Basketball fans love dissecting NBA legacies. Basketball is a team sport where individual talent can impact how a game ends, and the league has seen many stars move the game in different ways.

However, fans love comparing one legacy to another. It doesn’t matter if the player played in the sixties. They’ll be put beside a player with the latest training and scientific advances, whether warranted or not.

One of the most common ways media analysts and Facebook users argue about a player’s greatness is the number of rings won. Fans will use their championships to determine whether a player is a better player than another.

However, Damian Lillard called out this method of discourse in a recent interview. This OKBET Sports piece will look into what Dame Time said about the level of discourse regarding NBA legacies and why it should improve.

Lillard Calls Out Ring Culture

Lillard is one of the league’s most exciting guards, but his championship window is quickly closing, if not already shut. This fact hasn’t escaped the media and fans who expected Lillard to leave the Portland Trail Blazers and chase after the elusive NBA championship.

During his appearance at JJ Reddick’s Old Man and the Three podcast, he discussed and questioned why ring culture matters greatly to today’s NBA fans.

Some will call Lillard’s take as an excuse for his inability to win rings. Others might see it as a sign of the star guard giving up on his championship hopes. However, Dame Time didn’t mince words when it came to how he sees everyone’s fixation on championships and rings. 

Lillard believes that NBA players who take their craft seriously want to win an NBA championship. The fact they’re competing at the highest level is proof of that desire. You can also see with his play this year: he’s averaging 32.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 7.3 assists on 47% shooting and 37% from deep.

However, he also noted that fans shouldn’t discredit these players’ journeys regardless of the number of championship rings they have on their fingers. He thinks players should also be honored for their on-court contributions.

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Best Players with “Terrible” NBA Legacies

Lillard made a great point regarding the toxicity of ring culture. The fixation of fans and media on rings takes away from the fantastic achievements the game’s brightest (albeit ringless) stars made.

Here’s a quick list of players who don’t get enough love because they didn’t win it all:

Allen Iverson

AI was controversial as an NBA player, but his influence in today’s game is undeniable. Thanks to his incredible crossovers and sheer athleticism, today’s NBA is full of skilled dribblers.

He only made the NBA Finals once, where he had to carry a Philadelphia 76ers team against Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers. His Sixers lost in five games.

Reggie Miller

Speaking of an influential player, Reggie Miller was one of the best prototypes of the three-point revolution in the nineties. He was considered the best three-point shooter until a certain Stephen Curry flipped the term on its head.

Like Iverson, the man known as the Knick Killer only made one Finals appearance. He lost the 2000 Finals in six games to Kobe and Shaq. He also didn’t win a ring in his prime years due to a guy wearing 23 on the Chicago Bulls in the nineties.

George Gervin

Gervin may be an unknown player for most of today’s NBA fanbase, but he is widely considered as one of the best scorers in the seventies. Playing almost his entire career with the San Antonio Spurs, he was a talented forward who could score like a speedy guard. It’s a familiar concept nowadays, but it was unheard of during his time.

The Iceman did become teammates with Michael Jordan, but the Bulls still didn’t have a team ready to compete. He finished his career playing elsewhere.

How Do Teams Win Championships?

While it’s unfair, it’s hard for many not to use championships as the ultimate determinant of which NBA legacies matter more. Identifying the key metrics of a championship team may clarify what is necessary for any team to win a ring.

Multiple star players are one of the most critical cogs of any championship team. Bill Russell won so many rings because he played with other talented players. The Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors of the 2010s also won because of their core of stars.

The scoring distribution is also vital. Role players should be able to step up if the team’s stars are double-teamed. The quality of defense also matters for championship-caliber teams. Some of the most iconic plays in NBA playoffs are defensive, after all.

Finally, a fantastic coach can do a lot for a star player. Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich, and Steve Kerr are great basketball minds that helped some of the greatest players alive reach the summit multiple times.

Great players who don’t get the ring usually lack one of the things mentioned above. If they’re incredibly unlucky, they might go through their careers without all three qualities.

Look at NBA Legacies Differently

What Damian Lillard is asking out of basketball fans is simple: stop rating NBA legacies simply on the number of championship rings they have on their fingers. The game of basketball is more nuanced than that. Limiting greatness to the number of rings available results in reductive discourse.

However, it takes much more than just a statement from a great player to extinguish ring culture. Championships matter in a competitive sport. The fact that only one team out of 30 can win it all every season makes the value of these championships soar. 

Moreover, talking about NBA legacies is fun when you can quantify a player’s greatness. Rings are more than a quantifiable asset that 

Until a paradigm shift in basketball discourse happens, expect ring talk to continue for years. However, don’t expect Dame to be affected by it:

Read more: Kaoru Mitoma: A Literal Football Scholar

One thing that makes football fascinating is the diversity of people that love and play this sport. From driven individuals fighting for a better life to confident players that bet on their skills, you can meet almost countless varieties of people that call soccer their favorite sport.

However, you rarely encounter an individual who takes a scholarly approach to the game. After all, professional football players usually let go of their academic careers in favor of the Beautiful Game.

However, Kaoru Mitoma is a different kind of animal. He’s shown throughout his young career that having an academic approach to the game can also result in goals and wins for a Premier League team.

This OKBET Sports piece will detail how Mitoma broke into his unconventional rise to football relevance. We’ll also discuss his current performance for Brighton and his potential suitors.

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An Unusual Rise to Relevance

Kaoru Mitoma was born on May 20, 1997, in Kanagawa, Japan. He grew up in Kawasaki and was naturally drawn to the Beautiful Game. Since he grew up in the area and showed a flair for the game, he joined local J1 League team Kawasaki Frontale’s Under-10 squad.

Not much is known about Mitoma’s childhood. However, his excellent footballing skills saw him quickly rise through the academy as a notable youth prospect. By age 16, his boyhood club had offered him a professional contract.

This is the part where Mitoma takes a tangent compared to other young footballers his age. He looked at how his peers were faring in the league and assessed his form at the time. He decided that he still needed time to develop his game and opted to go to college.

Kaoru Mitoma studied Physical Education at the University of Tsukuba and developed his footballing skills. During his collegiate years, he conducted his now-famous study on the art of dribbling.

The future Brighton winger attached GoPros to his and his teammates’ heads to see where they looked when dribbling the ball. He discovered that good dribblers rarely looked at the ball and focused on the players around him to steer the game’s flow in their favor.

A Thunderous Start to His Career

After completing his college education, Mitoma immediately signed a professional contract with Kawasaki. He immediately played most of the team’s J1 League games, proving to be an unstoppable force from the wing.

Mitoma spectacularly finished his debut season with 13 league goals and 12 assists. He was named into the 2020 J1 League Best XI alongside most of his Kawasaki teammates after they convincingly won the 2020 season.

Kawasaki fans were treated to more of the same caliber of performances that amazed the Japanese crowd the first time around. His numbers fell off a bit (eight goals and four assists in 20 appearances), but it was still impressive for a young player with limited professional experience.

Kaoru Mitoma, Brighton Player

His two solid seasons at Kawasaki were enough for Brighton Hove & Albion’s scouting department to pick him up. The Premier League team bought him for a measly €3 million in the 2021 summer transfer window.

While he has the tools to succeed in the English game, he needed playing time to get accustomed to playing in Europe. He was then loaned off to Union SG of the Belgian Pro League to gain experience.

The Japanese winger kept on playing the fantastic brand of football that made him a fan favorite in his motherland. He put up solid numbers in his lone season in Belgium, notching five goals and four assists in 21 league games.

His Belgian stopover was enough for Graham Potter to keep him in the squad for the 2022/23 season. While he was deemed good enough for the English top flight, he wasn’t a fixture in Potter’s squad.

His fortunes turned for the better when Potter left the club for Chelsea. Roberto de Zerbi named him into his First XI, and the world was treated to a delightful display.

The season is still far from over, but he already has a good account for himself. He has six goals and two assists in 19 league games. With his marauding runs from the left wing, Brighton and Premier League fans can only expect better things from the 25-year-old.

Why Is Kaoru Mitoma an Effective Player?

Soccer fans who regularly watch Brighton play will note that Mitoma’s greatest strength is his dribbling. His undergraduate thesis undoubtedly helped him find the right approach to dribbling, making him a high-value commodity in today’s game.

He dribbles the ball upright, and his eyes constantly scour the field to find open spaces. He then uses his excellent speed and change of pace to dribble past opponents and traps that would have a lesser dribbler lose the ball.

Moreover, he’s comfortable using the inside and outside of his boots. He adds the right amount of English to his crosses and passes to ensure his teammates would be the only ones to get to the ball.

His superb dribbling skills also help him get into uncomfortable spaces inside the penalty box. He’s developed a knack for converting these chances into goals, proven by his six league goals.

Watch this informative video to learn more about Mitoma’s dribbling skill:

Big Clubs Swirling Around Kaoru Mitoma

It’s rare for an Asian footballer to become a reliable asset in the Premier League. Given his age and skill set, it’s understandable that other clubs are interested in acquiring his services.

Arsenal is one of the biggest clubs linked with the Japanese player. The Gunners could use quality to improve their squad depth, and the winger will make Gabriel Martinelli and Leandro Trossard look over their shoulders.

Liverpool is another club that could be interested in acquiring his signature. While they have plenty of left wingers, they all have similar games. Should Mitoma be swooped up by Jurgen Klopp, he’ll provide a different dimension that will make the Reds unpredictable on the attack.

Are You Ready for Kaoru Mitoma?

Mitoma is one of the cogs behind Brighton’s high-flying season, and his career trajectory shows that his feats weren’t flukes. With his current form and drive, there’s no reason he wouldn’t become a beloved player for the Seagulls (or whichever club sweeps him up in the summer).

Read more: Could Hamilton Leave Mercedes for Ferrari?

Lewis Hamilton is a polarizing Formula 1 driver.

His most passionate fans will rave about his incredibly aggressive driving. On the other hand, his harshest critics will consistently point out that he was carried by the great cars McLaren and Mercedes put on the grid.

Regardless of what people think, he’s still widely considered one of the best drivers to grace the F1 paddock. The fact that he’s still a great driver at 38 is a testament to his fantastic driving talent.

However, Mercedes’ most recent showings place Hamilton in an unfamiliar situation. The German manufacturer’s cars have been disappointing this season, and the gulf in quality shows in their performances in 2022.

Before the Bahrain Grand Prix, it was difficult imagining the 38-year-old Brit donning anything other than a Mercedes race suit. However, the man in question made a bold claim that could radically transform the pro motorsport scene.

Lewis Hamilton is a Ferrari fan.

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A Marriage in Trouble

A great car has been one of the reasons why Mercedes performed well over the season. Toto Wolff did a fantastic job leading the team to engineer bullets that can cut through tracks for much of the 2010s.

However, this decade hasn’t been kind to the F1 giants. The 2020 season ended with another win for Hamilton and Mercedes, but 2021 saw Red Bull find the winning formula to maximize their car’s performance. This saw Max Verstappen’s position in the Driver’s Championship pecking order shoot up and put on one of the most entertaining rivalries in recent memory.

Verstappen came out of the duel on top, winning his first World Drivers’ Championship as a result. Hamilton and Mercedes spent the following season trying to return to their winning ways.

However, what resulted was a disappointing car for the Silver Arrows. It was clear to everyone that Mercedes had a terrible car by the Australian Grand Prix. They tried everything they could to bring the car to their high standards, but the Drivers and Constructors titles were long gone by the time they saw progress.

The season also became historic to Hamilton for one wrong reason: it was the first time in his career that he didn’t win a single race in the calendar.

An Unraveling in Bahrain

Mercedes did plenty of tinkering in the offseason to avoid a similar fate this season. Unfortunately, some of the more prominent voices within the team believed their pre-season testing wasn’t enough to iron out any issues the car may have.

Their doubts were proven correct as they struggled to hit the ground running. After Fernando Alonso put up incredible numbers for Aston Martin in qualifying, Hamilton was seventh in the grid. George Russell finished slightly above him in sixth.

The race didn’t go as well for Hamilton. He managed to keep up in the race’s opening laps, but Alonso eventually showed the difference in their cars in an exciting overtake in the 38th lap.

The second-oldest driver in the F1 grid would have finished sixth if Charles Leclerc didn’t have to retire due to engine failure.

Hamilton and Mercedes to Divorce?

Mercedes’ struggles in Bahrain make one thing clear: they’re in no shape to contend against Red Bull for this year’s championship. It’s beginning to look like a repeat of last season, where they must catch up to an already-untouchable Red Bull Racing team.

Hamilton was very vocal about his disappointment with the German manufacturers, even claiming he understands what a car needs to go faster. He believed the team’s engineers didn’t consider his pointers when creating the W14.

His outbursts didn’t go unnoticed, as his team immediately penned an open letter about the situation. Mercedes relayed their disappointment with how their season started and are turning every stone to find the correct remedy to their slow pace.

While they assured the public that there would be no knee-jerk reactions, it’s understood that technical director Mike Elliott is in the hot seat. If they don’t manage to turn things around, he’s probably the first to be shown the door.

This also makes the uncertainty of Hamilton’s future all the more uncertain. The Brit still hasn’t signed an extension with Mercedes, and he could easily pack his bags if he thinks Mercedes cannot field a winning car this season.

Is Ferrari the Right Destination for Hamilton?

If Hamilton decides to ditch Mercedes at the end of his contract, almost everyone on the paddock will move heaven and earth to sign him. However, he’s made it clear that driving for Ferrari is a particularly big dream of his.

The former McLaren driver said he always looked for an opportunity to drive for the Prancing Horse. However, he also pointed out that the stars never aligned for him to get to race for such a historic F1 team.

He may get to fulfill his dream as Ferrari may need to look for another driver sooner than later.

Ferrari was full of confidence coming into the 2023 campaign. Under the leadership of new team principal Fred Vasseur, their pre-season testing numbers were nothing short of spectacular. Many thought they’d be giving Red Bull a run for their money.

However, not one Ferrari driver was on the podium in Bahrain. Sainz finished at P4, while Leclerc was left on the sidelines with a DNF. Leclerc is reportedly fuming at the team’s performances after one F1 race and has written to the board about his issues.

Their on-track performance in Bahrain isn’t the only red flag for Hamilton. There are talks of Vasseur’s frustration with his situation within the Ferrari organization. There are also reports of key personnel leaving the team for other positions.

If Hamilton does decide to leave for Ferrari, it may be akin to exchanging one lemon car for another. However, Scuderia Ferrari still has a better car than Mercedes. If they fix their reliability issues within the following Grands Prix, they will become the most popular destination for the Brit.

What Happens Next?

It’s a rough start to the 2023 campaign for the Silver Arrows, but the season is long. As long as they can show Lewis Hamilton that they’re still a top team that can help him reach his eighth championship, there’s no reason why he wouldn’t re-sign for at least one more season.

However, things are looking bleak for Hamilton’s relationship with Mercedes. And if he does decide to don red, the Formula 1 paddock will never be the same again.

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Read more: What’s Happening at Chelsea?

Chelsea has become a football club synonymous with success. They are one of the supernovas of European football after Roman Abramovich transformed the club into a juggernaut with players that let them win titles left, right and center.

However, a period of uncertainty overshadowed the club. Abramovich had to vacate his seat as Chelsea owner due to off-pitch issues and sold the club to American venture capitalists. The team’s new owners promised its legions of supporters the club would remain dominant in the Premier League.

However, they sit way outside of the Premier League’s top four. While they have one of the most talented squads in England, they’re struggling to put together consistent performances to keep them in contention for the league’s summit.

This OKBET Sports piece will detail the sale that changed Chelsea’s course, their current struggles, and what the future could look like for the Blues.

The Sale That Transformed Chelsea

It’s hard to say if Chelsea wouldn’t have been in the same situation if the Abramovich family still took charge of the club. However, It was clear from the outset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine that he wouldn’t be able to hold onto the club he had nurtured for almost two decades.

The Premier League froze Abramovich’s control over the club due to his connections with Vladimir Putin. He decided to sell the club soon after the sanctions hit to protect the club from going under.

Investors started lining up the moment Abramovich announced the sale of his club. Sir Jim Ratcliffe was among the large number of people that were interested in acquiring the club. Other buyers included the Ricketts family, Woody Johnson, and the Saudi Media Corporation.

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However, a consortium led by Todd Boehly, Hansjorg Wyss, and Jonathan Goldstein won the bid for the storied club. The final price tag for the London club was a staggering £4.25 billion.

There was plenty of uncertainty following that sale. After all, taking over a club where the previous owner ushered one of the club’s most successful periods is challenging. Boehly and company promised that the club would stay on its winning ways.

Boehly’s First Transfers

The club’s new owners immediately got into acquiring new talents. Aside from bolstering the squad, this transfer window was their first opportunity to make a statement.

And made one they did. The club spent €611 million in the summer window alone to acquire new players.

One of the reasons for the hefty bill they shouldered is their chase for Premier League talents. Leicester’s Wesley Fofana was their biggest summer purchase, costing them €80.4 million. 

Brighton’s Marc Cucurella and Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling also made the switch to Stamford Bridge. The right back was sold to them for €65.3 million, while the winger was shipped off for a cool €56.2 million. 

The Blues’ other signings included Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly, Carney Chukwuemeka, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Tuchel’s Departure

The early days of the Boehly era were interesting for Thomas Tuchel. The manager was hired during the Abramovich era and has been a great presence in the Chelsea locker room. He helped the Blues win the Champions League during his stay with the club.

However, tensions quickly flared up as there was a noticeable discord between Tuchel and the Chelsea board. The German’s professional relationships in the club quickly disintegrated as they started the season on the wrong foot.

Tuchel’s reign as Chelsea manager ended when the club lost 1-0 to Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League group stage. His one-and-a-half-year stint with the London club saw him win 60 of the 100 games he managed.

In Comes Potter

The board replaced Tuchel with Brighton boss Graham Potter. He may not be a household name for casual soccer fans, but he’s built an impressive resume that allowed him to land such a prestigious job.

Potter toiled his way to the top of the footballing pyramid. His first significant managerial position was at Ostersunds. He helped the Swedish club reach the top flight within five years of managing the side.

The English footballing public first became familiar with him after leading Ostersunds past Arsenal at the Emirates in the 2017-18 Champions League.

His feats in Sweden were noticed back home. Swansea, a club relegated from the Premier League in 2018, decided to give the former York City player a try. He immediately made his impact felt on the pitch as the Swans finished tenth in the Championship.

It didn’t take long for another club to want his talents. Brighton immediately swooped him up after firing Chris Hughton. True to his incredible rise, the Seagulls immediately felt positive changes in their play.

They played solid football under Potter and made great runs in the FA and League Cups. More impressively, they managed to maintain their status as a Premier League side despite the countless players that came and went through their doors.

Potter’s Rough Start at Stamford Bridge

The Potter Effect had an immediate boost on Chelsea’s style of play. While the Blues started the Potter era with a 1-1 Champions League draw to Salzburg, they immediately bounced back with five consecutive wins in domestic and international competitions. 

One of the biggest highlights of the stretch was a 3-0 drubbing they caused on defending Serie A champions AC Milan.

Their good form continued until the end of October, as cracks began showing in Potter’s tactics. They suffered a heavy 4-1 defeat to Potter’s former club. 

After the Brighton game, the Blues would face a series of tough contests against Arsenal, Manchester City, and Newcastle. Fans expected Potter’s Blues to bounce back after such a defeat.

Unfortunately, Potter’s men stumbled in all three games. Their 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Gunners was excruciating as it happened in front of their home fans.

The rough patch stretched until after the World Cup. While they won their first post-World Cup Premier League game against Bournemouth, they’ve struggled for form. Their 4-0 humiliation against the Sky Blues was a particularly low point for Chelsea fans.

They’ve put together better performances recently, with their Champions League against Borussia Dortmund a spectacular high. They also made January signings, with Mykhaylo Mudryk and Enzo Fernandez their most expensive purchases.

However, it doesn’t erase the bitterness of their current situation in the league. If this keeps up, Potter’s job security will be at risk.

Why Is Chelsea Struggling?

There are different reasons why the Blues struggle to put together a strong Premier League campaign. While some of the reasons lie with Potter, putting all the blame on his shoulders would be unfair.

The first part of the problem lies with their personnel. They lost Antonio Rudiger, Timo Werner, Marcos Alonso, and Andreas Christensen were enormous losses for the club. The club completed a lot of signings in the summer, but many of their acquisitions failed to work out.

The team’s size is also having an impact on Potter’s training regimen. The 31-man first-team squad became too large that the team’s head coach struggled to run his training sessions.

Potter also contributed to the issue. While the Blues don’t have the strongest squad in the league, they have enough quality on their bench. They should be able to at least compete at the summit. Potter’s failure to maximize his squad’s strengths is worth criticizing.

Finally, injuries affected how the team’s on-field prowess. Plenty of their first-team players had to spend time on the bench for various reasons. The inability to play full-strength sides affected both Tuchel and Potter.

Can Chelsea Bounce Back?

There have been calls to replace Potter once the current campaign is over. The Premier League is results-oriented, so an underperforming manager can quickly get the boot.

However, Mikel Arteta proved that any great head coach could thrive if given enough time to create their ideal squad. The squad Potter inherited isn’t exactly suited for his style of play, and it will probably take an entire summer before he can find what works for his tactics.

Chelsea should give Potter a full year in charge if it wants to be sustainable. His track record shows that he can win with enough preparation. Giving him a summer to find his ideal players will allow the Blues to return to their winning ways under Abramovich.

Of course, they can also try buying their way out of trouble.

Read more: Is the PBA Still Relevant?

The Philippines stands out from its other Asian neighbors due to its devotion to basketball. The PBA is among the most significant contributors to the country’s fascination with the sport. It’s also become the driving force for generations of its outstanding basketball talent.

Many believed that the Philippines would always stand head and shoulders above the rest when it came to basketball. However, the most recent showings of the PBA’s top teams in the East Asia Super League (EASL) smeared the once-gleaming reputation of Filipino hoops.

This OKBET Sports article will dissect what transpired when the league’s top teams faced other Asian ball clubs in the EASL and the possible reasons behind their dismal performance. We’ll also present possible solutions that would help the PBA improve the quality of its play.

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PBA Teams Shamed in Asia

The San Miguel Beermen and TNT Tropang Giga were the PBA’s representatives for the EASL Champions Week. It’s a week-long competition where eight of the best pro basketball teams from the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, and Chinese-Taipei squared off in Okinawa, Japan.

They were slated to face off against the best teams from the B-League and the KBL. Some Filipino hoops fans looked forward to this as these leagues poached some of the best young talents from the UAAP and NCAA.

San Miguel Beermen

San Miguel first squared off against the Ryukyu Golden Kings, the runners-up of the B-League. They had former UP Fighting Maroon Carl Tamayo as their Asian import, which set up an exciting battle.

The game started on even footing, with San Miguel trading shots with Ryukyu. However, the gap in quality eventually reared its head when the Golden Kings finally pulled away from the Beermen. The Philippine Cup champions lost heavily, 96-68.

The 2022 Philippine Cup champions had a chance to finish the week on a high note when they faced KBL runners-up Anyang KGC, the KBL’s runners-up and current employers of Rhenz Abando. After such a heavy defeat to Tamayo’s Golden Kings, Jorge Gallent will be eager to finish their Japan tour with more fight in them.

However, they were once again stunned. This time, the Beermen lost in a more humiliating fashion. Their final game in Japan ended in a rough 142-87 loss.

TNT Tropang Giga

Comparing the caliber of competition the two teams faced, TNT had the more difficult gauntlet. They had to square off against defending champions, B-League’s Utsunomiya Brex and KBL’s Seoul SK Knights.

The Utsunomiya game was tough to watch for TNT’s die-hard fans. The team lacked the defensive cohesion to go against the Utsunomiya’s defensive schemes. They were always caught flat-footed, which allowed the B-League champs to finish with an impressive 99-66 final score.

Jojo Lastimosa quickly tore up his game plan after the humiliating 33-point defeat to put on a better show against the Knights. The Tropang Texters performed better this time, keeping up with the defending KBL champions for much of the game.

However, the better-drilled Knights put some distance between the two. Kelly Williams was a defensive liability in both games, but his inactivity on defense cost what otherwise could have been a winnable game.

The second contest ended in an 80-69 loss for TNT.

Why Did the PBA Trip Internationally?

After such disappointing displays, it’s understandable that the spotlight is hot for the PBA teams. Some hoops fans expressed frustration and doubts at the situation of Philippine basketball after the embarrassing thrashing their teams experienced:

 

Thirdy Ravena, the Filipino player who started the diaspora of PBA talent overseas, had this to say to his and his brother Kiefer’s critics:

There are voices in the crowd that defended the league’s abysmal performances, though. Former PBA player Bacon Austria had this to say about the entire situation:

It doesn’t matter whether the PBA took the EASL Champions Week seriously. They floundered terribly on the international stage as the top teams of the second-oldest professional basketball league in the world.

Finger-pointing is inevitable after such a disappointing performance. However, identifying the key reasons for these deflating defeats would help improve the teams’ performance in domestic and international competitions.

Gulf in Coaching Quality

The most casual basketball fans can notice the difference in the coaching quality between the PBA teams and their Korean and Japanese counterparts.

Their opponents quickly overpowered both San Miguel and TNT on offense. The defensive game plans of the Filipino teams were rendered useless as their opponents got to do whatever they wanted. The bigs were especially exposed as their marks freely shot from long range.

The same thing happened when it came to the offensive side. The PBA’s iso-heavy dribble-drive offensive plays were also stopped by their opponents. With the point of attack only coming from certain players, it became easy for their opponents to plug the gaps by the second half.

Import Chemistry

The EASL allows two American imports on their teams compared to the PBA. To even the playing field, San Miguel and TNT hired imports to play for this tournament alone.

The lack of chemistry between the newly inserted imports and the rest of the teams was evident. While they managed to play well, the lack of enough game time with the second import meant locals watched on the sidelines as their two imports did all the work.

Finding their roles in the new rotation was also tough for the local players. Since they weren’t used to playing with two imports on the floor at the same time, the Filipino players struggled to find ways where they could be effective.

Schedules, Injuries, and Logistics

Yet another reason behind the PBA’s failures abroad is the nature of the tournament itself. San Miguel and TNT had to play tight schedules and incorporate practice time with their second import, leaving little rest for their bodies.

The locations also had an impact on their performance. Flying to Japan for basketball is tough when cramming the Champions Week between a busy PBA season.

When San Miguel had to play Utsunomiya, their play was affected by the cold climate. While the teams performed slightly better in Okinawa, it was obvious to everyone watching that they were out of their depth.

It also didn’t help that some of their best players were injured. June Mar Fajardo and Chris Ross were two of the biggest misses for the PBA teams when they competed in Japan.

How Can the PBA Improve Internationally?

Ever since the dust settled on the PBA’s embarrassment, there were questions about whether the league should participate in the next tournament. 

PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial assured the public that the league will still compete in the next EASL tournament. He revealed that they’re ironing out the details with other member organizations.

However, doing the same thing they’ve been doing locally is fruitless internationally. How can they improve upon their dismal performances?

Incorporate More Imports

One of the best measures the PBA can use to improve their quality of play is to allow more imports to play on their teams. More imports will allow local talent to get used to playing multiple foreign players on one team.

It will also help smaller teams remain competitive in a league skewed toward the most popular teams. If one import gets injured, they will still have another one ready to contribute.

Of course, finding the right balance between the locals and imports is a challenging task to fulfill. It’s up to the league to introduce measures to ensure local players can still get playing time despite the presence of these two imports.

Ateneo head coach and former Gilas Pilipinas tactician Tab Baldwin warned of this beforehand, and the EASL proves him correct.

Allow Foreigners to Coach in the PBA

The biggest talking point for Filipino basketball fans is how badly coached the PBA delegation was compared to their East Asian opponents. Part of the reason why this is the case is the lack of innovation in the local game.

The other reason is the influx of foreign coaches introducing different coaching systems. Tim Cone is one of the most successful foreign coaches in the PBA, but it’s been a while since any coach significantly changed the PBA meta.

Baldwin also called out the league’s lack of tactical innovation. Cone took offense on behalf of the PBA coaches, but he was again correct with his prediction.

If they allow more basketball styles to change how the game is played, the quality of the basketball played in the PBA will benefit.

Improve Scouting and Training

It’s also apparent from San Miguel and TNT’s performances in the EASL that they didn’t know what their opponents would do. The opposing bigs were free to shoot from the three-point arc because their marks were instructed to guard the paint.

Moreover, there is also a slight skill difference. While PBA guards can dribble their way out of trouble, it’s hard for them to create anything unless they have an open lane to drive to. The local big men also struggle to shoot from anywhere beyond the key.

The game has changed significantly, and it’s painfully apparent to the casual fan that the PBA has been left behind. Proper scouting and training regimens must be introduced to make the players more versatile on the floor.

What Should the PBA Do Moving Forward?

The PBA’s dismal showings in the East Asia Super League should be a wake-up call for Philippine basketball. The league suffered a significant blow to its image, while hoops fans who stopped watching the league would feel vindicated.

It’s up to the league to figure out how to stay competitive if they continue playing in the EASL. Some necessary changes that will improve the team internationally will be unpopular. After all, nobody in the league likes changing the status quo.

However, these growing pains are necessary for the sake of PH basketball. If they don’t try to find ways to improve the product, the league will eventually find itself lagging behind its neighbors.

Read more: MPBL 2023: What’s New With Pacquiao’s Basketball Product?

We’re almost a quarter into the year. This means MPBL 2023 is almost upon Filipino hoops fans who want to see exciting hoops action!

The popular region-based basketball league started by Manny Pacquiao is returning for its fifth season. It’s poised to become one of the country’s most exciting professional basketball leagues with the features it’s bringing to the professional sports scene. 

With 30 teams under its roster and a renewed partnership with OKBET, it’s cementing its place in Filipino basketball as a great PBA alternative.

This piece will focus on the professional basketball league’s renewed partnership with the country’s leading sportsbook and the teams participating. We’ll also look at the league’s first games of the season.

MPBL Rehashes Partnership with OKBET

The 2022 MPBL season saw a successful partnership between the professional basketball league and the country’s leading sports betting provider. It made sense for the parties involved to continue their relationship into the coming season.

According to Manila Bulletin, Pacquiao announced that he was happy to retain the league’s association with OKBET due to its dedication to improving the local basketball scene.

“I am looking forward to continue working with OKBET, which is one of our trusted partners in championing sports development and the welfare of our Filipino athletes,” the former Senator said during the online betting platform’s Together We Rise event at Hilton Manila Hotel on February 16, 2023.

The former eight-division world champion emphasized the online betting brand’s willingness to support the league and hopes OKBET will become a reliable partner for its efforts to push professional basketball back to its pre-pandemic performance.

The Play It Forward initiative is one of the ways OKBET aims to bolster the level of basketball in the country. The grassroots program will have the league’s best players and coaches host free basketball clinics nationwide to improve local play. This improvement should produce talented players that teams could use to bolster their ranks.

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An Expanded Playing Field for MPBL 2023

One of the biggest draws for the latest MPBL season is the number of teams participating in the tournament. Thirty teams will be duking it out for the crown, so the competition for the league summit will be more challenging than ever.

Two new teams that will be joining the league are Quezon Province Huskers and Negros Muscovados. The league’s latest expansion teams will join the North and South divisions to turn MPBL 2023 into a 29-game season. This is the league’s biggest-ever season, as 2022 only saw 22 teams compete.

There was also plenty of roster shuffling that happened in this period. The most notable absences from the league are Hesed Gabo and Kyt Jimenez. 

Gabo made the big time after joining the NLEX Road Warriors on a one-year deal. The former Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguard played great basketball throughout the previous MPBL season, so it’s reasonable that he left for greener pastures.

Kyt Jimenez is another notable absence from the MPBL’s 2023 campaign. The social media personality who shook the league with his electrifying play for Saranggani Marlins decided to bring his talents to the Davao Occidental Tigers of the Pilipinas Super League.

Fortunately, the league also received an influx of talent to boost the quality of play. NCAA MVP Will Gozum is the biggest name out of the influx of players entering the league. The league’s special permit for student-athletes allows them to play for any team without killing off their eligibility to their collegiate teams.

Aside from rookies, plenty of the players that shone in the 2022 season also changed teams. One of the most noteworthy players who made moves over the season was Enzo Joson, the previous top scorer for the Marikina Shoemasters.

Introducing the Makati OKBET Kings

One of the best things about MPBL 2023 is the number of teams fans can support. If you’re interested in finding a team to support, try the Makati OKBET Kings.

The Kings have been a part of the MPBL since 2018. They started life at the MPBL well with a first-round exit in the Datu Cup. They followed it up with a solid division finals exit against San Juan the following season.

However, the subsequent campaigns saw Makati fall out of contention. They didn’t qualify for the postseason of the 2022 Invitational and Mumbaki Cups. Last season saw them fall off as they finished with a 2-19 season record.

Now with OKBET as their primary sponsor, they hope to put together a more robust roster that will allow them to make a postseason run. Carlou Jay Lloren and Warren Calara will be among the players expected to carry the Kings to a deep playoff berth.

MPBL 2023 Favorites and Underdogs

While the MPBL has one of the largest team pools in the Filipino pro sports scene, the favorites to win the 2023 title are still the established giants.

As the defending 2022 champions, Nueva Ecija will be one of the biggest favorites to win. Their strong showing last season, compounded by the fact that they kept most of the core players to help them win, should provide them enough momentum to start strongly.

Zamboanga is also a huge favorite to finish the job they couldn’t secure last time. Their outstanding showings in the Preseason Cup should give their fans plenty of hope ahead of the season.

The Saranggani Marlins is another strong team that will cause problems for the rest of the MPBL playing field. While they lost Jimenez, the squad still has a strong roster that can compete with the rest of the playing field.

Previous MBPL winners San Juan and Batangas City are also poised to fight for playoff spots in their respective divisions. The league also features strong General Santos, Bacolod, and Pampanga squads.

Meanwhile, newcomers Quezon Province and Negros will be among the league’s smaller teams. Laguna, Muntinlupa, and Manila are among the other teams that need to make a big jump to fare better this season.

MPBL 2023 Season Starts in Quezon

The MPBL 2023 campaign will start on March 11 at Quezon Convention Center, the home of one of its newest teams.

MPBL games feature two games to encourage attendance among local fans, with the host team playing the second game. The first game after the opening ceremonies will be between Bataan and Rizal, two teams that have already played in the league for some time.

The first opponent for the Quezon City Huskers will be fellow MPBL neophytes Negros Muscovados. The home crowd will hope their home team manages to start the season on the right foot and eventually start an improbable run to the MPBL title.

OKBET: Partners in Responsible Gambling

Pacquiao’s praise for OKBET was mainly focused on the online betting platform’s commitment to helping MPBL 2023 become an outstanding success. However, the former senator also praised the platform’s focus on promoting healthy gambling habits among the Filipino public.

In his speech, Pacquiao commended OKBET for their dedication to promoting responsible gambling habits among its player base. He believes that OKBET’s presence is beneficial in creating and sustaining a healthy gambling culture in the country.

As committed partners to responsible gambling, OKBET would like to remind its player base and the rest of the Filipino gambling public of the following:

  • Never resort to gambling when your emotions are high.
  • Stick to your bankroll and only deposit what your disposable income allows.
  • Incorporate strategies into your betting to maximize your winnings.
  • Only play with an accredited and trusted online betting platform.

Get Ready for MPBL 2023!

If you’re itching to see exciting basketball featuring some of your hometown’s best basketball talents, MPBL 2023 is the perfect sports league to watch. 

It vows to bring professional basketball to the provinces, which they have done exceptionally well. There’s plenty of reason to believe that they’ll be able to pull it off once again this year.

Read more: Ja Morant: Gun Fiasco Could Cost Him 50 NBA Games

Ja Morant is the most covered athlete in the Memphis Grizzlies. His electrifying playstyle and unbreakable confidence quickly endeared him among hoops fans who love the NBA’s flashiness.

However, his off-the-court troubles may derail a career still on the rise. His latest debacle was the 23-year-old star releasing an Instagram video of him shirtless and holding a gun hours after his team lost to the Denver Nuggets.

His act quickly puts him in hot water since the NBA is doing everything possible to market the league as family-friendly. However, the potential punishment of the star player may have a severe effect on the team’s playoff hopes for this season and the next.

MARCA revealed that Morant’s suspension from NBA play could possibly extend to the following season. There are reports that Morant’s suspension from the Grizzlies could reach up to fifty games if the evidence corroborates a serious offense.

Both the league and the police are conducting investigations into Morant’s antics. The facts that will emerge from the inspections can determine how long Morant will be out of the team.

Morant’s suspension could spell plenty of trouble for Taylor Jenkins’ Grizzlies. He’s the core of everything good with Memphis, averaging 27.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 8.2 assists per game. His shooting percentages of 46.3% FG, 31.6%, and 74.4% FT on high volumes make him a tough offensive assignment.

With Morant out, it’s up to Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, and Jaren Jackson Jr. to carry the offensive load. Rotation players like Tyus Jones and Santi Adalma also have to step up their production as Brandon Clark is out with a torn Achilles.

While the Grizzlies are currently third in the Western Conference, it’ll be hard for them to make it out of the first round of the playoffs without their star man.

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Steven Adams Tried to Rein Ja Morant, Grizzlies

The gun issue isn’t the first off-court issue Morant is facing. He is also accused of hitting a teenager during an off-season pickup game. The mother of the teen is reportedly suing for damages.

Ja Morant isn’t the only Grizzlie causing mayhem, though. Brooks has antagonized multiple NBA players, and Jackson fired a taunting tweet toward the Golden State Warriors last season.

The Grizzlies have the seventh-youngest team in the NBA, which speaks a lot about their quality on the floor. However, their attitudes bring down what otherwise is a very successful season.

Steven Adams, one of the oldest players on the roster, tried to help the team focus on the task at hand. Shams Charania reported that Adams organized a players-only meeting where he stressed the importance of better discipline on the road:

The meeting happened before the gun fiasco, so it seems Adam’s counsel fell on deaf ears. Morant may be thinking about everything Adams said as he’s facing a murky future as a pro baller.

The star revealed he would get help to improve his response to stressful situations. Whether this action is too late remains to be seen.

Read more: Will Still: A Gamer That Became a Football Manager

Like most sports fans, Will Still dreamt of becoming involved with the sport they love. While most prefer to become highly rated players like their idols, Still was a part of many who became fascinated with building a team to the top of the sport.

Playing games like FIFA, NBA 2K, and Football Manager, some gamers began imagining what would happen if they were in charge of their teams. Almost everyone who plays these games knows that they won’t likely come true and limit their sports management skills within the game.

However, Still is a different breed of a human being. He’s part of the extremely small minority who turned his passion for games into a real career.

This OKBET Sports article will be a fun one. We’ll discuss a person who made every sports management gamer’s dream a reality.

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A Career Started by Video Games

William Still was born to English parents who emigrated to Belgium on October 14, 1992. He naturally fell in love with the Beautiful Game as a young English boy. 

The future Reims manager was involved in the sport from a very young age, joining the youth team of Sint-Truiden. He continued being around the game even though he didn’t get opportunities to advance his career as a player.

However, one of the things that separated Still from other young English footballers is that a video game had a considerable influence on his career.

Football Manager is a sports management game series where the player chooses a football club out of the hundreds it has on its incredibly intricate database and leads them to domestic and international glory. 

These virtual managers scout players, buy outstanding talent, set matchday tactics, and manage the club’s training regimen. It’s as close to actual football management as it would ever get for the legions of devoted players that religiously play the game weekly.

The man revealed he got hooked on Football Manager because his family didn’t allow gaming consoles in their home. Since the sports management game is one you can play on almost any computer, it made sense for Still to try it himself.

The game instilled his interest in coaching, but it took a while before he took active steps toward becoming a manager. During his collegiate years in England, he realized his desire to pursue coaching as a full-time job.

Will Still, the Real-Life Football Manager

Will Still began studying to become a coach at Myerscough College. He became involved with Preston North End’s Under-14 side during his studies there.

After graduating from college, he knocked on the door of every professional football club in Belgium. Most teams saw his lack of experience as a problem and respectfully declined his services.

However, Sint-Truden gave him an opportunity. He managed to convince the head coach of his childhood club, Yannick Ferreira, to give him a job after impressing him with a detailed scouting report of the team’s opposition.

He never let go of the opportunity, quickly establishing himself as a young but talented coach at the club. When he took the Standard Liege coaching job, Ferreira was impressed with the young coach enough to take him to the Belgian team. 

Unfortunately, his journey with the team didn’t take long, as the former footballer was sacked from his job. He joined Lierse, becoming an assistant coach and videographer for Frederik Vanderbies.

His days of playing Football Manager finally became a reality with this club. Vanderbies was sacked from his job, and the club’s management chose him as the interim manager. He immediately showed off his chops as the team performed well enough.

However, he wouldn’t stay long with the team. He would jump from one job to another until Stade de Reims called. They were impressed with the training sessions he conducted that they offered him to be Oscar Garcia’s assistant manager.

He accepted the offer and started life at Ligue 1. However, Garcia was eventually shown the door after poor performances saw Reims at risk of relegation.

The Still Revolution at Stade de Reims

Still was again offered the interim head coach role, with the possibility of the job becoming his depending on the club’s performance until the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The young Englishman took the opportunity and stormed the French top flight with his team’s performances.

The team was able to perform well with him in charge. They usually fielded 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, focusing on pressing opponents and launching quick counters. He organized the team enough defensively to stop the bleeding and secure their position.

Les rouges et blancs were also doing well thanks to Arsenal loanee Florian Balogun. The young Englishman is performing well under Still, whose system shares similarities with his parent club’s way of doing things.

However, the biggest draw of the entire thing was how Still’s Reims side managed to produce a draw against Paris Saint-Germain. Against a team that features Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe, Still’s players managed to pull off an equalizer with the last kick of the game.

The team has since continued to make strides in Ligue 1. They currently sit eighth at the table and are more than happy to pay €25,000 every time their talented manager plays due to his lack of the necessary licenses.

What’s Next for Will Still?

With the team ready to push for Conference League play, it’s safe to say that the Will Still experiment is a success. Even his loudest critics can’t deny he’s the real deal in leading a football team.

Premier League teams will be interested in bringing him over after seeing his work in his short career. However, it remains to be seen if the league’s bright lights are something he wants to experience right now.

Read more: Big Football Clubs That Are in Financial Danger

Even if the Philippines isn’t the biggest hotbed for professional football, almost everyone who is a sports fan understands how much money there is in the sport. Some of the biggest football clubs in the world are making millions every year, regardless if they win their respective leagues or not.

However, you’ll be surprised that some of these giants live in houses of cards. These clubs may look like they got it all, but one wrong financial decision can make their finances tumble instantly. 

Such costly mistakes can see a club fall down the leagues as they lose their most important players to opportunistic rivals. Moreover, they could lose money as sponsorships would be less inclined to pay hefty sums to sponsor the team.

This OKBET article will list five clubs that are in surprising financial trouble. If they don’t do anything to resolve their issues, the look of the Champions League will look wildly different for the next couple of years.

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Tottenham Hotspur

Fans almost always bring up the Big Six when the Premier League is brought up. Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Tottenham have had a solid monopoly on English football for the past decade.

However, Tottenham is a team struggling to translate their status as a good English team into silverware. Despite the wealth of talent that the club has at its disposal, they’re still to win a major competition.

Moreover, their financial situation is similar to walking on a tightrope. They reportedly had £1.2 billion in debt by the end of 2022. Most of the team’s outstanding debt involves the construction of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The stadium, which cost the team £1.2 billion, was financed mainly by loans to financial institutions. They took a £637 million loan restructured into bonds that will mature in 23 years.

The fact that they had to restructure their debts for the stadium shows that they are in considerable financial trouble. They better hope to win more titles in the near future to attract sponsors. 

At this point, one wrong move can see their finances (and position in the league) careening down a cliff.

Inter Milan

Three clubs come to mind when you think of Italian football: Juventus, Inter Milan, and AC Milan. These juggernauts are known for playing exciting football and holding some of the country’s most exciting football talent.

However, they also need help with balancing their books. Serie A fans know these giants are dealing with large debts that could threaten their clubs’ stability. 

While these football clubs all deserve a slot in this article, we’ll fix the spotlight on Inter. The Nerrazzuri have a £757 million debt, placing the 2021 Serie A champions in serious trouble.

Like most footballing giants, the COVID pandemic had a significant impact on how they were performing. Inter had one of the best attendances in Italian football, and the lack of matchday earnings hurt their finances. They finished the 2020/21 season with a €245.6 million loss; the most a Serie A club lost in a single campaign.

If they fail to make the Champions League this season, they’ll find themselves in a situation where they must sell players to cut their debts. While they’re on pace to finish within the top four, their financial situation still looks bleak.

Real Madrid

There’s little question that Real Madrid is one of the biggest football clubs on the planet. Their pedigree as one of the winningest teams in Champions League history is getting them plenty of cash that allows them to purchase some of the world’s best players.

However, their financial statements paint a worrying picture. They are £651 million in debt despite having one of the most recognizable brands in world soccer.

Some may find it surprising that a team of their magnitude is struggling to keep their finances in order. As the pandemic affected their earnings, they sold some players to ensure the club’s finances weren’t compromised.

However, the club’s ongoing maintenance and renovation of the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium contributes significantly to their financial troubles. While they announced that they had a €13 million profit in the previous season, there’s still a huge question mark on how they will be able to pay their dues.

Their dire financial situation is one of the biggest reasons Real Madrid president Florentino Perez tried to push for the Super League.

Manchester United

The fact that Manchester United’s owners put the club for sale reveals they’re already in a challenging financial situation. It’s surprising for a club competing with Los Blancos regarding their brand’s relevance.

The Red Devils’ debt is reportedly at around £771 million. The club is surprisingly struggling to keep the light on when Old Trafford is long considered one of professional football’s biggest meccas.

One of the most surprising facts about United’s situation is its losses. The Athletic released a piece that revealed the club’s weekly losses of £2 million.

There are different reasons behind the team’s failure to keep themselves debt-free. However, one can point to the team’s high wage bill and their lack of silverware over the past seasons as culprits to the problem. Winning brings money the club could use to improve its facilities and pay its debts.

Now that they have a coach who knows what he’s doing, it’s only a matter of time before United bounces back. And with the club’s sale looming from the horizon, their times in financial misery are possibly coming to an end.

Barcelona

The final club in this list is another Spanish footballing giant with plenty of history. Barcelona is long regarded as one of the best football clubs in producing outstanding talent and playing top-tier football.

However, the club’s financial outlook is grim. They are more than a billion dollars in debt. The Blaugrana have an out-of-control wage budget that makes it seem like they’re not struggling financially at all. 

They are also careless in the transfer market. The Blaugrana spent millions on wasteful signings like Philippe Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann. The club was also active in the most recent transfer window, spending €158 million.

They’re also looking to renovate Camp Nou completely. The club is looking for financers for a €1.5 billion loan that they’ll use to renovate their historic ground. Even the most casual fan will see that such a deal can spell plenty of trouble for the club if handled incorrectly.

What Will Happen to These Football Clubs?

These football clubs are some of the most influential in the sport, so they’ll likely make it through. They can find a way out of their financial troubles if they’re shrewd enough with their money, sell some of their high-value assets, and find ways to win without some of their star players.

However, there will be hell to pay if they don’t fix their finances on time. Making hefty loans and taking on expensive contracts for winning is unhealthy and unsustainable.

We shouldn’t ask if one of these clubs will fall on hard times. It’s more of a query of when.

Read more: Pro Athletes Who You Didn’t Know Own Teams

If you think about pro athletes, you immediately assume that these are physical specimens that thrive the most when playing their respective sports. They became famous as sportspeople due to the outstanding skills they showcased regularly.

However, these pros will also be the first to tell you that playing careers won’t last forever. Time is the greatest opponent of many pro athletes, and it will take away the qualities that make these stars great.

Once these pros call it a career, an entirely new world opens up to them. Some former stars stay involved in the game as coaches or front-office members. Others take an interest in sports media and become analysts for various shows.

The newest trend among current and former pro athletes is acquiring ownership stakes in other professional sports teams. As star athletes now earn more money than before, the possibility of owning stakes in organizations has become a possibility.

This OKBet Sports piece will celebrate some of the biggest athletes who placed their hard-earned money into sports. We’ll discuss their professional achievements and the current status of the clubs they have a stake.

okbet pro athletes

Lewis Hamilton, Part Owner of the Denver Broncos

Lewis Hamilton is one of the first pro athletes you immediately associate with Formula 1. While the sport boasts a rich history of superstar drivers, only some have the skills and trophy cabinet to match the Mercedes driver.

He’s won the most races among the sport’s most popular stars and has seven Drivers’ Championships. When he decides to hang up his racing gloves, he’ll be regarded as one of the best to ever line up on the paddock.

The time he walks away from the sport is edging closer, as he’s already 38 by the time his 18th F1 season starts. He’s already started dipping his toes into sports ownership.

Sir Lewis Hamilton is part of the consortium that took over the NFL’s Denver Broncos. He became a part owner of the team after putting a stake with the Walter-Penner Group in August, the owners who bought the team months earlier.

Hamilton also tried his hand at owning a football club. He joined a consortium that tried to buy Chelsea last year. The Mercedes driver was also involved in talks about Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s intentions to buy Manchester United until he denied involvement in the bid.

The seven-time champion hopes that there will be more black-owned sporting organizations. He believes that an improved black presence will provide a better opportunity for equity in these physically demanding fields.

Patrick Mahomes, Part Owner of the Kansas City Royals and Sporting KC

Patrick Mahomes is still euphoric after winning his second Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs. However, He’s not only repping KC on the field; he’s also involved in the team’s professional sports scene.

He first got into sports ownership after becoming a minority stakeholder of the Kansas City Royals in 2020. It makes sense that the Royals will be his first foray into sports ownership because his father, Pat, was a major league pitcher from 1992 to 2003. Mahomes himself played the game in high school.

His next venture is a stake with the MLS team Sporting KC. His connection with the sport is also personal: his wife, Brittany, was a soccer player in college. He gained interest in the sport as he supported his girlfriend’s passion on and off the pitch.

He also noted that the way the team was run influenced his decision to invest in the team:

Mahomes is the poster child of what pro athletes of the 2020s should be: talented, humble, and smart with their money.

LeBron James, Part Owner of Liverpool FC

LeBron James is considered one of the most recognizable pro athletes on the planet. The career points list shows how great he is as a basketball player. The fact that he’s still playing at the highest level at 38 showcases his incredible athleticism and durability.

His loyal fans also praise him for his business acumen. He already has a hand in various pots, from entertainment and media to food. However, one of his more meaningful investments has to be his stake in Liverpool.

The 2020 Premier League champions welcomed the future NBA Hall Of Famer in 2011. King James bought a two-percent stake in the Reds thanks to his involvement with Fenway Sports Group.

His investment into the team in 2011 was an estimated $6.5 million. However, it has since ballooned; the club has become a globally recognized brand for world-class football. He also contributes to the club’s marketability in the United States by releasing LeBron x Liverpool collaborations.

Why Are Pro Athletes Shifting to Sports Ownership?

It may seem normal for pro athletes to become interested in owning their own sports teams. They naturally love competition, so being involved with another sporting organization may seem like a natural next step.

However, there haven’t been many sports personalities who have become directly involved with the operation of another professional sports club. It’s a recent development that’s become a trend among celebrities who want to invest their money.

One of the biggest reasons why they and other celebrities have started investing in sports is the returns of a successfully run organization. While owners and investors may take years to see meaningful returns, the financial benefits could be great. You can see LeBron James’ Liverpool investment as a great example.

Another reason they may be interested in sports ownership is their genuine interest in other sports. Pro athletes play other sports to keep themselves fit, and this interest can easily translate into something different. For the most successful athletes, this may mean owning another team.

Expect More Pro Athletes to Own Sports Teams

These three sports stars are only some current and former pro athletes who have owned teams. Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, James Harden, and Naomi Osaka are other current and former pros who have stakes in sports teams.

We haven’t even dabbled into esports. It’s quickly becoming a booming scene in which other sporting icons find potential.

Do you know any other pro athletes who have a stake in a professional team? Let us know in the comments below!

Read more: Achraf Hakimi: PSG and Morocco Star Charged with Rape

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