This week’s N The Zone LIVE guest is Brian Barefield AKA Big Sarge of “Big Sarge Sports” from 92.3 FM in Houston. Palmer talks Houston Rockets and the Western Conference of the NBA with Big Sarge and if the Rockets can win it all this season. Also, they get deep as they talk about colon cancer and how both men and women need to be checked as soon as possible; along with Big Sarge going to Washington DC to speak with Congress about more positive change to fight colon cancer.
Kelsey Nicole Nelson (@therealknelson), award-winning sports radio and television personality, one of the hardest working and bright reporters today, joins Palmer Alexander talking about her interview with LaVar Ball and how that came too. Also, her time working on the sidelines for various teams in the Mid-Atlantic, along with the Big East Network and Georgetown Hoyas women’s basketball team. Plus she talks about her work in the community and that has impacted her career while it’s still on the rise.
You can catch her weekly show, “Listen In with KNN” on Fox Sports 96.9 FM & 1340 AM every Tuesday and Thursday.
Casey, the Toronto Raptors’ longest-serving and winningest head coach, who is enjoying a notably good season. He recently celebrated his 300th win with the franchise and is seen by many as as a top contender for the NBA’s Coach of the Year. But at one point, he was an assistant at University Of Kentucky, where he had played for and captained the National Champion Wildcats under Joe B. Hall. Then a Fed Ex envelope addressed to a recruit split open mysteriously revealing $1,000. Though the University and Casey both denied that they had any role in this incident, the NCAA banned Casey for five years and he would spend his basketball exile in Japan, where he coached for 6 seasons all the while expressing no remorse, and claiming it was a set-up. Coaches all over the country took umbrage and most immediately took the opportunity to remind their base that “we do it the right way,” even as their top players tooled around campus in new luxury autos, including one notable freshman who arrived in a drop-top Ferrari, fully loaded with a sticker price of 89K and not an eyebrow raised.
Maybe it was Chuck Taylor, the great basketball player of the early 1900’s who would, after his playing career ended prior to the existence of the NBA we know today, convince a sneaker company to put his name and a star on the side of their shoes. He would become synonymous with basketball and one of the most recognized names in America as he spent the next forty years criss-cross in America selling sneakers out of his car to teams, while simultaneously running clinics on each campus. What we know today is that Chuck used these clinics to develop relationships with the top high school athletes and coaches. Taylor became the de facto agent for these high school All-Americans, and if your University wasn’t wearing Converse, and running Chuck Taylor clinics annually, you had no shot at the top players. But don’t blame Chuck, I just like get to play the begat game, and Chuck fathered Nike, Adidas, and ultimately the seven figure shoe deal that provides generational wealth for the athlete whose skills and personality are marketable to a global audience of “sneaker heads” hungrily buying these iconic shoes via the Internet, and lining up hours before the shoe is released to drop a paycheck for them.
Pay to play, despite the phony outrage accompanying each new disclosure, isn’t new! We’ve all heard tales of families wooed by street agents when their teenager reaches 6’5″ in 7th grade. You’ve heard the rumors of certain schools who suddenly have a national ranking because of one amazing freshman who changes the arc of a mid-major school while everyone wonders why they chose Anonymous U. Think back to 1969, when a 7-foot phenom out of Power Memorial High School in NYC turned down a million-dollar offer from the ABA to sign the next day with UCLA. Yes, they had a incredible run of NCAA titles and the legendary John Wooden at the helm, but today we know that Sam Gilbert, a wealthy booster, matched the ABA offer to Lew Alcindor, aka Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and had been doing so with other players throughout the course of the “dynasty” shepherded by the “Wizard of Westwood.” Not to single out UCLA, but just to point out the fallacy and fantasy of the “clean” and amazingly successful college program. Everyone is dirty. Believe it or not, they all cut corners, otherwise they wouldn’t recruit a player who they KNOW is only staying for a season, with no pretense of being a student-athlete. The entire team wouldn’t be wearing sneakers provided by one company in exchange for “promotional consideration” and coaches wouldn’t have contracts that are far more lucrative than the university’s president.
Meanwhile, the NBA sits atop this conspiracy. The collusion, calamity, and criminal acts committed along the way all have the same end goal. While we knew that the odds of all the manipulation, shenanigans, and flat out deceit that are perpetuated along the way are paying off at about a million to in, it hasn’t stopped it. In fact, the basketball community has mostly been able to turn their heads away as long they weren’t getting caught themselves. The NBA cannot. Their desperation to maintain control over the entry and distribution of talent into the league has been massaged, manipulated, and re-fashioned as they felt necessary to stay one step ahead of the courts. From the “hardship rule” of the 70’s to Moses Malone and Bill Willoughby coming straight out of high school, to today’s 2-round edition. The National Basketball Association has exhibited a deathly fear of a player challenging the draft’s legality, (highly unlikely, considering it would wend its way through the courts for years and an athlete would be finished by the time he won) and having their process abolished. What other professional cannot choose where they hone, or practice their craft? Engineer? Pharmacist? Sanitation Worker? Nurse? Nope. Their ability as a league to slot their picks and control their location and income is something most fans take for granted, but the league doesn’t. Not for a moment. The NBA owners, watching the cost of contracts skyrocket over the last 3 seasons to ridiculous levels, need desperately to control entry level costs. Which also drives the value of the first ten picks in the draft. It’s a complicated but simple machine that’s lead to where we are today. Kids, parents, coaches and hangers on committing criminal, selfish acts to preserve and further the NBA dream. Can it be fixed? Yup. I’ll do it now. Here atN THE ZONE NETWORKwe play chess, not checkers.
Here’s your solution. Thank me later.
Eliminate the fantasy of the “amateur” NCAA basketball player. The NCAA and it’s member teams are raking billions of dollars off the play of these teenagers. It’s time to compensate them, thus eliminating the possibility and/or necessity of them being corrupted. Here’s the scale. Pretty simply, each athlete on scholarship would receive a monthly stipend based upon the cost of living. THAT plus their academic scholarship would allow for a comfortable collegiate life equal to that of their on-campus academic peers. When they’ve graduated or completed, whatever commitment the player made to the university, they would receive a check equal to the tuition average of every member school on the NCAA times the number of years they spend academically eligible in school. This guarantees that every school’s compensation is equal, eliminating any incentive to go where the payoff is better. This ensures and encourages the kids to work towards a degree, while being able to do so without financial pressure. Simple way to finance. Each member school donates 5% of their basketball revenue to a pool. When a school wins an NCAA tournament game, 10% of their winnings go into the pool. Do the math. You could build a league. No one is going broke in this machine. Time has come to stop pretending and fix what has been broken for years on end. The NCAA also will contribute. The TV contracts are ridiculously lucrative. Thus, we’re going to need this association of dedicated institutions to kick in 5% of the TV money, and a share of the commercials featuring these kids in their promos. That money can buy an island and start a league now and no one has missed a meal. But we’ve gotta compensate these kids above the street money.
Here’s where the true payoff comes. Now that we’ve figured out how to pay the elite, and those who we know are in it only for basketball, let’s address the true student-athlete. Each member school will be required to maintain 4 roster spots for walk-ons. Those kids for whom a scholarship was not offered, who may never play but are more reflective of what the collegiate athletics experience is alleged to be. However, once this kid makes the roster he’s compensated the same as the McDonald’s All American. Graduates and receives the same check from the same financial pool as the kid who’s going first in the draft. Now we’re making progress.
Finally, it’s time for the NBA to right their wrongs. Step in and help fix what’s so horribly broken. Here’s what the league can do. Expand the draft from two rounds to 7. Why? Because we’re going to open a true developmental league. I’m not talking about that “G” League that’s going now. But every NBA team will have a farm team. They can choose their geographical location. But the team must underwrite it 100%. Stop whining. The NBA’s new TV deal is worth 29 billion dollars over 8 seasons. That’s 3.5 billion per team spread over the length of the contract. That’s more than enough to stock, maintain and develop a roster of 12 “minor leaguers” and actually utilize the opportunity to refresh their talent pool from within, and just maybe find and build a late round gem instead of whispering “go to Europe, call me in 2 years, work on …….” Each player will receive 100k per season plus insurance and housing. This will prevent kids from having to schlep around Europe, China, and other foreign outposts to keep their NBA dream alive. The deals will all be uniform. Two years at 100k each, team and player option for year 3. I don’t see how this isn’t successful. Now we’ve provided a landing spot for all the kids dedicated to getting better over the course of their college careers and beyond, lessened the need to be “one and done” and disrupted the narrative that a player who stays four years in college isn’t NBA material. You can graduate from your school, play two years in a “REAL” developmental league and still be just 24 years old and ready to contribute to an NBA franchise. This is progress. Will it eliminate all the problems, kill off the parasites? Probably not.
Here’s the final step.
Keep it real.
Create a real ZERO tolerance policy in NCAA.
It goes like this. If you get caught cheating, your basketball program is closed for three seasons. Period. That’s progress. This is my solution and I believe it is viable. Simple, yes, but that’s just what we need to create an umbrella that protects everyone, establishes an environment of healthy sports at the collegiate level and not a dumpster fill if used up broke 20 year olds wondering “what’s next for my life if the NBA can’t use me.”
Your thoughts are as always welcome, but that’s my theory and I’m all in with it…..
The King of Mt. Airy Phil Allen joins Palmer Alexander to (OF COURSE) talk about the high that he continues to be on now that his Philadelphia Eagles are World Champions. In addition, discussing about the rise of the Sixers and possibly how scary this team could become in the future. This segment is sponsored by Mattress by Appointment Maryland Heights.
KMOV sports director Maurice Drummond joins Palmer to talk about the Cardinals and Spring Training, Twitter, career reflections and Ozzie Smith. This segment is sponsored by Rich Girls, Real Women Incorporated and Mattress by Appointment Maryland Heights.
Bauce joins the show IN-STUDIO with Palmer and the A-Train to give his thoughts on the Raiders leaving Oakland. Back in 2015, he was on the front line pushing hard for the Raiders to stay in Oakland. Bauce didn’t hold back and pulled no punches in this interview. This segment is sponsored by Mattress by Appointment Maryland Heights.
NOTE: The following segment contains language that some will find objectionable. Parental discretion is advised.
We’re back with a fresh new episode of N The Zone. We talk about incorporating new things to the show and gave a recap on what has went on since our hiatus. And then, Palmer delivers another history lesson in “The Monologue.” Find out who and what was said because he said a lot (remember we were out for a while) so give it a listen. Sponsored by Mattress by Appointment Maryland Heights.
NOTE: The following contains language that some find objectionable. Parental discretion is advised…we’re back!
Friend of the show Kellen Goodwin of (the title sponsor of the show) Mattress by Appointment – Maryland Heights joins The A-Train to talk about how he got the business started, the deals to offer and why should you trust him for your next mattress. Plus we sprinkle in some sports conversation as well.
But myself and Palmer Alexander joined Melissa Ferris on their podcast. We touched on a lot in just one hour of time. Plus there was a surmountable amount of laughs spread within the hour. It was a lot of fun.
We touched on Marvin Lewis, Jon Gruden’s chances with the Raiders, medical marijuana in professional sports, professional sports in Las Vegas, NFL Wild Card weekend, the all-SEC national championship, and the NBA. Plus we give a shoutout to co-host Stephanie Washington.
In recent years once the notable NBA free agents sign during the preseason NBA Playoff Power Rankings have been predictable but, this year that is not the case. This off season has arguably been the most entertaining off season yet. From free agent signings to trade demands more top free agents and talents have taken their services elsewhere. With teams gearing up for a championship run the NBA has been shifted like never before. There are many stars in new threads like Paul George in a Oklahoma City Thunder uniform and Gordon Hayward reuniting with his head coach from Butler University Brad Stevens! How did all these changes impact the potential NBA playoff picture? Check out NTheZone’s NBA preseason playoff Power Rankings below!
Golden State Warriors (67-15)
The Golden State Warriors bring back their starting five and add to a bench that many think is also worthy of being a starting five itself. With the addition of Nick “Swaggy P” Young and re-signing of Andre Iguodala the Warriors have been thrusted into repeat talks. Just how much swag can Swaggy P provide?
Oklahoma City Thunder (47-35)
Russell Westbrook. Paul George. Carmelo Anthony. Translation offense, offense, offense! With the signings of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to compliment reigning league MVP Russell Westbrook the Thunder should have no problem scoring with the heavyweights in the Western Conference. Center Steven Adams is also in the paint to provide a defensive upside. Let the Thunder roll!
Houston Rockets (55-27)
Houston finished third in the West last season however that was before the signing of Chris Paul. Now that CP3 has been added to the mix the Rockets should have a better record however they are still in the same place due to the Oklahoma City Thunder’s offseason activity. Although Houston is still third they are ahead of the next team on the list that knocked them out of the playoffs, the San Antonio Spurs.
San Antonio Spurs (61-21)
San Antonio has been quiet this offseason however they did sign veteran forward Rudy Gay. All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker has missed preseason action due to injuries. The Spurs defense should remain strong as they also return skilled veterans Patty Mills and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Minnesota Timberwolves (31-51)
There is some roaring going on in Minnesota! With the acquisition of Jimmy Butler who is reuniting with head coach Tom Thibodeau, and that monster in the paint by the name of Karl-Anthony Towns anything short of the playoffs would be an absolute disappointment for the guys in Minnesota. Andrew Wiggins is also back after signing a 5-year $148 million contract extension. Jamal Crawford and Jeff Teague also add their offensive abilities.
Los Angeles Clippers (51-31)
The Clippers should not decline as much as people might think even with the lost of Chris Paul to Houston. Los Angeles signed Serbian guard Milos Teodosic who has a similar style of play as Paul. They also have valuable replacements in Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams to sweeten the return of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
Denver Nuggets (40-42)
Denver just missed out on the playoffs last year, and with the addition of Paul Millsap, they expect to make it this year. This team has plenty of talent, much of it young in players such as Jamal Murray and Kenneth Faried. Denver’s success will depend on the continued growth of those young players.
Utah Jazz (51-31)
Without Gordon Hayward, the Jazz are going to have a very tough time making a playoff push. That said, players like Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles and Rodney Hood will keep them from being a disaster. Also guard Ricky Rubio is going to have to perform well at the point guard spot.
Cleveland Cavaliers (2016-17 record: 51-31)
Yes, it is true Cleveland lost one of the most dynamic point guards in the NBA in Kyrie Irving but what they received in return is not bad. Isaiah Thomas is projected to be sidelined until January with a hip injury however the Cavs have also signed Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade. Sure Derrick Rose is not what he used to be but he is averaging 11.7 points and 3.7 assists in the preseason. Also Dwyane Wade and LeBron James did win two championships in Miami. With all that being said I haven’t even mentioned other players in Jae Crowder, J.R. Smith, Kevin Love, and Tristan Thompson. Cleveland doesn’t look shabby!
Boston Celtics (53-29)
This offseason Danny Ainge did what Danny Ainge does and shocked us all when he pulled off a trade that brought Kyrie Irving to Boston. The Celtics also acquired Gordon Hayward through free agency and drafted a gem this summer in forward Jayson Tatum. Although the Celtics have offensive firepower their defense seems to have taken a hit given they dealt away defensive studs in Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley. However with Danny Ainge at the helm anything can happen especially during the trade deadline!
Washington Wizards (49-33)
The Wizards largely have the same team that it had last year which is why they are in the same spot. The same team does not necessarily mean the same skill. John Wall and Bradley Beal are entering their fifth season together and they are complemented by players Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre.
Toronto Raptors (51-31)
The Raptors lost contributors Patrick Patterson and DeMarre Carroll however they did re-sign Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. Not to mention DeMar DeRozan is still in town. However last year they got a scare from the Milwaukee Bucks. Have the Raptors hit their ceiling?
Milwaukee Bucks (42-40)
Many people are projecting forward Giannis Antetokounmpo to possibly when the MVP award nevertheless the young man can ball! Antetokounmpo paired with Jabari Parker who averaged 20.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game last season, that may be a recipe for a strong playoff push!
Charlotte Hornets (36-46)
Charlotte missed the playoffs last season but they didn’t have center Dwight Howard or talented guard Malik Monk out of Kentucky. Howard may not play at the level that he once displayed but he did average a double-double last season with the Hawks translating in 13.5 points and 12.7 rebounds per game. The team is also bringing back Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, and Frank Kaminsky who all averaged over 11 points per game.
Miami Heat (41-41)
The Heat re-signed James Johnson and Dion Waiters this offseason which means they have retained the bulk of the squad that went 30-11 during the second half of the season. Center Hassan Whiteside will also return to South Beach in hopes of building on his phenomenal play from last season.
Philadelphia 76ers (28-54)
Young guys better ball! Philadelphia is finally healthy for now. Former lottery picks Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid missed significant time last season due to injuries, but they are healthy now and they are directed by the number one pick of the 2017 NBA draft Markelle Fultz. The Sixers have also added a veteran presence in J.J. Redick. Can the 76ers make a legitimate playoff case?
The 2017 NBA off-season has been one to remember. Seemingly no other free agency period in the NBA as had more notable trades, signings, or trade demands than this one. The NBA’s recent off-season drama has been at the forefront of sports news, and feels like a scripted spin-off of Basketball Wives. Recent dysfunction around the NBA has many people comparing it to reality TV and tabloid headlines. In an evolving league a new era has begun in which stars such as Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson can play with each other. Many people refer to this era as the super team era.
With a new way of forming teams in the NBA there has been an abundance of player signings and trades that has captured the attention of NBA fans everywhere. From Chris Paul teaming up with James Harden, Paul George heading to Oklahoma City, and Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving demanding trades from their arguably dysfunctional front offices, it has been hard to miss any breaking news from the league.
Since LeBron James joined the Miami Heat in 2010 nearly every valuable talent in the NBA has tried to team up with another in hopes of winning a championship. Although there has been a lot of distractions the sole purpose is for teams to get better and players to have a better chance at hoisting a title. Despite the drama around the NBA this is undoubtedly the most anticipated season yet. Below is a list of teams graded on who conquered the crazy offseason best. Feel free to share your thoughts on any team in the NBA, and how you feel about their offseason!
Golden State Warriors: A+
The Warriors did what seemed to be the impossible this offseason and found ways to get better. They resigned core players Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant to multi-year deals while also managing to deepen their bench with the additions of scorer Nick Young and defensive rookie Jordan Bell from Oregon. Not to mention the Dubs still have Draymond Green, Shaun Livingston and Zaza Pachulia.
Boston Celtics: A
Danny Ainge strikes again! Recently the Celtics traded Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and a second round pick in the 2020 NBA draft in exchange for Kyrie Irving. Seems like they virtually got Irving for free right? Boston also signed forward Gordon Hayward in free agency adding to Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum. Be on the lookout for the guys in green!
Houston Rockets: A-
MVP runner-up James Harden is still in town and joining him in the backcourt is Chris Paul. The Rockets are actively trying to add forward Carmelo Anthony to the mix. Plus Houston landed veteran forward P.J. Tucker.
Philadelphia 76ers: A-
Trust. The. Process. Markelle Fultz, Joel Embiid, and Ben Simmons, it is absolutely no secret that these young guys are the future of the franchise. Can Fultz lead them to a winning record and the playoffs?
Minnesota Timberwolves: B+
The Timberwolves are on the rise. Minnesota traded for Jimmy Butler and signed veteran guard Jeff Teague to a young upcoming lineup. Jamal Crawford and Taj Gibson are also key pieces for the T-Wolves bench with Karl-Anthony Towns, and Andrew Wiggins rounding out the core. Does anyone foresee the playoffs?
Oklahoma City Thunder: B+
Now, you might be shocked to see “B+” as the grade for the Thunder’s offseason activity but, read the reasons why. Sure the Thunder acquired Paul George to team up with league MVP Russell Westbrook but answer the next question truthfully. Will they really be that much better? The post play for the Thunder is still weak to be a true contender in the Western Conference. Nevertheless their backcourt will be an offensive powerhouse!
Washington Wizards: C+
Wizards signed guard John Wall for the long haul with a four-year $170 million extension. Otto Porter also signed a four-year $106.5 million deal with Washington. Outside of those two signings the Wizards added Jodie Meeks and Tim Frazier.
Los Angeles Clippers: D-
Chris Paul is gone, must I go on? JJ Redick is gone. On the plus side Blake Griffin signed a five-year $173 million deal. Granted the Clippers added Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams but, that is not enough to do any damage in the talent filled Western Conference.
New York Knicks: F
Perhaps the Knicks may be the most dysfunctional team in the NBA. Sure Phil Jackson is finally out the door but owner James Dolan has seriously considered trading the only reliable talent they have in Kristaps Porzingis! The same James Dolan who thought signing Tim Hardaway Jr. to a four-year $71 million contract was a good idea.