Nova Wildcats just won the NCAA championship for the second time in three years, the city of Philadelphia is going wild. An NCAA championship and the Super Bowl in the same year, and Charles Barkley just boldly predicted the 76ers will win the NBA championship. Although, he may just be slightly joking there is always a possibility. But this post is not the success of Philly, it is about the Big East Conference.

When I was younger the Big East Conference was one of if not the best conference in college basketball. Remember Georgetown with Patrick Ewing, Reggie Jackson, David Wingate and Michael Graham, St. Johns with Chris Mullins, Mark Jackson, Walter Berry, and Boo Harvey. Syracuse Derrick Coleman, Billy Owens, Sherman Douglass, and Pearl Washington. Pittsburgh Jerome Lane, Charles Smith, and Brandin Knight. Boston College Michael Adams, Dana Barros, and Bill Curly. Providence Rick Pitino, Billy Donovan, Otis Thorpe, Erick Murdock and Eric Williams. Villanova Ed Pickney, Dwayne McClain, Gary McLain, Harold Pressley, and Stewart Granger. Seton Hall John Morton, Mark Bryant, Terry Dehere, and Adrian Griffin. UConn Cliff Robinson, Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, and Khalid El-Amin. These are just some of the great college basketball players for yesteryears of the Big East Conference. During the 80s college basketball was more exciting than pro basketball in my opinion, there were epic battles involving Big East teams. Georgetown versus Villanova 1985, Georgetown versus Syracuse 1986, Syracuse versus Michigan 1988, and St. Johns versus Georgetown 1985. The reason I am reminiscing over the Big East is that many of the former teams have left the conference, by leaving the conference the Big East has shuffled schools in and out for the last few years and this, in my opinion, has hurt the standing of the Big East with regards to dominating conferences. The teams that left claim the conferences they were joining were better conferences for football, that is fine, but it was basketball that made these schools popular. The lack of dominance has hurt the Big East teams as far as recruiting is concerned too. Remember Big East schools would attract top high school basketball players, now they are few and far in between. I know people will say Nova has some top talent, Kemba was at Uconn, and Isaiah Whitehead was at Seton Hall. That fact that we can name them is the problem.

My point to all this is Villanova Wildcats has shown the world the Big East can still be a great conference if teams had the guts to live out the legacy. You will never see North Carolina, Duke, or Wake Forest leave the ACC, that is because those teams understand what was built and what it takes to maintain the success of the conference. I long for those great Big East battles, thank you Villanova Wildcats for showing the rest of NCAA that the Big East can still be great.





Zion Williamson is a High School basketball player from Spartanburg, South Carolina, he is ranked number 2 on the ESPN Top 100 list of High School basketball players. Both of Zion’s parents have athletic backgrounds, his stepfather was a division one basketball player, Zion was born to be an athletic star. Zion was being recruited by all the top college basketball programs, on January 20th he committed to Duke University.

His choice of school for some reason did not sit well with University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari. Coach Cal normally gets more than his fair share of top basketball recruits each year, so I am wondering why losing Zion to Duke was such a problem that he had to comment. Duke sold Zion on the fact they are a family and provide a life for you after college basketball. All this is true if you look at Duke assistant coaches many of them are former players and there many former Duke assistant coaches who are head coaches at other schools. Someone else reminded me that a degree from Duke has a little more prestige. I believe that Zion made a wise choice but being a South Carolina kid myself I would have preferred Zion stay in state.

I was hoping he would go to Clemson, I like to see the top players going to those schools who are not basketball powerhouses. Michael Porter Jr. going to Missouri, Trae Young at Oklahoma, Ben Simmons at LSU, and

at Alabama. In my opinion, going to the others is what legends are made off, but I understand why going to the powerhouses is attractive, it almost guarantees an NBA contract. Choosing the right school has huge implications for a player’s career, the wrong school could hinder your chances of making it to the NBA, so Duke is probably the best option for Zion.

Is Zion going to be that special player? The Michael Jordan or LeBron James, I ask because with the litany of great players Coach Cal is associated with why did losing Zion provoke a comment? However, Zion story ends it will be the way he wrote it.

 





The Ball family has dominated the basketball universe in 2017, so it is only right that I start off 2018 with a post about LaVar Ball. LaVar has had his share of naysayers and haters, some of which is well deserved. I must confess I am a support of the Ball family but there is something I may disagree with. My disagreements with certain actions of LaVar are me just venting because it his life and family to do with he wants.

With regards to the Junior Basketball Association(JBA) that LaVar has stated he will create, people are upset because LaVar stated he will allow top high school basketball players to play in the league instead of going to college for one year. People are concerned because these players will give up the opportunity for a free college education. This is true because once given a scholarship that scholarship is valid for a lifetime, a player can return to college to complete his degree once his professional basketball career is over. The caveat that people are not discussing has LaVar stated the top players, top players consist of 10 to 20 players. That being said; the league will comprise of 80 players, therefore, you have to consider the other 60 to 70 players. No one is thinking about the players who did not get a college scholarship for various reasons, the streetball players, the players who have graduated college and players who did not attend high school. Everyone is only concerned about players that they can profit from, these other players no one cares about and do not offer a pathway to the NBA. Everyone knows that basketball player who you believe is a great player but has never made it. The JBA may give these players a chance to earn money playing the game they love and give the opportunity to showcase their talent to the NBA, G-League and European Professional basketball leagues.

I will admit the LaVar may not have the best business accruements but instead of criticizing his missteps individuals should be offering guidance. LaVar business ideas empower the athlete and allow the athlete to profit or increase profits from their talent.


What happened to the Atlanta Hawks? It wasn’t so long ago the Hawks were one of the elite teams in the NBA. For some time, the Hawks had perennial all-star Joe Johnson along with should have been all-star Josh Smith. After this regime, the Hawks had maybe one of the best team with five good players Kyle Korver, Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap, Al Horford and DeMarre Carroll. Four of the five were all-stars in 2015. Usually, teams on the verge of greatness build on what they have but for some reason, the Hawks went the opposite way.

During the 2014-2015 season, the Hawks finished first in their division, Mike Budenholzer, the coach, was named coach for the East All-Star team and four Hawks players were named to that same All-Star team. The Hawks record that year was 60 wins and 22 loses. The only team who had a better record that season was the Golden State Warriors who went on to win the championship that season. The Warriors build on their success, so why didn’t the Hawks do the same thing?

I am not fortunate enough to have an inside ear on what is going on with the Atlanta Hawks but this has to be a severe case of mismanagement or no understanding of basketball. I know in the beginning of the season the Hawks had to deal with the scandal surrounding their general manager Danny Ferry, eventually, Danny left the organization but this is the same season the Hawks won 60 games. If they are going to blame the downfall on Danny Ferry then Danny is either a great basketball mind and that the reason for the success or the scandal did more damage than we thought and that is the reason for the fall. I believe the reason for the fall is bad management. The team loses DeMarre Carroll, Al Horford, and Paul Millsap in free agency when the Hawks can pay them more than any other team. They trade Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague for nothing. I understand maybe management feels Dennis Schroder is the future point guard for the Hawks and Korver is getting older. In the Teague trade, the Hawks get the 12th pick in the draft, which turns out to be Taurean Prince. Prince is a poor man’s DeMarre Carroll, so they should have resigned Carroll. They traded Korver for Mike Dunleavy and Mo Williams both players are no longer in the league.

The Hawks went from one of the best teams in the league to one of the worst teams in the league in two seasons. The best players now are Dennis Schroder and Kent Bazemore, two players who are not household names and do not sell tickets. I do not hear many NBA comments talking about the downfall of the Hawks. But I was just sitting here wondering WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ATLANTA HAWKS?

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.

The era of the one and done in college basketball is in full bloom. The NCAA and the NBA implemented the rule where players coming out of high school had to be 19years of age and one year removed from high school. They did this to stop the influx of high school players entering the NBA draft, some high school players were not ready for the NBA and by entering the draft they now lost the opportunity to play college basketball. This rule would also help college basketball because the talented players would have to at least play a year of college basketball.

Personally, I believe this rule has its pros and cons, so I am on the fence when it comes to the rule. The reason I am on the fence is because I believe the rule can be improved upon to make it better for all parties involved but I will further address this later.

In this year NBA draft, there is a possibly that the first ten players selected maybe freshmen college players and more than half of the first round selection maybe freshmen players. Would any of them be first round picks if they came straight from high school? When you look at the mock draft all of them have Markell Fultz as the number one pick but when he was coming out of high school he was ranked number seven, according to ESPN 100. Being rank number seven is great but would it have been good enough to be selected in the first round?  Zach Collins from Gonzaga was ranked 37th coming out of high school and he is a potential first pick, he might not have been drafted at all coming of high school. In these case,  a year of college has benefited the players and the schools that they played for but there are also situations such as Harry Giles who was the number one player coming out of high school. Giles maybe a late first pick in this year’s draft, now I will admit his injury has affected his potential draft selection. What if Giles went straight from high school to the NBA would his potential draft selection be higher?

The way the rules are setup now is once a player signs with an agent he can no longer return to school, if he does not withdraw draft entry before a specific date he cannot return to school. These rules I believe can be improved, I would keep the rule if a player signs with agent he is not able to return to school, and instead the player should be able to hire an advisor. The advisor would talk to the NBA teams on behalf of the player and would advise the player if he should remain in the draft. The advisor’s contract with the player would expire on draft night, after draft night the player would be required to sign with a different agency if the advisor is associated with an agency. If a player is drafted in the second round and does not make the team or the team wants the player to play in NBDL, the player should have the opportunity to return to school and play college basketball but the player would lose his scholarship and must pay for school himself. The NBA team who drafted the player would retain the rights to the player. If the player is not drafted he should be able to return to school and retain his athletic scholarship. I believe all parties would benefit from this structure colleges would retain players for more than one year, players would get a chance to play and develop, NBA team would save money and still have the right to the players.

There was a point where I enjoyed college and high school basketball more than professional basketball. The college game seemed more competitive, there was strong conference such as the Big East, ACC, SEC, PAC 10 and Big Ten where all the teams were good and you had no idea who would win the game. Part of me wants college basketball to return to those days, it just seems like the era of the one and done will not allow the competitiveness of college basketball to return.

 

 

A few days ago Lonzo Ball announced his new shoe the ZO2, after the announcement, there have been several complaints on social media about his shoe. Some have complaints have been about the price of the shoe, $495 base price; some have complained about any and everything under the sun. I have noticed many of the attacks on the Ball family and their shoe have been vicious and presented in an angry tone. This got me to thinking what are you mad for?

Many people have stated that they do like LaVar Ball, the father of the basketball playing Ball children. People have stated that LaVar is arrogant, braggadocios, and delusional to name a few things. Personally, I like LaVar because he is entertaining, he loves his kids, he works hard to help his kids and him fulfill their dreams, and family is the most important thing to him. People do not like that he believes his kids are better basketball players than other players who have achieved great success in the NBA. I say those are his children why shouldn’t he believe his children are the best, LaVar knows what their aspirations are and how hard they work to meet their goals. To achieve greatness or to be successful at anything in life it starts with a person believing he or she will be successful. Hence the term “you have to believe to achieve.”   People tend to focus on the outlandish statements that LaVar makes, I focus more on the meaningful statements such as “there are more things to be concerned about that basketball” or ‘I will support my kids regardless of basketball.” Statements like these tell me LaVar has a grip on reality and many of the outlandish statements are showmanship. What are you mad a LaVar for? He wants the best for kids, he believes in kids, he gives everything in order for kids to fulfill their dreams, and he loves his kids. As a parent aren’t you the same when it comes to your children, you may not express it like LaVar does but I would like to believe you are just as supportive.

Regards to Lonzo Ball, people on social media are stating Lonzo is overrated, he does not deserve a shoe, he has not proven anything yet, and he is going to be a failure in the NBA. The first thing I would like to say to these people is Lonzo was one of the top players coming out of high schools, he is one of the top college players, and he will be a top-five pick in the upcoming NBA draft. A person does not have these accomplishments and be considered overrated, Lonzo has proven himself on every level. I do not know how successful he will be in the NBA but nobody knows how successful any player is going to be at the next level. To be successful in the NBA it takes a combination of talent and willpower, so far Lonzo has displayed both. There are people who believe the hype surrounding Lonzo is because of the attention his father has gained with his comments. These people have to remember the reason his father was able to make these statements for the world to hear was because Lonzo was playing great on the college level. Lonzo play put his father and family in the spotlight. Lonzo Ball is a kid trying to live out his dream, a dream that he has worked hard to make come true. If you are a person rooting against Lonzo or hoping he fails that says a lot about you as a person. Regardless of one’s dislikes for his father, Lonzo is a child, would you want people hoping you child fails at his or her dream. So what are you mad for?

The new shoe ZO2, people are upset about the price of the shoe at $495. Now personally I would not pay this much for a shoe but I would not be mad at someone who does. You have former professional athletes stating the cost of the shoe should be lower but one has to remember the Balls are manufacturing the shoe themselves. We do not know how much it cost the Balls to manufacture a pair of shoes. The Balls do not have access like Nike and Adidas, Nike and Adidas mark their shoes up about 600% no one is complaining about that. People say that why would someone pay that much for a sneaker but people fail to realize people already pay more than that for sneakers stores such as Sneaker Pawn and Stadium Goods have to problem selling sneakers that cost three times the amount of the ZO2. There is a market out there for sneakers in this price range just because you may not be familiar with it does not mean it does not exist. Others will say we know about Air Jordan’s and Michael Jordan is the greatest player to ever play the game of basketball. Does buying his sneakers make you play better, does his sneaker last longer or does his sneaker generate income for you. The answer is no, the difference is the market has accepted the price for Air Jordan’s. Instead of any professional athlete speaking out against the ZO2 every professional and aspiring professional athlete should buy a pair of ZO2s. I say this because this will only improve the professional athlete’s negotiation stance will dealing with a company. The company will know that the athlete no longer has to deal with the major companies to generate income outside their sports and this will force the companies to pay the athletes more for endorsing their products. The more successful ZO2 is the more successful the pro athlete will be off the court or field.

So what are you mad for?

Do great players win a championship or do great teams win championships? I ask this question because most of the comments I have read and conversion I have had people seem to blame the players for the team’s failures. Before we use to hear the debate which teams were better 1989-90 Detroit Pistons, 1995-96 Chicago Bulls or 1984-1985 Los Angeles Lakers. Now the debate surrounds the players, who are the best point guard, who has the better jump shot or who is the better score? The way the game is viewed has changed but players are being blamed because the team does not live up to the expectations of the fans.

There are two players in particular that in my opinion receive too much criticism for their team’s failures, there are Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony.  Chris Paul’s Clippers lost in the first round of the playoffs and Carmelo Anthony’s Knicks did not make the playoffs. Many people are blaming these players for the dismal performance of the teams. I have seen people write that Paul is overrated and Carmelo is overpaid, which I strongly disagree. Basketball is a team sport, no matter how great or good the player is he or she cannot win a championship without being on a good team. Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest player to ever play the game of basketball but he would not have won a championship without being on a great team. Jordan did not win a championship every year, when his team was not great they lost. I think LeBron James has the fans spoiled because he can go from team to team and that team becomes a contender for the championship. What people do not realize is how he and David Griffin, the Cavaliers general manager, are constantly looking at ways to improve the team. LeBron and David do this because they know it takes a great team to win a championship. Kevin Durant knows no matter how great of a player he is he will never win the championship if he is not on a great team and that is why he signed with Golden State.

Back to Paul and Carmelo, both players give their all on the basketball court, people are delusional if they think these players will not do anything to win. Put them in the right situation with the right team and they will win. Are they best players at their position, no but are they among the best and the answer is yes.

The game of basketball is a team sport and always will be a team sport. One individual can impact a team’s future but one player cannot win the championship. Instead of criticizing a player for the team’s failure how about cheering him for his or her efforts. When listening to past champions talk about winning one of the first things they say is that everyone has to perform at their peak, from the front office to the ball boy.  If you believe one player solely determines a championship then you need to be watching tennis.  Now, do you believe great players win a championship or great teams?

Is Big Baller Brand traveling unchartered waters of the NBA? Will Big Baller Brand be successful navigating these waters? Anybody following the game of basketball has heard of the Big Baller Brand or its creator LaVar Ball. LaVar Ball is the father of UCLA freshman sensation and potential top-five NBA lottery pick Lonzo Ball. The LaVar has two other great basketball playing sons who also will be attending UCLA in the near future. LaVar has created his own sports apparel company Big Baller Brand, with the understanding that his son, Lonzo will have endorsement deals laid at his feet LaVar goal is to have one of the major sneaker companies enter into a partnership with Big Baller Brand. He has mentioned a billion dollar deal, this is unlikely but what type deal if any would the Balls be able to get?

LaVar Ball is an outspoken individual, people may take offense to some of his comments but LaVar has created a frenzy of attention for him, his sons, and the Big Baller Brand Company. There are some who may not like LaVar’s comments or LaVar himself but he has been able to get himself and Lonzo on all the major sports television shows. I cannot remember a college player or the player’s parent ever having this much media attention around them, this is great marketing for the Ball family and all their endeavors.

Personally, I believe LaVar attempt to get a partnership deal with one of the major sports apparel or sneaker companies is pure genius. Everyone knows being a top pick in the NBA draft ensures endorsement deals, so why not get a deal that will secure your family’s financial stability for the foreseeable future. Building a successful company may last much longer than the kids pro basketball careers. He may not the billion dollars he mentioned but what will he get? Because companies know that they will have to approach them with an enticing offer. People assume that the Big Baller Brand only represents the Ball children but people have to remember there are two other players with NBA potential associated with Ball family. Suppose LaVar was able to get other top players to become part of the Big Baller Brand Company would this increase the company’s value. The public hears some of these outrageous amounts of money but you have to remember these deals are structured over several years. A billion dollars over a 20 year period is 50 million a year. Is 50 million a year excessive if he can provide five to ten NBA players to represent the brand?

Big Baller Brand is traveling these unchartered waters so it will be interesting to see the outcome. If LaVar is successful in acquiring a deal for his brand, no matter what the amount of the deal, this could change the way endorsements deal are done for all future players in all sports. Just imagine if five of the top ten players projected in this upcoming draft were to create their own sports apparel company, the major companies would have no choice but to enter into a partnership with players.

No matter how you may feel about LaVar Ball if he is successful, sports and endorsement may never be the same. Players in the future will have to thank Big Baller Brand for creating a pathway in these unchartered waters of the NBA.