A Salute to the ABA!

Over the weekend, it dawned on me that all four of the basketball teams from the American Basketball Association back in 1976 were in the NBA’s first round playoffs this year.

The ABA’s Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, and the San Antonio Spurs all made it into the 2019 NBA playoffs.

This marks just the sixth season (out of 42 seasons since the NBA/ABA merger) that all four of the ABA’s surviving teams have made it into the NBA playoffs in the same year (1994, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2013). 

San Antonio has made it into the NBA playoffs for a record 22 straight seasons (winning five NBA championships during that time).  None of the other three ABA teams have won an NBA championship yet.

So, with the ABA quartet into the first round of the NBA playoffs, my ancient basketball brain took an enjoyable nostalgia trip back into the 1970’s to look at the always fun and suspenseful drama on the nine-year history of the ABA.

In the late 1960’s, it became clear that football’s American Football League was going to “make it” and join the established National Football League. 

The next great sports idea was to do it again – this time with a competing basketball league!

At the time the American Basketball Association was born in 1967, there were only ten NBA teams (there are now 30!). 

The ABA and began play in eleven cities.  Below is a list of the original teams and nicknames:

Indiana (Indianapolis) Pacers (as in the pace car at the Indy 500)

New York/New Jersey Americans (later changed nickname to “Nets”)

Denver Rockets (later changed nickname to “Nuggets”)

Dallas Chapparals (moved to San Antonio six years later and became the Spurs)

Kentucky (Louisville) Colonels (yes, as in “KFC”)

Houston Mavericks

Minnesota (Minneapolis) Muskies (a freshwater fish in northern states)

New Orleans Buccaneers

Oakland Oaks

Pittsburgh Pipers

Anaheim Amigos

Only the top four teams above ended- up coming into the NBA nine years later in 1976.  However, only the Indiana Pacers and the Kentucky Colonels stayed in the same city for all nine years of the ABA’s existence and never changed nicknames. 

The Denver Rockets officially changed their nickname in 1974 to “Nuggets” after the NBA moved the San Diego Rockets to Houston (a city which had failed miserably in the ABA).  By 1974, Denver was hopeful that their ABA team would be accepted into the NBA. Even if the league folded, the city felt comfortable that it would likely receive an NBA expansion team soon thereafter.

The Houston Mavericks’ ABA franchise was moved twice.  After two seasons in Houston playing to sparse crowds, the team moved to North Carolina and became the Carolina Cougars as it played home games in the cities of Greensboro, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem. 

Five years later, the team was moved again to St. Louis and became “The Spirits of St. Louis” for two seasons before the league was dissolved.  The team played to crowds in St. Louis of less than 1,000 per home game.

The owners in St. Louis had been left out of the NBA/ABA merger, but they demanded to receive a percentage “cut” of the future television revenues associated with the ABA franchises in perpetuity.   In the merger year of 1976, the NBA and ABA television revenues were relatively insignificant (a few million dollars per season). 

However, by the year 2012, reports claimed that the owners of the defunct St. Louis ABA franchise had received an estimated $255 million in television revenues since the league’s 1976 merger with the NBA.  In the past few years, the NBA negotiated a buy-out and renegotiated to award the ABA’s St. Louis owners over $500 million in cash and a much smaller future TV royalty percentage.

Meanwhile, other ABA franchises simply wandered from city to city and ultimately folded.

The Minnesota Muskies became the Miami Floridians after just one year in 1968.  Like the team in Carolina, the “Floridians” then traveled around the state with Miami, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Jacksonville, and West Palm Beach hosting “home” games for four years until the team folded in 1972.

The New Orleans Buccaneers swashbuckled their way to the first ABA championship back in 1968.  By 1970, the team moved to Memphis (nicknames ranged from Pros, Sounds, and TAM’s (Tennessee-Arkansas-Mississippi – GENIUS, eh?). 

In 1975, the team moved to Baltimore and renamed the “Hustlers”.  After public protests prior to their first game, the team changed names to “Claws”.  They folded during the Preseason in Baltimore in 1975! 

The Oakland Oaks survived for two seasons before moving to Washington (Capitals) in 1969.  After only one season, the team relocated to Virginia and, like Carolina and Miami, traveled from city to city (Norfolk, Hampton, Richmond, and Roanoke) for their home games for the next six seasons before the team folded just one month prior to the ABA/NBA deal in 1976.

The Pittsburgh Pipers played one year in the Steel City and then, despite solid attendance (by ABA standards, that is), moved to Minneapolis for its second season.  Lack of attendance in Minnesota in 1968 forced the team to move back to Pittsburgh in 1969. 

The team came back to Pittsburgh but the fans weren’t happy that the Pipers “played them” (pun intended).  So, management opted for a “Name the Team” contest. 

The winning entry was the Pittsburgh Pioneers.   A local college already had the Pioneer moniker and threatened to sue!  Thus, the team became known at the Pittsburgh Condors for three seasons before the team folded in 1972 (four years before the NBA/ABA merger).

The original Anaheim Amigos became the Los Angeles Stars in 1968 after just one season.  After two lackluster years in the big city, the Stars relocated to Salt Lake City and became the Utah Stars.  

The Utah Stars drew great crowds (8,500 per game), but the owner apparently wasn’t very good at managing the team’s expenses. The team folded in 1975 after the owner missed the team’s payroll.   

Eventually, Utah’s fans were rewarded and Salt Lake City eventually received an NBA team in 1979 when the New Orleans Jazz NBA franchise owner relocated his team there (and, oddly enough, didn’t change the team’s nickname).  The Utah Jazz still play in today’s NBA.

The American Basketball Association brought the red, white, and blue basketball (which I still love), the three-point shot (which the NBA finally adopted in 1969), and added a significant increase of player talent such as future Hall-of-Famers Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Moses Malone, Dan Issel, Artis Gilmore, and my personal favorite, sharpshooting guard, Louie Dampier

The ABA’s teams and talented players gave the NBA some much needed energy and innovation at a time when professional basketball was struggling to find its niche.

SwampSwami salutes and will forever treasure his memories of the ABA! 

Time for another diaper change!

You can guarantee one thing about basketball’s LeBron James

Every season, no matter where he is located, there will be controversy and drama.  Sometimes (three times during his career, to be exact) there will be joy, too.

Ever since emerging as one of the final NBA players who arrived in the league straight out of high school, LeBron James’ career has been marked (and marketed) by a litany of annual angst. 

Yes, he won two NBA titles when playing in Miami and another in 2016 after he returned to Cleveland. 

But…

It seems that nearly everywhere James goes to play basketball, there is a trail of coaches and/or teammates who are tossed overboard if the self-proclaimed “King” isn’t happy. 

This year, LeBron took his almost 35-year old talents to LaLa Land to play for the Los Angeles Lakers.  For a guy who dominated in the NBA’s weaker Eastern Conference for his entire career, coming west to Los Angeles seemed to meet a few career checkmarks.

By moving to LA, LeBron James would position himself in the area where he already owned a home.

Next, James would be located in a city where his ever-expanding media profile could grow even larger.  Between basketball and LeBron’s interest in marketing his name in film and television, TinselTown is the place to be.

Lastly, James could (potentially) separate himself from Michael Jordan as basketball’s #1 name brand if he could somehow turn around the moribund Lakers from losers into NBA champions again. 

And what better city to write that story, eh?

After his first year in Los Angeles, LeBron James’ grand plan has started to unravel.  Sure, he may be personally comfortable ($30 million per year playing basketball can do that), and he’s already immersing himself into the television and film production business.

Basketball?  Oops.  LeBron’s appearance in a Lakers uniform this season did not translate into the team making the playoffs. 

Prior to the coming of King LeBron, the Los Angeles Lakers sported a record of 35-47.

This year?  The Lakers improved to 37-45 (just two games better) and failed to qualify for the playoffs for the sixth straight season.   

The one thing we know about LeBron James is that he doesn’t willingly accept much (if any) of the blame.  LeBron’s overbearing presence on the basketball court didn’t seem to elevate his teammates’ performance, while his meddling behind the scenes may have been a bigger part of why the Lakers failed to improve after his first year in Los Angeles. 

Making matters worse, an 80-year old Los Angeles Lakers Hall-of-Famer by the name of Jerry West has quietly managed to dump all of the big-named stars at the cross-town rivals, Los Angeles Clippers.  Instead of going to the bottom, West’s Clippers are in the NBA playoffs right now, while LeBron James sits at home for the post-season and ponders his next move (or movie?).

LeBron James isn’t happy.  History says, “When LeBron’s not happy, it’s time to clear out the nursery room”! 

Already, the Lakers front office has begun to crumble after the failed expectations of this season. 

Before the Lakers final game last week, another Lakers legend, Magic Johnson, abruptly quit his position as President of the team.  He did so without even telling his boss!   In true LA style, Magic held a press conference and explained to everyone else why he thought it was time to go.

He wasn’t having any fun!  Seriously.  So, Magic Johnson walked away after a turbulent season trying to manage the ego of one of the NBA’s best players who also happens to be most difficult personalities to control in the game.     

After the Lakers final game last week, head coach Luke Walton was fired.  Depending on whom you listen to, Walton and LeBron James never got along very well (a common theme in James’ relationships with several coaches during his career).    

Ironically, Luke Walton was immediately hired this week by the Lakers’ NBA Western conference rival Sacramento Kings.  Apparently, other people in the NBA believe that the problems in Los Angeles this season were not the result of bad coaching. 

So, the President and the Head Coach are now gone.  That leaves the Lakers’ General Manager, Rob Pelinka, as the last person standing in a key management role. 

Since assuming his job two seasons ago, Pelinka hasn’t been successful by any means.  Believe it or not, he had no prior experience in his GM job, though. 

Rob Pelinka was an NBA player’s agent prior to being hired by the Lakers!  Yes, that’s the guy who does his best to get as much money for his players so that he, too, makes more money. 

I guess the Lakers felt like, “If you can’t beat ‘em, hire ‘em”!

He seemed to be the most likely person who SHOULD have been fired, but he may be spared from the current Lakers’ management dumpster fire.

And this is where LeBron James returns to our story.

After running off one coach in Cleveland (David Blatt), James was instrumental in getting former Los Angeles Lakers guard, Tyronn Lue, promoted and hired in Cleveland to coach LeBron and the Cavaliers in 2016.

Lo and behold, the Cleveland Cavaliers became the NBA champions the same year!  

Alas, LeBron left Cleveland last season in 2018 and stranded his little buddy, Tyronn Lue, with a team of Gilligan’s Island-like castaways.  Lue was fired after only six games (0-6 start) with the LeBron-less Cavaliers this season.  

Now, the great puppet master, LeBron James, is pushing the proverbial “Last Man Standing” of this sinking Lakers’ ship (Rob Pelinka) to hire his good buddy, Tyronn Lue, as the new head coach for the Lakers. 

Since Pelinka’s leash is likely short and ownership is fully onboard with the current “All LeBron, All the Time” show in LakerLand, Tyronn Lue should be considered as the front runner for the coaching job.

After that, LeBron can resume pulling Pelinka’s strings to bring in a few expensive free agent players (assuming any significant NBA stars would take the cash in order to play second fiddle to “King” James, that is).

Of course, LeBron could be setting the table to become either the General Manager or even the coach himself. 

Regardless of the short-term outcome, there is one thing I feel certain about. 

LeBron James is going to create more unrest for the Lakers until he gets his “change”. 

The smell coming from the Los Angeles Lakers organization in the past week indicates that someone needs to deliver a new nanny and a big box of Pampers to take care of the NBA’s biggest baby – quickly! 

Sweep-the-SwampCast! March 29, 2019

If you’re over 50 (yes, I am ancient!), you probably remember a country music-oriented comedy television show called “Hee Haw!“? Every week, the cast performed a variation of a funny song called “Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me!“.

That little ditty sums up my NCAA men’s and women’s basketball brackets! Poof! Gone for another year!

In today’s weekly audio podcast, I’ll discuss the sad state of my college basketball picks, talk about the New Orleans Saints’ rule change “victory” at the NFL owners’ meeting this week, the latest problems for the fledgling AAF league, XFL owner, Vince McMahon, cashes out 3 million shares of WWE stock to fund his new venture, Arizona Cardinals’ coach Cliff Kingsbury’s “Cell Phone Breaks” for NFL players, and the jersey retirement ceremony for Miami Heat basketball player, Chris Bosh.

All of our shows are available to you via Apple Podcasts. Subscribe today – it’s FREE!

Sweep-the-SwampCast! March 23, 2019

With the NCAA Men’s and Women’s March Madness Basketball tournaments now underway, ol’ SwampSwami is doing his best to catch as many games as possible!

On today’s weekly podcast, we’ll discuss both the men’s and women’s tournaments and admire the heroics of the NBA Houston Rockets’ guard, James Harden. We’ll also review the latest from the Association of American Football (AAF) and analyze some potential rule changes which may be coming in the NFL. Finally, we’ll tip our sports cap to retiring baseball legend, Ichiro Suzuki!

To listen, click on the link above or subscribe for our FREE podcasts on Apple Podcasts!

Beware of Toxic Divas

At all levels of the game of basketball, the championship teams are usually comprised of players who are fully committed to the team’s goals and enthusiastically give each game their very best efforts. 

At each higher level of competition, it is increasingly rare that that a team dominated by the personality of one or two key basketball players will secure a team championship.

On both the East and West coasts, legendary NBA teams in Boston and Los Angeles are both currently floundering due to bad chemistry associated with the addition of toxic player personalities who may believe that that the team’s other players (and, perhaps, coach) should follow their lead in order to succeed. 

The Boston Celtics finished second in the NBA Eastern Conference last season and made it to the Conference finals without having their “star” player (Kyrie Irving) available due to injury.

This season, the team was expected to contend for the top position in the East as Irving and former Utah Jazz leading scorer Gordon Hayward rejoined the team.  On paper, this year’s Celtics were loaded with talent. 

With having healthy starters, the Boston Celtics have now lost seven of their last ten games and have dropped into fifth place in the NBA East.  As mentioned in previous articles on this site, the Celtics have won a higher percentage of games when Kyrie Irving is not on the floor for the team.    

On the West Coast, the Los Angeles Lakers management figured the team would be a virtual lock to return to the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2013 by adding LeBron James to their squad this season.  Though James was injured for a few weeks last month, he is now back on the floor, but his Lakers (like the Boston Celtics) are a pitiful 3-7 in their last ten games coming down the final month of the NBA’s regular season.   

The Lakers are floundering with a team record of 30-34 as of today and are mired in tenth place in the NBA Western Conference.  The team is currently 5 ½ games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

The Lakers’ playoff chances are fading fast and will require a miraculous finish. 

By comparison, last year’s young Lakers (without LeBron James) finished in 11th place in the NBA Western Conference.  Adding one of the NBA’s legendary individual talents has not translated into a significant increase in wins this season for the Los Angeles Lakers.

As in politics, the media certainly doesn’t help the situation, either.  In Los Angeles and Boston, the media floated all sorts of rumors and a frenzy of hype relating to possible trade scenarios for each team as the Lakers and Celtics try to acquire the services of New Orleans Pelicans talented big man, Anthony Davis

Rumors flew that the Lakers were willing to trade multiple current players at mid-season in a trade for Davis.  In Boston, the media lit the fires and let it be known that New Orleans prefers one or more of the Celtics young talented players if Boston hopes to make a deal to acquire Davis this summer. 

It’s bad enough in LA and Boston to have a self-centered diva in your locker room.  The Anthony Davis trade talks, though, have likely had a more negative influence on the other players’ focus and motivation as players wonder who might be getting shipped to New Orleans in mere months.   (Note – Personally, I’d rather live in New Orleans anyway!)

Meanwhile, some NBA teams which do not feature a household name basketball star are doing just fine this season. 

The Indiana Pacers are currently in third place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.  The Pacers recently lost their best-known player, Victor Oladipo, a month ago due to injury, but his teammates have continued to rally and keep Indiana in the third playoff spot in the East.

Though losing a twenty points-per-game scorer is a big loss to the Pacers, having enough foresight and financial resources to stock your bench with able teammates and a talented leader in Coach Nate McMillian has made a big difference, too. 

In the NBA Western Conference, the quiet irony in “The City of Angels” has been the resurgence of the currently star-less Los Angeles Clippers.  Under the guiding hand of “Special Consultant” 80-year old advisor, Jerry West, and veteran coach, Doc Rivers, the Clippers jettisoned three of their former “stars” (guard Chris Paul – to Houston, forward Blake Griffin – to Detroit, and center DeAndre Jordan – to Dallas) and have quickly rebuilt themselves into a hungry playoff contender without a big name player on the roster. 

The Los Angeles Clippers beat the crosstown rival Lakers last night 113-105.  The team has won three games in a row and seven of their last ten. 

The Clippers currently occupy the seventh playoff spot in the NBA Western Conference with 16 games left to play while LeBron’s Lakers are fading quickly out of the playoff picture.  The LA Clippers are playing well together as a team. 

The moral of the story is that basketball was, is, and will remain a team sport. 

Just by having one or two exceptional players on your roster doesn’t guarantee a thing.  Like Golden State Warriors have shown, star talent only makes a significant difference if the entire roster is dedicated to giving their all to win a team championship.

If the stars have a different personal agenda than the coach and the rest of the team, then the team’s chemistry sometimes bursts into flames regardless of how the glorious the personal statistics may have seemed on paper.

Team chemistry matters when it comes to winning team championships. 

Sweep-the-SwampCast #4 – March 1, 2019

As we wrap-up this week in sports, SwampSwami’s weekly audio podcast features an update on Johnny Football, the cool military logo of the AAF’s San Diego Fleet, a couple of newly-wealthy baseball players, the long-overdue change to the NBA’s “One-and-Done” player draft age limits, golf’s Jordan Spieth, the surprising LSU and University of Houston basketball teams, and we honor former basketball legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

All SwampSwami.com podcasts are now available via Apple Podcasts. Please subscribe today – it’s FREE!

SwampSwami’s improved NBA All-Star Weekend!

It’s nearly time for the NBA All-Star weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina! 

In days gone by, the NBA All-Star weekend was a special annual event for professional basketball fans.

In days gone by, the All-Star weekend allowed fans to see their favorite players gathered together in one arena with the East All-Stars squaring off against the West All-Stars.

In days gone by, the NBA All-Star game featured at least one player from every team in the league on the roster.

Times have changed, and, sadly, those days are gone!

This weekend, you’ll see “Team LeBron James” against “Team Giannis Antetokounmpo”.  LeBron James was the leader in fan voting from the NBA’s Western Conference and Giannis A. received the most votes for players in the Eastern Conference.

Logically, many fans would assume that Team LeBron would be comprised of the top five Western All-Stars voted by the fans, and Team Giannis would be leading his other four Eastern conference fan choices in the respective starting line-ups.

Nope. 

The NBA All-Star game actually had a televised “draft” last week where LeBron James and Giannis A. made alternating picks from the fans’ top choices (five from each conference)  and those “reserves” chosen by the NBA head coaches (seven from each conference). 

If your favorite NBA team is Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, or the New York Knicks in the East, you won’t be represented.  Western teams in Salt Lake City (Utah), Sacramento, Memphis, Phoenix, and the Los Angeles Clippers will be on the outs, too.

Don’t gloat, Miami and Dallas!  The only reason you have a Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitski on the roster is because of a special “last chance” invite as these two players are retiring at the end of the season.

Team LeBron will be coached by Mike Malone of the Western Conference leading Denver Nuggets while Team Giannis will be coached by his own coach, Mike Budenholzer, of the Eastern leaders in Milwaukee. 

Is it just me or don’t you expect that LeBron will fire his coach by halftime and name himself as coach for the second half?   

In addition to the All-Star game on Sunday night, there will be other events designed to take money away from the paying customers this weekend in Charlotte. 

On Friday night, some fans will pay money to watch an “All-Star Celebrity Challenge” game featuring a few retired stars, some WNBA players, at least one rapper, some comedians, and more! 

If that wasn’t enough, the NBA’s “Rising Stars” will play an exhibition game featuring Team US vs. Team World (players with oversees roots).    Sadly, Lonzo Ball will not play due to injury, but I would really consider watching this game if his Dad, LaVar Ball, took his place in the line-up!

On Saturday, it’s the recently added “Skills” (yawn) challenge plus the annual 3-point shooting contest followed by the (bigger yawn) slam dunk challenge.

Ironically, there are ten contestants for the 3-point contest, eight players in the skills challenge, and just four this season competing in the slam dunk contest.  

Though I doubt the NBA pays attention to my ideas, I hereby propose the following changes for the weekend to make the NBA All-Star weekend more fan friendly:

  1. One player is selected from each NBA team.  That should help increase fan interest.
  2. Do away with the “Team LeBron” and “Team Giannis” stuff.  Go back to West vs. East for fans.
  3. The Starters (selected by the fans) play in quarters 1 and 4 (unless injured).  The reserves will play quarters 2 and 3, but each reserve must play for at least six minutes total for the game. 
  4. Do away with the Friday night stuff.  Nobody cares.
  5. On Saturday, do away with the Slam Dunk competition.  Absolutely nobody cares anymore.
  6. On Saturday, do away with the Skills challenge (it will be modified…stay tuned – the fun is starting). 
  7. On Saturday, first play an “NBA Rookies vs. NBA Legends” 20 minute game.  Everyone loves to see some of their old favorites, and the Rookies get to meet their heroes.  Game sponsored by Sportscreme! 
  8. On Saturday, all players selected for Sunday’s All-Star game must play in at least one of the following: (a) 3-point shooting contest; (b) “H-O-R-S-E” competition (no dunking allowed unless both challengers agree); (c) “Around-the-World” shooting challenge game; and (d) Free throw shooting contest.

In each event, the winner receives $100,000 to be donated to a predetermined charity of his choice with runner-up(s) receiving $50,000 going to a charity cause.   The NBA will make those donations from profits derived from the weekend’s proceeds!  

The Saturday night event should be about the All-Stars.  The competitions are not physical, so there is relatively no chance for players to get injured prior to Sunday’s game.

The Sunday All-Star game winning team should feature a higher NBA charity donation coming from the winning team and a lesser (but reasonable) amount donated on behalf of the losing squad.  Those donations should be made directly to the charities based in the All-Star host city. 

How about a new NBA All-Star weekend slogan?  “A good time for some great causes”.

You’re welcome, NBA!   

Sweep-the-Swampcast #1 – Feb. 8, 2019

Your SwampSwami had more to say this week about the NBA’s trade deadline on Thursday, the NFL’s finale last weekend, a surprising golf story and problems with recent rule changes, and how one NBA player swatted down questions from someone in the sports media earlier this week.

This show is audio only! Check out the audio above or subscribe via iTunes (it’s FREE!).

NBA’s “Let’s Make A Deal” Week!

Now that the NFL season has concluded, it’s time for the NBA to grab the spotlight this week with many teams scrambling to make mid-season player trades prior to this Thursday’s (February 7) 2PM CST deadline.

Some perpetual non-playoff teams will likely be involved in transactions which will make you ask “Why would they do that”?  In many cases, it is probably an act of desperation by a deal junkie General Manager who believes that the new player(s) will give hope for a playoff run.

When you read about deals like this, a collective yawn is in order this week.  In all likelihood, most of the teams making deals this week are simply dumpster diving.     

In the case of the Dallas Mavericks, though, last week’s fishing expedition reeled in a potential game changer.

The Mavericks made a multi-player deal with the New York Knicks to obtain 7’3” sharpshooter Kristaps Porzingis.

For the Mavs, the newly acquired player gives the city some title hopes down the line as they now have two All-Star talents (along with Dallas rookie, Luka Doncic).

For the Knicks, the team now appears to be propelling itself toward the bottom of the standings in an effort to land the first pick in next season’s NBA draft.  If the Knicks should draft Duke’s Zion Williamson and, if, potentially, the team could lure an established NBA star to the Big Apple, then New York fans have been dealt some renewed hope.

In Dallas, the team now has a legitimate foundation to sell season tickets.

In New York, the team is saying “Trust me (again)”.  Caveat emptor.

Meanwhile, there is a big buzz in the air this week that another of the NBA’s top players might be dealt to another team by the end of this week.

Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans advised the team recently that he wants out and will not sign another contract extension to stay in the Crescent City.  The 6’ 11” Davis, who averages 29 points per game and 10 rebounds for the Pelicans, believes that the city’s basketball franchise will never be able to bring a title to the Big Easy.

Davis has let it be known that he would love to be dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers and play hoops with the aging LeBron James

According to sources, Magic Johnson (General Manager of the Lakers) has offered up to five of the Lakers’ younger players and two #1 draft picks for Anthony Davis.

For the Lakers and the NBA, the league’s popularity will leap should the Lakers start contending for a title again.

What about New Orleans, you ask?  Why would New Orleans send its best player to another Western Conference competitor? 

Think “big picture” along with me for a moment. 

With the deflation of any hope of short-term basketball success in New Orleans, the Anthony Davis deal may cleverly serve to nudge the New Orleans franchise to move to another city in the next year or two (get ready, Seattle!) as the Pelicans fans turn against the local basketball team.

The current owner of the Pelicans is Gayle Benson, widow of Tom Benson.  The Benson family also owns the New Orleans Saints of the NFL. 

By selling the Pelicans to Seattle, the Benson family could pocket up to $2 Billion for their NBA team while building a virtual moat to keep the city’s beloved Saints as the only professional sports franchise in Louisiana.

The Saints’ star quarterback Drew Brees will eventually retire, and Saints fans could be in store for a few rebuilding years.

If you were the Benson family, why not cash-out and sell New Orleans’ NBA team to a city willing to pay an inflated price, put the money in the bank, and avoid the costs of rebuilding two professional franchises in New Orleans instead of just one? 

The NBA would regain the #14 television market in Seattle while “losing” New Orleans at #50.  The other 29 NBA owners wouldn’t veto that kind of deal, either.    

With Seattle’s new downtown basketball arena now under construction, don’t be surprised to find the NBA’s Pelicans flying northwest soon.

With the NBA’s “Let’s Make a Deal” week underway, watch closely as some teams’ fans will win the NBA’s “Big Deal of the Day” while others will certainly get “Zonked” yet again!

Coming soon – The Three Amigos of L.A.

Basketball’s Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans told the team (and the rest of America) this week that he would not be signing a contract extension with the team this summer and wants to play somewhere else.

Though the timing of Davis’ announcement was like another gut-punch to the city of New Orleans after the Saints’ controversial home loss to the Rams, Davis is not a “bad guy” simply trying to make more money in a bidding war. 

By staying put in New Orleans, the NBA rules allow the Pelicans the chance to pay him significantly more money than another NBA team can.

Anthony Davis simply believes that the New Orleans Pelicans will never compete for an NBA title.   Though Davis is only 25 years old (after a “one-and-done” year at the NBA’s unofficial development league franchise otherwise known as the University of Kentucky), he has been a consistent high level performer for New Orleans.

In six seasons, Davis has been selected to the first team All NBA squad three times and has played in five NBA All-Star games.  Averaging 23 points and over ten rebounds per game over his brief NBA career, he is considered the best big man in the league.

The New Orleans Pelicans have made the NBA playoffs twice during Anthony Davis’ six years.  Both times, the team failed to make the conference finals.

Davis believes that New Orleans won’t be able to build a championship team around him. 

He wants out, and, to me, the fix appears to be in.

Enter LeBron James (it’s OK to “Boo” here).

LeBron’s history is that he realizes that it takes more than one “star” to win an NBA championship.  That’s why he initially left Cleveland for Miami to team-up with Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade.   

After garnering two NBA championships in four seasons at Miami (2012 and 2013), LeBron James returned to Cleveland.  While there, he teamed with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving to win another ring in Cleveland in 2016. 

James left Cleveland and signed with the Los Angeles Lakers beginning this season.  Though the young Lakers have certainly improved by having the 35-year old veteran on the squad, LeBron’s time is running short to win yet another NBA championship in La-La-Land.

Enter Anthony Davis. 

Last year, Davis fired his previous agent and hired the same agent as (you guessed it) LeBron James. 

Last summer, Davis purchased a $7.5 million home in (you guessed it) Los Angeles!

Who do you think has the upper hand in signing Anthony Davis now?

But, doesn’t LeBron need a third “star” to complete his previous formula for success?

Enter Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics.

As stated by this writer in a previous post, Kyrie Irving hasn’t (yet) produced the championship level results that Celtics fans had hoped for after he bailed out of Cleveland two years ago.

However, Irving has apparently caught the acting “bug” while filming his “Uncle Drew” movie last season in (you guessed it!) Hollywood.

Would you also believe that Kyrie Irving announced yesterday that he will be both the producer and star of another movie soon?  

And isn’t it convenient that Irving’s contract in Boston ends this summer? 

Gee, I wonder where Kyrie Irving would prefer to make his permanent home soon?

LeBron James (at least according to the organizational charts) theoretically works for the Lakers’ General Manager, Magic Johnson. 

Don’t be surprised if you see deals made to ship out nearly every one of the Lakers’ youth brigade (along with future draft picks) as the team goes “all in” to sign Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving this summer.

If Anthony Davis or Kyrie Irving should end-up somewhere other than Los Angeles, there’s always former San Antonio Spurs and now Toronto Raptors’ star, Kawhi Leonard.  He becomes a free agent this summer, too.

Earlier this month, Kawhi Leonard plunked down over $13 million for a home in southern California.  He was born and raised in the Los Angeles area and played college hoops at San Diego State. 

Word also has it that LeBron James doesn’t think that current Lakers’ coach Luke Walton is championship material, either.

Any bets on how long Luke Walton lasts with the Lakers?

Get ready, Los Angeles!   “Showtime – Part 2” is being assembled right now.

The NBA’s new “Three Amigos” are coming your way soon.