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A graduate of Sports Studies at Paisley University, which is about as rewarding as being the best dancer in the Spinal Unit.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

AIR OF DISCONTENT: 5 Reasons To Dislike Post-Retirement Mike

"I love it when a turtle neck and cigar combo come together."
 My dad is notoriously hard to please. 
Around my early-teens he asked me what I was planning to do with my life, aside from being unimaginably gangly, repellent to girls and a crippling disappointment. Not wanting to sell out on my reputation, I suggested:

1) Reviewing video games (If you were there, you could actually hear the 'death rattle' from inside him, 60 years early).

2) Playing professional basketball.

 The second option, as unreasltic as it was (you were more likely to see Michael Vick on Pets Win Prizes) basically came from one man: Michael Jordan.
My first NBA video, The Dream Team, had a short section on him that highlighted dunks and plays that literally had me believing that the guy had some kind of supernatural ability.
From there, I believed all the hype, all the hearsay. I believed it when it was reported NASA were investigating him for his "flying ability" and uncanny knack of hanging in the air longer than most (to give you context, my best friend at age 9 was a stick). He was delivering incredible passes, dunks and circus shots that suggested something was severely different about this particular player. Couple that with an aggressive marketing campaign by (among several others) Nike, Gatorade and the NBA itself that reinforced the notion that Michael was a perfect human being both on and off the court. A family man with three kids, married to beautiful (if not model beautiful) woman and kept a fairly low profile in terms of extra-curricular activities.

That's why, in 1992, when The Jordan Rules came out it made so much of an impact. Here was a book that had Michael gambling, throwing tantrums, bitch slapping team-mates and generally showing him to be every bit of the prick it takes in order to be called the greatest player of all-time. That, along with a reported gambling problem caused the agents and PR monkeys to go in to damage limitation overdrive and a subsequent period of quiet between 1993 and 1999. There was a time that i'd rather see Stephen Hawking waterboarded on PPV than listen to anyone bad-mouth Jordan. But people kept talking...

But what since then? As far as I can tell he has decided to fire all public relations advisors and simply enjoy his life. As much of a fuss as any negative story caused during his playing days, the media has let post-NBA Jordan away with everything. As a result (?) he is commonly percieved as an arrogant, difficult and egotistical person who has been summed up by many as simply "an asshole".

Even before the sweat had dried on his last professional game, the Wizards organisation unceremoniously fired him from the post of basketball operations manager and cut all ties. The greatest player to ever play the game. A guy who had played for the team for two seasons and could have been used to lift the team to new heights on just a promotional level if nothing else, was papped out the door. Even if he was terrible at his post (He notoriously brought Kwame Brown to the team via a number one draft pick), his value extends far beyond playing or managing.

Here's five examples of Jordan's post-retirement difficulties and that ego let loose:

 His infamous Hall of Fame speech in 2008 was as awkward as Josef Fritzl at a PTA meeting. He slated everyone that ever wronged him while aggressively reminding the world that he was the greatest player ever.  We know, buddy:

Like most of us, Michael spends his down time golfing, gambling and abusing medicore rappers. As unimportant a witness as Chamillionaire is, it still gives an rare insight into Jordan's temperment and the moment a fan came to the realisation this wasn't the guy he had idolised. Its also important to note that this guy looks like 50 Cent with Down Syndrome:

Fashion is a fickle bitch. Kids see Michael dunk with his tongue out and copy him when they play.
Michael sees Hitler murder 17 million people with a cute mustache and next thing you know everyone wants one.
Genocide: Hip
As an example of the media turning on a sports star, there's no better than the Tiger Woods debacle. I've no doubt that he's a grown man who makes his own bad decisions, but this didn't stop reports that MJ had led Woods astray.

"I told him, 'Stay away from that son of a bitch [Jordan], because he doesn't have anything to offer to the f- - -ing world in which he lives except playing basketball, which he did yesterday,' " lawyer John Merchant told Vanity Fair magazine.

More bad news as his alleged affairs led to the eventual break down in his marriage of 17 years. Juanita didn't so much take him to the cleaners as lead him down an alleyway behind the cleaners, where he was stripped, molested and mugged. £150 million later and she had completed what is the most expensive divorce in history.

Finally, Michael managed to make your forget about every accomplishment he's had on the basketball court with 30 of the most obnoxious seconds you will ever want to unsee. Running with the tagline "Look who we've got our Hanes on now", that gives the whole advert a distinct rapey tone, MJ goes about bullying the shit out of Kevin Bacon, who was my other idol growing up and the reason I got into overly campy, freestyle dance.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


 Not featuring Michael Jordan. Deal with it.

If you're anything like me, you were once the kingpin of a highly profitable Lativian prostitution racket and are also big fans of dunking.

I spent most of my early life cursing God for bestowing me with not only chicken legs, but also an overwhelming, crippling laziness. Faced with both of these obstacles, I couldn't even be bothered filling in the form to send away for Jumpsoles (tm).

Regardless, dunking is an enviable ability. Its also something spectacular enough to have transcended sports and filtered its way down to your gran. She may be trying to change the channel on the mirror but she is still familiar with the term, "slam-dunk".

So without further ado, here's my opinion of the best of all time. The All-Star dunk contest features a dream team of nobodies every year who are able to swing the ball about in attempt to illicit a response from the typically zombie crowd. Sure, they can jump, but the guys below have led thier respective generations by quite literally being freaks of nature.

First up and in no particular order:

1. Shawn Kemp

Before Shawn got traded by the Seattle Supersonics and discovered the bakery, this 6,11" forward looked like an extra from Avatar.

2. Dominque Wilkins

'The Human Highlight Film' was 6,8" and had springs for legs. He spent most of the 80's dunking on everyone (look out for one where he almost kills Larry Bird) before being traded to the Clippers and to his credit, not slipping into drink, drugs and self-mutilation.

3. Vince Carter

'Vinsanity' or at one point, the depressing, budget flight sounding, 'Air Canada'. When Carter arrived in the league with fresh legs and before anybody discovered his playoff disappearing act, he was beyond comparsion.

Thursday, 7 October 2010


When I leave for work in the morning, I can't help being startled by women.
Women wearing trousers, women in flat shoes, women sitting all the way down the front of the bus and even using my water fountain. Sometimes I overhear them throwing around their own opinions like they know what they're talking about. 

With all of this liberal nonsense beginning to spiral out of control, its great to know one organisation, FIBA, is setting back women's rights back forty years.

Smack me around for my back-chat, USA TODAY:

"Lower baskets, new uniforms and a new start date for the world championship were just a few ideas discussed at the first women's basketball summit.
"There were a lot of topics covered," said USA Basketball past president Val Ackerman, who helped spearhead the conference. "There was talk about lowering the rims. The notion is that no one in women's basketball has experimented in a serious way. It's something that might enhance the game, leading to dunking, fewer missed shots."
While lowering the baskets a few inches would be considered a radical idea, it's something that the members were willing to discuss. Such a monumental change in the game is still many years away from potentially being implemented.
"One of the conclusions was that we need to change the rules if we want to make the game a bit more attractive," said FIBA Secretary General and IOC member Patrick Baumann. "We have the smaller ball and now it's time to lower the rim. It will be tested."

It was also reported that several women stepped up to offer their advice and guidance on the proposal, but we're ultimately told "not to worry their pretty little heads". 

In all seriousness and having experience with the women's basketball set-up, I was under the impression that they were getting along just fine. Its true that the WNBA has lower attendances and coverage than the NBA, but mumble mumble something something (please offer your own explanations in the facebook comments section). Here's Sports Illustrated's take. 

Personally, my experience is that women's basketball is some of the best entertainment you can get within professional (or amateur) sports. I find that when watching the game, i'm consistenly surprised by the amount of abuse and violence involved. And not because they're women, but because they're human beings. Sure, dunking isn't commonplace, but that doesn't affect your enjoyment or indeed the overall quality of the play.

If you don't believe me, go along and see for yourself. 

Of course, lets cut to the chase here. The main difference between men and women's basketball is when they fight, ladies don't give a shit what they look like.

And you know things are out of hand when you've got BILL LAIMBEER trying to calm things down.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

THE BREAK-UP: A Summer of LeBron

If you don't mind, things are going to get a little less about dick jokes and dogs-in-superman costumes for a minute, so put on your big boy pants and we'll begin.

Game 6 of the 2010 NBA Playoff second round: As I sat watching the game live on ESPN with Lebron James racking up 27 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists and the seconds wile away, I was absolutely sure i'd just seen the world's (arguably) best player throw the game.
 Not just the game, but his legacy and status with the Cleveland Cavaliers organisation. Something didn't feel right. Yeah, he racked up a triple double, but at no point did I feel he wanted to go any further in the post-season. In fact, the entire team seemed to lack heart of any kind. At one point, with the season on the line, Anderson Varejao stopped the entire offense in the 4th quarter as he complained to the ref's about a tiny cut on his forehead. Lebron continued dribbling the ball, casually watching as the whole Boston defence looked on bemused. No-one, not the coach, bench or players on-court reacted to what was a pathetic issue when the entire years efforts were about to be pissed away. The game continued with James ripping rebounds violently and galloping up the court with seemingly evil intent, before slowing to a stop and passing up open shots. Every so often he would have a burst of points and assists, but stopping short of actually taking the lead. The game finished with no fight or desire, no attempt to foul and claw back respect. A couple of months later, it turned out I wasn't the only one with suspicions.

The buzzer sounded and the ball pitter pattered to a standstill.
James walked off the court to empty seats and boo's from what little crowd there was left. Of course, at this point Lebron had made no inclination that he was leaving the Cavaliers, a city who had harboured and worshipped him for seven years. Even his teammates knew nothing of his intentions.
A couple days later, rumours started to fly as it became apparent that the team fragmentation may have started with a 'Yo Momma' joke come to life, as team-mate Delonte West was widely known to be having a relationship with Lebron's mother. When I say 'widely known', this had until recently, been a circle that hadn't encompassed LeBron himself.

"...and me and your mother will get you on weekends..."
The summer quickly generated into a waiting game for the basketball world with what was the most memorable collection of free-agents in a long time. Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade and James among others were all out of contract and were being wooed by every team in the league with anything from hundreds of millions of dollars (Knicks) to paintings made of pasta shapes (Clippers). After several weeks, Chris Bosh announced his signing with the Miami Heat and friend, Wade.

 Like Christmas at Rhianna's house, Cleveland clenched as they closed thier eyes and braced for the hit. Despite being almost inevitable, there were still the few Cavs fans that had faith in the concept of loyalty and the foundation their number 23 had laid down. It was not to be.
Through the most ego-driven way possible, LeBron and ESPN combined to create an hour of excruciation. Dragging out what should have been a brief announcement within a press conference, The King and his management team turned their national hero status around in just one hour with what is infamously known as "The Decision".

An obnoxious and self-important special was exactly what Cleveland didn't need. They were clearly enamoured with the guy. At the very least, they should have had it broken to them gently over coffee. Put yourself in thier position. You hear your relationship is over via a nationally televised special and that they're leaving you for someone about 20 degrees hotter. Men, pffft.

"I fucking hate my job."

Well, you can imagine the response. Actually you can't. Unless you live in a country recently invaded by The Great Satan and burning effigies is just something you do on the weekend. Dumbfounded fans demonstrated the way they felt by doing this, this and then this. No one was more eliquent than the Cav's owner, Dan Gilbert who felt he needed to post an open letter to the people of his city about the situation and "personally guarantee that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win an NBA Championship before the self-titled former 'king' wins one."

I'm pretty sure at this point that the guys burning jerseys and getting arrested would have sobered up instantly and gained some perspective.

Once the initial shock had sunk in, people started wondering what this team were going to do with it's three superstars.Well, two. Chris Bosh (Below) is only famous for having the most ridiculous head to body ratio in the world.

 Would they gel? Would they buckle under the pressure?
 Time would tell. The guys that paved the way for James in Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan weighed in on the subject and largely disapproved of his change of surroundings, the former calling it a "punk move".

Personally, I could understand.
1. You swap Cleveland for Miami: Essentially moving from a city where the favourite local past time wasn't basketball, but clincal depression.
2. You get to play with your friends: As opposed to someone who is allegedly banging your mother.
3. You increase your chances of winning a championship by tenfold.

Hitchhiking: Hard work

So, whatever. Yeah, sure you showed no consideration to the people who treat you like a God. You should acknowledge you are pursuing something you want for selfish reasons and in this case, loyalty and integrity took a back seat.

Then came this interview last week that included this exchange:

Interviewer, referring to the months of backlash following "The Decision"): “Do you think there’s a role that race plays in this?”

James: “I think so at times. It’s always, you know, a race factor.”

This single retort suggests to me that this 6'8", 250 lbs of obscene talent has reached the point of no return.
They had a picture of him the size of a building. He has literally millions of fans that scream for him, praise him, express disbelief for his abilities. He's on the cover of newspapers and magazines in hundreds of languages across the world. Television beams replays of dunks, passes and blocks to audiences of billions more. Regardless, the interviewer opened LeBron up to an opportunity to redeem himself a little and acknowledge his actions while hopefully showing a glimmer of understanding for human nature.

It was not to be. He couldn't possibly be at fault here, so what else could it be?

But of course, this was never about race. It was about consideration.

The one element that no healthy realtionship will work without.