Wednesday, February 27, 2013

5 Years of Outstanding Achievments in the Field of Excellence

What a day here for the Chocolate Puma and subsequently in the lives of everyone who reads this blog or those who are consistently pestered by me to read it. On this day five years ago out of sheer boredom and the need to spread my special brand of hating I began the Chocolate Puma’s Lair. One angry post at a hypocritical Natalie Cole later a tradition of ranting uncontrollably was born. I have hit on topics from sports to music to politics to even shamelessly proclaiming my love for certain products in the slight chance an employee of one those places decided to give me free products (holla at me Movado, anything from the Automatic collection would be great)
For instance, this Movado Red Label.
I suppose there are a few people I should thank although there is nowhere near enough room to properly thank everyone who influenced and helped me out with this blog. First of all my mom, for giving birth to me, and my sisters for being the source of many embarrassing photos and stories. In the same vein I also must thank my delightfully wacky nieces and dastardly handsome nephew.
Me teaching my nephew a lesson in humility
They are all the best parts of my sisters and I am proud of them all. I should probably thank the person responsible for the nickname “The Chocolate Puma.” During my time going to bars regularly I was meeting up with friends from high school and as I was the last one to arrive Kevin “Don’t call me Ernest Bernard” McInerney grabbed me and said “look at you slinking across the dance floor…like a…chocolate puma.” Thus the legend was born.

I have loved every moment of this blog too, and while I don’t really track how many people actually come through here; those who do are immensely appreciated. There have been many highs during this run, but there have also been a few lows. And through those lows writing on this blog has been downright therapeutic at times. So for followers of the Puma know that there are hopefully many more years ahead of me and as long as I am able to, The Chocolate Puma’s Lair will be here, giving you the unsolicited opinion of a man who is indeed a legend in his own mind.

Thank you.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Tradition Unlike Any Other. The Puma Hating.

I am what many people call a man of many tastes, a connoisseur of many different ways of thinking, but most notably I am what people would call a hater. Yes, the Chocolate Puma loves to hate on many things that brings much joy to the masses. Does this make me better than a lot of people? No. I mean I am better but for scores of other reasons. So if you were wondering what I am hating on now well you’re in luck because in convenient list form here they are!

· Lil’ Wayne: So last year he was upset because he couldn’t get into an NBA Finals game at Oklahoma City, claiming the Thunder were racist. He conveniently left out that he didn’t have a ticket. He was also upset that he couldn’t go to the locker room and speak to the Miami Heat. Now he is mad at his “beloved” Miami Heat because he was “kicked out” of a game and by kicked out I mean he left of his own free will after getting into an argument and making a gun gesture. So now it’s fuck the NBA and he claims he banged Chris Bosh’s wife. Here is someone who clearly needs a timeout because guess what buddy as a favor to you I am gonna let you in on a little secret…you’re a fan, after buying a ticket the only thing you’re entitled to is a game. Shut the fuck up and keep bandwagon hopping.
Again, anyone seen in this has lost the right to complain.
· Guy Fieri: He’s everything that’s wrong with life.
 · The Harlem Shake: Not the dance that was brought to the masses by Diddy and other rappers of the late 90s. No some spastic humping done by frat boys in speedos. If that’s your steez fine, but call it something else. Haven’t the people of Harlem been through enough already?

This is the Harlem Shake.

This is a hot ass mess.

· The current gun control debate: Now I am not talking about the idea of a debate on gun control, no I am talking about what is actually happening. One side yelling “ban it all” and the other side going “you’ll have to pry it from my cold dead hands.” Never once thinking hey, maybe if we sit down and talk it out instead of calling everyone who disagrees with me a barbaraian, pussy etc. then maybe something worthwhile can be done.

· Taylor Swift: See above, Fieri, Guy.
Forever alone.
· Dwight Howard: I get being injured and not able to play, but come on dawg. One minute you’re barely able to lift your arm the next minute you wanna play in the All-Star game? A meaningless exhibition? And not only did he play; he showed more effort than he does for the Lakers. Orlando may have dodged a bullet here.

· Lisa Lampanelli: I have always found her to be a bit much for my taste. What with all the gay slurs and talks of banging black guys. But this last week she sent a picture of her and Lena Dunham out with the caption: “Me with my nigga Lena Dunham.” And she doesn’t even get why it’s wrong. Her explanation: “The N-word ending in ‘er’ is far different context from the word ending in ‘a.’ Ask any person who knows the urban dictionary, it means ‘friend,’” she said. “And by the way, if I had put the word ending in ‘er,’ that would have been a very derogatory thing about Lena meaning she is less than me, and I view her as very above me. ‘A’ on the end means ‘my friend.’”
"It's ok! I banged some black dudes!"
Well thanks for clearing that up. I thought you were some confused white person who because you’ve had the very urban experience of sleeping with a lot of black guy was under the impression she could go around dropping n-bombs. Boy would my face had been red if that wasn’t the case. Whew!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

It's official, I'm an Angry Old Man But I'm Working on it

This week we have all been inundated with images of a young Michael Jordan, soaring through the air like it was a personal video playlist from the mind of the mind of well even present day Puma. But in the midst of this Jordan celebration we have talked of today’s players against Jordan and who is the true greatest player of all time. And in my eyes the conversation is a quick one. The greatest player is duh, Jordan. But upon this thought it hit me. I have become the old man in the barber shop.

Now when I say I have become the old man in the barber shop what I mean is, in any barber shop if you ask who the greatest football player of all time is, there is was, is and forever will be Jim Brown. No amount of stats, trends, titles etc. is going to change his mind. Michael Jordan is Jim Brown to me and many other fans of the game. I remember arguing until my voice was hoarse and promising that I would never become that old man. Well guess what? Here I am. So I think what I will do that Pops would never do is admit that the argument is not as black and white as I previously had intimated. So here is the Chocolate Puma’s opinion in no particular order on the players who I believe can stake a claim to being the best player of all time.

· Michael Jordan:
"Hey mad?"
Where do I begin? Should I start with the 5 NBA MVPs, the 10 Scoring titles, or the 14 All Star selections? Basically what makes Jordan the greatest player of all time is the absolute dominance of his era. Jordan was the first wing player to literally be able to score at will. Ask Larry Bird and the Celtics about that one.

· Bill Russell:
No DJ Khaled, all Bill Russell does is win.
This man is the gold standard of winners. Period. If your criteria is who helped his team win the most? We have a winner. This man was the greatest defensive player of ALL TIME. Of this I am certain. This is the only man to have ever tamed the unstoppable force that was Wilt Chamberlain. The man averaged over his career 15.1 points per game, along with 22.5 rebounds per game. And possibly even more impressive, he averaged 4.3 assists a night showing his true versatility.

· Kareem Abdul Jabaar:
No matter the name the result was the same.
 A tale of two names, as Lew Alcindor he was so good that rules were created just to slow him down. Like a no dunking rule was actually written into the rule book all because of him. As a pro he became Kareem and this guy destroyed the competition. He was the first player with the defensive skill of Russell and the offensive skills of Wilt. Not only was he insanely good, he was insanely durable. He went almost seamlessly from being the man on teams before Magic Johnson to being the defensive back bone of those LA teams after his arrival. Hell even in his 20th SEASON he averaged 10 points and 5 boards and he played more than 60 games every season of his career.

· Oscar Robertson:

The most criminally underrated player of all time in my opinion, there probably wasn’t a more complete player well ever. He is the only person who averaged a triple double over the course of a season which came in his second season. Hell as a rookie he came in 30.5 points per game (without the 3 point line), 10.1 rebounds per game, and 9.7 assists. In fact in his first five seasons he came with either a half rebound or a half assist from doing it again.

· Wilt Chamberlain:

Before Lebron was setting the world on his fire with talks of being genetically modified to ball, Chamberlain had the people wondering if he was human at all. As a 7-1 freshman at University of Kansas not only did he dominate his older opponents he annihilated them, in his first game he scored 42 points and pulled down 29 rebounds. Once he got the NBA he not only continued to excel, he took it to a new level offensively. He famously scored 100 points in one game, averaging over 30 pointers per game for 10 seasons straight and even averaged 50 over the course of an entire season. And during the course of his career his finished with per game averages 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds, and 4.4 assists. Those are the definition of video game numbers.

So while in my heart I will always feel Jordan is the greatest of all time I can now accept the arguments for other players and the eventual inclusion of guys such as Lebron, Kobe and whomever the next generation produces.

Unless it’s about Brian Scalabrine is in the convo. We all know he’s the G.O.A.T.
This message paid for by the White Mamba, your copyright laws mean nothing to him.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Western Conference Breakdown

Last time on…The Chocolate Puma’s Lair:

Now allow me to wax poetically about the Western Conference.

15. New Orleans: 16-33
It's been a long year for this young man.
The Anthony Davis pick has been an outstanding one. He has played every bit as well as he was projected to. Austin Rivers on the other hand has not quite turned out as well. He appears to struggle with the speed of the game and the dead eye shooter from Duke has turned into an inefficient 30% shooter from the 3 point line and 54% from the free throw line. Maybe they can try and get Seth Curry as they’ll be in the lottery again.

14. Sacramento: 17-33
This team begins and ends with the mercurial creature known as Boogie Cousins. On one hand he is one of the best young bigs in the game averaging consistently a double-double. While on the other hand, Boogie like Hooch is completely insane.  Jimmer Freddette, much to the surprise of no one has turned out to be a bust, while Isaiah Thomas has been a steal. Here’s hoping there impending move to the Emerald City will help this mercurial team because the talent is most definitely there.

13. Phoenix: 17-33
This is a team without an identity. No Steve Nash therefore no one has any idea what’s going on here at all. There are some solid pieces in Marcin Gortat and Goran Dragic. Outside of that I don’t see them competing for quite a while unless the strike it rich in the lottery.

12. Minnesota: 18-28
Andre Kirilenko clearly has been mentoring Sheved.
Ricky Rubio is still working himself back into playing shape. Kevin Love is out but when healthy he is the best power forward in the game. Alexy Shved has been outstanding however out of nowhere averaging over 10 points per night. If completely healthy all year this team definitely could have made a run for a playoff seed in the 6-8 range.

11. Dallas: 21-28
“Hello darkness my old friend…I’ve come to talk with you again.” With an aging Dirk and no one outside of OJ Mayo and Darren Collison consistently contributing there are dark times ahead for Mark Cuban’s crew.

10. LA Lakers: 23-26
Oh boy. The Dwight Howard experiment was supposed to be the Lakers opening salvo against the young guns in the NBA. Steve Nash was going to be the long needed upgrade over Derek Fisher and Steve Blake while Pau Gasol was going to get over his perceived disrespect that the Lakers tried to trade him to seemingly anyone. What happened was they jumped the gun and fired their coach early, brought in a coach that historically has never tweaked his system to the personnel he has, and a disgruntled Mamba as he watches his former whipping boys across the hall become the real show in Los Angeles.

9. Portland: 25-24
A team I definitely expect to be in the playoffs. Lamarcus Aldridge is a borderline elite low post player that will get you in the area of 20 points and 10 rebounds a night. Nicholas Batum and Wesley Matthews are solid pieces that any team would want. But the coup de grace for this squad is the future elite point guard in Damian Lillard. He has come out the gate and proven himself to be possibly the most NBA ready rookie in this class. A young team and a historically good front office has me very excited for their future. 

8. Houston: 27-24
This is another young team that is going to be a fun squad to watch in the coming years. They made a big splash in free agency overpaying for Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin but then boom added James Harden via trade and then have an inspired draft with guys like Terrence Jones, Royce White (jury is still out) and Greg Smith. A little experience and Kevin McHale is going to have an awesome team that could be a contender.

7. Utah: 28-22
This is a team that has most definitely over-achieved. That said though the big men on this roster are young and they are going to be good. We all know about Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap but the next crop of guys in Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are very productive when given the opportunity. Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks are two solid guards but their starting point guard situation leaves much to be desired. I expect this team to fall out of playoff contention.

6. Golden State: 30-19
All you need to know about Mark Jackson
 Not counting the curious case that is Andris Biedrins, the Warriors have exceeded all expectations so far with solid guard play and some hardnosed fouls (seriously ask the Houston Rockets about that.) They drafted well the past two years as Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green are all contributors.  This team has also shown the great coaching job by Mark Jackson. 

5. Memphis: 30-18
I expect this team to make the playoffs but they will definitely drop to the 7th seed range as it appears they are in straight cash dump mode. That said Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, and Mike Conley are just too good to let this team fall out of the playoff picture completely. Also the recent acquisition of veteran Tayshaun Prince will definitely be a calming factor. Austin Daye is going to be a wild card as to whether he can live up to his pre-draft hype. 

4. Denver: 31-18
George Karl to me is arguably the best coach in the game. The guy just gets it. And no matter who you give him he turns them into a playoff team every year. I am almost convinced if took over the Chinese gymnastics team he could coach them into at least a 6 seed. He has taken perennial goofball Javale McGee and turned him into a solid contributor, Ty Lawson is arguably the fastest player in the league and playing under control and Danillo Galinari hits a circus shot every time he takes the court it seems. Expect a run into the second round at the very least.

3. LA Clippers: 35-16
The league’s most exciting team has taken a stumble in recent weeks due to injuries to Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford and Chris Paul but still are within shouting distance of the number one seed. With their injuries it is given some air time to some pretty good young players such as Eric Bledsoe and Deandre Jordan. If this team doesn’t listen to Vinny Del Negro they could go far. 

2.  Oklahoma City: 37-12
Kevin Durant is great. The only person who can stop Russell Westbrook is Russell Westbrook and this team coached by Scott Brooks is very, very good. They were able to overcome losing Harden and seemingly haven’t missed a beat. It will be interesting how rookie Perry Jones III will be utilized in the second half as he could be a swiss army knife style player being used wherever needed. 

1. San Antonio: 39-11
If George Karl isn’t the best coach in the league then Greg Popovich definitely is. He takes his consistently too old squad every season into the playoffs as a 1 or 2 seed and still gets doubts. Hell he even sent his best players home against the Miami Heat and brought out a team led by Stephen Jackson and Gary Neal and still managed to push them to almost beating the defending champs. Tim Duncan is currently nursing an injury but after the all-star break I expect him and the rest of the geriatric gang to make a return trip to the conference finals.

Individual Awards
MVP: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City- 29.3 points per game, 4.4 assists 7.5 rebounds per game.

Coach of the Year:  Mark Jackson, Golden State

Rookie of the Year: Damian Lillard, Portland- 18.4 points per game, 6.5 assists per game, 3.3 rebounds

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Eastern Conference Breakdown

With the NBA more than half over this basketball fiend has gotten his fair share of surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant. For one it has been great seeing how the Bulls have played this year. Apparently no Derrick Rose and there have been no problems as they are currently in the 4th seed and only a half game back of the third seed. Equally delightful has been the complete and utter failure of the Dwight Howard experiment out west. But that’s for my Western Conference run down.

15. Charlotte: 11-36

This team is bad. I mean downright awful. The only real bright spot is that Michael Kidd Gilchrist appears to already be an elite wing defender and once his offensive game catches up he will be a perennial all star.

14. Washington: 12-35

Now this team is awful but they have interesting pieces. Bradley Beal is wildly inconsistent but when he is on he is on. John Wall now that he is back is a downright delight to watch. So fast and he has some great things ahead of him.

13. Cleveland: 14-34
Cheer up Kyrie, maybe Lebron will come back.

Kyrie Irving is a beast. I was wrong about this kid when he came out of Duke. I must have had my Blue Devil blockers on because wow is he amazing. Now after that they have a solid player in Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson but outside of that there is little hope for this franchise returning to the top without Lebron coming back.

12. Orlando: 14-34

You know it’s bad in Orlando when people are saying “wait till Jameer Nelson” gets back! They got talented rookies but again Jameer Nelson and Big Baby Davis are your signature players. Aaron Afflalo has played well but this team is 3-4 years away as presently constituted from making the playoffs.

11. Toronto: 17-31

Terrence Ross is the only person worth noting. Youtube him and write your local congress person petitioning him to be in the slam dunk contest.

10. Detroit: 18-31

Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe are going to be a downright terrifying front court in the future. A good core with Brandon Knight and Kyle Singler playing well this team however will remain mired in the 7-10 seed range.

9. Philadelphia: 21-26
Somebody is having buyer’s remorse. Andrew Bynum has yet to play, Nick Young is not a game changer and believe it or not they really miss the defense and leadership of Andre Iguodala. I’ll call them incomplete though until Bynum plays. Plus note that Jrue Holiday is for real kids.

8. Boston: 24-23

Man this team is falling apart. Not mentally, but physically. Rondo, Sullinger, Wilcox, among others are out for the season or out for extended periods. Jason Terry has been a bust of a free agent signing and Paul Pierce is just not the player he once was. Wave the white flags boys and try again next year.

7. Milwaukee: 25-22

This team just is what it is. Every year this is where you will find them. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are two of the most exciting players going but they unfortunately aren’t game changers in this juncture.

6. Atlanta: 26-21

Jeff Teague is going to be a really good point guard for a long time to come, Al Horford is a very solid player, borderline all star, and Josh Smith remains the most frustrating player in the game, so talented yet so frustrating jacking up 3’s with 22 seconds remaining on the shot clock. I don’t expect them to go much higher than the 5 seed for this season at least.

5. Brooklyn: 28-20

Seemingly screwed over by Dwight Howard they have gotten a great season out of Brook Lopez. Joe Johnson and Deron Williams however have been inconsistent and it cost Avery Johnson his job. Playing much better under PJ Carleismo it will be interesting to see if they keep it up.

4. Chicago: 29-19
I’m gonna preface this by saying I am an unabashed Bulls fan so my opinion is biased. That said, this team WILL finish in the second seed. Without D-Rose we have been our normal consistent defensive self. Noah has earned that all-star spot, Deng is massively underrated, but the most pleasant surprise has been the bouncy athleticism of Jimmy Butler. Am I the only one whose heart begins to race when thoughts of Rose throwing lobs to Jimmy Butler cross your mind?
3. Indiana: 30-19

This team has been oddly successful. Danny Granger has been shown to be expendable with the play of Paul George who is just downright insane. Roy Hibbert has been a very solid center and George Hill is showing why the Spurs spent a first round pick on him all those years ago.

2. New York: 31-15

Who would have ever thought we’d see the day the Knicks played defense again? Tyson Chandler has been his normal great defensive presence but the play of Carmelo Anthony on both ends of the floor has been a God send. Mike Woodson clearly is a soothsayer getting this same group that seemingly gave up 900 points a night under Mike D’Antoni.

1. Miami: 31-14
Never forget.
Well duh. Lebron is the most talented player in the game, while Chris Bosh remains massively underrated. Dwayne Wad e is not who he used to be and I think he is being exposed as a dirty player. They are devoid of post play as really they don’t have a center but anytime Lebron is lining up for you he can Mortal Kombat any team’s hopes of dethroning the champs.

Individual Awards

MVP: Lebron James, Miami Heat- 27 points per game, 8 rebounds, 7 assists per game.

Coach of the Year: Tom Thibadeau
"Ya'll bitches doubted me didn't you?"

Rookie of the Year: Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards- 13 points per game, 3 reb per game, 2.5 asts per game.