Ball Dominate

If you’re around anyone that follows the NBA or basketball you’ve probably heard of the “Ball Family”. Lonzo (drafted 2nd by the Lakers in the 2017 draft) LiAngelo (an incoming freshman at UCLA) and LaMelo (one of the top high school players in the class of 2019) are the sons of LaVar and Tina Ball. The family has taken the basketball scene by storm. It all started during their time at Chino Hills High School in California. There the 3 brothers all played on the same varsity squad in 2015. The trio’s talent on the basketball court can speak for them but it’s their boisturious father LaVar that has ruffled the most feathers. 

On the surface LaVar is no different than any other loudtalking parent that you’d run into at youth sporting or extracurricular events. His grandstanding and bragging on his sons is NOT a problem. It does not take away that opposing players and parents will feel some type of way. LaVar is aware of this but it doesn’t stop him from talking. Some consider the extra pressure placed on his sons to be a disatorous recipe. I’m not one of them, these kids have been around their dad all of their lives and are used to this. Also if LaVar was a “quiet – behind the scenes” parent the pressure would be the same. Quiet or loud parents don’t change the scrutiny that comes if a top rated player does not pan out.

This post was sparked by a text from my sister. She asked my thoughts on LaVar and this is what I said: 

He doesn’t bother me. I think he’s funny. It doesn’t seem to irritate his sons. So that’s the main thing. Think the key is he can’t upset or talk about his son’s teammates or opponents.” 

There are two different things at play to me. There’s the basketball side that the son’s control and then there’s the business side that LaVar controls. This is where fans have to ask themselves “why am I booing these guys?” I plan on booing them when it comes to the basketball side. I don’t like the Lakers or UCLA. But I’ll give them their credit if they perform well. On the business side there’s no reason to “boo” them. LaVar has given a blueprint for the way future draft prospects and the people around them should handle the business. This year’s top pick – Markelle Fultz – revealed that he thought about doing a shoe deal with Big Baller Brand before going with Nike. We may not agree with the deals he turned down or the appearance of the apparel but the fact another player considered BBB is huge! 

The winner in all of this hoopla is of course the Ball Family but also the NBA. And when I say “NBA” I mean the league as a whole. From the Commissioner down to the fans. We now have a villain to either root for or against. Fans are booing, players already want to dunk on Lonzo, and LaVar is being LaVar. The NBA’s version of “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart has predicted that the Lakers will make the Playoffs, he threw his hat into the crowd while leaving the NBA draft and even has WWE interested in booking him for Monday Night Raw in Los Angeles. You may not like LaVar’s antics and find him annoying but there’s no denying he’s a Big Baller in Business

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Ball Dominate

Thoroughly Unthorough NBA Preview Part 2

The NBA Season starts TODAY and I can’t wait! Shout out to Bart Scott. It promises to be another exciting season as we’ve had player move here and there. There’s been a lot of chirping from all over the League. We’ll get to see how it all plays out over the next 8 months. Today I’ll layout the moves made in the NBA’s Western Conference and share a few thoughts on each team. The teams are listed in the order in which they finished at the end of the 2015-2016 regular season. At the end I’ll list who I think the 8 playoff teams will be.

Golden State Warriors – Hard to imagine that the team with the best regular season record in NBA history, first ever unanimous MVP, and 3 All NBA performers would get better but they did. After blowing a 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals to Cleveland; the Warriors went and signed Kevin Durant. GSW also brought in Zaza Pachulia and David West. As expected Harrison Barnes left the team and Andrew Bogut was traded away. The Warriors are the favorites to win the championship. We’ll see if they can seal the deal this season.

San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs had an excellent season but got trounced in the playoffs by OKC. As a result we saw the retirement of legendary power Forward Tim Duncan. Boris Diaw was traded to Utah for a future 2nd round draft pick. The Spurs signed Pau Gasol as a replacement for Duncan. It’ll be interesting to see how Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge play together. They also signed David Lee. Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are back but look for Patty Mills to see his role increase. We’ll get to see if Kawhi Leonard can shoulder the load this season. Keep an eye on Aldridge to see if he remains happy in San Antonio.

Oklahoma City Thunder – You’d have to be very unfamiliar with the NBA to not know that they lost one of the best players in the current era. Kevin Durant got tired of Russell Westbrook and went to Golden State over the summer. Golden State knocked them out of the 2016 Playoffs. OKC blew a 3-1 series lead and the rest is history. Serge Ibaka was traded on Draft Day for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and Domantas Sabonis(11th pick of 2016 NBA Draft). Westbrook signed a contract extension but the Thunder will need to lock up big man Steven Adams too. The Thunder will fall in the West without KD…we’re just not sure how far.

Los Angeles Clippers – The Clippers were the 4th best team in the Western Conference but got bounced in the First Round by Portland after injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. The core of the Clippers roster is still the same. They still don’t have a small forward to rely on as Paul Pierce revealed that he’s finally retiring at season’s end. Doc Rivers gave new contracts to Wesley Johnson, Jamal Crawford, Luc Mbah a Moute and his son Austin. Mo Speights, Brandon Bass, and Raymond Felton joined the team via free agency. They drafted Brice Johnson – who will be out with a herniated disc in his lower back – and Diamond Stone. This is a make or break season for the Clippers. If they don’t reach the Western Conference Finals this season then it’s time for some players to move on.

Portland Trail Blazers – Portland had an unexpected run to the Playoffs after a slow start last season. Terry Stotts was able to get his squad to the 2nd Round before they bowed out to Golden State in 5 games. Dame Lillard leads the way sidekick C.J. McCollum. McCollum rode his Most Improved  Player Award – season to a new contract. Portland also resigned Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard and Allen Crabbe. Crabbe was given  a whopping 4 year – $75 million dollar deal. Evan Turner joined from Boston and Festus Ezeli from Golden State. Unfortunately Festus is out with a knee injury and his return is unknown. Expect a big season from Lillard as the Blazers will look to ride their successful wave.

Dallas Mavericks – Dallas had an average season that concluded by getting thumped by OKC in the Playoffs. Dirk Nowitzki got a 2 year – $50 Million dollar deal over the summer. Harrison Barnes signed with the team and Andrew Bogut joined via trade. The Mavs resigned Dwight Powell and Deron Williams too. Seth Curry and Quincy Acy were some under the radar signings. No clue what to expect in Dallas. On paper it doesn’t look exciting.

Memphis Grizzlies – After being torn apart by injuries last season the Grizzlies hope to have better luck. As it stands today, they’re off to a bad start with a list of players injured. New Head Coach David Fizdale will have his work cut out for him. Memphis gave Mike Conley a max deal over the summer and signed Chandler Parsons. Zach Randolph will come off the bench and seems to be OK with that idea. It’s hard out here for a pimp. Good luck Memphis.

Houston Rockets – Squeaked into the Playoffs after a season full of turmoil. They exited the Playoffs quickly. Dwight Howard is gone and the team hopes to have better chemistry. Mike D’Antoni takes over as coach and they want to get up and down the court. Free agency saw the addition of – two former New Orleans Pelicans – Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson. James Harden restructured his contract and hopes to get back to the level of play he displayed in the 2014-2015 season. Nene joined Houston and Michael Beasley was traded to Milwaukee for Tyler Ennis. Houston will score a lot but not sure how much they’ll defend.

Utah Jazz – Utah is an up and coming team that was close to making the Playoffs last season. The Jazz ended their season giving up 60 points to Kobe Bryant in his final game. In hopes of making the Playoffs, Utah brought in some veteran players via free agency and trades. They acquired Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw via free agency. Utah was able to bring in George Hill via a 3 – team trade. The Jazz will be without Alec Burks(knee) and Gordon Heyward(finger) to start the season. Derrick Favors, Rodney Hood, and Diaw are also battling injuries. Big man Rudy Gobert is poised for a breakout season and 2nd year player Trey Lyles is ready to show his vast skills. The Jazz will bring Dante Exum along slowly as he continues to recover from ACL injury.

Sacramento Kings – Boogie Cousins is excited about new head coach Dave Joerger who joins them after his time in Memphis. During a Draft Day trade the Kings picked up Bogdan Bogdanovic, Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis and a 2020 2nd round draft pick from Phoenix. They signed an array of wing players after trading away Marco Belinelli to Charlotte. Those players are Arron Afflalo, Anthony Tolliver, Matt Barnes, and Garrett Temple. The Kings also signed point guard Ty Lawson after Rajon Rondo left town. Rudy Gay and Ben McLemore are both looking to play their way out of Sacramento. The team’s management still leaves a lot to be desired. But many fans are hoping the new arena is a sign of new things to come.

 

Denver Nuggets – The Nuggets are another team that I’m not sure where they’re going. They have some young talented players – Will Barton, Gary Harris, and Emmanuel Mudiay – but do they have enough veterans to balance out the squad. Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari have battled injuries. Kenneth Faried has been rumored to be on the trade block but still remains in Denver. Rookie Jamal Murray will be looking to score buckets and get  teammates involved. The Nuggets will fall into a funk again this season and struggle to make progress.

New Orleans Pelicans – How many games will Anthony Davis play? Start there and you’ll get an idea of what kind of season the Pelicans will have. In his 4 year career, Davis has never played more than 68 games. That season marked career high statistics for AD and coincided with New Orleans making a playoff appearance. Jrue Holiday is out after his wife gave birth to their child before having brain surgery. Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon left the team via free agency but some new players arrived in return. The Pelicans drafted Buddy Hield and Cheick Diallo. The team acquired Solomon Hill, Langston Galloway, E’Twaun Moore, Terrence Jones, and Lance Stephenson in free agency. With Holiday out, Tim Frazier and Galloway will need to step up. And as I stated above, Anthony Davis needs to stay healthy and on the court if New Orleans wants to be in the Playoff race.

Minnesota Timberwolves – Minnesota jumped from “cool team to watch” to “cool team expected to make the Playoffs” when they hired Tom Thibodeau to be Head Coach. Thibodeau will have a team full of young players to choose from. Most notably the last two Rookie of the Year Award winners, Karl Anthony-Towns(2015-2016) and Andrew Wiggins(2014-2015). In the 1st round of the 2016 NBA Draft Minnesota selected Kris Dunn. Dunn was a prolific scorer in college but he’ll be expected to distribute more in the NBA. The Timberwolves also bring back Shabazz Muhammad, high flying Zach LaVine, and Ricky Rubio. Nikola Pekovic will be out all season due to an Achilles injury. That means Gorgui Dieng and Adrien Payne will have to step up. Minnesota brought in Brandon Rush, Cole Aldrich, and Jordan Hill over the summer. The Timberwolves will improve but not enough to make the Playoffs. They’re still missing a few veteran pieces.

 

Phoenix Suns – The valley of the sun was very hot last season after team chemistry and injuries caused things to go awry. Jeff Hornacek was replaced by Earl Watson. The Suns will lean on their guards to carry the load. They’ll need Eric Bledsoe to stay healthy after he only played 31 games last season. Brandon Knight had a decent season while he was healthy but that was for only 52 games. Devin Booker was the lone bright star for the team. Booker started in 51 of the 76 games he started in and posted 13.8 points/game, 2.6 assists/game, and 2.5 rebounds/game to earn a spot on the NBA Rookie 1st Team. T.J. Warren was solid last season and Alex Len showed flashes of what he can do. P.J. Tucker, Tyson Chandler, and Leandro Barbosa are all seasoned vets but that won’t be enough to move the Suns up in the West.

Los Angeles Lakers – Kobe is gone but the Lakers now have Luke Walton as Head Coach. The Lakers won’t win much but they’ll be fun to watch. Walton will have the team playing at a pace that suits the team. The team re-signed Jordan Clarkson and brought in Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov, Metta World Peace, and Thomas Robinson via free agency. They drafted the skinny but talented Brandon Ingram 2nd overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. D’Angelo Russell should thrive the most in this new style of play. Julius Randle will see his role increase while Nick Young and Lou Williams will still be able to get up a decent number of shots each game. The Lakers will reach the 24.5 wins mark but that’s about it.

Western Conference Playoff Predictions (in order):

Golden State Warriors

Los Angeles Clippers

San Antonio Spurs

Portland Trail Blazers

Houston Rockets

Utah Jazz

Memphis Grizzlies

Oklahoma City Thunder

Close but no cigar: Sacramento, Dallas, New Orleans, and Minnesota

Rookie of the Year – Buddy Heild, New Orleans Pelicans

Most Improved – Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks

Defensive Player of the Year – Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

6th Man of the Year – Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors

Most Valuable Player – Paul George, Indiana Pacers

All stats, rosters, team transactions and more courtesy of http://www.basketball-reference.com/

Thoroughly Unthorough NBA Preview Part 2

Priceless Moment

monument2

It had to be the summer of 2005 or 2006. I walked into the City Gear at Metro Center Mall and saw an interesting shirt. The shirt was black and had an image of the iconic moment from the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Me being a fan of sports I knew of the image but had never really looked into the significance of “that moment”. I knew it was during the 1960s and had something to do with Civil Rights for people of color but that was about it. But my knowledge and appreciation of the moment would change soon after a casual discussion and the help of some great friends.

So the discussion was very random at first but then again it wasn’t. From 1999-2007 I worked at the Chick-fil-A in the Metro. And on one of the days I went in to pick up my check, I happened to be wearing that shirt. This is where my history lesson – on that moment in 1968 – began. I had an older coworker named Carlton that was from California.  He had a pretty good memory and knowledge of all types of history. He couldn’t remember how many nuggets to drop during a rush but he remembered my shirt! Lol anyways the next time I went into work he was – waiting on me – to ask about the shirt. Carlton’s go to phrase was “yo homeboy” when he wanted to talk about something and with that, my history lesson started. Carlton began by reminding me that he was from California and lived there during the late 60s (think he mentioned being there during the Watts Riots too). He made it clear that both Tommie Smith and John Carlos were some great athletes. Both were drafted by NFL teams.  He also emphasized that there was no doubt about who was going to win Gold in the 200 m race at the 1968 Olympics. He raved about how Smith had been running lights out in events leading up to the Olympics. He also talked about John Carlos being very good and that he would finish in the top 3. After that he fast forwarded to the medal ceremony and the moment that Smith and Carlos left us with a demonstration that will last forever. He mentioned how it was not just a big moment but a bold one too. Especially considering the backlash that both sprinters faced afterwards. At the time of our discussion, neither of us was aware of what was taking place at San Jose State University and little did I know that in October 2009 I’d find out.

me_Fotor_Fotor

At some point I posted the picture above on Facebook. Then some time after I planned a trip to California to see some friends. As time approached, my friends told me that a statue of Tommie Smith and John Carlos had been built and was located on the campus of San Jose State University. Both men went to college there and after many years had passed, their moment in history was recognized on October 16, 2005. My friends being the great people that they are decided to help me see the statue in person. It was a busy weekend but on the Monday morning that I was set to fly out, they made it happen. First off we were lucky that I flew into and out of the San Jose Airport. Unfortunately we had to get up very early due to my flight time and the distance we had to travel to get to San Jose. After conquering those two hurdles we were there with plenty of time to spare. I remember it was an overcast morning and kind of windy. Despite the time of morning, students were already moving about the campus. The statue is located in a good spot on the campus so I didn’t have to walk too far and didn’t stick out much. We also avoided getting a ticket for parking in “no parking zone”. It was a great experience and it made me think about how funny life can be.  Just a few years earlier I was in my hometown buying a shirt that led to a history lesson. Then on that October morning in 2009 there I was “standing” next to history. I can’t thank my friends Anthony and Jayka enough for making that moment happen.

mesjsu

I still have my shirt and I throw it on every now and then. Standing up on that statue was a cool moment and it gave me a greater appreciation of the stand the Olympians made. It was bigger than winning the race and the medals around their necks. October 16th will mark the 47th anniversary of that night in Mexico City and the 10th anniversary of the statue to honor Tommie Smith and John Carlos. 1968 marked the end of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Today in 2015, we’re still fighting some of the same battles. Yes, things have improved but we still have a long way to go. I only hope that we all are ready to be brave and stand tall for what we believe in when our medal ceremony comes.

Priceless Moment

How We Love These…

I always felt that my first music blog would be about Freddie Gibbs but instead I’m here talking about one of music’s favorite and most controversial topics “Hoes”. Gibbs is probably my favorite rapper at the moment and he too has touched on the subject. I’m not focusing on him now though. Instead I look at the different ways male musicians love singing about hoes. Whether they’re bragging about them, chasing them, or trying to save them – one thing remains the same – dudes really love making songs about them. And I know many are thinking with the recent N.W.A movie that I’m talking solely about rap but nah the topic crosses into other genres. There have been years and years of songs about the topic.

My journey to this topic was very random. It started with me getting on Instagram and seeing this shirt on my TL.

nwa-the-police_fucknwa_t_sh

Interesting huh? Now if you have no idea who the 3 men on that shirt are then look up the group “The Police” and some guy named Sting. That should make the “Fuck N.W.A.” part funny (well at least it’s funny to me). So now I explain how The Police tie into this whole topic of singing about “hoes”. Well the group has a very popular song called Roxanne. Roxanne is a song about a prostitute “not having to put on the red light” anymore because well Sting was there to save the day. He gracefully sums it up with the following lines: “I loved you since I knew you – I wouldn’t talk down to you – I have to tell you just how I feel – I won’t share you with another boy”. Like I said it’s a great song and I think you should check it out below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXzFCS72QIA

This one here may come as a surprise to some but yeah here we go. A few years ago music mogul Diddy hit it big when he was able to help the vodka brand “Ciroc” expand in the United States. As part of helping the brand take off, Diddy released a great commercial featuring some of our favorite entertainers in it.  The group crashes Vegas and has a great night “breaking the bank”. The whole time there’s a classic song by Frank Sinatra playing in the background. The name of the song is “Luck Be A Lady”. Now on the surface the song appears to be very innocent and one wouldn’t think much of it. I mean you have a bunch of guys in Vegas gambling and a song about “Luck”. Well that was until I decided to actually “listen” to the song and not get caught up in the chorus and band. Boy was I cracking up after finally listening to the song. Somewhere in the Twitterverse there are a series of tweets of someone going on a rant about the song.

Frank did a very good job with the wordplay on this one. I mean the song starts off with an intro for the ages that ends with him stating, “so the best that I can do is pray”. Sinatra goes on to drop plenty of lines with double meanings. In the process Frank talks about “cuffing” this chick so things won’t get out of hand between him, the young lady, and some other guy. I’m sure those of you that are familiar with The Rat Pack have heard or read about the rumblings. I went years “hearing” this song and then a Ciroc commercial changed the way I heard it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJpGHR6ofus

The third and final song is a soulful ballad titled “Two Wrongs” by Mayer Hawthorne. This one doesn’t come with the same topics as above but shows how both parties can exhibit “whore-like” ways, as my wife likes to say.  “Two Wrongs” follows the classic cheating love song layout. There’s the beginning where Mayer acknowledges, “they say two wrongs don’t make a right” as many of us have often heard. He even states how “we all make bad decisions…that we make mistakes sometimes” – not quite sure why Mayer is bringing us in HIS mess – but when in “that moment” oh well! In the second verse he goes on to tell us the problem. He talks about how him and his secret lover can’t get caught up in some mess. Because well he has a woman and the lady that he’s sneaking around with has a man. He goes on to end the verse by talking about how the situation is so wrong but never says he’s not staying the night. The last word we hear from Mayer is “How”. This leads me to believe that he spent a night and then after it was all said and done, he could only ask – “How?” – in reference to his predicament.  This video will also help those of you wanting to brush up on your Spanish.

It’s amazing how the different songs we listen to carry so many meanings and messages. Some are plain as day and easy to decipher while others are written with double meanings. I enjoy the three songs I mentioned above and many others like them. Music is an art that is to be enjoyed and at times it’ll take us into a certain mood. There are some lanes that music ventures into that causes some people to question and protest lyrics. There have been claims that certain lyrics influence the decisions that a listener may make. Who knows? Some even say the lyrics are “dumbed down” now. Maybe they are but it seems to me that maybe we were never listening and only hearing to begin with.

How We Love These…