All posts by Nana Yeboah

Recently graduated from George Mason University with a degree in Criminology: Law & Society, Nana is a passionate writer who loves to share his views on a variety of topics that surface our media outlets. Nana developed his writing skills throughout the pursuit of his education, where he enrolled in many writing intensive courses. He hopes to one day use this ability to aid him in becoming a top-tier attorney.

Big Baller Brand: Junior Basketball Association

A few hours ago, several sports media outlets reported the news of LaVar Ball’s desire to start a Junior Basketball Association, where High School Graduates who are looking to forgo attending college will have the option to begin a professional career here in the United States, receiving a monthly salary of $3,000 a month (or $10,000 if considered the league’s best). Per sources, Ball seeks to fund this league entirely through his Big Baller Brand. The players will in turn exclusively wear Big Baller Brand apparel and sneakers on the court.

From LaVar’s perspective, this idea is pure genius, if all goes as planned. This appears to be the only way to get somebody without the last name Ball to wear any of their BBB merchandise. Not to mention, if ten teams are formed out of a pool of eighty players (like he is seeking to do), this will generate a fair amount of revenue from game attendance, sponsorships, etc. This will give LaVar the platform to run what is likely to become a multimillion business, if all goes as planned.

On the flip side, any parent who allows their child to enroll in this league is short sighted to say the least. While I understand that the thought of your son earning a $3,000 monthly income at age 18 may be very appealing to many, this will only generate an annual income of $36,000, assuming this league lasts for twelve months a year. $36,0000, depending on your location, is not very much money. It is barely enough for survival after taxes are deducted. Secondly, many seem to overlook the fact that a professional basketball career only lasts a small fraction of one’s life. The average NBA career lasts less than 5 years (assuming these players even make it this far). Once the said career is over, what else follows? This is where a college degree is beneficial. While college athletes do not get paid during their tenure at their respective institutions, they at least obtain a free education in exchange. This, in my opinion, is a fair tradeoff. It at least provides these young men with the tools to survive in the real world after a basketball career.

Lastly, and arguably most importantly, LaVar Ball’s development methods have not exactly panned out to be effective. While his son Lonzo was able to climb up the NBA draft ranks and get selected second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2017 NBA Draft, Lonzo’s game hasn’t exactly translated to the NBA level quite like one would expect. While I understand that he is still young and finding his niche in the league, his failure to emerge as a star early in his career provides further evidence that LaVar may not be as much of a developmental wiz as he may think he is. As a parent, I would be much more inclined to have my son receive guidance from the trusted coaching at a Duke University or a University of Kentucky as opposed to what will seemingly be an experimental run with this proposed Junior league.

In sum, while I believe that this would be a smart business move on the part of LaVar Ball and the Big Baller Brand, I do not believe that enlisting with his Junior League is a good idea for developing athletes. Going to a top-notch Division one school is likely to put them in a better position to succeed as a professional basketball player. Furthermore, a college education is likely to put these young men in position to succeed after a professional basketball career. Remember, life goes on after basketball. For the foregoing reasons, the proposed Junior Basketball Association is a good idea for its creators, but a bad idea for the prospective members.

Photo Credit:

https://solecollector.com

Looking Forward: 2017/2018 NBA Season

As the NBA season slowly approaches, the excitement for what’s to come is slowly building up. This NBA off-season has been entertaining to say the least. From the blockbuster trades, NBA draft, to the Ball family antics, NBA fans have had something to constantly talk about this past summer. With the season starting next month, however, it is now time to focus on what really matters.

First and foremost, the Golden State Warriors remain in a class of their own, atop the Western Conference (and the entire league for that matter). Despite the new additions of the likes of Chris Paul to the Rockets, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to the Thunder, and Rudy Gay to the Spurs, none of these moves made any of these teams comparable to the formidable Warriors. I, for one, worry about the compatibility of the new Thunder Big 3. I have a hard time envisioning three ball dominant players gelling together without some type of friction at one point or another during the season. The Thunder will certainly be better (on paper at least) than they were last season; however, I do not think they will give Golden State that many problems when faced with each other. For the Rockets, the addition of another ball dominant playmaker doesn’t really help address the weakness that they have in the middle.

Secondly, Kyrie Irving showed the NBA world his true character: he is a self-centered young man who cares more about individual accolades than winning. Period. If he was truly primarily concerned with winning, like he and most other NBA stars claim to be, he would either a) remain on the Cavs and enjoy yet another trip to the NBA finals with the hopes of defeating the Warriors, as no teammate gives you a better chance of winning than LeBron James, or b) demand a trade to a team that would give him a better chance of beating the Warriors. By joining the Celtics, he is simply taking a step back as a winner, and will more than likely end up watching his former team in the NBA finals. The trade demand, as a whole, and the list of teams that he evidently mentioned to be his top destination choices, showed that he simply wants to be the center of attention in a big city, far away from LeBron’s shadow.

Next, the acquisition of Dwyane Wade will not make the Cavaliers significantly better. While this pick up came at a very little expense to the Cavs, given the money being offered, it did not make the Cleveland Cavaliers a considerably better opponent for the Golden State Warriors. First, Dwyane Wade is…old (simply put). It is common knowledge that once an athlete in the NBA surpasses the age of 33, they are considered old. While one gets wiser with age, and so forth, father time is undefeated. Regardless of how wiser one may get, the inability of your body to correlate with the desires of your mind makes one ineffective. This is why players retire! Secondly, the Cavaliers need more floor spacers in order for the likes of LeBron and Isaiah Thomas to be effective. Although D-Wade noticeably improved his three point shooting in the playoffs last season, his shooting has never been his strength, and I do not foresee that changing. Unless D-Wade perhaps accepts a 6th man role and puts on his best Manu Ginobili impression, this acquisition may not only be a minimal improvement at best, but it may even be a hindrance to what already exists in Cleveland. Lastly, D-Wade is another ball dominant player who is mostly ineffective unless the ball is in his hands. This will take away from the likes of Isaiah Thomas, D-Rose, Kevin Love, and even LeBron. In theory, it may seem to be a big pick-up, but in practice, I don’t see it being that huge of a move.

Lastly, the recent Super Team epidemic that has plagued the league is slowly but surely destroying the NBA competition. While there are about four or five super teams out (the majority of whom are simply fighting for second place behind the formidable Golden State Warriors), the rest of the league is essentially filled with mediocre teams who aren’t really contending for much. I fear that NBA fans (outside of the true die-hard fans who root for their teams regardless of the outcome) may only tune in to watch marque games which feature the super teams going against each other. This isn’t good for the NBA brand, as advertisements, endorsements and overall fan support may be lost. I’m not certain as to what can be done to address what Kevin Durant is essentially to blame for, but something must be done. Either way, it should be an entertaining NBA season, although we all know what is likely to happen in the end.

Photo Credits:

Gq.com

gazettenet.com

cavsnation.com 

sportsnet.ca

Real Estate Transactions: Short Sales

As a settlement agent with a profound level of experience working out short sale transactions, I spend the majority of my days on the job advising realtors/real estate agents on how to go about the short sale process. For those of you who are new to the industry, a short sale is essentially a petition to a lien-holder (a bank that holds a mortgage on the property) to release the corresponding lien attached to the property for less than the money owed on the loan obligation. Say for example I take out a loan for 500,000.00 to purchase a home, and five years later the house is worth only 350,000.00; thus, a sale of the property will not be sufficient to pay off the lien in full. By the bank agreeing to accept whatever sales proceeds are available after settlement related costs (sales commissions, real estate taxes, etc.) are deducted, the bank is agreeing to a short sale.

To efficiently go about a short sale, here are some key pointers for realtors, in particular listing agents:

1. List the property like you would in a regular sale – One of the most common questions I receive from realtors on a sale transaction is what to list the property for. Once a realtor finds out that the transaction is going to be a short sale, they seem to treat the process differently. They in fact should not. I always advise realtors to list the property like you would in a regular sale. In other words resort to the mechanisms that you utilize with any other listing. List the property for whatever price you truly believe the property is worth. Just because it is a short sale doesn’t necessarily mean the property is devalued (unless of course it is in fact damaged, etc.; hence devalued). A short sale is not a clearance sale at a department store for example. Instead it is a normal sale with a bit of unusual circumstances. Treat it as such. The bank will of course have its own appraisal done to assess what they believe the property is worth; but keep in mind that as a realtor, you are the expert. The bank’s assessment isn’t always right. If there happens to be a huge price discrepancy, a comparable market analysis may be helpful; but for starters, list the property at what you truly believe it is worth.

2. Verify that there is a financial hardship – There are two major components to a short sale: a justifiable hardship making the seller(s) unable to make the mortgage payments in the foreseeable future, and a sufficient purchase offer that meets the investor’s guidelines. At times, agents lose sight of the fact that without the first component, the lien-holder will not proceed to the second. Without a legitimate hardship (death, divorce, unemployment, distance commute to work, long-term sickness, etc.), the bank is unlikely to approve the short sale. Unless the bank is able to verify that due to certain financially crippling circumstances a borrower is unable to honor the note obligation, they will not accept a loss. Thus, it would behoove you as a listing agent to verify that there is in fact a legitimate hardship, before going through with the listing process. Otherwise, you may put in all the hard work just to eventually uncover that the bank is not going to entertain a short sale, as there is no hardship. Remember, a short sale is mechanism for the lien-holder to mitigate their losses, not a means for the borrower to back away from a bad investment.

3. Be Proactive – A short sale, contrary to the moniker, is a very lengthy process. They could take several months for a bank to render a decision on the short sale request. For that reason, you as a realtor must take any steps necessary to try to proactively expedite the process. Once you make the determination that it will be a short sale (by verifying the current payoff amount with the projected sales proceeds), advise your client to either begin putting together their short sale package (consisting of the application, hardship letter, proof of income, bank statements, tax returns, etc.), or if already gathered to go ahead and submit the financial package to the bank. Ultimately, this will speed up the process once a contract is ratified. Ideally, the bank would’ve made a determination on the seller’s eligibility to move forward with a short sale (by reviewing their finances) by the time a contract is received by the title company, or whomever is working the short sale. This would then enable the facilitator to focus strictly on the numbers (net sales proceeds), as opposed to the underwriting process to determine eligibility.

4. Set realistic expectations – While this may serve as a bit of a deterrent factor to the parties involved, especially the purchaser, it is important to establish that a short sale isn’t exactly an overnight process. While this is pretty common knowledge in the industry, you would be better served by doing your due diligence of letting the parties know that a) there is no guarantee of a short sale approval, and b) the duration of the process is out of your hands (or anybody’s for that matter), and can be quite lengthy. By establishing this from the get-go, you are setting realistic expectations for the parties involved. That way if a buyer is running against a quick timeline, it would probably be in their best interest to not pursue such a property. This is of course more of the responsibility of a buyer’s agent; however it would be beneficial for you as a listing agent to remind the buyer’s agent. This will ultimately eliminate the pressure that may be placed on you from the buyer’s side, wanting to close immediately.

5. Use an experienced facilitator – While the decision to be made on a short sale falls entirely in the hands of the bank, using experienced role players can be critical as well. First, the seller should use a real estate agent who has some exposure doing short sales, or at the very least is seasoned in conducting real estate transactions as a whole. Even further, using an experienced facilitator is key. I am a huge believer in the theory of exposure being the greatest teacher. Adequate exposure in the form of education, or experience, makes one an expert in the field exposed to. The same applies to short sales. Using an experienced settlement agent or third party liaison to work out your short sale can make the experience much more efficient. First, an experienced facilitator can provide you with an accurate overview of how the process may turn out per lienholder. While short sales are standard for the most part, each lienholder has certain nuisances that make their process difference. An experienced facilitator would be able to point out the differences in the beginning of the process, to make things move quicker. Secondly, and most importantly, an experienced facilitator is key whenever the parties run into issues. Troubleshooting is key in short sales. For example, what happens when the bank counters the offer? What happens when title work reveals more liens/judgements than what was previously disclosed? What if there is an IRS lien? An experienced facilitator would be able to provide guidance on how to address these issues.

In sum, while short sales may seem to be pretty complex transactions, they are very manageable when approached properly. While each short sale varies on a case by case basis, these steps provided above, if followed, can put a realtor on the right path to obtain a short sale approval and close on a short sale transaction efficiently.

Photo Credit:

Go Clean Credit

Nevada Senate Bill No. 538 – Internet Data Collection Bill

On June 12, 2017, Nevada’s Governor, Brian Sandoval, signed Senate Bill Number 538 into a law requiring internet website providers to disclose the type of information it obtains from internet users in the state of Nevada.  The bill, sponsored by Senate Majority leader Aaron Ford and Assembly speaker Jason Frierson, received overwhelming support from the Nevada Senate.  It requires any company or person who owns or operates an Internet website or online service for commercial purposes that collects information about Nevada residents and maintains minimum contacts with Nevada to make available a notice explicitly listing the personal information that the said operator is to collect from its clients.  In addition, the operator must allow the consumer to review and request changes to this information.  Failure to adhere to this regulation will first lead to a 30-day period to remedy a failure, or face a civil penalty imposed by the state attorney general.

In essence, this bill provides privacy protection to Nevada residents in lieu of the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband privacy rules which have been repealed by newly elected President Trump.   The FCC privacy rules, which were set to take effect later this year, were designed to ban Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from collecting, storing, sharing and selling private information obtained from customers without their consent.  These set of rules would have required ISPs to obtain consumer permission before selling information such as web browsing history, location details, and app usage history to third parties for advertising purposes.  The repeal deprives consumers of this type of federal protection, leaving it up to the states to perhaps take steps in furtherance of privacy protection.

Nevada is one of several states to undertake such a measure to protect the interests of its residents.  Illinois is another state that has taken steps to protect the privacy interests of its people. For example, Illinois is working to implement the Right to Know Act in its state.  This law would require the operator of commercial websites or online services to make available certain personal information that has been disclosed to a third party, and to provide a way for customers to inquire further about said information, whether via email, or telephone.

While I do not believe that it is illegal for entities who own or operate an Internet website or online service for commercial purposes to obtain personal information from its users, I do think that they should have an affirmative duty to disclose to their clients the information being obtained, how it is being obtained, and how it is being used.  The onus shouldn’t be on the user to have to opt out of these arrangements after being essentially bound to a unilateral agreement by default.   After all, it is the commercial website service that gets to benefit financially from this endeavor.  Thus, the burden of seeking consent should be placed on them.

As a consumer, it isn’t unusual to expect that the information I provide to another party will be used solely for the intended purpose, unless otherwise stated.  Put differently, if I were to tell a secret to another party, it is implied that the secret would stay between the recipient of this sacred information and I, unless I were to agree for this message to be passed on to others.  Likewise, I believe it is reasonable to expect that the same principle would apply here in this context.

Opposition might argue that the majority of internet users will not willingly agree to have their information used for advertising if they in fact knew how their information was being used.  Others might also argue that the use of this information is for the benefit of the users themselves, as it will provide convenient shopping amongst other benefits.  To the proponents of the first oppositional point, I think this may present a challenge for perhaps new innovative ways of marketing, without necessarily infringing upon privacy rights.  To the proponents of the latter, if this disclosure would in fact educate users of the benefits of such information gathering, there ought to be overwhelming support, hence no foreseeable problems.

Further, I am not saying that entities who own or operate an Internet website or online service for commercial purposes shouldn’t be allowed to sell this information to third party clients.  Instead, I am simply asking that they seek the consent of the individuals who are essentially having their privacy rights infringed upon.   Since the users do not get monetary compensation, the least they can be provided is the ability/opportunity to give informed consent.  This would require simple disclosure, and the opportunity to grant or decline consent.  Since the Federal Government is taking a step back in providing this protection to citizens, more states should follow in the footsteps of Illinois and Nevada, and protect the privacy of residents.

In sum, I am in favor of Senate Bill Number 538 being passed as a law, as I believe it is a step in the right direction towards protecting the privacy of consumers online.  Entities who own or operate an Internet website or online service for commercial purposes should have the affirmative duty of disclosing to its users the type of information being obtained, how it is being obtained, and what it is being used for.  This will enable users to make an informed decision as to whether or not to provide this information and/or continue to use the service(s) being provided.  More states should follow suit.

Photo Credit:

https://themerkle.com/nevada-legislators-want-to-improve-online-privacy-protection/ 

Social Media Posts: Intersection of Privacy Rights and Free Speech

While many countries allow their citizens the freedom of expression through the press and other forms of communication, there is sometimes the need to limit this freedom, when it interferes with the reasonable expectation of privacy that others also have.  That was seemingly the case in Canada this past week. In the week of June 12, Canadian police arrested a Jeffrey Williamson, a man alleged to be the administrator of a “CanadaCreep” Twitter account.  This account is known to post photographs and videos of women, placing an emphasis on their “private parts” i.e. breasts, buttocks and groins.  While this account is known to have a variety of such footage, the charges were limited to only three videos which contained “upskirt” content of women in public places.  These videos were the only ones that were found to be a violation of the Canadian voyeurism laws on its face.  The other content of this page and others, while arguably a violation of one’s privacy, are seemingly permissible, despite the apparent invasion of a reasonably expectation of privacy.  With that, the lawmakers are faced with the difficult task of refining the criminal code to limit the freedom of expression afforded to citizens, in order to protect the privacy of all citizens. Of course, the question of where to draw the line is one that is very difficult to answer.

Canadian Law:

Canada, much like the United States has it set of rights and freedoms that govern the country.  The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of Part I of the Constitution Act of 1982 outlines these said rights and freedoms provided to its citizens.  In the second “amendment” of this rule of law, labeled fundamental freedoms, the following is outlined:

  1. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

(d) freedom of association.

The freedom of opinion and expression is for the most part unlimited, unless it is clear violation of an existing criminal code.  For example, the three “upskirt” videos that Jeffrey Williamson was arrested for are seemingly a violation of R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46, s. 162, otherwise known as the criminal code on Voyeurism.  Under this code:

(1) Every one commits an offence who, surreptitiously, observes — including by mechanical or electronic means — or makes a visual recording of a person who is in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy, if

(a) the person is in a place in which a person can reasonably be expected to be nude, to expose his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts, or to be engaged in explicit sexual activity;

(b) the person is nude, is exposing his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts, or is engaged in explicit sexual activity, and the observation or recording is done for the purpose of observing or recording a person in such a state or engaged in such an activity; or

(c) the observation or recording is done for a sexual purpose.

As evidenced by the code, the scope of prosecutable crimes is fairly limited to instances where nudity, or an expectation of the ability to be nude exists.  This essentially allows “perverts” to get away with other invasive acts which do not violate this code on its face.

What Can Be Done?

As it stands, the code on Voyeurism enables culprits to invade a reasonable level of privacy that many Canadian citizens may have.  While R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46, s. 162 1 (c) leaves room for argument by criminalizing such content obtained “for a sexual purpose,” this said purpose is fairly hard to prove.  As with most crimes, intent is hard to prove.  In this particular case, many could argue that these said pictures and/or videos are simply slice-of-life footage as part of “street photography.”  With that being said, it will be extremely difficult for Canadians to rely on subsection 1 (c) of the Voyeurism code to provide the privacy protection needed.

Peter Jacobsen, a media lawyer and member of the board of directors of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, has called for an amendment of the criminal code to encompass protection of the victims affected by the acts of individuals like Jeffrey Williamson which go unpunished.  While Jacobsen is the equivalent of what we would consider a Free Speech advocate here in the United States, even he is in favor of amending the Criminal Code in a way that outlaws “creep” photography.

While legal theorists like Jacobsen believe that amending the current Criminal Code is easier in theory than in practice, they are exploring ways to perhaps revise the language of R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46, s. 162.  The revision is in the works, but I believe that a tweak to subsection 1 (c), or perhaps an addition of a subsection 1 (d) could be the solution.   Ultimately, the legislature should find a way to incorporate a provision that covers pictures and/videos that are objectifying by a reasonable standard.   For example, I believe subsection 1 (c) should be revised to read as follows:

(c) the observation or recording is done for a sexual purpose, or is objectifying in nature, by a  reasonable standard. 

This will ultimately open the door for the judicial system to assess such instances on a case by case basis, while maintaining somewhat of a reasonable standard.

Conclusion

In sum, governing bodies have the tough task of empowering citizens by allowing the freedom of expression while at the same time protecting certain liberties such as privacy.  In order to keep a balance and protect the innocent victims such as those preyed upon by the “CanadaCreep” and others of the like, the criminal code, i.e. R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46, s. 162 must be amended to adequately protect the subject class from such intrusive acts.

Photo Credit:

http://debatepost.com/2017/06/18/canada-creep-facing-child-porn-charges/ 

Given, Not Earned: The Kevin Durant Championship Run

This past Monday,  Kevin Durant accomplished something that many NBA players never get to experience over the course of their professional careers:  win an NBA championship.  Winning a championship is something that many will agree to be the ultimate goal of any NBA player.  While some NBA stars and legends have gone on to have long, successful careers, failure to win a championship tends to leave a void that no other individual accomplishment can seem to fill.  Fortunately for Kevin Durant, this is a problem that he may no longer have to face.

Despite winning the Finals MVP award for his incredible performance in the 4-1 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, many are refusing to give Kevin Durant the credit that he seemingly deserves, for a multitude of reasons.  For starters, many can’t seem to get over the fact that Mr. Durant joined the team that came back from a 3-1 deficit to eliminate his former team from championship contention in the 2015/2016 season.  Rightfully so.  As a competitor, one would think that Kevin Durant would’ve used this past failure as motivation to come back better, stronger and more focused to overthrow the defending Western Conference champions.  Instead, he took what most consider to be the easy way out, by joining them!  Considering the Warriors won 73 regular season games in the 2015/2016 NBA season, and were one game away from completing what could’ve been the greatest season in NBA history, it is crystal clear that they did not need the services of Kevin Durant to be a formidable team.  In fact, one could make the argument that they may have very well have won the championship had Draymond Green kept his composure and played the entire series; but I digress.  So, for Kevin Durant to weigh out his options and decided to join this team would constitute what Stephen A. Smith categorized as a weak move.

Many of Durant’s fans have made the counter argument that this move was similar to LeBron James’ decision to join the Miami Heat in 2010.  That, my friends, is absolute malarkey.  LeBron James did not leave the Cavaliers to join the Boston Celtics team that had just eliminated his team from championship contention.  He did not leave a top 5 type talent sidekick, with a bonafide deep roster.  Instead, he left a team that continuously failed to assemble a roster with enough help to contend for a championship (and no, an old and ailing Shaq does not count as help either). There is simply not a cogent argument to be made there.

Secondly, to join a team that essentially deprived you of what you should have considered rightfully yours is as cowardly of a move as I’ve ever seen. It is almost like walking in on your friend being assaulted by a group of men, and instead of helping out, joining the mob in this endeavor.  As a man, I am not quite sure how one’s pride could perceive the situation any differently.  I suppose the saying “if you can’t beat them, join them” was taken literally.

Lastly, this road to a championship was about as easy of a playoff run as we’ve ever seen.  The 16-1 record that the Warriors tallied up is indicative of that fact.  Besides the game 4 loss, the close contest in game 3, and game 1 of the Western Conference finals (prior to Kawhi Leonard’s injury), the Warriors did not break a sweat.  Kevin Durant was not challenged.  With two of the greatest shooters in NBA history on the same team as him, who would dare to double-team?  Kevin Durant’s high shooting percentages are indicative of the ease at which he operated.

Again, his fans make the argument that his efficiency is simply an illustration of his greatness; but let’s face it, all NBA superstars would feast if they had 1 on 1 coverage each time down the court.  What NBA superstar doesn’t face double teams?  Especially one who stands at 6’11 with the ball handling skills of a point guard, and the shooting range of a sniper?  He is literally a walking mismatch for any defender.  His 30 plus point average was about as easy of an exhibition as I’ve ever seen.

The bottom line is this:  although Kevin Durant a) finally won an NBA championship, b) ended up with the finals MVP, and c) did so averaging stellar numbers, this accomplishment will always come with an asterisk next to it, simply because it was given and not earned.  It was a given that he would win an NBA championship simply by joining the Warriors (just ask David West).  Let’s face it, if your mom has to convince you that you earned it, because even you don’t seem to truly believe that you did, then you probably did not.  The lack of tears or any great emotion after the win goes to prove my point.  Kevin Durant is not deserving of credit for this championship.

Photo Credit:

sbnation.com

NBA: “Rest” Epidemic

Imagine calling out of work at the last minute; not sick or on vacation, but simply needing to “rest” inexplicably.  How well would your superiors or upper management take that?  Even worse: imagine your superiors at work asking you to take a day off to “rest” inexplicably.  How well would the clients who rely heavily on the impact of your work, and pay thousands of dollars to create your salary, feel about such a move?  This is unfortunately a feeling that many NBA fans can relate to in modern times.  There is nothing more disappointing than a kid who has spent four months looking forward to a Cavs v. Wizards game, to which he was given tickets as a birthday present, only to find out on Game Day that while LeBron James is healthy and in the arena, he will not be playing.  What a bummer?

With this ongoing, and ever so prevalent “rest epidemic,” the NBA is slowly jeopardizing its brand.  While in my biased opinion the NBA is the greatest sports league in the world, I am in complete disagreement with what seems to be a trend that was started by the San Antonio Spurs organization and Greg Popovich.  I am all for protecting the players and taking steps to prolong their careers; however, sitting out regular season games for no apparent reason does not appear to be a necessary step in furtherance of this objective. Michael Jordon, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, etc., did not sit out games inexplicably, during what appears to have been a more physically daunting era of basketball; so, why is it acceptable now?

It shouldn’t be.  It is not fair to the NBA fan, simple.  An NBA fan shouldn’t be hesitant to buy tickets due to the fear of a favorite athlete unexpectedly sitting out a game.  TV audiences shouldn’t have to tune in to a marquee match up game just to see their favorite players on the bench drinking coffee and laughing it up.  This is a surefire way to lose fans, and to have ticket sales decline.  I shouldn’t have to tune in to an an ABC Saturday night matchup between the Cavs and Clippers, just to see that LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love, while healthy, are all sitting out to “rest.”  The even more disappointing part is that they will all suit up the following day to play the even more inferior Laker team.  How disappointing for us NBA fans?

If NBA fans begin to lose interest and revenues go down from reduced ticket sales and loss of endorsement deals, these extremely pampered NBA players will no longer enjoy the luxury of the ridiculous contracts they have been signing lately.  If I do not have the liberty of calling out of work randomly at my five figure salaried job, neither should these eight figure salaried athletes.  For crying out loud, you are getting paid to play basketball; something that many of us would love to do for free! So, Adam Silver, please save the image and brand of the NBA and put an end to this “epidemic.”  NBA players, do your job; play basketball.

Photo Credit:

ESPN.com

Synopsis: Modern Day Police “Brutality”

This past Tuesday, an older white colleague of mine walked into my office and asked for my thoughts on the incidents that took place last week.  For the first time, I was forced to opine on the matter, and really put my thoughts together.  Before I go any further, I wanted to first clarify that at this juncture, no one really knows of the totality of circumstances in both the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile shootings, or the Dallas Police incident.  For that reason, my opinion is strictly based on the information that has been disclosed to the media. Based on the information revealed, it does not appear that deadly force was warranted in either the Alton Sterling incident, or the Philando Castile shooting.  Secondly, I want to acknowledge that being a law enforcement officer is an extremely difficult job to hold, and that I truly respect and appreciate all those who choose these career paths. With that being said, however, I can’t say that I am one bit surprised, but rather rudely awoken, by the events that took place last week.

It is not proven that either of these police stops were racially motivated, although it appears that race played at least somewhat of a role in each incident. Based on the premise that it played somewhat of a role, the following account applies.  As a young black man, I am well aware of the fact that racism and racial stereotyping against my kind is still an issue in this country. While I like to think that we have made a lot of progress in that regard, there is still a lot of work to be done. It is no secret that blacks are considered by many to be more of a threat to society, than our white counterparts.  It is also no secret that higher ratios of blacks are more likely to be involved in a life of crime.  Nevertheless, the stereotypes that some close-minded people have of blacks are simply inaccurate.  I am a living example of this fact.

As a 24 year old black male in this country, I like to think that I have done a pretty good job of defying the odds against black men.  I graduated college with a 3.7 cumulative GPA, work a full time job as a settlement agent, and go to law school at night, on a merit based scholarship.  On paper, it is fair to say that I am doing very well for myself; but on the surface, one could never guess.  When I am not dressed up in a suit for work, I like  to wear skinny jeans, foamposites, low brim hats and earrings. I listen to loud “trap music” with my windows down, drink Henny on the rocks when I go out, and watch funny vines of black comedy. Based on my appearance outside of the professional setting and my conduct in my personal life, no one would be able to foresee my academic and/or professional accomplishments.

Now, I am not here to write a mini-bio on myself; instead I am trying to make a point.  The point I am trying to make is that it is completely unfair for us to essentially have a target on our back, simply for looking the way we do. As cliche as it sounds, you can’t judge a book by its cover; and as a black man, it hurts to know that these are still the circumstances that many of us have to live under.  While Northern Virginia is a very diverse area to live, and consequently safe for people of our kind, many in other parts of the country aren’t as “privileged” to live under such conditions. The fact that the freedom to live freely as a black man is essentially a “privilege” is baffling. This country has come way too far to have this issue remain prevalent.

As a reaction, many get mad.  They may protest, they may fight back, they may be even shoot back. To me, that is not the solution.  In my opinion, the best way to put an end to this view of blacks, is by being the change we want to see.  First, we have to put ourselves in position to impact public policy.  This starts by doing the little things such as voting.  By voting, I’m not referring to the presidential elections per se (although that too will help); instead, I am referring to the local elections.  Partake in elections that directly impact your community.  After all, these people that you elect will ultimately play a role in how your community is shaped, more so than a president will.  In addition to voting, we must also aspire to be in position of power.  Go to school, get an education, become someone influential, that way you too can have a say in how things are run. Who knows? You could even be put in position of large scale authority.

Secondly, we have to better ourselves. Yes, I believe that some of us black people contribute to the stereotypes out there. A lot of officers look for probable cause for traffic stops, because they hope the stop will lead to more discoveries.  Many times, this is in fact the case.  We have to put an end to that. We have to conduct ourselves in a better manner, stay away from a life of crime, get respectable jobs, and stop looking for the easy way out. We have to prove the doubters wrong. Interact with people who aren’t of the same upbringing as you, show them that you aren’t half as bad as they may assume.

Lastly, we have to refrain from retaliation.  By retaliating, we aren’t helping ourselves, as we are only conducting ourselves in the manner in which some close minded individuals expect us to.  Two wrongs don’t make a right, and taking our anger out on those who, as a whole, believe it or not, work tirelessly to protect us all, is not the answer. Not all cops are out to get us, and we shouldn’t conduct ourselves as such. This diminishes the desire for these officers to better serve our community, and quite frankly increases the paranoia that they may already have, making them more susceptible to react to our actions, violently. Not all law enforcement officers are close minded, and to do anything that jeopardizes their safety is a big slap in the face.

In sum, while we do not know of all the circumstances that went into the two police shooting incidents that took place last week, it appears that race may have played a role in both.  If that is the case, this should come of as no surprise to anyone; instead it should motivate the blacks in this country to take steps towards being the change that we want to see in society. That is the only way we can turn things around. All things being considered, we cannot let the darkness of the most recent events overcast the overall good work that law enforcement officers do for the nation as a whole. As I previously mentioned, not all cops are crooked.  Likewise, not all whites are close minded; in fact, many aren’t. We must not lose sight of these facts.  Much like we would like to be judged based on our character, and not the stereotypes formed by the close minded, we too must be open minded and not assume that all whites are out to get us. We’ve got to better ourselves, to eliminate these stereotypes.

Photo Credits:

madamenoire.com 

Legacy Solidified: LeBron James

With less than two minutes left to go in the crucial game seven of the 2015/16 NBA season, Andre Iguodala corralled a defensive rebound off of an ill-advised Kyrie Irving shot. All tied at 89-89, a fast break score would put the Warriors up by two points, with about a minute fifty to go.  As Iguodala raced down the court to the basket, for what seemed to be a sure lay up, several of the Cavaliers galloped back, in hopes of contesting the lay up.  Out of nowhere came LeBron James, seemingly shot out of a canon for one of his specialty chase down blocks.  Almost kissing the backboard with this maneuver, LeBron pinned the lay-up against the backboard, in what I would consider the greatest, most important block I have ever seen in my twenty-four years of life. That play, in essence, summed up the determination and drive that LeBron James showcased all finals long, to bring the illusive Larry O’Brien trophy to the land.  That play perfectly illustrated that LeBron was going to do any and everything, as unworldly as it may seem, to make sure that he accomplished this goal.  That play will go down as one of the greatest plays in NBA history.

On the path to this championship, LeBron and the Cavs faced the most difficult circumstances one could think of: facing the best regular season team in NBA history, the 2 time defending league MVP, the coach of the year, a well tested western conference team, a 3-1 deficit, etc., you name it.  They faced it, and they overcame it. LeBron put together what I would consider, in my biased opinion, the greatest NBA finals series in history.  Leading both teams in all major statistical categories, LeBron did just about everything anyone could ask of a man to do on a basketball court.  While he came out pretty passive and indecisive in the first two games, he did what any great NBA superstar would/should do on such a stage: make the right adjustments.  After those two relatively subpar games (for his standard), LeBron went on to finish with 29.7 points, 8.9 assists, 11.3 rebounds, 2.6 steals, 2.3 blocks in 42 minutes per game! These are the type of numbers one could only dream of while fantasizing through the “MyPlayer” mode on NBA 2K. With such a dominating performance, it was needless to say that he was the most valuable player out there amongst a group of world class athletes.

‘alas

Now that LeBron has accomplished what many doubted he would be able to, we are led to discuss the implications of this feat on his legacy.  I, for one, think that he has solidified his place in history as the greatest forward to ever lace ’em up.  I understand that he only has three rings, and that players such as Tim Duncan, Larry Bird, and even Julius Erving might have something to do say about that; however, I think it is a pretty one sided argument.  If you look at the totality of circumstances, LeBron James is undoubtedly the best forward to ever do it.  With 3 championships, 4 regular season MVPs, 3 final’s MVPS, 12 All star selections, 2 All-star MVPs, 2 Olympic Gold Medals, career averages of 27.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists, over the course of 13 NBA seasons, LeBron James is arguably the most decorated player to ever grace a basketball court. His ability to accomplish all of the above referenced, under such a bright constant spotlight, is impressive to say the least.

Despite all the greatness showcased, some critics will always dwell on his shortcomings. One thing that will always haunt LeBron is the fact that he is 3-4 in the NBA finals.  In my opinion, he should’ve been able to at least grab one more in the series against Dallas in 2012. In 2007, the Cavs were simply outmatched. In 2014, he faced a better team.  Last year, he gave his all but wasn’t able to overcome the better, deeper, Warriors team.  In 2012, however, I felt as though LeBron and his Heat teammates let one slip away, especially after a 2-0 series lead.  Critics may not go this deep in their analysis to come up with a fair conclusion; instead, they will always dwell on the fact that 4 championships slipped away from LeBron.  They will dwell on the fact that Michael never lost a finals series, or that Kobe won 5 of 7. They will overlook the circumstances, and instead point to the lack if a takeover mentality.

While the lack of a takeover mentality may nevertheless be a valid criticism, it does not diminish the body of work that LeBron has put together in his 13 seasons as an NBA player.  LeBron, in an unfinished career, has accomplished many goals that some of the greatest players in NBA history could only dream off. In my opinion, the only player stopping LeBron from being dubbed the “Greatest Player of All Time” is of course Michael Jordan. Nevertheless, If he were to decide to retire today, I believe that his work to date would be sufficient to solidify his legacy as the greatest forward to ever do it. Based on the standard he holds himself to, however, I believe that LeBron is coming back for much much more.  After all, he is only 31 years old. Watch out world, we may have more history to discuss in the upcoming years.

Photo Credits:

www.foxnews.com

ftw.usatoday.com

www.al.com 

 

2015/2016 NBA Regular Season: NAYked Truth Awards

The 2015/2016 NBA regular season gave hoop lovers yet another reason to be thankful for the good ole sport of basketball.  From Steph Curry’s heroics, to the Kobe Bryant farewell tour, each day in  this NBA season, up to the very last day, gave hoop fans a reason to tune in.  As the playoffs get under way, it is fitting for me to provide my “two cents” on the various awards that will (if not already done) be handed out,

MVP:

MVP

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

This is a no brainier, no need to argue further; moving on. Just kidding, but in actuality this really doesn’t create much of a debate. Steph Curry has dominated this league all season, in an average of 3 quarters a game. It is quite laughable to watch Steph essentially toy with opponents on a nightly basis, and do so effortlessly. Averaging 30.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and  6.7 assists in just about 34 minutes a game, Steph Curry went on to improve upon the MVP season that he had last year. Although I believed James Harden should’ve been the recipient of the award last year, Steph Curry is in a league of his own when it comes to the award this year. The only other candidate who is somewhat worthy of acknowledgement would be Russell Westbrook; otherwise, this isn’t even a conversation worth having. Steph is currently in a competition with himself to show the best version of himself that we have seen yet. Don’t be surprised if he comes back next season even better.

Rookie of the Year:

Big Kat, aka T.R.O.Y

Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves 

I must admit, when Karl-Anthony Towns was picked first overall by the Timberwolves in last year’s draft, I wasn’t so sure if they were making the right decision. 82 NBA games later, that decision was a no brainer for the Timberwolves front office. His numbers: 18 points and 10 rebounds a game, while impressive, do not do justice to how bright of a future this young Kat really has. The young man can do it all.  From posting up to handling the ball, playing defense to knocking down the long ball, the young man has proven to be leaps and bounds ahead of his peers.  The fact that he won the Skills Competition during the All-Star festivities (yes, a competition that involved NBA guards) goes to show how skilled and versatile he is. I foresee Kat turning into a top 10 player in the league within the next five years.  With the leadership of Coach Tom Thibodeau, I expect Kat to continue to develop, especially on the defensive end. At this present time nevertheless, he is undoubtedly the best rookie from last year’s draft; hence worthy of this award.

Defensive Player of the Year:

Most versatile defender in the league

Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

While this award has already been presented to Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs, I actually believe that Draymond Green was more deserving of the honor.  Kawhi Leonard is undoubtedly the best wing/perimeter defender in the league; however, I believe that Draymond Green has more of an impact defensively on the best team in the league. Draymond can guard any position on the court; from a point guard to a center. With his size and yet agility, he is effective on the pick and roll, as he is able to switch onto any opposing player.  One-on-one, he does as good of a job as anyone of making things difficult for the opposition. On the help side, he is always at the right place at the right time. Whether its stepping in for a charge, playing the passing lanes, or coming from the weak-side for an unexpected block, his defensive awareness is second to none. His contributions on the defensive end undoubtedly played a major role in the record setting year for the Golden State Warriors. For the foregoing reasons, he should’ve been the recipient of the Defensive Player of the Year Award.

Sixth Man of the Year:

Overlooked?

Enes Kanter, Oklahoma City Thunder

Jamal Crawford won this year’s Sixth Man of the Year, and deservingly so; however, I believe that Enes Kanter of the Oklahoma City Thunder was more deserving of the award.  Averaging 13 points and 8 rebounds off the bench, Kanter gave the Thunder a much need ed inside scoring source, one that came in handy when Durant and/or Westbrook needed a breather. His contributions in just over twenty minutes a game undoubtedly helped the Thunder get over some hurdles this season. While many may criticize him for his lack of defensive prowess, I do not take that into heavy consideration, as this award is mostly for players who are able to give their team an offensive punch off the bunch.  If defense was a factor, Jamal Crawford would not have three of these awards.

Most Improved Player of the Year:

Most Improved, no doubt

C.J. McCollum, Portland Trailblazers

The patience C.J. displayed in his first two seasons alone is worthy of some sort of recognition, as we all knew what this young man was capable of doing, if healthy and given the opportunity.  Nevertheless, CJ has taken the opportunity, and run away with it, exceeding expectations along the way.  While CJ’s game might not have improved vastly, he is finally getting the opportunity to showcase it. Making a jump from 7 points a game to 21 is an astronomical leap that is pretty much unheard of. He has gone from being a role player to a legitimate bucket giver in our beloved league. His improvements have earned the backcourt in Portland some much needed recognition, and a well deserved Most Improved Player of the Year award.

Coach of the Year:

Another remarkable season for Steve

Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors

I was hesitant to give this award to Steve, mostly because Luke Walton was at the helm for a good portion of those wins. Had the Celtics have finished 3rd or higher, Brad Stevens would’ve had my vote; however, that isn’t the case and so Steve Kerr essentially wins by default. No NBA team has won more than 73 games, and to lead the team to accomplish this feat is deserving of some recognition. For that reason, Steve (and Luke), you get the award for Coach of the year.

Photo Credits:

www.sportsonearth.com 

www.foxsports.com

www.bigplay.com

thunder.clutchpoints.com

www.foxsports.com

www.geeksandcleats.com