The Friend Zone

The Friend Zone, a moment in life where once you enter…nothing is the same. You go out there, put your heart on the line and then you get hit with the friend zone. Can you believe there is/was a show where some people put this crucial moment on MTV only to get crushed? I enjoyed that show, I don’t know why. There’s also another “show” that I and millions of others watch that is quite similar to the friend zone; it’s called sports! So last night me and all of the rest of the Pelicans’ fans were taken to the friend zone via a New Orleans Pelicans 4th quarter collapse that will live on for ages.

Let’s run down all of the criteria for the “friend zone” and I’ll translate it to my basketball rooting experience. #1 they have a “Great personality and are fun to be around”. Have you ever been to or watched an NBA basketball game? I’ve been blessed to be able to attend many games and them mugs are great! You got music, dancing, people being ridiculous on jumbotrons, etc. If you’re at home hopefully you got the studio crew and/or game announcers of your liking. But most importantly your favorite team or the team that your favorite player plays for is involved. That takes care of the first one.

#2 is kind of long but you all will get it. “They overachieve and have all the qualities of a good mate, you two are really good friends, “you” can see this going places, they’re easy to talk to/we can talk about anything” – So my team, the New Orleans Pelicans is in the Playoffs and let me tell you about them. They finally weathered the storm of CP3 (that tough situation they went through but you were still by their side). After they got past the CP3 debacle they switched their mascot name and changed their uniform color (new hairstyle/hair color, new wardrobe or they already had these qualities but now that they’re back on their feet you’re ready to ‘shoot your shot’). Oh and the Pelicans got this guy named Anthony Davis. Man is he great or what? Led the league in blocked shots, top ten in points per game, First Team All-NBA caliber player, only his third year in the league! (Oh man they got a good job/in school with a good major and grades, AND shhhidddd he/she look good too?). Then I can talk to them all of the time – “Monty call a timeout”, “Tyreke stop doing that dumb $#!+”, “Tyreke pass the ball!”, “Asik catch the ball!”, “Dell can we get a bench or nah?”, “Why do we pay Eric Gordon?” – and sometimes they listen. Ok that’s the second one.

Last but not least “your family/friends – 9 times out of 10 your Mom – think y’all would make a cute couple”. I knew things were looking up for the Pelicans this season when I started having family members and coworkers asking about them. “You go to/see the game last night?”, “what them tickets be looking like?”, “You been to that ‘Guys Night Out’ before?” (My people like “you”, oh yeah I’m about to step my game up) There you have it the third and final one.

Last night the moment of truth – Game 3 of the series at home versus Golden State – arrived. And just like one of those poor saps on the MTV show I had things all planned out. I was going to get me some Popeyes Chicken (3 piece combo spicy white w/mashed potatoes and gravy, fruit punch for the drink). Get back home to my couch so I could eat and watch a lil bit of the first game (Cleveland vs. Boston) before taking a pregame nap (hopefully wake up before the Pelicans game starts). Wake up, watch the Pelicans’ game and cheer them on to victory. I made my way to Popeyes and that’s where the trouble started. The chick taking my order kept wanting me to have red beans and rice when I had clearly stated (Mississippi drawl and all) “MASHED POTATOES WITH GRAVY”. Pull around to the drive thru window and I had to wait. Keep in mind there was only one other car there. Finally get home, open the box of chicken and it was drier than a $2…yeah the chicken was dry! So I chump it down and focus on the basketball and impending nap. Naptime finally arrives in the 4th quarter of the Cavs/Celtics game but it leads to me missing the first 4-6 minutes of the Pelicans game. I wake up and they’re already down but man it’s great seeing the arena packed and everybody in red. Well I’ll be John Brown if things didn’t start getting better. Ryan Anderson started hitting shots, AD was being AD, Norris Cole was stepping up off the bench, and Tyreke was playing smart! Things were looking great – the Pels had a 20 point lead – heading into the 4th.

Then the equivalent of this happened: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrxvOYJAVrw

The Pelicans gave up offensive rebound after offensive rebound, they had countless bad offensive possessions, and sadly Monty had no answer to stop the train wreck which eventually led to THIS (no he didn’t shoot with his eyes closed but it was a great shot):  

 
And that is how one gets friend zoned ala NBA style. Per the course I did the dumb thing and read all the banter between fellow Pelicans fans, saw the glee of the Warriors fans, and the stupid tweets from the NBA stat geeks about GSW now being 1 – 356 in games where they entered the 4th quarter trailing by 20+ points. I guess me and the Pels can still be friends but this will be a hard one to move on from…

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The Friend Zone

The Divide

There are many divisions amongst people all over the world. There’s division of race, class, religion, sex and so on. Today I found myself surprised by some of the thoughts being expressed about the minimum wage demonstrations taking place in Jackson, MS and all over the United States. Some of the thoughts were understandable and I feel they were coming from a genuine place. I don’t think there was a right or wrong point of view being expressed but I do feel that the thoughts can lead to an unwelcome situation. The thoughts were centered on “college graduates now in the working world and their starting salaries VS those fighting for the minimum wage increase”.

So as I read the different opinions being expressed I was caught in conflict. On one hand I sympathized with them expressing how they had worked their way through high school and/or college (some did it while holding down a job at establishments similar to the ones that workers are currently protesting outside of). But on the other hand I couldn’t agree with the way that the comments appeared to put “us” in a better spot or somehow made “us” entitled to say what the minimum hourly wage should be. I say “us” because for 8 years I was one of those students working in a fast food restaurant and going to school. Yes, it was hard at times but it was a choice that I made and I found my way through. I was thankful once I graduated from college and eventually landed a job in my field of study because my time in fast food made me more appreciative. As many of you that work or have worked in fast food or other similar establishments know, you will find a wide range of age groups at these places. Most times there are teenagers in high school, young adults working while in college, young adults working because it is their job, and finally you find what most of us consider to be “grown ups”. In most cases these jobs are considered to be “starter jobs” – meaning they’ll be held down by the teenage and young adult group in most cases – due to the high turnover rate that occurs. But you also find people that fall in the “grown ups” category.

I’ve seen words like “right”, “deserved”, and “fair” used to give reasons why the wage shouldn’t be this or that much. And I’ve seen the mockery from some who want to place shame. I’m not asking for pity to be placed on any of the workers seeking the wage increase but I want to point out that this isn’t a one shoe fits all case. Various decisions and situations lead people to having the jobs/careers they have. Yes, I know there will be increases in everyday living that will result from an increase in minimum wage. I just ask that when speaking on this topic let’s express our thoughts in a positive uplifting manner. Remember the way some may down the minimum wage protestors is the same way another group currently downs you and me. It doesn’t help anything and only feeds into the many divisions that have already been established.

The Divide

What’s My Motivation?

Los Angeles Clippers v New Orleans Pelicans

In a season filled with highs and lows the New Orleans Pelicans find themselves tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 8th spot in the Western Conference with each team having 4 games left to play. And in the true fashion of this season the remaining games for the Pelicans won’t be easy. The Pels have a game at home against Phoenix followed by 2 on the road at Houston and Minnesota. Then they’ll end the season at home versus the San Antonio Spurs on April 15. Only one of the remaining games will be considered easy and that’ll be against Minnesota. New Orleans can’t overlook the game with the Timberwolves because it’ll be the 2nd of a back to back. The Pelicans have a record of 8-3 versus their remaining opponents but the high stakes of a spot in the Playoffs will make these games much tougher. On Tuesday, the Pelicans beat their potential First Round foe and the top NBA team record wise this season – Golden State (63-15) – but then got smoked by the Memphis Grizzlies last night. Both games were a complete contrast and if the Pelicans plan on seeing postseason play they can’t repeat their performance against Memphis.

The Phoenix Suns will certainly come to the Crescent City with plans on spoiling the playoff hopes of New Orleans. After losing to Dallas, the Suns were eliminated from postseason play. They currently have a 39-40 record so a winning season is still in the cards. The Pelicans and Suns split their first two matchups with both home teams winning close games.

After a day off the Pelicans will visit the Houston Rockets. The Pels currently hold the season advantage at 2-1. New Orleans won by 9 at home in December and then went on the road in January and downed the Rockets by 28. In their most recent matchup in New Orleans, James Harden controlled the show posting a 25-10-6 stat line in a 95-93 victory. The Rockets are still battling for the Southwest Division crown and home court advantage in the first round of the Playoffs. They’ll face the San Antonio Spurs on Friday and will have a day off before facing N.O. on Sunday.

New Orleans owns a 3-0 season advantage over Minnesota and hopes to sweep the season series. The Pels defeated the Timberwolves by double digits in 2 home games and won by 8 in Minnesota. The Pelicans can’t sleep on this game because the young T’Wolves will be looking to knock them off. Rookie standout Andrew Wiggins will have three chances to pad his Rookie of the Year Campaign in late season matchups with MVP candidates Steph Curry (Golden State), Anthony Davis (New Orleans), and Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City).

Last but not least…the San Antonio Spurs. New Orleans will end their season at home against the red hot Spurs. Since February 27, the Spurs have a record of 19-3. They’re currently on a 9 game winning streak after trouncing Houston. Pop and The Crew have a return matchup against the Rockets in Houston on Friday and face the Phoenix Suns in San Antonio on Sunday before ending the season in NOLA. Like the Rockets, San Antonio is looking to win the Southwest Division and snatch up home court advantage in the process. Memphis (53-25) currently leads the race for 2nd in the Western Conference and the Southwest Division title, Houston (53-25) follows them at number 3 in the West and 2nd in the Division, San Antonio (53-26) is currently 6th in the West and 3rd in the Division while sitting 0.5 games behind both squads. The Spurs are currently down 2-1 in their season series with the Pelicans and it should be 3-0! In an early season game at San Antonio, the Pelicans got a game winning layup from AD to win by 1. Then the Pels beat the Spurs by 7 a day after Christmas in NOLA. The third matchup was on New Year Eve in San Antonio. After a very sluggish first half, the Pelicans ripped of a 32 point 3rd quarter. Late in the fourth quarter an Anthony Davis tip slam gave the Pelicans the lead. New Orleans found themselves unlucky as the lead would be short lived. With only 0.7 seconds left in the game and down by 2, San Antonio got the gift of all gifts as the Pelicans’ Omer Asik tipped in a game tying basket for the Spurs as the clock expired. San Antonio would go on to win by 2 thanks to a solid OT period from Manu Ginobili.

So now we get to the part where I state if the Pelicans will or won’t make the Playoffs. It simply comes down to motivation. Are the Pelicans motivated enough to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2010 – 2011 season? My answer is yes, especially after getting demolished by the Grizzlies on Wednesday. Erasing that ugly performance along with a spot in the NBA Playoffs on the line should be all that is needed. They will once again get help from home crowd on Friday night. The players talked about the great home atmosphere against GSW and how much they fed off of the crowd’s energy. I expect the same to happen in the final two home matchups. The key on the road will be what the Pels get on the perimeter from Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon along with some timely play off of the bench. Ryan Anderson has been sluggish since his return and Norris Cole has lost his touch. They all will need to step up a notch in these last four. Monty Williams must balance out the minutes of his starters. He’s been guilty of not having a proper mix of starters and bench players on the court at the same time. He let the game against Memphis get away early due to this lapse. Will Anthony Davis be motivated in these last 4 games to prove why he’s been included in the MVP race this season? There’s no doubt in my mind that “The Brow” will be motivated for these last four. Davis is having the best statistical season of his young career – his numbers are up in every category and he’s top 10 in the league in per game categories for points, rebounds, blocks, and field goal percentage – while garnering All-Star and MVP attention. The only thing left to seal this excellent personal season would be a trip to the Playoffs (the team’s first since Chris Paul left). We’re all anxious and ready to see AD take flight in the post season.

What’s My Motivation?