Tuesday, October 25, 2016

2016/17 NBA Western Conference Outlook

Basketball season is here and we have some excitement to take our minds off of Trump, Clinton, and the presidential election. Thus it is necessary for me to get some of these thoughts off before the association gets into full swing. So, here is my snapshot version of the Western Conference outlook.

1. The Dubs  Fitting nickname for a team that racked up Ws at a record clip last season. As a matter of fact, they added 15 more in the playoffs, including the 3-1 series lead in the Finals before they added Pookie to the roster and smoked off the championship to Cleveland.

Over the summer, they were able to replace the uber athletic Harrison Barnes with some guy named Kevin, who most people think will make them unstoppable. This team will undoubtedly win a lot of games in blowout fashion.

Don't forget they were supposed to win it all last season but didn't. One thing swept under the rug was the fact Andrew Bogut was injured in game five of the finals; they were not the same without his physical presence. Guess who the Dubs shipped off to make room for Kevin... yup, Bogut.

2. The Machine  It is all about execution with this team. Working the system is why they have contended for championships year in and year out in the Popovich era. Tim Duncan retired and officially handed the on-court keys to OG Bobby Johnson, better known as Kawhi who still drives his '97 Chevy Tahoe from high school. There is nothing exciting to see here except a nightly clinic on getting open buckets and making your opponent work for everything.

Pau Gasol will try to fill in for Timmy, which he won't have a problem with on the offensive end but the team will truly miss Duncan on defense; he always made sure his guys were in the right place.

3. Clippers  Do not expect me to waste too many keystrokes on these perennial under achievers. They have a championship coach, passionate owner, the best pure point guard of the modern era, an athletic freak of nature at power forward, the best defensive center in the L, annual favorite to win sixth man of the year, and three-point assassin in JJ Reddick.

They might even be good enough to finish second in the conference when it is all said and done but will ultimately be judged by if they can exorcise their second round demons.

4. Kush Blazers  I am a hip-hop head first and foremost, so I love that Dame Dolla has an album coming out. I remember dudes like AI and Kobe were going to drop records but never did, but then again, they did not have bars like Dame. I would love nothing more than for him to drop a diss record about every point guard he lights up this year.

Dame has come out and said he wants to be the MVP, which nobody ever does. Dame knows that MVPs are only given to players on the best teams in the league, and knowing he has this on his brain means he has confidence in his teammates. And that is good enough for me to place them here.

5. The Westbrooks  I’m going out on a limb here because I don’t think the drop off due to Kevin leaving is that great, neither is the Serge exodus. I’ve always thought this was Westbrook’s team and since the former MVP wanted to bounce, it gives the rest of the gang more chances to play a larger role.

Most of the returning players aren’t saying they feel betrayed by Kevin, but they have to be feeling some type of way and it’s going to fun to see them leave their souls on the floor to try and show him they didn’t need him any fucking way. Acquiring Oladipo to be Westy’s running mate is bad news for opposing teams who want to hide their guards on defense.

6. NASA  Mike D’Antoni reintroduced pace back into the league when he took over the Suns job in 2003 and ran his 7 seconds or less offense. Daryl Morey is the statistics guru who’s had an imprint on the nerd revolution that has taken over the sports world, especially the NBA. Morey basically took the finer parts of what D’Antoni did with Phoenix and ran it through super data machines and churned out the blue print for winning basketball.

We now have a match made in offensive basketball heaven with the aforementioned gentleman. We also have the scoreboard operator’s nightmare. If they can figure out a way to stop people, they might win a championship, but since all they have is Ariza and Capela on defense, I’ll settle for The Beard, Eric Gordon, and Ryan Anderson getting buckets.

7. Stockton’s Old Team  They added some old heads in Iso Joe and Boris Diaw, aside from them, this is a young team. What’s old are the glory days of Stockton and Malone and when Deron Williams used to be elite. What’s also getting old is the rhetoric that this team is up and coming. I don’t get why everyone wants them to be NEXT.

I mean, I like Favors, Hood, Gobert, and Exum as individual players but think Hayward is a tad bit overrated, can’t figure out why Alec Burks got paid and brass traded for Dru Hill, I mean George Hill.
Anyway, they’re here strictly because I MUST be missing something. So to save myself from looking like an ass…

8. The Pups  In my neighborhood, I can’t look outside without seeing people walk their little creatures and look so happy to pick up poop, but that’s only for annoying cute ones that are kept in the house. For the most part there is a disdain for all others, particularly the ones that sleep outside; people mistreat them, euthanize them, and basically, aren’t welcomed in society.

Wolves are the largest member of the dog family, and just like all dogs, are usually cautious around humans but they aren’t domesticated. In the NBA, all the other teams have abused them for the past 12 years without repercussion. But this pack is going to start biting now that they have a trainer, err coach, who specializes in making his subjects defend and reach the playoffs.

Wolves mate in the winter time, look for these kids to start screwing everyone over after Christmas then wear down in April. I think they can finish higher than the 8 seed but I purposely placed them here because I want them to matchup against the Dubs. The Dubs weakness is the big man, the leader of pack is the best young big man in the L and ironically, a KAT.

9. Mavericks  Teams out of the playoffs and number three up top do not get nicknames from me, but if I were to name them, they will be the Geezers. Full Disclosure, I think they will make the playoffs but because of number 7, you know.

I liken this team to the old man in the park that’s looking for a good run but everybody takes him lightly until he starts roughing you up, faking you out your sneaks, and raining threes on you until you’re like, “WTF!” This is definitely a team full of that old man in the park spread out across all positions on the floor except for Harrison Barnes, who just got the boot from Silicon Valley and got major cake to not be the go-to-guy.

10. Grizzlies  The transition from ground and pound to pace and space is going to be a hard one. A bunch of square pegs trying to squeeze into a round hole. I see a lot of rectangular bricks failing to fall into a circular rim.

11. Nuggets  There is a lot to like about this squad, including Coach Malone and... Well I guess there is not much to like. Most of these guys play the same position. We can't even call Faried by his once-cool nickname any more.

12. Suns  Now there is a lot to like about this team, at least for the University of Kentucky fan in me. With the trio of former UK guards flying up and down the floor, this team will be fun to watch.

13. Lakers  The marquee team in the league is actually building from scratch, something that has not happened since before color TV.

14. Kings  They have a nice new arena, at least. #FreeBoogie

15. Pelicans  I wonder if Antonio Davis regrets taking the money so soon.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Brexit Effect on English Soccer

Sports, for many people, is a way to take their minds away from other things going on in the world, such as the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. But for soccer fans, this situation may have dire ramifications on the English Premier League, which most people consider to be the most entertaining football league in the world.

Currently, all players from EU countries are free to play in the EPL. However, those from outside of the EU’s borders, like Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez and Manchester City’s Yaya Toure, must obtain permission. The EPL is yet to comment on if the required permission will now be extended to EU nationals.

On June 23, prior to the announcement of Brexit becoming official, the English pound had a 1.47/1 rate compared to the U.S. dollar, today the rate has dropped to a 30-year low of 1.32/1. According to Bloomberg, the 8 percent drop is the worst day on record for the pound and it will only continue to plunge.

The effect this currency rate will have on the EPL is tremendous. If the league’s players are getting paid in pounds, then how much is the salary really worth? Salaries can be affected as exchange rates fluctuate.

The world’s best players not only flock to the league because of the quality of play but because the average salary paid by its teams trump more than any other football league.

An article published by cheatsheet.com in 2015 stated EPL players earned an average of $3.6 million per season, which is by far the most among the top five Union of European Football Association (UEFA) countries/leagues. The second highest was the German Bundesliga averaging $2.3 million per player, third on the list is Italy’s Serie A coming at $2.1 million, followed by Spain’s La Liga at $1.9 million and France’s Ligue 1 with $1.5 million.

UEFA leagues operate on an open market, which means players can change clubs, regardless of the country during the transfer window. The transfer window, generally, is a 12-week period between June and September. If a player is under contract and wishes to change clubs, the clubs involved will negotiate a transfer price for the players.

It is yet to be determined exactly how the Brexit will affect transfers between England and other countries, but one can assume that a stiff tariff might be applied by the EU to any trade that involves the UK. After all, players are products and are considered imports and exports.

One thing is for certain, English clubs will have to pay more pounds to continue attracting quality players like Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is currently a free agent. The transfer window hasn’t seen much action so far because the UEFA Euro 2016 is currently taking place, deals usually take place after major tournaments.

The Brexit couldn’t have happened at a worse time for the English Premier League.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

#CSUDH Bulletin - Rite of Passage pt 3: Express Yourself With Originality

The right to freedom of speech and expression is granted to all citizens of the United States in the first amendment of the Constitution. It is the dearest of all written passages and most important for journalists. What it means is you can say whatever you want as long as you aren't committing libel.

Ask yourself this question, "Why would anyone want to read what I write or listen to what I have to say?" If the answer is because you think it's interesting, then by all means, share your thoughts or findings with the rest of the world, especially if it's never been said before. Even if the information is already out in the atmosphere, put your own twist on it by finding a different angle and go from there.

Many times, we think of ideas that we want to share but when the time comes, we forget about it. One solution is to utilize your smart phone by jotting your thought down in some notes or put it out there on social media. Using social media accomplishes two things: 1) You can easily retrieve what you put out there and expand up on it 2) Others will possibly interact with you and help spark additional thoughts; you can even use what they said in your article but make sure to always give credit when it's due.

After your article is completed, make sure you share it with someone to check for mistakes. Every story needs at least two pairs of eyes on it because you know what it is supposed to say, therefore there's a good chance you might overlook a typo while reading it. When the inspection is finished, publish it, an share it across as many social media platforms as possible. If you're feeling really good about what you wrote and excited, by all means tag folks or directly tweet it to them, flood the the damn timeline every hour.

I wrote a first-of-its-kind basketball article a while back, in hindsight, the writing wasn't all that great, but since it was original and thoroughly researched, I was proud of my work and spread it all over the place. It eventually caught the eye of a well-respected Fred Roggin and he shared it to his followers, then NBC shared it. I couldn't believe what had transpired, and to top it off, the man thanked me "for writing something original." That sentiment gave me all the confidence in the world to know I belong and can make it in this field.

If there is something you want to say, there's no better way to say it than in your own voice. Emulation will only take you so far. People will tune in because it is you, so do you. I live by the words I heard in a Roots song, "Never do, what they do, what they do, what they do."

Sunday, March 13, 2016

#CSUDH Bulletin - Rite of Passage pt 2: From the Top

Breaking into the media industry can be difficult, especially if nobody knows who you are, but it will be even more difficult if you do not have a body of work to represent you and showcase your skills. As I mentioned in the initial entry of this series, the key to success and the reason for me being in position to get the clips (the work a journalist have completed) I have has been networking.
So, let me tell you my story from the top. You have probably heard the phrase, “It is not about what you know but who you know.” Well, let me share with you a new twist to that, which was shared with me just recently. My photographer friend, Benita West, told me it was less important to know someone but rather your achievements are determined by who knows you. Essentially, that is what networking is all about. Sure, I’ve met Usher Raymond and know him through strong family ties, but that doesn’t mean he would recommend that I write another artist’s bio or press release because he really doesn’t know me.

A few years ago, I signed up for twitter and commenced to begin sports dialog with anyone who was interested. After a while, I amassed a large following and eventually one of my followers, who was popular among “basketball twitter,” asked me to write a blog entry for her website; the article was well-received. Later, I found out someone who I was interacting with – an ESPN blogger – was the younger brother of one of my high school friends, we decided to meet in person over sushi. After a long conversation about basketball, he suggested that I start a blog and offered to help me start it; in addition, he provided initial promotion.

Just establishing a relationship via networking will not do you any good if your material is boring or if you are not good at what you do. So what I suggest is to put on your thinking cap and do something that no one else is doing. In my case, I wrote about something that nobody else had before and the piece garnered me invitations to guest appear on different podcasts to talk about the subject; the appearances would lead to me having my own podcast. The article idea, however, came from having a conversation on twitter. I will share the story surrounding the article in my next entry. But it all comes down back to networking.

The only way to be good at anything is by practicing it. This certainly is true for writing and podcasting. Try to write about something every day, even if you have no intentions of publishing it. Put together something with at least 250 words. Then when you do that, read it line by line to check for errors. After that, share it with a friend and get some feedback.

If you choose to record a podcast, create an outline first then record and listen to yourself afterward. Listening to yourself will help you gauge what areas you need to work, whether if you need to work on your pace, cadence, or making sure you have good flow, self-checking will help you grow stronger and more confident. If broadcasting is your end goal, recording podcasts is the best way to sharpen your skill.

If you have any questions about what you’ve read, just contact me on Twitter @SpitsGame.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

#CSUDH Bulletin - Rite of Passage pt 1

It has been almost a year and a half since this blog has been active. Well, the wait is over! My professor asked me to share my experiences and give advice in hopes it will provide insight to my fellow and younger classmates.

I have, however, been doing a lot of writing and podcasting for other sites. I'm back here because it's a requirement for my school's online student newspaper. So from now until the end of May, all original material you see here is for the purpose of enlightening readers about my journey toward becoming a paid media professional, hopefully.

The key to reaching all of the heights I have has been networking. That will be the keyword in all of my future posts in this series. Talent will only take you so far, you have to be able to communicate with people and sell yourself or your story. But in the end, it's all about doing good work and putting in hard work.

Enough of the tutorial, for now. Below is a list of some things I have done for other publications:

  • The Pick and Roll - writer and NBA editor
  • OpinioNation - blogger
  • Sideline Pops and Blacktops - podcast for OpinioNation
  • Samsung Las Vegas NBA Summer League - media credentials for The Pick and Roll
  • Lakers and Clippers home games - media credentials for The Pick and Roll
  • NGSC West Recess - podcast for NGSC Sports
  • NFLPA Bowl - media credentials for Pro Player Insiders
  • NBA All-Star Game - media credentials for The Pick and Roll
  • CSUDH Bulletin - print edition Staff Writer
  • BallisLife High School All-American Game - media credentials for The Pick and Roll
  • Fantasy Football Addicts Support Group - podcast for NGSC Sports
  • Super Bowl - media credentials for Pro Player Insiders (everything but the game)
  • CSUDH Bulletin - online Staff writer and copy editor for both editions
I didn't even mention the social media work I have done on behalf of the above companies, which is very important. Remember... NETWORK!