Thursday, January 31, 2008

LOL..ran across this online..sneakerheads will heartily agree...

random quotes and facts found online leading up to the NBA dunk contest.

From Wikipedia:
"At the University of Kansas, Wilt Chamberlain was able to dunk from the free throw line while starting his movement from within the free throw circle; this led to a rule change prohibiting shooting free throws by dunking the basketball.[4] (WHAT?!)

Notable dunks

  • The first free throw line dunk in an official slam dunk competition by Julius Erving (1976 ABA Dunk Contest).
  • The free throw line double clutch jam by Michael Jordan (1988 NBA Dunk Contest).
  • The East Bay Funk Dunk by Isaiah "J.R." Rider (1994 NBA Dunk Contest).
  • Vince Carter's inverted 360 Windmill (which drove everybody off their seats) as well as the off the bounce, between the legs dunk and the tomahawk, which left Vince hanging on the rim with his elbow. (2000 NBA Dunk Contest). Later Carter would cite Sacramento California's Jameel Pugh as the source of these dunks.
  • The 2003 reverse between the legs and the 2004 off-the-backboard between the legs dunks by Jason Richardson.
  • The behind the back dunk by Patrick Ewing, Jr., done again by J.R. Smith (2003 Indiana Hoosiers Slam Dunk Contest, then 2005 NBA Slam Dunk Contest). The behind the back dunk was modified in the 2006 NBA Slam Dunk Contest by Andre Iguodala when he dunked it off an alley-oop.
  • Also in the 2005 NBA Contest, the dunks using a prop from Josh Smith and Amare Stoudemire (read below for more information).
  • The first "Rider"(Between the legs) dunk from the free throw line was completed by James "Flight" White.
  • In the 2006 NCAA Dunk Contest, James "Flight" White completed a windmill from the free throw line.
  • 2006 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, Nate Robinson jumps over Spud Webb and then dunks.
  • 2006 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, Andre Iguodala's alley-oop dunk from behind the backboard.
  • 2007 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, Dwight Howard's "Sticker Dunk." Howard had a sticker in his hand, stuck it at 12'6" on the backboard while dunking simultaneously off an alley-oop from teammate Jameer Nelson.
  • Dwight Howard's kiss the rim dunk
Notable Facts:
  • The Atlanta Hawks have had the most NBA slam dunk champions with a total of three players as slam dunk champions (Dominique Wilkins, Spud Webb, and Josh Smith.)
  • The showdown between Dominique Wilkins and eventual champion Michael Jordan in the 1988 NBA Slam Dunk Contest is widely considered to be the best slam dunk contest ever. Famous dunks during their epic showdown include Wilkins's off-the-glass, one-handed tomahawk, Jordan's reverse double pump, Wilkins's trademark windmill, and Jordan's immortal double-clutch, free throw line dunk.

  • Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Brent Barry are the only players to have won a NBA championship and a slam dunk championship. Jordan was the first (he won his slam dunk championship in 1987 and 1988 and won his NBA championships 1991-1993 and 1996-1998). Kobe won his Slam Dunk Championship in 1997 and his NBA championships in 2000-2002. Brent Barry won his slam dunk championship in 1996 and his NBA championships in 2005 and 2007.
  • Dominique Wilkins holds the record of participating in the most NBA slam dunk contests. He has participated in 5 slam dunk contests.
The 2006 NBA Slam Dunk Competition between Nate Robinson and Andre Iguodala was the first time ever that the competition had to go into a sudden-death dunk-off. [1] However, this contest drew many criticisms due to the fact that players were not penalized for missing a dunk attempt. Consequently, Robinson attempted a single dunk over 14 times before completing it.[2] Prior to the 2007 competition, the NBA changed a few rules to prevent excessive dunk attempts. Each participant has two minutes to complete their dunk. At the end of the two minutes allotted, they then have their number of dunk attempts limited to two.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Mystery of Lauryn Hill (from Rolling Stone)

Wonderful article I found in Rolling Stone, reprinted here from their website,

By Toure
In 1998, when Lauryn Hill was recording her debut solo album, she was on a mission. "She was aiming for big hits so she could outshine the Fugees and outshine Wyclef," says someone familiar with the sessions. Her 1996 album with the Fugees, The Score, had sold more than 17 million copies and made her rich and famous, but something was missing. After The Score, many perceived Wyclef Jean as the group's musical genius. Hill began plotting an album of her own that would change that. "Her solo career wasn't based on 'I wanna do an album,'" says Roots drummer Ahmir Thompson. "It was based on not being Wyclef's side girl."

Twelve million people bought The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and Hill was established as one of the great female MCs, a quadruple threat: a rapper as well as a world-class singer, songwriter and producer. She was critically acclaimed and extremely rich. In 1998 and '99, sources say, Hill grossed $40 million from royalties, advances, touring, merchandising and other revenues, and pocketed about $25 million of that. When Hill was thirteen years old, she already knew she would grow up to become an entertainer. In '98, Hill became an international superstar.

Hollywood beckoned her onto the A list. Sources say she was offered a role in Charlie's Angels, but she turned the part down, and Lucy Liu took the job. Hill met with Matt Damon about being in The Bourne Identity, with Brad Pitt about a part in The Mexican and with the Wachowski brothers about a role in the last two films in the Matrix trilogy. She turned down lots of work. "Lauryn wasn't trying to do anything," says Pras Michel of the Fugees, almost lamenting. But she did begin developing a biography of Bob Marley in which she was to play his wife, Rita; started producing a romantic-comedy film set in the world of soul food called Sauce, in which she was to star; and accepted a prize part in the adaptation of Toni Morrison's Beloved but had to drop out because she got pregnant. The doors were open for Hill to create a multimedia entertainment empire of the sort that J. Lo, Janet and Madonna have built. Hill could have been J. Lo with political substance. Someone who once worked with Hill says with regret, "She woulda been bigger than J. Lo." Instead, she disappeared.

"I think Lauryn grew to despise who Lauryn Hill was," a friend says. "Not that she despised herself as a human being, but she despised the manufactured international-superstar magazine cover girl who wasn't able to go out of the house looking a little tattered on a given day. Because Lauryn is such a perfectionist, she always sought to give the fans what they wanted, so a simple run to the grocery store had to have the right heels and jeans. Artists are a lot more calculating than the public sometimes knows. It don't happen by accident that the jeans fall the right way, the hat is cocked to the side just so. All of that stuff is thought about, and Lauryn put a lot of pressure on herself after all that success. And then one day she said, 'Fuck it.' "

In 2000, Hill became close with Brother Anthony, a shadowy spiritual adviser, then abruptly fired her management team and the people around her. In 2001, she recorded her MTV Unplugged 2.0. Few bought the album, but many talked about how she could be heard on the record breaking down in tears and saying, "I'm crazy and deranged. . . . I'm emotionally unstable," and repeatedly rejecting celebrity and the illusions that make it possible. "I used to get dressed for y'all; I don't do that anymore," she said on the album. "I used to be a performer, and I really don't consider myself a performer anymore. . . . I had created this public persona, this public illusion, and it held me hostage. I couldn't be a real person, because you're too afraid of what your public will say. At that point, I had to do some dying."

Her honesty was both touching and confusing. She was rejecting so much of what she'd spent years being. The only thing that was clear was that she was suffering. "Artists do fall apart," a record executive says. "The most commonly held falsity in the game is that they have it all together. They fall apart. Look at Mariah, Whitney, Michael, all the great ones. They all have a moment where you go, 'Are they really all there?' And I think Lauryn chose to expose that to the world."

Until recently, the twenty-eight-year-old Hill lived in a high-end hotel in Miami with Rohan Marley, the man she called her husband, and her four children. Her fourth child was born this past summer. Sources say that not long ago, Hill moved out of the hotel and that her relationship with Marley may be over.

She now insists on being called Ms. Hill, not Lauryn, and is working on a new album, albeit very slowly. "I heard from a friend that she don't really wanna do music right now," Pras says. "I heard from another friend that she wants to do a Fugees album."

So what caused the Lauryn Hill of Miseducation, viewed as regal and brilliant, to morph into the Lauryn Hill of Unplugged, seen as possibly unstable, and then into someone willfully absent from the public? Confidential conversations with more than twenty friends and industry figures and a lengthy interview with Pras have clarified much of what has happened during the five years since her zenith. "I don't think she's crazy," Pras says. "People tend to say that when they don't understand what someone's going through. Walk in her shoes, and see what would you do."

Hill was born in 1975 and raised in middle-class South Orange, New Jersey. By her teens, she was determined to have a career in entertainment. At thirteen, she sang on Showtime at the Apollo. The audience was rough on her, and after the show she cried. In 1998, her mother, Valerie Hill, told Rolling Stone about her post-Apollo talk with her young daughter. "I said . . . now, if every time they don't scream and holler you're gonna cry, then perhaps this isn't for you," Valerie recalled. "And she looked at me like I had taken leave of my senses. To her, the mere suggestion that this wasn't for her was crazy." At seventeen, Lauryn had a role on the daytime soap As the World Turns; two years later she appeared in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit and had a small role in Steven Soderbergh's King of the Hill. Meanwhile, she was also spending nights working on music with friends Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel. She was eighteen when the band's 1994 debut, Blunted on Reality, flopped, but, two years later, with The Score, the Fugees' cover of "Killing Me Softly" made her a star. She was sex-symbol beautiful, and her music and public persona seemed politically savvy and spiritually aware.

After the explosion of The Score, Jean began recording a solo album. Hill and Pras supported him emotionally and creatively. But when Hill started writing her own songs, Jean showed no interest. Pras says, "I remember when Pepsi wanted her for a commercial, and they were like, 'All we want is you. We don't need the other two cats.' She said, 'Without them I'm not doing it.' There's a lot of things she didn't do because of the group. Then when she goes to work on her [music] and she doesn't have the support, that can have an effect mentally. She felt -- this is based on conversations we had -- she felt there was no support on that angle. When you feel the ones you stuck your neck out for ain't doin' the same for you, it brings a certain animosity and bitterness."

Once, the three Fugees were close friends, but now Pras has little good to say about Jean. "He's the cancer of the [Fugees]," Pras says. "He's the cancer. You can quote me. He's the reason why it got wrecked to begin with, he's the reason why it's not fixed." Is he the reason for Hill's troubles? "Maybe, indirectly, she's where she's at because of him," Pras says. "Maybe. But not directly." Jean politely declined to be interviewed. "I'm somewhere else in my head," he says on the phone from his studio. "Certain things I don't talk about. I'm in another zone." He pauses. "I wish it didn't go down the way it went."

Hill responded to an e-mail request for an interview. "I am not available for free interviews at this time," she wrote. "The only interviews I will consider are those that amply compensate me for my time, energy and story." It was signed "Ms. Hill." She asks for money, friends say, because she feels she's been exploited by the media and the record industry. When Oneworld magazine contacted her about a cover story, she demanded $10,000.

People close to the fugees say there has always been competition between Jean and Hill. "Not competing for something in particular," says one. "It's more competing just who's better, who's greater." Hill's solo music was intended to settle the matter. When Jean finally came around and offered his production assistance on the record, she no longer wanted it. "She said [to Jean], 'I'm thinking about working with this producer and that producer,' " a friend says. "He said, 'Oh, no -- I'm producing your whole album.' She chewed on that for a minute and then said, 'Nah, I got my own vision.' That's when who Lauryn really is started to take form."

At the same time, Hill's love life began to get really complicated. For years she'd been clandestinely dating Jean. Their relationship started long before he married his current wife and continued afterward. But Pras says, "I think he was kinda, like, playing with her emotions."

But in the summer of '96, when the Fugees were on the Smoking Grooves Tour, she met Rohan Marley, who was on the tour with his brother Ziggy, both sons of Bob Marley. At first Hill was uninterested in Rohan -- a former University of Miami football player -- because she was still seeing Jean. "Honestly, she didn't even want the relationship," says a friend. "Everyone was pushing her towards [Marley] to get her out of the other thing. They pushed her towards him, like, 'Why don't you give him a chance, come on, go out on a date. Just do it,' not knowing that this man had all this other baggage and drama in his life."

Pras singled out Hill's first pregnancy as a turning point for the group. "When she got pregnant, definitely things started goin' on," he says. "Things got crazy." While Hill's stomach grew, the Fugee camp wondered whether the baby was Marley's or Jean's. Says a friend, "The conversation between everyone on the low was no one knew until that baby came out." The day Hill went into labor, Jean told a source he was flying to her side to see his new child. "People don't know how calculating she can be," a friend says. "Lauryn used Ro to pull herself out of the relationship with Clef, and she happened to get pregnant. She hoped that baby was Wyclef's, because it would've forced his hand. But it wasn't." Hill named her first child Zion Marley.

For years, Hill claimed that she was married to Rohan Marley, but at some point after Zion was born, Hill got another surprise: Someone told her Marley already had a wife. On March 18th, 1993, when he was a sophomore at the University of Miami, Marley married an eighteen-year-old woman from New Jersey in a ceremony in Miami. "The reason [Hill and Marley] aren't married is because Ro is already married," says a friend. Sources say Marley has two children from the marriage.

Hill decided to ignore it. "I think she was kinda like, 'Put it in the closet and don't even pay attention to it,' " says a friend. Rolling Stone could find no record of the dissolution of Marley's marriage, and even now it's unclear whether Hill and Marley were ever married in a conventional sense. "She has her own rules about life," another friend says. "According to her, she's married. Marriage to her is not a piece of paper, and it's not part of some civilization -- civil-lies-ation. If you say to her, 'You're not married,' she'll say, 'What, do I have to get a government official to tell me I'm married?' "

It was critical that on "Miseducation," Hill was credited as the sole auteur. "That was why she had to be seen as doing it all herself," says someone familiar with the sessions. "To show, 'I'm better than [Wyclef]. He's getting credit as the genius in the group. I'm the genius in the group.' "

But when musicians collaborate in the studio, it's often difficult to establish exactly who has written what. "It gets real gray in the studio," one artist says. At the time, people close to her suggested Hill needed documentation that would define everyone's role, but she was against the idea. "Lauryn said, 'We all love each other,' " a friend says. " 'This ain't about documents. This is blessed.' "

The album was released crediting Hill with having produced, written and arranged all the music except one track, and Hill was established as a self-contained musical genius. Then she was sued by four men who had worked on the record who alleged that she had claimed full credit for music that they'd been at least partly responsible for. Her label, Columbia, urged her to settle, but she wanted to fight. "She felt settling would've been an admission of guilt," says a friend. "She was very concerned about credit. It's what eluded her from the past success [with the Fugees]. She didn't wanna be just a pretty face and a pretty voice. She wanted people to know she knows what she's doing." But she had to go into depositions and discuss making her art with lawyers. "That fucked with her," another friend says.

Eventually, Hill settled the suit. A source says the four producers were paid $5 million. It wasn't nearly as painful financially as it was emotionally. A friend says, "That was the beginning of a chain effect that would turn everything a little crazy." She was far from the first recording artist to have a crisis of faith and career, but few have had such a crisis so publicly.

She was a working mother of two, who, according to many, was unhappy in her relationship. She felt pressure to look like a model every time she left the house. She had several members of her family working for her or being supported by her. "To have your whole family depend on you for their well-being, that can be a lot of pressure," says Ahmir Thompson. "I said, 'If I was in that situation, I would snap.' " And she felt betrayed by the musicians she'd thought of as family and thus was increasingly mistrustful of people in general. Friends say she wanted to get out but didn't know how. "It was tough for her to admit all that to someone," a friend says. "So I think she spoke to God, and maybe it wasn't God, but somebody showed up." Another friend says, "A person came in, and they divided and conquered. They destroyed this whole thing." Around this time, Hill met a religious figure named Brother Anthony, a tall black man in his forties. Within three months she was going to Bible study with him two or three times a week. A friend says Brother Anthony taught Hill that "she should be whoever she wants to be, because she doesn't owe her fans anything. God didn't create us to be beholden unto people and entertain them. God holds us to be the people that we want to be."

The two became inseparable, and Hill began starting many of her sentences with the words, "Brother Anthony says . . . " Shortly after recording Unplugged, Hill told MTV Online, "I met someone who has an understanding of the Bible like no one else I ever met in my life. I just sat at [his] feet and ingested pure Scripture for about a year." But Hill's friends found Brother Anthony bizarre. "His whole demeanor was real possessive, aggressive and crooked to me," a friend says. "You know how people are slick? He's a quick talker."

No one was certain what church he was from or what religion he belonged to. "I don't think he had a religion," a friend says. "I think he was more like, 'My interpretation of the Bible is the only interpretation of the Bible. I'm the only one on earth that knows the truth.' "

"Brother Anthony was definitely on some other shit," Pras says. "I had a tape of [his teachings]. That shit is ill. Fucked me up. I can't really explain it. It was some weird shit, man. It was some real cult shit. When I heard the tape, I couldn't believe that this dude was really serious. He was sayin', 'Give up all your money.' I don't know if that meant 'Give it to me' or whatever, but on the tape he said, 'Money doesn't mean anything.' "

Many believe Brother Anthony drove a wedge between Hill and the rest of the world. "It was like she was being brainwashed by this man," a friend says, "believing everything he was saying and tellin' her what to do." Another friend says, "I think he's just looking at a cash cow."

She recorded her MTV Unplugged 2.0 in July 2001 while she was pregnant with her third child, Joshua. In a rehearsal the day before, Hill ripped up her throat but refused to reschedule, and on the record her voice is raspy and ragged. She accompanied herself on guitar, the lone instrument on the album, which was courageous given that she hadn't been studying very long. But a veteran industry executive says, "Anyone with ears can hear there are only three chords being played on every song. I saw it with a roomful of professionals, and someone said, 'I feel like jumpin' out a window.'"

"A lesser artist, it would've never been released," an industry insider says. "A lesser artist would've been shot and thrown out the window." Unplugged sold just 470,000 records, a failure. Another industry insider says, "I'm sure Columbia lost money on it." In the past few years, Hill has been in Miami, where she's working on a new album. She's determined to get full credit this time. "A lot of different people have been called down there and had strange experiences," says an industry figure. Sources say the musicians are required to sign a waiver giving Hill sole writing credit for the tracks they work on. The sessions have gone slowly. A few people spoke of her flying in a gang of top-flight musicians, putting them up in a nice hotel and paying for their time. But for more than a week they sat around each day, expecting to play, then getting a call saying, "We'll start tomorrow." Eventually they all left without ever getting into the studio. While no one is clear what stage of completion the tracks are in, those who've heard the music describe it as thrilling. "What she's doing and where she's going with it, ain't nobody even touching her," says an industry insider. "Nobody's even thinking that way. In the sad state of music we're in, I feel deprived knowing that she's got some real flavor that she's holding back."

"She gonna sit down and record until she feels happy," a friend says. "Whoever can't wait, she don't care." Some sources say she's spent more than $2.5 million, and Columbia has cut off her recording budget. The label denies this and maintains that Hill's new album will be out next year.

"Plenty of artists spend $2 million," says an industry insider, "but she had to fly all these people around and she had to build a studio in her Miami apartment, because she couldn't drive half a mile to the studio. Columbia bent over backwards for her, in pure self-interest, and I think they still believe in her, but you can't abuse the system like that. You can't do that."

Several of Hill's friends and associates are clearly worried about her. "She's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," one says. "But not, like, two faces but, like, eight faces of that. You don't know who you're gonna get from one hour to the next. Not just one day to the next but one hour." Others recall Hill talking entirely in Bible-speak, "quoting Scripture, fanatically religious," one friend says. She sometimes answers business questions by saying things like, "We'll see what God has in store." A few tell a story in which Hill asked people to work with her on the new album, but when they asked how much they would be paid, she said, "Do it for God," meaning, do it for free, and God will reward you.

"I feel like she's lost," a friend says. "Something's not right. I just feel like she's sad and lonely and alone. I think she wants to cry out for help, but she has too much pride."

Others disagree. "Really, it's about restructuring her life and her lifestyle," an associate says. "I think maybe for a long time she thought she knew what she wanted. But, in reality, she didn't. She's gonna come through it, but she doesn't think anything's wrong with her. She used [Brother Anthony] to get rid of stuff in her life that she didn't wanna struggle with. She used him to her advantage, then she went too far, and she doesn't know how to come back. It'll be a process. It'll be a couple of years."

"She wants to do another album," a friend says. "Deep down, Lauryn is still Lauryn. She always wanted to be famous, she always wanted to sing, she always wanted to hear the applause. That's what she grew up to do. So to now not want it, that's not believable. She wants it the way Brother Anthony thinks it should be. His opinion is the only opinion that matters to her."

Many still have faith in her. "Sometimes people gotta find themselves, man," Pras says. "I don't believe that's crazy. People go through certain things, they gotta fight certain demons, and she's entitled to do that. Because her life isn't to please people. At the end of the day, Lauryn is not happy with herself. She's not gonna do some disc because she gotta make money for Sony. It just so happens that she's done something that captured a moment in people's lives. They want more of that, but she's not ready to give that."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A new twist to the NBA Dunk contest this year! excerpt from

For the first time, fans will have the final say deciding the winner of the Sprite Slam Dunk competition. Following the concluding round of dunks, fans will be able to cast their votes via SMS TXT message and at to determine this year’s winner. The dunker with the most fan votes will be named the winner of the Sprite Slam Dunk. A panel of judges will continue to play a key role by determining which two participants advance to the final round. During the final round, each judge’s vote will count the same as a fan vote.

Last year in Las Vegas, Green, then a member of the Boston Celtics, outlasted defending champion Nate Robinson of the New York Knicks for the Sprite Slam Dunk championship. Green tallied the three highest scores of the night, including a perfect score of 50 on his final dunk as he windmilled while hurdling an All-Star table.

Golden State’s Jason Richardson was the last player to win back-to-back Sprite Slam Dunk titles, capturing the 2002 and 2003 competitions. The only previous repeat Slam Dunk champion was Chicago’s Michael Jordan, who won the 1987 and 1988 contests.

The dunker with the lowest total score from the first round will compete first in the final round. Dunks then will alternate until each player has completed two. Time limit rules still apply. After the four finals dunks are completed, fan voting polls will open via SMS TXT message and at Each judge will then provide commentary on the dunkers and hold up a placard with his vote for the winner. The judge’s votes will be combined with the SMS TXT and votes to determine the champion.

As with all of this year's All-Star participants, Gay, Green, Howard and Moon will join over 2,500 members of the NBA Family for the NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service on Friday, Feb. 15. The volunteers will participate in a variety of service projects at 10 different sites throughout New Orleans.

The Sprite Slam Dunk is part of NBA All-Star 2008 , which also includes the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam; Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout; PlayStation® Skills Challenge; Haier Shooting Stars; NBA All-Star Jam Session presented by adidas; and the 57th NBA All-Star Game.

Sprite is the world’s leading lemon-lime soft drink and has been the official soft drink of the NBA since 1994.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

10 Things I hate....

1) race mongering
2)condescending right wingers
3)over the top and in your face left wingers
4) Madden 2008 for any next gen system (seriously, how stupid is it that if I am playing against someone in the same room, that they can see the exact play I am choosing to run?) This bugs me more then global warming.
6) Political commentators and "pundits"
7) Nike (this one is a love hate relationship)
8) People jumping to conclusions and stereotyping
9) Poorly run businesses
10) A certain Historically Black University's obvious inability to distinguish itself in the memorabilia market....

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A shotgun to the foot.....

I am a declared moderate who votes on issues and people, not partisan politics. With that out of the way to insure myself against partisan attacks, has anyone been keeping up with the craziness that is election year 2008? The democratic nomination is truly up for grabs, and the republican nomination is just as available for the taking. I listen to talk radio everyday, and the one thing I would like to ask Sean Hannity and Rush and all of the other conservative right leaning microphones would be if they realize that they are making it a HARDER election for their party? The conservative right would LOVE to face Hillary Clinton in the general election, she is to divisive and would make it an easy win for Republicans. She also has a record that can be picked apart and her family name carries a stigma with it that may very well rival the Bush name (At lease in some circles.) In essence what Talk radio and other conservative outlets are doing is helping give the democratic nomination to their worst nightmare: A well spoken, grassroots formed, well prepared Black man who will be able to hold his own and weather any debate storm any Republican candidate can think up. Think of the irony: using their near irrational hate of all things Bill and Hillary, the conservatives are cooking up an even bigger problem: A young, vibrant, well supported candidate who cannot be called on his short record and who represents a far reaching widely attractive democrat this nation has not seen since Dallas 1963 took the last one away. I'm going to sit back and watch this, but if things swing left with this general election, and Barack Hussein Obama wins the Black House, then the pundits on both sides of the aisle have no one to blame (or thank) but themselves.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Take a minute to help!!

I have a good friend and co-worker here in my lab named Anup who is undertaking the enormous task of running in the Boston Marathon as a supporter of the American Liver foundation. He needs sponsors to donate so that he can raise $3500.00 for research into development of better treatments & prevention methods related to diseases of the liver. He is a stand up guy and a good person, and I would love for you all to join me in helping him if you can. Any donation is acceptable, and you can go to his page at

Donations are also tax-deductible and completely secure. Take a minute and help someone out!

Thanks everyone!


A Series of Unfortunate Events (Part 2 of Infinity)

Let's make this a quick one...

White Golf Channel commentator Kelly Tilghman says--ON THE AIR--that the players on the PGA Tour should "lynch" Tiger Woods for his dominance in the sport, assumedly so their chances of victory would increase.

First of all, to address it as a black man...


That's probably one of the most ignorant things I've heard in my life. Seriously. This isn't a comedian that's being heckled during a performance, or a "shock jock" making fun of women he found unattractive (whose blackness, in my opinion, fueled his comments rather than initiated them). This is a Caucasian woman who we're somehow supposed to believe wasn't taught that the word LYNCH only has one context in American history, but somehow she used it PERFECTLY within that context. To me, whether she is racist or not is irrelevant. The words she spoke were inappropriately harsh for the conversation, and I would've been offended to hear them if she had been talking about Phil Mickelson.

Bottom line: first thing that came to my mind--Emmett Till. Black men died for centuries at the hands of white men at the word of white women. It's a painful past that no one wants to unearth. And lastly, concerning the word "lynch": I've never heard, read, or looked up a definition for the word "lynch." For me, and for most African Americans with even limited historical backgrounds, it has never been defined in words, but in images.


Which brings me to the ultimate question: what should be done?

When the Imus situation was coming to a close, with the networks ultimately deciding if he should be fired, what I heard from a number of discussions (of people both black and white) was that the firing of Imus would only make a regrettable situation MORE regrettable. It would force the hand of TV and radio stations in later situations, which would only create resentment. It would open up black comedians & personalities to reverse scrutiny that to this point they've been shielded from (no one's been taken down yet, but it's coming...). And most importantly, in my opinion, it would be a "story-of-the-week" that ultimately leads to no real improvement in race relations, how America views African Americans, or really... anything.

In the Golf Channel situation, we've had two responses: that of Tiger Woods, who has boosted black pride more than any other American in the last decade, and that of Al Sharpton, the pit bull of progress.

I LOVED Tiger's answer: "It's a NON-ISSUE." Now at first when all that flashed in my mind was Emmett Till, I was thinkin, "Tiger, what are you saying?!! How can you be so flippant about this?"

But then I realized, he's Tiger Woods. You think he's never been in a room full of old money, white wine and green jackets and heard something insensitive? Or heard something yelled at him from a faceless crowd of people? I'm thinking he's had to deal with this before. For goodness sake, his sport is all about focus and concentration. And upon realizing this I started thinking about what he said differently. What I hear now from his answer is "You think I didn't know that racism exists? Why waste my time with ignorance? I'm the best golfer in the world. And yes I'm black...but nobody's touching me."

And THAT answer, I support wholeheartedly.

Of course, Al Sharpton completely undermined Tiger's approach by demanding her firing, reviving his role as the "champion of the people"... even though we've never asked him to do anything...

If I could get into a conversation with Brother Sharpton, I would love to ask him one question: What is your plan for Black America? Do you have some sort of idea of where to go after this? Or is it your goal to sit around waiting for every white person in America to say something that gets them fired? Is that even progress anyway? Plus, if there is a problem with who/how stations are hiring, and if the hiring policy is what needs to be called into question, then why go after the individuals in each situation? Why not assemble a "portfolio" of the ignorance allowed by certain stations, and then bring the body of accusations to them with a request that can actually do something positive? Instead of moving CBS to any positive action that will help your community, you just made Imus change stations...?! Who did that impact for the better?

Let's face it--we live in a racially-charged, melting-pot society. The Bible says "A soft answer turneth away wrath," but we've got a bunch of ministers leading the black community to get retribution when they should be showing their people how to succeed in America, and showing America what our people have historically stood for. Instead, it's an eye-for-eye battle between extreme-black and ignorant-white society, leaving anyone of either race that is moderate to suffer the social and societal consequences of the gulf between the two cultures that remains from hundreds of years of slavery and segregation. If a word like lynch is still resurfacing in 2008, I'm not sure how much that gulf will ever be narrowed.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

5 Not-So-Obvious Truths from this NBA Season

1. Kevin Durant is gonna be a legendary scorer.
Thus far, Durant is 24th in the league in scoring at 20 ppg. While that doesn't seem overwhelming, consider these facts:

a. He, as a rookie, is facing double and triple teams--something no 19-year-old not named LeBron has experienced in this league.

b. While he
is only 24th in scoring, only 1 of the 23 players in front of him plays less minutes than his 33.1 minutes per game. He is actually 10th in points per-48 minutes with a 29.0 average. AS A ROOKIE.

c. When you watch Durant, a lot of times his (a) lack of teammates who can score and
(b) his willingness to take bad shots are what lead to his sometimes horrid shooting numbers. But as his teammates improve around him and develop chemistry, and as he better understands his own shot selection, his scoring will definitely develop. Assuming he only becomes a 45% shooter, he would still approach 30 points per game, and I believe he will perform beyond that.

2. Orlando had better enjoy the present, because the future's gonna be tough.
Dwight Howard is only going to improve in the next half-decade, but Rashard Lewis is proving to be a huge disappointment for the Magic, who assumed that he would become a superstar with the presence of a dominant big man (actually it is Hedo Turkoglu who has taken off with the development of Dwight Howard--do they now think HE is worth 20 million?). At 28 years old, he isn't going to have any drastic improvement as a player, so if the change of scenery and better surrounding teammates have had no effect so far, the Magic need to find some other players to surround Howard in pursuit of a championship. Problem is, all their money will be tied into Lewis for the next 6 years...

3. The New Orleans Hornets are 2 players away from a dynasty.
If you haven't seen a Hornets game this season, you haven't seen team basketball yet. The Hornets are every bit of a TEAM, and every player on the court contributes in the most stereotypical fashion; it's beautiful to watch. A 10-assist point guard. A shot-blocking, rebounding center. A sharpshooting forward. A 19-8 physical power forward. They have the pieces in place for an incredible team, maybe even this time next year.

But they are not without needs. The falloff after David West and Tyson Chandler is considerable, and they need a bench player who can come in and rebound and play smart. This probably should be a veteran player, since the starters are young and can play strong minutes at this point in
their careers. They also need a scorer off the bench, as Bobby Jackson has aged considerably since he arrived in New Orleans. Morris Peterson was a good addition as a shooter for this team, but they still need something more of a pure scorer to make the bench more capable. All in all, this is a team to be feared, and as the Houston's, Dallas's, and San Antonio's age, they will be amongst the next tier of dominant Western Conference performers. Chris Paul is a top 3 point guard in this league, and he is more than able to lead this team to a title in his career.

4. The Gay/Battier trade was a complete failure on Houston's end.
Okay, okay... this IS obvious now. But it should've been obvious last year. Instead of taking a talented player from a pedigreed university, they traded for a "Van Gundy guy" who had more than peaked as a 27-year-old, slightly-above-average defender.

My argument has remained the same since Gay was drafted and traded by the Rockets: even if he is a bust, couldn't Rudy Gay at least have MATCHED the paltry 10 points, 5 rebounds Battier had averaged in his 5 seasons? Wasn't that the MINIMUM Gay could do, considering his athleticism???

So they traded a player they considered unmotivated to be a star, thus motivating him after a reputable rookie season to ascent to star status on his team in just his second year. WOW. Thanks, Jeff. Good call.

The mistake that the Rockets have made since Yao arrived in 2001 has been their constant impatience and unwillingness to develop young players around him. They have brought all sorts of veterans in and out of the franchise, limiting its chemistry and ultimately w
asting what is now the prime of his career. Had they taken the first few seasons to develop youngsters, maybe kept Gay, and brought Yao along slowly instead of trying to win the difficult West while undermanned each season, they'd be much further along than they are with this current roster.

5. The Miami Heat are having a GREAT season.
Yes, I know they are 8-26...and I know that they've only doubled Minnesota's four wins this season...and I know Shaq is old... and I know Wade isn't fully recovered...and I know they have Ricky Davis starting with The Artist Formerly Known As White Chocolate. For all accounts, this season is DONE, and that's being generous. But always the cynic, I couldn't help but think how conveniently timed this downfall has come. I can't say it any more clearly than this: the Miami Heat are about to go through one of the quicker rebuilding seasons we've ever seen.

Let me explain my reasoning.

1. They're freakin 8-26! The Heat currently have the 2nd worst record in the league. If you're gonna suck, suck BAD, and suck EARLY! This year's draft features 4-5 players who could perform on an ELITE level in the NBA. The Heat have a great chance of adding one of the best 19-year-olds from this year's draft to help 26-year-old Dwyane Wade, which will definitely be a lethal combination. Beasley-Wade? Rose-Wade? Gordon-Wade? Mayo-Wade? They've got a lot of options, all of which allow them to leave Wade with a sidekick for the rest of his career. And by sucking so early in the season, they won't even have to tank at the end to stay among the worst and in high-pick contention.

2. Shaq is old...but not that old. He's not gonna be the most dominant player on the court ever again, but he is still a solid contributor, and with his huge paycheck the Heat will continue to look for contributions from Shaq. And as he's said himself, his minutes and numbers have gone down, but how many other centers in the league can get you 14 & 8 and shoot 59% in only 28 minutes?

3. OPTION 1: $-back guarantees--The Heat are currently $19 million under the cap, but they are looking to knock a load off of that total after this season. Jason Williams comes off the books with $9 million this season. Ricky Davis will take $7 million off. Earl Barron, Smush Parker, Chris Quinn, And Dorell Wright will take off an estimated $6.5 million combined. And the severity of Alonzo Mourning's injury almost guarantees that his $2.8 million will come off the books and not be renewed either. All together, that is close to $25.3 million dollars released, which puts them more than $6 million UNDER the cap! On top of that, only four contracts on the entire team span to even 3 years, two of them being keepers (Wade, Haslem) and two being stinkers (Shaq, Mark Blount). If this team can get under the cap with Shaq still on the team AND pick up a top-5 pick, they won't be pitied for much longer.

4. OPTION 2: Player-back choices--I didn't know what to call it, but salary dumping is a common occurrence in today's NBA, and the Heat are a prime target for teams looking to rebuild or dump talented players they can't afford. The contracts of Jason Williams ($9 million) and Ricky Davis ($6.8 million) can both be used to bring in talent from a team in need of financial
flexibility. I definitely think they should give the Knicks a call and see if they can snatch a few players from them, while their finances are so devastated. But basically the Heat have the option to either pursue free agents by getting under the cap, or taking on talented commodities by surrendering some of these valuable expiring contracts.

For these reasons, I no longer pity the Miami Heat. Actually, as a
Mavericks fan, I never did...(sigh)...