The Hidden Door Revealing October

Day 15 of the NBA lockout has come upon us. The last time I wrote we were somewhere between free agency and opening night, captivating a new season in 2010. Lebron was ready to set foot on new hardwood. The storyline was painted so vividly for you to see played out over 82 games. How else do fans around the world hold onto the night when Lebron became something other than a superstar? He was ready to “embrace” the villain role. It seems like only yesterday had we waited so long for last season until it came and went.

Look where we are now; July 15th 2011. No season to be heard of and the last I heard Kobe went to China. Sounds like the same story for big ticket superstars like Tony Parker, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Dirk Nowitzki. No wait, they’re ready to continue on in David Stern’s league. NBA players do prefer $10 million+ per season in America rather than a ridiculous $5 million or less. The players require it from the league to live such an expensive lifestyle. They expect good money from the league where they knowingly run the league. Do you honestly think for one second guys who are making between $5 to $10 million on average per season want to leave the United States of America to play overseas? Yeah, I didn’t think so either. Risking injury, let alone anything else that could possibly go wrong. Players have the NBA’s upper hand in a sense that they make up the league. The greatest players on Earth breathe life into the NBA every year. Deeper into the bench are your overpaid chumps. Not to name any names; it’s clear they out duel what FIBA’s player pool has to offer. David Stern is sitting on a land mine each and every day.

Like Lebron, it’s easy to fall into the category of the bad guy. Not to get off topic any; look at the countless examples of professional athletes wrecking their fan base. Michael Vick is on his way back, Kobe patched hole after hole like nothing ever happened, same with Tom Brady. Tiger Woods has received royal treatment through his ups and downs, never mind that. This isn’t the first list of athletes who screwed up, and not the last. It’s easy to hate, but Lebron’s “Decision’” clearly hit home to many fans. Fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers are some of the best fans you will ever see. It takes heart to reach “verified fan” level. Fans are still fans of the team they love any way you put it. Now, put aside ranking fans for a second. When these people go out of their way to burn Lebron jersey’s and hate and hate and hate, it matters. This is what shaped the NBA and professional sports into what it is today.

OK, getting back on topic. Let’s take a look at David Stern. His history as captain of the NBA is not good. Does he care about his resume? No, not at all. With vast amounts of money at his disposal comes power. If you belong to his league you follow his rules. David J. Stern stamped his name on the NBA long ago, now it’s time to do something about it. The future doesn’t look bright heading into October. Mr. Stern can and will do the unthinkable to keep everything in his favor.

When ends met, let David Stern’s true colors shine bright once again. The business aspect of it is a lot to handle for anyone. I feel David Stern had no business writing off on the last CBA with no room to spare for the economic hardship we are going through.

#1: The NBA cannot do business without the players association.

#2 When the players set money aside and realize; hey I won’t get paid without owners and a functioning league.

Simple enough? No, not really. There’s never going to be a perfect CBA. Revenue cannot land in the hands of one side; it must be handed out piece by piece. Players feel empowered enough to argue they should continue putting their hand in the pot and leaving little to spare for the owners. Owners have to deal with hard economic times and fork out money to those rightful parties. Players get guaranteed money while owners sit back and wait for the money to be made. Considering all of the above, right off the bat there’s no middle ground. David Stern sat back and watched his bridge to a new CBA collapse. Where to go from here? There’s little to no helping hand left for the owners who fail to fulfill economic expectations time and time again. Relying on new owners doesn’t get it done either. Wherever the problem lies from the past, it always haunts a new owner finding no solution.

Let’s not take for granted the numbers of teams who absolutely have to be losing money. The NBA is top heavy. Why refuse to believe me when you can check the standings from years past. Think of five NBA teams and immediately you’ll realize they are the teams who show up on national TV broadcasts the most, fan merchandise is easy to come by, tickets are pricey for just about any game at any time. While the majority of consumers maintain interest in the best teams the NBA has to offer, they fail to consider what happens to the rest.

Until we pinpoint who’s at fault here, there’s going to be no basketball played next season. I’m writing this one day after the NBA let go of 114 workers. Before you jump on Google, this has no relationship to the lockout. None at all, according to Stern. I’d rather not be the one to speak loudly on such an issue, but David Stern has work to do, papers to be filed, notes to be written, and people to be paid. There’s a reason the NBA employs thousands of workers, seats millions upon millions of fans per season, and makes billions upon billions of dollars. The NBA is 21st century entertainment, its pure business; it makes the world go round.

For the millions of people out there invested in something greater than FIBA, our hopes, and our dreams are a deal will get done before the season goes away. Ultimately the owners or players do not get what they wanted going into negotiations. A new CBA entails far more complicated issues than that. Neither side wants a lockout. Business doesn’t work that way. If you’ve heard owners not wanting to agree on a new CBA to covet finances, well you are far mislead. Name after name, organization after organization relies on the NBA to do business. Players and owners rely on annual paychecks when the time comes. The key to opening the hidden door means whoever holds out the longest ultimately wins. It doesn’t help to add up numbers and say [blank] side lost. The owners bring in more money than the players. They have more to leverage and more time to spare. The players are banking on if they can hold out longer, then the owners step up and deal. If this holds true or not, the owners are prepared to wait out an entire season while players fill in the gaps.

I personally believe the NBA has no other option than to implement a hard cap. From there larger contracts go away, you will never again see 3 superstars occupying one franchise, and smaller markets begin to flourish with all the rest. I think it’s time for Stern to step up and do his duties. I may be asking too much. Until then no more games are to be played. Players have run the league for an eternity it seems. Smaller markets have nothing to gain. Stern promoted his league for his interest. It’s time for a new CBA to meet the requirements of the entire league. Equality through the league opens up a whole new world.

The NBA as it stands is broken. This era is about making money, being the best, and rising to the occasion. Has David Stern not yet found what he is so desperately searching for? Yes and No. The NBA is doing business while failing to meet the outline of economic reality today. The only winning system is one in which players and owners have control. When all parties are doing successful business, the NBA thrives somewhat flawlessly. So who’s going to be the winner? We all lose if the NBA freezes for one full go around.

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Ticky-Tacky-Technical

I’m sure you are well aware of the new technical foul rule in the NBA. Players from all 30 teams are to follow by the same conduct or receive a technical foul for their actions. No throwing your arms up in the air, no fist pumping, finger pointing, and don’t even think about questioning the guy with the whistle. When the whistle is blown, you live with the call. As a fan, it’s hard enough to continue watching the game when a bad call turns momentum, but it’s an aspect of the game that must live on. Whether the whistle is blown for a justifiable reason or not, the referee must hit your team with a blown call at some point.

Executive’s around David Stern say it’s better for the league, well is it? Three weeks have passed in a new season, with new rules. Controversy, which lived inside the game, is no longer resolved as it happens. Who’s going to be the first to step up and say this is a problem. One distinct tweak has only brought more of a dispute around the league. Players, spectators, commentators know it’s a problem. You watch the NBA, you know about it. The league took away players simple freedom as an athlete. Players are humans, so are refs, we get it. Why make a rule to ban harmless frustration? Most calls are given no compensation when a player pleads his case to begin with.

So, where’s the problem? It’s created less enjoyment for the fans and because the rule change lies in the hands of the league office, how does this help a slowly worsening economy for pro basketball, known as the NBA. Professional basketball is centered on the NBA. David Stern’s league is professional basketball in a nut-shell. One questionable rule change is punishing to the league and everyone invested in it.

It’s been a known issue when flaring tempers get out of hand. The NBA wants to control a player’s temper. Look back to the old rule. One player after another was penalized with a technical foul they undoubtedly deserved. Now where are we? Technical fouls are piling up almost as quickly as a regular two shot personal foul. There is no longer any kind of discussion solely between a referee and the athlete. The athlete’s emotions are being limited and affecting performance on the court. The rule is mocking professional competition. NBA teams are full of world class talent from top to bottom. Just one year ago, any given player controlled their own universe on the court. Look where it’s gone; into the league’s hands. Players worry about using up 6 fouls, ejections, fines, and killing confidence. They don’t just worry about playing the game. Individual players have a lot more to pay attention to than playing basketball.

Rasheed Wallace, a 15 year veteran, now retired, famous for his post-call reactions, plastered his name on the new rule for the most part. Rasheed Wallace leaves a vivid memory during his time in the NBA. To fans, his uncontrollable anger directed at the referees started all of this. The Boston Celtics play a different brand of basketball than most other teams. It’s non-stop, physical, hardnosed basketball executed for all 48 minutes, with no sense of urgency. Sure, there are other teams with the same attitude, but the Celtics stand out as being a team with a no quit attitude, willing to break the rules to win a basketball game. The league as a whole should expect this from all 30 teams, now it’s gone. A winning style in the NBA looks the exact opposite of what the rule shows. Every player is treated in accordance to the new rule. There’s no emotion during a play, big or small. Looking at the bigger picture; players are purposely losing their temper to pick up a cheap technical, bringing more attention to an emotion-less swing in the game.

The NBA thought a change was necessary in the off season. As far as I can see, the decision wasn’t thought over. Referees were tired of doing their job. The league doesn’t want to see world class athlete’s act like professionals. Arguing a call is a part of the game.  A call is only thoroughly reviewed under two minutes, leaving a player with one small advantage. That’s not enough. Referees and players have had noticeable conversations during the game about specific calls. The new rule kills hope to get a call right. One rule has made the NBA a  non-player friendly league with no questions asked.

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Where the NBA’s Biggest Free Agents Could Land

The biggest free agent market in all of sports is about to unfold in July. Names including Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, Joe Johnson, Dirk Nowitzki, David Lee, etc could all be switching places in July if an offer to stay isn’t accepted.

Ray Allen and Shaquille O’Neal might be interested in moving places but both players have only a few more seasons to go in the NBA before retirement. Don’t count them out of the free agent party; it seems that their best bet would be staying put. Along with Shaquille O’Neal and Ray Allen Dwayne Wade, Yao Ming, Paul Pierce, Luis Scola, John Salmons, Brendan Haywood, JJ Redick, Jordan Farmar, Randy Foye, and Kyle Lowry could be staying in the same city.

Dirk Nowitzki on the other hand has been in Dallas his entire career and the Mavericks aren’t ready to lose their franchise player. If Dirk wanders away from the Mavericks, any plans of contending are out of the questions, unless Mark Cuban finds a new superstar to come to Dallas.

The Knicks desperately want Lebron but its obvious Lebron doesn’t want to sign with the Knicks when he has better options in front of him. Chicago has loads of young talent already and with addition of one big man – Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, or Carlos Boozer and Lebron James the Chicago Bulls are a true contender in the East. Miami isn’t about to let go of Dwayne Wade and although the Heat wouldn’t be able to sign much other than Lebron James,  Dwayne Wade and Lebron James could make a deadly combo in South Beach. The only other real option for Lebron is going to the Los Angeles Clippers and giving Kobe a run for his money, partnering with rookie Blake Griffin and veteran guard Baron Davis.

Where the rest could land:

Joe Johnson to the New York Knicks is a very likely scenario if New York falls short of the Lebron sweepstakes. David Lee to the Nets teaming up with center Brook Lopez would give the Nets one of the best front court’s in the NBA. Big men Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, and Carlos Boozer have a small chance of staying in their respective cities while going to Chicago or Miami isn’t out of the question.

Other notable restricted free agents:

Rudy Gay, Josh Childress, Tyrus Thomas, Ronnie Brewer, Linas Kleiza, Wesley Matthews

Other notable unrestricted free agents: Raymond Felton, Udonis Haslem, Richard Jefferson, Travis Outlaw, Nate Robinson, Al Harington, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Mike Miller, Matt Barnes, Josh Howard, Jermaine O’Neal, Steve Blake, Amir Johnson, Luke Ridnour, Kyle Korver, Channing Frye, Roger Mason Jr, Matt Bonner, Tony Allen, Brad Miller, and Carlos Arroyo.

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2010 NBA Draft – Where the Rookies Should End Up

The 2010 NBA Draft is this Thursday June 24 and the hottest topic of the draft is focused on where the 19 year old freshman out of Kentucky will play his first season in the NBA. The standout point guard played on a powerful Wildcat team under John Calipari and Kentucky was anything but undermanned from top to bottom. The ‘Cats leading scorer John Wall (16.6ppg) and company fell short to the West Virginia Mountaineers after finishing the season with 3 losses and 35 wins. Along with Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton are all projected to go in the top 20.

So let’s get down to business. The Washington Wizards have the number one overall pick in the draft and if Wall isn’t heading to D.C. the Wizards could be targeting Ohio State’s Evan Turner who some think will be a bigger impact in the NBA. While John Wall will have a huge role in Washington as the starting point guard with only one year’s experience in college, he could live up to the hype. The top two picks in the draft are without a question decided since the lottery was over.

Now to the next 3 top prospects in the 2010 draft. The New Jersey Nets had the best odds of securing the number one pick but it wasn’t just handed to them. New Jersey fell all the way to number three where the first big man could land. Freshman power forward Derrick Favors could give New Jersey size and a big to work alongside Devin Harris. The newest member of the Nets staff, Avery Johnson is waiting for the 6-10, 245 Favors to possibly replace Yi Jianlian and compliment center Brook Lopez down low.

Kentucky’s powerful big man DeMarcus Cousins going number four would be a huge plus for the ugliest franchise in the NBA with virtually nothing to build from. If a strong rookie season isn’t in sight, Cousins could be a building block that the Timberwolves lack. Domination is in Cousins’ blood, although he is largely overweight for a 6’11’’ power forward, losing 20 pounds wouldn’t be a bad idea. His biggest strength is scoring towards the rim and grabbing boards, averaging almost 10 a game at Kentucky.

The Sacramento Kings wouldn’t mind improving at the small forward position with Syracuse’s Wesley Johnson. Upgrading from 30 year old Andres Nocioni would give Tyreke Evans help scoring the basketball. Johnson is a lean but skillful forward able to use his high release to pull up for a three. He has very good foot work and with a combination of speed, high basketball I.Q., and quick hands he is sometimes unstoppable and hard to defend.

Late Draft Steals:

Cole Aldrich came from a very talented championship Duke team. He has fallen in the draft because teams are questioning his demeanor as a true NBA center. Aldrich is not quite a 7 footer but has unusually great strength for his size. He is not a solid rebounder but can maintain position under the rim for a put back and is overall an absolute lock down defender especially closing out on perimeter shooters.

Arguably the most explosive scorer in the draft – Jordan Crawford can score in bunches and do it in a hurry. He gets to the line on a regular basis, but isn’t comfortable pushing the ball on the fast break. His agility, ball handling skills, and ability to finish at the rim is above average and definitely the most underrated part of his game. He has several downsides including lack of strength to draw a charge and he plays better in a half court set.

Darington Hobson out of New Mexico is projected to go early to mid second round while most believe he’s being overlooked and could go late in the first round. He is far from a second round pick with the look of a point guard in a forward’s body. While playing the 3 in college, Hobson will be nothing more than a guard in the NBA. He is a sneaky rebounder because of his size –able to angle his way into the paint and snatch easy rebounds over bigger players. His range is limited and he is mainly a mid-range shooter; nothing consistent over 15 feet.  His main strength is driving to the rim and finishing strong. Hobson’s main plus on the defensive end is forcing turnovers.

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Celtics – Lakers The NBA’s Biggest Rivalry (NBA Finals Preview)

The two most winningest franchises’ have owned the NBA’s spotlight for years winning more than half of the championships awarded since the league was started in 1946. Since then 63 champions have been awarded. The rivalry dates back all the way to 1959 when the Lakers and Celtics met up in the NBA Finals for the first time. The Boston Celtics swept the Minneapolis Lakers that year 4 games to none.

The Los Angeles Lakers have been outnumbered in championships won facing Boston in the NBA Finals. This was the first of eleven times that the Lakers and Celtics met up in the NBA Finals and LA has won only 2 titles in this heated rivalry against the Celtics.

The Celtics persevered during the Regular Season with a healthy Kevin Garnett. Finishing fourth in the Eastern Conference with a record of 50-32 the Celtics struggles continued throughout the season but not into the playoffs. After finishing Miami off in 5, Cleveland in 6 and Orlando likely in 4 games the Celtics have their path paved to the NBA Finals. In 08’ the Celtics defeated the top seeded Lakers in the West in 6 games leaving Lakers fans puzzled all around the world.

Phil Jackson could be at the end of his career coaching the Lakers and he may just want one more ring to add to his collection. With the addition of Ron Artest he could be the key to keeping Paul Pierce in check through the Finals. Andrew Bynum’s health continues to be a problem for Los Angeles and all of this will play a factor in the upcoming NBA Finals.

Looking back into time from Magic Johnson to Larry Bird, to Bill Russell to James Worthy, to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Paul Pierce, the NBA and its fans love this rivalry which has never disappointed and hopefully never will. This rivalry keeps on keeping on. But will it this year? Will the Celtics and Lakers meet up in the NBA Finals for the twelfth time in the History of the NBA? Both teams will have something to say in the long awaited renewal to this fantastic rivalry, but who will come out on top, regretting nothing and sending the other team home in harmony?

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Top Ten Plays of the 2010 NBA Regular Season

You’ll be amazed to see some of the greatest moments of the regular season re-lived again. Check it out and comment if you like.

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Lebron James in Hollywood?

Lebron James is a free agent in 2010 and he won’t play for an outright bad team. Crazier things could happen this summer especially with hints of a lock out in 2011, and who said the Lakers couldn’t make it even crazier? The Knicks front office has free agents like Amare Stoudemire and Chris Bosh on the bottom of the list while Lebron James is at the very top of New York’s priority list to improve this summer.

The Lakers have not ruled out the possibly of Lebron coming to Los Angeles but want to be included in free agents talks with the King. Don’t count out the possibly, but the Lakers have to worry about technicalities that could play into this signing if the deal goes down. Signing Lebron would assure a spot in the starting lineup, obviously. The real issue is Lebron’s salary. If he’s willing to take little or no pay to be alongside Kobe in Los Angeles he might get his first ring.

Phil Jackson would love to team up Kobe Bryant and Lebron James and someone is bound to pick up the legacy which Kobe will leave behind sooner or later.

For the deal to be done the Lakers must convince the Cavaliers to a sign-and-trade deal which would lower Lebron’s overall salary and the Cavaliers wouldn’t walk away empty handed. Then Lebron is free to walk away from Cleveland and go back to work in Los Angeles.

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