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.

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.

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.

 

 

In my opinion, the best coach to ever coach in the NBA is Gregg Popovich. I know there are some people who will disagree with me but before you judge hear my point of view. I know some may say Phil Jackson is a better coach because of the 11 championships others may feel Red Auerbach is the best coach because of all the Celtics championships. One can make a solid case for these individuals but I believe Pop has a certain edge.

First The San Antonio Spurs under coach Popovich has made the playoffs for 20 years in a row with five championships and six finals appearances during this period. This may not impress you but how many other teams have remained competitive during this time. All of the teams have not sustained a level of excellence for the last 20 years. The Lakers fell to the bottom of the league, once LeBron left the Miami Heat they have struggled, and Detroit and Boston quickly became irrelevant after their recent championship.

Here is where I feel Popovich distinguishes himself from the other good coaches throughout NBA history. The NBA style of play has changed dramatically over the years, the game used to be physical, then the NBA was about dominate big men, now the NBA is a point guards league and consists of ball movement with three point shooting. No matter how the NBA game has changed the Spurs have adjusted and remained one of the top team in the league. The coach has made these adjustments in order for the team to be successful. Phil Jackson only can coach one style of basketball, Mike D’Antoni can only coach one way. The reason there are not many of the same coaches coaching in the league today that was coaching 20 years ago is because they cannot successfully coach the new NBA style of play. Popovich can!!! For the most part, the Spurs did not build their team with blockbuster trades or big name free agents signings. The core of the team is homegrown, they are players drafted by the Spurs or players pick out of obscurity.

The other thing that separates Gregg Popovich from the other coaches is player development. Tim Duncan may have been a number one pick but being a number one pick does not guarantee success, Manu Ginobili a second round pick, and Tony Parker a late first pick. These three players are All-Star players and future hall of Famers, people would have thought Duncan would be an all-star but no one ever thought the other two would be as good as players as they are. Patty Mills and Danny Green both late second round draftees and released by the teams who drafted them only to become great role players under Popovich. And then there is Kawhi Leonard, Kawhi was a good college basketball player but no one thought he would be the player is today, Kawhi is a great player on both sides of the ball and a legitimate MVP candidate. Only one person knew he could make Kawhi into one of the best players in the league today, Gregg Popovich.

For these reasons, Gregg Popovich has to be the best coach ever to coach in the NBA. If you disagree prove me wrong.

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?