The lunatics have indeed taken over the asylum

The lunatics have indeed taken over the asylum

by Tophatal

With the NBA season now in full swing , and having reached its midway point , teams are now jockeying themselves into position divisionally , as well as within their respective conferences , to make that second half push for a playoff berth , for the NBA postseason. And already the league has seen its sheer of controversy, with the summary dismissals of Mike Brown from the Los Angeles Lakers , five games into their season , and that of Alvin Gentry from the underachieving Phoenix Suns . And while I do not believe that this will be the last of the managerial firings that will take place over the course of this NBA season , it is my belief that a number of coaches have now been put on notice , that the general managers and team owners are not prepared to put up with incompetence on the part of their head coaches .


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In the Eastern Conference , it does now look as if the Miami Heat , will not be as dominant a team as they were said to be last season , on their way to marching through the NBA Playoffs and their second NBA title . Defensively , we have seen something of a drop off from this current roster, in comparison to last season , albeit , that there have been certain changes , as to the makeup of the team. Team President and de-facto general manager , Pat Riley , has seen fit to bring in Ray Allen , Rashard Lewis, and Chris Anderson , to add what is an already formidable squad of players , with a payroll to match , which is now amongst the highest in the NBA .

When one bears in mind, that the league hierarchy , this past season , were simply asking for two-fold concessions across the board, from the NBPA (union) , while there has been “ little “ real resolve shown by the teams, to scale back on their exorbitant spending in terms of team and players’ salaries , and simply making it, somewhat asinine of a notion, that there is a “soft salary cap” of $58.044 million and a luxury tax for teams whose payrolls are above the aforementioned figure . It is at times like this , I have to question the alleged business acumen of David Stern , albeit , that he has led the NBA , for the past quarter of a century, to unprecedented success from an economic standpoint, but upon a downturn in the economy , he and his subordinates , as well as the owners ,and front office executives have not seen fit to rein in their expenses , while simply gouging the fans in terms of ticket prices , for what has essentially now become, something of a watered down and thoroughly diluted on-court product.

Heat , head coach , Erik Spoelstra , certainly has his team playing with a great deal of resolve and after their crushing and lopsided victory over the Brooklyn Nets , it is clear to see why they are at present are in a class by themselves within the Eastern Conference . Fans of the New York Knicks , however , might feel to the contrary , and would be very much willing to dispute that fact, as Mike Woodson , has his team playing some great basketball at present . . And one has to admit , that whenever these two noted franchises have met , they simply have not let the fans down , be it , in the regular season or in the postseason , as their much-anticipated and heated rivalry continues unabated . . The next scheduled meeting between these two teams , will not be until 3rd March , in a match-up at Madison Square Garden , home to the famed , New York Knicks . And with Woodson’s team currently leading the season series 2-0 , with the Knicks’ most recent victory over their arch rivals , coming by way of a 20 point shellacking of the LeBron James’ led Heat 104-84 in early December . Prior to that , in their initial meeting of the season series , the New York Knicks would have their way , with what appeared to be an undisciplined Miami Heat team. .

I am not about to suggest that David Stern , ought to consider contraction , given the poor play of a number of teams around the league . Yet, I have to ask , why should the fans be paying good money to witness the mediocrity of teams such as the Charlotte Bobcats (11-34), Washington Wizards (11-33) , Cleveland Cavaliers (13-33) , Orlando Magic (14-31) , New Orleans Hornets (15-31) and the Sacramento Kings (17-30) . About the only thing that has been continuously this incompetent , has been both legislative chambers of the US Congress , along with the present Presidential administration .

The next scheduled game for the Miami Heat, will be an away encounter against the Indiana Pacers , at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse , in Indiana , Indianapolis . The Pacers are one of the more surprising teams within the Eastern Conference this season , as head coach, Frank Vogel has the likes of Roy Hibbert , albeit , deferentially, David West , Paul George , Gerald Green and Danny Granger , playing with a great deal of confidence . Much of that , I believe has come from the presence of Brian Shaw , as an assistant head coach , providing more resolute defense from his team . This game , should provide both teams with a stern test , as each seeks to impose their will upon the other .

So at this point of the Boston Celtics’ season , is now on the cusp of imploding , as they have arguably lost their best player , point guard, Rajon Rondo , for the entire regular and postseason, should the team be in with a chance of gaining a playoff berth. Yet , GM Danny Ainge , is said to be unsure as to whether not he should delve into the free agency market and pursue a trade for a point guard . His own cupboard, within his roster, is threadbare , and looking at the options via free agency for a suitable fit . without having to break the bank , the situation overall doesn’t appear to be all that bright. It is likely that Ainge will consult with head coach , Doc Rivers , and team owner, Wyc Grousbeck , before a final decision is made .

Without a field court general and a productive point guard such as Rondo , the Celtics would quickly become a demonstratively average team , struggling to score and play in transition with any ease . >. And the team , does not seem to be helping themselves at present , with their undoubted inconsistency , due to the loss of the valuable point guard. A test of the team’s resolve will take place when they host the struggling Orlando Magic (14-31) in a game to be played at the TD Banknorth Center , in Boston , Massachusetts , on Friday night. This match-up should give both teams a chance, to gauge themselves at this point of the season and see what , if any positives they can take away from their respective situations . For first time head coach , Jacque Vauhgn of the Orlando Magic , to say that he has been made a “ sacrificial lamb” would be a great understatement , as the team is lacking in confidence . There seems to be no apparent leadership forthcoming , either on the field of play from anyone amongst Vaughn’s coaching staff , or from the coach , himself . For GM Rob Hennigan and CEO Alex Martins , the choice of Vaughn , might have been a prudent one , given the coach’s overall lack of head coaching experience .

I don’t think that at this point of the season , I can remember so many teams within the NBA playing sub . 500 basketball and wherein , the fans feel as if they are being short-changed by the on-field product . >. Yet , this is what the league hierarchy feel that they can bestow upon the consumer , fans and their corporate sponsors , while the league’s revenues increase exponentially primarily through the renegotiation of the NBA’s television contracts with their broadcast partners , such as ABC/ESPN , TNT Tv , WGN , none affiliated broadcast outlets nationally, and global network broadcast partners. The NBA has now become an annual $4.5 billion industry , and with teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks seeing their value , rise above the rate of inflation , with a number of the franchises also eking out fairly substantial profits in a down economy . It should be noted also, a number of teams are the recipients of an outmoded and archaic formula , wherein they are the benefactors of a luxury tax sharing scheme . Teams with payrolls in excess of the league’s “ soft salary cap” of $58.044 million are penalized as much as $1-00 for every dollar they are over that soft salary cap figure . The monies, derived from that scheme, are then disbursed amongst the so-called small market teams within the NBA. It does appear that even with the luxury tax in place , the teams do not appear to be showing the financial restraint one would have come to expect , albeit , that this latest CBA (collective bargaining agreement) , agreed to , between the league hierarchy , led by David Stern and the NPBA (union) remains littered with potholes and numerous dangers , that they clearly do not wish to address publicly .

The core of the Spurs’ roster , revolves around the team’s “ Big Three” , players, Tim Duncan , Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker , each of whom , has won an NBA title ring with the franchise . With four titles to the Spurs’ trophy cabinet , there would be nothing better for the organization , than for this team to add a fifth NBA championship to their treasure trove . As Duncan , Ginobli and Parker go , then so does the rest of this team , with the role players and certain youngsters coming off the bench to add to the team’s productivity . Hopefully , we can see that same sort of being shown by the players during the course of the postseason . Hopefully , we can see that same sort of being shown by the players during the course of the postseason . With the team playing host to the Washington Wizards on Saturday , at the AT&T Center in San Antonio , Texas , it will be interesting to see how the Spurs fare against a team , that as of late , has become less inspiring and more of an embarrassment to themselves as well as to the NBA . The Wizards’ organization, just seems to be crumbling under the continued weight of mediocrity .

I could well be wrong in my assumption , but I have always maintained , if a business entity cannot hold its own executives accountable for their actions , then whatever befalls them as a concern , no sympathy can be shown for that entity. In the case of the NBPA (union), and the ongoing saga , and revelations of the misappropriation of monies ($80,000) from within the organization , by family members employed by the union’s Executive Director Billy Hunter . It leads me to believe that either Hunter was simply naïve and completely unaware of these actions , or somehow he chose to turn a blind eye to the fraudulent acts committed by Alexis Hunter , daughter of the union executive , when there is a clear case of a conflict of interest , when his daughter also just happens to be an employee in a struggling bank , where the executive sought to use the union’s funds for investment purposes , but in reality those funds were being used as a precursor , to shore up that bank’s capital base . What might be even more exacerbating in this whole saga , is the very fact that Billy Hunter , may well have countenanced this maneuver without first seeking the approval of the union’s executive committee .

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports & AP (Associated Press)

NBPA executive director Billy Hunter sought union investment for bank with ties to son

On the weekend of the 2009 All-Star game in Phoenix, Pat Garrity, the treasurer of the National Basketball Players Association, walked into a conference room inside the Sheraton Phoenix determined to make one final stand in his decade of service to the union. Garrity had warned peers and NBPA executive director Billy Hunter prior to the ’09 executive committee meeting that he planned to challenge Hunter on business practices, and several players purposely steered clear of the confrontational scene.

In the aftermath of the U.S. banking crisis in 2008, Garrity had grown increasingly suspicious of an investment bank project that Hunter had been pitching to the executive committee and player representatives. For Garrity and some peers in the NBPA, the investment made no sense.

Hunter had sought a $7 million to $9 million investment from the union into Interstate Net Bank of Cherry Hill, N.J., a financial institution that federal and state banking regulators had slapped with debilitating “cease-and-desist” orders, sources said.

Garrity discovered information online that left him feeling obligated to confront Billy Hunter: Hunter’s son, Todd, had a seat on the board of directors of Interstate Net Bank.

Click on link to read in full .

Billy Hunter , has now sought a leave of absence , as he now seeks to defend himself from what could very well turn out to be serious legal action , if it is proven that he knowingly sought to countenance and misappropriate funds from the union which he presides over . For union President , Derek Fisher , this has to be a complete embarrassment , as he has always maintained what appeared to be close personal relationship with the union’s executive director. There is no evidence to suggest that Fisher , himself , may well have known what might have been going on , but clearly with a number of the union’s player representatives voicing their concerns, as to how , and why , $7 million of union funds , were being used as an investment vehicle , when no communication or a vote took place between Hunter and the executive committee, to approve such a move , has to be seen , as a real cause for concern.



Picture gallery .

With the NBA All Star Break , a little under two weeks away (15th – 17th February) , what do you hope to see , when the second half of the season half of the season gets underway ? And what thoughts , if any , do you have , concerning what now appears to be some serious allegations that are being leveled at Billy Hunter of the NBPA ? Chime in , on this , and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter .



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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

(1)MINNEAPOLIS, MN – FEBRUARY 1: Kobe Bryant (24) of the Los Angeles Lakers pushes the ball up the floor against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the game on February 1, 2013 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images ….

(2) Minnesota Timberwolves’ Ricky Rubio , left, of Spain, goes high to defend but Los Angeles Lakers’ Steve Nash gets off a pass in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, in Minneapolis. AP Photo/Jim Mone ….

(3) Miami Heat’s LeBron James (6) reacts to a call alongside Indiana Pacers’ Paul George (24) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Friday, Feb. 1, 2013. The Heat would go on to lose the game 102-89 against the Indian Pacers . AP Photo/Doug McSchooler …

(4) BOSTON, MA – FEBRUARY 1: Paul Pierce (34) of the Boston Celtics drives to the basket against the Orlando Magic on February 1, 2013 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the Magic 97-84 . Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images …

(5) Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (9) drives to the basket as Kevin Garnett blocks out New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, right, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …

(6) SAN ANTONIO, TX – JANUARY 30: Tony Parker (9) of the San Antonio Spurs looks to pass the ball in game played against Kemba Walker (15) of the Charlotte Bobcats on January 30, 2013 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas . Getty Images /Greg Carmody ….

(7) San Antonio Spurs’ owner , Peter Holt , right , is seen here with the team’s head coach Gregg Popovich . The two individuals have a close and trusted relationship , which has been to the mutual benefit of the Spurs’ franchise . AP Photo / Ian Turner ….

(8) In the foreground , seen are , NBPA President , Derek Fisher , left , alongside him also, is the union’s Executive Director , Billy Hunter . The besieged union executive has voluntarily taken a leave of absence pending an investigation as to the improprieties that have taken place , with the misappropriation of union funds by a family member of Billy Hunter . The union leader has denied any wrongdoing on his part , but there does appear to be mounting evidence to suggest that Hunter did not make the executive committee or the players’ representatives or for that matter union president aware of what had taken place . With the possibility of legal action being taken against him (Hunter), as well as his daughter , Alexis Hunter , who was also in the employment of the NBPA. It seems highly debatable that can and will be allowed to retain his position as the executive director of the NBPA (Players’ Union) . Getty Images North America / Elise Amendola ……




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