Phil Mickelson's next venture will surprise you

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Phil Mickelson's next venture will surprise you

From Comcast SportsNet
DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) -- Phil Mickelson wants to be more than just a fan of the San Diego Padres. He wants to help buy the team. Mickelson said Monday he has a joined one of the five groups trying to buy the team from John Moores, the Padres' majority owner for the last 18 years. Mickelson is part of the group that includes four grandchildren of former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley -- Kevin and Brian O'Malley, and their cousins Peter and Tom Seidler, the chief executive of Class A Visalia Rawhide. "I've been talking to them about being involved with them, having an opportunity to invest in the team and being part of the ownership group," Mickelson said. "I think it's a very good investment opportunity. More than that, it's opportunity to be involved in the community in San Diego, with something that gives the community a sense of pride. I feel like we can make the Padres a competitive team that can contend year in and year out, and we can do something for the community. "It's something I've loved since I was a kid." The San Diego Union-Tribune first reported the involvement of Mickelson, a four-time major champion who was inducted this month into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Mickelson brings the O'Malley clan a local investor and of San Diego's greatest athletes. San Diego's biggest baseball star -- another lefty -- is involved in another group trying to buy the Padres. Tony Gwynn said last week he is joining the bid led by Thomas Tull, chairman and CEO of Legendary Entertainment. "When we met with Phil we were inspired by his commitment to San Diego and his passion for the Padres," Kevin O'Malley said in a statement to the Union-Tribune. "He is a world-class person, athlete and businessman with a strong history of charitable leadership and he will be an ideal partner for many years in San Diego." Mickelson said he was asked to get involved in an ownership bid three years ago, but didn't feel it was a good fit. "I think the O'Malley and Seidler family is the right group," he said. "They want to enhance the community tie, and that's something I've wanted to be part of, as well. The tie between the community and the team has not been as strong as it has been in the past. I think there are some things where we can increase that relationship, the emotional tie with the community and the players." Moores' proposed sale of the team to Jeff Moorad collapsed in March after baseball owners refused to approve Moorad as controlling owner. Moorad headed a group that in March 2009 agreed to a gradual takeover of the Padres. At the time, the deal was estimated to be worth around 500 million. The Padres could be worth a few hundred million more this time, in light of the Dodgers being sold for a record 2 billion and the Padres' new TV deal with Fox. Moores owns 51 percent while Moorad's group owns 49 percent. Asked about his proposed investment, Mickelson said only that it would be "a lot," and that it would be a "significant investment opportunity." As for his role? "Day-to-day operations, running a sports organization, that's not my forte," Mickelson said. "I want to have a personal relationship with the players and find ways to get them tied to the community, things of that nature."

Gauging the stock of Thon Maker, the NBA draft's mystery man

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Gauging the stock of Thon Maker, the NBA draft's mystery man

BOSTON – There’s a certain amount of mystery surrounding most players when they enter the NBA draft.

And then there’s 19-year-old Thon Maker, the 7-foot-1 Sudan-born basketball player who successfully challenged the NBA’s rule restrictions placed on high school players entering the league.                                                  

Maker reclassified academically in 2015 but elected to stay at Orangeville District Secondary School in Orangeville, Ontario for an additional year which was later deemed a “post-graduate” year.

In doing so, he satisfied the NBA’s rules regarding draft-eligible players being one year removed from their graduating high school class as well as the league’s age requirement.

This will be the second straight draft where there will be at least one player who played their prep basketball in North American who did not play in college or professionally overseas prior to entering the draft.

Last season, the Dallas Mavericks selected Indian-born Satnam Singh in the second round with the 52nd overall pick. The 7-foot-2, 290-pound center played his prep basketball at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

To be in such select company alone makes Maker’s journey to the NBA unique.

But in this narrative, that becomes more of a footnote as Maker’s path towards pro basketball has already taken him to three different continents (Africa, Australia and most recently North America) in which he has played for at least five different institutions.

CSNNE.com spoke to two different scouts, a league executive and an NBA assistant who was among those to see him play during a Basketball Without Borders event in 2015.

Their opinions of Maker’s chances of playing at the NBA level are kind of like the places Maker has played basketball – all over the map.

“There is no way this kid should be in this year’s draft,” one Eastern Conference scout told CSNNE.com. “He’s nowhere close to being ready to play or make any kind of impact that will help a team anytime soon. He’s one of those two years away from being two years away kind of players. If you take him near the end of the second round, he’s worth it. But a first-rounder? I just don’t see it.”

Another executive with a Western Conference team offered a similar assessment of Maker.

“He’s going to have to show some things that we haven’t seen yet, in workouts,” the executive told CSNNE.com. “Every draft has a player or two that you draft because he has upside, but he’s a project. That’s Thon Maker; a project with upside, the kind of upside that you’re probably not going to really see or really be helped by for years down the road.”

A second scout added, “He’s not ready for the NBA. Not even close. But this league drafts on potential and because of that, somebody will take him. It may not be until the second round, but he’ll be drafted by someone.”

However, one current NBA assistant had a chance to see him play at a Basketball Without Borders tournament and came away with a very different opinion of Maker.

“You immediately saw the separation of talent, of God-given ability,” the assistant coach told CSNNE.com. “He’s a multi-faceted player, a willing learner.”

Originally from Sudan, Maker was discovered by Edward Smith whose guidance has taken Maker on a basketball odyssey across the globe with stops in Louisiana, Virginian and most recently, Ontario.

During each stop, Maker's potential was evident.

But most of his best work came against questionable competition, the kind of thing that tends to raise eye-brows among NBA decision-makers.

As impressed as the assistant coach was with Maker, he too wonders how the 19-year-old will fare against bigger, stronger, more seasoned competition.

"We'll find out soon enough," the assistant coach said. "He's in the draft now. His skills, the good ones and the ones that need some work, will be on display for all to see."

Maker burst on the scene as an internet sensation a couple of years ago with a YouTube video that drew immediate comparisons to former Celtic Kevin Garnett.

But as more folks began to watch him play, the flaws to his game became more pronounced.

He is a 7-1 wing player with a lithe frame whose physical strength leaves a lot to be desired. While he has shown a great work ethic according to most scouts, he doesn’t have a true feel for the game in large part because he is so relatively raw.

And maybe most telling is how he has been on the floor with other above-average competition and more often than not, has done little to stand out as one of the better players competing.

Throw in the fact that he bypassed college altogether and it stands to reason that collectively there are more questions about his game than answers right now.

In an interview with Draft Express shortly after announcing he would enter this year’s draft, Maker shed some light on his controversial decision.

“When I found out I had the opportunity to enter this year's draft it was a no brainer to me,” Maker told Draft Express last month. “I've always had the dream of playing in the NBA and I feel that I am ready.”

Maker added, “When I had the chance to enter the Draft, I started of thinking about College versus Pro. The NBA game, talent, spacing, rotations, terminology, clock and practice time is so much more different than college. I watch a lot of ball, both games and practices. I felt that if I could do this full time, it would be great. If I went to college I could not see myself not taking my academics seriously. I would want to take serious classes and do well in them. I would have to split time in my focus. My approach is to always go all out and try to be the best if I'm going to do something.”

That’s why his decision to turn pro is not something that he says he will not have a change of heart about.

Players who enter the draft can pull out as late as May 25.

But listening to Maker, that doesn’t seem to be an option he’s giving any thought.

“I'm all in,” he said. “If you're doing something you have to be confident in your choice. This process is not a game. I've played with NBA players before and their approach is business like, even though they are having fun out there.”
 
When pressed on whether he would consider withdrawing from the draft if he doesn’t like the feedback he’s hearing during the pre-draft process, Maker reiterated his position.

“As I said, I’m all in,” Maker said.

“He wants to be a star,” the assistant coach said. “He wants to be a star and I think he will be. I don’t want to put too much on the kid before he gets a chance to get out there and show what he can do. But as of right now, in my heart of hearts I feel the kid is going to be a special player.”

Brady remains undefeated against Father Time

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Brady remains undefeated against Father Time

The Old Man got the last laugh. Tom Brady has outlived his replacement.

Remember when Jimmy Garappolo was selected out of that football powerhouse, Eastern Illinois in the second round, 30th overall, in the 2014 draft? That was the beginning of the end for Tom Brady, remember?

Then Brady and the Patriots got off to that horrible start in '04 when they went 2-2, culminating with that butt whipping by the Chiefs in Kansas City.Good thing that the Hooded Genius was thinking ahead by drafting his boy Jimmy G., eh? Garappolo would learn from the wise master (Brady) and then be ready to go in a couple of years when father time would finally catch up with TB12.

Well, Father Time is still in Brady’s rear-view mirror and Garappolo saw his replacement drafted on Friday night: Jacoby Brissett out of North Carolina State. With Brady still playing at a high level and Jimmy G.’s contract up after the 2017 season -- two years before Tom’s new deal expires -- Garappolo's days here are numbered. He's on the market . . . and that might be a good thing for him. Replacing a legend like Brady isn't easy. Garappolo may leave here with three years of Belichick and Brady University under his belt, headed for a less pressurized situation.

Since, the Pats picked Brady’s understudy in 2014 Brady went on to win his fourth Super Bowl and could have won his fifth if his offensive line hadn’t wilted down the stretch and his head coach had not brain camped in the Eagle and Dolphin games.

I'm surprised. Brady is the greatest quarterback off all time but even the greatest has to make way for the future. That will happen eventually to Brady.

 I think.