Hip Hop shows creativity, business acumen born from struggle (Part II)

Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and Puffy are 3 of the most successful Hip Hop artists and have used savvy business sense to amass considerable wealth.

Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and Sean “Puffy” Combs are 3 of the most successful Hip Hop artists and have used savvy business sense to amass considerable wealth.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Hip Hop is a global phenomenon that has become profitable in a myriad of ways to give an example of how monumental the culture really is. While Hip Hop music continues to be dissected and scrutinized for its content and imagery, remnants of Hip Hop can be recognized in more places than ever. Moguls like Puffy, 50 Cent, and Jay-Z deserve praise for the business mode and financial growth they show. As Hip Hop celebrates 40 years of existence, it is clear that the momentum generated by the genre’s pioneers is sustained by those who continue to embrace and expand on their vision.

Russell Simmons was ahead of his time and helped fuel the spread of Hip Hop culture on the big and small screen.

Russell Simmons was ahead of his time and helped fuel the spread of Hip Hop culture on the big and small screen.

In terms of Hip Hop pioneers, Russell Simmons stands out because his vision to spread Hip Hop to multiple audiences established a model that is still in use today. Simmons had the foresight to create the movie Krush Groove which showed what he went through in establishing his record label, Def Jam while developing opportunities for his brother, Rev Run of Run DMC. Simmons also helped with the explosion of black comedy on television with his Def Comedy Jam series.

Simmons’ exploits became a blueprint for others within Hip Hop to recognize that the music was just the beginning of the connection Hip Hop would make to audiences around the world. Simmons started his own clothing line, Phat Farm, as he continued to grow his empire. Simmons, who is also an author, said n a recent interview, “When you have a voice, you use it, if you can…So, as a person who runs a company, I’ve been to the Congress to promote a law, you know?”

Hip Hop artists learned early that they could use their talents in more than music. (Clockwise from top left) Rza, Method Man, LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, and Ice Cube.

Hip Hop artists learned early that they could use their talents in more than music. (Clockwise from top left) Rza, Method Man, LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, and Ice Cube.

As Hip Hop culture spread to the big and small screen, so did its artists. LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, Ice Cube, MC Lyte, Busta Rhymes, Lauryn Hill, Eminem, Rza, Method Man and Redman were among some of the many Hip Hop artists that had acting roles throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s. With varying levels of excellence, they showed that the ability to connect to an audience extended beyond having a microphone in their hands. In fact, Ice-T and Will Smith became so accomplished as actors that some forget about their contributions to Hip Hop music.

Will Smith  (top) and Ice-T (bottom) have been so successful as actors that some forget about their music careers.

Will Smith (top) and Ice-T (bottom) have been so successful as actors that some forget about their music careers.

The growth of Hip Hop culture has been beneficial to many within the music industry throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s. As the music began to be accepted in more places, the producers of the music began to rise to prominence. There were a number of producers who started music labels and grew their own brand. The appreciation for the music created opportunities for many associated with Hip Hop to develop a better business sense to protect their work, names, and brand.

Missy (top), Pharrell Williams (left) and Kanye West (right) initially earned success as producers, then became successful artists.

Missy Elliott (top), Pharrell Williams (left) and Kanye West (right) initially earned success as producers, then became successful artists.

Puffy formed Bad Boy Records, Jermaine Dupri formed So-So Def, Master P formed No Limit Records, and Birdman formed Cash Money Records. These were just a few of the lucrative labels that were responsible for some of the biggest Hip Hop hits in the 90’s and 2000’s. The success these entrepreneurs had allowed for them to have more control of their rights within the music industry and have control over who would work with them. The aforementioned label owners signed and promote local artists who might not have been accepted at other record labels.

(Clockwise from lop left) Master P, Birdman, and Jermaine Dupri were producers who started their own labels.

(Clockwise from top left) Master P, Birdman, and Jermaine Dupri are producers who started their own labels.

In addition to starting labels, it also became common for producers to become recording artists. Pharrell Williams, Missy Elliott, and Kanye West are three of the most successful producers to make the transition to artist. They acknowledge the challenge that comes with their success. Their success laid the ground work for current artists to recognize the broad range a person can have within the music industry. Current artists have adapted and used current technology to produce music and videos as they have learned the value of having as much control over their careers as possible.

“When I create something, it’s gotta be special and it can’t just be to throw something out there because I feel like I’m Missy…I gotta feel like what I’m giving the fans is 100 percent and that it’s game-changing,”  Elliott said in an interview.

TLC (top), Mariah Carey (left), and Mary J. Blige (right) will forever be associated with Hip Hop though they weren't rappers.

TLC (top), Mariah Carey (left), and Mary J. Blige (right) will forever be associated with Hip Hop though they weren’t rappers.

With Hip Hop becoming such a profitable brand, other genres of music were willing to blend with it. R&B became the most frequent collaborator with Hip Hop as producers like Teddy Riley and Dr. Dre helped lead a R&B/Hip Hop blend of music that ascended to the top of the charts throughout the 90’s and 00’s. Some of the top-selling R&B artists of the 90’s like Brandy, Monica, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, R. Kelly, Usher and TLC, openly embraced Hip Hop and became forever associated with the genre.

Today's Hip Hop stars are visible in many different platforms. (l - r) Drake, Nicki Minaj, and Lil Wayne are part of the Young Money group are among the top  selling artists of the past few years.

Today’s Hip Hop stars are visible in many different platforms. (l – r) Drake, Nicki Minaj, and Lil Wayne are part of the Young Money group and they are among the top selling artists of the past few years.

Today, Hip Hop stars have learned from their predecessors and are recognized for multiple achievements. Hip Hop moguls created clothing lines such as Sean “Puffy” Combs’ Sean John’, Jay-Z’s Roc-a-wear, Wu-Tang Clan’s Wu-Wear, and 50 Cent’s G-Unit Clothing. Drake was known as an actor before becoming a top-selling artist. Nicki Minaj became a judge on the popular music talent show, American Idol, while continuing her music career. Other artists have used YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms to grow their audiences and maintain viability in a complicated music industry.

“All we’re really doing is continuing to sell the idea that you [fans] can liberate yourself. You don’t have to follow someone else’s blueprint to be successful,” Williams said.

Dr. Dre has continued to evolve, starting as a producer and artist and is now recognized as a businessman.

Dr. Dre has continued to evolve, starting as a producer and artist and is now recognized as a very successful businessman who has partnered with other entrepreneurs to broaden his brand.

Dr. Dre’s recent $3.2 billion deal with Apple to sell his Beats By Dre brand of headphones and speakers is a sign of the continued influence of Hip Hop. The music will always be scrutinized as it continues to be the prevailing vehicle for musicians to express their thoughts about observations that are not always fun to deal with. Positive and negative images and messages within the music are no different in this genre than what is seen on television or in the movies. However, Hip Hop culture has grown in immeasurable ways, making multi-millionaires out of numerous young men and women who were just trying to find a way to express themselves.

Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Puffy, and Simmons are among the biggest names in American History because of their influence on business and entertainment, not just Hip Hop. They have set an example for others to learn from in terms of building on artistic talent to expand into business ventures. As President Barack Obama eloquently stated, “Hip Hop is not just a mirror of what is, it should also be a reflection of what can be.”  –OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Happy Father’s Day Dad, you inspire me to be my best

This will be the 33rd time so far that Charles Glover, Sr. will celebrate Father's Day.

Charles Glover, Sr. (c) will celebrate Father’s Day today, knowing that he has been exemplary with the lessons he has taught his children over the years.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

During the past week, OnPointPress has emphasized stories that recognize and appreciate fathers, leading up to this Sunday’s Father’s Day. During his weekly address yesterday,  President Barack Obama shared a sentiment that many who have had their fathers in their lives believe:

“What we give our fathers can never match what our fathers can give us.”

Dads across the country will receive an array of gifts and recognition, all of which are just small tokens of appreciation for what they do in their complex role as fathers.

My dad and I in the backyard of my parents' house.

My dad and I in the backyard of my parents’ house.

On this special day, Father’s Day, I am taking this opportunity to give a special thanks to my father, Charles Glover, Sr. I was fortunate enough to grow up with two loving parents (and two wonderful siblings). I experienced the joys of having two parents show me compassion and affection as well as tough love when necessary. As I’ve matured, I have a greater appreciation for everything my parents do. I’m especially grateful for the many lessons about manhood that I have learned from my dad.

One thing my dad repeatedly says, “If you’re casual about life you’ll become a casualty,” resonates with me constantly. That saying is my dad’s way of reminding me that I must be vigilant in pursuing my goals.

My dad is known for his sense of style as well as his work ethic.

My dad is known for his sense of style, humor and work ethic.

My dad has demonstrated the balance between working hard and being available to his family, for as long as I can remember. My dad worked long hours on the job while finding a way to be present for some of my extra-curricular activities and school events. Whether on the basketball court, golf course, pool table, or on the backyard grill, my father finds fun ways to bond with my siblings and I. I can also proudly say that my parents were present for my elementary school, high school, and college graduations.

Throughout my life, my dad has been there for me and has instilled traits and virtues in me that I can easily identify. His insistence on me pursuing my dreams has resulted in a myriad of positive experiences. I’m still pursing my dreams with the support of my family, while my dad gives extra advice and guidance. My dad has always been strong, energetic, and firm in showing his love to his children, wife, family and friends.

So this Sunday, my siblings and I want to say: Thank you Charles Glover, Sr. and Happy Father’s Day.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a husband, stepfather, sports writer and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Revisiting NFL playoff predictions for insight, context, perspective

image

By Charles Glover, Jr.

As the final week of the regular season for the National Football League(NFL) approaches this weekend, this writer will revisit predictions made about the playoff teams at the start of the season. Most of the playoff spots are currently unsettled coming into the final weekend, bringing greater excitement and interest in the season finale for NFL teams.

Peyton Manning has led the Denver Broncos to the best record (12 - 3) in the AFC so far.

Peyton Manning has led the Denver Broncos to the best record in the AFC so far.

In the American Football Conference (AFC), the four divisions have already been decided. The winners of those divisions are:

AFC West – Denver Broncos (12 – 3)

AFC East – New England Patriots (11 – 4)

AFC North – Cincinnati Bengals (10 – 5)

AFC South – Indianapolis Colts (10 – 5).

One of the two Wildcard playoff spots is going to the Kansas City Chiefs (11 – 4), while there are several teams vying for the final playoff opening in the AFC. The Miami Dolphins (8 – 7), Baltimore Ravens (8 – 7), San Diego Chargers (8 – 7), and Pittsburgh Steelers (7 – 8) all have different scenarios in which they can make the playoffs if they win their last game this season.

Russell Wilson has led the Seattle Seahawks to the best record in the NFC so far.

Russell Wilson has led the Seattle Seahawks to the best record in the NFC so far.

In the National Football Conference (NFC) only three teams have clinched a playoff birth and none of the divisions have been decided yet. The current division leaders at this time are:

NFC West – Seattle Seahawks (12 – 3)

NFC South – Carolina Panthers (11 – 4)

NFC East – Philadelphia Eagles (9 – 6)

NFC North – Chicago Bears (8 – 7).

Based on conference records, the three teams that have clinched playoff births are the Seahawks, Panthers, and the San Francisco 49ers (11 – 4). The New Orleans Saints (10 -5) or Arizona Cardinals (10 – 5) can clinch the final Wildcard position with a win this weekend. The NFC North division winner will be decided on Sunday afternoon when the Bears face the Green Bay Packers (7 – 7 – 1). The winner of that game makes the playoffs. The same applies to the winner of the NFC East division deciding game between the Eagles and Dallas Cowboys (8 – 7) on Sunday night.

This writer was very wrong in predicting the Houston Texans (2 – 13) and Washington Redskins (3 – 12) would make the playoffs this season as they have the two most dreadful records in the NFL this season. However, there is still a chance that 10 out of the 12 predicted teams will make the postseason this year. The final playoff spot will be decided in the final game of the NFL regular season.–OnPointPress.net–

 

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training specialist. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.

Mike Shanahan’s saga of failure continues, RGIII is benched

Robert Griffin III is benched by his coach and will consider his future and ways to improve.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The Washington Redskins easily win the title of the most dysfunctional team in the National Football League (NFL) with the news that they have benched starting quarterback Robert Griffin III for the rest of the season. The decision highlights more question marks about the future of a franchise that is performing so poorly that the New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Oakland Raiders look like well-oiled machines in comparison. Not even Scandal’s talented Olivia Pope could fix this debacle.

Head coach Mike Shanahan’s struggles continue while the Redskins seem to be in turmoil.

Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan is on the proverbial hot seat as the Redskins endure the third losing season in Shanahan’s four-year tenure. The news yesterday that Kirk Cousins would start the remainder of the season raised eyebrows in the football world. Senior ESPN writer Ed Werder expressed surprise stating: “This is an unprecedented move to make when the starting quarterback is healthy.”

2nd year quarterback Kirk Cousins is the starter for the remainder of the season for the Redskins.

2nd year quarterback Kirk Cousins is the starter for the remainder of the season for the Redskins.

The change in the quarterback position sends a confusing message to a team struggling with leadership concerns and overall poor performance. The change also endangers the most valuable trade asset the team has, since Cousins is a second year quarterback who has looked good in the few games he has played so far. Shanahan stated “RGIII has taken too many hits and we want to protect him,” as the reason for making the change. If Cousins takes the same  hits as Griffin did while behind center, it will be interesting to see if he will retain the same kind of trade value.

The relationship between Shanahan and Griffin has been far from harmonious, which further complicates the situation. The perceived animosity between the two raises questions about Shanahan’s true motives. Is he trying to sabotage Griffin while designing a play to be fired as well? While speculation runs rampant that the coach is trying to get fired, the implication is that Shanahan does not trust Griffin to protect himself or the team to protect the star quarterback.

Jeff Fisher (l) and Vince Young (r) also experienced a tension filled relationship for the Titans.

Jeff Fisher (l) and Vince Young (r) also experienced a tension-filled relationship while they were with the Titans.

However, the rumors that Shanahan was not enamored with RGIII coming out of college brings to mind another coach/quarterback relationship that has mixed results:Jeff Fisher and Vince Young with the Tennessee Titans. In both situations, the star quarterback was beloved by the owner and earned Rookie of the Year honors while essentially saving the coach’s job. Also, the quarterback became a rising star in the league and quickly fell out of favor with the head coach. The Fisher/Young situation ended with neither being a member of the Titans, just five seasons later (2006-2011).

Shanahan’s questionable decision to bench RGIII also brings to mind his unceremonious firing from the Denver Broncos in 2008 after his decision to draft Jay Cutler to replace Jake Plummer despite Plummer leading the Broncos to the AFC title game in 2005. Shanahan’s decision backfired in spectacular fashion and the team disintegrated into a chaotic mix, sealing his ouster by owner Pat Bowlen.

As the disastrous Redskins season evolves, the Shanahan/Griffin union seems to be irreparably harmed. Of course, their deteriorating relationship has not been a secret since the season began. Also, questions still abound about Shanahan’s decision to play Griffin last year when he was obviously hurt and the impact that ultimately had on his need for surgery and RGIII’s performance this year. The Washington faithful have a hard time feeling confident that their team knows what it is doing. Die-hard Redskins fan Steve Taylor’s reaction to yesterday’s news sums up the fans’ collective mood:

“I feel as though the coach and his son need to be fired,” Taylor said. That sentiment is widespread among Redskins fans and it is hard for them to remain hopeful for next season. The trade that helped them acquire RGIII cost them what seems like a top five pick in next season’s draft. Maybe the Redskins fans will be able to at least take solace in their hated rival Dallas Cowboys collapsing in December again. Maybe.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant.

Are New York NBA teams doomed by poor management?

 

 

New York Knicks Owner James Dolan (l) and Brooklyn Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov (r) have very little to smile as both teams are struggling right now.

 

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Thursday night the New York Knicks (3 – 13) will travel for a few minutes from Manhattan to Brooklyn to play the Brooklyn Nets (5 – 13), in a game that will feature two of the worst teams in the National Basketball Association (NBA) at this time. Both teams’ struggles seem to have caught a number of fans off guard, but there were early clues that this would be a challenging season for the teams. The management structure for both teams leaves a lot to be desired and it will be a challenge for either team to turn things around this season.

Brooklyn Nets GM Billy King (l) and head coach Jason Kidd (r) have a lot of challenges to overcome to turn the Nets into championship contenders.

Brooklyn Nets GM Billy King (l) and Head Coach Jason Kidd (r) have a lot of challenges to overcome to turn the Nets into championship contenders.

Both teams have dealt with significant injuries and it is still early in the season. However, both teams came into this season with championship aspirations, which seem highly unattainable at this time. Also, there are specific management issues that hold both of these teams back. If things do not improve, neither team will be able to select a player in the first round of the upcoming, highly touted, draft as both teams have already traded away their first round pick for next season. There is optimism for the faithful fans as the Eastern Conference has so many teams off to dismal starts that playoffs still remain a possibility for both teams.

The Brooklyn Nets hired Jason Kidd as their head coach though he had just retired as a player and has zero coaching experience. The head coaching job is a primary leadership position with responsibility for helping the team cope with the rigors of the lengthy season. The problem for the Nets is that the intricacies that go into leading a team to a championship is unreasonable to  expect a first year head coach to grasp. For historical reference, Hall of Fame coach/player Alex Hannum was the last coach to lead his team to the NBA championship in his first season as a head coach for the St. Louis Hawks in 1958. Nets General Manager Billy King is responsible for hiring Kidd and assembling a team full of veterans hoping to make one last playoff push towards the championship. The current controversy surrounding the demotion of current Nets assistant coach (and former Nets head coach) Lawrence Frank creates more doubt about the decision making process for both King and Kidd. Kidd’s recent drink-spilling stunt and well-deserved $50,000 fine also raise more questions about his coaching judgment.

The problems with the Knicks start at the very top with impatient owner James Dolan.

The problems with the Knicks start at the very top with impatient, and mostly clueless owner James Dolan.

The New York Knicks are in a more dire situation due to their problems being firmly entrenched at the very top of their organization with James Dolan. The Knicks owner appears impetuous, clueless and tone-deaf to reasonable feedback. Dolan has been at the helm of a Knicks team that has seen massive turnover throughout the entire Knicks organization over the past decade. It is difficult to install a system of consistent winning with such regular replacement of personnel in top leadership positions. The Knicks have had 5 different individuals serve as president of team operations since 2000. The Knicks have also had 8 different head coaches over the same time period. The constant turnover is clearly not a recipe for success, and this does not include the revolving door of under-achieving players to don the Knicks uniform over the last 13 years.

The Larry O'Brien trophy is awarded to the team that wins the NBA Finals. Will a NY team win this award in my lifetime?

The Larry O’Brien trophy is awarded to the team that wins the NBA Finals. Will a New York- based team win this award in my lifetime?

The Knicks and Nets share similar problems. Neither team has done a good job of consistently drafting players and growing their players to become long-term solutions for the team. Both teams have also spent a great deal of money on big-name free agents with noticeable injury histories. The Nets seem to have a better chance of turning their problems around. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov appears to trust the people he has hired to make basketball decisions. Whether the general manager and head coach can lead this Nets team remains to be seen but it appears they will be given a decent chance to prove themselves. The Knicks appear likely to remain in the same cycle of negligible strides and consistent failure because their owner’s impatience and lack of basketball judgment.

The Knicks have struggled with hiring the proper people in leadership positions and this has a trickle-down effect, negatively impacting every facet of the team. Both the Knicks and Nets will be watching the NBA Finals from home for another season, to the dismay and frustration of their long-suffering fans. In the meantime, teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Indiana Pacers demonstrate that strong leadership, smart drafting, and clever free agents signings are the best combinations for success in the NBA.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant.

Dolphins locker room could use “A Few Good Men”

Offensive lineman Richie Incognito is at the forefront of investigation into bullying in the Dolphins locker room.

Offensive lineman Richie Incognito is at the forefront of investigation into bullying in the Dolphins’ locker room.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Over the past few days, the Miami Dolphins team and management have been asked to respond to the revelation of disturbing words and behavior levied by Richie Incognito towards fellow Dolphins teammate Jonathan Martin. Martin received harassing text and voice messages from Incognito that expressed disparaging remarks referring to Martin as a “half n—- piece of s—” and threats of physical harm to Martin and his family. In the immediate aftermath of the revelations, Incognito has been suspended indefinitely while Martin remains away from the team on his own accord.

Speculation has been rampant about how complicit the Dolphins team was in condoning Incognito’s brash and negative tactics, since no details have emerged to indicate that prior action was taken to discourage his conduct. There is an NFL- led investigation underway into the facts about this case. This might be able to answer who knew about this bullying and what, if anything, was done about it. Until those facts are clear there will continue to be conjecture about the locker room culture creating a dynamic that can allow for bullying of this kind to exist.

Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin.

Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin.

Immediate reports about this story pointed towards hazing as a cause of Martin’s alleged emotional outburst that resulted in him leaving the team abruptly. Any categorizing of hazing as an unnecessary, childish ploy to gain camaraderie in sports is a disservice to sports culture. Football players and coaches often use war-like jargon such as battlefield, warriors, and bunker-type mentality to express their feelings of deep devotion to their sport. The circumstances surrounding the apparent hectoring of Martin from Incognito is eerily reminiscent of the plot of the classic movie “A Few Good Men,” a fact that was not lost on the hosts of ESPN’s Numbers Never Lie (NNL).

A Few Good Men was released in 1992 amid rave reviews.

The movie, “A Few Good Men” was released in 1992 amid rave reviews.

In the movie, two U.S. Marines face court-martial procedures for causing the death of a fellow Marine. The circumstances surrounding the death expose that the fallen Marine was viewed as sub-standard and weak by his fellow Marine Corps and superior officers. This led to the fallen Marine being “disciplined” (or given a CODE RED as termed in the movie) by members of his own Corps leading to the unintended consequence of his death. The movie delves into the culture of military life, from within and outside of the base where the incident happens, while also examining the moral dilemma some individuals face when doing such meaningful work.

This dynamic seems to be applicable in the Incognito and Martin case for a few reasons. First, there seems to be little or no outlet within the team for Martin to think he could get help if he expressed that he was being tormented. Second, there has not been any veteran player, coaching staff or team personnel of the Miami Dolphins willing to acknowledge these actions were taking place before audio and text messages proved otherwise. Third, there has been very little outrage from the team, even as most of the people responding to the reports continue to ask for explanations from those who were closest to the situation.

Richie Incognito (l) and Jonathan Martin (r) at Dolphins practice.

Richie Incognito (l) and Jonathan Martin (r) at Dolphins practice.

Near the end of the ” A Few Good Men”, the penultimate question was about whether the CODE RED was ordered to be given to the fallen Marine. In the case involving the Dolphins, the question may be whether the team felt “CODE RED”-like tactics were acceptable for Incognito to administer to Martin in order for him to be the player the Dolphins wanted Martin to be.

As the facts of the Dolphins case continue to emerge it will be interesting to see what action, if any, will be taken to reduce bullying in the NFL. The league already faces an uphill battle in repairing an image tarnished by concussions, suicides and routine player contact with the law. Convincing fans and sponsors that the sport is wholesome and embraces brotherhood, as male-oriented team sports should, will be more of a challenge. Unless bullies are shown the door as unceremoniously as their actions deserve and the league sends a strong message that bullies are unwelcome in the sport, then this incident will be a blip on the landscape of business as usual in the NFL.-OnPointPress.net

3 bold predictions for the 2013-14 NBA Season

Dwight Howard (l) and James Harden (r) will lead the Houston Rockets to the championship this season.

Dwight Howard (l) and James Harden (r) will lead the Houston Rockets to the championship this season.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) opened the new season on October 29, 2013 and the prevailing question for this new season is: Will the Miami Heat win a third straight title? Many are predicting a third successful title run for the Heat. That is a natural conclusion considering how well the team has played the past few seasons.

These bold predictions for this NBA season are sure to create a stir. Feel free to comment on which of these predictions (if any) you feel may end up coming true.

Kobe Bryant will have the most challenging individual season of his career this year.

Kobe Bryant will have the most challenging individual season of his career this year.

Bold Prediction No.1: Kobe Bryant will not average more than 20 points per game this season. The Achilles tear that Bryant suffered is a devastating injury that would immediately lower expectations of almost every other athlete for at least one year after  sustaining that type of  injury. Bryant’s reputation for playing through pain has fooled many analysts into believing that he will not only resemble his former self, but that he will do so soon. It is hard to envision Bryant playing before December. Additionally, the rigors of the NBA season will make it difficult for Bryant to create the space for his shot or get past defenders. These factors will lead to a sub par season for the Black Mamba.

John Wall will lead the Wizards to a first round upset in the Eastern Conference this season.

John Wall will lead the Wizards to a first round upset in the Eastern Conference this season.

Bolder Prediction No.2: The Washington Wizards will advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs this season. Four teams in the Eastern Conference are heavily favored to advance in this season’s upcoming playoffs: The Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, and Brooklyn Nets. These four teams have players that have had recent postseason success together. The Wizards, on the other hand, have not made the playoffs since the 2007-2008 season and only a couple of the teams’ players have ever been to the playoffs before. It may seem unreasonable to expect a team with such playoff inexperience to advance but just last season we saw a Warriors team in a similar circumstance unexpectedly advance to the second round.

(L-R) Chandler Parsons, Dwight Howard, James Harden, and Jeremy Lin are the players that will lead the Rockets through the playoffs this season.

(L-R) Chandler Parsons, Dwight Howard, James Harden, and Jeremy Lin are the players that will lead the Rockets through the playoffs this season.

Boldest Prediction No.3: The 2013-14 NBA Champions will be the Houston Rockets.(In full disclosure this article is not being written by a Rockets fan. I root for favorite player Russell Westbrook) so this is not wishful thinking because my desire is for the Thunder to win it all. The reasoning for this prediction is about the Miami Heat’s challenge to win a third straight title and the team in the West that seems best equipped to stop the Heat from reaching that goal. The interior presence of Dwight Howard and Omer Asik can present problems for most teams in the league and the Rockets have excellent perimeter players, led by James Harden, who can not only shoot well but get to the basket and finish. This combination of talent and playoff experience of the Rockets’ two best players (Howard and Harden) seems like a familiar mixture (Celtics in 2008 and Mavericks in 2011) that has led to the accomplishment of ultimate postseason goal: The NBA Championship.–OnPointPress.net

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant.

Should Kobe Bryant be asked the PED question?

By  Charles Glover Jr.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant

Athletes across the sports globe have been riddled with accusations and revelations of Performance Enhancing Drug use this summer. Top-named athletes in Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Track and Field have been caught using PEDs at what seems like a heightened rate, sparking debate amongst sports columnists, analysts, and fans about which athletes they can actually believe have achieved success without cheating.

The debate has been further amplified due to sports media publicly questioning athletes who have been phenomenal performers without positive tests or acknowledged links to PED use. In baseball, Los Angeles Angels’ slugger Albert Pujols is in the midst of filing legal action against former St. Louis radio host Jack Clark’s unfounded accusation that a former trainer admitted to injecting Pujols with PEDs.

Olympic Champion Usain Bolt

Olympic Champion Usain Bolt

Track and Field superstar and fastest man in the world Usain Bolt responded to news of several track stars testing positive for banned substances by asserting: “I am confident in myself and my team, the people I work with.  And I know I am clean.”  Female track star Lolo Jones was asked to submit to a drug test at her birthday party.

Current NFL MVP Adrian Peterson

Current NFL MVP Adrian Peterson

While some athletes have responded with stern comments about PED use, NFL’s current MVP Adrian Peterson has taken a different approach. In a recent interview with USA Today Sports, Peterson remarked, “When you know you don’t do it,…It’s a compliment. I don’t get mad about it at all.”

 

CDavis

Baltimore Orioles First Baseman Chris Davis

These athletes were asked about the authenticity of their performances due to the growing number of their peers busted after achieving marvelous feats in sports. In this era, many athletes have been found guilty of using banned substances, after achieving near iconic status for prolonged excellence in their sport. Sports media has a responsibility to the public they serve to ask those top athletes, whose performances marvel the masses, if they are accomplishing these feats naturally. Most athletes nowadays are beyond receiving the benefit of the doubt regardless of their public reception. Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis recently responded to questions about his current break-out season by stating, “It’s extremely frustrating that people would just assume I was on something because I’m having success.”

KBryant

Kobe Bryant moments after he ruptured his Achilles tendon

Sports media has taken the necessary steps to avoid being duped by remarkable performances by athletes. While they have started questioning just about everyone, a particular superstar, Kobe Bryant, has escaped major questions about the possibility of him using PEDs.  Kobe Bryant stated recently that he is ahead of schedule in recovery from his ruptured Achilles tendon, heading into his 18th season in the NBA. Two summers ago, Bryant underwent an innovative procedure on his right knee in Germany after dealing with right knee pain throughout the previous season. Bryant’s physical response to the procedure has helped him to a boost of nearly 3 points per game. Also, he has added 5 minutes per game since the trip to Germany. In the wake of numerous superstars getting caught using PEDs, doesn’t it make sense that mega-stars across all sports be asked about possible PED use? Isn’t it time for the question to be posed to someone who enjoys iconic status in the NBA, someone like Kobe Bryant, for instance? —OnPointPress.net.

Charles Glover Jr. is a sports aficionado.