Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Why Black Guys (and David Lee) Need to Be In Sports: Family Feud (#4)

Really, kudos to Ufford at With Leather for digging up this clip with these NBA players on the feud. Two interesting things I picked up from the clip:
1. Richard Jefferson's mom's name is Meekness. Wow.
2. David Lee is the man...wait, I already knew that.
3. Grant Hill's mom is white. (Sound of Suns fans rushing to buy reams of #33 jerseys...)


Friday, November 23, 2007

Why Black Guys Need to Be in Sports: Reason #3

Hakeem Olajuwon's famous move in which he proved that he was the superior big man to David Robinson. Basically, DR just got got.

I Love This Game!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

While You Got Distracted by Belichick's "Jedi Mind Tricks"...Vick Reminds You That He Still Holds Weight


Mike Vick definitely just turned himself in and will start serving his jail time.


"The order added that Vick was taken into custody "based solely on his desire to begin his period of incarceration prior to his sentencing hearing and not because of violation of any condition of his bond."
Wow. Looking at Bonds, Vick, Pacman, and Gary Sheffield this has been a terrible year to be a black athlete in America. Not that I condone the stranglation, castration, and electrocution of dogs, by the way.

In other news, let the Ookie jokes commence.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

In West Philadelphia, Born and Raised...

After I dissected the hit black college show, “A Different World” in my last blog entry, many people took umbrage with my rating of the show’s primary theme song with Aretha Franklin. (D+)

Before you throw a fish net of disdain and anger on my soggy response, allow me to build a “bridge over troubled water” so that we can connect on this issue. Aretha Franklin is probably, hands down, one of the greatest singers, soul or otherwise, of the past 50 years. She personally owned the Grammy awards for a 10 year run, winning awards from “Best Female R&B Performance” to “Best Soul Gospel Performance.” Aretha cemented her status as a superstar with the “Living Legend” award and probably the greatest of them all, the “Lifetime Achievement Award.” Please believe…Aretha Franklin deserves all of the “respect” in the world.

However…her soulful voice, while crossing through generations and connecting with the young and old was ideal for American society as a whole, it put a wet blanket on the exuberance and enthusiasm that a college show brings to the table. While Aretha’s voice proved to be the motherly influence for the show, warning the characters (and the audience) that college “is a different world” from the neighborhoods back home that we come from, her voice saps the show of the youthful energy that accompanies the college experience. When I left to come to Howard, my mother’s words echoed Aretha’s soulful tune. But once I stepped onto campus and saw the Greek trees on the yard, the plethora of fine honeys frolicking about, and the opportunities that were ahead for the next four years of my life, my world moved out of the slow high school nostalgia to a quick paced sprint to understand more about this thing called “college.”

To me, Boys II Men’s rendition of the Dawnn Lewis’ penned song is exactly how my college experience as a junior is at this moment. I barely have time to conjure up great phrases and jokes for these Facebook “notes” because I’m writing papers, studying for tests, tutoring kids at the elementary school across the street, and staying alive in the tumultuous sea of college life. (Did I mention writing papers?) Plus, Boys II Men’s version, is well, just catchier. There just “ain’t nothing like the real thing”, baby.

So there’s my explanation for the low-grade of the show’s theme song from Seasons 2-5. It definitely was an upgrade from the Season 1 disaster (explained). So you can choose to agree with my decision to rank Boys II Men over Aretha in the theme song department…or not.

I’m just a “young, black, and gifted” writer, trying to make my stamp on this American world through my canvas on this Facebook world. (I promise I’ll stop with the Aretha Franklin song references…only obeying contract orders)

Let’s all pile into my Toyota Corolla, throw some D’s on it, pull into a McDonald’s drive thru, rap our entire order, turn up the throttle, and drive up to West Philly to check out The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air!

(By the way, big ups to my friend, Daniel Gilmer, for finding out a cool way to trick Facebook so that I can tag all of you guys into my notes. Facebook while allowing someone to invite a bagillion people to a party, event, or group only allows myself to tag 30 people at a time to a “note”. However, this is how we were able to beat the man at his own game:

Step 1: Tag the maximum amount of people.
Step 2: These people find out that they’ve been tagged via “notifications.”
Step 3: Untag the original 30 people tagged.
Step 4: Re-tag a brand spanking new 30 people!
Step 5: Rinse, repeat till done…or fingers fall off from carpel tunnel.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: September 10, 1990- May 20, 1996 (6 Seasons)

My Introduction: A show that I once wanted to write a thesis about (not going to happen) succeeded in saving Will Smith’s career, ending DJ Jazzy Jeff’s, introducing catch phrases and dance moves to white society, allowing them to abuse them in daily speech (Word, Yo, etc.), and giving us a different look at family. “The Fresh Prince” was a more “realistic” version of the Cosby family, using the same template (problem child, college educated parents) but tackling a more expansive amount of issues that plagued the changing black society of the 90s. By the end of this show’s run, Will Smith was catapulted to Top 5 Black Male Actor status, every kid had a copy of Big Willie Style atop their boombox, and Alfonso Ribeiro became a mortal lock to appear on a Trivial Pursuit card or a Celebrity Reality TV Show next to Dustin Diamond.

The Main Characters that Held the Show Together and Gave Andy Borowitz and Werner Walian Jobs: Will Smith. Will Smith. Will Smith. What else do you want me to say? I mean…if he doesn’t prove that he can act better than he can rap, I’m not even declaring this show to be on the short list for Greatest Sitcom of All Time. I think that this show could have run forever with Vivian #1 (Janet Hubert-Witten) over Vivian #2 (Daphne Maxwell Reid). Viv #1 added a great dimension to the show which helped give Will an awesome supporting cast for him to grow into his role as an actor, while the additions of Vivian #2 and Nicky only put more pressure on Will to carry the load as the go-to-guy.

Rising Stars: B+ Since I’ve already talked about Will Smith turning the show into a huge movie career (Independence Day, Bad Boys, Men in Black, etc.), I’ll focus on the other guys. Karen Parsons (Hilary) had a role opposite Damon Wayans in (Major Payne) , Tatiana Ali was the girlfriend in the basketball version of Remember the Titans (Glory Road), James Avery became the voice of Shredder, one of the greatest cartoon villains ever in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, plus a guaranteed role as a guest star on any black sitcom.

(Joseph Marcell’s also staying busy. If you’ve got a penchant for theater and $22.95 to spare, you can see him perform in Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” down at the Folger Shakespeare Theater. Yea, he’s not dead yet. Just don’t chuckle as loud as I did once I saw him in the Playbill. First, it’s a dead giveaway to the fact that you know nada about the actors of the play or decorum of theater life, plus it’s the equivalent of kicking a man while he’s down…except directly in the crotchal region.)

Moment that Show "Jumped the Shark":
After watching many mediocre black films starring Nia Long (The Best Man, Big Momma’s House, Are We There Yet?), I’ve realized that giving Nia Long a primary role on any principal cast for any movie/play/sitcom is the sports equivalent of allowing Norv Turner to call the shots as the head coach for any NFL football team. Honestly, Nia Long is a great role player alongside a loaded cast that owns most of the spotlight (Soul Food) and deflects attention away from her character flaws. I have no idea why Borowitz and Co. decided to allow Nia Long to play as Will’s girlfriend for the entire fifth season of the show. Why mess with a good thing, Hollywood? Once Will and Lisa ended up breaking up after Season 5, it marked the end of an era. Will was ready to star in motion pictures, and the show breathed its last.

Eye Candy (A+...but C+ in Season 5): From Seasons 1-4, the producers did a great job of creating a foolproof way to siphon in new “talent.” Freshman year, while we were playing hours of Madden ’06 and Nintendo’s Tecmo Bowl in the room, we always kicked random ideas (like this column) around. During this time, my friend J created the “Will Smith Mononucleosis Corollary” for the show. (Hey, it WAS freshman year)

Basically, it stated two ideas:
1. Because the show lived on the gimmick that Will was a stone-cold fox, destined to woo any girl that crossed his path in the hallway of Bel-Air Prep, we saw a huge influx of female black acting talent (Jasmine Guy, Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Lark Voorhies from “Saved By the Bell”, Kim Fields from “Living Single”, Tisha Campbell, Leia Rochon, Garcelle Beauvais from “Jamie Foxx”, Vivica Fox, Victoria Rowell, plus all the random girls that didn’t even make the cut…)
2. These black actors wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to be featured on an episode of the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” because it was pulling down a serious share of the Nielsen ratings, which made it an easy way of showcasing one’s talent for talent agencies across America. Will gets to lock lips with almost every significant female actor of the 1990’s era…and in return, they get a great shot at a bigger deal later on in the future.

Because of these two factors, it was a mortal lock for Will Smith, a hormonal 18 year old teen at the show’s start, to make out with an extreme amount of women over a three-year span. To this day, you’d be hardpressed to find a guy that wouldn’t trade places with Will for a year during this huge run. (I’m surprised Will Smith didn’t record a case on mononucleosis during his run on the Fresh Prince.) However, once Nia Long stepped in as Will’s main squeeze, it put a cap on the theory, and effectively ended one of the Top 5 reasons that a guy, white or black, watched the show. (And you wonder why I hate watching Season 5…)

Theme Song (A+) Since most of you started humming the theme song once you saw the title of my Facebook “note”, I think that this rating speaks for itself. If you wanted more than that for an explanation, just listen to this Fresh Prince hit to tide you over. (By the way, what the heck are Will and Jazz riding on top of in this video? A flat-bed truck? Music videos have come a long way since 1991…)

Best Season: Season 3: By Season 3, Will had been weaned off of his rap lingo by Uncle Phil and Co. (during Season 1, he constantly used words like “Bust a Groove”), and started to respect Carlton, cutting back on the “short” jokes that started to get annoying. Will also became a better actor, separating himself from the pack of actors on the show, but didn’t fall prey (yet) to his rising celebrity. Carlton cut back on the nerdom (please, watch Season 1 for effect) and Hilary received a less pronounced role. Plus, the house was finished with its makeover process.

Worst Season: Season 6: There was no explanation for Nicky becoming five years older from Seasons 5-6, or Vivian #2. The producers also failed to realize that a guy that tries to talk to girls in high school (Will) is laughed off as a goofy heartthrob and a lovable character. No one likes that same guy once he’s 23 and lacks career goals. The producers clearly lost a grip on the show once the Will/Lisa saga ended.

Overall Rating: (A+) Honestly, I never get tired of this show. When you get to the point where you can guess the episode from the beginning two lines…you’re definitely a die-hard fan. Here’s my Top 5 Episodes from the show:

5. Did the Earth Move For You?: (Season 2) During an earthquake Will finds out more about his new found love then he ever wanted to. Kathleen (Tisha Campbell) begins to reveal her true self when she and Will are trapped in the basement during the quake. We’re talking fake hair, fake nails, fake…everything.
4. You’ve Got to Be A Football Hero: (Season 4) Will uses booze to prove his manliness while competing with a hulking football hero who wants to score points with Jackie, and his fraternity brothers leave drunken Will in a cemetery, where he is haunted.
3. Just Say Yo!: (Season 3) As the big dance approaches, Carlton breaks out with a huge zit on his forehead. In a frenzied state, Carlton pops a huge dose of amphetamine pills from Will’s locker, mistaking them for Vitamin E tablets. Will learns a valuable lesson about drug use.
2. That’s No Lady, That’s My Cousin!: (Season 3) When Ashley enrolls at the newly created co-ed Bel-Air prep, she vies for the attention of guys by dressing like the girls that Will falls for at the school. Will also wins the heart of Veronica (Garcelle Beauvais) by acting more like a gentleman and not like a slobbering jet setter.

Show's Golden Quote:
Carlton: "Will, check out the talent! She's cool, she's hot-"
Will: "She's your sister man!"
Carlton: "AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!"
1. The Butler Did It: (Season 2) When Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv go out of town for a quick getaway, Carlton wants to make some quick loot and decides to rent out the house for a popular R&B group, Bel Biv Devoe, for their music video. When the furniture gets ruined once the set’s cleared out, hijinks ensue as the Banks kids race to fix the house back to normal before Uncle Phil gets back.

Now, Here’s Your NBA Season Preview of the Atlantic Division:
(this, time…it’s in haiku)

1. Boston Celtics:
Kevin, Ray, and Paul.
These guys will be unselfish.
Boston wins the East.

2. New Jersey Nets:
Jay Kidd is very old.
Vince needs to drive to the hole.
Rich has much to show.

3. New York Knicks:
Eddy loves to EAT.
Jamal makes it rain from three.
Steph, please…play some D.

4. Toronto Raptors:
Don’t trade big for small. (T.J. Ford for Charlie Villanueva)
Chris Bosh suffers season slump.
Why is Sam still employed? (How was Sam Mitchell Coach of the Year in ’07?)

5. Philadelphia 76ers:
Worst team in the league.
AI laughs at your GM.
See you guys in ’08.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

N.J. Begins Testing High School Athletes for Steroids - Sports

Here's one of my articles from "The Hilltop", published last December.

N.J. Begins Testing High School Athletes for Steroids - Sports

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

My Ginormous Plan to Get Past the Dregs of October

During my years as a college student, I’ve always lived by this mantra to squeeze by the horrible Fall Semester.
“If you can get by unscathed during the month of October, you can handle the rest of Fall Semester.”- TTK

Okay, maybe it’s not exactly the inspirational quote that you were expecting. However, with Election Day (for the High Schoolers, yeah I’m still bitter about the Facebook high school thing. It SHOULD be a right of passage), Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving we’ve only got two full weeks of school in the month of November. Once Thanksgiving break is over, most schools only have one week of school before finals, and then Christmas Break starts up!

October has got to be the worst month of the school year. Here at the Real HU, almost every instructor gives their 1st class exams during the first week of the month. Everyone suddenly gets locked in after summer break (finally), and professors start separating the phonies from the realistic. Most clubs, organizations, and other campus groups jampack events into this month before and after Homecoming week, an idea that would be perfect…if all of the professors didn’t decide to save their 2nd exams for the week AFTER homecoming for fear that their students won’t study.

Also, after experiencing three Homecomings at Howard, I have only one word to describe the hype = overrated. My reasons behind this judgment are threefold:

1. Once you’ve participated in all of the events one time around (Freshman Year), nothing really changes. It’s like watching a rerun of a game when you already know who’s going to get the W.

2. I don’t know, but it’s hard to get excited about second-tier performers and the idea that supermanning a hoe is actually a good thing. As fellow blogger MJD said, “Once white people realize the meaning behind the song, they are not going to be happy. How do people have the time to come up with these things?”

3. The geniuses that run Howard University always find innovative ways to ruin an completely carefree week. Remember earlier when I said that most cool teachers hold off on exam until the week after Homecoming? Well, now that the brainiacs that run our school decided to place our midterms during the same exact week as Homecoming, and the jerks teachers that still give tests during that week, I have to sidestep drunk college students, blast Kenny G in my room to outblast the douchebags who plays Rich Boy’s Throw Some D’s on repeat, and give directions to folks that are coming to have the good time at Howard that I won’t.

I’m also emotionally tapped out, especially after Darius’ death and the subsequent funeral and thoughts I’ve had since that day. (I’m thinking about writing a story about the entire experience) Greyhound even jaded me this weekend, failing to have enough buses on schedule to support its’ travelers, leaving me – and another 40+ folks – sleeping on the floor of a New York terminal until 6:30am the next morning. It’s been a terrible October.

That’s why I’ve always looked forward to November. It signifies thanks, the beginning of good tidings, a time where everyone is warm and people are generally more appreciative of each other. I’ve had a LOT to be thankful to God for this year.

But more importantly…it’s the start of the NBA season!!!!

I had a ginormous plan to give you Facebookers and readers of my blog to do an awesome preview of each NBA Team before the start of the ’07 Season. Unfortunately I left out one tiny detail...I’d have to write it in October.

So I’m going to give a quick breakdown of the finishes of each division. However, since I love old TV and Cartoon shows, I’m also gonna write a quick synopsis of each of my favorite throwbacks. Since I’ve already been talking about Homecoming at my black colleges and life at the Real HU, let’s just drive further down I-95 and check out Bill Cosby’s Debbie Allen’s hit TV spinoff – “A Different World!”

“A Different World”: September 23, 1987 – July 9, 1993 (6 Seasons)

My Introduction: The family comedy that combined the talents of an annoying, rich light-skinned Cinderella (Whitley Gilbert), an “older” college student (Jalessa Vincent), the overconfident fratboy from School Daze (Ron Johnson), a spunky rebel turned law student (Freddie Brooks), and a confident, young engineer with the “flip-up” shades from Brooklyn who definitely “was somebody” according to the poster on his wall (Dwayne Wayne). By the end of this show’s end, Kadeem Hardison – as well the cast of this hip show – were definitely somebodies in the hearts of black students and America.

The Main Characters Who Held The Show Together and Gave Debbie Allen a Job: (A-) Sorry Lisa Bonet, but your pregnancy from Lenny Kravitz paved the way for Debbie Allen to work her magic on this show. Relative unknowns like Hardison and Jasmine Guy evolved as the anchors of this show, while supporting cast talent like Darryl Bell (Ron), Dawnn Lewis (Jalessa), and Cree Summer (Freddie) rounded out the show. While this show couldn’t have lasted without Dwayne or Whitney, the producers did a good job of making sure that no cast member completely dominated the show, allowing the principle cast to hang around for 4 straight seasons.

Rising Stars: (C+) Unfortunately due to the Cosby curse, none of the characters from “A Different World” went on to have spectacular careers. Jada Pinkett dominated Season 6 but was seen as a person that was using the show completely as a warm-up round before her stint in the limelight. Cree Summer has become one of the greatest voice talents of the “great cartoon era” lending her voice to project such as Tiny Toon Adventures (Elmira), Rugrats (Susie), Code Name: Kids Next Door (Number 5), Danny Phantom (Valerie), that random black girl from As Told By Ginger, Drawn Together (Foxxy Love), etc, etc, etc. Yeah, her voice is pretty famous.

Moment that Show “Jumped the Shark”: I think that Debbie Allen saw the writing on the wall when the screenwriters had the perfect marriage in place between Dwayne and Whitley at the end of Season 4. Marrying these two would’ve left too many potential episodes ideas on the table, as well as instantly promote these two characters to “alpha dog” status on the show. Hardison and Guy would have actively pursued pay raises and superiority on the set, and Ron, Jalessa, and Freddie would’ve been left out in the cold. When the producers finally relent to their wacky marriage at the end of Season 5…it marked the end of an era. Jalessa saw the writing on the wall and left the show, hurting its plotline (her marriage to Col. Taylor) and the youth movement that ensued crippled the ratings.

Eye Candy: (A-) Yeah, because this show was in a college atmosphere, the episodes were loaded with babes. From the removal of Denise (Lisa Bonet) for Jasmine Guy in Season 2, the revamped Freddie in Season 6, Jada Pinkett being…well…Jada Pinkett, the severely underrated Kim Reese, and the youth movement that destroyed the show, added great “talent” to the viewing public. Hey, even Millie and Maggie from Season 1 weren’t half-bad. Plus with nerds like Dwayne and Ron dominating the show gave normal guys hope that they had a fighting chance, which in reality is totally unrealistic…unless you’ve got bank.

Theme Song: (D+…until Season 6: A-) Even though Dawnn Lewis is a talented actor on the show, there is no way a show created for the young, college-age audience should have had a song with such a slow tempo. I love Phoebe Show and Aretha Franklin…but once Boys II Men sang the theme in Season 6, it took the show to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL. I’m even humming the tune as I write this sentence. (Unfortunately, even these Grammy winners couldn’t save this show from gagging during this season…nice song though.)

Best Season: Season 4. Sinbad and Mr. Gaines come into their own as role players, Dwayne and Whitney become synonymous with college love, Ron/Kim/Freddie begin their love triangle, Matthew was the “token” but hilarious white guy that dated Kim (never would’ve happen in real life with Kim’s personality), Dwayne turns down the Kinishiwa job in Tokyo to teach at Hillman, and Jalessa and Col. Taylor start their trip down an interesting (and totally revolting) relationship culminating in marriage. (Plus there were no annoying RA’s like Stevie or Lettie from the earlier seasons to ruin the fun…)

Worst Season: Season 1. I’m so glad that Cosby and Allen understood that Denise had NO chance of carrying the show on her back, given her limited acting experience. The producers realized that the trio of true stars (Dwayne/Whitley/Ron) were getting outshined by the melodrama that ensued with Denise. (Definitely proven true by the amount of “guest” appearances made by the Cosby Show’s characters over the course of Season 1) I loved Maggie, but since she depended heavily on Denise she too had to go. This was an extremely gutsy move by Allen because it completely severed the ties from the Cosby Show, making “A Different World” an entirely separate undertaking.

Overall Rating: (A) Because of its’ rewatchability and the comparisons that can be made to my life at this point, I’d give it the A. (Nick at Nite and Oxygen are slacking on the reruns right now) We’ll see where I stand in 5-10 years.

Now, here’s your NBA Season Preview of the Southeast Division:
(from best to worst)

1. Miami Heat: Even though D-Wade’s down for the first month, I don’t think any team in this division’s got the cojones to grab the reins from the 2006 World Champs yet. Yes, I’m saying this even though Shaq’s going to use the entire regular season to get in shape for the playoffs.

2. Orlando Magic: People are already criticizing the Magic brass for signing All-Star Rashard Lewis to a mega-deal. However, by going with Stan Van Gundy over the fan favorite Billy Dee (who left anyway to go coach Florida again); Orlando’s going to make huge strides this season. I’ve already predicted Dwight Howard to be the MVP this season and if they can add a solid two-guard to replace J.J. Redick the Magic will be a force in the East.

3. Atlanta Hawks: As my boy Obi said to me a week ago, “All those years of drafting forwards is finally going to pay off. Playoffs, Playoffs, PLAYOFFS!!!” Well, maybe they won’t make the postseason, but with Acie Law and Al Horford joining a more mature Josh Smith, Joe Johnson and Co. in the A, they’ll get close.

4. Washington Wizards: I can’t believe a team that made the playoffs allowed 104.9 PPG (28th in the league)! I don’t care if Gilbert puts up career numbers in his contract year, or that Caron was injured for the last month of the year, a team with a coach more interested in his acting career (okay, I’ve abused that joke) than his squad leaves the 2007-08 Wiz as my disappointment franchise of the year.

5. Charlotte Bobcats: They’re here only because I can’t bring myself to pull the Wizards as the last team in this conference when they had the BEST record in the East at the All-Star break last year. However, don’t be fooled…these guys are good. If only Jordan wasn’t such an atrocious GM.

Thanks for reading this long post everybody, and I’ll see you later with my next division (and show) breakdown!


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Why Black Guys Need to Be in Sports: Reason #2

I was just goofing off on YouTube and stumbled across this Tecmo Bowl masterpiece. "The Nigerian Nightmare" must be the greatest nickname ever created for a running back. Christian Okoye, I salute you!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

"Blessed Are They That Mourn..."

Sorry for slacking off on the posts...

On Monday morning, I found out that one of my good friends from NY, Darius Jenkins, was shot and killed in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, NY. This is a very sad time for the Bethel Gospel Tabernacle church family, as all of our young people are very close. Darius and I worked together as sound technicians at BGT, and was a diligent, consistent, dependable guy, always serving to the glory of God. I was the key guy training him to take over due to my departure for Howard University for education.

(Here's a clip of the article, found in the New York Times)

Because of this tragedy, I will be traveling all day back to New York for his wake, funeral, and burial in order to support his family, friends, and loved ones. The funeral will be on Friday, November 2, 2007. I had been previously planned on starting my series on the NBA season today, complete with analysis, projections, and predictions, but I will hold off on the project until later.

However, to avoid the ensuing controversy due to the fact that I will be able to learn more about the teams over the next couple of days that may skew my predictions, here's a brief breakdown on my expectations for this NBA season.

Eastern Conference Playoffs
1. Chicago Bulls (w/ or w/o Kobe)
2. Boston Celtics
3. Detroit Pistons
4. Orlando Magic
5. Miami Heat
6. Washington Wizards
7. Toronto Raptors
8. New York Knicks

Barely Missing Out: Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavs, New Jersey Nets

Western Conference Playoffs
1. Phoenix Suns
2. San Antonio Spurs
3. Denver Nuggets
4. Dallas Mavericks
5. Houston Rockets
6. Utah Jazz
7. Memphis Grizzlies
8a. Los Angeles Lakers (w/ Kobe)
8b. Portland Trailblazers (w/o Kobe in LA)

Barely Missing Out: Golden State Warriors, New Orleans Hornets

MVP: Dwight Howard (KG, runner up)
Coach of the Year: Stan Van Gundy, Rick Adelman
NBA Finals: San Antonio over Chicago (4-2)

Keep Darius' family, friends, and loved ones in your prayers, and me as I travel back to New York.