Winning and Misery: A Love Story

LaBron

What’s most interesting about LBJ going to the Lakers is that it simply feels like another vacation for the dude. He went to Miami for four years and then came home to Cleveland. Now he’s going to the other coast for another four years, and is there any doubt he resigns with the Cavaliers to finish out his career? Unless, that is, James plans on playing as long as Tom Brady- who plans on playing until he’s forty five . . . or until someone discovers that he is, in fact, a cyborg. Whichever comes first.

Personally, I’m thankful James didn’t drag “Decision 3” out . . because the World Cup is way more interesting news, even if most sports media here in the states ain’t shutting off the LBJ spigot till it runs dry. So we’ll get more devotionals to the King and more questions as to who might come join his posse. And make no mistake, he ain’t beating the Warriors unless he gets him some deputies . . not even close.

Hopefully all that baller business happens sooner than later, because I want me some open highway for the beautiful game of futbol. Unlike the NBA off-season gossip pages that James books passage on every four years, soccer’s four year itch is actually filled with live action; and if you ain’t been paying attention to this particular World Cup, I am sorry.

I ain’t throwing shade at us state side simpletons for possessing a drive-thru attention span when it comes to sports. After all, we are what we eat. And most sports outlets behave like hired lemmings in that they follow one story after the next over the cliff, regardless of its verity or relevance.

I hope LaBron 2K works if only because I still root for Magic Johnson, even now. And because the Lakers haven’t been likable since forever. And because I believes James paid his debt in full to Cleveland when he brought them a title. Let’s please not inject ‘loyalty’ into this when it comes to a free agent athlete choosing his work place. Owners and front office peeps don’t make bank based on being loyal, and neither should the players.

I can see the way James is playing this thing. He figures his great white whale- the Warriors- stands in the way of his title legacy either way; so by moving into their conference, he doesn’t have to worry about losing to them in the finals again. Plus, his presence puts LA in ‘win now’ mode, which means that Magic will do everything in his power to get his new stud a second, and maybe even third star. If that happens, LBJ doesn’t believe Boston, or any other team in the East, can beat him so long as he gets past Golden State.

This is a Michael Corleone move for James. He’s moving the family out West while he still has the clout whilst looking at laying down a monolithic paradigm for next gen superstars. James has always been a vocal presence and a civic minded individual, so what better spot to lay down his ascension to future NBA owner than in the land where power brokers play?

In the present, all James has to do is resurrect some agreeable facsimile of the Showtime Lakers- a team that was born inside my favorite decade- the ’80’s. Unless of course he gets his sidekicks. Because in that case . . expectations go bling.

Showtime Lakers

The Showtime Lakers were Magic and Kareem, James Worthy and Byron Scott and lemme put it this way: If Cirque du Soleil was a basketball team? They would’ve been the Showtime Lakers. And while I patterned my set shot after Worthy, he wasn’t the reason I slicked back my hair. Pat Riley was the coolest cat in the room and I fell in love with the way he coached up a starting five. Riles was style and substance. With his Armani suits and slicked back hair, he was the living breathing embodiment of a Hollywood ad campaign.

And those Lakers teams led by Riley are the reason I fell in love with the Association in the first place. They were a mythological advancement for a league they had helped save- along with the Boston Celtics- years earlier. Pat Riley put it best when he said it was an all or nothing proposition when you play for a star laden Lakers club. “There’s winning and there’s misery,”. All or nothing. Hang a title banner or get out of town. I’m thinking if Riley were to offer any advice to LeBron in the event he builds an LA ‘superteam’, it would be short and sweet.

You better fucking win it.

Living Monday like a rock concert

Why does Monday feel like an accident? It’s like we’re cruising down the interstate inside a couple days supplied to us by Don Henley and the next thing we know, a day comes out of nowhere to sideswipes our asses. And the worst part is, our insurance won’t cover the damage since the day really didn’t come out of nowhere. We saw it coming for days, in fact.

Mondays roll like that. They’re used to being the punchlines divvied up by their more fortunate calendar compatriots. Tuesday gets off on knowing at least it’s not Monday. Wednesday is the hump day darling . . Thursday is the Eve of Friday, whose proper is disco lemonade to our senses. Saturday is so dang popular that Chicago wrote an anthem for it, and Sunday is where all the other days come to chill. All the other days excepting for Monday, which ain’t fetching an invite on account of all the mellow it harshes, just by being in the room.

And so this Monday finds the Dubs as the baller kings who just sent LBJ off in search of a funky town where he can reclaim his crown. And I want it to be Miami . . with KD and Kawhi. Because Mondays can be for dreaming too.

Monday is Trump in Singapore, in an historic meeting with the dude from that Seth Rogen movie. And like . . . what’s the worst that could happen?

And speaking on Monday . . are we like . . at war with Canada yet? Because I’m not sure whether Trump and Trudeau hate each other or whether they are very much in love. . .

Monday is figuring out why Anthony Bourdain is gone much too soon, and knowing that we’re never gonna figure it out. Because he took all those thoughts and voices that never quit his brain, with him. We were thieved a genuine voice and immense talent. And it happens every day, to names not famous. And sometimes? We just need to be thankful for the time we have.

Monday is being knee deep in a baseball season whose news is going to be stolen away in snippets from now until October. Like with Nadal winning France again and Bob Baffert cementing his status as best trainer ever with Justify’s triple crown win . . and the World Cup coming strong.

Monday is wondering why we need another Jurassic movie, and its realizing because Jeff Goldblum is as good a reason as any.

Monday is letting go of what’s not coming back and taking hold of what’s ahead. It’s making the best of things. It’s putting a face to the name of the moments that are waiting for us. It’s kicking ass, taking names and it’s living as if Monday isn’t Monday at all.

Monday is taking me back to the summer of 1984. Back when I thought Orwell a putz when it came to predictions. Must’ve been the mood.

 

Dear Sports: I’m Just Not That Into You

When did sports become so unlikable?

It used to be that sports was a respite from the everyday; a temporary form of escapism that was fun and legal. It was a snow globe fascination whose import was clear as life and death but whose suspension of disbelief allowed us to dream like children. It was a gloriously forgiving province where loss was temporary, victory was forever and next year was a sweet promise.

Being a sports fan these days is like being stuck in a marriage that went too long.

Major League baseball used to feel like summer. A day at the ballpark was like a picnic on steroids (pun intended). Now, the early and late season games feel like Stalingrad, and they last just as long. Home runs are no longer celebrated, they’re investigated. I’m just thankful the emphasis on analytics wasn’t around back in the day or it would’ve killed those moments supplied by Bucky Dent, Bill Mazeroski and Kirk Gibson.

The NBA has become a three point shooting contest that feels like a two and a half hour commercial for licensed product. Defense is optional and humility a foreign word. There’s no Jordan-like presence to provide stability and a rooting interest for Association fans. We know LeBron is the greatest player of his time because his Instagram page says so. And Kevin Durant went from darling to dickhead faster than a WWE wrestler.

I feel sorry for the NHL, because they seem to be doing things the right way. But truth be told, it doesn’t feel like hockey when Canada has gone twenty four years without a Cup and we have clubs in Tampa, Nashville, Anaheim and Las Fucking Vegas.

And that brings me to the NFL, whose wild popularity says more about us than it does about them. Love of this sport feels increasingly narcissistic, as the actual games seem to have taken a back seat to gambling, fantasy league and social commentary.

The new normal for keeping score includes police logs, contract disputes and TMZ-like reports detailing every aspect of the players’ personal lives. None of which feels like escapism, in the least bit.

Ask the casual fan about pro football and their response will probably have something to do with the anthem protests. And is there a better example of much ado about nothing than those protests? Colin Kaepernick became the face of a movement to which he never quite understood the gravitas. His gesture- to kneel during the national anthem in protest of the inequities of a country that purports to be all about equality and fairness- was a righteous one. Kaepernick meant well, and he did donate over a million dollars out of his own pocket to various causes in the aftermath. But his message was mitigated by failed optics that made him look as if he was more interested in symbolism than substantial change.

On the other side of all that, the irony is that he was right on about the double standards that exist in our power structure. Because he and several of his peers who kneeled with him are still looking for work; in a league that has been filling roster spots with lesser talent in a transparent blackballing effort.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers (Kaepernick’s former team) are holding serve on whether or not to cut linebacker Reuben Foster. They’re going to let the courts play out first as Foster faces two felony domestic violence counts and a felony weapons charge for possession of an assault weapon. Basically, Foster beat the shit out of a woman but his team won’t cut bait just yet because he can help them win.

How many fans are going to ‘quit’ watching games over the Foster story, the way they vowed to quit when Kaep took a knee? And why isn’t President Trump railing on about how the NFL will employ dog killers and men who batter women . . just as long as they don’t kneel.

Sports used to live somewhere else, far from the worries and troubles of our every day lives. Nowadays, it’s like a pain in the ass neighbor who throws a party and trashes our property. And while I still dig the games, I find myself increasingly detached from the box scores and standings I used to know by heart.

If this truly was a marriage, I’d file for divorce.

My Top 5 (Anti)Heroes of the Week

Antihero Symbol

Since we’re knee deep in the January blahs, I wasn’t feeling the positive vibes necessary to pen a top 5 “Heroes”, so I just switched up the recipe for the sake of being contrary. It’s in keeping with the thirty one shades of gray that is the first month of the calendar, so there’s that. Sadly, it’s easier to find antiheroes in our day and age.

5-LeBron James- I could’ve nominated the entire Cleveland Cavaliers team, really. But since LBJ is supposed to be the leader, he gets the hit here. LBJ is playing his Hamlet act again in blaming everyone but himself for the fact his club can’t buy a win. He blames Kevin Love (his favorite punching bag), he blames Coach Lue, I think he even blames Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. And then he went and did this . . .

Wanna be one of the first to Congratulate you on this accomplishment/achievement tonight that you’ll reach! Only a handful has reach/seen it too and while I know it’s never been a goal of yours from the beginning try(please try) to take a moment for yourself on how you’ve done it! The House you’re about to be apart of has only 6 seats in it(as of now) but 1 more will be added and you should be very proud and honored to be invited inside. There’s so many people to thank who has help this even become possible(so thank them all) and when u finally get your moment(alone) to yourself smile, look up to the higher skies and say THANK YOU! So with that said, Congrats again Young King.

That there is the text of LBJ’s self congratulatory Instagram spill on reaching 30,000 career points. “The Disease of Me” always comes before the fall, and this biblical/basketball phrase perfectly encapsulates what is happening in Cleveland. Where have you gone, Michael Jordan?

4- Big Time News Outlets Behaving like Yahoo!(s)- This means you USA Today and Chicago Sun Times and Huffington Post! These national behemoths played the click bait game with readers as per CNN anchor Jake Tapper saying the Patriots were “a cheating team”. Tapper happens to be a huge Eagles fan who was simply stepping out of his suit and into a jersey and behaving like a fan. He was having fun, not breaking news. News outlets that should know better than to behave like Yahoo! . . didn’t.

Musical Intermezzo: I was reminded of this curiously delectable cover whilst watching The Assassination of Gianni Versace last night. I’m hooked on this season’s crime story anthology. Passionate, artful and heart-wrenching with good time tunes. What’s not to dig?

3- Democrats and Republicans “Trumping” each other- During the government shut down, both sides took to name calling as if they were bi-coastal rappers. They screamed ‘Anarchists’, they yelled ‘Overlords’ and they shouted ‘Arsonists’. And in perhaps my favorite dis of all, California Republican Devin Nunes took to calling his own peeps “lemmings in suicide vests,”. Listen, it’s bad enough we have a guy in the White House who takes great pride in trashing decorum. Where’s the adult supervision?

2- Hollywood and Its Mighty Minions- How comes it took bringing down a mogul like Harvey Weinstein for all these peeps to get loud? Call me cynical, but I can’t help wondering how many whispers and worse were floating around the halls of power and influence long before Weinstein was taken down. You mean to tell me nobody knew of anything happening to anyone anywhere until the biggest fish in the pond got fried? I can tell you from experience that sincere people don’t need to tell you they’re being sincere. That’s why sincerity is a posthumous curiosity. See, you can’t rail on about Trump’s lecherous behavior when making an awards show speech whilst playing look away for your friends and associates when nobody’s watching. You can’t damn one celebrities criminal behavior while ignoring another’s. Fairness is not simply a matter of propriety, it’s a matter of saving lives or ruining them. The celebrity world wants us to believe they are the ones fighting for humanity on the front lines. Excuse me if I’m dubious to those self indulgent claims.

1- Michigan State University, the USOC and USA Gymnastics- Where to fucking start? MSU is a public research institution, which means tax payers help to foot the bill. Asking for accountability doesn’t end with our elected representatives, it includes universities who ride on that dime as well. Olympic doctor Larry Nassar was able to perpetuate his evil over years and years, violating countless women while officials did nothing. When the now former President of the school, Lou Anna Simon, cites politics as being a part of the anger directed at this multi-tentacled scandal, it’s only further insult to injury. How dare she? How dare any of the people in authority, who knew, and did nothing to stop this monster.

As for the USOC and USA Gymnastics, this is what happens when we never mind corruption at the highest levels forever. The way we always did with the IOC when criminals such as Juan Antonio Samaranch prostituted the games in wink/wink deals worth billions. Corruption anywhere becomes corruption everywhere. 

Are we done pretending that Penn State was an outlier? That powerfully enabled tragedies such as this are reserved for bucolic campuses tucked into the mountains far away from the public eye? No, Penn State wasn’t the only big time school that was involved in a horrible scandal. And the worst part of all this?

It’s only a matter of time till the next one.