Friday, August 15, 2014

I. Am. Tired.

"The 18-year-old was the 'primary suspect' in the robbery of a convenience store moments before he was killed.”

Sigh. I’m tired.

In Ferguson, Missouri a predictable play is unfolding. A young black man is killed by the police and instead of figuring out what happened the slandering of the victim begins. He is painted as a thug. He is accused of crimes and labeled a suspect instead of a victim. He is now charged with defending himself from the grave. And God forbid he did anything wrong because in the eyes of many that justifies his death.

Honestly I just can’t even begin to put into words how this summer has made me feel. As a black man in this country I am tired of having to always justify my damn existence. I basically wrote this exact same piece in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin. Michael Brown was just walking in the street. That was his crime. And don’t bring up a “robbery.” The policeman that murdered him didn't stop him because he was a suspect. He stopped him because he was a black man and as a black man sometimes your mere existence is a crime. That’s the sad truth that is my daily experience. As a black man that is such a sobering, disappointing, and depressing portion of my reality that I can’t even explain. That’s not blaming anyone that’s just a statement of fact. I have been told I am paranoid yet every few days an unarmed black man is killed by the very people who are championed to serve and protect.

And please if you come to parrot some tired lines of “what about black on black crime?” please see the door. Yes most murders that occur in the black community are committed by black people but guess what...most white people are murdered by white people (84% if you need a number). I have yet to hear what about white on white crime as a way to distract from a travesty of justice such as this. What does black on black crime have to do with the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo etc.?

I’m just tired.

I’m tired of people, usually old white men, who know nothing of our communities being “kind” enough to alert me to what my problems are. People like Bill O’Reilly telling me how I should feel when a cop fucks with me for no reason other than being alive. This coming from a guy who went to a restaurant with mostly black clientele and was shocked people weren't yelling “where’s my sweet tea motherfucker!” Something tells me your understanding of the black experience may be lacking quite a bit.

I’m tired.

I am tired of hearing about how black fathers aren't there enough and that’s the answer to all the ills of the black community. Let me drop this on you:

But hey keep spitting the black fathers’ don’t care line; don’t let a thing like facts get in your way.

So basically if you come to me caring more about the officer who shot an unarmed kid in the back please fall back.  This country has taught us innocent until proven guilty…unless you’re a big scary black man. Then your fear trumps my right to even exist.

Holding the weight of that reality is tiring.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Don't give up...Don't ever give up.

For the past few years the time following the ESPY awards have been a rough time for me. Not because of months of just baseball that we all must go through but because of the constant replays of a speech from 1993. It was on a night in March of 1993 that the vibrant and charismatic coach of the NC State Wolfpack who had been fighting a very public battle with cancer stepped up, visibly weakened and given assistance to the podium and once he was in front of the microphone he appeared stronger as the lights shone on him and he gave the most inspiring speech I have ever heard in all my days. If you haven't heard it I suggest you give it a listen and prepared to be awed.

I was struck by this line this speech: "Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever." Hearing this reminds me of my sweet, funny, genuine aunt Priscilla who is no longer with us but she lived her life by this statement.  I have written many times about her so guess what I'll write about her again. I am reminded of her many times a day, and whenever I hear Jimmy V's speech I am struck by the similarities.

The last time I saw my aunt, visibly weakened, she saw the fear, anger and pain in my eyes at what cancer had done to my beautiful aunt and she smiled and she began cracking jokes at how I actually took a day off work to come see her. She used her humor to let me know that while she may not be around as long as I wanted her to be, she would always be with me. I said few words for fear of breaking down and crying like a child but I was able to tell her I loved her one last time, and as I turned to leave the room she said my name and as every interaction from the time I was a small child to that exact moment she said these words, "you know you my favorite right? Just don't tell the others, they might get jealous." She laughed and smiled and motioned me out the door.

That interaction with her, how she put my feelings over her own physical weakness, her own impending mortality and that was PJ. That was her mind, heart and soul checking more for my well being than the fear she had to be experiencing at that moment.

I write all this I suppose as a way to say I miss my aunt. Today more than other days. To all people battling this horrible disease stay strong. To those lost, strides are being made in your memory everyday.

This past week Stuart Scott had his "Jimmy V" moment. I'll end with his beautiful speech.

“When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.” 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

2014 Chocolate Puma Mock NBA Draft featuring Jesse Starr and Matt Ramsden

Few things make me happier than the NBA draft. Bacon, scotch, my lady (boom, romance bitches) in no particular order may be the only things on earth that make me happier. As a special welcome back I present to you the The Chocolate Puma 2014 Mock NBA Draft with special guest appearances from Matt Ramsden and Jesse Starr. Below is the results of that mock draft.

Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to the 2014 Chocolate Puma Mock NBA Draft. Jesse, you sir are on the clock.

Jesse: The 1st pick in the draft.  It's a day that I've always dreamed of.  Tough spot for the Cavs here, but really, lets not show them any sympathy.  They have to go for the almost sure thing here.
Andrew Wiggins - Kansas
Brian Thompson, you are on the clock with the second pick.  God Bless Mallory Edens and the Milwaukee Bucks

Puma: Wow, way to pick outside the box there Starr, with the second pick I will take:
Jabari Parker- Duke
Matt: With the 3rd pick, we choose a big man with back and foot issues. 

Joel Embiiiiiiiiiiid

Jesse: Gosh guys, no surprises so far.  Any chance Noel and Embiid play together ever?
Orlando Magic on the clock, another team that isn't in the playoff conversation yet, and need to keep drafting the best player available.
Dante Exum - Australia
An Oladipo/Exum backcourt just sounds fun.  Also, props to their GM Rob Hennigan, who is also around our same age, but get to draft for real.
Back to you Brian.  5 pick - Utah Jazz
Brian:  The Utah Jazz select.........
Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
Matt:  Had this one queued up. 
Boston Celtics select: Aaron Gordon, University of Arizona. 
Top 6 in the draft is pretty easy. Think it gets more surprising after this, and then again moreso after the lottery.

Jesse: Los Angeles Lakers select, Julius Randle - Kentucky 

Brian: Because the Tyreke Evans experiment worked so well...The Sacramento Kings select: Marcus Smart- Oklahoma St.

Matt: Because I'm white I guess the Charlotte Hornets select Nik Stauskas at 9.

Jesse:  Michael Jordan loves white people. 76ers drafting here.  I'm making this pick knowing Matt will be wrong about their first pick selecting Embiid.
Dario Saric

Brian: Let the dominant reign of white guys continue. The Denver Nuggets select Doug "Dougie McBuckets" McDermott.

Matt:  By the way,  pretty pumped to have super competitive Smart yelling at Boogie a bunch now. He can be an extension of me on the court. 

With the 12th pick, in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Orlando magic select, Elfrid Payton

Jesse:  Hey David Kahn, how many point guards the magic need? Speaking of Kahn, T-wolves are up next.
Adrien Payne - MSU
Replaces the soon to be departed Kevin Love.

Brian: Well if you loved the Morris twins get ready for the older ACC equivalent:
TJ Warren- NC State
Matt:  With Oladipo, Exum, and Peyton they have exactly 1 pg for sure: Peyton
And now the Atlanta Hawks get to take my second favorite player in the draft, since they're always rumored to be looking to move Teague... The Hawks select Tyler Ennis

Jesse:  The Bulls!  Tough pick here, cause we don't know whether they will trade up, or use these picks for Love/Melo.
 I'm going with best player available, and I think this is a steal if he falls here.
Zach LeVine - UCLA

Brian: Not a bad pick there, although I think this pick is better. 
Keep your green and white buddy the Celtics select Gary Harris

Matt:  Yeah I can't believe Harris fell that far, Phoenix Suns select: James Young.

Jesse: I saw Gary Harris play this year, wasn't impressed.  (BThomp here is your chance to screen grab that and thrown in my face, Lillard style).
Bulls pick again!  This is great. 
Rodney Hood - Duke
I really kind of want Hood to be a Bull.
Brian:  Jesse chose Saric already, I'll change Toronto's pick to Jerami Grant from Syracuse.

Matt: Jarnell Stokes, he'll grab some of KD's misses.

Jesse: Memphis pick here at #22.  Marc Gasol is set for free agency next year.  My pick:
Jusuf Nurkic

Brian: The Michael Jordan slot gents, I am thinking there is a brother going out west:
PJ Hairston, SG
Matt: The actual Michael Jordan slot: Big man Walter Tavares.
I'm making this pick just so the Heat don't get him.  Jeremy Lin could be gone. 
Shabazz Napier- UConn
Sidenote: I really think Melo goes to the Rockets.  A lineup of Shabazz, Harden, Melo, Parsons, and Dwight is pretty scary.
Brian: I don't think LeBron goes anywhere actually. As for Miami they will be selecting the athletic wing....Glenn Robinson III- SF- Michigan

Matt: I'll take Florida boy Project Pat. Patric Young

Jesse: Kyle Anderson -UCLA to the clippers  

Brian: Russdiculous Russ Smith to the Thunder.

And looks like Matt forgot to make the final pick so I'll do it for him:
Final Pick
San Antonio: Mitch McGary.

There we have it folks. The insane ramblings of three basketball addicts who dream of mock drafts and NBA combine footage. Let's see how poorly we do shall we?

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Chocolate Puma Awards: NBA Edition

Holy hell, I love the NBA and what a season that has just passed us by. I know you have all been clamoring and begging for the Chocolate Puma to give you his opinion and awards out to those deserving players. Well ask no more, for I am here to present…THE SIXTH ANNUAL CHOCOLATE PUMA AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN THE FIELD OF EXCELLENCE.

Rookie of the Year: Michael Carter Williams, PG, Philadelphia
"I shut that cocky as blogger up eh?"
Carter-Williams was only bright spot in the city of brotherly love this year. I’ll admit I thought he would not be that good of a player. I looked at my notes on him (yes I take notes on players for a blog very few people read, don’t judge me) and one of the few positive things I had to say was “he looks like a member of an early 90s r&b group.” I was wrong.

Coach of the Year: Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix Suns

I had to google to find out who was the coach of this team. I really just referred to him as that guy who is coaching the hell out of the Phoenix Suns, a team that no one expected do much of anything and many thought would be sorry for Jabari this season. 50 wins and barely out the playoffs, going forward this team is on that should rise.

Sixth Man of the Year: Taj Gibson, PF, Chicago Bulls
Never gets old.
Ahhhhhhhh shit! You knew I was going to pick a few Bulls for my awards and this honor is well deserved. This is a man who would be starting if not for the bloated contract of Carlos Boozer. A versatile defender and explosive finisher at the basket is the top man on the Bulls second unit.

Most Valuable Player: Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City

Based Curse aside, Durant has finally from wire to wire been the most valuable player to his team. Always a dangerous scorer, this season he has taken his game to a new dimension with a new fervor for playing defense. That said though, turning down a nickname like the Slim Reaper for The Servant is just clown shoes buddy. Also this choice gives me another place to post this:

All Chocolate Puma Team:

PG- Chris Paul

The best in the business at the point guard position.

SG- James Harden

He has quietly become the undisputed best shooting guard in the league.

SF- Kevin Durant

IF you’re MVP you got a spot on the All Puma team.

PF- Lebron James

I’ll never not have Lebron included on any active basketball related list.

If I could go back in time and tell a younger Puma who was not that pleased at the drafting of Jo Noah I would. Hey buddy this guy gets so awesome…relax.

Well there we have it. Expect a preview of the playoffs in the next few days.

NFL Draft Extravaganza

Before I begin my annual draft extravaganza allow me to get up on my soapbox for a second. You hear about this every draft and it always angers me. “The anonymous NFL executive” is a phrase you always hear and it never is attached to anything good. Recently comments about Jadaveon Clowney rubbed me the wrong way. “He's spoiled, and he's lazy. He's never worked hard a day in his life, now all of a sudden you're going to give him a bunch of money and expect him to work hard. I don't see it.'' The fact that this is going to affect the perception of Clowney is a crime. If you’re man enough to attempt to cost this kid money, because if he slides in the draft due to this it will cost him money then at the very least be man enough to put your name behind it. Something tells me that had he had an opportunity to say this to his face the words would be magically different.

Alright, now I have a confession to make to my loyal readers and people who googled Chocolate Puma looking for the Belgian house duo, I am what you would call a bit of a nerd. And one of my many nerdy moments include my intense happiness with draft times when it comes to the NBA and NFL. I spend hours watching videos on Youtube and ESPN specials and attempt to play GM. So without further ado, I present to you the top 10 picks of the 2014 NFL Draft lottery.

1. Houston: Jadaveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

An honest assment from noted talent evaluator The Chocolate Puma: "He's a cyborg from the future genetically engineered to play football." 

2. St. Louis: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
If you're going to stay with Sam Bradford you gotta keep him healthy. Best way to do that is to pick the best offensive tackle to keep him upright. 

3. Jacksonville: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Do I think Johnny Football is going to be the best quarterback in this draft? Not at all. Is he better than what Jacksonville has? Absolutely. Not only that he infuses some much needed personality into a team that franky has none. 

4. Cleveland: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The most pro ready quarterback in the draft. Remarkably accurate, intelligent, and really the safest pick in the draft for a team desperate for a quarterback.

5. Oakland: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The most exciting player in this draft by far. Watkins is a game changer in every since of the word from returns to receiving the ball. While not the most polished receiver he is the most dangerous.

6. Atlanta: Jake Matthews, OT. Texas A&M
You've committed to Matt Ryan, keep him healthy with this rock solid player who can be a corner stone on the line.

7. Tampa Bay: Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo
Lovie Smith gets the cornerstone of his new defense. Dynamic defensive player who definitely imposes his will on the game.

8. Minnesota: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

Vikings need a quarterback and the best on the board is Bortles. New coach has a blank slate and could possibly

9. Buffalo: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

My favorite receiver in the draft. Evans is a monster both catching and blocking. Team him with CJ Spiller and an improving EJ Manuel and this could be the start of something special.

10. Detroit: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.

In a division with Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler you need a good corner. Gilbert is the best of a very talented bunch.

Well folks there you go, the over under on how many of these I actually get right is currently set at 2. Let's see how I do.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Chocolate Puma Awards for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence: College Basketball Edition!

This is one of the most wonderful times of the year for the Puma of Chocolate descent. The NBA is gearing up for its stretch run, I just completed my fantasy baseball draft (FYI I crushed it), the NFL draft is coming and of course the NCAA tournament is about to begin. That glorious moment when I dust off my analyst hat and say things like Damian Lillard is good but he’ll be a bust in the NBA or I get a real good feeling about the Thomas Robinson.
Boy I'm bright.
With all that said I present to you the Chocolate Puma Awards for outstanding achievement in the field of excellence: College Basketball Edition!

Coach of the Year: Greg Marshall, Wichita St. 
Miss me with all the talks of their soft schedule, they “shocked” the world (I am so sorry for that pun) with their Final Four run a season ago and have followed it up with a perfect run through this season. Given that larger programs appeared to be a little scared to add them to their non-conference schedule (Looking at you Kansas) I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Freshman of the Year: Jabari Parker, F, Duke

Jabari Parker is so good that he made me overcome my hatred of Duke just to watch him play and he singlehandedly was the reason my beloved Tarheels could not sweep the season series against Duke. The most polished and pro ready player in this highly regarded freshman class there really was no other choice for me. No disrespect to Wiggins, Randle, Gordon etc.

For No Reason at All: Dean Smith
I have been a fan of the North Carolina Tar Heels for as long as I have been able to obsess over the sport. The man who led the team for an obscene amount of time was the greatest (my opinion) coach not named John Wooden ever and that was Dean Smith. Recently I read an article about his battle with dementia and if you have a few moments and a few tissues handy I would high suggest giving this a read regardless of your collegiate allegiances.

Most Overblown Moment: Marcus Smart’s altercation with a fan
"I'll never have to answer for my actions!"
If you expect me to tell a young man that he has to accept verbal abuse from a grown man old enough to be his grandfather you came to the wrong person. You expect these guys to be treated like amateurs but they have to respond as if they are professionals? That dog won’t hunt. In the words of Chris Rock: “I’m not saying he should have did it, but I understand.”

Funniest Moment of the year: Jim Boeheim’s Freak Out

Just look at the video and tell me that’s not the funniest thing you have seen all day.

All Chocolate Puma Squad:

PG- Marcus Paige, UNC

G- Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati

SG- Russ Smith, Louisville

SF- Jabari Parker, Duke

F- Doug McDermott, Creighton

And now for the most important award of the night, I present to you the Most Valuable Player of the 2013-14 season and the person that will hole the Beyonce trophy for the next year.

Doug McDermott, F, Creighton:

Holy hell what a season by Doug…we really gotta give him a nickname, regardless of what you call him no player was more unstoppable this season that McDermott. The ability to score from the post, hit the three, and that step back fade away is damn near un-guardable. I could see this guy being an American Dirk Nowitzki or worst case scenario an elite sharpshooter like his Creighton brethren Kyle Korver.

There you have it folks. Another season in the books and soon to be another bracket I have to explain with the phrase "what had happened was." You all take it easy.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Unbelievable Blackness (Apparently)

You know I have been around for 30 years on earth and I have done a lot of things I never thought I would. I never thought my dream of playing in the NBA would go unfulfilled. I never thought Tatiana Ali from the Fresh Prince would not be my wife by this point (it’s cool, Kari is better). And today, March 13th, 2014 I am about to do something else I never thought would happen…I am about to defend the movie “Annie.”
Yes, Annie the film about a precocious orphan which is being re imagined starring Oscar nominated actress Quvenzhané Wallis. And guess what people are pissed the hell off about it. Why is that you ask? Well because Annie is supposed to be a little white girl with red hair. Sigh.

Here we go again. And little Ms. Wallis is not the only one who has to deal with this idiocy. Recently “fans” were in an uproar over Michael B. Jordan, the amazing actor being cast as the Human Torch in the latest version of the Fantastic Four. Yes because in the story featuring a man who can become a literal human torch the most illogical part is that it's a black guy in the role. You can play the hell out of roles like Wallace from The Wire, Oscar Grant in  Fruitvale Station or the complicated Vince Howard in Friday Night Lights but if you dare play the Human Torch then we riot!

I notice that this only happens when a black actor takes over a role that is historically played by a white actor. So for your viewing pleasure I have decided to flip the coin a bit.

Angelina Jolie as Marianne Pearl:
Like twins.
Why is this ridiculous? Well no reason other than Pearl was Dutch and Cuban not a white lady from Los Angeles. Where was that outrage?

John Wayne as Genghis Khan: 
Look it's the founding father of Mongolia!

Liz Taylor as Cleopatra: Yup.
Moving on.
Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez:
Affleck kicked ass in this role but it doesn't change the fact that he clearly is not a Hispanic man. 

Now why are all these roles more egregious than the other examples of Hollywood whitewashing roles? Because these are all based on REAL PEOPLE! Hollywood had no problem casting a white person in the role of a person of color but flip the script and make a FICTIONAL character black then we have madness. MADNESS I SAY!

So in summation, if you are one of the people talking angrily about whether a critically acclaimed actor can play the highly difficult role of a guy becoming a human torch or an Academy Award nominated actress can handle playing Annie please turn around and walk away from me.

Unless you’re Beyonce. Then you can come on home.
Hey boo.