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The 2016 NBA All-Star game was unwatchable. The analysts kept saying that the fans wanted to see a more competitive game but the game is about showcasing the talent of the athletes, however, I beg to differ. The athletes showcased their talent during the first half of the season and that’s why the fans voted for them as All-Stars. The fans are interested in seeing how the best of the best perform against each other.  Fans are not interested in only seeing dunks, layups and three point shots.

The game was unwatchable and just pathetic. A game like that would never have been played during the Magic, Bird, Jordan, Thomas era. What has happened to the competitive spirit of the players? Are they afraid to make a mistake?

The dunk contest was the best we’ve seen in years. LaVine and Gordon definitely elevated the contest to another level. We have not seen that kind of competitive spirit since Vince Carter. Why haven’t KD, LeBron or Westbrook participated in the dunk contest or the skills challenge? The players of today, can’t be afraid to lose. It’s about bragging rights. As for the winner of the dunk contest, it my humble opinion Gordon won.

If this is what fans have to look forward to, don’t bother with the game, just host the skills challenge, three-point shooting, the dunk contest and call it a day. They may as well have given lettermen jackets if we’re going to relegated to a game like that. Are the players of today afraid to lose? Has the media caused them to shy away from what the game is really about?

The game was just a joke and it’s unfair to subject the fans to a game that touts having the best of the best, yet we don’t see anything remotely close to the best of the best performing. Paul George was the only player that put forth any real effort.

If the game doesn’t improve next year, I will not watch it again!!!



Cleveland Cavaliers: Did Coach David Blatt Deserve to be Fired?

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Well, my knee jerk reaction to the firing of Coach Blatt by the Cleveland Cavaliers management was that the firing was unwarranted and would prove to be the undoing of the Cavaliers, especially since he took them to the NBA finals last year and they are leading the Eastern Conference this season.

When the Cavaliers lost their first game with Tyronn Lue at the helm as head coach, I said HA, idiots the team is headed for a crash landing as a result of that snap decision.  Incidentally, I thought LeBron James had something to do with Coach Blatt’s firing as well.

Before writing my finger pointing “Nan,” “Nan,” “Nan” article, I pulled back and waited to see how the team would perform with 38 year old Tyronn Lue as the head coach. It’s very possible, my rush to judgment about the Cavaliers management decision and LeBron James, was just that, “a rush to judgment” and I NEVER want to be accused of not giving anyone a fair chance.  Albeit, sometimes I will pull the trigger and ask questions later and dare anyone to say anything or go against my stance but I digress.

The Cavaliers last four games under Coach Lue have been impressive. It takes a lot to manage BIG personalities and a coach has to be able to do that in the NBA.  Not only does he have to be able to manage the personalities but he has to be able to make the proper substitutions, put together a game plan that all of the players will buy into and get in their faces when necessary.  The Cavaliers beat the Spurs soundly a couple of days ago and I must admit, I was shocked.  Initially, I thought they would lose because the game started with each player just going down the court, throwing up shots and missing.  Coach Lue got them under control and they started passing the ball around and playing more like a team than individuals.

While researching Coach David Blatt’s pedigree, I discovered that he NEVER played professionally in the NBA nor had he coach in the NBA. Not having done one of the two was a recipe for the disaster, can we say Chip Kelly?  He played professionally for twelve (12) years in the European league, which is not the same as playing in the NBA.  If you’re going to make the player to coach transition in the NBA, it’s my opinion that in order to succeed in the role, he should have either played or been an assistant coach in the NBA.  Nothing beats experience and he was out of his element when dealing with the players.  Coach Lue played 12 seasons in the NBA and was in his eighth season as an assistant coach, the last three seasons being with the Cavaliers.

I realize some of you are saying the same thing I said when he was terminated and that was, “he coached the team to a championship.” Well, actually it was probably more so the talent of the players that got the team to the championship.  The real question is: Should he have been hired in the first place?  My answer to this question is NO. The reason my answer is no is because Lebron was coming back to the team and with his lack of NBA experience, Coach Blatt was doomed to fail.  He was a rookie coach who didn’t think he was a rookie, which was his first mistake.  His second mistake was not knowing how to hold LeBron accountable for his mistakes and LeBron did make mistakes and so did the other players but everyone follows LeBron’s lead.

Once the other players saw his weaknesses, the game was over for him. During the championship series last year, we saw Cavalier players mentally checkout of the game and as a coach you can’t allow that to happen.  What worked in the European league is NOT going to work in the NBA because the competition is at a different level and the personalities are much bigger.  Prior to firing Coach Blatt, did management have a conversation with him about their expectations?  Did management ever voice their concerns over the direction the team was headed?  Also, if he was having difficulty managing LeBron, and he was, he should have gone to management, discussed his concerns and had a private conversation with LeBron so that everyone could get on the same page.  Management must learn to properly vet the coaches abilities before hiring them.

It was very obvious, once everyone returned this season from injuries and what have you, they were not gelling as a team, notwithstanding the fact that the team was still winning.

In order to be competitive and have a chance at beating the Warriors, something had to change for the Cavaliers and unfortunately it was the coach. I have to admit that the decision to terminate to Coach Blatt and hire Coach Lue was a good decision by Cleveland’s management and it will probably pay dividends in the long run.  My assessment of Coach Blatt is that he does have good coaching skills but they are better suited for a team that’s in a rebuilding stage like, let’s the LAKERS!!!




How Did the Warriors Lose Their First Game?

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Basketball fans were wondering how the Bucks were able to hand the “Mighty Warriors” their first loss of the season.  Actually, the answer is easy.  The Bucks took a page out of the Warriors playbook and won.  When I say the Bucks took a page out of the Warriors playbook, it’s not a literal statement so settle down people the Bucks did not steal the Warriors playbook.

The Warriors play VERY unselfish basketball.  They pass the ball around very quickly, drive the lane, hit the fast break and look for the open player.  Well, that’s exactly what the Bucks did.  Also, the Bucks three point shooting was on.  Giannis, played Clay Thompson very well and caused him to get into foul trouble and that’s what teams have to do in order to have a remote chance of beating the Warriors.  The Warriors will be very hard to beat and considered by most analysts to be the best team in the League.  I will say this, in order for teams to be competitive when playing the Warriors the players must move the ball around quickly and be unselfish with the ball.  Another component for remaining competitive with the Warriors is speed.  Those guys are lighting fast.  They remind me of “Show Time” with Magic and the Lakers.

The matchup that will be very interesting to watch is the Spurs and Warriors.  The Spurs are an older team but Pop is the best coach in the league and if anyone can beat the Warriors without playing their game is the Spurs so that’s the game to watch.




Is Kobe Bryant an Asset or a Liability to the Los Angeles Lakers?

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There have been several articles written about Kobe Bryant and the hold he has on the Lakers management and their inability to lure top talent to the team because of him.  Is that really true?  I have had numerous conversations with men, who have the same mindset and believe that Kobe is the driving force behind the Lakers not being able to win.

Sports analysts and people in general get great pleasure out of throwing the players under the bus for the demise of a team, when the truth of the matter is they have no control over the checkbook nor do they have any real decision making power.  Yes, the superstar of the team may be asked to meet with potential teammates or asked their opinion on players but at the end of the day the decision is not up to them.  That said, once these players take the floor together a dynamic may playout that does not always workout but that’s the nature of the game and it’s the responsibility of the coach to manage the personalities.

If one person is the reason for a team not being able to win, then that’s the reason for all of the losing teams around the League.  One person cannot make or break a team.  It is a combination of things.  Let’s start by looking at the management of the Lakers organization.

Under the leadership of Dr. Jerry Buss and Jerry West the team thrived.  In 2000, Jerry West left the Lakers after 40 years.  Jerry West tenure with the Lakers included being a player, coach, scout and general manager.  Under his reign he built a dynasty.  Because of his intricate knowledge of the game on all levels he was able to build successful teams.  It is very hard to replicate this kind of success when the knowledge base is not there.

Dr. Buss dies and the leadership of the organization plays out as follows:

Jeannie Buss:  Executive Vice President of Business Operations, President and Co-Owner

Jimmy Buss:  Assistant General Manager, Executive Vice President of Operations and Co-Owner

Mitch Kupchak:  President and General Manager

Dr. Buss had six (6) children with two different wives and the two children we hear the most about are Jeannie and Jimmy.  It is my understanding that the remaining four (4) other siblings have some form of control with respect to the team as well.  When you have a lot of siblings, money involved and no clear direction it is a recipe for disaster.

Let’s start with Jeannie Buss, who is engaged to Phil Jackson.  When Phil Jackson was hired as the Lakers coach he had been married for 26 years.  He gets’ a divorce and boom he’s dating the bosses daughter.  If you expect the siblings to be okay with that once Dr. Buss dies, think again.  Jeannie Buss grew up around the Lakers organization and has the most experience but does she have the respect of her siblings?

Jimmy Buss has not been very successful in business. He trained thoroughbred horses for a number of years, was president of the Lakers soccer team that folded and was in business with a friend that fell apart after the friend was killed in an accident.  Based on his track record, what does he bring in terms of experience to rebuilding the team?  I would say NOTHING!!!

What is the relationship between Jeannie and Jimmy Buss?  I want even begin to speculate about their relationship but the success of the team or the lack thereof under their leadership speaks volumes.

Mitch Kupchak officially became the general manager of the Lakers organization in 2000.  He is no Jerry West and we can’t expect him to be.  However, Jerry West was his mentor before he was promoted to GM so there is an expectation that his decisions over the years should have been better.  Based on what’s been going on with the Lakers his decision making leaves people “shaking their heads.”  One caveat to this is Jimmy Buss, who is the co-general manager and it’s unclear what role he’s playing in the decision making process.  All I can say is his lack of experience speaks for itself so if he’s providing feedback on players, Lord help the team.

Now to answer the question of whether Kobe is an asset or a liability; my answer is he’s an asset.  He brings experience, passion and a strong work ethic to the team.  Having Kobe on the team, keeps fans in the seats.  People still enjoy watching him play, regardless of whether they like him or not.  It is my understanding the he’s not very tolerant of players that are not as serious as he is about the game.  The truth be told no one wants to work with slackers no matter what the job is.  Is it possible that his passion turns his teammates off?  Of course, but the coach has to manage this.  Also, Kobe is playing with men who are capable of standing up for themselves.

My recommendation to fans is to stop blaming Kobe Bryant and look at the management of the team.  Albeit, there is nothing that can be done about the management of the team because it is what it is but stop placing the blame on the person with the least amount of power.  I know it makes for a good sound bite to say Kobe Bryant is the reason the team is not successful but it’s just not the truth.





Peeling Back the Onion on NFL Contracts Causes Some People to Cry

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People of are the misguided belief that football players in the NFL make a boat load of money and that they’re being greedy when they hold out for more.  Once I started investigating NFL contracts and comparing them to NBA and MLB contracts I was blown away by the disparity and injustice of the pay scale.  I decided that’s it’s time to peel back the layers of the onion on NFL contracts and show fans what’s really happening to these men.  Honestly, the majority of them are not being paid for the hazardous work they do.  If you are not Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, the money is funny.

One thing to consider is that statics show the average playing career for a football player is approximately three (3) years unless he is a super star and does not receive a career ending injury.  Of the 53 man roster, most fans only know the name of the quarterback, wide receiver, tight end and running back.  There are the Richard Sherman’s and J.J. Watts but they are few and far between.  Football is a violent sport with the highest propensity for injuries of all the professional sports.  A lot of the contracts the players enter into NEVER materialize and the management knows from the onset that they have no intention of honoring these deals.  I will continue to cry foul on the NFLPA because the leadership is poor and is not working in the best interest of the players.

I have said it before and I will say it again, Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the NFL, is guaranteed a salary of $44,000,000 a year and his head and body is not being busted up.  Keep in mind the $44M is just his salary it is not inclusive of bonuses, which I’m sure he receives.  The NFL is a well-oiled machine, there is no reason to pay Goodell this kind of money and only pay the players peanuts who are putting their minds and body on the line.

The owners in the NFL are the wealthiest of all the professional sports.  The average ticket prices for the professional sports are as follows:

NFL — $84.00

NHL — $62.00

NBA — $54.00

MLB — $30.00

Get this:  the NFL team with the highest ticket price for the 2014 season was the New England Patriots so not only do they cheat to win but they rip off their fans, call the Police!!! I CRY FOUL!!!

The NFL 2015 league minimum pay for players depending on their years in the league is as follows:

0 $435,000
1 $510,000
2 $585,000
3 $660,000
4-6 $745,000
7-9 $870,000
10+ $970,000

NBA 2015 League Minimum Pay:

Years in NBA  2015-16
0  $525,093
1  $845,059
2  $947,276
3  $981,348
4  $1,015,421
5  $1,100,602
6  $1,185,784
7  $1,270,964
8  $1,356,146
9  $1,362,897
10+  $1,499,187

MLB minimum pay for 2015 is $507,500, years don’t matter because players receive a cost of living increase each year they’re in the league.  Therefore, the league minimum is primarily for players new the league.

As you can see, as the layers of the onion are peeled back, NFL players are not being paid anywhere close to their counterparts in other professional sports.  Please, I know what they’re been paid is nothing to thumb your nose at but put it in perspective, the sport is violent, a lot of them have ended up with early onset Dementia and Alzheimer’s or other debilitating ailments that the average person does not encounter.  Keep in mind you’re looking at “gross” before Uncle Sam takes his cut and the agent.

For instance, the league minimum for one year is $510,000, ½ goes to Uncle Sam, now he player is at $255,000, less another 15% to the agent $38,250 so the player’s net pay over 16 games is $216,750. Put that in the hands of a young man that has never had a dime in his life and he broke and delivering pizza during the off season and praying he gets’ picked up for the next season.   Don’t add a “baby mama” in the mix.

See how peeling back the onion can make you cry.



Cavaliers vs. Warriors: It’s Strategy Time

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Listening to the analysts during the NBA Finals opine on what the players are or are not doing in the game just plain irks me.  I have a very different perspective on the game.  The NBA finals are the best of the best and that’s why these two teams are playing for the championship.   Yes, the teams have their superstars and role players but at the end of the day it’s a chess match and it comes down to who is the better coach.

In Games 1 and 2 of the Championship series Stephen Curry and LeBron James had the following stats, respectively:

Curry:                    Game 1                              Game 2

Scored:                 26 Points                              19

Rebounds:           4                                             6

Assist:                   8                                             5

Fouls:                    1                                             4

Turnovers:           4                                             6

James:                  Game 1                                 Game 2

Scored:                 44                                           39

Rebounds:          8                                              16

Assist:                   6                                             11

Fouls:                    2                                              3

Turnovers:           4                                             3

Blocked Shots:                                                    1

Steals:                                                                   1

I’m showing the stats of Curry and James because they are the “Super Stars” of the teams.  However, this blog is not about Curry or James it’s about the coaching that is taking place.  As you can see, LeBron had better stats in both games than Curry but the Warriors managed to pull out the win in game 1.  Of course, we all know that the entire team has to be involved in order to win so I don’t  need to hear that from anyone.

Game 2 was just as intense of a nail bitter, so what was the difference you ask?  The difference was the coaching.  At this juncture the coach has to make adjustments in order to win and that is what Coach David Blatt did.

The media analysts are saying, Step Curry made bad shots, or LeBron upped his game.  Albeit the players’ performance definitely impacts the game, the difference in this series will come down to making the right coaching moves.  Curry, LeBron and the rest of their teammates are going to play hard to win but in order for the Cavaliers to have a chance at winning the championship, it was important to find a player that could stick to Curry and that’s what Coach Blatt did.  Coach Blatt went back, looked at the tape and gave serious thought to how to knock Curry off his game and what player matched up well enough to do that.

It was smart of Coach Blatt to put a player on Curry whose primary job was to interrupt Curry’s flow.  That type of play calling is critical when you’re playing for the trophy.  Although, Coach Blatt made adjustments it was still a tough game but the Cavs pulled out the win.  At this stage in the series it comes down to coaching and Coach Steve Kerr should have anticipated that Coach Blatt would make changes to the Cavs defensive scheme.  Coach Kerr went for the “hack-a-player” strategy, which I absolutely abhor.  My belief is that a team disrupts the flow of the game not only for the other team but for itself as well.  When teams did it to Shaq it didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now.  Stop doing that, it is STUPID and annoying to the fans!!!! 

It is my understanding that Coach Popovich uses this strategy but he only uses it when the Spurs are ahead and need to build on the lead.  In my opinion, this is formula is a crap shoot and not a strategy for winning games for any team and that includes the Spurs.  Coaches need to coach in order to win.  The NBA Finals are the ultimate chess game for a team and the coaches must be able to anticipate the moves of the opposing team.  It was critical for Cleveland to come away with a win in Oakland and they did it so now it’s Coach Kerr’s move.




What Happened to the Houston Rockets?

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Wow, the Houston Rockets just ran out of steam in game 4.  I watched the game truly perplexed that Kevin McHale used the “hack-a-Jordan” as a strategy for the game.  It did not work when teams used it against Shaquille O’Neal and it’s not going to be a viable formula against the Clippers.  The Rockets were completely out of synch and fouls became the norm.

They were not getting rebounds or second chance shots after missed shots off the backboard.  The Rockets are a better team than what we’re seeing in this playoff series.  If they want to win game five, focus on more touch passes and getting the ball in the hands of someone other than James Harden.  At times during the game, it was as if James Harden was the only player on the floor.  James Harden is amazing but in order for the team to win games the entire squad has to be involved in the game and that’s not happening.

I can’t stand when a player takes the ball and dribbles all over the court instead of passing it around and trying to get the best shot.  James Harden, stop doing that and get your teammates involved.  That would be okay, if his dribbling and shooting garnered more than 26 points.  No one on the team scored more than 12 points with the exception of Dwight Howard, who scored 16 points, BOO!!!

Dwight Howard, Dwight Howard, Dwight Howard, what can I say except he is just not well respected by his peers and that’s unfortunate because when they start jawing at him on the court he becomes unglued and unable to focus.  He was ultimately ejected from the game, which I didn’t agree with.  I don’t believe players should be ejected from the game during the playoffs because tempers are flaring and the level of competitiveness is at an all-time high.  There needs to be more flexibility with the rule on ejecting players.  Unless, it is a bench clearing brawl, let them play!!!


OMG – What is wrong with the New York Knicks?

Let me start by saying the New York Knicks have only won two NBA Championships, 1970 and 1973 and the franchise has been around since 1949.  Although, the team is not known for winning championships, it is known for being competitive and making the playoffs.  The Knicks have not been in the playoffs since 2011.

One would think with Phil Jackson as the GM things would start to turn around.  However, the team has not improved.  This is Derek Fisher’s first year as a head coach, so there are bound to be some hiccups.  The decision was made to bring Carmelo Anthony in to be the face of the franchise.  Should that expectation be placed on Carmelo?  In my opinion, a “franchise” player is the person that elevates the game of the players around him.  The “franchise” player makes everyone better.  In light of the fact that Carmelo has been in the league for 12 years, he should be able to give his teammates the lift needed to be a contender.

Albeit Carmelo is probably the best player on the team, does he have what it takes to motivate the players around him?  Here is something to ponder:  Carmelo was suffering from an injury during the “All-Star” game.  He played in the game knowing that he was injured and was planning to have surgery.  A mature selfless franchise player would have bowed out and given someone else the opportunity to play in the game and not run the risk of further injury.  He has played in several “All-Star” games so there was no reason not to give another player the opportunity.  If this was a game that mattered, it would make sense to take chance but it didn’t.  A good leader understands the importance of allowing someone else to share the spotlight.

Carmelo has a lot to offer a team but is it the role of a franchise player or a role player?