Archive for the ‘NBA’ Category

Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the Washington Sports Fan

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

CB

Those of or around my generation remember Charlie Brown attempting to kick the football held by that female joker Lucy. What was fascinating is not that Lucy pulled the ball away to get Charlie Brown once. Anybody can be had once. However, ole Chuck kept falling for Lucy’s okie-doke over and over again. It was suckerism on steroids.

I hate to say it, well actually, I do not, but the Washington sports fan reminds me of Charlie Brown.

When you think about it, it is incredible. How can anyone run the same game on his/her victims repeatedly and have them fall for it repeatedly? It is not as if the game has been cleaned up or got a makeover. It is as if Bernie Madoff were released from prison tomorrow and a significant number of his victims would buy into yet another of his Ponzi schemes.

Every year across the four different major sports, the fans of this area are every bit as optimistic as Charlie Brown charging to kick that damn football. The fact that history does not dissuade them from accepting their inevitable fate is either delusional or optimistic on the level of spiritual faith……some will argue that their little difference between the two.

This isn’t just hyperbole. When the Cleveland Cavaliers won its first NBA title in 2016 and the first of any kind for the city since the 1964 Browns, that left Washington, DC and St. Paul/Minneapolis in the lead for title droughts among cities with at least three major sports teams. Not since 1991 has either city/metropolis won a title.

It is not just that they have not been able to win a title in nearly 30 years, but how they have lost. Each sports team has managed to tease its fans just enough to make them dare to believe, only to give up the ghost in the end. Personally, if my teams are not going to be good, put me out of my misery early. Giants let me know by May, Lakers let me know by December, etc., etc.

The biggest culprit among Washington sports teams is clearly the Capitals. They have blown five 3-1 post-season leads to lose game seven, twice to their nemesis, the Pittsburgh Penguins. I cannot think of any franchise in any of the four sports that has the number of another franchise the way the Pens own the Caps. Of their ten playoff encounters, Washington has only beaten Pittsburgh once.

The Penguins may as well be Lucy.

Then there is the Washington Nationals, who have yet to win a playoff series. They have been eliminated at home three times. I was at the 2012 collapse against the Cardinals and it was by far the most depressing sports atmosphere of which I had ever been a part. I was there in 2014 when my Giants rolled in for two games and rolled out with two wins. In 2016, it was the Dodgers, and last year it was the Cubs.

The Cardinals, Giants, Dodgers, and Cubs may as well be Lucy.

Then there is the Wizards who are good for winning road games against superior teams only to come back home and lose when they have a chance to get a strangle hold on a series. The last time the Washington Wizards franchise won at least 50 games was 1979, when they were the Bullets and defending NBA champions.

Finally, there is the football team. I contend that just maybe its racist name might be the curse over all of the city’s sports teams. Until they change it, I have no sympathy for them.

It is a shame because Washington has one of the truly great fanbases in America.

However, as the late native Washingtonian great Marvin Gaye would sing, there are “four” things in life for sure: taxes, death, trouble, and Washington sports fans believing that this year Lucy will not pull the damn football away.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

Do Not Drink the Rocket Kool-Aid, Just Yet

Monday, March 5th, 2018

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

The Houston Rockets are very very good! Their winning streak is at 15 and counting. They have the best record in basketball, which if maintained would give them home court throughout the playoffs. They have won two of three from the defending champion Warriors. James Harden would get my vote for MVP up to this point.

Yet, if you tell me that Houston Rocket Kool-Aid taste like a team that will win the NBA title, I am just not ready to drink.

In no particular order, I am going to outline the four reasons why I refuse to drink:

When has a Mike D’Antoni coached team played enough defense to be a threat to win an NBA title? The answer is NEVER! It is a highly entertaining brand of basketball, without a doubt. His teams remind me of Big 12 college football teams; high scoring, very little defense, and as much as you may want to believe that they can win it all, you know in your heart of hearts, they will not beat defensive-minded SEC teams.

Another concern is that no eventual champion team has ever blown a 26-point lead to lose a game as the Rockets did earlier in the year to Boston. Some will cite the Cavaliers blowing the same lead last year against the Hawks. The difference is that they blew that after having won a title. It is indefensible in either case but Cleveland already achieved the essential goal. Houston has not reached that level.

Yet another reason is James Harden’s Game 6-elimination performance against San Antonio last year. After a disappointing overtime loss in game 5, in which Harden was great with 33 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. After averaging 20 shots in the first 5 games, at home in game 6 he only took 11 shots, making 2 to score 10 points. It is one thing to go 9 of 30 with the season on the line. At least we could say he left everything on the floor. However, this effort, in my mind, can only be classified as quitting. We have seen great regular season performers across sports that simply did not duplicate the performance in the post season. The best example is Dodgers Ace Clayton Kershaw. Even as a die-hard Giants fan, I freely acknowledge Kershaw as being the best….regular season pitcher in baseball. In the playoffs, he has simply been subpar.

The last reason, which if I were ordering would be the first: The Golden State Warriors. We should not over think this folks. If not for Draymond Green’s suspension in The Finals two years ago, the Warriors likely would be pursuing their fourth straight NBA title.  That ain’t luck. The simple reality is that they are that much better than everyone else. It is the only team that need not play its best to win it all this year. Health is a far greater threat than the Rockets or any other team, to the Warriors.

We have seen with LeBron James, especially in 2015, that even a Herculean effort by a team’s best player can at best stretch the series to six games….and that was before Durant came to Golden State. Even if you believe Harden is ready to play at that level, why would you believe it would be enough?

So in spite of these reasons to doubt, why are so many ready to crown the Rockets? I suspect it is Golden State Warrior fatigue. As sports fans, we prefer some degree of suspense about who will eventually wear the crown. With that in mind, people want to believe that there is a worthy challenger. In wanting that, many do what the human mind often does, which is to embellish evidence to validate its hopes.

What is the evidence that the Rockets are ready? The addition of Chris Paul? He is a great player and I believe is unfairly blamed for the failure of his teams to advance in the playoffs……but the fact is that they have not. Would it be the 15 game winning streak? Excluding this year’s Celtics, 11 other teams in NBA history have won 15 straight that did not win the title. James Harden? How can you trust him after San Antonio last year?

Therefore, as much as I want a worthy challenger for the title, I am holding off on anointing the Rockets as the answer. Maybe I should have been born in Missouri because you have to SHOW ME and the Rockets have not done so yet.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

Dear Michael Jordan…STFU: How We Should Think About Super Teams and Corporate Monopolies

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

MJ

Michael Jordan is upset about the Warriors and Cavaliers being super teams while the other 28, in his words, “are garbage”.

Never mind the insult to the San Antonio Spurs, who would not fit the description of garbage in any era of basketball. Let’s keep the focus on Jordan the player and Jordan the owner.

Michael Jordan the player, was quite possibly the greatest ever and was the primary reason that his Chicago Bulls won the NBA title every year of his last 6 full seasons with the team. It wasn’t just his ability on the court. It was his willingness to play for a “mere” $3-4 million per season (he was making in the range of $36 million in endorsements). This gave his team a huge unfair advantage that they would eventually use to help secure Dennis Rodman and keep Scottie Pippen from leaving before his prime was up.

Michael Jordan the owner, apparently does not want other teams having the kind of advantage his Bulls had in his playing days.

The irony of it all is that the max deal restrictions on player salaries today is a direct result of Jordan’s last 1-year deal with the Bulls.  For the 1997-98 season, Jordan earned just over $33 million, which is still the single season record for a player. This salary was also more than the entire roster of 19 teams that year.

Back to Jordan the player, who once suggested if Wizards owner Abe Pollin could not afford the team that he should sell the team. Jordan would later work for Pollin in his last comeback.

The only conclusion that I can make about the contradictions between Michael Jordan the players vs Michael Jordan the owner is that when people win and/or get the outcomes they want, fairness is not a principle that is very important to them.

The same is true of American capitalism and its production of corporate monopolies. Despite the lessons that should have been learned from the near crash of 2008, less than 10 years later, the U.S. economy is increasingly being dominated by corporate mergers. Walgreens bought up Rite Aid, Heinz bought Kraft, and American Airlines bought US Airways. On Wall Street, the source of the near collapse, the 5 biggest banks hold nearly half the nation’s assets. An increasing trend is to mandate its customers and employees to agree to arbitration in disputes, thereby signing away their constitutional rights to a trial.

Why should we as sports fans care? Because the trends going on with super team formations in the NBA, though largely driven by a handful of the game’s superstars, will not affect your pension, civil liberties, or living wages. The trends going on with corporate monopolies absolutely will affect all of the aforementioned and yet we don’t personalize our indignation about corporate monopolies anywhere near to the degree that we do when attacking pro athletes.

I am not suggesting that this whole super team thing is something I particularly like as a fan of the game. It, without question, leaves a competitive imbalance. I am suggesting that we have idealized the NBA past as if this has never happened before.  The Bill Russel era Celtics won 11 titles in 13 years and the aforementioned Jordan era Bulls won 6 in 8 years. And yet the league survived just fine.  Even the Showtime Lakers, who won 5 titles, also lost 4 times in the NBA finals. Before the 1982-83 season, the 76ers added the late great Moses Malone, arguably the best player in the league at the time. He would be the final piece to a team that had made it to the NBA finals 2 of the previous 3 years, and already had Julius Erving. They cruised through the regular season and playoffs before sweeping my defending champion Lakers for the title.  It looked like at the time that the Sixers would win multiple titles.

They never won another.

In sports, the impact and collateral damage of super teams is relatively minimal and history has shown that the game will survive their fluctuating eras. The same cannot be said of capitalistic America and its corporate monopolies. I would hope we reserve our outrage for the real danger between the two.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

Dear Kevin Durant Haters: Let It Go!

Saturday, June 17th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

KD

Russell Westbrook averaging a triple-double this past year brought much deserved attention to the great Oscar Robertson, who previously had been the only player to accomplish such a feat, way back in 1962, his second year in the league.  Robertson came close to doing it his first 5 years in the league, usually missing because he would “only” average 9 assists one year or 9 rebounds another year.  He also had 5 different seasons in which he averaged over 30 points a game.

But as for rings for NBA titles with the Cincinnati Royals, he had nothing to show for his greatness.  While his teams made the playoffs 6 straight seasons from 1962-67, they lost to either Bill Russell’s Celtics or Wilt Chamberlain’s 76ers in 5 of those six seasons.   Four of those 5 defeats were to the eventual NBA champions.

It was not because he did not elevate his game in the big moments.  He averaged a triple-double in the 1962 playoffs.  Over that 6-year period his average playoff numbers were 29 points, nearly 10 assist, and over 8 rebounds a game.  Oscar Robertson spent his first and best 10 years in the NBA losing year after year in the playoffs because his team was simply not good enough.

Here is my question for the Kevin Durant (KD) critics who insist that he should have never joined the team that he could not beat: do you honestly believe Oscar Robertson would have stayed in Cincinnati all those years with the same foreseeable outcomes if he had the choice to join Wilt in Philly or Bill in Boston or even Elgin Baylor and Jerry West in LA?

Would you have?  If your GPS tells you that you can shave 10 minutes off your commute to your destination, can you honestly say you would ignore it and insist on going the hard way?

The fact is he didn’t have a choice because free agency at that time was a mere shadow of what it is today.  As a matter of fact, Robertson would go on to become the National Basketball Players Association president and in that capacity, in 1970, would file an anti-trust suit under his name against NBA owners which challenged, among other things, to do away with the option clause which bound a player to one team.  Though the suit was eventually dismissed as part of a collective bargaining agreement, it was an important piece of leverage that led to the free agency today enjoyed by players like KD.

With this important piece of historical context and the larger issue of LABOR RIGHTS, I am at a loss for why all this shade is being thrown at KD for joining the Warriors?

Whatever happened to “if you can’t beat them join them”?

That’s what Deion Sanders did when he left the Falcons to join the division rival 49ers to win a Super Bowl ring.  That’s what Greg Maddox did in leaving the Cubs to join the Braves to win the World Series.  What KD did is not new in sports.

Ok, if KD tweeted criticism of LeBron for going to Miami, he set himself up for some of this.

Furthermore, admittedly there is a competitive romantic side of me that would have admired KD even more as a champion had he done it from Oklahoma City.  There was an additional gratification when seeing the long-suffering likes of Andy Murray in tennis and Phil Mickelson in golf finally win major titles after multiple heart-breaking disappointments.  The same feeling came watching the Cubs in baseball and of course the great Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler with the Houston Rockets.

But that romanticism will always be trumped by the necessity to appreciate the struggle, yes even among professional athletes, for labor rights.  The fact that most of us in our lifetime will not have the leverage to impact our compensation and place of labor the way professional athletes do is not a basis to begrudge them.  After all, the simple reality is that millions of people have no interest or willingness to pay to watch you nor I do our jobs.   It should be an incentive to improve our own collective 99% lot and not hate on them, be it John Elway or Eli Manning maneuvering out of Baltimore and San Diego, or KD leaving Oklahoma City.

I suspect that the common sports myth of loyalty is a factor of the KD hate.

Weather we as fans want to continue to deny getting the memo or not, sports loyalty has always been at best the exception and not the rule.  Don’t let the final chapters for Kobe Bryant and Derek Jeter fool you.  The more common finality between a player and a team is that of Babe Ruth who ended his career with the Boston Braves when he could no longer hit homers for the Yankees.  Or Johnny Unitas who ended with the San Diego Chargers when he could not throw enough TD passes for the Colts.  The reality is under capitalism, even the all-time greats are mere commodities for the enrichment of the owners.  And yet you can find more needles in a haystack than you can fans that hold never-ending grudges against teams for their lack of loyalty to players.

Chris Rock once declared that men are only as loyal as our opportunities.  That bit of truth is not restricted by gender or other aspects of life to include sports.   So, I urge you KD haters; chill, get your favorite mind-altering substance, plug in some Toni Braxton, and LET IT GO!

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

Bob Dandridge Visits The War Room!

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

BD

Milwaukee Bucks’ legend, Bob Dandridge will be in The War Room this Thursday, June 8th, to discuss a myriad of NBA topics, past and present!

Tune in Thursday, June 8th at 6pm EST to hear our conversation with the NBA Champion/SHOULD-BE Hall of Famer!  To tune in, go to www.WarRoomSports.com and click the “Listen Live” button…or dial 323-410-0012 to listen live by phone.  If you can’t catch us live, listen to the replay at ANY time after the live show on the War Room Sports Podcast Network, at www.WRSPN.com.

In the meantime, join the War Room Sports Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/WarRoomSports to talk sports 24/7 and follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/WarRoomSports (@WarRoomSports)!

Finally, if you own an Android phone or tablet…an I-Phone, I-Pad, or I-Pod, please go to your Google Play Store or Apple App Store and download the FREE War Room Sports mobile app, or get it from the links below!  It’s the VERY BEST way to stay up on all of our media content!

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The Cavalier/LA Conspiracy

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

by Brandon McConnell

Brandon Mac Blog

 

 

 

 

 

DL

The NBA has always been full of conspiracies, for years.  Let us take a look back at some of them.  The Orlando Magic becomes a new franchise and just so happen to get the #1 pick, two years in a row.  The Cleveland Cavaliers happened to get the #1 pick the same year Akron’s own LeBron James is available.  Chicago Bulls just happen to get the #1 pick the year Chicago’s superstar Derrick Rose become eligible for the draft.  Lastly, the Cleveland Cavaliers get three #1 picks after LeBron James leaves to go back to Miami, making it very convenient for him to come back home to a championship contender.

Now for the latest conspiracy.  Lonzo Ball to the Los Angeles Lakers.  This year, the Los Angeles Lakers have the second worst record in the league.  Their pick is only protected if they get a top 3 selection, or the pick goes to the 76ers.  With that being said, the Lakers are obviously trying to lose games in order to be bad enough to get a top three pick.  They got rid of their top scorer, Lou Williams, to the Rockets and now are sitting several veterans in order to assure a bad enough record to align themselves to draft UCLA’s Lonzo Ball.

Nothing in the previous paragraph should be anything new to the average NBA fan.  Now I am going to enlighten you on a conspiracy that no one seems to be talking about.  Everyone has been conversing this week on why the Cavaliers sat their “Big 3” on Saturday night versus the Clippers, on a nationally televised game, but played everyone against the terrible Lakers on Sunday.  Their reason for sitting the “Big 3” was for rest due to back-to -back games, but they didn’t have a game on Friday.  Let me give you a little history about coach Tyronn Lue.  He just so happens to have 2 NBA championship rings as a player, 1 championship ring as an assistant coach, and 1 championship ring as a head coach.  Where did he win his player rings?  You got it, with Shaq and Kobe as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.  Remember the Iverson step over?  Yes, that was Tyronn Lue.  He won his first coaching ring as Doc Rivers’ assistant coach with the Boston Celtics.  Look at any film that year Boston won, that was Tyronn Lue behind Doc Rivers every game.  So, let us break it down.  The Clippers are currently in 5th place in the Western Conference, fighting for a first-round home court advantage, with several other teams to get the 4th spot.  Tyronn, being the nice guy he is, decided to help his mentor Doc Rivers gain a win to help position the Clippers to become a 4th seed while playing his starters and winning Sunday against the terrible Lakers, which helps put them in a better position to get a top 3 draft pick.  A top three pick would allow them to keep the pick and not give it to the 76ers.  If you look back at the previous paragraph, the NBA just so happens to do a good job with allowing the next coming superstar to join their hometown team.  Ask yourself, why don’t you ever see the lottery balls get selected?  So, expect the Lakers to get Lonzo Ball.  Tyronn Lue just happened to be a pawn in what I call “NBA CHESS”.

 

Brandon McConnell, for War Room Sports

The Trouble with G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time) Debates

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

Image via KnowYourMeme.com

Image via KnowYourMeme.com

About a week ago, BEFORE the outcome of the Super Bowl, I made the case against Tom Brady being the G.O.A.T. …or more specifically, against the overly simplistic criteria of Super Bowl rings so many use to come to such a conclusion. Since the Patriots’ improbable comeback, social media has been inundated with claims that it validated his G.O.A.T. status.

 

Even before last week’s win, Brady was well within the conversation…even if the conversation itself is inherently flawed and incomplete. Why? Consider Joe Montana’s response to the question about Tom Brady.

 

“I think that it’s really hard to put anyone in that bucket,” he said. “Even before he got five-you look back to some of the guys some people don’t even know, Sammy Baugh or Otto Graham, I can’t remember which one but one of them won like seven or nine championships and was so far ahead of their time. It’s so hard to compare guys from then to now, how they would compare here and how we would compare back then.”

 

Maybe this is merely one competitor’s refusal to surrender the mythical throne to another, but even if it is, can it be denied that he has a point?

 

Here is the trouble with G.O.A.T. debates: 1) they wreak with recency bias; 2) they lack consideration for era context; and 3) its participants have no way to factor in the eye test.

 

Why are they subject to recency bias? Because it is a natural tendency of human memory. That is precisely why those running for political office try to get the last positive idea about themselves and/or negative idea about their opponent out before the actual election. Whatever is most recent is often deemed “better” or at the very least, most reliable. This is compounded as time goes by. As hard as it might be to comprehend, in 30-40 years some very knowledgeable basketball fans will be having a G.O.A.T. debate and it will not be open and shut that such a title will go to Michael Jordan. In fact, some will not even give MJ proper consideration. As ridiculous as that sounds, trust me, it will happen.

 

Then there is the lack of consideration for the context of eras. Regardless of the sport, different rules and circumstances provide for different challenges. So essentially, the comparisons are next to never “apples to apples”. For example, for most of Mel Blount’s career as the best corner of the 1970s, he could literally maul receivers all over the field until 1978 when the “one chuck within 5 yards” rule was implemented. Add that to the fact that he didn’t have to cover long playing on the back end of the Steelers “Steal Curtain” defense and pass rush. So as great as he was, how does one compare him to Deion Sanders as a cover corner?

 

How does one compare Johnny Unitas to Tom Brady, who faced the same 11 guys on defenses that were far less sophisticated when compared to today’s defenses? But Unitas also had to use receivers that had a much more difficult time getting open then any that Brady has had. Finally, defenders could actually rough up Unitas without getting the flag that they would get today against Brady.

 

The differences cannot be limited to sports factors alone. Our food supplies are different, one could argue for both the better and worst of that supply, I contend has led to bigger and stronger athletes, if not necessarily better. Thus, the more recent era produced a 300+ pounder named Shaquille O’Neal. It’s often said he would have knocked Bill Russel into the second row. But would he have been 300 pounds had he come along during Russel’s era? Would Russel have been a mere 215 pounds had he come up during Shaq’s era? Unless an adjustment is made for both, it’s as a ridiculous comparison as it would be comparing the production of a secretary with a typewriter with one that has a computer. Or the closure rate of a homicide detective with DNA with one before DNA.

 

The last factor in the flawed GOAT debates is the lack of the eye test. This is what stat junkies fall for all the time. Statistics alone do not provide the nuance that only actually watching an athlete does. In other words, consider sports greatness the same as the Supreme Court considers pornography: you may not be able to define it, but you know it when you SEE it.

 

Statistically, some will make the case for Andy Petite being a viable Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF) candidate over other lefthanders such as Mickey Lolich, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, Vida Blue, or David Wells; none of whom are or ever will get into the HOF. I remember all five of them and trust me; Andy Petite, though a very good pitcher for many years, was not as good as any of them.

 

So how can we continue these flawed, but highly entertaining debates? One simple adjustment; instead of declaring who is the G.O.A.T., how about we simply limit it to the G.O.Y.T. or Greatest of Your Time? Under this banner, we are all qualified. Recency bias is not a factor, we can all speak to era context and we limit our assessment to those we have actually seen play.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

City of Atlanta Top 5 Sports Meltdowns

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05:  Devonta Freeman #24 of the Atlanta Falcons and Matt Bosher #5 react after losing to the New England Patriots 34-28 during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

HOUSTON, TX – FEBRUARY 05: Devonta Freeman #24 of the Atlanta Falcons and Matt Bosher #5 react after losing to the New England Patriots 34-28 during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Honorable mention: 1981 Falcons had a 2-touchdown, 4th quarter lead on the Cowboys at home in the NFC playoffs, only to give up 20 4th quarter points and lose 30-27.

 

Honorable mention: 2012 Falcons blow a 17-point lead at home in the NFC championship game, losing to the San Francisco 49ers

 

5) Twins outlast Braves in 7 games of the 1991 World Series on Jack Morris’ 10-inning, 1-0 shutout

ATL #5
4) 1996 Braves bring a 2-0 World Series lead over the “Stankees” back to Atlanta and proceed to lose 4 straight, as the defending champs

ATL #4

 

3) 1998 Falcons lose Super Bowl XXXIII to the Denver Broncos after their safety and NFL Man of the Year gets busted in a prostitution sting on South Beach in Miami, the night before the game

ATL #3

 

2) After winning game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semis in Boston, the 1988 Hawks bring a 3-2 lead back to Atlanta, only to lose in game 6 and then game 7 in Boston, overshadowing one of the greatest basketball duels ever, between Dominique Wilkins and Larry Bird

ATL #2

 

 

And the top Atlanta Sports meltdown of all time is……you know. LOL

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

To Stand or Not to Stand at Sporting Events?

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

NA

On Thursday, I’ll be attending my first Washington Wizards game of the season.   They would be on a 15-game home winning streak as my Lakers roll in to make their one and only DC appearance of the year.  One could make the case that I shouldn’t stand for the National Anthem in protest of how bad my Lakers have been these past 3 years.  But of course the issue is much larger than this notion.

 

Long before Colin Kaepernick decided not to stand for the National Anthem, I was conflicted about the whole issue.  On the one hand, the mere fact that I do have the right “not to stand”, is in of itself, a reason to stand. There is something to be said for that rationale. There certainly are places where if I were to dare not follow the company patriot line, even at a sporting event, I would be subjected to much more than mean stares.  For me, that would be about the extent of my “persecution”, here in America.

 

Then on the other hand, should Black people feel obliged to honor a country that has treated us as it has?  And while that treatment has certainly varied and even subsided over the course of time, only volunteer denial would assert that it has ended.  Would standing be an honor to those before me never afforded full American status, or those who died trying to attain such, or a dishonor?

 

While the decision is personal for all, my conclusion is ultimately this: what good is it to have a “right to protest” and then not use it to raise awareness about the very fragility of one’s life?

 

So there it is.  I will not be standing again anytime soon.

 

Now surely some will read this and will say, “if you don’t like it here leave!”   I will likely take them up on that offer upon retirement.

 

Still others will say, “sports is supposed to be an escape from such issues”.   To a limited extent, it can be.  But when I enter that arena at about 6:59 PM, whatever realities existed about being Black in America will neither be suspended nor dissipate because I stood for the National Anthem.  Likewise, when I leave at about 9:30 PM, those realities will still be here.  In fact, my standing will only co-sign maintaining the status quo.

 

The last most common response is, “I support your right but wish you found another way to do it”.  To that I say, such as what?

 

Voting isn’t enough!

The accumulation of wealth isn’t enough!

Education isn’t enough!

Pulling up your pants in favor of a suit and tie isn’t enough!

And even going to church for Bible study and prayer isn’t enough.

 

While I don’t dismiss all of the above as useless, I do contend that they have all been tried and are simply not enough to address the shameful treatment of Black folks in America since our forced arrival.  So who among us with serious intent to address the problems would offer more of the same solutions?   If we do the same, we’ll get the same.  But if we dare to do something different, at the very least we can spark some conversations that may lead to positive change.

 

The best option as I see it, based on history and my personal experience, is to engage in organized struggle to include protest.  It is neither easy nor simple.  But I see no collective progress made that did not require this, and sports is as viable a venue to spark such struggle as any other.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

Ode to the Birdman

Monday, December 12th, 2016

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

LB

This past Wednesday was the 60th birthday of Larry Bird.

For those of you too young to have actually watched him play, trust me, he was a bad man. Not a

bad man for a white guy. A bad man, period!

I never agreed with the infamous Dennis Rodman statement.

He was not a basketball version of Adele.

Did he have more fans for being a stand out white guy in a “black man’s game”? Of course. But that

speaks to the popularity of white privilege in America. It is neither an indictment or validation of him

as a basketball player any more than Trump’s election is an indication of what kind of statesmen he

is.

But in spite of being a life-long die-hard Laker fan, unlike a certain group of haters today, I have

enough emotional maturity to give credit where credit was due.

The Celtics win over a clearly superior Lakers team in 84 was among the most painful of my sports

life. It does not happen without Larry Bird.

 

That year would be his first of 3 straight MVP years.  While I’ll go to my grave insisting that Bernard

King should have won the 1985 award, Bird’s place in the game was nevertheless secure.

More than a little can be learned about Bird’s mindset and mental toughness coming up when he

would go to Chicago playgrounds where he learned the “city game.” He always expressed

appreciation for being “allowed” to play with them.

Allowed is the right word.

If you know anything about the culture of inner-city basketball, be it in New York, Philly, DC, or Chicago, you know they do not let just anyone play on a regular basis. It’s a sports version of the Apollo and if you can’t cut it, no one is shy or sensitive about letting you know.

The Birdman could clearly cut it as the NBA would soon find out.

So here is an ode to one of the coldest assassin’s in sports history: Larry Joe Bird.

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports