Curry Makes Biggest Impact Off The Basketball Court

We all know that Stephen Curry is one of the premier players on a basketball court in the world. The six-time All-Star and two-time NBA MVP winner has proven he is a player who will not rest on his laurels in his quest to keep getting better.

Curry is a player known for getting back into the gym early in the offseason. He has that drive and desire that all the greats find in their genetic make-up; that will to win and the need to improve on their skill set year after year to present new problems and new issues for defenders.

The three-time NBA champion knows that at 31-years-old he must keep pushing to get better. That is how Curry went from a player who was expected, in some circles, to be nothing more than a spot-up shooter in the NBA, to a player who can win games on his own with his passing and quickness off of the dribble.

Curry, though, also picks up his inspiration and his skills around the sport in other ways. One of those ways is that this premier player of basketball also loves to challenge himself with a round of golf.

When news broke that Curry had made a seven-figure donation to Howard University to bring back golf – and Division 1 golf at that – to its sports offerings, it raised a few eyebrows. Curry attended school at Davidson before making his NBA name on the West Coast, so news of him giving money to a small college in D.C. didn’t make much sense.

Curry got the idea to restart the golf program after meeting a Howard student named Otis Ferguson who passed up on furthering his golfing career to attend Howard, a school that did not have a golf program at the time. Curry, intrigued by Ferguson and his life story, decided to bring the program back to life.

Curry played golf in high school, and fans often see him on the pro/am and celebrity golf scenes. Golf is a sport he cares about and one that has impacted his ability to be a premier player in basketball.

“Golf is a sport that has changed my life in ways that are less tangible, but just as impactful,” Curry said about the imminent donation in a press release. “It’s a discipline that challenges your mental wherewithal from patience to focus, and is impossible to truly master, so when you hear about these passionate student-athletes who have the talent but don’t have a fair shot at the game, it’s tough. I feel really honored to play a small role in the rich history of Howard University.”

This act of charity is not the first time Curry has supported others, and it will not be the last. He is making an impact in ways that people will not only remember him for his greatness on the court but his greatness as a person.

UAB Blazers Ready For Ball State Invite, Season Opener

BIRMINGHAM – With its first match of the season only days away, the UAB volleyball team is set to begin year two of the Amy Pauly era.

“I feel really confident about this group heading into the season,” said Pauly. “They have worked really hard all summer to make sure they were prepared for the first day of practice. I feel like our starting point this year is ahead of last year’s, and that’s always the goal. We focus on the process and how every little detail can help move this program forward.”

The Blazers will first be traveling to Muncie, Ind., on Aug. 30 to compete in the Ball State invite, taking on Ball State at 10 a.m. and USF at 2:30 p.m. in Worthen Arena. The squad’s home opener will be the following Tuesday, Sep. 3, at 7 p.m. in Bartow Arena as in-state rival Alabama State comes to town. UAB’s full schedule consists of a 27-game slate, highlighted by 12 home matches featuring seven conference matches and five nonconference matchups including SEC foe Alabama.

“I’m excited for our non-conference slate. We have a good mix of physical teams and scrappy ball control teams that I think are really going to challenge us to play as a unit and play together consistently,” Pauly said. “I’m most excited about how many home opportunities we have. We had a great turn out for matches last year, and I expect Bartow to be rocking this year!”

UAB returns the entirety of its coaching staff after improving in every statistical category and picking up 13 wins in its debut season, the most wins the program has seen since 2013. Along with six newcomers, the Blazers return 10 players in 2019, including four of six starters. Most notably, UAB returns major firepower on the offensive side from last year’s squad as three of its top five attackers will be in green and gold once again this season.

The eldest of the group is redshirt junior Emma Mitchell (pictured), who was second on the team in kills with 231 on the year and tied for the team lead in service aces with 24 last season. Another key cog returning this season is true junior Abby Carlile, who led last year’s squad in kills with 286 and finished third in total blocks with 67 on the season. Rounding out the vital crop of outside hitters returning is redshirt sophomore Alex Kells. The Ontario, Canada, native was top five on the team in kills and service aces, finishing just shy of the 200 kill threshold with 198 and adding the third most service aces with 18 last year.

“We’re returning a solid core,” she said. “I know they have learned from last year and are prepared to take on an even larger offensive role this year.”

For more information on the UAB volleyball team, follow the Blazers on Twitter or Instagram (@UAB_VB).

Simone Biles: The Best May Still Be Yet To Come

If Simone Biles retired today would she do so as the best athlete of all time?

It is a question that most wouldn’t even consider, but Biles’ name should be up there with the likes of Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, and anyone else who is deemed to be at the top of the list not only their sport, but in all of sports.

Biles problem in this argument is her lack of visibility. As a female gymnast, she dominates in a sport that is only visible to the larger American population, let alone the broader world population, every four years. When the Olympic Games are in full swing, then women’s gymnastics is popular. As soon as the Olympics finish, however, Biles is back to performing her craft well out of the media bubble.

Looking objectively at her career though, you can certainly make a case that Biles is the most dominant athlete of her time.

Being one of the premier athletes in gymnastics for any length of time is undoubtedly tough. It is a sport that chews up and spits out its athletes quicker than almost any other, with the need for a combination of strength and flexibility being practically impossible to maintain as age takes over.

Biles is the exception to this rule. She claimed her sixth all-around title at the 2019 US Gymnastics Championships in Kansas City, wrecking the rest of the field by five points in a sport that is almost always decided by decimal figures. Biles doesn’t just have one or two events she excels in and then holds on through the rest, she is legitimately dominant in all aspects of a sport where each routine – from floor to uneven bars – requires a distinct and unique set of skills.

Biles dominated the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, never giving her competition a chance to even put her under pressure. She is a cool, confident, and highly skilled athlete, one that never seems to get stressed or let the pressure to perform cause her problems in a sport when a slight misstep can mean the difference between a winning routine or low score by the judges.

Biles was asked a simple question on the Today Show by host Natalie Morales in 2018 after she had just won the US Gymnastics Championships that year. The question was, “Are you human?” to which she replied, “I am human, but I get that question all the time.”

That is a question reserved for premier athletes and players that have attained a different level than being a favorite sports star. A tier that is the elite of the elite. Simone Biles has reached that tier and, as she proves consistently, she has no plans to slow down any time soon.

Article by Premier Players

Best Ever In NBA Discussions Must Include Larry Bird

The debate around the best player ever in a sport will never be truly answered. Even comparing players of the same generation – Messi vs. Ronaldo, Brady vs. Manning – is difficult enough. So how do we look at two players from different eras and decide which of the two is the premier player?

When it comes to basketball, most of the debate around the best player ever focuses on Michael Jordan and LeBron James. They are seen as the 1a and the 1b of the game – in some order – with most people putting Jordan at the top due to his number of championships and the iconic ways he won games in an era where individual stars weren’t as prevalent as they are today.

There are some, a small minority based either in the 617 area code or in French Lick, Indiana, who will tell you that neither Mike nor ‘Bron is the premier player in basketball history. For those people, it is all about Larry Bird.

Larry Legend was a premier player. He’s talked about in mythical ways in some circles, even though his career in the NBA didn’t come to an end until the 90s. He, before LeBron, was widely regarded as the best small forward the game had ever seen. A player who could do it all on the court, and who always did so with a systematic style of play that belied his skillset.

Bird was a 12-time NBA All-Star, a nine-time All-NBA First Team selection, a three-time NBA Champion, and a three-time NBA Finals MVP. In addition to that stacked resume, Bird was voted the NBA MVP for three years in a row from 1984-1986. That means that for 36 consecutive months, – almost 1,100 days – there was (by popular opinion) no better in the game of basketball. Larry Bird was the premier player in the entire sport.

To see the value of Bird, you have to look past what Isaiah Thomas has coined the “winning plus” mindset. This school of thought – one that dominates the game today – is that merely winning is not good enough. Instead, you have to win with style and flash, you have to be an above the rim player who can be a SportsCenter highlight every night, and it is a mindset where only winning championships in the style of a Tim Duncan isn’t enough.

That is not to say that Bird wouldn’t have adapted. One look at his highlights on YouTube shows a player with a passing range that is unlike any small forward in the NBA today. That he was able to pass, dribble, and shoot his Celtics to three NBA Titles in an era where defenders could basically mug the attacking player is a testament to his otherworldly skill level. There is a school of thought that the greats could find their way to adapt and play in any era, with another school saying that if Bird’s Celtics had played in the Eastern Conference over the past decade, they would have made 10 NBA Finals trips due to Larry’s ability and work ethic.

Maybe the best way to put Bird’s career into perspective as one of the premier players of all time is too look at his scoring. Bird scored 21,791 NBA points, good for 24.3 points per game (while rebounding at a rate of 10.0 per game). This puts Bird 30th on the all-time scoring list. Bird also won the first-ever 3-point contest at an All-Star game. Even with those numbers, and that ability, Bird rarely practiced the outside shot as he played in an era where it was all about getting the ball inside.

If he played today, Larry Legend would be over 30,000 points without breaking a sweat. That is how the premier players in a sport cross generations and come into the conversation as the best to play their game and, based on that, no discussion about the best basketball player ever would be complete without the mention of Larry Bird.

Article by Premier Players, Inc.

Mike Trout Continues To Build Legendary Career

To reach the mountain top of being a legendary sports figure isn’t easy. It usually happens late in a players career (Tom Brady) or when a player dominates his game with a big play and a loud personality (LeBron).

Even then, these players are legends in leagues and sports that are still relatively young. What, then, would you say to the claim that we have a legendary player who at 28-years-old still has much of his career in front of him? Oh, and he is a premier player statistically destroying a sport that has been played professionally in this country since the year of the first east-west transatlantic radio broadcast.

Welcome to the career of Mike Trout.

Walking through Trout’s career before he hit his 28th birthday is a little ridiculous. He ranks in the top 10 in home runs, walks, and on-base percentage, just three of the many significant categories he is among the best all-time in at that age.

He is already an eight-time all-star and a two-time league MVP, with the odds being good that he will win a third MVP award at the end of the 2019 season. Trout, like most of the premier players we see, is only getting better as he gets older. This season he is going to break his personal career-high marks in RBI, home runs, and on-base plus slugging (OPS) categories. Given how stellar his stats already were, that is some achievement.

If this were four or five decades ago, Trout would be the most talked-about sportsman on the planet. Even in the days of Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez, baseball was a factor in the national conversation. In 2019, however, the sport just hasn’t found a way to grip fans in the way football and basketball seem able to do. That is why Trout could walk through most towns in America as the premier player of the national pastime and most wouldn’t even recognize his face.

While Trout increases his home run numbers and his Wins Above Replacement (WAR) ranking seemingly every time he plays, it is the MVP numbers which might be his most impressive legacy when all is said and done. Trout has finished in the top-two of voting for the award every full season he has played the game. The only exception to this was in 2017 where he played just 114 games due to injury. Even then he finished fourth. Seven seasons in the top five is the longest such streak for any player since 1931. When the voters for the biggest individual prize in your sport are that enamored with your game, then you are the premier player on the planet.

Trout is a Hall of Famer in waiting. That he could potentially have another five to seven seasons in his sport is truly impressive. Watch the numbers grow and watch the legend increase as Trout does what he does day after day in the major league. One day, just maybe, Mike Trout will be more recognizable to the average American sports fan.

By Steve Wright
Independent Writer

 

The Premier Player Award

Football, or any sport, would not bring excitement to millions of people each year if it wasn’t for the fans. Yet, when it came to determining the best players in the country, the fans were mostly left out of the selection process – until now.

The Premier Player Trophy is an award presented to the athlete the fans voted as the best player in NCAA college football, basketball, baseball, softball, and hockey.  A poll is released at the beginning of the college sports season with 20 of the best players for fans to follow.  Then in mid-season, up to five more great performing players may be added to the poll while nonperformers are deleted from the poll.  Fans then have until the last conference championship game to vote the Premier Player of the season.

Here’s what one of the best in pro and college football, the late Lee Roy Selmon, had to say  https://youtu.be/7jLk-p0SGAI?t=58s about our award.

Below is the Making of The Premier Player Trophy video:

Short interviews with College & NFL HOF Lee Roy Selmon, first award recipient Ryan Mallett, and Carnell Moore, founder of The Premier Players Sports Foundation:

Marcus Mariota’s interview about the Premier Player Trophy:

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