Thursday, August 25, 2011

If Michael Vick Is White Then Peyton Manning Is Black

This afternoon ESPN imagined Mike Vick as a victim of vitiligo.

Next week it plans to unveil Negro Peyton Manning.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

How To Save Rap And Basketball -- A Prospectus On The NBL

Chicago Bulls. Wu-Tang Clan. NBA Jam. MTV Jams. Michael Jordan sinks the Jazz. Suge Knight blasts Bad Boy.

Since their respective apexes in the 90's both professional basketball and rap music have suffered precipitous falls; the NBA currently mired in a lockout that will make the NFL labor dispute look like a tea party (no, not that one) while hip-hop has devolved into a sludge of overproduced and uninspired Diddy & ditties.

At initial glance it seems logically what cures one would invariably heal the other. After all the talent (black), demographics (urban), power brokers (rich, white billionaires), the very zeitgeist of the two entities closely correlate. Yet previous attempts to forge the bond between basketball and rap have been mixed. Streetball? Too haphazard on and off the court. The NBA? More concerned about exploiting its black workforce than embracing it. See hiring former Bush strategist Matt Dowd, banning jewelry from league photo shoots, Donald Sterling, et al.

But what if an organization could successfully embrace the best ballers playing for the biggest rappers?

Enter the National Basketball League.
The NBL logo re-imagines -- remixes as it were -- the NBA logo, maintaining the familiar color scheme and silhouette while also acknowledging the urban influence in the next evolution of professional basketball. Its triangle design honors The Illuminati as well as opens up valuable advertising space for league sponsors.

Russell Simmons will serve as Commissioner and Rick Rubin will act as Deputy Commissioner. Jay-Z, the Brooklyn-born rapper who paved The Blueprint for hip-hop crossing into the mainstream, will play the role of League Ambassador. His unique blend of street cred, business savvy and basketball acumen (in addition to being part-owner of the New Jersey Nets he also dabbled in the EBC tournament at legendary Rucker Park) makes him the perfect candidate to promote the NBL during its formative years.

In addition to his position with the league Jay-Z will also own one of the New York teams. The NBL will have ten squads in four divisions:

East Side
New York: Jay-Z
New York: 50 Cent
Philadelphia: Will Smith
Toronto: Drake
Miami: Rick Ross

Chicago: Kanye West
Detroit: Eminem

Dirty South
New Orleans: Lil' Wayne
Atlanta: Andre 3000

West Side
Los Angeles: Snoop Dogg

Rappers will have the right to determine team colors, names, logos, marketing campaigns (preferably guerrilla), rules of conduct, ticket prices as well as employ their homeboys in administrative and coaching positions.

Ownership will be renewed on a yearly basis based on multiple factors such as rapper popularity and availability. For example T.I. is eligible to own Team Atlanta once he is eligible for release from prison. League expansion, contraction and ownership changes will require majority votes from NBL teams.

Volatility throughout the league is expected thus the initial geographic imbalance is not considered a problem although the surging popularity of the Dirty South must be addressed.

Teams are free to sign up to 12 players to a roster. NBL players will be considered independent contractors and thus eligible to play for any team at any time. Likewise teams can release players at any time. Roster turnover, backstabbing and package deals are expected.

League revenue from merchandise, tickets and media sales will be split evenly between all the teams. Players on the winning team will receive twice as much money as those on losing teams. All NBL employees will be paid via RushCard with incurred transaction fees being reinvested in the league.

Rappers will be required to release at least two songs during the season. These tracks will be compiled in the NBL Season 1 Mixtape. 100% of the proceeds will be reinvested in the league.

Broadcast rights will go to NBC Sports Network, which is desperate to land an upstart sports league to compete against ESPN. As part of its "NBL On NBC" campaign the channel formerly known as Versus will televise every game, post-game interview/fight as well as introduce "Inside the NBL" with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Lil Jon. "Roundball Rock" will return as the official NBC basketball theme.

The league will strive to find and employ the best basketball referees in the world. Thus all NBA referees are banned from the NBL. Game Officials will also receive competitive salaries and security detail to ensure their integrity.

The front row of every NBL game will be reserved for NBL Wives and Girlfriends. Their on- and off-the-court exploits will be documented on the next season of VH1’s "Basketball Wives."

Like participants in the rap industry NBL players will be free to use HGH, steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. Throwing up gang signs and saying faggot will be rewarded accordingly.

Every team will play a 27-game regular season schedule comprised of nine home games, nine away games and nine contests on neutral courts. The NBL will emphasis a barnstorming tour of metro areas across the country beginning in Seattle where NBL members will pour out a little liquor in honor of fallen SuperSonics. Other destinations include Oakland, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver, Dallas, St. Louis, Charlotte, Virginia Beach and Boston. Games in China, South America and Europe remain a distinct possibility.

At the end of the regular season the top seeds in the East Side and Midwest will play in one conference final while the West Side and Dirty South will compete in the other. The format will be single-game elimination.

Winners will advance to NBL Finals Week, which will combine the festivities of the Super Bowl with the debauchery of NBA All-Star Weekend, culminating Saturday night with the NBL Awards live from the Apollo Theater.

The Finals will take place on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. Once again, single-game elimination. In lieu of a championship trophy each member of the winning team will receive NBL gold medallions.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Farewell To Arms (Erik Bedard Edition)

No, he wasn't worth the boatload of prospects. He never was.

In a sense the Mariners lost the trade the moment they sent Adam Jones & Co. to Baltimore for the Erik Bedard. Not surprisingly he was who we thought he was.

47 starts, 15-14, 255.1 IP, 212 hits, 101 BB, 249 K

Talented but brittle like a strawberry wafer crisp Erik's legacy as a Mariner will always be one of underachievement. The lofty expectations were unfair, as it wasn't Bedard's idea to be acquired for a random and be immediately dubbed "The Missing Piece" for a Seattle club that frankly wasn't that good. Yet he was supposed to become the team's ace, even starting Opening Day 2008 ahead of Felix Hernandez. He was supposed to lead the Mariners to the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

Alas, it wasn't meant to be. Obviously. The M's sucked with or (mostly) without Bedard. Now I don't harbor any ill will toward him. In fact, I found his blunt comments and sly remarks to the media rather amusing. And Erik certainly didn't dog it with his injuries as certain uptight sports journalists would make it seem. He was inefficient as fuck but he wasn't a quitter.

He gets hurt. A lot. It's just the way he's built. The Mariners knew that. Bill Bavasi knew that. We all knew Bedard would probably break down. It happened a lot and it sucked.

But man, when healthy he was a sight to behold. My favorite Mariner memory of Erik is the first. Opening Day 2008 in fact. Seattle was hosting the Texas Rangers. The prized offseason acquisition would square off against a division rival. Anticipation was sky high. The very first batter was Ian Kinsler.

And Bedard fucking destroyed him.

That magnificent, knee-buckling curveball. That's what I'll take away from Erik Bedard and his all-too-brief stint with the M's. Because when it was right, everything was right.