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From the NBA to the FIBA World Cup, basketball fans never leave an opportunity to enjoy a slight glimpse of the game. The craze for the sport is present around the world equally, however, the United States of America has always been the hub of the grind.
The basketball side of the US as well as all the teams in the National Basketball Association have given the spectators numerous moments, which will never be forgotten. The first edition of the FIBA World Cup took place in 1950 and was won by Argentina after they defeated the US in the final (64-50).
The inaugural edition of the NBA was played in 1946-47, which was aced by the Golden State Warriors. Over the years, the game has gone through several notable changes as well as controversies and unforgettable moments, which have found a significant place in the history books of basketball.
Slam Dunks in History
In March 1962, the Philadelphia Warriors were playing against the New York Knicks, and the Warriors were losing the game with a margin of 15 points with only four minutes remaining on the clock.
However, NBA Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain had other plans in Pennsylvania that day. In the last four minutes, Chamberlain annihilated the Knicks by scoring 28 points and guiding the Warriors to a 169-147 win.
Moreover, with a glorious point haul in the last few minutes, Chamberlain completed the 100-point milestone in a single game. Even in the modern era, his record remains untouched. In 2006, Kobe Bryant had an 81-point game; however, he also failed to cross the milestone achieved by the former Philadelphia Warriors star. Moreover, it started a new era of increased enthusiasm for the sport of basketball.
Bryant’s excellence and charisma on the basketball court will always remain unparalleled. In January 2006, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Toronto Raptors were playing a contest of nip and tuck with the scoreline reading 89-89 with only a few minutes remaining before the match ended.
And in the last three minutes, Bryant did the unthinkable by taking the charge in hands alongside Shaquille O’Neal.
With the help of a series of free throws and two-pointers, Bryant accumulated a mammoth sum of 81 points and steered the Lakers towards a comfortable 122-104 win.
Bryant became only the second player in the history of the NBA to score more than 80 points in a single game, after Chamberlain. After his performance, the Mamba was also awarded the Finals MVP trophy.
During the 1998 NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz, the Bulls were trailing in the sixth game by a single point with only a few seconds remaining on the clock. However, Michael Jordan instantly carried the ball forward into Utah Jazz’s box and beautifully puzzled a defender with a body feint.
In addition to that, he also netted a two-pointer with only five seconds remaining as his shot eventually helped the Bulls win their sixth championship, and it also solidified Jordan’s image as the Greatest player in the history of the NBA.
Decoding the Plays
In basketball, strategies and tactics fall under two broad categories, offense and defense.
- Man-on-Man Defense: The concept of Man-on-Man Defense is heavily dependent on single-man marking. To understand things better, when a team has the ball, every single player is an attacker and when they lose possession, all the players switch to defense.
- Zone Defense: Unlike the Man-on-Man Defense, players target an area or a zone to mark in the zone defense. In this strategy, specific sets of players are assigned to different zones and perform the task of dispossessing the opposition.
- Hybrid Defenses: The hybrid defense is the most common type of strategy used by different teams across the globe. From man-on-man defense and zonal defensive techniques, everything falls under the tactics of hybrid defense. It’s easier to change the tactics mid-game if the team is playing with a hybrid defense and aids professional teams to be a bit more unpredictable at the top level.
- Fast break: In a fast break, the forward tries intercepting the defenders and scoring a two-pointer from a good distance as quickly as possible. In basketball, numerous styles of attacks are available, but the fast break is a term utilized for the specific style that consists of quick interceptions and fast-forward runs.
- Triangle Offense: Triangle offense can only be carried out by a team if a team has three reliable attackers with a good relationship. The style promotes fast passing and movement, along with precise positioning near the basket between the three designated attackers.
- The Pick and Roll: In pick and roll, two attackers take the responsibility of offense and all the other players turn into defenders. With quick man-to-man marking, the forwards are free to take shots without any restrictions.
Former professional basketball referee Tim Donaghy, who officiated NBA games from 1994 to 2007, was held under the radar after he was accused of gambling and fixing league games. An FBI investigation was also launched on him because he was allegedly fixing NBA games to get positive results in gambling.
He later pled guilty on August 15, 2007, to two felony charges of conspiracy. During the 2006 NBA finals between the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat, the Mavericks were leading the best-of-seven contests by 2-0. The Mavericks were also in the lead in the third game but the Miami Heat dramatically turned around the scoreline and it was later accepted by the former referee that he aided the Miami-based franchise.
Bryant made his debut in the National Basketball Association in 1996 after he was drafted in the first round. He instantly became a top star in the tournament as he garnered a set of trophies in his first professional year.
However, popularity and fame always come at a cost. The former Lakers star was accused and arrested for his sex scandal in Eagle, Colorado shortly after his knee surgery was completed in 2003.
The case against Kobe was later dismissed after the accuser refused to come forward and testify. Ye faced severe backlash after the accusations, and Adidas also dismissed their contract with Bryant.
In the late 1990s and 2000s, according to numerous reports, Jordan had a huge gambling addiction. However, neither the NBA nor the United States ever launched an investigation against the basketball star. It was said that accusing or launching an investigation against the ‘biggest’ star would destroy the public’s interest in the game and the league.
Dunking into Tomorrow
Serbian basketball player Nikola Jokic guided the Denver Nuggets to their first-ever championship triumph last season after they took down the likes of the Miami Heat in the finals. Moreover, he’s also an Olympic silver medalist, however, he missed the 2023 FIBA World Cup, where Serbia lost against Germany in the final. Jokic and the Denver Nuggets have become a hot topic in the world of basketball.
Dallas Mavericks‘ Luka Doncic, Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant, Minnesota Timberwolves’ Anthony Edwards, and the Indiana Pacers’ Tyrese Haliburton are the few top names in the huge list of players who are highly talented and came to leave a huge impact on the game just like Jordan and Bryant. However, it’s still too early to make a prediction.