The Boston Celtics?

 Boston-Celtics-Logo

Yes, the Boston Celtics. And I hate the Boston Celtics, but more on that later.

The Boston Celtics sent my Philadelphia Sixers home packing in only five games after jumping out to a 3-0 series lead. The sometimes clumsy and always inconsistent Sixers practically gifted the Celtics Game 2 of their Second Round Playoff series.

Philly’s ancient rival had something to prove in the 2018 NBA Playoffs because everybody had hastily picked the Sixers to advance to a chance to beat LeBron, but it wasn’t meant to be. And then when they blew a late game lead in regulation and then completely lost it in OT in Game 3 to effectually lose the series, the Celtics knew that it was their time. The Sixers had something special going this season, and they were on the verge of something really special. But the Celtics had other plans. And now it’s the Celtics who are on the verge of something special.

The LeBron’s (a.k.a., the Cleveland Cavaliers) are NOT the Sixers, and yet Boston had a 29 point lead on these same Cavs in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. But lest we forget, Cleveland lost Game 1 to Indiana in the first round, and we were asking if LeBron was out of gas then. And the answer was a unanimous “NO!” LeBron came roaring back to take out the Pacers, and they just thumped the hapless Raptors in a surprising sweep. Now LeBron finds himself in the Eastern conference Finals once again.

So, the question is this: can the Celtics, who are playing without Kyrie Irving, win the East and beat King James, the reigning King of the NBA pop culture?  LeBron is still LeBron, and one game aint no series. So we’ll see.

And in case you didn’t know, I’m from Philly, so I HATE the Celtics. I just love to hate them. And that’s where the whole love your enemy like your neighbor part comes in.  Did I get that right?  Anyway, since I’m from Philly, I mean, I just have to hate all Boston teams, right?

The Politics of Sports, a.k.a., Who Wants To Be Uninvited To The White House?

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“You could see the end to this awkward dance between the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors and President Donald Trump coming from 140 characters away.

Less than a day after so many prominent members of the Warriors reiterated their stance that they didn’t want to visit to White House to celebrate their title, and just hours after Trump’s inciteful rally in Alabama where he took aim at NFL players who protest the national anthem, he wasted no time in taking to Twitter – again.

‘Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!’ Trump tweeted.”  https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2017/09/23/donald-trump-rescinds-white-house-invitation-stephen-curry-warriors/696136001/

Wow.  

Much could be said, but here I yield to another writer, Michel Wilbon.

The following article is from “Wilbon,” (as Tony Kornheiser calls him), co-host of ESPN’s PTI, Pardon the Interruption, sports show.  Michael Wilbon hit the nail on the head.  In light of the ongoing media feud between the President of the United States, who rules from the White House, and athletes in the NBA and the NFL, I could write my own thesis or treatise on the subject, but Wilbon beat me to the punch.  Thanks Mike. 

“It was just before 3 a.m. Saturday, and I could hear the phone buzz from the incoming text. It was from Rex Chapman, a friend of many years now after I’d covered a lot of his college and NBA basketball career. For those who don’t remember Chapman, he was the sweet-shooting guard from Kentucky — white kid who could jump out of the gym — about to turn 50 this October. The despair he was feeling was coming right through the cellphone screen.

The text, in part, read, ‘I’m sorry about Trump. I’ve never been more ashamed. I hope you knew this before, but in case you didn’t I need to say it now. Love you Brother. Rex.’

This was an American man — white — feeling compelled to reach out to another — black — to make perfectly clear he didn’t support any of the garbage coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth. Not in the president’s Friday night Alabama speech, not in any rantings on Twitter. That Chapman didn’t think taking a knee during the national anthem meant a black football player was a “son of a bitch,” that he didn’t want any part of the hideous racial divisiveness that Trump was instigating.

I texted Chapman back to tell him I’ve known him well enough and long enough to know the only thing he has in common with Trump is race, and I already knew what side of any divide he was on … and that I loved him for composing and sending that text.

Chapman’s 3 a.m. communication was also a forecast of the storm coming right back at the president. Trump was either clueless about the blowback he’d get from the brotherhood of pro athletes, particularly African-Americans, or he’d seriously miscalculated the willingness of an industry of powerful people, most of them white, to stand with those “sons of bitches” who Trump demanded be fired for expressing the most fundamental American right.

Whether Trump was oblivious or misguided, I doubt he expected LeBron James to stand up for rival Steph Curry on Twitter. Could he have had any idea that white teammates would rally around black ones in locker rooms and on sidelines Sunday? Or that the team owners he wanted to fire those black protesters would link arms Sunday with those very players during the anthem? And the last thing he could’ve expected was New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, his friend, saying in a statement, “I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner they feel is most impactful.”

The beginning of Kraft’s statement, that there is “no greater unifier in this country than sports and nothing more divisive than politics,” might as well have been the NFL’s official position going into the day’s games. It even one-upped the statement from the measured NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who also called Trump’s comments “divisive.”

Those who thought Trump would fire back at Kraft and Goodell personally were left waiting. The president doesn’t waste his nastiest insults on white men, even those who disagree with him, when he has black men such as Curry and Colin Kaepernick to attack. And few, if any, African-Americans were surprised that the man who led the Obama birther movement and called Mexicans rapists said during an Alabama speech that a football player taking a knee during the anthem is a “son of a bitch.”

For a great many of us who find Trump and his actions somewhere between objectionable and loathsome, this latest episode illustrates once again that he is what we think he is. Black men taking a knee during the anthem enraged Trump, but a Charlottesville, Virginia, rally of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members carrying torches also included, in his words, “very fine people” who were just there to protest the removal of Confederate statues.

This isn’t lost on anybody paying even scant attention. As Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, “These are … probably the most divisive times in my life, I guess since Vietnam … our differences, I’m speaking in terms of values, are so dramatically different. I’m talking in terms of inclusion and civil discourse and dignity. I thought his comments about NFL players are as bad as anything he’s said to this point. You’re talking about young men who are peacefully protesting, hallmarks of our country.

‘How about the irony of, ‘Free speech is fine if you’re a neo-Nazi chanting hate slogans’ but ‘Free speech is not allowed to kneel in protest’? No matter how many times a football player says, ‘I honor our military but I’m protesting police brutality and racial inequality,’ it doesn’t matter. Nationalists are saying, ‘You’re disrespecting our flag.’ Well, you know what else is disrespectful to our flag? Racism. And one’s way worse than the other.’

There’s an old adage in sports that conveys: You are what your record says you are. We know what Trump’s record is regarding race. And in taking on two leagues, one (the NBA) with some of the most famous people on the planet and another (the NFL) that features the most popular form of sports entertainment in America, Trump emboldened a population that is often reluctant to rally or take risk. Suddenly, with public backing from owners and leagues, players aren’t feeling their careers are at risk to the same degree as before.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wondered aloud during a television interview Sunday whether Trump is ready for the blowback from a community of people with so much national and global influence. And now those people, even the anthem-kneelers, find themselves being patted on the shoulder by sympathizers if not allies.

I texted Rex Chapman later in the afternoon to ask permission to share his thoughts publicly. Like millions of us, he was watching and listening, hoping to see definitive signs that we had progressed as a nation in our lifetimes, hoping that a choir of voices could overwhelm Trump’s.

I’m going to forward to Chapman the Facebook post of Dan Rather, a man who knows the sweep of American history. Toward the end of an eloquent and stunning rebuke of Trump, Rather sounded a note of cautious optimism that I’m certain Chapman was also getting at with his Saturday morning text.

‘We are not a nation of majority bigots,’ the former CBS newsman wrote. ‘The strident ranks of the intolerant can be overwhelmed by enough people agreeing that this is not who we are or who we want to be. Mr. Trump’s cheers can be drowned out by a chorus of justice.’ Even if that chorus is built one voice — or one text — at a time.

——-

Michael Wilbon is one of the nation’s most respected sports journalists and an industry pioneer as one of the first sportswriters to broaden his career beyond newspapers to include television, radio and new media. He is a co-host of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption.

https://theundefeated.com/features/donald-trumps-nfl-comments-inspired-a-response-he-didnt-see-coming/ 

Love Not Hate

Love Sweet Love

Here’s a note to the protestors in Charlottesville, and everywhere else that the race haters are hating: what the world needs now, is love, sweet love, not hate, bitter hate. That’s in God’s Playbook.

The late, great leader of the Civil Rights Movement said this:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Amen brother.

On and off of the court, sporting events are the great unifier. Red and yellow and black and white, we all join on the track or on the field or in the pool or on the slopes or on the hardwood or on the gridiron to compete and to win. The Olympics, The World Cup, Word Championships, Wimbledon, the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Masters and many other major championship events tend to draw and unite and combine and bond and bind us like no other positive event can. 

So here’s to sports and teams and teammates. Because we are all are of one blood. And we all have the same goal: to win.   But when we hate and bite and devour, we lose. We all lose.

The bottom line is this: sports are the great educator. When we play together we learn how to be good sports and how to be sportsmanlike. We learn how to play through hot, sultry summers and cold, windy winters. We learn to shake hands before and after the game. We learn to help an opponent get up and to pause when a member of the opposing team goes down.

So let’s get back to being good teammates, on and off the court. When you love the game you respect the game, and those that play it. And sports teach you to love not just the game, but those that play it. And in the game of life, that’s all of us, red and yellow and black and white, because we’re all precious in His sight.

 Because what the world needs now, is love, sweet love, not hate bitter hate.

 What the World needs now, Is love, sweet love

It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.

What the world needs now Is love, sweet love,

No, not just for some, but for everyone.

 

 

Don’t Hate The Player, Hate The Game

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Any fight fans out there?  I’m not, but as the saying goes, “don’t hate the player, hate the game.” Playa Hater is live in Las Vegas for the Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez fight on Saturday night, October 13, 2014 at the MGM Grand. The rapper Ice T wrote these lyrics: “I don’t know why a player wanna hate T.  I didn’t choose the game, the game chose me.”

Don’t hate the player, hate the game is another way of saying “don’t blame me; this is how the system works.” In other words, “society made me do it,” or “the system is flawed and I’ve figured out how to work it,”or “everyone else is cheating too.”

This, of course is a cop out.  To say, don’t dislike someone for their actions, consider instead the situation that causes it, is only half of the story. It’s a twist of Gandhi’s Quote: “Hate the sin and love the sinner.”  

In order to “hate the game,” individual culpability is thrown out the window, and we are somehow to believe it when athletes gone astray say “it’s not my fault that I’m the way that I am.”  Hogwash.

The most popular usage of “Don’t hate the playa, hate the game” (DHTPHTG) is when one employs extra-scrupulous tactics to vanquish an enemy in the fields of:

Business;

Dating;

Politics, and especially Sports.

Hate is the opposite of love, and the best use of hate is for sin and shame, and for the emblems of evil that pervade our society.  Our hate should not be for the institutions of football and baseball and basketball and professional sports in general. Rather, our hate should be, as the Bible implies and as Gandhi implores, for the sin and not for the sinner.

It seems that we have lost our way when we don’t play clean and hard and fair; when we don’t reward the right ones and we reward everyone; and when we excuse those who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.  We need to return to good old fashioned morals and manners, principles and practices, and these need to be employed on and off of the court and the field, and in tonight’s case, the boxing ring.