Things I Havent Heard Anyone Say About Jeremy Lin Yet

***Flashback to last Saturday***

Background: It’s my dad’s birthday, and I let my mom know that I got them tickets to see The Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra. After giving her the particulars (show starts at 8, tickets are under my name, etc), the conversation segued to a surprising place.

Mom: “So, Melo’s coming back soon, huh?”

Champ: “Huh?”

Mom: “Melo.” 

Champ: “Mom, what are you talking about?”

Mom: “Carmelo Anthony. He’s supposed to be coming back soon. Do you think he’s going to be able to fit in with Jeremy Lin?”

Now, my mom never played sports herself, but she has a general understanding of the rules of each of the major sports, and she knows who the stars (and each of the Steelers) are. Basically, she isn’t one of those people who’d say something like “Oooh, nice dunk!” while watching a football game. I mean, when you have a son and a husband who are diehard sports junkies, I guess you can’t help but become a fan as well.

With that being said, I realized exactly how much hype and attention New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin has received when I saw that it managed to turn my mom into Stephen A. Smith. A woman who, just a few months ago, asked me to demonstrate for her exactly what “pick and roll” means is now asking me if “Melo” is going to ruin the Knicks’ chemistry and if he’s just a bad fit for D’Antoni’s offense.

Now, in the past couple weeks I’ve had various people ask for my take on Linsanity. I didn’t really want to write about it though, because, well, everyone else is, and I just couldn’t think of an interesting and unique angle I could take.

But, after thinking about it for a few days, there are actually a few things I haven’t heard anyone say about him yet. Not to say that they haven’t been said. I just haven’t personally seen or read them.

Here’s five of them.

1. The person who has the most to lose with Linsanity? Either Derrick Rose or Dwyane Wade.

Although the NFL is the undisputed king among professional sports in America, once you leave North American soil, the NBA is the American sports league that travels the best. China is a perfect example of this, as the NBA is the most popular sports league in the world’s biggest country.

Where do Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose fit into all of this? Well, when the NBA decided to allow fans to vote for All-Star starters online, Chinese fans took advantage of this, stuffing the ballot boxes so that Yao Ming and his Houston Rockets teammate, Tracy McGrady, were starters for the West every year. Since Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady happened to be the Western Conference’s best players at their respective positions (center and small forward) at that time, it was no big deal.

But, while it’s too late for Lin to be voted in as a starter in this year’s All-Star game, there’s absolutely no chance in hell that he won’t be picked as a starter next year. And, since he’s starting, either D. Wade or Derrick Rose won’t be. In fact, even if he starts sucking, you could probably pencil Lin in as an All-Star starter for the next four or five years.

Hmm. In a league where star players are obsessed with their legacies  — and “How many All-Star games did he start when he was in his prime?” is a question people ask when trying to determine a player’s legacy — I wonder how guards clearly better than Lin are going to feel when realizing he’s going to be starting ahead of them for years to come.

2. This could not have happened anywhere other than New York City.

People have argued that the Linsanity craze wouldn’t have happened if he happened to be in a city like Milwaukee or Memphis or Cleveland or Detroit. I agree, but for different reasons. I don’t think he’d be playing as well as he has been if he was in one of those cities. 

It’s been repeated ad nauseum that the Knicks were a perfect fit for him. Perfect coach for him to play for, perfect offense for him to run, perfect group of teammates for him to play with, and even a perfect time for him to play (His start coincidentally happened when Carmelo Anthony sat out a few games due to injury. If Melo never gets injured, Linsanity never happens)

But, as much as each of those things have helped him succeed, him being in New York F*cking City matters even more. Lin is clearly a guy who feeds off the crowd’s energy when he’s playing. Not to say that he doesn’t have genuine confidence, but the type of fearlessness (and occasional recklessness) he plays with gets a boost when you have 20,000 raucous people anticipating your every move. Madison Square Garden is the only NBA arena where 1. he’d get that type of environment and 2. the fans are knowledgeable enough to know that he needs it.

It’s obviously carried over. He has played well on the road since he became a starter. But, I just don’t think he’d have built the type of confidence to do this in Toronto if he didn’t get his initial boost in New York…and I’m sure he wouldn’t have had Raptors fans cheering for him.

3. 2011-2012 has seen a resurgence of “natural-born basketball playing” point guards. 

While they’re all great basketball players, you can argue that Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and John Wall are athletes first. (You can also argue that John Wall is far, far, far, far, far away from being a great NBA player, but that’s another discussion for another day) Each of those guys are so athletic that they would have been great at any sport, and each of them, even MVP Rose, are still learning how to play point guard.

Yet, as Rose and Westbrook have made many assume that you need to be an amazing athlete to be a top-notch point guard today, with Jeremy Lin, Kyrie Irving (who I told y’all about two years ago), and Ricky Rubio, you have a trio of new to the NBA point guards; natural born basketball players who are succeeding despite not being world-class athletes. Of the three, Irving is (obviously) my favorite — a 19 year old (!!!) who literally has no offensive weaknesses — but I see pieces of each of them in each of their games, and this excites me as a basketball fan.

4. Jeremy Lin is handsome. This matters. 

As any sociologist will tell you, we’re hardwired to give attractive people certain advantages we don’t extend as easily to others. We assume they’re smarter, stronger, more confident, and more worthy of our trust and support. It’s no accident that most NFL quarterbacks would be considered attractive men even if they weren’t football players. In many cases, they were groomed to be quarterbacks at a young age in large part because they “looked the part” and coaches assumed they’d have the charisma and confidence to lead the rest of the team.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, there are many parallels between Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow. Both have experienced unexpected success, both captivated the nation, and both will tell you that their success is in large part due to their Christian faith. And, just how I’d argue that Tebow wouldn’t have been as popular if he looked like, I don’t know, John C. Reilly, (In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that if Tim Tebow looked like John C. Reilly, he wouldn’t have been Tim Tebow: Star Quarterback at all), the fact that Jeremy Lin looks like he could be an American Apparel model has given Linsanity a boost that may not have occurred if he was plainer looking.

5. It’s been interesting watching people try to find parallels for Lin’s unexpected ascent. But, everyone seems to be missing the most obvious choice.

He’s been compared to Tim Tebow, Flip Murray, Billy Ray Bates, Fernando Venezuela, Tiger Woods, Yao Ming, and pretty much any other athlete who either 1. came out of nowhere to play at an all-star level for an extended period of time, 2. succeeded at a sport despite not having the racial makeup and background of the people who usually succeeded at that sport, or 3. became a national craze.

But, there’s a (seemingly) obvious name I haven’t heard yet, a person who managed to captivate the nation in a historic fashion despite having a funny name, an unusual background, and a chorus of haters who maintain that his success is only due to his race.

Hmm. Who could I possibly be talking about? I’ll give you one hint: They went to the same school. 

That’s enough Linsanity for me. People of VSB, what are you thoughts on the Jeremy Lin phenomenon? Do you think he’ll be a short-lived flash in the pan, or do you see his success continuing?

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

10 Things You Need To Know About The 2010-2011 NBA Season


Between Miami’s two and a half “kings”, the Lakers quest for three consecutive rings, The Big Constipation and the rest of the entire Wu-Tang Clan in Boston, Durant’s ascension, Orlando’s perpetual Orlandoness, the uncertain futures of Carmelo and Chris Paul, and, unfortunately, the seemingly imminent lockout, I can’t remember an NBA season with as many genuinely compelling story lines and potential narratives.

Before watching the Heat open the year tonight at Boston, here’s 10 things you need to know about the upcoming NBA season.

1. Lebron James has a chance to simultaneously be the most overhyped and the most underrated player in the NBA

The myriad reasons why Lebron Ramone James is overhyped have been repeated, regurgitated, re-swallowed, and regurgitated again ad nauseum , and I feel no need to reiterate. (This commerical does a great job parodying it, though) At this point, screaming “Lebron” in a crowded building is likely to cause more mayhem than screaming “fire”.

But, somewhere between The Decision, the ongoing reaction(s) to The Decision, and the summer of Durant, people have seem to forgotten exactly how historically great of a basketball player Lebron has been. And, although I’m aware “overhyped” and “underrated” seem to contradict, when a 25 year old athlete with back to back MVP’s in his pocket is regarded by many as a “Robin” to another player’s “Batman” (My two words on that train of thought? Either “Nigga please” or “Nigga, STFU”), black becomes white, yin f*cks yang, and the extraordinarily overhyped becomes underrated.

2. If there was ever an NBA team that deserved the Hard Knocks treatment, it’s the 2010-2011 Boston Celtics

Between The Big Constipation’s (because at this point in his career, Shaq is basically just full of shit) hijinks, Paul Pierce’s strangely intriguing perpetual half beard, KG’s strangely intriguing perpetual Wesley Pipes impersonation, Nate Robinson doing Nate Robinson things, Big Baby’s breasts, Jesus, Delonte West’s on-going struggle with bipolar disorder, Delonte West’s on-going struggle with not taking Jesus’s surprisingly milfy mother out for a nice seafood dinner and never calling her again, Doc Rivers’ voice, Rajon Rondo’s indiscreet otherworldliness, and the fact that this might be the single richest team in the history of professional sports (if you’re bored and you feel like hating your life, do some research on how much money Shaq, KG, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Jermaine O’Neal have made in their careers) who wouldn’t watch an unscripted and uncensored behind the scenes documentary about this team????

3. Blake Griffin seems poised to replace Jason Kidd and Deron Williams as the league’s preeminent Mulatto-American superstar

Combining a level of above the rim violence not seen since pre-1994 Shawn Kemp with a level of stone-faced kamikaze not seen since pre-”My name is MY NAME!” Marlo Stanfield, Los Angeles Clippers rookie forward Blake Griffin is, to quote Nicki Minaj, a motherf*ckin monster, and only The Clippers Curse can stop his reign.

Also, it’s going to be quite interesting watching Clippers games this season and listening to analysts trip themselves up while trying to find someone to compare Griffin to. As any veteran sports follower knows, there seems to be an unspoken rule stating that white players can only be compared to other white players, and black players can only be compared to other black players. Case in point: Since Griffin is biracial, he’s usually compared to Carlos Boozer—the only other muscular and light-skinned all-star caliber power forward in the NBA—when his game is actually much more similar to Amare Stoudamaire’s.

This phenomenon also applies to Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (usually compared to Reggie Miller—another thin, light skinned shooter—when his game is actually more similar to Steve Nash’s) and Memphis Grizzles center Hasheem Thabeet (usually compared to Dikembe Mutombo—another 7 foot plus, African shot-blocker—-when his game is actually more similar to a pile of horse shit’s)

4. You will see much, much more of Kevin Durant this season (on Sportcenter, in commercials, on magazine covers, etc), and you will be very bothered by the fact that he never seems to brush his hair

Trust me.

You’ll also see much more of the following players (in parentheses are things that will probably bother you about them)

Chris Bosh (his relatively unmasculine gait. he runs and looks exactly how you’d imagine a velocipede would run and look if it was from Texas and had an automatic 15 foot jumpshot)

Mike Miller (he never misses any shots, but he also never takes any shots. this will confuse and annoy you as much as it confuses and annoys me)

Russell Westbrook (how much better he is than Derrick Rose, and why you seem to be the only person who feels that way)

Steve Blake (the fact that you won’t be able to put your finger on why he looks like the type of white guy who only dates black women)

5. John Wall is more Dwyane Wade than Derrick Rose

From his ability to impact a game defensively and his deceptively long strides to his ability to shift his momentum on a dime and his innate sense of the moment, Washington Wizards rookie point guard John Wall reminds me much more of a younger D. Wade than the player he’s most compared to, (slightly overrated) Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose.

With that being said, both Wall and Rose do share a spot on the starting line-up of the all-NBA team of “Players You Do Not Want To Put a Microphone in Front Of, Under Any Circumstances. I won’t say that listening to both of these dudes speak is like listening to Waka Flocka Flames recite the Pledge of Allegiance…in German, but listening to both of these dudes speak is like listening to Waka Flocka Flames recite the Pledge of Allegiance…in German.

6. Carmelo Anthony’s wife, TV personality Alani “Lala” Vasquez, is (all of a sudden) extremely good-looking

I have no idea when, where, how, or why this happened. All I know is I accidentally happened upon an episode of  “La La’s Full Court Wedding” last weekend, and I was shocked at how good looking Lala was. It’s not even that I thought Lala used to be an unattractive woman, but she mysteriously went from “She’s nice looking” to “If I didn’t know who she was, I’d be asking myself ‘Who the F*ck is that?‘ right now”

Just to see if I wasn’t imagining things, I asked Panama—who’s basically the black Simon Cowell when it comes to women’s physical attractiveness—if I was the only one who noticed this unforeseen and unprecedented development, and he agreed that she inexplicably got much, much more attractive seemingly overnight.

What makes this information relevant to an NBA preview?

Well, there’s been a rumor floating around all preseason that Carmelo Anthony wants out of Denver, and New York seems to be his preferred destination. Why New York? Well, aside from the fact that he’d be a perfect fit in Mike D’Antoni’s offense, Lala apparently wants to live in New York City because it would be easier for her to continue to be a relevant TV personality there than in Denver. And, after watching a few minutes of “La La’s Full Court Wedding“, trust me when I tell you that if Lala wants Melo to force a trade so they can move to New York City, Melo is definitely going to force a trade so they can move to New York City.

The Melo to NYC rumor actually segues to number seven…

7. Superteams—like the Heat, the Celtics, the Lakers, and the Knicks (if they manage to land both Melo and Chris Paul)—are good for the league.

While professional parity—the idea that any team in any season has a chance to compete for a playoff spot and/or championship—is one of the NFL’s calling cards, the NBA is a star-driven league that thrives when there is a distinct upperclass, a pseudo-competitive middle class, and a lower class that should basically just kill themselves. Basically, while the NFL sells itself as an 80′s era Soviet Union, the NBA strives to be, well, America.

But, although the Heat, the Lakers, the Celtics, the Magic, and the Thunder (yes, the Thunder) are the only teams with a chance in hell of winning a championship this year, there at least a dozen other lower to working middle-class teams still worth your attention. Of these, my favorites are the Spurs (because the best basketball player the city of Pittsburgh has produced in the last 30 years happens to play for them), the Kings (because of the single most intimidating guard I’ve seen in the NBA since Gary Payton), the Grizzlies (O.J. Mayo and I have a history), and the Cavs (ha! just seeing if you were still paying attention)

8. There’s a strong chance this NBA season will break all types of attendance, ratings, merchandise, and interest level records. There’s also a slight to strong likelihood that, following this outstanding season, the NBA might be dumb enough to have a lockout.


9. The Orlando Magic will continue to be the least exciting “exciting” team in the NBA

On paper, the Orlando Magic seem to have every characteristic you’d need when making a check list for an exciting NBA team.

A ridiculously athletic center/Jesus freak/porn star stalker who dunks everything and blocks shots into the third row? Check

An smorgasbord of three-point marksmen? Check

The best dunker in the history of the planet Earth (and any other planets where they happen to play basketball)? Check

A charismatic, Philly-bred point guard with an And-1 caliber handle and a bevy of equally charismatic tattoos? Check

A “You know, he’s actually really not that bad” white guy from Duke? Check

Afro-clad French-Africans? Check

Polish men who look like they can star in the sequel to High Tension? Check

A head coach who happens to look exactly like the most famous male porn star of all-time? Check

Yet, despite filling every conceivable “how to build an exciting team” box, the Magic remain one of the boringest teams in the NBA. This “good on paper” ness also applies to their seasons, as they’re the one team in the league that doesn’t seem to have any real flaws, but their lack of, I don’t know, something keeps them in a never-ending “win 60 games, get love from stat geeks and chicks obsessed with Superman’s arms, win a first round playoff series no one will watch, lose to the team that’ll eventually win the championship” loop that probably won’t change or end until Vince Carter’s hymen grows back.

10. The Lakers are still the favorites

As much as I’d like to see the Heat run roughshod through the entire league, I just can’t ignore the fact that the two-time defending champions actually got better. While Kobe continues his barely perceptible (but very real) decline, the parts surrounding the Black Mamba got much more fierce. The Ugliest Gasol brother is still the most skilled big man in the league, Andrew Bynum is still tall as f*ck, Ron Artest is still heavily medicated, and the severly underappreciated Lamar Odom is still married to the best looking man I’ve ever seen. I especially like the addition of Basketball Wivesbeater Matt Barnes, who’ll be a decided upgrade from the Vujacic/Walton buffet of shit they’ve included in their rotation for the past several years.

As much as it pains me to say it (seriously. my hand started convulsing while writing this sentence), all signs point to us saying “Queensbridge!!!” again in late June. I just hope the two kings and the komodo dragon can prove me wrong.

—The Champ

5 Reasons Why The NBA is Better Than The NFL

I started calling myself “The Champ” in February of 2006, a week or so after the Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl XL. At first it was a bit of tongue-in-cheek homage to a Bill Simmons joke–after he won a fantasy football championship, he started referring to himself as “The Champ” for a year –but the name (obviously) stuck with me.  I didn’t mind though. The Steelers have so permeated my fabric that the idea of permanently adopting a Steeler-based pseudonym seemed (and still seems) perfectly normal.

But, as this NFL season approaches, I’ve come to realize my affection for the black and gold isn’t extended to the league as a whole. Sure, I enjoy watching professional football, but when the Steelers aren’t playing, it doesn’t completely consume me in the way it does much of America. Wait, let me rephrase that. It doesn’t completely consume me in the way the NBA does.

You know, it’s interesting being a diehard NBA fan these days. Despite the fact that everything from the overall talent level to the television ratings has been steadily increasing for the past decade, the league is still faced with a ton of negative (and contradictory) PR¹.

Depending on who you talk to, there’s either too much defense or too much offense, the games are too boring or the games are too filled with highlights, the players are too soft or the players are too thuggish, the league is too Euro or the league is too urban, and usually these pointed complaints are made by people who say they don’t actually watch the games.

Seriously, defending the NBA today is like dating a great woman who everyone thinks has been around, even though nobody has ever actually met anyone she’s been with.

Admittedly, I have a few biases. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I played college basketball. Also, my father (and one of my uncles) played college ball as well, my closest friend coaches pro ball in Europe, and I have a cousin who’s played in the NBA. I’m a stone-cold hoops junkie surrounded by stone-cold hoops junkies.

Biases aside, it’s still easy for me to find 5 reasons why the NBA is just better than the NFL.

1. The players have actual power

In the NFL, the (primarily black) athletes are the working class while the (overwhelmingly white) coaches, management, and ownership serve as the aristocracy. In this dynamic, with the exception of a few white quarterbacks (ie: Favre, Manning, Brady, Brees), the players wield no power. None.

A great example of this general powerlessness is occurring in New York City right now, as grossly underpaid Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (arguably the best defensive player in football) deserves a lucrative new contract, but the team is under no obligation (or pressure) to appease him. He has no real leverage, and because of this, he’ll probably end up signing a new contract paying him maybe 50% of what his services are worth (as opposed to the current contract paying him 15% of what he’s worth), even though he knows since NFL contracts aren’t guaranteed, they could release him at any point during the contract and not pay him a dime. (They wouldn’t do that, but they could)

Regardless of how you feel about Lebron James and his ill-conceived decision show, you have to admit he took advantage of every ounce of his personal leverage to achieve his desired result. While Lebron’s situation is an extreme example, no other professional athletes are as self-aware as NBA players, and in no other team sport are black professional athletes afforded the same opportunity to take advantage of this self-awareness. They know they’re valuable commodities with a finite window of earning power, and they act accordingly because they have leverage. They have power.

2. The best team always wins the championship

In the National Football League, a team can sneak into the playoffs after winning approximately half of their regular season games, catch a couple of somewhat lucky breaks, and make it all the way to the Super Bowl. With a few more lucky breaks, they can win the Super Bowl. While this unpredictable parity is usually lauded as one of the best things about the NFL, it’s completely unfair, completely wrong, and easily one of my least favorite things about the league. (I’m not the only one who feels this way, btw)

Seriously, imagine if other fields were set up similarly to the NFL (and the NCAA tournament). Think about how unfair school would be if a person who earned D minuses all semester long was able to get an “A” for the year if he just got a couple B pluses on his last two exams.

With its best-of-seven game playoff series format, the NBA ensures that flukey sh*t like this doesn’t occur. It’s the only true meritocracy in sports. The best teams, the teams most deserving of winning, usually win. If you want to win in the NBA playoffs, you have to actually go and get better. You can’t rely on bad weather or lucky breaks to help your cause.

If a team gets hot, catches a few lucky breaks, and beats the favored team, great! Good for you. Now, do it three more times if you want to advance.

3. Bigots hate it

The one infallible lesson we’ve learned in our 400 years in this country is if bigots universally hate something, that something is usually a great thing. From slavery and women’s suffrage to Manhattan and Michelle Obama, this test has never been wrong. Seriously, if you’re ever confused about where you should stand on a controversial topic or issue, just ask the nearest bigot and do the exact opposite of what he suggests and you’ll be right as rain. And, since bigots unanimously hate the NBA (seriously. if you ever want to find out if someone’s a racist, ask him to share his thoughts about the NBA), there’s obviously an inherent super positive quality about professional basketball that NFL stans just haven’t recognized yet.

4. Skill matters

Why is this true? Well, just let me put it this way: Dwyane Wade. Lebron James. Derrick Rose. Nate Robinson. Shannon Brown. Rajon Rondo. These are just a few of the dozens of NBA players who have the athletic chops to be able to retire from the NBA today, and get signed by an NFL team tomorrow.

The number of NFL players who could do the same? Zero

I’m not suggesting NFL players aren’t extremely skilled at their crafts, and I’m not attempting to minimize the amount of energy and work it takes to be a professional football player. But, as any athlete will tell you, it’s much more difficult to make an NBA roster than an NFL team because pro-level basketball is much more difficult to play than pro-level football.

Don’t believe me? Well it can’t be too difficult to make the roster in a sport where this guy..

…is a number one draft pick.

5. Each player matters too

From the otherworldlyness of Ron Artest to the perpetually petulant Kobe Bryant, each NBA player has a unique personality, skill set, and narrative. Even marginal players–like a Rafer Alston or Delonte West–have their own distinct and distinguishable qualities, and each of these characteristics are easily seen by the public.

And, while the NFL tries to sell you on the concept that it’s the only true team sport, the one place where each individual part matters as much as the next, in reality the National Football League is comprised of a few superstars (the aforementioned quarterbacks and a few other marquee players) and a bunch of anonymous and interchangeable drones.

There are no personalities, just 32 mega corporations each headed by 30 to 35 year old white males who rule over a bunch of throwaway parts. This is strongly and sadly evidenced by the very real fact that, as long as it’s people like Chris Henry and Andre Waters dying, nobody seems to care that the NFL is turning its players into mush brained zombies.

Damn, I guess this truly makes the NFL America’s game. But, it doesn’t make it better.

¹My three favorites theories about why the NBA gets so much negative P.R.
A) There hasn’t been a white American basketball superstar since Larry Bird, and the fact that there’s no one for middle America to really root for cultivates a general disinterest with much of (white) America. There are no Mississippi farm boys (Favre), royal families (The Mannings), or superstar heartthrobs (Brady). This isn’t racist. It’s just hard for many to get behind a sport when you feel like you can’t relate to any of the players. In turn, this disinterest eventually turns into distaste.
B) For almost a decade, the best NBA basketball has been played out west. Phoenix, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Denver, and Utah have all had consistently good teams, while New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington, and (up until 3 years ago) Boston have consistently sucked. Thing is, the majority of the nations important sports media is located in the Northeast. And, since they haven’t had winners in their home cities for the past 10 years, they’ve written and reported with an anti-NBA slant. This actually leads to…
C) Casual NFL fans are more sophisticated than casual NBA fans. Wait, let me rephrase that. Casual NFL fans are more accepting of and willing to learn about football strategy than casual NBA fans are of basketball strategy. For instance, when a star NFL player has difficulties, the announcers point out that “Manning has always had difficulties against the Cover 2. Lets see if he can make adjustments at halftime” and people accept this as truth. When an star NBA player has difficulties, the announcers might point out a certain defensive tactic the other team is using, but the casual fan usually ends up thinking “Damn. Carmelo just isn’t giving any effort tonight. Damn overpaid NBA diva.” And, I think the casual fan’s willingness to give NFL players the benefit of the doubt (and not NBA players) is partially due to media influence. If you hear “NBA players don’t care” enough, you’ll start to believe it.

—The Champ

black “firsts” we won’t be seeing anytime soon

rapper. record-setter. roach

from the first black president and the first black head football coach at mississippi state university (sylvester croom. this was a really, really big deal when it happened, btw) to the first black woman to win an oscar for best actress and the first black roach to simultaneously impregnate two mulatto sex symbols, the past decade was filled with numerous black firsts many of us thought we’d never see.

despite this continuous progress, there remains more than a few black firsts i doubt we’ll seeing anytime soon. here’s two of them.

openly gay black male in the NBA or NFL

while former nba-er john amaechi came out after his playing days were over and kobe bryant remains a bitch, we’ll see sarah palin on the cover of black tail before we see an openly gay black male pro athlete.

now, i’m sure that there are many currently gay or bisexual black athletes on NBA and NFL rosters. as far as i know, catching punts and catching penises aren’t mutually exclusive. actually, considering the sheer number of men in each league, i’d be more surprised if there weren’t at least a dozen somewhat popular athletes with an extra spare in their tanks, and i’m positive that each of them have a teammate or three who are fully aware of their situation

but, when you combine the prevailing image of the hyperheterosexual black male with the fact that no other american industry capitalizes and depends more on the allure of the ultra-competitive alpha male than professional team sports, you can understand how an openly gay black man would be the complete antithesis of what many (if not most) professional sports fans and participants think sports are all about.

with the ostracization and threats of physical danger he’d probably face, a black male athlete would need balls the size of lincoln, nebraska to come out while he was still playing (and an actual college degree, because his playing days might be over), and i can’t see anyone making that decision

black blockbuster movie

although black actors and actresses have starred in numerous blockbusters, none of the megabucks movies will smith or zoe saldana or denzel washington have been in would qualify as “black movies“…just movies that happened to star will smith or zoe saldana or denzel washington. as much as we –and, in this case “we” means “not me”-- love and support the tyler perry flicks, a 60 million gross (box office +  sales made in barbershops and bodegas) aint sh*t compared to 600.

there are myriad reasons for this (ie: black movies don’t seem to translate well overseas, black movies usually don’t have megabucks marketing campaigns behind them, the IMAX people told hollywood not to produce any multi-million dollar “black” action or science fiction flicks because they dont want n*ggas shooting at those expensive ass screens, etc) but the fact remains that a black movie would have to overcome too many obstacles to reach blockbuster status, and, unless hype williams finally releases belly 2: sincere in africa, i can’t see it happening.

anyway, people of vsb: do you think we’ll see an openly gay black male professional athlete or a black blockbuster in our lifetimes? if so, which do you think would happen first?

also, are their any other black “firsts” we probably won’t see anytime soon?

the carpet is yours

—the champ

stan(d) up

****before i begin today, i wanted to give an early birthday shout-out to our very special liz burr, the boobs behind the operation, who will be turning an unspecified age saturday the 6th. happy b-day lizzard****


you know, sometimes lost in my relentless smart-aleckness and sarcasm is the fact that there are a few things i’ve mentally and emotionally deemed snark and cynic-proof.

along side the ubiquitous rants, raves, roasts, and deez is an occasionally enthusiastic and unconditional fan ready and willing to spread the gospel of his favorite things, and, as break from my usually scheduled satirical programming, i’ve decided to share a few of these with you.

enjoy and sh*t

the nba

maybe the nfl is more popular, and maybe college hoops manufactures more synthetic enthusiasm and unpaid labor in the eyes of casual sports fans, but nothing else combines artistry, skillfulness, uber-athleticism, and planned improvisation like basketball at its highest level. i know its not for everyone, but, then again, f*ck ya’ll analog n*ggas.

breakfast food

i need you. i'm a mess without you. i miss you so damn much. i miss being with you, i miss being near you. i miss your laugh. i miss your scent; i miss your musk. when this all gets sorted out, i think you and me should get an apartment together
i need you. i’m a mess without you. i miss you so damn much. i miss being with you, i miss being near you. i miss your laugh. i miss your scent; i miss your musk. when this all gets sorted out, i think you and me should get an apartment together

women rocking glasses with angular frames

fetish (f?t’?sh, f?’t?sh)

  1. something, such as a material object or a nonsexual part of the body, that arouses sexual desire
  2. an abnormally obsessive preoccupation or attachment; a fixation.

yup. sounds about right

the rza

lets put it this way: when he calls himself “the world’s greatest mind, bob digital” i believe him

the wire

it probably wouldn’t be a stretch to call me a wire missionary. there is no limit, no boundary to my promotion of this show. at this point, i could wake up tomorrow morning and read that david simon is really nicolae carpathia, and i’d probably just shrug my shoulders and spend the next 17 minutes thinking of some obscure wire-related witticism to post as a facebook status message

chuck klosterman, bill simmons, malcolm gladwell, and bethlehem shoals

i’m so in awe of each of these writers that i’m literally afraid to attempt to articulate my stan-dom. i’d feel like ciara singing a solo tribute to mahalia jackson

the pittsburgh steelers

what? you think its an accident that i call myself “the champ”? bow down to the black and gold, b*tches, and kiss the rings…all six of them

people of, i’m curious: who and what do you stan for?

—the champ