Bizarro World


The double whammy of the George Zimmerman verdict and the release of Fruitvale (I ain’t calling it by the new name, Fruitvale Station, because that’s filmmakers bending to Hollywood studio pressure. Forget that! The movie was conceived as Fruitvale, it was still named Frutivale at Sundance last year — I will call it Fruitvale) has once again shone light on the degree to which black men are discriminated against in America.

And so I began to think about how basketball, or more specifically, the basketball court, represents the bizarro world America.

Bizarro world, if you are unfamiliar (meaning you’re not a geek), refers to an alternate universe set inside DC Comics’ universe. In Bizarro world, everything is flipped turned upside down.

So basketball in America, at all levels, from the NBA on down to high school squads, is flipped from normal America, for that is the place where black privilege exists, and whites and, to a worse degree, Asians are racially profiled. Continue reading


When White or Asian People Use The N Word


This post will depart from the NBA theme. It’s a rant.

The other day I was shooting hoops in Po Hing Fong when a group of white teens, probably ages 14 to 16, walked onto the courts and shot hoops on the other end.

In between the loud sounds of their ball clanking off the rim — a sound with which I am unfamiliar because my J is money — I kept hearing the word “n*gger.”

Though I am not black, hearing that word come out of a non-black person’s mouth still evoke very uncomfortable feelings for me. It’s an ineffable, discordant sensation — I am less angry or insulted than incredulous and annoyed.

When I used to hear idiots of Asian, white, or hispanic heritage drop the N-word back when I lived in the US, I’d look at them with disdain while I envision a scenario in my head in which they’re being punched by a black man. And I’d then point and laugh.

But in Hong Kong, it’s a different situation. Those kids, for example, were probably international school kids who have grown up mostly in Hong Kong. They are unfamiliar with American life, and American social norms.

They are expats in a privileged, tiny, cushy expat bubble, in a city that places them on a pedestal. They don’t know better.

And so I began to wonder the degree to which people like Jay Z or Kanye should be held accountable.

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5 30 8


The buzz in the media world the past few days has revolved around Nate Silver’s departure of the New York Times for ESPN. To me, Silver taking his talents to South Bristol was unsurprising — ESPN offers him a broader platform on which to showcase his superb analytical mind. More importantly, the “worldwide leader” offers Silver a chance to return to his first love: sports.

Silver’s new role with ESPN will reportedly be something similar to that of Bill Simmons, meaning Silver will (re)launch a mostly-independent — but ultimately ESPN-backed — website that showcases Silver’s brand of advanced metrics-based analysis. The way Simmons’ sports-and-pop-culture-amalgamation columns of the past have shaped Grantland’s coverage, Silver’s predictions-and-analysis-via-numbers-and-hard-data style will shape the new FiveThirtyEight site.

Silver, of course, will continue doing what made his career — predicting US election results via advanced metrics and data — over at his new employment, but his new site will focus on sports as much as politics.

The timing is perfect on all fronts. Silver, having correctly predicted the winner of all 50 states and the District of Columbia during last fall’s Presidential elections,  is at the height of his fame/powers; and the sports world right now, especially the NBA, is adopting the advanced stats movement to such alarming degrees that it has led to a sea change in how basketball is being played. Continue reading


Maybe it’s his fault

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It’s 3am and I’m reading Mo Meta Blues. No, not the Spike Lee flick — that’s Mo Better Blues — but the memoir of The Roots’ drummer Questlove. Read something interesting already on the first page.

Inside the front sleeve of this beautifully packaged memoir, The Roots is described as “the last hip hop band.” I was like, huh?

Then I flip to page 1 and Questlove explains.

According to QL, rap acts used to be almost exclusively groups. Public Enemy, Run DMC, Beastie Boys. Then later, The Native Tongue Collectives, which was a loosely connected group (like, nWo style) of three rap acts: De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest (my fave!), and the Jungle Brothers. Continue reading


Freakonomics: The NBA’s Lack of a Free Market


This past weekend, Dwight Howard changed teams a second time in a 10 month span. Like his first move from the Orlando Magic to the Los Angeles Lakers — and the months that led up to that moment — Howard’s jump from the Lakers to the Houston Rockets have led to his public image taking a beating, especially on Twitter, where the superstar center was widely mocked.

While Howard’s incredible fickleness and immaturity certainly during both incidents is surely deserving of mockery and disdain, the fact is, even had Howard’s departures been handled in a smoother, trouble-free manner, Howard was going to get killed anyway.

Fans hate athletes for switching teams. Some do it because they hold on to this false idea of loyalty in sports; others do it because they’re simply jealous haters. Ray Allen has been denounced by the entire city of Boston and hailed a traitor throughout this past season, all because he decided to switch employers after he had fulfilled his contract. And when you consider that the Celtics tried to trade Allen three times from 2010 to 2012, the notion that Allen had committed a sin by playing elsewhere is blasphemy.

LeBron James could potentially be a free agent after this coming season, setting up the Summer of LeBron, part 2, in June and July of 2014. James, if he lets it happen, will be courted by several teams again. Just like 2010, the first Summer of LeBron. Rumors are flying James could leave Miami for Cleveland. The Lakers think they have a shot at Bron too. Whatever the case, the only thing we can predict is there will not be a The Decision II.

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The Roc

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When LeBron James was awarded his second NBA Finals MVP trophy shortly after winning his second NBA Championship last month, he celebrated by raising both his arms up high. With his palms open, some 10 feet off the ground and facing the world, James’ thumbs and index fingers joined. It’s a hand gesture he’s flashed on basketball’s big stages — NBA Finals, NBA All Star Game intros — for several years now. This gesture is known as “throwing the roc”, which is really just a hip way of saying someone is using their hands to make a diamond shape, which in turn represents Roc-A-Fella records, Jay-Z’s hip hop label (Damon Dash also a co-founder, so I wonder if Dame had as much to do with the Roc sign as Jay).

That James, the biggest and best athlete on earth, flashes this sign would be a bigger deal if Jay, his wife Beyonce, and his friend Kanye West — who all “throw the roc” with regularity — aren’t currently the biggest names in entertainment and completely dominating US pop culture, which, in turn, is the major driving force behind world pop culture.

The very first post of this blog wondered if Jay is the most famous figure in all of entertainment right now, given that dude is, literally, everywhere. Obviously he’s all over music and hip hop news, but he’s also producing films (scoring big budget blockbusters like Great Gatsby and producing/promoting small indie flicks like An Oversimplification of Her Beauty), running a sports agency, partly-owned an NBA team, produced the hottest selling sports video game, took part in the reelection campaign of the most famous world leader on earth, and is married to a pop diva who’s also everywhere herself and, judging from Twitter reactions following her concert in LA two nights ago, is the greatest performer ever.

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Chip on Shoulder


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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