Sunday, September 23, 2007

Gotta Watch 'Em All

There's been a lot going on in...well, just about everything... in the last few weeks, and I've really for the first time gotten so caught up in news and world events that I've forgotten about sports (really Steve, how many times have we had this many consecutive conversations without talking about basketball?). But now that I've got a clear-headed moment, my thoughts have drifted back to the NBA...

Not sure if you agree, but this statement is true for me: for the first time I can recall, I actually have legitimate and exciting reasons to watch every NBA team this season.

Think about that!

Think about football. Before last Sunday, who would watch a Browns game? Bills? Dolphins? No one, 'cause they suck!

In baseball... well if you watch anything other than Red Sox-Yankees, I don't know how you stomach it.

But I am absolutely ecstatic about every NBA team's opening game. I can't wait to see them get back to the court.

Sorry Patrick... I didn't know that would mean your boys would be in THAT kind of court...

(By the way, MAJOR kudos to Jemele Hill for her article about Isiah Thomas--any man abusing black women and making stereotypical and ignorant statements against our people should receive the Imus treatment. Let's not just punish WHITE racists.)

(Sorry... I couldn't stay off the subject forever.)

So here are my reasons to look forward to watching every team this NBA season.

Eastern Conference


Acie Law IV. The Hawks, along with their new (unnecessary) (strange) (whats red, white and blue got to do with a hawk?) uniforms, finally got themselves a legitimate point guard. Law is a leader, and he's a very polished player, along the lines of Deron Williams of Utah. Even if he has some early struggles as did Williams, I expect he'll have a number of assist opportunities to Josh Smith and company that'll be worth a couple of replays on YouTube.

...29 to go...


I'm not even gonna waste my time. The Kid. The Truth. The Artist Formerly Known as Shuttlesworth (I'm sorry, I just can't call him Jesus... feels weird). Ring or bust. They're a must-watch.


The poorly-named Bobcats (Mr. BET Owner, it's very corny) might actually be the sleeper team of the year. Even though they are quite young, the Bobcats is a team of high achievers on the collegiate level who actually played very competitively last season despite injuries. And the core of this team has actually been together for two years now. They could reasonably, barring injury, make a run into the 6-8 range of the playoffs.


They'll be worth watching simply because they're a playoff team and an Eastern Conference contender. But there are two things I'm really excited about: 1) the development of Luol Deng (who should be ready to have his breakout year), and 2) what happens if this team does NOT win a championship. They seem scared to make any moves now, because Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler improved so much after they left Chicago. The team's got a lot of talent, but if they fall before the Finals again, somethings got to be done.


I think this is the year... this is the year LeBron gets some help. There are so many stars and quality players in limbo on bad or rebuilding teams. Plus, there's no way the Cavs can march back to the Finals using that same team. The other Eastern teams improved far too much for that to happen. So Cleveland should be on the move--and if you saw how much better LeBron was this summer when he played with quality teammates, you should be as excited as I am.


Instead of trading older players and rebuilding, the Pistons actually made themselves stronger by keeping the older guys and bringing in high-quality support players. Rodney Stuckey looks like he'll be the 3rd guard Joe Dumars has been looking for to fully reinact his "Bad Boy" days. Along with his new Vinnie, he signed Amir Johnson to contract, who can serve as understudy to Rasheed & Dice. All this means is limited minutes for the older guys, and an added freshness and intensity in the later rounds of the playoffs. This team should be explosive--and much better to watch.


Okay... this is a tough one. I don't really think J O'Neal is a franchise player. I thought they should've kept James White last year... at LEAST for marketing purposes (slam dunk champ in '08!!!). And in their quest to remove the "thugs" from their team they seem to have traded every talented player they had...

So why watch them, you ask? I'll tell you why...

Darrell Armstrong.

That's all I'm gonna say.



If we could somehow get Kobe traded to this team (and get him, Shaq, Penny, and DWade on the same team), I would honestly move to Miami.

But yeah... I'm very interested to see how much of PENNY that "Penny" still is.

Or as one writer so eloquently put it... he's depreciated to more of a "Peso."


I wanna see Yi. There's really nothing else to care about in Milwaukee (which kind of explains why he didn't want to go there--and Charlie Bell was willing to forsake US Territory to get away).


After watching Jason Kidd on the USA Team, I'm a fan forever. J-Kidd for President. J-Kidd for MVP. J-Kidd for...well, all the things that we've thrown at Steve Nash over the last 3 years for doing half the things that J-Kidd's already accomplished. I love him so much, I actually would be willing to see him go to LA and help Kobe--just to see him get a shot at playing for a title.


Ok, thought about it... forget that last part.


Will Isiah still be the coach? Will there be a locker room shooting? Will Marbury lose the rest of his mind and start charging $120 for Starbury products? I can't even imagine what's in store for the Knicks, and I haven't even talked about basketball yet! This could be a playoff team! Knicks fans, I envy/pity you. If they win, it's gonna be an incredible season. If they


I'm already exhausted, so let's make these shorter: I want to see how many games into the season someone on the Magic looks at Rashard Lewis and finally realizes: "Did we REALLY pay this guy $14 million?" That move may have single-handedly destroyed Dwight Howard's chances of ever winning a ring... in Orlando. Run away, Dwight!


I love Iguodala's game. He's a star on the rise, in the same way Michael Redd & Tracy McGrady ascended into prominence after being apparently typecast as a role players. How good can he be? I know the Sixers are gonna stink, but he's got Most Improved Player potential.


Can a team built to dominate EuroBasket dominate in the NBA? The Raptors are fast, versatile, and a good shooting team. Even though their GM came from the Suns, they seem to be built after the Spurs model. They definitely have enough to be a quality team in the East. Plus I'm excited to see Chris Bosh ascend to star status.


Two hints as to why you should watch the Wizards:

1) He has the best blog you can find.


Western Conference



Golden State


LA Clippers

LA Lakers



New Orleans




San Antonio



A sneakerfreak's lament

Hi, my name is Steven and I am a confessed sneakerfreak. ("Hi Steven.") It started when I was younger and was captivated by both my older cousins and the exploits of Michael Jordan. It's gotta be the shoes! As I grew older and was able to buy all the retro's I wanted from when I was little, it became a complete sickness. I had to have the hottest colors in all of the exclusive releases. It wasn't until I sat down and started tabulating what was going on fiscally that I realized what I could be doing with the money I was spending and tapered off. Another big problem was that I refused to break the Sabbath to get these shoes, and anyone who is a sneaker addict knows that all of the Jordan's release on a Saturday. I love these shoes and I am happy that I am able to get them again, but it seems as if Nike and the big companies in general are out to do more then just fleece the consumers; they are out to exploit us to the point of bankruptcy. When you consider that the average retro costs less then $5 to produce and is sold at a insane markup to around $125-150, it really makes you stop and think what you are buying into. Is it really about the name on the shoe, or is the fact that it has become so embedded in pop culture that everyone wants them because they are a status symbol? At the same time as all of this capitalism, you rarely saw the big companies stepping forward when kids were getting robbed and killed over their sneakers. Part of the root of that problem was that Nike made all of the shoes relatively limited to spur hype and priced them at a point that the majority of kids in the hood were not able to afford without strain. This lead to crime to obtain them, and unfortunately, kids (and some adults) lost their lives over a pair of sneakers. I love these shoes, regardless of how the companies have exploited us, and will probably still continue to buy them....just at a heavy discount from hook ups...Lol....
I also would like to draw some positive attention to what the Knicks' Stephon Marbury is doing with his new line through Steve & Barrys. I have already bought a few pairs and I am in full support of a stylish and functional shoe at a great price. I also have completely bought into the clothing line that Starbury is putting out as well. Phenomenal. Check it out when you get the chance at your local mall.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Speaking of Hypocrisy...

What you are about to read is in really ironic. It was taken from It's been heavily edited, simply because I understood the author's premise, but I didn't embrace his unbalanced method of description.

vick_dogs1.gif[Innocent animals are brutally killed in this country every day]. In fact I found, in my short research on the subject, Vick would have probably fared better had he been involved with a Christian Dog Fighting Association.

No I’m not attempting to relive the crusades. What I’m saying is that since there’s such an association for Deer why not Dogs.

Don’t believe me?

Check out this evangelist organization called Christian Deer Hunters Association. The organization uses deer hunting as an opportunity for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with other hunters as they hunt deer.

The group provides speakers for various wild game feeds and other church related outreaches.

They even use bible scripture while on the hunt. You can get more by visiting

Meantime had brother Vick belonged to a Christian Dog Fighting group he would have been spared because then he would have been guilty of dog fighting for Christ. Who could argue with that!

Special thanks to the CDHA for being the most ironic example of the fruits of an unchecked, irresponsible majority. Whenever you're done watching the live footage of OJ's bail getting set--whether you're online, on CNN, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNNews, E!, or any other channel I didn't see after turning my TV off in disgust--and when everyone's blood is done boiling over Michael Vick's indiscretions, MAYBE we want to discuss how things like this tend to seep through the cracks of society. Killing animals in the name of Jesus... wow.

And if your argument is that these people are neither famous or important, then I agree, and I totally understand... instead, why don't we talk about Dick Cheney, our Vice President who actually hunts birds? And not just any old birds! They're birds that have been intentionally crippled so that the kill rate is higher!

Or do you want to keep hiding that story under that unimportant banter about how he shot an old man (who wasn't seriously injured) in the face?

No takers? Anybody? Alright... I'm done...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

So if....then (Late night vent posting by affiliation)...Thanks Jessup3....

"It just makes you wonder if you look in your closet whether you would find a zoot suit and a top hat."
Clifton Jessup III, after hearing about the Jena 6

Passing your anger and frustration to another person is an incredible thing. I was having a decent day until a call from my co-blogger and a view of the post right below mine. Thats all it took for me to start typing out a post at 12:15 A.M (On a school night!!) thats been in my head for a long long time, and has come to fruition after all this foolishness with OJ. Ready or not, here is my list of So if....then(s)

So If O.J was acquitted by a jury of peers and is still crucified and convicted daily, then can we still think that the Duke Lacrosse players raped that girl even though they were acquited?

So if O.J is still guilty, then why aren't we hearing about how Robert Blake should be in jail (or electrocuted) ?

So if Bill O'Reilly is fair and balanced, then why is everyone else's opinion not?

So is it safe to assume that if Peyton Manning had been fighting Roosters, then he would have experienced the same federal penalties?

So if everything is equal and balanced in the US, and public education is fine even in the inner city, then why are minority test scores lower then there white counterparts? It must be those immigrant genetics...

So if Jemelle Hill and Scoop Jackson always play the race card, then maybe ESPN should sign Jason Whitlock and have him as the establishment counter voice for all the "racist" stuff Scoop and Jemele say...

So if America is the greatest country in the world, then maybe 4 black high school kids should not get attempted murder for a school yard scuffle and blatantly hanging a noose in LA be viewed as a hate crime??

So if Hip Hop is the bane and root of all that is evil in American Society, then it really doesn't make much sense that Columbine, Va Tech, and every other school shooting of the past 20 years was directly linked to hard core rock, does it?

So if a black athlete is arrested for something, then why is it a given that it is guaranteed front page news and a possibly completely biased AP story will passed around the world about them? (See Alson, Rafer; AKA Skip to My Lou) Compare the AP story to the original NY Daily article that it took from.

Call it what you want

I can't even finish a blog posting.

It's become impossible to spend more than one day on a single thought. There's so much stupid stuff happening each day that I don't have time to even react to it all...

After every note-to-self I've written, every paragraph or page I've attempted to draft...

...every point I've attempted to make clearly and precisely...

...every emotion from anger and frustration to amusement and befuddlement...

...and now I sit here... and I'm tired.

I'm tired of crafting.

I'm tired of precision.

...I've gotta do this one the right way.

Marcus Garvey, I would believe in reincarnation if it brought you back right now.

Malcolm X, I would take a loaded shotgun's fury for you to be standing here today.

Integration, if we had known you to be such a backstabbing, confoundedly evil, mistress-of-a-dream, we would've stayed back at home with our slave master, Segregation. At least he united us, called us what he thought we were, and let us decide who we were to ourselves.

And the frustrating thing is... I don't feel any animosity towards any particular person! There's nothing more liberating than focused anger. Having a passionate angst against another person who you feel has done you wrong is almost a necessary portion of our carnal nature. But I don't even have the opportunity--the privilege--to feel that way.

And if you didn't figure it all out from the Marcus Garvey reference, and if you still were left blind after the Malcolm X reference... then let me make my point clearly...

...I will never use the phrase "White America" again, because in my sight, "White" and "America" are founded on two directly opposing convictions.

This is not hate speech... no, my friend, this is reality. I'm not saying that white people are evil. I'm saying that there are two opposing rules of thought WITHIN the white community. There are those who think "White," and there are those who think "American."

What do I think it means to think "American?" It is to have a global mindset. It is to know first, then to judge second, then to act last (you know, the opposite of our Administration's strategy in our occupation and infiltration of Iraq-- and soon Iran). It is to value people who think nothing like us and make progressive thought a group effort, not an activity exclusive to believers of one faith, race, or skin tone.

People who think "White" are those who are convinced that OJ Simpson should still be in the news, and that our goal should be to catch him and punish him for his alleged crime. They say that it's not about race or even about status, but about justice, that the news and the anger has followed this case longer than any not involving a murdered notary figure or president in this country's history.

This also tends to be the type of people who hate when race is brought up as a subtext of society, who say that black people are "playing the 'race card'" whenever they bring it up.

I'll address that lunacy later, but for now let me stay to the point. What is further ironic is that these are the SAME people who seem to somehow have forgotten that good 'ol Robert Blake, a former actor, like OJ, was also acquitted of murdering his wife even after a hit man testified that Blake attempted to pay HIM to kill her. After he got acquitted, just like OJ, he was wrung dry in a huge civil case in which the jury found him liable for the wrongful death of his wife and ordered him to pay $30 million... LIKE OJ. Could this case be any more similar? Yeah, that is until you get to the ending... according to Wikipedia, "White" thinkers don't seem to be too worried about this guy anymore:
Following filing for bankruptcy, Blake has gotten a job as a ranch hand. He has moved into a small apartment and hopes to return to acting. His young daughter, Rosie, has been adopted by his older daughter.
Now that we're on ironic discrepancies of "White" thought... let's talk about that "RACE CARD."

"Playing the race card" was already a dumb phrase, and now it's become an overused and misused phrase to go along with it.

I was in the car today and I heard some "White" thinking ESPN radio guy saying that "Donovan McNabb played the race card today." What Donovan actually said was that black quarterbacks have to deal with more criticism than white quarterbacks. It was a matter of opinion, and was never meant to be a divisive point, or even an excuse for his past failures.

So why does the media see it as a "race card?"

Because "White"-thinking people, by their nature, are majority-thinkers. They never have had a reason to think of how other people see things, so they've never questioned their own process of thought.

If they ever were to do that, they would discover that playing the race card has nothing to do with discussions of race. It has to do with using race as a pass, or as an escape from responsibility or threat.

I do feel that black people aren't always responsible in the way we handle issues of race. Because of our spotty history of race relations, no Americans should ever USE race for anything. Instead, race should only be DISCUSSED.

So when people say that Barry Bonds is only hated because he's black? I don't support them.

But when people say "Hey, Belichick's cheating... Bonds is cheating... why does America embrace one and loathe the other?" I sit down and I take part in that discussion. And MAYBE... just MAYBE... in taking part in that discussion we could reach an understanding of each other that could bring two divergent worlds of thought together.

The problem is, as long as "White" thinkers see the first point and the second point to be the same, race relations will be stunted and ready to boil over any time a situation arises involving persons from any other culture.

And for the record, African Americans are not all in line with this level of thought either. We tend to be as if not more judgmental and stereotyping than "White" thinkers when it comes to other races. We embrace that thought process in basically everything it believes--and then complain about how it portrays us. It is not at all my hypothesis that we need to think "Black." If we all were as "American" as we say we are-- just as Christians should be as "Christ-like" as we say we are--then involuntary prosperity would occur.

I just don't know about this country. Have you ever wondered how Romeo & Juliet would've been if they had never killed themselves, but instead had run away together, forcing their families into a non-consensual truce? I imagine it would create the tense racial situation that is the 21st Century American reality. We talked about unity while we were divided, but once we got together it was nothing more than a truce. And every time a "White" thinker and a "Black" thinker share their thoughts about race, and directly or indirectly about the other race, the so-called truce we are under is compromised.

Quite frankly, the Imuses can have THIS America. The Michael Richards can HAVE this America. The weekly persecutors of Jemele Hill's comments section can HAVE this America. The Barry Bonds haters who sympathize with the Patriot's Commander-in-Cheat can HAVE this America. And for the last time...ANYONE who still thinks OJ is newsworthy can not only HAVE this America...they can have it all to themselves.

'Cause whether I pull a Marcus or a Malcolm, my home won't be in walking distance from this embarrassment of a culture, where unity is partisan, the majority crushes the minority, and segregation can be looked back at as a hey-day for people of all races.

In this culture, I guess the only thing that's truly progressive... is ignorance.

Fantastic article about the great Dr. Andrews

I went to healthsouth's Huntsville Branch to get treatment for my broken foot in 2005. They truly are the world's best at dealing with sports injuries, especially Dr. Andrews. I was worked on by one of his peers, Dr. Tidwell. Great story.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A short look at Microfracture....A death sentence for an NBA career?

According to Wiki Research, Microfracture surgery "is an orthopedic surgical technique that can help restore knee cartilage by creating tiny fractures in the adjacent bones, causing new cartilage to develop. It can be used to treat both degenerative knee problems as well as cartilage injuries, and has gained a high profile in the sports world in recent years..The surgery is quick (taking around 30 minutes), minimally invasive, and has significantly shorter recovery times than an arthroplasty (knee replacement). Combined with a high rate of success, these factors have caused orthopedic surgeons to use the procedure with increasing frequency."

So why is it so devastating in some instances to an NBA player? Thousands of time per game, the average basketball player needs to make abrupt and sudden movements, to cut, to fake and go, to transition from offense to defense instantaneously off of a steal or long rebound. These movements directly tax the knee in particular, bearing the weight of the body for a very short period of time before the rest of the musculature compensates. Also, the knee gives a large percentage of the energy needed for explosive running and jumping movements, and if those facets were a large part of a players game, like Penny Hardaway, microfracture will almost completely rob them of their much needed mobility. Even the most successful microfracture NBA player I can think of, Amare Stoudemire, is still many degrees less explosive then he was prior to the injury. Here is the short list of NBA players who have suffered this injury (out of approximately 15):

Amare Stoudemire--status: Contributing Superstar
Jason Kidd--Contributing Superstar
Penny Hardaway--Fighting to get back in the league
Chris Webber--Shell of former self
Allan Houston--Out of the League
Jamal Mashburn--Out of the League
and now... Greg Oden---Unknown

So while statistically Greg Oden has the odds against him, chances are he will recover well enough to have a productive 10-12 year career in the league, and maybe win a rebounding title or two. So my prediction for him? Definitely not a death sentence, but horrible timing for a raw and untested rookie just coming into the league. I know he's REALLY glad the ink has dried on his endorsements and Portland Contract, huh? Of course, if they had just paid attention to a higher power,the Portland Trailblazers would have known to draft Durant instead. See picture below :).

Thursday, September 13, 2007

G-O is O-U-T

A sad bit of news today: Greg Oden out for the 07-08 season after microfracture knee surgery. For a guy with so much promise, he's faced an equal amount of pain.

I wish Greg Oden the best, and I hope he recovers.

But let's be honest. He's no Bill Russell. He's no Wilt. He's no Kareem. He's no Hakeem. He's no Shaq. NEVER has such a young, raw player--in the developmental stage of his career--been placed in such an adverse situation.

And honestly, if he had Kevin Durant's attitude and love for basketball, I would have higher hopes for his recovery. But he seems to be passive, injury prone, and not driven to be the great player like those great centers before him.

Fans and media have constantly failed to consider the MIKE CONLEY factor in all this. As Jason Kidd showed us in USA Basketball this summer, everyone looks good when you've got a great point guard, and I think Conley might have been underrated because expectations for Oden were so high.

I don't believe that Oden has more or nearly as much potential as Kevin Durant. He is the most complete player we've seen enter the league since Tim Duncan. He has a jumper that places him in the top 10 in the league from the start. He's got size, he's got heart, and he's got the green light thanks to the moves Seattle made this summer and the youth of his teammates. If this doesn't remind you of another young, College POY winner (as a freshman!), who went to a franchise that wasn't very successful-- a dynamic scorer who ended up becoming a complete player and 6-time champion-- then I don't know who possibly could.

But all the same... my prayers are with Greg Oden, not for his career, but that he doesn't get discouraged from this wall of adversity he faces.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Rise and Fall of the NBA Live Dynasty

How did this happen?? Twelve years ago a relatively small software start up company released, to little fanfare, a simulation basketball game featuring the endorsement of the NBA on the top consoles of the time, the Sega Genesis, and the Super Nintendo. That "little" game would go on to sell the most copies of any basketball game ever. NBA Live 95 was the first basketball game to have TV style presentation, on the fly playcalls, and real attention paid to effective defense. For me personally, the series really took off in NBA live 96. For the first time, custom teams and create a player options were added, allowing us to all create Michael Jordan. NBA Live 97 broke through on the Playstation and changed basketball forever, bringing polygons and never before seen graphics to televisions everywhere. The game for me peaked in NBA Live 2000. Defense and Offense were the most balanced out of all the games, and EA finally pulled enough money out of their pockets to get all of the NBA legends by decade, including MJ. From there, the series went downhill, plateauing for a bit with Live 2003. The last innovation seen with the series was the highlight stick, allowing instantaneous crossovers and defensive moves. The problems started to come when EA started to rush games to market without enough research, got in a rut with failures to come with anything new, and moved a large chunk of their award winning development team over to the newly formed EA sports BIG for the production of the NBA Street series. The straw that finally broke the camels back was when EA started to worry more about the graphics and how the games looked (Especially on the Next Gen systems). Sadly, EA lost the valuable market share it always commanded with the excellent releases from rival Sega Sports. While at first I was completely against the NBA 2k series and everything it represented, I have completely fallen for the game series. 2K took the EA Sports formula and completely updated it, worrying about game play and strategy over graphics. Look at the picture right here above us. See Tmac? See that game cover? Ever played it on the PS3? Didn't think so. In an unprecedented move, Sony, citing how badly reviewed Live 2007 was coming out of the gate, completely canceled the game for this year. For the first time since 94, there was no NBA Live game for PS3. I am planning on renting both to see how they are this year, but if you take a look at the video clips posted below this one, you can see the difference immediately. I honestly thought Clifton had spliced in real NBA Game video. Everything you see on that video is completely legit. EA and NBA Live has been a big part of my life, and their decline really saddens me (As I play 2k). I hope EA recovers, but as more and more people are stopping to buy the game based on name brand alone, 2K is going to become an even bigger juggernaut. Competition is good for the franchise, and here is hoping EA figures out some cool innovations "In the Game."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

NBA Live is Dead

My goodness... the next-gen basketball war is turning into a massacre.

NBA Live has made a bunch of trailers (20, to be exact) and hype on about its new features--Hot Spots, refined post moves, string-together dribbling, and what they call "Sizzle," or dynamic player interactions & movements.

Seems mildly impressive, and the game does look good. But my goodness-- all NBA 2K8 put out was 3 videos of its gameplay... and I'm sold. NO sports video game looks and moves quite as realistically as this...

Sadly enough...the only thing that's come out of EA in a while that I've got any respect for... is this picture. At least if their software fails, they have a fall-back in high priced desktop backgrounds.

Where were you?

On Sept. 11, 2001 I was sitting in my 1st period Pre-Cal class waiting to take a quiz when the completely unexpected occurred. After the shock wore off, We went through the day numb, moving from one class to another, watching the ever expanding coverage on CNN. It was crystal clear to all of us 18 year olds that our world was forever changed, and also that our children would grow up very differently then us. Has it been six years already? I still remember everything very clearly, and believe or not, something in me triggers whenever I see the numbers 9/11, be it on a digital clock or on TV. I think my perspective may be a little different then the average Alabamian seeing that I traveled so much ever since I was little and had been to NYC twice a year (at least) since I was born in '83. I have a very deep and visceral connection to that city, maybe more then any other city in the world next to Huntsville. With so many family members in New York, it was easy to get drawn into the nightmare that was finding the missing and realizing it was your uncle or aunt. THANKFULLY everyone was fine. As a little kid, we would always drive to New York. It didn't matter what time of day or night it was, my parents would wake me up for three things: Seeing the Statue of Liberty as we came off of the New Jersey Turnpike heading past the Liberty Science Museum, crossing over into New York in the Holland Tunnel, and seeing the Twin Towers. Even now as a 23 year old man, whenever I head up north, I still look for them. To me it seems like your best friend with his two front teeth knocked out. The New York skyline just isn't the same. I wanted to get other's first hand thoughts and impressions from that day, and those will be up shortly. Our country was forever changed, and I hope we all will stay strong and get through this.
Clifton Jessup: I walked into my first class on September 11th just after the second tower had been hit. I remember looking at my Geography teacher, Mr. Solomon, as he stared up towards the television in the corner. He was the type of teacher that was only serious when he was pissed off--otherwise he was always making some kind of corny joke or wise crack. Well I still remember the somber look on his face (and every face in the room) that day. We sat and watched the ABCNews account of the disaster, saw the two towers smoldering from the impact, and heard the reporters giving all sorts of indefinite reports. I shouldn't even call them reports, because they all just seemed to be rehashing the same questions over and over again. Who did this? How many people were in the towers? What happens next? At least with Pearl Harbor, there some understanding of who and why it happened, but with this, nobody had any answers. So for a bunch of uninformed high school students, it stirred up a great deal of fear and chaos. Because I was a senior in high school on September 11th, there were a lot of questions running through my head. Do we have any family/friends that could've been at the Towers today? Will there be an attack in Dallas? What does this mean for college? Is a war about to break out? Would they actually draft us to fight if there was? My mind was racing from thought to thought, but just like the reporters, I had no answers either. All I could do was pray and wait for more information. We actually had a chapel service to calm everybody down. Of course, our misguided principal saw it as an opportune time to prepare 150 students for the worst possible situation--bombs destroying cities, the president drafting us and our brothers and fathers into war, and the mangling and destruction of our present and future. Obviously, that was the last thing any of us needed to hear, and it led to a lot of crying and questioning and worrying for the rest of the day.
But most of all, I remember that day for what it meant to me spiritually. I have to say that, of all the days of my life, it was the one where my entire outlook on my own future was shaped. On September 11th, my priorities changed. I remembered the sudden destruction that Jesus said would come in a time where the world thought it was a time of "peace and safety." I realized that so much of what I saw as important on a daily basis was, on September 11th, insignificant. And I realized how weak my own faith was because I was so afraid of whatever would come of the 9/11 attacks, be it war, or even the end of the world. The sad thing is, when I look back on what has happened in the last 6 years, neither me or my country has fully acknowledged and responded to the lessons we learned from 9/11. We're still selling and distributing weapons to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other countries in the same way that we did in previous decades, empowering men like Bin Laden and Saddam to do what they've done. And though I've strayed from the sober mindset of Tuesday morning, I will forever remember the impact it had on that change-filled time in my life.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Jena 6

This post contributed by Theo Nicholson. Check out his blog at .

Jena 6. Those words evoke many feelings in blacks and whites. Petitions are being sent out to 'Free the Jena 6' and people are expressing shock over the levels of racism that still exist in the USA. Based on the controversial nature of this situation and the fact that my views differ from most of those in the mainstream has driven me to express my thoughts via this blog.Let's first understand that I am not denying the fact that racism still exists (although anyone who didn't realize this is in denial) nor that Jena, LA has a high level of racial tension and inequality. However, the presence of racism does NOT justify violent retaliation. I agree fully with the facts; the black students had to ASK to sit under a tree, whites students responded with a threatening action (hanging the nooses), racial tensions rose. Then there was an arson at the Jena High School. The DA also came to the high school to tell the black students (after protests) that he could 'end their lives with his pen'. A very threatening message from a public official (a highly egregious DA).Three black students had a loaded shotgun pulled on them by a white graduate of Jena and were charged with stealing a firearm (a clearly ridiculous charge) after they wrestled it from him to defend themselves and presented the firearm to police. At a predominately white party on a Friday night, a black student was struck in the face and beaten with beer bottles. One white participant was charged with a misdemeanor. The following Monday at school (even though teachers requested that school be postponed to allow racial tensions to settle) a white student teased the young man about the 'ass whipping' he had received and was punched in the face. Allegedly, six black students stomped and kicked the boy when he fell. This is where the charges of attempted second degree murder come into play and why most of us have received emails to 'Free the Jena 6' by signing a petition. I do not agree with the charges of conspiracy and attempted second degree murder, but I think that both the white kids and the black kids should be charged as adults (if you are over 16, I think that it is warranted in certain instances). I think that all should face aggravated battery charges (usually a felony) and be allowed to plead down to simple battery (misdemeanor in certain cases).I will admit the District Attorney's treatment of the 6 black students has been unfair and unjust, BUT in both instances crimes took place. Maybe instead of saying 'Free Jena 6', we should demand that the white students from the Friday night incident receive punishment for their actions as well.I think that the young black men are guilty of something (maybe not all 6, but a young man was beaten in similar manner to the Friday night beating) and because the justice system didn't severely punish the white kids doesn't mean that the black boys could beat the crap out of a white kid. Fighting racism with violence only helped to promote the views of the racist whites in Jena. And while the quality of the DA, police, and other government officials may be lacking (due to their inherent racism) the boys still beat another boy up and stomped on him. I think that it is a complex issue and signing petitions and sending me (or you) emails about it isn't going to change the fact that the boys committed a crime (allegedly). I feel for them due to the injustice of the situation, but there are consequences for all actions.With that said, I believe that there are larger issues involved here. The racism in Jena didn't just spring up out of midair. It is the product of (you guessed it) 400+ years of oppression. It is my opinion that we should focus on the fact that there are two Americas; black and white. Two justice systems, two sets of laws, etc. This isn't the first and will not be the last time that blacks are treated with different standards than whites. For that matter, white America has been using the legal system against other races since the inception of the legal system (Native Americans, Chinese, Latinos, and Japanese are some examples other than blacks). I am not saying that all white Americans or all minorities are inherently prejudice toward each other, but the country has a dark, bloody history of racism, prejudice, and oppression.And why isn't there just as much outrage for the Genarlow Wilson situation. He received consensual oral sex from a 15 year old girl at the age of 17 and was convicted of aggravated child molestation (his case is on appeal, though the law that put him away has been changed) and will have to register as a sex offender (he remains in jail serving a 10 YEAR sentence). Signing a petition to 'Free the Jena 6' is like being mad at FEMA (though the government's lack of initiative in strengthening the levies is also to blame) for the Katrina situation. Racial tension and inequality existed before FEMA f*&*%$ up and that is what should be addressed. Until we work on the larger issues and begin to have an open, honest discussion about the elephant in the room (RACISM) we will never move forward.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

For the last time....Kobe Bryant isn't better then MJ! (part 1)

It gets really old comparing Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, but lets try to look at it from 3 facets: statistically, physically, individual accolades, and overall team performance. Stats are probably easier to look at objectively, so we'll start with that.

Michael Jordan's first 9 seasons:

667 games:

32.3 Points per game
6.3 Rebounds per game
5.9 Assists per game
2.7 Steals per game
1.03 Blocks per game
84.6% FT (9x per game)
51.6% FG (24x per game)

And keep in mind this is factoring in the year he only played 18 games because of a broken foot. His stats were actually BETTER than this in the other 8 years.

Kobe Bryant's first 9 seasons:

627 games

22.4 Points per game
5.1 Rebounds per game
4.5 Assists per game
1.5 Steals per game
0.6 Blocks per game
83.1% FT (7x per game)
45.2% FG (17x per game)

And you people HONESTLY are trying to state that Kobe is as good as Jordan is, and could even end up greater?

Kobe would have to post averages better then 32 points a game for the next 11 seasons to tie Michael Jordan's career scoring title. In that final season, Kobe Bryant would turn 40.

There are Barrys... and then there are Tikis

ESPN's Mike & Mike have a "Just Shut Up" Award that they give out each Tuesday morning, but someone in Bristol should go ahead and tell them to call it a "Tiki," in early honor of a player who really had no current or historical relevance in his career--and blames it all on everyone else around him.

Yes, of course I'm talking about Tiki Barber. After spitting seeds at poor lil' Eli Manning a few weeks ago, apparently someone thought to give this guy a book deal, in which he blames New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin for his retirement, saying:

"If Tom Coughlin had not remained as head coach of the Giants, I might still be in a Giants uniform," Barber writes, according to the Daily News.

"[Coughlin] robbed me of what had been one of the most important things I had in my life, which was the joy I felt playing football," Barber wrote, according to the newspaper. "I had lost that. He had taken it away."

[sob, sob... wimper wimper] ...yes I added this, but you know it fits right in

Now the fact that Tom Coughlin is a tough coach to play for is exactly that--a fact. His demeanor and high demands of his players have produced lots of wins, in both Jacksonville and New York. But they also produce the angst that results in his eventual firing once the team has a bad season.

But it has become apparent that Tiki is hell-bent on being the biggest DIVA to ever transition out of professional sports. The fact is, the BEST years of his career (nearly half of his 10,000 career yards in only 3 seasons) came with Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning at the helm. When it was just he and Jesse Palmer, who was talking about Tiki? What team was he taking to the playoffs? And now that the two of them, despite their inabilities and character flaws, actually lifted the Giants to a level of pseudo prominence, Tiki has somehow gotten the idea that he was the show, and that their problems led to poor 'ol Tiki's early exit.

I don't know if you remember last season when his original reasons came out for retiring. He said that he wanted to leave the game with his health intact. At 31, he still had the physical strength and sturdiness to play with his kids, and to live a normal life, and he didn't see how he could retire any other way. I totally supported him on that point, and I actually thought it was a noble thing to do for his family--not having them care for him for the rest of his life like many ex-NFL players need. But now that he's coming out with this crap about Coughlin? It's tough to ever desire to hear him as an analyst if he doesn't tell the truth the first time, and if he is this petty and bitter, they won't keep him around for long.

My one bit of advice to Tiki would be this: GET OVER YOURSELF. Tiki, I know you wanted a Kobe Bryant career, where you could decide whether/when/where the coach or players around you could stay or go. Problem is, as a football player, you came nowhere near a Kobe level of talent. So instead, you spent an entire season telling your team you were going to quit, jumped straight from the field to the NBC analyst booth, and used your national platform to spout off at the guys YOU quit on...guys who probably are even more responsible for your success than you were for theirs.

So as we give Tiki the inaugural "Tiki" Award, let's also give him a Wikipedia page where he can take some notes on how to have some level of integrity in his post-NFL career.

Barry Sanders...played the same number of seasons as Tiki, but amassed 5,000 more yards...made this all happen behind one of the worst offensive lines of his time...never made a Super Bowl, but always gave a Super Bowl effort... his desire to celebrate his touchdowns with his team rather than by himself showed him to be the consummate professional, and a man of humility... and when he retired at age 30, his competitive nature unable to stand another losing season, he found no national stage, and he made no pot shots against his owner, coach, or teammates. Were we to give out a "Barry Sanders" Award, it would be bestowed on a person who possessed all the characteristics lacking in a person like Tiki Barber.

We've got to look deeper into these recurring themes in sport. The athlete who desires to win at all cost is often hazed in with the athlete who makes his millions and complains about how everyone else kept him from winning as he walks out the door. Quite simply, in this max-contract era of superstardom, there are gonna be some haves, and some have-nots when it comes to winning and achieving. If Tiki truly performed at his highest level, and was paid to do so (though he complains about that too...), then leave all the "What ifs?" to those who latter attempt to piece together his so-called legacy.

I just hope that at the end of February I'm not back here writing about comments Tiki said about Jerome Bettis and Bob Costas interrupting his train of thought and hampering his post-game analysis...

Monday, September 03, 2007

I STILL have hope!!

Ran into this vid on youtube. Although some of us have lost hope, (see, Jessup III, Clifton) I still believe. If there is a God in Heaven, let this not be a mirage...

For some silly reason, the owner of the vid wouldn't allow embedding so I suggest you open another window and view this wonderful sight...

Is He Really THAT Good?

After the NBA’s Summer League, thousands of interviews, and one awe-inspiring night of USA Basketball, Nate McMillan has to wonder if what he’s getting is as good as what he turned away

Coach Nate McMillan played for all 12 seasons of his NBA career for the Seattle Supersonics. During the last nine of those years, one of his more prominent teammates was the ever-thunderous Shawn Kemp. We can, from this, deduct two hypotheses:

1. Nate McMillan knows what superb talent looks like
2. Nate McMillan knows, from experience, what a fine line it is between the superstars that get to championships and the ones that WIN them

Assuming these two things (which we must, due to my lack of actual reporting credentials), I would imagine that the USA Blue vs. White Scrimmage on July 22 had to be at least a bit unnerving. Just a month after possibly the most glorious day in his franchise’s history, instead of watching his newest young prodigy amongst unparalleled competition for the USA team, he instead had a courtside view of the one that got away-- actually, the one he gave away.

Even if for only one game, Durant was a wonder. 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting, and 15 of those incredible points in a second half rally that saw he and Kobe Bryant rise above the competition. He connected on monstrous dunks, feathery three-pointers, and a spinning hook that left Shane Battier standing in his tracks. Five players took more shots than Durant, none shot a better percentage, and only TWO outscored him. Together he and Bryant overcame a late 10-point deficit to lead the Blue team to victory over McMillan’s White team.

It’s tough to even begin to wonder what could have gone through his head—especially with the number of things that could’ve been going through his head.

Will Oden have that same ability to win games for us in the clutch?

Will he EVER develop into as complete a player as Kevin Durant is RIGHT NOW?

Is Oden’s dominance more similar to champs like Duncan… or role-players like Tyson Chandler?

…and the most terrifying question:

Did we just pull a… Portland?


There has been a surprising lack of discussion as to the surety of Greg Oden’s success as an NBA player. The problem with many general managers, and the reason so many teams get into trouble in the draft each year, is that they tend to highlight and downplay draft history at their discretion.

Yes, history says that Shaq, Duncan, Olajuwon, and Jabbar each won multiple rings.

But it also says that Patrick Ewing didn’t get a ring, and that Michael Jordan got six.

So while it is plausible that, in fact “big men win championships,” we have still seen historically that ALL superstar big men don’t win them.

And one fact that’s even more certain than that? ALL projected superstar big men don’t become actual superstars.

Let’s see… how long should we make this list?
Joe Smith. Bryant Reeves. Raef Lafrentz. Stromile Swift. Desagana Diop. Michael Olowokandi. Tyson Chandler. Kwame Brown. Mike Sweetney. Darko Milicic. DARKO MILICIC.

All of these guys were specimen athletes (or Bryant Reeves), that either did or would have dominated the college basketball scene.

Now I don’t estimate for a second that Greg Oden is going to join The Kandi Man in the annals of basketball history as one of the WORST 1st picks of all time. But I do have a great amount of doubt as to whether a player with Oden’s presumed abilities should be selected over a player of Durant’s KNOWN abilities. Both of them are physically unprepared for the NBA, but only one of them is ready to contribute right now. Only one is a better shooter than 75% of current NBA players. Only one displays the versatility to be amongst the top-10 superstars in the game.

So to combat the Oden hype, ladies and gentlemen, I present you with the



What makes the hype surrounding Greg Oden any different from the hype about players such as Tyson Chandler & Kwame Brown? Had sports news been equally rambunctious back then, wouldn’t they have been touted to the same degree? For having the SAME, if not more skills?

In the information age of media, we all admittedly are part of a constant movement to declare things “THE Best” and “THE Worst” in an attempt to create a sort of historical context to whatever we see in sports. Ever noticed the number of random statistics you get in a single half-hour episode of SportsCenter? Most days pitching after rain delay? Most injuries to the same toe? These days, the media is trying to cover anything… and then cover it again at 10pm, to be re-telecast at 6am.

I’ve said all this to say… for the less-than-casual fan, don’t be in love with Greg Oden just because you hear his name so much. He is definitely not the media’s first love…and he assuredly won’t be its’ last.

Oden won games throughout his life because his size demanded a double team, which opened up things for his teammates. Plus, Ohio State had a number of quality players on the perimeter who could hit the open shot or slash to complement Oden’s post game. On defense, his disparity of length made it almost impossible for other players to go to the basket. He could swat shots long after they’d left a player’s hand, because he had a lot of recovery room between their height and his. So winning in high school and college was understandably easy for a player as big and talented as Greg Oden.

But on the next level, as an NBA player, he’ll need to be much more than just big to command a double team. He’ll have to be lethal. All but a few teams out west have a big man with size, talent, or both, so he’s got to be able to do a lot more than he was capable of in college. On offense, he’ll have to be aggressive, and on defense, he will have to keep his feet moving, because as much as his athleticism has been touted for a center prospect, there are enough strong power forwards out west to pose a challenge for him each night.

What champion NBA big man does his game best resemble? He doesn’t have Shaq’s size, Hakeem’s agility, or Duncan’s fundamentals. He doesn’t even have Ewing’s fadeaway!

He IS a shot blocker; that can’t be denied. But I’m interested to see how all that translates to a faster paced game with bigger bodies. We’ve seen a lot of talents that didn’t translate, so it’s not a given. I’d have to say his best case scenario would be ‘Ben Wallace with size…a bit more skill…and substantially less heart (let’s get into that next).’

Ben Wallace, of course, did become an NBA Champion, but only when paired up with Rasheed Wallace, a player who could do just about everything Ben couldn’t offensively. If Portland gets the right pieces around him, Oden will win… but can’t the same be said of Kevin Durant?

Before I sound like a basher, let me say I DO like the kid, and I hope he does well. BUT…
Have you heard this guy talk?!!! I am a fan of humility, but Oden’s brand sounds a little too much like timidity, sometimes even disinterest. Were he my height, he’s admitted that he would be in dental school instead! I think that one great similarity of the other champion centers (excluding Shaq’s desire to be involved with just about anything) is their desire for dominance, not just basketball. And when the game is on the line, that’s the kind of guy you need to have the ball, not a guy who “hopes” to win lots of rings.

Remember the ’07 Big Dance… when it was crunch time, it was RON LEWIS and MIKE CONLEY time—NOT Greg Oden time—for Ohio State (much, much more on that later).

Tim Duncan has posted 20-10 in all but one injury-riddled season of his NBA career.
Shaquille O’Neal posted career numbers in rebounding and shot-blocking during his rookie season.

How did other notable big men fare in Year 1?
• Hakeem Olajuwon—23 & 13.
• Patrick Ewing—20 & 9
• Alonzo Mourning—21 & 10
• Shawn Bradley…10 & 6

Yes, I put Shawn there for a reason. You can go all the way through basketball history and find very few exceptions to one key rule—BIG MEN DON’T BLOSSOM. Whatever they are when they arrive, is whatever they’ll be. The Kevin Garnetts, Yaos, and Dwight Howards are the obvious exception here, because even talented foreign & high school draft picks have to make adjustments to the NBA game. But players with any college experience have historically maintained a level of performance similar to that of their rookie season.

Now what do we expect from Oden this year? He won’t have a shot, or much of an offensive game. He’ll block a lot of shots, possibly grab 10 boards if he stays out of foul trouble. I would think that 13-11-4 would be about the best we could expect out of him. Now as he gets bigger, his rebounds could definitely round into the 14 or 15 range, but will his scoring improve substantially? I don’t expect that his blocked shots will extend into 5 or 6 per game (that would just be horrendous coaching on the other side), so can we say that he will max out at 19-15-4?

Now those numbers actually do look great, but remember, there are a lot of great numbers guys that DIDN’T get rings…

Karl Malone 29-11-2... no ring
Kevin Garnett 25-14-5-2… no ring
Charles Barkley 28-10-4ast… no ring
Shawn Bradley… okay, never again…

One thing he does have in his favor… he steps in as a Top-5 center in the league IMMEDIATELY. I can’t emphasize this enough. There’s very little doubt that he’ll be GOOD—Olowokandi even put up 13-9 one fateful season— but the question is, WILL HE BE KEVIN DURANT GREAT?

Last but not least, after reading pre- and post-draft scholars/experts/analysts discuss the potential and presence of Greg Oden, I've failed to hear ONE in this "s/e/a" panel point out this one glaring omission from the debate:

If Greg Oden & Mike Conley have played together since grade school… why does everyone assume it was ODEN that was responsible for those 800 victories?

People tend to forget that Conley led Ohio State to a 6-1 record in Oden’s absence at the beginning of the season. Sure, the starting schedule wasn’t very tough, but it really makes you wonder who was really the leader during all those winning seasons in Indiana.

As we’ve seen with Jason Kidd this summer… having a quality point guard makes everybody look like an all-star. That’s also why the Pistons signed 31-year-old Chauncey Billups to a long-term deal a year after letting Ben Wallace walk. That’s also why the Dallas Mavericks are complete idiots for letting Steve Nash walk away and signing Eric Dampier to a $70 million contract. Portland will be the most up-in-the-air point guard picture that Oden’s been a part of in over a decade. How will he respond?

This is just a possibility… but it IS a possibility: the NBA season may tell us that Mike Conley was vastly underrated… and Greg Oden was at least to some degree, overrated.


When it comes down to it, I’ve really got my foot in my own mouth at this point. I mean, there’s a chance that Oden could LeBron on us, come out as a 20-10-5 force from the start, and make this post as irrelevant and embarrassing as anything I’ve ever written. OR…he could come out and struggle, slowly establishing himself as a solid center prospect, but failing to seize the dominance that we've already seen Durant is capable of. If that does happen, I won’t be saying “I told you so.” That’s not my goal here. I’ll be too busy trying to work my fax machine to send this article to Paul Allen’s desk… this would HAVE to get me some kind of NBA job.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Downloading good for music??

Sigh...So I broke down and downloaded an advance copy of both Curtis and Graduation. I tried holding out until release day but the snippets I have heard have been to crazy to ignore, so I yielded to temptation. Burned both copies onto discs and then hopped in the car and just started driving. Kanye West's album is absolutely crazy. INSANE. From the opening track to the ending ode to Jay-z (big brother) with some mean soul sampling in between. Possible album of the year ish behind UGK's underground kings. Cool. Popped in Curtis and yawned my way through all the tracks except ayo technology and I get money. It's another 50 cent disc, he just did what he always does. Will it sell? Yeah, it'll go platinum within a week or two. Is it good music? Ehhh, that could be debated. The real point of this note is whether the internet and the abilithy to get music for free weeks in advance is in the big picture a good thing for hip hop and music. I'm sure sales have declined since burning a cd became an everyday thing, but I think it also gives the consumer a powerful tool if they don't want to pay 12 dollars and get garbage. They are now able to grab tracks and listen and see if they like them, and then go buy them. Of course, anyone thats into music has probably abused the privilege of downloading and has many more burned cds then the real thing. After hearing both albums, I'll still be buying kanye and burning a couple more copies of curtis. Still not a really big 50 fan, but he writes good hooks, so why not? Anyways, I want to hear what you all have to say. Would we better off without downloading and burning music? Thoughts on the upcoming 50 vs. Kanye album battle on 9/11?