Thursday, January 8, 2015

360 degrees of life. Stuart Scott in memorial

Welcome back sports fans I took some time off from writing on this blog but the recent death of a journalism icon brought me back. I'm sure we have all seen or heard the many wonderful and will deserved tributes paid to our fallen brother Stuart Scott. I will not try to revisit those sentiments here today because well frankly I nor anyone could out do the many well produced and well said send offs our brother has received. But rather what I will do here today is add my little two cents to the billfold and hope the gesture is taken to heart by you the readers and received warmly.  My basis for this article is simple - imitation is the greatest form of flattery. And although no one can recreate, mimic or be a facsimile of Stuart we can try to emulate him. We can only try to add to the journalistic world in much the same fashion he did with gleeful play on words, acceptance of urban vernacular and the cool swagger like the other side of the pillow that he encapsulated and shared with us on a nightly basis.  I for one am proud to say that I will miss Stuart Scott because I grew up under his tutelage. I would often stay up to watch his broadcast no matter how late or how bad the Knicks played or whether the Jets butt fumbled again. I found myself feeling akin to his time on sportscenter because he spoke the same language I did.  His manner of oratory resonated for me a true sense of acceptance for my culture and lifestyle.  I didn't know of his constant battles with the establishment for the way he spoke on air because Stuart was too proud to let us know of these hardships and that he conquered all the nay sayers with style and grace.  And from my vantage point I never had to engage the anglophiles who would spew the tired rhetoric about confronting other black people over the way to talk or did I have to have that age old debate that I'm trying to be white because I speak white since I don't use ebonics etc.  You see Stuart killed all that noise because he like I are children of modern pop culture which is deeply rooted in urban lifestyle and low income societal trends. You know hip hop that other great american art form like jazz. So when he said booyah he did it with all the proper sentence structure and just enough swag to get the point across that I'm black and I'm proud. So to Stuart Scott I not only raise my glass but also my pen to a true fallen soldier who was enlisted in the hip hop infantry of the people's military wing of the human army and I pledge to do my best at this sports blogging stuff. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

THE BIG MAN COMETH: Jan 31st 2013 A Day in NBA Infamy

Sorry I have been away for a while, I really have no reason why - I just was here remaining silent. A lot has happened in between my posts, Brooklyn lost a coach and suddenly resurrected a new one, The Lakers have become a laughing stock but there might be life left in them yet, and then there was the first trade of the 2012-2013 season amongst the Memphis Grizzlies, The Toronto raptors and the Detroit Pistons.
For one of the teams mentioned here the current season will be a nightmare, for another redemption and the other it is the badge of uncertainty and possible incompetence on the management level. But i am not here to critique the formation of the trade but rather I want to submit to you that we need to look at the impetus of the trade and see if there will be any long term effects of what transpired today. After the NBA lock out that shortened the 2011-2012 season fans were left the feeling that the owners within the league where broke and that the NBA financial structure was screwed up and the inmates were running the asylum as one NBA analyst said repeatedly. Well my feelings on that is well documented and wont be rehashed here but I will say that thanks to great men like Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert to the owner once player magnet of Michael Jordan that CONTROL was the name of the game. You see ever since Dr. Naismith committed his idea to paper other men who have been entrusted with making profit from the game of basketball ever more profitable. And we all know that the only way to make more money is to tamper with the product not to protect the players but to remix the game in such a way as to give the fans a false sense of sensationalism or speed. This aged old method has been employed and around since the gladiators of Rome to the slave fights in the American south to the NBA of today - nothing has changed. The gilded age of the NBA is often credited to the Bird Magic years of the early 80's into the soaring profit years of Michael Jordan 90's. But although Jordan jumped the highest and soared the longest - It was the centers who dominated the Championships year in and year out. Men like Kareem held the proverbial curtain for the tricks of Magic.
The mystifying moves of Hakeem Olajuwon in Houston carried him to two rings, the same hold true for the bigs of San Antonio, the superman antics of shaq brought the trophy to LA and South Beach. Even the Celtics got a boost from the big man in the center to bring the trophy to Boston again thanks to Kevin Garnett.
But the problem with being center dominated is that the game has to slow down in order to set up for the big man in the middle and this was a problem for the architects of the league. The powers that be in the league saw that the future was in the west coast offense, coaches like Westpaul to Di'Antoni liken their teams to the run and gun teams of Europe.
The fans loved seeing very little defense and ever rising final scores, but in the end the defensive minded teams seemed to always walk away with the title, without fail.
The men behind basketball were outraged and war ensued - how to eliminate the big man without striking out the position entirely. various rule changes, defensive circles were drawn for you to stand in front of, defensive three seconds mandates exercised among other things were created to make the center a shell of what it was meant to be. The caretakers of the NBA have been so emboldened with the game tampering that they even brazenly decided to omit the center position from the All Star game out right in 2013. the game of basketball is like the men who play it - ever evolving and adopting to the climate around it. As the assault on the center position continued the logistics of winning the title game changed with it. The regular season game went through phases that saw the league become guard dominated, then it was two guard heavy and when that was not enough we entered the Lebron years. The Lebron years are truly a special time for the NBA because in Lebron you have a little magic in height and ball handling, Isiah in leadership, assists and skills, and James Worthy like forward play all wrapped up in one.
But even the great Lebron could not go it alone he needed help the same way Jordan did with Pippen and the three headed center position. Enter the BIG THREE of Miami - The decision by Lebron to take his talents to South Beach to be next to Wade and Bosh sent ripples through the NBA. Owners I dare say where outraged that a black kid from Akron Ohio decided on his own to shape the future of the NBA without them or David stern.
Three max contracts on one team - Hell no the smaller market teams shouted but was that really new? we could debate. Rather, i submit that Control was the course of the day and control remains the course of the day. So we come to today January 31st, 2013 the day when Rudy gay was sent to Toronto in an three team trade with Detroit. The newspapers say the trade was done because of the new collective bargaining agreement that was implemented as a cost cutting measure although it seems more like a Lebron restriction mandating that super teams never be formed. Others are calling it the new NBA due to the luxury tax rules to prevent the richer teams from dominating the landscape. To me it looks like control controlling control over who is in control. You see capitalism left unchecked will destroy itself - the same thing here. The League wants to raise profits thus the game speeds up - centers are gone - but to win championships which also add to profitability you have to make up for the loss of the center by adding more skilled players which intrinsically drives up costs for additional skilled players at other positions - leading to super teams. But we have to control cost in order to maximize profits so what do we do --- wait for it - we reduce players and unknowingly resurrect the center position because we know from history the guard center tandem works for winning championships. The Grizzlies and management are a perfect example. At seasons open they were the hottest team in the league going an astonishing 14-3. Today Memphis is fourth in the western division and are championship contenders no doubt about it. Built currently before the trade with Gasol (center), Randolph (forward) and Gay (guard) as the potential max players. although, there are other capable players like Conley but not worthy of mention. However, under the new rules the team has to be broken up or risk the fact of losing Gay the only non max player of the big three without anything in return. After the trade as of Feb 1st 2013 the grizzlies are big dominated and guard capable but not dominate because point guard Mike Conley is okay but not star status. Moreover, without Rudy Gay the Memphis bigs are very good but not dominate either. Thus, a quandary is born: where do we spend the money, who do we bring in to fill our holes. what position should we cater too and who is out there we can get. The trend here is obvious and my money is on finding the best big man and point guard we can and hope we can recapture the essence of Kareem, Hakeem, Robinson, Shaq and yes even Patrick. Exercise your right to engage in meaningful discussions - say what's on your mind - leave a comment.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

White mans entitlement or total hiccup by management? Your call.

USA TODAY
Black fan question of the day: Does dan majerle have a point that his being skipped over as phoenix coach was poorly done or is this a touch of entitlement rearing its ugly head? Speak your thoughts

Monday, October 29, 2012

Random thoughts on David Stern


As the announcement was made and transmitted all across the globe that  the NBA is losing a patriarch- no matter how you may have felt about David Stern he was the unquestioned face of the NBA right next to bird and magic - like the mount Rushmore of round-ball.

now this article is written off the top of my head and is just a sampling of my thoughts of David Stern and what these last 28 or so years have come to mean for me. With that said I must state for the record that Mr. Stern did a damn good job as commissioner of the NBA. He is an artful dodger in business dealings and astute in financial matters as he should be given his - position as the straw man for the team owners he represents. So I applaud you sir. But the black fan wants to point out two to three things or happenings that are worse than hemorrhoids and are stuck in my craw that I have to mention them. The first, and the order does not matter, in, my opinion is the blacklisting of Allen Iverson. I know, I know Allen did some stupid things blah, blah, blah. But Mr. Iverson was a baller in every sense of the word. He was the embodiment of the new NBA. The NBA which much like the real world took on a more urban huge. A more straight talk less board room manner of being - a hip hop vibe if you will. Gone were the smiling and to a degree amos & andy tactics of the 80s NBA, and replaced and out gunned the civil rights 70s NBA - the 90s onward NBA was the Allen Iverson cross-over NBA.

The NBA despite its best efforts could not stem the tide of change about to take place. The European experiments had failed, the over-regulation tactics hurt the game but not the perception of the players. The owners and ultimately David Stern had but one tactic left to them - to willie horton the players. The league had to shed the image of the imates running the asslum. This meant those who represented this style/image had to be reined in or banished entirely. The rest as they say was history. Iverson was labeled a malcontent in philly, sent to Denver to wallow in obscurity. The little man who could was beaten and never given the respect he deserved.
Next we look at Chris Jackson - yeah remember him the guy who changed his name as he became a devote muslim. Mr. Jackson or as he is known today Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. I make mention of him because in America we respect religion and no one is shunned because of their religion, except in the NBA. As per his right Abdul-Rauf practiced his faith with out harming or influencing other faiths. However, when he was noticed not standing for the flag his time in the nba was numbered. Mr. Stern in my opinion, and if I am wrong firmly apologize, failed him and set the tone of intolerance still felt in the league today. Out of all people you would think David Stern would be the voice of reason but within four years after the incident Abdul-Rauf was gone. Lastly, I feel that the issues of drugs and player CBA allocation of basket ball related income, the various lock outs & overall perception were dealt a heavy blow by the Stern administration. All in all the NBA is strong and the product is viable. I like watching the game, the n Nets moving to Brooklyn and even David Stern as a person, I'm sure he is a good man. I just think we would be remiss not to point out and hold him accountable when he misses the free throws.



Monday, September 17, 2012

TENNIS & THE WILLIAMS SISTERS - Legacy or Lampoon

Today is Sunday the 16th of September 2012 and I just saw the NY Giants pull off a great fourth quarter come back to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and right before I watched the Jets lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game that started off great then flamed out for the Jets, I picked up the New York Times and on the very last page of the sports section was a full page ad created by the USTA (the tennis association) celebrating the performances of the latest winners of the US Open. In the middle of this rather sterile composite was a highlighted picture of Serena Williams who was fresh off her victory at the open.
Her stats were rather impressive but to be honest everything about Serena and Venus for that matter is rather impressive but here is what the ad said: Serena Williams, congratulations on winning your fourth US Open singles championship and 15th Grand Slam title. You are a champion in every sense, and we applaud your spectacular achievements.
The careers of both Venus and Serena are testimonies to hard work and steadfast dedication to excellence. Furthermore, with the USTA and the other authorities in the tennis world having firmly accepted the Williams Sisters as the dominant forces in Woman's Tennis, Venus and Serena especially have become the faces of professional Tennis for years to come. With the wins mounting, the trophies piling up and the accolades being bestowed the 6,000 pound elephant in the room is what will become of the legacy the sisters leave behind? Will the perceived sins of the father come back to haunt the girls? Will the sisters take up the causes of Civil Rights and Equality like Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson? Or will the sisters Crip walk themselves into obscurity and potential malfeasance?
These questions remain and although no ones knows the future one thing for sure is that we can look at a person current behavior and speculate to a degree of certainty that in the future said person will be known for X or that Y and Z will always come in to question whenever said person name is called into question. For example Tiger Woods. No matter what happens from here on in the questions around his infidelity, his disrespect for his wife, his disrespect for his family, and himself will always be credited for having affected his play on the golf course and the stain runs so deep that even dead and buried Earl Woods is affected. The once all mighty Tiger Woods is being looked at as a has been, so players on the circuit speak of him like he was a win less "johnny come lately" to the sport.
Even his caddy who he has made a very rich man speaks of him like he had nothing to do with saving the sport of Golf or of Tiger having been one of the most feared Golfers of our time and for all time as a matter of fact. With that being said will the actions, antics, rantings of Richard Williams be a stain, the very violent death of their half sister will that be a stain, or will the very words of Serena be a stain - I will Kill you? Have the Williams sister reached the level of notoriety and fame where they have become Civil Rights figures do they even care about civil rights and is there still a need to be conscience of racial issues today? No one can answer these question today at this moment but they will resonate for a long time.
Exercise your right to engage in meaningful discussions - say what's on your mind - leave a comment.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Bklyn Nets culture is black & white

I wrote this on July 3rd and I wanted to make sure it was published before July 11th the NBA signing day because I like to set trends and deliver my opinions as opposed to those who wait for stuff to happen and react retroactively - the black fan. Enjoy

If you know these names - Trent Tucker, Rory Sparrow, Louis Orr, or Bernard King - your probably over 35 yrs old, like the Knicks and long for these days again. Now to be clear these guys didn't bring a championship to Madison Square Garden like Willis Reed but these guys defended the Knicks honor night in and night out. These guys were not superstars outside of B. King,
rather they were role players who did their jobs well, but you felt that the organization and the front office were taking the time to do things right and pick guys to produce an effective and entertaining team.  The future seemed bright for the Knicks and NYC. Nothing could emphasize this more than the drafting of perennial star Patrick Ewing.  With that said next came the dark days of Knick front office-dom. I wont rehash those horrible picks and trades now but they are well documented.  What I will take from those days is regardless of the salary cap restrictions the corporate culture of the Knicks was down right awful and to prove this fact just look to the horrible sexual harassment case recently adjudicated.  My point is very simple - a bad corporate culture is noticed by everyone especially free agent sports stars who have to decide whether to come to NYC or not.  I bring this point to light because the 2012 free agent season will forever be etched in NBA,  Brooklyn, and Knick history.  I was never a Billy King fan, especially for his seemingly unwarranted disdain for Allen Iverson and the way the 76ers organization treated the best ball player in Philly history since doctor J. 
I felt Mr. king was a bit pompous and stuck up and being a duke guy forget it - he must be a asshole.  I was fortunate enough from a fan perspective to watch Mr. King conduct himself these last two years and I must say I have the proverbial pie, egg, shit, whatever you want to call it on my face.  In my humble opinion he is as very good gm and evaluator of basketball talent. I am impressed with his draft choices and his management of the front office. Actually, I'm impressed with the way Mr. Ratner has handled the transition of the nets to Brooklyn. Yeah yeah he decimated the team traded the hot players - I know the story, but that is what you do when your relocating a team and as a owner your primary focus is real estate development.  I am a fan of the choices made thereafter by ownership both Mr. Ratner and Mr. Prokhorov . 
I champion the fact that they researched the new city they were moving to and embraced the culture and fabric of Brooklyn.  Not only did they bring in management that were highly accredited and respected by their peers in the NBA but have swag and were young enough to reflect the vibrancy of today's NBA.  Now its my opinion the Knicks didn't do that. The Knicks in my opinion had the right idea by bringing in Zeke and I think he should have remained the gm just not the coach. After Zeke's dismissal the next two to three years the Knicks, the Donnie Walsh era, was the absolute worst and a total exercise in wasting time.
One transaction that demonstrate this point is actually tied into this 2010 free agency period.  The Knicks had just wasted two years with coach Dantoni, were entrenched in the Lebron fiasco and had drafted questionable players.  Billy King was also mandated to chase after Lebron and Carmelo but he never took his eye off the ball and while the Knicks were sleeping he acquired Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz while Walsh of the Knicks was playing footsie with Tony Douglas.  That was the epitome of what happens when you hire folks to please the NBA, the press and in some cases the one per-centers. To make a long story short the MSG brass made a decision not to embrace change and the new NBA but to remain stuck on stupid. And those who say look at Carmelo he is a Knick now - true, but not because of the then gm for sure. I am submitting to you that the culture of the Knicks was the worst that's why free agents stayed away in droves.  The nets are avoiding this same fate by conducting themselves on a players level. Now there will always be a difference between management and labor but the rift can be lessened or at least mutually respected and crossed when need be. Look at the Dallas mavericks and Mark Cuban or better yet Pat Riley and the Miami Heat -
the sense around the league is that Mark is a players owner and Pat Riley is a coach of coaches, thus free agents don't mind going there to play. I am glad to say the new Nets are being viewed much the same way from top to bottom - our owner is infamous in European circles for being a winner & a players man, our gm is widely considered top among his peers and fair among the players, our coach was mad stiff at first and tried too hard to be Greg Pop but he has cooled his jets since being shown the door by the Mavs. This is a front office that will be if not dominant at least damn good and competent. What more can you ask for.
Who knows by the time this blog entry is posted this just might be a reality and then the Knicks are really in trouble.