Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category

The New Age of Criticism

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Issues with the computer freezing up. Trying to get a short blog in before it does again. Sure wish I knew more about these newfangled objects.

Last night I read an article which was highly critical of Mike Krzyzewski and what he’s done with this year’s Olympic basketball team. It was by a guy, , who quite obviously had a major issue with Coack K. The gist of the article is Mike’s not playing Draymond Green. Apparently, the writer is, or was, a beat writer for the Warriors and, most likely, developed a relationship with Green – a guy who’s always good for a powerful quote or two. The kind of player who, if left alone with a tape recorder going, will nearly author a story himself. The writer’s biggest problem then becomes editing.

With the last three games our squad has played, all wins – BUT close wins – now is the best time to question the coaching skills of Mike Krzyzewski. Since Coach K was named by Jerry Colangelo in 2005 as our country’s head coach, the USA men have compiled a 52-1 record. Some might think Mike should be lauded for taking the time and putting in the energy to do work in his “off season.” Note: I fully understand what Mike – and Duke – get out of the publicity, but it shouldn’t be overlooked how taxing it is to do all that needs to be done to continually face – and overcome – the challenges that go along with being the Olympic coach. For those who don’t, wait until a coach loses and you’ll immediately understand my point.

The current breed of writer is always looking to make a name for him (or her) self (but usually him). Imagine if the USA should fail to bring home the gold? Who wouldn’t want to be the first guy who warned he nation that Coach K screwed it up? Well, if you’re from my generation, the answer is “nobody.” But, today?  Nasty journalism has a cult following and all the spoils go with it – money, fame (the kind that appeals to that type of person), books, TV & movie appearances, you name it. I don’t think it’s completely a cynical attitude to say that journalism has changed and making a name for yourself, as opposed to accuracy, seems to be of greater importance business today.

In the early ’70s there was a self-help book entitled “I’m OK, You’re OK” which climbed its way up the New York Times bestseller list. Today, the title of that book would be:

“I’m OK, You’re Screwed Up.”

 

What If the Olympics Were Like Politics?

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

Imagine Michael Phelps in position to begin his race, or Usain Bolt in his blocks waiting for the starter’s pistol, or Simone Biles about to take off for a vault – and as they were about to start, rather than actually perform their event, they instead set their mouths in motion, spewing nasty comments about each of their opponents, saving the best quips (independent of whether or not they were true) for their closest competitor.

“Do you know how poorly my opponent swam in his last meet? He was a joke. Why is he even out here?”

“I’m the fastest person on earth and I don’t understand how anyone can think differently. How can anybody even consider giving that title to a person who has next to no (sprinting) experience?”

Isn’t it great that actual performance is how the winners are chosen?

Well, what about the events that aren’t measured – like gymnastics, diving and boxing? How awful would the Olympics be if the people who voted for the winner has to do so based on negative blather and insults?

“By now, it ought to be oh-so-obvious that no one can touch me in anything that has to do with gymnastics. To my opponents, I say to you, ‘Don’t even waste our time with your dumb ass routines.’ People know who the best is.”

“Did you see that last dive? Sad effort. The country should be frightened if the judges were to, somehow, choose my opponent over me. It’s readily apparent his lack of experience will doom the entire Olympic Games. Basically, he’s not trustworthy.”

Naturally, choosing a politician to lead our cities, states, country isn’t based on 10 seconds, several minutes or routines over a few days. Because of the competition among news sources (being first trumps – no pun intended – being right) and the irresponsibility and complete disregard for factual information on social media, combined with the general feeling of so many citizens that their lives, to use the most popular word in today’s vernacular, suck, the majority of information the public receives is of personal flaws of the politicians.

Is everybody in politics unfit for office? We can’t have grown so cynical to, deep down, believe that. There most likely are people who would enjoy serving who are qualified and have no skeletons but, in today’s world, political strategists will dig up (or make up) something to cast negativity on a candidate. Even with that, there are people who would run because they feel they can make a positive difference and can handle personal attacks. Yet, they choose not to run because they refuse to subject their families to such vile intrusions.

The Olympics is about realizing dreams, so maybe the motto for political elections ought to be:

“We can dream, can’t we?”

 

A New Type of Ballot for the Coming Presidential Election

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

When it comes to political discussions, it seems as though every time people say which candidate they’re backing, there’s somebody in the room who will question their sanity. Are you serious?” is the question they hear. “How can you be for him/her?” is the follow up.

Since I’m much more interested in people than politics, I enjoy listening to the answers much more than I do discussing my choice. Invariably, the answer and its justification – independent of which candidate they name – begins the exact same way. The first thing out of the person’s mouth, make it the first three things (after that, it’s obvious how they truly feel), is something negative about the opponent of whomever they mention as their choice.

If people say they’re for Donald Trump, there’s always someone in the room (assuming there are a minimum of four people in the room) who is incredulous anyone could vote for a guy who seems to only opens his mouth to change feet. Should those asked say Hillary Clinton is their choice (once again, assuming there are a minimum of four people in the room), there always is a person within earshot who will launch into how she has been less than truthful with the American public (putting it mildly). The reason for this is most likely because there are at least 25% of the people in the country who a) are fearful of what a Trump presidency would do or b) whose lives have gotten worse over the past eight years or, simply, who see the general mood in the country as less positive than is healthy – and attribute it to the Democrats.

Consider this statistic: The Libertarian candidate received 8% of the vote when people were polled – and almost no one knows who he is!

Here’s my proposal: have two ballots for every voter but only one is allowed to be submitted, depending on how strongly he or she feels about why that choice was selected. One ballot has the names Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (and whoever else is running, as well as a place to write in a candidate). The person voting is to choose which candidate is their choice to be our next president.

The other ballot has only two names on it: Hillary & Donald. Except on this one, the voter chooses which candidate they do NOT want to see elected. From what I hear – and I’ve make it a point to listen carefully and not express an opinion (mainly because I don’t really have one), there are infinitely more people who fear a Trump presidency or loathe another four (probably eight) more years of what’s been going on (no matter how good the president is telling everybody things currently are).

I’ve never seen staunch party members at such odds with their candidate. Obviously, from the absence of so many influential party members at the Republican National Convention, it’s a natural assumption that there is unrest in that party. Similarly, not counting people who are prone to have an upbeat view of life (the number of whom are rapidly dwindling), the people who usually count themselves as Democrats aren’t as vocal for the former Secretary of State as they are appalled by Trump. Their comments are less and less about the virtues of Hillary Clinton than they are vitriolic toward the Republican nominee – possibly because there’s more of the latter than the former.

Donald Trump is seen as someone who will not only be at odds with someone who disagrees with him, but will attack that person. He says things that people wish they had the nerve to say – and gets away with it! But, in sensitive negotiations with foreign dignitaries, is that the guy you want? A guy who will call someone – who might have a finger on the red button – a derogatory, maybe even vulgar name? Or mock them for their beliefs?

Hillary Clinton is a far more polished politician than Trump. But isn’t that what the public is sick of and frustrated with? Too many politicians have been branded – and rightfully so – as lazy and entitled when it comes to performing their jobs, as well as having a propensity to lie and be immoral or unscrupulous.

While nobody can be certain of how an election like this would turn out, I’m confident that the greatest number of ballots would be the “against” version. Overwhelmingly so. I’ve lived 68 years, in nine different states and based on my observations of talking and listening to people, watching television (all outlets included), reading newspapers, magazines and, even, Facebook posts of friends (which can’t be anonymous) from all over the country, the one factor that rules is, unfortunately, hatred of a candidate.

While I truly believe many, many more people would vote against someone than for him or her, my biggest problem with this idea is . . . what do we do with the results? Maybe elect whichever candidate receives the most votes “for” or maybe elect whichever one receives the fewest “againsts.” One thing for certain, though, and that is that there is little doubt that this election has come down to one overriding question:

“Which candidate would you rather not have as your president?”

Good Intentions, Poor Results

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

Every year, at the two sessions of Michael Jordan Flight School, there are stories that become camp classics. This past year, the second session of which ended last Tuesday, proved to be no different. The next few posts will deal with this year’s happenings.

The camp is made up of nine leagues, divided by age and ability. Each league has a commissioner. Basically, there are nine “camps” and each commissioner runs his camp. My league (the Big 12) was the third oldest, made up of 14-year-olds. The camp is sold out year after year but, what’s changed throughout the years, is that more and more foreign youngsters attend – especially Chinese. Of the 95 campers in our league, 29 were from China – and every one of them spoke only Mandarin.

The camp is incredibly organized but, from a communication standpoint, the previous two years left much to be desired. The Chinese group that attended (around 200) brought “interpreters” with them. However, many of them barely spoke English (apparently, their buddies told them they could get a free trip to the United States so they just wanted to know where to sign up) and none of them understood basketball, meaning if a coach told them to “hedge” on a screen, they’d translate it as a hedge – like a bush – and nobody had any idea what was going on.

I called Pete Vaz, a coaching friend I met about 15 years ago at MJFS when he coached at camp. Pete worked at Mission San Jose High School in the Bay Area, a school that is rated the sixth best academic high school in California and the 76th in the nation – outstanding numbers considering it’s a public school. It has a high concentration of Chinese Americans. I begged Pete for help and he came through, finding one of his former point guards, Shou Chang (see blog from 8/14/15), who speaks fluent English and Mandarin. He saved us – and this year Shou brought four of his friends to interpret. In addition to a few summer school students from UCSB (where the camp is based) who spoke both languages, there was an interpreter for each league.

This year, not only did the Big 12 have 38 of our 91 campers who spoke Chinese as their first language, we had a group of 15 kids from Mexico – who spoke Spanish as their first language. After I would give instructions to the league, Shou would relay what I said in Mandarin, followed by one of our coaches who would speak Spanish to those ESL kids. Not surprisingly, with the attention span of 14-year-olds being what it is, a few of our youngsters didn’t end up at the location where I directed them to be.

Not to be discouraged, I went into motivational speaker mode. For several years at the end of last century and the beginning of this one, I was a member of the National Speakers Association. Companies and groups would pay me to deliver a positive, inspiring message to their employees and members. I appealed to the English-speaking kids’ empathy, asking them how they would feel if they were in a foreign country where only a smattering of people spoke English. If they were lost – and had no idea where they were – wouldn’t it be nice if someone from the host country “adopted” them, making sure they got to the proper place? “You don’t have to eat with them, hang around with them, text or “friend” them on Facebook – just latch onto them and make sure they get from where we are to where we’re going. Then, go back to your friends and they’ll go back to theirs.” I gave as rousing a speech as I could muster, certain they would take my message to heart. As a group, the American kids promised me they’d follow my instructions.

Then – at the very next roll call – we lost a Chinese kid.

During the second session, with 99% of the league composed of new campers, we made some tactical changes – and didn’t lose a single camper – which shows we learned from our mistakes. Everyone knows:

“It’s not how you start but how you finish.”

 

Could the U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball Team Leave with Less than Gold?

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

Another year has flown by and it’s time again for Michael Jordan’s Flight School, a basketball camp for kids from 5-18 years of age, held on the campus of UC Santa Barbara. It’s the 21st year of the camp which is composed of two, four-day sessions with about 850 youngsters per session. It’s my 13th or 14th year (I’ve lost count) of working as a commissioner of one of the nine leagues. This blog will be on hiatus until Friday, August 5 and if this year is like the others, there ought to be some great stories when I return.

Unlike in past years when the United States fielded the greatest NBA players in the game, many of those players will only be watching these upcoming Olympics from the comfort of . . . somewhere other than the court in Rio. While it’s understandable that so many of the “best of the best” have declined to participate – coming off an injury, threat of injury, desperate need of rest, fear of mosquitoes, “been there, done that,” whatever, it’s somewhat alarming the sense of loyalty to one’s country didn’t override the aforementioned reasons. The list of non-participants this year is daunting – LeBron, Steph, Kawhi, CP3, Russ, Blake, AD – guys with first or nick names only. Add to that group guys who might not make the first name only bunch – yet – LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, James Harden. Whew!

It’s possible that, because the country isn’t coming off an embarrassing bronze medal performance, that the sense of urgency just doesn’t exist. But should it? Should fans of the U.S. be worried? Any team can be beaten, but there is little to no chance of any country other than the USA heading home with the gold medal.

The reasons are, as they usually are, we still have the best players and the best coaching. The only issue would be if:

“The guys who decided not to play started their own country.”

Could Police Violence Be Thwarted?

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

As stated in yesterday’s post, most of what I comment on is limited to the sporting world. Maybe it’s my version of “staying in my lane.” However, after thinking about the police killing of minorities (mainly young black men) and, conversely, young black men killing policemen, I had an idea. After reading this, you may suggest I get back in my lane.

For my last ten years of my working life (full-time, anyway), I worked for, arguably, the greatest politically correct school district in the nation. It also is one of the only (the only?) school district without a teachers union (which, in my opinion, worked fine for us – give or take a few instances) but that’s another story. Prior to that decade of my life, I worked as director of basketball operations at Fresno State, the school that had to have set records for gender equality lawsuits. In fact, I was a member of the Gender Equity Monitoring (GEM) Committee. It was a real gem, too.

Therefore, my thinking has become guarded, whether deciding what to say, how to say it, what to do, whatever. In some ways it was a refreshing look at how to approach issues. Gone were the days of “good ol’ boy” thinking, e.g. the one that always tickled me, “What’s good for football is good for the university.” First of all, it was modeled after the saying, “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.” That statement came from, not surprisingly, the head of GM. The football take off on it came from, duh, the football coach. Off color jokes weren’t as welcome, or tolerated, as they were in the past century.

That’s more than enough of a introduction toward what struck me a couple days ago as a potentially good idea. One problem with hiring these days is none other than political correctness. When someone applies for a job, no longer can an employer require information regarding race, religious or sexual preference, or anything of that nature.

After the brutal slayings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, which occurred as retaliation to black men who were killed by policemen, a thought crossed my mind – which I initially dismissed as being “politically” impossible. Here’s my idea – and maybe some reader out there can tell me whether it’s possible or illegal.

Aspiring police officers have to go through the police academy. How about if part of the police academy agenda was a polygraph test, in which the officer-to-be had to answer blatant questions like, “Are you a racist?” and “Are you anti-gay (or other groups)?” and “Do you feel some women are to blame in domestic violence cases?” In a “normal” job interview, any such question would attract lawyers near and far but, when hiring a police officer?

With controversial (actually, a better word would be misunderstood) movements like Black Lives Matters, tension is high around the country. Although it occurred a while ago, let’s not forget about the Ray Rice situation and the controversial, OK misunderstood, comments by Stephen A. Smith. Any “incorrect” answer would disqualify, and justifiably so, the potential candidate. Can anyone imagine, if in any of the the instances when black men were struck down by policemen, that the officer had answered Yes to such a question – independent of how passionate the officer was toward the job? Supposedly, there are ways to beat polygraphs but this idea would certainly reveal something sinister in a candidate’s character.

My first thought was, bad idea, politically incorrect and probably illegal. Then again, why not? Whether we like it or not, being a police officer is something that needs serious scrutiny. My question to everyone out there is:

“Could it be that easy?”

Why Sports Beats Politics

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Nearly every one of the posts I put out there are about sports. After watching the Republican National Convention, it’s readily apparent why. In athletics, especially where team sports are concerned, the most important trait is teamwork. Whatever the outcome in November’s election is, what took place last night in Cleveland was . . . anything but teamwork (unless there was some type of slick psychology going on).

When coaching a team there are, basically, three types of situations: your team is the favorite, your team is the underdog or the game is relatively even. If you’re favored, your game plan is focused more on your play than anything else because your best is better than their best. John Wooden’s players have always said that the coach never mentioned their opponent (Bill Walton even claimed he had to tell a manager to get a program so he knew which team they were playing). UCLA was always favored. Focusing on the Bruins’ play was the wisest course of action because if they played up to their abilities, they’d come out on the winning end. Some may say that when Wooden first got to UCLA he might not have had the best players, yet I’ve never heard any of those guys interviewed.

If you happen to be dealing with either of the latter two events, playing to your team’s potential might not be enough to ensure victory. What also must happen is your guys need to force your foe into mistakes. i.e. you must make sure they don’t play to their potential. Scouting reports will explain the strengths and weaknesses of the adversary. Defensive game plans usually consist of forcing an opponent away from the their strengths and attacking their weakness(s). Of course, this isn’t done at the expense of trying to play as close to 100% of your effectiveness. The closer you can get to that number, the less you have to worry about your challenger. What must be avoided is spending so much time exposing the “enemy’s” deficiencies, you fail to fully employ your own skills.

Nowhere, though, in the strategical plan is there room for infighting. If a play is run for a certain member of the squad, or the leader decides to substitute one player for another, then that decision, however painful it is for one particular individual, is what the team must support. There can be discussion before and/or after the contest but the fact remains, whenever there is a case in which only one person can be selected, there must be support by everyone on the team. That’s the basic fabric of a team. No matter the situation, those on the same team who do not embrace the team’s philosophy should not be members of the team. There has always been, and there will always be, disagreement among the group’s members. It’s healthy in the proper setting. Once a course of action is determined, however, there has got to be a united effort among those “wearing the same uniform.”

The Democratic National Convention will probably learn from last night’s gaffe and it’s doubtful anything similar will be repeated. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect embarrassing moments. What’s at issue is that neither party is strong enough to win based solely on merit This is probably due to the fact that the overwhelming majority of society enjoy hearing more about people’s faults, missteps or character flaws – even if they’re not true – than they do about their triumphs. Maybe it’s because doing so makes people feel not as inferior, e.g. “maybe my life isn’t so great but at least I didn’t . . . like that schmuck did.”

Why I enjoy sports more than politics is that, in the political arena:

“We never know if either side’s best is good enough because everybody is so much more focused on others’ weaknesses.”

Competitive Balance vs. Super Teams

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Although great players have joined forces in the past, the signing of Kevin Durant by the Golden State Warriors has pushed the topic to the forefront and elicited more opinions than ever before. People are in different camps on this subject, with strong beliefs on both sides. As far as my feeling, I’m not really sure. Here’s the information I’ve gathered which probably is the reason I can’t make up my mind.

One reason for my indecision is that I’m starting out completely neutral, in that I have no team in particular that’s my favorite. I used to pull for players from the programs where I coached. Now, since they’re all retired, I root for coaches I know. My college coaching coaching began in 1972, ended in 2002. Many of the guys I “grew up with” in the business wound up in the NBA. I remain in touch with several of them and that’s where I get some pretty good insight into why teams make the decisions they do. Their take on the professional game, be it strategy, practices, trades or free agency enlightens me beyond my personal feelings.

My assessment of the Durant deal has many parts. A caller to one of the talk shows made the statement that when the Heat put together their super team, they didn’t exactly dominate, winning only two championships. Unless he was comparing Miami to Red Auberbach’s Celtics’ teams, I’m not sure he understands what dominance is. After all, the team played four years together and went to four NBA Finals. Would they have had to go 4-4 to be considered a super team? When one team goes to the Finals four straight years, that’s not competitive balance. As far as the current rosters of the NBA are concerned, competitive balance is nowhere to be found, unless we’re talking about the teams that come after the top 5-6. Sure, the “on any given day” theory still is true over an 82-game season but the only reason some of the bottom 2/3rds of the teams in the league will be in next year’s playoffs, is because 16 teams (out of 30) have to be.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver made the statement that he didn’t think the Durant signing was good for the league because the NBA needs competitive balance. Give credit to Silver, though, who, after an impromptu meeting with Durant’s mother and hearing what she had to say, came to the conclusion that KD’s decision was different. In fact, every situation is different, admitted the commish. The Durant-Warriors case is not at all like what LeBron, D-Wade and Bosh did forming the magnificent trio in Miami mainly because those three colluded for, supposedly, a year. KD is joining a team that has been put together through the draft. The pre-KD Dubs are a collection of first round draft picks, with the exception of Draymond Green – who obviously should have been one.

Does that now make the Warriors a “super team?” Of course it does. Silver said he hopes the new collective bargaining agreement will address competitive balance. Should OKC lose (or be forced to trade) Russell Westbrook, it will be highly unlikely a team in such a small market will ever recover. Indiana, Orlando, Milwaukee, Utah, Charlotte, Memphis and others fall into the same category. San Antonio has been the outlier.

One topic I’ve not yet heard (although I imagine it’s been discussed) is the fact that Joe Lacob, owner of the Golden State Warriors (and the rest of his front office staff), did exactly what an owner is supposed to do. The signing of Kevin Durant was certainly in the best interest of the franchise and its fan base and he (and his people) should be applauded for their presentation and ultimate victory. Independent of what any owner says, any one of them would have made the same move given the opportunity.

Now, on to something that’s bothersome. While I do believe talk radio is over the top – and is intended to be that way – the comments of the Warriors being the team everyone (other than their faithful) will hate is a bit much. The word hate should be reserved for issues like cancer. Or rape. Or the killing of innocent people. But a basketball team? Sure, they will be villains, but hate?

“Leave the word hate for the political world.”

 

Apologies, Without a Change of Behavior, Are an Insult

Monday, July 18th, 2016

At halftime of one game during a season in which the Golden State Warriors only lost a record nine (9) times, Draymond Green and Steve Kerr had a back and forth shouting match. Who was right, who was wrong may never be known but, usually, it’s the player’s fault if for no reason than the coach is hired to coach, i.e. make decisions. Whether or not the decisions made are the right ones, the coach is paid to make them and the players are paid to execute them. Green seemed to agree with that assessment.

“You know, I made a mistake, I admitted my mistakes to my teammates, my coaching staff. I apologize to my teammates, my coaching staff, this organization. That wasn’t the right way to handle what needed to be handled. As a leader of this team, I can’t do that because it sets a bad precedent for how everything is ran (sic) around here, for how everything should be ran (sic), for how everything has been ran (sic), and how everything will be ran (probably attended the same English class at Michigan State that Magic did) going forward. It won’t happen again (italics mine).” During that profanity-laced tirade, he acknowledged his emotions “kind of got ahead of me.”

P.S. In that game the Warriors were down 11 at the half against the OKC Thunder but won the game on Steph Curry’s buzzer-beating bomb in overtime. The outburst was written off as “things that happen frequently in NBA locker rooms.”

Later in March, Green posted (and later deleted) a Snapchat video of him going 118 MPH on a freeway a few months back. When asked about it, he said, “Well obviously, poor judgment.”

Fast forward (pun intended) to the NBA Finals, as Warriors fans know all too well, the Dubs were about to go up 3-1 against the Cavs when the Draymond Green “ready, fire, aim” strategy once again went into action. Prior to the game Cleveland felt in control after easily defeating the defending champs in Game 3. The Warriors, though, kept their poise on the road, played as effectively as they normally did in clutch situations and, with a minute or so to go, were a game away from another NBA Championship. Then, LeBron James and Green got into it. James, frustrated that the game (and with it, the championship) were slipping away, showed Green what players call the ultimate disrespect by stepping over the fallen Warrior (yeah, pun again). Golden State’s (self-proclaimed) leader took offense and, instinctively, aka “ready, fire, aim,” took a swipe at James’ privates. Since he’d earlier kicked Steve Adams in his jewels, but 1) skated without ejection from the game and 2) somehow avoided being suspended for the next contest, this move forced the NBA big wigs’ hands. Green was suspended for Game 5.

P.S. His response to being questioned about the Adams’ incident had the “Green apology machine” in OT. “I didn’t intentionally kick him down there . . . I would definitely apologize, and I look forward to apologizing to him, if I see him.”

So, rather than being up 3-1 with two home games left and headed back to Oakland at full strength, Golden State found itself with a non-playmaker with the ball after their guards were blitzed in every pick and roll situation. Many people with high basketball IQs stated that, had Green played in that contest, it would have been back-to-back championships for the Bay Area bunch. When Green was interviewed, he did what he does best – even better than rebounding, passing, shooting and defending. He apologized, calling himself a “terrible teammate.” He continued, “I let my teammates down . . . I have strong belief that if I played Game 5 we win, but I didn’t because I put myself in a situation where I wasn’t able to play.”

With this history, was anyone surprised at the recent story of Draymond Green slapping a (soon-to-be-ex-)Michigan State football player? Apparently, the football player and Green bumped into each other and the footballer felt Green should have apologized. Green was a little over the legal limit and took offense. So what does a slightly inebriated person, who makes big bank, is in his hometown and with a history of acting first, apologizing later, say when confronted? “I pay for n—as like you scholarships,” a reference to the generous donation (seven figures generous) the former MSU star made to the Spartan scholarship fund. Naturally, the situation escalated, ending with Green slapping the football player (who obviously had violated the long known street code, “don’t let mouth writing a check your body can’t cash”).

What’s not at all shocking is according to the police report, Green indicated to officers after the arrest “that he was sorry for slapping the subject and wanted to speak with him to make things right.”

Had Ralph Waldo Emerson come in contact with Draymond Green, he might have said:

“Your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying.”

Wade Departure Gives NBA a Soap Opera Feel

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

A brief trip to Orange County to meet the Australian gentleman (who is traveling with some younger Australian teams playing in Irvine) who is kind enough to house and assist our younger son, Alex, as he pursues a career in professional basketball Down Under. The trip also gives us a chance to have dinner with older son, Andy, and his girlfriend. Barring anything unforeseen, this blog should return Monday, July 11.

NBA games are filled with drama. Well, at least a good many of them are. The current free agency period, however, trumps anything that happened during the season, maybe even including the playoffs which had more than its share of blowouts. The latest blowout came when one of the league’s most admired players decided to move his talents from South Beach.

Dwyane Wade is the most admired athlete in South Florida since Dan Marino. Neither his character nor work ethic were ever questioned. After LeBron James bolted, D-Wade came up with the idea of a Heat Lifer. The concept took off and apparel was created with the message, “Show your serious dedication to the Miami Heat and make a serious statement that you are a ‘Heat Lifer’ just like Dwyane Wade.” Sure it was a slam at James but no one at the time, including Wade, thought he would ever wear anything but a Miami Heat uniform.

This is another in an endless stream of examples of how out of whack the NBA has come. There are two sides to every story and this one is no exception. Dwyane Wade was the face of the franchise. Two players whose bodies, games and egos are bigger than life, Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James, both admitted in their time with the organization that the Heat were Wade’s team. He is far and away the franchise’s all-time statistical leader (points, assists & steals), plus the guy who led them to three titles. Yet, D-Wade was never the highest paid player on the team.

Unfortunately, as the players themselves are constantly explaining, “The NBA is a business.” The Heat had to do what’s best for the team and, as cold-hearted as that is, it means they didn’t want to pay Wade for what he’d done in the past. Undoubtedly, had he stayed, there would have been a front office job of some kind which would have paid him handsomely. It’s just that Wade has become an entrepreneur and probably wouldn’t want, nor have time for, such ceremonial type of employment. So the Heat drew a line in the sand. It definitely wasn’t the absolute absurd amount of dough that far lesser players have been raking in, e.g. the Heat’s own Tyler Johnson, a back up player with two years of NBA experience – and a guy the Heat would have loved to have kept – who signed a contract for 5 years, $50 million with the Nets after playing a total of 68 games and averaging 7.4 points. Still, 2 years, $40 million – for a player of Wade’s age and injury history – is not chicken scratch. Keep in mind that Florida has no state tax so the 2 years, $47 million offer he accepted with the Bulls is a difference of about $5 million.

Too bad such an, up til now, beautiful marriage between a beloved player and his first NBA club, had to come to such a nasty ending. It happens when stubbornness and egos get involved. The one thing Dwyane Wade didn’t do in Miami is what most people do there:

“Retire.”