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Curry Wants What LeBron Has in Warriors-Cavaliers NBA Finals

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Golden State Warriors players celebrate after Game 5 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, May 27, 2015. The Warriors won 104-90 and advanced to the NBA Finals. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Golden State Warriors players celebrate after Game 5 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, May 27, 2015. The Warriors won 104-90 and advanced to the NBA Finals. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer

Stephen Curry and LeBron James, this season’s brightest stars taking basketball’s biggest stage.

The NBA Finals start June 4 with the Golden State Warriors against the Cleveland Cavaliers, two teams who have little experience playing this time of year.

James does, getting ready to appear in his fifth straight finals. He won two titles in Miami before coming back home to Ohio, and now Curry wants what the four-time MVP has.

“He’s been here plenty of times before, five straight finals appearances, I think, so we’ve got to bring our A game if we’re going to beat a great team and a great player like that four times,” Curry said. “We’re excited about the challenge. He had to win his first one at some point, and nobody on our team has experienced that, so we’re going to be fighting like crazy every night.”

Not for a while, though. Both teams were so good in the conference finals that they won too fast, the Cavaliers finishing a sweep of top-seeded Atlanta in the East on Tuesday and the Warriors completing their five-game victory over Houston a night later.

The lengthy layoff will benefit banged-up players on both teams, and provide plenty of time to hype the Curry-James duel.

They started in the same place, born in the same Akron, Ohio hospital, but couldn’t have been more different upon arriving in the NBA. James was the can’t-miss Chosen One taken with the top pick in the 2003 draft, a perfect 6-for-8 combination of size and speed.

Curry had the sweet shot but a small stature, considered by many not big enough for NBA super stardom when he was drafted out of Davidson in 2009. Yet he put together a season-long highlight package this season with his brilliant ballhandling and smooth stroke and was voted MVP, finishing two spots ahead of James.

Curry averaged 31.2 points and shot nearly 50 percent from 3-point range in the West finals, while James nearly averaged a triple-double in the Cavs’ four-game romp.

The Warriors have home-court advantage after winning a league-best 67 games. But the Cavaliers, despite a difficult start to the season and the loss of Kevin Love, have been even better in the postseason, with a 12-2 record.

“No matter what happens from here on out, to see what we’ve accomplished being a first-year team together that’s had different changes throughout the course of the season, that’s faced so many obstacles throughout the season — injuries here, transactions here, lineups here — it’s something we can be very proud of to this point,” James said.

This will be his second crack at trying to help the Cavs win their first title. They got there in 2007 but were swept by San Antonio. The Warriors are seeking their first championship since 1975.

Here are some things to watch in the finals:

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: The Warriors’ Steve Kerr and the Cavaliers’ David Blatt — who nearly signed on to work under Kerr before getting the Cleveland job — make this the first time since the league’s first championship series that both coaches are rookies.

NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Golden State is 46-3 at Oracle Arena this season. The Cavaliers have become just as unbeatable on their home floor, winning 26 of their last 28 games at Quicken Loans Arena, including 18 by double digits.

SORE STARS: Kyrie Irving has been MVP of the All-Star Game and the Basketball World Cup — where he started in the U.S. backcourt alongside Curry. Now he gets his chance in the NBA Finals, with plenty of time to rest the knee and foot injuries that caused him to miss two games in the conference finals. The time off will also benefit fellow All-Star and world champion Klay Thompson, who began experiencing concussion symptoms after being kneed in the head in the series clincher against Houston and will have to pass the league’s concussion protocol before returning to action.

CONTAINING THE KING: Kawhi Leonard turned in a solid defensive effort against James last year when San Antonio beat Miami. Among the options for the Warriors against James is Draymond Green, the runner-up to Leonard this season for Defensive Player of the Year.

AGITATING AUSSIES: Warriors center Andrew Bogut got under Dwight Howard’s skin, and Cleveland’s Matthew Dellavedova has angered opponents in the last two rounds, so players on both sides will have to avoid getting fired up by a feisty one from Down Under.

___

Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Briancmahoney

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Black History

IN MEMORIAM: Referee Jim Burch Got the Final Whistle in The Game

Jim Burch was also inducted into eight different halls of fame, including the CIAA John B. McLendon Jr. Hall of Fame (February 2019). To recognize the hard work of student athletes who exemplify the qualities of academic excellence, involvement in public service, and love of athletic competition, Burch established the James T. Burch Scholarship.

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jim burch
Jim Burch

By Tamara Shiloh

Created in 1953, the Atlantic Coast Conference, an athletic conference headquartered in Greensboro, N.C., quickly rose to prominence. Within 13 years, the university and college teams in its membership had a number of victories to its credit. North Carolina State University won the first three championships, and the conference was getting heavy exposure outside of the region. Several ACC teams went to the Final Four of the NCAA’s basketball championships. In North Carolina, Duke University took four titles, Wake Forest University took two and University of North Carolina had one victory as did the University of Maryland.

Life inside the ACC could not have been better, except for one minor but not overlooked detail: there were no Black players or officials.

But Jim Burch (1926–2019), who began his officiating career with the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1959, would become the first, signing on with the ACC in 1969. His debut, however, was delayed for a season because “he reportedly refused to cut his hair and sideburns.”

A Raleigh, N.C., native raised in Larchmont, N.Y., Burch was a 1949 graduate of North Carolina’s Fayetteville State University. There he was a two-sport athlete – football and baseball – having large dreams.

Burch “talked about sitting in the ‘colored’ section of Reynolds Coliseum watching games, telling his friends that he was going to be on that court someday,” ACC referee Jamie Luckie told ESPN in 2019 referring to the sports complex in Raleigh, N.C. “They said he was crazy, and sure enough, he was on that court one day.”

Burch never made a big deal out of the historic mark, although many would benefit from his humility. He would train and mentor hundreds of officials over the years. In fact, it was Burch who gave Luckie his start in refereeing.

Throughout his 60-year career, Burch officiated in the CIAA, ACC, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and Southern Conference. He also worked 14 National Collegiate Athletic Association tournaments and was an educator and administrator within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District.

Working as an educator made Burch “an unbelievable teacher of the game in terms of what he wanted us to do on the floor, how he wanted us to deal with coaches, how he wanted us to communicate, and just his delivery and style was one where he could get it across to you, but he was a teacher. That never stopped,” Luckie said.

Burch continued to make monumental achievements as well as give back.

Many of those he trained moved into CIAA, ACC, Southern Conference, and NCAA championship careers. He was twice featured in the NCAA Champions Magazine, served on numerous civic boards, and was the first African American to serve on the Charlotte Housing Authority board.

Burch was also inducted into eight different halls of fame, including the CIAA John B. McLendon Jr. Hall of Fame (February 2019).

To recognize the hard work of student athletes who exemplify the qualities of academic excellence, involvement in public service, and love of athletic competition, Burch established the James T. Burch Scholarship.

Before retiring in 2018, he served as the head coordinator of officials for the South Atlantic Conference and the CIAA.

Burch died at his home in North Carolina in 2019 at the age of 91.

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Bay Area

Skyline High Girls Volleyball Team Makes History

The team played in Orange County, taking on Santa Clarita Christian School in the California Interscholastic Federation Division 5 CIF State Championship match.

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The Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team
The Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team.

As the season comes to a close for the Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team, the members are celebrating that they went farther than any Skyline or OUSD/OAL volleyball team ever has. On the final day, November 19, the team played in Orange County, taking on Santa Clarita Christian School in the California Interscholastic Federation Division 5 CIF State Championship match. Skyline fell short 3 games to 1, coming in as runner-up. The photo above shows the team posing with their trophy after the match.

 

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Commentary

OPINION: Would You Pressure Your Kid’s Coach to Apologize for Winning by 106-0?

“Regarding Inglewood H.S. vs. Morningside H.S. Friday night 10/29 game, we at the Inglewood Unified School District (IUSD) are saddened beyond words by the events that transpired at the football game Friday between Inglewood and Morningside high schools,” the IUSD stamen read. “We will conduct a full investigation and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that a similar outcome never happens again under an IUSD athletic program.”

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Inglewood Football Coach Mil’Von James (Nick Koza/Photo)
Inglewood Football Coach Mil’Von James (Nick Koza/Photo)

By Kenneth Miller | Inglewood Today

Coaches push the athletes they train to put their all into mastering the mental and physical aspects of their sport, preparing them to edge out competitors and perform at the height of their abilities.

But there are real-life situations, it seems, when attaining excellence proves to be too much – or maybe just not good enough.

This seems to have been the case October 29 when an impressive shut-out victory for Inglewood High School in Los Angeles County ended up turning into a bitter crosstown game of guilt, blame and grievances. That day, Inglewood High football coach and former Cleveland Browns defensive back Mil’Von James led his team to a 106-0 victory over rivals Morningside High School.

Since that shellacking, education authorities have blasted James and Inglewood High for being too focused on winning that they failed to exhibit a spirit of compassion and sportsmanship.

The California Interscholastic Federation -Southern Section (CIFSS), the governing body of high school athletics in the state, released a scathing statement regarding the wide margin of the game’s final score.

“The CIF Southern Section expects that all athletic contests are to be conducted under the strictest code of good sportsmanship. “We expect coaches, players, officials, administrators and students to adhere to the Six Pillars of Character – Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship,” CIF-SS fired off in a statement.

“A score of 106-0 does not represent these ideals,” the statement continued. “The CIF-SS condemns, in the strongest terms, results such as these. It is our expectation that the Inglewood administration will work towards putting in place an action plan so that an event such as this does not repeat itself.”

James, 38, said it was not his intention to degrade or demoralize the Morningside High team.

“I apologized for the way things turned out,” James said even though, during the game, he benched his defensive starters after the second quarter and most of his other frontline players in the second half.

But Inglewood continued to run up the score on its hapless opponent.

Anyone who knows James personally would know – and can attest to the fact — that his intent was never to bring shame to the game that he loves.

Coaches like James who have played college and pro football understand the fierce competitiveness it requires for young people to succeed when pursuing careers as professional athletes. They train their students to be warriors, to dominate their opponents. Varsity sports is the highest level of competition in high school.

Today, the advancement of training techniques and year-round coaching and development increases the likelihood that schools with the resources will outperform schools with sports programs that are underfunded or under-supported.

Since he became coach at Inglewood High three seasons ago, James has taken the team from a losing streak to being nearly undefeated. During that time, the team has moved from CIF-SS Division 13 to Division 2.

Inglewood student athletes have advantages in coaching and preparation that Morningside and many other schools do not.

James was a star on the football squad at Fremont High School in Los Angeles where he graduated in 2003. In college, he first played for the UNLV Rebels where he led the nation in passes; before transferring to UCLA and playing for the Bruins from 2003-2005.

After brief stints in the NFL and the Canadian Football League on the roster for the Cleveland Browns and the Vancouver Lions respectively, James began coaching high school football.

He is the founder and director of one of most successful ‘7 on 7’ leagues in the nation, responsible for scores of future and current high school, collegiate and professional players.

Chances are, if you have observed any top football program in California, you have you witnessed his impact on young players, their development and their unmatched leadership skills – on the field and off it.

The Inglewood Unified School District also blasted James and Inglewood High.

“Regarding Inglewood H.S. vs. Morningside H.S. Friday night 10/29 game, we at the Inglewood Unified School District (IUSD) are saddened beyond words by the events that transpired at the football game Friday between Inglewood and Morningside high schools,” the IUSD stamen read. “We will conduct a full investigation and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that a similar outcome never happens again under an IUSD athletic program.”

High school sports, in many schools, is a training ground for college and pro athletes. Schools that have better resources will always have an edge.

It is unfortunate that this incident has placed a dark cloud over a high school sports program. Inglewood High’s football program should be celebrated for its league championship and undefeated record in a school district that is still in state receivership.

Kenneth Miller is the publisher of Inglewood Today.

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