The Worst Ignorance to Have

We all have a fundamental aspect of our humanity that we ignore, I will call the ignorance of peace the prideful inertia of humankind. We all have a compass inside of us that tells us right from wrong. It is truly amazing how this vision of what is “good behavior” and what is “bad behavior” manifests– ever since we have been children. Children have the strongest connection to this feeling. We are taught to disown this fundamental force that drives us towards our own morality in order to focus on ethics that promote power, such as money.

The very society that humans are born into trains them to possess this prideful inertia. You are influenced to believe at a young age that without possessing this inertia, you will be stagnant to accomplish influence in the world. We all possess a prideful vitality of humankind, but it is located in a uniquely balanced mind that is aware of the inherent ignorance that lay unquestioned in the world. Throughout education, we are edged to trust what others believe is right from wrong. We learn rules that we should follow to be “good” students, children, friends, citizens. I cannot speak for you, but I do not know where these rules came from. These rules are ridden with dogma due to evolution.

I have thought about what the first power struggle in humanity has looked like. Every scenario I can think of to provoke any power struggle is rooted in prideful inertia. It is extremely easy coming to power through simply engaging in ignorance. It rids the driver,
 per se, of their emotions and inherent responsibility to humankind. In return for this exchange, there is a clear route to power over the other. In securing power over another, you gain power. However, we are taught to ignore this robbery. We never question: At what cost does our power come? There are feelings that govern how you act, feelings that have created this current position and situation in which you live. What you see in front of you is a manifestation of what other people felt was the right thing to do. Even in prideful inertia, people still do what they feel is “right”. However, what is “right” simply is to act with faith in humanity and in the universe. Punishment is a personal experience, when we force others into punishment we are never guaranteed that they have suffered. We cannot spend time making sure others feel pain, when we, ourselves, have so much pain to absolve.

This is a heavy burden we carry that we may not have even realized we carry. We carry a burden that history has let rogue and presently it sits on our shoulders. A system of structural concern, a government whose purpose is to govern and control the extent to which others express a prideful ignorance… or are they trying to control a prideful vitality now? The line has blurred between which one is “right”, and it has led to political confusion! I will tell you right now, prideful vitality with the whole human race in mind is ideal! It is practical that each person can individually become mindful of the ignorance and the complications prideful inertia ensues. We are used to complications being what is instead of what we are making. If we turn around and view the state of the country and of the world, it can be explicitly seen that those engaged in acts of war and other pseudo autonomous behavior are dedicating their lives to ignore this very simple, fundamental human characteristic in order to combat others whom have. It is simple to want to make life flourish; not for one, but for all.

Photo Credit:

https://qph.ec.quoracdn.net

Synopsis: Modern Day Police “Brutality”

This past Tuesday, an older white colleague of mine walked into my office and asked for my thoughts on the incidents that took place last week.  For the first time, I was forced to opine on the matter, and really put my thoughts together.  Before I go any further, I wanted to first clarify that at this juncture, no one really knows of the totality of circumstances in both the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile shootings, or the Dallas Police incident.  For that reason, my opinion is strictly based on the information that has been disclosed to the media. Based on the information revealed, it does not appear that deadly force was warranted in either the Alton Sterling incident, or the Philando Castile shooting.  Secondly, I want to acknowledge that being a law enforcement officer is an extremely difficult job to hold, and that I truly respect and appreciate all those who choose these career paths. With that being said, however, I can’t say that I am one bit surprised, but rather rudely awoken, by the events that took place last week.

It is not proven that either of these police stops were racially motivated, although it appears that race played at least somewhat of a role in each incident. Based on the premise that it played somewhat of a role, the following account applies.  As a young black man, I am well aware of the fact that racism and racial stereotyping against my kind is still an issue in this country. While I like to think that we have made a lot of progress in that regard, there is still a lot of work to be done. It is no secret that blacks are considered by many to be more of a threat to society, than our white counterparts.  It is also no secret that higher ratios of blacks are more likely to be involved in a life of crime.  Nevertheless, the stereotypes that some close-minded people have of blacks are simply inaccurate.  I am a living example of this fact.

As a 24 year old black male in this country, I like to think that I have done a pretty good job of defying the odds against black men.  I graduated college with a 3.7 cumulative GPA, work a full time job as a settlement agent, and go to law school at night, on a merit based scholarship.  On paper, it is fair to say that I am doing very well for myself; but on the surface, one could never guess.  When I am not dressed up in a suit for work, I like  to wear skinny jeans, foamposites, low brim hats and earrings. I listen to loud “trap music” with my windows down, drink Henny on the rocks when I go out, and watch funny vines of black comedy. Based on my appearance outside of the professional setting and my conduct in my personal life, no one would be able to foresee my academic and/or professional accomplishments.

Now, I am not here to write a mini-bio on myself; instead I am trying to make a point.  The point I am trying to make is that it is completely unfair for us to essentially have a target on our back, simply for looking the way we do. As cliche as it sounds, you can’t judge a book by its cover; and as a black man, it hurts to know that these are still the circumstances that many of us have to live under.  While Northern Virginia is a very diverse area to live, and consequently safe for people of our kind, many in other parts of the country aren’t as “privileged” to live under such conditions. The fact that the freedom to live freely as a black man is essentially a “privilege” is baffling. This country has come way too far to have this issue remain prevalent.

As a reaction, many get mad.  They may protest, they may fight back, they may be even shoot back. To me, that is not the solution.  In my opinion, the best way to put an end to this view of blacks, is by being the change we want to see.  First, we have to put ourselves in position to impact public policy.  This starts by doing the little things such as voting.  By voting, I’m not referring to the presidential elections per se (although that too will help); instead, I am referring to the local elections.  Partake in elections that directly impact your community.  After all, these people that you elect will ultimately play a role in how your community is shaped, more so than a president will.  In addition to voting, we must also aspire to be in position of power.  Go to school, get an education, become someone influential, that way you too can have a say in how things are run. Who knows? You could even be put in position of large scale authority.

Secondly, we have to better ourselves. Yes, I believe that some of us black people contribute to the stereotypes out there. A lot of officers look for probable cause for traffic stops, because they hope the stop will lead to more discoveries.  Many times, this is in fact the case.  We have to put an end to that. We have to conduct ourselves in a better manner, stay away from a life of crime, get respectable jobs, and stop looking for the easy way out. We have to prove the doubters wrong. Interact with people who aren’t of the same upbringing as you, show them that you aren’t half as bad as they may assume.

Lastly, we have to refrain from retaliation.  By retaliating, we aren’t helping ourselves, as we are only conducting ourselves in the manner in which some close minded individuals expect us to.  Two wrongs don’t make a right, and taking our anger out on those who, as a whole, believe it or not, work tirelessly to protect us all, is not the answer. Not all cops are out to get us, and we shouldn’t conduct ourselves as such. This diminishes the desire for these officers to better serve our community, and quite frankly increases the paranoia that they may already have, making them more susceptible to react to our actions, violently. Not all law enforcement officers are close minded, and to do anything that jeopardizes their safety is a big slap in the face.

In sum, while we do not know of all the circumstances that went into the two police shooting incidents that took place last week, it appears that race may have played a role in both.  If that is the case, this should come of as no surprise to anyone; instead it should motivate the blacks in this country to take steps towards being the change that we want to see in society. That is the only way we can turn things around. All things being considered, we cannot let the darkness of the most recent events overcast the overall good work that law enforcement officers do for the nation as a whole. As I previously mentioned, not all cops are crooked.  Likewise, not all whites are close minded; in fact, many aren’t. We must not lose sight of these facts.  Much like we would like to be judged based on our character, and not the stereotypes formed by the close minded, we too must be open minded and not assume that all whites are out to get us. We’ve got to better ourselves, to eliminate these stereotypes.

Photo Credits:

madamenoire.com 

Legacy Solidified: LeBron James

With less than two minutes left to go in the crucial game seven of the 2015/16 NBA season, Andre Iguodala corralled a defensive rebound off of an ill-advised Kyrie Irving shot. All tied at 89-89, a fast break score would put the Warriors up by two points, with about a minute fifty to go.  As Iguodala raced down the court to the basket, for what seemed to be a sure lay up, several of the Cavaliers galloped back, in hopes of contesting the lay up.  Out of nowhere came LeBron James, seemingly shot out of a canon for one of his specialty chase down blocks.  Almost kissing the backboard with this maneuver, LeBron pinned the lay-up against the backboard, in what I would consider the greatest, most important block I have ever seen in my twenty-four years of life. That play, in essence, summed up the determination and drive that LeBron James showcased all finals long, to bring the illusive Larry O’Brien trophy to the land.  That play perfectly illustrated that LeBron was going to do any and everything, as unworldly as it may seem, to make sure that he accomplished this goal.  That play will go down as one of the greatest plays in NBA history.

On the path to this championship, LeBron and the Cavs faced the most difficult circumstances one could think of: facing the best regular season team in NBA history, the 2 time defending league MVP, the coach of the year, a well tested western conference team, a 3-1 deficit, etc., you name it.  They faced it, and they overcame it. LeBron put together what I would consider, in my biased opinion, the greatest NBA finals series in history.  Leading both teams in all major statistical categories, LeBron did just about everything anyone could ask of a man to do on a basketball court.  While he came out pretty passive and indecisive in the first two games, he did what any great NBA superstar would/should do on such a stage: make the right adjustments.  After those two relatively subpar games (for his standard), LeBron went on to finish with 29.7 points, 8.9 assists, 11.3 rebounds, 2.6 steals, 2.3 blocks in 42 minutes per game! These are the type of numbers one could only dream of while fantasizing through the “MyPlayer” mode on NBA 2K. With such a dominating performance, it was needless to say that he was the most valuable player out there amongst a group of world class athletes.

‘alas

Now that LeBron has accomplished what many doubted he would be able to, we are led to discuss the implications of this feat on his legacy.  I, for one, think that he has solidified his place in history as the greatest forward to ever lace ’em up.  I understand that he only has three rings, and that players such as Tim Duncan, Larry Bird, and even Julius Erving might have something to do say about that; however, I think it is a pretty one sided argument.  If you look at the totality of circumstances, LeBron James is undoubtedly the best forward to ever do it.  With 3 championships, 4 regular season MVPs, 3 final’s MVPS, 12 All star selections, 2 All-star MVPs, 2 Olympic Gold Medals, career averages of 27.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists, over the course of 13 NBA seasons, LeBron James is arguably the most decorated player to ever grace a basketball court. His ability to accomplish all of the above referenced, under such a bright constant spotlight, is impressive to say the least.

Despite all the greatness showcased, some critics will always dwell on his shortcomings. One thing that will always haunt LeBron is the fact that he is 3-4 in the NBA finals.  In my opinion, he should’ve been able to at least grab one more in the series against Dallas in 2012. In 2007, the Cavs were simply outmatched. In 2014, he faced a better team.  Last year, he gave his all but wasn’t able to overcome the better, deeper, Warriors team.  In 2012, however, I felt as though LeBron and his Heat teammates let one slip away, especially after a 2-0 series lead.  Critics may not go this deep in their analysis to come up with a fair conclusion; instead, they will always dwell on the fact that 4 championships slipped away from LeBron.  They will dwell on the fact that Michael never lost a finals series, or that Kobe won 5 of 7. They will overlook the circumstances, and instead point to the lack if a takeover mentality.

While the lack of a takeover mentality may nevertheless be a valid criticism, it does not diminish the body of work that LeBron has put together in his 13 seasons as an NBA player.  LeBron, in an unfinished career, has accomplished many goals that some of the greatest players in NBA history could only dream off. In my opinion, the only player stopping LeBron from being dubbed the “Greatest Player of All Time” is of course Michael Jordan. Nevertheless, If he were to decide to retire today, I believe that his work to date would be sufficient to solidify his legacy as the greatest forward to ever do it. Based on the standard he holds himself to, however, I believe that LeBron is coming back for much much more.  After all, he is only 31 years old. Watch out world, we may have more history to discuss in the upcoming years.

Photo Credits:

www.foxnews.com

ftw.usatoday.com

www.al.com 

 

2015/2016 NBA Regular Season: NAYked Truth Awards

The 2015/2016 NBA regular season gave hoop lovers yet another reason to be thankful for the good ole sport of basketball.  From Steph Curry’s heroics, to the Kobe Bryant farewell tour, each day in  this NBA season, up to the very last day, gave hoop fans a reason to tune in.  As the playoffs get under way, it is fitting for me to provide my “two cents” on the various awards that will (if not already done) be handed out,

MVP:

MVP

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

This is a no brainier, no need to argue further; moving on. Just kidding, but in actuality this really doesn’t create much of a debate. Steph Curry has dominated this league all season, in an average of 3 quarters a game. It is quite laughable to watch Steph essentially toy with opponents on a nightly basis, and do so effortlessly. Averaging 30.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and  6.7 assists in just about 34 minutes a game, Steph Curry went on to improve upon the MVP season that he had last year. Although I believed James Harden should’ve been the recipient of the award last year, Steph Curry is in a league of his own when it comes to the award this year. The only other candidate who is somewhat worthy of acknowledgement would be Russell Westbrook; otherwise, this isn’t even a conversation worth having. Steph is currently in a competition with himself to show the best version of himself that we have seen yet. Don’t be surprised if he comes back next season even better.

Rookie of the Year:

Big Kat, aka T.R.O.Y

Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves 

I must admit, when Karl-Anthony Towns was picked first overall by the Timberwolves in last year’s draft, I wasn’t so sure if they were making the right decision. 82 NBA games later, that decision was a no brainer for the Timberwolves front office. His numbers: 18 points and 10 rebounds a game, while impressive, do not do justice to how bright of a future this young Kat really has. The young man can do it all.  From posting up to handling the ball, playing defense to knocking down the long ball, the young man has proven to be leaps and bounds ahead of his peers.  The fact that he won the Skills Competition during the All-Star festivities (yes, a competition that involved NBA guards) goes to show how skilled and versatile he is. I foresee Kat turning into a top 10 player in the league within the next five years.  With the leadership of Coach Tom Thibodeau, I expect Kat to continue to develop, especially on the defensive end. At this present time nevertheless, he is undoubtedly the best rookie from last year’s draft; hence worthy of this award.

Defensive Player of the Year:

Most versatile defender in the league

Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

While this award has already been presented to Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs, I actually believe that Draymond Green was more deserving of the honor.  Kawhi Leonard is undoubtedly the best wing/perimeter defender in the league; however, I believe that Draymond Green has more of an impact defensively on the best team in the league. Draymond can guard any position on the court; from a point guard to a center. With his size and yet agility, he is effective on the pick and roll, as he is able to switch onto any opposing player.  One-on-one, he does as good of a job as anyone of making things difficult for the opposition. On the help side, he is always at the right place at the right time. Whether its stepping in for a charge, playing the passing lanes, or coming from the weak-side for an unexpected block, his defensive awareness is second to none. His contributions on the defensive end undoubtedly played a major role in the record setting year for the Golden State Warriors. For the foregoing reasons, he should’ve been the recipient of the Defensive Player of the Year Award.

Sixth Man of the Year:

Overlooked?

Enes Kanter, Oklahoma City Thunder

Jamal Crawford won this year’s Sixth Man of the Year, and deservingly so; however, I believe that Enes Kanter of the Oklahoma City Thunder was more deserving of the award.  Averaging 13 points and 8 rebounds off the bench, Kanter gave the Thunder a much need ed inside scoring source, one that came in handy when Durant and/or Westbrook needed a breather. His contributions in just over twenty minutes a game undoubtedly helped the Thunder get over some hurdles this season. While many may criticize him for his lack of defensive prowess, I do not take that into heavy consideration, as this award is mostly for players who are able to give their team an offensive punch off the bunch.  If defense was a factor, Jamal Crawford would not have three of these awards.

Most Improved Player of the Year:

Most Improved, no doubt

C.J. McCollum, Portland Trailblazers

The patience C.J. displayed in his first two seasons alone is worthy of some sort of recognition, as we all knew what this young man was capable of doing, if healthy and given the opportunity.  Nevertheless, CJ has taken the opportunity, and run away with it, exceeding expectations along the way.  While CJ’s game might not have improved vastly, he is finally getting the opportunity to showcase it. Making a jump from 7 points a game to 21 is an astronomical leap that is pretty much unheard of. He has gone from being a role player to a legitimate bucket giver in our beloved league. His improvements have earned the backcourt in Portland some much needed recognition, and a well deserved Most Improved Player of the Year award.

Coach of the Year:

Another remarkable season for Steve

Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors

I was hesitant to give this award to Steve, mostly because Luke Walton was at the helm for a good portion of those wins. Had the Celtics have finished 3rd or higher, Brad Stevens would’ve had my vote; however, that isn’t the case and so Steve Kerr essentially wins by default. No NBA team has won more than 73 games, and to lead the team to accomplish this feat is deserving of some recognition. For that reason, Steve (and Luke), you get the award for Coach of the year.

Photo Credits:

www.sportsonearth.com 

www.foxsports.com

www.bigplay.com

thunder.clutchpoints.com

www.foxsports.com

www.geeksandcleats.com

New Music: …Nightslikethis

IMG_1589

For the past few months I’ve been thinking about ways to market this. In our capitalistic society it’s a harsh reality that art has a price tag and that price tag is a reflection how society views an artist and his work.

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Is the artwork genuine? Is it good? Does it have message … and if so what is it ? Can I share this experience? Can I only enjoy it alone? Who else will like it?

Music is no different.

It’s an ironic twist that a platform for expression can be so genuine and pure, yet, have to be packaged and sold to the public using half-truths and in-genuine methods.

At the end of the day though, I’m not here to argue the drawbacks of making music in the system we are in … It’s simply an obstacle an artist has to overcome at a certain point.

For the past few months I’ve been thinking about ways to market this … When it came down to it though, I couldn’t think of a single idea that didn’t seem exploitative, over-the-top, or impractical.

Then I wrote this.

For whatever reason this just felt right. This is exactly how I feel.

… Nightslikethis is about the bullsh*t you have to go through to get to where you want to be. It’s about people who don’t appreciate what you actually do for them. It’s about dealing with depression and anger in ways I hope you never have to. It’s about me and you, my market. My people.

The real, down to earth, cool ass individuals that we are – who never felt the need to be extra.

I sit here and think about the people who lie for exploitative gains and I know I could never be that. Maybe it’s an inherent setback, maybe I just don’t want to do it. Either way, I know what belief I can die for happily.

Like a young Al Pacino said, “I never f*cked anyone over in my life that didn’t have it coming to them.”

They’ll never fake this this mentality. They might fake being honest but they’ll never fake being real.

-remRemyMartin.

Tracklist:

01. Ex-Machina (Heartless II)

02. Honestly

03. Selfish

04. JB Interlude

05. …Nightslikethis

06. Goodnite

07. Shots

08. Emotional

09. Never Real….

 

The Life of Pablo

 

Album Artwork

Saint Valentine’s Day. An annual Christian holiday (although is it really a holiday?) celebrated on February 14. Its origin is subject to many interpretations, but one of the widely told legends revolves around Saint Valentinus of Ancient Rome. As the story goes, Valentinus was captured and imprisoned for practicing the Christian faith and overseeing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. Remaining true to his moral compass, Valentinus healed the ailing daughter of his jailer, Asterius. Prior to his eventual execution, he penned a letter to the woman and signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell.

Today, Kanye West returns from his hiatus to deliver his own valentine in the form of Pablo: The Life of Pablo. The EXTEMELY, long-awaited continuation of his 2013 release was originally slated to drop this past Thursday, but later delayed in true Kanye West fashion. “BLAME CHANCE” he exclaimed from his twitter account. Yeezy himself intended to make a classic down to the very last minute. Those who vehemently dismiss the Chicago native’s previous project will find gratitude in the Ye’s return to his lyrical roots.

TLOP is arguably one of Ye’s best works production-wise. The album, which I liken to sonic gold, is reminiscent of the College Dropout and Late Registration mixed masterfully with the futuristic sounds of YEEZUS. If anything this album is a reminder to everyone that ye may have fell off, but he most certainly did not lose his perfectionist touch. The album features guest appearances from Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin, Chance the Rapper, Kid Cudi, Future and many more. May I also add that these features are all in the first two tracks? Yeah. Let that sink in.

So, who exactly is Pablo? In my honest opinion, I thought he was referencing notorious, Columbian drug lord, Pablo Escobar. My reason for this being Pablo was so untouchable at one point in time and was the inspiration for the “Scarface” motion picture who many characterize as a “God” himself. Obviously I was wrong though as Kanye himself referenced in a 2015 Oxford University lecture, “My goal, if I was going to do art, fine art, would have been to become Picasso or greater”. Whether you’ve rocked with his music since “Through the Wire” or still hold a bitter taste in your mouth when he grabbed the microphone out of Taylor Swift’s hand, we have to give Kanye credit for the dedication and precision he delivers in his music.

Pablo opens with a sermon on “Ultralight Beam” asking God to deliver the world love, peace and serenity. You don’t have to be religious in order to be moved by the performances by The-Dream and Kelly Price (Her voice makes you want to get down on your knees and repent for the sins you’ve committed. Seriously, Miss Price, your voice is heaven.) As if the track couldn’t get any better, Chance The Rapper conveys his sixteen bars while referencing one of Ye’s famous lines: “I made Jesus Walks, im never going to hell” with “I made Sunday Candy, “I’m never going to hell. I met Kanye West, I’m never going to fail.” There is no deny the influence the God of rap has supplied to the game and this gospel-esque track is seemingly appropriate for an introduction.

It’s not long before Yeezy snaps especially on “Feedback”. “Ayy, y’all heard about the good news? Y’all sleeping on me, huh? Had a good snooze?” Mr. West has awakened. He says, “If Hov J then every Jordan need a Rodman”. It’s unfair to compare the careers of Jay Z and Kanye, but it happens anyway. Jordan and Rodman played together for three seasons and won a total of three rings together. While J’s résumé rivals that of Jordan’s, Ye’s flamboyant and bizzare style must not be overlooked as one of the all-time greats.

One of the more important songs on the album is none other than a song named after the man himself, “I Love Kanye”. Kanye flexes his weight on music, fashion and pop culture on freestyle. “See I invented Kanye, it wasn’t any kanye’s and now I look around and there’s so many Kanye’s.” Artists such as Drake, Childish Gambino, Lupe Fiasco, Kid Cudi, Chance the Rapper and others to name a few, would not have been able to successfully break out, if not for 808’s and Heartbreak. Ye’s presence is felt in numerous forms and its time we recognize it.

It would be disrespectful to proclaim the return of the old Kanye as I am in no position to judge another man’s art or any art in that matter. But what I can say is that he returns to the elements, which skyrocketed his career to begin with. The Life of Pablo may not be the greatest album ever, but it certainly is the album of the year thus far and must be considered as one of Kanye’s best.

Photo Credits:

musicfeeds.com.au

Kobe Bryant: The End of An Era

This past weekend, Kobe Bryant revealed to the world that yes, much like most of us probably anticipated, he will be retiring from the NBA at the end of the season.  Although this news was expected, it came as a surprise because it is very rare for us to see Kobe concede to anything.  As all great athletes have/will come to notice, however, father time will always prevail.  Accepting that he is no longer superhuman, and that he too has fallen victim to father time is probably the most difficult thing Kobe will have to do in his career.  While some of his fans are probably relieved to see him hang it up after what has been a woeful season so far, the basketball fandom at large is saddened by this news, as this will inevitably mark the end of an era.

With 17 all-star game appearances, 5 NBA titles, 2 finals MVPs and 1 regular season MVP,  Kobe Bryant will ultimately go down as the 2nd best shooting guard to ever lace them up (barring any other super humans morphing into the league).  He has had as decorated of an NBA career as one could possibly have.  The most impressive thing about it was that he did it all with one team.  Kobe dedicated 20 years of his life (more than 50% of his existence) to being a central piece to the success of the Laker franchise.  For that very reason, he is in my opinion the greatest Laker of all time (yes, over Magic, Kareem, Wilt, and Jerry West himself).

Kobe created many memories for us hoop fans.  From dropping 81 against the Raptors, to hanging 12 threes on the Supersonics, to the countless game winners he hit, we will never forget the thrilling moments he left us.  Although I wouldn’t categorize myself as a Kobe fan, he always put on a show every time I watched him.  His footwork, for a guard, was impeccable.  His fundamentals was off the chain, and his competitive nature was second to none.    From the 8 era to the 24 era, Kobe gave fans, and peers alike, a reason to tune in to Laker games on any given night.

The one criticism I have of Kobe is that unlike the many greats who have graced us with their game, he was not original.  From his game to his demeanor and even mannerisms, Kobe was essentially a clone of Michael Jordan.  Considering how well he was able to replicate Michael, however, he ended up having one hell of a career.  That is nevertheless a knock on his greatness because he wasn’t one of a kind.  He was one of Jordan’s kind.  Unlike a Barkley, a Bird, a Steph Curry or a LeBron, Kobe was not the first of his mold.  To take it a step further, he wasn’t even the best of his mold.  Fortunately for him, however, being the second best of his mold was sufficient to earn him a spot on the list of 10 greatest players in NBA history.

In sum, Kobe will be missed by the game of basketball.  He gave the game everything he had, and that is one thing we can never take away from him.  His hard work and determination will inevitably earn him a spot in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame one day, and in the rafters at the Staples center.  I don’t expect to see Kobe get into coaching post retriement, as I couldn’t imagine him having the patience to lead a group of guys less talented than he is; however, I expect him to stay connected to the game one way or another.  Maybe as a GM or possibly as an owner (again, following in the footsteps of Michael).  One thing is certain, however: Kobe will always be remembered as one of the best to ever do it….and so it is only right that the Nike checks keep coming in.

Photo Credits:

empirenews.net 

Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice

Abortion is a controversial topic of the highest order, when it comes to moral implications of policy setting.  Child birth is a subject that is dear to all of our hearts because we are all a direct result thereof.  The topic of abortion is one that is particularly conflicting to my personal views as a Christian man, who also believes in the right to freedom.  Abortion is terrible in so many ways.  One, I believe that it is murder, as it constitutes the killing of an entity, that would have otherwise developed into a human.  Two, I believe that it is an easy escape for many who refrain from taking the necessary steps in contraception  to prevent a situation which they are not ready for (I say many and not all, because there are some few situations where women are raped…which we will touch on later).  Lastly, and arguably most importantly, abortion prevents what could have been a beautiful creation from taking place.  Had our parents chosen to abort us, none of us would be here today; and look how wonderful we turned out?

On the other hand, to proceed with an abortion is a choice that one should have.  First, it is, I believe, a freedom; and so an infringement thereof could be considered a deprivation of a right.  Secondly, abortion can be considered a method of alleviation of a “burden” for the mother.  Now, this is not to say that a child is a burden; rather, the circumstance that may arise from being placed in such a predicament may be viewed as such. An abortion can help one cope with such an unplanned scenario.  Lastly, an abortion is sometimes a necessity.  This isn’t in reference to health situations, where an abortion is sometimes necessary in order to save a mother’s life; this is rather in reference to situations where a pregnancy is the result of a rape, and consequently the mother would like to get rid of any remembrances of the occurrence.  In such situations, an abortion can be deemed necessary.

Given the two contrasts, it is easy to understand (at least from an objective perspective) why one could be for or against abortion.  Personally, I am conflicted because from a moral standpoint, I should be pro-life; however, from a libertarian standpoint I should be pro-choice.  This leads to my compromising view on the subject.  I believe that the right to an abortion should be given to women; however, I believe that women, despite the option, should always choose to keep the life.  Life is too precious to give up.  There are many women who attempt wholeheartedly to reproduce to no avail.  If given the opportunity, I believe that all women should chose to keep the baby.  It may not be convenient, but there are always ways to accommodate. If that means working twice as hard as you do to sustain two lives as opposed to one, or altering your life goals to accommodate for the extra life, I think it is worth it in the long run.  Again, keep in mind that none of us would be here today if our parents had chosen to abort us.  Lastly, if all fails, you always have the option of giving the child up for adoption.  If you aren’t in the position to care for an offspring, there are many people out there who would be more than happy to alleviate you of this “burden.”

In sum, both pro-life and pro-choice activists have very convincing arguments to make a case for their respective positions.  It isn’t hard for an objective person to see why one may feel one way or the other.  With that being said however, the best compromise is to give the freedom to an abortion, in hopes that those with that freedom will elect to forgo of that liberty.  If abortion is abolished, that closes the door for those who feel strongly against keeping an unwanted baby, whereas allowing that freedom still provides the hope that even those libertarians could chose not to go that route.  That, to me, is the most rational and impartial path to take.

Photo Credit:

blogs.baruch.cuny.edu

NBA Countdown: The Tristan Thompson Saga

We are all just as puzzled as Tristan looks here

The NBA season is about a week away and most teams are well prepared for the highly anticipated return of our beloved sport.  Players are starting to get back into basketball shape, as the intensity of 2-a-days increases.  One team that has been eagerly waiting for the reconvening on the NBA season is the Cleveland Cavaliers.  After losing a hard fought finals against the healthier, deeper, and quite frankly more talented Golden State Warriors, the Cavs have been looking forward to the opportunity to redeem themselves.  Unfortunately for them, a pivotal piece to this redemptive army is currently out of the picture, fighting his own personal battle.  Tristan Thompson, the Cavs’ playoff hero who made a name for himself this past post season, is currently using his playoff performance as leverage in seeking a contract extension.  Coming off a terrific NBA finals, where he averaged 13 rebounds and two defeated Warrior bigs per game, Tristan Thompson and his agent Rich Paul initially came out seeking a 5 year contract for 94 million.  After a soft decline by the Cavaliers, the crafty agent, who was able to also get Eric Bledsoe a similar deal last year, revised his request, asking for a 3 year 53 million deal.  The Cavaliers are yet to agree to this proposal and make an official bid, as they are presumably sticking to their 5 year 80 million offer.  That leads us to ponder what Tristan Thompson’s worth as an NBA player really is.

Over his 4 year NBA career, Tristan Thompson has been nothing more than a role player who excels very well at his job.  He is known to create havoc on the offensive glass, corral a few on the defensive end as well, and block a shot or two every now and then.  With his consistent effort on the offensive glass, and his athletic ability to catch lobs, it is inevitable that he will score a few points here and there.  Over the past season, he proved that his relentlessness on the offensive boards can create many problems for the opposition, and consequently favorable outcomes for his team.  With all that said however, Tristan Thompson is a one dimensional player in that his effort and energy is essentially all that he provides to a team at the present time.  His offensive capabilities are limited at best, as he isn’t of the caliber to consistently provide low-post scoring, or even floor spacing.  Defensively, he is at times a good help-side deterrence; however, his efforts on that end aren’t strong enough to make that a specialty worth a huge reward.

All things considered, Tristan Thompson is certainly not worth the asking price that his agent Rich Paul is trying to obtain.  While he is undoubtedly valuable, he is NOT irreplaceable, and not a star quality player.  With the return of Anderson Varejao, the Cavs already have a player more than capable of providing the same intangibles that a Tristan Thompson provides to a team.  With Love, Mozgov, and Varejao, the Cavs already have a solid 3 man rotation upfront (not to mention that LeBron can at times play the four).  Surely, it would be nice to have the luxury of bringing a Tristan Thompson off of one’s bench; however, that luxury is not worth the current inflated asking price.  It is absurd to think that Tristan Thompson should be receiving the same salary as a John Wall, or even an Eric Bledsoe (no offense, Tristan).  By my estimation, Tristan Thompson’s value as a basketball player shouldn’t cost a team more than 9 to 13 million dollars per anum.   On a championship caliber team like the Cavaliers, where many players take a pay-cut to make room for other winning role players, Tristan Thompson and his negotiating team have got to lower their expectations.  I highly suggest that Tristan and mastermind Rich Paul come back to earth and graciously accept the 5 year 80 million offer that the Cavs have offered, before they too wake up and retract the offer.  I sure would hate to see Tristan sit out a season (or majority of it) for this debacle, although it is looking very possible at this point.

Photo Credit:

www.cbssports.com

 

Mass Shootings at Universities: the Latest Episode

This past week, the United States of America fell victim yet again to another mass shooting that took place at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.  The shooter, Chris Harper-Mercer, successfully killed nine students, and injured nine others.  Although it was later discovered that all 13 firearms that the shooter possessed were legally obtained, I am not here to advocate gun control (although that would certainly help, as most of these mass shooter in recent years have been known to utilize legally obtained weapons in their rampages).  Instead, I am here to voice my concerns about how easy it is for a potential mass shooter to not only enter a school campus, but even potentially live there with these firearms.

As a recent college graduate, who is back in school pursing a juris doctorate degree, I cannot help but to fear for my safety, knowing that there aren’t necessarily any stringent procedures that would potentially prevent such an occurrence from taking place.  Although I trust that my fellow future lawyers are all mentally stable and not ill-minded, you can never be too sure.  While the school undoubtedly has security guards/police, they aren’t necessarily in every class and every location on the campus at all times; who’s to say that they would be present if a gunman were to invade a class which he/she is rightfully a part of?  If present, who’s to say that the security/police would be able to have any deterrent impact?

From my college experience, I can confidently say that if I were to have ever possessed a gun on campus, it is very unlikely that anyone would have ever known.  From my travels around the campus, to my dorm experience, there were no interventions  that would’ve prevented me from such.  While this freedom and lack of intrusion is great, it is almost bothersome looking back.  Take for example going to a lecture, where some of the students are commuters; what if one of the students felt the need to one day bring a gun to class and end all of our lives, what would’ve prevented this from taking place?  This is not by any means an attack on my previous (and current) institution(s) for their safety precautions, or lack thereof, as I am aware that these conditions exists at every college/university that I’ve ever had any direct or indirect encounter with.  This is rather a proclamation that the problem needs to be addressed holistically from the upper ups.

Protective measures should be in place and enforced at all times, at all places, on all campuses/universities.  Although it may be costly to implement, all main entrances to every lecture hall, dorm, cafeteria, gym, etc. on every campus should be equipped with weapon detectors.  This will be the first line of defense against any civilians or students who may be brave enough to bring firearms to such places.  Secondly, there needs to be easily accessible, trained, security/police on staff to react in a timely manner, if the detector was to discover anything worthy of suspicion.  Lastly, the security on staff must be equipped and ready to combat the potential attack if need be.  While I am strongly against turning college campuses into some sort of quasi-war zone, I would much rather have that be the case, as opposed to the alternative of having vulnerable establishments where students are at the mercy of potential attackers on any given day.  Pursuing a collegiate or post-bachelor’s degree is already stressful as is; students shouldn’t have to worry about their safety in addition to that.  Rest in peace to all the lives we have lost in recent years due to many of such occurrences, and we certainly hope that this occurrence in Oregon will be the last.

Photo Credits:

reutersmedia.net

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