Friday, May 27, 2011


My tweetstream went crazy today after Scottie Pippen seemingly stated in an interview that he considered LeBron James rather than his old running mate Michael Jordan to be the Greatest Of All Time. Even prior to Pip’s clarification, many felt he made a valid point. MJ loyalists lost their minds of course. As for me, one who admires both Michael’s and LeBron’s games while viewing them mostly as the enemy throughout their respective careers, below is what I had to say one tweet at a time.

What has Pippen been sippin?

Technically the NBA GOAT discussion should begin & end with Bill Russell. I don't see anybody putting their achievements up against his.

Kareem weighs in on GOAT question. "Jordan, Kobe, LeBron, Magic, etc. can all go F themselves & then build me my damn statue!"

To which Karl Malone added "The guy under seven feet tall who scored most points in NBA career is the best of all time. Guys like Kareem and Wilt had it too easy."

Let me settle this GOAT debate once & for all. There have been many NBA princes, only one true KING. Bernard

If you HAVE to pick a guy to be GOAT, with various variables and intangibles thrown into equation, the greatest player ever (i.e. most complete skill set) is probaby Oscar Robertson

If LeBron had played under 90's rules of allowable physicality, he'd be lesser than what we know him to be. If MJ had had today's offensive freedom, he'd have been even greater.

Ultimately you need to see full range of player's career to make an informed judgment. Right now MAYBE you can compare Jordan and James peak to peak

Kobe Bryant was not mentioned by Pippen but surely cannot be excluded from this conversation. I'm waiting to see how he adapts over the next couple years with much less lift to work with. Then I’ll compare him to Michael Jordan who smoothly transitioned from a sky high player to one who excelled from closer to the ground. I’m not even thinking of LeBron as a GOAT candidate yet. He’s a work in progress, or at least his career is still progressing even if his skill set is now as good as it will ever be. LeBron, who entered the league with unparalleled fanfare, may or may not eclipse all who came before him.

RT @ScottiePippen (the guy who got this mess started when many indeed did get him wrong) Don't get me wrong, MJ was and is the greatest. But LeBron could by all means get to his level someday.

Forget GOAT. I'm not even convinced LeBron is better than Carmelo Anthony. And I'm not just saying this because Melo is on the Knicks now. This opinion was formed when he played for the Nuggets, which is why I was in favor of giving up the farm for him.

What remains beyond question is that Michael Jordan to this day is the best marketed athlete of all time. Everything fell into place for him.

MJ's advisers told him do a sneaker line, commercials with Spike Lee, cartoon movie to reach the next generation of consumers. Lebron's advisers suggested THE DECISION. So clearly there's no argument about which phenomenal athlete had the better off court team.

LeBron would've won titles if he replaced MJ on 90's Bulls. I assume this can be shown by simulating it on a variety of video game systems. MJ probably doesn't win titles with 2000's Cavs, even more of a 1-man team than Derrick Rose’s Bulls. MJ maybe leaves Cleveland as LeBron did, but surely not to join a guy like D-Wade who legitimately stakes his own claim to be considered the best in the league at this time.

Much as this Knicks fan hated MJ back in the day, I decided he was GOAT when Ewing went out to double him so MJ dished to Bill Wennington for game winning dunk. I’m referring of course to Jordan’s 55 point game in his return to Madison Square Garden after coming back to league from mini-retirement. The lack of ego display by a most egotistical individual and the determination to win by any means necessary impressed me more than most of his game winning shots.

A big part of what makes a guy considered GOAT is singlular moments. Wilt's 100, Kobe's 81, MJ's 55 in MSG comeback; flu game; heart breaking Father's Day post victory tears; game winner after gentle nudge of Jazz defender (Jordan rules). What is LeBron's signature? I’d say despite many incredible games (as of this blog post in May of 2011) that he’s still in search of one.


Smell test as G.O.A.T. tie breaker: Maybe the guy who smells best is the greatest of all time?  But who is willing to do that research?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sugar and Spice and Sports Fanatics

In addition to Obama's presidency, another sign to me that the world is a better place today than my childhood is the significantly increased number of legitimate female sports fans
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I’m sure female sports fans, particularly on Twitter, face a certain amount of sexism about authenticity of their fandom. Here’s my theory…
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The biggest jerk of a male sports fan knows a woman is capable of enjoying & knowing as much about sports as any guy. However…
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Most guys as boys dream of being a sports star someday. Some know it’s just a dream from start, some think it may really happen for years
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When you grow up fantasizing about pro sports stardom (which I still do all the time, btw), it deeply invests you in fandom. You’re living vicariously
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Most women don’t come to sports fandom through quite the same route. Rarely envisioned themselves as pro QB for obvious reason
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So illogically or not, due to his boyhood daydreams a sexist dude will conclude his sports fandom is far more legitimate than that of any woman
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Does this mindset extend to women who are pro sports journalists and broadcasters and commentators? Yep, no doubt. Especially when they’re easy on the eyes
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Not that these guys don’t recognize a place for women in the testosterone fueled world of sports. That place would be on the sidelines and those women are called cheerleaders
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And as Penny Marshall taught us, women less interested in the condition of their nail polish than their sisters in estrogen do have leagues of their own. But the female fans of which I speak are not those drawn to the WNBA. I’m talking about those who root for sports played at the most elite level, and that means watching the guys
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There are men who will never truly accept/acknowledge the existence of women who live for highlight reels and walk off victories and knockout punches and thunderous dunks and bone crunching tackles and recitation of stats from memory as much as them
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But these dudes need to get over themselves and realize they now have more things to talk to more women about than ever before.
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Current stream of thought reminds me of a day when I was playing 2-hand touch with my crew as a kid and this girl wanted to play with us
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She ended up having an amazing game, not because she was so athletic, but because we were afraid to mistakenly touch girlie parts
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This girl was not very attractive. Only thing worse than being slugged for touching boobs is being slugged while deriving no pleasure from it
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I wonder to this day if she thought she was too fast for us to catch or realized the secret of her success.
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I watch and know A LOT about sports but concede A LOT of women in my tweetstream know more than I do. No knock on my manhood.
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Sports blogs that routinely show bikini clad women (which I personally appreciate in piggish fashion) to attract men probably alienate more potential readers than realized
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This is my second time blogging about women’s appreciation for sports. The first time I posed a question and learned that the answer is FOOTBALL

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ample Evidence to the Contrary

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Recently an evolutionary psychologist named Satoshi Kanazawa wrote an article for Psychology Today with the provocative title - "Black Women Are Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women". I didn't read it, nor do I plan to, and I don't suggest you do either which is why I'm not linking to it. Google if you wish. Why Psychology Today published such obvious foolishness is beyond me. But they did, so I decided to write this rebuttal. And although it isn't backed up by a bunch of advanced degrees and doesn't have much of a page count, a glance below shows clearly that I've won the debate by a landslide. Because even though I hate as a writer to admit it, often times pictures do effortlessly speak 1000 well placed words. Sometimes they imply that Mr. Kanazawa probably got shot down by one sista too many and decided to vent his frustration in the most absurd manner. You didn't need to hear his nonsense just as you probably don't need me to tell you you're beautiful. But I'm telling you anyway.

p.s. - Congratulations to the new Miss Universe - Leila Lopes

Satoshi Kanazawa finally gets around to apologizing (so he can keep his job)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Latest Book Reviews

SAG HARBOR - Colson Whitehead is a wonderful writer. Although I wasn't a Sag Harbor summer kid myself, the author and I are about the same age so much of his reminiscing about his experiences as a 15 year old stirred similar memories I possess. Sag Harbor is a work of fiction, not a memoir, but it reads as much like the latter than as a novel, and no doubt it was largely inspired by the author's youthful days. Not a whole lot happens in Sag Harbor, basically a group of teenagers kill the abundance of time they have on hand, and I know plenty of readers would have a problem with this. I wouldn't have minded if the story had been more eventful, not that books must be bang bang shoot 'em up to impress me. After all, if you're writing a memoir about a period of time when nothing particularly earth shattering took place but it nonetheless was vivid in your thoughts because it was a critical period of your life, then you need to be true to what did and didn't happen. But if you're writing a novel, certainly you can feel free to throw in a little drama. Whitehead resists this temptation and simply gives us a first person tale about an introspective person on a summer vacation somewhere roughly in between the end of his childhood and beginning of his manhood. What does Benji think about as he makes his transition to becoming Ben? For the most part he reflects on his days up to that point for he knows they will soon be coming to an end, and he wonders what the future will hold for him. He holds memories that are both crystal clear and cloudy. As for his insight into tomorrow, like the rest of us he can only guess a little and hope a lot.

The Picture of Dorian Grey (Oscar Wilde) - I knew what this story was about long before finally reading it. That's probably common. The famous premise is a fascinating one, though I found myself wondering if the narrative would have been even more impactful if written as a short story or novella length rather than stretched out to a full novel. The Lord Henry character who serves the purpose of putting bad ideas in Dorian's head gives multiple speeches throughout detailing his hedonistic world view. If the number or word count of these lectures was cut in half I don't think the story would suffer much from the absence. Another decision made by Oscar Wilde was not to show readers very much of Dorian's behavior. His first act of cruelty is laid out before us as is his final one, but in between we are only told that his bad reputation precedes him without being shown what he has done to earn it. It's left to our imagination. A few more scenes exhibiting decadent behavior rather than various dinner party conversations in which a pro decadence philsophy is expressed would have made for a juicier read. Would it have made for a better read? That's arguable, as perhaps it also is whether this book is intententially homoerotic or simply written during a time when heterosexual men were much more comfortable going on and on about how good looking a guy was. What's beyond debate is that Oscar Wilde came up with a great idea to build a story around, one that is as timeless as the desire for eternal youth.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson) - I wanted to find out what all the fuss was about. Larsson's debut novel and the two sequels that were published either simultaneously or else in rapid succession have topped Best Sellers lists for what feels like forever. As happened previously to me with the first Harry Potter book and The DaVinci Code, curiosity won out. I was unable to let the cult phenomenon pass me by. But I was not overwhelmed when finally getting around to reading it. The character this novel is named after is its strength, even if the story is not primarily about her. Her distinctive personality and outlook set her apart from cookie cutter characters to be found in many genre titles. But the writing (or it's translation) was mediocre at best and as for the plot, it's engaging but by no means tremendously original. This is a whodunnit, but the ending is not especially difficult to guess at least partially if not completely. I don't even consider myself a particularly strong follower of clues in mystery novels, but one does not need to be Nostradamus to make accurate predictions here. I'm by no means trashing the book. It's fairly engaging and certainly easy to read. But my verdict is that unlike many others, I don't feel compelled to read parts 2 & 3. I'm fine with waiting until the inevitable movie adaptations hit cable. There is no shortage of thrillers/mysteries that are equally or more compelling than this book. The things I can think of that made Larsson's work stand apart are the Swedish setting (which is really no big deal), the fact that the author died after delivering the manuscripts but before publication, and that they were published basically at the same time so readers who enjoyed the first could go immediately to the second and then the third title in the series. Immediate gratification. The mystery of why these books became such huge sellers is a much more puzzling one than those Larsson writes about. But perhaps things get juicier as one delves deeper into the series.

Middle Passage (Charles Johnson) - What a wonderful, powerful, thought provoking, surprising read. The first two attributes are on account of Charles Johnson's mastery of the written word. His prose grips the reader from first sentence and doesn't let go for a second. It goes by so quickly that I found myself wishing it had been padded to last another 50 pages or more. Why was it surpising? Well, I expected it to focus primarily on the horrific middle passage in which people were enslaved and transported in barbaric fashion from Africa to America. And the bulk of this book does in fact describe such a voyage. But before we get to it we are introduced to the protagonist, a fascinating character who is a freed slave that ends up on the ship basically by accident as he flees to avoid a forced marriage to his impatient girlfriend, a seemingly mild mannered lady who has taken matrimonial matters into her own hands in rather brutish fashion. Once he is aboard ship and particularly once it has monstrously taken on cargo, which includes not only members of an ancient African tribe but also their god, the narrative is so intense and perilous and chock full of life and death double dealing on the unpredictable high seas, that the early part of the novel is mostly forgotten. But without giving too much away, as Middle Passage reaches its conclusion suddenly we are back in the world of the original cast of characters. The physically battered protagonist is much changed mentally and emotionally due to his adventurous ordeal. But he has one last dangerous set of circumstances to navigate before he can be fully saved. Ironically, being saved means opting for a degree of monogamy and commitment that his avoidance of got him into so much trouble in the first place. Freedom has an entirely different definition to him from beginning of the story to the end. So yes, this book as expected was about the atrocities of the slave trade. But slavery is more of a backdrop than focus of the action packed tale. What it ultimately ends up being about is the lengths a man goes to live a carefree existence, and what he must go through to learn that caring for people other than himself is a far superior way to live.

Find of the Day: Web site featuring titles sold as ebooks for as little 99 cents - 99CentNetwork

On my birthday I significantly discounted cost of Kindle edition of Patches of Grey, which was of no use to you if you happen to be a Nook owner who shops at Barnes & Noble web site. Well pout no more because the Nook edition is now on sale as well for just $2.99