How To Gloat Like A Grown-Up

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The Miami Heat won the NBA championship tonight, and Lebron James sealed the deal with one of the best elimination games ever played. I am very happy about this. I’m also aware that there are very many people very unhappy about this. Some of these very unhappy people have been obnoxiously vocal for quite a while. Naturally, it is very tempting to tease, mock, and ridicule them.

Happy Heat fan or not, we’ve all been in this situation way before, where something goes your way, shutting up an avalanche of (I hate using this word, but no other word is appropriate) haters. But, while everything in you wants to scream “I TOLD YOU SO, MOTHERF*CKERS!!!” you know that might not be completely appropriate…and you want to do something a little more subtle to twist the knife even more.

How exactly do you get the most out of your gloating experience, while still maintaining a level of grown-upness? Good question. Fortunately, I have some answers.

1. When first encountering a hater after your successful endeavor, they hater will expect you to gloat. Why? Well, that’s what he would do. You’re better than that, though, so make sure to talk about any and everything except what he expects you to talk about. 

Why? Well, true haters are reflexively defensive, and they’re waiting for you to gloat just so they can do or say something dismissive. But, if you talk to them and don’t bring up your successful endeavor at all, they won’t know what to do with themselves, and it may even cause headaches, drowsiness, and random bouts of incontinence.

2. If still interacting with your hater, give back-handed compliments and acknowledgements while adopting the most sincere demeanor you can muster.

Example: “Being so close to winning has to help motivate you during this long summer, right? I seriously envy the fire you must have right now. I wish I had it too.”

3. Give an unnecessarily generous amount of credit to the people in the way of you achieving your goal, while making sure the hater is in earshot.

Let’s say you’re in the office talking to a colleague the day after you finally received that big promotion you’ve been hoping for, and the dude who’s been the leader of the “anti-you” camp is in the next cubicle, silently steaming.

You: “I mean, I know I got the job, but wow, there were some great candidates. I have no idea why they’d even pick me. All praise to Allah.”

Co-worker: “You deserved it, man. I’m proud of you.”

You: “I’ve really been blessed, you know? The other day at church, as I prayed for the other candidates, I asked God to be fair and just pick the right person for the job.”

Co-worker: “Church? Didn’t you just say all praise to Allah?” 

You: “Yeah, I did. Sorry. These blessings Buddha continues to bestow on me just have me all discombobulated. As good as God is, I don’t see how anyone can have any hate in their heart after bathing in His glory.”

4. After a couple days have passed and the hater thinks he has somehow managed to escape the gloat, make sure to look like this…

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…every time you see him. 

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

A Beginner’s Guide To Watching Game Seven Of The NBA Finals

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Hello, everyone. My name is Damon. I’m from Pittsburgh, PA, I’m currently irrationally upset at myself for taking 33 years to discover the awesomeness of shrimp and grits (Seriously, why didn’t anyone tell me about this???), and I’m most likely the biggest NBA fan any of you know.

Tonight is game seven of the NBA finals. I imagine that many of you will be watching. It’s likely that some of you are NBA novices. For others, this may even be the first game you’ve watched all season.

Welcome!

Now that we’ve gotten that welcoming shit out of the way, I’m here today to give you all a quick and easy guide to ensure that watching tonight’s game will be an informed, engaging, and all around fun experience for all involved.

1. Shut the f*ck up

There’s nothing wrong with being an NBA novice. Basketball isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so it’s perfectly understandable if you just don’t happen to possess a working soul or the mental and emotional capacity needed to appreciate it. Different strokes and shit.

Anyway, novices are basically tourists. And, while there’s nothing wrong with being either, there is something wrong with being a tourist who acts like they’re f*cking tour guides. Basically, now is not the time to start arguments about shit you know absolutely nothing about but think you might know something about cause you happened to watch First Take yesterday morning. You wouldn’t go to the Guggenheim and start debating curators during exhibits just because you happened to read a damn pamphlet about Frank Lloyd Wright would you? Own your tourism by cheering, asking appropriate questions, and respecting the fact that you don’t know shit. The tour guides you’re watching the game with will appreciate it.

I understand that shutting the f*ck up may be difficult if you’re an opinionated person who is used to each of your generally inessential opinions being acknowledged. But…I don’t care. Shut the f*ck up.

2. You should be aware that Lebron James is the most important athlete of the 21st century, and by rooting against him, you’re kinda rooting for White supremacy. 

He is not the most famous. (Michael Jordan still is.) He’s also probably not the most dominant at his sport. (That would likely be a five way tie between Serena Williams, Floyd Mayweather, Usain Bolt, Lionel Messi, and Mizz Twerksum.)

Lebron, though, is important for the same reasons he’s so polarizing.

A) There’s no other famous person (maybe President Obama and maybe Kanye West) who consistently provides an equal amount of perfectly useable ammo for both his fans and his detractors. There’s also no other famous person whose legacy is defined, erased, rewritten, redefined, erased again, and redefined again every time he performs. Basically, he is the world’s greatest troll.

B) Most of the animus towards him stems from being in complete control of his career. Yes, there are people who may have a distaste for his game or his on-court demeanor, but the epicenter of the Lebron hate is largely due to him stacking the deck in his favor—something a player/worker bee isn’t supposed to be able to do—and possibly winning—something someone arrogant enough to stack the deck in his favor also isn’t supposed to do.

You know which demographic is mostly likely to hold the most hateful feelings towards him? I won’t name any names, but it’s the same demographic that’s mostly likely to have negative feelings about empowered Black men, and I will say that it rhymes with “bright fen.”

It’s not that all bright fen hate Lebron, or even that race plays a significant role in every bright fen’s feelings. But, if you decide to root against him tonight, ask yourself if you’re really comfortable having the exact same rooting interest of every racist bright fan anxiously waiting for him to receive his comeuppance.

3. There will be a group of very tall guys wearing black uniforms on the court with the Heat tonight. They are called the “San Antonio Spurs.” They are very, very, very good at playing basketball. 

Please remember this.

4. Basketball is not football

It is better. Please remember this as well.

5. Regardless of who wins or loses tonight, there will be at least one person in your viewing party who will blame the outcome on the referees. 

If you are a woman, make sure to never accept a drink, date, or compliment from this man. If you are a man, make sure to never let this man borrow a pencil or order a pizza with your debit card.

(Each of these also apply to men at sports bars wearing game jerseys with no t-shirt underneath.)

Thank you for reading. If you’re a beginner, and you have any other questions about the NBA finals, email me at contact@verysmartbrothas.com. When receiving the email, I will reply sarcastically, asking you why I’d answer your questions when I just wrote an 800 word long post about it, and then I’ll send you a picture of an orange. 

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Why Women With High Sex Drives Scare The F*ck Out Of (Some) Men

Before careful what you wish for...

Be careful what you wish for…

As I type this, the San Antonio Spurs are a quarter away from winning the NBA championship¹. Aside from the fact that they basically play perfect offense—and aside from the fact that someone obviously injected Danny Green with shark blood before the series started—much of their success is due to the style of defense they’re playing on Dwyane Wade and, most importantly, Lebron James. There are quite a few complexities involved, but it basically comes down to crowding the lane and forcing Wade and James to beat them by shooting semi-contested jumpshots. They’ve struggled (at times), and (at times) the Heat’s offense has struggled with them.

From a logical point of view, these should be relatively easy shots. There are instances where the Spurs are playing a half-dozen feet off of James and Wade when they receive the ball, and anyone who’s watched either of them play have seen them each hit hundreds—thousands even—of much more difficult jumpshots.

But, as someone who has played before—and is prone to somewhat streaky shooting—those “easy” shots can actually end up being the hardest shots you can actually take. You’re so used to having to work to even get a decent look at the hoop that when someone basically says “Go ahead, shoot. I won’t even bother you. Be my guest” it can mess with your mind and make you uncharacteristically passive. Basically, it flips the dynamic you’re used to and have spent countless hours preparing for.

Some players welcome this change. Some adjust quickly. Some are slow learners. And, some never learn.

Anyway, watching Wade and James take turns trying to solve this “easy” defense makes me wonder if some men really know what they’re asking for when they say sh*t like they “wish more women approached” or that they want women to have the “exact same types of sexual urges, desires, and drives as a (stereotypically) typical man.” (They actually already kinda do, but that’s another topic for another day.)

Just as the shots attempted by Wade and James seem easy and more attractive, I’m sure they imagine an “easier” navigation through the dating and relationship morass as women adopt certain roles traditionally held by men. But, a shift in that dynamic results in other, less attractive shifts, including the fact that if women were to collectively wake up tomorrow morning and start acting more like “men,” men would have to start to fulfill certain duties traditionally expected of women.

These duties include:

Seeing our mate value disproportionately tied to how physically attractive we can stay for the first, I don’t know, 60 or so years of our lives. No more couch-potatoing. No more letting ourselves go. No more hanging around and hoping she eventually grows on you. No more being a 4 or 5 and still having a somewhat realistic shot at locking down a 7 or 8.

Learning how to deal with being relentlessly approached, propositioned, pulled, whispered to and hollered at by women you’re not attracted to (…and not being approached by the ones you actually are attracted to)

Of course, many men don’t think about this. They think that a women being more “male-like” sexually means that the woman they’re currently involved with will want to have more sex with him, not considering the fact if she were more male-like—and was turned on by the same things he’s turned on by—she may have never even given him the time of day. Just because she’s more open about wanting it doesn’t mean you’re the one she actually wants it from.

Also, as I’ve stated numerous times before, we (men) tend to talk a pretty good game. But, as I’m sure many women with higher libidos will tell you, possessing that level of sexual drive/confidence has a tendency to make men passive. Not all men, obviously. But, for all the sh*t we talk about putting it down and breaking backs and laying pipe, encountering a woman who’s a bit more aggressive than we’re used to can trigger an anxiety that passifies instead of arouses. I remember the first time a woman told me that she wanted to sleep with me (Her exact words: “I’m going to f*ck you tonight”) and I honestly had no f*cking clue how to react to that. I think I might have even giggled. And farted².

I know evidence based on personal experience doesn’t really count. But, although anecdote doesn’t really count either, stories I’ve heard from women and men both tell me that type of reaction is more common than we (men) let on. There are a couple possible reasons for this passivity, but I think it has more to do with performance anxiety than anything else. Basically, instead of the main effort being “getting her in bed,” when meeting a woman who possesses the same type of sexual aggression we tend to associate with men, there’s more implied (and, occasionally, just outright demanded) pressure to perform well.

Some men welcome this change. Some adjust quickly. Some are slow learners. And, some never learn. All, though, need to be mindful of the same quote.

“Be careful what you wish for, cause you just might get it.”

¹I started typing this when the fourth quarter started, thinking that I’d be able to write while watching the game (Ha!) and not realizing that I was about to witness the most nerve-wracking 17 minutes of basketball I’ve ever seen. 

2. We did eventually sleep together that night, so I guess I did manage to redeem myself. Either that or the fact that the only thing that scared me more than she did was word of me being scared getting out on campus. 

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Yeezus’s New Slave

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After making a few jump shots in a row, occasionally Lebron James will race down court the next time he gets the ball and shoot an uncontested 35 to 40 footer with 20 seconds left on the shot clock (watch from 0:29 to 0:59 here for an example). For those not familiar with basketball, doing this is the equivalent of approaching your manager to ask for a raise and your own parking spot, receiving both, and then approaching him later that day to ask for a blow job.

In basketball terminology this is known as a “heat check.” Basically, you’re doing something seemingly outrageous to test the limits of how far your “hot” streak will go.

This idea isn’t limited to basketball. Pop culture is filled with popular artists heat-checking themselves, and Erykah Badu’s Window Seat vid is another example of that.

While many have lauded this as ultra-creative, paradigm shifting, envelope pushing, and iconoclastic, personally, I just think it’s her way of saying “I’m Erykah f*cking Badu. I have millions of die-hard fans, I single-handedly made a jersey-rocking rapper from Atlanta start dressing like a drag-queen mannequin at an H&M fashion show, and I have a fat ass. I’m bored, I can do whatever the hell I want, and my fans will still love me. Creative schmeative“

I wrote this three years ago, as the beginning to a post about Erykah Badu’s Window Seat video. Aside from adding my own interpretation of Badu’s motives for creating this video, I somewhat condescendingly imply that her diehard fans are incapable of being objective when assessing her work.

I felt the same way while attending an event at the Andy Warhol Museum last weekend. That Warhol was a visionary deserving of all lauds and accolades is undeniable. But, the visit just reinforced the fact that when certain people reach a certain stature, anything they do is accepted as genius, including some things that garner “Wows” when they should be receiving a chorus of “WTFs.”

I guess you can argue that status is earned. If a newly found, ketchup-stained napkin with Warhol’s signature on it is able to command 1.6 million dollars at an auction, this says more about the transcendent force of Warhol’s talent that anything else. His resume allows him to receive the benefit of the doubt.

But, the person actually making that purchase allows himself to be gamed by a person’s name instead of making an honest assessment of the actual product. And, not only are they lying to themselves, they perform the worst type of self-delusion—one where a person is completely aware of the lie they’re telling themselves, but they’re completely sold on selling it to themselves anyway. They’ve fully bought in to the bullshit, and when you buy bullshit that you literally saw drop out of a cow’s ass, you have no integrity. You make yourself a slave to a person instead of what that person creates and/or what they represent.

Anyway, I downloaded Kanye West’s Yeezus Friday, and have listened to it approximately 10 times since. It is an incoherent, jumbled, rhythm-adverse, pretentious, pseudo-intellectual, racist, and misogynistic mess. It may very well be the first major label hip-hop album that caused listeners actual physical pain while listening to it.

I’m also in love with it.

The irony isn’t lost on me.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Why Beyonce Has To Tell Bitches To Bow Down (…And Why Lebron Doesn’t)

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There is a sizable percentage of sports fans who steadfastly believe that Lebron James will never be as good as or better at basketball than Michael Jordan was. Note, I didn’t say “believe that Lebron James is currently as good as or better than Michael Jordan.” No, these people believe that Lebron is completely incapable of ever reaching that status. There is literally nothing he can do to change their minds.

The reasons for this belief vary. Some provide factual arguments. (Jordan never lost in the NBA Finals. Lebron has already lost twice.) Some prefer to craft their arguments around style/aesthetics. (Jordan’s game was more graceful and seemed a bit more refined than Lebron’s.) Some even get caught up in selective nostalgia. (The faultiest argument, these are the type of people who discount anything that happens now because things were “better” back in the day.)

The most common argument, though, is based on something that’s both completely intangible and completely true: Jordan was, by all accounts, an uber-competitive asshole who’d cut his own mother’s throat to win a hand in spades. Lebron, by all accounts, is competitive enough, but not nearly as competitive as Jordan.

And, the argument states, since he’s not that type of competitor—since he doesn’t have that same killer instinct—he’ll never be able to match or exceed Michael.

At this point, you might be wondering why I’d include Beyonce in the title of a piece comparing Michael Jordan to Lebron James. “Perhaps” you might be thinking “he originally wanted to write about Beyonce, changed his mind, but forgot to change the title. That damn Champ is a rascal!”

Well, Beyonce has been on my mind since the oft-talked about release of Bow Down/I Been On. As alluded to last week, the reaction to the song has been more interesting than the song itself, and one of the main reactions has been, simply, confusion.

“In the last two years, Beyonce has given birth to her first child, performed at the Super Bowl and the President’s inauguration, and signed multi-million dollar contracts with Pepsi and H&M (among others). Oh, and she also has a devoted fanbase anxiously anticipating her every move, is worth a couple hundred million dollars, and is married to man worth more. She’s at the top of the world. Why the hell is she worried about haters, bitches, and hating-ass bitches?”

I won’t pretend that I know exactly what makes Beyonce tick. But, from what I know of her, it seems like she has the exact same thing driving her that seemed to drive Michael Jordan: Insecurity. Not “insecurity” in terms of a lack of self-esteem or self-belief. But, the type of insecurity that makes someone perpetually worried about competitors. The type of insecurity that makes someone so consumed with being the best and with having everyone agree that they’re the best that they actively search for slights to motivate them. And, if these slights don’t exist, they invent them.

This is what makes someone sing an impromptu acapella national anthem just to prove to everyone that they can actually to it—even though no one actually doubted that they could. It’s what causes a man to go out of his way to dominate a person who had the misfortune of dating the man’s wife before he even knew she existed!

This way of thinking isn’t limited to Beyonce and Michael Jordan, either. There are multiple accounts of how Steve Jobs’ motivation and creativity stemmed from him being consumed with other companies somehow catching up to Apple. He drove as hard as he did not because of a joy of innovation but because he believed he needed to be that way to stay ahead. He felt that his company’s—and, by extension, his own—status was tenuous, and he was willing to so whatever he could to maintain it. This “drive” regularly resulted in him insulting and publicly humiliating members of his own team.

Jobs is just one example, and I could probably list dozens more. People so obsessed with maintaining their place and position that they sacrifice a bit of their humanity in the process. Naturally, when people who act this way happen to be successful, we have the tendency to attach a certain romanticism to it.

“So what if Michael Jordan put rat poison in Karl Malone’s Gatorade? He’s a winner, and that’s what winners need to do to win! Maybe if you put rat poison in your bosses’ coffee, you’d finally get a promotion.” 

Sometimes this romanticism is taken to an extreme. We start to believe that being completely consumed with beating everyone else, with having a “killer instinct,” with being a queen who needs to remind others to “bow down,” isn’t just a way to be successful, it’s the only way. 

This takes us back to Lebron.

As mentioned earlier, I do know there is a widely-held belief that he’s not a “killer” the same way Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, or, shit, Beyonce is. And, while a “killer instinct” is an immeasurable quality, there are certain things a person can do or not do to indicate whether they possess it. Those believing Lebron doesn’t commonly cite him joining up with Dwyane Wade as proof. Basically, Jordan never would have volunteered to team up with a rival because he would have been too focused on beating him.

I agree. Jordan would not have done that. If you believe that and you’re reading this, you’re probably also thinking that what Lebron did shows more “insecurity” than anything Jordan has ever done. But, when you start thinking of Lebron in terms of what a regular human being would do/think instead of how we’ve been conditioned to believe how “successful” people are supposed to act/think, his actions seem more, well, “secure.”

Lebron doesn’t actually have any rivals. The media and some fans might try to push certain narratives, but from every reasonable and objective measurement, he’s been the best basketball player on Earth for (at least) the last four years. Jordan also had that title while he was in his prime. But, the difference between him and Lebron is that Lebron doesn’t seem to have the same need to prove it. Knowing you’re already peerless allows you to look at people like D. Wade and Chris Bosh as friends who could help him achieve a goal and have some fun instead of rivals that need vanquished. It allows you the belief in yourself to make the right basketball play instead of attempting to mimic the style of “hero ball” expected of you. It lets you invite the guy who’s supposed to be your rival for the next decade to workout together and learn from each other.

As I type this, the Miami Heat are coming off of their 26th consecutive win. Lebron was two rebounds shy of a triple double. He will win his 4th MVP this spring, and, barring injury, he should win his second NBA title. He is also 28 years old, which means he has a good four or five more years with the “best in the world” crown, more than enough time to collect more MVPs and championships.

He will still never be like Mike or Steve or Beyonce. Neither will most of us. But—as he continues to prove—you can be the best at what you do and still be human too.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)