Kurt Helin

Michael Jordan

Report: NBA says Michael Jordan can’t decide who gets Air Jordan shoe deal

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This ties into why Clippers offering DeAndre Jordan a $200,000 a year sponsorship with Lexus led to a $250,000 fine

Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan shoe brand through Nike dominates the market — 58 percent of basketball shoes sold last year were Jordans. That 13 times more than LeBron James, who has the best selling shoe among active players. Nike owns 95.5 percent of the basketball shoe market (according to Forbes).

One of the NBA’s concerns with Michael Jordan as the owner of the Charlotte Hornets is that he could supplement players’ salaries with shoe deals. So the NBA cut that option off, reports Darren Rovell of ESPN.

This isn’t just a Jordan rule, pretty much any NBA owner could pull off something similar (at least Ballmer didn’t offer a Microsoft endorsement). The rule is there for a reason.

The Jordan brand is well managed and not hurting in the least. It still has deals with Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony and nearly two dozen more current and former NBA players. There are Hornets — Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller — on that list.

In fact, Kidd-Gilchrist just took what could be seen as a below-market $52 million contract extension to stay in Charlotte. Not that there was any quid pro quo here, but the NBA wants to avoid that appearance.

It’s easy to understand the NBA’s concern — if Jordan could say “I’ll pay you a couple hundred thousand extra to wear my shoes” it would be an unfair recruiting advantage. So they are trying to tie his hands.

Not that it is impacting shoe sales, or how much Jordan rakes in from Nike.

Latest NBA 2K16 promo video: #WINNING

NBA_2K16_cover_art-1
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The fine folks at 2K sports have a killer property in the NBA 2K series. It’s iconic.

They also know how to market it. Brilliantly.

Playing to the wheelhouse of gamers and NBA fans, here is the latest promo video for NBA 2K16. I expect one of the features this year is Stephen Curry can hit shots from roughly the Bay Bridge.

Chris “Birdman” Andersen on trade rumors: “It doesn’t bother me one bit”

Chris Andersen
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Heat owner Micky Arison is potentially staring at the repeater tax — just tack an extra dollar on every dollar already taxed. For example, with the lowest tax rate (less than $5 million over the tax line of $84.7 million) the bill jumps from $1.50 per dollar to $2.50. To paraphrase Ron Burgundy, this escalates quickly.

The Heat are currently at $90.3 million in guaranteed salary, they just need to trim $5 million or so to get below the line. If you’re a contender well over the line (think Cleveland) you just bite the bullet as an owner, but if you’re just over the line why pay the extra?

Enter the Chris Andersen rumors — the Birdman makes $5 million a year. Throw in the emergence of Hassan Whiteside plus the return of Josh McRoberts, and the Heat could solve a lot of problems by moving Andersen. He has been linked to the Clippers for Jamal Crawford and other teams in deals that would lessen the Heat’s payroll (the Clippers trade is highly unlikely).

Do these rumors bother him?

The better question is, does anything bother him? Andersen sounded like a veteran who has been down the road before speaking to Ira Winderman at the Sun Sentinel.

“It’s a business, man,” Andersen, 37, said. “It doesn’t bother me one bit.”

Miami is going to do something to cut payroll and moving Andersen may be that thing. It likely doesn’t happen until camps open, teams get a look at their rosters, and one of them realizes they need to pay for a backup center. That’s when Pat Riley calls.

But whatever happens, it’s not going to bother Andersen. He’s good.

Cam Newton adds LeBron James tribute to his touchdown celebration

Cam Newton
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Cam Newton’s going to score some touchdowns this season for the Carolina Panthers (he had five last season). And when he did he’s always pulled that Superman celebration out, pretending to rip off his suit to expose the “S”.

Now he’s added the LeBron James high knee-hand pump to the celebration as a tribute to LBJ. And LeBron noticed.

Hat tip Mr. Football Lang Whitaker at NBA.com’s Hangtime Blog.

LaMarcus Aldridge says he’s not trying to fill Tim Duncan’s shoes

San Antonio Spurs v Portland Trail Blazers
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There is not going to be another Tim Duncan. Ever. That high-IQ, fundamentally sound game with sustained success throughout his career, the five rings, the two MVPs, the three Finals MVPs, the lifting of one small market franchise up to the summit of the game and keeping it there for 15 years, it’s an incredible legacy.

Nobody understands there is not going to be another Duncan like LaMarcus Aldridge.

Aldridge had his pick of NBA landing spots chose the Spurs, but he wants people to know that stepping into Duncan’s shoes was not in his plans — in part because Duncan is still in those shoes. He talked with Sam Amick of the USA Today about whether he was worried about Duncan’s shadow.

“No, because I’m not trying to be Tim Duncan. I’m not trying to fill his shoes. No one is going to fill his shoes. First of all, he started there and he ended there. I’m not doing that. I didn’t start there. There’s no pressure, because I didn’t start there and I’m not trying to be him. My game is totally different than his.

“I never had any issues with it. I think the media blew it up more, like I’m trying to fill his spot and take his role. I was like, ‘No, I’m trying to be me.’ I feel like me being there with Pop in the system with the guys, I should be ok. That was what I was weighing: Go to Phoenix, be the face and the guy, or go to San Antonio and probably win sooner and be more blended in. That was my issue. And I was like, ‘If y’all want me to come here and average 12 or 13 points, that’s not who I am. I like scoring.’ They were like, ‘No, we want you to play in the system, but you scoring is needed here.’ Once I heard that, I was fine.”

It will be interesting to see how Aldridge’s need for touches and points plays out in the more team-first culture Duncan and Gregg Popovich have built. They do need his scoring, but it’s also about the threat of Aldridge’s scoring that opens up shots for everyone. He has to buy into that team concept for it all to work (and I expect he will).

With that, Aldridge’s scoring may take a slight dip — he will command double teams in the post (and at the elbow, and a lot of other places) and when he passes out of that the Spurs will whip the ball to an open shooter. He’s not just getting a re-post.

What Aldridge brings is an upgrade of Tiago Splitter, a player who can protect the paint and play good defense, and then on the other end scores inside and opens everything up. Aldridge can also pick-and-pop with Tony Parker (and Manu Ginobili). He can knock down midrange fadeaways. There are a lot of options.

And they all work because Aldridge is Aldridge and not Duncan.