The Spurs Team Doctors Will See You Now

By Bre Moorer

Former Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (below right) is now a Toronto Raptor.  The 2019 NBA free agency run this summer was rocky for the California native.  For the 2017-18 season, Leonard played fewer than 10 games due to an injury that team doctors in San Antonio missed.  At least that is what the reason was early on.

An injury to Leonard’s right thigh kept him out of 2017-18 preseason play, the season-opener, and the first 2 months of NBA action.  It should be known that Leonard was a major part of the San Antonio Spurs organization.  The former San Diego State standout lead the Spurs to their fifth championship in 2014, in addition to winning NBA Finals’ MVP for his outstanding performance.  How did he only play 9 games last season?  Shortly after his limited-minute comeback against the Dallas Mavericks in December, Leonard felt that he was being rushed back.

Leonard is known for his quiet and private personality, but fans could tell he did not feel confident playing yet.  Sometimes Leonard suited up, but most of the time he took a night or two off.  Leonard took it upon himself to travel to New York to get a second opinion on his injury.  He felt like he should have been 100% by then.  NBA analysts wondered why he would embarrass the Spurs staff by refusing the services offered to him for free and in his own backyard.  Leonard was portrayed by the media as bratty and just another professional athlete who was not patient enough after an injury. Sports reporter and well-known Spurs fan Michelle Beadle said Leonard did not have the qualities that a leader is supposed to have.  She even went as far as saying that he is coming off as an “obnoxious diva.”  Leonard took verbal beat-downs from fans, journalists, and social media for not playing and refusing to work with the Spurs team doctor.  Of course, the reserved NBA All-Star did not publicly defend himself, but his decisions would become clear to critics after teammate Danny Green told all.

Just like Leonard, Danny Green (above left) was traded from the Spurs to the Toronto Raptors this summer.  Seemingly before the ink could dry on his Toronto contract, Green said that his end-of-the-season physical examination revealed a torn groin that went undetected by Spurs staff, which lead to Green getting a second opinion while he was still a Spur.  Maybe it is because of the difference in personalities or the fact that Green still managed to play through his injury, but the general public was not as hard on Green for going elsewhere for treatment.  His Twitter mentions were filled with users that claimed getting another opinion on injuries is very common.  It was even discussed on ESPN that Green’s undetected injury may let Leonard’s actions off the hook.  In other words, now that Danny Green had a problem with the Spurs staff, we can believe Kawhi Leonard.

However you look at it, there is an issue that needs to be fixed in San Antonio.  It could be negligence or innocent lack of knowledge, but it is costing players their reputations, health, and market value.

WNBA All Star Gameday

By Don Collins
Today, the WNBA has its All Star Game. I’ve only had the pleasure of attending one WNBA game in my life and it was awesome. The game I attended was on Saturday, July 7, 2018 and featured the Chicago Sky and the Minnesota Lynx at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois.
Wintrust

Outside of the Wintrust Arena. Chicago, Illinois

I decided to go to this specific game because the G.O.A.T., Maya Moore, was coming to town. Moore, who is also an All-Star this season, happens to be one of my favorite players of all time so I literally got chills seeing her warm up.
This game, which resulted in a Sky victory, really opened my eyes to how fun the WNBA games are. One of the things that I noticed was how involved the league is with the community and the sponsors. Not that the other leagues aren’t involved, but the community appeal was at the forefront of my experience and I absolutely loved every second.
Looking forward to the game this afternoon, I think that we’re in for a real treat. This year’s event will be like none other. The media presence for this game has really been ramped up. The number of cameras has been increased, the players will be mic’d up and there will be locker room access galore.
The one thing that I’ve learned is that the media plays a vital role in getting people who are interested to watch, but more importantly, the media can attract new fans to the sport. The good news, according to wnba.com, is that viewership is up 38% in the first-half.  Hopefully, the trend can continue after people tune in to watch this game that tips off at 3:30 p.m. (ET).
Reference
Star-studded Verizon WNBA All-Star Game 2018 on ABC airs Saturday. (2018, July 25).  WNBA.com. Retrieved from http://www.wnba.com/news/star-studded-verizon-wnba-all-star-game-2018-on-abc-airs-saturday/ 

Good On You, Liz Cambage!

By Bre Moorer

The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) will have its 19th annual All-Star Game at the Target Center in Minnesota, where the home team Lynx won the championship against the Los Angeles Sparks last season.  The game is on Saturday, July 28 at 3:30 pm ET as Team Parker takes on Team Delle Donne.  Maya Moore earned the Verizon WNBA All-Star MVP trophy last year, but this year all eyes will be on the woman from Down Under – Liz Cambage.

Elizabeth “Liz” Cambage has been a professional since 2008, as she took part in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL).  The 6ft 8 in center was drafted 2nd overall by the Tulsa Shock, now the Dallas Wings, in 2011.  She even represented Australia in the Olympic Games in 2012.  Although the 26-year-old has had an eventful and successful career, something happened on Tuesday, July 17 that fans of basketball will remember for a long time.

In a 104-87 home win against the New York Liberty, Cambage scored a record-setting 53 points for all of Twitter and women’s basketball fans around the world to watch.  In addition to her whopping 53 points, Liz had 10 rebounds and 5 blocks.  Before Cambage, the WNBA record for most points in a game was 51.  That record was held by Riquna Williams, who also played for the Tulsa Shock, but is now a member of the Los Angeles Sparks.  As the Wings pulled away from the Liberty in the 4th quarter, every sports site had their article ready to publish about Cambage’s special performance.

Just to name a few, Bleacher Report, CBS, Ballislife, SB Nation, The New York Times, ESPNW, and Sports Illustrated expressed their amazement in Cambage with tweets and articles.  NBA player Kevin Durant left a comment on Instagram that suggested we all are witnessing Liz’s “era of dominance.”  During her post-game interview, Cambage addressed those who doubted her ability to play in the American league.  She mentioned her “big numbers” in other leagues and ended the interview with, “I guess this game is for y’all.”  The attention that Liz is getting comes at a time when WNBA players and fans are asking for more attention and support for the league. If making history does not do it, then what will?

The WNBA’s Low Pay in the Age of Social Media

By Bre Moorer

For the past couple of months, WNBA stars have been more outspoken than usual about the pay gap.  Or maybe they have always shared their thoughts, but did not get as much attention as they are getting now.  It could be because they can just type their thoughts out in 140 characters or less and simply hit a button that shows their message to millions of people.  That has been an option for years, but why are the fed up women of the professional basketball league seemingly being heard now more than ever?  With the help of social media, specifically Twitter, the low salaries in the WNBA are back in the spotlight this summer, but this time it feels different.

To get the discussion started this time around, Skylar Diggins-Smith of the Dallas Wings appeared on ESPN’s Get Up on May 28th to address the issue with Jalen Rose and Michelle Beadle.  Jalen directed his frustration toward the NBA by saying they need to do a better job of “dedicating resources to help promote” the women’s league since the WNBA is a “subsidiary of the NBA.”  While Diggins-Smith did not flat out agree with Jalen’s point about the NBA being responsible for WNBA players not getting paid as much, she did bring up the fact that “it’s all about exposure.”  In the same breath, the fearless leader of the Dallas Wings also mentioned social platforms should be better utilized.  She recommended showing more games on Twitter.  The South Bend legend’s comments inspired her peers to express themselves without regret.

In the wake of LeBron James signing a 4-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers for a whopping $153.3 million, rookie sensation A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces took to Twitter to “congratulate” King James.

While some Twitter users backed Wilson, most users bombarded the 1st overall pick in the 2018 draft with reasons as to why they think she should get back in her lane.  One person said ratings are too low for the women hoopers to get more money, to which Wilson responded it is more than just viewings.  A couple of users tweeted that if she was as good as LeBron, then she would earn more.  The power forward laughed at those tweets for the most part, but she did say to one troll that bench players in the NBA get paid more than starters in the WNBA – eliminating the arguments that the pay gap is about skill set.  Perhaps the most popular argument against the WNBA getting paid more is the NBA bringing in more revenue than the WNBA.  The 2017 NCAA champion had a response for that too.  She said that the NBA gets more of a percentage of the revenue they bring in than the women so it is still unfair regardless of how much revenue is brought in.  Wilson spent a whole weekend defeating Internet trolls in the beginning of July. She ended her run by hoping that the men in her mentions had daughters who want to play basketball so that they can grasp where she is coming from.  She was “glad to stir the pot.”

This past weekend, NBA superstar Damian Lillard watched A’ja Wilson’s Las Vegas Aces and the Connecticut Sun work.  He was obviously impressed by what he saw and backed Wilson’s call for equal pay.  By the end of the game, a video of Lillard revealing his thoughts on the lack of respect WNBA players get was trending on Twitter.

In Lillard’s opinion, the women as individuals should be treated as the pros they are as far as salaries go and their league deserves to be exalted.  Having someone like Damian Lillard, who is a 3-time NBA All-Star, could start a trend of NBA players speaking up in support of WNBA players getting paid more.

After all is said and done, the WNBA is in need of support and exposure in order for its players to get what they deserve in the first place – more money.  As long as the women continue to use their platforms and their male counterparts actively show their love for the WNBA, the future looks bright for equal pay between the NBA and WNBA.

Dear Maya

Dear Maya,

Thank you. Thank you for being an inspiration. It goes deeper than basketball. I could talk all day about your career accolades. The rings, the stats, the awards. I could go on for days about it. But you already know that. As one of my favorite athletes, you have always captivated me with your abilities on the court. You represent something much more than basketball to me.

You’re hope. I think one of the most impactful things I’ve ever experienced was a sport and gender class last year. I learned so much more about the plight of the woman athlete. It was truly eye-opening, but it also made me more conscious than ever about what people say. I see the nasty things people say on message boards and comments. The Internet provides people the space to do so anonymously and without consequence. Yet you press on. It’s bigger than that.

I see the impact of representation. Your Jordan commercial was something to behold. The wave of kids you inspired from using your platform in such a way is uniquely special. Count myself in as well. I see visions of a world being shaped by our current-day athletes that will allow me to tell my children they can do anything. That nothing can hold them back. As athletes, whether you think it’s fair, you all have an enormous reach. I want to thank you for being a great role model.

I wrote an article a while back [See: “Why can’t I buy a WNBA jersey?” on this site]. I was griping about not being able to purchase your jersey that day. I should have been a bit more patient as the next day it was available on the team store. However, I am a man of my word. Today, I’ll be rocking one of my favorite player’s threads seeing her play for the first time in person. Please try not to give out too many buckets today against the Sky. They are still my hometown team.

You’re a walking legend. On and off the court. And for that, I thank you.

Sincerely,

Don Collins

Why Can’t I Buy A WNBA Jersey?

By Don Collins

The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) season tipped off Friday night, May 18 at 10 pm ET. The match-up featured the Dallas Wings vs. the Phoenix Mercury, with the Mercury winning, 86-78. This year marks the 22nd year of existence for the WNBA. Let me be the first to say that last year’s Final was compelling and awesome. Here’s to another successful season.

If I have any gripes about the 2018 season, it is that I sought to purchase the jersey of one of my favorite basketball players of all time: Minnesota Lynx forward, Maya Moore.

maya-moore-lynx

Minnesota Lynx Forward Maya Moore

Let me clarify. I could not purchase an officially licensed jersey from the WNBA team store. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to order some poorly made jersey from eBay and hope that the stitching stays together. It wasn’t just Moore’s jersey that was unavailable. Almost every player in the league was missing their threads online, save for a few.

My problem became something I wanted to write about because I was curious and decided to make my way to the NBA G League page just to compare. Granted, there was an absence of replica jerseys there as well, but I could purchase a customizable jersey for the team I searched.

I’m not naïve, I know that the revenue for the G League and the WNBA isn’t the same as the NBA, but to be fair, I DON’T CARE. These are the premiere women athletes and yeah, I want the option to purchase a Maya Moore jersey. And Elena Delle Donne’s. And Skylar Diggins-Smith’s. And Candace Parker’s. I think you get it.

At the time of this writing, there very well could be a plan of action in place to create the apparel. If so, then alright, I’m ecstatic. But if not, I think Nike needs to get on it and expand the line. I’m talking jerseys, hats, t-shirts, etc. I’m going to one of the two games the Lynx play in Chicago this year against the Chicago Sky and even though my hometown team  is hosting (and I want them to be successful), I would much appreciate rocking my #23 jersey.

Did The Toronto Raptors Fix Their Problem?

By Don Collins

The Toronto Raptors have relieved Dwane Casey of his duties as head coach. The team made the move after the sweep at the hands of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Another year of not advancing past James and company apparently was enough to hand the coach his pink slip. After winning 320 games in seven seasons, I wonder what Toronto is going to do to upgrade from Casey.

Look, I get it, you probably should not get swept by this current iteration of the Cavs, but this feels like a knee-jerk reaction. After posting 59 wins and being the number one seed in the Eastern conference, to fire your coach because his team succumbed to the greatest player of all time is not the course of action I would take. Is it not better to allow the team to learn from this most recent loss? Or is three years of falling to James enough? I don’t cut the checks, but some factors must be examined.

My concern for the Raptors is that they won’t find the greener pastures they are seeking. Recently, several franchises have experienced various degrees of success in replacing a successful coach with a new one to try to reach the pinnacle of the NBA. In this case, I see more of what the Chicago Bulls did with Tom Thibodeau than what the Golden State Warriors did with Steve Kerr.

This is a team that, for better or for worse, must try to figure it out when it comes to LeBron James. They are not swimming in cap space so unless a trade comes, they will have to rely on the duo of Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan to figure it out. I’m not too sure a leadership change from the most successful coach in team history was necessary. Allowing continuity to improve a team with a deep roster without clear on-the-court upgrades surely was an option and I wonder why it was not chosen. For the time being, LeBron is still the mental hurdle the group must overcome regardless of who is in charge.

In the past few days, the Raptors surely discussed how they could reclaim Toronto from the vice grip LeBron has on their prospects for a championship. Firing the coach is one way to try and fix the problem and it is common with a lot of teams. A new voice may be able to get better out of the same ingredients, but it’s a calculated risk that could be deemed unnecessary if the new coach experiences a decrease in success.

Casey did a wonderful job during his time in Toronto. His tenure is not defined by failed expectations but rather by exceeded ones. Championship or bust is a reality in the NBA, but that mentality can be the untimely demise of an entire era of a team.