FBI vs NCAA

It was my Senior year of High School when my outlook on college sports changed.  My idol Jim Tressel was under investigation for lying to the NCAA when he knew about 5 players exchanging their own goods to get discounted tattoos.

We can argue on how big of deal that incident was.  My point is from that day forward I never trusted a coach on how “clean” a program is.

I made it a point to never be shocked when a player accepted benefits like Cam Newton or Reggie Bush.

I wasn’t shocked when North Carolina was caught putting athletes in classes that didn’t exist.

I wasn’t even shocked when I heard Louisville gave recruits on their visits strippers and prostitutes.

I was shocked on some occasions, like the Penn State and Baylor incidents.

But for the most part nothing shocked me, I love college sports even more than pro sports.  I watched every game with just the assumption that their was a little dirty play under the table.

I always assumed the NCAA knew when they give half-ass sanctions like Louisville and North Carolina.  Loss of scholarship, ban of postseason play etc.

The NCAA has always done just enough to get people off their backs, because eventually something knew would come up and we could talk about that.

Even with Sandusky at Penn State or Briles at Baylor never once did I think the NCAA would be in trouble.

Today is different, today I do wonder if this is the beginning of the end for the NCAA as we know it.

Here is an article written by cnbc.com describing the incident.  Link HERE

The FBI has arrested 10 people, including four NCAA basketball coaches and an Adidas manager, in a bribery investigation involving recruitment efforts.

The probe has revealed numerous instances of bribes paid to assistant and associate basketball coaches to exert influence over student athletes, according to documents filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The papers were unsealed on Tuesday.

Among those arrested were Lamont Evans, an associate coach of Oklahoma State University, Chuck Person, an associate coach of Auburn University, Emanuel “Book” Richardson, an assistant coach of the University of Arizona, and Tony Bland, an associate coach of the University of Southern California.

FBI arrests NCAA basketball coaches and Adidas rep in bribery probe  

The FBI has arrested 10 people, including four NCAA basketball coaches and an Adidas manager, in a bribery investigation involving recruitment efforts.

The probe has revealed numerous instances of bribes paid to assistant and associate basketball coaches to exert influence over student athletes, according to documents filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The papers were unsealed on Tuesday.

Among those arrested were Lamont Evans, an associate coach of Oklahoma State University, Chuck Person, an associate coach of Auburn University, Emanuel “Book” Richardson, an assistant coach of the University of Arizona, and Tony Bland, an associate coach of the University of Southern California.

 

Investigators said Evans bragged about his ability to steer athletes toward prospective agents and advisers, promising “every guy I recruit and get is my personal kid.”

A representative from Oklahoma State University told CNBC: “We were surprised to learn this morning of potential actions against one of our assistant basketball coaches by federal officials. We are reviewing and investigating the allegations.”

“We are cooperating fully with officials,” the Oklahoma State representative added. “Let it be clear we take very seriously the high standards of conduct expected in our athletic department. We will not tolerate any deviation from those standards.”

The other schools allegedly involved didn’t immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.

The other individuals arrested are managers, financial advisors and a representative of German footwear maker Adidas.

According to court documents, the sports apparel executive listed is James “Jim” Gatto, whose LinkedIn profile identifies him as Adidas’ director of global sports marketing for basketball.

Gatto has been accused of getting $100,000 to an “All-American high school basketball player” — so the player would attend a school with an apparel contract with Adidas.

The description of that particular university — a public institution in Kentucky with 22,640 students — would match the University of Louisville. A representative from the school didn’t immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Shares of Adidas fell more than 2 percent in Germany and the U.S. after the report.

“Today, we became aware that federal investigators arrested an adidas employee,” a spokeswoman from the international sports retailer said in a statement.

“We are learning more about the situation,” she wrote. “We’re unaware of any misconduct and will fully cooperate with authorities to understand more.”

Court papers show the FBI has been conducting a bribery investigating involving athletic recruiting at NCAA schools since 2015.

Investigators said basketball coaches have the ability to provide student athletes access to sports agents and other important figures.

“Moreover, many such coaches have enormous influence over the student-athletes who play for them, in particular with respect to guiding those student-athletes through the process of selecting agents and other advisers when they prepare to leave college and enter the NBA,” the complaints said.

“The investigation has revealed several instances in which coaches have exercised that influence by steering players and their families to retain particular advisers, not because of the merits of those advisers, but because the coaches were being bribed by the advisers to do so,” the court papers added.

The FBI made the 10 arrests Monday evening, a senior law enforcement official told NBC News. Person was arrested in Alabama; Bland in Tampa, Florida; Evans in Oklahoma; and Richardson in Arizona.

The U.S. attorney for New York held a press conference Tuesday afternoon, offering more details about the arrests.

Joon H. Kim, the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said the probe had been “covert,” and the NCAA wasn’t made aware of the investigation until Tuesday. The full investigation is said to unveil “the dark belly of college basketball.”

Kim described what him and his team have uncovered as, “coaches at some of the nation’s top programs taking cash bribes, managers and advisers circling blue-chip prospects like coyotes, and employees of a global sportswear company funneling cash to families of high school recruits.”

“For the 10 charged men, the madness of college basketball went well beyond the Big Dance in March,” he added.

— CNBC’s Sara Salinas, Michael Sheetz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

If you are a big college basketball fan I would refrain from bragging about how your school doesn’t cheat.  This is an ongoing investigation, from the sounds of it things may not stop at these four schools.
Two of college basketballs major programs are mentioned above.  Louisville and Arizona.  Both have perennial coaches in Sean Miller and Rick Pitino.
Miller is arguably a top five coach in college basketball and Pitino has escaped many scandals in the past few years.
He escaped the Louisville sex scandal where an assistant was buying prostitutes for recruits.
Pitino had to admit in court consensual sex with a women and paid for an abortion in a case where that same women was being charged with extorting Pitino.
Which he then admitted that he only lasted 15 seconds and finished down his leg.  The sex also took place in an Olive Garden.  Let that sink in for a moment.
Lets all take a moment and laugh at that so we can get back to the seriousness of these allegations.
Because, most likely this investigation will last a lot longer than Pitino himself.
This could be the scandal that does Pitino in and possibly end his career as a college basketball coach.
This isn’t just coaches trying to get players to attend their schools, this is a company buying kids at a young age in hopes to get return in the long run.
Adidas is now involved, which makes you think what is Nike, and Under Armour doing?  The competition between these three is something people pay attention to.
People follow what athlete signs where.  It was a big deal when Durant signed with Nike a few summers ago or Harden signs the biggest shoe deal in history with Adidas.
It makes you think how far does this really go?  Does it stop at shoes?  We all had a feeling this happened with agents.  Where agents associate themselves with college athletes in hopes they will sign with them once they enter the pros.  But, are other companies trying to get a leg up as well?
Maybe this is good for everyone, maybe this is the end to the NCAA as we know it.  The NCAA was able to pass down half ass sanctions and no one could do anything about it.
I have always said the NCAA never truly wanted to dig because they know how dirty this game is.  Why would the NCAA try to recover what truly a mess it is.
Here is a tweet from Stewart Mendel quoting the FBI director during the press conference.
The FBI doesn’t care, the FBI has more resources, they used wire-tapping and a disgraced financial advisor catch these coaches.
 A freaking google search!! You think if you are doing something illegal you would make sure you know who you are dealing with!  Don’t they watch Narcos?  Didn’t you see how tight Pablo Escobar ran things?  And you can’t do a freaking google search?
Anyway…
All we know is what they currently can prove, who knows what they are on the verge of proving.
Also, who says they are going to stop at basketball?  Could football be next?  If they uncover enough in Basketball could they move onto football?
This is not just a sad day for the NCAA, but it is a scary day for the NCAA and its fans.
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Kyrie Irving

For those of you who are living under a rock you may have missed the news about the trade that shook the NBA world.

Yesterday, The Cleveland Cavaliers dealt All Star Point Guard Kyrie Irving for the Celtics for All Star Point Guard Isiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the 2018 Brooklyn Nets pick that the Celtics received in return for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in 2013.

You could argue that this is the biggest trade of a wild NBA offseason.  You can argue Paul George to Oklahoma City, or Chris Paul to the Rockets.  But, it is hard to argue that the defending Eastern Conference Champions traded a guy who was such a crucial part of its championship run in 2016 to the Celtics who were the one seed in the East just a year ago.

When the season ended in June with the Cavs falling to the Warriors in just five games, no one would have imagined Kyrie Irving in a Celtics uniform just a few months later.

Irving averaged 29.4 points per game in these past finals, most notably scoring 40 in game 2 and 38 in game 3.  You also can’t forget Irvings 40 point game 5 performance in Golden State in 2016.

And of course you can not forget this shot to finally give Cleveland its first title in 52 years and the shot that gave me hope that good things do happen in life.

It is safe to say things in Cleveland didn’t end the way we all thought it would for Irving.

The guy who made the biggest play in Cleveland sports history was supposed to be loved forever.  He was supposed to never buy a drink or meal in Cleveland again.

When we tell our kids or our grandkids about Cavaliers basketball his name was supposed to be mentioned with a smile and all the great moments he brought to the Cavaliers franchise and that’s it.

Irvings name was not supposed to be linked to anything bad.  Although, I am sure even if Irvings career did end in Cleveland people will always make jokes how he thinks the earth is flat, or that one day he wanted to start a self-sustained economy on a farm. Lets also not forget the time he threw a boat party in Miami and only said white girls could come on the boat and party.  Last but not least we will talk about how he was boys with Bieber and his new hunk of a man pastor.

Correction.  If Kyrie stayed in Cleveland forever I would have told my kids something a long the lines “Kyrie Irving was a great exciting player who was the centerpiece to Clevelands first Championship in 52 years but was a very very weird.”

Now, when we talk about Kyrie Irving we will say something along the lines of “Kyrie Irving was a great exciting player who was the centerpiece to Clevelands first Championship in 52 years, but asked for a trade out of the blue with two years left on his contract even though we had a team that was set to go back to the finals.  Oh yeah he was very weird as well.”

Who knows what actually happened in the last few months to spark this trade.

Earlier this month ESPN’s Dave McMenamin said on the BBall Breakdown podcast that Irving was not talking to his teammates for days during the Cavs recent playoff run.

“He saw Kyrie Irving in the playoffs this year—in between the first round when they beat Indiana and the second round when they played Toronto—go consecutive days without speaking to a teammate at practice,” McMenamin said.

According to TMZ sports Irving seaked advice from Hillsong Church Pastor Carl Lentz about the situation.

Cavaliers superstar Kyrie Irving arrived at his reported decision to ask out of Cleveland the same way Justin Bieber chose to end his tour — through long chats with pastor Carl Lentz of Hillsong Church … TMZ Sports has learned.

Church sources tell us Kyrie, who’s been an active member for a long time, met with Lentz earlier this month about his desires to step out of LeBron James’ shadow. We’re told Lentz didn’t tell Kyrie to “leave Cleveland” — instead he listened to Kyrie’s concerns, and encouraged him to make the decision he felt was best.

If this story is true, which I believe it is because I can see Kyrie Irving falling into this bull shit, I will forever hate this pastor no matter how jealous I am of his good looks.

Then there is the main reason Kyrie wanted out.  Kyrie wanted to be THE guy, and was sick of living in Lebrons shadow.  Kyrie felt that he deserved more credit than he was getting.

Kyrie may not be a top 10 player in the NBA, but he is a top 10 brand.

According to Forbes.com Lebron and Kyrie teamed up to sell more shoes than any other NBA player.

“Nike sold more of James’ and Irving’s signature sneakers in the U.S. than those of any other active NBA player during the 12 months ending in March 2017, as measured by dollar volume, according to Matt Powell, an analyst at market research firm NPD Group.”

Kyrie also looks up to Kobe, he loves Kobe, he fucking worships Kobe, and he wants to be Kobe.  He even face timed Kobe after the Cavs won the  2016 Finals.

Kyrie is definitely following Kobes footsteps in trying to be someone he really isn’t and whether it is on or off the court doing everything exactly like his role model.

For those of you who don’t get it Kobe did everything he could to be EXACTLY like Michael Jordan.

If you don’t remember the Kobe and Shaq feud in LA, where things got so bad between the two, the Lakers were forced to decide between Kobe and Shaq.

Shaq was later traded to Miami where he won one more ring alongside Dwayne Wade and Kobe took the reigns of the franchise.

After Shaq left Kobe had nine consecutive season of averaging 25 points or more, and two of those seasons he averaged over 30 ppg.

Kobe also went on to win two titles himself in 2009 and 2010 with the Lakers.

I think what it came down too is Kyrie wanted to be THE guy.  He wanted to average 28-29 ppg and try to take his team to the Finals by himself.

I personally think Kyrie is wrong in this situation, I think he is forgetting how big of a piece Lebron is to his career.

Kyrie never scores 40 points in a finals game without Lebron, and his shoe probably isn’t a top-selling shoe because not too many people want to buy a shoe of a guy who can’t even get over .500 in the East.

The legend of Kyrie Irving will be a weird one for Cavalier fans.  I believe Cavs fans have the right to be upset what Irving has pulled these past few months.

Why did he ask for a trade now? Why not wait? Or why not do this before the draft where the Cavaliers could have gotten Paul George?

The timing and reasoning will be something NBA fans will talk and question for years.

What you can’t question is Irvings role since he was drafted by the Cavaliers in 2011.

Irving was the first star after Lebron, he won rookie of the year and was an All-Star game MVP.

People still wonder what the outcome would have been in the 2015 Finals if he didn’t get hurt in Game 1.

You could argue he is in the Top 5 when it comes to best Cleveland athletes.

On October 17th the Cavs will face the Celtics as Kyrie Irving will return the Q for the first time.

I only hope Kyrie gets a standing ovation, because all the good things he has done for the Cavs organization trumps all the drama he has caused this offseason.

One day Irving will have his number retired at the Q and we won’t remember this past month.  We will only remember his 57 points against the Spurs, the way he embarrassed defenders with his handles, his playoff performances, and of course his game winning shot to win the NBA Finals.

I for one will be giving Kyrie a standing ovation in my living room watching on October 17th when he returns to the Q.

I know for a fact that I will spend so many Friday, and Saturday nights home alone watching old Kyrie Irving highlights with a glass of Bourbon and David Bowie playing in the background.

I also know that when the Cavs beat the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals again I am going to laugh so hard and talk so much shit to Kyrie through the TV screen that if he heard me he would want me dead.

So, Thanks the memories Kyrie even if they all weren’t so great but I can not wait to watch you lose.

 

Kyrie Irving Mess

I am sure we have all heard by now that Cavaliers Point Guard Kyrie Irving wants out of Cleveland and wants a fresh start somewhere else.

The story was leaked by ESPNs Brian Windhorst.

“Kyrie Irving is ready to end his run with the Cleveland Cavaliers, as league sources told ESPN that the point guard has asked the team to trade him.

The request came last week and was made to Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. Irving has said that he wants to play in a situation where he can be more of a focal point and that he no longer wants to play alongside LeBron James, sources said.

Among several possibilities discussed in Irving’s meeting with the Cavaliers, the San Antonio Spurs were raised as a preferred destination, league sources told ESPN. Irving said he’d also be willing to join the New York KnicksMiami Heatand Minnesota Timberwolves, league sources said.”

I needed a few days to cool off because I received the news on Friday afternoon and I was heated.  It didn’t make any sense to me that Kyrie Irving who was just a year removed from winning an NBA title and was a month removed from helping get his team to a 3rd strait NBA finals.

On Sunday morning ESPN released a story by Ramona Shelburne, Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst.  The question was answered why does Irving want to leave Cleveland?

“Irving was tired of being Robin to James’ Batman. Tired of having another superstar — even one of the best players of all time — in control of his fate. Yes, he had learned from James in the three seasons they’d played together. Yes, he was appreciative. But Irving felt the time had come to take his destiny into his own hands. He wanted to be the centerpiece of a team, as he thought he was going to be three years ago, when he signed a five-year extension 11 days before James decided to come home.”

Irving wants power he wants to be THE guy, which could be understandable.  Irving like I said hit the game winning shot in last years finals, and he averaged just under 30 ppg in this past finals.

A lot of people think Kyrie is right for asking for a trade.  Some say he is just doing what Lebron has done to Cleveland and Miami.  My argument to that is Lebron has never asked for a trade, he was waited till he is a free agent.

But, back to the question.  Can Kyrie Irving be who he thinks he is?  Can he be the centerpiece of a franchise?

My answer is No.

Kyrie Irving is a top 10 offensive player in the NBA, in terms of being a smaller guy (by NBA standards) he may be the best finisher at the rim ever.  Watching him finish at the rim is a true art when you watch how he is able to adjust his body in mid air.  The problem is Irving is absolutely atrocious on defense and doesn’t seem to be the guy who makes other players around him better.

Irving finished the 2016-17 season with a Offense Real Plus and Minus of +4.35, which is very good.  His Defensive Real Plus and Minus was an abysmal -2.30.  I admit that not all players play stellar defense on a night to night basis but Irvings defense has been criticized since he came into the league.

Irving seems to be the guy who would go to a lesser team in the Eastern Conference and average close to 30 ppg and his team floating around below .500 and most likely getting bounced in the first round.

ESPN Cleveland tweeted out a quote from Windhorst from an interview with their local affiliate.

After last years game 7 Irving face timed Kobe and has made several references to Kobes “Mamba Mentality”.  Which I still don’t know what that means.  I am guessing it means take a bunch of inefficient shots, be tough to play with, and on your way out act like you liked everyone as everyone pats your back.

I think this is a huge risk for Irving, leaving the games biggest star of the past 10 years.  Cleveland with all the off season drama is still in the best position to win it all if Golden State suffers a major injury.  From the sounds of it Irving would rather go to a lesser team and put up big numbers then try to stick it out one more year with Lebron.

In the same article from Sunday morning it is noted that Irving is jealous of Damian Lillard and John Wall.  Which is funny because you would think the two would be jealous of Irving.  Neither have made it past the second round of the playoffs and Irving has played in three straight Finals.

Another thing that makes this funny.  Irvings image has grown since Lebron has came back to Cleveland.  Irvings shoe finished second in sales behind Lebrons shoe, not to mention Irvings famous Uncle Drew Pepsi commercials which are going to be turned into a movie, and Kyrie lead the team in shots this year.

Irving says he wants to be the guy but he requested to go to San Antonio who already has Kawhi Leonard, and Minnesota who already has Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler.  He requested Miami who has former teammate Dion Waiters who did not seem to mesh when both were in Cleveland.  Irving even said he wants to go to the Knicks which you could argue to be the most dysfunctional franchise in sports.

I can understand egos take part in pro sports, you can hate it all you want but its there.  Irving seems to be contradicting himself saying he wants to be THE guy even though he has endorsements that other stars don’t have, he wants to be the main guy in the offense but gets more shots than anyone.

Not to mention if Lebron were to stay, Lebron is getting older and doesn’t want as much as the workload.  Irving could theoretically be THE guy like he wants getting more shots and more attention.

People who are applauding Irving seem to be doing it because Irving seems to be sticking it to James.  They aren’t thinking about how good do you think he really is.  If Irving wants to have power he has to have the talent to back it up, he has to be so good teams will do anything to get him on their team.

The Suns reportedly won’t even give the Cavs first round pick Josh Jackson paired with Eric Bledsoe to get Irving.  The only way the Knicks would get Irving is giving up Porzingis.  If I am the Knicks I am not giving up Porzingis.  Unless the Cavs want Carmelo Anthony no way he ends up on the Knicks.  The Cavs wouldn’t even give up Kevin Love to get Melo, why would they give up Kyrie who has more value than Love to get Melo?  Would Minnesota possibly give Wiggins and some picks for Irving?  That seems to be the last realistic deal to be made.

People seem to forget that for a trade to go through BOTH teams have to accept the trade.  When considering to trade Irving you have to get a player or two back in return who could help the Cavs title chase next year and possibly build for the future.  Their may not be a trade out there.  With the Suns pulling Jackson out of talks, and if a deal can’t get done with Minnesota to possibly get Wiggins.  Irving and the Cavs may be stuck with each other.

The Cavs best option may be to get Irving, James and the Front Office all in a room and figure this situation out.

In the NBA you never get four quarters on the dollar when you trade a star to another team.  The Cavs are never going to get equal value for Irving, but I think you have to try to at least get 50 cents on the dollar.

Unless something crazy happens in the next couple weeks I could see Irving right back with the Cavaliers next season.  You can add this to all the storyline drama the Cavs have faced the past three years.

Stop Complaining About Super Teams

With Chris Paul being traded from the Clippers to the Rockets, it appears to look like the Rockets are doing their best to form their own super team. Before anyone comes at me with “the Rockets aren’t a super team yet” I want to let you know I do agree.  Chris Paul teaming up with James Harden is a head scratcher because the two playing styles don’t necessarily mix, but it does make Houston an attractive destination to acquire players via trade or free agency.

Talking about whether the acquisition of Chris Paul makes the Rockets a threat to the Warriors is not what I am going to talk about today.

Chris Paul this morning opted into his contract, making the Clippers trade him to the Rockets, as oppose to him opting out of his contract and signing a long-term deal with the Rockets.

This is important to note because he along with Lebron James and Dwayne Wade are also Free-Agents at the end of next season.  Meanwhile Carmelo Anthony is currently in Buyout talks with the Knicks.

This is also going on at the same time while Paul George is on the trading block.  Many teams, most notably the Cavaliers as they try to retool their super team in hopes to defeat the Warriors.  Now the Rockets have come into play for George and may even be in play if Anthony gets bought out.

Chris Paul teaming up with Harden, Cavs trying to improve their super team, George leaving Indiana, and the Lakers making a point to clear cap space for next is all response the Warriors assembling one of the greatest teams ever.

We all saw the Warriors without Kevin Durant and they won 73 games and we recently saw them with Kevin Durant as they looked damn near unstoppable all throughout the playoffs.

Everyone over the past year has destroyed Kevin Durant for leaving Oklahoma City to join the Warriors.  Some people even went to the level of calling him a coward, because he gave up or didn’t do it on his own.  Everyone destroyed Lebron, including me, for forming his super team down in Miami, because it’s not what us the fans call competitive.

Well today I am going to say it is time to stop hating super teams, its time to stop saying super teams have ruined the NBA.  It is also time to stop talking about the “good ole days” of Bird and Magic.

Here are the reasons why

1.  If you are going to blame any group of people for the “super team” era in the NBA blame the two groups that hate it the most.  That is the media and the fans.  Both parties talk about how a certain player “can’t get it done” in the Playoffs or doesn’t win enough regardless of his current playing situation.  We remember guys for one bad game regardless of how good he played throughout his long career.

Be honest with yourself.  If Kevin Durant stayed in Oklahoma City and never won a title, which was a real possibility, how would people talk about him?  Would people talk about how he was so loyal to Oklahoma City and he is the definition of what athletes should be even though he didn’t win a ring?  Sure, some people would and some people may respect him more.  OR would people have talked about how he could never get it done in the Playoffs, and talk about all the games he didn’t get it done in crunch time as oppose to all the game he did?  I am going to go with number two.

2.  Take five seconds and put yourself in the athletes shoes.  I am one to believe that we hold athletes to an unfairly higher standard than ourselves.  The super team argument relates, because we only look how this benefits ourselves.  We see Kevin Durant go to one team and we react based on how it affects our team and then lash out by saying the guy is trash or isn’t a “true competitor”.  We fail to put ourselves in the athletes shoe because we fear being wrong.  We fear knowing that us to would probably turn down playing for our favorite team and decide to go play somewhere else.

Lets takes Lebrons decision to leave Cleveland back in 2010.  In Terry Plutos recent book “The Comeback” . He talks about the meetings Lebron had with the different teams that came and visited him.

If you forget, back in 2010 six teams were in the running for Lebron.  All six teams made their way to Cleveland, Ohio and made what they believed was their best pitch.  The six teams were the Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls, New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, and the Cleveland Cavaliers.  In the book he talks about how the Clippers put a pitch together talking about the LA lifestyle Lebron could have.  The Clippers talked about the clubs, restaurants, and beaches Lebron could go to.  The Bulls talked about the young core of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah and possibly Dwayne Wade.  The Nets bragged about all the money they had because at the time Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov owned the team and was willing to spend whatever he needed to win.  Lebron also had a great relationship with Jay Z, who at the time was a minority owner of the team.  The Knicks put together a presentation bragging about the $2 billion worth of possible endorsements he could get by playing in New York city for the Knicks.

Then came Miami.  Miami had Pat Riley who won championships with the showtime Lakers, brought some of the best years of basketball New York Knicks fans have ever seen while their Head Coach.  He even won a championship in Miami five years prior.  Riley came into the meeting room and famously threw his seven championship rings on the table.  Riley talked about what it meant to be a champion and how Lebron had everything it took to be a champion and how Riley was the guy to put him in the best situation to win one.

Meanwhile, Cleveland talked about the importance of staying home, and how they were people he could trust.  The Cavs even went as far as putting together a fucking Family Guy cartoon with Lebron and his friends.  So dumb, and it pisses me off to this day.

After all of that put yourself in Lebrons shoes.  Lebron was 25, worth millions, was an MVP already, but struggled getting past teams that were just better than him.  Those Cleveland teams with Lebron the first time around were terrible.  Lebron single handily lead them to the playoffs year after year.  Losing in the playoffs like the Cavs did had to drive Lebron nuts and he knew at that point in time the Cavs were not the ones to help him get a ring.  The Cavs spent too much money on Larry Hughes, an out of prime Shaq, and traded for a useless Antawn Jamison.  Lebron had money, he had all the glamour already.  He didn’t need any more money in endorsements, he didn’t need a beach lifestyle, didn’t want to be part of something up and coming.  He needed and wanted a ring and Miami was the best place for that.  Wouldn’t you do the same?  Wouldn’t you choose a school, or workplace that gives you the best chance to succeed?  Hopefully the answer to most would be yes.

3.  Talking about what teams pitched to Lebron in 2010 brings me to my third point.  When I hear those stories about Owners coming to Lebron and pitching to Lebron about how the millionaire can make millions, and when I think about how the Cavs did so many dumb trades back then one word comes to mind.  That word is incompetence.

For years players and fans have suffered from complete incompetence from their front office.  Why is it wrong for a player to control their own destiny and career?  Why does a player have to have someone else put a better team around him?  Kevin Durant, and Lebron James took matters into their own hands to make sure they did win a championship.  Maybe if instead of spending huge money on Larry Hughes, maybe the Cavs should have put the time and money into trying to acquire Jason Kidd who was one of the best players in the game at the time.  Instead of bitching at Kevin Durant for leaving, why don’t people bitch at the Thunders front office for trading James Harden for practically nothing.  People say players forming super teams is a very millennial move, because it is “taking the easy way out”.  Well, isn’t a player waiting for someone else to improve his team more millennial than someone who is trying to take matters into his own hands and make a team better himself?

Which brings up another point.  Why is it celebrated that Danny Ainge of the Celtics formed a super team by adding Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen?  Why is it “business” when the Bulls trade Jimmy Butler costing him millions, because he is no longer eligible for the “super-max” he would have been eligible for in Chicago?  Red Auerbach was able to acquire Bill Russell because he said he would fund some ice show for the Rochester Royals if they didn’t draft Russell.  Russell then went to the St. Louis Hawks where Auerbach was easily able to trade for him because of the Jim Crow laws that were still present.  It was that easy for Auerbach to get the centerpiece of one of sports greatest dynasties.  The Showtime Lakers were able to draft James Worthy, because they traded Don Ford to the Cavs and in return got the number one pick to draft Worthy.  For some reason we accept these incompetent moves by Owners and General Managers and fail to mention them in Basketball history, but we are quick to downplay rings won by Lebron and Durant because they took matters into their own hands.

4. Finally, super teams are good.  Super teams force other teams to make decisions and act quickly.  It puts pressure on coaches, players, and front offices to make uncomfortable and tough decisions.  You have to think the Cavaliers don’t necessarily want to trade Kevin Love, but the Warriors have forced the Cavs to make tough decisions.  Teams are currently scrambling to find ways to acquire Paul George in hopes they can compete for a championship.  Players like Paul are forced to make tough career decisions to better their chances at winning a ring.  Carmelo realizes he can’t wait for New York to rebuild, so his response is to negotiate a buy out.  Carmelo will then be faced to decide where to play which may define his career.  Then we have Lebron.  Lebron after next summer will again be faced with the decision on where to play.  Anytime you can get pressure on teams and players to make decisions it is considered a good thing.  There is nothing worse than having a team that just sits on their hands and wait for something to happen.

To wrap all this up, its time to stop complaining about the super teams.  Super teams are not ruining the NBA.  Yes, we have had the same finals for the past three years, but were we complaining in the 80s when it was primarily Celtics and Lakers or in the 90s with the Bulls?  The answer is no.  Teams find ways to adjust, there is too much time and money invested for teams to just sit back and wait for the Warriors run to end.  Teams and players will find a way to compete and when it does happen it will all be fun to watch.

Thank You Thad

Yesterday, Ohio State Head Basketball Coach Thad Matta was “let go”, “fired”, “mutually agreed to step down” whatever it was the greatest basketball coach in Ohio State history announced he was not returning next season.

Yes, you read that correctly THE GREATEST COACH IN OHIO STATE HISTORY.

Thad Matta, took over a school that was on probation after the 2004 season, he took over the Buckeyes that were bottom feeders in the Big Ten and took it on a 13 year run that no one could have imagined.

Matta lead Ohio State to five Big ten Championships, 5 trips to the Sweet 16 one of which included a trip to the Elite 8 and two turned into final 4 trips.  Also, had one trip to the National Championship where he lost to arguably one of the greatest College Basketball teams in the past 20 years.  Matta also helped produce four different Buckeyes that ended up being top 5 picks.  He put Ohio State on the College Basketball map and brought in talent that no one could have ever imagined at a school that is primarily known for its football.

When Matta came to Ohio State he thrived on the recruiting trail, he brought in arguably the best recruiting class in Big Ten basketball history in Greg Oden, Mike Conley, and Daquan Cook.  He turned Evan Turner into a lottery pick, and took a gritty white 6 1 guard in Aaron Craft and turned him into a Ohio State legend.  It seemed like Ohio State hit the jackpot in hiring Matta, and he seemed to be the guy Ohio State would have for years and years to come.

Matta, was affected by a botched back surgery in 2007 and his health never was the same and in recent years it became very noticeable it was affecting him in a negative way.  There are stories where he had to sit on a stability ball in practice because it took pain away from his back, he also had trouble walking up stairs, and going to post game press conferences were never the easiest.

Just a reminder to everyone Matta is only 49 years old, usually things were only supposed to get better than they already were for a young coach.  The Ringers Mark Titus, who also played under Matta, pointed out John Wooden had zero Final Four appearances at the age of 49.  Just to put it in perspective.

Matta, was just a small town guy who dreamed of being a coach.  How do I know this?  Because I had the privilege to live in the town he grew up in.

Matta, grew up in a town called Hoopeston, Illinois an hour south of the University of Illinois.  Mattas name was talked about at local restaurants and barber shops, his picture is up in the school trophy case, his Dad coached basketball at the local High School, his mom also worked at the middle school and high school.  I give partial blame to his mom for my chubby middle school years as she used to give me free breakfast at the school cafeteria if I wore Ohio State stuff.

And if you know anything about me I got A LOT of free breakfast.  But for real thank you, that breakfest wasn’t cheap.

The best part about Matta is he kept it clean, and classy.  Those two words are hard to come by when describing a major college sports program.  Matta came at a time when the basketball program was under a microscope and it has had zero disciplinary issues since he stepped on campus.  If you don’t believe he is classy listen to rival coaches, and former players.  The support has been overwhelming.

I started this blog wanting to defend Ohio State in their move and predict what the Buckeyes should do in their head coaching search.  Midway I took time to read Mark Titus piece on Thad Matta.  It made me realize how much this all really sucks.  It sucks the greatest basketball coach in the history of the program gets fired (or whatever actually happened) it sucks his coaching career ends at 49, it sucks that the small town boys dream gets cut short, it sucks he never got the National Title he deserved, it sucks Buckeye fans everywhere have to argue whether he should have been let go earlier than he did.  It all sucks.

Matta deserved to hold that trophy for Ohio State, he deserved the farewell where a sold out Schottenstein Center gives him a standing O and he rides off into the sunset with a smile on his face.  Unfortunately, we got a random press conference in June, and a day freaking out where the program is headed.

My blog on whether this was the right move and what the Buckeyes should do will come later but for now here are some of my favorite moments of  Thads time at Ohio State

This is one of my favorites because it was Michigan and I love how pumped Matta was after the shot.  He brought excitement and energy to the program and he showed it on the sideline.

Speaking of intensity, this was the 2007 Wisconsin game that took place on the last day of the regular season and the Big Ten title was on the line.  As someone who is also very superstitious I totally respect this move.

This was during the 07 Final Four run and Ohio State was on the brink of elimination in the second round.  That team was always so good down the stretch.  It’s always fun to watch teams who surprise you at how good they are but it is even more fun when you know a team is very good and that was this 07 team.

And of course my favorite one.  For me personally this is when I thought Matta was going to create something special.  He took a scholarship depleted team got them 20 wins and stopped Illinois undefeated season.

I could talk all day about my favorite Ohio State players growing up and my favorite games I saw as a kid and all the credit goes to him.  As a Ohio State fan, a basketball fan, a 24-year-old and the 13-year-old me would like to say Thank You Thad.  Thank you for the great 13 years, us Buckeye fans couldn’t have asked for more.

Go Bucks.

Lavar Ball is Still an Ass

Today on Colin Cowherds Show “The Herd” on FS1 Lavar Ball did not take kindly to Kristine Leahys very simple question when she asked him how many shoes he has sold.  Ball responded to Leahy by telling her to “stay in her lane.”

Here is the full interview below, the back and forth with Leahy and Ball starts at the 6 minute mark.

https://www.iheart.com/video/lavar-ball-interview-27772304/?embed=true&autoStart=false&share=http://foxsportsradio.iheart.com/media/play/27772304/&siteid=13133

I am on record of saying I absolutely can not stand this guy and I am so sick of FS1 and ESPN giving him the attention that he has been getting.  Everyone can say how his business model is working and in a way it is.  Lavar Ball has made his own shoe and set it at an unreasonable price and people are dumb enough to buy it.  If you bought his shoe you may fit into his group of “Big Ballers” but in reality you are just a fucking idiot.

While Ball may be making a name for himself and a good chunk of money, in the long run this could hurt his son Lonzo who is projected to go number two overall to the Lakers.  Lonzo could already have signed his shoe deal with Nike, Adidas, or Under Armor and gotten his nice million dollar payday as a 19 year old.  But instead Lavar is overshadowing his son and using his kids to cash in on a payday he never got.

In a day an age where equality is preached from the mountain tops you have to think this back and forth with Leahy could come back to bite him.  The main point Kristine was trying make was that he should think about attracting to a female side, like Nike, Adidas, Under Armor who LaVar has said he is trying to compete with.  LaVar  responded by saying saying he doesn’t have to have a line of clothing for females which he in a way is right.  If you want to make a clothing line for just males or just females you are well within your rights to do that.  The Problem is when LaVar says he wants to go toe to toe with these big companies you need a female line to truly compete whether you like it or not.

For the record I don’t necessarily believe LaVar told Leahy to stay in her lane solely because she was a women but more because Leahy has said she doesn’t agree with all of LaVars antics.  Regardless it is still a terrible look and he should probably have more self awareness.  Or not be a complete jack ass.

If LaVar can’t take a few negative comments from a reporter how is he going to handle the LA media on a daily basis?  Playing in LA, especially with the Lakers isn’t like playing in Milwaukee or Orlando.  With the attention LaVar has attracted to himself and his son he is due for a rude awakening when the Lakers have a rough stretch in the season or Lonzo himself is playing bad or if LaVars business has trouble taking off.

LaVar has made it known he only wants Lonzo to play with the Lakers and with LA getting the number 2 pick it looks like that dream will come true.  The question is whether LaVars antics will be tolerated with Laker great Magic Johnson.

Last night after the lottery results ESPNs Ryen Russillo tweeted this.

Its coming off as if LaVar thinks he can walk on water and with the attention and praise he has gotten from a lot of people in and outside the media why wouldn’t he?  NBA teams will have to figure out what the proper way to handle this guy because Lonzos talent is too good not to pass up.  If anyone in LA has the power to shut this guy up it is Mr. Laker himself Magic Johnson.

The question on when this sideshow will come to end remains but you have to think that after these questions to an established reporter like Kristine Leahy the media attention he has gotten may slow down a bit.

Heading West?

“The Eastern Conferences is awful!”  It is something NBA fans have been hearing and saying for years.  It is a common belief amongst NBA fans that the Western Conference is by and large the better conference in the NBA.

This is an argument people will use against Lebron James when talking about how good he really is.  A lot of people will never give Lebron credit on his dominance of the Eastern Conference just because, well it is the Eastern Conference.

 

The point of today is to try to figure out why the Eastern Conference is so bad.  How come the East has been proclaimed as an “easy” road to the Finals for Lebron.

The other question is, if the East is sooooo easy why doesn’t anyone leave the West and head East?

Lets compare this to another figure that has dominated his sport.  Nick Saban

If you remember about 10 years ago Urban Meyers Florida Gators won the College Football National Championship, which started a historic run for SEC football.  The SEC would go on to win the next seven National Titles.  The SEC was by far the best conference in college football and some of the teams that would lose three games in a season would be better than some conference champions.

As of late the SEC isn’t near as what it used to be.  Nick Saban is a school paying a different Dad, a kick 6, and made field goal away from winning eight strait SEC titles.  No one wants to go coach in the SEC because if your name isn’t Nick Saban you aren’t going to win the SEC.  Saban has destroyed the SEC it has forced schools to make fast and irrational decisions, like LSU who fired Les Miles because he wasn’t keeping up with Nick Saban or Tennessee who fired legendary Coach Phillip Fulmer.  If your name isn’t Alabama odds are you are going to be looking for a new coach in the next couple years or the NCAA is going to hand down a big punishment for the violations you committed.  That would be you Ole Miss.

 

Like Saban destroying programs in the SEC, Lebron has destroyed many teams hopes in the East.

You can already see players wanting to move West as oppose to staying in the “easy” Eastern Conference.  Paul George has made it well-known he wants to go play in Los Angeles.  Kyle Lowry has come out and said he is going to test Free agency and has said “I just want a ring.”

Obviously nothing is official about these two notable stars possibly heading West.  But the fact they are considering leaving the East is interesting.

If the East is so easy why isn’t Lowry staying with Toronto or George wanting to stay with Indiana?  If the East is so easy it must be an easy decision for Gordon Hayward to leave Utah and head to Boston because all you have to do is get through just one team to get to the Finals.  Look out for Demarcus Cousins heading East to get his easy trip to the finals because all he has to do is get on a team and beat Lebron.

Except it is not that easy.  Like at the beginning of every football season we know that Nick Saban is going to be in position to play for that National Title, just like Lebron James is going to be playing for an NBA title come June.

How the SEC has transformed around him since he got to Alabama is an example of why Saban is the greatest College Football coach ever.  How the Eastern Conference has transformed around Lebron should be an example of why Lebron is one of the greatest to ever play the game.

Why don’t more Coaches go down South?  Why don’t more players go East?  They just have to beat one guy.

Because they know beating that one guy is harder than it sounds.

 

 

 

Who and What are the Cavs?

If you have followed the Cavs since Lebron came back to Cleveland you know that once the playoffs start things change.  You sit all through the regular season putting up with Lebrons cryptic tweets, Kyries turnovers, drama between Lebron and the front office, and even drama between Lebron and the head coach.

For some reason this season seems just a little different.  All year we have been waiting for these playoffs to see the Cavs “flip the switch” and at moments they have this year.  There have been games like the Christmas day game vs Golden State and the win a few weeks ago in Boston.

Cleveland is up 2-0 in the series and at times has looked great and looks like the team that we all expect them to be, but then they have their times where they seem to lose focus and let Indiana crawl back into the game.

Cleveland was a CJ Miles basket away from going down 1-0 on Saturday and was a couple bounces away from losing last night even though at one point they were up 20.

So the question is who and what are these Cavs and what should we be expecting?  We have been asking this question since about January and I think it is a fair question to ask.

Cleveland despite their struggles is by far the best team in the East.  They may get pushed in a series at some point, but they are just more talented and deeper than any other team in the East.  Because of that we truly won’t know what kind of team they are until they play in the Finals against what will most likely be Golden State.

Why should Cleveland fans be ok with this?

Whether you are a huge fan of this path or not it is what it is.  Cleveland is led by Lebron whose legacy may truly be defined by the outcome of this season.  If Lebron beats Golden State, who has four legitimate all-stars and at this right four future  Hall of Famers, in the finals yet again he has cemented his place as a top three player and may even be able to compare him to Jordon.  If he loses he will be remembered as the guy who coasted through the regular season and majority of the playoffs and as a result never got his team in the right position to win another title.

Lebron can say all he wants about how much he cares about Cleveland which I’m sure he truly does, but Lebron cares about nothing more than his legacy and brand.  Lebron even said it this year his next goal is to chase Jordons legacy.  A title this year would be huge for his brand and his case to be considered the greatest of all time

So back to the original question:  Who and what are the Cavs?

The question is no one knows and we won’t know for a little bit longer, but they will be ok because they are led by Lebron James.

RUSS Is The MVP In More Ways Than One

Last summer the Golden State Warriors were down 3-1 to the Oklahoma City Thunder.  It looked like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were going to advance to their second NBA finals.  That trip got cancelled after the Warriors were able to come back and eventually win the series.

Things got worse for the Thunder, because on the 4th of July Kevin Durant left for the Golden State Warriors, leaving Russell Westbrook by himself in OKC.  As good as the Thunder were the year prior the team that Westbrook was left with was in no shape to compete for an NBA title.

After Durant left some people thought Westbrook would demand a trade to have a better chance to go win a title.  Westbrook not only stayed quiet on the trade talks but decided to sign a three-year extension with the team.

Westbrook wanted to show Oklahoma City that he had their back.  He has proved it on the court this year by always wearing his emotions on his sleeve, leaving everything out on the floor, and doing anything and everything to will his team to victory despite the overwhelming odds.

You can try to diminish his 31.9/10.4/10.7 averages this season by saying the team isn’t a true contender for a title and if he was on a good team he would not have put up these numbers.  All is true, but it’s not like he put up 40 point a game a long with 4 assists.  He took a team full of guys we are all going to forget about in ten years and made them a playoff team.

In a time where brand is bigger than team, where sitting out games is encouraged, and super teams is “in”.  Westbrook took a challenge, and that challenge was to show how good he really was.  He chose to play for his city, franchise and more importantly his pride.

We have all been in a relationship with someone where the other says you just are not quite good enough.  Whether Durant actually thinks that or not, his actions said so by leaving.  Even though Durants season may end with winning a championship, people will always remember how Durant left and Westbrook stuck it out.  As Durant receives criticism for his decision and may never be respected by fans, Westbrook receives cheers and praise.

One day basketball fans will tell the story to their kids and grandkids about Westbrooks unwavering loyalty to a city and franchise, and they will teach their kids to play with the tenacity and never say die.

Whether Westbrook stays in OKC forever or wins a championship without Durant remains to be seen, but this historic season can not be un noticed in the history books.

Russell Westbrook is THE REAL MVP

Lebron and the Cavs Remain King

Last night the Cleveland Cavaliers reminded us why they are the defending champions and remain the favorites to win the East.  The Cavaliers faced off against the Celtics and won in dominant fashion by a score of 114-91.  The score doesn’t even show how much of a blowout it was, at one point the Cavs lead was almost 30.

Last night, Lebron James proved why it is dumb to think anyone but him can win the East.  Lebron finished with 36 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists.  This was all after him saying that he doesn’t get worked up for a regular season game.  Can you blame Celtics fans for getting hyped up for a regular season game?  That is all they have to look forward to these days.

If you have followed the Cavs at all this year you have noticed they haven’t played an ounce of good basketball since their Christmas day win against the Warriors.  If you have been following the NBA at all you have heard people ask if the Cavs can flip the switch.  As of late a lot of the national media has been asking who can beat the Cavs out of the East.  The trendy picks have been Boston, Washington, and Toronto.

This video below is Lebron telling all of that talk to go away.

I love how disrespectful he was when high fiving the fans.  NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR GARDEN BOSTON!

The Cavs can “flip the switch” and it showed last night.  Whether the Cavs can build enough momentum and reach their true potential, where they will most likely play the Warriors in the Finals, come June remains to be seen.  All we know right now is the Cavs are still the team to beat out of the East and still have the ability to become Champions.

You can say what you want about Lebron.  You can say he is insufferable, a flopper, a baby, or a drama queen.  What you can’t say is that he isn’t great.  Last night proved there is still greatness left in the tank for Lebron and come playoff time we will see Lebron at his best.  As long as Lebron is at his best Cleveland is in great position to defend their title.

Beware to the rest of the NBA.  The switch has been flipped.