Mavericks37234.132.7 Cavaliers477139.099.2 Lakers6714672.8471.7 Nets507163.874.9 Grizzlies2200.00.0 While he was playing, Tim Duncan lifted the San Antonio Spurs up the list of the most successful teams in NBA history. Now that he has retired, Duncan — thanks to his recently retired jersey — has also made the AT&T Center rafters among the most talent-filled in the league.To rank every team’s group of retired numbers, I grabbed data from Basketball-Reference.com’s franchise pages and then filtered out honored non-players — like longtime Los Angeles Lakers announcer Chick Hearn (who has a microphone-themed banner hanging alongside the jerseys of Magic Johnson and company) or the No. 6 in Orlando, which is retired “in honor of the fans.” (Because they’re the “sixth man.” Get it?) For each team, I added up the total amount of value above replacement (VAR)1A cumulative value statistic based on a combination of Player Efficiency Rating and Win Shares per 48 minutes. generated by those players, both over their entire pro careers (across all franchises)2For my purposes, ABA statistics were given the same weight as NBA ones, because most former ABA teams that joined the NBA have retired the numbers of their ABA-era stars. and during their time with the specific franchise in question. Here’s the list, ranked by the latter category, to avoid ridiculous situations like the Miami Heat’s getting credit for Michael Jordan, whose jersey the team retired even though he never played for it. 76ers6710502.2295.2 Jazz437277.6232.0 Kings679229.6173.4 Clippers4700.00.0 Before Duncan’s number was retired, the Spurs’ retired-jersey crew ranked ninth all-time; now it’s in fourth place, behind the Boston Celtics and the Lakers — no shock there — as well as the Philadelphia 76ers, who’ve had a surprising number of truly great players contribute for them over the years. But if San Antonio eventually retires the numbers of current Spurs Manu Ginobili (38.1 VAR with the club) and Tony Parker (37.0), the Spurs could pass the 76ers for third, particularly because the closest Philadelphia has to a jersey-retirement candidate is ex-Sixer (and current Warrior) Andre Iguodala (17.5) — and because Iggy was no fan favorite, I doubt he’ll even be considered for the honor.Duncan also gives the Spurs an average of 31.3 VAR per honored player, which ranks fourth among all franchises — and is higher than that of both Boston (24.6) and Philly (29.5). The gold standard in this department belongs to the Chicago Bulls (36.0), who’ve retired only four players’ numbers — Hall of Famers Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen and multi-time All-Stars Bob Love and Jerry Sloan. (Artis Gilmore and Chet Walker must be wondering what they have to do for their numbers to be taken out of circulation.) But the Spurs’ retired-jersey strategy has struck a nice balance between upholding quality and not being overly picky; San Antonio has discontinued a player’s number every 6.3 years, more than twice as frequently as Chicago’s 12.8-years-per-player ratio. (Duncan’s No. 21 became the eighth number the Spurs have retired.3At least, according to Basketball-Reference.com. Technically, Bruce Bowen allowed San Antonio to unretire his No. 12 for LaMarcus Aldridge to wear, although I still included Bowen in the Spurs’ VAR total.)Other teams have less lofty standards of inclusion. As part of their apparent plan to commemorate every single member of their Bill Russell-era teams, the Celtics honored “Jungle” Jim Loscutoff despite his career average of 6.2 points per game, to go with a miniscule 8.3 lifetime Player Efficiency Rating (15.0 is league-average) and .017 Win Shares per 48 minutes (average is around .100). (In fairness, Loscutoff’s number was later kept active for Dave Cowens, a much better player.) Utah enshrined Darrell Griffith, whose nickname (“Dr. Dunkenstein”) was far superior to his stats (14.6 PER, .049 WS/48), and Portland honored Lionel Hollins (13.0 PER, .059 WS/48) even without a cool moniker to point to. Nate Thurmond became a Hall of Famer because of his performance as a Warrior, but his number was retired by Cleveland even though he played fewer than 12 percent of his career games as a Cav.Of course, winning titles like the Spurs have (five since 1999) is a surefire way to grease the wheels of jersey-retirement. It’s no coincidence that the bottom seven teams in the list above have won zero combined championships, and they’ve only retired three jerseys in total: One for a beloved local legend who played for a different franchise in the same city, and two for players who died during their careers. (Meanwhile, take the Knicks as a counterexample: They’ve won only two titles, and seven of their nine retired jerseys honor a player or coach4Yes, 12 coaches have had their “jerseys” retired, with the number often taking the form of their coaching victory total with the franchise (i.e., the number 832 is “retired” for Phoenix in honor of Cotton Fitzsimmons’s 832 career coaching wins). from those championship squads.)San Antonio wasn’t scrounging for numbers to retire before Duncan came along — it had already raised George Gervin’s iconic No. 44, and David Robinson’s No. 50 was well on its way, to go with some of their less-heralded teammates. But like he did for the Spurs as a franchise, Duncan has now elevated their honorees to the upper echelon of the NBA.Check out our latest NBA predictions. Spurs508254.4250.7 Thunder506145.8100.8 Knicks678198.5162.9 Nuggets505165.8111.5 With Duncan, the Spurs have elite laundry hanging in the rafters COMBINED VALUE ABOVE REPLACEMENT OF RETIRED JERSEY PLAYERS Timberwolves2812.21.4 Wizards564103.379.4 Pacers504126.3111.0 Magic2800.00.0 1951 to present. Includes franchise lineages as defined by Basketball-Reference.com (e.g., the Oklahoma City Thunder entry also includes players whose numbers were retired by the Seattle SuperSonics)Source: Basketball-Reference.com Hawks675157.3131.8 Celtics6720521.8491.7 Heat293149.139.4 Raptors2200.00.0 Warriors676210.4133.7 Suns499266.1173.5 FRANCHISESEASONSPLAYERS W/ RET. JERSEYSCAREERWITH FRANCHISE Hornets1315.81.4 Trail Blazers4710181.0135.5 Bulls514153.2143.8 Bucks498313.6150.7 Pelicans29113.34.9 Rockets505224.7144.8 Pistons679252.2206.6
OSU then-sophomore guard Kelsey Mitchell (3) goes up for a shot during a game against Northwestern on Jan. 28 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Lantern file photoOhio State junior guard Kelsey Mitchell is already one of the best players in women’s college basketball. But even she has room to grow.OSU coach Kevin McGuff pushed Mitchell to enroll in a leadership course this semester. Assuming a leadership role is new to the Cincinnati, Ohio, native.“I’m not one of those people that likes to tell people what to do, but coach McGuff has put me in that role,” Mitchell said. “I think that class has helped me become more vocal. I’m a little bit more outgoing.”Mitchell said she now has made it her goal to become more of a leader for the Buckeyes. McGuff has already seen improvements.“She’s talking more, she’s more engaged,” McGuff said. “She’s obviously a great kid, one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around, and she’s a fierce competitor. But she’s also got a really good feel for the game, and I think that you see her sharing that more with her teammates.”Out of Princeton High School near Cincinnati, Mitchell was a consensus five-star prospect and was considered by some as the No. 1 overall prospect in her class. She was the 2014 Gatorade Player of the Year in Ohio and was a finalist for the Naismith Girls’ High School Player of the Year award.Mitchell immediately found success at OSU. She was the unanimous Big Ten Freshman of the Year after becoming the first-ever freshman to lead the country in scoring at 24.9 points per game. Her 873 total points on the year set a school and Big Ten record, and she set NCAA records for most three-pointers in a season (127) and most consecutive games with a three-pointer (35).The guard didn’t slow down in her sophomore season. She broke her own school record for points in a season with 889 and scored the most points in a single game in OSU history with a 48-point performance against Michigan State on Feb. 27. She was a consensus All-American and finalist for several national awards, including Naismith Player of the Year.Mitchell now sits at 1,762 career points. She’s on pace to chase down former OSU forward Jantel Lavender (2,818 points) for the all-time school scoring record. With 253 made three-point field goals, Mitchell needs just 18 to surpass former guard Caity Matter for the OSU record.Mitchell’s accomplishments in her two years at OSU have led McGuff to believe that she is the best player he has ever coached.“She’s really special,” McGuff said. “She can really, really play and we’re really fortunate to have her here.”OSU junior guard Alexa Hart also believes Mitchell is a fantastic teammate, and has incredible basketball ability. For Hart, it’s the dedication that Mitchell brings to the game that puts her above the rest.“She comes in the gym when no one else is in the gym and just works hard,” Hart said. “She comes in any time of the day, whenever she can, and works out.”Mitchell is on her way to becoming one of best guards ever to come out of Ohio State, but that’s not something she thinks about too much.“I’m not really into that. I just come to the court, play and go to school,” Mitchell said. “There are so many great players that came through Ohio State, so to even be a part of that conversation is something that I’m really, really grateful for.”
Senior libero Valeria Leon goes through her service routine during a match against Nebraska at St. John Arena on Oct. 14. Credit: Jenna Leinasars | Assistant News DirectorNearly 15 years ago, 7-year-old Valeria León and her older sister, Karina, were on their way to volleyball practice in their hometown of Ponce, Puerto Rico. León’s grandfather took them to practice, as he did every day. León started to develop a passion for the sport of volleyball, and she began to sleep with her volleyball at night. She had no idea she’d be holding a place in Ohio State history just a handful of years later.Last week, senior libero León grabbed the title for most career digs in the women’s volleyball program during a match against Michigan State, but her journey to the top hasn’t always been easy. In fact, it’s been her against the world in many cases.León’s love for volleyball continued into high school at Colegio Sagrado Corazón De Jesús, where she was recruited by OSU coach Geoff Carlston. He said she stood out to him for a lot of reasons, but it was her determination that won him over.“She made hard stuff look easy and easy stuff look easy, but really I gravitated to her competitive aura and how she played the game,” he said. Coming to the United States for college wasn’t León’s first choice, but she said her mother wholeheartedly believed in her talent as a player and encouraged her to give it a try. “My mom used to tell me, ‘Just try it and if you don’t like it, I’ll be the first one to buy you a ticket to come back,’” León said. On her official visit to OSU, she immediately committed. She said she was blown away by the campus’ atmosphere. “I had other options, but I felt like Ohio State – it was the perfect one for me,” she said. At the time, León spoke little English, being a native Spanish speaker back in her Puerto Rican home. Everything was different in this new environment – communicating, learning and even some aspects of the game she had come to love were different. “I was dealing with so many outside things, like the language,” she said. “I had to go to tutoring for like eight hours every day because I couldn’t do the homework by myself.”Her team remembers it well. Being homesick while at college is one thing, but being homesick when your home is in another country is another. “She missed her family a lot. She missed home a lot. We all did, but it was different – she was in a completely new environment,” said senior middle blocker Kylie Randall. The team tried to support León in any way it could. Teammates walked her to classes, ordered food for her and took care of her like a sister, even though she had only been part of the OSU volleyball family for a short time.León could have given up and went back home where things were more familiar and comfortable, but she said when she finally decided to stick with it, she was thinking about more than just herself. “I had people behind me. They were excited and believed in me every single day, so I thought not giving up would make them proud,” she said. “People like my parents and my grandpa – he would go and drive me every single day to practice, and he never asked me for anything in return.”León also had her Buckeye family to rely on. Senior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe said she, Randall and fellow freshman Maggie Heim spent nearly every weekend with León during that first year, and they were able to bond outside of St. John Arena. Through the constant support of those close to her, León stayed with the program, and with time, she developed into one of the team’s strongest assets and a powerful leader. “She made it a point to make sure her voice was heard, even if she couldn’t say what she wanted to say,” Sandbothe said. Carlston said that, from a coach’s perspective, León is what holds the rest of his team together. “She does the maintenance. (She’s) the glue,” he said. “She does a lot of things for us.” León’s journey soared to a new level on Oct. 22 of this year when she broke the 12-year-standing record for most career digs in OSU women’s volleyball history with 1,586, a record set by National Player of Year Stacey Gordon. She said to see herself come this far is something she would never have dreamed of. “When you sign here and come here, you never think about stuff like that (breaking records),” she said. “Those are maybe goals or dreams someone has, but it won’t actually happen.” Grabbing the title was even more sweet for León because her family in Puerto Rico was able to see her do it. “What really hits me the most is that in that game (against Michigan State), my family was together back home watching. Bringing my family together is something really special for me,” she said. León’s mom and dad are able to come to the U.S. three or four times a year to watch her play. When they can’t, they watch her games online along with the rest of her extended family – which, she said, could be up to 25 people at one time. León isn’t the only Buckeye receiving international support. Freshman outside hitter Bia Franklin hails from Rio de Janeiro. León said she shares a special connection with Franklin because when she looks at her, she is able to see herself three years ago. “I love talking to her and telling her my story because, for me, it’s really important that she stays here and doesn’t give up,” León said. León’s team said that she is an inspiration to everyone she touches, and her journey has transformed her into not only a stronger volleyball player, but a stronger individual. Sandbothe said, “Seeing her accomplish these kinds of things … makes me trust in the journey and trust in the process and know that if you have people in your corner, you really can do anything.”León said she wants to see other players learn from her story. Carlston attributes that quality to her selfless and humble personality.“For me, it’s really important once I leave, I want (the underclassmen) to know how Buckeye volleyball does it,” León said. When her days donning the Buckeyes’ libero jersey are over, León hopes to keep playing the game she loves – but closer to those who inspired her to push through tough times. “One of the reasons why I want to play professional is my other family members who haven’t gotten the opportunity to watch me play,” she said. “They can watch me play (in Ponce), especially like my grandpa, he means the world to me.” There’s one thing Sandbothe said she has taken away from knowing León, and it’s the belief in achieving the seemingly impossible.“Someone who can have so many things against them and just being in really low points where you didn’t know if you could see the light or when it was going to get better, and she never gave up,” she said.
Then-senior guard Aaron Craft attempts a layup during a game against Nebraska March 14 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. OSU won, 71-67. Lantern file photoAs the dust from the NBA Finals has settled, basketball fans have turned their attention to the much anticipated 2014 NBA Draft, and even more so, free agency.For basketball fans in the state of Ohio, two names will be watched closely: LeBron James and, for those in Columbus, Aaron Craft.James, who according to multiple reports will exercise his early termination clause with the Miami Heat, has Cleveland fans buzzing about the thought of seeing “the King” return to his home state and to the team that drafted him in 2003.The Cavaliers have been building, and tearing down at times, their team since James took his talents to South Beach, but with key pieces in place such as Kyrie Irving and Anthony Bennett (just kidding) along with the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s draft, Cavs fans can only dream for now.If James was to return to Cleveland, it would be the best move he will have ever made in his career.During his four seasons in Miami, James has been largely the victim of ridicule for how he left the Cavs in the summer of 2010, and rightfully so. As a Cleveland fan on vacation in Florida at the time of “The Decision,” I sat and watched Florida basketball fans celebrate in the lobby of my hotel. I sunk in my chair as all hope of bringing a championship to Cleveland was washed away in the Florida sun.Now, James can fix the broken bridges between he and Cavs fans if he makes his triumphant return home to a city which has not won a major championship since 1964. If in fact he does return, it will be to a better roster than the one he left back in 2010.Which brings me to Aaron Craft. How you may ask? Simple.While discussing sports at a summer job, a co-worker of mine and a fellow Ohio State student brought the following comparison to my attention.Remember James’ old teammate on the 2007 Cavs Finals team, Eric Snow? If you look closely at the similarities between Snow and Craft, you will see where I am going.Snow, a Michigan State grad out of Canton McKinley high school in Canton, Ohio, played four seasons in college, just as Craft did. Both Craft and Snow also put up comparable numbers in their college careers.Craft, who averaged 32.6 minutes per game in his college career also averaged just 8.9 points per game. How does that stack up to Snow? Snow played in just 25.2 minutes per game and averaged 5.9 points per game as a Spartan.While neither Craft nor Snow was a particularly good outside shooter, each shot around 50 percent in their careers. Craft finishing his career with a 45.9 percent career field goal percentage while Snow shot 52.1 percent.However, with every pro there is a con and with every similarity, there is a difference.Craft was clearly the better defender of the two, as he averaged 2.45 steals per game during his time at OSU, while Snow averaged just 1.3 in his time as a Spartan.In terms of passing, Snow was clearly better, however, as he averaged 5.3 assists per game including 7.8 his senior season. Craft never averaged more than five assists per game in a season.So what am I trying to say? Someone needs to take a chance on Craft.If Snow can get drafted (43rd overall) and have a 13-year playing career with three teams – the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and the Cavaliers – Craft can as well. The former Buckeye may not be the fastest, strongest or most athletic guy on the floor, but there is no one in this upcoming draft who will give you more effort than Aaron Craft.Enjoy Thursday’s draft and free agency season Ohio basketball fans, it could very well be a memorable one.
Sophomore Kyle Skinner gets ready to serve the ball against George Mason at the game on Jan. 18 at St. John Arena in Columbus. Credit: Ethan Clewell | Senior Reporter.After losing two straight matches without winning a set, having to face the No. 1 team in the country on their home court is not the best way to end a losing streak. The struggling Buckeyes (4-8) were able to keep sets close early, but couldn’t gain enough momentum to get back in the match as No.1 Long Beach State (12-0) cruised to a victory in three sets, 25-19, 25-18, 25-21. The Buckeyes took their first lead of the match in the third set after an attack error by Long Beach State gave them a 4-3 lead. Back-to-back aces by junior libero Chase Moothart bookended a three-point run that brought the Buckeyes over the 20-point threshold for the first time in the match. But a kill by senior outside hitter TJ DeFalco and an Ohio State service error closed out the third set, 25-21, handing the Buckeyes their third-consecutive straight-set loss. Ohio State was unable to establish a rhythm on offense in large part due to errors. The Buckeyes committed 33 errors on the night, 19 service and 14 attack, while the Beach had only 24, 16 service and 8 attack. Though the Buckeyes tallied 30 kills on the night, the 14 errors on 61 attacks limited them to a .250 hitting percentage. Freshman libero Parker Mikesch had 26 assists and two digs as he continues his campaign as the Buckeyes full-time setter while senior Sanil Thomas is injured. Freshman outside hitter Sean Ryan provided 10 kills for Ohio State, helping to fill in as a point finisher for the Buckeyes in the midst of sophomore opposite hitter Jake Hanes’ absence due to injury. Ryan got off to a hot start in the first set with two kills, helping the Buckeyes keep pace with the Beach. But a kill by senior opposite hitter Kyle Ensing and an attack error by Ryan gave Long Beach State a 4-2 lead, which they would stretch to as many as seven points en route to a 25-19 first set victory. Ensing and DeFalco combined for 21 kills, five digs, and an ace, leading the team to a .475 hitting percentage. Both teams had their share of success from the service stripe, as the Buckeyes totalled three and the Beach came up with five. After a close start to the second set, Long Beach used four Buckeye errors and an ace by redshirt senior middle blocker Nick Amado for five straight-points, taking a 16-9 lead. Though Ryan contributed five kills and sophomore libero Luke Meidel added an ace, Long Beach State used kills by Ensing and senior setter Josh Tuaniga to close out the set, 25-18. Ohio State returns to conference play against Lindenwood at 8 p.m. on Friday in Saint Charles, Missouri.
Former Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic shared his theory on why Jose Mourinho failed to bring out the best out of Paul Pogba at United.Ibrahimovic believes Mourinho’s failure to give Pogba confidence was the reason for the breakdown in their relationship during their time together at United.The former Chelsea manager was sacked last month and Pogba has since produced some of his best football in a United shirt since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed as caretaker manager, scoring five goals and assisting four more in the six matches he has played under the Norwegian.When asked about what changed, Ibrahimovic claimed Pogba is the type of footballer who goes beyond tactical organization and balance and needs to be “free.”Solskjaer praises Harry Maguire after Man United’s 1-0 win Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer singled out Harry Maguire for praise after helping Manchester United keep a clean sheet in their 1-0 win over Leicester City.“There are these players that need to be free, they need to feel free to do what they are able to do under the disciple of the coach,” Ibrahimovic told ESPN FC.“Obviously, he has his tactics, he has that, but some players they go above these limits, and you need to let them be free, and I think Paul is one of them.”“Paul didn’t feel confidence from the coach [Mourinho], and the coach didn’t feel confident for Paul.”“It’s difficult to perform as a player if you don’t have confidence from the coach and you don’t have that energy, that motivation, and Jose felt the same thing about Paul.”
Bangalore’s Khalin Joshi shot a course record of nine-under 63 on the final day to register a sensational come-from-behind victory at the PGTI Ahmedabad Masters golf championship on Friday.