Lasting Sports Legacy

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“You are responsible for how people remember you — or don’t. So don’t take it lightly. If you do it right, your game will live on in others. You’ll be imitated and emulated by those you played with, those you played against and those who never saw you play at all. So leave everything on the court. Leave the game better than you found it. And when it comes time for you to leave, leave a legend.”

-Kobe Bryant

The True Basketball GOAT

Folks on TV and fans on social media spend so much time arguing about who is the greatest of all-time in basketball. It’s a pretty dumb argument, considering the true GOAT is hardly ever mentioned – Breanna Stewart. 

Stewart, just 26 years old, just helped the Seattle Storm win the 2020 WNBA Championship, their second in three years. 

Overall, Stewart’s resume includes 2 WNBA titles and 2 Finals MVPs, WNBA MVP in 2018, and Rookie of the Year in 2016. In college, Stewart helped UConn win 4 National Championships and she was named Tournament MOP all 4 times and was a 3x National Player of the Year. In 2016, she won an Olympic Gold Medal.

Her resume is truly second to none and her pro career is just beginning. Cheers to the true basketball GOAT! 

Lebron James’ Legacy

Moving onto the NBA’s GOAT discussion… 

On Friday night, the Lakers (up 3-1) will look to close out the 2020 NBA Finals, giving the franchise their 17th NBA Championship.

For Lebron James, it would be his 4th NBA title. It would also be the third straight Presidential Election where Lebron has won the NBA title and done so with three different teams. 

The Lebron greatness conversation always includes his Finals record (3-6). But to me, the most important number is 10. Lebron has played in the NBA Finals in 10 out of 17 seasons and he is notably 14-0 in first round series’. For comparison’s sake, Jordan lost his first three first round series.

But back to the Finals record. Six losses is nothing to brag about, but it’s important to view them in the proper context.

Let’s look closer at those 6 losses

  • 2007 – Worst team ever

Cavs got swept by Tim Duncan and the Spurs. Drew Gooden (12.8 ppg) was the Cavs second leading scorer in the Finals. The lineup included James, Gooden, Sasha Pavlovic, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Daniel Gibson.

This might legitimately be the worst NBA Finals team of all-time. But to get there, Lebron single-handily beat a legendary Pistons team in the Eastern Conference Finals.

  • 2011 – No excuse

In James’ first year in Miami, the Heat lost to the Mavs. As great and well put-together as that Dallas team was, there is no excuse for this loss. Miami had the better team and this is the one Finals loss that stands out as inexcusable.

  • 2014 – Great Spurs

This Spurs team was great, going 62-20. The 62 wins were the most during any of their 5 championship seasons. They beat the Heat in just 5 games. Kawhi got his first ring and Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili got their last ones.

  • 2015 – No Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love

Do you need proof of Lebron’s greatness? Here it is.

Warriors won this series in 6 games, even though Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were both out due to injuries. Lebron was stuck with Timofey Mozgov, the team’s second leading scorer (14.0 ppg), Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, and Matthew Dellavedova, who was arguably the team’s second best player throughout the Finals.

  • 2017 and 2018 – Warriors Super Team

2017 was the Warriors first year with Kevin Durant and coming off the blown 3-1 lead, no one ever had a chance of beating them. 

In 2018, Cavs traded Kyrie Irving before the season for a damaged Isaiah Thomas and returned to the Finals with a new group that included George Hill, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr, and Rodney Hood, plus Love and Smith.

————————————

I’m not making excuses for James, but he is not the best player ever – Michael Jordan is and forever will be. But there’s a huge difference between Jordan and James. Jordan went 6-0 in the Finals against 6 teams inferior to his. James lost 6 Finals, 5 of which to teams superior to his.


NFL Week 5 – Legacy Matchups 

Tom Brady vs Nick Foles

Bears vs Bucs on Thursday Night Football is not the same thing as Patriots vs Eagles in the Super Bowl. Both of these guys’ legacies are entrenched. Brady is one of the greatest QBs of all-time, with his 6 Super Bowl wins and if he leads the Bucs to a Super Bowl at 43 years old, he would no doubt solidify himself at the top of the list.

Nick Foles is forever a Philly legend, having led the Eagles to their first ever Super Bowl victory. He is 0-5 as a starter since leaving Philly after the 2018 season and is making his second starter for the Bears. But it doesn’t matter, the legend of BDN will last forever. 

Drew Brees vs Chargers

Like Brady, Brees’ legacy is entrenched. Leading the Saints to a win in Super Bowl XLIV helps secure his place among the greats as does his spot at the top of many of the all-time statistical rankings.

On Monday Night Football, the Saints play the Chargers. In 2001, Brees was a second round pick to the Chargers, where he had an up-and-down 5 year stretch. At one point (in 2003) he was benched for Doug Flutie, and then Philip Rivers was drafted 4th overall in 2004 to replace him. Following back-to-back seasons over .500, in 2006, Brees left as a free agent and chose to sign with the Saints over the Dolphins.

Imagine how different things would be for everyone if Brees played for Nick Saban in Miami, or if the Chargers had never replaced him with Rivers?

Cam Newton vs Broncos

Cam’s legacy is fascinating as he has always been polarizing to fans and the media. No player has ever been built like Cam, with this combination of arm, speed, and overall strength. He is one-of-a-kind and a very special player.

Yet, he is constantly criticized and is labeled by many as selfish. Handing touchdown balls to little kids and making teammates smile doesn’t seem very selfish. He went 3 months of being unemployed before signing with the Patriots for the bare minimum and has gotten off to a strong start in 2020. 

It remains TBD if Cam will clear COVID protocols ahead of Sunday’s game against the Broncos, who Cam had one of the worst games of his career against in Super Bowl 50. Cam was awful, completing just 18-41 passes and producing a 55.4 QB rating. That’s definitely a very lasting memory of his career. Panthers were 15-1 and he won regular season MVP, but he flopped on the big stage and has had a hard time overcoming that.

Jason Garrett vs Cowboys

The Giants offensive coordinator has seen his team score 3 total offensive touchdowns, while his old team has gotten off to a scorching start offensively. However, the Cowboys are just 1-3 start, something they never did with Garrett. Dallas has a ton of questions surrounding the roster and the new coaching staff and Garrett has become a weekly trending topic on twitter as people wonder if he is really to blame for the last 10 years?

Adam Gase vs Kenyan Drake

This is simple – Jets head coach Adam Gase’s legacy is that he sucks. He’s an awful, awful head coach and the day he is fired will be a very proud day for this franchise. Gase’s legacy revolves around a group of (current or former) Dolphins offensive players who seemed held back by Gase’s ineptitude.

One of those guys is Cardinals RB Kenyan Drake. In 48 games with Miami under Gase, Drake ran for 1,358 yards and 9 TDs. In 8 games with Arizona in 2019, he ran for nearly half of the yardage, 643 yards, and 8 TDs.

Bill O’Brien vs himself

Texans face the Jaguars on Sunday. It will be their first game since 2013 where Bill O’Brien is not the head coach. Here’s the thing about O’Brien – he doesn’t suck as  head coach (unlike Gase). Texans made the playoffs in 4 of his 6 seasons, but never advanced past the second round. O’Brien went 52-48 in 6+ seasons, but he got power hungry and it disrupted the franchise. O’Brien became General Manager last year and from there, everything went down hill. Texans are 0-4 to start 2020 and don’t have a first OR second round pick in 2021 Draft because O’Brien traded both of them for LT Laremy Tunsil. Good player, horrible trade. He famously traded Deandre Hopkins for a washed up running back and a second round draft pick. His legacy is a good guy, good coach, who simply had more power and control than he ever deserved.


College Football Week 6 – Legacy Games

Texas vs Oklahoma

Tom Herman is in year 4 at Texas. He is 1-3 vs the Sooners and his team suffered a bad loss against TCU last week (meaning Texas is not back). Oklahoma has lost 2 in a row and is 0-2 in Big 12 play.

Is Tom Herman just another guy or does he still have the potential to do special things at Texas? Is Lincoln Riley special? Or has he built his reputation off of established transfer QBs, as opposed to building them from the ground up (like Spencer Rattler). Both coaches have a lot on the line this week.

Florida vs Texas A&M

Jimbo Fisher got paid $75 million to leave Florida State and coach the Aggies in 2018. Since then, they have gone 9-4 and 8-5. He is a combined 1-6 against LSU, Auburn and Alabama.

In three games against Alabama, Texas A&M has been outscored by an average of 48-25. The one win came against LSU in 2018 in a flukish 7 overtime game that they won 74-72. 

Look, no one beats Saban and the Tide, but for $75 million, you have to come closer than they have and you have to be better than the 4th best team in your own division. 

Tennessee vs Georgia

For Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt, this isn’t a bad situation. A loss to the #3 team in the country would show Tennessee has work to do, but doesn’t mean they are a bad team. But a win would set him up as a legend in Knoxville. Tennessee has the nation’s longest winning streak at 8 games but has lost 3 in a row to Georgia and is 2-8 in their last 10.

Miami vs Clemson

Miami has not been “The U” in a very long time. No swagger, no real national relevance. A lot of that is the result of bad coaching and bad quarterback play. Well, here we go, Saturday night on the road against the class of the conference.

D’Eriq King, who transferred from Houston might be the best QB Miami has had in over a decade and head coach Manny Diaz, who went 6-7 in his first year, has a major opportunity for a program-changing win. The spotlight is squarely on these two to have the world scream “The U is back!”. 


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Mike is a member of the FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) and an alum of the University of Cincinnati.

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