Archive for the 'Sports' Category

NBA Finals in Three Words

Three words: Kevin Deserves This

His post-game speechlessness spoke volumes. The respect for the game, the years in purgatory, the payoff. What a deeply worthy guy. And it doesn’t hurt that he took Doc, Ray Ray, and The Truth with him. Kid in a candy store. So awesome.

Watch KG’s reaction and read Scoop’s reflection

image via boston.com

Warrior Wardrobe Malfunction

Golden State Warriors phenom Baron Davis’ inner Artist came out last night when he wore a weird-ass flight jacket to the postgame press conference. Was he bummed that the Utah Jazz just pulled the plug on his postseason? Hard to tell since his wardrobe malfunction made him look ready to party like it’s 1999. Too bad it’s 2007, eh?

Via e-mail: I had heard rumors of him having an affair with President Musharraf, but this just proves it!!

Serena asks “What’s My Name?!”

Halfway through the first set, #1 ranked Maria Sharapova had an easy return. Serena Williams was out of position and, with the ball floating towards her racket, Maria could have hit it anywhere on the court. But she hit it straight at Serena’s body. And it hit her. Hard. Sharapova turned around. Surprise flashed across Serena’s face, replaced quickly by a certain kind of stare. Did the Russian really want to risk making the American angry? Apparently so. Gutsy or obnoxious, Sharapova had done it.

I have to say after so many years of injury, I’d written off Serena. Too many fat checks, apartments in the Meat Packing District, too many clothing lines to manage. It seemed life had moved on.

From her first few matches in the Aussie Open, though, the unseeded and 81 ranked Serena looked different. Gone were the over-the-top outfits, jewelry, and hair. Just a pair of hooped earrings gave a nod to her more indulgent past. This was the stripped down, angry Serena. Watching her matches, she only got more intense, more electric with each one. And in the final, it boiled over — every winning point was greeted with an expression that said “What’s my name?!” It didn’t read like arrogance, it read like confidence. It read like getting back the respect you know you deserve.

When a match is this lopsided, it usually becomes the worst kind of boring. Watching Serena’s show of sheer omnipotence, though, was just the opposite. I couldn’t look away. Seeing her so dominate the Russian (okay, Floridian) in the final, one 120 mph serve at a time, was a beautiful thing. Too good, too strong, too determined. 81 to 1. What a fantastic story.

image grabbed from espn

Do You Know Air Canada?

Since it’s opening week for the NBA, I figured it might be time to revisit a recent trip to China from a slightly different perspective. You see, as far as I could tell, the Chinese are super NBA crazy (even during the off-season, even during the world cup) but the league is a bit different seen through their eyes.

Take, for instance, the Vince Carter shirt above. The guy’s got a massive fro (Vince is bald) and it doesn’t look particularly like Vince in any other regard, either. “Do You Know Air Canada?” Whoever designed this shirt sure didn’t. (Did I mention that Vince plays for New Jersey now?) But that doesn’t take away from the sheer exuberance for the sport it captures. Heck, I nearly bought it.

There are lots of similar examples and, surprisingly, most feature Vince — his jerseys were running at about 60% of all basketball jerseys I saw. (Where’s the love for Yao?)

Still, there’s the odd non-Vince player every once in a while. Take, for instance, this Wandanu ad I saw in Shanghai. Sporting an Orlando Magic jersey, it could be an endorsement at first sight…but that all falls apart on closer inspection. First off, that isn’t any NBA player I know. Second, isn’t his head a bit too big for his body? Third, doesn’t that logo look suspiciously like the Adidas logo? Fourth, the URL goes to a spam page. Fifth, boy do I wish I had a translation for the Chinese! The shoes still sell off the shelves, though. And that kind of blind enthusiasm is one more reason I love China.

Of course, many Chinese are really quite NBA savvy. It was great fun, though, to be in a place where they love the league so much but sometimes, well, don’t quite understand it.

Instant Insomnia

Last night’s toe-to-toe Agassi/Baghdatis match came to a close around 1am, with rebel-now-statesman Andre once again defying the odds (and his sciatic nerve) to go the distance and outlast a much younger man. Phenomenal stuff.

As the players took their bows, I took poll of my neighbors. Normally nearly pitch black past midnight, the city was lit up with tennis fans. Gotta love that Flushing Meadows time of year.

(Now let’s all just ignore Team USA’s latest bungle, shall we?)

Shaq Jacked

It’s funny how it’s so much easier to like Shaq now that he’s divorced from Kobe and out of LA. The reemergence of the “young shaq” via the (criminally underreported) block and coast-to-coast dunk a few days back just endeared him more.

Still, it’s hard to deny the sheer awesomeness of Big Ben’s all-ball rejection of the heretofore unstoppable Diesel just inches from the basket in last night’s game 5. It was the turning point in the game and I can’t seem to stop watching it. So wickedly timed, so pure.

Did I mention I’m from Michigan?

Facing Darwin

Everyone knows the Toronto Raptors had an impressively horrible start to the season, setting a new franchise record with 9 straight losses. And, as if for good measure, they’ve followed that astonishing opening with a consistent 30% win record, enough to anchor the league (alongside Atlanta and Charlotte). This poor record was recently punctuated as the Raps provided Kobe a flatfooted foil in his assist-free quest to top Wilt’s 100 point game. Sadly, Kobe’s 81 points weren’t injury enough. Some sports pundits were kind enough to argue that, beyond the fact that the Raptors aren’t near great, greatness isn’t even possible in their vicinity:

Question: Was this the greatest individual performance in NBA history?

Ken Shouler, ESPN.com NBA historian: No. The word “great” is context dependent. The greatest performance in NBA history can’t come against Toronto in January.     Daily Dime

True, but ouch. Then again, you might have seen this coming back when the Raps traded Vince Carter for, oh, nothing in particular. Now that’s skills.

Thankfully (for all 12 people still paying attention north border ball) some sweet mercy was handed down today as Raptors GM Babcock was launched into deep space where he belongs. It comes at least a season late, but better late than never when Canadian basketball is facing extinction, eh?

images grabbed from spielbergfansite and thestar (with apologies to jose)

Ribbit

Gungan king Boss Nass NBA king David Stern

From the instant I saw NBA Comissioner David Stern’s big head plastered across ESPN.com, I couldn’t stop thinking “frog.” There’s just something about his wide mouth, broad lips, and bugged out eyes that sets the amphibian neuron firing. Can’t you see him thoughtlessly croaking and sucking down a stray fly or two? Plus, frogs are slimy and the slime has gotten a bit thick in the comissioner’s chair of late, too.

So, who better to compare the annoying king of the NBA to than annoying king frogman Boss Nass, buddy of the much (un)loved Jar Jar Binks. They look alike and they both blow. While it’s tough to say if the Stern’s new pro ball dress code is right or wrong, his timing couldn’t have been more obnoxious. When everyone should be focusing on the game at the start of a promising new season, instead we’re all talking about who? Yep, all eyes are on attention-monger Dave Stern. And you can bet he’s back at his pad laughing like a Gungan.

images grabbed from espn, bosspics, and starwars.com

Youch Ming

While he clearly has skills, Yao Ming has repeatedly been dinged for lacking a mean streak. Well, that meanness is on the way if recent events tell us anything. In fact, if developing your inner Incredible Hulk makes you a superstar (well, that and being 7 foot 5), Ming may very well be on the brink.

It began on Wednesday when Ming had a hole banged in his face by Ali Fakhreddine’s Lebanese elbow in the Asian Basketball Championships. The refs called no foul. Enraged, Ming smeared his blood on the ref’s table before storming off to the locker room. He needed 4 stitches. While this might seem minor for some, it’s big shakes for the once quietly contemplative Ming. So much for the gentle giant, eh?

Perhaps we could have seen it coming. After all, the China national team (on which Yao plays) has had a spate of violent outbursts over the past few years — from the bench-clearing brawl in the Lebanon game in 2001 (yep, these two have a history) to the fan free-for-all vs. Puerto Rico earlier this year in the Stankovic Cup game. Clearly the US doesn’t have a corner on this sort of behavior.

Ming’s blood-smearing tactic brings a new dimension to it, though — a bravado. Do we see the makings of a Shakespearean hero? Or is this going to devolve into WWE Saturday Night? Either way, it’ll be tough for the press to say Yao lacks passion after this stunt. Now he just has to bring it stateside.

See the Times for more on Yao’s un-mean streak or read Tom Huang’s discussion of why mean is exactly the wrong thing to hope for. And if you really want to see Ming mad, have him take a look over here.

image grabbed from chinadaily.com

Logo Limbo

Kobe Logo Vince Logo Tiger Logo Lebron Logo Mike Logo

Which of these things is not like the others? A few weeks back, Nike launched a line of Kobe Bryant-branded shoes with a spanking new logo (far left), putting him in elite company. Only Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, LeBron James and Vince Carter have attained similar stature at the king of sneakers. But, what of the logo itself?

To put it bluntly: not so much. Take a look at the logo compared to those of Kobe’s colleagues (red to right). Vince’s has sweeping strokes that say “bird” while at the same time evoking human shoulders and a body: man in flight. Tiger’s presents a refined flag — a prefect match for golf’s conservative image — with his initials cleverly inlaid. Lebron’s L23 isn’t quite as refined, but the pattern is pleasing enough and his moniker “King James” is clearly alluded to by the mini-crown. And, of course nobody can top Jordan. His logo is simply classic.

So, what again of Kobe? What exactly is his logo saying? One could argue that it has a kind of “iron man” torso thing going on; is the statement supposed to be strength? Some have compared it a certain male body part, which would be unfortunate for anyone but is particularly so for Bryant considering his recent history. The CCO of SME finds the logo to be “devoid of any specific Kobe characteristic.” Ouch. For me, somehow it brings to mind the Citgo logo and not much else. No matter how you look at it, though, this level of confusion isn’t exactly what you shoot for in a high profile logo. At this level, logos are supposed to communicate, and effortlessly.

With the clearly strong pool of talent at Nike, how could this happen? One might guess that Mr. Pigheaded insisted on a logo that appeals to him personally regardless of the public’s reaction. Another possibility is that Nike, annoyed when Kobe’s legal entanglements appeared almost the instant after they signed him to a huge shoe deal, didn’t put their best people on the project. A third option is that Nike is just slippin’ in the marketing department.

This final option seems unlikely, though, as Nike continues to turn out astonishing ads consistently. In an industry where products are so similar, the Nike marketing machine is impressively on point, and necessarily so. Surely their next anointed one will recieve a logo that’s not so, well, “devoid.”

For more, see the ESPN story on Kobe’s kicks, check out the ‘boards cache of hot Nike spots, and recall Nike’s seamy underbelly

images grabbed from nike.com




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