I am about to blog about something that is near and dear to my heart, as well as a glimpse into how I operate as a person. This is meant to be part educational, part me admonishing myself, as well as part commentary on “internet + sports discussion + Facebook + unrelenting opinions = this exact situation where we both look like idiots.” Discussing sports is something that I absolutely enjoy doing amongst my friends. Even when I am not with friends, I can easily broach the topic with whoever wants to oblige me and we can spend minutes upon hours talking and waxing poetically about sport’s existential awesomeness. That’s what sports do: they bring people together in a social setting to engage in some form of social bonding regardless of your team affiliation. The only problem is that once you bring all these people in for a social bonding experience, you have to look out for strong egos and even stronger unrelenting opinions. To make matters even worse, more and more social interactions (especially regarding sports) are occurring on internet message boards, Twitter and Facebook– mediums that trade face to face interactions with IP addresses, monikers and a computer monitor. A discussion and commentary on technology’s role in retarding social interaction is a completely different post… but these forums lead to hilarious or frustrating exchanges (depending on your vantage point) between two people discussing sports. This is one of those stories.
When I think back to that fateful April day when the Trail Blazers were awarded the #1 pick, I can still feel the goosebumps on my skin. I still hear the voices, shouting in the post-pubescent chords, of myself and my friends Casey, Nick and Matt. I still remember the incredible sense of “we’re here, we’re back; everything is going to be fine!” Travel from that April afternoon into the future, well the present, and you find that those feelings of hope, elation, exuberance are as faded as denim and replaced with a sullen and downtrodden countenance unsure of where to look. The future looked so incredibly bright and full of promise, until cloud by cloud, just like a Portland winter, the light was choked by the cumulus cover. It’s actually sinisterly poetic how Portland’s dreariness is a metaphor for what has occurred with the Portland Trail Blazers the last five years: just when you think there will be a chance for sunshine, you get dumped on in an unrelenting fashion.
First off: WOW, I haven’t written a damn thing for this blog in ages. I really just forgot about it after it exploded because of the lockout post. That little write-up put me on one; I mean I was a small time celebrity among my friends thanks to the cojones that I showed. Not to mention the Twitter love I got as well. In summation, I took far too long of a hiatus from writing (those same six drafts from last May are still sitting in the queue mocking me and saying, “I knew you couldn’t follow through, ya bum!” Oh, I’ll show you, you piece of coding and letters clicked through a keyboard. Be glad I haven’t deleted you yet. Man it feels good to ramble nonsensically like this!) Today’s post is going to be pretty nifty: I am going to use a song’s lyrics to explain a real world situation. It’s going to be awesome because it involves one of the most notable hip-hop artists ever: Ghostface Killah. Welcome to Hip-Hop Exegesis 358: Real Life Rapping.
As people know, Ghostface is from the illustrious Wu-Tang Clan and he ain’t one to fuck with. Also, he has (or someone using his namesake) created blog where he sounds off on hip-hop and rap artists and their work in real terms with hilarious analogies. If haven’t taken the opportunity to read any of his musings, I highly recommend it. Now that you’ve met today’s Real Life Rapping rapper, let’s see what we’ll learn today.
Ball so hard, this shit crazy
Y’all don’t know that don’t shit phase me
The Nets could go 0-82 and I look at you like this shit gravy
–Jay-Z, N****s in Paris
Must be nice (Lyfe Jennings voice) Jay-Z, regardless of the Nets’ futility or this impending lockout, you will (still) indeed be balling. Even as a minority owner, you’ll be cooling. Same goes for the other owners around the league. As for the players, you’ll be good too, as long as you manage your money better than Charles Barkley and Antoine Walker ever could. I am actually 100% certain that is the exact reason the NBA has a “Money Management” seminar shortly after players are drafted… but I digress. As for the rest of us… the rest of us that have some employment connection to the NBA as arena ushers, concessionaires, game-day operation staff, well, we will not be as fortunate for however long this lockout lasts and continues to cut games. The ENTIRE NBA business model has decimated the preseason slate and is slowly chopping regular season games at the knees in two week intervals. The employees (and jobs) that are integral to making sure that the “system” runs properly for all of these NBA teams are being put up on the Mayan sacrificial altar as alms to the idol of the dollar sign in a vain attempt to make a collective bargaining agreement. Just like in Apocalypto, I am Jaguar Paw and that is not about to fly… not while I have a voice that yearns to be heard amid the dross of “I NEED MORE MONEY,” from the owners and players.
Well, if that didn’t get your juices flowing, I don’t know what will. It has only been a bit more than a day since the Mavericks beat the Heat, and the reverberations of this feat have been felt throughout the country. Most of the reaction has been the criticism of the hubris, ignorance and disappearing of the biggest act in the NBA, LeBron James. Even in defeat, LeBron is still winning the press headlines instead of the championship rings he truly (which after this pitiful performance, can be questioned) desires. While it is and was amazing/saddening to see how completely the Heat froze up, it is and was remarkable and awe-inspiring to see the Mavericks rise up and claim the ultimate prize. Assuredly the league truest and possibly last (of a dying breed) unassuming players, Dirk Nowitzki accomplished a feat that had eluded him 5 years prior, and before that most of the early 2000s. In his latest postseason, Dirk Diggler performed at a level that was so unreal, so utterly amazing, that I was truly in awe of how far he has come and how damn well he plays the game of basketball. To my cousin Emem, who was dissing on Dirk during the disassembling of the “Lakers’ self-wiring computer” (his words, not mine): I told dude is bad, I told you: HE’S JUST RAW BRO! #whyumadtho, #dontbesalty, #enjoymikebrown haha.
Well, that was interesting. Maybe interesting isn’t indicative of how insanely irritating the initial two games of the first round of the NBA playoffs were for the Portland Trail Blazers. In a manner the Blazers have perfected throughout the year, the team lost a close game they had in their grasp due to late game in-execution and lost another by sheer befuddlement and lack of effort in the second half. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls: these are the Ugly Blazers.
In a season marked by countless trials, inhumane adversity and frustrating failure, it only got worse in the disastrous two game jaunt in Dallas. Gone is the hope and the thoughts of tasting the sweetness of the second round and unwelcome are the questioning of desire, the inability to defend and “WTF is wrong?” by fans and pundits alike. As a series pegged to be an upset-worthy, it has been anything but… and dramatically so. And now almost everything: sanity, pride, confidence in the present and future hang in the precarious balance of two home games in the Rose Garden.
Just when the Blazers seem to have played some of the best basketball of their season in the month of March, lethargy, poor shooting and an inability to complete road games in which they lead reared its ugly head. Sure they ended March with a cool 10-6 record, but upon further examination of those wins and losses (more importantly the losses), that 10-6 was as choppy as the Atlantic Ocean. The entire Blazers’ fan base was given the gauntlet of emotions to feel throughout March: shock at the luck with certain key opposing players being suspended or injured, elation over thwarting the Heat and stunning the Spurs, seething anger over the appearance of not giving enough effort in Charlotte and Atlanta, sound confidence in a few boring blowout wins and a loss for words and utter disappointment in losses to Oklahoma City and New Orleans. The Blazers season to date has not been as well-wrought as expected and the month leading into the playoffs proved no different.