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If you're on this page. I Love you. Whether or not you like what you read or not, heck maybe you just browsed and did not read a thing I still am grateful for the time. Just a kid who loves sports.

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The Internet Showed Me How to Love Again

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Sometimes you think that you’ve moved on from your past, but the feelings of pleasure and joy keep trying to bring you back. It’s tough to hold on because you’re constantly being told, “you shouldn’t still enjoy this! You’re an adult now.” As a kid, I loved video games, cartoons, and graffiti. Even though these were a few of the things I loved as a child, they weren’t accepted by everyone. It seemed as though everyone around me was saying “You need to grow up and stop liking that shit.” (I swear…people really said this to me.)

So, I decided to listen to the “wise words” spoken to me. I stopped playing video games for a while, and I completely abandoned wrestling. After getting arrested for doing graffiti at 15, my mom punished me for the entire summer, (holy shit… that was a long summer.) Regardless of whether or not I was on punishment, I was no longer interested in the things from my childhood.Between friends and ex-girlfriends who just didn’t “get it,” it was easy for me to lose interest.

During my first year of college, I was out so much that I never had time for anything. I received a Xbox 360 for my birthday that year, so video games were slowly making a comeback into my life. I’ll never forget the night that Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 was released, conveniently the night right before my midterms. I couldn’t buy the game due to low funds, but a friend of mine had a copy. The next thing I know, we’re playing 12 hours straight, with breaks strictly for food and the bathroom. The entire time I’m thinking to myself  “I should really stop and study,” but then I thought, “Fuck that this is SO much fun.” Needless to say, I barely passed that midterm, but the feelings from the previous night made it all worth while.

As time went on, my video game usage continued to waver. More and more it seemed as though I never had time for the things I truly enjoyed.  In my last three years of college, I relocated and lived in Buffalo, New York. The locals there call their city “Ruff Buff,” but I don’t, just like I don’t call New York City the big apple (no one here does.)

The best thing Buffalo gave me was time. Buffalo is where I first started this blog. It’s where I slowly (and still very slowly) began to actually think about what I want to do with my life. I had school and a part-time job, but Buffalo was a slow city, so it felt like you had a full 24 hours to get things done.

The thing I got done was loving everything that made me who I am.

Getting back into video games was in full effect, and now I had more time available. All of my roommates and co-workers also played, so I had people around me with similar interests, and lord does that make a difference. Having video games back was a huge step toward feeling good again, but I always felt that something was missing for the cycle to be completed.

The squared circle.(wrestling).

I remember being in my room on Twitter during Valentine’s day in 2011. Long distance relationships suck, because you go months without seeing her, and Valentine’s day that year was just another day. While browsing on Twitter, I noticed that my timeline was exploding with tweets. Tons of people tweeting in caps with the same tweets “HOLY SHIT!,” or “NO WAY HE’S BACK.”  I was so confused as to what was going on. Everyone was watching, but I didn’t know what they were watching, or where to watch. Around midnight the hysteria calmed down, yet I still didn’t know exactly what was happening. Finally, I saw the words that would change everything …

“The Rock has returned to WWE.”

I couldn’t believe it at first. What was this all about? I decided to skip the questions and reading and went straight to the source that is the internet . It was the most awesome thing I had ever witnessed. Twenty-three minutes of pure joy that included screaming, yelling, that my girlfriend didn’t understand. It was more than just about The Rock returning, it was also about seeing grown ups go crazy for something involving pro wrestling. It felt like someone was telling me “those adults were not only wrong, but they were stupid.”

So I used Twitter to help me get back into wrestling. Tons of people sent me links of YouTube of matches I had missed, and all I kept thinking was, “what else did I miss?”

Then this happened.

And this.

Oh and this.

There were a few moments in between that were just as important, but there’s no solid YouTube video for them. Since 2011 I’ve been back into wrestling, and in 2015 I can officially say I would never change a thing. It took time to get back into the groove, but it wasn’t until the WWE Network came out that I was fully allowed to engulf myself back into wrasslin’. Twitter continued to help me in regards to knowing who is who, and where they came from. Live tweeting was something I officially took part in during Monday Night Raw, and Pay-Per-Views. FYI … NXT is even cooler when they do live specials.

Now I find myself not only a weekly watcher, but I am buying merchandise. I’m going to Summerslam in August at the Barclays Center! I am 100% going to WrestleMania next year in Dallas, Texas. I write for a video game website, Wegotleagues.com, and of course there’s a wrestling section that I write for. It truly is something I love doing.

I learned recently that the best thing about being an adult compared to being a kid is that when you find something that you love, you never let it go. People may not think what you like is acceptable or cool, and will tell you to grow up; but when you’re an adult you do what you want, and no one can truly change your mind.

So thank you great people of the internet. You truly did help someone regain a love they thought was long lost. Thank you WWE Network, you always make time easy to manage.

Thank this guy too.

This was thankful moment too.

Okay I’m done.

Swear.

By the way this happened ON MY BIRTHDAY

AND THIS JUST HAPPENED ON MONDAY

 

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We Are Who We Are, Americans.

United States fans cheer on their team against Mexico during the first half of their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match in Columbus

 

It was okay in the beginning. It was okay to watch other games, root for other teams, get into the whole World Cup atmosphere and being all “YEAH I LOVE THIS GLOBAL GAME OF KICKING” it was meant to be that way in the opening round.  Get you accustomed to the feeling of nations rooting for a group of men.

Not anymore.

World Cup Fans Gather To Watch Matches In Rio

This is real. This is the elimination round. There’s no picking TEAMS to win. You’ve got one nation to root for. You’ve got a bunch of other nations to find funny jokes about. You’ve only got one shot to stand up and believe that your nation will rise.

World Cup Fans Gather To Watch Matches In Rio

And the one nation that is under god and indivisible with liberty and justice for all is the one nation you better be rooting for. This is about AMERICA. HOME TO CHUCK NORRIS. HOME TO TACO BELL. HOME TO HULK HOGAN. HOME TO BOBBY BOUCHER, HANK HILL, AND ERIC CARTMAN. HOME TO FREEDOM. HOME TO ENOUGH FREEDOM THAT WE DON’T CARE IF OUR COACH IS GERMAN, THAT HALF OUR TEAM WAS NOT BORN HERE. WE DON’T CARE ONCE YOU’RE HERE, YOU’RE HERE, AND DAMMIT WE RIDE OUT. WE BELIEVE WE ARE THE BEST, AND WE BELIEVE NO ONE CAN COMPETE WITH US. WE MAY NOT BE GOOD BUT DAMMIT WE ARE AMERICA AND IN AMERICA YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE GOOD YOU JUST HAVE TO BE AMERICAN. DOES THAT NOT MAKE SENSE TO YOU?! WELL GUESS WHAT A LOT OF THINGS HERE DON’T MAKE SENSE BUT RIGHT NOW IT DOESN’T HAVE TO. ALL THAT MATTERS IS WHEREVER YOU ARE. WHEREVER YOU GO. YOU PUT YOUR HAND OVER YOUR CHEST AND YOU RECITE THE NATIONAL ANTHEM LIKE YOU NEVER HAVE BEFORE AND YOU LET THE WORLD KNOW THAT AMERICA FUCKING ROCKS AND THIS WORLD CUP IS OURS

Team U.S.A celebrate during the 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match between Ghana and the U.S. at the Dunas arena

PLAY THE MUSIC

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Want Results? Make Sure It’s Trending

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“We can celebrate for a little bit, but we have to remain focused because there’s more work to be done”.

 

It’s a very old cliché that you always hear from athletes as they strive for championships and greatness. It’s also something that can be said for achievements in life. When you do great on the SAT test, get accepted to a well acclaimed university, or even something as simple as building a desk for your brand new room, you know there is always more work to be done.

 

I will never lose my love for sports simply for the fact that sports more than anything, can bring so many people together to stand up to something, or bring more unity. We will hate each other during election years. We will hate each other when it comes to a tragedy involving religion whether it happens in our own country or outside in the world. Heck people were even divided in pro sports with the rising number of individuals coming out as gay. But when an issue arises that affects everyone, especially in sports, you tend to see a unity you won’t find in many more situations even if it’s a much bigger issue than sports.

 

When it comes to racism in the world there are those who believe it no longer exists, those who believe it’s all over and is involved in everything that happens in the world, and there are those who know it still exists but understand that it doesn’t always show up. When racism is exhibited you find yourself seeing boundaries and wonder if you should attempt to cross them or not. If someone is racist towards you how do you react? Do you even bother to tell someone else? To African-Americans, being called the N word by non-African Americans can be the most detrimental thing you can say to a person. To non-African Americans, the worst thing you can call them is a racist. NO one wants to be called a racist. You can hurt a man or woman by calling them a name such as a bitch; in fact, in today’s society in my generation you can hurt someone’s feelings by labeling them as a fake. But when you speak the words “you’re a racist” to a person of any race it strikes harder than anything else.

 

When it comes to racism people never want to acknowledge it. A person will admit when they are a liar, a fraud, a cheater, or a criminal but never will anyone admit that he or she is a racist. Along with a person never admitting to being one, a person will never admit to being associated with one. Whenever a racial incident happens the first words you hear are “I am not a racist nor have I ever been or have ever associated with people who are racist”. It’s the most basic, generic and fake guilt response you can provide. People would rather cover up knowing that they associate with a racist than admit to it and try to change the person that is deemed as their racist associate.

 

So maybe this was what the NBA was thinking for the past 32 years.

 

Two weeks ago TMZ released a phone conversation of NBA Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his girlfriend/mistress V. Stiviano. The audio was recorded by Stiviano without Sterling’s consent, and no one knows how the recording ended up in the hands of TMZ, but that is neither here or there. The fact is that when the recording was released it caused a catastrophic wave in the sports industry. Here you have the longest tenured owner in league history bashing the leagues most predominant race that makes up its brand. A man whose team is 90 percent African-American was heard seemingly implying that he owns them.  His words were hurtful and shocking to all of us.  It was something that popped up after his team had just finished a terrific game versus its opponent, the Golden State Warriors, in game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Something that wasn’t even a story dropped by the great Adrian Wojinarowski, but instead by TMZ, casting a ginormous black cloud over a league that was arguably in the midst of its best overall postseason in years.

 

But when you look at the whole picture nothing should really shock you.

 

With the rise of technology and the Internet, social media is the biggest format to create, attract, and deliver attention to any subject. The case is always evident when involved with politics, religion, and celebrities. If social media were not a factor in our ways of life celebrities wouldn’t use it as a way to clear up rumors. If social media was not the biggest format to spread word, LeBron James would never meet Ebony Nettles-Bey, a Wisconsin basketball player who is battling stage 4 cancer. Nettles-Bey’s dream was to meet LeBron James, leading to the twitter hashtag #LeBronMeetEbony which then become a dominant trending topic for months. The topic reached such publicity that ESPN did a story and shortly months later  while the Miami Heat were on the road to face the Milwaukee Bucks, Lebron granted Ebony her wish and met her and even let her hang out with him and the team during pregame routines and introductions. It was a touching moment that not only felt awesome, but also felt unique and cool. For something like twitter to be the platform to pull this off for a high school girl is something that shows what we can look forward to in the future. Social media will never die; it is the greatest display of the natural form of the gift and the curse and what we do with it is up to us individually, but we’ve reached that phase where nothing can truly be great or happen without it.

 

In the case of the Donald Sterling saga, you can make the argument that without social media, the anger that stems from his comments and the outburst of reactions and a call for action from the NBA onto Sterling could possibly never happen. To us individuals whom are not lucky enough to be paid to cover sports (one day I will!) the closest way before social media in regards to knowing what was happening was through SportsCenter and local newspapers. Along with social media’s rise came the access to knowing more than we could ever know. Twitter allows us to not want nor even need SportsCenter anymore. The simplicity of looking on your phone and following the beat writers who spend their days and nights with your favorite team in order to give you the information you need is equivalent to Christmas being everyday for sports fans. Even when reporters are national instead of local league writers, their job of covering teams requires them to interact with not only the players, but also the coaching staff, training staff, and front office including PR, the general manager, team president, and of course the owner of the team.

 

So of course only Donald Sterling surprised us fans.

 

What spawned as results of the tapes were questions and issues that should have been answered and taken care of years ago, but for some reason merely never happened. Articles that were written almost a decade ago were being recognized and acknowledged now, when they clearly should have been acknowledged at the time of the release. We found out that what Sterling was saying was just “Sterling being Sterling”. Nothing changed for Sterling even after he made the record 2.75 million dollar settlement after being sued by the Department of Justice for housing discrimination. After being sued for allegedly refusing to rent apartments in Beverly Hills and Koreatown to African-Americans, and Hispanics as well as people with children, Sterling was never punished by the NBA. Even before his 2009 settlement, in 2003 19 plaintiffs sued Sterling for housing discrimination alleging that he was trying to drive blacks and Hispanics out of his buildings. With two settled lawsuits, Sterling’s views/hatred/senile mind or whatever you choose to see it as was clearly on display to see.

 

The NBA did nothing, but there was no trending topic around either.

 

I first found out about who Donald Sterling was in 2011 while listening to ESPN’S Bomani Jones radio show. The topic was about how Sterling decided to have a black history night during a Los Angeles Clippers game. The problem was not the fact that Sterling was having black history night there is nothing wrong with honoring black history month at all.

 

The problem was that black history month is in February and this game was in March.

 

At the time it seemed funny. It had the wow factor and shock value as well, but it didn’t seem like an issue, especially considering it was not a headline story on any news channel. Considering what is headlining news this week, one would obviously think a wrong night for a celebration for black history month seems like it could gain much news attraction right? So when the Sterling issue arose we were shocked, we haven’t seen such clear-cut racist remarks from a person in high power in quite sometime. I had to sit back and listen to the recording several times.  After the first listen along with reading stories and hearing reactions to Donald Sterling, I came to only three conclusions after re-listening to the recorded conversation once again:

  1. What Donald Sterling said truly shouldn’t have surprised me at all.
  2. Remember he is 80 years old after all.
  3. This is as much about Donald Sterling as it is about the NBA and the LA community letting him get away with these incidents, and continuing to let him own the team and award him!

The first conclusion is sad considering it shouldn’t have surprised me. The second stems from the fact that the elderly simply grew up in a different world and if you’re expecting their views and beliefs to change then you’re also expecting me to be president once I’m eligible at the age of 35 (Vote Brandon Dugger for president 2026).

 

It’s the third conclusion that needs to be dealt with.

 

Amidst all of this with the lawsuit settlements, being sued by the Department of Justice twice, and not to forget NBA great and a former employer Elgin Baylor suing Sterling for discrimination, the NBA never did ANYTHING. Not only did the NBA do nothing, but Sterling was somehow awarded a lifetime achievement award by the NAACP. Not only was he given this lifetime achievement award, but before this incident Sterling was slated to receive a SECOND lifetime achievement award by the same Los Angeles NAACP chapter. Somehow Donald Sterling was able to receive a lifetime achievement award, die, then come back to life and receive another lifetime achievement award.

 

Oh he didn’t die and come back?828341675

 

In the aftermath of the incident, Sterling was indefinitely suspended by the NBA, and ironically, new NBA commissioner Adam Silver. David Stern retired just in time to not have to answer to why HE never punished Sterling, but as long as justice is served the people will be satisfied.

 

But Sterling came back.

 

This week both Donald Sterling and his wife Shelly Sterling conducted interviews: Shelly with Barbra Walters and Donald with Anderson Cooper. While Shelly went on to say that she does not think her husband is a racist and insist that she is divorcing him, she made a claim that she intends to fight the NBA in order to keep her stake in the team. This the wife of a man who settled for the largest settlement for a discrimination case, and also a woman who allegedly pretended to be a housing inspector in order to see whom was living there.  Now all of sudden does not think her husband is a racist, nor did she think it was him on the tape even though they have been married for over 50 years. On Anderson Cooper Sterling cried, pleaded that the players love him, and that he will be back.

 

Then conclusions 1 & 2 showed up right on time.

 

In the interview Sterling was asked about his comments in the phone conversation about Magic in which he replied:

 

“STERLING:  What has he done?  Can you tell me?  Big Magic Johnson, what has he done?

COOPER:  Well, he has — he’s a businessperson.  He –

STERLING:  He’s got AIDS.  Did he do any business?  I would like — did he help anybody in South L.A.? “

He later went on to state he had talked to the other 29 NBA owners and said that they supported him then seconds later retracted the statement. The man has no idea what is truly happening around him and I feel like at 80 years old it shouldn’t be surprising.

Donald Sterling will eventually fade away. It won’t be as smooth and quickly as everyone would hope; it will be messy and more disturbing through the court system, but it will happen. When it does everyone will look back and ask questions that may never be answered such as

  1. How was this man the longest tenured owner in the league despite his team never being good?
  2. Great that he is gone, but why was he allowed to stay this long?
  3. If we never have the audience that is social media, is this even an issue?

At the end this is a case of another person being who they have always been for their entire lives. It shouldn’t have taken an uprise of tweets, or Instagram and Facebook postings to get Sterling exiled, and just because he is banned doesn’t mean that all is well….

But I guess nothing can truly happen until you’re trending.

 

Stop Changing The Channel Before You Lose The Remote

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Everyone does it, this used to include me.

Up until this season, I was just like every other sports fan. No matter what you could do as a star in the NBA I felt the need to compare what you did or who you were to someone of the past.  For my generation it is always “Kobe already did it”, or “Kobe wouldn’t have let that happen”. For those older than me the first person used is always Michael Jordan followed by Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Julius Erving, Charles Barkley and so many others. We see it all the time on TV where the analyst has to compare players of the past to the stars of the league now and you always see that for some reason the stars of today can never get to the level of past superstars.

We need to stop that.

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Yesterday Kevin Durant received his first NBA MVP trophy after a season in which he averaged 32.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 5.5 assist per game. It was a long time coming for Durant, who has been widely regarded as one of the top players in the world and known as the best scorer in the NBA. He doesn’t necessarily have the marquee nickname like how LeBron James has “King James” and Kobe Bryant has “The Black Mamba”. When when we tried to give him one earlier in the season and he jokingly tried to give himself one with “The Servant”, it never stuck and everyone simply went back to calling him “KD”. He doesn’t have the nickname, but he doesn’t need it. He’s a top 3 player in the league, now a league MVP, and yet it seems no matter what the world will not be ready to appreciate Kevin Durant or in fact, any other uprising young superstar in the NBA.

It’s time for a change (I owe you one Barack).

When watching the press conference for KD the one thing that truly blew my mind is the fact that what we’ve been witnessing has been going seven years strong. I immediately went on YouTube and watched the highlights of his rookie season and was fascinated. It feels like Durant has only been in the league five years.

As a Los Angeles Lakers fan, my first true glimpse of KD did not come until the 2010 playoffs when the Lakers and Thunder squared off in the first round. The series went six games, but I remember it not being easy considering the series clinching game was won on a put back by Pau Gasol. After that season the Thunder kept getting better every year, similar to what we’ve witnessed with the Indiana Pacers over the past three years.

During the NBA lockout when players weren’t at meetings they were playing charity all-star games. During the summer of 2011 Durant showed up to New York City and put on a 66-point performance at the Annual EBC Rucker classic in Harlem. Rucker Park is the symbolic sanctuary of street basketball. Anyone who is anyone has attended the Rucker whether they were a spectator or a player like Durant was.   Later on in 2012 Durant made the United States Olympics men’s national basketball team. In the Olympics Durant averaged 19.5 points per game and capped it off with a 30 point, 9 rebound performance in the gold medal game against Spain. After his Olympic performance his stock shot up higher and eventually cultivated to having us where are today.

When I saw that Kevin Durant was in his 7th season it made me wonder how long other players have actually been in the league, including this season:

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LeBron James: 11

Dwayne Wade: 11

Carmelo Anthony: 11

Chris Bosh: 11

Dwight Howard: 10

Chris Paul: 9

LaMarcus Aldridge: 8

Russell Westbrook: 6

Derrick Rose: 5

Stephen Curry: 5

Blake Griffin: 4

Paul George: 4

Kyrie Irving: 3

It is a very sample sized list, but at the same time it is meant to be the focus of this piece. As a Lakers fan I have been blessed to watch the greatness of Kobe Bryant for over the past decade, but while watching these playoffs and seeing how much fun it has been it didn’t even cross my mind that there was no Kobe for me to tune into for a Western conference game. For the most part of the season there has been no Kobe at all, and it might have made me a better overall basketball fan. Regardless of how the season panned out, I still watched the Lakers play (Swaggy P you’re the best), but at the same time I watched other teams and appreciated what I was tuning into.

Jordan-LBJ

Say what you want, but no one appreciated how truly great LeBron James was until about 2 years ago. For eight seasons, all you ever heard about LeBron was that he would never be like Michael Jordan no matter what he did.   When he wasn’t being compared to MJ, he was being compared to Kobe. Here’s what I don’t understand.  Everyone in the world knows what Michael Jordan did, and what Kobe has done, so is there really a need for the “He can never be Jordan or Kobe” sentence to be sputtering out every time a player in today’s NBA does accomplish something? Take talking to adults for instance. The first thing they say is that the players today could never play in the league back during their childhood and how the league is supremely soft. It is never a compliment from these people, only criticism over harebrained situations that can never happen, such as “LeBron would never have been able to dunk on Patrick Ewing”.

Memphis Grizzlies v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Seven

At the end of the day there is a reason the past is the past. It’s a time frame that has happened and will never come back. There are players whom in the future will have their idols be players not named Michael Jordan, and for those kids the first thing you should not say is “kid you know nothing about basketball”. Instead understand that there is a new generation of stars in the league that the kids have that they can look up to.  For those of us who are in the midst of watching these great players, lets enjoy what we are watching without saying “Man Jordan would have made that shot Mr. Durant”. Instead lets just appreciate what we have in front of us because soon they’ll retire and appreciating something once it’s gone is never the same as during the situation, especially when they will never be back.

I’d Rather Drink Tea Than Eat An Apple

The greatest rivalry in sports 

The greatest rivalry in sports

New York City is the greatest city in the universe. Have I traveled to every city in the universe? No, but as a New Yorker we are taught that the travel is not needed because you live in the city that others want to travel to. We do our best to avoid Times Square at all times because it is tourist heaven. We cower at the simple thought of anyone standing on a corner with their inestimable subway map high up in the air to determine how to get from Times Square to Union Square; it’s just simply not the New York way. In this city you’re built up to even if you do not know where you are going you at least make it seem like you most certainly do. Call it being arrogant, call it being stubborn, call it whatever you want but never underestimate that this is the New York way, and if you don’t like the way you know where you can go to solve that issue.

For as much as we cringe at the tourists, you can’t help but feel a little jealousy.  The way you feel when you book a trip to Los Angeles or Miami they feel about New York. Imagine being a kid and your parents coming up to you saying “Guess what WE’RE GOING TO NEW YORK!” how excited would you be? You can’t help but understand that for the millions of us who see all the sights and hear all the sounds on an everyday basis, there are those who only see this maybe once a year, if ever.

Things like trips to New York or any other city with your family can turn into a tradition. It can become something that you are raised into supporting and doing for your entire life. The same happens when it comes to sports. It’s a tradition amongst families to pass down the support of favorite team from one generation to the next. If your parents and grandparents were raised as Mets fans chances are you will be raised to support the Metropolitans too. You learn about the teams’ past and the ups and downs. You’re taught how to be a true fan and how to forever bleed the colors. You gain the aspect of loyalty and learn to understand how to support something no matter what happens, good or bad. There is no jumping ship allowed. The family will always ride or die for this team. No matter the season, you go in thinking your team will be the best before and once and the season is over.

Things like that make me jealous.

I am the youngest of five children, two boys and three girls to be exact.  With my father not being around there wasn’t much of a male influence in my household. My older brother played sports, but I learned about sports on my own. I decided to play little league baseball after watching Ken Griffey JR for the first time. My first true memory of ever watching basketball is Michael Jordan crying on the floor in the locker room after the 1996 Chicago Bulls won the first of their second three peats of NBA championships. As I grew older I watched more and more sports. It wasn’t just me watching Sportscenter on ESPN anymore; it was me watching entire games. It was more than just simply overhearing two people discuss what’s going on, it was me picking up the newspaper before getting on the train to school just too simply read the sports section and establish my own opinion. I felt as though I was committing a cardinal in the sports world, I was loving sports but without a team to truly root for.  It was something I never had to do because no one in my family truly knew about sports and established any type of connection to a team. It is one thing to remember the same highlights that everyone else knew, but I knew that deep down I wanted a team to support. I had jerseys of all players from across the league, particularly baseball. My first jersey was a Mike Piazza Mets jersey, courtesy of me going to my first baseball game at Shea Stadium as a kid. After that I had a Sammy Sosa jersey, an Alex Rodriguez jersey, and a Ken Griffey JR jersey. I remember being in sixth grade and these jerseys were the only things I wore during summer school.

When I was 12 years old I was, at least in my mind, old enough to truly watch baseball and understand what was going on. I remember watching game seven of the 2003 ALCS between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. Of course, we all know how that ended: Aaron Boone blasting a solo home run to the top of the left field bleachers in the bottom of the 11th inning, sending the Yankees to the World Series.

The summer of 2004 it finally happened.

Love at first punch

Love at first punch

It was July 24th 2004. I was sitting at home watching the Yankees versus Red Sox at Fenway Park. It was the Fox Five game of week, so that meant Joe Buck was announcing. The game gave everything a sports fan could possibly want. A high scoring game between two rival teams that provided no shortage of drama. It was the top of the third inning and Alex Rodriguez was up to face Bronson Arroyo. The Yankees were already up 3-0 after RBIs by Hideki Matsui, Tony Clark and Garry Sheffield, with the Red Sox not even registering a hit. Arroyo hit A-Rod with a pitch on his elbow. As A-Rod started walking towards first base he started jawing at Arroyo, next thing you know Jason Varitek is jawing with A-Rod and then, FIGHT NIGHT. A-Rod and Varitek start going at it meanwhile, Gabe Kapler starts fighting Tanyon Sturtze who then decided to take on Trot Nixon and David Ortiz, heck even Kenny Lofton was involved in a fight! It was madness before during and even after the fight. The game went back and forth and with the Yankees being up 9-4, you would think it’s time to change the channel and watch something else.

But I couldn’t help but watch.

It was 9-4 Yankees in the bottom of the sixth inning. Bill Mueller hits a sacrifice fly to center field with Nomar Garciaparra on third base and Trot Nixon on second, 9-5. Mark Bellhorn comes up and hits a double scoring Nixon and bringing over Kevin Milar to third base, 9-6. Johnny Damon singles to left bringing Milar home while Bellhorn moves to third and a walked David Ortiz heads over to second, 9-7. Manny Ramirez is then walked while the bases are loaded to make it 9-8 Yankees. After a solo home run in the 7th inning by Ruben Sierra, the Yankees go into the bottom of the 9th up 10-8 with Mariano Rivera on the mound to get the save.

Garciaparra doubles.

Milar singles to right, Garciaparra scores 10-9.

With a man on base and down by a run, Bill Mueller steps up to face the greatest closer of all time. With one swing to center field I showed emotion I didn’t know I had. Mueller hit a game winning walk off home run to give the Red Sox an 11-10 dramatic win. It is personally the greatest baseball game I have ever watched because it gave me everything I could ask for, heck let’s call it a classic. It supplied the drama that sports fans crave when arch rivals get together, and for future tense it helped set up another playoff classic between these two teams in the 2004 ALCS. Most importantly it gave me the feeling of what it’s like to root for someone. It made me a fan, for the first time I was able to say I had a favorite team in a professional sport and I told myself I would support this team through the good and the bad.

I became a fan during the right season as I witnessed the greatest comeback in playoff history and witness the curse being broken. I remember my first Red Sox hat being a pinstriped cap with the Boston logo on the front. I truly thought it was the greatest hat ever. I was able to enjoy another championship season in 2007; but at the same time I felt as though tough times were coming along, and my true loyalty would be tested. My favorite players began to leave the team whether through trades, free agency, or simply being old and deciding to retire. Some players left and I supported wherever they went. I remember supporting the Dodgers simply because Manny Ramirez was on the team, even when he went on to the Chicago White Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays, but I still stayed loyal to the boys at Fenway.

For four years I endured the harsh reality of living on your own and being away for college. Four years of me coming home to New York only when I had school breaks or for the summer. During these years the fact that I couldn’t come home made me miss everything about my city. The sights, the sounds, the people, the food, I even missed those silly tourist families with their subway maps. I missed them because whenever I had to chance to come home I felt like them. I would land at the airport or get off the bus or train and just feel excited that I was finally in the city that’s great, it’s named twice. There was nothing about it that wasn’t missed; whether it’s the food trucks, the dollar pizzas, even the lovely homeless across the city, I missed everything about home.

I even missed those damn Yankees.

I watched them win the 2009 World Series and felt happy. I even went to the parade because it gave me an excuse for going home. I missed New York so much that I even promised my girlfriend I would become a Yankee fan once Jorge Posada was retired. Was it a promise I could fulfill? Absolutely not, but I was missing home so much that I thought I could change.

I’m glad I never did.

For the past three years I have been fortunate enough to attend at least on Yankee game per season, and if I attend one it is for sure to be a Yankee vs Red Sox game. Every time I go I get chills. The thrill of the stadium, the thought of getting such delicious food and drinks.

I also get the feeling of excitement knowing my team has arrived.

Best seats ever

Best seats ever

I take in the joy when the crowd is silent or booing because their precious Yankees are losing. I accept when I have to endure the mockery of my friends and girlfriend when the Yankees are winning and the Red Sox are not. It’s fun this way, and if I can’t have fun I don’t want to be involved. Over the weekend my girlfriend and I attended the Red Sox – Yankee game at Yankee stadium. We arrived early in order to take in the entire stadium experience; for her it was nothing new but to me it was everything. I toured the famous monument park where all the greats are enshrined forever. I visited a club suite where their ceiling lights are trading cards of Yankee greats. Our seats were the first row behind right field right where the W.B Mason sign is. All of this was great. A beautiful night out with great people, atmosphere and beautiful weather.

The only thing that could’ve made it perfect would be a Red Sox win.

Jonny Gomes

Jonny Gomes

I was giddy over the matchup with it being Jon Lester vs CC Sabathia. I was nervous when Alfonso Soriano hit a home run quickly out of the park. I endured a roaring Yankee crowd and girlfriend who couldn’t help but laugh at me and thought of her team losing; then Jonny saved me. In the 6th inning Jonny Gomes blasted a home run left field that tied the game and brought me out of my seat. Later in the inning as I went to get another round of awesome chicken fingers I watched on the screen as Grady Sizemore blasted a three run home run to right field exactly where our seats were, but it was great because they were winning. In the end the Red Sox were victorious and it turns out it would be the only win they got in this four game series. In this complicated story of being a fan I found myself more dedicated. I want to know not just the stars, but the entire roster. I want to know who could be coming up in the minor leagues and who might be getting shipped out. I want to pay attention to the contract talks and at the end of the day I want to be supportive of my team.

So cheers to you boys in Fenway, in the city that hates everything about you (until you join their team right Jacoby?!) I’ve finally managed to accept that this forever complicated relationship will remain that way; complicated. I promise to never stop supporting thee and forever hold you up like the subway map that Ben and Jane Foster from Wichita Kansas do on 42nd and Broadway.

Now let’s get back-to-back championships.

Sympathy For A Scapegoat

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In life choices have to be made. People face decisions that can make an impact on so many people whether the impact is for good or for bad. When making a decision a person can tend to not think of those who will be effected by what he or she will do. In sports the choices are made all the time, not all are seen as good moves, whether it is a star player being traded or a player leaving on his own to go to another team, owners wanting new arenas for their teams which results in the raising of ticket prices; more than ever the world of sports and the world of business financials are synced together. In the world of sports controversy can create cash. The fall of a major superstar can create attraction simply based off the wonder of whether or not the star can make a comeback. No one had a clue when Kobe Bryant was going to return from his torn Achilles injury but you probably could have made a bet that opening night was going to be sold out in anticipation that he would be there in action.

No professional sport over the past decade and a half has had more controversy than Major League Baseball. It seemed like from the late 1990’s until now there was always a scandal happening and the scandal was focused on one thing and one thing only, Performance Enhancing Drugs. This year baseball was back in the headlines with the Biogenesis scandal. Early last year Major League Baseball investigated Anthony Bosch and his Biogenesis clinic in Florida for allegedly providing major league players with performance enhancing drugs. The main culprits were New York Yankees third basemen Alex Rodriguez, and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun. Along with them twelve other players were supposedly involved in the scandal. In the end the scandal that was Biogenesis delivered a black eye to game of baseball that MLB thought had gone away years ago. Ryan Braun accepted a deal with MLB that involved him being suspended for 65 games with no pay. Twelve players including Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz were all suspended 50 games without pay but the suspension allowed the players to play in the postseason had their respective teams made the playoffs. Alex Rodriguez received the worst of all with a suspension that not only was slated keep him from playing for the rest of the 2013 season BUT all of next season as well (He ended up appealing his suspension and playing the rest of the season as the appeal went on). The suspensions were brutal. The scandal was the worse thing for baseball since the Pete Rose gambling controversy. Major League Baseball is doing all it can to put the steroid era behind but the era doesn’t seem to want to take its foot off the gas. Is what MLB doing purely for the love of the game? or is this bigger than cleaning up the game?

If you cheat and are caught then you deserve to be punished. No matter the circumstances it is a protocol that pretty much everyone can agree on. What you did was try and get ahead of everyone else. You thought that you could get an edge by sneaking around and finding a loop hole that only you knew of. When you are caught you deserve all the punishment that comes, but is there ever a time where you feel that maybe what happened to the alleged cheater is a bit to much? That those who are out to catch the cheater might have taken it a bit too far? In Alex Rodriguez’s case this could be very true.

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This past weekend Alex Rodriguez learned that he would be suspended for the entire upcoming 2014 MLB season following the ruling of his appeal by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz. The suspension includes the postseason if the New York Yankees make it. The ruling came after Horowitz heard a testimony from Anthony Bosch of Biogenesis, and evidence that included numerous text messages between A-Rod and Bosch, and maybe most importantly the testimony that Rodriguez did not give. Alex Rodriguez had the chance to testify and defend himself that all that he is being accused of is wrong. but he chose not to which did not help his case and now he is missing the whole season because of it.

This is not really about Alex Rodriguez, but more about Major League Baseball and commissioner Bud Selig. For twenty-two years Bud Selig watched over baseball and depending on what you believe, watched the steroid era happen and did nothing until there was pressure to do something. For the most part it is hard for you to find a person who does not think Barry Bonds was on steroids. Has Bonds ever failed a drug test? No but neither did Mark McGwire. McGwire only came out because he was coming back into baseball as a hitting coach for the St.Louis Cardinals. The 2003 Mitchell report only included Barry Bonds and till this day Bonds has not admitted to using steroids. In 2009 Sports Illustrated reported that in 2003 MLB conducted a survey to see if players were using steroids and 104 players turned out to test positive for performance enhancing drugs. The players were never punished because MLB commissioner Bud Selig and the players association came to an agreement that this was just a simple survey to determine if should change its drug policy. In 2004 the government was investigating 10 MLB players in connection to the BALCO scandal. During the investigation the government seized test results from a lab in California that MLB was using. The results were supposed to stay confidential but somehow were leaked. The SI report only named Rodriguez and the two drugs he tested positive for. A list later leaked that included players such as David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, but not only was the list not ever confirmed, but the list only named seven players. The only player confirmed on a list of 104 was Rodriguez which led to him admitting to using Ped’s.

Just like with the SI report the Biogenesis was based off a report that came from a former employer who then told the goods to a Miami newspaper. MLB decided to investigate Biogenesis by having Anthony Bosch be sued this way he can testify in court, but instead of going that route he decided to cooperate with MLB who in turned paid $125,000 dollars for evidence such as text messages between Rodriguez and Bosch from a guy named “Bobby”. Along with the payment MLB is paying for security to be around Bosch and all his legal fees as part of the agreement so that in return he testifies against Rodriguez. During Rodriguez’s appeal commissioner Selig decided not to testify and Rodriguez stormed out. During this whole process Rodriguez has felt that MLB is after him, and that they have nothing on him to present.

““The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one. This is one man’s decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement, and relies on testimony and documents that would never have been allowed in any court in the United States because they are false and wholly unreliable. This injustice is MLB’s first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, and further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review. ” – Alex Rodriguez statement after learning of his suspension.

Alex-Rodriguez

This was the first paragraph of Rodriguez’s statement following the news of his suspension. Of course he is going to say something like this and defend himself to the fullest, but is this simply just a defense? We know that MLB is the place for guaranteed contracts unlike other pro sports. A-Rod was the first to command a $300 million dollar contract. He is the guy who opted out of his contact to receive a 10 year $300 million dollar deal. He is the inspiration behind guys like Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano, and maybe soon Clayton Kershaw receiving contracts worth up to $300 million. He is also the guy that everyone assumed would be the next great home run hitter. He was supposed to not only break Barry Bonds record of 762 career home runs, but become the first man to hit 800, and most importantly the man to do it cleanly. We know he has admitted to using PEDS while with the Texas Rangers, but that was based off a leaked survey that was never supposed to come out. This is whole entirely different situation.

At some point everyone who has watched this drag on his just hoped for A-Rod to simply give up and go away. Not many have ever put to to thought of what if there is something we do not know. The players who all took their suspensions due to the Biogenesis scandal were told of the evidence that MLB had and decided that it was a fight they could not win.

Except Alex Rodriguez.

He said MLB was bluffing, that they did not have evidence that could withstand in court. He walked out on his arbitration hearing after commissioner Selig declined to testify. Major League Baseball’s drug policy states that players who fail drug test for the first time are suspended for fifty games, after that a second offense is 100 games, and a third is a lifetime ban from the game. If this is the case then why is Alex Rodriguez being suspended for 162 games when he has never failed a drug test? What is so vastly different between what Rodriguez is alleged to have done and what the players who did accept the suspensions have done that has caused such a different attack by Major League Baseball. One has to wonder if MLB would pay $125,000 dollars for evidence on Nelson Cruz from a guy named Bobby. His name is Bobby. No last name because MLB never got his last name.

Hustlers Hustle. They see an opportunity when they have one, and go get it. Bud Selig is entering his final year as commissioner. In an era that is tainted by cheating commissioner Selig has never been able to purely catch one of the biggest stars cheating red handed and make him his poster child for what will happen if you try to cheat the game.We only know McGwire cheated because he wanted back in baseball and knew he would have to answer questions. We will never know if Barry Bonds truly ever used performance enhancing drugs. If not for the SI report we would never know if Rodriguez truly ever did either. So if you are a retiring commissioner what better way to go out then with a extreme dagger that shows that you stepped and took down the steroid era. You will be remembered for so many great things, but everyone will remember that you did not let this steroid era just breeze on by without action. With taking down Rodriguez you have your poster boy. You have your guy that you can show the world and say ” This is what happens when you cheat. Do you want to be like this guy?” If this is what Selig wanted then paying $125,000 for information from a guy named Bobby was the only way to go. It was the only way to show the world what happens when you cheat, and think you can get away with it quicker than Ricky Henderson stolen base.

Then you have to wonder what if Alex Rodriguez is right? What if the evidence that MLB has on him is actually flawed and cannot prove that he used steroids. It’s a fight you have to continue to fight if you’re Rodriguez, but if this is just a fight he’s doing knowing that what MLB has on him is legit then he should give up. At the end of the day we might truly never know who is telling the truth in all of this, but for now Rodriguez can plan as many vacations as he wants to for the rest of 2014 while commissioner Selig rides out into the retirement sunset. He may never play another game again, and for a guy who has won three league MVP awards, a world series championship, multiple all-star team selections and gold gloves it’s a sad possible ending for a guy who was slated to be the greatest of all time.

Facebook Taught Me

2013 NBA Finals - Game Seven

Six years.

Six years is how long I’ve been a loyal member of Facebook. When I first signed on it made me feel like the coolest kid ever. I knew about it because of my older brother, but at the time it was only for college kids so the simple wonder of what it was like made me want to join. Myspace will forever be Myspace, there is nothing Facebook can do to ever make the feel the way I felt when G-Unit was my profile song, and I had the newest Stone Cold Steve Austin wallpaper (Before I became Mr. Cool and made it Cosign Squad), But I needed something new and there was Facebook ready to open its glorious social arms to me.

It started off with a bang, poking girls you had crushes on, when you got a new girlfriend you had to make it that you were in a relationship, it was the little things that you couldn’t do on Myspace that made us love Facebook. You will find those who make the claim they never loved Facebook, but people also say they don’t love sweet potato pie which is to say there is a such thing as a person who is in complete denial.

Facebook now is not what it used to be. I see it more as for just another social media website. I think it just happens as you get older, you don’t do things that you did when you were a reckless teen trying to make sure you had a date for when everyone wanted to go to alpine after the football game. Now I see it as the website where my relatives tag me in things I have no reason to be tagged in. Facebook is still very useful to store images, keep in contact with distance friends, and then theres the lovely 2 am dramatic post about how your life sucks ever since breaking bad ended, and the “why is everyone hating on me and caring about what I do? ITS MY LIFE HATERS” post that we have all grown to love and adore.

I log onto to Facebook everyday. For no particular reason I just feel like it has to be on my tabs while I’m on the computer. Today when I clicked on Facebook it let me know that I could see my 2013 year in review. “Review? I barley post anything on this site anymore” I thought to myself until I clicked on my review and noticed it was postings from Instagram and a few statuses that I came up with over the course of the entire year. Later on Google released an advertisement showcasing their own personal review of the highlights of this past year, and it got me thinking, what are my favorite moments of 2013? In  this particular situation what are my favorite sports moments of 2013. This took longer than I expected, it seemed as though every time I had a set list another moment popped into my so I decided to make a top seven list. On the 7th day of January I made a post about my seven favorite sports moments of 2013.

And incase you were wondering. Seven is my favorite number.

(This List is no particular order).

1. Miami Heat Harlem Shake

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At the beginning of the year one of the most popular songs out was Harlem Shake by Bauer. The song actually does not have an official music video, but a fan decided to make one with himself and his college friends. The video starts with a group of people in the room with either one person dancing solo while everyone else pretends to ignore him/her or a group of individuals dance, once the actual be drops everyone channels their inner kid and goes berserk with obscene moves that only their mother could love. The video struck gold and became an internet phenomenon. Hundreds of thousands of amateur videos to the song were uploaded to youtube, heck even the job I was working at the time thought of making our own version. One day I checked my twitter feed to LeBron James post a youtube link and behold the magic that was. Ray Allen dancing? D-Wade as the Kanye West mascot? This was way to priceless and still is.

2. Kobe Dunks on Brooklyn Nets.

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Anything Kobe does amazes me. Along with being a sad and loyal New York Knicks fan, I also happen to be a Los Angeles Lakers fan. During the inaugural season of The Brooklyn Nets Kobe decided to show us all that even at old age you can still get up on guys when needed. Its safe to say Brooklyn got the memo.

3. LeBron James Dunks on Jason Terry but Jim Ross Makes it Even Sweeter.

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics mkhic3

Oh nostalgia how you make love the internet more than I already do. As a kid I was always glued to the television screen to watch wrestling. Everything about it was cooler than anything else on the entire planet so when this 1998 Hell in The Cell match between The Undertaker and Mankind went down the young me was excited. Two minutes later life changed.

Fifteen years later Nostalgia proved its loyalty. During a game between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat LeBron James caught an alley-oop and destroyed Celtics guard Jason Terry, Later on a genius unknown took the commentary from announcer Jim Ross and added it to when James dunked on Terry. I fell in love on sight

4. Mariano Rivera’s Last Game at Yankee Stadium

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A little known fact about me. New Yorker born and raised. Red Sox fan. There are not many like me in this great city, but here I am. Nonetheless I know to appreciate greatness no matter the uniform you wear, and I couldn’t help but watch and slightly tear during Mariano Rivera’s last game at Yankee Stadium. The fact that he is retiring doesn’t seem right but the fitting was perfect with teammates Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte coming to take him out. He cried man, the sandman cried.

5. Johnny Football

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Johnny Manziel is THE MAN. OvO Johnny came from out of no where in 2012 to being the man by seasons end and picking the Heisman trophy as a FRESHMAN. After a summer in which all he did was party and drink like the rest of us college kids love to do, he became public enemy number one to some. Johnny couldn’t wait to play and shut the world up and he did. This is not really a favorite moment, but more of me stating Johnny Football is my favorite athlete of 2013.

6. Boston Red Sox Win the 2013 World Series

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Your favorite baseball team wins the World Series. Is an explanation needed?

7. Auburn Game Winning Field Goal Return to Beat Alabama

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It’s a field goal return for a touchdown to beat the number one ranked team in country that just so happens to be your arch rival in the biggest game of the season (and to many of auburn the only game that matters). Moments like these are why sports rules and everything else drools.

And there it is. SEVEN. I could do ten if I wanted, heck i could do more, but seven is perfect. 2014 lets see what you have up your sleeve.

Oh and thanks a lot Facebook.

You Will Always Disagree Until it Happens to You

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For good or bad everyone has a right to express their opinion, if that was not the case I wouldn’t be sitting here typing away on something I have no clue if people will read (if you do read what I write HI AND THANK YOU). The opinions people have are not always the best, and most certainly not the smartest of thoughts, but that is why it’s an opinion, the opinion belongs to them and it’s not meant for you to try and change.

Side note: If people do not agree with your opinion they will change it.

Last week Miami Dolphins player Jonathan Martin left the team after being fed up with being bullied by teammate Pro Bowler Richie Incognito. At first no one knew why Martin left, he just left and his agent told his coaches and Dolphins management.

His agent asked to investigate what was going on that would cause his client to take off. At first the Dolphins denied anything until evidence showed up. Richie Incognito left a voice mail in which he threatened to kill Martin and called him a “Half Nigger piece of shit”. In a stadium program given out the week of Halloween Incognito named Martin as the easiest person to scare.

Football players are viewed by many as the toughest athletes because of brutality they give and receive on a weekly basis. It’s the sport that can make a man retire early simply to protect his health in the life after football, it’s also become the sport parents are always afraid of their young children playing. You put so much time and effort into lifting weights, running sprints, trying to be the alpha dog in a sport full of alpha dogs that you would never think that someone can actually be bullied right?

Perception.

There are those who understand Jonathan Martins side, and there are those who do not. There are people who have been bullied, and there are those who have not. The ones who feel like Martin should have stood up for himself are the same ones who feel like they 100% would have stood up to Incognito and not allowed him to bully him. The ones who disagree with Martin also will see this as the NFL getting “soft”, they will also be the first to tell you that if they have a simple ankle sprain they could still compete in any sport because they have more heart than the next guy.

The thing about those people is that more than likely they have never had any type of experience like what Martin is going through and have no way of even understanding. They simply see a headline like “NFL Player Claims Teammate Bullied Him” and think “wow that guy is soft”. It is one thing if you never experienced something before, but a completely different situation if you never experienced something and refuse to see the other side that includes the person who is experiencing it. I have never been bullied in my life but that doesn’t mean i am going to call an NFL player soft because he claims to have been bullied. People are so quick to judge and come up with opinions that they sometimes never even try to evaluate and process their actual thoughts before getting on a keyboard and typing away. At the end of the day Bullying is wrong, we’re so quick to wanna protect everyone from it but a Professional Athlete makes the claim and people are ready to shut the door before he can even ring the bell.

And for what it’s worth I bet anyone who thinks Jonathan Martin is soft wouldn’t agree to any amount of money to actually say it to his face.

Video

Pretty Sick

As the NBA season approaches most fans have already picked up the new NBA 2K14 video game to keep them satisfied. Next month Sony and Microsoft will release their highly anticipated next generation game consoles in the PlayStation 4 and XBOX One. 

Today the 2K Sports team released their trailer for their upcoming next gen version of NBA 2K14. It is safe to say that the next evolution of sports gaming (or for the moment just 2K Sports gaming) is going to be something we may not be ready for.

False Advertising

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This was supposed to be everything for the city of LA.

After back to back titles in 2009 and 2010 the Los Angeles Lakers were swept in the second round by the Dallas Mavericks in the the 2011 playoffs. Following the end of the season coach Phil Jackson decided to retire and Jim buss, son of owner Dr. Jerry Buss began to run the team. His first action was hiring former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown. The move was seen as his way of letting people know that this was his team with the star of the team Kobe Bryant voicing his opinion stating he wanted assistant coach at the time Brian Shaw to be the head coach. The 2011-2012 season did not kick off until christmas day due the players and owners engaging in lockout that produced a 66 game season. Before the season even started the Lakers made headlines by acquiring point guard Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets in a 3 team trade but the NBA blocked the trade in a fashion that still is mind boggling to this very day. Instead of the lakers Paul ended up being traded to the clippers in a trade that seemed to be worst than the laker trade. In the midst of all this forward Lamar Odom was unhappy with almost being traded and no longer wanted to play for the lakers and was soon traded to the Dallas Mavericks for a trade exception.

No Chris Paul, no Phil Jackson, The Jim Buss era was not off to the best starts to say the least. Under new coach Mike Brown the Lakers ended up making the playoffs only to be eliminated in the second round, this time by the Oklahoma City Thunder, this instead of a sweep they were eliminated in 5 games.

Two years of back to back NBA titles followed by two years of second round exits that were not competitive at all.

And then the summer of 2012 happened.

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It started with the shocking announcement that the Lakers had agreed to a sign and trade with their division rival the Phoenix Suns for point guard Steve Nash in exchange for draft picks. The move gave the lakers their best point guard in over a decade. A two time MVP who after years of being the best player on a bad team finally lands on a team with a chance to win a championship.

But it got even better.

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A month after the deal that brought Steve Nash to the city of angels, the city was treated to the man who was seen as more than an angel, he was simply seen as “Superman”.

In move that was seen as a tide shifting to the point it instantly made the Lakers the predicted team to beat, the lakers acquired center Dwight Howard in a four team trade that sent their center Andrew Bynum to the Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia sent small forward Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets while also sending forward Moe Harkless, and center Nikola Vucevic to the Orlando magic. The Denver Nuggets sent guard Arron Affalo and forward Al Harrington to the magic. The Lakers sent forward Josh McRoberts to the magic. The Magic sent Chris Duhon and Earl Clark to the lakers while sending Jason Richardson to Philadelphia along with the teams receiving draft picks. This was supposed to be it. After two years of second round playoff exits that didn’t even seem competitive, the Lakers were supposed to be back. Reports surfaced that when the trade went thru Kobe Bryant, whom at the time was in London for the Olympics with team USA was walking around telling his telling teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder that they weren’t going back to the finals now that he had not only one of the top point guards in the league but also the best big man in the game.

So much for the trash talk being more than just that, Trash.

The lakers never won a game during the preseason. Dwight Howard, who was recovering from back surgery, decided to play through the pain instead of simply resting until he was 100%. They started out 1-4. Steve Nash broke his leg his in the second game of season, and to top it all off coach Mike Brown was fired five games into the season. No wins in the entire preseason, along with one win in the first five games of the season, triggered the firing of Mike Brown. For all that was happening, and all that seemed to go wrong was indeed going wrong, Jim Buss still had a chance to fix things in one swift move.

“We Want Phil”.

Once Mike Brown was fired reports surfaced that the Lakers were interested in bringing back coach Phil Jackson. It seemed like the perfect way to fix things. With all that was going on in lakerland, with all the questions surrounding the team it seemed that the hiring of Phil Jackson would be the simple way to bring everything back to normal and forget what happened and move on.

To easy right?

Phil Jackson was indeed approached by Lakers management about returning to coach and was given the weekend to make a decision; turns out that was to much time.

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While Phil was sleeping (maybe dreaming up offensive schemes?) Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak called him in the middle of the night to inform him that he wouldn’t be the returning to coach Lakers were going to go with Mike D’Antoni instead. The move sent shock throughout the league because to anyone it confused you as to why would you go with a coach who recently just finished and uneventful and terrible stint in New York with the Knicks over a guy who has brought you 5 championships with each reign being including repeat title defenses.

As the season went on the lakers never really got much better. Dwight Howard was still recovering from back surgery and to make things worse was now hit with a torn labrum on his shoulder. Pau Gasol was battling a concussion that kept him out then suffered a foot injury that kept him sidelined, and when he was healthy D’Antoni refused to believe him and Howard could play together so Gasol was coming off the bench and voiced his displeasure. Steve Nash was still recovering from his broken leg, Steve Blake strained his abdominal muscle which left the team without its two best point guards. Back up Jordan Hill went down with a season ending hip injury, which led to the rise of Earl Clark who ended up producing which led to him replacing Gasol.

Because Gasol and Howard doesn’t make sense in Mikes world.

With a 17-25 start to the season, a head coaching change five games into the season, A promising starting five who was supposed to cause so much havoc throughout the league but by the end of the year only ended up playing only 286 minutes together because of injuries to every player. There truly seemed to be nothing that could go right.

Except the face of the franchise.

Despite everything that was happening it seemed that the one thing you could count of was Kobe Bryant. He couldn’t afford to miss games and with Nash out even took it upon himself to become a point god and put up assist numbers we thought he couldn’t do/wouldn’t want to do.

But nothing was allowed to go right this season.

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With the season on the line the Lakers were looking on the outside of the playoffs with only a few games left in the season. With most of the team injured Kobe Bryant stepped up and went into overdrive with heroic efforts that included games where he played most if not the whole game.

Then the fat lady truly sang.

On april 12th in a game against the Golden State Warriors that was a must win, Kobe Bryant suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the fourth quarter of what ended up a 118-116 win for the Lakers. Bryant suffered the injury driving to the basket, at first he asked small forward Harrison Barnes if he tripped Bryant, but once he said he didn’t Bryant knew what happened. In dramatic fashion Bryant was able to take two free throws and then walk off for what would be the last time of the season. What followed was the lakers managing to secure a playoff spot on the very last night of the season by defeating the Houston Rockets (how ironic) and ultimately being swept in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs.

It was finally over. The season that had so much promise the year before simply because of two trades was finally done. It might be considered one of the most bizarre seasons a team ever a had. A coach is fired after five games and replaced with a coach most did not want. The star acquisition who is a pending free agent never truly lives up to the pressure granted the sacrifice he makes by playing through an injury. The point guard that has been sought for years finally shows up just o break his leg in game 2 of 82. The only way the season could have gone worst is if the team didn’t make the playoffs but to the Lakers getting swept in the first round is equivalent to missing the playoffs.

With the season over, the spotlight was only getting brighter for the team. Usually when a team is eliminated you don’t discuss them until it is time for training camp but not the Lakers, they had world watching their moves because the big man had a decision to make.

Dwight Howard was set to finally become a free agent in the summer of 2013. No more opting in than opting out, no more being traded to a team he possibly did not ever want to be on. This was finally his time to pick where he wanted to play, the most indecisive athlete in years was finally going to have to be decisive and make a call that he could not turn back on. For the most part while watching the season unfold you had this feeling that as time went on Howard was likely not going to come back. There was the supposed clash between him and Kobe that ended up being front and center of a team meeting in Memphis that ultimately turned the team around. For what it’s worth you even saw Steve Nash yell at Dwight on national t.v in a game against the Miami Heat.

In game four of the western conference playoffs against the Spurs Howard was ejected in the third quarter for arguing with the referee. He ended his night with only seven points and it turned out he would end his laker career on that note.

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When free agency started most people had it penciled in that Dwight was not going to return to the Lakers. For whatever reason it may be it just was not happening and it turns out those people were right. Dwight decided to leave 30 million extra in Lakerland and head to Houston to join the James Harden and the rockets. They sold him on working with coach Kevin McHale who is possibly the best post up big man the league has ever seen. He gets his star shooting guard in Harden who can not only get his own shot but also a great passer. A sixth man and Chandler Parsons who actually credits himself as the man behind the wheel in regards to getting Howard. More importantly he gets what he wants.

Dwight Howard finally is getting what he wants.

He wanted to choose his own team and he did. He can’t change his mind for nothing. To him all the mess he has caused in the past 2 years is all worth it now that he finally got to pick where he wanted to be. 

For as much as this is about Howard finally being where he wants to be it is also about where he could’ve been and why he is no longer there. Maybe down the line someone will finally come out and truly give the details as to what happen during Howard’s one year in the city of angels. Say what you want to say but no top free agent just decides to LEAVE the Lakers. Its one thing if you want to be there and that does not fall through, but to actually be there and leave is unheard of. During the offseason the lakers were putting up billboards across the city with Howard on there along with the word STAY on it. 

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This was the way to supposedly get Howard back. He wanted to be catered to. He wanted to be loved, but maybe at the end of the day what he truly wanted was to not be a Laker. You can say all you want to say at press conferences and media sessions but half of that is truly how you feel. There is a chance that Dwight was only happy about LA because it wasn’t Orlando; there is a very good chance that no matter what he was saying, in his mind Dwight Howard never wanted to be a Laker. The sad part is the Lakers may have never saw it coming. Never would they think that a star player of his caliber would not want to be apart of the organization that has the second most titles in the NBA. It is the simple case of “It’s not me it’s you” like the scene from American Psycho when Christian Bale dumps Reese Witherspoon while out to eat. He tells her he no longer wants to be with her and she can’t seem to understand why.

Evelyn Williams: What about the past?

Patrick Bateman: We never really shared one.

Thats Dwight Talking to Lakers when it comes to choosing to not stay. No matter what you could’ve said to try and salvage the relationship it was never going to work, and one injury filled season in which he was highly criticized by anyone and everyone was not going to make things better. For once the Lakers don’t get the big fish in the pond. For once the Lakers look like just some average NBA team who loses its chance at a free agent instead of the team who is guaranteed to get the star. The big star headed to Houston instead of donning the colors of one of the most storied franchises ever; and there is no billboard big enough to explain that.