Could this be the greatest rookie class ever? I know it is early in the season but most of these rookies are starting to look like they are worth their weight in goals. Normally rookies look at to be work in progress, most teams draft rookies with expectations that it will be a few years before they can become good NBA players.

Most rookies struggle with the speed of the NBA game, the traveling, a number of games each week, length of the season and the minimal amount of time to prepare for a game. All these things are the reason why it takes rookies sometime before they can become consistent contributors. Most fans understand this and are patient with the development of the rookies. There are only so many LeBron James, now speaking of LeBron James his draft class may be one the best NBA Draft classes. 2003 NBA Draft class produced 9 players to appear in an All-Star game, 11 NBA championship winners, and easily 4 Hall of Famers. It will be hard to beat the draft class of 2003 but I think the class that might have the best chance of being just as good or better is the draft class of 2017. Again, I know the season just started but these rookies are playing great basketball, I will admit they are not doing it on a night to night basis, but they are contributing in a major way each game. Lonzo Ball, De ’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, TJ Leaf, Jayson Tatum, Lauri Markkanen, Dennis Smith, Jr, Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, and Sindarius Thornwell have been playing valuable minutes for their teams. These players have been a factor in the success of their teams usually, there are two or three rookies making this type of impact.

Will this draft produce 9 all-stars and 11 NBA championship winners, I do not know, maybe not but I will enjoy watching. This may be the passing of the torch, LeBron, Wade, and Melo are getting older they have to leave the league in the hands of great players and the draft class might be it. The NBA is lucky just as the lights are starting to dim on some of their stars the NBA gets an influx of new bright baby stars.

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.

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?

 

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

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?

My Beloved Knicks

I am a New Yorker at heart, I love all New York teams, Yankees, Giants, Mets, Nets, Jets, Rangers, Islanders but especially the New York Knicks. These past few seasons have been disappointing, but as a  New York Knick fan every summer you believe that the next season will be better.

This season in my opinion has been the worst season in New York Knick history, not terms of wins and loses but the culture of the Knicks is disappointing.

First the debacle with Charles Oakley, Oakley personified the Knicks of the 90’s his play and his attitude screamed New York. Tough, hardworking town with a chip on our shoulder. Then to be watching a game and see one of our legends and Knicks hero being surrounded by security and arrested. Some say that it was Oakley fault, he was yelling at Dolan and Dolan does like the criticism, but this is a man who loves the franchise more than most. So his criticism comes from the heart, he wants to see the Knicks back on the top of the NBA, who better to express this to than the person who is ultimately responsible for the rise or failures of the franchise. Oakley should be a welcomed person in the Garden and his advice should at least be heard. He has no financial gain attached to the success of the Knicks just a love for the team.

Then there is the Carmelo Anthony situation, I find it blatantly disrespectful how Melo is being treated by the franchise. For Phil Jackson to blame the losing season solely on Melo is cowardly at best, when does he take the blame. The only good thing that Phil has done since working for the New York Knicks is drafting Porzingis and I believe that was more of a Steve Mills decision than Phil.

People on social media are blaming it on Melo, talking about trade Melo, he is a ball stopper, he does not play defense, and he does not pass. If you really watch the New York Knicks Melo has made improvements in all these areas, but when they start losing it seems as though he loses faith. Everyone forgets the 52 win season, no one complained about Melo’s game then, but if you closely examine that season you will see what made a difference. Donnie Walsh great leadership in the front office, Mike Woodson good coaching, Jason Kidd and Rasheed Wallace veteran leadership in the locker room and on the court. Chauncey Billups said it best, Melo is at his best when playing with other good players. What happen after that 52 win season, Dolan happened, instead of trading for LA Marcus Aldridge like Walsh wanted to, Dolan wants the trade for Andrea Bargnani. And then let Walsh leave. Everyone knows what Melo does and that is get buckets, he shows up every night and gets buckets. People are talking because the Knicks won these last few games without Melo, the ball is moving, these are meaningless games, these games did not change the landscape of the playoff, and the opponents did not give the Knicks their best.

Now let’s discuss Phil Jackson, I know he has all the rings as a coach but he is not coaching the Knicks. When he won those championships he had 3 of the top 10 players of all time on his teams, he did not develop them into superstar players, and they were already great players when he started coaching them. He is trying to force the triangle, I get it the triangle was successful in the past but this is now a point guard dominated league. Point guards do not like playing in the triangle because it diminishes their effectiveness on the court. Name 1 all-star level point guard on a Phil Jackson championship team. The way he handled the situation with Melo is at best amateurish. His prize acquisition, Porzingis, does not like the way Phil has been handling Melo.

You have to ask yourself if you are a top tier free agent would you sign with Knicks after witnessing how their current and past stars are treated. I love the New York Knicks but if the Knicks decide to trade Melo then there needs to be complete house cleaning, meaning Phil has to go too.