Category Archives: Sports

2013 NBA Finals

We’re headed for the result I most wanted to avoid: a Spurs vs. Heat Finals. Despite being a Spurs fan, as a practical person, I chose the Grizzlies to come out of the Western Conference Finals. The Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph duo was clicking, Tayshaun Prince completed a lockdown wing tandem with perennial defensive force, Tony Allen, and Michael Conley was climbing the elite point guard ladder higher than the memory of Greg Oden. No one loved the Rudy Gay export more than me. Not only were the Grizzlies suddenly a complete team that could again live up to their GRINDHOUSE moniker, they’re also two years removed from thwarting a dominant Spurs team in the first round. In the Spurs’ defense, after pummeling a Lakers team that wouldn’t have done better with Kobe in the lineup, then subduing the Warriors in Stephen Curry’s coming out party, they managed to cruise like witches on brooms against their hardest test out of the West; and no, the Thunder wouldn’t have fared better, the Spurs would’ve exploited the Harden hole to no end. Given a week to rest before the Finals, are the Spurs the undercover favorites regardless of who comes out of the East?

The Knicks were primed to surprise the Heat after Miami’s soft schedule over the hapless Bucks and feisty Bulls. After their series with the Pacers, I can’t fathom a New York championship with Amar’e Stoudemire on the payroll, or built around Carmelo Anthony’s potential. On the otherhand, the Pacers aren’t ready; after stealing and relinquishing home court advantage, they’re going to learn about missed opportunities the hard way. If not New York, then Memphis was primed to give Miami their hardest trial en route to repeating as Champions. Flash back to the 2007 NBA Finals with me, when the Spurs met a young Lebron James, and rode Tony Parker to their fourth title; this is not the same Lebron, nor are these the same Spurs. A trivial piece of history that separates Tim Duncan from his contemporaries, namely Shaq, Kobe, and Lebron, is the fact that he has never lost an NBA Finals. I personally find meaning in unblemished journeys through the Promised Land. I would personally prefer Tim Duncan lose in the Conference Finals, rather than the Finals, simply to preserve this distinction. As the underdog, more important than earning a fifth ring, these are the stakes I am most aware of.

Of course, should the Pacers improbably earn their title shot, I’ll be celebrating Tim Duncan’s untainted record immediately. Not sure how you begin to word such an unlikely alternative future: The revenge of George Hill? Frank Vogel out coaches Greg Popovich? Roy Hibbert learns to be agile while chasing Tony Parker? Or the Pacers suddenly win four games against a team they’ve only beaten three times in eleven years? In closing, I need the Neilsen television ratings for the Style segments after every game, I can’t be the only one who prefers Lifetime movies.

NBA Playoffs 2013 Round Two

That’s right, we’re skipping ahead straight to the second round. The Heat took care of business against the hapless Bucks. Brandon Jennings should be suspended to start next season for guaranteeing four wins, or any wins for that matter. The Knicks would’ve swept the Celtics if not for the J.R. Smith suspension; expect a win at Madison Square Garden tonight. The Pacers will trudge through the Hawks, and attempt to rekindle a New York vs. Indiana rivalry, that I will not feel punished to watch. While the Nets surprised me in their first game against the Bulls, they appropriately lost the series from ahead with home court advantage. Honestly, we’re all waiting for the Knicks vs. Heat Eastern Conference Finals to generate any excitement on this coast. Given a healthy Chandler and Kidd, ala Championship Mavericks, my choice remains Knicks over Heat for a spot in the NBA Finals.

The West is where intrigue lives. The Clippers and Grizzles rematch from last season looked like a contest, until Dennis Scott reminded me of two offseason moves that favor the Grizzlies: the release of Reggie Evans and Kenyon Martin. Did you really expect Deandre Jordan and Blake Griffin to BANG with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol? When Chris Paul has to go off for thirty points and game winning drives at home, bet on the grind house in six. The Spurs, against a Lakers roster stockpiled with future hall of famers, would have swept a healthy Kobe Bryant all the same. We’re still waiting for Harden to drop fifty on the Thunder before the Rockets go on vacation. Though Durant will have a transcendental second round series, the effects of the Harden trade and Westbrook injury will practically guide my Spurs into the Finals.

I’m having a hard time calling a clear cut winner between the Nuggets and Warriors. The obvious break out player of the playoffs so far is Stephen Curry! Then again, he’s also the softest star player left, and is expected to survive alternating nights of intensity> When his coach started mentioning hit men in regard to grazing fouls, older fans of the game immediately knew that boy wouldn’t have survived the nineties.

So really, not much has changed in the NBA since my last review of the season, with the exception of Jason Collins revealing his homosexual orientation. The best part about these gay admissions is when the ex-wife claims to have not known; sure. I begged and pleaded for Jeremy Lin to explode out of the closet and stake a realistic claim to athletic equality across sexual orientation. Jason Collins’ announcement has been blown far out of proportion, because he doesn’t have a memorable basketball related moment. He’s so far out of basketball, that his announcement sounds like a cry for employment. To reiterate, because goodness forbid I’m not sensitive about the topic, I’m Pro-Homo; however, mentioning Jason Collins and Jackie Robinson in the same breathe desensitizes me to the seriousness of this discussion. The reality of the matter is this isn’t breaking news and networks are forcing the issue; so please stop interrupting my games with replays of Jason Collins taking charges from Shaquille O’Neal, to not make a point.

NCAA Women’s Basketball 2013

With the NBA Playoffs right around the corner, and the Kevin Ware fueled men’s college game in the rearview, here’s to the ladies.

The face of women’s college basketball for the past two years has been Brittney Griner. Brittney initially exploded onto the national scene with superficial criticism regarding her physique, followed by multiple in-game dunks, and highlighted by a National Championship last year. This year, after cruising through an undefeated regular season, her Baylor Lady Bears cruised into the Elite Eight of this year’s tournament before flaming out against the Louisville Cardinals. Brittney’s final season should be remembered for her bold proclamation: no one can beat us except for the Miami Heat (in the midst of their historic win streak nonetheless). I had the privilege of watching the second half of their collapse, and must commend Odyssey Sims on her performance for the Lady Bears; to imply that Brittney threw that game would be an understatement. Although Brittney was offensively limited due to constant double teams from a zone defense, she disappeared completely on defense and watched a layup line ensue.

With Baylor gone, the nation turned to Skylar Diggins and Notre Dame to carry women’s basketball athletics into the limelight. Immediately following Brittney’s sellout, we were treated to an emotionally charged Skylar carrying Notre Dame into the Final Four. Notre Dame then lost their next game, and the Connecticut Huskies subsequently won their eighth national championship. For perspective, Connecticut and Tennessee account for sixteen of the thirty two national championships in NCAAW basketball history. As it turns out, I can’t recall who won Most Outstanding Player, or name any of the Connecticut players after Maya Moore and Tina Charles left; alas, their coach, Geno Auriemma, is who will be remembered.

The women’s game needs marketable names, not Mark Cuban instigating the likelihood of a woman in the NBA. Elena Delle Donne of Delaware is the favorite to usurp the title during her senior season. While we’re aware of Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker entering the men’s college ranks as definite one and done lottery picks, it’s far more difficult to stay abreast of incoming female stars. Pay attention, as the weather warms and women storm the courts in ever increasing numbers, because they’re so far under the radar, it’s not far-fetched to find yourself playing with one.

Why I Walk in the AM

My warm weather mornings used to begin with a jog, or sprint intervals between pot holes; ever progressing towards a healthier lifestyle, I recently decided to walk in the mornings instead. While it’s a given that my ethnicity is particularly at risk for high blood pressure and heart disease, it’s less well known that mornings are a terrible time for anyone to strenuously exercise.

We’re 40 % more prone to suffer coronary emergencies between the hours of 6 am and noon. My mother rehashes every story about young adults who keel over and die moments after shoveling their driveway. You’re aware of reports of fit athletes losing consciousness and being pronounced dead in the middle of morning practices. Like the quiet carcinogenic effects of working the graveyard shift, without the declaration of a Public Service Announcement, it’s easy to believe these fatal occurrences are merely coincidental, rather than the result of a series of unfortunate circumstances.

After hours spent sleeping in a horizontal position, our blood circulation slows, allows blood to sit, and results in a body filled with the thickest blood supply of the day. Imagine drinking juice from a fresh straw, then a milkshake from a used straw, the difference is that stark.

Taking it easy on your body doesn’t mean you need to sit around either. Although I barely regard walking as exercise, a brisk walk is a great morning activity substitute. The pace prevents you from feeling rushed, the atmosphere allows you to think, and weather factors are less likely to keep you indoors. Have a good morning, every morning, for a long time!

First 5k of 2013

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Yesterday I ran my first 5k of 2013, and recorded a personally respectable 3.5 miles in 28:01; so a little over a 5k. The day before, a friend presented their 29:38 to me. I was very proud and congratulatory of their accomplishment, having crossed the 30 minute barrier for the first time. Their progress then put my aerobic condition in perspective, and led to my taking advantage of a sunny day with a high of fifty degrees.

I started near the Fort Hamilton circle where the road was flat. My pace felt run of the mill, until halfway through the first mile, when I caught sight of some high school students. They seemed to maintain a lead around every bend, so I used our distance to pace me; which generally means I make an effort to pass, or not fall behind at least. There were six of them, I passed half of the group three quarters through the first mile; then the fourth runner wouldn’t relent.

Our back and forth routine coincided with the hill, where the burning sensation was immediate. I can usually chug passed soccer moms and recreational runners, especially on the incline. Sometimes a NYRR club member will zoom by, and I’ll give chase for however long I can before tapering off; those guys are unbelievable! On this day, the young man overtook me for good once we ascended the hill, and maintained a distance of five strides at most; I couldn’t muster the energy to challenge him. It bothered me for a while, I watched myself linger behind him for another mile and a half. Remember there were six, two of them just took off and left us to battle for third; a young man and woman, kudos to them!

My chest burned afterwards, prompting internal bleeding and premature death jokes. Took a seat to watch swans, drink a protein shake, and let my kneecaps throb. Harking back to running in the rain, it’s all about resolve. Feel free to link me on RunKeeper, life is better fit, and best with a challenge.

NBA All Star Weekend

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The actual game started 45 minutes after its scheduled 8 pm start; rightfully, some in-game booing remained from the preceding Sears Entertainment Showcase. Every stoppage in play provided an excuse for Kia, All State, and whoever Kyrie Irving ages for, to advertise with a musical act. Excessive theatrics and commercials aside, the game itself was very touchy; the frequency of airborne players getting shoved deterred the star power. For perspective, even Kobe Bryant passed up open jumpers, so you know.

Commentators have long insinuated that an All Star Game player agreement exists to defer to the host. Knowing this, was it me or did James Harden, Houston Rockets star, act like a prima donna? He walked the ball up and generally looked frustrated coming off the bench again. Bosh didn’t appreciate being embarrassed either, which could have been another Houston connection problem. I tried switching to the D-League All Star Game between acts, only to be reminded of the talent gap; ultimately skipped the final quarter, and imagine the final two minutes of play dragged on for half an hour.

At least the three point contest remained somewhat pure after all of these years. When I heard Terrence Ross ASK Jeremy Evans to keep the final round of the Dunk Contest prop free, my choice was made for me; of course this request was made before Evans trotted out a painting of himself. This year’s dunk field was so impressive on paper, that last year’s winner, Jeremy Evans, should have been the worst dunker of the bunch. Even though we were robbed of a Terrence Ross vs Gerald Green Finals because of the lame East vs. West gimmick, James White’s dejected face was gold! Also, if we must allow multiple attempts, then at least subtract a point per missed dunk from the dunker’s final score! Jason Richardson remains the best All Star Game dunker after Vince Carter, followed by Gerald Green, Andre Iguodala, and Terrence Ross in some order.

I should have watched the bad zombie television show instead… If you’re wondering who won what contest this weekend, then you’ve missed the point; we all lost.

Super Bowl Sunday Special

It’s Sunday, the Super Bowl is too large to ignore! Please note my Patriots over the 49ers Super Bowl pick from the Conference Round, unlike pre-game talking heads, I own my losses; of course, when I win, you must never forget that I celebrated President Obama’s second term before he won! My record for the new year so far: one win, two losses.

I would like to make the sentimental pick here: Ray Lewis’ bon voyage season concludes with a Championship ala Michael Strahan and Michael Jordan; it would probably help if his name were Michael Lewis. The problem with the sentimental pick is that it flies in the face of the better team. After dominant wins over dominant teams, and despite a few hiccups, the 49ers were arguably the best football team all season. And yet, there are logical reasons to side with sentiment. The 49ers did fall to far lesser teams, and the Ravens did pull out victories over two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in games they were favored against. Sentiments are emotional though, the pick is still tied to the dream of a fairy tale ending, instead of inexcusable confidence. Colin Kaepernick has played like a veteran, crushed a playoff quarterback rushing record, and won on the road when it mattered against the league’s best home team.

There’s more sentiment, my anti-sentiment towards the polarizing arrogance of Jim Harbaugh. I was a Jim Harbaugh fan in his playing days, I was also a Jeff George fan, a Warren Moon fan, and a Ken O’Brien fan… Basically, I rooted for quarterbacks who kept losing, liked the allure of the upset, and wanted to be inspired by the underdog. Today, Captain Comeback has reinvented himself as the hard-nosed coach who revitalized football in San Francisco, previously the home of west coast finesse. We both changed in this equation, and there is a solid discomfort associated with coming full circle.

Sentiment aside, I’m picking the 49ers to win, and even my record for the year; I’m going to need the clean slate before the NBA Playoffs. An on-field Ray Lewis collision with Colin Kaepernick’s immediately dislocated hip would still make my evening; and somehow, I find myself worrying more about Lewis’ miracle recovery being derailed. Flukes aside, give me second string Alex Smith over Joe Flacco anyhow. I win either way, just know, I care more about my record than a story. Enjoy the game and chime in with my tweets during the game!