Thursday, July 29, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
So after the disappointment that was LeBron James and his “decision”, we have the fall out with several NBA legends who have endorsed an almost ringing consensus – where has the spirit of competition gone?
In a previous post (Disappointment: The True Fallout From “The Decision”), yours truly touched base on the letdown of LeBron’s decision. It had nothing to do with the fact that he ditched my beloved New York Knicks, but the very way he has turned himself into an attention seeking personality that is more hung up on “building a brand" and becoming a “global icon” rather than competing. We won’t even go into the way he left his hometown out to dry.
[And lets stop the “he did what was best for him and his family” spiel. It’s amazing how people reiterate common sayings to rectify and justify specific situations. LeBron’s family was well taken care of once he entered the NBA. This decision, as we all could tell by the one hour special, was all about him. Yes, him. But I’ll digress, and return to the regulalry scheduled post.]
The biggest reason for LeBron being a disappointment – is the potential is no longer there. No, not his potential as a player, but his potential as a franchise player, a NBA legend, and yes, even an all-time household name. We all know he can be one of the all-time greatest, but as fans, we looked forward to watching him chase Michael, Larry, and Magic in history.
Because Michael, Larry, and Magic were competitors and winners. Two concepts that used to be intertwined with one another.
But that’s all gone. When LeBron decided to take the easy way out, winning became important. Competitiveness somehow, was left off the wagon.
I’m sure those that disagree with that statement will reiterate that it is all about winning. And you are correct. However, at what expense? A longtime cliché stated, to be the best, you have to beat the best, and to be honest (and to my knowledge) LeBron has never beaten the best. He may win several championships over the next six years, but this will hover over him the way Shaq-less rings haunted Kobe until he shook the 7 foot, 300 pound ghost. Twice.
And now, we have Chris Paul who is complaining (yes, complaining) about “seeking to play with another superstar”. Much like LeBron’s exit from Cleveland, we’ll defy the fact that Paul is still under contract to the Hornets. And yes, the lack of respect for a commitment absolutely drives me crazy about professional sports. Nonetheless, while Paul is very talented, and worthy of have having a quality team built around him, he is looking to “take his talents” elsewhere. All in all, this is just another sign of “its about winning”, as an excuse for a lack of competing.
MJ said it best when he stated:
"There's no way, with hindsight, I would've ever called up Larry, called up Magic and said, 'Hey, look, let's get together and play on one team. But that's ... things are different. I can't say that's a bad thing. It's an opportunity these kids have today. In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys."
- Michael Jordan
Charles Barkley agreed, saying:
Mike and I are in 100 percent agreement on this. If you're the two-time defending NBA MVP, you don't leave anywhere. They come to you. That's ridiculous. I like LeBron. He's a great player. But I don't think in the history of sports you can find a two-time defending MVP leaving to go play with other people."
- Charles Barkley
And finally, Magic touched on the subject:
“We didn’t think about it ’cause that’s not what we were about. From college, I was trying to figure out how to beat Larry Bird.”
- Earvin “Magic” Johnson
While the summer of 2010 saw three superstars willingly join forces in Miami to win, somehow, someway, they sold their competitive soul to do so.
…And yes, they took the easy way out.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
It seems we walk that aisle every night.
Staring into the lights. Staring out into the world.
No regrets. No concerns. No way back.
The naysayers boo, and some whisper their words of destruction.
Others arise to their feet in support, on board with this uniqueness.
Yet they all turn in unison, as we come through those curtains.
We defy the attention. We defy the spotlight. We defy the acknowledgement.
It’s about quick tags and ring positioning in this life, and thus remains our focus.
We remain loyal to our arsenal of clashing forks, fireworks, and sticking it to the man.
Through it all, we season, we sharpen, and we leave just a little bit to our craziness.
For craziness is like heaven…
And that’s a finisher that no one has been able to kick out of.
It all has been a wonderful ride to this point,
And it is a ride, that has just begun.
All in all, I am very happy that each and every night, you are in my corner. Big Time.
Friday, July 09, 2010
It’s a statement that caused a wave of emotions for many fans, executives, experts, and officials depending on your line of thinking and of course, where you live. After much hoopla and grand pomp and circumstance created by LeBron and “his camp”, the world watched due to intrigue, but rolled their eyes with every comment made by the superstar. And rolling their eyes was just the beginning of the backlash from many who have used specific words to label the decision made by LeBron, but the way he has handled this entire "supposed” magical summer of 2010.
Gone. It was the word used to describe LeBron James on the day after “The Decision” in Cleveland. The Cleveland Plain Dealer also decided to take a swipe at James in regards to letting the world know that he never delivered a ring to the championship-starved city. It’s an appropriate word to describe the way James decided to make a spectacle of his “decision” before going on national television to rip the hearts out of Cleveland fans – the same fans who he vowed to bring them a championship.
Quitter. A word that no professional athlete likes to have linked to their reputation. However, Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers threw that title on James in a publicly written letter laced at James. The letter which is rhetoric rarely made from a sport franchise’s owner, expressed the hurt, frustration, and anger that the city of Cleveland felt after “The Decision”
Follower. It’s a word that has been thrown at James here in New York City as well as in Chicago. After burning this great city as well as the second city, many were not angry about his decision not to come here, but rather his decision to join up with Wade and Bosh in Miami. I cannot speak for Chicago, but this city that suffered from the heroics of Michael Jordan, however, respected him for his competitiveness. Even, the same for Reggie Miller. Yes, Reggie Miller. However, James will no longer be viewed as one of those guys. In the eyes of many, he is the guy that ran from a challenge, ran from two big cities, ran from the pressure, and took the easy way out.
And to be very honest, many of those words resonate with me when it comes to LeBron James and his decision to go to Miami. He definitely crushed a city that he led on for seven years before leaving them at the alter – on national television. He also handled his departure very poorly. While Gilbert’s open letter was very disingenuous, he, and the organization deserved at least a call to make them aware of where he was headed. As for being a quitter and a follower, James has earned the right to make the decision that is best for him and his family.
With that said, the word that best describes my feelings on “The Decision” is disappointment. Disappointment in the way he has morphed into this ego-driven maniac that needs a grand spectacle of his “Decision”. A “Decision” that his now fellow teammates also made the day before without a one hour special that included more structure and production, more scripted questions and answers, and more fluff than an episode of Monday Night Raw. Yes, I went there.
This hoopla and “joining forces” idea has been in the works since Beijing. Bosh let it slip in their “Welcoming Party” (More on that later), and anyone else who doesn’t think so, enjoys being played for a fool.
However, the biggest disappointment of it all is James’ sudden loss for competing. I understand Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are his good friends. I also understand that most superstars that win championships are filled with talent around them. Yet, Jordan, Barkley, Ewing, Malone, Stockton, and the majority of the members on the 1992 dream team were close friends, yet, beating each other was just as important to them.
But James is attempting to lead us to believe that it’s not him latching his wagon to someone else’s ride (Wade), but one of giving himself the best chance to win.
The same way he tried to make us believe not shaking hands after losing in the playoffs is acceptable (LeBron (Finally) Acts His Age).
But nonetheless, this is what he wanted, and we cannot fault him in anyway for that.
It’s just a big case of disappointment for one of the greatest athletes in sports ever, to become a completely different person than the one we saw for the seven years before.
In a quote stated by Michael Kay on his radio show on 1050am New York, “LeBron James did one of the hardest tings to do in sports and in entertainment. He managed to go from one of the world’s most beloved individuals into making himself into one of the world’s most hated individuals in one hour! That’s pretty tough to do.”
Indeed it is.
When it comes to LeBron James, we are all still witnesses.
Witnesses to one of the biggest disappointments in sports history.
Monday, July 05, 2010
A simple statement made by Amar’e Stoudemire, the newest member of my beloved Knicks. Yes, as a die hard Knick fan, I have had my share of rants (Embarrassing – The State of The New York Knickerbockers, A Different Year it is Not, Do Something Right: Isiah’s “One Year” Continues, One More Year of Possible Frustration. A Future of Guaranteed Idiocy) and raves over the past years here at the DP in regards to the love that dominates my winters. Nonetheless, on the midnight that reigned in that magical date of July 1st, 2010, the possibilities seemed worth it for putting up with the last decade.
And now, after several days of following NBA free agency to the point of obsession, listening to Chris Broussard mention everyone going to Chicago 7,289 times, and feeling like once again, due to the possibility of getting shut out that there was a curse on Knick fans, Amar’e Stoudemire is now a New York Knick.
And although he is not the acquisition every Knick fan wants, and although I originally did not warm to the idea of acquiring Stoudemire when it was first rumored, today I am excited – very excited.
And main reasons are because 1) The Knicks have come away with at least someone this summer and 2) we have Amar’e Stoudemire!
Albeit, I will admit, I am worried about his knee. I am worried about his interior defense and rebound production. And yes, I will definitely miss the one shining light in a dark era that was David Lee. However, the one sole reason I have warmed to Stoudemire as a Knick is simple – he wants to be on the big stage. He wants to be here. He wants a piece of this great city of New York.
And although other free agents preach this through their camps, entourage, and “sources”, Stoudemire has taken the initiative and has that New York sense of courage to come here without a partnering “star”, and be the guy.
No summit necessary.
Whether we land another free agent or not. He is in.
And being the best talent the Knicks have had since Patrick Ewing, in his first statement he states, “The Knicks are back!”
He’s not afraid to make a statement like that. He’s not afraid to back down. He wants the lights. He enjoys the stage. And after viewing a play on Broadway, then catching a Yankee win at the stadium, he well, fits in.
So yes, I am excited for next season. We now have a centerpiece. And as described by Ian O’Connor from ESPNNewYork.com, Stoudemire may be the biggest free agent the Knicks have ever signed for many reasons.
Cough. Recruiting. Cough. LeBron. Cough. James.
However this isn’t over.
Something tells me there will be more of these posts in the coming weeks. Maybe days.
Saturday, July 03, 2010
Michael Vick is back in the news…again. And after the second chance, the sympathy, and the grand reclamation project that he has become, Vick finds himself involved with the law for yet another time. And although dog lovers and animal rights activists have yet to forgive him (and probably won’t), Vick’s comeback seemed to have been a mild success until now.
Vick, who is tied to a shooting that occurred outside of a restaurant which held his 30th birthday party festivities, is on the hot seat in regards to the truth of what happened.
So, what did actually happen?
Vick claimed he left 30 minutes before the shootings occurred.
Actual video evidence showed that he did indeed leave 3 minutes before the shootings, and headed in the direction of the shooting.
Regardless of the truth, this does not look good for Vick. And after reviewing this situation, it is hard to believe that Vick would put himself in such a position. It is understood that Vick may not have known what would have happened, or even, what did happen. Yet, he must understand that he is on a short leash. With the law. With the NFL. With society. Especially after a Forbes report shows that he is still the nation’s most hated athlete.
Vick cannot afford to be linked to these type of situations in any remote way, which is why I find this entire thing baffling. He can still have fun, but with caution. He painted himself into this situation, and that is by no on else’s fault but his own.
And yet, after having such a highly critical view on Vick and his lack of judgment, I read Jason Whitlock’s article on foxsports.com which helped me look at Vick’s situation in a different way. The article, describes the response from the black community for Vick, and how it compares to the treatment of Donovan McNabb. It’s a very interesting read which touches base on the scope of how Michael Vick is constantly defended within the black community, while an upstanding and decorated quarterback such as Donovan McNabb has never had such support.
While I rarely agree with Whitlock, I do enjoy his articles, and I find him to be a person that is not afraid to refrain from hot button issues. In this article, he is completely correct. In a sport where men of color have been stereotyped for so long about their leadership and lack of character to hold the quarterback position, Vick has done so much damage to strides made by men such as Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham, and yes, Donovan McNabb.
Whitlock’s assures this idea when he states:
“And all of his defenders/enablers are just as stupid.
What’s always bothered me about Vick is that he’s far more beloved in the black community than McNabb. It’s mind-boggling to me.
No QB in the history of the league has done more damage to the reputation of and the opportunities afforded to black quarterbacks than Michael Vick. And I say that knowing full well that as you read this, JaMarcus Russell is likely somewhere scarfing down hot wings at an all-you-can-eat buffet while wearing $2 million in designer jewelry.
Vick is a nightmare. When he wasn’t setting fire to his groupie conquests as Ron Mexico, he was bunkered in his estate smoking kush and mastering Xbox Madden football. In his spare time, he trained dogs to maim and fight. He hoodwinked Arthur Blank into a $100-million payday and then went to jail.”
It is quite the alternative look on such a sad, and well, stupid situation. And the very ironic part of this is that Philadelphia ran off a future hall of famer, for a thirty year-old ex-convict and reclamation project, who’s reputation is still based on potential than actual accomplishment.
Yup, Whitlock is definitely on to something.
Vick’s judgment might be poor, but, by viewing the grand scheme of the situation - so is ours.
Thursday, July 01, 2010
Every so often, there is a story in the news that makes you stop dead in your tracks. The sort of story that makes you squint your eyes, purs your lips, and get the wheels in the dome moving quite a bit. Usually these kind of stories are the ones that are plastered on the front page with some catchy headline that helps sell newspapers, solicit clicks, or create the proverbial retweet. The kind of story that is negative in nature, or juicy enough in raw gossip.
However, the story yours truly came across a couple of weeks ago is the kind that is non of the aforementioned. In fact, it is quite the opposite. This story was the kind that was buried in the middle of the paper and probably passed over for Lady Gaga or Lebron James. The story that I am describing is one in which a 18 year old homeless teenager, abandoned by his parents, earns a college scholarship.
The story which can be read here, is one that I feel should be read by everyone. A story, which somewhat mirrors the story of Chris Gardner and his “Pursuit of Happiness”, Orayne Williams discusses his drive to sacrifice through homeless shelters and long days of studying. A story that exhibits an individual’s drive to want better for his life despite his external conditions.
After spending some time working with teens, and continuing to work with youth through baseball, it is a story that I find amazing. In a time where many of our youth devalue education and are afraid to sacrifice and work hard, Williams uses school and education as a way to escape his situation, but most importantly, a way to build his future.
While it may sound cliché, and yes, very corny, unfortunately, that is where the next generation is. Especially, in the inner city.
And even though Williams’ story is one of inspiration for teenagers, his story is one for adults as well. Williams, in a bind, could've easily given up on a life that seemed to have given up on him. It was easy to give in, and rebel against a system that didn’t seem all too supportive of him. But he didn’t.
He didn’t make any excuses. He didn’t blame anyone or anything.
It is a unique and interesting story that makes one wonder about how easily we give up, or maybe how little we try in today’s society.
Orayne Williams’ story is a stark reminder of one or the other – or both.