Tag Archives: david stern

An Awkward Moment For David Stern

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That awkward moment when Chris Paul walks into training camp today in New Orleans when he was supposed to be a Laker yesterday.

That awkward moment when Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol walk past Mitch Kupxhak who just tried to trade them yesterday.

That awkward moment when Luis Scola and Kevin Martin walk into Houston’s locker room and try to act like everything’s normal when it’s not.

That awkward moment when Danny Ainge gets back on the phone trying to trade for Paul with Rajon Rondo walking into his office looking for apology that Ainge would trade him in the first place.

That awkward moment when Amar’e Stoudamire tries to act like he’s not getting traded when there was mention of his name in a possible trade for Paul.

That awkward moment when any free agent or trade prospect gets nervous when they hear the Cleveland Cavaliers as a destination knowing that they have to work for Dan Gilbert. You know the guy that dissed LeBron in comic sans script. He was one of the men behind the killing of Paul trade. More on that later.

That awkward moment when the Magic start getting nervous that they won’t get anything in return for Dwight Howard since they are about to lose him.

That awkward moment when reports of Dwight Howard going to the Nets surface and both the Magic and Nets wait for rejection letters from the commish…

Way to make things uncomfortable like an Egyptian heat wave David Stern.

His veto of the Chris Paul trade to the Los Angeles Lakers has turned a solution of three teams problems to a problem for thirty teams.

Here’s the scoop: the Hornets can’t keep Paul and they know it, they work out a with the Lakers to send him there and work in the Rockets as a third party. The Lakers get a point guard that they desperately need, the Rockets get an actual center in Pau Gasol, and The Hornets get Martin, Odom and Scola to make them a deep competitive team. It works out for all party’s especially the Hornets who look like the big winners…

Except it didn’t work out that way.

Reportedly several owners despised the trade and sent E-mails to Stern expressing their dissatisfaction. The ring leader was apparently Dan Gilbert who made the point that he thought the point of the lockout was so that players could bully GM’s into getting their way and so that superteams wouldn’t be formed, which would keep the competitive balance.

Truthfully Gilbert had a point. As a fan, a Knicks fan at that, I would like a more competitive balance around the league. If there are only 6 teams worth watching then what’s the point of watching.

However, if this were Gilbert years ago and he knew LeBron James was leaving (he did though his naivety got the best of him) Gilbert would’ve done the same thing. He would’ve traded James and got as much for him as he could. So why is it a problem to him that the Hornets are trying to get the best value possible for a fleeing star?

This is going to be an issue going forward for a handful of teams that need to move players that will leave in the future. The Magic come to mind first with the Dwight Howard issue.

Reportedly they are having heated talks to send him to the Nets. Will Stern veto that trade too? What about when the T-Wolves want to move Kevin Love, or when the Clippers or Warriors are trying to get Paul again? Will he veto those deals as well?

Stern just opened up Pandora’s box by not allowing the Paul deal to go through because he has to kill those other deals. If not then the Hornets, Lakers & Rockets will be hotter than the sun and they’ll have a right to be.

There should be a more fair and balanced league, but when a trade happens and it’s fair to the teams involved it should go through. Stern should’ve realized that, now he has a mess on his hands that could and will be bigger than the three teams involved.

If you think life is awkward for the players involved in this deal just wait and watch the next few weeks. The NBA had a wild offseason but the drama of the regular season might be even bigger.

And it all started with a no from David Stern. If he doesn’t fix this problem his next few headaches will be much worse.


Throwback Weekend: The Untimely Demise Of Agent Zero

What did I do?

note: this  was originally written on January, 6 2010 after the beginning of the Arenas conroversy

Stupidity. We all go through something in our lives where we lose our sense of reality and do something that our momma’s would surely slap us upside the head for. Example, when I worked at PF Changs as a bartender there was a point where I would make drinks for guests, not ring them in and pocket the money they gave me. One Saturday night I decided to take the money from guests and put it in my drawer and then take it out later to make it look legit on camera. Guess which night my manager decided to pull my drawer during my shift?

I was lucky enough to talk my way out of being fired, in part because my boss was easy to manipulate and really had no clue as to what was going on to begin with. However, some other acts of stupidity committed by the average person are not so easy to get out of… the Gilbert Arenas situation being one of them.

His act of stupidity is neither understandable nor forgivable. Bringing weapons, loaded or unloaded, to your place of work is the dumbest and most reckless thing you can do in any setting, especially in an environment that is considered a place for family entertainment. What Arenas did should come as no surprise to anyone that covers him because he is a genuinely unpredictable guy. Yet its puzzling because there are rules in place that strictly prohibit NBA-ers from doing this, and Arenas decided to be the guy to test the new rule.

His story seemed honest, if not peculiar, at first. Arenas told local media in Washington that he brought the guns from his house in Northern Virginia because he didn’t feel right about having weapons in his house with a newborn. Understandable, if not a silly due to the location where he brought them.

This probably wasn't the best idea no that he thinks about it.

Then, as most stories with carefully hidden information, the truth came to the light, and what a truth it was. Apparently Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittendon got into a fight over some money Crittendon was owed from a bet with Arenas (side note: why do most stories of violence, in fiction or non-fiction, occur over money? Also why is this so prominent in the black community? Cue Arsenio Hall, hmmm). It got so heated that both men pulled guns on each other in a show of frustration over the money. There also has been mentioning of a fight between both men on a flight back from a road game in December. With the recent bomb attempt on a Christmas day flight in Detroit it makes both men look even more stupid than previous assumptions. Not to mention a rumor that Arenas laid his guns on a chair for Crittendon to view as a warning, which made Crittendon show Arenas what he was working with.

What’s even more ridiculous in Arenas’ assertion that the guns were part of a joke that he was playing on Crittendon; apparently Javaris missed the funniness of it all.

Look I love Gilbert Arenas, the Agent Zero persona, his fearlessness in his approach with the ball in his hand, the fact that he yells HIBACHI every time he launches a three, and his overall easy going attitude and loveable personality. However, Arenas did something that cannot be easily forgiven, or forgotten with the current state of gun violence in black communities involving young black men. Arenas set a horrible precedent by bringing weapons into his place of work, then shrugging it off like it was nothing in front of the media. While I understand an athlete’s need to feel protected, with stories like the robbery of the New York Giants’ Steve Smith floating around, there needs to be a sense of accountability when it comes to these things and Arenas showed none.

So what should happen now? David Stern has to make an example out of Arenas. I’m talking year-end, go home and blog example. Stern should suspend Arenas for the rest of the regular season for reckless stupidity and ignorant behavior. If you give Ron Artest one year for cold-cocking a beer tossing fan, then you can give Arenas the same time for having the ability to do great bodily harm to someone for his ignorance. I give Stern tons of flack for doing things that I feel are racially motivated (dress code), and watering down the game with his continuing allowance of horrendous officiating (not saying that he fixes games… no I wouldn’t go there… swipe), but this is one time where Stern needs to get on his high horse and make an example out of someone who showed blatant disregard for a serious rule. Crittendon shouldn’t walk away scot-free though, a good 30 games off would settle him down nicely.

This wasn't the look Arenas, nor the Wizards, were hoping for when he signed that huge extension.

The damage this does to Arenas, and the Wizards for that matter, is bigger than just a few million dollars both sides would lose. Arenas ruins a pretty decent reputation he had around the league as being a fun-loving guy, and probably a few million dollars in Adidas endorsements. The Wizards are now totally handcuffed in any trade talks for Arenas because who wants a 27 year-old 2-guard with bad knees, a bad contract, and a penchant for James Bond antics? The Wizards are looking at a bleak next four years with Arenas’ Godzilla sized contract eating up salary and very few draft picks. Any hope they had at getting any good value for Arenas has been shot to hell (no pun intended).

The only winner in this story is Tiger Woods. Finally there is another athlete with a penchant for stupid behavior that will push his story to the background to be forgotten sooner than later (oops, here comes the new Vanity Fair magazine). For Arenas, he is added to the long line of black athletes who decided to become a renegade and show that they were bigger than their environment and above rules. Like Plaxico Burress, Mike Vick and others he failed, miserably. He now will fall from the top of list of NBA elite players and find himself fighting hard to gain back the respect he lost for being stupid. Congrats Gilbert, welcome to the club.


The Notorious B.I.G.’s Legacy In Sports

Biggie Smalls was iller than you could've imagined.

If I wasn’t in the rap game

I’d probably have a key knee deep in the crack game

Because the streets is a short stop

Either you’re slingin crack rock or you got a wicked jumpshot

The Notorious B.I.G. died 14 years ago in a haze of bullets in downtown Los Angeles at the height of the media created East/ West coast hip-hop beef between himself and Tupac Shakur.

Before his death Biggie Smalls (one alias of his) left a legacy that still looms large in two fields of entertainment today, music and sports.

There’s long been the assertion that most rappers want to be athletes and vice versa. The link between rap and sports is connected by the fact that both genres share similarities in the fact that A, most of the well-known and popular rappers and athletes are African-American and B, that they shared similar upbringings before hitting the big time.

Allen Iverson, Michael Vick, Young Jeezy, Method Man, Baron Davis, Game, Nelly, Larry Hughes… the list goes on and on. Before all of these men started gaining million dollar income from albums and the field of play their families struggled in low income housing areas that were more havens for heathens the pop culture figures.

Michael Vick is one of the many popular athletes that have many similarities to Biggie and other rappers upbringings.

They all dreamed about getting out and making it big, you know “Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, when I was dead broke, man I couldn’t picture this 50 inch screen, money green leather sofa Got two rides, a limousine with a chauffeur.” Along the way to those successes they suffered the same type of ills and problems, lack of family structure (no father), living in the slums, feeling like they would never get out, then when they finally did no one understood them and always categorized them.

In a sense rappers and athletes are like kindred spirits. They’re the only ones that truly get each other. Its become a rarity these to not see a rapper shout out an athlete in song or the two aligning themselves to form some sort of bond whether its strictly business or an actual alliance amongst friends.

Think back to video footage of Edgerrin James and Trick Daddy hanging together in Miami on MTV, or the Jay-Z and LeBron James friendship or even Biggie himself with Shaquille O’Neal. The two genres of individuals have a level of comfort in one another that media, business moguls or other outsiders will never have.

Biggie more than any rapper brought this relationship to life. His lyrics personified each level of life that young black men from the ghetto were living in whether poor or when they got rich.

The lyric from the beginning of the article is from the first song off of his classic debut album Ready To Die and the song is titled “Things Done Changed.” It is a two bar description of what has become the do or die options of young black men from the ghettos of America in the last three decades, either ball on the court or stand on the block.

Ask Santonio Holmes who admitted to doing just that before he starred as a receiver at Ohio State University. Ask rapper Game born Jayceon Taylor) who said his life became consumed by drug dealing after a basketball scholarship to Washington State fell through (though Wazzu denies that claim.). For most people staring out of there project windows this was how we saw life fame on TV or in the crack game.

He also expressed the aggravation that we have felt as kids left without fathers (“Pop Duke left Mom Duke, The f***** took the back way.”). Athletes from James, Shaq, Prince Fielder and others didn’t have their biological father in their lives growing up to watch them become the athletes they are.

And of course “Mo Money, Mo Problems” has been the anthem for the last generation of young black men who discover success after a lifetime of hardship. Carmelo Anthony, Brandon Marshall and others have had run-ins with the law and have been under constant scrutiny due to their status of being young, rich black men in a professional market.

Think Carmelo doesnt know about Mo' Money Mo' Problems? Think again.

Biggie, as well as most rappers, resonates with athletes because he went through the same troubles as they have both in the slums and on top. He knew about life in the projects then going to the penthouse and all of the consequences that came with each move he made.

One of Biggie’s good friends was Shaquille O’Neal who grew up without his biological father in Newark, New Jersey and who was able to escape his environment to a better life of riches and fame in the NBA. Their bond came about thanks to a line on “Machine Gun Funk” off of Ready to Die. “I’m slammin’ niggas like Shaquille, s*** is real,” we’re Biggie’s words as he played himself and a criminal associate planning a caper.

That line started a relationship with Shaq that including a collaboration on Shaq’s third rap album Can’t Stop The Reign.

Shaq was like many athletes in the 90’s who tried to expand their name from the field to the microphone and be like their lyrical heroes and weave similar tales of their lifestyles. Cedric Ceballos, Deion Sanders, Chris Webber, Kobe Bryant and Iverson have all blessed the microphone in an effort to obtain a platinum plaque while emulating their favorite MC’s. While the results were mixed (mostly bad. That goes for you Roy Jones Jr. and Ron Artest.) the point was that due to their similar backgrounds athletes felt the need to pick up a microphone and show their skills, or lack of.

The same can be said for rappers trying to go pro. Master P gave it a go with tryout for the Raptors and Hornets and his son tried to ball on USC’s basketball team a few years ago.

Lets be thankful Allen Iverson's basketball career was longer than his rap career.

But more than anything the best way for both sides to come together is through the mutual respect of rappers shouting out their favorite ballers on record or the building of a relationship out of the studio and off of the field.

It’s always cool seeing Young Jeezy bring out LeBron at a concert or seeing David Ortiz snapping a flick with Dr. Dre because it’s out of respect for one another’s craft. Much like Biggie and Shaq, these friendship show the union of black men in similar scenarios coming together to show love and respect for one another. It’s an occurrence that is rarely seen in the actual environments where we once lived and serves as a teaching tool for kids in similar situations.

Beyond the relationship of athlete/rapper, Biggie showed all sides how to really live it up. Biggie’s visual displays of the spoils of his labor are what drove David Stern to adapt new rules as to how players dress when entering the NBA work environment.

When Biggie started rocking the Jesus piece, everyone followed. You still see the piece on the necks of James, Darnell Dockett and other athletes today. The Jesus piece is to black youth as the pinky ring was to the mob (though we still had to get a pinky ring thank you Henry Hill and Nicky Santoro.). When Biggie started sippin Cristal champagne, we all had to have it.

Biggie showed us the spoils of being young, black and famous. He pretty much bankrolled the designer Coogi and made Versace silk button ups a steady fashion accessory in hip-hop culture. Look at old photos of Jonathan Bender or JaMarcus Russell in one of those cable knitted multi-colored sweaters or think of the countless athletes in those free flowing shirts with some Versace glasses to match. How many dudes had to get something that resembled a Rolex after Big had one? I can’t afford one but I always have to have a nice looking watch on my arm

He was a trendsetter. Hell, his trends have lasted almost 20 years since he first jumped on the scene and are still seen in the NFL, NBA and MLB.

That’s why he lives on long past his death 14 years ago and through two or three different generations.

These two understand each other better than any of us ever will.

This morning on Twitter I saw Michael J. Smith, Chad Ochocinco, Jemele Hill and a bunch of my buddies in college posting random Biggie quotes from all of his songs. That’s a range of people from ages 20-40. When Biggie dies some of them were 6, I wasn’t in high school yet, others were starting their professional careers, yet we all know his lyrics word for word.

It’s funny that this year Biggie’s death anniversary fell on Ash Wednesday for me. It’s the beginning of Lent where we sacrifice something we love for a greater good and we mourn and repent for our sins. I mourned Biggie by listening to his entire catalog while fasting and posting a bunch of my favorite lyrics along the way. People would dispute that Biggie was nothing like Jesus and might’ve been a bigger heathen than most fallen martyr’s in entertainment.

But I’m from Brooklyn, New York. I knew of what Biggie spoke of. I knew people like Arizona Ron, Dark Skinned Jermaine and Sing from the 15th floor. I know about the dangers of life in those areas and what happens when you’re black and stumble upon some success in the real world. Everything with Biggie resonates with me from waking up “f***** up, pockets broke as hell,” to “talk s*** and get you neck slit quick,” to wanting a garage like cee-lo “4’s, 5’s and 6’s.”

Biggie was the good and bad in all of us where we are from. He was a great talent in a bad neighborhood with big aspirations and not enough people to understand. Like myself, Allen Iverson, Dez Bryant and others he didn’t care. His goal was make it, be great, look good and have fun doing it.

We all followed Biggie’s lead even to this day. We’ve forged similar relationship like he had with Shaq and that respect is still there.

I wish Big was here to see his influence, to see how many rappers follow his rhyme style, to see how many ballers follow his dress code and ways to live it up and to see how many people still spit his lyrics.

Biggie was influential in Hip-Hop’s uprising as well as the urban black athlete from his inception to way past his death. He made athletes aware of their surroundings and how similar they were in our upbringing. As we mourn/celebrate his legacy today I know that there other ways to make it out of the ghetto other than shooting hoops or selling crack. However, for the case of our generation, and for young black athletes, he let us know it was there and that not many of us were different from each other in who we were.

People like Iverson, Shaq, Randy Moss and others now knew someone understood them and that they could confide in people who had the same aspirations and goals as them. We should be thankful of Biggie for that. At least I am.