Sports Writing Rookie

Basketball

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.

 

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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.

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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”.

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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.


Facebook Taught Me

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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.

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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.


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.


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Can Beggars Actually Be Choosers? (2011)

Dwight Howard: A box of roses for me from LeBron?

*Reads note*: Dear Dwight,

Keep making me look good I love what you’re doing with your coach and team it’s awesome. See you in the playoffs!

Love,

LeBron James.

For good or bad, better or worse “The Decision” by LeBron James will always be remembered. No one wants to remember how LeBron treated the season before in regards to how he handled the questions and attention that came with trying to see what he was going to do; the only thing that will forever be remembered is the words “I’m taking my talents to south beach”.

Dwight Howard was this season’s LeBron. Since last season the world has been wondering where Howard was going to go, whether he was going to stay in Orlando, or move onto to another city. For the past 4-5 years it seems as though we have been dealing with and lobbying for insight on where guys were going more than the performance on the court. From LeBron, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, to Carmelo Anthony last year, to this year’s participants being Howard, Deron Williams, and Chris Paul (before he was traded) when it comes to these athletes and other high profile athletes their in-season decisions can less important to some people than their offseason decisions.

The Link between LeBron and Dwight is similar in ways more than some of the others. Of those groups of players listed above only Wade has an NBA title. Dwight and LeBron both made were number one draft picks in their respective draft classes, and came in the league with very high expectations to revive struggling franchises. Both were able to bring their franchises to NBA finals when no one expected to. Dwight’s lone finals appearance actually came at the expense of beating LeBron in the conference finals. Both also lost in their first appearance in the finals.

So what links them this time around?

Easy: the way their situations are being handled. LeBron never forced his way out Cleveland. LeBron showed up to the gym played basketball and went home. When reporters asked him about his upcoming free agency sometimes he gave them an answer or a quote but for the most part it was simply “next question” or “l will handle that when it’s time”. Since the lockout was done Dwight has not handled it this way. It started with Dwight having his agent meet with nets management over dinner. Dwight later told Magic management that he wanted to be traded even giving in a list of teams of where he wanted to be traded. Up until All-Star weekend it seemed as Howard was giving the world 2 answers every week. On Monday he was saying he wanted to be traded by Friday he was saying he wanted to stay “and see how this works out” when All-Star weekend arrived Howard did not answer a question about the free agency, it was wise, it was smart, it was something he should have probably been doing all season long. He welcomed the NBA world into the arena that was built for him, and did his best to make everyone feel at home.

When the trade deadline was 24 hours away the Magic had put out that they was indeed going to trade Howard instead of him walking out in free agency? The seriousness of being traded seemed to have scared Howard who came out and said he wanted to stay and finish the job then decided to opt in and stay for another year. Howard’s indecisiveness all season made the magic decided to give Howard 24 hours to think over his decision as he decided on the plane he wanted to stay. 24 hours later Howard decided to not change his mind and signed the papers making him Magic for at least another year.

So for all of this you would think the Dwight saga would be over right? NO. Suddenly Howard now wants his coach Stan Van Gundy fired, and if you ask the coach he’ll tell you he’s known this all year. With this entire situation going on it makes you wonder and realize that what LeBron did was not bad at all compared to this. It seemed everyone before and including CP3 and Deron Williams this year was on board the “I’m just going to play basketball and see whatever happens” train except Dwight Howard. Maybe it was the people around him who caused him to act this way but at the same time he is a grown man. Maybe he just wanted to feel what it was like to be wanted by so many teams and be recruited considering he did not go through the college process since he went straight to the NBA from high school.

All of this plays in to what he has done this year. The fact that his opt in is only for next year just shows that unless he signs an extension over the summer we will be doing this all over again next year, if that’s the case can he at least do something LeBron did and give all proceeds to his decision to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America?


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The Good in Sanity (2012)

It seems like every season no matter the sport a feel good story is guaranteed to make headlines and give people something to root for. MLB had it in 2008 with Josh Hamilton and his amazing performance at the home run derby. This past season in the NFL it was Tebowmania with the Denver Broncos. It was the only thing on ESPN for months and, i admit while at first i was all into it watch his performances in full games then seeing only him getting the credit turned me off (thank you Skip Bayless).

In the NBA the story of the year goes to New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin. Tebow has Tebowmania. Lin has Linsanity. Lin and Tebow were also in the second season as professionals and aside from the crazy media attention that is pretty much where the comparisons stop. Jeremy Lin is an underdog but only for the fact he went undrafted, was cut twice by two other teams, and on his way to being cut by the Knicks. Udonis Haslem of the Miami heat actually said that when the Knicks came to play the heat in January Lin went to the chapel in the America Airlines Arena and asked the the pastor on hand ”Can you pray I don’t get cut?”. Lin knew the February 10th deadline for teams to cut players so their contracts are not guaranteed for the season was approaching. Before the deadline the Knicks decided to give him a shot to that would decide his fate. His first game against the Celtics was not the performance you want to give if your job is on the line. The next game against the nets Lin was put it and that is where the Linsanity began.

If you ask Lin he credits him getting into the game thanks to teammate Carmelo Anthony. Carmelo Anthony was the one who suggested coach Mike D’Antoni to put Lin in their Feb 4 game against the nets. That game Lin produced 25 points and 7 assist off the bench; the next game was placed as the starter against the Utah Jazz, and the rest is history.

Linsanity was born and from the jump went full speed ahead. The fame came instantly, but how could you not appreciate and like it? A second year kid out of Harvard University goes from almost being cut to Leading the New York Knicks to a 7 win streak after what seem like the season was going downward in all ways. In the biggest city in the country on the brightest stage the kid was shining so bright. It was also a cultural thing with him being Asian-American. The NBA is all about expanding their game across the globe and not since Yao Ming has the Asian community had a star as big as Lin. Linsanity was taking over everywhere. T-shirts, hats, twitter with #Linning and replacing any other word you could with Lin in the beginning.

With every good story though there must be some negativity. There are the negatives of his game such as his inability to go left, his amount of turnovers during games. Then there is the personal negativity that comes with being in the world where free speech is protected by the first amendment. You have people like boxer Floyd Mayweather who believes that all the hype is simply because of Lin’s Asian decent. There was the New York Post headline after a Knick win that said “AMASIAN” in bold letters. Things went over the top the night the Knicks lost their first game with Lin as a starter to the New Orleans Hornets. A writer for ESPN.com made the headline about the loss titled “Chink in the Armor”. The headline was taken down within minutes and the writer was fired by ESPN. A ESPN sports broadcaster was suspended 30 days for using the word chink in relation to another topic during an interview. Issues like these can show that remarks and words still have meaning. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream made a flavor dedicated to Lin called “Taste the Lin-Sanity” that included pieces of fortune cookies in the initial recipe. Officials had to issue a statement of apology to anyone who had been offended. The limited edition flavor replaced the fortune cookies with a fresh baked waffle cookie and sold out at the company’s Harvard Square location.

In the end Jeremy Lin is doing something no one could predict. He is gaining respect from his NBA players and even as much praise from league leading scorer Kobe Bryant. ”The biggest thing to me is how everybody missed it,” Bryant said before the All-Star Game, via the New York Post. “They all would be fired if I was owning a team. I hear this stuff, ‘It came out of nowhere.’ I think it’s a load of garbage. You can’t play that well and just come out of nowhere. There has to be something there and everybody missed it. So heads would roll if I was owner.”

The Linsanity resumes Wednesday when the Knicks return to action. There will continue to be support and negativity, but in the end like Ben & Jerry’s says everyone is just going to have to “Taste the Lin-Sanity”