Acamea Deadwiler

Writer. Dreamer. Professional Creative.

Archive for the tag “Basketball”

Get Wins or Die Trying: Michael Jordan at 50

The Chicago Bulls have finally moved past the Michael Jordan era. It may have taken a while, but the team, with head coach Tom Thibodeau and superstar Derrick Rose, has managed to create a separate identity and step out of the immense shadow cast by the greatness of Jordan. Still, no one who was around to witness the game of basketball during this time period can think of the Bulls without thinking of MJ. He was, and is, incomparable. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant are all phenomenal NBA athletes but not even they have reached… Continue reading at Yahoo! Sports.

The Takeover: Is Jay-Z qualified to be an NBA mainstay?

Jay-Z has never picked up a basketball, professionally at least. He has never coached a team, or drawn up a play and probably has no idea what it is like to have the ball in your hands with two seconds left in a tie game. Yet, the hip-hop icon has become very closely associated with the NBA.

Jay has been a court-side fixture for quite some time at various high profile NBA contests; even before he became part-owner of the now Brooklyn Nets. And he is not one of those inactive owners that just sits back and collects a check. Despite actually owning only .067 percent of the Nets, Jay-Z has been intricately involved with everything from the team’s exodus out of New Jersey, to the designing of new uniforms. That percentage is obviously not indicative of his influence.

Now, with it recently being announced that he will be executive producer of the NBA 2K13 video game, Hov has delved even further into the NBA world. Into something not even directly affiliated with the league itself. With this assignment he takes on a an obscure role, far outside the realm of your typical entertainer. Really, can anyone name the last two executive producers of the NBA 2K series? Anyone?

The fact that Jay-Z is even affiliated with this project gives it an even greater buzz, and added validity. Surely some will question if he is suitable for such a task. Take this guy for instance, who apparently feels that the lyricist should not be anywhere near the Brooklyn Nets; and that his image is actually detrimental to the team and the league itself.

It is a fair question. Is Jay-Z qualified to be in these coveted positions and given so much control? Maybe not. But Shawn Carter, the hustler who created Jay-Z most certainly is. The creative mastermind who has written countless classic songs, helped to successfully launch a record label, clothing line, fragrance and nightclub chain is more than capable of performing in his new roles. Mr. Carter, with a net worth of about $460 million has a pedigree which can not be questioned.

He is a business man, a mighty fine one. The fact that he has made such a mark in the NBA is proof of this. Because, while notoriety will get you through the door, it won’t keep you in the room. Not only has Jay remained in the room, but he now has his feet on the couch.

Despite what all of us die-hard, loyal fans like to believe, every professional sports league is a business above all else; the NBA included. This is an arena which Shawn Carter knows very well. And while you’re sitting there contemplating whether or not this is true, he’s probably making plans to dominate your industry.

Break’s over. —

Sylvia Fowles: Humble in victory, gracious in defeat

I first encountered Sylvia Fowles, face of the WNBA Chicago Sky, roughly one year ago. An individual in her circle was kind enough to hook me up with tickets to a home game, since this was before I began covering the team, and asked if I would like to meet her afterwards.

I really didn’t know what to expect. I had seen Fowles play on several different occasions and my impression of her was based solely on these experiences. Anyone that has witnessed her in action will tell you that in between those white lines, “Big Syl” is a beast. Strictly business. No jokes, no smiles, no nonsense. To top things off, the Sky lost the game on this particular night and were struggling on the season as a whole. Naturally, I assumed she may be a little irritable, or at least somber.

My assumption couldn’t have been further from the truth as Fowles emerged from the locker room cheesing; happy to see her friends, which included a small child that had been ill and her mother. Once introduced, there were no polite handshakes and methodical “hellos”. Fowles gave hugs to everyone in the room, talked some trash and cracked some jokes. I remember thinking, “This is the warmest, most approachable athlete I have ever met.” And to date, this remains true.

Now, one year later, I ask Fowles whether or not she recalls this meeting. I really didn’t expect her to, because surely she has been introduced to a plethora of random individuals since then. Smiling, she reluctantly replied, “No, I don’t. Sorry.” I tell her that it’s nice to see her again, regardless. “Nice to see you again as well.”

Fowles has endured a great deal during her year three-year tenure with the Sky. From season-shortening injuries, to coaching and personnel changes, to the monkey on the back of the franchise that is having never made the post-season; the road has been far from easy. Yet, here she is, still rolling.

Now healthy, and with reputable coach Pokey Chatman running the show, the team not coincidentally finds itself sustaining a record around .500, in position to make the playoffs. And Fowles finds herself a legitimate MVP candidate, leading the league with 20 PPG half-way through the season. Despite this accomplishment, she made the all-star team, but was not voted to start.

When asked if that will put a little chip on her shoulder, “I hope”, was coach Chatman’s response. “But, you know, she (Fowles) has enough things to have a chip on her shoulder (about). I think they understand what the all-star game represents. It’s for the fans. (There are) other things to lean on. Sylvia has a gold medal, and all that good stuff. So, she understands the process of things.”

In addition to leading the WNBA in scoring, Fowles is third in rebounds per game with 9.9 and first in blocks, averaging 2.6 per contest. Hence, the Most Valuable Player rumblings; as she is obviously playing very well.

“I’ll give myself that. I think I’m playing very well this season”, said Fowles. “But a lot of credit has to go to me just being healthy, and then my teammates. I try not to get involved in that (MVP talk), but to let you all know, I do hear it and I am aware of it.” (laughs)

Win or lose, you can often catch the center hi-fiving her adoring fans after the game. And although visibly frustrated at times, she still manages to carry herself with an infectious sincerity and welcoming persona. A genuineness that is rare among professional athletes. Once you have met Sylvia Fowles, you can never root against her. Once you have seen her play, you’d be foolish to count her out.

As Fowles goes, so do the Chicago Sky. Assuming that the team continues or improves upon its current pace, and makes the WNBA Playoffs for the first time, one would be hard pressed to find a player more deserving of MVP honors. If the award considers who may be the most valuable person to her team, there should be little doubt that Fowles fits the criteria. If we are going to base the award exclusively on basketball skills and impact, there should be even less. —

Shaun Livingston: The Ultimate Betrayal

The career of NBA player Shaun Livingston began with so much promise.As a 6’7 PG he is an extremely rare commodity. (To view that in perspective, PF Carlos Boozer is 6’9) Naturally, hopes were high. Imaginations ran wild with what such a player could do with that size, at that position. Livingston was a highly coveted prospect in the 2004 NBA draft class. And was taken fourth overall by the Los Angeles Clippers not only because of this uniqueness, but because he actually had sick point guard skills to go along with it.

As a star at Peoria Central High (Peoria, IL) Livingston led his team to Class AA state titles in both 2003 and 2004. He was also named Illinois Mr. Basketball as a senior in ’03-’04. A season in which he averaged 18.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists. After which Livingston became only the fourth Illinois Mr. Basketball in history to jump directly from high school to the NBA. Putting him in the company of Darius Miles, Eddy Curry, and Kevin Garnett. The stage was set for Shaun Livingston to become legendary.

If only Shaun Livingston’s body had known that said stage had been set. If only it had been willing to cooperate. In his very first season with the Clippers, Livingston missed a total of 52 games due to injury. 39 of those with a dislocated right patella (kneecap). And 13 with torn cartilage in his right shoulder. Things would get better momentarily and then come crashing down.

The next season (2005-2006) Livingston saw action in a career-high 61 games. Averaging 5.8 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.0 rebounds in 25mpg. He managed to miss only the first 21 contests of the season with a lower back stress reaction.

Livingston was able to carry that momentum into the following season. Appearing in 54 games (31 starts) and averaging 9.3 points, 5.1 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.09 steals in 29.8 minutes. He scored in double figures a career-high 26 times, handed out double-digit assists three times and even registered a couple of double-doubles. Things were going well for “Sdot”. He was becoming the player that everyone thought he would be. Finally showcasing the talents that warranted his being a lottery pick in 2004. But then the injury bug came back to bite him. This time with a vengeance.

At the 8:10 mark of the first quarter against Charlotte on February 26, 2007, Livingston dislocated his left knee on a fast-break. Suffering tears to the ACL, PCL, MCL and lateral meniscus in the process. He also suffered a patella dislocation and a tibia/femoral dislocation. In layman’s terms, his left knee was destroyed. Almost completely disassembled. Livingston missed the final 26 games of the season and the following season in its entirety. (see video below)

After surgery and recovery, Livingston returned to the NBA in the ’08-’09 season with the Miami Heat. One must admire his perseverance. He appeared in 12 games, splitting the season between Miami and Oklahoma City. He has also seen action with the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Developmental league. There he averaged 9.5 points, 6.0 assists, and 3.5 rebounds in 29.4 minutes per game. Ironically, Livingston will be playing for the Charlotte Bobcats next season. The team in which he was playing against on the night of his horrific injury.

Repeated injuries must weigh heavily on the psyche of an athlete. Especially an injury of this magnitude. Regardless, the “Next-Magic Johnson” that never was has made his way back. Betrayed by his own body at such a young age, injuries may have stolen his dream of living up to original expectations. Those still holding him to these expectations and asking him to become that player must understand the gravity of that request. —

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