Can the Knicks Save Themselves?

Can the Knicks Save Themselves?

Ass.

There may not have been a better set up team in recent history than the New York Knicks. Not in ownership. That guy is a fucking idiot. But in opportunity? The Knicks may be able to turn a corner, and awfully fast.

What’s the genesis of such a thought? There are four, actually. In no specific order of importance:

  • New team President
  • Upcoming new Head Coach
  • 7 first round picks in the next 4 years, including a guaranteed lottery pick
  • Salary cap flexibility lacking long term deals

First off, the Knicks made a move to add a team leader, which considering the results of the last few leadership groups have been nothing. Not nothing but underwhelming. No, nothing, Absolute zero. Zilch.

But we should look at the sunshine that is behind the dark clouds of this disaster of a franchise run by a micromanaging douche who walked into family money and makes maybe the most compelling argument ever that the inheritance tax is too forgiving. And if Dolan can just keep from being Dolan, there is still a silver lining.

Let’s start with the new Team President, Leon Rose. Rose is a successful player agent, which is a growing trend both inside and outside of the NBA. After all, who can value players while seeing through bullshit inflation better than an agent? Especially in a time where a decrease in the NBA salary cap is expected? So Rose is clearly on board to attract names and to change a culture that looks like a train parking lot carnival, which a $4 billion franchise frankly should not resemble on any level. And a guy known working with players in a time when the cap is decreasing may be able to use his cap space asset now to acquire bad deals from winning teams in return for future assets from winning teams, or to burn off the remaining bad Knick contracts.

Luckily, Rose has a roster that has nothing but short term deal. Only one player is under contract three years from now. And their only buyout will also be burned out by then. So really when it comes to flexibility, outside of the Julius Randle contract- a guy who was almost traded- there is no major money in the Knicks near term future. And Randle may be moved next season if the Knicks are just as bad as the last two seasons.

The choice of General Manager for Rose’s is crucial. Dolan has been a headline grabber for the Knicks when it comes to acquiring mostly washed up names for futures or for burnt draft picks- come on, who from the Carmelo Anthony trade with Denver do you want back? But the GM will be running the draft, and this is a team that should be building through the draft hardcore. Here’s why.

Rose’s GM will have two first round picks in 2020. One WILL be in the lottery. He will have two first round picks in 2021. One will PROBABLY be in the lottery. Add to it that the one from 2019 was in the lottery. That’s three consecutive lottery picks. That should be a core.

Uh oh…

But wait, there’s more. In 2022? One first round pick SO FAR. But in 2023? Two more first round picks. That is 7 first rounders in 4 years in a sport with a 12 man roster. Which gets to the next GM question or two:

Are Kevin Knox and RJ Barrett players you build a team around? Are they parts of a team you build with? Or are they trade bait for different assets?

Let’s start with the veteran Knox. Much like free agent signing Alonzo Trier, Knox has taken a step back with decreased minutes in a year where he should have been playing. But Fizzdale, knowing he was coaching for his career, was absolutely going with his best odds, and not the odds of the franchise. A lot of coaches on the hot seat do that, giving the finger to the fans.

Know inarguable had a huge year over year decline in production. Also, his per minute play was stagnant. Maybe it’s why you don’t draft players as freshmen unless they were dominant in college, as their games are undeveloped. But that creates a different quandary- Is Kevin Knox tradable?

His stats say no. Not for a first round pick, which is the only way to salvage him. Maybe for an expiring, overblown contract with a sweetener. But one on one? Knox will get you nothing, so it’s best to burn a year to blow him up as a focal point of offense, and to create a market for his game. And ideally to ensure another lottery pick in 2021.

Untradeable today

Which brings us to Barrett. Barrett shows flashes of being a well rounded player. But the guy can’t shoot a free throw. I absolutely wait a year or two on Barrett before making a decision, because contractually you can- he has the longest term contract on the team. But also? He seems to fill in what isn’t going on. If he developes a free throw and a 30+% three point shot? He could be a swing piece at shooting guard and small forward that would be worth 36 minutes a night, at a fair price.

But today? Barrett looks like a part, not a whole.

Maybe the biggest deal for the Knicks is a new head coach. You need a coach that will be able to develop but also manage pro egos. I wrote about such here but be sure that you can not underestimate the importance of who the next head coach is. I am happy that David Blatt is in the organization, because in his head coaching career he has been nothing but a winner. Ideally he has input in finding the next Blatt. And let’s not forget it was Blatt who ended the Cav’s franchise titleless streak, not the other guy they fired after.

The takeaway? This will be the best chance for the Knicks to make moves for the next decade. They will need to draft very well in 2020. They will need to consider moving their bad deals in the same year. They can maybe pull off two 1st round picks 4 years in a row with a Randle trade. That along with cap flexibility would be absolute firepower.

They also maybe have to consider changing coaches two years from now, from a developmental coach to a pro coach. Or maybe they find a guy that can do both. No matter how it breaks down, the Knicks are entering a crucial time in the next few weeks, one that will define this franchise for the next decade. Which can either make the Knicks super interesting, or save the Knicks fans plenty of time from having to watch horrible basketball games.

First loss of the season? Why it’s a good thing for San Diego State

First loss of the season? Why it’s a good thing for San Diego State

47-35 halftime deficit. Malachi Flynn inefficient from 3. Yanni Wetzel in single digits. Less than 40% field goal percentage as a team. All these factors contributed to San Diego State, the last remaining unbeaten team in college basketball, finally suffering their first loss to a 14-14 UNLV team that hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2013. This is a bad loss that could affect them from being a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. This is a bad loss that could potentially give other teams with similar styles coaching film on how to take down San Diego State. All of that is understandable. However, at the same time, I believe this is a blessing in disguise for them, as the winning streak they were on is just not sustainable for the rest of the season. If the Aztecs want any shot to win a title, this loss will allow them to refocus rather than remaining overconfident they can win with a lot of the same styles of play on the big stage.
I mentioned in an article I wrote a few weeks ago how the pressure of being undefeated was going to make it difficult for San Diego State to succeed in the tournament, in addition to being a mid-major Top 2 seed, likely a 1. Even a team as talented on paper as 2014-15 Kentucky couldn’t finish off their undefeated season, losing to Wisconsin in the Final Four 71-64. There are too many good teams and a strong amount of parity in college basketball now, and that makes this kind of feat next to impossible, hence why it hasn’t been accomplished since Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers in 1976.
From that logic, would your team rather have that loss then within the tournament or even within the conference tournament which would directly affect seeding even more, or would you rather have it happen now when there is still time to turn things around? I think 99.9% of people would take it now, and have time to focus and reset rather than just trying to play with the same overconfidence, because it is not sustainable. Throughout recent NCAA Tournament history, there are plenty of cases where teams that have streaked into the tournament and then lost early, whether they were 1 or 2 seeds. In 2015, we saw Villanova end the regular season on a 12-game winning streak and win the Big East Tournament, and then within 2 rounds of the NCAA Tournament get shocked by #8 seed North Carolina State, leading to the famous crying flute girl meme. That team entered the tournament having not lost since January 19. In 2016, Michigan State ended the season on a 10-game winning streak, including winning the Big Ten Tournament, and then got shocked by #15 seeded Middle Tennessee State in the first round. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t know what I know now and fell into the trap of picking that Spartan team to win it all. But 4 years later, they help prove this theory. Gonzaga in 2013, aided by the easy West Coast Conference, entered the tournament on a 14-game winning streak having not lost since January 19 against Butler. In the NCAA Tournament, they ended up almost being the first 16 seed to lose to a 1, but surviving against Southern University of the Southwestern Athletic Conference 64-58. After that, they lost 76-70 to #9 seeded and eventual Cinderella team Wichita State. Ironically, the year after, Wichita State did the same thing, entering the tournament 34-0 and then losing in the Round of 32 to a #8 seeded Kentucky team. Lastly, we have my favorite of them all, 2018 Virginia, engraved in history as the only 1 seed to lose to a 16. While their winning streak wasn’t as big (8 games), they hadn’t lost since February 10, and they kept winning the exact same way, just thinking their philosophy of defense was going to carry them through. Then, they made the wrong side of history, getting obliterated 74-54 by #16 seeded UMBC, hitting the lowest of lows for a 1 seed the NCAA tournament has ever seen.
There are also examples the other way too, where good teams can have good losses and that will help them go far. I’m not saying these teams end up going all the way, but they make it to the Final Four or Elite Eight overcoming other expectations, which San Diego State will likely have to do being a Mountain West team. Examples of this include Gonzaga in 2016-17, that made their first Final Four in school history and eventually went to the National Championship Game, falling to North Carolina. Before that run, they lost 79-71 in the final game of the season to BYU, allowing them to refocus and play with that extra effort to do the little things in the tournament, which they did in a lot of key games later on in that tournament. Granted, they were aided by the worst non-call I have ever seen in an NCAA Tournament, when Zach Collins stuck his hand through the hoop and got away with what should’ve been a goaltending call against Northwestern. However, that doesn’t guarantee that Gonzaga would’ve lost that game either, even though it was more likely the case with Northwestern having a big second half. Looking 9 years before, 2007-08 Memphis had very similar circumstances, back when they had John Calipari and were still in Conference USA. They lost on February 23 of that year to Tennessee, which wasn’t a bad loss, as Tennesee was a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament that year. However, that loss helped them reset and allowed them to make it to the Final Four and within seconds of a National Championship before Mario Chalmers broke their hearts. In 2004-05, Illinois lost in the final game of the season to a 20-12, not bad but not great, Ohio State team. They ended up using that loss as a wakeup call and made it all the way to the Final Four and then the National Championship before, similarly to Gonzaga, losing to Roy Williams and the North Carolina Tar Heels. Go back a year, you have St. Joseph’s, who similarly to 2014 Wichita State ended the regular season undefeated. However, they got shocked in the Atlantic 10 tournament by Xavier. However, they still recovered nicely and made it all the way to the Elite Eight before losing to a good Louisville team. Lastly, a team that did win it all was the 2005-06 Florida Gators, who lost on February 26 of that season to a very average Alabama team. That among with some other losses knocked that team down to a 3 seed. However, that didn’t phase them and stop them from taking home their first of two National Championships. Not to mention, despite being a 1 seed, the second championship team also lost February 27 of that season to Tennessee before being able to refocus and overcome the pressure of repeating as National Champions.
This is far from a perfect theory, as most Championship and Final Four teams are somewhere in between the two extremes being shown here, and most Top 3 seeds that get upset in the Round of 64 and Round of 32 are in the same boat. However, if I’m trusting a team with a good loss to reset and refocus or a team riding an unrealistic winning streak into the NCAA Tournament, I’m taking the team with the good loss. San Diego State would’ve been the unrealistic winning streak team had they stayed undefeated into the NCAA Tournament, almost guaranteeing they would’ve lost the first weekend. This loss puts me slightly more confident in this Aztecs team, especially since they are well-rounded and well-coached. They will still most likely have the pressure of trying to succeed as a mid-major conference Top 2 seed in a weird year, which still could get to them. However, they avoid having the double whammy of that paired with an undefeated season and an unrealistic, unsustainable winning streak.

Mamba Out…

Mamba Out…

With the entire country’s eyes fixed on them Lakers Nation responded did themselves proud, as they payed tribute – with heavy, but proud hearts, to two of their own – Kobe and Gigi Bryant.

With all due respect to the Los Angeles Lakers fan base, as you have clearly notice these few days, Kobe and his princess, not only had your hearts, but ours also.

Growing Up in Philly, our Coach took me and my Brothers to Lower Merion High to see Kobe play, before declare NBA. However the gym was pack and we had to settle for seeing him play on a TV monitor on another building. Coach was nevertheless so happy and fire up, the whole ride home kept saying to us,

“Jellybean’s son going be a great player!”

Sure! Kobe made some mistakes – as some incentive mother f*ers are quick to point out during this tragic time, but as the Holly Man once said,

“Let the one without any sins cast the first stone.”

It’s not about being right, is about doing right and decency.

No matter, which team you loyally follow, when push comes to shove the NBA Family will always back one of its own.

Through ownership-executive bad decisions, prizing out the average fan, celebrity commentators with their clueless self-serving agendas and too many other issues.

“Guess what?”
“We still here!”

Visionary, David Stern – may he always rest in peace () saw all of this coming a mile away and decided all the power needed to go back to the players because nobody was going to hijack his league, like other professional leagues have been.

At the end is just this simple,

“Every day that you open your eyes and not find yourself inside a whole of dirt with flowers growing on top of you, Is A Good Day!

May you and your princess always rest in peace, Mamba…”

It’s Not Just Fizzdale

It’s Not Just Fizzdale

The Knicks disappointing season has led to the firing of David Fizzdale.  From the start Fizzdale was the wrong hire for the team. He has never proven to be a good coach previously in his career and frankly never belonged coaching anything in a major market. Or a minor market. Or in the NBA. Considering all of the candidates available at the time, his hiring was a head scratcher, but thankfully many of the positive candidates that were looking for jobs when FIzzdale was hired are still available, as Fizzdale was fired so quickly into his awful Knicks areer.

Fizzdale’s firing is not the entirely the fault of David Fizzdale. It’s the fault of the team’s impotent owner, fat fuck James Dolan, and the shitty front offices that he’s assembled that draft poorly and recruit poorly.

Truth be told, I watch an embarrassingly large number of basketball games. I have watched the sport from the 1970’s through today. I have seen many changes in the game over time. Some for the better, most for the worst, as the league has turned itself from a sport and team game into globetrotter rosters and promotable movie stars. And that’s the type of coach the Knicks need: one that can turn the team into the Globetrotters offense. So let’s look at what’s out there in management and what could help this moribund organization out of its perpetual suckdom.

David Blatt- already hired as a front office guy. Blatt has multiple sclerosis, so he probably wants to be in a less physical role. A great basketball mind, and maybe a replacement for Steve Mills? GM Scott Perry? Both?

Mark Jackson – one of the most prolific point guards in Knick history, would be a local boy comes home story. Not sure if it would be a local boy does good story, however. Smart player, would teach floor spacing and passing, which the Knicks need. But can he teach them his shimmy?

Becky Hammon- No, because she’s a woman. But that’s not sexism, that’s advice. The NBA took forever just to use female officials, who are equally as bad as the male ones. But a female head coach in a situation that’s bound to fail? That will lead to 20 years of women not being considered for head coaching jobs. I am not saying Hammon is underqualified to coach. If she has Coach Pop’s endorsement, that’s good enough for me. But she is overqualified to coach a transient roster with a thus far not exactly franchise rookie in RJ Barrett as a centerpiece. Wait for the right opportunity, Becky. Right now? This isn’t it.

Mike Miller- You see this shit he’s running? No. Absolutely not.  

Mark Few- A college coach? Yup. Few has performed miracles at Gonzaga. He has also worked with NBA players at international tournaments, so he has connections to some of the better players in the league. And as a college coach, he is familiar with recruiting so he knows how to talk with players. A knock against him is that he’s never won a championship, but neither have the Knicks in a few generations, so maybe baby steps is best? And at age 57, this may be his cash cow and only shot at the pros.

Patrick Ewing- this was suggested by Knicks superfan AMR, who feels that Ewing’s connection to the team would be a shot in the arm to a franchise that could maybe use a Hall of Famers touch. Ewing presently is head coach at his alma mater Georgetown, but has been an NBA assistant so he would know the grind. Also, Ewing was an outside shooting center long before outside shooting centers were a thing in the NBA, so he could help mold the young forwards and Mitchel Robinson into a multi-dimensional offensive player.

Steve Kerr- Already said no once, but with Golden State’s run over and the ability to poach Draymond Green to jumpstart a presently invisible defense plus salary cap flexibility and ANOTHER high draft pick? Plus the salary demands of 4 consecutive finals with 4 wins minus the LeBron rules? That may be something the Knicks should open checkbooks for.

We are not going to suggest who the Knicks should hire. No matter what advice we offer here, rest assured one thing- the Knicks will fuck things up. Because they always do. Fizzdale’s firing was partly his fault, but it’s not just Jizzdale. It’s the organization. Until they run themselves with a winning expectation and demand accountability from their players and staff, you’re going to have a lot of players developing like Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikinia- underwhelming and failing to live up to expectations. And the top 5 pick this year will be more of the same.

Follow @JoshBarely on Twitter

Knicks Gotta Knick

Knicks Gotta Knick

New York Sports have an unnatural relationship with reality.

Think of it as a super hot female model. Not the cute girls at the bar and local flyer bikini models that made up the last shitty Sports Illustrated calendar. Like a real smokeshow. She walks around and people just do shit for her. Buy her stuff. Act extra nice. And It happens so often that she starts to take it for granted. She expects it. She becomes self-absorbed.  

Yeah? Nah.

And we all know what happens when that girl loses her looks, or the next super model takes her place and they fall into obscurity. It’s not a pretty picture.

The analogy here is that because something is attractive, it often doesn’t feel that is has to work hard. Let me present a specific case of not working hard as you become less attractive: the New York Knicks.

The Knicks haven’t been relevant in 20 years. That wasn’t always true. Between 1993 and 2003, the Knicks appeared in the NBA finals twice, with two different head coaches and two very different teams, philosophically. That actually is a credit to management. Generally a team has a small window with a great lineup. See Golden State… or every team Lebron jumps tat to get all stars to carry his ass.

That the Knicks lost one final (maybe Pat Reilly should have subbed in Hubert Davis? Its why you lost, bro) and a few years later were back in the finals to lose with a completely different team – showing that Patrick Ewing missing lay ups and dunks doesn’t actually matter to a loser franchise- as long as you reallocate resources.

Guy had a J

But between 2001 and today? The most exciting Knicks moment was a cast off point Harvard educated guard that electrified a city. For ultimately a go nowhere team.

So we have to look at this body of work- a dead body, really- and we have to ask- why are the Knicks so horrible?

The answer isn’t so complex. I boil it down to headline envy.

The Knicks under owner James Dolan likes headlines. But not the right kind, like winning titles. No, he wants everyone to write about the Knicks, to refer to Madison Square Garden as the Mecca of basketball (wonder how many basketball fans actually know what Mecca is?) and to keep headlines because…have you seen the Forbes valuation of the Knicks lately?

$4 billion dollars. FOUR BILLION DOLLARS. For a team that hasn’t won a title in the lifetimes of most of their fans. The last time the Knicks were champions Gerald Ford was president.

He looks happy.

And how bad are the Knicks? Look at their present crosstown rivals, the Brooklyn Nets.

The Nets have made the NBA finals twice since the Knicks made their last appearance. The Nets aren’t able to keep a home, but they have more success this century than the Knicks have. And since 1974, are 2-2 in league finals compared to the Knicks 0-2, albeit that the two wins were in the ABA. But for NBA standards, since 2000 the Nets have at least won a playoff series- when was the last time the Knicks did that?

The Nets have been vagabonds throughout their existence. Since their NBA arrival in 1976 they’ve called Uniondale NY home, Secaucus NJ home, nearly called Newark NJ home, almost called Westbury NY home, and presently call Brooklyn home. No one wants to keep them! And yet…since 2000, more successful than the Knicks if you look at playoff series wins as a barometer.

This pissees Dolan off. So he wants the backpage of the newspapers by interfering with team management so trade for superstars, or stars, or by leading the league in ejecting alumni, or anything that gets a headline to disrupt his losing. Speaking of losing, how have the Knicks done with coaches?

I’m pretty sure the last good Knicks coach was Jeff Van Gundy. You could argue Larry Brown was a good coach, but certainly not in his Knicks tenure. The Knicks are presently looking at new and exciting head coaches, some with limited experience. And the first experience all of these guys get? Losing. Fizzoutdale sucks.

Same goes for the front office. Phil Jackson was an incredible NBA coach. And was an imbecile as a team President with the Knicks. The sole good draft move Jackson made was Kirstaps Porzingis, who he promptly alienated and ultimately read about demanding a trade. Why read about it? Because his ass was already kicked out the door, having done nothing but lose in his Knicks tenure.

But the management in between? Isiah Thomas did a fantastic job as team President and GM, and even better as head coach. The Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph trades comes to mind, as do all those bad free agent contacts to players like Jerome James and Jarred Jefferies. Then there’s that weird $11.5 million deal he gave to Anucha Brown Sanders. I don’t know what that’s about but it can’t be good.

And amazingly, after the sexual harassment claim from Sanders, Dolan hired Thomas to run the New York women’s basketball team, the Liberty. This is the lack of judgement that makes the Knicks losers. Guess you can’t sexually harass a lesbian? It did get headlines, which is what Dolan wants.

Couldn’t make that shit up.

Every team in sports looks to point to a golden age, but I’m a fan of the “what have you done for me lately” school of thought. And what have the Knicks done lately?

Be bad enough to miss the playoffs, but not bad enough to get a solid lottery pick? And why not? Because unlike say the New York Mess (not a typo) the Knicks will drop money at free agents. Where they do a terrible job with such- hi Joakim Noah! But just enough to make sure they’re picking somewhere after the top ten.

This past Knicks season had some promise because they were absolutely fucking horrible and had so many expiring contracts that they would finally be able to be big game hunters in free agency. And you know what happened? Knicks gotta Knick.

They lost the draft lottery. So as fans suffered all season with that little glimmer of hope for a brighter future, the Knicks couldn’t even lose right. Now I am NOT saying that RJ Barrett is a bust, and in fact he seems to have the trust of the organization as their highest draft pick since Patrick Ewing. But at the same time…he can’t hit free throws? WTF. Every game the Knicks lose by 3 or less will 100% be Barretts fault for sucking at fundamentals. He went to Duke. He should know better.

Luckily for him, the Knicks are usually blown away by much larger margins of failure.

The other part of the Knicks past season that gave them promise was the two 1st round draft picks that the Knicks got from Dallas for Porzingis. But you know what? Luka Doncic will make sure those first rounders are somewhere in the 20’s. The Knicks best hope is to package those two picks and see if they can get to a top ten pick, because a bench isn’t going to help this mess. All they do is draft bench. Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox, Frank Tkinilikiniaiah- but not Alonso Trier. No, he was undrated but the Knicks signed him because he was buddies with Kevin Durant. That’s the way to woo a guy.

Because Kevin Durant was leaving Golden State to hang out with an undrafted college kid. An undrafted college kid.

Oh, that was the other thing. The summer of 2019 free agency splurge! Who were the Knicks getting? Durant? Anthony Davis? Kyrie Irving? A combination? All three?

Howabout this- Knicks gotta Knick. They got fucking nothing. A bunch of castoffs that are serviceable NBA players, but no leadership. And their coach? David Jizzdale? That wasn’t a typo either. Will he lead? Has he ever? Guy is a career loser as a head coach. How he has a job is not only staggering, but also lends to explain why the Knicks are just perennial losers.

Sucks.

But boy did they get headlines. The next one will be for firing the coach.

So that’s a lot of bitching. What about a positive? How do we fix this?

First step- James Dolan needs to sell the team. He has $4 billion reasons to. Take the money and play with your shitty jam band. You’ve done enough. And not in the good way. Shit, the Nets sold their team and shitty arena over a billion, and the Los Angeles Clippers went for $2 billion. Take the money and go ruin something else.

So douchey.

Next step? You have a $4 billion franchise. Invest 1% in a head coach, GM, front office, and scouting staff. Maybe 1.5%. That’d be $40 to $60 million dollars. You know what you’d get? The top head coach and the top GM in the NBA taking a massive salary. You have a salary cap on players, but on coaches? Not so much. Yes, there are some staffing limits that apply to the players cap, but that doesn’t fall on coaches.

Is Blatt answering a call?

Next step? Draft well. That’s why you have scouts. And free agents? Be selective. Have a five year plan. Reevaluate that plan after every game. Do not be afraid to make trades, but always weigh the trade offs and opportunity costs in keeping an asset and moving an asset. Maybe hire a team economist and a team cap expert? Look at the present model that’s working- teams effectively shooting the three- and emulate that, but figure out what the next trend is- maybe defense comes back? Maybe it’s three point plays at a higher percentage shot? Maybe it’s a ten second offense? But for the Knicks, we know what isn’t winning- what they’ve been doing for almost 20 years.

Time for a change, Knick fans, or else it will be more of the same. Or more to the point, Knicks Gotta Knick.

*This article was written while watching two consecutive Thanksgiving time Knicks losses- to be fair, consecutive Knicks losses can happen at any time- but was inspired by Knicks superfan and the creator of the term “Jizzdale,” AMR.

Follow the author on Twitter @JoshBarely

The NBA, China, and You

The NBA, China, and You

The NBA is performing its annual world exhibition series. This series of games is part of the goodwill of the best professional league in the world, but also reflects the ever growing global popularity of the game of basketball. Basketball is popular because it’s as cheap to play as soccer, and is an accessible game to pretty much anyone. Fans in China especially love basketball and are very supportive of the NBA.

Then the literal shit hit the fan. Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey spoke in support of the protests presently going on in Hong Kong. In case you weren’t sure what was going on in Hong Kong, here is the short version:

Since 1997, Hong Kong has been a part of China after being a British colony. The residents have historically had decades of autonomy from China, and built a thriving economy. China has mostly left Hong Kong alone as it has been a cash cow, but every now and then China pokes at Hong Kong just to remind them who is really in charge.

Protesters attend a demonstration demanding Hong Kong’s leaders to step down and withdraw the extradition bill, in Hong Kong, China, June 16, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu – RC12BDB5C070

The present protests originate from a bill that was introduced that would allow Hong Kong to deport suspected criminals to mainland China to face trial there. Many people feel that such would guarantee extraditions initiated by China, more criminal convictions and violate their rights, so the residents took to the streets to protest.

They’re also protesting police corruption and brutality, and at least one protestor has been killed by police during these protests. And the protestors also want the promises of expanded democracy from a 2014 bill enforced. Lots of moving parts, but basically, they want democracy.

Rockets GM Morey tweeted support for the residents of Hong Kong because generally, the United States should be supporting democracies all over the world. It has been a foreign policy of ours since World War Two, one of the main reasons that we spend billions of dollars to support Israel today, and the impetus for at least four military conflicts in the last 50 years or so.

A tweet is so innocuous, right? WRONG. Morey was bombarded with HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of angry tweets from China. League officials started to speak out of both ends of their mouths. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he supports free speech for NBA employees, and in the same breath said there are consequences for your free speech. The message was received by the rank and file of the NBA.

Champion coaches Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr danced around supporting Hong Kong despite being vocal critics of the United States. Lebron James called Morey “uneducated,” which is interesting. I’m sure there is no direct financial tie between Lebron and China. Also Lebron managed to firmly plant his foot in his mouth in the process. But more on this later.

Even present Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai wrote a rambling letter attacking Morey’s knowledge of China and explaining a history of foreign imperialism in China and why Chinese are so sensitive to western commentary on Chinese life and culture.

Interestingly, Tsai is from Taiwan, a state that has been long backed by a Western nation that has preserved their autonomy. Tsai came to America and got a degree from Yale, and worked hard to earn a $700,000 annual salary from a Swedish investment firm in Hong Kong before he took those earnings back to the mainland to start the Chinese equivalent of Amazon, an American idea.

Even more interestingly, all of the aforementioned actors are silent on the current Chinese persecution of the Muslim Uighur population, who are pretty much presently sitting in camps which the Chinese say serve the purpose of reeducation. Any person who has ever read a history book knows what reeducation means. You would think a guy that makes profits in China and became an internet billionaire like Tsai would want all the people in China to be his customers and be free to shop on line, but he’s predictably quiet on the subject.

I get the feeling that Joe Tsai is an asshole, but it’s just a feeling. Based on anecdotal data. I’m sure he gets birthday gifts for his kids or something, but I don’t have a source on that.

So you may be asking, why is the NBA so afraid of China? Why are the players shutting the fuck up? Why are North American arenas taking away not only protest signs, but also informational campaigns out of their arenas? And the answer is simple- money.

The NBA collective bargaining agreement (CBA) creates a split in league generated revenue between players and owners at basically a 50-50 share. The players share of revenue is generally expressed in the salary cap. If you’ve followed the NBA, you’d know that revenues grow annually, meaning the cap grows annually, so every year players get paid more and more.

Want an example? When the New York Knicks gave undrafted bench energy player Ron Baker a contract, it was for a two way roughly $540,000. That’s like sports minimum wage. However, Baker had a management team that believed in handing out bad contracts more than they believed in him. Baker as a rookie averaged 4 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists a game for that season. Those stats made him a multimillionaire.

The Knicks gave Baker $9 million dollars over the next two years. I’m pretty sure I can post those same stats for $530k over 50 games like Baker did, and would gladly sign a 2 year deal for $9 million. And not even see the end of that contract, as he was waved by both the Knicks the Washington Wizards last season.

Why the fuck would you give Ron Baker a $10 million net value as a human being? Because the NBA prints money.

The salary cap for the upcoming season is $109 million, and is expected to more to $117 million for the 2020-2021 season. Why go through all of this?

Because China. If China decides “Nah, fuck you” to the NBA and stops showing games, supporting teams, cutting off apparel sales, the conservative estimate is that the NBA salary cap for 2020-2021 is going to be $99 million, and the doomsday estimate is $94 million.

From $117 million to $94 million? That means a team loses $46 million in revenues. And the players on that team combined lose $23 million. But that’s not just all.

Hong Kong has an opinion, too

There are 30 teams in the NBA. That’s $690 million of player salaries that will go away. Raises that will be reduced. Unrestricted free agents what will see pay cuts for becoming a better player. Veterans who will have prematurely ending careers. Do you think that players want to see nearly $700 million go up in smoke? And owners see almost $1.4 billion not hit their bank accounts? FUCK NO.

So you want to know why Lebron is toeing a line? Or Popovich? Or Kerr? Or every player in the league? Or arena security? Because everyone has jobs and money on the line. The NBA players union assuredly wants the cap to escalate, not return to 2016- which was $94 million.

As American citizens, we enjoy the ideas of democracy and freedom. We believe on some level that we should support sucj ideas if they are in our best interest. And people are looking at a guy like Lebron- a guy who has never had loyalty to anything in a career but Lebron and opportunity- who made some hypocritical statements and are calling him a dick. Lebron actually said that in this matter he does not want to be political. He doesn’t want to be political? He mocked the current president. He campaigned for Hillary Clinton in 2016. He’s gotten involved in public schooling in Ohio. He’s been vocal in the Black Lives Matter movement. He’s absolutely political.

And today? He’s China’s bitch. So…maybe he has more in common with the president than he realizes.

I talk to people. I have yet to meet one that has said “I agree with what Lebron did. He has to cover his ass.” Pretty much everyone sees him as full of shit, which is easy to realize if you every watched that self-absorbed shit ESPN “The Decision” soap opera.

There are many people who are yelling that Lebron should have made a statement about the Hong Kong situation. They say things like “You have to express what you feel even if its in the face of losing money” or “If you believe in the cause, who cares what your boss says, because freedom is important!” A lot of these people are right leaning, which I find interesting.

Why? Because they’re fucking hypocrites.

How did I make that jump? Remember that Colin Kaepernick guy? The guy that expressed what he believed in despite losing a lot of money? And they spoke out for freedom and social issues despite his bosses asking him not to? Oh, they guy was buried. “Shut the fuck up and play!” How DARE you take a knee during what historically has been…a commercial break. When TV networks- like right leaning Fox and left leaning CBS- have taken a knee for the anthem, too.

And these same douchebags? They were the ones saying about Kaepernick “If I did whatever I wanted to at my job without a care about what my boss said? I’d be so fired!” So, to be clear, you’d shut up and do as your told? Like Lebron is doing?

Yes, I know you’re not worth half a billion dollars as Lebron is. But while there is some courage in having “fuck you” money, most people like to get paid to do things. Can Lebron never work again and be ok? Sure, absolutely. Can you and I? No. So he should live by different rules than you do? Who else is subject to your whims? So, here’s what I’d suggest.

Shut the fuck up. It’s easy to have armchair courage. But fact is, people love to just complain and never fix shit. And I’m not even talking about the racism angle here, which absolutely has something to do with it. I don’t recall anyone complaining when Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas refused to meet then President Barack Obama. Seems people liked the freedom of expression back then that they presently hate with the Golden State Warriors announcing that they’ll do the same.  

In short, is the NBA scared about potentially losing billions of dollars? Absolutely. Is Lebron James a douche? Absolutely. Is Joe Tsai a selfish fucked up opportunistic individual? Absolutely. Would you rock a boat at work about your feelings? Not a fucking chance. So when we complain about Kerr and Lebron, are we hypocritical? Well…you are. I don’t have the suck up gene.

In short, people don’t just want nice things. They want to complain. They want to bury someone and will dance around their reality to do so, like those fucktards that are incels or the skags that are social justice warriors or the jerkoffs who gossip at the office. The NBA and China encouraged people to be douchebags about this specific topic, but if it wasn’t them there would be some other nonsense to blame. So feel however you want about Lebron or China or the NBA. Just don’t pretend that you’re better than any of them. And try to be as good as Daryl Morey.