Revenge, the Coldest of Dishes

missinginactionThis year, I have been blessed to see three live NBA basketball games, witnessing Lebron, Kobe, and Melo. As a result, I have made a resolution with my future self: the expendable money that future me makes will be spent on going to NBA games, with the goal of attending a game in every arena.

The NBA, more than any other American professional sport, thrives on the marketing of their superstars. Unlike football, where their players are helmeted and only a handful of quarterbacks or skill players are known, most people recognize NBA players, largely because there is little separation between the players and fans (editor’s note: NBA players also sell and endorse everything under the sun). NBA players wear tank tops and shorts and periodically dive into the stands. After a big shot, they interact with the fans, who are a few feet away from the court, reducing the space with their outreached hands, hoping to touch a player at some point throughout the game. Even the fans seated on the periphery, nearly touching the arena’s rafters, are able to see the player’s winning smiles and ever-changing emotions via the jumbotron. While this close proximity encourages a euphoric, if only fleeting, connectedness, the monetary cost of experiencing it can be costly for some families.

Enter billionaires and millionaires and their egotistical feelings.

On November 29th, Greg Popovich, who I think is a phenomenal coach and does not receive the national attention he deserves because he coaches in a small market, decided to send his top four players home, even though they had a game against the Miami Heat that night. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobilli, and Danny Green went back to San Antonio on a commercial flight, instead of suiting up and playing the scheduled game. This move caused understandable uproar because Popovich did not inform the league of his decision until shortly before the start of the game. More importantly, the Miami Heat fans, who paid top dollars to see what many believe to be a NBA finals preview, were unable to see San Antonio at full strength. Remember, the NBA, more than any American professional sports, makes the bulk of their money on the marketability of their superstars, of which Duncan, Parker, and Ginobilli are. As a reprimand, the commissioner fined the Spurs organization a quarter of a million dollars. A gentle slap on the wrist for an organization that makes over $135 million in revenue annually.

Last night, the Miami Heat returned the malicious favor to the San Antonio fans by sitting both Dwayne Wade and the superstar amongst superstars, Lebron James. Each were sidelined with an injury. Interestingly, the league will have a difficult time fining the Heat because, unlike the Spurs, they followed protocol and reported that their players would be out due to injury. However, even a blind man can see that this move was also motivated by  revenge; the Heat organization wanted to payback the Spurs and their fans for the indiscretion and insult to the Heats fans back in November. For example, if the Heat’s winning streak was still intact and they were still chasing immortality, Wade and James, regardless of injury would have played. But the circumstances allowed for them to “take a night off” against the team who “robbed” their fans the pleasure of seeing the Spurs’ top players.

Lost in all of this tit for tat egotistical, billionaire mind war are the fans, specially the families that save their money to treat themselves or their children to a special outing. The kids (and adults), whose San Antonio rooms are covered in Lebron or Wade posters and defend them to their friends, who belittle them for liking anyone else not named Duncan, Parker, Ginobilli, or some other Spurs player, missed out on an opportunity to see their idol(s) defy gravity, shoot jumpers, and play tenacious defense that would surely lead to a highlight worthy moment on Sportscenter. Those voices, though they blend into one cacophonous sound for the players and the owners, need to be heard and recognized.

For a player like Lebron, who is finally starting to shed the venomous hate that surrounded his decision to play for Heat, this moment pushes him backwards as he (re)gains fans. If only the fans could boycott the owners and not attend a game to physically voice their displeasure with such childish behavior among the one percent. Unfortunately, it won’t happen because the experience is worth the cost.

Editor’s Note

editors noteOn Fridays, I will share news stories, personal experiences, or other musings that stood out to me throughout the week.

  • Diplomats Reunion Concert for the ten year anniversary of Diplomatic Immunity (editor’s note: with various rappers doing ten year anniversary shows, I suddenly feel dated and I haven’t even hit thirty yet. However, it is impossible to not recognize the impact that the Diplomats had on NYC culture in the early 2000’s. Dip!). 
  • The end of Miami’s Heat twenty-seven win streak (editor’s note: as a basketball fan I wanted to see the Lakers vaunted record fall, especially with Lebron leading the charge. Oh well!)
  • Religion (editor’s note: walking home after completing a couple of errands, I witness a Catholic middle school’s reenactment of Jesus’ crucifixion journey, with Roman soliders whipping at the faux cross and a student wearing a Jesus mask. The procession was followed by roughly a hundred or more parents, walking through the neighborhood. And then I remembered a conversation with a friend, who confessed that they achieved a serious religious moment while on a drug-induced trip. Their recollection of the moment, in which they felt connected to every particle on earth,  made sense. Point being that religion and its meaning manifests itself different).
  • Death (editor’s note: My condolences to a close friend who lost a dear friend and another friend who lost their grandmother. Death is inevitable but still feels tremendously unfair and crude).
  • Harry Potter (editor’s note: I started to read the Harry Potter series and am in love. I am not sure why I missed this wave the first time, and am actually not sure how I decided to make it my wave currently. But, I am thankful that I did because it is a great, fun read).
  • Kwame Harris (editor’s note: a lightly covered story about a former NFL player who was outed a couple months ago because of an altercation with a former partner. Interestingly, in the four male professional sports, there are no openly gay athletes. The fact illuminates a disturbingly disheartening truth about our society’s acceptance and acknowledgement of sexuality).
  • Red Equal Sign parodies (editor’s note: while the Supreme Court discusses gay marriage rights, many have taken the powerful symbol, a red equal sign, and have made various parodies. Turning the symbol into a joke, once again, speaks to our societal immaturity to openly discuss difficult topics. Instead, folk are quick to turn the matter into a farce. Though these various parodies are intended to make people laugh, these parodies undoubtedly belittle and hurt many whose ability to marry their love depends on nine people’s whim interpretation).
  • Florida Gulf Coast University (editor’s note: Dunk City are the darlings of the NCAA tournament, having upset two higher ranked teams with relative easy and ferocious dunks, their coach is married to a former Supermodel, and their team consists of a bunch of players that other, more notable programs, did not recruit. America loves the underdog and I will be rooting for them to make it the Elite Eight).

What stood out to you during the week? Please share your “editor’s note” in the comments.

LeBron, DeAndre, and Mothers of the 80’s

“What have you done for my lately” dominates our mental capacities. As much as we romanticize the past and fantasize about the future, the present remains and tyrannizes (Editor’s note: I wanted to keep the -ize verbs going…you’re welcome) our thought. Thus, this week, all of the NBA talking heads (read: commentators) will focus their fleeting attention on two furiously thunderous dunks and argue which one is better because that’s what talking heads do; they talk, often to each other and to video cameras which blast their loquacious personalities throughout the world and interwebs.

The dunks are the following:

DeAndre

LeBron

Random sidenote: Both of the dunkers have multiple capital letters in their first name. Once again proving the English language to be a farce because every grammatical rule has, can, and will be broken. This moment in history may also be a shout out to the mothers of the mid 80’s who purposefully, for good or bad, decided to give their children more ethnic sounding names AND spell them phonetically AND added capital letters. As a child of the 80’s with a boring plain name like Dwight, I used to dream, not really, about the names that my mother could have given me instead (Editor’s note: I wanted to change my name to Rasheed just to have a more ethnic sounding name, but the feeling did not last long).

While both dunkers victimize the helpless, leaping defenders (i.e. Brandon Knight and Jason Terry) and ignite the respective crowds, the one that is most impressive is easily the DeAndre Jordan dunk. It looks nastier, even though he gives the best “Did I do just do that” a la Steve Urkel face while walking away from the scene of the crime. The mid-air contact and then burst of athleticism as DeAndre empathically slams the ball makes anyone shudder. At the same, one cannot discredit LeBron’s body knocking dunk. His dunk took place in a playoff intensity-like game between two teams that absolutely, without any equivocation, hate each other. That adds to the dunk. And how can one not discuss that look filled with utter disgust and unlimited braggadocio that LeBron gave as he paid his last respect to the body as it lay on the hardwood court.

Either way, both dunks were great, but neither should be called the “Greatest Dunk of all Time.” Give it some time and let’s revisit them when we are nostalgic and see if they can hold up next to these dunks.