A Gathering of Church Brethren, Or My Richard Sherman Moment

Richard Sherman’s  NFC Championship game saving play and immediate reaction during his post game interview has spurned a lot of discussion.  The reaction, mostly negative seem to come from two separate parties:  One that is shocked that the gladiator leaving the field of gridiron battle was not calm and composed immediately after making the play of his life.  The second was a selective set of white folks viewing him as a black out of control mandingo ready to devour every white woman in the Emerald City.

I thought the interview with Erin Andrews was awesome!  His raw and unapologetic rant, the result of the competing for the ultimate prize in his sport against a heated rival made me feel as if I was on the field.  While others found it difficult to understand, I resonated being totally invested in stiff competition with personal feelings at stake.  I thought of my own Richard Sherman moments.

One that I will never forget happened years ago playing basketball with some brothers from a church I attended.  We met every Saturday afternoon at a local community center.  The competition was pretty good and the name of the game was to win and stay on the court.  These games often were personal to me because we had rivalries among the brethren.  That was the way I felt anyway…

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

Growing up I wasn’t a basketball player.  Baseball was my sport.  I taught myself how to play through battling against some of the toughest players the area.  I thrived on effort and intuition.  I did whatever it took to win and it didn’t matter if I felt I had to score all of the points or none.  All I cared about was winning or competing at my highest level with no regrets.  I wasn’t that guy who tried to “Be Like Mike.”  For me it was about not cheating myself from within.  Basketball was just a game, but competing in the right way meant that anything less than an all out effort was selling myself short.  If I didn’t stand up for myself I believed I would be punking out.   In those years I was still learning how to be a man.  Part of my personal rights of passage was to match myself up against other men in competition.   Simply put, I believed that if I can play this game and beat guys who were often times better than me skill wise or more athletically inclined, that meant I could compete in life in the career market and otherwise.  It was a self test of survival.

I wasn’t a great player but I could hold my own and I often did.  I gained a lot of respect among my peers.  For some reason, not with some of these guys I played with from church.  I would often get picked last below players whom I knew I was better than. Sometimes I wouldn’t get picked at all.  That would burn me up.  Once captains were chosen, I would throw my finger up asking one of the guys to pick me up.  Sometimes no one did.  I would have to wait and get ‘next.’  That would burn me up even more!

This one particular day I was one of the last picked up.  One of the players on the other team was one of the better players.  He had never picked me on his side.  So once again, I created a chip  boulder on my shoulder that said, “You are going to regret that you didn’t pick me…. ALL FREAKING DAY LONG.”

As custom, we gathered to pray first and play began.  As the games went on my team collected a few wins.  We took on all challengers and different team combinations from game to game.  There was trash talking, and more than a few arguments.  Towards the end of the evening, after winning 6 straight games I was ready to shut it down.  For years I had struggled with a sharp shooting pain down my right leg, which I found out later was sciatic nerve pain from a herniated disk in my back.  At this point I had a hard time walking.  One of the players on the other team wanted one more rematch.  Marjobo and I went to school together so we went way back.  He had been talking trash to me all day long though I was sticking it in his ass.  He was especially irritating and was relentlessly non stop with his rants and name calling.

Sizin'en Up

I have never been the trash talker many guys are.  I always believed the biggest competition was with myself.  I’ve gotten my ass handed to me by some great players.  And I’ve done my share of winning.  But I had no sorrows if I knew I gave it my all against them.  My never quit no excuses attitude is how I got my respect.  On the flip side, guys who talked trash to me often took me to a deeper level of intensity.  My friend Richard Dix knows this all too well.  We played one on one often.  On most occasions the results went about 50-50.  Richard was long, athletic and could jump.  But, Richard’s downfall was his pride.  If he were winning, he had to let me know about it.  He would talk, laugh and say stupid things.  From then on I would start into another gear.  As I would pile on the points he would say something like, “Oh boy, I see you done got quiet.  Here we go!”   I would be in an assassin’s mentality. Richard called it my, “You ain’t my friend no more mode.”  Either way, I don’t think he ever beat me when I was in that state of mind.

I told Marjobo my leg was bothering me.  I needed to sit it out.  He egged me on saying I was a scared punk who didn’t want him to beat me.  After a few minutes I said to myself, “F’it… let’s go!”

The two teams went at if for about 20-25 minutes.  Back and forth the score went.  Game was to 12 but it was win by 2.  Richard was there but he was watching.  Basketball never meant that much to him.  After a couple games, he was just hanging with the brothers.  He was entertained by the drama.  Marjobo was talking and talking.  I never said a word.  Dragging my leg around I did everything I could to rebound and play defense.  Finally we went up 16-15 with one basket to go for game time.  I received a pass on a cut to the paint, went up for the shot and as the ball went through the basket, my inner Richard Sherman came through in front of all these dudes I went to church and worshipped with every Sunday as I screamed at the top of my lungs:

GET YO MOTHERFU#@$! ASSES OFF MY GOTDAMN COURT!  THIS IS MY MOTHERFU#@$! HOUSE!   BUSTA ASS NI@@AS CAN’T F#@! WITH ME!!!!!!!!  NOW DON’T SAY SH#! ELSE!!!!  ALL YA’LL DISMISSED!!!

There was total silence in the gym, except for Richard who was on the floor rolling around laughing.  He said, “I told ya’ll.  Don’t say nothing to that dude.  Just play and leave him alone!”  I’m sure the other guys were thinking, “I knew he wasn’t saved!”

I can tell you over 10 years later that my response was totally unplanned and 100% organic.  It didn’t matter.  My mother, my kids, the pastor or anybody could have been there at the time.  I was mentally out of my mind with a euphoric satisfaction that was probably something like being high on crack for the first time.  My reaction wasn’t who I was on a day to day basis.  But it was within me.  I was a conquering warrior for that moment.   When I went home I could barely move the pain was so horrific.  I had an MRI and had the first of two back surgeries less than two weeks later.  For all of the days I suffered waiting on the surgery, as I reflected back I said to myself every single time it was all worth it.  I was just a guy playing some rec ball.  This wasn’t my career or my life’s dream.  What do you think it was like for Richard Sherman?

Marjobo

**Marjobo Harrell who was named after Martin Luther King, John Kennedy, and Bobby Kennedy (Mar- Jo- bo) was a St. Louis Firefighter who died tragically in a motor cycle accident.  He really was an awesome guy!  Much love and rest in peace brother!  

Advertisements

Weekend Sports at a Glance

Manny Pacquiao (right) of the Philippines lands a punch on the face of Miguel Angel Cotto of Puerto Rico before Pacquiao won their WBO Welterweight Championship bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Nov. 14 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Pacquiao won his seventh world title in as many divisions.

Manny Pacquiao whooped up on Miguel Cotto Saturday night.  Manny is a freak and the only way we are going to settle this pound for pound mess is for he and Money May (Floyd Mayweather Jr.) get it on.  I say summer 2010!  Make it happen fellas!

And yes Floyd should get more but don’t try to make like Manny don’t bring fans in cause he does.  Somewhere between 60-55% should do. 

But if Manny sings “Sometimes When We Touch, on Jimmy Kimmel Live or anyone else’s show, he should fork over another 20% immediately!  Bro!  Put down the mike and stick with the gloves!

The Bengals swept my Steelers?  WTF?

And Marvin Lewis, do you really want to bring in Larry Johnson?  Come on!  That’s actually good news for us Steelers fans.  Go ahead and F up a good thing you got going.

Other Questions:

Has Touchdown Jesus had enough of Charlie Weiss’ act? 

I mean, he definitely fooled their dumb asses into giving him that ridiculous contract.  I ain’t mad that he got over.  The elites at ND must be the same type of folk who run other Fortune 500 companies into the ground! 

Reason 126 of why Michael Jordan sucks as a GM!

While most GMs and team presidents hang around their ball clubs and spend hours on the phone with scouts evaluating talent, or speaking other GMs proposing trades, trying to figure out how they can improve the team, MJ when he’s not golfing is sitting courtside at a Miami Heat game becasue Dwayne Wade is endorsing the Jordan brand and wearing his gear.  Way to prioritize MJ.  You never disappoint to show who #1 is!

And YES my Flyers are still in the mix!  They are in the semifinals this weekend as they look to repeat as Illinois State Champions!

They will play at Wheaton Warrenville South on Saturday outside of Chicago.  (One of the nicest neighborhoods I have ever been in.)  Two years ago they beat us at this same stage of the playoffs.  We need to return the favor this year!  Go Flyers!

Flyers WR Keante Minor (7, at right) makes the catch from QB Detchauz Wray (not shown) as O

Air Shame!

marcus-jordan

When I read this story yesterday it really pissed me off.  I know it shouldn’t.  But it did.

It seems that University of Central Florida player Marcus Jordan aka Michael Jordan’s son wants to wear his father’s named shoe as he suits up for the basketball team.  The problem is that the university has a contract with Adidas. When an apparel company sponsors a program, they give away free shoes, uniforms, sweats, warmups, baseball caps and everything else the company thinks it can slap a logo on so that you can represent their brand.   All the gear a guy ever wants is at his disposal.  Not to mention the school also received a lot of cash from the company to have their players wear their stuff.  According to ESPN that cash for UCF is $3 million per year.

Well Marcus in the spirit of dear old dad doesn’t understand that simply because he can have as much free Air Jordan gear as his heart desires, neither he nor the school is actually a signed to a Nike/Jordan deal. 

As a matter of fact, Marcus Jordan isn’t even a top 200 college player.  If it were not for his father, no one would know his name. 

This reminds me of when his dad famously went ‘cover up’ with the American flag as his weapon of choice during the olympic games in 1992.  Jordan was obviously with Nike and his own label but Team USA had been sponsored by Reebok and thus had Reebok made uniforms and warmups. While the actual uniforms didn’t have a company logo on them, the team warm up jacket did.  Jordan, while standing on the podium, put the large flag over his shoulder as if he were a proud American when in reality he simply wanted to cover the Reebok logo.  On one hand it’s understandable that he was in a competetive shoe business and didn’t want his image associated with a competing company.  Equally true however is that Jordan didn’t have to play in the olympics.  He could have paid more money to Team USA than Reebok did and had his logo on everyone’s gear.  But he didn’t.  Instead he used the opportunity and reaped the benefits while doing something shewed and calculating while masking patriotism.

So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that young Marcus thinks he’s also better than everyone else on his team, and at his school.

The fact is Marcus can rep his father’s gear everyday of the week in class.  He can wear Jordan’s in practice.  But in the game he represents the University of Central Florida not Air Jordan.  Its a shame the school will bow down to this foolishness based on being scared that this average player will leave and go to some other school where they can say, “Hey, that’s Michael Jordan’s son on our team!”

Shutever!

As for the people at Adidas;  

If Marcus shows up in a game with some Air Jordan’s on… they would be well served to yank that contract right out from under them.  Let Marcus sponsor the team.  Maybe he should coach it too!  Maybe all the fans should be required to wear Jordan gear.

I digress~

Wierd Weekend In Sports

Hall of Shame Fame Induction Speech

 Basketball Hall of Fame Opens Its Door to the Legends

I got to see most of the NBA Hall of Fame Induction ceremony.  Congrats to some deserving new members.  John Stockton, David Robinson, Jerry Sloan and C. Vivian Stringer are definitely worthy of their honors.  I thought Stringer’s speech was quite moving and heartfelt.  But I’ll be damn if Michael Jordan’s speech wasn’t the most unusual that I have ever heard in any sport.

On one hand as he sat there before being introduced and the video tribute played for him preceeding his introduction, the man seemed so humbled and out of his comfort zone.   He knew this was the pinnacle of any player’s career and he was about the be crowned.   When he got to the mic he was in tears as he tried to muddle through his first few words.  But boy oh boy did he warm up with the rants regarding his competetors throughout the years such as Isaiah Thomas, Byron Russell, John Starks, and coaches Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy.  He covered just about every controversy on the court too.  Well just about. 

He talked about Thomas for instance freezing him out of that first All Star game in the mid 80s, but not how he in turn froze Thomas out of the 92 Dream Team.  He talked about how then Knick coach Riley wouldn’t allow good friend Charles Oakley have dinner with Jordan during Oakley’s years with the Knicks, and how Van Gundy said Jordan befriended opposing players only to try to embarrass them on the court.  He even talked about how Russell challenged him during Jordan’s baseball days saying that Jordan should come back to the NBA so Russell could guard him.  Of course it was Russell who is immortaly posterized as the cat falling back as Jordan shoots jumpers on two separate occasions to win games over him in the NBA Finals. 

Unlike some Hall of Famers who speak about family and friends who helped them get there, Jordan hit that only briefly.  He used most of the speech to brag about his exploits.  I thought it was funny.  True to form.  The only thing he said about his kids was that he didn’t want to be them.  And he, the master of the Jordan brand that has paid him hundreds of millions of dollars even found time to bitch about all the thousand dollar apiece tickets he had to purchase for family and his lil trophy girlfriend to gain entrance into the ceremony. 

I’m thinking to myself, ‘Damn MJ!  You should have told the boys to watch it on TV!  You blows a thousand dollars within the first 10 minutes of a casino visit.  Your kidding right? ‘

 Serena blows a gasket!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what did y’all think of Serena Williams going off Saturday night?  First off it seems to me that Kim Clijsters is on an amazing role as a new mother and she is truly shining at this years US Open.  She not only beat Venus the other day, she had Serena all over the place too as the younger of the Williams sisters hit shot after shot into the net or out-of-bounds.  It was obvious that Serena wanted some get-back for what happened to her sister the other night and it showed as she tried to out power Clijsters to her own demise.  I knew it was a wrap when Serena slammed her racquet into pieces after losing a critical point.  Kim was all in her head and that’s just the way it is.

In terms of the foot fault; well that was a bad call and I don’t think a foot fault is something that a judge ought to get wrong considering where she was positioned.  Especially at such an important stage in the match.

That being said I am not going to pile on Serena for flipping her lid about it.  Don’t get me wrong.  It looked bad and I cringed as she kept going after the judge throwing on ‘F’ bomb after another.  But on the strength of her overall resume’ and good that she’s been to the sport, I think she deserves a Mulligan because this is the first time I can recall this happening.  If it doesn’t become a habit, it’s not a problem.  Besides that, as I recall when I first started watching tennis back in the day, a certain fellow was notorious for throwing such fits on the regular.  He is not only still revered in the tennis world, he happens to be the main broadcasting host of the tournament on both the men’s and women’s matches.

USC Does The Buckeyes

This just in from former USC fullback LenDale White.   “Ohio State still suckes!

Yes the Trojans went into ‘The Big House’ and rolled the Luckeyes for like the 25th time.  Whenever you get through with it, the Big Ten does not and will not be able to stand against the likes of the PAC 10 and the SEC.  We see it every year in bowl games. 

And big ups to Michigan too whooping up on Notre ShameDame!  You see all that extra work does pay off!  I was pulling for you HARD as I sat watching part of the game.  The Wolverines were the most important team in the world to me at that time.  Now that you have done The Domers, I care not what you do with the rest of your year.  Your season is now complete!

Next week!  My favorite team is…. 

wait for it……… that’s right!  MICHIGAN ST.   GO SPARTANS!

Rare Air Hall of Fame Inductions

Hall of Fame inductee Michael Jordan during half-time of the NCAA final between the MSU Spartans and the North Carolina Tar Heels Monday, April 6, 2009.

Did you get a load of Michael Jordan’s suit last night at halftime of the game?  This picture doesn’t do it justice but trust me he was clean.  Jordan has sealed his career with the pinnacle of basketball achievement – induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

  I like what he said about being inducted.

“This is not fun for me, Getting enshrined in the Hall of Fame, you know your career is completely over.”

Joining MJ, a basketball champion and statesman David “The Admiral” Robinson from the San Antonio Spurs via the US Naval Academy. 

Then there is the all time assist leader John Stockton from the Utah Jazz and Rutgers women’s coach C. Vivian Stringer. 

This is truly a sweet and deserving class of winners.  And the best part about each of the players in particular is that when each came into the league, the Spurs, Jazz and Bulls respectively were horrible teams.  Robinson was the foundation to bring the Spurs back, Stockton with pick n’ roll pal Karl Malone made the Jazz what they are today, and god knows what Michael did with the Bulls.  It’s one thing to be a great player on a great team, its another to be a great player who helps to make a team great.  All three of these can say they did just that.

It also goes without saying that Stringer deserves enshrinement too.  She is the first coach in NCAA history to take three different women’s NCAA teams to the Final Four.  She is the third winningest coach in women’s basketball history.  She is also a pioneer for women’s sports period. 

Congratulations to them all!

LeBron, Liars and Sportsman

I remember when Magic Johnson used to talk about the competition between himself and other NBA superstars in the league.  Not merely the in-game competition when they were competing against one another; but just other games around the league as the season goes on.  For guys like Magic, it wasn’t an individual ego thing but a motivation to elevate his game to the highest level.  When you are already better than 98% of the people you play against on any given night you have to tell yourself things to keep you from being bored.  Such was the case with Magic, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, etc. 

During a normal game time interview they would never admit it.  But get Magic on a couch and he would readily admit that he would search the newspapers every day to see what Larry or Dominique Wilkins did the night before.  “I’ll looked at the stats sheet and say, “Oh Larry got 35 last night?  That means I’ll have to get 38 or 40.” 

Jordan of course was the same way.  He would tell himself that the other opponents didn’t respect his game and through that anger will himself to another spectacular performance.  I’ll never forget the time the Bulls played a home and home against the then Washington Bullets.  The first game in Chicago saw LaBradford Smith a kid who wanted to be Jordan score 35 against his hero.  Jordan had a so-so game and afterwards they asked Smith about his performance in “stopping” MJ.  Smith no dummy said, (paraphrasing) “Oh no!  Nobody stops Michael.  I just had a good game.  I was fortunate that my shots went in.  Michael is Michael.  He’s the best.” 

Still that didn’t stop Jordan.  Just because the question was asked… the next night he torched Smith for 40 something fouling him out the game.   He played with an angry scowl the entire game.  He knew he was better than Smith so that wasn’t the point.  He wanted to make sure everyone else knew it too.

These memories all came to me upon seeing Kobe Bryant put 61 on the Knicks at Madison Square Garden the other night.  It was the most points scored by any Knicks opponent in The Garden’s history.  The Knicks, blessed or not so blessed with a home schedule that called for the Lakers, the Cavaliers and the Celtics to come visit during the same week had to face the wrath of LeBron James a couple nights later.  Of course James down played the situation saying he was not interested in records.  I knew he was a damn lie.  Every hoops junkie knows. 

Magic had newspapers.  Today’s generation has SportsCenter and Blackberry’s where their peeps text them with, “Man did you see what Kobe did?”

What does James do last night?  He scored 52 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assist… making the first time in over 30 years since a guy had 50 points in a triple double.  He scored 20 in the first quarter.  Of course he was looking to match Kobe and even surpass his effort earlier in the week.  Kobe and LeBron have been friends since James was in high school.  They bonded even closer during the Summer Olympics in Beijing.  Both understand the significance of performing well in the basketball Mecca that is MSG.  No doubt James texted Kobe who was busy putting up 36 in a win in Toronto last night something like, “I’ll see your 61 and raise you 52 and a fu*&% triple double beeeeaach!  How ya like me now?”

Kobe has enough problems, they have the Celtics tonight in Boston.  And speaking of the Celtics… don’t think that Paul Pierce ain’t looking to put up mad numbers on the Knicks on Friday.  Of course, he wont’ admit it.