Tag Archives: Basketball

The League, The Anthem, The Truth


Welcome back NBA! Now that the 2017-2018 NBA season has started, we have a little housekeeping to do concerning the National Anthem. I am sure everyone is waiting to see what players on teams around the league will do once the anthem is played. For the record, I hope they do something, and continue to do something throughout the season. If they take a knee, I will applaud them. If they sit down, I will applaud them. If they stand up, I will applaud them. In my opinion, as long as some of the players show their support for the cause, I will applaud them.

Of course, one must ask what cause I am referring to. I am referring to the original cause. You know it by now: protesting during the anthem against police misconduct and brutality in communities across the nation. THIS IS THE CAUSE. It is the cause started by Colin Kaepernick of the NFL. As Kaepernick said, this is not about the flag, nor is it about disrespecting the military or soldiers. Instead, it is a simple, yet powerful statement to raise awareness of police brutality towards people of color.

Side note: Whether you agree with it or not, this is the cause he stated as the reason for his protests during the National Anthem. To put any other label on the protests is unfair, especially when the cause has been clearly stated. It is true, you have your right to your own opinion, but changing the narrative that has been identified to wrong.

Now that the NBA is back in season, one must wonder what the reaction will be if players protest. I have a good idea based upon what we have heard already…

…the players have no respect for the military.

…the players have no reason to be upset because they are doing well financially.

and the kicker…

…the players should be doing something about black-on-black crime (or the gun violence in Chicago).

If the players protest, you and I both know it’s coming! Let one NBA player protest the anthem, and I guarantee you will hear at least one of these reactions. Well I am here to dispel these ideas that NBA players (and athletes in general) are not on the frontlines standing against issues that affect their communities. Let me be even clearer: black athletes are consistently involved in making a positive impact in the black community. Black athletes deal with issues like poverty, violence, and education in our communities.

Critics want proof. While I am not here to provide an extensive list, I will provide information easily found online to defend NBA players against the attacks that are sure to come. These examples show NBA players, through their own charitable foundations, and NBA teams in action fighting against social issues. In fact, the NBA has programs that work with the military and police as well. All of these and numerous other examples can be found by searching online.

So remember, if you see NBA players take a knee or take a seat during the National Anthem, please understand that they are more than just athletes. They are aware, concerned, and fighting against issues in black communities across the country.


NBA Cares

NBA Cares works with internationally recognized youth-serving programs that support education, youth and family development, and health-related causes, including: Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Special Olympics, YMCA of the USA, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, UNICEF, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Share Our Strength and GLSEN.



NBA Cares Hoops For Troops

NBA Cares Hoops for Troops is a year-round initiative led by the NBA, its teams and players in collaboration with the Department of Defense, USO and other military and veteran-serving organizations to honor active and retired service men and women and their families.



NBA Cares My Brother’s Keeper

In 2014, the NBA family set a goal to recruit 25,000 new mentors over five years, with a focus on adult males of color. Less than three years into the partnership and less than one year since the campaign’s launch, more than 25,000 Americans have already signed up to become a mentor and been connected directly to a mentoring program in their community.



Chicago Bulls Charities


On July 18, the Chicago Bulls and Jordan Brand hosted a basketball tournament and conversation circles at the Advocate Center for students in Youth Guidance’s Becoming a Man (BAM) program and Chicago Police Department officers.


Joakim Noah, Player NY Knicks- Noah’s Arc

Noah’s Arc arts programs give young people in under-served areas and those who are dealing with emotional and/or physical adversity the opportunity to engage in powerful self-expression.



Dwayne Wade (Chicago native), player Cleveland Cavaliers- Live to Dream Program

The Live To Dream program was developed in part to assist the City of Chicago in their continued efforts to decrease the violence and fatalities by providing safe havens and high quality programming for youth.




Let’s Ball and Brand… with Humility


The 2017 NBA Draft is upon us and there is little doubt most, if not all, eyes will be on Lonzo Ball from UCLA. Ball will be in the mix as the top player in the draft and possibly the number one pick overall. Good for him. He is a special talent who should be able to make any team better thanks to his wide variety of skills. In fact, I believe he has a chance to be a great one. One thing I like about Lonzo Ball is he seems to be humble. He seems to have a splash of humility that allows him to stay grounded. I could be wrong, but this is the impression I get when watching him play and hearing him speak. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about his father, LaVar Ball.

LaVar Ball, to his credit, has raised both Lonzo and his younger brothers LaMelo and LiAngelo, to be basketball prodigies and future pros. Forget what you may think about those parents who push their kids in sports, Mr. Ball has set his kids up for a bright future. Who wouldn’t want that for their kids? However, what LaVar Ball is also doing is putting extra pressure on his sons that does not have to be there. He could sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labor, and then ride their talents all the way to the bank. Instead, he chooses to be the center of attention with his over-the-top, used car salesman antics. One must ask why?

I believe LaVar Ball is a smart man. He is trying to hype his sons in order to sell his (their) Big Baller Brand to the masses. It is a great strategy. In fact, the set up the Ball family has is a marketers dream. They have three good-looking, talented basketball playing sons with unlimited potential. They have created a brand. They have a platform to promote and sell their brand. They have name-recognition. They have a chance to increase their following by performing on and off the basketball court. With so much going for them, is there any way things can go wrong?

The answer is yes. If the Ball family, LaVar Ball in-particular, chooses to ball and brand with arrogance, then their brand could suffer. The built-in advantages they have could slowly fade over time. The fans that surely support them now, could turn and support other players. The sales they could make over the long haul could dry up quickly. To prevent this from happening, I suggest the Ball family, LaVar Ball in-particular, chooses to ball and brand with humility.

How can the Ball family ball and brand with humility? We can start by notating what it means to operate with humility. Humility means to show modesty and humbleness. In the face of having tremendous talent, I am sure this can be a difficult thing to do. Understandably, a talented player like Lonzo Ball may struggle with this issue, especially when people constantly remind him of his greatness. However, as long as he plays it somewhat “low-key”, I think he will be able to manage it. He could ball and brand with humility. I think he already does.

On the other hand, thanks to his father it appears he and his entire family is loud, brash, and in-your-face. Make no mistake about it: the Ball sons, and their brand, are coming. LaVar Ball wants us to know this, and he goes to great lengths to promote his sons and his billion-dollar dream. That’s great! However, many people resent the success of others, regardless of how it is attained. This resentment can grow if one chooses to flaunt their success and good fortune. So, the Ball family has a choice to make: ball and brand with arrogance or ball and brand with humility. Based on LaVar Ball’s track record in the spotlight so far, one has to wonder what choice they will make.

Mr. Ball claims to be on “the same” level as a player to some of the all-time greats. How he could put his name in the same sentence as Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley is beyond my understanding. How he could compare his son Lonzo to Magic Johnson is beyond my understanding. How he could blame the loss UCLA suffered on slow, white players who played alongside Lonzo is beyond my understanding. How he could say his sons are set up better than LeBron James’s sons is beyond my understanding. I guess Mr. Ball, and the reasons why he makes the proclamations he does, is beyond my understanding too. Thus far, he is choosing to ball and brand with arrogance, rather than choosing to ball and brand with humility.

Maybe this what he wants: to be known as a loud-mouthed pitchman seeking the fifteen minutes of fame his basketball career never provided. Bravo LaVar Ball, bravo! You have turned yourself into the center of attention, as well as put a white-hot spotlight on your son before he even sets foot on an NBA practice court. Imagine what it will be like when Lonzo Ball meets Stephen Curry on the hardwood for the first time. By the way, LaVar Ball said his son Lonzo is better than Curry right now. I am sure than the two competitors will treat it as good competition, but the circus will follow Lonzo Ball for that game. Unfortunately it will follow LaVar Ball. I guess I am in the circus now too (but at least I chose not to give Mr. Ball any additional free publicity here by linking to stories about his antics).  

For the record, I hope Lonzo Ball has a tremendous, hall-of-fame worthy career. I hope LaMelo Ball has a tremendous, hall-of-fame worthy career. I hope LiAngelo gets there too. I hope their Big Baller Brand becomes a household name. I hope they build and accumulate wealth beyond their wildest dreams too. However, here’s what I don’t want. I don’t want to hear about those things from LaVar Ball as they unfold. I don’t want to see this pitchman every time one of his sons is on the court. I don’t want to listen to anymore interviews of this man either. But, something tells me this will not be the case.

Hopefully Lonzo, LaMelo, and LiAngelo Ball choose to ball and brand with humility. Then maybe LaVar Ball will choose to do the same.