TIME Basketball

Manny Pacquiao Has Been Drafted by the Basketball Squad He Coaches

BASKET-BOX-PHI-PACQUIAO
Manny Pacquiao dribbles during a practice session with the Kia Motors team in Manila on August 15, 2014. Jay Directo — AFP/Getty Images

And you thought he was just a boxing legend, politician, actor and singer

Manny Pacquiao has many titles — boxing legend, third-term Congressman, movie star, pop singer and professional basketball coach.

Wait, make that basketball player-coach.

Pacman, as he’s dubbed, was picked up as a player by the Philippine Basketball Association’s Kia Motors team in the first round of Sunday’s draft, according to Sports Illustrated. There are no firm reports on how much sway Pacquiao actually has over the team’s selections, but he has been Kia’s coach since June, according to Bleacher Report.

The Internet responded to the news in jocular fashion.

The 35-year-old icon might have seen his stint as a player coming, however. One Philippine news source claimed earlier this week that the boxer-Congressman had literally dreamed about dominating the basketball court and dunking over his rivals three years ago.

Considering the welterweight is only 5 ft. 6 in. tall, the dunking part is likely to remain a dream.

TIME Basketball

Get Ready for NBA 3.0

Is India the next international basketball hot spot?

India is renowned as a country of cricket fanatics. But that hasn’t stopped the top brass of the NBA from hoping that basketball will sink deep roots into the South Asian nation of 1.2 billion people.

The Sacramento Kings’ interest in rookie Sim Bhullar, whose parents emigrated from India to Canada, may very well prove to be the game changer the NBA is looking for. Although the 7-ft. 4-in. center is not currently on the team’s 15-player roster, owner Vivek Ranadive — the first Indian-born majority owner of an NBA team — says he’s placing big hopes on the 21-year-old.

Officials and owners are hoping that Bhullar will boost the sport’s popularity with Indians, just as the entrance of Yao Ming into the NBA in 2002 led to the meteoric rise of basketball’s popularity in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

“What Yao Ming did for China, we hope players like Sim will do for India,” said Ranadive during an interview at an NBA summer league game in July. “I have this vision — I call it NBA 3.0 — where I want to make basketball the premier sport of the 21st century.”

According to the Kings’ website, Ranadive is planning to take NBA commissioner Adam Silver on a trip to India in the near future.

However, local sports journalists say several things must fall into place before basketball reaches the level of popularity envisaged by Ranadive. At present, the majority of the nation’s domestic basketball players are semiprofessionals.

“As of now, we can’t think of basketball as a profession,” Roshan Thyagarajan, a columnist for cricket bible Wisden India but also an avid basketball fan, tells TIME. “The boards, the associations are not well-oiled. Everything is out of place. So that needs to be addressed immediately.”

Nevertheless, there’s a ton of potential, with India already proving to be a formidable opponent. China might be considered the power to be reckoned with in Asia, but the Indian national team beat the PRC squad 65-58 during a historic win at FIBA 2014 in July.

Photographer Cathy Scholl has been working in India and taking an intimate look at the growing excitement around basketball and the hoop dreams of the men and women who play it. Her images, above, capture a sport making tentative steps in a nation forecast to become the world’s most populous in less than 15 years.

TIME Basketball

Watch Steve Ballmer’s Volcanic Enthusiasm Erupt at Clippers Conference

The explosion actually ranks pretty low on the richter scale of Ballmer blow-ups

+ READ ARTICLE

The Los Angeles Clippers’ cheerleaders better watch their backs, because the team’s new owner, Steve Ballmer, has enough pep to rival the squad.

Ballmer took the stage screaming during a Monday night press conference at the Staples Center, unleashing just a taste of what Microsoft employees have known for years: That this guy is a walking pom pom. On the scale of Ballmer blow-ups that periodically crop up on YouTube, his Monday night performance was relatively restrained.Ballmer in all of his glory is a sight to behold:

 

TIME Basketball

Steve Ballmer Now Officially Owns the Clippers

Microsoft Opens New Center In Berlin
Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer speaks at the opening of the Microsoft Center Berlin on November 7, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. Adam Berry—Getty Images

The deal closed shortly after a court struck down a challenge from former owner Donald Sterling

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer closed a deal to buy the Los Angeles Clippers, the National Basketball Association announced Tuesday, ending a months-long legal battle to pry the team away from disgraced former owner Donald Sterling. The deal is reportedly worth $2 billion.

“The transaction in which Steve Ballmer purchased the Los Angeles Clippers closed today following the entry of an order by a California court confirming the authority of Shelly Sterling, on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust, to sell the team,” the NBA said in a brief statement.

In an effort to block the sale of the Clippers, Donald Sterling had challenged his wife Shelley Sterling’s authority to transfer ownership of the team. But that argument was struck down in court, clearing the way for Tuesday’s transaction.

Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA for life after TMZ leaked recordings of a private conversation in which he is heard urging his girlfriend at the time to avoid associations with black people.

The Los Angeles Times reports that NBA also filed a counterclaim against Sterling and the Sterling Family Trust on Monday, demanding compensation for the “incalculable harm” the controversy has caused to the league as well as the legal costs of the subsequent investigation into Sterling’s conduct.

TIME Basketball

ESPN Suspends Radio Host For His LeBron James-Trolling Billboard

A new billboard was spotted in Akron, Ohio today. Jeremy Powell

Adding insult to injury, it was written in Comic Sans

ESPN suspended a Miami-based radio host after he erected billboards throughout Ohio to troll LeBron James.

Dan Le Batard, host of the Le Batard Show, told Miami Herald columnist Greg Cote that he was merely wreaking “fun anarchy” on James for never thanking Heat fans when he recently announced he was heading back to the Cleveland Cavliers. Le Batard put up billboards — paid for by his dad and co-host Gonzalo Le Batard — showing two championship rings under the text, “You’re Welcome, LeBron. Love, Miami.”

Adding insult to injury, the message was written in Comic Sans.

But, as Le Batard texted to Cote Thursday, “I guess ESPN didn’t find it all quite as funny as I did.”

ESPN released the following the statement: “Dan LeBatard will be off the air for two days, returning Monday. His recent stunt does not reflect ESPN’s standards and brand. Additionally, we were not made aware of his plans in advance.”

Before posting the billboards, Le Batard attempted to buy a similar full-page ad in local Ohio paper The Plain Dealer, which “politely declined” the offer. He also tried The Akron Beacon-Journal, which also said no.

This is a mock-up of the rejected newspaper ad, which leaked on Twitter:

TIME Basketball

Report: Kevin Love Will Play With LeBron James on the Cavs

Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves during a NBA game between the Charlotte Bobcats and the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Time Warner Arena on March 14, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina
Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves during a NBA game between the Charlotte Bobcats and the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Time Warner Arena on March 14, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina Don Kelly—Corbis

The Cavaliers are said to be dealing Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennet to the Timberwolves for Love

Kevin Love is headed to Cleveland, according to reports from Adiran Wojnaroski at Yahoo Sports and Brian Windhorst at ESPN.

The Minnesota Timberwolves will send Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennet and a protected 2015 first-round draft pick, those reporters write. The teams have a “handshake” agreement in which Love will opt out of his 2015 contract with the Timberwolves and sign with the Cavaliers for a five-year, $120 million-plus contract extension, NBA sources told Yahoo.

The deal can’t be completed until Aug. 23 because Wiggins, who was picked first in the 2014 NBA draft, cannot be traded until a month after signing his rookie contract. Neither team can take any legal action if one of the parties pulls out of the deal before that date.

Love will join basketball star LeBron James, who left the Miami Heat earlier this summer to return to his home state in hopes of bringing a championship to Cleveland. Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving will round out the team’s big three.

The trade positions Cleveland as a playoff finals contender in a weak Eastern Conference where the Chicago Bulls will likely be the Cavs’ main competition. Neither Love nor Irving has ever competed in an NBA playoff series.

[Yahoo Sports]

TIME Basketball

Meet the First Woman to Run a Major U.S. Pro Sports Union

Michele Roberts
An undated photo of Michele Roberts. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher—Flom LLP/AP

Michele Roberts, star Washington D.C. litigator, talks about her humble beginnings, measuring success, and her changed view on race

“I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about breaking a glass ceiling,” says Michele Roberts, the new executive director of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). She went ahead and shattered one anyway.

Roberts, who was named union chief early this week, is the first woman to head a players union for the top four U.S. pro sports leagues (basketball, football, baseball, hockey). Given the outsized impact of sports business on American culture, the importance of this appointment can’t be overstated. “Michele will inherently be a role model for girls and women aspiring to leadership roles in all sectors,” says Kathryn Olson, CEO for the Women’s Sports Foundation.

Roberts’ resume was too attractive to turn away. She was a star Washington litigator; Washingtonian magazine once named her the “finest pure trial lawyer in Washington.” Throughout her career, which began in the D.C. public defender’s office in 1980, Roberts showed an uncanny ability to connect with juries, a skill she hopes to transfer to the negotiating table.

“As a trial lawyer, you have to clarify minds, and change minds,” says Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree, who recruited Roberts to the public defender’s office. “She does the homework, and understands the arguments that need to be made. There won’t be a time when someone across the bargaining table doesn’t say, ‘Wow, I learned something.’”

During the interview process for her new high-profile gig, Roberts’ personal history helped form a bond with the players. Like some of them, she came from humble beginnings. “She could identify with us,” says Roger Mason Jr., NBPA vice president. Roberts was raised in a South Bronx housing project, and became interested in the law after seeing her older brother’s friends get sent to jail. Often, her mother told her, they couldn’t afford good representation, and it cost them.

“I’m not going to say I was proud to be poor – nobody believes that,” says Roberts. “But I’m proud that my background guided my life.” She still keeps in touch with three children – all named after her – of acquitted clients from her public defender days.

Roberts attended a prep school in the New York City suburbs, and encountered the kind of racism that was all too common at the time. “Many people hadn’t had any contact with black people,” Roberts says during a Tuesday telephone interview from Las Vegas, where the announcement of her appointment was made. “They weren’t necessarily evil, just ignorant.”

For years, this experience framed her worldview. By 1988, she was leading the trial division of the public defender’s office, and the Washington Post magazine ran an extensive profile on her. She said in that story: “I liked school, and all I wanted to do was go to school, finish up and go to college. And then I went to prep school and met these creatures: The students and some of the professors were just blatant racists. And I didn’t know anything about that before I came there. I became more aggressive in my studies, because I refused to let any of these white folks think that I was stupid. It probably has some impact on how I behave in court. Most of my opponents are white, and there’s no question that I’m more aggressive when I’m dealing with them. I am immediately suspicious of white people. I just assume, for better or worse, that they have preconceived notions about the intelligence of black people. Thankfully, I am often proved wrong, at least by people in this office.”

When asked about that comment today, Roberts doesn’t run from it: she calls it her “genuine” feeling at the time, over 25 years ago. But after working in private practice, and at prestigious white-collar firms, since those days — and while further removed from her high school experience — Roberts says her views have “evolved.” She is far from “suspicious” of white people. “The very, very goods news is that’s no longer how I see the world,” says Roberts. “And I’m happy to say that.”

She’s also delighted that the players who hired her were blind to gender. “The only question in my mind, really, was, ‘Were they unwilling to give me a chance because I was a woman?’” Roberts says. “We had so many intelligent conversations about this issue. What’s most impressive to me is, once they saw my accomplishments and the value I can add, that didn’t stop them from making the offer, even while others may have predicted otherwise.”

Roberts is used to winning, and during the last round of negotiations between the NBA and its players, the union fell short. In the collective bargaining agreement that ended the 2011 lockout, the players’ share of basketball-related income declined, from 57% to 50%. Maximum guaranteed contracts were shortened, and harsher penalties levied on teams that exceeded the salary cap. Former executive Billy Hunter was fired in February 2013, after an investigation revealed questionable business practices.

With Roberts now at the helm, the union is ready to look forward. “This is not going to be Billy Hunter vs. the NBA,” says Roberts. “This is Michele Roberts and a team of gladiators. I don’t tout that I have some magic formula. That would be a recipe for disaster.” Roberts’ competitive flair has also impressed the players. (During her public defender days, she almost got a black belt in taekwondo. “But then I had to fight two 16-year-old girls at the same time,” Roberts says. “They beat the hell out of me.”)

“I understand that there’s going to be some level of winning and losing in any big negotiation,” she says. “In the end, I want my clients to be happy. If my clients got the best deal they could under the circumstances, I would consider it a win. I would consider it a catastrophe – and it never would happen – if my clients felt shortchanged in a negotiation.”

Both players and owners can opt out of the current deal in 2017. Although Roberts is not ready to talk specific strategies and priorities during her first full day on the job, it’s not difficult to read the signals — more than likely, the players will exercise that right. “When we speak about value, of course we feel we should be getting more,” says Mason Jr. If a work stoppage were to follow, both Roberts and NBA commissioner Adam Silver, whose popularity has soared since he took a hard line against Donald Sterling, will take their hits. Fans rarely seep themselves in the mind-numbing economic details. They just want to see basketball.

For now, Roberts – a lifelong hoops fan – is still riding high. “When I got up this morning, I giggled out loud,” says Roberts. “It was still true. I got the job.” And she does feel some weight of history. “I have two nieces that I worship,” says Roberts, who has never married. “And the pride I feel when I hear how proud they are of me is tremendous. It’s important for women to break barriers. But I don’t wake up and say, ‘Let’s break some barriers today.’ I wake up and say, ‘What do I have to do to best serve my client?’ And if I happen to break some barriers along the way, God bless me.”

TIME Basketball

Judge Rules Against Donald Sterling’s Move to Block Clippers Sale

Donald Sterling
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling watches the Clippers play the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA preseason basketball game in Los Angeles on Dec. 19, 2011. Danny Moloshok—AP

Clippers sale to continue

A judge has ruled against Donald Sterling’s attempt to block the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Judge Michael Levanas sided with Donald Sterling’s estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, who negotiated the deal and pursued the court’s approval of the sale, after the NBA fined her husband $2.5 million and banned him from the sport for life for making racist comments, the Associated Press reports.

Shelly Sterling also removed her husband from the family trust following two doctors’ opinions that he had Alzheimer’s disease and was unfit to make legal decisions. Donald Sterling claims he was manipulated and “blindsided” by the medical evaluations and had another doctor attest to his mental competency. He is expected to continue to fight the sale, as he has previously vowed.

[AP]

TIME Photos

Feel Good Friday: 14 Fun Photos to Start Your Weekend

From inflatable toads to Taiwanese "frog men," here's a handful of photos to get your weekend started right

TIME Sports

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Stop Keeping College Athletes Poor and Trapped

Ed O''Bannon
Ed O'Bannon playing for the UCLA Bruins in 1995. O’Bannon, along with a few other players, is suing for players to have control over the use of their likenesses, which earn millions of dollars for the NCAA. J.D. Cuban—Getty Images

Without unions, college athletics will remain a subtle but insidious form of child abuse.

A new survey finds that 60% of incoming college football players support unions for college athletes. The horror! Were such unions allowed, our glorious cities would crumble to nothing more than shoddy tents stitched together from tattered remnants of Old Glory; our government officials would be loincloth-clad elders gathered in the rubble of an old McDonald’s passing a talking stick; our naked children would roam the urban wilderness like howling wolves, their minds as blank as their lost Internet connection. We would be without hope, dreams or a future.

Or at least that’s what you might believe based on the nuclear reaction a few months ago when a dapper man named Ramogi Huma attempted to destroy everything that America holds sacred with just such a proposal to unionize college athletes. His argument was simple: that college athletes should be classified as employees of their colleges and therefore receive certain basic benefits. He did not advocate player salaries but only programs to minimize brain-trauma risks among athletes, a raise in scholarship amounts, more financial assistance for sports-related injuries, an increase in graduation rates and several other similar goals.

You would have thought he’d proposed dressing the Statue of Liberty in a star-spangled thong.

But Huma is not alone in his assault on the NCAA’s ironfisted control of all things related to college athletics that might generate income (as befits its new motto: “If it earns, it’s ours”). Other current and former college athletes are questioning the NCAA-brand Kool-Aid. Former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, along with a few other players, is suing for players to have control over the use of their likenesses, which earn millions of dollars for the NCAA — but not a cent for the players. Another class-action antitrust suit has been filed to remove the cap on players’ compensation — currently limited to the value of the scholarship they receive plus room and board — as an illegal restraint of trade.

Predictably, the NCAA is against any scheme to get college players paid, claiming that unionizing will “completely throw away a system that has helped literally millions of students over the past decade alone to attend college.” Attend but not necessarily complete, especially if you suffer any long-term injury. Because if you don’t compete, you don’t complete.

And the NCAA has the backing from some powerful Washington politicians who, according to Senator Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), worry about strikes that will “destroy intercollegiate athletics as we know it.” Speaker of the House John Boehner (R., Ohio) also chimed in: “I haven’t looked at the specifics of this and what would be required, but having formally chaired the House Education and Workforce Committee and worked with the National Labor Relations Act for the last 30 years, I find it a bit bizarre.”

Nothing more reassuring than someone who acknowledges he hasn’t really “looked at the specifics” but has an opinion anyway.

Well, Congressman, here are some specifics:

  • Last year, NCAA March Madness made $1 billion for CBS and Turner Broadcasting.
  • The NCAA takes in more than $6 billion a year.
  • The NCAA president made $1.7 million last year.
  • The NCAA’s top 10 basketball coaches earn salaries that range from $2,200,000 to $9,682,032.

While these coaches and executives may deserve these amounts, they shouldn’t earn them while the 18-to-21-year-old kid who plays every game and risks a permanent career-ending injury gets only scholarship money — money that can be taken away if the player is injured and can’t contribute to the team anymore.

The irony is that the NCAA and other supporters claim paying athletes would sully the purity of college sports — desecrating our image of a youthful clash of school rivalries that always ends at the malt shop with school songs being sung and innocent flirting between boys in letterman jackets and girls with pert ponytails and chastity rings. In reality, what makes college sports such a powerful symbol in our culture is that it represents our attempt to impose fairness on an otherwise unfair world. Fair play, sportsmanship and good-natured rivalry are lofty goals to live by. By treating the athletes like indentured servants, we’re tarnishing that symbol and reducing college sports to just another exploitation of workers, no better than a sweatshop.

Everyone’s hope was that once these inequities were exposed, the NCAA would do the right thing. That hasn’t happened on a meaningful scale. Instead, it battles in court, issues press releases and appeals to Norman Rockwell nostalgia.

The athletes are left with the choice of crossing their fingers and hoping their fairy godmothers will persuade the NCAA to give up money that it doesn’t have to, or forming a collective bargaining group to negotiate from a place of unified strength.

Most Americans agree that the athletes are being shortchanged. A recent HuffPost/YouGov poll concluded that 51% of Americans believe that universities should be required to cover medical expenses for former players if those expenses were the result of playing for the school. A whopping 73% believe that athletic scholarships should not be withdrawn from students who are injured and are no longer able to play.

But when it comes to these same student-athletes’ forming a union, an HBO Real Sports and Marist College Center for Sports Communication poll showed 75% of Americans opposed to the formation of a college-athlete union, with only 22% for it.

Why such a difference between wanting equity and supporting the best means to achieve it? Despite 14.5 million Americans’ belonging to labor unions, we’ve always had a love-hate relationship with them.

The love: Unions can be like protective parents arguing with an arrogant teacher over their child’s unfair grade. The hate: Unions can be like bossy spouses who complain about all the work they do for you while shoveling corn chips into their maw on the La-Z-Boy.

Our relationship with college athletes is much clearer. We adore and revere them. They represent the fantasy of our children achieving success and being popular. Watching them play with such enthusiasm and energy for nothing more than school pride is the distillation of Hope for the Future.

But strip away the rose-colored glasses and we’re left with a subtle but insidious form of child abuse.

Which raises the question: How will things change?

When I was a young, handsome player at UCLA, with a full head of hair and a pocket full of nothing, I sometimes had a friend scalp my game tickets so I could have a little spending money. I couldn’t afford a car, which scholarship students in other disciplines could because they were permitted to have jobs, so I couldn’t go anywhere. I got bored just sitting around my dorm room and frustrated wandering around Westwood, passing shops in which I couldn’t afford to buy anything.

How will things change? It’s possible the NCAA will eventually capitulate to these commonsense requests, but since it hasn’t so far, the only reason it would change its mind now would be the threat of a union. Either way, the union will have caused positive change for these young athletes. But without a union, these student-athletes will be without any advocates and will always be at the whim of the NCAA and the colleges and universities that profit from them.

Abdul-Jabbar is a six-time NBA champion and league Most Valuable Player. Follow him on Twitter (@KAJ33) and Facebook (facebook.com/KAJ). He also writes a weekly column for the L.A. Register.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45,859 other followers