LeBron James Breaks NBA Tradition To Set The Stage For Vic Wembanyama

The NBA is notorious for being a two things-

First, it’s a big, dysfunctional family. 

Second, nothing about the NBA is as consistent as one generation hating on the next. It’s almost a right of passage. 

That tradition of being a hater is what made LeBron James’ comments about the up-and-coming #1 overall pick, 7-foot-4 Giannis and Luka hybrid Vic Wembanyama, so refreshing. 

LeBron James said Wembanyama was well beyond unicorn status, calling him an “alien,” and saying that he’d never seen somebody combine that much height with fluidity and grace, and finished by calling Wemby a “generational talent.”

Now, that term “generational talent” gets thrown around a lot, but LeBron should know better than anyone what it actually means. It’s a player, whether at a certain position, or that can play multiple positions, that only comes around once every 20-25 years. 

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a generational talent at center. It can be argued that we didn’t see another center change the game like Kareem did until 23 years later when Shaquille O’Neal was drafted. 

Magic Johnson redefined what an NBA point guard could be when he came into the league in 1979, and Steph Curry found a way to completely change the entire way basketball is played as a point guard when he came into the league 30 years later.

Michael Jordan was thought to be beyond generational, with players in his mold springing up all over the country, and even some like Kobe Bryant achieving similar heights of greatness, but 19 years after Michael Jordan was drafted, a young man from Akron, Ohio came into the league with the makeup it would take to forge his own legacy as a generational great, worthy of NBA Mount Rushmore status. 

And in the years since LeBron James has been in the league, there has been a lot of discussion as to the next player we’d see that would not only redefine basketball on this court, but also the way we talk about basketball. Europe has given us several contenders- the last four MVP’s have gone to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic, with Luka Doncic’s scoring ability simultaneously taking the league by storm. 

There were whispers that Zion Williamson, a Charles Barkley-Shawn Kemp hybrid, could be the one. And enough people believe that the real post-LeBron generational talent has been amongst us all along, moving from city to city, getting into five Twitter battles between every 35-point offensive outburst. And maybe it is Kevin Durant, that’s another debate for another time.

For LeBron James to bestow that crown on Vic Wembanyama a full year before he ever sets foot on an NBA court means something. That’s more than hype. That’s real recognizing real. 

But let’s zero in on another thing LeBron James said that illustrates his place in basketball as not only a generational talent, but a generational person.

As I said before, a common thread in NBA circles is the elevation of the era you played in, and cherry-picking examples from that era to explain how the up-and-coming generation might not have experienced the same success they did. 

When asked how all this hype surrounding Vic Wembanyama reminded LeBron of his own time as “The Chosen One,” as he was dubbed by Sports Illustrated at 17-years old, LeBron James reflected on how much more difficult and chaotic things are today than they were in 2003.

LeBron’s exact words were “Thank God I didn’t have social media. I can’t imagine how my life would have been different or what would have transpired… I’m happy I didn’t have social media, and I’m happy I was from a small town like Akron, Ohio.”

LeBron James knows better than anyone what these young stars are facing because he’s the only NBA player in the GOAT debate that lived as much time outside of the Social Media and Embrace Debate era as he has lived inside it. He knows that Vic Wembanyama doesn’t have that luxury, and that hundreds of thousands of people, including me, are already talking about whether he’ll live up to the hype, a full year before he even has the chance to start the multi-decade process of proving himself. 

LeBron is the first superstar to be able to pay proper respect to the up and coming generation, while also expressing gratitude for not having to carry the same burdens at the same age. Maybe it’s because he has sons that are already experiencing this, or maybe he’s just uniquely empathetic and appreciative of his era. 

Whatever it is, if LeBron James is willing to break NBA tradition to give a young “alien” a King’s blessing, Vic Wembanyama must be really special.

NBA Draft: League Needs To Stop Reporters From Tipping Picks

NBA Draft 2021

There are two instances in the NBA where I become irrationally angry and channel my inner “old man yells at cloud.” The first occurs when the home team doesn’t wear white uniforms. The second occurs on draft night when reporters tip picks before they’re announced on stage.

I love the NBA Draft. Seeing teams potentially draft their next superstar is great television. The first few picks are usually predictable, but the first “oh shit” moment at pick 4 or 5 can make my jaw drop. Despite reading countless mock drafts in preparation for tonight, the suspense and “what if” questions keep me on the edge of my seat.

However, the NBA Draft has a massive problem with tipping picks on the Internet before they’re announced on television.

Woj, I’m sorry brother, but this is my least favorite day of the year to follow you. I just finished lunch earlier today and Woj decided to tweet out the first three picks of the draft.

People will say “But Dan, we already knew Cade, Green, and Mobley were going 1-2-3.” I agree with you, but to tweet it out seven hours before the telecast ruins the draft experience.

Once the draft starts, Woj and Shams will be tweeting out picks as soon as they receive them from their sources. Sometimes, these two reporters will be two, sometimes even three picks ahead of the telecast. It drives me insane. How can people support this practice?

I’m fully aware that Woj and Shams are only doing their jobs. If they receive information, they report it. That’s what good reporters do. Now part of the reason why these two race to tweet out picks is to see the other one looking silly when they’re late to the news. The rivalry between Woj and Shams becomes personal on draft night. At times, it’s entertaining to watch, but my draft viewing experience worsens because of the rivalry.

The NFL Draft is the best in sports partly because of its league mandate to discourage tipping picks. Reporters from ESPN and the NFL Network agree to not tip picks during the NFL Draft. The result is a television product that’s filled with more excitement and drama than most procedurals.

The NBA tried to follow suit with a mandate for ESPN reporters to refrain from tipping picks. However, once Shams, Marc Stein, and other reporters started to spoil the draft, Woj turned to his thesaurus and rattled off adverbs on adverbs on adverbs.

In Woj’s defense, it’s not fair that other reporters can tip picks while he’s forced to sit on these scoops. This problem stems from the fact that ESPN is the only network that holds the right to broadcast the draft. Many basketball reporters work for outlets like Yahoo, Stadium, or the NY Times, where there is no mandate to withhold spoiling picks on Twitter.

For the crowd telling me to just stay off Twitter, it’s gonna be a no from me, dog. I love NBA Twitter on draft night. I love reacting to the big moments of the night especially from my team, the New York Knicks. I’m a social media manager and blogger so, therefore, I’m not logging off for the night. I have unfollowed and blocked Woj and Shams during the draft, but if they tweet out a pick, someone on NBA Twitter will tweet about it and I’ll inevitably see it.

I’m not naive. Reporters aren’t going to have a meeting and decide to not tip picks during the draft. A mandate has to come directly from Adam Silver. One way to solve this problem is to give other media outlets the right to broadcast at the draft. If the league is worried about the ratings going down with more broadcasts, think again. The draft ratings continue to decline. People don’t have to watch the draft if it’s spoiled on Twitter. Allowing more outlets to do their own broadcast at the draft means a league mandate could prevent reporters from spoiling picks, which means the draft becomes appointment television again.

Obviously, giving rights to other outlets is not cut and dry since money will always be an issue. But the league has to get more creative to stop reporters from tipping picks.

Make The Draft Great Again. Print the hats.

P.S. Feel free to tip all of the trades. That I will allow.

New York Knicks: Solid Draft Night Leads To Unpredictable Offseason

Obi Toppin of Dayton / New York Knicks

As a fan of the New York Knicks, there are a few things that I’ve grown accustomed to when it comes to this organization. First and foremost, the Knicks will always make the wrong move, and it will surprise no one. Hiring Isaiah Thomas, trading for Eddy Curry, hiring Derek Fisher, drafting Jordan Hill, and empowering Phil Jackson only represent a small percentage of a laundry list of poor offseason moves in the last 20 years.

Since the 21st century, the Knicks are Murphy’s Law. Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. Besides a brief stint from 2010-2013 that included Melo, Amare, and Linsanity, it’s been a dark time as a Knicks fan, which is why what I’m about to say is foreign territory for most of us.

The Knicks had a solid draft night.

In other words, they didn’t mess up, which is the next best thing.

With the 8th pick, the Knicks selected Obi Toppin, the National Player of the Year out of Dayton. Toppin had a stellar season for the Flyers, averaging 20 PPG and 7.5 RPG. Toppin is a 6’9″, 220 pound highlight reel with a great motor and spectacular ability to finish at the rim.

The Knicks are desperate for a playmaker at guard, which is why many believed the team would select Tyrese Haliburton with the 8th pick. I would’ve picked either guy, but it appears Tom Thibodeau and Leon Rose wanted Toppin all the way.

I understand fans who wanted a guard, but I’m at a loss for words with the Toppin slander. His defense and footwork must improve or he will become a liability on the defensive side. However, Toppin is a high-character, hardworking player that went from a 6’1″ high school prospect to a 6’9″ lottery pick. Work ethic will not be a problem. I’m tired of seeing players shy away from the bright lights of MSG. Toppin is a New York native who WANTS to be a Knick. You can’t put a price on that passion. This kid is going to shine as soon as he steps foot into the building.

After the Toppin selection, the Knicks then made a few head-scratching decisions. They traded up to pick 23 but then traded back to get pick 25 and pick 33. At 25, the Knicks selected Immanuel Quickley. The sharpshooter won SEC Player of the Year and will look to light it up behind the arc. However, the Knicks need a distributor, and Quickley only averaged 1.9 APG last season. Quickley does support the theory that the Knicks are becoming the “Kentucky Pipeline.”

I would’ve loved to take a chance on RJ Hampton at pick 23 and I’m disappointed it didn’t happen. I can defend the Quickley pick, but I’m speechless with the Daniel Oturu trade. I thought Oturu, a walking double-double in college, was a good value pick, which is why trading him for a 2023 second round pick makes no sense.

Overall, the Knicks drafted two guys that should play right away. Now, the attention turns to free agency. Cue up the theme song from Jaws because Leon Rose is set to make a move.

First, he cleaned house. Rose created $40 million in cap space by waiving and declining a number of guys like Wayne Ellington and Bobby Portis.

Rose was not done.

The Knicks have roughly $35 million in cap space. “Leon, the Launderer” is accumulating ammo for his next move. How big will it be? It appears he has his eyes on a few targets.

If I’m being honest, I’m not crazy about trading for Westbrook. The 40m+ cap hit over the next 3 years is unappetizing. I wouldn’t overpay for Hayward, who’s been a shell of himself since the major injury. I’m not convinced Fred VanVleet can be “the guy.” I like Malik Beasley and would try to make that trade work.

Despite all of my doubts, am I really in a place where I can be picky? Have you watched the Knicks since 2013? Maybe it’s time to say, “Fuck it,” throw it all on red, and let it ride.

Trading for Westbrook and signing Hayward to a long deal may be foolish, but what is the alternative? Every Knicks fan is quick to say what the team shouldn’t do but slow to offer a viable solution. They won’t accumulate picks like Sam Presti. They don’t draft well like Bob Myers. Masai Ujiri is not walking through the door.

I’m tired of watching the Knicks tank and strike out in the offseason. Is a starting lineup of Russ, RJ, Hayward, Obi, and Mitch a bad thing? That could be a potential playoff team. I’d kill to watch basketball that matters. Maybe I’m delusional. Maybe I’m just tired of the same old shit. Perhaps I should embrace the idea of taking chances on expensive players.

There’s no right answer, but for the first time since 2016, the Knicks have my full and undivided attention.

What should the Knicks do in the offseason? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

Darius Bazley and Rich Paul Just Changed the Path to the NBA Draft From HS

Rich Paul Darius Bazley Klutch Sports

On June 20, 2019, NBA fans tuned in to witness the next wave of NBA stars be drafted into the NBA. Most notable was Zion Williamson who was drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans as the number one overall pick. Williamson was the most anticipated NBA draft pick since LeBron James in 2003. NBA fans are excited to see what Williamson will bring to the game. Also, that night another player who has already proved to be a game changer was drafted. That player is Darius Bazley. Darius Bazely was drafted in the first round at number 23 by the Oklahoma City Thunder (OKC) thanks to a plan orchestrated by Rich Paul.

Darius Bazley Emerged as a Game Changer well Before the NBA Draft

Bazely earned his status as a game changer way before the 2019 NBA Draft took place. He was a highly sought after high school recruit. ESPN ranked Bazley as the 13th best high school player in the class of 2018. Bazely was slated to play for Syracuse University. To the surprise of many, at the end of his senior year in high school, Bazley announced that he was going to forego college to the NBA G-League. Soon after, Bazley hired Rich Paul of Klutch Sports (LeBron’s childhood friend and agent) to be his agent. Bazley again changed his mind and decided not to enter the G-League. He instead opted to spend a year training for the NBA Draft on his own.

In addition to training for the NBA Draft, Bazley landed an internship with New Balance. With the help of Rich Paul, Bazley brokered a fairly lucrative internship deal. The internship included a shoe deal where Bazley would receive $1 million dollars regardless of how his NBA career turns outs. He can receive another $14 million from the internship if he reaches all of the performance incentives. 

Darius did not Need the NCAA to get to the NBA

Bazley took the road less traveled. He charted his own path to the NBA and made money and gained valuable real world work experience while he did it. He is not the first player to opt of out of college. There have been several players who decided to play professionally overseas before entering the NBA Draft. However, Bazley did it entirely different. He did not play organized basketball anywhere for an entire year. He only worked out on his own and took a sort of vocational education path with the New Balance internship. Many questioned if Bazely would be drafted at all or if he would be drafted at a lower seed.

Bazley was drafted with the 23rd pick in the first round. One could argue that Bazley hurt himself in the NBA Draft by not playing in college. Had he had a great year in college, he may have been drafted in the top ten of the first round. However, if he did that he would not have gained the real-world experience he did as an intern. He certainly would not have been allowed to make $1 million while doing it. What if Bazley had suffered an injury in college? An injury would have negatively affected his draft potential. Arguments can be made for and against Bazely’s unique path to the NBA. One thing is for sure, Bazley and Rich Paul have changed the game.

They have given future players and agents another path to the NBA to consider. Work out on your own while getting real world work experience. That work experience could even turn be leverged into endorsement deal once in the NBA.

Is Bazley Ready for the NBA Since he did not Participate in Organized Basketball for a Year?

Many questioned whether Bazley is ready for the NBA since he has not played organized basketball in a year. Some argue that Bazley was not a good pick for the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, that remains to be seen. It is likely that Bazely will have some adjustments to make during his transition into the NBA. However, that is true for all players not matter where they were previously. If a player goes to the NBA from college, from a professional league overseas, or from private training the player is still going to have to adjust to the NBA. It is very likely that Darius Bazley will turn out to be a good pick for OKC. After all, he managed to be picked in the first round even though he did not play organized basketball for an entire year. He was drafted in front of a lot of players who did.

Darius Bazley and Rich Paul Have Charted a New Path, but will Others Follow Suit?

It is no doubt that Bazley and Paul have charted a new path. The question is will future highly sought after high school recruits take a similar path? It is possible that other players will follow Bazley’s path, especially if Bazley’s NBA career takes off. Future athletes are also likely to take this path if the NCAA continues to make and enforce rules that prohibit college athletes from reaping the financial rewards that coaches and other sports administration officials enjoy. Bazley’s path to the NBA is definitely a game changer for future generations to pay close attention to. 

Follow Kassandra Ramsey on Twitter @Court_2_Court

HTH: Le’Veon Bell Robbed Naked, Jake Mangum, NBA Draft Underclassmen

Leveon Bell gets robbed by naked women, Jake Magnum Mississippi St Baseball, NBA Draft

Three recent robberies have made the news recently, and we must address them. Le’Veon Bell got robbed. Mississippi State player Jake Mangum pointed out the fact that NCAA baseball coaches and players are being robbed. College Basketball underclassmen are being robbed of their draft and educational opportunities by declaring for the NBA draft too early.

#1 Le’Veon Bell had a Sleepover with His Robbers

Le’Veon Bell just got heisted for $520k in jewelry. But thieves in the night? Nope. By two women, his “girlfriends” as he referred to them. The best part about this is when police asked for a description of what the suspects were wearing, he told the police he didn’t know because he left them naked in his bed. Come on man. Now I’m not here to judge his threesome or whatever. But he needs to have some common sense. You can’t just leave strangers in your house with all of your stuff. This is a major blow considering he didn’t get paid last year.

#2 The NCAA is Robbing College Baseball Players and 3rd Assistant Coaches

https://twitter.com/courtkrobb/status/1141927023008473090

Jake Mangum of Mississippi State recently brought up yet another NCAA grievance. Baseball has a third assistant coach that is unpaid. They get a university email, phone number, and role, but no pay. This is absurd. At least shell out a stipend for room and board. For an organization that makes millions upon millions, they are slow to pay those that bring value. It’s the same for athletes. Of 35 players on each team, only 11.7 scholarships are dispersed. Just like congress continued to drag their feet over paying the heroes of 911 (thank you Jon Stewart for bringing awareness and accountability), the NCAA always avoids paying their players.

#3 Underclassmen in the NBA Draft are Being Robbed

Who is advising these underclassmen to leave early and enter the NBA Draft? Now, I’m not talking about the lottery picks. I’m talking about good, not great players. There are so many of these players that are likely to go undrafted and end up in the G League or overseas. They need to stay another year or two, gain experience and perfect their skills. Teams have more money invested in higher draft picks and give them a longer leash to live up to expectations. But, if these athletes don’t get drafted, they should be allowed to go back to college and play. The NCAA and a new NBA CBA need to allow this. Don’t make them lose out on chances for education, maturity, and careers. Give them another shot. It’s too easy for broke college students to bite on the prospect of an NBA contract.