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.
A new beginning is upon us in the Windy City. The Bulls organization has made some significant changes over the summer that have transformed the shape of the team. The Bulls officially traded away their franchise (and my favorite) player, Derrick Rose, to the New York Knicks for Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon (thankfully we cut him), and Jerian Grant (Former Chicago Bull Horace Grant’s nephew). In free agency, we elected not to bring back Pau Gasol (signed with San Antonio) or fan favorite Joakim Noah (signed with New York to play with D.Rose).
The Bulls front office, at the time, said they wanted to get “younger and more athletic”. We eventually drafted Denzel Valentine out of Michigan State. However, things got interesting when the Bulls decided to sign free agent point guard Rajon Rondo. The biggest and most unexpected news was the signing of free agent shooting guard, and Chicago native Dywane Wade. The Bulls pursued Wade in the summer of 2010. There were actual signs that Dywane Wade was going to sign with Chicago, but that changed at the 11th hour when Lebron James decided to take his talents to South Beach.
With that being said, the initial plan of rebuilding has turned into a retooling phase. Recently, the Bulls traded Tony Snell to the Milwaukee Bucks, for former rookie of the year winner Michael Carter-Williams. With all the changes, Chicago has one of the more interesting teams in the league. They lack 3 point shooting, but have better defense and can attack the basket. We did get somewhat younger but added veteran leaders and championship experience. We’re not quite a championship contender and not good enough to beat Cleveland. However, if we make the playoffs, we won’t be an easy out either.
It’s definitely a different vibe with the team because this is a new era with the Bulls. Last season was the beginning of the transition when they fired Tom Thibodeau and hired Fred Hoiberg. This year, we enter a grey area in which we don’t really know the outcome. We can finish as low as probably the 11th or 12th best in the Eastern Conference, or we have the ability to challenge for a home court advantage in the first round. One thing is for sure, I’m going to be here for the ride. I’ll have my Dywane Wade shirt ready for when we start our season against Boston. Let’s see what happens!
The NBA season is finally back after a historic NBA Championship victory by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and an offseason where Kevin Durant shook up the basketball world by signing with the Golden State Warriors. Phenoms were drafted in June and some NBA stars found different homes with contracts that would break the bank 20 years ago. My good friends Cello and Reap (yes, short for Grim Reaper), along with D.Reed and Chris helped contribute to this article. They will also be active on Twitter for this upcoming NBA season for your NBA news, updates, questions, and debates.
NBA WEST PLAYOFFS 2016-17 (Cello)
(Preseason Seed Predictions)
15. Denver Nuggets
Not much to this Denver team. They play hard even game, but it just won’t be good enough with such a tight race to the playoffs in the west.
14. Phoenix Suns
The Suns lost some players and no one on that roster really has what it takes to make them as good as they were last season. They are going to need to rebuild.
13. Sacramento Kings
On paper, this team looks like they should be in the playoffs yearly. DeMarcus Cousins is arguably the best big man in the West, but he seems to just not be able to get his team close to the playoffs. With him and Rudy Gay in the line-up, what is the problem? Seems that management just can’t surround him with the best supporting cast, and it’s only a matter of time before “Boogie” moves on to a new team.
12. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers will be in the playoff hunt in a few seasons, but there is going to be an adjustment period. The first season in 20 years without Kobe “Black Mamba” Bryant is going to be tough. At the same time, these young guys can now grow as players as last season held them back and didn’t allow them to get any real development on the court in order to celebrate Kobe’s retirement with the tour. No doubt they are better than everyone thinks. Ingram, Clarkson, and Russell are going to be exciting to watch.
11. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves are on the rise. This team will be in the playoffs within the next few seasons. Their starting line-up is scary. With some time under their belt, expect Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns to be All-Stars. Unfortunately, this team has no bench, and that will be the reason they do not make the playoffs this season.
10. New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans just doesn’t have the pieces anymore. A couple of years ago, they were on the rise. With Anthony Davis missing most of last season’s games due to injury and the departure of Ryan Anderson, this team is in need of new pieces and that isn’t coming this season.
9. Houston Rockets
With the departure Dwight Howard, this team may be better off without him. They have added Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, and Nene,but is it enough to get this team in the playoffs? Only time will team. Right now, I think they will just miss the playoffs due to Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder. May come down to a tie-breaker.
8. Oklahoma City Thunder
This team, of course, is no longer a title contender without Kevin Durant (we all know this). However, Russell Westbrook is the type of guy that will push his team into the playoffs this season. Look for him to have the best season of his career and lead his team to what would be a dream matchup between the Thunder and Warriors.
7. Utah Jazz
Seeds 7-11 will be in the mix of making the playoffs this season. Utah has progressively gotten better each of the past few years, and with their new added vets of Boris Diaw, Joe Johnson, and George Hill, these guys will only get better.
6. Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers are going to fight and claw their way right into the playoffs again. Lillard and McCollum are one of the best backcourts in the league right now. With the struggles of the Western Conference teams through the past few seasons, Portland will get to the playoffs and make some noise.
5. Memphis Grizzlies
There isn’t much to say about Memphis. They always seem to hover around the five seed. Mike Conley should come in highly confident after that contract he signed (highest paid player in NBA history, for now), and they will just keep grinding.
4. Dallas Mavericks
This team has added some championship pedigree to the roster in Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut. These two alone will continue to keep Dallas in the mix. With Dirk Nowitzki’s career coming to an end soon, don’t expect this team to make it to the make it past the second round.
3. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers starting lineup is good. Their problem, though, is they just don’t have enough to take them to the finals. As long as the core group stays together, they will be in contention, but unless they add another key piece, don’t expect them to get past the Spurs or the Warriors any time soon.
2. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are a great team, as usual (much like the NFL’s Patriots). It really doesn’t matter who is on the floor because the system is just great. The greatest PF to play the game is now retired, but they didn’t really downgrade the position as Pau Gasol is there now (he still averages a double-double).
1. Golden State Warriors
The GSW is expected to get back to the finals. The starting line-up can do that but what people don’t realize it to get Kevin Durant, they had to give up some of their key players like Harrison Barnes and Leandro Barbosa. That can be an issue later. Right now, they are the top team in the West, we shall see once the season starts.
NBA EAST PLAYOFFS 2017
(Preseason Seed Predictions)
15. Brooklyn Nets
This team has been on a downfall for the last few seasons. Stars like Joe Johnson left and free agents like Jeremy Lin have signed. After a terrible season last year, don’t expect any improvement this year.
14. Philadelphia 76’ers
With the addition of Ben Simmons to the Sixers, this team will be very exciting to watch. Joel Embiid, will finally make his debut and his looks good. They won’t be as bad as they have been in the past few years, but they are all still young and have some building to do. This team will be good in about 3 seasons.
13. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks have the potential to a very good team. Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to be a superstar in the league, but the franchise just hasn’t surrounded him with the right people. Watching this team play will be better than their record will be.
12. Orlando Magic
The Magic have some good new additions like Bismack Biyambo and Serge Ibaka, but they just don’t have the necessary star power that it’s going to take to get to the playoffs. Look for them to be in the hunt within the next 2 or 3 seasons.
11. Charlotte Hornets
This team has the pieces to make the playoff race, but the East seeds are going to be close. Teams 5-11 will be within a few games apart.
10. Washington Wizards
They always seem to be good but just not good enough. With the East being so tight this year, the Wizards look like they may just fall out of the runnings. It will definitely be close.
9. Detroit Pistons
Detroit is just on the outskirts of the playoffs. This team can float anywhere from 6/7 seed to about the 12th seed. With the addition of the Bulls possibly making the playoffs this season, the Pistons are going to just barely miss their entry.
8. Miami Heat
With the loss of Dwyane Wade, the Miami Heat will no doubt struggle to make the playoffs. With the weak of the East, they still do have enough pieces to make it to the playoffs but don’t be surprised if they slip into the 9/10 spot before season’s end.
7. New York Knicks
On paper, this team looks amazing or as D. Rose says, “super team” (but that’s on paper). The fact of the matter is the Knicks have a bunch of players who used to be stars. Now, they are a bunch of injury-prone players. I would love to see this team gel and succeed, but it seems more and more, less likely. Their playoff hopes strictly depend on whether the team can stay healthy OR if D. Rose can stay out of jail.
6. Chicago Bulls
Dwyane Wade is HOME!! But does that make the Bulls a contender? No, but this one of the most interesting teams entering this year’s association.
5. Boston Celtics
Al Horford, that’s all you need to know. This man is going to make the Celtics a tough team to beat. Last season, they played better than anyone thought they would, and this new addition can be scary with a few more additions.
4. Toronto Raptors
They Raptors will still be a decent team in the East after last year’s surprise performance to the ECF (Eastern Conference Finals). The loss of Bismack Biyambo will sting a little, but they will still be top four in the East.
3. Indiana Pacers
Paul George is a superstar and looks like he hasn’t missed a beat after that gruesome injury he had in the summer of 2014 (Team USA scrimmage). With Al Jefferson and Jeff Teague added to the roster, this may be just what they need to go deep into the playoffs.
2. Atlanta Hawks
With the Hawks acquiring Dwight Howard (where he can actively be used), he will be motivated to work hard in Atlanta (his hometown). The Hawks have some very experienced players on the roster, and they will succeed because of it.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers
That’s a given. The defending champs have little competition in the East (but far more now than last season). Look for Lebron to continue to a 7th straight NBA Finals appearance. The Cavs roster hasn’t changed much but when you have Lebron James, it really doesn’t matter who else is on the team.
NBA Awards Predictions
D.Reed @freshprynce23 (Twitter and Instagram) JGood @jgoodwithsports (Twitter and Instagram)
Cello @brimology101 (Twitter)
Reap @reapdareaper07 (Twitter)
Chris @mrwsa11 (Twitter)
Growing up, my favorite power forward was Kevin Garnett. Garnett can play on the block, shoot the mid-range consistently, occasionally shoot the 3, rebound, block shots, pass, hustle after loose balls, and ignite his teammates and the stadium with his passion. I personally liked him more than Tim Duncan, but I never denied the greatness of the Big Fundamental. I was just drawn to Garnett’s passion for the game.
Before being traded to Boston after the 2007 season, I really feel that Kevin Garnett was underappreciated in the “Twin Cities”. During his first 12 years with Minnesota, Kevin Garnett and the Timberwolves only made it out the first round one time (2004) with Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell, who were both past their primes. The Big Ticket’s wingman for majority of his time in Minnesota was Wally Szczerbiak. KG and Stephon Marbury could’ve been a superb dynamic duo for years to come, but Marbury’s ego and jealousy of Garnett’s stature ended the partnership before it had a chance to take off. Kevin never complained about the lack of talent that the organization put around him (and believe me, they didn’t help him at all). He brought out the best of his teammates and made the best of the situations during his first tenure with Minnesota.
Seeing KG in a Boston Celtics uniform was weird initially, but playing along side future hall of famers Paul Pierce and Ray Allen helped solidify his legacy as an all-time great. Getting over the hump and winning a championship against the Lakers, an organization that has tormented him his first 12 years, brought everything full circle.
Kevin Garnett is a 15 time NBA All-star, 9 time NBA All-Defensive first team, 4 time All-NBA first team, MVP back in 2004, NBA Champion in 2008 w/ Boston Celtics, all-time Minnesota Timberwolves leading scorer, was Illinois Mr Basketball, McDonald’s All-America game MVP, and Mr. Basketball USA in 1995, and has career averages of 17.8 ppg, 10.0 rpg, and 3.7 apg. He was been apart of the NBA for majority of his life. Garnett was able to stay relevant for 2 decades (not many have ever achieved that).
During the 1997-98 season, Kevin Garnett signed a contract extension for 6 years, 126 million, which was unprecedented at the time. This contract, was not the cause of the NBA to be locked out the following season, it basically established the salary cap in the NBA. KG was a rare talent that just wanted to win and was willing to put everything on the line game in and game out. Garnett will potentially be apart of a hall of fame class in 2021 that will consist of Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and himself. Together they have a total of 48 NBA All-star appearances, 11 NBA Championships and 4 league MVP awards.
Now that his career has come to an end, we will forever remember the moments that he left us, especially saying “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!!!!” when they defeated in the Lakers in 2008 for the NBA title. Whenever Kevin Garnett laced them up, he was going to give you everything he had. That plus his passion is the reason they called him “The Big Ticket”.
If you haven’t heard, the NBA started their free agency period July 1st. Players can come to a verbal agreement but can’t actually sign the contract until July 10th. In the recent Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the NBA, the players will receive more money due to the TV deal that’s been included in the agreement.
With that being said, we have seen mind-blowing deals. Even last year, there were a couple of contracts that average players received that was on level of all-star caliber players (Khris Middleton; 5 yrs, 70 mil and Reggie Jackson; 5 yrs, 80 mil). They are decent players but neither one of them has become an NBA all-star.
Here are some contracts that has been handed out to players who are not NBA all-stars:
Evan Turner: 4 yrs, 70 mil with Portland
Kent Bazemore: 4 yrs, 70 mil with Atlanta
Chandler Parsons: 4 yrs, 94 mil with Memphis
Nicolas Batum: 5 yrs, 120 mil with Charlotte
Timofey Mozgov who hasn’t played at all during last season, signed with the Los Angeles Lakers for 4 yrs, 64 mil. This picture from Bleacher Report breaks down his production.
Mike Conley, who is very underrated, became the highest paying player in NBA history (for now) resigned with the Memphis Grizzlies for 5 yrs, 153 mil.
He’s making more than Can Newton, Tom Brady, and Russell Wilson combined.
This time next year, the contracts are going to be bigger.
The NFL should be follow suit to a certain degree and pay up. I know people will sy that “the NBA has 15 players per team to 54 of the NFL” or “the NFL season is only 16 games”. The NFL is known as the “billion dollar industry”. The NFL is relevant all year round and makes ton more money than the other major sports. Check out some of the NFL players reactions to the contracts:
I can understand the concept of not wanting to pay the players more because of the high risk of injury, but at the same time that’s the reason why you should pay them. We are hearing more and more health issues with current and retired players. The NFL has the money to pay the players
On this Father’s Day (Happy Father’s Day!), this game 7 of the NBA Finals will not only end the 2015-16 NBA season, but we will see history in the making not matter who wins tonight.
For the city of Cleveland, this could end the misery of not winning a championship in over 50 years by any of the major franchises. As a Chicago Bulls fan, I despise the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James (however, I do have respect for his greatness and his abilities). As for Cleveland, the city with a bunch of factories according to Joakim Noah, I feel bad for. Chicago Cubs fans might be the only ones suffering more than Cleveland so I get it.
For the Bay Area, this would cap off a season that could never be duplicated. This is the first team ever to win 73 games and only have single-digit losses. Also, this was the first time in league history that a player was named MVP by an unanimous vote. And to defeat the Cavaliers for a second straight year with Cleveland having a healthy team this time around, will solidify their place as one of the greatest teams ever. The Golden State Warriors backs are against the wall dealing with injuries of their own and losing back to games for the second time all year (Oklahoma City Thunder series). If they lose, it would be an epic collapse and one of the biggest disappointments in league history. What will the defending champs do?
Nevertheless, we will see an entertaining game tonight on this Father’s Day. Once again, Happy Father’s Day!
The rematch, that most of America wanted to see, starts tonight. Golden State virtually have the same team with (ironically) the additional of former Cleveland Cavaliers player Anderson Varejao. The Cavs (basically) have the same team except that they have included a “seldom-used” Mo Williams, and Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are actually healthy.
Cleveland has looked “championship-ready” by only losing 2 playoff games (sweeping the first 2 opponents). Golden State on the other hand has dealt with a knee injury to Steph Curry (early on) and has won 3 straight elimination games, including game 7 against an elite Oklahoma City Thunder team, to earn their consecutive trip to the NBA Finals.
I expect this series to be VERY entertaining and fun. Kyrie Irving and LeBron James should put up big numbers, the unanimous MVP and fellow splash brother Klay Thompson should put on a show, both benches will perform well, and only the “hungriest” will prevail.
I think the key matchup is Draymond Green against Kevin Love. Earlier in the year I’ve called Love the most overrated player in the league because of his contract and lack of playing time in the 4th quarter (if any). I think Green will dominate this matchup as long as he’s not kicking anyone like Lui Kang. I got the Warriors in 7.