Take 5: Baylor, banking, Booth Jr.


Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS

The Orlando Magic’s Markelle Fultz (20) soars above Cleveland Cavaliers defenders for a thunderous slam dunk at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, on Wednesday, Oct. 23. The Magic won, 94-85.

By TPN Staff

We’ve now reached the pinnacle of the sporting calendar, with all four major U.S. sports in full swing. Our staff breaks down two emerging storylines from the NBA’s opening week, while also adding to the conversation regarding college football and the World Series.

National Bank of Dinwiddie

The Brooklyn Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie is currently pioneering a revolutionary business venture for athletes and fans. Dinwiddie is in the process of turning himself, as a high-paid athlete, into an investment plan for others.

He plans to offer what he calls a Professional Athlete Investment Token (PAInT). The tokens will sell to accredited investors for $150,000 a piece, with a maximum of 90 tokens being sold. The tokens are essentially a three-year bond indirectly backed by Dinwiddie’s future basketball earnings, with an annual interest rate in the ballpark of 2.5%. In year three, once the tokens have matured, Dinwiddie will pay back the principal investment and split 40% of his 2021-22 post-tax basketball income among token owners.

This 40% is where things get really interesting. Dinwiddie has a player option for the 2021-22 season, meaning he can opt into a fourth year with the Nets for $12.3 million, or he can pursue free agency and make more than $12.3 million. This means that the final payment is variable and depends directly on Dinwiddie’s success on the court, making these tokens a bet on his basketball performance.

Dinwiddie’s plan is groundbreaking, and he hopes to host a platform for other athletes to do something similar in the future. With this venture potentially revolutionizing the business side of sports, the NBA has taken notice. It has claimed that Dinwiddie is violating the collective bargaining agreement by transferring the rights of his contract to a third party. This move will delay Dinwiddie’s launch, and it unfortunately introduces some uncertainty about whether his plan will ever come to fruition.

From a fan perspective, it would be a shame to see this development halted before it ever starts. Dinwiddie’s idea could open the door for all kinds of player investment plans and provide fans with an exciting new form of fantasy sports. What could be better than turning sports fandom into a profitable investment skill?

— Sean Tierney, Staff Writer

In the spirit of Halloween, Markelle Fultz is rising from the dead

This is the year Markelle Fultz can finally make a name for himself in the NBA. Wednesday night’s game against the Cavaliers was the all-important first step taken by Fultz to silence his abundant doubters.

After his selection with the first overall pick by Philadelphia in 2017, Fultz’s draft expectations were through the roof. He ended up drastically underperforming in his draft position for two years due to shoulder issues that basically caused his shooting stroke to stop working. With a few shining moments here and there, his talent shone through but never manifested completely.

Naturally, people criticized Fultz for seemingly having a bad case of the yips. He missed most of the 2018-19 season to recover from his mysterious injury, and was forgotten aside from momentarily making headlines for getting traded to the Orlando Magic.

With some sort of motivation, whether inner drive or fuel from doubters, Fultz seems to have overcome the hitch in his shot. Evidenced by a few viral videos in the offseason, his shooting form looked more fluid and he was making shots with ease in practice. It looked like a new and improved Fultz, but naysayers pointed out that it was still just an empty gym with no competition.

Fultz showed Wednesday night that he’s ready to take on actual NBA opponents, producing in a limited role against the admittedly talent-lacking Cavaliers. He came off the bench in the third quarter and posted a stat line of 12 points, six assists and two steals in 23 minutes. Those aren’t the craziest numbers we’ve seen from a player looking for redemption, but it’s a shining moment and significant stepping stone in Fultz’s career.

If Fultz can build off the positive environment that the Magic have surrounded him with, the path is there for him to make a great story and revive his nearly forgotten career.

— Ben Mankowski, Staff Writer

The good news Bears

The No. 14 Baylor Bears have utterly dominated their opponents this college football season, boasting a 7-0 overall record and 4-0 Big 12 record. Though it may seem like a long shot, Baylor will continue this success and finish the year undefeated and as champions of the Big 12.

The Bears have gotten the job done both at home and on the road. They’ve defeated the likes of Iowa State, Kansas State and Oklahoma State — the latter in their own respective stadiums.

Baylor has five games remaining on its schedule, three of which will be played at McLane Stadium. Fortunately for them, two of those matchups are against No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 15 Texas.

The breakout performance from junior quarterback Charlie Brewer is the primary reason for the Bears rolling this season. He’s thrown for 12 touchdowns compared to three interceptions, and his 71.8 QBR ranks 30th in the nation.

Junior running back John Lovett and senior wide receiver Denzel Mims join Brewer as the main playmakers on Baylor’s quietly dynamic offense. The team’s success is contingent on this trio’s performance, and you can expect them to keep performing at a high level through the year’s end.

With all the momentum in the world, an underdog mentality and homefield advantage, Baylor will knock off both Oklahoma and Texas to earn a Big 12 championship berth. Once there, the Bears will once again defeat the Sooners in the championship to complete their magical undefeated season.

Unfortunately for Baylor, even that undefeated season might not be enough for a spot in the College Football Playoff with some combination of Alabama, Ohio State, LSU and Clemson all figuring to make the bracket.

— Tyler Moran, Staff Writer

In Clemson player’s ride of shame, it is us who should be ashamed

Andrew Booth Jr. made a mistake.

Late in Clemson’s 45-10 blowout win over Louisville, the first-year cornerback lost his temper, throwing a punch to the helmet of Cardinals’ Trenell Troutman while in coverage on a Louisville punt.

Football is an emotional, physical sport which brings feelings of all sorts to the forefront. That’s what makes it great. But Booth lost control of his emotions and disappointed himself, his teammates and his coaches. He was ejected from the game as a result of the play. Immediately after the game, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney addressed the incident in his postgame press conference.

“Team was really upset about it, especially the veterans because that’s not who we are,” Swinney said. “Booth was really remorseful and upset about it. He’ll learn from it.”

The next day, in another Swinney press conference, the National-Championship-winning coach expanded on how Booth learned from his mistakes, saying that Booth did not fly back with the rest of the team, instead taking the team manager bus for the 450-mile journey back to Death Valley.

“[He] has responded well,” Swinney said. “He is disappointed in himself, embarrassed. He has apologized to our team and our AD. He’s been extremely remorseful. What happened is way out of character for who he is. Very pleased with how he has taken ownership.”

That’s it right? A young man makes a mistake, pays for it, learns from it and moves on. Except in today’s world it’s not that simple.

A tweet from ESPN’s College Football Account, @ESPNCFB, garnered 3.7 thousand likes and more than 100 replies about Booth’s punishment, thrusting him into the center of the spotlight, demoted to riding the bus with national and local media of all sizes feeding off the incident for clicks and page views.

I’m not condoning Booth’s actions on the field, or even criticising Swinney for publicizing the discipline. What this issue demonstrates is a need to address and understand how we as the media and we as fans respond to these sorts of stories about the individual student athletes in today’s world of college athletics.

After all, isn’t this why Booth is at Clemson and Troutman is at Louisville? Aren’t these student athletes just that? Students, trying to learn from their mistakes and grow as men? Or do they just exist as cogs powering the constantly spinning wheel of “non-profit” collegiate entertainment that continues to line the pockets of coaches and administrators? Booth may have had to ride the bus, but did he have to be thrown under it too?

— Ben Bobeck, Senior Staff Writer

An upset on a National stage

The Houston Astros came into the World Series an American League juggernaut, having represented the AL in two out of the last three World Series, winning one and currently vying for their second franchise title.

While it was no surprise that the Astros made it to the big dance, their opponent — the Washington Nationals — smashed its image as a perennial playoff underachiever, taking down two of the best teams in the National League to advance to the World Series. The Nationals beat the NL powerhouse Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round and proceeded to end the playoff dreams of a streaking St. Louis Cardinals team.

Many expected this World Series to involve two masterful pitching rotations battling it out for the title. The Astros have the top two AL Cy Young candidates in Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander while boasting perennial All-Star Zack Greinke as their third starter. On the other side, the Nationals’ rotation is just as deadly. Washington counters with three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, ace Stephen Strasburg and quietly consistent Patrick Corbin.

The Astros have faltered early, losing the first two games of the World Series at home. Cole was roughed up in Game 1 and Verlander lost steam late in Game 2 as the Nationals took advantage of Houston’s uncharacteristic pitching woes.

In managing to topple two of the best pitchers in the Majors, the Nationals have a rare opportunity ahead of them. They have a chance to win their first title in franchise history at their home field in front of almost 42,000 fans.

The Nationals still have to work tirelessly to contain the Astros’ offense and keep their pitchers at bay, but they have a good chance to do it. If they can pull it off, it will make for one of the best sports stories of the year.

— Sami Abu-Obaid, Staff Writer