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.”

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.

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.

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.