Down Goes Rose

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Ten days into his promising comeback to basketball, Derrick Rose tore his menial meniscus in his right knee and will be out for the remainder of the season.

This was the year that the Bulls finally get back their missing piece, a transcendent point guard who can create offense. The Bulls need Derrick Rose because they traded away their offensive stopgaps, Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson, and without the once-in-a-lifetime talents of D-Rose they will be able to stop the other team from scoring, but will have quite a bit of trouble putting the ball in the basket. Derrick Rose was supposed to be the captain of a very able-bodied crew and lead the Bulls back into true championship contention. The native son of Chicago was supposed to restore the glory that’s been missing since Jordan’s jumper in Utah swished through the net. 

The Bulls were supposed to be the most interesting team in the league. They were ranked #1 in a large amount of preseason polls over the two-time defending champion Heat. They were fine without Rose last year, but this year with a glorious offensive weapon in combination with their impeccable defense, they were slated to be borderline unstoppable and we were to be treated to beautiful, excellence on both sides of the floor, basketball. And now that’s all over, at least until next year. It’s not fair.

As the French say, “C’est la vie.” Life is unfair. Things happen that should not. The most deserving robbed and the undeserving glorified. Storybook endings are rare and Life usually hands us complicated, unresolved, and confusing moments that really are neither good or bad, but just are. 

It’s depressing that Rose will miss the rest of the season, and that such a mighty tree in the forest of NBA basketball has fallen. But in the forest when a mighty tree falls, sunlight is let in that allows the growth of other trees that never would have see the light. Now that “the return” has been postponed for another season, who will rise?

Will the Pacers firmly establish themselves as the number one contender in a weak Eastern Conference? Will John Wall or Kyrie Irving shake off the mediocrity that has plagued their teams and lead them on inspiring playoff campaigns? Will the Knicks or Nets remember how to play basketball and begin to fulfill the lofty goals that we had for them at the beginning of the season? Or will a team like the Pistons or the Pelicans or (hell, why not?) the Kings reverse their losing culture and begin to contend once again?

We can’t know, but what is exciting, even in these sad times, is that there is vast potential in this league for teams to better themselves now that a place at the top has been opened. I can not imagine what the season has in store, but Rose going down is not the end of a compelling season, but just the opposite. It is a major plot twist that has changed the planned trajectory of the year and will have consequences that we cannot possibly foresee. 

We’ll see you next year Derrick, but I can’t wait to see what the league has in store for us now.

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Cranky Michael

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In not so recent news, Michael Jordan stated that his ultimate pick-up basketball team would be:

PG: Magic Johnson

SG: Himself

SF: Scottie Pippen

PF: James Worthy

C: Hakeem Olajuwon

Really Michael, James Worthy? There isn’t another man who could fill in at power forward who might be a slight upgrade from James Worthy? Somebody with transcendent, once in a millennium talent, who combines the power of Karl Malone, the speed of Iverson, and the ball handling ability of the Professor? Somebody with three MVPs in four years and who is the consensus favorite to win this year as well? Someone who just led his team to repeat championships? Someone who cares little for statistics and just cares about getting his team Ws? Someone who can do stuff like this?

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Look James Worthy is by no means a slouch. He’s definitely a Hall of Famer and posted solid numbers his entire career, but the man was very reliant upon the talent of Magic to become great. Lebron, on the other hand, is unlike anyone we have ever seen before. Every aspect of the game is one of his strengths. The man is borderline unstoppable when he is the focal point of a defense. Imagine Lebron distributing, playing off the ball, and intermingling with the other legends on Jordan’s squad. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. He is clearly the better choice and it’s not even close.

This is not a new thing for Jordan to snub younger players who come sniffing at his title of greatest ever. Jordan has routinely played down Kobe’s abilities, although recently saying Kobe could beat him in a game of one on one. The person Jordan said he could beat? Lebron James.

Jordan needs to stop acting like improvement in basketball ended when he retired. Jordan is like the starting high school quarterback, who was really popular, slayed all the cheerleaders, and dominated the school with his very presence during his time. Now that he has graduated he still comes around every now and again, just to put down the new quarterback and remind everyone how great that he was. It’s getting old and Michael sounds desperate, petty, and jealous every time that he puts down Lebron.

Jordan is really missing out on a great opportunity because who else knows what it’s like to be the most dominant player in basketball by a wide margin other than Lebron? Michael could have conversations with Lebron that he can have with no one else on Earth. If Michael took Lebron under his wing every now and again and worked with Lebron on his game, would anyone really think less of Michael. He would gain respect for displaying a magnanimous ability to pass the torch, instead of his current display of desperation to remain relevant.  It’s just sad that Jordan is passing up this opportunity because of his insane competitive nature that can not even recognize that anyone else could be approaching his level of greatness. 

Michael is still the greatest ever, but Lebron has made it a conversation.To this point, Jordan has effectively ignored Lebron and the two are little more than acquaintances. If he does not change his attitude, and Lebron continues to tear the league apart as he has been doing, Jordan will continue to lose respect. Real SHOULD recognize Real, and if Michael does not change his attitude, he will be increasingly remembered for his petty attitude that could not recognize anyone else approaching his greatness.

Michael, for everyone’s sake, please set aside your maniacal desire to be the only one on top of the mountain and offer a hand to Lebron, who is sprinting up said mountain. If you don’t, Lebron will reach the summit on his own, and it’s gonna be mighty uncomfortable up there. 

Bound 2 (disappoint some fans)

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Ok first lower your expectations.
Not low enough.
Lower.
Lower.
Looooower.
Ok.
(sigh)

Today, Kanye West debuted his music video for “Bound 2” on the Ellen Degeneres show and frankly it is not that good.

The video starts out with some gorgeous shots of nature including half dome in Yosemite, then cuts to some wild horses galloping and then for the duration of the video Kim and Kanye dry hump on a motorcycle in front of green screen.

For Real.

This music video is downright heartbreaking. After dropping fantastic music videos for Touch the Sky, Gold Digger, and All Falls down early in his career, Kanye followed those by dropping THE GREATEST VIDEO OF ALL TIME, in conjunction with his album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” It is glorious and you should watch it to mentally floss the Bound 2 out of your head.

Here it is:

The 34 minute long music video is captivating and exciting the entire time. The entire video you are thinking, “I have barely any idea what is going on, BUT THIS IS AWESOME!” It is nothing short of epic and when you finish it, there is a definite feeling of satisfaction.

As a result it was only natural to have absurdly high expectations for this video.

But “Bound 2” left me with the exact opposite feeling. I love this song, and Kanye can do much better. In his defense, Kim’s contribution to the video is being hot and displaying the personality of mannequin. I’ve seen her sell performances on video much better than this. (wink) She does so little and when she does anything, it feels cheap, plastic, and worst of all insincere. It’s a damn shame.

The backgrounds match Kim’s contributions to the video as they are clearly photoshopped and ultimately just distracting. They look like desktop backgrounds on a Windows computer. Kanye and Kim bounce around on the motorcycle in front of the screen and it’s awkward.

Perhaps the video’s stripped down nature is supposed to reflect the stripped down nature of the album, but that really does not make sense as there is so much happening in this video, even if it is poorly executed. Additionally, Bound 2 is much different from the rest of the album and should not be stripped down, but extravagant, and this music video is nowhere near the excellence in extravagance that we have come to expect from Kanye in the past.

The only salvageable parts of the movie are the piano that has been added to the song for the video, which provides an extra soulfulness to the track and one of Kanye’s outfit where he rocks an unprecedented DOUBLE FLANNEL.

However, if anyone deserves a pass it’s Kanye. For nearly a decade the man has been cranking out work of a quality that is unparalleled. He got caught up in how hot his new wife and how awesome his life is becoming and made a bad video. He just wanted to show the world, Kim Kardashian topless and straddling him on a motorcycle, worse things have happened.

I forgive you Kanye, Kim is really hot and motorcycles are pretty cool so I get it… I guess. Hopefully this video is a rare blimp of awkward awfulness in the otherwise stellar disc and videography of Mr. West.

To close here’s a pun that’s as cheesy as the video.

I’m sure his next video is Bound 2 be better.

I’ll show myself out.

In Defense of the Sleeved Jersey

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Today the NBA has announced that for the Christmas Day Games, players will be donning new sleeved jerseys.

Although the sleeved duds have seen some action in select Warriors games last year, and a handful of Summer League games, this is the first time they will be displayed for such a large audience. Christmas Day games are some of the most marque match-ups of the year chock full of playoff implications, superstars, and rivalries. This is a move by the NBA declaring that these jerseys are the future of NBA apparel.

The response from fans can be generously described as tepid, accurately described as unfavorable, and negatively described as seething disgust. These stem from the fact that the jerseys are quite the departure from the traditional tank top jersey. Sleeves in basketball are immediately equated with sloppy, skinny, and skeezy college players like Adam Morrison who rocked the undershirt look in college.

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*Shudder*

He looks awful. Most players with sleeves throughout history have usually both looked and played awful. In middle school, if I was matched up with a kid with a sloppy tee under his jersey, I called for the ball and took that shmuck to the rack until the other team’s coach put an actual defender on me.

But these jerseys are not the sleeved jerseys of old.

They are sleek, form fitting, and well designed. In the picture, Derrick Rose looks stylish and like he’s about to embarrass the other team with a crossover. The large logo on the jersey allows for international audiences to recognize the brand of the team, instead of the city, creating opportunities for basketball to become even more popular overseas. The jersey looks good, regardless if you are accustomed to it yet or not.

Finally the reason I and the league are most excited about these jerseys, is that they open up an entirely new range of acceptable times to wear a basketball jersey. Currently the range for jersey acceptance is almost exclusively theme parties and barbecues, anywhere else and you will get hostile glances from people adverse to seeing armpits in their day to day life. Soccer, baseball, and football jerseys on the other hand are nearly acceptable in any informal social setting as they not only have sleeves, but also are aesthetically pleasing, represent a hometown, and good conversation starters.

If the NBA can successfully create a jersey with sleeves that audiences enjoy, their apparel revenue will skyrocket, as fans, such as myself, will clamor to buy these new socially acceptable jerseys. If these end up looking good Christmas day, I will go to NBA.com, buy myself a Demarcus Cousins sleeved jersey, and rock that bad boy for the next two weeks. Hyperbole aside, this would be incredible for fans looking to support their team in a way that doesn’t attract open hostility.

Furthermore, with these impeccable athletes rocking the uniform, the fourth or fifth time Lebron throws down a monster slam wearing sleeves, even the biggest opponents may think to themselves, “Hey, maybe they don’t look so bad.”

True lumbering players will probably look terrible in these new duds as their sub-par physiques will be on greater display, but they look terrible in regular uniforms too and shouldn’t dissuade us from embracing the future. Furthermore, the jerseys don’t inhibit play as they are not baggy or restricting and if NBA players can practice and warm-up in sleeved shirts, there is no reason they can’t play games in them as well.

Finally, if you are not already convinced, here is a picture Shane Battier tweeted.

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The Age of the Tank is Over, The Time of the Sleeves has Come.

Grant and Jerry: A Tribute

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No two men have been a fixture of the Sacramento Kings organization for longer than Grant and Jerry.

Players come and go. Adelman was fired when the Kings did not advance far enough in the playoffs (take a second to realize how ridiculous that reasoning is now) and since him it’s been a revolving door of coaches. Even Geoff Petrie, Executive of the Year award winner, was shown the door when it appeared he had lost a bit of the edge that had created the great teams of the early 2000s.

Yet through it all Grant and Jerry stayed put in their court side seats. Jerry came up with  folksy nicknames from Hedo? HE-DO! to the Hustlin’ Husky and relayed the mundane details of his charming relationship with Mrs. Reynolds who I will just assume looks like Mrs. Doubtfire. Grant blasted every call that went against the Kings, unabashedly praised transcendent Kings players to semi-divine levels, and created a catchphrase that has come out of every Sacramentan’s mouth at one point or another….

IF YOU DON’T LIKE THAT, YOU DON’T LIKE NBA BASKETBALL!

Just thinking about the moments that have warranted that call, send shivers down my spine; plays ranging from the dizzying passing displays leading to thunderous slams of the early 2000s to the Tyreke Evans half court shot game winner against the Grizzlies. If Grant shouted those words, then we all knew we had witnessed something special. 

They’ve been there faithfully through all of the stages of the Kings in the last decade or so. They kept you glued to the edge of your seat during tight playoff games or allowed you to speculate with them as to the future of the organization during the increasingly commonplace blowouts of the recent Kings squads. It got to a point where if you watched a Kings game without those two commenting on the action, it just was not the same and you muted the television and turned on the radio hoping Jerry might be on with Gerry Gerald. 

Sure they are not perfect. Grant is one of the biggest homer announcers in the league and is admittedly a bit of an asshole. But he’s our asshole. Jerry says things that are so baffling that it takes a moment for you to recognize that his statement did not make one lick of sense. But we put up with it, because Jerry is Sacramento’s grandpa. They became such a fixture that we began to take them for granted, much like we did the Kings.

Then when the arena controversy started up and the certainty of the Kings staying in Sacramento was up in the air, we realized not only how special the Kings were to us, but how special Grant and Jerry were to us as well. I’ve probably listened to Grant and Jerry talk more than I have to any other pair of human beings on this planet. Every game for over a decade those two provided me with over two hours of entertainment at least 82 times a year. They entered into my psyche. But what I didn’t know was how special we were to Grant and Jerry, and how special they were to each other until this happened.

With the season over, the Kings once again vanquished by a superior foe, it looked like it was all over. It didn’t matter that the fans stayed after the game, or that the city could get an arena deal together if we just had a little more time. The Kings were leaving and so  were Grant and Jerry, so we started chanting their names to show our gratitude and they stumbled off the air choking back tears.

I remember watching this live, also being in tears, and thinking myself silly for being in that condition. All they did was talk while these tall men played basketball for us, and yet it was something indefinably more. Grant and Jerry were Sacramento and if they got taken off the air, we felt as though maybe we wouldn’t have a voice anymore. Our passion and our flavor as a city would be silenced in favor of a larger TV market and higher ad revenue. 

And it hurt.

But then the unthinkable happened and we rallied back from the brink season after season of uncertainty, until finally our lord and savior Kevin Johnson delivered and secured the team for the foreseeable future. We were relevant again, we wouldn’t be silenced, and who better to speak for us than the guys who had been there all along. 

So as Grant and Jerry take the reigns of yet another season of Kings basketball with the ultimate goal being to secure a high draft pick, we tune in not just to watch occasionally inspired basketball, but to hear what Sacramento sounds like. 

Long Live Grant. Long Live Jerry. Long Live the Sacramento Kings. 

 

Marshall Mathers LP 2

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Eminem’s most recent album is perhaps his best in a while but as far as being a triumphant return of Eminem to the top of the rap game, it falls short. There are some truly great moments on the album, such as “Love Game” featuring Kendrick, a 60’s rock sample, and truly delightful lyrical wordplay. Additionally, the second verse of “Rap God” where Eminem goes insane, the heartbreaking “Headlights” apology to his mother and the “Stan” alluding in “Bad Guy” are highlights.

However, the whole album feels a bit disjointed and the production is noticeably weaker than a large amount of the current work made by up and coming artists. I’d say that Acid Rap has better beats and Kanye’s and Drake’s album make Em’s beats look like they were made on Garageband. Furthermore, Eminem simply has less to say. The fact is that the man is over forty and trying to appeal to a demographic of people half his age, a very difficult task. Although not nearly as bad as Jay-Z, Eminem lacks some of the fire and hunger that made him famous and he now sounds like he’s trying a bit too hard to prove that he’s still got it.

This album reminds me of Michael Jordan’s comeback to the Wizards. Eminem still can rap and arguably is the best technical rapper in the game still, but as far as the whole package goes, he’s certainly diminished. Jordan could still play on the Wizards and Em can still rap on MMLP2, but it just is not the same. The Rap God verse is the fall away jumper at the end of the All-Star Game with Shawn Marion draped all over him. “Love Game” is Jordan’s fifty point game. In the end, everyone will applaud and be very respectful because this is a legend, but the current quality of the product is nowhere near what it was during their respective primes.

However, where the comparison falls down is that Jordan’s return to the game hurt his lasting legacy a bit. Instead of leaving on a signature Jordan game-winner, Michael last moments in the NBA were spent on the bench of a regular season game. Eminem on the other hand shows that he still can unleash some of the fire that made him famous, and he drops the last good traditional rap album. Kanye, Drake and Kendrick own the future and are taking the game in a new direction, which is good for the progress of the genre. However, this album is solid and although there’s nothing transcendent or groundbreaking about it, Eminem gives us one last taste of what rap used to be like.

The Toronto Drakes

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This is an video that the Toronto Raptors made for their season debut.

The Raptors are a downright uninspiring collection of basketball players and I can not imagine them having a place in playoffs beyond sneaking into the eighth seed through a sequence of perfectly timed miracles. As a result, the Raptors have to do something in order to make their fans glance away from hockey and obviously, what they decide to do is make an inspirational video starring none other than Mr. Toronto himself, Drake.

A couple of golden nuggets from the video.

Drake is the Global Ambassador for the Toronto Raptors. This title sounds like Drake met with the owners of the Raptors, and asked to have a bigger role with the organization. I imagine the owners looked at each other, created the Global Ambassador position on the spot, and offered it to Drake.

Now imagine Drake settling conflicts among warring teams. Rudy Gay cheap shots Kevin Durant in the middle of a blowout? Send Drake over with some Poutine to smooth things over. Tyler Hansborough aka Psycho T accidentally violates a sacred custom during an exhibition game in China? Drake plays a special concert on top of the Great Wall.

Problem Solved.

Drake is the Winston Wolf of the Toronto Raptors.

In the interview, the music, lighting, and emotional reverence that are displayed would have worked just as well for an 80 year old veteran recalling storming the beach at Normandy. Drake speaks with a voice so saturated with emotion and choked back tears that the room begins to take on a salty humidity as a result of Drake’s bubbling cauldron of Toronto Pride.

There are multiple shots of him and Masai Uriji, the Raptor’s GM, in conversation. These shots look as though they have been lifted from the Situation Room in the White House, when in reality, I’m sure Masai is just begging Drake to talk to his famous friends about receiving anything valuable in return for Rudy Gay’s massive contract and overrated skills.

A sweeping orchestra plays on violins made of heartstrings as photos of “authentic” Toronto are shown and the hopeful eyes of young fans gaze upon the court at their mediocre squad.

Drake concludes by saying, “It’s our time.” Well it isn’t and it won’t be for some time for Toronto until they nail a couple of drafts and sign a big time free agent, but all that being said, if any rapper had done anything like this for Sacramento, I would have lost my mind.