February is one of my favorite months for sports because of the Super Bowl, pitchers in MLB report to spring training, college basketball is starting to get down to the wire, and NBA All-Star Weekend. This year, the festive event will take place in New Orleans. I took a trip to New Orleans in May of 2015, and that was one of the best experiences of my life. The culture in “NOLA” is truly one of a kind. The original destination was Charlotte, but due to anti-gay laws within the state, the NBA elected to change locations. The NBA just hosted the All-Star Game New Orleans in 2014.
Besides Kyrie Irving’s belief that the world is flat, the most intriguing headline of the weekend is Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook reuniting as teammates. Their brotherly friendship has been derailed since KD’s departure to Golden State. The two has yet attempted to patch things up so that should make way for an interesting interaction in the locker room.
The events for Saturday includes the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, JBL Three-Point Contest, and the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest. I’m picking Isaiah Thomas for the Skills Challenge, Nick Young for the Three-Point Contest, and Glenn Robinson III for the Slam Dunk Contest.
As for the NBA All-Star Game itself, I have Anthony Davis as the MVP. With that being said, I hope all the events live up to the hype! JGOOD
If you ever lived in Northwest Indiana and have been involved in sports, you will know that this area is called “The Region”. The Region has produced many pro and collegiate athletes in different sports over the past few decades like former MLB center fielder Kenny Lofton (East Chicago, IN). He was a 6x all-star and a 4x gold glove winner. Another is current Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kawaan Short (East Chicago, IN). In 2015, he was named to the Pro Bowl and was second-team All-Pro.
However, Indiana is known as the Hoosier State. There’s been plenty of successful basketball outcomes from The Region like Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson (Gary, IN), who happens to be an alum from my high school, Roosevelt, in Gary. Robinson was the number 1 overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft (to the Milwaukee Bucks). He averaged over 20 ppg for his career, was a 2x all-star, and won a championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 2005. Over the past 10 years, more players have been exposed to the NBA like Glenn Robinson III (Gary, IN, and currently with the Indiana Pacers), E’Twaun Moore (East Chicago, IN, and currently with the New Orleans Pelicans), Robbie Hummel (Valparaiso, IN), Branden Dawson (Gary, IN), and Mitch McGary (Chesterton, IN).
We even have athletes now that are already in division 1 or division 1-bound. Charles Cooper, a senior guard at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, helped the Phoenix during the 2015-16 season reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1996. Dana Evans, senior guard at Gary West Side High School, is currently ranked #3 at the point guard, and #7 overall for the 2017 class by ESPN. She has committed to Louisville.
My friend Leroy Cooper, who is also a part of our basketball network and former intramural basketball teammate, is the co-founder (along with Mr. Daniel Baker) of Circle of Men Athletics (COMA; @Circle_of_Men) . Every since I met Leroy, he has always been the type to lead and show support for others.
COMA is an organization in Gary Indiana focused on the development of inner city athletes on and off the court…1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
Leroy, who played his last two years of college basketball and spend the following year as assistant head coach at formerly Purdue University Calumet (now Purdue University Northwest), wants help student-athletes on and off the court.
The purpose is to instill life beyond talent for inner city athletes…provide mentorship, training, life skills and exposure to guys with athletic abilities.
In this day and age where violence seems to be at an all-time high (especially the way the city of Chicago is right now), it’s wonderful to know something like COMA is taking place within The Region. However, this organization has plans on spreading the helping hand.
Our vision is to take our not for profit worldwide and change the world through God’s anointing. Changing lives and giving people opportunities to advance through life is God’s kingdom on earth. Our staff is really passionate about our organization, and we have a great success rate so far. We started the organization in 2014 and have placed 78 guys in college on athletic scholarships. Our next showcase is April 22nd, 2017.
The more I looked into COMA, the more impressed I’ve become. This organization has the chance to become something iconic. Sending 78 young men to college in that short amount of time is the one thing that’s sticking out to me. I support anyone that’s trying to do something positive with the youth and the community. Leroy, continue striving for excellence with this program and don’t let any obstacle prevent you from your vision.
Last week, I mentioned that I was part of a basketball network at Purdue University Northwest. Apparently, some people within this unofficial fraternity has experienced some unbelievable moments and rare opportunities. A prime example of this is my good friend Angel Martin de Soto, who was the personal assistant of Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic. I’ve known Angel since 2011 when he first came to the United States from Spain.
He’s one of the best all-around basketball players I ever played with (intramural basketball teammates). From his home country of Spain, Angel has been playing basketball since the age of six. He has played with the youth teams of Unicaja Malaga, one of the Top 5 teams in Spain. Angel has also played 4 years semi-pro in the 3rd Division in Spain.
If you don’t know, Nikola Mirotic is from Spain as well. The 6 foot 10 inch forward was drafted by Houston Rockets with the 23rd overall pick in 2011, but his draft rights were ultimately traded to the Chicago Bulls. Mirotic stayed in Spain until 2014, where he and Real Madrid (basketball team in Spain) reached a buyout of his contract.
I’ve been a Bulls fan ever since I can remember. When Angel first told me about his unusual opportunity back in April of 2015, I was stunned (I actually have that conversation saved on Facebook).
The reason why I worked for him, it is because Nikola was looking for an assistant that help them with their daily basis in his freshman year. I have a really good relation with his agent and he called me to have a interview.
Even though this job was an experience of a lifetime, just like any job, it came with some hard work and some inconvenient duties.
Everyday was different. It was basically 24/7 on call for whatever they (him and his wife) might need. I usually help them with their personal documents, travel arrangements, game day assistance, like hosting the guests, get their tickets and passes. Also, few times we did some shooting practice in his days off.
On the positive side, just like any job, there are a few benefits that make it worth your time there.
The fact that both Angel and Nikola Mirotic are from Spain was probably the icing on the cake during their time together. To have someone with you from the same country when trying to adjust to another country’s culture makes the transition less hectic. Angel stopped working for Nikola Mirotic this past August to move back to Spain, but he has truly helped Mirotic adjust to the American culture. As long as Nikola Mirotic is a Chicago Bulls player, I will continue to cheer for him, especially knowing one of my friends has assisted him off the court.
When you’re in college, you tend to meet a lot of people. At Purdue University Northwest (formally Purdue University Calumet), we built a network for basketball players for open gym sessions. I’ve seen plenty of talent come and go over the years, but Alex Richman is one of a kind. He’s very instinctive, has a high basketball IQ, underrated ball handling and court vision, and has one the best jump shots I’ve ever witnessed with my own eyes. Richman is a true competitor that doesn’t take kindly to losing and demands the best out of his teammates.
Before coming to Purdue, Alex went to Praire View A & M, a mid-major Division I school. Here’s some footage of Richman against other D1 schools, such as Hawaii and Baylor below:
Richman played for Praire View A & M for two years before ending up at Abilene Christain University and ultimately Purdue University Calumet for his senior season. The Melbourne, Florida native also played soccer (team captain) for the Peregrines during his last year of his college eligibility.
Basketball after college didn’t stop for Richman, as he played semi-professionally with the Arizona Scorpions of the American Basketball Association (ABA) and the Florida Flight of the Florida Basketball Association (FBA). Here are some highlights below from each team.
As you can see from the highlights, the 6 foot 2 guard has the ability not only to make shots and score the ball, but he has the vision to consistently find his teammates. After his stellar performance in the FBA in 2015 (29.2 ppg, 4.6 apg, six 35+ point games, 2nd consecutive all-star appearance), Richman was able to get a tryout and eventually signed with the Harlem Globetrotters for their international 90th-anniversary world tour.
Yes I’m still with the globetrotters. I’m what they call a “taxi” player. If they need a man for a tour then they would call me. I am still working with an agency as well and would pursue an overseas opportunity if it did end up happening. As of now I’m happily content with the globetrotters because they are one of the best in the business world at what they do and take care of their players with great respect.
Everything that Richman has achieved cannot be matched by many, and that’s a testament to his hard work ethic and love for the game. What makes the Florida native the ultimate teammate is that he started “F.A.I.T.H.” (Faith Allows Innovative Training Here). F.A.I.T.H. is an elite basketball training program in Brevard County, Florida.
My vision is to impact as many lives as I can in the community I grew up in. Brevard county isn’t known for basketball but there is so much hidden talent with no one searching. Not only do I train them to reach their full potential but I’m also a mentor to them and help them get to the next level of basketball they want to pursue. I have a great little circle of college, prep, and aau coaches who keep in contact with me and keep an eye on kids I post.
Alex Richman has worked with several high school athletes to prep them for the next level of their athletic careers. Some of the drills are very unique, but all of them are strenuous.
Richman also doesn’t allow his trainees to establish bad habits such as disrespect, a bad temper, lack of promptness, laziness, and selfishness. These 5 attributes are something that college coaches don’t want to see and will not tolerate from their players. If you have Instagram, follow his page @faith.basketball and check out the videos of the intense workouts.
When you able to share your talents and gifts to help others become better, you are truly achieving greatness. Personally, it takes a humble person to display such acts. I hope Alex continues to use his resources for the greater good, shows humility, and stays a role model for the younger generation. I wish F.A.I.T.H. and your basketball career nothing but that best. Keep up the good work!
The Movement is for helping my community by providing opportunities to help those who have similar dreams, visions, and goals of helping others through sports. Sports are one of the few activities that brings people together no matter their culture, ethnicity,and background. Sports also helps our youth stay away from violence and demonstrates the value of teamwork, commitment, and effort. Ultimately, this will help promote growth of positive influence within our society. Please support the cause by purchasing a T-shirt today! Click Here To Order.
This was my first time doing a live draft, and as the commissioner of my league, I’ve decided to host the event at a local Buffalo Wild Wings. The combination of friends, food, drinks, sports, and trash talking was exhilarating. Just being amongst good company in person enhanced the experience.
We were able to sit in the bar area with enough space to be comfortable. The restaurant supplied us with a draft kit that consisted of a draft board, a banner for the winner, a license plate cover for the loser, coupons, and other welcoming items.
The draft itself was interesting nonetheless. There were a few unexpected picks that made some people revise their strategy. Regardless of what happened during the draft, everyone enjoyed themselves and wants to do it again next year.
In this particular league, we start 2 quarterbacks, and personally, this was the best team (Nino Brown) I ever selected. This is a PPR (points per reception) format with 17 rounds in the draft. Just being able to take Antonio Brown with the second overall pick made everything else easier for me in the later rounds. I feel like I’m the team to beat but you need the judge. My team consists of:
Antonio Brown, Lamar Miller, LeSean McCoy, Ben Roethlisberger, Julian Edelman, Tom Brady, Randall Cobb, Demarco Murray, Sterling Shepard, Philip Rivers, Marvin Jones, Antonio Gates, Matt Jones, Spencer Ware, Zach Ertz, Jets D/ST, and Revert Aguayo.