The long NBA season wrapped up in mid-June and it ended with the Golden State Warriors taking home their first championship as a franchise since 1975. Draymond Green, a player with one of the most successful collegiate careers in recent memory who is now on his way to making more than $16 million per year, served an unexpected key role on that championship run.Green is a very talented player. He can shoot from the outside, pass exceptionally for someone his size and display great versatility on defense. But, it’s his fiery spirit and consistent passion for the sport that may be his most important asset, as it’s something that isn’t found often in the NBA.On the other hand, that passion is at the foundation of the college game and is a big reason people are so drawn to the sport, especially during the NCAA tournament. I wouldn’t be shocked to hear that four years at Michigan State played a key role in helping a guy like Green develop that fire and emotion on the court.In fact, Green said during the news conference announcing his contract extension, his college coach, Tom Izzo, made him the man he is today.“That’s the thing I love about Coach Izzo is, him raising you into a man when you get to his program is 10 times more important than what type of basketball player you become,” he said.Sooo…… Them Spartans!!!!— Draymond Green (@Money23Green) March 29, 2015Yet, it’s become a common belief, especially among NBA fans, that college basketball is simply — in the words of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban — “unwatchable.” Among their arguments are that the players aren’t athletic enough, quick enough or strong enough, along with other complaints that can’t be avoided because, simply put, they’re amateurs.What do you expect?There is, however, a series of arguments that actually carry some weight and have been addressed for this coming season: The game is too slow. There aren’t enough points scored. Nobody wants to watch a team dribble the ball around for 30 seconds and then take a bad shot.All are legitimate and sometimes true. Scoring in many college games only reaches the 60’s and 70’s, at times with possessions seemingly dragging on forever. This is why the NCAA changed the previously 35-second shot clock to 30-seconds for the upcoming 2015-16 season and beyond. They have also cut the number of total timeouts from five to four, with the number that can carry over to the second half limited to three.The rule changes have been put in place in an effort to speed up the game, increase possessions and ultimately create a more “watchable” game.This is all happening despite the fact that people are still watching, and they’re watching more than ever before. According to the Nielsen television ratings, the average viewership of this year’s “March Madness” was the highest in 22 years, averaging 11.3 million total viewers.Thirty-eight and no: Wisconsin moves on to national championship game with stunning win over undefeated KentuckyINDIANAPOLIS – The Wisconsin men’s basketball team was able to do something no other team has done all season. No Read…The NCAA National Championship game between Wisconsin and Duke averaged 28.3 million total viewers, making it the most-watched championship game in 18 years. This is despite the fact that one of the teams in that championship game, Wisconsin, ranked 346th out of 351 NCAA Division 1 teams in pace of play, averaging just over 61 possessions per game.Déjà blue: Wisconsin’s historic season ends in heartbreaking loss to Duke in national championship gameINDIANAPOLIS – The best season in Wisconsin men’s basketball history will end on the most disappointing of notes. Wisconsin, playing Read…Yet, people continue to complain.The suggestion that college hoops is “unwatchable” doesn’t stem from the rules or shot clock or number of possessions – it never did. If anything, it stems from the new one-and-done trend in the college game. That’s what stagnates the game and ultimately makes it “unwatchable.”Kohlbeck: One-and-done wins, but the Wisconsin method is way more funThe talk around college basketball “one-and-done” players and “four-year” players is reaching its highest watermark in the history of the Read…For me, the only thing that is unwatchable about college hoops are the tears shed by student-athletes after they realize their season or career is over after the final buzzer. The outpour of emotion when they realize they will never again put on a uniform that represents what their life has been for the past four years. The coaches, players and fans all realizing they have to start all over next year. That’s unwatchable.I was in the locker room after Wisconsin’s national championship. It was overrun with emotion. Grown men were sobbing because they felt as if all their hard work was for nothing.And I couldn’t watch it.Yet, it’s that emotion that makes college basketball great. There is an all-around passion and excitement that you just don’t find in any other sport. It’s four-year guys like Draymond Green and Wisconsin’s own Frank Kaminsky showing their competitive nature on the floor, while also showing they’re still college kids off the floor, that make this sport what it is.Never been more proud of a group in my entire life. What we achieved will never be taken away from us. Thank you for having me @UWMadison— Frank Kaminsky III (@FSKPart3) April 7, 2015Having the opportunity to watch these guys grow over four years, both as basketball players and as people, is a rarity that I feel we are beginning to take for granted.Now, with so many talented players leaving school to pursue bigger and better things after just their freshman season, we don’t see the four-year college stars as often.So yes, I’m happy to see changes made to the sport that improve the pace and flow of the game, but as long as the passion, fire and emotion that make the college game so unique are all still there, I’ll be watching. I’ll always be watching.
With a James-Leonard-Paul nucleus, it wouldn’t even matter if LeBron is getting up there at 33 and Paul gets hurt every spring. They could just play LeBron 50 games during the season, and let CP3 take the whole thing off and just play in the postseason!Oh, right, and then there’s real life.What’s the difference between “headlines” and “events?”In an “event,” something happens.In a “headline,” nothing has to happen. Popovich has long cautioned against deals that help West rivals. In a notorious exception in 2007, his trusty GM, R.C. Buford, got him to trade the rights to Luis Scola to Houston. Scola became a Rockets mainstay and the Spurs received nothing from the deal. Popovich is said to have clenched his teeth for months.If seeing Scola in Houston would have been a 1 on the Spurs’ 10-point scale of devastating, Kawhi in a Lakers uniform would be off the charts.Far likelier is a deal to an Eastern Conference team. With Boston sure to be as interested as the Lakers, that could mean San Antonio acquiring a glowing prospect like Jayson Tatum or, perhaps, two, such as Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier.Interestingly, there might be another local option for Leonard if Pop bars the door to the Lakers. … the Clippers, who would presumably offer all they have – take DeAndre Jordan, please – to rebuild around Kawhi.With less fear of building a Clippers dynasty than helping create yet another Lakers dynasty, Popovich might go for that.All this will remain speculation until something actually happens, presumably in July, although more reports from the Worldwide Leader will be along momentarily. VIDEO: Watch Kyle Kuzma’s game winner and what he said about it Video highlights, social media reaction after Blazers shock Lakers, 100-93 How social media reacted after Lakers rout Blazers on Kobe night, 135-115 On Mamba’s day, councilmen aim to create Kobe Bryant Boulevard Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Coming early this year … it’s Christmas in Lakerdom!Kawhi Leonard wants to be a Laker!LeBron James might want to, too! With Kawhi here, the Lakers could move from co-favorites with Houston into leading contenders!LeBron might still be able to bring yet another big free agent, like his pal, Chris Paul, or Paul George. Jubilation, anguish as race for NBA’s Western 8th seed gets as close as ever Sign up for Home Turf and get 3 exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.Even before ESPN scoopmaster Adrian Wojnarowski reported – credibly, as ever – that Leonard wants to be traded to the Lakers, a pundit for the Worldwide Leader in Sports had thrown out the fantastic possibility of Kawhi, LeBron and CP3 – all – joining the Lakers.That story, by Kevin Pelton, is speculative … but technically possible.What has changed are the presumed ground rules in the LeBron Derby: The Cavaliers, long aware James might leave, are now expected to seek something back by agreeing to trade him to the team he chooses.Interested teams no longer need to create a $36 million maximum salary slot on their own. The Lakers, who already have close to two max slots, could get LeBron and two more superstars.If the Cavs take back salary along with prospects, what had concerned only a few teams has been broken wide open. The result will be a fantastic level of wheeling and dealing, possibilities, and headlines, such as today’s.Since anyone can say anything, it’s wise to stick with the little that we know … which suggests, at least to me, that Kawhi is exceedingly unlikely to become a Laker.It has long been known that the newly enigmatic Leonard, coming off a season that he largely took off with a minor-looking injury, wants to be a Laker. Wojnarokwsi reported as much months ago.Woj also reported that the Spurs have put their mis-spent season behind them and will sit down with Kawhi in the hope of finding out where his head is and, if still on Earth, wooing him back with the super-maximum $219 million extension only they can offer him.Kawhi’s people have reportedly not conveyed his desire to be traded to the team. Without risking a tampering bust, they can’t have told the Lakers … although the Lakers not only know about it but are assuredly wide-eyed at the prospect, which would take precedence, even over James, who’s seven years older, almost two generations in NBA time.That’s as far as anyone has reported it has gotten, until now with the season’s end and the yawning news hole prompting the speculation that’s now racing ahead of events.This thing still must proceed in steps.• Leonard and the Spurs will presumably meet although no timetable has been reported.They’ll either fall into each others’ arms and agree last season was a big misunderstanding, or not, in which case the team really will shop Kawhi.• If Leonard is leaving, Spurs boss Gregg Popovich will help decide where he’s going, with Kawhi under contract for next season.I can’t imagine Popovich, who is as transparent as he is principled, trading Leonard in a deal that could create another Western Conference super-power … and, worse still, in the person of their old arch-rivals, the Lakers.Related Articles