Tag:Kevin Durant
Posted on: October 12, 2011 3:02 pm

Young players to see appeal drop during lockout

Posted by Royce Young

Lost games do a lot of things. It ticks off fans and it loses money for both players and owners. But that's just the obvious stuff. Losing games has an underside that affect a number of different things. One being player appeal and marketability. Which if you weren't paying attention, is one way players make a hefty part of their income.

Via USA Today, the lockout has already had a pretty major impact on players' marketability and that's before games were even being missed.
It appears that established, veteran players are stable. The younger ones, however, are taking most of the hit from consumers. According to Henry Schafer, executive vice president of The Q Scores Company which measures consumer appeal of athletes and other personalities, the rating for Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, John Wall and Danny Granger dropped from an average of 21 in March to 14 last month. Dirk Nowitzki was the only NBA player with a better Q score (from 18 to 25 during the same span), a likely reflection of winning his first NBA title with the Dallas Mavericks. He also hasn't been active in the lockout.
And like I said, that's without even a single game being lost yet. That's just from a few dark summer months. So imagine what's to happen if the lockout starts dipping its toe into December, January or even more. What were once shining beacons of the league, players like Griffin, Kevin Durant, Rose and John Wall will see their profile drop dramatically.

Which is something the league thrives on. Whether the league wants to admit it or not, the NBA is a league of stars and right now it's in a great place in that department because there are 20 or so young players with a bunch of starpower. But set their profile and appeal back and not only have you hurt their endorsement opportunities, but you've always indirectly damaged the faces of the league.

Without games, people kind of just forget. Without Griffin's dunks highlighting SportsCenter, without slick Rose YouTube clips of him breaking ankles making the rounds all over the Internet, the casual fan will put their time, and money, into other things. The NBA has always taken a back seat to the NFL until February. You can only imagine how far that seat will be back if the NBA's not even playing games.

With lost games, there's a laundry list of ramifications. You know the league -- and the players -- know all about what's coming as a result. As David Stern said, enormous consequences.
Posted on: October 11, 2011 10:54 am
Edited on: October 11, 2011 1:18 pm

Hey players: Quit treating us like we're stupid

Posted by Royce Young

I'm on the players' side. Let me get that out there first.

I see their position as more reasonable than the owners'. I've never liked the idea of the owners trying to guarantee themselves profits. I've never liked the reality that they are probably negotiating without the intention to really get a deal done before games are lost. I don't like the idea that they are asking for so much -- salary cuts, grand system changes and major revenue concessions from the players.

If I was drawing a line in the sand, I'm going to stand on the players' side.

That said, I really wish they would shut up.

After David Stern announced the first two weeks of the NBA were canceled because a deal couldn't be made in the eleventh hour, the players climbed atop their soap box and went to work. They started tweeting. Steve Nash tweeted, "Genuinely sorry to all the employees in and around NBA arenas losing work." Andrew Bogut tweeted, "Ticket ushers, local bars/clubs/food, police officers, security, in arena food and drink, hotels,local small businesses,should I keep going? We understand owners have to make $ and that is what its all come down too. We just want to play. The following ppl are the 1s who get hurt."

And if you followed along Monday, the players started a little social media campaign declaring "LET US PLAY!" much like the NFL players did during their lockout. The players want to play. They're trying to make that clear.

But they're also using some slimy PR to do so. "Let us play" and all the tweets following Stern's announcing about "just wanting to play ball" try and make it seem like the players have no hand in what's going on. They're trying to put out a message that it's entirely the league and entirely the owners preventing them from putting on their uniforms and shooting a round ball through a hoop. They're begging -- "please, PLEASE let us play!" --  as if they have no control over anything. As if for no good reason, the owners put locks on the arena doors and are keeping them out.

Here it is, plain and simple: You really want to play? You really want to put these ticket takers and security guards you supposedly feel so awful for back to work? Put your money where your tweets are. Prove it. Make a deal.

I tweeted this same sentiment last night and Kevin Durant tweeted back, "u want us to take that 47/53 deal huh? U kno that's bogus." Yeah, it is but honestly, I don't really care what you take. I just want basketball. And if you REALLY do too, you'll take a few thousand less a year in order to play. 

Now I know: The owners' 47 percent BRI split isn't exactly a fair deal. And neither is asking for salary rollbacks, a hard cap or whatever else. I'm with you. I get it. I'd feel inclined to tell the owners to shove it too. You want a deal that's fair to you and to future players. If the league's going to experience billions in revenue, you want your rightful cut. Especially since those billions come mainly as a result of you. Again, I understand. What's fair is fair.

But don't treat me like I'm an idiot (though I very well may be). "Let us play" isn't an honest representation of the players' situation. We're not stupid. We're fully capable of grasping why there's a lockout and why the NBA will be missing games. You want your money and the owners want theirs. There's a lot to split up and you want to make sure you get a fair shake of it.

But let's not sugarcoat this crap anymore. You're a millionaire because you play basketball well enough that someone will pay you for it. You make a really good living doing that job. And regardless of whatever deal you agree to, you're still going to make a crapton of money doing that job. Is it fair? Maybe not. But go ahead and feel sorry for yourself while you sleep on a mattress filled with money.

If you want to play, you can. All you have to do is say yes. I understand why you haven't and I don't blame you for it. But don't try and make us think that all you want to do is play basketball. Don't try and trick fans into feeling sorry for you.

Be honest: You want to play but you want your cut too. And that's why those ticket takers and security guards and parking garage attendants won't have work for a couple weeks at least. Don't act like there's not blood on your hands too. It's insulting.

Forget trying to gain sympathy from fans. We're not dumb. We know why the league canceled games. We know why you're not allowed to play. Billionaires and millionaires couldn't agree about money. And we feel so sorry for you about that.
Posted on: October 10, 2011 1:18 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 1:51 pm

NBPA launches 'Let us play' Twitter campaign

Posted by Ben Golliver


With labor negotiations continuing and the possibility that the NBA cancels the first two weeks of its 2011-2012 regular season on Monday, National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher called on his union's members to show their solidarity and to appeal to public sentiment by launching a campaign on Twitter.

Fisher explained the concept in a letter to all players that was obtained by SI.com.
Chris Paul and I will also be utilizing our personal social networking channels to show the fans and you all, that we are united and want to get back to work under a fair deal. On Monday, Chris and I will tweet and post "LET US PLAY." This was used by the NFL players and many will be joining us on Monday and retweeting the same message to show their support for our players. I will also be using the hash tag #StandUnited after all my messages until this lockout is over. We invite you each to do the same. To show our unity and to remind the fans that this is not our choice and we would like to go back to work and play the game they love to support.
Within hours, the message had been tweeted out by Fisher, Paul, Miami Heat All-Star guard Dwyane Wade, Heat All-Star forward LeBron James, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant. Among the many other NBA players to participate: Jarrett Jack, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Marquis Daniels, Eric Maynor, Devin Ebanks, Nazr Mohammed, Serge Ibaka, and Anthony Tolliver.

By early Monday afternoon, the phrase "LET US PLAY" was trending nationally in the United States on the social networking site.

Many players also posted messages pointing out that the NBA's current labor impasse is the result of a lockout by the league's owners rather than a strike by the league's players.

Back in January, the National Football Players Association launched a similar campaign in the midst of their labor negotiations with the NFL.
Posted on: October 10, 2011 9:13 am

Video: John Wall scores 55, Durant 55 at Goodman

By Matt Moore

While the NBA and NBPA were slugging it out over, apparently, nothing Sunday night, Goodman League played Drew League in a rematch. This time the California-based Goodman League came out on top, but what made the narrow win more impressive is that they survived 105 points from John Wall and Kevin Durant. That's right. Kevin Durant scored 50 points, and he wasn't the top scorer on his own team. That's how ridiculous these exhibitions are. Here are the highlights including some of John Wall's as he dropped 55 points in the loss. 

Posted on: October 8, 2011 5:16 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2011 5:24 pm

Durant wouldn't give up $20 million over CBA

Posted by Ben Golliverkevin-durant-smile

On Thursday, Yahoo Sports detailed the active role played by Boston Celtics All-Star forward Kevin Garnett in the ongoing labor negotiations. Garnett, who is 35 and set to make $21.2 million in 2011-2012, has been urging his fellow players to stand firm in collective bargaining negotiations despite the fact that he stands to lose more money than anyone not named Kobe Bryant if the coming season is delayed or cancelled.

Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant said on Friday he wasn't capable of the same sacrifice that Garnett is prepared to make during a Twitter conversation with Nate Jones, an employee of the agency that represents him, Goodwin Sports Management. 

"Would u give up 20 million for the better of the CBA?" Durant asked Jones. "I wouldn't do it."

Jones rightly pointed out that Garnett isn't necessarily "giving up" the money, but simply putting the money at risk in the name of leverage in the ongoing CBA negotiations. Jones later clarified that Durant "wasn't saying he thinks the players should just accept 50/50," a reference to the owner's current reported down-the-middle proposal for a revenue split. The National Basketball Players Association has been pushing for something closer to a 53 percent share for the players, which is still down from the 57 percent they were paid under the last agreement.

This is a very interesting and honest admission from Durant, but it shouldn't be surprising, even though he is one of the league's brightest stars. His statement isn't evidence that he's a "greedy millionaire" and it doesn't represent disloyalty to his union.

Really, it's evidence that his perspective is shaped by two key factors: the presence of restrictive rookie contracts in the just expired CBA and his age.

Durant, 23 years old and the NBA's scoring champ for the past two seasons, has had his salary set in stone by the NBA's collective bargaining agreement for his entire 4-year career. Basketball-Reference.com puts his career earnings at $19.5 million over four years and while he has numerous national endorsement deals, there's a decent shot that after taxes and expenses Durant doesn't have $20 million in the bank. In other words, all Durant is saying is that he wouldn't give up what amounts to his lifetime savings to secure a stronger collective bargaining agreement. That seems to be a fair position.

Garnett, on the other hand, has banked some $270 million in salary over the course of his 16-year NBA career. Six times he was paid more than $20 million per season; another six times he was paid between $16 million and $20 million. Over the past two seasons, Durant has been in the MVP discussion and has been of similar importance to the Thunder as Garnett has been to the Celtics. Durant took home nearly $11 million; Garnett was paid more than $35 milllion.

While $20 million is $20 million, the relative hit that Garnett would take from such a sacrifice is peanuts compared to the impact a similar sacrifice would have on Durant. It's quite possible that in 10 years, with an extra $150 million in contracts in hand, Durant would feel differently than he does today. 
The worst thing that you can say about Durant here is that he's self-interested. That's no crime in the ongoing lockout or anywhere else in our country, a nation built on pursuing self-interest free of restrictions. NBA officials, NBA owners, rich NBA players, average NBA players, below-average NBA players, agents, stadium employees, media and fans have are all self-interested in this labor struggle. 

The bigger issue raised by these comments is where non-stars stand in all of this. Durant, now that he has completed his rookie deal, has a lucrative five-year, guaranteed contract coming his way no matter what. Indeed, he is set to make $13.6 million next season. For players without multi-year contracts and without the skills to ensure large amounts of future income, the temptation to take whatever deal is on the table and get back to work is very real, and increasing by the week.

Garnett has, without question, put his money where his mouth is this week. But his money, frankly, is unimaginable to the average player. It's virtually impossible for Garnett to lead by example here because his earned income, despite public perception, is such an exception, rather than the rule.
Posted on: October 2, 2011 12:23 pm

Video: LeBron and Wall exchange awesome plays

Posted by Royce Young

Chris Paul hosted a charity game in Winston Salem Saturday night and while I think most of us are a bit fatigued by these All-Star pickup games, this one produced some nasty highlights. Who won? I have no idea. Nor do I care. Nor should you.

As it should, because joining CP3 was LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and John Wall. And for about three minutes, Wall and LeBron totally stole the show with LeBron finished a wild two-hand reverse dunk and then Wall responding with a behind-the-back dunk. Then LeBron threw himself an oop, then Wall put down one off the backboard from CP3. Back and forth, one stellar play after another. All without an semblance of defense too. Go figure.

Durant led the way with 48, CP3 had 39, Gay 38, LeBron 30 and Wade 32.

(Interesting note: Via CP3, 1,072,532 viewed the game online, which streamed for free on Paul's website. People are missing their basketball.)

But here's the thing with these vidoes: While nice and certainly a good fix while we're waiting for basketball, it just serves as a very obvious reminder as to what we'll be missing if there's lost games. Which makes me physically ill.
Posted on: September 29, 2011 5:05 pm
Edited on: September 29, 2011 5:06 pm

How important is team chemistry in winning?

Posted by Royce Young

Chemistry isn't just something that Walter White is good at. It's a basketball buzzword, that hidden ingredient that can supposedly take a good team straight to greatness.

Build a team with talent, add a good coach and make sure they all like each other and you've got a recipe for good things. Isiah Thomas had chemistry as a major part of "The Secret," which is the secret formula to winning. The right mix of stars, role players and quality chemistry means success.

Everyone embraces that idea. Everyone agrees that it's better to like your teammates than not. Everyone knows that if you've got two guys on the floor that hate each other's guts, it's going to affect their ability to win.

But the question is, how much does it matter? And moreover, why does it matter?

Dwyane Wade admitted this week that he feels the real reason the Mavericks topped his super-loaded Heat team is because they were mixed better. He said, "One thing that Dallas beat us at – they had more chemistry than us. They had a game plan and we were still figuring ours out in our first year together."

Chemistry can kind of be a cop-out though. When you're losing and things are working right, it's easy to just say, "It's our chemistry, man." The Heat certainly lacked a feel for each other at times. Between LeBron and Wade, it was a teeter-totter on who got the ball with Chris Bosh awkwardly hanging in the balance. It was really a basketball science fair project. The Heat were putting the limits of basketball chemistry to the test and I suppose they failed since they lost, but there's always time to improve.

Wade's referencing on-court chemistry though. What about just general locker room mood? The off-court chemistry. Is it equally as important? Here's the thing: I think with one, comes the other. If you get along off the court, you're likely to get along on it. I'm not totally sure it works the other way -- see: Kobe and Shaq -- but it's always better to like the guy next to you rather than not.

What made me really start thinking about it was the supposed rift between Russell Westbrook and Kendrick Perkins. The Thunder -- a team known worldwide for their outstanding chemistry -- traded away Jeff Green, a player Kevin Durant, Westbrook and James Harden referred to as a "brother," for Perkins.

The Thunder really we the ideal model of "The Secret," except for one flaw: Jeff Green really isn't good, at least not where the Thunder were playing him. So general manager Sam Presti risked chemistry trading away brother Jeff to bring in a big, burly, scowly center.

With the Perkins/Westbrook supposed scuffle, the fact is, chemistry is important, but really mostly when you're losing. It's easy to stick together when you're winning. But when you lose, things get tested. That's really where it affected the Celtics most. Nothing was wrong with them except their heads were shaken after Perk was dealt. And when they started slipping, they had actual evidence for why they were sulking. See? We need Perk! Maybe with Perk in the locker room, the Celtics would've been able to stay together. Maybe because he was gone, the team went into a funk and stopped trusting each other. Who knows. Chemistry certainly matters, but mostly when times are bad. What happens to the Thunder if they start next season 5-11 or something? Will fingers get pointed? Will Perk and Westbrook clash more? Will Durant have to try and put his foot down? It's all rosy until it's not.

Here's how important Jeff Green was to the Thunder: Presti actually cried during the press conference announcing the deal. If you want to know about team chemistry, the Thunder with Jeff Green were the model. Every player loved each other the same. All that Westbrook vs. Durant stuff was yet to come and honestly, it might've never surfaced if Green had stayed on the roster. He was the most veteran of their young core, the steady, calming influence.

But Presti obviously was ready and willing to risk that chemistry for the sake of bringing in a player that actually strengthened the roster. Not that Perkins was some kind of bad guy that couldn't get along with teammates. In fact, his relationship with the Celtics was almost exactly the same thing as Green in OKC.

The Celtics were shaken when Perkins was traded. Ainge dared to mess with Boston's brotherhood and in the end, paid for it. Was it because the chemistry was shaken or just because the team was kind of a mess, considering Perkins was replaced by Nenad Krstic, a broken Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal. Ask a basketball chemist and it's because Ainge tinkered with the winning locker room formula. Maybe it's a case by case thing, but clearly the Thunder were able to move past it. In the end, it was more about matchups, ability and rosters, not some imaginary force where friendships when games.

It all matters to a degree when you're trying to win, but chemistry alone doesn't win, both on and off the court. Chemistry's just one of the ingredients in the larger recipe for winning.
Posted on: September 27, 2011 12:46 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2011 5:52 pm

NBA 2K12 overall player ratings unveiled

Posted by Ben Golliver


Player ratings for the popular basketball video game, NBA 2K12, continue to leak in advance of the game's Oct. 4 release.

A few weeks back, we noted that Miami Heat All-Star forward LeBron James was poised to lead the league in overall ranking with a 98, topping Los Angeles Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant, who checked in at 94.

Unofficially, just nine current NBA players check in with ratings at or above "90".  All nine, including James and Bryant,  were All-Stars last season. The others: Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams

A number of teams from the past are also included in the game. The 1992-1993 Chicago Bulls are included, led by Michael Jordan, who is rated a 99, and Scottie Pippen, who is rated a 90. Jordan also receives a 99 on the 1997-1998 iteration of the Bulls while he scores just a 92 on the 1985-1986 team.

An expanded list of player rankings has been uploaded to YouTube by user NBA2K12stuff. More rankings have been revealed or compiled by PastaPadre.com and Examiner.com.

Here's a compiled list of ratings for some star players from those sources. Remember: this year's rookie class is not included in the game.  

LeBron James -- Miami Heat -- (98)
Dwyane Wade -- Miami Heat -- (96)
Kobe Bryant -- Los Angeles Lakers -- (94)
Dwight Howard -- Orlando Magic -- (93)
Chris Paul -- New Orleans Hornets -- (93)
Kevin Durant -- Oklahoma City Thunder -- (92)
Derrick Rose -- Chicago Bulls -- (92)
Carmelo Anthony -- New York Knicks -- (91)
Deron Williams -- New Jersey Nets -- (90)
Russell Westbrook -- Oklahoma City Thunder -- (88)
Amar'e Stoudemire -- New York Knicks -- (88)
Pau Gasol -- Los Angeles Lakers -- (86)
Rudy Gay -- Memphis Grizzlies -- (86)
Andre Iguodala -- Philadelphia 76ers --(85)
Blake Griffin -- Los Angeles Clippers -- (85)
Dirk Nowitzki -- Dallas Mavericks -- (85)
Manu Ginobili -- San Antonio Spurs -- (85)
Rajon Rondo -- Boston Celtics -- (85)
Tim Duncan -- San Antonio Spurs -- (84)
Joe Johnson -- Atlanta Hawks -- (84)
Josh Smith -- Atlanta Hawks -- (84)
Steve Nash -- Phoenix Suns -- (84)
Monta Ellis -- Golden State Warriors -- (83)
Kevin Garnett -- Boston Celtics -- (83)
Stephen Jackson -- Milwaukee Bucks -- (83)
Gerald Wallace -- Portland Trail Blazers -- (83)
LaMarcus Aldridge -- Portland Trail Blazers -- (83)
Zach Randolph -- Memphis Grizzlies -- (83)
Paul Pierce -- Boston Celtics -- (82)
Eric Gordon -- Los Angeles Clippers -- (82)
Joakim Noah -- Chicago Bulls -- (82)
John Wall -- Washington Wizards -- (82)
Kevin Love -- Minnesota Timberwolves -- (81)
Al Jefferson -- Utah Jazz -- (81)
Danny Granger -- Indiana Pacers -- (81)
Chris Bosh -- Miami Heat -- (80)
Tyreke Evans -- Sacramento Kings -- (80)
Tony Parker -- San Antonio Spurs -- (80)
Stephen Curry -- Golden State Warriors -- (80)
Andrew Bynum -- Los Angeles Lakers -- (79)

Hat tip: Welcome To Loud City 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com