Should Olympics athletes be paid? You betcha

Once upon a time, Olympic athletes had to sign pledges affirmed that they were amateurs, because communist athletes were not definable, they weren’t amateurs, yet they weren’t exactly “pros” like Michael Jordan. What the Russians were doing a was labeled as unfair. So in 1986, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) changed the Olympic Charter (most likely to allow “all the world’s great male and female athletes to participate.” America has had a long tradition of patriotism and participating in the Olympics as a badge of honor. Unfortunately, the Olympics hasn’t been about patriotism for a long time. America has a few other long traditions of capitalism and of being self-righteous.

Recently former medalist Dwayne Wade and Ray Allen have suggested that athletes be compensated for Olympic participation.  In 1992 a Michael Jordan led Olympic “Dream Team” nearly boycotted the Olympics due to corporate loyalties. Wade and Allen are not the first to come out in favor of athletes being paid for Olympic participation, but this new controversy against them reeks of racism. You see the help is the one asking to be paid, while the plantations owner is saying you’ve been paid enough, while others are saying you have millions… Perhaps we are not asking the right questions…

Is Jerry Colanagleo running USA Basketball out of the goodness of his heart?

Is Mike Krzyzewski coaching out of sheer patriotism?

Are Nike and Addias donating the uniforms and footwear?

And if they didn’t are they seen as being less patriotic?

Games of the XXX Olympiad, take place in London, England from 27 July to 12 August 2012, will be a multi-billion dollar industry; so much for volunteerism, individual effort, just hurry up raise the national flags and add up those USA totals. This is not a matter of whether or not other countries are paying their players. When black players have a valid opinion on anything that isn’t sports related, it’s always a problem for the masses.  Track and Field athletes get paid to train year around for that one shining moment to represent 300 million plus people, not to mention the gold medal prize money because medalists do receive money.

None of the past US Olympians that have spoken out have asked for million, perhaps they are making a case for future amateur Olympic hopefuls. Because they should be paid, including the bob sledder and figure skaters. 190 plus participant nations support their Olympic athletes 100% financially, the U.S. government gives zero money to its athletes. All the host cities in the world, except those in the USA, have supported their host Winter and Summer Olympics with billions of dollars, the Olympics is run entirely from corporate money, the corporations have control. Hasn’t professional and corporate involvement in the Olympic’s dampened it’s spirit? If these citizens are so patriotic then, aside from asking the right questions, give these Olympians jobs, cars for their service or better still their company allow the use of their symbols and products in return only for favorable publicity and public good will. They should be paid just like the college athlete, whose coaches earn 5 million per year, should be paid.

By using pros isn’t the U.S. admitting that we are on equal footing with the rest of the world. That we can’t have our amateurs compete against the under developed countries of the world and have a change of winning. Sportscasters, bloggers and fans have hit these players on how much money they make, for what they do, “all they do is put a ball in a hole”, “they are crybabies”,”now they want to get paid when they should volunteer” is what is most commonly heard. A Professional Athlete by definition is: a person who is paid to undertake a specialized set of tasks and completes them for a fee.

Perhaps our overriding American bullying nature has caused us to forget the definition of things, but that’s not the truth. The truth is that White Supremacy subconsciously causes the populace to rail against blacks that stand their ground, not wait for whites to lead the way or say ‘I disagree’. Where is the spirit of the games that had America pushing its youth to compete against the youth of other countries? Where is the old adage that anyone could have a chance at glory? Regardless of who’s paying, money has never bought inner drive or passion. Speaking out when our society has lost it’s way, may not seem as patriotic as say urinating on Afghans, or torturing “enemy combatants”, but that is what citizens are supposed to do, that is what makes a good republic. So stop whining about purity and patriotism and use amateur hopefuls or pay the professionals.

by MG Hardie

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In 2009 Kevin Love was taken fifth overall by the Memphis Grizzlies, on draft night he was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the third overall selection O.J. Mayo. That draft night trade is one of the worst trades in NBA history. Mayo is arrogant, flashy and pretty much uncoachable. Kevin Love just may be the best Power Forward of all time. So why doesn’t anyone know who Kevin Love is?

1. Hes’ White:

Love wont say it, the media wont say it…so I will. In his rookie season he was not selected to the NBA All Star Weekend Rookie Challenge. Though he finished his rookie the season ninth in the league in rebounding, first among rookies, and third in total offensive rebounds. He led all rookies with 29 double-doubles, the most by a Timberwolves rookie in franchise history. He was first in offensive rebound percentage. He was the first rookie to lead the league since Hakeem Olajuwon did it in 1984 Somehow he was only named to the 2009 NBA All-Rookie Second Team and finished a distant sixth in Rookie of the Year voting, O.J. Mayo was second.

The following season he finished the season ranked as the NBA’s best rebounder per 48 minutes (18.4), besting Dwight Howard (18.3)…But he has no flashy nickname. He became the 19th player to record a “30–30” game, when he recorded 31 points along with a career-high 31 rebounds, a franchise record and were also the most by a player in an NBA game since Charles Barkley’s 33 rebounds in a game in 1996. He scored a career-high 43 points and had 17 rebounds in December. Kevin Love had 34 straight double-doubles, averaging 21.4 points and a league best 15.5 rebounds per game and shooting 44% from 3 point range, yet with these numbers he was not voted to the All-Star game nor was he selected as an All-Star reserve, he had to be selected by Commissioner David Stern as a replacement for the injured Yao Ming. He achieved four 30-point, 20-rebound games in the season, and tied Minnesota’s team records for made and attempted free throws. In March Love’s consecutive double-double streak ended at 53 games. It was the longest streak since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976, surpassing Malone’s 51-game streak from 1979 to 1980,  yet he is not signed to Air Jordan.

Love’s 51 point game broke Kevin Garnett’s franchise high of 47 points, shooting 7 of 11 from three-point range and 16 of 27 from the field, 14 rebounds, a steal and a block in only 49 minutes and became the first player to score 51+ points and grab 14+ boards since Dirk Nowitizki in 2004 yet he is not a household name.

2011-2012: Love began the season with 15 double double, the first player to do so since 1992. To further punctuate this Kevin Love participated 2012 NBA All Star Three-Point Shootout and defeated Kevin Durant in the final tie-breaking round to win the contest. Now, Kevin Love is also the NBA three-Point Champion, yet he is not a video game cover athlete. He became the first player in NBA history to record 35 points, 10 rebounds and hit five three-pointers in consecutive games. He is the first player to average at least 20 points and 15 rebounds in a season since Malone in 1982. I don’t see these firsts or records breaking following Lebron James or Derek Rose. Even more telling is that best player in the NBA  does Not have a million dollar shoe contract with Nike, Adidas, Rebox and other companies with which the lesser talented and darker background players have signed with, Love has contract with China’s 361 Degrees.

2. He’s in Minnesota

Minnesota’s media market is about the size of Memphis’ and Milwaukee’s. Granted that Minnesote isn’t exactly the hottest vacation spot, but Kevin Love isn’t getting love on Fox Sports, NBA network or ESPN sport center highlights, even though they refer to him as “relentless” and “the most dominate rebounder” in the NBA. Once relegated to footnotes on the sports ticker, soon the media will latch on to him as his numbers become harder and harder to ignore, they will start to praise his game, his efficiency, yet never acknowledging their slowness was due to his race. Is Minnesota a small NBA market? Maybe, but it is also the same market that made Latrell Sprewell, Sam Cassell and Kevin Garnett (KG) famous. It is the same market where Garnett earned his MVP award. Kevin Love is putting up far better numbers than Kevin Garnett ever did. Kevin Garnett is revered for his blue collar worker ethic, consistency and hard work, in the same mold of Moses Malone. Moses Malone is heralded as not only the most dominant player of his era, but of all time. At present time Kevin Love best both of these players, so why doesn’t Kevin Love get a nod as being a hard worker in the midst of his season for the ages?

3. He’s not flashy:

Neither was Mark Price or John Stockton. Kevin Love doesn’t have an entourage. He doesn’t have an edge. He doesn’t have a sad or tragic backstory. He is not from a European or Asian country. He isn’t shooting threes and giving thanks to his god. He isn’t power dunking and yelling. He isn’t throwing no-look passes. He isn’t trying to break someone ankles…Everything he is doing, he is doing to win. Does this mean that his stats, points and rebounds are to be viewed as useless, empty?  He is also a Christian….why no Love…see #1

Americans don’t root for the underdog and sports commentators aren’t honest. Those with media credentials should be called to answer as to why not a single one of them gave him a MVP vote in 2011. His record breaking, record setting double-double streak in the 2011 season alone warranted MVP votes. His stats this season demand the MVP award, regardless of record. Why should Kobe, Durant, Lebron or Wade get the MVP Award? Kobe has Gasol and Bynum, Durant has Westbrook, Wade has Lebron. Each of the MVP favorites have an advertising campaign supported by the NBA to push these players to  the forefront. Why not Love?

The NBA is constantly pushing the much overrated Carmelo Anthony and underachieving Blake Griffin. Griffin is a spectacular dunker, but his game hasn’t improved in his time with the L.A. Clippers. Griffin should be leading the team, but he isn’t. Blake has zero low post moves, refuses to develop a mid-range jumper and when the pressure is on he shoots air-balls from the free throw line. Kevin Love has dropped 32 and 21 on Anthony, 38 and 17 on Griffin and this season through seven games he’s averaging 22 and 13 against Griffin. 42 and 10 against Dirk. 27 and 15 against Kobe, Bynum and Gasol. 51 and 14 against Durant and Westbrook. 42 and 10 against Portland’s Lamarcus Aldridge. As for the playing defense question neither Nowitski nor Durant play much defense and neither put up the kind of numbers Love has.

4. Losing record:

Each year with Kevin Love the Minnesota Timberwolves have improved their record. His numbers show that he wants to win. His overall game growth shows that he wants to win. And don’t say that he doesn’t make others better…because he does, he makes his team better, he makes the league better. Don’t say his team has a losing record…The NBA has given the MVP award to players on losing teams before. So why does the media keep overlooking Kevin Love?

Kevin Love isn’t staking a claim to the title of Best Power Forward and He isn’t the best power forward today. He has been the best power forward for awhile. Kevin Love has broken or tied records that have stood for more than three decades. He has created a need for geeks and commentators to track rebound percentages per minute and shot efficiency charts. If the media and NBA would acknowledge these debilitation racial blinders, they could focus on him, it would change the culture of basketball, especially the Power Forward position. Kevin Love has not been in any NBA television promotional commercials this year. Give these kind of stats to Lebron,Wade… hell if you give these kind of stats to Arizza and he would be regarded as the best to ever play the sport. It is deeply sad that the NBA has a legitimate basketball star, who plays the right way, who plays hard every night, a player who just happens to be white, they don’t know where he fits or how to market him.

Witness the fever over the New York Knicks Jeremy Lin. When Lin plays, the television broadcast  show China town, when Lin is not Chinese. ‘I get called everything you can imagine,’ said Jeremy Lin ‘Racial slurs, racial jokes, all having to do with being Asian.’  On the other end of the spectrum is Kevin Love, who has been called “The Best White Player in the NBA”, “His Whiteness” and “Great White Hype”… No this isn’t love. Sport, the NBA and the country has a race problem. The problem isn’t Kevin Love…the problem is us.

 

 

Well, well, in 2012 MVP voting Kevin Love received 58 MVP votes. Glad to know that my articles actually have some reach…even though uncredited.

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Note: Kevin Love is not Shawn Bradley, Eric Montross, Bryant Reeves, Todd Fuller, Keith Van Horn, Raef Lafrentz, Wally Szerbiack, Mike Miller, Chris Mihm, Joel Prizibilla, Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, Kirk Hinrich, Fredette, Chris Kaman, Robert Swift, Andrew Bogut, Adam Morrison, Spencer Hawes, Tyler Hansbroughk or even Cole Adrich. Kevin Love has seven 30-20 games so far.

There have been many discussions about who the top players are and who the best NBA players ever were. There is always the question of how does one compose a list, do you list them by emotion, stats, position, championships, impact or all of the categories. I am going to list my Starting 5. This list  should put the Top All-Time Players in perspective. (In their prime, all things being equal and with a minimum of  10 years in the league)

My Starting Five

Center-

“>

Wilt Chamberlain  7’1″ 280 lbs

I know people would like to go with Bill Russell, or Shaq here, but honestly Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain was the original “Freak of Nature”.  Yes he scored 100 points in a game, but Wilt, the player, forced the NBA to change so many rules its absurd and he also caused the NBA to widen the lane. Aside from his numerous records and awards he is the only player in NBA history to average more than 40 and 50 points in a season. In case you didn’t know Wilt Chamberlain played for the Harlem Globetrotters and he was the 1st athlete of note to bring volleyball out of the gymnasiums and onto the sand. He may not get the credit, but it was Wilt who gave birth to beach volleyball, it was he who made it popular. He also led the NBA in rebounds for 11 seasons and average of 23 rebounds per game and had 227 consecutive double-doubles.

Power Forward-

Dennis Rodman 6’7″  230 Lbs

I know, most people would have selected Tim Duncan, or Charles Barkley. Rodman at 6’7″ with a wingspan of 7’7″  led the league in rebounds for 7 straight years, including 19 rebounds per game during the 1991-1992 season. What he may lack in height he more than makes up for in pure tenacity. Rodman was  known as a rebounding machine, but even more so for his defensive toughness. Unpredictable, hardworking and unselfish that is what a great teammates are made of . Rodman’s defensive play was the stuff of legend. He made Scottie Pippen cry during the playoff no less. He took his counterparts completely out of the game, he did the dirty work, something that is beneath a lot of players these days. 1989-90, 1990-91 Defensive Player of the Year awards.

Small Forward-

Elgin Baylor 6’6″  225 Lbs

Most of the time I see Larry Bird in this spot, which is mostly due to the 80’s Celtics/Lakers champions games. Elgin was every bit a pure shooter as Bird was, but the key here is that Baylor could actually defend. You don’t get a career average of 28 points and 14 rebounds for nothing. Baylor a gifted shooter, strong rebounder, known for his acrobatic maneuvers on the court. The No. 1 draft pick in 1958, NBA Rookie of the Year in 1959, and an 11-time NBA All-Star.

Shooting Guard

Michael Jordan 6’6″ 220 Lbs.

Often referred to as the best NBA player that has ever lived, but that distinction goes to Wilt Chamberlain. Also known as MJ, or just Jordan. He has five MVP awards, ten All-NBA First Team selections, nine All-Defensive First Team selections, fourteen NBA All-Star game appearances, three All-Star Game MVP awards, ten scoring titles, three steal titles, six NBA Finals MVP awards, and the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award to top it all off. Jordan holds the NBA records for highest career regular season scoring average (30.12 points per game) and highest career playoff scoring average (33.45 points per game). In 1999, he was named the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN. His tenacity on both end of the court was unmatched, his selection is a no brainer.

Point Guard

Magic Johnson 6’9″  250 Lbs

At 6′ 9″ the man redefined the point guard position. Magic earned twelve All-Star appearances, and ten All-NBA First and Second Team nominations. He led the league in regular-season assists four times, and is the NBA’s all-time leader in assists per game, with an average of 11.2. He is a member of the 700 club,  assists, rebounds, and points in the same season. Three NBA, MVP Awards, nine time NBA Finals appearances.  Johnson was a member of the “Dream Ream”, which is a nickname for the U.S. basketball team that won the Olympic gold in 1992.

 

Bench (13 man  playoff roster)

 

Allen Iverson 6′ 0″ 170 Lbs  (Guard)

Kareem Abdul Jabbar 7′ 1″  250 Lbs. (Center)

 

Kobe Bryant 6′ 7″  210 Lbs. (Shooting Guard)

Tim Duncan 6′ 11″ 260 Lbs (Power Forward)

Shaquille O’Neal 7′ 2″ 325 Lbs. (Center)

Ray Allen 6′ 6″  210 Lbs. (Shooting Guard)

Larry Bird 6′ 9″  220 Lbs. (Small Forward)

 

Oscar Robinson 6′ 5″  220 Lbs (Point Guard)

 

Can your Starting 5 take mine?   

The concert begins

on wood, dirt, blacktop, concrete

even packed snow.

Participants come in all shapes,

sizes and colors.

From all walks of life they come,

They come to show their affection,

Their love.

Do You have the love?

Center stage is 96′ by 50′

The performers are chosen

and take their places.

All eyes follow the orange sphere.

Running, spinning, leaping

Grunting, sweating, passing

Execution, chants, shouts

Breakaway! Explosive.

Timeout…

Do you have the Love?

Offense is Learned,

Defense is pure hard work

Can you feel the ebb?

The flow?

The Momentum of game one

with 81 more to go.

Old, New, Schooled

Post up, cross over

Black Mamba take over

Pull up jumper,

Power, Finesse.

The score is tied, 16 seconds left,

can’t rest.

Slam, Bank, Luck, Skill

Inside, Outside

Block, Steal

Cheers rain down from the sky

Cameras flash from nowhere,

Posterize.

Do You have the Love?

Penetrate, fake, jab step

hang time, pass dish

don’t foul, rebound,

fast break, barely miss.

Half court trap, or full court press?

Triangle, Isolation… Wrong guess.

Step back Three silence

…swish.

Beautiful.

I Love This Game.

MG Hardie © 2010