Thursday, December 1, 2016

The What If All Stars

So I was sitting and the news came across that Rob Gronkowski had another back injury that was going to potentially keep him out for 2 months. This made me think about historically could he be on his way to the “What If” All-Stars. Now this is a sad list of people that you always preface their career with “what if they stayed healthy.” And as my mind is wont to do it wandered over to basketball and who could be considered the NBA’s version of this. So without further ado I present to you, the NBA all time starting 5 of What If All Stars.

Point Guard: Penny Hardaway
Growing up Michael Jordan was my favorite basketball player. Coming in right behind him was Penny Hardaway.

He was a modern day Magic Johnson. A 6’7 point guard who was able to score at will if he wanted to, but seemed to find more joy in setting up teammates to score. But after a trade to Phoenix he was plagued with feet injuries before having two microfracture surgeries on his knees effectively ending the explosive playmaker we had grown accustomed to seeing. 

Shooting Guard: Ron Harper
When people talk about Ron Harper now they think of the veteran who came in and played great defense and was the starting point guard on the greatest team in NBA history (shout out to the 96 Chicago Bulls) I think few realize that he was a pretty dynamic scoring guard in his own right. Easily averaging over 20 points a game with Cleveland and later on the Clippers, an acl tear zapped him of the explosiveness that was so integral to his game.

Small Forward: Drazen Petrovic
Drazen was already killing it in Europe before coming to the NBA but when he got here….man. When he became a starter in New Jersey after a brief stint in Portland Petrovic was that dude. Averaged over 20 points and more than held his own against the elite players of the league. Unfortunately a car accident extinguished his flame before we ever truly got to see how great he could be. 

Power Forward: Len Bias
You want someone who could do it all? Len Bias could do it all. Without a doubt a once in a generation player the man who could defend, rebound, shoot, dunk, and even tape ankles if you needed him to was going to extend the Celtics reign of dominance. Instead a cocaine overdose ensured that he would never get that opportunity to truly showcase his skills. He was  only 22 years old.

Center: Greg Oden

Talking about a man amongst boys, Greg Oden completely overpowered the college game from a defensive stand point and was beginning to do so from an offensive stand point.It was a no brainer that he was the top overall pick. Then as was the case with another Portland draft pick Sam Bowie, the injuries began to pile up. Zapped of his mobility and footwork he became a slow plodding player who never really recovered. 

Well there you have it. Guys who had things gone another way could have altered the landscape of the NBA but alas we shall ever know.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Finding Happiness in the Midst of the Sadness

The world has changed quite a bit since the last time I blogged here. I’m not going to go into the particulars of the election but needless to say I was a bit crushed by the end result. I gave myself a day to just be filled with sadness. Not at the election of racist, sexist and xenophopic marshmallow peep of a man, but more so at myself for believing that it wouldn’t happen. I allowed myself to feel like this country cared about people like me. Well message received.  Needless to say this kind of feeling does not leave one with the warm and fuzzies on the inside so I have begun to focus more on the things and people that bring joy to my world, because I’ll be damned if a walking cheeto is going to deprive the world of this glorious damn smile.

5. Basketball.
I was going to say Chicago Bulls basketball, then UNC basketball but as I write this currently I am watching a replay of Idaho vs Northern Illinois and have to come to grips with the fact that if basketball is on, there is a 89.75% chance that I am going to stop what I am doing to watch it.
Where the obsession began.
I can remember playing on a Fisher Price hoop at a quite young age against my older sister who had a ridiculous crush on Isaiah Thomas and just watching the game brings me back to that moment when I realized that no matter what basketball was going to be a love of mine for all time. 

4. Professional Wrestling
I’ve written numerous times about the love I have for professional wrestling. Believe it or not the Puma was not a very confident child, pretending to be Ric Flair, Sting and Ron Simmons made walking around the playground during recess a lot less intimidating. Not to mention some of my earliest memories is watching wrestling with my grandparents particularly with my grandmother as her favorite Dusty Rhodes battled with Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen. And with any mention of Dusty Rhodes you know I am going to show the greatest promo of all times…HARD TIMES.

3. Podcasts
I am a voracious listener of podcasts. Whether I’m cutting my lawn or cooking a meal for the Lady Puma I can no do these simple tasks in silence.  Listening to shows like TheBlack Guy Who Tips, Three Guys On, Jenkins and Jonez and of course the BodegaBoys has brought me an immense amount of joy. They are able to use humor while also striking a serious tone when need be. If you are looking for a welcome escape I definitely suggest giving any of these a listen. 

2. The Joy of Black People
I know a lot of people will say that things like the #UNameItChallenge or the Mannequin challenge or watching a tv show are a distraction from real world issues. I for one do not subscribe to said line of thinking. The world is  full of enough depressing things, I think it's healthy to sometimes just say screw it and have some fun. I promise you all those depressing things will still be there. when you're done having fun.

And I'm sure you're all wondering what is the number one thing that has kept me sane...

1. My wife and my upgrade.
Yes surprise, surprise. My truly better half has been the consistent bright spot in these troubling times. And the fact that she is carrying the Chocolate Cub has also filled a brother's heart with joy. No matter how much of a dumpster fire the world can be I think about that kid coming in the spring and I smile. Just a little bit of a spoiler alert people, if you think I am amazing (which you undoubtedly do), prepare to have your world rocked because my upgrade is going to blow your mind all over your face. So go ahead and get your affairs in order because this kid is about to DOMINATE.

Well folks that's all I got. I'll leave you with this, please don't forget to laugh in these times. Until next time be more like me because...

Saturday, October 8, 2016

No Mercy Preview

Time for my first preview and predictions of a SmackDown exclusive pay per view. The blue brand has been a little more consistent in terms of storytelling and having some better feuds so far but it has not been without a few hiccups but I'll get into that soon enough my sweet sweet treasures.

Jack Swagger vs Baron Corbin
Sigh...I guess we're gonna continue this feud huh? When I saw Swagger was coming to SmackDown I thought good for him. Then I saw him paired against Baron Corbin and thought huh? Now after 3 weeks of this back and forth my feelings are as followed:

Winner: Baron Corbin (I guess) 

Curt Hawkins vs TBD
I'm actually a fan of Curt Hawkins but this new Chuck Norris-esque gimmick is quite confusing. If he comes out spouting crazy facts but is actually delusional and keeps getting squashed it could be funny. I do think he is too good of a wrestler for that to happen but hey who knows. Frankly I think he could be used as a great addition to the tag team division. I'm sure Joey Mercury can team up with him and still take a bump.

Nikki Bella vs Carmella
That can't be good for the neck.

 So this has not been a bad feud to get Nikki Bella back into the swing of things. Pitting her against Carmella makes story line sense the way it was presented and has turned her into baby face simply by being on the ass end of a few ass kickings. That said, it's been so one sided that I imagine Nikki will go over here and thus begin her inevitable heel turn against Becky Lynch which is essentially a rite of passage for all women wrestlers these days. 
Winner: Nikki Bella

Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt
A match that on paper should be great. But the build up to this one...woof. Rambling promos from Bray, boring nonsense from Randy, weird ass back stage vignettes, wake me up when this feud is over. And that really is a shame. Randy is one of the best wrestlers of his era and Bray has a charisma and moveset that can't be matched. Given that he's lost his last few pay per views I'll guess Bray Wyatt is going to pick up the win but who the hell knows how they will play this one.
Winner: Bray Wyatt

The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler (Intercontinental Championship or Ziggler's Career)
Thankfully this is not the scheduled match for Sunday.
 This has been surprisingly entertaining. Dolph Ziggler as the plucky under dog is a role he can play very well given his ability to make anyone look great in the ring. As for the Miz...who could have predicted that I would be excited to see the Miz on tv ever really. And the ether he dropped on Daniel Bryan a few months back? My Lord. He has been the top heel on SmackDown. This may shock some people but I'm guessing the Miz's reign continues and Dolph returns in a few months repackaged with a new gimmick.
Winner: The Miz 

Heath Slater and Rhyno vs The Usos (tag Team Championship)
You guys deserve all the cheese and crackers.
First off let me say I am extremely shocked that I am saying this but I am loving Heath Slater and Rhyno. They play off each other so well and I think it's amazing that Heath Slater after getting squashed for years is finally getting his shine. That said the evil Usos are just too damn hot to not get the title on them and it pains me to say this but having American Alpha chase them for the title is a much more compelling story line. 
Winner: The Usos

Alexa Bliss vs Becky Lynch (SmackDown Women's Championship)
Now this is going to be an entertaining match. From a technical stand point few can hang with Becky Lynch. And I dare say she throws possibly the best t-bone suplex male or female in the WWE. 
Alexa Bliss in her new Harley Quinn inspired gimmick is close to moving to 3rd string bae behind Bayley (Sasha Banks will always be # 1) and has the perfect mannerisms of a disgusted heel. Because the title is so new and Alexa is still not quite there I think Becky wins and sets herself up for a heel turn from Nikki Bella.
Winner: Becky Lynch

John Cena vs Dean Ambrose vs AJ Styles

I have never been a fan of John Cena. In the ring the guy is dynamite, but his personality was just too cheesy and corny. Now he is being this kind of shitty guy while still being a face and it kind of works. Dean Ambrose has gone from being this super wacky guy to deliriously unhinged in the same mold as Brian Pillman which works for me as well.
Please break the skull mask from Japan out.
As for the face that runs the place AJ Styles...he has been maybe the best wrestler in the world since leaving TNA. I expect this to be the match of the night in all honesty.  I expect AJ Styles to keep the title as he is just too on fire currently and has never been more popular. 
Winner: AJ Styles 

Well there you have it wrestling fans, surely by the law of averages all of these can't be wrong.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Martin Luther King, Jr. Is Not A Racial Pokemon

I’m sure I’m not the first person who has noticed this, but whenever the topic of Black Lives Matter or more accurately whenever some black people protest (because Black Lives Matter is an organization, not all black people who protest or active in the community is a member of said organization but that’s another story) you inevitably will hear this talking point. “Martin Luther King Jr. would have…” This my friends drives me crazy for more than a few reasons that I will gladly list it for you. 

1. MLK ain't my daddy. 
One of my favorite podcasts is Negroes With A Podcast. In one of the episodes one of the hosts Vann Newkirk, a really dope writer from the Atlantic, made a great off the cuff remark that stuck with me. "MLK ain't my daddy." Why is it that he is thrown in to every black person's face when the topic of race is discussed? This is by no means any shade to Dr. King or his legacy but he was a man and it is possible to disagree with his opinion.

2. The masses didn't like MLK like they do now.
Today he is the universally beloved civil rights leader of yore. At the time he was reviled by opponents of equal rights and see as a trouble maker who was making too much noise. He was constantly under surveillance by the F.B.I. and in one particularly disturbing correspondence vaguely urged to kill himself. Seriously.

3. He protested "the right way." 

People like to talk about MLK and his acts of protest as if they were well received and well respected by those he was trying to reach. That could not be further from truth. All those claiming to want people to do it the right way bring up his marches and non violent ways yet constantly fail to bring up how he was physically attacked, spit on, and eventually assassinated.

4. Using one line from the "I Have A Dream" speech ignoring all of his other works.
Whenever racial strife or speaking of inequality you inevitable will be hit with a line from the "I Have A Dream Speech."
Not the only speech he ever gave.
 Undoubtedly that is one of the greatest speeches ever, but Dr. King said so much more. For people who question how someone can riot in their own neighborhood King once said: "It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard." The point is situations are nuanced, there isn't a single quote from King or anyone for that matter that can be used as a band aid on any situation.

Dr. King is a hero of mine, hell he should be a hero of all of ours but to trot him out only to try and shut people of color up is quite stupid. Read more than just the "I Have A Dream" speech and for God's sake listen when people are telling you their experiences.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Clash of Champions Preview 2016

As you all may have surmised, young Puma here is a massive fan of the professional wrestling. I could care less that people call it immature or will yell it’s fake. I. Don’t. Care. Now that we got that out the way, this Sunday there is a little pay-per-view this Sunday and I have decided to give you a little bit of my predictions. 

Kicking off Clash of Champions we have:
Alicia Fox vs. Nia Jax:
This is going to be a bloodbath. Nia Jax is going to beat Alicia Fox (who is woefully underrated). I mean I get it; you have to build up Nia Jax as a monster heel but how about feeding her more local talent. The women’s roster is a little thin so Foxy is going to have to be the one to take this beat-down.
Winner: Nia Jax

T.J. Perkins vs THE Brian Kendrick (Cruiserweight Championship):
TJ Perkins shocked everyone and won the inaugural Cruiserweight Classic and is thus our Champion of the division. Kendrick is the returning wily vet willing to do anything to keep his run alive. I would love to pick Kendrick as the dabbing Perkins while a very good wrestler just kind of annoys me but it’s too early to have a title change to a newly minted belt. So Perkins will win this. As a side-note, the true star of this division is going to be Cedric Alexander.
Holy crap is this guy good.
Winner: TJ Perkins

Cesaro vs Sheamus:
In the best of seven series where the winner gets a title shot we are currently tied at three wins each. In the ring Sheamus is always going to give you a solid match, his personality annoys the crap out of you but damn it I guess that's what a good heel does. Cesaro who should be a world champion has been accused of not having personality but no one can do the things the Swiss Superman does. If they are smart Cesaro comes out on top because a feud with him and either Kevin Owens or Rusev would be gold. 
Winner: Cesaro

Rusev vs Roman Reigns (United States Championship)
After his suspension for PEDs Reigns has been on a pretty good streak wrestling wise. While the story given to these two hasn't been as good as it should be, in ring (not counting the SummerSlam debacle) has been outstanding. I think the title stays on Rusev as Reigns will be feuding elsewhere in my opinion and doesn't need the United States title. I expect Reigns to win via disqualification. He doesn't take a clean pin and Rusev looks strong and protects the title.

Sami Zayn vs Chris Jericho:
They bear a striking resemblance...
Sami Zayn who appears to have a striking resemblance to former Ring of Honor wrestler El Generico is one of the most astonishing wrestlers on the roster. Seriously look up his match with Shinuske Nakamura from earlier this year or against Cesaro on NXT and you 'll see the hype. Heel Chris Jericho may be one of my favorite things on the face of the earth. This one low key could steal the show. I expect Zayn to win and beat Kevin Owens' best friend with a Helluva Kick.
Winner: Sami Zayn 

Charlotte vs Sasha Banks vs Bayley (Women's Championship)
This may be one of the best women's matches in modern history. It certainly has the potential to be. Charlotte is probably the second best heel on the entire roster, Sasha Banks is bae (sorry Kari) and  there may not be a better babyface and backup bae than Bayley.
Destined to do this forever.
If Zayn-Jericho doesn't steal the show then this one definitely will. All three are at the top of their game but I expect Charlotte to walk away with the title through shenanigans from Dana Brooke her enforcer in training (shout out to the crew at Wrasslecast, one of my favorite wrestling podcasts.) 
Winner: Charlotte

Gallows and Anderson vs The New Day (Tag Team Championship) 
I love Gallows and Anderson from their days in New Japan as part of the Bullet Club but I will admit that since coming to the WWE have lost quite a bit of steam. After an ill fated attempt at using comedy as a part of their act it appears they are going to be rebooted as a serious bad ass duo which works for them. The New Day are amazing, but they have held the title over a year and frankly they are so hot with the crowds they could afford to lose the title and it will allow them to chase some singles titles as a faction.  As a side-note seriously look up any podcast Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson are on, those two are HILARIOUS.
Winner: Gallows and Anderson

Seth Rollins vs Kevin Owens (Universal Championship)
As the great Keith Jackson would say....WHOA NELLY! Seth Rollins who is in the midst of becoming a great babyface and will probably face Triple H at Wrestlemania if things keep up the they currently are going against the best heel in the game and one of my favorites Kevin Owens.
What a dick.
These two will definitely put on a main event worthy match, my only concern is that Owens may get lost in the shuffle in this match as I expect Triple H to make an appearance and further the storyline with Seth Rollin. But with his power and athleticism I am choosing the Kevin Owens Show to be the victor with a pop up powerbomb and give us more moments of pure awesomeness.

Never change K.O.

Well there you go, my predictions which if my track record is any indication most will be wrong. Enjoy the show!