Chip on Shoulder

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The 2013 NBA Draft, which took place two nights ago in Brooklyn, will likely go down as the most unpredictable and bizarre draft nights ever. In my decade plus of following the draft, never before had I witness a draft in which the eventual number one pick was someone who didn’t make the top five of any mock draft. In fact, in most years, the who-goes-first drama is usually no drama — as today’s advanced scouting and reporting make determining the best/most-coveted player easy.

And so, a guy whom no one figured would be in the top five, Anthony Bennett, ended up being drafted first, while Nerlens Noel, whom everyone figured was the likeliest top pick, fell all the way down to sixth. He was then traded. That means six teams didn’t want him.

“I’m going to make all those teams pay,” an embarrassed Noel vowed to the media, immediately growing a metaphorical chip on his shoulder.

Sometimes, these chips on shoulders make for good motivation tools, as players such as Paul Pierce and Caron Butler — both drafted 10th, in 1998 and 2002 respectively — have attributed their strong careers to being snubbed on draft night.

Will Noel utilize that chip and become the dominating defensive terror some believe he can, or will his injury history and lack of offensive game hinder his career, like six General Managers apparently believe?

What happened to Noel, along with an article I read from China Daily on interracial dating, reminded me that I, too, have mostly lived with a chip on my shoulder.

The China Daily article in question here. It’s a mostly well-written piece, on interracial marriage, Asian masculinity & what the “Asian fetish” means for both men and women, but one paragraph had me say “Oh hell no” out loud:

“Pairings between Asian women and Caucasian men are twice as common as matches between Caucasian women and Asian men”

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Aging, Insecurities, Time

(this is a repost from over at Shit, I Love A lot)

Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs Western Conference first round playoff game 3

Game Seven — supposedly the two favorite words for sports fans.

As a supposedly unbiased, neutral, intelligent basketball fan, I’m supposed to be ecstatic that these NBA Finals will be going the distance. One game, winner takes all, for the basketball heavyweight championship of the world — what could be better than that, right?

But no, instead I spent most of today with a knot in my stomach — I was so distraught when the game ended I canceled lunch plans and afternoon activities; I just sat at home rewatching the game and reading analysis — because I know the odds of the Spurs recovering from such a devastating, back and heartbreaking loss to win game seven on the road are slim.

History is against these Spurs. Home teams have won some 90+ percent of all game sevens in the NBA Finals. More important, my cynical/critical basketball judgement and unconfident nature always fear for the worst: and the worst news, for these Spurs, is that the world’s greatest player plays for the other team.

I’ve rewatched the final 15 minutes or so of the game thrice today. Each time hurts just as much. The Spurs had this. Up five, 22 seconds to go. LeBron looked like he was choking and then, just like that, bam, Ray Allen did his Jesus Shuttlesworth and tied the game.

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“Don’t Talk Like You’re One of Them, You’re Not”

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Yesterday, in the midst of a beautiful game of basketball between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat, Jay-Z, with the help of Samsung, revealed to the world a teaser of his upcoming album, Magna Carta Holy Grail.

That Jay and Samsung chose to drop the news during the NBA Finals — with Jay wearing a Brooklyn Nets cap with a prominent NBA logo — is telling, for hip hop and the NBA has always gone hand in hand.

It is worth noting, that at first glance, Jay’s promotion of his album is the complete opposite of Kanye West’s approach to his album, Yeezus. The latter hit store shelves with minimal promotion — only that random street broadcast and that SNL performance — while Jay has teamed up with a billion dollar corporation (a foreign one, at that) to push his album on the biggest stage (at least for his demographic), the NBA Finals.

Heck, that deal between Samsung and Jay practically turned Jay’s album platinum before release — Samsung reportedly purchased a million copies of Manga Carta at five bucks a pop, to be released to Samsung Galaxy users (eh, I’ll stick with my superior iPhone and just download that shit and purchase a hard copy later). For a self-proclaimed hustla, this was yet another hustle by Mr Carter.

But different approaches to marketing aside (or at least so they claim), are the two albums that different? I’m not talking about the way it sounds — I’m sure Jay won’t be doing his Marilyn Manson thing, and being married to Beyonce and all, has toned down the stupid misogyny — but is Yeezus and Magna Carta Holy Grail actually on the opposite end of the spectrum?

Much like the supposed differences between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs, I say no.

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Michael Jordan of Music

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At approximately 2am, June 15th, Hong Kong time — that makes it 2pm, June 14th, New York time — word trickled through Twitter that Yeezus, Kanye West’s sixth studio album, had leaked onto the internet.

I found a working torrent by 2:05, by 2:15, when the album finished downloading, Yeezus talk had taken over Twitter and music/pop culture blogs completely.

As a big fan of West’s previous albums — I consider My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as the best album of 2010 (also best pop album in maybe two, three years), and I think very highly of Graduation and Late Registration — and someone who considers him to be one of the best pop-makers of our generation, Yeezus is a slight disappointment, in that the record is less hip hop or pop than grunge and industrial rock. Gone are West’s grandiose pop beats, catchy choruses and soulful samples (Blood on the Leaves is perhaps the only exception) in favor or a dark, brutal, Nine Inch Nails/Marilyn Manson-esque screams and slicing synths.

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Nihon

If you’re a fan of the NBA and art, specifically, manga style art, follow @tatenoayako on Twitter and visit his/her art blog.

I randomly stumbled across his/her art on Twitter and I love it. Here are some of my favorites. In fact, I think I like everything that has to do with Japanese culture. I just went to Tokyo last week, it was like, my sixth time there and second time in less than half a year, but still, I loved it. I didn’t even need to buy a lot of shit, I just like walking around the street, interacting/watching (ok, mostly the latter) Japanese people, eating Japanese food, and hearing the language.

These artworks are all BY that artist, whose name, I hope I got right, is Tateno Ayako? Check out his/her blog for more.

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No Homer

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Over the past six years, in Hong Kong and New York, whenever I meet someone for the first time, and it’s been established that I love the NBA, I get asked the inevitable question: “You’re a Laker fan huh?”

“No.”

“But…you’re from LA. So what’s your team?”

“I don’t have a team. I root for certain players, and good basketball.”

This logic is sometimes lost on people, especially diehard fans themselves. They almost try to make excuses for me, to justify why I’m not a Laker fan.

“Oh I get it, because you’ve been living in Hong Kong for so long, right?”

“Naw man, I was known as a Laker hater even back when I lived in LA, used to get in crazy arguments with high school friends to the point we don’t speak for days.”

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