The Death of the Big Baller Brand?

It’s been a wild few days months for the Ball family. News broke the other day that trusted family friend and partial owner of the infamous Big Baller Brand Alan Foster allegedly stole $1.5 million dollars from Lakers’ Lonzo Ball’s business and personal accounts.

According to the ESPN article I read about this a few days ago, Lonzo’s business manager first noticed that the money was missing back in October when he was trying to do Ball’s taxes and Lonzo immediately reached out to his father who was overseas with his brothers at the time since the Foster is a trusted family friend. Which I understand because Big Papa is friends with Foster and Lonzo is in the middle of the Laker’s season Pops should’ve taken the time to look at what Lonzo was saying to him and talk to his friend. But of course, Big Papa was too busy overseas with Lonzo’s brothers to really look at everything that was happening. Which is why this news is just coming out now.

It should also be noted that Foster has a criminal history. Back in 2002, Foster was sentenced to more than seven years in prison having plead guilty to one count of mail fraud and two counts of money laundering. Foster met the Ball family in 2010 when his son was playing ball with Lonzo. Foster was also the driving force behind the creation of BBB even owning 16.3% of the company (which my friends is how he had access to the business and personal accounts).

Since I’m highly cynical, I don’t care if someone has been close with my family for years if I hit the jackpot like Lonzo did I’m ensuring that every single person that has contact with my money doesn’t have a criminal history that involves defrauding people out of money. Because Lonzo worked hard to get drafted and works hard on the court to earn his paycheck it’s important to make sure that shady people aren’t reaping the benefits of his hard work but this is just one of those lessons Lonzo had to learn the hard way.

So how does all of this play into the death of the F rated BBB? After this news broke rumblings of the Lakers wanting Lonzo to change his game shoes started showing up. It seems as if the Lakers want to see if maybe it was the BBB shoes Lonzo wears that is contributing to his nagging ankle injury that has kept him out of multiple games in recent seasons. Add that into the fact that the Better Business Bureau has given the BBB company an F rating because over 180 complaints about the company. All of this led Lonzo to releasing a statement that his time with the brand are over.

So now that Lonzo, the only big name attached to the brand, has walked away and given that Foster owns part of the company it seems as if the Big Baller Brand has seen it’s final days. Yes completely ridding his life of the brand will take some time seeing as Lonzo owns over 50% of the company, it’s clear from his social media that he wants nothing to do with the brand (and seems to be letting Nike know he’s open for business). It was an interesting ride while it lasted but it’s time to bid farewell to the Big Baller Brand.

Now if only Lonzo could find out where the $1.5 million dollars ended up.

Did Tom Izzo Go Too Far?

In the opening day of March Madness Michigan State’s Head Coach Tom Izzo screamed at Aaron Henry during the team’s opening game against 15 ranked Bradley University. The berating got so bad Izzo had to be pushed back from Henry. Did Izzo go too far with Henry or was it just behavior to be expected from a coach during college basketball’s most stressful time?

Following the team’s 76-65 victory, Izzo defended his actions saying that Henry wasn’t doing his job and therefore deserved the verbal bashing. Izzo used the analogy that if the head of a newspaper wasn’t doing their job they would be held accountable which really doesn’t fit this situation because the head of a newspaper gets PAID to do their job while college basketball players do not receive a salary for their work on the court. Now that being said, I’m all for coaches calling out players when they’re not playing to their utmost capabilities, BUT it crosses the line when said coach has to be physically pushed back from the player.

There’s better ways to light a fire under a player not performing well but having to be physically pushed back from a player isn’t the way. I don’t care who the coach is the minute you get into a player’s face screaming at him you’re done. You’ve completely lost my respect because that’s just being a bully because of your position.

And I know that there will be a camp of people that point out that after the game Henry said that Izzo’s behavior Thursday was nothing new and that the verbal attack served it’s purpose since the team went on to win. But I would argue back that Henry’s response makes this even worse because it shows that this is typical behavior so players have to get used to it and really what person should ever have to get used to be screamed at by their boss? And to the point that it helped the team win, I don’t think there’s a direct correlation between Izzo being an abusive bully and the team finally finding their rhythm. Now had Henry had a breakout half after that moment then I’d say sure the argument holds some water, but Henry only had 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 8 points during his 29 minutes of play.

I know that the March Madness Tournament is a stressful time for every team involved and if this was a one-time occurrence I would give Izzo a pass. Stress makes us do some crazy things sometimes, but Henry himself says that this behavior is typical from their head coach. Izzo absolutely went too far and it’s sad to see this moment completely overshadowing the team’s victory because this game was one of the best games of the opening day.

Here’s hoping that we don’t have a repeat of this moment during tomorrow’s action against Minnesota, but I’m not holding my breath.

Guess Who’s Back?

 

Johnny Manziel has found his way back into professional football in the US signing with the Alliance of American Football League Memphis Express. This news comes mere weeks after Manziel was essentially kicked out of the Canadian Football League.

I’m not surprised that Manziel is back in the US playing professional football because it was only a matter of time. Plus the Memphis Express need a quarterback after losing Zach Mettenberger to injury the same day Manziel signed with the team.

Manziel has a well documented history of bad behavior and wasting opportunities. He was released from the CFL weeks ago for what was described as violations to the agreement he made to get to play in the CFL. But I’m willingly to give him another chance because this time he’s being open about his past. He’s opened up about his issues with alcohol and depression so I think that maybe that means he’s serious about this fresh start and making the most of it.

I believe that third team will be the charm because Manziel’s new head coach is former Chicago Bears great Mike Singletary. Singletary is a no nonsense guy who will keep his qb focused and could help him keep his eye the prize. If Manziel is going to find his way back into the National Football League he’s going to have to take this opportunity seriously, because if he screws this up there isn’t another option to play professional football.

No matter what happens, Johnny Manziel is back to playing professional football in the US and I know that fans will tune in to see just how well the former 2014 22nd Pick in hte NFL Draft performs.

 

 

Russell Westbrook Threatens Jazz Fan

Last night a video went viral showing Oklahoma City Thunder Point Guard Russell Westbrook threatening a fan.

https://twitter.com/SInow/status/1105301547712479232

Before rushing to judgment over Westbrook’s comments it’s important to take a look at the whole situation. I say that because I HIGHLY doubt that Westbrook just went off, the fan obviously said something to trigger such a strong reaction. I saw rumors on social that said that Westbrook will most likely suffer a suspension for his harsh words, but what about the fan?

If the NBA is going to punish Westbrook for his outburst (rightfully so), then the Utah Jazz need to punish the fan. It’s not fair for fans to get to say whatever they want to the players and the players just have to take it.

Now I’m all for trash talking opposing players, but like only around their play on the court. Racially motivated comments, wives, girlfriends, family, or anything off the court is completely off limits because really what does that have to do with basketball? Absolutely nothing. So if a fan is going to bring in one of those off limits topics in their trash talking the fan should be punished as well because really there is no room for that in the league.

(Stepping off my soap box)

Now back to the Westbrook incident, thanks to the glorious internet people were able to learn more about the fan involved in the incident which helps in getting both sides of the story. Back in the day Westbrook would’ve just been labeled a problem/bully for the incident, but now people were able to learn more about the fan which only helps fans understand why Westbrook was so harsh with said fan. So if the fan has a history of saying things it wouldn’t be too far out of the realm that what Westbrook said happened did actually happen.

So what happens now? Well obviously the NBA will suspend Westbrook for the outburst. But the league also needs to take a hard look at how they are going to protect players, so often they side with the fans (because they hold the $$ cards) and leave the players out to dry. Which isn’t fair because the NBA wouldn’t have the fans without stars like Westbrook to get fans into the seats.

So suspend Westbrook all you want, but until the league starts holding fans accountable for their actions in the game this kinda nonsense is going to keep happening.

Let’s Talk about this #DearJohn Video

By now if you’ve been on Twitter you’ve probably seen a clip of a video produced by News 12 entitled Dear John ahead of former New York Islanders Captain John Tavares leaving the team to join the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In the video entitled #DearJohn fans attack Tavares for leaving the Isles to join his childhood team the Maple Leafs. You can check out the full video here: http://longisland.news12.com/story/40011194/dear-john

Before I get into my reaction to the video, I want to state that I understand Islanders fans feeling like John Tavares left the team and the fans high and dry, I do. But that being said this video missed the mark so hard and honestly comes off more as a really bad parody than anything I could ever take seriously.

But where’s the video calling out the organization that let Tavares walk away? Why aren’t fans fed up with the general manager who failed to put together a winning team that would entice Tavares to stay? There’s also the issue of the organization deciding to move the team out of Long Island to play in the Barclay Center, but I digress.

It’s almost like if you were working in an organization where you were expected to lead a group of people and succeed year in and year out and constantly fell short because you weren’t given the right resources to succeed would you stay in that organization? Or would you find an organization that would give you the right resources to succeed while also paying you for the experience you bring with you?

At the end of the day hockey players want to win the Stanley Cup and while it would be great for them to reach that success with the team that drafted them. The reality of that happening are slim so when guys have the opportunity to find the best option for them to actually reach the end goal, they’re going to take it and they know that fans will get hurt but that’s just part of the game.

Hopefully Tavares doesn’t get too hostile of a welcome when he takes the ice in Long Island tonight but after watching #DearJohn I think that’s a fools hope.

2019 NHL Trade Deadline Recap

The National Hockey League trade deadline is always a stressful time. The anxiety starts in the week leading up to the day where fans (and players) are on high alert to who from their team is on the move. This year’s trade deadline was made even more exciting because of the tight race to the playoffs in the West where the wildcard pairings seem to change after every game.

The surprises started with the Minnesota Wild trading forward Charlie Coyle for Boston Bruins Ryan Donato and a 2019 conditional fifth-round pick. Carl Hagelin found his way back into the Metro division when the Los Angeles Kings traded him to the Washington Capitals for a 2019 third-round pick and 2020 conditional sixth-round pick.

Senators were up next trading center Matt Duchene and defenseman Julius Bergman to the Blue Jackets for forwards Vitaly Abramov, Jonathan Davidsson and a 2019 or 2020 first-round pick on Friday. The following day the Senators yet again engaged with the Blue Jackets trading forward Ryan Dzingel for Jackets forward Anthony Duclair, a 2020 second-round pick, and 2021 second-round pick. The Senators would end the day by sending Matt Stone (the sought after guy of the 2019 deadline) to the Vegas Golden Knights (thus crowning the Knights the 2019 trade deadline winners). The moves also signaled to fans that the rebuild is official and that they need to have patience.

The New York Rangers shocked fans when they dealt Mats Zuccarello to the Dallas Stars and Zuc suffered a broken arm on Sunday in his first game in the Stars sweater and will be out for a few weeks. So while the move was exciting in the beginning, now it’s bittersweet because of the broken arm and subsequent recovery time. (I should also mention that Jamie Benn also left the game with an upper-body injury which makes it even worse).

Just when Philadelphia Flyers fans thought they were going to get through the trade deadline without losing any of their players, the Flyers pulled off a last second trade sending Wayne Simmonds to the Nashville Predators in exchange for forward Ryan Hartman and a conditional 2020 fourth-round pick.

Prior to the Stadium Series, the Penguins were probably set with their previous roster moves. But then under the lights at Lincoln Financial the Pens lost their top defensive pairing, Brian Dumolin to a concussion (following a highly questionable hit from Simmonds) and Kris Letang suffered an upper body injury mere seconds later taking him out of the game. So losing Dumoulin and Letang coupled with already not having Olli Matta, the Pens were on the hunt for defensive guys. Now if you listen to hockey people on Twitter the two guys the Penguins traded for, Erik Gudbranson of the Vancouver Canucks and Chris Wideman of the Florida Panthers, were highly suspect moves and left them shaking their heads at why the Pens would go after these two. But the Pens are desperate to regain their playoff spot and while their down their top d-men they need to ensure that they have some sort of chance at a playoff run.

So there you have a highlight at the bigger moves of the day, I’d love to hear what grade you would give these teams on their trade moves and if as a fan you’re more confident about your team’s chances of making deep playoff runs with their newest acquisitions.

Why does Done Cherry Hate the Canes Storm Surge?

It’s October 2018 and following a 8-5 victory over the New York Rangers, the Carolina Hurricanes took the typical post-game stick salute to a new level and that was just the beginning. Thankfully the Canes have perfected what is now affectionately called the storm surge doing a game of duck, duck, goose and my favorite doing a team limbo line the other night.

So now you’re probably asking what problem could there possibly be with the Canes post-win celebration and the answer is absolutely nothing. It’s a new twist on the usual stick salute that makes fans want to stick around to the end of the game to see what the Canes would possibly have cooked up for their next celebration.

So why do hockey analysts hate this fun post-game celebration? Because they hate having teams having fun and expressing happiness at winning a hockey game (which they’re paid millions of dollars to do). It’s mind boggling to hear analysts complaining about something that happens after the game is over and most of the time isn’t thought about until that moment. But Don Cherry, in Don Cherry fashion not to take that criticism to a whole other level Saturday night when he called the Canes a “Bunch of Jerks”.

I know it’s hard to take him seriously when he’s wearing the most outrageous, hideous Don Cherry jacket ever but let’s focus on the stupidity coming out of his mouth.  In the video, which you can see above, Cherry says that the Canes are jerks for actually expressing joy and making it fun for their fans, because how dare they.

After Cherry’s comments went viral Saturday night, I sat in anticipation to see how the Canes would respond to being called a bunch of jerks for having fun and expressing joy and they did not disappoint. Just a mere four hours after Cherry’s comments, the Canes posted on twitter a hilarious Simpsons reference with the angry old man yelling.

But they were done. They took it a step further (after fans asked them to create a shirt about the incident) and created a Bunch of Jerks t-shirts that fans (and loyal storm surge supporters like me) can buy. https://carolinaproshop.com/products/copy-of-canes-t-shirt?variant=22196196343856

The Canes are trailing the Montreal Canadians by one point in the standings and I’m hoping that if they manage to get a playoff spot they come up with a big storm surge following their playoff game to show Cherry that their opinions don’t matter to the players as long as their fans are having fun and enjoying the game experience they paid lots of money for.

So basically, I’m hoping that the storm surge never stops

 

Antonio Brown Saga is Over

 

After what feels like a lifetime, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has finally ended the speculation and announced (via Instagram) that he’s done with the Steelers and ready to move on to another team.

Brown ended his Steelers’ career having played in 130 games (of those he started 103), 837 receptions, 11,207 total receiving yards, 119 rushing yards, and 74 touchdowns.

So now that the speculation of whether AB is staying in Pittsburgh, the focus now shifts to where will he land? Obviously AB is only going to consider the considered serious Super Bowl contenders, right? So which team would actually have the salary cap room to give AB what he wants/thinks he deserves?

John Breech wrote an article for CBS Sports outlining the Top 10 teams that would be the best fit for a player of AB’s caliber and the two that really stuck out to me were the Packers and the Colts. Now, full disclosure I’m a Colts fan so of course this piqued my interest. But besides wanting to give my team the best chance of a solid receiver, I’m interested in the thought that AB would actually play well under Reich’s playing style and of course the Colts have the cap space to give AB a good chuck of money.

The Green Bay Packers also make sense because I think that AB would be exactly the kind of weapon that Aaron Rodgers has been missing since the Packers parted ways with Jordie Nelson. The Packers also have some draft picks that might entice the Steelers to trade AB over to them. Plus there’s also the added bonus of getting AB out of the AFC (though they run the risk of possibly facing the Pack in the playoffs/SB so it’s a toss up). But if the Packers were able to get AB, there would be no excuses if Rodgers has a bad year so really Rodgers is probably beating down the doors of GB management to see what he has to do to get AB.

So while the saga is over with the Steelers and AB, now we can launch the ABTrade watch and see where AB takes his business since ya know AB is open for business (I’m sorry I couldn’t resist ending with a throwback to the cryptic tweet that stirred up this whole saga).

 

Kareem Hunt is Back in the NFL

Late Monday afternoon the Cleveland Browns announced that they had signed former Kansas City Chief’s running back Kareem Hunt. Now the move makes sense solely because the Browns’ general manager John Dorsey was the same guy that drafted Hunt while he was with the Chiefs, so there’s a relationship there.

I have a problem with Hunt getting a second chance in the league simply because he decided that he was allowed to put his hands on a woman and continued to play. There is no reason why any football player (no matter their talent) should be allowed to put their hands on anyone and continue to play and get paid. It’s that simple.

Now the league needs to put the Browns on notice and make sure that they follow through with everything they said they were planning on doing Monday when announcing Hunt’s signing with the team. It will start with the league suspending Hunt for longer than the minimum six games under the guidelines for domestic violence mainly because they have the video evidence of Hunt’s actions. By giving him a harsh suspension they might be able to send the message that they will not take anything like this lightly and hopefully Hunt will never do anything like this again.

Understandably this move has drawn criticism from women’s groups and Colin Kaepernick supporters because it shows yet again that the NFL teams care more about winning and making money. It also again affirms the message that the NFL players who get caught hurting women are worth more than Colin Kaepernick who simply knelt to bring awareness to social injustice.

Simply put Kareem Hunt was given a second chance because the league knew they could spin it and once Hunt takes the field and starts performing well and helping the Browns win games all will be forgiven and forgotten because that’s just how it works. I hate that it works like that but until guys like Hunt stop getting second chances that’s just how the cookie crumbles.

 

Making Sense of Antonio Brown’s Cryptic Tweet

Remember a few weeks back when I tried to make sense of the drama between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Antonio Brown and I only ended up making it messier and confusing myself more? Well thanks to AB himself, the situation has become A LOT clearer with one cryptic tweet.

Early Thursday morning AB sent out the following tweet that seemed to send the media into a tizzy trying to figure out what the Steelers’ Wide Receiver could possibly be trying to say:

But really it’s simple (at least in my humble opinion). AB is moving on from the Steelers. I think there is credence to the rumors that AB was unhappy with how JuJu Smith-Schuester stole his spotlight this season.  He wants to go to a team where he’s going to be the star of the offense and won’t have to share the spotlight like he does with Smith-Shuester this past season.

While I’m not 100% sure what demand there is for AB among the other teams, I have no doubts that if he does in fact open his bidding to other teams he’ll have his pick of some top teams. There’s no way that any one of the teams that fell just short of the playoffs/had first round playoff exits wouldn’t at least throw their hat in the ring to land the WR. But I do have to wonder if the events that transpired in the last couple of weeks of the season will hurt his chances of going to be contender team.

Now playing both sides of the argument with AB’s tweet is that he could also be giving the Steelers’ an ultimatum because when he signed his contract extension for $68 million in 2017 he tweeted “Business in Booming. Given how AB’s contract is structured, it might be in the best interest of the Steelers to keep him, but I stand by my assessment that AB is done with Pittsburgh and ready to secure his bag as the kids say these days.

We’ll see what happens in the following weeks but I feel confident in stating that AB has officially launched #ABTradeWatch.