that included Tracy McGrady, Carl Landry, Joey Dorsey, Kevin Martin, Kenny Thomas, Hilton Armstrong and Sergio Rodriguez. 

Martin learned of the news on the team bus and was crushed that he was being dealt. “It’s a sad day for me in the sense that Sac was the first team that took a chance for me late in the first round of the draft,” Martin said from the team bus. “They showed so much loyalty to me throughout the years. They gave me the big contract to show that you loved me…(But) I just think it was time for us to go in a different direction. I was the young guy before, and now I’m the oldest starter. I think it’s good.” (via Sam Amick Blog). 

Photo from Chatsports.com

Houston never saw the postseason during Martin’s time with the Rockets, and unfortunately that was the resume he accumulated over his whole career. He was a guy who could flat out score the basketball, but could never push his respective team over that hump and compete for a title when he was in a position to. Throughout his career he only saw the post season three times. Two of those years came on the back end of his career, and his first look at the playoffs came when he was 22 and inexperienced.

A talented player who just got unlucky. Put Martin in the right system in his prime and I believe we would be describing a different narrative. The problem with Martin is that he was too talented, Sacramento acquired a lot of value through the deal, leaving Martin with no pieces or old washed up stars to surround him in Houston. Needless to say this makes Martin one of the most underrated players in NBA history.

Another reason why Martin didn’t have a successful career in terms of accolades is that he could never seem to keep himself healthy. He only accumulated five seasons where he was available for more than 68 games. That hurts a franchise when your star player can’t stay on the court consistently. 

His only standout season was the 2006-07 season as I mentioned previously, and ended up coming in second in the Most Improved Player race, losing to rising star Monta Ellis. 

I wish the narrative was different because I actually loved Kevin Martin, but he will just be forever known as another forgotten talent that came through the league.

NoLimitJumper   

The Jimmy Butler Affect

We sit here in an NBA hiatus missing the game and wondering when it’s going to come back. What we don’t realize is that players are built differently. Think about this for a second … If everyone shared the same mind set and outlook on the game like Jimmy Butler, chills would run down my spine.

Butler is known for his “tell it like it is” attitude and many disagree. Why? Because he’s outspoken? Wants the best for himself and his team? Everyone views him as an “asshole“, but all I see is a player who wants to be the best he can be and be of value to his team and organization. After spending six years in Chicago made a lot of people think that Butler was the next franchise centerpiece when Rose left and ultimately thought the Bulls would prevail with offense centered around Butler, but they chose a different direction as the Bulls traded Butler and their 16th pick for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the seventh pick. 

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Butler was comfortable in Chicago and loved the system under Tom Thibodeau who coached the Bulls from 2010-2015. Needless to say after he was dealt to Minnesota he experienced some growing pains. Butler’s been used to a “work hard” type of environment where there’s no excuses for a poor work ethic but he didn’t get that with Minnesota. A bunch of young arrogant talent in his eyes and when he spoke up people didn’t agree.

One thing many fail to understand is that Butler isn’t afraid to call out people. That’s what happened in Minnesota where he called out The majority of the team which led to total chaos.

I can understand where he’s coming from because of the way everything ended. It takes a lot of courage to stand alone on doing the right thing, but at the end of the day all he wanted to do is win and work hard. Something you would dream of in a player.

USATSI

On the contrary, the same issues followed him to Philly. Via the JJ Redick Podcast, Butler explains how nothing was ever done behind the scenes in Philly. Where people were scared to step up and be that “bad guy” as Butler mentioned many times. This opens up a much bigger issue. Is Butler looked at as a radical these days because it isn’t the norm to speak your mind behind closed doors? I mean many people do in front of cameras, but how much of that is actually true?

Even though he made a deeper run with Philly he still expressed the same conflicts, but in a different light. Minnesota was more of an arrogant, young core who never knew what the playoffs tasted like and Philly is more of a young, inexperienced, and immature group who can’t get over that hump. Essentially the 76ers are the modern day Clippers without the slogans.

AP Images

For me, Philly needed Butler. Especially in the locker room. His mindset, attention to detail, and the overall willingness to better himself on and off the court are qualities I think every player in the NBA should mirror. After the shot by Leonard (that eliminated the Sixers from the playoffs) the first question that popped in my mind was, “ will Butler return next season”? 

When Butler got to Miami it was the perfect fit. Miami has always been a beautifully run franchise and Pat Riley puts a lot of emphasis on winning now and ability to get out and work hard everyday. Butler fell right in line. The Heat have the fourth best record in the East (41-24) and Butler is averaging 20.2 ppg 6.6 rpg and 6.1 apg his best season he’s had in awhile and career highs in assists and rebounds. 

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Eight guys averaging double digits, a solid core of well-rounded players, and a seasoned vet in Andre Iguodala; their deep playoff run doesn’t seem like a reach. Before Butler got there the Heat finished with a 39-43 record, the ball wasn’t moving around, and the uncertainty of where Whiteside would go wasn’t helping. Since then the Heat have surpassed last year’s win total (41), gutted nearly their whole roster, brought in Butler, Herro, Iggy, Nunn, Crowder, and Meyers, and have been on a tear up until the hiatus. 

The Heat needed a leader and they found one in Butler 

NoLimitJumper

Pushed To The Limit

I’ve been asked, “What’s the one thing that you miss the most?”, and to give y’all an honest answer, it’s basketball.


People don’t realize how much the game really does impact your life, if you choose to play the sport. It’s given me the strength, patience, and maturity that I needed growing up. With the relationships I’ve made over so many years it’s truly become more than just a sport.

Needless to say I’m having one of the worst years of my life … and not having basketball there is hard. Yes I know the NBA is on a hiatus and March Madness is canceled, but for the last two and half years I’ve been dealing with a knee problem that’s kept me sidelined. Injuries are real and will set you back much further than your recovery time. Remember that. An injury hurts you physically and mentally. I used to twitch every time I would be watching on the sidelines because I was so eager to get onto the court and to compete against everyone. I would play in the winter, stay up until 1 in the morning playing, and even skip class to go to the court (sorry mom).

Two years ago I lost all that. Started to put myself in my room and not want to do anything . Started watching less and less of basketball and most importantly was mentally exhausted. I was afraid to get hurt again and had people tell me, “it’s all in your head”, or, “it takes time you will be back in no time”. The truth is, I wasn’t all in my head and it’s been two years and I haven’t felt like myself at all.

I went down with the knee injury in July of 2018, the summer before my senior year of college. I took a jump stop and immediately felt my knee give out and hyper-extend. I fell to the ground and had that feeling when you just know something isn’t right. Normally I get right up and not want anyone to feel bad for me or clap because I got injured but I just couldn’t pull myself to do that this time. In that moment I broke. I had memories of Derrick Rose and Brandon Roy go through their injuries and remember how Rose felt that night. Or how Gordon Hayward’s facial expression was the minute he landed. In a blink of an eye my confidence was stripped from me like the Giants.

The thing was, I didn’t have the best health care and was scared to check myself into a hospital because I didn’t have the money to pay up front for a visit. It’s crazy that what we are going through now with the healthcare system is what I’ve always been dealing with. I didn’t have the luxury of having an on-call doctor or insurance that would cover any treatment I desired. So I took myself to a minute clinic where the doctor told me I had nothing to worry about, gave me crutches and a brace and said, “Ice it and you will be good to go by September”.

“Ice it … and you’ll be good to go by September.

Being the oblivious person I am, I was ecstatic to hear the news. I rushed home, rested for the remainder of the summer and had been pumped to start my senior year of rugby, the biggest year of my life. It was the year I’d talk to my teammates Nabil and Chad about for hours. I was coming off of one of my best seasons in my career that earned me a “C” on my chest that season. I was a leader on the field, and to some guys off of it as well. Even being a big part of my community at Lasell joining numerous clubs, organizations, and kept my nose in the books.I was eager to get things back to the way they were and to assure everyone that I’d be the same player/person I was before.

September 5th, 2018 I remember like it was yesterday. NBA 2k19 had come out the day prior and I remember how exhausted I was when I woke up 15 minutes before practice (as most college athletes do). I took the headphones out of my ears, and the controller dropped from my lap as I got up to get changed. I was worry free on my walk across campus thinking about what the doctor had told me months prior, hearing my teammates hype me up for the season, and my parents being excited to come see me play.

Coach Ricky called for a cone drill. For those who don’t know, cones are set up on the field and you run up and shift to a stutter step followed by a shuffle and then back peddle. I ran up and the minute I changed direction at a high velocity my knee gave out and the same feeling I felt that day at the court was the same feeling I felt then. I hobbled off to the field, called my girl to come pick me up, and we went to the emergency room. The doctor wanted X-Rays done and the minute the results came back she said “no major injuries here, just some swelling that should go down with ice” I walked out of the hospital that day and felt a big sense of uncertainty fulfill my body.

September 16th, 2018 is a day that I couldn’t control my emotions for the first time in my life. My beautiful and amazing girlfriend who I am still with today hadn’t been feeling the best for the past week. She had told me the night before how she didn’t want to go to work because she didn’t feel well. She would drive an hour to see me while I was at college and would sleep over and would always have to leave at 3am to be at work for 4. When she left it was just like any other day, until about 7 am when she called me to say she threw up at work and was in the bathroom for a while. She drove all the way to my campus, picked me up, and I drove her to the hospital.

When we arrived we didn’t know what to say but we were positive it wasn’t something serious. The doctor told me to wait outside for a minute and those were the longest 5 minutes of my life. As the doctor told me to come in I got up from my seat and my whole mouth got numb. It was one of those feelings where your body is moving but you don’t realize how you are because you don’t feel anything. I peeled over the curtain to meet my girlfriend’s expressionless face.

When I heard the words, “I’m pregnant”, my first reaction was to cry but they were good tears. I looked at her and said “I’ll be there for you no matter what, nothing will change that”. From that point on, my life changed forever and the thought of getting back on a healthy schedule to recover from my injury went out the window.

I remember walking into the team meeting and asking to talk to my friend Nick Carlino in private. Carlino is a very built and stocky dude who has a heart of gold, but he intimidated me a little because he was a workhorse, and more importantly we were captains a season ago together , after which I had lost my “C” to someone else. I felt like telling him I couldn’t play rugby for the rest of the year wouldn’t make me look great. I didn’t want to let my team down even if I couldn’t play a single game that season. I ended up saying I had to handle some things for a little bit to make it seem like I was coming back soon, but I knew by the way he looked at me he knew that I was gone.

I had to leave my editor position with the college paper, drop out from my internship, and ultimately leave campus. 

The one thing I tried to hold onto the most was the Student Alumni Association. I joined back when I was a freshman when no one really knew what it was about. I saw about 6 people in a room with suits on, looked at my friend Evan and said, “Why not give this a shot?”. Looking back I miss Evan a lot, he never showed a lot of emotion but I always went to him for advice or to vent. It was almost a no brainer to join something so out of his interest range.

Through the SAA I saw myself grow and mature. It taught me to be professional and aware of the world around me. I managed to grow within the organization and was the Vice President of Communications for two years; one of them being my senior year.Already I left basketball, rugby, writing, and a campus I had fallen in love with. I tried so hard to hold onto the SAA but it became too much.

I walked into my advisors office that day and froze before I got to the stairs. Kelsey Brogna had been a mentor to me and was more than just an advisor. She knew my older sister so it instantly felt like a brother/sister type of relationship, but was professional and business-like at the same time. When I had no one to turn to I knew I could always talk to her. I knew she wouldn’t judge me. She’s not at Lasell anymore, but that’s one of the many reasons I chose the college over others. I actually felt like I mattered, felt like an individual rather than a number. I proceeded to walk through the door and just sat down and didn’t look at her for a minute. After o had told her everything that was going on she offered all the help in the world and during a time in my life where I felt alone I didn’t at that moment. She was there for me and I can’t thank her enough for that.

I still think about the “what if’s” I could’ve had during my senior year. I drove myself crazy every night because of it. I felt like I left without really saying anything to anyone but I didn’t want people to look at me differently. 

For those of you who have read this far are probably thinking my girlfriend forced me to make all these decisions but she was the one who told me to continue everything and wanted me to have a normal senior year, but for the first time in my life things were out of my control. To know that I have someone like my girlfriend by my side is something I wish everyone can experience; Love. 

Fast forward to now, where I’m not in a career involving Journalism, raising a beautiful daughter, but more importantly hurt my knee…..again. This time I missed a step on an 8-foot ladder, felt my knee wobble, and heard a crack. The feeling I’ve seemed to be getting a lot lately came back again. 

7 Months prior I went into Physical Therapy. Went for 6 weeks and even completed the sessions with ease. My therapist said you should start to see improvement and that I could get back to playing basketball. When I told him that my knee didn’t feel stable he brushed over the subject. I had two more appointments and never showed up to them. 

As an athlete, or a person you are the only one who knows your body. When something is up trust your gut. I wish I did. Now I’m sitting here in quarantine with my Meniscus hanging on by a thread and no ACL, while waiting for surgery, out of work, and a recovery time that is going to set me back more than I would like it to. Whenever I do end up getting surgery I will have to wear a long brace for six weeks following the surgery, with an added nine to twelve month recovery period keeping me sidelined for well over a year. Writing this now it seems like you could make a movie and just now I realize how hard this was to even put into words.

My point is never take things for granted, listen to your body, and always be aware of what’s around you. As for me I’ll get back to where I want to be one day, but like Joel Embiid says “Trust the Process”

@nolimitjumper

Green Light Lonzo

Lonzo Ball has a jump shot! No, this isn’t a pre-April fools article. No, this isn’t an alternate dimension. And NO, I am not Lavar Ball. I am just a basketball fan who has started to notice something. When Lonzo first came into the league, his shot was awful. He could make some, but realistically, NBA defenders don’t give you that much space. If you are not accustomed to shooting contested jumpers, you will struggle in the league (not that I’d actually know, but I’ve played enough ball to understand).

Lonzo’s perimeter shooting has been outright impressive this season. He has grown from the kid who couldn’t shoot, to a legitimate NBA three-point shooter. He’s already at his career highs in threes made and attempted … and Lonzo’s percentage has jumped up to 38.3% (53rd in the league). At home, Lonzo turns it up a notch and his percentage jumps to 41.6% from three! Lonzo still shoots 35% on the road, so it’s not like he is 2018 Lonzo away from New Orleans.

SeasonG3PT3PT%
2017/185290/29530.5%
2018/194775/22832.9%
2019/2056*139/36338.3%

*through 3/9/20

Lonzo is also off to a fantastic start to the month of March. Zo is shooting 51% from three in five games this month, averaging 4.4 threes a game. Not attempts. Makes. Lonzo Ball is making five 3-pointers a game! Somewhere, Lavar Ball is screaming “I told you so!”. Not only is Lonzo shooting the ball better, he is healthy and playing consistent basketball. Those two have to go hand-in-hand. If you’re not healthy, you can’t get into a rhythm.

MonthGFGfg%3p3p%
Oct ’19522/53.41512/32.375
Nov ’19624/66.36412/38.316
Dec ’191559/155.38133/88.375
Jan ’201578/193.40439/107.364
Feb ’201038/90.42221/55.382
Mar ’20538/71.53522/43.512

Of course, Lonzo’s goofy-ass father made waves as he said the Lakers would lose to the Pelicans in the playoffs (if they met) because we haven’t seen “Playoff Lonzo”. While it might not be the player Lavar sees when he closes his eyes, I would really like to see “Playoff Lonzo” as well. I always thought he was a special player and despite how he is viewed in Los Angeles, I feel he still is.

I realize that in order to get talent you have to give some up … and the Pelicans have two future stars in Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. BI is already an All-Star, Zion will undoubtedly get there next year (he’s too popular … I mean I’d vote for him #voteforzion), and if Lonzo plays like this, he has a shot. It’s a long shot, but just imagine the alley-oops passes Lonzo will throw in an All-Star game. I mean, look what he is doing with Zion in the Big Easy.

Okay, before I sound even more like Lavar, I do need to criticize his free throw shooting, which is awful. It’s not the 41% it was last season, but 52.3% is down right embarrassing. Lonzo still only averages 1 free throw attempt per game and do you blame him? If Lonzo can get that shooting up to 70%, that’s 2-4 more points per game and will him even more valuable in clutch situations.

It seems Lonzo has found his shot, maybe one day we will see him in the 3-point contest.

@rosenthalsports