Who will rule the West? Has the game of thrones begun in the NBA? Will the King be able to rule over the NBA after this season? I ask these questions because I have a funny feeling the results that all the analysts have demised since the most recent trade of Carmelo Anthony is wrong. People have criticized Kyrie Irving for wanting to be traded from the Cavaliers and LeBron James. Many think the acquisition of Carmelo Anthony will not have a huge impact on Golden State. I beg to differ, I believe there will be new leaders of the NBA after this season.

I am going to say this right now OKC Thunder will dethrone the Golden State Warriors.  People are not giving the acquisition of Melo the respect it deserves, regardless of what ESPN has ranked Melo he is still one of the top 30 players in the league. His peers know he is a matchup problem and virtually unstoppable once he gets it going. Does Melo have something to prove and the answer is yes. He has been disrespected all year first by Phil Jackson and the Knicks; by fans and by ESPN. He can say it does not bother him but he will come out with a vengeance. People will argue he cannot stop Kevin Durant but Kevin Durant cannot stop him either. If KD tries to guard him in the post this will wear on KD and affect his offense. Now people will say Draymond Green can guard Melo, Draymond has a temper and has been labeled as a dirty player. Melo will get him in foul trouble easily.

Paul George is one of the best two players in the league and another year past the horrible injury. PG has something prove this is a contract year, PG will be able to concentrate on defensive more because he does not have to carry a huge offensive load. PG shooting percentage will increase, he will not have to face double teams and other defensive schemes. PG will probably have one of the most enjoyable seasons of career up until this point, there will be no pressure on him.

Russell Westbrook, we all know Westbrook is a beast. The man plays full throttle the entire game and he did this an entire season. You saw how bad he wanted to be the Warriors last season, now he has the help he needs to accomplish this task. Westbrook can save some of his energy just for the Warriors. After Kevin Durant’s most recent comments about the Thunder and Billy Donovan, he reignited that fire that led Westbrook to average a triple-double, not mention Billy Donovan also has something to prove.

Whoever reading this may think I have lost my mind but let’s wait and see. Beating the Warriors may come down to bench performance but there is one factor that does not show up in the stat sheets or analytics. They are heart, will, and the desire to shut your nay-sayers up.

Again, we have the Ball family in the news, by the way, it is a good thing, but this time the controversy is surrounding the baby Ball, Lamelo. Lamelo has come out with his own shoe because he has his own shoe he may be prohibited from playing NCAA basketball. According to NCAA rules, the use of a player’s name or image to advertise or promote a product is strictly forbidden.

First, Lamelo has two more years of high school before he will be in college, therefore if he stops promoting his shoe before then is he still ineligible? If his father owned a hardware store that’s named the Balls and an image of the entire family was on the front of the store would he still be ineligible? How can you penalize a person for profiting off the work he has done? If he was a painter would they stop him from selling his art?

Secondly, the NCAA are hypocrites, everyone is profiting off the athlete’s likeness and name except the athlete. Many of the schools have a deal with shoe companies, the NCAA television deal is based off the players, every NCAA commercial highlights the players, and they sell merchandise related to the player. So, the NCAA is saying we are only allowed to profit from your ability and we do not want to share any of that revenue with you.

Once again, Lava Ball is disrupting the natural order of doing business, he has empowered himself and his children. They are not employees they are owners and this way of thinking has infuriated the so-called businessmen because if the Ball family is successful this will forever change the way business is done surrounding the game of basketball. People and corporations make money off basketball players at all levels, Lava Ball recognized this early and decide if anyone is going to benefit from his sons’ talent it will be his family. Somehow people are convinced this mindset is wrong, professional athletes are so happy being an employee they cannot support the Ball efforts.

My prediction is that Lamelo Ball will not be eligible to play college basketball because the NCAA needs the Ball family to fail. Based on this happening I am going to make another prediction, there will be another basketball league created in America that will allow players to play straight out of High School. The new league will be back by Chinese businessmen and a player with strong ties to the Chinese business community, such as Dwayne Wade or Stephon Marbury will be the catalyst for the new league.

Is the Big 3 the next big thing? Will the NBA get involved in the Big 3? How will the success of the Big 3 affect the game of basketball? Will Ice Cube remains a major part of the Big 3 league? The Big 3 basketball league just completed its inaugural season and needless to say it was a success. Ice Cube and the other people involved created an appealing commodity, having the games travel city to city was ingenious. This format allowed the games to become the main attraction in each city.

We know the game of basketball has become a global sport and the NBA has been working hard to expand the game with regards to the games lasting well into the summer. The NBA summer league is becoming more successful each year. Ticket sales have increased for summer league games, more of the current NBA stars are attending games. By the stars attending the games, this gives the fans more incentive to attend summer league. The NBA pre-season starts in October and the summer league ends in July, this leaves just two months without professional basketball. The Big 3 goes to the end of August. What if the Big 3 was played during the months of August and September, this would allow fans to watch highly competitive games all year round. The Big 3 had all this success without the help of the NBA, if the NBA would help promote the Big 3 league the success would skyrocket. In my opinion, it would be wise for the NBA to get involved.

Just imagine how more much success the Big 3 league would have if the NBA got involved and if more of the more well-known retired NBA players got involved. If Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rasheed Wallace, and Tim Duncan were to play in the league I believe every game would be sold out to watch them play. After the Big 3 championship, the Big 3 can put together an all-star team and the Big 3 all-star team play pre-season games against NBA teams. Doing this will benefit all parties because there are several players in the Big 3 league that can contribute to an NBA team. The NBA for some reason have decided that these players are too old to play in the NBA, but after watching the Big 3 games one can see that players like DeShawn Stevenson, Stephen Jackson, Rashard Lewis and Ricky Davis can still be viable players in the NBA. NBA teams may find that veteran leadership they need to carry their team farther into the post season.

Ice Cube has found a diamond my only fear is if the NBA does get involved will they find a way to push Ice Cube out or limit his involvement. The Big 3 will be bigger than the G league because the Big 3 can provide household names to attract views. Is the Big 3 the next big thing, yes it is and it can only get bigger.

What is a professional athlete’s social responsibility? How does this social responsibility affect his or her career? Does their social responsibility affect their choice of teams to play for?

I ask these questions because recently we have seen LeBron James make comments concerning the state of the country and the impact it is having on the community. Kevin Durant has made disparaging comments about Donald Trump, which he states he will not go to the White House if invited. We have seen Carmelo Anthony marching with the citizens of Baltimore protesting the situation surrounding Freddie Gray.

In light of the Colin Kaepernick situation, Colin is currently unemployed because of his stance against injustice. I am not saying the same type of black balling of players will happen in the NBA based on the player’s position or activism regarding social issues but how does it affect their career decisions. Will a player not sign with a certain team if the owner has different political or social views? For example, Dan Gilbert the Cleveland Cavaliers owner is a Donald Trump support and LeBron James was a Hilary Clinton supporter. LeBron has express disapproval of how Trump is handling certain issues. Can LeBron work for someone who has a different view point on matters that affect his community? Can Dan Gilbert employ a player who speaks out loud against people or policies he may support?

The professional sports leagues always want players to be role models, they even have morality clauses put in some players contracts. Do owners expect players to appear as role models in the situation they deem acceptable? Most players are role models or heroes to the people for the areas they grew up in, therefore shouldn’t the concerns of these people take precedence?  A professional athlete’s popularity does not last long, will he or she use their platform to pacify many or help those in need?

 

We are all well aware of the situation regarding Colin Kaepernick but was refreshing was Mark Cuban statement. Mark Cuban stated he encourages players to exercise their constitutional rights. There are many people who believe that athletes should not be activist or involve themselves in political issues. Some people have these beliefs but one has to remember they are still considered Black or African-American athletes. This clearly indicates they are Black first before they became professional athletes they were Black after they retire they will still be Black. Because someone is rich and famous does not absolve them from being Black.

The mind set of some people is that athletes are rich and famous, therefore they do not experience life as other black people. That statement itself is troubling, people are suggesting because a person has reached a certain level of success he or she should not be concerned about the rest of the people who look like them. LeBron James may arguably the most famous professional Black athlete in the world today but some still wrote the “N” word on his property. Just think for a minute how cruel and confusing this world is, you are a person who has millions of people of all races wearing your jersey, your sneakers, wanting your autograph or wanting a picture of you. Then one person can destroy all the love you received from these fans by calling you the “N” word. How do you explain this to your children, how do you explain to your children that you are remaining quiet about issues concerning the black community?

People need to remember these athletes may reside in nice neighborhoods but they could not move their entire family into these neighborhoods and all their family members are not recognizable.  I say they are not recognizable because having a famous nephew does not mean people will know this and treat you with the respect you deserve. How many people know what Dwayne Wade’s cousin looks like, so if his cousin is mistreated based on his race should Dwayne Wade remain silent. How do you have a platform and your family members, people you grew up with and friends are experiencing harsh racism and you not say anything?

Athletes should not have to choose between standing up for what they believe in or a pay check. Black athletes are more than accountable to the team and fans, they have family and their community to think of. Without family and their community they may not be the professional they are today. In my opinion, every person regardless of race needs to work to move their community further.

I am sure everyone has read and have their opinions about Kyrie Irving requesting a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers. No one is admitting who and why this information was leaked but it is obvious who leaked this information has an agenda and I for one would like to know what that agenda is. Regardless of the agenda, I have noticed Kyrie has been receiving some criticism for making this request.

People have asked the question why Kyrie would want to leave a team they can potentially compete for an NBA championship every year. Others believe Kyrie is on an ego trip and just wants to be the main player on a team and does not care about winning. First I disagree if was just about being the main player on a team he would not have listed San Antonio or Minnesota as destination he would like to be traded to.

Believe it or not winning is not the most important thing to some people, maybe being happy is more important. Maybe Kyrie thought winning would make him happy or allow him to tolerate certain things. In my opinion winning championships became part of the measuring stick of a great player with the success of Michael Jordan. Jordan six rings make him the standard in the modern NBA but are Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson and John Stockton not great players because did not win championships. Would Scottie Pippen be 1 of the 50 greatest players if he wasn’t on those Jordan championship teams? Did Kevin Durant join Golden State just to win a championship or did he like the way they play the game? People consider Kobe Bryant to be one step under Jordan, people always refer to Kobe’s five rings but people forget Kobe was in the passenger seat for three of the rings. Winning championship does not define how great a player is, many of the best to ever play the game has not won a championship or may have just won one championship.

What I have recently learned is that money, fame or recognition is not always the best thing in life. For many people the best thing in life is happiness and the pursuit of happiness can make you happy. If Kyrie is making a mistake by leaving Cleveland so be it but a true fan would support him no matter what decision he makes about his career. As far as him being a fool for wanting to leave, only a fool would put what another man deems great over his own happiness.

The NBA is one of the most exciting and successful sports today. The NBA has generated many stars, some who have continued to be celebrities and household names after their playing career has ended. When a player becomes a star in the NBA the player gets endorsement deals, fans wear his jersey, and people line up for an autograph. The player is on top of the world, former players such as Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley have managed to retain their celebrity status. These players are good for the NBA because fans have developed a long term relationship with these players, children who are now adults associate some of the fondest memories with these players. But never every player career follows the path of Jordan or Shaq.

There are many players who after their playing days have ended chose to remain recluse, such as Tim Duncan, Karl Malone, John Stockton and Antonio McDyess. These players have decided to remove themselves from the limelight and spent much of their time with their families. My concern is not the players who choose to avoid the limelight but the players who were pushed out of the limelight. In my opinion, many of the players who were pushed out of the limelight were done so by the NBA. When the player is a top of his game the NBA will parade the player out front, the NBA will do everything they can to ensure that player jersey is selling. The abandonment of the player is not entirely the NBA’s fault, most of the time the NBA is following the lead of the fans. I do not understand how fans can love a player one day and then hate the player the next day.

Remember when players like Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, Terrell Brandon, J.R. Rider, Steve Francis and Antione Walker were revered. At one point in their careers, these players were popular and then all of sudden they disappear. In my opinion, these players did not receive their exit out of the NBA that they deserved. I started thinking about this because I see the same thing happening to Carmelo Anthony, fans on social media are being very harsh concerning Melo. All the negative comments about his game is a little frustrating because these fans have no loyalty, he is the same players when the Knicks were atop of the Eastern Conference and the Knicks won 52 games that season. During that winning season, these fans did not have negative comments about his game then so why now. Melo is still a top 25 player in the league, a lethal scorer, and respected by his peers. I understand as players get older they may not be as productive on the court but players like Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade deserve to end their careers with respect and appreciation.

I guess I want fans not to be so fickle, these players have provided years of excitement and entertainment. They deserved to be celebrated throughout their entire career. Just imagine you at work and your boss no longer appreciates the work and the effort you put it work. How would you feel? For me once a great player always a great player

It is the Month of July and NBA free agency has started. With start of free agency some of your favorite players maybe going to a different team, players will be traded and players will be getting contracts worth astronomical amounts of money. Well, that is the perception associated with NBA contracts.

As of today, Stephen Curry has been offered an NBA contract worth over $200 million for five years. Most people will say this a lot of money to play the game of basketball. I would agree this is a lot of money but there is a general agreement Stephen is worth this money. One has to consider the excitement, ticket sales, wins and championships that he brings to the organizations. People will debate whether or not other players deserve the amount of money they are being paid. I say it does not matter someone is willing to pay them.

My point to all this is to say how much do the owners make each season? Players’ salaries are listed everywhere, it is very easy to see how much each player makes and the length of their contract. I have done some reach but I am unable to find any recent information on how much the owners make each season from the NBA. I am not saying the information is not out there but I know this information is not easily accessible. If an owner is willing to pay out $100 million in salary each year and some pay more than that plus luxury tax one has to wonder how much are they making in profit. Being an NBA owner has to be lucrative because the return on investment is good, it is an exclusive club and people are lining up to become an owner.

I say all of this to say instead of judging how much a player makes and how much a player deserves to make we should be looking at it as there are no losers in the NBA. The NBA has become in my opinion the most popular American professional sports league, unlike other sports professional basketball players are recognized around the world. The money associated with the sport is secondary to the entertainment. For the players get your money and as Cuba Gooding Jr. said in Jerry Maguire “Show Me the Money.”

The NBA is currently looking into implementing a minor league system like the MLB.  High School players would be able to go straight to the NBA Development League until they are ready to go to the NBA. I happen to be on the fence when it comes to this subject, I believe the NBA and the NCAA can work together to come up with a better solution.

College basketball is big business, there is large amount of money invested and made off of college basketball. Players going to the NDBL out of high school will have a negative effect on college basketball. The money that colleges get from their basketball teams does not only benefit the athletic program, therefore other students will feel the effects of a rule change like this.

The argument for a minor league approach is that many players are only spending one year in college and the schools are making money off the players. Some players are in need of the financial support. I support the athletes receiving stipends for attending the schools and playing basketball. The schools should provide the stipends based on a sliding scale, players who are ranked higher coming out of high school should receive the highest amount. Schools who cannot afford to provide a stipend may not be able to attract the up level player but the upper level player most likely was not considering that school anyway. By paying the athletes this may eliminate the need to go pro based on financial needs.

The other rule I believe that should be put in place is to allow college players to return to school in he or she goes undrafted. The Should stands now if a players does not remove his name from the draft before the draft takes place he loses his eligibility. By allowing the undrafted player to return to school the player and the school will benefit. As long as the players has not signed with an agent or has signed any endorsement deals the player should be able to return to school and play.

I understand that sports whether college or professional is a business but the focus should be on what is best for the player. People have to remember in most cases these are kids we are talking about, life altering decision are tough for someone who is in their 40’s so imagine how tough it is for an 18 year old.

Michael Jordan is considered by most to be the greatest basketball player of all time. The question comes up who is numbers two. Recently, Magic Johnson was mention but I am not going to address the Magic issue. The argument that I mostly hear about is it LeBron or Kobe? Let me preference this by stating I am not a fan of either player, I respect both of their games and what they have accomplished in the game and for the game of basketball.

When I look at LeBron and Kobe’s career up until this point I would have to give the nod to LeBron. First LeBron career is not over so for this to be a debate means that LeBron has accomplished enough up until this point to be even consider number two. Where Kobe has an edge on LeBron is his competitiveness. Kobe is an assassin, he will do anything in his power to win and he always well prepared for the game. LeBron has been to 8 finals with 7 of them being consecutive, this is a great feat in itself, I know he has lost more than he has won but regardless finals with three different teams is outstanding. I say three different teams because the first Cavaliers team was completely different. The argument people will make on Kobe’s behalf is that Kobe has 5 rings and LeBron only has three. But people quickly forget Kobe was not the leader of the Lakers for the first three championships, Shaq was the MVP of those teams. For the first two championships seasons Kobe did not make the All-NBA first team. Kobe was Robin to Shaq’s Batman. This maybe a hard pill for Kobe fans to swallow but fact are facts. LeBron was the leader on all his teams, even in Miami Wade turned over the leadership role to LeBron.

Now I am not saying LeBron is the second greatest player of all-time, what I am saying is in my opinion he should be ahead of Kobe on the list. The Magic Johnson argument I will address at a later time if needed. I believe for a player’s name to mention as the second greatest players of all-time means the player has exceed his goals.