Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Heat Will Make You Do Crazy Things

***This piece comes with a disclaimer. I wrote this for submission to SLAM and was politley denied as the time wasn't right for a negativity piece. Luckily, I have another place to voice my ideas, so enjoy a Heat's fan perspective on Mr. Wade's place in the game.

Does anyone remember the summer of 2006? The Summer Of Love for Heat fans? The summer when 18 years of frustration disappeared quicker than a Klondike bar in Jerome James locker..... Yeah, I don’t either. That summer, Heat fans everywhere were overexcited in ways that only spastic school girls get while standing up and screaming along to “The Best Of Both Worlds” during a Hannah Montana concert. Idiotic ecstacy. I had it for a minute, but never really let it take over my mind. I was use to a decade’s worth of Chicago Bull titles and playoff runs as a former diehard Bulls fan to be phased by one improbable title run by an outclassed squad who in the words of basketball fans around the world and on SLAMOnline, told me that either Dwyane Wade was the “next” MJ/Kobe/Lebron type talent that was just starting his resume of greatness or on the flip side, so many others told me that “that title is bullsh*t” “Wade was given every call” etc, etc and that “D-Wade ain’t sh*t”. Yeah, man, you guys can be harsh. :)

Sometimes, it was hard to digest this toxic mix of hate and jealousy, but as you guys know, I love a good battle. So I went into last season thinking, “well, Dwyane, this is your time to show what you really can do. Prove the haters wrong. Show them it was no fluke.” Better yet, make me a believer, kid. Don’t let me and Cheryl be the only people in the SLAM universe who take your support seriously. Show these jokers who you are. Great idea, bad follow through. You guys know what happened to the Heat last year. You don’t? Ok, in brief, old team got older, injuries took games away, crap record kept Heat fans on pins and needles thinking they might not get a playoff spot, blah, blah, blah. Then it happened. The Injury. The one that hasn’t been lived down yet. The separated shoulder/crippling of a franchise/cripple being taken away in a wheelchair like Fred Sanford after one of his various “Big Ones”. I knew dude was in pain when I watched it happen. Seeing him wheeled away was just a tad much, you know. I hold dude’s to an extremely high standard in their play, approach to the game, what they do in terms of changing games and teams fortunes and how they deal with adversity. It was D-Wade’s first real injury issue and damn, he looked bad in his dealing with it. Sure he toughed it out, tried to make a late-season recovery and tried to will the Jurassic Park squad into position to be effective in the playoffs. Uhm........that didn’t happen. Those “Baby Bulls” didn’t seem so infantile and made the Heat seem....well you can’t be older than the universe, can you? So it was back to the lab, or at least I though it should have been that way.

I chose to write this as a way to show my displeasure with Dwyane’s current standing in the game and his descent (yeah, I said it) from the league’s Golden Boy to now one of the league’s most vilified player. The first two years of his career? Nice, balanced, coming to grips with his potential greatness. Breathing life into a stagnant franchise. Shaq helped him get a title in year three and he was now mentioned in the same breath of Lebron and Kobe for his talent, determination and perception of greatness. A funny thing happened along the way, though. Dwyane became a conglomerate. A T-Mobile salesman in Converse. The poster boy of the McDavid machine. Dwyane’s good natured humbleness seemed to be at the back door about to jump into the Escalade with Diddy’s driver and Diddy seemed to be coming through the front door with a chinchilla coat and a hidden pistol, ready to make Dwyane the alter image Diddy wished he could be if had basketball talent in the same context as the remix.
I started seeing “The Change” during the comeback return last season. I don’t know if it was Dwyane’s injuries that was fueling it or the fact that he became so used to the “friendly” call on his behalf, but Dwyane’s constant bitching to the refs became problematic to me as a fan. “Dude, shut the f*ck up and play the game” I would say (literally, out loud) while watching and I noticed the lack of killer instinct that had carved his niche the season before. By the time the playoffs rolled around, it had become as annoyingly commonplace as My Super Sweet 16 reruns, and I said to myself “Eboy, he’ll get it right over the summer. Once he’s healthy he’ll start wrecking sh*t again”. ................................... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Damn Eboy, I know you can be funny sometimes (not to everyone though, you guys know who you are) but damn son, old school Richard Pryor’s got nothing on you. “Wrecking sh*t? You do know that the Heat are currently the worst franchise in the history of modern professional sports, right??” Fu*k you, Eboy. I hate you, too. Alright, maybe I’m pushing it about the Heat as a whole, but Mr. Wade is catching feelings from me nightly. Yes, I’ve watched every abortion of a game this season. Yes, my allegiance to them is unwavering. Yes, I know that ridding ourselves of Shaq’s mass and massive contract is like the weight of a mountain that was ripped from the ground and landed squarely on my home that needed 10 years to dig out from. Yes, the Heat took on a good player to fill in the blanks. Good, not great as some of my fellow commentors like to call Maid Marion. The Heat are a work in progress, like a recovering addict. Time is needed to return to normalcy, some would claim, decency. Dwyane in my eyes is in that same vein. He needs to build from what he was before. A killer... a stealer of souls... a murderer with a million dollar smile. Sure he still has the talent and the GOD given ability to be “THAT” guy but as the song goes, “What Have You Done For Me Lately”.

I can only surmise that Dwyane has let the fame, the magazine covers, the tv ads, etc. get to his head and I can’t stand it. Yes the shoulder and knee surgery were a lot to gloss over and the rumored marital problems can be so hurtful to a person who spends his life in the limelight but still, at the end of the day, you get paid to ball. At the highest level. And you are expected to be great. Getting embarrassed by Kobe Bryant on your home floor, turning the ball over more often than I post comments, looking to the officials to save face each tame you make a mistake is not what you were about when you began your legacy. There was a doorway that you could have entered, Mr. Wade, reserved for legendary players if you just stayed the course (thanks George W., only thing that piece of sh.....oh forget it) but it seems that your ENTIRE head size is becoming equal to the width of your cheeks. I hate seeing it. I think other Heat fans (are there any left) see it too.

Dwyane, you asked for help, a change in culture, something to boost the team. Guess what?.....that greasy haired bastard got it done......again. Through hell and high water he moved the unmovable and made the future a little brighter than just a random Monday afternoon in the MIA. He’s proved his weight by engineering a title and helping to change the future of the franchise. You are it’s cornerstone. The bedrock of Biscayne Bay. The world needs heroes, Dwyane. You are molded to be one. You were one. The greatest ballplayer in the NBA for a few weeks two summers ago. Don’t let the mold set with cracks in it. Salvage your legacy, save yourself, as you saved the team against the insurmountable odds the Mavericks gave you. Make us believe in you again, Dwyane. Make me eat my words.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Warrior's Final Stand

In The Warriors Code There's No Surrender,
Though His Body Cries Stop, His Spirit Cries, NEVER!

Last night a legacy and a warriors journey ended in a crumpled heap in Atlanta, Georgia. Alonzo Mourning's long journey could have ended two seasons ago when he was a major cog in the Miami Heat's first championship. The Warrior in him said no.... I need to try and defend what we earned. He was the catalyst for the title. The fire needed in all great teams. He was the firestarter. He was the last line of defense. He was many things in his career. From Charlotte to Miami to New Jersey to Toronto and back to Miami, Zo earned his stripes. Every night. Every Possession. There's not much more that could be said. In today's game, to find a player who plays all out every game may be reserved for only one other player, and he's from the same college alma matta. Zo was a beast. Hated. Beloved. Challenged. Beaten. Destroyer. Enforcer. Champion. All these words can describe him. None do him justice. The critics of his game hated his demonstrativeness, flexing, screaming, pointing to the sky like Hulk Hogan after a title match. This was his make-up. This was Zo. Love him or hate him, you had to respect him. He was the modern Bill Russell on the defensive end. He was the one person you didn't want to meet at the basket if you felt you had a shot to get a dunk on him. He was caught a bunch, but he caught WAY more than he took. Warrior. Who care's if you take a punch, you've got to take one to give two. Warriors don't fear pain, they relish it. They welcome the pain as just another way to push themselves. And he did that 10 fold in his career.

Every basketball fan knows Zo kidney battle. Would have ended lesser men's career's. The Warrior took it as the ultimate battle and......won. Somehow, he beat the odds. That's what all the great warriors of myth do. They overcome. They find a way. Through all obstacles. They come through in the worst situations. It was hurtful to the community of Miami at the time it occurred. They were losing their champion, the face of their franchise and the hero for their environment. If you never visited the Miami Arena in the early years of the Heat in Overtown, you were probably the better for it. A more rundown, decrepit area of the state of Florida was difficult to find. Zo knew this upon his arrival in Miami. And made it his crusade to try and fortify and revolutionize the area. Over his career in Miami, things began to change partly because of his charitable efforts, but more because of his indomitable will and refusal to surrender to suits and bureaucrats that made his goal to revitalize seem like an impossible task. Warrior. Warrior's want the impossible task. It's their life's calling. Tell me no, motherfu*ker, and I will show differently. This was Zo's way and Overtown began to change. By the time Zo returned for his second Heat stint, Overtown was now in full revitalization mode, and don't think for a minute that Zo's imprint wasn't all over the blueprints of the new highrises, rebuilt buildings and surrounding shops and clubs that made the area a place to be seen instead of being a place you wouldn't want to be caught dead in. The Warrior laid the ground work. He kept the fire burning and made an impact that will be felt for generations to come.

As a fan of his from his Hoya's days, and then in Charlotte where he made his bones to his Heat history, I can only say thank you. Thanks for your fearlessness. Thanks for the years of fire. Thanks for the memories. Thanks for being you. There's not enough of your kind left in the basketball world anymore. And it will be missed. The rest of this Heat season, regardless of record and even if they somehow can turn the ship around and right things, won't be the same. Those lowly Wednesday night games against teams like the Grizzlies just won't be the same without you patrolling, waiting and extinguishing. Maybe the boys will rally around your legacy and play hard for the rest of the season, every night, like's it's their last. It's doubtful that that type of intensity can be duplicated, though. But even if they do, it won't be the same without the granite block, the king of blocks, the Warrior. His last act as a basketball player? Going for a blocked shot. Then refusing to be carried off on a stretcher, walking away from the game he loved and the battlefield he navigated, through pain and regret. No tears, head up, fire still burning, hate for the injury that ended his run. RIP Warrior Mourning. Welcome home, Alonzo.

Friday, November 30, 2007

A Change Is Gonna Come - Sam Cooke

I was looking around Youtube, searching for Sam shit to post and when I came across this tribute, I had to post it. To all who suffered, still suffer and fight for the goodness of man, Sam's words and his voice are speaking for you. The smoothest motherfucker of all-time, with one of the most poignant song's ever written. Long live his thoughts and words in this song.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Marvin Gaye - Distant Lover Live

Just because I was feeling.....smooth today. Cheers to the master. Still missing you today....just like Diana said. One of the greatest voices of all-time.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Opening Night, And The Livin's Easy

First Heat game of the year. Eboy is in the house. Traffic sucks....blah,blah,blah. Free t-shirt at the door commerating 20 years of Heat basketball, will be made into a basketball cut-off sooner than later. Expensive ticket, just behind the announcers table, will not pay that much money for a ticket again this season. Reporting to the SLAM fam my game experience, priceless.

Alright, got into the arena about 7:20p, 40 minutes before tip. Got down to the lower bowl and was escorted to my aisle. Pregame activities held more entertainment than the actual game. Wish I would have known that before I shelled out the dollars. During warmups, only Heat players that consistently hit jumpers were Tricky Ricky and my Heat namesake. Seemed to carry over to the actual game. Surprise, surprise. I have come to the conclusion that Mark Blount is similar to EVERY horrible big man I've ever played against who scores a couple baskets a game due to his height but plays at the level of a really weak two guard. Straight garbage. And this is before the game has started. Shaq is basically doing nothing except.......shooting three's. Interesting choice, fatbody, since you look like Abraham Lincoln at the moment and wind up playing more like Abe Vigoda. Eboy nod's his head over and over to the horrible rap music choices played in the arena like he's Eminem, sitting at Dr. Dre's mixboard, preparing a new track, pretty much making everything he throw's up. D-Wade walks out briefly and solidify's my Abe Lincoln assesment by calling out to Shaq "Mr. Lincoln, you look good". Hysteric's all around, I'm not amused seeing D-Wade look like a chipmunk with several stored nuts in each cheek in a $5,000 suit. Get on the court, WheelchairBoy, and then be funny.

The Pistons side is equally as amusing as Rasheed steals the show with his interpertation of the Soldier Boy dance and then sings along to some Gloria Estefan song played afterwards. Dude had to be high as fuck. Plus I think he always plays better in a haze, so I think he's going to have a good game. C-Webb used to use that same M.O. and he was that guy, too. Chauncey is a horse-faced phony, who has a nice game, but is one fake bitch. Smiles at everyone, looks like Trigger....whatever. He's one of the American players that takes the European "fall down with no contact and act like you've been murdered" game to another level. Fuck his non-jumping ass. Affallo looks excited for the start (first and last for a long time, kid) and Maxiell looks similar to a gorilla in a warmup suit. Big, black, scowling. I like him.....like a modern day Anthony Mason, except he can't pass.

On to the game. And I'll keep it brief. Because it sucked as a Heat fan, and was boring from a basketball fan's point of view. Pistons coasted, knowing the Heat weren't going to do shit without Wade. Tayshaun looked like a 1st team NBA player but being covered by Dorrell Wright and Ricky Davis has it's advantages. They are both horrible defenders. The Prince got 5 weak side pick cut baskets on the same side, same set-up throughout the game. That's not bad coaching, that's a lack of game knowledge from the defender. And that defender was.......Dorrell. Garbage. Sheed played a nice game, and provided an interesting tidbit of info after making one of his patented turn around fading jumpers. After the make he screamed indiscriminently "“I’ll bust Webb’s ass if he come’s down here". C-Webb and Miami are both desperate at the moment, so that might not be a bad move for either of them. Anything has to be better than Mark Blount. Ricky looked o.k., Eboy looked good, Haslem was good, Zo was all-out, Penny was there?? Hard to remember, since he was as invisible as the old men seated next to me. Picture 4 Jerry Buss's with women in their 40's who looked like they would be 'bout it if any man not rocking Social Security monies would proposition them while going for a hot dog. (Good imagery, Eboy) My only other highlight of the night was when one of the Golden Girls looked at me during halftime while the Cocoon crew walked for beers, and asked "are you by yourself?" with really Desperate Housewives-like tone. I felt scared to answer since she kind of looked like SLAM poster, Bryan Shia Labouef, in a wig. When I said half-heartedley that I was, she said "that's a shame" with a huge smile and batted her eyes at me like she was sprayed with mace. Lord, it's hard to be under 50 and married in this state of old men who can't satisfy a woman.

So to recap, Heat sucked, showed a little glint of hope with Davis, Eboy and Zo. So I won't judge too harshly yet. As long as D-Wade's back before Thanksgiving, I'll feel ok. On to Indiana.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A One Year Bandage

Alright, so the Heat finally made a move. Do I like it? For the moment, I do. Ricky Davis and Mark Blount are a marked improvement over the outgoing male that are currently on their way to Miami International Airport. Ricky only is here for the season, but it is a contract year, so he may ball out of his mind to put himself in the position to get another set of fat checks for the next 3 or 4 years. Play your cards right and you may have a home here for a little longer than 2008.

What do the Heat lose? Two character guys and a character all his own. Wayne Simean just couldn't catch a break from injuries and ailments, but seems to have a nice interior game that may be able to flourish elsewhere. Michael Doleac is a serviceable backup and a genuine nice guy but his value, especially on the current Heat team, is non-existent. Finally, the last piece of the puzzle who will be flashing a boarding pass is Antoine Walker. Do I hate him? No, not really. Do I think he's WAY overrated? Hell yeah. Did he contribute to the Heat's title run? Mildly. But he held the promise of so much more and never met Pat Riley's demanding standards. I guess the idea of shooting for 4's instead of 3's never really materialized. And his continued conditioning issues made him the poster child for the return of the Ginomorus Burger at Burger King. Poor Antoine. Although, he is extra blubbery, just in time for a cold winter in Minnesota.

So how will it help the Heat? Ricky can score. In bunches if need be. But for the better part of this season, he will need to be a role player, in a system designed to showcase two of the games greats. Can he sacrifice his game to the point of fitting in? I think it can happen. Hey, they can at least compete in the East now and if Riley can somehow get one more glue guy on the roster, I think they have the ability to take the East. Things start and end with Shaq and D-Wade, but the right pieces will make this years ride that much smoother. Blount can at least provide another big body if need be and with the potential additions of a couple of Heat newcomers from training camp, the Heat's front court shouldn't be an issue. One more good three ball shooter/strong defender puts the team in the catbird seat in the East, so I'll hold out hope that Riley can get that type of deal done before the trade deadline. Shit, he bamboozled Kevin McHale into taking Toine. That is a masterstroke in itself. Ricky, keep the self rebounds to a minimum and you'll be alright. Things look a whole lot brighter today than they did in Heatland yesterday, so at least the start of the season doesn't seem so bleak anymore. Now if the rest of the season can just pan out a little better than last......

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Finding My Way Home

Just a quick update. I will be out of town and out of communication for about 2 weeks. To my SLAMOnline partners in crime, I just didn't want you guys to think I forgot about you. Or got locked up or had Sam and Lang cut my connection to the SLAM site permanently. I'll be around every now and then to see who's running their mouths about me while I'm away, but to the people who have love for me and I have right back, I know you'll put those fire's out for me. Well, at least I hope you will. I'll be in the New York City/New Jersey area visiting family, friends and good food for the first time since the birth of my son. I'll be all over the place up there. I'll miss my daily conversations with everyone around the country and the globe (hi Izzo, Tariq, Hisham, etc.)but I'll be up and running with you guys in full-court press mode on 10/22. Look for your boy to return with NY/NJ swagger in full-tilt mode for a long Heat season. Be safe and talk with you soon. Eboy.

BTW, that's my Simpson's image that the SLAM guys turned us on to. I take credence in the fact that I make Ryan Jones look like dogshit, BTW!!!!! It's all love, Jones.