That time Sir Charles almost outrebounded the entire Houston Rockets team

After being traded from the Philadelphia 76ers in the summer of 1992, Dream Team superstar Charles Barkley rejuvenated basketball in Arizona, starring for the Phoenix Suns. It’s not that the Suns weren’t recognized on the basketball map up until then, but Sir Charles’ arrival, along with the new American Airlines Arena and new uniforms, made the 1992/93 Suns a smash hit globally.

Barkley took the 1992/93 Suns on an entirely new level of professionalism, recognition, and success, helping them reach the NBA finals for only the second time in their entire history. That year, it was only Jordan’s Bulls on their way to historic three-peat (1991-1993) who stood and reclaimed higher ground between Barkley’s Suns and Larry O’Brien’s trophy.

Back then, even with Suns losing it, it seemed that the nucleus made of Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle, Cedric Ceballos, Mark West, A.C. Green, and promising rookies Richard Dumas and Oliver Miller, was destined to stick around and contend for the NBA championship title throughout the 1990s.

And make no mistake – they did – but it was more of a regular-season success story filled with achievements than a real commitment to gain recognition and make it to the top. The same thing that made Barkley mad and eager to left Philly in the early 1990s, lack of the dominant ‘man in the middle’ who would relieve him of some of his duties (inside defense and boxing out). That enabled him to roam around more freely, which became evident with the Suns as the time went by.

Sure, both Wayman Tisdale and A.C. Green were enough consistent frontcourt contributors for a post-Jordan era. Still, it would be a dominant big man like Olajuwon, Ewing, O’Neal, Robinson, and Smits who proved to hold the ‘winning tickets’ for their respective teams on their way to NBA prominence.

The best the Suns did in that ‘big man’ department over Barkley’s years was to bring over longtime Cleveland Cavaliers anchor, 9-year veteran John’ Hot Rod’ Williams, before the 1995/96 season. But, even Williams, with his respective experience and skill level, wasn’t enough to help Sir Charles in battling some of the most dominant inside forces in all of basketball history, not just in the 1990s.

However, there was a short opening, a ‘ray of light’ if you prefer, when it seemed that Barkley’s consistency and blue-collar persistence could pay off dividends and ensure championship magic for the Suns.

The Houston Rockets, the 1994 NBA champions, who eliminated the Suns by 4-1 in the 1994 Western conference semifinals, somehow decided to shake things up and get rid of their longtime starting power forward – Otis Thorpe.

The flamboyant Thorpe was sent to Portland in exchange for Olajuwon’s college teammate, an original Phi Slama Jama (Houston Cougars 1982-1984) member, Portland Trail Blazers superstar Clyde Drexler. The surprising move made on February 15, 1995, seemed to shake not only the Rockets’ power equation, but it also changed the complete balance in the Western Conference’s power rankings.

Soon after, on March 7, 1995, the visiting Suns led by Sir Charles’ 26 points, 14 boards and 5 dimes, completely dominated the game in Houston’s Summit Arena, winning it by 113-102. Seventeen days later, on March 24, 1995, the Suns hosted the Rockets, and Barkley was full of confidence.

Knowing that Otis Thorpe was gone and the best Rockets’ post defender at his position who he would face is Carl Herrera, he felt very confident and invincible, before going on to another unstoppable tear. Using his limitless arsenal of low post moves, he made 11-20 shots from the field and converted 11-12 trips to the charity stripe, posting 34 points in 42 minutes of action, in the Suns’ 97-99 home loss.

What stood out from his stats line was his rebounding total – that night, he collected a season-high 26 rebounds, with 11 of those being on the offensive end of the court! What was even more impressive about this game was that The Round Mound of Rebound almost singlehandedly outrebounded the complete Rockets team – Barkley collected 26 of 50 of the Suns’ boards, while the Rockets, as a team, managed to grab a total of 30 boards (4 offensive and 26 on the defensive end)!

But the regular-season numbers, on any level, become secondary or even irrelevant with the start of the play-off. The Suns finished the regular 1994/95 season with a blistering 59-23 record, winning the Pacific Division. On the other hand, the Rockets finished the season with a 47-35 record.

However, in the Western Conference semis, it was that same Rockets squad that would prevail over the Suns in the seven-game series en route to winning their second consecutive NBA championship title. After overcoming the same old post-season frustrations with the Suns, which he believed he had left behind in Philly, The Chuckster was traded to Houston, where he joined forces with The Dream and The Glide before the 1996/97 season.

During the second half of the 1990s, even with the dominant frontcourt trio of Olajuwon, Drexler, and Barkley, the Rockets were able to advance as far as the Western Conference finals. And this happened only once – in 1997 when they lost the WCF series to the Utah Jazz by 2-4.

Barkley was forced to end his distinguished career at the age of 36 after rupturing his left quadriceps tendon on December 8, 1999, in Philadelphia, the place where his NBA journey began back in 1984.

Knoche on Cowan’s jersey being raised, Jalen Smith NBA decision

Maryland basketball radio analyst Chris Knoche joined the Doc Walker and Al Galdi Show on Friday to discuss the abrupt ending to the college basketball season.

“What we’re left with is a series of hypotheticals and a series of, just, guesses. And that’s really disappointing … Every season in every sport is played to some sort of final results. You think about the seniors across the country who won’t get that chance again,” Knoche said. “Hofstra wins [the CAA]. They haven’t been in the tournament in 20 years. And you think about what it means to a program like that, that actually breaks through. And it wasn’t lost on me that they had three senior starters … These guys played their hearts out all season long and will never get that reward. They got to cut down the nets, which is a great memory to have, but there’s nothing like playing in the NCAA Tournament.”

Maryland likely would’ve been a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and many believe Mark Turgeon’s team was better equipped for a deep run than any of his previous eight squads at Maryland. The Terps did get to end their season, though, by celebrating winning a piece of the regular-season Big Ten title.

“I thought Mark Turgeon kind of gave a nice snapshot of it last night. He was on with Van Pelt … One of the last memories they have is cutting down a net on their homecourt. And there are a lot of players who won’t get that. That’s not their last memory of the season. So I guess you take some small consolation in that,” Knoche said.

He was also asked about senior point guard Anthony Cowan. Maryland doesn’t retire jersey numbers, but it does hang jerseys of its legendary players at Xfinity Center. Typically, those players must have been named All-American or achieved major team success in March. Cowan wasn’t an all-American and didn’t have a chance to add an NCAA Tournament run to his resume this season, but he ranks in the top 10 of several all-time statistical categories in the school’s record book.

“The number’s gonna hang from the rafters. There’s no question about it. Just the sheer quantities youre talking about. The 1,800, almost 1,900 points, I don’t know what the final number was. You know, made free throws, assists, he’s up there across the board. He won a boatload of game sin four years. I think also as a point guard, there were times he was a bit of a lightning rod for his team and his program,” Knoche said.

“But all in all, the kid graduated in three-and-a-half years. When you look at everything across the board — we so micro-analyze kids on a play-in, play-out basis — and I’m gonna tell you to macro-analyze him. And when you sit back and look at the entire picture, the entire package, it’s a ‘holy cow’ type of situation. Guys don’t stick around for four years and guys don’t achieve like that for four years. You’d be hard-pressed to find this again.”

Galdi asked Knoche if he assumes sophomore center Jalen Smith will leave for the NBA. Smith enjoyed a breakout season, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors and ranking third nationally in double-double, but is generally projected as a borderline first-round pick.

“Yeah, I guess … Man, he’s a different kid, you know. And nothing would surprise me. Tell you what: he never, I don’t think he ever had a bad game this season,” Knoche said. “His game seems so NBA-ready in terms of his ability to shoot the ball, his quickness, his ability to run the floor … To me, he’s like a top-10, top-12 pick, but other guys see differently.”

And what about the idea that seniors could be granted another year of eligibility because the tournament was canceled?

“Guys like Anthony Cowan, Cassius Winston, those guys played 32, 33 games. So I don’t see it happening,” he said. “Although it sure would be nice if they made the offer.”

Blazers to wear Oklahoma City National Memorial-themed jerseys

The Oklahoma City Blazers today announced that they will be wearing specialty jerseys in honor of the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

Through a partnership with the Memorial, the Blazers will wear the jerseys during Friday and Saturday’s games against the Northern Colorado Eagles.

There will be a live auction following Saturday’s event, with a portion of the proceeds going back to the National Memorial.

Blazers OKC National Memorial and Museum jersey

The jersey features the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum’s logo on the left sleeve, as well as the Survivor Tree imposed on the front and the back of the jersey. The nine gold stars on the sides and right sleeve of the jersey represent the nine floors of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building. Around the inside of the collar features a hanger effect, with the words “We Remember,” followed by the date of the bombing on April 19, 1995.

This Company Upcycles Old NBA Jerseys Into New Team Merchandise

NBA jerseys are big business these days, but what happens when a player, either through free agency or a trade, switches teams or decides to hang up his sneakers? And what happens if the league makes a sponsorship change or alters its logo? The answers are that the jerseys take on new value as collector’s items, and that the NBA elects not to sell them anymore. What, then, can a franchise do when it parts with a player? Calling Scott Hamlin sounds like a great start, as his company, Looptworks, upcycles the goods as branded merch, with the company’s Portland geography being particularly kind to the Trail Blazers.

It can be rough, in an era where players often seek enormous contracts from the highest bidders and where ownership can quickly grow tired of a team’s makeup, to say farewell to favorite players, but Hamlin and his hires have reincarnation on their minds through their initiative. Having secured agreements with the league’s 30 clubs, Looptworks is enjoying its role as a waste reducer, and fans are proving the beneficiaries, as the company has thus far upcycled NBA jerseys to give the public such Trail Blazers-branded products as toiletry, duffel and sling bags, scarves, backpacks, hip packs and pillows. Because the Oregon-based team, like many of its NBA brethren, frequently adjusts its roster, many jerseys have lost their marketability, granting Looptworks its shot at helping the organization sell the new items through its website and team store.

The Trail Blazers have long won regard as a champion of sustainability, so this partnership with a fellow Oregon entity makes great business sense. Upcycling has made our news cycle a few times, with mostly positive results. In this case, we cannot see how anyone could balk about the specifics of the partnership, as the would-be useless NBA jerseys are helping teams’ supporters show branded love for their hardwood heroes in a different, yet commendable way. Since the Trail Blazers and other clubs have made the upcycled items available via their branded team stores and online shops, we’re wondering if any will take the plunge and distribute them as promotional giveaways.

Given his other contacts in the upcycling world, Hamlin is obviously a busy man, but it would be worthwhile for him and the league to consider transforming the NBA jerseys into something that need not include the pursuit of cash. After all, fans will have already paid once for the shirts, so perhaps the Trail Blazers could serve as the logical starting point for the league to orchestrate a promotional night that talks about the larger benefits of upcycling. If so, we would love to see if Looptworks comes up with a unique giveaway that it could somehow seek to modify for other franchises.

Jazz Wearing ‘Cursed’ Statement Jerseys Against Spurs

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz attempts to drive around Tobias Harris #12 of the Philadelphia 76ers during a game at Vivint Smart Home Arena on November 6, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Utah Jazz will return from the All-Star break riding a four-game winning streak. They will host the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

The Jazz will wear the uniforms that they have the least amount of success in this season, the gold statement jerseys.

Utah is 1-6 in those uniforms this season but haven’t worn them since December 2 when they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers on the road. According to the jersey schedule that the Jazz sent out on social media before the season, Utah was supposed to wear the statement uniforms four times since December 2.

They wore their association (traditional home) jerseys in three of those games and their icon (traditional road) jerseys once. The Jazz won all four games that they were supposed to wear the statement uniforms.

Jazz fans know very well how the team plays when wearing the gold uni’s. When the Jazz announced on Twitter that they are wearing those jerseys, fans were nervous about the game against the Spurs.

Some fans comments include “Does the curse end tonight? Or we just schedule an L?” Or “please not the yellows!”

The Jazz lost their only meeting to the Spurs this season back on January 29 in San Antonio. That was in the middle of their five-game losing streak.

NBA All-Star Game Uniforms 2020: Pictures and Breakdown of This Year’s Threads

This year’s NBA All-Star Game jerseys are less about the color and design and more about the numbers.

Unlike most years, the All-Star players won’t be wearing their own numbers while playing for the teams captained by LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo on Sunday in Chicago’s United Center. Instead, they’ll be using the game as an opportunity to honor NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, both of whom died in a helicopter crash Jan. 26.

Members of Team Giannis will be wearing No. 24, which was Bryant’s number in the second half of his career, while Team LeBron players will don No. 2, which was Gianna’s number on her youth team.

“It’s a big honor,” Antetokounmpo said, according to Michael C. Wright of NBA.com. “I wouldn’t want it any other way representing Kobe and Gigi in [Sunday] night’s game.”

That’s not the only way the NBA All-Star jerseys are serving as a tribute. There will also be a patch to honor all nine people who died in the helicopter crash that included the Bryants. The jerseys will also feature a black band in memory of former NBA Commissioner David Stern, who died Jan. 1.

Earlier this week, Darren Rovell of the Action Network tweeted a look at this year’s All-Star jerseys:

Not only has the NBA honored Bryant as part of its format adjustments for this year’s All-Star Game, but it also made a change to the contest’s MVP award, which NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Saturday.

The award will now be known as the NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award to honor the Los Angeles Lakers legend, who won the award a record-tying four times during his incredible career. The only other player to win the honor that many times is Bob Pettit.

“Kobe Bryant is synonymous with NBA All-Star and embodies the spirit of this global celebration of our game,” Silver said in a statement, according to NBA.com. “He always relished the opportunity to compete with the best of the best and perform at the highest level for millions of fans around the world.”

It’s possible the first Kobe Bryant MVP Award will go to James, who has won the honor three times in his career and is looking to join the elite company of Bryant and Pettit.

According to ESPN’s Nick DePaula, Lakers forward Anthony Davis and numerous other players are expected to honor Bryant on the shoes they wear in this year’s All-Star Game as well. And it might not only be players who are partnered with Nike, which is the brand that has put out Bryant’s line of shoes.

Things are sure to get emotional Sunday night, with the uniforms, shoes and award name being only a few ways that Bryant will be remembered. There may be more tributes coming during the event.

Kobe, Gianna Bryant’s Jersey Numbers to Be Worn at 2020 NBA All-Star Game

The NBA will honor Kobe and Gianna Bryant at next month’s All-Star Game by having the players don their jersey numbers.

The NBA announced Friday all players on Team LeBron—captained by LeBron James—will wear Gianna’s No. 2 and all players on Team Giannis—captained by Giannis Antetokounmpo—will wear Kobe’s No. 24.

Kobe and Gianna were among nine people who died in a helicopter crash Sunday. Kobe was 41 and Gianna was 13.

Both teams will also wear patches featuring nine stars to honor the nine victims. John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and Ara Zobayan also died in the crash. Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester were Gianna’s teammates on the basketball team that Bryant coached.

The participants in the Rising Stars Game on Friday and the Skills Challenge on Saturday will also wear patches with the Nos. 2 and 24 surrounded by nine stars.

The decision to feature Kobe and Gianna’s numbers in the All-Star Game came after the NBA announced Thursday that it planned to honor them in multiple ways during All-Star weekend.

With regard to Kobe, the NBA revealed that a target score of 24 plus the leading team’s score after three quarters will be used in the fourth quarter of the All-Star Game to honor him.

That means the team leading after three quarters will win the game when it reaches 24 points in the fourth, or the team trailing after three quarters will win if it makes it to the total of the leading team plus 24 additional points.

Several NBA players have changed their jersey number from 8 or 24 since Kobe’s death out of respect for the future Hall of Famer, including Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets, Terrence Ross of the Orlando Magic, Jahlil Okafor of the New Orleans Pelicans and a few others.

The Lakers previously retired Kobe’s Nos. 8 and 24 in December 2017.

Bryant will forever be remembered as one of the NBA’s greatest players with 18 All-Star nods, five championships, two NBA Finals MVP awards and one NBA MVP award to his credit.

Under her father’s tutelage, Gianna was a budding basketball star as well and was expected to be one of the next great women’s basketball players.

The NBA All-Star Game will emanate from the United Center in Chicago on Feb. 16.

Warriors pay Klay Thompson tribute prior to college jersey retirement

Jan 24, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) dunks the ball as Washington Wizards center Thomas Bryant (13) looks on in the first quarter at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

With the Warriors currently sit with the worst record in the Western Conference in the 2019-20 season; it’s easy to forget, Golden State took over the NBA over the past five seasons. The Warriors won three-titles and made five straight trips to the NBA Finals, but a league-worst 9-34 record makes their run feel like ages ago.

However, the players that built Golden State’s run at a dynasty are getting recognition for their success in the past. Earlier in the season, Draymond Green got his jersey retired by his college alma mater, Michigan State.

Green isn’t the only member of Golden State’s championship run that will see his jersey pulled into the rafters at his college stomping ground. Washington State University will retire Klay Thompson’s No. 1 jersey when Oregon State rolls into Beasley Coliseum.

With the Warriors scheduled to play the Orlando Magic on Saturday during Thompson’s jersey retirement ceremony, many from the Golden State contingent won’t be able to make the trip to Pullman, outside of Stephen Curry.

Members of the Warriors found time to congratulate Thompson prior to the ceremony in a video tribute via social media.

Curry, along with teammates Green and Zaza Pachulia, all praised Thompson’s jersey retirement achievement. Thompson’s coach, Steve Kerr, and Warriors general manager Bob Myers were both involved in the former Cougar’s special message.

At Washington State, Thompson ranks third in all-time points scored (1,756) and scored the most points in a single season during his junior year (733). The Splash Brother was named First-Team All Pac-10 twice in his tenure in Pullman and became only the second Cougar to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft.

Thompson will join Steve Puidokas (No. 55) as the only two Washington State basketball players to get their jersey numbers retired by the university.

Mark Cuban: Mavericks Are Discussing Retiring Dirk Nowitzki’s Jersey in 2020

It’s inevitable that Dirk Nowitzki will have his No. 41 jersey retired in Dallas, and the ceremony is expected to happen at some point in 2020.

“Dirk and I are discussing it,” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told Dwain Price of the team’s website on Tuesday. “We’re trying to figure it out.”

It’s even possible that the Mavericks could retire his jersey at some point this season.

“The challenge is just getting it all done just because it’s not a lot of home games left. It’s only like (19) home games left, so that’s the hard part,” Cuban said. “So we’re discussing it now whether it’ll be now or one of the first couple of games next year.”

Nowitzki, 41, is the most revered player in franchise history after leading the Mavs to their lone NBA title in 2011 over LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat. He was a 14-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA first-team selection and the 2006-07 NBA MVP. He currently sits sixth all-time in points scored (31,560).

He also helped usher in the modern style of play, serving as an early prototype for the stretch-4 that is so predominant in the NBA today. Not many big men could stretch the floor as proficiently as Nowitzki, a career 38 percent shooter from three.

Add it all up, and it’s pretty obvious why the Mavericks plan to not only retire his jersey but also construct a statue of Nowitzki in the future.

“We’re also talking about hopefully being able to unveil a model for the statue at the beginning of next year as well,” Cuban said. “So hopefully we can put the two together. Nothing is etched in stone yet, but we’re looking at it.”

OKC Thunder: Special edition uniforms honor bombing victims, educate new generation

The Thunder will wear it's new "City" uniforms for the first time on Thursday against the Rockets. It's the Thunder's first nationally broadcast game this season, ensuring maximum attention for the uniforms marking the 25th anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

Ryan Whicher is ecstatic the Thunder-Rockets game will be nationally televised Thursday night.

It’s not because he lives in Maryland and none of Oklahoma City’s other games this season have been broadcast beyond the local telecasts. It’s not even because Russell Westbrook will make his return to OKC.

Whicher is pumped because millions of people will get to see the Thunder’s uniforms.

On Thursday, OKC will debut its new “City” uniforms, designed to pay homage to those affected by the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. A striking combination of charcoal and bronze, numerous details will be familiar to Oklahomans. The Survivor Tree on the waistbands. The Gates of Time on the side panels.

But for people outside of the state, the symbolism may be foreign.

And for some, the bombing itself may be unknown.

That’s why Whicher is so grateful the Thunder and the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum collaborated on these uniforms, why he is so glad viewers across the country and even around the world will have a chance to see them. They will help keep alive the memory of what happened.

“Tragedies like this, I always worry that everyone else is going to forget about it and the victims will kind of be on their own at some point,” Whicher said. “That’s a fear in the back of everyone’s head, I’m sure.

“And this is absolute 100% proof that’s not the case.”

Those killed, those injured and those affected haven’t been forgotten.

That includes Ryan Whicher’s dad.

Alan Whicher became the assistant special agent in charge of the U.S. Secret Service field office in Oklahoma City back in August 1994. He decided to take the desk position after serving on President Bill Clinton’s security detail, moving to Oklahoma from Washington, D.C., hoping for a slower, simpler life.

Whicher didn’t want to miss any more birthdays or holidays with his family. He wanted to spend more time with his wife, Pam, and children Meredith, Melinda and Ryan.

No one welcomed that more than Ryan, who was in middle school at the time.

“He was like the Terminator in real life,” Ryan said. “He was this massive figure who was a law enforcement guy. To me, he was just this awesome human.”

Alan Whicher was in his new office on the ninth floor of the Murrah Building when that truck bomb exploded.

Two days later came the official notification of his death.

Ryan was only 12, but he had grown accustomed to his dad traveling for work. All of his dad’s years in the Secret Service meant when the president or vice president went somewhere, Alan Whicher went, too.

“It just felt like he was on a long trip,” Ryan said of those days after the bombing, “and we were just waiting for him to get home.”

But when Ryan saw adults in tears, including men who were big and strong and brave like his dad, Ryan started to understand the gravity of the situation. His dad wasn’t on a long trip. He wouldn’t be coming home.

Whicher’s mom moved the family back to the Washington, D.C., area soon after the bombing.

Ryan, along with his wife and two children, still live in Maryland.

Because the entire Whicher family has lived outside Oklahoma much of the past 25 years, they aren’t constantly exposed to reminders about the bombing. There are no field trips to the museum. No weekend strolls around the memorial. No special visits to the field of chairs.

Ryan Whicher doesn’t need those cues.

“It’s been almost 25 years, and not a day goes by where I don’t reflect on it in some way, shape or form,” he said.

But he knows most people living outside Oklahoma aren’t as aware of what happened that April day — or how so many responded in the wake of the tragedy.

There was care and love, support and hope.

“The actual act itself?” Ryan Whicher said. “That’s pain. You can go find a million things daily that will give you that pain.

“I want people to know the hope.”

He believes the Thunder’s uniforms will help spread that message.

“Think of some kid in France watching the basketball game,” Ryan Whicher said. “He probably doesn’t know this story. Maybe he does, but now he definitely will.”

Those are the kinds of people Kari Watkins was hoping to reach when the Thunder first approached the memorial about a special-edition uniform. As the executive director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, she embraced the idea of not only honoring those killed, injured and changed by the bombing but also spreading the “Oklahoma Standard” of service, honor and kindness to a new audience.

“We have our work cut out for us as far as really needing to make sure this story is told,” Watkins said. “A lot of people here know it. Some people don’t know it. But I feel like when those players put on that jersey, people will begin to ask questions.”

She heard some of them the other day when she went to Dick’s Sporting Goods to buy a “City” edition warmup. It features the service, honor and kindness motto, and when a young sales associate saw it, he asked Watkins what it meant.

Getting to share that message near and far is powerful.

“You can’t imagine the tentacles this will have,” Watkins said.