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Adam Silver Drops the Hammer on Donald Sterling

“Effectively immediately, I am banning Mr. Sterling for life.”

– Adam Silver

After a tumultuous weekend of emotions stemming from talons of bigotry, Adam Silver, successor to David Stern as NBA Commissioner, stepped up to the podium and delivered the words we so desperately needed to hear.

Words that hopefully will be followed by actions, but words nonetheless that allowed us to breathe a sigh of relief instead of a gasp of disappointment as we are so accustomed to doing when it comes to matters of social justice.

Being a pessimist by nature, especially when it comes to such sensitive issues that have economic ramifications, I expected Silver to levy a punishment not commensurate with the level of hatred expressed on the tapes released by TMZ, attributed to one Donald Sterling.

Instead, what I heard was something akin to Daenerys Targaryen’s “I will answer injustice with justice.”

Thus begin the healing process for the Clippers players who were unfortunately trapped at the eye of the hurricane, as well as the entire sporting community at large.

The results of the NBA’s investigation into the purported Donald Sterling tapes came back positive in the most reprehensible of ways. Adam Silver called the views “offensive and harmful” and apologized for the remainder of the horrendous commentary stemming from one of the NBA’s own.

As a result of these findings, Sterling was fined the maximum amount of money allowed by the NBA constitution – $2.5 million. Donald Sterling was also barred from participating in any team or league activity, and banned for life from Clippers related activities.

Commissioner Silver will move forward with the nuclear option of removing Sterling as an owner of an NBA franchise – a move that requires at least two-thirds support from the remaining 29 owners and one that Silver expects to be successfully executed.

Complete press conference video:

The Power of A Soccer Ball: The One World Futbol Project

To use the idea of sport to resolve conflicts, teach tolerance and equality, and help kids recover from trauma. — Tim Jahnigen

What if you could help bring joy through donating something as simple as a ball?
What if you could help bring joy through donating something as simple as a ball?

Every once in a while, if we’re lucky, we run into partnerships that speak to us and some of our deepest passions.

This morning I ran into a Mashable article about a seemingly indestructible soccer ball that was making its way to remote areas of the world where it is most needed. Areas where the harsh conditions of terrain or geopolitics have a way of flattening hope as often as they flatten balls.

The idea of creating a durable soccer ball came to Tim Jahnigen after watching, and being moved by, a news clip about children refugees in Darfur. The children, in order to enjoy the simple pleasure of playing soccer, would improvise with trash and twine and innovate a make-shift soccer ball.

Bourne out of the simple passion of sport, the clip motivated Jahnigen to pursue a solution to the problem through creating a new type of ball that wouldn’t flatten.

Although, Jahnigen personally lacked the resources to bring his idea to life, his vocation as a music producer provided him access to someone who would help the concept become reality: Sting.

Together they brought vision to life and created a ball made “of injection-molded, closed-cell foam, similar to the material used to make Crocs shoes.”  The ball is “virtually indestructible, can’t be deflated, doesn’t get waterlogged and is made to survive.”

Check out the story in their own words:

In addition to the many organizations that the project has already collaborated with, the cause found a major brand willing to partner with One World: Chevrolet. The major car company has committed itself to donating 1.5 million One World Futbol Project balls over the span of three years.

Chevrolet even created an entire micro-site and social media presence devoted solely to promoting and tracking their collaboration with this project.

Naturally, a brand partaking in such a cause does have inherent interests that extend beyond “just doing good.” Additionally, the One World Futbol project is classified as a B Corp, and not strictly a non-profit. This means that although there is a genuine cause at the heart of this operation, there is a product being sold (as well as costs associated with that product).

Still, this should not detract from the value that a simple soccer ball brings to kids that are lucky enough to play because of it, nor from the efforts associated with this campaign via Chevrolet FC. In fact, I commend them highly for choosing this specific cause because it speaks to me personally.

As a kid, I grew up in a Latin American country where we used to save up what little money we had as kids (pennies and quarters really), in order to purchase an extremely cheap plastic ball full of air that would get punctured and go flat almost immediately. Our solution to this problem was to cut the ball in half, fill it with dirt, and tape it back up – this extended the life of the ball and enriched our childhood days.

I didn’t live in a conflict area but there was enough poverty among us to relate to the heart-breaking joy I see in some of the photos or videos hosted on the One World Futbol Project website.

For those of you fortunate enough to be able to donate to a cause, the One World Futbol Project donates one soccer ball for every soccer ball purchased through their website; or you can just donate a ball if you don’t need one.  Check this page for details.

A simple soccer ball brings communal good and individual joy that stays with us through the years. Trust me, I’ll never forget how happy we were kicking around a ball made of dirt and plastic.

Kobe Bryant Returns to Germany for Knee Procedure

According to sources, and by sources I really mean the all-knowing Adrian Wojnarowski, Kobe Bryant is headed back to Germany to once again receive a magical knee rejuvenation procedure.

Platelet-rich plasma therapy, the common street name for this procedure, is responsible for extending Kobe’s ability to play at a high-level despite having already logged thousands of minutes given his age. German sorcerer—err doctors—will inject Kobe with a magical elixir of plasma that will work its magic as Kobe also heals from his achilles injury.

What’s interesting to me is the hesitancy of Lakers PR to be transparent about what Kobe is doing—they wouldn’t even disclose the location of his trip. What’s up with that? Why are you being shady, Lakers?

Clippers Finding A New Purpose in Doc’s System as Training Camp Begins

With the start of the NBA season fast approaching, the Clippers have moved on from media day into training camp at UCSD’s RIMAC arena.

Reports from those on-site are that new coach, Doc Rivers, is instituting some actual coaching into the offensive system—something that’s sure to be foreign to a former Vinny Del Negro coached team.

Rivers distinguishes his current motion-oriented changes from running style offenses by pointing out:

“Every team talks about running. We want to be a running team. But for us, we really want to be a motion team. We want to be a team that’s in constant motion, constant movement, so it’s very difficult to load up on us.”

By contrast, previous years’ offensive sets consisted of a whole lot of Chris Paul doing everything and anything to destabilize a defense while everyone stood around watching. It was either that, or Blake Griffin receiving the ball in the mid-post and backing down his defender with 50% efficacy.

By having retained the services of Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford, the Clippers’ bench maintained a viable level of competitiveness, something that played into the scrimmages held Wednesday which resulted in the B-team winning the first game. The starters took game two in retaliation while Rivers reflected on the positives of friendly competition.

Stellar offensive plays were never in shortage at Lob City in the past couple of seasons. What was very badly needed, if this team is to take it to the next level, was some form of defensive acumen that would complement the offensive skill set of Paul and Griffin. Fortunately for the Clips, Doc Rivers is known for having built some of the most defensively minded teams in recent memory.  Said Blake Griffin, “The 1st hour & a half of practice was all defense. We didn’t do 1 thing offensively, except some shooting.”

In addition to driving up the overall defensive expectations of his players, Doc Rivers has been keen to focus on one of his best assets on hand: DeAndre Jordan.  The Clippers’ big man, though spectacular off the oops, has often been inconsistent on the defensive end. The length, size and youth of DeAndre gives Doc a lot to play with, but ultimately he understands that it all starts with mental accountability.

“I’m asking him to do them better and more consistently and to take ownership of it and not get sidetracked on the [offensive] side,” Rivers said. “If you’re a great defensive player, you’re a great defensive player 100% of the time. You can’t be a great defensive player half of the time because you didn’t get the ball once or twice. That can’t sidetrack you. It’s got to be ‘I live for my defense, and my offense I’ll get. But I can’t let it affect my defense. Nothing affects my defense.'” – Doc Rivers as quotes in the LA Times.

The quotes and reports coming out of the early days of training camp all point to a new iteration of a talented team that can perhaps harness its true potential by maintaining a high level of offensive play while staying engaged defensively. Chris Paul has already expressed his endorsement for the newly installed changes saying “It keeps everybody engaged on the defensive end and keeps everyone involved on the offensive end.”

While talent and poise have provided the wind that has carried the Clippers into the playoffs, it is a new identity and mental toughness burnished by a defensive focus which can perhaps finally get them over the hump and into, at the very least, the conference finals.

Exciting times in LAC land, can’t wait to see how the rest of training camp plays out.

For a video recap of the day’s events, check out this link from the Clippers’ official training camp update.

Clippers Training Camp Video - UCSD

Kobe Bryant Shattering Pace of Recovery from Achilles Injury

Kobe Bryant is recovering at an accelerated pace from the torn Achilles injury he suffered last season according to a recent interview while in on tour in China:

The surgical procedure was different […] and because of that the recovery has been different.  The normal timetable for recovery from an Achilles, we’ve shattered that. Three-and-a-half months I can already walk just fine, I’m lifting weights with the Achilles just fine and that’s different. So we don’t know what that timetable is going to be. It’s kind of new territory for us all.
—Kobe Bryant

Did anyone expect any different from Kobe Bryant?  Not only is he a vicious competitor, Kobe apparently has access to secret medical developments that have yet to hit the general market.

It wasn’t long ago that we were witness to the rejuvenation of Bryant via magical knee regeneration techniques available only in Germany.  Now we’re privy to groundbreaking new methods of surgery which have cut down the recovery time by months—at least according to Bryant.

In spite of the ferocious competitive desire to return to the court, Bryant’s availability at the start of the season should be controlled and limited given the innovative nature of his surgery.  No doubt Laker fans will be excited to see him back on the court, but if they wish to see him compete for that sixth ring this late in this career, they better hope the return isn’t premature.

Note:  Kobe Bryant’s ruptured Achilles injury was suffered against the Golden State Warriors on April 12, 2013.



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