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It isn’t uncommon for teams that fall a bit short to find fuel for a run the next year. And with North Carolina returning the bulk of a roster that was handled by Kansas in the 2008 Final Four, the Tar Heels weren’t going to let anybody get in the way of winning it all in 2009. One of three national champions to choose from, this team narrowly edges out the 2004-05 team that might have been more Basketball Cheap Jerseys talented overall. These Tar Heels won every game in March by at least 12 points; the closest result was a dozen-point victory over a Blake Griffin-led Oklahoma team in the Elite Eight. That led to wins of 14 and 17 points over Villanova and Michigan State in the Final Four and national championship game, respectively, with Tyler Hansbrough wrapping up a legendary career surrounded by two seniors (Danny Green, Bobby Frasor) and three juniors (Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Deon Thompson). Add in freshmen like Ed Davis and Larry Drew, and this team wasn’t short on options.

5. KANSAS 2007-08
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(Photo: John Biever/Sports Illustrated)
The Jayhawks looked ready for a run in 2006-07, particularly after knocking off defending champ Florida on a neutral court during the season. But Kansas caught the yips in the Elite Eight, missing a number of bunnies as UCLA landed a 13-point win. Julian Wright left early to go pro, but everybody else returned, with the Jayhawks putting together arguably the most underrated champion of the last 20 years—leaving out this year’s incomplete results, KenPom ranks this team as the third-best of the millennium, and the second-best champion. Sure, it took Mario’s Miracle to get the Jayhawks across the finish line against Memphis. More easily forgotten was the 18-point domination of a North Carolina team that had almost all the pieces of its 2008-09 national title winner; that Tar Heel team entered the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed. And it’s worth noting that Kansas emerged atop the only Final Four in history to boast all four No. 1 seeds. The backcourt rotation was tremendous, with Russell Robinson starting next to Mario Chalmers, and Sherron Collins rotating with Robinson. Brandon Rush was an excellent athlete and defender with a sweet shot. Darrell Arthur was a lottery-type talent who only missed the lottery because health rumors surfaced before the draft, while Sasha Kaun had a long pro career. The depth on this team was impressive; senior backup big man Darnell Jackson had an NBA cup of coffee, while Collins and Cole Aldrich would both go on to get their jerseys retired.

4. FLORIDA 2006-07
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(Photo: Streeter Lecka, Getty)
It’s always tougher to repeat, and Florida became the first team since Duke in 1991-92 to pull off the difficult feat. Nobody’s done it since. And while the NBA careers of Florida’s big men in particular provided a glance into how talented this team was, it’s important to note that 1) they were also pretty special in college and 2) however talented Florida was, the Gators were made better because of their terrific chemistry. The previous year had come as somewhat of a surprise, though that team also dominated the NCAA Tournament with just one game decided by single digits. That’s when something rare happened: all five starters returned for another go. Lee Humphrey was a senior; the other four were juniors. And Florida added a freshman in Marreese Speighs who would go on to a long NBA career; for these Gators, he was their No. 4 true big man. Everyone now remembers Joakim Noah and Al Horford, two future NBA All-Stars and All-Defensive Team members, manning the post. Some remember rangy wing Corey Brewer, himself a lottery pick and the Final Four Most Outstanding Player. But Taurean Green and Lee Humphrey were darned near automatic from deep; Humphrey in particular filled the role of long-range gunner—he hit 113-of-246 3-pointers (45.9%) that season while only taking 13 free throws. Add in players like sophomore guard Walter Hodge and senior big man Chris Richard off the bench, and this was a team that defeated every team it played in the tournament by at least eight points.

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RICK ADELMAN [Coach] – Adelman coached in the NBA for more than three decades, compiling an overall head coaching record of 1042-749 (.582). His teams reached the playoffs in 16 of his 23 seasons at the helm and he led the Portland Trail Blazers to two NBA Finals (1990, 1992). Adelman ranks ninth all-time in NBA career wins, including two 60-win seasons and 11 50-win seasons. He reached 200 wins in Cheap Jerseys Basketball just 288 games, a record at the time. Adelman is a three-time NBA All-Star Game head coach (1991, 2001, 2003). He coached several Hall of Fame players including Clyde Drexler, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, Dikembe Mutombo, Chris Mullin and Drazen Petrovic.

CHRIS BOSH [Player] – Bosh is an 11-time NBA All-Star (2006-2016) and a two-time NBA Champion with the Miami Heat (2012, 2013). In 13 NBA seasons, he averaged 19.2 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Drafted by the Toronto Raptors, he was a member of the NBA All-Rookie Team in 2003-2004. As a collegiate athlete at Georgia Tech, Bosh earned ACC Rookie of the Year in 2003. As a high school standout in 2002, Bosh was named Texas Mr. Basketball and a McDonald’s All-American, while leading Lincoln High to a state and national championship with a 40-0 record. On the international stage, Bosh won an Olympic gold medal in 2008.

MICHAEL COOPER [Player] – Cooper is a five-time NBA Champion with the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988) and is best known for his defensive contributions to an offensively gifted team. He earned NBA All-Defensive First Team honors five times (1982, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988) and was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1987. In 1986, he collected the J. Walter Kennedy Citizen Award for outstanding service in his community. He played one season for Virtus Roma, where he received the Italian All-Star Game MVP in 1991. As a collegiate athlete at University of New Mexico, Cooper was named a USBWA First Team All-American.

TIM HARDAWAY [Player] – A 2000 Olympic Gold Medalist, Hardaway played 13 NBA seasons scoring a total of 15,373 points while averaging more than 20 points per game for four consecutive seasons. He is the 1990 recipient of the Jack McMahon Award for most inspirational player and a 1997 All-NBA First Team selection. He currently ranks 18th in NBA history with 7,095 career assists. The Chicago native was a member of the men’s basketball team at the University of Texas at El Paso (1985-1989) and is known for making his signature move – the “UTEP Two-step” – famous in 1989, the same year he was named WAC Player of the Year.

MARQUES JOHNSON [Player] – Johnson is a five-time NBA All-Star (1979-81, 1983, 1986) and a member of the 1978 NBA All-Rookie First Team and the 1979 All-NBA First Team. He was also named the NBA Comeback Player of the Year in 1986. In 11 NBA seasons, he averaged 20.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. As a student-athlete at UCLA under the direction of Hall of Famer John Wooden, Johnson was a member of an NCAA national championship team (1975). In 1977, he was named Pac-8 Player of the Year and the consensus National Collegiate Player of the Year. Johnson has been inducted into the Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame (2013).

PAUL PIERCE [Player] – Pierce is a 10-time NBA All-Star (2002-06, 2008-2012) and 2008 NBA Champion with the Boston Celtics. In 2008, he was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player. After 19 seasons in the NBA, Pierce ranks ninth all-time in free throws made and three-point field goals made, as well as 19th all-time in NBA scoring with 26,397 points. Drafted by the Celtics, Pierce was named a member of the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 1999. As a Kansas Jayhawk, he was a unanimous First Team All-American in 1998. With Inglewood High, Pierce was named California Mr. Basketball and a McDonald’s All-American in 1995. His number 34 is retired by the Boston Celtics and Kansas Jayhawks.

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NEW YORK – The NBA has handed Raptors head coach Nick Nurse a US$50,000 fine for his actions in Toronto’s 115-112 loss to the Utah Jazz on Friday night at Amalie Arena.

Nurse was fined for throwing his face mask behind the scorer’s table and toward the spectator stands, and for directing profanity toward game officials before exiting the court, NBA executive vice-president of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe said Sunday in a release.

“I just hope the money goes to a good cause,” Nurse said in a pre-game availability before Sunday night’s game in Cleveland.

The incident occurred after Pascal Siakam missed a three-point attempt at the buzzer that could have tied the game.

Nurse watched the final play while squatting near the sideline. When the ball rattled around the rim before falling out, Nurse ripped Cheap Basketball Jerseys off his facemask and flung it over the table and towards the boards.

A few people were stationed nearby but fans were not in the area as courtside seats in that section are tarped off.

“Today is a new day and I’ve got to do a better job,” Nurse said. “It’s a difficult job to do (while) wearing a mask (but) I’ve got to do better with it. I certainly respect the protocols and why we’re doing all that stuff.

“It’s just difficult to communicate when you’re wearing a mask in a game that’s got music and fan noise and all kinds of things that you’re trying to do. I’ve just got to do a better job with that.”

The Jazz took 41 free throws, compared with the Raptors’ 14. After the game, Nurse said it “just didn’t seem like they were going to let us win tonight,” without offering specifics.

The 27-shot difference in free throw attempts between the teams was the second largest in the NBA this season, topped by the 28-shot difference Houston had over Golden State on Wednesday.

Entering play Sunday, the Raptors were shooting 4.5 fewer free throws per game than opponents this season, the second-largest disparity in the league. Chicago takes 5.0 fewer per game than its opponents.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2021.

With files from The Associated Press.