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Friday, January 23, 2009

Stop Sleeping On Us

Since childhood I've owned a regular Nintendo, a Nintendo Gameboy, a Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, Sony Playstation 1 & Sony Playstation 2. My favorite system out of those would have to be my Genesis…it got me through the rough stretch of my adolescence, you know the overweight, glasses, braces, pimples part of youth. If I didn't join the Boy Scouts and make some friends I'd probably actually be a fat videogame designer. But for those of you that had Genesis, do you remember NBA Jam? Quite possibly the best video game of all time. I mean where else but NBA Jam could you play a game with no fouls and no out-of-bounds? Until my parents let me buy Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, that was where I got my violence fix. But for those of you that really remember NBA Jam, I only have one for you… "Boomshakalaka."

Besides making me feel old, when I actually think of how long ago that was, it baffles my mind how far the NBA has come. This videogame was popular when Jordan was a White Sox'er, when Harold Miner had a promising NBA career, and most importantly, when the Knicks were worth watching.

That elaborate introduction was mainly just to show you when the NBA became a spectator sport for me. I remember when the Bullets were Washington's team, the Hornets were in Charlotte and when there was no Vancouver or Toronto or Memphis or Oklahoma City (actually that was last year). But truthfully, all of these "expansion teams" are really starting to drive me crazy. We got all the major cities taken care of (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Boston) and even a few of the minor ones too (East Rutherford, New Jersey) but the expansion teams (aka NCAA All Star teams from the previous year) just aren't competitive until years later…or so I thought.

My team out here is what you'd call a "newcomer to the BBL" or an "expansion team" of some sorts.The way it works out is a little bit different though, if you finish atop Germany's second league(Pro A), you get a chance to enter the first league(BBL).The same goes for winning the third league(Pro B), you get the chance to play in second league (Pro A). And so on and so forth, get it? To keep the numbers consistent, whichever team finishes in last place is then demoted to the league beneath. Pretty simple huh? I thought so, except for the fact that new team is usually the worse team the next season and is stuck in this vicious cycle of being the best in one league one year, then the worse in a better league the next year, then back to being the best in the worse league the next year and so on and so forth.

So the goal of any team who gets the chance to move up becomes to just stay in their new league. Usually, anything but going back down to the league they just came from is a fine season. So Gottingen, my current team, won the second league in 2007 meaning last year was their first season in the first league. I got my tryout in February, we ended up finishing 13th overall (out of 18), and everyone was happy for our debut season. Now, in 2009, some fans and media were talking about the possibility of playoffs (top 8 out of 18 make it), but seeing the big name players that some other teams, with larger budgets, were able to sign, we kept our goals modest. If we could protect our home court, continue improving, and never stop competing, we should be able to win the games we were supposed to, and some of the game we weren't supposed to.

Although that sounds like a formula for success, any athlete knows that it is easier said than done, but you get enough people going in the same direction toward the same goal and sometimes crazy things happen. If you would have told me, or anyone else in the German basketball community, that going into February, we'd be the first place team, they would have looked at you crazy. The truth of the matter though, is that we are in first place in Germany's top division, 52nd in all of Europe, and damn near heroes in our little Lower Saxony German town. Now we could go around all flashy flaunting ourselves around like some damn fools, but that's not what got us here and that's not what's going to keep us here. No one sums up our motto better than Barry Sanders and his simple TD celebration. Every time he scored he simply just handed the ball to the ref and was quoted as saying "it shows more if you just act like you've been there before."

So although the food portions are bigger, the car washes are free and the VIP line in the club is exclusive, practice remains just as hard, the criticism remains just as harsh, and the will to prove we belong is as great as it's ever been.

What's Playing in Jason's iPod: Jamie Foxx ft. Lil Wayne- Number One

I mean, first place duh? But I was actually having this discussion with a teammate of mine and I'd be willing to argue my point with anyone. Watching the Obama Inauguration, Jamie Foxx had the best speech, it was clever, funny, and all around entertaining. And when it comes to "entertainers" I don't think there is a better one than Jamie Foxx, he's what we'd call the total package. In terms of singer, comedian and actor, name someone better than him? I didn't think so

YouTube Video of the Week: Stuedabakerbrown-ESPN Monday Night Football Montage http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4QzcqwCMIM

You know those Ultimate Highlights ESPN used to show every week. Well I always wanted to learn how to edit those and put my own music to them and just watch them over and over again. Half the time I felt like they didn't put the right beat to the highlight or the right highlight in the right spot of the song. Plus some of those songs are not really good, but my boys from Stuedabakerbrown have been on their grind and actually got some TV time for one of their latest songs to a MNF Montage on ESPN. Keep doing what you do.

German Phrase of the Week: Viel Glück!-Good Luck

It took me longer to figure out how to type that Ü (for MS Word on laptops ctrl+colon key+letter) than to decide what the phrase was this week. This is the statement that anyone who sees you says to you in the three days leading up to the game. There aren't too many people that look like me out here, not because I'm 6'6" and African American, but because I have tremendously good looks and a body like a Greek God. Whether you believe that or not, I do stick out here like a sore thumb and because of that people recognize me on the streets. So if I start hearing Viel GlÜck shouted in my general direction, that can only mean Gameday is approaching….I just spent the past four minutes trying to make that "umlaut" lowecase…I give up...ehh whatever.

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