NBA

Rockets, you want to fight? Do it out there where we can watch

Rockets, you want to fight? Do it out there where we can watch

I love it when NBA teams actually show animosity between each other during a game. There's too much hugging and chatting between opponents for me these days.

So when the Clippers and Rockets showed some genuine hate toward each other yesterday during their game, I enjoyed it. But when I heard that Chris Paul led a trio of teammates into the threshold of the Los Angeles locker room after the game, I was astounded. Paul, after all, is the president of the NBA players' union. And he's pulling this thuggery on Martin Luther King Day?

It's been no secret that Paul and the Clippers' Blake Griffin did not get along during Paul's tenure in Los Angeles. And I've always heard that Paul is often not the best of teammates. And on the other side, Los Angeles' Austin Rivers has been seen as a player who is only there because his father, Doc, is the coach of the team. The perception is that the son takes advantage of the situation by being critical of his teammates under the protection of his father. Not in uniform for the game, the younger Rivers was apparently yapping from the bench throughout the contest.

This from Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times:

The incident was a reminder of something about Paul that bothered all of his teammates. Paul was never so much a team leader as a team instigator. He was tough to play with, and tougher to play with when you didn’t play his way. He was Kobe Bryant without the ability to finish. For all his greatness, he was the guy who would lose the game, then look for a back door to pick a fight.

I would expect the NBA to hit the Rockets with a very big fine. An excursion into the opponents' locker room after a game could be a very dangerous move -- although I would still say the number of NBA players ready to get into an actual fight is very small.

The whole thing reminds me of a time when my long-departed friend, local wrestling promoter Don Owen, was telling me about a couple of his workers squaring off in the locker room after a match. After all the scripted entertainment, these guys were ready to go at it for real.

Owen was ready, too. "I told them it would be fine to settle it that way but to hold on for a couple of minutes. Let me go out and announce a rematch and we'll put it in the ring where it belongs."

I feel the same way about these guys. If somebody really wants a piece of another player, do it out there on the big stage where everyone can see it.

 

Blazers drop fourth in a row, cling to hopes of home court

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USA Today

Blazers drop fourth in a row, cling to hopes of home court

Things out west are no clearer now than they were at the start of the night. The Blazers could have clinched home court and eliminated the Nuggets from the playoffs with a victory. Instead the Blazers now need a win in the final game of the season to guarantee home court, and the Nuggets need a win in their final game to guarantee the eight seed.

Portland led after three quarters, but their offense ground to a halt in the fourth. The Nuggets held Portland to just 13 points in the quarter to eke out the 88-82 victory.

Damian Lillard led the way with 25 points, and Nurkic had a monstrous 20 points and 19 rebounds. However, the Blazers shot just 33% on the night, including going 7 for 33 from deep.

The Blazers now look to Wednesday’s matchup against the Utah Jazz. Win, and the Blazers have home court.

Final Score: Denver 88 – Blazers 82

Podcast:

 

 

Are you for or against tanking in the NBA?

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NBCS Northwest

Are you for or against tanking in the NBA?

Dwight Jaynes and Aaron Fentress take a deep dive into the world of NBA tanking. Do you support teams tanking to better the organization in the long run? This is a big topic of conversation on today’s podcast.

Plus, it’s time to talk baseball! Seattle Mariners beat writer for the Seattle Times Ryan Divish joins the guys and first question for Ryan is--

Will the Mariners contend this year? Oh, let the season predictions begin!!!

That’s all right here on The Dwight and Aaron Podcast...

Unsolved Mysteries – The Seattle SuperSonics

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OSN

Unsolved Mysteries – The Seattle SuperSonics

BY: CASEY MABBOTT, OR Sports News

For nearly a decade, the Seattle SuperSonics have been relegated to the past tense. Once a staple in the NBA, they are now the league’s lone cold case, with few willing to relive the events that became the demise of the once proud franchise. 

The Sonics played their final home game on April 13th, 2008, a win over the Dallas Mavericks. They finished their season three days later on the road facing Golden State, a game in which rookie of the year Kevin Durant scored 42 points. 

Two months later in the 2008 NBA Draft, Seattle selected point guard Russell Westbrook and forward Serge Ibaka, who would become franchise building blocks in the years to come. 

Except, there were not any years to come, because that was the last time Seattle did anything in the NBA. 

In 1996, the Sonics were one of the best teams in the league, returning to the Finals for the first time since 1978, losing in 6 games to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Their stellar lineup of Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, Sam Perkins, and aging vets Nate McMillian and Detlef Schrempf appeared ready to take a title in the next 2-3 years, and everything was perfect in Seattle.

Except that there was trouble, and the family didn’t seem to want to stay together. 

Kemp was unhappy with his contract, and wanted to renegotiate. Due to the CBA at the time, the team could not alter his deal until 1997, instead spending a small fortune to bring in Jim McIlvaine, a seldom used shot blocking specialist whose career numbers make La’Var Ball’s college stats look stellar. Imagine seeing Damian Lillard take Portland to the Finals, demand a new deal, and see the team instead choose to highly over pay Meyers Leonard. There may not have been a way for the team to compensate their superstar, but you can see the problem. 

An extremely seasoned Craig Ehlo was brought on board in 1996-97, and the team made it to the 2nd round, losing to eventual champion Houston in seven games. Ehlo retired following the season and in a startling move, the team traded the extremely popular Kemp to Cleveland, signaling the end to what many consider the golden era in Seattle. In 1997-98, the Sonics added Vin Baker, Jerome Kersey, and Dale Ellis. They again advanced to the second round of the playoffs, where they lost to the Lakers in five games. 

In the 1998 offseason, the team continued its descent. Head coach George Karl, who led the team to Space Needle heights in the 1990’s, was out the door thanks to a disagreement with the front office on the direction of the team. He was not fired, he was just not invited back after his contract expired either. 

Nate McMillian, affectionately known by the fans as “Mr. Sonic”, retired, Sam Perkins and Jerome Kersey signed with new teams, and extremely unpopular center Jim McIlvaine was traded to New Jersey. They missed the playoffs in a strike shortened season in 1999, and by the start of the 2000 season, superstar point guard Gary Payton was the only player remaining from the 1996 Finals team. 

Barry Ackerley had owned the team since 1983 (after purchasing the Sonics from previous owner Sam Schulman who founded the team in 1967), and in 2001 sold the franchise to the Basketball Club of Seattle, led by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz 

The Coffee King of Seattle helped lure future Hall of Fame center Patrick Ewing to the northwest after spending his collegiate and professional career on the east coast, but Ewing was well past his primed and the team struggled and missed the playoffs. Ewing left after just one year, returning to his beloved east coast. The team elevated Nate McMillian to head coach after firing Paul Wesphal. The Sonics made the playoffs in 2002, losing in the first round, and trading Vin Baker to the Celtics. 

In 2003, Gary Payton was traded to Milwaukee, officially ending the dreams of any Sonics fan to see Payton or Kemp win a title in Seattle. In return, the team was sent star shooting guard Ray Allen, known as supporting character Jesus Shuttlesworth in “He Got Game”. Allen definitely had game, as he led the team back to the playoffs in 2005, beating the Kings in the first round and losing to the eventual champion Spurs in the second round. Nate McMillian left for Portland and was replaced by Bob Weiss, who was replaced by Bob Hill in 2007. 

In 2006, following financial struggles related to poor performance and attendance as well as a lack of public funding for a new stadium, the Sonics were sold to the Professional Basketball Club LLC, led by Clay Bennett, who will be referred to here as puke face mcgee, of course in all lower case. As the group was from Oklahoma City and did not have professional or personal ties to the area, Schultz foolishly bought their intentions to represent OKC AND keep the team in Seattle, so he sold them the team, but also made certain that part of the sale included an agreement by the new ownership to make a “good faith effort” to keep the team in Seattle. Good faith, in OKC terms, means to hear millions of voices cry out, only to be suddenly silenced. With this agreement in place and the team still on a lease to play in Key Arena through the 2010 season, a move would not only be unlikely, but financially unrealistic. In other words, it meant that Clayface was about to pull one sickening joke over on the Seattle faithful. 

In 2007, Ray Allen was traded to Boston on draft day in exchange for Boston’s first round pick Jeff Green, who would be paired on the court with the Sonics’ first round pick Kevin Durant. The 19 year old Durant finished his rookie season with 20 points per game, joining LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony as the only teenage players to average 20 points over an entire season. In his only season with the Sonics, Durant outplayed #1 overall selection Greg Oden by 82 games. 

During the 2007 season, as the Sonics struggled on the court, their ownership struggled (whether their hearts were in it or not – we’ve all seen the emails, they weren’t interested in Seattle) to secure public funding for a new stadium. The city passed a new measure that would make securing funding for stadiums very unlikely, and with pressure from the league to build a stadium that met current standards and capacity (Key Arena was the smallest venue in the league), Bennett and his extremely wealthy partners decided not to fund their own stadium, and instead began working on a newer, and darker plan. After watching too many Star Wars movies (and an excellent fan made documentary SonicsGate), I have reason to believe that this was their intention all along. 

The Sonics’ regular season ended on April 13th, and on April 18th, the league owners voted to allow Seattle to move to Oklahoma City. I know their season was bad, but I didn’t think it was a “good lord let’s get this riffraff the hell out of there” level of awful. Of the 30 owners, only Paul Allen and Mark Cuban voted against the move. After leaders in Seattle brought on a lawsuit and a failed attempt by a new group of investors to purchase the team back, on August 29th, new team owner Clay Bennett held a press conference to introduce his new team to the world, in a new city, with new fans.

And just like that, the Sonics, after being in the league for 41 years, disappeared without a trace, with many wondering if they will ever see them again. They had two owners from 1967-2001, and in one stretch of 8 years under bad ownership, everything fell apart. 

In 2013, a new investment group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer attempted to revive the Sonics. Their group intended to purchase the Sacramento Kings and relocate them to Seattle. The Kings agreed to the deal in principle, so long as the league approved the sale. But then hated rival point guard Kevin Johnson (formerly of the Phoenix Suns) who was somehow mayor of Sacramento at such a crucial time, stuck his foot in the door and countered with a lower offer. Golden State Warriors minority owner Vivek Randadive joined the Kings new investment group and it seemed that the Western Conference still had it in for the Sonics.  

Despite the King’s current owners publicly stating their intent to sell to Hansen’s investment group and not the locals, the league voted against allowing the Kings to relocate, which in turn forced Hansen to withdraw his offer. Because who wants to own a team in that place (Modern Family is cool though). 

As the league and the new local investors worked together, the Kings stayed in Sacramento and have a new stadium that opened in 2016, that is located on David J Stern Walk. And if that doesn’t make you want to puke, well, what will?

UPDATE: In 2017, the city of Seattle approved funding to renovate Key Arena to moder standards in order to attract potential NHL and NBA teams. The NHL is currently considering Seattle as the site of an expansion team. Currently, there are not any NBA teams considering relocating, and the league has no plans to expand. One can only hope that one day, the Sonics will be resurrected, and in their rightful place in Seattle. 

If you have any information on this case, write to us at Unsolved Mysteries… You need not give your name.

The Lakers are getting what they deserve from LaVar Ball

The Lakers are getting what they deserve from LaVar Ball

The youngest pair of the Ball kids are in Lithuania, taking a stab at pro basketball far from home. Why do I think this has no chance of working out well?

Of course, ESPN has a crew following the Ball family, much to the chagrin of a lot of people. In fact, Golden State Coach Steve Kerr spoke for many Monday about the coverage of Old Man Ball:

“I was thinking about ESPN, and they laid off, I don’t know, 100 people,” Kerr said. “How many people did they lay off over the last year? Well over 100, many of whom were really talented journalists covering the NBA. So, this is not an ESPN judgment, it’s a societal thing more than anything. Where we’re going is we’re going away from covering the game, and we’re going toward just sensationalized news. It’s not even news, really. It’s just complete nonsense. But if you package that irrational nonsense with glitter and some ribbon, people are going to watch.

“So, I talked to people in the media this year. I said, ‘Why do you guys have to cover that guy?’ And they say, ‘Well, we don’t want to, but our bosses tell us we have to because of the ratings, because of the readership.’ Somewhere, I guess in Lithuania, LaVar Ball is laughing. People are eating out of his hands for no apparent reason, other than that he’s become the Kardashian of the NBA or something.”

I tend to agree with Kerr but I also understand that if news outlets, blogs or websites don't give people what they want, they will soon be out of business. And the public is fascinated by the loud-mouthed father and his impact on his talented sons.

[NBC Sports Gold “Blazers Pass” premium-game Blazers streaming package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest – $34.99 – click to learn more and buy]

Caught in the crossfire of all of it is Los Angeles Laker Coach Luke Walton, pretty much an innocent bystander. The Lakers had to know what would happen when they drafted this kid -- his father's  meddling behavior was no secret. I think Walton has done a very good job with his young Laker team this season but, of course, the elder Ball has alleged that Walton has lost control of the team and players don't want to play for him.

Yes, a lot of NBA parents would like to blame coaches for the problems their kids are having -- and I'm guessing if they start popping off about it, there will be a microphone in their face, too. But this guy is a rare one in that he doesn't seem to understand the impact his antics are having on his children. And that makes him news whether we like it or not.

The biggest problem in Los Angeles, though -- and the reason people are actually listening to the Old Man -- is that the Lakers themselves set the  bar way too high for their performance this season. I was sitting in the Thomas & Mack Center last summer when the Lakers beat Portland for the summer-league championship and the celebration, in front of a pro-Laker crowd and NBA-TV, was way over the top. And the centerpiece of all that was an overly excited Magic Johnson proclaiming, "The Lakers are back!"

Ugh. No way. It's the freaking summer league. And Magic should have known better. But summer league helped create an unrealistic expectation that Ball was going to be an immediate superstar and that the Lakers were ready to contend for a playoff spot. And when expectations aren't met, people always look for scapegoats. The elder Ball found his -- the coach -- and it's just his way to take the heat off his son, who hasn't had the kind of season the Lakers obviously expected from him.

Fans, searching for who to blame, are ready to latch onto the coaching narrative because they never want to blame players.

And it became Luke Walton's job to try to meet those lofty expectations with a team and a point guard not ready for such a task. He deserves better and I don't blame the media or LaVar Ball. The Lakers set themselves up for this and they did their coach wrong by it.

LaVar Ball's league would have a chance -- without LaVar Ball

LaVar Ball's league would have a chance -- without LaVar Ball

LaVar Ball's latest attempt to keep his name in the news, the "Junior Basketball Association," is a total non-starter,

But that doesn't mean it's a totally bad idea. I think the concept is one that could work. I just don't think Ball is the one to make it happen. It would take a whole lot of sports-business sense and a ton of money to start this league and I don't think Mr. Ball has either one.

Can you imagine the startup cost of such a league? He wants to play in NBA arenas but I doubt he has any clue what it might cost to rent those venues. He's promising pretty healthy salaries for unproven players and he;s going to have to pay some of that money without a lot of revenue coming in. If he had Nike or Adidas or another major corporation sponsoring the league to help it get off the ground, it would certainly help -- but he's planning to fund the league with his own Big Baller Brand.

And I seriously doubt there's a lot of ready capital in that company right now.

I would say this, though -- there is a place in this country for a league for kids who want to play pro hoops but don't want to attend college. (I've always felt there's a place for such a football league, too.) Spending a few months in college should not be a requirement for playing in the NBA.

Oh, I know -- you can always head off to Europe and play there out of high school -- except most decent European teams aren't going to be taking a chance on spending a foreign-player slot on a high school kid. The run-of-the-mill player has no chance -- even LaBar Ball knows that, after having to place his two sons on a backwoods team in Lithuania where they probably won't even get to play much.

And I don't think the G-League is all that sold on using high-school players. And the G-League has always struggled to make it, even with NBA subsidy. But what a lot of people miss about that league is that it doesn't have big-name players who could put fannies in seats. A high-quality league full of big-time NBA prospects would have a better chance. If the G-League would actively recruit prep players who have no interest in college it would be a big boost to that league. But that's not going to happen.

A league of first-year players has a chance. Oh, it's not ever going to make huge money -- unless it lands a TV contract, which is possible if it can sign up the cream of the crop of NBA-bound players. I think the league actually could land some very good players if it's solidly funded. It makes sense to me for these players to at least have the opportunity to begin a pro career in what would amount to be basketball's version of baseball's rookie leagues.

Players would have no restriction on practice time, the way it is in college right now, and would have a legitimate opportunity to speed their development toward the NBA if the league could sign quality coaching staffs.

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And once a few good players head that way I think there would be a stampede. It would seriously injure college basketball as we know it, but so what? In that case, we could get back to college players who actually want to get a college education. That's not so bad.

But you need the right people (very wealthy ones) putting this together. As you may have noticed, new leagues in any sport have a terrible time succeeding in this country. And I'm pretty sure LaVar Ball isn't the right person to make this one work.

 

 

How to stream Blazers vs. Heat

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How to stream Blazers vs. Heat

If you already get NBCS Northwest on your TV at home, but you are not able to be home during a Trail Blazers game, you can now stream the game live at the NBC Sports App.  You can download the NBC Sports App at www.nbcsports.com/sports-mobile.  Or, you can stream the game online at our live stream page, NBCSportsNorthwest.com/BlazersStream.

The Portland Trail Blazers (13-13) continue its five-game road trip with the second contest on the docket in Miami (13-13) as the Blazers look to snap a five-game losing streak.  

Portland started off its current road test on Monday night against the Golden State Warriors.  The Trail Blazers trailed by as many as 24 points, but Portland made a run at a comeback and ended up outscoring Golden State 29-18 in the fourth quarter behind Damian Lillard’s 11 fourth-quarter points.

The Blazers eventually would fall to the defend champs 111-104 at Oracle Arena.

Lillard scored a game-high 39 points in the loss.

Blazers rookie Zach Collins played a career-high 25 minutes against the Warriors and finsiehd with nine points, seven rebounds and three steals.

[NBC Sports Gold “Blazers Pass” premium-game Blazers streaming package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest – $34.99 – click to learn more and buy]

The Miami Heat just wrapped up a three-game road trip that started with a 117-105 loss to the Spurs and ended with two wins over the Brooklyn Nets and Memphis Grizzlies. The Heat’s most recent win came on Monday night when Miami beat the Grizzlies 107-82.  

Goran Dragic had 19 points, five rebounds and five assists in Monday’s win.

This is the first of two meetings between the Blazers and Heat this season.

Looking at the injury reports, the Blazers have been without Jusuf Nurkic (right ankle) and Moe Harkless (left quad) for the last two games.  Both Nurkic and Harkless are listed as questionable for Wednesday’s contest.  For Miami, Rodney McGruder (left tibia surgery), Okaro White (left foot surgery) and Hassan Whiteside (left knee bone bruise) are all listed as OUT for Wednesday’s game vs. the Blazers.

Portland is now 6-5 on the road this season.

You can catch our pregame coverage of the Blazers and Heat game with Rip City Live at 3:30pm on Wednesday as Dan Sheldon, Dwight Jaynes, and Orlando Williams get you set for all of the action.

And if you can’t get to a TV, you can check out our live streaming pregame coverage with The Scoop Pregame Show streaming on your mobile phone, tablet, or computer at 4:00pm at Facebook.com/NBCSNorthwest.



Quick Links:

Blazers can’t keep pace with Warriors in 111-104 loss

Blazer rotations continue to change but the losing streak reaches 5

 

Video:   Highlights—Lillard’s comeback not quite enough for the win

Video:   McCollum—The Blazers are going through an identity crisis

Video:   Dame’s heroics aren’t enough as the Blazers fall in Oracle

Video:   Lillard—We need to stop digging holes

 

Game Details:

Where:  America Airlines Arena, Miami FL

Tip-off: 4:30pm

Television: NBCS Northwest

Live NBC Sports Northwest coverage:  Rip City Live (3:30pm), Talkin' Ball  (Immediately after the Blazers postgame show)

Live streaming of the game: Watch the game on your phone on the NBC Sports App.  Download the  app at http://www.nbcsports.com/sports-mobile .  Or check out NBCSportsNorthwest.com/BlazersStream online.

Live streaming coverage on Facebook: The Scoop Pregame Show streams at 4:00pm at Facebook.com/NBCSNorthwest. The Scoop Postgame Show will stream immediately after the game at Facebook.com/NBCSNorthwest. 

Radio: Rip City Radio 620

Shaq is worth $400 million -- so why is he still hanging out with a cartoon general?

Shaq is worth $400 million -- so why is he still hanging out with a cartoon general?

As I wached another of those endless run of commercials this morning featuring Shaquille O'Neal speaking to a cartoon general, with the ex-NBA player hawking auto insurance, I was struck by not only how many commercials Shaq makes, but the wide, random,  range of companies that he has endorsed.

O'Neal has spoken on behalf of -- to name just a few -- a sleep apnea mask, a sugar substitute, Soupman, Zales, Muscle Milk, Shaq Fu Punch, Chris Christie, Dunkman shoes, Dove, Nintendo, Macy's, JC Penney, Comcast, Monster speakers, LiNing shoes, NBA 2k, Gold Bond, a vodka brand, Buick, Taco Bell, Nestle Crunch, Icy Hot, Pepsi, Wheaties, Oreos and Burger King.

[NBC Sports Gold “Blazers Pass” 15-game Blazers package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest $34.99 – click to learn more and buy]

That's just a sample. But this list not only reflects the variety of products but in some cases, the fact he has endorsed competing products. One would think this man is so desperate to endorse that he's dead broke. But that's apparently not the case. His estimated net worth is said to be $400 million.

How wealthy is this man? Well, check this out:

He is the joint owner of 155 Five Guys Burgers restaurants, 17 Auntie Annie's Pretzels restaurants, 150 car washes, 40 24-hour fitness centers, a shopping center, a movie theater, and several Las Vegas nightclubs.

I think the real answer to all these endorsements is that he's such a ham that he just loves to be on camera. But he and the companies he works for must understand at some point that when you endorse this many products there is a point when your ability to move people to buy the products is affected. I mean, at what point do you just laugh at all these ads and dismiss his testimonials as strictly money grabs?

 

Lonzo Ball's jump shot seems to prove his dad isn't the "best coach ever"

Lonzo Ball's jump shot seems to prove his dad isn't the "best coach ever"

After watching Lonzo Ball in summer league I was interested to see him in person again last week.

But he was pretty much a no-show against the Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard outscored him 32-0, which you know by know. But I'm not here to tear him apart. I think he's going to be a very good NBA player, one who pushes the pace and sees the court. He;s unselfish and is willing to take responsibility for his actions on the court.

But oh my, that jump shot. It appears nobody on the Lakers' staff has touched it since the summer and at some point, I think he's going to have to put in some work on it. There have been plenty of successful NBA players with funky shooting mechanics, but I cannot see how this kid will ever reach his potential with a shot that takes so long to load and is so far from linear that it's always going to be very fragile. You can read Charles Barkley's take on the shot here, with video, and Chuck is correct.

[NBC Sports Gold “Blazers Pass” 15-game Blazers package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest $34.99 – click to learn more and buy]

What amazes me about the way the kid shoots, though, is that he's coming out of the basketball factory of his father, LaVar, the self-proclaimed "best coach ever." This man actually does seem to believe that he has the cheat code to creating basketball players. But when your son hits the NBA with a shot that broken, it certainly reflects on the "coach" who has approved those mechanics -- and is still approving them:

"Oh, ain't nobody tinkering with his shot. He's going to shoot the same way, comfortable, like I said, who cares about his shot," he said.

Lonzo will eventually settle in at a decent percentage if he continues to shoot that way. The good NBA players put in so much work that improvement is inevitable. But until he lines that shot up better, he's not going to ever reach his potential as a shooter or a player. At some point, somebody on the Laker staff is going to have to tell the old man to go sit on the sidelines and shut up while they do some renovation on that jumper.

But do you think that will happen?

 

 

Don't forget the NBA's contribution to the college hoops scandal

Don't forget the NBA's contribution to the college hoops scandal

While nobody is very surprised to hear about all the corruption in college basketball uncovered by an FBI probe into agents, shoe companies, money managers and coaches, I'm not hearing too many people talking about the NBA's role in all of that.

The NBA has been complicit in the corruption for years. The league has been, at the very least, the great enabler.

Professional basketball has been hiding its intentions in regard to players entering its league for a long time. The league has taken two stances in regard to players entering the NBA directly out of high school. Let me summarize those for you:

  • Some of the kids don't make it in the league and end up without a college scholarship and penniless. We don't want this to happen and thus, want them in college so they can turn into upstanding citizens with a backup plan to pro hoops. We need to protect these kids from themselves.
  • A high school career in basketball isn't enough time for our scouts to evaluate their NBA future. It's hard enough to project players into the NBA after a couple of years in college -- doing so after high school is almost impossible. Plus, these players just aren't ready for the NBA.

Of course, reason No. 2 is much more important than the first one. The NBA really doesn't care a lot about the kids who don't make it. The concern is much more about wasting first-round draft money on players who aren't good enough to make their team. And, of course, the NBA always enjoyed it when college players were stuck in college for a full four years -- which was just enough time for them to become big-name, ready-made pro stars who could generate spectator and TV money from the day they entered the league.

Just a few months back, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver went public with the idea that the "one-and-done" rule should be changed or modified:

“My sense is it’s not working for anyone,” Silver said Thursday night before Game 1 of the N.B.A. finals. “It’s not working for the college coaches and athletic directors I hear from. They’re not happy with the current system. And I know our teams aren’t happy either, in part because they don’t necessarily think the players who are coming into the league are getting the kind of training that they would expect to see.”

Again, one reason for changing the rule would be that players coming into the league aren't "getting the kind of training that they would expect to see." In other words, Silver seemed to be in favor of extending the time players should stay in college, rather than do the right thing: Drop the one-and-done rule entirely and allow players make a choice about their chosen profession after graduating high school.

Athletes have that choice in baseball, golf, tennis, soccer and just about any other sport but basketball and football. (And if you think this basketball scandal is big, just wait and see what happens if the Feds ever start looking into football -- where the real money is.)

The blue-chip players are the ones getting those six-figure checks from the shoe companies. Allow them to enter the NBA out of high school and you solve a lot of these problems. By the way, a good portion of those players want no part of those college scholarships and prove it when they league those universities after basically one semester to chase the NBA dream.

If those players were allowed to enter the NBA immediately, would there still be corruption? I'm sure there would be. But not nearly as much. There wouldn't be a lot of money left after the cream of the crop gets its share. Young basketball players shouldn't be made to be criminals because they took money for their basketball talent out of high school. It should be their right to become professionals immediately.

And the NBA should get out of the way and allow it.