Betting on basketball: Oct. 28

Another great lineup of games for tonight with three guaranteed best bets. All the lines are pretty low tonight so lets make some $.

 

Best Bet’s:

 

Celtics @ Heat (Celtics -1):

It feels like these teams always have close games when they play for some reason, probably because the Celtic’s can’t rebound and Whiteside is a monster.

Al Horford is coming off one of his best performances of his Celtics career scoring 27 points and grabbing 10 boards against the Bucks. Whiteside is scheduled to be out for this one so the Celtic’s should be able to control the glass.

Image result for al horford (CBS Boston)

Chi’s Pick: Celtics -1

 

Cavaliers @ Pelicans (Cavs -2.5):

Image result for Lebron vs the pelicans (Big Easy Believer)

Lebron has been taking things into his own hands this season, literally. He has been on a tear since he has started at point guard the last few games. This will be an interesting game because the Cavs do not really have the height to matchup with Anthony Davis and Cousins.

I don’t think we will be seeing point guard LeBron tonight because the Cavs are going to need him down low on the glass and in the post. I still like the Cavs for tonight. The bench in Cleveland is just too much for the Pelicans to compete with.

Chi’s Pick: Cavs -2.5

 

76ers @ Mavericks (76ers -1.5):

Nerlens Noel gets to go for revenge tonight when Joel Embiid and the gang come into Dallas. Philly has gotten off to a rough start considering all the hype around this young team.

The 76ers need to turn it around now if they want to keep the playoffs in reach and tonight I think they will. Ben Simmons is going to take over this game and the 76ers are going to show they made the right choice sticking with Embiid over Noel.

Chi’s Pick: 76ers -1.5

 

The Other Guys:

Thunder @ Bulls (Thunder -8.5):

Chi’s Pick: Thunder -8.5

 

Rockets @ Grizzlies (Grizz -1.5):

Chi’s Pick: Rockets +1.5

 

Lakers @ Jazz (Jazz -10.5):

Chi’s Pick: Lakers +10.5

 

Suns @ Trailblazers (Blazers -12):

Chi’s Pick: Blazers -12

 

Pistons @ Clippers (Clippers -8.5):

Chi’s Pick: Pistons +8.5

 

Featured Photo By USA Today

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Why Big Baller Brand will be a Major Success

Following the worst game of his life and a slip up in the Big Baller Brand shoes, Lonzo Ball was heavily critiqued on social media, most notably by WNBA star Elena Delle Donne.

After receiving heavy backlash for the tweet, Delle Donne responded with how she likes Lonzo and would never root against him, but she is not a fan of the shoes. Is Delle Donne right? Should Lonzo have just followed the path of previous prospects and signed with a major shoe company? In most cases I would say yes, but when your father is a marketing genius, the Big Baller Brand makes perfect sense.

The Dude can play

A night after his disappointing debut, Lonzo Ball showed Laker Nation why he was selected second overall. On Saturday night, in front of the first-ever sold out crowd in Las Vegas Summer League history, Ball messed around and got a triple double. Unfortunately, his 11 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists were not good enough for a Lakers win, as Boston picked up their second victory of the summer, winning 86-81.

Ol’ Triple Double Zo face! (BleacherReport)

Although Zo did not shoot particularly well, his flashy passes and playmaking abilities brought back memories of a young Magic Johnson. If you watched Saturday night’s contest, you realized a few things.

One, Lonzo Ball can play, and can dominate the game without scoring. Two, he is extremely entertaining to watch with his no-look passes and up-tempo style. Thirdly, the crowd went bananas whenever Lonzo did something even remotely cool with the ball.

Reminder: This was a game played on July 8, and means absolutely nothing, but fans still filled out the arena to see the face of BBB.

All in all, if you can play, and you’re on a big-market team like the Lakers, you will have no problem selling your own signature shoe. But why the high price?

There’s a reason for the $495 price tag on the ZO2’s

Right now, the five best-selling signature shoes are Lebron’s, Kyrie’s, Curry’s, KD’s and Harden’s. At retail price, none of these kicks costs more than $200, so why did the Ball family choose $495? One reason: You cannot go and get them in stores. Only a certain amount of ZO2’s were created. You cannot go into your local mall and grab a pair, which provides logic to the high price.

Some people might laugh at the lofty price, but for some reason, sneaker consumers are more attracted to the rarer, more expensive shoe. Marylouise Caldwell, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Sydney, explains that “People gravitate towards this kind of thing when they don’t have an affinity to more traditional tribes, such as professional groups, to give them status.” People become attached to a brand that is seen as high status throughout their peers.

Just take a look at outspoken music legend, and reality TV star, Kanye West. People line up for days to get their hands on Yeezy Boost 350’s. Like the ZO2’s, only a certain amount of Yeezy’s are made and released to the public. They will sell at stores for $260, and later on the internet for close to $2,000.

Why do people spend this type of money on shoes? To keep it simple, “It’s a way of proving they are a global citizen with their finger on the pulse”, Caldwell said. Because of its rareness, and meaning, people will flock to the ZO2’s, just like they do with the Yeezy’s. In fact, Kanye West and Lonzo’s father, LaVar, have more in common than you think.

LAVAR “THE GODFATHER OF BBB” BALL

The creator of Big Baller Brand, LaVar is arguably the most outspoken man in sports. Some may think he is absurd and disrespectful, mostly because he told FS1’s Kristine Leahy to “stay in yo lane” when she asked LaVar about shoe sales. But is there some weird intelligence behind this crazy man?

The more he talks, the more well-known he becomes. Love him or hate him, LaVar has gained insane popularity for himself, and his family, by talking crazy. All three of his sons (Lonzo, LiAngelo, LaMelo) have over one million followers on Instagram. LaVar was recently compared to the Kardashian’s after inking a reality TV show. You don’t just accidentally get compared to the most notable family in America. LaVar is playing all the pieces right, even from a business standpoint.

ZO2: SHO’TIME (sneakerfiles.com)

Using pre-orders to test the market is an intelligent strategy because it gives the brand a look at how many shoes they will need to produce, rather than committing to a high number to manufacture. Also, the shoes will not be available until around November. Lisa Delpy Neirotti, a professor at George Washington University, explains that “cutting pre-orders long before their November ship date allows the brand to control how much they must invest.”

All publicity is good publicity, and LaVar has made the most of the free marketing that he gets. He has given BBB an identity, which is crucial for a start-up company. You are not a big baller unless you rep the ZO2’s and BBB gear.

In a recent article with SLAM Online, LaVar took more of an inspirational approach to explaining the reasoning behind the BBB. He explained how the Ball family “just wants to inspire people and show them that there’s a different lane you can travel in. It’s OK to step out and do it another way. Only a select few will do it, but folks will start creating their own brands, like we’ve done with BBB, and more and more families will begin feeling comfortable with betting on themselves.”

LaVar and the Ball family are setting a precedent for upcoming prospects.

Of course, they have to “Ball”

The biggest factor in the company’s future, is Lonzo. If he plays well and makes the Lakers relevant again, the shoes will do great, and inspire upcoming athletes to go in their own direction.

(slamonline.com)

The other two B’s, LiAngelo, and LaMelo Ball, are following in the footsteps of Lonzo. LiAngelo, who this past year led all of California in high school scoring, is headed off to UCLA as a three-star recruit. “Gelo” is seen as the least talented in the trio of brothers but you may have heard of some other three-star recruits like Paul George, Steph Curry, and 2016-17 NBA MVP, Russell Westbrook.

The youngest, LaMelo, is currently the No. 1 point guard for the class of 2019.

A lot of pieces have to fall in place, but one thing is for sure: The Ball’s are entertaining and have the attention of millions.

Anytime someone does something new, people tend to freak out and react in a negative way. They said flicking a switch to activate light was crazy. They said putting wheels on metal and flying it in the sky was crazy. They said random people picking you up and dropping you off at destinations was crazy.

Creating your own brand, along with a $495 signature shoe before stepping on the court might be crazy, but it might also represent the future of the shoe business.

 

Featured image by Big Baller Brand

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My Best Fit 4: Four players drafted who are perfect fits for their respected teams

After an extremely hyped up 2017 NBA Draft, it is time to look at players who will gel right away with the teams they were selected by. The four players chosen have the chance to be immediate impact players, based on depth charts, and team needs.

THE FOUR

Lonzo Ball (LOS ANGELES LAKERS)

After sending former #2 pick D’Angelo Russell to Brooklyn, it was clear that Lonzo Ball would be the guy for the Lakers. While getting many comparisons to Jason Kidd, Ball did not disappoint as a Bruin. As a freshman, Lonzo had over 50 more assists than Kidd did as a freshman at the University of California. An incredibly gifted passer, Ball’s 8.1 assists per 40 minutes ranked 2nd out of all players eligible for the draft. This will immediately help a Lakers team that finished 26th in assists during last year’s season. Shooting 73% from inside the three-point line, Ball’s scoring is often overlooked because of his ability to make plays on both ends of the floor. In fact, Ball’s unorthodox release led him to a very modest 41% from deep. Ball’s ridiculous vision is what sets him apart. Part of the reason for the Lakers struggles was due to the fact that they were 26th in turnovers. His 4.1 to 1 assist to turnover ratio proves how efficient he can be while running the show.

Lonzo controlling the Bruins offense (Sports Illustrated)

As a 6’6’” point guard, Ball’s physical gifts will be a blessing to guys like Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram. While the Lakers are still a work in progress, Ball will make an immediate impact as the starting point guard. He turned a 15 win UCLA team into a 31 win squad, which included a Sweet Sixteen appearance. The guy is a winner and impacts the game in so many ways. Lonzo’s father, Lavar, predicted the Lakers to be back in the playoffs by next year. While this may seem like a stretch, never count out a team with Lonzo running the point.

 

De’Aaron Fox (SACRAMENTO KINGS)

One of the quickest players in the draft, Fox will immediately put up big numbers for the Kings. The constant John Wall comparisons are exactly what Sacramento fans want to hear. A Houston native, Fox averaged 16.7 points per game as a Wildcat. An explosive player who loves to attack the rim, Fox made nearly 60% of his shots in the paint. De’Aaron is also an elite rebounder and passer for his size. Per 40 minutes, Fox averaged 6.2 assists and 5.3 rebounds. His elusive pick and roll game will fit in nicely with Koufos and Cauley-Stein. Fox is developing as a playmaker and will help get Buddy Hield, and Rudy Gay (if resigned) good looks to keep the offense moving. His quickness, size and strength are major reasons as to why he will also be a great defender for the Kings. His 5.9 points per game on fast-break scoring was good enough to rank first out of all the power-conference players.

After making just 31% of his pull up jumpers, Fox has some work to do as a shooter. At only 19 years old, Fox is a gym rat who will continue to improve his ability to shoot the basketball. In the Sweet Sixteen, Fox led his Kentucky Wildcats with 39 points over Ball and the UCLA Bruins, proving his ability to shine when the lights are brightest. With impeccable athleticism and quickness, De’Aaron Fox will be special for the Kings. Don’t be surprised if his numbers are good enough for 2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year.

 

Luke Kennard (DETRIOT PISTONS)

After 10 freshmen and one international player were chosen, sophomore Luke Kennard was selected by the Detroit Pistons. A lethal shooter, Kennard will have the chance to be the starting shooting guard for Detroit. With Kentavious Caldwell-Pope most likely leaving as a free agent, Kennard can play a major role in the offense. Coming off finishing 28th in three-point percentage, Detroit needed shooters. So why not get the best shooter in the draft? During his sophomore campaign, Kennard averaged 19.5 points per game, which was the second most in the ACC, and shot 43.8% from deep. He also averaged 5 rebounds a game.

An athletic player at 6’6”, Kennard moves very well off the ball. He is also able to score off the dribble with ease. Kennard’s ability to pull up from all over the floor will be extremely beneficial to starting point guard Reggie Jackson. An intelligent player, Kennard will space the floor, knock down shots, and develop into a nice playmaker for Detroit.

 

Bam Adebayo (MIAMI HEAT)

Bam throwing it down with authority (KyForward.com)

At 6’10”, 250 lbs, Bam Adebayo will fit in perfectly with Miami. Although he is a physical giant, Adebayo moves well and is surprisingly athletic. He is a perfect fit for Goran Dragic on pick and roll plays. At Kentucky, Bam averaged 13 points and 8 rebounds per game on 59.9% shooting. Playing alongside Hassan Whiteside, who averaged 17 points and finished first in the league with 14.1 rebounds per game, Bam will not have worry too much about offense.

As a great defender, both in the paint and on the perimeter, Adebayo will help Miami move up the charts in rebounds, as they finished 15th in the NBA during the 2016-17 season. In fact, his 4.1 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes is among the best in the draft. His 1.5 blocks per game at Kentucky will help keep the Heat among one of the best shot blocking teams in the NBA. With a Dwight Howard build, look for Bam to become a more athletic and agile DeAndre Jordan.

 

BONUS

 Frank Jackson (NEW ORLEANS PELICANS)

Depending on whether the Pelicans keep Jrue Holiday, Jackson could be the sleeper of the draft. Surrounded by talent at Duke, Frank Jackson was often overlooked, but has the potential to be an elite offensive weapon for New Orleans. With Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins, Jackson has little pressure to immediately impact the offense. An extremely efficient scorer, Jackson averaged 17.6 points per 40 minutes, on 47.3% shooting, during his only year at Duke. His 42-inch vertical leap is a key reason as to why he is such an explosive player. Jackson shot 48% on floaters, and his 39% shooting on three point shots makes him a threat as a perimeter player.

An incredible athlete, Jackson has the ability to turn into a Russell Westbrook type player. During the combine, Jackson finished first in the shuttle run, second in the max vertical leap, and third in the standing vertical leap.

Featured image by Sporting News

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The NBA Five Years From Now

The NBA is a constantly changing league. Besides the San Antonio Spurs, the NBA hierarchy has been nothing if not fluid.

Just four years ago, the Heat and Pacers dominated the Eastern Conference. Four years before that, the Cavaliers, Magic, Pistons and Celtics were the class of the conference. The Western conference has been similarly volatile despite the Spurs’ constant success. The Lakers dominated the West during Kobe’s prime before the Warriors took over as the most dominate force on the Pacific Coast.

It’s likely that we will see a similar shift in power over the next few years. Five years from now, the league will likely have changed considerably.

Eastern Conference

In five years, Lebron James will be 37 years old. There’s no ruling out that he’ll still be dominating the league into his late thirties. Most likely, however, his days as a world-beater will be done. The power vacuum in the East could be filled by a number of teams, but these teams have the best chance at rising to the top.

Cleveland Cavaliers: 

Future of NBA

(courtesy of Grantland)

The Cavaliers have set themselves up well for the next few years. LeBron won’t stay at this level forever, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love can keep them a contender into the future. Kyrie will be in his prime in five years and will most likely still be one of the best point guards in the game. He can be the best guy on a championship team.

Lebron’s game will most likely adapt well as he loses athleticism. His vision and playmaking will withstand father time and compliment Kyrie perfectly. The powers of David Griffin will most likely keep the team contending well into the future.

Best Case: Kyrie turns into a superstar and Kevin Love turns into the Kevin Love of old. LeBron turns into a distributor and the Cavs continue to dominate the East year after year until his retirement.

Worst Case: Kyrie stays at the level he’s at now. Kevin Love regresses and loses some of his rebounding prowess. LeBron loses his midrange touch and struggles with injuries. The Cavs are a fringe playoff team.

Boston Celtics: 

Future of NBA

(courtesy of Boston Herald)

The Celtics are already a top three team in the East. Besides that, GM Danny Ainge has set them up for future success as well.

Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Al Horford will be 31,32 and 35 respectively. Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown will each entering their primes rounding out a solid five man rotation.

The picks they have stashed from Brooklyn will help round out their lineup as well. They look to have a couple of lottery picks over the next two years that should work as assets or turn into solid young talent.

Best Case: If they can land a superstar in the draft they could become a powerhouse and the top seed in the East. Similarly, If they trade some picks to land another superstar, they could elevate themselves into the top spot. Only time will tell, but they look to be a lock as a contender for the next couple of years.

Worst Case: They strike out on their lottery picks over the next two years. Their aging talent becomes injury prone and fails to produce at the same level. They stay a playoff threat, but drop to a five or six seed in the East.

Milwaukee Bucks:

Future of NBA

(courtesy of USA Today)

 To be a top team in the NBA, you need a superstar. It’s becoming more and more clear that the Bucks have that role filled. Giannis Antetokounmpo has emerged as one of the brightest stars in the NBA and looks ready to lead this team for the next decade.

The Bucks have a depth of other young stars as well. Jabari Parker and Malcolm Brogdon look like great pieces and Khris Middleton is set to return next year. The Bucks could be set to dominate the league for the next few years.

Best Case: The Greek Freak becomes the best player in the league. He, Parker and Middleton become a Big Three and they become a perennial championship team in the East.

Worst Case: The Greek Freak continues on his trajectory, but the pieces around him don’t develop. He becomes a good player on a bad team and they are exit the playoffs early.

Philadelphia 76ers: 

Future of NBA

(courtesy of Getty images)

The Sixers could be the biggest unknown in the NBA. They have made huge strides with Joel Embiid this year, but the team’s future is still up in the air.

Like the Bucks, the Sixers have the most important piece of the puzzle. If Joel Embiid can stay healthy he is going to be a star. The question is whether the Sixers can surround him with talent.

Hopefully, Ben Simmons can be another star for the team. And with two potential top ten picks this year, they could add more star power to their lineup. The Sixers have the potential to be a super-team, but also stay at the bottom of the East.

Best Case: They get two more stars in the draft this year. Ben Simmons turns out to be another star, and Joel Embiid turns into the best center in the league. The Sixers contend for the championship every year and dominate a strong Eastern conference.

Teams that will drop:

Toronto Raptors

Atlanta Hawks

Chicago Bulls

Verdict: The Bucks are the most likely team to rule the East in five years. With a few future superstars and proven role players, they are set up best for the future. The Sixers have the second best chance. With their injury risks domination is anything but definite, but they have too much talent to rule out. The Cavaliers and Celtics are dark horse candidates to remain on top of the conference as well.

Western Conference

Future of NBA

(courtesy of Bleacher Report)

Golden State Warriors: 

The rich get richer. The Warriors will most likely take a similar path to the Heat after they signed Lebron James. Although they lacked cap space in the first year, they added depth in James’ second year with the team. Although they lack depth this year, the Golden State Warriors will most likely continue to get better as their four stars hit their prime. They will most likely continue to be the class of the West.

Best Case: The Warriors gain depth to surround their stars. They remain the one seed for the next five years and win championships along the way.

Worst Case: The Warriors can’t retain their superstars. They’re stuck with a middling team that sits in the middle of the conference every year.

San Antonio Spurs: 

Future of NBA

(courtesy of Bleacher Report)

The Spurs have Kawhi Leonard, Lamarcus Aldridge and a knack for never missing on a free agent signing or draft pick. They will continue to build around Kawhi and remain at the top. As long as they have a star player and the best coach in the league they will continue to contend.

Best Case: They make a splash in free agency. With two superstars and a great supporting cast, Popovich continues to keep this team at the top of the West.

Worst Case: The team struggles to contend, and Kawhi is the only star on the team.

Los Angeles Lakers: 

Future of NBA

(courtesy of USA Today)

The Lakers have a depth of budding superstars, led by Deangelo Russell and Brandon Ingram. The team is set for the future and have a great young coach in Luke Walton. Whether or not they can contend depends on the progression of Brandon Ingram, but if their stars pan out they could easily turn into one of the best teams in the West.

Best Case: Deangelo Russell and Brandon Ingram turn into superstars and lead the Lakers to championships over the next few years. Luke Walton becomes one of the best coaches in the league and they become the powerhouse of the West.

Worst Case: Brandon Ingram can’t put on weight. Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle don’t live up to their potential. The Lakers can’t execute their turnaround and remain a borderline playoff team.

Minnesota Timberwolves: 

Future of NBA

(courtesy of Sporting News)

The Timberwolves have a coach, two stars and a depth of pieces that can contribute or be traded. They will also most likely have a top pick in this year’s draft. Although their timetable has already been pushed back, it is matter of when not if they will be the class of the west.

Best Case: Towns and Wiggins become superstars at the level of Durant and Westbrook, but the team succeeds and wins championships. They become a perennial one seed.

Worst Case: The Wolves fall into a trap of becoming a great team, but never an elite team. They never develop the pieces around Towns and Wiggins, and stagnate around the 2 or 3 seed.

Teams that will drop: 

Houston Rockets

Los Angeles Clippers

Memphis Grizzlies

Verdict: The Timberwolves are the most likely team to dominate the West in five years. They have two future superstars in Wiggins and Towns, and they have the young pieces around them to build a great team. The Warriors are the second most likely, as they already have the proven stars, but their stars will be aging in five years. The Lakers and Spurs will be dark horse contenders because of their star power and their respective coaching prowess.

The Worst Recent NFL Free Agent Signings

The money being thrown around in NBA free agency is ridiculous. One dimensional players like Timofey Mozgov are getting $64-million contracts. A conversation with a Laker fan friend of mine after Mozgov cashed in got me thinking. Bad free agency signings are by no means limited to the NBA. Here are four of the worst in recent NFL history.

bleacherreport.com

Photo from bleacherreport.com

Dwayne Bowe (Cleveland Browns, two years, $13 million in 2015)

The Browns needed talent everywhere at the time. Quite frankly, they still do. Thus, signing a guy who never caught less than 45 balls in 8 years with the Chiefs was actually solid logic, but it backfired horribly. Conflicts with the coaching staff were immediate. The shady injury reports came next. Bowe was only active for seven games last year catching just six passes for the season. He was released after just one season. Even at just 31 years of age, it is hard to envision him finding another NFL home. As with all of these deals, only a fraction of the money is guaranteed. This is one major difference between the NFL and NBA. In this case, it was $9 million that the talent starved Browns could have spent elsewhere.

photo from usatoday.com

Photo from usatoday.com

Matt Flynn  (Seattle Seahawks, two-year $26 million in 2012)

This situation is pretty unique. It was a bad deal, but everyone came out smelling like a rose. While starter Aaron Rodgers rested, Flynn started the 2011 regular-season finale against the Lions. He set the Packers’ franchise single-game records with 480 yards and six touchdowns. Based on that one game, Seattle signed Flynn to a big-time free-agent deal. This was another $9 million of guaranteed money. However, the Seahawks drafted Russell Wilson in the same off-season in which they signed Flynn. Wilson beat out Flynn for the starting job and the rest is history. The Seahawks were quite happy to pay their big free-agent signing a ton of money to sit on the bench. Flynn never started a regular season game for Seattle. He was traded to Oakland after one season.

photo from philly.com

photo from philly.com

Nnamdi Asomugha (Philadelphia Eagles, five years $60 million in 2011)

The first two deals I mentioned are a case of hindsight being 20/20. My last two were terrible ideas from the start. Asomugha was the epitome of a shutdown cornerback when he was with the Oakland Raiders. He was thrown at less than 100 times by opposing quarterbacks from 2007-2009. He was named to the NFL’s all decade team in 2010. Yet, when the Eagles signed him to a free-agent mega-deal worth close to $30 million guaranteed, they asked him to play all five positions in the secondary.

Despite being named a Pro-Bowl alternate in his first season as an Eagle, too much was on his plate. He was released after just two seasons in Philadelphia and never regained the mojo he had in Oakland. He always was a shutdown corner. Why would anyone ask him to see playing time at any other position, much less four? I never understood it.

Albert Haynesworth (Washington Redskins, seven years $100 million in 2009)

When it comes to bad free-agent signings, the Redskins should get their own article, and this one is the worst of the worst. Despite being a bit of a problem child in the locker room and a lengthy criminal record, the Redskins signed Haynesworth to one of the largest free-agent contracts in history following the 2008 season. The deal included $41 million guaranteed and $32 million in the first 13 months. Even though Haynesworth was a very productive player with the Titans, this kind of money was and is unheard of for a defensive lineman.

The marriage in DC was doomed from the beginning. Haynesworth publicly criticized the Redskins defensive scheme and was unable to complete head coach Mike Shanahan’s basic conditioning test. In two years with the Redskins, he combined for just 42 tackles and 6.5 sacks, including career lows across the board in 2010. After a few suspensions for “conduct detrimental to the team”, the Redskins finally cut their staggering losses following the 2010 season. Haynesworth had two more unsuccessful seasons with New England and Tampa Bay to close out his checkered career.

Regardless of an organization’s logic, one thing is certain. If a team misses on a big-time free-agent signing, they will be sometimes first, and always second guessed.

Dwyane Wade Leaving the Heat?

Courtesy of CBS Sports.com

Courtesy of CBS Sports.com

Is it actually possible that Mr. Miami, Dwyane Wade, could leave the Miami Heat? Even after one of his best seasons in the last five years? Wade played 74 games, the most in five years, averaged 19 points, four assists, and four rebounds. But in NBA Free Agency anything can happen.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that Wade and the Heat are not seeing eye-to-eye in negotiations on a new contract. I could see why Miami may want to part ways with Wade. Of course, Pat Riley has to try and get Kevin Durant. At this point in the NBA, Kevin Durant is a better option. The Heat have nine free agents this year, that includes Wade, Luol Deng, and Hasaan Whiteside, among others.

All three could possibly leave especially, Whiteside. The Lakers are courting Miami center Hasaan Whiteside. Whiteside may want to leave the Miami Heat for a team that will give him the max. This would allow him to be the foundation piece for a great organization like the Lakers. Other teams have been told that Wade is up to listen to offers from other teams. We don’t know exactly which teams are in consideration but I can think of a two teams.

One team of course is the Cleveland Cavaliers. After this postseason his good friend, LeBron James, won his third title, tying Wade. If Wade really wanted to team up with James, the time is now. The Cavs could trade some players to clear some more money for Wade and he could fit right into the shooting guard spot for the Cavs. Think about that potential lineup in Cleveland: Kyrie Irving at the 1, Wade at the 2, LeBron James at the 3, Kevin Love at the 4, and Tristan Thompson at the 5. They could still have J.R. Smith and Richard Jefferson coming off of the bench.

The Cavs would run through the East with even more ease than last year. But, this is all wishful thinking because I really don’t think the Cavs could ever get enough money. Trying to pay Irving, James, Love, Thompson, and Wade, unless Wade takes a significant pay cut would be hard. Wade will most likely not want to do that. But, if Dan Gilbert and the Cavs can clear that cap space, Wade will definitely be pursued.

Another team is the Chicago Bulls. It’s Wade’s hometown and he could give the Bulls something to cheer about after Derrick Rose was traded to the Big Apple to play for the Knicks. We all know how much NBA players love winning for their hometown. Even though the Bulls received a good starting point guard in Jose Calderon in the Rose trade, they need more offense. Wade could be there go to at the 2 and move Jimmie Butler to the 3. If they wanted to they could move Wade to the 1, move Calderon to the bench, and keep Butler at the 2.

More importantly, Wade could be the leader in Chicago after their heart and soul, Joakim Noah is ready to leave the Bulls organization. In Chicago, Wade could mentor Butler and incoming Michigan State guard/forward Denzel Valentine.  The Bulls are a work in progress in terms of competing for the NBA Championship, but with Wade they can speed up the process.

The Second Season

Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) fouls Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the first half in Game 3 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) fouls Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the first half in Game 3 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Has there ever been a better final day of the the regular season in NBA history? The Warriors broke the Chicago Bulls’ record of 72 wins in a season. The Warriors beat the Grizzlies by a score of 125-104 to finish the season 73-9. Steph Curry finished with 402 made three pointers this season which is also an NBA record. He also scored 46 points to make sure the Warriors broke the win record. Impressive isn’t even enough to describe what the Warriors were able to do. It is truly an amazing feature but it doesn’t even hold a candle to what happened in Los Angeles for Kobe’s final game.

Hollywood couldn’t write a script as great as Kobe wrote for his final performance in Staples Center. The show that Kobe put on reminded us of Kobe in his prime while chasing championships. It was magical. It was mesmerizing. He poured his heart and his soul into his final game in the same way he did for his entire career. It was poetic.

60 points in his final game; it is the most ever for a player in their final game. It was the most points in the NBA scored the entire season. It was the 25th 50 point game of his career. He never ran. Not when times got hard instead he fought through. When the injuries tried to stop him he fought back to make sure he went out on his own terms. There is only one quote to sum up up Kobe and his performance, “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.”

It was a perfect way to end the regular season and get us all ready for the NBA’s second season. Now that the regular season is over let’s take a look at all the first round playoff matches and who will win.

Eastern Conference

(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (8) Detroit Pistons: Do not sleep on the Pistons. They are a well coached team with lots of talent. Andre Drummond will get his first action in the playoffs and Reggie Jackson has some experience with the Thunder. LeBron James does not want to be one of the few players to lose to an eight seed but it is possible. The Pistons won three of the four matchups in the regular season which will give them the confidence in the playoffs to pull a possible upset. Although it is possible, I don’t see the Pistons beating the Cavaliers in a seven game series.

Cleveland wins series 4-2

(2) Toronto Raptors vs (7) Indiana Pacers: The Raptors are in the perfect position heading into the playoffs. They are a quiet two seed who nobody is talking about or picking to do much in the playoffs. They had 56 wins which is a franchise record. The Pacers are a surprise team in the playoffs this year. Paul George is a star and Myles Turner is an up and coming star as well but the Pacers are not equipped to make a run this year. The Raptors had much success against the Pacers this year and this series will be no different.

Toronto wins series 4-1

(3) Miami Heat vs (6) Charolette Hornets: The Heat are one of the teams perceived to have the capability to dethrone the Cavaliers as the Eastern Conference Champions. They have the talent to do so but the Hornets will be no easy out. The teams split in the regular season and I believe this series has a chance to be one of the most competitive first round series. I see this series going seven games but Dwayne Wade will lead the Heat to a series win.

Miami wins series 4-3

(4) Atlanta Hawks vs (5) Boston Celtics: The young Celtics are scrappy and play with a certain toughness that leads to success. Atlanta has a lot of playoff experience but they usually don’t go far into the playoffs. This Hawks are one of the best passing teams in the league as they were second in the NBA in team assists with an average of 25.6 per game. The Celtics are one of the best teams at forcing turnovers so it will be a clash of styles and strengths. This will be a highly competitive series and the regular season was won by the Hawks. This time will be different.

Boston wins series 4-2

Western Conference

(1) Golden State Warriors vs (8) Houston Rockets: The Golden State Warriors just broke the record for most wins in a season. The need 16 wins to go back to back. This is the chance to defend their title which is always harder than getting the first championship. They will play against James Harden which will be no easy task but the Warriors play a true team game. James Harden is good enough to possibly steal a game and it will be in Houston if it happens but the Warriors are determined to win. They will.

Golden State wins series 4-1

(2) San Antonio Spurs vs (7) Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies remarkably made the playoffs through an up and down season filled with injuries. Memphis would barely have a chance to beat the Spurs with Mike Conley Jr. playing but with him out the chances are even more slim. The Spurs are a well oiled machine that has no chance of breaking down against the Grizzlies.

San Antonio wins series 4-0

(3) Oklahoma City Thunder vs (6) Dallas Mavericks: The Thunder are the third best team in the West and an afterthought to contend for the title. The stigma is that its going to be Spurs vs Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. The Thunder have to prove to themselves they can win the West and it starts with beating the Mavericks. The Thunder swept the Mavericks in the regular season and I don’t see the Mavericks upsetting the Thunder in this series.

Oklahoma City wins series 4-1

(4) Los Angeles Clippers vs (5) Portland Trailblazers: The Clippers are a great team with great talent but talent can only take you so far. The Trailblazers surprised the entire league with how good they have been. Damian Lillard is probably the most underrated player in the NBA and the fact that the Trailblazers made the playoffs should attest to that. The Clippers are going to be the clear favorite in this series but I won’t count out the Trailblazers completely. We have seen in the past that Lillard can hit game winners in the post season. The Rockets have experienced this. The Clippers should pull this series out but I am not totally confident in their ability to beat Portland in a seven game series.

Los Angeles wins series 4-3

Death of Competition in the NBA

 Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

I have been a fan of the NBA for all my life. There is a trend that has been happening over the last five to seven years that is starting to make me sick. That trend is the death of true competition.

Bill Russell versus Wilt Chamberlain. Celtics versus Lakers. Magic versus Bird. Bulls versus Pistons. Jordan versus the Bad Boys.

The NBA was built on great competition and rivalries. The game we now know and love grew from feuds and exciting rivalries between both players and teams. Fans became enamored by these clashes of legendary players and great teams. Rivalries are slowly dying in today’s NBA and I think there is a reason for it.

When one of the most popular players in NBA history decides to join his friends rather than beat them, he sets an example for the kids who grow up wanting to be like him. LeBron James and his friends are destroying the idea of rivalries and true competition with the way he first joined the Heat and is talking about it again with Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade and Carmelo Anthony.

I know what he wants. He wants to win. We all want to win. There is a fire that burns in us that causes us to hate losing.

I once heard a quote that said, “You have to hate losing, more than you love to win.”

I do hate losing. I hate not being better than someone at something. I know LeBron hates losing as well. He has to.

I grew up playing sports anytime I could. Football, baseball or basketball, you name it and I was outside in the neighborhood playing these sports. I loved playing with my friends. There was something even better than playing with my friends. Beating my friends was more satisfying. I felt like the games were more fun and more competitive. There was more at stake in my mind and heart: If I win I have the right to say I was better. I have the right to brag until the next time we played. If I lost I had to hear that I wasn’t better and my friend had the bragging rights. It makes you work harder because you don’t want to hear the smack talk. Nobody likes feeling like a loser.

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were great friends and even better rivals. They loved competing against one another and never tried to play together in the NBA. They knew they could play together in the Olympics or in the offseason, but during the NBA season they went at each other with a hatred. It wasn’t hatred for each other, it was hatred for losing to your friend. Magic has been on the record saying that the competition with Larry Bird made him better and made him work harder. They each won some and lost some but had tremendous respect for one another and the fans were blessed with a great rivalry up until they retired.

Another example is Jordan trying to get past the Bad Boy Pistons.

He didn’t call up Magic or Bird and say, “Hey, we all keep losing to them let’s get together and beat them.”

No Michael Jordan decided to hit the gym and work extra hard because he was sick and tired of losing to the same team every year in the playoffs. He worked hard and finally was able to get over that hump and it led to six NBA championships and a legendary career.

Let’s fast forward to the past 10 years of the NBA where Kobe has begun to age and LeBron has become the face and draw of the NBA. The Celtics had Paul Pierce and signed Ray Allen. Along with those two stars they made a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves to acquire Kevin Garnett and form a championship caliber team. There are a lot of people who blame these three players for starting the “super team” trend, but it would have never happened without the trade that required the management to pull it off.

LeBron was then in the same situation as Jordan essentially. He spent years trying to get past the Celtics but couldn’t. Instead of doing what most competitors did he decided to quit on the Cavaliers and join a couple of his friends in Miami. Three free agents purposely decided that in order to win they had to all come together. Dwayne Wade was an All-Star and NBA champion, Chris Bosh was an All-Star and the franchise star of the Toronto Raptors, and we all know LeBron was an All-Star and the superstar of Cleveland and the NBA. You had three really good teams in the East who all battled together along with the Celtics. In just one offseason two of those teams became obsolete because of these friends deciding to play together rather than compete against each other.

Based on championships the move was successful for the stars. They went to four straight Finals and won two of them. The Eastern Conference has been a cake walk for them because they all teamed up. They couldn’t man up and beat one another like the stars of the past. There are no true rivalries in the Eastern Conference. LeBron has no rivals because he joined them.

Fast forward to this year. The Warriors and Spurs are becoming true rivals because their cores are the same and have been built for a few years, with the Spurs core being around much longer. We then get a comment from LeBron in which he says he would love to play with his former teammate and friend Dwayne Wade, and long time friends Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony. Chris Paul has been unsuccessful in ever reaching a Conference Finals. Carmelo Anthony has never been to a Finals and finds himself at a crossroads in his career. He is showing signs of concern in becoming one of the best players ever to never win a ring.

Now we have to hear talks of all four of them joining up to play together. Why is that? Is it because LeBron is 2-4 in the Finals? Because Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony have never been to a Finals? All together they may get to a Finals or win one because that amount of talent on the floor on one team has only been seen on an Olympic team.

There is a reason professional leagues implemented free agency. It was for a level playing field. It was for the teams who were bad every year to have a chance at competing the next year. Previous generations weren’t afraid to fail to get better. They didn’t join forces just to make success easier. I want the best players in the league fighting for championships not finding the easiest route to one. Hopefully a player comes into the NBA or is currently in the NBA to change the culture back to fighting and growing through failure rather than just quitting and finding some friends to play with.

If players continue to team up and try to form super teams that look like an Olympic roster, it will be the death of competition.

Kobe’s Last Half

The NBA Break is over. After the thrilling Slam Dunk Contest and Kobe’s last All-Star Game, what could be left of the NBA season? Well, let’s see what is left.

Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (24) kisses his daughter before the first half of the NBA all-star basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016 in Toronto. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP)

Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant (24) kisses his daughter before the first half of the NBA all-star basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016 in Toronto. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP)

Most importantly it is the last half of Kobe’s last season. After these 27 games, there will be no more Black Mamba. Here are some of his last notable games.

On February 19, 2016, Kobe will go to San Antonio and play the Spurs for the last time. From 1999-2010 the Lakers and the Spurs ruled the West and the NBA. Both franchises captured 11 Western Conference titles. The Lakers had seven and the Spurs had four. From 199-2010, both teams won the NBA Finals nine NBA championships. Lakers had five, including their 3-peat in 2000-2002. They Lakers also went an addition two times and lost in 2004 to the Detroit Pistons and in 2008 to the Boston Celtics. And the Spurs had four titles in that span.

Courtesy of Ronald Cortes/ Getty Images

Courtesy of Ronald Cortes/ Getty Images

On February 21, 2016, he visits the Bulls and plays Jordan’s old team. The man Kobe, like most, wanted to be like. And Pau Gasol, his former teammate, will back in the building to play Kobe. We predict Jordan will be in the building and Kobe will want to have a great night. Kobe should be well rested on one and a half days’ rest. I’m predicting the Lakers will get blown out against the Spurs and Kobe will be out early in the second half.

On March 10th, he will host the King and the Cavs in LA in his last showdown with LeBron James. Kobe usually doesn’t do great against LeBron but on that night, Kobe could put up a good 30 points. Cavs’s coach Tyronn Lue is also former teammate of Kobe. This will be the last showdown against the debatably best players after Michael Jordan.

Three days later, Kobe will play the Knicks in the Staples Center. Of course Phil Jackson, his coach will travel to LA to see Kobe play. But I could see something bigger happening on that night. I would love to see them bring some of the 3-peat team to the game and the Laker organization will honor them on that night. Kobe, Shaq, Derek Fisher, and Phil all on the court together one last time. That could be one of the more memorable moments of the season, if they could pull that off.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

On April 3rd, he will host the Boston Celtics for the last time. This Boston team might not be the same one Kobe is used to playing but it is still Boston vs. Lakers. In Kobe’s time the Lakers and the Celtics met twice in the NBA Finals and they split back to back championships.

Kobe will play his last game at home against the Utah Jazz on the 13th of April. This game will put the stamp on Kobe’s historic NBA career. All who have ever loved, hated, and respected Kobe will be there. I would not even put it past current players to fly in and watch the game if it falls on a night off for them.

Kobe will be missed by all.

NBA All-Star Weekend

The NBA All-Star Weekend won’t disappoint. Photo: youtube.com

Football doesn’t entertain us with the Pro Bowl but the NBA sure does entertain us on All Star Weekend. If you’re a little disappointed from watching the Pro Bowl, cheer up because All Star weekend is coming up. That said, it is time to preview the event that always has us talking about an amazing display of three point shooting, creative, high-flying dunks and flashy plays in the All Star game.

The events start at 8:30 est. Saturday, February 13th on TNT.

Taco Bell Skills Competition: This is the first major event of the night and typically this event is for guards and a few small forwards, but for the first time ever the skills competition will include front court players. There will be eight participants: Jordan Clarkson (Los Angeles Lakers), Isaiah Thomas (Boston), Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota), C.J. McCollum (Portland), Anthony Davis (New Orleans), Draymond Green (Golden State), DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento) and defending champion Patrick Beverly (Houston). The finals will come down to Draymond Green and Isaiah Thomas in my opinion and will be much more entertaining by including front court players.

Prediction: Draymond Green. Draymond is very talented and versatile and he will show case his versatility by winning this competition.

Foot Locker Three-Point Contest: This is the second event and there are eight participants: Devin Booker (Phoenix), Chris Bosh (Miami), J.J. Redick (Los Angeles Clippers), Kyle Lowry (Toronto), Kris Middleton( Milwaukee) , Klay Thompson (Golden State), James Harden (Houston) and defending champion Steph Curry (Golden State). I believe the finals will be between J.J. Redick and defending champion Steph Curry. Steph Curry is on top of the world and currently the best player in the NBA. I believe he will defend his title.

Prediction: Steph Curry. He is the best shooter in the league and he will prove it again in this competition.

Verizon Slam Dunk Contest: The main event on Saturday night has shown us that humans can fly over the years. There have been so many players who have shown amazing talent and dunking over the years, Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Spud Webb, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Nate Robinson, Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin and maybe the best of all time, Vince Carter. Most of these players participated in this before becoming superstars. It is a stepping stone to stardom. This year the four participants are: Andre Drummond (Detroit), Will Barton (Denver), Aaron Gordon (Orlando) and defending champion Zach LaVine (Minnesota). I think a lot of people will learn about Will Barton and he will make it to the finals and go up against Zach LaVine.
Prediction: Zach Lavine: This man can defy gravity. His is super athletic and is going to be a star in this league one day.  I believe he will defend his title and go back to back in Toronto.

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