Former NBA player Javaris Crittenton pleads guilty to manslaughter, gets 23 years in prison

Javaris Crittenton accepted responsibility for killing a young woman in 2011 by pleading guilty to manslaughter charges in court on Wednesday.

Javaris Crittenton accepted responsibility for killing a young woman in 2011 by pleading guilty to manslaughter charges in court on Wednesday.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

On Wednesday April 29, former Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Wizards guard Javaris Crittenton pled guilty to manslaughter in the 2011 shooting death of Julian Jones, a then 22-year old mother of four. Murder trial proceedings were just under way this week when Crittenton surprisingly changed his plea to guilty and accepted the sentencing of 23 years for manslaughter instead of taking his chances at trial for murder.

Crittenton and his cousin, Douglas Gamble, have both been sentenced for death Jones.’ Gamble was the driver while Crittenton was the trigger man in a drive-by shooting targeting a rival gang member who supposedly stole from Crittenton, days before the shooting. Crittenton gave a tearful apology during his allocution to the court expressing remorse for his actions.

Crittenton's (r) NBA stint may be most remembered for his dispute with Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas (l) that led to guns being drawn in the locker room and the ultimate dismissal from the team for both players.

Crittenton’s (r) NBA stint may be most remembered for his dispute with Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas (l) that led to guns being drawn in the locker room and the ultimate dismissal from the team for both players.

The details that emerged from this case are alarming. Crittenton reportedly joined the West Los Angeles street gang known as the Mansfield Gangster Crips for protection when he joined the Lakers in 2007. Crittenton’s association with gang members will draw comparisons to another athlete recently imprisoned for killing someone, Aaron Hernandez. Crittenton for his part, has acknowledged his gang affiliations though that does not diminish his continuous poor choices.

Crittenton may be infamously recognized for being dismissed from the Washington Wizards along with the team’s star player at the time, Gilbert Arenas, because of having guns in the locker room following a personal dispute between the two. Crittenton, an Atlanta native, played high school basketball with Dwight Howard and was teammates with current NBA players Thaddeus Young (Brooklyn Nets) and Anthony Morrow (Oklahoma City Thunder) in his one season at Georgia Tech.

Julian Jones was 22 at the time of her death and was a mother of four young children.

Julian Jones was 22 at the time of her death and was a mother of four young children.

Hopefully today’s court proceedings bring some closure to the family of Julian Jones, who by all accounts was merely an innocent bystander while this senseless shooting was taking place.–OnPointPress.net–

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

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.

Bucks clinch playoff spot, Jason Kidd deserves ‘NBA Coach of the Year’ title

The Bucks have turned around quickly under head coach Jason Kidd.

The Bucks have turned around quickly under Head Coach Jason Kidd.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

On Sunday, April 12, Jason Kidd coached the Milwaukee Bucks to a playoff berth with a victory over Kidd’s former team, the Brooklyn Nets. This is the first 40-win season and playoff appearance for the Bucks since the 2009-10 season.

When Jason Kidd was hired by the Bucks in July 2014, there was less focus on how good a coach he would be for the Bucks and more emphasis on the manner in which he landed the position. At the time, Marc Lasry, Bucks owner and Kidd’s former business partner, acknowledged that Kidd’s agent reached out to the Bucks’ owners about joining the club.

Many were more bothered by Kidd's (l) pursuit of an occupied head coaching position than his close relationship with Bucks owner Marc Lasry (r).

Many were more bothered by Kidd’s (l) pursuit of an occupied head coaching position than his close relationship with Bucks owner Marc Lasry (r).

“We were asked to keep it confidential and we did and I think in retrospect that was a mistake,” Lasry said. “That was our fault. We shouldn’t have done that. In this process, we made some mistakes.” The manner in which Kidd’s hiring occurred stood out and caused public feedback. Boston Globe writer Gary Washburn stated, “[Kidd] didn’t exactly pick an organization primed for a resurgence.”

Jabari Parker (l) and  Larry Sanders (r) were supposed to play a major role in the team's turnaround.

Jabari Parker (l) and Larry Sanders (r) were supposed to play a major role in the team’s turnaround.

Fast forward to the current situation for the Bucks who have remained off the NBA radar for the majority of the NBA season, despite their remarkable turnaround. The Bucks will be the only team in the playoffs with none of its active players appearing in an NBA All-Star game. The team has overcome a number of challenges this season. The number two overall draft pick, Jabari Parker, suffered a season-ending knee injury and there was also the unexpected departure of center Larry Sanders due to mental health problems.

Khris Middleton (l) and Giannis Antetokounpo (r) are emerging as stars for a surprisingly tough Bucks team.

Khris Middleton (l) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (r) are emerging as stars for a surprisingly tough Bucks team.

The Bucks won 15 games last season and most observers expected the team to be in line for a lengthy rebuilding period. However, coach Kidd has helped his emerging stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton become reliable contributors. Kidd has also been able get good production from veterans such as Jerryd Bayless, O.J. Mayo, Zaza Pachulia and Ersan Ilyasova. Taking a team from second in the draft to sixth in their conference is a compelling, NBA Coach of the Year, type of feat.–OnPointPress.net–

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

Major injuries to key players change the outlook for the 2014-15 NBA season

Kevin Durant will be forced to sit and watch his team as the NBA season begins thanks to a foot injury sustained during  the preseason.

Reigning MVP Kevin Durant will be forced to sit and watch his team when as the NBA season begins, due to a foot injury he sustained during the preseason. He will be sidelined for 6 to eight weeks.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

As the beginning of the 2014-15 NBA season approaches, there are more injury concerns that will have an impact on teams which reached last season’s playoffs. General managers and coaches will be challenged to fill large voids left by injured stars.

Chicago Bulls fans are tired of seeing Derrick Rose in a suit like they have for much of the past two seasons. Hopefully, Rose can put his injury woes behind him for good.

Chicago Bulls fans are tired of seeing Derrick Rose in a suit like they have for much of the past two seasons. Hopefully, Rose can put his injury woes behind him for good.

Last year, the Chicago Bulls had their hopes of a deep playoff run dashed again when Derrick Rose went down with a season-ending injury for the second straight season. Brook Lopez’s season-ending injury changed the expectations for the veteran Brooklyn Nets team to do well. Both teams were able to make the playoffs but neither had a deep playoff run.

Pacers fans will likely have to wait until next season before seeing Paul George in uniform again.

Pacers fans will likely have to wait until next season before seeing Paul George in uniform again.

There has already been key injuries to big NBA stars before the season has begun. The Indiana Pacers will be scrambling to replace Paul George, who went down with a gruesome injury this summer while playing with Team USA.

Young guard Bradley Beal has helped the Wizards become a playoff team. They will need him healthy if they plan on improving from last year.

Young guard Bradley Beal has helped the Wizards become a playoff team. They will need him healthy if they plan on improving from last year.

Bradley Beal has been ruled out for the next several weeks which could also change the season outlook for a Washington Wizards team that is looking to build on its playoff success from last year.

The Thunder general manager and coaches will have to make changes to endure Durant's preseason injury.

The Thunder general manager and coaches will have to make changes to endure Durant’s preseason injury.

Perhaps no injury will impact the NBA more than the foot injury sustained by reigning MVP Kevin Durant. Durant is expected to miss the next 6 to 8 weeks as he recovers from the injury he sustained during the preseason. The Thunder are fortunate enough to have another superstar in Russell Westbrook to help the team adapt but there will definitely be a change in the team’s production this season.

Thunder fans are hoping the team responds to Durant's injury the way they did last season when Westbrook missed numerous games.

Thunder fans are hoping the team responds to Durant’s injury the way they did last season when Westbrook missed numerous games.

Time will tell if these general managers and coaches can help thees teams cope with these drastic changes. The Thunder faced a similar challenge when Westbrook started the season injured last year, but there are no assurances the team will have the same kind of success this year. While teams with injured stars can still make the playoffs, there are no guarantees as the league becomes more competitive due to huge player and personnel changes. Read OnPointPress.net for new developments.–OnPointPress.net–

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

Mysterious NBA coaching criteria surfaces as free agency begins

 

Jason Kidd will join his second team in his second year as a head coach. So does this technically make him an experienced coaching hire for the Bucks?
Jason Kidd will join his second team in his second year as a head coach. So does this technically make him an experienced coaching hire for the Bucks?

 By Charles Glover, Jr.

As NBA free agency begins this July 1, 2014, there are still a couple of head coaching vacancies to be filled. The Brooklyn Nets find themselves looking for a new head coach after Jason Kidd and the Milwaukee Bucks agreed to terms on June 30 as their new head coach. Meanwhile, the storied Los Angeles Lakers franchise is still without a head coach, though they may have narrowed their search to a few candidates by now. The head coaching carousel continues in the NBA while the criteria for being hired as a head coach becomes more mysterious and cloudy than ever.

The Knicks new general manager, Phil Jackson (r), felt comfortable hiring coaching novice Derek Fisher (l) because of system familiarity. Time will tell if this strategy is successful.

The Knicks’ new general manager, Phil Jackson (r), felt comfortable hiring coaching novice Derek Fisher (l) because of system familiarity. Time will tell if this strategy is successful.

A year ago, the Brooklyn Nets were questioned about their decision to hire Jason Kidd as their head coach, directly from his last moments playing in the league. A season later, the New York Knicks followed suit by hiring Derek Fisher, fresh of his final game as a player. The trend of hiring head coaches with no coaching experience did not start with Kidd, however. Just a few seasons ago, Mark Jackson transitioned successfully from announcer to head coach. However, his success was not good enough to prevent the Golden State Warriors from firing him and replacing him with Steve Kerr, another first time head coach with no prior coaching experience.

The last time Lionel Hollins was coaching he led his team to the Western Conference Finals. He is rumored to be a possible replacement for Jason Kidd in Brooklyn.

The last time Lionel Hollins coached he led his team to the Western Conference Finals and he was rewarded by being fired promptly. His success did not earn him another coaching job. He is rumored to be a possible replacement for Jason Kidd in Brooklyn.

Head coaches in the NBA appear to have very little job security and very little indication that their job is even jeopardy. The most recent example would be former Milwaukee Bucks head coach Larry Drew, who was entering year two of a three-year contract and had no idea his job was on the line just a week ago. Other examples from this season would be Maurice Cheeks formerly of the Detroit Pistons and Mike Brown formerly of the Cleveland Cavaliers, both of whom lost their jobs after a year, or less),into multi-year contracts as head coaches.

Those coaches were at the helm of teams that struggled but Lionel Hollins led the Memphis Grizzlies to the Western Conference Finals in 2013 for the first time in team history and was abruptly fired immediately afterwards. George Karl was let go by the Denver Nuggets in 2013 after he won NBA Coach of the Year that season.

Phoenix Suns head coach was runner-up to Gregg Popovich for NBA Coach of the Year in 2014.

Phoenix Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek was runner-up to Gregg Popovich for NBA Coach of the Year in 2014.

Ironically, the past typical trend of hiring coaches who have previous coaching experience was successful template for several teams last season. The Phoenix Suns hired Jeff Hornacek last season after he had been an assistant coach in the NBA for a few years, and saw their team win 48 games and greatly improve from the season before. The Charlotte Hornets hired Steve Clifford, who had also been an assistant head coach for years in the NBA, and were pleased with the resulting 43 wins and 7th seed in the playoffs. The Toronto Raptors had success for the first time in many years under Dwayne Casey, who had former NBA head coaching experience. The Portland Trailblazers were another team that saw a nice turnaround with a head coach, Terry Stotts, who had previous experience as an assistant coach in the NBA.

Patrick Ewing has been an assistant coach in the NBA since 2002 and has made his desires to be a head coach clear.

Patrick Ewing has been an assistant coach in the NBA since 2002 and has made his desires to be a head coach clear, yet he is overlooked every time that a head coaching job becomes available.

Teams have the right to make the changes they feel are necessary to improve their team, but it seems there is little merit behind this trend of unproven coaches gaining such prominent positions without prior experience. Several teams have long-time assistant coaches, like Robert Pack, Sam Cassell, and Patrick Ewing to name a few, that are worthy candidates and fit the mold of previous successful head coaches.

Gregg Popovich (l) and Eric Spoelstra (r) have been in the last two NBA Finals and have won multiple championships. Maybe their coaching background should be the standard.

Gregg Popovich (l) and Eric Spoelstra (r) have been in the last two NBA Finals and have won multiple championships. Maybe their coaching background should be the standard.

The teams that win championships do not hire coaches who do not have any coaching experience. The San Antonio Spurs’ head coach, Gregg Popovich, has been coaching since 1973. Eric Spoelstra was an assistant coach with the Miami Heat from 1997. Former coaching legend Phil Jackson was a coach for five years in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) before joining the Chicago Bulls.

It seems that NBA franchises are trying to find out the hard way that there are no shortcuts to success and that the coaches who win championships have one major requirement on their resumes: solid experience, not flash.–OnPointPress.net–

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

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.

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.