Tag Archives: michael jordan

Responding To Bob Costas

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After hearing Bob Costas during halftime of last nights Pittsburgh Steelers & Kansas City Chiefs matchup it’s quite clear that Costas does not have a clear grasp on what the NFL or sports in general is for that matter and that’s entertainment.

His browbeating of Stevie Johnson for his end zone celebration, which included a mocking of Plaxico Burress shooting himself in a NYC nightclub, was laughable and annoying.

Costas decided to give us a lecture on the elegance of the spiking of the football and led us into a few sentences of his own displeasure towards new school ways of celebration and self promotion.

The whole thing was dry, nit picky and even somewhat racist seeing as how every athlete highlighted in his montage was black.

A couple things for Costas; 1. This guy must really hate soccer if he hates celebrations. Matter of fact he must hate basketball as well especially when Dikembe Mutumbo would block shots and wave his finger like a mother would at her child for a bad act.

The point is that celebrations are a part of sport. Mockery of opponents happens after goals, touchdowns, big hits, fan chants and fight songs. Hey Costas, have you ever heard “Texas Fight?” The words go “Texas fight Texas fight, goodbye A&M,” a slight towards rival school Texas A&M sung every time they score a touchdown. How about those chants done by Duke fans? My personal favorite was “Sweat Gary Sweat” which made fun of Gary Williams perspiration issues. To call out athletes for mocking opponents after touchdowns is ludicrous because it’s in every aspect of sports culture on and off of the field from athletes to fans to marketing. Who has a Yankees T-shirt that read “Hey Pedro who’s your daddy?” Complete with a pacifier? Roger Clemens didn’t make that shirt Bob, the Yankees organization did.

Also if Costas feels the need to chastise self promotion then he really needs to do research and actually look at sports as a landscape.

Self promotion goes back to the days of Jack Johnson in boxing who reveled in the fact that he was a black man that had sex with white women and beat white boxers and let everyone know about it. Or how about the king of self promotion Muhammed Ali? Did Costas have Ali in mind during his little tirade?

Or just some food for thought how does Costas view Rex Ryan and his supreme braggadocio, or Al Davis and his leather suits and moniker “Just Win Baby!” Does Costas have an issue with the way Mark Cuban stays in the headlines for the Dallas Mavericks even though he’s never shot a basketball in his life?

If Costas has a beef with self promotion then he must have a problem with sports as a whole.

Personality and creativity are what makes sports a whole. Of course we love the games but we come for the little intricacies of the game. The things we’ve seen on TV that drew us in closer. Cardinals fans love baseball, the also love Ozzie Smith’s backflips, Bulls fans loved basketball, what drew them in closer was Michael Jordan’s tongue wag, there’s Jobs Chamberlain’s fist pump after 8th inning strikeouts, Jaromir Jagr’s military style salute after goals… things that athletes don’t necessarily need to do but do because it’s who they are. It’s a part of their character that we enjoy and emulate.

So if there’s no issue with those things then why is there an issue with touchdown celebrations? Stevie Johnson’s in particular.

Did he go to far by dropping to the ground which cost his team 15 yards? Yes. He knew the rules and shouldn’t have done that. But for Costas to say he cost his team 7 points is preposterous, especially when Chan Gailey decided to attempt an on side kick at his own 20 and give the Jets a short field to work with. Now that was the real stupidity. I guess Costas was too busy not paying attention to the game to realize that.

Lastly there’s the notion from Costas that players should be punished for their acts of creativity. Which is with me… As long as you fine Ryan for saying his team will win the Super Bowl and always falls short, you fine Jerry Richardson for saying his players shouldn’t get tattoos, you fine Jim Schwartz for mocking players on the field like he did Dez Bryant or any other self promoting figure in sports that isn’t just an athlete.

What Costas did last night was show how out of touch he is with the current state of sports and not just football. If you have a problem with self promotion and mocking opponents then you should just stop watching sports in general because it exists on every level.

It’s why Oregon and Maryland have eccentric uniforms, it’s why bands have lines in fight songs dissing their rivals, it’s why fans wear “Yankees Suck” tees. That’s just how sports works. Sometimes like Stevie Johnson we go to far, but it’s all for fun and intrigue.

So to Bob Costas, the next time you feel like attempting to mockery of someone or a culture, understand the landscape of what you’re speaking about. If you did then you would realize that it’s all over sports from football to hockey to soccer.

We all like to show off and rile up opponents, It’s how the game is and it won’t change.

(my last two cents on this is the following: I knew Costas was out of touch on this subject when on Twitter Rob Lowe was agreeing with him on the subject… Rob Lowe… Yep that’s when you had to sit back and laugh at it.

Also the biggest thing that Costas forgot was the guy and team Johnson made fun of.

The New York Jets are the biggest group of self-promoting players and coaches in the league that haven’t won anything. If any team deserved to be made fun of it’s them.

Finally he made fun of Plaxico Burress who shot himself in the leg with an illegal handgun at a nightclub when he was ruled out for a game two days later in Washington. So yeah, he kind if deserves to get made fun of for that.)


The Birthday Confessions Of A Sports Writer

Nothing will ever beat this game.

So I turned —- today (you’ll never get my age ever in life), and I’m currently nursing a hangover thanks to the normal heavy dosage of liquor consumption made possible by my friends (raspberry rum and soda and raspberry vodka and soda are two totally different entities, ugh).

This is hardly the condition I should be in to write a blog especially when there isn’t much to discuss right now.

However, in this silly mind of mine I decided to give you some of my sports confessions.

We as sports writers get our favoritism, views and beliefs in sports at a young age and two things happen; either you stick to your guns or you switch up sides.

I’m the latter of this. Truth is my New York sports bias is a recent thing. I used to…

Wait, let’s do this in a proper numerical style. I mean why give you a drawn out explanation then get into the confessions? I think we’ll do 24 facts, not my age but the number I wanted to wear if I ever got to play with Michael Jordan as a kid because 23 was sort of taken.

1. I hated New York sports teams growing up

Giants, hated them. Yankees, they sucked. Mets, them too. Knicks, yuck. Rangers… That’ll be number two.

My mom forged my sports life as a kid. I loved who she loved because she was a sports nut. She loved Joe Montana, Michael Jordan, and the Mets. All I knew was the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bulls, baseball cards and that NY sucked.

I actually cried when the 49ers lost to the Giants in 1991 when they were trying to three-peat. That seems so weird now especially now that I scream at Eli Manning every two seconds and own 8 giants jerseys.

This is how I got into hockey.

(my favorite sports moment is still Super Bowl 23. Me and my mom watched that game on the couch together with me curled up underneath her. As Montana led the 49ers up the field on that last late fourth quarter drive my mom and I slowly pulled away from each other and moved closer to the TV until Montana hit John Taylor for the winning score. You should’ve seen us scream and parade around our house like we had won the Super Bowl. That will never be beat.)

2. I used to hate hockey.

I mean I’m black and from the projects in Brooklyn, NY. My mom hated hockey and so did I. She always thought it was a dumb sport and there were no black players so there was no point for it. Since I followed her lead with everything (except the mets, I wasn’t that dumb) I followed that philosophy.

Then the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup and I watched it all. That hooked me.

I was in Washington D.C. when it happened but I felt the energy of New York. I learned about the 54 year curse, how much of a hockey city New York actually is and how truly bad ass Mark Messier truly was.

After that run you couldn’t pull me away from a hockey game. Even when the New Jersey Devils killed hockey in the late 90’s I was still into it heavy.

(I guess you could say the Rangers made me a New York fan. After that run in 94 I felt that I had to like all New York teams because how could I like teams from other cities when I was a true New Yorker?)

3. I was a Michigan fan growing up. (Florida State too.)

In New York there was no college team team in the area that drew attention. Every Saturday the TV selections were Notre Dame, Florida State on ESPN and the Big Ten on ABC with Michigan on every single week.

Truth is I always wanted to go to Michigan. I loved the colors, the fight song, Brian Griese, Elvis Grbac, Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson… And the fab five… And Glen Rice’s performance against Seton Hall in 1989….

I still have more great Michigan memories than Ohio State memories… AND I WENT TO OHIO STATE!!!

I could point out moments in great games like the Rose Bowl in 1997 versus Washington State, I cried when Kordell Stewart’s hail Mary beat Michigan in the Big House, I was so happy when we got revenge in Boulder some years later…

I should probably stop there before all of my Ohio State buddies kill me.

4. I never truly liked Tiger Woods

HELLLLOOOO HEISMAN!

There was always something off about him to me. He was too pristine, too clean. Me being from the projects I felt as though with black men there had to be some nasty streak in you somewhere. Jordan had one, Michael Irvin too, Jerry Rice was a prick at times but Tiger was too perfect.

I didn’t like how he always won and how everyone jumped on his bandwagon. I didn’t like how black people crowned him as our king of the moment when he didn’t seem interested in being black (whatever that means) I just never liked him.

When this scandal tore him down I laughed at him, but it didn’t bother me too much. It was just another athlete taking a nose dive. I don’t feel bad for him, I don’t care that he’s not playing well and honestly I dont care if he ever does again.

5. Maryland made me love Duke

I used to be the biggest Duke hater alive… They beat UNLV when I loved Larry Johnson, they prevented the Fab Five from winning a title, The Laettner shot that beat Kentucky made me want to stab myself… and I couldn’t believe that this many white guys were good at basketball and that they kept beating brothers.

(side note 2: for Grant Hill and coach K to criticize Jalen Rose for saying that Hill was an Uncle Tom because he played at Duke was silly. Everyone in the projects felt like that. We liked Kenny Anderson, baggy shorts and baldies. Hill and any other Dukie was a sellout to us. How could they play with all of these white boys and not there own people? Do I think like that now? Of course not. I understand what coaching can do and that you can ball no matter the color. But still you can’t criticize a guy for saying something that the majority of people like him felt was true.)

Then I moved to Maryland where they hate anything New York; Yankees, Jets, Metrostars it didn’t matter. I didn’t understand the hatred because one, New York wasn’t their rival in anything and two, because it didn’t make sense. It got to the point where I kept hearing Yankees this, Giants that, blah blah blah that I got angry and said that I would hate the Terrapins just out if spite.

And who do Terps fans hate more than anything?… Duke.

So there I was cheering for Duke, the team I always hated but because I wanted to piss Marylanders off I was forcing myself to like.

That’s when I fell in love with Jay Williams, Shane Battier and Carlos Boozer and they had me hooked.

It was Williams especially because he was a Jersey kid and I always liked guys from my neck of the woods. I loved his game, fearlessness and how he ate the Terps for lunch. His ten points in 58 seconds still makes me laugh.

Watching Maryland fans whine and cry more than made up for the Yankees not winning a World Series for ten years.

6. I didn’t care that Brett Hull’s skate was in the crease.

The skate had nothing to do with the goal. Get over it Buffalo.

Dumbest… Rule… Ever!!! So many goals were disallowed because of that dumb rule that never should have been made because half of the time the skates never interfered with the goalie.

Did Hull affect Hasek’s angle? No. Did Hull interfere with Hasek? No. Did he skate in late and come up on the side if Hasek an nothing to do with the goal? Yes.

Ok then. Sorry Buffalo deal with it.

7. My least favorite sports moment as a kid was watching my Oakland A’s get swept by the Cincinnati Reds.

How did Eck, Dave Stewart, Rickey Henderson and my favorite player Mark McGwire not only lose but look awful against the Reds? Was Jose Rijo that good? How about Chris Sabo and Eric Davis? That was the first time in my life where I went to school the next day after a game and couldn’t stop thinking how in the hell that just happened.

The A’s were so much better, they had the pitching, the hitting and the power and they lost to The Nasty Boys?

I need a juice box.

8. Syracuse-Georgetown is the best basketball rivalry in college basketball

John Thompson, Jim Boeheim, Billy Owens, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Sherman Douglas, technical fouls, physical basketball, a loud Carrier Dome and an even louder Capital Center… God I love the Big East.

9. I will always hate Texas A&M football

Why? Because they screwed Michael Bishop out of everything.

A title, a Heisman, and a pro career.

I only watched Kansas State because of Bishop and his speed, arm and instinct. I couldn’t name another Wildcat from that team but I just loved Bishop.

I didn’t care that he was six feet tall or needed some fine tuning. I just knew that once K-State got to the National Championship all the world would see his skill…

And Sirr Parker killed that.

I’m glad the SEC said no to you.

10. I really don’t care who did steroids in baseball

It was legal and it brought the game back.

Where would baseball be if Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa didn’t have their home run chase?

Steroids or not that was a magical summer where everyone sat in front if the television and their lives hinged on every at bat. It was awesome; McGwire found the fountain of youth, Sosa emerged as a superstar and the game was popular again.

As much as everyone hides it we love baseball. We all played it, watched it live and have fun at the yard whenever go. The game was suffering well after the strike of 1994 it needed a boost and this was it.

Yeah he did steroids... he also saved baseball.

Did the use get out of control? Yes, but to me it was worth it and I’ll always remember the summer of 1998 as the summer that baseball truly came back.

11. Steffi Graf is my least favorite athlete ever.

She beat Monica Seles who was my favorite women’s player at the time, she beat Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, she won seemingly every tournament she played and won with ease.

She wasn’t snooty, had no mean strike, no off the court issues… nothing.

She was just a machine, a well-oiled wrecking ball that made Saturday’s at Roland Garros and Wimbledon no fun to watch because you knew she was going to win.

She was the Bulls before the Jordan, golf before Tiger and Yankees before their rise…

And she was a total class act. That’s why I hated her I guess.

12. The only reason why I hate The Pittsburgh Steelers is Super Bowl 40

The Seahawks played against 17 men at a time, the Steelers and the refs. Quite honestly the worst called game ever and the Steelers acted like nothing happened. I still want Mike Holmgren to body slam Bill Cowher.

13. If Ohio State plays Syracuse in anything… I’m cheering for Syracuse

Buckeye Nation is really going to kill me.

Now I was a Michigan fan and I loved the Seminoles but I always wanted to be an Orangeman (and I would’ve if tuition wasn’t $42,000 a year).

Of course in basketball I loved the Orange and always will, however I like Syracuse football as much as I love OSU football.

Those were the Donovan McNabb days when he was slinging it to Marvin Harrison. I had a man crush on McNabb because he was just a beast. He could run it, throw it and make a three pointer every once in awhile. He was the first in the era of the scrambling QB and he made it work.

Harrison I thought was going to be the next Jerry Rice, and he almost was. He made everything look easy and could catch any ball thrown at him. With those two guys I thought it was the beginning if a dynasty at The Cuse on the field…

But we know how that went.

Fast forward to this year and The Cuse is on its way back. Coming off of an 8-5 year Syracuse has an outside shot at the Big East and could win 9 games. I’m honestly more excited for Orange football than Buckeye football.

Maybe it was the scandal, the tats, the selling of rings but I’m over it. I want to cheer for something I can believe in and right now my childhood favorites are trending up. I’m not totally abandoning Ohio State, but if they square off against the Orange I might be in a Syracuse Marathon Men shirt.

I’m looking so bad to the alumni right now.

My man Donovan.

14. I laughed at The Knicks when Reggie Miller scored 8 points in 17 seconds

I mean it was funny.

15. I still think the Ravens fixed Super Bowl 34

THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL THAT BALTIMORE CAN SCORE 34 POINTS!!!! ESPECIALLY AGAINST A TOP FIVE DEFENSE!!! AND I’M STICKING WITH THAT!!!!

16. My first pair of basketball kicks weren’t Jordan’s… They were Ewing’s

That orange and blue with the basketball hanging off the side… C’mon son! They were way fresher than the Jordans.

17. As much as I loved Mark Messier my favorite Ranger is Adam Graves

You ever date a girl who isn’t prettier than other girls that you’ve dated, doesn’t have big boobs, doesn’t have a great body, but makes you happy and does all the little things? That’s Adam Graves. He wasn’t as well known as Messier or Brian Leetch, he wasn’t as rough as Jeff Beukeboom and he wasn’t Mike Gartner fast.

But he always scored goals when you needed them, always killed penalties well and always laid it out in the ice. I was more upset when we traded him to San Jose than when Wayne Gretzky retired… true story.

18. The first game that made me throw a violent tantrum and had me cursing up a storm was the Mariners-Yankees ALDS game 5 in 1995.

Literally cursed so loud that my mom barged into my room and caught me about to tear into my book bag.

I hate that the M’s got into the playlets in the first place with that late season run (I was cheering for then to make it at first because I loved Ken Griffey Jr… Learned that lesson) I hate that Randy Johnson was so unhittable and I hate Jack McDowell because he had no business being out there amongst other reasons for hating him.

When we fired Buck Showalter at the end of the year I was part pissed and part happy. I was happy he was gone but mad that he cost us so many games including that one.

19. Pete Sampras- Andre Agassi is still my favorite sports rivalry.

This was the first sports thing that me and my mom went at each others throats about. She loved Agassi, the image, the hair, the return game and that he seemed like a down to earth guy. I liked Sampras’s nerve, his serve, the way that he played the game. He was the first cerebral athlete that I admired because he always seemed in control.

She called Sampras snooty, I called Agassi a punk, yeah a tennis rivalry broke up our house, weird I know.

It was the tennis that was so great. They were constantly gunning for each other and only measured themselves against each other. Jim Courier, Boris Becker. Stefan Edberg, none of them mattered. Sure they were good competition but Sampras only cared about Agassi and vice versa

You know these Roger Federer- Rafael Nadal matches? Those were three to four times a year for Sampras and Agassi or so it seemed. They were epic and just had you sitting on your hands past the third set.

Man did they hate each other.

They wanted to kill each other I thought. It was the perfect match if wits; Sampras and his finesse versus Agassi and his power. The series never tilted too far in one way. Sampras won his titles as did Agassi but Each has their own bragging point; Sampras won 7 Wimbledon crowns the most ever while Agassi has the career slam.

(side note 3: you know how I know this rivalry was really nasty? Last year in a charity match Sampras teamed with Federer to take on Agassi and Nadal. Agassi and Sampras traded barbs that were more than just smack talk. The crowd and Federer and Nadal just stood there with the crackers looks on there faces. I guess time doesn’t heal all wounds.)

20. The biggest choke job I ever saw was at the 1994 World Cup when Roberto Baggio missed a wide open net in penalty kicks costing Italy a chance at beating Brazil

I didn’t understand soccer at the time and didn’t like it… But even I was saying to myself “how did he miss that?”

21. As much as I hate the SEC, Nebraska is still my least favorite college team

They are still the most overrated program ever. They never threw the ball and no one could stop them. I remember watching the 1996 National Title game against Florida (who I also hated thanks to my allegiance to Florida State) and watch them beat down a team that beat down everyone and I couldnt understand it.

That Tommie Frazier run was the perfect example. You know option right was their bread and butter, they were in position had him stopped, yet 65 yards later the Huskers were up 62-24.

I can’t believe in 1994 that Nebraska and Penn State both finished undefeated but Nebraska won the outright title. PENN STATE WOULD HAVE KILLED THEM!!! Kerry Collins, Ki-Jana Carter and Kyle Brady along with that defense would’ve stopped that option I guarantee it.

Same with the split tile in 1997 with Michigan. Michigan was definitely the better team and had a better defense. However, everyone loved Nebraska, the loved Tom Osbourne a his gimmick offense. It ticks me off and I hope Ohio State beats them by 80 this year.

(by the way, you know what could’ve solved the issues of 1994 and 1997? A playoff… Just saying)

22. I still get nervous when I see a Florida state kicker kick

Wide right… Wide right 2… Wide left… That’ll do it to you.

Ugh!

23. I used to love Cal Ripken Jr an thought he was the greatest shortstop ever…

Then I moved to Maryland and heard about Cal so much that I wanted to puke… oh and Derek Jeter happened.

Cal made me want to be a shortstop. He hit for power, drove in runs and was great defensively. He had the iron man streak and everything pulled me in.

I had a serious collection of Cal Ripken cards that I wouldn’t sell for anything…

Then I got older and studied the game more and realized that he was alright.

One, that streak is the most overrated streak ever in sports. Of those 2600+ games only 200 of them were meaningful. He trotted out for so many bad teams and bad years that really the streak took on it’s own life because that’s all there was in Baltimore.

When you look at Brett Favre’s streak in the NFL it is way more impressive because Favre played in title games, won 3 MVP’s, went to the playoff in all but 3 or 4 years and carried his team to victory. Ripken wasn’t even close.

Then there was the fact that he wasn’t a great hitter. He always hovered around .275 and once his power went so did he.

Then there’s this fact… for all of the mess about Derek Jeter’s defense did you know that Ripken has more career errors, more 20+ error seasons and a lower fielding percentage than Jeter.

Maybe we should steer some of this overrated talk in Cal’s direction.

Ripken was good but he isn’t Jeter. Jeter has played in way more important games, come through in the clutch too many times and has made more ridiculous plays than Ripken ever did.

It’s not even close as to who’s better. Jeter is hitting almost .300 and playing decent defense at shortstop at age 37, Ripken was already tanking.

I’m sorry Maryland and baseball critics, Ripken was highly overrated. It just took me a few years to figure it out.

24. My middle school teacher Ms Rodriguez first put it in my head that I should be a sports writer.

We had a project where we had to write something and put it into summary form for class. I used the NHL all-star game for my project. I watched the entire thing took notes, wrote a three page report and talked about in threw minutes or less highlighting Owen Nolan’s hat trick (I still don’t know how he didn’t win MVP that year, the game was in San Jose… He was a Shark… silly voters),

Needless to say I got an A and she, as well as my classmates were really impressed. She told me to stick with it and that I would be a really good writer one day.

Overrated.

I hope she’s right. Writing a blog hungover while spilling your sports guts isn’t fun. However it may be worth it in the end and I might have many more happy birthdays in my future.

Thanks for reading and supporting the blog so far and letting me spew my ridiculousness for all the world to see. Now if you’ll excuse me my hangover is gone and I’m going to try to get a new one.

I might need a few drinks once I hear it from Buckeye fans about what I said.

Sometimes confessions should stay secret.


All’s Well That Ends Well

Your 2011 NBA Champions

So here’s what I learned from the NBA this season:

 

1.As good as “Superfriends” are for star value and interest in the league they do not make for a good championship team.

 

For all of the hoopla made about the Miami Heat and their incredible acquisitions of Chris Bosh and LeBron James who else did they add to provide a spark off of the bench and to be a beast on the inside? Spending money on 3 high-priced free agents and not adding any role players that could give them consistent play ended up killing them in the end. They added over the hill bums in Juwan Howard and Zydrunas Ilgauskus to roam the middle and neither made a dent in these finals nor did James Jones or Eddie House.

 

The proper blueprint to building a champion is by making your team effective and competitive one through twelve on the floor…

 

Just like the Dallas Mavericks.

 

There is nothing glamorous about the Mavs; there was no need for glamour either. They had a big dog in Dirk Nowitzki, great secondary scoring in Caron Butler and Jason Terry, a big man to handle the low post in Tyson Chandler and spark plugs off of the bench in JJ Barea and Shawn Marion.

 

But when injuries happened to Butler and other scoring threat Roddy Beaubois look what happened; Deshawn Stevenson stepped into the starting lineup and provided great defense and timely three point shooting, Barea became a big threat scoring the ball and driving people crazy, Jason Kidd and Peja Stojakovic knocked down timely threes, and in the case of the Finals when backup center Brendan Haywood went down little used Ian Manhimi and Brian Cardinal gave them key minutes and make plays.

 

One through twelve Dallas had a remedy for what ailed them, Miami didn’t.

 

2. The best players in the league play their best when it matters.

 

Well done Dirk.

I’m pretty sure I’ve waxed poetically about the differences between Dirk and LeBron all postseason but here’s the last tidbit.

 

In game six entering the second half Dirk Nowitzki shot 1-12 (yet somehow Dallas was up by 2 at the half, thank you Jason Terry). Dirk could’ve packed it in and got hesitant… instead he finished 9-27 with 21 points including 10 in the fourth quarter that put Dallas ahead and they never looked back.

 

LeBron James started off great by hitting his first four shots and then he disappeared, again.

 

James finished with 21 points just like Dirk and shot better than Dirk at 9-15, but his aggressiveness, and heart weren’t in it after those first four shots hit. When the Heat were struggling offensively he went back to the passive, hide in the corner, “I don’t want any part of this” King James.

 

The most telling part about how truly unreliable James is in key moments came in the second half when Mario Chalmers (who balled out in this series by the way) had a 2-on-2 with James on his right and two Dallas defenders bearing down on him. Instead of passing to James he took it himself.

 

And that ends that conversation right there.

 

3. Good things come to those who wait.

 

Jason Kidd waited 17 years, was snubbed for two MVP’s and lost two finals before winning this one as a key role player.

 

Shawn Marion waited 12 years and changed his style from the run and gun Phoenix Suns to a more defensively minded player who shut down the games most athletic player in James.

 

Jason Terry waited 12 years and got over the heartbreak of 2006.

 

Rick Carlisle fought through being fired by the Pistons (Mike Brown style after winning 110 games in 2 years) and fired by the Pacers (couldn’t get them over the hump) and won with his least talented team.

 

And Dirk Nowitzki stayed in Dallas through all of the heartbreak, disappointment, let downs and watched other players win titles around him while he, arguably one of the top 10 players of all-time, stayed and stuck with Mark Cuban through it all and finally has a ring to call his own.

For these men it was definetly worth the wait

 

And he didn’t have to jump ship to do it.

 

4. LeBron James is a joke.

 

Scottie Pippen said that James could be better than Michael Jordan, Pippen should have his credentials revoked.

 

The truth is that James is not the best player in the league, he is not the chosen one, he is not a King, he is more Prince John from Robin Hood or Kind Richard III from Shakespeare lore, a spoiled brat who wants everything his way and wants everyone to do the work for him while he stands and watches.

 

After watching James shy away from late game drama, put every ounce of pressure on Dwyane Wade’s shoulders and watch him get owned by Terry on the offensive end (mind you James is 6 inches taller and 50 pounds heavier than Terry) we should finally realize that he is the furthest thing from Michael Jordan. In fact Jordan should punch someone in the face if they mention he and James in the same breathe again.

 

Jordan wouldn’t have mocked his opponent on camera (especially if he went 3-11 with 8 points the night before. Jordan wouldn’t have done that either.) . Jordan Wouldn’t allowed his team to lose 3 fourth quarter leads en route to defeat. Jordan wouldn’t have disappeared in the Finals in four straight games. Jordan in defeat wouldn’t have blasted the haters by saying that they will go back to their miserable lives while he maintains his status as king.

 

James did.

 

James also became a running joke for his terrible play. There have been jokes about him not having a fourth when you need change for a dollar, that the people of Dallas were let out of work 12 minutes early and they called it “King James Day.”

 

No self-respecting superstar would’ve allowed this to happen to him and downgrade his character while he sat there and smirked.

 

James did. He is no King.

 

5. In the end everything works itself out.

 

Once again he is the legend of the fall.

Miami thought that they would waltz to the crown in a haze of wine and roses. Many thought that the Bulls and Thunder’s youth and athleticism would guide them to victory, the Lakers size, or maybe the Celtics and Spurs experience.

 

However, it was the Mavericks who truly had the proper tools to win it all.

 

They didn’t have to make a trade or acquire a big name. They had the big men, the bench and the perfect mix of experience and youth. They had the best coaching and the best closer in the game in Nowitzki.

 

When people were making predictions at the beginning of the playoffs the Mavs were an afterthought. They were supposed to fall to Portland’s athleticism, they didn’t have the experience or guts of the Lakers, they couldn’t keep up with the Thunder, and the Heat were on mission.

 

Wrong to the fourth my friend.

 

The Mavs had the perfect mix and stuck it to their opponents at every turn whether it was Barea mashing on the Lakers, Kidd and Marion holding down Kevin Durant or Dirk leading the Mavs back from the depths of despair.

 

They truly were the best TEAM in the NBA this year. As the finals seconds ticked down, the championship hats were passed around and Dirk headed to the locker to shed a few tears at the end of his long and hard journey it was clear that the best team and the right team won.

 

No preseason celebrations, no “Decisions” no “Superfriends,” just a great group of guys from one to twelve.

 

Just as it has been and just as it should be.


A Shaq For All Seasons

Shaquille O' Neal retired today after 19 seasons in the NBA.

What was Shaquille O’ Neal? Was he one of the greatest centers of all-time? A 4-time champion and 3-time MVP of the NBA Finals? A 15-time all-star, number 5 all-time scorer with 28,596 points?

 

Was he the most dominant big man that this generation had ever seen?

 

From the time that he stepped on the floor as the number one pick of the 1992 NBA Draft Shaq was a man amongst boys. He decimated foes in the paint with his size; he got to anywhere he wanted in the paint. No man on this earth could guard him (hence the Superman moniker), nor could they stop him, unless they fouled him. Once both of his size 22’s were in the paint it was senseless to try and stop him, the two points were his, just take it like a man and walk off.

 

Was he the most unbelievable big man that we ever saw?

 

As big as he was and as powerful as he was he had amazing finesse skills. He was this generation’s best passer able to suck in double teams and kick it out to any open shooter in his sightline. He had great footwork, which he learned after the greatest fleet-footed big man Hakeem Olajuwon schooled him in the 1995 Finals. He had a great spin move to get to the hole, an excellent jump hook that came from plenty of time put in his early years in L.A. however, his power dominated all especially when he brought rims down without even trying during his first few years in the league.

 

Ever since he came into the league Shaq has been the center of attention.

Was he the game’s best entertainer?

 

On and off of the court you couldn’t keep your eyes off of Shaq. When he wasn’t dunking on poor and helpless centers he was selling Pepsi without a hitch. When he wasn’t winning titles he was recording platinum rap albums and making hits with the Notorious B.I.G. a.k.a. Biggie Smalls. He starred in movies and extended his brand in a way that could’ve rivaled Michael Jordan. Shaq was never just a basketball player he was the first entertainer of the sport. When you see other athletes crossover to TV and film and music that’s because Shaq laid that blueprint down before anyone else. Shaq could do anything and he definitely did try.

 

Was he the biggest kid that the game has ever seen?

 

His playfulness was his best attribute. Shaq was a player who had no problem making a fool of himself. True, he was a hulking 7’1” and 325 pounds and an intimidating man if there ever was one. However, just look at some footage of Shaq break dancing at the all-star game, acting a fool on the bus at the Olympics, playing a living statue at Harvard or leading the Boston Pops. He had fun and made everyone laugh.

 

(Side note: the best bit of Shaq acting a fool was his short lived reality TV show “Shaq Vs.” he challenged athletes to contests in their own sport and went through it all with the same ridiculous over the top mannerisms that he has whenever there was a camera on him before or after games. It was athletic competition that he never took seriously and it was pure comedy.)

 

How great of a winner was he?

 

4 rings, 6 appearances with three teams. The funny yet sad thing about the Shaq era is that he only has one MVP in his 19 years in the league… ONE!!! Then when you look at some of the names that he lost out to (Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, Michael Jordan) you go, “Damn. That’s why.” However, MVP’s don’t truly make up who Shaq was as a player. In Game 7 versus Portland he with help from Kobe Bryant led the Lakers back from 15 down to reach the Finals. He dominated each of the Lakers title series in there three-peat years and continuously punished the Sacramento Kings and prevented from reaching a plateau than where they finished.

 

Shaq always had a fun side.

Could he have been better though?

 

To say that a man that scored over 28,000 points could’ve done better sounds silly, but he could’ve easily pushed past 30,000 if he wasn’t such a poor free throw shooter… and had stayed in shape.

 

The problem with Shaq in the second half of his career was his constant refusal to stay in shape. He missed 12 or more games in 8 of the 10 seasons after his first title and missed 20 or more games in 5 of those seasons. Truth is that Shaq got lazy and only focused on the second half of the season up until the playoffs. If he would’ve stayed healthy he could’ve been even more incredible as far as stats go.

 

Did he love drama?

 

Ask Penny Hardaway. Ask Dwyane Wade. Ask Kobe Bryant. Ask the cities of Orlando, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Miami and Cleveland about the departures of Shaquille O’ Neal and they wont have nice things to say. Shaq was a stubborn man, in his mind he knew what he was worth as a person and a player and wouldn’t settle for less. He wouldn’t let Kobe or Penny take his spotlight; he wouldn’t accept his playing time in Miami (or play with Chris Quinn as he once said). It was his greatest fault as a player and it cost him more love than what he already accumulated.

 

(Back to Kobe Bryant for a second. We’ve circled this wagon more than enough times in my lifetime than I would care to discuss. But imagine if they had put their differences aside and worked together more than they did.  They could’ve been greater than Jordan and Pippen, Gretzky and Messier and any other great tandem in the history of sports. When they were on the same page the Lakers were unstoppable. It was the perfect inside-outside tandem and they screwed it up. If there is any regret that Shaq should have in his career it’s the fact that if he and Kobe stayed together they could’ve won 8 championships together and people wouldn’t put Tim Duncan ahead of him as this generations best big man.)

 

What was he overall?

 

To me? The third best center of all-time (1. Bill Russell. 2. Wilt Chamberlain), the most dominant at his position in the last 30 years. The most immoveable object in the game. The most gentle of gentle giants who, if irked enough, could take Brad Miller’s head off with one swing, but would’ve rather helped out the police force in any city he played in and helped protect the law.

 

What much greater could his legacy have been if he and Kobe put aside their differences?

To me Shaq was more than a basketball player. He was a great role model with his charitable services to the community whether it be handing out toys or making public arrests. He was an educated man that made it a point to go back to LSU and receive his bachelor’s degree years after bolting for the NBA and then following that up with a Master’s Degree from the University of Phoenix.

 

He was a hell of a quote (favorite: “we’re not afraid of the Sacramento Queens.” OOOOOOOOHHHHHH SNAP!!!), whenever there was a microphone in front of him he always had something to say.

 

He was as imaginative and as playful as he was devastating in the paint. He always had a new nickname that made you laugh and was always in a playful mood.

 

He was just as special off of the court as he was on it. However, the court was his domain. There was never a player like Shaq before his arrival and there won’t be one now that he’s gone.

 

There wont be a center like him to roam the paint ever again. No one will have a combination of his size, strength and agility. No one will take over a game like he did, carry a team to three straight titles like he did and have the game in the palm of his hands like him.

 

Today is a sad day for me because I loved Shaq. I has his Dunkman Reebok shirt when he first came into the league and followed him every step of the way from Orlando to L.A. and everywhere else. He was one of a kind in everyway possible.

 

Thanks for the memories and you will be missed Shaq, Diesel, Wilt Chamberneezy, Superman, The Big Shaqtus, The Big Aristotle or whatever the heck else you call yourself.