Tag Archive | "nba"

Basketball Is Not A Sport Of Political Correctness

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Basketball Is Not A Sport Of Political Correctness

borat_lebanon0109hamed_haddadiI have recently seen some twitter chatter  as to whether  the recent 1 game suspension of Clippers longtime play-by-play announcer Ralph Lawler and color analyst Michael Smith was appropriate.

Was Fox Sports being too “politically correct”?

They were both suspended by the Fox Sports Prime Ticket cable network for their comments about Memphis center Hamed Haddadi.  Haddadi is Irania born. The exchange occurred during a telecast of a game against Memphis. The transcript as reported in the LA times reads as follows:

Smith: “Look who’s in.”

Lawler: “Hamed Haddadi. Where’s he from?”

Smith: “He’s the first Iranian to play in the NBA.” (Smith pronounced Iranian as “Eye-ranian,” a pronunciation that offended the viewer who complained.)

Lawler: “There aren’t any Iranian players in the NBA,” repeating Smith’s mispronunciation.

Smith: “He’s the only one.”

Lawler: “He’s from Iran?”

Smith: “I guess so.”

Lawler: “That Iran?”

Smith: “Yes.”

Lawler: “The real Iran?”

Smith: “Yes.”

Lawler: “Wow. Haddadi that’s H-A-D-D-A-D-I.”

Smith: “You’re sure it’s not Borat’s older brother?”

Smith: “If they ever make a movie about Haddadi, I’m going to get Sacha Baron Cohen to play the part.”

Lawler: “Here’s Haddadi. Nice little back-door pass. I guess those Iranians can pass the ball.”

Smith: “Especially the post players.

Lawler: “I don’t know about their guards.”

Political correctness run amok or appropriate discipline?

The answer is in the question.  Basketball is about sports competition, not politics.

Regardless of the lack of ill intent or intended humor in the exchange, there is no place for racial or off-color ethnic comedy in the NBA announcer’s booth.

Ralph Smith and Michael Lawler were employed by Fox for one purpose and one purpose only, to provide BASKETBALL related play by play and color commentary for NBA basketball games. The moment they strayed into “off-color”commentary where we have to debate “political correctness” they were unacceptably outside the scope of  their job descriptions whether it was about an Iranian, Jew or Muslim.(Ironically Sacha Baron Cohen is in fact Jewish)

Let’s leave  the debate over “political correctness” to the varied content of Fox News.  Fox Sports is supposed to be about sports.  Fox knew this and took appropriate action.  I suspect that Smith and Lawler while not happy about it, agree with and understand the action taken.  Kudos to Fox for keeping their eye on the basketball.

(Exchange begins at 1:01)

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Mavs Prove They Can Contend

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Mavs Prove They Can Contend

dirk_nowitzki1Winning on the road is no easy task  When it is a Superbowl weekend swing through a young aggressive Miami Heat team and a legitimate title contender Orlando Magic team, you hope for a split and pray for a sweep.

While it is a too early in the season for true NBA miracles the Dallas Mavericks are showing signs that when playing as we know they can, they can electrify the top of the NBA power grid.  After taking down the Miami Heat, the Mavs never let Orlando get into their three point rhythm, breaking open a tight game on their way to 105-95 win and their 3rd straight victory. While the Magic were on the second game of a back to back, they are tough at home regardless.  Dirk Nowitski had his usual stellar game jacking in 29 with 6 rebounds.  Jason Kidd had a a solid games proving that he can call a good game as well as play one.  I have always contended that the Kidd for  Devin Harris trade was the right move for the Mavs. Has anyone noticed that while the Mavs are contending the New Jersey Nets are 21-27 and out of the playoffs if the season ended today?  While Devin is having a great year and a center piece for the Nets,  that does not mean he was the right piece for the Mavs.  Let’s hope that this juicing of the the Florida circut will be looked back as a pivotal moment in the Mavs climb into solid contention for an NBA title run.

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Living Outside The Three Point Line

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Living Outside The Three Point Line

The NBA season is upon us.  I attended the Dallas Mavericks first exhibition game.  I then took an unusual step for me.  I roamed the  streets of Dallas checking out various nightclubs contemplating the  hope filled start of the Dallas Mavericks season.  I wandered aimlessly from bar to bar contemplating what I hoped was the start of a very successful season ending in a championship.  It struck me that there were many similarities between the social interactions I witnessed out on the singles scene and the great game of hoops. It made me realize that while life imitates art, basketball can imitate life.  If you don’t believe me put on your high-tops any weekend and step onto the hardwood court of Dallas or any big city nightlife where an entire basketball season is played out on any given night. There are no points for second place. The winners hit nothing but net while the losers head home alone and whine the next morning about how they gave their best.  The only way you can only get a “clear path” to the basket” view of all this is if you are living outside the three point line. I stared in awe as a baseline spectator of the same game all over again on a different court.  There different players, different rules and the winners and loser some times much more subtle than the fourth quarter sore or determining the defensive or offensive set. To watch this game I had to re-learn all I knew about basketball and how it applied to the nightlife scene. Once I had finished learning the rules and different offensive (sometimes very offensive!) and defensive sets, a night out in Dallas became more entertaining than watching the NBA Finals.

In order to see what I saw and know what I know you have to have a basic understanding of basketball “terminology” as it applies to  both the NBA and the nightclub scene.  Once you have this understanding you will never look at a bar or nightclub in the same light. Here are some of the terms you need to understand.  You can find the actual NBA definitions for many of these terms here.   These  are in no particular order:

Palming”  The act of adjusting your crotch in a nightclub right in front of your buddy/wingman and the hot girl you are talking to.  This is a change in possession foul and you must now transfer possession of the hot girl to your buddy.

Slam-dunk”  The last drunk girl in the bar at 2 am

Full Court Press ”  Within fifteen minutes of meeting a girl in a bar you have given her your phone number, certified financial statement, recent HIV test, two round trip tickets to Vegas for the next day. You even have flowers sent to the girl while still in the bar.

Flagrant Foul”  At the very moment the hottest girl in the bar is handing you her telephone number, your best buddy picks his nose.  This is a two shot foul. You keep the ball. Your buddy must buy two shots of any drink you choose for you and any girl you want the rest of the night.

Double-Double”  You figure it out…

Triple Double”   U DA MAN!

Clear Path Foul:   You picked up the hottest girl in the club.  She has told you how much she wants you.  You are on your way back to your place.  She pukes all over your car.

Fast Break”  You have not even valeted the car yet and your buddy is coming out of the nightclub, hot girl in hand.

Traveling”    You live in Dallas. She lives in Fort Worth.  This is a change in possession foul if your buddy doesn’t care where she lives.

24 Second Violation:    You meet a hot girl.  You spend the first 25 seconds talking about your millions in the bank,  new  Maserati, listing on the Forbes 400 and your Gulfstream while your 3 roommates look on. The is also known as a “30k Millionaire Violation”   It is a change in possession violation to any guy in the bar that actually owns a Maserati or Gulfstream.

Double Dribble”  You forget to tie your shoes.  Just as you are about to hand your girl her drink, you trip and spill both drinks on her. This is a change in possession foul as your buddy calls you a clumsy idiot stating that he would never be so stupid.  She agrees and goes home with him.

Back Court Violation”  Your posse is in the club. You have drink in hand when you realize your driver was denied entrance because he wore tennis shoes.

Alley Oop”   Your buddy hands off to you that last drunk girl in the bar at 2 am.  You are hoping to convert to a “slam dunk”.

Moving Screen”  Your buddy is not getting near that girl.  She is going home with you!

Blocking Foul Right when the hottest girl in the club is handing you’re her phone number and your buddy comes up and says he found your wedding ring on the floor.

Offensive Foul”   You had Italian for dinner. Your about to kiss your girl good night on the cheek (because you’re a gentlemen) when you burp and a piece of spaghetti lands on her cheek.  This is a change of possession foul.  She does not care who gets the ball as along as its not you.

Loose Ball Foul”   No clean underwear and an unknown hole tear in your pants.

Technical Foul”   She told you she was 21 when you bought her a drink.  This is a ejection from game foul and a minimum one game suspension to be spent in a 4 by 6 with bars.

Offensive Rebound”   It is not your fault your buddy cant close.

“Tip Off”     You spy something suspiciously looking like an Adam’s Apple on the hot “girl” you are talking to.

“Two Minute Warning”   Its last call. You struck out.  Your driver has left and you have no cab fare.

You now have the rules you need to step into the hoops arena of Dallas Nightlife  or any big city club scee where unlike the NBA, every weekend brings a new season..

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Why Athletes Go Broke

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Why Athletes Go Broke

The “Real Deal” is broke.

Former Heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield is playing the real life game of Deal Or No Deal. It has been reported that his $10 million estate in suburban Atlanta is under foreclosure, the mother of one of his children is suing for unpaid child support, and a Utah consulting company has gone to court claiming the boxer failed to pay back more than a half million dollars for landscaping. Just one more high profile athlete having to scale back his lifestyle to the level to which you have I have been accustomed. Why is it that athletes who seem to have everything are often completely unable to control anything related to finances?

We all played our violins to death when we heard of Latrell Sprewell’s financial troubles. On Halloween 2004, Sprewell, who was in the final season of a $62-million five-year contract with the New York Knicks, said he was insulted by the Minnesota Timberwolve’s offer of a contract extension that was reportedly worth between $27 million and $30 million for three seasons. Sprewell stated, “I’ve got my family to feed.” That quote become a national moniker for the public perception of athletes as greedy, out of touch individuals. Apparently, Sprewell still can’t feed his family. His yacht was recently repossessed and his multi-million dollar mansion is about to be foreclosed on.

While there is certainly the stereotype of the financially irresponsible NBA athlete, no professional sport is immune.

Let’s take a look at some high profile athlete financial sob stories over the years:

1. No one my age can forget Jack”The Ripper” Clark , star player for the Boston Red Sox who filed for bankruptcy in 1992 in the middle of his second year of a three-year, $8.7 million contract with Boston; he listed $6.7 million in debts. Jack was a master of financial planning and prudent asset acquisition. His bankruptcy petition listed assets such as 18 automobiles, including a 1990 Ferrari that cost $717,000 and three 1992 Mercedes Benz cars costing between $103,000 and $143,000. He owed money on 17 of the automobiles and was liable for about $400,000 in Federal and state taxes. He had also lost about $1 million in a drag-racing venture. Sounds like Jack would have been more at home in the NBA. You can read about it hereMike Tyson\'s Bentley

2. Johnny Unitas, Hall of Fame quarterback for the Baltimore Colts, filed for bankruptcy in 1991 citing numerous failed business ventures in his petition These failed bits included bowling alleys, land deals and restaurants. He filed forChapter 11 bankruptcy in 1991.

3. Mike Tyson The name speaks for itself. Mike’s bankruptcy was highly publicized. Despite earning hundreds of millions during his boxing career, Mike kept it simple. His bankruptcy petition simply stated: ” I am unable to pay my bills”.According to federal court records, his liabilities totaled about $27 million. You can read that story here.

4. Dorothy Hamill, the women’s figure-skating gold medalist in the 1976 Winter Games, filed for bankruptcy after a series of financial setbacks. Hamill said she has experienced financial setbacks as a result of poor financial investment advice and management.

These are just a few of many athletes’ tales of woe. It is not a phenomenon limited to professional sports — just ask M.C Hammer. Prior to his declaring bankruptcy, it was made public that his day to day living expenses far exceeded his income of $33 million. If I am going to veer off to celebrities, I certainly have to mention Kim Basinger and Michael Jackson.

When the Toronto Star ran an article alleging that a shocking 60 percent of NBA athletes “go broke” five years after retiring, did we not all pull out that very tiny violin we have reserved for such occasions? The NBA players union and the NBA have both disputed that assertion. The article goes on to talk about all the people taking advantage of and “scamming” these athletes. While I have no doubt there is truth to this, I can also understand how such a generalization would make the NBA uncomfortable. It leaves you with the impression that 60 percent of NBA players are not only financially inept but also idiots in general. This is simply not true. While good business sense is often lacking, I view many of their mistakes as being more mistakes of trust, credibility and lack of life experience than anything else. Smart, busy people who can afford it, hire people with targeted expertise to help them. This allows them to focus on their expertise. Sometime mistakes are made and bad judgment is used in who we hire and hang out with. That is not unique to the NBA or professional sports. This happens to everyone. That is life. It happens all the time. It just does not make front page when we screw up. If there is any question at all as to how badly we as the general public screw up, just look at the personal bankruptcy filing statistics.

In order to get a perspective from the inside, I contacted Jordan Woy, a highly respected sports agent and a principal in the sports marketing/management firm of Schlegel Sports. Jordan has represented numerous high profile athletes

Here is what Jordon had to say:

I think there are several reasons why so many athletes “go broke”. First, whether it is a lottery winner, an athlete or a star entertainer, if they are not equipped with the knowledge on how to make and save money they are in trouble. When they didn’t earn it through disciplined business practices and they don’t have those skills they usually go through it quickly. Most lottery winners or athletes make a great deal of money in a short period of time. They start spending it on things that only go down in value (cars, jewelry, partying, entourage, etc) and start to evaporate the money they do have. They can carry this off until they stop earning big money. This is when the trouble starts. It is hard to believe that MC Hammer, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and now Ed McMahon are broke. These are people who earned hundreds of millions over time and it disappeared. Lavish spending and entourages were probably the downfall for the first three for sure.

Most athletes play for four to ten years if they are lucky. After they pay taxes (can be 40 to 50%) and agent fees and buy their first homes, cars, outfits, jewelry (plus, cars, clothes and jewelry for friends and family), they are left with very little. When they first “strike it rich” all of their longtime friends and family expect help. Most athletes feel obligated to help everyone out at first then they wise up. They also want to keep up with their teammates. If someone buys a Bentley, they have to buy one; if someone buys a $75,000 watch, they have to buy one to keep up the appearance. Then, of course, when the career ends and they are still living in a multi million dollar house, driving 3 expensive cars (and insurance), traveling in private planes and taking Limo’s when they go out on the town, reality sets in. The money dries up very quickly.

However, if athletes educate themselves, learn money management skills and make smart, safe investments along the way, they are usually in very good shape. After representing athletes for over 20 years, we call this our “life plan”. We take out clients on working vacations in the off season to places like Las Vegas, Cancun and on a cruise to the Bahamas to learn business networking. We have people from industries such as real estate, oil and gas, financial planning, credit repair, asset protection/estate planning, etc come to educate the players and their wives so they can learn about these business and also determine if they are interested in any of these industries for life after sports. One of the financial planners who comes always says most people die coming down from Mt. Everest not going up. The goal is for these athletes to get to their Mt. Everest AND to get down safely.

So, what do you think? Are the financial mistakes that athletes make any different than your mistakes or mine? They are certainly mistakes made with a higher downside. When we hear these stories are we just unable to comprehend that someone could have that much money and spend it all? Can we learn lessons on how to live our lives from their highly publicized financial gaffes? Do we even care at all?

With all due respect to Latrell Sprewell, we have our own families to feed….

©2008 Brian Cuban

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