Monday, August 31, 2009

Some Things To Note

My blog kicks off tomorrow and I can't remember being this excited about something since...well, since the first practice last night followed by the preseason running test (13 hours off of the plane).
Now I know Blogs are personal and don't necessarily need a structure but I like structure and it's my blog...therefore they'll definitely be some things that you'll see everyday...and rather than just randomly throw them in there or waste an entire blog post about them (although I guess that's what this is right?)...I'll just go ahead and briefly describe them to you the way my blog's starting in 24 hours...Tuesday Sept 1, 2009.
(Artist) Lyric Of The Day: Sometimes it'll pertain to the blog, sometimes it won't. Sometimes it'll just be a lyric I heard that day and feel like writing down. But what you all will come to realize, as my college roommates did, when you live with me, music is ALWAYS on. If I was studying it was Smooth Jazz, if I was working out it was Techno Beats and if I was just chillin' it could've been anything. The lyric, like the blog topic, can range from Dave Matthews to David Banner or from Jim Jones to Jimmy Eat World.

Do What You Do: This has been my phrase since high school. My good friend and high school basketball teammate, Matt Atkins, used to always drop it and it just stuck with me. Matt showed up to my going away party at 2am straight from the airport and therefore, deserves another shoutout. Good looks kid. It's such a simple saying (like that alliteration?) but since I've been "doing what I do" I never second guess myself and that leads to a boost in self-confidence...which we all need every so often.

Hallelujah Hollaback: This phrase will always hold true to my heart because my first roommate in Germany used to say it all of the time. In the beginning, I thought it was as corny as it was comical, but soon after, found myself saying it back to him constantly. As I was thinking of a catchy tag phrase, I couldn't shake the idea of combining these two distinctly different phrases as one. That my friends, is an example of "doing what you do."

...blackhercules21...: Jared Kildare = My Go-To Guy (pause). Whether it's relationship questions, Hip-Hop concerns, fashion advice or career planning, Jared has been dropping me dimes both on and off the court for years now. He's got a bad habit of dying at his jokes before he finishes telling them, but is still my dude nonetheless. He's the one that gave me the nickname and ever since, it's kinda he was at my Going Away party and is deserving of this shoutout...

I'll get at you all tomorrow.

Friday, August 21, 2009

yeah...that's me

What is that Tricep shot/Head in Armpit of Common at 35-37 secs? Look quick or you'll miss it...don't be afraid to pause and rewind...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Buergerstrasse Vierundvierzig

There are a lot of questions marks regarding this upcoming season...

Who are the new players?
Are they any good?
Do we really have new sponsors?
When is our first Eurochallenge game?
Is it really in Russia?
Where are we going to eat now that Marco Grimaldi isn't on the team?
What's up with this bank job I was supposed to work?
Did my coach really expect me to be fluent in German by the time I got back?

But the one thing I know about this season is that I'm going back to the same apartment...Burger Street 44 (true story)...oh how I've missed you

Monday, August 10, 2009

from the MEG website: summer update 5

Every sport has a rivalry...that's what makes it fun. Growing up in a basketball family, and living in New York City, I would always want to watch Michael Jordan's Bulls come to Madison Square Garden and play against John Starks and the New York Knicks. I would also love seeing Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon go at it. After I started playing pee-wee and Pop Warner football, I had to begin following those rivalries too. There was no getting me away from the TV when Emmitt Smith and the Dallas Cowboys played Steve Young and the San Fransico 49ers. Michigan and Ohio State made me want to play Big 10 football. And I still think John Elway is the best quarterback ever, just had some tough luck in his career. I mean you remember "The Play" between Stanford and Cal right?

Anyway, besides football and basketball, the only other sport I ever played growing up was baseball. Now with baseball, there are rivalries are all over the place. Sometimes there are two teams in the same state like the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds (Ohio) or the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants (California). Other times it's division powerhouses that vie for championships year after year like the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs (National League Central Division) or the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners (American League West). But the biggest rivalry of all time, in any American sport would have to be that between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.

I know sometimes I ramble on and on in my blogs but I'll try to give you a BRIEF history of this 100+ year rivalry and why it'll never die...and I'll do it in timeline fashion so it'll force me to keep it quick

Early Days- Boston has this elite feeling to it, and as a New Yorker it kills me to admit it, but the city is much cleaner and in terms of culturally and educationally (Harvard) it far surpasses that of New York.

1916- Harry Frazee (from Peoria, Illinois like John Little) bought the Red Sox for like half a million dollars. Already have a guy you may have heard of named Babe Ruth (best baseball player of all time) on the team.

1918- Even though the Red Sox win the World Series, Frazee has built up some debt and sells Babe Ruth to the Yankees to pay for Fenway Park costs and other debts he obtained. Babe Ruth aka The Sultan of SWAT aka The King of Crash aka The Colossus of Clout aka BABE RUTH...THE GREAT BAMBINO

1920's- aka Roaring Twenties aka when they get Yankee Stadium aka when they get Lou Gehrig aka when they win six pennants and 3 world series' aka when Boston Red Sox fall off the face of the Earth aka The Curse of the Bambino.

1930's- aka The Great Depression in America aka the great depression for the Red Sox...okay I'm done with the aka's...sorry. Basically this is the time when people in Boston started to realize that they should have kept Babe Ruth no matter what. As if it wasn't bad enough the stock market just crashed, they had to go on and watch the Yankees will World Series after Pennant after World Series for the next 60 years.

1999- Boston is not on the Yankee's level in terms of winning or payroll, but get one of the best pitchers in the game (Pedro Martinez) and in their first playoff series Boston seems ready to break the curse. Both teams were rolling through the playoffs but when they played each other the Yankees won the series 4-1 with their only loss coming when Pedro Martinez pitched.

2003- Second time they meet in the playoffs, series goes to a 7th and final game for all the marbles. The series was classic to that point, great hitting, great pitching, and great fights but would obviously end in dramatic fashion. I was a freshman in college (at New York University) sitting in a dorm room full of Boston Fans (how that happened I don't know) and I remember this like it was yesterday. Boston was up by 3 runs toward the end of the game and they had their best pitcher pitching. I was a little nervous but the Red Sox fans were going crazy, talking all kinds of trash and sort of rubbing it in. Needless to say, like was bang bang bang...3 straight hits and all of a sudden we are only down two runs and have two guys on base. That was when Jorge Posada, the Yankees' catcher, stepped to the plate and got a hit that scored both guys. The games goes into extra innings aka overtime (sorry for the aka it's the last one this time for real) and in the bottom of the 11th inning Aaron Boone...yes his last name was Boone hit the game winning homerun and finally shut up all of those Red Sox fans I was sitting with.

2004- This is when things took a turn for the worse, depending on which team you favored. This time around it was the Yankees who would self-implode. They started the series off strong, winning the first 3 games, but after a huge David Ortiz performance, a bloody-sock and the grace of God, the Red Sox came back and won the last 4 games back to back to back to back aka the greatest playoff series ever (sorry sorry).

Since Then
- The Redsox have won 2 World Series to the Yankees 0 and so far in the 2009 season, the Red Sox have had the Yankees number. In 8 meetings so far this season the Red Sox haven't lost and outscored the Yankees 55-31. Luckily for the Yankees, I got a call from a good friend of mine who had two extra tickets and we got to go see the 9th game of the season between the Red Sox and Yankees at the new Yankee Stadium. We were a little late getting up there and by the time we got to our seats it was bases loaded for Boston, but when I sat down Joba Chamberlin struck two guys out and got a pop-out. Although the Red Sox scored first, by the time the 5th inning was going to begin, it was 9-3 in favor of the Yankees. We went on to score 4 more before we allowed 2 in the last inning and won the game 13-6. It was great seeing the Yankees break that losing streak and go on to actually sweep the 4 game series in New York and secure a first place spot while doing it.

It'll be interesting come my birthday when the MLB playoffs are well underway...Let's Go YANKEES

Thursday, August 6, 2009

from the MEG website: summer update 4

When I was a freshman in college I went to a New York City comedy club and was sitting right next to Cuba Gooding Jr. The entire time we were at the show, people kept running up to him and asking him questions. Obviously, there were the people who wanted autographs, "Can you sign this? Can you sign that?" Then there were the people who wanted to show they were really his fans and asked him more specific questions like "When you did Jerry Maguire was it hard to play a professional athlete? Or do you get nervous showing your bare bottom in movies?" It wouldn't be NYC if someone didn't come up to him and ask how to get into the acting world and wanted to know if Cuba Gooding Jr. could help them get their foot in the door. And then of course, there were the drunk people who just wanted to take pictures with him. The whole time this is happening I'm sitting there thinking, "how do you deal with this everywhere you go?" but he was asked enough questions by that point, so I just kept it to myself.

Us MEG players have, what we call, D-list celebrity status...meaning we're not REAL celebrities. We benefit from a few perks like skipping long lines or getting faster service but we don't have to really deal with paparazzi or fanatical fans 24/7. That may also be the difference between being a celebrity in America and being a celebrity in Europe. The difference between being a BBL player and being an NBA player, or the difference between American media outlets and European Media outlets. Whatever the case may be, I have spent more time around REAL celebrities this summer than ever before. First it was the NBA draft, where I met a bunch of soon-to-be NBA rookies. Then it was the movie shoot where I met (rapper turned actor) Common and (rapper turned actress) Queen Latifah. Then there was the Rock The Bells concert where I was within arms reach of some of the best Hip-Hop artists in the game today. And now there is the Nike Pro City summer league, where I get the chance to play with/against some of the best players in the world. It's definitely contagious too because Holly has already run into both Steve Nash and Zyldrunas Ilgauskas walking down the streets of New York City.

As I'm sitting here writing this blog I have ESPN Classic on and I'm watching an NBA game from 2003 between the Mavericks (Dirk, Nash, Finley, LaFrentz, Van Exel & Najara) and the Kings (Bibby, Webber, Turkoglu, Stojakovich, Christie & Jackson) and at this point (OT just began) Dirk has 30pts and 18rbs. As a highschool senior (which I was in 2003) I couldn't imagine in my wildest dreams ever playing against someone that stepped on an NBA court, especially since I was preparing to go to a Division 3 University. But a lot has changed in those six years and my summer has been filled with basketball stories against some of the world's best players that I will remember as long as I live.
Our last regular season game is this week and between the weekly runs at the New York Athletic Club and the Nike Pro City Summer League, I've played with/against NBA stars (past and present) like Allan Houston, Al Harrington, Jason Williams, Ryan Gomes, Ahmad Nivins, Ron Artest and Marko Jaric. It was good to see Houston can still get up and down the court. Al Harrington has more swag than anyone I have ever played against, but his new Protege sneakers that can be found exclusively at K-Mart are awful. Jason Williams, who could have really been a solid NBA player didn't impress me much. I wasn't a big fan of motorcycles before but after seeing what it turned him into, I will definitely NEVER be riding on of those. Ryan Gomes got caught up in the bickering back and forth and let it affect his game, although he ended up playing well in the clutch and helping secure a win for our team, so I'll leave it at that. Ahmad Nivins can be decent in the NBA but he definitely needs to get stronger and more disciplined. He did however, have more goaltends in the two games he's played with us than I have had in my career. The guy can definitely jump out of the gym, as of right now, let's see what 10lbs of muscle and 82 games does to those hops. Ron Artest got a little testy at one point, and I thought we were going to have another "Palace at Auburn Hills" but he was just mad his team was losing. And last but DEFINITELY not least, Marko Jaric is married to Adriana Lima...enough said.
After my movie hits theaters and Marko Jaric lets me babysit the baby he's expecting I think I will be well onto my way of a D-List celebrity...but in the meantime I can't wait to get back to my D-List celebrity status in Gottingen. Four weeks and counting.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

from the MEG website: summer update 3

Rock The Bells is an annual Hip-Hop Festival that tours the entire country. The best show is always in New York because, as we all know, Hip-Hop was invented in (my hometown of) the Boogie Down Bronx. Therefore, the best rappers of all time come from New York City and it's no surprise that NY always has the best show. Besides the obvious ones like Notorious BIG and Jay-Z, there were also rap pioneers like Rakim and KRS-One. All from NYC...but if you ask me who is the best Hip-Hop MC of all time I'd have to say Queensbridge's own Escobar Ceasar Nasty Nastradamus (better known as just NaS). I specifically didn't refer to him as a rapper because he is so much more. Nas is to Hip-Hop what Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong are to Jazz and what Mutabaruka and Bob Marley are to Reggae. And speaking of Bob Marley, the Rock the Bells tour was also a preview for the "Distant Relatives" album that is coming out in the near future. It's a collaboration between NaS and Bob Marley's youngest son Damien.Being a big fan of both NaS and Damien Marley I really wanted to get tickets to the Rock The Bells concert at Jones Beach but unfortunately it was sold out in two days. But no need to worry, I was going to find a way to get there, even if it meant standing out on the beach all day and scalping tickets. But that would end up not being necessary. Why, you ask?

Well, there is a guy who organizes a lot of highly-competitive New York City basketball workouts. His name is Milton Lee and he's worked with NBA players, college players, and overseas players alike. When Ben Jacobson and I played on that ESPN NIT college all star team back in 2005, he was the one responsible for getting us in shape. His resume is unmatched and on top of all of that, he is a really good guy. Since people know him, and the high level of basketball players that he deals with, he is often contacted whenever someone needs basketball services. I get emails from him all the time asking if I can give a basketball lesson, work a basketball camp, or be an extra in a basketball movie.
Usually I don't respond because my schedule is always up in the air, but being an extra in a basketball movie definitely caught my attention. Ever since my German Premiere Debut commercial I've always wanted to see what doors would open for me in the entertainment business. Turns out the movie is called "Just Wright" and it stars Common (the Chicago-born rapper turned actor) Queen Latifah (the NJ born rapper turned actress) and me (the NY born basketball player turned actor). Actually it doesn't star me, I don't even know how many scenes I'm going to have in the movie. All I know as of right now is that Common is a professional basketball player (like Charles Lee) who gets hurt (like Charles Lee) and Queen Latifah is the physical therapist (like Peca) who works at the rehab center (like Rainer Junge) and gets him back on his feet (like Peca did). So it's just like the Charles Lee story, although I want to say there is a kissing scene in the movie (and to my knowledge, there were never any kisses between Peca and Charles).

So this production company was looking for New York City basketball players to be extras in the NBA basketball scenes but didn't want to pay 300 people to come "tryout" for the part, so over a 3 day training session, where we did every basketball drill from 3-man weave to 3-point shooting, they weeded out enough players to be left with 4 full teams and one practice team. All of the guys who made the final cut (yours truly) got tickets to see Common perform at the Rock the Bells concert...and we sat up front. Unfortunately, when Paderborn beat us in the last regular season game, someone ran down from the stands and stepped on Holly's pocketbook, crushing my camera, and I haven't been able to purchase another one yet, but the concert was amazing, there were a lot of special guests (Ice-T and The LOX) and a lot of drama (Slaughterhouse/Wu-Tang beef) resolved. The best part of the concert was Damian Marley's guys gotta let me know if you recognize that flag?

Quick Sidenote: I just bought the Slaughterhouse CD and it was the best CD I've heard since the last Nas album...

I'm pretty sure my next Nike Pro City game is against Ron Artest and Queensbridge (NaS doesn't play but he definitely supports them) and we are looking to keep our winning streak alive. Although we had both Ryan Gomes (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Marko Jaric (Memphis Grizzlies) on our roster for our last game was a hard fought battle against a bunch of local talent from Brooklyn. We all know how it goes when a scrappy hard working team (Gottingen) matches up against a much more popular bigger name team (most of the other BBL teams)...the scrappier team gives it all the have. It was nice to be on the other side for once, especially since we won, but I'm definitely looking forward to getting back out there with my "rat-pack" and give these other BBL teams 40 minutes of hell.