Chris Silva Makes Waves in First Miami Heat Preseason Game

By Anthony Chiang

Forward Chris Silva, who is among those competing for a two-way contract from the Heat, impressed in his 14 minutes Tuesday. Undrafted out of South Carolina, Silva finished with 16 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

“He made us watch him. That’s for sure,” Spoelstra said of Silva. “He’s had those moments in training camp, too. The offensive rebounding, the pursuits. He had a great block tonight. But he probably had five blocks better than that in training camp, where he shocked everybody in the gym. His efforts, his second jumps, his pursuits, all of these things, that’s a talent. That’s a skill to have a motor like that.”

To read the full recap, visit the Miami Herald.

Business Insider: 451 Media, Oleg Prudius Sign Deal To Develop Mythical Character

Former WWE Star the influence for new character, Rogan

NEW YORKSept. 30, 2019 – 451 Media Group has signed an agreement with Oleg Prudius to develop a series based on an all new mythical character, Rogan, God of Gods, the company announced today.

451 Media Group is a diversified media, tech and entertainment company co-founded by Michael BayAnthony GentileJohn Gentile and Doug Nunes, that empowers original and mainstream creators across film, TV, immersive VR/AR, mobile gaming, digital content, and publishing.  451’s portfolio includes original IP from such acclaimed talents as Scott RosenbergGeorge PelecanosRob Cohen and Mark Mallouk and many more.  451 is also a strategic investor with a portfolio in a range of innovative media technology companies.

“Meeting Oleg led to us developing this character which he can embody and bring to life,” said 451 co-founder Anthony Gentile. “It was a first for us as all of our previous characters had been based on fictional characters; it allowed us to incorporate those unique aspects of Oleg’s bigger-than-life persona that so impressed and fascinated us, and to create a wholly new original character and mythology. We are all thrilled to have ‘The Big O’ in our 451 family.”

Prudius wrestled under the name “Vladimir Kozlov, The Moscow Mauler.” He won the WWE Tag Team Championship with his partner Santino Marella and regularly fought against the biggest names in the sport including Triple H, The Undertaker, Jeff Hardy and Shawn Michael. Prudius was also the 2005 USA Open Heavyweight Sambo Champion. Since becoming an actor, Prudius has logged 21 credits which include roles in The Fate of the Furious and John Wick: Chapter 2 and, most recently, in season two of Marvel’s The Punisher. His most significant role came as the strong man “Bear” in the action thriller and billion dollar box office hit Wolf Warrior II.

“I am honored that 451 is developing the character Rogan with me as the model,” said Prudius. “I owe so much to Vince McMahon and WWE for giving me the opportunity to build my personal brand, and now I must thank Anthony and the team at 451 for opening even more doors.  As I have researched my ancestry, the character of Rogan could easily have been my ancestral blood. This is a project I am so deeply excited to develop.”

“Oleg is an amazingly talented and dedicated professional,” said Robert Zito, Managing Partner of IPZ, which represents Prudius. “He is a phenomenal ambassador for brands, and will literally go through walls to make his projects successful. We could not be more happy for him.”

About 451 Media Group:  451 Media Group is a full spectrum media entertainment company that builds its own IP and portfolio of exclusive transmedia brands to provide the highest quality stories, characters, and engaging new worlds. 451 utilizes leading advancements in mobile and online technology, and other innovative media channels to develop and launch its IP and brands across all worldwide platforms.  For more information, visit www.4five1.com.

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

To view on Business Insider, click here.

IPZ Board Member Bob Hurley Named the Greatest Scholastic Coach in New Jersey History

The Greatest of All-Time

By Matthew Stanmyre

1. Bob Hurley, St. Anthony (boys basketball)

In 45 years as coach at St. Anthony, Hurley led the tiny Catholic school tucked in the shadows of Jersey City to 28 state championships, 13 Tournament of Champions titles, eight undefeated seasons, four national championships and 1,184 wins, establishing an unmatched legacy in New Jersey high school sports. In addition, more than 200 of Hurley’s players went on to play in college and several made it to the NBA. In 2010, he was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. His career may have kept going, except St. Anthony, after years of struggling, shuttered in 2017 amid financial constraints.

To view the list of the top 10 New Jersey coaches, visit the Star Ledger.

The Athletic: Lexie Brown Finds a Home with the Lynx

After a discouraging year, Lexie Brown has found a family again with the Lynx

By Katie Davidson

As quickly as she can roll off a screen, set her feet and pop a 3-pointer in front of a defender’s face, Lexie Brown can tell you exactly where she was when she was traded to the Lynx.

The next chapter of the former Connecticut Sun player’s WNBA career began April 10 while she was at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. It was the night of the 2019 WNBA Draft, but Brown had agreed to spend her night taking her younger brother to an Atlanta Hawks game.

It was there that Brown got the game-changing news.

“I got a text from my agent, and she was like, ‘You’re about to get traded,’” Brown recalled. “Then she called me and told me it was the Lynx, and I was so excited.”

On draft night, excitement is typically reserved for rookies. But when Brown looks back on that night three months later, she remembers the trade with relief.

“I was super excited, and it’s funny because when I talk to some of my friends who play in the NBA or the WNBA who’ve been traded, it’s like a sad thing,” Brown said. “But everyone was like, ‘Congrats on the trade, we can’t wait for you.’ You don’t ever get congratulated on a trade like that.”

That’s because those close to Brown knew what the trade meant for her. One year earlier, she had been the ninth pick in the 2018 draft by the Connecticut Sun but then spent a frustrating rookie year languishing on the bench for a team that finished fourth in the league during the regular season. Instead of returning to Connecticut for another season in an environment where her worth was questioned and her playing time was sparse, the deal allowed Brown to become a key member of the Lynx, reigniting her sense of belonging in the WNBA.

“I didn’t think it was going to come around this fast,” she said, “but I’m glad it did.”

Read the full story on The Athletic.

IPZ Managing Director Jeff Curtin Quoted in Fortune

Women’s World Cup: Who’s Up for a Big Payday?

By Kate Bowers

The U.S. women’s soccer team is crushing it on the field, winning its first three FIFA World Cup matches by a combined score of 18-0, but who—besides Alex Morgan—will collect after the tournament?

This year’s FIFA World Cup has generated more buzz, more content, and more dollars for female footballers than any women’s World Cup before. With an expected one billion viewers of the tournament globally, as defending champs, Team USA’s mixture of familiar faces and newcomers have racked up plenty of paid partnerships.

Most are smaller social media deals, for unpublicized amounts, but such linkups could pave the way for bigger, long-term partnerships. There’s Mallory Pugh sitting in a BMW; Megan Rapinoe plugging sports drink BodyArmor and serving as a VISA brand ambassador; and Lindsey Horan noshing on Chipotle. There’s a whole-team effort plugging Hulu’s live sports.

Plus, the team has a compelling off-field agenda, where winning could propel women’s athletics globally. In March, 28 players filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation, citing lower pay and unequal working conditions. That move, too, has drawn corporate support. Sports bar Luna has promised to pay each woman on the roster $31,250 to compensate for the bonus difference paid to men versus women who made the World Cup team.

“The World Cup and the Olympics put the sport under a microscope,” said Jeff Curtin, managing director of sports marketing firm IPZ and head of its soccer practice. The firm does not have any clients playing in the World Cup. “From an individual perspective, this is the moment to capitalize.” While Curtin noted endorsement deals on the men’s side are “exponentially larger” (top-endorsed male footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, for example, made $47 million in 2018), he emphasized “the women’s side is growing.”

Brands have a “great opportunity to leverage this women’s team and not just superstars like Alex Morgan,” said Jessica Giordano, senior vice president of client consulting and service for GMR, a marketing firm that connects brands with athletes. “There are a lot of powerful individual stories.”

Two things will help catapult players, Giordano said: Having a “magical moment in the World Cup” and having the business acumen afterward to capitalize in an authentic, personal way.

Dishing marketing deals

With the U.S. team advancing to the knock-out round of 16, which starts June 22, here’s who has the potential to cash in big:

First, the obvious.

Alex Morgan (Twitter 3.6M, Instagram 6.4M: The 29-year-old striker, lead plaintiff on the discrimination lawsuit, strides ahead of her teammates in having built a personal brand worth an estimated $3 million. In addition to endorsements from NikeCoca-Cola, Secret, Chapstick, and others, Morgan has a book series, and an Amazon series. But considering what other leading male athletes of similar appeal command (Roger Federer recently inked a $300 million, 10-year deal with Uniqlo), there’s lots more room for Morgan. Curtin sees her as a fit for Lululemon, Athleta or any other athleisure brand. Recently, VW named her brand ambassador for its Atlas SUV. As for magic tournament moments to propel her business? Check. She notched five goals (a World Cup record-tying performance) in the first U.S. match against Thailand. Another partner: Beats by Dr. Dre.

Carli Lloyd (Twitter 836K, Instagram 918K: The veteran forward and team co-captain is off to a strong start, scoring three goals in the tournament so far. Hat-trick heroics in the 2015 World Cup final made her iconic and netted her an estimated $366,000 including all bonuses and appearance fees. Partners: Nike, Johnson & Johnson, Yolked, and others.

Julie Ertz (Twitter 261K, Instagram 639K): A feisty and physical midfielder, Ertz is a “known entity for U.S. soccer on her second World Cup,” Curtin said. Like Morgan, Ertz has a branded presence that extends beyond big soccer moments. She launched the Ertz Family Foundation based on empowering kids through faith and sports, with her husband, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. The foundation is backed by big brands like Marriott and Dunkin Donuts. Partners: Johnson & Johnson, California Almonds, Secret, and others.

Megan Rapinoe (Twitter 442K, Instagram 598K): An outspoken activist for equality, Rapinoe is a World Cup veteran with a distinctive look: Short, side-swept icy blonde hair and her own unisex apparel brand, Re-Inc., launched with teammates Christen Press and Tobin Heath. She has the potential to draw in fashion brands that’ve never before sponsored soccer, or maybe any sport. “What do I want to be when I grow up?” she muses in an Instagram video after showing off a closet stuffed with colorful kicks. “A fashion designer.” Partners: VISA, Hulu, Body Armor, and others.

Branding limelight newcomers

Beyond these familiar faces, who will emerge as bankable stars? Here are top contenders:

Lindsey Horan (Twitter 73K Instagram 146K): Horan scored in the third minute against Sweden, the strongest competition the U.S. has faced yet. And she’s got a compelling personal story about forgoing college to move to France at age 18 and play for Paris St. Germain. “Lindsey Horan is already making waves in her first two appearances and the buzz surrounding her World Cup debut makes her a strong candidate for the breakout star of the World Cup,” said Ken Mainardis, senior vice president of content for Getty Images, which has six photographers covering the tournament. Partners: Adidas, Chipotle, Hulu, and others.

Mallory Pugh (Twitter 80K, Instragram 377K: While older teammates drop in on social media to post game shots or plug products, 21 year-old Pugh’s a digital native and has cultivated a robust presence on Instagram. Getting regular minutes both as a starter and sub, Pugh is “very marketable,” Curtin said, noting her youth and potential to appear in several more World Cups. Partners: BMW, Gatorade, Google, Listerine, and others.

Rose Lavelle (Twitter 39K, Instagram 99K): Incredibly quick with a killer lefty shot, Lavelle, 24, has racked up two goals in the World Cup so far. Like Pugh, she has an every-girl appeal, talking on social media about Harry Potter and her bulldog Wilma. Mainardis says that Getty is seeing a shift in more commercial brands seeking editorial shots to meet consumers’ interest in “imagery that is authentic.” Because the camera’s catching Lavelle’s every scowl and celebration, the budding star seems poised to deliver on both fronts: the goals and the authentic moments. Partners: New Balance, Chipolte, Hulu, Secret, and others.

Read the story on Fortune.

Oleg Prudius featured in Grunge

Retired wrestlers who are completely unrecognizable today

By Jason Iannone

Once the pressure of looking larger-than-life on TV every week goes away, many pro wrestlers start looking very different. Whether they lose the muscle, change their hairstyle, stop wearing outlandish clothing, or all of the above, many wrestlers are virtually unrecognizable after they hang up their boots.

Vladimir Kozlov

From 2008 to 2012, WWE fans got to know Russian bruiser Vladimir Kozlov very well. He started as a super-stoic monster, then evolved (maybe) into a wacky, fun-loving big man, prone to dancing, having tea parties, and tooting on invisible trombones with his tag partner and BFF, the equally wacky Santino Marella.

Since leaving the ring, Kozlov has slimmed his body but jacked up his muscles. Plus, he’s grown a big, bushy beard that makes him look like a Russian Hugh Jackman. Why would he spend his retirement getting into better shape than during his day job? Because he’s looking to make it big in Hollywood as an action-movie tough. He’s making some good progress, having appeared in Fast 6 as a stunt double. (Between him and the Rock, that movie is full up with WWE refugees.) He was also in The Wire, Burn Notice, and the Chinese mega-smash Wolf Warrior II. He even founded a production company in 2014 called Quasar Entertainment, where he currently serves as vice president. Now that Hugh Jackman is done with Wolverine, maybe he’ll join up.

Read More: https://www.grunge.com/90291/retired-wrestlers-completely-unrecognizable-today/

Alexey Oleynik + ETFMG Partnership Featured in Bloomberg

Cage-Fighter Sponsored by Pot ETF Issuer in Rare Marketing Move

By Kristine Owram

The issuer of the world’s largest pot ETF is embracing celebrities’ growing interest in cannabis, sponsoring a UFC fighter nicknamed the Boa Constrictor.

In a highly unusual move for a provider of exchange-traded funds, ETF Managers Group LLC has signed on as the official training sponsor of Alexey Oleynik, the ninth-ranked heavyweight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, a mixed-martial arts organization. The issuer is best known for the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF, which has about $1.1 billion invested in cannabis-related companies.

Several recent tweets from Oleynik’s Twitter account show him training — and even mowing the lawn — in T-shirts emblazoned with MJ, the pot ETF’s ticker, and the logo of ETF Managers Group. While most tweets don’t reference ETFs beyond tagging that fund and including ETFMG’s Twitter handle, one post in March described the company as an “ETF heavyweight.”

“It’s definitely not something you see as a common practice,” Tricia Vanderslice, ETFMG’s chief marketing officer, said in a phone interview. “We like to look at unique marketing that does justice to both the sector our product represents and the audience that we’re trying to hit and speak to and educate.”

MJ is one of the best-performing unleveraged U.S. ETFs of the year. Securities and Exchange Commission filings show that less than 12% of its shares are owned by institutional investors such as mutual funds. The UFC sponsorship is targeted at individual shareholders who don’t necessarily follow the financial media but may be big UFC fans, Vanderslice said.

“You hit that group of Average Joe investors that might be using E*Trade, they might be using Robinhood, and a big piece of that is brand awareness,” she said.

Read the full story on Bloomberg.

 

Lexie Brown Featured in The Athletic WNBA

‘Not going to pity myself’: The realities of players cut from WNBA rosters and what the league can do to fix it

By Tamryn Spruill

Second-year guard Lexie Brown also understands just how difficult it is to make it at this level. A self-described “girlie girl,” Brown says her Lynx teammates affectionately call her Beyoncé. But they know not to let her passion for makeup and fashion belie her ferocity on the basketball court. When we spoke on Friday, Brown was dealing with what has become a frequent occupational hazard: her toenails peeling off.

“I’ll just tape them back on,” she said nonchalantly.

While at Duke, Brown started every game she played in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons (she played her first two years at Maryland). Her senior season, Brown averaged 19.4 points for the Blue Devils, along with 4.4 assists, 4.4 rebounds and almost four steals per game.

Picked ninth overall by the Connecticut Sun in the 2018 WNBA Draft, Brown played 22 of 34 regular-season games and saw her playing time drop to 5.6 minutes per game. She averaged just 1.7 points per game. But Brown credits the effort she displayed as rookie with keeping her on the Sun roster.

“I think my work ethic is what got me on the Sun and kept me there because they didn’t necessarily need me last season,” Brown said. “So, I’m very thankful for the Connecticut Sun organization and coaching staff that they felt I brought something to the table that they didn’t have. But they very well could have been like, ‘No, I think we’re okay,’ and picked someone else.”

The bright side for those who don’t make the cut, according to Brown, is overseas opportunities where players can “make money and come back and be even better” — professional experience that could help a player returning to the U.S. finally cross the velvet rope into the exclusive sports league. And she believes players should feel proud of their accomplishments, even if they didn’t make a roster.

“The players who can’t make the team, they shouldn’t think that they did anything wrong, or that they’re not good enough,” Brown said. “It’s not their time yet.”

Brown was traded to the Lynx in April, and is thrilled to have a fresh start on a team that won a championship as recently as 2017. That Minnesota currently is retooling presents Brown with an opportunity for increased minutes and to thrive in her new role as shooting guard.

The day after we spoke, the Lynx won their season-opener against the Chicago Sky, 89-71, and Brown contributed 10 points, two steals and 2-of-2 free throws to the team’s winning effort. She played 22 minutes, a big jump up from the limited time she got with the Sun.

Wednesday night against the defending-champion Seattle Storm, Brown recorded 10 points, four assists, one steal and one offensive rebound in just under 21 minutes.

While Dillard did not get to play in a game with Brown, she made an impression on Brown during training camp.

“Cierra was probably the only player (at Buffalo) with a high basketball IQ, so you pretty much can go and do whatever you want (against opponents),” Brown said, noting that everyone at the WNBA level has a “pretty high basketball IQ.”

In the WNBA, with true centers who know how to guard and teams that know how to execute effective defensive switches to box guards out, playmaking and scoring opportunities don’t come easily, and it’s the guards who can adjust to these rigors, Brown said, who keep their roster spots.

“I think we had a very guard-heavy training camp, and I think Cierra did really well,” Brown said. “I think she held her own. But I think Coach Reeve was looking for a bigger, longer lineup outside of D-Rob (Danielle Robinson) and O (Odyssey Sims), which is what we have — a pretty long team, from top to bottom. It’s nothing that (Dillard) did wrong. I think she was super incredible at Buffalo and I think she did really well in training camp.”

In addition to Dillard’s on-court efforts in practice, Brown also was complimentary of her attitude.

“She has the best, most positive attitude I’ve ever seen,” Brown gushed. “Good vibes, always. Even when she made a mistake, she was always open to criticism and learning and that’s something in this league that’s going to benefit her in the long run. Because, as good as she was in college, she came here really humble and eager and ready to learn.”

*Note that the above is just one section of the story, to read the full-version, visit The Athletic.

Lexie Brown Shared Her Pregame Playlist With espnW

By Natalie Gingerich Mackenzie

Second-year WNBA player Lexie Brown is off to a solid start this season, with 10 points in the Minnesota Lynx’s game against the Chicago Sky on Saturday. The Duke grad, who’s the daughter of former NBA guard Dee Brown, gave us the rundown on the music that gets her going pre-game.

“Before games, when I’m getting ready, it’s chill vibes only! It helps me get locked in and focused,” Brown told us. Currently on repeat: “Losing” by H.E.R.

“But once I step on the court to shoot and stretch, its turn-up time. Anyone who knows me knows that I dance everywhere. So we gotta play something I can dance to before game time. It loosens me up and relaxes any nerves I have.”

Her current playlist:

View the story on espnW.

Chris Silva Navigates Draft Prep Process

By Andrew Ramspacher

He’s been to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in Virginia, the Professional Basketball Combine in California and to NBA practice facilities in Minneapolis and Atlanta. But on the weekend of May 10, Chris Silva put his draft prep on pause to be in Columbia, South Carolina.

“My agent made sure workouts were happening after graduation,” Silva said. “I told him I had to finish school first.”

Add a degree in interdisciplinary studies to top off Silva’s USC résumé. Seven years after arriving in America from Africa not knowing any English, Silva walked across the stage at Colonial Life Arena, diploma in hand.

“It means a great deal,” Silva said. “Just four years of work finally getting paying off.”

One life goal down. Another to go.

Silva told The State that he’s scheduled upcoming visits to the Charlotte Hornets and Sacramento Kings. This comes not long after performing at the Pro Basketball Combine and interviewing with the Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento.

The two-time All-SEC forward stays busy as the NBA draft approaches.

“I’m still going through the process,” Silva said. “The teams I’ve worked out with have given good feedback through my agent. I really improved my outside shot, my fadeaway shot. And I’m getting better in the post.”

Silva, who measured 6-foot-10 in shoes at the PBC (an inch taller than his listed height at USC), worked out for the Hawks on April 30 and for the Timberwolves on May 9. In Atlanta, he was kneed in the thigh during a defensive drill and could barely walk after the workout.

“The Atlanta workout was still good and they gave good feedback,” Silva said. “They love the way I shot the ball, my energy and the way I talk.”

He was bruised, though, and it limited his preparation for the Timberwolves.

“It was kind of difficult,” Silva said. “It was a lot of running. And knowing that I didn’t prepare that much for the workout, I was getting a little tired after a couple runs. But it wasn’t that bad. I think I shot the ball pretty well. But that’s the stuff that happens, you know?”

At the PBC, a secondary draft combine that still attracted NBA and G League personnel, Silva scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a scrimmage. He also had a max vertical leap of 37 inches and made 48 percent of his NBA range 3-point attempts.

“If there’s a guy that’s 6-10 and with a 37-inch vert, there’s incredible potential to move on,” said Jake Kelfer, the PBC’s founder and director. “The other thing I thought was pretty impressive was his shot, it’s better than I originally expected. I didn’t notice him taking too many NBA range shots this season. But he put the ball in the hole really well, he showed some things that I think will help with his translate ability to the next level.”

Kelfer, who used to work with the Los Angeles Lakers, said Silva is trending toward becoming a two-way contract candidate. Former Gamecock P.J. Dozier signed such an agreement with the Boston Celtics last August. A two-way contract means a player spends a bulk of their season in the G League and no more than 45 days with their NBA team.

“(NBA) Summer League is going to be something he’ll definitely be able to participate in,” Kelfer said. “And I think pending a good performance there, I think he’s gonna really be able to showcase that he’s one of the next best players around here. I think a two-way’s definitely in the realm of possibility for him.”

Silva said the PBC, which included fellow former Gamecock Hassani Gravett, was a chance to “make my point that I’m a good player in front of NBA scouts.”

The two-round, 60-pick draft is June 20.

“I hope this goes the way it’s supposed to go and I get drafted at the end of the process,” Silva said.

View the story on TheState.com.