Posted on: September 22, 2011 4:58 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2011 5:01 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
When the ongoing NBA lockout is framed as a battle between billionaire owners and millionaire players, it's often not an exaggeration.
Forbes.com released its annual list of the 400 wealthiest Americans this week, and more than a dozen NBA owners and minority owners appeared on the list, among the new school technology geniuses and old money investment titans.
The NBA's richest individual owner, according to Forbes, is Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates, the overall richest No. 1 ranked person on the list. Allen's net worth is reported as $13.2 billion and he ranks No. 23 overall on the list. He recently decided to sell one of his private islands.
Somewhat incredibly, Allen is more than twice as rich as the next individual NBA team majority owner. In second place is Amway co-founder Richard DeVos, owner of the Orlando Magic, who is ranked No. 60 with a net worth pegged at $5 billion.
Rounding out the top five richest individual NBA owners are Miami Heat owner Micky Arison (No. 75, $4.2 billion, Carnival Cruises), Denver Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke (No. 107, $3.2 billion, Walmart) and new Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores (No. 159, $2.5 billion private equity). The Nuggets are operated by Kroenke's son, Josh.
The other seven NBA majority owners on the list are: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban (No. 171, $2.3 billion), Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor (No. 242, $1.8 billion), Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon (No. 273, $1.6 billion), Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert (No. 293, $1.5 billion), Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley (No. 293, $1.5 billion) Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling (No. 293, $1.5 billion) and new Philadelphia 76ers owner Joshua Harris (No. 309, $1.45 billion).
Los Angeles Lakers minority owner Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who recently purchased the ownership stake previously held by Lakers legend Magic Johnson, ranked No. 39 with a net worth of $7 billion.
Hat tip: IAmAGM.com.
Posted on: August 21, 2011 4:32 pm
Edited on: August 22, 2011 12:24 am
By Matt Moore
We live in an immediate society. The internet, social media, the ever-accelerating news cycle, everything means that the next 30 seconds is 10 times more important than the last 30 seconds regardless of what actually happened in the past 30 seconds. As a result, we lose perspective on what stands truly relevant from the past. The NBA is no exception. So in an attempt to merge the two worlds (since, as a blog, we love/hate/want to be BFFs within the next 30 seconds), we'll be bringing you a look at players past and present, in relation to one another.
Previously: Isiah Thomas vs. Chris Paul | Larry Bird vs. Dirk Nowitzki | Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant | Moses Malone vs. Dwight Howard
Next up: Magic Johnson vs. LeBron James
Even though we've tried desperately to hammer this home throughout this series, this one, due its participants, requires an even stronger preface than previously stated. So please, for the love of Auerbach, read this and let it sink in.
There is no real comparison in terms of greatness between LeBron James and Magic Johnson. By the time Magic Johnson was 27, which James will turn this December, he had not one, not two, but three championships under his belt. Magic was beloved by everyone who ever met him, everyone who played with or against him, even by his biggest rival, the man he will always be measured against. He brought the Lakers to the forefront of the NBA and helped avenge a disturbing pattern of L.A. being owned by the Celtics. He wowed with his passing, he dazzled with his scoring, he stunned with his rebounding, and he owns three of the most famous moments in NBA history. He played center in the Finals in a crucial game for crying out loud. He managed to build his business assets and party like a rockstar without ever getting caught or having it blow up in his face, he managed to be cocky while having everyone believe he was humble pie. He credited teammates and dealth with media storms by hiding out instead of exacerbating it. Magic won, constantly and consistently. Magic never had people question whether he shrank from the moment. He's Magic freaking Johnson.
This post is not a debate on who was better. It's to examine their games and careers and see where they are alike and where they are different. We're only now beginning to be able to put the 2011 NBA Finals into consideration for how it affects James' career, and while he's going to have a half-dozen more chances to rewrite the tale, the early returns are damaging.
And this is where it's important to bring up statistics. It's often said that most "statheads" or "geeks," "statnerds," "sabretricians," or whatever youw ant to call them preach an all-or-nothing approach. As in, if I believe that using points scored per possession is a wiser approach than points per game, or believing a better indicator of how much a guy rebounds is the percentage of available caroms he snags than rebounds per game that I automatically toss out all other indications. That somehow because I think PER is a good indicator of efficiency, not of value, but efficiency, that I'm somehow going to think that the players better than Kobe Bryant in PER are better than Kobe Bryant at basketball. It robs those of us who want to take all the evidence possible to concoct an opinion of the ability to toe the line. You're either with the numbers, or against. You either value big shots in big games for big wins, or silly numbers on a chart. And it works both ways, as too often numbers-heavy analysts will lose sight of the fact that sometimes a play does leave a team demoralized and they never recover. Happens in real life, happens on the floor. There's a middle ground.
That middle-ground is in beautiful stark relief when we consider James and Magic. Here's a nice start for you.
Through their first seven seasons, James has scored nearly 7,000 more points in a little over 4000 more minutes. Per 36 minutes, James has averaged 24.8 points per game, Magic 18.6. James averaged a line of 27.7-7.1-7.0-1.7-1.8 with 3.3 turnovers per game, Magic 18.6-7.3-10.6-2.1-.5 with 3.8 turnovers per game. James has a career PER Of 26.9, Johnson had one of 23.5 through seven seasons (Magic was one year older at that point). In short, James' overall production has been better up until this point. But to get there you have to consider the years where Magic was sharing the ball with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, when he was finding his way, when he wasn't producing other-worldly numbers. James was the man from day one.
Instead, take a look at James' eighth season in the league versus' Johnson's. The gap closes considerably. James scored less than a point more per 36 minutes, less than a rebound more per 36 minutes, and Johnson's 12.1 assists to James 6.5 is stunning. The PER gap closes to 27.3 for James versus 27.0 for Magic. And Johnson had a 47.2 Assist percentage, meaning nearly half of all the Lakers' Showtime assists in 1986-1987 came from Magic. James' closest to that was a 41.8 percent mark in 2009-2010, his last with Cleveland.
But the difference that presents itself most clearly to me is connected to the metrics, but not self-evident. Magic Johnson's greatest gift was his ability to excel above and beyond what was necessary, specifically in the role his team required of him. Magic filled a need better than any player in NBA history. If it was rebounding, he'd crash the glass. If it was setting up teammates, he'd drop double-digit assists. And if called upon, he could score at will (Johnson is, across the board, a better shooter than James, though last season James was only 1.2 percentage points behind Johnson in his seventh season). The 1980 Finals' Game 6 where Magic Johnson started at center is the easiest reference point, but that overlooks a decade of play wherein Johnson played point forward better than anyone ever had or ever will, most likely. His versatility is his strength, and it is both a bond and fracture between he and James' game.
When James signed with the Heat along with Chris Bosh, immediately everyone started conceptualizing how this three-headed monster would work. Very early on, Erik Spoelstra confirmed that we would see both James and Wade run point. And throughout the season, James indeed plyayed as the primary ball-handler. His versatility is a huge strengthpoint, in that James is a gifted passer who can make impossible passes, has terrific vision, and can use his size and strentgh to overwhelm an opponent to the breaking point, just before dropping the ball off to a teammate for an easy score.
The problem is that James too often seems intent on fulfilling an agenda. When Johnson played, it was without purpose, flowing within the rhythm of the game. James instead is like an orchestra conductor who wants the entire symphony to stop on a dime and switch to whatever new piece of music he's selected. Teammates should get out of the way because he's coming through. Now they should cut to the basket because he's looking for the baseline cutter. Now they should work to spot up. Now they should try and free him off a pick and roll. If a point guard's responsibility is to not only manage the game, but to identify the opponent's weaknesses and attack them, no one has educated James to that point. It may be a matter of James always believing it is he who should dictate what the defense should do and not the other way around, but that kind of dogma is best fit when you have a system to rely on. Phil Jackson never changed his gameplan because the Triangle would take care of itself (and because he had Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kobe Bryant to lean on, but let's not get into that). James has never operated in a rigorous discipline like that. He's always been granted decision-making power, the trust to deliver, as Magic often was. The problem is that Magic always knew how to identify where he needed to be, how he needed to play. James too often simply tries to slam the square peg into the round hole. The fact that he's as successful as he is wiht it is a testament to his ability.
In a way, you almost have to blame Jordan for part of the discrepancy. That's the man who James has always looked up, modeled himself after. And that's who we've expected him to be as a basketball society. The pull-up jumper, loop-de-loop layup, free-throw-line dunk contest winner, we want all of that, again. And James too often seems trapped in emulating it. He dabbles with the post, then feels like he's done enough time there and goes back to the crossover pull-up jumper. He never takes the time to recognize "Hey, Shawn Marion is 33 and DeShawn Stevenson is much smaller than me. If I post up, Chandler has to help and that probably means I'm going to the line 30 times." Some think that's because James is lazy. It's hard to see how an individual who is as good at basketball as James is, who is in the physical condition he's in could be lazy. Instead, it's an expectation Magic never had to face. Deferring to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar only made him more popular. Deferring to Dwyane Wade makes James weak. He's supposed to hit the mid-range jumper, the fadeaway. He's supposed to be Jordan. In reality, his career would benefit in no way more than trying to emulate Magic. On and off the court.
Johnson was a media darling. That smile permeates through the years. Magic partied through the years as athletes do, but managed to never allow his image to get out and be tarnished. Part of this was because the internet didn't exist. Part of this is because Johnson always had a firmer lock on his image, despite James being the one with the marekting company built around him. Johnson had an epic rivalry. James instead embraced two of his rivals in playing with them. Johnson always managed to find the perfect way to play in the clutch, whether it was scoring, passing, rebounding, or defense. James is seen as a quitter who fails in the clutch. Johnson retired with the same team that drafted him and has a statue outside the arena. James abandoned his home-state team and people burned his jerseys.
Of course lost in all this is that Johnson walked into one of the most successful franchises in NBA history, and was partnered with the player who would go on to become the all-time scoring leader in league history. James instead entered a perennial underdog and had such great talent come beside him as Wally Szczerbiak, Ben Wallace, and Mo Williams. It doesn't change or affect James' decisions or how he's percieved, nor should it. But these things should be mentioned in full disclosure.
All this time, James has been trying to build himself around Jordan, or create his own iconic image. Maybe instead he should have focused on the leader of Showtime, the man whose talents most closely resemble his.
All data courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.
Posted on: August 19, 2011 1:12 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2011 1:33 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
NBA 2K12 has finally revealed its full list of the 15 basketball legends that will be included in this year's game. The group is led by the game's three cover boys -- Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson -- and also includes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Julius Erving, who were revealed in early August.
The final ten names, in alphabetical order: Wilt Chamberlain, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Scottie Pippen, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Jerry West.
The final list aligns fairly well with the suggestions we made a few weeks back. Chamberlain, Olajuwon, Robertson, Russell, Thomas and West were all included on our list of preferred candidates. Of course, that means there are some of bones to pick with the remaining four names: Ewing, Pippen, Stockton, Malone.
For starters, that group makes the overall list really heavy on the 1990s, a time when Jordan was king. That makes sense from a marketing and business standpoint, as those are often seen as the golden years of the NBA for men aged 25-40, presumably a major demographic who will be purchasing this game. But if you're going to go all 1990s, leaving Charles Barkley and the insanely fun early-1990s Phoenix Suns off the list is inexcusable. Barkley over Ewing or one of the Jazz pair is a no-brainer.
NBA 2K12 smartly mitigated against widespread snubbing, though, by including a whole host of other legends in a roundabout way. How? As Kotaku.com notes, Barkley and other top-50 players like Elgin Baylor, Shaquille O'Neal, Pete Maravich, Clyde Drexler, David Robinson, Earl Monroe and Walt Frazier will be available as players on the opposing teams facing off against the legends in a series of "NBA's Greatest" rivalry games. Barkley will appear as a member of Dr. J's 76ers and a young O'Neal will be on the 1994-1995 Orlando Magic. Here's the full list of match-ups.
Posted on: August 5, 2011 2:40 pm
By Matt Moore
Here's a fun one. Let's take the greatest collection of NBA talent ever assembled, based on production, historical legacy, the convenient exaggeration provided by time, and "Oh My God" factor of ability and then throw them up against the 2008 version of that team, hampered by a lack of said historical perspective, the absence of the greatest player of all time, coming just months after arguably the three greatest players eligible to play for said team were eliminated in embarassing fashion. How does that work out?
In short order, the 1992 U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball Team, AKA "The Dream Team" was better than the 2008 U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball Team, AKA "The Redeem Team."
Shocking, I know.
But that's the story today, straight from the point guard's mouth, as Magic Johnson spoke about the team and how it compares to the most recent squad. Video courtesy of the L.A. Times, along with the subsequent quote from the Magic Man:
"When you think about the Olympics and the Dream Team, I have to throw it to you," Johnson said. "Kobe [Bryant] and them won by 22 points. Ehh, 22 points? We won by an average of 44 points. So when they want to step up to that, you tell them we'll be waiting on them."via Magic Johnson discusses Dream Team's superiority to Redeem Team - latimes.com.
Well, then, Earvin. Way to go out on a limb.
Johnson's right, of course. But using margin of victory? That's a pretty thin construct. Jack McCallum used a much better system for establishing Dream Team I's dominance. There's any number of ways to prove it. But margin of victory? The international basketball community is quite a bit better now than it was back in '92 and if you want proof of that take a look at the Gasol brothers and the Finals MVP. But beyond that? The ability to run it up should never be used to determine the gap between two clubs. It's an insignificant detail and Magic, who came from an era that focused on wins and losses more than statistical production far more than the balance does now should be aware that the scoreboard doesn't always tell the story.
At the same time... come on. Jordan. Magic. Bird. And whether it's a lack of perspective due to recency, the glorified impact of legacy for those players as undisupted Hall of Famers while Kobe Bryant is still writing his story, let alone the younger crew on Redeem Team '08, the fact remains. Primacy. The first to come will always make the greatest impact. There will be those who will always say Russell or Wilt was better than Shaq or Hakeem (and they probably were, based on all the evidence they have) simply based on their appearance coming sooner in the collective history of the sports. And so every Dream Team will live in the first's shadow, just as every talented perimeter player will live in Jordan's.
It's a no-win proposition, but hey. It makes for a fun story to think about on a slow day.
And no matter how you feel about it, Bird checking James and vice versa sounds like a fun watch.
Posted on: August 3, 2011 7:32 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2011 7:43 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
A few weeks back, we noted that a trio of NBA legends -- Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan, Los Angeles Lakers guard Magic Johnson and Boston Celtics forward Larry Bird -- would grace commemoratice covers of this year's NBA 2K12 video game. It turns out those three won't be the only legendary basketball players to be featured in this year's game.
IGN.com reports that NBA 2K12 will feature a game mode called "NBA's Greatest" which will allow the user to play through 15 historic games and control 15 basketball legends. "His Airness is back," a trailer for the game declares. "This time he brought friends."
Players announced so far are: Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Julius "Dr. J" Erving, plus 10 other legends to be announced in the coming weeks. The historic games feature the entire team rosters, accurate stadiums, and are presented to look like TV broadcasts from their respective era.We can all breathe a sign of relief that Abdul-Jabbar made the cut. Lord knows he wouldn't have taken a snubbing very well after not immediately getting a statue at Staples Center like he has demanded.
While the other ten names on the list haven't been announced yet, here's who I would pick, in no particular order. Note: We're looking for video game fun and a good diversity of eras here. Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Pete Maravich, Jerry West, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley, Isiah Thomas and Elgin Baylor. Honorable mention goes to guys like Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, Moses Malone and Bernard King.
As for the snubs? Willis Reed's return from injury needs to be included in the most memorable games list somehow and it's difficult to leave off guys like John Havlicek, David Robinson, Bob Cousy, George Mikan, John Stockton and Karl Malone.
Here's a promotional video trailer of the game courtesy of IGM.com. NBA 2K12 is set to be released on Oct. 4, 2011.
Images above taken from video trailer.
Posted on: August 2, 2011 7:26 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
Back in October, Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson sold his stake in the team. Within weeks, rumors surfaced that the Basketball Hall of Famer was interested in owning another NBA team or perhaps bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles.
It's been nearly a year and nothing substantive has developed on the basketball and football fronts. But do Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers represent a potential new target?
The Dodgers have dealt with all sorts of financial problems recently, culminating in a filing for bankruptcy protection in June. The team's owner, Frank McCourt, is in a fairly desperate situation and a deep-pocketed celebrity with local connections like Johnson would seem like a dream candidate to take the team off of his hands.
Johnson, who happens to own a stake in a minor league baseball team, was asked about his interest in the Dodgers at a recent forum hosted by a Los Angeles Times writer at Loyola Maramount University.
"If the Dodgers ever came up for sale," Johnson said. "Would I take a look at it with some other people? Of course you would look at it. Because the brand is so strong. As we speak today, they do have an owner. It's never good to talk about an organization that already has an owner. I will say this: the Dodgers brand is amazing. The O'Malley family were great owners."
The O'Malley family owned the Dodgers from the organization's time in Brooklyn through to 1998, when the family sold to News Corporation, who in turn sold the team to the McCourts in 2004. Under the O'Malley family, the Dodgers appeared in the World Series nine times after the move from Brooklyn, winnning five titles, including two in the 1980s.
Johnson clearly remembers that legacy of winning.
"When I hit this town over 30 years ago, the Lakers were on Page 3," Johnson said. "The Dodgers were on the front page of Sports. This was a Dodgers town. It was amazing the run the Dodgers had when I first hit this town. This town has a love affair with the Dodgers that was amazing. [Former manager Tommy] Lasorda was probably the most special, colorful manager, he knew baseball. It was a special time. I was always wondering, 'When will the Lakers get on the front page of the L.A. Times?' We had a lot of work to do. We sure won this town over. I remember when the Dodgers were the team."
So, will Johnson decide to turn the team into his team?
Here's the video of Johnson's comments courtesy of YouTube user losangelestimes.
Posted on: July 21, 2011 3:17 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 11:25 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
NBA legend Michael Jordan graced the cover of NBA 2K11 last year and, by all accounts, that decision was a smash success, as the game reportedly sold more than five million copies internationally.
As a follow-up, 2K Sports will be putting the Chicago Bulls guard on the cover of this year's edition, NBA2K12, along with two other extremely recognizable faces: Boston Celtics forward Larry Bird and Los Angeles Lakers guard Magic Johnson. That's right: triple the pleasure, triple the fun.
USAToday.com has more.
CNN.com reports that the triple cover concept could be a first for a sports video game.
Argent said the three covers for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions will be shipped in equal numbers to each retail location in the U.S. He said all other platform versions and non-U.S. locations will only get the Jordan cover.Each of the covers -- pictured above -- features an action shot of the Hall of Famer performing a signature move. Jordan is shown driving to the rim; Bird is pictured shooting a pull-up jumper; Johnson is swinging through with a baby hook shot. Each player's name and jersey number appears at the bottom.
An interesting question: How much was the decision to use the trio influenced by the fact that the NBA is currently in a lockout that could easily extend well past the game's launch date? Was it safer to pick NBA legends to avoid a controversy or is this simply a testament to Jordan's massive, enduring popularity?
Original pictures via Darren Rovell on Lockerz.com.
Posted on: June 17, 2011 6:42 pm
Edited on: June 17, 2011 6:48 pm
Hall of Famer Magic Johnson takes to Twitter to bash New York Post columnist Peter Vecsey. Posted by Ben Golliver.
Boy, it's been a tough week for New York Post NBA columnist Peter Vecsey.
First, Vecsey was sued for libel by an ESPN writer upset with something he had written about the Carmelo Anthony trade negotiations with the New York Knicks last winter.
Then, Basketball Hall of Famer and NBA legend Magic Johnson took to Twitter to bash Vecsey, who used to appear on NBC's television broadcasts of the NBA.
"Is Peter Vecsey still on TV? That's right, no, because he wasn't very good.What prompted these comments? We can't be totally sure, but a recent Vecsey column included a shot at Johnson.
A former player finds it unreal for Magic Johnson to go an entire Finals as an ABC analyst without offering the slightest insight whatsoever. "I assume he remembers something about the game."Somewhat improbably, both men are correct here.
Johnson isn't particularly insightful or engaging in his NBA analysis these days. Sure, he's still got the Magic charisma, but he's not dropping knowledge bombs left and right.
And Vecsey isn't nearly as well connected as he once was, as evidenced by his swing and a miss on the Anthony trade talks. His one big get in recent years was the Gilbert Arenas gun in the locker room scandal, but some of the details in his original report didn't entirely hold up.
Does this war of words really amount to anything?
Probably not. But Vecsey isn't one to take a shot without responding, so this could just be the beginning.