2022 NBA All Star starts today

The Celebrity Game opens this weekend’s All Star Game, followed by the Rising Stars Game.

The Celebrity lineup features the Mayor of Cleveland, Justin Bibb, among others, understandably so since he is the main host. The lineup includes various stars from different spheres. It will be Team Walton versus Team Nique. Sure sounds like it will definitely be a hilarious exciting event notwithstanding who wins.

The Rising Stars Game (photos courtesy of NBA) features twelve Rookies, twelve sophomores (2nd-year NBA’ers), and four players from the G League. There will be other activities in-between the games.

Watch it on ESPN or your local television channels.

Ben Simmons finally found a new home

The unfortunate saga surrounding Ben Simmons (BS) finally ended when he found a new home with the Brooklyn Nets in a megadeal that included James Harden.

The former Philadelphia Sixers (PS) guard has been in the foray of various media attacks since the last NBA Season allegedly because he failed to shoot (or dunk) a net against the Atlanta Hawks during the 2020-21 season’s playoff, thus ending the chances of his Team, Philadelphia Sixers, vying for the Championship.

True or false? Could BS’s shot had secured the win for PS? I believe that it’s easier said than done.

Personally speaking, I felt bad for the hand that was dealt the 25-year old, 6’11 Australian native. From the outside looking on and in, the whole incident appeared like a hostile takeover-pushout of sorts. With Doc Rivers as head coach, it seemed something had to be conjured against the Australian basketballer in order to edge him out and have his (Doc Rivers) son-in-law (Seth Curry) take over. I suppose nepotism is allowed in the NBA.

Yes, Seth Curry is the younger brother of Golden State Warriors’ affable Star Steph Curry. We all love Steph. I love Steph. It’s easy to love Steph. And because of Steph, I suppose that his family is accorded the same love. Because of Steph love, my conclusion was that many quarters who ought to speak truth to power regarding Ben Simmons-Sixers’ issue, failed to.

Simmons wanted to be traded. He requested it in August during preseason but Sixers won’t oblige. I heard some quarters stated that BS is under contract and must abide by the letters. However, does the Team realize that you can take a horse to the river, but you can’t force it to gobble down the water. If BS, for whatever reason wants out, it is pointless trying to force him to stay. Forcing him to continue to play is tantamount to controlling him. Unfortunately, you don’t get the best out of control. And you thought he did some bad last season, forcing him to stay would mean more bad, and Sixers would not have been near the Season’s record they now have.

Why wouldn’t Sixers trade him?

The question still baffles me. Why wouldn’t the Team trade Simmons? Several reasons were read in the media, among them were:

  1. He’s being paid so much that no other Team wants to pick up the tab because of Team salary caps; so he’s stuck
  2. He needs to grow up?!
  3. He needs to fulfill his contract
  4. Blah. Blah. Blah.

All the reasons were merely excuses to buy time. The one that floored me the most was his teammate (now former) and co-All Star counterpart, Joel Embiid’s negative rantings and comments to the print and social media which did not bode well for good sportsmanship.

Well, it was a loooooooong four (or six) months for all concerned. Hopefully, all sides are happy with the outcome. BS headed to Brooklyn and, guess what, with Seth Curry. With Seth Curry now out of Philly, I hope Sixers will still continue their winning streak. If today’s game with Celtics is a pointer of the Season’s second half for Sixers, Embiid better get ready to eat up all his words and BS will have the last laugh.

Sorry if I sounded like an instigator, but let’s keep it real.

Lessons learned from the BS-Sixers Issue

  1. People will unnecessarily take sides without knowing the full details of all concerned
  2. Never say anything you’d regret later or be uncomfortable looking the other person in the eye.
  3. Don’t air your dirty laundries in the public. Once the laundry dries up, the public still remembers
  4. When spirituality (or mentality) is involved, it never makes sense.
  5. Always give people the benefit of doubt whether you like, or agree with, them or not
  6. Always show compassion (empathy) when another is going through; it might be your turn next - sure you’ll want someone to understand you and be on your side.
  7. Never be too quick to condemn another.

May God continue to help us be quick to love and slow to judge another.

The boy, Steph, is holy fiery!

After two Season games, Steph Curry is on a holy fiery roll ready to carry the Golden State Warriors (GSW) on his back all the way to the 2021-22 NBA Championship.

Thursday’s Game Two, against the Los Angeles Clippers (LAC), saw Steph being his usual self and more, catching the attention of fellow league players’ tweets. LeBron James (LBJ) of the LA Lakers tweeted that “Steph, you’re sick man,” and Dame Lillard (DL), Portland Trailblazers, tweeted that “Steph goin for 75 tonight;” alluding to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary.

The Golden State Warriors also celebrates 75th Anniversary being one of the initial NBA teams still around and going strong. Initially known as the Philadelphia Warriors from 1946 to 1962, before changing name to San Francisco Warriors from 1962 to 1971. The new name of Golden State Warriors began in 1971.

Steph sure caught the Lakers attention on Opening Night which was an away game at the Lakers’ home on Tuesday. He recorded a triple-double. He did it again on Warriors home Opening Night against the Clippers with twenty-five points in the first quarter. Well, he didn’t make seventy-five points as alluded by DL. But with a double-double and a total forty-five points recorded, Steph announced that the Dubs were back. He sure makes basketball seem so easy and puts the fun into the game, artistically demonstrating moves on the court that would make Picasso jealous.
Here’s hoping his fire don’t die but blows hotter throughout the Season. Go Curry!

He’s come a long way

Curry revolutionized the three-pointers, together with teammate Klay Thompson who unfortunately has still not been released to return (since 2019). Both earned themselves the nickname The Splash Brothers as a result. They were the pioneers of the game-changing three pointers before other NBA teams followed. They both had made their mark and the other players had to catch up.

For, Steph, it’s sure in the genes as his dad, Dell Curry was a shooter during his time, too. But his son, Steph, has broken his shooting record.

Steph Curry was also included as one of 75 Greatest Players in NBA History. Congrats, Steph.

From a skinny boy who was once rejected by top college recruits to now a hoop force to be reckoned with, the boy Steph has come full circle. Sounds like another de ja vu, right? You know who – Michael Jordan (MJ) was also once rejected.

Both Steph and MJ, new and old respectively, demonstrate that being rejected can propel one to greater heights rather than allowing it to destroy one by internalizing pain, shame, and guilt from the naysayers who determine to place a ceiling over one’s destiny. What do you say, people?

Join me in wishing Steph Curry more fires to his hands and feet.

Loving Basketball: International Players in the NBA and Opening Night Tidbits

The Season’s Opening Night was not disappointing. Both games played tonight were spectacular as expected with Milwaukee Bucks defending its championship against “short-handed” Brooklyn Nets (aka Kyrie Irving saga) and my fave Team, Golden States Warriors, routing the Los Angeles (LA) Lakers. The Dubs are surely back and in the championship race this Season. I hope tonight’s play reflects Season’s expectations which will only be improved upon and lead to playoff and eventual Finals. Knocking on woods! 🙏🏾

Credits: Bucks / NBA

BucksChampionship Rings

And, yes, the Bucks were presented with their championship rings (if you missed it, watch it here) prior to the start of game amid a full fan-packed arena. Well deserved. I’m happy for the Bucks players and management,

Will Bucks shoot for a back-to-back championship? We’ll see what the 2021-22 Season holds.

NBA’s International Players

Well, on Opening Night, the National Basketball Association (NBA) released that there are “109 international players from 39 countries on roster for its landmark 75th Anniversary Season, including a record number of players from Canada (eighteen), Germany (seven) and the Bahamas (three), and a record-tying number of players from Nigeria (five). The Toronto Raptors lead the league with a record-tying 10 international players from a record nine countries.”

The number of NBA international players went up by 2 compared to last season’s of 107 from 41 countries of which fourteen (14) were Africans.

On Opening Night, the Season’s roster comprised of 500 players. I identified 44 names of African descent. Twenty-seven (27) were Nigerians contrary to the Association’s stated number of only five (5). This might not be unconnected with the players being second or third generation Nigerians born offshore and/or having dual citizenships but choosing only to identify with the other country over Nigeria. Nigeria accepts dual nationality but some countries don’t.

Below is a list of the identified African NBA players, the country, the year they were drafted, and the Team:

  1. Gorgui Dieng, Senegal, 2013 - Atlanta Hawks
  2. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Congo & France, 2016 - Atlanta Hawks
  3. Onyeka Okongwu, Nigeria, 2020 - Atlanta Hawks
  4. Wes Iwundu, Nigeria, 2017 - Charlotte Hornets
  5. Ayo Dosunmu, Nigeria, 2021 Rookie – Chicago Bulls
  6. Daniel Oturu, Nigeria, 2020 – Chicago Bulls
  7. Tacko Fall, Senegal, 2019 – Cleveland Cavaliers
  8. Isaac Okoro, Nigeria, 2020 – Cleveland Cavaliers
  9. Frank Ntilikina, Rwanda-France, 2017 – Dallas Mavericks
  10. Eugene Omoruyi, Nigeria, Rookie – Dallas Mavericks
  11. Bol Bol, Sudan, 2019 – Denver Nuggets
  12. Zeke Nnaji, Nigeria, 2020 – Denver Nuggets
  13. Hamidou Diallo, Guinea, 2018 – Detroit Pistons
  14. Andre Iguodala, Nigeria, 2004 – Golden State Warriors
  15. Jonathan Kuminga, Congo, 2021 – Golden State Warriors
  16. Usman Garuba, Nigeria-Spain, 2021 – Houston Rockets
  17. David Nwaba, Nigeria, 2016 – Houston Rockets
  18. Nicolas Batum, Cameroon-France, 2008 – Los Angeles (LA) Clippers
  19. Serge Ibaka, Congo, 2008 – Los Angeles (LA) Clippers
  20. Sekou Doumbouya, Guinea-France, 2019 – Los Angeles (LA) Lakers
  21. Bam Adebato, Nigeria, 2017 – Miami Heat
  22. KZ Okpala, Nigeria, 2019 – Miami Heat
  23. Victor Oladipo, Nigeria, 2013 – Miami Heat
  24. Gabe Vincent, Nigeria, undrafted 2 years – Miami Heat
  25. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greece-Nigeria, 2013 – Milwaukee Bucks
  26. Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Greece-Nigeria, 2014 – Milwaukee Bucks
  27. Jordan Nwora, Nigeria, 2020 – Milwaukee Bucks
  28. Semi Ojeleye, Nigeria, 2017 – Milwaukee Bucks
  29. Josh Okogie, Nigeria, 2018 – Minnesota Timberwolves
  30. Mamadi Diakite, Guinea, 2020 undrafted – Oklahoma City Thunder
  31. Mohammed (Mo) Bamba, Ivory Coast, 2018 – Orlando Magic
  32. Chuma Okeke, Nigeria, 2019 – Orlando Magic
  33. Charles Bassey, Nigeria, 2021 – Philadelphia Sixers
  34. Joel Embiid, Cameroon, 2014 – Philadelphia Sixers
  35. Abdel Nader, Egypt, 2016 – Phoenix Suns
  36. Chimezie Metu, Nigeria, 2018 – Sacramento Kings
  37. Al-Farouq Aminu, Nigeria, 2010 – San Antonio Spurs
  38. Precious Achiuwa, Nigeria, 2020 – Toronto Raptors
  39. OG Anunoby, Nigeria, 2017 – Toronto Raptors
  40. Isaac Bonga, Congo, 2018 – Toronto Raptors
  41. Pascal Siakam, Cameroon, 2016 – Toronto Raptors
  42. Udoka Azubuike, Nigeria, 2020 – Utah Jazz
  43. Miye Oni, Nigeria, 2019 – Utah Jazz
  44. Joel Ayayi, Benin-France, undrafted 2020 – Washington Wizards

Race composition continues to be dynamic and has changed the trajectory of professional sports, including the NBA. Though Black-Americans first entered the league in 1950, almost fifteen years after its inception, the first African-born NBA player was Hakeem Olajuwon from Nigeria who was drafted in 1984.

NBA, like other professional sports and industry, have indeed come a long way as regards inclusion and diversity. We hope the trend continues to be upward till it indeed becomes a melting pot.

Loving Basketball: 2021-22 NBA Season starts today

Woohoo. I’m excited that the NBA 2021-22 Season begins tonight. Each Team will be playing a total of eighty-two (82) games, compared to seventy-two (72) played last season.

There was a Preseason, which was a two-week warm-up, feeler, tester of sorts, for players as several Teams were revamped with new players added and exiting. The Preseason games showcased each Team’s new portfolio of players though not all “old” and veteran players played during the Preseason. Many rested and watched the younger players flex on the courts for Team inclusion and time.

A handful of Teams are totally revamped while few had minor changes. Should be exciting watching the unifying dynamics of the new with the old players.

First Game Night will feature two games that supposedly mirrors the Conferences Finals:

  1. Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks @ 7:30 p.m. ET
  2. Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers @ 10:00 p.m. ET.

Click here to see the full Season’s schedule, I hope you will watch some or all of the games with utmost cheer and care. Live games can be watched on your local sports channels or the NBA Station. Highlights, and sometimes full games, can also be seen on YouTube or Hulu.

To an exciting and fun Season while wishing all players the very best with minimal or no fatigue or injuries.

Loving Basketball: 2021-22 Season begins soon

2020-21 Recap

What a spectacular ending, in July, to the 2020-21 Basketball Season that catapulted the underdog Milwaukee Bucks (MB) as that season’s Champions. I was elated for several reasons; one particularly of which I felt that Giannis Antetokounmpo (GA), who led the Team, had been disrespected and routed by all; the media, fans, and other players, for shenanigans and silly various reasons in my opinion. The likes of disrespect and taunting that would not have been thrown at LeBron James (LBJ or Kevin Durant (KD) or Steph Curry (SC), or any of their caliber without some rebukes. Then again, it could have been a strategy (which obviously backfired) to intimidate GA, the Greek Freak. But, thank goodness, all those negative vibes didn’t sway him to withdraw. Yes, it did slightly affect him with his free throws. But he overcame and conquered to win the Season’s MVP. And, together with his equally indefatigable teammates, won that Season’s championship.

Too bad they (GA and MB) can’t enjoy the Larry O’Brien (LOB) trophy and exhilaration for long for two reasons: one, the break was curtailed, and two, the 2021-22 Season starts soon.

Anywho, that was a long recap.

2021-22 Season

I’m so happy to say that this Season is about to start in a month. Preseason games, which I call the warmers, testers, and feelers, start two days prior and the opening games start on October 19th.

The Preseason games in my opinion are kinda sorta warmers, testers, and feelers. Warmers because most players probably didn’t touch the ball during the break; resorting understandably to spend much needed time with their families to make up for those periods that they were grinding for the Larry O’Brien trophy. The warmups will help them know where they stand physically and mentally with the ball or see how rusty they’ve allowed themselves to let go.

It’s also a tester and feeler because each team, after the musical chairs of trades, wants to have a feel for the “new” team’s roster relative to other teams and test their capacities in various ranges.

It’s still always fun to watch. Having watched several, I feel that the experienced teams withhold their strength and capacities to give a false impression of the team. Kinda like a bait of sorts strategy. Why waste all the fire at the onset when you have seventy-two games to play, right?

The Preseason and initial first few Season games also allow the Coaches to try different strategies, plays, and players (aka rotations) for the best fit.

I can’t wait to see what the Season has for every Team. Will Milwaukee Bucks play for a back-to-back championship?

Various Teams are in the run for the LOB Trophy this season. The trades were brutal, coupled with the Rookies from the Draft, and returnees from injuries, the race to the 2021-22 Championship is going to be wild.

Have you seen or heard of the LA Lakers’ new roster? The big ball team could scare off the best of teams. But, what with Brooklyn Nets as an equally great contender?

Well, my team is in the race, too! It’s fire, fire, fire all round with the return of Klay Thompson (Welcome, Klay!), Jordan Bell, and acquisition of Ighi (Andre Iguodala), and the two Rookies, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody, Golden State Warriors is right there at the top of the race. Sad to see Kelly Oubre Jr. and Eric Paschal leave. Wish them the very best.

Of course, we are cognizant of the younger teams: Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Sun, etc. They, and the rest of the teams in-between, all put up a show last season. How did the Drafts and Trades impact them? Will they return with greater tenacity this season?

I can’t wait to see and find out.

Cheers to a Season of great, fun, competitive, and mitigating (or no) injury to all players.

Last One: what’s up with the vaccine?

We all now know that being vaccinated does not preclude one from still testing positive for the covid, right? So, why did the National Basketball Association (NBA) agree to not test vaccinated players? Sounds also that masking has been lapsed, including allowing not vax’ing for religious reasons. 🤔

First, I read that the players disagreed to mandated vaccination stating that it was not part of their contract. Hey brothers, covid is no respecter of your contract. I just pray that none will test positive this season. That even if any, the impact will be mild. But remember, should any test positive, that player will be out for at least two weeks. Two weeks at the beginning of the Season is nothing, but I’m sure no Team wants their key player out for two weeks at critical times of the Season.

Now, the player options are vax or be tested daily.

My two-cents is that everyone (NBA players included) engaging in public should be vaccinated and intermittently tested. Stay home if you don’t want to vax or mask – it’s simple. I recognize the division between those who don’t want to and those who choose to. Defiantly choosing not to vax or mask is an act of selfishness given that your choice could directly and indirectly affect another or several and that the outcomes of covid when infected could be fatal. Those players choosing not to are a dire threat to those players who have chosen to. I just hope that the Basketball world are aware of this.

If you’re an unvaccinated player, do remember not to shake hands with nor hug any fans no matter how desperate the fans may be.

What side are you on: vax and mask or no vax no mask, or in-between?

For now, as much as I love to attend the opening games, my TV and living room will be my team stadium till further notice.