Saturday, July 14, 2007


I want to hate on Maurice Williams. For making the Heat squirm while awaiting his decision, and for choosing the money over the potential to win a championship. I know I'm probably giving the Heat too much credit to believe that one point guard can put this team back on the path to the 2008 NBA Finals. I mean, Mo ain't Jason Kidd. But that's what fans do: they believe the improbable.

The pundits are hatin' on Rashard Lewis. Again, for "taking franchise money" even when he obviously ain't franchise talent. The Magic will be fun to watch (I'm a big fan of Stan Van Gundy and believe he'll get the best out of the guys he's coaching), but they are still a 7 or 8 seed in the East even with the 110 million dollar man (and 80 million dollar boy).

Everybody's hatin' on Stevie "Franchise" Francis. How the hell did he get a $30 million buy out of a $33 million contract. What, is the Portland franchise that stupid? Buy outs are supposed to be "pennies on the dollar", right? Dude hasn't played that well since his 2nd or 3rd season in the league, and now he'll probably get 2-3 million dollars more to not play for another team, probably Houston.

When you get right down to it, though, I'm extremely happy for the player who can convince team ownership to overpay for the talent they employ. Recognize the NBA as the corporation that it is. Most owners of NBA teams also own other multimillion dollar companies. In fact, the teams are their side business in many cases. The team is just one of the entities that they invest in for profit. These men are worth 10 times the salaries they pay the players. These folks also will own these teams for decades, and in some cases generations, having acquired them from their daddies and in turn plan to pass them down to their sons (and daughters). The NBA team is a 401(K) for these guys, paying annuities to them and their heirs. The earning potential of a player in this game is what, 5-7 years on average? And if, as I suggest in a previous post, they have not really been prepared to pursue another career path, they will leave the workforce at around age 30-33. Think about that for a second--they will have to provide for themselves and their families for another 40 or 50 years off of the money they've earned over a 10 year (and that's being generous) period. The point is that the earning potential for an NBA player is a LOT shorter than the earnings over the life of an NBA team owner and his heirs.

So, no way am I going to begrudge Williams, Lewis, Francis or Carter the "overpayment" they received on recent contracts. They should be able to provide for their heirs too, since their performance on the basketball court helps take care of generations of Paul Allens, Richard De Voses, Jerry Busses, Mickey Arisons, Herb Kohls, James Dolans, etc., etc,

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

C'Mon, Mo. It's South Beach!

We should learn today (or not) whether Mo Williams wants to play for a title with Shaq and DWade or if he wants an extra $10 million to play in cold, desolate-assed Milwaukee. Okay, Milwaukee may be nice, with great restaurants and the arts (who knew?), but it's not South Beach, man! Besides, he can sign with the Heat for five years with the final two years a player's option. That way, when Shaq's ginormous contract is off the books Mo can opt out and re-sign for more dollars. Sound like a plan?? C'mon, Mo. It's South Beach, man. More media exposure, a chance at a chip or two or three, and remember Florida has no state tax. I'll buy my MoWil jersey tomorrow.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Oh, the irony...

It was a weird day. June 28, 2007 and I’m looking forward to the NBA draft and all the craziness that goes down between teams, with trades—you take this guy for me and I’ll take that guy for you—unexpected picks, and always a few WTFs in there, too. Even when watching on TV you can feel the nervous energy in the room running through both players and their families and friends. This year, I couldn’t wait to hear who Atlanta would select with the 3rd and the 11th pick. That’s a team whose fans have truly suffered through some horrendous years and strange draft picks and trades. I was hoping that this would be the year that the team would finally select the right players to add to a young talented squad led by Joe Johnson and the high-flying Josh Smith. A low post player (Al Horford) and a play-making point guard (Acie Law IV) would certainly have the potential to round out this Hawks team and finally bring some excitement to the ATL. And of course there’s the Heat, my favorite team. Who will Riley and Pfund select with the 20th pick to inject some youth into this geriatric, uninspired team? Will a point guard with the ability to be a rotation player this year, be available? Or how about one of the talented wing players; would one of them for whatever reason drop down to number 20? So many questions to be answered on that night.

So, while I’m watching the preliminaries on ESPN, I’m doing my usual flipping back and forth to the news channels—CNN, Link TV, MSNBC—and I see scrolling at the bottom of the screen that the Supreme Court, in their final decision to end this year’s court session, has voted 5-4 to effectively bring to an end the Brown v. Board of Education decision, which more than 50 years ago sought to end segregation in public schools. The landmark decision which held the promise of quality education for every child and the subsequent opening of economic opportunities previously afforded only to whites. The decision given in the two cases—Parents Involved in Community Schools Inc. v. Seattle School District and Meredith v. Jefferson County (Ky.) Board of Education—brought to an end two programs in Seattle, Washington and Louisville, Kentucky that attempted to maintain diversity in public high schools by using race as one of several factors to determine school assignments. In both cases, the school districts’ policies were intended to maintain integrated schools in the face of racially segregated neighborhoods.
(A good place to start for more thorough analysis of the decision and it’s potential impact:

You know that little head drop to your chest that you do when a player on the opposing team drops a 3 on your team right at the buzzer to win the game? Do you know that feeling? Do you? That’s exactly what I felt when I heard this decision. Well, I’ll be damned!

So, I turn back to the draft coverage and Portland is on the clock and we all know who’s gonna be the pick and I am so happy for Greg Oden and his family and damn, this shit is really sinking in now. These young men and their families are but 60 of the thousands and thousands of kids and their families that have hoop dreams because they’ve really had very little choice but to dream of athletic success. Many come from neighborhoods in the U.S. urban centers whose public schools have been de facto segregated for the past two decades, with very poor resources, over-crowded classrooms, over-worked teachers and administrators, dilapidated facilities, and the general malaise of the politicians mandated to do something about this reality. What kind of education can possibly go on in such conditions? What kind of opportunities can kids attending these schools dream about? No child left behind. Really?

Then the irony hits—this year’s draft was the first one after the League’s decision to force youngster’s to wait one year after graduating high school to enter the draft, the stated assumption being that these players would spend at least one year in college. I won’t argue here the pros and cons of the league’s decision. I’ll save that for another post. But what seems significant to me is the fact that the reasoning behind this decision by the league has more to do with “seasoning” a player—so that the “quality” of the NBA product doesn’t decrease—than it does with any concern that the player benefit from the educational environment that attendance at one of the nation’s colleges or universities presents, and indeed critics (particularly those administrators and coaches from the collegiate ranks) have argued that this decision is bad, very bad for college sports programs. Coaches know that the most talented kids will only play one year for the program before bolting for the NBA, making these coaches in essence assembly-line foremen, recruiting the next young talent to keep their programs winning. And though I am sure there are some who are committed to getting a degree, how many of these young men really commit themselves to furthering their education, when the education they’ve received to this point hasn’t equipped them with the basic tools necessary to compete in college classrooms?

So, I’m watching the NBA draft on June 28, 2007 and I hear some talking head go on about
Morris Almond of Rice University and that he’s a senior and he is a little too old (!) and too close to his prime and that he shouldn’t have stayed in school so long and he’s truly a “student-athlete” and somehow that’s a bad thing because it “dropped his stock”. WTF!! What’s wrong with this picture, when a young man can’t have “hoop dreams” and “degree dreams” at the same time? It was a weird day.