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–

 

Congrats to Allen Iverson on Hall of Fame induction

Allen Iverson is one of the 10 selected to the 2016 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Allen Iverson is one of the 10 selected to the 2016 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Allen Iverson (A.I.) was one of 10 people selected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame today. Other notables include Yao Ming, Sheryl Swoopes,Tom Izzo, Jerry Reinsdorf and Shaquille O’neal. All are very deserving but none captured the hearts of the masses like Iverson.

LeBron James was asked about the basketball phenomenon ahead of Iverson’s retirement ceremony in Philadelphia in 2013 and had this to say:

AI“They say he was 6 feet, but A.I. was like 5-10½. Do we even want to say 160? 170 [pounds]? Do we even want to give him that much weight? And he played like a 6-8 2-guard. He was one of the greatest finishers we’ve ever seen. You could never question his heart. Ever. He gave it his all. A.I. was like my second-favorite player growing up, after [Michael Jordan] MJ.”

It is clear that Iverson is revered by fans and former colleagues. Comments from some of today’s best players confirm the respect he has earned. Dwyane Wade added these comments recently:

Iverson has received a great deal of praise from many who appreciated the way he played the game.

Iverson has received a great deal of praise from many who appreciated the way he played the game.

“My favorite moment is getting a chance to play against him for the first time in preseason, it was in Puerto Rico. I got a chance to be around him the night before and it was a cool experience for me. I got a chance to play with him in the Olympics after my rookie year. I got to be around him as well. He’s just a real cool guy, someone who came in and just loved the game of basketball, gave everything he had to it.”

Iverson was a personal favorite going back to his days as a member of the Georgetown Hoyas and has been as influential off the court as he was on the court. Iverson’s Reebok sneaker line has been one of the most successful of all time. Congratulations to all of the Hall of Fame inductees, especially Allen Iverson.–OnPointPress.net–

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.

Yankees, famous friends, honor Derek Jeter with his own special day

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was honored for his exemplary career on Sunday.

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was honored for his exemplary career on Sunday.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Sunday, September 7 was a busy sports day with the majority of the NFL regular season opening games, the women’s U.S. Open, and the WNBA Finals beginning. It was also Derek Jeter Day in the Bronx, with the New York Yankees hosting the Kansas City Royals in the closing weeks of the MLB regular season.

Jeter was surrounded by several big names in sports as he was honored on Sunday

Jeter was surrounded by several big names in sports as he was honored on Sunday

Jeter’s star-studded ceremony featured MLB Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr., Dave Winfield, and Joe Torre. Some of Jeter’s former Yankees teammates that were present were Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui, David Cone, Bernie Williams, and Mariano Rivera. Torre shared, “Somebody asked me to use one word to describe him, I said trustworthy.”

Jeter has been a fan favorite since he was called up to join the team in 1995.

Jeter has been a fan favorite since he was called up to join the team in 1995.

Jeter’s current teammates surprised him by not joining him on the field at the beginning of the game, allowing the Yankees Captain to have one last chance to be cheered by the fans before the game began. Jeter said of the gesture by his teammates, “My first thought was that I had run out there too early. I appreciate my teammates doing that for me.”

Michael Jordan applauded Jeter on a wonderful career.

Michael Jordan applauded Jeter on a wonderful career.

Perhaps the biggest star to attend the ceremony celebrating the captain was NBA Hall of Famer and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan, who has been friends with the shortstop since they met in 1994. Jeter is also signed to Jordan’s brand. In his remarks about Jeter, Jordan said:

“Winning thrives on great leadership and he’s a great leader. Being in the city of New York where one little hiccup can basically fry your personality or your persona and this kid has done everything the right way.”

Derek Jeter pictured with his mother Dorothy (l), sister Sharlee (c) and father Charles (r).

Derek Jeter pictured with his mother Dorothy (l), sister Sharlee (c) and father Charles (r).

Among the gifts presented to Jeter during the ceremony were:
– A proclamation from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio that Sunday Sept. 7, 2014 is Derek Jeter Day
– A Mettler G5 clinical massage therapy machine
– A framed and matted piece with patches from the 14 appearances Derek Jeter made to the All-Star game
– A 10-day trip to Tuscany
– A check for $222,222.22 for his Turn 2 Foundation
– A custom-made Waterford Crystal etched with Jeter’s final season logo

Jeter's Career statistics (through September 5, 2014): Batting average- .310 Hits - 3,448 Home runs - 259 Runs batted in (RBI) - 1,300 Stolen bases - 357

Jeter’s Career statistics (through September 5, 2014):
Batting average – .310
Hits – 3,448
Home runs – 259
Runs batted in (RBI) – 1,300
Stolen bases – 357

Yankees fans hope the team can overcome a rough season to send their captain off with a championship but that seems unlikely. After losing yesterday’s game to the Royals (2 – 0), the Yankees are now 9 1/2 games behind the Baltimore Orioles in the division and 4 1/2 games out of the Wildcard to make the playoffs. No matter how the season ends, Yankees fans will always celebrate their captain, Derek Jeter.-OnPointPress.net-

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

Allen Iverson receives well-deserved honor from 76ers

Allen Iverson surveys the crowd as the fans show their standard support for him.

Allen Iverson surveys the crowd as the fans show their standard support for him.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The  Philadelphia 76ers’ fans have had little to cheer for this season, but Saturday night, March 1, was different and the fans came out in droves to celebrate “The Answer” Allen Iverson. At halftime of the game between the 76ers and the Washington Wizards, Iverson was honored with the retiring of his jersey. Other 76ers whose jerseys have been retired by the 76ers, like “Dr. J” Julius Irving and Moses Malone, were also in attendance to honor the beloved star.

The 76ers  retired  the jersey  of Allen Iverson on March 1, 2014.

The 76ers retired Allen Iverson’s jersey on March 1, 2014.

Iverson was clearly choked up as he took to the podium to address the sold out crowd. During Iverson’s playing days, the only predictable aspect of his game was endless energy and effort. So it came as no surprise that the first person Iverson thanked wasn’t his family or friends, but Michael Jordan. Iverson explained his motivation for playing basketball by sharing, “Growing up, I was one of those kids that wanted to be like Mike.” Iverson thanked his family and closest friends by name as well as many of his closest 76ers teammates by name. As many people Iverson would go on to thank (including former General Manager Billy King and former owner Pat Croce), he realized he would not name everyone stating, “to those I didn’t mention, you know who you are and what you meant to me.”

Iverson looking very much like he did when he was taken with the first overall pick  in the 96' draft.

The ageless Allen Iverson looking very much like he did when he was taken with the first overall pick in the 96′ draft.

While Iverson omitted to mention some of his famous coaches like Larry Brown and John Thompson, he was as inclusive as one could expect, including thanking his competitors for “bringing the best out of me.” Iverson’s connection with the Philadelphia crowd has always been reminiscent of the fictitious Philly hero Rocky. Iverson’s never-ending drive, literally and physically, to win was embraced by the fans in a way few athletes have ever experienced. His influence on the NBA was expansive as Iverson’s distinctive style, including corn rows and numerous tattoos, would become commonplace shortly after he entered the league.

Iverson had one of the most successful sneaker brands for Reebok that garnered him a lifetime endorsement deal with that company. Iverson’s fans acknowledge his missteps on and off the court but celebrate the passion and excitement that “The Answer” brought to the game of basketball. The honor bestowed upon him by the 76ers organization on Saturday was well-deserved. –OnPointPress.net

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