Tag Archives: Los Angeles

The NBA Free Agency Circus, Led by Ringmaster DeAndre

In case you have been on Mars, Pluto, or in a no-Internet zone, you have missed a WHALE of an early free agency period in the NBA.

LeBron is a free agent. Okay, not really. Dwayne Wade is a free agent. Speculation was that he would join LeBron in Cleveland. He did not. He stayed in Miami, the only home he’s ever known. There are countless others who are being courted, or who have already decided where they are going to play. To check out the full list, click here.

  • Kevin Love, off the market.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge, off the market.
  • Goren Dragic, off the market.
  • DeAndre Jordan, off the market. On the Market. Off the market. On? Off?

Jordan’s story is one of intrigue, indecision and reneging on his word.

According to the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement found hereThere is a specified time that teams can negotiate contracts BUT CANNOT SIGN them.

Each season, the NBA has a Moratorium Period in which teams may hold negotiations, but cannot sign contracts. Limited exceptions to this rule apply to Rookie Scale Contracts with first round draft picks, minimum contracts of one or two seasons (with draft picks and free agents) and acceptance of Qualifying Offers by Restricted Free Agents. The Moratorium Period for the remainder of the term of the CBA will be as follows:

  • 2015-16 July 1, 2015 through July 8, 2015
  • 2016-17 July 1, 2016 through July 11, 2016
  • 2017-18 July 1, 2017 through July 11, 2017
  • 2018-19 July 1, 2018 through July 10, 2018
  • 2019-20 July 1, 2019 through July 9, 2019
  • 2020-21 July 1, 2020 through July 8, 2020

The drama between DeAndre Jordan, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Los Angeles Clippers will surely change the landscape of this agreement. I would be surprised if this is still in effect next year.

In essence, the player holds all the cards. For example, Jordan agreed verbally with the Dallas Mavericks to join them as a free agent signing. He was courted by several Dallas sports icons, including: Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons, Dez Bryant, Tony Romo, Jerry Jones and others.

Ultimately, it was Jordan’s decision. In the NBA, verbal agreements mean nothing. In business matters, the only things that matter are signed contracts. Even then, they often aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on because of the “renegotiations” that occur.

Let’s say Player A signs a 4-year deal. After one year, he has a monster season and demands more money. He already has a signed contract, a legal, binding document. However, he is allowed to threaten to sit out games or a season if he does not get a new contract. This is where we are in sports. In real life, you would be sued in court for breach of contract.

deandre jordan dunk faceFor the purposes of this article, Jordan’s word was worth a $3 bill. It is within his right to do what he wants. It’s HIS life. His career. What he did to the Dallas Mavericks is both deplorable and juvenile, even for a 26-year-old.

How, you say?

  1. He held the Mavericks hostage, because once he agreed to terms with them, he locked up some $80 million dollars and change. Money they didn’t have to pursue others.
  2. By going back on his word, he hamstrung the Mavericks in every phase of the game. His indecision caused the Mavericks problems in going after other potential free agents. Granted, that was the Mavericks fault for not going after other big men once they thought they had landed their big fish. They let Tyson Chandler go. They let Monta Ellis go. They let Al-Farouq Aminu go. Thinking they got a good big man caused the Mavericks to pause and take a breather, and that will cost them dearly.
  3. His reported refusal to speak with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to let him know he decided to return to the Clippers was nothing short of childish. As a man, he owed that much to a man who was willing to pay him a LOT of money.
  4. Because of this decision, the Mavericks have not only lost out on Jordan, but the wheels are likely set in motion for Rick Carlisle‘s exit, as well. Carlisle is on record stating that he will not stick around for a rebuilding session.

This is a free country where we are free to choose what we will and will not do. Once upon a time, many moons ago, the Greatest Generation (baby boomers) did business with a handshake. To them, a man’s word was his bond. You did what you said, and said what you did. If you wanted to do something, no contracts were needed. Your word was as good as gold. Not anymore.

Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News
Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News

The days of true team players like Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan are coming to a close. These two men epitomize class and respect for the game. Both men have made a lot of money and left a lot of money on the table so that their respective franchises can compete for championships.

It will be a sight to see when the Clippers visit the American Airlines Center for the first time. It will probably be deafening inside, but not for the right reasons, if you are DeAndre Jordan. In fact, if you were to take a poll in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for most-hated  NBA villians, the following would probably be true:

  1. Los Angeles Clippers
  2. DeAndre Jordan
  3. James Harden
  4. Houston Rockets
  5. San Antonio Spurs

Take a step back for a moment and consider the most recent athlete to experience the ire of the entire DFW Metroplex. Bear in mind that this fan base really isn’t prone to boo. Only after exhausting their hopes and dreams will they resort to booing.

When Josh Hamilton played his last season for the Texas Rangers in 2012, he was by all estimations mailing it in. The strikeouts, jogging in the outfield, and lazy running to first base were all there for the fans to see, yet they did not boo. It wasn’t until he started making excuses for why he was not playing well that the tide started to turn, culminating in a remarkable moment in a game that would determine the 2012 AL West Champion. Hamilton dropped a fly ball in center field for a two-run error that gave the Oakland A’s a 7-5 lead in a six-run fourth inning. To make matters worse, he jogged after the dropped ball, with no concern or urgency. Fan anger began to bubble to a boil.

Then in the one-game Wild Card Playoff, after his awful at-bats where he swung at everything in the air or in the dirt, the fans finally had enough and let the boos loose.

Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports
Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports

As bad as that was, it didn’t compare to the booing he received when he came back to Texas with the Angels after he flippantly stated that Arlington was not a “baseball town.” The booing he received as an Angel was incredible. I was at a game and could not believe it. Not even Alex Rodriguez got that much hatred.

Josh Hamilton‘s experience will pale in terms of what DeAndre Jordan will get. I shudder to think of how that will sound in an enclosed stadium. Heaven forbid if he has to make free throws to win the game. It appears that he did NOT want to “be the man” in Dallas, but is perfectly happy being the “third option” behind CP3 and Blake Griffin.

Right now, I am sure Steve Ballmer, Doc Rivers, and CP3 are all removing their red noses and clown makeup. After all, this is the NBA circus.


Ronnie Garcia is the Voice of Reason at The Scoop. He is also an avid guitarist, educator, and all around smarmy guy. Ronnie co-hosts The Fanatics on Monday nights from 7-9pm on KTSR-db. You can follow him on twitter @TheRonMann.

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Leaving a Legacy: Why the 2015 Finals are a Defining Moment

SportsUnbiased.com
SportsUnbiased.com

The annual skirmish for the Larry O’Brien Trophy is here. Mister O’Brien was not only the NBA Commissioner for roughly a decade, but also a former Postmaster General, just ahead of future President, Lyndon Johnson, in the 1960s. For those of you keeping track, the trophy was first given this name for the 1984 NBA Finals: a classic duel between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. That series further solidified the reign of one team over another for yet another season, as the fans poured out onto a familiar hardwood court, filled with a rather familiar cloud of cigar smoke.

Believe it or not, a mere eight franchises out of a possible 30 have taken home this trophy during these 30 some-odd years. For the first time since 2006, we will see a brand new team added to that illustrious list, regardless of who happens to win. As for myself, at the end of it all, I really just want the same thing that most professional basketball fans want: a competitive, 7-game series, complete with controversial whistle-blowing and as many down-to-the-wire finishes as humanly possible.

By the way, the number of Game 7s for the NBA Finals SINCE that magical 1984 season is staggeringly low. There have been six occurrences: three on the back end of the 20th century, and three more, here, in THIS century. That’s an average of about once every five seasons. However, there is a good chance that we will see a six-game series, as this is a much more common result. Some would say that the NBA has little to no parity when it comes to competition. I would hesitate to disagree with that claim, except when it comes to the NBA Finals. You see, in order for there to be a Game 6, both teams have to have lost at least twice. Does anyone complain when a baseball game is tied in the 8th inning, but is decided before the bottom half of the 9th has begun? Do football fans want EVERY single game to go into overtime? The point is, Game 7s should NOT be an every-year trend in the NBA. If it happens too little, there might be no one interested enough to see it happen, but if it happens too often, the effects of diminishing returns might make the exciting moments a lot less exciting.

USATSI
USATSI

The focus of the 2015 NBA Finals, no doubt, is on the current MVP Stephen Curry and the game’s current, most dominant player, LeBron James. Is anyone else reminded of when Magic Johnson led the Lakers to the Finals in 1988? He was from Michigan, returning to Michigan, to try and defeat the Detroit Pistons. Stephen Curry, from Ohio, will return to Ohio to attempt to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Let us not forget about LeBron‘s deep roots from the area, too. How quickly things have shifted just in the past five years: the betrayal of his hometown team, the “underachieving” four consecutive Finals appearances in South Florida, the current chance at redemption for a city that hasn’t won a championship in ANY of the four major sports since the pre-Super Bowl era of the NFL. Does anyone else remember the last time a player participated in five straight NBA Finals?

NESN
NESN

Well, the two previous players to do so, overlapped each other to appear in 10 straight NBA Finals, during arguably the best era of the league. Yes, this would be Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Obviously, it is a very narrow list for LeBron James to be a part of, AND Michael Jordan is not ON the list with him, THIS time.

If there is any discussion about which city/area is hungrier for this championship, let me try and set the record straight: it is not even close! The Bay Area might have been a hungry sports town before the 1970s arrived, but since then, they have won eight Super Bowls, seven World Series Titles, and one NBA Championship. Yes, that is correct. The Golden State Warriors have won an NBA Championship.

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

It was in the year of 1975, led by Hall of Fame great Rick Barry. They were, in fact, a long shot to win it that year, but they overcame the odds, particularly in the post-season. For a more modern comparison, try and remember the story of the 1994-’95 Houston Rockets. It is eerily similar. As for this season, on paper, the Warriors have to be the favorites, but there is something strange going on over there in Cleveland. No matter how bleak things have looked for the Cavs, LeBron and company have managed to will their way all the way back to the Finals.

The Michael Jordan/LeBron James comparisons do not always add up: Jordan was a skinny Shooting Guard, while LeBron is a massive Guard-Forward hybrid. One guy played out three full seasons in college, while the other jumped into the league right out of high school. The dissimilarities, for me, are in much greater numbers than the actual similarities. However, if there is one similarity, it is definitely on the line right now. It is the legacy of domination. No, LeBron cannot be 6-0 in the Finals, but he CAN be 3-3. Jordan was the most dominant player for his time, AND he backed it up with both personal and team accolades.

NBA
NBA

When watching LeBron James in this series, think back to Michael Jordan in 1993, versus the Phoenix Suns, and 1998, versus the Utah Jazz. Those were the only two occasions in which Jordan‘s Bulls were the visiting team going in. Furthermore, 1993 was one of only two occurrences in which Jordan was facing the current MVP on the other side of the court. The other occurrence was in 1997, against the same team as in 1998. What did Jordan do in 1993? What did he do in 1997 and 1998? The answer is the exact same for ALL three of those sample questions, and THIS is why Lebron‘s legacy matters in 2015!

As for Stephen Curry, well, he need only think about what happened to those virtually unblemished MVPs inside of those aforementioned examples: Charles Barkley and Karl Malone.

Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated

The only thing either of them failed to accomplish was winning a championship, and they both failed versus the same dominant player. Curry is still young, but allow me to ask this quick question about the NFL great, Dan Marino: how many times did he go back to the Super Bowl after he reached that stage in only his second season as a pro?


Alex Moore is a Contributor at The Scoop.

 

My Life with Josh

“I’m not a hero. I’m not the savior.  Forget what you know.  I’m just a man whose circumstances went beyond his control, beyond my control.  We all need control.  I need control.  We all need control.”  — Dennis DeYoung

I am not an addict, although sweet tea comes really close for me.  I will not pretend to be an expert on addiction.  I know enough to know that addiction is hell.

However, I do live with an addict in my sports life.  His name is Josh Hamilton.  He left me for a couple of years, thinking there was more out there for him than me.  Now, suddenly Josh is walking back into my life.

And as a Texas Rangers fan…I am conflicted.


In the fall of 2007, the Texas Rangers had A-Rod money to spend after Alex opted out of his Rangers deal and inked a new deal with New York.  With a full wallet, they searched for a big-time centerfielder through free agency or trade.  Rumors swirled around Torii Hunter, Jim Edmonds, Rocco Baldelli, Aaron Rowand, Coco Crisp, and Juan Pierre.   (Yes, THAT Aaron Rowand.)

AP Photo
AP Photo

Just before Christmas, they found their new centerfielder when they traded prized pitching prospect Edinson Volquez to Cincinnati for Josh Hamilton.  Hamilton finally made it to the big leagues in 2007 with the Reds, after years where great promise succumbed to near-fatal addictions.  While sabermetricians predicted good things for Hamilton hitting in The Ballpark in Arlington, Ranger fans boned up on his backstory and hoped for the best.

And wow, did we ever get the best.

Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News

I had a late business meeting in downtown Dallas the night of the 2008 Home Run Derby.  I’ll never know how I drove home safely that night, because tears rolled down my face the whole way as I listened to Hamilton’s performance on the radio.  As ball after ball landed in the farthest reaches of Ruth’s House, and Yankees fans cheered, I could not help feeling joy for Josh realizing his God-given potential on a national stage.  Swear to God, we could have gotten anything the Yankees had if we had offered them Josh Hamilton the next morning.

The Rangers still were not very good yet, but Josh had a great year.  He settled into the area, shared his Christian witness with church youth groups, and quickly became a fan favorite.   He hit baseballs a helluva long way and he threw his body all over center field with abandon.  He provided electric moments and incredible memories for five seasons at Rangers Ballpark.

Occasionally, I listen to Eric Nadel’s call of the walkoff home run Josh hit on July 9, 2011.  That was two nights after fan Shannon Stone tragically fell to his death while reaching for a ball Josh tossed to him and his son.  That homer, that healing moment in time, still gives me chills listening to it today. The video below is from the television broadcast. What a moment it was.

From 2008 – 2012, Josh Hamilton was a baseball beast.

Of course, when we got Baseball Beast Josh, we also got the other Josh.  Snarky Josh with the media.  Silly Josh at Maloney’s Tavern.  Crazy Josh at Sherlock’s.  Whining Josh who blamed his hitting slumps variously on energy drinks, quitting tobacco, personal sin, day games, and his own blue eyes.

THAT Josh.  Recovering Addict Josh.

For five seasons, Josh Hamilton was the greatest player in Texas Rangers history.  He also was our most fascinating character, a volatile mix of testosterone, ego, moodiness, self-doubt, and relapse potential.  He played with a youthful abandon on the field, yet sometimes displayed juvenile behavior off the field.

ESPN
ESPN

Josh’s party in Texas ended in September 2012.  A hitting slump became protracted.  In the last game of the season, with the AL West division on the line, he dropped a crucial fly ball in Oakland.  When he failed to produce at the plate in the Wild Card game, Rangers fans turned on him and booed lustily after each at-bat.  The Rangers lost to Baltimore that night, and the free agent outfielder took his high-wire act to SoCal.

There, he sealed his fate with Texas fans when he famously declared that Dallas-Fort Worth is “not a baseball town.”  He was right, of course, but it still was a cheap shot at Ranger Nation.  Fans dissed him loudly whenever the Angels came to town.

USA Today
USA Today

Soon, Hamilton also lost Angels fans, as his hitting troubles continued and his body began to give out on him.  Off the field, his marriage unraveled.  When he admitted to MLB a still-mysterious relapse of his addictions last February, his Anaheim situation completely tanked.  Owner Arte Moreno could not wait to dump his highly-paid player, believing the relapse was disloyal to his benevolent ownership and toward Hamilton’s teammates.  Texas answered Moreno’s call.

That is how Josh Hamilton ended up on my doorstep, knocking sheepishly and wanting to come home.


Addiction knows no seasons.  When you are on top of the world, feeling secure and invulnerable, the addiction feeds on that.  When you are down in the dumps, feeling unloved and incapable, the addiction feeds on that, too.  It’s why addiction is so insidious.  It attacks you, no matter your mood, no matter your circumstance.

Living with a recovering addict is difficult.  It is not a matter of IF they will break your heart again, but WHEN.   All of your love and support and counsel cannot make the addiction just go away.  You never take the good times for granted.  You pray the bad times are not too bad.


Sometime in 2012, Josh Hamilton lost his mojo.  Baseball came so easy for Josh from childhood on, but now he scuffles around, looking for that magic moment when it all clicks into place and he becomes a beast again.  Hamilton lives for the cheers and chants—needs them, really—but those are far fewer and much farther apart now.

AP Photo
AP Photo

After the latest relapse, Arte Moreno wanted Hamilton to grow up, man up, and stop his self-destructive behavior.  Moreno may not understand addiction.  Josh is not stupid, immature, disloyal, or intentionally self-destructive.  He is an addict.  Every skill, every decision, every emotion, every relationship is at risk every minute of every day from the addiction.  Addiction is not an excuse.  It is a driving force.

Josh Hamilton will never be a Baseball Beast again.  He did not find the formula in Anaheim.  It appears he may have started remembering the formula during rehab stints in Round Rock and Frisco.  Can he help this 2015 Rangers offense?  Sure, but only because this offense is So. Freaking. Awful.

Baseball Beast Josh is gone forever.  Recovering Addict Josh lives on.  All of this begs the question, then, “Why will I let Josh Hamilton back into my sports life now?”

Simply put, Josh Hamilton touches my heart.

After all, this is not Alex Rodriguez or Barry Bonds, two cruddy personalities who screwed royally with the integrity of the game I love.  He is not Josh Brent who killed a man, or Ray Rice who cold-cocked a woman.  He is not Floyd Mayweather, thank God, a pathetic excuse for a man.  Hamilton is not a stain on civil society or on the game of baseball.

Austin American Statesman
Austin American Statesman

Josh Hamilton is merely a fallen human, a kid in an adult’s aging body who just wants to play baseball like he thinks he still can.  I root for him because I’m fallen, too.  We all are.  He wants to be better at life, and so do I.  I want him to succeed, not just as a Texas Ranger, but much more importantly as a man.  I want him to succeed for his kids and for the kids who wore his last name on their backs for years.

Mine are not the ramblings of a sentimental sap pining for days past.  I know what I’m getting myself into as Josh returns to the Rangers.  Hamilton will piss me off sometimes.  He may get on a hot streak and thrill me for a week or two.  I’m ready for both, if it means that the guy underneath the uniform gets a little more sober and a little more healed.

I listened to his April 27 press conference when both Joshes took questions from reporters.  Baseball Beast Josh got testy over the pointed queries about his aborted time in Anaheim and what he can possibly give Texas on the field.  Recovering Addict Josh talked openly and unashamed about his need for control, having people around him who love him and try to protect him from himself.

Cockiness mixed with concession.   Good grief, it all felt so familiar.


When I met my wife, she knew nothing about baseball.  I took her to her first major league game in 1994.  Over the last 20 years of following the Rangers with me, she has loved only two players:  Ivan Rodriguez and Josh Hamilton.  She still has her Josh memorabilia, even though that dumb “baseball town” statement ticked her off. She roots for him, too, so much so that she got emotional as I read her this article.

Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News

I’ve seen Josh play a few times at the Ballpark since he joined the Angels.  I never once booed him as thousands of others did.  Josh Hamilton played a huge role in a magical era for Rangers fans, and for that he always will have this fan’s gratitude and ongoing support.

So if returning to Arlington helps you on your journey, Josh, then welcome home, brother.  Have some iced Gold Peak with me.  My door is open.

Even so, you will break my heart again.   I know it.   It’s just a matter of time.


Bobby Quinten is a Contributor at The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @BobbyQuinten.