Mat Ishbia Is Eating Tens Of Millions Of Dollars In Revenue While Becoming The Hero Pro Sports Needs

The best ability is availability.

How many of you have heard this phrase in relation to the need for athletes to study the playbook and take care of their bodies? 

I’m here to tell you that the benefits of availability don’t just apply to the players on the field or court, but it’s also the most important thing when it comes to the ability to consume what happens on the field or court.

Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia just sacrificed tens of millions of dollars every single year to make sure that his team’s games are available to local fans for free, and it could be the game changer that the entire sports world needs to keep fans from being collateral damage in the war between cable companies and streaming platforms.

To understand why he did this, and why there was a need for him to do this, let’s go back to the beginning. 

As social media and streamers started to take attention away from the live TV experience, it became clear to TV executives and advertising agencies that the future of fixed consumer attention was going to be live sports. 

This kicked off a nuclear war for broadcast rights, which meant that only a handful of billion dollar national corporations would be able to compete for the ability to show you games. It also meant that local TV corporations were squeezed out of the market, as were people that didn’t have the monthly income to be able to budget for ever-increasing cable bills.

The sales of these broadcast rights end up putting a giant pile of guaranteed money into a pool for the teams in each league to split. Owners loved it for the obvious reason that it rapidly increased their personal wealth, as well as their franchise value- but it also provided them with the stability of an expected income and operating budget. 

For the involved and competitive owners, the guaranteed income from broadcast rights gave them ways to innovate and compete- which offset the inconvenience and added expense to the fans.

For the unengaged slumlord weirdos like Donald Sterling, it just meant he got richer while Clippers fans suffered. Which is why the fact Clippers fans exist will never make sense to me, but that’s another rant for another day. 

The bottom line is this- as less and less of the operational budget came from local fans, owners were less and less motivated to appease the local fans. Tickets became less affordable. Players became less relatable. 

We went from four NBA players making $7+ million per year in 1995, to the Houston Rockets paying John Wall $40 million a year just to stay home. Mike Conley is going to surpass $270 million in career earnings this season and has made one all star game. 

And in order to watch John Wall not play, or see Mike Conley put up Jeff Hornacek stat lines for ten times the cost, fans were having to shell out more and more money every single year.

It’s unsustainable, but when you’re profiting from it, there’s no motivation to see things change.

I grew up watching the Lakers on KCal on channel 9. Those were formative experiences for me. Experiences that I know haven’t been available to more and more families who, even if they had the ability to afford cable, are having to make sacrifices to simply pay their increasing grocery bills. 

So that’s where Mat Ishbia comes in- when Disney bought 21st Century Fox, they had to sell off the regional sports networks to avoid the government coming down on them for a monopoly. 

They auctioned the RSN’s to Diamond Sports Group, a Sinclair Broadcasting company. The pandemic hits, and Sinclair starts to panic. They used billions in debt to buy these networks, and they’re bleeding money. The choices are- declare bankruptcy, or pass the cost to consumers via a streaming platform of their own. 

In August of 2022, Diamond Sports Group announced Bally Sports+, which lost $1.2 billion dollars in its first three months of operation. 

In February of this year, right before a $140 million dollar interest payment is due, and with $1.8 billion in rights fees owed for the following year, Diamond Sports Group declares bankruptcy, and starts to skip payments to the professional teams it owes money to. 

Teams like the Phoenix Suns were faced with a tough choice to negotiate lesser payments in their revenue share agreements- and when you’re talking about millions and millions of dollars, it really seemed like the only choice.

But not only did Mat Ishbia say no, he sold the rights to Gray television, a free basic cable broadcasting company in Arizona, and is giving away free television antennas to anyone in Arizona that requests one.

Get this- The switch to local over-the-air stations will triple the reach of Suns and Mercury games to more than 2.8 million households. 


As a college football fan, this is both music to my ears, and the most infuriating thing on the planet. The Pac-12 spent the last decade throttling availability in order to preserve and protect its television rights, and the conference died alone in its home like a hoarder surrounded by old newspapers.

Meanwhile the SEC’s deal with CBS, the channel that most televisions just get left on all day in boomer households, resulted in a three billion dollar rights deal with Disney. Is it because it really just means more in the south?

No! It was availability!

Mat Ishbia might be sacrificing tens of millions per year in the short term, but when you invest in your fans, it comes back to you. Hopefully, for the future of sports, and the longterm benefit of everyone, more rich men in suits follow Ishbia’s lead on this. 

Let that sink in.

The Real Reason Why A 39-Year-Old LeBron James Is Ready To Assemble a Paris Olympics Supreme Team

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers

We need to talk about the rumors that LeBron James is trying to assemble an Olympic super team to take one last ride in Paris next summer.

The USA’s men just took fourth place in the FIBA World Cup, dropping games to Lithuania, Germany, and Canada. 

To quote Donald Trump in a vastly different context- “They’re not sending their best.”

The starting lineup of this summer’s iteration of the Men’s National Team was an average age of 26, and had three combined all-star appearances between them. 

The bench of this roster had four players that weren’t even full time starters for their NBA teams last year. 

But help is on the way, as Shams Charania is reporting that LeBron James seeks to build what some are calling the “Supreme Team,” and put together a squad that would rival in talent and accolades the Olympic teams of 1992 and 1996. 

We’re talking Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Jayson Tatum, Draymond Green. 

Basketball’s own version of The Expendables. 

You even have Devin Booker out here on social media volunteering to join up to be a 3-and-D wing player just to be able to take part in this. 

So this begs the question, why on earth is LeBron James planning to take part in the grueling Olympic slate at age 39, when there have only ever been 31 professional basketball players in the history of the game to even take the court at the highest level after age 40. 

Is this going to be his swan song? Retire in Paris? Absolutely not. I fully expect to see LeBron playing two full seasons beyond the 2024 Olympics, and so do some of his corporate partners. 

Think about it this way- has anyone ever been more aware of the entire concept of “legacy” while still in their playing days? This is an opportunity for LeBron to publicly give back to the game, while bridging the old and the new on the world’s largest stage. 

This crop of FIBA kids? That was an audition. Expect to see maybe 3-4 players from this team, paired with some of the NBA’s current stars in their 20’s like Jayson Tatum, and a handful of twilight legends as well. 

Look at what Tom Brady did in his final two years in the NFL to make himself more accessible and soften his persona on the way into the next phase of his career. Think of this a little like that. 

LeBron isn’t trying to win anyone over that hates him for the stances he’s taken off the court. Some Americans have already shown their willingness to root on the downfall of the competitors representing them based on their personal views- case in point, the US Women’s National Soccer Team

No, this is more like the frilly frosting on the decorative cake that has been one of the greatest and most scrutinized athletic careers in the history of sport.

And it won’t be without pressure or adversity, them boys around the world can play. The fact that there’s a risk of losing involved is what makes this such an intriguing possibility. 

The embarrassment of a loss on the national stage with a dozen future Hall of Famers on the roster is immense. But the reward, both for LeBron James’ legacy, and the future of basketball, can’t be ignored. 

Let that sink in.

Dillon Brooks Is The NBA’s Lamest Villain

Dillon Brooks

We need to talk about Dillon “The Villain” Brooks.

The NBA has always been more fun when there are heels involved. Some heels are specific to just one city. For example, ask any Sacramento Kings fan how they feel about Big Shot Bob.

While some legendary NBA villains are heels toward every single team in the NBA. Sometimes, even their own team.

Just ask Jordan Poole about his teammate, Draymond Green.

There are rules to being an NBA villain. It’s not just about being hate-able. If it was, I might consider my fellow Oregon Duck, Dillon Brooks, a legitimate league outlaw.

But in order to be considered a league-wide heel, you have to be someone who puts butts in the seats for the sole purpose of being your hater. Say what you want about Patrick Beverly, but there are about 5 cities in America where a season ticket holder is making sure they hold on to their Chicago Bulls ticket just so they can shout Russell Westbrook’s now famous “Pat Bev tricked y’all” line at the more-often-than-not despised defensive specialist. 

Nobody is going to a Grizzlies game to see Dillon Brooks

If you want to be a legitimate NBA villain, you need to be good at something. Literally anything. It could be rebounding like Dennis Rodman. Or clutch three point shooting like Reggie Miller. 

What specifically is Dillon Brooks good at?

He can’t shoot. He scores in bunches sometimes, but it’s never efficient. He had the eighth-worst field goal percentage in the entire league this year among qualified players. 

He jacks up the second most threes per game on the Grizzlies, but isn’t in the top 10 on this year’s roster in three point percentage.

I’ve heard people call him a defensive specialist, but statistically he’s not top five on the Grizzlies in either steals, or blocks. And if you believe in advanced stats like Defensive Box Plus/Minus, or Victory Over Replacement, the stats say the Grizzlies are actually better when Brooks isn’t on the court.

So not only is no one paying to see Dillon Brooks, he’s not particularly special at anything.

In fact, you can make almost a million dollars betting the price of a Starbucks latte on Brooks to have a decent game tonight against the Lakers.

Maybe he can justify his villain status through the third criteria- can he hold your attention?

We know he can get attention. Anybody can be ridiculous enough to make you look. Dillon Brooks can do that by coming to the stadium dressed as Stone Cold Steve Austin, or by pushing a camera man down for no reason. Or by popping a second player this season in the groin. But a real villain is someone whose mere presence on the court has you distracted.

Bruce Bowen hardly ever said a word, but when he was with the Spurs, you always had to keep one eye on him at all times. Watching Ron Artest get ready to check in at the scorers table would be enough to make the hair on your arms stand up. 

But Dillon Brooks? He’ll goose you, but he’s not giving anyone goosebumps. The man’s just cringeworthy. He’s like if the Scott’s Tots episode of The Office made an NBA roster.

You might be listening to this and thinking, “what’s up with the Oregon on Oregon hate?”

First of all, I don’t hate Dillon Brooks. That’s actually the point of this rant- that Dillon Brooks isn’t even good at trying to get people to hate him. 

And second, Dillon Brooks was the 2017 Pac-12 Player of the Year. He had one of the greatest flops in basketball history. I wanted big things for Dillon Brooks. 

But he can’t shoot even though he never stops shooting. He doesn’t rebound. He doesn’t pass. He can’t defend. And he keeps aggressively touching men where no man needs to be aggressively touched… at least not during a basketball game. 

None of that is fun of good or even compelling. 

And now, all eyes are on Dillon Brooks because he decided that he wanted to measure his worth against LeBron James. Saying publicly that he doesn’t respect LeBron because LeBron has never dropped 40 on him

Well, Dillon Brooks has never dropped 40 on anyone. And maybe that’s why it seems like he doesn’t respect himself enough to play the game the right way, and instead has decided to cosplay as an NBA villain. 

You’re not the bad guy. You’re just bad.

Let that sink in.

No, Giannis Antetokounmpo Didn’t “Fail” This Season… But Mike Budenholzer Did.

Giannis Pro Sports postponement protests

We need to talk about Mr. Nice Guy, Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Last night, the Milwaukee Bucks became the first 1-seed to lose to a play-in team. 

It wasn’t Giannis’ fault. He was hurt. He still gave it his all. He always does. 

And blaming Giannis isn’t fair, and takes away from the place all the credit should go- to Jimmy Butler for dragging the Miami Heat to the second round without Tyler Herro. 

Sometimes a player elevates and gives you a David vs Goliath moment. Baron Davis did it to Dirk Nowitzki. For my oldheads, Dikembe Mutombo did it to Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp.

It happens. 

But what happens next is on Giannis.

Let me explain. 

Last night, a reporter named Eric Nehm from The Athletic asked Giannis if losing in the first round made this season a failure. Giannis seemed to get upset at the question, and explained that a career is a process- that you can build on a season and learn from it, even if the season is over. 

He then asked Eric Nehm if failing to get a promotion in a calendar year would be considered a failure for him, and asked if the nine years that Michael Jordan finished without a championship were all considered failures. 

I’ve seen literally thousands of people praising Giannis for this perspective, and I’m not going to say that Giannis is wrong. It is an interesting perspective worthy of consideration. 

But I want to make a few points.

First, in sports you compete for championships in a self-contained season. In paper pushing jobs you compete to not get fired. I appreciate the metaphor, but there’s not really anywhere for Eric Nehm to go besides maybe becoming a national columnist. And that could happen five years from now, or 20 years from now. Getting Giannis to react in a viral manner is like a reporter winning a title. You might as well have dropped the confetti on press row the moment Giannis got emotional.

Second, this could be about what failure means to Giannis as a person. Giannis used to sell handbags and sunglasses alongside his brother Thanasis on the streets of Greece to help his undocumented Nigerian parents make ends meet… and now he’s on an NBA team with Thanasis and making almost $50 million dollars a year. When you’ve got a story like that, it’s hard to imagine anything feeling like failure. The Bucks could have gone 0-82 this year, and as long as Giannis knew the sun was going to come up tomorrow, you’d have a hard time convincing him that he “failed.” 

But third, and most importantly, since Giannis brought Michael Jordan’s name into this… there’s a very good chance that Michael Jordan considers all nine of the seasons he didn’t win a championship a failure. 

And while I don’t expect Giannis to start doing things like punching Pat Cannaughton in the face at practice, or calling general manager Jon Horst a fatso, it wouldn’t hurt Giannis’ chances to do the one thing every kid with sneakers and a ball in the 90’s wanted to do-

Be “Like Mike.”

Michael Jordan put an insane amount of pressure on his own shoulders to be the best, and used that to justify putting pressure on the people around him. 

Giannis is a bully on the court. He’s both new school and old school. He’s got shades of Hakeem and David Robinson to his game, but is also uniquely suited to the modern style of play. 

If anyone in the NBA has earned the right to flex their own vision for what the Milwaukee Bucks should be, it’s Giannis. 

And maybe Giannis has a multi-season vision that isn’t contained by arbitrary starting and stopping points- but his front office sure doesn’t. That’s why they shipped five draft picks to Brooklyn for a malcontented Jae Crowder to function as their missing piece, only to have Mike Budenholzer switch up the rotations for the playoffs and stop playing Crowder altogether while Jimmy Butler shot SIXTY percent from the field. 

Maybe it’s OK for Giannis to still be learning lessons from his losses at age 28, but Mike Budenholzer is beyond his “losses are lessons” phase.

When there’s half a second left in a tie game, and you’re facing elimination, and you elect to not use one of your TWO TIMEOUTS?

Mike Budenholzer isn’t just failing, he’s tanking.

I hate to keep saying this, but even if Giannis is right about this year not being a failure, if nothing changes moving forward, what are we supposed to call the Greek Freak’s wasted potential?

Giannis needs to run over Budenholzer like he runs over defenders. 

And if the Bucks can get a coach in place that does what’s right in the right moments, then maybe this year isn’t really a failure after all.

Let that sink in.

Even LeBron James’ Biggest Haters Should Be Rooting For Him In His Battle With Father Time

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers

We need to talk about what LeBron James is doing right now.

Because it won’t be long before we’re only talking about him in the past tense. 

LeBron James had 20 rebounds last night in the Lakers overtime victory over the 2-seed Memphis Grizzlies. In doing so, he became the oldest player in NBA history to have a 20-point, 20-rebound playoff game

Last time that happened, Wilt Chamberlain was on the court and Richard Nixon was president. 

We’re talking about the definition of a generational accomplishment. 

Of course the series isn’t over, but as the 2023 playoffs press on, LeBron is creeping up on Kareem Abdul Jabbar for 5th all-time in playoff rebounds, and once he passes Kareem, he’ll be top five in almost every playoff category in existence. 

He’s currently third all-time in three pointers made. Second in assists. Second in triple-doubles. First, by far, in steals. First in total wins. And he’s so far out in front in total points scored that the record may never be broken.

And at 38 years old, in his 20th NBA season, he’s averaging 24, 13 and 5. What are we supposed to even compare that to?

Only nine other players in NBA history ever made it to season 20. Only five of those ever played in the playoffs at or after age 38. The only player on that list that wasn’t in serious decline by 38-years old was Kareem, but even so, the Lakers had resorted to having Magic Johnson and Maurice Lucas crash the glass so that Kareem could focus his energy on the offensive end. 

I don’t care if you don’t like LeBron James. If you don’t like him now, for whatever reason, I’m not going to be the one to convince you after two decades that you’re wrong. 

But if you can’t appreciate what he’s doing right now, you *are* wrong. 

Even if you love LeBron, maybe you’ve come to take for granted the idea that he’s always just going to be around. He’s not! Don’t take it for granted. Everything ends. 

LeBron James is stealing time right now. He’s defying the laws of nature. The same laws that had the great Kobe Bryant playing in his last playoff series at 33. The same laws that saw Charles Barkley and Larry Bird win a combined 3 playoff series after age 31. 

Even Michael Jordan, after three years off, felt the effects of father time by age 38. He had 8 double doubles in 53 starts in his first year with the Wizards. 

LeBron started 54 regular season games at age 38, had 18 double doubles, and is averaging a double double in the playoffs. 

Do you mean to tell me that you hate LeBron James so much that you’ve resorted to rooting for the undefeated villain of all villains- father time, while he stands alone as the only basketball great to still be here after two decades, whooping father time’s ass?

Couldn’t be me. Has never been me. Will never be me. 

The window to enjoy something we’ve never seen, and may never see again, is rapidly closing. But it’s not closed yet. So enjoy the breeze while you still can. 

Let that sink in. 

The NBA Playoffs and Regular Season Are A Completely Different Sport- Can Your Team Handle That?

Giannis Pro Sports postponement protests

We need to talk about the brand new sports season that just tipped off this week.

I’m talking about the NBA Playoffs. 

Now you might be thinking to yourself, George, the NBA Playoffs aren’t a new sports season. Basketball has been going on since October. 

Not this kind of basketball. 

Now more than ever, the NBA’s regular season, and the NBA Playoffs are two completely different sports. 

Do you think Tyler Herro is diving for loose balls in the regular season? Hell no. And now he’s not diving for anything because he broke his damn hand.

Do you think Anthony Davis is putting his glass bones and spaghetti ligaments in harm’s way to take a charge from Ja Morant in the regular season? Absolutely not. And as a Lakers fan I’d appreciate it if he didn’t do that again. 

Ja Morant is lucky to only have a soft tissue bruise.

Do you think that Devin Booker and and Kawhi Leonard are rolling around on the floor trying to pick each other’s pockets in the third quarter of a game in November?

The playoffs are a different beast, but because of that, you have teams struggling to adjust to the differences in lineups, effort, physicality, and especially the way the games are officiated. 

I hate to always be the one bagging on James Harden, but he scored eight points in game 2 of the Sixers first round matchup with the Nets. EIGHT. And the reason is because he isn’t able to depend on the ticky tack fouls he draws in the regular season. 

Get this- James Harden has gone three consecutive playoff games without even attempting a free throw. James Harden is tied for twelfth IN THE HISTORY OF THE NBA in free throws attempted per game, and he hasn’t shot a free throw in his last three playoff games.

And it’s not just James Harden that is affected by the officiating changes. In the 2021-2022 regular season, Giannis Antetokounmpo was called for 48 offensive fouls in 67 games. In last years playoffs he was called for 21 in just 12 games. That’s more than double his regular season per game average!

The teams that win in the playoffs are the ones that aren’t having to shift their style to fit a completely different game. It’s the reason Kobe found success after Shaq. It’s the reason the San Antonio Spurs had over a decade of sustained success. It’s the reason Dwyane Wade’s physicality in the regular season resulted in three championships and five appearances. And it’s the reason that no matter how much of a headache he can be, the Warriors have never moved on from Draymond Green. 

The only way you’re winning an NBA championship in 2023 is if you have the versatility to be a two-sport star. Regular season basketball and playoff basketball. 

Let that sink in.

Mavs Tanking and Scrubs Stat Padding- Easter Was a Disaster for the NBA

We went into Easter with several playoff seedings still up for grabs, and what should have been one of the most exciting days of the NBA season turned into a slop-fest of tanking, scrubs having career games, and literal physical infighting. 

Bones Hyland tried to fight Mason Plumlee.

Rudy Gobert tried to fight Kyle Anderson. 

And Jaden McDaniels lost a fight to a wall

Not exactly great vibes for the Clippers and the Timberwolves heading into the Western Conference playoffs.

Let’s get into some of these hilarious stat lines from game 82:

• Six point-per-game scorer Payton Pritchard having a 30-point triple-double

• 20-9-9 for Mac McClung, who struggled to even stay on a roster this year

• 46 for Cam Thomas, and yes I know he’s been going off since the Nets shipped Kyrie out, but FORTY SIX?

• 24 for Udonis Haslem, who broke Kareem’s 30+ year old record for oldest player to score 20

• 21 and 19 for Dominick Barlow. Who is Dominick Barlow?

• A triple-double for Theo Pinson, whose career averages are 2-1-1.

• 42 and 14 for Kenneth Lofton Jr, whose previous career high was 11.

• You had a Triple-double for Tre Mann, who has never had double figured in anything except points.

But none of those stats were as disgusting as the Dallas Mavericks being down to the Spurs  42-14 after one quarter, just two days after the order came down from on high for Jason Kidd to bench Luka and Kyrie and tank for a lottery pick when the team still had a shot at the Western Conference play-in. 

I don’t necessarily think the Mavs did the wrong thing by quitting. They were 10-18 after the Kyrie trade and clearly don’t have the defensive skill to compete. But I also don’t think quitters deserve a lottery pick, and the Mavs are putting all their eggs in the basket of their draft pick being in the top 10 so they don’t lose it to the Knicks

They aren’t guaranteed to get Kyrie back, and he skipped his exit interview with the team ahead of free agency. This draft pick is a Hail Mary at improving the team enough to keep Luka Doncic from forcing his way out.

But let’s talk about Luka, who has been marketed as the heir apparent to LeBron James when the King finally cedes his throne.

I know it wasn’t Luka’s choice to give up, but the Mavericks are only in a position to give up because two top-10 talents, Luka and Kyrie, weren’t enough to be mediocre, much less good.

If I’m Luka, and I care about my legacy and positioning as the man who will carry the NBA- why waste any time? If the Mavericks don’t luck into a top 3 pick, just force your way out now. You know next year’s Mavs are going to be fighting for a play-in spot all over again.

Especially when next year, all the NBA’s best players are going to put more emphasis on the regular season so they meet the 65-game minumum threshold to qualify for postseason awards. The unserious teams that floated around .500 this year are going to be next year’s trampolines- getting jumped allnover by everyone that’s actually any good.

And maybe that 65-game threshold is exaclty what’s needed to make sure that days like Aprile 9th, 2023 never happen again. When guys that typically struggle to get 40 minutes played in one month are getting 40 minutes in one game.

Let that sink in

No, Michael Jordan Selling the Hornets Not A Strike Against His Legacy

Jordan hornets

We need to talk about how selling his majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets affects Michael Jordan’s legacy. 

Long story short, it doesn’t affect a damn thing.

If you don’t have time for this, I get it. I’m taking time out of my day for both of us to add cement to a legacy that’s already made of a hundred million tons of stone.

But last week, Colin Cowherd responded to the news that Michael Jordan is offloading his majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets to Gamestop short-squeeze victim Gabe Plotkin and Atlanta Hawks minority owner Rick Schnall.

And you might want to buckle up for this scorching hot take. 

Cowherd said that Michael Jordan’s mythology as the most unassailably great basketball player of all time crumbles without Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson, because he failed as a baseball player, failed with the Washington Wizards, and has now failed to turn the Charlotte Hornets into a winning franchise before cashing out. 


First of all, the “if a thing didn’t happen, it never would have happened” argument is both always true and never true. Of course if things were different they would be different. But they’re not. 

Second, on what planet does Michael Jordan having a relatively respectable run as a double-A right fielder at 31-years old after 13 years away from the game constitute a mark against his legacy of greatness on the basketball court? Baseball is an insanely hard sport. There were six other players on the 1994 Birmingham Barons that hit under .240 on the season, and half of them were major leaguers at some point. 

Third, no the Wizards didn’t win a championship with Michael Jordan as a 37-year old first year general manager. But do you know what they did do when a 38-year old Michael Jordan that had been retired for three years stepped onto the court and replaced hall of fame shooting guard Mitch Richmond? 

The Wizards almost doubled their win total. That’s a wild accomplishment that doesn’t get talked about enough. And it’s only a failure if your only measurement for success is perfection. 

Last, the idea that someone could quintuple a quarter of a billion dollar investment in less than 15 years is insane. The only thing more insane would be to call that return on investment a failure.

The Charlotte Hornets not being a good basketball team has nothing to do with Michael Jordan, and everything to do with the fact that the Hornets have been stuck in mid-lottery hell while being a medium market team. 

The only way to get good in the NBA is to either exist in a major market as a major free agent or trade destination, or hit the lottery jackpot with a can’t miss player. The third way- the rarest of all the ways, is to be a mid-market team that takes a risk on a guy from overseas and has it pay off, like Denver with Nikola Jokic or Milwaukee with Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Charlotte has had one pick inside the top 9 in the last nine years. And that was LaMelo Ball. Are we really calling Michael Jordan a failure because he earned a cool billion dollars while spending the majority of the last decade on the wrong end of lottery ball bounces?

My kids are athletes, and I always make sure to tell them that as Teddy Roosevelt said, as the man or woman in the arena, “It is not the critic who counts.”

And as Rudyard Kipling wrote, If you can be lied about, without dealing in lies, or be hated, without giving way to hating…  yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.”

When we attempt to define success and failure in multiple arenas in which we’ve never possessed the talent nor opportunity to even begin to compete, especially when what we call failures aren’t failures at all- that’s what creates what Teddy Roosevelt called a “cold and timid soul”

Let that sink in.

Like It Or Not, Bronny James Is A First Round NBA Talent

Bronny James

We need to talk about Bronny James. 

I tried to tell you. I’ve had a front row seat to the evolution of LeBron James’ oldest son as a basketball prospect. And when I say front row seat I mean literally. Our kids were classmates.

He’s good. And while I don’t always agree with what a recruiting service deems an elite prospect, 247, Rivals, On3- they’re all in the right for having Bronny shoot up the rankings. 

You might be saying to yourself- “George, you played in the NFL, what do you know about hoops?”

Listen, before there was football George, there was basketball George.

I know what a good player looks like. I played with and against plenty of them. 

You might want to believe that Bronny is just getting the juice because his dad is LeBron, and his name drives clicks, but this kid is a 6-2, naturally gifted shooter with an enormous, effortless vertical. Are those not the exact things people love about Ja Morant?

Bronny has always played against the toughest competition available, has always had a target on his back, and still manages to shake off pressure and let the game come to him. 

In the McDonald’s All-American game, if someone wanted to make their name shutting down “the prince,” that would have been the time to do it. But instead, Bronny went 5/8 from deep, and hit a clutch corner three with a minute left that gave the West a late lead.

Bronny can play point. He can play off the ball. He can drive. He can slash. He can spot up. Like it or not, Bronny is completely worthy of the grade he’s getting.

I’m not saying he’ll be a lottery pick. He still needs to prove himself at the college level, hopefully at Oregon, and there’s always an international name or two that bumps talented college players down a spot or two come NBA Draft time, but you’d have to be a hater to deny that Bronny James is an NBA talent.

They say don’t hate the player, hate the game, but if you hate Bronny James as a prospect, you must hate the game. 

And if you like Bronny, wait until you see Bryce

LeBron might be 38, but King James’ Monarchy is in good hands. 

Let that sink in.

Ja Morant’s Redemption is What the Culture Needs

Ja Morant NBA

We need to talk about Ja Morant and the importance of the moment he’s in.

Ja Morant is a lot of things. 

He’s an underdog. Despite the state of South Carolina crawling with scouts due to Zion Williamson being one of the top players in the country out of high school, Ja Morant went from unevaluated and unranked by recruiting services, to the NCAA tournament and the second pick in the NBA draft in a matter of two and a half years.  

For people that don’t understand how basketball recruiting and evaluating works at the youth level, there is almost no such thing as a player coming out of nowhere. Aaron Rodgers and Josh Allen stories aren’t a thing in the NBA. 

Ja Morant is a unicorn. 

No one has ever averaged 20 points and 10 assists at the college level. Ja did it. 

And it’s one thing to come into the league as an elite passer and scorer. It’s another thing entirely to come in with a 44-inch vertical and without an ounce of fear in your heart.

He deserved Rookie of the Year. He deserves his All-Star nods. He deserves his signature Nike. And whether he deserves it or not, he is the most culturally impactful athlete for black youth in this country since Allen Iverson. 

The hair. The swag. The flash. The pride. Ja Morant isn’t just an athlete, he a movement. 

And that’s why we need this man to figure his shit out. Because for some reason, every single generation thinks they can conquer the fast life like it’s an unathletic seven footer under the basket. 

But the fast life is undefeated. And every generation has to sacrifice some of its young heroes to their vices for the rest of us to learn the lessons that keep us around for another 60 years. 

Ja Morant doesn’t need to be one of those sacrifices. Kids today don’t need another cultural cautionary tale. They’ve had plenty. They need a redemption story. 

They need someone to put the tequila away when they’d rather do the opposite.

They need someone to put the guns away when they’d rather do the opposite.

They need someone to swallow their pride and know their own value in moments of conflict instead of always having to prove it to people who don’t matter. 

Anyone that escapes the clutches of the fast life in their 20’s does so out of good fortune. I’m fortunate, and I know a lot of other very fortunate people. 

It’s a wild switch to go from aspiring to live like a king, to admiring the people with the means to live like a king, who choose a different path. 

Ask any retired athlete and most will tell you that once they’ve fulfilled all their desires, one of the only desires they have left is do it all over again and replace indulgence with wisdom.

Ja Morant might be special, but he’s not so special that he won’t have to pay the piper. And God forbid that payment comes at the expense of yourself AND others, like it did for Henry Ruggs. 

They say that every hero lives long enough to see themselves become the villain, and maybe that’s true, but the villain story doesn’t have to be Ja Morant’s last chapter. The redemption chapter is what I’m here for. 

I just hope that’s what Ja Morant is here for as well. 

Let that sink in.