Money Breeds Success

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It’s August, a dead time during NBA season, but NBA blogger Ethan Sherwood Strauss managed to write a super intriguing piece about the success of second generation NBA players. Specifically, Strauss notices that almost all second-generation professional ballers are great shooters. Steph Curry, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, etc, these guys could all stroke it from deep.

The conventional thinking is: these guys got good genes! But Strauss digs deeper. He theorizes that second generation NBA players are such elite shooters because of wealthy family backgrounds, which meant the Steph Currys and Klay Thompsons had access to professional training facilities, training equipments, and coaches from day one.

Whereas a Gary Payton had to work on his jumper in the broken-down parks of Oakland, young Kevin Love was probably working on his jumper inside a NBA-sized gym with ballboys fetching rebounds.

This theory, that wealth/privilege breeds more success is hardly new — Malcolm Gladwell’s wonderful book, Outliers: The Story of Success touches on this exact topic. Gladwell’s theory goes beyond just wealth — though that is a major part — but also luck. Would Bill Gates have become the revolutionary computer mastermind he is today if he didn’t happen to be at a campus with super-advanced computers? That’s the type of shit Gladwell explores in the book.

I’ve had a similar theory about Hong Kong people for years. This is a weird town, in which the divide between expats/English-speaking Chinese and local Canto Chinese is so wide it covers not just language, mentality, and tastes in music, but also looks and success.

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Buggin’ Out

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There is a scene at the beginning of the third act of White House Down, in which Jamie Foxx, playing a mild-mannered President of the United States, goes berserk on a terrorist who had latched onto the President’s shoes, a pair of Air Jordans.

“Get. Yo. Hands. Off. My. Jordans,” screamed President Foxx as he kicks the terrorist in the face, each kick coinciding with a word.

No one who knows film would go into a screening of White House Down not expecting it to be ridiculous and stupid — after all, this film is directed by Roland Freaking Emmerich and also stars Channing Tatum as a cop who’s the last line of defense in the White House — but still, that scene of the President of the United States, who apparently wears a full suit with Air Jordans with regularity, making a big deal over his Jordans stood out.

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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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Over/Under: The Greatness of Tim Duncan and the value of proper ratings

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As the opening game of the NBA Finals came to an end and the Twittersphere collectively marveled at Tony Parker’s game-sealing, “French Kiss” dagger, one thought came to my mind: Everyone’s going to be talking about Parker, overlooking Tim Duncan’s 20 and 14. Again.

For reasons legit and superficial, Tim Duncan has been one of the more underrated superstars in the basketball — though he is considered by some the greatest power forward of all time, the degree to which his greatness rises is still often overlooked.

For example, there is a general consensus among casual NBA fans that Kobe Bryant is the greatest player of this era (meaning the 2000s). While Kobe certainly has a case to indeed be the GOOT (Greatest Of Our Time), the fact that he so overwhelmingly tops these polls — with Duncan finishing a distant second or third — is a travesty.

This perpetual lack of rightful appreciation for Duncan — again, simply acknowledging he’s a great one isn’t doing him justice, Duncan is, really, a top 7 or 8 player of all time and has a career that could go toe-to-toe with the Magic Johnsons and Larry Birds — drives true hoopheads insane, as we spend half our time arguing with other obsessed hoopheads over the rightful ranking of a player’s greatness. To us, properly rating a player is crucial. And this brings me to the topic of this post…

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Money, It’s Gotta Be The Shoes

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Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, a seminal film on racial/cultural tension in America, was less a story than a series of unconnected yarns from┬áthe Bed-Stuy district of Brooklyn that, due to the proximity in which these occur, became inextricable by the film’s end.

While the death of Radio Raheem at the hands of a white cop and the subsequent “motherfucking of a window” by Mookie make up the explosive climax, the fuse had been lit in earlier scenes, most notably the argument between Buggin’ Out and a neighbor, over a pair of Nike sneakers. Specifically, Air Jordans. Continue reading

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