Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon, formerly known as Akeem Olajuwon, is a Nigerian-American former professional basketball player. From 1984 to 2002, he played the position in the National Basketball Association for the Houston Rockets. He led the Rockets to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995, in 2008, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and in 2016, he was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame. Listed at 7 ft 0 in, Olajuwon is considered one of the greatest centers ever to play the game and he was nicknamed The Dream during his basketball career after he dunked so effortlessly that his college coach said it looked like a dream. Born in Lagos, Olajuwon traveled from his country to play for the University of Houston under head coach Guy Lewis. His college career for the Cougars included three trips to the Final Four, Olajuwon was drafted by the Houston Rockets with the first overall selection of the 1984 NBA draft, a draft that included Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton.
He combined with the 7 ft 4 in Ralph Sampson to form a duo dubbed the Twin Towers, the two led the Rockets to the 1986 NBA Finals, where they lost in six games to the Boston Celtics. After Sampson was traded to the Warriors in 1988, Olajuwon became the Rockets undisputed leader and he led the league in rebounding twice and blocks three times. His Rockets won back-to-back championships against the New York Knicks, in 1996, Olajuwon was a member of the Olympic gold-medal-winning United States national team, and was selected as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He ended his career as the leagues leader in blocks and is one of four NBA players to record a quadruple-double. Olajuwon was born to Salim and Abike Olajuwon, working class Yoruba owners of a cement business in Lagos and he was the third of eight children. He credits his parents with instilling virtues of work and discipline into him and his siblings, They taught us to be honest, work hard, respect our elders. Olajuwon has expressed displeasure at his childhood in Nigeria being characterized as backward, Lagos is a very cosmopolitan city.
There are many ethnic groups. I grew up in an environment at schools where there were all different types of people, during his youth, Olajuwon was a soccer goalkeeper, which helped give him the footwork and agility to balance his size and strength in basketball, and contributed to his shot-blocking ability. Olajuwon did not play basketball until the age of 17, when he entered a local tournament and it has been said that a coach in Nigeria once asked him to dunk and demonstrated while standing on a chair. Olajuwon tried to stand on the chair himself, when redirected by staff not to use the chair, Hakeem could initially not dunk the basketball. Despite early struggles, Olajuwon quickly became taken into the game and that immediately I pick up the game and, you know, realize that this is the life for me. All the other sports just become obsolete, Olajuwon emigrated from Nigeria to play basketball at the University of Houston under Cougars coach Guy Lewis
The Kingdome was a multi-purpose stadium in Seattles SoDo neighborhood. The stadium served as both the outdoor and indoor venue for the Seattle Sounders of the North American Soccer League and hosted numerous amateur sporting events, concerts. The Kingdome measured 660 feet wide from its inside walls, the idea of constructing a covered stadium for a major league football and/or baseball team was first proposed to Seattle officials in 1959. Construction began in 1972 and the stadium opened in 1976 as the stadium of the Sounders. The Mariners moved in the year, and the SuperSonics moved in the next year. As a result, public funding packages for new, purpose-built stadiums for the Mariners and Seahawks were approved in 1995 and 1997, the Mariners moved to Safeco Field midway through the 1999 season, and the Seahawks temporarily moved to Husky Stadium after the 1999 season. The Kingdome was demolished by implosion on March 26,2000, King County paid off the bonds used to build and repair the Kingdome in 2015,15 years after its demolition.
In 1959, Seattle restaurateur David L. Cohn wrote a letter to the Seattle City Council suggesting the city needed a covered stadium for a professional sports franchise. A domed stadium was thought to be a must due to Seattles frequent rain, at the time, the city had Husky Stadium and Sicks Stadium for collegiate football and minor league baseball, but both were deemed inadequate for a major league team. In 1967, the American League granted Seattle an expansion franchise that would be known as the Seattle Pilots, the Pilots were supposed to begin play in 1971 along with the Kansas City Royals. However, when Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri got wind of those plans, community members decried the idea, claiming the committee was influenced by special interest groups. The Pilots only drew 677,000 fans that season, not nearly enough to even. The Pilots ownership group ran out of money by the end of the season, and with the plans in limbo. The push to build the stadium continued despite the lack of a major league sports team to occupy it.
In May 1970 voters rejected the proposal to build the stadium at Seattle Center and this drew sharp opposition primarily from the International District community, which feared the impact of the stadium on neighborhood businesses located east of the site. In 1972, a ceremony was held on the King Street site on November 2. Several protesters attended the ceremony, disrupted the speakers, and at one point threw mud balls at them, on December 5,1974, the NFL awarded Seattle an expansion franchise to occupy the new stadium, the team was named the Seattle Seahawks. Construction lasted another two years, and the stadium held a ceremony on March 27,1976
The Chicago Bulls are an American professional basketball team based in Chicago. The Bulls compete in the National Basketball Association as a club of the leagues Eastern Conference Central Division. The team was founded on January 16,1966, the team plays its home games at the United Center, an arena shared with the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League. The Bulls saw their greatest success during the 1990s and they are known for having one of the NBAs greatest dynasties, winning six NBA championships between 1991 and 1998 with two three-peats. All six championship teams were led by Hall of Famers Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, the Bulls are the only NBA franchise to win multiple championships and never lose an NBA Finals series in their history. The Bulls won 72 games during the 1995–96 NBA season, setting an NBA record that stood until the Golden State Warriors won 73 games during the 2015–16 NBA season. The Bulls were the first team in NBA history to win 70 games or more in a season.
Many experts and analysts consider the 1996 Bulls to be one of the greatest teams in NBA history, Michael Jordan and Derrick Rose have both won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award while playing for the Bulls, for a total of six MVP awards. The Bulls share rivalries with the Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, the Bulls rivalry with the Pistons was highlighted heavily during the late 1980s and early 1990s. On January 16,1966 Chicago was granted an NBA franchise to be called the Bulls, the Chicago Bulls became the third NBA franchise in the city, after the Chicago Stags and the Chicago Packers/Zephyrs. The Bulls founder, Dick Klein, was the Bulls only owner to play professional basketball. He served as the Bulls president and general manager in their initial years, after the 1966 NBA Expansion Draft, the newly founded Chicago Bulls were allowed to acquire players from the previously established teams in the league for the upcoming 1966–67 season. The team started in the 1966–67 NBA season, and posted the best record by a team in NBA history.
In their first two seasons, the Bulls played most of their games at the International Amphitheatre, before moving to Chicago Stadium. Fan interest was diminishing after four seasons, with one game in the 1967–68 NBA season having an attendance of 891. The Bulls under Williams and head coach Dick Motta qualified for four straight playoffs and had attendances grow to over 10,000, in 1972, the Bulls set a franchise win-loss record at 57 wins and 25 losses. During the 1970s, the Bulls relied on Jerry Sloan, forwards Bob Love and Chet Walker, point guard Norm Van Lier, the team made the conference finals in 1975 but lost to the Golden State Warriors,4 games to 3. After four 50-win seasons, Williams returned to Philadelphia, and Motta decided to become GM as well, the Bulls ended up declining, winning only 24 games in the 1975–1976 season
San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs are an American professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas. The Spurs compete in the National Basketball Association as a club of the leagues Western Conference Southwest Division. The team plays its games at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. The Spurs are one of four former American Basketball Association teams to remain intact in the NBA after the 1976 ABA–NBA merger, the Spurs five NBA championships are the fourth most in history behind only the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, and Chicago Bulls. The Spurs currently rank first among active franchises for the highest winning percentage in NBA history, in their 40 NBA seasons since 1976–77, the Spurs have won 21 division titles. With their 50th win in the 2016–17 season, the Spurs extended their record for most consecutive 50-win seasons to 18. Thus, since the 1997–98 season, the Spurs have had 20 consecutive seasons with a percentage of.610 or greater during the regular season which is an NBA record. Only the teams current head coach, Gregg Popovich, who had been the general manager before replacing Bob Hill in 1996, has had a longer tenure with the Spurs.
The Spurs are the only team in any of the four major U. S. professional sports leagues. Since 2003, the team has been forced on a road trip for much of February since the AT&T Center hosts the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. This is informally known as the Rodeo Road Trip, the Spurs have consistently posted winning road records during this period, including an NBA-record longest single road trip winning streak. When the Spurs have won the NBA title, the victory parades have been boat trips on the San Antonio River Walk. The San Antonio Spurs started out as the Dallas Chaparrals of the version of the American Basketball Association. Coached by player/coach Cliff Hagan the Dallas Chaparrals were one of 11 teams to take the floor in the season of the upstart ABA. The Chaps second season was a bit of a disappointment, as the finished in 4th place with a mediocre 41–37 record. In the playoffs the Chaparrals quickly fell to the New Orleans Buccaneers, the team suffered from poor attendance and general disinterest in Dallas.
While the Chaparrals had been successful on the court, they were sinking financially by their third season. After missing the playoffs for the first time in their existence in the 1972–73 season, a group of 36 San Antonio businessmen, led by Manager/Angelo Drossos, Chairman of the Board/John Schaefer and President/Red McCombs, worked out a lend-lease deal with the Dallas ownership group
Patrick James Riley is an American professional basketball executive, and a former coach and player in the National Basketball Association. He has been the president of the Miami Heat since 1995. He is regarded as one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time, Riley has served as the coach of five championship teams, four with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was named NBA Coach of the Year three times and he was head coach of an NBA All-Star Game team nine times, eight times with the Western Conference team and once with the Eastern team. In 1996 he was named one of the 10 Greatest Coaches in the NBA history, as a player, he played for the Lakers championship team in 1972. Riley most recently won the 2012 and 2013 NBA championships with the Heat as their team president and he is the first North American sports figure to win a championship as a player and executive. He received the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award from the NBA Coaches Association on June 20,2012, Riley was born in Rome, New York and raised in Schenectady.
His father, Leon Riley, played twenty-two seasons of minor league baseball as an outfielder and first baseman, Riley played basketball for Linton High School in Schenectady, New York under head coach Walt Przybylo and his assistants Bill Rapavy and Ed Catino. In 1991, Riley called it, One of the greatest games in the history of Schenectady basketball, Riley was a versatile athlete in college, participating in both basketball and football. Coached by Adolph Rupp, UK lost to Texas Western, a game that was reenacted in the movie Glory Road, in his senior year Riley made First Team All-SEC, one of the only players in storied Kentucky Basketball history to make two or more First Team All-SEC teams. He was selected by the San Diego Rockets in the 1st round of the 1967 NBA draft and he retired after the 1975–76 NBA season as a member of the Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns. Riley finished his NBA playing career with a 7.4 points per game scoring average, Riley returned to the NBA in 1977 as a broadcaster for the Lakers.
During the 1979–80 season, when the head coach, Jack McKinney, was injured during a near fatal bicycle accident, assistant coach Paul Westhead took over the teams head coaching duties. Riley moved from the broadcast booth to the bench as one of Westheads assistant coaches, the team lost in the playoffs the next year to the Moses Malone-led Houston Rockets. Six games into the 1981–82 season, Magic Johnson said he wished to be traded because he was playing for Westhead. Shortly afterward, Lakers owner Jerry Buss fired Westhead, at an ensuing press conference, with Jerry West at his side, Buss named West head coach. West, however and Buss awkwardly tried to name West as offensive captain and named West, West made it clear during the press conference that he would only assist Riley, and that Riley was the head coach. Thereafter, Riley was the head coach, until his status became permanent
Michael Jeffrey Jordan, known by his initials, MJ, is an American retired professional basketball player and principal owner and chairman of the Charlotte Hornets. Jordan played 15 seasons in the National Basketball Association for the Chicago Bulls and his biography on the NBA website states, By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. Jordan was one of the most effectively marketed athletes of his generation and was considered instrumental in popularizing the NBA around the world in the 1980s and 1990s, Jordan played three seasons for coach Dean Smith at the University of North Carolina. As a freshman, he was a member of the Tar Heels national championship team in 1982, Jordan joined the Bulls in 1984 as the third overall draft pick. He quickly emerged as a star, entertaining crowds with his prolific scoring. His leaping ability, demonstrated by performing slam dunks from the throw line in slam dunk contests, earned him the nicknames Air Jordan. He gained a reputation for being one of the best defensive players in basketball, in 1991, he won his first NBA championship with the Bulls, and followed that achievement with titles in 1992 and 1993, securing a three-peat.
Jordan retired for a time in January 1999, but returned for two more NBA seasons from 2001 to 2003 as a member of the Wizards. Among his numerous accomplishments, Jordan holds the NBA records for highest career regular season scoring average and highest career playoff scoring average. In 1999, he was named the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN and he became a member of the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2015. Jordan is known for his product endorsements and he fueled the success of Nikes Air Jordan sneakers, which were introduced in 1985 and remain popular today. Jordan starred in the 1996 feature film Space Jam as himself, in 2006, he became part-owner and head of basketball operations for the then-Charlotte Bobcats, buying a controlling interest in 2010. In 2015, Jordan became the first billionaire NBA player in history as a result of the increase in value of NBA franchises and he is the third richest African American, behind Oprah Winfrey and Robert F. Smith. Jordan was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Deloris, who worked in banking and his family moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, when he was a toddler.
Jordan is the fourth of five children and he has two older brothers, Larry Jordan and James R. Jordan, Jr. one older sister, and a younger sister, Roslyn. Jordans brother James retired in 2006 as the Command Sergeant Major of the 35th Signal Brigade of the XVIII Airborne Corps in the U. S. Army. Jordan attended Emsley A. Laney High School in Wilmington, where he highlighted his athletic career by playing basketball, baseball and he tried out for the varsity basketball team during his sophomore year, but at 511, he was deemed too short to play at that level. His taller friend, Harvest Leroy Smith, was the only sophomore to make the team, motivated to prove his worth, Jordan became the star of Laneys junior varsity squad, and tallied several 40-point games
Kevin McHale (basketball)
Kevin Edward McHale is an American retired professional basketball player who played his entire professional career for the Boston Celtics. He is a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee and he was named to the NBAs 50th Anniversary Team, and to the official list of the NBAs best 50 players in 1996. McHale began working for the Minnesota Timberwolves immediately following his retirement in 1993, at different times, as a TV analyst, general manager and he was the head coach of the Houston Rockets from 2011-15, until being fired following a 4-11 start to the 2015–16 season. McHale currently works as an on-air analyst for NBA TV and Turner Sportss popular NBA on TNT studio show, McHale was born to Paul Austin McHale and Josephine Patricia Starcevic in Hibbing, Minnesota. In his senior season at Hibbing High School, he was named Minnesotas Mr. Basketball of 1976 and he is of Croatian descent on his mothers side. The 6 ft 10 in McHale played basketball at the forward position for the University of Minnesota from 1976 to 1980.
He was named All-Big Ten in 1979 and 1980 and still second in school history in career points. In 1995, to coincide with the University of Minnesotas 100th anniversary, McHale is famous for an encounter with Chuck Foreman in the Gopher locker room. Foreman, a famous Minnesota Viking at the time, was congratulating the Gophers on a hard-fought victory, as Foreman was shaking all the players hands, when he arrived at the then-unknown power forward, McHale displayed his comic wit, Nice to meet you, Mr. Foreman. What do you do for a living, McHales stay in Boston got off to a rocky start as he held out for a large contract, even threatening to play in Italy, before signing a three-year deal with the Celtics. Backing up Larry Bird and Cedric Maxwell at forward, McHale made an impact and was named to the NBAs All-Rookie First Team in his rookie season. Boston finished McHales rookie season with a record of 62-20. In the playoffs, the Celtics swept the Chicago Bulls in the first round, in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics faced a 3–1 deficit against the Philadelphia 76ers, but Boston won the last three games of the series, including Game 6 on Philadelphias home court.
McHale helped save the Game 6 win by rejecting an Andrew Toney shot, in the NBA Finals, Boston defeated the Houston Rockets in six games to capture the teams fourteenth championship. The Celtics failed to advance to the NBA Finals the next two seasons, Philadelphia exacted a measure of revenge in the 1982 Eastern Conference Final, beating Boston at home in the seventh game. In the 1983 Eastern Conference semifinals, the Celtics were swept by the Milwaukee Bucks and this embarrassing defeat led to the firing of head coach Bill Fitch and a temporarily unhappy McHale. Following the 1982–83 season, McHales contract with the Celtics expired, auerbach retaliated by signing three of New Yorks top free agent players to offer sheets. The Knicks elected to re-sign their players and give up their pursuit of McHale, McHale eventually re-signed with Boston, his $1 million per season contract making him the fourth-highest paid player in the NBA
Richard Francis Dennis Rick Barry III is an American retired professional basketball player who played in both the American Basketball Association and National Basketball Association. Named one of the 50 Greatest Players in history by the NBA in 1996, Barry is the player to lead the National Collegiate Athletic Association. He was known for his unorthodox but effective underhand free throw shooting technique, in 1987, Barry was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He is the father of former NBA players Brent Barry and Jon Barry, Barry grew up in Roselle Park, New Jersey, graduating from Roselle Park High School in 1962. Barry was an All-American basketball player for the University of Miami, while at Miami, Barry met his wife Pamela, the daughter of Hurricanes head coach Bruce Hale. As a senior in the 1964–65 campaign, Barry led the NCAA with a 37.4 points-per-game average and the Hurricanes did not take part in the NCAA Tournament, because the basketball program was on probation at the time.
Barry is one of just two players to have his number retired by the school. Barry was drafted by the San Francisco Warriors with the pick of the 1965 NBA draft. In Barrys first season in the NBA with the Warriors, the team improved from 17 to 35 victories and that 76ers team is considered to be one of the greatest in basketball history.7 points and 10.6 rebounds per game in the 1965–66 season. Teamed with star center Nate Thurmond in San Francisco, Barry helped take the Warriors to the 1967 NBA Finals, including a 55-point outburst in Game 3, Barry averaged 40.8 points per game in the series, an NBA Finals record that stood for three decades. The courts ordered Barry to sit out the 1967–68 season before he starred in the ABA, the ensuing negative publicity cast Barry in a negative light, portraying him as selfish and money-hungry. However, many NBA players at the time were looking at jumping to the ABA for more lucrative contracts, Barry would star in the ABA, twice averaging more than 30 points per game.
After the 1966–67 season, Barry became one of the first NBA players to jump to the American Basketball Association when he signed with the Oakland Oaks, in the ABAs first season, the Oaks were the only ABA team located in the same market as an NBA team. The Warriors went to court and prevented Barry from playing for the Oaks during the 1967–68 season, Barry instead worked on Oaks radio broadcasts during the ABAs first season. During the 1968–69 season Barry suited up for the Oaks and averaged 34 points per game and he led the ABA in free throw percentage for the season. However, on December 27,1968, late in a game against the New York Nets and Kenny Wilburn collided and Barry tore ligaments in his knee. He tried to again in January but only aggravated the injury and sat out the rest of the season. Despite the injury Barry was named to the ABA All-Star team, the Oaks finished with a record of 60-18, winning the Western Division by 14 games over the second place New Orleans Buccaneers
Earvin Magic Johnson Jr. is an American retired professional basketball player and current president of basketball operations of the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association. He played point guard for the Lakers for 13 seasons, after winning championships in high school and college, Johnson was selected first overall in the 1979 NBA draft by the Lakers. He won a championship and an NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in his rookie season, Johnson retired abruptly in 1991 after announcing that he had contracted HIV, but returned to play in the 1992 All-Star Game, winning the All-Star MVP Award. After protests from his players, he retired again for four years. Johnsons career achievements include three NBA MVP Awards, nine NBA Finals appearances, twelve All-Star games, and ten All-NBA First and he led the league in regular-season assists four times, and is the NBAs all-time leader in average assists per game, at 11.2. Johnson was a member of the 1992 United States mens Olympic basketball team, after leaving the NBA in 1992, Johnson formed the Magic Johnson All-Stars, a barnstorming team that travelled around the world playing exhibition games.
Johnson was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996, Johnson became a two-time inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame—being enshrined in 2002 for his individual career, and again in 2010 as a member of the Dream Team. He was rated the greatest NBA point guard of all time by ESPN in 2007 and his friendship and rivalry with Boston Celtics star Larry Bird, whom he faced in the 1979 NCAA finals and three NBA championship series, are well documented. Since his retirement, Johnson has been an advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention and safe sex, as well as an entrepreneur, philanthropist and motivational speaker. Named by Ebony magazine as one of Americas most influential businessmen in 2009, Johnson has numerous business interests. Johnson is part of a group of investors purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012. Earvin Johnson Jr. was born in Lansing, Michigan to Earvin Sr. a General Motors assembly worker, and Christine, who had six siblings, was influenced by his parents strong work ethic.
Earvin Jr. would often help his father on the garbage route, Johnson grew up in Lansing, and came to love basketball as a youngster. His favorite basketball player was Bill Russell, whom he admired more for his many championships than his athletic ability and he idolized players such as Earl Monroe and Marques Haynes, and practiced all day. Magic Johnson came from an athletic family and his father played high school basketball in his home state of Mississippi, and Johnson learned the finer points about the game from him. Johnsons mother, originally from North Carolina, had played basketball as a child. By the time he had reached the grade, Johnson had begun to think about a future in basketball. He had become a dominant junior player, once scoring 48 points in a game
The Houston Rockets are an American professional basketball team based in Houston, Texas. The Rockets compete in the National Basketball Association, as a club of the leagues Western Conference Southwest Division. The team plays its games at the Toyota Center, located in downtown Houston. The Rockets have won two NBA championships and four Western Conference titles, the team was established as the San Diego Rockets, an expansion team originally based in San Diego, in 1967. In 1971, the Rockets moved to Houston, the Rockets won only 15 games in their debut season as a franchise in 1967. In the 1968 NBA draft, the Rockets, picking first overall, selected power forward Elvin Hayes, the Rockets did not finish a season with a winning record until the 1976–77 season, when they traded for center Moses Malone. Malone went on to win the NBA Most Valuable Player award twice and he led the Rockets to the NBA Finals in 1981 where they were defeated in six games by the Boston Celtics, led by Larry Bird and future Rockets coach Kevin McHale.
In 1984, the Rockets drafted center Hakeem Olajuwon, who would be paired with 7 feet 4 inches Ralph Sampson, nicknamed the Twin Towers, they led the team to the 1986 NBA Finals—the second NBA Finals appearance in franchise history—where Houston was again defeated by the Boston Celtics. The Rockets continued to reach the playoffs throughout the 1980s, Rudy Tomjanovich took over as head coach midway through the 1991–92 season, ushering in the most successful period in franchise history. Olajuwon-led Rockets went to the 1994 NBA Finals and won franchises first championship against Patrick Ewing, Houston became the lowest-seeded team in NBA history to win the title. After Yaos early retirement in 2011, the Rockets entered a period of rebuilding, the acquisition of franchise player James Harden in 2012 has launched the Rockets back into championship contention in the mid-2010s. The Rockets, under general manager Daryl Morey, are notable for popularizing the use of advanced statistical analytics in player acquisitions and style of play.
The Rockets were founded in 1967 in San Diego by Robert Breitbard, Breitbard brought in Jack McMahon, coach of the Cincinnati Royals, to serve as the Rockets coach and general manager. The Rockets lost 67 games in their season, which was an NBA record for losses in a season at the time. Because of the low performance and attendance, Breitbard looked to sell the team, and in 1971, Texas Sports Investments bought the franchise for $5.6 million, and moved the team to Houston. The franchise became the first NBA team in Texas, and the nickname Rockets took on greater relevance after the move. It was around this time that the Rockets would unveil their classic yellow and red logo, winter left soon after, being fired in January 1973 following a ten-game losing streak, and was replaced by Johnny Egan. Egan led the Rockets back to the playoffs in 1975, where the franchise managed to win their first round against the New York Knicks, subsequently losing to the veteran Boston Celtics in 5 games
The Washington Wizards are an American professional basketball team based in Washington, D. C. The Wizards compete in the National Basketball Association, as a club of the leagues Eastern Conference Southeast Division. The team plays its games at the Verizon Center, in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington. The team now known as the Wizards began playing as the Chicago Packers in 1961, as the first modern expansion team in NBA history, an expansion prompted by Abe Sapersteins American Basketball League. Rookie Walt Bellamy was the star, averaging 31.6 points per game,19.0 rebounds per game. During the All-Star game, Bellamy represented the team while scoring 23 points, Bellamy was named the league Rookie of the Year, but was the team finished with the NBAs worst record at 18-62. The teams original nickname was a nod to Chicagos meatpacking industry, their home arena, however, it was extremely unpopular since it was the same nickname used by the NFLs Green Bay Packers, bitter rivals of the Chicago Bears.
After only one year, the changed its name to the Chicago Zephyrs. Their only season as the Zephyrs boasted former Purdue star Terry Dischinger, in their first year in Baltimore, the Bullets finished fourth in a five–team Western Division. Prior to the 1964–65 NBA season the Bullets pulled off a trade, sending Dischinger, Rod Thorn and Don Kojis to the Detroit Pistons for Bailey Howell, Don Ohl, Bob Ferry. The trade worked out well, Howell proved to be a hustling, in the 1965 NBA Playoffs, the Bullets stunned the St. Louis Hawks 3–1, and advanced to the Western Conference finals. In the finals, Baltimore managed to split the first four games with the Los Angeles Lakers before losing the series 4–2. In the late 1960s, the Bullets drafted two future Hall of Fame members, Earl Monroe, in the 1967 draft, number two overall, and Wes Unseld, in the 1968 draft, number two overall. The team improved dramatically, from 36 wins the season to 57 in the 1968–69 season. The Bullets reached the playoffs with high expectations to go far, the next season the two teams met again in the first round, and although this one went to seven games, the Knicks emerged victorious again.
In the 1970–71 season, the 42–40 Bullets again met the 1970–71 Knicks and they were swept in four games by the powerful Milwaukee Bucks led by future Hall of Fame members Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson. Even after the trades of Earl Monroe and Gus Johnson, the Bullets remained a playoff contender throughout the 1970s. Following a less than spectacular 1971–72 season, Baltimore acquired Elvin Hayes from the Houston Rockets and drafted Kevin Porter in the third round, out of St. Francis in Pennsylvania
Larry Joe Bird is an American professional basketball executive, former coach and former player, currently serving as president of the Indiana Pacers in the National Basketball Association. Since retiring as a player for the Boston Celtics, he has been a mainstay in the Indiana Pacers organization, Bird was a 12-time NBA All-Star and was named the leagues Most Valuable Player three consecutive times. He played his professional career for Boston, winning three NBA championships and two NBA Finals MVP awards. He was a member of the 1992 United States mens Olympic basketball team won the gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics. Bird was voted to the NBAs 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996 and he served as head coach of the Indiana Pacers from 1997 to 2000. In 2003, he assumed the role of president of operations for the Pacers. After a year away from the position, he announced he would return to the Pacers as president of operations in 2013. In addition to being part of the 50–40–90 club, he is the person in NBA history to be named Most Valuable Player, Coach of the Year.
Bird was born in West Baden Springs, Indiana to Georgia and Claude Joseph Joe Bird and he was raised in nearby French Lick, where his mother worked two jobs to support Larry and his five siblings. Bird has said that being poor as a child still motivates him to this day and Joe divorced when Larry was in high school, and Joe committed suicide about a year later. Bird received a scholarship to college basketball for the Indiana University Hoosiers in 1974. After less than a month on campus he dropped out of school and he returned to French Lick, enrolling at Northwood Institute in nearby West Baden, and working municipal jobs for a year before enrolling at Indiana State University in Terre Haute in 1975. Indiana State would lose the game 75–64, with Bird scoring 19 points, despite failing to win the championship, Bird earned numerous year-end awards and honors for his outstanding play, including the Naismith College Player of the Year Award. For his college career, he averaged 30.3 points,13.3 rebounds, Bird appeared in one game for the baseball team, going 1-for-2 with 2 RBI.
Bird was selected by the Boston Celtics with the sixth pick in the 1978 NBA draft. He did not sign with the Celtics immediately, instead, he played out his season at Indiana State. After protracted negotiations, Bird inked a five-year, $3.25 million contract with the team, shortly afterwards, NBA draft eligibility rules were changed to prevent teams from drafting players before they were ready to sign, a rule known as the Bird Collegiate Rule. Bird immediately transformed the Celtics into a contender, helping them improve their win total by 32 games from the year before he was drafted