Check out my debut piece on The Pro Basketball Talk: http://bit.ly/rfA0f6
Though a part of me doesn’t believe he’ll stay retired, just the fact that my favorite player called it quits even for a day is enough for a blog post.
See that picture above? Randy Moss’ left hand never touched that ball. (Heck, no other part of Moss’ body or pads touched that ball, either). Instead, Moss used it to shield off Darrelle Revis, who some call the game’s best corner.
Amazing, outlandish plays like that are what made Moss great, a “Freak” as many often called him. You just didn’t see people do the things that Moss did — not even Jerry Rice, who still sits just above Moss as the best receiver ever but never had his athleticism, in my humble opinion.
It was through Moss that I discovered that Madden 2000 had a glitch. Send Moss on a go or corner route and you weren’t catching that speed demon. Thing is, it seemed many of the same rules or “glitches” applied to Moss in real life.
Teams across the NFL — most notably the Packers — drafted players and devised coverages with the specific, futile hope of stopping Moss. Most of the time, it didn’t work. How else do you explain his 53 career TD catches (second most), 14,858 yards (fifth most) and 954 receptions (seventh most)? Like it or not, the only person stopping Moss was Randy himself.
And perhaps that’s the most frustrating thing about Moss. As we all know, he played when he wanted to. Do I believe that he’s the only player who takes plays off? Not a chance.
But if Moss would have put the nonsense on the shelf last year, when he bounced among the Patriots, Vikings and Titans, or had some kind of filter to hold back during his often-entertaining interviews, then maybe, just maybe, today’s retirement announcement would have more meaning — and believability.
People often ask me who are my favorite sports teams, to which, with no remorse, I say I have none (That’s what happens when you grow up in VA and the chance for a real hometown team is stolen by the nation’s capitol).
I’m a player’s guy, and in the NFL, Randy Moss was my player.
It all started on Thanksgiving 1998, when the Freak snagged three passes for three touchdowns and 163 yards. The ease and poetry of his play was something I hadn’t seen or appreciated since Michael Jordan (who had played what should have been his last game just five months earlier).
When Gary Anderson missed that field goal against Atlanta in the NFC Championship, I was heartbroken (and still to this day, think he missed on purpose). Randy Moss wasn’t supposed to lose in my book, especially during that magical 15-1 season.
When Moss broke Rice’s record for TD catches in a season with 23, I was elated. Sure, I knew that wouldn’t put Moss ahead of Rice in history (remember, Rice caught his 22 in just 12 games), but Randy Moss was supposed to have a record like that, a mark that could combat those who say he’s not the second-best ever.
And when Moss retired today, I was confused.
Confused as to why he would end it all now, just weeks after his agent warned us to look out for the “old Randy Moss.” Agents talk, of course, and Moss is 34, but one of history’s most gifted players is supposed to ride into the sunset differently than this.
Taking plays off is one thing. Saying “no moss” when there’s so much left to be offered is another.
At the age of 21, while most of his peers were hyped that they could now legally drink, Stevie Wonder was writing, producing and singing this masterpiece.
Things like that can really put life in perspective. Stevie had his first hit at 13. Bobby Fischer was killing cats internationally in chess at 15. And Martin Luther King, Jr. led the Montgomery Bus Boycott at the age of 26.
I’m 27, so I guess I’d better get moving.
Of course, I say that knowing that fame is not the dictator of how effectively you walk out your God-given gifts.
Take Amy Winehouse. Before tragically dying yesterday at 27, she had some hit songs and Grammys to her credit. But in the end, most of the talk isn’t about her music, but about how drug use ultimately resulted in her talent being wasted.
So what is a full life? Dying at 27 seems too young, but even my 91-year-old grandfather and 90-year-old grandmother go to bed each night hoping to see tomorrow.
The clock on MLK’s life stopped at 39. Still, most would say he lived life to the fullest. Why? Because he walked out his purpose to the end, believing that though he might not get there, his life’s work would push those within his sphere of influence to the promised land.
Simone Weil said it best: “To be always relevant, you have to say things which are eternal.” Indeed, your legacy and character will always speak for you, even beyond the grave.
This is kinda old news: Bow Wow stupidly challenging Kobe to a game of 1-on-1 and Kobe taking it WAY too seriously. But to me, the funniest part comes within the first minute, when Bow Wow tells his “yes man” to lace up his new shoes for him.
Come on, man. I’m sure being Bow Wow’s lackey pays well now, but your dignity will be worth a lot more in about 10 years when little dude is no longer relevant.
No doubt the above picture will get your attention. But it’s the shots that James Harrison fired from his mouth that have people talking.
From pretty much saying that Big Ben lost the Super Bowl for Pittsburgh to diagnosing Rashard Medenhall with fumblitis, the Steelers linebacker left few stones unturned on what’s normally the slowest day of the sports calendar.
What’s more, he did what few of us would ever dare to by badmouthing his boss, NFL commissioner Roger Goddell. I guess the rules don’t apply when you’re making $51 million.
Harrison called Goodell “stupid,” “crook,” “the devil” and “a puppet,” all while topping it off with a gay slur and saying he would let his boss burn to death.
So James, tell us how you really feel.
In no way do I condone the words or picture of Harrison (Ironically, yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the release of “Boyz N Da Hood,” a classic film highlighting the problems of street gangs and violence). But my biggest problem with Harrison has come in the aftermath of his comments.
Reportedly, Harrison called Roethlisberger today and said the writer twisted some of his words and he didn’t mean what he said.
Really? How do you twist a quote like telling your QB to “stop acting like Peyton Manning; you ain’t that and you know it”? Or one that says stop “asking the D to bail you out”?
Yes, journalists, including myself, are paid to write well and draw in the audience, but come on; we aren’t that creative. Besides, the photo of you with guns blazing as well as your past history of violent hits and loaded quotes aren’t helping your cause.
(Lesson to journalists: Record all interviews whenever possible. You never know when folks will get a case of amnesia and cry foul).
It’s like when athletes and celebrities send out regrettable tweets, only to later offer the tired excuse that their “account was hacked.” Yeah, OK.
The ever-expanding ways of social media have allowed influential people to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. I was always taught, if you’re man enough to say it once, you’re man enough to stand by it, consequences and all.
At one point in the article, Harrison said:
“If a guy has a choice of hitting me high or low, hit me in the head and I’ll pay your fine. Just don’t hit me in the knee; that’s life-threatening. How’m I going to feed my my family if I can’t run?”
Well, James, the better question is: How are you going to feed your family if you keep running your mouth?
The first song I ever danced to was “Bad.” The first concert I ever went to was “The Bad World Tour” in DC. The first CD I ever bought was “The Jackson 5: Ultimate Collection.” The first song that played at my wedding was “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough.”
You get my drift…
Here’s one of my favorite MJ videos along with four reasons why this is my most beloved song from the King of Pop (followed by Rock With You, Never Can Say Goodbye, Off the Wall, Human Nature):
-The sheer greatness of the song and its rhythm, making it impossible not to dance to (Yes, the force has got a lot of power)
-The smooth style of MJ’s get-up in the video, with the tux and rolled-up sleeves
-The fact that the video was way before its time and even now, when the graphics could be laughable, MJ’s moves still make it watchable
-How great is the “Ooooo” in the beginning? Perfect way to set off a party (or wedding, as per my case)
At first glance, Apple has tackled it all while taking over the technological world. Mac computers finally caught on, leading to iPods, iPhones, iPads and now, even an Apple TV is rumored to be in the works.
It’s been enough to even convert me, a person who cautiously embraces technology. I got my first smartphone last year (a Droid) and my wife has gradually converted me to Apple products through her love of the Macbook and iPhone.
But while it’s great to have your favorite music, limitless apps and mind-engrossing games literally in the palm of your hands, there’s one thing that Apple hasn’t and can’t provide…
It’s a concept that Chicago-based pastor and author Dan Darling breaks down in his appropriately titled book.
People often say that the Bible is ancient, that it’s unable to connect with a generation that is always on the go and doesn’t truly feel connected unless its on a computer or phone. Thing is, without a true connection to God, our life of work, Internet-surfing and apps lacks purpose.
It took one chapter for the book to connect with me. The first chapter discusses waiting on God, and like Darling’s wife, I recently underwent a multiple-year health struggle. No matter how much we prayed and sought treatment, little seemed to change.
Darling’s words provided a good reminder that, in our microwave society, God still works through patience by strengthening our faith while giving us reason to praise His perfect timing in the end.
Other good nuggets include:
-It’s OK to question God, as long as it comes with a respect for His majesty and an expectation that He will answer in love and due time.
-Life with God is hard. Life without God is dangerous.”
-While we expect to always be connected in this world (how often do we complain about our slow Internet or 3G?), we too easily forget the vine of Jesus that connects us to life’s hotspots, answers and the universal King: God.
I like how Darling takes Biblical stories and illuminates the true feelings of those like Elijah and Abraham with vivid descriptions, challenging questions and stirring revelation. And just as the overriding theme of the Bible is that the Lord wins, you too feel confident in your ultimate victory after being closely related to the people of Biblical times.
Christian or not, I highly recommend this book. You won’t be dumbed down by over-the-head religious talk. Instead it offers down-to-earth insight that we all could use in travailing life’s daily challenges and demands.
Don’t waste time searching your smartphone or iPad for life’s answers; instead, get a dose of Biblical wisdom from iFaith. There’s a God for that.
It just dawned on me* — you know who might be the happiest that Mike Brown is now coaching the Lakers?
Think about it. The argument against Jackson — and a petty one, at that, as the titles kept rolling in — is that anybody could win 11 titles if they had Michael Jordan, Kobe and Shaq at their disposal.
Well, now that Brown’s taken over in LA, that theory will be somewhat put to the test. Remember, Brown coached LeBron (and a declining Shaq) in Cleveland, and while they had great regular-season success, a four-game sweep in the 2007 Finals was as close as the Cavs got to a ring.
Now he’ll have another great in Kobe (who admittedly is on the back end of his career) to lead his team under the LA spotlight.
Yes, Phil did have MJ, Kobe and Shaq in their primes**, so the parallels aren’t exactly the same. And this isn’t me hoping that Brown fails as a coach just to prove a point (Never met him, but he seems like a respectable guy who was one of the fall guys in LeBron-gate).
But perhaps now those who haven’t given Phil Jack the respect he deserves as a coach will take heed after they see Brown try his hand. Eleven rings, including four three-peats and a two-peat, ain’t easy.
*I couldn’t write this post without saying something about the above picture. Based on Kobe’s position and Dwight Howard’s attentive look, apparently they didn’t teach guys how to tie a tie at Kobe and Dwight’s high schools.
**Finally, me loosely comparing Phil Jackson’s coaching of MJ and Kobe and Brown’s coaching of LeBron and Kobe is in NO WAY an admission that LeBron is on MJ’s level. Check the last post for more.
You’ve all heard it by now, how former Chicago Bull and sidekick Scottie Pippen said while Michael Jordan is the greatest scorer, LeBron James may be the greatest player of all time.
Stephen A called it ignorant, blasphemous even. And I totally agree.
If you need a simple answer, check out this clip from the upcoming movie “Bad Teacher,” where a student and teacher argue over who’s better, MJ or LBJ. Always cracks me up and it’s so true.
Basically, we shouldn’t even be having this argument right now. Nor should we be talking about Dirk versus Bird, Kobe versus Jordan or whatever other debate people use to fill the ever-demanding appetite of the social media.
LeBron is 26. Dirk is older at 32, but still playing. Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant are 22. None of them have a ring. Can we really decide their place in history a decade before they even think of retirement and against guys like MJ, Magic and Bird, who have a handful of rings?
No, we can’t. So let’s stop wasting our time (or at least wait until they put together, you know, a career).
Like most, I believe that Michael Jordan is the GOAT. No one led the league in scoring every time that his team won a title — except Jordan. No one won six Finals MVPs — except MJ. And if you want to talk defense, only one other player (Gary Payton) made nine All-Defensive first teams like His Airness.
Above all of the awards, though, here’s what I think is lost on some about Jordan. Once he entered his prime in the 1990s and after he reached his first NBA Finals, every time that MJ entered training camp that decade, he led his team to the championship podium.
No matter who fate threw his way — Magic, Ewing, Barkley, Shaq, Isaiah, Stockton and Malone, you name it — Jordan dismantled his foes and in some ways, their careers, leaving their fingers bare from the gleam of championship gold.
Never before have we seen a killer instinct like Jordan’s. We could always assume that no matter who the Bulls played or how long a series went, MJ was going to pull it out.
It wasn’t until this postseason that we’ve seen consistent clutch play from LeBron. And it’s impressive.
LBJ’s physical attributes meshed with his vision and evolving defense make him an athletic specimen that we’ve really never seen before. (If you think about it, he actually might be more Magic than MJ). And because of that, people feel comfortable having these premature GOAT debates.
But right now, as he enters his second Finals, LeBron is in the same boat as the Michael Jordan of the 1980s.
Few would argue LeBron’s the best player in the league, but until he gets that ring (not 6, not 7, not 8, right?), he’s just a great player with potential to enter the top 10 or five ever.
Don’t get me wrong — rings don’t define greatness, as guys like Malone, Barkley and Ewing can attest to. But they are necessary when it comes to considering the GOAT.
Nobody wanted to hear that Jordan was better than Magic or Bird until he did more than just stick out his tongue. MJ had to actually win something of magnitude. And boy did he.
If LeBron cops a title this year and continues to tear up the league, could he one day be considered the greatest? Perhaps. But that’s a discussion for 10-15 years from now. Don’t be a prisoner of the moment.
Until then, Michael Jordan and his six rings are the greatest. And at this point in time, that’s the only argument we need.
With three big signings in two swift days, punctuated by one primal yell (courtesy of everyone’s favorite, Chris Bosh), a new world order of sorts was made in the NBA.
Almost everyone, including myself, refused to accept it. No doubt LeBron is a beast of a player, but did we really want the author of “The Decision” running things in the NBA’s new era? And not only that, but you had to figure that this AAU/video-game approach to pursuing a title could only lead to bad things (Hello Carmelo-drama and daily questions of where Dwight Howard and Chris Paul will land…in 2012).
The Celtics repped for the old guard by downing the Heat in their first three regular season meetings. The Lakers kept hope alive by going on a tear after the All-Star break. And the Spurs painted potential by snagging the top seed out West for the playoffs — when the games really count.
Then, with three upsets (depending on who you ask) in two rounds, punctuated by one stunning sweep, the NWO took over.
Who, besides maybe Charles Barkley, saw the Memphis Grizzlies’ six-game dismantling of the Spurs coming? (C’mon. Be honest).
Then Dallas seemingly defied logic by playing beyond its playoff potential and silencing the discombobulated Lakers in a sweep (Maybe Mark Cuban is on to something with this whole silent approach…).
And while Rondo’s gruesome elbow injury and the unexplainable midseason trade of Kendrick Perkins helped its cause, the Heat finally conquered Mount Celtic.
The more I write, the older I’m making myself feel, so I’m going to wrap this up soon.
See, I was born in 1984, the same year Michael Jordan descended upon the league, eventually ushering Magic and Bird out the door and becoming the GOAT — only he didn’t need “The Decision,” South Beach or a big parade. He just made us all love his shoes.
Back then, the question was “Who would be the next Magic, Bird, or Dr. J?” MJ answered that in 12 swift seasons. In between, he got distracted by baseball and retired as much as Brett Favre, so those of my generation weren’t taken totally aback when the MJ era officially ended in 2003 (I’m reluctantly counting the forgettable Wizards years).
But it wasn’t until, oh, a week ago that the reasons for this NWO made sense. By then, it was too late. The upsets and takeover had already happened. Here’s why:
-Kobe may only be 32, but he’s entering his 16th season. Mixed in there are long playoff runs, summer Olympic stints and several surgeries. That’ll take more toll than the Jersey Turnpike.
-The average age of the Celtics Big 3 is 34.
-The average age of the Spurs’ stars (Duncan, Ginobili and Parker) is 32, and the guy helping to bring down that average (Parker) is entering his 12th year. In other words, it ain’t 1999 San Antonio. Party’s over.
-The likes of Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and LeBron are no longer college-age stars working out the kinks in their game at the professional level. They’ve taken some lumps, figured out what it takes to excel and, though this is just the beginning, they now have a few meaningful wins and awards to back up the hype.
Throw in the ever-evolving game of Dirk Nowitzki (48 points on 15 shots and no 3-pointers…bananas) and you get the idea.
Age — it catches up to us all, contriving a defense that not even the Triangle Offense or LBJ can bull through. Fortunately for those of us on the sideline, the NBA tends to age more like wine, getting finer with time as we appreciate the past and (eventually) welcome the future.