Saturday, February 27, 2010

My Stint As A Bartender/Bouncer

Probably shoulda seen this coming off gate, but what can you do. Anyway...

My first day I was working the door. The first few people that show up say something along the lines of "we're CJ's people." (CJ is the owner). I don't know 'em so I tell 'em they gotta either call CJ and have him come out to let them in, or pay the cover. That repeated several times, each time CJ came out and let them in for free. Then he sends me out to go pass out flyers, since we weren't getting enough people who were actually paying. Didn't really mind at the time, gave me a chance to leave.

So I get back, sit down, and two people come by. They don't want to pay the cover, show me the flyer (even tho I was told to take money from everyone, the flyer actually said 21+ no cover til midnight, it was 11:50) and I let them in. Maybe 30 seconds later, CJ walks out and says, almost verbatim:

"You see those guys? We don't want guys who dress like rappers. They probably have guns, and you put us all in danger."

This really caught me off guard, because it's not like it's some white dude who's never seen black people before; CJ is black, and so were all of his non-paying guests. Yes, these two individuals were wearing clothing that can be considered to be less than professional. However they're actually paying for drinks, unlike the rest of your patrons... but I digress (for now).

Anyway, at this point I thought he was yanking my chain. I asked CJ what am I supposed to do when people like that show up. He told me to turn them away on account of the dress code. Upon my asking him what the dress code was, he responded with, "just tell them it's up to your own discretion."

I know he just told me that people who are "dressed like rappers" are carrying guns, and they're dangerous. I know this because I was there. So now I'm supposed to turn these dangerous - and possibly violent - characters away on the grounds that I don't like how they're dressed? Who's safety is he looking out for, here?

As it would turn out, those two people stayed outside where I was and I had a chance to talk to them; and yes, they were "from another walk of life," if you will. They left and came back with three more people, all decked out in red and whatnot, and obviously I let them through which I'm sure didn't make me look good. But I did what I could

Wanna know the kicker? I DIDN'T GET PAID. Why? Because we didn't do enough business. I was told that if you work the door, you're GUARANTEED $50. This man has the nerve to - in his mind, seemingly - make me put my LIFE on the line to protect the image of his establishment (turning away PAYING CUSTOMERS in doing so), and even send me out to do HIS job (promotion), and then pay me nothing?

This place is literally off the map. I know plenty of people who spend damn near every night on Franklin St, and they had NEVER heard of this place. Yet somehow I'm instructed to turn money away? "Employees" get "paid" in cash at the end of each night. By the way.

In conclusion, fuck you CJ, I hope you get jacked by a rapper. That is all.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Gilbert Arenas Returning to DC

So Ernie Grunfeld is saying that the team will NOT void Gilbert Arenas' contract, and he will be back in uniform next year. Seeing as how I've not only come to grips with his seemingly inevitable departure but began to look forward to the possibilities that this extra money affords us, I'm very confused about what to think about all of this. On one hand, Gil is my guy. That won't change. But on the other, he's owed nearly $18 million next year. Having that money available to us for this, of all offseasons, would be HUGE. So how am I supposed to feel?

Without Gilbert's contract we could make a HUGE splash in free agency. There are quite a few players who will be available, as everyone knows, and DC will be an attractive situation to anyone. With a few quality young players (Blatche, McGee, Thornton), a possible top 5 draft pick (plus Cleveland's first rounder), Ted Leonsis' wallet, and the opportunity to live in DC, it's tough to really argue against signing with the Bullets.

So what could the team do with all that money? Well for starters, throw it at two of LeBron, Wade and Bosh (we would have the money to do so). Or sign one, and make offers to the likes of Joe Johnson, Rudy Gay, David Lee, and fill out the roster a little more nicely with the extra money (hopefully would include resigning Mike Miller). Or even just go after one of Johnson, Gay or Lee and do more than just fill out a roster; put a solid team together.

Of course, there are issues with those plans of action. In the last one, we'd have a very mediocre roster, and would have to hit it big in the draft. And as for the plans of going after the three really marquee guys, if they choose other teams, we'd miss out on the 2nd tier of players, and be in a really tight bind. In all likelihood the team would overpay for someone like Manu Ginobili. Amare if we're lucky. And God forbid... Carlos Boozer. Basically, it could very easily turn into a NIGHTMARE situation.

In keeping Gil, the team still has money to spend. We could still afford to sign one max player, and adding LeBron would obviously be a real coup. Bosh too, tho I have my reservations, as I mentioned earlier. I wouldn't turn Wade away, but we wouldn't offer him a deal; him and Arenas would not fit together, unfortunately.

In actuality, there's very little chance of any of these guys choosing DC as their destination. As I said, Wade just won't fit, and I'd put him at a 10% chance he leaves Miami anyway (with only Chicago being the other possible destination). The 90% represents the likelihood that Wade stays because Pat Riley returns to the bench. LeBron is a good 70-30 going to NYC vs staying in Cleveland. Bosh is the only one who we'd have a shot at, and that's only because his situation is a little more up in the air.

So with the fact that Bosh is the only possible signing in mind, and knowing Bosh isn't gonna leave Toronto for anything but a good roster, we'll probably have the best shot at landing him with Arenas remaining on the roster.

In all likelihood we aren't landing any of those guys, with or without Arenas. And keep in mind, GILBERT ARENAS IS STILL A VERY GOOD PLAYER. He is probably the BEST player available to the team, unless you give Joe Johnson that title. And there are moves to be made on the FA market. Among the names,:
-Joe Johnson, who I mentioned, would be the most ideal fit of all the marquee names (outside of LeBron)
-Rudy Gay is young, from the area, and obviously talented. Not a great fit with Arenas and probably will be overvalued.
-David Lee is a 20-10 machine, but will most likely be a Knick with LeBron.
-Mike Miller isn't a name people will think of, but I've seen a player who looks like the jack-of-all-trades EVERY championship team has. Good fit with Arenas.
-Amare Stoudemire is the other obvious name to keep in mind. He visited DC last offseason and expressed interest in living and playing in the city. Not the best fit, but too talented to turn away. Similar to Rudy Gay, will come at a higher than deserved price.
-Carlos Boozer is a name that I have to mention, but if I can bear it I will renounce my fanhood of the Bullets if they sign Boozer.

Those are the big names available. As I said, I'd love to have Joe Johnson, and if we could somehow make him AND David Lee or Amare work, with Mike Miller too? Sublime.

(I'll do something on where I think all the FAs go as it gets closer to an appropriate time.)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

NBA All Star Break

First I'll go with who I feel should be the All Stars. I know basically who the names are, but I haven't even looked at the rosters.

Eastern Conference
Rajon Rondo
Dwyane Wade
LeBron James
Chris Bosh
Dwight Howard

No question about these five, these were the five most spectacular players in the East. Rondo's contribution to that Celtics team is undeniable; he's the reason that team has stayed afloat through all their injures. The rest are pretty self-explanatory.

Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Jamal Crawford, Gerald Wallace, Derrick Rose, David Lee, Brandon Jennings

All three of the Hawks are deserving. Johnson is their Guy, Josh Smith might actually be their best player, and Crawford is their spark; plus he's always in for crunch time (and comes up big). Gerald Wallace is obvious, and Derrick Rose should be too (Derrick Rose...oh man...BEAST). David Lee is playing too well not to make it. The fact that it took injury for him to be invited is a joke. I couldn't really decide on a 12th man, so I took Jennings, mostly because nobody else stood out and he's ideal for All Star games, as he's proven. I thought about Stephen Jackson too, who has been huge for Charlotte.

Western Conference
Steve Nash
Kobe Bryant
Kevin Durant
Dirk Nowitzki
Tim Duncan

These are pretty clear to me too. All five are legit MVP candidates.

Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams, Brandon Roy, Monta Ellis, Zach Randolph, Tyreke Evans, Russell Westbrook

These will be a little more controversial. For one thing, keep in mind that a small part of my reasoning is based on the fact that this IS an All Star game. But these really are the best players in the conference. Melo is another MVP candidate; would be in the top 3 if it weren't for injury...The Jazz are smoking hot right now, and D-Will is the reason why...Roy is still under-appreciated... Ellis is putting up numbers that are impossible for me to ignore; if he gets moved, some contender is gonna get a great player...Randolph is one of three players averaging 20 and 10 (Bosh and Lee being the others), and is one of the main reasons why Memphis has an outside shot at making the playoffs...Evans is an absolute STUD. Watch him play, his game is so impressive...Westbrook was a tough decision, but again, not many other players stood out. Amare and Pau Gasol were both considerations, but Gasol missed too many games and as big a fan of his as I am, Amare just isn't spectacular enough. Westbrook, meanwhile, IS spectacular.

Also, I kept Chris Paul off the list because of health (he's missed games and he's hurt now).

MVP Race
Right now, my candidates are: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Steve Nash. In that order. Thing is, due to a few factors, these four are somewhat interchangeable. I have LeBron at the top because he provides everything for the Cavs, and when someone's hurt (as has been the case with much of his supporting cast), he more than makes up for whatever is lost. It's hard to deny LeBron at the top spot, since his impact on the game overall is so immeasurable...Meanwhile Kobe has been Kobe. As unstoppable as he's ever been, he's the undisputed Man on the 2nd best team in the league. Contrary to what Kobe haters would've prognosticated, the Lakers didn't miss a beat when Pau Gasol was out with an injury. And in related news, and as I've stated previously, Kobe is UNSTOPPABLE in the post...After a down year last year (thanks to Shaq), Nash is back averaging 18 and 11 assists. As always, he's the engine that makes that offense go...But Kevin Durant. This kid is a terror on the court, and he has Oklahoma City, of all teams, firmly in the playoffs (as of today). Just watch him play. If you don't think he's destined for a legendary career, I'll buy you a cyanide soda.

Trade Deadline
I'm gonna play GM for a couple teams who I feel should make deals. I wish I could've made the decisions for the Wizards, but hey, what can you do.

Kings get: Ray Allen
Celtics get: Kevin Martin and Kenny Thomas or Andres Nocioni
The Kings would obviously rather get rid of Nocioni and his contract, but it's clear that Kevin Martin and Tyreke Evans just don't mesh well, and there's no sense in trying to make them fit. The Celtics get youth at the SG position, and a great shooter to fill Allen's role.

Cavs get: Amare Stoudemire
Suns get: JJ Hickson, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Cavs need to do SOMETHING. Make DAMN SURE LeBron doesn't leave. Because if he does, it'll be the worst thing to ever happen to a franchise. I mean, how do you come back from losing someone like LEBRON JAMES?? Essentially swapping Amare for Hickson (as Z would likely be bought out and return to Cleveland), it's only an upgrade. Amare and LeBron would be a scary combo playing together. Meanwhile, the Suns get Hickson who is a good prospect.


Cavs get: Antawn Jamison
Wizards get: JJ Hickson, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Makes perfect sense for both teams when you think about it. Jamison, while a great guy and still a good player, is on the wrong side of the hill. Hickson is a good prospect, and Z's money will be off the books at season's close, at the latest. The Cavs get a PF who can rebound and score, while spreading the floor.

As of now I'd say it's the Lakers' championship to lose. If LeBron wins the title then he's the best in the league, no question about it. But there's no way to project what happens until all the trading is finished.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The 'N-Word'

OK. I've had quite a few discussions on this topic since moving in to my house in North Carolina. And I have my own firm beliefs on some aspects of this topic, and am still unsure about others. What follows is the collection of my thoughts, along with the opinions of a few others.

Overall Significance of the 'N-Word'

My understanding is that it's an undeniable fact that the power that the word has has greatly diminished over the years. I don't think anybody can argue that. My belief is the rise of African Americans in the media (music and movies specifically) at the very least had a significant impact on this happening. When everyone hears the the word on screen, and especially in lyrics, they will inevitably become desensitized to the word's significance. I am NOT blaming African Americans for this necessarily (and I'm sure this is a loaded topic in its own right), I'm just pointing it out.

Now here's the question I have: is it a GOOD thing that we've been desensitized? The answer that I always land on is no, because people are still not properly educated on the history of the word. But at the same time, it creates a divide between Whites and Blacks. The goal should be knocking down barriers between people, right? I mean, regardless to what theories/ideals/religions, or whatever you subscribe to, we are all God's Children in the obvious sense that we're all human. Education is what is needed to break down the barriers, but it's still important to note how divisive the word is.

(Another take on the word: "If we as a people are using it and want to use the excuse of 'us saying it takes away the negative energy,' then we have to stop tripping when someone non-black uses it. Either stand with the word being OK or of the two...don't be halfway with it. Personally I don't have a real problem with it. The scars of the past are that...we, as a people, can't lean on that anymore." - Lyriciss)

Whether you buy the media effects theory or not, the fact does remain that the word HAS lost its significance, as evidenced by John Mayer's recent comments in Playboy. The REAL problem is that the idea of racism itself has lost its significance, as evidenced by the massive outcry against this Mayer story. Don't get me wrong, people need to watch their mouths - regardless of intent - especially when they're in the public eye. But come on. The fact that there's such a loud response to a celebrity using the word in jest while there are REAL racial issues (drug war/prison system) in this country that go completely unnoticed by the general public is not only deplorable, but extremely disheartening. It's the same issue I have with most of these people who think so highly of themselves when they donate $20 to a cause and do nothing more than sit back and feel good about their impact on society. NOT ONLY ARE YOU NOT DOING ANYTHING POSITIVE, BUT YOU'RE CONDITIONING YOURSELVES TO IGNORE THE SERIOUS PROBLEMS. But once again, this is another topic that could go on for days, and one that I am not dealing with right now.

Use of the 'N-Word' by White People

First, I'll say no White person should ever say the word around a Black person. Period. My reasoning for this, however, might be a little unconventional. I feel like it's simply disrespectful to use it in the presence of Black people, because the vast majority of people simply don't understand the history of the word, and therefore have no right to use it.

But if you know me, you know I like to make a lot of overtly explicit jokes. I turn everything into humor - it's just what I have done over the years - and nothing is off limits. And yes, in the midst of some of those jokes, I have been known to drop an n-bomb here and there. (Before you get too upset, I'm just as quick to make a Jew-in-the-oven joke). But above all else, I KNOW who my audience is; I understand the gravity of using the word around Black people and thus, NEVER use it around them. It makes me extremely uncomfortable anyway. In similar fashion, I'll withhold Jew jokes around other Jews, knowing how uncomfortable/insulting they can be (for those of you who don't know and haven't figured it out by now, I am indeed Jewish). I'm not going to take shots at someone unless I know that they would know I'm not being hateful, and that they'd laugh. I NEVER make those jokes in public.

(I'd like some feedback on this too. Is this OK? Wrong? Help me out.)

I won't pretend that I know what it's like to actually deal with the African-American struggle; but I am very skilled at putting myself in other people's shoes, and I have been blessed to have encountered many people from many walks of life throughout my life. And most importantly, I take the time to try understand other cultures, for the simple reason that I stated earlier; barriers must be broken. The word wouldn't be such a sore subject if everyone made an effort to increase their own understanding of its significance.

Use of the 'N-Word' by other Minority Races

This is by far the most perplexing aspect of the word. What gives Hispanics a pass? ASIANS? The fact that THIS is allowed to happen vexes me greatly. I don't really have much else to say on this. Again, it just doesn't make any sense to me.

N---a vs N---er

This was brought to my attention a few months back. At first it sounded completely ludicrous, but I see the reasoning behind it now. The thing is, as I now think about the full spectrum, the fact that this argument exists seems almost like a microcosm of racism in America today.

First, the legitimacy of the argument. Language is a constantly evolving entity. Words take on new meanings every day. ESPECIALLY with the recent boom in communications technology (cell phones/texting, Facebook/Twitter, everything in between). I'm quite certain that the odds of someone who lived during the Civil Rights Movement taking offense to anyone using the word is very high, because in their time any form of n---er was derogatory. But those odds drop severely the younger the person you're dealing with, because as time has gone on n---a has become a term of endearment among the Black community (and others, for whatever reason...).

Now, that's fine and dandy, but that disconnect is in large part what's responsible for the form racism takes today, because it perpetuates ignorance. A lot of people are of the opinion that racism doesn't exist anymore, because we don't see Jim Crow laws, or anything of that ilk. That mindset conditions one to overlook the true racism that exists today. So for me, I feel that there's no difference between the two, and if anything, n---a is almost WORSE, simply because it makes people comfortable with something that they shouldn't be comfortable with.

N---er/N---a vs B--ch

To be honest I can't really begin to address this, because while I pride myself in my ability to put myself in other people's shoes, they're generally sneakers and not high heels (Matter of fact, that was pretty sexist in its own right, no?). What I WILL say is, women are still second class citizens. And talk about desensitization; while Black people have very little influence on what gets put out in the media, I feel women have even less influence. I know for a fact that there are a lot of things I do that are probably sexist, to varying degrees. And they go completely unnoticed unless I'm looking for it. Because of this, I just don't know how much of an issue it is. But I'd love feedback on this as well.

Well, that's what I got to say on the subject. As I pointed out I'd LOVE any feedback you may have on this. Did I miss anything? Misrepresent anything? Hit the nail on the head? Offend anyone? Please let me know.

I'll leave you with Nas' 'Be A N---er Too'

***Special thanks to Clif Soulo, Michael Wright, and Lyriciss for their input, as well as Modi of DCtoBC fame (and soon enough The Gee Pee), who wrote the referenced John Mayer article.***

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kobe vs LeBron

Kobe. LeBron. Kobe. LeBron. This is THE debate in basketball - and maybe even in all of sports - right now. I only have to point to my own struggle in this issue to prove it. Look at the first blog post I ever wrote declaring myself as a "Witness," and essentially crowning LeBron as the king. I HATED Kobe with a passion; he was selfish, in every sense of the term. But more than that, he was lost in his own perception of himself (more on this later).

However after a year in which I followed basketball more religiously - and more studiously - than ever, I came around to Kobe's corner. Half of that was becoming more aware of LeBron's flaws, the other half being a major transformation on Kobe's part. He became the Jordan of that Lakers championship team.

***A lot of people say that Lakers team was a lot more talented than Jordan's Bulls... people obviously don't remember how good Scottie Pippen was (led the Bulls to the playoffs w/o Jordan). And I KNOW people don't remember how good Dennis Rodman was (best rebounder and defender since Russell). Kobe won that title with the softest supporting cast in the history of the NBA Finals. I dare you to prove that statement wrong.***

But I'm not writing this to argue Kobe over LeBron. Furthermore, I'm currently of the opinion that they're such different players that they can't be compared in that way. Ultimately, those two are THE CLASS OF THE NBA. What I'm going to present is my feelings on the public perceptions of both players, and when talking about one do my best to disregard the other.

LeBron James
As of now, LeBron James is the pinnacle of human physical evolution (as far as I know). Never has there been an athlete blessed with the physical tools to be successful in his sport like LBJ. The numbers he's putting up are absurd, and they're only going up. He is the true definition of a phenom.

Phenom. LeBron James is synonymous with the word. I first heard of him being referred to the next great thing when he was a sophmore; while I do keep up with high school prospects I don't think anyone before or since has been lauded so highly and at such a young age. Since he was FIFTEEN he had people in his ear telling him he would be the best player in the world.

Thing was, he made it impossible for anyone to overstate his abilities on the court, because he ALWAYS met and exceeded expectations. Never have I witnessed (pardon the pun) someone with such extraordinary talent continually live up to the hype that James and his supporters built for him. I can't state that enough. Watching his meteoric rise is something I will cherish not only as a basketball fan, but simply as a human being, forever. I know how fantastical that statement sounds, but again, think about how unique his career has been. There's very little standing in the way of him being considered the best player of all time when all is said and done.

Now, think back to when you were 15 years old (probably closer to 13-14 in actuality). Remember how impressionable you were? And you were only dealing with parents, teachers, and whatever else may have been influencing you. This kid was on Sports Illustrated in 2002 as a 17 year old junior, dubbed as 'THE CHOSEN ONE'.... We're supposed to expect the coaches, media, fans and everyone in between to not inundate him with the highest of praise? We're supposed to expect him to grow up and mature without any sense of entitlement, in spite of that?

Simply put: No.

That's why we have the biggest beneficiary of star-treatment - and the biggest crybaby - in all of sports. It's really a shame, because if he wasn't handed everything at every turn, he'd be MUCH better off for it. Look back at his first couple years in the league. Not only did he too often pass up a shot in the closing seconds, but when he did take it he was visibly scared.

Compare LeBron to Carmelo Anthony (who are similarly aged and both products of that '03 draft class) in the early stages of their careers. Anthony was highly touted coming out of Syracuse, but in nowhere near the same capacity as 'Bron - and had off-the-court issues that drove many people away from him. While LeBron was passing on final shots, Melo relished the opportunity to win games with that final shot. (One of my favorite sneaker commercials of the last few years). I actually felt 'Melo deserved to win Rookie of the Year, but true to form, The Chosen One was selected yet again...water under the bridge though.

LeBron is still in his adolescence as a player, which is part of why the opportunity we have to watch him grow is so special. But while this coddling has unquestionably retarded his growth, it hasn't necessarily set his ceiling any lower. It'll just take him longer to reach it than it would've 10-15 years ago. And unfortunately for the fans, that's probably a good thing. Today's NBA is soft, and the majority of players (and fans...) who've entered the league post-lockout couldn't handle the type of player who existed before Y2K. Speaking of that type of player...

Kobe Bryant
I will freely admit, I hated Kobe. He had an absolutely deplorable behavior; I am all for having a competitive nature, but at a certain point you need to take a look in the mirror. Thing was, as most of you should know, Kobe didn't have a traditional upbringing. At six his father signed with an Italian team, and the family moved with him. They moved back to the US in 1991, and Kobe went on to tear his high school competition apart.

Now, again, I'll try to put you in Kobe's shoes (at least as far as I'm able). Being an American kid in Italy, he was certainly an outsider. Then coming back to the States for high school from Italy, you can bet that again, he was an outsider. Obviously he was the center of attention, being the best prep player in the country. But an outsider nonetheless. Living a life like this is going to make you develop a MAJOR chip on your shoulder.

On the flip side of this, he had every reason to be confident in his abilities, so he carried himself like an heir-apparent should (start the video at 2:25). So when these two personalities come together in the same person, you're gonna have problems, as he did.

Now, whether you agree with all that or not, the fact remains that for a while he was an awful teammate. There's no denying the truth that, above all else, Kobe valued winning. He worked tirelessly, making himself the best player he could possibly be. He had an inhuman, Jordan-esque hunger to be the best that he could be, so he could lead his team to victories and ultimately championships. He studied the game from a very young age - thanks to his dad - and picked up little nuances because of it (as evidenced by the savvy that he's displayed for his entire career). He truly did everything he could to make himself the best player he possibly could.

But he kept to himself. Again, take my analysis for whatever you'd like, but if you believe that being a great athlete correlates with having a captivating and outgoing personality you're delusional. And growing up as an outsider will condition you to be a reserved individual. In turn, you're people skills will suffer, which will inevitably make it that much more difficult for you to connect with teammates. Kobe obviously didn't mesh with his teammates. Not only is that fact, it's a big understatement.

The entire weight of that blame can't go on Kobe's immaturity, however. As I somewhat alluded to earlier, Kobe is an old school player; gritty and tenacious on both ends of the court, and INTENSE on and off it. Too bad neither of those first two words even exist in the vocabulary of post-lockout NBA. That played (and still plays) a major role in why he doesn't get along with teammates - and is painted as a bad teammate. People just aren't expecting it anymore, and will naturally become flustered when a personality like Kobe's comes along.

The boom in media coverage (thanks to blogs, YouTube, etc.) also exposes us to a lot more of Kobe than would've been available in previous eras. We're presented with to far too much FILTERED INFORMATION about what happens outside of games (until you can pick up fantasy points for it, we DO NOT pay players to practice). So forget demanding one of your teammates be traded, can you imagine what would happen if Kobe punched Derek Fisher in the face?

(By the way, if anyone reading this remembers when Jordan punched Kerr, can you enlighten me on how this was received in the media, I'd greatly appreciate it.)

In summation, I wish the NBA would go back to where it was when defense was actually allowed. Both of these players would be much better off in that league; as opposed to today's confused version of basketball, where defense STILL wins championships yet what owners have decided filling seats comes from scoring 120 points per game. Kobe would be in his element, and LeBron would be miles ahead of where he is now (a thought both wondrous and terrifying). Some people say that you can't develop a killer instinct, and while I generally subscribe to this theory, for all intensive purposes LeBron James is retarded. I'm still certain that he'll become one of the all-time great assassins. As I said, nobody has ever been blessed with the tools that LeBron has. He just needs to remember that he's an unstoppable freight train going to the basket and to STOP FALLING IN LOVE WITH HIS WILDLY INCONSISTENT (albeit improving) JUMPSHOT. He doesn't have to do what Jordan did - and now what Kobe's doing - and become more perimeter oriented to extend his career because he's a physical marvel, and still only 25.

***Actually, while I'm on the subject, LeBron needs to be himself. Stop copying other people's styles, because he is a truly unique player. Less of this and more of this. And seriously, BRING BACK THE LEBRONS! END THE PUPPET MADNESS IMMEDIATELY!***

P.S. Watching Kobe's game evolve over the last three years has been a thing of beauty. He doesn't attack the basket like he used to, instead taking a page out of Jordan's book with the goal of maintaining his physical health for as long as possible (who cares if he only has eight fingers ha). Nobody can create a shot for themselves without going anywhere like Kobe does. And I have never seen a post game like his, which is the most recent development. He's virtually unstoppable when he gets post positioning. We are witnessing the best Kobe Bryant there's ever been, and for those of you who don't remember what it was like to see Jordan play, this is as close as you're ever gonna get. And it's damn close, at that. His conditioning is on par with the likes of Jerry Rice, he's got quite a few years left. I hope.

P.P.S. Kevin Durant is the TRUTH. He's another truly unique player that will have his name among the all time greats when it's all said and done. FACT. He has that 'IT' factor RIGHT NOW. And he's only 21. The only thing in his way of being the all time scoring leader is injury ha (and me jinxing him of course). 30 points per game already? What on earth??? I just hope he grows into his body, 'cause I don't see how he can actually stay healthy being as lanky as he is.