Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Curry flavor

There's no secret about my affinity for the Curry at Davidson. But another Curry at Liberty.

Seth, the younger brother, was passed over by in an eerily similar way that his brother was passed over. How does this happen twice to siblings? Shouldn't somebody have been on alert?

You would think they'd learn.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Samson who?

Much ado has been made about Carmelo chopping his locks off. He is shooting a career low percentage and putting up a career low in points. Well 'Melo watchers. feast

33. Friggin ridiculous. Absolutely sublime. Artificially real. The Western Conference number two seed, the Nuggets, are proving to be the league's biggest surprise. Who knew that a point guard who many thought was on the decline would make that much of a difference?


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Jerry Sloan

J.A. Adande's piece on the best coach to never win a championship. An excellent article on an excellent coach.


Blackbird: Exclusive or Empowering

There was an innovative tool promulgated to the market on Monday called the Blackbird BETA. It is specifically created to be the ultimate primary launching point for all pertinent news African-American.

Blackbird was developed on the simple proposition that we, as the African American community, can make the Internet experience better for ourselves and, in doing so, make it better for everyone. Primarily we believe that the Blackbird application can make it easier to find African American related content on the Internet and to interact with other members of the African American community online by sharing stories, news, comments and videos via Blackbird.

Already, griping about whether the product is too narrow-minded or not has surfaced. Why create another product that only appeals to African-Americans? When can we get out of this box? Who is this site to determine what pertinent black news is shown? What is “black” news anyway?

To that, I offer this: poppycock.

An argument speaking that a product is too insular is an argument devoid of historical and practical context. Jews, Italians, Nigerians and African-Americans in this country have created high-powered organizations that appeal exclusively to their race. Back to the days of Madame Walker, who gave every black woman a reason to get up early Saturday morning (or Thursday evening), onto the Johnson empire that started BET, their creations jump started with a niche crowd. Asians and Italians have both made a fortune in this country with delicacies from their homelands. Nobody would call them narrow-minded for that; that’s smart business.

To assume that “black people should get out of this box and produce something that appeals to the mass market”, not only ignores the low percentage profitability in that (axiom in marketing: he who sells to everybody sells to nobody), but ignores the fact that blacks only comprise 12% of the country. If one looks at societies where there are multiple cultures, the dominant culture always swallows the minority culture. There is no such thing as balanced integration, because that connotes equal mixing and standing. History supports this: if you want to start a business to make money, you’d better find a small hole and drill it like mad.

Who buys most of the rap albums? It’s no secret that the hip-hop industry has been funded by white dollars and support for years. Who owns BET now? Viacom, and no they were not started by people of melanin. What demographic provides BET’s biggest audience? You guessed it. Not African-Americans.

Ebony, Jet, Essence, Clutch, AOL Black Voices, 40 Acres and a Mule, Def Jam, Radio One and others have developed their “place” not through being solely supported by African-Americans, but by people of differing cultures and backgrounds. In fact, their authenticity of depicting their versions of “black culture” is what makes them highly desirable. If I want to find out more about Washington politics, then I would hit up the Washington Post. Why? Because it’s close to the action and it’s proven to be reliable to that facet, back to the findings Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. David Simon, creator of The Wire, said that if you produce something that’s so credible that the insider will stay with you, then the outsider will follow as well.

All of which is why Blackbird is a supportable innovation. It provides a portal to a culture, a demographic, a group that many people are infatuated with, no matter how much they would admit. Whether it remains supportable is dependent on its merit; its ability to provide the services it promises to provide.

If a few black people from say, Bismarck, North Dakota, don’t agree with the “monolithic” view of which they feel that black life is portrayed, then they should build a business model that states otherwise.

Homogenized products are for the birds. I’d take the niche product any day.

No More Hating

Three weeks ago, I made a point of calling out a certain politician about his sour grape tendencies.

Well, it's been dropped.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Brandon Roy

In my Hawks-Knicks game notes for Slam Online, I included a blurb from an advanced NBA scout who speaks glowingly about Brandon Roy:
Talking to advance scout Paul Cormier, I asked him who was the most underrated, fundamentally sound player in the League: “One that comes to mind is a player who people know, but I love his game. He is a stud,” Cormier said, eyes gleaming with genuine fervor. “He plays at his own pace and for a guy who only has been in the league two or three years, he controls the game tempo better than anyone I have ever seen.”

Who is this player? None other than everyone’s darling, Brandon Roy. Henry Abbott would be proud.

Then I come across this article from the ever-cerebral Eric Musselman. This is a must-read for any serious NBA fan.
Thomsen contends that "Roy is the most valuable piece of the league's most promising young team not because of his athletic instincts, but because he has spent his short career taking the time to think things through."

According to Roy:
"I'm always trying to analyze things. I try to see what may work for another player, and see what may work for me. I've always played that way, even in high school. I always thought the game. Sometimes when the athleticism isn't there, having that edge of thinking the game helps me a lot. Especially on nights when my legs aren't there, but I'm thinking, 'If I can just get this move or I can just make this cut...' That's my strength: Maybe not running and jumping, but just thinking the game a little bit."

The most amazing part of this article is that Portland stops to hear Brandon Roy talking to the media. That is the ultimate display of respect.

Let's just say that March 15 is a big day for me as a journalist.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Mad Dog Retires: Beyond The Numbers

Has there ever been a more contradictory nickname for a great player than "Mad Dog"? He was anything but mad on the mound, and he wasn't canine in his appeal. Randy Johnson, yes. John Rocker, Maddux's former teammate? Sure. I'd even bestow that nickname upon Kevin Brown. But Maddux? Fuhgetahboutit.

That nickname in its essence is what makes Maddux so special. He thrived and overpowered hitters in an era of thumpers and velocity throwers. He is like the Haile Sellasse of baseball: overwhelming not through brute force (Napoleon) or physical presence (Maxinimus Thrax) but through intellect, discipline and that inexplicable intangible. You hear and see all the time the pitchers who have successful careers despite physical limitations and lack of velocity. In fact, there's one pitcher on every roster who fits this mold. Maddux didn't just have success; he had unprecedented fluorescence. Like Charles Barkley and his success at his position with his size, you can't explain how this guy was able to do the things he did on the field.

I grew up a diehard Braves fan. When Maddux arrived in Atlanta in 1993, I barely knew much about the guy. Of course I was eight years old at the time but he had spent his playing days prior in the Midwest and neither the internet nor instant informational access was as ubiquitous to a little kid at the time. I also had issues of my own then: my parents got a divorce and my grandfather died that year. I, like many children, used sports as an escape of sorts. The Braves became my haven. Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz formed the best three-man rotation in baseball history (I will not argue about this). They would wreck havoc on the opposing lineups with untethered reign. Everybody knew why Smoltz was dominant: a sickening splitter and an overpowering heater. Glavine lowered batting averages because of an unhittable changeup and superb stubbornness (he never yielded that outside corner). Both pitchers could, in their prime mix in an offspeed with a 92 mph smoker.

What was Maddux's alibi? His fastball clocked in a 89. His pitch location was unteachable (don't care what the Tom Emanskis of the world say, you cannot teach his location skills). His pitches were more moving than a Nicholas Sparks novel. He didn't just induce ground-balls and fly outs. He earned them the hard way as well, ranking 10th on the all-time strikeout list with 3,371. He perfected the efficiency model. It was a running joke among me and my buddies growing up that if Maddux was starting, then you only had to allot two hours of game time. If there was anything that needed to be done, get it done before the game because a quick store run could cost you seven innings. It was great and to me, unfathomable.

It is said that we are always attracted to the things that we don't understand, and figuring out Maddux is something I have yet to do. It is something that I don't think I will do. It is something I don't think I want to do.

Which is why his legacy will never be lost on me.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The price of the bricks went up...

so why is a first grader robbing his fellow students for a dollar?

By the way, that won't be the last time you "hear" me use the title of this post.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

When Class Cutting Goes Wrong

In a strange attempt at humor by the US News and World Reports, a list of the top ten signs of too much class cutting was published today. This provoked much reminiscence. Why? I thought you’d never ask.

It was Economics 2101: Microeconomics. It took place in a huge, auditorium style classroom that left it open for the laggards in the classroom to hold regular-toned conversations in the back of the room and not interrupt the teacher. I was a laggard. If is easy to hold outdoor-toned conversations in the back of the classroom, it is even easier to rack up some absences.

So I skipped one class. Then two. Then the days got downright sequential, to the point where I didn’t even consider it an actual class; it was more of an option. One day, while missing another day of Adam Smith’s theories, I texted a friend of mine who was in the same class. A fellow laggard.

“Wassup man, you in class today?”

“Yeah…what’s going on?”

“That’s wassup… do you know when the next test is?”

Ten minutes later…

“Taking the test now.”

Ouch. A midterm test. That was my academic rock bottom. I was cutting class so much that I disregarded a mid-term test. It was a shameful as well as seminal moment for me: that test cemented my repeat status in Economics 2101, thus instilling in me a deep and intricate understanding of the economy now.

(Raises eyebrows, cringes lips and looks off to the side).