Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Enter The Sandman: Dubbing the Draft's Handshake Mixtape

For the past 15 years, we Yankee fans have been blessed to hear a certain noise emanate from the loudspeakers at the top of the 9th here at our stadium, the House That Ruth George Built. A certain Panamanian pitcher emerges from this second dugout and begins moving – from quick walk to compact trot – to his throne seat, which sits surrounded by his faithful companions. During his confident stroll, an all-too familiar sound from an all-too familiar rock band permeates the Yankee Stadium atmosphere. As Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” raises in volume, the capacity crowd responds, standing at attention to cheer our hero, Mariano Rivera. Enter the Sandman.

Why do we call him that? That’s easy. Because when Mo comes in, he comes ready to put your team to sleep. He’s shutting the door on another Yankee victory, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Period.

How cool is THAT?

While football has passed it in popularity and basketball in sensationalism, baseball remains the only sport that manages to continually do one unique thing better than all other sports. Yes, I’m talking about the at-bat/closer music. Doesn’t every hoops hero deserve to hear their favorite song to get pumped up?

However, after contemplating it for about thirty seconds, I realized that problems would undoubtedly arise. What happens when two alpha dogs exist on the same team? Does Shaq get to hear his rap (no doubt the classic "Kobe, Tell Me How My @-- Tastes) over Steve Nash’s favorite emo band in Phoenix? Will the fracture create a schism in Denver between Chillups and “Stop Snitching, the DVD?” Or, better yet, between Melo and LaLa?

I'm prepared to live with the consequences.

Likewise, I’ve come to the conclusion that every draft pick needs his own entrance music. Think about it. I’m talking about WWF style, loud noises, with the McMahon brothers yelling your name over the loudspeakers. You only get one chance to make it count on draft night. Why not hype it all the way up?

Can you smell-elelelelelel what The Throwback Kid is cooking? (You’d better hope so after all this rain here on the East Coast. My sinuses are strong enough to smell the dead bodies caked up in my neighbor’s garage.)

Instead of scripting a mock draft for you, I’ve decided that every pre-draft diary needs its own flavor, its own way to distinguish itself from an otherwise monotonous sports action-less event. Plus, I think everyone’s pretty much been overwhelmed by the amount of mock drafts out there. As one NBA GM put it, the only thing you can predict about this draft is that it’ll be unpredictable. David Stern, just give me Step Curry or Tyreke Evans and get the heck off my TV set. There’s a whole world of Smart Guy episodes out there for me to DVR. I know you can make this happen.

Anyway, I’ve already met with the players that will be sitting in the Green Room on Draft Night. In order to bolster their draft stock, they’ve allowed me to share their handshake song choice for their big night with NBA fans everywhere. But...I've decided to tinker with their selections just a tad. I mean, you can only have but so many dudes shaking hands to Weezy. Just saying.

Hey, what they know won’t hurt ‘em. Am I right? I said, AMIRIGHT?

Without further ado, let’s cue up the music, and check out the choices from our draft class.

1. Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin – M.A.S.H.’s “Suicide is Painless”

For many draftnicks, Blake Griffin remains the sole glimmer of upside in an otherwise crappy draft class. I loved seeing him in college; heck, I even begged our black college counterparts (Morgan State) to present him a true challenge in the first round of this year’s tourney. Who was I kidding? They were like lambs led to the slaughterhouse. Since there’s no other way to say it, I’ll say it: Blake, you’re a beast. Yes, we know that you play above the rim (sorry, Psycho T), you posterize your foes and you snarl at wiry opposition. Sure, you’ll have to entertain the idea of adding a jumper to your repertoire to become a complete nuisance for defenders from the 4 spot, but no one’s really complaining.

Actually, Blake…we’re all laughing. We laugh at your given name and its valley girl origins. We laugh at your Frankenstein face, noting that it remains shell shocked weeks after you realized that the Clippers (yes, the same team that’s given us studs like Manute Bol and Pooh Richardson) won the draft lottery. And we laugh at the fact that you’ll be counting on guys named Z-Bo and Ricky Bobby to…wait for it…PASS you the ball! (Crowd erupts in laughter) There’s only one way to escape this monstrosity. I once heard a guy tell me suicide was painless. Face it, kiddo: the only thing worse than tragedy is obscurity. Which is what you’ll face as Kobe dominates the headlines.

2. Memphis Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet – Christina Vidal’s “Taina” (theme song)

Watching a foolhardy general manager attempt to create a latch on to an outdated basketball talent models is like a woman believing that she can change her man after a few dates. Really? If he’s been putting his soda cans on the coffee table without a coaster for twenty years, what makes you think that he’s going to change after five months? It’s just not going to happen, baby.

The same goes for UConn’s Hasheem Thabeet. As my boy J-Till wrote in his mock draft, if this guy couldn’t abuse smaller defenders on the NCAA level, how can anyone possibly believe that he’ll step his game up once he gets to the big leagues? I’ll add this one caveat: Guys like DeJuan Blair owned Thabeet simply because they taxed his legs tremendously with their lower body weight. Thabeet, as a wiry big man, needs to fill out down low or the bigger post guys will tear him up come November 1st. But, don’t worry Mr. Thabeet. Like Taina, you’ll get to see your name in lights…even if it only stays lit for a few seasons.

Only eighteen months ago, the Grizzlies had one of the best interchangeable centers in the league. Now, they’re scrapping around for spare parts. How is Chris Wallace a GM again?

(Before we continue, I would first like to downgrade Terius “The Dream” Nash’s penalty for breaking man law to a misdemeanor following the release of Steve Harvey’s new complete informational guide to the female world. Let’s be clear: “The Dream” STILL broke Man Law with “Shawty Is a Ten”. But after seeing the composite reaction from Steve Harvey’s new book, “How to Break Man Law and Make Money Doing It” Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, I had to retract some of my vitriolic statements towards the singer. Why? Well, Steve Harvey broke close to one trillion Man Laws by deciding to write his “tell-all” book on the male mind. The guy even sat on Oprah’s couch.

Ladies, I promise you: Any guy with decent sense could have written up that beauty shop fodder. Seriously. But we don’t because we’re not as stupid as we look. We wouldn’t be caught dead handing out dating pamphlets. Not only would that be an egregious breach of Man Trust, the deviant sole would also be ex-communicated from man life faster than a sexually active priest from the Catholic Church.

Secondly, do you even think for a second that any lady would dare pen an instructional guide for our kind? No way. Once they saw the instantaneous swag we gained after viewing “Want Women Want”, the vault was permanently sealed. Now, we've got a better chance of sneaking pencil shavings out of Attica than of finding out what goes on over there. So Steve, shape up or ship out. And speaking of shape-ups, I personally think you were funnier with the super-sharp line-up. It's time for Mr. Hightower to make his comeback, if you catch my drift.)

3. Oklahoma City Thunder: Ricky Rubio – SBTB: The College Years' “Standing On The Edge of Tomorrow...Today!"

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our annual “We Haven’t Seen That Much Video on Him, But Everybody Swears He’s Legit” hoop star of this year’s draft. The only legit video anyone’s seen of this kid was from the Beijing Olympics, where young Rube got the best of an ancient Jason Kidd. (Why didn’t Chris Paul or Deron Williams start again?) Besides that, all we’ve got to go off of with Rubio are some foggy YouTube clips and the words from his PR camp. (Oh yeah, plus his recent disaster workout against the chair) If this guy ends up being a carbon-copy of Yi Jianlian…I won’t be surprised. For reals.

4. Sacramento Kings: Jrue Holiday – Daft Punk’s “One More Time”

The wackiest song with the wackiest music video goes out to the player with the wackiest name spelling for the simplest pronunciation (Drew), who will be playing in the wack-est city on the West Coast. Don’t worry Jrue, there’ll be plenty of folks willing to go cow-tipping with you after your off-season workouts.

5. Washington WizardsMinnesota Timberwolves: Tyreke Evans – Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage”

If you’re a Wizards fan, you’ve got to be bitter about what’s transpired over the last twenty-four hours. You had the opportunity to trade your albatross contract (Jamison’s extension) and the #5 pick to Phoenix for Amare, but instead…you’re getting rid of all of your expiring contracts (also known as “trade bait”) for another electric but erratic backup (Randy Foye) and the rotting corpse of Mike Miller. You just got hosed. And Washington fans wonder why they’ve only won one playoff series in 27 years.

6. Minnesota Timberwolves: Stephen Curry – Jay Z’s “Song Cry”

This song isn’t for Step Curry. This song’s for all the tortured Knick fans, those tired souls who will gather on Thursday night to hear the Wolves snatch our dream guy. I’d bet on a reaction similar to that of housewives everywhere once they heard about Jon and Kate’s pending separation. (What's going to happen to the PLUS 8???)

7. Golden State Warriors: Jordan Hill – Michael Jackson’s “Speed Demon”

Hill’s a stallion bent on racing the other full breeds on this fast-paced team (no homo). I just wish that Baron had a mulligan clause written into the multi-year mistake contract he signed with the Clips last year. That’s why I still use Golden State in NBA 2K8…just to imagine what could have been. I just know that in twenty years, my son’s gonna walk up to me and ask, “Hey Dad, were the Warriors EVER good?” I’ve already picked out my favorite pocket square to cry on for the occasion.

Warriors…come out to play-eeee-aaa. Or not. I hate it when superstars get too greedy.

8. New York Knicks: Brandon Jennings – Snoop Dogg’s “Nothin’ But a G Thang”

Some people will go ahead and argue that Jennings lacks the skills, the jumper, and the size (diese) needed to engineer the point guard position in the NBA. But don’t believe the hate. I love the fact that Jennings can go coast-to-coast and serve up alleys on a platter for our wing guys. Plus, there’s something to be said about a point guard that carries himself with swag. You’ve got to love a guy that’s going to clown his rival (Rubio) by painting him as inferior. You’ve got to love a guy that tells reporters that his natural position is “3-guard”. I mean, we haven’t had a guy with swag this phenomenal since Walt, and New York desperately needs his flat top fade and confident stride to steal the spotlight.

Wait, where you expecting more? Come on, I’m like Tom from MySpace. You’ve gotta come strong to crack my top eight. And since this draft’s so ridiculously weak, there’s no reason to waste any more time once the talented top-five guys leave the Green Room. (Heck, even Jerry Maguire would have trouble locking these Pine Sol prospects into guaranteed deals.) I fully expect the deputy commish to be reading names by the end of the lottery.

Enjoy the NBA Draft, everyone.

Mike Benjamin is an aspiring sportswriter that hails from Queens, NY. You can check out more of his work at his blog, Points Off Turnovers. Make sure to start following him over at Twitter, too.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Curious Case of Kobe Bean Bryant

In sports, whenever a superstar is precariously close to realizing their biggest individual dreams, a myriad of historically relevant questions tend to saturate our discussion. In the case of one Kobe Bean Bryant, one question tends to become more pronounced than the others:

Has “The Mamba” eclipsed M-Jeff Jordan?

See, I've never been big on saying anyone has "eclipsed" anyone, because basketball (unlike any other sport) is about experimentation, mimicry, and free-flow (like I mentioned in the first installment of my “Basketball and the Black Aesthetic” series). Kobe gained from Mike, who gained from Dr. J, who gained from the Big O, who gained from Baylor, etc, etc, etc. No one is mutually exclusive.

Football is our chess match. Baseball is our marathon. However, Basketball…ahh, basketball…is the result of our creativity running wild…like an experiment that's constantly improved and reworked.

Instead of answering this question (which has been debated both ways and now bores me to death), allow me to posit a more intriguing query. No offence.

How will we remember Kobe Bean Bryant in 15 years?

Before winning this latest championship, the Kobe Bryant of 2003-2009 came off as a more smug reincarnation of Jordan, an athlete with a huge chip on his shoulder (Shaq). He's a product of the "Let's Find the Next Jordan!" basketball decade. He's also hurt by the increased scrutiny that faces the modern player, the YouTube clips, the blogs, etc, etc, etc. There will never be another MJ because people expect too much from our superstars now. Think about it. When LBJ hit that fadeaway 3 to beat the Magic in the ECF, how did you react? Honestly? Sad to say, I was like "It's about time." WHAT? Lebron had just hit a fade away three with 1.0 sec left over two guys to keep his team alive in the series...and I wasn't floored. Impressed? Yes. Floored? No, not really.

Therein lies the problem. As 2 Corinthians 10:12 says and I paraphrase, "When you do all of this comparing and grading, you quite miss the point" (Message). While no one is mutually exclusive as far as the acquisition of their skills and abilities go, everyone deserved to be treated separately from those who came before them. If my Uncle was a no-good cheat, does that mean that you're allowed to treat me as such? Of course not. Kobe should be allowed to exist simply as Kobe, LBJ simply as LBJ, Nate Robinson simply as Krypto-Nate (I kid, I kid).

But as fans, we don't allow that to happen. We need our guys to be tangible, to fit some designated mold we’ve previously crafted with our defective imaginations. But that's stupid. Everyone's different, and should be given space to be whoever they want. If Tim Thomas chooses to ignore his basketball potential and simply enjoy his steady stream of dollars and cents, why not let him?

Well, because it pains us to do so. He’s wasting his opportunity, we yell. That could’ve been me, we scream. You get to play basketball for a living, others complain. For this reason, we hate it when our guy misses a layup in crunch time, or clangs a free throw to extend the series, or loses a series-saving rebound. That could have been MY chance to shine. Heck, we’ve all dropped the ball before. We’ve probably wasted countless job hours surfing the web for free or filling out a popularity quiz on Facebook. Can’t Dwight miss a free throw every once in a while?

But this question brings me to my next point. Even if Kobe didn’t go on to win the NBA Finals this year, I would still regard Kobe as one of the best ever. Period. Here’s my chief concern with Kobe. He's never allowed us into his personal space. No, I’m not asking Kobe to set up a Twitter account so that I can track the amount of times he gets Peapod to deliver canned meats to his house. I don’t need to hear public relations stories about his excursions to soccer practice or listen to his Michael Jackson a cappella performances with his children. Kobe deserves his privacy, and I intend to leave him be.

However, I’ve always seen Kobe’s career as an elaborate ruse. Simply put, he’s always maintained his fa├žade, never allowing his innermost feelings to enter the public domain. Kobe shows us what he wants to show us…doing so in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions.

Let’s be clear: He’s not the first athlete who’s ever tried to pull the wool over our eyes. Magic did, smiling his way into our hearts long before allegations of extramarital affairs crept into our bylines. Michael did, giving us a show on the court while fighting to exorcise those demons of anger, infidelity and gambling that continue to infect his life. Tiger does, feeding us discouraging rhetoric while excelling in a sport that offers multiple championships sans physical contact. And Kobe now does, painting a watercolor of his wonderful life and career…even if that picture fails to reveal an honest story.

Yes, part of that is our fault. We eviscerated him after the Colorado mess because he edited our storybook ending, so to speak. Kobe was the man of our dreams, the guy that fit the generic superhero role that we’d come to expect from mere mortals following His Airness. Kobe was the single face to emerge unscathed following the “Next Jordan” movement, a divisive time that effectively swallowed up the careers of guys like the venerable Harold Miner. Kobe had proven himself a winner, a master craftsman, a tailor worthy of hire. But then, he became real. Too real, in fact, for our puritan ears to handle. His extracurricular exploits expedited his sentencing in the court of public opinion well before our hero stood proper trial. (He was found not guilty, by the way.)
Following the trial, his bitter divorce from that precocious partner (Shaq) and subsequent switch to 24, Kobe emerged without spot or wrinkle, or so he thought. In this age of digital media and convergence, we are allowed access to spaces once deemed irrelevant. Kobe, we need to see your true reaction to pressure, your true smile, your true disappointing face. We need to see your humanity.

MJ and Tiger are cool with blocking their humanity from us. But now, I can only remember Jordan as a BRAND. Michael Jordan IS the fist pump, the tongue wag, the Jays, the cologne, the movies…no more, no less. In reality, MJ is human. He doesn't have good relationships with any of his former teammates, he's recently divorced, and he's a rabid gambler. Unfortunately, he chose to become un-human, to become a brand...but people can no longer connect with who he is. Again, as the Bible says, "all those things (rings, money, brass) pass away." We only see a dark reflection of M.J., but he's just as lost and confused as any basketball player who once reigned supreme.

Kobe is a carbon copy of '96 Jordan, the Jordan that recoiled into his shell following the death of his Father and his foray into amateur baseball. The Jordan that no longer cared about public perception, that blacked out his youth from his memory. That's nothing that we should be proud of, or attempt to emulate. As fans, we are now starting to realize this (thanks to the economy, Obama, etc.) and are beginning to once again embrace distinct quality over monetary quantity. However, as the lynch pin between these two eras, Kobe has already chosen his path.

Yeah, we'll remember that Kobe Bryant was "The Black Mamba", the "Closer" before Kyra Sedgwick, the 2009 Finals MVP, a legend among mere mortals. However, because of the change that has occurred in our world, the historical perspective on Kobe Bryant will always come attached with jeers and respite.

Why? Because Kobe chose to embrace a defective archetype (the '96 Jordan)...and dismissed those unique characteristics to speak to his individual humanity.

Kobe is who we've created him to be, but we can't stand it. Alas, this is what he’s become.

Mike Benjamin, II

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Diamonds Are Forever

The four most common comments I get about the blog are these:
  1. Dude, why don't you show (Player X) or (Team X) some love?

  2. Even though I don't know ANYTHING about sports, I love your writing!

  3. Mike, I need more of you…write more columns!

  4. Wait, wait…so, you write? I thought all English majors became teachers!

Yup, this is the life I live. No, I don't plan on becoming an English teacher, to answer your question. I've been penning these entries for the last four years, documenting sports moments and describing random occurrences. From that initial first bus ride to my internship until now, I've attempted to become a Writer.

When I started writing this blog, my mission was simple. I wanted to make people smile. Before I had the ability to conjugate verbs in this space, I was laughing at my own corny jokes, crying after crushing Knick defeats, and contemplating my place in this dangerous new world. Of course, because your writer has grown and matured over the last four years, his writing has also changed substantially. After a year, I finally learned how to use multisyllabic words. However, my initial premise has remained the same: Encourage people to laugh loud and love life.

Whatever you've thought to yourself, someone else has thought about it too. Whatever you've been through, someone else has been through it too. However weird you may think you are, someone else out there is just as weird, if not weirder. More than anything else, if you've ever felt alone and unloved, believe me…you're not alone. I love you and Jesus loves you.

Hey, we're all on the same team here.

Ideally, this post would have been written to acknowledge my 100th Facebook post, to serve as some sort of centennial celebration. On that future day, I was hoping to gather enough people together so that I can jump into the fracas and realize my lifelong dream of crowd surfing (a post to come on this later). But who knows what the future holds. Why not celebrate the diamond anniversary? I mean, I just turned 22, I'm unmarried, and I'm jobless…when else will I have the time to write poetic prose entries like these? (Let's just pray for that job thing to come fast…)

So I present to you, the full archive of my writings thus far, or better yet, Mike Benjamin's Life: Where Ordinary Happens. Yeah, you might wince at some points. You'll probably laugh at most others. But rest assured, this blog was definitely home cooked, and made with a very special seasoning…directly from the heart.

Sports Stuff

Hoop Heaven (bold= Mike's Must Reads!)

#2: "Divine Intervention…and the New York Knicks" (2006)
#5: "Cannon vs. Wilmer? Knicks vs. the League? Am I asking too many questions?"
#10: "Courtside at the Women's B-Ball Game!" (2007)
#11: "All Star Game? Las Vegas? Was This REALLY a Good Idea????"
#13: "A Quick Course in Bracketology 101: A Mike Benjamin 'Note'"
#14: "An NCAA Tourney History Lesson" (Part 1)
#15: "An NCAA Tourney History Lesson" (Part 2)
#16: "While You Were Mourning Your Dead Bracket"
#17: "Another College Basketball Dynasty…Gator Nation Unite!"
#19: "Looking at an Action-Packed NBA Playoffs-Live in 2D"
#20: "The NBA Playoffs (Part 2): Illuminating Television"
#24: "Drafting a Draft Law before NBA Draft Day 2007"
#38: "My Conspiracy Theory: Examining Duke's Fall From Grace"
#39: "The NCAA Super Sweet 16"
#40: "Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk: See You in New York, Derrick Rose!"
#41: "Lebron ft. Kobe, Biggie, and 'The Message'- "My NBA Playoffs LP""
#42: "Can I Kick It?": Obama, 21, Swat Kats, and the NBA Finals Preview"
#43: "Jackson Has His Phil as Allen Burns Sas-sage in Kobe's Kitchen"
#44: "Draft '08: I've Gotta Get You Outta My System…Seriously"
#49: "Let's Turn Our Attention to the Round Ball!"
#50: "Wait…What's THIS Happening in New York?"
#54: "The Courier's Tragedy: Christmas Day's Game-Within-The-Game"
#59: "Mo' Better Hoops": Basketball and the African Aesthetic"
#60: "Mo' Better Hoops": Examining the Origins of Africana "Form"
#61: "Mo' Better Hoops": Magic, Larry, and the Form/Function Debate"
#63: "Mo' Better Hoops": M.J.'s Epic Transcendence of the Game"
#66: "Rescuing Black College Basketball"
#74: "The Deconstruction of the Mythical Folk Hero"

Football Collies

#4: "Hey John Mellencamp, I Got the Point after Chevy Commercial #62"
#7: "NFL Playoffs, Heartbreak (Knick Style), and Tom Brady's G Rating"
#8: "After 41 Long Years, It's About Time"
#9: "The NHL or MTV Challenge: The Duel?" Colts or Bears? YOU DECIDE."
#12: "Ode to Joy: Thomas Jones, Jets, That's What's Up!"
#25: "Peeking Over the Cubicle: An Intern's Preview of the NFL Season"
#26: "Time to Lay the Most Egregious of Smackdowns"
#27: "They Are Who We Thought They Were!" (Part One)
#28: "They Are Who We Thought They Were!" (Part Deux)
#35: "We Remember…Tony Dungy and Negro Bowl I"
#36: "Uhh, Can We Play the Big Game Already?"
#37: "For The Love of the Game"
#45: "The Morning After: Rambling on Spring '08, Facebook, and SB XLII"
#55: "NFL, College Cliches, and the Top Brother-Sister Combo…Period."
#57: "The Butterfly Effect (and some championship Sunday picks)"
#58: "The Super Bowl: A Shortcut to NFL Small-Market Success"

Alternative Sports Musings

#9: "The NHL or MTV Challenge: The Duel?" Colts or Bears? YOU DECIDE."
#18: "Asking the Tough Questions While Watching the '07 Masters…"
#29: "Hey Copy Editors, Let's Focus on the MLB Postseason, Okay?"
#51: "2008: The Greatest Sports Year of Our Lives!"

Holiday Helpings

#6: "Kirk Franklin, The Meaning of Christmas (and a little Egg Nog)"
#33: "Unchain My Heart: Sean Taylor, Barry Bonds, and the NBA"
#34: "Good Vibrations: My Christmas with Mariah, Kirk, and THAT SONG"
#53: "Christmas Dessert: Where My Inner Kenan Thompson Reveals Himself"
#54: "The Courier's Tragedy: Christmas Day's Game-Within-The-Game"

Road Trips
#3: "The Life of an Intern"
#10: "Courtside at the Women's B-Ball Game!"
#21: "Live From Panama: A Country Not Controlled by George Bush!"
#22: "Panama: Let's Live For The Wonderrrrr of It All!"
#46: "Back to Life, Back to Reality…But First, Beijing 2008"
#72: "When 'Doing the Most' Goes Wrong"

Columnist Comrades
#65: "Real Recognize Real: J-Till's Search for the Answer"
#67: “Our Monster Mash – The Method to Our March Madness!” (Krystal Johnson, Michael James, J-Till)
#68: “Our Monster Mash – The Madness Continues…” (J-Till)
#69: “Our Monster Mash – Duke’s ‘Just Win Baby!’ Attitude” (DeMario Greene)

Rants, Raves, and Theories
#1: Sports, College Life, and Tackling the Facebook Note Conundrum" (1st ever)
#23: "F.R.O.G. Helps to Ease the Pain of Loss"
#30: "Matt 5:5 – Blessed Are They That Mourn, For They Will Be Comforted"
#31: "My Ginormous Plan to Alleviate the Dregs of October"
#32: "In West Philadelphia, Born and Raised…"
#37: "For the Love of the Game"
#47: "Hey, What's The Deal With the 'New' Facebook?"
#59: "Mo' Better Hoops": Basketball and the African Aesthetic"
#60: "Mo' Better Hoops": Examining the Origins of Africana "Form"
#61: "Mo' Better Hoops": Magic, Larry, and the Form/Function Debate"
#62: "How NOT to Take an L on Valentine's Day"
#63: "Mo' Better Hoops": M.J.'s Epic Transcendence of the Game"
#64: "Straight Grillin': Your Average Nerd's Study Guide!"
#71: "The Bucket List"

What I'll Miss About College
#48: "A Nod to My Writing Past: Life as a Freshman Dorm Resident" (1)
#52: "Talentless Actors, The Horror of Hulk, and HBO's Greatness" (2)
#55: "NFL, College Cliches, and the Top Brother-Sister Combo…Period." (3)
#56: "What I'll Miss About College #4: "Career Fair" (4)
#64:"Straight Grillin': Your Average Nerd's Study Guide!" (5)
#70: "YEAH! My Thesis Presentation is so NOW!" (6)
#71: "The Bucket List"(7)
#72: "When Doing the Most Goes Wrong…" (8)
#73: "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" (9)

Hopefully, that'll catch you up on my stuff (if you care) and hold you over on your jobs. Enjoy!

(*For the record, I've got Lakers in six. Too much length, too much athleticism, too many fouls to give (to Howard). And they've got the best closer in basketball. Even though his personality is a complete farce. (Count how long he fake-laughs in this clip for more proof.) I miss the '96 Kobe. But LA's got it in 6.*)