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Love, Heat And Basketball

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Love, Heat And Basketball


A new NBA Season is upon us.  New hopes and new players driving the Dallas  Mavericks to what is hopefully another trip into the NBA finals scene.  Could we  once again head to the Miami SouthBeach  NBA Finals scene to battle the big three of the  “New-Heat,  who at least early on appear to be more like New Coke?.

To being my training for possibly heading to the the Finals freak-show known as Southbeach, I decided I needed to begin early and put on my training wheels.  While certainly not the level or intensity of the Miami scene, the social scene in Dallas, “singles season’’ never ends. In preparation for multiple nights of after-game bars, clubs, see and be seen sports mackdaddies and douchebaggery, I recently roamed the streets of Dallas after the Mav’s home game, checking out various nightspots while contemplating what will hopefully be a great Mavs season. I wandered about, contemplating how we would make the playoffs, play deep in, and hopefully challenge again for that elusive Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy.

At the same time, I was stunned by a similarity between singles scene as the NBA:

Life imitates art. Basketball imitates life. Especially in social interactions.

I saw all kinds (as I often do), not all of them enviable kinds. There were the 30K Millionaires, the Cougars, the GoldDiggers and the MackDaddy D-bags, and I saw all kinds of similarities between the social interactions I witnessed out on the singles scene and the great game of hoops.

Let’s lace up those high-tops for a walk onto the hardwood court of Dallas (and note that I believe it’s largely the same for any big-city nightlife where a basketball season is played out). 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 3-point line.diagram

To watch this game – and to maybe be more than a baseline season-ticket-holder — 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.

Well, almost

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:diagram4

“Palming”: The act of adjusting oneself 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 a.m.

“Full Court Press’’: Within 15 minutes of meeting a girl in a bar you have given her your phone number, certified financial statement, recent HIV test and two round-trip tickets to Vegas for the next day. You’ve even sent 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, say, picks his nose. This is a two-shot foul. You retain possession. 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’ve just arrived, you have not even valeted the car yet and your buddy is coming out of the nightclub, hot girl on his arm.

“Traveling”: You live in Dallas. She lives in Fort Worth. This is a change-of-possession foul – but only 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, your listing on the Forbes 400 and your Gulfstream while your three roommates look on. This is also known as a “30K Millionaire Violation.” It is a turnover – she turns herself over to the next guy in the bar who 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 because your buddy uses it against you. 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, thus violating the dress-to-impress code.

“Alley-Oop”: Your buddy generously 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!diagram3

“Blocking Foul”: Just as the hottest girl in the club is handing you her phone number … this is gonna be good. … your buddy approaches and and is nice enough to report that he found your wedding ring on the floor.

“Offensive Foul”: You had Italian for dinner. You’re about to kiss your girl goodnight — on the cheek, because you’re a gentleman — when you burp just a little. Is that a piece of spaghetti that’s landed on her cheek? Another turnover. To anybody. As long as it’s not you.

“Technical Foul”: She told you she was 21 when you bought her a drink. This is an ejection. A one-game suspension. And a timeout. … maybe to be spent in a 4×6 with bars.

“Offensive Rebound”: It is not your fault your buddy can’t close.

“Tip Off”: You spy something on her neck. It is suspicious. It appears that the attractive woman you are looking at has an Adam’s Apple.’’

“Two-Minute Warning”: It’s last call. You struck out. Your designated driver has left and you have no cab fare. Time for more “traveling.’’ Because you’re walking home.

There’s the rules of the game. And unlike the NBA regular season, which must come to again, in the nightlife scene, every weekend brings a playoff round!

©2010 Brian Cuban

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Why Derrick Coleman Went Broke

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Why Derrick Coleman Went Broke


“DC” is broke. Despite earnings tens of millions of dollars during his playing career the former NBA No 1 draft pick is just another name in a long list of current and former high profile athletes who can not seem to create the same magic with their finances that they did during their playing careers.  Coleman’s “end-game’ list of assets in his bankruptcy petition consisted of  a Seadoo watercraft, his NBA pension, 1957 Buick convertible, worth $20,000; a 1970 Chevrolet Nova, worth $5,000; and a 1997 Bentley convertible, valued at $50,000 and some fur coats.

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? While Derrick’s financial demise has been attributed in part to public interest investments gone sour, is that all there is to it?  It seems like an all to familiar story-line.

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.  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 here

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 for Chapter 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.

5.  Antoine Walker Despite earning a reported $110 million over the course of his 13-year NBA career, former player Antoine Walker is apparently broke. According to the Boston Globe the 33-year-old 6th overall draft pick of 1996 was in trouble, accused of  writing bad checks to different casinos, totaling $1 million. The Globe is also reported that Walker owed more than $4 million to his creditors.

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 figure that 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 figure. 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…

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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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Anatomy Of A Celebrity Beatdown

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Anatomy Of A Celebrity Beatdown


allen-iverson-home1

What is a “Celebrity Beatdown“?  It is the act of a celebrity’s security or  “posse-entourage” inflicting a violent pecking order of life lesson on those who refuse to acknowledge unworthiness to be  blessed with the presence of  self-anointed greatness.  A refusal to acknowledge that laws of man and universe have changed when a high profile athlete or other celebrity walks into the room.  Refusal to acknowledge a new world order.   These beatdowns almost always occur in the alcohol fueled volatility of the strip and nightclub scene.

In fairness to high profile athletes and other celebrities, they often fall victim to the “reverse beatdown.”  They walk into an environment wanting nothing more than to enjoy their drink and company in peace. They fall victim to the the 30k millionaire douchebag with an attitude looking to “makes his bones” and pay his college tuition by provoking an altercation.  It is also not unheard of for members of a celebrity entourage to actually pay someone to start something and allow them “beat them down” so they can look like heroes to the celeb.

The undisputed king of the athlete- celebrity beatdown would have to be former NFL player Pacman Jones. It would appear to be an accident if there not a posse altercation of some kind when  he walks into a club, most often of the “strip” kind.  In the music world, Kanye West seams to be well versed in the art of  beatdown as evidenced by his recent arrest arising out of an altercation at LAX airport.  The NBA is no stranger to the “celebrity beatdown”.

Allen Iverson plays professional basketball for the Detroit Pistons.  As many celebrities do, he often hires bodyguards to accompany him when he attends public events.  On  July 20 2005 Alan was attending his annual charity softball weekend event in Washington D.C.  He went out that night security in tow.  Iverson’s manager Gary Moore was in charge of hiring Iverson’s bodyguards.  He employed  Jason Kane to provide Alan security for this particular event and post event festivities.

After attending the charity event Iverson and his entourage entered the Eyebar nightclub shortly after midnight.  Jason Kane was his bodyguard.  They went straight to the small VIP area of the club, where patron Marlin Godfrey and his party were already seated at a table.eyebar5_11

An argument broke out between Godfrey and Terrance Williams.  Mr Williams was Kane’s friend.  He sometimes worked as Iverson’s bodyguard. He just happened to be in the club that night.  Witnesses testified that  that Kane and Williams began to assert their superior “posse status” by  aggressively ordering patrons, including Godfrey and his party, to leave the VIP area to make room for Iverson and his friends.

Soon after Curtis Fitzgerald – an Eyebar security employee and friend of Kane’s and Godfrey’s – intervened to defuse the situation and move Godfrey’s party to a different table, Kane shoved Fitzgerald and the beatdown began. When Godfrey, moved toward the altercation to “help Fitzgerald, he was attacked,beaten and injured.

A lawsuit was filed  by Godfrey and one other patron David A. Kittrell, accusing Iverson, of failing to supervise his security team.

Iverson testified that he was at Eyebar for about 20 minutes and did not see the five-minute fight erupt.

The trial lasted six days. A federal jury found Iverson and bodyguard Jason Kane liable ordering them to pay 260k as well as 10k in medical expenses to Godfrey who sustained a injured rotator cuff, temporary loss of hearing and broken blood vessels in his head. Kittrell was zeroed out by the jury.

When interviewed after the trial, Juror Althea Hill said the panel believed that Iverson was liable for the fight because he hired Kane. “When you hire someone to do work for you, you should check out all aspects and know everything there is to know about your employee,” she said.

Iverson appealed the verdict. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit just recently upheld the verdict.

Here is some of the actual trial documents in the trial for your viewing pleasure. They are all in pdf format. Some files are large.  You can form your own opinions on what happened.

1.  The Verdict

2.  Witness James Daniels Deposition

3.   Witness Saul Simmington Deposition

4.   Transcript of  Terrance Williams trial testimony

5.   Jury Notes-Two questions to judge give you some perspective on what they were thinking during deliberation.

6.    Court Of Appeals decision affirming the lower court verdict.

Allen  has another “beatdown lawsuit” pending in D.C. for an incident that took place at “Zanzibar On The Waterfront“.  Gregory Broady is alleging the he received his beatdown from an unidentified member of  Iverson’s security team. He is seeking 750k.

There are  lessons to be learned from the beatdown scenario and for celebrities utilizing private security.  While the verdict in the Eyebar case did not make any new law, it drives home the fact that high profile athletes and celebrities should be extra careful in how these types of incidents are handled and instructions given to security.  If Allen had specific instructions and security procedures in place would this have happened?  If it did, Kane may very well have found himself outside the scope of his employment paying the entire verdict himself.  In all jurisdictions there is going to be some type of duty to supervise your bodyguards and other security employees when you venture out into the night.  This duty may even be heightened when the celeb walks into a nightclub environment ripe for an altercation.  Leave your security and posse to their own beatdown instincts at your peril.    For 260 grand Alan is probably wishing he got a few punches in himself.


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