Yesterday, I watched CNN’s Anderson Cooper interview with Donald Sterling followed by Magic Johnson’s response. Needless to say, there was a lot of blog material within the first 3 minutes! Donald Sterling should have never brought up Magic Johnson but since he did I thought I’d blog about it:
Donald, you profess to be active in your Jewish faith so let’s take it to the Old Testament. In the book of 2 Samuel, there is the infamous story of David & Bathsheba where David, King of Israel, takes another man’s wife to be his own but not before having an affair with her. Of all the women he could’ve chosen he decides to take one who is already married. They got pregnant but the Lord ends up allowing their newborn to die. Does any of this seem familiar – A very high & powerful man breaks up a marriage because of a beautiful woman and ends up losing his firstborn son? Hhhmmm….
Donald Sterling is no doubt a racist but he seems to have particular aught with Magic Johnson namely because of his HIV status. It sounds like he feels that Magic doesn’t “deserve” to be as successful as he is because of his sordid past. Hhhmm…..I DO understand his point, however, I DO NOT agree.
First let’s address Donald Sterling’s comments about Magic Johnson’s achievements in the community. He said & I quote:
“What has he done? Can you tell me? He’s got AIDS. Big Magic Johnson – what has he done?”
“Did he help anybody in South LA?”
“What does he do for the Black people? The Jewish people have a company & it’s for people who want to borrow money at no interest. They want to give them a fishing pole; they wanna help people. He does nothing. It’s all talk.”
There is no doubt that Magic Johnson has done a lot for the urban community including business ventures that employ minorities throughout not only Los Angeles but also across the country. His business partnerships with corporations like Burger King, Aetna and Washington Mutual prove this. Countless jobs have been created, as well as his presence alone has diversified many executive boards and corporate offices alike.
According to CNN, the same month he tested positive for HIV in 1991 he formed the Magic Johnson Foundation which “works to develop programs and support community-based organizations that address the educational, health and social needs of ethnically diverse, urban communities.” In the past 23 years, his foundation has raised more than $20 million for charity and given out almost $4 million in scholarships. In other words, he’s brought business to minority communities & has helped students obtain higher education. His focus has always been on serving diverse communities, bringing high-quality businesses to minority areas typically underserved by larger corporations. And Johnson seemed to invest in nearly everything — theaters, restaurants, fitness centers, sports teams and a TV network. Currently, Johnson’s entire empire is estimated at $500 million and he’s only 54 years old. (To read more about his organization, click here).
Donald Sterling goes on to say, “What kind of a guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, then he catches HIV? Is that someone we want to respect and tell our kids about? I think he should be ashamed of himself. I think he should go into the background.”
But let’s be clear – Magic Johnson didn’t sleep with every woman in every city. Even if he did sleep around a lot, it only takes one time to catch HIV or AIDS. But why should he go into the background because of it?
Life is unfair. You can create one of the most notable companies of all time worth over $650 billion but still die young of cancer – look at Steve Jobs. Or you can win 6 Grammy’s and overdose on drugs – just ask Amy Winehouse. She was so young, so famous but was responsible for her own demise. Oh & let’s not forget about Kim Kardashian who rose to fame because of a simple (and might I add not a very good) sex tape. She’s now worth $40 million just for ‘sleeping around’. How is that fair? There are plenty of women who are highly educated, hard workers, attractive & smarter but don’t have any of these things? The answer is simple: Life isn’t fair. Good people end up getting hurt, nice people don’t always win, smart people don’t always make the most money and there are those who have brought misfortune upon themselves but still end up making it big. Donald, it’s called life. The pretty girl doesn’t always win the crown.
My question to you, Donald Sterling, is how is it fair in your mind that your mistress got a $1.8 million dollar condo, multiple Bentley’s and hundreds of thousands in other gifts but she didn’t work, didn’t go to college & has no legitimate transferable job skills? You’ve given more to her than your own charitable foundation, the Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation. Never mind the fact that you are still married, but showcasing your mistress at all of your games with courtside seats. What will you tell your own grandchildren? How is that for respect, Donald?
In Magic Johnson’s case, he contracted HIV but ended up very wealthy. Instead of fading into the background he has chosen to step up & use his fame and fortune for good. He has chosen to further HIV & AIDS awareness, employ tens of thousands of people, donate to charity on a consistent basis & promote higher education. Sterling, on the other hand has seemingly donated less than 1% of his nearly $2 billion fortune (see LA Times article here).
Does Magic Johnson deserve all that he has? He deserves that & more because to whom much is given, much is required. He’s proven his commitment to the urban community. Donald Sterling, if you’re so “jealous” of Magic Johnson then why don’t you step up & match his contributions dollar for dollar? Why don’t you partner with him & seek to help build up the lives of the people that you hold in such low regard? As we say in my community, “Don’t talk about it, be about it.”
At the end of his CNN interview Donald Sterling says, “If I said anything wrong, I’m sorry.” Well, Donald Sterling, you finally got something right – you ARE sorry.
The New York Knicks’ new president Phil Jackson knows a few things about overcoming obstacles: He’s won 11 NBA championship titles as a coach with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers and two as a player. But Jackson’s biggest challenge this offseason is supposedly figuring out how to keep Carmelo Anthony, a player so talented that the redoubtable Oscar Robertson recently called him one of the best players in the league—perhaps better than LeBron James or Kevin Durant.
The primary presumption in New York is that the Knicks have to keep Anthony because he is a rare talent belonging to the Mount Rushmore of contemporary scorers. After all, Anthony has scored nearly 20,000 points in his career and appeared in the All-Star game seven times. The secondary presumption—made by both Robertson and Frank Isola of the New York Daily News (among others, I’m sure)—is that the only thing keeping Anthony from winning a championship is the lack of better help around him.
But the empirical evidence suggests that 1) Anthony is not quite the star so many people see, 2) the Knicks’ problems aren’t entirely a result of their lack of help, and finally, 3) losing him might not be so tragic.
Shots, Shots, Shots
Carmelo Anthony was voted by the fans to start in the 2014 All-Star Game, is the fifth-highest paid player in the NBA, and was the season’s second-highest scorer, after Kevin Durant. He is clearly perceived to be a star.
Many people’s perception of a player’s greatness—whether one looks at post-season awards, free-agent salaries, or the NBA Draft—is primarily driven by total points scored. But a player’s contribution to wins, which is arguably the most valuable quality a player can bring to his team, consists of much more than total points.
Scoring (or total points) is the product of two factors: shot attempts and shooting efficiency. Of all the things a player does on the court, shooting efficiency (which—as explained below—can be measured in different ways) is probably the most important factor when it comes to winning games. Gaining and keeping possession of the ball are very important; however, shot attempts—or the other part of total points—do not really matter. Or, more precisely, because a player’s shot attempts tend to come at the expense of his teammates’ shots, how many shots a player takes doesn’t tell us much about his contribution to wins.
We can see this clearly when we look at what happened to the Denver Nuggets when Carmelo Anthony was traded to the Knicks in 2011. With Anthony on the roster, the Nuggets took 80.0 shots from the field per game in 2010-11. Of these, 19.3 were launched by Anthony. After Anthony left for New York, field goal attempts per game for the Nuggets actually rose to 82.2 per game. So Anthony didn’t “create” his 19.3 shots, and they didn’t vanish when he departed. Instead, the numbers suggest he simply “took” those shots from his teammates. When he left, his teammates in Denver “took” them back (and also took a couple more).
Because shot attempts are just taken, what matters in evaluating a scorer is his efficiency. And this is where Anthony comes up short. Consider how Anthony compares to the two other leading scorers in the NBA: Durant and LeBron James.
An average NBA player in 2013-14 had an effective field goal percentage (a measure that considers the impact of shooting from two-point and three-point range) of 0.501 and a true shooting percentage (a measure that considers the impact of shooting from the free throw line and the field) of 0.541. Here is what this trio did this past season with respect to each measure:
- LeBron James: 0.610 effective field goal percentage, 0.649 True Shooting Percentage
- Kevin Durant: 0.560 effective field goal percentage, 0.635 True Shooting Percentage
- Carmelo Anthony: 0.503 effective field goal percentage, 0.561 True Shooting Percentage
These numbers tell a simple story. James and Durant aren’t just a little bit better at converting their shot attempts into points. They’re significantly better. In fact, Anthony’s ability to get the ball to go through the hoop is only slightly better than the average player. Across his career in New York, Anthony has posted an effective field goal percentage of 0.495 (slightly below average mark) and a True Shooting Percentage of 0.554 (slightly above average mark).
A small percentage-point difference in shooting efficiency can have a huge impact on wins throughout a season.The box score statistics tracked by the NBA can be translated—as explained here (and in a few academic publications)—into how many wins each player produces.
For example, across this last regular season we see that Durant produced 19.4 wins, James produced 17.8 wins, and Anthony produced just 6.9 wins.
Yes, although Anthony had scoring totals that matched Durant and James, his actual production of wins was quite a bit lower. But what would have happened if Anthony were able to shoot as well as James? If Anthony matched James shooting efficiency—and nothing else about Anthony changed—his production of wins would have been 16.3 in 2013-14. So the Knicks could have won 10 more games in 2013-14 if Anthony could have simply shot like LeBron. And if that had happened, the Knicks would have been in the playoffs, and Mike Brown would probably still be the team’s head coach.
It’s important to emphasize, though, that this was not just a problem in 2013-14. In 2012-13, James produced 21.1 wins, Durant produced 19.2 wins, and Anthony only produced 4.1 wins.
Again, Anthony can score like James and Durant. But because his shooting efficiency isn’t far removed from average, his production of wins doesn’t come close to what we see from Durant and James.
You might be thinking: Okay, Anthony’s not as good as two historically great players, but he’s clearly an elite scorer in the NBA. To see how surprisingly mediocre Anthony’s shooting is, we can compare his shooting efficiency to entire teams’.
Again, his effective field goal percentage this year was 50.3 percent. This past season, 14 teams shot better (or nearly half the league’s teams). In his career as a Knick, his EFG has been 49.5 percent; 16 teams shot better this past season (or more than half the league’s teams). When we take into consideration free throws, in true shooting percentage, Anthony looks a bit better, because he’s quite good at drawing fouls and hitting shots at the line. Still, six teams had higher true shooting percentages than Anthony last year (in fact, on the San Antonio Spurs alone, nine of their 12 players with more than 500 minutes on the court this year posted a higher true shooting percentage than Anthony.)
It’s hard to believe that there are half a dozen teams who collectively score more efficiently than one of the “best” scorers in the league. The alternative is: Anthony is not a terrifically efficient scorer.
It’s Not About More Help
While some think that the Knicks have simply not provided Anthony with enough help, when we look back at 2012-13, it’s clear that this story doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, either.
The New York Knicks had their best season of the 21st century in 2012-13. Not only did the team win more than 50 games (for the first time since 1996-97), the team also advanced out of the first round of the playoffs (for the first time since 1999). But the team still fell far short of the Miami Heat. Some people might argue that the difference was the teammates surrounding both James and Anthony. But when we look at wins, a different story emerges.
In 2012-13, the wins produced by everyone on the Heat not named LeBron was 41.0. And when we look at the Oklahoma City Thunder, everyone not named Durant produced 46.3 wins. So each of these players had “help.” But perhaps surprisingly, Anthony had even more help. In 2012-13, everyone not named Carmelo on the Knicks produced 48.0 wins. That means that if Anthony could have simply matched the production the Heat received from LeBron James, the Knicks would have been the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs in 2013. And had that happened, the Knicks probably would have had a very good shot at winning a title.
But that didn’t happen. The Knicks exited the playoffs in the second round. Before the 2013-14 season started, the Knicks roster changed a bit. First, Jason Kidd—who produced 11.4 wins for this team—finally retired (and became the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets). In addition, the Knicks traded a collection of players and draft picks to the Toronto Raptors for Andrea Bargnani. In 2012-13, Bargnani produced -3.2 wins for the Raptors (yes, that is a negative number). Why was Bargnani so unproductive? In addition to shooting efficiency, wins in the NBA are also about getting and keeping possession of the ball (i.e., getting rebounds, creating turnovers, and avoiding turnovers). Although Bargnani can score, he does this by launching many shots. When it comes to both shooting efficiency and rebounds, though, he is very much below average. So it is not surprising—at least to those who look at all the box-score numbers—that Bargnani was not going to “help” Anthony and the Knicks. And when the 2013-14 season ended, Bargnani’s production of wins was again in the negative range.
Beyond these changes, the Knicks also suffered some bad luck. Tyson Chandler—who produced 13.1 wins for the Knicks in 2012-13—was hurt in 2013-14. So Chandler’s production of wins declined to just 7.1 wins.
These three changes—the loss of Kidd, addition of Bargnani, and injury to Chandler—are the biggest reasons why the Knicks and Anthony suffered this past season. But although Anthony had less help in 2013-14, surprisingly the difference between his help and the help given to James and Durant remained small. In 2013-14,
- every player not named Durant on the Thunder produced 38.5 wins,
- every player not named James on the Heat produced 36.0 wins, and
- every player not named Anthony on the Knicks produced 32.0 wins.
Again, the problem isn’t really the players surrounding Anthony. The problem is that fans have convinced themselves that Anthony’s game—that of an above-average shooter who takes a disproportionate number of shots—makes him a star.
The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement allows the Knicks to offer Anthony a five-year maximum deal of $129.1 million to stay in New York. For a team that has consistently ranked toward the top in the NBA’s payroll rankings, finding the money to pay Anthony doesn’t seem like an issue. What should be an issue, though, is whether Anthony is really worth more than $25 million per season.
Beyond the issue with Anthony’s impact on wins, it is important to remember that Anthony will turn 30 next month. He will be 35 when this contract expires. Basketball players tend to see their peak performance in their mid-twenties. Although any decline tends to be modest in a player’s twenties, once a player reaches his thirties the decline tends to accelerate. Certainly, there are exceptions to this trend (see: Jason Kidd). But the general pattern suggests that Anthony isn’t likely to get much better across this contract. And what we have seen so far suggests that what seems obvious to many—that Anthony is the key to the Knicks’ future—may not be true.
As teams in Denver and New York have learned for the past 11 NBA seasons, trying to build a championship team around Carmelo Anthony—a player who has only advanced out of the first round of the NBA playoffs twice in his career—isn’t likely to prove successful. At least, to make that title happen, Anthony is going to need quite a bit more help than James has seen in Miami.
*Article was originally published on News-Republic.
I can’t say that I’m surprised. Last week it was Cliven Bundy, the ‘outspoken’ Nebraska cattle rancher who asserted that “Black people were better off as slaves, picking cotton” and this week it’s Donald Sterling who was quoted as saying “You can sleep with them, just don’t bring Blacks to my games.” Now I wonder who will be the next person to make such ignorant statements publicly. It’s official folks, President Obama may be in the Oval office but we are not living in a “post-racial” era.
If you haven’t turned on your television lately or picked up a newspaper, I’ll bring you up to speed: A couple of days ago, LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling, age 80, was outed as being a racist based on an audio tape that was “leaked” by his mistress, V. Stiviano, age 31. It appears as if Ms. Stiviano was trying to extort additional monies from Mr. Sterling, although he had already purchased over $2,000,000 worth of items for her including a duplex, Bentleys (yes, more than one) and paid for other high-end living expenses. For almost 10 minutes he went on & on about his personal feelings about minorities even though his very own mistress is of a mixed race heritage (African American & Mexican).
Now I’m not sure how Mr. Sterling was raised. It seems that he was raised by Jewish immigrants and lived in Los Angeles pretty much his entire life. He went to high school & college in the Los Angeles area, as well. So where did all of his disdain for African Americans come from? Did he have a bad experience growing up? Did some Black kids pick on him in college? California is such a liberal state (even back in his day) that it’s hard to believe that someone from here could feel this way about the very people that have made him so rich.
This is not the 1st time that Donald Sterling has been in hot water for his personal feelings about minorities. A Justice Department lawsuit filed in 2006 accused Sterling’s rental company of refusing to lease Beverly Hills apartments to African-Americans, refusing to rent to non-Koreans in the Koreatown section of Los Angeles County and turning away families with children from its properties. That case was settled in 2009, with Sterling agreeing to pay nearly $3 million but continuing to deny the accusations. In 2003, the nonprofit Housing Rights Center and a group of tenants who lived in Sterling’s properties filed a federal lawsuit against Sterling, accusing him of “numerous discriminatory statements and housing practices,” according to court documents. Those same documents allege that Sterling told building staff that he did not like Hispanic or African-American tenants and that he preferred Korean-American tenants and made “disparaging comments” about African-American and Hispanic tenants. Federal prosecutors accused his rental company of refusing to lease Beverly Hills apartments to African-Americans. And a group of tenants accused him of “numerous discriminatory statements and housing practices.” Now when there are this many race-related incidents attached to a person’s name, one has to wonder. What’s the saying – If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…..
It has been duly noted that Donald Sterling has donated some money to the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP, who in turn gave him a lifetime achievement award. However, they awarded him that honor in 2009, which is coincidentally the same year that his discrimination lawsuit was settled. It sounds to me like he started throwing money at minority groups after his discrimination cases began (remember, he had multiple cases). The NAACP was planning on presenting him with another award in May, 2014, however, they have rescinded the invitation to honor him again.
Let’s take a look at the racial composition of the NBA. It’s no secret that over 80% of all NBA players are African American, and that number is even higher within the Clipper organization at 85%. Basically everybody on that team with the exception of 2 players is African American, not to mention their head coach & assistant head coach. So if 85% of the people who have worked for you & made you rich (a billionaire to the tune of $1.9 billion, to be exact) are the very same color that you despise, what does that say about you? No one wants to feel like they are good enough to make you money, but not good enough to be seen in public with those that are supposedly close to you. They say that the unspoken mantra from white owners to black athletes is: “You keep the culture, we keep the capital.” If they control your livelihood, they control your life.
Adam Silver, the newly installed NBA commissioner, certainly has quite a decision on his hands. It’s expected that sometime this week a decision will be handed down about the fate of Mr. Sterling. Thus far Adam Silver is maintaining that Mr. Sterling should be given “due process” but what about all of the employees that have worked for him with his racist mentality for the last 30 years that he’s owned the Clippers? Where is their “due process”? I believe that the NBA needs to act swiftly & justly. The National Basketball Association can choose to suspend Donald Sterling, fine him several millions or even enforce the NBA Constitution which dictates that the other NBA owners can vote to revoke his ownership.
What do I think should be done? Well, a dozen top sponsors of the L.A. Clippers have already suspended their support (thank you Red Bull, State Farm & Sprint!) but I certainly think that sanctions should be taken against Mr. Sterling. He needs to be hit where it hurts – in his wallet. You see, racism affects everyone in the NBA organization not just the players or the coaches. Can you imagine having to come to work every day knowing (and sometimes not knowing) that your boss or your boss’s boss can’t stand you just because of the color of your skin – something you can’t do anything about? It’s called the “plantation effect” and it’s something that many of us African Americans face on a daily basis. We are denied jobs, promotions, bank loans, a second chance, etc. just because of our skin color. The only difference between Donald Sterling and all the other racist bosses out there is that his true feelings are no longer hidden. But what can you do when you work for someone who is clearly uncomfortable in your presence, prefers not to be alone with you or avoids small talk at all costs? The only positive thing that has come out of this is that those who didn’t know where Mr. Sterling stood on the subject of race before know now.
Currently, the L.A. Clippers are #1 in the Western conference. Should they even bother winning this year’s championship just so that Donald Sterling can take all the credit?
What are your thoughts or views on this Sterling/Clipper/NBA kerfuffle? Do you think NBA Commissioner Adam Silver should take swift action? Furthermore, should Donald Sterling be forced to sell the Clippers?
Wanna take action? Let the NBA know how you feel by clicking here. You know I already have!
With the NBA finals on television I have been trying to follow the games to the very end. I know that both teams are quite talented, which is how they got to the playoffs in the first place so either team deserves to win. But I do find it odd that even though only 5 basketball players can be on the court at one time, all 15 will receive a ring if they win in the NBA finals.
Not only do the players receive a ring but all members or employees of that team get a ring. This means that aside from the starting lineup, the coaches, management and staff also receive a ring. Even the mascot & cheerleaders of that team are eligible for a ring. You don’t even have to get off the bench or set foot on an actual basketball court to get a championship ring. I can’t believe it!
So when Stephen Curry makes the winning shot bringing the Golden State Warriors to victory James McAdoo & Justin Holiday, two players I’ve never heard of, will also receive a championship ring. What sense does that make? Why does everyone on the team get a ring when the only people that contributed to the victory are the star players and the coaches? Cheerleaders don’t help basketball teams win games neither does the office staff.
Giving everyone on the team a ring is like saying every time I buy a Happy Meal from McDonald’s I should get a tax write off because a percentage of my purchase will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House. Why shouldn’t McDonald’s give me a tax break? I am indirectly sponsoring their charity so if they donate because I buy their food, I should somehow be entitled to a tax deduction myself, right? To me this is the same illogic that the NBA uses when they “give out” their championship rings to every member of the winning team.