The Silver Lining

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

For many sports fans, Christmas is synonymous with the NBA. The day is almost a celebration of sorts for what the NBA has to offer. It’s biggest stars normally play and one of its most well known franchises, the LA Lakers, have been a fixture on the day since forever. While we are busy watching the games, the day also provides us a chance to examine it’s new boss, Adam Silver.

Adam Silver

Adam Silver took over as commissioner in February. During his short tenure he has been faced with some serious issues including the Donald Sterling matter and an op-ed he wrote in the New York Times where he endorsed the legalization of sports gambling in the United States.

Donald Sterling provided a quick proving ground for Mr Silver who acted swiftly and decisively. He banned Mr Sterling for life, fined him and forced the sale of his franchise. It was crisis that Mr Silver couldn’t have handled any better. While not perfect, his moves were decisive and they moved the NBA past this incident as quickly as possible.

Last month Mr Silver wrote an op-ed endorsing the legalization of sports gambling in America. A move that is bold and likely to draw significant push back from various interests. Mr Silver’s motives should be pretty clear, other parts of the world make sports betting very convenient (see the UK) and legalizing it in this country would bring millions to state coffers and probably increase engagement in all sports.

It’s also not like this isn’t already happening with Fantasy Sports. DraftKings.com and others are really just legalized sports betting but since you are not directly betting on games they sidestep just about most legal issues.

Adam Silver has made his presence felt in his short time as commissioner of the NBA. He has been bold, decisive, and unapologetic. He is a breath of fresh air in the era of the ‘my or the highway’ sports leaders like Roger Goodell and Dana White. We can only hope that he proves to be the example of what a commissioner should be moving forward.

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The Other Takeaway

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

While the sports landscape is being dominated by Donald Sterling and Michael Sam one interesting detail flew below the headlines this past weekend. The University of Texas did not have a player drafted in the NFL Draft for the first time since 1937.

Texas Longhorns

The players that were eligible for the 2014 draft were part of the 2009 recruiting class (more or less). The 2009 recruiting class at Texas ranked #3 according to ESPN and #5 according to Rivals respectively. Not one of the them was drafted by an NFL team. In fact, that class had a 31-20 record at Texas.

This should be a clear indicator as to why former Texas Head Coach Mack Brown is out of a job. It should also point to why the new Head Coach is Charlie Strong was hired on.

Coach Strong’s previous team, Louisville, had three players taken in the first round of this years draft and four overall. According to Rivals.com,  the 2009 recruiting class at Louisville ranked 77th.

That brings us to the other major take away, recruiting rankings mean nothing at the end of the day. NOTHING.

 

Respect

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

In the wake of the Donald Sterling incident, the NBA Playoffs have almost become an after thought. While it is a shame that the game itself gets overlooked, times like these also allow us to appreciate some of the things that do take place in sports. Things like the handshakes at the end of a Stanley Cup Playoff series.

Handshake

It is tradition that at the end of a playoff series the two teams line up and shake hands. It’s a tradition that pre-dates the NHL and an important one at that. It shows respect. Even players who went toe-to-toe and smashed each other into the boards over seven games still shakehands.

The world isn’t perfect and neither are sports. But we will continue to watch sports especially when respect is shown between teams. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. A handshake will do.