Bed-Stuy Do or Die

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UPDATE: June 6 — Ok I just got back from Tokyo and — no joke — Brooklyn has indeed taken over Japan’s youth and trendy and good looking. I probably spotted “Brooklyn” shirts in a dozen boutiques and another hundred or so caps/shirts on people in the streets during 5 days there. Two photos at end of this post. Back to the original post, dated May 29:

Though LeBron James is likely two to three weeks away from winning his second NBA title in as many years, his decision to take his talents to South Beach in the summer of 2010 remains a travesty to me. I’ll explain briefly, first, let’s take a detour.

Brooklyn, for better or worse, has become a “brand” that is synonymous with being cool, hip hop, street, and “swag.” The New York Times has written about the phenomenon of companies and brands around the world using the borough’s name. So did brand marketing company Counsel.

It’s not like you need these stories to tell you about the aura of Brooklyn. Every young, trendy creative type I know, or know of, who live in Brooklyn can’t stop mentioning that they live in Brooklyn (it’s all over their Twitter bio, Facebook statuses, conversations, etc); rappers can’t stop mentioning their Brooklyn roots even if they live in mansions in Beverly Hills; I’ve seen Brooklyn Nets shirt and caps in Hong Kong, usually on really good looking stylish people trying to do the whole street-thing; I’m going to Tokyo — the city with the best, and most legit, hip hop scene in Asia — in a few days and I already know Brooklyn stuff will be all over the trendy streets and boutiques*; I can’t watch Kpop videos without seeing some sort of New York or Brooklyn gear. I bet 70% of these cats in Brooklyn gear in Asia have probably never even stepped foot in the borough.

It’s not hard to see why Brooklyn is so revered. It’s the birthplace of hip hop, the central part of the “street” subculture that has provided the base from which all things “cool” are based. It’s also the birthplace of Michael Jordan, the workplace of Jackie Robinson, and the subject around which the music of legendary rappers like Jay, Biggie, Beastie Boys, Tribe, and Mos Def revolve. Spike Lee’s Mars Blackmon and Radio Raheem, respectively with their Brooklyn cap and Bed-Stuy shirt, have become iconic figures in pop culture (how many parodies of this Radio Raheem image have you seen? 2,000? a million?). Continue reading

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Basketball Hipsters

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Though they have the son of an Olympic triple jump gold medalist; two elite defenders — one of whom officially christened the defensive player of the year recently — anchoring the league’s stingiest defense; and a man whose resemblance to Eddie Winslow is so uncanny it’s shattered the internet world, the Memphis Grizzlies have fallen behind 3-0 to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.

In the history of this magnificent league, 127 teams have fallen behind 3-0. All 127 of them lost the series.

Ergo, we must conclude that the Memphis Grizzlies’ will lose this series, despite basketball hipsters such as myself, Marv, Grantland’s Zach Lowe and Bill Simmons, and Henry Abott of True Hoop concurrently predicting otherwise a week ago.

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No Country For Big Men

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Illo on left by Patrick Truby, http://rembrandtofroundball.tumblr.com/

I have a new piece in Sports Illustrated, about how basketball’s advanced metrics movement — think Moneyball, but the guys are nowhere near as good looking as Brad Pitt — has changed debunked old school basketball conventional wisdoms and turned the modern day NBA offenses into something that resembles video game style basketball. Continue reading

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Get By With A Little Help

Vic hugging me on defense

Vic hugging me on defense

Boy Meets World is one of my favorite all time sitcoms. Yes, in the long list of my other loves — NBA; select rock/rap music; Tarantino films; 80s HK cinema; dark, gritty, harrowing Batman books; Cormac McCarthy books — BMW sticks out like a sore thumb. But I love BMW because of three relationships:

1: Cory and Tapanga, true love.

2: Cory and Feeny, mentor/mentee

3: Cory and Shawn, best friends.

(What’s crazy is the Wonder Years also revolve around these three films, and Kevin Arnold is the real life older brother of Cory Matthews)

One and two, I can go a few thousands words on. But let’s blog about three for this post.

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Showtime

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Last week, the New York Times published a story on a scary new casually transmitted disease that’s killed seven gay men in New York City since 2010. So far, every one diagnosed with the disease has been either a gay or bi-sexual men, and the contagion has accelerated in the past few months, bringing back a fear among the gay community that feels all too familiar.

A day after that, I interviewed British hip hop DJ Emily Rawson, who said she looked up to the late Lisa Left Eye Lopes growing up. She gushed about how Left Eye once wore a condom on her left eye in a music video to promote safe sex, at a time when the world feared AIDS. Lopes was an inspiration, Rawson told me, because she was a woman using hip hop to promote a real, scary, issue.

These two events reminded me that, yes, back on November 7th, 1991, we all thought one thing: Magic Johnson’s good as dead.

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OKC.

NYT front page.

During the aftermath of the horrific and infuriating Boston bombings, I tweeted something about how the Celtics and Red Sox playing hard and playing proud — win or lose, wouldn’t matter — would be a city-uniting, temporary solace.

I worried that tweet would anger non-sports fans, who may be offended that I equate watching sports with post-tragedy-healing.

But then a friend, a very Boston individual, the music master known as “M.”, favorited my tweet. Another HK journo who attended school in Boston, responded to my tweet with “As someone who’s lived in Boston, I can say that the sooner sports come back the better.”

I remember New York City uniting as one in the Bronx on September 17th, 2001, during the first Yankee game after 9/11. I remember Memphis’ 2011 run — otherwise known as the Eddie Winslow Hashtag phenomenon of 2011 — coinciding with major flooding of that city, and how those citizens bonded over the Grizzlie’s improbable playoff run.

Too bad then, that Russell Westbrook’s injury has knocked the Thunder out of the playoffs. I’ve never been to Oklahoma or OKC, but I do know they love that team. Continue reading

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Bruh Man, Upstairs, Fifth Flo’

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When Russell Westbrook went down with a season-ending knee injury three weeks ago, it led to two things:

A: The abrupt end of the Westbrook Or Flatmate game, which had started to become a hit with among certain circles — ok, fine, the hipster circle — in Hong Kong. Serious, just hours before Westbrook’s news broke, I was out with the flatmate around PoHo and Yardbird (the Hong Kong restaurant drawing the most global buzz among the hipster/foodie crowds) when not one, but two dudes, spotted my flatmate and yelled “Yo Westbrook!”

B: The opening up of the western conference. Oklahoma City Thunder had been the favorites to win the west heading into the playoffs, but Westbrook’s sudden injury opened the door for the Clippers, the Grizzlies, and Spurs to win the west.

Well, it’s looking like the Memphis Grizzlies will be that team. They’re heading to their first ever western conference finals after kicking the Clippers’ ass — so bad that I now see Chris Paul fleeing the team this summer — and ousting the Westbrook-less OKC squad in five games.

Yes, the Grizz have one more team to play before heading to the Finals, likely the Spurs, but at this point, the Grizz has to be considered the favorite.

And you know what this means?

“EDDIE WINSLOW”, the fictional son on the 90s sitcom Family Matters, will trend on Twitter.

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