Thursday, July 30, 2009

If This Is Real...It's Mind Blowing

Thursday, July 16, 2009

from the MEG website: summer update 2

If I wasn't lucky enough to play basketball after my college graduation, I am not exactly sure what I'd be doing right now. However, what I DO know is that I would not be able to speak a word of German, I would not be able to point out Gottingen on a map, and if someone asked me about the Jako Arena, "scheisse" (spelling?) wouldn't be the first word to come to my mind. I imagine I would probably be in the midst of a 9-5 job in corporate America, be a bit overweight, and walking that fine line between sanity and insanity.

I can only guess that would be my life because that's the point where most of my fellow college alumni are at these days. Three years at the same company or same field, still doing high level work at a mid level position for entry level pay and no raise or promotion in sight. So I can say that most of them "officially" hate their jobs. Therefore, if you took away all of the glitz and glamor that came with our profession, I still wouldn't trade it for anything that's going on over here. I would almost go as far as to say I'd play in Gottingen for free, but Marc Franz may take that I'll just keep it at...I "officially" love my job.

For a lot of people here in America, and probably all over the world, it is very difficult to get a job these days. Companies are laying people off, the people with money aren't spending it on anything, and a lot of middle class families are dealing with financial woes they never have before. It is because of that fact, that Holly is very happy that she secured a job with the basketball publication Dime Magazine. After interning for them while she was in college, she was hired to help out with their NBA draft festivities and turned that into a full time job.

Now Picture This: The Am Papenberg has 45 floors in the hotel. The NBA comes to Gottignen and reserves every room on the top floor of the Best Western. They take out all of the beds, all of the dressers and turn one room into a barber shop. They turn another room into an arcade, another into a cafeteria, another into a fitting room, another into a dressing room, another into a photo shoot, and the last one into a relaxation room with live music and a DJ. Now imagine, one at a time, each of the top 20 picks come up to the 45th floor of the hotel and it's Holly's job to make sure they get through all of the rooms on time. First they usually had to go get clothes for the photo shoot, then they usually got a haircut and went in to see the photographer. After that, they could eat, play video games or sit and listen to music...Pretty sweet huh? Luckily I got go up there at the end of each day. I didn't get to meet all of them but did to chill with Jordan Hill and James Harden for a little bit. Ms. Holly got to meet all of them, from Blake Griffin and Ricky Rubio to Hasheem Thabeet and Brandon Jennings. Her favorites were Stephen Curry, Johnny Flynn and Gerald Henderson and her least favorite was Tyler Hansbrough. I actually hope the Pacers cut him so he can come to Germany and I can dunk on him for her. But he's been doing very well in Summer League so I may have to wait.

I had a little flashback to my time in Gottignen when I went uptown to the hotel and there were a mob of people waiting for their chance to see all of these future NBA players. As I walked up to the hotel entrance there were a few kids who, you could tell, weren't sure if I was someone getting drafted or just a regular big guy going into the hotel. They decided to approach and asked me for my autograph anyway. Those three kids turned into 103 kids and before I knew it, I had to literally turn people away because I would have been there all night. So after finally getting upstairs, Holly took me through the rooms as if I were being drafted. First I went and tried on a bunch of clothes and sneakers, a lot of which they let me keep. Then I went to get a haircut and some food. No photo shoot for me but it was still the coolest thing I had ever done.

Actually, that's a lie, the coolest thing was actually what happened next, the owners of Dime approached Holly and I and put our names on the list for the official NBA-Draft After-Party. We were very excited and thought we were going to have the best day of our lives...but about a half hour later, we heard the news that Michael Jackson died. As much as that sucked, Holly said it best when stating that "he was dead to me 10 years ago." I was always tired of hearing the negative about such a talented musician and think his death definitely brought back the focus to what good music he made during his his death, although tragic, may have ended up being a good thing in the eyes of his true fans. But back to the NBA Draft After Party...

Now Picture This: Savoy is 5x bigger than it is right now. All of the NBA Draftees show up and come up to sit by us in the VIP. Some guys sit in the back and just chill, while others, whose names I'll keep secret, really take advantage of the free drinks and good music. I spent the majority of the night texting Ben Jacobson the play by play on what was going on in there because I couldn't believe how popular these 19 and 20 year olds became in the past 3 hours.

Speaking of Ben Jacobson, Holly just got back from LA where she worked this "White Men Can't Jump" tournament (although we all know Ben got hops) but Holly said that if Ben and I played together in this tournament as the new day and age Billy Hoyle and Sidney Deane, we would have won the whole thing. One of the teams Holly signed up for the tournament happened to be these two German guys and they showed up in Oldenburg jerseys and she had a nice little conversation with them about that.

But when I'm not hanging out with future NBA stars or hearing about basketball tournaments I could have won, I'm playing at the Nike Pro City summer league. No notable happenings at the courts yet, but I just received confirmation via text message that the new Artland Dragon Charles Lee and the link that holds MEG together, Jan Schieke will be in the building tonight watching me play. We'll see how this one goes. Until next time...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

from the MEG website: summer update 1

I am too lazy to keep two blogs so for the remainder of the summer I'll just import the weekly/biweekly blogs from my MEG website

21 minutes? 21 days?? 21 years??? I wasn't sure how long it was going to take to get over our playoff lost. And honestly, I still don't know if I have gotten over it. First, it was the fact that the team that beat us, got swept in the next round. KIND OF FRUSTRATING. Then it was the news that we may not qualify for European competition after losing so early. VERY FRUSTRATING. Then it was the repetitiveness of the people here in America saying "how did your team do this year?" and having to tell, and retell, the same story of their clutch shots, our lack of experience and some questionable calls. EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING. Once I finally thought I could get over it, I see that Oldenburg was crowned BBL champion. MOST FRUSTRATING OF ALL.

Now I can't help but think that the championship was ours for the taking. I mean, we did sweep them during the regular season. But there is nothing we can do about it now, besides work hard in the off-season to assure we are in contention for a championship next year.

Yeah I know...I haven't really kept up with my blogs...and I also know that last summer I was blogging about vacations and parties and concerts...but like I said before. Once you get a taste of winning and success, it makes you that much more hungry to go after it again. Therefore, there will not be as many crazy stories to tell from this summer. I won't bore you with tales of working out, shooting free throws, lifting weights. I'll be sure to entertain with stories of guarding Ron Artest in the Pro City basketball summer league or throwing alley oops to Yi Jianlian at the New York Athletic Club workout facility.

Although I don't have any vacations planned for the time I am home, I was able to go down to Hilton Head for a week as soon as I got back. Hilton Head is a little island off of the coast of South Carolina and besides the scorching heat down there in the summer, it was one of the most relaxing things I've done in a long time. I finally used my birthday gift for a "Head to Toe" massage at the Vital Spa the day before I left so the transition into a relaxing vacation couldn't have been better. The timeshare in Hilton Head is owned by Holly's grandparents Lou and Marilyn. I never really had a chance to know either of my grandfathers, so getting to spend some time with Holly's was a real pleasure, he was a Professor at Washington University in St. Louis (a school in New York University's basketball conference) so we had a nice little talk about when I used to play against them. But he is one of the most brilliant men I have ever gotten a chance to speak with. Now her grandmother, although smart too, blew me away with how active she was. She did some sort of activity everyday, whether it was walk the beach, walk the resort, or ride bicycles down the main road, And had no problem keeping up with Holly and I while doing it either.

Since I've been home, after the relaxing vacation, I've been working pretty hard at the gym. And I think my dedication to working hard is becoming contagious with my family members. My brother Malcolm, who just finished his first year of basketball at Keystone College, is very eager to gain some muscle so we lift together. Then there is my dad who still thinks he can beat me in basketball. He still talks about the last time my brother and I played him and my mom 2 on 2 and they won. I was 11, Malcolm was 6 and they only beat us by one. But since we haven't played a "real game" since then, there isn't really much my brother and I can say...and it kills us. But my dad has been helping me get shots and post moves up almost everyday...that's all he's good for now is being a rebounder. Lastly, there is my Mom (and occasionally my Aunt) who are concerned with finally making this the summer they are going to get in shape. So the three of us hit the track at least once a week together to build up our stamina. With the support of a family like that, there are no longer any excuses why this shouldn't be the best season ever.