Kobe Bryant, the ultimate perimeter player, signs off

Bryant ended his career on a high note scoring 60 points in the season finale.

Bryant ended his career on a high note scoring 60 points in the season finale.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Kobe Bryant played the last game of his 20-year career for the Los Angeles Lakers amid much fanfare on Wednesday, April 13. Bryant dazzled fans, scoring 60 points as the Lakers defeated the Utah Jazz in the season finale, capping a farewell tour for Bryant that started once he made it clear he was retiring at the end of this season.

"Penny" Hardaway (left) and Grant Hill (right) were two players primed to fill the void of Jordan's departure until injuries severely altered their careers.

“Penny” Hardaway (left) and Grant Hill (right) were two players primed to fill the void of Jordan’s departure until injuries severely altered their careers.

While not accurate, it is often said that Michael Jordan passed the proverbial torch to Bryant.

The similarities between Bryant and Jordan are easy to see. Both are similar in height, position played, disposition on the court, and team success.

However, many forget that there were two superstars who were poised to follow in Jordan’s footsteps but suffered career altering injuries: Anfernee (Penny) Hardaway, and Grant Hill. Both superstars were similar to Bryant early in their careers because they had charisma, exciting talent and marketing appeal.

On the strength of two championships at Duke university, Hill emerged quickly as a superstar leading all NBA All-Star Game players in fan voting in his rookie season and soon afterwards leading the Detroit Pistons to multiple playoff appearances. Hill was a dynamic player with excellent scoring and play-making ability.

While Bryant was carving his niche early in his career, other players like Tracy McGrady (left) and Vince Carter (right) were among the guards that Bryant battled with.

While Bryant was carving his niche early in his career, other players like Tracy McGrady (left) and Vince Carter (right) were among the guards that Bryant battled with.

Hardaway also had quick success, helping to lead the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals in 1995 with Shaquille O’neal. Hardaway and Hill had huge endorsement deals and were well positioned to be pre-eminent perimeter players in the NBA upon Jordan’s second retirement in 1999.

Other perimeter player contemporaries of Bryant who entered the NBA during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s include Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, and Ray Allen.

All of these players helped lead their teams in different ways, while displaying entertaining and captivating styles of play. All of these players were also major faces in advertising, which assisted in bringing extra attention to the NBA internationally.

(I - r) Allen Iverson, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade, are among the list of players Bryant had brief rivalries with during his career.

(I – r) Allen Iverson, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade, are among the list of players Bryant had brief rivalries with during his career.

Bryant might have the highest international profile of all of the previous mentioned players, except Jordan, and his battles with those players helped pave the way for the current wave of perimeter All Stars. Bryant’s 20 year career has allowed him to compete with players already in the basketball Hall of Fame as well as number of players likely to land there as well.

Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, James Harden, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James headline a long list of perimeter players that have carried the torch of exciting the fans and helping fans fill the impending the void created upon Bryant’s retirement.

Bryant had a fond farewell and received respect and admiration from fans and peers throughout the night.

Bryant had a fond farewell and received respect and admiration from fans and peers throughout the night.

As Bryant retires, perimeter play is on the uptick in the NBA. The last several regular season and NBA Finals MVP have been perimeter players. Bryant reminded all spectators that current NBA fans enjoy seeing their perimeter stars score in bundles as he scored the most points by a player this season in his final game. A great ending to an even greater career.–OnPointPress.net–

 

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.

Despite Durant’s injuries OKC is poised to win division, MVP title for Westbrook

Russell Westbrook has been phenomenal this season, keeping his team in playoff contention despite a myriad of injuries to key players.

Russell Westbrook has been phenomenal this season, keeping his team in playoff contention despite a myriad of injuries to key players.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

With a dozen games remaining in the Thunder’s season they have a three game lead for the eighth seed in the Western Conference and trail by five games in their division. This writer is predicting that the Thunder will continue their winning ways and eventually win their division, propelling them to a top four seed in their conference.

Kevin Durant (l) and Serge Ibaka (not pictured) will likely not be available for the rest of the regular season. Westbrook (r) will have to continue picking up the slack.

Kevin Durant (l) and Serge Ibaka (not pictured) will likely not be available for the rest of the regular season. Westbrook (r) will have to continue picking up the slack.

Winning the division would have been viewed as implausible as little as a few days ago when news circulated that reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant will not be returning to action anytime soon. Durant’s setback, coupled with the news of Serge Ibaka’s recent knee surgery, means that the Thunder will be without two of their best three players for the remainder of the regular season. The Thunder have responded by winning their last three games since learning of Durant’s setback while showing continued resiliency following Westbrook’s lead. However, it will take a grandiose effort on the part of the team to ultimately win their division.

The Portland Trailblazers currently lead their division with 14 games left in their season. They will have a hard time maintaining their lead with LaMarcus Aldridge (l) and Nicolas Batum (r) battling injuries after already losing Wesley Matthews (c) for the rest of the season.

The Portland Trailblazers currently lead their division with 14 games left in their season. They will have a hard time maintaining their lead with LaMarcus Aldridge (l) and Nicolas Batum (r) battling injuries after already losing Wesley Matthews (c) for the rest of the season.

The Thunder’s injury woes have been headline news but the Northwest division leading Portland Trailblazers have their own injury concerns that threaten to derail their season. Both LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum left their last game together with different injuries and are questionable for their next game. Guard Wesley Matthews suffered a ruptured Achilles a few weeks ago and is out for the season. With three fifths of their starting lineup potentially absent or compromised, the Trailblazers have a tough stretch remaining on their schedule while trying to hold off the surging Thunder.

The Thunder have added quality depth to their team this season especially along their frontline with Mitch McGarry (r) and Enes Kanter (c) joining Steven Adams and Nick Collison (l).

The Thunder have added quality depth to their team this season especially along their frontline with Mitch McGarry (r) and Enes Kanter (c) joining Steven Adams and Nick Collison (l).

The Thunder have given themselves a chance for a late season push by making moves to add quality depth to a team that has usually been described as being led by two superstars. The Thunder have been able to deal with the absence of forwards Durant and Ibaka with the emergence of other talented big men like Enes Kanter, Steven Adams, rookie Mitch McGarry, and veteran Nick Collison. Guards Dion Waiters, D.J. Augustin, and Anthony Morrow have also taken advantage of more playing time in wake of the numerous injuries the team has endured. The team seems poised to finish the season on a high note.

Westbrook has been relentless as he has guided his team into playoff contention so far. if the Thunder capture their division, Westbrook would deserve MVP honors.

Westbrook has been relentless as he has guided his team into playoff contention so far. if the Thunder capture their division, Westbrook would deserve MVP honors.

While the Thunder’s front office and coaches deserve credit for putting together and developing a roster that can endure the changes they have so far, the bulk of the praise still rests with Russell Westbrook. Westbrook almost notched his tenth triple-double on Sunday and continues to lead the league in scoring. He is also second in steals and fourth in assists. Night in and night out, Westbrook plays with a fiery passion reminiscent of Allen Iverson. It is a long shot, but winning a division with the challenges this team has faced would create a narrative likely to propel Westbrook to the top of the NBA MVP race. It would be well deserved.–OnPointPress.net– Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a training/benefits consultant. Follow me @GloverIsGood on Twitter.com. For business inquiries contact (646)309-1938.

OKC’s Russell Westbrook’s popularity soars in wide open NBA MVP race

(l-r) James Harden, Stephen Curry, LeBron James, and Russell Westbrook have made strong cases for NBA MVP this season.

(l-r) James Harden, Stephen Curry, LeBron James, and Russell Westbrook have made strong cases for NBA MVP this season.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

There are roughly six weeks left in the current NBA regular season and the race for NBA’s Most Valuable Player is still wide open. As teams finish the last quarter of the regular season, fans will weigh in on their favorite for MVP this year. The MVP race is indicative of an excellent NBA regular season that has about two thirids of the teams jockeying for playoff position at this time.

Karl Malone finished just ahead of Alonzo Mourning and Tim Duncan to win his 2nd MVP in 1998-99.

Karl Malone finished just ahead of Alonzo Mourning and Tim Duncan to win his 2nd MVP in 1998-99.

This MVP race is setting up to be the closest race since the 1998-99 lockout shortened NBA season when Karl Malone won his second MVP award. What makes this season comparable to that one is that there was no strong favorite to win the NBA title for that season which seemed to enhance the importance of the regular season. This season has the same uncertainty about the postseason, which makes playoff seeding and the regular season seem more important than usual. Here is the case for the top MVP candidates:

LeBron James is in the MVP conversation every season and this  year is no different. He might be in line for his 5th MVP this year.

LeBron James is in the MVP conversation every season and this year is no different. He might be in line for his 5th MVP this year.

Four- time regular season MVP-winner LeBron James is helping his Cleveland Cavaliers move up in the standings in the Eastern Conference while having his usual fantastic season. James is currently third in scoring with 26.3 ppg and seventh in assists at 7.3 apg. His value is not only determined simply by his numbers as the Cavaliers had a recent stretch of winning 19 out of 21 games. James can solidify his fifth MVP if his team can continue moving up in the standings because James will continue playing at his current high level.

Stephen Curry has emerged as a top star this year while his team has emerged as a title contender this season.

Stephen Curry has emerged as a top star this year while his team has emerged as a title contender this season.

Stephen Curry has helped the Golden State Warriors  reach the top of the Western Conference at this point of the season. Curry is currently fifth in scoring  with 23.8 ppg sixth in assists at 7.8 apg. Curry has seen his national profile grow in conjunction with the success of his team this season. At this time, the Warriors have the best record in the West at 47 – 12. If they can maintain their lead in the conference, it will greatly help Curry’s MVP case.

James Harden won the 6th man of the Year Award a few years ago while playing for the Thunder. Harden is hoping to add MVP to his mantle in Houston this year.

James Harden won the 6th man of the Year Award a few years ago while playing for the Thunder. Harden is hoping to add MVP to his mantle in Houston this year.

James Harden has been excellent this season for the Houston Rockets. His impact has  has been necessary with Dwight Howard’s many injuries. Harden is currently second in scoring with ppg 26.9 and tenth in assists at 7 apg. His scoring and playmaking have helped the Rockets stay in the hunt for home court advantage in the playoffs this season. If Harden can regain the scoring lead and help the Rockets finish as a top four seed in the West, it will drastically help his case for MVP.

Russell Westbrook's recent hot stretch has helped change perceptions that Westbrook is a selfish player. Westbrook may add regular season MVP to All-Star game MVP if continues playing at his current pace.

Russell Westbrook’s recent hot stretch has helped change perceptions that Westbrook is a selfish player. Westbrook may add regular season MVP to All-Star game MVP if continues playing at his current pace.

Russell Westbrook has helped keep the Oklahoma City Thunder’s playoff hopes alive with the prolonged absence of last season’s MVP Kevin Durant. Westbrook’s recent stretch of four consecutive triple-doubles has helped move him to the top of the NBA in scoring with 27 ppg and fourth in assists at 8.2 apg. The Thunder are still battling with the Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans for the final playoff spot in a tough Western Conference. If Westbrook can maintain his high level of play and help the Thunder move up from the 8th seed, it would help his MVP case.

This season will be remembered for many things: James’ reunification in Cleveland, injuries to top stars, and the disappointment of some the NBA’s most esteemed franchises. However, the playoffs and MVP race will likely make this season remembered fondly for years to come.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a training/benefits consultant. Follow me @GloverIsGood on Twiiter.com. For business inquiries contact (646)309-1938.

NBA All-Star Weekend set to torture long-suffering New York basketball fans

New York will be center stage as the best NBA players participate in several events for All-Star Weekend 2015.

New York will be center stage as the best NBA players participate in several events for All-Star Weekend 2015.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

1976 was the year of the bicentennial celebration of America’s independence, Sugar Ray Leonard and Bruce Jenner were celebrated for winning their gold medals in the 1976 Olympics, and the NBA and ABA merged, uniting the best basketball players in one league. 1976 also happens to be the last year a professional basketball team won a championship in New York.

"Dr. J" Julius Erving led the NY Nets past the Denver Nuggets for the last ABA championship in 1976.

“Dr. J” Julius Erving led the NY Nets past the Denver Nuggets for the last ABA championship in 1976.

Julius Erving led the New York Nets, based in Long Island, to an upset victory over David Thompson and the Denver Nuggets. 29 years later, the NBA’s best players will take center stage in New York, with events taking place at both Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden.

Erving (l) and David Thompson (r) not only went head-to-head in the 1976 ABA Finals but also the inaugural slam dunk competition as well. Dr, J was victorious on both occasions.

Erving (l) and David Thompson (r) not only went head-to-head in the 1976 ABA Finals but also the inaugural slam dunk competition as well. Dr, J was victorious on both occasions.

Friday and Saturday will be highlighted by the Celebrity Basketball game and a newly formatted Rising Stars challenge that will pit first and second year players from the US against international players. 1976 was also the year of the inaugural slam dunk competition, won by “Dr. J” Julius Erving. Saturday, will also feature the Slam Dunk competition, as well as the Skills Challenge, and a star-studded 3-point shootout.

The Eastern Conference starters that were voted for Sunday's game. (l - r) Pau Gasol, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, John Wall, and Kyle Lowry.

The Eastern Conference starters that were voted for Sunday’s game. (l – r) Pau Gasol, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, John Wall, and Kyle Lowry.

The Friday and Saturday events scheduled for the Barclays Center will surely be entertaining, Sunday’s All-Star game at MSG should be intriguing. LeBron James will headline an Eastern squad that will feature four Atlanta Hawks and the lone New York representative in Carmelo Anthony.

Steph Curry (l) and James Harden (r) are top MVP candidates this season and will compete in the 3-point shootout while starting together in the backcourt  for Sunday's All-Star game.

Steph Curry (l) and James Harden (r) are top MVP candidates this season and will compete in the 3-point shootout while starting together in the backcourt for Sunday’s All-Star game.

The Western squad will be headlined by this season’s MVP candidates Steph Curry and James Harden. The West will be the favorite in the matchup as their team also includes the best duo in the NBA in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant as well as talented big men in LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol, and DeMarcus Cousins.

The last time the Knicks went to the NBA Finals was the year after New York hosted the 1998 All-Star game. Larry Johnson's 4-point play against the Indiana Pacers was perhaps the most memorable  shot on that Finals run.

The last time the Knicks went to the NBA Finals was the year after New York hosted the 1998 All-Star game. Larry Johnson’s 4-point play against the Indiana Pacers was perhaps the most memorable shot on that Finals run.

While NBA fans will have the opportunity to enjoy the splendor of New York, weather permitting, and marvel at the best players the league has to offer, Knicks and Nets fans will have to return to a season where both teams have been disappointments. But who knows? The last time New York hosted the NBA All-Star game was 1998 then the Knicks went to the Finals the following year. So there’s a little hope for New York basketball fans.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a training/benefits consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twiiter.com. For business inquiries contact (646)309-1938.

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.

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.

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.

NCAA March Madness vs. NBA draft policy: Are changes needed? (Part I)

The logo for the NBA draft.

The NBA Draft Logo is on the minds of March Madness players who hope to make the leap to the NBA this summer, but as debate heats up it is clear that changes should be considered.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

As March Madness continues to draw more basketball fans to the television, the topic of players making it to the National Basketball Association (NBA) frequently comes up. The current model for the NBA draft allows for players to declare for the draft a year after graduation from high school. The common route for exceptional players is to spend a year in college playing basketball before declaring for the draft, a prospect that many are unhappy with and constantly discuss.

NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West

NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West has shared his views about the draft policy.

It is clear that the current NBA draft model is unpopular with many fans and players. Among the complaints with the model are the claims that NBA product is being compromised, the NCAA product is disturbed, and that the majority of the young players are unprepared for the fame, fortune, and high expectations. Although there is validity in some of these concerns, there are also exaggerations attached as well. Hall of Famer Jerry West, recently commented on the issue, in assessing the NBA talent pool.

“The NBA is in the worst shape it’s ever been,'” he said. One of the reasons for his critique was based on the number of young players yet to mature into what they were expected to as they were brought into the league. Another Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley, took it a step further by making it very clear that players need more time.

“I want kids to stay in college for two years…bad teams aren’t getting help, they’re getting projects,” Barkley said.

Barkley has been vocal as a March Madness commentator in sharing his opinion that college players need a minimum of two years in college to mature enough to be productive in the NBA as soon as they are drafted.

Hall of Famer Charles Barkley

Hall of Famer /TNT and March Madness Commentator Charles Barkley has consistently stated that potential NBA players need a minimum of two years in college in order to develop their game.

While West and Barkley are focusing on negative aspects of young players drafted in the NBA, they are completely absolving the executives that are paid millions to evaluate and enhance the performance of the young players they bring into the league. In fact, there is no direct correlation between age and performance as demonstrated by many of the recent draft classes. When supporters of players being eligible to enter the NBA straight out of high school mention recent ‘One-and-done players’ who are successful in the NBA, the counter is to call them ‘exceptions.’

The reality is every NBA player is the exception. Additionally, there is little to show that players like Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, or John Wall needed to stay in school a second year in order to become good players in the NBA. However, there is no escaping the reality that there is always an abundance of players not quite good enough to excel at the highest level of basketball, regardless of how long they prepare before entering the league. A possible solution is changing the NBA draft to resemble the college draft rules of Major League Baseball (MLB).

Anthony Davis (l) and Kyrie Irving (r) are former number 1 overall picks that spent less than two years in college.

Anthony Davis (l) and Kyrie Irving (r) are former No. 1 overall picks who spent less than two years in college.

MLB’s draft rules allow players to declare for the draft straight out of high school but if the player elects to go to college he must stay for at least three years. The NBA should adopt that rule and amend it to two years in college. The NBA is the best place for players to improve their games.

“College coaches work more on masking a player’s weaknesses…rather than improving the player and risk losing in the process,” NBA trainer and ESPN insider David Thorpe said about the issue.

Thorpe’s assessment explains why so many players have several skills that need to be developed, even after spending years in college. If the NBA wants to improve its product then the new commissioner, Adam Silver, and his team needs to hold the million dollar executives who own and operate NBA teams accountable for better scouting and developing of the young players drafted in the NBA.–OnPointPress.net

Charles Glover Jr. is a sports aficionado and 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.