Leading the way

Leading the way


Leading the way

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getdatishoutta.jpgYo yo… What a schedule. I haven’t had much free time due to the Kenyan long-distance runner nature of practice but I promise the topics spawned by the simplest attribute I so strangely perceive have been-o-comin’. I wrote back everyone that wrote me so far. Save the young playa asking for advice about procuring a basketball job overseas. My bad, lil’ bros… I’ll write back but I must say, it’s a massive task for me to keep myself working let alone get the hook up for someone else. Shiii… You might end up making more than me next year. That’s the nature of this monster.

For those keeping track… We lost to Joventut in the Spanish Cup. No. That doesn’t mean we’re done. It was an in-season tourney of the top eight teams. The ACB championship is yet to come. Rudy Fernandez seemed to have a hard time missing as his hands were dipped in petrol – which I feel should be illegal. But as it is legal, he had 32. Next, they had a young fella, Ricky Rubio. He joined in the act. OK, not really but him doing his thing wasn’t the real issue more so is the fact he’s like 12 years old. The kid can go. I swear I’m going to find one of his behind-the-back dribble moves and personally put it on Youtube. A reporter asked me if I agreed with some other player that he was protected. Hell, if I know I just got here. But I can tell you this… He doesn’t need it. Look him up, the little termite can go.

My new name for the big guys here is “Los Toros.” Why? Because when that shot goes up, put on your helmets. Block out of blood. I have not yet figured out how to rebound like I want. The main reason is because over the back, push in the back, bite in the back and the oh so famous removal of spleen and replacing with nuclear weapon, all are not fouls here. The only way to block out here is to face block hence eliminating your opportunity to get the rebound so wings (and occasional seven-footers) have the best chance of getting rebounds. As seen, Pete Mickeal is our leading rebounder and get this, second leading defensive rebounder in the ACB. He is a 6-foot-5 wing. After all my work to become a 3, I ponder on what I will achieve when I play there again. Especially in Europe. So to date I am doing well with the time I get at the 4. Trust me, when I play more, it’s brains and not brawn I will use to achieve what I wish.

My damn slingbox just decided to stop working. Funny thing is I don’t watch much TV when it’s readily available. Now that it’s not, I go nuts to find something to watch. Since my kids have garnered all cable time with LazyTown and the Disney Channel, I am stuck watching Spanish TV in the kitchen where cable is not. And yes, even though I am fluent, I don’t particularly like watch the Spanish rendition of the Simpson’s. Homer just isn’t as funny unless you hear Dan Castellaneta’s voice. So I’m stuck watching CNN or any other international news in English.

While watching the news, I saw something amazing, funny and angering. Did you hear about Bush’s homeboy making that statement about Nigerians? Roger Adams is the name. And he is an Attorney for the Just-us (Justice) Department. This guy was in charge of granting pardons! Now that won’t amaze you until you are made aware of what he said. Recently a drug convict applying for a pardon was so eloquently described as “about as honest as a Nigerian.” I’ll give you a moment to laugh, ponder, soak it in, whatever… Done? OK. This guy is one of our leaders. There are 180 million approximately in Nigeria. Did he think for one second that maybe that would be a slightly insulting thing to say to at the very least 90 million of those people? I started to get mad then I just started to laugh. And I thought how often have I seen the same thing in the world as you see in basketball? How many times have I been on a team that the leader was an absolute clown? I mean you look at some of the League teams… It’s bloody comical. Some of these teams are led by guys who can’t shoot a bank shot then it’s like some big mystery why the castle falls.

Get the hell outta here. Seriously? Do you really wonder why your team sucks or is that just for the fans to think you care? Man, seriously. It’s the same thing everywhere. Leadership in so many avenues is incredibly out of touch. How can you be a leader and not relate to the people you’re leading? I mean, I have stereotypes of people too. Let’s do an easy, funny, relatively non-offensive one. “White men can’t jump.” (Obviously not true, but let’s move on). If I thought that, how incredibly daft, I mean completely cerebello absentia would I have to be to be a man of high leadership stature and say that on a national stage about 100 million people?

These people are by all accounts insane. Think about it, literally insane! How seriously can you take yourself? So now I’m all into the election man. I’ve only voted once but I’m plastered to this election. I’m damn voting! And doing everything in my power to get everyone around me to vote. This is the first election I’ve seen where the possible candidates seem human and not body doubles of the Manchurian Candidate. John McCain. That dude is hilarious. He knows his own party doesn’t like him and he sticks to his guns and laughs at himself. I don’t know much of his background, but there’s gotta be a reason for that. Maybe he wasn’t always rich. Ooops, he’s Republican. My bad.

Truth is, I don’t know if I’m Republican or Democrat. I believe like a democrat, but I am very conservative in certain areas. Maybe I’m a Hypocrat. Get it? Hypo-crat and not “crit”. Ha ha… No? Buh-dump-bump next… Obama. Now that man has no choice but to be real. Look how he grew up and tell me he aint got 40 different personalities in him. Makes good for someone leading and putting themselves in your shoes. Anyway I’m on this coming election like red noses on politicians and squirting flowers on captains… Wait for it. Lucky for us, we have very good leadership so this castle ain’t going nowhere.

You can’t help but have the utmost respect for entities that are governed by steadfast leadership. I have the pleasure of experiencing it now and I had the pleasure to experience that with the Pistons. They were very unimpressive upon first glance, but as practice went on they were leviathans from head to base. No one had an ego. You know how the rookie free agent is supposed to be the first one in the gym and last to leave? Couldn’t do it, man. I tried the first few days but after a while when you see an 80-year-old Cliff Robinson in the gym before you and you came an hour early, man just let it ride. I’d walk in there. Rick Carlisle? On the court rebounding for whoever was shooting or on the treadmill. Ben Wallace? Doing some type of work out.


The first day I walked into practice, I came an hour early. Ben Wallace was there finishing what I didn’t see was a photoshoot. Therefore I didn’t know it was him. I mean I didn’t even bother looking at his face because he was so short I dismissed him as another rookie like myself. I swear. When he walked by me and greeted all the front office personnel as if he knew them I couldn’t believe this was the man that was one of four people ever to lead the NBA in rebounding and blocked shots for a season. No way was he even 6-foot 8. But one attribute that stood out like Dwyane Wade on the Heat was his arms. Not the size, the length. His wingspan dwarfed mine and mine is 7-foot-1. The guy was built and as athletic as what we call “Odumadaka.” It’s a compliment.


Chauncey Billups? Already dressed and stretching. Rip? On the free throw line. And we won’t even get into last to leave. It was like a competition to see who could leave last. Truth is they were all good leaders, from Corliss to Chucky. Because they all had been through “it” and could relate to the superstars and the scrubs. I’d play against NBA stars and they would usually stop playing hard against you as a facade to hide the fact you were kicking his ass. The guys you love are the guys who respect you enough to fry you no matter who you are not.

For example… I went at Ben from the first day in practice. Not out of disrespect, I wanted a paycheck. I figured he was just too small to guard me. (Yes, I was 20 lbs heavier than him back then and damn near taller.) On one move in the post I spun baseline with my signature tribute to The Dream (he actually showed me that move) and laid it up. From that point on my confidence was through the roof. I was physically attacking him the whole practice and strangely enough he went right back at me. I wasn’t used to superstars doing that. Normally it would be, “Quit foulin’!” or “Uh Doc… Man I think I pulled something'” or just the traditional shit talking to hopefully quell the young exuberant barrage. But nope. He got pissed and if I beat him (barely) he personally would stop play and say, “I got ’em.” What the hell was this? The best center in the league not going Hollywood? Here’s why… He was better than whoever he went against and he knew it. The next time I got it in the post I wanted it bad. This time I was going to hit him with the spin, but I had all plans to dunk it. Boom. Spun. He wasn’t close. I beat him bad. Now everything went slow-mo. I’m about to dunk the hell outta this… Bap! He blocked it from behind like he was slapping a tether ball. Arm extended sideways not extended up (just to give you an idea how athletic he is). Then he chased it down, outletted to Chauncey and the rest to the camp was kind of a blur.

Anyway trust me, fellow hoopers know, when a guy of Ben Wallace status really goes at you it is a compliment and he’s telling you he thinks you are good enough for him to go hard against you. They all reflected their leader, Joe Dumars, who himself is and was when he played a monster. That year they won 50-plus games and the next year they won the championship. I wonder why. No ego, man. Joe Dumars sat with me forever in the training room talking about non-basketball stuff and what a coincidence it was my high school coach was with him at McNeese State. What I found coolest was his nephew and I got to be cool and he didn’t do the Hollywood thing. “Why would he?” you say. If you haven’t seen yet, you might see that the acquaintances and/or family of the powerful are usually much cockier than the receiver of their organ pleaser. (I know a lot of ya’ll say you don’t get what the hell I’m talking about at times. It’s OK. I’m the same way. See? I know for sure that didn’t make sense). Keep emailin and I’ll keep responding. Say cheese. (There I go again).

Next time you want to get mad and insult any leaders in Basketball or in everyday life, just remember: They are baboons. Ha! For real. Insane chimps leading people. They have most likely never been in your shoes and if so, power has jaded their way of thinking to a point your concerns are literally completely foreign to their comprehension. Can you imagine telling Condi Rice, “Yo Condi, holla at ya boy and see if he can’t get some deez n***a chasers out ch’ere.” She would look at you and say, “Como?” I mean, really think of your most respected politician and put him/her in the most foreign place in the U.S. for him/her you could think of and picture he/she trying to comprehend the one iota of an everyday issue of just one of those people. It would be like a man explaining his problematic day at work… Well… To a chimp. It’s hilarious!

So I’m not mad at Mr. Adams. I wanted to be but that would be like regressing. And after all this I’ve been through, a re-formed grudge would be kind of an adolescent thing to cause a backslide. It’s cool because letting grudges go has been the lone thing that makes it easier to be positive. So Mr. Adams I say… F… Just joking. Good luck with that way of thinking. If he’s lucky, maybe God will make him do this journey of life over again as a Nigerian. No grudges.  (By the way, I should have known that earlier comment was from someone who once lived in 9ja and not from a Nigerian… That Pijin jare was terrible).

I’m too busy hooping. Nna maaaan, the only grudge I got is on this court. A grudge has always been a brick I carry around the neck. And, with me, I’ve seen it just increases in girth the longer I carry it. I’ve noticed when I want it off my chest, it’s easier to lean forward and let it drop rather than throw it and hang myself.

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