Marketability , likability and appeal
Well the detractors will now look to take a look at another way of knocking down the Duke (Blue Devils) after the thrilling win over the Wisconsin ( Badgers) in the title game of the NCAA Tournament . Mike Krzyzewski has coached the program for over twenty-five years, notched up some notable achievements , while coaching the Blue Devils to their fifth national title in the Men’s NCAA Tournament. A number of players on the team will end their collegiate careers on a personal high. None more so than the impressive , Jahlil Okafor , who might not be seen as high first round pick in the upcoming NBA Draft in June.
Elsewhere, John Calipari and the Kentucky (Wildcats) ended their season of hope , wondering hat might have been. It was the team’s complacency and that of the coaching staff’s which led to their undoing in the semi-finals’ loss to the Wisconsin Badgers. Beyond that , not a great deal else needs to be said. Several players on the Wildcats’ team will not be returning for another year, as has been the course of events concerning the coaching career of Calipari and the players under his tutelage . It has become something of a rarity, where the Wildcats’ head coach has a player under his tutelage for more than two years let alone their staying simply for their freshman year. Most definitely the case in 2012 , 2013 and now this season , just ending.
Duke’s Jahlil Okafor (15) is fouled by Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky (44) during the second half of the NCAA Final Four college basketball tournament championship game Monday, April 6, 2015, in Indianapolis. AP Photo/David J. Phillip
No denying, all season long, the Golden State Warriors have been very impressive . The Warriors have been the best offensive team in the league, have the best record in the NBA and perhaps the best player this season , solely based on the play of Steph Curry , the team’s leading scorer and major facilitator for their productivity. Curry and James Harden of the Houston Rockets are seen as the leading contenders for this season’s League MVP , alongside four-time winner LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers. James and the Cavaliers were seen and meant to ride roughshod, not only over their division , but also the Eastern Conference . Other than the slip-ups and injury to Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls , this David Blatt coached team , would be still be questioned as to their competitiveness. The fact remains, as good a team as the Cavaliers appear to be, they remain flawed in certain aspects of their overall game. Granted, in a weak Eastern Conference , being marginally above average, can and should be enough, for Cleveland to make their way to the conference finals with a certain degree of ease.
September 29, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr (left) guard Stephen Curry (30) , and associate head coach Alvin Gentry (right) talk during media day at the Warriors Practice Facility. The Golden State Warriors have the best record in the NBA , top seeding in the Western Conference and a potential first round match-up against the New Orleans Pelicans in this season’s NBA Playoffs . AP Photo / Richard Hart
With the NBA season now winding down, teams having less than a handful of games to close out their respective schedules before the NBA Playoffs begin. It would be fair to suggest, several franchises fell way short of expectations sought. In many respects , this season within the NBA, it has been one , where the coaching at the lower levels, has been exceptionally poor, with the play of several teams being way below par. Hard to explain how abysmally poor the seasons of the New York Knicks , Minnesota Timberwolves , Philadelphia 76ers , Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic have been. With that being said, by enlarge the NBA still remains second most popular of the four major professional team sports , but by far the most popular on the global stage, when measured against its North American counterparts.
LeBron James (23) is seen here court-side talking to Cleveland Cavaliers’ head coach David Blatt in a game played at the Quicken Loans Arena , in Cleveland , Ohio,. Also pictured , is James’ teammate Kevin Love (background). The Cavaliers will be hoping to prove they are in fact the best team in the Eastern Conference and not the Atlanta Hawks as the teams’ records suggest. A potential conference finals’ match-up between the two teams seems a reality based on their play this season. AP Photo / Terry McAdam
Tuesday’s games offer the fans of the NBA six contests where teams will be vying to place themselves in contention for a playoff berth or at least position themselves higher within their conference or divisional standing. The most crucial of the games in question might well be , the contest between last season’s losing NBA Finalists the Miami Heat ….. as they square off against conference rivals the Charlotte Bobcats.
Miami faces a tough task as they seek the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Currently , one game out of the final berth as the tenth seed , this Erik Spoelstra coached team find themselves in something of unimaginable position. Inconsistency, has played a major part in the Heat’s disappointing season , beyond the injuries sustained by several of the players from their starting lineup, but that simply cannot be used as an excuse for the team’s woes this season.
In large part , Miami’s problems stem from the very fact the front office remained naive and complacent heading into the season , of the belief , their retention of LeBron James would be enough to succeed , without making a serious attempt to bolster the team’s roster . Their failure to do so, I believe played a part and more than justified James’ reason to leave the Miami Heat and head back to Cleveland and rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers , the franchise where he began his NBA career. The fallout from this all , might not be viewed as colossal , but bear in mind what James has meant to the franchise over the past four seasons and to the NBA , itself .
Five NBA titles in a seventeen-year span alongside sixteen consecutive seasons in the NBA Playoffs and somehow the San Antonio Spurs remain beneath the radar , when prognosticators begin to dissect the season and make their prognosis for the postseason. Last year the the LeBron James’ led Miami Heat were meant to sweep the Spurs aside on their way to a three-peat. Instead , the Western based franchise dumped the Heat on their proverbial @ss , with effortless ease , while apologists for the Miami Heat were at a loss to explain the team’s abysmal showing in the NBA Finals.
Chris Bosh (1) and Dwyane Wade (3) for whom , this season has been something of a misnomer . A greater burden has been placed on both stars in the aftermath of LeBron James’ departure , prior to the start of this season. Losing in the 2013-14 NBA Finals proved to be an emotional disappointment for the Heat organization and their fans , where there was a preponderance of complacency and conceit to go around . The Heat were ill-prepared and badly coached by Erik Spoesltra in the series’ loss to the San Antonio Spurs , with the Western Conference based Spurs romping away with ease winning their fifth NBA title under the guidance of Gregg Popovich and his coaching staff. The Miami Heat’s record suggest they are likely to miss out on a playoff berth in this season’s NBA Playoffs . Their only way in seems unlikely , with the two teams ahead of them in the conference standings not likely to make a major slip-up at this point of the season. AP Photo / Getty Images/ NBAE / Michelle Lord
Gregg Popovich the coach of the quintet of championships won by the Spurs, remains the best coach in the NBA and certainly among the top-ten in NBA history. Contrary to popular opinion , Popovich , is the equal of Phil Jackson , and he is by far more an astute a coach, when it comes to assessing talent than Jackson will ever be or hope to be. Granted , Jackson won eleven NBA titles , but in large part, his teams were pretty much set in stone , having the likes of four all-time greats already at his disposal , with Shaquille O’Neal , Kobe Bryant , Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen . As of late , we have seen what the former Bulls and Lakers’ coach is capable of doing when it comes to assessing player talent , as well as assembling a coaching staff . Let’s just say, the New York Knicks’ roster of players alongside the staff of Derek Fisher , might as well have been plucked from a bucketful of fecal matter and dressed up in the Knicks’ uniform , all under the watchful eye of franchise owner James Dolan .
A clearly frustrated Derek Fisher tries to make a point with an NBA official during a game played between the New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden , New York City , New York , earlier this season. In his first year as a rookie head coach , Fisher has not only become the sacrificial lamb during his baptism of fire , but also the subject of a great deal of ridicule, alongside his players and the entire Knicks’ organization . The franchise even at its worst under head coach and former Head of Basketball Operations Isiah Thomas . The Knicks were never this incompetent , or lacking the will to win at home or on the road . As to the executive acumen shown by Phil Jackson , not only has it been an unmitigated disaster , but it is also clear , Jackson’s ego does not permit him to acknowledge his gargantuan mistakes . AP Photo / Phil Morris
My thoughts on the New York Knicks have been well-chronicled , and my continuing to lambast the franchise will be of little benefit to their fans or the team itself ! I have repeatedly said, if Jackson had a plan, then his strategies went askew , once the season got underway . How else can anyone explain their record and this asinine belief any marquee free agent will want join the franchise while this coaching staff remains intact ? Only a complete idiot would be of the opinion that this will be a team on the rise , when there remains so much awry with this organization from its very top, down to the coaching staff and the playing roster.
The retirement of Steve Nash from the Los Angeles Lakers bring to an end one of the great careers in recent NBA history. Among point guards , the two time League MVP is held in high esteem among his peers and many of the greats of the past to have played the game. Never a championship winning player , Nash’s career nonetheless was littered with notable achievements . Perhaps, this season more than any other over the past decade, we have seen the rise of the superstar point guard , among which , this season , Russell Westbrook , Chris Paul , John Wall, Steph Curry and Ty Lawson lead the way at the position .
Kobe Bryant (24) is seen here alongside teammate Steve Nash as the two , discuss a play that wasn’t properly executed . The two players have been sidelined due to injuries at various points of the Los Angeles Lakers’ season, leading to some dismal displays and one of the worst records in the entire NBA this season. Nash announced his retirement from the game , leaving the franchise with only Jeremy Lin as their starting point guard , with little productivity coming from the position over the course of the season . Kobe Bryant hopes to return next season , where he will be among the highest paid players in the NBA earning in excess of $24 million and likely to offer up the type of productivity hardly, justifying the outlay by the Los Angeles Lakers. AP Photo / Kelly Goddard
Injuries simply plagued Nash’s career with the Lakers and he was never really able to contribute to the team during his short tenure with the franchise. Head coach Byron Scott and his staff were simply able to get the players playing with any great resilience throughout much of the season , with their being very few bright spots to be seen , even .with or without the absence of Kobe Bryant . With six games remaining to the Lakers’ regular season sojourn , it is extremely difficult to suggest what the franchise can take out of it all , in terms of positive attitude . Mitch Kupchak and team owner , Jim Buss will certainly have to take a look at the makeup of the roster , beyond the likely preparation for the NBA Draft .
Bryant is no longer the once- dominant player and the explosive scoring feats are becoming something of a rarity , beyond his being able to play an arduous eighty-two game schedule , much less forty minutes a game. Hometown discount or not, I do not believe the Los Angeles Lakers can justify their paying $25 million to Kobe Bryant for the upcoming season , no matter the level of talent he is likely to be surrounded by !
Steve Nash’s departure is not really much of a surprise and his likely induction into the Hall of Fame as a first time ballot inductee seems all but assured. His name has never been tainted in controversy and he was not only well respected and well-liked among his peers , but he also had a loyal group of fans who reveled in his talent. Few players of his generation are likely to be garnered with such acclaim.
$ 2.1 billion can buy you a hell of a lot nowadays and in terms of an NBA franchise , it was the extortionate going rate for the Los Angeles Clippers. It was the price deemed appropriate by the NBA hierarchy , led at the time by former Commissioner David Stern . Billionaire entrepreneur , Steve Ballmer believed it a price worth paying to own the franchise, as it barely made a dent in his estimated $20 billion fortune or the fact he still remains a sizable shareholder in the software technology company Microsoft whose value remains in excess of $300 billion by market capitalization alone .
Former Clippers’ team owner , Donald Sterling remains a pariah and a subject of sheer ridicule as does the NBA hierarchy itself , along with their mishandling of the affair that brought the franchise and league unwanted notoriety . Some might suggest, even now , with the outrage of the recent statute in the state of Indiana , signed into law by Governor Mike Pence , the NBA remains a complete joke when dealing with matters of social issues and issues of real significance . David Stern and his successor Adam Silver remain opportunists and not much else beyond that , while the ongoing apathy of the NBA players and their union seems to be common place , with their lacking a great deal of wariness or their willingness to deal with a vast array of social issues. I get the impression, this generation of players are far more concerned with their visibility, among their corporate sponsors and being able to sell their licensed apparel, than wanting to address any type of social issue ! Michael Jordan , a great player nonetheless, would never be seen to rock the boat. Unlike such luminaries of the past , Magic Johnson , Kareem Abdul-Jabbar , Dave Bing and Bill Russell .
Los Angeles Clippers’ owner, Steve Ballmer is seen here with the team’s head coach Doc Rivers who also happens to be Head of Basketball Operations for the Clippers’ franchise. Ballmer purchased the Western based NBA team for an unprecedented sum of $2.1 billion after former team owner Donald Sterling was forced to sell the team after Sterling’s rather insipid, racially charged and insensitive remarks concerning African-Americans , their attending Clippers’ home games , their overall behavior , dishonesty and lack of morals . In the aftermath of those statements, Donald Sterling sought to make light of the remarks, suggesting they were misconstrued and completely taken out of context. How a derogatory racial term repeatedly made can be taken out of context , has never been properly explained by the now disgraced former NBA franchise owner.
The NBA remains a money-driven, money-hungry entity , steeped in a great deal of hypocrisy , led by a hierarchy of geriatric males, whose sole persona , has been simply to browbeat the consumer into submission , extort as much money as they can from the various corporate sponsors , while over-charging the radio and television broadcasters for an on-court product , which in recent years, has ebbed and flowed in terms of its competitiveness , like the tide coming in from the sea. Fans neither seemed repulsed or wary of this all, instead espousing tidbits of insipid stupidity , with their thoughts on a subject matters ranging from , how Kobe Bryant might measure up against Michael Jordan in terms of their careers or where LeBron James might well now stand in terms of his legacy and in comparison to Jordan , Magic or Larry Bird . Let’s just say , until LeBron steps up and puts on his ” big boy pants”‘ , leads the Cavaliers to the presumed title many believed the franchise would be walking away with this year _________ the Cavaliers’ forward still has a great deal to prove this season , in spite of his having to carry the team on his lofty shoulders.
In many respects , LeBron James has become a the modern-day mercenary within the NBA, a gun for hire , open to the right bidder , just as long as he is surrounded by the talent required commensurate to his obvious skill-set . Anything short of that , and he is likely to bolt ship as witnessed by the evidence on display in last season’s NBA Finals , and the likely reasons for his untimely departure from the Miami Heat. If Alonzo Mourning’s criticism of James cannot be seen as a veiled emotional response and in some circles how team President Pat Riley felt betrayed by the player’s abrupt departure. Business or not , it left the Heat organization not only in a state of disarray , but clearly with their season having imploded, they will be in a state of complete transition . Dwyane Wade is not getting any younger and Chris Bosh is being overpaid , while offering up paltry productivity for the services rendered .
In his twelve years in the NBA, it is estimated LeBron James has earned in excess of $450 million, inclusive of career earnings and from endorsement deals. Add in the player’s outside business interests , and one might suggest James is well on his way to becoming a one-man corporate conglomerate . LeBron James’ popularity is undeniable and his return to Cleveland, likened to a prodigal son returning home to his roots, has given his reputation that much sought-after redemption, after what was deemed his act of betrayal, when he first left the Cleveland Cavaliers. All seems to be right with the world, especially in the eyes of Dan Gilbert , the Cavaliers’ front office led by the owner (Gilbert) and GM David Griffin . Now all that remains is the franchise holding aloft the Larry O’Brien Trophy to signify their being NBA champions. Whether or not this happens during the postseason will largely be dependent upon James , his teammates , the coaching acumen shown by David Blatt and his coaching staff.
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Are you entirely happy with the outcome of the NCAA Tournament and its ending ? With the regular season of the NBA now winding down, what do you expect to see this postseason and which player, players and teams will be seen to create the most excitement during the NBA Playoffs ? Finally, do you believe the NBA can do no more to be part of the discussion on a number of social issues which tend to crossover into the world of sports ? Or are of the opinion it should not be any of their concern ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit on the points raised within this article and on anything else you believe relevant to the subject matter.
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On this date in NBA history