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NBA Free Agency- Winners and Houston

By

Lamar Battle

One of the most fascinating NBA free agent signing periods was just preceded by one of the deepest drafts in years and I tell you, It was a doozy.

The Miami Heat had no idea that they would actually lose all universe player Lebron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers until the very end. Along those same lines N.Y. Knick star Carmelo Anthony vacillated back and forth between the Knicks, The L.A. Lakers and Chicago Bulls before finally deciding to return to the Knicks who, coincidentally could afford to pay him the most money.

Prescient issues were thrown around like say the Chicago Cubs in late August and among them were: The emergence of smaller markets in the power dynamic including of course Cleveland along with Indiana, Portland, Oklahoma City, Milwaukee and rapidly rising New Orleans. The new CBA made it tough to put together super teams thus spreading the talent around. San Antonio’s model for growth becoming a barometer of success around a league which has been accused on more than one occasion of following the leader. Teams will now have to choose players wisely and develop them accordingly.

Some of the winners:

Cleveland Cavaliers,

Spent most of Lebron’s absence working through his agent in hopes of preparing for his eventual return. Financial flexibility and incredible luck ( three number one picks in four years) allowed the CAVS to offer a young and talented team in need of leadership. Can you believe that the CAVS can put LeBron in a position not unlike Tim Duncan as he ages. Kudos to Lebron for exercising vision personified as he fights the good fight for a sports town with real and long suffering fans.

Chicago Bulls,

Why don’t free agents love Chicago ? Could it be the weather, the owners tight pockets, a mad man coach, The Cubs ?

This could be a breakthrough year as the Bulls planned carefully to draft the man they wanted all along, Creighton’s Doug McDermott who should flourish under coach Thibodeau’s tutelage. After failing to get Carmelo Anthony (for money no less) the Bulls nabbed free agent Pau Gasol, a 34 year old seven footer who will make more of a difference than most realize.

A big part of the Spurs success is their incredible team sacrifice and chemistry.
The Bulls are second to them in that department with the Cavaliers coming on strong. The core is intact and newcomers Gasol, Mirotic and McDermott along with a newly commited ( if you count summer league) Tony Snell the Bulls have upgraded their dire need for scoring. Oh, and did I mention Derrick Rose is healthy now.

Dallas Mavericks,

In what some describe as the grift of the century Dallas signed unrestricted free agent Chandler Parsons with a three year 46 million dollar contract that also boasted a 15% trade kicker making it extremely tough to match.

The Houston Rockets left themselves open and the Cuban took advantage. Dallas, the same team that took San Antonio to seven games in last years playoffs now have Tyson Chandler and up and coming All Star Chandler Parsons. Throw in coach Rick Carlisle ( perhaps the league’s second or third best coach) and you have the makings of a championship contender.

New York Knicks,

They kept Carmelo Anthony. I could leave it there but deciding to return to New York was wise for a number of reasons most notably Team president Phil Jackson’s status as the resident super star whisperer.

Phil has already made moves to improve the teams shooting and chemistry. The Knicks will be free of the salaries of Amare Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani next season and in play for what looks like another wild free agency period. Draftees Cleanthony Early and Thanasis Antetokounmpo are excellent players and are part of a solid future. At the current pace the Knicks should be in contention for the conference title in a year. This process amounted to a sort of crossroads for Melo. New York is his town through and through and it was high time that he made a stand ultimately becoming part of the solution.
Oh, and an extra 30 mil never hurt anybody.

The Losers

Miami Heat,

Anytime you lose the best player on the planet you have to be considered a loser. The Heat rebounded keeping Chris Bosh ( for max money no less ) and adding Loul Deng but at this stage they are prolonging the inevitable. At the end of game five of the finals LeBron gave out appropriate hugs to the winners, paused, threw back his shoulders, lifted his head and walked directly to the tunnel. Heat president Pat Riley had to sense that his star was resolute in moving on. Days later Riley conducted what many consider to be a bizzare 55 min press conference challenging Lebron to man up and stay in Miami. It was too late. The faux Heat fans should be proud of winning two titles in four years so they can now arrive late to games and cheer on a 45 win team.

Houston Rockets,

Tough calling any team that boast James Harden and Dwight Howard losers but in what seemed like the blink of an eye the Rockets went from potential championship contenders to a middle of the western conference team with limited depth.

General manager Daryl Morey acted prematurely by unloading Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin, a first round pick and leaving forward Chandler Parsons open to a poison pill contract gladly engineered by the Dallas Mavericks. Morey, who had been accustomed to leaving rival GM’s in his dust made his move too soon incorrectly assuming that Chris Bosh statement( If LeBron leaves Miami I am going to Houston) was a commitment.

Losing Parsons was particularly painful as he could score long distance, off the dribble, finish strong at the rim, run your offense, play above average defense, recruit, assist in maintaining a good locker room and I hear drove a mean bus.

Honorable mention on the winning side,

Washington Wizards, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, why ? Cat just seems to be on a roll.

NBA Draft Hotline

 

 

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By Lamar Battle

Looks like It’s that time of the year again. The Moon is in the seventh house, Democrats and Republicans are drinking buddies ? ( Who am I fooling), Campaign finance reform is a reality and young men once again look for the answers to their dreams. You guessed it,  the NBA draft is once again upon us.

This years draft promises to be one of the best in recent memory and since this is my posting I will comment on players I like or feel the need to talk about. Now having said that here is the:

 The Skinny:

-Joel Embiid, 7’0″ Center.
With back issues and a broken right foot he is starting to look
injury prone. However his skill level dictates a gamble albeit to
a team that afford to wait on him.

-Andrew Wiggins 6’8″ Shooting Guard.
Off the charts athleticism and potential Allstar who is a no
brainer as the 1st pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Why ?
The prospect of a fast break led by Kyrie Irving, Wiggins
and LeBron James. This scenario puts LeBron in the
position of mentoring young thorough-breads. Not unlike
Tim Duncan.

-Jabari Parker 6′ 8″ Small Forward.
Can you say damn skippy ?

This player is the real deal (Just
ask Joe ). Picture DNA, breeding, background and strength in
a 6 ‘ 8″ linebacker with ( just scratching the surface) quickness
and the bearing of Julius Erving. Jabari can post up, drive,
shoot off the dribble from either the 3 pt line,medium range
or floaters. He has great basketball IQ, is a natural leader and
is poised to be somebody’s “Face of the Franchise as a rookie.

-Shabazz Napier 6′ 1″ Point Guard.

Really cannot believe the number of people sleeping on this
guy. He is easily the best point guard in the draft. remember
he was schooled by Kevin Ollie and has two NCAA titles.
Warning, do not be fooled by his size. Look at his smarts and
heart and think Isiah Thomas. Yeah, I said it.

 

Julius Randle 6′ 8″ power forward

Think Zack Randolph 2.0 minus the edge. nuff said.

Nik Staukas 6′ 6″ shooting guard

Great shooter who can fire off the dribble, drive and dish.
potential all star.

 

Zach Lavine 6’6″ shooting guard

Great athlete. Picture Electro with handles. could be a great
defender. needs to improve his out side shooting.

 

Dante Exum 6′ 6″ point guard

Could be a solid contributor or the best player in the draft.
depends on his motor. Can handle the rock, penetrate and
shoot off the dribble. Can he develop as a play maker ?

 

Noah Vonleh 6′ 10″ power forward

7′ 2″ and 3/4. wing span 45% from the three point line
biggest hands in draft, not afraid to mix it up ? Damn!

Doug Mc Dermott 6′ 8″ small forward

More than just a spot up shooter.Can post up, shoot mid
range and is over 40% from the three. Four year player
who literally carried his team(Creighton) to NCAA’S.
Smart, high motor and a possessor of the dreaded
Dirk Nowitzki move.

 

Elfrid Payton 6′ 4″ point guard

Above average penetrator and defender. Wiry and fast.
decent floor general but poor outside shooter.

Adrien Payne 6′ 10″ power forward

Typical Michigan State player, overachieving, aggressive
and hungry. Will contribute off the bench for a lucky
team.

 

Also of note: Clint Capela, Gary Harris, Aaron Gordon, Marcus Smart,
Kristaps Porzingas, Jusuf Nurkic. Kyle Anderson.

 

 

 

All Hail the Spurs

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By Lamar Battle

 

At last, balance has been restored to the galaxy. With their game five victory over the Miami Heat the San Antonio Spurs cemented themselves in the hearts of basketball purist and Heat haters world wide as the premier organization in the NBA.

The Spurs won the last three games over Miami by no less than 15 points per game and the 2014 championship more than made up for the heart breaking loss suffered at the hands of the Miami Heat in 2013.

San Antonio coach Greg Popovich used the entire regular season to prepare his team for this moment. No Spurs player averaged more than 30 mins a game as Popovich carefully developed a bench comprised mostly of cast offs and ex Developmental League players. NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley said it best. ” A lot of teams try to play like the Spurs but they can’t because they don’t have the players”. What Charles meant more than anything was that every player can’t play for San Antonio because first of all you have to be hard working, unselfish and highly coach-able.

It is no accident that 9 of Spurs players are foreign born. Interestingly enough these players are raised with out the inherent sense of entitlement displayed by most American born players; residue left over by the AAU/shoe culture so prevalent now a days in the states. The Spurs are coached hard by coach Popovich who has won their trust, especially that of future all time great Tim Duncan. Duncan’s willingness to sublimate his ego for the good of the team has helped maintain a culture that has led to a playoff birth in each of Duncan’s 15 years in the league.

The above mentioned culture allowed the Spurs to run a disciplined, highly organized offense that broke down the previously un-breach-able Miami defense… Over and over again.

Miami’s defensive focus was to swarm the ball after almost every pass, especially when the ball entered the paint area.
Consequently the Spurs would consistently bait the Heat with screen rolls and drives to the basket with the intent to catch the Heat defenders out of position and pass to an open shooter. In essence, what the Spurs did offensively was use the Heat’s greatest strength on defense against them.

On defense the Spurs played Heat superstar LeBron James one on one and stayed home on Miami’s shooters, most notably sharpshooter Ray Allen. This approach coupled with limited turnovers prevented the Heat from going on prolonged runs of fast breaks and three point shooting. It was a devastating display of precision that had Heat players admitting that they were spanked royally.

To their credit, the Heat players conducted themselves admirably in defeat knowing that roster adjustments will be needed going forward if they have any hopes of winning another title. LeBron James can opt out of his contract and leave if he so desires so the Heat’s brain trust will have to convince their star players to stay home while fortifying a thin and rapidly aging bench.

Changes to the Heat will have to be serious as the Spurs have broken their code and I’m certain other teams were paying attention.

It was instructive to observe the Spurs during their trophy acceptance ceremony. There was Timmy in the background and coach Popovich way in the back allowing his team to soak it all in.
This series was good for the game of basketball as it displayed what we teach our kids about sport and It’s numerous benefits.

 

 

Not Your Fathers NBA Finals Preview

By  Anthony Powers

 

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“If I see a black kid in a hoodie on my side of the street, I’ll move to the other side of the street. If I see a white guy with a shaved head and tattoos (on the side he now is on), I’ll move back to the other side of the street. None of us have pure thoughts; we all live in glass houses.” Says, Dallas Mavs owner Mark Cuban, to which I as a self-appointed representative of the African-American people indignantly reply…um…ok.

I mean if after 240 years of slavery, followed by, with a brief respite of hope for an outbreak democracy during reconstruction, followed by another century and a half of state sponsored terror, legislative apartheid, red-lining, ghetto creation, job discrimination, social and cultural dehumanization and state sponsored economic exploitation etc. etc., we are surprised and taken aback when a wealthy white man is prejudiced…well in the old school lyrics of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes: wake up everybody, no more sleeping in bed.

Of course, and given my sample size is small, but I haven’t run into a single Black person in the least bit offended by Cuban’s comments. Most reactions I encountered were along the line of either: well…um…duh…ok…or…hmm.. It’s kind of refreshing to hear a White man tell the truth.

Personally, as long as he doesn’t shoot the kid to death and get away with it under the cloak of White privilege, I don’t care. I in fact encourage him to move on to the other side of the street before his fear gets that boy into trouble. American history teaches us that he is most dangerous when afraid of his manufactured image of us. Just remember young man….never wink at his woman.

And young man, if you get the opportunity to work for Mr. Cuban…leave the hoodie at home.

By the way, isn’t it interesting that the hardest playoff test in the Spurs amazing run to the finals came from Cuban’s appropriately named Mavericks. The Spurs had the most trouble with the team and organization most like themselves. Cuban and his alley mechanic coach, Rick Carlyle, continue to tinker under the hood of their hot jalopy, keeping Dirk and the ex-Matrix et al well oiled, doing the Vulcan mind meld on Vince Carter to grease his way into the Hall of Fame, riding Monte Ellis, for whose acquisition they somehow evaded prosecution, and generally high level collaborative balling enough to push the mighty Spurs to seven in the first round.

Note to Sam Presti and the OKC bean counters: you can’t construct a roster that requires you on offense to go 3 or less on 5 and expect to beat the Spurs or the Heat when it truly counts. And no, Derrick Fisher doesn’t count. Let me be the first to welcome you to New York, Mr. Fisher. Save the Knicks! And by the way, Mr. Presti, you have zero post-up game. Granted you have the beatific St. Durant on the perimeter, Neutron Man at the point and Son of Neutron Man aka Reggie Jackson coming off the bench. But damn if every shot the Thunder seemed to take in losing to the Spurs seemed to be either a contested fade-a-way 25 foot three or Neutron Man flying through three bodies at the rim. Or Neutron Man jacking up a quick three. Or Neutron Man firing a long contested two whilst St. Durant seeks peace of mind and tranquility of soul standing idle and open behind the arc on the opposite side. God I love Neutron Man! Long live Neutron Man!

On the other side, it was painful watching the Heat on its 12-3 cakewalk to the mountaintop once again. The basketball god’s convened on Olympus, Indiana, and decreed no team named the Bobcats shall ever win a playoff series. (Pelicans should also take note: yes. The Pelicans…the name that strikes fear into small fish!). So Al Jefferson had to get hurt. They also had to dissuade Chicago Bulls fandom of the notion that repeated 5 game ousters by the Heat in 2012 and 2013 constitutes being “close”. So they were matched up with the Wizards….the wayward child with potential. Out in 5 again. But rest assured Bulls fans. Take a little sip of Kool-Aid. Let me sing you a shareholders lullaby: Derrick Rose is going to come back and make it all right! Now go to sleep children and dream of Nikola Mirotic becoming the next Dirk. Butler learning to shoot the corner three. Noah trying really hard and passing, always passing out of the high post. Dunleavy and Kirk doing whatever it is they do. Good night Bulls fans…sweet dreams. Cha-ching!!!!

And then those Pacers, those wacky unlovable Pacers. A team only a mother and Larry Bird can love. Apparently Bird went to the New Orleans Pelicans workshop on how to fix what isn’t broken and how to break what was fixed. Sooo…that Plumlee and Gerald Green and a first round pick for Luis Scola didn’t quite work out so well. Two players and a pick for what at best would’ve been an ok backup for West at the four…wow. You’re left with a thin bench; a prematurely anointed superstar who plays like a caricature of Scotty Pippen in search of MJ, unless his 3 is falling, when he becomes Tracy McGrady; a little-birds-flapping-around-and- singing-between-the-ears waste of immense talent in Lance “The Minstrel” Stephenson, and of course, the only man big enough to inherit Gilbert Arena’s nickname: Agent Zero. As in Zero points. Zero rebounds. I wonder how Bird as a player would’ve responded if Perish or McHale ever put up a double zero in a playoff game. There would be blood.

The next sound you hear is their window slamming shut.

I know I didn’t mention the Nets. Their window never opened. Watching KG in these playoffs against these young athletes was real cycle of life type shit. The old giraffe being dragged down by a pack of hyenas.

So here we are: the rematch for b ball nirvana! Heat-Spurs. But in the tenor of NBA news these days let me digress for a moment to Donald Sterling. I don’t care about Donald Sterling’s thoughts. I don’t care about his words or world view. I do deeply care about the power over the lives and destinies of American families that accrued when owning thousands of housing units in Los Angeles County. The evil is in the manner in which he used his power…to deny American families access to housing based on racist intent.

In the discrimination suit against him settled in 2009 in which he paid 2.7 million to make it all go away…and to the eternal shame of the NBA it did all go away….It was alleged he also denied families housing based on children. The NBA had an owner who was even anti-child.

The point is racism is more than a feeling. It’s more than some statements. I don’t care if you think I’m a nigger. Just don’t pull me the fuck over when I’m trying to get to where I need to be. To adapt an image Malcolm X used to describe the pervasive pernicious effects of racism; if you shove a knife in my back, the primary issue is not how I feel about it. Nor is it the emotional

state and verbal articulations of the assailant’s prejudices. Racism is defined by the knife lodged in my back, with the assailant’s fingerprints all over it. As long as racism continues to be trivialized and relegated to the TMZ zone, the effects of the exploitative cultures that created the concept will continue to fester. It’s so very easy, comforting even, to pretend racism is all about slogans and labels. Sterling says black people shouldn’t come to Clipper games? Great opportunity to burnish your anti-racism credentials. Repeat after me: Oh I would never say something like that! I’m not a racist like him. Where were you when he was driving Black and Hispanic families out of their Korea town homes?

Racism as an artificial construct for the continuing exploitation of human resources has far more import than words. Racism has infrastructure and impact on day to day lives. Racism is the criminalization of Black children in schools. Denial of access to quality education. Double standards of qualifications for business loans. Food deserts in American residential communities. Chronic unemployment double and triple the national rate. Double standards for corporate survival and advancement. Criminal codes and sentencing laws that have turned prisons into plantations. Racism is the knife. Still lodged. Still drawing blood. Still covered with fingerprints.

Heat-Spurs!!! Hot damn! Historic! Epic! High drama about to go down. I have no clue which team to pick. Been going back and forth ever since the Spurs sent St. Durant packing. My brain says Spurs winning it in game seven at home. My intellect observes that after playing the Heat even last Finals, they’ve gotten better. We know what Duncan, Ginobili, Parker bring to the table. But it’s those other weapons: bad ass Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw…another dude like the old man with the long beard in the old Kung Fu movies who would kick some young upstarts ass with a fan…Mario Bellinelli, Danny Green, and Paddy Mills. They’ve all gotten better. Look out for Mill’s in this series!

Too many weapons. Too much brilliance in execution. Too much Pops. Too much GOAT-PF. Too many intangibles after coming back from last year’s devastation. And Paddy Mills! This is what my brain tells me. This team top to bottom is obviously superior to this year’s version of the Heat: no Mike Miller, no Shane Battier…oh what, he’s still playing? Depending on Rashard Lewis to give quality minutes and score? Wade crafty and less crippled but still a shell of what he once was. Ray Allen older. Cole and Chalmers forced to contain Parker, Ginobili and….. Paddy Mills! Nothing but journeymen (Birdman, Haslem) to feed to GOAT-PF and Diaw.

This is what my higher intellect tells me…Spurs in 7.

But my lizard brain has a different point of view. My lizard brain has witnessed the emergence of the next evolution of the species, which in about 100,000 years will prevail and wipeout my own, if he is allowed to procreate. What? LeBron James has children?! Oh well… I guess it’s time for this funky Homo sapien to party like its 99,999.

My higher brain appreciates the resourceful brilliance of the Spurs and expects it to prevail over the defending champs.

My lizard brain is simply afraid of LeBron James. I’m going with the lizard brain here. Heat in seven.

NBA playoff update. And of course, Donald Sterling

By Anthony Powers

Here’s the problem with Donald Sterling. Not his statement. The man. And the social culture that spawned nurtured and accommodated him. Not to mention enriched when it should’ve prosecuted him.
Here we are smack dab in the middle of what might just be the greatest NBA first round playoff we’ve ever seen. And suddenly a very peculiar NBA chicken has come home to roast. They hid him away in the Clipper slums so he was stowed away in his own irrelevancy. But then they’re given Chris Paul?! By the NBA? And he’s not forced to sell?
Mind you…it’s not as if it is, as the Media portrays it, a lone isolated statement, somehow not reflecting what he actually thinks, in fact he didn’t say it, or maybe he didn’t say it, because maybe the tape was altered, or maybe it wasn’t, but anyway the statements do not reflect his beliefs or how he feels, you know the statements he does not acknowledge saying, and by the way if anyone is offended by the statements, especially you Magic Johnson, he’s sorry. I mean he has a history. An actual track record.
What is most striking to me is that absolutely no one is paying any attention to what seems to be EVERY BLACK PLAYER whoever worked on that NBA plantation. They are not surprised. They are not astonished in the least. For them, this is merely par for the course. Although I admit that I was amused at Baron Davis chiming in, claiming Sterling had called him “a bastard” and “the devil”. Baron Davis apparently was such an actual bastard that Massa Sterling couldn’t even get to his racial shit. Sterling apparently had far deeper issues with Mr. Davis than that he was a nigger.
That said, the fact remains that were it not for the fact that he messed around with the wrong woman, and how many of us have not suffered that, and of course why would any woman mess with that if she weren’t the wrong woman, the NBA would’ve sailed blissfully along, with Chris Paul, Blake Griffith, DeAndre Jordan, and my man bringing the funk Jamal Crawford, making this degenerate human being (and racist) even more wealthy. After all, that is their sole role on his plantation. I’m definitely going to have to reread…….40 million dollar slaves….a little more seriously. The NBA, which celebrates itself for its social progressiveness, would’ve have been business as increasingly lucrative usual as Sterling continued to be elevated once again by the NBA’s doing, to one of its marque franchises.
Anyway, welcome to the twenty first century, post-racial America, the age of Obama, where increasingly all is not as it seems.
For example, new commish Adam Silver seems to be positively heroic. Given that being a middle aged Black man with a brain I tend to expect the worse out of White folks in these situations, especially those who enrich themselves on the labor and skills of Black athletes they paternalistically own, I confess I was very pleasantly surprised by Silver and the NBA owners coming down hard in doing the right thing. I expected the typical slap on the wrist: a fine, a
suspension, and much pretense of giving a damn. Instead we get a life-time ban, a max fine, and an expressed determination to push Sterling out. Nice job!
But upon further review we see the Frederick Douglass history lesion being exhibited in bold relief: power cedes nothing without struggle. Or maybe the 21st century decline of the U.S. version: power cedes nothing without a PR fiasco costing actual and potential money after locking the players out and punking a disorganized and thoroughly cowed NBPA into giving up lots of money and putting a hard cap on what players can earn thus drastically increasing the value of franchises from millions to billions on the eve of media rights negotiations that will generate billions more while turning the players into year around sharecrop—- um—employees.
And so it is that recorded statements….not driving out of his apartment property its Black and Latino residents, including an elderly lady resident who paid her rent faithfully for decades and caused no problems, only to see Massa Sterling stop accepting her rent and then having her evicted, the actions against her only ceasing when she had a stroke and died…mission accomplished…no not that, but some embarrassing statements so niggardly they caused sponsors to pull out and players to threaten work stoppage during the most exciting first playoff round in NBA history.
Anyway…nice job Mr. Silver. You did what needed to be done. Now we can put the creepy ass cracker (my personal tribute to Trayvon et al) out of our minds and go back to sleep. Bring on the second round!!!
Random post mortem on the greatest round 1 since Hitman vs. Hagler:
I picked Raptors over Nets. Oh well, almost a genius. DeRozan got a little Kobe dog in him. He should’ve gotten that last shot.
Heat over Bobcats. Too bad big Al got hurt. Could’ve been interesting. He was a post-up clinic all year.
Wiz over Bulls. Too big too strong too good too many talented players. Yes having way more talented players helps in the playoffs when everybody cares and plays hard every game. No place for bottom feeders. Felt bad for Noah…who knew he could carry a team. Too bad he and his bum knee ended up being Nene road kill.
Pacers over Hawks. How in the hell could that team take any playoff team seven games. Of course that was the team that held the Pacers in a regular season game to 23 first half freaking points. I just can’t let it go. As much as I enjoyed Indy’s playoff run in the good old days last year when they were the big bad Pacers, I’m having a hard time caring about them now. By the way, I knew they were going to have trouble…maybe not epic Hindenburg type trouble… but trouble when Lance Random Stephenson began to be mentioned as an all-star.
Spurs over Mavs. The dependable Camry that is the Spurs traveling basketball clinic outlasts that wonderful jalopy that Rick Carlyle the voodoo chile kept running thanks to that Dirk horsepower engine. Welcome to the Hall of Fame Mr. Carter. How great could he have been if he had been coached like this earlier in his career?
Clips over Golden State. How could the Lord have allowed the devil (Sterling…see above) to lose to Pastor Jackson (RIP)?
OKC over Griz. The OKC chemistry experiment continues. Perkins is still dead. Westbrook is the greatest unstable element type player (see Jackson, Stephen et al) ever. KD is a genetically altered baller. Thanks commish for greasing the skids for OKC by suspending Randolph. The Emperor Stern legacy lives!!!! Long live the Emperor!!!
Portland over Houston. Don’t you wish they could play this all over again in the second round? Should we start calling him James Harem…no D? Ditto Chanler? Don’t blame Dwight. I can’t believe I just wrote that. Damian Lillard is a grown ass man. Ditto Aldridge.
Second round picks:
Heat over Nets in six. Lopez would’ve helped a lot in this one. Heat hasn’t been totally the same sine last season’s winning historic winning streak. But they have enough to take out Nets. Nets should make it interesting though.
Wiz over Pacers. If Ariza becomes Big Game Ariza, Indy’s sole matchup advantage over Wiz is Lance ADD Stephenson. As much as I enjoy him doing Lance Stephenson things…this is not good. Wiz in 5.
Spurs over Portland. Portland has no shot against the playoff hardened Spurs traveling basketball clinic. Damian/Lamarcus should get them one. In 5.
Clips over OKC. I actually have no idea in this one. But Griffin/ Jordan is a special ops force unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The CP3 matchup could bring out the worst in Westbrook. They have long annoying bodies to through at Durant. And Perkins in still dead. Ubuntu wins over Saint Durant in seven. If this happens I will question the Lord once again.

 

 

 

Here’s the problem with Donald Sterling. Not his statement. The man. And the social culture that spawned nurtured and accommodated him. Not to mention enriched when it should’ve prosecuted him.
Here we are smack dab in the middle of what might just be the greatest NBA first round playoff we’ve ever seen. And suddenly a very peculiar NBA chicken has come home to roast. They hid him away in the Clipper slums so he was stowed away in his own irrelevancy. But then they’re given Chris Paul?! By the NBA? And he’s not forced to sell?
Mind you…it’s not as if it is, as the Media portrays it, a lone isolated statement, somehow not reflecting what he actually thinks, in fact he didn’t say it, or maybe he didn’t say it, because maybe the tape was altered, or maybe it wasn’t, but anyway the statements do not reflect his beliefs or how he feels, you know the statements he does not acknowledge saying, and by the way if anyone is offended by the statements, especially you Magic Johnson, he’s sorry. I mean he has a history. An actual track record.
What is most striking to me is that absolutely no one is paying any attention to what seems to be EVERY BLACK PLAYER whoever worked on that NBA plantation. They are not surprised. They are not astonished in the least. For them, this is merely par for the course. Although I admit that I was amused at Baron Davis chiming in, claiming Sterling had called him “a bastard” and “the devil”. Baron Davis apparently was such an actual bastard that Massa Sterling couldn’t even get to his racial shit. Sterling apparently had far deeper issues with Mr. Davis than that he was a nigger.
That said, the fact remains that were it not for the fact that he messed around with the wrong woman, and how many of us have not suffered that, and of course why would any woman mess with that if she weren’t the wrong woman, the NBA would’ve sailed blissfully along, with Chris Paul, Blake Griffith, DeAndre Jordan, and my man bringing the funk Jamal Crawford, making this degenerate human being (and racist) even more wealthy. After all, that is their sole role on his plantation. I’m definitely going to have to reread…….30 billion dollar slaves….a little more seriously. The NBA, which celebrates itself for its social progressiveness, would’ve have been business as increasingly lucrative usual as Sterling continued to be elevated once again by the NBA’s doing, to one of its marque franchises.
Anyway, welcome to the twenty first century, post-racial America, the age of Obama, where increasingly all is not as it seems.
For example, new commish Adam Silver seems to be positively heroic. Given that being a middle aged Black man with a brain I tend to expect the worse out of White folks in these situations, especially those who enrich themselves on the labor and skills of Black athletes they paternalistically own, I confess I was very pleasantly surprised by Silver and the NBA owners coming down hard in doing the right thing. I expected the typical slap on the wrist: a fine, a
suspension, and much pretense of giving a damn. Instead we get a life-time ban, a max fine, and an expressed determination to push Sterling out. Nice job!
But upon further review we see the Frederick Douglass history lesion being exhibited in bold relief: power cedes nothing without struggle. Or maybe the 21st century decline of the U.S. version: power cedes nothing without a PR fiasco costing actual and potential money after locking the players out and punking a disorganized and thoroughly cowed NBPA into giving up lots of money and putting a hard cap on what players can earn thus drastically increasing the value of franchises from millions to billions on the eve of media rights negotiations that will generate billions more while turning the players into year around sharecrop—- um—employees.
And so it is that recorded statements….not driving out of his apartment property its Black and Latino residents, including an elderly lady resident who paid her rent faithfully for decades and caused no problems, only to see Massa Sterling stop accepting her rent and then having her evicted, the actions against her only ceasing when she had a stroke and died…mission accomplished…no not that, but some embarrassing statements so niggardly they caused sponsors to pull out and players to threaten work stoppage during the most exciting first playoff round in NBA history.
Anyway…nice job Mr. Silver. You did what needed to be done. Now we can put the creepy ass cracker (my personal tribute to Trayvon et al) out of our minds and go back to sleep. Bring on the second round!!!
Random post mortem on the greatest round 1 since Hitman vs. Hagler:
I picked Raptors over Nets. Oh well, almost a genius. DeRozan got a little Kobe dog in him. He should’ve gotten that last shot.
Heat over Bobcats. Too bad big Al got hurt. Could’ve been interesting. He was a post-up clinic all year.
Wiz over Bulls. Too big too strong too good too many talented players. Yes having way more talented players helps in the playoffs when everybody cares and plays hard every game. No place for bottom feeders. Felt bad for Noah…who knew he could carry a team. Too bad he and his bum knee ended up being Nene road kill.
Pacers over Hawks. How in the hell could that team take any playoff team seven games. Of course that was the team that held the Pacers in a regular season game to 23 first half freaking points. I just can’t let it go. As much as I enjoyed Indy’s playoff run in the good old days last year when they were the big bad Pacers, I’m having a hard time caring about them now. By the way, I knew they were going to have trouble…maybe not epic Hindenburg type trouble… but trouble when Lance Random Stephenson began to be mentioned as an all-star.
Spurs over Mavs. The dependable Camry that is the Spurs traveling basketball clinic outlasts that wonderful jalopy that Rick Carlyle the voodoo chile kept running thanks to that Dirk horsepower engine. Welcome to the Hall of Fame Mr. Carter. How great could he have been if he had been coached like this earlier in his career?
Clips over Golden State. How could the Lord have allowed the devil (Sterling…see above) to lose to Pastor Jackson (RIP)?
OKC over Griz. The OKC chemistry experiment continues. Perkins is still dead. Westbrook is the greatest unstable element type player (see Jackson, Stephen et al) ever. KD is a genetically altered baller. Thanks commish for greasing the skids for OKC by suspending Randolph. The Emperor Stern legacy lives!!!! Long live the Emperor!!!
Portland over Houston. Don’t you wish they could play this all over again in the second round? Should we start calling him James Harem…no D? Ditto Chanler? Don’t blame Dwight. I can’t believe I just wrote that. Damian Lillard is a grown ass man. Ditto Aldridge.
Second round picks:
Heat over Nets in six. Lopez would’ve helped a lot in this one. Heat hasn’t been totally the same sine last season’s winning historic winning streak. But they have enough to take out Nets. Nets should make it interesting though.
Wiz over Pacers. If Ariza becomes Big Game Ariza, Indy’s sole matchup advantage over Wiz is Lance ADD Stephenson. As much as I enjoy him doing Lance Stephenson things…this is not good. Wiz in 5.
Spurs over Portland. Portland has no shot against the playoff hardened Spurs traveling basketball clinic. Damian/Lamarcus should get them one. In 5.
Clips over OKC. I actually have no idea in this one. But Griffin/ Jordan is a special ops force unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The CP3 matchup could bring out the worst in Westbrook. They have long annoying bodies to through at Durant. And Perkins in still dead. Ubuntu wins over Saint Durant in seven. If this happens I will question the Lord once again.

 

Should College Athletes be Paid ? Seriously.

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This is an issue that has been discussed for generations but of late it has garnered a lot of attention and air time. Everybody from the president of the NCAA to the President of the United States has offered a take on it.

At issue appears to be whether or not athletes can be considered partners/employees in the business of college sports. The majority of Americans polled (some where around 64%), according to the WAPO/ABC poll are of the opinion that a four year scholarship averaging around 60 k per year is more than enough compensation wise for student athletes.

I disagree.

One of the more interesting points raised of late was the simple fact that the college athletes performing in mega revenue producing sports are actually employees in a billion dollar industry.

This more than anything establishes the basic relationship between the institutions and it’s mode of production. If big time college sports are indeed a business then one must wonder, what or who generates the profit.

For decades the prevailing line of thought went like this. A college education is more than enough compensation for so called student athletes ( A term invented at the NCAA’s origins to get out of paying workmans compensation to it’s athletes ). A college degree is indeed a valuable possession but as former NBA player Etan Thomas essentially said, a college degree in this instance is akin to a poor third world nation agreeing to accept some jobs and perks in exchange for full and complete access by a foreign corporation to that nations oil fields or mineral resources.

Athletic scholarships are year to year and can be revoked at any time.  According to Bootlegs 2013 football graduation rates and among four year football scholarship players:

Michigan State University – 46 %
LSU- 49 %
University of Florida -49 %
University of Texas – 58 %
Oklahoma – 47 %

These numbers represent only a small but highly lucrative sampling of schools and their graduation rates.

Contributor A.J. added that when a student receives an academic scholarship he or she is not expected to perform any additional labor related duties for the institution only to attend class and participate in college life.

When Universities rake in billions (that’s right) billions of dollars and subject workers to up to 60 hours per week of labor i.e. travel, games and practices then is it unfair to allow these workers a seat at the table ?

The National Labor Relations Board ruled recently that Northwestern football players are indeed employees and a vote to unionize was held on 4-25-14. The football players are requesting a voice in medical care, academic priorities and scheduling concerns. The results from that vote probably won’t be known for months but it’s implications are far reaching as colleges and universities nationwide will be subject to the light of public awareness.

The University of Texas has it’s own T.V.network and as the SEC conference follows suit it is clear that the potential for profit is through the roof but when given a chance to behave responsibly the NCAA would not even provide three meals a day for it’s workers as pointed out by NCAA championship basketball player Shabazz Napier and corroborated by others.

One can only wonder if public apathy regarding this issue can be related to the fact that the majority of the players in the highest revenue producing sports are from poor and working class families. How else could the NCAA be allowed to operate a highly profitable business for decades that closely resembles some sort of indentured servitude or worse.

Debate/polling can resemble the eerie overtones of the minimum wage debate and that of welfare reform which at the end of the day serve only to stalemate the masses while university coaches, presidents and t.v. executives march happily to the bank.

Possible solutions vary from discussions about instituting something similar to baseballs farm system to maybe setting up trust for athletes but one thing is for sure and that is serious reform is long over due.

 

How can Derrick Rose return better than before ?

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The big question in all of Chicago is will Derrick Rose return to action as good or better than he was before ?  I suspect he will succeed due mostly to his passion and love for basketball.  However, Derrick needs to improve his outside shooting and he can.
 
Here’s how: 
 
1.  The challenge, shooting flaws can always be detected by following the flight of the ball.  In Derricks case his shots are flat ( meaning they have a flat trajectory or straight line to the basket.
 
Derrick works very hard and when practicing he can probably knock down seven of ten shots consistently.  However, a common mistake among high jumping players is that they jump higher during game conditions.  Derrick also has a hitch in his release that can be corrected.  At this stage of his career Derrick needs an improved outside shot to keep the defense off balance.
 
2.  The solution,  Please note the illustration of NBA player Ray Allen as he shoots.  Ray was chosen for this post because he jumps almost as high as Derrick when he shoots.
Of the six frames shown of Ray shooting I would like you to pay attention to frame#3 and frame #6.
The position in frame #3 just over Ray’s forehead is the ball’s final resting place or set point just prior to the final shooting motion. The position is important because to obtain a higher release point the ball should be set higher.
 
Notice in frame#6 the ball is released between twelve and one o’clock or about 90 degrees. The release point is paramount because it utilizes the legs most in providing thrust for the shot.  
 
3.  The pay off,  The shot is on a higher trajectory which effectively improves it’s chances of going in ( especially since all basketball rims are twice the size of a single basketball ).
If done right the ball will also have a significant back spin which will virtually pull a shot in the basket. 
 
Remember:  One size does not fit all when repairing a players shot but flaws can usually be detected by following the flight of the ball.
 
Finally,   So by changing his set and release points Derrick Rose can enjoy a jump shot that requires less energy, is more accurate and will enhance his drives to the basket.  And remember there are a lot worse models than Ray Allen to emulate.