WOW: Get Woke Go Broke Con, Steve Nash Not White Privilege, Rutgers Sucks, NBA MVPs

Kyrie Irving Kevin Durant Brooklyn Nets NBA
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Get Woke Go Broke Lie, Steve Nash

Am I Wrighster or Am I Wrong? These topics and more are covered on the podcast and video. The Phrase “Get Woke Go Broke” is a Con Job… Its Catchy but there is no truth to it in sports. Sports hosts use it to try and make it seem as if leagues are losing money. They are not! Steve Nash is the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets. There’s no White or Black Privilege in that decision.

Rutgers University Sucks

Rutgers University is doing something so gross it sounds unbelievable. Fining college players $50-125 for missing tutoring. These are unpaid athletes.

NBA MVPs but not Championship Contenders

NBA MVP system is broken when MVPs aren’t real title contenders. Giannis Antetokounmpo is about to be a 2-time MVP but won’t make the Finals.

  • The phrase “Get Woke Go Broke” is a Con Job… It’s Catchy but there is no truth to it in sports.
  • Steve Nash is the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets. Stop the White or Black Privilege talk.
  • Rutgers University is doing something so gross it sounds unbelievable. They are fining college athletes.
  • THE NBA MVP system is clearly broken because the most recent MVPs aren’t real title contenders.
  • Parting Shot: Winter is coming

Wrighster or Wrong?

Am I Wrighster or Am I Wrong? The intersection where sports, business, society, and pop culture meet. Daily Fire… FACTS ONLY… Check Your feelings at the door. This ain’t the place for the left, right, snowflakes, social justice warriors. ABSOLUTELY No BS. I keep it 100.

The George Wrighster podcast features great interviews where you get to know great people discussing faith, family, fatherhood, food, and sports. We get to know and learn from the personalities that entertain us outside of what they are famous for. Shoot me an email with comments or guest ideas: GWpodcast@unafraidshow.com. Please be sure to share the podcast with a friend, subscribe, and leave a 5* rating.

Who is George Wrighster?

George Wrighster is a former Pac-12 and veteran NFL tight end. As a television/radio host, opinionist, writer, speaker, and analyst, he is UNAFRAID to speak the truth. Contrary to industry norms he uses, facts, stats, and common sense to win an argument. He has also found success in the business world as an entrepreneur and investor. George is a lifelong learner who loves having conversations that educate and uplift. He has also covered college football, basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB since 2014.

WOW: NFL endzones, Big Ten vs Trump, Scott Foster, Big XII ACC no Plan, Kirk Cousins

NFL Endzones Colorado Buffaloes Black Lives Matter
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NFL End Zones Leave Social Justice Haters Nowhere to Hide

Am I Wrighster or Am I Wrong? The NFL is painting “End Racism” and “It Takes All of Us” in the end zones of all its. Now, every major professional sports league is in on social justice. What will the keep politics out of sports crowd going to watch? Sports…Duh. Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins had some interesting things to say about the coronavirus, but the headlines left out the fact he’s wearing a mask.

Big Ten Conference May Play Fall Football

In an obvious political move, Donald Trump contacted the Big Ten in an attempt to get them to play football immediately. It is reported he offered increased availability of testing and contact tracing access. The Big XII and ACC conferences have no contingency plan for Covid-19. What have they been doing for the last few months?

NBA Ref Scott Foster vs Harden and CP3

Referee Scott Foster as the lead ref for Game 7 between James Harden’s Houston Rockets and Chris Pauls’s Oklahoma City Thunder is a gift from the NBA. They both hate him.

  • NFL is painting End Racism in the end zones. What is the keep politics out of sports crowd going to watch? Sports…Duh
  • Donald Trump and Clay Travis’ attempt to bully the Big Ten doesn’t appear to work.
  • Scott Foster reffing Game 7 between Harden and CP3 is a gift
  • Big XII and ACC have no plan for Covid-19. What have they been doing?
  • Parting Shot: Kirk Cousins “If he dies, he dies”

Wrighster or Wrong?

Am I Wrighster or Am I Wrong? The intersection where sports, business, society, and pop culture meet. Daily Fire… FACTS ONLY… Check Your feelings at the door. This ain’t the place for the left, right, snowflakes, social justice warriors. ABSOLUTELY No BS. I keep it 100.

The George Wrighster podcast features great interviews where you get to know great people discussing faith, family, fatherhood, food, and sports. We get to know and learn from the personalities that entertain us outside of what they are famous for. Shoot me an email with comments or guest ideas: GWpodcast@unafraidshow.com. Please be sure to share the podcast with a friend, subscribe, and leave a 5* rating.

Who is George Wrighster?

George Wrighster is a former Pac-12 and veteran NFL tight end. As a television/radio host, opinionist, writer, speaker, and analyst, he is UNAFRAID to speak the truth. Contrary to industry norms he uses, facts, stats, and common sense to win an argument. He has also found success in the business world as an entrepreneur and investor. George is a lifelong learner who loves having conversations that educate and uplift. He has also covered college football, basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB since 2014.

WOW: Sports Protests, Are Pro Athletes Scared, Big Ten, Max Kellerman, Vote Red/Blue

Kawhi Leonard Luka Doncic nba bubble
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NBA Protests into MLB, MLS, NHL, and WNBA

Am I Wrighster or am I wrong? NBA protests have flowed into the MLB, MLS, NHL, and WNBA. They are all protesting racial injustice. I love it, but canceling the season would have been the wrong move. College football and the NFL are up next. Are millionaire Pro Athletes like LeBron James, Chris Paul, and others really afraid of the police? Why do they fear for their children when many of them are in private schools and live behind gates.

Big Ten Conference May Play Fall Football

The Big Ten conference is discussing potentially starting the football season after Thanksgiving. It is the right move. Let the SEC, Big XII, and ACC be the crash test dummies to see if football can be played during coronavirus.

Max Kellerman roasts SEC fans

Max Kellerman was right about SEC voters being susceptible to very low-quality information. The facts show that seven of the ten least educated states are in SEC country.

Wrighster or Wrong?

Am I Wrighster or Am I Wrong? The intersection where sports, business, society, and pop culture meet. Daily Fire… FACTS ONLY… Check Your feelings at the door. This ain’t the place for the left, right, snowflakes, social justice warriors. ABSOLUTELY No BS. I keep it 100.

The George Wrighster podcast features great interviews where you get to know great people discussing faith, family, fatherhood, food, and sports. We get to know and learn from the personalities that entertain us outside of what they are famous for. Shoot me an email with comments or guest ideas: GWpodcast@unafraidshow.com. Please be sure to share the podcast with a friend, subscribe, and leave a 5* rating.

Who is George Wrighster?

George Wrighster is a former Pac-12 and veteran NFL tight end. As a television/radio host, opinionist, writer, speaker, and analyst, he is UNAFRAID to speak the truth. Contrary to industry norms he uses, facts, stats, and common sense to win an argument. He has also found success in the business world as an entrepreneur and investor. George is a lifelong learner who loves having conversations that educate and uplift. He has also covered college football, basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB since 2014.

Sports Law Issues Don’t Stop During Coronavirus Shutdown

Coronavirus sports lawsuit LeBron James Jimmy Butler Lamar Jackson

The effects of the Coronavirus is being felt in every industry. The sports industry is no different, but that has not stopped lawsuits involving LeBon James, Jimmy Butler, and Lamar Jackson. Roughly two weeks ago the NBA suspended their season after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for the Coronavirus. Soon after, his teammate Donavan Mitchell tested positive. Both players have recently been cleared of the Coronavirus. However, the continued reality of the threat of the Coronavirus led the MBL, NHL, and MLS to suspend their seasons as well. The NCAA was forced to cancel all spring sports and the March Madness tournament. Most recently, Japan and the International Olympic Committee agreed to postpone the 2020 Summer Games to 2021.

Accordingly, sports fans are relying on the rebroadcasts of classic games for entertainment. Even though the entertainment portion of the sports has come to an unexpected halt, the business of sports keeps turning. This is especially true in the realm of sports law. In the last week, three lawsuits involving some of sports favorite athletes came to light. Two cases involve two of the NBA’s most notable players, LeBron James and Jimmy Butler. The third case involves the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player of the Year, Lamar Jackson.

Hold on King James…That Photo Does not Belong to You

During LeBron James’ 17-year career, he has been the focal point of some pretty iconic NBA photos. There are photos of James blocking Andre Iguodala’s shot in game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. There is the iconic photo of Dwayne Wade and King James on the Miami Heat when James lays down a monster slam dunk. Before the NBA season was abruptly halted by the Coronavirus, King James was caught in yet another timeless photo. On December 19, 2019 photographer, Steven Mitchell was working the Lakers versus Heat game. Mitchell caught an awesome moment of King James dunking over Meyers Leonard.

Soon after the game, the photo was cropped and posted to James’s Facebook account. The post, which is still up has received over one thousand likes, has been shared 92 times, and has 61 comments. The picture was also posted on James’ Instagram Account. There it received over 2 million likes. To many, this may not seem like a big deal. What could be wrong with James posting a picture of himself? The answer is that it could be a copyright law violation. Accordingly, the photographer, Steven Mitchell, sued LeBron James alleging that posting the photo onto James’ social media platforms infringed on his copyright law protections.

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Does James’ Post Violate Mitchell’s Rights in the Photo Under Copyright Law?

Copyright is an intellectual property right grounded in the United States Constitution. Authors are granted copyright protection for their original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright protection applies to photos. As such, Mitchell sued LeBron James, Uninterrupted Digital Ventures, and LRMR Ventures for copyright infringement. Mithcell alleges that James and the other defendants infringed on his copyright in the photo when it was cropped and posted on James’s Facebook and Instagram pages without Mitchell’s consent. The complaint asserts that Uninterrupted Digital Ventures and LRMR Ventures operate James’ Facebook page. Mitchell requests a jury trial to determine whether the federal Copyright Act was violated. He also seeks damages up to $150,000 per infringement.

Independent Sports and Entertainment Says Jimmy Butler Needs to Pay Up

Independent Sports and Entertainment (ISE) is telling Miami Heat star, Jimmy Butler, to “show them the money.” ISE has sued Jimmy Butler for breaching a Public Relations Agreement (PR Agreement) he entered into with them in July of 2013. ISE is an integrated sport, media, entertainment, and management company that represents talent throughout the entertainment industry. ISE assists professional athletes’ with their off the field and off the court activities. In the complaint, ISE alleges that Jimmy Butler breached their PR Agreement by failing to give them their share of profits from two deals Butler made with Nike.

Per the PR Agreement, Butler is required to pay ISE a 15% gross compensation fee in exchange for ISE’s services assisting with his personal marketing and public relations. ISE alleges that while Butler was under the PR Agreement, he entered into a contract with Nike where he earned $616,666,67. ISE has not received its 15 percent commission in the amount of $92,250. Butler later entered into an addendum on the contract. On the addendum, Butler received at least 5 million dollars. ISE has not received its 15% commission in the amount of $750,000 on the addendum.

In the complaint, ISE stipulates that the non-breaching party must provide notice of the breach to the breaching party and allow the breaching party 30 days to cure the breach. ISE alleges that they provided written notice to Butler and made attempts to collect the amounts due. Furthermore, ISE alleges that they were put in contact with Butler’s financial advisor Ken Kavanaugh who acknowledged that Butler owed the 15% fee and that payment would follow. The payment never came leading ISE to file this suit. Per the complaint, ISE is seeking damages for the amounts owed on the Nike contract and addendum.

Lamar Jackson Tells Amazon to Stop Selling his Unauthorized Merchandise 

Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback, Lamar Jackson, filed suit against Amazon.com and Amazon.com Services, Inc. (hereafter collectively referred to as Amazon) in a federal district court for infringing on his right to publicity. In the complaint, Jackson alleges that Amazon has directly advertised and sold items bearing Jackson’s name, nicknames, and images without being authorized to do so by him or the NFL. The alleged infringing items include items such as a “LAMARVELOUS Vintage Baltimore Football QB Jackson MVP T-Shirt.” In the complaint, Jackson acknowledges that Amazon had received negative publicity for facilitating the sale of items that infringe on others’ intellectual property rights by third parties in the Amazon Marketplace. However, Jackson contends that the sale of his items is different in that the sale of his items are not in the Amazon marketplace.

Jackson contends that the infringing items at issue are directly falsely promoted and advertised by Amazon as they are designated as “ships from and sold by Amazon.com.” Jackson claims to have requested that Amazon remove and stop selling the items in question. However, Amazon has failed to so. As such, Jackson seeks a permanent injunction requiring Amazon to stop the sale of the items in question. Jackson alleges that the unauthorized sale of items bearing his name, image, and likeness on Amazon has negatively affected his own clothing line business. Accordingly, Jackson also seeks damages and disgorgement of Amazon’s profits.

The NCAA’s New Agent Rule is About Maintaining​ Control

NCAA Rich Paul Agent Rule

The NCAA sent the sports world into a frenzy when they announced their new certification process for sports agents who wish to represent college basketball players. The new rule comes as a part of the recommendations made by the Commission on College Basketball (Commission) last April. After the 2017 college hoops scandal led to an FBI investigation and criminal trial, the NCAA created the Commission to help resolve the problems in college basketball. One of the Commission’s recommendations was that the NCAA allow some college basketball players to enlist the guidance of agents. Accordingly, the NCAA released the process for an agent to become NCAA-certified.

To become an NCAA-certified agent, one must have a bachelors degree, be NBPA certified for at least three consecutive years and in good standing, maintain liability insurance, and submit an application by the appropriate deadline. The requirement that agents have a bachelors degree did not sit well with many in the sports industry. The bachelor degree requirement received instant criticism. LeBron James was at the forefront of the criticism as he viewed the rule as a snub at the success of his friend and agent, Rich Paul. He even dubbed the rule the “Rich Paul Rule.”

Why Would LeBron James Think That the Rule is a Snub at Rich Paul?

Rich Paul is a close friend of LeBron James who later became his agent. Paul does not have a bachelors degree but has been ultra-successful as a basketball agent. He learned the agent business through practical real-world experience. Paul then became an NBPA certified agent and created Klutch Sports. In addition to LeBron James, Paul represents Anthony Davis, Ben Simmons, and a host of other top NBA talent. Given Paul’s client roster it is clear that he has totally disrupted the basketball agent industry. He has become an NBA agent powerhouse. Not only has Paul and Klutch Sports disrupted NBA basketball, but he also ruffled some feathers in college basketball.

Darius Bazley was a top high school basketball prospect who was committed to playing at Syracuse. Bazley ultimately changed his mind and opted not to attend Syracuse and to forego his college eligibility. Instead, Bazely worked out on his own to prepare for the NBA draft. With the help of Rich Paul, Bazley landed an internship with New Balance. Paul helped Bazley garner an internship deal where Bazely received a shoe deal and a guaranteed $1 million.

Once Bazley decided not to attend college many wondered if he would be drafted into the NBA. In June that question was answered when Bazely was drafted in the first round at number 23 by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Paul and Bazley raised a lot of eyebrows with their unconventional newly charted path to the NBA. Given the disruption that Rich Paul has caused in both professional and college basketball, it is very clear why King James thinks the NCAA’s new agent rule is targeting Rich Paul.

Is it Simply Targeting Rich Paul or is the NCAA Seeking to Prevent a Broader Phenomenon?

Changes in College Athletics

Sports fans will never know for sure if the NCAA created the agent certification guidelines with Rich Paul in mind. However, what is known is that change is afoot in college athletics and in professional basketball. One thing that is for sure is that the NCAA and others at the top of the sports industry are threatened by innovators and disruptors like Rich Paul. They have much to gain by ensuring there is a system in place to make it more difficult for future Rich Pauls.

In college athletics, the NCAA’s model is being attacked on all fronts. The NCAA is defending the farce of amateurism in court. Recently, the NCAA was forced to create a working group to address the various federal and state-level bills. The bills seek to allow college athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness. With the many challenges to the current college sports landscape, the NCAA is willing to do whatever it takes to retain control. Requiring a bachelors degree is one way that the NCAA seeks to accomplish that goal.

Having a College Degree Does not Automatically Equal Quality Representation

Yes, it is true that requiring agents to have a bachelor’s degree is a move to safeguard the players. However, simply having a degree does not automatically make a person qualified to negotiate a sports contract. Nor does it automatically mean that the person will not take advantage of the athlete. Furthermore, classroom education does not beat out real-world experience. Hence, the reason entry-level and recent graduate job postings still ask for one to two years of experience. One thing the bachelor’s degree requirement does is make sure others like Rich Paul have another hurdle to cross.

Lack of a college degree does not automatically equal sub-par representation. The clearest example of that is Rich Paul. Furthermore, the degree requirement could automatically preclude those closest to the athletes and with the athletes’ best interest at heart from representing them. Is that in the athletes’ best interest in all cases? The NCAA should have an option where a certain amount of experience takes the place of the degree requirement just as the NBPA does.

Certainly Benefits Those Already at the Top of the Agent Industry

Paul’s willingness to help athletes go after their goals in their own way has made him attractive to other players. This phenomenon has lead to some disruptions in professional basketball player representation. The most telling example of this is Anthony Davis and his attempt to force his way to the Lakers this past season. Other agents are threatened by Rich Paul. Creating a rule that requires a bachelors degree is a way to make sure disruptors like Rich Paul have a harder time getting started in the business.

The bachelor’s degree requirement puts Rich Paul and similarly situated agents behind because it precludes them from building relationships with college basketball players. While requiring a bachelors degree can help safeguard college basketball players, it is not foolproof. For that reason, it is likely that the rule may have been more about the NCAA and other top sports industry leaders retaining their power than protecting the athletes.

Ranking the NBA Superstar Duos for the 2019-20 NBA Season

NBA Superstar Duos 2019-20 season

The NBA Superteam Era is dead. Kawhi Leonard made sure of this when he dismantled the Golden State Warriors and rejected Lebron James’ attempts to lure him to the Los Angeles Lakers. The landscape has shifted to “Super Duos,” with players now desiring to team up with friends or individuals who complement their skills and can share superstar duties. Here’s a look at the NBA’s best “Superstar Duos” heading into the 2019-20 NBA Season:

Tier 3 – The “Up and Comers” NBA Player Duos

12. Devin Booker / Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns)

In their first season together, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton led the Phoenix Suns to 19 wins. The Los Angeles Lakers went 31-19 when Kobe joined Shaq in the starting lineup during the 1998-99 lockout-shortened season. Though Booker and Ayton aren’t quite “Shaq and Kobe 2.0” status, both are extremely talented individuals who should create a formidable inside-outside combination for years to come. With a full year under their belt and improvement at the head coaching position, the 2019-20 NBA Season should bring improved chemistry and many more wins.

11. Luka Doncic / Kristaps Porzingis (Dallas Mavericks)

Dallas Mavericks NBA Superstar Duos
Luka Doncic
Credit: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis haven’t played a single game together but are already expected to form the best pick and pop tandem in the league. Porzingis has spent the entirety of his Dallas Mavericks’ career admiring the 2018-19 Rookie of the Year, but the “Unicorn” will need to make an immediate impression if the Mavericks hope to make an impact in the Western Conference. This duo’s success depends on how well Porzingis recovers from a torn ACL that will have sidelined him for close to 20 months once the 2019 NBA Season begins. Charles Barkley expects this pair to turn into the greatest “one-two punch… for the next 10 years.”

Tier 2 – The “Star” NBA Duos

10. Giannis Antetokounmpo / Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks)

Despite being selected to the 2019 Eastern Conference All-Star team, many still aren’t sold on Khris Middleton as a max player. This pair’s position is propped by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s supernova athletic ability. But Middleton’s capability as a three-point shooter (career 39%) carries great value when paired with Antetokounmpo’s slashing playmaking. Middleton contributes in a number of ways and is the perfect teammate for Antetokounmpo’s needs.

9. Donovan Mitchell / Mike Conley Jr. (Utah Jazz)

Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley Jr. are no “Stockton and Malone,” but the two have the opportunity to create their own legacy as the next great Utah Jazz duo. Conley’s experience with the “Grit and Grind” Memphis Grizzlies will be vital in helping Donovan Mitchell take the next leap in a competitive Western Conference.

8. Damian Lillard / CJ McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers)

The 2019-20 NBA Season may be the last time we see this version of the Portland Trail Blazers. Though they reached the Western Conference Finals, the Golden State Warriors made quick work of the Blazers in 4 games. Damian Lillard recently signed a 4 year / $191 Million supermax extension and CJ McCollum is entering the penultimate season of his rookie extension. If this duo is unable to take another step in a much more open NBA landscape, 2019-20 may be the last season they share duties in the Blazers backcourt.

7. Nikola Jokic / Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets)

Nikola Jokic is a perennial MVP candidate and Jamal Murray has shown consistent improvement throughout his first three years in the league. Denver Nuggets’ Coach Mike Malone has described this twosome’s chemistry as “almost romantic” in describing the ways this pairing plays off each other in their uniquely styled offense. The top pairing under-25, this dynamic duo has the potential to keep the Denver Nuggets atop the Western Conference for years to come.

6. Joel Embiid / Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers)

This is the rare combination in which the big man has the better outside game that his perimeter counterpart. In order for this duo to take the next step into the tier below, Ben Simmons will need to make a significant improvement to (or at least develop) his jump shot to help create spacing for Joel Embiid down low. The 76ers are primed to be the best team in the Eastern Conference for years to come, but such success hinges on how Embiid and Simmons are able to harmonize on the hardwood.

Tier 1 – The “Elite” NBA Superstar Duos

5. James Harden / Russell Westbrook (Houston Rockets)

News of this trade sent social media in a whirlwind, with many asking the same question: is one ball enough? A lot has changed since James Harden and Russell Westbrook played together in Oklahoma City; Harden has blossomed from a mini-bearded Sixth Man of The Year, while Westbrook has grown accustomed to leading-man duties. But you don’t pass up on pairing two MVPs in their prime. While this fit may be questionable, the sheer talent of this NBA superstar duo alone is worth the gamble.

4. Kevin Durant / Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets)

Kevin Durant Kyrie Irving NBA Superstar Duos

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving had been plotting to team up since 2018. Unfortunately, they may have to wait to see their dream come to fruition while Kevin Durant rehabs from a torn Achilles suffered in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Durant and Irving have reached the pinnacle of success while playing roles in other legendary duos. With the Brooklyn Nets now the forefront of New York basketball, this duo will have the chance to cement their place in basketball lore by bringing an NBA Championship to the Big Apple.

3. Steph Curry / Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)

The 2019-20 NBA Season will be a gap year for the “Splash Brothers.” With Klay Thompson recovering from a torn ACL that should sideline him for the majority of the season, Steph Curry will be left to man the ship with his temporary replacement, D’Angelo Russell. Despite Thompson’s injury, this duo’s success should place them above every other combination on this list; however, the moves that took place this offseason have this Warriors’ combo embracing their newfound underdog role.

2. Lebron James / Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers)

1. Kawhi Leonard / Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers)

NBA Best players Lakers and Clipper
Credit: Clutchpoints Podcast

The Los Angeles “Superstar Duos” is the result of blockbuster moves each team made this offseason. The Lakers paired two top-five players by acquiring Anthony Davis to team up with Lebron James. But the Clippers’ one-upped their in-town rival by signing two-time NBA finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who has staked his claim as the best player in the league. And with his recruitment of Paul George, Leonard paired himself with an elite superstar who has no problem taking control of both ends of the floor. All roads now run through the Staples Center and the battle for Los Angeles is to sure to result in many “epic” matchups between these two for years to come.

Follow Alan Wilmot on Twitter and Instagram @alanwilmotlaw

Let’s Face The Facts: NBA Superstars Are Underpaid

NBA Superstars Underpaid with the salary cap

Though the above is a live look of the New Orleans Pelicans ticket staffers learning their team won the 2019 NBA Draft lottery and right to draft Zion Williamson, it’s safe to say the Brooklyn Nets sales team experienced this same joy at the start of NBA Free Agency. The signing of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signifies a coming of age story for the Nets and the end of an era for their crosstown rival. Once heralded as the “Mecca” of basketball, the aura that surrounded Madison Square Garden is gone. New York Knicks’ owner James Dolan was reportedly hesitant to sign Kevin Durant to a maximum deal. But if your team’s president has to release a statement responding to angry fans, that’s clearly not the correct business decision.

NBA Star Market Value

NBA Superstars Drive Revenue

People pay to see stars, and teams know it. Immediately after signing the two-all stars, an all-out race for Nets season tickets ensued. Currently, the cheapest ticket available is $4,000 a seat, which is quite an expense for a team that won a total of 48 games prior to the 2018-2019 NBA Season.

NBA stars do more than put fans in the seats; they serve as an economic catalyst for all other aspects of their team’s city. When Lebron James announced his “Decision” in 2010, not only did he take his talents to South Beach, but also $48 million in annual revenue. When James re-signed with Cleveland in 2014, Professor Leroy Brooks estimated his return added nearly $500 million to the local economy. The Cavaliers suffered another negative swing when Lebron moved west to the Los Angeles Lakers.

NBA teams lack profitability and marketability without a star player. Fans routinely discuss how players aren’t worth a certain contract. When Kobe Bryant became the league’s highest-paid player in 2014, he did so to show players should not feel forced to take less than their worth and stated:

“Athletes are the ones that are in the public eye the most. And so their salaries are constantly talked about, so it’s very easy to look at the athlete and say, ‘You should be doing more and you should be taking less,’ when the reality is that your market value is so much higher than what people understand.

” ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, but you still should be taking less to win. Why do we have to do that? Because the owners locked us out and imposed a hard cap where we ‘have to’ take less in order for them to generate more revenue. Right? But meanwhile, they go and sign a TV deal that’s a billion dollars up from the last one, but that doesn’t get talked about. Nobody complains about that.”

Credit: CBS Sports

Maximum Value Under The NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement

Credit: Larry Coon / CBA FAQ

Maximum salaries are the product of the 1998-1999 NBA lockout initiated by owners who feared player salaries were getting out of control. After the Minnesota Timberwolves gave 21-year old Kevin Garnett an extension worth six years, $126 million, billionaire owners decided they couldn’t “have the inmates running the prison.”

Now, maximum salaries are dependent on the player’s years of services. In a truly open market, superstar players such as Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Stephy Curry, Joel Embiid, and Anthony Davis would be worth at least $75 Million. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook, and Nikola Jokic would easily pull in contracts worth $50 million to $60 million per year. Hell, Zion Williamson is on the verge of signing a $100 million shoe deal; it makes no sense that his perceived NBA value is $45 million over four years.

Despite the league’s continued growth, it’s unlikely that the cap will rise to a level that will allow players to receive their true worth. While it may be hard to quantify the value a superstar brings, one method would be to allow teams the ability to sign a player outside of cap space. Instead of retiring jerseys, if owners truly want to show their appreciation, this is the route they should take. Then, the future Lebrons, Durants, and Antetokounmpos would be able to live in the world Kobe hoped to create for his fellow stars.

Follow Alan Wilmot on Twitter and Instagram @alanwilmotlaw

NBA Free Agency Contracts Show How Broken the Current NBA CBA is

NBA Free Agency Kawhi Leonard Kevin Durant Khris Middleton

NBA Free Agency is finally upon us. Everyone, myself included, desperately wanted to know where all the top players would land. Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, D’Angelo Russell, and Kemba Walker are getting new massive contracts. And they’re all getting $140+ million. They’ll be able to buy nearly whatever they want and have generational wealth. However, NBA players (much like NFL players) are still getting swindled out of big-time contracts. I get that it’s tough to feel empathy for millionaires. But listen to this. In 2020, the new salary cap is only 109 million dollars, with a 132 million dollar tax line. And the NBA collective bargaining agreement severely limits elite pay. It doesn’t make sense that some of these talents are earning similar contracts as good, not great, players. Take this in. Kawhi Leonard, two-time NBA Finals MVP, will make the same amount as… wait for it…

Khris Middleton. 

Are you kidding me? Most sports fans have to Google Khris Middleton to even know what team he plays for. And that’s the crux of the NBA CBA. Max-contracts and the salary cap deflate contract values of world-class players. Khris Middleton, Tobias Harris, and Jimmy Butler will all make the same as Klay Thompson next season $32.7 million. It’s baffling.

Yes, the CBA is good for the fringe, bench, and solid starter players. But it truly hurts the best of the best. This is America. For goodness sake, we are bred in capitalism here. It’s why Shark Tank is such an incredible show. People want to know that the best can earn the most. Talent and hard work equate to financial success. But, speaking of Shark Tank, owners like Mark Cuban are still, somehow, avoiding paying players what they are worth.

Max Salaries Prevent Superstars Never Receive Their True Value in NBA Free Agency

For comparison, take Mike Trout. If he doesn’t even earn another contract, his career salary is 521 million dollars. Obviously, the best baseball player, possibly of all time, earned that contract. But, it’s much different in the NBA and NFL. Look at Tom Brady (the GOAT quarterback with 6 rings) and LeBron James (Top-Five NBA player of all time). Their career salaries combine for 614 million dollars. Trout is earning 85-percent of what Brady and James combine for. Which is absolutely ridiculous considering the revenue the NFL generates

But that’s how it is. It’s why top players in the NBA hold out for contracts and why an NBA lockout is looming. Because players like Khris Middleton, Tobias Harris, Jimmy Butler, Gordon Hayward, Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, and Kawhi Leonard should not get the same pay. Some of these things are not like the other. Thompson and Leonard set themselves apart season after season with elite play, both offensively and defensively. They’ve come through in the clutch and showed that they are difference makers. Great players drive ticket sales, team merchandise, and ratings. For those reasons, they deserve to get theirs.

With how much money owners make and elite players don’t, it’s certainly a broken system. When the next CBA is up, get ready for an NBA lockout. 

Mike Trout Contract Proves NBA, NFL Owners are Getting Over on Players

Mike Trout contract LeBron james NBA NFL highest paid

Mike Trout’s 12-year $430 million deal with the Los Angeles Angeles proves NFL and NBA owners have been getting over on their players with the salary cap and max contracts, unlike the MLB. The games’ greatest players like LeBron James and Tom Brady are rarely the highest paid.

LeBron is one of the greatest players in NBA history. He is a 14-time all NBA selection, four-time MVP, and three-time Finals MVP. He has only been the highest paid player once. LeBron has only been amongst the top five highest-paid four times. How much would teams had been willing to pay LeBron had there been no wage scale in the NBA? Maybe $50-60 million per season?

Tom Brady is considered by most to be the greatest NFL quarterback of all time. He is a six-time champion, four-time Super Bowl MVP, and he holds numerous passing records. But, is he ever the NFL highest paid player? No.

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Money Left on the Table For NBA, NFL Highest Paid

LeBron, Brady and other greats are well paid, but don’t get to collect their fair market value because of wage restrictions. MLB players have a truly open market, and players are paid what the market will bear. LeBron and Brady combined have been paid or are owed a total of $614 million in on-field salary. Mike Trout himself will now be at at least $521 million.

The owners created the salary cap, and max salaries to control costs. The leagues are kicking down 100s of millions per year to each franchise. There is no shortage of dollars, but fans believe there is. Teams regularly ask players to take a discount to help build a championship roster. Fans should hold owners responsible for getting the finances right instead of the players. Let the billionaires figure it out. 16 years ago, Arte Moreno bought *the entire Angels franchise* for $182.5 million. They are now worth $1.8 billion. 

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The Greatest Buzzer Beaters In NBA Playoffs History

NBA greatest game winners and buzzer beaters in NBA history

It’s hard to find anything in basketball more thrilling and exciting than a buzzer beater. Just like a walk-off in baseball, buzzer beaters are the ultimate “go home” moment. Buzzer beaters can add to a player’s legacy and their reputation as a clutch performer. After Damian’s Lillard miraculous game-winner against the Thunder, I decided to take a trip down memory lane and list the greatest buzzer-beaters in NBA Playoffs history. Just a couple weeks later, Kawhi Leonard hit the first buzzer-beater in a Game 7. Some of the greatest players like Michael Jordan and LeBron James have hit game winners.

Big Shot Rob Beats The Kings- Robert Horry

There’s a reason why Robert Horry is known as “Big Shot Rob.” (Some might refer to him as “Big Shot Bob” depending on who you talk to.) Horry is widely known as one of the greatest clutch players and winners in NBA history. Horry is a seven-time NBA champion, but I’ll remember Horry for his game-winning three-pointer against the Kings in the 2002 Western Conference Finals. Think about this. Horry wasn’t the first or second option on this play. Kobe Bryant missed his attempt and then Shaq missed his attempt. However, after a Vlade Divac tip out to try and clear the ball, Horry was “Johnny on the Spot” and grabbed the loose ball and sunk the winning shot. This was just another example of Big Shot Rob doing Big Shot Rob things.

LeBron James Delivers Game Winner

It’s hard to create any list and not have a play from LeBron James on it. LeBron is not known for his outside shot, but in crunch time, LeBron can hit a deep jumper. Down two points to the Magic with one second left, LeBron put on his Superman cape and hit a spectacular three-pointer to nod the series at 1. Unfortunately, the Cavs went on to lose the series, 4-2. I call this the “Series That Ruined Everything” because had LeBron and the Cavs won the East, they would have faced Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. Thanks a lot, Hedo Türkoğlu and Rashard Lewis.

Dame Called Game- Damian Lillard

Is this a case of recency bias? Maybe, but the buildup for this buzzer beater was spectacular. I am pro trash talking in sports if you can back it up. If you back up your talk, never shut up. However, when you’re down 2-1 in a series and Russell Westbrook and Dennis Schroder are taunting like they’re about to sweep the Blazers, then you must back it up or you will look silly. It’s safe to say Westbrook and Schroder look like fools right now. In one of the greatest playoff performances I have ever seen, Damian Lillard scored 50 points including the game-winning 37-footer to send the Thunder into the offseason. Dame called game and waved bye-bye.

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The Fish Who Saved LA- Derek Fisher

In terms of the degree of difficulty, Derek Fisher’s 2004 buzzer beater over the Spurs is one of the toughest shots ever made to win a game. Luck definitely played a factor in the setup to this hot. With .4 seconds on the clock, there is enough time to catch and shoot. If it’s .2 seconds less, then it has to be a tip in. Also, the ball was being inbounded on the left side of the court so Fisher was watching the ball on his strong side. If he catches it on the opposite side of the court, the odds of him making the shot are practically zero. What’s crazy is before Fisher’s shot, Tim Duncan made an equally impressive fadeaway at the top of the key. Fisher saved LA this series.

Kawhi Leonard Gets Four Bounces For Buzzer Beater

Kawhi Leonard hit the first game-winning buzzer beater in a Game 7 in NBA Playoffs history. This shot rivals Derek Fisher for the most difficult on this list. He ended the series against the Philadephia 76ers with a ridiculous fadeaway shot over the outstretched hand of 7’2″ Joel Embiid. The most insane part of the shot was that it seemingly hit every part of the rim before bouncing in. The crowd stood still and every person watching was silent for what seemed like an eternity. Skip Bayless said the shot was lucky. I believe it was 100% skill.

Michael Jordan Hits “The Shot” x2

Poor Craig Ehlo. Out of all the clutch plays in Michael Jordan’s career, this is the one that started it all. This play changed the course of history not only in Jordan’s career but the landscape of the NBA. In Game 5 of the 1989 Eastern Conference First Round, the 6-seeded Chicago Bulls were down one point to the 3-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers with three seconds on the clock. Jordan defeated a double team to catch the ball, dribbled to the middle of the cylinder, hung in the air, and hit the shot to send the Bulls to the next round. Although the Bulls went on to lose in the Eastern Conference Finals, this shot was the catalyst for the Chicago Bulls’ dynasty of the 1990s. Speaking of Ehlo, what’s forgotten is the fact that Ehlo hit a layup to give the Cavs the lead before Jordan hit a buzzer beater. However, now he’s known as the defender in “The Shot.”

*Note: Despite being the most iconic shot in NBA history, Michael Jordan’s shot over Bryon Russell in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals was NOT a buzzer beater. There were five seconds left on the clock after his make. I’ll hear the argument for less than two seconds left on the clock as a buzzer beater, but not five.

What buzzer beaters are on your list? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter, @unafraidshow.