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The evolution of sport is a fascinating thing. In some ways, the games we love are trapped in amber. The size of the court or the field stays the same. Certain distances haven’t ever really changed – 60 feet from home to first, 10 yards for a first down, 10 feet from floor to rim.

But in other ways – the ways the games are actually played – have seen significant alterations over the years, even as most sporting stalwarts are staunch traditionalists with regards to how things are done. “We do them this way because that’s the way we’ve always done them” has long been the rallying cry of the athletic establishment.

But there will always be players who challenge the status quo. Players who, for whatever reason, deem it necessary to do things in a different way. Players who see the opportunity to find success by way of something new.

Players like Kenny Sailors.

You’d be forgiven for not recognizing that name, but as you’ll discover in the documentary “Jump Shot: The Kenny Sailors Story” – written and directed by Jacob Hamilton and available for rental at altavod.com – you are almost certainly familiar with his work. You see, there is a sizeable contingent out there that believes that Sailors, a man born nearly 100 years ago, is the inventor of the modern jump shot.

The doc itself is a brisk run through a remarkable life, one that features some names and faces you absolutely will recognize – NBA legends such as Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry (who also serves as an executive producer on the film) – as well as a number of other NBA figures, former players and league historians. Through archival footage, photographs and interviews, “Jump Shot” presents a strong case that in many ways, Sailors is the progenitor of how modern basketball is played.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 03 March 2020 12:43

Celtics Check-In – Third Quarter 2020

We’re three-quarters of the way through the NBA season and the Boston Celtics are putting forth another impressive performance. They look poised to finish strongly in the Eastern Conference, sitting in third place as of press time. While the top spot is likely out of reach – Boston’s 41-18 record leaves them 10 games behind the dominant Milwaukee Bucks – they’re just a touch behind the second-place Miami Heat. Barring disaster, they should still land home court advantage for at least the first round.

They’ve looked good recently, winning seven of 10 and generally looking like a contender. They’re in the top 10 in scoring (eighth) and the top five in scoring defense (fourth). They’ve got their issues – health will be a potential struggle, to be sure – and getting through the Bucks is certainly a tall order. Still, a couple of things go their way and they have a real shot at playing for a berth in the NBA Finals.

Let’s check in.

Published in Sports

The list of basketball’s Hall of Famers is set to get a little longer.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has announced its initial list of eight finalists for the honor; the inductees will be named during the Final Four in April.

It will be an incredible class, one whose excellence will be celebrated despite the looming shadow of the too-soon demise of Kobe Bryant, who perished in a helicopter crash last month. But even with the specter of tragedy hanging over the proceedings, one can’t help but recognize the truth that this could well be the greatest class in the Hall’s history.

Bryant is joined by fellow first-time eligibles Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, as well as WNBA and Olympic star Tamika Catchings. Also under consideration are coaches Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton and Rudy Tomjanovich.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 22 January 2020 14:24

Celtics Check-In 2020 – Halftime

As we approach the halfway point of the NBA regular season, the Boston Celtics appear to have positioned themselves well. At press time, they sit at 28-14, good for fourth place in the Eastern Conference. And while they’re nearly 10 games out of first place – the Bucks sport a robust 39-6 record to this point – they’re just a game-and-a-half back of the second-place Miami Heat.

All told, not too shabby.

While their recent performance hasn’t been particularly impressive – they’ve won just four of their last 10 – a hot start gave them a cushion which they’ve more or less maintained over the course of the season’s first half. It’s far from perfect, but they certainly look like a solid playoff contender.

Let’s check in.

Published in Sports

Some all-time NBA greats are about to have their first shot at official immortality.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has announced its initial list of 50 nominees for induction into the Hall as part of the Class of 2020. The finalists for the honor will be announced in February during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend, while the inductees will be named during the Final Four in April.

There are a lot of incredible names on this list, players who in their way helped define greatness in the game, but there are a few first-timers that could make this class one of the Hall’s greatest ever.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 25 June 2019 17:07

Celtics Check-In: 2019 Draft edition

Anyone who’s paying attention knows that the Boston Celtics are going through some things right now. Mercurial star point guard Kyrie Irving had one foot out the door for most of the season – he won’t be returning to the C’s. And it’s starting to look like Al Horford will join him; the do-everything big man declined his player option and seems inclined to head elsewhere in free agency.

In the midst of all that uncertainty, general manager Danny Ainge and the rest of the Boston front office had to deal with the draft. Despite the multitude of accumulated assets, the Celtics were unable to make the big splash for which many had hoped; it remains to be seen how well the players selected will perform in the Kelly green.

There were a lot of deals, with picks and players moving hither and yon. In the end, these are the players who were added to the Boston roster.

(Obligatory caveat: We here at The Maine Edge believe that draft grades are utter nonsense. Attempting to establish the specific success and/or failure of a draft – in any sport – before those players ever see the court/field is a fool’s errand. This is one man’s look at and thoughts on a team’s selections, nothing more.)

Published in Sports

As has been noted in these pages before, I am not a huge NBA fan specifically. However, I am a fairly observant general sports fan, and so I do have a degree of awareness regarding basketball – just enough awareness to have opinions. Underinformed opinions, but opinions nonetheless.

And so – why not offer up an underinformed NBA Finals preview?

The Golden State Warriors are facing off against the Toronto Raptors in a best-of-seven series for the NBA Championship. The Warriors are here as Western Conference champs for the fifth straight time, having won three titles in the last four years. The Raptors, on the other hand, are here as Eastern Conference champs for the first time in the franchise’s quarter-century of existence.

For the casual fan, it’s a pretty solid matchup in terms of historic narrative. On the one hand, if the Warriors win, it’s a chance to experience a truly historic sports dynasty – only a scant few teams have ever had such a stretch of success. On the other hand, you’ve got a chance to see a title-starved city watch a team that they adore hoist a trophy. Either way is a win, really.

So which team is superior? Well, there are a few underinformed ways in which we can examine this.

Published in Sports

While the NBA postseason is rapidly hurtling toward its ultimate crescendo, the league isn’t quite done considering the regular season accomplishments of its players and coaches.

The league has announced the finalists for its six primary regular season awards – MVP, Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player and Coach of the Year – with the ultimate winners set to be announced on June 24.

Considering that the playoffs tend to feature a lot more space between contests than we see during the season, a discussion of these finalists is a welcome way to keep talking basketball even if you aren’t particularly invested in any of the teams still standing.

And so we’re going to do just that, offering up a basic look at a few of the award races and the contenders for each particular crown. Then, just for fun, I’ll pick a winner, though considering the casualness of my NBA fandom, we should be sure to call it what it is – a moderately underinformed prediction.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 20 February 2019 14:00

Celtics Check-In 2019 – Third Quarter

It’s maybe a touch early to be marking the three-quarter mark of the season – with a 37-21 record thus far, the Celtics are 58 games into the season. However, with the All-Star break serving as a convenient delineation marker, it’s as good a time as any to check in.

It has been a nice rebound since we marked the season’s midpoint; Boston has won 80 percent of their games since the last time we visited them. Granted, that strong stretch moved them up just one spot in the standings – from fifth to fourth – but they’re just a game out of third.

It’s a team that has slowly been getting better, though they’ve got more than a few obstacles still in their way. Injuries and inconsistency have been the watchwords of the Celtics season; it’s all going to come down to whether they can get healthy and get their heads right in time for the postseason.

Let’s check in.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 20 February 2019 13:55

Basketball Hall of Fame announces 2019 finalists

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has announced the finalists for the Class of 2019.

The list – numbering 13 in all – includes four first-time finalists in Marques Johnson, Jack Sikma, Ben Wallace and Paul Westphal. The holdovers are led by Chris Webber; the list also includes Leta Andrews, Hugh Evans, Bill Fitch, Bobby Jones, Sidney Moncrief, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton and Teresa Weatherspoon.

The official class of inductees – everyone from this list who meets or surpasses the 75 percent voting threshold via the 24-person honors committee – will be announced during the NCAA Final Four.

It’s not quite as top-heavy a list as last year, which saw two of the NBA’s greatest point guards ever in Jason Kidd and Steve Nash. Still, it’s a quality collection of talent.

Published in Sports
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