Tag: NBA

MLK Is The New Black…Oh Wait.

First of all, many thanks to Dr. King for taking one for the team.

The irony of course being that in an effort to silence him via assassination, the idiot behind the barrel instead gave him one of the loudest eternal voices to ever grace our nation. MLK 1, James Earl Ray 0.

MLK: It Does A Nation Good

Make no mistake, you’ve really got to show respect for a guy who acted as a fearless voice for so many people unable to be heard. Sure, Dr. King had his fair share of critics…people like FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who saw King as a troublemaker. People who worked to discredit him by exposing details of his personal life…which were far from savory. No one is perfect, and while I respect Dr. King’s accomplishments with the civil rights movement, I do not respect his well-known womanizing and adulterating ways.

But back to today.

I wonder what Dr. King would be doing if he was still around in 2012. At almost 83 years old, I picture him as a keynote speaker at the finest political, charitable and red carpet events. He’d definitely be on the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, considering he was the youngest person to receive the award for his efforts to bring an end to racial segregation and discrimination through nonviolent means.

He’d surely be writing books, continuously pushing young authors such as myself off the NY Times Best Seller list month after month. But that’s OK. We writers typically peak when we’re older anyway, so he can have the spotlight for a while. Not for nothing, but I’m certain we’d see him courtside at some NBA games. I’m thinking he’d be a Hawks fan since he was born in the ATL. He’d obviously be the Godfather of Jay-Z and Beyonce’s new kid, and would more than likely have some sort of life-enlightening show on Ms. Winfrey’s new TV network.

But most of all, I think Dr. King would still be a beacon of hope for the kids today. Hell, even for the adults. The entire entity of nondiscriminatory thinking unfortunately still has a long way to go. We all still have a lot of work to do to end ignorance and embrace the differences that make us the stellar nation we have become. I’d personally like us to reach the day I can walk down the street with my khaki-colored boyfriend and not get judgmental looks from passers by. Get over it people. It’s 2012.

Dr. King’s accomplishments may have paved the way for a better world, but it is up to us to actually follow that path and not allow ourselves to be influenced by compromising roadblocks. So thank you Dr. King, for following the passion placed inside of you. Not everyone may agree with the manner of your efforts, but knowing you made a difference is surely a reward that only a select few will experience the true honor of owning.

Why You Shouldn’t Dislike Joakim Noah

As a sports lover and writer, it’s always irritating to see a pro athlete step out of line and do something that causes disruption in a game. But what irritates me even more, is when said events are prompted from an unruly or disrespectful fan or commentator.

Are You Talkin' To Me?

Maybe I’m playing favorites with the most recent occurrence of this because I like Joakim Noah. The Chicago Bulls’ player was fined $50,000 for being caught in a moment and retorting with an offensive gay slur toward a fan who was heckling him.

Was it wrong? Yes.

Would it have happened had he not been prompted by the fan’s initial verbal contribution? No.

As wacky as Noah may appear, as outlandish as his antics can sometimes be, I believe that he is a good kid. (Ugh, am I already at that point in life where I’m calling people younger than me kid?) Anyway, when I see Noah, I still see the same rookie I first met in Orlando during summer league a few years back…carrying a backpack with his contract inside. Literally inside. And I see a kid who, at the time, was so clueless about what was about to hit him as he entered the league. Sure Noah has his moments, like many of these guys. But don’t we all?

I can’t help but think I’d do the same thing he did that night on the court. Actually, I know I would. Not the same verbiage, but I’d most certainly react. It drives me mad to see players hassled. I mean, you can’t forget about Ron Artest back in the day. Player vs. Fan madness. Entertaining to some, stomach-turning to others…like me.

Unfortunately some fans forget that these guys are at WORK. Hello? Would you like it if Noah came to your office and yelled at you for your performance that day? I’m gona go with “NO” on that.

It’s hard to really understand the pressure that any athlete is under when they are at work. And maybe I can see the difference between a job and entertainment because I am smart and clever and write about these guys (and deserve to work on SportsCenter) and see what it all entails. But still, there should be an unspoken mutual respect from those on the court and those in the stands.

Surely there is nothing wrong with cheering, booing, or yelling out in general if you are so inclined. But when you start aggressively directing things toward particular individuals, it’s just not right. And I’ve been to enough NBA games to know that there are, in fact, guidelines established by the arenas that fans are expected to follow while in attendance. Basically don’t act like an idiot or do anything to hinder the experience.

This was disregarded recently, as I’m sure it will be again and again. But I say, if you’re going to fine a player, fine the fan as well. What gives the fan the right to heckle or disrespect someone? And don’t give me the boring old, “Well he makes a gazillion dollars and I paid for my seat and should be able to blah blah blah” excuse.

I’m not buying it. Fans, like this guy, should own up to his actions just like Noah did.

The NBA continues to let fans get away with bad behavior. My gut tells me that this will only make the league’s image worse. (Yes, it’s possible.) Commissioner Stern needs to lay down some sort of solidified clarification on how he wants the NBA to be perceived.

After all, it’s supposed to be team vs. team. Not player vs. fan.

Al Horford, Restaurant Advice…Oh, And The Heat

It wasn’t the first time I’ve chatted with Al Horford.

I mean, technically, I did give him a stellar restaurant suggestion (which he loved by the way), when I ran into him at a crosswalk in downtown Orlando last year…but that wasn’t exactly a notable event.

Photo courtesy of ESPN.com

Tonight was pretty fun though. We hit it off right away because we are both, of course, Florida Gators…even though I was already out of school for like 500 years by the time he was in Gainesville, working his way toward the coveted National Championship title.

Either way, he’s a good kid. While you may already know that he was chosen 3rd overall by the Hawks in the 2007 NBA draft, he also played in the NBA All-Star Rookie Challenge in 2008, and won Rookie of the Month four times during his rookie season. Horford remains a crucial link to the Hawks lineup. Oh, and he’s also a soft talker…something I told him I wouldn’t print, but of course I did anyway.

Indeed he remembered our encounter at the crosswalk in O-town…I tend to make a good first impression. Actually it was my purse made out of candy wrappers that caught his attention, not little ol’ me. “What is that thing?” he inquired.

Thanks to a mutual friend who helped set up our meeting tonight, he was nice enough to take some time to chat with me after the game.

“I thought you lived in Orlando last time I saw you…you’re like everywhere now or something?” I assured him that no, even though I dabble in travel, I am not a phantom making my way around the world. I am planted firmly in the 305 these days…forcing my way through Heat games, silently craving the luster of the Magic on the court.

He nods.

After a bit of chatter over my adoration for the city of Hotlanta, the Braves, Little Five Points and Fellini’s Pizza, I inquire about his thoughts on how he sees himself as a player (on the court, not off).

With the Hawks throwing the Heat back into simmer mode tonight with a winning score of 93 to 89 in overtime, Horford remains humble. And despite an ankle sprain he obtained in the third quarter tonight, he is still pleasant. Typical of his character, he is a refreshing page in a book of overdone, overexposed, and overconfident professional athletes.

It is all-too-often suggested that he is still caught up in what seems to be the never-ending rotation between Center and PF positions. Yet he never seems to say much about it either way. He simply goes out on the court, does his job, and calls it a night. Tonight was no different. He simply complimented the work of the team and their focus on the games ahead. Day by day.

“Any good restaurants we can hit tonight?” he asks as we part ways.

Apparently one suggestion goes a long way with this guy. Too bad his game is on point, because I’m curious to see how far my suggestions on that issue would go. And I’m starting to think he has mistaken me for a restaurant reviewer, not a sports writer.

“Yeah, wait until you get home and hit Fellini’s for a pizza…and feel free to FedEx one down to me. Happy writers make for better articles.”

He smiles (adorably) and saunters away. I really hope he sends me that pizza from Fellini’s.

Game Day, Kevin Garnett…And My French Manicure

Nothing helps me pounce out of bed early in the morning like game day during the NBA Playoffs!!

Even more so, an interview with one of my all-time favorite players…who just happens to be a member of the opposing team. Always fun, always kind of intimidating, too.

I’ve been beaming since the Magic’s win in overtime of Game 4. Now with Game 5 tipping off tonight in Orlando, I am like a kid in a candy store…or more accurately, me in a candy store. My God, how I love candy.

Unlike the (far too many) bandwagon fans in Orlando whom I have already told to bite me, I have ALWAYS stood by my boys no matter how bad, or let’s face it, how embarassing a loss they may have endured. Or three losses in the case of this series. Heartbreaking, but alas, Game 5 is here.

Game 4 proved that the Magical flame has been reignited! I do believe it also sparked excitement for fans as well. Sitting downtown on my game day lunch/writing retreat, I can feel the energy in downtown Orlando. Worker bees pass by chatting about tonight’s game, the odds, the good, the bad, and the ugly of games already passed. Business men don blue and white ties, servers sport Magic T-shirts, ‘Go Magic’ signage drapes the city. I love it!

As I ventured off to (a very lucky last minute) interview for ESPN mobile this morning with Kevin Garnett, a.k.a. The Enemy, as I openly referred to him, I noticed even the valet guys are in the spirit of things at the Celtics’ hotel.

Seeing Kevin makes me realize I should have worn heels because I really do feel like a cookie-making Keebler elf next to him in flats. Either way, I have to say that yes, it is difficult to have to remain unbiased writing articles with an opposing team member.

I mean, of COURSE I want the Magic to win. Of COURSE I want my team to advance and smack either Kobe or Amare back to the West Coast…however, when these tallies are so sweet to me during interviews, I feel like a semi-traitor. But I’m a strong cookie-making elf…and I do not falter.

So I wish KG a happy belated birthday and try to inquire about what happened in Game 4…and more importantly what will happen tonight. So how will #5 fare in Game 5?

According to KG, “The team who wants it the most will win.”

“So I guess you didn’t want to win in Game 4 then?” I asked. To which his response was a blank stare, followed by, “Nice french manicure.”

Wow, I thought. Is it really this easy to distract a Celtic? Or was my clever trash talk just too much for KG to handle? Ok, lets be real…neither.

“Good to see you haven’t changed,” he told me. Last time I had to interview KG he claimed I was very sarcastic, but it was something he respected. I said he was sweet, didn’t I?

Last time I told him I liked that he got into fights during the games because it gives me more to write about. He didn’t find that as clever. After thirty minutes or so, our chatter concludes and I thank him for the interview.

I mumble “Go Magic” as we parted ways, to which he shakes his head, throws his hand up and says, “She’s gotta have the last word. Good bye, Marissa!”