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    It is not often that I side with the NCAA. As a matter of fact, I can’t think of one time that I have actually stood on the side of an organization that was created to protect student-athletes. Instead, I believe it’s done more to protect itself than anything. However, hell hath frozen over. It looks to me as if the NCAA did everything it could have done to keep UCF kicker Donald De La Haye employed and playing college football. De La Haye is the YouTube video enthusiast who has his own channel making athletic themed videos. Not my cup o’ tea, but the kid has 91,000 subscribers. He does very well for himself and his videos are creative. Well, the NCAA has ruled that that De La Haye would maintain his eligibility as a division one football player if he continued to make his you tube videos---but did not reference his status as a student athlete or depict his football skill and ability. The NCAA also allowed the kid to create videos that referred to his status as a student athlete if he would have posted the videos to a non-monetized account. It looks to me as if the NCAA bent over backwards for this kid. But De La Haye wants no part of the decision. He has given up his scholarship due to the ruling. I think the kid is being short-sited. Here’s a quote from a video he released on Monday…”All I wanted to do was to keep inspiring and motivating others thru my content. I didn’t know it would cost me my education.” Dude, if that is truly what you are aiming to do—wanting to inspire and motivate--- ok, fine. The NCAA gave you that option. If you truly want to inspire, make your videos, with no reference to you being a UCF football player and collect your paycheck. Heck, go ahead and reference UCF football and your athletic status---knock yourself out---but just don’t monetize that portion. You can still motivate and inspire under those guidleines, can’t you? Sure he can. But let’s tell it like it is here…The kid wants to make money. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, he would have to stay within the NCAA’s boundaries. Frankly, I have no problem with the boundaries set by the NCAA. I think Donald De La Haye is being very short-sited. If he truly wants to inspire and motivate, abide by the NCAA rules, continue with your passion in making videos and get back on the field. This is on you, Donald, not the NCAA.
  • Tuesday was a HOME RUN DAY for the Orlando Magic and CEO Alex Martins! Not only do the Magic hire Jeff Weltman as the new President of Basketball Operations—on Tuesday afternoon it was announced that the Magic had come to terms with Bucks GM John Hammond to take the general manager’s gig here in O-Town. OH HAPPY DAY! I have said it many times over the last several weeks on ESPN Afternoons with Scott Anez-- It is high time for this franchise to reclaim its big, bad and bold status again. It’s time for this team, after five years of “process” and “organic growth”, to become the Orlando Magic again. Whether it was Shaq, Penny or signing Horace Grant. Whether it was going out and inking Hall of Famer Chuck Daly to a megadeal or getting Dr. J, Julius Erving, to work in the front office Whether it was this team going out and signing free agent Rashard Lewis--there was always a buzz about the Orlando Magic. Over the last five years, not so much. But the hiring of both of these experienced, savvy basketball men is the best thing that has happened to this organization in a long, long time. Will Weltman and Hammond score a single bucket for the Magic in the future? No. Will these guys be able to run the pick and roll? Hit three pointers? Nope. But, Magic fans, this is a start---a great start on the road to recovery. Hammond, with some 35 years of NBA experience, comes to Orlando after nine seasons as the boss in Milwaukee. Under Hammond’s guidance, the Bucks made the playoffs in four of those years—but most importantly, Hammond fingerprints are currently all over a team that has transformed into a young, long, lanky, athletic buzzworthy basketball team. Oh, and did I mention that Hammond, with Weltman by his side, drafted Giannis Antetokounmpo 15th overall back in 2013? Not sure if I mentioned that or not… We’ve gotten back to our big, bad and bold roots again. Thank you basketball gods.
  • The Twitterverse can be a scary place. But it’s interesting to read some of the comments from Toronto Raptor fans about the hiring of Jeff Weltman as the Magic’s new President of Basketball Operations.  Here are some of the highlighted posts…  Smart move by Orlando to get a good manager and our research in one move.  Why does Orlando love our people. Man first Bismack then T-ross and now Jeff Weltman. Dam what’s next they gonna take bruno (Raptor player Bruno Caboclo) too?  We’re trading everything to Orlando?  A number of things jump out at me about the Magic’s new front office boss.  1…Experience.  No, he does not have experience in being thee man in running his own organization. But he is an NBA lifer. His father was an executive in Cleveland and St. Louis (ABA). Jeff, 52, has worked in several capacities for almost thirty years around the NBA in such cities as Toronto, Detroit, Milwaukee, Denver and the LA Clippers. From what I am hearing, his reputation is as solid as can be in NBA circles. Last month, when I asked Magic CEO Alex Martins what his number one priority would be with the new hire, he told me, experience. Weltman has plenty of it even though that experience does not include being the number one boss.  2… Weltman is not David Griffin.  Orlando’s perceived target for the gig, Cav GM Griffin, is under contract until July 1 in Cleveland. If you believe the reports, the Magic were having a very difficult time communicating with Griffin. For the life of me I don’t understand why the dude has not been signed to an extension in Cleveland, but that’s a tangled web for the Magic. If he were to become a free agent so to speak, it would not come until after the NBA Draft and right as free agency is starting. The timing would be very tricky for a basketball operations department that craves leadership going into a very important summer.  3…Weltman’s body of work includes improving struggling basketball teams.  Let’s tell it like it is…The Orlando Magic have struggled over the last five years…To the tune of 132-278. It’s the second worst record in the NBA in that span (Philly is the worst). We need a pick-me-up. Weltman spent 13 years with the Clippers, six with the Nuggets and five years with the Bucks before joining the Raptors in 2013. In his final year in L.A., the Clippers improved their win total by 16 games. Denver, in 2003-04, the Nuggets won 49 games, improving their win total by 26. In Milwaukee, Weltman was part of a front office team that drafted Giannis Antetokounmpo. Enough said.  Is this the splashy hire that I was hoping for? Griffin would have been splashy, McHale? Splashy. Bird? Ditto. Doc Rivers, yup. Jerry West, most certainly.  But, time will eventually tell the tale.  From everything I hear about Jeff Weltman, this is a solid hire by the Orlando Magic.