King James or Court Jester?

•May 10, 2010 • 4 Comments

Is he a leader?

Lebron is king of the court; we are all just spectators.  

Lebron is the chosen one.  

Lebron is comparable to Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, and the greatest of all time.  

Turn on your television, listen to your local sports talk radio, or  eavesdrop on a pick-up game of basketball during a water break and you will probably hear all of these comments. Some of these statements are true. Some are gross exaggerations.  

James is rarely ever described as spoiled rotten. Sportswriters have written about the fact that James owned a $80,000 Hummer before he turned 19. Joakim Noah  would probably prefer James practiced his samba on Dancing with the Stars. Deshawn Stevenson practically stepped into a land mine when he called James’ game “overrated”. Stevenson’s small comment ignited a war of words with, arguably, one of the greatest rappers of all time and Soldier Boy. Poor Stevenson did not stand a chance.  

So, it’s understandable that few eagerly travel down the path of criticizing Lebron’s game. Sure, he is a phenomenal, one-in-a-million player.  

But if you watched the third game of the Cleveland-Boston series, you would find there is much to criticize about King James. Late into the second half, James penetrated inside with at least two white jerseys smothering him, drawing contact. No foul. James, however, did not shake his head and run back up the court as Kobe Bryant frequently does. Instead he stood looking like a stubborn child refusing to play after being tagged “it”. Except there was no one there to coax him back into the game. The result: the Celtics rushed the boards to take advantage of James’ first-grade behavior. All players get angry when they slash to the hoop and do not get a trip to the foul line; every once in a while Kobe’s ice-cold exterior melts away. But  the Cavs aren’t leading the series by three games, and this is not the regular season–the number one seed in the East are in trouble, guys. The Celtics have been here before. It’s going to be a dog fight, folks. The Celtics will not go calmly into the dark night; they might just limp and drag their way into the third round of the playoffs. The Cavs’ trouble has nothing to do with Lebron’s elbow and  a little something to do with Lebron’s maturity on the court.  

Early in the first half, Lebron hit a tough jumper that caused Mark Jackson to refer to him as “Picasso”. Lebron’s “artwork” even impressed himself; he turned to scowl at the crowd just before emitting a noise that ,if translated, would be something like: “Woo-wee! Did you see that? I mean, I did not know I could do that! It’s just  so pretty!” Pretty as it was, Lebron is going to need more than just a barrage of  awe-inspiring shots to win this series, and  a possible  match-up with the Magic. It’s the shots that we expect Lebron to make that matter. The missed free-throws. The lay-ups. This is why Kobe Bryant, even as the arthritis begins to set in as he enters his thirties, is still unstoppable. Kobe makes the shots a leader should make; no one is surprised–it’s what a leader does. Nothing fancy. Just gripping the ball, sluicing in between two competitors, and laying it up gently.  

Cue the Akron Hammer fans: but what about the injury? They’ll say surely something is not quite right about James ever since that dreaded elbow twinge during the Bulls-Cavaliers series.  Sorry, Hammer fans, but this is an easy point to refute: the leading team physician defined the injury as not serious.  Certainly, James is experiencing legitimate pain and is not 100%.  But James  has to find a way to play through the pain (See: Grant Hill, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant, etc.), but he also has to find a way to lead his team through the pain. . Teaching your teammates how to do the stanky-leg is not it. Motivating your team through your actions on the court is proven to guarantee better results.  

A king is more than just in charge of his subjects. A king has a right, a duty to counsel his subjects to make the right decisions for the rest of the group. A wise man once said: “Heavy is the head that wears the crown.” Growing up in Ohio, shining on the basketball court and football field, Lebron  knew he stood to benefit immensely for his athletic prowess. Now it’s time to mature and take on the responsibilities that come with the crown. Then, one day, he can revel in the moment and realize that it really is good to be king.

Lil’ Boy Imitates Kurt Russell’s ‘Miracle’ Speech

•October 3, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Too cute! I love it!!

The Speech Heard ‘Round the World

•September 12, 2009 • 2 Comments

I expected Jordan to talk about the memorable years  in Chicago and the  time spent with his teammates.

I forgot.

I forgot the dogged determination that fueled the machine.  Michael Jordan took center stage tonight to accept his Hall of Fame award. But he did more than just that. Michael took this opportunity to show us he hasn’t forgotten all  the naysayers.

This is not the same man who spoke so calmly and professionally during basketball conferences. Michael cursed. Michael verbally abused Byron Russell (as if he needed to do it again), talked trash about Stockton, Isaiah, and Magic.  He criticized Dean Smith for his refusal to allow Michael Jordan to grace the cover of Sports Ilustrated. Remember, Dean Smith? Yes, that Dean Smith, his beloved North Carolina coach.

In my house, there is a saying we use when you verbally destroy your opponent–we call it “telling” someone off. Michael “told off” everyone who ever doubted him. He called out his high-school coach for choosing Leroy Smith in the TENTH GRADE! Tenth grade, folks.  He called out Rod Thorn and Jerry Krause for choosing the organization over him.  I was scratching my head and wondering if this was actually a “roast” instead of an induction ceremony.

Michael Jordan contemptuously smirked at the notion of a team being bigger than the player. “There is no I in team,” Michael sarcastically spit out the words as if they burned his mouth, “but there is an I in win.”

Michael Jordan made his case for why he is the best player to play the game–period. What’s more, Michael proved that he was larger than the game of basketball.As Michael alluded to tonight, the Hall of Fame isn’t sufficient to hold Michael Jordan’s legacy; Michael needs a museum so we can all remember what he meant to not just the game, but to us. Michael made us believe again. During those four short quarters, we believed nothing was impossible.

Tonight just made me want to be like Mike all over again. He’s like a fine wine–his passion for the game is intoxicating. Passion that just gets better with time.

A Salute to the Troops…

•August 21, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The clean-cut  young man on television looked like someone I attended high-school with–my brother, or a friend. With his calm tone, he could be talking about the blue summer skies or his favorite meal.

Fields trains for the 2012 Paralympics.

Fields trains for the 2012 Paralympics.

Except Sgt. Jerrod Fields wasn’t talking about a blue summer sky or some mundane topic; he was telling a reporter about his encounter with a roadside bomb in Baghdad, Iraq.  In 2005, while serving for the  U.S. Army, Sgt. Fields was on a routine reconnaissance mission with his platoon. The routine mission left Fields’ leg badly mangled and facing a tough decision: amputation or 22 operations to fuse his ankle with his leg,  Fields opted for amputation below the knee. Fields’ primary reason for his decision? He would not be able to play basketball.

Not only has Fields resumed playing basketball at a Chicago summer recreational league, he won a gold medal at the 2009 Endeavor games and is already training for the 2012 Paralympics. Throughout it all, Fields remains grateful, saying “I’m just happy to be alive…those bombs aren’t made to take limbs–they’re made to take lives.”

Sgt. Fields’ story is a reality check. I talk a lot of  trash about the war because I don’t support it. I’m like that whiny child in the backseat asking “Are we there yet?” Is the war over yet?  After my reality check, courtesy of Sgt. Fields, I realize my criticism of the war has not translated into support of the troops. Sure, I can vocalize my contempt for the war and our reasons  for entering the war, but I hardly ever vocalize my admiration and sympathy for the soldiers fighting daily.
Sgt. Jerrod Fields of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program does squats on his prosthetic lower left leg during a weight-training workout at the U.S. Olympic Training Center

Sgt. Jerrod Fields of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program does squats on his prosthetic lower left leg during a weight-training workout at the U.S. Olympic Training Center

Thank you Sgt. Fields, Brandon,  Artreese, Ernso, and all the other women and men serving in the armed forces. Thank you for risking your lives and being away from your families so that I can share moments with my family.

Sgt. Jerrod Fields–we’ll see you in 2012! I’m rooting for you! (Usain Bolt isn’t the only fastest man running)!

U.S. Army World Class Athelte Program Paralympic sprinter hopeful Sgt. Jerrod Fields, seen here working out at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., won the 100 meters with a time of 12.15 seconds at the 2009 Endeavor Games in Edmond, Okla., on June 13.

U.S. Army World Class Athelte Program Paralympic sprinter hopeful Sgt. Jerrod Fields, seen here working out at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., won the 100 meters with a time of 12.15 seconds at the 2009 Endeavor Games in Edmond, Okla., on June 13.

Steve McNair Found Dead in Nashville Apartment

•July 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

McNair was found shot to death.

McNair was found shot to death.

Former Baltimore Raven and Tennesse Titan quarterback, Steve McNair, was found shot to death in an apartment in Nashville, Tennessee.  Two bodies were discovered; one body has been confirmed as Steve McNair but the identity of a female body has not yet been confirmed. Police are investigating the crime scene as the wound was a fatal gunshot to the head. McNair retired in 2007 and is the second black quarterback to go to the Superbowl.  I remember watching McNair scramble on the grid iron and we share the same birthday; he will be missed and my condolences are with the McNair family. McNair was 37 years old.

“I am happy to say I am goin’ to L.A.”

•July 3, 2009 • Leave a Comment

ESPN is reporting the Lakers have reached a verbal agreement with Ron Artest. If true, it’s a three year deal worth 18 million. Artest sent ESPN.com a text message, writing:  “I am happy to say I am goin’ to L.A.”  WHAT!!!!!!!! I am sick with this news, Artest is a beast on the court and half of the players are scared of him. Artest is still a bit scary and is the closest to Rodman in the league. As you all know, I am an official Kobe Hater and well, this makes the Lakers a tougher and better team. Kobe is  that much closer to another championship! Say it ain’t so!

Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest--a happily ever after union?

Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest--a happily ever after union?

WHHAAAATTTT!

Serena Williams is Victorious!

•July 2, 2009 • 1 Comment
Williams clinches victory and advances to the Wimbledon championship game.

Williams clinches victory and advances to the Wimbledon championship match.

Down 7-6 in the first set, Serena Williams had no choice but to win or go home. Serena dug in her heels and churned out a victory, winning the second and third match. Elena Dementieva was phenomenal and gave Serena the match she needed to elevate her game. Both women are warriors; I hated to see Dementieva lose.

Now Serena has nothing else to do but prepare for the championship match. Oh and cheer on Venus at the Semi-finals, telling reporters,  “Go Vee!” If Venus wins today,  Serena could go from watching  Venus  on the tennis court to playing against her big sis in the championship match.