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Wednesday
Oct092013

The God of Macedonia

I played against Bo McCalebb in 2010 when I was with the British team. I saw him play for the first time a few months before that in Paris for the Euroleague final four and I was blown away at how quick his first step was. For those of you NBA (or USC) aficionados you remember Robert Pack, Bo reminded me of him. Compact and explosive.

So when I played against him, he was that and more, he could finish, he was smart, very quiet and unassuming on the court, but seemed to always make the right play at the right time. In short he was a winner. (He also, and we'll just mention this briefly in passing, fouled me out in about 12 minutes on the court.)

Anyway, I became a fan from that point on and anyone who has seen him play will also say the same thing. He plays an exciting style but plays like a point guard should. Unfortunately he'll probably go down as one of those "greatest players to never play in the NBA" so if you haven't seen him play I suggest you do. 

So I wrote an article about him for Sports on Earth, but of course, as always happens with these things, the backdrop of Macedonia was as interesting or even more so than his story. I learned a lot and hope you do to:

The God of Macedonia. 

Friday
Aug092013

Writing for the FlipCollective

Paul Shirley, who is not only an awesome dude, a great bball player, and a fantastic writer, also has a stellar website he runs called FlipCollective.com. He asked me to write a few pieces for it over the course of six weeks.

'You can write about anything you want,' he told when I started, which was actually a little daunting for me. I mean, of all the things in the world to write about where would I start. But after a little thinking I got really into it and wrote a couple things I'm really proud of. One about growing up in LA, and taking the public bus everyday through Hollywood. My first foray into fiction; a love story set on Armistice day in Amiens, France. A piece about meeting Smush Parker, and the relationship between sportswriters and athletes. And a recount of my cross-country bus trip. Enjoy. 

Wednesday
Jul032013

Slovakia! Tahiti!

Man, sometimes I forget I even have this blog. 

So I did a piece on playing in Slovakia. Why? you ask. Well, because it's like no place on earth, that's why! It was probably the most fun to write of any thing I've done and brought back so many memories. It's funny at the time, when I played there, it all seemed so normal– this is just the way it is in Eastern Europe. Of course, when I sat down to write, I couldn't believe all the things players have to put up with. 

 

A month or so later I went to Tahiti and decided to write something un-basketball related. I basically went there with this brilliant idea that this tiny quasi-country was in soccer's Confederations cup and someone needed to tell the story. I thought it would be a funny, haha piece like a Bad News Bears sort of thing but Tahiti it turns out is complex and not at all the place I thought it would be. 

Wednesday
May152013

The Re-education of Chris Copeland

When I was in Spain way back around 2007, we had a crazy team. Our coach made Hannibal look like Tinkerbell, we had two players who, over the course of the year I webMD diagnosed with bi-polar disorder (you're welcome), but also some great guys. Brad Oleson, from Fairbanks, Alaska, who now plays with Barcelona, Charles Ramsdall, Camilo Rivero etc etc. 

So anyway, first day of training camp, in walks this baby-faced kid named Chris Copeland, with the shy smile and ridiculous jump shot. The first season in Europe is the hardest for any player, you are yet to make a name for yourself so you're constantly walking a tightrope while desperately trying to fit in. It's tough, and if you get through it you can point to your first season as a sort of coming of age year.

Chris didn't last long in Santiago, however, he was cut after only a few weeks. I talked to him here and there over the years, then one day this past fall I pick up the LA times and I read that some guy named 'Copeland' scored 34 for the Knicks against the Celtics in the preseason. So.... this piece is an attempt to fill in the gaps, understand how an insecure kid no one had ever heard of went from there to here. While, in some small way, hoping to understand my own path. Enjoy.

http://www.sbnation.com/longform/2013/4/11/4174374/chris-copeland-new-york-knicks-profile

Thursday
Feb282013

Smush Parker SAVES THE WORLD

I recently wrote an article for the Classical about Smush Parker saving western civilization. It's a pretty cool story, and true, check it out if you like yogurt (you'll understand after read it).

Anyway, what really struck me after the piece went up was how popular (I use that term loosely) in the twitter world Smush still is. If you type his name into a search there are still dozens of reference to him everyweek, all negative. Even a Lakers website had a battle royale to pick the worst point guard in Lakers history last month and Smush won by a landslide. 

Ok, Smush is Smush, he's lazy and probably not a great teammate, I saw that first hand. But that can be said of hundreds of players, probably half of the NBA, you can argue that Kobe is a terrible teammate. (Honestly, I'd hate to play with Kobe, if he ever told me to put on my 'big boy pants' in public like he did to Pau we'd have some serious issues). If you look at Smush's NBA numbers though, they are comparable to the revered Derek Fisher, and Smush was mostly playing out of position his two years with the Lakers. If anything Smush should be praised for coming out of nowhere, literary nowhere (undrafted out of Fordham) and winning a starting spot on the Lakers, instead he's seen the epitome of wasted talent and apathy.

Of course one of the reasons he's so loathed has to do with how we, as a basketball watching public, are so obsessed with NBA celebrity. Kobe called him the 'worst' player he's played with years after Smush was on the Lakers and if Kobe said it then we all jump on the bad player bandwagon and condemn Smush to a lifetime of twitter purgatory. Ironically Smush hasn't played in the NBA in like 4 years and is still a pretty good player by world standards.  

Another reason Smush is still the target of so much twitter ire is probably because Smush has an amazingly memorable name that just feels good rolling off your tongue. Try it, say it out loud....Fans, I believe, are holding onto a deep seated unsatiable Smush-filled anger that he wasn't a better player and didn't have a long enough NBA career so we could make nightly Smush-y references for a decade or more, and that hurts all of us. :-(

Smush however, has had his revenge and saved us all from ourselves and the loss of good Greek Yogurt. He's not a superhero as you might think. He's just a man, with a great name and a horrible nemesis and great sense of breakfast food.

The article- http://theclassical.org/articles/when-smush-parker-saved-the-world

Video evidence (Smush is #6 in blue)- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hcAXMKovSE&playnext=1&list=PLD76E55AB48BC7130&feature=results_video