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Winning At Life: Redefining Winning In Pro Sports



Contrary to popular belief, being a professional athlete is not a privilege its a business. A lucrative business, but a business nonetheless.

Each athlete is in charge of their own individual business interests so logically the scoreboard shouldn’t be the only measure of success. People don’t determine their own individual career success based off how well their company is doing so why do we do it to athletes?

There’s no other industry where you would call a millionaire unsuccessful because the company he works for doesn’t meet expectations. In the words of the legendary Jalen Rose, “I can’t be a scrub if I bought my mother a house.”

I’ve compiled a short list of players who fans may not look at as “winners,” but won big in the business of sports and the game of life.

3. J.R. Smith


J.R. Smith has been cashing NBA checks since he was 18 years old. He was drafted straight out of high school in 2004.

He’s well known, even among non-sports fans, for having fun and enjoying everything that come with being an NBA player. Smith has been linked with a number of models, singers and actresses throughout his career.

Many fans criticize him for having too much fun. People say he’s not focused and underachieves but in any other business they would say he creates a good work/life balance for himself. In his 13 year career he’s made over $100,000,000 dollars, won 6th man of the year in 2012, and won an NBA championship in 2016.

2. Lou Williams


Lou Williams was drafted straight out of high school by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2005 at the age of 18. He was a part of the last NBA draft class that allowed high school players to declare.

Landing in Philadelphia as a rookie gave him a chance to explore his passion for music. He recorded several songs with Philadelphia native and multi-platinum selling artist Meek Mill.

Throughout his career he’s gotten to live and play in some of the most desirable locations in America, his home town of Atlanta, Toronto, L.A. and Houston. He’s also made over $57,000,000 in his 12 year career and was voted 6th Man of The Year in 2015.

On the 2015 multi-platinum selling album, “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late,” by Grammy Award Winning Rapper Drake, there’s a song dedicated to Williams called “6 Man.” The song was played during his 6th Man of The Year Trophy Presentation.

Not many people can say they made songs with Meek Mill and had Drake write them a theme song.

For further proof of how much Lou Williams is winning just refer to the first verse of “6 Man.”

1. Joe Johnson


Joe Johnson has enjoyed a career of getting superstar money without having to deal with superstar expectations.

Even in the social media era, he’s been able to avoid all of the scrutiny and criticism that comes with being the best and highest paid player on a team. It’s a combination of his calm demeanor and playing for teams that haven’t been historically great that’s allowed him to maintain relative anonymity.

While most athletes chase the spotlight, he avoided it while still maximizing his earning potential. In his 16 year NBA career he’s made over $214,000,000 in salary, which puts him slightly behind Lebron James for second among active players.

He’s also made seven all-star appearances, scored over 20,000 points and landed a Jordan Brand sponsorship.


Cleveland Cavaliers

Steph Curry Talks LeBron James Trash Talking During Game 1 of NBA Finals



Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry is gearing up, along with his team, to defend their 2018 NBA Championship, their 2nd in a row and 3rd in 4 years, when the 2018-2019 regular season kicks off this fall, but he is still discussing the 2018 NBA Finals.

Curry specifically is discussing his shock as the trash talk from then Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, which threw Curry off.

Curry and James’ relationship is seemingly in an odd place. James was “like a mentor” to Curry when curry was in college playing at Davidson, but things seem a bit icy now as Curry’s Warriors and James’ Cavaliers (James is now on the Los Angeles Lakers) met in some heated battles in the NBA Finals over the past couple of years.

Despite the shift in their relationship, Curry was still caught of guard by James’ approach, particularly in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals.

“It was never going to spill over to that” Curry said, during an appearance on The Bill Simmons Podcast (h/t NBC Sports Bay Area’s Drew Shiller).

“But it was an interesting moment …I was hot because I was trying to finish out a possession, I think it was less than a minute left, I didn’t see him coming over from the weak side so I tried to do a little soft scoop layup and he pinned it. Then he stared me down and he said something to me.

“And I was like, ‘That’s what we’re really on right now? We’re about to win and you’re worried about mean-blocking my shot and talking trash?’ And then the whole Tristan and Draymond thing happened and I went back up to him and I was like, ‘Yo, what’s up? Is this really what we’re about right now?’

“And he was like, ‘I gotta do that to make sure my teammates know I’m a mentor’ and it’s a part of his leadership and that type of deal. And I was like, ‘I don’t want to be the sacrificial lamb for your leadership.’ (laughter). Come on man, that’s messed up.”

The rift goes a bit deeper than that, and a book from The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson, entitled ‘Golden: The Miraculous Rise of Steph Curry’, it is elaborated, highlighting a 2016 Halloween Party thrown by James that featured a dummy of Steph Curry that was on the floor, forcing guests to step over it.

Now that the two are in the same division, thanks to James’ signing with the Lakers, betting websites will have a field day this season when the two teams take the court, and James continues his mission to topple the juggernaut Warriors.

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Cavs’ Tristan Thompson Allegedly Punched Warriors’ Draymond Green at Night Club



Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson and Golden State Warriors’ forward Draymond Green apparently took their on-court beef off the court as the two allegedly had an altercation at a Los Angeles night club.

According to online gossip site Bossip, Green had approached Thompson to apologize for what happened after Game 4 of the NBA Finals, but Thompson wasn’t interested.

When Green persisted, Thompson punched Green.

Green and Thompson got into it numerous times throughout the Finals, with Green even insulting Thompson as Thompson attempted to shake his hand following the infamous Game 4.

Here is more from The Big Lead’s Jason McIntyre:


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Cleveland Cavaliers

Kevin Love Signs Extension With the Cavs



Kevin Love surprised the Twitter GMs and signed a 4 year, $120 million extension to stay in Cleveland. The full value of the deal will wash out to 5 years and about $145 million, around $10 million below his max for an extension. This clearly signals that Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers want to remain competitive in the wake of LeBron James’ exodus.

The initial reaction across the NBA landscape was that Cleveland would look to tear the roster down to the studs and start over. The Cavs owe their 2019 first round pick to Atlanta if it falls outside of the top 10, so trading Kevin Love would’ve not only helped clear their books, but also almost guaranteed that they keep their pick. Bringing him back into the fold makes that much more precarious. The roster now contains a mixed bag of inconsistent youth and holdovers from the most recent LeBron era that won’t take kindly to a middling team not in the championship conversation. The Cavs seem to be split between two paths.

But that’s not forever. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, “Cleveland is still projecting to have close to $70M in cap space during the summer of 2020 to reshape the roster.” The Cavs can get off of George Hill, JR Smith and Kyle Korver for less than $10 million after this season. That leaves only Tristan Thompson and Jordan Clarkson as expiring contracts in the following season to free the Cavs of all their (current) bad money. Cleveland is never going to be a free agent destination without LeBron, but keeping Kevin Love makes them a much more attractive option for free agents, and they’ll have plenty of money to play with.

If that doesn’t pan out, Cleveland can still trade Love in the future. This extension makes him a cost-controlled asset, giving other teams more certainty. Yes, it’s more years and more money but Kevin Love is still an All-Star. Making him the focal point of the offense should allow him to put up big numbers and recoup some of the market value he’s lost while playing a diminished role alongside LeBron. In the coming years, all the ghastly cap-spike deals will be coming off teams’ books, opening lots of cap space around the league. There are only so many stars available and some teams will inevitably strike out. Combine that with some pressure from ownership to win now and Kevin Love can be a very desirable option.

Even with the extension the Cavs are far from a playoff lock. Their second best player may very well be a rookie. So perhaps an injury or a few strategically placed DNPs could allow them to keep their pick. Either way, Love wanted to stay in Cleveland. That’s a nice change for a city that doesn’t have a lot of experience with that. The goalposts for success have changed, but after years of watching this team trudge through the doldrums of the regular season, this young, talented team could be a lot of fun for fans to watch night in and night out.




Follow David on Twitter @dmcgowan24


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