Will the NBA’s post-season live up to its exciting regular season?

The Golden State Warriors (top) and Atlanta Hawks (bottom) enter the playoffs as #1 seeds in their conference this year.

The Golden State Warriors (top) and Atlanta Hawks (bottom) enter the playoffs as #1 seeds in their conference this year.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The NBA regular season came to a scintillating conclusion Wednesday night as playoff positions were finally set. The eighth seed was decided on game 82 for both conferences and the scoring title was settled as well. The end of the regular season means that struggling teams can move on to making preparations for betters seasons next year, while playoff teams prepare for the post-season marathon.

After a close MVP race this NBA season, James Harden (l) and Stephen Curry (r) are the clear frontrunners to win the award.

After a close, nail-biting MVP race this NBA season, James Harden (l) and Stephen Curry (r) are the clear front-runners to win the award.

The NBA post-season will have to be spectacular to equal the exciting regular season which featured an MVP race for the ages, a scoring title race decided on the final day, and several meaningful games Wednesday night.  The Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks set season records for franchise victories, while teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics rebounded from the cellar of the NBA last year to make the playoffs this year.

Anthony Davis (l) and Kyrie Irving (r) are 2 of several notable players making their playoff debuts this postseason.

Anthony Davis (l) and Kyrie Irving (r) are two of the many notable players making their playoff debuts this postseason.

The pairings for the playoffs are:

EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF MATCHUPS
1. Atlanta Hawks vs. 8. Brooklyn Nets
2. Cleveland Cavaliers vs. 7. Boston Celtics
3. Chicago Bulls vs. 6. Milwaukee Bucks
4. Toronto Raptors vs. 5. Washington Wizards

WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF MATCHUPS
1. Golden State Warriors vs. 8. New Orleans Pelicans
2. Houston Rockets vs. 7. Dallas Mavericks
3. Los Angeles Clippers vs. 6. San Antonio Spurs
4. Portland Trail Blazers vs. 5. Memphis Grizzlies*
*Grizzlies will have home-court advantage

The playoffs will be different this season as playoff regulars like Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook will be absent this year with their teams’ failure to secure playoff berths. The NBA post-season is in good hands though, as emerging superstars like Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, and James Harden will have the opportunity to add important playoff experience to their impressive regular season resumes.

In the end, it is highly possible that either LeBron James (c) and his Cavaliers or Tim Duncan (l) and Greg Popovich (r) and the Spurs will be playing for the championship again this year.

In the end, it is highly possible that either LeBron James (c) and his Cavaliers or Tim Duncan (l) and Greg Popovich (r) and the Spurs will be playing for the championship again this year.

Other stars like Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, John Wall, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving will be able to take the next step in their careers and advance deep into the playoffs for the first time. As interesting as it will be to see some of the new faces in the post-season, in the end, LeBron James and the San Antonio Spurs will likely play a major role in determining the championship. Again.–OnPointPress.net

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a training/benefits consultant. Follow me @GloverIsGood on Twitter.com.

NBA players’ exemplary financial maturity is a model for other athletes

Grant Hill

Grant Hill retired after a 19-year NBA career in 2013. Hill partnered with billionaire investors Tony Ressler and Bruce Karsh to develop an ownership group to place a bid for the Los Angeles Clippers. Hill currently works for NBA TV/TNT.

By Charles Glover

NBA players are recognized for their talent on the basketball court but there is also a growing number of current and former NBA players who learned entrepreneurial lessons from their predecessors. This new breed of player-entrepreneurs know how to put what they learned in business to grow their personal brands and enhance their financial legacies.

Webber was the #1 overall draft pick in 1993. He retired after the 2008 season. Webber owns a restaurant, and an investment company. He currently works for NBA TV/TNT.

Webber was the #1 overall draft pick in 1993. He retired after the 2008 season. Webber owns a restaurant, and an investment company. He currently works for NBA TV/TNT.

Recent NBA retirees like Grant Hill and Chris Webber have learned their lessons and have an eye towards NBA ownership. Hill put together a group of investors that attempted to purchase the Los Angeles Clippers, while Webber put together a group that is hopeful of purchasing the Atlanta Hawks.

But despite the examples set by the player-entrepreneurs, there have been many accounts of professional athletes, and in particular some NBA players, who have blown their fortunes shortly after retiring from the game of basketball.

Rumeal Robinson

Rumeal Robinson last played in the NBA in 1997 after being the 10th overall draft pick in the 1990 NBA Draft. Robinson’s legal troubles include charges for bank fraud, bribery, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and perjury.

There’s the tragic story of former NBA guard Rumeal Robinson who swindled his foster mother out of her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 2003, Robinson tricked his foster mother into signing over the deed to her own home. He then transferred the property to people unknown to her. These thieves eventually forced the foster mother from her home of over 30 years.

Jason Caffey

Jason Caffey was taken 20th overall by the Chicago Bulls in 1995. He finished his NBA career in 2003. Caffey faced a brief jail stint for failure to pay child support.

There’s also the unfortunate story of former Chicago Bulls players Jason Caffey. Caffey eventually had to file for bankruptcy after having trouble paying child support for 10 children with 8 different mothers. Former NBA power forward Derrick Coleman also had to file for bankruptcy after having a series of investments go sour. Coleman’s former New Jersey Nets teammate Kenny Anderson has also faced serious financial hardship for many years following his NBA career.

Latrell Sprewell

Latrell Sprewell was the 24th overall draft pick of the Golden State Warriors in 1992. Sprewell was a four- time All-Star, making the team with the Warriors and New York Knicks. Sprewell endured many financial woes including a $200 million lawsuit against him from an ex-girlfriend and auctioning off his yacht to make his defaulted mortgage payments.

Latrell Sprewell, after turning down a three-year, $21 million extension from the Minnesota Timberwolves was quoted as saying “I’ve got my family to feed.” A few years later Sprewell’s home was in foreclosure and he had to sell his yacht as he experienced financial difficulties shortly after retiring.

Ray Williams

Ray Williams was the 10th overall draft pick of the New York Knicks in 1977. Williams finished his NBA career playing for the New Jersey Nets in 1987. Williams would experience extreme hardship in post-NBA career resulting in homelessness. Williams was a victim of a real estate scam and filed for bankruptcy in 1994. Williams died on March 22, 2013 of colon cancer in New York City at the age of 58.

Antoine Walker, formerly of the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, has also had to file for bankruptcy after earning over $100 million during his playing career. There was also the sobering tale of 10-year NBA veteran Ray Williams. Williams, who played for the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics in the late 70’s and early 80’s. He ended up homeless, living out of his car in Florida, before dying at a relatively young age.

Russell Westbrook (i) and Kevin Durant (r).

In the summer of 2014, Russell Westbrook (l) had his Westbrook XO line debut at Barney’s New York and launched his own line of sunglasses. Kevin Durant (r) opened a restaurant in Oklahoma City in 2012, appeared in the 2012 children’s film “Thunderstruck,” and had a documentary about his life air on HBO in the summer of 2014.

Many of today’s NBA players have learned from both the cautionary tales and the impressive one. They new breed of player-entrepreneurs are making strides in taking care of their finances for their families’ future. The Oklahoma City Thunder have two dynamic All-Stars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Durrant has used his popularity to garner major endorsement deals and appearances in film and television. Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook has taken his notoriety for style and turned it into an opportunity to earn through fashion. Westbrook not only has his own clothing line, as an extension through with his endorsement deal with the Jordan Brand, he also has his own brand of sunglasses.

Amar'e Stoudemire with the stars of Beyond the Lights.

(l – r) Writer/Director, Gina Prince-Bythewood, NBA Player/Producer, Amar’e Stoudemire, Co-stars of “Beyond the Lights,” Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Nate Parker.

Amar’e Stoudemire has taken some of his NBA earnings and translated it into a film production career that featured production credits on the recently released film “Beyond the Lights.” Stoudemire also has a clothing line and writes children’s books. Stoudemire’s New York Knicks teammate Carmelo Anthony has taken some of his NBA earnings to begin to prepare for his post-NBA career through the funding of tech companies that he hopes can eventually grow to be successful as over the next several years.

Chris Paul (l) and Blake Griffin (m) on the set with Jimmy Kimmel (r).

Chris Paul (l) and Blake Griffin (m) on the set with Jimmy Kimmel (r).

Blake Griffin and his Los Angeles Clippers teammate Chris Paul have taken their popularity and translated it into off the court opportunities as well, with Paul contributing handsomely to President Obama’s social initiative “My Brother’s Keeper,” which is designed to offer opportunities to Black and Latino boys.

LeBron James.

LeBron James is not only a minority owner of the Liverpool soccer club but has also expressed interest in teaming up with soccer star David Beckham to own a Major League Soccer (MLS) team in Miami.

Perhaps no NBA player has done more to build his own personal brand then Lebron James. James has not only had large endorsement deals but he also has co-ownership  of the Liverpool soccer club in England. James is already on record as stating that he wants to become a billionaire and he appears to be on his way.  Kobe Bryant is also creating waves with his own production studio, to make films.

Magic Johnson.

Magic Johnson’s sports ownership includes being a part of the majority ownership group of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Sparks. Johnson is also working to develop an expansion team in the MLS in the near future.

These current players seem to have taken the lead from two of the best 12 who ever graced a basketball court in Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. Both Johnson and Jordan are owners of major sports teams. Johnson is the majority owner of the  group which purchased the  Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Sparks while Jordan is the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets.

Michael Jordan.

With the recent increase of his ownership stake in the Charlotte Hornets to 89%, Michael Jordan has had his personal value evaluated at over $1 billion.

Jordan and Johnson are phenomenal businessmen who provide a template for their contemporaries and future NBA stars, while sending the message that it is important to value themselves as professional commodities beyond the game of basketball. The example set by Jordan, Johnson, Hill, Weber and the current player-entrepreneurs is a strong reminder that it is important to prepare for life after basketball. Their examples offer a good mirror for other athletes to use and plot their future before their sports careers end..-Onpointpress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a management/employee training and benefits consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com. For business inquiries contact (646) 309–1938.

Drake drew laughs, Stuart Scott caused tears, at 2014 ESPY Awards

Music artist Drake (c) was the host for the 2014 ESPY Awards. He was joined on stage  at this moment by the Seattle Seahawks in attendance that won the award for  Best Team.

2014 ESPY Awards host is surrounded by members of the Super Bowl Champions Seattle Seahawks, who won the for Best Team award.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

On July 16, 2014, ESPN aired the ESPYs, the network’s award show for the world of sports. Hosted by musician and former child actor Drake, the award show drew laughter and tears. The host performed numerous sketches, monologues, and presentations that are standard for current award ceremonies but Drake stood out by creating a special song for those who didn’t win an award.

Drake  had skits with a few different people including Tulsa Shock guard Skylar Diggins.

Drake had skits with a few different people including Tulsa Shock guard Skylar Diggins.

The well-dressed crowd was entertained all night by Drake and other stars like Brian McKnight, Blake Griffin, Chris Brown, and Skylar Diggins, who teamed up to perform skits.

Drake made jokes on some audience members including Richard Sherman (l) and Russell Westbrook (r). Both won awards that night as well.

Drake made jokes on some audience members including Richard Sherman (l) and Russell Westbrook (r). Both won awards that night as well.

Drake also poked fun at a number of athletes who were in attendance, such as Lance Stephenson, Russell Westbrook, and Richard Sherman. All those who were mentioned as part of jokes and skits seemed to take everything in stride in what was mostly a light-hearted event.

Michael Sam (r) was presented the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (l).

Michael Sam (r) was presented the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (l).

There were serious moments in the show as well. Michael Sam was presented with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Sam expressed his appreciation for the award and shared a touching story of how he was able to make a difference in the life of a young woman who gained courage to admit that she is also gay after conversing with Sam.

Stuart Scott (l) gave an emotional speech after receiving the Jimmy V Award for  Perseverance. He is pictured with his daughter Sydni (m) and Peyton Manning (r).

Stuart Scott (l) gave an emotional speech after receiving the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. He is pictured with his daughter Sydni (m) and Peyton Manning (r).

The emotional highlight of the night might was ESPN’s Stuart Scott’s acceptance speech for the Jimmy V[alvano] Perseverance Award. Scott was presented the award by the star of Scott’s favorite television show, Kiefer Sutherland, from “24”. Scott’s moving speech touched on all the challenges he currently faces while fighting cancer and continuing to persevere for the sake of his family, his daughters in particular. Scott was joined on stage at the end of the speech by the youngest of his daughters, Sydni, 14. Scott concluded his speech stating:

Scott (m) and his daugher Sydni (r) were congratulated on stage by the presenter for the  award, Kiefer Sutherland (l).

Scott (m) and his daugher Sydni (r) were congratulated on stage by the presenter for the award, Kiefer Sutherland (l).

“When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you lived, why you lived and in the manner in which you lived. So live. Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.”

Danica Patrick (l) and Taye Diggs (m) were the presenters for the Male Athlete  of the Year Award that was won by Kevin Durant (r).

Danica Patrick (l) and Taye Diggs (m) were the presenters for the Male Athlete of the Year Award that was won by Kevin Durant (r).

The awards presented to the different winners gave viewers an opportunity to see entertainers from numerous fields in the same setting. The most noticeable awards handed out that night include the Seattle Seahawks winning “Best Team,” Ronda Rousey winning Female Athlete of the Year, and Kevin Durant winning Male Athlete of the Year.

Blake  Griffin (l) and Chris Brown (m) were a part of one of the skits that kept the audience laughing at Drake's (r) expense.

Blake Griffin (l) and Chris Brown (m) were a part of one of the skits that kept the audience laughing at Drake’s (r) expense.

Overall, the ESPYs were entertaining from beginning to end. There was a good blend of levity and solemnity from host Drake and the other stars who graced the stage. If you were unable to catch the show, check your local listings for replays on the ESPN family of networks.–OnPointPress.net–

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

2014 NBA All-Star game starters announced, surprising changes made

The starters for the Eastern and Western Conference were revealed Thursday night.

The starters for the Eastern and Western Conference were revealed Thursday night.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Last night, the National Basketball Association (NBA) revealed the starters for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game, as voted on by the fans. The starters are a combination of fan favorites and first time starters. The Eastern Conference will be represented by Kyrie Irving, Dwayne Wade, Paul George, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony. The Western Conference starters are Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, and Kevin Durant. The reserve players will be selected by the coaches and revealed next Thursday. The injured players that are elected to the all-star team will be replaced by players selected by the commissioner.

The NBA continues to make jerseys with sleeves despite fan reaction.

The NBA continues to make jerseys with sleeves despite poor fan reaction.

The NBA continues to tweak what is considered by many to be the best all-star game of the major professional sports. Unfortunately, the recent changes have not been good. This year’s jerseys were largely disliked by the fans when they were unveiled a few weeks ago. The NBA has also changed the voting format which eliminated the center position from the fan ballot. The result this year is a starting line-up in both conferences devoid of a center. In the previous format, Dwight Howard and Roy Hibbert would likely be starters for the West and East respectively. While these changes seem subtle, they change the composition of the teams and make the game more difficult to enjoy, especially with such distracting jerseys.

The classic look of this Michael Jordan jersey would not only make a difference aesthetically, but likely monetarily as well.

The classic look of this Michael Jordan jersey would not only make a difference aesthetically, but likely monetarily as well.

A few simple changes can help the NBA All-Star game reclaim its former glory as the most exciting exhibition game. First, return the all-star game to early in the afternoon on Sunday instead of the late night time slot it currently has. Most sports fans are accustomed to having a premier sporting event Sunday afternoon and this game was featured at that time successfully for years. Secondly, go back to the classic all-star game uniforms. Fans like acquiring jerseys they want to wear outside, not these pajama look-a-likes the NBA is pushing this season. Last, but not least, add two more players to the all-star roster per team. There are 30 NBA teams but only 24 all-star player spots. There are always more deserving players than all-star positions, but adding two players for each side would create more slots to reward a greater variety of players in the league.

The NBA All-Star Weekend is a great platform for the league to showcase their young talent, 3-point specialists, best dunkers, and best players in the league this season. There is no need for the novelty ideas for this all-star game because, unlike with other major sports, the best players will be on the court when it matters and the game will always include memorable highlights. In this case, revisiting the past might be what’s best for the future of the NBA All-Star game.–OnPointPress.net–

 

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