About My Pain

I trained for my own pain
believing it would be relieved in success,
such so to override the pain it took to get there,
yet never realizing that I trained for my own pain.

I am who I am. And it will be what it will be,
but I can’t see beyond the misery.
I made the me I am, for the dream of who I am,
yet unaware that I trained for my own pain.
The pain is freely given for those on this road, need no tarots for this is no
mystery.

Simply and shamelessly gullibly ignorantly oblivious to my training for for my own pain.
Not enough paint can paint the painting to my pain.
Can’t point the finger knowing I was the master of my slavery.

I trained for my pain to become a slave–unknowingly.
I’m the me I am that created the slave I am,
unnoticing the grave I’m digging for where I’ll lay one day.

Not sure how I didn’t realize that I was training for my own pain, yet a pain I didn’t train for, but no less adore.

Pro Black

In wake of Kanye West’s latest intentionally, incorporated rant into his on stage performance during his Yeezus Tour, I realized that if he and others want the change they seek, as African Americans than they should really be that change. The rant suggested that Michael Jordan should have been able to transcend his play on the court, which made the NBA a very entertaining league and the Chicago Bulls the valuable franchise it is, into a position in the front office. But instead Jordan went on to work, then play for the wizards, as a necessary step to allowing him to gain the inroads to ownership….which didn’t happen while there.

If Jordan, Magic, Jay-z, Oprah, Tiger, and Shaq wanted to own a team they could (Jordan does and Magic has a minority share) by putting their resources together, then establish the organization. An organization that can be the opportunity the way they wished they had, when they were fighting to prominent places.

Those aforementioned mega stars aren’t the only people that can do this. Players like Gilbert Arenas, Joe Johnson, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Kobe Bryant could save and pool their resources to own, by buying an NBA franchise.

These players who make their organizations special can one day run a special organization in a way they wish they had played for, during their tenure as players. This will change the culture through sacrifice and team work. The only way! It will alter horizons for young kids coming up. Seeing beyond the game while creating a better environment for the game. This goes for other industries too.

In Re Firing Coaches

With the speculation of Jason Kidd’s job and Mike Woodson’s job being in the crosshairs of the firing gun, with just under a quarter of the season being complete, it’s hard to appreciate the idea that the teams’ collective success, or lack thereof is their fault respectively. Coaches often times deserve to be fired. But in these two situations, I can’t help but to think the players need to bear the burden.

As for the Knicks, you have two 100 million dollar players, as far as what they are being paid, in Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudamire, but they can’t play together, and they can’t win on their own. A coach’s job is to get them to work together or talk to the GM to affect a trade. But when you have two superstars!? It’s the superstars. They are the ones playing. And, these guys don’t care about any coach! They are getting PAID playing basketball. Melo is getting all the shots he wants, but can’t make his teammates better. These guys lack motivation internally, that no coach can give them. Melo needs to sit on the bench and let people who can similarly lose games, but want to play, play. Let those guys earn their keep somehow.

As for Brooklyn? Ha. The expectations were too high, and for no good reason. You can’t bring in three guys from a squad and expect them to mesh well with the old guys. There is a war of factions within thy squad. Then they have to learn to play well together. But then consider the fact that Brooklyn is old. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce aren’t as motivated as they get ever closer to retirement. Not to mention injuries, especially to Deron Williams. They haven’t had their core team play together often enough. It’s a learning process. The big 3 of the Heat lost a lot their first year together. Then, you add a first year coach who was just playing with these guys on the court last year, in J Kidd. It’s hard to go from one of the guys to being on the other side as a coach. You have to give him a chance to make it work. Management had to have taken that dynamic into consideration when hiring him. Give that man a legit shot. Damn. The players have to play hard and execute on the court.

Currently the Knicks and Nets aren’t presenting a quality package on the court. Blaming the coaches is a mean cop out when you have legit superstars on your team. Basically, give some responsibility to Carmelo. And, let Kidd have a real shot at coaching.

The Correlation of Gentrification to the Deterioration of College Basketball

After watching the two “best players” in the country play last night (Kansas v. Duke) in Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, I came to a couple of conclusions: 1) Parker is head and shoulders better than Andrew Wiggins as a basketball player even though Kansas came away with the win; and  2) There was a time when most basketball players looked like both of them at the Collegiate NCAA Division-I level. Prior to the Duke-Kansas game, the now defeated #1 Kentucky with their 5-Freshman starters (who could not compete with the Fab 5) played against and lost to #2 Michigan State. Michigan State has better guard play, but Kentucky has terrible guard play. The star to watch in that game was Julius Randle. These guys are good, but I have to imagine that there are some other guys out there that have more potential, and more game. Basketball was a mean sport, just watch the Fab 5 documentary or Hoop Dreams. Now, bball is a cushy ass sport where all the kids have the coolest apparel and everything is done for them. 

Additionally, guard play is lacking in college basketball. It probably has more to do with the hype machine than the talent existing, which is why mid-majors are dominating the NCAA tournament these days. But the lackluster guard-play stems from the fact that players lack the concept of playing basketball a certain type of way. Now, these kids are very athletic and come with all the requisite skills, if not more skills than many of their predecessors, but they just don’t have the same approach to the game, in a package that made American basketball so competitive.

Basketball is no longer a playground game. It’s no longer a fight to the top sport. Too many players are ushered to the front door. It’s no longer an art. It’s no longer in the hands of the inner city kid who infuses his life-style struggles into the game. These players are no longer getting the grit necessary to compete in a tremendous fashion. They are no longer getting the swagger that birthed as a result of having to play a certain style of basketball on the playground or in the rec centers. The reason why?? Black families have been displaced into un-concentrated areas, which has had an effect on the talent pool. For example, Washington, D.C has a plethora of charter schools all across the area, which diffuses a concentration of basketball and other talent. Kids aren’t seeing the best of the best in their own schools. Not to mention the fact that black people are no longer the majority in Washington, D.C.; thus, basketball is no longer the gritty DC city game it was in the 80s and 90s, when black people comprised most of the population in DC. The 80s and 90s are the years in which the current college stars were in diapers. They didn’t get to see streetball at it’s rawest. 

Look to Brooklyn, NY for the effect of gentrification, and you will see that talent is not what it used to be. Plus, there is such an attack on athletics being a means to express one’s self passionately because of the fear that it’s alluring to have young black men think it is a way out of poverty. But kids are made known too soon of the odds being greatly against them, deterring them from trying. So inner city kids don’t play. Instead, black children are looking to computers, tv, and rapping as better options, all while keeping them from competing on the basketball courts and other sports.

Sports in general may be a financial bubble that bursts, which will definitely change the future landscape of talent. But, hopefully people will play just to play, as opposed to hoping they can make a lucrative career out of it. Kids will start playing against each other for their reputations as opposed to playing for their trainers and coaches in hopes that they can be the next great talent. 

 

Sports as a Reflection of Culture: Be Multifaceted

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(Leonardo da Vinci)

I can only accurately speak to football and basketball, but it’s clear that the best athletes in their respective sports are multifaceted. Drawing a comparison to the rest of the world, it seems that the most successful or well-known people have a myriad of skills, that are very effective.

If you are a sports fan and end up watching highlights via the various media outlets, you may be familiar with LeBron James, Miguel Cabrera, Robert Griffin III (Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson), etc, to name just a few. These athletes are threats in multiple ways. And they are considered some of the best in their respective sports, or at least at their position. If they aren’t right now, they will be. LeBron James can shoot, pass, rebound, and defend. Miguel Cabrera is an excellent hitter who won the first Triple Crown in many years, for being a high percentage hitter, home-run hitter, and hit to enable others to score (they are highly correlated in my opinion, but still). Robert Griffin and the new age of Quarterbacks, can run with the ball very well and pass the ball with accuracy. Although there will always be a place for a Peyton Manning or a Tom Brady who are incredibly cerebral and accurate passers, there seems to be an infatuation with these hybrid football players. These athletes do several things very well, making them the most effective or valuable.

Drawing the comparison to the non-sports world, I posit that the most success people and corporations do many things very well. Most people who find themselves financially successful aren’t people who just work wonderfully at their job or within their career. They take on other ventures. They seek opportunities in real property; play the financial markets; find other means of income via board membership; all while spending money wisely.

President Barack Obama is an educator, writer and politician, some aspects complimenting the others. A person I just heard about named Randal Pinkett, seems to have never taken a break. And, Jerry Jones or Daniel Snyder are successful because they have their hands on as much as they can, while shouldering and shuttering much risk. Steve Jobs had more than Apple. He was an essentially part of Pixar.

Wal-Mart is an easy corporation to point to that is a one stop shop. You can go there and get clothes, food, entertainment items, household needs, and far more. This isn’t a secret, but the best athletes are a reflection of that, now. Specialist are becoming obsolete. Why play a 3-point shooter, when you can play a 3-point shooter that can rebound and defend? Why go to the liquor store, when you can go to Wal-Mart to get your liquor and mixers, and sunglasses and Advil?

Athletes in their triple or quadruple-threat-ness, mimic corporations who have cornered several markets, or people who have embarked on championing several fields. This may be the reemergence of a Renaissance era, where you must do a multitude of things in order to stand out. Maybe that has always been the case, but our athletes are reflecting that idea right now.

Success isn’t only defined by fame or money. But, if you are a good friend, spouse, or parent, it is likely because you are more than just humorous, affectionate, providing, good at lending an ear or advice. It’s probably a combination of those things.

FuckyeahLebronJames

LeBron James is a better physical athlete than Michael Jordan and a better basketball player. If you’ve seen Bad Teacher you will know the argument I will make. LeBron is a better rebounder and passer, and he can more effectively guard several positions.

Derrick Rose didn’t do to LeBron yet, what Iverson did to Jordan. Who cares!? Yeah. Ok. But, as the game advances we have a better understanding of things. Iverson shocked Jordan’s system. Jordan didn’t know what to do. Iverson’s style of play was foreign to Jordan the same way Jordan was foreign to Craig Ehlo, Dell Curry, Stacey Augmon, or Joe Dumars, to name a few.

Conversely, LeBron has seen Jordan, Bird, Iverson, Nash, Kobe, Magic etc. so he’s prepared for anything. And scoring wise, Durant is and will be better than Jordan. We as humans just get better. People 6’9 and 6’11 respectively shouldn’t be able to do better than what 6’0 guards, or even 6’6 guards did traditionally. Shit has changed. Hey Grandpa! It’s a new world. There are greater minds than Plato and writers than Shakespeare like Stephen Hawking or Stephen King.

Saying Jordan is better than LeBron, Kobe, or Durant is like saying the first iPhone, which was phenomenal and changed the cell phone industry or smart phone industry is better than the iPhone 3G or 4. I won’t say LeBron is the 5s. But, hold your breath because there will be a dude to play basketball that’s better than all of them in the coming years.

Jordan like the first iPhone, changed everything and there was nothing on the market to compete with it or him–at the time. LeBron is in a different era with Androids and Windows smart phones like Carmelo, Dirk, Wade, Kobe, Durant, Westbrook, Rose, Paul George, etc. Other people have great ass skill too, who learned from Jordan like other companies like HTC learned from the iPhone. Just think. There are people like James White, who couldn’t makes waves in the League, but are better leapers than Jordan. See, Gerald Green too.

PlayStation 3 was better than PS2 the same way XBOX 360 was better than XBOX. Atari was great until Sega and Nintendo dropped. The Lamborghini Countach was one of the best automotive achievements until something better came along. See the trend?

People like technological advancements, get better as time passes. And for every video game system advancement, or enhancement in information technology, or decrease in size of devices, there are unknowns or less popularized advancements, but advancements nonetheless. There are great minds and stories and basketball players that you will never hear of; but that doesn’t mean they didn’t or don’t exist; and that they weren’t better than your or your dad’s favorite player. Making it to the masses is an issue of opportunity, luck, and skill.

Mentioning that Jordan won more championships or that he never lost in the finals is a flawed argument. LeBron got to the finals way before Jordan ever did, although he lost. If you mention Jordan’s accomplishments also mention how Jordan lost or failed a bunch of times before he made it to his maximum level. People make excuses for him, when he lost to the Magic in the playoffs because he came back from playing baseball.

Stop clinging to the past like Americans cling to the 2nd amendment as a rationale for why people should have automatic weapons and laser guns and shit. It’s a new day. FuckyeahLeBronJames!

I’ll stop dick riding when you do!

The Roses: Jamar Board b.k.a Silent Assassin

I wish we all could’ve given Jamar the flowers while he could still smell them. But, it could be that he did. I met and knew Jamar from playing basketball, on Sundays, at Maret High School in Northwest, DC—about 13 or 14 years ago. One of the first things about his game that stood out was how hard he dribbled the basketball. It was like he was pounding it. And, it was unique. If I recall correctly, he said to Daniel Lamont, who is a basketball mentor to many, that he did that to scare or intimidate defenders. Jamar’s savvy ability to handle the basketball was in fact frightening to defenders as time passed. He was extremely difficult to guard because of that, and guarding him only got harder as his game matured. Although some would say that he lacked great physical gifts such as being objectively fast, tall, or a high leaper, his uncanny knack for shooting and lightening fast hand-speed made him the dangerous player that is finally being recognized, and more so in death. As his legend will continue to grow, he will have the respect he always wanted. And the flawless game he was working so hard for.Jamar Board

How is it that someone becomes a Streetball legend? (I think it is more than fair to say that Jamar Board is a Streetball legend, which puts him in the same category of greatness as Pee Wee Kirkland, Kurt Smith, Earl Manigault (The G.O.A.T), Joe “The Destroyer,” Baby Shack, Greg “the Wizard” Jones, Skip to My lou, and so many more.) Those who saw him play can recount his memorable highlights. But how is it that you can drop 75 points in a game (video proof)–anywhere on god’s green earth–and not have had the opportunity to do it on a more globally respected platform? His cousin, friend, and fellow basketball athlete, Bobby Maze said his chance was right around the corner.

Obviously, it could be politics, timing or luck, academics, ability to work with others, staying out of trouble, or simply the ridiculous amount of others trying to “make it” as a basketball player. It’s hard (an understatement) to stand out. Mind you, he was putting up legit numbers everywhere he played. Jamar lead a semi-pro league in scoring. His ability is documented and well verified. Another argument is that one needs to be on the usual platform where NBA talent is scouted, such as the best NCAA colleges.

I’m not going to hype Jamar by telling you he jumped over the moon before finally coming down to dunk or literally shook a defender so hard his shoe soles stayed on the court, while he drove by and finger rolled. No. But, I am telling you that he got buckets by consistently making shots. He made points in a various manner, from getting in the lane, to knocking down jumpers from anywhere. And, if he chose to, he could make sure that his teammates got easy buckets too.

Please know that Jamar was a phenomenal basketball talent. He just never got his break, like so many others. But, Jamar is distinct from the rest because of his undeniable skill set. One of his several college coaches mentioned in an article that he once witnessed Jamar make 99 of 100 three-pointers in a shooting session. And, I’m sure the one he missed was crazier than the 99 he made. To put that into perspective, most people who shoot 40% in a game are considered good shooters, and when practicing, making 80% of the shots you take without defense is considered outstanding. (You can google his stats from his various colleges.)

Those who watched Silent Assassin saw a legend in the making. It wasn’t in a one high flying act, but rather continued excellence. Another story is that Jamar made about 238 of 250 three-pointers. A rough estimate. That kind of focus, conditioning, and consistency is unreal. Not to mention being in the gym long enough to take that many shots. And you can be sure those weren’t his only shots of the day. He was a basketball savant. That was his “trick.” He had a determination and work ethic that was unmatched while being tailored for his game, which is only proven in his body of work. One can only assume his incredible confidence on the court came from knowing he was more prepared than his competition. Jamar relished every opportunity to prove it.

But it was the hours, sweat, tears, and sacrifice to attain his peak performance level that goes without enough appreciation. When everyone else was sleeping…he was working. But what does that even mean? It literally means, he would work on his ball handling into the wee hours of the morning, when his peers were likely eating dinner, doing homework, watching television, and—of course—sleeping. He was working on his game at odd hours on the playground or in a 24-hour gym at times when most others would be preparing for the next day with sleep. (Please note: this kind of hard work requires a sacrifice to other facets of life [addressed in the following].)

Jamar didn’t need a coach to motivate him or even a gym to workout. He would dribble for hours in his basement, after rearranging the furniture and other items in order to do so. He would also dribble with a less than inflated ball interspersed with dribbling a normal ball or dribbling them simultaneously. He too had created one of those odds methods to attain handles. Jason Williams dribbled with gloves and hand-weights, or like Kyrie Irving who dribbled the ball while it was inside of a plastic bag. Or Jamar would dribble while doing dumbbell curls with the opposite hand. I’m giving away his trade secrets, here. I hope you basketball players use them.

jamar boardMore to his sacrificing is when people were taking breaks to lay down in bed, Jamar was doing ab work or whatever else, as I’m told by one of his good friends. This was a work ethic gained over time. His dedication required sacrificing time to other facets of life, in hopes that once basketball took him far enough, those things would be replenished in the future. But, he was clearly locked-in on the present. Who knew if he could even see beyond or why he was going so hard after a certain point. Who is willing to do that and to what extent? We all sacrifice, but damn! Isn’t what Jamar was doing required to be special? If that is the case, I know a lot of people would rather be normal. Board was on another level, which resulted in his game being on another level than most.

Jamar–without question–was one of the best shooters I’ve seen, which advanced not only his game, but the concept of basketball. It changes everything as a defender who has to guard a person as they cross half court. This made Jamar quicker and faster than most perceived him to be. The hard thing when being so tremendously skilled is that you have to pass to teammates. That’s a problem only he, Jordan, Kevin Durant, and Kobe really know—others merely think it. Why pass the ball? And, in this dog eat dog basketball world, why pass to a player on your team to take yourself out of the spotlight, or to share the shine, we as players work so hard to get–as we can only dream?

The only reason Jamar did not revolutionize basketball is because he didn’t have a large enough stage. Jamar’s ability to shoot from many feet behind any three-point arch changes the concept of how to play basketball offensively and defensively. So people who feared being embarrassed took the low road and just wouldn’t make a defensive effort. Get fried either way!

Jamar Board’s death is saddening not only because he is/was someone’s son, father, friend, significant other, brother, etc. but also because he is yet another young African-American male whose talent—and such a great talent—was taken from this earth far too soon. I am only referring to basketball as it pertains to Jamar, although this is symbolic of a bigger issue.

This opens that proverbial door to the bewilderment that comes from knowing so many future great people of the black community have forever been lost due to firearms. There’s no telling how Jamar could affect basketball in the coming years. And with that, what he could do with that influence.

Please cherish your gifts, and understand that without an obvious or glaring indication of greatness, there can be greatness. In other words, the person with an atypical body type, learning ability, or skill set can be the next phase in evolution of a particular field. The evolution occurs out of necessity to survive, which can potentially reach unseen heights of greatness within that particular venue. Jamar was only on the precipice of doing that in my opinion. I have much respect for your game, Jamar Board. Peace

An Ex-Athlete’s Delight

Wake up with the pain of a prior day’s work recalled as your feet shockingly touch the floor.
Resent waking up…well, the process.
Love waking up to carry out your night’s dreams in today.
Begrudgingly start your routine of push ups, sit ups, squats, toe raises….
Willing to do whatever to get that advantage on your competition–wherever they reside.
Gotta make it.
You wake quick, to get to the next step.
But, the daily grind wears on your mind,
takes a physical toll on your body, and thrashes at your soul.
Being an athlete has it rewards in the fleeting moments they come, but it’s all work, but some say its tons of fun.
Essentially, athletes keep playing for the chance at “the glory.”
“Thank God if I make it.”
Blame him for having another plan for me if I don’t.
“It can’t be me. I work too hard. Sweat too much.”
Why do I even do this? I’m tall? I’m strong? I’m fast? I’m quick?
My friends, family and expectations?
Is this love or lust?
I know I can have minions to keep feeding my overgrown ego that i wouldn’t have otherwise.
It’s only because my name appears in the paper; or, my image flies across YouTube;
or, your HDTV.
Do I do it for the day I hit the Shine of a Spotlight?
Do I do it for the day I can really get paid?
Do I do it so that my good looks are profitable
or bad ones and skin color become irrelevant?…
I love the game.
It defines me.
I enjoy winning.
The losing is motivating.
I see God, and the good in both.
I spend all my free time in a gym,
with or without people.
It’s my religion.
Sorry, God! (I think).
I sacrifice:
Academics, love life, social experience, other life joys, jobs and money.
I’m different for my ability to sacrifice.
But, I’m not honored or given my due unless I win and keep winning.
So how can I really appreciate a loss?
Fans can love or hate you for what they can’t do.
Future employers can love to gloat about your past accomplishments, while longing for the day to berate you….”I’m your coach, now!”
What it is to work for love and passion–neither can be replaced by money or trophies.
It’s great to have it all, but better to have your sport.
You grow to love the pain, agony, triumph,
and defeat, and saddened when you’re liberated from it all when…
On the one day it stops.
Death over dishonor?
I gave so much to the game and now it’s gone.
With it, my youth and spirit.
How to care beyond something you have given more than half your life to?
How to carry burdens of burned friendships in pursuit of a bigger dream?
I love the clicks in my knees, toes, elbows and neck.
It’s what I have left from days achieving without having
to look at old stat sheets, clippings, or trophies.
Artists at their finest is an athlete.
Those you’ve never heard of and those we all adore.
We all have this in common: a lot of pain and love and muscle memory.

Sports as a Reflection of Our Cultural: Questing for a Perfect Fit Over all Else

Every man and woman has the right to pursue happiness. Young people have made the decision to be happy over anything else. Yeahh…people are doing what they have to, but when a better opportunity comes along, they aren’t thinking twice before chasing it or getting closer to their dreams. This is especially happening with sports. Basically, being happy outweighs loyalty and respect.

Looking to the NFL, there is a mechanism that can allow a team to restrict the movement of a soon to be unrestricted free agent. It’s called a Franchise Tag. Owners had to manipulate loyalty/respect because they know those are values of the past. The tag is necessary in times where being an immediate champion or having the largest paycheck imaginable is more important than sticking-it-out and showing a great willingness to overcome all odds. The great thing about it is: owners and coaches now have to admit how important a player is, as opposed to using an athlete’s love of the game as a weapon to make them be loyal through scare tactics. The Franchise Tag is a reaction to the LeBrons of the world. In fact, it is a reaction to the prevailing view people have, who do not want to invest or pay dues for a day that may not prove to be as gratifying as dreamed.

As seen in basketball, the transferring from high school to high school, college to college, and reclassification is all in an effort to be happy now—or soon enough. (Reclassification is where a student will “stay-back” in order to join a different talent pool. In other words, a player will fail certain classes—on purpose—in order to stand out in the next coming class.) Reclassifying may seem unbelievable to some, but the stigmatism of being considered stupid or a failure is being removed from society given people understand there is a strategy behind it; a strategy people are respecting so far as it can make a person happy… if only eventually. All coaches love jumping ship for a better position or payday by the way. It’s a coach’s American Dream.

Young athletes know there is an expiration date on playing their sport of choice. These athletes are not only doing all they can to extend their time, but they are also maximizing the time they spend. This is done by getting as much playing time, winning as many championships, or getting as much money as possible, while they can, depending upon the level and mindset of the player.

Our culture is valuing being happy over sucking-it-up just to get by, presumably that is the reason the divorce rate is so high. Maybe it’s just the ever-increasing, not-really-religious population. But I digress. Also, no one wants to work for an entity for 35 years only to not really be able to enjoy life during retirement due to being old. So, recent college or professional school graduates believe they deserve their dream job. This is just like a player who has the options to decide to transfer from a school, sign with a better team, or seek the biggest payday. There are many reasons for that.

One good thing that has come from the economic downturn is that people aren’t going to just keep slaving away for another’s benefit to only be shunned when times get tough or a worker ages. It’s funny how acceptable it is to cut a player for being old and under preforming compared to their history, but when it happens in the workplace, people are outraged and file discrimination suits.

People do not want to hate their alarm clocks or look up in twenty years wondering where their life has gone and question the value of what they got in return for the time spent. It really makes perfect sense that people are willing to bounce around with the intent to find a perfect fit to make them happy, as opposed to just bearing life. People want more. Not wanting more is a problem.