Friday, June 29, 2007

And the best thing about Draft Day was...Burn Notice!

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[From Stephen B. Snyde...]

So if you're old school like me, yesterday's draft was the most highly anticipated one in a long, long time. Sure, 2003 was nice, but that was after a mucho-boring March Madness due to no draft age minimum.

This year, we got to see where Yi Jianlian was going to wind up. We had all these Florida Gators with the team concept. We had Joakim Noah. We had a little tiny bit of drama before Portland made Greg Oden the official #1 and then Seattle made the easiest #2 pick ever with Kevin Durant. Then it was the Warriors with the Italian guard and then trading Jason Richardson.

I mean, this was the most exciting NBA Draft for Bay Area fans, especially those who are now veteran Asian ballaz, since the day Chris Webber was drafted and swapped with Anfernee Hardaway to land with the Golden State Warriors! Folks, that was 1993.

So the draft's over (good job, ESPN and Mike Tirico) and I'm flipping around channels and stumble upon USA Network. Lo and behold, it is a new TV show. Seemingly tailor-made for the veteran Asian hoopster, the one who reminisces the 90's.

I bring you Burn Notice...

Read the rest of the story

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Poor Man's been-there-done-that veto: Kevin Durant

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I don't blame Stephen B. Snyde. We had just seen the Utah Jazz, led by an unstoppable Carlos Boozer inside, beat our Warriors. Then we saw the same Jazz get beat up inside by Tim Duncan, who ended up eliminating one of the few teams that could hang, the Phoenix Suns, who had Amare Stoudemire in there to try and neutralize Duncan. So of course, we figured that you had to take Greg Oden with the first pick.

Come to think of it, I'm not so sure. Two big discoveries for me have made me jump ship. Big time...

Read the rest of the story

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Friday, June 8, 2007

Yi Jianlian Dan Fegan is the man

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[From Stephen B. Snyde for Friday tidbits...]

No, not another post about Yi Jianlian! Well, actually, this one's really about his agent, Dan Fegan.

While everybody else is flying into various NBA towns for workouts, including Greg Oden and Kevin Durant going to the Orlando combines, how come if you want to take a peek at Yi, you have to fly to him?
But with Yi, everybody has to fly to LA to go see him. Fegan da man!

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Success in capitalism = selling out

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[From Stephen B. Snyde for Friday tidbits...]

The term "sell out" has such a bad connotation in everyday society, but did you know that more often than not, financial success in the capitalistic world requires you to sell out? The funny thing about it is when you sell out, usually you take the heart and soul of what you built with you. Unless you're Phil Knight and you take Nike public, in which case you are allowing the general public to become co-investors in your company. Or you're Jay Z, who sold Rocawear for something like $300 million, plus he retained around 20% equity (damn smart).

Remember, 50 Cent wasn't a founder of Vitamin Water. The founders sold him a 20% stake. If you're the original owners of Vitamin Water, you just made an insane amount of money (they are probably billionaires -- look out, NBA ownership!), but the tradeoff was that you gave up the excitement of being its heart and soul. That's the price of for-profit.

Anyhow, the point of this post is that the And1 apparel/shoe line and the And1 Mixtape Tour long ago sold out to the makers of Avia (remember when Avia and the Nike Air Revolution were the hot high school team buys back in the late 80's?). And all this time you could have sworn Avia was bankrupt and And1 was on its way to becoming a mini-Nike. I remember reading about the young founders of And1 way back when. Wonder what they are doing now. Probably still playing ball somewhere, dreaming up the next hoop fashion line (that's passion).

In fact, as Joe Vecsey reports for Bounce Magazine, not even the And1 Mixtape Tour will ever be the same. The original founders have broken off into a splinter group called Ball4Real and will go heads up against And1 Mixtape. Now I have to disgustingly hit the channel button at 1:00 in the morning to be cleansed of streetball twice?

Even as a non-fan of And1, in truth I (and Poor Man's Commish) am saddened by the reality of And1 now being another brand name. We respect passion for the game, even if we're not on the same team. Is that passion there behind the And1 "product" anymore? I don't think the motivation is the same. Best of luck to Ball4Real, but it's like the Terminator movies: humans vs machines.

RIP

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Bay Area hero Leon Powe returns

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[From Stephen B. Snyde for Friday tidbits...]

From Jonathan Okanes of the Contra Costa Times, a very nice article about Leon Powe. Here are some snippets which, in my mind, already make him a humble hero no matter how he does in the NBA...
  • ...he'd never done anything like the travel required of an NBA player. Powe said he enjoyed visiting different cities and learning about their history and culture. His rough upbringing in Oakland was pretty insulated; he didn't get much of a chance to see the world outside of his neighborhood. "I don't think I even went to San Francisco until I was about 15 or 16," Powe said. "I try not to take anything for granted. Without basketball, I wouldn't be able to see anything. I try to take advantage of it."

  • Powe, who is fiercely loyal to his simple roots, hasn't spent lavishly. [Father figure Bernard Ward] had to encourage Powe to buy a watch because he didn't own one. Powe's one big expense so far was a vacation he recently took to the Bahamas with his girlfriend, Lauren Cook...But he's not living the high life. He said he spends most of his spare time going bowling or attending movies with Cook.

  • Powe also believes he should use his position to get involved in the community. As a Cal student, he talked to children about the importance of education. He's doing the same thing in Boston. Cook is as well, working in an after-school program for underprivileged kids. Powe is going to spend most of this month in the Bay Area, and he is planning more charitable work while he is here. "He feels like it's his job to give back to the community," Ward said. "He wants to talk to kids because he knows he can teach them. He feels like it's a big responsibility. Leon is the same guy he always was -- so humble, so down to earth."
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The Greg Oden of pro hoop bloggers is... Greg Oden!

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[From Stephen B. Snyde for Friday tidbits...]

We've said it before and we'll say it again: Rod Benson is the Kevin Durant of pro hoop bloggers (ballaz gettin' paid to play and sharing their thoughts on a blog).

Witness the last two hoop-related entries by Benson where he...
  • Reveals the inside secrets of the Wizzonator as it relates to NBA drug testing (do a "find" with your browser on "Wizzonator" to jump to the funny part), and

  • Lies to a whole host of airplane passengers that he played on the Sacramento Kings, all to get an exit row seat (do a "find" on "Sacramento Kings").
Where Benson is Durant, even Paul Shirley recently started to produce like the Greg Oden of pro hoop bloggers, with his comedic rendition of trying to Cassanova a pretty Spanish hoop fan while first prefacing that Spanish girls look less like Penelope Cruz and more like "female versions of Tony Parker."

But, no! Shirley cannot be the Oden of pro hoop bloggers. For the Greg Oden of pro hoop bloggers can only be...

GREG ODEN HIMSELF!

Yes, Oden has a blog. And it's not that bad. The funniest bit so far was about his trip to Nike headquarters...
I saw a guy with a Ohio State shirt and I got hype I was like thats amazing someone who loves Ohio State then once i saw 30 more people with the same shirt I was like hold up not all these people like Ohio State, but its ok.
One 7-foot question though: Why does Greg Oden need this YardBarker.com thing? The man could make serious ad money by having a blog all to himself. Of course, it's gonna be relative small change, but at least hire your friends to run the blog or something and basically rain some easy earn for your homies.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Hoops rule the almighty dollar

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Sports Illustrated just released its list of Top 50 highest-earning American athletes, which includes salaries and endorsements.

One thing we ballaz can be proud of: 4 of the top 10 are hoopsters Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James (who will surely move up now that his NBA salary is set to be the max), and Kevin Garnett. Just goes to show you that hoop rules the almighty dollar. Aside from LeBron, each of the stars was making about $20 million in salary and $15 million in endorsements, with KG making "only" $8 million in endorsements.

And before you start suggesting otherwise, don't forget about the recent $4 billion cash buyout of Glaceau, maker of Vitamin Water, by Coca-Cola. The May issue of Swish Magazine profiled Vitamin Water and not only did rapper 50 Cent make out with 10% or $400 million from the acquisition, but so did a large handful of NBA stars...
"I've got shares of stock, they give everybody shares in the company," says Dallas Mavericks swingman Josh Howard of his relationship with Glaceau. "They've also shown my camps a lot of support over the last year and a half. They come out to my underprivileged camps. When I was out there in Vegas (for All-Star) I did some events for them, just trying to help put their name out there. I'm pretty involved and I appreciate them. It's really a family-oriented business and an up-and-coming company, so Gatorade better watch out."
Whoa, Howard's gonna appreciate them, you bet. Back in my days as a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, it wasn't uncommon for startup companies to give out 0.25% in stock to people who sit on the Board or help out in other ways.

Let's see, 0.25% of four billion is TEN MILLION DOLLARS. OK, even if it was as low as 0.1% (I'd be surprised if it was that low), that's still four million! Just for pitching Vitamin Water, getting a few cases stocked in your fridge each month for free, and doing all of that for all stock and no cash. Howard, Chauncey Billups, Tracy McGrady, Shaq, Gilbert Arenas, Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Tony Parker, Elton Brand, and Shawn Marion -- far outnumbering stars from other sports on the Vitamin Water roster -- just blew the Sports Illustrated average for endorsements out of the "water".

If they included the Vitamin Water deal, you'd probably see that at least 6 or 7 of the top 10 American athlete moneymakers are NBA stars.

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