Josh Howard and racism

19 09 2008

I am a huge Dallas Mavericks fan.  But, I have about had it with Josh Howard.  I’ve known for a while now that he is completely brainless.  But, gee wizz Josh, can you please lock yourself in a gym somewhere?  Please?

For those of you that don’t know what I am talking about here is a list of Josh Howard stunts pulled in the last 5 months (really in 3 months if you consider this latest antic was pulled back in July and is just now coming to the attention of the public).

  1. April 25 – Josh decided that the day of Game 3 in the Mavs first round playoff series with New Orleans Hornets that it would be a perfect time to call up a local radio station and proclaim himself as an avid marijuana smoker.
  2. April 27 – During that same series, coach Avery Johnson found out that Josh was planning a birthday bash for himself on the same night as game 4 of the series.  In no uncertain terms, he specifically instructed everyone on the team to not attend any parties during the playoff run.  So, Josh responded by handing out flyers in the locker room and going forward with his party as planned.  In disgust, Avery cancelled practice the next day after several Mavs were out late at the party.  (Guess who got fired…Avery)
  3. July 31 – Josh got arrested for drag racing in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
  4. This week news got out that back in July Josh had disrespected the Star Spangled Banner during a charity event back in July.  On tape, Josh is heard saying “The Star Spangled Banner’s going on right now and I don’t celebrate that s***. I’m black.”  Here is the clip for your viewing pleasure (warning – the language may not be suitable for younger viewers…parental discretion is advised).

I think each of those events in and of themselves are forgivable.  Together they have taken Josh Howard from fan favorite to fan goat.  (That and the fact that he seems to have slowly and completely disappeared on the basketball court after signing his big $40 million dollar contract – but that’s for a different post).

So, I have been sitting back and absorbing all of these incidents and fairly quickly going from a Josh lover to a Josh hater along with all the other Mavs fans in these parts.  And, then I saw Mark Cuban’s latest post at his blog, and I was struck by something else altogether.  (Edit – Since this post, Mark has removed his original post and replaced it with this one).

There are a lot of racist people in this world.  How people can email Mark with some of this trash is completely beyond me.  Granted, not everyone in his compilation of “Josh advice” emails is racist, but a large percentage of them are.  I know what Josh said in regards to the Star Spangled Banner is appalling and a slap in the face to all the people who died to make it possible for him to earn his $10 million a year, but, come on, people.  I am not comfortable living in a world where there are so many people willing to call him a ni**** just because he said something stupid.

Good grief, people.  It’s not ok to think that way or say things like that.  It’s wrong.  Quit it…for God’s sakes…Stop.

So, to summarize, Josh, please seek help.  And, to you idiot racists out there, enough is enough…dig a hole and jump in.

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2008 NBA finals

6 06 2008

NBA Finals

I feel like a kid again watching the NBA finals this year.  I remember watching the Lakers and the Celtics back in the 80s.  Man, I loved the Lakers.  I was a HUGE Kareem Abdul Jabbar fan.  And, I loved watching Magic Johnson work his magic.  Loved everything about the Showtime Lakers.  James Worthy, Byron Scott, Kurt Rambis, AC Greene, Michael Cooper.  I loved all those guys.

 

And, I absolutely hated the Celtics.  Larry Bird drove me crazy.  Even then, I respected him as a basketball player which was why I couldn’t stand him.  I didn’t like Kevin McHale or Robert Parrish or Dennis Johnson.  The one I hated the most was Danny Ainge.  Really, there was no reason not to like those guys, but I didn’t.  I guess that’s sports.

My, how times have changed.  I do feel like a kid again watching these two teams square off.  But, it’s funny how my loyalties have completely changed.  Don’t get me wrong…I am still not a big fan of the Celtics (although I have always been a KG fan).  But, I hate the Lakers now way more than I ever hated the Celtics as a kid.  I do not like Kobe Cryant at all.  I don’t like any of the present day Lakers.

Leading up to this series, I have been reminiscing about the old 80s Lakers v. Celtics series.  But, I didn’t really think this series would feel like those did.  I didn’t really think there would be that much of a rivalry feeling between these teams.  But, I do have to say after watching Game 1, that there was a unique quality to this series that does kind of remind me of the rivalry that I knew as a kid.  It will be interesting to see if it lasts for the entire series.  I hope it does!

Watching Kevin Garnett pound that rebound through the hoop over Pau Gasol was awesome!  And, Paul Pierce was the man tonight.  Wow!

It’s fun feeling like a kid again.

My wife and I went to see the Mavericks play in Boston in ’06.  The Mavericks have great arena fan fare and atmosphere, but they can’t touch the Celtics.  The Celtics don’t have to do anything but point to the rafters.  It’s easy for them to create a video montage that can generate energy, excitement, and enthusiasm from their crowd.  Afterall, they have footage from 16 previous championship journeys to choose from.  When I saw that in person, I was blown away.  What a team legacy.  I just sat there and wished for one…just one…championship from my team.  They can’t even think about building a legacy at this point.  But, they are still my team and I will keep pulling for them.  Go Mavs!

Anyway, back to the point of this post…this series is going to be fun to watch.  Short of Dallas winning the title, the next best thing, for me, is to see Kobe cry before these playoffs are over.  Go Boston…you are my last hope!





Basketball sharing

4 06 2008

When I get ready in the mornings, I like to listen to sports talk radio.  This morning, they were discussing the recently released Sports Illustrated list of the 50 top paid athletes.  It is unbelievable how much money athletes earn in this world.  They made the point that many of the top 50 were basketball players.

Soon after listening to the discussion on the radio, I heardBasketballs my kids screaming at each other in the other room.  I calmly walked in there and asked what the problem was.  Essentially, they were both laying claim to the same basketball at the same time.  There were probably 5 basketballs laying within 6 feet of this particular altercation, but still they were having a yelling match over this one.

After being unable to figure out who had the ball first or having one of them volunteer to play with a different ball, I simply took the ball away from both of them and walked away.  Case closed.  Both kids happily moved on with their lives.

That got me thinking.  We have so much wealth in the world and we have so much poverty in the world.  Why is it so difficult to share?  Why do we have 1 athlete making $120 million a year when we have 120 million people living on $1 a day?

I think part of it boils down to the childish attitudes that most of us have about materials and possessions.  We think we are entitled to things and that we have to build up territorial walls to protect that which is rightfully ours.  We think that we have earned everything we have.  We don’t think we should be the ones to share.  Our hearts go out to those less fortunate than us, but when it comes down to giving from what we have, we are unwilling to pull the trigger.

And, I am talking to myself as much as anyone else.  I try to help those around me and give as generously as I can.  But, when push comes to shove, I want to make sure that my family is comfortable and has a future protected against financial constraints.

So, what will it take for the world to change?  What will it take for me to change?  What will it take for some of us to give up the basketball we are all trying to hold on to and pick up another one of our many basketballs laying beside us on the floor?  What governing body has the guts and the power to swoop in and redistribute the basketball from the spoiled screaming bunch of us and give it to a kid that has never even laid eyes on a basketball before?

Do I ask for too much?

Maybe the best thing I can personally do to help is to break this materialistic cycle with my kids.  I want to not only teach them that there are poor people in the world, but I want them to catch glimpses of what it feels like to be in need.  Be it through our friends at the Samaritan Inn, by helping people we meet on the streets, through people that walk through our church doors, or through some other avenue, I want them to have personal relationships with those in our midst that know what it means to live in need.  I want them to recognize the gap between the wealthy and the poor and look for ways to bridge it.

Maybe we need to gather up our basketballs and take them to the Samaritan Inn…

Afterall, it’s not the one with the most basketballs who wins the prize…but it may be the one who gives the most away…





The problem with the NBA

28 05 2008

NBAIn my opinion, the biggest problem with the NBA is the subjectivity of the referees.  This was on full display last night in game 4 of the Lakers vs. Spurs Western Conference finals series.  Brent Barry got the ball with just a couple seconds left, pump faked and got Derek Fisher to bite and jump into the air.  As Fisher came down, there was obvious contact between him and Barry.  Barry’s mistake was in seemingly trying to avoid contact instead of leaning into Fisher which would have almost certainly forced the ref to blow the whistle.  But, since he appeared to try to elude contact, the ref opted for the non-call.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am not a Spurs apologist.  In fact the best thing about this series is that either the Lakers or the Spurs are going to lose!

But, this play just illustrates what is in my opinion the biggest problem that the NBA has.  There is just too much subjectivity on the part of the officials.  They call the game based on the context of the game.  There is something inehently wrong with that.  In other words, early in the game, the contact between Fisher and Barry would have almost certainly been a foul, but at this point, in this context, it was not.  It’s either a foul or it’s not a foul….right?  Apparently not.

And, this modus operandi is just commonly accepted among everyone associated with the game including players, coaches, analysts, beat writers, broadcasters, etc etc…

On every single possession, there is one or more calls that could be made and it is left entirely up to the three officials on the court to make a subjective decision on whether or not to blow the whistle.

One classic situation that happens all the time in the NBA is the late whistle foul.  In this situation, a player drives to the basket and takes some contact in the act of shooting a lay-up.  The ball bounces around the rim and eventually falls out.  It isn’t until that point that the referee blows the whistle.  Clearly, the referee is waiting to see if the ball went before making the decision to blow the whistle.  So, if the ball had gone in, this would not have been a foul, but since it bouced out, the whistle blows.  This situation drives me insane everytime I see it.  Do they think we are idiots?  Either it’s a foul or it’s not a foul.  Whether or not the ball goes through the basket should not make any difference.  But, everyone knows that it does.  And, we all just accept this as part of the game.

So, what can be done to address this problem?  Well, that’s why it is the NBA’s biggest problem in my opinion…because there is absolutely nothing that can be done about it.  It will constantly lead to consipiracy theories, to outcomes such as last night’s game where the ref basically dictated the result, to star players getting the benefit of the doubt calls, to rookies getting the rookie calls, to floppers, to whiney players, to dirty players (ie – Ginoble, Duncan, Bowen, and oh yeah….Derek Fisher), etc etc.

So, what am I trying to say?  Well, mostly that I love the NBA, but I hate this aspect of it and it frustrates me to no end season after season.





This was the kid

20 05 2008

Today was a very sad day. I have posted before about the Jubilee Kids Club program Hurricane Cupcakesthat my friends and I have started at the Samaritan Inn here in McKinney. Well, today we got word that one of our little buddies at the Inn was involved in an off-site accident in which he drowned. This little boy was one of the first kids we met back in February. He was so vibrant and full of life.

This was the kid that was so full of life and energy that we had to keep a special eye on him because you just didn’t quite know what he was going to do next.

This was the kid that nearly had to be restrained inside the building one cool morning in March while we made him wait for someone to bring him a jacket.

This was the kid that just wanted to go outside and play. He just wanted to play. He just wanted to play and play and play.

This was the kid that couldn’t wait to get outside in the sun. He played on the swing. He played in the yard. He played football. He played kickball. He played soccer. He played basketball. He played all of the above…at the same time.

This was the kid that played basketball with me on a make-shift basket out in the playground over and over and over again….and then we played again. We must have played 20 times. And, guess who won every game? That’s right, and he not only beat me every time, he smoked me.

This was the kid that made me laugh because he liked to make up new rules each time I got the basketball… the same rules that for some reason or another might or might not have applied to him when he got the ball.

This was the kid that when I asked him which basketball player he was, he said Reggie Bush! I asked him what NBA team Reggie Bush played for, but he didn’t hear me because he was already on to something else.

This was the kid that wore slippers for his Air-Jordans and a white tank top for his jersey.

This was the kid that had two beautiful sisters that we all thought were twins. But, it turns out, one was his twin and the other was their older sister.

This was the kid that came to Dallas with his family from New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They were trying to make their way in a new place and in a new school and in a new kind of whirlwind.

This was the kid that we brought cupcakes for in April because we knew we were coming on his and his sister’s birthday. We were sad when they weren’t there that day. We had to enjoy the cupcakes without them.

This was the kid that ultimately left this world too young, too early, and with too much playing left to do.

This is the kid that my friends and I will dearly miss.

This is the kid that I will think about everytime I shoot a basket in that make-shift goal out in the playground.

This is the kid that I will remember everytime I see Reggie Bush run for a touchdown as I wonder if he would make a good basketball player.

This is the kid that I will honor with every cupcake I eat.

This is the kid that I hope to see again someday in a better place. A place without homeless shelters, a place without hurricanes, a place with no need for jackets to go out and play, a place where everyday is a celebration of someone’s birthday, a place where his smile will last for a few thousand years and then a few thousand more.

A place we can both call home together.





Greatest moment in Mavs history

5 05 2008

What is the greatest moment in Dallas Mavericks history?  Well, it is pictured to the right.

When that moment happened 2 years ago, I thought the Mavs were on their way to winning a championship.  Honestly, I thought that they would be contenders for a title for several years to come.  For those of you non-sportsnuts like myself, Dirk made a 3-point play (See Ginoble’s foul there?) to push Game 7 to OverTime and an eventual win going away on the Spurs homecourt.

Boy, how times change.  They end up beating Phoenix that year in the conference championship series and then go up 2-0 in the Finals to Miami.  Then, they choke it all away.

Then they fool us all again, winning 67 games in the regular season the next season and locking up the #1 overall seed in the playoffs.  Then comes Golden State.  Another huge embarrassing collapse.

I remember reading Jerry Stackhouse’s quote at the beginning of this year.  To paraphrase, “Either going to the finals was a fluke or getting knocked out in the first round was a fluke, this year we will find out”.  Well, I think he was right.  We all found out. 

Dirk said last week, “For me, personally, I feel like it’s another wasted year”.  I feel exactly the same way as Dirk.

As a die-hard Mavs fan, I don’t have a lot to put my hope in either.  I think they do have some flexibility in their roster that might give them the ability to make a deal or two in the off-season.  But, I am not sure I see anything that can put them back to an elite contender status right away.  Maybe I am just a glass is half empty kind of guy, but I definitely need something big to happen to renew my excitement and get me out of this funk. 

And, hiring Rick Carlisle is not exactly what I am talking about.  I think he will be fine, but he doesn’t make me excited again.  I need to see something big.  And, I just don’t see what it could be.  But, I hope that Cuban and Little Nellie can come up with something to renew my excitement in a team that had me so caught up in excitement this time two years ago that I could hardly stand it.

Please, Sports Gods, please make things right for the Mavs.  They were the worst franchise in all of sports in the 90s and they got exactly zero #1 overall picks to show for it and only one in the top 3.  Meanwhile, the Spurs got two #1 overall picks exactly ten years apart (David Robinson and Tim Duncan).  They have 4 titles to show for that.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Which brings me back to the greatest moment in Mavs history.  When that moment happened, I thought for sure, it wouldn’t be their greatest moment for very long.  Now, it really looks like I am going to have to wait awhile for something better.  As a Mavs fan, I guess I should be getting good at waiting…