Posted tagged ‘Rockets’

Top 31 Moments in the UP! #27 – Battle of Rockets and Wolverines

July 12, 2013
Justin Marietti |Daily Press

Justin Marietti |Daily Press

High School Basketball in the UP can be described in one word, “Heart.” The passion the kids display on the court every time they play, the mom’s and dad’s in the bleachers cheering on and watching their child play for their hometown, and the fact these athletes represent the city name on the jersey rather than just a mascot or a school name.

So on a cold night in Perkins on December 28, 2012 I witnessed a few things I had not seen before in my entire life. (Watch highlights below)

I got to the game at half time after covering the first few minutes of the Superior Central at Gwinn. The scoreboard read Rapid River Rockets 25 Mid Peninsula Wolverines 15.  I thought to myself, “What? That is not the score. Rapid River has not won a game all year!”

Then I saw Daily Press reporter Justin Marietti and he told me as time expired in the first half, Rapid River’s Robert Metter made a three at the buzzer and Rapid River fans in attendance went crazy. I was in for a tremendous second half. It was so good, it created a lasting memory in my mind.

The Wolverines kept chipping at the lead in the third quarter with points in the paint and the Rockets went into the fourth quarter clinging to a 37-34 lead. While they may have had the lead, the momentum clearly changed in the third quarter.

That’s when the monster himself came to life, Double B aka Brett Branstrom. He grabbed big rebounds, went coast to coast with speed and athleticism to finish at the rim, and not to mention showing that shooting touch by knocking down a big three with hands in his face. He finished with 27 points and 18 rebounds to go with six blocks. I had not seen a player all season up to that point put a team on his back. He became a star in my eyes right after seeing that performance. It truly was an incredible display of perseverance by the senior.

But here was the key play! The game was tied at 45, Brett Branstrom block a shot on defense that turned into an outlet pass to Chad Branstrom, who was fouled at the basket. Two free throw shots were in order until a Rapid River fan went ballistic in the stands about the previous call by the referees and started to yell and point at the two gentlemen working the game.

So the zebras stopped the game and threw the fan yelling at the refs out of the gym which resulted in a technical foul on Rapid River Coach Craig Carter. Now those two free shots turned into four in just a matter of minutes. Mr. Chad Branstrom proceeded to hit all four free throws to secure the 54-49 win that night.

I had never seen anything like that before in my life. The game was basically decided on a technical foul. The lead went from a tied game to a Wolverine four point advantage with under 2 minutes remaining. The Rockets fan base were so upset with the referees calls in the second half, every play resulted in screaming and yelling. The gym got loud and changed from excitement to anger in just a matter of 12 minutes. Crazy!

The lesson I learned from that game was let the kids play and allow the kids to make the difference in the game, not the parents. It’s something that is ongoing in youth sports in this day and age and it showed in this high school basketball game just days before the New Year. I think a lot of fans made a few New Year’s resolutions after driving home from that contest.

Summer of the Retired Centers: Remembering the days of Shaq and Yao

July 24, 2011

The NBA next year ( if there is a next year) will not be the same without some of the most dominant centers of all time playing basketball. This summer, Shaquille O’Neal and Yao Ming decided to hang up their shoes and retire from the game but for different reasons. Shaq retired from the game due to his age at 39 and the fact that last season he couldn’t recover from an Achilles injury. Yao had injury problems. He hurt his toe about 2 years ago and wasn’t able to sustain the health to be able to play every single day. Yao, who will turn 31 in September, missed a total of 250 regular-season games over the past six seasons due mostly to injuries to his left foot and leg.

But the reason they will be missed so much is that both players brought a new style of game to the NBA. Shaq was a bruiser in the middle and could out rebound everyone but could also muscle himself into position to be able to score on almost every single possession down the floor. Yao on the other hand was so tall at 7 foot 6 inches that he could get into any position and shoot over any other defender blocking him. His skill around the basket was just exceptional and the hands he had were what made his game from an all-star to a superstar.

But what nobody knows about these two great players of their decade is that we won’t see any other combo dominate the league like they did in the last decade. Take a look at these accolades….

Shaq ended his with 28,596 points, 13,099 rebounds, 15 All-Star selections, four championships and three NBA Finals MVP awards. He was drafted No. 1 pick in 1992 by the Orlando Magic and played for 19 seasons. He played for the Magic, Lakers, Heat, Suns, Cavaliers, and Celtics.

Yao Ming’s legacy reaches far beyond his nine years in the NBA. He arrived on the scene as the top pick of the Houston Rockets in the 2002 NBA Draft, the fifth player taken No. 1 overall by the Rockets, and third 7-footer following Ralph Sampson (1983) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1984). He also was an All Star in 8 out of his 9 seasons played in the NBA.

He finished with career averages of 19.0 points and 9.2 rebounds, including two seasons when he averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds. He retires sixth in Rockets history in points (9,247) and rebounds (4,494), and trails only Olajuwon in blocks.

Yao also was a terrific free throw shooter — especially for his size. Among players with at least 1,000 free throws made, Yao ranked second among 7-footers in highest free throw percentage (83.3), behind only Dirk Nowitzki‘s 87.7.

Can you just imagine if these guys would play a little longer in the league? Shaq would have had 30,000 career points and Yao would have been one of the best shot blockers and could have been a near 10 time all-star. I can’t even think of a duo that could put up those records right now in the NBA. The closest combo that I could think of is Brook Lopez of the Nets and Dwight Howard of the Magic. But besides that, I don’t think anyone can do what these two have done. For a guy like me that loves the NBA, I think everyone has to sit down and just relive the moments these two have brought to the NBA. Appreciate the battles, the accomplishments, and the greatness they brought to the game that players still strive to do.

In the end, I am interested to see is what will Shaq and Yao do now that they don’t play basketball. Does Shaq make a new video game Shaq Fu or does he make a new rap CD dedicating it to Kobe Bryant? Does Yao Ming go back to China and become a hit in their basketball leagues? Does he start making new tv commercials? Does he mentor a new center and develop an All Star in China? These are all the questions I have about their post careers and I am excited to see what they do for the league and for the future. Cause we may never see dominant players like this play the game ever again. Remember the dunks and the blocks and be happy that they didn’t do it to you as a player but to everyone else who couldn’t live up to the expectation that these two did…