Dienstag, 31. Mai 2011
From Dau: AGAHOZO-SHALOM YOUTH VILLAGE, Rwanda -- Our service project is landscape work outside of the new canteen in the youth village. Every week the kids have the opportunity to buy items from the canteen, which they operate themselves. The youth receive an allowance of 1,000 Rwandan Franks each month and the canteen is their store, their one opportunity at business interaction.
The construction overseer gave us free reign over the design of the outside of the new canteen. We decided to build three tables in the front of the canteen and three benches in the back with a fire pit in the middle. The group was responsible for digging the holes (half-meter deep and 3 meters long) for the foundations of the tables and benches. With help from the construction workers (more on them in a bit), we finished the holes and turned up the soil around them so it became soft and manageable.
We then brought big stones by the truck-full to fill the holes to establish their foundations. Some of the group spent time working on the fire pit, some spent time mixing the cement, and others supplied the water in big jerry cans or lugged dry cement and sand in wheel barrows. Rabbi Mike and others spent time laying bricks to create a path around the village's center circle. All the while the construction workers took more control as the labor became more and more skilled, but for the most part we worked alongside the construction workers very well given the language barrier. They controlled the engineering aspect of the project as we continued to provide man power.
On the second day, we started laying the grass. Carrying each patch of grass was a challenge -- you'd be surprised at how heavy a block of transplanted grass can be. To date, the outside of the canteen is coming along well, but it is mostly due to the efforts of the construction workers. We are humbled to be just a little piece of the vision that founder Anne Heyman came up with for ASYV.
The construction workers arrive here every morning at 6:30 a.m. by foot or bike. Some live outside the village gate while others live two hills (at least an hour walk each way) from the village. Men and women, they all endure the heat until 3 p.m. without eating lunch. Almost all of them eat only one meal a day. The village actually pays them far above the average salary in Rwanda, an estimated $1.50 a day.
Some of the workers are old, some very young, some wounded, but they all have the drive to get the job done. In my estimation, the average weight of one of these workers is 150 pounds, yet their lean bodies are as tough as steel. Can you imagine showing up without complaint day after day, not worrying about the stain on your shirt or about how wrinkled it is? Or whether you got your favorite latte that day? There are so many excuses that these men and women might turn to in order to do less and complain more, but they handle their jobs with professionalism and profound pride. They are, to me, the definition of what it means to earn everything that you get in life.
Perhaps the proudest moment we felt as a group was when we were given the opportunity to teach the workers English. It was amazing watching people of all ages and genders help each other struggle through the challenges of learning English. We taught them the basic greetings and words like up, down, in, out, sing, dance and all of the colors. They were so eager for an opportunity to learn that it made me think of what the United States could be capable of if most young people had the same thirst for an education.
The group has two more days to contribute as much as we can to the project. We hope our small efforts made some difference because, after all, it is small acts that make dreams come true. We will wake up early tomorrow morning and greet the ever enthusiastic workers at the site. The village has provided these people opportunities and they are taking advantage of them -- one brick at a time.
A special thank you to Bruce Koeppl, and a shout-out to the group on this service project and to Rabbi Mike -- an amazing group of people.
From Zack: The day before we left for our service, there was an article in the Newark Star-Ledger about Luol Deng, the ironman of the Chicago Bulls. The writer offered that the preeminent historian David McCullough likes to say that you can't know someone until you grasp specifically what they've experienced in life. You cannot fully understand an individual, a people, a family, a town, or a country until you know the precise events that governed their motives and the spirit of those involved.
This is what we have been trying to do here in Rwanda: Trying to understand what these people and this country have been through after experiencing the horror of war and genocide. While we will never ever truly understand and fully experience what happened here, today drew us one step closer.
Rabbi Mike shared with the group that he considers a holy experience to be something that peels back a layer of your skin and causes you to dig deep and examine. Today we visited the Nyamata Church. At this place of worship, 6,000 Tutsis were murdered in the genocide (some of the bodies were identified because their ID cards were still there, but most of the skulls and bones remain unidentified).
The place reveals reality, as the way it looks today is very similar to way it looked after the killing took place. It's all there. The outside of the Church is drenched with bullet holes. The clothes of the victims lie on the Church benches. The scene is exactly as it was some 17 years ago. In the back of the Church, mass graves contain the skulls and bones of those who were slaughtered. You can view them.
The experience of seeing this and looking straight into the eyes of the murdered caused an emotional response. As I walked up the steps from the graves, I simply broke down. I couldn't handle it. I couldn't believe what I had just seen. It's different when the remnants of human bodies are right there in front of you. My stomach knotted and my eyes shed tears.
When we returned to the village, I ran into one the young men here with whom I have grown close. Typically, we exchange greetings and ask each other how our day went. He asked me what my day was like and what I had done. When I informed him that I had been to Nyamata, he immediately questioned me. What did you learn? What did you see? Difficult as it was, I told him of my experience. After some brief conversation, he informed me that his grandparents were murdered at Nyamata. Any collection of skulls and bones that I had been staring at just hours ago could've been those of this boy's grandparents. Unreal.
On this day, my faith was challenged. My belief that people are good and that they have the intention of doing the right thing, my optimism, took a major hit. Seeing all of this was different, and for me, it made the genocide real. How could this happen? How could humanity initiate and execute such horror?
Rwandans believe in a better future and they have faith in people, even after all that they've been through. They continue pushing forward. They smile.
As Dau often reminds me after all that he has been through in his life, you just have to believe. You have to pray and you have to believe. You can't lose faith and you can't give up. Those are not options. Rather, you have to do the things on a daily basis that move humanity in the right direction. Change doesn't happen overnight, and to me, it is not a one-hit wonder. It is a process and it requires courage, will, and work.
Greatness is the accumulation of little actions done well, over and over and over again. You can only control what you can control and it is our responsibility as humans to do everything in our power, every single day, to effect change. Be a role model, set the example. At some point in our world, we must cause good to outweigh evil.
I was listening to Dau's iPod on the ride back to the village from Nyamata. One of the songs was about love. The artist posed the question: How would we treat each other if we knew that love had no color?
Thank you all!
Peace and Love from ASYV,
Dau and Zack
There are two things Heat forward LeBron James remembers from watching Mavericks guard Jason Kidd play in the early days of his NBA career. One, he had a haircut that's long gone out of style. Two, he was darned good -- and James says Kidd remains that way. "He was basically Derrick Rose, John Wall, Russell Westbrook, all these guys that you see now, that's who Jason Kidd was,"...
With Kenny Dalglish now firmly back on his throne at Anfield the Liverpool transfer rumors have been flying thick and fast.
This one, reported by Metro.co.uk, has Monaco forward Benjamin Moukandjo being linked with a surprise move to the Reds.
The Cameroonian could be seen as the more affordable alternative to Lille's Gervinho, who's been repeatedly linked to Liverpool in recent days.
According to the Metro report, Moukandjo is 22 and relatively inexperienced. But they suggest the "lanky" player's "raw talent and versatility" could make him an appealing option.
It's like playing Where's Waldo or looking at the back of a milk carton.
Who are we looking for? Jamie McMurray, the driver of the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet.
He has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth this season and was hardly the driver he was last year.
In 2010, McMurray won three races, two of which were the biggest races of the season—the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400.
He is currently 26th in the standings with just two Top-10 finishes through 12 races.
Not to mention, McMurray is behind drivers that he should be ahead of—drivers like A.J. Allmendinger, Marcos Ambrose, David Ragan, Martin Truex Jr., David Reutimann, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano.
And he is just 13 points ahead of surprise Darlington winner Regan Smith.
No one knows if it's his driving or if it's the car. But one thing we do know is that McMurray isn't living up to expectations.
Luckily for him, there are 24 more races this season, giving him ample time to get things going and hopefully get his first (or more) win(s) this season.
He has been one of the most disappointing drivers this season, as many expected him to compete for a shot in the Chase for the Cup. But things just haven't gone right.
Last season was arguably the best of McMurray's career. He showed that he could be one of the best in NASCAR, especially on the superspeedway tracks (Daytona and Talladega).
He sealed his name in the record books as he won the biggest race of the year—the Daytona 500. He would then go to Talladega, narrowly missing out on the victory as Kevin Harvick passed him at the finish line.
During the next six races, he would place second two more times. Once at the Southern 500, at Darlington and another at the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte.
He would struggle during the next six races before earning a fifth-place finish at Chicago.
The following race, the Sprint Cup, went to perhaps the fastest track in auto racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400.
McMurray would stun his competitors again, as he took the checkered flag to win his second race of the season.
Over the next seven races, McMurray would earn three Top-10 finishes, including two third-place finishes at Bristol and New Hampshire.
Four races later, he won his third race of the year as he took the checkered flag at the second Charlotte race of the season.
He would then struggle over the rest of the year, earning just one Top-10 finish.
With such a strong performance in 2010, many thought that McMurray would challenge drivers like Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and others for a spot in the chase.
Although he is far behind, he still has a very small chance at earning a spot. There are 14 more races until the chase starts, so the Bass Pro Shops team needs to shape up right now if they want in.
But for now, McMurray is considered missing. He'll be found once he starts posting strong finishes.
The Sprint Cup will go to Kansas next weekend, followed by Pocono, Michigan, Sonoma and Daytona.
With the Heat-Mavericks matchup in this year's NBA Finals, we've got plenty of superstars who've demonstrated the highest level of shot-making ability this postseason.
Dirk Nowitzki was unguardable in the Mavs' Western Conference Finals win over the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder and LeBron James' clutch jumpshots were the difference in the Heat's series-clinching victory over the Chicago Bulls.
Both James and Dirk have elevated their games this postseason and led their teams to their best basketball of the year.
The role players for each team have worked tirelessly to scratch and claw to give their squads any slight advantage.
Will Nowitzki continue his determined journey to the Larry O'Brien Trophy?
Can James and Co. extend their unselfish play to beat the Mavericks again in the Finals.?
Wade averaged 35 points in the 2006 Finals. Will he have a repeat performance?
Miami is 8-0 this postseason at home and Dallas as won five straight playoff road games.
Something's got to give tonight in Game 1 of the NBA Finals...
For a Celtics rewind, here's Jake vs. Jesus Shuttlesworth going one-on-one, for all the marbles. ...
No more. This week, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the implementation of a restricted area semicircle in Division I men's and women's hoops. Imaginations no longer required.
Divisions II and III will make the same change in 2012-13, apparently because those schools need more time to "plan and place the restricted-area arc in their home arenas." (Again, how hard is it to draw a semicircle in paint? Is it a money thing? Can someone explain this to me? I remain confused.) But the point is the rule is changing, the arc is going to be three feet in diameter, the low-post collision rate should drop and the game should open up as a result.
More than anything, though, referees tasked with making one of the toughest calls in all of sports -- the split-second block-charge -- will now have another tool for doing so. This is a good thing.
Meanwhile, the women's 3-point line is backing up a foot to 20 feet, nine inches, the same length as the current men's line, which was similarly extended a few years back. You may not care about that, but the data formed during the rules committee's research on the change is actually kind of interesting:
Last season, the committee asked teams to track the number of 3-point field goal attempts taken behind the 20-foot, 9-inch line and the current 19-foot, 9-inch line during exhibition games and 40-minute game-like scrimmages.
Data from 194 institutions (100 in Division I, 57 in Division II and 34 in Division III) showed that most of the attempts and makes came from behind the 20-foot, 9-inch line.
Of the shots tracked, teams were 1,046 of 3,203 (33 percent) from behind the 20-foot, 9-inch line. The data also revealed that teams were 546 for 1,823 (30 percent) between 19 feet, 9 inches and 20 feet, 9 inches.
It'd be fascinating to see similar data on the men's game. How does 3-point distance affect certain teams and certain shooters? Or does it matter at all? What have the changes in the men's game done since 2008? What would further lengthening do?
Bored statistics majors, unite: You have been called to action. Cancel your Memorial Day plans. I expect a report first thing Tuesday morning.
Montag, 30. Mai 2011
Last season, he made he was selected to his first Pro Bowl after rushing for over 1,400 yards and nearly breaking Jim Brown's 47-year-old YPC record of 6.4, as Charles finished with 6.38 yards per carry for the season.
This year, many expect to once again see big things out of the former University of Texas track star.
Here are my bold predictions for Charles' '11 season.
In just over 24 hours, the 2011 NBA Finals will tip off between the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat. Dirk Nowitzki has been the toast of the playoffs, but can he give the Mavs enough offense to outscore LeBron James and the high-powered Heat?
Nowitzki is matching his career playoff high with 28.4 points per game in this postseason. He’s also knocking down an absurd 51.6 percent of his three-point tries, keying a Dallas squad that is loaded with long-range gunners like Peja Stojakovic and Jason Terry.
James, meanwhile, is gunning for his first NBA title and some validation of his much-criticized strategy of building his own team in free agency. Teammate Dwyane Wade, who helped bring Miami its first title five years ago, looks to knock off Dallas for the second time in as many Finals appearances.
With the third member of Miami’s Big Three, PF Chris Bosh, likely to guard Nowitzki, will his defensive shortcomings doom the Heat? Or will the Miami perimeter defense that stifled Chicago do the same to the sharpshooting Mavs?
Read on for a look at all the latest storylines leading up to the series opener.
If the Big East coaches can sway the athletic directors and presidents, the eighth-place finisher will have to pull off a similar feat in the future. A number of athletic directors are in favor of bringing only 12 teams to New York for cost-cutting reasons, according to sources. But there are larger issues at stake for the ADs that might force their hand, like possible expansion beyond 17 teams or at least getting to 10 or more in football with Villanova, Central Florida, Army and Navy all being brought up as possibilities.
The coaches at the annual Big East meetings earlier this week in Florida universally endorsed a proposal to have all 17 teams play at the conference tournament at Madison Square Garden in 2013, at which point TCU will be a full member. But the coaches were against a 16 vs. 17 play-in game that would theoretically take place on a campus site or in New York on Monday of conference tourney week.
According to multiple sources in the room, the coaches were in favor of a five-game Tuesday in New York where the teams from eighth to 17th would be matched in a format like this:
17 vs. 8
16 vs. 9
15 vs. 10
14 vs. 11
13 vs. 12
Day 2 of the tournament on Wednesday would have those five winners against teams that finished in fifth through seventh place.
Day 3 of the tournament on Thursday would be the traditional quarterfinals with the top four seeds meeting the winners from Wednesday. The semifinals and finals would remain as is on Friday and Saturday.
The coaches weren’t too concerned about the format of the bracket, but more so about ensuring that all 17 schools (i.e. coaches) have a chance to compete in New York. The Big East invited all 16 teams to the Big East tournament for the first time in 2009.
The presidents will likely decide on the number of teams for the 2013 tournament at their annual meeting this fall.
Vancouver is looking for their first ever Stanley Cup, and with the way Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler have been playing recently the Canucks are coming into the Stanley Cup playing their best playoff hockey yet.
Boston has five Stanley Cup championships to their name, but the Bruins have not won one since 1971. They have the best goaltender in the game right now in Tim Thomas, and his road to this point has been a long one, having faced two Game 7s in this postseason alone.
The late-blooming goaltender has a lot of pressure on his shoulders, as well as the weight of the die-hard Boston fans.
Here is the TV schedule for this year’s Stanley Cup finals:
|2011 STANLEY CUP FINAL|
|Wednesday, June 1||at Vancouver, 8 p.m.||NBC, CBC, RDS|
|Saturday, June 4||at Vancouver, 8 p.m.||NBC, CBC, RDS|
|Monday, June 6||at Boston, 8 p.m.||VERSUS, CBC, RDS|
|Wednesday, June 8||at Boston, 8 p.m.||VERSUS, CBC, RDS|
|*Friday, June 10||at Vancouver, 8 p.m.||NBC, CBC, RDS|
|*Monday, June 13||at Boston, 8 p.m.||NBC, CBC, RDS|
|*Wednesday, June 15||at Vancouver, 8 p.m.||NBC, CBC, RDS|
And now a position-by-position look at the two teams.
Vancouver, as already noted, has been led by Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler the past two series, but their offensive attack is a lot deeper than two scores. The Canucks have depth thanks to the third line of Maxim Lapierre, Raffi Torres and Jannik Hansen. Not always scoring, the third line gives the Canucks a burst of energy that many other NHL teams lack in their third line.
Boston is mainly a defense-orientated team, but they do have some players who can light the lamp. David Krejci has a playoff-leading 10 goals along with seven assists. Krejci shares a line with Nathan Horton. Both have been Boston’s two biggest clutch players. Horton has three game winners, and all of his eight goals have been in victories.
Edge: Vancouver. You won’t find a better attacking team in the NHL, especially when on the powerplay.
The Canucks also have depth on defense. Led by Kevin Bieksa, the Canucks’ defensmen go nine men deep. They’re a tough bunch, but they can be bullied. Their defensive confidence relies heavily on the play of their goaltender, Roberto Luongo. Otherwise, you could be looking at the best defensive team in the NHL.
Boston’s defense has struggled this postseason, but may have fallen back in place last series against the Tampa Bay Lightening. Zdeno Chara and Denis Seidenberg have been key for the Bruins and have really flourished since their pairing after the first two losses in the first round.
Boston’s second line of Andrew Ference and Johnny Boychuk haven’t exactly been the players the Bruins have hoped, but they have had their moments.
Edge: Vancouver. When this defensive unit is hot (and that’s nine out of 10 times) you won’t play or watch a better defensive unit.
The big question heading into the playoffs for the Canucks was Roberto Luongo. Luongo has been one of the most consistent goaltenders in the league when it comes to playing in the regular season, but come playoff time he has a bad case of choking.
Besides a small hiccup in the first round against the Chicago Blackhawks, Luongo has been pretty solid for the Canucks this year. A calm and collected Luongo is very important if the Canucks want to win their first Stanley Cup.
Boston has the best goaltender in the league in Tim Thomas. Thomas is a grinder, and a very good one. He hasn’t been perfect the whole series, but he has been perfect when the team needed him the most. He’s more than able to make that game-changing save or shut out a great offensive attack. It’s safe to say that Boston relies on their goaltender more than any other player on the team.
Edge: Boston. You can’t replicate or ask for a better goaltender than Tim Thomas.
Vancouver Canucks in seven.
When push comes to shove, you can’t deny that the Canucks have the best all-around team in the NHL. The series will be a grind to the very end though because of the stubborn Boston defense and goaltender, but I suspect the Canucks offense and tremendous power play unit will be the deciding factor in this year’s Stanley Cup championship.
On May 27 I reported that the Highlanders were considering a jersey color change to what was believed to be green.
Today, the Highlanders confirmed that this was indeed the case and the team would wear the jersey to mark the team's last game at Carisbrook this Friday night against the Western Force.
It was something that almost every person from the south of New Zealand thought was simply a joke, that it would never happen. However it is beginning to sink in across the region that the Highlanders will indeed take the field in green next week.
The reasoning behind the idea simply defies logic. Highlanders General Manager Roger Clark today said:
"We believe the time is right for change. We have a new coach, new players, new expectation, new and renewed fans, and next year, we will have a new home stadium."
We have chosen colours that we believe represent the physical characteristics of the whole franchise region. The colours will make a clear statement about the geography of our region and will stand out in the Super Rugby international competition. A year ago the Highlanders was not a strong franchise- the team wasn't performing and it was hard work for our fans. This year, there's a real sense of renewal tells us that people across our Provincial Union regions want us to have a franchise identity distinct from their provinces."
However, this view is not mirrored by the public. In fact, it has caused the biggest uproar in the south for many years.
The reason is simple. People of the south identify with the colors blue, gold and maroon.
While Clark says the team has a "new coach, new players, new expectation, new and renewed fans, and next year, a new stadium," it doesn't have new fans. Most don't buy into it. He also cites the want to break free of the provinces that they were formerly associated with, that they no longer want to have to conform to the traditions of these provinces.
That is all very good. But the facts are, the Highlanders have developed their own traditions and culture over the past 16 years, which can be summed up in the colors blue, gold and maroon.
He says that in recent years the side hasn't been a strong team and that a new jersey will put these years behind us. This is also true. However every loyal Highlanders fan will also be able to tell you of the days when the team was one of the top sides in the competition.
When Taine Randell led a team that included the likes of Jeff Wilson, Josh Kronfeld, Anton Oliver and Byron Kelleher among many others. All this wearing the sacred colours of blue, gold and maroon. Do we really want to leave this behind?
And that shows just why fans show their support. They don't necessarily support the players, or the coaches, but the team. That is key.
While the players, coaches, administrators and even stadium may change over time, the team remains the same. Long after the personnel of the current team are gone, the team will still remain and the fans will still be there to support whoever may be wearing the Highlanders jersey.
It can be best summed up by what Buck Shelford once said about the All Blacks jersey.
Shelford said that each individual "is a caretaker of the jersey and it's their responsibility to look after it for the next person." In essence, no one owns the jersey, and the next generation of Highlanders should be given the same chance to wear the same jersey that was worn by the players who developed the Highlanders culture in the late 1990's.
All of the things that this tradition and culture of the Highlanders means can be expressed by fans and players alike through wearing the team colors. By shifting away from these colors, the team would be moving away from everything the fans have come to proudly associate with their team.
Over the past few days, I have spoken to hundreds of Dunedin citizens about the idea. Although not all Highlanders followers, the feeling seems to be mutual, keep the Highlanders in blue, gold and maroon.
Of all these people, only one thought the change was a good idea. This sums up exactly how the region feels about the change and shows that the administration staff are indeed out of touch with the fans.
In today's media release, Roger Clark finishes by saying: "If 2012 is anything like 2011 it's going to be a great year to be a Highlanders fan. I can't wait to watch them."
But one must ask themselves. How many fans will the Highlanders still have next season? No doubt the region will still want them to do well, but how many true fans will the team still possess? The move has outraged so many fans, the effects may be irreversible.
To top it off, it has been decided that the Highlanders will unveil this new strip in their last game on Carisbrook. To quote one disgruntled fan I interviewed today, "this is simply insulting."
The Highlanders have played some truly memorable games on Carisbrook and Friday night should be a night to remember all the good times, rather than leave them all behind. Wearing the uniforms the side wore in 1999 when the team made the Final would be a much better send off for the ground that was come to be known as the 'House Of Pain'.
On a personal note, I have always maintained that I will support my beloved Highlanders to the death. No matter how far they fell or how badly they played, I would remain loyal to my team. But I simply can't support a team that is willing to turn away from it's traditions and to some extent, find it insulting that the administration won't recognize the fans that remained true to the team in their darkest hour.
Is this a new beginning for the Highlanders as Roger Clark says? Maybe. But if it is, it is also the end of the Highlanders as we have come to know them.
This time a year ago, many Denver fans were up in arms about the trade of one Brandon Marshall to Miami. A large contingent of fans believed that the franchise was in ruins, and it would take half a decade to recover.
A year and a league-leading wide receiver later are your opinions still the same? Read on and let me know what you think.
Derrick Rose vowed to learn from this, to get better, and insisted the Chicago Bulls would come back hungrier after the Miami Heat knocked them out in the Eastern Conference finals. Clearly, the standards are soaring now. As good as they were this season, the Bulls came up short. They blew a late 12-point lead and bowed out with a 83-80 loss to the Heat in Game 5 on Thursday.
Sonntag, 29. Mai 2011
- Laker trainer Gary Vitti tells Lakers.com's Mike Trudell about Kobe Bryant's right knee, which sounds like it's due for a busy offseason: "His is an articulating cartilage problem. The way I describe that to people is that if you look at the end of chicken bone where it’s nice and white, well, that’s not bone, it’s cartilage. Sort of like a Teflon surface that when two bones come together, that cartilage is there so that bones don’t rub on each other. Now, the fact that it’s nice and white tells you it doesn’t have a good blood flow to it, and that means it cannot heal or regenerate. So, over time, as that cartilage wears away, you end up with osteoarthritis. Kobe doesn’t have an arthritic knee, but he has a knee that has some joint degeneration to it. His issues and his age are such that it eliminates some procedures, like microfracture and that type of things. But he is a candidate for certain other things, and we know all the procedures all around the world that are available to him, and the appropriate decisions will be made, he’ll have the best care."
- Convincing evidence that coaching matters more on defense than offense (Insider).
- The Rockets have reportedly offered their head coaching position to Kevin McHale. One factor: those who played for him as the Timberwolves' coach generally rave.
- Good call. Zach Lowe of the Point Forward on the Mavericks guarding the Heat:� "This might be the moment they finally miss Caron Butler."
- Russ Bengtson: "It’s not a hard and fast rule or anything, but if the best photo of you they can find for your basketball card is you getting boxed out, you’re probably not going to have a very long NBA career. Happy birthday, Stuart Gray."
- Locked out NBA players could be kept from their national teams because of insurance blah blah blah. Players want to play and fans want to watch. Selfish of NBA owners to shut that down to protect their investments. 'Cause they're not investments, they're humans and ... basketball players.� As if, you know, playing basketball is something you could reasonably expect a basketball player not to do -- while you're not paying him, no less.
- The Chris Bosh vs. Carlos Boozer matchup mattered.
- Vegas says Heat, but Monte Carlo says Mavericks.
- Ted Leonsis remembers his first job. I appreciate the line of conversation, but it has just a hint of walking uphill both ways to school.
- Jason Terry's tattoo is really glad the Mavericks made the Finals.
- Derrick Rose is a special dude. Honestly, just hats off to that guy. He spews love of the game, love of his team, and doing things the right way with just about every breath. Classy. We're lucky that we'll be watching him for a long time.
- On HoopSpeak, Ethan Sherwood Strauss does not believe in giving Bulls fans some time to grieve, and is serving up a quick and pointed post-mortem: "Despite all the bricks, turnovers and crunch time gaffes, Rose was failing correctly. He was screwing up actively, dominating the ball. We tend to respect the guy who takes shots and D-Rose lobbed an average of 24 of them. Of course, all that chucking compounds the '35 percent from the field' issue. The superstar might well have better helped his team as a passive 'role player,' only shooting when absolutely necessary. But I wonder: Would media members be making excuses for Rose had he hurt his team less by taking far fewer shots? Or would they rip him for not 'going down swinging'? A year ago, LeBron James suffered an infamous failure versus the Boston Celtics. His 'Game 5' was a tepid 14 field goal attempt, 15 point absence of a performance. Though James added seven assists and six rebounds, his passivity stoked outrage. Though James had a much better series than Derrick Rose just had, we won’t remember it that way. He failed incorrectly, leading to a dreaded 'quitter' tag. I wonder, would James have been judged less severely had he taken 30 shot attempts in that blowout?"
- The Thunder's ten-best 2011 playoff moments.
- A strong case that, for the sake of his reputation, Mike Brown would have been better off taking the Warriors job. I get the argument, and think it makes all kinds of sense, but to me the bigger point is that if your thing is coaching in the NBA, coaching the Lakers is a good gig. The risks are intensified, but in this job, you live for that, right?
- High payroll teams make the Finals.
- What the Bulls should have done in crunch time, in video.
- Matt McHale of Bulls by the Horns: "Seven seconds later, LeBron tied the game with a step-back 3. It was contested. It was -- to be completely fair and honest -- a bad shot. But it went in. This is where I point out that Miami started 3-for-12 from downtown … then James and Wade went 3-for-3 from beyond the arc in less than a minute."
If the NBA's offseason includes a work stoppage, consider the Oklahoma City Thunder in as good a position as any team heading into next season. General manager Sam Presti already has the core in place for the Western Conference finalists, with all five starters and coach Scott Brooks under contract for next season.
Not only did Gleison Tibau pick up his ninth win this evening, defeating Rafaello Oliviera by submission on the preliminary undercard of UFC 130. He also earned a submission of the night bonus, winning $70,000.
Many consider Tibau (23-7) to be a gatekeeper, but the only losses of his UFC career have been to top fighters. He hasn't lost to any up-and-comers in the division, and he has defeated most and lost some very close decisions.
His appearance on a main card of a upcoming Fight Night event could be an appealing attraction if the opponent is right.
These are the five best options for the Brazilian lightweight fighter.
In an offseason littered with uncertainty, the Seahawks front office has continued to push towards the future; focused on continuing to breed an innovative, competitive culture surrounding the organization and the society of Seahawks fans, the 12th man.
Pete Carroll and Co. stated their offseason goal, loud and clear, in a thank you letter to the 12th man dated January 21st, signed by Pete Carroll. A few excerpts:
“There were many proud achievements to take away from the 2010 season. Winning the NFC West in our first season together was awesome, but it is just the start of a plan to own the division for years to come. We reached that goal by competing like crazy each and every day in all that we do—on and off of the field.”; “…one thing remained consistent (in prior reference to the teams midseason struggles) all season long and that was you, the 12th Man…”; “As John Schneider and I strive together to build this team, we will work tirelessly to continue and give you reason to believe in this team.”
With the lockout, the team has had very little opportunity, minus the draft, to actually keep building the team. However, the coaching staff was more involved in the pre-draft process given the labor situation; “we’ve had more opportunity to really dig in draft-wise and do special projects and go back and evaluate and re-evaluate.” The Seahawks believe this is an advantage.
The personnel moves to this point are not the topic of discussion, nor are the variety of opinions towards the team’s failure to re-sign Matt Hasselbeck prior to the lockout or the approach to the draft. What is important to note is that the team has remained tireless in their competition to field the best team in 2011.
A plan in place to weather the lockout
During an interview with Pete Carroll on 950 KJR on May 3rd, he had this to say in regards to what transpired when the lockout was lifted for one day—the second day of the NFL draft—and what could happen if the lockout was lifted again:
“Well, let me give you an example—when it was lifted for a few hours the other day, we had about a 10-minute meeting with the staff, and it was like 'OK, everybody get ready to just crank it up, burn those phones up, get everything sent out, get the word out that we want the players to come by the area.’ I mean, we cranked it up. Within about a half hour, we were a machine pumping out stuff to everybody because we knew it could close at any time. So we did a great job…the teaching, the mental side, all of the stuff that we can get going, we would jump into it and we would be ready to have a mini-camp next weekend. So if we had that opportunity, then we’re ready to go.”
In my opinion, Carroll and his staff have done nothing but remain firm on their promise to deliver the best product possible on the field next season, and his comments only re-enforce the organization’s will to adapt to the situation and to be ready to adopt one of their many plans to put in place. They are ready for a variety of scenarios regarding how, and when, the season may start.
Strength coach Chris Carlisle, a USC transplant from Carroll’s former staff, has a program awaiting the players when they return to work. A physical regimen focused on functional movement, longevity, and winning championships.
He’s hoping the players will adopt his mentality but also offered, “You’ve got to remember, I’ve seen this all before. I’ve seen this movie. It’s a great ending. And we’re right at the beginning.”
It’s appropriate to note here that the Seahawks are one of six organizations that promised not to cut pay to coaching staff, this stated as of May 24th, even if the lockout persists into the scheduled season, The Giants, Steelers, Colts, Eagles and Cowboys the other five teams that pledged the same; the Patriots have not made a decision and the Packers have a contingency plan in place.
Interestingly enough, the Steelers and Giants were on a five-team list in an ESPN Football Outsiders article I analyzed in this piece, highlighting the Seahawks’ ability to weather a lockout; the Packers and Patriots were other two teams on the Football Outsiders list.
The three other teams highlighted above that aren’t on the ESPN FBO list are strongly driven to win championships. The Seahawks are proving to be among the group of organizations most driven to push through, and possibly even gain an edge, during the hardships of the lockout.
Enhancing the home-field advantage
Recent comments by Seahawks President Peter Mcloughlin on 950 KJR re-enforced the Seahawks are focused on maintaining their competitive mindset, as both an organization and team, through times of standstill.
Though not a topic of the interview, the Seahawks recently installed 3,750 solar panels on top of the Qwest Event Center, the largest solar array in the state of Washington; Mcloughlin in the video highlighting the panel installation—located in the previous sentence—, “Paul Allen is leading this initiative…focused on doing the right thing for the community and environment.”
The Seahawks, and the MLS’ Seattle Sounders FC, are the pioneers in the league regarding the use of solar energy to power the organization—certainly a Sound way to reach out to the energy conscious community in the Pacific Northwest.
Regarding changes inside the stadium, Mcloughlin commented the Seahawks are exploring the idea of installing grass; “In a perfect world, both teams (including the Sounders FC) would like to have grass. There is a lot of benefit to it…However, in order to replace the turf with grass the building must be out of service for 8 months.”
He added, “The risks with rain and weather and sunshine; we’ve seen fields around the league where they get muddy due heavy rains, making the footing challenging.”
Though I have no confirmation, my ears could hear him smiling as he audibly hid his excitement towards the possibility of opponents not only having to deal with the fans, but also the field.
Think of the effects the field can have at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field in the winter; Seahawks fans have to think no further back than the last game the team played, a loss in Chicago, to see the home-field effects of grass.
The University of Washington Huskies will play at Qwest in 2012 as they re-furbish their stadium, so an eight-month shutdown is not an easy task to negotiate and will likely delay any future changeover.
Mcloughlin added “we’re not going to play our games anywhere but Qwest field at this point.” Valid point, as there is no reason to voluntarily give up the home field advantage already in place.
No football doesn’t mean no focus on the future of the relationship with the 12th Man
The Seahawks are yet to have an NFL throwback jersey day, as the team changed divisions and uniforms in 2002.
Mcloughlin offered during his interview though nothing would happen in 2011, the change from Reebok to Nike for NFL uniforms in 2012 will create the opportunity for a lot of creativity to be put into the idea for Seattle. The technology Nike uses in their manufacturing has brought new ideas to the fray.
The talk of throwback jersey’s created a buzz for some Seahawks fans; the old Seahawks uniforms are largely associated with the Kingdome and the AFC West, a relationship that ended roughly a decade ago.
The old regime led by Mike Holmgren and Tim Ruskell did not pay homage to the old era of the franchise via throwback jerseys—they contractually may never have had the chance to explore the idea.
The Seahawks’ planning of a future date to unveil the throwback uniforms is fun to talk about and created buzz, as it exhibits the organization’s commitment to enhancing the force behind the punch packed by the Seahawks and the 12th man.
I believe this is the organization’s effort at furthering their dedication towards re-empowering the meaning of the Seahawks’ symbol, a subtle effort at creating future opportunities to share the success of the franchise with the fans.
I want to turn your attention back to the Week 13 victory against Carolina, when the organization inducted soon to be Hall of Fame left tackle Walter Jones into the Seahawks Ring of Honor at halftime; one of the new regime’s recent statements in paying homage to the old Seahawks era and the transitional period.
The Seahawks came out flat and were down 14-0 early, 14-3 at half; Seattle won the game 31-14. No one is sure what created the “mystical” comeback, as Carroll referred to the victory after the game; he did not credit a fierce halftime speech, or any one man’s accomplishments.
After the game, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck alluded to the fact that some of the Seahawks’ successful second-half adjustments stemmed from a play run in honor of Jones; reserve tight end Cameron Morrah touched on the fact that “you don’t want to lose” when you honor a player of Jones’ caliber.
As the comeback has already been coined mystical, it’s suitable to explore the mystique. After the draft, I explained the presence of the Totem emerging within the Seahawks organization—“the extent to which the relationship between the organization and 12th man breeds a collective will and passion to represent the Seattle Seahawks, and ultimately a stronger force aimed at success.”
Jones’ induction is an instance of the organization honoring the past and present success of the Seahawks’ symbol, a collective celebration with the 12th man.
As previously explained, the Totem is the physical embodiment of a group and the group’s moral principles; Walter Jones is one of the main physical embodiments of the Seahawks’ transitional period from the old AFC West to the current NFC West, a distinct mark of the Seahawks’ personality of that period.
Is there any way of proving that Jones’ honoring invoked the power of the totem and which carried the Seahawks to victory? No.
But, it’s one more example that shows the importance of collective power of the 12th man and the Seahawks; a past embodiment of the Seahawks’ symbol playing an undefined role in the current success of the team; the previous examples I’ve highlighted being the “beastquake” run and playoff victory over the Saints, the week before that the Seahawks celebrating at the 50-yard line after winning the division versus the Rams.
But no Punch will be packed by the 12th man without a new collective bargaining agreement
Despite the Seahawks’ best efforts at enhancing their product for 2011 and beyond, no one is sure when that product will be unveiled. Unless a new collective bargaining agreement is reached within the next few months, there is a chance a reduced or even empty product will be on the field in 2011.
The Seahawks’ culture is in the second year of being re-made into an ahead-of-the-curve operation, both on and off the field. There is a focus on the representation of the “Seahawks way;” they care about their image and a strong relationship with the 12th man.
A belief in strong, eccentric and efficient energy is a main part of their operation; no pun intended.
But the irony of their success is while the Seahawks are working to enhance their Totem, the current representation of the NFL logo, the league’s Totem, is declining.
In my initial introduction to the idea of the Totem, I explained every NFL team has a Totem. But now, I want to expand on this; the 32 NFL teams are conjoined under the Totem of the NFL.
We’ve explored the Totemic powers within the Seahawks organization, but what about the NFL?
Remember, Totemic forces only have a positive effect when there is a leadership structure that is willing to enhance the collective power of a group’s guidelines— if that structure is not in place, the Totemic forces can go the other way.
Currently, NFL commissioner Roger Goddell is aware that fans are becoming increasingly displeased with the lockout; interest ratings are suffering.
The fans are realizing that the structure behind the NFL is fragmented; the width of the chasm between the owners and players is driving the collective energy of most fans into the ground.
Ironically, these are some of the same fans the Seahawks are working hard to keep attracted this offseason.
In preparation for this article, I polled a group of friends/Seahawks fans about their feelings towards a throwback jersey day. The prevalent response was yes, the topic may create buzz with some fans, but the actions of the organization are ultimately lost in the greater stink of the lockout.
I may lose my writing privileges if I write the six-word combination of every day words, only one profane, one respondent used to describe his feelings towards the NFL lockout and the owners-- the owners’ demand that the players give up money and further risk their health is unjustifiable, especially when many players are currently organizing unofficial OTA’s at the risk of injury and losing their season, even their career.
And In analyzing just beneath the surface of Seahawks receiver Mike Williams’ comments from earlier in the week, it’s possible the presumed leader for the Seahawks unofficial OTA’s is not even under contract with the team—an intriguing twist of fate would be for the guy Williams referred to being 2010 backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, and not Matt Hasselbeck. However, we know Hasselbeck has been trying to organize workouts for months.
Regardless of whom ends up leading those activities, both the players and the coaches are working hard for the Seahawks; and did enough work on one day of NFL business to hopefully get the ball rolling for 2011.
The organization is currently fulfilling their promise to compete on and off the field, even when the league is technically forced to stand still.
Unless the NFL can figure out the guts and guidelines for their Totem through gritty negotiation, the Seahawks’ hard work will remain somewhat unnoticed, lost among the muck of the NFL lockout.
The Seahawks and the 12th man can only hope a new collective bargaining agreement is eventually reached, allowing for the organization to showcase their offseason effort. They are an organization concerned with doing their business first and worrying about everybody else as they must, continually setting up the opportunity for those Totemic forces to take care of the rest.
Samstag, 28. Mai 2011
Back in the NBA finals, back to trying to beat the Miami Heat. Pretty wild how things have worked out for the Dallas Mavericks, isn't it? "It doesn't really matter that much to me," Dirk Nowitzki said Friday. "No thought whatsoever," echoed Jason Terry. Oh, well. So much for the story line of the 2011 Mavs seeking redemption for 2006.