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.

Recent NBA Finals show good offense, not defense, wins championships

While defense is always important, these champions have used offense to reach the ultimate goal. (clockwise from top left) LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki.

While defense is always important, these champions have used offense to reach the ultimate goal. (clockwise from top left) LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

With the NFL playoffs underway, the old adage “defense wins championships” will be repeated ad nauseam by commentators and analysts. While that may apply to other sports regularly, the NBA has seen a trend of offensive excellence in recent NBA champions. While contributors at sportingcharts.com may have concluded, “Having an efficient defense is more important than an efficient offense,” it seems a great offense is better than a great defense.

The 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs showed true offensive dominance during their championship run last season.

The 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs showed true offensive dominance during their championship run last season.

Case in point, the 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs put forth one of the most dominant shooting displays en route to a 4-1 route of the Miami Heat. According to ESPN Stats and Info, “All four of the Spurs wins came by at least 15 points, outscoring the Heat by an average of 14 per game for the series. That’s the largest points per game differential in NBA Finals history, breaking the record of +12.6 PPG by the 1964-65 Celtics in their victory over the Lakers.”

Both Tim Duncan (l) and Kawhi Leonard (r) have been NBA Finals MVP. They were both excellent defensively but also efficient offensively when they won the award.

Both Tim Duncan (l) and Kawhi Leonard (r) have been NBA Finals MVP. They were both excellent defensively but also efficient offensively when they won the award.

The Spurs had 4 regular rotation players shoot 50 percent or better from the floor and 35 percent or better from the 3-point line for the playoffs. In the NBA Finals their team shooting was even better with 6 regular rotation players shooting 50 percent or better and 6 different rotation players shooting 35 percent or better from the 3-point line.

(left-right) Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Jeff Teague, and Al Horford have helped the Atlanta Hawks to one of best records in the NBA with their offensive efficiency. Can they sustain this high level into the playoffs?

(left-right) Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Jeff Teague, and Al Horford have helped the Atlanta Hawks to one of best records in the NBA with their offensive efficiency. Can they sustain this high level into the playoffs?

Excellent shooting has become the deciding factor for NBA champions for the last decade now. Since 2005, every NBA champion has had at least 2 regular rotation players shoot at least 50 percent from the field and at least 3 regular rotation players shoot 35 percent or better from the 3-point line. Efficiency has become essential offensively as teams have transitioned away from the ground and pound style of offense that tended to be predictable to defend.

Could this be an NBA Finals preview? Stephan Curry (l) has the Golden State Warriors at the top of the Western Conference. Meanwhile, Kyle Lowry (r) has helped lead the Toronto Raptors to one of the best records in the East.

Could this be an NBA Finals preview? Stephen Curry (l) has the Golden State Warriors at the top of the Western Conference. Meanwhile, Kyle Lowry (r) has helped lead the Toronto Raptors to one of the best records in the East.

As the NBA season nears the halfway point, a handful of low-seeded playoff teams have become top seeds in the conference. Though it is still early in the season, comparing teams by offensive efficiency might be the best way to determine which teams will have long playoff runs. As of today, only the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors meet the 50 or 35 percent field goal/3-point threshold common in the last ten NBA champions with the Atlanta narrowly missing the criteria.

New York Times writer Rodger Sherman recently stated during last season’s playoffs, “Being the staunchest, stingiest squad on paper does not mean as much as an old saying might make it seem.” As the season continues, it seems efficient offenses, not stingy defenses, will be the best way to determine the next NBA champion.–OnPointPress.net–

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

Tim Duncan’s impressive resume is tops in current team sports

Tim Duncan (c) celebrates his 5th NBA championship  with his Spurs teammates.

Tim Duncan (c) celebrates his 5th NBA championship with his Spurs teammates.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The San Antonio Spurs are again NBA champions, the franchise’s 5th title, all with Tim Duncan on the court and coach Gregg Popovich at the helm. However, as the Spurs continue to be celebrated for their teamwork, Duncan’s individual greatness seems to be a bit undersold. Simply put, Duncan has the best resume of all current players in any American team sport today.

Duncan, pictured with Tony Parker (l) and Bruce Bowen (r), won Finals MVP honors on 3 different occasions.

Duncan, pictured with Tony Parker (l) and Bruce Bowen (r), won Finals MVP honors on 3 different occasions.

Duncan’s resume includes 14 All-Star appearances (in 17 years played), 14 All-NBA selections (10 1st team selections), Rookie of the Year honors, 14 All-Defensive selections (8 1st team and 6 2nd team), 2 NBA MVP awards (2002-2003), 3 NBA Finals MVP awards (!999, 2003, 2005), and 5 NBA championships (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014).

LeBron James is a 2-time NBA champion with 2 Finals MVP awards but has lost to Tim Duncan and the Spurs on 2 different occasions.

LeBron James is a 2-time NBA champion with 2 Finals MVP awards but has lost to Tim Duncan and the Spurs on 2 different occasions.

The list of comparable players would include huge names in his sport like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. It would also include baseball players Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols or David Ortiz. Football stars Peyton Manning and Tom Brady would also be included in the list of whose resume’s fall short of Duncan’s.

The case for Duncan stems from the length of time he and his team have been elite, his indiviual excellence in his prime, and the nuumber of championships he has helped lead his team to win. In basketball, the only current star with as many rings as Duncan is Bryant. Bryant was a major part of a Los Angeles Lakers team that won 3 consecutive championships (2000 – 2002) but he has only won NBA MVP once, was given one less Finals MVP award than Duncan, and spent the beginnng half of his career no better than the second best player on his team.

Kobe Bryant is one of the most decorated NBA players of all time. He was awarded Finals MVP twice (2009,2010).

Kobe Bryant is one of the most celebrated NBA players of all time. He was awarded Finals MVP twice (2009,2010).

Though Duncan played his first 6 seasons along side Hall of Fame Center David Robinson, Duncan established himself as the team’s best player by his second season. As Bryant has spent the last two seasons recovering from injuries, Duncan has helped lead his team to consecutive NBA Finals appearances. Duncan’s top notch performances in the last two seasons also illustrate how vital he is to his team’s success.

Derek Jeter is one of the most celebrated baseball players in history and is hoping that his final year playing with the Yankees  ends with a championship.

Derek Jeter is one of the most celebrated baseball players in history and is hoping that his final year playing with the Yankees ends with a championship.

Derek Jeter, the captain of the New York Yankees, is also known for being a classy, productive leader for a winning franchise. Jeter also has 5 championships and was a key part of a team that won 3 consecutive World Series (1998 – 2000) and 4 in 5 years. Jeter was World Series MVP in 2000 and was helped the team win another title in 2009. Yet, Jeter has never won league MVP, and played most of his career surrounded with a plethora of All-Star calliber players, which lessened the reliability of the Yankees on Jeter’s performance.

Peyton Manning is one of the NFL's biggest stars and one of the best quarterbacks of all time. He won Super Bowl MVP in 2006.

Peyton Manning is one of the NFL’s biggest stars and one of the best quarterbacks of all time. He won Super Bowl MVP in 2006.

Brady and Manning seem to be constantly linked as the two quarterbacks that are viewed as the best the NFL has seen in the past 20 years. Manning has had a stellar career to date, amassing 5 NFL MVP awards (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013), and 2 Offensive Player of the Year awards (2004, 2013). He won Super Bowl MVP in the one Super Bowl his team won in 2006. Manning has been the Super Bowl on two other occasions (2008, 2013) and was unsuccessful in those attempts.

Tom Brady is one of the most famous athletes in the world. Winning 3 Super Bowls and being married to one of the most famous super models in the world (Gisele Bundchen) can boost a person's popularity.

Tom Brady is one of the most famous athletes in the world. Winning 3 Super Bowls and being married to one of the most famous super models in the world (Gisele Bundchen) can boost a person’s popularity.

Brady has been the starting quarterback for the Patriots since 2001 when he helped the team win the first of 3 Super Bowls (2001, 2003, 2004). Brady was named Super Bowl MVP twice (2001, 2003), NFL MVP twice (2007, 2010), and Offensive Player of the year twice (2007, 2010). The Patriots also made it to the Super Bowl in 2007 and 2011 but came up short on both occasions. Brady has played his entire career with the same head coach, Bill Belichek, the same as Duncan and Popovich. While Brady has helped lead his team to the playoffs in many consecutive years, the fact that the Patriots haven’t won the Super Bowl since 2004 shows how difficult winning a championship really is.

Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich will be forever linked as they have helped lead the Spurs to 5 NBA titles.

Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich will be forever linked as they have helped lead the Spurs to 5 NBA titles.

Duncan is also known for his humility and stoic demeanor. Duncan is not in many commercials, isn’t married to a super model or a global icon. He is, however, a great basketball player whose career accomplishments stand above his contemporaries, even as he continues his career with no signs of slowing down. He may not want the extra attention that comes with his success, but he certainly deserves it.–OnPointPress.net–

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

Which team has the brighter future: the Knicks or the Lakers?

Carmelo Anthony (l) and Kobe Bryant (r) are in different circumstances for marquee franchises but both have championship aspirations for the next couple of seasons.

Carmelo Anthony (l) and Kobe Bryant (r) are in different circumstances with underperforming franchises but both have championship aspirations for the next couple of seasons.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The New York Knicks formally introduced Phil Jackson as president of basketball operations on Tuesday, March 18, sparking feelings of hope in the minds of optimistic fans. But there are plenty of skeptics who point to the tall task ahead of the “Zen Master” and many of the questions at the press conference were aimed at figuring out Jackson’s commitment to his first position as a basketball executive.

Phil Jackson had all the answers today at the press conference. This might not happen again for a while.

Phil Jackson seemed to have all the answers at Tuesday’s press conference. This might not happen again for a while.

There were a few noticeable takeaways from Tuesday’s press conference. Knicks fans must have felt annoyed to hear Knicks owner James Dolan almost gleefully admit: “I am not a basketball expert,” when he was asked specific questions. Dolan, however, recognized that it was time to hire someone who knows the game and he seemed happy to offer the position to Jackson. For his part, Jackson did not avoid the challenge with being present in New York year round, stating, “I plan to establish myself here [in New York] but I do have doctors and …other family I am committed to in L.A. as well.” With Jackson in the fold, there is a legitimate question as to which marquee, but underperforming franchise has a brighter immediate future: the New York Knicks or Los Angeles Lakers?

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has the experience of building a championship team.

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has the experience of building a championship team.

While Phil Jackson has plenty of experience as a basketball player and coach, current Knicks General Manager Steve Mills is in his first year in the position. This is in stark contrast to the Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak who is far more experienced. Kupchak is a former player and champion for the Washington Bullets and Lakers. He has been an executive for the Lakers since the late 1980’s. Kupchak learned directly under one of the best NBA executives of all times in Jerry West and has been the GM since 2000. This wealth of experience should give Lakers fans hope that Kupchak can fix the current mess the team finds itself in.

Knicks head coach Mike Woodson (l) and Lakers head coach Mike  D'Antoni may be looking for new jobs next season.

Knicks Head Coach Mike Woodson (l) and Lakers Head Coach Mike D’Antoni may be looking for new jobs next season.

There is a great deal of focus on the upcoming season and how these franchises will rebound, yet the Knicks still have a chance to make the playoffs this year. Knicks Head Coach Mike Woodson will have a hard time retaining his position regardless of the team’s final win-loss outcome. The Lakers are already eliminated from playoff contention and their coach, Mike D’Antoni, will have a difficult time convincing Lakers’ management to continue being patient with him, if the Lakers finally come to their senses. Neither team can know what direction their team is headed before they know who the leader of their team will be. Both franchises have to figure out the coach of the future to help create structure for these teams.

Robert Sacre (l), J.R. Smith (c), and Jordan Hill (r) are unheralded members of the Knicks and Lakers that are not likely in either teams' long term future.

Robert Sacre (l), J.R. Smith (c), and Jordan Hill (r) are unheralded members of the Knicks and Lakers that are not likely in either teams’ long term future.

The Lakers will have only Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash definitely on the roster for next season. They will have plenty of cap space and their first round draft pick this year. Meanwhile, the Knicks will be over the salary cap next season, whether Carmelo Anthony opts out of his contract or not, and they do not have a first round draft pick this year. Both teams have publicly stated a desire to wait until the summer of 2015, when a host of all-star caliber players become free agents, before they spend the money the team has available under the cap. This process may seem prudent but may not work for the stars of each prospective franchise. Bryant has only two years left on his deal, and maybe in his career. He has been clear in recent comments: “no I’m not that patient…I don’t want to be a part of another season like this,” he has said. Anthony has also been on the record stating, “I want to win championships…in the near future.”

Both teams have several decisions to make about players, personnel and coaches. The Knicks now have a brilliant basketball mind in the front office and a top 5 scorer currently under contract. However, the Lakers will have 2014 and 2015 to strategically spend free agent money, make trades, draft players, and build a championship contender, like they normally do. It’s a toss-up to see if the personnel/coaching/player movements will achieve the desired results for either team.–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.

Sports memories of 2013

LeBron James continues to prove he is the best basketball player on the planet as he wins the NBA Championship and  Finals MVP in consecutive years.

LeBron James continues to prove he is the best basketball player on the planet as he wins the NBA Championship and Finals MVP in consecutive years.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Every year has a unique sports identity and 2013 had a number of trends that immediately come to mind. This year the sports world treated us to fantastic moments like a Super Bowl that was decided in the final minutes and thrilling plays throughout a seven-game series in the NBA Finals. Game 6 of the NBA Finals might be viewed as the game of the year as it provided us with scintillating plays all the way to the end.

Ray Allen (r) makes what might be the play of the year in 2013 as he drills a 3 pointer to tie Game 6 in the final seconds of regulation over Tony Parker (c) and Kawhi Leonard (l).

Ray Allen (r) makes what might be the play of the year in 2013 as he drills a 3-pointer to tie Game 6 in the final seconds of regulation over Tony Parker (c) and Kawhi Leonard (l).

We also witnessed serious tragedy in sports, headlined by the bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. While there was something memorable about the different sporting events throughout 2013, there were some trends that connected the various sports.

 

Derek Jeter (l) and Kobe Bryant (r) are hoping to fully recover from their injuries and have a much better 2014.

Derek Jeter (l) and Kobe Bryant (r) are hoping to fully recover from their injuries and have a much better 2014.

Superstar injuries: 2013 was a year in which some of the biggest names in sports spent a great deal of time on the injured list. Derek Jeter, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Rob Gronkowski, Matt Harvey, Robert Griffin III, Matt Kemp, Rajon Rondo, Arian Foster and Russell Westbrook were just several of the many All-Star caliber players  who suffered lengthy injuries this calendar year. Adrian Peterson has altered the perception of the impact of some of these injuries as he returned in record time to win the 2012-13 National Football League (NFL) MVP award after tearing the ACL in his knee at the end of the 2011-12 season. It is becoming apparent that Peterson’s recovery was exceptional and that it seems unreasonable to expect any athlete to return to action and be better than they were before the injury.

 

Serena Williams raises her title as she continues her dominance at the U.S. Open.

Serena Williams raises her title as she continues her dominance at the U.S. Open.

Elite performances by the elite performers: The 2013 calendar year was tremendous for the best players in almost every sport. Peyton Manning set NFL records for quarterback in the 2013-14 season en route to a likely fifth MVP award. Miguel Cabrera proved to be the best offensive player in Major League Baseball (MLB), winning the American League (AL) MVP award for the second consecutive season. Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal each won two out of four Grand Slam titles this year on the tennis tour. Tiger Woods reclaimed his position as the number one ranked golfer in the world while winning five tournaments in 2013. Perhaps no performance stands out more than LeBron James capturing his second consecutive National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals MVP award and fourth league MVP award this year as he led the Miami Heat to back-to-back championships.

 

Mariano Rivera was classy as he watched the mess that is New York sports crumble around him,.

Mariano Rivera was classy as he watched the mess that is New York sports crumble around him.

Tough year in New York sports: The Yankees and Mets both faced numerous injuries to key players and failed to make the postseason this year. The Yankees had to watch their rivals the Boston Red Sox win another title. They also have to try to cope with the retirement of legend Mariano Rivera, the loss of their best offensive player Robinson Cano, the unavailability of currently suspended, scandal-plagued player Alex Rodriguez while hoping that Derek Jeter is going to be healthy and productive all season. The Giants and Jets both had mediocre seasons and will be watching the upcoming NFL playoffs from home, missing the chance to play in the Super Bowl which will be played in their hometown. Both football teams will likely make numerous player changes as they look to rebound next year. The Knicks and Nets are off to painfully slow starts to the 2013-14 NBA season. Any talk about NBA championship contention for either team seems extremely far-fetched as both teams have a long way to go just to make the playoffs this year.

 

2013 Boston Marathon participants are emotional wrecks as they witness copious innocent people injured on the street.

2013 Boston Marathon participants are emotional wrecks as they witness copious innocent people injured on the street.

Sporting world’s negative headlines: The two bombs that exploded during the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 may be the most unfortunately memorable event that took place in sports. With approximately 264 people injured and 3 spectators killed that day, the tragedy unfolded slowly over the next few days after the marathon as the manhunt, shootout with one alleged perpetrator and eventual capture of the other alleged perpetrators played out on television like harrowing scenes from the FOX Network show 24.

Many were surprised to witness Aaron Hernandez being arrested in connection with a murder shortly before the start of the NFL season.

Many were surprised to witness Aaron Hernandez being arrested in connection with a murder shortly before the start of the NFL season.

2013 was also witness to the arrest for murder and gun charges of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez is currently imprisoned as he awaits trial for the serious charges. The Miami Dolphins sparked greater debates about bullying in athletics as news surfaced about Jonathan Martin walking away from the team after alleging that he was bullied by teammates, specifically Richie Incognito. The NFL is still investigating this matter. Meanwhile, Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston was able to perform on the field while being investigated by local Florida prosecutors after he was accused of sexually assaulting a female who also attends Florida State. The prosecutor’s decision to not pursue charges against Winston still raised questions about whether some athletes get special treatment from law enforcement as the attorney for the accuser remains adamant that her client was violated. At the same time, Winston consistently asserted that his encounter with the accuser was consensual and that he “did nothing wrong.”

The Louisville Cardinals honor injured teammate Kevin Ware as they celebrate winning the National Championship in college basketball.

The Louisville Cardinals honor injured teammate Kevin Ware as they celebrate winning the National Championship in college basketball.

2013 was quite an eventful and memorable sports year. Kevin Ware breaking his leg during the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament was a gruesome sight but provided the impetus to propel the Louisville Cardinals to the national title. College football’s Nick Saban, coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide and Women’s college basketball’s Geno Auriemma of the Connecticut Huskies proved to be the dominant coaches in their sports as they led their teams to another national title.

Ray Lewis' last game in the NFL ended with him holding the Lombardi Trophy as the Baltimore Ravens were victorious.

Ray Lewis’ last game in the NFL ended with him holding the Lombardi Trophy as the Baltimore Ravens were victorious.

The Minnesota Lynx (WNBA) and Miami Heat (NBA) won championships in 2013 and have been in the finals each of the last three years. “Big Papi” David Ortiz led the Boston Red Sox through the post season again to win the World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals. Meanwhile, Ray Lewis was able to retire on top as the Baltimore Ravens pulled out a narrow victory over the San Francisco 49ers. With the Winter Olympics in Russia and World Cup in Brazil (for which the U.S. team was placed in the Group of Death) on docket, 2014 seems poised to garner even more interest than 2013 did in the sports world.–OnPointPress.net–

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

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.