Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Growing up, I was always a big NBA basketball fan.  While my brother was a huge Michael Jordan fan (like everyone else in the world), I was idolizing Charles Barkley.  Chuck didn't want to be a role model and he made sure everyone knew that, but to me, he was.

Barkley had no championships, he also did not have the roster and coaches around him that Michael Jordan did.  He was an undersized post player who made an impact on the game bigger than most with hard work, honesty and passion.

Sir Charles began his career on a championship team.  He was not a leader but learned from some greats who's names will always be mentioned when the game of basketball comes up.  While playing with Dr. J surely benefited him, he obviously took the most from Moses Malone.  Malone was a post player who, like Charles, prided himself on rebounding.  He was a great mentor for "The Round Mound of Rebound" to learn from.  Malone taught Barkley to work hard and how to prepare for games, seasons and the life of a professional athlete.

A few years after being in the league, Erving and Malone were gone (trade and retirement) from the team, and it was time for Charles to become the leader.  He did what he could, but the 76ers management did not put anything that great around him, so he eventually relocated to Phoenix via trade.  When you try and try and things aren't working, change something.  This obviously helped, as he was the league MVP this year and led the Suns to the NBA Finals where they eventually lost to the Bulls in 6 games.

"Just because I can dunk a basketball doesn't mean I should raise your kids." - Charles Barkley

I AM NOT A ROLE MODEL.  This was a popular Nike ad campaign designed around Chuck in the 90s.  He didn't want to be one, but he was.  And I think he was a pretty good one.  I'm sure there were other kids around the country looking up to him besides me (even if it didn't feel like it in my small midwestern hometown),  I mean he was one of the most popular players in the league and had a polarizing personality.  He was honest about his thoughts and feelings and didn't sugarcoat anything for the public.  He owned up to things he did, and did not make excuses for his mistakes.  He took credit for his faults, as well as his achievements.  Barkley was passionate and competitive and often had skirmishes with other players during games.  Afterwards, he was not afraid to say what he thought about it.  Rather than playing to the media like most did, he was honest, but he always left the grudges on the court.

He learned from his mistakes.  Once, during a close game in 1991, Charles became agitated by a heckling fan
and turned to spit on him; the spit ended up hitting a little girl.  He apologized to the girl and became friends with her family and provided them tickets to games.  He also served a suspension and paid a fine for the incident.  He learned from this, here's a quote from around the time of his retirement.

"I was fairly controversial, I guess, but I regret only one thing - the spitting incident.  But you know what?  It taught me a valuable lesson.  It taught me that I was getting way too intense during the game.  It let me know I wanted to win way too bad.  I had to calm down.  I wanted to win at all costs.  Instead of playing the game the right way and respecting the game, I only thought about winning."

Chuck got in many fights throughout his career.  He threw a guy through a window, he jawed refs, he played rough and even took some cheap shots, but he was always standing up for what he believed.  He stood by his opinions and fought for them.

He never got a ring, but he did chase the dream in the latter years of his career when he went to the Houston Rockets to play with Hakeem Olajuwan and Clyde Drexler.  You should always try for what you want, don't leave yourself wondering what if.  Though he did not succeed, he tried.

For the best years and majority of his career, he was competing with Michael Jordan.  The two are widely know as being good friends.  They had a healthy competition between them, which is important.  Competing with your friends and peers is always important.  It does sometimes get out of hand.  We've all had times when a pickup game at the park, a board game or even a game of Halo got out of hand and we lost our tempers.  Competition brings out our adrenaline and testosterone and things get heated.  This is why we should surround ourselves with good people.  Our friends understand and don't hold these things against us.

I could go on, but I feel this is enough for now.  Charles Barkley taught me a lot about life through his achievements and downfalls.  He was a league MVP, an 11-time all star, an All Star Game MVP, SEC Player of the Year and named one of the 50 Greatest Players Ever in the NBA.  He taught me roads to take, and roads to avoid.  He taught me to be passionate about what I do, to voice my opinions, to work hard and to stand up for what I believe.  I am glad I went through life looking up to him.

I am a better man for having Charles Barkley as a role model.......because he could dunk a basketball.

^Start that one at 1:44

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Jeff Green is out for the season.  His recently signed 1-year contract with the Celtics was voided because he didn't pass his physical.  The reasoning was hush until today.  He has a heart problem, which will require surgery scheduled for Monday.

All of the coverage of this story described it as a "mystery illness" and said they didn't know what was wrong with him.  The "mystery illness" has now been described as an aortic aneurysm, as reported by Yahoo! Sports.

The Celtics have dealt with things like this in the past, except they caught it this time.  In 1993, Reggie Lewis died on a practice court from a heart condition.  The Celtics also lost a draftee in 1986, when Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose while celebrating being drafted two days later.

Jeff Green was viewed as a solid player when he was in Oklahoma City, then was traded to the Celtics and has been seen as not so good.  I still think he's a good player with good upside.  He'll be missing this season, but I hope he returns to the NBA and makes some noise.

Stay fresh and keep calm,


The NBA is back after the lockout, the season starts in 8 days, and I personally cannot wait.  Christmas Day is usually one of the biggest days on the NBA calendar, and this year it's even bigger.  Christmas Day is also acting as opening day and featuring 10 of the top teams competing on live television in 5 great match-ups.

Celtics vs. Knicks @ Noon ET on TNT
Heat vs. Mavericks @ 2:30p on ABC
Bulls vs. Lakers @ 5p on ABC
Magic vs. Thunder @ 8p on ESPN
Clippers vs. Warriors @ 10:30p on ESPN

Though my Denver Nuggets didn't make the cut for Christmas Day this year, I am salivating for some NBA basketball.

This should be a good match-up of an upcoming team and one that this may be their last shot at another title.  Tyson Chandler joined up with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire in New York thanks to the amnesty of Chauncey Billups.  The Knicks hope to use their strong front line to take down the aging Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce to start the season.

The rematch of last years  Finals should be another great game.  The Big Three look to build on what they did last year and have already started spouting "Title or Bust" claims for this season.  The Mavericks look a little different than they did in the championship last year.  Tyson Chandler is gone to New York and J.J. Barea took his talents to the Great White North.  The Mavericks did pick up Lamar Odom from the Lakers, it'll be interesting to see how the team looks without Chandler and Barea giving grit and effort.

The Bulls had the best record in the league last year and made it to the Eastern Conference finals.  They're hoping Rip Hamilton's championships experience can help.  Christmas Day they take on the Los Angeles Lakers who many people are saying are on their downhill swing, and one big man less with 6th Man of the Year 2011, Lamar Odom being dealt to Dallas.  Passing of the torch?

Dwight Howard is still with the Magic, and they'll need him taking on the Durantula and the young OKC Thunder.  The Thunder are looking to get to the next step, they've been improving since they left Seattle and they're hungry for rings.

The NBA decided to put the most anticipated last, I guess.  The Clippers, featuring newly acquired Chris Paul, look to make the playoffs for the first time since '06 and start a winning tradition to take the place of the ill views everyone has had about them forever.  The Warriors are looking to take a step in the right direction as well and become a playoff team, but will they be able to stop the star power of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin?  (The Clippers are one of my side teams, I've followed them since Kerry Kittles went there in 2004 to end his career)

The Denver Nuggets have the holiday off, but it'll be a great gift to watch these great games.  Can't wait.

Stay fresh and keep calm,