Sports

The Derrick Rose Dilemma

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New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose and a group of friends were recently found not guilty in a highly publicized civil rape case. Rose and two friends were accused by an ex-girlfriend of Rose’s of taking advantage of her while she was intoxicated. According to court documents, the woman invited Rose over to her apartment a few weeks after Rose had ended their relationship with a text message. A few hours later Rose and his two friends arrived and engaged in sexual activity with the woman.

The woman, who chose to remain anonymous, contends that she was too intoxicated (and may have been drugged) to consent to sex with all three. In this civil trail, the woman and her attorneys were seeking $20 million in damages.

Like in many rape cases, the details and accusations are very disturbing. However, the most disturbing comments and ideology may have come from Rose himself. Regardless of his guilt or innocence, Rose’s idea of sexual consent needs to be re-examined.

This all seems a bit fishy when you consider that when asked in his deposition if he had an understanding of the word “consent,” Rose replied “No, but can you tell me?” – Complex.com

During the trial Rose defended himself by stating that the racy texts he exchanged with his ex-girlfriend confirmed sexual consent. He also believes that the woman’s sexual history confirmed sexual consent. A lot of the testimony discrediting the plaintiff  amounts to victim shaming.

Rose’s obvious ignorance when it comes to the definition of consent is scary. Also, his verbiage during the course of this civil trial makes it really hard to root for him this NBA season. Sports fans have had to wrestle with their morals a lot in the past year.

Last NFL season, football fans had to watch Greg Hardy suit up on Sundays with some horrible accusations hanging over his head. An ex-girlfriend of Hardy’s accused him of choking her, throwing her onto a couch of loaded assault rifles and threatening to kill her if she told the media about it.

After serving a lengthy NFL suspension, Hardy suited up for the Dallas Cowboys last year. Cowboys fans were torn between their love for their hometown team and their hate for the alleged actions of Hardy. Hardy’s baggage and diminished skills have him employed this season.

Another example playing out this NFL season includes New York Giants kicker Josh Brown. Brown:

Giants kicker Josh Brown admitted to physically and emotionally abusing his wife and called himself a sex-addicted “deviant” who viewed himself as “God” and his wife as “my slave”, according to entries in his own journals, emails to his wife, and a letter he wrote to friends, which were obtained by SNY – Sny.tv

The New York Giants have not commented on these discoveries from Brown’s journal. The next logical step would be to release Brown so that he can get the counseling and help he needs.

Although all three cases are very different, Rose, Hardy and Brown call into question whether or not an athletes treatment of women should affect their ability to earn such a lucrative living on a public platform. Also, as fans, how do we separate the athlete/team from the man.

In particular, Rose is in his first season playing for a Knicks team desperate to improve from last season’s 32-50 record. Rose’s ability to help a team win has never been in question (while healthy). However, each time he takes the court this season, his judgment and character will be.

 

Kobe’s Depth & Drama

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Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times

 

Last night is the only time in history when 60 will be worth much more than 73. Kobe Bean Bryant ended his 20 year NBA career last night scoring 60 points while hitting multiple clutch jump shots in a 101-96 victory over the Utah Jazz. A few minutes before that, the Golden State Warriors earned their record 73rd regular season win against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Kobe scoring 60 points is nothing new, he has done it 5 times. Kobe taking 50 shots is a career high but totally not out of character, he has missed the most shots in NBA history. During Kobe’s last season we did experience something new though. The depth, compassion and respect we saw from Kobe during his farewell season totally obliterates all the things we thought he was.

Kobe made his name as a cold hearted competitor. There are tons of stories from teammates and even a book from his former head coach Phil Jackson which paint Kobe as a win at all costs type of player. Championships meant more to Bryant than the relationships he had in the locker room. However, without a realistic shot at any team success the past three seasons in LA, Kobe has had to find other motivation to fuel his game.

Throughout this season, it seems as if that motivation has come in the form in coaching his super young teammates and solidifying relationships with his peers around the league. At the end of each game this season Kobe gave out more hugs than Barney. In numerous interviews he praised the superstars of our era and openly offered his wisdom to all who needed it. All this from a guy who once said:

“Smush Parker was the worst. He shouldn’t have been in the NBA but we were too cheap to pay for a point guard. … I was shooting 45 times a game [in 2007]. What was I supposed to do? Pass it into Chris Mihm and Kwame Brown?”

And this:

“There’s certain players that I’ve made cry. If I can make you cry by being sarcastic, then I really don’t want to play with you in the playoffs.”

Even though this seems like a new Kobe, he has had no issue being open in the past. Probably too open. During his time with Shaquille O’Neal in LA, the two would frequently communicate through the media. Kobe always thought Shaq was lazy in practice, and Shaq thought Kobe took too many shots. The worst of it came when the jabs at each other became personal. During Kobe’s sexual assault trial, for some reason he suggested that Shaq had paid off women that he had extra marital relations with:

Eventually, Kobe grew up and two have made up. Through Kobe’s jovial farewell season, he has made these minor missteps seem irrelevant. Our first thoughts will always go to his precise movements and  planned actions on the basketball court that made him an all time great.

The last stand of Kobe Bryant is something I’ll definitely tell my future kids about as they watch the final games of Steph Curry or Kawhi Leonard or Anthony Davis. The Kobe that smile, hugs and scored 60 in his final game, is what will resonate for years to come. But the drama, mistakes and overall hatred for his should by opposing fans is what made him more interesting than the average superstar. Probably even more interesting than MJ.

Mamba Out…

 

Iverson Brings Hip Hop to the Hall

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Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

 

The Basketball Hall of Fame last night announced that Shaquille O’Neal, Yao Ming and Allen Iverson will each be inducted as part of the 2016 hall class. While there are hundreds of all time greats who have been inducted into the hall for the past 57 years, these three stand out as individuals who appealed to groups that had not been represented in any professional sport before. Yao introduced NBA basketball to billions of Chinese citizens and made the game global. Shaq was a dominant big man in the mold of Wilt and Kareem but could run the floor, sell rap records and be marginally funny. Iverson was the one who broke the mold though.

Although Allen Iverson is being inducted into the hall based on his ability to dominate on the basketball court and his jaw dropping statistics, his impact as a cultural icon is what will keep his name in the minds of his fans forever. Iverson was unapologetic when it came to his love for and expression of hip hop culture.

Iverson’s style was his own. He arrived at arenas looking more Method Man than Michael Jordan. The long white tees, baggy jeans, throwback jerseys and durags were something that the casual NBA fan in 1996 was not used to seeing on a budding superstar. The genesis of the Iverson era also coincided with the release of some of hip hop’s most creative/innovative albums  in 1996. All Eyez on Me (2Pac), It Was Written (Nas), The Score (The Fugees), ATLiens (OutKast) and Reasonable Doubt (Jay Z) all dropped in 1996.

While Iverson’s rookie year was an introduction for most to what a professional athlete who loves hip hop culture looks like, he was still on a team that only won 22 games. Also, in the middle of the Michael Jordan era, everything else can seem small. It was not until the second MJ retirement and the development of a winning organization did attention turn to Iverson and his different approach to everything.

By 1999, the Sixers were a playoff team with a credible coach, Larry Brown. At this point, Iverson is on a national stage and stays there for the next ten years. He ultimately becomes league MVP in 2001 and steps over the Cavs coach later that season in the NBA Finals.

However, even though Iverson’s star is rising, his hip hop style becomes an issue for owners and NBA commissioner David Stern. In 2005, the NBA instituted a league wide dress code which basically ruled out everything in Iverson’s closet. The impact Iverson had on NBA style was seen a threat to the brand and profitably of the NBA. Even though his talent and leave it on the floor mentality was selling out arenas around the country.

After 2005, Iverson did not win much as a member of the Nuggets, Pistons, Grizzlies and one final stint with the Sixers. However, his legacy remained intact. Current NBA superstars like Stephen Curry and LeBron James all look to Iverson as a reason to play as hard as you can each game. Iverson’s willingness to express himself make it easy for Melo, KD and Russ to openly express their love for hip hop music and culture. This is something that MJ, Scottie or Chuck could never relate to.

The induction of Allen Iverson into the Basketball Hall of Fame equates to the induction of hip hop into the hall. Cant wait for his speech.

Speaking of Jordan…

 

 

Greg Monroe agrees to 3-year, $50 million offer from Bucks – SBNation.com

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Greg Monroe agrees to 3-year,  million offer from Bucks - SBNation.com

Power forward Greg Monroe is headed to the Milwaukee Bucks. Not the New York Knicks. Once again, not the New York Knicks.

Greg Monroe agrees to 3-year, $50 million offer from Bucks – SBNation.com.

Mike Krzyzewski: Phil Jackson’s Offense Effective Because of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant | Complex

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Mike Krzyzewski: Phil Jackson's Offense Effective Because of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant | Complex

Scrap the triangle Phil!!!!!! Get a coach who can put Carmelo in a position to be great and make the players around him better… Mike Krzyzewski: Phil Jackson’s Offense Effective Because of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant | Complex.

LeBron James will opt out of contract with Miami Heat – ESPN

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LeBron James will opt out of contract with Miami Heat - ESPN

LeBron James has decided to opt out of the last year of his contract with the Miami Heat. Its unlikely LeBron will go anywhere, but it is a certainty that some general managers are considering selling their first borns for a shot at signing the four time MVP.

More info here: LeBron James will opt out of contract with Miami Heat – ESPN.

Derek Fisher reaches agreement to become coach of New York Knicks – ESPN New York

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Derek Fisher is now officially the head coach of the New York Knicks. I hope he plans on starting himself over Raymond “bang bang” Felton this season.

More info from ESPN here: Derek Fisher reaches agreement to become coach of New York Knicks – ESPN New York.