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Why Are You on the Court?

19 Jun

lame streetball

Everybody has been to a basketball court and seen these guys. The girls in the stands, that have never watched basketball in their lives, are rolling on the floor in laughter watching these idiots attempt to score. The guys on the court are pissed that they are on the same team with them. Yet, the lame basketball dude still exists on every court in America. It has to stop. Only through recognizing them, can we rid them from our courts.

 

1. The Lame Tattoo Guy

This guy has a tattoo of a flaming basketball with his name written across it, sitting in the middle of a picture of his home state etched onto his bicep, with the the words “Home City’s(New York’s, Miami’s, Chicago’s, Houston’s) Finest” in Old English inscribed under it. Strangely, this guy couldn’t score the basketball if his life depended on it. He can dribble, but makes no impact on the outcome of the game. This guy must be stopped.

sweaty basketball

2. The Fat, Sweaty Hairy Guy that Takes off His Shirt

This guy looks like he’s wearing a wool sweater under his t-shirt, and once he hits the court it comes off. He now closely resembles a grizzly in Air Jordan’s, and you have to guard him. Chest to chest. Man to bear in the post. He scores because you don’t want to touch him. All you see is rolls of fat and colored cotton balls rumbling towards you. You can’t distinguish between his perspiration and yours on your shirt, and all you can do is wait for the next game.

 

3. The Lame Sportswear Guy

a. The “I wear all the gear” guy – This dude shops religiously at Footlocker. He has the authentic baby blue, North Carolina jersey and shorts, the matching headband, and a wristband on his wrist, forearm, bicep, and forearm, despite never having played or attended North Carolina or any other college. This would all be forgivable if he were a decent basketball player. He’s terrible.

b. The ‘”Whoever” is my favorite player’ guy – This guy wears an Allen Iverson jersey because his high school girlfriend told him they resembled each other when he had braids. He tries to crossover like Iverson. He tries to shoot like AI. He fails miserably at it all. Or maybe he wears a Kobe jersey and only shoots fade away’s…air-ball fade away’s. He is absolutely infuriating and talentless.

 

4. The Snowbird/Cherry-Picking Guy - There is always a fast break when this guy is on the floor. Unfortunately, it’s normally for the other team. 5 on 4. The snowbird doesn’t play defense. He waits at half court waiting for you to rebound the basketball and throw it to him, so he can score easily. Games end very quickly with this guy on your team. You usually lose.

 

5. The Black Hole - The ball goes into him, but it never comes out. There is no shot that looks bad to this douche. Two guys guarding him? He takes a three. Three guys guarding him? He takes the fade away. There is no shot he won’t take, and he will prove it every time he touches the ball.

 

6. The Coach - This guy knows every fact ever imagined about basketball. He understands coaching philosophy and theory. Unfortunately, putting theory into application is far more difficult than it sounds. The guy that can’t shoot, dribble, pass or run up the court three times without passing out gives out the most advice on how to play together.


7. The Guy Who Fakes an Injury After He Misses - You suck. You know it, but you won’t admit it. Your knee/ankle/shoulder was fine when you scored on the play before.

 

8. The Old Guy - He’s been reminiscing about his glory days when they won the state championship and he decides to make a return to the court…after 30 years. He fouls mercilessly, misses shots, and keeps telling you about how great he was…30 years ago. He scores once and tells you how good he really was…30 years ago. Just then, on the very next play, he becomes the guy who fakes an injury after he misses.

 

9. The Takes Everything Too Seriously Guy - This guy may or not be able to play basketball well. However, the score is now 2-1 and this guy is running and screaming like the world is coming to an end. The game isn’t over until one of us scores 15 points. Relax, dude. We have time to catch up. If you miss a shot in the game, he’s frustrated. If he misses, he’s holding back tears. This is not your livelihood. We are not playing for a NBA championship.

 

10. The White Guy - Here’s your “White Men Can’t Jump” reference and stereotypical comment for the year. For every Billy Hoyle(a white guy that hustled black guys in the movie and could really play), there are fifty white guys who have never played organized basketball in their lives and really stink up the court. When a white guy hits the basketball court, regardless of talent level, size, or any prior knowledge of the game, he is expected to hit open shots and have an innate understanding of the it. When he comes to a court he has to be unstoppable. This is completely unfair and based in ignorance, but so is the low number of minority white collar workers. I’d personally rather be stereotyped on the basketball court, than in the workplace.

Having a Baby Made Me a Millennial

18 Jun

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I am not a millennial.  In fact, I am knocking on the door to my fifth decade of life. I have purchased a VCR (and owned a Blockbuster card), I owned a pager despite never going to medical school, and I remember life before Wikipedia, microwaves, and power windows in cars. To keep things in the here and now for those who can’t even conceptualize the aforementioned concepts, I can leave my cell phone at home without having a near myocardial infarction. Believe it or not, I actually call people – not just text or email everyone – I don’t post on social media every time I go to the gym or post every meal I cook, and since I’m not a celebrity, I don’t have Twitter followers nor do I check my mentions the moment I wake up in the morning.  For full disclosure, millennials (not all, just nearly all) annoy me deeply.  I can’t stand their talk of white shaming, weight shaming, and wealth shaming.  The entitlement that they display, despite being significantly lazier than every generation preceding them, is astounding. It mortifies me that every participant in children’s athletic events gets a trophy.  Somehow they think that it’s constructive to argue in the comments section of every online article as if they are actually going to change the mind of the trolls who gather there. In an effort to be impartial, I can understand that they were born into a world that preaches erroneously that life is fair, revolutions begin behind hashtags on an LCD screen as opposed to doing hard work, and that the comforts of “first world problems” belong to them because their ancestors busted their asses.  Sadly, with all that being said, I’ve come to the unfortunate reality that having a baby has turned me into a surrogate millennial.  It feels like I died and was resurrected into a lesser form like a white walker by the Night King.

I Get Things Delivered To My House
It’s nearly impossible to live in 2017 America without purchasing items online.  Brick and mortar stores are closing by the dozens, and even the ones that exist have shrinking inventory onsite.  I’m an Amazon guy, and have had Prime nearly since its inception; nothing beats getting unneeded merchandise placed right at the doorstep delivered in just two days. Having a baby has completely flipped that on its head for me. Instead of ordering items that I don’t need from Amazon, I find myself ordering items that I actually really do need from Jeff Bezos’ dynastic empire.  Never in my life as a single guy would I imagine getting paper towels and toilet paper delivered to my house.  Not to mention the ubiquitous baby items littered throughout my living room – diapers, wipes, lotions, soaps.  When grocery stores began instituting curbside pickup, it was an absolute panacea.  With the advent of this groundbreaking idea, I don’t even have to wait the two days for Amazon.  I can park at the front of the store and get items brought directly to my car.  For those who don’t know, bringing a baby to the grocery store is like going to Walmart on Black Friday. The moment that bundle of joy is taken from the car seat to the shopping cart the countdown begins.  Unfortunately no one knows how much time they have until the little one starts crying about everything and absolutely nothing at all, has a bowel movement that smells like a toxic waste landfill, starts grabbing things from the shelf, puts random items in their mouths, or all of the above.  This is all assuming that the baby isn’t asleep upon arrival to the store, thus negating the option of even shopping altogether (for the uninitiated … NEVER awaken a sleeping baby unless a bottle or breast is about to be shoved into their mouths).  I digress, but millennials get essentials delivered to their houses all the time.  Being able to pick up the phone, click a few buttons, and get all the essentials without walking away from Instagram and/or Kik is beyond priceless. Yes, I understand the convenience, but what about the socialization that comes from being in the store with others?  I admit that it’s not very aerobic, but any amount of walking, even if it’s just through a grocery store, provides benefit over being completely sedentary.  As an FYI to single guys, one of the best places to find high quality women is the grocery store. In the evening it’s teeming with women who are coming straight from work or the gym, and seeing a well-dressed man assessing items in the produce section is a major turn on.  Ignore my advice and continue to shop for essentials online at your own peril millennials.  It just sucks I have to follow in this idiocy.

My Food Has Changed
Speaking of delivery, the only food that I used to ever get delivered to my house was pizza.  Rest assured that has gone by the wayside also.  Not only is time spent cooking sometimes impossible, traversing the city to get to a restaurant with baby in tow is a nonstarter.  Yes, going to a fast food establishment with a drive through is always an option, but now in years I’m equidistant between retirement and being a freshman in high school, so avoiding fast food is integral to my goal of never getting put on cholesterol medication.  In addition, being that parent with the kid who is screaming in the restaurant is a very lonely feeling.  Every single eye (and painfully ear) is on that family.  We’ve all seen it happen … it’s like a car wreck in the middle of the highway during rush hour.  Enter Ubereats, Postmates, and DoorDash.  Getting high quality, restaurant food delivered quickly has been one of my favorite aspects of living in 2017. Clearly I would love to prepare my own foods to save money, but time is money, and actually a more valuable commodity.  Millennials get food delivered all the time.  This is one of the major reasons why mainstay traditional restaurants are hurting so badly economically, and the rise of the fast casual establishments has occurred.  Ordering food delivery is easy and expedient, but incredibly expensive and not necessarily the healthiest.  The wonderful Generation Y group actually has the time, but use it inefficiently between watching YouTube videos, texting and walking (while not looking where they are going), bragging about how little gluten they’ve eaten this week, taking selfies, and not paying back student loans.  Quick tangent on food … trendy foods that millennials eat are not necessarily all that healthy.  “Wholesome” items like gluten free items like pizza are nowhere near nutritious. Yes the dough doesn’t have gluten, but large quantities of melted cheese and processed meats are never part of a healthy diet (By the way, if one doesn’t suffer from Celiac disease, it’s usually completely fine to eat gluten.  Gluten doesn’t make one obese, all the carbs and sugar in that bag of gluten free cookies marketed as “organic” or “natural” does).  For those unsure, kale salad dripping with ranch or blue cheese has essentially zero positive nutritional benefits.
Much to my chagrin, I’ve latched on to the organic food bandwagon to make sure my little one doesn’t get overexposed to unnecessary antibiotics. With that being said, I keep to purchasing organic products from the dirty dozen and that’s it.  I’m not getting bamboozled into buying idiotic things like organic breakfast cereals or crackers.  Methinks Post, Nabisco, General Mills, etc. aren’t really separating their huge assembly lines into organic versus inorganic.  Moreover, if one looks at the label for organic cereal makers like Kashi, it shows higher amounts of total carbs and sugar than a comparable cereal.  Interestingly enough, almost instantly after Amazon purchased Whole Foods, they dramatically dropped the prices on a host of items.  Exhibit A that spending twice the price for an organic item is a scam.  I know it’s difficult to accurately suss out truth from fiction regarding organic vs. inorganic vs. natural vs. GMO, but millennials aren’t buying organic items to be healthy.  They’re doing it for the illusion of being healthy.  This can easily be deduced by research which shows the obesity rate in America continues to increase, the majority of millennials do not exercise, and that roughly a third of them smoke and use illegal drugs.  In total fairness, Gen Ys do tend to opt for healthier (more natural) options than the previous generations, however, they tend to consume more food (total calories) than their predecessors.  At any rate, I buy very select organic junk, not to be braggadocios like millennials, but to not expose a baby to only God knows what before they have the chance to make the choice themselves.


A Few Other Millennial-esque Things I Have Regrettably Starting Doing:
Not answering the phone when people call, despite having just texted them right back – When people do this it makes me sick.  Millennials don’t talk on the phone because they have no social skills. Not only that, if they’re on the phone, they can’t be on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Tinder, and Whatsapp at the same time.  Much to my chagrin, I have become one of those people who will text, but can’t talk on the phone immediately after.  My hands may be wet washing bottles, kiddo may have thrown my phone somewhere that I can’t reach, or I may want the house quiet to make sure Jr. stays asleep.  Any of those situations results in me appearing to be the pretentious millennial who can’t type a message, but is too important to allow verbal communication.

Reading things only on electronics – The classic Fahrenheit 451 tells the story of a future society where books are outlawed.  It seems like that’s already the case with millennials.  Every piece of information they glean is from a phone, tablet, laptop, or monitor.  I would venture to guess that at some point libraries will vanish; moreover, learning the Dewey Decimal System went the way of the 8-track player.  I don’t pick up books much anymore because there’s no time.  Kids are time vampires; they abolish the possibility of a full night of sleep, and when they’re awake, they crave attention.  Reading books was fun, I hope to do it again one day.  In addition, babies like to destroy things.  Pick up a book or leave it lying around, and they’ll tear pages, spill food/drinks on it, or spit up all over it.  Novels and babies don’t mix.

Texting someone in the same building as me – I see Gen Y people doing this, and it baffles me. Go into any restaurant and it’s rare not to see two young people at a table ignoring each other and texting away.  It really wouldn’t surprise me if every once and again they forget, and send texts to one another.  Anyway, sometimes my wife and I will have to text when we’re both at home, but for the sole purpose of not waking up the baby. I reiterate, the lesson as always is to never awaken a sleeping baby unless there is a bottle or breast ready to stick in their face.

Life Is A Poker Game

17 Jun

poker

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You Have to Play the Hand That’s Dealt

Any poker player knows that he will go through some streaks where he seems to win every hand, and some stretches where he can not get a good hand. But, either way the biggest part of the game of poker and the game of life is playing the hand that you are dealt. Some guys are born with every opportunity in the world. Some men are born with nothing but a dream. You decide how far you can go in your life by making the most of what you have.

 

The Gambler

To quote the song immortalized by Kenny Rogers, You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run.” Rogers was singing about knowing when you are winning in a hand and knowing when you are losing a poker match. And, your position in the game should dictate what your next action is. Similarly, situations in real life call for different actions depending on what you perceive. You have to know when to leave a predicament and know when it is worth pursuing.

 

Play Your Opponents Not the Cards

Occasionally, a game of poker comes down to reading your opponents instead of their cards. Everyone gives cues into their hand in a poker game. Your ability to beat your opponents depends on how observant you are. In the workplace, politics sit behind almost every position that is above you. You have to work hard at your vocation, however your success in your career depends on how well you can navigate the office hierarchy.

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Sometimes It Does Not Matter How Good You Are

Sometimes, you are better than the guy who is across from you, you know what he has in his hands, and your cards are better. Then, by chance, he draws the card that beats you. You have set him up to get him here, he fell for your trap, but he draws the one card that can beat you. In life, sometimes you do everything in your power to succeed and it does not matter. You planned ahead, you even had a couple of backup plans that all fell through, and you lost.

 

Never Show Your Hand

Showing your hand in poker is the ultimate sin. It strips you of your edge in poker matches against opponents because showing your foes your cards tells them exactly when you were bluffing and not bluffing. The bluff is a poker player’s most important weapon. It allows you to bully weaker players when they have better hands and less chips than you and it can even unsettle stronger players. You should never show your trump card unwarranted. There are people at the card table and in your daily life that will exploit you if they know the extent of your capabilities. A person who has to guess if you are more talented, backed by superior forces, or more grounded than they are is less likely to confront or persuade you. They will accede to your will.

 

 

The Last Big Man

7 Jun

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Shaquille O’Neal will not go down in the annals of basketball history as the best big man that ever played the game despite being one of the most talented post players in league history. That title is reserved for Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, or Kareem Abdul Jabbar. He quite possibly could have surpassed them had he worked harder at conditioning or shooting free throws. But nevertheless, he is a certain Hall of Famer and still the fourth best big man in National Basketball Association history, Hakeem Olajuwon notwithstanding. Shaquille O’Neal was as dominant, intimidating, and downright abusive  as any post player ever was on the block. He was a real big man, and unfortunately he may be the last pure big man that we may ever see. Shaquille was the National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player, the NBA All-Star MVP, and the NBA Finals MVP in the 1999-2000 season. He won a total of four championships and three Finals MVP’s in five trips to the NBA Finals. He scored 28,596 points with a 23.7 points per game average and grabbed 13,099 rebounds with an average of 10.9 rebounds per game. He blocked 2.3 shots per game and altered countless others. Shaq was a statistical giant whose numbers were only marred by two mediocre seasons in Cleveland and Boston, and only rivaled by a few centers in NBA history. But more significantly, the way that he played the game of basketball is more important to telling his legacy. Shaquille O’Neal played solely with his back to the basket. There were no feathery free throw line jumpers or facing up at the top of the key for a jab step and a soft bank shot in his game. He bullied his way towards the basket for powerful, short hook shots or devastating dunks on every play. The only finesse move in his arsenal was a spin move that was predicated on the defense overplaying him. Shaq was one of a kind talent, and unfortunately there are no players in the league to succeed him in the paint in the same way that he followed other NBA bigs down there. Those big men that played exclusively in the paint have disappeared. They have slowly become obsolete in the last few years of the NBA as the best big men have gotten older. The last two true post players in the league are Shaq and Duncan. Before their skills eroded both Shaquille O’Neal or Tim Duncan could score one on one against anyone in the post. However, Shaq recently retired after an injury-riddled year in Boston and a severe drop-off in his production made him less effective. Tim Duncan has become decidedly slower, less athletic, and less effective in the last few seasons. The rest of the big men, with the exception of Dwight Howard, are hybrid posts that spend as much time out on the elbow and wings as they do in the paint. Howard plays in the paint, but he languishes to score without help from a play maker. He is often ineffective unless he has deep position under the basket or gets an easy assist from a penetrating guard. Dwight Howard is not skilled enough or confident enough to dominate offensively in the post like Shaq did. And, Howard also does not dominate on the defensive end like the former big men either. Howard gets most blocks from the weak side of the court and almost none on the ball, as opposed to the classic big guys of NBA legend.

In fact, some of these players caused the metamorphosis of the back-to-the-basket player into the versatile big men that we see today. The beginning of the end for true posts started with players like Hakeem Olajuwon, Kevin McHale, and Kevin Garnett. Though each of the three players careers overlapped with at least one others, they played in three different decades with dissimilar playing styles and matching approaches. All three could score effectively in the post, and they each played a part in the demise of big men. Kevin McHale was one of the first power forwards in the NBA that proved that big men could score in the paint without being physically imposing. He scored through immaculate footwork and an infinite  amount of counter moves. McHale was one the first bigs that scored consistently in the paint with mostly finesse moves. Hakeem Olajuwon combined the perfect footwork of McHale with the power of a center and the agility of a guard. He was incredibly coordinated, balanced, and super-athletic. Olajuwon played the game of center differently than anyone before him. He could play with his back to the basket and use power and technique, but he regularly took the basketball out on the floor and dribbled past defenders too. Over 50 % of his shots were on short jumpers, a far cry from big men of the past. Olajuwon scored just as easily in the paint as he did outside it. Garnett took Olajuwon’s skill level from the extended paint to the wing. Whereas Olajuwon was like a hybrid of the 4 and 5 position, Garnett at 6’11″ became a combination of the 3 and 4. He could handle the basketball like a guard, and had the quickness and athleticism of Olajuwon. Garnett was extremely skilled and shot even more jumps shots than Olajuwon. He could be the most versatile power forward in NBA history. These three unintentionally changed the landscape of basketball. After their appearance on NBA courts during the most popular period of professional basketball, players stopped learning the specifics of certain positions and began to learn the more attractive aspects of the game. Kids stopped learning the technique behind blocking shots and began practicing ball-handling. While this practice fed a proliferation of multi-talented younger players, it also created a league of players that never learned a defined set of basketball skills. The byproduct of McHale’s, Olajuwon’s, and Garnett’s careers is a league full of versatile, skilled players, but also a league full of guys that seldom impose their will on games because they failed to learn the classic way to play their positions. Shaq’s game was a bit of a throwback. He eschewed learning special ball-handling skills or the finer-points of shooting the basketball, and focused on positioning and footwork. It served him well. He used the techniques that big men before him proved to be effective. He manipulated floorspace utilizing his feet, his hips,  and his butt. He went over big men to score, or went through them. For his career Shaq shot 58.2% from the field. Shaquille O’Neal used his natural ability to his advantage on the basketball court instead of using trickery and pump-fakes. He guarded the paint with fervor. Anyone attacking the rim had his shot blocked or was met with a hard foul from a man that weighed in excess of 350 lbs. Shaq played the game the right way.

Shaquille O’Neal may have been the last real big man to play the game of basketball. He was the last of the shot-blockers who denied shots on-ball and from the weak side. He was the last of the big men that worked for deep positioning and he only used moves where his back was to the basket. And, he was the last guy to physically dominate and intimidate his competitors. His career was highly celebrated and he was one of the most dominant big men to ever play the game of basketball. It is unfortunate for basketball fans that he may be the last real big man to play it.