Archive for February, 2012

Linsensitivity

Posted: February 29, 2012 in Just Throwing This Out There

The Knicks get back onto the Court after 6 days off due to All-Star Break. Linsanity has been an amazing story for New Yorkers, Harvard, the NBA and Asian Americans.

It’s also been a launching pad for racial insensitivity towards Asian-Americans. It is as though the media did not know Asian Americans existed and used Jeremy Lin story as an experiment on how far they can push the puns and commentary on Lin’s nationality. Below I will try to take you through the insensitive journey that has been Linsanity.

Age Old Question: Is it racist if an Asian made the sign?

Courtesy of Jason Whitlock’s Twitter Account

Courtesy of MSG

Courtesy of Floyd Mayweather’s Twitter:

My Hometown Paper: The New York Post

The World Wide Leader in Sports: ESPN

But… I have an Asian Wife Defense

http://colorlines.com/archives/2012/02/suspended_espn_chink_in_the_armor_anchor_is_married_to_asian_woman.html

Ben and Jerry’s

Updated as of 2-29-2012 – I’m sure there will be more in the future

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Crazy Jet Dryer Mania

Posted: February 28, 2012 in ALL II
Tags: , , ,

As the resident NASCAR fan, I take  the lead for explaining the flustercuck that was the Daytona 500 and I will at some point.  What everyone is talking about is the explosion after Juan Pablo Montoya crashed into a Jet Dryer causing Daytona International Speedway to be on fire.  FIRE!  This isn’t the first time the jet dryer overshadowed the racing.  Back in 2008, a jet dryer displayed its full strength in an attempt to dry pit road and a dry road was the least of everyone’s concerns.

 

 

To frame my thoughts on NL MVP Ryan Braun’s successful appeal, it seems only fair to outline the story as I see it from multiple media outlets before getting to the nitty gritty.

ESPN’s Outside the Line features a detailed write up on the chronology of events including the Braun offer to take a DNA test, Major League Baseball’s rejection of the DNA offer, and the forward thinking component popularized by the Thursday announcement and Friday media frenzy.

Being that I am unfamiliar with the legal field, I thought it helpful to hit up my main man – and University of Chicago Law School graduate – Lester Munson for insight on the case.  By “hit up” I mean provide you with his legal take on the issue in writing and via radio on Mike and Mike in the Morning (for the listening inclined).

Being that I am also not a real scientist, this Sports Illustrated piece provides solid background from the CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency on the consequences of leaving sealed urine in one’s refrigerator.   Also, here is a link to an interview Bob Ley did with Dr. Gary Wadler, Chairman of the World Doping Agency on the validity of the tests.

Finally, Yahoo!Sports’ Jeff Passan gives us a hint into the collector, what happened to the sample, and all that you need to know about urine in a container!

Since I am tired of the story at large, here is my entire take on the process from beginning to end.

  • Some raised questions about the ability to test on weekends given this issue with FedEx/Kinko’s locations being closed early and all together on Sundays.  I have no problem with this.  I like my random drug/performance enhancement to be as random as possible especially given the advancements in 24-48 performance enhancers popularized by cycling.  Not being an expert, I DO trust when the experts say that the dual test of testosterone levels and synthetic testosterone were legitimate and would not be impacted by its location in someone’s refrigerator.
  • At this point, I also believe that the sample was not tainted.  I am happy to hear all three seals were intact and that the tape used on the container releases a foul smell to indicate tampering.  I am actually familiar with that technology (I did forensic science work before the field was popularized by network crime shows) and it is valid.
  • Why does FedEx have a monopoly in the transfer of MLB player’s urine samples?  Why not another carrier?  This is very interesting and mildly fascinating.  I wonder if we will see commercials of FedEx the official carrier of ALL THINGS baseball.  They should get Moises Alou to do a commercial for them!
  • The entire process absolutely worked.  Everyone discussing how this appeal is a blow to the MLB testing policy is dead wrong.  This process does not dismiss the previous successful positive tests or the more numerous negative tests by non-PED users.  The problem obviously is with the overly detailed yet vague language on shipping samples out to the appropriate authorities.  Yes, this handler under these rules did not follow the agreed upon protocol.  No, I do not think that accounts for the result.
  • I also have major issues with outsiders being exposed to a little information and assuming they know it all.  It happens the most with people assessing coaching.  Most of the work of coaches is done in practice and not during gameplay.  The same is with the sample collector.  People immediately saw this person collects urine samples for MLB as a part time job and went nuts – calling this person incompetent and blaming MLB for not hiring full time pee-in-cup teams.  Fact is most people collect samples as a part time job and that has NO BEARING on their competence.
  • Many people are upset that some are suggesting Braun “got off on a technicality.”  Well, he did.  Get over it.  Sources say that tampering with the sample never was a defense used in the case.  The result of the sample was NOT in question.  This literally was a case of protocol violation and subsequent questions of legitimacy.  The fact that the defense proceeded in this manner plus the scientists lining up outlining that the process the collector took would not change the scientific results is doesn’t help Braun at all.  Braun won because MLB could not adequately show that their agreed upon protocol was followed.
  • Others raised the issue of the DNA test and MLB’s refusal to comply.  I actually do not know when this option first came about but I do not really have an issue with MLB refusing to do a DNA test.  Introducing these elements of doubt would undoubtedly raise unnecessary attention and doubt into previous tests and absolutely undermine the legitimacy of the process.  If people think the testing system took a stomach punch today, the process of testing DNA would be a sledgehammer to the core.
  • Along with the loose language which will be fixed for transport/handling of urine (brought to you by FedEx), the most infuriating thing is the stupid appeals panel with three representatives: one from the Commissioner’s Office, one from the MLB Players Association, and a third party arbitrator.  According to Buster Olney, to my surprise, the MLBPA representative always votes in favor of the players; the Commissioner’s office representative almost always votes against the players (or for MLB but that can be confusing because I doubt MLB wants more steroid/PED attention).  How in the hell did these two sides agree to this dumb set up!?  Did no one expect for votes to all come down to the arbitrator?  Was this a case of: everyone gets a vote because we like working together!?  It is the worst system in sports.  Stupid.  Do. Better.
  • Finally, why are there so many leaks in Major League Baseball?  Confidential and private just do not exist in today’s news/entertainment culture but this is pretty darn ridiculous.  Smoke out the leak and tighten up the rules.

So there you go.  Not guilty on a technicality with mountains of science screaming foul play with a legitimate sample.  The good news is baseball dominated headlines!  The bad news is it only seems to get headlines when associated with PED, investigation, and possibly calling the judge.

Melo is not a TRUE Superstar!

Posted: February 23, 2012 in Okafor's Corner

In the NBA, the word “superstar” has a dual meaning. The term can denote an athlete whose skills transcend their on-court prowess in ways that lead to greater attendance at games and greater television ratings. The term can also signify an athlete whose on-court game is of the elite class—the best of very the best.

What differentiates the two meanings is one’s status. To fall into the former group requires a fun playing style, a high level of production, and most importantly, high name-recognition. Performance is the only factor that matters when determining who falls into the latter category.

In the case of Carmelo Anthony, it is undeniable that he fits the mold of the players whose talents go beyond what they accomplish on the court. Melo plays an exciting brand of ball, has consistently put up numbers at a high level for many years, and is one of the most recognizable NBA players.

But to call him a superstar if his performance is solely considered would be misguided. Here are the reasons for why I believe that Melo is NOT a true superstar:

1. Defense

Carmelo Anthony is a very BAD defender. His complete disregard for that side of the ball is very disappointing considering the fact that he is capable of playing good defense night in and night out. SI.com’s Point Forward does an excellent job of detailing Melo’s failures on defense.

2. Playmaking

A playmaker is someone that can create for himself AND for others. In essence, playing with a playmaker will result in easier shots and presumably, better results for you. There are varying styles of playmaking. The typical playmaker is someone who employs the drive and dish method (i.e. LeBron James, Chris Paul, Deron Williams). Those players tend to drive past their defender using their superb dribbling skills and usually, will pass the ball to the open man when the defense converges on them.

The other style of playmaking centers on a player’s incredible shooting ability. Great shooters create open shots for their teammates because to counter the shooter’s range, help defense principles will have to be compromised. The players that fall in this category are Dirk Nowitzki and to a lesser extent, Kevin Durant. See SI.com’s Point Forward description of Dirk Nowitzki for more explanation.

There are also different levels of playmaking. For example, LeBron James is one of the best playmakers while Joel Anthony is one of the worst. As for Melo, he is somewhere in the middle. He has the requisite skills to be an excellent playmaker but his style of play prohibits a higher rating. He is neither an elite creator off the dribble nor do defenses fear his shooting ability similar to how defenses fear Nowitzki’s or Durant’s.

3. Playoff Success

In the eight years that Melo led his team to the playoffs, his team has been eliminated in the first round all but one time. Some people would excuse his team’s lack of success in the playoffs because he played in a very competitive Western Conference (true) and played with a weak supporting cast (false) for most of his career.

4. Melo is not a Top-7 Player

Every year, the number of players that comprise of the elite group fluctuates. The number is usually around seven, give or take 1-2. For this year, based on my observations, I believe that only seven players are currently true superstars and Melo is not in that group. He certainly is not a better player than LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Dwayne Wade, and Kevin Durant.

Now, a player can still be true superstar even if one or more of the aforementioned categories apply to them. For example, Kevin Garnett failed to lead the Timberwolves past the first round until his 8th season. But no one would question that during his prime, Kevin Garnett was a bona fide superstar. He played excellent defense, created plenty of open shots for his teammates, and was legitimately an elite player for many years.

Carmelo Anthony is a great talent but must improve on some areas before I will regard him as a true superstar. He is simply a star.

NBA All-Star Weekend from Orlando, Florida is this weekend along with a fantastic lead in by the Daytona 500.  While some writers bemoan the doldrums of post-football sports, your favorite blogger cannot be happier.  I cannot contain the excitement from Spring Training reports (MANNY IS BACK), Danica Patrick media attention leading to Dale Earnhardt Jr. being supplanted as the most overrated driver in motorsports, and the perpetually frustrating Dwight Howard counting down the days until Otis Smith butchers his pending trade leading to Howard leaving for nothing at the end of the season.  But it is All-Star Weekend!   Later this week I will be providing my favorites for the array of useless competitions on Friday and Saturday night but I want to give you my own All Star team: The ALL Defensive Team.

Everyone has All Star gimmick columns/blogs and I will not be denied my opportunity to add to the field.  Last week I wrote about superstar Carmelo Kiyan Anthony and attempted to outline a defense of his status as an All-Star.  Others point out that I frequently develop attachments to much maligned players so why not build a team of these guys?  Yes?  I will.  Now presenting the ALL Defensive Team: Top Players (and coaches) that will never fade from the highest peaks of my sports heart.

PG: Russell Westbrook

Prior to the season beginning, Ric Bucher and I suggested that at the very least 1) Russell Westbrook is an essential and elite point guard and 2) he may in fact be better than Kevin Durant.  After the month of December – five total games – Westbrook and I came under incredible levels of criticism.  Shooting below 40% (like his career), turnovers, feuding with Durant and everyone was ready to push him overboard.  Those same people are incredibly quiet these days about the body of work put up by the Long Beach native.  22.6ppg, 5 ast, 5reb on 47% shooting.  Turnover numbers still high but if we are giving Jeremy Lin a pass on turnovers, I think Westbrook has more than earned that pass – though he never gets it.  He is the most essential player on that team because without him the offense is stagnant and they would not have a reliable second scorer.  (Note: While Jeff Green was on the Thunder, James Harden was a better player despite being very good now).  Sure he will be the on people are ready to throw overboard but his value as a top five point guard is clear and a vital piece of a championship contender.  The guy is built to punish and score like a top tier option and has demonstrated that this season.

SG: Allen Iverson

As much as Carmelo disrespect bothers me, no one is more disrespected by Chika than Allen Iverson.  And, yes, he was my favorite player in the NBA besides and before Dirk Nowitzki because he busted his butt in a much tougher NBA on a team full of junk for most of his career.  He played on both sides of the ball leading the league in steals, minutes played, and heart.  The punishment he took at a very generous 6’0” without the assist of liberal, guard friendly officiating is second to none in today’s era.  Yes his shooting percentage was incredibly low but his contribution to that team goes beyond that figure because he kept his team winning and made it to the finals.  Iverson is the captain of the ALL Defensive Squad.  Respect.

SF: Carmelo Anthony

Since this team has a great point guard and for his career Melo is only a 46% shooter and an incredible rebounder for his size (6reb/gm) I will assume he will be just fine.  See this piece for greater analysis of the only man for LaLa’s heart.

PF: Christopher Wesson Bosh

Gets the most undue criticism based on associational bias.  Shoots 50%, made the most adjusting to the new roster moves (going from number one to number three), cares the most about winning of the big three in Miami, and is consistently working on both ends of the floor.  Some will point to his rebounding numbers not being as high as they should (whatever that means).  For his career he averaged over nine rebounds per game.  This year he is averaging eight.  He is also playing next to LEBRON FRIGGIN JAMES – a devastating rebounder.  I still do not get why people were ready to throw him under the bus: I suppose going 19-8-47% shooting just isn’t good enough for a team that got to game six of the NBA finals and who out-produced the King.  Easy to cast away the person that works the hardest to make things work but that’s why dumb people do not coach or run teams (accept the fans of the Denver Broncos)

C: Undefined but for short stretches of play Al Jefferson

No real centers in my unit which is good because people should know better but bad because traditional centers are all but gone.  I really like the work of Al Jefferson who when healthy commands a double team.  I also want to mention WORLD CHAMPION DIRK NOWITZKI who took a ton of flack from everyone about being soft and not a winner until he won by doing what he has done his entire career.

Head Coach: Erik Spolstra

Taught Dwyane Wade how to shoot.  Deals with stupid criticism until the Heat win all the time and everyone gives him no credit.  Manages egos to the extreme.

Asst Head Coach: Mike D’Antoni

The man has a system and it works.  It should be noted that the Suns were the better team the year Duncan hit that absurd three to beat the Suns and that time Nash got body checked into a scorer’s table.  You cannot go from bad to good to bad and back.  Just doesn’t work.  The team is built to score and hopefully Spo can do something defensively.

Asst Coach: Vinny Del Negro

Water cooler duty. And entertainment value.

Post- Fight Brawl

Posted: February 19, 2012 in Bunker
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Boxing as a sport is dying, but that doesn’t mean that press conference brawls and confrontations have to stop. There have been some classic post-fight brawls, Larry Holmes vs. Trevor Berbick (which the only thing missing from this to turn it into a full fledge amateur professional wrestling skit was someone screaming E-C-W in the background) and Tyson vs. Lewis ( more famous for Tyson’s “rant” afterwards) to name a few.

Saturday night, Vladimir Klitschko made easy work of Dereck Chisora, who thought it was a good idea to slap the heavyweight champion during their pre-fight press conference. During the post-fight press conference, however, David Haye (who was also bludgeoned by Klitschko) showed to heckle the beaten Chisora. After a bunch of yelling back and forth, Chisora confronted Haye and a “fight” ensued. Tripods were thrown, glasses were broken and innocent bystanders trampled as Klitschko looked on amused, concerned and confused.

– Bunk

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Can’t Take the Emotion Out of It

Posted: February 14, 2012 in Bunker

I like to think I’m a guy who can keep things in perspective. I try not to become a prisoner of the moment, look at things with an objective rational eye. Throughout the week going into Super Bowl XLVI (Forty-Six)  [46], I was nervous as if I was going to play the game. I never use the term “we” to describe the team I root for, I’m not a narcissist who thinks that somehow my cheering for the team has anything whatsoever to do with the outcome. Then why do I care? Why do I sit there and watch? These are the things I asked myself as I saw Faith Hill  come across the screen (who am I kidding? I was drooling per usual). My knees trembled, so I took a drink and paced around the room, while the guys I watched the game with, chuckled at my nervousness. Easy for them to say, the team they root for wasn’t in the big game. Psssh, they’d kill to be in my position!

Again, why? It’s torture. Watching an NFL playoff game does worse things for your blood pressure than chitlins.

But yet, I watched the game. Wore a Giants NFC Championship hat, an NFC Championship shirt and clutched my Superbowl XLII sweater (which I bought days before the Superbowl, risking that I would eventually have to give that hooded sweatshirt to someone in a homeless shelter if they loss. Thanks David Tyree, for keeping me warm through the winter. [Although I’m sure Tyree would think that would any arrangement where would keep me warm would bring about something close to the apocalypse.

Eli Manning was not nearly as worried as I was during the National Anthem. He actually didn’t even look like he was about to play in one of the biggest games of his life. But I did.

By halftime, the Giants were down, as was I. I went to the kitchen to quell my pain in the culinary arts and made wings for the crew and told every one that it doesn’t matter to me anymore. I was too old to care about football as if it were life or death. There are so many more important things. I heard screams of “bullshit” and “quit bitching” from the crew. Again I asked myself “why does it matter?” I felt great going into the 2nd Half. I created all the excuses in the world why the Giants wouldn’t win and even prepared my speech for their loss.

“Listen, Brady wasn’t going to let Eli beat him twice.” “Super Bowl 42 was so much better anyway.” “At least they made it to the Super Bowl. Nobody thought they would do that right?” “I like football for football, and you know what, Brady winning is good for football.”

Then something happened over the next few hours. Manning made a perfect pass to Manningham. Ahmad Bradshaw scored the more reluctant winning Touchdown in Superbowl history. Brady heaved a hailmary that fell just short of the outstretched hands of GRONK. The Giants were Super Bowl champions. The team that I liked the most were world champions.

What makes someone so invested in something that when it happens, they literally begin running around a city full of strangers and begin hugging and congratulating them on something they haven’t done. What makes it okay to tackle several people, including someone 150 pounds and 5 inches shorter than you? It’s a good thing I didn’t care about the game, because I wouldn’t have run through a screen door if I did. Nor would I have called half my phonebook. If the game actually meant something to me, I would have done something crazy like chest bumped a corrections officer in front of a jail. Or screamed “Anything’s Possible!” from a balcony.

Good thing I was mature enough to realize that I in fact did not win the Super Bowl and it was just some team that I enjoy rooting for, because they represent where I am from.

Good Thing.

Blowback (n): not just the unintended consequences of foreign operations, rather the unintended consequences of foreign operations that were deliberately kept secret from the American public who cannot put action into context.  Blowback is a CIA term but is equally applicable to the Asian-American sensation Jeremy Lin.  The recipient of blowback is, of course, Carmelo Kiyan Anthony.  Lin’s recent success sparked absurd concern that Melo wouldn’t fit well in the point guard led system.  Some people foolishly suggested that Melo is not a playmaker! Not a superstar!  A worse playmaker than Gilbert Arenas!  In classic New York City fashion immediate success prevents perspective and here we are today.  Is Carmelo Anthony a superstar?  Sure, I will waste my time arguing the obvious.

Carmelo Anthony is absolutely disrespected and underrated.  A few words in support of the superstar thesis require me to address the term superstar.  At the very least, a superstar is someone who is offensively superior, carries his team during down years, and is a centerpiece to build a team around. (To be fair, superstar is also a term referring to public recognition of a player which Carmelo also enjoyed throughout his career)  Defensively they do not need to be Bruce Bowen.  They also do not need to be bailed out by being called a “great team defender” because they play alongside two huge seven footers (re: Kobe Bryant).  Carmelo Anthony is NOT a defensive liability like teammate Amare Stoudemire.  He is an adequate defender and the best pure scorer in the league.  Let me repeat that Kevin Durant fans: BEST PURE SCORER IN THE LEAGUE.

If you take the time to look at Melo versus Durant 2010-11 per 36 min statistics (the same stats used by Sports Illustrated’s Point Forward list of the top 100 NBA players showing Melo 20th behind Amare, Paul Pierce, and others) you will see an interesting finding.  Melo shot the same percentage, scored about the same number of points, had more rebounds, same assists.  Don’t mind the fact that they had no point guard.  Don’t mind the fact that Melo has never had a point guard.  Melo literally carried the 2011 Knicks in the playoffs and kept those games close.  Haters will point out that they didn’t win a game.  I will point out that there would be no playoffs against Beantown without him.  Please let me know what great teammates he had to make deep runs in the playoffs in the deep Western Conference: Nene, J.R Smith, Marcus Camby, Chucky Atkins, Birdman Andersen, over the hill Allen Iverson?  Do better.

To suggest that Pau Gasol is better than Melo is offensive and raises major questions about analytical credibility.  Forget that Melo is among the top three in clutch scoring.  Forget that he has been forced to do everything (top five player in usage!).  Averaging 25ppg on 46% shooting and not being a BAD defender = superstar.  Being traded for four players, two good draft picks (Golden State 2012 and 2013 second round pick), and $3 million = superstar.  It is incredible how quickly people forget or dismiss one’s career accomplishments ESPECIALLY when surrounded by anchors keeping him down.

This conversation is totally ludicrous and I probably did not do my best work in making it because it is senseless to be having it in the first place.  Melo is the definition of a superstar in his performance on both sides of the court.  Pardon my stretch but Melo- the forward- reminds me of two people: Dominique Wilkins and former Nugget Alex English.  These forwards got hammered with the defensive criticism.  Incredibly gifted scorer, “not bringing down boards like a forward should,” doesn’t go deep in the play offs.  What is true is that Melo is an average defender and in the NBA (for superstars) you do not need to be more than average.

Melo is a superstar.  Chika disagrees.  What do you think!?

*Full disclosure: My favorite player in the 2003 draft was/is Carmelo Anthony.*

 

Editor’s Note: Here are the comments that followed Mr. Linton’s article.  Carmelo Superstar

Greg Jones Mom Concerned

Posted: February 7, 2012 in Collaborative Posts

For everyone who has seen Greg Jones’ cute proposal to his fiancee, Mandy and all who support him, you do have an enemy. And if my spidey senses are right, I think that enemy is Greg Jones’ mother.

Take a look at the slideshow and it seems as though she is the only one who can’t enjoy the moment.

 

http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/giants/post/_/id/12492/greg-jones-wins-a-ring-and-gives-a-ring?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

 

 

Courtesy: World Wide Leader in Sports