Skip to content Skip to footer

How to get The Shoe Surgeon’s Nike Ridge Top sneaker

Several head-nods later, I must say, The Shoe Surgeon has created a one-of-a-kind kick in the Nike Ruffles Ridge Top sneaker. Luckily, I was able to get the limited edition pair of fly sneaks ahead of the drop to test them out and flex on the NYC streets.

Get your hands on this exclusive pair of sneakers by entering for a chance to win at (click here).

Arriving at my crib, one could say the hype I felt was like none other. In 2019, The Shoe Surgeon worked with NBA champion Anthony Davis to bring the first rendition of this collab to life. The sneaker was received by the culture and sold out immediately, so it’s an honor to say I now own the follow-up pair of limited-edition sneakers.

All in all, that first drop was something special but this release is even better. We actually caught a glimpse of the Nike Ruffles Ridge Top shoe at the end of a Ruffles Without Ridges commercial that went live earlier this year in February.

Wait till the end…

We caught another glimpse of The Shoe Surgeon’s craftmanship again in March

It seems like food-inspired collabs are becoming The Shoe Surgeon’s specialty. From a Chips A-hoy drop on NTWRK to the Jack Daniel’s Honey sneaker release, there’s no stopping this customizer’s creativity.

Unboxing the Nike Ruffles Ridge Top sneaker was the best part. Rushing downstairs to meet the UPS man and absolutely grabbing the drip out of his hands I hustled upstairs to see “what was really good.”

Taped up to the edges I carefully applied pressure with a box cutter feeling that this cardboard box was nothing but a façade to protect these special sneakers.

A white covering designed with royalty in mind revealed itself… I hollered in ecstatic hypeness. My roommates did the same.

All Hail The Magic Conch GIFs | Tenor

The smooth covering came off quickly and revealed the real box with a gold stamp of approval, The Shoe Surgeon’s insignia. Folding the box back, the sneaker concept blueprints were mapped out on the underside of the top flap.

This was an intricate design. From the metal eyelet speed hooks to the laser engraved Ruffles sole and strap buckle, it was easy to see that this sneaker was pieced together with creative care in mind.

limited edition Nike Ruffles Armored Ridgetop
Photo Courtesy:
ruffles sneaker bottom
Photo Courtesy:
shoe surgeon
Photo Courtesy:

Peeking through the neatly tucked tissue paper, the Nike Ruffles Ridge Top sneaker’s silver finish and gold swoosh glimmered across the water in my eyes. A slight sparkle twinkled as I pulled the shoe out of the box and felt the sneakers canvas.

Smooth to the touch, I dragged my fingers over the manguard overlay and extended chainmail collar before reaching the ridged removable lace cover. Removing the lace cover (twas a little too much for me) a gray set of laces with gold tips were woven into the sneaker’s eyelets.

Going back to the sneaker box I would find a secondary pair of black laces with gold tips. A couple of seconds would go by until I realized I had to slide them on.

Nike Ruffles Armored Ridgetop
Photo Courtesy:

Lacing them up was a little difficult as the gold tips were a little too big for the eyelets. Regardless, I couldn’t wait to get these on my feet. Slidding into this shoes DMs my feet fit perfectly and the extended chainmail collar made the transition very easy.

The wear was very cozy and the additional ankle support goes a long way in keeping the drip together.

shoe surgeon ruffles
Photo Courtesy:

But how do you get the Nike Ridge Top sneaker tho?

Don’t want to miss out on your chance to get a pair of The Shoe Surgeon’s latest kicks? Keep your ear and eyes to the digital streets.

Fans will have the opportunity to get their hands on an exclusive pair of these sneakers by entering for a chance to win a pair at where Ruffles will select 10 lucky winners. 

#OwnYourRidges and turn those post notifications on!

NBA season preview: 10 reasons to be hyped for in the 2020/2021 season

As NBA training camps are set to begin on December 1st, it is officially time for a NBA season preview. With the draft and free agency in the rear-view mirror, most rosters are practically set. 

Here are ten things we are so excited to see this upcoming NBA season.

The NBA champions retool 

The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off of a rather dominant playoff performance last year. The scary part is that they may have actually gotten even better. While on paper that may seem like they lost some key guys, they were able to greatly upgrade their talent.. 

The addition of Wesley Matthews gives them a solid Danny Green replacement for a fraction of his price. They snagged last season’s Sixth Man of the Year in Montrezl Harell from the rival Clippers and added the runner up in Dennis Schroder.

They re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and to top it off, added NBA champion and former Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol. 

The Lakers retooled around LeBron James and Anthony Davis by forming possibly the best roster in the league. It’s hard to pick any other team as the favorite heading into the season. This team won the offseason, and thus stand firmly first in our NBA season preview.

The Nets are finally healthy

The Brooklyn Nets won last year’s offseason by signing Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. The only issue was that Kevin Durant was coming off a torn achilles and missed the entire season while Irving only played 20 games.

The Nets supporting cast led by Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie were still able to get them into the playoffs.

With both superstars expected to be fully healthy at the start of the season, the Nets pose a threat to any team in the league.

Any team with two superstars like Irving and Durant deserves to have their name as a contender. The only question that stands is whether or not they can stay healthy. 

Steph Curry is back

Stephen Curry is unquestionably one of the league’s best and most exciting players. His return should have vaulted the Warriors back into the title conversation, but Klay Thompson’s torn achilles tendon greatly hurts those odds. 

We may get the chance to see a fully unleashed Curry this season. He is the only proven consistent scoring threat on the roster and with Curry only playing in five games last season, there’s no doubt he will be hungry to get back on the court. 

Will the Rockets implode or improve? 

The Rockets seemed to be on the verge of completely breaking up. James Harden and Russell Westbrook both reportedly want out. Mike D’Antoni is now an assistant coach in Brooklyn and longtime GM Daryl Morey is in Philly.

They also traded away one of the most useful defenders in the league in Robert Covington. 

However it may be possible that the Rockets actually improved this offseason and thus in our NBA season preview. The signing of underrated big man Christian Wood and new head coach Stephen Silas should bring about more balance to their iso-heavy offense. And new, younger energy to a team that desperately needs it.

If the Rockets are able to get anything from former all-star DeMarcus Cousins, they will consider that signing a success. At this point it seems more likely than not that Harden and Westbrook will be in Houston this season. If they are able to buy-in, the Rockets could be a problem for other teams.

Is this Giannis’ last season in Milwaukee?

One of the biggest storylines of the NBA season’s preview and upcoming season will be whether or not the Bucks will be able to convince the back-to-back MVP to re-sign long-term. The team made a huge trade to bring in Jrue Holiday.

They almost signed sharpshooter Bogdan Bogdanovic, but the deal fell through. Still, a big three of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday is one that can easily be seen holding up a championship at the end of the season. If Giannis takes his game to another level in the ‘offs that is.

Did the Clippers take a step back or a step forward?

The Clippers were able to solve two of their biggest issues this offseason by trading for the versatile Luke Kennard and signing big man Serge Ibaka.

Kennard adds a much needed playmaker and Ibaka gives them a big who can protect the rim and spread the floor. While they lost Montrezl Harrell, Ibaka is a much better fit for this team around Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Many fans may be down on the Clippers after last season’s playoffs, the talent level they can put on the court keeps them in the title conversation.  

A fun and exciting rookie class 

There are a bunch of rookies this season that will be in prime position to perform. LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman, Anthony Edwards, Obi Toppin, and Killian Hayes are all expected to have large roles almost immediately.

This year’s draft may lack a clear-cut superstar, but it makes up for it in how deep it was. Expect a few surprises to come from those drafted in the late first round and second round. 

Which stars will get traded this season?

James Harden? Russell Westbrook? Bradley Beal? Victor Oladipo? Blake Griffin? These are all names that have been linked in trade rumors.

In today’s NBA, if a player wants out, they usually get their way. It’s easy to envision a scenario where any of these players get shipped to a new team. The only question is who and to where? 

Are the Sixers legit? 

There’s no question last season’s Sixers were one of the biggest disappointments of the league. 

They signed questionable fits Tobias Harris and Al Horford to massive contracts. They changed that around this offseason by acquiring the number one thing they were missing: shooting.

Al Horford is now gone and the Sixers brought in proven shooters in Seth Curry and Danny Green and veteran big man Dwight Howard. These pieces fit their franchise cornerstones Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons much better. However the question remains, are the Sixers for real? 

Teams that can surpass expectations

There are several teams that will be looking to take the next step. The Phoenix Suns added Chris Paul after their undefeated run in the bubble came up short. They are poised to make the playoffs next season.

The Atlanta Hawks added some proven talent around all-star point guard Trae Young. Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Rajon Rondo and their strong frontcourt should push the Hawks back into the playoffs. 

The Blazers had one of the best offseasons. They added Robert Covington, Enes Kanter and Derrick Jones Jr. They re-signed Carmelo Anthony and Rodney Hood. Health permitting, expect the Blazers to have a strong season.

Ultimately, there is a bevy of things to be excited for this upcoming season. That is why our NBA season preview comes dripping with intrigue, salivating with excitement, and exploding with questions. 

From the court to the field: Klutch Sports plans their NFL takeover

The mighty force that is Klutch Sports has just gotten even stronger.

Rich Paul’s Klutch Sports Group has worked out a deal to acquire Damarius Bilbo’s Revolution Sports.

Bilbo will head Klutch’s football division, already having signed top prospects Chase Young and Jeff Okudah. Plus, current NFL standouts Jarvis Landry and Alvin Kamara.

Damarius Bilbo is not just an addition to Klutch. He is an integral piece of an expansion that will give Klutch Sports an even bigger foothold into the world of athletics and entertainment.

Already having set the bar, Klutch is continuing to change the way agents and athletes coexist and use their respective platforms.

Klutch Sports was started in 2012 by Rich Paul, a longtime friend and close confidant of NBA superstar LeBron James.

Since then, Paul has grown his brand and cemented his status as a smart and innovative agent, and now has a multitude of NBA stars and veterans signed under Klutch.

Among these names with LeBron are Ben Simmons, Anthony Davis, John Wall, and Draymond Green.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Rich Paul (@richpaul) on

The power that Rich Paul has amassed in the NBA over such a short period of time has scared the establishment. The powers that be over the last several decades sat idly by and watched as their superstar players raked in money for them.

But Paul came in and flipped the script.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by There’s more to life. (@kulturehub) on

NBA players have more power now than ever. Now owners actually have to do right by their players, and if they don’t? They’ll force their way out like Anthony Davis.

Paul came under scrutiny by a litany of NBA personnel for orchestrating Davis’ departure from the New Orleans Pelicans.

The moniker #KlutchMafia was used by haters and fans alike to describe the power that the agency holds. But Paul was only doing right by his client in Davis, and is that not exactly what agents are supposed to do?

Now Klutch Sports enters into the realm of the NFL, a league where players hold significantly less power than players in the NBA. The NFL is about the team, the shield, an entity bigger than the player themselves. But Bilbo sees it a bit differently.

“Football is a game that’s played with a helmet. It hides your identity. It hides certain expressions. It hides certain things you say. But the helmet has to come off. You’re not in the helmet 24/7.”

Citing his client Alvin Kamara and his individuality, Bilbo further told GQ, “You have very few players like the Alvin Kamaras of the world, that are not afraid of being themselves.

He continued, “I think when players start to see that, they start to follow suit and say, ‘Look, I’m different. I’m not like everybody else. I can play football, but I’m just not a football player…

“I’m more than an athlete.'”

Empowering athletes is what Klutch Sports is all about. With the news of Bilbo and Revolutionary Sports’ inclusion into Klutch Sports, NFL owners are not just a little bit shook.

In Bilbo’s interview with GQ, he also spoke up about how the NFL could have used the Kaepernick-kneeling situation to its benefit.

“It’s no different than the NFL and breast cancer. ‘Think pink.’ They turned a whole month into something that benefits people across the world with breast cancer. The NFL could have easily taken what Colin Kaepernick did and turned it into a whole month, done programs around it, no different than they did with breast cancer.”

Bilbo stressed how owners are the ones with power, the ones that can make changes, but, aside from Jerry Jones, owners don’t really speak up on issues, and if they did, people wouldn’t really listen.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Klutch Sports Group (@klutchsports) on

Players have the public’s attention, and they should be encouraged to speak up. It is their ethical right. Additionally, it would be mutually beneficial for both the players’ and NFL’s brands.

“So train the players on how to address certain issues. They need to meet with someone inside the organization, [to talk about] what they’re passionate about and what difference they want to make as community leaders,” said Bilbo.

He continued, “When you look at guys like LeBron—and the roster that Rich has with Klutch—that’s the message he sent and that’s what will continue to be done.”

Klutch Sports is the poster child for athletes getting their full worth, positing the position that athletes are more than their sport, and encouraging athletes to use their platform and power to promote positive change in their communities.

Damarius Bilbo’s addition to the Klutch brand should be a warning sign for the NFL and a welcome sign for sports fans. Change is coming, and Paul and Bilbo don’t care if you like it.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Rich Paul (@richpaul) on

The New Orleans Pelicans can thank Anthony Davis for their bright future

The New Orleans Pelicans are big winners after last night’s NBA draft. The Pelicans are slated to enter the 2019-2020 season with Zion Williamson, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Jahlil Okafor, and Texas center Jaxson Hayes.

That is an absurdly talented young nucleus, and throw in Jrue Holiday, a premier two-wing veteran guard, and the Pelicans have the chance to be a playoff team in Zion’s first year.

Think of all the lobs. Think of all the highlights. Think of all the celebrations for a team that has won only two playoff series in 17 years.

The Pelicans had a dark cloud hanging over them the entire 2018-2019 NBA season. When Anthony Davis and his agent, Rich Paul, declared that Davis wanted a trade, the Pelicans were thrown into a whirlwind of speculation, demands, and uncertainty.

On June 15, the questions surrounding Davis’ position with the team were solved.

Having Davis on the team entering the 2019-2020 season would have burdened the Pelicans with a lot of unnecessary controversies. Instead, they got a clean slate, and an absolute haul of a return on their previous franchise cornerstone.

Lonzo Ball has gotten injured in both of his first two seasons thus far, but when he has been healthy his playmaking ability and defense have been strong indicators of a long and successful career.

Similarly, Brandon Ingram has had injury issues in his brief time in the league, going down last season with deep vein thrombosis in his arm, a blood clot issue that could become troublesome moving forward.

That being said, Ingram is a talented scorer and defender, with all signs pointing to him only getting better. Josh Hart serves as a solid 3-and-D wing at a cheap cost. While the Pelicans can be happy with their incoming players from the Lakers, the most exciting move for the franchise came on May 14, when the Pelicans won the first pick in the NBA draft lottery after only having a 7 percent chance.

In essence, they won the Zion sweepstakes. After all, the 6 foot 7, 285-pound monster is the most highly-sought-after NBA prospect since Lebron James.

Yeah. Big deal.

David Griffin, the new Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations for the New Orleans Pelicans (essentially the one running the show), has a good reputation around the NBA.

In 2016, his moves for the Cleveland Cavaliers helped them win their first championship in franchise history. Even after dealing with Anthony Davis, Griffin wasn’t done making moves.

Hours before the draft, he made another move.

The Pelicans traded down in a draft where experts saw little to no difference in players expected to be picked between 4 and 10. The team also received a protected first-round pick for next year and they unloaded the dreadful Solomon Hill contract off their books.

The Pelicans picked Texas center Jaxson Hayes for the eighth pick, a high-flying, athletic big man at a position of need, and by trading away Hill, Griffin has the opportunity to sign one or two veterans to help teach and develop the team’s young core.

Winning the Zion sweepstakes undoubtedly made it easier for the Pelicans to trade Davis. If Davis hadn’t asked for a trade last season and been subsequently put on a minutes restriction, the Pelicans would have won many more games, and not been in a position to win or even enter the draft lottery.

So in a weird way, Pelicans fans should be thanking Davis. How’s that for irony?

With Griffin at the helm, Pelicans fans should be excited for the rest of this summer, and the years ahead. Zion is not just a ready-made star, but he is box office. And after his emotional interview last night, how can you not like the young man? He is one of the first superstars in recent memory to seemingly have no ego.

He is exactly what you want in a franchise cornerstone.

Jrue Holiday will serve as a great mentor for Zion. Plus, he’ll always be able to look to Lonzo Ball for advice on how to deal with extreme media attention.

Still, winning and cohesion may take some time, as well as attendance in a city that heavily favors football, but one thing is abundantly clear: The Pelicans are going to be a joy to watch.

Why Anthony Davis’ first-ever ‘Chip Deal’ with Ruffles is a flex

Anthony Davis has undoubtedly been the hottest name in the world over the past 48 hours.

The 6’10, 26-year-old All-NBA center who, to get a sense of how good he is, has the third highest regular season PER in history of the game, capped of the inescapable buzz surrounding his name this free agency by doing what many felt was the improbable this past weekend: sign with the LeBron and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The implications are huge. Vegas already has the Lakers as favorites to win the 2020 title, they have room for another mid-max player, and with Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson out for the majority of next season, the West is wide open.

Yet, as major as this offseason signing was, this wasn’t the biggest deal Anthony and his team closed out.

According to Front Office Sports, Davis will be announced as a “creative partner” with Ruffles on Tuesday, becoming the first NBA player in history to have a potato chip endorsement deal.

On top of that, Davis has already been a part of the design of a chip-inspired shoe called “The Ruffles Ridge Tops,” further proof of just how multifaceted the deal is.




“Ruffles keeps finding new ways to make the game more fun for basketball fans and a ‘Chip Deal’ in itself is unprecedented – which is exactly why I wanted to do it,” Davis said in a statement to Front Office Sports.

“From the design of ‘The Ridge Tops’ to new flavors and contests, I have a lot of ideas and Ruffles shares my excitement for making them happen.”


View this post on Instagram


My entire life has been leading up to this moment. #RufflesChipDeal @Ruffles

A post shared by Anthony Davis (@antdavis23) on

Davis announced the news as he visited the flagship NBA Store in New York City earlier today, which a little ironic for a Knick fanbase who hoped he’d be there signing for a different reason.

From June 24 to August 4, fans who purchase a bag of Ruffles and enter the on-pack code will have a chance to win coveted fashion and sports “grails” daily and the grand prize of a pair of the Ruffles and Davis-crafted sneakers.

Sadira Furlow, who is vice president of marketing for Frito-Lay North America, said in an interview with Front Office Sports that “the Ruffles brand is all about ‘owning your ridges’” and that AD — who has refused to cut his infamous brown — personifies that “unapologetic individuality.”

According to Furlow, the Davis/Ruffles deal will extend through the 2020 NBA All-Star Game in Davis’ hometown of Chicago, where the South Side native will play in front of friends and neighbors and, along with a shoe, they’re even in talks of developing his own flavor.

“We’re working on getting him in the kitchen with our chef to make that a reality,” she said. “And of course NBA All-Star is in AD’s hometown of Chicago, so we’re already thinking about how to make that really special for fans.”

This sets a new precedent for endorsement deals. No longer will athletes and their agents be expecting compensation, but to be partners with multiple verticles on the table.

Yes, Anthony Davis is now a Laker, but more than that, he’s a household name with a brand that’s about to boom.

What does the future hold for Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans?

In January 2019, Anthony Davis’ agent Rich Paul informed the New Orleans Pelicans that Davis was ready to leave the team and that he had no intention of resigning a long term contract extension. It wasn’t easy news for the organization to take, even being quoted as creating a ‘dumpster fire’ within the team.

A trade request was made, and one of the hottest names in the NBA become open to discussions. Davis wants to play for a team that wins consistently and can give him a shot at the championship. Although the Pelicans have been aware of Davis’ desires to leave for a while, no agreement was made before the trade deadline in February.

As the NBA Drafts beckon, the discussions over Davis’ future are once again opening up. The Toronto Raptor’s trade for Kawhi Leonard last season was so impactful that it has brought them within reach of an NBA Championship.

If there was any doubt that a single player could change the direction of a team, there isn’t anymore. Davis could have a similar impact if he finds himself with the Lakers or Knicks.

What Do Pelicans Want For The Trade?

Screaming New Orleans Pelicans GIF by NBA - Find & Share on GIPHY

Star players like Anthony Davis come at a high cost. According to an article in ESPN, Pelican’s executive vice president David Griffin has outlined a framework for the trade, and not surprisingly he’s asking for quite a lot of assets in demand.

The framework includes an All-Star player, a young player with All-Star potential, and two first-round draft picks. Griffin does have some flexibility. The better the player(s) offered, the softer the asks would be for the draft picks, or vice-versa.

There are already few teams that could meet these requirements, and it’s likely that the deal, at least as it stands, would have to involve multiple teams to make it possible.

Davis Enters Free Agency In 2020

Anthony Davis Ugh GIF by ESPN - Find & Share on GIPHY

To add a bit of risk factor to the deal, Anthony Davis will enter free agency in 2020. This means that whichever team he signs with, he could simply walk away from after one season. It would be a short term investment or a risk that he would stay on. This would make it more difficult for teams to part with their most precious players.

It’s a subject that Davis’ manager Rich Paul has not shied away from. He has made it really clear that Davis has a year left to play, but that after that he will definitely be a free agent. As yet, it is unclear which team will sign Davis, but whoever it is, they won’t necessarily hold on to him for too long.

Which Teams Could Sign Davis?

Lebron James Hug GIF by NBA - Find & Share on GIPHY

There have been several teams linked with negotiations and discussions around Davis, including the NY Knicks, LA Lakers, Brooklyn Nets, LA Clippers, and Boston Celtics. Of those, the field has now been narrowed down to a few teams that are expected to grab him, and one that is a clear favorite. 

Boston Celtics have been mentioned a few times in the NBA trade rumors. They could put together a worthy package with players like Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward, along with two of their three first-round draft picks. Yet they cannot realistically trade for Davis until free agent Kyrie Irving makes a decision on his future with the team, and the time seems to be ticking for the trade.

The New York Knicks have been more strongly linked, and have been in vocal pursuit of Davis. Their trading game plan is under question now that Kevin Durant has suffered an Achilles injury, putting a question mark over where the free agent will go and whether he will stay with the Warriors.

This season for sure will affect the predictions for the following year, especially for bookmakers such as FOXBet, upcoming next fall to face a new NBA era.

Knicks have the number three draft to trade with, and a decent roster too, but they may not want to risk losing their assets in a repeat of the 2011 Carmelo Anthony trade.  

The most likely team to secure a deal over Anthony Davis is the LA Lakers. They are reportedly furthest in the negotiations and are a preferred pick for Davis and his agent. Davis could be paired with LeBron with potentially devastating results.

Lakers are not favorites to land a top-level free agent, so a Davis trade makes a lot of sense. They also know that they are the team that Davis is likely to sign for when his free agency begins, giving extra leverage and value.

The Anthony Davis saga and the rise of NBA player empowerment

Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans (for now) has the whole NBA shook right now.  The five-time all-star recently requested a trade from his current squad in a move that has shocked many.

A lot of people are speculating that LeBron is responsible for all of this chaos.  But, let’s take a few steps back first.

Davis is signed by Klutch Sports Group and Rich Paul, who is also a childhood friend of LeBron James.  After a dinner with LeBron earlier this week, Davis made his wishes to leave the Pelicans public.

For his actions, Davis was fined $50,000 by the New Orleans Pelicans and could be facing more penalties. But that’s not the real story here.

Anthony Davis Basketball GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

People around the league have been speculating that Davis would eventually end up playing with LeBron out in LA.  We don’t think anyone saw it happening this way, though.

This is just the latest in what has turned into a long line of players making demands to leave their teams when not happy with their situations.

It all started with LeBron back in 2010, when he decided to build a super-team in Miami with his homies Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Since then, we’ve other superstars like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Kawhi Leonard control their own destinies with immense amounts of power.

This phenomenon has been uniquely exclusive to the NBA.  It’s no surprise, however, that this is the league for it to happen in.

Unlike other sports, basketball is the one game where one player can really change the outlook of a franchise.  And the NBA has fully embraced this.

The NBA markets their stars better than any other league.  People like Steph Curry, LeBron, and Durant have all become household names. It’s enabled players like these to build their own brands, and maybe more importantly, their own voices.

Houston Rockets Lol GIF by NBA - Find & Share on GIPHY

NBA superstars are more accessible than stars of other leagues like the NFL or MLB. Fans are able to connect with them and their personalities in ways that other sports have not.

Players like James Harden, Dwayne Wade, and Russell Westbrook have become fashion icons for NBA players.  While players like LeBron and Curry have used their visibility to weigh in on political matters.

LeBron articulated this sentiment in an episode of his HBO series ‘The Shop’ perfectly. While discussing the differences between the NFL and NBA, James discusses his admiration for commissioner Adam Silver and how he treats players.

I’m so appreciative in our league of our commissioner. He doesn’t mind us having … a real feeling and to be able to express that. It doesn’t even matter if Adam agrees with what we are saying, he at least wants to hear us out. As long as we are doing it in a very educational, non-violent way, then he’s absolutely OK with it.

In the episode, LeBron also asserts that NFL owners are a bunch of old white men with a slave owner mentality.  They treat players like interchangeable parts who will only be kept around if own they as the owner says.

NFL players haven’t been given nearly the kind of agency that NBA players are afforded.  The one player we did see use his position to voice concerns about political and social matters, Colin Kaepernick, hasn’t played an NFL game in over two years.

The willingness of the NBA as a whole to allow players to be their own people has lead to situations like Anthony Davis’.  Players realize that they are the driving force in what makes their team and league great.

With that knowledge, players decided to not just sit back and let coaches and ownership make all of the important decisions.  LeBron has opened the door for players to take the power into their own hands and be the driving forces in their own futures.

Can LeBron recruit Anthony Davis to the Lakers? Why it would be a wrap

Anthony Davis teaming up with LeBron James is a scary thought. Recently, after the Lakers lost to the Nets when Dave McMenamin of ESPN asked him about him playing with Anthony Davis, Lebron James was elated. He responded by saying,

“That would be amazing. That would be amazing, like, duh. That would be incredible.”

Pretty bold statement. Who could blame LeBron for wanting to play with Davis? AD is easily the best center in the game; he currently leads the league in win shares, player efficiency, and in minutes per game.

Excited Anthony Davis GIF by NBA - Find & Share on GIPHY

At age 26, he is averaging 28.1 PPG, 12.6 RPG, 4.7 APG on 50.5% field goal percentage. For the next 10 years, AD will dominate and be an All-star in the NBA.

LeBron’s comment created a tsunami of speculation and media coverage around the NBA — and it fired up Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry. After hearing the news, Alvin Gentry was quoted as saying:

“No we’re not trading him, We’re not trading him under any circumstance. You can move on from that one. There’s no one in the league we would trade him for. There’s no one out of the league. Not even Beyonce.”

The Pelicans have some cause for concern given that AD recently hired Rich Paul of Klutch Sports to represent him. Rich Paul is also LeBron’s agent and was the architect of his move to Miami.

Awesome Lebron James GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

After hearing LeBron’s comments, many around the league accused LeBron of tampering. He did after all even have dinner with Davis when he was in town for their game. The NBA defines tapering broadly as, “when a player or team directly or indirectly entices, induces or persuades anybody (player, general manager, etc.) who is under contract with another team in order to negotiate for their services.”

However, the league makes exceptions for players acknowledging that they want to play with other players. And in reality, I am sure that tampering goes on quite a bit in the NBA and it is never reported.

That Friday after Los Angeles Lakers defeated Pelicans, LeBron qualified his previous statements 3:

Happy Lets Go GIF by NBA - Find & Share on GIPHY

“Ask me would I like to play with Kevin Durant? Ask me right now,” “Absolutely,”

“Absolutely,” LeBron said. “Ask me if I would like to play with Jimmy Butler.”

“Would you like to play with Jimmy Butler?” the reporter asked.

“Ask me about Kyrie Irving,” James said. “Giannis [Antetokounmpo]. Ask me about [Joel] Embiid. Ben Simmons. Go ahead. All of them. Luka Doncic. Ask me right now. Come on guys, it is not rocket science. It is not rocket science. These are great players. Absolutely, I would want to play with a lot of great players, that is just who I am. So? People get caught up in bunches. Sometimes they wish they could control what you say and they can’t control me. At all. And I play by the rules.”

This is not the first time the Lakers have been accused of tampering. In 2017, the Lakers were fined by the NBA after Magic Johnson’s made similar comments related to Paul George’s free agency — and Paul George never ended signing with the Lakers.

Paul George Lol GIF by NBA - Find & Share on GIPHY

LeBron’s comment aside, AD would not be the first great player LeBron has team up with in his career. In fact, LeBron has a long history of teaming up with great players to win championships. Even in 2014 when he returned to Cleveland, the Cavaliers traded and brought in perineal All-Stars Kyle Korver and Kevin Love.

When LeBron decided to take his talents to South Beach, he took his career into his own hands, much to the dismay of the Cavalier organization. The move represented a seismic shift in the bargaining power of players.

And it undoubtedly leads the way to other players being more in more control of their careers. And, you could even argue, it paved the way for Kevin Durant’s decision to go to Golden State, Kawhi Leonard’s demand for a trade out of the San Antonio, or even Chris Paul’s move to the Rockets.

Lebron James Basketball GIF by NBA - Find & Share on GIPHY

Despite the buzz around the league, Anthony Davis still has two years left on his contract with New Orleans and the Pelicans are prepared to offer him a supermax contract worth over $240 million.

Scarier than the thought of Anthony Davis leaving the Pelicans, is what it would signal to small market NBA teams and to other superstars around the league.

If superstars can will their way out of contract with two years left on the books and ignore supermax deals than it leaves the many organizations helpless in their pursuit of building their teams and franchises. Some would argue that it tips the balance too much in favor of NBA superstars.

Anthony Davis has yet to win a title and his legacy will be tainted without a championship.

New Orleans Pelicans What GIF by Red Bull - Find & Share on GIPHY

The Pelicans present limited opportunities for Anthony Davis to win a title. Not only is New Orleans the smallest market in the west, but the Western Conference is also glutted full of competitive teams; in fact, half of the teams that made the playoffs last season are currently not in playoff contention.

With Rondo, Javale Mcgee, Caldwell Pope, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley, and Tyson Chandler being on one-year deals, the Lakers have the cap space to sign AD to a max deal in 2020. These also have enough players to make an appealing trade to the Pelicans organization.

Besides the Lakers, the Pacers, Mavericks, Kings, and Clippers next season will have the cap space to sign AD to a max deal. And the Boston Celtics, if they are willing to part with Kyrie Irving, have the players to trade for Anthony Davis as well.

Boston Celtics No GIF by NBPA - Find & Share on GIPHY

Given the depth of the Celtics or Lakers roster, both teams could trade for Anthony Davis and still have the players to compete for a championship. All of these teams are in playoff contention without AD and would put AD in a better situation to win a championship than playing with Pelicans.

If Kawhi and KD go to the Clippers, AD signing with the Lakers may be the only move that could prevent the Clippers from wrecking the league for the next 5 years. And if KD stays with Golden State and Boogie comes back healthy, any team that is going to want to compete with the Golden State Warriors is going to need a dynamic center.

Not only that, but a backcourt of Javale Mcgee and Anthony Davis would undoubtedly be the best frontcourt in the NBA. In the end, the decision will be up to Anthony Davis. Any team that has him will be in a spot to compete for a championship.