TIME Basketball

Timberwolves Win Draft Lottery, Lakers Move to No. 2

NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, left, congratulates Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor after the Timberwolves won the first pick in the draft, during the NBA basketball draft lottery, Tuesday, May 19, 2015, in New York.
Julie Jacobson—AP NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum, left, congratulates Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor after the Timberwolves won the first pick in the draft, during the NBA basketball draft lottery in New York City on May 19, 2015

Kobe Bryant was tweeting his support, sort of

(NEW YORK) — The Minnesota Timberwolves won the NBA draft lottery Tuesday night, the first time since 2004 the team with the worst record won the No. 1 pick.

After years of bad luck in the lottery, things finally worked out for the Wolves, who can perhaps choose between big men Karl-Anthony Towns of Kentucky and Jahlil Okafor of national champion Duke to put next to Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins.

“We’re in this for big stakes,” said Flip Saunders, the Wolves’ president and coach. “The big thing about this is getting good talent that can blend together. This is another big step.”

The Los Angeles Lakers moved from the fourth spot to second, keeping a pick they would have sent to Philadelphia if it fell outside the top five. The 76ers are third followed by the New York Knicks, who had the second-best odds of winning but instead fell to fourth 30 years after winning the first draft lottery and drafting Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing.

Not since Orlando won the right to pick Dwight Howard in 2004 had the NBA’s ultimate game of chance came out in favor of the team with the best odds. The Timberwolves had a 25 percent chance of landing the top pick after finishing 16-66.

But their fans knew not to get their hopes up after the Wolves had fallen backward eight times previously, including both times they were in the pole position, 1992 and 2011.

Several hundred fans gathered to watch on the big screen at Target Center in Minneapolis and erupted when the Lakers card came out of the envelope for No. 2, meaning Minnesota had finally earned the top pick for the first time.

“Hope is nice to have,” said Jason Vincent, a fan of the team since 2001.

The Lakers were the other big winners even without moving all the way to the top. Their pick was only protected in the top five as a condition of their trade with Phoenix for Steve Nash in 2012. That was dealt this season to the 76ers, who could have ended up with two top-six picks if the Lakers had fallen backward two spots.

Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant ended his tweet after seeing the results with #lakerluck and #goodday.

The lottery sets the top three picks. The remainder of the 14 non-playoff teams follow in inverse order of their won-loss record.

Things went according to form until the Knicks slid back two spots. General manager Steve Mills hoped history could repeat by wearing Dave DeBusschere’s Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame ring, which DeBusschere was wearing as the Knicks’ GM when they won the 1985 lottery.

The lottery began that year as a way to prevent teams from losing on purpose as a way to secure the top pick. Tanking may still exist — the 76ers have appeared to be angling for the draft with no regard for their record the last couple of seasons — but the Wolves appeared to lose honestly while battling numerous injuries with a young roster.

Their victory, with owner Glen Taylor on stage, was only the fifth time the team that finished with the worst, or tied for the worst record, won the lottery.

The Cleveland Cavaliers had won the last two and three of the previous four lotteries since LeBron James left them for Miami in 2010. But with James back home, the Cavaliers are in the Eastern Conference finals and Miami was in the lottery, and the Heat held in the No. 10 spot where they entered.

The Heat’s pick would have gone to Philadelphia if they fell out of the top 10.

MONEY Budgeting

Allen Iverson Goes Broke: 3 Timeless Money Lessons for You

Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images

An NBA legend burned through $154 million.

Poor Allen Iverson: the 11-time NBA All-Star, who earned over $154 million during his 15-season career, is reportedly in deep financial trouble. How did one of the top players in the NBA burn through so much of his fortune in such a short time?

Here are the key reasons Iverson lost control of his finances and the lessons we can learn from those missteps.

Live within your means

Over 60% of NBA players reportedly go broke within five years of retirement. Iverson, who retired from the NBA in 2010, fell right into that trap.

In his heyday, Iverson had expensive tastes. According to TMZ, his monthly expenses included $10,000 for clothes, $10,000 for groceries and household items, $10,000 for entertainment and restaurants, and $1,000 for dry cleaning. But that was just the tip the iceberg — a 2012 court filing suggested Iverson was burning through about $360,000 per month, with $126,000 going toward various creditors and mortgages. At the time, Iverson was still earning $750,000 annually from endorsements, but that was not enough to cover those crippling expenses.

The lesson here is that everyone — including the highest-paid NBA players — must live within their means. An annual income of $750,000 makes you a member of the one percent, but even earnings that high can be quickly drained by frivolous purchases. A few years into his career, Iverson deserved to enjoy the fruits of his success, but some of those most excessive indulgences, including several multi-million dollar mansions, have only added to his financial woes.

Buying stuff vs. making investments

Iverson loved to buy expensive jewelry, exotic cars, and designer clothes. But all of those things lose value over time.

High-end jewelry is sold at a premium to generic brands that contain the same precious metals or gems. All cars lose value the moment they are driven off the lot. Secondhand clothes — even high-end designer brands — are worth a fraction of their original price.

Considering the short careers of most professional athletes, Iverson could have invested just a small piece of his earnings to plan for the future. Despite the numerous investment vehicles available to superstars like Iverson, even blue-chip dividend stocks and straightforward S&P 500 index funds would have done the trick — just look at the growth of the broad market during his NBA career (1996 to 2010) and beyond:

^SPX Chart

And he certainly had the risk appetite to try his hand at building a stock portfolio — Iverson reportedly gambled away over $1 million in a single night in Atlantic City.

Money managers are not the answer

It is tempting to think Iverson might be better off today if he had let professionals handle his finances.

While certainly better than the casino floor, money managers are not always great investors. They actually pursue professional athletes so frequently that the NFL established standards for “league-approved” asset managers. According to The New York Times, however, only about 50% of NFL players use league-approved advisors. The NBA has not instituted similar requirements, although it introduced a Rookie Transition Program in 1986 to help its players make better money decisions.

At his level, Iverson could easily have paid the hefty fees and commissions of top money managers, but for the typical investor, the best investment you can make is in your own eduecation: learning about the market, how to evaluate companies, and creating a portfolio that fits your long-term financial goals. Here at The Motley Fool, we believe anyone — regardless of education level — can learn how to invest their own money without the aid of professional money managers.

Things are not all grim for Iverson

Despite these struggles, there is a silver lining to this story. Reebok, which holds a lifetime endorsement contract with Iverson, set aside a $30 million “rainy day” trust fund for him. Iverson will not see a penny of it until 2030, but it will leave him in good financial health for his golden years.

I dare say that most of us will not enjoy similar windfalls from our sponsors, and that is why it is so important to plan for the future, especially during retirement and the reduced income that comes with it.

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TIME Basketball

Watch High School Dunk Sensation Derrick Jones in Action

Like dunks? Here you go

Pennsylvania High School senior Derrick Jones is making the case that the NBA dunk contest should not be restricted to, well, NBA players.

In a video making the rounds on social media, the 6-ft. 6-in. UNLV commit not only pulls off Michael Jordan’s iconic free-throw-line jam but he one-ups the legend by adding a smooth windmill move to the mix.

Jones is considered by many to be the best dunker in high school basketball and his victory in an absolutely mind-boggling high school dunk contest in April may have cemented that status. But if out-jamming His Airness isn’t convincing enough, here some other examples the kid’s capabilities.

He’s looking down into the rim on this one.

Normal players can’t dunk over four other people, can they?

Blake Griffin and Zach LaVine better watch out; there is a new cat in town.

TIME Basketball

Warriors’ Stephen Curry Voted NBA’s Most Valuable Player

Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors shoots the ball during their game against the Memphis Grizzlies during Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals during the NBA Playoffs on May 3, 2015 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.
Ezra Shaw—Getty Images Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors shoots the ball during their game against the Memphis Grizzlies during the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California on May 3, 2015.

It wasn't a close race

(OAKLAND, Calif.) — Some called him too small. Others too fragile.

Now, Stephen Curry has a new label: NBA MVP.

The Golden State Warriors’ point guard won the league’s top individual award Monday, beating out Houston’s James Harden in a race that turned out not to be that close.

Curry received 100 of 130 first-place votes for a total of 1,198 points from a panel of 129 writers and broadcasters, along with the fan vote on the NBA’s website. Harden had 25 first-place votes and 936 points. Cleveland’s LeBron James, a four-time MVP, got five first-place votes and 552 points.

Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook (352 points) finished fourth and New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis (203 points) was fifth.

With the revitalized Warriors winning at a historic pace, Curry’s case for MVP resonated around the league as loud as the nightly chants at rowdy Oracle Arena.

Curry carried the top-seeded Warriors to a franchise-record 67 wins, surpassed his own record for most 3-pointers in a season and added to his growing reputation as one of the most entertaining spectacles in sports. He’s the franchise’s first MVP since Wilt Chamberlain in 1960, when the Warriors played in Philadelphia.

Curry was set to receive the award during an afternoon news conference Monday in Oakland. He will be presented with the hardware again during an on-court ceremony when Golden State hosts Memphis in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals Tuesday night.

Congratulations rolled in from players around the league at practices and on social media. None echoed louder than those from James, who called Curry the main reason for the Warriors’ rapid rise to championship contender.

“He’s the catalyst of that whole ship,” James said at the Cavaliers’ morning shootaround. “And I think he’s had an unbelievable season. And I think it’s very well deserved, and I think it’s great that another kid born in Akron, Ohio, can win an MVP, so, I liked it.”

Curry was born in Akron but grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he started in the shadows of his father, former NBA player Dell Curry.

Despite his famous name, most major colleges didn’t offer Curry a scholarship coming out of high school because they thought he was too small. Curry proved them all wrong, going from a shooting guard who dazzled at Davidson during the NCAA Tournament to a polished professional point guard who can shoot, dribble and distribute with the best of them.

In a game dominated by big men and played by some of the world’s greatest athletes, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Curry controls the flow without physically overpowering defenders.

But there were times when it seemed Curry’s potential might not be reached. Two operations on his right ankle in his first three seasons with Golden State fueled questions about his durability. He even had to prove his worth to the team that drafted him seventh overall in 2009.

Curry signed a $44 million, four-year contract extension with the Warriors before the 2012-13 season. Back then, the deal looked like a major risk for the Warriors considering Curry’s injury history.

Now? Well, Curry is clearly one of basketball’s best bargains.

He eclipsed his own record of 272 3-pointers set two years ago, hitting 286 from beyond the arc this season. He already owns three of the five most prolific 3-point shooting seasons in NBA history.

Curry averaged 23.8 points, 7.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds and two steals this season. He shot 48.7 percent from the floor and 44.3 percent from 3-point range.

Off the floor, his popularity is also soaring.

Curry received more All-Star votes than any player and joined James and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver at the league’s biggest marketing events during All-Star weekend in New York, where his face plastered posters in subway stations and televisions in taxi cabs. He also delivered by winning his first 3-point contest.

___

AP sports writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.

MONEY Sports

How the NFL Draft Is Un-American

NFL: 2014 NFL Draft
Adam Hunger—USA Today Sports/Reuters

In a society with a free and open labor market, shouldn't employees be able to choose where they work rather than be forced to work for the company that drafted them?

Football fans seem to like the idea of the NFL draft. (This year’s starts on Thursday evening at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre and will continue into the weekend.)

It gives them hope. Each year, the teams with the worst records get to draft young new players with (theoretically) the most talent, meaning that a bad team (theoretically) won’t forever be bad. What’s more, because the draft is supposed to promote parity and good competition, in which any team can pull out a victory on Any Given Sunday, it helps generate sustained fan interest with each coming year—and every game day during the season and playoffs.

Yet many researchers have pointed out that drafts do not achieve competitive balance, especially not in a sport like football that requires so many players on the field. (Losing teams are “rewarded” with only one legitimately great prospect in each draft.) Think about it: If high draft picks are all that is needed to turn a bad team around, how does one explain the Jacksonville Jaguars?

In any event, there is another argument to be made concerning pro sports drafts. There’s a line of thinking that says drafts are simply not fair—to the players, first and foremost—that they violate that the concept of a free labor market, and that they are therefore essentially un-American.

On the eve of the NFL draft two years ago, not one but two well-researched, well-thought-out stories published within days of each other were entitled “Abolish the NFL Draft.” The Reason.com post noted, “The sports draft is an anomaly of the American labor market.” After all, “In most industries new hires are free to seek employment wherever there’s an opening.” Yet an aspiring employee who wants to play in the NFL is able to negotiate a contract with only the team that has drafted him.

As the far more irreverent “Abolish the NFL Draft” post published at Sports on Earth put it, “If the human resources department of your company came up with the idea of a draft, they’d be fired on the spot.” Without the draft—described as an “industry-wide system that prevents potential employers and employees from freely selecting each other”—”pro football will start to look like the real world,” in which firms and potential employees would court each other and all parties would have the freedom to make choices.

As things currently stand, draftees have no such freedom to decide where they want to work. They also face tons of other restrictions, including how old they must be before they’re eligible to be drafted (i.e., be hired for what they do and earn money), and how much money they can earn due to NFL collective bargaining agreements severely limiting the salaries of young players. College football is routinely described as a “free farm system” and an “unpaid farm system” for the NFL, in that young players who aspire to professional football careers have no choice but to work (yes, it’s work) without compensation until they’re deemed old enough to be drafted.

Basketball players seeking employment in the NBA face essentially the same set of restrictions—restrictions that are, again, unheard of in virtually every other line of work. A story in the new issue of The Atlantic about Michele A. Roberts, the new head of the NBA players union, noted that the league utilizes “a litany of anticompetitive measures—the draft and the salary cap, as well as a de facto prohibition on new franchises and an age minimum, which essentially allows owners to postpone signing players while they develop in the unpaid minor league that is Division I college basketball.”

“Talented people and prestigious institutions generally get the pick of the litter,” an ESPN post about the NBA draft explained. “This is how the labor market works… But it’s not how it works in the NBA, where the most gifted young players are assigned through the draft to teams, regardless of personal preferences or market value.” Think about how the draft scenario differs compared to how companies normally woo and hire prized prospective employees:

Would we tell the a once-in-a-lifetime engineering grad who wants to negotiate a position and salary at the top tech firm in the Silicon Valley, “No, actually, you’re required to work for the sector’s laughingstock, a company managed by incompetents with no clear vision of the future — at a fixed salary that’s set by a third party.” Yet this is the governing philosophy every spring when the NBA distributes members of the incoming draft class to the league’s 30 teams.

Age restrictions in the NFL and NBA are partly intended to stop young, and presumably naïve, athletes from making bad decisions and ruining their chances to get college degrees. One law journal makes the counterargument this way: “Eighteen-year-old high school graduates who wish to pursue a professional career in these leagues are barred from doing so, even though they can vote, as well as fight and die for their country.”

In The Atlantic story, Roberts, the NBA union executive director, says that the idea that a worker should accept wages below market value is just plain “un-American.”

A more “American” sports league would have a free and unfettered labor market, with no draft, no team or player salary caps, and no age restrictions. The irony is that just such a league exists, only it’s in Europe, and the sport is one that is often criticized as low-scoring and not American enough: soccer. It’s the English Premier League, which like most European soccer leagues has no draft or salary. And for better or worse, the EPL has been known to welcome players as young as 16 years old.

TIME Basketball

NBA Will Begin Testing Players for HGH Next Season

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver during a press conference in New York City on April 13, 2015.
Alex Goodlett—Getty Images NBA Commissioner Adam Silver during a press conference in New York City on April 13, 2015.

Three violations will result in banishment from the league

The NBA will begin testing players for human growth hormone, the league announced Thursday.

Testing will begin next season and players will be subject to three random, unannounced tests each year, in addition to “reasonable cause testing,” the NBA said. Two of the three tests will be administered during the season and one will be done in the offseason.

Players will be suspended 20 games for their first positive test and 45 games for a second failed test. A third violation results in banishment from the league.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in an interview with GQ in November that instituting HGH testing was a priority.

Testing for HGH was introduced by the NFL in 2014 and by MLB in 2013. The World Anti-Doping Agency, which handles Olympic testing, first began testing for HGH at the 2006 Torino Games.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told USA Today in 2013 that the NBA should consider allowing HGH use as a means to help players more quickly recover from injuries.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME NBA

So Stephen Curry Just Made 77 Three-Pointers in a Row During Practice

Heat vs. Warriors
El Nuevo Herald—MCT/Getty Images Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry shoots over Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers during the first quarter at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014.

Nothing but net. Again and again. And you can say "again" 75 more times

It’s no secret that Stephen Curry is one of the most devastatingly accurate and effective shooters in the NBA, but the Golden State Warriors superstar showed what goes into his seemingly effortless long-range jumper during a Tuesday practice session.

A video on ESPN shows the end of a sequence where the MVP front-runner hit 77 consecutive shots from beyond the arc.

You read that right — 77 shots in a row. Note his cry of anguish when he finally misses.

He also made 94 out of the 100 total shots he took. Because he’s Stephen Curry.

[ESPN]

TIME Basketball

The NBA Is Going to Cuba for a Basketball Clinic

The trip is being organized as part of the Basketball Without Borders program

The NBA is taking a team to the Cuban capital, Havana, for a four-day basketball clinic, the New York Times reports.

Under the auspices of the Basketball Without Borders program, the NBA will coordinate with the International Basketball Federation to bring Spanish-speaking players to meet their Cuban counterparts. Among those in attendance will be former point guard Steve Nash, ex-center Dikembe Mutombo and retired WNBA All-Star Ticha Penicheiro, along with NBA executives.

The news comes in the wake of the recent thawing of U.S.-Cuba relations.

“We’ve seen the bridges that basketball can build between cultures,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum told the Times.

Two Cuban-born players have competed briefly in the NBA: Lazaro Borrell (with Seattle from 1999 to 2000) and Andres Guibert (Minnesota, 1993 to 1995). The sport itself has been played in Cuba for decades, with the women’s team particularly successful, coming first in the 2013 Americas competition.

The clinic will run from April 23 to 26.

[NYT]

 

TIME Basketball

Watch J.R. Smith Make an Insane Half-Court Shot to Beat the Halftime Buzzer

And that wasn't even his team's craziest shot of the night

The Cleveland Cavaliers dominated from beyond the arc against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night, making 16 3-pointers in a 99-94 home victory.

Half of those threes came from guard J.R. Smith, including an amazing shot from way, way out — 40 feet or just inside the Bulls’ half, to be exact — just as the halftime buzzer went off.

A flailing Smith collapsed into one of the courtside seats right after the shot went in, and then got up and took a bow (who wouldn’t?).

That wasn’t even the furthest three-point buzzer-beater of the game, oddly enough, as Smith’s teammate Kyrie Irving sank one from 52 feet to beat the shot clock in the third quarter.

As Irving and LeBron James’ shrugs indicate, it was just one of those games.

TIME NBA

NBA Star Steve Nash Announces His Retirement

Steve Nash
Lisa Blumenfeld—Getty Images Steve Nash of the Los Angeles Lakers drives the ball upcourt during a game against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center on Feb. 11, 2014 in Los Angeles.

He averaged 14.3 points, 8.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game

Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash announced his retirement from the NBA on Saturday after 18 seasons.

The 41-year-old hinted at retirement earlier this month when he told TSN Radio 1040 in Vancouver, “the NBA game is just a touch too far for me.”

• ​Remembering Michael Jordan’s first comeback 20 years ago

In October, it was announced that Nash would miss the entire 2014-15 season due to recurring nerve damage in his back.

The two-time MVP last appeared in 15 games for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2013-14 and previously said he expected this season to be his last.

Nash wrote a post about his retirement for The Player’s Tribune.

https://mobile.twitter.com/SteveNash/status/579348421624000512

Nash appeared in 1,217 games for the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Lakers. He averaged 14.3 points, 8.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game and holds a 49% career field goal percentage and a 42.8% three-point percentage.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

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