Connect with us

Sports

As NBA Soars On and Off Floor, Trouble Could Be Looming

Published

on

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) hangs onto the basket after a dunk during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014, in Miami. James was called for a technical foul on the play. The Heat won 101-91. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) hangs onto the basket after a dunk during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writers
ANTONIO GONZALEZ, AP Sports Writers

NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA is soaring higher than ever.

With a growing global reach and international players dotting most rosters, a group of marketable rising young superstars led by Stephen Curry, more competitive balance, financial stability, and an upcoming infusion of $24 billion from a television deal, the league is bouncing beautifully.

The state of the game couldn’t be much better. However, everyone knows good times can fade fast.

There’s a pivotal play developing over the next few years that could threaten the thriving league again. As the movers and shakers in the pro basketball industry gathered this past weekend for All-Star festivities celebrating the league’s past and present, there were watchful eyes on an uncertain future.

With players and owners able to opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement after the 2016-17 season, a labor battle looms — and players plan to be prepared.

The NBA Players Association unanimously elected LeBron James as vice president last week at its annual meeting. James’ presence on the executive committee — and perhaps at the bargaining table — is a sign the union means business.

“We had a lockout before when I was in the league and our game was really good at that time, too,” James, the four-time MVP and face of the sport told The Associated Press during the NBA’s mid-season showcase. “Hopefully, we don’t have to reach that point because both sides love where we’re at and what we’re doing.”

On the surface, it’s hard to find many flaws with the league’s current status.

Ratings are high, the value of franchises has exploded and Commissioner Adam Silver has taken the ball from David Stern and powered forward. Silver, who recently celebrated one year on the job, has skillfully navigated around some sticky issues, including the racial remarks made by former Clippers owner Donald Sterling that could’ve divided players and ended up uniting them.

Silver acted quickly in removing Sterling, and his swift punishment strengthened a relationship with players that will undoubtedly be tested in the years ahead. Those potentially crippling issues are out of sight now, and a widening international audience is tuning in to see NBA action.

“The game is bigger than ever,” said James, Cleveland’s star now in his 12th season. “The money that’s generated is bigger than ever and our athletes and our guys are doing what they need to do on the floor and off it to represent the game at a high level. So hopefully we don’t have to come to the point that we were in 2011-12, when we had the lockout. The process is going to get started and we don’t have to come to that.”

Following the 2010-11 season, owners were able to negotiate a CBA that was more in their favor, cutting the players’ share of basketball-related income from 57 percent to roughly 50, costing them millions in annual salaries. That contract runs through 2021, but with the economic boost — $2.6 billion per year — coming from the TV contract, players will fight harder for a larger portion of the pie.

“We want to negotiate a little better than we did last time,” said Hawks sharpshooter Kyle Korver. “We’re going to be well-equipped to stand toe-to-toe with the NBA and negotiate a fair deal. That’s what we want — just a fair deal.”

It’s not like Silver isn’t paying attention.

The commissioner has listened to the players on several fronts already, and he promised last weekend to take a harder look at scheduling and reducing the number of back-to-back games and the grueling, four-games-in-five-nights stretches to help keep players — “our partners,” he calls them — fresh and the product crisp. Silver, too, will consider a makeover of the playoff format so that the best teams qualify.

Silver is concerned with keeping the game relevant amid stiff competition from other sports. It’s vital to stay affordable and attractive to an aging population as well as the next generation of hoop fans. It’s entertainment, after all, and Silver wants to keep the NBA in the center of the spotlight.

“I realize we have to earn the fans’ support every day,” he told The AP. “Over the course of my business career I’ve seen a lot of great businesses seemingly disappear. We don’t take anything for granted and we realize that especially when it comes to the changing world of television that we have to focus on what’s happening on tablets and smartphones and how young people are consuming media.”

Silver sees other ways the NBA can increase profit margins.

He’s the first commissioner of a major professional sports league in the U.S. to publicly support legalizing sports betting outside of Nevada. He wants Congress to change the federal ban on sports gambling and craft a structure that allows states to legalize and regulate betting.

That could bring billions more in revenue to the league, though it also could create challenges to protect the game’s integrity, last tested by the scandal involving former referee Tim Donaghy in 2007.

On the court, the game has been pure basketball bliss.

There has been a return to team play with the Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks — the conference leaders at the break — picking up where the San Antonio Spurs left off in last year’s Finals when their selfless style dismantled the Miami Heat.

Teams are breaking away from isolation play and trying to copy San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich’s pace-and-space system. Leading the way is a pair of Popovich’s coaching protégées, Golden State’s Steve Kerr and Atlanta’s Mike Budenholzer, whose emphasis on ball movement is spreading rapidly.

“Five guys touching the ball and playing defense together,” Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins said. “It’s the way basketball was meant to be played.”

The hope, for now, is that the togetherness continues, but both sides sense a bigger game coming off the court in 2017.

“We’ll take care of that once we get there,” reigning MVP Kevin Durant said. “We’re preparing now for anything.”

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Black History

IN MEMORIAM: Referee Jim Burch Got the Final Whistle in The Game

Jim Burch was also inducted into eight different halls of fame, including the CIAA John B. McLendon Jr. Hall of Fame (February 2019). To recognize the hard work of student athletes who exemplify the qualities of academic excellence, involvement in public service, and love of athletic competition, Burch established the James T. Burch Scholarship.

Published

on

jim burch
Jim Burch

By Tamara Shiloh

Created in 1953, the Atlantic Coast Conference, an athletic conference headquartered in Greensboro, N.C., quickly rose to prominence. Within 13 years, the university and college teams in its membership had a number of victories to its credit. North Carolina State University won the first three championships, and the conference was getting heavy exposure outside of the region. Several ACC teams went to the Final Four of the NCAA’s basketball championships. In North Carolina, Duke University took four titles, Wake Forest University took two and University of North Carolina had one victory as did the University of Maryland.

Life inside the ACC could not have been better, except for one minor but not overlooked detail: there were no Black players or officials.

But Jim Burch (1926–2019), who began his officiating career with the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1959, would become the first, signing on with the ACC in 1969. His debut, however, was delayed for a season because “he reportedly refused to cut his hair and sideburns.”

A Raleigh, N.C., native raised in Larchmont, N.Y., Burch was a 1949 graduate of North Carolina’s Fayetteville State University. There he was a two-sport athlete – football and baseball – having large dreams.

Burch “talked about sitting in the ‘colored’ section of Reynolds Coliseum watching games, telling his friends that he was going to be on that court someday,” ACC referee Jamie Luckie told ESPN in 2019 referring to the sports complex in Raleigh, N.C. “They said he was crazy, and sure enough, he was on that court one day.”

Burch never made a big deal out of the historic mark, although many would benefit from his humility. He would train and mentor hundreds of officials over the years. In fact, it was Burch who gave Luckie his start in refereeing.

Throughout his 60-year career, Burch officiated in the CIAA, ACC, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and Southern Conference. He also worked 14 National Collegiate Athletic Association tournaments and was an educator and administrator within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District.

Working as an educator made Burch “an unbelievable teacher of the game in terms of what he wanted us to do on the floor, how he wanted us to deal with coaches, how he wanted us to communicate, and just his delivery and style was one where he could get it across to you, but he was a teacher. That never stopped,” Luckie said.

Burch continued to make monumental achievements as well as give back.

Many of those he trained moved into CIAA, ACC, Southern Conference, and NCAA championship careers. He was twice featured in the NCAA Champions Magazine, served on numerous civic boards, and was the first African American to serve on the Charlotte Housing Authority board.

Burch was also inducted into eight different halls of fame, including the CIAA John B. McLendon Jr. Hall of Fame (February 2019).

To recognize the hard work of student athletes who exemplify the qualities of academic excellence, involvement in public service, and love of athletic competition, Burch established the James T. Burch Scholarship.

Before retiring in 2018, he served as the head coordinator of officials for the South Atlantic Conference and the CIAA.

Burch died at his home in North Carolina in 2019 at the age of 91.

Continue Reading

Bay Area

Skyline High Girls Volleyball Team Makes History

The team played in Orange County, taking on Santa Clarita Christian School in the California Interscholastic Federation Division 5 CIF State Championship match.

Published

on

The Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team
The Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team.

As the season comes to a close for the Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team, the members are celebrating that they went farther than any Skyline or OUSD/OAL volleyball team ever has. On the final day, November 19, the team played in Orange County, taking on Santa Clarita Christian School in the California Interscholastic Federation Division 5 CIF State Championship match. Skyline fell short 3 games to 1, coming in as runner-up. The photo above shows the team posing with their trophy after the match.

 

Continue Reading

Commentary

OPINION: Would You Pressure Your Kid’s Coach to Apologize for Winning by 106-0?

“Regarding Inglewood H.S. vs. Morningside H.S. Friday night 10/29 game, we at the Inglewood Unified School District (IUSD) are saddened beyond words by the events that transpired at the football game Friday between Inglewood and Morningside high schools,” the IUSD stamen read. “We will conduct a full investigation and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that a similar outcome never happens again under an IUSD athletic program.”

Published

on

Inglewood Football Coach Mil’Von James (Nick Koza/Photo)
Inglewood Football Coach Mil’Von James (Nick Koza/Photo)

By Kenneth Miller | Inglewood Today

Coaches push the athletes they train to put their all into mastering the mental and physical aspects of their sport, preparing them to edge out competitors and perform at the height of their abilities.

But there are real-life situations, it seems, when attaining excellence proves to be too much – or maybe just not good enough.

This seems to have been the case October 29 when an impressive shut-out victory for Inglewood High School in Los Angeles County ended up turning into a bitter crosstown game of guilt, blame and grievances. That day, Inglewood High football coach and former Cleveland Browns defensive back Mil’Von James led his team to a 106-0 victory over rivals Morningside High School.

Since that shellacking, education authorities have blasted James and Inglewood High for being too focused on winning that they failed to exhibit a spirit of compassion and sportsmanship.

The California Interscholastic Federation -Southern Section (CIFSS), the governing body of high school athletics in the state, released a scathing statement regarding the wide margin of the game’s final score.

“The CIF Southern Section expects that all athletic contests are to be conducted under the strictest code of good sportsmanship. “We expect coaches, players, officials, administrators and students to adhere to the Six Pillars of Character – Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship,” CIF-SS fired off in a statement.

“A score of 106-0 does not represent these ideals,” the statement continued. “The CIF-SS condemns, in the strongest terms, results such as these. It is our expectation that the Inglewood administration will work towards putting in place an action plan so that an event such as this does not repeat itself.”

James, 38, said it was not his intention to degrade or demoralize the Morningside High team.

“I apologized for the way things turned out,” James said even though, during the game, he benched his defensive starters after the second quarter and most of his other frontline players in the second half.

But Inglewood continued to run up the score on its hapless opponent.

Anyone who knows James personally would know – and can attest to the fact — that his intent was never to bring shame to the game that he loves.

Coaches like James who have played college and pro football understand the fierce competitiveness it requires for young people to succeed when pursuing careers as professional athletes. They train their students to be warriors, to dominate their opponents. Varsity sports is the highest level of competition in high school.

Today, the advancement of training techniques and year-round coaching and development increases the likelihood that schools with the resources will outperform schools with sports programs that are underfunded or under-supported.

Since he became coach at Inglewood High three seasons ago, James has taken the team from a losing streak to being nearly undefeated. During that time, the team has moved from CIF-SS Division 13 to Division 2.

Inglewood student athletes have advantages in coaching and preparation that Morningside and many other schools do not.

James was a star on the football squad at Fremont High School in Los Angeles where he graduated in 2003. In college, he first played for the UNLV Rebels where he led the nation in passes; before transferring to UCLA and playing for the Bruins from 2003-2005.

After brief stints in the NFL and the Canadian Football League on the roster for the Cleveland Browns and the Vancouver Lions respectively, James began coaching high school football.

He is the founder and director of one of most successful ‘7 on 7’ leagues in the nation, responsible for scores of future and current high school, collegiate and professional players.

Chances are, if you have observed any top football program in California, you have you witnessed his impact on young players, their development and their unmatched leadership skills – on the field and off it.

The Inglewood Unified School District also blasted James and Inglewood High.

“Regarding Inglewood H.S. vs. Morningside H.S. Friday night 10/29 game, we at the Inglewood Unified School District (IUSD) are saddened beyond words by the events that transpired at the football game Friday between Inglewood and Morningside high schools,” the IUSD stamen read. “We will conduct a full investigation and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that a similar outcome never happens again under an IUSD athletic program.”

High school sports, in many schools, is a training ground for college and pro athletes. Schools that have better resources will always have an edge.

It is unfortunate that this incident has placed a dark cloud over a high school sports program. Inglewood High’s football program should be celebrated for its league championship and undefeated record in a school district that is still in state receivership.

Kenneth Miller is the publisher of Inglewood Today.

Continue Reading

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending