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Luka Dončić

Is Luka Dončić the best player in the NBA? Inside his journey and mindset

After scoring 33 points in a victory over the Utah Jazz (6-3), it is time people start talking about Luka Dončić as one of the best basketball players in the world.

Dončić is only the third player in NBA history to start the season with seven straight 30-point games; the 23-year-old superstar also leads the league in points per game at 36.1.

If the young guard continues on this path, it’s safe to say the Dallas Mavericks (4-3) have an incredibly bright future.  

“I always say, ‘I just wish to play in the NBA.’ This is really a dream for me, I couldn’t be happier to play basketball to be my job, and that’s it. I’m just happy to play basketball, and when we win, it’s even better,”

Dončić told reporters

It’s all about your mindset

Though Dončić comes off as a fun and relaxed guy, what makes him so elite is his championship mindset:

“I just know from last year, I had to start [this season] better because the way I started last year wasn’t exactly acceptable. So I tried to learn from that and just be better than last year” he later added.  

Dončić made it his mission to improve over the offseason, and his trainer, Anze Macek, said he wanted to begin working ‘immediately’ after the end of last season.  

“Shortly after the end of the season, he [Dončić] contacted me and said that he wanted to start fitness training immediately… When he went on vacation, he asked me for a work [out] plan… He is also increasingly aware of the importance of physical preparation. That’s why I believe in his progress,”

Macek told SportsKlub Slovenija.  

Life before the NBA

This championship-caliber mindset didn’t just begin for the Mavericks Guard; it is something he has carried with him since he was a young kid. Dončić became a pro basketball player at 13 years old; five years later, he would become the youngest EuroLeague MVP.  

Despite this huge accomplishment, Dončić would continue to work hard to silence doubters who felt any team that picked him was taking a ‘chance’ since he was a European player.  

How he dealt with criticism

“Dončić, at 6-foot-7, will get exposed for all the Dirk [Nowitzki Had]. Dirk’s not a great athlete. Dirk doesn’t have explosiveness. Dirk isn’t physical. Well, that’s what’s going to happen to Dončić because he doesn’t have the one thing nobody can bother or stop,” . 

Skip Bayless said on Undisputed, directly after the 2018 NBA draft. 

Well, Dončić continued to work in silence and prove critics wrong. He would earn the 2018-19 NBA rookie of the year award and average 31.0 points per game in the playoffs a season later against all-stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and the accompanying Los Angeles Clippers.  

However, after two first-round playoff exits against the Clippers – coming into the 2021-22 season, people were questioning if Dončić had what it took to propel a team deep into the playoffs. 

Only time will tell

Dončić would answer these questions come playoff time, making it all the way to game five of the Western Conference Finals. During this 15-game playoff run, the young phenom averaged 31.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 6.4 assists while shooting 45.5% from the field.  

Whenever people have questioned Dončić’s capabilities, he has answered impressively. It will be fascinating to see what questions he will answer this year when he looks to earn his first NBA Finals appearance. 

lebron lakers

The Lakers still have not figured things out and it’s getting ugly

Currently in the hot seat are the Los Angeles Lakers and it’s not getting pretty.

As one of the most famous teams in basketball – people want to know why their beloved team is off to yet another rough start. The “Showtime Lakers” lost to the Warriors (2-1), Clippers (2-1), and now the Trail Blazers (3-0). 

What happened last night?

After losing Sunday night, it is clear the struggle for the Lakers is on the offense side of the ball. Point guard Russell Westbrook, shooting 28.9 % this season, was in charge of many miscues down the stretch. 

Late in the game, Westbrook was being guarded by Blazers center Jusuf Nurkić when he decided to go for a two-for-one opportunity with 30 seconds remaining. Westbrook missed the 16-foot jumper and gave the Blazers just enough chances to steal the win.  

How Portland got it done

“I wanted to keep Nurk [Nurkic] out there for rebounding purposes and even offensively, you know, he came up with a big layup in a big part of the game. But putting him on Russ [Russell], you know, we’re just going to play off of Russ in that moment. And if they come together, we’re just going to go over the screen and allow the offense to see what they were going to do with it,”

said Blazers Head Coach Chauncey Billups to the media after the win.  

These are not words you want to hear if you are a Lakers fan. Westbrook, who is being paid $44 million, was shut down by a center in last night’s affair. Westbrook’s shooting mishaps allow opponents to clog the paint, forcing them to take jump shots from the outside – which does not seem to be their forte.  

The Lakers’ biggest issue

Through three games, the Lakers have the second-worst 3-point shooting percentage per 100 attempts in the history of the NBA. The best shooter behind the arc is LeBron James, at 25.9%. After losing to the defending champions in game one, James went on record pointing out this obvious flaw: 

“I think we’re getting great looks, but it also could be teams giving us great looks. I mean, if we’re completely honest, we’re not a team that is constructed of great shooting. That’s just the truth of the matter. It’s not like we’re sitting here with a lot of lasers on our team,”   

James told reporters after the loss.  

Those are powerful words from the captain, who is seeking his fifth NBA championship. At 37-years-old, many believe it is safe to say LeBron’s championship aspirations can be put to rest if general manager Rob Pelinka does not make immediate changes to this roster.  

How outsiders are reacting

The Lakers’ 2027 and 2029 1st-round picks are available for trade, leaving many of the “Laker Faithful” hopeful of a package deal. A transaction including draft picks and Westbrook, who many feel is responsible for the Lakers’ struggles thus far.  

“You don’t have any shooters. That’s really what the bottom line is, and as a result of that, you are incredibly inferior. You looked at the Los Angeles Lakers last night; they looked like a team that knew they did not belong on the same court as a championship squad. They looked woeful as far as I’m concerned,”

Stephen A. Smith told the NBA Countdown show.  

NBA insider for ESPN, Adrian Wojnarowski, told the NBA Countdown show what he believes the Lakers plan to do with their team moving forward: 

“The expectation is there’ll be more sellers this year; you start to see the asking price and trades go down. It’s supply and demand. So, expect the Lakers, you know, to get to that 20-game point where teams kind of reach an inflection point about how they want to proceed and then see what might really be available to help improve this Lakers team.”

– Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN

What is next? 

After finishing the 2021-22 regular season in 11th place with a 33-49 record, Lakers fans do not want to wait any longer.

With the most finals appearances at 32, the Lakers find themselves in what seems now to be familiar territory – outside the playoff hunt.  

The Lakers will try to earn their first win Wednesday, Oct. 26, when they travel to take on former MVP Nikola Jokić and the accompanying Denver Nuggets.  

The 5 most valuable players in the WNBA right now

The WNBA has gained significant popularity worldwide throughout the last couple of years. Even though they come nowhere near the NBA ratings, there is certainly an increase in the overall interest in the League. 

The 2022 WNBA season marks the 26th year of its existence so far and with the league getting more popular than ever, the games become even more electrifying. The on-court competition slowly becomes more intense as everyone tries to end up under the spotlight.

However, there are several players who stand out due to their skills, hard work, and great mentality. It’s no surprise that most of the players battling out for the MVP award each year are spread across the top teams in the league. 

The WNBA lines favored A’Ja Wilson from the Aces all season long due to her all-around game as she looked for a way to top her closest rival on the list, Breanna Stewart. 

A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces

A’ja Wilson has been one of the most consistent and improving WNBA players in recent years. The 26-year-old power forward won her second MVP award in her career this season. She averaged 19.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists across 36 appearances in 2022. 

Wilson picked up his A-game in the Playoffs leading her Aces past the Phoenix Mercury and the Seattle Storm while averaging 21 points in seven games. She won the Western Conference Player of the Week award five times this season which further cements her dominance over the competition. 

After winning the 2018 WNBA Rookie of the Year, A’ja Wilson has been on top of the charts alongside Breanna Stewart who has been her biggest opponent during the course of her career. 

Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm

Breanna Stewart will once again go home empty-handed after her Seattle Storm lost to the Las Vegas Aces in the Semifinals. However, she ended the Regular Season on top of the leaderboard with 21.8 points per game.

The power forward has had a fantastic series against the Aces scoring 42 points in the deciding Game 4 which was just not enough to stop A’Ja Wilson, Jackie Young, and Chelsea Gray. 

Stewart was named among The W25 which is a list of the top 25 WNBA players in league history. The 28-year-old has won almost everything on an international level as her focus is now set on breaking records in the WNBA. 

Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut Suns

One of the most experienced players in the WNBA, Alyssa Thomas, has single-handedly led the Connecticut Suns to the Finals in her ninth season with the team. The 30-year-old power forward became the leader in rebounds and assists in four of the five games in the Semifinals series against the Chicago Sky. 

Thomas managed to keep high consistency levels throughout the entire season which certainly books her a spot in this list. She averaged 13.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 6.1 assists to help her team finish third with a 25-11 record. 

Alyssa has managed to further improve her stats during the Playoffs as she is now getting close to the double-double average with 11.9 points and 9.6 rebounds across the most important eight matches of the season. 

Sylvia Fowles, Minnesota Lynx 

Sylvia Fowles has been part of the WNBA since 2008 when she was drafted by the Chicago Sky. Later on, in 2015, she switched sides and went to Minnesota in pursuit of a title. She eventually managed to crown herself a two-time WNBA champion with the Lynx following their success in 2015 and 2017. 

Fowles has never stopped impressing with her game as she is certainly one of the best defensive players the league has ever seen. In 2020, the 36-year-old center surpassed Rebekkah Brunson and topped the all-time rebounds leaderboard. 

This year, Fowles led the WNBA in rebounds per game as she went just shy of averaging a double-double for the season. She also recorded the highest FG% at 62.2% underlining her unstoppable force under the rim. 

Sabrina Ionescu, New York Liberty

Sabrina Ionescu drew attention to herself after her amazing college career in Oregon. She became the only NCAA player both in women’s and men’s competitions with 2,000 points, 1,000 assists, and 1,000 rebounds. 

Ionescu also won the Naismith Player of the Year award in 2020 which further set the expectations quite high for her first season in the WNBA. She was selected by the New York Liberty with the first overall pick. 

In 2021, at the age of 23, she became the youngest player to record a triple-double in the history of the league. On top of that, in July 2022, Ionescu once again rewrote history following yet another masterful performance.

The talented point guard recorded the first 30-point triple-double in the WNBA chronicle as she went off for 31 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists.

NBA expansion: What cities will they expand to next?

Due to the increase in the number of NBA teams, there’s been some rumour that the association plans to expand its league to other cities.

Presently, there are 30 teams in the NBA league, and although it hasn’t been confirmed yet, the teams will be more than that in a few years.

The National Basketball Association is one of the most popularly known sports leagues. The sport is one of the most watched in the world, and the league is in the United States. It was established in 1946 in New York, and it was named the Basketball Association of America (BAA).

Nba Playoffs Sport GIF by NBA - Find & Share on GIPHY

There were only 11 teams at the time the association was established, and today they have added 29 more teams to the league. If the leagues can increase from the time of establishment to today, who’s to say it won’t keep increasing?

The commission had denied that there were plans for the league to add new teams at the moment, but he never ruled out the possibility of expansion in the future. If you are an NBA fan, do not forget to place your NBA betting for the next game.

Here are a few of the cities that the NBA might expand to; 

Las Vegas, Nevada

The NBA star player LeBron James once mentioned in his interview with “The Shop: Uninterrupted” that he wanted to own a team based in Las Vegas.

There have been rumours going around that the association wants to expand its leagues to this part of the city.

The city itself looks like it’s getting ready to host the new team. The Oak View Group, well-known for developing and operating sporting and entertainment venues, has reportedly purchased a 66-acre plot of land in Las Vegas and is developing an NBA-ready arena there.

Seattle, Washington

There’s also a chance that the NBA might return to Seattle, as the city already has an operational venue for the team.

The team moved to Oklahoma City in 2009. The venue currently hosts NHL games. 

Kansas City, Missouri 

Kansas City is also one of the possible cities for a new NBA team. The city has one of the largest markets but is without a team.

Also, it is close to some cities that are already part of the NBA league, like Oklahoma City and Denver. It is also the home of the College Basketball Hall of Fame.

Other cities like Austin, San Jose, St. Louis, Omaha, California, Pittsburgh, and many others are all possible cities that are considered NBA team worthy. They all meet the requirements to host the NBA and have a team in their city.

Regular Season Sport GIF by NBA - Find & Share on GIPHY

There is also a chance that the NBA will be expanded beyond the United States and Canada and move into Europe. If there is any American sport that can do that, it is the NBA.

They have the patience and courage to take bold steps. If they can allow foreign-born players to play on NBA teams, they can expand their league internationally and play all over the continent.  

Several other cities are possibly the best fit for the expansion, but not all the cities can get to join the league. However, the NBA is scheduled to negotiate another contract after the existing one in the year 2025, this might be the time the league decides on whether they need an expansion or not.

Las Vegas, Seattle, and Kansas City will probably be ready and waiting if the NBA uses one of these two opportunities to welcome additional clubs into the fold.

Meet the hosts behind Certified Buckets, your go-to NBA podcast for the season

There’s only one NBA podcast covering all of the highlights both on and off the court this upcoming season.

UNINTERRUPTED’s official hoops pod Certified Buckets is back for season two with three hosts who’ve all paved different lanes into sports and media.

Certified Buckets, your go-to NBA podcast for the season

Ashley Nicole Moss, Kristian Winfield, and Lethal Shooter make up a hosting trio with the versatility to cover topics across basketball, culture, and more. Each one of them brings a unique perspective to the game as their journey into building their names couldn’t have been more different.

We had the chance to ask them just how they got started and what it takes to make it in the highly competitive field of sports media. This is what they said:

Ashley Nicole Moss, Media Host

You might have seen Ashley on platforms like Sports Illustrated, SNY TV, and Knicks Fan TV. But before she was dishing out hot takes on Certified Buckets and landing her own shows, she was finding any opportunity she could get and running with it. She told us,

My journey started years ago in college as a sports writer for the school paper. From there I worked for NBC, iHeart Radio, and presently I was given the historic opportunity to be the first black host at Sports Illustrated.

Ashley nba podcast host
Ashley Nicole Moss

Being a Black woman in the sports industry has presented many challenges to Ashley but she’s learned from experience that she has something different to offer.

There’s not just one way to get to the same destination. There’s this very weird narrative that is taught, especially to young women that in order to be successful you have to fit into a box, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Women are so dope because we’re so multidimensional and taping into that needs to be celebrated not discouraged.”

– Ashley Nicole Moss

She credits the mindset that was shaped through her journey as the reason for her success and motivation to further herself in the space.

My tunnel vision is that of an athlete and I’m not easily deterred from my goal. For me, it’s never a matter of ‘if’ it’s always a matter of ‘when’.

– Ashley Nicole Moss

Lethal Shooter, NBA Shooting Coach

You might have seen Cris Matthews, aka Lethal Shooter, training some of your favorite NBA players or rappers on how to perfect their shot. But before that, he was playing professionally overseas and perfecting his craft.

His path into sports media wasn’t intentional at all. It all started with what he built with his talent and that organically made its way to social media. Now as an NBA podcast host he says,

While focusing on my shooting coaching, I started posting more on social media. Eventually this led to my platform growing exponentially. From there, I began to have opportunities to speak on sports media platforms and now am a part of launching Certified Buckets.

– Lethal Shooter
Lethal Shooter nba shooting coach
Lethal Shooter

As an expert in his field, Lethal Shooter was able to build his own platform and create content that he knows real hoopers want to see. However, it takes more than just talent and a good network.

He also had the mindset to focus on what was working and found new ways to grow that. It only works because basketball is truly his passion. His advice to kids who want to find their own lane is simple. He says,

Sports media is very competitive, so unfortunately nothing is going to be handed to you…you just have to work hard, stay focused and do it because you love it. 

– Lethal Shooter

Kristian Winfield, Beat Reporter

Kristian’s journey can be summed up in one word: GRIND. Like many kids looking to get into sports media, he once had hoop dreams. But even without the game, he always knew he’d find a way to be a part of it.

I knew there was another way to the NBA outside of being a player, and I was always a strong writer. More than strong, actually. So I kept honing my writing abilities and started studying some basketball reporters.

He started out writing about sports in any way he could. The school paper at Hampton University, his own blog, and then eventually as an intern at sites like Bleacher Report.

Kristian Winfield nba reporter
Kristian Winfield

He did the work, made some connections, and continued to grind. Kristian eventually got hired as a full-time sports writer at SB Nation. Today he covers his hometown Brooklyn Nets as a beat reporter for the New York Daily News. Kristian’s advice to aspiring sports is simple:

Get focused. Work on your craft. If that’s writing, study writers. If that’s TV, study broadcasters. If that’s making money getting those tweets off, guess what? People get paid for that, too. There’s a lane for everybody. Find yours. The sooner you do that, the better.

– Kristian Winfield

New episodes of the NBA podcast for Certified Buckets will drop weekly every Wednesday. Click HERE for a link to all platforms.

Got NBA FOMO? These 5 regular-season games are must-see TV

It’s crunch time for basketball fans as the NBA 2020-2021 regular season is coming to an end and we approach the playoffs. But what NBA game dates should we be keeping an eye on?

It’s only been three months since James Harden forced his way out of Houston, landed on the Brooklyn Nets, and created an offensive juggernaut that looks poised for a deep playoff run.

Harden is consistently turning in spectacular performances and has vaulted himself into the MVP conversation even after using some fairly crude tactics to ditch his former team. 

With injuries to LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, and Harden’s teammate Kevin Durant, the MVP race is wide open, and the league’s top players are gunning for the trophy.

Players like Nikola Jokic, Zion Williamson, and Luka Doncic are having career years but with only seven weeks left in the regular season, time is running out.

Here are the five NBA game dates left on the 2020-2021 schedule that you can’t miss and as we get closer to the playoffs, the NBA odds will be updated to show the most current numbers for those games. 

1. Pelicans-Nets April 7 at 7:30 PM EST

With Durant seemingly close to a return from a nagging hamstring injury, this game will feature four of the league’s top players as both the Nets and the Pelicans push for the playoffs.

Williamson has been dominating the league since the All-Star break and the Nets’ porous defense will likely be unable to contain his ferocious drives to the hoop.

But, similarly, Pelicans Coach Stan Van Gundy has been unable to instill a defensive identity on his young team, and their up and down season continues. Look for a high-scoring affair in this one as two of the league’s top offenses face off. 

2. Heat-Trailblazers April 11 at 10 PM EST

The Heat were clear winners at the trade deadline, snapping up Victor Oladipo for virtually nothing but they’ve been unable to catch fire this season after last year’s Finals run.

This is a real NBA nerd matchup between two of the league’s best-coached teams and both teams are looking to improve their seeding heading into the playoffs.

CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic’s return provided the Blazers with the reinforcements they need to push the West’s top teams. Look out for newly acquired Norm Powell in this game as he slashes to the hoop and puts pressure on Miami’s stout interior defense.

3. Suns-76ers April 21, at 7 PM EST

With Embiid’s return expected in the next two weeks, this game will feature two teams who attack offenses in completely different ways.

The Suns, led by Chris Paul and Devin Booker, slow the pace to a crawl and run a lot of high pick and roll with the court spaced by shooters like Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson.

The Sixers like to let Ben Simmons push the pace and get early hoops but if that’s not available, they’ll often post Embiid 14-18 feet from the basket and let him work.

Make sure you add this game date to your NBA must-see schedule as this should be a great matchup between two teams with Finals aspirations. 

4. Nuggets-Clippers May 1 at 7:30 PM EST

In a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals, both the Nuggets and Clippers will want to win this one heading into the postseason.

Jokic is consistently able to dominate the Clippers’ porous frontline and the trade deadline acquisition of Aaron Gordon gives the Nuggets another wing to defend Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.

The Clippers will hope that “Playoff Rondo” activates his superpowers a few weeks early this year and boosts the Clips to victory. 

5. Suns-Lakers May 9 at 10 PM EST

The Lakers will hope to have both Davis and James back for this clash against the Suns and, there’s a chance, they could be fighting for their playoff lives.

Without their two superstars, the Lakers have been in free-fall in the standings and will need James and Davis to quickly return to form to avoid the play-in game.

The Suns’ star backcourt will present a difficult matchup for the Lakers and this matchup could be a preview of a Western Conference Semifinals or even Finals. 

Why the Lakers’ 2020 championship ring might be the GOAT

The Lakers ring ceremony last night was a touching and heartfelt tribute to a season of upheaval, resolve, and ultimately, victory.

In a stadium devoid of fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Los Angeles decided to keep their banner hidden until fans could be there to join in. But the Lakers players and staff did get their rings.

And, with the difficulty of less ambiance without cheering fans in the background, the Lakers did a beautiful job in making the ceremony feel what it had to be: special.

Prerecorded videos played, having each player and staff’s family introducing them and congratulating them on their championship.

It was such a beautiful moment to watch them see their loved ones present them with the pinnacle of what it means to be an athlete: a championship ring.

And it was these Lakers rings, the most expensive and elaborately crafted rings of all time, that stole the show.

The Lakers ring was crafted with the finest detail

The Lakers’ 17th championship ring is special. Not just the fact that it ties the franchise with the Celtics for most rings in the NBA, but it is what went into the ring that takes our breath away.

The rings have a removable top that reveals the retired Lakers jerseys (Kobe Bryant, with 8 and 24, has two). The Lakers ring has a mamba snake behind players’ number to honor Kobe.

The word “UNITY” is etched into the rings, a social justice message that represents much of what the NBA bubble was about. Furthermore, the rings say “Leave A Legacy,” a reference to the Lakers’ playoff slogan. And there are 804 stones and 16.5 carats inside of each Lakers ring. That’s a lot of mining.

The rings were crafted with fine detail, care, and attention. And of course love, as 2020 was perhaps the most strenuous NBA season, especially for the Lakers, in NBA history.

Who created the Lakers rings?

Jason Arasheben, otherwise known as Jason of Beverly Hills, was the architect beyond this exceptional ring.

In a normal year, he would have had months to craft the symbolic token to represent a year of struggle to eventually achieve the ultimate goal. But just like everything in 2020, this time it would be more difficult.

Because of the shortened offseason, Jason had just a month to craft the ring for the opening night ring ceremony.

Jason of Beverly Hills has created rings for six NBA title winners, including three previous Lakers teams. But this time, like always, was different.

“Every ring has to have an identity of its own because every team has an identity of its own and every season has an identity of its own.”

Jason of Beverly Hills

Along with Jason, came poppin’ streetwear designer Don C to help out.

Don C is notable for his NBA apparel, namely shorts like the Lakers shorts LeBron James wore in his first public appearance as an LA Laker.

The Lakers rings represent a year like no other

It wouldn’t have been abnormal or all too surprising if, in the short offseason, the Lakers’ rings were underwhelming.

Hell, that’s how this whole year has felt in large part outside of travesty. You take what you can get, and be thankful for that.

A good life lesson sure, but a bitter pill to swallow, especially as it would be for champions.

But Jason of Beverly Hills, Chicago Don C, and company crafted a ring that is anything but underwhelming. The Lakers newest ring is extravagant, it is touching, and it is beautiful.

In many senses, it represents 2020 well.

The Lakers family and world lost Kobe Bryant. The league shut down because of the pandemic, and the Lakers cheers after winning the championship largely fell on deaf ears as fans were not allowed to be in attendance.

But these rings are special. And they offer a chance for the whole Lakers franchise, upon seeing them, to take a nostalgic glimpse into where they were just a year before, what they went through, and how they emerged as champions on the other side.

From the NBA to homeless: What we can learn from Delonte West’s story

Photographs were taken last week of former NBA player Delonte West holding a small cardboard sign, panhandling. West has a long-documented battle with mental health.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was recently seen picking up West and bringing him into a rehabilitation center, which he will pay for.

Here’s the story on how West went from making over $16 million in his 8-year career to being homeless.

Delonte West’s mental health

West has always had his struggles with mental illness. He says he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2008. West has also publicly said that he “used to try and kill himself all the time.”

West also admitted to cutting himself and swallowing pills. He then pleaded guilty to weapons charges in 2009 after police found loaded guns in his motorcycle and was sentenced to an eight-month home-detention. 

West was initially a first-round pick by the Boston Celtics. He spent a few years there before being traded to the Seattle Supersonics and eventually the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was in Cleveland where he had the most success in his NBA career. He then played well enough to earn a three-year $12 million dollar extension.

NBA journeyman

Furthermore, his biggest moment was hitting a game-winning shot in a playoff game against the Wizards. West had become one of LeBron’s more reliable teammates during his first stint in Cleveland. Then came the rumors that West had been romantically involved with James’ mother, which he has always denied and has never been proven to be true. 

West last played in the NBA in 2012 for the Dallas Mavericks before being suspended for conduct detrimental to the team before being cut. He then spent the next couple of years playing in the G-League and in China. His NBA comeback attempt finally ended in 2015. 

Delonte West frequently blew through his money. Mark Cuban reportedly connected West with a financial adviser in 2014, but West still ended up back in the streets due to his spending habits. 

West had purchased homes for both his parents and helped support other relatives financially. During the 2011 NBA lockout, West even worked at Home Depot and at a furniture store. 

Living on the streets

In 2016, a photograph showed West walking in the streets barefoot and in a hospital gown. It turns out he had been given the wrong medication which had caused him to hallucinate. 

Earlier this year, video surfaced of him being beaten and arrested. Delonte West’s mental health has clearly been suffering for some time.

The past few years has seen West receive support from the NBA community like his former coach Doc Rivers. His former teammates Jameer Nelson and LeBron James have offered their help as well.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has long been one of his biggest supporters and even connected West back with his mother before bringing him to the rehabilitation center. 

The importance of mental health in sports

Delonte West’s story is one that shows just how important mental health is. It is why other NBA athletes like DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love have been so outspoken about their own mental health struggles and why the NBA has taken more of a role to remove the stigma behind it. 

Being a professional athlete can be difficult and take a toll on one’s mental health. No amount of money or recognition can change that. 

With West now in a rehabilitation center, we can only hope that this is the first step in his recovery.

A Heat-Lakers NBA Finals shows just how important culture is to success

With the NBA Finals set to go underway, culture is a huge part of why both the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers have made it to this point. This is evident in three separate categories: team identity, roster construction, and style of play. 

Team identity

Regardless of what franchise LeBron plays for, he becomes the immediate face of that team. He was always the face of the Cavaliers, he became the face of the Heat during his stint there even with Heat legend Dwyane Wade on the team and he is now the face of the most storied franchise in NBA history, the Lakers. 

The Heat Culture comes from the front office, with longtime President Pat Riley and Coach Erik Spoelstra implementing a very rigid system that pushes players to fulfill their potential.

They are known for being one of the best-conditioned teams in the league year-in and year-out. Udonis Haslem’s veteran leadership is a huge reason for the consistency among the way the Heat operate. He’s part of why the Heat are going to the Finals with their third different roster than in 2006 and from 2011-2014. 

The Heat culture is well-documented. Their culture is evident in their ability to develop these players into high-level NBA players. Coach Erik Spoelstra and Team President Pat Riley have been crucial to keeping the Heat competitive even though they may lack the talent level most championship-caliber teams have. It’s why they were able to sign Jimmy Butler. 

Roster construction

There is a big difference in how these teams came to be. Free-agent signings make up most of The Lakers. On the contrary, undrafted players, late lottery picks and opportunistic trades largely make up the Heat.

Seven of the Lakers 15 players are lottery picks, with three of them being former No. 1 picks. Their two biggest stars were acquired from free agency and a trade. 11 of their players were not on the roster last season. They lack the continuity that most championship teams have. 

This is relevant to the culture a LeBron led team has because any team he joins often undergoes a huge roster overhaul. It happened in 2011 when he joined Miami, in 2014 when he returned to Cleveland, and just this past offseason with the Lakers. 

The Heat are the opposite. They are a scrappy team filled with guys who at one point or another have been doubted. The highest drafted player on the team is 36-year-old Andre Iguodala, who was the ninth pick. Undrafted players make up six of their 15 players.

Their roster construction has contributed to their underdog mentality and is an important part of their identity. It is a huge part of why they were able to eliminate the Bucks and Celtics, two teams that are arguably more talented. 

Style of play

Any team that employs LeBron James immediately adopts his identity in terms of style of play. This means a heavy dose of LeBron operating out of isolations and pick-and-rolls surrounded by shooters. It’s effective because it maximizes both of his passing and scoring abilities. This often leads to his teams finishing games with smaller lineups to also provide more spacing in crunch time, making him and the team much harder to guard.   

For better or worse, the wins and losses will always fall at the feet of LeBron and he prefers it that way. His presence on any basketball team immediately makes them a championship caliber team and that’s been the case since 2007. This can be a relief for his teammates because often the pressure doesn’t fall on them, but rather on LeBron himself. 

Heat and Lakers culture

That’s largely the Lakers culture, and Heat Culture is the idea that no matter who comes in the game, the same level of execution, defense and effort is expected from them. They have an equal opportunity offense, with Butler and Adebayo as the focal points but always willing to find the hot hand. They are constantly running shooters like Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro off of screens for threes. 

Their defense is a critical part of their success and possibly the biggest on-court symbol of their culture. They all compete on that end and are versatile enough to be able to defend any kind of offense. It is borderline impossible to get on the court in a Heat Jersey without at least competing on that end of the floor, and has been the case since Erik Spoelstra became their head coach. 

It is interesting to look back at LeBron’s time in Miami and look back at how these two differences in cultures meshed together. It worked well enough for four NBA Finals trips in four years and two MVP seasons, but there was some tension when LeBron decided to leave. Pat Riley says he took it personally. 

The difference in styles will make for an interesting Finals. There are plenty of storylines and on paper, these teams match up really well. It’s hard to argue that the Heat or LeBron way is better as both have seen championship level success, but there’s no doubt that the contrast in styles will be seen on the court. We are eagerly awaiting the impact of the Heat and Lakers cultures during this finals.

The UA HOVR Breakthru is revolutionizing women’s involvement in sports

Women athletes rarely get recognition for what they do, no matter how skilled.

They rarely see the cover of a Wheaties box, if they see any endorsement at all. With the sports world so focused on its male competitors, women deserve some acknowledgment.

Because of this, Under Armour’s HOVR Breakthru is their first sneaker designed by ladies, for ladies.

UA HOVR Breakthru
via Under Armour

Footwear designers Jessie Benjamin, Sasha Chaplin, and Shaneika Warden collaborated with women basketballers, rookies and veterans.

Their goal was simple: craft a shoe that drives performance, supports their play, and that looks bomb.

Left to Right: Under Armour teammates Sasha Chaplin, Jessie Benjamin, and Shaneika Warden. via Under Armour

Their approach was unique. Instead of being a variant of an existing men’s shoe, the Breakthru is built from the ground up. To design a shoe made for women, they had to determine what makes the lady’s foot unique.

The Breakthru is designed with a narrower heel and ankle, as well as an arch tailored for women. Foam arch support pads on the inside ensure comfort with every step. The front of the shoe has soft, flexible, breathable mesh primed for the court.

Tested before a focus group of purely women athletes, Under Armour intently listened to their wants and needs in a shoe. Covering bases on all things style, hoop culture, and comfort.

Finally, the look and the colors were decided according to the athlete’s preferences. It wasn’t only about appearance but about what those colors and designs mean for their game.

Ultimately, their experiences were the biggest sources of inspiration from the group. The anecdotes from the athletes gave the Under Armour design team much to consider.


Under Armour Associate Product Line Manager Sasha Chaplin said, “Research and collaboration were big parts of our design process. The particulars of a woman’s foot, especially athletes with specific on-court performance needs, are critical when developing a shoe like the UA HOVR Breakthru…”

“We spent a lot of time analyzing how to best support her shape and structure, her movement, her pressure points. During this process, we came up with an entirely new last and designed the Breakthru from the inside out.”

Tough, light, and breathable, the HOVR Breakthru is ready to take on any athletic challenge. Don’t expect those heels to get tired, as they’re double layered for extra support. Cushioning reduces impact for running, jumping, and dunking.

The UA HOVR Breakthru sneaker concept

via Under Armour

Herringbone traction on the shoe’s bottom gives it traction designed for the court. Combined with the shoe’s lightness, and design, it’s quite literally made for speed.

In signing WNBA rookies Bella Alarie, Kaila Charles, and Tyasha Harris, the HOVR Breakthru is seeing endorsements from new talent. Under Armour will keep working with them to improve the models every step of the way.

via Under Armour

Debuting at $110, they come cheaper than most other basketball shoes on the market made with the same care and quality.

If you’re in North America, they’ll be dropping tomorrow, 9/17. You can cop via Dick’s Sporting Goods,, and UA Brand Houses in Boston and Chicago.

Ball out, friends.