Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Gambler Takes It To The Air

The answer to an age-old question has finally been revealed with the help of Ball Don't Lie - What would happen if singer Kenny Rogers went up against an in-his-prime Michael Jordan on the basketball court.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

NBA 2K10 & Draft Combine Trailers

2K Sports recently released a trailer for the upcoming NBA 2K10 game, featuring my very favourite person in the whole wide world, Kobe Bean Bryant! Also, NBA 2K10: Draft Combine dropped today for the XBox (us PS3 users have to wait until Sept 3rd to get our hands on it) so I've included an extensive trailer for that also. Enjoy!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Big Brother

Twitter strikes again. First there was J.R. Smith being akkused of gang affiliation due to his Twitter tweets. Then Stephen Marbury damaged his hopes of getting signed for next season with his crazy Tweets and webcam shows. Now Michael Beasley has reportedly checked himself into rehab, apparently for treatment for depression. No doubt the fallout over his recent infamous Twitter photo contributed to this turn of events. Which shows the dangers this new 24-hour, all-access media world we live in poses to "celebrities".

This "Big Brother Is Watching" world is great for us fans and writers, as we get much more access and "scoops" than ever before. But it also brings out the worst in us. We want athletes to be interesting and accessible, but at the same time we love to jump all over them at the slightest slip-up. One of the great aspects of Michael Beasley is (was?) his joye de vivre - he admitted he was still a kid, literally and figuratively, and he was going to enjoy himself. Sure he might be a knucklehead sometimes, but he is in no way a bad guy or someone who is going to be showing up on the police blotter. Now we're sucking the life out of him. Now if he does indeed have a substance abuse problem we can't be blamed for that, but we can be blamed if the man is suffering from depression. The internet is such a dangerous tool, all it took was for one person to comment about the baggies in the background of that photo for the wildfire to spread. Mainstream media jumped all over the story, this website jumped all over it, and next thing you know that guy checks himself into rehab. Shame on all of us.

The other sad part of this situation is athletes are going to become much more careful what they let be known to the public. Guys are already shutting down their Twitter accounts and the ones that still have them are probably going to end up looking like a publicist wrote it for them. We'll still have the Marburys and Ron Artests of the world that don't care what people think, but for the rest of the image-conscious athlete, they'll think twice before Tweeting. Which means more lame posts like "Off to the gym" or "watching a movie". We love building up our stars, but we love tearing them down even more. Technology just makes it easier for us to do so.

Here's hoping Beasley comes out of rehab as the happy-go-lucky kid we all remember him as. And here's hoping he can add to his already impressive highlight reel on the court.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Adventures of Super Cool Beas

Recent conversation at Michael Beasley's crib:

One of Beasley's Boys: Yo Mike, how is your new tattoo?

Super Cool Beas: Super Cool, my man. 'Cept it is super sore.

Beasley's Boy: No problem, I'm holding something that will help numb the pain.

Super Cool Beas: Super cool, my man. Throw the baggie of it over on my super cool coffee table.

Beasley's Boy: Will do Super Cool Beas.

Super Cool Beas: I've got to take a picture of my super cool new tattoo. Once everyone sees this picture they'll realize why I'm called Super Cool Beas.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Awesome Athlete Ads Volume III

You'll have to forgive the lazy posts recently, but it's the offseason - get off my back!! Continuing The Hoops Manifesto's awesome athlete ad series, here's three for the price of one. You're welcome.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

NBA 2K10: Draft Combine Trailer

2K Sports recently released a trailer for NBA 2K10: Draft Combine, which I wrote about a while back. Here is a small taste of what they have in store for us when the game drops in a couple of weeks.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Catch De Taste

The Hoops Manifesto's tribute to awesome athlete ads continues with this classic from the baseball realm starring Toronto Blue Jays star Roberto Alomar, before he was spitting on umpires and being accused of trying to give girls AIDS. Bon appetite.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Xavier McDaniel is Tougher Than You

So you think you are tougher than former NBA All-Star Xavier McDaniel? Here's proof that you're not:

- While playing for the Supersonics, the Seattle SWAT team replaced their battering ram with McDaniel's head.

- McDaniel needs a permit in most states to be in possession of himself.

- He's surprised he liked Saw 2 because he normally hates comedies.

- X gonna give it to ya, he gonna give it to ya.

- While going for a hike in the mountains of Seattle, he fended off a grizzly bear attack by raising his eyebrow.

- When it is time for Chuck Norris to die, it won't be the Grim Reaper delivering the news to him, because Chuck would roundhouse the Grim Reaper, but rather the X-Man.

- The original title of the Wu Tang's classic was "Xavier McDaniel Ain't Nothing Ta F' Wit" but before RZA could ask permission X choked him out.

- McDaniel considered entering the UFC until he learned of their "sissy" rules like no eye gauging or groin attacks.

- He once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.
- Whoever came up with the expression "I can put my arm back on, you can't" has never met Xavier McDaniel.
- The only reason the Sonics had to move to Oklahoma City is because McDaniel lost them in his weekly card game with Satan.

- Guess who insisted on human brains as part of his team's pre-game meal?

- He thinks Bill Laimbeer would have been a better player if he had played with more of a chip on his shoulder.

- Allegedly a referee called a foul on McDaniel once - we don't speak that referee's name any longer.

- And, finally, you know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

G.O.A.T. Basketball Commercial

Don't miss my treatise on Michael Vick. Now onto more important things. I stumbled across this video while reading through the archives of the very entertaining The Blowtorch blog today. It could very well be the greatest performance by an athlete in a commercial of all-time. Enjoy.

Just A Song And Dance Man

I was trying my hardest to avoid writing about the Michael Vick saga. The web is inundated with stories on him anyway, plus I didn't want to come off as too preachy, what with the hot flames I breathed upon Rick Pitino just a few days ago.

My position on Vick is pretty clear, even without me stating it and just letting you read between the lines. I WAS an Eagles fan up to a couple of days ago, am a dog owner, became a vegetarian and stopped buying leather, suede, etc. due to my moral beliefs, and believe a "mistake" is something that you do once, not an ongoing practice that continues until you get caught and are forced to stop and repent. So hopefully that makes my view on Vick clear without spelling it out explicitly.

What changed my tune about writing about Vick signing with the Eagles is the issue of "second chances". As predictably as death and taxes, all parties involved in this situation - Vick, the Eagles, the fans, media, the NFL - are spouting off about how this is all about giving the convicted dogfighter a second chance. Which is all really just self-serving rhetoric. What this is really all about is our insatiable need for entertainment. Ask yourself this question - are you really interested in giving Michael Vick a second chance or are you only interested in seeing performances like this:

Say Michael Vick got injured in prison and couldn't play anymore - would anyone be interested in giving the man a second chance, outside of maybe the Tony Dungys of the world? Of course not. People only care about Vick because he entertains us and sells newspapers and makes people read our blogs. If Vick was a plumber or teacher or construction worker, no one would be scrambling to give him a job. And there sure wouldn't be any moral outrage over denying this man an opportunity to earn a living and feed himself.

This is just further proof that the most important thing in our society is entertainment. We don't bestow $20 million salaries on the people who teach our children or come up with cures for cancer or lead our countries. We give these amounts of money to people who entertain us - athletes, musicians, actors. If you are lucky enough to be talented in one of these fields, you will always have the opportunity of a second (or third, or fourth) chance given to you. We can say all we want about other things being more important in our lives, but money talks, and the money says that we care most about being entertained. Michael Vick entertains us, therefore a team like the Eagles are willing to pretend they are being charitable by giving him a second chance, when in actuality they are just using him to make money by entertaining us.

The second Michael Vick stops being able to perform and entertain us, we'll forget about him and toss him to the side - which is probably fitting, considering that is exactly what Vick did to his underperforming dogs.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Tito & Dana Sitting in a Tree

Tito Ortiz and Dana White proved last week that Philadelphia really is The City of Brotherly Love. Now that's G.

UFC Caps & Beanies

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

(Not So) Slick Rick

If this basketball thing doesn't work out, Rick Pitino ought to try politics - he already makes similar "indiscretions" as politicians. As most of the world now knows, the married father of five had a little "indiscretion" a few years ago involving having sex with a woman in a restaurant, getting her pregnant, paying her money so she could get health insurance to get an abortion and then having the woman try to extort him and accuse him of rape. This is about as sleazy as you can get - not only did he cheat on his wife, he did so in a public place, without thoughts of birth control, and then, whether directly or not, helped aid the woman in getting an abortion. Despite all of this, his bosses at Louisville stand behind him and call him a role model and positive influence.

Am I missing something here? I try to be a compassionate, forgiving man. People do deserve second chances. But people don't always deserve to keep their jobs after incidents like this. Pitino has proved that he is NOT a role model or a positive influence. And because of this, Louisville needs to remove him as their head coach immediately. The highest paid public official in the state of Kentucky (until Coach Calipari came on the scene) and supposed "leader of young men" needs to be held to higher standards than the rest of us. And Pitino has proven not to meet these standards by any stretch of the imagination.

Similar cases have occurred with players, and their school didn't hesitate to chase them out of town immediately. So why shouldn't a paid employee of a university - the face of the school no less - be treated the same way. Not only is Pitino the face of the university, he is the person responsible for molding, supervising and coaching teenage kids. He's the one that is supposed to show them the way and help turn them from kids into adults. Additionally, many of the kids that end up on his team come from backgrounds lacking good role models (especially male ones), so that makes Pitino's role even more important. After this scandal has come to light, can you really trust Rick Pitino to teach his players the difference between right and wrong?

If a professor or the university president were caught up in the same type of scandal, do you think that the school would look the other way? Of course not, because those positions don't pull in money for the university like Pitino does. Now don't get things confused - this is all about money. The school will say all the right things about second chances and Pitino admitting to his "indiscretion" but the fact of the matter is they will keep him around because he recruits good players, which subsequently makes the team competitive, which subsequently makes the university tons of dough.

And that is just plain wrong. Pitino might honestly be sorry, but he still has to go. Louisville needs to make a stand that winning and losing and making money is not more important than providing a positive atmosphere for its "student-athletes". If Pitino is truly a role model and positive influence than he should prove it by stepping down - not due to moral reasons but due to the grief, embarrassment and distraction he has caused his players and his employer. If he's not willing to exit, Louisville needs to show him the way to the door. One way or another, Slick Rick The Ruler's reign in Louisville needs to end.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

What Goes Around Comes Around

It's quite fitting that Kurt Rambis has been hired to take over as the Minnesota Timberwolves head coach after Kevin McHale got fired. How does that expression about payback go again? Payback is a .....

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

John Wall Meets Jerry Stackhouse

Kentucky's incoming freshman point god John Wall introduced himself to NBA veteran Jerry Stackhouse over the weekend. Looks like the start of a beautiful friendship.

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MMA Manifesto - An Ode to Anderson Silva

Spiderman, Spiderman,
Does everything a fighter can,
Pound for pound, he's the best
Head and shoulders above the rest
Look Out!
Here comes Anderson Silva, man.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

MMA Manifesto - An Open Letter to Dana White

Hi Dana - I hope it is ok to call you Dana - you don't seem like one for formalities. I know you're really busy now, what with UFC 101 happening tonight, but there is an important topic I wanted to discuss with you. It is concerning the importance of competition and, more specifically, Strikeforce. No, not the Tito Santana-Rick Martel tag team from the late 80s - I'm talking about the MMA promotion.

Sorry, I probably confused you by calling the promotion Strikeforce rather than the name you coined for them "Strikefarce" (you are so funny and witty). I guess you are pretty peeved at Strikeforce right now for signing Fedor Emelianenko on you, but like I wrote before, you made the right choice letting him go elsewhere. Now you feel threatening by this promotion, the very same promotion you used to bestow kind words upon. You say that Fedor is going to ruin Strikeforce and that if they want to fight you then bring it on. But I think you are missing the point here - you shouldn't feel threatened about a competitor getting stronger - you should view it as a positive.

Competition isn't a dirty word - it's a good thing. Competition will keep you and your organization on its toes and make sure that you don't get complacent. Competition will also help grow the sport, which in the end means more money in your pocket. Look no further than the world that your current heavyweight champion, Brock Lesnar, came from - pro wrestling. Wrestling was on fire in the last 1990s when the WWE (nee WWF) and rival WCW were waging a full-on battle royal. The WWE's TV ratings were twice what they are now, and combined with WCW's equally high ratings, the sport was getting more attention and viewers than ever before. Then Vince McMahon bought up all the competitors (WCW & ECW) and the TV ratings have dropped. With MMA still in its infancy, you and the UFC can not go it alone in building the sport into a mainstream powerhouse - you need help. That is where promotions like Strikeforce and Dream and Sengoku come into play. They get your sport exposure and drum up interest without you having to put any money into it. As long as you remain the leader in the industry - which you apparently have a stranglehold on for the long run - you will do nothing but benefit from this growth of your sport.

If you don't like the pro wrestling comparison, we can find examples in the place where you want to be - mainstream sports. The AFL brought exciting, offensive-minded football to the fans before they combined with the NFL. The WHL introduced the world to Wayne Gretzky before they joined the NHL. The ABA introduced Afros, Dr. J and the slam dunk competition to the realm of basketball. In the end all of these leagues ended up merging with their competitors, but the point is that for a period they put up strong competition to the respective leaders in their fields, causing everyones' games to get elevated. Having a strong competitor in Strikeforce will force you to continue to put together strong PPV cards, not Rich Franklin vs. Vitor Belfort main events (because, seriously, you expect people to pay $49.99 for that?!?).

Besides, even with Fedor, Strikeforce (sorry - Strikefarce - so funny) shouldn't be considered a dangerous rival anyways. They should be looked upon as nothing more than a minor league - a place where fighters can gain exposure and experience before you sign them to the big leagues in the UFC. This is a promotion that has a woman's match - which, at this early stage of women competing in the sport is nothing more than a gimmick match - headlining an upcoming PPV. Maybe Strikeforce will steal some of your advertising and TV revenue and force you to pay a little more for fighters than you would have preferred, but in the long run the positives of having a strong competitor far outweigh the negatives.

I know you hope and predict that you will crush Strikeforce and force them to join your ranks, like Pride and Affliction before them. But hopefully I have made you reconsider that position.

Hugs and Kisses,

The Hoops Manifesto

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Needle And The Damage Done

Rashard Lewis has totally stolen my thunder. I've been planning a steroids in the NBA piece for quite some time - I even pitched it to Sports Illustrated today - and he has to go and get busted for steroids. I wanted to explore why every other sport seems to have problems with performance enhancing drugs (or PEDs if you want to be cool) but the NBA so far had been free of blemishes. Sure, plenty of players had been busted for chasing the dragon, but no one in the NBA would ever dream of using steroids or other PEDs.

Then Rashard had to go and piss it all away (pun intended). He's already trotted out the old reliable (nudge,nudge,wink,wink) "tainted supplement" excuse, which has to be the lamest and least believable alibi in the book. Even when I was playing basketball in university in Canada I had a list provided to me of all the supplements that were banned in the league, so there is no excuse for Lewis to not know that he was taking something against the rules (which, to his credit, he has pretty much come out and said himself). I much prefer players with unique excuses, like that tennis player who was busted for cocaine who claimed it got into his system when he kissed a mysterious woman he met in the bar. Now that is a cool excuse. Guess Rashard's wife would be pissed with that one though.

But the real news here is not Rashard Lewis getting busted, but why more NBA players don't get caught. Despite all the negatives to PEDs (long-term health issues, illegal, against the rules) many athletes think the positives far outweigh them. PEDs can make you faster, stronger, bigger and aid in recovery and recuperation - all vital for sports. So why are we supposed to believe that NBA players aren't interested in getting an edge on the competition, what with millions of dollars in contracts and millions more in endorsements up for grabs? If football players, and baseball players and bike riders and so on all do PEDs, why wouldn't basketball players also?

What is more interesting to ponder is what would the NBA, its corporate partners, the media and the fans think if a PED problem got uncovered in the League? Lewis will be a good test case, an all-star player but not a superstar or big name guy. A 10-game suspension is a pretty small slap on the wrist - less than an eighth of the season - so perhaps the League isn't too concerned with the problem.

But what do we, as fans, feel about this? Do we care if our basketball heroes are doping? We care in baseball because that is a game steeped in history, where records and numbers matter and we don't want the heroes of yesterday getting robbed by young drug users. We don't care in football or MMA because those athletes are warriors and we only care about the size of the combatants and the ensuing violence of their collisions. But basketball is sort of in between these two extremes. So, do we care if NBA players are on steroids or HGH? Would Michael Jordan's aerial exploits be diminished if we found out drugs were helping him jump that high? Would we still consider LeBron or Kobe the best in the world if we discovered they were sticking themselves with needles in the training room?

I guess these are all questions that don't have a consensus answer - it all depends on what each of us feel about the issue on a personal level. But just be prepared to do some soul searching soon - if virtually every other sport is touched by PEDs the NBA can't remain scot-free for much longer.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

MMA Manifesto: Big Fedor, Small Pond

It is with a heavy heart that I report the demise of the Fedor Emelianenko in the UFC dream. And as hard as it is to say due to the fact I'm not a fan of the man's persona or way he carries himself, Dana White did the right thing.

I wanted Fedor in the UFC as much as the next guy (but probably not as much as my brother, who has developed a serious crush on The Last Emperor), but I completely agree with White and the UFC's decision to hold their ground and not cave in to Fedor and M1's demands of a co-promotion deal. The UFC has taken years to build their brand to the position it is at now and there is no way they can compromise that position by letting a fighter's management company piggyback on their brand name. As much as Fedor would have brought to the UFC, it would not have been enough to justify giving M1 a co-promotion deal. If the UFC crossed that bridge, negotiations with every other big name fighter in the future would have gotten infinitely harder.

White might be a blowhard, but there is no denying that he is a brilliant business man. Being a MMA fighter is a precarious occupation - one day you can be on top of the world, the next moment you are considered washed up. That is why White has wisely made his mug - and not that of a fighter - as the face of the UFC. White isn't going anywhere - no one is going to knock him out (even though many dream of that) and tarnish his image. He is the one getting all the media attention. He is the one on the cover of the inaugural edition of the UFC magazine. Dana White is the most famous person in the MMA world, not Fedor or anyone else. While it would have been great to see Fedor in the UFC, the truth was that Fedor and M1 needed the UFC more than the UFC needed them. As long as the UFC have Dana White, they are going to be fine.

Besides, it is not like Fedor is much of a draw in North America anyway. Us hardcore MMA fans know and love him, but the casual fans - the ones that every sport depends on to make a profit and prosper - probably only know about him due to all the publicity his recent contract negotiations with the UFC garnered. He is a chubby, shy Russian who comes off as rather unassuming. Before the bell rings he certainly doesn't appear to be a bad ass, like his heavily tattooed brother does.

The intangibles Fedor does possess - his mystique and seemingly invulnerability - would have been destroyed pretty quick in the UFC. Once the UFC's marketing muscle was put behind him, his mystique would have vanished almost immediately. He'd no longer be this mysterious Drago-like character from Russia - he'd be exposed as the normal, down-to-earth person that he is. As for the invincibility, that disappears for all fighters eventually. All fighters - no matter how dominant - eventually lose in the MMA world. Fedor has only lost once - that was nine years ago and it was due to a cut - but the fact of the matter is he is 33-years-old, and as much as we hoped, there was no guarantee he wasn't going to get his face smashed in during his very first UFC match versus Brock Lesnar. So, with the mystique and the invincibility gone, what would the UFC have been left with? Just another talented - but aging - fighter. Not someone worthy of having his own management help run the organization.

So as tough as Fedor is, it looks like he finally ran into an opponent who he couldn't make tap out - Dana White.

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

"It Ain't Nothing But The Devil"

I was originally reluctant to join Twitter but now I'm glad I did. If I wasn't for Twitter I wouldn't have the following links for all you good people to check out. They're the best Jerry, the best. Here are some of the gems I've discovered this past week.

First off, the Lego adventures of Allen Iverson and friends is one of the funniest things I've seen on the world wide web in a long time. Nuff respect due to the Overflow blog.

Lego Iverson Part 1

Lego Iverson Part 2

Lego Iverson Part 3

Lego Iverson Part 4

Lego Iverson Part 5

Lego Iverson Part 6

And of course, our good friend Stephon Marbury is still hard at work entertaining us all. In this latest instalment he runs into the devil in his Benz. As we all know from experience, that's not a fun thing to have happen to you.


Bet you didn't know that Donyell Marshall was really Luke's father.

So an Austrian, a Frenchman and an American are on a movie set together....

That's it for my lazy links dump post. Currently working on a NBA All-Eccentric Team. Any suggestions speak now or forever hold your peace.