3/3/11

"NBAz in 7 Dayz"

LeBron James kept his promise. When he agreed to participate in "The Decision" last summer - his hour-long special detailing how he was joining the Miami Heat - he wanted money raised for different Boys and Girls Clubs across the United States. He is finally seeing the fruits of this controversial tv production - all 3 million dollars worth. On Wednesday, the LeBron James Family Foundation opened a newly refurbished gym in Miami to the tune of 100 screaming kids. Now, not all the money raised is going to this particuliar gym. It will be spread out to other Boys and Girls Clubs in the U.S. There will also be work spaces with new computers courtesy of Hewlett-Packard and furniture from the HomeCourt line James designs with his girlfriend, Savannah Brinson. He says he regrets certain aspects of "The Decision" but believes the money raised made it more than worth doing. Let's hope this is the final proof needed to show naysayers some good actually came out of it. Let's talk about other decisions being made in the NBA like Mike Bibby taking his talents to South Beach, the Jazz signing a new Head Coach, and the NBA playing overseas.

A Bit of a Stretch

This weekend's road trip for the Raptors and Nets will mark the NBA's first ever regular season games played in Europe. While I am excited Europeans will get to experience what the NBA has to offer, I am shaking my head at the pieces of pie the league decided to share. The games being played between two teams far off the playoff race is not exactly a big ticket match-up. The Raptors are 17-44 and 13th in the East and the Nets are really no better sitting at 17-43. I am gathering it has something to do with the culturally eclectic brand of the Raptors: Andrea Bargnani and his Italian roots, Jose Calderon and his Spanish heritage, Brazilian Leandro Barbosa, Lithuanian Linas Kleiza and Alexis Ajinca of French decent. It will be easier for friends and families of these guys to bring more friends and family to fill the stands (and the NBA's pocketbook). I have serious reservations if this is going to work. I realize this is all a part of the NBA trying to spread the sport's popularity on a global scale. However, if the goal is to eventually expand and establish an on-going NBA presence in Europe in the form of an actual team, red flags go up. Sure, basketball is one of the biggest events in any Summer Olympics, especially when big name NBAers are involved, but the sport has no grassroots appeal in London. There is definitely a strong hierarchy when it comes to professional sports in Europe and basketball is no where near the top. No doubt organizers of the 2012 London Olympics are thrilled to test out their facilities and host the players, staff, sponsors and some season-ticket holders who have travelled to England. Plus, FIBA hasn't decided whether Great Britain will get an automatic spot in either the men's OR the women's Olympic tournaments in 2012. If staging this weekend's event goes well, FIBA may decide in Britain's favour. There is also a concern out there the Brits don't deserve it because they would be excessively over-matched but denying a spot to an Olympic host would be the first time it's happened. Although NBAers like Chicago's Luol Deng, Ben Gordon in Detroit and even former Raptor Pops Mensah-Bonsu are all passport-carrying British, the level of basketball talent in Britain at the grassroots level still has a long way to go before being considered competitively Olympic. I'm not saying the games this weekend in London shouldn't be happening but rather reminding fans to take a step back and see the bigger picture.

Bibby Takes his talents to South Beach

It should come as no surprise Mike Bibby signed with the Miami Heat Wednesday night. On Tuesday, the Heat let go of former Raptor Carlos Arroyo which cleared a roster spot. Even though there are NBA rules for formally announcing these things, several players including James and Wade said they expected to have Bibby in Miami soon. Plus, when he was traded by Atlanta to Washington last week, there was talk right away concerning Bibby seeking a buyout from the Wizards. Then after the not-so-secret court side chat between LeBron James and Mike Bibby after a game last week, now things seem to make sense. The icing on the cake? Bibby agreed to walk away from the $6 million that was guaranteed to him next season to get out of his deal with Washington and join a championship contender. Then in walks the Heat. So in a week he's traded, clears waivers, becomes a free agent and is now looking for real estate in Miami. Nice. Bibby is expected to join his new teammates Thursday when the Heat host Orlando. Then we will get to see how this all plays out.

"We walked the walk" Utah Jazz CEO Randy Rigby

This storyline makes me laugh. So, the Utah Jazz signed Head Coach Ty Corbin to a multi-year contract on Wednesday less than a month after he took over for Jerry Sloan. This is where things get a little shady. Think back about 4-6 weeks. Jerry Sloan signed on to be Head Coach of the Jazz for at least another year. You would think this means management thought Sloan was their guy. He resigns shortly after signing and all of a sudden, he's not their golden boy anymore? This is the part which gets me. Jazz CEO Randy Rigby said it would have been easy to tell Corbin to ride out the season but "We don't believe in putting a coach in that position". Really? How about giving Jerry Sloan the reins only to set him up to fail. That's like saying 'Yeah, here's the wheel, Captain' just as the titanic hits an iceberg. Ty Corbin does have the experience by serving as an assistant to Jerry Sloan for the past 6 or so years and now becomes the seventh Head Coach in Jazz history. Good luck.

Thanks for joining me this week. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Keep them coming by following me on Twitter (@ddegraauw) and on Facebook (Danielle de Graauw). See you on Tuesday for more NBA coverage in "NBAz in 7 Dayz".

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