TrueHoop: Charles Barkley
The stat line of the night belonged to Nikola Vucevic, who finished with 20 points and 29 rebounds. He became the third different player in Magic history to grab at least 25 rebounds in a game. Dwight Howard (four times) and Shaquille O’Neal (twice) are the others.
With two rebounds in overtime, Vucevic was able to set the Magic franchise record for rebounds in a game. The previous mark was 28, which Shaq did against the Nets in 1993.
Vucevic’s 20-20 game is the first for an Orlando player other than Howard since 1998. Howard had the last 41 such games for the Magic. Horace Grant (one game in 1998) and O’Neal (15 games from 1992 to 1994) are the other players with a 20-20 game in franchise history.
He is only the fourth NBA player in the last 20 years with at least 20 points and 29 rebounds in the same game. Vucevic joins Kevin Love, Dikembe Mutombo (twice) and Charles Barkley.
LeBron James scored 36 points and dished out 11 assists to lead the Heat to the win. With the double-double against the Magic, he is one of only nine players with at least 15 double-doubles this season.
James has scored at least 20 points in each of the Heat’s 29 games so far this season. Since the ABA/NBA merger in 1976, that’s the second-longest such streak to start a season. Only George Gervin, with 45 straight games to start the 1981-82 campaign, has a longer streak.
LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all finished with at least 20 points in the win. This is the 27th regular season game where all three passed that threshold, but only the sixth time in the last two seasons. The Heat are 22-5 when all three score 20 points.
According to AccuScore, which ran 10,000 computer simulations, the 1992 team would win 53.1 percent of the time and by an average margin of one point per game.
No one will ever know the true answer, but let's take a look at the Next Level analytical facts about the rosters at each point of their careers to help make the case either way.
REBOUNDING AND DEFENSE
Much has been made about the current team’s weak frontcourt. The 1992 team had four players who grabbed at least 15 percent of available rebounds in 1991-92 (Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, David Robinson). The current team has three players at that rebound rate last season (Tyson Chandler, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love).
The 1992 team had two players (Ewing, Robinson) who blocked at least 5 percent of the shot attempts they faced in 1991-92. No 2012 player had a block percentage higher than 3.4 last season (Chandler).
Four current members had a true shooting percentage (a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account 2-pointers, 3-pointers and free throws) of at least 60 last season (Chandler, Kevin Durant, James Harden, LeBron James). Chandler (70.8 in 2011-12) led the NBA each of the past two seasons. Only one of the 1992 members had a 60 true shooting percentage (Barkley), although three others fell just short of that threshold in 1991-92 (Malone, Robinson, John Stockton).
Five Dream Team members assisted on at least 25 percent of their teammates’ field goals in 1991-92 (Larry Bird, Clyde Drexler, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Stockton), plus Magic Johnson had a 49.3 assist percentage in his most recent NBA season (1990-91). LeBron, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams had a 25 assist percentage or better last season, but none were as high as Stockton (53.7), who was in the midst of leading the league in assist percentage for 10 straight seasons.
AGE, EXPERIENCE AND CHAMPIONSHIPS
The 1992 team was about 2½ years older on average (28.8-26.2). Other than Bird and Magic, every Dream Team member was 30 years old or younger. Every member of the current team is 29 or younger, other than Kobe, who is 33.
But the NBA experience level is about the same. The 1992 team had, on average, 7.3 years of experience per player. This year’s team has 7.1.
As far as NBA titles, give the edge to the 1992 team. Its players had a combined 12 championships as they entered the Olympics -- five by Magic, three by Bird and two each from Jordan and Pippen.
The 2012 version has seven championships among them, carried by Kobe’s five. LeBron and Chandler each have one. The current team has members of each of the past four NBA champions, while the 1992 team had members of the then-past two champions.
Using average win shares per 48 minutes in their previous NBA seasons, (including Magic’s 1990-91 season and not including Christian Laettner), the 1992 squad’s average is higher by 9 percent (.215-.198). Prefer player efficiency rating to win shares? The Dream Team’s PER was 3 percent higher (23.8-23.0).
IN THEIR PRIME?
Other than Laettner, all 11 Dream Team members are Hall of Famers. And only two could be considered in the twilight of their careers. Bird had just finished his last NBA season, while Magic had retired the previous year, although he made a brief comeback in 1995-96. As for this edition, one could make the case that all but the 33-year-old Kobe on the roster could appear on another Olympic team again.
The 2012 team gets under way with an exhibition game Thursday against the Dominican Republic on ESPN at 9 p.m. ET. Only time will tell whether this team is the modern-day Dream Team.
And that has never been truer in the NBA than now.
The Oklahoma City Thunder had the youngest starting lineup in an NBA Finals Game 1 in 35 years. Their average age of 25 didn’t stop them from taking a 1-0 series lead over LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat.
What this Thunder team has already accomplished, and what they could accomplish in the upcoming games, is virtually unprecedented when age is taken into account.
But despite their youth, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are quickly etching their names among some of the NBA’s all-time greats.
Durant and Westbrook combined for 63 points in Game 1. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is tied with Julius Erving and Doug Collins (1977 Philadelphia 76ers) for the most combined points by a duo in their NBA Finals debut.
Durant and Westbrook alone outplayed the entire Heat team in the second half, outscoring them 41-40.
Durant’s 36 points in Game 1 tied the franchise mark for most points in a Finals game. Durant also became the fourth-youngest (23 years, 257 days) player in NBA history to score at least 35 points in an NBA Finals game.
Westbrook, who had 27 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds in Game 1, is the second player in NBA history with at least 25 points and 10 assists in their NBA Finals debut. The other player? None other than Michael Jordan, who had 36 points and 12 assists in a 1991 Game 1 loss to the Lakers.
Forget NBA Finals debuts. Westbrook’s performance was special. He was the first player with at least 25 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds in an NBA Finals game since Charles Barkley in 1993.
Where age and inexperience normally might come into play is crunch time, but that hasn’t been the case. This postseason, in the final five minutes of the 4th quarter and overtime when the game is within five points, the Thunder are shooting 48.3 percent (29-for-60). The Heat are shooting just 36.4 percent in crunch time (24-for-66).
And nobody with at least 20 crunch-time shot attempts has been better this postseason than Durant, who’s shooting 60 percent (12-for-20). In fact, there have only been four game-tying or go-ahead shots in the final 24 seconds of the 4th quarter and overtime this postseason, and Durant has three of them.
No matter how it’s sliced, the Thunder have proven time and time again this postseason that youth is overrated. Just three years removed from back-to-back-to-back 50-loss seasons, a bunch of 20-somethings are now three wins away from their franchise’s first NBA Championship in 33 years.
Statistical support for this story from NBA.com
The Elias Sports Bureau reports that he became the first player in NBA history to reach each of those thresholds in a playoff game. Five other players had recorded 40-10-8 games: Tracy McGrady, Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, Jerry West and Oscar Robertson (twice).
He was also the first Celtics player with at least 40 points and 10 assists in a playoff game.
Rondo had never played every minute of an NBA game in his career. He is the first player to do so in this year’s playoffs. Dwight Howard played every minute in a playoff game twice last year.
Before Game 2, Rondo had never made more than six shots in a game from 15-plus feet from the basket. On Wednesday, he was actually better from long range than close to the basket.
Rondo was 10-for-12 from the field when he was at least 15 feet from the basket but just 4-for-9 from inside 5 feet. The rest of the Celtics struggled from long range, hitting just 14-of-36 shots.
At halftime, Rondo had outperformed the combination of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Rondo had 22 points, four rebounds and seven assists in the first 24 minutes; James and Wade had combined for 15 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists at that point.
The Celtics led by as many as 15 points late in the second quarter. But the third quarter has been the key for the Heat in the playoffs.
Miami outscored Boston 35-22 in the third quarter of Game 2. In the playoffs, the Heat have outscored their opponents by 87 points in their 10 wins. In three playoff losses, they’ve been outscored by 37.
After shooting 85 percent from inside 5 feet in Game 1, the Heat struggled from that range early in Game 2, going just 5-for-13 in the first half. They turned it around after halftime, shooting 7-for-10 in the second half and 4-for-5 in overtime.
James turned in another 30-point, 10-rebound game. It was his sixth in the playoffs since joining the Heat, moving past Wade for the franchise record. Since he first made the playoffs in 2006, James has more 30-10 games in the playoffs than any other player.
Wade finished with 23 points after scoring only two in the first half. From our friends at Elias, he is the first player to score at least 20 points in 12 straight playoff games against the Celtics since Jerry West did so in 18 straight games from 1966 to 1969.
- Whither the franchise tag -- or designated player -- that was one of the major talking points last summer when a discussion of the next collective bargaining agreement was just getting underway? Zach Lowe of Point Forward revisits the idea, and looks at the repercussions of such a rule.
My general feeling is that, no matter how much you incentivize a player to stay put with his existing team, it's still inordinately difficult to convince a guy to stay in a place he deems undesirable. As Lowe points out, eliminating the sign-and-trade and extend-and-trade will prevent suitors from manipulating the system so that they can offer a defector more money and more years, but it's still hard to imagine a world where Top 20 players stick around for a extra dollars and an extra year. Regarding the latter, locking in an extra season isn't all that compelling to a young superstar. In many cases, he's likely to score a heftier salary in the first year of his next deal (To wit, look at how many superstars are negotiating opt-outs after the third year of lengthier deals). And as Miami's superstars proved last summer, superstars are willing to take less money in a more desirable locale.
- Given how well Lamar Odom played during his stint with Team USA, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times says Odom would be wise to look overseas during the lockout.
- Charles Barkley takes a victory lap for his clairvoyance (at 1:21:40 mark of interview with ESPN Chicago): "Oh I was the first one. If you go back and look, I remember I was on a TV show last year when the season was going on; they asked me about next year, and I said ‘dude, I don’t think there’s going to be a season at all next year.’ And everybody looked at me like ‘that dude’s crazy.’ What I always knew was the owners were going to get the deal they wanted or they were not going to play."
- Politicians, restaurant owners and a vodka company's CEO will issue demands to the Knicks that the team has already granted -- full refunds with interest for season ticket holders.
- Did Tyson Chandler's injury history coupled with his free agent status inform his decision to reportedly turn down an offer from the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions?
- I was supposed to be at the Wizards-Celtics game in Washington last night. Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus continues his Sim Season series and tells us that I didn't miss anything, apart from a 3-for-14 night from John Wall. Doolittle's simulation doesn't track the keystone cop moments JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche had on defensive rotations along the back line, but the 108-94 final score in Boston's favor suggests they were plentiful.
- Twenty-eight years ago tonight, the Trail Blazers beat the Nuggets 156-116. After the game, Nuggets head coach Doug Moe confessed that, once the rout was on, he told his team to let the Trail Blazers score. Via the Oregonian: "'Our defense was getting so tenacious, I was afraid they (the Blazers) wouldn’t get to 150,' Moe said in laughing off his actions afterward. 'And they (the Portland fans) wanted it bad. I just told the team to back off and let them have it. I said, "Part the seas."'"
- Luol Deng is loving Arsenal veteran Alex Song.
- Metta World Peace: Courting danger on the dance floor.
- Life after the Association for Lamond Murray.
- Gather around for John Converse Townsend's rich, real-life story about the time the ABA's Kentucky Colonels upended the NBA's Baltimore Bullets in an exhibition game at Louisville's Freedom Hall in 1971. It was the first time an ABA squad beat a rival from the more prestigious, senior NBA. The Colonels had a formidable roster that featured Artis Gilmore and Dan Issel, while the Bullets were playing without Earl Monroe and Gus Johnson. The Bullets' Fred Carter joked that the ABA's tri-color ball looked like a prop for trained seals, but for the ABA, the win carried enormous symbolic importance.
- Tom Ziller writes that the players' stance is as much about self-determination as it is a financial calculation. One reason: NBA players are much wealthier as a group than they were in 1998: "Make no mistake: with this week's moves by the players, the scales have evened. The players are no longer content to negotiate from the corner David Stern put them in. They looked Stern and MJ and Paul Allen and Dan Gilbert right in their gold-specked eyes and they waved a middle finger and they said, "No mas." That's what David Stern has to deal with now, if this ever gets back to the negotiating table: a collection of players that have had enough."
- Imagine a world where Charles Barkley was drafted by Philadelphia in 2002 and paired with Allen Iverson.
- SB Nation's Jason Concepcion on hard-line Phoenix owner Robert Sarver: "Sarver's signature lockout moment was his comment that his wife had asked him to return to Arizona with the mid-level exemption in her purse. I love that for two reasons -- 1) a woman with an eye for arcane salary cap exemptions is obviously a keeper, and 2) Robert Sarver is so cheap he travels with his wife's purse."
- Beckley Mason on HoopSpeak on the systemic reasons why the system is broken and the owners' unwillingness to address those issues: "The only true source of owner accountability, fans deciding to tune out terrible teams, has been subverted by the owner’s ability to force a too big to fail type bailout at the expense of the labor and taxpayers. Now the owners are trying to impose some kind of logic on a system that is inherently tainted by their own unchecked power. If they really wanted to make the league better, they’d seek the same standard of competency and competition from themselves as they’re demanding of the players."
- Shane Battier is using the lockout to contemplate life after basketball: "At this point, I’m confident that if the NBA were to never settle, I could go out and get a job and use my brain to provide for my family. That’s allowed me amazing piece of mind to just start thinking about post-basketball, but at the same time be ready for when we do settle, if we settle, to be ready to go."
- At Hardwood Paroxysm, Noam Schiller looks at a potential arms race in Europe if the NBA lockout persists: "If the Gasol brothers come home to Barcelona --already one of Europe’s top basketball teams -- what do you think their bitter rival, Real Madrid, says? 'No thank you, Rudy Fernandez and Serge Ibaka are enough'? Hell no! They swing for the Dwights and the LaMarcuses and the Dirks -- anybody who can top that Catalan splash, both on the court and off it. And once a strong Real is even stronger, what say CSKA Moscow, or Maccabi Tel Aviv, or Panathinaikos? These are teams that dominate their domestic competitions, and their entire existence is built around the prospect of capturing the Euroleague crown. You think they’ll give it away just because bringing a really really really good player costs a lot of money?"
- Bullets Forever explores why the allure of The Club is so potent for pro athletes and so foreign to many fans.
- Hall & Oates sold a ton of records during the 1980s, but their lasting imprint might be the use of "One on One" in one of the NBA's best promotional ads.
- Not sure what's more fun about this reel: Watching Magic Johnson or listening to Chick Hearn.
In the case of Dirk Nowitzki that is exactly how it felt this postseason. Particularly after Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle proclaimed him one of the 10 best players all-time despite lacking the one thing that ultimately seems to define every great player’s career: a ring.
Nowitzki is now closer than he ever has been to relieving this burden and cementing his legacy. In the process he also has the chance to remove himself from some unwanted lists among great players.
Nowitzki, with 10 all-star selections, is tied for the sixth-most by a player without an NBA title in league history. The only players with more are Karl Malone (14), Charles Barkley (11), Elgin Baylor (11), Patrick Ewing (11) and Allen Iverson (11).
Malone, Baylor and, LeBron James are the only other players in NBA history besides Nowtizki with career averages of more than 23.0 points and 7.0 rebounds without an NBA championship to their credit.
His 22,792 points are 23rd-most all-time in NBA history, but 10th-most among players to never win a ring.
This postseason though, Nowitzki hasn't just pushed himself to the brink of a championship but has also established himself as one of the premier clutch postseason scorers.
Nowitzki has been at his best in crunch time, defined as those moments under five minutes left in game with the score within five points or fewer. He’s scored 26 points in those situations in the Finals while going 8-for-13 from the field. The entire 'Big Three' of the Miami Heat have combined to score just 21 points in crunch time.
Over the last 15 postseasons only O'Neal and Michael Jordan (1997 and 1998) have averaged over 10 points per game in the fourth quarter of an NBA Finals series. Each of those players led their teams to NBA Championships while also winning the Finals MVP award, something Nowitzki is well on his way to doing.
If the Mavericks win the title and Nowitzki takes home Finals MVP honors, the legacy that his coach was hyping up will be solidified. He would become the 11th player in NBA history to have at least 10 NBA All-Star appearances, a regular season MVP award and a Finals MVP.
More troublesome for the Heat is the fact that they are a measly 1-6 against teams that are currently above .500. Miami is scoring more than 12 fewer points per game and shooting over 8 percent less this season against teams that now have winning records. Miami's only win against such a team was last month at home against Orlando.
LeBron James led the Heat with 25 points for his 11th straight 20-point game. He also played at least 40 minutes for the seventh time this season, which is a bad omen for Miami, which is 0-7 in those games.
Dwyane Wade needs to find his shooting touch. He was just 6-of-21 from the field in this game, including 1-of-4 on 3s. Wade is 7-of-34 (20.6 percent) from the field in his past two games and an atrocious 1-of-19 (5.3 percent) on 3s in his past six contests.
Orlando won this game by finishing well in the first and fourth quarters. The Magic ended the opening quarter on a 12-2 tear to take an eight-point lead after 12 minutes. Orlando also finished the game on a 17-7 run, turning a one-point deficit into a relatively comfortable nine-point win.
Part of the reason for the Magic's late push was that Orlando held Miami without a single offensive rebound in the fourth quarter. The Heat entered the game last in the NBA in offensive rebounding at 21.9 percent but grabbed an impressive 38.2 percent of the available offensive boards in the first three quarters.
Elsewhere in the NBA...
• With a 99-95 win in Charlotte, the New York Knicks have now won five straight for the first time since a six-game win streak in January 2006. New York has also won four straight road games, its longest road win streak since a five-game run during the 2000-01 season.
• Shaquille O'Neal had 25 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Boston Celtics to an 89-83 win over the New Jersey Nets. O'Neal sets a season high for points and ties his season high for rebounds. At age 38, he is the oldest Celtic to have a 25-10 game since 40-year-old Robert Parish in 1994.
• Dirk Nowitzki scored 34 points to lead the Dallas Mavericks over the Oklahoma City Thunder, and he is now averaging 33.8 PPG against the Thunder since their relocation. LeBron James (31.5) is the only other player averaging more than 30 points per game since then versus Oklahoma City.
• Although the Minnesota Timberwolves fell to the San Antonio Spurs in overtime, Kevin Love had 32 points and 22 rebounds, just five games after posting the NBA's first 30-30 game since 1982. Love is the third player in the past 25 seasons with multiple 30-point, 20-rebound games in his team's first 16 contests, joining Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley.
George Rose/Getty Images Entertainment
Ken Olin and Timothy Busfield didn't log enough minutes to establish a meaningful plus-minus rating.
The scene from "Fletch" when Chevy Chase fantasizes he's a member of the Los Angeles Lakers has generally been regarded as the gold standard of NBA dream sequences. In addition to Chase, the sequence stars Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and the late Chick Hearn ("He's actually 6-5. With the afro, 6-9") and concludes with Chase fighting off multiple defenders with his ... teeth.
For sheer comedy, the Fletch bit wins, but narrative punch and realism, you have to give the edge to a 1989 episode from the second season of thirtysomething, starring Ken Olin. When it premiered on ABC in 1987, thirtysomething was a groundbreaking series. At that time, most one-hour dramas fell into one of three genres -- workplace (usually police precincts, hospitals, law firms), nighttime soap and action/freelance vigilantes ("The A Team," "Magnum P.I."). Thirtysomething didn't conform to any of those existing formulas. Its characters were complex, often unlikable, and dealt with neuroses like career anxiety, the stuff that complicates personal and romantic relationships, and the trade-offs you confront in adulthood. The dialogue on the show approximated how human beings spoke to each other, something that made it pretty novel at the time. Thirtysomething was occasionally self-absorbed, but so are we.
Thirtysomething took place in Philadelphia, and basketball was a recurring theme throughout the series. Ken Olin and Timothy Busfield co-owned a boutique ad agency, and were forever shooting hoops at the miniature standing basket in the bullpen. The group of friends on the show would gather to watch a big Sixers game in someone's living room, and scoring Sixers tickets or the chance to meet Charles Barkley in person would pop up as a D-story.
The best basketball content in thirtysomething's four-season run surfaces during a pivotal episode titled "Success." At the outset of the series, Olin (Michael) and Busfield (Elliot) had taken a major risk by leaving an established ad agency to start their own firm where they could be their own bosses. For the first season-plus, things were going well. Michael and Elliot had landed some key accounts, which provided a solid foundation for their fledgling agency. In "Success," their tent pole account (a decent-sized dairy company) gets bought out by a large conglomerate. Despite the fact that Michael and Elliot have done solid work for the company, the conglomerate already has a relationship with a larger firm and has every intention of moving their new acquisition's ad business to that firm. This is the equivalent of Lucky Strike leaving Sterling Cooper Draper & Pryce on "Mad Men."
So through no fault of their own and bad luck, Michael and Elliot are now on the brink of professional ruin. They're already leveraged to the hilt and can't borrow any more money. Michael, who is far more introspective, is internalizing what he sees as a personal failure. No matter how much reassurance he hears from those close to him, his conclusion remains the same: Scoreboard. And he's the goat.
Where does Michael find refuge? In the recesses of his imagination, where things play out differently:
There are a few oddities in the scene, most notably the fact that the Celtics and Sixers are playing an Eastern Conference finals game at the Forum (though the crowd shots are filmed at The Spectrum in Philadelphia). But you have to be impressed that the show was able to corral Sixers head coach Jim Lynam, Charles Barkley, Maurice Cheeks, Mike Gminski, Gerald Henderson and Ron Anderson during the season.
10 years after the episode aired, Olin had this to say about shooting the scene:
Timmy and I went down to the Forum and all the Sixers were there and there 50 photographers, Charles Barkley was there, it was a huge thing, and they said, 'OK Kenny, start doing some lay ups' and I went to do this lay-up and as I went up my feet literally went straight up and I landed flat on my back and all these cameras went click click click and Timmy says 'That was an act of God, man!'
I've always liked the fact that the play call wasn't for Michael -- it lent the scene some realism. Of course Barkley gets the ball in that situation. But when Barkley gets doubled, Michael makes the smart read and dives to the hoop, where Barkley finds him against the double-team.
The Michael character always carried a degree of self-deprecation, and it's fitting that, even as he constructs his fantasy, Michael casts himself as a role player.
What is it about the Tiger Woods story that fascinates us? Why are we tantalized by the prospect of his imperfection? Few public celebrities are more forthright about their imperfection than Charles Barkley, who calls Woods a friend. Today Barkley went on WIP in Philadelphia to discuss how Woods is handling the incident (Hat Tip: Sports Radio Interviews).
Barkley's brand and popularity are predicated on his being unfiltered, so it comes as little surprise that he criticizes Woods' decision to mediate the episode -- both with the public and law enforcement -- through public relations handlers:
...one problem that a lot of celebrities got…you have to be really careful to try to handle everything.Sometime we give like, well not me because you know I have a strict rule; I don’t want no PR person talking for me cause they don’t make it work. They aren’t going to make it better. I think he is really making a mistake in not talking to he cops and things like that. I think he is making a serious mistake...
First of all, if, if, if that happened, I think all the secrecy, his statement apologizing - I am not perfect and stuff like that. I think they are making it worse. I mean I would love for him to come out and say: 'Hey we had a disagreement. I am sorry for the uproar. Please give me my privacy.' I think the public would be cool with that. But the TMZ, National Enquirer, him keeping quiet and avoiding the cops and things I think people are going to say at this point: Hey we need to know the damn truth now. In the beginning it was like maybe the dude did have a wreck but now with all the stuff coming out with bits and pieces you are like he didn’t just hit a tree or a fire hydrant cause some other stuff was going on. I think when you don’t come out and address it… Well if he just said we had a disagreement it is over with… I think because of Tiger and who he is I think the cops would back off of him. But I don’t think he can make them look bad. If they keep coming to your damn house and you keep telling them no I think that is very dangerous… I am speaking from first hand experience you know what sir I really apologize. It is 100% my fault. Please forgive me and I got to go. For those of you who try to hang around and do like Roger Clemens or A-Rod and things like that when you are kind of like I don’t know what I was taking and things like that. It wasn’t my fault. Man it just makes it worse...
An amazing line:
"I thought I did well on the sobriety test. But clearly not good enough."
On NBA.com, Charles Barkley talks to Ernie Johnson about his recent drunk driving issues.
Some other key points:
- "This is just my bad, no excuses, it was unacceptable. I think that a DUI is unacceptable. That can't happen and I've got to challenge other people, not just celebrities or jocks. You have to really think before getting behind the wheel after you've been drinking."
- "I am certainly going to use better judgment. I'm not going to drive a car after I've been drinking. I'm going to get a driver anytime I go out in public. And I'm going to challenge all NBA players and hopefully all jocks across the board. When we go out, we really have to think before getting behind the wheel."
And then there is this exchange:
Will it go to trial?
No, I don't believe it will go to trial.
What have they told you about going to jail?
I may be looking at potentially some jail time but don't know anything yet.
Will you have to go out and do anything else?
I will have to go to alcohol counseling.
Is that something that you need?
Well, I think it's going to be good for me, to be honest. I need to make sure drinking is not a problem for me. I just want some professionals to talk to me about it.
What if the professionals tell you stop drinking?
Then I'll have to stop drinking.
I don't admire how Charles Barkley got into this situation, but I do admire how he's getting out of it.
People like to take advantage of rich athletes. They always have.
One reason they like to do that so much is because a lot of people have been successful at it. Many very wealthy athletes don't have the inclination to manage their own money, and are therefore forced to entrust others. Making a bad selection can be a fatal financial flaw.
When you get into the nitty gritty of the basketball business -- agents, managing money, preparing for the draft, and the like -- you often hear things like "there is no book on that stuff!"
The message is that athletes have no choice but to stumble around and make some mistakes.
But I have come to learn that in fact there is a book on that stuff. It's called "Money Players: A Guide to Success in Sports, Business & Life for Current and Future Pro Athletes." Financial consultant, author, and blogger Mark Isenberg wrote it and was nice enough to send me a copy (with his blessing to reprint a little bit of it that you'll see below).
Topics covered include relating to the media, dealing with team owners, nutrition, taxes, deciding whether or not to declare for the draft ... It's not deep advice on any topic, but it's a lot of common sense put into one place, and it's not hard to read or implement.
It's in keeping with a growing trend: empowering athletes to learn how to take control of their own affairs, instead of being forced to trust whichever agent or adviser happens to be around.
I think that trend, in the long run, could be a key to reducing the fraud and financial mishaps that have long dogged athletes.
For instance, here is some typical advice from "Money Players." It's plucked from a chapter about working with an investment advisor (I'm paraphrasing): Deposit your investment money with a large SEC-registered firm; empower your investment adviser to move money between funds, but not to make withdrawals; monitor your account both through the company's website (can't be doctored by your investment adviser) and through monthly statements mailed directly to your house.
It's doable and it lets the player appropriately give up the hassle of day-to-day investment decisions, while eliminating the vast majority of scams.There are also plenty of anecdotes involving NBA players, including these:
"Steep tuition" for "crash course in business school"
When NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's first money manager -- a Wall Street lawyer with a conservative investment philosophy -- died, Kareem turned to Tom Collins to be his sports agent, business manager and investment adviser. Collins was supposed to take care of everything.
Six years later, in 1986, Kareem severed his relationship with Collins. In those six years, Collins had taken out more than $9 million in loans in Kareem's name, had used Kareem's money to pay other clients, and had made risky investments that Kareem did not know about.
Kareem made two mistakes highlighted in the previous chapter. He signed an agreement giving Collins full power of attorney, and he ignored early signs of trouble. For example, Collins never provided the monthly statements to Kareem that their agreement required. When the first statement did not appear, red lights should have flashed. Then, Kareem received notice from the IRS that his taxes had not been paid for two years. Alarm bells!
By the time Kareem became aware of all of his losses (through an audit) and sued, it was too late. The money was gone.
Kareem now oversees his advisers and personally signs his checks. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, he said, "It's been a crash course in business school and I've paid a steep tuition."
"He was a good guy"
Early in Charles Barkley's basketball career, he was referred to as "The Round Mound of Rebound." Unfortunately, Sir Charles' bank account did not swell along with his belly. Barkley selected the wrong agent and financial adviser -- in his case, he hired one person to manage both functions.
Barkley on why he selected his first agent: "Lance [Luchnick] was the only agent who hadn't given me money while I was in school. When it came down to my final selection, [not offering money] worked in his favor. I thought he had been smart enough to know that I couldn't be bribed ... I chose him for the worst reason anybody could choose an agent -- write this down, kids -- because he was a good guy."
Luchnick invested Barkley's money in speculative deals that did not pan out. Barkley lost his original investment, but his problems did not end there. As Barkley notes, "When the investment goes bad, and everyone else declares bankruptcy, they keep coming after you because you're still earning money." Luchnick declared bankruptcy and Barkley won a $5-million judgment -- which is hard to collect from someone with no money.
Gone with the Wind
In 2004, former NBA star Scottie Pippen sued his former financial adviser, Robert Lunn. Pippen, who reportedly lost $17 million in deals recommended by Lunn, was awarded an $11.8-million judgment against the adviser. Lunn filed for bankruptcy, and Pippen is unlikely to collect much, if anything. Pippen also sued Katten Muchin, the reputable Chicago law firm that referred him to Lunn. That suit went nowhere, and Pippen was out the attorneys' fees. It gets worse. Pippen borrowed $4.375 million to buy a private jet (to lease out when he wasn't using it). The plane was a money pit, and Pippen was sued to recover the money, which he had personally guaranteed. Pippen lost in court and lost again on appeal. He has been ordered to pay the debt holder $5.021 million in principal, interest and attorneys' fees.
I imagine that the real key to good long-term business decisions is not just reading a book, but building the right team of advisers, and entrusting them appropriately. But how do you go about doing that? A book like this is probably a good start.
Being an NBA blogger is often inspiring. But from time to time, like any job, it can be disheartening.
If I worked in politics, however, I think I could be WAY MORE disheartened. For one thing, what happens in politics is actually supposed to be important, and informs us about things like when and where we go to war, educating our children, and solving the energy crisis.
Yet in politics, stuff like this (via MixMakers) masquerades as real debate, when really it seems to me it's people trying to find differences, essentially, mixed in with some grade school name calling (wait until the end). I salute Charles Barkley for being a little more poised, and at least trying to find common ground with Michael Savage for a heartbeat. But in the big picture, I'm sure these are not the two Americans best suited to hatching an enlightened immigration policy.
UPDATE: A journalist watched this and couldn't help but point out that Savage is using some oft-cited but apparently radically incorrect numbers about what percentage of inmates are illegal immigrants. He pointed me to this Bureau of Justice report that says:
The nation's prisons and jails held 2,078,570 men and women on June 30, 2003 ... State and federal correctional authorities held 90,700 non-citizens at midyear 2003, 2.3 percent more than a year earlier. The federal system held 34,456 noncitizens.
If you do the math that's 125,156 "noncitizen" inmates (some could be legal, right?) out of 2,078,570, which on my Blackberry's hard-to-use calculator function is 6%.
(Now I'm starting to think I shouldn't have even posted this. Apologies to those of you wondering if this still a basketball blog.)