Thursday, February 19, 2015

Trade Deadline Extravaganza!

The NBA trade deadline is like Christmas for this guy, I didn’t truly expect anything to catch me off guard. Boy was I wrong. Every time I underestimate this sport I love it hits me with amazing surprises. With that said allow me to dive right into my astute analysis of the so far confirmed deals.
-The Portland Trail Blazers received Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee from the Denver Nuggets for Will Barton, Victor Claver, Thomas Robinson, a second-round pick and a 2016 lottery-protected first-round pick.
Puma’s Opinion: I think this has the potential to work out very well for the Nuggets based solely on Thomas Robinson’s potential, which I still think he can be a productive player. Might not be the star everyone thought he’d be coming out of Kansas but he is young enough to rebound. The 2016 first round pick is just icing on the cake.
-The Philadelphia 76ers received JaVale McGee and a first-round pick from the Nuggets for an overseas prospect.

Puma’s Opinion: This just makes the 76ers the most entertaining team in the league for teaming JaVale McGee with Joel Embiid.
-The Sacramento Kings received Andre Miller from the Washington Wizards for Ramon Sessions.
Puma’s Opinion: A team desperately seeking leadership gets one in Miller while John Wall finally gets a suitable backup for the time being. This is a win for both teams in my eyes.
-The Minnesota Timberwolves received Kevin Garnett from the Brooklyn Nets for Thaddeus Young.
I'm delightful.
 Puma’s Opinion: The Nets get a steal with Thaddeus Young and Minnesota gets a legacy guy to bring a few extra fans in and teach the younger guys how to win and play in big time games.
-The Miami Heat received Goran Dragic and Zoran Dragic from the Phoenix Suns for Danny Granger, Norris Cole, Justin Hamilton, Shawne Williams and two first-round picks.
Never forget.
 Puma’s Opinion: Pat Riley is the devil. He gets Wade a suitable running mate and unloads the carcass of Danny Granger and the increasingly unpopular Norris Cole.
-Three-team deal: The Milwaukee Bucks received Michael Carter-Williams, Miles Plumlee and Tyler Ennis; the Sixers received a 2015 top-five protected first-round pick (from Phoenix, via Los Angeles Lakers); and the Suns received Brandon Knight.
Puma’s Opinion: Milwaukee continues it’s upwards ascent, the Suns inexplicably continue to stock pile point guards and the Sixers continue to go forward with their goal of having 16 picks in next year’s draft.
-Three-team deal: The Detroit Pistons received Reggie Jackson; the Oklahoma City Thunder received Enes Kanter, Steve Novak, Kyle Singler and D.J. Augustin; and the Utah Jazz received Kendrick Perkins, a first-round pick, a second-round pick and the rights to an overseas player.
Puma’s Opinion: OKC improves their bench with 4 very solid players, The Jazz got a guy who can go buy booze for Trey Burke I guess and the Pistons have a guy who can put up big numbers on a losing team.
-The Boson Celtics received Isaiah Thomas from the Suns for Marcus Thornton and a 2016 top-10 protected first-round pick (via Cleveland)
Puma’s Opinion: Both teams improve themselves. Isaiah Thomas will provide a spark off the bench behind Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart while Marcus Thornton joins the new look backcourt in Phoenix with Eric Bledsoe.
-The Pistons received Tayshaun Prince from the Celtics for Gigi Datome and Jonas Jerebko.
Puma’s Opinion: Another legacy trade, Prince is at the end of his career and gets rewarded with a trip back to the team where he made his name.
-The New Orleans Pelicans received Norris Cole from the Heat for John Salmons.

Puma’s Opinion: And Riley gets rid of one unlikeable guy for a solid bench guy. Definitely a win for the Heat.

Well it’s been a busy day but I promise I will be releasing my first half awards for the Eastern and Western conference.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Random Ramblings: Edition 3,269

Man it has been a rough, depressing, heart cringing time in the world recently so I will make this mostly light with just some ramblings. I promise only one or two things that may make my blood boil.

 Alright I am gonna weigh in on the Bill Cosby allegations. In the words of Dave Chappelle on Robert Blake, oh yeah, Bill Cosby did that shit. No two ways around this one. Ol’ Uncle Pudding Pop been drugging and raping women. This isn’t some massive conspiracy by the man to bring him down, its roosters coming home to roost. If this is a conspiracy it’s the worst one in the history of conspiracies. Let me get this straight, instead of bringing him down either at the height of his career or on the upswing you wait until basically he is not relevant in today’s society, past statute of limitations, and he keeps all the wealth he has amassed?
Would you take a drink from this guy?
Also come on, all these women coming forward and you mean to tell me not one is telling the truth? Word? Ok. I’ll leave you to your pudding pops and Kodak film.

Recently Derrick Rose wore an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt in support of the protests due to the non-indictment in the death of Eric Garner. 

After this many sportswriters have criticized and all but said he should shut up as he is not as well versed on the subject as they are. First of all, Rose grew up in Englewood. If anybody can tell you about violence it’s this guy. Also I’d like to add shut the hell up. Rose donates his own time and money to the youth of Chicago and a quick google search could have saved you the trouble of looking like an ass clown.

If you have not been paying attention the media blitz Chris Rock has been unleashing upon us please play catch up because this man is spitting so much hot fire right now.

Sportswriter Bryan Burwell passed away this past week. He was a legendary figure in the world of journalism and along with Ralph Wiley and Mike Wilbon, he was among the first black guys I saw actually covering the game instead of just playing the game. 

I’ll miss his always rational points on Sports Reporters. Rest in peace sir.

So Diddy slapped Drake in a night club huh? Not to be an old guy but rap beefs were better back in my day.

Run The Jewels. Download it. You won’t regret it. And it includes my close personal friend Killer Mike (Hey he tweeted me and I took a picture with him, that counts.)

Well I think I have rambled on enough for one day. Count down the days until I finally write my post on wrestling that the people have been clamoring for. PEACE!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

An American Tradition Unlike Any Other

In times like this I am reminded of an old Chris Rock Joke. Rock once said “If you're black, you got to look at America a little bit different. You got to look at America like the uncle who paid for you to go to college, but who molested you.” Days like today and last week that point is only magnified in my eyes. It seems that day after day you hear the tale of someone who was not lucky enough to survive a run in with police. It makes me sit back and reflect on all the times that I have had a run in and how I could have been that person who was being slandered in the press and reasons for my death justified. 

After the decision in Ferguson I was told by many, "you're not a lawyer, he was guilty." These people totally missed the point. I didn't know Mike Brown. What I did know was that he was an unarmed man who at worst stole a packet of cigarillos. Which means yes, he should have been arrested. But not executed in the street and left in the hot sun for hours like an animal, seemingly sending a message to a community that this is what happens when you defy us. I'm not here to argue innocence or guilt, what people wanted was a trial. That's all. Because the witnesses weren't the only people with inconsistent accounts that alone should be enough to warrant a trial. And if you focus on riots please miss me with that talk. Not condoning the actions but if one is going to riot, an unarmed kid is shot and left in the street is something to riot over, not running out of pumpkins.

"But Brian, if you just followed the law then none of this would happen!" Really? What about John Crawford III who was just holding a toy gun in an open carry state yet he was gunned down. Or what about Akai Gurley who commited the egregious crime of walking down the stairs. Or what about 12 year old Tamir Rice who was shot for having an airsoft gun 2 seconds after arriving on the scene? I've read more about his personal life as a victim than the cop who gunned him down. I even read that the video had a "suicide by cop" feel to it. A 12 year old. He's the one on trial. Not the person who shot him and then lied immediately about the circumstances surrounded the incident. 

I'm told all the time about the scourge of black on black crime despite the fact that talking point is bullshit. I'm told pull your pants up and show some respect for yourself and your community. I've done all these all these things and more. That hasn't saved me from police harassment. In my time in Chicago I've had guns pulled on me numerous times. Who did it? Was it those black people who hate smart black people like Charles Barkley said? Nah. It was the police. Well clearly I must have been doing something you may ask. Well here's what I was doing each time in order, walking from a party, walking from school, walking from the gym, and going on a run. Suspicious shit I know. And something tells me that if you ask a black person you know (because black women are just as victimized if not more) they can tell you similar stories. In fact our story is not uncommon.

So yes, I will get emotional about topics such as this injustice. I don't need condescending comments about how I need to hear both sides, and what I as a black person can do to make sure this doesn't happen to me. How about we have a discussion on how we can stop this kind of thing. It doesn't matter how rich you are, it has been deemed by the legal system that my presence and existence is threat enough.

As much as you people love to quote Martin Luther King, Jr at me when I bring all these points up, they seem to gloss over the fact that for as non violent as he was and how he was the embodiment of who you feel black people should be, he still got shot in the face for his efforts. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Reflections on the NBA Season 17 Games In

Boy it's been a while since I last blessed or tormented you depending on what you think of my delightful musings. Since my last post my favorite season has begun. No, not the Christmas holiday but the NBA season. Nothing makes me happier than watching endless hours of basketball and playing armchair general manager for well all of the teams. Here's my thoughts so far on this delightful season.

Most Pleasant Surprise: Jimmy Butler, SG, Chicago Bulls
Since coming into the league Jimmy G. Buckets has been a favorite of mine. But even with me being the eternal optimist when it comes to the Chicago Bulls, I have been downright shocked at the awesome play from Butler especially on the offensive side of the ball. Always an elite defender he has been getting to the free throw line a la Dwayne Wade from 2006 to 2009. The Bulls may regret not signing him to a long term deal before the season because he has shown the ability to be an alpha dog on a good to great team.

Most Overblown Story: Derrick Rose's playing time.
Again perhaps I am showing my Bulls optimistic bias but the very careful approach to every tweak of a hamstring or rolled ankle is alright with me. With the Bulls having invested so much it's best to take a conservative approach and ease him back into playing through injuries. As I write this the Bulls have just defeated the Nets, Rose took more than a few falls and yet kept getting back up. This team and it's star player appear to be rounding into shape.

Most Impressive Player:  Anthony Davis, PF, New Orleans
I remember when he came out of Kentucky I thought he would at best be a better Marcus Camby. Anthony Davis, sir. I was wrong. A dynamic force offensively, arguable the best defensive player and someone who makes even the hapless Pelicans look like a playoff team every night.

Best Coaching Performance: Steve Kerr, Golden State
Turns out you give one of the most dependable players of his era a team full of dependable guys and the best shooting backcourt in the league he can turn them into a team that doesn't make errors down the stretch and is currently the best team in the league. Also I'm sure they are in a much better mood after going through practices without hearing "hands down, man down" every five seconds like when Mark Jackson was the coach.

Player Most Needing to Apologize: Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City
Now your curse has struck more members of the Thunder. Do the right thing and apologize Durant.

Most Entertaining Player: DeMarcus Cousins, C, Sacramento
I have no idea why but the sight of Boogie Cousins on a basketball court fills me with so much happiness. He is a legit 25 point, 10 rebound guy every night but it's his extra curriculars that entertain me so much. From calling Chris Paul out for flopping to his stare down of international opponents in the FIBA World Cup he is a general delight.

Well folks that's all I got for now. It definitely won't be months before my next post. I guarantee it!

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?