BLOOD ON THE LEAVES, AND BLOOD AT THE ROOTS

Protester wearing an American flag over his face in Ferguson, MO. – Photo by Alex Welch

About a week ago, while I was back home in Far Rockaway, I was talking with my mother when she delivered what to many would be frightening news.

” You know somebody got shot out here the other week,” she said in a tone that was all too familiar. One that was sincere and yet not at all surprised.

Are you serious?” I replied back in the same tone. “Mhmmm.” She said. “A little girl…shot in the leg…all of a sudden all I heard was people running, screaming and carrying on.”

“Someone was shooting the other day right outside the building too.” 

And then there it was. That all too familiar uncomfortable silence that follows whenever people in the community hear this type of news. It was then I realized that no matter how much I wanted to believe that things changed from when I grew up they really hadn’t. I was just removed from it. But it was still there and these conversations were still happening all over the country, with that same tone. 

This situation in Ferguson gave me the same feeling ever since it started a week ago. It is on one hand disgraceful and upsetting, but on the other hand it is eyeopening. It sheds light on issues that we as a society are always told were eradicated in 1865, then reinforced in 1965. But I cannot tell to be honest. This morning I woke up heavyhearted. It started as disbelief, which then turned to sadness and then anger. I could not understand how a city could essentially declare war on its citizens for protesting a situation caused by the officers who are supposed to protect those same people. Some might say the word war is an exaggeration, but when you see police in riot gear, on tanks and using military grade weapons on unarmed protesters — and children who are marching peacefully for crying out loud — I don’t know what else to call it. The word atrocity does come to mind. 

Peaceful Demonstrators showing support in Ferguson – Photo Courtesy of Alex Welch.

As black man in America I have conflicted feelings on a regular basis, but these days those have been intensified. I almost feel guilty about succeeding in life. I grew up in a neighborhood that not too many people make it out of and I have been able to do great things at a young age. But what about the people who had too many obstacles in their way to overcome? Sure we were all poor in my neighborhood, but I’m not foolish enough to believe that some people I grew up with never got a fair shot because of things that they couldn’t control. What about them? I knew plenty of guys like Michael Brown growing up. Why was he shot in the street like the worst of criminals? Why were his parents left in the dark for hours about what happened? Why do they have to defend their son’s reputation through the media against the word of the police? Why does his community have to be ravaged by police because they want justice for one of their own citizens? Why do I, someone who lives thousands of miles away from Missouri, and other black people around the country have to defend the right not to be treated like three-fifths of a person 50 years after the Civil Rights act of 1964 was enacted? 

Issues regarding race relations, in this country, go well beyond Michael Brown and excessive force used by police, as many people love to point out. I’ve hear people bring up black on black crime,  the images that “some” black people portray and how that contributes to young black men being more susceptible to these types of situations. 

“Pull your pants up and maybe we don’t have to kill you.”

“If you didn’t look threatening maybe we wouldn’t be afraid of you at night” 

“Black people kill each other everyday…why do you care just because the officer was white?” 

These are just a few of the poisonous attitudes shown toward black and brown people. Others like to point out that black people are just too sensitive. They get offended that black people are offended by their offensive statements. The ultimate irony. 

“Why are you so serious all the time?” 

“You don’t have to get all angry..everyone is entitled to their own opinion. You don’t have to like it.” 

My rebuttal to those people…

You think that black people are threatening, not because their pants sag or they have on a hooded sweatshirt..it’s because of the color of their skin. Nobody shoots down white computer programmers and skateboarders when they wear the same things on a regular basis. I care because I have the right not to be shot in the street like a rabid animal. I’m not advocating black on black crime or crime by anyone. I want all senseless crime in communities like my hometown and across the country to stop. I’m serious because I’m tired of walking around pretending that I don’t see these things that are as clear as day. I don’t have the luxury of changing my skin color or my history just so I can be oblivious to the way the world is. And while you are entitled to your own opinion, I don’t have to agree with it, especially when your opinion directly interferes with me living my life with the same freedoms you do. 

Things that I noticed have not been properly represented are the things that scare me the most about this situation. The police are antagonizing the crowds of people and firing tear gas at them, while there have been reports of outsiders stirring the pot against the police to create a more violent situation — as if the police needed anymore reason to overuse their force. A country that is full of agendas at almost every level of government and a town that has little representation to reflect its population — Ferguson has a population that is over 67 percent black — is all of a sudden trying to do what is right by enforcing a curfew and beating people senseless if they don’t comply? And the shooting of Brown was justified because they believe, after the fact, that he may have been involved in a robbery? None of these things add up, make sense or seem fair, but are being pushed through to the media daily as the situation gets worse. These thoughts are the kind that would have me labeled as an “angry black man” just making excuses or a conspiracy theorist. But how can I make up what is happening in front of all of our eyes? 

Woman with her hands raised in the middle of the street in a mist of tear gas in Ferguson, MO.

That same evening I had that conversation with my mother, we went out to dinner and eventually as it always does the conversation turned to the obvious situation that none of us could avoid forever. My mother and aunt grew up during the era where social activism and were very prevalent. In fact it was the norm. 

My aunt’s attitude was that a part of our struggle is knowing how to withstand these kinds of injustices and keep moving. It is how our people have survived. It’s how we made it to where we are today. And in a way she’s right; from the slave ships through the cotton fields and all the way up to Dr. King, we have endured injustices from all sides and persevered on until we got what was long overdue to us. But why should we have to continue to endure these things 50 years later? Did my elders not march, and sit-in and go to jail and get hung from trees and burned and decapitated and gunned down so that me, my brothers and Michael Brown’s all over the country could walk down the middle of the street of our own neighborhoods? 

Why is it that we still have to make excuses for this systematic injustice and the constant poaching of our culture by others while we sit idly by? 

Like I told my aunt, I’m tired of that. I don’t want to live my life that way. I don’t want my little brother or my cousins or my children to live their lives that way. And as much as I get fired up I turn on the news to see more protesters, reporters and citizens getting arrested, beat on and treated like war criminals for what to me seems right. And in that moment I feel helpless because I have no answers. Just a ton of questions that remind me that things haven’t changed the way I thought they did, at least not for everyone. 

RAMBLINGS OF A MAD BLOGGER: SUPER BOWL XLVIII

As a general rule, when you begin a football game with a safety it’s probably not going to be a good day. It kind of foreshadows that things just aren’t going to go well that day. It’s like waking up to no hot water when you get in the shower. So when Denver’s center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball over Peyton Manning’s head and into the endzone it spelled a long day for the Broncos. But even at that point nobody could have imagined the last football game of the year, with the two best teams in the entire NFL would end in a 43-8 drubbing that looked more like a college team playing against an Pros instead of the two best teams in the world.

Time Square aka Super Bowl Blvd. (Photo via The Verge)

Unless you are a Seahawks fan, it was literally painful to watch. It was the football version of the Globetrotters and the Generals. Towards the end I was hoping the NFL would give fans a complementary game after the Super Bowl ended. For all the hype and talk that surrounded this game (the cold weather, the constant talk about Sherman, Peyton’s legacy etc) the end result fell short in more ways than one. The only thing the game made me sure of, the Seattle Seahawks were the deepest, toughest and most resilient team this entire season. And I need tickets to see Bruno Mars live in concert because dude killed it. And that 9/11 was perpetrated by people in our own government. Everything else is up for discussion, so lets start with…

MANNING’S LEGACY 

Peyton Manning is still one of the greatest even after his worst defeat. Photo cred: (USATSI)

On media day Peyton downplayed this Super Bowl as his “legacy game”. He was already considered one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever put on cleats, but this game was supposed to cement him as the greatest at his position. Because winning a Super Bowl one time, or being first (55) and third (49) for most passing touchdowns in a season, or winning league MVP five times just isn’t enough right? Peyton was outmatched in the in every way in his third Super Bowl. Seattle dared him to throw it and when he did they made him pay. A guy who looked superhuman on a regular basis looked nervous, flustered and just plain regular. He hadn’t looked that bad since the Patriots used to torment him when he was on the Colts. But to say that he isn’t one of the best QB’s ever because he didn’t win this game, or to say “he only wins in the regular season” is ridiculous.

When Peyton went down with his neck injury he became a sympathetic figure. When he got cut by the Colts people wanted to see him come back and prove the doubters wrong. The critics backed off because there was a possibility that he would never play again and in that moment people started to realize that Peyton was really good even with just one ring. So why should him coming back and losing change any of that? Is winning really the only measure of greatness? Does overall performance not count at all? Manning’ Boss, John Elway lost three Super Bowls, Tom Brady lost two Super Bowls, Roger Staubach lost three times, Dan Marino lost the only one he ever played in and Jim Kelley lost all four that he played in. All of those men are in the Hall of Fame with the exception of Brady – I think it’s a safe bet he’ll get in. The only Quarterbacks, currently in the Hall of Fame, to play in multiple Super Bowls and go undefeated in them are Terry Bradshaw (4), Joe Montana (5) and Troy Aikman (3).

Peyton Manning changed the game at his position. The way he calls audibles at the line and completely shifts plays on the go is unprecedented. One of the reasons that the NFL is now a passing heavy league is due to the success that Peyton Manning’s teams (Indianapolis and Denver) have had for his career. In his 15 years as a starter his team has made the playoffs 13 times. Peyton may not have won the “Big One” all the time, but Peyton Manning is a winner. That, to me, will always be his legacy.

WORST BEHAVIOR 

Was this the worst Super Bowl ever? Technically speaking no. Major let down? Yes. Lopsided from start to finish? Absolutely. But not the worst. I’ve seen every Super Bowl thanks to NFL films so I know. This game featured some very big plays, they just all happened to be in favor of Seattle. Percy Harvin’s kickoff return was dazzling to watch. I had almost forgotten how fast he was. Malcolm Smith taking it 69 yards to the house off of Peyton Manning was awesome. Jermaine Kearse broke four tackles on his way into the endzone and released his inner Beast Mode. Russell Wilson barely missed on his throws last night and threw for 72 percent. The 35-point margin of victory wasn’t even the most lopsided – the most is 45, but we’ll get to that later. This game was a bad one, but it won’t stand out as the worst when if people watch again it years from now. Super Bowl XX ended with the Bears winning 46-10 over the Patriots and New England looked way more helpless. Super Bowl V, also known as the Blunder Bowl has more clips that belong on NFL Follies than Sportscenter’s Top 10. Super Bowl I? Snooze-ville. The NFC championship game was more exciting. But the worst? For me it’s Super Bowl III. It might be the most important game in the NFL’s history, but the Jets and the Colts were not fun to watch that day.

THE BIGGEST LOSERS 

The irony here is just too real.

Wes Welker – The GIF above sums up Welker’s career to this point perfectly. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. He’s been on three Super Bowl rosters and still has never tasted that sweet electrolyte filled cup of victory. Without question Welker has been one of the NFL’s best slot receivers, but he keeps getting the short end of the stick in the big game.

John Fox – Here’s a guy who had a heart attack mid-season heart attack, but managed to come back and coach his team all the way to the biggest game of his life. That alone is amazing, but imagine the story if he finishes with a win? Instead he’s now 0-2 in the Super Bowl. Also I’m not sure what you say to your team after a 35 point loss in the big one. There just aren’t enough clichés in the book.

Champ Bailey – All the Madden heads remember back in the day when you played with the Broncos and every Champ Bailey interception was an automatic pick-six? Not so long ago Bailey was Denver’s most popular player, but he’s become a forgotten man now that he’s 35 years old. It would have been nice to see Champ get a ring with the career he’s had.

The Orange Jersey – Denver has lost every Super Bowl they played in with the orange jersey. In fact they’ve never scored more than 10 points wearing orange.

Super Bowl XII (12): Cowboys 27, Broncos 10

Super Bowl XXII (22): Redskins 42, Broncos 10

Super Bowl XXIV (24): 49ers 55, Broncos 10

Numbers don’t lie son. Burn the orange jersey’s. Nothing good can come from them.

Commercials – Almost all of them were terrible. The one with Bruce Willis looked sort of promising, but then it got awkward with Fred Armisen wrapped around him. The only two that didn’t suck were the one with the puppy and the horse (tear jerker) and the Bull that was about to go to work. Also there was a Cure Auto Insurance ad that ripped off Sherman’s rant and and called out the Geico Gecko out that was pretty hilarious, but I don’t think that was shown nationally. The rest of you try harder next year.

BOUT THAT ACTION BOSS

Marshawn Lynch aka Beast mode took a lot of flack for not talking all year. Then he took a lot of flack for not wanting to be a part of Media Day. People really blew it out of proportion (like this guy) and it became a story about nothing. What was lost in all the hoopla was that Marshawn’s limited quotes were amazing.

When asked about why he didn’t want to talk to the media: “I’m just bout that action boss.”

On how he was mentally preparing for the Super Bowl: “I’m S.R. bruh (long pause) stay ready. So there ain’t no getting ready”

On assistant coach Tom Cable: “Well, being from Oakland, all I knew about him was that he punched people. That’s my type of person.”

And that was just the lead up. After Mr. Skittles himself won the biggest game of his life his post-game transcript ended up on the web.

Marshawn's quotes after Super Bowl XLVII

Marshawn’s quotes after Super Bowl XLVII

If you don’t love this guy, you’re the problem.

GOING TO DISNEY WORLD

Malcolm Smith is now in the same category as Chuck Howley and Ray Lewis as the only players to win Super Bowl MVP as a linebacker. He also got a free pick-up truck – did they run out of Cadillacs? As anyone with the last name Smith knows it’s easy to get overlooked when you have the most common name in America. Smith has been overshadowed for a while. His brother, Steve Smith, also plays football and won a ring with the Giants in 2008, he was a 7th round pick coming out of college and two weeks ago he made the game winning interception only to see his teammate get all the attention for his post game rant. But on this night in the stadium next to the greatest city in the world, Malcolm Smith stole the spotlight. 10 tackles, an 69-yard interception return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery. That return also made the game 21-0 and fully swung the momentum in Seattle’s favor. Cheers to you Malcolm Smith, you’re going to Disney World in a Chevy Silverado, ‘Merica.

All in all the Super Bowl was what it always is, a huge media circus that happens to feature a football game. Now go home everyone. I would like to walk down the streets of mid-town Manhattan.

What do y’all think…Is Peyton overrated? Did any of the commercials catch your attention? Would anyone pick a different MVP? Was this the worst Super Bowl ever? Feel free to comment away.

THE HEIST

Photo via Hypetrak

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on Grammy night 2014

Irony was a big theme for the Grammy’s this year. Every year someone somewhere feels like they got snubbed, but this year’s biggest snub to me was Kendrick Lamar losing out to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for best Rap Album. It is truly irony at it’s finest. If there is one thing I love more than or as much as I love sports, it’s music. All kinds of music, no matter what it is. If it’s good I’ll probably like it – although the “good” argument is a whole other story. Hip-Hop in particular has a special place in my heart though. I still remember being wowed by Slick Rick’s (possibly my favorite rapper of all-time) ability to create a vivid picture in my mind on Children’s Story. When I was five years old I was rapping Wu-Tang’s C.R.E.A.M with my Dad and my brothers. I rode shotgun through the streets of Brooklyn with Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt, In My Lifetime and Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life as soundtracks. Hip-Hop is different from a lot of other genres of music in certain ways; no better, no worse just different. The quality of a rap artist’s lyrics are held to a higher standard, because a rap song is judged based on the ability of the MC to keep the listener engaged with their wordplay, flow, subject matter etc.

Nobody did that better on an entire album this year than Kendrick Lamar, and that includes the artists he looks up to: Jay-Z, Kanye West and Eminem. His album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, chronicled his transformation from a naive teenager, in the volatile and unforgiving streets of Compton, California, to a young man. Over 12 tracks he becomes aware of how bad his situation is and that he needs to be a part of the change that his city needs. The album’s crowning achievement in my opinion was “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst”. It perfectly chronicles two damaging, but prevalent lifestyles (gang life and prostitution) that are apparent in his neighborhood and typically lead to untimely deaths. He raps about the different effects both of these had on him and ends hoping that once he is dead and gone someone will be inspired by whatever life he manages to live. As an artist Kendrick is extremely knowledgeable and present with issues that are very real without condoning or condemning them. His music speaks to people like him using what has happened  in his life and shows the consequences of those things. Very rarely can a artist make a song like Swimming Pools, that eloquently tells the listener about the dangers of binge drinking then turn around and have that song be a radio/club smash. The irony of that song’s message and resulting popularity and impact is proof that Kendrick is a different and gifted artist.

This album highlighted all of his talents. Storytelling (So now I’m down Rosecrans in a Caravan/Passing Alameda, my gas meter in need of a pump/I got enough to get me through the traffic jam/At least I hope cause my pockets broke as a promise man), wordplay (Hotboxing like George Foreman grilling the masses/Of the working world, we pulled up on a bunch of working girls/And asked them what they working with) and maybe most importantly the ability to tackle subjects about social issues (And you ask, “Lift up your shirt” cause you wonder if a tattoo/Of affiliation can make it a pleasure to put me through/Gang files, but that don’t matter because the matter is racial profile/I heard them chatter: “He’s probably young but I know that he’s down”). He also tried new things and experimented with different sounds. Possibly the most popular song, Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe, has a hook that makes him sound almost alien-like at times. The second half of the song M.A.A.D City you hear his voice go through a range of “the voice you use when you’re calling the cops for ransom” to “I just swallowed an abnormal amount of helium.” But it works to make you feel like you just smoked a joint laced with angel dust, which is the point he’s trying to make. In a word, Good Kid M.A.A.D City is effective. It paints a picture of his life then and why he is here now.

Photo via Celeb n music 247 website

Kendrick Lamar’s GQ shoot

Now with all that said I’m not suggesting that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis aren’t great artist or that they didn’t make an effective album. Those two managed to hit the top of the charts independently which is an amazing feat and their music is also very good. They have no intention of being anyone else but themselves. They tackled the huge social issue of equality, particularly gay and lesbian rights, on the song Same Love. But having three top-10 songs on Billboard and making the best rap album are two different things. Macklemore himself even said he felt Kendrick had the better album and blamed the voting process as to why he won. Ironic though that the album entitled The Heist stole an award away from someone. I mean seriously, you just can’t write that kind of thing. Kendrick got snubbed no doubt, but he seemed to handle it pretty gracefully. His Grammy mash-up with Imagine Dragons was dope on multiple levels and woke the show up after it got very boring – then they went to an acoustic country performance by Kacey Musgraves..like I said irony was a theme. He’s also had an awesome year as far as his career success goes – cover of GQ kind of puts you on the map if you weren’t already. At the end of the day winning a Grammy won’t validate how good he is or how great classic his album is. The Grammy’s will continue to snub artists and whole genres, as long as people keep watching (this year was the second-highest rated show in 21 years). Ironically Kendrick predicted this would happen in his song Good Kid (He don’t mind, he know we’ll never respect, the good kid, m.A.A.d. city).

THE UNFATHOMABLE JR SMITH

JR Smith is a superstar player. JR Smith should be a superstar player. JR Smith could be superstar. JR Smith has the ability to be a superstar player. JR Smith has the physical talent to be a superstar player. I think that’s enough modification. Should and could are words typically reserved for players who haven’t figured out the league yet. More times than not that’s players who have been in a professionally athlete for less than three or four years. JR Smith has been in the NBA since he was 18 years old. That’s nearly 10 years of experience on how the league works. I’ve never played 1 minute in the NBA, but I know that if my coach and the league warned me not to untie someone’s shoe during a game I wouldn’t do it the very next night. Therein lies the biggest problem with JR Smith. For all of his talent and ability, for all of his physical exploits and shooting prowess and “potential” he proves time and again that he can’t be that superstar player that he should, could or has the ability to be.

This of course goes far beyond untying shoelaces. That act itself, under other circumstances, probably wouldn’t warrant much negative attention especially if a player was making significant contributions between the lines.  But JR Smith has always had character issues while in the league. His ability to get hot and play like an all-star for stretches of games kept him in teams’ rotations for a lot of years, specifically in Denver and definitely in New York. But JR’s play is way down this season compared to what he did just a year ago. Last year JR Smith had his best season on both ends of the floor. He averaged 18 points per game,  had a player efficiency rating of 17.6 and turned the ball over at the lowest rate of his career. Defensively he was just as stellar averaging career a career high in rebounds (4.5) and tied his second career high steals (1.3). All of this was done with Smith coming off of the bench for the Knicks and it helped them win over 50 games.

But ever since he elbowed Jason Terry in the first round of the playoffs he hasn’t even been close to the player who won the Sixth-Man of the Year award in 2012. He finished the playoffs shooting 33 percent and 27 percent from 3-point range. Just to illustrate how far he has fallen you can look at his advanced stats. Offensive Win Shares measure how many wins  a player has contributed to his team with his offense. Last year his number was 4 (the highest in his career) this year…it -0.4. He’s literally cost the teams wins with how bad he is playing this season. Oh and his OWS in the playoffs last season…-0.5!

JR Smith was ejected and suspended an additional game for elbowing Jason Terry during the playoffs. (GIF via SB Nation)

So if you couple JR’s terrible play since April with his many mental mistakes it becomes clear that he isn’t proving to be the “changed man” that people were painting him as last year. There is a third piece to this puzzle though. When a player doesn’t perform well for a significant, that player typically loses playing minutes. If a player shows that he isn’t focused on basketball he can lose playing games. So why hasn’t JR seen any changes in his playing time? Head coach Mike Woodson. Mike Woodson has been a very public supporter of JR Smith and sometimes to a fault. Him believing in JR Smith was a big reason for JR elevating his play last year, but Woodson also claimed when he became a coach that he would hold all of his players accountable. In a game against the Houston Rockets JR Smith took an ill-advised 3-pointer with 19 seconds left and the game tied. JR said he thought the Knicks were down by two (which makes no difference), but to make it worse Woodson blamed Beno Udrih for passing Smith the ball. Woodson has become JR’s enabler. You can’t possibly expect a player to become better if you constantly make excuses for every foolish thing he does.

But at the end of the day it comes back to JR Smith. He’s a grown man and shouldn’t need to be reminded of what that entails as much as he does. I’ve been begging for the Knicks to trade him practically all season. With Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. on the team you could easily make up what you would miss from a fully functioning JR Smith. The Bockers are reportedly looking for trade partners, which has brought up the question: Who would want him? It’s a valid question because after 10 years all he’s shown fans is that he probably won’t be all the things that should, could and has the ability to be.

CAN’T WIN FOR LOSING

Sometimes after arguing with friends or the television (or internet) about matters that involve sports and their interesting transactions I’m convinced that I can run a professional team. I’m sure I’m not alone, in fact I’m almost sure I’m in the majority with most fans around the country.

Parker and Wiggins at the McDonalds All-American game

That said, there is a school of thought that seems to be widely promoted and supported that I can’t really seem to understand. What is that you may ask..? Tanking. Teams feeling like they should lose as many games as possible to get a better chance at a good draft pick. It’s become a trendy idea around the league again this year especially because the NBA draft this upcoming summer of 2014 will have “franchise players” Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins at the top . Both freshman, who look like they will be stars in the NBA and will probably dominate the conversation in college basketball for the majority of the year in some “can you top this” sort of weekly showcase. Awesome; can’t wait for that.

In the meantime there will probably be a bunch of NBA teams losing games on purpose in hopes to turn they’re struggling or middle of the road team into a title contender. Here’s where I have a problem. Why would you want to remove yourself from contention and alienate your fan base by losing games on purpose? The race for last place doesn’t really make sense when the NBA draft is decided by a lottery. Nor does it make sense to give a half-assed effort for an entire season and lose fans in the process.

Now I won’t go as far as Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski did and pull the patriotic card, but I’m still very much against losing to get a better draft position. There is reportedly an NBA GM who believes that his team has a better chance of winning down the road by trading away players they don’t want, losing as many games as possible and drafting which ever player proves to be the next great NBA star for this generation.

But take a look at a team like Indiana. They were a middle of the pack team and no one could have predicted that they would make it to game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last season. Their 3 best players Paul George (10th pick in 2010), Roy Hibbert (17th pick in ’08) and Lance Stephenson (40th pick in 2010) weren’t world beaters or franchise changers when they were picked. Nobody would seriously think that Paul George was a superstar until he played up to LeBron’s level. And the trade for David West and George Hill is what really pushed the Pacers into the the elite category. For the record I’m not promoting the other school of thought: trade away all your young talented players for veterans and try to win a championship through the free agent market. Only two teams have actually made that work (Heat and Celtics) and teams like the Nets are failing miserably trying to duplicated. The Brooklyn Nets might have the most deep team based on roster, but brought in a coach who could’t even make an open layup last year in the playoffs to manage a coach killler and possibly the greatest trash talker on the planet. But I digress.

Indianapolis is definitely not a big market team or a dream destination, they’re just smart when it comes to building a team. The same goes for teams like the Spurs and Oklahoma City. The trait they all share is patience, which most teams don’t seem to exhibit when making decisions.

NBA Draft Lottery

So is tanking a good idea for an NBA team? Well ask teams like the Sacramento Kings or the Washington Wizards. Perrenial bottom feeders that drafted players (Demarcus Cousins for Sac-town and John Wall and Bradley Beal for the Generals Bullets Wizards) who were supposed to be saviors to their respective franchises. In theory you could end up with LeBron, Durant or Rose by tanking, but what happens if you plan for that and don’t get it?

ONE FOR THE AGES

It was all, but over. The apparent inevitable end to the Heat’s season was aided by the visual of security members in bright yellow shirts getting in position for the impending celebration. Jeff Van Gundy was halfway into his rant about how he didn’t like that they were so close to Tim Duncan on the sideline. Mike Breen replied by telling Van Gundy that it was necessary to keep order once the game had officially ended; because practically everyone in the arena thought they knew what was about to happen.
San Antonio was up by two points with about 20 seconds to go and even after LeBron’s clutch 3-pointer no one expected the Heat to make the right play, every play and for San Antonio to falter.
But Kawhi Leonard missed his first free throw attempt, which left the door open. Bosh pulled down a key offensive rebound after a LeBron miss and kicked the ball to an open Ray Allen who knocked down a seemingly routine 3-pointer to tie the game at 95 apiece. And the rest is history. 

Image

The Heat celebrate pulling off an improbable comeback in Game 6 of the finals.

It was the most improbable comeback win in recent finals memory. The game itself was a microcosm of the constant ebb and flow of the series. Huge runs by each team, first San Antonio in the 2nd and third quarter. Then Miami at the beginning of the fourth, then Spurs again to take a late lead and finally the Heat again to send it into OT. Neither team could seize control of the game for very long the way neither team could win back to back games on six tries. 

All things considered this may have been one of the most exciting finals games of all-time. LeBron, after bringing the team back from a 10 point deficit, was on the brink of having to explain how he couldn’t win another title, and assert himself as the absolute best player. Wade and Bosh struggled for a majority of the post-season and were often overshadowed by Spurs sharpshooter Danny Green for most of the Final. Eric Spoelstra unable to outwit Greg Popovich despite having an amazing season. The legacy’s of the key members of the Heat we’re 20 seconds away from being picked apart. But things fell the Heat’s way in the last 20 seconds and in overtime. 

This is why the players have to see the game all the way through. This is why we as fans love the game. Because no matter what there is always a chance no matter how slim of a margin it’s not over until the fat lady sings. 

The NBA finals has seen many iconic moments and victories. Jerry West’s famous half court shot, Magic Johnson’s baby hook, Michael Jordan’s shoulder shrug after hitting ANOTHER three-pointer, (lets be honest Jordan had so many on his own we could make a list off of that) in this series alone you have Tony Parker’s amazing shot in Game 1 and Lebron’s block on Tiago Splitter in the following game. (LeBron playing without headband was maybe the biggest non-story ever, but it was still unbelievably shocking for some reason.) 

But the final sequence of Game 6 may go down as the most amazing finish of all time, (granted we won’t be able to fully appreciate it until years from now) if the Heat can win Game 7 on Thursday. That game like this entire series is basically up in the air, but just like the last six, we will all be watching. 

RAMBLINGS OF A MAD BLOGGER PT. 2

THE 25 CENTS EDITION

With one quarter  of the NFL season gone (see what I did there) and me being a writing mood lately, I’m going recap some of the memorable moments of the year to this point and preview some interesting things in the near future.

Re-replaced

Ironically the biggest story of the year wasn’t a player or a coach, but the lockout of the officials. After what was arguably — probably definitely — the worst call of all time in National Football League  history, the NFL was forced to give the regular referees their jobs back; much to the delight of fans everywhere.

Unless you live under a rock then you know the Green Bay Packers lost to the Seattle Seahawks 14-12 after the replacement officials called an interception on the last play a touchdown. The blown call set off a firestorm of controversy, (I love that phrase) which caused fans, former NFL players and analysts all across the country to question why the league would allow such and essential part of the game go lacking.

My favorite thing from that game though, was the complete disregard of the obvious by the Seahawks. Quarterback Russell Wilson — a pretty likable guy otherwise — was in complete denial about what occurred on the field. After the game the Wilson gave his team credit for fighting, but also said he didn’t see what happened on the play. C’mon Russell. It was played at least five times from every angle in the stadium and reviewed afterwards. To no avail unfortunately.

The “Inaccurate Reception” gives Seattle the 14-12 win over the Packers.

His public enemy partner in crime, Golden Tate, was even worse. When asked about his “catch” he confirmed what the referee called and conveniently overlooked the fact that he only had one hand on the ball and pushed a defender out of the way.

And then there was the Greenbay Pakers’ offensive lineman (and my hero), TJ Lang, who provided the entertainment via Twitter. Needless to say he’s now my favorite O-lineman in the NFL.

In the end, the referee debacle was bound to end, but we sure got one heck of a story out of it before did.

The Goddamn Jets

While I may not like them as much as this little guy, they are some what of a story so far.  Currently the Jets are 2-2 and have lost to two of the NFL’s best — Niners, and Steelers — so on the surface there isn’t much to worry about. But dig deeper and they look to be in big trouble. I hate jumping to conclusions this early in the season, but I’m very concerned for the Jets on multiple fronts.

Darelle Revis and Santonio Holmes are both out for the season, which puts the Jets playoffs hopes in serious jeopardy. Now the Jets were already on the bubble with a full staff so losing Revis really hurt them on defense. Losing Holmes really hurts them since they couldn’t score points consistently with him on the field.

The offense has been terrible, save for the season opening smack down Gang Green laid on the Buffalo Bills. Their last game was a 34-0 drubbing to the San Fransisco. And the schedule  doesn’t get any easier with the Houston Texans coming to town Sunday and the Patriots on the docket two weeks later.

On top of the injuries, the schedule and the offense, there is the Tebow problem. Mark Sanchez, who I think is highly capable, is struggling to keep it together. And Tebow fanatics are just waiting for the next slip-up so they can campaign for Tim Tebow to become the starter.

For a team with so much potential, the Jets are the early favorite to land the “Biggest Disappointment” award by years end.

The only silver lining is the schedule gets easier from November on. We’ll see if they can make it through October first.

Unlucky Stars

Tony Romo is either the most unlucky QB ever or he’s just very bad. Whatever it is, Romo some how became the 9th passer to throw 5 picks in a game multiple times. Even worse, both times it was on Monday Night Football, in front of the entire country.

The last time Romo did this his team was able to bail him out and the Cowboys beat the Bills on a last second FG. This time they got crushed by the Chicago Bears.

Dallas has been known recently for underachieving, but this year seems a little different. This year they just don’t look good at all. Everything looks out-of-sync. on offense. Romo constantly has the struggle face and Jerry Jones still won’t let someone else control day-to-day operations.

How bout them Cowboys?

Well this is awkward..

Drew Brees, arguably one Of the NFL’s best quarterbacks and certainly in the top 5, is on the verge of breaking a record set by the great Johnny Unitas for consecutive games with a TD. Unfortunately for Brees that’s about the only positive for Brees and the Saints after 4 games. The Saints are winless (0-4) they’re defense is terrible and theyre coach for the moment was a position coach last year, all thanks to Bounty gate.
One positive that Brees and the team can look to is that suspended head coach Sean Payton, who was banned from having any contact with the Saints, will be allowed to attend the game and watch Brees attempt to make history..again.
Breed wrote a letter to commissioner Roger Goodell requesting that Payton be allowed to attend the game and that Brees be able to talk with Payton afterwards. Brees, however, did not invite the commish. Ouch. Not surprising considering Goodell isn’t a favorite of player around the league, particularly players in New Orleans after the Bounty scandal.
For the first time ever I actually feel bad for Goodell. You would think this would be a game he would like to see live as well instead of the contest between the Vikings and Titans. Looks like Mr. Goodell won’t be around Louisiana for a while..well at least until this whole Bounty thing blows over. Sorry Roger.

Commish not invited to the party in N.O.

Part 3 of the Ramblings of a Mad Blogger coming soon..

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.