I am learning to slow down. See… I know I have a gang of things fluttering around my brain and quite often I get confused. I literally spit out the random thoughts, that to me, seem to make sense simply because in my head, it makes sense. However, most of the time people who hear me explain something with a great amount of passion, give me that look. You know that sincere look that says, “I know this dude is making sense. Maybe he’s just too smart for me to understand.”
Well I am here to reassure you all, it’s not you. That’s the reason I reckon back to the media guy we had a Texas (his name was Dave Saba). Dave, in a short two-minute session, taught me to slow down. When I do, what do ya know! It actually works. I speed think my way to utterance in every language. Even my native tongue of Igbo. Then when I slow down, I might be speaking French (the worst of the languages I speak) and my wife will say, “Geez, since when did you get so good at French?”
Interesting what a tranquil approach will achieve. Normally, my head is bobbin’ and weavin’. I just get started slowly then peak at a nice resonating “hummmm” of words as if my head had a hummingbird for a cerebral cortex. Or more like Carlos Boozer‘s Rolls Royce… Have you ever heard one of those things start? Dude! That freaking thing must be made by NASA. It’s a damn ground shuttle that sounds like…
Gotta slow down. Things are bouncin’ around the ol’ noggin. Anyway. I find myself (only every once in a while) slowing down and making a lot more sense. Not necessarily more sense to me but to others. Strangely enough, I rarely say things I don’t mean. Quirky trait for a mentally ambidextrous man. So hopefully, today is a slow down day that can offer a few coherant blurbs that will inspire and entertain at the expense of this (true) globetrotting joyride. Beanpie! Cheeseflakes! Tesla’s Zero point gravity orange peel!
Let’s see, I went from France, to San Antonio where the Spurs were working out, to vet camp with the Jazz. OK. It’s official. I love Jerry Sloan. Other than losing more weight than Jimmy Hoffa (Get it?…weight. Waaaayyyyeeet-tuh! Forget it), that was the second funniest camp I’ve been to. Smelled like Detroit 2002. Which leads me to predict the Jazz in the Western Conference Finals this year.
That was the first NBA team I’ve been on in which every player was (in my view) earning his check. What does that mean? Sorry. Wasn’t meant to be. Maybe better put… The Utah Jazz’s hierarchy or players and pay is almost perfect (I think we’d all agree Paul Milsap is tad bit underpaid… for now). And every player on that team is just flat out good. It’s always good when your highest paid players are the best respectively in every basketball (team) category.
Deron Williams is their best defender. And he shows it everyday.
Carlos Boozer is the hardest worker, which in turn equals most efficient player and best rebounder. Check his FG%. I have never checked nor do I know how I’d begin to, but I’m willing to bet he’s top five in the league in points/shot attempts. Even though he made me miss for the first time in a year being 260, he’s the Wolverine of that team. The best there is at what he does. I’m still spitting out chips of teeth… I am very serious.
Most professional had to be Memo. Same thing everyday. When everyone was tired after a hard day’s practice the day before, he was in the gym early lifting and starting practice drills off sprinting. Everyday.
And the last catergory… Best basketball pimp (I made that up; it means you’re just good at everything without really looking like you’re trying) AK 47. Hard to explain if you haven’t been to a game to see him in person. Just really good at everything. I think he may have nephthalim blood in him.
And last but definitely not least, most country. Oh you didn’t know being country is an intergral part of winning in basketball? It is. Cuz country folks are laid back. And them’re attritbutes keeps yuh cool when everyone else is hootin’ n’ hollerin’. Jerry Sloan. He was the same as he was three years ago when I was in summer league. He said, “Morning Gabe.” He laughed at my ramblings and even asked, “You alright,” every time anyone, not just his stars, got hurt. He’s either a great actor or a good man. Both of which only us country folk can really be. Without going into too much further detail, it was a pleasure being around good guys who just so happen to be good at basketball.
A wonderous few may have been wondering where the hell I’ve been. Me too. I’m not sure I totally remember. I know I was in three, no four countries in less than a week and I ended up in China and now I’m learning Chinese. Not bragging. I’m actually a bit weirded out by it. And now, the President is African. Huh?! Where have I been? I turned on the TV, only to fall asleep to sweet 80s kung fu movies with subtitles.
Then (listen to this) heard partially understood Manderin Chinese rambling and I actually heard “Obama dwi. Jia yo!” And in the middle of my sleep I popped up. As I deliriously squinted my eyes, I reached for my phone and saw I missed a million calls and texts from my wife, “He won!!!” No way! I just figured somehow, in America, it would never happen. I told my wife the whole time, “Don’t get your hopes up. It’ll never happen. Somehow McCain will win.”
Not only did he not win, he got the piss beat out of him. I couldn’t believe it! It was so big on so many levels, I didn’t know where to begin. I haven’t been in a good mood for a while. From France to Texas to playing like hot garbage in Utah’s camp. I’ve just been in a bad mood lately (if you asked me to explain why, it would take a while. As I’m not completely sure). But now… I was experiencing ecstasy. Work with me, as a Bantu man, it is difficult not to get a little America weary when you experience senseless and illogical hatred not even animals demonstrate simply because of the color of your skin. But that day… That day America shut us all up. Not just an African-American man, a Bantu-American man in every sense of the word is the President of the United States of America! Say it with me…”Obama.” Say it again, “Obama, Obama, Obama.” Sounds almost as good as Mufasa. Hate on America? You simply can’t anymore. Not me, not anyone. You think this could happen anywhere in Europe? Don’t mistake my excitement for distiguishing between polititians. I still don’t care. To me it’s all a circus of distraction while we all bend over. Something I like to call Johnny Cochran’s, “Looking at the shiny birdie.” That makes no sense. Birds aren’t shiny, well let me just stare at it until I see what’s so shiny about it. Keep looking you’ll see it.
For me Obama means my kids and my people’s kids can find a new self esteem of possibilities for themselves. You don’t have to be a rapper nor an athlete to be “cool”, son. Now you can appreciate those things for what they are – entertainment for a temporary escape from life. It’s not real. It is more than just a Bantu man is President. It’s much bigger than that. But people like Bill O’Reilly will simplify it. Why Obama got elected, why McCain lost. Who cares the result is the only important parameter. Or an even better remark from the media, I love this one, “Blacks only voted for him because he is Black (hate that word)” Duh. So what? Is being that ignorant any worse than that lady saying that she couldn’t trust Obama cuz he’s “an Arab” on national TV during a McCain rally? We should all have to take a test to insure one is competent enough to turn on a light and/or spell “U.S.A.” before being allowed to vote.
What, a hoops blog right? I just find myself looking for things to inspire me to not want to do something else. Like I’m over here in China and I should be thinking about hoops, right? You know what I’m thinking? How many cool things I’m gonna miss out on while here. Remember I told you about that new restaurant Fino Rosso of my boys I went to go see in New York? All I can think about is going there in December and how can I make it there with my wife to see Gypsy Kings. Yes, I like Gypsy Kings… Vas te chercher! Is that weird to want to watch Gypsy Kings when you’re playing ball for money? Well in looking for inspiration in basketball, I think I found it. You know in the ACB (Spain) some teams will let you put a nickname on the back of your jersey. Well, my new inspiration is to play in the ACB again, if for nothing else to put Obama on the back of my jersey for the whole season. No one steal that…
Despite what I might project, I really like basketball even today. And playing in Europe actually made me re-like it again. But on the flip side it also re-opened my loathing for travelleing 14 hours next to the guy who thinks, “Yes, I can get my knuckle in my nose without taking off my wedding ring,” only to again play in not-so-not-rag-tag-style leagues. Figure that one out. This is the perfect example of what my dad told me that I never believed when I was a kid… Never choose a job for money, it will never be enough. The money is good and pays the bills but… Whatever. I’ll get over it, dad.
I experienced Jerry Sloan and thought, this is probably the same practice John Stockton and Karl Malone did and I’m doing it. The same ol’ same, ol’ and he keeps winning (even with Williams out). And I wonder: How the hell does he do it? Yes, great players. But it can’t just be the coincidence of great players. Sloan keeps winning and has even done it with less. Other NBA teams have great players and lose (very well, I might add). He doesn’t change no matter what firestorm is going on around him and still manages to be human. So the next ref that T’s him, I don’t care how nice he talks to you, you’re mine. Even though I never want to coach or ever be in politics, I still want to learn the attribute I have seen in the past two months. I want to be a chameleon. Just like Jerry. And so far just like Obama.
A proverb I love (in English even though it loses meaning and umph) is, the chameleon doesn’t care whether there’s a forest fire or not, he will always strut the walk of confidence. I think I’ve used that one before but it’s cooler now. Bumble bee tuna, bumble bee tuna.